Things you've never dreamed of

August 2nd, 2010 by Rose

Bastille Week 11 Course Degustation @ Restaurant Balzac, Randwick

Or, I Really Shouldn’t Have Worn a Dress with a Belt

What up? At the moment I’m sitting in front of the computer wearing bright pink penguin pajamas, having taken the day off because I’m coughing my lungs up every 5 minutes. It’s a great time to get stuff done though. So far today I have: answered some work emails (and was told off by my boss for being out of bed already), eaten muesli with yoghurt, read through several pages of I Am Maru, faffed about on Facebook, Twittered and went through my usual early morning anxiety. Now, I write.

Last month my good friends May and Cam organised a day out with a bunch of us, starting with mini golf in Narrabeen (I failed spectacularly), then degustation at Restaurant Balzac in Randwick. I’ve always wanted to try out Restaurant Balzac, and our timing was good – they had a special 11 course degustation menu that week to celebrate Bastille Day. It was priced at $110 and $180 with matching wines. I made a big show of umming and aahing about whether to get matching wines or not, but I really didn’t need any encouragement as I’m only one drink away from being an alcoholic.

We started off with my favourite meal in the entire universe – bread and butter. Seriously I can survive on good bread and butter for weeks on end.

First course: rillette of rabbit with pickled gherkins and crispy bread. My rabbit anecdote: I refused to eat rabbit meat when I was 9 because I had pet rabbits. Whenever my dad bought rabbit satays, he would tell me that they’re chicken. It didn’t help me get over the rabbit thing, but it did make me distrust him AND food for a while. It felt a bit weird eating the rillette as a result, but my dysfunctional childhood had no impact on the taste – it was good. The gherkins did their job of making everything just that little bit better.

Second course: truffle and artichoke veloute. Creamy, rich and truffle-y – like getting in a bath with Cleopatra, minus poisonous snakes.

Third course: Endive Tart Fine with Fresh Goat Curd, served with 2008 Shaky Bridge ‘Pioneer’ Gewurztraminer. The wine was the first of six glasses, which would prove to be my undoing. I enjoyed this immensely, but not quite enough for me to think of an analogy.

My unfinished wines from the third and fourth courses. I’m a goddamn lightweight but the last time I had too much white wine, I ended up in a strip club in Petersham so I had a reason to be careful around them. That second wine is a French 2007 Domaine Matassa ‘Nouge’ Muscat/Maccabeu/Viognier. Yes, I just copied and pasted that from their online menu. It’s a very minerally wine that goes well with the scallop in the fourth course.

Fourth course: roast scallop with celeriac and caviar. I took this photo and was like, duh, the main component of the dish is the scallop – it should be turned the other way round you dumbarse. So here’s a closeup of the scallop to make me feel better:

This was pretty fucking amazing. The scallop was perfectly cooked and sweet, and the celeriac puree was out of this world tasty.

Fifth course: galantine of pheasant and guinea fowl with a mushroom salad. I liked the mushroom salad more than the galantine. The dish was slightly ruined for the SO because they forgot to take off the glad wrap casing around his slice of galantine. Our sommelier assured us that someone will be shot for it. The SO still complains about it now, I just pretend I can’t hear him. This was served with 2007 Passetoutgrain, Domaine Taupenot – Merme from Burgundy.

Sixth course: cassoulet of lamb shoulder with haricot beans and fried lamb sweetbreads, topped with breadcrumbs. I loved the medley of textures it, but the SO and May thought it was a bit bland. The wine for this one is 2005 Medoc, Domaine Lapalu ‘La Patache’ from Bordeaux, France. Started to get shitfaced around this time and stopped paying attention to the wine.

This was the highlight for almost everyone at the table. Seventh course: deboned oxtail ‘a la Bourguignonne’ topped with a slice of bone marrow, and veal tongue. The meat was melt in your mouth tender though I have to say I still feel a bit wrong when I eat veal. It’s like getting a Swedish massage by angels – strong and delicate all at the same time with a slight fear of God. Served with 2008 Poonawatta ‘The Four Corners’ Shiraz which the SO liked almost as much as he likes me.

Eighth course, but who’s counting? A cheese plate consisting of a truffled brie (brie infused with truffles) and roquefort. Sry2say that I’m a cheese philistine who can’t appreciate blue cheese, which the SO ate the most of. I absolutely loved the brie though.

Ninth course: a palate cleanser/pre dessert that I liked better than the dessert itself: apple jelly with Calvados sabayon.

Tenth course: ‘Iles Flotante’ – May said this means “floating island”. A little island of meringue in a bed of light vanilla brulee sauce, topped with crunchy praline. It’s quite light, which was a blessing because I was down to the last notch on my belt.

Just when I thought the food was never going to stop coming, we got to the eleventh course of petit fours and tea/coffee. We had vanilla macarons, truffles and madeleines. It was nice enough, but at this point I really just want to pass out and sleep for about two weeks. Not just because of the rich food, but because the degustation took five hours from start to finish. Not the restaurant’s fault obviously… an 11 course degustation was always going to be an epic affair.

Restaurant Balzac
141 Belmore Rd
Randwick NSW 2031
(02) 9399 9660


9 Responses to “Bastille Week 11 Course Degustation @ Restaurant Balzac, Randwick”
  1. Looks pretty delicious and I love your humour. But I’m more interested in that strip club in Petersham.. do tell..

  2. You’re funny/peculiar. And that is so much food! Would have been very worried if you had finished all the wine as well.

  3. Oh this menu is fantastic! I hear you on the bread and butter though, just add a little cheese and I could just exist on that combo. Erm, yes I do love my carbs.

  4. A lack of sophisticated palate for cheese must be genetic, cos I don’t like blue cheese either.

    Though I have to say that I’ve always enjoyed rabbit, so yay for one childhood trauma I never faced. The scallop and the cassoulet look divine.

  5. I had a friend get some surprise plastic wrap too, but luckily she’s not the repetitively complaining type. Plus now she’s living in London so I couldn’t hear her from there anyway.

    Is Mark Antony going to be in the bath too?

  6. @Forager – next blog post, honest!
    @Bel – Yeah… I didn’t feel like I had to prove anything to my mates, so wines went untouched (well… they helped me finish them cos two of them didn’t get matching wines)
    @Yasmin – you like brie though, right?
    @Conor – only if he’s hot and adorned with truffles.

  7. I keep hearing about that strip club incident…tee hee!

    But my goodness, ELEVEN courses! I’m afraid I don’t do blue vein cheese either, and a friend of mine claims it tastes like smelly feet =p

  8. I really have to go to Balzac one day. The photos look so delicious. I could almost taste them. I’m so jealous. :)

  9. shame on me i did not come before on your blog !! I love the way you write and more …you are funny : long live to your blog!!!
    11 courses although I am thin like a model I wonder if the belt of my pants would have been useful at the end !
    Cheers de Paris

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