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Mr Papa's Tacu Chaufa Nikkei-Style fried rice and beans pancake, Pork Belly Kakuni, Salsa Criolla and yellow chilli.

Our Table: Passion, People, Place

Amanda Whitley

Most of the time, HerCanberra HQ is your pretty standard workplace.

Sure, we get some pretty sweet invitations to things happening around Canberra, but usually it’s just a team of us beavering away at our computers, making a website and magazine (and a few other things). But rarely, something happens that makes us look at each other and go, ‘ok, we really do have the best job in the world.’

You see, in January, an email from Jacob’s Creek Wines arrived in our inbox. It read:

“It is with great pleasure that Jacob’s Creek invites you to a very special dinner with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic to celebrate the launch of ‘Made By Moments’ on Tuesday, 12 January 2016 (in Melbourne).”

After we’d picked our collective jaw up off the floor, we played rock, paper, scissors to see which two of us would go along. Well, not really, I totally pulled the ‘I own the company’ card, and since the invitation stated “For your plus one, we want you to bring along the person who’s most inspired your food journey,” it was only fitting that I took along our Events Coordinator – and creator of Canberra street food event, The Forage – Belinda Neame.

 

I’m going to fast-forward through the night a little now: it was held in a funky warehouse space downstairs from Cumulus Inc. in Flinders Lane, and hosted by Masterchef 2012 winner, Andy Allen. We made friends with Andy’s dad, Peter, from Fingal Bay…he was cool. We had a great little wine education and tasting session with a leading sommelier, ate some pretty amazing food, I (briefly) sat next to Camilla from last year’s My Kitchen Rules (MKR) until she ran off to find more famous people to mingle with, we listened to a fabulous Q&A with Novak himself, took a pretty funny GIF of ourselves with giant tennis racquets and wine, and then we kept ourselves nice and went back to our hotel.

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Novak with Ash and Camilla from last year’s MKR.

But this is where it gets really exciting. Turns out the night was not only the debut of the Made By Moments’ films (you can watch them here) but was also the launch of the Our Table campaign, where Jacob’s Creek Wines would be sending Andy Allen around the country to attend six dinner parties featuring Jacob’s Creek Wines. It was our job to put on the event and present a menu paired with the provided drops.

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Drinks on the terrace at Pod Food.

Now, Belinda and I love food and can be rather competitive…so we immediately started scheming to make Canberra’s dinner party THE BEST EVER! ‘Let’s get some of The Forage vendors involved,’ said Belinda. ‘And we’ll ask Moxom & Whitney to do the flowers, and get a local singer on board, and…’ I just nodded enthusiastically and said, ‘I hope he brings his dad.’

The amazing food-inspired centrepiece from Moxom & Whitney.

The amazing food-inspired centrepiece from Moxom & Whitney.

Over the next couple of weeks, Belinda spoke to her many contacts, putting together an incredible seven-course feast. Owner and chef of Pialligo’s Pod Food, John Leverink, offered to host the event at his gorgeous hidden gem, as well as whipping up several courses. Carlos and Moncho Ramirez-Roldan from Mr Papa agreed to plate up one main course, and Tom Luxton from The One at Westside Acton Park would create the other main and a very un-street food dessert.

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The wonderful ladies from Moxom & Whitney started to dream up a food-focussed centrepiece, local chanteuse (and X Factor Series 5 Top 24), Vendulka came on board to provide sweet tunes, and Tracy Lee Photography had her camera at the ready. We invited the team, our partners and a couple of lovely readers, and the scene was set.

The lovely Vendulka.

The lovely Vendulka.

Andy arrived (without his dad) and immediately proclaimed the bar was set high—’I was expecting to rock up in someone’s backyard…not this!’ We don’t do things by half in Canberra. But, to be serious for a moment, the Jacob’s Creek story is all about ‘passion, people, place’ and that’s what we wanted to showcase with this dinner party. We wanted to bring together some of our most passionate foodies and creatives to show Andy—and the rest of Australia—what this city’s passionate people are capable of putting together. They didn’t disappoint. Read on for all the delicious details.

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Jacob’s Creek Wines reds.

 

‘OUR TABLE’ MENU

Canapés by Pod Food

Duck breast, Pialligo stonefruit

Pigs blood, smoked Pialligo apple

Served with Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay Pinot Noir

Entrée by Pod Food

Kingfish tartare, nectarine, radish, rice cracker

Served with Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay Pinot Noir

Entrée by Pod Food

Mum’s cherry tomatoes, roast strawberries, local cow curd, basil

Served with Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay 

Main by Mr Papa

Tacu Chaufa Nikkei-Style fried rice and beans pancake, Pork Belly Kakuni, Salsa Criolla and yellow chilli.

