Dinner at the Boat House

There was a little of me that wanted to check that I couldn’t just treat people to a 4-7 course fine dining experience without all the excess wedding hoo-ha, so to put my mind at ease TimmyC took me to an impromptu sneaky dinner at The Boat House. I was tempted to get try the truffle degustation but to see their calibre of food without a reoccurring star ingredient, we chose from the four course a la carte menu.

Four course menu $80 (it is in the Entertainment book, don’t forget your gold card/app!).

The Boat House is always inviting with their attentive service and freshly house made bread and butter.20140727-225006-82206066.jpgFirst Course~

The Wedding Collection – The National Gallery of Australia

I hadn’t considered The National Gallery of Australia for wedding venue and I can’t remember exactly what I was browsing that made me think to go to the website to enquire for a tour of the space and eventually a food tasting but I remember it hit me like a eureka moment. I was very impressed with the photos that I had seen on their website and I couldn’t wait to see the space in person.

It was the very last tasting out of the venues we were looking into and the Event Manager Vince Azzopardi said that we were saving the best til last and I was hoping he was right. I wanted the tastings to get better and better and what we have tried so far had been pretty fantastic.

The very beautiful Gandel Hall with exquisitely detailed with gold-leaf doors and red ironbark floors.20140503-121113.jpgI thought the set up for the tasting was a bit odd with Vince joining us in tasting the food, but maybe it is one of the perks of his job (that would be awesome!). A table was set up all with wine glasses and white linen in the beautiful Gandel Hall. I felt bad when I had to explain that TimmyC and I don’t drink wine then someone swooped in and cleared the glasses away while filling up our glasses with sparkling water to which I had to turn and explain that we didn’t drink sparkling water either with an apologetic look on my face. We are but simple people… When it comes to beverages. 😉

The head chef of The Big Group company Mickael Renou, brought out our dishes and explained how he prepared each dish. There was a lot of slow cooking processes and thought to compliment the flavours of each dish. He had a lovely French accent and although I might not have understood everything, I liked listening to him speak *giggle*.

There was something else that I didn’t expect. Each of us received a smaller version of each of the course and placed in the middle was the full-sized portion of each option which we also got to eat. Needless to say with TimmyC barely pulling his weight, I was getting a bit full after eating 2.5 courses times two.

We chose from Autumn/Winter dinner menu.

Entree~
Salmon and prawn raviolo with caramelised fennel, wilted spinach, lobster oil and sorrel.  After trying to get the perfect shot of the beautiful food, it was no surprise that my raviolo was cold. There would be a very small window where this would remain hot to warm. By itself, the raviolo was okay but it came to life when I rubbed it in the lobster oil. For me the edges of the pasta were a tad too thick if I was nit picking but TimmyC really enjoyed it.
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Soy roasted pork belly with salted pork crackle, apple and celeriac puree, Bok Choy slaw, veal jus. When I ate my smaller portion I didn’t really get a soy flavour, it wasn’t until I ate the full-sized portion did I taste it. I liked the little crackle hat that was extremely crunchy and the puree complimented the protein flavours really well. The bigger portion of pork was very thick and meaty but was very tender and moist.
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 Our individual portions were plated really nicely.20140503-123044.jpg
The full-sized portion of the pork belly. I thought the sauce plating was a bit messy but was probably could not be helped with the runny nature of the sauce.20140503-123132.jpg
 A close up of the tender pork.20140503-123523.jpg The full-sized portion of the raviolo. I thought the sauce plating was a bit messy in comparison to the individual plated portions.20140503-123143.jpg
Mains~
Roast fillet of beef with a burnt carrot purée, potato terrine, caramelised shallots and sauce bordelaise (GF). Beef is a real crowd pleaser at weddings so we couldn’t go past choosing this dish to see how they would execute it and let me just say, it was wonderful. The meat was cooked very well and for someone who doesn’t love carrots, I really loved the burnt carrot puree. The potato terrine was probably a tad dry but I smothered it in the sauce to make up for it. The sweetness of the puree and caramelised shallots just enhanced the salty beef flavours.
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Our individual plated ports of our main course.
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Roast duck breast and confit leg with sweet potato Skordalia, green beans and Honey jus (GF). I was going to town with these purees and mashes! If I don’t love carrots but I loved their puree, just imagine the excitement in my eyes when I placed a mouthful of sweet potato (which I love) in my mouth which just had a tad bit of citrus. Mmmmm! The duck was okay, not the best I’ve had. I much preferred the confit duck leg over the breast which I found chewier and had less duck flavour.20140503-125030.jpgSuch a sexy leg!20140503-125133.jpg A close up of the very intense and rich sweet potato puree. I couldn’t fit any more of my meal in because I was getting full fast and I felt bad for the other guys having to wait so long for me to finish but I tried to eat as much of the mash as I could.20140503-123927.jpg
Dessert canapes~
When these came out I thought they were absolutely adorable!!! We were introduced to the pastry chef but I didn’t really catch his name but I think he did a fabulous job with these.
I love the beautiful slate tiles that the canapes were served on.
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 Buttermilk Bavarois, slow roasted plum and toasted almond (GF). This was ridiculously delicate and I’m not a huge fan of stone fruit in my dessert but it went together perfectly! The toasted almonds gave it an extra dimension in texture and flavour. This is my favourite pick out of the dessert canapes.
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Chocolate dipped peanut butter semi freddo. You couldn’t hold this for too long before the chocolate would start melting on your fingers but the delicious flavours of peanut butter and chocolate going so well together, I doubt that anyone will have time for that to happen. The perfect subtle taste of peanut butter meant that it wasn’t overwhelming and sticky on your palette.20140503-125226.jpgPistachio crème brûlée with a Gianduja biscuit. Believe it or not, this little beauty had a little ‘toffee hat’ that I love in brulees. It was the cutest little morsel I’ve ever had as a dessert, it made my body spasm with excitement and it took me a while to bring myself to eat it. I love how they have developed this much-loved dessert into a canape. The texture was silky smooth but I thought that the flavours of pistachio paste was too intense for my liking.20140503-125236.jpgA close up to the inside of the brulee.20140503-125404.jpg
The Big Group have been catering for the National Gallery since November 2012 and I’ve seen some amazing set ups for functions throughout the year including the pop-up Wedgwood Tea Room and Mother’s day high teas.

