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Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2010

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Beer Vs Wine

Portland Hotel and James Squire Brewhouse
127 Russel Street (Cnr Russell and Little Collins)
Melbourne 3ooo
9810 0064
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I don’t really get into the Food and Wine Fest, much to the surprise of many that know me as I love my food and I love my wine. However, there just aren’t that many events that appeal to me; I’d rather go experience the restaurants during a regular time of year where the dishes aren’t produced in mass for a hefty price tag. Having said that, reading other blogger’s write-ups of some of the events of the food and wine fest show me that perhaps I am wrong. I wish I had been more involved, perhaps next year when I feel a little less poor I may be more keen to fork out the $$ for the events.

I do have a very good friend (who is also very organised) who arranged for us to catch up over a lunch at the Portland Hotel. And I have to say I’m very glad he did, as it was a great experience, and excellent value at only $65 for a five course meal paired with a glass of wine and a pot of beer for each. The description for the event is as follows

http://www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au/event?id=330

“Join the team at The Portland as we pitch the Malt Shovel Brewery’s James Squire range of beers against wines from Mitchelton made by Australian Young Winemaker of the Year, Ben Haines. Matched to five sumptuous courses prepared by The Portland Hotel’s head chef, Rob Elliot, you decide which matches best.”

After registration, Appetizers were brought out. Unfortunately I have no photos of the appetizers as I left my memory card at home. They consisted of;

Tasmanian oysters; saffron oyster stew with chive essence
W.A. Scallops; rinded aged cheddar mornay
Victorian mussels; pancetta, coriander & garlic gratin

These were paired with

James Squire Golden Ale and 2009 Blackwood Park Riesling

The scallops were tasty in a nice creamy cheesy sauce, but the mussels were delicious! I had several of these; they had a nice south-east Asian zing to them. Unfortunately I did not get to try one of the oysters (they went quickly) but they must have been delicious as one of my dining companions loved it – even though he hates oysters..!

The only real gripe I have with this day was that things were somewhat disorganised to begin with; we did not really know what was going on; food just came around and we were given the choice of beer or wine. We all went beers for starters and did not get the wine match, so I can only comment on the beer match. Perfect with the mussels, mussels and beer truly are a match made in heaven. The scallops were perhaps a bit cheesy for the beer match.

After appetizers and a dash to Target to buy a new memory card (yes I am a dedicated food geek), we were sat down and we were introduced to our hosts who would be showing us through our beer and wine matches for the rest of the day.

Entree consisted of

Cripsy duck and wonton stack: with water spinach, candied chilies, sticky soy and sesame oil dressing.

Matched with: James Squire Pilsner and 2006 Mitchelton Crescent Grenache Mourvedre Shiraz

This was a very tasty dish, nice south-east Asian flavours, though a little salty from the wonton stacks. The beer match worked well as the pilsner was very floral and highlighted the sweet and spicey flavours of the dish. The wine match I thought was too heavy, a real shame as I feel this dish would have been much better matched with a lighter pinot. The wine alone was lovely, sweet yet robust with berry notes.

The main was shared between the table;

Oven roasted Hopkins River beef entrecote (Victoria grain fed 110 days) served with wattle seed jus & a selection of sides;

confit of shallot and kifler potatoes
roasted baby vegetables; carrot, beetroot, zucchini
steamed greens – broccoli, gai lan, green beans
salad of wild roquette, grana padano & pine nuts dressed with vincotto and aged olive oil

Paired with: James Squire Amber Ale & 2008 Mitchelton Shiraz

The steak was visually impressive, a big hunk of meat cooked medium on the bone, then cut into fat slices with the gravy next to it. My dining companions loved it, I thought it was slightly over-cooked (more medium well than medium), but a good piece of meat nevertheless. The sides were lovely, the potatoes particularly so.

The Shiraz went lovely with the steak. The beer was fine, but a good piece of meat paired with a nice full bodied red is pretty much a no-brainer.

