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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Lunch @ La Luna Bistro

It certainly hasn't taken us that long to return to La Luna.

Assorted Cured Meat tasting plate with mixed breads (17.50)

We decide to share a platter of La Luna's very own cured meats having enjoyed them during the Suckling Pig dinner. Once again there is Coppa Collo, Hot and Mild Salami, Bresaola and a disc of hazelnut studded terrine. It's served with a large basket of both crispy and fresh bread.

To drink: Paalo tried the Moo Pale Ale from Tasmania's Moorilla Estate and I had a glass of Prosecco.

Three types of La Luna Sausages with Lyonnaise Onions and Organic Nicola mash potato (31.50)

As an englishman, Paalo does love a good sausage and he just loved the sausages offered during the Suckling Pig dinner. That he choose this dish was a no-brainer. On the skewer sat a pork and fennel sausage, a beef and chilli sausage and a veal and mushroom sausage. What Paalo especially liked were their rough texture, they hadn't been minced to some unidentifiable mush - there's substance to these sausages.

Nicola Potato Gnocchi with garlic, chilli, napoli and pesto (19.50)

It's most unusual for me to order Gnocchi but based on the food that's come out of La Luna's kitchen I should get something authentic.

My reluctance is based on the generally abysmal way they have been made here in Australia - they are abominations made with tonnes of flour and come out in sizes that rival a child's fist and require a knife to cut into them - they are everything that gnocchi are not supposed to be. Having grown up with a Mother who makes them as light as a feather and experienced their true taste, anything short on that standard is a failure.

Now, I would say that these gnocchi were a little on the large size for my tastes but in comparison to others out there, they were more than reasonable. Tastewise was predominately potato but I'd say that egg was used in the dough. It's a hearty dish.

To go with our mains we both opted for a glass of the 2005 Sorrenberg Gamay.

We weren't going to have a dessert but the offer of this little tasting plate was too good to refuse:

Creme Brulee with Vanilla Ice Cream and Biscotti

At the suckling pig dinner, Paalo missed out on tasting the creme brulee so he happily made up for that. This lead to a discussion about his preferred "creme to brulee" ratio and he decided he liked this type of presentation - a thin topping over a thick layer of creme.

The ice-cream was excellent, also made in-house with a fantastic speckled appearance. I don't know but when vanilla ice-cream is done well it really can't be beaten.

The details:
La Luna Bistro
320 Rathdowne Street, Carlton
Phone: 03 9349 4888

Tuesday-Friday: Noon - 3pm

Tuesday-Sunday: 6pm-10pm

Saturday-Sunday: 10am-3pm


Breakfast @ Enoteca Sileno

As we're in the area having visited the CERES organic market and come away empty handed we head over to Enoteca Sileno to get some goodies for Easter and indulge in a little breakfast.


Paalo decides to go for something sweet

Bruschetta with poached pears and mascarpone

and I opt for something savoury

Bortolotti beans with Eggs

The beans were actually very light, the tomato sauce based on chicken stock - quite different to traditional baked beans. Two eggs had been cooked into the beans.

The bruschetta was perfect - a wonderfully delicious combination.

The Details:

Enoteca Sileno - Vino Bar

920 Lygon Street, Carlton
corner of Lygon and Richardson Streets
Phone: 03 9389 7070

Monday: 8am - 4pm
Tuesday - Saturday: 8am - Late
Sunday: 9am - 5pm

closed Good Friday & Easter Monday


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Event - Fenix

This is the last event held at Fenix as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and was called Good Wine, Bad Wine.

The event description was as follows:

Some rules are meant to be broken! Or when it comes to food and wine matching perhaps they are not. Each of the five courses will feature a traditional wine pairing and an alternative beverage matching. Then the floor will be thrown open for discussion, appreciation or disgust.

Once again we're in the same private room and yet again it's been configured in a new way and proved to be an excellent formation to get people involved in the discussion.


On arrival we are offered a choice of Martini or Knappstein Reserve Lager while we wait. Tonight's host was Patrick Walsh.


