Saturday, May 24, 2008

WINE: BOLLINGER La Grande Annee 1999

Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Approx Cost: $180

I’ve had the 97 of this and enjoyed it quite a lot. The 99 is good but isn’t quite up to the same standard. As you would expect from Bollinger, a very well constructed wine with a good mousse and fine, persistent bead.

Still has that Bollinger taste to it. Plenty of toast and yeast flavours. The fruit is interesting. Caramelised lemon, orange and apple. A good mix of the fruit with the yeast. Very creamy.

This will improve with age, but I can’t see it blowing anyone away.


Sunday, May 04, 2008

EVENT: Element Bistro Degustation Night 3/5/08

Type: French
Location: 163 King St, Sydney
Booking Required: Usually
Cost: $85 for the food

Related Review

We went along to Element Bistro for what is hopefully the first of many monthly degustation nights, which will be held on the first Saturday of each month.

I was a little nervous about the whole night, since some of the dishes are a bit hit and miss on the normal menu. But that was just foolish. Each and every course was delicious and well thought out.

The first course was a cream of cauliflower soup with poached Barossa chicken, celery cress and Munster Gerome. It looked innocent enough, but this was a serious dish. Incredibly creamy, with big chunks of Barossa chicken and creamy Munster Gerome hiding beneath the surface, ready to pounce.

After such a rich start, the second dish was just what we were after. Heirloom tomato and a medallion of WA lobster with croutons and lemon mayonnaise. Very light, very refreshing. The palate got to settle down before the serious eating started. Very clean flavours. Not one of the best dishes of the night, but a dish that was essential to the enjoyment of the evening as a whole.

Following that was a crispy piece of barramundi served with braised savoy cabbage, pea puree and puy lentils. A classic combination of flavours and perfectly cooked. This is an exceptional dish. Up there with the duck confit as the best dishes I've had at Element. It was a dish that just works. I hope to see something similar on the regular menu.

Finally it came time to get heavy. It came time for a slow roasted beef fillet stuffed with bone marrow and spinach with a fondant potato and shavings of white summer truffle. Beautifully cooked meat with some excellent flavours complimenting it. I wasn't a fan of the white summer truffle, as they tend to taste a bit like cardboard compared to the black winter truffles, but the whole dish was very enjoyable.

I found it hard to contain my joy when I saw that the dessert would be a dark chocolate marquise with poached orange and pistachio crunch. Marquise is probably my favourite dessert and the matching flavours would be a perfect match to the richness of the dark chocolate. I wasn't disappointed. So rich and so satisfying. Even though I was full at this point, when I saw someone else at my table wasn't going to finish most of their marquise I had to eat it. It really was too good to waste. Also a great match for the bottle of de Bortoli Black Noble I brought along.

Finally we made it to the cheese platter. A great mix of blue cheese, ashed goat's cheese, Munster Gerome and the legendary Quick's Cheddar. This was served with lavosh, oatmeal bread, fruit bread and fig paste. We were all incredibly full at this point but couldn't let such wonderful cheeses go to waste.

All in all an excellent night. The food was delicious, the menu well thought out, portions generous (almost too generous) and service was as excellent as always. My only concern was that there were so few other diners there. This night needs to be supported because it would be a shame to see it go. French food this delicious and affordable is hard to find.

If the menu changes next month then I'll definitely be back. I hope that word gets around and a lot of other people also decide to pop in, because this is a night that needs to be enjoyed by as many people as possible.