|Interior at Chophouse, Bligh Street, Sydney|
|Whimsical meets rustic interior decorations|
|Our hosts - David (left) and Adam|
|Jamon & Italian buffalo mozzarella, roasted fennel, spring onion & almonds|
Thin slices of the king of cured meats, jamon iberico de bellota, sat casually aside the mozzarella, both on top of the sweetly caramelised spring onion and roasted fennel. Considerately cut thicker than paper, presumably for the full flavour impact, the jamon had a big, bold flavour that got me thinking of faraway pastures and oak forests. It was almost meltingly to-the-tooth, unlike some sometimes chewy, even paper-thin slices of prosciutto.
|Ceviche of Hervey Bay sea scallops, Mt Lowe truffle, avruga & apple|
Finally, the dish is almost garnished with a delicate shaving of truffle, out of the ground a mere couple of days ago from the Oberon region in NSW. The colour palette of the dish really worked for me, while the scent of the truffle wasn't as heady and hypnotising as expected. In fact, on taste it was exceptionally subtle and delicate - only when I tasted it alone, letting it linger in my mouth, did I get a slight sense of the decadence these fungi are renowned for. Along with caviar and scallops, I was feeling a million bucks.
With our gorgeous starters throroughly enjoyed, the 2006 Ostler Caroline's Pinot Noir signalled that we were moving to the serious part of the meal. The pinot noir was smooth and highly drinkable, although it's taking quite some work to get me away from my shiraz bias.
We could smell the main event coming minutes before it came to the table. It was intoxicating, so much that I couldn't concentrate after that aroma had infiltrated my nostrils. So it was with great anticipation that our guest of honour was wheeled to the table in all its aromatic glory.
|Slow roasted organic suckling pig|
|Chef carves up the suckling pig|
|Pieces of pork crackling and meat from the slow roasted organic suckling pig|
I'm having crackling withdrawals now still as I remember plucking the particularly blistered pieces and putting them in my mouth, pausing a few microseconds to savour the moment, and then making my loud, crunching way through.
Whether it was the ear-filling crunch of the crackling or whether the crackling takes me away to another world momentarily - all I know is that there's nothing else around or relevant when there's salty, crunchy pork crackling. While the blistery pieces were fabulous, even the smooth pieces were impressively crunchy and thin.
|Apple sauce, jus and harissa to go with the suckling pig|
The pork meat itself was also an adventure, as with the entire beast offered, there were varying cuts of pork spread across the table. I can't honestly say which pieces I got, although I think there was definitely some belly (attached fatty section) along with other cuts that seemed to have been tastily and juicily infused by the fat rendered out of the outer layers
|The second plate of suckling pig|
Pleasingly, we finished our second plate clean, as I think we all did. In fact, we probably finished the whole pig clean as there were trotters, tails, cheeks and the snout even being dished out by David.
One would think that that would be enough feasting to last a week. One would be quite wrong. To many, a meal isn't complete without a sweet ending - and in fact, we had several.
|Caramelised banana cheesecake, butterscoth and peanut brittle|
In another interesting point, this dessert retails for $8. Seriously. Given the sometimes tough market they have to deal with, David and Chophouse have opted for a rather low price for all desserts to encourage the inner boy/sweet tooth to go the whole hog and do dessert. As for the rest of us, it's win-win. But wait, there's more.
|Chophouse chocolate block|
We had the chocolate and dessert with truly generous, help ourselves Hennessy XO cognac and an unusual Berta grappa - the latter of which, after burning my nostrils with its fumes, had a sweet fruity aroma somewhere beneath the burning alcohol. The seriously hard liquors are probably not really my thing.
|Dry-aged Delmonico in the goody bag|
From the chocolate and grappa, I somehow managed to waddle (stumble?) out the door, thankful and rather full. I think the Carvery is going to be a really interesting concept, with a set roast each weekday evening. I think the likes of the goat and pheasant will garner a cult following, while I'll be blocking out suckling pig nights in my diary - perhaps Wednesday nights so it's piggy in the middle (of the week).
Many thanks to Adam, David, Michelle, Sarah and Chophouse for the fabulous evening - it's one I'll remember and drool over for a while to come.