Served with Jacob’s Creek Shiraz

Main by The One

Shared Meat Platter: slow cooked crispy pork neck and beef chuck, crispy sous vide chicken wings, Thai slaw, charred sweet American bread with BBQ, chilli, garlic and sumac emulsion and guacamole.

Served with Jacob’s Creek Cabernet Sauvignon and Double Barrel Shiraz

Dessert by The One

White chocolate and hibiscus bavarois

Served with coffee

Dessert by Pod Food

Pistachio brownie, garden blackberries

Served with coffee

Pod Food's canapé of pigs blood, smoked Pialligo apple.

Pod Food’s canapé of pigs blood, smoked Pialligo apple.

Pod Food’s team presented elegant dishes inspired by, and featuring, local produce. Stonefruit shone in several of their courses, and was picked literally just down the road, while berries prompted childhood memories of foraging. Their dishes were the perfect way to start—and end—the meal.

Pod Food's entrée of kingfish tartare, nectarine, radish, rice cracker.

Pod Food’s entrée of kingfish tartare, nectarine, radish, rice cracker.

They were matched with Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the crispness of the sparkling a great foil to the tartness of the stonefruit, and the rich chardonnay a wonderful pairing for the tomatoes, strawberries and cow’s curd from local producer, The Cheese Project.

Pod Food's entrée of Mum's cherry tomatoes, roast strawberries, local cow curd, basil.

Pod Food’s entrée of Mum’s cherry tomatoes, roast strawberries, local cow curd, basil.

Mr Papa’s main was something quite unlike I’d ever eaten before. Nikkei is the combination of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine currently sweeping the globe, and this dish was an intriguing fusion of the two cultures. Andy was fascinated by the rice and beans ‘pancake’, and the pork belly simply melted in the mouth. This one needed a big red, and the Jacob’s Creek Shiraz didn’t disappoint.

Mr Papa's Tacu Chaufa Nikkei-Style fried rice and beans pancake, Pork Belly Kakuni, Salsa Criolla and yellow chilli.

Mr Papa’s Tacu Chaufa Nikkei-Style fried rice and beans pancake, Pork Belly Kakuni, Salsa Criolla and yellow chilli.

If you’ve ever visited The One at Westside Acton Park, you’ll know their meats are something special…tonight’s meat platter was no exception, the 14 hours of sous vide cooking making it all fall-apart tender. Paired with the crunchy slaw and crispy bread, it was absolutely delicious—and sharing encouraged conversation around the table.

The One's Shared Meat Platter: slow cooked crispy pork neck and beef chuck, crispy sous vide chicken wings, Thai slaw, charred sweet American bread with BBQ, chilli, garlic and sumac emulsion and guacamole.

The One’s Shared Meat Platter: slow cooked crispy pork neck and beef chuck, crispy sous vide chicken wings, Thai slaw, charred sweet American bread with BBQ, chilli, garlic and sumac emulsion and guacamole.

We took our time with this one, and got to try two wines with it—Jacob’s Creek Cabernet Sauvignon and Double Barrel Shiraz—meaning there was something to match both the lighter and more robust meats.

The One's Shared Meat Platter: slow cooked crispy pork neck and beef chuck, crispy sous vide chicken wings, Thai slaw, charred sweet American bread with BBQ, chilli, garlic and sumac emulsion and guacamole.

The One’s Shared Meat Platter.

Dessert really allowed Tom Luxton to show off his fine dining experience. His white chocolate and hibiscus bavarois was a thing of beauty and a beautifully light way to finish the night. A sticky would have been a great pairing with this dessert, but to be honest, we really didn’t need more wine by this point. Coffee (and maybe a little nibble of Pod Food’s pistachio brownie, garden blackberries) was called for!

The One's white chocolate and hibiscus bavarois.

The One’s white chocolate and hibiscus bavarois.

It was a brilliant night. Andy is one of the most down to earth guys we’ve ever met and was really honest and open about his journey since Masterchef. Some exciting news – rumour is he’ll be opening his first restaurant in Sydney this year, so be sure to check it out!

Andy confiding his lack of Instagram skills.

Andy confiding his lack of Instagram skills.

It was an evening that was all about passion, people and place—from the three teams that worked as one in the kitchen to create an amazing, seamless meal to the amazing local talent that created the flowers, music and images, to the people that sat around the table. That’s what food and wine has the ability to do—bring people together.

The teams from Pod Food, Mr Papa and The One work together to create an amazing meal.

The teams from Pod Food, Mr Papa and The One work together to create an amazing meal.

The beautiful Pod Food.

The beautiful Pod Food.

Want to see all the photos from the Our Table event? Check them out here.

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Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author

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