Black olive biscotti with whipped goats' curd
I am in love.
His name is Butter and he likes to be whipped.
Like so many great things in life, he's not an attention seeker but tucked away quietly in the corner. He's not even listed on our dinner menu tonight at Bécasse
, the inaugural monthly Cellar Night where patrons can bring their own bottle of wine to dinner for waived corkage.
The Cellar Night an opportunity for diners to bring their favourite drop but also a chance to perhaps dust off a special bottle from the cellar, ones that are saved for celebrations but rarely able to be brought along and savoured in fine dining restaurants. Half the fun is matching a wine to the five course menu, details of which are advised in advance.
We start proceedings with a canape of wafer-thin black olive biscotti, the salty garnish of finely diced olive tempered by a wispy mound of light and airy tangy goats' curd.
Freshly baked Becasse smoked bacon and onion bread
with whipped smoked butter and
herb-infused olive oil with volcanic salt
An in-house baked bread roll is served warm, stuffed generously with smoked bacon and caramelised onion and closed into a rustic pocket. Herb-infused olive oil is served as a soft but distinct cube, set using xanthan gum, and dusted with small flecks of black volcanic salt.
I turn my attention to the other saucer, and that's when I meet him. Mr Quenelle of Whipped Butter. Beaten and aerated, the butter is the colour of cotton, and just as soft. The butter is light, smoky in undertone, and dusted with the faintest sprinkle of salt. Eating it on the bread is a waste. I savour it on its own, shamelessly closing my eyes to relish its every nuance.
"Would you like more bread?" our perfectly tailored waitress asks, when she notices our empty plate.
"I just want more of that butter!" I say, half-joking but with a look of intent in my eye. She hustles away smiling, returning quickly with more.
Marinated tuna with chilled Mediterranean consomme and prosciutto
Marinated tuna arrives next, velvety smooth and served with a quivering pile of Mediterranean consomme, chilled to a jelly-like consistency. Delicate strips of prosciutto nestle beneath a cascade of golden crumbs.
Confit blue eye with roasted prawns, cauliflower and salted buckwheat
Confit of blue eye
is a beautiful plate to look at, a visually pleasing path of colours and textures that starts and ends with a hillock of blissfully smooth and creamy cauliflower puree. Meandering my way through the splay of micro leaves and the hopscotch of miso sauce, I take my time to enjoy the confit blue eye, the elegant crumbed roasted prawns, and the gravel of salted buckwheat. Tiny blocks of compressed cucumber - compacted using a cryovac machine - have a crunchy sweetness more akin to celery.
Cepe royale with seared scallop and caramelised veal tongue
We sink our forks effortlessly into the cepe royale
, a mushroom mousse that sits on two thin slices of veal tongue. Turrets of roasted parsnip stand by seared scallop halves. The veal tongue is the most intriguing item, sliced vertically so the natural curl of the tongue is neither disguised nor scorned.
Caramelised pork hock with forgotten vegetables and cedar smoked potatoes
Our final savoury dish is hearty but humble, thick cuts of caramelised pork hock served with what head chef and co-owner Justin North says are forgotten vegetables. Chunks of swede, kumera sweet potato and kohlrabi are a tribute to the vegetables of his childhood, and ones that should be remembered more often.
Curls of pork crackling shatter on impact, and we relish the accompanying serve of cedar-smoked confit potatoes.
Old Telegraph Road cheese selection
with sugared walnuts and fig preserve
A platter of Old Telegraph Road cheeses prepares our palate for dessert, a trio of creamy brie, a Fire Engine Red washed rind that is particularly pungent, and a triangle of Sapphire Blue. The saltiness of the blue is brilliant with the sugared walnuts -- fresh and crisp -- and the splodge of sweet fig preserve.
Twice baked quince souffle
with spiced anglaise, candied orange and vanilla ice cream
If there's one thing I've noticed about Becasse is that they never skimp on dessert. The twice baked quince souffle is a sunbaked dome that looks more like a puffy baked Taiwanese bread. Its texture is anything but, the golden hued dessert offering little resistance to our eagerly clutched forks.
The souffle tastes of comforting custard yet is superbly light and airy, as though a bread-and-butter-pudding has been injected with helium. Soft-baked quince, candied citrus and fresh mint leaves add sparks of colour and flavour. A scoop of vanilla ice cream is seductively smooth.
Petit fours: Pear jube; vanilla bean and chocolate ganache macaron; carrot cake
Petit fours accompany our tea and coffee. Little morsels of carrot cake are topped with cream cheese icing, macarons are sweet and delicate, although perhaps a little too generous with chocolate ganache.
Pear jubes are the surprising highlight, soft-set jellies that are fruity and a little tart, our teeth crunching against the granulated sugar coating.
It's surprising how a small plate of petit fours can bring forth such a wide smile. But the whipped butter? He brings an even bigger grin.
The next Bécasse cellar night will be held on Tuesday 3 August 2010 and costs $150 per person (includes first bottle corkage per person).
- Bécasse Artisan Bread
- Amuse bouche of citrus marinated bonito salad of braised octopus
- Bone marrow custard, smoked eel and prosciutto
- Fresh black truffle risotto, Jerusalem artichoke and mushroom
- Braised ballottine of organic wagyu beef shin with smashed carrots and Swede
- Truffle brie and candied quince
- Chocolate, chestnut and vanilla mont blanc, caramel and date purée, coconut ice cream
Grab Your Fork dined as a guest of Bécasse
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204 Clarence Street, Sydney
Becasse has moved to Level 5, Westfield Sydney
(between Market and Druitt)
Tel: +61 (02) 9283 3440
Lunch: Monday to Friday lunch 12.00pm – 2.30pm
Dinner: Monday to Saturday 6.00pm – 10.30pm
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