Degustation is a French word which can be translated into meaning “a careful, appreciative tasting of various foods focusing on the senses using high culinary art”. I have always been a huge fan of tasting menus as they allow me to taste a myriad of different dishes and leave me so insanely full that I never feel like I missed out. This style of dining is one best done slowly with good company and conversation which makes me thankful that my dear husband loves “degos” as much as I do. As you can imagine, for my recent solo trip to Barcelona I became emotionally torn; do I have a degustation in a city known for its fabulous food ON MY OWN? Is that too weird? I had read great things about Michelin starred Restaurant Nectari where their Chef Jordi Esteve offers a gluten free tasting menu complete with matching wines. Nectari opened their doors nearly five years ago and since then they have worked toward earning a well-known reputation for their service and food leading to receiving their first Michelin Star in 2013.
I tried to visualise myself sitting alone in a restaurant eating a ten course meal and decided that although I could do it I would be less conspicuous at lunchtime. I arranged my booking via email before leaving Australia but on my arrival I was met with a few surprised looks, mainly because I was on my own and regrettably spoke negligible Spanish. I was ushered into the empty restaurant, looked around at the vacant seats and started to wonder if this was all a big mistake. I tried to remind myself that the Spanish eat out late, and that it would be normal to find a restaurant empty on a week day.
My nervousness was soon to pass as my waitress for the day approached me with such genuine warmth that I immediately felt at ease. I quickly learnt she was a cat person and before long we were exchanging feline stories in broken English. My amuse bouche was so colourful with four very different mouthfuls of deliciousness; a spoonful of fresh raw salmon with a sliver of creamy egg frittata, a fold of mango wrapped in jamón, fresh mandarin with mozzarella and a quail egg on top of olive purée. Some home-made gluten free olive and spiced tomato breads were also brought to the table with a selection of local olive oils to choose from.
In my excitement to share my first course on Instagram I completely forgot to take a photo with my SLR camera “Gordon” and therefore only have this iPhone shot. Sorry peeps! The soup was a mussel cream served with sesame and green oil. Even though it was served cold it had a rich, strong flavour. Hidden in the bottom was a single super sweet prawn.
The foie gras terrine was served with an unusual combination of watermelon coulis, pistachio and fresh strawberries. Each sliver was decadent and creamy with a sweet after-taste accentuated by the coulis. Crunchy almond biscuits with a hint of black pepper provided a textural contrast.
Staying true to the Chef’s traditional Spanish roots his next course was a glammed up gazpacho. Freshly poached lobster, caramelised roasted almonds, melon sorbet and jamón were all gently engulfed by the vibrant gazpacho as it was poured into my bowl tableside.
My palate was entertained with layers of fruity coolness interrupted intermittently by the crunch of a roasted nut or smoked piece of jamón. This was an outstanding dish.
The next course was described as “sting ray with carrot sauce and mussels”. I wished my Spanish was better so I could further enjoy the details that she described of this dish. Each piece of fish was delicate and soft, shredding easily under my fork. The sauce was surprisingly syrupy and sweet.
The following course was the only dish I didn’t thoroughly enjoy; prawn and mushroom dumplings with a seafood sauce. The dumplings were a little chewy and their contents were too salty for my liking.
Before the main course I was served a refreshing passionfruit sorbet “for my digestion” topped with a sugar crusted miniature mint leaf. After the briny dumplings it was a welcome cleanser for my taste buds.
The rack of lamb was served very rare which is thankfully just how I like it. I visualised in my mind some of my more conservative friends gasping at the deep red colour and lack of brown sear on the meat. It was served with a bright red pepper sauce and roasted green garlic. The green garlic was quite mild in flavour but even so I knew there would be no vampires attacking me on my walk back to the hotel.
The cheese plate included Tous del Tillers, Comte and Gorgonzola. Tous del Tillers is a raw cow’s milk cheese from the Catalan province of Lleida and had Brie-like bloomy rind and rich creamy centre. Comte is a semi-hard unpasteurised cheese from France and is thus is hard to obtain in Australia. It has a complex, nutty flavour and similar texture to Gruyère. Many of you will be much more familiar with Gorgonzola as this is a regular feature on many cheese platters back in Perth.
