Sunday, July 30, 2017

Roma Pizza (Lititz) 01/2017

Looking back I see we never reported this visit to Roma Pizza
We visited here in 2009 and, 2012 and 2014. See 
At the time wrote that we would come back and we have.
Virtually unchanged the calzone was and remains outstanding.
Comments: Consistency is very satisfying when it's good.
 Score:13.75 /20 Still a very good score for a Pizza place.

Fellippe Melbourne CBD) 07/2017

Perhaps Philippe Mouchel will have more success at this subterranean site than a number of his predecessors. certainly he was busy enough last night with only a few empty tables and customers still arriving at 8.45 pm. The venue is unchanged from when Brooks was here. Decor is pleasant. Good sized white clothed tables have paper protection.

Chairs are hard and not comfortable but there is a soft backed settee running the length of the wall.
They have a couple of glass cabinets featuring meats, cheeses and other produce. 
The busy Saturday night had an unexpected down side for us. They had a seafood platter on the internet menu but not on the table menu. Some were lucky enough to get that but it was sold out when we wanted to order. Soup was also sold out! They have a Plat de jour - Saturday night is Cassoulet night - guess what, sorry no more cassoulet available. The one page menu is quite small so there were few attractive choices.

We had had a superb charcuterie platter at  Phillipe's Russel St restaurant (I think it was called FM 15) a few years ago but I wanted something different. We settled on sharing two different entrees, a beetroot cured salmon and a snail dish.
A pretty presentation the salmon was as good as it looked. The accompanying salad delicate, colourful and did not dominate the salmon which was superb.
Snails with free range egg "en meurette", mushrooms, leek and croutons ($21) was another story. 

Meurette sauce is a wine sauce rather like gravy, the egg in this recipe is poached, firm white with a runny yolk. it was as it should be but the snails, I think there were four of them, were no way enhanced by the rest of the dish. they need not have been there at all.
We were very limited for mains (Plats principal) The duck dish ($55/person) was for two and I wanted variety and did not particularly feel like duck. The vegetarian option did not appeal and I did not want a fillet of snapper so that left the meat.
I settled on the slow roasted lamb with sweatbreads and eggplant ($40) and Sandra chose the Waghu rump cap ($60).
The lamb was nicely seasoned and cooked as requested. The sweatbreads, on a stick with a strip of bacon dividing them were good too but it was a tiny serve.
Sandra's waghu was a bit chewy as you would expect 
and never had much marbelling.
Our waitress suggested we have a side dish (Accessoires) and we chose the char grilled cos lettuce with Caesar vinaigrette and croutons ($9)
a great choice, we both thoroughly enjoyed it.
The dessers (Gourmandeses) were not exciting but if we waited 15 minutes we could have a souffle. Yes please.
It looked fantastic. Unfortunately the texture was all wrong, almost cake like and grainy and the liqueur overwhelming.
Our waitress tried to be helpful but struggled, not being able to make sense of her notes which appear to have been written on a paper serviette or a Kleenex tissue. She knew nothing about the wines. they have quite a good list and they are not excessively marked up.
I'm finding these little touches of French or Italian on menus a bit pretentious. We all know what they are. It's about time they stuck to English, or if they feel the need to acknowledge the origin of their menus useFrench or Italian or whatever!!
Score: 13.75/20

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Chatter 55 MasterChef Biases are Painful When There's $250,000 at Stake 07/2017

