A culinary adventure

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  • Published 20070504
  • ISBN: 9780733321221
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

In a Sydney restaurant in 1978, what was called a “maritime” salad exploded my notion of Australian restaurant fare. Strips of abalone, smoked trout, poached squid and butter beans on radicchio leaves made spokes of a wheel. At the hub was a cabbage leaf filled with marinated scallops. A partnering creamy avocado dressing was beautifully balanced – smooth and fragrant, and neither too fatty nor too tart. A main course consisted of six thin slices of lamb – pink in the centre and fawn at the edges. They were the petals of a flower whose calyx was an inverted mushroom topped with a mound of tan garlic puree. The lot sat in a sauce enriched with a great burgundy. I wrote in The Age that the meal Patric Juillet put in front of me at his Cafe Nouveau was one of the best I had eaten anywhere – and by then I had been to Troisgros, which had two Michelin stars, and several one-star restaurants in France. Everything Cafe Nouveau tabled was light, subtle and sophisticated. I doubted that one could have consumed more scintillating food anywhere in the world.

Yet there was such a place. And it was in an Australian city.

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