On Sunday 25 June, we celebrated Gourmantic’s 8th birthday, a day ahead of the actual anniversary by hosting the Gourmantic Origins Dinner, a private dinner party at our home, paying homage to our origins.
Gourmantic Origins Dinner
The concept for Gourmantic was borne out of elaborate dinner parties Kevin and I used to host at home where conversations with friends centred on sharing travel, food and drink discoveries from around the world, often lasting till the early hours. These were so popular with our guests that we wanted to share those stories beyond 8 people and Gourmantic became an extension of that dining table.
L-R: John Noble, Ben Davidson, Stuart Reeves, Kevin Burke, Corinne Mossati, Sven Almenning, Max Greco, Manuel Terron
To celebrate Gourmantic’s 8th Birthday, we recreated one of those dinner parties by inviting very special guests to join us for dinner at our home. The guests are related to the beginnings of Gourmantic and are part of its history, key people in the food and drink hospitality sector with whom we hold a special relationship. And just like old times, it was time for me to go into the kitchen while Kevin takes care of the drinks, the music and hosting our guests.
2008 Champagne Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque
The evening began with a cocktail hour of drinks and canapés. We welcomed our guests with a glass of 2008 Champagne Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque, beautifully presented in Belle Epoque glasses. Champagne Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque was the first champagne that Gourmantic reviewed in an article, a 1985 vintage that Kevin had brought back from his early years of travel – those travels that were often the subject of conversations at the original dinner parties.
Gourmantic Origins Dinner Menu
The Gourmantic Origins Dinner consisted of 8 courses with 8 guests at the table, a total of 18 individual dishes accounting for canapés, sides dishes and dietary requirements. The menu was curated by us and executed by us on the night, just as we used to do long ago.
The first two courses of the 8 course dinner consisted of a selection of cold and warm canapés shown below with alternative courses denoted by (alt).
Smoked Salmon on Pumpernickel, Crème Fraîche, Horseradish & Dill
Smoked Salmon on Cucumber, Crème Fraîche, Horseradish & Dill (alt)
Gougères (French Cheese Puffs)
Beetroot Crostini with Goat Cheese and Chives
Witlof Boats with Beetroot, Goat Cheese and Chives (alt)
Seared Scallops with Ginger and Soy
Unknown to our guests – and everyone else – we had a surprise that we had planned many months in advance.
Gourmantic Birthday Gin 2017
For Gourmantic’s 8th birthday, we released Gourmantic Birthday Gin 2017, distilled on World Cocktail Day at Ironbark Distillery by award winning Distiller, Reg Papps. Our gin was revealed on the night and our guests were the first people to taste the gin. You can read more about the gin here.
The Gourmantic Birthday Gin 2017 was served in the only cocktail on the night, the G8 Gibson, dubbed as the “Gr8 Gibson”, a riff on the classic to highlight the savoury and briny notes of the gin.
Gourmantic Birthday Gin 2017 Gifts
Our guests received a miniature bottle of the Gourmantic Birthday Gin 2017 to take home. The gin was also available to guests to taste neat as well as with CAPI Tonic Water and CAPI Dry Tonic.
A cleansing ale was much needed to reset the palate with Sydney Brewery Surry Hills Pils hitting the right spot as always.
Back in the kitchen, it was time to put on the apron and start cooking. For many years before Gourmantic, my happiest place was the kitchen cooking for friends or just for the two of us, sharing good food with good drinks and good times.
CAPI Still and Sparkling Mineral Water
At the dinner table – the same dinner table that hosted those dinner parties long ago of CAPI Still and Sparkling Mineral Water kept everyone well hydrated throughout the evening. We particularly liked the new CAPI Cucumber Water, lightly effervescent with a crisp cucumber flavour, infused with a natural cucumber extract.
YASA Royal Caviar with Stolichnaya elit Vodka
The first course at the table was YASA Royal Caviar paired with Stolichnaya elit Vodka, a premium Russian vodka served straight from the freezer.
