After a day of eating and drinking in Western Australia’s beautiful South West, we return to Wyndham Resort Dunsborough for a degustation dinner at Toby’s Restaurant.
Cooking this special meal are guest chef Richard Ousby, 2011 Electrolux Young Chef of the Year and sous chef from Quay Restaurant in Sydney, and Toby’s Executive Chef Colin Lyttle. The menu will showcase the produce of the Margaret River region matched with local wines from Howard Park‘s Allegory and Madfish Sideways ranges.
Earlier, I watched Colin deftly wrapping anchovies around caper berries, then rolling sheets of roasted red capsicum lasagne. Richard was up early this morning foraging at the beach for sea herbs to use in a dish he calls “Tongue in Cheek”. Both chefs have a deep respect for local producers and using seasonal, locally grown ingredients, and they’ve enjoyed creating tonight’s menu. Talking with the chefs and knowing hints of what’s to come has filled me with anticipation.
The first course is by Colin, featuring locally grown olives. The dish is chilled lasagne of roasted red capsicum and baby spinach with South West olive tapenade, creamed goat cheese and mild blue cheese. The miniature lasagne looks like a savoury mille feuille and although I’m not a fan of olives, the flavours and textures work brilliantly. The pickled caper berry wrapped with anchony is a salty-sour delight. As a starter, it does the job superbly – my appetite is awakened and I want more.
The second course is also by Colin: pink snapper with local marron, sweet snow peas and seafood bisque. The sweet, delicate seafood and rich bisque are a spectacular combination. A wedge of fresh lime is garnished with charred finely shredded eggplant skin. A section of locally grown finger lime gives bursts of fresh citrus. I would lick every last drop of bisque off my plate if I was alone. I’m pretty sure the look on my face gives my thoughts away.
Colin has prepared two frozen palate cleansers for the meal – this is the first, lemongrass sorbet served in an espresso cup. It’s fragrant, zesty and fresh.
Next, Richard’s Tongue in Cheek dish, carefully crafted to tantalise the senses. The Quay influence is evident in the intricate, artistic plating of the dish, which is garnished with the sea herbs picked off the sand dunes this morning. The crepe paper-thin potato crisps are lifted to reveal the braised beef tongue and pork cheek sitting on creamy smoked potato mash. The beef and pork are achingly tender, thanks to an overnight braising done sous vide. If you didn’t know it was tongue, you would simply think this was the poshest piece of corned beef you’d ever eaten.
As soon as I read the menu I know the next dish won’t be to my taste: 3-hour oven roasted Margaret River venison rump with black pudding, beetroot, plums and seared kale. I’m not a fan of black pudding nor beetroot. But my personal rule for eating is to try everything placed before me. Richard tells us he made the black pudding using pig’s blood, pig fat, chocolate, shallots, garlic, Pedro Ximénez sherry and 85% chocolate. This would be a fabulous dish for a True Blood/vampire theme dinner, not only for the blood pudding but for the beetroot streaks left on the plate as we slice the tender venison.
Before dessert, the second of Colin’s frozen palate cleansers, a refreshing pomegranate granita served in chilled champagne glasses.
Dessert is by Richard, a plate of citrus rubble with crumbled orange gateau, chunks of mandarin parfait, jammy kumquats confit, vanilla cream, sticky toffee shards, and tiny meringue kisses. It’s not all sweet – the orange gateau has a bitter tinge reminiscent of peel.
Our MC for the evening is Rolf Bucher, General Manager of Wyndham Resort Dunsborough, who keeps us charmed and smiling. Michael Whyte from Howard Park Wines introduces each of the wines.
We finish the meal with local coffee by Yahava and housemade triple chocolate cookies. With the fire crackling in the corner, lots of stories, laughter, giveaways between courses (one lucky diner wins a stay at the resort) and exquisite food and wine, it’s been a ripper of an evening.
Which of the courses most appeal to you?
Tomorrow morning, something very different – a bush tucker tour.
The Celebration Dinner event was held on 18 May 2012. TFP stayed at the Wyndham Resort Dunsborough and dined at Toby’s Restaurant as a guest of Wyndham Resort Group Asia Pacific.
Wyndham Resort Dunsborough
700 Caves Road, Marybrook
Dunsborough WA 6281
Telephone: +61 8 9756 9777
Toby’s Restaurant is open 7 days for breakfast and Wednesday to Sunday for dinner
Howard Park Wines
Cowaramup WA 6284
Telephone: (08) 9756 5200
Open 10am to 5pm, 7 days a week
Open 12pm to 5pm on Anzac Day
Closed on Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day
Electrolux Appetite for Excellence
A national awards program for young hospitality professionals. Richard Ousby was the 2011 Young Chef of the Year. The 2012 finalists have recently been announced; judging takes place over July, with the winners of Young Chef, Waiter and Restaurateur of the Year announced in August.
On 23 June, Richard will be cooking at the S.Pellegrino Cooking Cup in Venice, Italy, shopping at the famous Rialto Markets for fresh produce before boarding the yacht to represent Australia against 10 other countries in a prestigious and gruelling cooking competition on the water, part of a unique sailing regatta. Good luck, Richard!