My dessert was quite an unusual surprise. A shimmering gold bullion shaped block of rich chocolate mousse sat comically on my plate. As I plunged my spoon into its foamy texture, thick cranberry liquor oozed out. It was magical and unexpected. The combination of tart and sweet was perfectly balanced and ended this experience on a high note.
As my petit fours was brought to the table I realised that I had journeyed through a whole ten course degustation on my own without once feeling bored or lonely. For someone who is normally highly gregarious I felt this to be a big achievement. I have to confess however the restaurant DID have WIFI allowing me to skate across a number of social media platforms for the duration of my meal. The lunch ended with the chef coming out to my table wanting to get my feedback and to make sure that I enjoyed my meal. A lovely personal touch.
Nectari RestaurantCarrer València, 28 08015 Barcelona | 932 26 87 18 | www.nectari.es Price: $$$ (Awarded One Michelin Star 2013, caters for gluten free) Food: 4.5/5 (presented exquisitely and passionately, fresh flavours with local influences) Service: 4/5 (one of the waitresses speaks reasonable English, otherwise best learn Spanish) Ambience: 3.5/5 (hard to assess as I dined at an unusual time in the middle of the week and day) Drinks: 4/5 (beautifully matched wines choosing predominately local wines) Total: 16/20
After landing in Singapore on the overnight flight from Perth I was accompanied by the Boy and one of my business partners Woki to attend a friend’s wedding at the Fairmont Hotel. Not willing to be discouraged by our lack of sleep we refused to waste our free day and spent most of it exploring the city. We conveniently ended our self-guided tour at Ku De Ta which is situated on the 57th level of one of the three Marina Bay Sands (MBS) towers. Sipping our drinks we watched a blanket of dark ominous clouds slowly envelop the city from our viewpoint on high and by the time the tropical storm reached us we were all seriously hungry. We headed back downstairs in search of some food.
Back on the ground floor foyer, we were served by a small framed, elegant woman who kindly took great trouble to ring around a few restaurants in the complex in search of a table. She managed to secure us a booking at Guy Savoy, one of the “celebrity restaurants” at the Casino. The only time available was just an hour away yet there we stood all wind-swept, sweaty and in no way presentable for fine dining.
Jumping in a cab the Boy, Woki and I made a mad dash to return to our hotel but as we crawled inch by inch through peak hour traffic I started to feel the tension among us rising. By this point, the monsoonal downpour was in full force and I could barely see the road in front of us. Jumping out of the cab to proceed on foot was completely out of the question!
Upon our return to Fairmont Hotel we quickly raced upstairs dripping wet to our rooms. With my heart pounding in excitement I flurried about spraying my hair with a ton of hair products and my face with a lathering of makeup. After the finishing touch of a smear of bright red lipstick I prayed my transformation into something more elegant was successful.
However, our building anticipation was not to end there. It almost felt like fate was against us as we ended up taking the wrong train, got off on the wrong station and then took a full circle route on foot of the entire MBS complex before we could actually find the restaurant. Let me tell you, it is not well signposted and MBS is huge!
A little flustered and nauseatingly hungry we were seated at our table ready for the fun to begin. Our meal was kick-started by a few adorable bite size canapés.
The gluten eaters received a pint-sized foie gras club sandwich and similarly Lilliputian cube of parmesan waffle.
My gluten free canapés included a spoonful of miniature cubes of beetroot sprinkled with black truffle on a herb purée and some finely grated apple with baby celery leaves on an almond crumble.
As we allowed these flavours to entertain our palate, our waiter wheels out an old polished wood trolley with a whole leg of Joselito’s Ibérico de Bellota Jamón. Ibérico jamón is a type of ham made from black Iberian pigs that are kept free range on pasture and oak groves where they feast on a diet of acorns, grass, herbs and roots. Joselito’s Ibérico jamón is world famous for being the best ham in world and wholesale prices start at around $600 for a small leg and can get well over $3000-4000 for an aged leg. They pride themselves on raising “happy pigs” and believe this is a major factor in their meat quality.
