Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Saint Crispin (Collingwood) 06/2013

 First a little history from Wipkipedia

Saints Crispin and Crispinian are the French Christian patron saints of cobblers, tanners, and leather workers. Born to a noble Roman family in the 3rd century AD, Saints Crispin and Crispinian, twin brothers, fled persecution for their faith, ending up in Soissons, where they preached Christianity to the Gauls and made shoes by night.
Although not desanctified they were removed from the register of saints because there is insufficient evidence that they actually existed! I think they might well have been forgotten all together despite their good works, and perhaps even their cooking, had not St. Crispins Day been made memorable in an incredible inspirational speech penned by Shakespeare for Henry V at the battle of Agincourt.
See  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-yZNMWFqvM 
300 Smith Street was formerly the work place of a shoe maker so it is fitting that Scott Pickett and his partner Joe Grbak should have named their new restaurant Saint Crispins. It occupies a large room with an exceptionally high ceiling. 
A large bar and kitchen occupy most of one side of the room leaving a very comfortable L shaped space which can seat up to 60 patrons. There has been a lot of thought put into the place. Seating is very comfortable, tables, made from recycled wood, are longer than usual making for much less crowding, and, with unobtrusive back ground music, the over all atmosphere is warm and welcoming.
We were offered an amuse bouche, a thin potato crisp with bobs of a tomato sauce, finely chopped scallops and some greens before we got to the food.

The menu is set out in with a couple of 'Little Bites'  Natural Coffin Bay oysters $16/$30 and Saint Crispin charcuterie ($32) followed by three sections of four dishes, entree's mains, one of each being a vegetarian option, and desserts, as well as sides ($9) Patrons are invited to have two courses for $50 or three for $60.
Everything on the menu looked interesting. We started by sharing the charcuterie which was excellent, as good as I've ever had. Served with toasted brioche the home made sausage made by Joe''s Croatian father was outstanding, as was the duck and pork terrine, the foie gras parfait, the wagyu bresaola and the prosciutto. Additional bread with a beaut caramelized onion butter as well as regular butter capped of this fantastic platter.

We shared an entree of Grimaud duck, heirloom beets, foie gras parfait and cumquat with a handsome amount of shaved Tasmanian truffles ($25). This dish demonstrated great skill in bringing together ingredients which melded, by the dressing, and with some roasted oats for a bit of crunch, it came together to make an excellent dish. Flavours were distinct but not dominating, even the cumquat's normal bitterness had been modified make it fit the dish.

Flinders Island lamb, nettles, radish tops and slippery jacks was delicate and refined. I would have preferred it a little more pink but it was quite moist. All the fat had been trimmed from the lamb which was very tender and the vegetables were beyond criticism.

Every element of the veal cheek, hand rolled macaroni, miso eggplant and almonds was perfectly prepared. Simply excellent. The macaroni, very much in the Italian style superb and the cheek meltingly tender and tasty. It also came with a large piece of sweetbreads, an offal lovers delight.

A side dish of new season Kifler potato, seaweed, and sesame butter was also perfect with these mains.

Carrot, star anise, almond and honey was a clever dessert. The common orange carrot was sliced thin and candied, yellow carrot was made into a sweet puree and purple carrot rings were well cooked in tender rings. Not too rich it was the best end to a fine dinner.

Service was extremely friendly. Ash, who looked after us was well informed and full of information. The wine list is modest but more than adequate. 
In all a very excellent meal in a very pleasant space.
Will we go back - absolutely for sure. 
Score:16.25 /20

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Daneli's Deli (Balaclava) 06/2013

Daneli's is a hybrid. It's not quite what you expect from a delicatessen, it's not a cafe- they don't serve tea or coffee, it's a sort of mixed eat in/take away restaurant

with a reasonable but limited selection of deli.  There is a lot that's different and a lot that's the same about it since we last visited. What's the same, or similar, is the prices, it's remarkably inexpensive, the atmosphere, very friendly,
here Eli displays his good humour, the small tables, the continuous flow of customers getting take away or sitting and schmoozing.  What's different is the interior arrangements, the counter now runs length wise with tables in an L shape around it but what is especially different is the menu which, still kosher, now has all the old stuff and and an added Chinese selection. 
The menu's are up on the wall,

 not scratched out in chalk but legibly printed on clean posters.
 Meals are good size and mostly have good flavour but they lack any sort of delicacy. 
Chicken spring rolls, served with sweet chili sauce, are unique. They're large and they probably have the right ingredients but some how they taste like no other spring roll. The pastry is thick and not at all oily, the chicken dry. I think they might be healthier than most but we don't recommend them.
A large serve of chips, obviously hand cut, were very moorish,

Chicken salad had plenty of chicken and was satisfying.
 Sweet and sour chicken had an excess of peppers but a good, though meager, sauce.
The beef in black bean sauce was very mildly flavoured and also had an excess of coarsely cut peppers.
They are not licensed in part or in full - no BYO. 
Service was a little like sitting around the kitchen table and asking mum, Eli in this case, for whatever you needed, side plates, water, glasses, actually plastic cups, or whatever.
Score: 12.5 /20 but we'd happily take a kosher friends there for a casual meal.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Chatter 50 If Fish could Push Buttons (June 2013)

Recently aquaculture has developed in Australia to the point where Murray Cod are being farmed in reliable sustainable conditions. This remarkable fish, which can grow to over 50 kilograms, was, for centuries , the staple fish diet of Australian aboriginals and until recently an extremely popular fish for anglers on the Murray. More recently, almost fished out, it became a protected species and many Australians have never tasted this fish which is unique to Australia.
That is all about to change. Tomorrow the NSW Minister for fisheries is going to officially open Marianvale Blue, the largest producer of Murray Cod in our country..
They will become available in all sizes, from about 600 to 1500 kilo are generally best, Farmed fish have a lot going for them. They do not put their species at risk of extinction, they are not full of mercury and other contaminants from our not so clean sea and river water and they do not develop the muddiness seen in some predatory river fish. Indeed the flesh of this fish is outstanding, characterized by a delicate flavour, a fine white flaky texture and the bones are not difficult to deal with.
It doesn't have the cute look of the koala bear or the odd posture of the kangaroo but Murray Cod is set to become the iconic fish of Australia - it pushes all the right buttons.