MasterChef Australia had it's grand final last night. Of the original 24 contestants it came down to a battle between Diana Chan, an attractive Accountant and Ben Ugermann a personable Retail manager.
At the beginning of their last 'cook' Ben was three points behind. 
It was a fiendish task to reproduce Kirsten Tibbals a incredibly difficult dessert featuring three beautiful reproduction fruit, filled with complex ingredients and flavour, in four hours. They both struggled and had faults and failures but Ben's effort appeared to be clearly superior and the first two judges saw it that way. Ben scored three nines.
Diana scored eight from Gary Meaghan and eight from George Calombaris. She needed nine from Matt Preston to win. 
Despite her dish being clearly not not as good as Ben's, guess what - Diana scored nine and became the MasterChef winner for 2017.
Diana is a fantastic cook and taken overall is a worthy winner, but not on that night and that's not the point of this post..
The fact there is something remarkably unfair about the whole show.
Consider this.
There have been eight seasons of MasterChef.
Each season begins with 24 contestants and ends with one winner. Twenty three have been eliminated. Eight by 23 equals 184. There have been a few more eliminations because each year one eliminated contestant wins a place back in the contest.
Unbelievably, despite the extremely coarse scoring system, not once has there ever been a draw!
I can think of no other competitive situation except a beauty contest where this could happen. 
Where results are determined by as little as 1/100th of a second there are dead heats. With gross measures where there is approximately a 10% difference between a 9 and a ten, or even more between an eight and a nine this can only come about by collusion among the judges.
Ask any body with a knowledge of statistics.
I wonder if Matt Preston felt a little sick when he drew the short straw to administer the 'coup de grace'.
Pity there is so much money involved because, at the end of the day it leaves a sour taste being so obviously a rigged television cooking show.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Bayviews Restaurant and Lounge Bar (Burnie NW Tasmania) 07/201`7

 Burnie continues to surprise me. I had been told that Fish Frenzy had the best fish and chips but had no idea that there is a fine dining restaurant above it. Asking about restaurants had resulted in several recommendations but Bayviews had not been mentioned.
It's a fantastic site 
 overlooking Bass Straight, right at the waters edge.
The restaurant offers inside and out side dining in a spacious rather asceptic looking venue
I thought I might have an entree before going home to dinner and was surprised to be offered an amuse bouche of pear, prosciutto and goat cheese in a herb infused olive oil. 
Several entrees looked appealing and I settled for the quail.

 It was boned well and cooked perfectly, just a little pink. Served with celeriac and fine strips of daikon in a remoulade with crispy chorizo and parley. It was so good I decided to have a second entree of mussels.
Another surprise, a palate cleanser!
And then the mussels.
From the East coast these must have been the most enormous, plump and tasty mussels I have ever eaten. Served in a rich white wine broth with a touch of lemon, chili and garlic with linguini, and coriander which made what added up to a really fine dish.
The only thing I would have liked with both these dishes was a roll or a slice of good quality bread.
Not only do they have a very nice menu but they also offer a six or a nine course degustation menu with matched wines if desired for about 60% of what it would cost in Melbourne.
Next time. 
Score: 16/20

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Pier01 (Ulverstone - NW Tasmania) 07/2017

This quite striking restaurant occupies a cavernous space 
on the wharf beside the Leven river originally designed for a rowing club. Despite it’s emptiness It has a comfortable atmosphere. A front 
and side wall 
of windows with pleasant views, even on the greyest of days, helps.
Bare tables are well spaced, smallish but adequate size, 

with padded straight backed chairs. 
The girl who served me was excellent. She went through four or five specials in moderate detail and on questioning listed all the ingredients, usually seven or more.
The lunch menu is not large but does have several soups, half a dozen or more entrees plus oysters ($3.2 each). Mains include meat fish vegetarian and poultry. 
Water was served promptly and i was not hassled as I looked through the extensive wine list. It’s quite reasonable with a good selection of Whiskeys. Three of my favourite drinks - Sake, Pedro Ximenes Valdespino sherry and Absinthe, did not appear.
Seafood chowder was packed with seafood, salmon and a white fish, prawns, scallops, pippis (perhaps they were chopped up mussels), a small amount of potato and carrot, all cut to a similar size in a good thick white soup. 
A great dish for a cold day.
Crispy skin salmon with a rocket salad was cooked almost as ordered, a half minute less and I think it would have been perfect. The salad was excellent with a few thin slices of radish, a few roasted chips and some crunchy crushed nuts. 
The salmon sat on a smear of sauce, mayonnaise i presume and was topped with some pickled vegetable cut into scares. I suspect they were crab apples. It came with a big slice of lemon but I would have liked more sauce.
There were half a dozen mundane desserts. I had the poached pear. It was not a go to dish although the presentation was excellent. 
The pear sat in a thick strong biscuit base in a sea of bland custard. The whole dish lacked finesse and the taste was anaemic.
To accompany all this I had a glass of Tasmanian Storm Bay Sav. Blanc which was improved by being served in a very good Stozlol crystal wine glass. 
As they say drinking wine from fine crystalware improves the experience by 20%!
This was a pretty good meal in nice surroundings. I could have done a lot worse.