Yabbies: Jasmine, Tapioca, Lychee
2005 Cavallina Grecanico, Sicily, Italy
2004 Marenco Scrapona Moscato D'Asti, Piedmonte, Italy

We began with yabbies that had been seared on just one side and they were served atop tapioca that was studded with pieces of lychee and fragranced by jasmine flowers.

The two wines were total opposites, the Grecanico dry and the Moscato, sweet and spritzy. It was interesting to discover that you could drink both wines with this dish, though I tended to prefer the Moscato - frankly I don't need much of an excuse to indulge in a glass of Moscato. I felt that the Grecanico, depending on the combination of flavours you'd just ingested seemed to just die in the mouth, it's flavour ending abruptly whereas the Moscato tended to linger.

Tomatoes, Tomatoes: sorbet of white chocolate and sorrel, basil dust
2006 Scorpo Pinot Gris, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
2005 Somerbury Estate Jones Road Chardonnay, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

A mix of local Yarra Valley tomatoes including green zebras and tomatillo served in a tomato broth and a gorgeous sorrel and white chocolate sorbet.



36 Hour Cooked Lamb: baby leek, eggplant, hazelnuts
2005 Bass Phillip Gamay, Gippsland, Victoria
Tappeto Volante, Biella, Italy

Lamb neck cooked at 55°C for 36 hours draped with baby leeks and served ontop of an eggplant puree with a splattering of crushed hazelnuts.

The Gamay was a wine in need of food - not quite the type that you could just sip. As the Tappeto Volante is a beer it was met with trepidation and the usual unwillingness to taste it. This was probably the least enjoyed round by the group judging by the still full glasses dotting the table.

NV Chambers Rosewood Vineyards Muscadelle, Rutherglen, Victoria
2005 Punt Road Botrytis Semillon, Yarra Valley, Victoria

Isn't that such a gorgeous sight? Ooozingly beautiful and served alongside braised witlof.

Although the Punt Road proved to be the more popular match, overwhelming we all wanted to just drink the Muscadelle.

Tahitian Vanilla Mousse: sorbet of cucumber, tropical flavours
NV Yarrabank Crème de Cuvee, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Dave the Bar Mans Sour Apple Shot

There's been a last minute change and we won't be having the green apple sorbet shown on the menu but the Vanilla Mousse as tasted at the Future of Desserts Event.

Some sipped, some passed it by and others "shot" the shot as intended. Quite the cleansing drop.

The details:

Fenix can be found at
680 Victoria Street Richmond
(03) 9427 8500

Tuesday - Sunday for Lunch
Tuesday - Saturday for Dinner


Monday, March 26, 2007

Event - Fenix

Part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival this event was called Desserts of the Future and was hosted at Fenix.

The event description was as follows:

Join Fenix's Raymond Capaldi and his pastry chef Pierre Roelofs for a flurry of inspired sweet courses that will tempt you beyond your expectations. The journey commences with a specially designed main course followed by four dessert courses matched with wines. Along the way you will examine and experience the future directions of desserts, global trends with a surprise guest or two, and challenge your perceptions in a playful way

We're in the same room as last night but in a totally different combination and by the number of seats, it's the biggest event to date.


A last minute arrangement has seen Will Goldfarb from New York's Room 4 Dessert prepare a special dessert from his restaurant.


Before we begin Will is introduced and gives us a look at his venture into Second Life. Second Life has certainly been making the news of late and Will has created a way to virtually try 5 of his most well-known desserts. For a mere 1 Linden you get a dessert which is actually the recipe. Paalo is already planning to visit as soon as we get home and I can't wait to see the recipes!

Paalo comment follows: and I did. go to mama sugar and maybe you will bump into me, I'll haunt it for a while to see who turns up.
And I have the recipes though I can't understand them!

