MFWF Sibling Rivalry Dinner at Ezard

The day had finally arrived – the Sibling Rivalry dinner at Ezard!  The night when Teage’s three restaurants go head to head in a battle to determine which one can serve the best dish. With two courses from each restaurant on the menu – we were in for a treat.

When the MFWF festival guide was released, I had put out the call – my annual “Save Andrew Campaign” is designed to save my beloved from having to traipse from one foodie event to another with me – and it was answered faithfully by six of my girlfriends – the ever faithful iMac, the divine Miss M, the gorgeous K and her good friend K2, the lovely AT, and good friend F. What a night we had in store…

Representing Ezard, the original, 12 year old statesman of the competition, was Head Chef Sharn Greiner. For Gingerboy, the six year old, younger, hip-and-happening restaurant – head chef Leigh Power was stepping up to the plate. And for relative newcomer, the interstate little brother, Black by Ezard – chef Jed was standing in for Head Chef Michael Tripp who apparently got lost coming back from Las Vegas… but that’s another story…

Restaurant manager, Quentin Ferguson, opened proceedings – setting the scene for the epic battle that was to follow.  However, Teage was a little more circumspect – saying that he felt that it was not so much a competition – as a celebration of three great restaurants and their teams.  Such a good dad! He loves all his kids equally.  We were all just happy to be there – to get a taste from each restaurant – each with their own distinctive style. Let the games begin…

The scene was set – each diner was provided with their means to vote – UNO cards!!  You got one vote only – Green for Ezard, Yellow for Black, and Red for Gingerboy.

Japanese inspired oyster shooter

Ezard opened with their signature amuse bouche – the gorgeous oyster shooter.  A fresh, plump oyster swims in a mixture of mirin, sake, soy sauce and wasabi powder – accompanied by a beautiful soba noodle nori roll. This classic recipe is over 10 years old and still impresses – it just goes to show how ahead of his time Teage was back when he started the original restaurant! How many dishes do you know can stand that test of a decade?  Amazing!  We enjoyed a lovely unfiltered sake with this palate teasing dish!

Soy cured ocean trout, turmeric, coconut caramel and pickled daikon

This dish was absolutely gorgeous – a lovely fresh salad foiled the richness of the cured trout.  The coconut caramel was creamy and luscious. Gingerboy went an extra step with this one though… accompanying the dish with a great cocktail…

Gin no name: tanqueray gin, massenez litchi liquer, lemon juice, kaffir lime

Whoa!  They know the way to a girl’s heart.   A citrusy cocktail with gorgeous aromatics going on.

Son in law egg, chillli jam and asian herbs

Gingerboy were on a roll now… following up their ocean trout and cocktail dish with a modern Aisan classic – Son in law eggs. We were instructed that the egg was best eaten whole – but I was the only one at my table who took up the challenge.  You know the saying “loose lips…” – well, this was particularly applicable in this case.  A whole egg is a pretty big mouthful – but I managed to keep myself nice!  In retrospect, I reckon the rest of the girls had the right idea – as they daintily nibbled away with their knives and forks!   We enjoyed Best’s ‘House Block’ riesling with this dish.

Poached hapuka, cauliflower, crustacean vinaigrette

The first dish to be presented by the interstate newcomer, Black by Ezard, definitely had a wow factor. An absolutely gorgeous piece of hapuka was presented with a trio of cauliflower.  The fish was set atop some creamy cauliflower puree, nestled next to it was some roasted cauliflower, and it was garnished with the finest sliver of raw cauliflower – what a stunning combination. There was also some freshly poached mussels, lively capers and a creamy crustacean vinaigrette. The competition had a new front runner….  Perfectly complementing this dish, was a favourite wine of mine – Chestnut Hill’s Liberty Chardonnay. A beautifully creamy wine with a real buttery tone.

Chinese style roast duck, green chilli and oyster sauce dressing
with coconut rice and asian greens 

OH. MY. GOODNESS. This dish was amazing. Sharn had brought out the big guns – there’s not a lot of dishes better than the duck at Ezard (except maybe the pork hock… or perhaps the wagyu beef… and the barramundi’s very good…. oh dangnabbit – everything’s good there!!!  But I digress….).  This dish was sublime – the duck was tender, the oyster sauce was amazing, the coconut rice was creamy, and the wonderful texture of the fried sweet potato garnish was devastatingly crispy with an earthy sweetness.  I think the hapuka just got knocked off its perch.  The duck was just hands down gorgeous.  A new pinot noir from Shoreham Park on the Mornington Peninsula got a guernsey here – and it was a fabulous pairing. That one’s definitely on my list!!

