650 Andersons Road
There’s something beautifully simple and honest about Loam. One of our regional wonders, with exquisite plates & the freshest of ingredients, it’s hard not to fall in love. A little over an hour and a half drive away, we nearly lose our way and wind up a little late for our reservation.
Just as we backtrack down Andersons Road, the other half of Loam, our wonderful host Astrid Turner calls up to ensure we hadn’t gotten too lost. Word to the wise if you’re making your way down at night and you’re coming down Soho Road, as you turn left into Andersons Road, look out for the little lights on the right dotting down the driveway. If all else fails, just look for the huge sign that says Loam, which we inexplicably missed.
Far too cold to be seated outside, though I look forward to coming back on a warm sunny day, despite being all surrounded by glass panels, it’s cosy and incredibly warm within, particularly as the night wore on. The most gorgeous array of herbs in the middle of the room.
To start, we are presented with the seasonal produce they have in the kitchen. And based on your personal preferences, they will tailor a menu according to your tastes.
In addition, we are offered the four course ($60), the seven course ($100) or the nine course ($125), with accompanying wine pairings of $50, $85 and $110 respectively. We were later extended the delight of continuing with a few more courses, which I will most definitely be taking them up on on my next visit.
We opt for the nine course & wine pairing ($235) and everything is fair game, yes even the Yarrow (herb), Purslane (herb), Samphire (herb), Mallow (herb) and Borage (herb).
Stoneground Whole Wheat & Rye, Batard, Olive & Rosemary
Reinforcing his love for showcasing local produce, we are offered a selection of certified organic sourdough from Zeally Bay Bakery in Torquay throughout the night.
The house churned unsalted butter is beautifully whipped and airy, your mouth is filled with the aroma of the slowly burnt leek ash. I do lament the lack of a satisfying creamy butter - a guilty pleasure of mine, but a true testament of the butter’s lightness and fluffiness on the night.
We begin with a selection of “snacks” for the table.
A short buttery french style Parmesan biscuit, dusted lightly with balsamic vinegar.
Brined in sea water and topped with jamaican jerk spice with a dulse seaweed emulsion.
Sea Bounty Mussels
Lightly cooked in their own juices, the mussels are pure, fresh and deliciously briny.
2010 Equipo Navazos Niepoort Vino Blanco Jerez
An interesting label, Equipo Navazos being Spanish & Niepoort being Portugese. Made from a traditional sherry grape of Spain. Broader on the palate, it’s intended to match the intensity, the minerality and the high acidity of the first course.
Paired with the course, it takes the edge off, but still retains the minerality and clean flavours.
Squid, Ink & Unripe Tomato
The creaminess of the fresh squid tendrils, tainted with squid ink, contrasting with the tang of the juices of the unripe tomatoes, which almost cleans the palate for more of the richness of the squid, with a little crunch for texture.
2008 Francois Chidaine ‘Les Tuffeaux’ Montlouis Sur Loire
Montluis, Vouvray & Touraine. From the North of France - Loire Valley, a beautiful luscious wine with residual sugar, with a glossy soft delicate finish, mirroring the subtle delicate flavours and textures of the next course. A gorgeous pairing.
Yabby, Melon, Turnip, Macadamia & Celery
The sweet cold fresh yabby morsels are caught locally and are so creamy, with the clean fresh flavours of the honey dew rounds, shaved macadamia which were light airy and had an underlying sweetness, and the fragrant celery leaves. The course came together beautifully. Different textures and similar flavour profiles which complemented.
2010 Leura Park ‘Voix de la Terre’ Fume Blanc
Just a few kilometres down the road from Loam, this local fume blanc has spent quite a fair bit of time in oak and has developed stone fruit aromas, intended to cut through the viscosity of next course.
It’s quite clean and the flavours of the various greens of the course carry through beautifully.
Yolk, Autumn Vegetables, Sherry Vinegar & Oatmeal Oil
A little nest of dehydrated greens, we have cabbage, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, asparagus and chevril. It’s intriguing to see how they dissipate differently in different shades. Crunchy, crispy leaves with a myriad of intensified flavours, paired beautifully with the richness of the slow cooked organic free range yolk buried beneath, in a pool of pedro ximenez sherry vinegar which cuts through the creaminess perfectly.
2011 Jauma ‘Blewitt Springs’ Chenin Blanc
Made North East of McLaren Vale, this Chenin Blanc was made naturally and fermented wildly hence fermented all the way through. It’s not filtered nor refined, hence the cloudy mist within the glass.
This particular pairing was chosen as the cobia is naturally sweet and the lemon and tomato notes are naturally acidic, any other wine with residual sugar would blow the sugars out of proportion. This wine is dry with no residual sugar, very crisp and clean, but not too acidic. It really is fragrant with aromatic beer hops, this eruption of malt.
