My time in Melbourne over Christmas was peppered with several fabulous dining experiences. Two of the best were the taster menu Chris and Dougie put together for my birthday. It was so lovely to have an all-vegetarian degustation in the comfort of Helen and Chris's home. The meal began with three canapes followed by homemade bread, before the seven-course main event. Every single course was amazing. I honestly can't pick favourites from it! Each course was a perfect balance of texture and flavour. And they were presented so stunningly too. An evening I'll never forget. It was wonderful - thank you Chris and Dougie.
Parmesan and truffle custard cigars with compressed pears and edible flowers
A lovely start to the meal. Quite a strong flavour which surprised me. The pears were scrummy and the cigars very crisp.
Mushroom pate with enoki mushrooms, toasted pine nuts and micro herbs
The toasted pine nuts went so well with the different sorts of mushrooms. You could pick each indivdual flavour out but they complemented each other perfectly.
Compressed watermelon with goats cheese, baby basil and olive crumb
I'd never heard of compressed watermelon before; it's exactly what you'd imagine. An intense version of the familiar. The sour goats cheese really worked with the sweet watermelon.
Served warm. I may have had two of these. Yum.
Course 1 - Asparagus with salsa verde, slow cooked egg yolk, cauliflower purée, porcini powder and parmesan
I love egg yolk with asparagus - one of my all time favourite combinations. I didn't realised the puree under the egg yolk was cauliflower and I spent a while trying to work out what that creamy, familiar taste was until Chris told me.
One of my favourites by only by a whisker. The redcurrants, gingerbread and sage leaves absolutely made pumpkin pop. Loved it. What a combination. My mouth's watering remembering it.
I really enjoyed this one. It was everything you'd want from a hearty warming dinner - all in a few mouthfuls. The souffle was fab. The fresh peas were delicious too.
Course 4 - Quince paste, Pyengana cheese, olive soil, candied lemon zest, honey syrup drizzle, warm figs
Warm figs and cheese. Oh yes. This is another one that's got my mouth watering. The Tasmanian cheese went so well with it. And olive soil - savoury and sweet in perfect combination.
The perfect dessert. Pistachio ice cream was divine and the pomegranate a nice zingy complement. And I love rosewater.
Not home made, and I was pretty full up, but I managed one of these.
Lancashire Bomb cheese in Melbourne! Thanks to Chris's cheese supplier for this. You wouldn't have thought we'd have space for cheese after all that food, but an energetic game of Articulate helped dinner go down enough that we managed to polish off much of this platter (and the port!)
Another Memorable Melbourne Moment coming soon...