Friday, 8 January 2010

Piccalilly 2010

(Pictured above - the vegetable salad with Meredith's marinated fetta)

Piccalilly was the dining venue for last night for Rita and BF (=best friend) – and what a fine dining experience it was.

I am totally cognisant of the fact that thousands before me have raved about the food here, both verbally and written – so my immediate problem is how to talk to you about the food when so many have already done so, far more eloquently than I ever could.

Let me set the scene: peaceful and serene atmosphere when we arrived (ie no other diners); Elysia chatted to us in an unhurried fashion, thus adding to the serenity; starched linen tablecloths and napkins; smear-free polished glasses; elegance and dignity personified.

We decided on the degustation – 8 courses – in order that we might sample as extensive a cross-section of Iain’s food as we could. It was also explained that there would be two additional complimentary courses thrown in, making it a total of 10 courses we were about to embark on! OMG, thought Rita to herself! But it was OK - at the end, as I commented to BF, it was amazing that neither of us felt at all stuffed or bloated after the 10 courses.

The dego price is $240 for two – so not a cheap meal for those who dine out on tales of the value for money for their chicken parmy’s at the Cascade pub! But excellent value (and actually cheap at the price) for what we subsequently received.

BF ordered a ($40) bottle of 2006 Turners Crossing Shiraz Viognier (for her own consumption) which she said was excellent. She sat on this all night, and I think had pretty well finished off the bottle when we left – lucky for her Rita had picked her up before dinner, and was delivering her back to her front door afterwards!

We also had some sourdough and ciabatta bread with both Lescure butter and Ashbolts virgin olive oil. Let me just pause here for a minute and talk about the butter and oil. I have never been a ‘bread with the meal’ person. This was never a habit at home in my childhood, and I have never seen any reason to add bread to an order I made in a restaurant. In the past, if it ever was bought to the table, gratis, it was usually cleared back at the end of the meal, untouched. Hence it was with the greatest of surprise to me last night when just out of interest (and because I trusted that anything placed on our table at Piccalilly would be there for the flavours – and I was right!) I broke off a tiny bit of bread, buttered it then tried it, then ditto with the oil, to find a world of difference in the flavours of both butter and oil! I have never in all my life experienced what you wine drinkers talk about, with hints, and notes, of this and that flavour which you claim to be able to taste in a single sip of wine – like blackcurrant or honey or a sunny left bank!

In the oil, I could taste a definite peppery note – it was GORGEOUS! Then the butter had a totally different flavour to my usual Duck River. WOW! I’m now a convert, and happy to attend an oil tasting any time!

And so the meal began…..first plate out was a rabbit rillette with apricot chutney. It was a tiny serving, with the rillette being roughly the size and thickness of one of those large, gold-foil-covered chocolate coins, with the accompanying chutney being a mere drizzle of chutney – but beautiful. You only needed one mouthful to taste how beautiful it was.

Following this came:
Yellowtail kingfish served raw with pickled white radish and citrus soy juice
Vegetable salad with Merediths marinated fetta
Market fish (today’s was spikey dory) with basil and vegetable broth
Seared chicken breast with legumes and lemon milk
House made fizzy raspberry syrup (in place of a sorbet)
Wessex saddleback pork shoulder mornay with egg yolk pasta and sweet corn puree
Dry-aged Longford eye fillet with mushroom and leek pithvier and piccalilli
Dark chocolate ice cream, pear and parmesan salad and mint jelly
Fresh berries with white balsamic and black cherry sorbet

I know I’ve raved about one previous venue I’ve eaten at, explaining that I didn’t want to participate in the table conversation but merely to eat the fabulous food (eyes closed for deep concentration purposes) and a desire for everyone dining in the restaurant to shut up and do the same so they could likewise work on the sensations of eating such food instead of using the food as a background to their social occasion! That’s how I felt at Piccalilly. This place is a shrine to food flavours, in the purest sense. Iain, chef/owner, is the god, ably abetted by Elysia as his handmaiden. She performs all tasks associated with making her guests feel as at home, comfortable and solicitously looked after, as is humanly possible. Iain is the absolute master at what he sets out to achieve. For someone so relatively young, his food is absolutely heavenly, stunning. Together I suspect they achieve what I would predict as the unachievable – making a room full of diners totally happy.

I honestly would sell each separate item of food in every course we ate over the course of our meal so short if I begin to start to describe the sensations of savouring every mouthful as I slowly and lingeringly put each mouthful into my mouth.

Iain came out of the kitchen just before we left to check on how we had gone with the meal, asking what the favourite was. BF’s was the eye fillet; mine was the market fish, but it was hard to decide on a specific fave.

Please just take it from me that I found every single mouthful of food I ate at Piccalilly ecstasy.

Not wanting to be a wanky foody snob, but I implore you, if you are anyone who genuinely cares for and about food, you need to go to Piccalilly and eat – at least once, but at a minimum every 6 months. When you go there, I need you to have cleansed your mind of everything; forget about cost; throw all cares to the wind and go there open-minded. Experience, unfettered, the pure joys of eating food which will transport you to gastronomic heaven.

To Iain and Elysia – my eternal gratitude for setting the standard for Gen Y hospitality staff in Hobart. You excel in everything you do at Piccalilly – and I genuinely am in total awe of such passion, skill, talent, enthusiasm and professionalism combined with down-to-earth normality. Go forth and conquer (life)!
Posted on by Rita


lemon curd said...

How good is the pork shoulder mornay... mmmmm
Did you get fruit tubes as an intermediate???

ut si said...

Hear hear!