November 26, 2008
November 22, 2008
Being a Melbourne local is a little bit spoiling when it comes to good food. We have ample options to pick from, not only in number, but also in diversity. MoVida has been a corner stone of great Spanish cooking for some time, and once I had read their entry in Gourmet Traveller, I just HAD to eat there.
I had heard that getting a table at MoVida was a little bit difficult, so when I called to make a reservation I was expecting some advance planning. Even with having this piece of information, I was still surprised to learn that the earliest I could get a table was 8 weeks from my first call. Of course, I did not hesitate, if I procrastinated about it I probably would have had to wait a whole month longer, and I was already hungry!!
Having this very long build up could have resulted in two outcomes, I could build such hype and anticipation around it that I would be deeply disappointed at the end or all my expectations would be fulfilled. I am glad to report the latter scenario was true.
Anyway, back to MoVida. We were seated at a table towards the middle next to a wall, with a view of the bar and obscured view of the kitchen. As soon as I sat down I noticed something horribly wrong. My chair was wonky!! This must have been the most unlevel chair in all of Melbourne. I begun to stress and worry, how could I enjoy my meal if I was going to be sea sick. With much complain and whining Daz finally convinced me to say something to the waiter. It was only at the very second I had mentioned the problem to the waiter did I realize that the floor was a brick paved surface, and a slight shuffle to the left completely fixed the problem. Can anyone say drama queen?? We ordered some drinks and the embarrassment was behind us.
Croqueta - Fried silky croquette flavoured with leek and mahon cheese
Pimiento de piquillo con ajoarriero - Piquillo pepper filled with salt cod and potato
Vieira, jamon y espuma - Half shell scallop oven baked with jamon and potato foam
Costilla con sobrasada - Roasted lamb cutlet encased in a Catalan pork & paprika pate
Cigarillo - Baby leek wrapped in Brik pastry served with a chicken liver parfait
San Jacobo de Cordonice - Hunter Valley quail, partial boned, crumbed, and filled with jamon and mahon cheese
Mejillones en gazpachuelo - Mussels steamed and served in a warmwhite gazpacho sauce
Flan con pestinos - Creme caramel served with spiced sherry pastries
Ganache caliente con turron - Hot chocolate ganache pudding with vanilla bean ice-cream and nougat
I'll only talk about two of the dishes, as they were all sublime and there would not be enough words to discribe them all with justice.
The cigarillo was a great tapas dish. When they say baby leek, this was a real BABY leek. It was tiny, it must have only just sprouted out of the ground before they harvested it for this dish, and thank goodness they did! Wrapped in the crispy pastry it was wonderful to dip into the rich parfait. My mouth is watering just remembering the taste. Before having this dish, Daz was not a real fan of anything with liver in it, not to say the least anything pate like. Since that experience I can safely say he will eat anything that is pate-esque. It amazing to see an event or in the case and taste experience that can change someone’s opinion so dramatically. We loved this dish so much we had to order another before our dessert came out!
The waygu was thinly sliced almost like a prosciutto, but 1000 times more tasty. The egg was slightly cooked, so that once you burst it the creamy filling of the egg poured all over the meat. Once you picked up a slice of the meat you could drench it in a healthy covering of egg and a dollop of foam. The warm egg and oily meat worked wonders together. I almost find it impossible to describe. Other than to tell you to make a booking now and save your stomach over the next two months for this delight.
November 20, 2008
At the moment, Interlude stands at position 40 in the top 100. I did not get a chance to eat at this establishment before it closed its doors on 25th October 2008 and I am deeply disappointed. Interlude has been highly recommended by people who have dined there, and has been a high performer for sometime. Robin Wickens has been compared to some of the molecular gastromy greats, I feel like I've been deprived of something special. My aim is to experience ALL 100 restaurants, I didn't think my task would be made easier by candidates disappearing into thin air.
All in all, I look forward to Robin Wickens' new venture and anticipate its entry into the list, even though I missed out on Interlude.