Cobia, Tomato Seeds, Salted Lemon & Samphire
The Cobia is from the coast of NSW and is gorgeously fresh, with a firm texture, presented on cherry tomato seeds, pickled basil seeds. There are these sweet chewy cherry tomatoes and whole salted lemon. Finished off with samphire juice to naturally season the course, which I found to have quite a intense grassy taste. Just beautiful tomato and lemon flavours echoing in this course.
2011 Brash Higgins ‘NDV” Nero d’Avola The Amphora Project
From McLaren Vale, taking inspiration from the South of Sicily in their first vintage, it’s a fruit driven wine, not as heavy as you think it would be, chosen to meet the boldness of flavours of the artichokes and the savoury pork neck.
Capicola, Jerusalem Artichoke, Salt & Vinegar Garlic
The baby jerusalem artichokes were grown by a local farmer just up the road from Loam. They were taken out earlier than they should have been - to coax out more flavour they’ve been roasted with their skins on, with salt and vinegar garlic. The house cured pork neck is fragrant and quite intense, with a very light garlic cream coating the slightly sweet velvety artichoke.
With Loam, they really keep it quite simple, with clean flavours - showcasing their primary ingredients and letting the quality speak for itself.
2009 Murgo Etna Rosso Nerello Mascales Nerello Mantellato
From the base of Mount Etna in Sicily, there are two grape varietals in this wine, both of which are indigenous to the area - Nerello Mascales & Nerello Mantellato. It’s very light in style, soft and voluptuous. There is a little bit of grip, which is great for the gaminess. The intention is not to overpower particular elements which are quite light and bright in the next course, with too much tannin or too much weight. They’ve tried to find a balance between the two, selecting something that is lighter than what game usually requires.
Squab & its heart, Peas, Rice Starch & Licorice
The next course is a beautifully pink and tender squab breast from Glenloch. Seated on a bed of diced squab heart which has been tossed with sweet peas that were cooked in rice starch and butter, not unlike a risotto. There’s a lot of lightness in this dish, from the licorice to the jus.
2008 Eric Bordelet Sydre Brut ‘Tendre’
The cider is from Normandy, with a crisp and clean cleansing finish. Brut Tendre - the bone dryness was intended to cut through unctuous texture of the course.
The bubble from the cider is quite refreshing and I find myself quite ready to take the next bite.
Pork Jowl, Watercress, Pear & Lettuce Hearts
We forewent the cheese platter for a main.
Western Plains pork jowl cooked for 17 hours and pan seared at the end. It melts exquisitely in your mouth, just this gorgeous luscious sliver of pork, with crisp golden skin. Accompanied with a refreshing watercress puree, sweet pear & lettuce core. Garnished with samphire.
2011 Massolino Moscato d’Asti
Why is it such a sin to adore sweet wines? The Moscato is beautiful. From the Massolino winery, Piedmont, North of Italy. Just a light round effervescent, intended to gently cleanse the first dessert and highlight the natural sugars of this course.
Ridiculously fragrant and bubbly, it retains its sweetness in spite of the beautiful flavours of the next course.
Strawberry & Pickled Pine
The air was fragrant with the sweetness of the strawberries. We have these darling juicy soft fresh strawberries contrasting with the almost rough texture of the dehydrated strawberries which almost feel quite sticky in your mouth. A very light pine needle infused creamy goat’s cheese at the bottom finished with pine needle gel and pine oil.
2007 Domaine Andre et Mireille Tissot Arbois Savagnin
The intention is to start and finish with similar styles of wine. Made with sherry yeast west of Geneva, it forms a cap on top of the wine, infusing the wine with intense sherry yeasty qualites. As the onion ice-cream and quinoa paper is quite savoury, te pairing follows in a similar strain of flavour profile.
I personally found it very strong, dry and quite sour. I’m not entirely sure if this complemented the course, or would complement any course.
Onion, Honeycomb, Quinoa & Meyer Lemon
I was hoping for a blue cheese ice cream. But we were presented with this cold creamy onion ice cream, that is frighteningly quite like taking a bite of caramelised onions. And yet combined with the crunchy sweet house made honey comb, with the paper thin quinoa wafer almost like the flavour of cornflakes - the onion flavour remains true, and yet it almost fades slightly to work beautifully in this sweet, sticky, crumbly, crunchy, crispy, creamy, sweet, savoury whirlwind of flavours and textures.
A light crunch to reveal a white tea jelly, with sugary potent flavours.
Lemon Curd Tartlets
Sour lemon curd with the thinnest shortest pastry, topped with rosemary blossoms.
Loam was beautifully simple in its own way. There’s not a whole lot going on the dish to cloud and hide and bury. Every component stands proudly on its own two feet, and cooked to perfection. Some of the rawness of the flavours can be a little potent on its own - samphire juice I’m looking at you, but each plate is a beauty to behold and on my return, I will most definitely be looking to add a few more courses to the nine-course. I could probably have done with another three courses truth be told.