Church St Enoteca
527 Church St, Richmond VIC
(03) 9428 7898
Hubby and I have been meaning to go to Church St Enoteca for some time but never got around to it. I follow Church St Enoteca’s Executive Chef Ron O’Bryan on Twitter and from his tweets, it is obvious that he is passionate about food and using fresh produce at his restaurant.
The ‘Tour of the Obscure’ dinner was a chance to sample 6 wines of the more obscure grape varieties in Italy and the cuisine inspired by each region. The wines were selected first and Ron tasted the wines and researched ingredients typical of the region. He then constructed dishes using those ingredients to compliment the wine.
Upon arrival, there was sparkling wine waiting for us from Sorelle Bronca (a winery) called Prosecco di Valdobbiadene. Prosecco is an Italian wine, usually a dry sparkling, made from grapes of the same name. As we all settled into our tables ready for dinner, we were given a short introduction to the wine by Peter Lortz from Distillery Works and information about the food from Ron.
Hubby and I were seated at a table with fellow food bloggers and Tweeps, Tammi, Claire, Joyce and Mat. Meals with food bloggers are always fun, as nobody minds you taking photos of their food before they are allowed to eat!
At the table was some freshly baked crusty bread, served with olive oil and salt and pepper.
I’m no wine connoisseur so I’ll leave the wine tasting notes to the experts and comment on what I know best – the food! All courses, except the second course, were served ‘la famiglia’, which means that large plates are placed in the middle of the table for everyone to share.
The first course was a salad of shavings of prosciutto, raw artichoke, fennel and broad beans, topped with flaked almonds. I’m not usually a fan of fennel as I dislike the aniseed flavour, but this fennel was quite mild. The prosciutto was extremely fresh and all the elements of the salad came together as an excellent starting dish.
White wine: Toscana Bianco IGT 2007, Montauto, Toscana
The second course, the only dish to be served individually, was a rabbit, fennel and Italian sausage broth with two pieces of rabbit cappelletti (pasta). Rabbit is normally on my “no thanks” list, but as this dish was put in front of me, I had to at least try it. With my first mouthful, I realised I didn’t like rabbit because I have never had it cooked like this before! The pieces of the rabbit in broth were wonderfully soft and the rabbit cappelletti was delicious. The broth had a great depth of flavour and the Italian sausage was very tasty without being too salty.
White wine: Verdicchio di Matelica DOC 2008, Collestefano, Marche
The third course was the 12 hour pork belly and the course hubby was most looking forward to, as he has recently developed a pork belly obsession! The perfectly roasted pork belly was cut into cubes and was sitting on top of thinly sliced pickled turnip, served with an apple puree and a dark sauce. You could almost see everybody’s eyes roll into their head in delight when tasting this dish! The crackling was crunchy but chewy and the pork had the requisite melt in the mouth texture. The dark sauce was a well matched accompaniment to the pork. Ron explained the sauce was a reduction of orange juice, white wine, pork stock and veal stock flavoured with cinnamon and star anise.
Red wine: Refosco IGT 2007, Primosic, Friuli
The fourth course was twice cooked duck with cous cous. The cous cous had absorbed the sweet juices of the duck and sauce. I thought the sauce of the duck tasted similar to the pork sauce, but Ron said it was simply a reduction of duck and veal stocks with white wine. The breast piece I had was a bit dry, but hubby’s leg piece was good.
Red wine: Nero d’Avola IGT 2007, Gulfi, Sicilia
The fifth and final course was the dessert (dolci). It was a plate containing squares of lemon and olive oil cake, passionfruit marshmallow, shot glasses of blackberry jelly with macerated black and blueberries in Framboise liquer and white chocolate and rosemary torrone (nougat) with figs and pistachio. My favourite was the nougat with its chunks of figs and pistachio (hiding in the back of the photo below).
Dessert wine: Passito Bianco DOC 2006, La Cappuccina, Veneto
Hubby and I had a wonderful time at the dinner and the food was fantastic – the best dinner we have had in a while! Ron is only at Church St Enoteca until 23 December, before moving on to a new venture in St Kilda. He will be revamping a St Kilda icon and launching a new concept that focuses on local and seasonal produce with a focus on ethical and sustainable and organic/biodynamic and whole animals where possible. Hubby and I have made it a point to make it back to Church St Enoteca before the 23 December!
Rilsta and hubby dined at the ‘Tour of the Obscure’ dinner courtesy of Ron O’Bryan. Thanks Ron for the superb dinner and it was lovely meeting fellow food bloggers!
Over & Out, Rilsta xx