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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Enoteca Restaurant, Adelaide with Antonio Carluccio

So it's not every day you find yourself having dinner with Antonio Carluccio.

In fact dinner had started ordinarily enough. On our second night in Adelaide for Tasting Australia, Billy and I find ourselves dispatched with six other journalists for dinner at Enoteca, a modern Italian restaurant. We'd been transported by coach to our destination, the assembly of media in town dropped off at various restaurants across Adelaide.

The restaurant is modern but cosy, with soft lighting and flickering candles complementing heavy tablecloths and polished glasses. A hanging L-shaped curtain in the middle of the room creates a private nook for the couple seated alongside it. It also acts as a useful partition for the large group booking behind it, although the curtain is no match for the occasional tantrums thrown by the eight-year-old birthday girl.

Creamy cauliflower soup and sweet gorgonzola

Tonight we're having the four course degustation menu ($75) that comes with wines ($120). We nibble on olives and bread served with extra virgin olive oil - glossy and almost green in hue with an intense grassy flavour we eagerly soak up with thick slices of crusty sourdough.

A creamy cauliflower soup with sweet gorgonzola is the perfect way to warm our bellies. Smooth and silky, the soup glides down the throat, the sweet nuttiness of the cauliflower enhanced by the salty and sharp nuance of gorgonzola cheese.

Lemon squid ink spaghetti, Australian prawns,
fresh tomato, basil and parsley

Our entree is visually striking, a colourful splay of fresh juicy prawns, diced tomato, fresh basil and parsley on a mound of black squid ink spaghetti. The flavour of squid ink isn't particularly detectable in the pasta but the prawns are delightfully firm and sweet.

Inman Valley veal scotch fillet with black garlic and eggplant puree,
sauteed spinach and salt-dried tuna roe burnt butter

Inman Valley veal scotch fillet is cooked to a perfect medium rare to those who'd requested it. I'd ordered mine rare and, oddly enough, am served with a small narrow fillet that is cooked to a medium-well. It's also extremely salty, although when I try Billy's (pictured), his is seasoned fine.

It's just as we're tucking into our mains that I notice someone approaching the restaurant entrance. I blink once, then twice, convinced I'm seeing things, until the door is pushed open and yes, the gentleman in the checked shirt and cardigan really is the legendary Antonio Carluccio.

He casually says hello to us as waitstaff efficiently set another place at our table. He's just had dinner nearby, he explains, and thought he'd pop in and join us. He orders a scotch and says he'll have some soup.

At times like this, I want to pinch myself. The absurdity of the scene makes me want to hold my breath, giggle deliriously and widen my eyes in exaggerated disbelief.

Meantime, everyone else carries on, exchanging conversational pleasantries.

Antonio's scotch arrives and he looks at it and frowns. "A little more" he says, and positions his finger mid-way up the glass. The waitress nods and scoots off to fulfil his request.

Green salad

Table talk naturally turns to food, and I'm struck by the vigour and fervour that grips each person when it comes to the topic of eating. Tripe, offal, olive oil and cheese - there's no shortage of adjectives or emotions.

Antonio listens and talks. With a glint in his eye he tells us a cheeky joke, finishing with a laugh that is a deep and throaty rumble.

Cheese selection

I opt for the cheese course for dessert, a generous plate that includes house made lavosh, quince paste, red grape and three cheeses. Bianco sottobosco is a semi-hard cow and goats milk cheese from Piemonte, Italy, distinctively flavoured by the inclusion of Alba truffle.

Blu del monviso is also from Piemonte, a mild and creamy blue that pairs brilliantly with slivers of quince paste. My favourite is still the Ocelli testun al Barolo from Southern Piemonte, a semi-hard cows milk cheese that is covered in the grape skins used to make Barolo wine. Matured for at least four months in oak barrels, the grape must adds a slight tartness to the delicious crumbly cheese.

