169 Domain Road
La Zuppa launched their What’s Your Flavour? competition in search of a new soup flavour for their 2013 range. I was invited by La Zuppa to join the panel to select the winning entry (the lucky duck gets a coveted trip to Italy’s Amalfi Coast) from the five finalists.
As part of the event, La Zuppa has a giveaway for P&T readers, information on how to enter at the end of the post.
La Zuppa’s soups come in microwaveable bowls & prides itself on being all natural, free from additives and are 99% fat free.
The tasting was held at The Botanical, their private dining room is gorgeous, blue skies & sunshine streaming through the skylight.
Luke Burgess, The Botanical’s head chef, was tasked with creating the soups, based on the finalists’ submissions, some of which came with a recipe or just the name alone. As well as an accompaniment plate, which took its cue from the soup.
mexican corn // chipotle prawn, watermelon, chilli & corn salsa
The first soup, was a firecracker. Paying homage to the Mexican wave that has taken Melbourne by storm - real heat coming through from the chilli, the creamy corn itself was quite mild, not at all what you would expect from the bold golden hue, sweet crunch of watermelon slivers & a hint of coriander.
Paired with a mild 2010 Shelmerdine Sauvignon Blanc, Yarra Valley.
carrot & ginger, coriander // white cooked chicken, sesame, chilli & soy
Like the Mexican corn soup, another fresh unique flavour. A pleasant surprise, it’s lightly sweet & creamy, but perfectly so, it’s almost hard to pinpoint the carrot, with mild heat but strong flavours coming from the ginger.
Paired with a 2010 Te Mata Estate Woodthorpe Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Hawks Bay, more acidic than the Yarra Valley sauv blanc that preceded, full of citrus & lime.
chicken, sweet potato & corn // steamed hapuka, corn & coriander salsa
Chicken has always been at the forefront in terms of flavour profile, it’s light & comforting and makes you want more. The hearty sweet potato makes for an interesting twist.
Paired with a 2010 Curlewis ‘Bel Sel’ Chardonnay, Geelong good acidity and well balanced, buttery & creamy.
tuscan vegetable with beans // pork cotoletta, italian coleslaw
Wonderfully hearty & rich yet light, a play on the elements with the heaviness of the beans playing off the crisp lightness of celery.
Paired with a 2011 Red Claw Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula, light, juicy & simple, with the pepperiness coming into play with the pork.
curried pumpkin // lamb rogan josh, raita
An established flavour, but the curry is the pumpkin’s edge. Crunch from the pumpkin seeds, not much heat and luxuriously creamy.
Paired with a 2010 Giant Steps ‘Sexton Vineyard’ Merlot, Yarra Valley, big & ripe.
chocolate mousse gateau with citrus, cointreau bavarois, citrus terrine // lime cheesecake, strawberry essence, kiwi fruit, candied celery
Creamy layers of chocolate mousse with aerated oranges, with a honeycomb texture.
Paired with a 2010 Mitchell Noble Semillon, Clare Valley, sweet with exotic quince & apple. Slight acidity with Clare Valley being quite cold.
The winner will be announced on La Zuppa’s Facebook Page.
In conjunction with the event, La Zuppa have been kind enough to give away a $200 food & beverage voucher for The Botanical valid for twelve months, so this giveaway will be open to anyone who will be in Melbourne during this period.
To enter the giveaway:
Comment below & e-mail me, telling me which of the soups featured in this post would be your pick and would have you running out to the stores to pick one up.
This giveaway is open for one week and will end on Tuesday, September 25th, 2012 at 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time. The winner will be announced here and will be contacted via email. Winner must reply back with their address within 1 week or a new winner will be chosen.
UPDATE: The giveaway has now closed and the winner is Lady Cupcake. PR Edge will be contacting you directly via e-mail. Thank you to all who participated in the giveaway! x
37 Dukes Walk
A few weeks ago, we were invited to the newly opened Shed 5, which sits alongside the likes of Akachochin and the Sharing House, adding a touch of Mediterranean to the host of restaurants and bars quietly taking over South Wharf.
Our gracious host, owner Stan Sarris regales us with stories of how he grew up sharing food round the table, and Shed 5 is very much based around this concept. Greek Sicilian Cyprian Spanish Italian influences feature throughout the menu.
