On Monday night I was lucky enough to experience the first Largesse Dining (@LargesseDining) event, held at Restaurant Amuse in East Perth. Restaurant Amuse was in her ‘casual clothes’ for the evening, as the main event was definitely the food we were about to eat.
The concept driving Largesse was to get six great West Australian chefs – and mates – together and create a memorable evening to show off the state’s bounty of wine, produce and culinary talent while supporting the efforts of local charity Foodbank.
Foodbank is an Australian charity which sources donated and surplus food from supermarkets and the food manufacturing industry for those in need. They also donate food to the school breakfast program here in WA – which helps feed kids the most important meal of the day across the state.
Our chefs for the evening had devised a menu which reflected the amazing produce Western Australia has to offer, and perfectly showcased their talents. Also on offer were matched wines from local wineries, which perfectly complimented each amazing course. As I am a wine neophyte, I will have to refrain from making any comments about it! (Though I really enjoyed drinking it!)
We started with “soup” – Wild Swan Distilling Company Gin and Vodka punch, served to the hungry and thirsty masses assembling.
We were seated at our tables quickly – as it turned out the two J’s (J and Jac), TFP and I were seated at the long table in the centre of the room, with the winemakers from Thumbprints and Myatts Field, and the blogging/media contingent – Abstract Gourmet, Hold the Beef, Jen Susanto Lee and our MC for the evening, Max Veenhuyzen.
Soon after we were seated, we were surrounded by wait staff bearing plates of delicious canapes. Unfortunately my photos from this part of the evening weren’t great – but I can regale you with tales of the delicious morsels I scarfed down. I almost recklessly abandoned all thought of “saving myself” for the six courses to come. How could I not, when I was faced with crispy fish and chicken skin crackle (saving the best for last? Not tonight!), goats cheese on crisp melba toast, white anchovies twirled around tiny forks with a sprinkling of hazelnut praline, pork rinds with green mole, and evil but so delicious foie gras parfait on mini toasts. It was clear to us all we were in for a great night.
Our first course was from Kiren Mainwaring (apologies for the lack of a photo, none of them did it justice), a delicate yet flavoursome Goats cheese and Bunya Nut Tortilla. The goats cheese was handmade by Kiren, from fresh local goat milk – delicately creamy, this was served with fresh tomatoes and Bunya nuts (a bush food native to Queensland) over a crisp tortilla ‘shell’. I tasted and saw a sprinkling of nigella seeds, which added that extra spicy kick to an otherwise delicate and refined first course.
Our second course from Todd Stuart – Snow crab, scampi and scallop was a beautifully constructed dish. A soft mound of crab was mingled with fresh herbs, and topped with a crisp pastry cigar (filled with a slightly sweet-sour foamy sauce, which I thought was probably citrus – pink grapefruit?)
Perfectly poached scallops and scampi were rolled in a ribbon of lightly cooked leek.
I was really looking forward to this course (for weeks after booking our tickets!) and this didn’t disappoint. The freshness of the seafood was phenomenal.
Fourth was a surprise hit amongst the diners – I think the room harboured many a carnivore, and the promise of a meatless item on the menu was something none of us were sure of. But I would go vegetarian if I could be promised this Porcini and Spinach Rotolo from Jason Jujnovich every week (or every day).
As my plate was placed in front of me a waft of brown butter and sage, and the deliciously meaty aromas of porcini were almost overwhelming. Softened spinach and surprisingly chunky pieces of porcini were swaddled in silky smooth pasta. Drizzled liberally with the sage infused brown butter, this was the ultimate in comfort food. I would gladly shun meat for this!
I must confess Stephen Clarke‘s Salmon, Rabbit and Beetroot was the one course which initially had me worried.
I’m happy to eat most things (ketchup is an exception) but beetroot is something I’ve never been a fan of. I suppose it’s one of those things you either love or hate. I may not be a hater per se, but there’s definitely no love there.
I was pleasantly surprised when this was placed in front of me. The streak of deep red (beetrooty) sauce was the perfect accompaniment to the gently poached (olive oil poached or sous vide, I think) salmon. And the pickled beetroot that accompanied the rabbit was quite the revelation, as I found myself actually enjoying the crisp texture and acidic flavour with the meat.
Our fifth course for the evening was a stunner from Hadleigh Troy, succulent, perfectly cooked pork served with black pudding and a molasses.
It was rich and hearty yet so refined. No matter what reservations any of my dining companions may have had about the presence of black pudding, each and every one of us at the table were happily scraping up every last scrap, and gleaning every last drop of sauce and mingled porky goodness from our plates.
Our final course of the evening was a lovely array of chocolatey goodness from Scott O’Sullivan.
I’ve eaten at Red Cabbage before, and I was very happy to see these on the menu for the evening.
Chocolate was front and centre in three delicious variations – a chocolate mousse, chocolate filled ‘tortellini’ and chocolate parfait.
A happy ending for us all!
We all agreed this was an amazing experience – I really enjoyed every single minute.
I can’t wait for my next meal with Largesse!