Thursday, October 14, 2010

Spring 2010 Menu

It’s that time again… New menu time! It’s time to tempt you all with our new dishes and Travis’ beautiful photographs (to see the menu click here).

On returning from Melbourne we wrote a mostly new menu but included a couple of favourites that we weren’t keen to see the end of yet. Since our last menu we have managed to get our hands on quite a few new plates so a couple of old dishes have been re-vamped to suit.

We will start with Raw yellowtail Kingfish with ginger and watermelon. Quite simple as it sounds, raw sliced king fish with fresh watermelon - but we have also added tiny pieces of lime, cabbage shoots, a little bit of green chilli oil (which is invisible on the black plate until it touches the white Kingfish). The ginger is in a pipette, along with corn syrup, yuzu juice and light soy sauce to be applied to the dish to the diner’s taste.

The good old Vegetable salad with Meredith’s marinated feta remains (although technically there is some fruit on the plate too). This dish changes quite often as different veggies come in and out of season, but the dish is always tied together with the combination of hazelnuts and the wonderful Meredith’s goats’ cheese. Some of the vegetable items are cooked sous vide, some are blanched and some simply raw. Textures vary from soft to crispy and, as there are so many differing elements, each mouthful is different in both flavour and texture.

The Local white fish with various onions and roasted onion essence is another dish that has been on Piccalilly’s menu in the past. The onions prepared in various ways: caramelised brown onion puree; confit garlic; raw, crispy and sous vide shallots; glazed spring onions; pickled white onions; raw red onions and chives with a couple of slices of red radish. The roasted onion essence uses red onions and the principles of ice clarification to extract only the sweetest juices. The onion essence contains so much pectin that it sets quite firmly in the refrigerator. The fish in this case is latchet however it changes from day-to-day. All our fish comes from Mako Fresh Fish.

Chicken liver and cinnamon parfait with wood sorrel and pickled beetroot is our nod to all the livers we ate when last in Melbourne. The parfait is created from chicken livers, salt, red wine vinegar and the obligatory butter; then set into cylinders and coated in cinnamon and honey jelly. Pickled beetroot retains its crunch and colour through the pickling process in Pendleton red wine vinegar. We forage wood sorrel and wood sorrel flowers from a couple of local Battery Point gardens. We also have yuzu panagratta, dehydrated orange zest, Cypriot salt and salted cinnamon biscotti.

White rabbit with pea and ham veloute and turtle beans is a simple dish of green pea puree let out with ham stock to a silky consistency. We then add rabbit, in this case rack, loin, kidney and liver (but we also use hind and fore legs as well as the belly and flank of the rabbit). A piece of golden-fried ham and buttery black turtle beans top the pea sauce with roasted carrot oil and chervil shoots to complete the dish. We will allow you to make up your own mind as to what it all represents.

 In our Mount Gnomon rare-breed pork shoulder with sweet corn mousse and carrot syrup dish the pork is cooked in butter and its own juices for around 30 hours. We mousse fresh sweet corn using algae and again use ice clarification to extract the essence of organic carrots, which on top of which the corn mousse floats. Pork crackling and South Australian caper berries add crunch and acid to cut the silky richness of the mousse and the pork. Click here to see Mount Gnomon's blog

Our Baked mushrooms with mushroom tea and confit egg yolk dish has appeared on several menus over the last couple of years, however this time it has had a re-working. There are no longer sauté mushrooms on the plate as they are now baked to allow their individual textures to come through and we have added thyme and avocado puree to the base of the dish for richness and an interesting favour combination. The mushroom tea is clarified mushroom essence infused with parsley, thyme and sage and poured at the table. The egg yolk is confit in olive oil at 62.4°C for 120 minutes and topped with Cypriot salt. Read about one of our local mushroom suppliers here

For the Slow-cooked goat shoulder with grains and chic pea puree dish the goat shoulder is cooked at 70°C for 40 hours before being crisped in a very hot pan and seasoned. It sits on top of black rice, soybeans, farroh, bhurgal, and barley, black, white and red quinoa and millet each cooked individually before being mixed with preserved lemon and vinegar. Chic pea and garlic puree and house-made labneh add moisture to the dish while toasted almonds add crunch, and fresh mint and cucumber foam add freshness. We use Boer goat meat from Rivendale Boer Goat Stud in Craddock, Huon Valley click here.

