KEA Mahi Wines Dinner at Comme, Melbourne

by April@MyFoodTrail on October 1, 2010

in Food Events

Have you ever been stuck in a situation where you felt sheer panic and didn’t know what to do, but afterwards thought it was funny? I have. More than once. I remember one time was about 5 years ago, while we were holidaying in Hoi An in Central Vietnam. We were running late for dinner so the rest of the group went ahead first and told us the name of the restaurant and the street it was on.

Hubby and I were walking along the street of the restaurant, not being able to find the place, when all of a sudden, the whole town blacked out. Yes, the entire town! We were standing on the side of the street, in a strange place, not speaking the language, in complete darkness! I was clinging tightly to hubby, not able to see him but able to hear his voice and feel him next to me. Being kinda paranoid, I was terrified and kept thinking someone was going to kidnap or mug me!!

Of course that didn’t happen, and the power was on again in about 15 minutes. That must have been the longest 15 minutes of my life! Everyone else around us continued on their merry way once the electricity was back on because apparently the generator fails now and then in Hoi An. I had a laugh about it after, but I can still recall how scary it was in the dark!

Another time was just the other night at the Mahi Wines dinner held by organisation KEA at Comme. Towards the end of the dinner, I went to the bathroom. I walked through the door and saw a staircase going up on my right and going down on my left. I thought it was strange – how was I supposed to know whether to go up or down to get to the toilet?

I started to go up, but after two flights of stairs, I looked up and saw more stairs so I went back down again. The stairs down led to a door, which when I opened, I saw more stairs down to the street as part of the building next door. In my slightly inebriated state, I was utterly confused. Where the heck is the toilet??

I walked back to the original door I came through and when the door handle wouldn’t move, that was when the panic set in – it was locked!! I was imagining a scene from a movie where I would be banging on the inside of the door yelling “Let me out! Let me out! Help! Anybody there?!” Lucky for me, the “April gets trapped” movie was never made!

I went back down the stairs to the other door and found something to prop it open while I went to test whether I could get out of the door to the street in the other building. I was relieved to see that beautiful big green button which I pushed and the door to freedom opened! I was feeling like a right ol’ fool going back through the front entrance of Comme and up the stairs back to the function room! My dining companions and the waitress were sympathetic to my plight but must have thought I was so dumb to go through the fire escape!! It was an honest mistake, though I’m not sure how I missed the big green exit sign!

Mahi Wines Dinner - Toilets

Women’s toilet on the left & the fire escape door to the right

Anyway, now on to telling you about the food! KEA (Kiwi Expat Association), New Zealand’s global network, is an organisation which connects Kiwis all around the world and they often hold networking events in various cities. The dinner at Comme was one such event, which was held in conjunction with Mahi Wines winemaker, Brian Bicknell and Regal Salmon products.

Mahi Wines is located in the Marlborough region of New Zealand and has a strong focus on single vineyard wines. Mahi means “our work, our craft”, which is an appropriate name, as all grapes are handpicked and Brian has an obvious passion for making a quality wine. Mahi Wines can be found in restaurants and independent bottle shops, rather than the big chains. We had a total of 6 wines matched to our food, and Brian explained to us the process of making each of the wines while we tasted them.

Mahi Wines Dinner - Inside

Upon arrival, each guest was given a glass of the 2009 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to sip with the canapés of Regal Salmon pastrami. I first got to try Regal Salmon at Taste of Melbourne 2010 and loved it. Regal Salmon is king salmon which comes from New Zealand, whereas most of the salmon available in Australia is Atlantic salmon. King salmon has double the Omega 3 (good oils) than Atlantic salmon, resulting in a more buttery fish and no fishy after taste. I recently bought some fresh Regal Salmon from Victoria Market and it makes the most delectable salmon sashimi! You can also find it at Prahran Market, South Melbourne Market & Leos.

Once seated at our tables, we were served a small glass of cream of parsely veloute (soup) with a dash of crayfish vinaigrette and a golden crumbed ball of goats cheese. The parsely flavour in the veloute was not too strong and the slight tang of the vinaigrette made it well balanced. The crunchy ball of deep fried goats cheese was a great finishing touch. The wine for this course was the 2008 Boundary Farm Sauvignon Blanc.

