Whoops! I hadn’t intended to let a whole year pass between blog posts.
In my defense – last year I was nearly 6 months pregnant, and in October gave birth to a gorgeous little boy. So, understandably, many things have taken a back seat.
However, it’s officially my 10 year blog anniversary, so I couldn’t let the occasion pass! Just like last year, I haven’t been organised enough to make a cake, so instead I have a savoury cauliflower cake instead.
It’s my 9th blog birthday (9!!), and unfortunately this year I haven’t been organised enough to bake a cake. Instead, I’m pulling something semi cake related out of my drafts – I’m ashamed to tell you how long this post has been lingering in there, so let’s just move on!
As I’m sure you’re all aware – because wow was there a lot of (justified) fanfare and excitement – last year the Fat Duck was in Melbourne for several months while its premises in Bray were being renovated.
(Side note: here I’m going to drop a link to my post about our visit to Fat Duck in Bray – look at those terrible photos though!)
But the Fat Duck couldn’t stay in Melbourne forever, and once it moved back to Bray, the space it occupied was changed into Dinner by Heston, a more casual, relaxed eatery. Unlike the Fat Duck, Dinner is ala carte, and serves dishes that are modern interpretations of historic British food.
Alastair and I had lunch there at the beginning of the year with the regulareatingcrew (yes, we had lunch at dinner).
There’s about eight starters on the menu, so we picked the six that seemed the most interesting and shared them. You should’ve seen us rotating these dishes around the table. Nerds.
The meat fruit is probably Dinner’s most famous dish, and while it looked like a mandarin, inside was a very rich and smooth parfait. This is definitely one to share, because while delicious, it was rich.
Roast Marrowbone (c.1720) – Snails, parsley, anchovy, mace & pickled vegetables – $36
(1720 The Cook’s and Confectioner’s Dictionary by John Nott)
Rice & Flesh (c.1390) – Saffron, curried kangaroo tail, red wine & amaranth – $38
(1390 The Forme of Cury the Master Cooks of King Richard II)
This was basically like a super risotto ramped up with flavour.
Savoury Porridge (c.1660) Garlic & parsley butter, grilled abalone, picked beetroot & fennel – $36
(1660 The Whole Body of Cookery Dissected by William Rahisha)
Frumenty (c.1390) – Grilled octopus, spelt, pickled red moss, chervil emulsion & smoked sea broth – $38
(1390 The Forme of Cury the Master Cooks of King Richard II)
Marron & Cucumber soup (c.1730) – Cured prawn & roast cucumber salad, golden trout roe, sorrel & grilled onion – $40
(1730 The Complete Practical Cook by Charles Carter)
The marron and cucumber soup was my favourite dish – so refreshing and flavoursome at the same time.
After looking at the mains, we decided it would be too hard to share them so choose one each. Alastair and I had the pork belly and the lamb. The other mains were also mostly protein heavy: duck, fish, chicken, and three steak options.
Slow cooked Pork Belly (c.1820) – Spelt, lardo, baby turnip & Robert sauce – $56
(1820 based on Careme’s residency in London)
Lamb & Cucumber (c.1830) – best end of lamb with with roast cucumber heart, sweetbreads, peas, barilla & mint – $56
(1830 The Cook and Housewife’s Manual by Mistress Meg Dodds)
Hard to say which was better – they were both perfectly cooked. Maybe the lamb – I loved the sweetbreads that came with it, but not the peas (surprise surprise).
I did feel that they were quite conventional in comparison to the starters though.
Tipsy Cake (c.1830) – spit roast pineapple – $30
(1810 the English cookery book by J.H. Walsh)
Dessert was another sharing occasion. When we ordered our mains, we also ordered two Tipsy cakes as they take a while to make. We should’ve ordered three! The Tipsy Cake was sweet brioche with a caramelised cream, served with spit roasted pineapple.
It was pretty amazing and much more special and decadent than it sounds.
Cheese Board – large – $30
We also shared a cheese board, because two Tipsy cakes was more than enough sugar for us.
And there was a little sweet treat to finish our lunch.
As expected, the food at Dinner was really, really good.
Of course, being a completely different concept and restaurant, it’s nowhere near the crazy inventiveness of Fat Duck, though some of that did seem to seep into the entrees, which are dishes you wouldn’t see anywhere else in Melbourne.
Definitely worth a splurge for a special lunch (or for when your friends casually suggest having lunch at dinner).
Dinner by Heston
Level 3, 8 Whiteman Street
Phone: 03 9292 5777
Moving on from Salta, our next stop was Cafayate, a small wine town about 189 kilometres southish of Salta. It’s not that far away distance-wise, but the drive took a good 9-10 hours, partly because we took a roundabout route through a small town called Cachi, made lots of stops (lots of amazing scenery!), and 80% of the road from Cachi to Cafayate was unpaved.
You know how they say you should always say yes to an opportunity?
Well, on a smaller scale, you should also always say yes to “do you want to come to xx restaurant?” because even if you don’t know what on earth your friend is talking about, you’ll probably still have a good time.
Yes, that’s how we ended up at Amaru with Haz, Gaz and Thanh, several days after the restaurant opened. It took me a while after agreeing to lunch to join the dots – Amaru is the first restaurant of Clinton McIver, who had a stint serving degustations at the Clayton Bowls Club (and who also worked at Vue de Monde).
Following on from my Salta post, the morning after our free day in the city, a private driver/guide picked us up early in the morning to take a trip to the Humahuaca Valley, taking in the small town of Purmamarca and the Salinas Grandes salt flats.
Above well known pub Duke of Wellington sits Dutchess, a stylish, glamorous restaurant decked out with white leather booths and comfy grey chairs surrounding round wooden tables, that’s meant to summon up thoughts of trendy New York lounge bars.
With Antarctica off the cards, instead of going home or staying in Buenos Aires (while a great city, I don’t think we could’ve spent two full weeks there), we had to decide what we were going to do instead.
Our travel agent was very helpful – they had an office in Buenos Aires, so we dropped in for a chat – and less than an hour later we had an alternative itinerary for the rest of our time in Argentina, with our first stop being Salta.
Now if you’re anything like me, the words “interactive dinner” are a bit off putting (and weird and maybe scary – hey I just want to be served dinner, I don’t want to have to work for it) but! the evening was a lot of fun and *exactly* what we needed to take our minds off the fact that – 8 hours before we were due to fly to Ushuaia – the flights website we’d used *still* hadn’t confirmed that the Ushuaia leg was indeed cancelled (and therefore didn’t affect our flight back to Australia if we didn’t show up). No stress indeed.