The first thing I fell in love with was the house made bread. Those gorgeous long loaves of flat bread were beautifully fragrant of sesame seeds and unanimously more-ish.
flatbread, fava puree, fried chickpeas, shallots & hazelnuts // ‘nduja & mozzarella croquettes, oregano & rosemary aioli // saganaki cheese, grilled onions, roasted peppers, barberry
The fava puree is quite velvety, with crunchy bites of airy golden fried chickpeas and roasted hazelnuts, and hints of mint, garlic, onions. I would take any excuse to get at more of that flatbread.
I adored the spicy kick of ‘Nduja at Bocca di Lupo, but this was much milder. The mozzarella was wonderfully creamy and light encased in a light crunchy golden batter.
The saganaki cheese was divine. In Greece, they use honey, but here they use wholesome soft vibrant peppers & red onions for a touch of sweetness. We were lucky in that the pans were fresh out of the wood-fired oven and straight onto our tables. The sides of the kefalograviera cheese, (a handful of a name, saganaki refers to the style of cooking not the cheese itself, but boy was it a rich molten oozy mouthful) were tinged by a dark golden cheesy crust from where it seared off in the oven.
smoked eel, ocean trout, capers, sherry rillettes // cyprian lamb & pork meatballs, tomato & cinnamon sauce, truffled pecorino // slow cooked wa octopus, saffron kipflers, capers, sorrel mayo
A layer of golden butter sealed the smoked eel & ocean trout jar - subtle in flavour and less of a spread, more of a rough blend of the two, making for a substantial bite.
The octopus is braised gently before being finished in the wood-fired oven.
slow roasted lamb neck, dates, pinenuts, capers // king green prawns, barrel aged feta, tomatoes, sorrel // bannockburn half chicken, green raisins, pinenuts, roasted chestnut dolmades
The lamb neck fell apart easily but wasn’t gelatinous or as juicy as I had hoped given it was slow roasted for 12 hours. But those dates, they were caramelised warm sticky rich slow bites. Bites of pure pleasure.
Chickens don’t excite me. This was roasted in the wood-fire oven for 16 hours - the skin of the chicken drumstick was lightly crisp, the flesh was silky and juicy. The other parts, not so much.
spiced halva semifreddo, quince sorbet, salted caramel, ricotta doughnut // goats milk crema, walnut baklava, chocolate & coffee sorbet, metaxa jelly
I have to say the starters and the sweet treats were my favourites. Cool creamy semifreddo with thick salted caramel. But the crema stole the spotlight. You hear cream, you hear coffee, and visually it looks like an affogatto - I expected it to be heavy, but it’s a remarkably light dessert. Crunchy biscotti to the side, you have soft silky textures of light goat’s milk pannacotta, flaky light baklava crumbs, and smooth icy espresso sorbet.
Mediterranean cuisine isn’t something I go for very often, but the menu has its interesting quirks. The saganaki cheese with the soft peppers, those caramelised dates, that housemade bread. On the cards are suckling pigs, whole goats, salt crusted fish for large groups to pre-order. Not a bad idea.
NOTE: I was extended an invitation by Shed 5 & Gun Communications, and this review is based solely on my personal thoughts of the atmosphere, the quality and aesthetics of the food & sweets treats we were presented with on the night.
Corner Claremont Street & Yarra Lane
I must have been really really good last year. I’ve barely gotten over the fact that Two Birds, One Stone has settled in seven tram stops away from me. And now we’ve been blessed with the arrival of Claremont Tonic.
Brought to you by the brains behind Touche Hombre, I was invited by the Davis Group & AMPR to Claremont Tonic, a place that needs no spruiking. If you like the heady potent flavours of Coda and Chin Chin, here’s a new Asian fusion to add to the mix. I brought along a plus one (I paid for my date), and mid way through we were already discussing when we’d be back next and who we’d be bringing.
Raw and edgy, from the fitout to the drinks, led by a head chef with credentials like Ezard, plating up contemporary fresh exciting food.
I was eyeing the C-Bomb - straight out of a carved watermelon, one I’ll most definitely be back for and a brilliant one to share.
You, Me, Oui - Four Pina Coladas with Pineapple Juice, Coconut Milk, Fresh Lime Juice, Almonds & Rum ($55)
Passionfruit, Fresh Honey Comb, Vietnamese Mint & Candy Swirl
I was seduced by the accompaniments which intensified the flavours of the thick milky pina colada but was probably too heavy in contrast with the lightness and the freshness of the plates we ordered.