36 hour lamb
36 hour cooked Lamb: eggplant romesco, roast pepper oil
2005 Coldstream Hills Merlot, Yarra Valley, Victoria

The lamb is lamb neck and it's fork tender which a rich flavour. The eggplant romesco is the puree that sits underneath the lamb and we're also treated to a piece of roasted red pepper. A most satisfying dish to begin our journey.

sandwich sandwich
Ice cream Sandwich by Will Goldfarb
2006 Yering Station Late Harvest Pinot Gris, Yarra Valley, Victoria

To the left is a quenelle of Epoisse cheese and the to the right, vanilla ice cream with smoked salt both sitting atop a sable biscuit.

Tahitian Vanilla Mousse: sorbet of cucumber, tropical flavours
2004 Marenco Scrapona Moscato D'Asti, Piedmonte, Italy

The vanilla mousse is presented as a tube that runs the length of the plate - on top of it rested squares of cucumber, coconut tapioca, lime jelly, cucumber sorbet to the right just under the mango foam.

We've had variations of this dish at Fenix and I've loved them equally. The tapioca is a real eye-opener, for something that once was so commonly used it's now a rarity and eating this just makes me want to cook with it. This is a clean dessert and in balance - there are sweet elements, savoury, sour and doesn't leave you feeling as you've eaten concrete. It's a refreshing way to end a meal.

coffee and potato
Coffee and Potato: Coffee Ice Cream, potato puree, hazelnut
NV Chambers Rosewood Vineyards Muscadelle, Rutherglen, Victoria

There's been a bit of historical research done for this dish, discovering a variety of potato that was known for having hazelnut flavours. It's presented here as a "rough mash" to one side of the coffee ice cream - joining the two underneath is the hazelnut sauce.

This is probably the dish that most people were unsure of - some would have liked the potato to be presented as a smooth mash. I think the trouble is ridding people of the idea that only certain ingredients can be in a dessert and conversely only certain ingredients should be in a savoury dish.

As a devoted potato lover, what else can I say but that I loved it.

Green Apple Sorbet: parsnip, blackberry, cashew nut
NV Yarrabank Crème de Cuvee, Yarra Valley, Victoria

This is another dish that we've seen variations of in the restaurant and it's one that really won over our table. It might well have been the pick of the night. I must say it refreshing when compared to last night, that the people here tonight were really open to trying new things and weren't passing judgements until having tried the dishes.

I especially like the vinegar hit that pops up through the dessert - it seems to be a recurrent theme, the dish is balanced.

To end the evening, coffee was served with petit fours which included beetroot jellies, raspberry popsicles and salt & vinegar chocolate straws which for some odd reason I didn't take a picture of but it kinda looked like this

(instead of beetroot jellies this shows mango and passionfruit jellies)

The details:

Fenix can be found at
680 Victoria Street Richmond
(03) 9427 8500

Tuesday - Sunday for Lunch
Tuesday - Saturday for Dinner


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Event - Fenix

This is part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. A premier event hosted at Fenix that brings the taste of Mugaritz to Melbourne.

The description was as follows:

A once in a life time experience for all food lovers. Taste and witness the sparks of creativity at this truly intimate dinner.

MasterClass presenter chef/owner Andoni Luis Aduriz of 2 Michelin Star Restaurant Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Spain has chosen Fenix Restaurant for his sole appearance in the kitchen whilst in Melbourne. Described as "one of the world's most influential and thought provoking chefs", Andoni and the kitchen team at Fenix will collaborate to create a unique seven course degustation extravaganza with matching wines.

It would be an understatement to say that we have been looking forward to this since we first read about it and in honesty can say, that this exceeded anything we could have imagined.


The event was limited to 36 participants - with 6 having a closer experience from the Chef's table. Those of us in the normal room would still get a rather intimate experience of the kitchen happenings via the live cam.

dining dining

I'm not really one to take photos of people but I couldn't resist this view of Andoni focused on the preparation of the clay potatoes.

at work

Accompanying Andoni to Australia were his head Chef Daniel Lasa and sommelier Jose Ramon Calvo. We were extremely fortunate to not only meet and talk with the most charming Jose but also to meet Andoni himself. We both came away with the impression of a most humble and down to earth person with a real passion for the food he is creating.

