Albert Street Food and Wine is a serious hatted (The Age Good Food Guide) foodie destination and was the perfect venue to showcase the skills of Melbourne chef Philippa Sibley and international celebrity chef from New Zealand Annabel Langbein (known as "The Free Range Cook") as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.
Albert Street Food and Wine is a spacious restaurant housed in a heritage building on Sydney Road Brunswick and has a superb ambience of finery and modern fit out. There were 100 guests at this function dialling in to the amazing story of Annabel Langbein and to experience a menu put together with stellar dishes from both Philippa and Annabel.
Annabel Langbein has become a culinary tour de force with her TV series exploding in popularity across the world. Her latest TV series Simple Pleasures, follows her recent book release, and is set to screen in Australia in 2013 on the Lifestyle Channel. Annabel is a passionate foodie who loves to cook with fresh natural seasonal ingredients and her TV series is shot from her extraordinary location of an idyllic cabin surrounded by the spectacular scenery of Lake Wanaka in New Zealand.
I find her style to be among the best of the TV celebrities - clear, warm, passionate and accessible. Totally engaging.
We were treated to Arancini from Annabel, Pissaladiere from Philippa and Garen Gazpacho from Annabel before we sat down for the formal luncheon. Divine. It wasn't long before the group sung the praises of Philippa's Zucchini flower stuffed with prawns a la Grecque - light and packed with flavour.
Annabel's Beetroot, upland cress, goats cheese salad was also light and a dance of refreshment - methinks the beetroot and goat's cheese relationship is one of the great romances of the salad world.
A highlight of the luncheon was the fabulous King Salmon, pesto, pomme Anna, braised lemon fennel. This NZ Ora Salmon is featured in several top Melbourne restaurants and is described as the "Wagyu" of salmon. New Zealand King Salmon develops a tantalising "marbling" once the salmon is mature. This deliciously creamy oily salmon was a revelation and remained the hero of the dish - with the freshness of the pesto and the tasty "pomme Anna" underneath a winning accompaniment.
We enjoyed the culinary company and the ambience of Albert Street Food and Wine with its spaciousness, quality decor and fittings, high ceiling, bentwood chairs, and the overall charm of this ex 1920s bank site. Staff are engaging and knowledgeable and keen to please.
Philippa's main course of Slow roasted lamb, melted tomatoes, olive, white polenta was a popular dish with brilliantly cooked lamb and exciting elements. Slightly pink lamb was enjoyed with the juices of the dish infused in the soft polenta, along with the acidic hit of the melted tomato through cracked skin.
Phillipa's Rose Geranium pannacotta, blackberries and figs were a triumph with light and clean flavours and perfect texture of the pannacotta.
The Meyer lemon tart is a favourite at Albert Food and Wine and Philippa delivered again with this superb offering. This tart stands up without accompaniment needed.
Annabel's Flourless chocolate cake with lemon ginger ice cream was a huge hit. A melt in your mouth cake that is not too heavy. The lemon and ginger ice cream is trademark Annabel and is a dish she is famous for - a great citrus hit and velvety texture. Lemon and ginger are another sublime combination in the culinary world.
This was a superb event and a wonderful showcasing of Annabel Langbein and fresh NZ produce, as well as the culinary skills of Phillipa Sibley and Albert Street Food and Wine. We were treated to a cacophony of brilliant New Zealand produce including New Zealand Ora King Salmon, Vanilla from Heilala Vanilla (high quality vanilla), Whittakers Dark Ghana chocolate, Anathoth Jam, Allan Scott Wines, and Waiwera Water. After nearly four hours this MFWF event was indeed epic.