Slow food and long lunches

Finishing touches

It was a casual enough invitation. Sent through by Jamie who I’ve recently been in touch with about the Perth Slow Food group.

On Sunday Vincenzo Velletri is holding a small luncheon to thank everyone for the support of the Terra Madre producers who went to Italy last year from Western Australia. We would you to join us if at all possible.

Vince is cooking.

Now I took that to mean a light lunch, a few antipasti type plates with tasty cheese and salamis and some olives, and a nice glass of wine or two. What I didn’t think it meant was that two fantastic Italian chefs would be creating an all encompassing taste sensation and a wonderful slice of simple rustic Italian food, presented in a 5 course meal that lasted the better part of 6 hours !

As soon as we arrived at Third Avenue Restaurant the wine was flowing, with a delicious prosecco and followed on with a delicious organic Sangiovese by Montefalco, and from there things didn’t slow down. A selection of antipasto including croutons with an avocado and pistachio mousse, an olive tapenade, and a roast pumpkin and blue cheese topping, were just the start.

The it was on to the first course with:

  • Organic silver beet and borlotti bean soup
  • Black cabbage and pig trotter soup
  • Polenta topped with Fondi-style sausage sauce
  • Ravioli filled with goats cheese and a hazelnut and sage sauce.

I’ll have dreams about the polenta and pork dish… it was so simple, but so good. And beautifully presented on a wooden plank, so you could easily make something handy out of it after you’ve finished eating… that’s ingenuity for you :)

Onto the second course, which was:

  • Wood fired garlic bread
  • Veal braised with Sangiovese and dried porcini mushrooms
  • Wood fire oven braised lamb with rosemary

The lamb was so tender it was melt in your mouth, It was just unfortunate that such a savage onslaught of dishes was beginning to take it’s toll. I did however, get special kudos from Verity James for making sure the bones were extra clean. What more of a glowing endorsement can you get, I ask you ?

Next was a cheese platter of local organic and biodynamic cheeses. My favourites been the camembert made by Cambray sheep cheeses, and the frais goats cheese made by Gabrielle Kervella (which I promptly went out and bought some more of on the way home).

Finally dessert, consisting of Fragola poached pears with cinnamon and clove. A refreshing and light way to end the meal.

The other highlight of the lunch was getting to meet some of the other people in the Perth food scene who really care about what they are doing, and are actively trying to make a difference to the way food is produced, sold, and appreciated. As well as hearing some great speeches from people who’s worlds have been changing by getting involved in Slow Food and the connections they’ve made through it.

It was quite inspiring stuff, and wonderful to think that food can be so instrumental in changing the lives of so many people. Definitely something I plan to be more involved with in the future.

The end. (by Abstract Gourmet)

16 thoughts on “Slow food and long lunches”

  1. SO SORRY I MISSED THIS! Glad you blogged it Matt. I can, however have a vicarious experience of the day through this excellent depiction! Cheers. Alex

  2. Beautifully described, Matt. It was a pleasure to have you as Slow Food Perth’s guest. Thank you for the most unexpected blog.

  3. Alex, you totally missed out mate… I was in foodie heaven. I’m thinking about going out and stocking up on polenta and wooden boards.

    Ali, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but I’m glad you liked the photos. They’re making me hungry again just looking at them, even though I had to skip dinner last night because I was too full after lunch :)

    Jamie, thanks again for the invite, Sharon and I loved it, and there was no way I could not write something about it. Plus I was rather happy with that top photo, so I needed an excuse to put it up :)

  4. Matt… your long overdue blog was worth waiting for! Am doing my best not too drool excessively over my keyboard! That has to be the most wicked looking and sounding meal I’ve seen in a long time. It has renewed my on-again off-again dreams of a real wood fired-oven in the back yard (especially now I have created a damn fine sourdough starter). I might even rekindle my mixed feelings towards silver beet (traumatic childhood!) with that soup in mind. And, as always your photography absolutely rocks! Aren’t Gabriella’s cheeses divine?… I often pick them up from her at the Sat am organic farmers market at city farm. It’s great to talk to a producer who is so passionate. Yum!

  5. A fantastic series of photos to complement a fantastic write up. Beautiful food, good wine and a leisurly long lunch, how much more of a perfect day could it be?

  6. Hi Lorraine, I’d love to have a wood fired oven too ! until then I’ll have to settle for my humble gas bbq. Glad to hear you got your sourdough starter sorted out as well… I must admit that bread making and baking in general aren’t my areas of expertise. Gariella’s cheese is indeed devine, sublime, and many other superlatives I can’t think of right now.

    Chris, it was wonderful. I think you’d really enjoy coming along to some of these events. Fantastic food and wine and stimulating conversation, can’t go wrong there :)

  7. Hi Matt,
    What an incredible tool your blog is, now we can keep remembering the long slow convivial lunch amongst friends. Thank you for sharing the day with us. You aree not the only one that is going to buy a beautiful piece of wood for the next polenta meal!!

  8. Hey Grendel, the coffee was non-existent :) But I wasn’t complaining. Had some of Gerardo and Kam’s lovely Honduran when I got home, which is now available in Fresh Provisions… very cool.

    Pauline, as I said to Jamie, anytime I’m invited to an event to be plied with wonderful food and wine all day long, I’ll be happy to oblige :) The polenta really was great, makes me wish I had any ability to make it, although Verity did have some good tips about that as well… A wealth of knowledge she is.

  9. What an inspired meal, everything sounded so great. I’m glad it’s polenta season now, it’s not so hard, my one tip for it is to buy a decent brand, it doesn’t have to be off the north side of the hill and threshed by virgins, just something a bit better than the supermarket stuff. Oh, and I cook it pretty wet (Marcela Hazan’s recipe) on a simmer mat and hardly stir it at all.

  10. Perhaps we should invite the Slow Food people to a Coffee Snobbery

    We could in fact have a selection of interesting coffees and teas for them to try – and the Honduran would have to feature I think.

  11. Lovely work Matt. Wasn’t it a great lunch. I knew I was in trouble when I realised the entree was four courses. Simple food beautifully done – I’ve never had polenta or lamb like it.

  12. Thanks for the tips Neil, I’ll add it to my Polenta “Jeet Kune Do” although the threshed by virgins type sounds intriguing…

    Grendel, the Slow Foodies have been in touch with Kamaran of Fiori already for a tasting and talk, but perhaps something else could be organised, because the values of the movement are definitely aligned with quality coffee in my opinion.

    Anthony, it was great indeed, I knew I was in trouble when I kept on wanting seconds and thirds of everything despite there being 15 more dishes to go… I fear it may be the undoing of my polenta efforts.

    Cin, I’m sure I can smuggle you in if you tell me when you’re coming over. I’m sure there’s a Melbourne group though, so perhaps you could get into it and see how they stack up :)

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