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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Black Star Pastry Strawberry and Watermelon Cake - A Showstopper

On my most recent trip to Sydney, I finally got to taste the Black Star Pastry strawberry and watermelon cake. I was lucky to even get a taste as they didn't have any left by the time I got there. But then the chefs were cutting up cakes for orders and there were a few small slices left so I pounced and got one. The cake is an extremely beautiful cake and it is very tasty. The hype around it was warranted as I really enjoyed the cake in it's simplicity, especially with that refreshing slice of watermelon in the middle. As the cake is quite fragile, I know that it would be hard to carry from Sydney even (although one awesome Instagrammers did offer to carry me some from Sydney) and I wouldn't get to eat it often. But, thanks to another Instagrammer, I found out that the recipe for this cake is online. I Googled it and found the Gourmet Traveller recipe. At it's core, this cake isn't that hard to make in terms of the individual elements. It's more about doing lots of little things and getting each element spot on. Below was my attempt at this cake.

I am extremely happy with my attempt at the cake. Besides not being able to cut the edges of the cake neatly, not finding any dried rose petals and cutting the watermelon a bit too thick, it does look really nice and tastes excellent. I think the flavour profile is very close to the original. I didn't really have any issues with the cake, with the dacquoise being my biggest worry. However, I made sure I measured everything accurately and even market out how big I wanted the dacquoise. The chewiness of the dacquoise combined with the crunch of the watermelon and the soft cream makes for such a great contrast. The rosewater on this cake is very strong and it is a sweet cake. If you don't like either of these two things, I would suggest you not make it. Otherwise, this is an excellent cake to make just to eat, but also for celebrations. Look how stunning it is. Rectangular layer cakes always seem to have a level of sophistication as only bakeries and high end restaurants do them that way and this cake has that same feel. A definite showstopper at any gathering I'd say.

Finally, some tips for a good bake and some suggestions

* Rather than ground my own almonds for the dacquoise, I just used store bought almond meal. That worked just as well.
* Use a strong natural rosewater that you can buy from a Middle Eastern grocery shop rather than the awful synthetic tasting ones from the supermarkets.
* Use ripe watermelons as it will really enhance the flavour of the cake rather than being a tasteless lump in the middle.
* The strawberries are macerated but again, if you can find ripe strawberries, it will enhance the flavour of the cake.
* I found the 300ml of cream was a bit too little to get the same look as in the article. I ended up with very thin layers of cream and I made the dacquoise to the exact size as in the recipe. I would use a bit more cream in future.
* Make sure you spread the spare almond meal evenly as it helps to absorb the moisture from the watermelon and stop the watermelon from making the whole cake soggy.
* The grapes work quite nicely but I think next time I might try lychees to get the classic Pierre Herme flavour combination of rosewater and lychee. I think that would make it even nicer.
* Slivered pistachios are a pain in the backside to chop up but they do add a nice visual effect and the taste is felt within the cake so make them.

Black Star Pastry Strawberry and Watermelon Cake

INGREDIENTS

250g seedless watermelon, thinly sliced
60ml rosewater
4 tbsp caster sugar
40 g almond meal
500 g strawberries (about 2 punnets), halved
10 seedless red grapes, halved
1 tbsp slivered pistachios (see note)
1 tbsp dried rose petals (see note)

Almond dacquoise
150g almonds, coarsely chopped
150g pure icing sugar, sieved
5 eggwhites
135g caster sugar

Rose-scented cream
300ml thickened cream
30g caster sugar
2 tbsp rosewater

METHOD

For almond dacquoise, preheat oven to 200C. Process almonds in a food processor until finely ground, then combine in a bowl with icing sugar. Whisk eggwhites in an electric mixer until soft peaks form (3-4 minutes), then gradually add caster sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form (1-2 minutes). Gently fold through almond mixture, spread on a 30cm x 40cm oven tray lined with baking paper and bake until golden (10-15 minutes). Set aside to cool on tray, then cut in half lengthways.

