Guests are treated to a 3 or 4-course lunch or dinner in a formal dining setting with the meals prepared by final year cookery students alongside well-known chefs from the Victorian culinary scene. The waiters and waitresses are also students.
For each session held, a different winery sponsors the event. The sponsor for the night was Ladbroke Grove Winery.The winery owner was in attendance and had handpicked three different wines (white, red and rose) to match the foods of each course.
Guest chef for the night was Il Bacaro head chef David Dellai. At the conclusion of the event the guests were treated to a short speech by Dellai about why each of the dishes were picked for that night and were given the chance to ask him questions in relation to the meal and his career.
The night kicked off to a fishy start. The crunch of the singular fried soft shell crab claw was contrasted by the soft Sashimi grade Tuna rotolo rolled up and accompanied by celeriac remoulade, crab mayonnaise, pickled cucumber and tomato gel. And that was just the appetiser!
No Italian meal is complete without a serving of artichoke. The entree for the night was two globe artichoke halves stuffed with a porcini mushroom puree and king brown mushrooms. Sprinkled amongst the central component of the dish was a dash of pearl barley, a smothering of artichoke puree, chanterelle mushrooms (mushroom overload?), soft cooked wild onions and topped with micro herbs and a pinch of truffle salt.
Both courses were matched with Clover Leaf 2010 Sauvignon Blanc-Coonawarra.
The main was all about the pigs. The primary element of the dish was the tender meat of suckling pig encased in a crunchy outer layer of skin. The bite-sized duo of crumbed pigs head had a squishy texture and the miniscule pieces of blood pudding was actually quite appetising. Compressed apple, parsnip puree, cavalo nero Tuscan cabbage, watercress, and sour yet sweet balsamic apple pieces completed the dish.
The main was matched with Clover Leaf 2010 Cab-Sav Coonawarra.
Dessert, which surprisingly wasn’t as sweet as expected when reading off the menu, was the highlight of the night. A perfectly straight line of caramel powder was placed diagonally across the plate. Placed to one side of the plate was a surprisingly not-too-sweet and nutty peanut butter topped with marshmallow semifreddo and on the other side, a dollop of fresh banana ice-cream. Scattered around the dish were small cubes of melt-in-your-mouth salted caramel and aerated caramel chocolate. An hour later and my friend and I could feel the taste of the peanut butter lingering in our mouths as we felt a couple of burps creep up.
The dessert was matched with Penna Lane 2011 Grenache Rose Claire Valley.
Overall, I commend the students on a successful night. The waiters and waittresses showed no signs of feeling too much pressure and were quick to top up the water and wine glasses. To top off the night, we sung happy birthday to the Institute’s Board President, Dr. Michele Allan, who was in attendance.