It’s rare that you get an invitation so unmissable that you put four days aside to earn three hours of privilege, so in a departure from the normal posts, please simply find below the menu from an event whose ambition was far from timid…
The occasion was the QANTAS ‘Best Dinner in the World’ (care of last weekend’s Audi Noosa Food and Wine Festival), and tickets were $750/head – that sets quite some expectation!
Menu, wines and presenting chefs as follows:
Rice with Black Squid Ink & Sea Urchin served with Emilio Lustau Light Manzanilla Papirusa, by Carlo Cracco, Ristorante Cracco, Milano, Italy
Tian of Spanner Crab, Braised Spring Onion, Ginger & Garlic served with 2010 Grossett Polish Hill Riesling by Tetsuya Wakuda, Tetsuya’s Restaurant, NSW
White Miso Marinated White Fish, Capers & Lime Salad served with 2005 Laroche Chablis ‘Les Clos’ Grand Cru, by Yoshihiro Narisawa, Les Creations de NARISAWA, Tokyo, Japan
Chilled Risotto, Poached Organic Chicken and Wild Mushroom Puree served with 2006 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay, by Andre Chiang, Restaurant Andre, Singapore
Roast Squab Breast, Chocolate Feuilletin, Abalone & Soubise served with 2006 Rousseau Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, by Mark Best, Marque, NSW
Tajima Wagyu, Savoy Cabbage, Baby Potato Fondant, Beetroot and Fernet Branca Jus, Celeriac Puree served with 1989 Penfolds Grange, by Luke Dale-Roberts, The Test Kitchen, formerly of La Colombe, South Africa
Strawberries, Strawberry Oil, Soured Cream and a Pukeko Egg (chocolate creation) served with 2009 Gundeloch Nackenheim Rothenburg Riesling Auslese, by Ben Shewry, Attica, VIC
S Pellegrino Sparkling Mineral Water and Acqua Panna Still Mineral Water
Everything was as good as it sounds, and hosted at BERARDO’s in an atmosphere of informal excellence.
The opening dish of risotto was an absolute dream, and hard to look beyond – all ozone, iodine and perfect opaque, grainy bite – while Mark Best’s Squab and Chocolate Feuilletine was delicately pitched as so bitter, rich and yet expertly punctuated with gamey, textural sweetness that I honestly wondered if I would ever again eat anything so accomplished.
I doubt that the Manzanilla could have been bettered – either as a partner or an example; Grossett’s Riesling was as precise and elegant as we have come to expect; Rousseau’s Clos de la Roche was so ethereal that it could have been served as a course on its own; and the Grange was all musculature, with high tones of echinacea and wintergreen, and underwritten by dark fruit flavours and sombre length.
The whole evening was about as good as it gets. Enormous thanks to Jim Berardo for the vision; James Halliday for the wine pairings; and the puckishly mischievous Matt Preston for mc-ing with just the right mix of gravitas, insight and humour.
Expectation met and exceeded!