Cabassi wagyu rump cap, wild mushroom and chive salad, spinach pudding

Out of all the dishes I wanted to try from Black, this was the one.  In recent coverage by Australian Gourmet Traveller, Black by Ezard got a bit of a mixed review – mainly because of their approach to preparing steak – which is by gently poaching by sous vide, before chargrilling.  Andrew recently tried a steak at Oakdene (post coming soon) using the same method – and he declared it the best steak he’d ever eaten!! Very high praise – so was the beef at Black as good?

Alas, while the flavour of the beef was good, in this case, I found it to be a bit tough.  However, this could be as a result of having to do over 80 covers at once. It was a pity – because the accompaniments were fantastic – especially the spinach pudding, which was actually a beautifully silky and herbaceous puree.  The mushroom and chive salad was lovely, and the jus was rich and intense.  All great components.  We were able to enjoy a 2008 Linnaea ‘Rhizotomi’ cabernet sauvignon from the Napa Valley with this dish.  You may be asking “why an American wine?”  Good question… research reveals that this is the personal label of Melbourne based husband and wife team, Michelle Edwards and Daniel Fischl – so it was great to support some Aussies working internationally in the pretty fierce marketplace of Californian wine country!

Honeycrunch icecream, toasted gingerbread and sugar swirl

Ahhh… Ezard – I think they must have wiped the rest of the competition from the floor with this dish. The duck was pretty sensational, but to finish with the signature dessert!  Is that playing fair??? As usual, the honeycrunch icecream is the best-in-class example of what icecream should be – creamy and luscious, sweetened with real honeycomb pieces, complemented by the spiciness of the gingerbread and stunningly garnished with crunchy pieces of fresh honeycomb and that toffee swirl. Partnered with some 2010 Punt Road Botryitis Semillon – it was a fantastic dish!

If you need to know how good the food was – then this picture speaks a thousand words. iMac is a star at cleaning her plate – and she excelled tonight.  Mind you – one of these is mine – so she did have a bit of competition.  At any rate, it shows you just how great the food was.  There were a lot of clean plates throughout the evening….

Sharn Greiner from Ezard, Jed from Black, and Leigh Power from Gingerboy
(with Jeanette Clark, Ezard’s somellier, standing by on the right)

The time had come to announce the winner…. would Sharn win with his home ground advantage, or would Leigh have wowed the crowd with his spicy dishes and fantastic cocktail, or will newcomer Black take the guernsey – that hapuka was pretty good..???

And… the winner is…. Ezard!!  And no… I didn’t bring my own stack of UNO cards and just throw in all the green ones (But that is a really good idea!!!). Congratulations to Sharn and the team at Ezard – it’s hard to beat the original and the best!!

There was also a prize for a lucky guest who answered the quiz the most creatively.  In a stunning travesty of justice – it wasn’t me!  Even though I submitted two bawdy limericks in support of my entry.  Just for posterity – I shall publish the less bawdy of the two here. The other one referred to the absence of pork hock on the menu… so you can imagine where that went!  I think it might have been that cocktail interfering with my brain…. Anyhoo…

There once was a young chef called Teage
So talented, he was out of our league
We loved his wild rump
“So exciting”, we pumped
And now, we’re all really fatigued

Of course, I’m talking about the Cabassi wagyu rump… you know that right?

Me and Teage!

It was an amazing and fabulous night – clearly enjoyed by all.  One of the highlights for me was finally getting a picture with Teage! Yay!  As most of you are aware – he’s a bit of an idol for me.

As my posse of girlfriends (as dubbed by the wonderful Jasper) wended their way home, we were all blissfully happy – a fantastic evening of simply gorgeous food and wine, a rollicking, festival atmosphere, and lots of fun had by all.  Apparently, this Sibling Rivalry dinner was an inaugural affair – so we can expect another fantastic night next year! Will Gingerboy come back and woo us with two cocktails?  Will Black up the ante, with another year of operation under its belt? Or will it be impossible to beat the classic, the inimitable and original Ezard?

Naturally, I will be there to find out.  But in the meantime, I won’t be able to wait that long, and will have to get my usual fix much sooner… so stay tuned for the April visit.