Arrange watermelon slices in a single layer on a wire rack. Sprinkle with 20ml rosewater, then scatter with 2 tbsp sugar. Stand to macerate (30 minutes), then pat dry with absorbent paper.

Meanwhile, for rose-scented cream, whisk cream and sugar in an electric mixer until soft peaks form, gradually add rosewater and whisk until stiff peaks form (do not over-whisk).

Spread one-third of rose cream evenly over one half of dacquoise, scatter with half the almond meal, then top with watermelon, trimming to fill any gaps. Scatter over remaining almond meal, spread over half remaining cream. Top with remaining dacquoise, spread over remaining cream and refrigerate until firm (1-2 hours).

Combine strawberries, remaining rosewater (40ml) and remaining sugar (2 tbsp) in a bowl, toss to combine and set aside to macerate (15 minutes). Carefully arrange on top of cake, gently pushing into cream. Trim edges of cake, scatter over grapes, pistachios and petals, and serve.

North East Victoria - World's Longest Lunch, Taste of Rutherglen, El Dorado Moving Feast

I live in this big brown land called Australia, and I'm only starting to see how diverse and wonderful so many places are. Through this food blog that I started on the insistence of my friend Kevin, I've managed to be invited to all sorts of wonderful places that I would never have dreamed of going myself initially. But since going on those invited trips, I have been back to all those places and I really enjoy getting away from the city for a short break nowadays. I used to question why people would go out to rural towns when the city has everything, but now I'm slow starting to understand the allure. Rural getaways provide a level of peace, serenity and just a slower pace that city living doesn't always afford you. It's not often that I look up at the stars or just sit and watch a sunset, but when I'm away on rural getaways, I find myself doing all these things and marveling at just how pretty this country is. If you think what I've just written sounds too cliche and rather romanticised, I think you've yet to experience a relaxing getaway. I highly recommend you change that and book yourself a trip, maybe to North East Victoria for instance.

Once again, through this blog, I have been lucky enough to be invited by Tourism North East to experience some of North East Victoria during the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, where a number of events were occurring. I got to go together with my fellow Cake Squad member Michele. We were ready to enjoy ourselves while at the same time taking it easy.

Our journey started with a commute from Melbourne to Wahgunyah (on the outskirts of Rutherglen) at St Leonards Winery for the High Country's World's Longest Lunch. From Melbourne to Rutherglen is about a 3.5 hour drive, or 4 hours if you're me as you need to make multiple pit stops. It's probably bordering on being a bit too hard to do in one day so I'd recommend staying for the night.

Lunch for the High Country's World's Longest Lunch was to be prepared by four restaurants from the area. The menu read beautifully and we were really excited to try everything.

Slow braised pork terrine & spiced blood plum jelly
by Nikki Kennedy, Dal Zotto Trattoria – King Valley
Dalzotto Winery Rosatto 2013 & Baileys of Glenrowan Winery Frontignac 2013

Slow cooked porterhouse, salad of local vegetables & nuts with a Beechworth honey mustard dressing
by Kin San, Alfresco Dining Restaurant – Alpine Valley
Chrismont Winery Petit Manseng 2011 & Feathertop Winery Vermentino 2103

All Saints Winery Estate lamb, slow cooked lamb shoulder, roast saddle, shallot puree, Gooramadda olive oil
by Simon Arkless, ‘one chefs hat’ Terrace Restaurant - Wahgunyah
St Leonards Winery Shiraz 2010 & Brokenwood Winery Nebbiolo 2012

Roasted plums, ganache (Bright Chocolate 72% Equador), miso cream, dehydrated chocolate mousse (Bright Chocolate 72% Madagascan)
by Michael Ryan, ‘two chefs hat’ The Provenance Restaurant - Beechworth
Pfeiffer Winery Late Harvest Muscadelle 2006 & All Saints Estate Rutherglen Muscat NV

