You don't need
a fancy blog title when you're talking about a meal like I had last night.
We went and did the 8 course degustation (with wine matching!) at ezard, at the base of the Adelphi hotel. With nine diners in attendance, we secured the private room, a curtained off area at the front of the restaurant. One giant square table, covered in white linen, a giant, pointless, empty stainless steel bowl adorning it's centre. The room, and the restaurant itself was gorgeous.
As we started to get comfortable, we were offered cocktails to start, and bellinis were in the mentioned list. I [heart] bellinis, so I thought this was a good idea. I've always known bellinis to be peach schnapps, pureed peaches, and champagne. What arrived was a martini glass, with a scoop of sorbet, with champane poured over the top, and it was divine. Utterly, utterly divine.
First Course: japanese inspired oyster shooter
flavoured with mirin and sake, and some other things I don't remember, served on a perfect round of banana leaf (I wonder if the price of banana leaf has gone up as well?), with a tiny nori-wrapped parcel to bite into afterwards. It was served with a delicious champagne that really makes me see the value of buying real champagne rather than the $10 bottles of yellow... The tastes of the oyster shooter were absolutely perfect, had become more than the sum of its parts and really melded together. One of my dining companions remarked that a dishlike this is the mark of a 'master chef', creating something so amazing from seemingly simple ingredients.
Second Course: wasabi pannacotta, yellowfin tuna tartare, shiso crisp, lime, sticky soy and tobikko
Pannacotta is generally a desert dish, but the wasabi pannacotta, topped with translucent green tobikko and baby shiso leaves gave it a whole new meaning. The plate was drizzled with sweet, sticky soy sauce, and a small ball of tuna tartare (basically raw tuna, chopped into tiny pieces) sat next to the pannacotta, topped with a deep fried shiso leaf, also on the plate was a single, perfectly peeled lime segment. The attention to detail with the garnishes and little touches on all
the meals was mind boggling, by the way.
Sam, our serving wench for the evening, explained that for this course, it was recommended to have a bit of each of the parts of the course within a mouthful, and this advice served me well. The heat of the wasabi was present, but not overpowering, and while I'm not generally a fan of sashimi (I think it may be the texture), the tuna was obviously of the highest quality, and the way the sticky soy melded with it was a great contrast with the sharp, tangy lime.
Third Course: steamed shitake mushroom dumpling, roast duck, chinese spiced broth and spring onion
Well, I was always going to look forward to this course, duck, and soup, two of my favourite things, together! It didn't disappoint either. A single fine slice of perfectly cooked duck breast, with skin, sitting atop a wonton, in an empty bowl, is placed in front of each diner, and then a small saucepan is brought out from the kitchen and the broth is poured over. I'm running out of positive adjectives for this food, but the wine that was matched with this course was a sherry, that we had been warned may not be to our tastes without the broth, but that it matches very well. This was true, I had a curious sip before the course was served, and was not a huge fan, but a sip of it directly after a sip of broth was much improved, though this was still my least favourite wine of the evening.
Fourth Course: steamed crab tortelli, crispy leek and herb salad, soy and honey butter sauce
Of everything I ate last night, I would have to say that this course was my favourite. Crab has long been my very favourite seafood, but due to what a pain in the arse it is to eat, it's a rare treat. I actually think that before last night, the last time I ate crab was actually over a year ago.
The tortelli was just one large filled pasta shape. The filling was flakes of white, perfect crab flesh, obviously cooked in the shell and then stripped. It was lightly flavoured, but most of the flavour of the dish came from the honey butter sauce, and the leek, which was almost caramelised. This is the closest I have ever been to food orgasm. I was speaking aloud while I was eating it. we had made it halfway, and two and a half hours had passed in a pleasant blur of flavour. I refuse to post crude 'flavour train' gags.
