I was chauffeured and shouted to a very fine dinner at The Beaufort Street Merchant, something that happens very infrequently when you are the wrong side on 50 and not yet entering the age of the doddering old fool. But anyway, two of my young, sophisticated, smart, knowledgeable and well traveled nieces decided to do just that! I suggested The Beaufort Street Merchant as it is close to my home and it has an eclectic vibrant mix of customers (we sat next to a couple, he was north of 50 with jet black hair and his partner was south of 30), great food and a very good wine list.
The Beaufort Street Merchant had just instigated the new winter menu the night before so there was added interest, old favorites like the Coq au Vin Pie and Steak Sandwich (with the best ever chips) are still there, new on the menus is a Cassoulet. Even though I read about the other dishes (and there are some tempting new ones) I was going to order the Cassoulet, when done well it is one of the most extraordinary slow cooked meal you can eat.
We ordered the following;
Starting with the;
SPANISH GRAZING BOARD
chorizo, marinated olives, cheese fondue, baguette, seasoned
almonds, zucchini fritters, sticky pork
followed by the;
garlic, chilli, lemon, evoo, wild rocket and snow peas,
OPEN LAMB RAVIOLI
braised lamb ravioli, sautéed summer vegetables
traditional Toulouse sausage, bean and tomato bake
all to be washed down by a bottle of;
Nanny Goat Pinot Noir from Central Otago
Firstly we shared the Spanish grazing board, the highlights were the zucchini fritters, crispy and tasty little bites, sticky pork which was sticky, with a little crackling and the seasoned almonds, which were dusted in nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar, our guess anyway.
Put a bit of pressure on the young ones to put their views forward and Lizzy’s comments on the tasting board was;
“The tasting plate – each of the foods was really well chosen and complimented each other. The quality was the main winner of the tasting plate, because you could use the same ingredients in a lesser quality (i.e. coles) and it would be completely bland.”
Now on to the mains, starting with the Cassoulet. This quote from Wiki sums up the variety to expect from this dish;
“Numerous regional variations exist, the best-known being the cassoulet from Castelnaudary, the self-proclaimed “Capital of Cassoulet”, Toulouse, and Carcassonne. All are made with white beans (haricots blancs or lingots), which have replaced the medieval broad bean Vica fava, and duck or goose confit, meat and sausages. In the cassoulet of Toulouse, the meats are pork and mutton, the latter frequently a cold roast shoulder. The Carcassonne version is similar but doubles the portion of mutton and sometimes replaces the duck with partridge. The cassoulet of Castelnaudary uses a duck confit instead of mutton. Cassoulet is traditionally topped by fried bread cubes and cracklings.”
(AcePFV will say why are you quoting Wiki, you always quote Wiki, you can’t believe anything on Wiki, well the answer is, it’s the quickest and easiest reference on the net and I’m not responsible if its inaccurate.)
The Cassoulet was delicious, slow cooked with the flavours melding together with the mushy beans and chucks of tender meats, with extra moisture to be sopped up with the crusty baguette that came with the dish. This is not always the case some traditional Cassoulets they can be a little dry, had one at a nameless 2 Chief Hat restaurant in Melbourne a couple of years back that was very dry and lacked that mixing of flavours the liquid gives. This one was served in a very cool looking enamel saucepan that you would not describe, as a medium plate. It was a largish saucepan! Not that I am complaining as there was nothing left by the end of the night. Will be back for seconds in a couple of weeks.
Back to lizzy for the Open Ravioli
“The lamb open ravioli – was very rich flavorful shredded lamb, but not to heavy because the dish was not too large. Perfect winter warming dish – in fact the whole menu looked like it had a great winter selection. Was very well complimented by the wine, which seemed to taste better and better as the dinner went on.”
The Nanny Goat (bottle) was as good as Central Otago Pinot Noir can be at this price point, but was probable the wrong choice with the food that was ordered. In hindsight I would have gone with wine by the glass and started with the;
2009 BONE TREE HILL CABERNET MERLOT
“classic margaret river cab merlot here – uncomplicated, easy drinking, ripe and juicy.”
2009 TELMO RODRIGUEX LZ TEMPRANILLO
“telmo owns modern spanish tempranillo, his wines just have to go with food.”
followed by the
2006 THOMPSON ESTATE CABERNET
“elegant, refined, statuesque – this is aged margaret river cabernet of the highest pedigree.”
There is always next time!
Finished with coffee and a very satisfied feeling.