Friday, April 20, 2012

Union Dining (Richmond, Melbourne) 04/2012

Delicious magazine organizes a meal each month sponsored by Volvo, and in this case TarraWarra winery. It's not often in Melbourne and you have to be quick to get a reservation as they are very popular. On this occasion Stephanie Alexander, an iconic figure in the Australian culinary field, seen here speaking to the guests, got together with one of her former kitchen colleagues, Chef Nicky Reimer to produce a four course dinner. It was a loud and crowded affair with short speeches from both Nicky and Stephanie who is now occupied in writing books and bringing kitchen gardens and healthy eating to schools across Australia. Delicious even sent a photographer to record the event.Our meal started with a smoked eel and ham hock terrine with pickled baby beetroot and horseradish. Served with a 2010 TarraWarra Estate Chardonnay. This was an excellent match for this dish. The elements of the terrine were all distinct but the jelly that bound them was not properly set so it fell apart when we tried to cut a slice from it.
Next course was an escabeche of sardine with shaved fennel, pine nuts and Marsala currants. Escabeche is similar to ceviche the difference being that the fish, or it could be meat, has been cooked before being bathed in an acidic marinade either of vinegar or citrus. Served cold, we both found the acidity excessive. The sardine had a strong characteristic taste which many people, including me, are not fond of making this a dubious choice for a fixed menu.
The accompanying 2011 TarraWarra Pinot Noir Rose, a wine we would not usually drink, was particularly appreciated for this dish with it's dry clean finish.
Abbachio of Rutherglen lamb shoulder served with Savoy cabbage salad with saba dressing and white polenta with Talegio followed.
If you don't have an Italian/English dictionary handy Abbachio translates as young lamb. Saba dressing is a balsamic reduction which is sweet and syrupy and Talegio is a cows milk washed rind cheese that gets its name from the area of Italy that it originated in, Val Taleggio. Here the lamb had been slow cooked and was tender but it was not very young and, after removing it from the bones, there was not much of it. Again the salad had too much citrus, although it looked goodand the only really enjoyable part was the polenta.The last course was a croustard of spiced apple and armagnac prune with almond cream. Unfortunately the pastry was undercooked on my dessert which was also dominated by sweetness. Chef Reimer and the kitchen staff worked hard to get these dishes prepared and on to the tables for 95 guests in good timeWe were disappointed with the meal which we felt was flawed in several areas but thoroughly enjoyed the accompanying wines which were served generously. Again this is a restaurant we will return to so as to get a better view of their cuisine.
Score: 13/20

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