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It’s pretty cool when “going to school” consists of making espresso coffees, doing your assignments at the Queen Victoria Market and having a class called Beverage Knowledge last thing on a Friday afternoon. Even cooler is when your school gives you the chance to eat a three course meal in its best restaurant with six accompanying wines for $20. Thats what the William Angliss class of 1X did today at 12 o’clock and the event was a resounding success – so much so that it made one male student, who previously didn’t care for wines, rave about the beverages and declare on his Facebook page shortly after the event: “Best class ever, now a wine lover”. Our teachers couldn’t have asked for a better result.
We arrived at our school’s flagship venue, the Angliss Restaurant, and the wine started flowing immediately.
(Note: I have included the prices listed on the menu here to show what the general public would pay. This was a special $20 event for our class, but William Angliss students also normally receive a 25% discount off their food bill.)
Tasting the wines by themselves, I far preferred the riesling over the chardonnay. It was nice and dry and very easy to drink; it tasted great on its own. With the dishes however, the chardonnay proved to be the winner.
Hot and sour tamarind broth with prawn dumplings, Asian mushrooms and tatsoi, $7
The flavour of the broth was good, quite strong with lots of contrasting flavours from the herbs and the seafood, although there was a strange, lingering flavour that was particularly noticeable in the dumplings. It reminded me of the way a slightly old, soggy-textured prawn tastes; that odd flavour that prawns take on when they start to lose their freshness. Still, I enjoyed the dish, and it was fantastic with the chardonnay.
Ballotine of ocean trout wrapped in gravalax, served with a petit herb and granny smith apple salad and a cider beurre blanc, $7
I was lucky enough to be sitting next to a classmate who didn’t enjoy this dish, so I got to eat the scraps. It was fantastic; the two different fishes were light and so fresh, although there was not much contrast between the two, something I would think you tend to aim for in “wrapped” dishes; e.g. roast chicken wrapped in prosciutto. I didn’t get to try the salad, but the sauce was fantastic with the fish.
Asian style pork belly, seared calamari, Asian herb salad, yellow bean dressing, $7
This dish was being eaten over the other side of the table and I didn’t get a chance to try it; however I heard my classmate mention that he felt he picked good dishes from the menu so I assume he enjoyed this.
Risotto with duck confit and chorizo ragout and parmesan wafer, $7
I only had a spoonful of this dish, and didn’t get any duck or ragout, the two strong, main flavours of the dish. My spoon was full of creamy risotto which was nice enough but I’m sure it would have been much more enjoyable with the meat and the sauce. It was presented well though; the parmesan wafer was a nice touch and differentiated it from a regular bowl of risotto.
Next came the reds: a Bay of Apostles Pinot Noir 2008 (right) and the Ladbroke Grove Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 (left). I had already found my wine match for my first dish and I had seafood coming for mains, so a red probably wasn’t going to be the best match for my meals, but they were interesting wines to try. One classmate reacted quite strongly to the pinot, suggesting it tasted musty and like soil. The cab sav was quite nice, although whilst we weren’t eating I tended to stick to my riesling.
Pan fried blue eye with rocket aioli, Sicilian salad, asparagus and kipflers, $12
Overall, a very good dish. A huge piece of fish for the price. The flavours were fantastic, especially the aioil; so creamy and garlicky, and the addition of rocket made it so much more interesting. It’s a sauce I want to make at home. The fish tasted great, but in parts it was a little tough. The salad was excellent, the hero being the pinenuts, and the asparagus was a vibrant green, cooked perfectly. The potatoes were a welcome addition but were by no means stand outs. Overall, a fresh, well-balanced dish that left me wanting more after I had finished.
Slow cooked Navarin of lamb, celeriac puree, lemon and cinnamon jus.
This dish was described by a classmate as “not very special”. Indeed, it was quite bland and some didn’t finish the dish. The piece of meat that I had was hard to cut into, as if it was mostly tough or fatty. This could be because I had the scraps of someone else’s meal, however I just found it to be pretty boring. I know there were some, however, who enjoyed it.
Roasted breast of chicken with potato fondant, garlic and shallots, sauce Madeira, $12
The cabbage was an unexpected addition to this dish and I can’t say it added much to it, however the chicken itself was soft and tender, had a melt-in-your-mouth texture and paired well with the fondant and big cloves of aromatic roast garlic.
Morris liqueur muscat 2003 (left); Catalina Ridge Botrytis Chardonnay 2008 (right).
YUM. Just about the entire table agreed that these were fabulous. On their own, I enjoyed both wine equally, but the perfect match for the dessert I chose, the artist’s palette, was the botrytis chardonnay.
An artist’s palette – coconut panna cotta, gingerbread wafers, citrus salad, passionfruit tea, $7
I’m not normally a big panna cotta fan – although remember that when it comes to dessert I’m not a big fan of anything, not much of a sweet tooth here – but the coconut gave it a lovely, interesting flavour. The wafers were also great and were a delicious paring for the rich chocolate sauce that covered the centre of my plate, and the passionfruit tea had subtle, delicate flavours. The citrus salad: it was nice, but nothing outstanding. I love the fruits used but it was not particularly innovative. Still, if it’s purpose was to be a palate cleanser, it did the job well.
Warm hazelnut financier with hazelnut praline parfait, caramelized banana, orange syrup, $7
Another dish from the other side of the table. Here, I fail as a food blogger as I did not take the photo nor do I know much more about the taste of this dish other than “it’s good”.
Bitter chocolate pave, raspberry sorbet, chocolate syrup, $7
I think I must have a high tolerance for flavour in general. When I have laksa, I want lots of chili; on my sushi I want lots of wasabi. My fellow classmates who ordered this dish were describing the flavours to me: “The chocolate is so bitter! The sorbet is so sour!!“. They went as far as to describe it as similar to, “being hit in the face with a big berry”, so when I went to taste it I expected my lips to pucker and my mouth to salivate. Nope. I tasted the sorbet and I would agree that the berries used to make it would have been slightly sour to begin with, but on the whole it was a pretty regular (and enjoyable) sorbet. Maybe all those years of chili have burnt off my taste buds.
The point of this lunch was to educate us about food and wine matching; to complement our studies in our Food Knowledge, Operate a Bar and Beverage Knowledge classes. It achieved its aim, it converted some non-wine drinkers, and it made our class realise the value and quality of some of the food served at our school. We’re already planning our next visit.