The waiter carved in front of us about a dozen slices straight off the bone. Dark purple in colour and with multiple thread-like veins of white fat coursing through the meat; the wafer thin slivers of ham nearly dissolved on contact with my tongue. Eating Joselito jamón is quite an unforgettable foodie’s experience and I highly recommend that you try it yourself if you ever have the chance.
The unusual pretzel shaped bread was unfortunately not gluten free and as there wasn’t any gluten free bread option I had to satisfy myself by just having a brief sniff of its fresh doughy aroma. I cannot deny it is always a little disappointing when I visit fine dining institutions such as this and a gluten free bread option is overlooked. Not that I really needed bread given the enormous meal we were about to enjoy!
Our Amuse Bouche was a chilled Vichyssoise-styled soup made from leek, potatoes and cream. The addition of fennel gave a slightly sweet and refreshing after-taste. Curiously hidden under the small mug of thick soup contained two little half spheres of fennel and leek “royale”, basically a smooth lime green custard topped with minuscule little micro herbs and pea sized blobs of herb purée. With the subtle sweetness of the fennel in the soup still lingering, this little dollop served to extend and enhance the ambrosial experience with utmost precision.
Both the Boy and Woki ordered the “crab with multi-coloured beetroot variations” for their entrée. The concept of this dish was to “marry land and sea”. The blood red and lemon yellow shavings of roasted beets were curled into cone like flowers. Each little beet “flower” was filled with a foamy light beetroot blancmange followed by delicate portions of the cooked Australian Spanner crab meat. Savoury shortbread crumble and flecks of beetroot crisps sprinkled over the dish to add more complexity.
Alongside the salad was served a warm golden beetroot tartlet containing hints of cardamom and orange. The pastry collapsed in the mouth like fairy floss. It lay on top of a wafer thin square of transparent paper that looked a bit like cellophane. We were informed this was salt paper and was entirely edible. Despite the tart being the accompaniment, both the boy and our companion agreed it was the star of the two components.
This photo of my entrée is not my own and is courtesy of the restaurant. My mosaic of poulard, foie gras and artichoke was by far and by large the highlight of the evening yet for some strange reason it completely bypassed me to take a photo. Like a bizarre form of savoury layer cake, thick door stop-sized slices of young fattened poulard, wedges of soft foie gras and similar textured artichoke sat relatively unimpressively on my plate. They were accompanied by two precisely equal sized blobs of black truffle vinaigrette. The appearance of this dish does in no way make one’s mouth water; which is perhaps why my photography was overlooked. However just one mouthful of these three simple ingredients with a conservative smear of the vinaigrette and you will change your mind forever. This dish was absolutely mind-blowing; the rich buttery elegance showed true respect for the ingredients with no need for embellishment.
As we waited for our mains to arrive out came a little prequel, some sort of intermission entertainment I guess; named the Chestnut Royale. Now I am quite partial to chestnuts, yet I rarely see them feature on the menus in Australia. They always conjure up memories of walking down the streets of Paris where street vendors roast them everywhere in the winter. This innocent looking dish was quite a taste sensation. A perfectly formed dome of smooth chestnut custard sat swimming in a light bed of chestnut milk. Carefully placed on top a milk glazed chestnut glistened under the dim lighting garnished with tiny little pygmy sized celery leaves and chestnut chips.
Woki thoroughly enjoyed his “Shoulder of Australian Wagyu in two preparations”. By using an oyster blade steak or “paleron” as it is called by the French, the meat contained wondrous marbling and flavour. The first portion was braised in a red wine jus topped with baby carrots and a black pepper mignonette. The second portion of beef was purely just seared and garnished with dollops of wasabi. Both portions of beef sliced like butter at room temperature as good Wagyu should.
The accompanying side dish of potato Maxim’s and bitter greens was comparatively lacklustre and did not wow Woki at all.
I ordered the pan seared duck breast with eggplant “gianduja” sauce and “au poivre”. I was informed by our waiter that in order to achieve the creamy pate-like texture of the meat the duck breast was seared, then cooked sous vide, and then finally seared again. On my plate balanced so carefully like a stack of cards were thin slivers of eggplant served with gianduja chocolate sauce. The sauce tasted a little reminiscent of Nutella due to its high hazelnut content. Tiny little purple delight flowers scattered amongst the eggplant giving a splash of colour and bitter flavour. The duck was richly flavoured and buttery tender and left me wanting more.
