Hi loyal readers, I am sure there are millions of you out there – well maybe ten or so. The intent of this new page is to show some highlights of the food and wine experiences we have had in Melbourne in 2013. I do not go into the same level of detail as the Blogs for space and time reasons as much as anything else. This page also reflects my slackness in not keeping up with these events and Blogging them as I go. For things like the Grange evening at the Bot, this is a major crime. any way here we go in inverse chronological order as per a regular Blog.
19 November – Steer Bar & Grill Escoffier Meat Dinner
Another of Steer’s very good theme dinners, this time around about dishes from Escoffier – arguably the most famous chef of all time.
Most of the courses were special but I have highlighted the Steak Tartare. By the way, the wines were from Grand Milliseme – all French and very good. Grand Milliseme will feature in an earlier post, eventually (at The Smith).
18 November – St. Crispin Epicure Dinner
St. Crispin is the Age Good Food Guide new restaurant of the year. Owned by Joe Grbac and Scott Pickett. We have a bit of experience with Scott having lead us on a Vic Market Tour during the Good Food month while working at The Point a few years ago. He also did one of the Great Chef Dinners at William Angliss that we attended.
We are meeting Lois and Peter Fewster there. Lots of problems at the start – first of all, me – the absolute expert of Melbourne Public Transport, gets lost again and arrives 15 minutes late of the starting time of 6:30. I am seated at the end of a table with Julie on the left and Fewsters on the right. There is enough space for four people, all of a sudden another two people are crowded into Julie’s side. Then there are no drinks available – it is normal at these kind of wine dinners that there are drinks right from the start. Then bread is brought around but our half of the table does not receive any – we complain a few times but nothing happens until the after the first course is delivered – 45 minutes after advertised starting time. The Wines, the first of which arrives with the first course, are from Mac Forbes, a young Yarra Valley wine maker. They are OK, but generally don’t grab me, especially as there is no Shiraz.
After all this, the rest of the night is not too bad.
This dish was absolutely stunning, tender beyond belief but still with great flavour. I talked to Scott about it and it was cooked in a water bath at around 85 degrees for around 9 hours. If the temperature was lower, maybe 60 it could cook for up to 18 hours.
Eventually a good night but I would have hoped for a bit more from the “new restaurant of the year”.
Sad Times 20/10-1/11
I think it is important to cover the sad as well as the delights. And in this period, sadly we lost two close friends to that sh**ty cancer thing. First was Dave Scambler, a friend for 40 years and a Senior employee of mine for several years. I was asked to speak at his memorial servce so dressed appropriateley, from my point of view.
I did not want to have a morbid talk so tried to lighten the mood up. Dave and I had had a joke involving the Blues Brothers 5 years earlier so I retold it here. I also mentioned that Mark “Chopper” Read was also having his memorial service that day – intrinsically linking Dave and Chopper forever.
Then a few days later, our really good friend Harold Taylor passed away.
I had gotten to know Harold and Wife Brenda over the last 7+ years through the music followers “The Stalkers”. He was just a terrific guy and would do anything for anyone. I had spent a bit more time with him recently driving him to Radiation treatment once a week for 5 weeks but that was the last time I saw him. The memorial service was quite memorable with an unbelievable number of friends, family and colleagues showing up. The best part was that the Pardoners – Sam See, Glun Mason and also Lindsay Fields had requested to be able to do a song each which they did. Oh Harold, I wish you could have seen it.
Friday 25 October – Royal Melbourne Wine Awards
We went to the courtyard area of the Collins Towers for a wine tasting of the wines from the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards.
There were a number of stations of various kinds and I settled in to a Shiraz station and tasted about 25 wines. I then moved to another Shiraz station, and tasted another 20 or so wines. Julie arrived late and moved around and found a station with the major wine award winners.
For the first time ever, a Pinto Noir won the Jimmy Watson trophy. My comment was the same as several others – not a bad wine for a Pinot.
It was interesting that the Yabby Lake Pinot won the Jimmy Watson whereas the Applejack won the best Pinot.
The Giant Steps Applejack also won two other trophies. My favourite was, as usual, a Shiraz.
All in all tasted a number of very good wines. Very worthwhile.
Saturday 5 October – Jacques Reymond Burgundy Dinner
Julie had signed us up some time ago for this special, but rather expensive, dinner at Jacques Reymond with lots of French Burgundies. It turned out that a short time after she had signed up, JR announced that he was retiring and selling the restaurant to his staff. So, the timing was good – now or never.
I had never been to this restaurant before even though I had been around for years while it was operating. In fact, I did not really know where it was located. Jacques spoke for a while at the start. He is a funny and enthusiastic man. He told us to focus on the wine, not the food so much. That was a little difficult given the quality of the food.
Any one of the courses could have been inserted here but I had to pick one. There were also photos of a lot of the wines. All in all a delightful night and obviously one of a kind.
Wednesday 17, July – Steer Bar & Grill Retro Beef Dinner
Steer has done several impressive special dinners and this is yet another one. We meet the Rosners here and have a dinner based upon the retro food that we used to have in the 70s.
Most of the courses were memorable but I had to select the “cabana and cheese”.
29 June, 2013 – Libertine; Last Supper
We had been to Libertine a few times for their special dinners, in fact we met Dawn and Chas there. Sadly, they were closing down so we went there for the Last Supper with Roy and Selena who knew the owners well – living in North Melbourne after all.
The meal included French Wines from the cellar. No photos tonight. Libertine, so sad to see you go.
Monday, 24 June – Ocha; Special degustation meal
Ocha, in Hawthorn, puts on a special degustation menu on the last Monday of every month.
There are quite a range of entree type courses, we enjoyed them all. I did not get any photos but can highly recommend these special Mondays. BYO wine too.
