Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Challenge - Saturday Week 1

It was my birthday on Saturday and I had a wonderful trip to Albany where I was 'gonged' at the Sandalwood Factory and then tea with friends at the Wild Duck.

The Wild Duck had a Five Course Degustation Menu (simply a fancy way of saying Set Menu) for $85 which a few of us chose to have with the matched wines for an extra $35.
The dishes were all small, delicately presented and brought out on enormous plates. The boys all thought they were going to starve. Boy, were they wrong!

The first course was a delicious cauliflower soup served with a seared scallop (just one, mind you) and some sort of decorative herb. We're not sure what it was, but it was a deep maroon colour. Don't remember what wine we had with this as I'd already finished it by the time the soup was served. (Well, it was only an 80ml serve of wine!)

Next, came a 15-hour cooked belly of pork with crackling, again with a seared scallop on a bed of Persian mash. This just fell apart, was wonderfully tasty and there was no fat as it had all been rendered out in the cooking process. Served with a light Sauvignon Blanc, I think, that I felt was a bit sweet. I wouldn't have served seared scallop twice, perhaps a prawn with the soup. One of the guests was allergic to seafood, but it wasn't an issue for the kitchen.

A Raspberry Sorbet came out in between here which was presented on a tiny plate and was a perfectly shaped quenelle. A bit sweet for my taste, but with a delicious hint of something aniseed, perhaps basil. The men thought it was hilarious, but ate it.

Course three was braised beef cheeks served on a corn puree with caramilised onion jam. An equally delicious dish, very rich and filling. By this stage, I was feeling quite replete.  The wine was a Cab Sav and was great match for the dish.
Instead of the beef, I would have appreciated a vegetarian dish here as we'd had no vegies to speak of up to now.

Next, my favourite, crispy skin duck breast on a pumpkin puree with spinach, baby carrot (one! DH said our carrots must be ready to pick) and pea puree. Absolutely superb and I was glad to see some vegies! A Pinot Noir came with the duck, not my favourite and not something I'd serve with duck.

Finally, a Lemon Tart that wasn't tart at all, but very sweet with a crunchy sugar topping. I didn't eat mine as I was already coming down with acid reflux and had raided the kitchen for some antacid tablets. Dessert was served with the most sickly wine I've ever tasted. A "Cane Cut" Reisling. Not one of us could stomach it.

All in all, a very tasty, but very expensive meal. I loved the presentation and service and, of course enjoyed the company. I wouldn't bother doing the matching wines again, but it was a good experience to try this.

No expenditure on food for home today, so Total Spend still stands at $15.80. Not bad for four days of three meals a day.

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