#navbar-iframe { display: none; }

« Home | New World Supermarket, Wellington, New Zealand » | Steel Bar & Grill, Sydney » | Hippopotamus Restaurant at the Museum Hotel, Welli... » | Schoc Chocolates at Ciocco Chocolaterie, Wellingt... » | The Weta Cave and Cafe Polo, Miramar, Wellington, ... » | Floriditas, Wellington, New Zealand » | Dixon St Deli, Wellington, New Zealand » | The Ambeli, Wellington, New Zealand » | Wellington on a Plate food festival 2009 » | Adora Handmade Chocolates, Earlwood »

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Becasse, Sydney - Spring Dinner with Champagne (CLOSED)

EDIT: Becasse has closed

It's a green carpet entrance.

As I approach the doorway to Bécasse, I hesitate, for in my way is a shallow bed of grassy turf. It's cut to a doormat-size, but positioned sideways so it runs like a small hall-runner. A little voice inside me shouts "KEEP OFF THE GRASS" but there's no other way around and that's when I realise we're meant to walk on the grass, a tongue-in-cheek start to Bécasse's celebration of spring dinner in collaboration with the Champagne Bureau.

The soil gives way a little underfoot, and I can almost hear the squeak of new blades of grass as I step across the threshold. Within seconds I have a glass of champagne in one hand as I join the growing throng of guests inside.

Canapes: Coffin Bay Pacific oysters with watercress and champagne jelly
served with Champagne Henriot - Blanc Souverain NV

It doesn't take me long to find the canapes, the waitstaff patiently circling the room with freshly opened Coffin Bay Pacific oysters, plump and sweet and salty and briney. They're exquisitely reminiscent of the sea, topped with a wobble of champagne jelly and a spray of gently peppery watercress.

There's a sea of unfamiliar faces until I realise I spy Matt Preston. And Adriano Zumbo. And Mark Best. And Lyndey Milan. I'm pretty sure I'm the only food blogger here. Then I meet the warm and effusive Indira Naidoo, and she says "You're a food blogger? Oh I have a food blog too."

Indira's food blog? Saucy Onion. "I wanted a name that was sexy and something to do with food." I love it. She says her aim is to grow 25 different herbs and vegetables on her balcony garden. Make sure you check it out.

Spencer Gulf prawn toast with a salad of wild abalone
served with Champagne Lanson Gold Label Brut Vintage 1998

We're encouraged to take our places and I find myself seated next to Joanna Savill, who sits next to Simon Thomsen. Across the table from me is Mark Best. Oh yes, please, I will have more champagne. Thank you.

We nibble on miniature sourdough breads baked in-house before we're served an amuse bouche of Spencer Gulf prawn toast. The crisp tile is all crunch from the toast and the sesame seeds against a pillow of soft sweet prawn. Splayed across the other side of the plate is a salad of wild abalone, the wafer thin ribbons of abalone impressively tender with a slippery soft chewiness that is satisfyingly so.

Butter poached Southern Rock lobster
with seared Coffin Bay scallops and lobster jelly
served with Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut 1998

The parade of champagnes are each served in a different shaped glass, an amazing collection of vintages that thrill and entertain the palate. There's a wonderful sense of celebratory whimsy when drinking champagne, its lightness and fizz adding a skipping step to each bite of your meal.

The plating of the butter poached Southern Rock lobster course is like suddenly finding a field in bloom. We skip through the buttery and tender parcels of lobster, the fat and juicy Coffin Bay scallops and come to rest at the quivering huddle of lobster jelly, made from using the leftover lobster shells, co-owner and head chef Justin North explains.

Southern Blue Fin tuna with jamon iberico,
sherry gel, pork crackling and smoked oil
served with Duval Leroy Femme de Champagne 1995

The Southern Blue Fin tuna is special indeed. As Justin explains, most of the best parts of the tuna are immediately exported for overseas consumption. Our plates hold a trio of choice tuna cuts, the ruby red akami (from the sides of the fish), the chutoro (in the belly area between the akami and the otoro) and the otoro, the fattiest part of the belly, or as Justin analogises, the wagyu equivalent in tuna.

I build my way up, starting with the firm akami and finishing with the otoro, a pale pink melting plumpness. The tuna sits on a paper-thin sheath of jamon iberico, ribboned with creamy fat. Artichokes provide some acidity relief and then the delicious treat of pork crackling, crunching loudly in the mouth and shattering to smithereens.

The 1995 Duval Leroy Femme de Champagne is my favourite of the evening too.

Grilled Hiramasa kingfish with roasted beetroot and cepe mushroom puree
served with Bollinger La Grand Année 1999

A slick of intensely flavoured cepe mushroom puree holds onto a petite steak of grilled and barely cooked Hiramasa kingfish. The multiple textures of beetroot are what get my attention, a segment of sweet roasted beetroot, a mound of gelee, a deep-fried curled crisp and a spherified dome that releases a blood red river of beetroot juice when pricked.

