Campari House: She’ll be Apples

Things I’ve learnt: You’ve drank far too much cider when you start talking to strangers about chicken vaginas.

As part of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival winter roast series, Campari House again had a set dinner. You may remember that last year we went there for A Toast to Campari House roasts, where we had five courses matched with wine.

This year, Alastair, Bro and I roped in Maria and Daz again and headed to Campari House. This year’s dinner was based around apples and pork, with three savoury courses, one dessert and lots and lots of cider from Kelly Brothers.

Dinner was held on the second floor, and as soon as I walked it, I could smell cinnamon and cloves. It felt like Christmas! Tables in the room were communal, and our group were sharing a table with a group of other women. As soon as I was seated, I was given a glass of Champagne Cider (made using the traditional Methode Champenoise), which was fizzy and slightly sweet, with a hint of apple flavour at the end.

After a couple of cider champagne top ups, we then had two bottles of cider – one apple, and one pear, from Kelly Brothers in the Yarra Valley. One of the Kelly Brothers’ was there that night, and he went around to each table to talk about their cider, and how they produce it with traditional methods, even going so far as to hand cap each bottle. The apple cider was quite pleasant, with light apple notes and just right in terms of dryness for me. The pear cider (perry if you want to be accurate) was much sweeter, and this sounds strange but it had olive notes, that Maz told the brewer was “unpleasant”. (Boy, did he look a bit crushed when she told him that his cider was unpleasant!) Anyway, I quite liked it and even had another bottle, but it was much sweeter than the apple cider.

Our first bite to eat was a Hervey Bay roast scallop, served with cauliflower “cous cous”, black pudding soil, and with a cider reduction. We all gobbled it down quickly – it was tasty but small.

Next we had a ravioli filled with tender pork cheek that had been braised in cider for 8 hours. It was served with black cabbage, crispy pancetta, and a sour apple salad.

The main was a smoked and roasted sausage containing smocked pork hock, along with puy lentils with sherry vinegar.

After the main course, we had a little palate cleanser, containing apple and pear jelly on top of cider “snow” flavoured with amaretto, cardamom and cinnamon.

Prior to dessert, glasses of Campari House mulled cider were brought out. Steaming hot, it was apparent that the strong scent of cinnamon and clove in the room was due to the mulled cider. Very strong, and very sweet, the cider tasted like regret – one of those drinks that taste good at the time, but you know is going to give you regret the day after! A few sips of the mulled cider were pleasant, but it did get a bit too sweet and strong for me at the end.

Dessert was Campari’s chocolate fondant, actually more like a rich chocolate brownie, but very nice and not too sweet.

All in all, we had an enjoyable night, and my only criticism is that the food portions were a bit small. And we drank too much cider (though that is our fault for agreeing to more when asked if we wanted a top up). I blame too much cider for how we ended up talking to the strangers on our table about rubber chickens made out of napkins, which lead to talk about chicken vaginas. Yes, that is definitely a sign you’ve had far too much.

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

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