Popcorn & Toast.

♡ Make me hot buttery popcornandtoast@gmail.com

♡ make me hot buttery popcornandtoast@gmail.com

Attica; Ripponlea.

74 Glen Eira Road

07 Gembrook Hill, Blanc de Blancs

A little bubbly to kickstart the night, from our very own Yarra Valley. 

Attica may have dropped a number of spots to #63, but having dined at all three, including Vue de Monde and Jacques Reymond within 9 months of each other, I can understand why Attica has slotted its way into the global rankings. The tasting menu at Jacques Reymond had beautiful technique but the carte menu was better. Vue de Monde intrigued, and was beautifully cooked and plated. But Attica truly takes the cake. Gorgeous simple ingredients, plated exquisitely. It undeniably has the best lighting of the three.

We were tucked away in a little secluded room up the back, with a coveted view of the plating of dishes. 

A careless dollop of house cultured butter with Jersey cream, incredibly creamy and divine with the warm fluffy sourdough. The olive oil has been smoked and emulsified with water & xanthan, then whipped to form this creamy light concoction, topped with basil & salt. I’m not a fan of sourdough, I don’t particularly enjoy the texture nor the flavour but Attica have got it down pat and it is delightful.

Attica is strictly dinner, strictly tasting menu. They offer a 5-course tasting menu ($125) and an 8-course tasting menu ($175) with a wine matching for both courses at $85 and $115 respectively on Wednesday & Thursday nights. On Friday & Saturday nights, the wine matching is bumped up to $210 and $290. We select the 8-course tasting menu with the wine pairing, and took them up on their offer to make it a 9-course with the elusive Snow Crab, which has done its time on the menu and has since been retired, but is trotted out on special nights.

Pine Mushroom, Cabbage Flower & Walnut

Presented as three walnuts on a bed of leaves, only to reveal soft velvety grated pine mushrooms with cabbage flowers from their own garden as garnishing, seated on a creamy grainy walnut puree.

Sea Bounty Blue Mussels

The warm creamy mussels from Port Phillip Bay are beautifully fresh, cooked and fried in a crisp coating, topped with edible sea purslane as garnishing. The green lip mussel shell is handpainted by an artist from the North Island of New Zealand. Ben Shewry is from New Zealand and has a penchant for incorporating his background into the dining experience.

Shiitake Broth

The broth is hot, very light and simple yet aromatic. Each mouthful is potent with shiitake flavour. Garnished with some greens from their own garden - mushroom leaf, Alaskan nasturtium and red clovers. 

And we move from the starters to the first of our nine course tasting menu.

10 Peter Lauer Fass 6 Senior Ayler Kupp Riesling

On its own, a beautifully fragrant and sweet riesling with slight acidity, gorgeous and light in the mouth, it doesn’t overwhelm the snow crab.

Snow Crab

Ben Shewry’s signature dish was inspired by his childhood days spent at Mount Taranaki in the North Island of New Zealand. Snow Crab captures his memory of the snow - beautifully translated in the form of snow crab, horseradish powder, freeze dried coconut & chopped egg white.

The snow is ridiculously light and airy, with light heat coming through from the horseradish powder. Hidden beneath the snow are textures of barberries, puffed rice, salmon roe & raw sliced witlof. From each mouthful to the last, you get an array of flavours coming through, you taste the sweet coconut, the juicy fresh snow crab, bursts of salmon roe, crunchy puffed rice grains and sour fragrant barberries.

Equipo Navazos La Bota No.27 Fino - Jerez, Spain

Inhaled and visually quite potent, it’s very fresh and quite dry. There was a richness in the middle of the palate when paired with the food. The gorgeous tomato tang lingers after the wine.

Tomato, Smoked Sesame, Eleven Basils

Seated on a sheet of red dulce pepper that has been poached in smoked olive oil, little dollops of sheep’s milk labne, these gorgeous juicy baby black russian tomatoes, black russian tomato seeds, spiced hazelnuts and eleven different types of basil from their garden. The basil leaves are beautiful, each flavour is so subtle and aromatic, a little nuttiness perfectly paired with the plump sweet tomatoes.

Valette Macon Chaintre ‘Vieilles Vignes’ 2008 - Cote Maconnais, France

This doesn’t have a lot of oak, and the freshness and vibrancy doesn’t overwhelm marron, but it has a fair bit of acidity which cut through the oiliness of marron tail and the pepperiness of mountain pepper. It really does leap at you.

Marron, Leek, Native Pepper 

The delicate marron morsels are from Western Australia, and were poached at 60 degrees for 7 minutes - perfect, fresh and succulent. With tender steamed baby leeks, herbs from their garden, and they poured in a very light clear broth made from prosciutto & mussels, that was quite salty, offsetting the sweetness of the marron.