My side dish was potato tagliatelle; thin ribbon like curls of deep fried potato. This was the only dish I ate that I felt was a little lacking. Perhaps some seasoning would have improved this element however even if that were the case it felt a little mismatched to the fabulous duck dish.
The Boy ordered the “Saddle, rack and shoulder of lamb; Land and Sea”. Unfortunately for him, after being left relatively unimpressed with his entrée choice his main didn’t manage to suitably wow him either. The main part of his dish contained a roasted rack of lamb placed on an almond and hazelnut praline. The saddle of lamb was stuffed with bamboo clams and pan roasted. Next to the lamb I recognised some emerald-green samphire on his plate; something we were introduced to during our beautiful lunch at Millbrook Winery last year where the chef forages it from the banks of the Swan River.
The second part to his dish was his favourite. The shoulder of the lamb was braised and wrapped in thinly sliced potatoes and topped with sprinklings of purple potato crisps. I recall the waiter mentioned that this component contained melted onions so I didn’t get to taste it! This dish was apparently seasoned in the bamboo clam jus.
By this point in time in the night I was starting to receive a number of subtly concerned looks from the Boy and knew he was worried as to how much this meal was going to cost us. He is never been one to be a killjoy by any means and during our near fifteen years together we have shared some highly priced memorable meals together. But he is also a sensible man, and he knew all too well that just coming over to Singapore alone was breaking the budget so close to our wedding, so enjoying a four figure fine dining experience was definitely going to break the bank. A smart move from me at this would have been to proclaim total fullness and call it a night.
And then out came the cheese trolley. And all my sensibility went out the window. My thoughts of finances, savings and budgets temporarily felt incredibly less important. Our dinner companion Woki was no help either. Being a father to two little ones means he rarely gets to experience such incredible culinary excellence and wanted to make the most of our evening. After a long consideration we settled for three cheeses: the curious looking Mimolette, Fourme d’Ambert and most dear to my heart Saint Marcellin; a cheese produced by my late uncle Jeannot’s factory in the Alps of France.
The Fourme d’Ambert is a very mild blue cheese that is considered to be one of France’s oldest cheeses dating back to Roman times. It is a semi-hard cheese made with cow’s milk and has a luscious creamy texture and leaves a slightly sweet earthy mushroom after-taste.
The Mimolette had such a curious appearance that it was our wild card choice for the evening. The cheese looked like a cross between a rock melon and a dusty cannonball. It was a hard round ball with a pocked dimpled surface. I later learnt that the dimpled appearance is actually due to the activity of surface mites that burrow their way through the surface rind which in turn allows the cheese to breathe and mature. From the heart of this bizarre rock, our waiter scooped out some bright orange brittle cheese. It tasted quite unexpectedly sweet and caramelised, and felt like you were eating a hybrid of fudge and cheese, but in a good way.
Our portion of the Saint Marcellin cheese regrettably wasn’t warmed to room temperature and thus failed to relax into that sexy goo I have enjoyed many times before. I was very disappointed because for a number of years I have been talking up about this cheese to Woki. It is not easy to come by in Australia and this was his first time trying it.
For some reason the next two following pre-dessert dishes managed once again to escape my camera. I think I was a little distracted by my growing concern as the impending bill. Our first pre-dessert was so delectable that Woki jokingly exclaimed to the waiter that it was “no good” and that we all requested another one. His sarcasm was lost on our waitress and with a worried look she scuttled away to get us another serve.
We were too full to order a dessert but were tempted by the trolley of “petit fours”-styled mini-serves of ice cream, sorbet and biscuits and each tried a little portion for ourselves.
