Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Dinner at Rockpool

Travel is about splurge choices. You save one place -- say, a room with a shared bath -- to spend on something you personally find more meaningful. Say, dinner at Rockpool.

Sydney has become a foodie's town, but most of my meals have been the kind of overpriced, under-serviced tourist fare you can run into anywhere (including Miami Beach.) Loads of attitude, mediocre food, and a bill that isn't obscene but isn't worth it.

So it was time for a sampling from the culinary gods. One of them is Neil Perry.

His Rockpool serves ambitious multi-course meals. For $120 U.S., you get five courses ... your choice of five items in each course. Alternatively, you can opt for an 11-course tasting menu.

Eleven courses, even tiny ones, is more than I can manage, so I went the five-course route.

This is not a meal about sustenance, or even so much about tastes, though that is all part of it. This is an intellectual culinary exploration into texture, temperatures, superb ingredients, presentation.

My choices: A soft-cooked hens egg with crab, lobster and leek, dressed with warm vinegrette; roast pumpkin, spinach and ricotta agnalotti; seared scampi and tea smoked potato with cabbage and smoked bacon; roast pheasant with chesnut puree, bread sauce and brussels sprouts. (I passed on dessert.)

Verdict: Pre-meal canapes were light and exquisite. Dishes were almost perfect ... the roast pheasant was one slight touch undercooked for my taste. It's a worthy experience.

I'll write more about it later. Just now, I've got to dash off to breakfast. As if I needed to eat again this decade.

Today: Off to Alice Springs.

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