On Saturday the 31st of October, The Local hosted the first of many Degustation evenings.
For those unfamiliar with the term, degustation’s are different to standard restaurant service. It is carefully crafted series of dishes that presents fresh produce from our local farmers and growers, with tasteful drink pairings to complement the flavours of each course.
Image 1: Five-Course menu
Degustation’s can often be an over-the-top production but our chef, Tom’s, goal is to remove the stigma that surrounds fine dining – There's no gloved waiters, no classical music playing in the background, none of the things that make fine dining unapproachable.
At The Local we want these events to be a fun and approachable experience where guests are educated on what they are eating and drinking in a fuss-free home-style celebration. Really all we are doing all we are doing is creating an experience to remember, using high quality ingredients and casual-yet-attentive service.
Image 2: Peter explains what's included in the first course
We hope these experiences will become a regular event for Glen Innes, but ever changing with the availability of seasonal produce and Tom’s creative competitiveness to incorporate all ingredients weird and wonderful.
To help complement each of the unique and flavorsome dishes, Peter will be pouring you a glass to accompany your meal. But don’t expect you traditional Reds and Whites – These boys like to mix things up and throw in a few cocktails and spirits while they are at it! So, wha tcould guest expect from the first menu?
Image 3: Thunderbolts Gin & Radish Soda
Course One Black Mountain Smoked Trout Rillette w/ Dill, Radish &Sourdough Paired w/ Thunderbolts Gin & Radish Soda (Cocktail)
The trout rillette dish was chosen because we wanted to showcase one of the New England’s most well-known suppliers – Deano’s Smoked Trout . The radish soda using Glen Gowrie Distilleries "Thunderbolts Gin" was the perfect pairing as it cut through the richness of the crème fraiche in the rillette, as well as adding an 'earthy' element.
Image 4: Tom Preparing the Trout Rillette
Course Two Beetroot, Apple, Pecan and Goats Cheese Paired w/ 2018 Toppers Mountain Tempranillo Pet Nat (Sparkling Red)
Beetroots are one of the most versatile vegetables out there; roasted, pickled, raw, pureed, fried. With this dish we wanted to show how sweet beetroot is when you leave it raw but eat it warm. The goat's cheese adds richness and also acidity. A sprinkle of Candied pecans right before serving provides that extra level of crunch. The accompanying Tempranillo offered the first shadow of controversy and served a touch of sweetness due to the richness of the dark berries, while still retaining some acidity to tie in with the garnish of green apple.
Image 4: Course Two (some preferred to stick with a white)
Coffs Harbour Prawns, Fennel & Bergamot
Paired w/ 2019 Toppers Mountain Chardonnay
Course 3 was another dish where we used the natural sweetness of ingredients to bring balance to the dish. ‘Butter Poaching’ prawns until just set, is a cooking method that creates a softer flesh than most people are used to.
Image 5: Tom's careful assembly
Using a bergamot mayo meant there was a classic seafood and citrus flavour, but over the top of the dish we drizzled a Chinese chilli oil that gave a more grounded and fulfilling taste. Again, the paired wine was not your standard chardonnay, unoaked it carried a lot more citrus and pear notes that tied in wonderfully with the lighter flavours of the dish.
Course Four Lamb Rump, Miso, Black Garlic and Pickled Spring Vegetables Paired w/ 2017 Topper’s Mountain wild ferment Petit Manseng
We couldn't do a degustation in the New England and not use Lamb, it is grazier country after all. Tom chose lamb rump particularly as it was a bit more personal to him. “I really wanted to use that specific cut as it was the first protein my old head chef Scotty taught me to cook, from trimming all the way to serving. I figured it’d be nice to pay him a bit of an homage with our first degustation since I wouldn't be where I am now without his training.” The lamb rump was glazed with black garlic and miso, left to marinate Image 6: Lamb Rump w/ Petit Manseng
for 24 hours and then cooked to medium.
The salad was made of our house pickle mix, along with broadbean leaves and bright purple kale. A curve ball we wanted to throw was not going with the classic ‘Red with red meat, white with white meat’ idea of wine pairing. Instead we chose a white to go with the lamb, the Petit Manseng. It was served just a touch below room temperature, offering the richness of a red, while still having lighter tangy notes that paired perfectly with the pickled spring veg.
Fennel Panna Cotta, Rose, Citrus and Cardamom
Paired w/ 2019 Ration Hill Rosé
During spring Fennel is one of the most abundant vegetables in the region, often growing wild along creek banks, edges of roads and popping up through paddocks. Our idea was to make sure the dish was obviously tasting of fennel, but not overpoweringly so. The immediate thought was to do an ice cream or sorbet, but with no ice cream machine in house we went for a fennel panna cotta instead.
Image 7: Finishing up with Dessert
A trick we found was blending the fennel bulbs into the mix to make a thicker, more viscous dessert, and then infusing rose into the base as well. On top we placed cardamom poached grapefruit and blood orange, dried rose petals, fennel fronds and pecan praline. Rosé was a perfect pairing as it gave into the sweetness of the dessert, maintained floral notes and added an almost zestiness to the whole experience.
It was a wonderful evening had by all and while we kept it fairly safe for our first run, you can always expect some hidden gems throughout the evening. And while we wish we could tell you all about them, we can’t give all our secrets away just yet. Instead you’ll have to try your luck and grab a ticket for our next degustation – coming December 2020. Image 8: Guest enjoying their evening out
See you there,
P.S A special thanks to Cassandra Hill who gave up her evening to capture our special event! All photo's are credited to Cass.