Just when we thought the near theatrical dining experience was over, as I sipped on my peppermint tea an Earl Grey Sorbet was delivered to our table for a final palate cleanse. Served on top of a black pepper crème anglaise the subtle flavours of the bergamot from the tea left a very refreshing end to our wondrous meal. Suffice to say, the Boy was right; we are still paying back our share of the meal to Woki!Guy Savoy The Shoppes, Atrium 2 L2-01, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956 | +65 6688 8513 | www.guysavoy.com Price: $$$$$ Food: 4.7/5 (my choices were nearly faultless but there were some hits & misses at my table) Service: 5/5 (very knowledgeable and attentive with a noticeable lack of any pretension) Ambience: 3.5/5 (a little formal and stuffy but some fabulous views) Drinks: 4/5 (very extensive wine list but a considerable mark up on bottle prices) Total: 17.2/20
My soon to be parents-in-law are always complaining that they never get to spend enough time with us. Both the Boy and I have pretty hectic careers, so when we do actually have a bit of spare time, we want to spend it out and about enjoying good food and company. So when Christmas approached us last year, instead of buying his parents a gift, we offered to take them out to a fancy meal all expenses paid.
Just as we managed to lock in a weekend for our dinner, we were blessed with our brand new little niece who was born on the other side of the world in Texas! The Boy’s parents jumped on the first plane out to the States and didn’t return back for three months! We were all so envious of them as they got to meet her and we cannot wait to eventually get over there ourselves.
Upon their return to Australia I was keen to book our outing as soon as possible. This was meant to be their Christmas present after all! The timing worked out quite well because we were in the thick of the truffle season and neither of them had ever had either degustation OR truffles before! I booked at Clarke’s of North Beach as it is local to their house.
Those who have met me you know I am a bit of a talker; however my dearest mother in-law gives me a run for my money in the talking stakes. As a result my usual attentive listening skills were lost amongst all our animated gas bagging and I missed much of the descriptions of our dishes! I will do my best to remember. Forgive me if my distracted palate is incorrect.
The Amuse Bouche was a braised beef shin with cauliflower foam. It contained very interesting combinations of textures; with shredded tender shin accompanied by barely existent foam and the crisp crunch of calamari. It entertained our palates perfectly and we were ready for more.
We opted for the truffle supplement which meant that once every dish was served, our waiter came over to our table donning white cotton gloves and shaved fresh black truffle over each of our dishes. The Linley Valley pork belly entrée was beautifully cooked; the fat was soft like custard and the surface of the crackling had a caramelised shimmer to it. It was sprinkled with “crackle dust” and a variety of textures of apple decorated the plate.
The next entrée was a sliver of King George Whiting, scallop and snapper mouse. The whiting was pan-fried to give a subtle crisp to its surface which contrasted beautifully with the smooth mousse and succulent pillow of scallop. Although not specified on the menu there was also some fresh salmon which added an oilier almost satiny element to this dish. Shavings of fresh black truffle once again graced our plates. The Boy’s Dad swallowed this dish in a few quick mouthfuls, but his Mum deliberated in taking her time, differentiating out all the different flavours. She was learning the art of degustation quickly!
Our next dish was an optional one and when I saw the words “slow cooked egg” on the menu my heart leaped with excitement. My introduction to slow cooked eggs happened quite some time ago at Greenhouse and since then I insist on ordering them wherever I see them. They are like the holy grail of poached eggs to me and I am so elated when I see them feature on menus other than just for breakfast!
In order to successfully cook a slow cooked egg, one must cook them at a much lower temperature of about 60 degrees for 1 hour. The end result is like an improved version of a perfectly poached egg. The egg white has a nearly translucent appearance and the yolk is perfectly molten. Imagine this served over a pulled ham hock cassoulet! The cassoulet was wonderfully deep and rich in flavour but unfortunately there was no gluten free replacement for the brioche for me, considering the price of our meal this was a bit of a disappointment ($155 per person, not including BYO wines). I watched enviously as my family all mopped up the delicious juices pooling in the bottom of their plates.
Some may remember my most recent degustation at Petit Mort for the last in the series of Largesse dinners. For these amazing dinners the Head Chefs from six award-winning restaurants from around Perth donated their talents and time to each create one dish to contribute toward a six course extravaganza. All of the proceeds from the evenings went toward a charity of the host chef’s choosing. The head chef of Clarke’s Stephen Clarke was one of these six chefs and his braised Venison shin with Foie Gras Espuma was a definite show stopper for us all.
The foie gras espuma featured again in this dish but a much larger more generous glob was piped out this time round! The confit leg was encased in chicken mousse to make it into a boudin (sausage) and the buttery breast tasted nearly too soft to be duck! We were all so glad we chose to have these two supplement dishes as they were each outstanding and really completed the meal experience.
