Now that I’ve garnered your undivided attention with the fantastic sight of pork lard butter and pork crackers, I shall entertain you with my delightful foray into the world of pork.
To begin, I shall start by making a statement.
Social media is a great tool to get in touch with friends, family and complete strangers.
Indeed, I have made many new found friends with similar passions and hobbies via Twitter and Facebook.
One of the many ways in which social media tools such as Twitter is being used now by producers and restauranteurs alike, are to gather like-minded people together for an event or a function.
These gatherings are organised to share good food, company and adventures together through a culinary journey.
I have been to a few of these events and have always marvelled at how, completely perfect strangers can feel right at home with one another when sharing a common ground.
Point in case, the pig. Or to be more precise, pork. Lots and lots of pork.
Via Twitter, Facebook and word of mouth, Chef Paul Cooper (Pied-a-Terre, The Baths, The Botanical and now The Provincial Hotel) was organising a dinner event for lovers of pork. Supplied by the freshest pork available by Greenvale Farm, we gathered together for a night of Pigtacstic fun! For $79 per person for a 5 course (matched wine from Grampians Estate) dinner, this was an opportunity not to be missed!
Upon arrival, we were greeted with a glass of 2008 Kelly’s Welcome Sparkling Pinot Chardonnayand some tasty hors d’œuvre of Pork Rillettes, apple and brioche (which I completely forgot to take a picture off!) But it was really delicious and was a great way to start the crowd off.
For our first official main, we were served “Heads & Tails” – Salad of pig head gallette, squid stuffed pig tail, peach and squid ink tuille.
What I liked about this dish was how delicate the meat from the pig’s head was. So tender and soft. The peach also went quite nicely by giving the dish a light subtle sweet flavour.
Paired together with a 2005 Mafeking Gold Chardonnay this was an excellent start-up to a meal.
Right before the next course was served, a waitress came out bearing a salt encrusted pig shoulder, which the chef wanted to showcase. I wasn’t the only one who got my camera out excitedly and made the poor girl stand there whilst we tried to focus on taking a paparazzi shot of the pig.
When the actual salt baked pork shoulder (with mustard, macadamia, radish, and green bean salad) was served, I must admit, we didn’t (or at least I didn’t) think that this was the same pork that was encased in the salt!
The meat was really tender and fell apart just nicely. The only thing wrong with this dish (if anything was wrong at all) was that we didn’t know what the foam was made out of. I know that it must have been the mustard (for what else could it have been) but it was so light and not mustardy that it was a pretty pointless element to the dish.
I loved the different textures that this dish offered, but the foam was just a pretty thing on a plate.
Served with this was the 2009 Pollyanna’s Pinot Noir.
For the last savoury pork dish we were served a poached pork loin, caramelised onion tart, honey, pepper, stuffed pig trotter together with a 2008 Garden Gully St Ethels Shiraz.
Now, we had innocently mistaken this dish for the salt baked pork shoulder. The reason being, the pork loin (I admit, after a few glasses, my ability to tell the difference between pork shoulder and pork loin just by sight had dissipated) was quite salty. Which was a pity, because the pork itself was good, but the salt was overpowering and I couldn’t finish the dish (and I was full).
But the stuffed pig trotter was a winner!! Loved it.. went so well with the caramelised onion tart.
For dessert, we had a serving of Tarago River Blue Orchid Mousse, plum chutney, house made lavoche together with another red, this time a 2009 The Stawell Gift Grampians Shiraz. This, I actually quite like. The blue cheese was delicious as was the plum chutney. I happily devoured the dish and looked around to see who hadn’t eaten theirs. Alas! All was gone…
So much wine… as you can see from the above, I’m not a big fan of reds.. and wished this dinner was paired more with whites… but what do I know about wines? LOL, I only whine *cough*Ihadto*cough*
For the finale, we were served our choice of hot beverage (I say hot beverage, because although some opted for coffee, others opted for a hot chocolate)… together with some yummy desserts of lemon slice, vanilla slice and carrot cake.
At the end of the night, Paul came out to a round of applause.. to speak about his experience of cooking and coming up with the dishes to the nights theme. Both Anthony and his wife of Greenvale Farm also took centre stage for a Q&A session on their pigs and other produces which their farm offers.
Did you know that there were orange pigs? Neither did I!
And all pigs, whether pink, black or orange still taste good at the end of the day… of course with Greenvale Farms Berkshire pigs (for I don’t think we had the Wessex Saddleback pigs – the wagyu of the pork world)… one can raise happy pigs away from stressful environments and eat it with glee!!!
At the end of a tipsy night, I happily went home full on a very happy pig affair.
*Disclaimer: All food ratings are purely based on my own experiences and how I feel about the service, food and quality
Food/ Cuisine: Modern Australian (French) – Porkfest
Dining Style: Cafe/Bar
Overall Food Rating (Based on the Dining style): 7/10
Restaurant ambiance: 7/10
Service/ Attitude: 8/10
Value for money: 8.5/10
299 Brunswick Street
Fitzroy VIC 3065
Tel: (03) 9810 0042
The Provincial hotel is open 7 days a week.
For more information please visit their website.
How to get there: