Saturday, March 26, 2011

Meal Memories...

Its a month since the quake and since we visited South Australia. I still can't get the best meal we had whilst over there 'out of my head' (to quote Kylie Minoque).  It consisted of 5 courses (each shared by both of us).  It was at Fino - a small and tidy looking restaurant down in the McLaren Vale (in a town called Willanga).  The wine matching and hospitality were amazing.  But it was the food that got me - popping with  colour, seasonal and local, the menu took great produce, and classic dishes, and then pimped them up with tiny nuances - that made them Fino's. Nothing showy, nothing pretentious (potentially how this paragraph sounds) -  just really good.  Here is the meal we shared:
 Venison Carpaccio with pickled veges (carrot, beetroot, radish), watercress and parmesan. 
 Salt cod (done with snapper), blended with potato and topped with a perfect poached egg and parmesan.    This was so comforting, and fun, and colourful and unctuous and full of a salty and mellow flavour.
 Fried gar fish - with a fennel, free olive and raddish salad. 
 The larger than life's owner's dad's secret recipe above: rabbit bollatine sitting on shreds of confit-ed rabbit thigh - forming a salad (can't remember which herb was mixed with it).  The sausage had quite a bit of kick in it, as well as pine nuts to give texture, and it was cased into the skin from a duck's neck.  Superb.
 This is one of their signature dishes - Duck (so beautifully cooked), with fresh as fresh broccollini, beetroot and lentil salad. I forget what else formed the red wine based sticky jus.  The dish was so simple it made you think you could do it at home - but so clean and cooked with restraint - I'd be pretty chuffed to make the replica of this!
 Above - this quite simply is my favourite desert of all time.  Hands down. Another signature dish, it was homemade vanilla bean ice cream, set as a terrine with layers of brandy snap styled caramel and rock hard dark chocolate (think florentine layers), and accompanied with quite a tart poached rhubarb and syrup. 
Al went for the Creme Catalan. These guys so knew what they were doing. Such happy eating. Great company and they were so accommodating - letting us share a wine glass so we could try as many wines as possible and the driver could taste a little along the way too. Thank you!

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