EpiQure Dinner at Moon Under Water
EpiQure is Qantas’ club for food and wine lovers who have racked up sufficient points. It should not be confused with Epicure, The Age’s food and wine liftout that is published every Tuesday. Even though – a couple of weeks after this event – Epicure held an event at another Andrew McConnell restaurant – Golden Field. Confused…??? Not to worry – there’s a post for each!
Moon Under Water is a new Andrew McConnell restaurant, who with his partners Anthony Hammond and Josh Murphy, have effectively rejuvenated and gentrified the previously pretty crusty Builders Arms Hotel. Open since July 2012, there was a major gush of appreciation and enthusiasm from all of the foodie press – which means that it has been on my list for a while.
Andrew McConnell (on the right) with our EpiQure host.
Good friend iMac – who has copious frequent flyer points – is a member of aforementioned EpiQure club and was quick to snap up tickets to this event, which was also designed to showcase the wines from Oakridge Estate. A bevy of us culinary devoted gals rolled up to Gertrude Street to be taken on a flight of Andrew McConnell fancy.
With our glass of Oakridge Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir well under our belts, we were pleased to see these cheese biscuits arrive at the table. These crumbly cheesey delights were quickly hoovered up to start soaking out what would turn out to be lashings of alcohol.
Deep fried mussels stuffed with mortadella
Served as an amuse-bouche, these little deep fried delights were greeted with the lust that only deep fried delights can be. Hidden beneath the charming wooden board, was an alcove containing some bread.
Hmm… half a slice each. While lending itself to the presentation, the serving came across as a little parsimonious, however, it was quickly gobbled up. As the time passed by… we also started eying off the incongruously placed pickled cucumber that was also provided in the bread box… it was only a matter of time before it too got eaten up!
Wild watercress soup and caviar
The first official course was served with a bit of theatre. First we were presented with a lightly poached egg, sprinkled with oscietra caviar and watercress flower. This was then flooded with a puddle of beautiful, fresh watercress soup. I do love this combination of poached egg and herbaceous soup – the two elements really do go together – when broken into, the egg yolk serves to slightly thicken the soup. Delicous. This was served with two wines, one a limited release 2011 Fumé, which was a blend of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris, the other the 2011 Guerin Vineyard chardonnay.
Bridge Farm asparagus sautéed with pearl oyster meat
Our next dish was again quite light and ethereal – some beautifully fresh asparagus topped with pearl oyster meat, which was like a cross between scallop and calamari. A very interesting dish. Once again, the dish was served with two wines – this time both chardonnays. The first was the 2010 Oakridge Local Chardonnay and the second, the 2009 Oakridge Chardonnay.
Roast McIvor Farm Suckling pig
Ahhh… the dish I had been waiting for (and waiting for,… and waiting for…. 7 glasses in, 3.5 hours down… and only 3 ethereal dishes later… we needed something a little more substantial). We were treated to hearing from the farm owners – Belinda and Jason McIvor who told us about how they raise their little piglets. Our little piggy had been cooking for 10 hours! As a result, a lot of the fat had been rendered away resulting in quite a lean serve of meat (a little too lean for me). It was very, very tasty.
This was served with the two best wines of the night (IMHO). The first was the 2010 Oakridge Pinot Noir, and the second the 2010 Oakridge Local Vineyard Series Shiraz. The shiraz was a very delicate red, very different to the heavy, peppery variety that we’re used to seeing in Australia. It’s really gratifying to see some bold winemakers creating a more refined and tantalising Shiraz – as a Pinot lover, I am adoring the trend and hope to see a lot more of it.
Sides: Lashings of barley and green salad
Alongside the suckling pig, we were served some lovely barley and green salad. There were lashings of barley – one of my favourite grains. We were so hungry we ate both big bowls of it. In some ways, I think that the serving of pork was a little small – particularly after seven glasses of wine… and it being almost 10pm by the time it was served. We were ravenous!
Holy Goat Piccolo
As a little interlude between savoury and sweet, we enjoyed these gorgeous kisses of creamy goodness. Only 2-3 days old, the cheese was fresh, light and delicate. Delicious!
And finally, dessert… a blackberry tart. A very elegant pairing with the 2010 and 2006 Oakridge 864 Cabernet Sauvignon (864 is the winery’s street address along the Maroondah Highway). Given Oakridge does not do a dessert wine, this was a tricky challenge for the chef – and he met it head on. The blackberry tart was served with a red wine granita, yoghurt, and raspberry jelly. It was a beautiful foil to the richness of the cabernet sauvignon.
Petit Fours – Salted Caramel Cups
Oh my goodness – Andrew McConnell and Josh Murphy know the way to this girl’s heart – salted caramel cups of deliciousness. A very nice finishing touch!
It was brilliant to be able to check out Moon Under Water while drinking some stunning wines from Oakridge’s wide range. The food is impeccable and ingeniously designed and certainly deserves the spotlight. However, I do have to agree with some other reviewers who have noted that the servings are light and fresh, as opposed to impressively or generously sized. Our four courses turned out to be seven courses – I suspect the standard no choice, $75 four course meal – would echo this experience, and with a menu that changes weekly you can be assured of being served the season’s best.
Moon Under Water is definitely a choice for food and wine lovers, but remember, it leans toward the gourmet rather than the gourmand.