November 18, 2008
November 13, 2008
Recipe from Chef Shannon Benette (appears on Vue de Monde's website)
2009 Rating: Number 4, 3 Stars
1 small baguette (1–2 days old preferably)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 large eggs
20 green beans, trimmed and tailed
4 small tomatoes (fresh, semi-dried or confit)
4 small kipfler potatoes, boiled and sliced into discs
4 teaspoons small capers
1 red onion, cut into 5 mm (1/4 in) rings
50 g (2 oz) olives
200 ml (7 fl oz) olive oil
40 ml (1½ fl oz) sherry vinegar
4 x 100 g (3½ oz) fish fillets (tuna, red mullet or kingfish)
4 tablespoons baby rocket
1 lemon, halved
METHOD• Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350°F). Slice the baguette into 1 cm (1/2 in) thick slices and lay on a flat baking tray. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 5–6 minutes, then remove from oven and rub slices with the garlic clove
• Put the eggs in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Take out after 6 minutes, when the yolks will still be soft. Set aside and keep warm
• Place another pan on the stove, fill with 2 litres (5 pints) of salted water and bring to the boil. Add the beans and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove beans and refresh by placing in iced water for 2 minutes, until cold
• In a stainless steel bowl combine the croutons, tomatoes, beans, potatoes, capers, onion and olives, season well
• In a separate bowl or jar, mix the 200 ml olive oil and sherry vinegar well
• Preheat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Season the fish and brush with more olive oil. Reduce heat low, place the fish skin side down in the pan and cook for 2–3 minutes. Turn fish over and cook for a further minute
• Toss the salad together with the dressing
• To serve, set out 4 flat bowls or plates and place a fillet in the centre of each. Arrange the salad neatly around the fish. Peel the eggs carefully, cut in half, season them and arrange on top of the salad. Scatter baby rocket over and serve with a wedge of lemon on the side
Once again, stay tuned for the results!
November 6, 2008
In 2009, the season runs from 16th June to 20th December. For the first time in my life, I decided to join the throng of people attempting to win the elBulli lottery. After sending my email, I only had to wait 2 weeks to get my response. And of course, I was unsuccessful! Here is the email I sent:
Dear Lluis and Juli,
And here is the generic email I received from elBulli informing me that I needn't pack my bags and get excited.
The demand that we have received at the first moment has again surpassed our limited possibilities for one season and we regret not to be able to full fill more reservation requests.
We thank you sincerely for all your interest and we
Tel. +34 972 15 04 57 (during the season - after 3.00 p.m.)
2009 Season - Open from June 16th to December 20th
Only dinner service 7.30 – 9.30 p.m. except on some Saturdays of September-October-November and December that we
normally Monday and Tuesday closed
SEE EXCEPTIONS OF OUR 2009 CALENDAR AT www.elbulli.com (see reservations)
We do not have information about 2010 season at this moment but we never start the management until we have finished the season before.
You will find information at www.elbulli.com see reservations) in December 2009.
ElBullirestaurantCala Montjoi - 17480 Roses
Tel. +34 972 15 04 57
Fax. +34 972 15 07 17
- The obvious, include your name, email address, and telephone number
- The reservation process is split into four categorizes. Those who have dined there before, those who are first time diners, those who are locals and those who come from overseas destinations. I'm not sure if each category is equally weighted, but I would assume that if you are a previous diner or a local it would be much easier to get a reservation, simply due to the fact that there would be less competition for these tables.
- Write you email in a "dumbed down" version of English. Keep in mind that the person reading your email possesses English as a second language. (not too sure about this tip) Or write your email in Spanish or Catalan.
- Make your email personal. Add in a request for a special occasion diner, such as a honeymoon or birthday. Talk about what a dinner at elBulli would mean to you. When I was at Ferran Adria's talk in October, it was suggested to mention the fact that I had seen him on his tour and that this connection would give me an edge. But I'm not too sure about this, Ferran has talked at length about his dislike of making special conditions for powerful people or friends, let alone someone who saw him during a tour he has done.
- Send multiple emails from different locations. This makes sense, if you buy more lottery tickets, you are more likely to win the jackpot.
- A tip from Ferran himself, be nice. Luis has to read all the emails, and the nice requests are going to succeed over the nasty ones.
- Be incredibly flexible with dates. State a preferred date, but make sure to stress that you are flexible and would take any opportunity to dine there. Requesting a table on the 1st Saturday in August with no exception is not going to help your chances. Being flexible means that they can slot you in where ever there is a free spot.
- Send your request in at the exact moment the reservations open. Apparently it is judged on a first come first served basis. Now this can be particularly difficult as the season changes from year to year. This year the season ended in September and the reservations were taken in the middle of October. The 2009 season ends in December, and as it has been stated many times, they don't start taking the following years reservations until the current years services have ended. So I assume the reservations for 2010 won't be taken until late December some time. But then again i could be completely wrong.
- And the best tip of all, if you don't succeed, try try again.
So I guess I'll try again next year.