Now that I am a food blogger…. (haha!)… I thought it only fitting that I should go to at least one event during the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. As I have a friend that works at By Joost, (pronounced like toast) and I love what they are doing; building a number of businesses around a core focus of sustainability, I was most interested in sampling The Greenhouse. A completely sustainable pop-up restaurant powered by canola oil generators, complete with pee-harvesting toilets to fertalise mustard seeds….. seriously….
The Greenhouse By Joost
As a signed-up member of MFWF, I received early release tickets. I wasn’t fast enough to book the Rene Redzepi dinner which seemingly booked out in minutes, but having experienced the real thing at Noma last year, I was very happy to book tickets to the Put Victoria on your Table event instead… a bargain at $150 for four courses compared to Rene’s event… ha! I put the call-out to my foodie friends and was very exited that the great Dr Lats was available. An old housemate of mine who has spent the last few years either in grey london-town or red far-northern australia. A perfect night for a catch up.
We arrived at The Greenhouse on the south bank of the Yarra and went up to the rooftop beer garden for super views of the city and a custard cider. I had no idea what a custard cider was but it was certainly enjoyable, served in a reworked, recycled longneck minus the neck… G&T’s seemed to be served in a recycled mayonnaise jars and I saw champagne being served in tall skinny old jars too… Now I was beginning to get it… totally sustainable right…
We headed downstairs into the restaurant and sat down on a table of ten. We had two very different groups of four on either side of us. One group, more hippie, bikie like from north of the river celebrating a birthday and a snobby group most definitely from southside, celebrating the right to free speech and the ability to complain about almost everything… Well that’s what it seemed like anyway…
PVOYT menu and table setting
Each course was designed and prepared by chefs from different restaurants using all Victorian produce, and was accompanied by a matching beverage.
First off the bat was a whiskey cocktail with apple, peach, and lemon juice and cinnamon sugar.
First drink - whiskey cocktail
A risky choice and definitely not appreciated by my friends on the right but once you got past the initial hit of dark spirit it was actually quite tasty… strong certainly, but an unusual and interesting accompaniment to the first course… or three mini-courses as it turned out to be… described on the menu as:
smoked eel with barley, pork fillet with snow peas and peach salad and baked ricotta on a tomato coulis with dried black olive
I think we were quite relieved to discover that it was in fact three dishes and not one with 5000 too many ingredients… These mini-courses were designed and prepared by Pietro Porcu from The Tearooms at Yarck
Smoked eel with barley
baked ricotta in tomato coulis
Next course was designed by Matthew Fegan from Mr Carsisi in Kyneton and accompanied by Giant Steps Yarra Valley Chardonnay:
Lemon and sourdough crumbed Port Phillip Bay mussels with butternut pumpkin hummus, pastirma, smoked black chilli and lemon dressing, soft herb salad
This was actually one course and probably a surprise favourite for me. I am not usually a huge fan of mussels but when crumbed and fried…. well they are delicious and the butternut hummus was amazing!
mussels and the amazing butternut hummus
Third course, prepared by Andrew Doughton of The Long Table in Red Hill, made the meat lovers happy with a delicious slab of waygu, accompanied by a glass of Carlei 2006 Tri Rossi from the Yarra Valley:
Wood grilled Sher waygu, kancoka farm fig, grapevine ash, celeriac & radish pods
We noticed a pretty funny thing by this stage. The canola oil generators did not stretch to power lights so the restaurant was lit only by candles…. and we literally couldn’t see what we were eating… The only way I could see what the dish looked like was to take a photo… good atmosphere though!
waygu - lit by camera flash
Finally we had dessert… well actually a cheese course… I heard a few grumbles to my right… The cheese course was designed by The Greenhouse chef Matt Stone, who normally resides in Perth at the permanent Greenhouse… Again we couldn’t see the dish, descirbed only as:
Victorian cheese platter
Accompanied by the delicious Crittenden 2011 Moscato from Mornington, the Victorian cheese platter turned out to be one very stinky blue… stinky in a good way, like right up your nose stinky, but another risky move perhaps as blue cheese can be quite polarising. This dish also appeared to have ash sprinkled on top, a couple of radicchio leaves and some figs to tie it all together with some sweetness.
Victorian cheese platter
People were noticeably louder by the time the cheese course was underway. It was now that our host for the evening decided to have a little chat with each of the chefs and thank us all for our attendance… minus a microphone… must not be sustainable… I have no doubt the chefs were super entertaining to those in the front row 😉
Dr Lats and I lingered over our moscatos as the other happy diners departed. A thouroughly enjoyable night was had by all… except maybe the four from south of the river on my right…