Rolled duck breast with duck leg Bolognese and prune puree was a dish we created for a VIP who had never tasted duck before, so we tried to do something a little bit different and also to try and use the whole duck. The breast is trussed before being cooked at 85°C for 4 minutes before being rested. It is then rolled in salt and herbs. For the Bolognese we mince duck leg meat by hand before caramelising it in a hot pan and deglazing it with fresh tomato puree and cooking it down until it is almost dry. We then add carrot and onion for sweetness. On top is a duck cracker, much like a prawn cracker but made with duck mousse set in the oven and shallow-fired until it is puffy and crisp. Prunes are rehydrated and cooked with caramelised onion before being pureed with a little bit of stock to create a silky puree, and a splash of brown chicken sauce floods the bottom of the bowl.

Dry-aged Longford eye fillet with umami and horseradish includes the dry-aged fillet has been a staple on the menu since the day we opened but this is the first time it has been plated without piccalilly (the relish) being involved. Instead we have added an umami (click here for more information) rich dashi stock for its strong savoury flavour. Dashi is the base of most Japanese cooking and comprises kombu seaweed and bonito dried tuna flakes. It is rich in umami, which is the 5th distinguishable flavour on the human tongue otherwise known as “savoury”. The many Asian cultures have known about umami for a long time but we in the west have only just really discovered it. It is found naturally in high quantities in foods like tomatoes, parmesan and Thai fish sauce - and lots in bacon and in a refined form in MSG. The umami stock is added at the table over a blob of spiced orange bitters jelly, which melts and becomes part of the sauce. Horseradish and beef are old friends and I think that this too adds a savouriness to the beef. Lastly there is a cube of 40-hour beef cheek just in case the dish wasn’t rich enough.

Textures of Tasmanian apples is the first of our sweet dishes. We use Jonathan and Granny Smith apples and prepare them in various different ways without adding much at all apart from a little bit of sugar and a bit of algae. We have dehydrated apple, apple sorbet, apple marshmallow, apple juice, apple foam, apple jelly, raw apple and poached apple. Simple.

To make Mock coconut pina colada we produce a little mock coconut through a long process of setting coconut sorbet into hemisphere moulds, scooping out the center, filling it with liquid frozen Lark’s Island Rum Syrup, sticking two halves together and sealing the seam, then brushing a couple of layers of chocolate onto the outside. It is delivered to the table with two salads, one made with the flesh and jellied liquid of an immature coconut along with pineapple compote, dehydrated pineapple and mint; and the other a salad made from the flesh and jellied liquid of a mature coconut with mint and pineapple. The two fresh coconuts have very different flavors and textures and it’s a nice expression of the same product at different stages of its life.

Untraditional black forest gateau  is chocolate and hazelnut sponge batter cooked to order so it is still warm which is then soaked in kirsch and plated along side sour cherries, sour cherry gel, kirsch cream and aerated crushed chocolate. All the elements of a black forest cake are present but in an untraditional way.

The process of preparing Soft centered chocolate and violet mousse with crystalised blossoms begins by adding another algae-based compound that is commonly used in commercial confectionery (and also in Hollywood movies) to slightly thicken a French violet liquor before it is frozen into disks. We then set each disk into the centre of a larger dish of dark chocolate mousse so that when the mousse is disturbed the violet liquid will run out. We top the mousse with a little chocolate nest made using ice and chocolate and crystalised blooms - in this case violets, pansies and nasturtiums.

If you would like any more information on any of the ingredients or dishes we have mentioned here please let us know. Otherwise we look forward to seeing you at Piccalilly to see it all for yourself…

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A bit more Devil Dinner

We have been sent a few photos by the official photographer of the night of the Devil of a Dinner. They are bit better than the iPhone ones in the last post so here they are. 