In terms of the food, I enjoyed the terrine and it was a solid start. Things really kicked up a gear with my dish of the day with the slow cooked porterhouse with the honey mustard dressing. Kin San really outdid himself with the sous vide pork and the combination of flavours he achieved in that dish. He was also a delight when he was speaking about his dish, such humility and accidental laughter. The lamb dish again made me sit up and notice how wonderful lamb can taste, with the shoulder cut being my preferred part over the saddle. Lastly, we got to meet Twitter food royalty in Michael Ryan and taste his really delicious dessert. I'm not a huge fan of chocolate desserts generally as they tend to be quite boring, but this chocolate dessert was stunning. So many textures of chocolate and the miso cream was a real winner.

The settings in which we had the meal was superb, so relaxing and beautiful. The wait staff at St Leonards were top notch, and they even moved the tables into the shade for us half way through the meal as it was quite a hot day. Now that's service. The fun meal ended on a massive high when there was a rolling contest down the hill which resulted in free wine being distributed. Overall, a most awesome meal that I'd go back to for sure.

After a very fun, delicious and filling lunch, Michele and I went to our accommodation in El Dorado, Yellow Cottage. Yellow Cottage is owned by Don and Vera, who seems to be on every committee in town and are also active garlic purveyors. That explains the whole shed of the most beautiful and fragrant purple garlic in the backyard of the cottage. Initially I was wondering what was going on and half expected some vampires to pop up. I've tasted the garlic as they gave us some and it is the best garlic I've personally eaten. So fragrant without that sharp bite to it. If you stay at the cottage, make sure to buy some garlic from Don. You won't be sorry.

The cottage itself, was a small self contained accommodation, nicely furnished with two rooms that can sleep 4 people, so perfect for a group of friends or a family. There are comfy beds and a fully equipped kitchen, where we cooked our one and only meal of Indomee as we ate so much on the rest of the trip. The lounge room had some relaxing couches and a large dining table and a TV if you want to watch something. The surrounding areas are really vast and so beautifully photogenic. There were so many things to look, touch, feel, eat. There were peaches, pomegranates, figs, garlic, rosemary and a vista of the sunset that will keep you entranced for a while. I hope I've managed to capture some of that beauty on film.

On Day 2, we started the day by participating in the Taste of Rutherglen festival. It's basically like Taste of Melbourne, but spread out amongst different wineries. You buy a glass and some vouchers and then off you go, heading to whichever places you want to redeem a glass of wine and a dish they were serving.

Michele and I studied the provided map carefully and worked out an itinerary that helped us eat all the things we wanted but also fairly close so we weren't driving huge distances as we would rather relax. In the end, we chose the six places below and their dishes.

Lake Moodemere Winery
Estate grown lamb, slow cooked and served with pepperonata, faro salad, capsicums sott’olio, rocket, and a caper and olive dressing.
Wine match: 2012 Hazard Shiraz

Cofield Winery
Succulent slow cooked beef cheek with a roast carrot & avocado salad, citrus, caraway & chilli.
Wine match: Sparkling Shiraz

Pfeiffer Winery
BBQ butterflied leg of lamb, blackcurrant dressing, faro and mint salad and organic leaves.
Wine match: 2012 Pfeiffer Merlot

Valhalla Winery
A pulled and pressed Murray Valley pork belly terrine simmered with aromats, stock, fresh herbs and wine accompanied by pickled blood plums, dressed greens and crusty Milawa bread.
Wine match: 2012 Grenache Shiraz Mourvdre

Campbells Winery
The King River Cafe spiced pork belly with fennel & marmalade set on a braised ratatouille with grilled scallops and rocket.
Wine match: 2012 Viognier