Fifth Course (now we're really starting to sound decadent): anchovy crusted swordfish with beetroot, blood orange, rhubarb and persian fetta salad, spring herb salsa
This dish just comes out looking pretty
. The bright colours of the rhubarb and beetroot, the contrast to the milky flesh of the swordfish and the brilliant while of the fetta, plus bright greenery. It was almost a shame to eat it. Almost.
There is such a huge difference between 'supermarket cheese' and 'deli cheese', and dishes like this are what highlight the difference. The creamy, crumbly, melt in your mouth-ness of the fetta in this dish just could not be replicated at home with something that is purchased in shrinkwrap. The tiny cubes of beetroot were just little bundles of fresh flavour, I normally don't like rhubarb, but this was delightful, I don't usually like anchovies, but the dried, fried crispy salty little thing that was passing as an ancovy was delicious. I may have to experiment with drying them out myself to see if it works.
All that and I'm still yet to mention the swordfish! I've never eaten swordfish before, so no real comparisons, suffice to say it was great, perfectly cooked and yummy.
Sixth Course: rice crusted kurobuta pork cheek with yellow bean dressing, spiced apples and green mango
Dan, early on in the meal, picked this as his potential favourite of his night, he had dined at ezard before and had the pork hock (if I'm wrong, I'm sure he'll come correct me in the comments) and fell in love, I believe. I think anyone would have been justified to call this their fave of the evening, if the crab wasn't so spectacular, I may have considered it myself.
Dry rice grains had been pounded and ground down to a size slightly smaller than sesame seeds, and most of the pork cheek had a fine coating of these that gave the tender meat a bit of a crunch. The cheek cut was a bit fatty, but it really worked to make the meat tender, moist and tasty. The apples and mango were a great tangy contrast, and the wine they served was the first red of the night (I think? the wine, as is the nature of wine, has become a little blurry), and as with the earlier champagne revelation, I can perhaps see the benefit of expensive reds. I know I'll just keep drinking goon though.
Seventh Course: roast duck, shaosang wine, roasted chilli and spring onion dressing, hand rolled sesame noodles
slow cooked wagyu beef brisket, roasted asparagus, crispy taro dumpling, rock sugar sauce
Sigh. This should
have been my favourite course, my obsession with duck being what it is, but I just didn't like the flavours it was presented with. The duck was perfectly cooked and melt-in-your-mouth tender, possibly cut from the same breast as the earlier duck course, but who cares. The sauce was just too gingery. Ginger has never been one of my favourite flavours, so this is disappointing. I understand that this is just me, though, I'm sure it's actually great, it's one of the signature dishes. The bite I stole from Dan's beef was delicious, so I now regret not switching. They served a big, yummy, aussie red with both the dishes, which was delightful.
Eigth and Final Course: Dessert Tasting Plate
I really didn't think I would have room for this, but decided to give it a red hot go anyway. The plate is a selection of miniature sized versions of every dessert on the menu, and while I can't remember each and every one, I will endevour to relay the highlights:
The vietnamese mint sorbet was delicously un-sweet, and the perfect palatte cleanser. The hazlenut cheesecake with passionfruit sorbet made me melt into a puddle. The honeycrunch icecream with sugar swirls was fabulously decadent, as was the bittersweet chocolate tart.
All in all, I am very glad I forked out the cash for this. It's never going to be an every week occurance, but for a big splashout like we wanted to do, this is perfect. I was extreemly happy with the private room, as well. we're a rowdy bunch at times, and I would have felt I was ruining someone else's special moment (could you imagine taking your lover to ezard in order to propose, only to be confronted with a group of rowdy 20 and 30 somethings screeching 'where's my fucken corsage?'?).
The duck thing was disappointing, but I cleaned my plate on every other course, so it's not that
big a disappointment. Good quality wine instead of my regular pig-swill means no hangover today.
I'm still trying to decide which is my favourite between ezard degustation and three, one, two degustation, though they are very disparate styles, so I guess I don't need to. Three, one, two was cheaper, and didn't charge us $150 for mineral water. Can you beleive that we managed to blow $2,500 between the nine of us last night? I think next time we should go with the coke and hookers.