Slow cooked Glenloth chicken with champagne veloute,
braised leeks and Tasmanian black truffle
served with G.H Mumm 'Mumm de Cramant' Grand Cru Brut Chardonnay

A finale of slow cooked Glenloth chicken concludes our savouries. It's crowned with a speckled shaving of Tasmanian black truffle, its gloriously musty scent mingling with the champagne veloute. Two stalks of braised leeks are buttery soft and yielding in a wash of fragile foam.

Bécasse spring pudding
served with Louis Roederer Rosé 2003

Dessert is a Bécasse spring pudding, made using strawberries from Queensland and blueberries from Victoria. Slices of white bread are layered with the macerated berries and soaked with coulis until it becomes moist and cake-like. The quenelle of ice cream is a surprise contrast of licorice, a pairing that seems odd at first but one that offsets against each other so well. Sprinkled across the top of the ice cream are delicate flakes of Cyprus black lava salt, made black by mixing with charcoal. The salt, Justin explains, is used to enhance the sweetness of the ice cream, just as salt is commonly used with caramels.

A swirl of baked caramel custard adds a sweet creaminess, and the tiniest buds of meringue play alongside fresh blueberries.

Put a smile on your face. Bécasse spring is here.

Grab Your Fork attended the Spring Dinner as a guest of B

écasse will be hosting a Burgundy wine dinner on Monday 7 and Tuesday 8 September. The 6-course degustation includes matching French wines and costs $130 per person.


View Larger Map

Becasse on Urbanspoon

Bécasse (CLOSED)
204 Clarence Street, 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

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Becassé, Sydney - Vin de Champagne Awards (Sep10)
21 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 9/03/2009 02:32:00 am


  • At 9/03/2009 9:28 am, Anonymous Noodleboy said…

    Promo freebies ... Invites to exclusive events ... Hanging out with the who's who of Sydney's food scene ... When is someone going to give you a job in food media so you can do this full time? That's where you belong Helen.

    Loving your posts ... Great work.

  • At 9/03/2009 9:58 am, Anonymous Jen said…

    Hi Helen, i just wanted to say that i've been quietly following your blog for awhile now and i love it. I'm so envious of all the places you get to dine! The food at Becasse looks divine, it's on my must go to list :)

  • At 9/03/2009 10:04 am, Blogger Yas @ hungry.digital.elf. said…

    I can't help myself staring at dishes and sighing in pleasure at Bécasse. The lobster and scallop dish looks so beautiful!

  • At 9/03/2009 10:56 am, Blogger Brenda said…

    It really does look like spring on a plate! They do such an amazing job at Becasse.
    Lucky you!!

  • At 9/03/2009 11:43 am, Anonymous billy@atablefortwo said…

    I must be very easy to please, something so satisfying about prawn toast! LOL! Indira has a food blog, who'd have thought?! Now I want Lee Lin Chen to have a food blog that talks about which dress she should wear while cooking!

  • At 9/03/2009 12:27 pm, Blogger Betty @ The Hungry Girl said…

    I always find myself moving closer to the screen and reading your blog with my jaw dropped! lol. I love the colours of all the dishes! So very pretty! And beautiful descriptions, I especially like the sound of the scallop!

  • At 9/03/2009 12:46 pm, Blogger Forager said…

    Beautiful photos - the colours are so vibrant and a great representation of spring! And of course, all the dishes sound delicious!

  • At 9/03/2009 1:28 pm, Anonymous Mrs Pigflyin said…

    I must have missed the "Champagne" bit when you told me about the dinner otherwise I would have taken extreme measures to score an invite. What a fine collection of Champagnes and it is so luxe to have them served in different shaped glasses! and they come with matching food!! I like Becasse and love my bubbly :)

  • At 9/03/2009 1:31 pm, Anonymous howard said…

    Amazing guest list there, but you fully deserve a spot at the table too! The dishes look amazing, they are 3 hats for a reason I guess lol

  • At 9/03/2009 2:30 pm, Anonymous reality raver said…

    Oh swoon, the food looked delicious, and the company great as well. What was the Louis Roderer (sic) rose like?

    As usual fantasticly descriptive.

    Did Matt Preston give anything away about Celebrity MasterChef Australia?

  • At 9/03/2009 10:14 pm, Anonymous Katherine said…

    Wow the food looks divine. The whos who of the of Food. I would have been extremely nervous. I wouldn't have been able to take any pictures. Great post Helen..

  • At 9/03/2009 11:36 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hee hee 'keep of me grass'! They really did well with the spring theme mmmm everything looks great!

  • At 9/04/2009 2:27 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Noodleboy - lol. Oh you are far too kind! I hope you're a good fortune teller too! I think a full-time role in food media would be a dream job... thank you so much for your very lovely words. It means a lot!

    Hi Jen - Thank you so much for commenting. No need to be quiet anymore! :) Sydney is blessed with so many great eats and Becasse is one of them! Hope you make it there sometime.