Before the meal started a few words of introduction were spoken by Matt Preston followed by Raymond Capaldi who then introduced Andoni. He wanted us to imagine, experience and remember and it was most important for us to feel the emotion. For him, it was something that came from the heart.


On reading the menu for tonight we were over the moon to see so many classic Mugaritz dishes being recreated here we just couldn't wait to begin....


Potatoes cooked in clay, light creme of confit garlic and free range egg yolks
1985 Veuve Cliquot Rose, Reims France

The potatoes were presented in a bowl with hot stones and we were reminded to make sure we picked a potato rather than a stone. I could see a bit of doubt in some of the eyes of our fellow diners as they contemplating peeling the potato. Luckily they were soon assured that all could be eaten.

Having spied part of their preparation earlier I was immediately thrilled to know that I would soon be tasting them and indeed that satisfied any expectations. Jose had said it was important to smell and use our hands - the clay was fine like a shell offering a little crunch to the perfectly cooked potato - the creme of confit garlic was exceptionally moorish and seemed to also find it's way onto many a diner's bread.

Daikon Heart in crustacean consommé, crunchy prawn and garlic chive
1985 Veuve Cliquot Rose, Reims France

The daikon in this dish acts as a sponge to absorb all the flavours, the crunchy prawn providing a hit of flavour and a lovely textural change from the soft daikon.

lamb and tomatoes
Roasted Lamb Belly perfumed with resinous spices, organic tomatoes and simple vinaigrette
2006 S.C. Pannell Rose, McLaren Vale, South Australia

A different treatment of lamb belly when compared to Friday - here it was prosciutto-like, intensely coloured and crisp and offering salt and spice to the dish. Once again it provided another texture and flavour counter to the tomatoes, which for their own part, varied in taste and feel from one variety to another.

Representing mini mozzarellas: Buttery Cheese Gnocchi in salted pork bouillon, contrasting vegetables.
2006 Christmont Arneis, King Valley, Victoria

I think the salted pork bouillon was made from Iberico pork bones - the gnocchi were cloud like and just melted in your mouth. Many satisfied murmurs accompanied this dish. It was fascinating to watch the kitchen plating this dish and the precision and organisation required.

I've since found out how these are made and they require a thermomix - when I told Paalo this I could see that look in his eyes as he wondered how long it will be before he sees one sitting in the kitchen.

A pasta of amaranth, sardine broth and Yabbie tails, tender garden leaves.
Enterprise Knappstein Brewery, Reserve Lager, Clare Valley, South Australia

A most interesting dish - the leaves here were I thought integral to the enjoyment of this dish, they were the key to complete the offering. The leaf when filled with the amaranth and yabbie and eaten almost like a san choy bow proved to be the perfect combination - without the leaf, it felt like something was missing.

Paalo comment follows: -
It was interesting to observe the number of diners that rejected the beer, many "I don't drink beer" were heard, usually female but certainly not exclusively so. I have a feeling it wasn't allergy related but more of a class issue. It couldn't have been a taste issue as any resemblance to slab beer was in the name only. One of the points of the meal was to enjoy a unique experience not easily available, I feel that at least tasting the beer with this dish would have been part of that, to reject even that, after all you didn't have to drink it if you didn't like it, was a good example of the closed mind attitude of certain diners that evening. I couldn't figure out why they where there. To be seen perhaps? It's a pity because I believe the queue to get a seat stretched all the way to Catalan.

vegetable coal
Crushed Potatoes, broken eggs and vegetable coal, garlic "caesine" dressing.
2005 Mount Mary Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Victoria

This is another dish that I'd really been looking forward to from the first time I read about it or saw it's picture. I must say that I was a bit thrown by some of the comments made before this dish even appeared on the table - some making pronouncements that they were not going to try it as they don't eat coal and that coal is a carcinogenic! Didn't they actually know what the dish was about or what the "coal" actually is?

