Thursday, July 9, 2015

Eating at the winery

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Warrandyte, Victoria, July 9, 2015—
A FANCY NEW WINERY had opened its restaurant just a few weeks before my last visit here, last fall, and my brother was eager to take us there this time to try it out. I must admit I had doubts when we drove in: very ambitious indeed, overdone architecture, ambitious grounds, bocce court, pergolas, grand entrance.

On the other hand, there were terraced planters next to that entrance, with carefully straw-mulched beds of cauliflowers, lettuces, and other vegetables; the host and at least one waitress were Italian; the lively interior smelled good, and the diners at tables were clearly happy.

This was Principal Meal of the Day, so we ordered generously, choosing "Anna's Choice" for our entrée (in Australia that word is used correctly, to mean first course), pizzas for our main course. But look what Anna (Gallo, wife of owner of the vineyard-winery-olive grove-restaurant) had chosen!

From top to bottom in the rather blurry photo (sorry):
Piatto Inverno : Parma prosciutto, cacciatore salami, marinated olives and a smoked, lemon-leaf-wrapped diavoletta cheese with housemade rosemary and garlic focaccia

Baccalà croquettes with cauliflower puree and green peppercorns

Pancetta Di Maiale : Crispy skinned pork belly with celeriac puree, fennel and scallop croquette and a cider sauce
You see portions for the four of us here, and I have to say everything was truly quite delicious. The pancetta was I suppose my favorite, succulent pork belly, with crackling on top and lardo underneath — you see it just below the skillet handle. I don't know the breed of pig, but it was rich and fruity in flavor, cooked exactly right.

The baccalà wasn't far behind: soft, delicate croquettes, just the right balance of potato and salt cod. The salumi were fine; the apple-and-celeriac remoulade nicely balanced and seasoned, even the grilled smoked cheese, a course that doesn't always appeal to me, was elevated by the grilled lemon leaves which, crisp and fragrant, proved edible themselves: I'll remember to do this at home. We scaled back our original order of four pizzas to only two, and it was a good thing we did; we weren't able to finish even them. I liked both. The Margarita wasn't perhaps authentically napolitano, being a little heavy on the cheese, but it was good; also a vegetarian pizza carrying a mixed load of brassicas. Others had dessert; I was content with quite a good espresso.
Cabernet sauvignon, Olivigna, 2012, beautifully restrained at 13.2% aocohol, mature, good varietal flavor, subtle finish
•Olivigna, 54-56 Brumbys Rd, Warrandyte, Victoria; (03) 9844 4676
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

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