The first of the stories of “firsts”, Gourmantic was the first online publication to write about YASA Caviar from Abu Dhabi. The caviar was served on the back of the hand between the thumb and forefinger. Once it reached body temperature, it was time to inhale the aroma before placing it in the mouth, rolling it gently on the tongue and pressing it against the palate to pop and release the flavour of the sea.
Yasa Royal is a large pearl much like the Beluga sturgeon. The aroma is salty with the scent of the sea. The texture is firmer on the palate with a subtle pop releasing a creamy, salty and nutty flavour that lingers long on the palate – beautifully complemented by the ultra-smooth elit Vodka, with its silky mouthfeel, grainy notes and a delicate finish.
Sydney Rock Oysters with Ponzu, Wakame and Nori with Manly Spirits Marine Botanical Vodka
What followed was a course best described as a big and bold umami hit. Sydney Rock Oysters with Ponzu, Wakame and Nori were paired with a new and unique spirit.
Newcomer to the Australian distilling scene is Manly Spirits and from the first sip of the Marine Botanical Vodka, we were hooked. The spirit is distilled from sustainably foraged Australian native marine botanicals with Sea Parsley and Beach-Cast Kelp. This spirit also shares a “first” story. I had the privilege of tasting an experimental sample with Distiller Tim Stones long before it was released.
We paired it with freshly-shucked Sydney Rock Oysters dressed in a light Ponzu sauce, crowned with wakame and nori strips – savoury, briny and an umami revelation.
Hiramasa Kingfish with Tequila & Lime and Tequila Ocho Plata 2016
The next course was Hiramasa Kingfish with Tequila & Lime, exquisitely paired with Tequila Ocho Plata Single Estate 2016, an artisanal tequila and the first to designate the year it was produced and the field from which the agave was harvested, much like terroir in wine. “Ocho” means 8 in Spanish, and naturally, the tequila dressing on the kingfish along with the accompanying Tequila Ocho made for a perfect pairing for the 8th Birthday.
Porcini & Truffle Oil Ravioloni in Butter & Sage with Moya’s Wermut #8
The next course tells another story. The dish wasn’t originally on the menu but when we announced the dinner on social media, we had a most touching offer.
Charlie Casben of Moya’s Juniper Lounge offered to do a pairing for one of the courses as a birthday gift. We rearranged the menu to include Porcini & Truffle Oil Ravioloni in Butter & Sage which he paired with a very special vermouth which he made for the occasion.
Moya’s Wermut #8 is best explained in Charlie’s own words:
“A good drink should enhance the occasion and the meal, it should never take precedence.
So to that end, when one finds themselves in the middle of an evening, with classically appreciative guests, having already alighted on the nights fare but with several more courses to go… The most appropriate suggestion may well be a vermouth. And given the course that you are taking it seemed almost as appropriate to include the nutty salinity that only an Amontillado can bring. Butter, sage, mushrooms… Need I say more? And so here we are. A rather unconventional vermouth made in somewhat of a haste by ever so simply aromatising one of life’s greatest fortified wines.”
Sauteed Mixed mushrooms (shiitake, king brown and enoki) with Moya’s Wermut #8 (alt)
The pairing was truly sensational. The bitterness and lingering nuttiness of the vermouth not only made for an most delicious pairing, it reset the palate before the main course and the wine that followed. The recipe for Moya’s Wermut #8 is now published on our sister website, Cocktails & Bars.
Confit de Canard on French Lentils with 2013 Agostino Finca Malbec
French cuisine featured often in the dinner parties we used to host at home before the days of Gourmantic, and Confit de Canard is a long-time favourite. For the main course, the Confit de Canard was served on a bed of French lentils with mirepoix accompanied by Roast Potatoes in Duck Fat, Green Beans with Gremolata and Roast Dutch Carrots.
The accompanying wine was 2013 Agostino Finca Malbec from Artisan Malbec, a boutique wine club specialising in Malbec. The wine was smooth and supple, with aromas of red fruits and spices, a rich fruity mid-palate balanced with tannins and a long, velvety finish – a beautiful pairing with the duck and an exquisite wine to linger on over conversations.
