Dinner at the Press Club, Melbourne, August 2010

This is just a note of what we had, not a full review. I’m not claiming I’ve got everything, as I am re-creating this from memory – we had the Experience rather than take notes as we went along. We sat at the Chef’s Table, which is a set of bar stools alongside the dessert prep area, with a view through to the front kitchen and the pass. We went for the tasting menu with the wine selection to go with it. DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU INTEND TO EAT THIS – THE SURPRISE PRESENTATION OF EACH COURSE IS PART OF THE FUN.

As follows:

Ellada “Snacks” – that’s a bowl of olives in oil, with black coarse salt and bread for dipping, followed by a skewer lollipop of seafood (mussel, anchovies, maybe a bit of squid?) with a pistachio praline crumb, and a little glass pot with a savoury custard layer, topped with set consomme, crisp fried sweetbreads, and a herb foam.
Cyclades “Kapnos” – matched with Weingut Max Ferd Richter ‘Estate’ Riesling 2008, Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany – a salad plate with fennel puree, ouzo pickled fresh onion and orange glaze finished with smoked octopus, served from a glass dome over a tiny grill with charred fennel underneath, still smoking.
Ionian “Garides” – matched with R. Lopez de Heredia ‘Viňa Gravonia’ Crianza Viura 1999, La Rioja, Spain – a white Rioja with sherry-like qualities, with a dish of Iberian ham topped with a hot prawn, and a cube of ham consomme, with just a dab of pureed raisin with rum.
Thessalia “Lagos” – matched with Delamotte Blanc de Blancs 1999, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, France – hot boned rolled and pressed chicken slices, topped with a carrot and pumpkin seed salad and a sauce of avgolemono soup.
Peloponesso “Psari” – matched with Eastern Peake Pinot Noir 2000, Ballarat, Vic – a crisp-skinned portion of barramundi, with a black rice underneath, a white onion puree, and a dressing of rice foam and chicken jus.
(We got a little “extra” course here, for putting up with being sat on top of the chefs, a Greek rice-shaped pasta in a rich rich chicken jus topped with shavings of fresh Tasmanian truffles and a French Pinot Noir, which was one of the seasonal specials.)
Makedonia “Arni” – matched with Nittnaus ‘Kalk und Schiefer’ Blaufrankish 2007, Burgenland, Austria – the lamb. A sous-vide chunk of melting meat, with a little roast loin on the side. mashed potato, shredded beetroot, a smear of skordalia and a black fermented garlic clove.
Crete “Refreshing” – digestive – a lime vanilla jelly disc, topped with a yoghourt sorbet, a spoonful of crushed frozen citrus segments, and a dash of sherbet powder.
Cyprus “Aphrodite” – matched with Samos ‘Vin Doux’ 2007 Moschato ASPRO, Samos, Hellenic Republic – the signature dessert, which we had watched being made all night – a composed platter of a white chocolate mousse with a raspberry filling, raspberry terrine, rosewater jelly, various bits of fruits, chocolate “soil” – like a crushed dark chocolate biscuit – topped with a sugared rose petal and finished with a spritz of rosewater in the air.
And coffee, much needed … we sat down at 7 and left at nearly 10:30. With the food and the wine, it cost nearly $500 for two people (around £300) which puts it up there with the Barrier Reef trip as a once-in-a-lifetime thing to do.
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