Scion Winery
Hazelnut affogato (Gundowring hazelnut ice-cream drowned with fresh espresso coffee and roasted Mt Buffalo hazelnuts) and Renaissance Chocolates’ luxurious dark chocolate brownie.
Wine match: 2012 After Dark (Durif)

The wineries in the area of Rutherglen are so varied in size, appearance, atmosphere and the wines and food they serve. Each had it's own unique charm but there were some standouts for me. In terms of appearance, I loved the Campbell's winery the most. It definitely had the best vibe for me and the jazz band playing also helped. In terms of the best food, I loved the Lake Moodemere lamb with that yummy pepperonata, the Valhalla Winery terrine which was perfectly balanced in flavour and the Scion Winery affogato and brownie combo was stunning. In terms of wines, I liked the Valhalla Grenache Shiraz Mourvdre, really liked the Campbells Viognier and liked the Scion Durif. Not every dish of food and wine match was perfect, but overall it was really good and a great way to spend a really fun day. There was live music at many of the sites and the guy singing at Valhalla wines had Michele I singing along and really enjoying ourselves for quite a while.

We went from the Taste of Rutherglen directly (almost directly, we did go have a shower first to be presentable) to the El Dorado Moving Feast. The feast was a moving meal where we had a course in a different location. The rain spoiled what was already a great meal as we didn't get to eat in an orchard, or atop a hill overlooking the lake and the Dredge but what can you do about rain. I'm amazed at how they managed to change the locations so quickly so that the feast went ahead uninterrupted. This year was the first year the feast was held, under the umbrella of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. The amazing Sandy and her team helped to make it all happen. It was such a great event and I really hope that they can hold it again next year, and hopefully in the orchards and on the hilltop this time.

The food at the feast was catered by Cate Hardman, using local ingredients for everything. For me, the canapes were amazing and really as good most restaurants canapes I've had at many events. The mains were solid, albeit not at the same amazing level of the canapes. And desserts were really good, with the dacquoise a real crowd pleaser served on a massive platter where you helped yourself. I *may* have gone back for seconds on that dessert.

As I mentioned, I really loved the canapes and also that part of the meal best. It was before the rain came and we experienced the feast as it was intended. We were all outside the local pottery studio and eating and drinking and enjoying the weather. The two Bens from Beechworth Cider and Bridge Road Breweries made sure we were all hydrated with beers the whole time. I also loved the inclusion of the Archer's Aim. Basically we all got to shoot some arrows at some target, with the person scoring the most points winning some wine. OK, so letting people drink and shoot is *maybe* not the best idea, but it was still early in the night so no one was heavily intoxicated and the team at Archers Aim made sure everything was safe. I'm happy to report that I actually hit the target twice with two of my three arrows, and with my third arrow I was getting rather cocky and hit my own arm with it, leaving a nice bruise. The archery Gods have spoken.

Canapes
Goats Curd Tartlet, Burst Cherry Tomato, Thyme Oil
Organic Egg, Hot Smoked Trout, Radish and Fennel
Dolmades, Almonds, Currants, Saffron Labne
Organic Beef Tartare, Lemon, Creamed Garlic, Spelt Bread
Beechworth Cider
Bridge Road Brewery Golden Ale

Mains were served in the local hall as it had rained by this point. It was still lots of fun as our MC/tour guide/entertainer Paris was not only super funny, but had the most sensational voice. If he was 20 years younger, he could easily win X-Factor. One song he sung was Nessum Dorma and he hit THE note in his full voice, not in falsetto. It was utterly spine tingling stuff. Paris also massaged my head, so I have fond memories of him. The food was on shared plates and we helped ourselves to as much or as little as we wanted. I met some great people around me and we've even made plans to catch up again.

