When the invitation goes out to a Becasse Producer's Lunch Forum you don't say no.
Even the canapes of smoked trout, cucumber and saffron creme and aromatic octupus ball had the girls on our table oohing..
The Producers Forums are the brainchild of Becasse owner/chef Justin North. It's a chance for his diners to meet the extraordinary farmers and growers who supply his restaurant with its organic and sustainable produce.
Today Justin wanted to showcase Cootamundra Kid Goat, Freemantle Octupus 'Hands' and Victorian Ash-Elle Park Saffron.
Becasse artisan bread - Saffron, spice and rind brioche.
These rolls displayed wonderful restraint with a subtle use of saffron and tangy pieces of lemon rind.
For many of the food media journalists and wine merchants at our table the lunch also marked a wine first...
.. the first time most of us had tried wine from a tetrapak! (well at least not since the 70's)
The wine was a 2009 Planet Wine, Sarah Fletcher, Sauvignon Blanc from the Adelaide Hills.
Hard to measure what impact the packaging had on the wine nose and flavour since there wasn't, say, a bottled version to compare it to. But it was an enjoyably complex Sav B compared to the NZ Marlborough variety. The packaging could do with a little bit more design I thought. One of our fellow diners feared her kids would confuse it with the orange juice carton in the fridge!
For entree: slow-braised octopus, dashi jelly, Japanese red beans, ponzu pickled white radish, shiso and coriander
This dish was an impressionsist painting of tastes and textures. This octopus dish needs to become a menu regular. Unless you've been to Santorini you have never tasted octupus this good.
Crisp and clean like a Japanese rockpool
To accompany our mains another tetrapak wine .. this time a 2008 One Planet Wine, Tim Burvill Shiraz, McLaren Vale
Not quite the visual elegance or pouring weight of a wine bottle but easy to throw into an esky and most importantly environmentally friendly packaging.
Its not often you find goat on a fine-dining menu. But Justin is trying to change that. For mains his kitchen prepared aromatic pot-roast goat with ...
'en papillote' yams
and confit goat and kale salad
I'm already a goat meat convert but it was interesting to see the number of people on our table who were won over by this unfairly maligned meat.
How lucky we are to have such extrordinarily dedicated producers prepared to go the extra mile to give us such food pleasure.
The seasonal Producers Lunch is available every day at Becasse for $35 including a glass of wine.
Go on... you know you want to.....