The Best Thing I Ate Last Week
Love Tilly Devine. Photo: Marco Del Grande
What I love: digging into a plate of food with someone who is really splendid company. Call it mezze, antipasti, salumi … whatever, but there’s something democratic, warm, about sharing a few fine, carefully selected ingredients laid out on a board and served with good bread, good wine — and a good chat.
I was lucky enough to score the trifecta in a Darlinghurst back lane this week. At Love Tilly Devine, one of my favourite bars, which is also lucky enough to have a very good chef, we had a simple, elegant plate of buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto and radicchio. A little good extra virgin olive oil, great bread, olives. Without question the best thing I ate last week.
And then I started to think about all the other fine, fortunate meals that had been eaten around the country in the past week. I wanted to know about them. So I threw the question out on Twitter: “What was the best meal you ate last week?”
Prawns grilled over binchotan; photograph: Chef’s Armory.
To be sure, the people who responded to my question aren’t the type to be eating meat-and-three-veg each day — they’re the lucky ones who can expect and demand the latest, the freshest, the most interesting. But I think their responses are fascinating. Not only that — the food they have loved in the past week is an amazing snapshot of the strength and energy and sophistication of our culinary culture. There’s such a lot of great stuff out there (and cool people to follow on Twitter!).
Matt Moran, chef, Chiswick restaurant, Woollahra, Sydney: “Had the lamb last night, Moran’s lamb, biggest seller at Chiswick! And seems everybody is loving it! Jen Hawkins was talking about it also!”
Steve Manfredi's chestnut crepes.
Mark Colvin, presenter of ABC Radio’s PM and Friday Late: “Best thing I've eaten this week? Twelve-hour pulled pork with dirty rice, black beans and corn on the cob, at @salmonmornay's. Followed closely by a dozen Sydney Rock oysters at home on Tuesday.”
John Lethlean, Melbourne-based food writer, The Australian: “Baby potatoes with fresh chive, butter and salt cod, fish crackling and a soft egg yolk at Dunkeld's Royal Mail Hotel. Worth the trip to on its own.”
Frank Wilden, restaurant consultant, Melbourne: “Two Michelin-starred Hong Kong chef Mok Kit Keung’s dinner at Crown as part of Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Baked quail stuffed with morels and foie gras. Served with Hennessy Paradis Imperial cognac. #bliss”
Stefano Manfredi, chef, Balla, the Star, Sydney, and Bells at Killcare: “Necci — chestnut crepes filled with sweet ricotta — made by @thetuscanboy, my head chef @osteriaballa.”
Colin Fassnidge, chef, Four in Hand, Paddington, Sydney: “Roasted organic pork neck; ox-heart tomato with salt/pepper/sugar; green olives, white anchovies, white balsamic and extra virgin olive oil; boiled potatoes! I cooked it for my girls at home.”
Andrea Nguyen, cookbook author and Saveur magazine contributing editor, San Francisco Bay Area: “A dish from my new book, Asian Tofu, that I cooked at home: custardy, warm tofu (like a soy pannacotta) with a drizzle of artisanal shoyu. Jiggly, rich, umami.”
Karen Reyment, author, The Foodies’ Guide to Brisbane 2012: “North Queensland wild barramundi, pan-fried with crisp skin and served with tartare, heavy on the capers. Sometimes it's the simple things.”
Alex Herbert, chef, whose Bird Cow Fish restaurant in Surry Hills closed this month after six amazing years: “Breakfast: escabeche of mussels and 2010 Saloman-Undhof Grüner Veltliner at Cumulus Inc. [45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne city].”
Lyndey Milan: Sydney-based food writer and presenter of Lyndey and Blair’s Taste of Greece: “At Melbourne Masterclass Brett Graham’s Chantilly of Coffin Bay oyster: oyster bavarois, tartare and frozen juice served in a martini glass.”
Charlotte Wood, Sydney author: “In: Maggie Beer's moussaka with her customarily ingenious use of pumpkin and verjuice! Out: incredible John Dory with seaweed butter at Cutler & Co [55-57 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne].”
Annemarie Rodrigo, chef, Bistrode, Surry Hills, Sydney: “Burnt blackcurrant leaf cream, wild brambles, lovage cakes, salted walnuts and sweet cicley @Garagistes [103 Murray Street, Hobart]. The silence at the table said it all.”
Robyn Eckhardt, food writer, Penang, Malaysia: “In Chiang Mai, het top (tiny black ‘puffball’ mushrooms, seasonally foraged) fried with garlic and fresh tamarind leaves for a hint of sour.”
Hilary McNevin, food writer, Melbourne: “Lettuce cups filled with insanely fleshy sugar-cane prawns; steamed, plump and taut to the bite. Add fresh mint, radish, carrot, fish sauce — at Lado Red Leaf [2 Boundary Road, North Melbourne].”
Franz Scheurer, Sydney-based editor, Australian Gourmet Pages: “Phillip Searle at Vulcans [33 Govetts Leap Road, Blackheath] excelled himself with his entree: Handmade tofu — silken, seared and served in Asian-flavour broth.”
Billy Law, food blogger at “A Table for Two”, MasterChef Australia 2011 contestant and soon-to-be cookbook author: “I've been cooking at home a lot for the cookbook — grilled skate wings (stingray) in a sour tamarind rempah sambal, and wrapped in banana leaf. So cheap too!”
Tim White, owner, Books for Cooks, Fitzroy, Melbourne: “Deep-fried sage leaves at Matt Wilkinson's Pope Joan [77–79 Nicholson Street, East Brunswick] dusted with sugar and salt with tempura batter — evil, truly evil.”
Fouad Kassab, food blogger at “The Food Blog”: “Efendy restaurant's “Ali Nazik” — charcoal-grilled pistachio kebab with smoked eggplant, thick yoghurt and burnt butter with chilli and capsicum — at Taste of Sydney, Centennial Park.”
Elizabeth Meryment, Sydney-based food writer, News Limited: “Mud crab with macadamia at Sixpenny [83 Pericaval Road, Stanmore] is a dish of native wonders. The soaked nuts form a 'milk' that enhances the crabby sweetness; it's divine.”
Dani Valent, food writer, The Sunday Age, Melbourne: “Easy. Fresh figs, torn, tangled with prosciutto, tumbled with goats’ curd and celery leaves, olive oil and fig vincotto.”
Michael Shafran, food blogger at “Gosstronomy”: “Blackmore 9+ wagyu with mustard, garlic, pickle water and the 1st real NYC sour pickle I've seen in Oz — at Marque [5/355 Crown Street Surry Hills]. Yes, it's been a good week!”
Natascha Mirosch, food writer, Brisbane: “The fantastic air-dried wagyu and kimchi ‘sandwich' at Esquire Restaurant [145 Eagle Street, Brisbane].”
John Birmingham, Brisbane-based author: “Probably the sticky spare ribs at Cross Town Eating House [23 Logan Road Woolloongabba].”
* NB: These tweets have been ever-so-slightly edited.
So what have you eaten in the past week that you’ve loved?