Sunday, 26 May 2013

MIDDLE PARK HOTEL - William Downie Pork & Pinot dinner

We were invited by the Jenny Brookes at the Melbourne Pub Group to attend a special dinner event of matched food and wine. 

William Downie spent several years in Burgandy, France before returning to Australia to start his own boutique winery specialised on Pinot Noir. Grapes come from the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Gippsland, which allows him to create an interesting variety of flavours from one single grape variety. 

William also raises his own free range, fully organic Berkshire pigs served only in a handful of restaurants in Melbourne. 

Pairing great wine and excellent quality local produce in the hands of renowned chef Paul Wilson could only result in an outstanding meal. 

This was by far the best dinner we've been to this year and a memorable meal all round. On offer were 5 courses with matched wines (some courses matched with 2 wines each - there was no lack of booze) for $120pp. These dinners - always a different theme - happen with some frequency and I would highly recommend anyone who loves food and wine to attend.

Antipasto - Emilia Romagna style rare breed pork salumi with prosciutto and spiced quince
Fresh olives and butter & herb toasts served with antipasto 
The scent of the prosciutto and salami as it came to the table was amazing. You could smell the sweetness of the meat and it just melted in the mouth when we tried it. Amazing stuff. My first reaction was to ask the waiter 'Where can we buy this?', and he responded 'Err, you can't... it's a small production only supplied to some restaurants'. Ahhh, once you try the good stuff, normal ham just won't do it for me any more. 

Chef Paul Wilson explains each dish as they come out

Hapuka saltimbocca with chestnuts and roast chicken juices
Second course was Hapuka saltimbocca (literally, jumps in your mouth) served with chestnut puree, crispy sage and chicken juices. This dish was amazing. I loved the combination of flavours and how they used smoked bacon to wrap the fish and trap the moisture in. Everything worked really well. Each mouthful was pleasurable - the flavours really did jump in mouth!  

Matched with 2011 SOS Chardonnay, Yarra Valley. 

Pork belly, porcini mushroom and pine mushroom risotto

The third course of pork belly and mushroom risotto was outstanding. Pork belly was crispy and super tasty, the mushroom stock added an earthy tone to the dish. I loved presentation as well, with an extra spoon of sauce served next to the pork steak. 

Matched with 2012 Mornington pinot noir and 2012 Gippsland pinot noir. 

Apple wood spit roasted Downie Estate Berkshire suckling pig with heritage apple marmalade and fennel salad 

We were already pretty full by the time the fourth course of suckling pig arrived. It was impossible to resist it though. The meat was so tender it fell off the bone. And the side fennel and apple were a refreshing addition that cut through the richness of the pork. Very good, well rounded dish. 

Matched with 2012 Yarra Valley pinot noir and 2012 Thousand Candles 

Upside down pineapple tart with jasmine tea and lime sorbet

I'm lucky I have a separate compartment for dessert that is never full no matter how much savoury food I eat :)  How could I say no to a deliciously sweat & sour warm pineapple tart? 

Great choice of fruit after such a rich dinner. Not only does pineapple compliments pork well, it's the perfect dessert fruit to aid digestion. The jasmine tea and lime sorbet added lightness to the dish, which was another winner for me. 

Matched with 2009 Petit Manseng 

Hard to say what I liked most that night. There is not one dish I can criticize or pick as a favourite. This was truly an outstanding night of food and wine in a great venue - most certainly a memorable meal. 

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