We interrupt this blog to bring you a brief report on some stuff I ate in Melbourne. Okay?
My brother recently got married to a Melbournite (the lovely Bethany), so I got to spend eight days in this beautiful city. I’m not going to blather on about it because, unless you are planning to actually go to Melbourne some day, I don’t see why it should be of any interest to you. But the pics are pretty (I think — I’m not sure I have any objectivity on this matter). And I’m afraid I have to brag a little about getting to eat at two amazing restaurants. I’ve decided to present you with a pictoral essay to keep my bragging (and your yawning) to a minimum.
First stop: the Victoria Market. This is a foodie’s wet dream. This is a cook’s Mecca. This is heaven. In one large roofed area the size of an aircraft hanger, you’ll find isle after isle after isle of tables laden with every fruit, vegetable, leaf or seed your greedy mind can conceive of. All fresh, all beautiful. Next door, there’s a sort of warehouse filled with countless types of fresh seafood, meat and poultry. And I mean fresh. Next door lies yet another warehouse where merchants sell artisanal goods, from cheese to coffee, to wine to sweets, to the most incredible bratwurst-and-sauerkraut-on-a-roll I have ever tasted.
I think my heart might actually still be there, sitting on one of those tables, sulking next to a pile of organic cherries.
My brother, Ian, and Bethany took me to dinner at Attica, voted 73rd best restaurant in the world. The place itself was understated, but the food was unbelievable. We had the tasting menu of five courses. The one that stood out the most for me was the potato cooked in its own soil. It was presented very simply, and the sauce was quite subtle so you could really taste the potato, and although it did pretty much taste like a potato, the flavour was more intense than any I’ve had before, and the texture was waxy and buttery. Plus the goats curd sauce had a sprinkling of coconut husk ash in it. Apparently it’s one of the only types of ash that are not carcinogenic (so the waiter told us). I couldn't really detect any taste though.
Finally, I ate lunch at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen with my parents the day before we left. I had pretty high expectations, and was not disappointed. The food was so simple, imaginative, fresh and flavourful, it is exactly what I had hoped (I’m a big fan).
To start: Grilled octopus, warm cannellini beans, chilli, mint and lemon. I went for this because I thought the inclusion of mint sounded intriguing — and it works. I’m going to try this at home folks, so I’ll let you know how it works out. Then primi: Gnocchi ripieni with stinging nettles, goats curd and marjoram butter. The flavours in this dish were subtle, but the more I ate the more delicious it became. (The pics are a bit kak as the lighting was inadequate.)
On the way out, my dad asked if the man himself ever dropped by, and we were told he only visited once a year. And sometimes he skipped a year. Hm. (Obviously he's too busy trying to save America.)
So there you have it.
Normal blogging will resume from the next post. (Don’t miss it — I have an unbelievable chocolate cake/mousse recipe I simply must share, from a patisserie in Joburg who’s owners worked with Yotam Ottolenghi.)
PS: Check out my avocado and endive salad with creamy white wine and rosemary dressing recipe on the Kleine Zalze For the Love of Wine blog.