Where others dipped in cautiously, we dove straight in and it was love. The egg yolk so wonderfully rich and luxurious as it wrapped around the crushed potatoes - the "coal" revealing it's true nature as you sliced through the larger portions.

Mulloway Fillet with Baby Leek, hazelnut praline and soured cream
2006 Scorpo Pinot Gris, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

Crisp skin and wonderfully soft flesh a most elegant dish - I especially enjoyed the way the soured cream worked with the fish.

40 hour beef
Beef stewed at 70 degrees for 40 hours, roasted vegetable tears, mixed crushed peppercorns.
2004 Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, Margaret River, Western Australia

The vegetable tears is actually the broth served with this dish. It's made from roasted red peppers that are then sealed under plastic wrap to "sweat" and the juices that collect make the broth, thus they are the vegetable "tears".
As Paalo said at the time when a fork and spoon was set - they must have absolute confidence that the meat is tender and indeed it was. Tender without any stringiness it was indeed sublime.

violet ice cream
Seeking a contrast of temperatures, textures and cultures, Violet ice cream, hot almond "polvoron", shavings of spice bread and green tea
NV Yarrabank Crème de Cuvee, Yarra Valley, Victoria

This dish was served on an ice cold plate and as the blurb states it seeks a "contrast of temperatures, textures and cultures". The violet ice-cream was just divine and had that silky smooth texture whereas the polvoron was hot with an almost sandy texture, mixing them together was a feast for the senses. Beautiful to look at and beautiful to eat.

An interpretation of vanity: Moist Chocolate Cake, cold almond cream, bubbles, smoke and cocoa
Chambers Rosewood Vineyards Grand Muscat, Rutherglen, Victoria

Our final dish of the evening - a half cylinder of chocolate cake, it's surface almost lacquered in appearance, the cake itself quasi mousse like. The almond cream sits just under the bubbles with a daub of gold on the rim of the plate.

After service was completed - the whole kitchen crew came out into the dining room to a well deserved round of applause with Andoni speaking briefly again. A few presentations followed before the evening finally and reluctantly drew to a close.

This will be a evening that will certainly be remembered and certainly met and exceeded any expectations we might have had. The passion, the intensity and the devotion is something that I will take with me.


To cap off the evening and it's not something we would normally do, but Paalo managed to get our menu signed by both Andoni and Jose. We both hope that we'll be able to experience this again at Mugaritz itself in the not too distant future.

The details:

Fenix can be found at
680 Victoria Street Richmond
(03) 9427 8500

Tuesday - Sunday for Lunch
Tuesday - Saturday for Dinner


Friday, March 23, 2007

Lunch @ Vue de Monde

It's been too long of a time between meals at Vue de Monde but with reports of waiting lists of over 400, we are more than happy to have been able to get in for Lunch.

As usual, we begin with champagne and this time it's one we've not had before - Larmandier-Bernier Terre de Vertus from the Côtes de Blancs region.

The meal itself started with the amuse bouche - a deconstructed Oyster Kilpatrick

A skewered panko crumbed oyster with bacon foam sitting atop Worchestire jelly.

Assiette de Jambon Espagnol
Slices of Grand Riserva Jamon with peeled grapes & walnuts and baby basil shoots
2004 Chidaine Montlouis Chenin Blanc (Loire Valley)

I wonder if the guy that has to peel the grapes has to also peel the walnuts. The Jamon is quite different to the real Spanish Jamon's that are are popping up in delis - this still has moisture in it's flesh and was sliced quite thicker than expected. The fat just melted beautifully in the mouth.

It's buzzing in the kitchen


Mille Feuille a la Truffle - Mille feuille with cep purée and tarragon sauce, finished with Perigold shavings and sprinkles of truffle dust
2004 Vinoptima Gewurztraminer (New Zealand)

We had said that we were in the mood for some truffle and this dish fulfilled those desires and then some. The plate arrived sans truffle but that soon changed as our waiter brought over the Perigold truffle and shaved it at the table directly onto the dish. More than deserving of two photos!