Potential wedding venue: National Gallery of Australia

Caterer: The Big Group

Time of tasting: 1pm

Price of tasting: $120.00 pp.

The Wedding Collection – National Museum of Australia

Our tasting started at 3pm and TimmyC and I had become experts at timing small portions of snacks before our late lunches. I was under the illusion that exchanging money in the city wouldn’t take too long and I would easily make it to the Museum for our appointment but I had not accounted for a frustratingly long wait behind a customer who hadn’t properly transfer funds between accounts (or something to that effect) which left me frustrated and very late to my tasting at the National Museum of Australia.

I was embarrassing late which was forgiven for I was the ‘bride-to-be’ but that didn’t ease my mind at all as I panted across the museum into the cafe to find TimmyC sitting outside on a balcony with perfect panoramic views of the lake facing the National Library. Anthony, the venue manager of Broadbean Catering was super nice and didn’t even seem annoyed when he went to inform the kitchen of my late arrival. We were offered beverages but we politely declined and stuck with chilled water. 20140410-192527.jpgA simple set up but the views made up for it.20140410-192605.jpgEach dish came on its own which kept everything hot and we both were able to eat from the same plate giving our views at the same time.

Sneak peek of our meal at the National Museum.20140410-193923.jpg

Entrees~

Spicy beef salad with shaved cucumber and roasted peanuts, lime and ginger dressingThe beef salad had the perfect amount of chilli (for me), enough for taste and not to burn your mouth. The flavours underneath the meat were rather refreshing between the strips of cucumber and mixed salad greens. The peanuts gave it an extra crunch and nutty balance between the meat, cold salad and chilli flavour. TimmyC was very happy to have this as an entree at our wedding.20140410-195521.jpgChargrilled King Prawns with avocado and mango salad drizzled with a lime aioliNext up was the prawns. Anthony explained how the process of this dish was streamlined for maximum efficiency from the kitchen which produced the uniformity across all dishes that I was looking for. I was impressed that they had thought about this and planned this well whether if it was for one or one hundred and one people. The three prawns came out hot and hugging each other in an entanglement that I didn’t understand. Underneath was a beautiful salsa which had a bit of a bite consisting of fresh mangoes and avocado. The contrast between the hot and cold aspects worked well together and would be lovely for a wedding held during the non winter months.20140410-195532.jpg

20140410-195543.jpgMains~

Confit duck leg with roasted potato and pears and verjuice glaze. The duck was crispy and looked perfectly glazed in the pear and verjuice jus, but when I looked for the distinct duck flavours in the meat and skin, I couldn’t find it. The pear glaze was sticky and delicious but it left the potatoes rather sweet which I thought would have leant itself better towards a dessert. Comparatively to the food we had been served so far, it was a bit disappointing.20140410-195611.jpg

20140410-195619.jpgPorcini mushroom risotto cakes, with peperonata and cress salad (v)Now everything sounds good on paper but Tim and I agreed that this vegetarian dish sounded particularly good. It was perfectly executed with a wickedly delicious crispy exterior encasing an amazing risotto that I think even the non-mushroom likers would happily eat. It was served with peperonata giving it an extra bit of sweetness with every bite.20140410-195633.jpgBeautiful risotto with a crispy coating.20140410-195645.jpgDesserts~ The desserts were arriving as I was still eating my main portion but I didn’t mind. I continued bites of my risotto cakes between tastings of dessert which would probably disgust most people who can’t flick back and forth. TimmyC was excited as he has probably spent most of his life waiting for dessert as I finish eating so this was the best of both worlds. I couldn’t help but wonder if the dishes would have come so fast (not too rushed though) if I had arrived on time.