Mosse Anjou 2010 - Anjou, France

A chenin blanc, from Anjou in the Loire Valley. Quite a lot of apple, almost like a cooked golden apple, an apple tart if you will, a little bit of chamomile, floral and fresh, very dry and mineral driven. I expect it to be sweet from the colour, the fragrance and the way it swirls in the glass but it’s not. The acidity cuts through the creaminess of the dish nicely, and it’s quite intense.

A simple dish of Potato cooked in the earth it was grown

A Virgina roast potato from South Australia, compacted in earth and cooked in the oven for three hours - replicating the Maori Hangi cooking methods. The potato is floury, a beautifully satisfying consistent texture throughout, with a distinct underlying aroma. Seated on smoked goat’s curd, with freshly ground coffee, coconut husk ash and crispy saltbush.

Mukai ‘Ine Mankai’ - Kyoto, Japan

A gorgeous blush rose rice sake. Cranberry, pomegranate, fresh sour cherry pits - it’s quite strong alone but paired with the dish, all you get are the gorgeously sweet undertones highlighted on your palate, going beautifully with the sweet pearl oyster and watermelon radish.

Meat from the Pearl Oyster pinctada maxima

From Western Australia, wok fried and stirred with a cultured butter emulsion, the warm juicy tender pearl oyster curls in this gorgeous lemon butter emulsion. With shaved watermelon radish from their garden, slightly bitter and delicate finger lime beads cutting through nicely. Just a gorgeous mouthful. Topped with scattered leek ash and freshly grated horseradish for a slight heat.

I truly adore Attica. It’s gorgeous, it’s dainty, it’s beautifully seasoned and thoughtful. It’s unexpected and different, with unusual components coming together gorgeously. You know what it says on the menu, but even when the course is right before your very eyes, you’re not entirely sure what to expect. A myriad of components, flavours and textures which mesmerise.

Chimay Grande Reserve 2010 - Chimay, Belgium

The bitterness & spiciness of the beer is intended to complement the richness of this course, and the acidity cuts right through, wrapping it up with a lovely nuttiness, christmas cake spice and refreshed by the bubble. Fragrant malt.

Kumara, Purslane, Pyengana

The golden kumara is Maori for sweet potato, and has been baked in a salt crust for five hours. It’s served with warm slowly cooked egg yolk, surrounded by almonds cooked in brown butter and garlic, broccolini buds, wild sorrel stems, mustard leaves from their gardens and finished with warm cream flavoured with Pyengana cheddar - an aged cloth bound cheddar from north of Tasmania. 

The way the yolk envelops your mouth with the warm buttery cream and the crunchy nuttiness, it’s just a comforting mouthful. The sweet potato is so soft and lightly sweet, it’s easy to sum it up as a creamy dish but there’s really so much going on. From the rich slow thickness of the yolk, to the silkier lighter yet creamy sharp cheddar, to the soft velvety texture of the sweet potato, with an assortment of buds stems leaves that add freshness but are seasoned well. Yet another one of their courses among many that is gusty bold in spite of its dainty plating.

Quite soft, a little structure but enough acidity to cut through the rich pork which has been slowly cooked for 12 hours so it’s sticky and sweet. The Gamay is fresh and cuts through it nicely. It complements the five spice of the pork beautifully.

Bangalow Pork & Watermelon

The Bangalow free range pork, farmed near Byron Bay, is poached salted and compressed into a brick then crispy fried. It’s sticky sweet and has a nice crisp coating but the pork has soft tender strands and smells fantastic. Served on pork black budding, with sweet crisp watermelon flavoured with sweet and sour beetroot juice, garnished with fennel fronds, jasmine flowers and a puree of pickled onion.

Cuvee Ripponlea by Syrahmi 2011 - Heathcote, Victoria

Full of beautifully juicy, acidity and freshness, borderline plum yet not too heavy, showcasing the delicateness of the shiraz and the texture. It surrounds the wallaby and cuts through gaminess, as well as the richness of the macademia puree and the black pudding.

Flinders Island Wallaby, Bunya Pine, Begonia

The lightly seared grass fed wallaby loin is wonderfully pink and tender, lightly gamey with a creamy macademia nut puree and little bits of wallaby black pudding. The sauce is quite rich, flavoured with currants and shavings of raw bunya pine kernel with a sandier texture. Finished with macademia nut oil, chicory, red begonia leaves & upland cress. 