Flied Plawn - Fried Toast with Whipped Shrimp & Lemon ($12)
A play on prawn toast, something I’ve only had for the first and last time probably two years back. You bite through the closely huddled black & white sesame seeds on toast for a light crunch, the whipped shrimp encased within is soft juicy and fresh. Topped with a dollop of cream, hints of lemon, a heap of fresh green coriander leaves.
King of the Chimichangas - Raw King Salmon, Nori Tacos & Box of Condiments ($19)
DIY style, you have two lightly battered crisp nori shells mimicking empty taco shells, and a wooden box all four corners brimming with raw silky king salmon, avocado, wasabi mayo, creme fraiche, gleaming cod roe and sushi rice. Done two ways, you can break & dip, or take a clean even scoop from one side to the next and fill your taco up for a messier bite. Soft silky, light popping of oily roe, creaminess from the avocado mayo, a slower creamy resistance from the rice and crunchy textures from the nori shell.
Pork Bun Animal Style - Pork Belly, Crackling, Double Pineapple (Achar & Grilled) & Quail Egg ($12)
Absolutely giving Golden Fields’ lobster roll a run for its money, you have these soft pillowy golden brioche buns, crisp yet oily fatty textures of pork belly, sweet juicy pineapple bites, contrasting light quail egg with the richness of its yolk, garnished with onions, coriander and a distinct almost plum sauce. All I can remember is the softness of those buns, slowly caving down and melding into the silky pork belly slivers.
Soft Shell Crab Cups - Lettuce, Pomelo, Jalapeno, Avocado, Fiery Mint & Pine Nut ($19)
Lightly battered generous soft shell crabs with sweet pomelo, coriander mint, creamy avocado, a jalapeno kick and a vibrant green lettuce cup to bring it altogether. There are plenty of flavours battling with each other to get your attention.
Slow Cooked Pork Jowl, Pear, Maltose, Almond & Coriander ($26)
We only ordered one off the larger dishes, purely because we saw plenty from the smaller plates we had to have. It was this dish, that had me bbm-ing my dad, telling him there was a pork jowl dish with his name on it when they swing by in September.
Layers of luscious soft melt in your mouth fat and juicy meat, concealed by a glistening golden maltose sheet that gives you the sweet crackly crunch you crave. With a fresh sweet pear shards, fish sauce, coriander & onion accompaniment to cut through the richness.
Chicken Wing Dumpling - Spiced Vinegar, Egg Yolk & Crispy Skin ($18)
Dumplings don’t do it for me, this didn’t convert me. You have a bouncy filling seated on chicken within the taut smooth dumpling wrappers and an airey crisp chicken skin for crunch.
The golden yolk in a pool of vinegar, broken and beaten to form a dipping sauce.
Double Duck Blinis - Peking Duck, Pate, Cucumber, Hoisin & Caviar Aioli ($22)
I come across blinis as hor d’oeuvres, often with smoked salmon & salmon roe but they are completely let down by the crusty stale blini.
As a whole mouthful, you have these soft spongey blinis, pink tender duck, freshness from the cucumber slice, the creamy earthy richness from the pate and the caviar aioli.
We had to forego the sweets but I will be back for that spiced carrot cake.
A running theme throughout the night - the dishes are familiar, often comforting and they tweak it so it’s exciting visually and on your palate. Beautifully fresh, and the things you love most are elevated up a notch and brought to the forefront, whether it’s that juicy whipped prawn, the softness of the brioche becoming one with the pork belly slivers, or that crackly crisp coat shielding those translucent layers of fat in the pork jowl. It’s smart and thoughtful. We need more places like this - delivering fresh quality produce and food that gets you excited.
NOTE: I was extended an invitation by Claremont Tonic & AMPR, and this review is based solely on my personal thoughts of the atmosphere, the quality and aesthetics of the food we were presented with on the night.
74 Bourke Street
Freshly made pasta is absolutely divine, but it’s quite a daunting task. I was invited by Bottega & AMPR to a preview of their pasta making classes with head chef Gabriele Olivieri, which will be held over two weekends only - the first two Saturdays in August. He made it look dead easy and his flawless routine almost had me convinced that I could make fresh pasta from scratch.
Chef Olivieri begins by pouring the eggs in the middle of the flour fountain, and incorporates the flour bit by bit with one hand. Using 750g of flour, 150g of semolina & 10 yolks to form the dough, which can be used for all types of dry pasta, including tagliolini, tagliatelle, pappardelle.
