Disclosure: I dined courtesy of Nuevo 37 / Hilton Melbourne.
Last week, on a day when an eerie fog crept over Melbourne in the late afternoon, I was down at South Wharf looking for Nuevo 37. You may be wondering where on earth South Wharf is – and honestly, if I hadn’t whipped out maps on my phone, I’d probably have been lost in the fog.
South Wharf is on the southern bank of the Yarra River – down past the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre – a new suburb with a hotel, convention centre and DFO that I swear popped up overnight. Perhaps it took a bit longer than overnight, but I remember heading down that way once and feeling that it had suddenly materialised when I hadn’t been looking.
After taking some pictures of the fog, I took my chilled self into Nuevo 37. Part of the new Hilton hotel in South Wharf, Nuevo 37 is a pretty, pretty restaurant with super high ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, mood lighting and lots and lots of wood. Myself and a small group of other bloggers (Thanh, Penny, Adrian and Michele) were invited to try out their winter truffle menu, with truffles from Tamar Valley Truffles. The grower, John Baily, had also flown up from Tasmania to be a part of the dinner.
We started off in the cold kitchen, where John told us a bit about his truffles and how they’re grown and harvested – though naturally not giving away any trade secrets! We looked at bad, rotten truffles and then he pulled out some good ones for us to look at. They smelt amazing and the whole kitchen was filled with that distinctive aroma.
After looking at and smelling the truffles, it was time for some food. Executive Chef Philippe Perrey started us off with a pancetta “cannelloni” – basically pancetta rolled around rocket, to which he sprinkled on some sugar and caramelised it with a blow torch.
This was served on top of truffle yoghurt, with fresh black truffles shaved over before eating.
It was interesting – he hadn’t given it any additional seasoning as the pancetta is naturally salty, so there was the contrast of the sweetness from the sugar against the saltiness of the pancetta. I didn’t think that the flavour of the truffle came through very well, and I wasn’t sure if that was because of my unsophiscated palate. Later on in the evening, we talked about how truffle needs fat to carry the flavour, so perhaps I didn’t eat enough fat with the truffle. (Still not discounting my unsophiscated palate tho!)
We then moved into the main dining area, where we tried truffled Jerusalem artichoke soup and a piece of Moreton Bay Bug with root vegetables. Normally the Jerusalem artichoke is a sauce, but the night we were there it was served as a soup. I think it worked really well as a soup, it was really silky and rich.
Next was tagliatelle with creamy truffle sauce. Simple, but so delicious, this was my favourite dish of the night. The pasta was perfectly cooked, and sauce had so much flavour – really earthy but creamy. I didn’t want it to end!
After the best pasta in the world ever, we had a Wagyu beef cheek that had been marinated in tempranillo for 24 hours and then cooked low and slow for another 4-5 hours. After cooking, the meat was rolled together like a sausage and over a day, the gelatin in the meat glued it together so it could be cut into neat rounds. It was served with forked chickpeas and kale, a bit of dark chocolate, and some almond, hazelnut dust that also contained cacao nibs, sea salt and peppercorns. The meat was very tender and sticky – really intense with savoury richness.
To finish, we had a simple vanilla bean ice cream with truffle shaved over it. The ice cream was full with seeds from Tahitian vanilla beans, and was so aromatic. We were told to bite down a bit on the ice cream so we would get the crunch from the seeds. There was also a little sprinkle of sea salt crystals to give a salty burst.
During dinner we talked about the hype and mystique of truffles. About how your first taste of fresh truffles may not capture you, but eventually it builds and then the more you have them, the more you love them. I think there’s something in that… I haven’t had truffles often, but now I definitely want more.
Want to eat this too? Nuevo 37 are offering these dishes as part of a special truffle menu this winter until the end of truffle season. You can order the courses individually or opt for a degustation with matched wines. (Note, serves will be a bit larger as we had a tasting version.)
Thanks to Chef Perrey for a fantastic dinner, to John Baily for passing on some of the truffle mystique, and to Samantha and Emma for their company during dinner. I had a great night, but I’m now suffering from an unfortunate side effect of wanting truffle on all my pasta and ice cream.
For more on Nuevo 37, check out the following blogs:
[googleMap name="Nuevo 37" width="600" height="300" directions_to="false"]2 Convention Centre Place, South Wharf, Melbourne VIC Australia[/googleMap]
2 Convention Centre Place
Phone: 9027 2000