Ground Level, NGV International
180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
(03) 8620 2434
To give you an idea of how behind I am in my blogging, this lunch actually took place on the day of Melbourne’s hailstorm back at the start of March! Actually, I am further behind than that because I didn’t finish all my Sydney posts from my trip in February, plus I still have my USA trip photos that I keep getting asked for. Not to mention all the restaurant trips and recipes I have made in between! Anyone want to be my PA, or should I say PAB (personal assistant blogger)?!!
The day started off nice enough with the sun shining as we headed towards St Kilda Road, and more specifically, Persimmon restaurant inside the National Gallery of Victoria. When we found a park along St Kilda Road, I was thinking, score, we don’t have to pay for parking at the National Gallery car park. Read further and you’ll see that it probably wasn’t a good thing!
Our chef friend Nick, was finishing off his last few weeks in the Persimmon kitchen before moving on to Bacash (where he is now working) so we thought we would pay him a visit since we hadn’t been to Persimmon before.
Nick designed a special tasting menu for a few of us, which doesn’t actually appear on the Persimmon menu, so you’ll just have to be satisfied with the photos, instead of getting to try it yourself!
Nick is a contemporary style chef – he’s not afraid to mix flavours and he comes up with creative dishes that plate up really nicely. I have to admit, I tend to stay away from tasting menus where you don’t get to see the menu upfront (think Japanese omakase) because I like to know what I’m getting. I trusted Nick though (and I had no choice :P) and he took us on a delicious journey through his dishes.
First up we had a wooden board of 3 different types of bread brought to the table. The bread was still warm and so good – I had to stop myself from asking for more to save room for the other food!
The first dish we had was a kingfish carpaccio with avocado pieces and thin cross sectioned slices of baby vegetables topped with a lemon emulsion and horseradish snow. All the different elements of the dish combined together to create a fresh flavour in the mouth.
The next dish was a pumpkin and potato gnocchi with melted gorgonzola, as well as scatterings of gingerbread crumbs, deep fried capers and macadamia nut pieces. I really liked the contrasting textures of the pillowy gnocchi with the crunchy gingerbread, capers and macadamia. I had a total food blogger fail moment because it seems like I missed taking a photo of this dish. I don’t know how that happened (I still secretly think photo gremlins stole it! :P)!
The third dish was a piece of roasted bream, resting on a bed of leek, surrounded by a pool of cucumber and yoghurt gazpacho. To keep things interesting, there were also two quenelles of leek and chervil jelly, as well as pearls of salmon roe in the gazpacho. I’m not a fan of cucumber so I was pleasantly surprised that I like the mild tasting gazpacho.
The next dish was a roasted partridge, with the leg and breast cooked separately. The leg was wrapped in thinly sliced eggplant (aubergine) while the breast was roasted. There was a potato and nutmeg puree in the middle, with miniature pickled cauliflower, broccoli and grapes around the plate. I had never eaten partridge (or pheasant) before – my only dealings with them had previously been at Christmas time when they were in a pear tree! 🙂
I was relieved to see the next dish had progressed to dessert since I wasn’t sure I had much room left after the four wonderful dishes we had eaten! We were brought two desserts, but they were to share. The first dessert was a plate with rectangles of olive oil cake, caramelised banana slices, a banana puree, little cubes of chocolate jelly accompanied by a quenelle of frozen yoghurt. The plate was finished with a sprinkling of pop rocks.
Can you believe hubby has never had pop rocks before?! I thought they were pretty much a (Melbourne) primary school staple! I remember going to the milk bar after school to buy some and it would give me hours of giggles as the rocks “popped” in my mouth causing such a weird sensation! For those of you who have never experienced it, pop rocks is a candy that pops in your mouth. Website How Stuff Works tells me that the hot sugar mixture of the candy is mixed with carbon dioxide gas and once cooled, the shattered candy pieces still contain high pressure bubbles. When you put the candy in your mouth, your saliva dissolves the candy and what you are hearing and feeling is the carbon dioxide gas being released from each bubble! How cool is that?!
The last dessert was a strawberry tart. It looks like more pop rocks on the plate but it was actually freeze dried strawberry. The strawberry tart was filled with strawberries as well as a lime and chocolate mousse. The tart was divine and it was a good thing hubby finished his half first or else I would have eaten his share!
As we were waiting for our bill and staring out the window, the sky turned gray pretty quickly and it started raining. The rain was joined by small hailstones, which then turned into torrential rain and golf ball sized hailstones!! I couldn’t believe my eyes! There is a pool of water next to Persimmon and it seriously looked like someone was throwing golf balls into water from the size of the splash. The restaurant started leaking in a bad way with water gushing in from the tops of windows and water dripping from the ceiling, so they eventually had to evacuate everyone. The beautiful stained glass ceiling of the main hall of the gallery was damaged too with puddles all over the floor.
After we left Persimmon, it was a surreal experience trying to get to our car. It was bucketing down water, but it had stopped hailing then, and most parts of St Kilda Road were flooded. I had to roll up my jeans and take off my shoes and attempt to walk through knee deep, freezing cold water, not being able to see the ground. I almost tripped over kerbs a few times because I couldn’t see them. I even had to stop walking for a while because my feet were so frozen I just couldn’t move them. I wish I had taken more photos, but I didn’t want my camera to get wet and I was trying to get to the car as quickly as possible.
We arrived at the car, completely soaking wet, to find it covered in leaves and after clearing away some of the leaves, we saw dents from the hailstones! At that point, we didn’t care – we just wanted to get out of the rain and into some dry clothes. It took us almost two hours to drive home and traffic was horrendous from the storm. There were so many cars stranded in water and trees and branches on the ground.
The next day, when the rain eventually stopped, I went to examine the car and saw just how bad the damage was. Every panel except for the passenger side doors had dents in it. After numerous calls to the insurance company and the long wait times (a lot of people were affected by the storm), a trip to the Assessment Centre saw my poor car written off. I was sad to see it go since it has served me well for the past 7 years. I’m thankful nothing happened to our house.
It was an eventful day – a beautiful lunch followed by a not so beautiful afternoon! At least it gives me a memorable experience and a story to tell! Were you affected by the storms?
Over & Out, April xx