The dinner, held at Restaurant Sojourn, saw three noted chefs from the area – Vanessa Martin from Il Piave, John Evans from The Restaurant at 3 Weeds, and Paul Camilleri from Restaurant Sojourn – combine their talents to produce a menu that showcased local talent, local produce and a local community working together. It was inspiring to see a small community combining forces to produce an interesting menu and sides that had quite a few highlights.
The entree was by Paul Camilleri, and it was a Carpaccio of Braised Octopus with Jamon Iberico, Tomato Jelly and Prawn and Olive Beignets. I liked the dish and the presentation, but the various elements didn't all hang together - particularly the beignet which reminded me of a Portuguese prawn rissole. I liked it, but I just couldn't fathom what it was doing there with the delicate octopus.
The main course was the course I liked least - it was by Vanessa Martin, and was a huge serve of Twice Cooked Duck on Truffled Polenta and Broccolini. Oh for an little flavour - perhaps duck, or even whatever she cooked it in... and the truffled polenta was truffled with truffle oil, not truffles themselves (which would have been better).
You'll have to excuse my appalling photography for the cheese course. For some reason I took an out of focus photo, and didn't notice. But it's worth including so I can talk about the amazing cheese in the bottom left hand corner of my photo. It was presented by Aunty Pasto and was called Fromart (or Grand Gruyere Reserve) and it was the first ‘official’ Australian appearance of an aged gruyere from Switzerland made from rich, unpasteurised cow’s milk, and matured for over a year. This firm, smooth cheese had a surprisingly robust flavour that far surpassed any gruyere I have tried to date.
It was dessert by John Evans that really sang, and I loved his simple, elegant presentation. His heavenly creation of layered raspberry jelly with vanilla pannacotta and a rosewater and vodka granita was sublime, and it left me with a hankering to sample his cuisine at The Restaurant at 3 Weeds in the near future. The pannacotta had a delightful sour edge - from buttermilk I think.
So if their aim was to get people excited about food in the local area, it certainly worked for me!
*trots off to Aunty Pasto for more of that amazing cheese*