Rosewater panna cotta with minted strawberries and Persian fairy floss. A part of me was excited to remember that we had chosen a panna cotta and a part of me hesitated as I remembered back to the National Portrait gallery. We were told that the Persian fairy floss could come in alternate colours if we chose this as a dessert which would look cute. The panna cotta itself had a lovely soft texture (phew) and it wasn’t particularly sweet but it wasn’t necessary as the minted strawberries gave it just enough. I must admit, I didn’t know how the strawberries would turn out, too much mint would have made for an unpleasant experience but they manage to balance the flavours wonderfully that TimmyC was happily eating more than his share of the dessert.20140410-195701.jpgWhite chocolate pudding with berry compote and macadamia brittle. The flavours of white chocolate weren’t particularly overwhelming. The first thing I tasted was a heavily egg yolk flavour which I don’t usually like but it was some what masked by the vanilla thick custard. More of a winter warmer comparitively to the panna cotta. It was okay, it was still better than a lot of other desserts that we had tried from other venues.20140410-195712.jpgBetween the two tastings (click here to see my other tasting), I have been very impressed with Broadbean catering. Amazing food, fabulous selection, fast streamlined kitchen practices that could have a room of approximately 130 people served within 10-13 minutes and reputable recommendations. This venue has rated highly on my potential wedding list and I hope the remaining venue can compete with this.

 

Potential wedding venue: National Museum of Australia

Caterer: Broadbean catering

Time of tasting: 3pm

Price of tasting: $40.00 per dish that we chose, although this would be taken off our final invoice if we chose to have our wedding here. Of course we chose three courses for two people so our total was $120.00 pp.

The Wedding Collection – Old Parliament House

With our tasting starting at 2pm this time at Old Parliament House, TimmyC and I had to carefully plan out our meals for the day to ensure that we would be hungry for a three course lunch by then while not having a cranky snappy attitude at work that comes from being hungry.

I had to enquire for Sarah the ‘events coordinator’ at the cafe where I presumed we would be eating. After we were greeted, we were taken to one of the back rooms near the beautiful members lounge that has only recently been open to members of the public. The room was dimly lit with a lot of the light coming from natural sunlight streaming through the doorway. The table was nicely set up with crisp white linen, cutlery for three courses, serving spoons and multiple stacks of plates which we didn’t end up using.


A beautiful day in the Nation’s capital.
20140507-204452.jpgWe were then greeted by Aaron who had previously taken us through the venue during a private viewing as well as during the Old Parliament House bridal expo. He said he would inform the kitchen of our arrival and explained how the chef will coming out to serve each course as well as explain each dish. ‘How lovely’ I whispered to TimmyC.20140507-204500.jpgThe neat and symmetrical ceremony space available for hire at Old Parliament House. It is supposed to be beautiful during Spring with all the roses blooming on the pergola. It is one of the main features that drew me to this venue.20140507-204508.jpgWe were offered beverages but we politely declined and stuck with chilled water. Each course arrived in pairs and instead if being civilized and portioning out each dish to our own plate, TimmyC and I just swapped between the two plates trying both before deciding which dish we would like to end on.

The table all nicely set and we’re ready to go.20140507-204518.jpgEntrees~ The chef Craig introduced himself after presenting us with our entrees, he went into great detail about both dishes and how and why he chose to do the things the way he did. I really enjoyed listening to all the details.

Seared scallop, pumpkin, ginger, fried garlic, bonito crumbs. I’ve never seen scallops this big before. These were apparently Canadian scallops and the chef had chosen them because he believes they are the best scallops you can buy. You could taste the juicy and natural sweetness of the scallops despite the other complimenting ingredients. The pumpkin purée was perfectly smooth although I couldn’t taste the ginger that was supposedly in there. The crispy garlic chips and bonito crumbs added an extra dimension to texture and added the perfect balance of salt.20140507-204532.jpgGrainge beef carpaccio, parmesan, croutons, rocket and snow pea tendrils. I knew I wasn’t going to serve beef carpaccio at my wedding knowing that maybe only 5% or less of the guest list would eat this but I thought during a tasting it would be safe to order to see how they could execute such a dish. TimmyC was unaware that beef carpaccio was thinly sliced raw beef and so he wasn’t too fond of it (he would make up the other 95% of the wedding population) and stuck happily with the scallops. I thought the beef flavour takes a back seat to the salty parmesan cheese, the tasty pure olive oil and capers despite using very high quality of beef. The flavours come together really well and I would happily order this at a restaurant.20140507-204549.jpgA close up of the beautiful components.20140507-204558.jpgMains~ When Craig served our mains, he admitted to us that he loved cooking things in butter and I thought that we could be bestest of friends!