Mains
Grilled Harrietville Trout Fillet, Rhubarb, Cucumber and Lime Salsa
Bayleaf scented slow cooked Rutherglen lamb, spiced cherries
Pumpkin, black olive and rocket rustica tart
Warm roasted local vegetables, spinach leaves
Mt Pilot Estate Wines 2012 Viognier Chardonnay
Mt Pilot Estate Wines 2012 Shiraz

Cheese
El Dorado Road 2013 Nero D'Avola

For the desserts course, we moved to the local museum. So we got to look at all the old heirlooms from the region while tucking into a host of goodies. I made sure I sampled everything and also had a bit of the Muscat.

Desserts
Chestnut honey spice cakes, rosemary syrup
Caramlised orange and chocolate dacquoise
Lemon curd and fennel seed tarts
Amulet Vineyard Red Bollicine
Baileys of Glenrowan Muscat

Dumbo Feather Coffee

All in all, the feast was an absolute triumph and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I sincerely hope it can happen again next year as it would be such a shame to not have the full vision of this year put into effect.


On our last morning, Michele and I went and walked the El Dorado hiking track to see the suspension bridge. It was nice out there while we absorbed in the fresh air and took lots of photos. It was a great trip and I was really surprised by the high level of the food and wines and we only scratched the surface of places to visit and eat at. The North East Victoria area has a lot to offer and I can't wait to go back to see more of it. I'd love to thank everyone who has hosted me on this trip and especially Sally Brown from Tourism North East who helped organise it all.

I attended this trip courtesy of Tourism North East and all the other companies and people who hosted me on this trip.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Jinda Thai Restaurant - Excellent Food In A Trendy Setting

I love Thai food. Such vibrant flavours. There's a lot of good Thai food in Melbourne and now I can add Jinda Thai to that list. It's already become one of my favourites as the food is really good and reasonably priced. I've been a couple of times already, the first time with I-Hua and zeboy, Michele and Ewen and the second time with my parents. Both times, nothing was bad and I liked and loved most dishes.

The restaurant itself is beautifully decorated in the industrial look of most new restaurants. The exposed brick walls, funky lights and strong artwork may be becoming cliche but they pull it off really well and the room feels open, airy and comfortable. I love the atmosphere in the room as it feels very vibrant. The noise levels can get rather loud as the room fills up.

You can't go to a Thai restaurant and not have some Thai milk tea. So refreshing and so delicious.

For entrees, I've eaten the Fish Cakes, Papaya Salad, Grilled Pork Neck and Steamed Chicken. Everything was so good. The flavours were all really strong yet balanced. I think of the entrees I've tried, maybe the steamed chicken was my favourite.

For the mains, I've tried the Stir Fry Basil Pork, Fish Floss, Fried Fish, Red Curry Duck and Pad Thai. Again everything is excellent. The stir frys have good wok breathe, the fried fish was crispy and the red duck curry had a great fragrant taste. There wasn't anything I didn't like. There's so many other items on the menu and I can't wait to try more of them. I've heard the boat noodles and other curries are really great too.

The savoury food was already great, but the best part of the night was still yet to come. Dessert time. I had heard so much about the crepe cake and just had to try it. Also the pandan chiffon cake was on special so we tried that too. The pandan cake was awesome and the flavours brought me back to my childhood. Then it was time for the already famous Thai milk tea crepe cake. Wow wow wow. Mind blown. The cake was so good. I could eat 4 slices by myself. Here's a tip. It turns out the exact same cake is sold in the Thai grocery shop next door, for half the price. So if you feel like taking away some crepe cakes, pop next door and pick one, or 4 up. They come in a variety of flavours too. I'd be surprised if you didn't pick up heaps of other items as I can never walk out of that shop with just one thing.

I loved the food at Jinda and the service matches the food. It's friendly and efficient and they make you feel like you're a valued customer. The whole experience is great and I'd highly recommend you go try it. Cost wise, I spent about $30 each time so it's excellent value. The restaurant is very busy at the moment so I'd recommend booking as it's highly unlikely you can get a table walking in on Friday/Saturday.

