A friend of mine loved desserts so much he decided to have three courses of desserts at a fine dining restaurant, whilst everyone else went with the usual entree, main and sweets.
The hardest thing, he said, was deciding the order in which to have his desserts. Start with fruity and end with rich, or save the fruit desserts as a final palate cleanser?
Tomislav Martinovic has come up with an even better solution: Just Desserts ($125), a reverse seven-course dinner that starts with five sweets and concludes with savouries. A joint collaboration with Chris The of Black Star Pastry, this SIFF event ran for a limited two nights only, and was the promise of sugar was irresistible for a booking of food blogging sweet tooths.
Delamotte champagne and violet granite
Our evening gets underway with the impressive arrival of test tubes, one containing Delamotte champagne, the other holding shavings of violet granita. We pour the champagne over the violet granita and watch the granita gently dissolve, forcing the violet petals to gently float upward with grace. It's sweet, refreshing and elegant - and drinking from a test-tube is addictive fun.
Grilled strawberries with mint and white chocolate
Large tiles of grey slate are the dramatic backdrop for our next dish, a scattered landscape of grilled strawberries in ruby red, against the powdery snow of white chocolate and mint. The snow -- presumably made in a Pacojet due to its delicate crystal size -- melts on the tongue in an instant.
Goats curd cheesecake with elderflower and pistachio
Goats curd cheesecake is also plated beautifully, surrounded by wafer-thin slices of seedless grapes, cubes of elderflower jelly and a smattering of pistachio crumbs. We dig into the dome of dairy to find a core of goats cheese mousse topped with a lighter fluffier goats cheese foam. The tang of goats curd is not overly strong, tempered in part by the use of lemon balm which provides a backnote of citrus leaf.
Caramel ice cream with toasted peanuts
We all break into childlike grins at the arrival of the caramel ice creams, our waitress amenable to our request to set the stand on the table for photos. "You'll have to be quick though, because we need the stands for other diners," she apologises. She later tells us that there are only 20 slate plates in the kitchen, requiring a rapid cycle of washing and drying to accommodate the full house of diners mostly on the same menu. "We put them under the heat lamps to dry," she reveals.
Caramel ice cream
As I gently nibble at the top of my cone, my moment of contemplation is cut short by an inadvertent "Oh!" of shock. I've only just discovered the pop rocks scattered generously on its surface, and its pop and crackle had hit me with a start. I take my time to relish the explosive reaction of pop rocks on my tongue, a flashback to earlier days of Bullrush, scabby knees and Heads Down, Thumbs Up.
The caramel ice cream is smooth and silky, and I'm impressed by the durability of the thin scroll of hazelnut cone. It's my favourite course of the night.
Warm chocolate mousse with olive oil and sea salt
Warm chocolate mousse is probably the most intriguing, a glossy bitter concoction that is notably salty and served with a streak of rosemary olive oil. A quenelle of mulberry sorbet provides a berry sweetness, but I'm most fascinated by the horseradish snow that is deliciously sinus-clearing. It's a challenging mix of flavours, although I do appreciate the innovation of the horseradish snow.
Beef mince pie with grilled onions and tomato sauce
As our sugar levels hit a new high, it's almost a relief when we encounter the savoury course. The smell is incredible - a heady aroma of buttery pastry and gravy-braised meat.
The meat pie is served in a towering column made from a single strip of coiled pastry that has been baked to a crisp. It shatters with a loud crunch, revealing a core of beef mince that sits in a thick gravy that is perhaps a touch too salty. Tomato sauce comes in the form of tomato snow, its icy temperature contrasting with the piping hot pie. Baby onions have been halved and roasted to a melting sweetness.
Rice crackers with sea salt and vinegar
Our final course is Tomislav's famous rice crackers, sheets of rice paper brushed with egg white and deep-fried to a gossamer lightness. We use the accompanying atomiser spray of vinegar to spritz each cracker, and while this is usually served as a starter, I find the vinegar in this dish provides a welcome palate cleanser.
Plating in the kitchen - Tomislav is the shadowy figure on the left
Takeaway box by Black Star Pastry
We're sent home with a takeaway box of treats from Black Star Pastry, an adult party bag that includes a white chocolate and rose buttercream macaron; a lemon tart; a Persian fig, quince and orange cake; and my favourite - the chewy egginess of the canele, a specialty from Bordeaux.
I tend to find the caneles at Black Star are on the under-baked side for my liking, with a centre that is devoid of bubbles and has set to a solid. The outside is the best bit anyway, its caramelised crust dense, sweet and chewy.
And even though we started with dessert for dinner, it's reassuring to see that even after a reverse order of savouries, there's still something sweet for us to nibble on the journey home.
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Tomislav, Darlinghurst (Aug10)
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10/24/2010 01:59:00 a.m.