Potato and parmesan gnocchi with wild and cultivated mushroom, spring onion, green asparagus. I am a fan of house made gnocchi, butter AND mushrooms which is why I chose this main. Craig explained the process of how he dried out the potatoes to make the gnocchi before ducking back to the kitchen. These parcels of gnocchi was a lot chewier than what I’m used to. Between the chewiness of the medley of mushrooms and the texture of the pasta, I wasn’t quite sure if I liked it, but the marriage of butter, mushrooms and pasta is always perfect.20140507-215009.jpg20140507-204633.jpgHay smoked Galston chicken breast, corn, confit garlic, baby spinach, rosemary veloute. Frequent readers would know I’m not a fond of ordering chicken as a main so this was clearly TimmyC’s choice. I find serving a tasteless dry piece of breast is too easy to do and I’m disappointed more often than not, but there is always exceptions to the rule and this one was definitely an example of that. Where to start? You could distinctly taste the smokeyness that was the direct result of baking it with smoked hay. The 30 minutes of bathing the chicken in a brine mixture made it moist and juicy. The velouté was amazingly thick rich and had the perfect amount of subtle rosemary. All these key aspects made this THE perfect dish. I was almost ready to put down a deposit right there and then!20140507-204616.jpgIf they could bottle up that veloute I would so buy cases of it!20140507-204626.jpgDesserts~

Mango, blueberry and vanilla ice cream terrine, biscuit and blueberry compote. This terrine seemed simple enough. The flavours worked very well together, it can be made all year round, easy and quick to serve and is a real crowd pleaser but I felt that there wasn’t anything particularly special about it.20140507-204641.jpgCute presentation.20140507-204647.jpgOld Parliament House Signature Cake, Daintree chocolate, praline and raspberry. If you’re going to name something as your ‘signature cake’, I’m going to have high expectations. This 7 layered opera cake uses hazelnut cream rather than the typical coffee butter cream and takes about 3 days to prepare. The chocolate finishing was perfect but I wasn’t too keen on the hazelnut cream and sponge which left me with a sense of dryness that usually comes with stale sponge. The raspberry purée smears were most delectable which broke up the rich flavours of hazelnut and chocolate of the cake but there wasn’t enough to make up for the dryness.20140507-204655.jpgBeautiful fresh raspberries.20140507-204702.jpgSlightly slanted but beautiful layering within the cake.20140507-204709.jpgI couldn’t help but take photos from all angles.20140507-204717.jpgOne last one I promise.20140507-204725.jpgI must say I was very pleasantly surprised with the calibre of food that the Restaurant associates produced for the tasting. The novelty tasty extras that I was keen on getting at this venue would have blown our wedding budget out of proportion but I really love the ceremony space they offered so I gave them a tasting opportunity considering I knew nothing of their food potential and most people still think Ginger catering run the catering side (they have moved to the arboretum). I am so glad that I did! This is going to make decisions much harder.

Comparatively to the National Portrait Gallery, the timing was a faster (but not rushed) pace with more manageable portions of food (even I struggled to eat 6 canapés, 3 entrees, 3 mains, 3 desserts and petit fours with minimal help from my companion at the Portrait Gallery). I particularly loved the personal touch with Craig coming out explaining how he prepared each dish, why he chose certain ingredients, waiting for feedback at the end of the tasting and how he was happy to accommodate to ours tastes and needs.20140507-214953.jpg

 

Potential wedding venue: Old Parliament House

Caterer: Restaurant associates

Time of tasting: 2pm

Price of tasting: $85.00 pp.

The Wedding Collection – The National Portrait Gallery

After contacting and seeing the venue spaces at The National Portrait Gallery, we told them our views on tasting food before deciding on a venue and they were very friendly and open to the idea. They were flexible with the dates (as long as it was a weekday) and organised it rather quickly with no fuss and therefore it was the first venue we had a wedding tasting at. We were invited to choose 6 canapes, 3 entrees, 3 mains and 3 desserts from their menu selection.

The day of the tasting came. We didn’t know what to expect as this was our first official one, but you gotta start somewhere I guess! We were led away from the bustling cafe to a sectioned off area in their Terrace room. Inside was a singular round table with a place setting for two facing the window where we watched kids run past with their parents chasing after them.20140501-210721.jpgCrisp white linen, a fancy napkin ring and the table set for three courses. I guess this helped us to envision our wedding day. We were offered beverages but we politely declined and stuck with chilled water.20140501-210142.jpgCanapes x 6~

They didn’t waste any time bringing out the food. A large board was placed in front of us and I liked the ease of each item being eaten with minimal mess, this is definitely what I look for when looking at canapes for a function (not that I’ve turned down a chicken wing while holding a drink and clutch during a cocktail function).20140501-210732.jpg