 Plating the crayfish dish

 Our vegetable salad

 Pre-service briefing 

 Plating Matt's quail dish

At the end of a long day...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Devil of a Dinner

Devil of a Dinner October 4th 2010

As you may or may not have heard, Iain was asked to prepare a dish for The Devil Island Project’s Devil of a Dinner held this year at the Hobart Function and Conference Centre.

The idea behind the dinner was to raise as much money as possible to purchase land that can be used as safe and disease-free habitat for Tasmanian Devils. The aim is to rescue this Tasmanian icon from extinction from the facial tumor disease.

Local philanthropist Jan Cameron from Chickenfeed had agreed to match every dollar raised, so the pressure was on to make it a great night. Fiona Hoskin, formerly of Fee & Me, had agreed to be the chief organiser and had recruited a group of Tasmanian chefs plus the illustrious Tetsuya Wakuda to produce a multi-coursed dinner. Dr Andrew Pirie had also been hard at work selecting and organising sponsorship for wines matching each dish.

Preparation for Piccalilly started nearly a week before the dinner, on the Wednesday, when sponsored ingredients from the good people at Chung Sing & Co. were delivered.
Vegetables. Lots and lots of vegetables!

We had decided to produce the feta and vegetable salad that has been a staple on our menu at Piccalilly for the last couple of years. For those who haven’t had the salad, it comprises as many seasonal and tasty vegetables as we can get our hands on, served with toasted hazel nuts and Meredith’s marinated goat’s feta. Typically it has around 12-15 different veggies. The dinner was for 200 people so the vegetable prep was going to be a big job! We began peeling; cleaning and tidying baby carrots, baby beetroot, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, fennel and cucumber. Then, over the next couple of days, we hit the Salamanca and Melville street markets for potatoes, broad beans, radishes and shallots. We also managed to forage nasturtium flowers and tat soi leaves.

We had also arranged for Hans and Ester at Tongola Goat Products to sponsor a few kilograms of their new season’s spring goat’s curd (preferring to showcase Tasmanian products over the Meredith’s), which we marinated in Ashbolt extra virgin olive oil.

John Zito at Nuthatch had agreed to sponsor a couple of kilograms of his hazel nuts grown in the Huon Valley. We toasted these at 140°C for 40 minutes on the Monday morning before the function itself. It was then just a matter of skinning and crushing them by hand.

Marcus, our apprentice had also agreed to give up his Monday off to help out - with the bonus of working in the same kitchen as Tetsuya - so we headed down to the Convention Centre, with all our little vegetables safely in cryovac bags, at around midday to make a start.

Our Mise en Place 

I had been down to the Convention Centre kitchen a couple of months before to meet Exec Chef Will Godwin and have a look through the kitchen to give me a better idea of what was possible to produce out of there. At the time I thought the kitchen was a vast construction, with loads of bench space and a bank of ovens and stoves. This time, walking in to the kitchen that was already housing four of Tetsuya’s gun chefs from Sydney and all their ingredients and special equipment, it looked a lot smaller.

Since about half the components to the dish are either cold or raw, we had the opportunity to pre-plate a few things on plate stackers to make sure service was as speedy as possible (thank you to the Henry Jones Art Hotel for lending us a stacker). We got fennel, tomatoes, cucumber, goat’s curd, radish, hazelnuts and tat soi on to the plates and gingerly wrapped the precarious looking stacks in cling film before wheeling them into the refrigerator.

Marcus plating the cold component of our dish

Half a plate stacker full

One of three stackers all wrapped in plastic ready to go

By this stage the other Tasmanian chefs and their various assistants had begun to arrive and unpack their things too. Space was looking hard to come by, particularly in the cool rooms.

By the time the all the guests had arrived and canapés were being served, we were already running an hour late, so we needed to be quick about it.

Will Godwin’s venison pies, confit duck spring rolls, scallops with béarnaise and truffle polenta with pimento and brie went out to the hungry guests under the watchful eye of Tetsuya’s Service Manager Michael Dore. Wines to go with this course were 2005 Jansz Tasmanian Premium Vintage Cuvee, 2006 Meadowbank Mardi Sparkling and 2010 Holm Oak Pinot Gris.

