August 12, 2010

Campari House

I am so behind with my blogging!! I wont even tell you when we went to Campari House for their Toast to the Campari house Roast as part of the put Victoria on Your table by Melbourne Food and Wine. Lets just say it was in the first half of the year, and now we’re in the second half. That should do. We went along with the ever delightful Agnes from Off the Spork and her hilarious hubby and brother, Alastair and Pat.

To say we had a good night would be an understatement. Imagine this....and entire restaurant to yourself with seemingly bottomless glasses of wine. Thankfully the restaurant was a little light on people, because we have a habit of being a little too loud and sometimes obnoxious. Ok, I’ll confess it’s usually me who is obnoxious. We were greeted at our tables with all the glasses laid out and told that all the wine on offer for the night would be served at the first course. That way you could match your own wine to the dish. Considering I’m pretty ignorant about wine, my choices were well off the mark, I thought that the bubbles went really well with EVERYTHING. I’m not exactly sure anyone else got a winner on the night, but it was very fun trying to be a sommelier for the night.

So onto the food. And to be honest I had no expectations about Campari House, but by the end of the night I was very impressed. We started with Braised black travelly on wild mushroom rissoni, pistachio dust. I’m pretty sure this was a big hit with everyone at the table. The fish had such a crispy skin, exactly how I like it, with a sharp and refreshing lemon hit. The pasta was creamy with meaty mushrooms throughout. I did however miss the pistachio dust. I was pretty hungry so I may have wolfed it down before I noticed anything. Daz was really taken with it, but somehow my mum can't get him to eat her rissoni with broccoli, I suspect the broccoli has something to do with it.

Campari House rissioni

Next we had Rabbit ballontine, caramelised pearl onion, game jus. The Rabbit loin was wrapped in bacon, topped with crispy sage, thyme and barely cooked pearl onions. The bacon gave a smoky quality, and the pearl onions were nice and crunchy but with caramelised edges. The jus was lovely, silky, gamy and perfect to tie all the elements on the dish together. We had a mini debate about what was actually in the game jus, and of course I just had to know. I guessed that there would be rabbit in it, but was well off on the quail....I thought it was venison. How many glasses of wine had I had?


Next we had Cauliflower gratin, truffled white polenta. Another winner! At first I was thinking, this isn’t that's just cauliflower in cheesy glop. It wasn’t until you dug a little further and unveiled the fluffy and creamy polenta that you understood why this dish was good. I could have eaten a massive serve of this. If you ignore the amount of butter, cream and cheese in this, it could be extremely healthy. It does have cauliflower in it! There was only one real disappointment....I wanted MORE TRUFFLE. But isn’t that always the way?


Next was the Slow roasted mustard beef, sticky winter mushrooms. Sadly my beef was a little cold, which made it a little had to chew when it was this rare. Otherwise I thought it was great. Nice and filling with beautiful meaty mushrooms. Once again being the strange and curious types we are we wanted to know how the mushrooms were made sticky. And I guess when you ask a stupid question, you get a stupid answer. The sticky jus was made from wine and honey. BIG SURPRISE!!


To finish we had Chilled strawberry soup, basil foam, shortbread straw. Daz was taking the photos for the night, so by this stage he had enough to drink to transform him into a teenage Japanese girl...hence the angled photo with bunny ears in the back. Hey wait....didnt we already eat the rabbit? Anyway back to the food, as soon as I read the menu I was excited. By now you know that I have a very unhealthy obsession with basil. FYI I’ve already planted my basil for the season....I know its too early but I’m hoping for an unusually warm late winter allowing my basil to shoot up so I can indulge in my true love....sorry Daz....basil always wins over you. Back to the dessert....hmmmm basil foam, it was all I could think about the entire night. The soup was the true essence of strawberries, and the basil foam did not disappoint. The only disappointment was the shortbread straw that didn’t even work as a straw. False advertising!!! Pat and I both tried to suck through the straw before we discovered that it was a lie!! It was like finding out the tooth fairy was just your parents leaving money in exchange for teeth. It was horrible!! We had a cry and then moved on.


Overall the food was well thought out and exceptionally put together. Not one dish was a knockout compared to the others, but together the whole meal was pretty memorable. I’ll definitely go back and see what else Campari House has to offer.

For Agnes' version of events, go here


April @ My Food Trail said...

Ah, it's pretty rare to find a food blogger who is not behind! :)

I love your comment about champagne goes with everything! I totally agree!!

Hannah said...

I can't help giggling at the way it kinda sounds like Agnes married her brother... :D (BFF, if you're reading this, I know that's not the case!)

Love the sound of the dessert - I'm a big fan of using "savoury" herbs in sweet things!

Agnes said...

Maria, you are too funny! That was such a hilarious night - and it's not just you who's obnoxious. We are rather obnoxious and loud as a group! :p

And BFF - HMMMPT. I'm not Tasmanian! ;)

penny aka jeroxie said...

Bottomless glass? That is a great dinner! And yes, I am so, so behind.

Conor @ Hold the Beef said...

Maria between the two of us there would be no bubbles left in that entire neighbourhood.

Poor old Daz playing second fiddle to Basil. Basil Fawlty.

My Restaurants Melbourne said...

Wow those dishes look great, and daz did i good job of taking photos. The strawberry soup looks interesting.

Jetsetting Joyce (MEL: HOT OR NOT) said...

Thanks for the post - I've never given two thoughts about Campari House but your photos make the food look amazing. Another one to add the to list...

Jetsetting Joyce

Anonymous said...

Hey Maria,

Thanks for your blog. I'm glad you enjoyed yourselves- you were certainly laughing and joking more and more with every glass if vino...

Hopefully we'll see you back at Campari House in the near future....


Greg Fitzgerald
Venue Manager,
Campari House

Ali-K said...

Oh....I really wanted to go to this. Glad you liked it.

thanh7580 said...

Maria, every blogger is behind, that's the nature of food blogging I think. We're all gluts who eat too much and don't have time to write. :-)

Love the rabbit ears behind the glass, too funny.