Native Fruits of Australia

A gorgeous variety of homegrown beautiful tangy sharp sweet bitter poached fruits. To pick and taste and let linger on your palate. We start with the Quandong flesh at 12 o’clock, going around clockwise the lemon aspen which has been poached in sugar syrup, starts out citrusy but finishes sweet, as do the ones that sit below - the rosella petals. At 6 o’clock sit the muntries with an apple flavour, and we move onto the rye berries which have been poached in sugar syrup. With berry characteristics but finish warm, akin to ginger. And lastly we have desert limes, citrusy but finish a little earthy and gritty. All seated on a bed of cold creamy sheep’s milk yoghurt that is infused with eucalyptus and sweet sour ice of native currant. I tasted a little nuttiness, a little honeycomb.

Chateau Pierre Bise ‘Quarts de Chaume’ 2009 - Coteaux de Layon, France

A Chenin Blanc, with a spiciness almost like white pepper, the lusciousness of white chocolate and poached quince, beautiful and rich in the mouth with a little oiliness. The freshness from the honey and the lemon thyme and the richness of the custard cream matches the richness of the wine. 

The wine goes beautifully with the dessert, enhancing and leaving a lingering sweetness from the gorgeous raspberries, lemon custard and honey. 

Throughout the night, looking through the window, I would see the chefs creating little shavings of something, I would see glass boxes with beautiful dollops of cream neatly interspersed with raspberries. I would see this lime green ice and yet all these components didn’t fit anywhere on the menu. And it wasn’t until I broke through the layer of pumpkin, that I realised it was in fact this course on full display throughout the night.

Plight of the Bees

The thinly sliced of pumpkin compressed with honeydew honey, and dusted with freeze dried apple captured the hexagonal walls of honeycomb beautifully. Beneath lay fennel and lemon thyme honey ice, raspberries & a custard flavoured with lemon thyme honey, as well as pieces of mandarin segments and meringue shards flavoured with lemon thyme.

Each mouthful filled you with aromatic honey. The juicy fresh large supple rosy raspberries, with the ridiculously fresh icy lemon thyme, and crisp light meringue shards which crumbles beautifully in your mouth. The pumpkin has such a wonderfully soft bite.

The crisp shards, creamy lemon custard, lemon tang in the lemon thyme ice, sweet soft pumpkin layer, fresh burst of raspberry, tasting and testing each component.

This dessert was very satisfying and incredibly thoughtful, no different to the other courses.

We finish off with a beautiful story and a painting by Ben Shewry’s dad. White chocolate filled with oozy caramel.

Vue de Monde provided us with a beautiful experience and when you look at the food, both Attica & Vue de Monde excel in providing premium quality fresh produce and the plating was visually pleasing.

But with Vue de Monde, when you read the menu, you form an expectation of what will be presented to you, and the question is will your expectations be met. The plates are quite literal. There is an occasional element of surprise, but it doesn’t stray far. Whether it’s the kangaroo, the wagyu, the barramundi or the marron that you read off the menu, you form an expectation of what it should look like, what it will taste like from your prior encounters of this meat, and for most of the courses at Vue de Monde, it winds up being showcased prominently as the star of the dish.

Will the wagyu be melt in your mouth with a gorgeous marbling running through it, will the marron be plump fresh and juicy, will the kangaroo be tender - I know what to expect from a marron, how it should feel in my mouth, how it should taste, and when it surpasses my expectations I adore it, but even when it’s cooked beautifully, there is almost an expectation that that is how it should be and my response is almost lacklustre. While the experience with the marron - using our fingers to sandwich it with the kohlrabi, the liquid nitro flash freezing the herbs for our cucumber sorbet was intriguing, it’s a simpler experience. 

With Attica, it’s almost a mystery, a game if you will. You really do not know what you are going to get, even when it’s presented to you, you don’t know what the star of the dish is going to be. The element of surprise is there at each and every course. Your palate is going into overdrive, guessing which element you are eating, discussing whether a particular component is discernible. There are a multitude of textures and flavours far beyond what is on the menu, and in spite of everything going on in the plate, it’s all quite balanced. Each mouthful can be so different and yet you taste a little bit of everything.
But what I adore most about Attica is the thought that has gone into the plating, the presentation, the decision to use certain pairings to produce such different flavours when combined together, the particular texture they will be presented in, the choice of components. It’s astounding. And the wine pairing doesn’t go unnoticed. I am looking forward to the five course Tuesday nights Chef’s Table.

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  1. popcornandtoast posted this
2012 The AGFG ^^^ 600D Crab Ripponlea San Pellegrino's 2012 World Best 100 Wine and dine G12 2011 The AGFG ^^^ Wine pairing Molecular gastronomy Dessert Sweet treats Attica
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