Eventually working up to kneading the dough with both hands. When it’s compacted together, it’s ready to be rested for 30 minutes.
Taken near the start, but he eventually rolls it down to a mere six millimetres.
Beautiful sleek sheets after repeated flour tosses, graceful folding & runs through the pasta machine.
Bottega’s signature pasta and definitely one of my favourites. There’s a real freshness in each bite, so smooth yet has a wonderful bite.
Watching Chef Olivieri spin out these perfectly neat strozzapreti twirls is a treat. He operates like a well-oiled machine and with each rub of his hands, out flies this soft strozzapreti twirl.
Deft precise knife skills.
Forming these gorgeous long strands.
The strozzapreti is classically tossed in a bolognese or with seafood.
Chef Olivieri whips up a little plate of strozzapreti bolognese for us and it was just perfect. Beautifully al dente, silky smooth.
Chef Olivieri has been making pasta since he was fifteen. That’s a lot of catching up I have to do. But fresh pasta is just worlds apart from store bought pasta, it’s absolutely worth the effort.
Last night I was invited to the 2012 Eat Street by AMPR at Sofitel Hotel, a fundraising charity event for Cancer charity Redkite.
Themed a dash of red, this is an event that is open to the public ($155), with unlimited tastings of signature dishes & vintages from Melbourne restaurants & Australian wineries alike.
The offerings were in abundance and here’s a glimpse into some of my favourites of the night.
Raspberry Ganache, Honey & Almond, Caramel Mousse, Orange Cointreau, French Early Grey, Oriental Spice, Noir 75%
Ganache Chocolate had a decadent setup - highlights were the richness of their Valrhona Truffle made with french couverture. Master Chocolatier Arno Backes was on hand to introduce this creamy chewy honey caramel with oranges & almond praline which I adored - something he had whipped up, and is not available at the shops. I’m not surprised they used to provide the Honey & Almond to the royal family.
Papa Goose plated up a wagyu bresaola wrapped scallop but I was particularly intrigued by one component of their dessert, a play on banana & toffee. Cake mix & nitrous oxide - popped in the microwave for 30 seconds, and I marvelled at the product - a hot fluffy soft banana cake.
Along with King Island Dairy, Calendar Cheese had a generous array of cheeses, ranging from the Australian Pyengana Cheddar to the creamy Rouzire Brillat Savarin from France.
I gravitated straight for the blue - the creamy Italian Defendi Cremosa gorgonzola.
Nitro Punch - Ketel One Vodka, St Germaine Elderflower Liqueur, Oolong Berry Tea, Russian Caravan Tea, Lemon Juice, Grapefruit Bitters
I appreciated the whimsy of Eau de Vie Melbourne’s set up. From the white mist enveloping the glass punchbowl.
Blue Blazer - Johnny Walker Gold, Mead, Wattle Toffee Liqueur, Dry Sherry
Bright blue tins set on fire to yield the warm whiskey drink.
The inspiration behind their logo.
La Rosa - Tequila, Citrus, Pomegranate, Mandarin Liqueur, Rose Water & Egg White
The furious shaking of the mixologist produced this gorgeous blush cocktail, complete with a rose bud set on a foam pillow.
After my delightful encounter with Eau de Vie Prahran, I’ve been eyeing the cocktail degustation ($150) at EDV Melbourne. And tonight was all the convincing I needed.
Gingerbread, Mandarin Jelly, Banana Mousse & Mandarin Coulis
La Petit Gateau had this moist gingerbread with soft banana mousse.
Poached Pears, Chantilly Cream, Caramel Sauce & Chestnut Puree
Yellow Chicken Curry
Coda has these silky juicy chicken threads which fell apart in your mouth, in a beautifully fragrant and creamy curry. Served with fluffy coconut rice & coriander. I’ve said before chicken is something I rarely order but Asian cuisine must have a secret for cooking chicken just the way I like it.
I arrived slightly late and was not surprised to learn that their first offering, a pork & prawn salad had been demolished.
Mushroom Trifle - Mushroom Sponge, Chestnut Cream, Edible Mushroom Soil, Feta Foam, Crispy Chestnut Noodle
George Calombaris’ entire family of restaurants were there, but there were two offerings I particularly enjoyed. The Press Club presented a cold mushroom trifle that was intriguing to behold, as pretty as a sweet treat, but you have rich textures and flavours of mushroom contrasting with the soft feta cream.