20140501-210746.jpgMoroccan spiced chicken tartlet, coriander cress. The tartlet shell seemed a little fragile but it held up when I bit into it. The flavours were very nice and the chicken pieces were the perfect size.20140501-210804.jpgPork belly, apple puree, crackle (gf). I love me so pork belly so I was super keen to try this but I found it really underwhelming and disappointing. The pork was really dry and was on the verge of being pork ‘jerky’, while the apple puree tasted like it came from a can. It was a shame as a good pork belly can be amazing!20140501-210814.jpgA closer look at the dry pork.20140501-210949.jpgSalt & pepper king prawn, lemongrass, chilli dip (gf). The prawn itself was really salty, it wasn’t until I ‘rinsed’ it in the chilli dip that it became easier to eat.20140501-210841.jpg20140501-210934.jpgRoast pumpkin, chives, pine nut tart, harissa (V). TimmyC did not like these flavours at all, I think it was mainly because of the harissa. I didn’t mind it but I didn’t go out of my way to finish the rest of his.20140501-210852.jpg20140501-211003.jpgPoached corn & gruyere croquette, tomato jam (V).  This was one of my more exciting choices from the menu as I love croquettes, corn AND cheese although with this I couldn’t taste the corn nor the cheese. It was more of a tasteless mush with a crispy coating. The tomato jam was lovely and sweet though.20140501-210902.jpgPeking duck pancake, hoisin sauce. I liked the duck pancake, I just thought it was unusual that they had bean sprouts in it.

20140501-231751.jpg20140501-211014.jpgEntree  x3~

Seared Tasmanian scallops, pumpkin, beurre noisette, crisp capers. The pumpkin was amazing with the buttery taste from the beurre noisette and the crispy capers added the perfect amount of salt, I could have licked that plate clean. What would have made it absolutely perfect would be if the scallops were seared just a tad more.

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20140501-211041.jpgCrisp pork belly, beetroot, witlof, coriander cress, merlot vinaigrette (gf v). The pork was more moist then the canapé version but the crackle wasn’t crisp enough and kept getting stuck in my teeth. For something that had such vibrant colour, the beetroot wasn’t overwhelming and complimented the protein rather than overpower it.

20140501-231821.jpgPoached crab, avocado mousse, seared bean sprouts, apple gel (gf). I think I just saw the word ‘crab’ in the description and chose this dish. The crab was served cold but upon reviewing the description I guess it would  be, if I had known this I probably wouldn’t have chosen it. I got a bit of shell in my portion and I couldn’t taste the crab meat but the avocado mousse was very smooth. I don’t see how (again with the apple puree) the apple went with it all, between the puree, mousse and the soft crab mixture, it felt like I was eating baby food.20140501-211125.jpgMain x3~
Pan roast barramundi, bacon lardons, braised savoy, celery cream, puy lentils (gf). I thought that the barramundi was extremely dry and probably would have been better if it was steamed or served with more of a sauce. The lentils didn’t help with the ‘dryness’ either but I did enjoy what little there was of the celery cream. Knowing I had other mains to try and dessert yet to come, I didn’t finish this dish and was really disappointed.20140501-211147.jpgRoast duck breast, pearl barley, pea puree, madeira sauce, pea sprouts. The duck looked delicious with its skin and nice layer of fat but I felt there wasn’t enough salt on the skin or in the meat and I expected more flavours from the skin.20140501-211210.jpgI didn’t really enjoy the pearl barley and pea puree so this is what was left of my plate. I didn’t really enjoy the meat overall, I think I just had the mentality that I paid for the meal so I thought I’d finish it off.20140501-211312.jpgBeef fillet, porcini puree, confit of garlic, pommes anna, port jus (gf).  The steak was cooked perfectly, the porcini ‘puree’ added that extra kick of salt and the potato balanced it all out. You could really taste the flavours of the beef and it was well seasoned. The perfect dish to serve at a wedding as steak is usually a crowd pleaser, if they can do this uniformly across the alternate serve it would be great! 20140501-231806.jpgCooked perfectly, well for me it is anyway.20140501-211241.jpgThey said that during the wedding function that each table would also get a bowl of mixed salad greens. I was too full to get around to eating this but they looked fresh and well oiled.20140501-211253.jpgDessert x3~ Towards the end of the mains, the event sales coordinator informs us that since we had last spoken, the head chef had been moved to another position within the Trippas White Group but the new head chef specializes in desserts and one of her specialties is panna cotta. I couldn’t wait to dig in. When the deserts came out and I returned from the bathroom, I had found that TimmyC took the liberty of ordering me a tea and himself a flat white. I took a deep breath as I looked across three plates of dessert and a selection of petit fours, I could feel myself getting full.

