|Chef Serge Vieira 8 Course Degustation|
What is Cuisine NOW ? As stated on their website, it's "a food festival to showcase the development of contemporary cuisine over the past 30 years".
This would be the 2nd year that this annual food festival is held, all thanks to Tony Bilson to have such an excellent idea to gather well renowned chefs from not only Australia but from France as well.
Names such as Tetsuya Wakuda (Tetsuya's), Brent Savage (Bentley Restaurant & Bar), Shannon Bennett (Vue de Monde) and of course Tony Bilson (Bilson's) are no stranger to our ears. From France, he has invited Jean-Luc Rocha (Chateau Cordeillan Bages) and Serge Vieira ( Restaurant Serge Vieiera).
|Bilson's Dining Room|
"Chefs in The Dining Room" is one of the event held during the festival where the 2 international guest chefs have the opportunity to showcase their gastronomy skills. The event is held at Bilson's Restaurant and is split into 2 weeks - Chef Vieira reign the kitchen one week and Chef Rocha the other.
There were available as 5 course or 8 course degustation over lunch or dinner from 11th - 22nd January 2011.
Since I've got the member discount offer from the Entertainment Book (yay!), I booked us in for 8 course degustation dinner by Serge Vieira.
I'm very excited on what we will be having that night because his restaurant has been awarded the prestigious Michelin Star within just 6 months after opening ! Restaurant Serge Vieira was awarded One Michelin Star in March 2010 :)
|Complimentary Moët & Chandon ; Bilson's Plate|
Once we were seated and our drinks order were taken (a.k.a. sparkling water LOL), we were served complimentary flutes of Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2000.
Proud to report that for once I finished the whole flute without getting allergic reaction the next morning *woohooo!!*
The trick was to drink it over a period of 3 hours and plenty of water in between - yes....the champagne was warm by the time I had the last drop...
|Clean and Crisp Table Settings|
Duck & Ginger
As amuse-bouche, we had cured duck breast, topped with thinly sliced ginger, carrot and served with tomato oil in these fancy spoons.The duck breast was tender and the tomato oil had a very crisp tomato flavour.
I must say that I was expecting a classical French flavours from Chef Vieira, so it was a pleasant surprise to see that he used Asian flavours in some of his dishes tonight .
|Mise en Bouche|
Tomato Ravioli ; Wagyu Roll ; Potato Croquette
They were like savoury petit fours that is served at the beginning instead of the end of a meal.
The cutest trio on a plate :D
The UFO shaped one on the left is tomato ravioli, the clear tomato jelly acting as the "ravioli", encased inside the clear hat were blue swimmer crab mousse, then underneath was a slice of cherry tomato resting on top of a crisp puff pastry. A very nice combination of texture and flavours, light and refreshing.
|Celeriac Remoulade Wrapped in Wagyu Loin|
Wrapped inside the tender aged Wagyu rump slice was celeriac remoulade, crunchy finely julienned celeriac mixed with creamy mayonnaisse.
The Potato Croquette was like potato 3 ways : inside the crispy potato shell was creamy potato salad, topped with this fluffy and crisp baked mash potato ( you now those frozen potato Pom Poms ? That kind of texture :D).
The bread was then served after the plate of mise en bouche was cleared, which was a tad strange that the bread was only served now ?
Not complaining though as the baguette was delicious, the dangerous thing was that they would place another one on your plate as soon as they saw you took the last bit.
Learned my lesson so I ate the second one slow...ly....
|Homage to the Great Barrier Reef|
Roast Gambas, Oysters, Vongole, Mussels, Abalone & Razor Clams
under the"sea" - a fine film of Citron Jelly
As the name suggested, this next dish was inspired by what the chef's saw on his visit to The Great Barrier Reef .
The presentation was simply breathtaking - the vibrant colours of the seafoods and flowers, the clear film of citron jelly, the peppermint foam and the very thinly sliced cauliflower to replicate the corals on the reef.
Too pretty to eat *sigh* - took us a while before tucking in...too pretty......
|See the clear "sea" ?|
The sauce was made of fish stock and butter emulsion, there were also fennel and black olive puree beneath all the seafoods.
The ones that stand out would have to be the sweet roasted prawn and the lightly battered tempura abalone. You can really taste and smell the sea on this plate, the combination of different flavours and textures just worked so well together.
This was the one dish that tasted as amazing as it looked.
|One more shot - just because it's so pretty ^_^|
|Crayfish, Coconut, Beetroot|
Butter Roasted Marron Lobster, Varietal Beetroots & Crayfish Ravioli with Coconut Milk Pasta
The ravioli pasta was made with coconut milk and filled with marron lobster meat and topped with coconut and carrot crudité. It tasted like Thai curry but its also Italian but also French ? A multicultural ravioli indeed :)
In the centre of the plate we had butter roasted marron tail resting on a strip of crushed tomatoes.
The marron was done perfectly, still have a bite to it and retains its natural sweetness. The butter sauce though creamy didn't overpower the delicate flavour of the crayfish.
|Psychadelic Beetroot ; Crayfish Ravioli|
On the side we have a salad of mixed beetroots with avocado and sugar snap peas.
