What do you do when you’ve been together with your partner for 10 years? Day in, day out, you stare at each other. Every morning, you wake up next to each other, and every night you fall asleep together.
Conjoined to the hip we are not, but our lives are so intertwined that it’s hard to have one without the other.
As the more obvious romantic of us both, I wanted to do something really special for the Boy this year as it was our big TEN. Yes, we have been together since we were 18 🙂
Knowing that he had not planned anything, I went ahead and got him a little card announcing that I would like to wine him and dine him at the two hatted Provenance Restaurant in Beechworth (provided he did the driving, of course).
For a quick tour of our stay at the Provenance Hotel, read my previous entry 🙂
As I happily booked ourselves away for a long weekend at this idyllic location, my heart skipped a beat and a little plan started to form in my head.
“What if?”, I asked myself. “What if…”, I replied. Giggling like a crazy woman at my work desk, I sniggered away whilst looking busy at work.
The weekend finally arrived, and I was excitedly bouncing and chattering non-stop all the way up to Beechworth. The poor Boy was so tired from the drive and my incessant conversation that he had to have a quick nap in our luxurious bedroom before heading out to the restaurant for dinner.
The Provenance Restaurant is the refurbished old Bank of Australasia built during the gold rush era, which made for an interesting dining experience. They recently won The Age Good Food Guide 2011’s Country Wine List of the Year, and maintained their 2 Chef’s Hats.
As we were seated, the warm glow from the yellow globes and the fireplace added a little special romantic touch, which was all but lost on the Boy (as I have said, he’s not the most obvious romantic out there).
Upon conversations via Twitter (Chef Michael Ryan is a prolific Twitterer), we decided to go ahead and order the degustation menu. I was told that the first course would be absolutely smashing, as it was the best congee interpretation in history. I had to try it to believe it.
Pickled, Raw & Cooked Vegetables, Puffed Rice, Congee Sauce.
Absolutely amazing. I’m Chinese and I have never thought I would ever say congee could taste that good, but I did and I will again. It was unbelievable. Michael Ryan took a simple poor peasant dish to a whole new level. I can’t even begin to describe it for fear of doing it injustice.
Our second course of Roasted Broccoli, White Bean Puree, Confit Garlic, Lemon, Anchovy Custard, Bacon was alright. I really liked the combination of the white bean puree and anchovy custard. Delectable 🙂
For our third course, we had the Braised & Grilled Octopus, Red Wine, Aioli, Potato, Fennel and Preserved Lemon Salad. I thought that the octopus was cooked perfectly, tender and fresh. My favourite part of the dish was in the little crispy bits at the top (I can’t remember what it was), but it was good! The fennel salad reminded me of the salad from Cumulus Inc.
Next, we had the Slow Cooked Pork Belly, Soy Milk & Miso Broth, Daikon, Mushrooms, Black Oil, which warmed me up. If you can’t tell by now, Michael Ryan is heavily influenced by Japanese cuisine and ingredients. He incorporates these elements as much as he can whilst staying true to the local produce around the region.
In terms of the dish, the pork belly was melt-in-the-mouth tender and was paired wonderfully with the light tasting broth. Using our bread as sponges, we wiped our plates dry (taking in as much broth as we could), a tip we discovered whilst dining at Loam.
The Boy had the Dry Aged Grass Fed Wagyu Flat Iron Steak, Braised Short Rib, Grilled Spring Onion, Smoked Tofu Dressing, Konbu no Tsukudani and said that this was the winning dish for him (apart from the congee of course). It was one of his top 5 most memorable Beef dishes this year.
Whilst he kept telling me how good his dish was, I was enjoying my Roasted Milawa Duck Breast, Silverbeet & Confit Duck Leg, Polenta, Pickled Cherries. I’m usually not a fussy eater (really, I’m not!), but I am quite critical when it comes to my meats. Overcook my lamb and you will suffer my wrath. Serve me tough pork belly and I will kill.
So please understand, that when I say that this duck was cooked to perfection, I mean it. It was a f**king good duck. The polenta didn’t do much for me, but I’m not a polenta sort of girl. But man, oh man, if I could have that duck again.
With the main dishes out of the way, we were offered a rather tempting distraction.
An Optional Cheese Course ($10): Delice de Bourgogne, Pickled Wild Mushroom, Hazelnuts!
Now I’m not usually a cheese kinda girl, but hearing that it was paired with wild mushroom and hazelnuts, I couldn’t resist the temptation to try it. I didn’t regret it one bit. The earthiness of the cheese was not masked by the mushrooms or nuts, but was rather accentuated and went quite well altogether.
For our final course, our wonderful chef of the night, Michael, presented us with the Pineapple Curd, Roasted Pineapple, Pickled Mandarin, Almonds, Chrysanthemum Jelly.
Truly, at this stage, I was shaking with so much excitement and trepidation.
No my dear readers, it wasn’t because I was excited to finally have sugar, but it was more that I had colluded with Michael two weeks earlier and had him agree to a favour.
You see my friends, when Michael placed the dessert in front of us, the Boy had a look of surprise, shock and happiness. For a moment there, I think he thought Michael had played a practical joke on him.
Written on his plate, with chocolate, I had Michael inscribe the following…
“Will you marry me babe?”
Oh, and we also had a wonderful bottle of Comte Louis de Lauriston Poire – traditional dry French Poire or Pear Cider.