Vanilla bean panna cotta, mango gel, almond tuile (gf available). I nudged the panna cotta with my spoon. It didn’t really move. That can’t be good. The whole thing felt a bit ‘stiff’ and solid. I looked and Tim, we were not impressed (it probably didn’t help that I ate the best panna cotta of my life just days before), I think we stopped eating it when we hit a ‘cyst’ of vanilla beans which looked like they came from a vanilla bean paste rather than from a pod. If this was going to be the chef’s specialty, I wasn’t too keen on try her other desserts.20140501-211331.jpgIt almost had the consistency of softened cream cheese. Not what I look for in a panna cotta and finding this cyst of vanilla beans didn’t help either.20140501-211341.jpgPassion fruit curd tart, compressed pineapple, vanilla cream. I really enjoyed this tart (phew), it had the right amount of tartness balanced with the right amount of sweetness. The tart was on the bigger side but it was delicious enough to devour it all if you didn’t just eat 6 canapes, 1.5 entrees and most of 3 mains. A generous serve but would be delightful especially in the warmer months.20140501-211401.jpgChocolate mousse, chocolate sponge, crispy praline, anglaise (gf). I dislike desserts that are OTT and have so much sugar and chocolate thrown together to make any chocoholic buckle at the knees and give them instant diabetes. Most people don’t finish desserts like that, but this, this I could keep eating. Despite all the chocolate components with the addition of an anglaise, it wasn’t overwhelming which I find very rare in any chocolate-y dessert. A++, would eat again!20140501-211417.jpgTimmy C said that the petit fours looked they came straight from a fridge and he was right. I sampled one and it was stale, dry and tasted like old cake that had been stored in the fridge without cling wrap. I proceeded to taste each one just to make sure I didn’t just choose a bad one but unfortunately they were all the same.20140501-211436.jpg20140501-231838.jpgWe mainly only saw the event sales coordinator during the tasting. She lead us to our table and she brought our food, at no point did we meet any kitchen staff. She was very polite and allowed TimmyC and I to enjoy our food in privacy. When I enquired about payment for the tasting on the day, she said not to worry and that she already had my credit card details and that she would email me in a few days. I thought it was a nice touch as this meant that we really just focused on food for the duration. They allocated 1.5 hrs for this tasting but probably hadn’t encountered anyone that eats as slow as me, for us the duration of the tasting actually took closer to 2.5 hrs. I thought since we had to select so many options that we would just get a ‘tappas’ version of that dish but instead we got 3 entrees, 3 mains and 3 desserts all at the quantity that would be served during a function. Needless to say I was stupidly stuffed after that tasting and if I had worn pants, I probably would have unbutton them on the drive home.

 

Overall, we were pretty disappointed with the food and even though we hadn’t tasted any other venues, it was easy to see that we wouldn’t consider having our wedding at the National Portrait Gallery with the Trippas White Group.

Potential wedding venue: The National Portrait Gallery

Caterer: Trippas White Group

Time of tasting: 1pm

Price of tasting: $75.00 pp. this cost would be deducted from our bill if we chose to book our wedding at this venue.

The Wedding collection – Canapes @ The National Museum of Australia

I wasn’t sure if Skyfire 2014 would go ahead with the looming rain clouds but sure enough, the rain kept away long enough for us to enjoy the night at the National Museum of Australia where Broadbean catering was hosting an elegant cocktail party to enjoy the fireworks with great vantage points.

I was invited to attend this event as a guest of Broadbean catering to sample a wide variety of canapés as they knew I wasn’t going to choose a wedding venue without tasting their food. I had high expectations as they were recommended to me by another blogger (Thanks Bronwyn!)20140316-104102.jpgThe party was being held in the cafe where they have balconies overlooking the lake.20140316-104113.jpgThey had unlimited drinks for the duration of the event as far as I could tell but unfortunately my guest and I stuck with orange juice and soft drink for the night.20140316-104124.jpgThe menu! There were a few things that caught my eye, the thing that made me most excited was the Momofuku pork buns! I like how they have noted the dietary requirements and the variety of food that they had on offer.20140316-104148.jpgI love this decorating idea using green lentils.20140316-104159.jpgThey have a DJ all set up inside but my friend and I headed outside for a better view. It was much cooler due to the wind chill factor but it had a great views of the lake.20140316-104218.jpgFamilies have set up their picnic rugs all around on the grassy area.20140316-104231.jpgPrime positioning meant that I almost fell off my seat when all the jets flew over us.20140316-104244.jpgElegant canapés ~

This is what I was here for! Canapés were trickling through from the kitchen after we were settled down with our drinks.

Fresh fig with goat curd wrapped in jamon. I’m not usually a fan of goat or sheep dairy products but the flavours were rather subtle and didn’t have that ‘dirty’ after taste. Cured meat pairs very well with a sweet fruit, you can ask anyone who has ever eaten sweet rock melon with prosciutto. A great choice for this time of year as figs are delicious!20140316-104258.jpgHomemade chorizo sausage roll with a lime aioli. Photo complete with me snatching one off the tray. Once I took a bite, I vowed to only eat homemade sausage rolls especially those which contain chorizo.20140316-104319.jpgAs delicious as it was, the lime aioli  really made it for me.20140316-104335.jpgRoasted cherry tomato, basil and taleggio tartlets. I couldn’t believe that there was so much deliciousness in one tiny morsel. I was encouraged to take two so one wouldn’t be left oh so lonely on the tray.20140316-104346.jpgHaloumi, chilli and mint cigars with a lemon tahini yoghurt. The flavours of these ingredients work so well together and I was super impressed as they were encased in a perfectly crisp spring roll wrapper. These vegetarian options are just as good, if not better than their meat counterparts.20140316-104356.jpg

20140316-104410.jpgHot and sour prawn skewers with a coriander mayo. I could see how this is one of their more popular canapés. Great flavours on the prawns and even better with the coriander mayo. I had to stop myself from sliding half the tray onto my napkin.20140316-104419.jpg

20140316-104427.jpgPalette cleanser~

Broad bean gelato shot. I was excited yet disappointed at the same time when I received this. Excited because this is an unusual but obvious witty choice of flavour but disappointed because if I’m receiving my palette cleanser that means we were moving onto the substantial canapés without me having tried all the elegant canapés.

