sambell @ oz kafe

DEE-LIC-IOUS.

Monday night’s Oz Kafe chef appreciation was absolutely, perfectly, delightfully … delicious.

And I have Simon Bell and Sam Long to thank.

They created a menu that was finger-licking, lip-smacking good.  It’s true.  There’s no other way to describe it … it wasn’t fancy; but it was exactly perfect: four courses of sheer perfection.

springrolls, deviled eggs & bbq'd quail

springrolls, deviled eggs & bbq’d quail

We started with a platter of Goi Cuon (springrolls), Trung Cay (deviled eggs) and Chim Cut Roti (bbq’d quail).  I loved it all: fresh springrolls accompanied with a good spoonful of hot sauce; smooth and rich deviled eggs; and the bbq’d quail coated in a sticky sweet hoisin glaze and topped with crunchy salty peanuts.first course

I admit … I could probably eat my way through a bucket of the bbq’d quail … and still crave more.  Just look at them!

bbq'd troutThe second course was a delicate Ca Nuong :bbq’d trout paired with a mayo, tamari ponzu, rice crispies, bahn mi pickles and aplhalpha sprouts.

Delightful.  The crispy skin and the moist meat of the trout, combined with the creamy mayo and crunch of the rice crispies; a pleasurable bite of food that lingers in your mouth.

Then I was served one of the greatest bowls of Pho I’ve ever eaten.pho

Beautiful cuts of raw beef, rice noodles, a few sprouts and herbs, a wedge of lime and a clear broth.  No MSG headache.  Nope.

adding the broth

adding the broth

I will never be able to eat another bowl of Pho and not compare it this one.  I think that Oz Kafe should make it and sell it by the enormous bowl full.  It was the absolute perfect bowl of food.  This is what comfort food is all about.  Simple.  Each bite as delightful as the last.  My only regret was not getting a second bowl of it.

ice cream sandwich The meal was finished with kem tuoi.  A deconstructed ice cream sandwich; pizzelle (Italian waffle cookies), green tea ice cream, and sweet red bean paste.  I liked to pile a little of the green tea ice cream and red bean paste onto the pizzelle: a mouthful of crunch, smooth, sweet, bitter.  A little bit of everything.

It was just right.  Same as the rest of my meal.  Just. Right.

courtyard restaurant @ oz kafe

I feel like the only things I’ve blogged about this summer are my incredibly memorable dinners.

Most of which have been thanks to Oz Kafe‘s Industry Night.

I blame the heat.  

It’s been waaaaaaaaaaaay to hot to bake (especially in my teeny tiny apartment).

Lucky for me (and this blog), my last meal at Oz Kafe was … pretty incredible.  It was everything I like about food: seasonal, smart, clever, a twist on classics … and most importantly … delicious.

Murray Wilson and his team put together one mighty fine meal.

Although Murray is now executive chef at the Courtyard Restaurant, he used to work at Atelier with Marc Lepine.

I saw touches of that on every one of his plates.

They were beautifully constructed.  Contrasting textures.  Bursts of flavours.  And clever.  Really really clever.

I kinda fell in love with the first course: soup.

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First course.  Full stop amazingness.  We were presented with our bowls and then Murray came out and explained what every little thing was … while the roasted butternut squash purée was being poured over all the little bites of deliciousness.  

Every single bite was different.  One bite of crispy duck skin … the next of toasted pumpkin seeds … cinnamon and cloves … vanilla … sailor jerry’s rum … every single bite as good as the last.

My favourite dish of the evening.  

Second course was a sharing plate: fish.

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smoked sturgeon and salmon paté, crustini, english cucumbers compressed in bombay sapphire, cucumber gel, black olive paste.

It was a fun spin on an old classic … rather than slices of cucumber, we had “melon-balled” cucumber … little pockets of freshness.  It tasted as good as it looked.  I couldn’t seem to stop smearing my crustini with the paté … I think I ate far more than my share of the sharing plate (oops!).

The third course screamed autumn.  A hearty meat dish.

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The pork-neck was perfectly cooked and ridiculously flavourful.  It was sous vide at 61 Celsius for 24 hours and then seared.  Paired with sauerkraut, granny smith and earl grey purée, apples compressed in calvados, braised pearl onions, crushed fingerling potatoes, waupoos cider and wild mustard sauce.

The seasonal theme continued well into dessert … a rich and decadent cheesecake.  It was kinda spectacular.

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Second favourite dish of the evening.

The cheesecake and the ginger ice cream … both rich and creamy.  Combined with the tart cranberry, the spicy pumpkin purée and the crunch of the cashew nut crumble.

DE-LISH.  Purely delicious. The perfect end to the meal. 

twitch @ oz kafe

Last week was Oz Night.  Oz Kafe hosts the most wonderful night of the month … and mother of pearl … was this one GREAT!

Twitch (aka Michael Portigal – remember he was on an episode of must.love.food. and he’s the one with the beard in the picture) and his crew created 4 clever dishes … each one full of flavour and texture.  Some I loved more than others … which happens sometimes right?  I like to think it’s because two of the dishes blew my socks off (well I was probably wearing flip-flops … but you know what I mean).

The evening started with the mushu pork.

Oh my goodness gracious.

I’d just like to say … it was my absolute favourite.  A buckwheat tortilla shell topped with julienned cucumbers, diced watermelon, seaweed, and then finished off with thinly sliced pork tongue and a good dollop of hoisin sauce.

This is everything that is good in food.  A little salty.  A little sweet.  Crunchy and smooth.

I LOVED IT!

The second dish was the cured mackerel.  Pan-fried mackerel was paired with a deconstructed kimchi (ever had fiddleheads in your kimchi???? I didn’t think so!), and a pillowy soft taro gnocchi.

The third dish was the wonderfully inventive black rice porridge.  I have to say … this was the dish that surprised me the most.  When I read it on the menu … chamomile, lamb, strawberries, mint, pistachio, and black rice … I kinda wondered … what they heck am I going to be eating???

It was … delicious.  All the components were good … but I did enjoy it best when I took a bite of EVERYTHING at once.  Yep.  A forkful of lamb, strawberries, mint, and black rice … absolutely delightful.

Such a nice surprise.

The meal was capped off with desert.  A twist on lemon meringue.

Twitch paired pascale’s semi-fredo with some salty lemon curd and a golden beet purée and a sesame crisp.  It was light and fresh.  I have to admit … I’m still not sure how I felt about the golden beet purée and semi-fredo combo … but that’s just me.  When I spoke to my friend Sarah – she thought it was brilliant and perfectly balanced.

Just looking at these pictures makes me wish I could grab some more of that mushu pork … Twitch … I really really really think you should start making those to-go.  They are DEE-LISH. A million sighs of happiness.