Where’s the lamb gone you ask? When I returned from the bathroom, our next course had already been served and everyone had decided to start tucking in without me. I sat down quickly and followed suit savouring every morsel on the plate. It wasn’t until I started scraping the plate clean that I realised I had completely forgotten to take a photo! It’s been a while since I’ve done that! Sorry dear readers! The new season lamb was incredibly delicate and tender. The boulangère potatoes were just like my mum used to make with the chewy outer crust and inner discs of potato encased in slippery creaminess.
I was in for some fortunate luck with our cheese course. The plate included a massive FIVE different cheeses: Miguel (a semi-soft cow’s cheese from Portugal), Valdeón (a blue made with goat and cow’s milk from Spain), Buche d’Affinois (a beautifully smooth and buttery surface-ripened cheese made with cow’s milk in France), Will Studd Brillat Savarin (a classic French triple cream brie from France) and Queso Manchego (a hard sheep’s cheese from Spain). Already a plate with five cheeses is pretty exciting but even better still amongst these portions were not just one but two of my favourite cheeses of all time!
Brillat Savarin is in my humble opinion one of the creaminess and most luscious of the French brie. Thankfully it is a regular resident at my local greengrocer’s Scutti in South Perth so I can spoil myself whenever I wish. My waistline may tell you otherwise though! My other favourite cheese is the Spanish sheep’s cheese Manchego. It is a firm compact cheese with a well-developed, slightly salty flavour and has that characteristic aftertaste of sheep’s cheese that I really enjoy. The cheese was accompanied by some crisp lavosh – once again there were no gluten free alternatives here.
For our pre-dessert we were all in for a fun surprise. My dish was a strawberry espuma with raspberry gel and the rest of my family received an Irish coffee espuma. Sprinkled over all of our dishes was something that took us back to our early childhood: popping candy! After such a decadent and luxurious meal, it was very entertaining for us all to sit there like amused school kids noisily cracking and popping away!
I was amazed that for the whole ten course experience only the two courses that had to be significantly altered for my dietary requirements were the desserts. Not being the odd one out greatly enhanced my evening as I didn’t feel like my dishes had key elements omitted (with the exception of a brioche alternative). My family’s dessert course was described as caramelised mandarin tart, raspberry gel, mandarin macaron and sorbet.
Before I had time to feel any macaron jealousy I discovered that scattered across my own plate was even more popping candy! Stretched across the plate was a colourful array of sumptuous morsels including raspberry gel, pistachio nougat, chocolate ice cream, mandarin jelly cubes and some more strawberry espuma. I wasn’t sure which element to savour the most as they were all so different yet so delicious.
As our evening drew to a close I was left with the feeling of complete satisfaction that we had thoroughly and deservedly spoilt our parents. We drove them home in a comfortable silence full of so much trufflicious food. Clarke’s is definitely a great choice for special occasions….it just might break the bank a little!www.clarkesofnorthbeach.com.au/ Price: $$$$$ (Basic degustation $120 including cheese course and Manjimup truffle, supplementary courses an additional $15/20 each) Food: 8.5/10 (exquisitely prepared, need to provide bread/crackers for us GF-ers) Service: 4.5/5 (attentive without intrusion) Ambience: 4/5 (don’t judge a book, enter to find a warm, unpretentious atmosphere) Drinks: N/A (BYO – I tried to cater for the ranging wine palates of the group, starting with Perrier Jouët, then Millbrook Viognier 2009 and ending on Moss Wood Cab Sav 2009) Total: 17/2
I was lucky enough to secure three tickets to the last of the series of the Largesse dinners. These fabulous degustation evenings have formed a near cult following in Perth and are known to sell out within minutes of going on sale. So what on Earth is Largesse you ask?
Imagine the Head Chefs from six award-winning restaurants from around Perth donating their talents and time to each create one dish to contribute toward a six course extravaganza. Better still each course is then matched with exquisite wines and most importantly all of the proceeds from the evening go toward a charity of the host chef’s choosing. This year the charity of choice was The Royal Flying Doctors Service.