Flourless Chocolate Rum Cake & Rum Glaze with Bacardi 8 Años
For the final course, we went all with for the rum with the Flourless Chocolate Rum Cake with Rum Glaze. But it was no ordinary rum that we used in the dessert and the pairing: Bacardi 8 Años for the 8th course of the 8th birthday – a rum that was originally reserved for the Bacardi family and used for the most special occasions.
Mixed Berries with Rum Whipped Cream (alt) with Bacardi 8 Años
Bacardi Ocho is made from a special selection of barrel-aged reserve rums and aged for a minimum of 8 years. The pairing of chocolate with rum enhanced the sweet caramel notes, the rich spices, the nutty flavours that led to a smooth and slightly smoky finish.
Our dinner parties were often requested by our friends and we have fond memories of sitting with them at the dinner table until the early hours of the morning with no one wanting to retire to the lounge room. We chatted about our travel experiences, our food and drink discoveries and regional specialties from all parts of the world.
Lark Single Malt Whisky Classic Cask
At the Gourmantic Origins Dinner, history was repeating itself. And in keeping with the “origins” theme, we were delighted to offer our guests the first of the after dinner whiskies, Lark Single Malt Whisky Classic Cask 43%.
All the way back in 2011, we met Bill Lark, the Godfather of Australian whisky at a time when the local whisky industry was in its nascent stage. That momentous occasion sparked our passion for Australian craft spirits. In 2015, we visited Lark Distillery, met with Bill and with Head Distiller Chris Thomson. We tasted some incredible liquids from 20L casks which went to become The Revolution Release in celebration of 25 Years of Lark Distillery.
New World Projects First Distillery Last Release
Putting a grand finale on the Gourmantic Origins Dinner is New World Projects First Distillery Last Release 62.3%, a very special single malt from Starward Distillery, a distillery we hold in high esteem and with whom we also share a “first”.
When we visited in 2015, we were spoilt by a personal tour of the original distillery with David Vitale and met Paul Slater, Brand Ambassador for Starward. The moment we will never forget from that visit was when David drew a sample out of a cask. It wasn’t any cask but Starward Cask #1. There were no photos, no words, just a shared moment in time, committed to memory and one we will always cherish.
New World Projects First Distillery Last Release is a befitting dram with which to close the 8th birthday celebration and it is best explained in the words of Paul Slater.
“Before leaving our birth place at Essendon Fields we thought we should put something special together as a nod to the place that launched Starward. We chose 5 particular barrels to blend into the First Distillery Last Release; 4 second fill Apera barrels- a mix of 50L & 100L and 1 first fill Apera to round it out. This was tasted at various strengths, as we always do, and the decision was made to bottle it at its natural cask strength of 62.3% as it really shone through best in this pure unadulterated form.
This whisky is a stunning example of the character of our spirit; bright tropical fruit, a subtle malty sweetness and underlying tones of oak and remnant Apera.”
On a last but not least note, we would like to thank each and every one of our guests, and we will do so in alphabetical order: Ben Davidson, John Noble, Manuel Terron, Max Greco, Stuart Reeves and Sven Almenning for joining us in our home on this momentous night.
Our heartfelt gratitude also goes to the generosity of our sponsors without whom our vision of the Gourmantic Origins Dinner would not have been possible.
Thank you Ironbark Distillery, Manly Spirits, Vanguard Luxury Brands, island2island, Luxe Caviar, Bacardi-Martini, Starward Distillery and Lark Distillery for helping us celebrate our special occasion.
Thank you CAPI, Sydney Brewery, Pernod Ricard, Moya’s Juniper Lounge, and Artisan Malbec for helping us celebrate our special milestone.
We would also like to extend our thanks to two of our dearest friends who have helped behind the scenes: Taline Tabakyan-Golino for all the hours helping with the food prep, the tasting and plating of canapés, and Sylvia Costello who kindly joined us during Cocktail Hour to take the all important social photos.
Photos of the event are now uploaded to the Gourmantic Facebook page, Like the page to stay in touch.
Photography by Sylvia Costello, Corinne Mossati, Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.
This article is posted on Gourmantic.com - All rights reserved - Copyright © 2017.