Degustation: $90 for 6 courses + $10 for optional cheese course.
The food was really good and was on par with the other country restaurants which I have been privileged enough to visit such as the Lake House and Loam.
Friendly accommodating staff, an easy-going and creative chef, I couldn’t have asked for better.
In case you were wondering, he said “yes” 🙂
I would like to say “Thanks” again to Michael for being such a wonderful sport and helping me out with the presentation of the dessert 🙂
*Disclaimer: All food ratings are purely based on my own experiences and how I feel about the service, food and quality at the time of visit
Food/ Cuisine: Modern Australian
Dining Style: Fine Dining
Overall Food Rating (Based on the Dining style): 8.75/10
Restaurant ambiance: 8.5/10
Service/ Attitude: 9/10
Value for money: 8.5/10
86 Ford Street
Beechworth VIC 3747
Tel: (03) 5728 1786
Provenance Restaurant is open
LUNCH: Sunday, 12pm to 3pm
DINNER: Wednesday to Sunday, 6pm till late
How to get there:
What an amazing degustation dinner! Every one of those dishes looks divine, especially the desert ;)! Was your proposal for real!? I have never known whether you and the boy were married or not, but if that is now to come then a huge congratulations to you both :D!
Hahaha.. now you know 🙂 It was real!
Omigosh, congratulations sweetheart!!!! SO excited for you!!! 😀 You are going to make one helluva fabulous bride!!
Thank you!!! And bridezilla coming up?
You got engaged? Congratulations! 🙂
Super-excited about my upcoming visit to The Provenance.
I did I did!!!
WHOAA!! You GO girl!!! Congrats!!! xoxoxxooo
Wow! Congratulations on the engagement and the cool, foodie-way the proposal was done 🙂
It was quite foodie wasn’t it? I didn’t even realise! Hahahha
*squeezyhugs, squeezyhugs, squuzyhugs forever* xoxoxoxoxoxo
When you first emailed me this story, I thought it couldn’t be beaten, ever. And I still believe that… but the deliciousness on the plates help 😉
So, so, so happy for you both. I look forward to toasting you next time we’re together in person 🙂
Aren’t you glad you had the unedited version to this story?
I’m always glad to have any story from you. MWAH.
I give you lots and lots of stories!!
Awwww, what a gorgeous surprise for the Boy at the end of a very sumptuous looking meal! 🙂 So beautifully done as well, you get em girl! Congratulations to the both of you!!! 😀 😀
It was.. just thinking of his face gives me endless laughter.. He can’t possibly top this surprise ever! I WIN!
Wow ten years! You guys must have been through all sorts of things!
We have.. up down left right 🙂
congratulations babe!! looking forward to the married life? :p
Hahaha.. I don’t think anything is going to change much as we’ve been together and lived together for so long! I feel like we’re an old married couple already 😛
AWWWWW, I-HUA!!! How beautiful!! That night sounded like the PERFECT 10year Anniversary! Don’t think it could’ve been any better than that. Good stuff, very very happy for you two!! AHHHH hahahhahaha… Am sure your wedding is just gonna be as perfect as this! Make sure the mister picks up his “romantic” slack and do sth WOW on the big day haha!
Thanks very much!! Hahahaha…. he does every now and again surprise 🙂
Oh, how wonderful! A gorgeous degustation ending on a sweet note. Since you got engaged a few months ago, I take this is a belated post?
Yeah it is.. we didn’t really want the public to know until we told all our friends and family 🙂
Congratulations I-Hua & Aaron! What an awesome proposal and you must’ve been so excited on the drive up there, I would be talking non-stop as well. All the best xo
I know right! Chitter chatter chitter chatter.. hahahaha
OMG Congratulations 😀 thats so great!!! Now for the planning 🙂 that dinner was the perfedt way to do it. Will a full belly and on a great occassion! Nawwww 🙂 YAY
Don’t know.. thinking about wedding planning gives me migraines 😛
Wowee congratulations on the wonderful news! What a wonderfulw ay to remember this very special dinner-I love that you asked him! And Michael is an amazing chef isn’t he? We adored our meal here.
Thanks smanks 🙂
Congras again babe! You rocked it 🙂 Beautiful food and will we be hearing wedding bells soon?
Hahahaha… maybe??? You’ll have to fly back down for it 😛
Congrats on your coming wedding 🙂
How sweet 🙂 I love that it was written in chocolate too hehe. perfect. Oh & Beechworth has come a long way, I just remember them for pies! haha.
And the funny thing? We were so stuffed from all our eating that we didn’t visit the bakery!!
way to go girl!! I also half proposed to my hubby, I went and put a deposit on my ring to get him moving!
Oh wow! That is another way to do it!
I’ve already said congrats, but congrats again!! The food all looks divine, great choice of place to propose! You’ll have to go back again for your 10 year wedding anniversary 🙂
Thanks babe! If it’s still there… we’ll go there for out 20 years! Hahahaha
So sweet!!! I love it!!! It beats sticking a ring in the champagne glass for sure 🙂 The meal sounds nice, and I think you should go back for your first anniversary!
Awww thanks! I do try 🙂
I can’t believe he said yes.
HAHAHAHAHA. Only kidding! AWWW, this is so sweet! 😀 So excited for you both. Now hurry up and get married already. 😉 xx
It’s all moving too fast!! 😛