The six chefs are Scott O’Sullivan from Red Cabbage Food and Wine, Kiren Mainwaring from Dear Friends, Jason Jujnovich from Divido, Stephen Clarke of Clarkes of North Beach, Todd Stuart from Petite Mort and last but most definitely not least Hadleigh Troy from Restaurant Amusé.
This year the night was hosted at Petit Mort which is located in Shenton Park where the popular Star Anise resided for many years. The evening had such a buzz of excitement about it and as I gazed around the room I wondered which faces belonged to other fellow Perth bloggers I knew were attending. I have only been a blogger for about nine months now and have been blown away by the sense of camaraderie and open friendship that exists in this small little community of foodies. My eyes have only really been opened to this supportive side of blogging since joining Twitter last month. Weirdly despite this short space of time, I feel like I already know these people without even having met them.
We were informed that the first two courses were to be swapped in order because Chef Scott needed some extra time to prepare his dish. We were told he apparently lost track of time due to watching a UFC final! This got a round of chuckles from the guests.
Our first dish was air dried ham with Swan Valley Yolk, ajo blancho and foraged herbs. This dish had a number of textural elements which all tied in magically with the fresh gooey yolk. Ajo blanco is a Spanish soup made with crushed almonds and garlic; it was delicately dolloped around the plate and added in a creamy nutty texture to the crunchy herbs and chewy ham.
Our next dish was house-smoked trout, chilli squid and saffron. I was dismayed to see my gluten free version had the squid completely omitted. This meant I only really got half the dish which was quite disappointing considering that with small degustation courses each component is an important element for the overall experience of the dish. I would have preferred if the chef could have perhaps prepared my version gluten free rather than just leaving the squid off completely. Nevertheless the smoked trout was exquisitely soft and buttery leaving no oily aftertaste on the palate. My dining companions who received the full version of the dish commented that the chilli was not a strong enough feature and was barely noticeable.
The next dish was a pasta dish which is obviously not gluten free so Chef Jason from Divido kindly went to the effort of creating a completely different alternate option for me. I received braised rabbit with lentils. The rabbit had obviously been nurtured and cared for in the cooking process because I have never had such tender rabbit before; it had the soft texture of high quality smoked ham. So simple yet so well executed.
The boys had Radicchio Tortellini served with melted Fontina drizzled over it. I was informed that although you could clearly taste that the tortellini was freshly made, it was slightly undercooked and too firm; there was no slippery oyster textures between the teeth here!
The braised venison shin was my second favourite dish of the evening. I simply could not fault it whatsoever. It was accompanied by “Foie gras espuma” where we were told that the chef combined the decadent foie gras with Anglais sauce and piped it out of a canister like whipped cream. The richly flavoured shin meat simply melted in my mouth and if I wasn’t seated at a communal table I might have been tempted to lick this plate clean.
There was a little interlude in the evening at this point allowing a few fellow foodies Perth Munchkin and Gastromony to pop over to our table to introduce themselves. It was awesome to finally put some faces to the blogs that I have been following and I look forward to reading their posts on this fabulous night.
The palate cleanser consisted of ginger and beetroot water. Although this could have been improved by serving at a colder temperature it was definitely uplifting and refreshing.
Pressed duck is a very traditional French dish where the whole entire duck organs and all is partially roasted then put through a special “duck press” to squeeze out the juices which are then used for the sauce. This duck was richly flavoured but in the aftermath of the delicate venison shin its texture felt a little chewy and dry by comparison. It was accompanied by two types of wild mushrooms: the funnel shaped chanterelle and the strong tasting cepe. These were the perfect accompaniment and gave more depth to the dish with their earthy tones.
The dessert was by far and by large the highlight of the evening for me. It reaffirmed to me why Restaurant Amusé remains my most revered dining establishment in Perth. Chef Hadleigh always manages to create food art that is not only visually stunning, but does incredible things to your palate. His dish “chocolate, caramel and sorrel” spanned across a wide range of exquisite textures, temperatures and flavours. The dish started with crunchy, crisp sorrel meringue that completely dissolved on contact with your tongue, onto cool firm chocolate ice-cream that nearly had the chewy texture of a chocolate truffle, and finally ending of a bed of warmed gooey caramel. To finish off the decadence there were fine shavings of white chocolate crumbs over the top to introduce another layer of alternate texture and flavour.