We then moved onto Dessert;

Hot chocolate fondant; sour cherry & stout coulis, French vanilla bean ice cream

Paired with: James Squire Porter & Knappstein Vintage Port

The dessert was lovely, as you can see wonderful to split the pudding open and watch the chocolate sauce gush out. The cherry-stout coulis was delightful. We were instructed to take a bite of the pudding, then take a swig of the full-bodied porter and swig it around. This was eye-opening, the porter is not a beer I would normally drink as it is a extremely rich beer, similar to a stout. However, it is more delicate than your average stout, being creamier with hints of malt and chocolate. Because of this creamy chocolately-malt tones, it really brought the pudding to a new level. The Port wine worked ok, but was perhaps a bit too sweet and took away from rather than complemented the pudding.

If that wasn’t enough, we were then brought out a Cheese Selection of

Locheilan Kaarimba White Rind Brie: Based on Normandy Brief, earthy flavours, creamy finish
King Island Dairy Roaring Forties Blue: full flavoured blue with a sweet, slightly nutty character, a rich mouth feel and good aftertaste
Served  with water wafers, lavosh crisps, quince paste & fresh grapes

Matched with Mad Brewers Orchard Ale & 2010 Preece Moscato

The cheeses were ok, nothing to blow your mind away. Again, cheese & wine is bound to win; if there was any thing that wine was invented to complement, I would say it is cheese & steak. The sweetness of the moscato worked nicely with the blue; taking away some of its ‘stinkiness‘. This reminds me of my most surprisingy wine & cheese match I’ve ever had was pairing De Bortoli  Noble One wine with a blue cheese at the De Bortoli winery; normally the sticky syrupy wine is hard to have more than a little sip of, and I am normally very averse to blue cheese, but having the two together in my mouth opened up a new flavour explosion I did not know possible. Anyway, I diverge. What I mean to say is, Blue cheese & sweet wine. Love it.

Overall the lunch was a fantastic experience, my favourite type; educational, and fun. Was interesting to sit there and bounce ideas between the other diners, thinking about how to take a meal to the next level with good drink choices. Great value too, as the food was overall really tasty – 5 courses, 5 glasses of wine, 5 beers for $65. Our hosts indicated they may have more events like this one in the future.

We were well and truly stuffed by the end of it. Food (& booze) coma.

Written by glutamatejess

March 28, 2010 at 11:36 pm

The Grand Hotel, Richmond

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The Grand Hotel
333 Burnley Street, Richmond
(03) 9429 2530

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Grand Hotel Dining Room on Urbanspoon

MS and I decided to check out one of the gastropubs in Melbourne. Gone are the days where a pub meal meant poor produce fried, deep fried or refried then dished out onto plates masquerading as ‘food.’ Gastropubs are spotted throughout Melbourne, with good food made well and a focus on quality produce.

The Grand Hotel is a prime example of a gastropub, a simple dining room. Located in the sleepy end of Burnley street, from the outside it appears unassuming but walk inside, and it’s really quite charming.  Whilst the Lounge Bar may appear a bit dated, the beer garden out the back is really quite pretty.

This review is of the Dining Room, the little side room next to the bar.

We ate;

Roast Duck served with a spelt, barley and cherry salad and an orange and juniper berry sauce $33.50

which was nice, quite flavoursome, the cherries did little to add to the dish except make it visually more attractive. I love duck, and whilst this dish was quite good, I haven’t had much duck that the Chinese didn’t make better.

Pot-Roasted Veal With white wine and sage, served with silverbeet and parmesan - $32.50

which was nice, with restrained mild flavours, but had a nice texture, but Alex wasn’t overally impressed.

Alex: It was a solid dish and executed well but this sort of thing isn’t really my bag. I’m no expert on various cuisines but, to me, it was reminiscent of bland English and Northern European food, not high on flavour but a good hearty meal. I give it a tick on execution but just not something I would order again.

Jess’ Ratings:

Taste: 7/10. The food was good, but not stunning. Good flavours, cooked well, and serving sizes were decent.

Ambiance: 8/10. Beautiful dining room. Quiet, dim but still well-lit enough to see your food, had a nice feel to it.

Service: 9/10. Excellent. Not in your face, but very attentive. Couldn’t fault it.

Value: 7/10. Not bad, again, good serving sizes. Food was of high quality produce, though of course the dishes weren’t cheap.

Overall: 7/10. Nice experience. Didn’t blow my mind, but had little to complain about. Overall very enjoyable.

Alex’s Ratings:

I agree entirely with Jess on this one, it was an excellent but leisurely dining experience. 🙂

Written by glutamatejess

February 20, 2010 at 12:15 pm