I don’t know how many broad beans I have eaten in my life, but apparently not enough to pin point the flavour. There wasn’t an overwhelming ‘bean taste’, it had subtle flavours that would leave you wondering what it was if you hadn’t seen the menu.

Sorry for the poor photo, another downside of sitting outside in the cold.20140316-104520.jpg

Substantial canapes~

Momofuku steamed pork buns. I stared at the waiter from afar, some how trying to wield him to come in my direction using telepathy. He eventually comes over and before he tells me what it was, I excitedly ask for one. The bun is super soft with the right amount of sweetness, the pork is layered with fat sandwiching the tender meat which melts in your mouth. There is a bit of chilli flavour in there with cucumber where I would usually expect kewpie mayonnaise and ice berg lettuce, but it comes as a pleasant surprise.20140316-104442.jpgI must admit while everyone was admiring the fireworks and taking lots of photos, I was in the back leaning towards the interior light to get a better shot of my bourguignonne. As good as the fireworks were, my main reason for being there was for the food.20140316-104541.jpgWaygu beef bourguignonne on a creamy mash. The beef was exceptionally tender and it was the perfect Winter warmer food. Comparatively to the rest of the menu of the night, there was nothing special about this dish albeit it was executed very well.20140316-104449.jpgCrumbed fish, tomato and chipotle salsa taco cup with bajar sauce. I didn’t want to miss out on another dish having seen the people seated inside with multiple mains and I could see dessert was being served, so I asked one of the friendly staff to see if there were any still available. He was able to grab the last one for my friend and I to share. The salsa was really good and the fish was crumbed very well giving it a really good crispy coating. This was a bit hard to eat in a taco shell, when I went to break it in halves, bits went flying in all directions.20140316-104555.jpgSomething sweet~

Eton “mess” of passionfruit curd, forrest berries and macadamia praline. Not overly sweet, natural fruit flavours and a variety of textures, everything I look for in a dessert. I particularly liked the praline.20140316-104603.jpg

20140316-104615.jpg I was super impressed with the canapés that we were able to sample. It was a shame that we weren’t able to sample everything based on where we sat for the evening but everything we did taste, we thoroughly enjoyed.

I thought it was going to be hard to compare other venues to Broadbean considering we weren’t comparing ‘apples with apples’ and Timmy C wasn’t able to join me for the event so we later arranged a proper tasting at the National Museum so it was easier to compare (blog post soon to follow).

Potential wedding venue: The National Museum of Australia

Caterer: Broadbean catering

Price of tasting: I was invited as a guest of Broadbean catering to attend their Skyfire event at the National Museum of Australia as a bride-to-be and not as a food blogger. They did not know I was a blogger at the time of this event, they just thought I was a very big foodie. Tickets for this event was $85.00 pp.

 

The Wedding collection – Grazing

This wasn’t really a proper tasting, I know Grazing (see my previous post here) has always offered fabulous food. I really came out here to look at the garden space and ‘the Stone room’ which was purpose built facility for functions for up to 140 guests, but I did use this trip as an excuse to eat out here again.

The room as well as the garden was beautifully decorated for a wedding later that day but I didn’t want to photograph someone else’s big day and intrude so I was here to focus on the food that is being offered. It must be a popular venue because the day we went, there were several tastings* and also what appeared to be a booked out lunch session.

*Tastings are usually included when you book a venue held 6 weeks out from the big day to taste the seasonal menu which is likely to be available during the time of your wedding, I’m just tasting food at venues to see the calibre of food before I book a venue.