Tetsuya’s marinated Tasmanian crayfish with avocado and avruga caviar was the first plated dish. All 14 chefs began laying out small bowl plates and then filling them with a ladle of creamy chilled avocado soup, a stack of salad made from croutons and finely-diced peppers of different colours before being topped with a large spoonful of chopped raw dressed crayfish and oily avruga caviar vinaigrette. A beautiful dish that was carried out promptly amidst the constant barking of instructions from the ever watchful and impossibly well-poised Mr Rowe. Matched to 2009 Spring Vale Reserve Chardonnay and 2005 Frogmore Reserve Chardonnay.

Bowls laid out for the crayfish dish 

Next was our dish. Marcus and I wheeled the stacks of plates out into the warm kitchen to take the chill off them and began heating sugar snap peas, potatoes, carrots, baby beetroot and broad beans. When plates started to leave the kitchen they went out fast, perhaps too many chefs means many hands make light work with everyone having only one item to add to each plate before being topped by a nasturtium petal and a brilliant blue rosemary flower given to us by the Monty’s team. The dish looked great with its vibrant colours and essence of spring. Matched to 2008 Bream Creek Riesling and 2008 Pooley Riesling.

 Plating our salad. Paul, Tess (Monty's), Cam (Marque IV), Brandon (Peppermint Bay), Luke, Stu, Kevin, Sam (all from Tetsuya's), Matt, Fiona, Will, Marcus and me all hard at work

Our finished dish

Next came Matt from Monty’s on Montpellier. A stylish-looking dish of quail Kiev with pinot noir honey roquette oil and Ferron risotto. The quail breast had been filled with fragrant parsley butter and crumbed in the Monty’s kitchen before being fried golden-brown and perched on top of a tall cylinder of risotto wrapped in pancetta and a perfect line of thick red wine syrup. Along side 2007 Tamar Ridge Kayena Reserve Pinot Noir and 2007 Frogmore Creek Pinot Noir.

Tetsuya followed with his second dish. Braised Cape Grim short rib with ox tail and sea cucumber. His chefs now working like a military SWAT team produced risotto studded with brilliant green asparagus slices, soft ox tail meat, slippery sea cucumber, beef jus and fresh parsley. The meat had been cooked sous vide so it was still pink but very tender. It looked and tasted great. Guests were served 2008 Holm Oak Cabernet and 2008 Velo Reserve Shiraz to go with this dish.

Paul Foreman was next with the first of the sweet courses. A line of chocolate was applied to the plate with a tiny paint roller. It was then topped with pecan crumble, salted caramel sauce, a candied cumquat and a pillowy soft poppy seed, cumquat and white chocolate double baked soufflé. We all thought it was very brave to attempt something so temperamental but it worked out flawlessly. Lastly for the wine matching was the 2007 Tamar Ridge Botrytis Riesling.

At this stage, (now two hours late) it was time for us all to head out into the dining room to take a bow. It was revealed that the dinner had raised $180,000 dollars! And we were presented with limited edition prints of devils for our efforts. It was then that the last course arrived from Aaron Gillespie from Big Bikkies in Launceston: Petite fours that he had titled “Devil’s Pleasure”.

Everyone on stage 

Aaron putting the final touches on his dish

Aaron had been slaving away by himself in another small room within the complex for the last 10 or so hours to get everything finished. The plates themselves were white chocolate with a devil sketched (using dark chocolate) in the center of each. There were various macarons, chocolate tortellini, chocolate and chilli teardrops, apple teacake, white chocolate lotus flowers, and a little edible rice paper pinwheel. A wonderful display of skill and creativity.

We headed back into the kitchen to have a celebratory glass of wine while Marcus and I returned the things we had borrowed to the Henry Jones and headed back to work to clean and pack away all our tools with just enough time for it to be worth heading home before we needed to be back at work to start our normal week.

A huge congratulations to all those involved. It was a great night and an awesome result for the Devils. See you all again next year!