One-hat Church Street Enoteca is one of the more notable Italian restaurants in Melbourne’s inner city, so I was very excited when Ron O’Bryan, the head chef at Church Street Enoteca, offered myself and other bloggers (My Food Trail, Melbourne Gastronome, Tammi Jonas and Cooking with Goths) the opportunity to join other food lovers in the restaurant’s Tour of the Obscure.
The premise of the five course dinner was to take a journey through the more unknown grape varieties of Italy, matched with a series of the dishes from the various regions.
Our arrival we started with a deliciously refreshing Prosecco di Valdobbiadene from Sorelle Bronca and then were shown to our candelit tables and provided with some deliciously crusty bread and olive oil.
First course was my favourite – a salad of shaved Fratelli Galloni prosciutto topped with raw artichoke, fennel, broad beans, almond and lemon. This melange of Italian colours was also a perfect mix of contrasting textures, from the softness of the ham to the crunch of the fennel and almonds and the firmly bulbous beans. The robust food flavours were matched with a very dry Toscano Biano IGT 2007 from Montauto in Toscana near the coast.
Second course was a rabbit, fennel and cotechino brodo with rabbit cappelletti and spring herbs. Unfortunately my photos of the dish didn’t turn out well enough to post here. Who knew that the sheen reflecting off a bowl of broth could be so hard to capture on film? The wine was a Verdicchio di Matelica DOC 2008 from organic winery Collestefano. The winery is situated in a cool and dry hilly area in the hinterland of the Marche, 420m above sea level, and thus produces grapes with a long ripening period. This lends a tautness and acidity to the wine which contrasted well with the rich sausage.
Third course – 12 hour pork belly with apple puree and broade. In a table of food bloggers none of us could work out what ‘broade’ was but we assumed it was either the shavings of spicy pickled turnip or the gravy-like sauce that was drizzled over the perfectly crackled and moist slabs of pork. The meat was served with Refosco IGT 2007 from Primosic winery in Fruili. Refosco is an indigenous grape variety of the area near the northern border with Slovenia and the wine had an unexpected aroma of blue cheese and a high level of acidity, again contrasting with the richness of the pork belly.
My second favourite dish of the night – twice cooked duck with couscous, cinnamon and orange. A perfect North African inspired dish to match the southern Sicilian Nero d’Avola IGT 2007 from Gulfi winery. This pinot noir-like wine was my favourite wine of the night, with a fresh and tight structure.
Dolci was a platter of tastes and textures – lemon, passionfruit, blackberry and olive oil. My picks were the honey-sweet torrone with pistachios and the fluffy passionfruit marshmallows. Dessert was matched with a glass of golden-hued Passito Bianco DOC 2006 from La Cappucina in Veneto near Verona, a sweet but not sticky dessert wine made from aerated rack-dried grapes aged in oak.
The dinner was immensely enjoyable from start to finish, from the careful selection of food and wine to the friendly and efficient service. I highly recommend Church Street Enoteca for anything from a special occasion to a midweek meal – just make sure you make a booking soon, as Ron’s last day in the kitchen is 23 December, after which he will be embarking on a new venture in St Kilda.