Jinda Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014 - Prahran Market, Donovan's and Dalmatino

It's amazing how fast time passes by. I remember the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival from 2013 as if it just happened yesterday. Last year I was lucky to be invited to some events and they were really good. You can read about there here. This year, again I was fortunate enough to be invited to a few events. They were all really different and interesting events and I thoroughly enjoyed them.

Prahran Market - Harvest The Sea and the Vine

The first event I attended was the Prahran Market's Harvest the Sea and the Vine event which combined the food from Walter Trupp's Cooking School with wines from Punt Road Wines. Walter cooked up 4 dishes using seafood, and it was matched by Punt Road wines. Here was the combinations

*Lightly poached oysters with beetroot jelly, peppercress and horseradish foam with a NV Sparkling
*Oven baked scallops with saffron and anise butter with fennel shavings with a 2012 Airlie Bank Pinot Grigio
*Shellfish bisque with curry broth with a 2012 Chardonnay
*Prawns A l'Armoricaine with white polenta with a 2012 Chemin Pinot Noir


I'm so impressed with chefs who can make food to really compliment wines or sommeliers who can pick wines to compliment food. It is indeed an excellent skill to have. In this case, Walter decided on dishes to compliment the Punt Road wines and he did a great job. Everything worked so well, even the prawns which had a really strong sauce matched well with the Pinot Noir. For me personally, the match of the NV Sparkling and the oyster was my favourite combination, followed closely by the scallop with the Pinot Grigio. Each dish was definitely lifted by the wine. Prahran Market as usual put on a great event and it was fun, delicious and for $30, excellent value. If they have another event next year, I highly recommend you participate.

Donovan's - By The Sea Where We Live

There are a number of culinary institutions and one of those that I haven't been to is Donovan's. Hence I was super excited to finally go to Donovan's for their By The Sea event. The moment I stepped into the restaurant I was feeling good. The restaurant interior is beautiful, in that it feels like an amazing house, someone's house. There is a couch and coffee table, a kitchen type area and just decorations all over the restaurant that makes it feel like you're in someone's home. And that's exactly how owners Gail and Kevin want you to feel. Everything has been procured by them and it's all really beautiful. I was browsing through the coffee table books and I seriously wanted to steal them all (stealing is wrong, don't do it). I definitely need the New York Sweets book, the Safari flip book, the Text From Dog book, the Underwater Dog book and the Knit New York book.

The meal started off in the courtyard where drinks were served with canapes while lifeguards on stilts worked the crowd while a band entertained everyone. It definitely got everyone relaxed if they weren't already. The canapes were just the start to an absolutely huge array of foods that would be served buffet style.

The feast was all seafood related to reflect where we live, surrounded by water. There were small appetiser sized dishes served at the table along with food served at a buffet. Below were the food served. I tried my best to eat everything but just couldn't.

Blue swimmer crab on ice, Oysters on ice, New England clam chowder with croutons, Lobster brioche rolls with aioli, Fried Crystal Bay prawns with lime and chili salt, Salt and pepper calamari, Mussels with white wine and basil, Scallops with citrus butter and toasted crumbs, Octopus, chorizo and potato skewers, Salmon in a salt crust, Salmon gravlax, Seafood paella, Chilli crabs, Barbequed prawns with chili and oregano, Beer battered fish and chips, Swordfish medallions, Spiced cauliflower, Baked potatoes, Grilled corn, Heirloom tomato salad, Tossed baby greens

There was so much food and you could go back and eat as much as you wanted. I did 4 trips to the buffet in between being served food by the staff. Everything was done simply but all so good. All the seafood was so fresh. The oysters were some of the best I've ever eaten. I also greatly enjoyed the fried Crystal Bay prawns, the salmon gravlax, the salt baked salmon, the paella, mussels in white wine, the baked scallops and the baked prawns. I don't think there was a bad dish.

