The Point – new & old dinner
Albert Park Lake Aquatic Dr
Albert Park, 3206
03 9682 5566
The Melbourne food and wine festival held over a short two weeks has come and gone in such frenzy. Sad to say having a full time job is simply incompatible with full immersion into the festival spirit of eating. Sad I know… After much browsing through the extensive list of events, I was much intrigued by the Old School vs New School dinner at The Point. It throws together the old school classical approach of Scott Pickett against the new school contemporary twists of Ryan Flaherty.
Built on the banks of Albert Park Lake, it offers stunning visual delight – often lit up by reflections off the lake surface, or warmed by the soft hues of sunset. Ok, so it was a cloudy day, but one can surely imagine how amazing the view would be on a nice summery day. The sleek interior is one of muted colours, soft curvy lines and corrugated ceiling; and ambient lighting gives the space a bit of simple luxury.
After a short briefing from the two star chefs of the night, warm bread and olive oil is served.
In keeping with the theme of the night, all wines were carefully selected from French (old school) and local Australian vines (new school).
Suckling pig croustade, white onion gel – the collaboration
NV Pommery Apanage, Reims France (left)
2006 Yarrabank Cuvee, Yarra Valley (right)
A collaboration of new and old, this deep fried ‘dumpling’ crumbles to a buttery lightness in the mouth, giving way to a morsel of tender suckling pig. The onion gel is both sweet and creamy – simple appetising flavours.
Egg (old): Poached egg, white polenta and black truffle
2009 Domain Mittnacht Riesling, Alsace France
Every mouthful of this dish oozes with the rich intensity of creamy polenta and perfectly gooey yolk of poached egg. The silky perfection is married with an earthy black truffle, which makes for an absolutely divine indulgence. This is easily my favourite dish, epitomising the classics of old school interpretation. Simply cannot have enough of it!
Egg (new): 63c egg, blackened corn and jamon
2009 Christmont Riesling, King Valley
This is a stunning dish to look at with the bright yellow hues, crushed greens and tar-black of ash. The 63c egg is softly boiled with a nice bounciness and just cooked gooeyness in the middle. Paired with this is a hint of saltiness from the jamon, a little juicy bite of corn. The black-ash dust adds stunning visual impact, but not sure it adds much in palate depth.
Whiting (old): Grilled whiting, golden raisins, pinenuts and beurre noisette
2008 Chablis 1er Cru Fourneaux (Louis Moreau), Chablis France
The thin fillet of whiting lightly grilled offers a soft juicy flesh, married with the warming decadence of beurre noisette (brown butter), sweet raisins and crunchy pine nuts for texture. It is hard to flaw any individual element, yet overall it seems a little over sweet and rich with butter. The purity and richness of the Chablis however does pair well with the buttery notes of this dish.
Whiting (new): Smoked whiting, fennel and bacon
2008 Red Hill Chardonnay, Mornington Peninsular VIC
Ryan Flaherty has taken the same fillet of whiting here and given it an element of smokiness which is perfectly complemented with the sweet acidity of fennel foam. Hints of meaty bacon and caramelised fennel scattered across the plate add complexity. A tiny sip of Red Hill Chardonnay to moisten the half-masticated-food in the mouth brings into play the sweetness of honey, notes of citrus and toastiness. Oh-MY-Gosh perfect marriage of wine with food!
Note to self: take only small sips of the matched wine to moisten mouthful of food, to infuse rather drown it.
Duo of pasture fed beef – two different techniques
2003 Chateau Balac Cru Bourgeois, Medoc France
2004 Ainsworth & Snelson Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra SA
Set on a single white round plate, separated only by a smear of mushroom sauce, they embrace subtle dissimilarities between two renditions of beef. Grilled, charred and rested in the conventional method, the old school version has a familiar robust texture and sweet-caramelised exterior. Cooked sousvide for many hours and only light browned on the outside, the new school beef has an extremely soft masticated texture throughout the steak that simply melts in the mouth. Both steaks were done perfectly, and in the end it really came down to personal preference, much like that between meatier porterhouse versus lighter scotch fillet. The deep coloured mushroom sauce smeared across the plate and the syrupy gravy adds notes of saltiness and earthiness. Given they served both steaks together, it wasn’t surprising that the two wines used here were fairly interchangeable, both adding nice acidity to the mouth.
Sides: The buttery mash complements well with the steaks, whilst the sides of micro greens adds some distraction from the meat-heavy orientation of the dishes.
Apple (old): Apple tart and hokey pokey ice cream
2007 Chateau Gravas, Sauternes France
Cut in a flat rectangular fashion, the apple tart is quite decadent with a strong citrusy component atop a crisp pastry base. With shards of toffee, the vanilla based hokey pokey ice cream is quite addictive. The paired wine is also a sweet choice, with a slightly creamy texture to it. All in all a trivector of syrupy goodness.
Apple (new): Apple, cinnamon, yoghurt and honeycomb
2009 William Downie Petit Monseng, King Valley VIC
A refreshing contrast to the previous dessert with light notes of fruity apple and melon sweetness, brittle honeycomb, creamy acidity of yoghurt; together with a floral King Valley Monseng – amalgamated to a zingy, fruity champagne aroma without the obvious astringency if alcohol actually had been used in the dessert.
Rating: easily Yummy+2 with moments of culinary ecstasy. The winning dishes for me were indisputably the delicious earthiness of the poached egg (of old) and the new world smoked whiting (of new). Wines were predominantly well matched, though personally I felt the latter dishes had better marriage.
Overall winner: Scott Pickett’s old school menu!
If this boozy night of 8 courses and 10 different matched wines (and of course with refills) wasn’t infinitely enjoyable enough, we were all given little show bags with a little treat inside – “Candied chocolate” the waitress said. Clearly too intoxicated and satiated to be immediately excited, I did not discover this until the next morning when foraging through the bag. It sure looked like a science project housed in a small test tube with blue twist cap. Pop a small handful of the brown grains on the tongue, wait a minute for the chemical reaction, and O-M-G ‘POP-POP-POP-POP’ like little popcorns exploding chocolate flavours against the roof of the mouth. =)