There were the normal dark purple ones, yellow, white and one psychadelic swirly beetroot ! Now why can't I find these fancy beetroots in vegie shops ??
|John Dory, Thyme, Lemon|
John Dory, Kohlrabi dressed with Thyme & Lemon Grass
The roasted John Dory was cooked to perfection and served on top of a very creamy and delicious fennel veloute.
Topped with a crisp and refreshing salad of kohlrabi (German turnip) and almond that burst with flavour of thyme every now and then.
On the side was a strip of crushed herbed potato and a dollop of tangy lemongrass creme that just add that extra zing to the dish.
Rosé Lamb Saddle w/ Braised Lamb Belly Croquet & King Oyster Mushroom
(Lamb !!! Please don't have a strong smell, please......>___<; )
The lamb was prepared 3 ways : braised lamb belly in the centre with lamb jus and seasoned with cracked black pepper and topped with baby leek , rare lamb saddle and last but not least the lamb belly croquette.
The lamb belly though tender had too strong flavour to me, the biggest piece on the plate and the one I struggled the most to eat LOL If you are a fan of lamb you would love it (my cousin sure did!).
|Lamb Belly Croquet ; Vegetable Brunoise|
The lamb belly croquette was tender and nicely crumbed, it was served with grilled king oyster mushrooms and mushroom duxelles underneath.
The rare lamb saddle was nice, it has the least lamb flavour of the three and though it looked rare, it was very tender and sweet. The dollop of onion puree was topped with a crispy paper thin lamb bacon accompanied by the perfectly diced and vibrant vegetable brunoise.
Cheese from Auvergne
Cantal, Blue d'Auvergne, Saint Nectaire, Fourme d'Ambert
(Blue Cheese *Arrghhh*)
All four cheeses were from the Auvergne province in South Central France and served with glacéd apricot and fig.
There were two different types of blue cheeses, since I just cannot eat them , this is what my cousin thought of them :
"Blue d'Auvergne - mild and slightly firm texture and the Fourme d'Ambert was just pungent and gooey".
The other 2 cheeses, I can eat (while trying not to breath in the blue's pungent aroma) - the Cantal was a firm cheese, sort of like cheddar and the Saint Nectaire was a washed rind cheese that had a mild flavour and a springy texture.
|Apricot, Wattle Seed|
Apricot Clafoutis, Apricot Cream, Cannelloni, Yoghurt & Wattle Seed Ice Cream
When I read "clafoutis" on the menu, I was expecting it to be served in a shallow baked dish as it would traditionally.
The apricot clafoutis was presented in a form of rectangular custard studded with apricot jelly, then topped with a layer or thin crispy caramelized sponge, a layer of pistachio cream, another layer of sponge and then an apricot cannelloni. The cannelloni was made from apricot "pasta" sheet and filled with cream.
On the sides we had the coffee like wattle seed ice cream and yoghurt mousse on nuts and apricot granola soil.
Finished off with a swirl of vanilla bean syrup and the pretty sugar bubble thins :)
There was a nice balance of sweet and sour in this dessert, the tartness of the apricot jelly and yoghurt mousse helped to set off the sweetness of the other components on the plate.
|Strawberry , Szechuan Pepper|
Strawberry & Rhubarb Tartlet w/ Szechuan Pepper & Honey Ice Cream
The second dessert of the night was a strawberry and rhubarb tart topped with the delicious frozen lime mousse disc ! It was like eating a frozen foam that just melts into air with lime zest flavour - it was probably the best part on the plate hehehehehe.
Topping the frozen disc was honey ice cream, plank of tuile, thin slices of dehydrated strawberries and a tiny dollop of pure mint puree on the side.
On the side we have a poached rhubarb, topped with a twirl of strawberry candy that tasted just like fresh strawberries !
There was this clear tube of jelly that I just couldn't pin point what the flavour was - it's lemon but not quite just lemon - lemon myrtle ?
|Strawberry & Rhubarb Tart ; Poached Rhubarb & Strawberry Candy|
We passed on having coffee or tea after the meals, but we can't turn away more sweets now, can we ?
Pistachio Financier , Cherry & Chocolate Macaron , Peach & Nectarine Pâte de Fruit
The plate of petit four to finish off tonight's meal consisted of 3 miniature sweets - the sweet and chewy pistachio financier topped with citrus brandy snap, a delicate cherry & chocolate macaron and the sweet peach & nectarine jelly.
|Pistachio Financier w/ Financier Créme & Citrus Brandy Snap|
What is the verdict on the meals prepared by Chef Serge Vieira ? I think I can see why his restaurant was awarded One Michelin Star after being opened for less than a year - his creations were simply amazing.
The presentation were impeccable and so were the flavours. There may be lots of different flavours going on on the one plate but they all just work.
I also love how he manage to incorporate the Asian flavours into the dishes whilst retaining their French presence :)
Cuisine NOW festival runs from 11th - 22nd January 2011, for more information on the events and bookings, check out their website at http://www.cuisinenow.com.au/