Pork Shoulder Souvlaki
Hellenic Republic’s hot tender juicy pork shoulder, crisp crunchy thick golden fries, a tangy golden mustard with fresh parsley was a crowd pleaser.
Spiced Roasted Lamb Shoulder, Dukkah & Pomegranate
He Says, She Says had a tender lamb shoulder, with sweet pomegranate bites.
Lemon Curd, Sponge & Meringue
PM24 had two lemon desserts, including a lemon syrup cake.
Shabu Shabu - Sliced David Blackmore Wagyu Karubi, Shiitake Mushroom, Togarashi, Carrot Flowers & Beef Consomme
The Point had silky slices of melt in your mouth wagyu, in a fresh and light beef consomme.
The marbling on the wagyu was gorgeous.
Chambord rivalled Eau de Vie with cocktail creativity.
A cocktail of french martini with agar-agar.
French Martini, Charred Pineapple Foam & Chambord Caviar
Topped with lime zest.
Chambord, Finlandia Vodka, Pineapple Juice
Chilled quickly with liquid nitro.
Taxi’s Sticky Pork with Red Nahm Jim
One of my absolute absolute favourites from the night was Taxi’s sticky chewy pork slivers in a tangy fragrant savoury bright red nahm jim which packs a punch.
Chicken & Coconut Soup with Kaffir Lime Leaves
A rich creamy coconut concoction, velvety with lemongrass and fish sauce aromats. A neat little takeaway box of macarons to round off their wonderful offerings.
Salted Caramel, Raspberry, Vanilla Caramel, Lemon, Pistachio, Chocolate & Orange
A bright vibrant multi-colored offering from A La Folie. The salted caramel was more subdued with a firm chewy bite but the bright fuchsia raspberry macaron was ridiculously light, crumbling beautifully in your mouth with a fragrant ganache within.
Paying tribute to Redkite, the chocolate coated macaron pops were delightful, adding a creamy luxurious coating to the macaron bite.
Bottega had dainty ox tongue crocchette bites.
Gianduja Chocolate Cremoso, Chocolate Sponge, Hazelnut Praline & Amarena Cherry
But one of my favourite desserts was Bottega’s cold creamy luscious Gianduja chocolate, with a fluffy soft chocolate cake crumbs, crunchy hazelnut rounds and sweet juicy cherries.
Cloudy Apple & Wild Tea
Of the two flavoured vodkas showcased by Absolut, their latest release - the wild tea stole the spotlight. Very light with earthy tea tones.
Vanilla & Cranberry
I particularly love how Absolut infuses so much flavour within the vodka that it pushes through the mix and is the star on your palate. I’m looking forward to the Absolut Mango I picked up last week.
Australian wineries were in full attendance. Alongside Yering Station, De Bertoli, Catalina Sounds, Taylor’s & Treasury Wine Estate, Le Cirque Wine Co offeres quirky circus-themed reds, with a white being released later in the year.
Sour Cream, Pumpkin & Caramel
I couldn’t resist Estelle Bar & Kitchen’s sweet which I’ve had before. The sour cream sorbet is so refreshingly light and milky.
Apart from the ones above, I haven’t even grazed the full extent of the generosity shown throughout the night with wonderful offerings from Pei Modern, No 35 & Ezard and many others. Most restaurants showcased two to three bites.
With all proceeds going to charity, one of the coveted silent auction items was this sleek Bio Ethanol Fireplace by Designer Fire.
There’s a little something for everyone. Elmo for the tiny tots.
Sleek Riedel glassware.
A bright yellow Lavazza coffee maker which I may or may not have a put bid down for. It’s for a good cause - and I figured it would pair perfectly with my scarlet red Delonghi kettle.
I was also eyeing the Endota three hour spa treatment, sitting alongside 6 bottles of limited edition Taylor’s heritage wines.
Quirkier items included a mask.
And Black Caviar’s salmon & black race colours.
The last item of the live auction was subject to frenzied and heated bidding. A long weekend to St Tropez, including flights and accommodation in a five-star chateau, with transport courtesy of Peugeot. Bidding started at $2,500 and in an exciting flurry of bids, fell into the lap of the lady in electric blue for $7,000.
It was a wonderful night out, the crowd was in great spirits, buoyed by good food and good wine, generosity was in full flow with all proceeds going to Cancer Charity Redkite.