Mahi Wines Dinner - Parsely

Cream of parsely veloute, crumbed goats cheese, crayfish vinaigrette

In case you didn’t already know, salmon is one of my favourite foods, so of course the salmon tasting plate would be my favourite dish! There was a trio of king salmon on the plate, starting with a (cold) smoked salmon with a herb crust, expertly rolled to reassemble a rose (bottom right). There was also a salmon tartare mixed with chives and topped with a generous amount of salmon roe (bottom left). The last salmon item was a papillote (parcel) of delicate salmon mousse, encased in a thin layer of raw salmon, sitting on top of a thin slice of toasted brioche. The wine for this course was the 2008 Twin Valleys Vineyard Chardonnay.

Mahi Wines Dinner - Salmon plate

Assiette of ‘NZ King Salmon’ – tartare, smoked & papillote on brioche

A small glass of lime granita was served after the salmon plate, acting as a palate cleanser before the main course. There was a lot of cringing faces as it was very, very tart! Unfortunately I missed taking a photo of it, but it looked like lime granita! The wine for this course was the 2009 Twin Valleys Vineyard Gewurztraminer.

With Spring upon us now (though not weatherwise!), it was appropriate that the main was a rump of new season lamb. The lamb was served with wilted spinach and a brochette (skewer) of ratatouille vegetables (three colours of capsicum, zucchini, red onion). The menu said the sauce was a tomato fondue and even though it didn’t look like a fondue to me, it was very tasty sauce to go with the lamb. The lamb was served with two pinot noirs, the 2009 Marlborough Pinot Noir and the 2008 Rive Pinot Noir.

Mahi Wines Dinner - Lamb

Rump of new season lamb, tomato fondue, wilted spinach & brochette of ratatouille

After the lamb, there wasn’t any dessert served, only coffee and petit fours. The petit fours looked like and tasted like Rocher Raffaello balls! If they weren’t actually Raffaello balls, the chef did an excellent job!

Mahi Wines Dinner - Petit fours

Petit fours of coconut balls

It was lovely dinner with beautiful wines and it was great to see fellow food blogger Pat. The dinner was a step outside my comfort zone as I didn’t really know anyone but thanks to my dining companions for the great conversation!

Over & Out, April xx

April dined at the KEA Mahi Wines dinner as a guest of Regal Salmon.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

penny aka jeroxie October 1, 2010 at 2:38 pm

How funny! But at least you weren't trapped.


Celeste @ Berrytravels October 1, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Interesting story! I know exactly how that is tho, as I tend to panic as well. Thankfully you weren't truly trapped.

Salmon ranks high on my food-that-i-love, regal salmon is just so mouth watering!


Forager @ The Gourmet Forager October 1, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Gorgeous photos – I'm craving some of that salmon right now! I don't think I could ever get sick of the stuff.


Glenda Saunders October 2, 2010 at 12:01 am

excellent wine choices for the lamb!


My Restaurants melbourne October 2, 2010 at 7:09 am

great story april!! I would have panicked too. This event looks wonderful, such nice food


mademoiselle délicieuse October 3, 2010 at 9:58 am

Haha, I used to get into all sorts of situations like this when I was a kid – getting 'trapped' in a toilet cubicle, panicking, only to realise the door swung out instead of in as usual in order for me to 'escape'!

At least the food was a welcome comfort =)


Conor @ Hold the Beef October 4, 2010 at 1:25 am

Oh April you funny thing 🙂

I was at a restaurant the other night that you had to walk through a few weird rooms, then out the back door, and figure out to go down this weird little alleyway to find the loos. I started wishing I'd brought a loaf of bread to drop crumbs behind me to find my way back.

Also, mmmmmmmmm coconut balls.


b1 @ twinpalates October 5, 2010 at 9:49 pm

i waste so much money on regal! I've tried all regal products at my local supermarket (the pastrami is mouth watering amazing!!) and have even become a salmon snob. Thumbs up Regal! please reduce your prices.


April @ My Food Trail October 7, 2010 at 9:53 am

Hi Penny: Yes, thank goodness!

Hi Celeste: My first thought is always panic! Not good!

Hi Forager: Me neither!

Hi Glenda: Yes they were!

Hi My Restaurants Melbourne: It all worked out in the end!

Hi mademoiselle délicieuse: The food was really good!

Hi Conor: That sounds very Hansel & Gretel-ish! We gotta start filling our pockets with crumbs!

Hi b1: Lucky you! I've only seen the fresh raw salmon available here in Melbourne. I really enjoyed the pastrami and hope they stock it here!


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