The last of the Largesse evenings was an experience I’m glad I didn’t miss; a night of talented chefs showcasing their abilities in the name of a worthy charitable cause. Although I know the Chefs all said this is their last, surely they can start up something new and similar in concept? The evening has inspired me to visit those restaurants out of the six that I haven’t been to yet and more importantly I want to get back to Amusé for what will be the fourth time! Last time we were we spent nearly six glorious hours overindulging ourselves in a night I will never forget.Red Cabbage Food + Wine 49/15 Labouchere Rd, South Perth 6151 | (08) 9367 5744 | redcabbagefoodandwine.com.au Dear Friends 100 Benara Rd, Caversham 6055 | (08) 9279 2815 | www.dearfriends.com.au Divido 170 Scarborough Beach Rd, Mount Hawthorn 6016 | (08) 9443 7373 | www.divido.com.au Clarkes of North Beach 97 Flora Terrace, North Beach 6020 | (08) 9246 7621 | www.clarkesofnorthbeach.com.au Petite Mort 225 Onslow Rd, Shenton Park 6008 | (08) 9388 0331 | www.petitemort.com.au Restaurant Amusé 64 Bronte St, East Perth 6004 | (08) 9325 4900 | www.restaurantamuse.com.au
To assist the chef in planning for my meal alterations and adjustments, I always try to ensure to inform the kitchen of my allergy requirements in advance when I book the table. Unfortunately despite giving the restaurant 3 days’ notice about this, when I was trying to order my entrees I was informed by the wait staff that all the sauces in all the dishes contained onions. Despite our lovely waiter Sebastian going out of his way to help me, going back and forth from the kitchen with options, the response from the chef was a resounding “no” for even the slightest alteration. Not even melting some garlic butter was possible. Maybe I’ve been spoilt recently eating out – but this reinforces to me how I appreciate a good chef is one that can accommodate and adjust dishes rather than churn out the standard meals.
I also question whether the reason the meals cannot be altered because they are already pre-prepared? So despite all the entrees looking delectable, the only dish I was able to have was the Asparagus, cherry tomato and radicchio salad with Ravigote dressing. This was a small portion, dressed nicely but not satisfying when you look at the rest of our table’s meals!
Others ordered the Escargot a ma façon (Snails cooked my way), Pan fried duck liver with pea puree and Scallop and truffle filo torte with fennel salad and balsamic dressing. Thankfully the rest of the meals were able to be ordered without a hitch.
For mains I had the Tournedo Rossini: WA Beef tenderloin, foie gras, mushroom duxelle, served on mashed potato (without the jus). The cut of meat was of reasonable quality and cooked correctly. I did however notice that my portion of foie gras was twice as generous when compared my non-allergic partner’s so perhaps this was the chef’s way of making it up to us!
Another ordered the Margaret River Wagyu Beef Rump served with mash potato and green peppercorn sauce. The Wagyu was soft and delicate as it should be although cooked slightly under the request of rare. Another ordered the Pork trotter stuffed with chicken and wild mushroom, mash potato and a Shiraz jus. For desserts we shared the Ile Flottante and again we were given a larger serve – we asked for one to share and they brought us out two and said it was an extra sized single portion. We were only charged for one. Once again a big thumbs up to the wait staff who really tried to make it up to us for the problem with the entrees. Overall it was an enjoyable night and we all walked away with satisfied full bellies.
Service 9/10 Food 7.5/10 Venue 7/10P’tite Ardoise Bistro
283 Beaufort St, Highgate, 6003 | (08) 9228 2008
In continuation of my previous review I would like to let my readers know that the chef has contacted me regarding our meal last night. We accidently left one of our bottles of wine at the restaurant and he wanted to let me know so that I could return to collect it. He also apologised that our dining experience was not up to scratch and extended an invitation for a repeat visit with advance notice of my menu choices so he could be better prepared with appropriate stocks and sauces. He mentioned he did not know of my dietary requests until the day and therefore did not have time to discuss with me prior. I have to say in receiving the call; I was very impressed to see such passion and dedication to customer service and a true effort to redeem a reputation. I shall most definitely be returning …. watch this space….