Let’s get started!20140309-201422.jpgBread freshly baked seeded rye bread with ‘La Barre’ blood plum finishing vinegar and Yass olive oil ($2.50 each). I thought the bread was too seedy and a bit dry for me, it needed a lot of oil and we didn’t get much to start off with but I wasn’t too shy to ask for more.20140309-201433.jpgEntrees~ all entrees are $17.00

Rabbit pulled tarlet with radicchio, cauliflower and pickled eggplant.20140309-201453.jpgPork Belly 18 hour slow cooked pork belly with braised fennel, salted grapes and apple.20140309-201504.jpg

20140309-201533.jpgSeafood Medley brandade veloute with scallop boudin, king fish, smoked trout, south coast oyster fritter and watercress. With so many components on the dish I didn’t know where to begin so I just chose a section and moved clock wise. Deep fried oysters, that is where it’s at! I loved the flavours and the contrasting flavours of the crispy exterior with the squishyness of the oyster. The veloute added a rich thick creamy smokey flavour to everything I dabbed in it. The king fish and the smoked trout had amazing salty smoky flavours, the only thing I was unsure about was the scallop boudin.20140309-201547.jpgI was trying to get as much of the veloute out with my fork as I could, it was so good.20140309-201609.jpgOyster fritter was so fabulous.20140309-201635.jpg20140309-201645.jpgMains~ all mains are $33.00

Duck confit of duck shank with beetroot and almond pesto, duck breast and pork parcel.20140309-201822.jpgChicken rolled and roasted chicken with quinoa, pumpkin and fried zucchini blossom.20140309-201711.jpgPie the ‘Grazing Pie’- Snapper, scallop and mussel pie with champagne creamed leek and potato mash. I’ve been told to try the pies at Grazing and I can now see why. The pastry is so perfectly flaky with a beautiful golden brown colour encasing a deliciously creamy centre. The only thing to note is that because the filling is so rich and it is sitting on a bed of creamed leek and potato mash, it made the whole dish very very filling.20140309-201749.jpg20140309-201808.jpgBeef fillet of beef on wilted greens with potato galette and caramelised eschalot jus. A perfectly cooked piece of steak that I would happily serve at my wedding as an easy crowd pleaser.20140309-201841.jpgDessert~ all desserts are $16.00

Chocolate mousse Belgium dark chocolate mousse tart with stone fruit and micro coriander.20140309-201852.jpgPanna cotta popcorn and malt flavoured panna cotta with fresh fig, cinnamon ice cream and pistachio. I found this dessert to be rather refreshing despite all the different sweet elements on the dish. Nothing was OTT and over powering and the flavours went well together. Nothing beats a fresh fig!20140309-201905.jpgPeach tarte tatin almond infused house made puff pastry and peach tart with honey & vanilla syrup and vanilla bean ice cream (allow 20 minutes). This was worth the 20 minute wait, the tarte tatin was beautifully caramelised on the top and was balanced out by the vanilla bean ice cream.20140309-201931.jpgCaramel and salted peanuts frozen caramel and salted peanut butter custard with chocolate parfait and crushed bitter chocolate.20140309-202008.jpgI left feeling pretty full after eating the creamy filling and all the pastry I had with my main but other diners who just had protein with some vegetables were not so satisfied. When we browsed the wedding set up, I had noticed that some of the lunch options were on the wedding menu and was convinced that the wedding guests were going to love their meal.

I had considered Grazing out in Gundaroo as a wedding venue but decided against it after the logistics of getting everyone out there (yes I did consider hiring a bus to and from the venue) considering a lot of my guests will be from interstate. If this isn’t a problem for you, I wouldn’t hesitate recommending this venue for your special day.

Don’t forget, it’s in the Entertainment book if you’re just coming out here for dinner or a lunch.

 

The Wedding Collection

Watching my friends get married one by one has been a beautiful sight to witness; two people who love each other, declaring it to the world and starting their life as a married couple by celebrating their happiness surrounded by friends, family and of course good food. However, watching my friends one by one getting stressed out and have nervous breakdowns while planning for their big day, knowing I’m inevitably planning my wedding, made me feel like I was the next kid in line for an injection. It’s all fun and giggles until you’re next and you’re staring into the face of what could be your future.

Yeah, that kid next in line is not laughing. My mind starts to drift. I know what kind of bouquet I want, I have some table decoration ideas and I know that I want a photo booth but to TimmyC these things are superfluous until I tentatively organise three things:

  1. A guest list
  2. A date
  3. A venue

I start making an Excel spreadsheet for the guest list. How many people could I possibly know anyway? 10…20…50? Apparently around the 130 mark. I am shocked but relieved, that’s one thing ticked off the list and that wasn’t so hard.

What’s next? The date. Well we wouldn’t have cared if it was during a Canberra Winter but I doubt that our interstate guests would appreciate that, maybe during the next financial year around October and March as they have more tolerable temperatures, but really it might come down to venue availability and we are pretty flexible.

The last thing is… Venue. Well that’s where things get a little trickier.

To cut a long story short, I think I’ve narrowed it down to having here in Canberra but I did consider Sydney, Bowral (so gorgeous there), the Hunter Valley (very lovely there too) or Santorini (it’s still my plan B if A is too hard). Hmmm but where to go in Canberra?

Well this is where ‘The Wedding collection’ posts and my research has led me. Over the next few weeks I will look at various places for potential wedding venues with an emphasis on tasting their food to gauge their standard, as a lot of the catering companies that I have come across were established in Sydney or Melbourne, it was hard to get a proper review of their catering abilities in Canberra. At no point did I tell them I was a food blogger, I just emphasised that food wa a very important factor.