Disclaimer: I was a guest at the menu launch.
If you follow me on instagram (you can expect food, wine, cats and roses) you’ll have noticed that last Tuesday I was posting some very beautiful dishes … and that’s because I’d been invited along to the menu launch for this year’s Variety on King William lunch which is a regular feature in the Adelaide Fashion Festival. King William Road (KWR) itself turns into both fashion runway and restaurant as literally hundreds of people sit down to enjoy a fine dining experience. Not only do people get to be well fed and watered, but the feel good factor kicks in, as the event raises money for Variety, the Children’s Charity. This year the lunch is being held this Friday, 17 October.
The menu launch not only showed off the amazing food that will be on offer, but it also demonstrated how well traders in an area can work together and how much these kinds of collaborative efforts benefit everyone. When you’re turning out hundreds of plates of food, no one can afford to be precious, and staff from all the restaurants pitch in to ensure that the event runs smoothly.
Guests at the menu launch were given strict instructions to arrive promptly at Ichitaro Dining for a 1230 start – apparently cars would be waiting! I was a bit confused by this (after all – how long is King William Road?!) but Peugeot is one of the event’s major sponsors and had laid on cars to take us on the two longest hops of our prandial progress.
At Ichitaro, Akira greeted us with salmon rolls and Japanese style vegetable croquettes (yasai croquets). As all the wine sponsors were also being showcased, this was paired with the Totino Estate Cartia sparkling white. There were a few quick photo opps and the final guest arrived and we jumped in the Peugeots to head to Bottega Rotolo.
I haven’t been to Bottega Rotolo’s year old KWR store before – but my goodness – it is very impressive. Very bright and modern, well stocked with all sorts of goodies and a very impressive cheese display. Here we were treated to more canapés: saffron and leek tartlets with a truffle ‘caviar’ (created by that now almost stalwart of molecular gastronomy techniques, spherification) and anchovies with sun dried tomatoes and Grok (Grana Padano which has been oven baked and turns into crispy intensely flavoured cheesy crumbles – it’s very very good!).
The leek and saffron tarts were absolutely delicious. The pastry was light and crisp, the filling soft with a cleverly balanced depth of flavour added by the saffron and the earthiness from the truffle. I think everyone was oohing and aahing about these.
These were both paired with Fox Gordon’s Pinot Grigio. As I was driving, I was holding off on wine tasting but I can tell you that the wine has a very pretty pink blush to it.
We then walked up to Faraja (where I’ve previously enjoyed a very good lunch) for the first of the two main courses (that’s right – guests enjoy two main courses at this lunch so wear something comfortable as well as stylish!).
This was barramundi cooked in a banana leaf and served with a remoulade and salsa – and it was paired with a Tomich Hill Sauvignon Blanc. This is a smart dish when catering for large numbers as the parcels can be prepared in advance and cooking fish en papillote is forgiving. My fish was absolutely perfect: moist and full of flavour.
Already feeling rather full, we were picked up by our Peugeot cars (by this stage we were all thinking we could get used to this …) and taken down to Parisi’s for the second main course and the desserts. Here we enjoyed fillet steak with a light apple and rocket salad. This was beautifully presented and it seemed something of a shame to tuck in but … tuck in we did. This was paired with the Wicks Estate Shiraz.
This was a really smartly sized dish – the piece of fillet steak was generous in size but the salad was smaller and very light and refreshing. The steak was cooked heading towards medium which did generate some discussion. Cooking steak for hundreds of people must be an utterly thankless task – even at our table of 15-20 people there was no consensus on what would be right or appropriate so my hat is well and truly off to the kitchen at Parisi’s for taking this on. While the steak was over done for me (but I do rather like my steak warm all the way through but still jelly like in the middle) I do think that how it’s been cooked will not rock too many boats. Good luck for the event!
We wrapped up by sampling both desserts that will be on offer. At the event, it will be an alternate drop, but for the sake of completeness, we got to try both. By Blackbird’s little green dome (something I would never have tried had I walked into the café) was a mint and vanilla tart on a poppy seed base with a basil and lime gel. It was lovely – the tart filling was very light, the gel not at all tough and the biscuit base was crisp. I’m probably the last person in Adelaide to have not been to By Blackbird but it’s now definitely on my to-do list.
The final dessert came from Mulot’s: a berry chiboust with strawberries, raspberries and blueberries served with a raspberry coulis.
The two desserts are paired with sparkling wines from Tomich Hill and Wicks Estate. For those of us driving (rather than drinking – that would have been me!), we enjoyed coffees from Cotto Espresso.
This was a really well put together event that did a brilliant job of not only promoting the Variety on King William lunch but also showcasing some of King William Road’s restaurants. It reminded me that really I need to make an effort to head that way a little more often.
Tickets for Variety on King William cost $140 a head ($1400 for a table of 10) and can be purchased online. The lunch kicks off at midday on Friday 17 October (and finishes at 3:30pm) – and if you can’t make the lunch you can still support both Variety and KWR by checking out the fashion show or having a coffee or lunch at another venue on KWR. While part of the street is closed to traffic all the shops will be open and Parisi’s will be hosting the ‘after party’ from 4pm.