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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Campari House: a toast to Campari House roasts

As part of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival June roast dinner series, the Boys and I headed to Campari House with Maria and Daz, where we were treated to five grazing courses accompanied by five wines.

Campari House

When we arrived, all the glasses had been lined up on the table, and we were advised that all the wines would be poured at once. This was so we could taste each one with the different courses and make our own mind up about the wine and food matching. Which was a great idea, with the only problem being that it was a school night... and the wine pours were VERY generous and our glasses were topped up whenever they were nearing empty.

The five wines were:

Blue Pyrenees NV Brut, Blue Pyrenees Savignon Blanc 2009, Sticks Chardonnay 2009, Red Claw Pinot Noir 2008, and Campbells Bobbie Burns Shiraz 2008.

I’m not hugely knowledgeable about wines so I won’t talk about them – except to say that the more I drank, the more I enjoyed them. Isn’t that always the way? Hah.

Campari House

Our first course was a braised black trevally on wild mushroom rissoni and pistachio dust. I don’t remember tasting the pistachio dust, but I can tell you that the rissoni was AMAZING. It was indulgently buttery, strongly mushroom flavoured and cooked just right. The fish was also very good, with a crispy skin, but this dish was all about the rissoni.

Campari House

Next up was a rabbit ballontine, with caramelised pearl onion and game jus. The jus was made with rabbit and quail (bones, I’m assuming) and the rabbit had been boned, stuffed and then rolled up into a bundle. Around the outside of the rabbit was bacon – mhmmm bacon.

Campari House

The third course was a cauliflower gratin with truffled white polenta. At first glance and first taste, this was a simple dish and not terribly impressive. The cauliflower was covered in a cheese sauce, and initially we couldn't find any polenta because of all the sauce. But when we dug to the bottom, we found the polenta – and lordy the polenta was fantastic. Cheesy and grainy (but in a good way), and really really moreish. We all gave up on the forks and started scraping out as much polenta as possible with our knives (classy, I know). At least we didn’t lick the plates, though I was tempted.

Campari House

And for the last savoury course, there was a slow roasted mustard beef with sticky winter mushrooms. As you can see, The beef was served quite rare with a hint of mustard and the sweetish mushrooms were hidden underneath the beef. It was a nice dish without being a stand out.

Campari House

Dessert was a chilled strawberry soup with basil foam and a shortbread straw. It sounds odd, but it tasted great and I think Maria will be trying to replicate this one! It would be a perfect summer dessert – it was very sweet and fragrant with the flavour of strawberries and a touch of basil. Sadly the shortbread straw wasn't a proper straw though it was nice and buttery.

I really enjoyed the evening at Campari house, and it wasn't due to all the wine! I was impressed with the food, with the standout dishes being the polenta and the risoni, followed by the strawberry soup. We spent the night on the ground floor, but I believe there's several levels, including a roof top bar which I'm sure would be great in the summer. Judging from what we ate, there's some good food coming from the kitchen at Campari House, and it's definitely worth another visit.

Campari House
23-25 Hardware Lane
Phone: 03 9600 1574

Campari House on Urbanspoon

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