"I didn't realise there would be so many women."
I feel a little sorry for the lone male at our table during a tea-gustation at L'etoile. As women in floaty summer dresses and strappy heels stream into the outdoor tiered deck area of L'etoile, the hapless husband maintains he thought he'd be enjoying a champagne tasting.
Whilst there is a glass of
Ahhh... now I have your attention.
The mercury hit 41C in Sydney yesterday, and as guests entered the cool confines of the restaurant, there was a moment of despair when we realised we were being shepherded to the deck outdoors, beneath a shadecloth but nevertheless hot and still and shimmering in the high 30s.
Canape #1: Gravalax in cucumber rounds
Rounds of cucumber filled with salmon gravalax offered a cool respite.
Vegetarian canape #1: White asparagus tip with tomato
Canape #2: Scallop boudin in crab bisque with salmon roe
Scallop boudin, one of Manu's signature dishes, was also a highlight, the soft creaminess of scallop amplified by an intense puddle of crab bisque offset by the satisfying pop of plump and glossy salmon roe.
Vegetarian canape #2: Mushroom on toast
Yannick Besnard, co-owner of L'etoile
Yannick Besnard, co-owner of L'etoile, was entrusted with regretfully advising that Manu Feildel was unable to attend, caught up in a My Kitchen Rules filming delay in Perth. The men were non-plussed. The women may have silently wept. I may have been one of them.
Tea leaves for tasting:
1. Kings Lynn green tea ungraded
2. Lumbini Estate FBOP ex sp
3. Greenfields Estate OP1
4. Lumbini Estate Golden Tips
We were soon distracted with the main business at hand, sampling a variety of teas through a process known as "tea cupping".
The special cup for tea cupping
This process involves steeping a reasonably strong cup of tea for a set number of minutes (each table was provided with a kitchen timer) which is drained into a bowl for tasting.
Draining the tea cup sideways into the tasting bowl
A rounded spoon is used to tasting the brewed tea, first coating the tongue with the tea, and then slurping another spoonful loudly, just as in wine-tasting, to aerate and amplify the flavours.
Adriano Zumbo pouring syrup
In the kitchen, Adriano Zumbo and his team were plating up the dessert which would be paired with our tea.
Adriano Zumbo pipes on cream
Tea #1: Kings Lynn green tea ungraded
Scones with jam and cream deconstructed
The Kings Lynn green tea was an ungraded tea used as a neutral starting point. Mild in flavour with light tannins, this was paired with Zumbo's deconstructed scones with jam and cream.
Crunchy biscuit islands surrounded a lighter-than-air mound of cream in a deep-red lake of syrup. The black and tan crumbs were Pop Rocks, explosive crystals of carbonated sugar that popped and sizzled on the tongue.
Adrian Zumbo begins plating dessert #2
Adriano Zumbo adding the tea ice cream
Dessert #2 goes out
Tea #2: Lumbini Estate FBOP ex sp
Cucumber and mint jelly brioche sandwiches with tea, lemon and honey
Our second tea was the Lumbini Estate FBOP ex sp, a rare tea that apparently retails for $1,000/kg. This tea had a lovely caramel colour with notes of malt and molasses. It was paired with cucumber and mint jelly brioche sandwiches, a playful take on the traditional cucumber crustless sandwiches.
A scoop of tea ice cream rested on a slick of lemon curd alongside a flourish of honey foam. Tiny shortbread squares added crunch.
Afternoon tea revellers include Martin Boetz of Longrain
Tea #3: Greenfields Estate OP1
Paired with lychee rose, raspberry, avocado, celery leaves,
micro coriander and tea granita
Our third tea was the Greenfields Estate OP1 which is expected to retail at about $800/kg. Zumbo's macarons made an appearance at last, and this dessert was probably my favourite of the day.
A macaron half (surely flavoured with coriander?) rested on a mound of avocado cream in a slush of lychee and rose granita. Celery leaves and micro coriander seemed to play off well against the lychee, and I quite enjoyed experimenting with different combination of flavours and textures on the plate.
Adriano Zumbo focussed in the kitchen
Plating up dessert #4
Tea #4: Lumbini Estate Golden Tips
Peaches and tea, caramel popcorn and basil agar
We concluded the afternoon with a brew of Lumbini Estate Golden Tips, a delicate sweet tea with the flavour of currants and muscatels. The final dessert was a trio of flavours: peaches and tea topped with basil agar, a curl of raspberry sorbet dusted with raspberry sherbet and a streak of thick, sticky caramel studded with popcorn.
Nathan Wakeford of Somage Fine Foods thanks Adriano Zumbo
Somage presents Adriano Zumbo and Manu Feildel was held at L'etoile on November 22, 2009. The tea-gustation event cost $95.
Grab Your Fork attended as a guest of Adriano Zumbo Patisserie with thanks to Melissa for the invitation.
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L'etoile Restaurant and Bar
211 Glenmore Road, Paddington, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9332 1557
Lunch: Monday to Friday 12pm-3pm
Dinner: Monday to Sunday 6pm-11pm
Related GrabYourFork posts:
Adrian Zumbo Macaron Day flavour list (Oct09)
Adriano Zumbo Patissier, Balmain ( May09) , (Jan09) and (Nov08)
Adriano Zumbo Cafe Chocolat, Balmain (Nov08)
Grab Your Fork Scanpan Classic Roaster winners:
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11/23/2009 02:42:00 am