Monday, June 2, 2014

WINTOUR&GUINNESS FOOD: ATTENDING THE ALLA WOLF-TASKER MASTERCLASS AT THE MELBOURNE GOOD FOOD & WINE EVENT

Fridays in the office are always manic, so it was nice to be able to end the day with friends at the Melbourne Good Food & Wine Show. The beautiful folks at APN Outdoor had organised the entire afternoon for us and our first port of call was the Alla Wolf-Tasker masterclass being held in the Good Food Theatre. 

Alla Wolf Tasker is the proprietor and culinary director of Lake House, the famed boutique hotel and restaurant in the countryside town of Daylesford, Victoria. Opened 30 years ago, Lake House has continued to attract acclamation and awards ever since.
Recent accolades include another 2 chef’s hat award from the Age Good Food Guide; a listing in Tatler’s Top 100 Hotels in the world; Australia’s Hottest ‘Classic’ in The Australian’s hottest 50 Restaurants List; Listed in Gourmet Traveller’s top 50 restaurants; Australia’s Best Country Winelist in Gourmet Traveller Wine; and the Best of Excellence Award from NY Wine Spectator.

Widely acknowledged for kick starting regional destination dining in Australia, Alla also championed local seasonal cuisine long before it became the thing to do. Her tenacity and belief in what was possible and her work with small scale producers – often providing a voice for the unsung suppliers of the culinary world – is seen by many as legendary.
Making our way to the chefs table, we plonked our backsides down, grabbed a glass of white (and then of red) and watched the queen of Australian cooking do her thing. The first dish Alla prepared was her warm goats cheese custard and heirloom tomato salad with a sauce vierge. Shallots, leeks, butter, cream and goats cheese - I mean how could you not like a dish with ingredients like those. It was a beautifully elegant dish and luckily for us folk at the chefs table, we were able to taste each of the dishes Alla prepared that day. 
The creaminess of the goats cheese and the freshness of the heirloom tomato salad were complimented perfectly by the Robert Oatley Signature Series Margaret River Chardonnay we were drinking. 
The second dish Alla prepared was duck, fennel, anise, puffed rice and roast fig in pancetta. This for me was the standout dish of the day. Duck, for me is one the best proteins and this piece of duck was beautifully cooked with a crispy skin, infused with a citrus and star anise rub, which Alla recommended  onlookers to leave on for a minimum of four hours or overnight in the fridge uncovered to ensure the skin dries out completely ensuring a really crispy skin.

All of the different elements brought the dish together beautifully. The fennel salad in particular reignited my fondness for the vegetable and apart from it being used in the salad, it was used to make an aioli. The dish went perfectly with the Robert Oatley Signature Series Yarra Valley Pinot Noir offered to those at the chefs table. 
Our last dish of the masterclass was Escabeche of Brook Trout with a remoulade of apple and cucumber. It was a pleasant enough dish to be honest, but for me I prefer meatier fish like salmon or tuna more so than trout. But again it was a pleasure to watch someone like Alla prepare it. The woman is captivating to watch and even more so to listen too. The afternoon with Alla reinvigorated my desire to try the Lake House the next time I am in Daylesford and if its anything like the food I had on Friday or during my visit to her Wombat Hill Cafe, its gonna be cracking. 
Wintour&Guinness was a guest of APN Outdoor Advertising.

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