It was a windy Wellington evening that we ventured around the harbour to Days Bay to indulge our taste buds in the first Ambassador Series for 2015. Hosting the dinner was Beef + Lamb Ambassador Chef, Ryan Tattersall of Cobar Restaurant who had promised some tantalising surprises for his five course degustation dinner showcasing his talent with New Zealand beef and lamb.
First up, the two canapés were a taste of good things to come. These were a flavoursome contrast of textures with a crispy veal sweetbread cornet
and a soft savoury beef tar tar ‘en croute
’. Suitably washed down with a delicious glass of bubbles, the second course was soon upon us which was Ryan’s interpretation of a classic Japanese dish. This dish had been inspired by some Japanese visitors to his family home 25 years ago and who had cooked Sukiyaki
for his family.
We were presented with a delicate arrangement of thinly sliced Miso cured beef fillet draped over cubes of tofu with chilli, green onion and bok choi.
The consommé was carefully poured over the plate before us adding a hint of theatre to the night as before our eyes it gently cooked the thin slices of beef which had been Miso cured for 48 hours. The consommé had also been a work of art taking days of preparation for it to reach its full potential ensuring a depth of flavour which pulled the whole dish together. The tofu had taken on a sweet flavour from the marinade and added a creamy texture to the savoury consommé.
Course three greeted us with a sweet aroma and an eye appealing plate of sous vide lamb neck, Kasund, swede, homemade raisins, cauliflower, savoy cabbage and coriander.
This cut of lamb needs a long gentle cooking method to ensure the ultimate tenderness and to bring out its flavour. Ryan had successfully executed this choosing to sous vide the neck for twenty-four hours at a low 54.5 degrees resulting in the blushing pink lamb presented before us. The dish was infused with Indian inspired flavours which perfectly highlighted the delicate flavour of the lamb. The homemade raisins, dehydrated for 12 hours, added a robust sweetness to the dish with the Kasund mayonnaise adding a gentle but not overpowering spiciness.
Course four was all about flavour, flavour, flavour. Angus ribeye, corn fritters, baked corn, hazelnut, mushroom puree, Enoki mushroom, béarnaise, Sea Purslane and wild fennel.
This dish featured the classic components of steak, mushrooms, corn and béarnaise which are always a winning combination. However Ryan had refined this dish to produce an elegant take on a traditional classic. It was all about earthy nutty flavours from each component working in harmony with the star of the dish, the beef rib eye, which boasted a robust meaty flavour and a tender melt in the mouth texture. As all good béarnaise sauces do, this one pulled the dish together with a delicious tang and creaminess and the coastal herb, Sea Purslane along with the Fennell was a welcome addition adding another subtle layer of flavour.
Could it get any better? Yes. Course five appeared looking like a visual symphony of colour and texture enticing our taste buds before one morsel had even passed our lips. Smoked lamb loin, braised shoulder cigar, roasted garlic dauphine, pea, white aubergine puree, anise infused tomato and chervil.
The smoky aroma coming from the lamb was the result of not once but twice smoking a whole loin of lamb. Cold smoked and hot smoked, then roasted and sliced, it presented on our plate cooked to a perfect pink, and accompanied by another lamb cut, the shoulder which had been braised for nine hours and meticulously formed into the tasty, crunchy cigars. Equally adding a crunchy texture to this dish were the balls of dauphine which were a delightful light combination of choux pastry and potato with a hint of garlic. The surprise of the dish was the tomato which had been partially dehydrated and infused with an anise stock. The explosion of anise flavour coming from the tomato was the perfect flavour match for the lamb.
To finish off even the dessert had a meaty theme and was Ryan’s playful take on meat and three veg. Vanilla panna cotta, strawberry jelly, milk chocolate, kiwifruit, meringue, and vanilla ice cream
with the delicious creamy panna cotta marbled with strawberry jelly like a belly of beef, but definitely adding the all important sweetness we enjoy after an amazing meal.
Once again Ryan excelled in delighting diners with his creative and exclusive dishes which don’t feature regularly on his menu, making us all feel rather special that we had experienced something unique and creative from one of New Zealand’s top chefs.