In between the savoury and sweet foods, Gail and Kevin held an announcement for door prizes. I've never been to an event where the cost of the door prizes probably exceeded the event returns. There were like 40 door prizes for the 100 guests. And the prizes were all so great, from beautiful books to dining experiences to boxes of wine. Also, the way to wine the prizes were so varied, from drawing tickets to asking who had hit a hole in one to whose dogs were the naughtiest. It was all enjoyed in such great humour and Gail and Kevin were like everyone's new best friends. You couldn't help but be infected by their happiness.

Once we had regained our composure from all the laughing, a massive dessert buffet was put on. There were lemon meringue pies, banoffee pies, apple pies, bread and butter puddings, ice creams, heaps of toppings for the ice creams, fruit, caramel popcorn, chocolate crackles and even fairy floss. It was every kids, and adults who are still kids inside's, dream. I loved the apple pie so much and the ice creams were all made by the chefs and I ate one of the best strawberry and vanilla ice cream ever. Even the raspberries were divine and so sweet.

While dessert was served, we even got a surprise of a full parade of bag pipers playing lots of song. People clapped along and danced in the cool night air staring at the band and the beautiful beach. It was a truly amazing event and I definitely want to go back to eat more food at Donovan's. The hospitality there is wonderful as is the freshness of the food. The event is definitely at the high end for $200 but having experienced it, I would highly recommend it and say you will have the most amazing time that you won't be forgetting any time soon.

Dalmatino - The Sea of 1000 Islands

One cuisine I have always wanted to try and don't know anything about is Croatian food. I was extremely excited about going to Dalmatino for their Sea of 1000 Islands meal. As I learned, there are thousands of islands dotted across the Adriatic Coast and they all have such diverse climates and food. Seafood is very prominent in the cuisine and this meal would showcase some seafood combined with Croatian flavours. The meal consisted of

*Black calamari risotto
*Scampi cooked the Kvarner way with white wine, garlic, tomato with a majoram pasta
*Blue eye fillet cooked the Hvar way with vongole, cherry tomatoes and served with soft polenta
*Sour cherry cake fro Vis served with roasted almond ice cream

We started our meal with the calamari risotto, which didn't look the best with the black colour but boy oh boy, the flavours were stunning. Perfectly cooked risotto was dotted with calamari done two ways, boiled and fried. It was a great dish and I want to eat it again. The next dish of Scampi was also really delicious. The flavours were quite simple but so good. I loved the cherry tomatoes with the dish. The pasta was also really good. I've never had majoram pasta before but it works so well with the scampi. Next up, the blue eye was cooked really well and went well with the vongole. I didn't much care for the polenta as it was rather gloopy and didn't work with the fish I felt. Lastly, the sour cherry cake was wonderful. The sour notes in the cherry worked so well with the crumbly crust. And the roast almond ice cream, O.M.G. The most amazing ice cream and one of the best ice cream I've eaten.

The meal was excellent and I look forward to going back to try more things. I loved the food and even the wines were a revelation to me. I thoroughly enjoyed the Malvazija Kozlovic Istria. It was so refreshing and worked beautifully with the risotto. The restaurant setting and decor is also really beautiful. The warehouse style restaurant with the sun roofs, exposed brick and large open bar gives a great vibe to the whole room. I was so relaxed and happy throughout the whole meal and at $80 for the event, I would highly recommend it to everyone if they have another event next year.

The theme for this year's Melbourne Food and Wine Festival was water, and all three events I went to really showcased water. The water that help provide the wonderful seafood and wines that I had. Each event was a real highlight in their own ways, despite the total differences in price. For me, I'd definitely go back to the two restaurants and any other events the Prahran Market hold. I'm so thankful to all the restaurants and companies who helped cover the cost of my meals. It was a thorough pleasure and I had the best time. I really felt the diversity and quality of the Melbourne food scene and I look forward to next year's Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

I dined courtesy of the restaurants and companies.

Donovans on Urbanspoon
Dalmatino on Urbanspoon