Marron Tail in Crustacean sauce with confit tomatoes, foie gras butter topped with sterling caviar and pastry crescent with a dollop of lemon curd to finish.
2005 Pilot et Fils Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru les Caille (France)

The sauce was intensely flavoured and wonderfully rich. This was just a dish of luxury and no words would be adequate to describe this dish.

Dhufish served in with clam & mushroom broth topped with crustacean mousse filled clams and basil foam
2005 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir (New Zealand)

Topping the Dhufish were two stuffed clams, slightly hidden in this photo by the basil foam.

Jus de Nectarine:
Fermented Nectarine Juice with dry ice and soda water pipette.

wild boar
Sanglier Poche:
Wild boar with bay leaf mousse, on a Armangnac blueberry sauce with bay leaf dust and sautéed Brussels sprout leaves.

Just the other day I was wondering if we could get wild boar in Australia and there it is sitting in front of me. It comes from Gippsland. The blueberry sauce could not be beaten and was just the perfect flavour to match both the boar and the bay leaf.

36 hour Lamb Belly with Vindaloo Sauce, Pea Air, Pea dust and Mint Jelly

When this was first placed before us we both thought to ourselves, oh pork belly. Needless to say we were a little befuddled when told it was lamb, but one taste left us with no doubt, it was lamb. The skin has an almost crackling like consistency, colour wise it also resembled pork. We later found out it was lamb belly. It was served with an incredible vindaloo sauce along with vivid green mint jelly cubes, pea foam and pea dust. Another dish were the sauce just blew us away.

Fondue de Boeuf Wagyu - Grade 12 wagyu served into a beef consommé topped with a beer air, partnered with fried shallots, pomme mille feuille, spinach mousse and a beignet of bone marrow
2004 Le Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf-du-Pape (Burgundy,France)

Another special dish - Blackmore Wagyu that scores 12 on the marbling ratings. It's a product that doesn't ever see the local market as it's all shipped overseas but somehow Shannon has managed to secure a very special supply. The slices of beef are served separately and I just wish I had taken a photo to show just how marbled the beef was. The slices are placed into the heated broth and it's left to you to decide how long to "cook" it for.

The slice that Paalo is showing hadn't been in the broth very long and the marbling is no longer visible this is because it melts at just 7°C. We both found that the pieces we'd left a little longer were even more tender than those we plucked out of the broth first.

The broth even made the puy lentils that sat in it taste good! (Not that there is anything usually wrong with puy lentils).


To accompany the Wagyu, from top to bottom - deep fried marrow, which Paalo described as the best thing he's tasted, ever, potato stack, spinach mousse and fried shallots.

2004 Robert Weil KG Spatlese (Germany)

I'd call this a generous rectangle of Comté topped with sliced figs and crushed hazelnuts.


Kiwi fruit lollypop - frozen kiwi fruit slices coated in mint jelly

Gateau à la Pistache - Crumbled Pistachio cake placed under orange blossom and pistachio ice cream with biscotti

Our pre-dessert is the infamous dish that a certain Linen fancier described as being like kitty litter. We really don't know how you could actually describe anything as being like kitty litter unless you have had chance to eat the stuff at some point of your life. Now, we may well eat (almost) anything but we have drawn the line at kitty litter, but if it somehow managed to taste as sublime as this we may well have to draw a new line.

For those that want to know what the dish really was underneath the orange blossom ice cream which had a taste and texture that could be described as heavenly sat a warm concoction of cakey pistachios.

choc souffle

Unmoulded Valrhona Chocolate Souffle with molten dark chocolate core on creme anglaise
2001 Chateau La Tour-Blanche Sauternes (Sauternes,France)

passionfruit souffle

Passionfruit Souffle with Strawberry Sorbet and Strawberry Dust
Chambers Old Vintage Tokay


Petit Fours - from left to right - blueberry skewer with candied corn and corn foam; cappuccino cups; choc coated ice-cream truffles; meringue with mango injection; beetroot macaroons

petitfours petitfours

wine table