26 May, 2013 – Movida; World Sherry Day
Wow, this was an absolutely stunning event, which is amazing since generally I ma not into Sherry. What was advertised was several Spanish Sherries accomapnied by a small Tapas with each.
It was also a good chance to catch up with Frank Camorra who I had not seen since San Sebastian last year – refer to earlier Post. He had moved to Sydney to set-up his Movida in Surry Hills but apparently had now moved back to Melbourne. Typical Frank, outgoing, friendly busy doing great things. Apologies for the blurry picture here and one to follw.
The location was Movida Next Door at Flinders Street and Hoosier Lane, a smallish place. The set-up for this day was that there were three seatings and we were in the second. We got there a bit early and were fortunate enough to get two seats at the bar that had cleared out from the first seating. Most of the rest of the second session patrons had to wait quite a while since the first session people were reluctant to leave, understandably so.
I had planned to cook dinner that night, expecting there to be limited food with the Tapas. WRONG! Most of the courses were full size. I am breaking my rule for this page and showing many of the courses we had.
Look at the size of that “small Tapas”. I should mention the Sherries. They were pretty good, some of them very good, not bad for someone not liking Sherry. All in all a brilliant day – thanks Frank – you have done it again.
Tuesday, 1 May – Grossi Florentino; Wine Selector Dinner
We are upstairs at Florentino for a Wine Selector dinner in which Guy Grossi and his staff explain about the wines they have selected to be “house” wines and to be served at this meal.
Good night, lots of talk about the wines, good and interesting food.
Tuesday, 23 April – Red Spice Road QV; Woodstock Wines Dinner
We have been to Red Spice Road a few times for special Food and Wine meals and they generally have been good value – a lot of interesting Asian food. This event is in their (relatively) new place in QV which was the old Duck, Duck Goose.
Another good night. The Woodstock wines were good too.
18 April – Penfolds Grange Masterclass & Dinner at the Botanical
We had a special treat of a wine dinner at the Botanical which featured, among other wines, four vintages of Grange, not allowed to call it Grange Hermitage any more.
The full set of wines were:
Champagne on Arrival
Grosset Polish Hill Riesling 2012
Bannockburn Chardonnay 2010
Penfolds Grange 1978
Penfolds Grange 1983
Penfolds Grange 1996
Penfolds Grange 2004
Parker Coonawarra’First Growth’ 2006
Torbreck the Steading GSM 2009
Stanton & Killeen Rutherglen Muscat NV
Coffee & Petit Fours
We had been to a function there in the last year when the Kitchen was run by Chong Liew. He is now a consultant but but was the head chef for a night. Again the food was very good.
The Dinner was put on by United Cellars.
30 March – Cumulus Up opening
Cumulus Up is the latest opening of Andrew McConnell’s restaurants. Not surprising, it is upstairs from his Cumulus. It is set-up as a bar with snacks that, in the case of this meal at least, were very impressive.
We had been quite skeptical about coming since we were at a recent function at another of his restaurants’ which was shocking in almost every way. However, we found the food here great and the service very good – until they forgot to serve us a main course. Every table around us was served except us and the whole restaurant was served, and most people finished their main course when we were finally served.
In spite of the one faux pax, we thought it was a good event. I hope it goes well.
Sunday, 10 March, 2013 Little Hunter; Smokin’ Dinner with Gavin Baker
This event is in a new place called Little Hunter which specialises in Smoked Foods. It is a major renovation of the old Georges Basement. You enter from Little Collins Street, there is no sign, which I think is a major mistake, but a Waitress shows us to the stairs for the entry.
The wines are mostly French and there is a most interesting glassware.
We had a long chat at the end with Gavin Baker, the American Chef. He seems like a nice guy with some interesting ideas.
POST MORTEM: Several months later, Little Hunter closed down. I think it was inevitable as it was very hard to find and in an area of Little Collins Street that is not very swish. Sad.
Tuesday, 5 March – Ezard; Teage and Scott’s Wagyu Feast
This was a Melbourne Food and Wine Festival event. We have been to Ezard before for such events, usually with a second colleague as was this one, e.g. Hermann Schneider in another year. We know Scott Pickett from a market tour a few years ago, Angliss Great Chefs etc.
As indicated in the title of the event, the main feature is Wagyu. The two chef’s take turns alternating courses and again it is difficult to choose just one.
Another really good night.
Monday, 25 February; Gourmet Traveler Dinner at Stokehouse Cafe
We meet Dawn and Chas at the newly renovated downstairs at Stokehouse Cafe. It was a more casual “list” of food but pretty good I thought. Lots of wine too.
19 February – The Duck Crawl
We have been on several Duck Crawls with Roy Moorfield, who created the concept after experiences in Hong Kong with Chinese Duck and Pinot Noir. This was a special event for the reason shown below. The concept of a Duck Crawl is 3 Chinese Restaurants, 5 Duck dishes and 9 Pinot Noirs. Roy’s comment is that the mix of the rich fods (duck) with Pinot releases endorphins that can get one flying. I can endorse that thought.
While at Heirloom, a special presentation is made by Roy – Julie is indckted as a Duckchess of the Duck Crawl!
There was a drawing of a Greystoke magnum sponsored by Ed Davis. By some strange coincidence, Julie was the winner, immediately after her Inducktion.
Saturday, 10 February – French Cooking School
Julie has signed us up for a Cooking School where you also learn some elemntaary French.
As we go in, we are given the choice of 4 jobs – cook the entree, main course, dessert or serve. By the time we get in, all the main course jobs had been taken so I selected the Entree.
Naturally, I would have preferred to have done the Duck dish but this main was quite good.
While the cooking, eating and drinking was going on we were also being taught some French. I used to be pretty good with languages in my youth but clearly am not any more. Still a very nice day, everything was good including the other people in the group.