|A welcome glass of sparkling upon arrival|
I didn’t get to half as many Melbourne Food and Wine events as I would have liked to but I was invited by the festival to go along to the Sweets dinner which launched the exhibition. Guy Grossi planned the menu for the evening and had a fairly challenging task in trying to incorporate elements of each of the five cuisines involved in the exhibition in the menu along with reflecting the sweet theme of the exhibition. He restrained himself from making a five course dessert menu (although wouldn’t that have been fabulous) and instead incorporated an element of sweetness into each dish.
The evening started with sparkling wine served in the courtyard of the museum alongside fat pastry cigars stuffed with feta, walnut and dates. The filling erred on the dry side but the cigars had a great textural contrast between the soft cheese, crisp nuts and pastry.
|The beautiful setting for dinner at the Immigration Museum|
The dinner itself was held at a huge long table which ran the length of the museum. I loved the table decorations of flowers, custom made lollipops and jars of pastel coloured jelly beans all in keeping with the sweets theme.
|Turkish style mezze|
In the centre of the table mezze sharing plates were placed which had Turkish inspiration. They included spiced chickpeas, fiery chicken kebabs, Turkish pickled vegetables, fattoush and a simple tomato salad which had the requisite sweetness.
My favourite dish of the night was the Japanese inspired starter which was served next. Slices of seared tuna were served quite raw, topped with a ginger pickle and doused with a mirin and saki dressing which had a connotation of sweetness to it. It was delicate and brave.
The Mauritian influenced dish was a prawn rougaille comprising perfectly cooked, juicy prawns slathered in a ginger heavy tomato sauce and served with sweet basmati rice.
One of Guy’s chefs at his Grossi restaurants is Indian so it was his family recipe that Guy turned to for the Indian dish of lamb rogan josh. I suspect the spiciness of the chef’s rogan josh recipe was tempered for the dinner audience but the rich and hearty flavours of the rogan josh still shone through alongside the accompaniments of cooling cucumber raita and mango chutney.
Guy saved dessert for the Italians in the form of crisp cannoli filled with light and creamy ricotta. It was teamed with an orange sorbet. Bellissimo.
|Cannoli with orange sorbet|
The dinner was not a fine dining experience but instead, a chance to try out the cuisines of a range of different cultures in one meal. Some dishes were more successful than others but this did not really detract from the night which felt like a rather large and rather fabulous private dinner party. It was less about setting pulses racing than producing big smiles. Servings were generous as was the free flowing wine and Guy did a great job of going around and talking to all the guests at the dinner.
I was a guest of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.
Details: The Immigration Museum, 400 Flinders Street, Melbourne 3000. Open 10am -5pm.
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve. The exhibition costs $10 for adults and is free for children.