Hot cinnamon apple-filled donuts
with poached rhubarb, panforte and double cream

Most of the table, however, order the hot cinnamon apple-filled donuts. Billy immediately notices the discrepancy between the donuts described on the menu and the donut that is eventually served.

It's a heavy dessert, the golden orb of deep-fried donut is a little bready in texture with only a small pocket of apple inside. A sliver of panforte and a quenelle of double cream only add to the sense of excess.

Antonio joins us for dessert, digging in eagerly with his fork as the conversation continues to swirl around the table. Humble and charming, it's a reminder that no matter our background or reputation, good food unites us all.

Grab Your Fork dined at Enoteca as a guest of South Australia Tourism

>>Read the next South Australia 2010 post
(Adelaide Central Market)

(lunch with Maggie Beer and Rosemary Shrager)
262 Carrington Street
Adelaide, South Australia
Tel: +61 (08) 8227 0766

Opening hours:
Lunch Wednesday to Friday 12pm - 3pm
Dinner Wednesday to Saturday from 6pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
South Australia - Adelaide Central Market
9 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 6/13/2010 03:54:00 am


  • At 6/13/2010 6:14 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Wow how exciting to meet Antonio Carluccio - he is a bit of a restaurant legend in London with a Carluccio's on every corner, or so it seems!

  • At 6/13/2010 9:25 am, Anonymous The Ninja said…

    Maybe the birthday girl stole the extra donuts. Just sayin'.

    Always a little pick-me-up to a meal when a famous face pops in, especially when they take the time to sit down like one of your fellow diners. I can think of many who wouldn't.

  • At 6/13/2010 11:33 am, Anonymous Mark @ Cafe Campana said…

    Your Adelaide trip sounds like it was a success with many famous chef sightings. I remember watching Antonio's cooking shows when I was a kid.

    The dinner looked quite nice, it is a pity about the over cooking and seasoning of your beef.

  • At 6/13/2010 12:47 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    You know what? I know you've been meeting lots of celebrity chefs lately, but you're still the one I'd like to meet out of all of 'em.

    Particularly if you can sneak me some cauliflower and gorgonzola soup... :D

  • At 6/13/2010 9:55 pm, Anonymous trissa said…

    What a treat to have met him and shared desserts as well! I wholeheartedly agree with what you said Helen - food definitely does unite us all.

  • At 6/13/2010 10:23 pm, Anonymous Amy @ cookbookmaniac said…

    I want the hot sinnamon apple donuts!

  • At 6/13/2010 11:18 pm, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    A low key entrance but, I'm sure, unexpected and exciting nonetheless. How lovely and casual, like dropping in on friends.

  • At 6/14/2010 2:27 pm, Anonymous penny aka jeroxie said…

    He is such a legend. How fortunate to be in the same room as him!

  • At 6/28/2010 1:35 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Gourmet Chick - It was all so very surreal. So bizarre to know faces on tv and then see them in person. A treasured experience!

    Hi The Ninja - Haha, nice theory!

    Antonio was lovely. It wasn't really a pick-me-up but more an ZOMG IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. lol

    Hi Mark - Our trip to Adelaide was filled with phenemonal experiences. I was saddened by my beef but to be honest, I'd eaten so much already I wasn't that fussed.

    Hi Hannah - lol. We must meet up, and soon. I wouldn't call myself a celebrity though. I just like to eat. Heh.

    Hi Trissa - Isn't food the foundation to all that is good in this world? lol. And yes, meeting Antonio was a joy.

    Hi Amy - lol. You might have to make yourself some, or get thee to Adelaide for a dessert side-trip :)

    Hi Mademoiselle Delicieuse - It was all very bizarre, one minute I'm eating soup, the next I have Antonio at our table. A treat indeed.

    Hi Penny - Ha, it was crazy. I always feel the need to pinch myself, but he was so genuine and down-to-earth. I, on the other hand, was quietly hyperventilating. lol


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