Aug 3, 2010

Mundaring Truffle Festival 2010 : Part 3 - Gala Dinner at The Loose Box

I was looking forward to the Gala Truffle Dinner at The Loose Box this year. Last year we missed it for a bunch of reasons, but this year it was decided that it was time to make a stand for gastronomy and punish my liver - credit card debt be dammed!

I've dined at a range of impressive restaurants around the world in the last four years. Bécasse in Sydney. Vue du Monde and Jacques Reymond in Melbourne. Auguste in Paris and Pied à Terre in London and a lot of places in between. Yet for me, the single best degustation, nay meal I've had, was at the inaugural gala dinner at The Loose Box.

Warm, and inviting on a Winter's night.

I have very high expectations when I visit now and I've (including this weekend) been back four times. It's always been good for me since that exceptional dinner, but never as good. This time, I managed to speak to Alain Fabrègues before service and I got the feeling that his truly great menus are created when he himself can design the menu and push himself to the limit. It also helps no end that he is inspired by a new project.
The first dinner was to show as many ways truffles could be served.  This weekend Alain released to the public his  first book - a biography of sorts (more on this in a later post)  and I think he really did himself proud. On paper it didn't look like much, but the food was sublime and packed to the gills with truffles.

Ondine and I brought Raven. We had all done Wong Kei together in London so we knew he had the chops to eat at a restaurant of this caliber  

The Loosebox Restaurant
Truffle Gala Evening 2010

L'oeuf au coulis de truffes et ses Tastous de Cahors
Jannisson & Fills "Tradition" NV

Consommé double, flan de foi-gras, petits pois nouveaux truffes de Manjimup
Domaine Chatelain Pouilly-fume "Les Charmes"2007 Pouilly-sur-Loire

Les Saint Jacques de 'Shark Bay'en vapeur,
choux de Bruxelles au bacon et truffes en bataille
Domaine Bruno Colin Bourgogne 2007 Burgundy

Ma Poule au pot, Truffles sous la peau, legunes d'hiver sauce supreme aux 
Domaine Faiveley "La Framboisiére"2006 Nuits-Saint Georges

Le carré d'agneau rosé, croute de truffe, purée de céleri truffée, 
jus d'agneau légèrement madérisé
Chateau De Fieuzal 2005, Pessac Leéognan, Bordeaux

La Ruche au miel Truffé
Carmes De Rieussec 2006, Sauternes

Le brei de Meaux truffé affiné par nos soins
Cognac Frapin VSOP Grand Champagne 1er Grand Cru, Cognac, France

Truffle Egg with Truffle Toast. As always it was divine. The champagne in my estimation was not bad either. A reasonable non vintage. Raven was impressed.

Double Consume with a fois-gras flan, shelled sugar snap peas and Truffles. It was an excellent Consume and the fresh peas from Alain's garden were as good as you will get anywhere. By this stage Raven wasn't going anywhere. the Pouilly-fume was to me disappointing. It was a little weak as an example of the whites from this region. It had the bouquet, but not the punch I expected.

Shark Bay Scallops with Brussel Sprouts, crispy bacon sauce and of course TRUFFLE! The Scallops were cooked perfectly. As good as the ones I ate at Jacques Reymond earlier this year. The sprouts may have converted Raven, who firmly believed they were an unredeemable vegetable.  Paired with a Chardonnay, this course was a standout of the evening.

The classic poached chicken. This was the same as we had at the Truffle Master Class earlier in the day. The biggest difference however was that it was seasoned perfectly. Far more enjoyable and amazingly tender. A bit of a puzzle again was the choice of wine. The selection was a Pinot Noir, but incredibly dry. It had the bouquet of a classic Pinot, but sucked everything off your palate. It was a little unbalancing but did provoke a very earnest and amusing discussion as to why they chose it.

Rack of Lamb. The best main course I have had at The Loose Box. Succulent. Perfectly cooked, with an almost brioche like herb crust. The celeriac mash was faultless. All too often so called celeriac mashes don't taste like the vegetable. This was amazing. The wine was another bit of an oddball. Without food it was like being punched in the mouth with a velvet armchair. Give it an hour or so to breath (It didn't get more than 10 minutes) and a bit of fat to work on  in the mouth and it was almost perfect for this dish.

Desert. Fabulous! A bee hive made with almond biscuit tuilles, an apricot coulis and a honey and truffle bavarois. and a meringue bee. The wine was very good but not quite a match. For me this dish tied second place with the Scallops and the Truffle Egg.

15 day old truffled brie. I was very disappointed with this. Previous years, it wasn't quite as ripe (and it was delicious), but this year something was wrong. I don't know if my palate was messed up by an approaching head cold, or whether what I smelt was accurate but for me it had the same odor and flavour as rotting cauliflower. Sure it was a little runny, and I've put washed rinds and durian in my mouth before and not wanted to spit it out, but this  one was a real turn off.

The cognac on the other hand was for me very tasty. Reminiscent of the flavours in the Courvoisier brand (my favourite.) It made up for the cheese (and probably sterilised everything).

Petit Fours and Tea/Coffee. Canelés of Bordeaux, Caramelised Rum Choux, and Lemon Meringue.

Petit Fours

The recipes for these are all in Alain's book . They were very NOM.  I'm not sure how Ondine does it but she managed to score extras to take home.

A big thank you to the wait staff at the restaurant - they were fantastic. A special thanks to Alain for the autograph and the chat before service kicked off. It was a fantastic night and again worth the cover charge if you consider going next year.

17.5/20 - only losing points on the wine selection which wasn't quite to my taste.

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