BRICK BAY POP UP DINNER

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Brick Bay’s Glass House Kitchen monthly pop-up dinners have gained an almost cult following in the area – you need to subscribe to the newsletter to hear about it, and if you don’t book as soon as the menu hits your inbox, forget it. Head chef Cam Schwarz and his team work on the menu together throughout the month, with everyone adding to the creative mix until they come up with the perfect seasonal menu. Starter: Confit Chicken Terrine with duck liver parfait, smoked beetroot and caramelised onion Retrospectively, my favourite dish. The terrine was rustic and meaty, the parfait silky and flavoursome. The standout was the smoked beetroot purée: cries of delight fill the air from fellow diners. Sous chef Braden Miller tells me that they roast it, smoke it and blend the hell out of it with a dash of chardonnay vinegar to cut the rich earthiness with just the right amount of acidity. Sweetly caramelised onions completed this dish.

Main: Martello Rock Braised Beef with wild mushrooms, celeriac truffle purée and kale Martello Rock is a Brick Bay red and the beef is cooked long and slow before being pressed into perfect, fall-apart rectangles. The celeriac purée – again, these guys and their textures. Hint of earthy truffle just perfect. Mushrooms – not a huge fan, but kale always makes you feel that you’ve done something good today.

French cheese tasting Three fantastic cheeses here: an oozing brie, a semi-hard comté and a mild chèvre rolled in ash. The ash was made in the kitchen – from burnt root vegetables. The chèvre is hand-formed into balls, then rolled in the finely blitzed ash, imparting an earthy tang. In-house fig conserve and a Merlot jelly spiced things up.

Citron Meringue with frozen lemon mousse, meringue, lemon curd, sable, fresh Brick Bay orange and lemon sherbert Wow. Lots of different lemony things going on here. Two types of meringue – a soft Italian and a papery, tangy dehydrated shard. Such a pretty dish with its different shades of lemon, orange and white… crisp biscuit and smooth curd. You wouldn’t have wanted to get any of that sherbert up your nose though, as one diner pointed out. Very sharp – but there was only an eye-widening smidgeon of it to keep you on your toes.

All in all, a divine meal in great company, perfectly set off by the 2013 Pharos ¬– Brick Bay Winery only produces this premium red in a good season – and their gorgeous Pinot Gris. Around the middle of next month, we shall be poised to book again.

www.brickbay.co.nz