Vittoria Coffee presents an evening with Alain Ducasse

September 8, 2006 - This week in Sydney I enjoyed possibly the most exquisite meal I have ever had.   It was a truly stellar occasion from the NV Veuve Clicquot and tiny crab sandwiches offered pre-dinner through to the coffee at the end.

Pat Churchill with Alain DucasseHere was a roomful of some of the most keenly developed palates in the business – chefs who have earned one, two and three hats, the local equivalent of Michelin Stars. The sort of people who don't get invited round home for dinner.

The Vittoria Coffee people had the simple answer to that. They presented an evening with the French luminary, Alain Ducasse, winner of multiple Michelin stars over his several restaurants. And Ducasse’s menu didn’t disappoint.

An exquisite meal demands a gorgeous venue so Guillaume at Bennelong was chosen. This restaurant is situated in the Sydney Opera House building at Bennelong Point with the beautiful harbour out the large windows reflecting back the sparkling lights of the city buildings and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The magic had already started.

Amuse bouche

The first offering was an amuse bouche, Bar marine a cru, caviar de France - three small cubes of raw sea bass topped with French caviar artfully presented with a drizzle interspersed with individual capers and a green chiffonnade. This was paired with more of the Veuve Clicquot.

Entree 1

Two entrees were served – the first was Ecrevisses yabbies, legumes d’un minestrone, nage reduite legerement cremee. Two yabbies crowned the layered offering of small-diced vegetable minestrone under a creamy reduction of poaching liquid. This was accompanied by 2006 Polish Hill Riesling from Clare Valley in South Austraia.

Entree 2

Then we were presented with Asparagus vertes d’ici en fine royale, jus perle. This was a magnificent two-layered dish featuring a smooth creamy, custardy asparagus base topped with truffle extravagance and garnished with local green asparagus, lower stalks shaved.

Entree 2 - second layer revealed

It was stunning to look at and as the spoon scraped across the black surface, the pale green layer emerged. We weren’t going to waste one speck of truffle and the waiters did the rounds with more bread to mop up the morsels. A 2004 TarraWarra Chardonnay from Victoria’s Yarra Valley helped us reflect on the magnificence of what we had just consumed.

Plat Principal

Next came the plat principal or main course of Canon d’agneau roti, legumes de printemps au sautoir, jus d’un navarin. It was a deliciously melting piece of roast lamb with sautéed spring vegetables and a well flavoured jus. The food spoke for itself and was enhanced by a 2003 TarraWarra Pinot Noir, again from the Yarra Valley.

Dessert 1

Dessert 1 - under the lid

Dessert. The first was Callison, glace aux framboises et citron vert. This concoction featured raspberry ice on a biscuit base,  and an exquisite arrangement of biscuit with creamy lime, topped with fresh raspberries and puree under a delicate little lid.

Dessert 2

What could crown this? A regal Louis XV au croustillant de pralin with a pleated fan of chocolate and a shimmer of gold leaf. These ethereal beauties were matched with a 12-year Stanton and Killeen Tokay from Rutherglen in Victoria.

A nice strong shot of Vittoria Coffee’s “five star” Cinque Stelle blend certainly capped the night of the culinary stars.

The finishing touches - Chef Ducasse attends to the detail on the main course.
At right is Guillaume Brahimi.

Alain Ducasse and his culinary team, along with restaurant owner Guillaume Brahimi, a three-star Michelin trained French chef himself, took the stage for an enthusiastic round of acclamation. With so many talented chefs enjoying a big night out, this was definitely the place to have dinner that night.

Pat Churchill and Alain Ducasse
Alain Ducasse autographs my menu while I call up some rusty schoolgirl French.




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