    Hi Yas - Oh I was doing a lot of sighing on the inside all evening :) The lobster and scallop was an amazing dish and so elegantly presented too.

    Hi Brenda - I was very appreciative of my good fortune. The food was fantastic.

    Hi Billy - Haha, I think Lee Lin Chin should have a fashion blog!

    Hi Betty - lol. I love the visual image I have of you doing that! So glad to hear you found the post so engaging. The scallops were luscious but there were so many highlights it would be hard to pick just one.

    Hi Forager - It was romantic mood lighting in Becasse so photos were a bit of a struggle, but the food, oh all so divine, and enhanced of course by the most amazing champagnes.

    Hi Mrs Pigflyin - Oh yes you most definitely would've been in your element with so many wonderful champagnes. Becasse do host regular wine dinners so perhaps you might get along to one of those?

    Hi Howard - Aww thank you :) It was an honour to be amongst such elite company and Becasse does consistency and ingenuity so well.

    Hi reality raver - I enjoyed the Louis Roederer although it wasn't my favourite of the evening. I think perhaps I kept expecting it to be sweeter as it was served with dessert?

    I didn't get a chance to chat with Matt (surrounded by people all evening!) but I'm sure he would've kept mum on all that anyway!

    Hi Katherine - I have to admit it felt a little strange taking photos but luckily Simon joined me, although he took only a few shots with a discreet point-and-shoot.

    Hi FFichiban - I think Spring suits Becasse particularly well, and the grass really did confuse me. I was about to step around it until I realised I was meant to walk on it!

  • At 9/04/2009 3:15 am, Anonymous divemummy said…

    Wow Helen, I think you can count yourself as one of Sydney's food-erati.

    I wouldn't have known what to do - drool at the amazing food or be gob-smacked at being in the presence of so many high-profile food professionals!

    It can only be a matter of time before you cross over to joining those other paid professionals.

  • At 9/04/2009 9:19 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    Your photos are so lovely, it can get pretty dark in there if I remember correctly! I would be lying if I said I wasn't incredibly jealous of your meal and your dining companions :)

  • At 9/05/2009 5:15 am, Blogger dearindira said…

    Hi Miss Grab Your Fork,
    It was lovely meeting you at the Becasse dinner after following your blog for most of the year. You really are an inspiring blogger. Such wonderful imagery, evocative writing ... all done with passion and integrity.Happy eating until our paths next cross!

  • At 9/05/2009 11:43 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi divemummy - Oh rest assured there was quite a lot of both - drooling and gob-smacking! And thank you, I would love to write full-time (and be paid for it!). In the interim, I'm enjoying the ride that is Grab Your Fork!

    Hi Stephcookie - It was very dim and romantic so yes, I was really pushing my camera with the photos. Reasonably happy with the way they turned out and yes, I could hardly believe my good fortune at the amazing meal and company too!

    Hi Indira - It was such a pleasure meeting you too, and thank you so much for your very kind words. You make me blush! Am looking forward to seeing you on Celebrity Masterchef and I'll be cheering for you all the way!

  • At 9/28/2009 12:04 pm, Anonymous Stuart said…

    I don't want to sound too negative but surely as a guest of Becasse your objectivity is compromised? I enjoy your blog but you almost never seem to have a bad word to say to about any restaurant and being a non paying guest must surely take the cake for dulling your "critic" senses. I love Becasse, it's a great restaurant and I've never had a bad dish there, let alone a bad meal but ... you get my drift I'm sure. So do you aim to be a food writer rather than a critic? You have posted about another Becasse dinner fairly recently as well - are you in danger of becoming their tame foodie blogger do you think?

  • At 9/28/2009 11:30 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Stuart - Thanks for your comment. I think that by their nature, blogs will always be personal and rarely objective. I don't view Grab Your Fork as a restaurant review website, something I've shared already on my about page. My intention is to provide a quick snapshot (and photos) of my own experiences, giving a preview for readers to make up their own mind.

    I do believe in full disclosure so I make an effort to always provide details of free meals. I'm interested in food writing in general - if I were to adequately perform the role of a food critic, I think multiple visits would be mandatory, something which I can't afford at the moment.

    Are food blogs not just vehicles for blatant voyeurism? I like to think my posts act as a catalyst for others to explore restaurants, cuisines or areas of town new to people. Because really, it's all about sharing good food with mates :)

  • At 10/02/2009 2:14 pm, Anonymous Stuart said…

    Thanks for that Helen - I should have read your about page and all would have been revealed. It's also fairly obvious that this is not a review site so my post was pretty dumb all round really. I'll engage brain before writing anything next time. Cheers

  • At 10/03/2009 4:08 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Stuart - Your comments are welcomed - perhaps it illustrates a need for me to be clearer about the intent and philosophy behind Grab Your Fork? I do appreciate your feedback, and hope you continue to comment in the future :)


Post a Comment

<< Home

      << Read Older Posts       |       >> Read Newer Posts