Don't worry Dear Reader, you haven't missed Valentine Day nor have I managed to do some time travel in between meals (although wouldn't that be fabulous). Nor is this a story from about a year ago from Valentines Day 2010. Mr NQN and I were invited to sample Aperitivo's Valentines Day menu ahead of the hallowed day of romance this year. At $60 a head it is a Valentines Day menu that won't have you reaching for your eyes (gouging etc) and they have a six course menu on offer.
Involtini: Mullet involtini filled with asparagus & tomato concassé with vermouth reduction served with 08 Cavalier Pepe Falanghina Campania $10/150ml glass extra
There were two types of the mullet given, one with the skin on and one without the skin on. They're both good although I preferred the skin off version (which is a change as I usually like skin on fish) but I felt that the skinless version was more delicate and "less fishy" if that makes sense and matched better with the asparagus and tomato concasse. There is a touch of bitterness at the very end from the vermouth reduction. Glasses of wine here come in 75ml, 150ml glasses or 375ml carafes and Mr NQN has asked for a wine by the glass to match it. He falls in love with their recommendation, a 08 Cavalier Pepe Falanghina Campania which is said to be a less floral version of a sauvignon blanc. In fact he asks where it can be purchased he likes it so much.
Apple & honeydew gazpacho
The gazpacho is interesting tasting more of apple than honeydew although I'm not that taken by this cold soup as it reminds me of apple sauce. It is served with spicy croutons which give it a more savoury flavour but they do end up a little wet from where they sit in the soup and I ate my shortly after it was set down while Mr NQN took photos of this.
Pepper tagliatelle served with sardines & cherry tomatoes finished with prosecco
The pepper tagliatelle is wonderfully silky and very well cooked and it is flavoured with sardines, breadcrumbs and small pieces of cooked cherry tomato. It has a strong flavour from the sardines but I do like the little crunch from the breadcrumbs and the lovely pasta texture. Because the sardines aren't immediately apparent, it makes the strength and saltiness of the topping a bit of a surprise.
Salsicce Pizza (extra course) $22
Not part of the Valentines Day menu we had to try a pizza as I love Napolitana style pizzas. These are pizzas which are very thin in the centre with a thicker crust and are almost wet in the centre. This one has a heavenly home made truffle pork sausage, mozzarella (real buffalo mozzarella imported from Italy), tallegio, porcini mushroom, parmesan and radicchio (although Guiseppe offered to swap it over for rocket if we didn't like radicchio). Absolutely lovely and yes I ate half of it :P
Mare montagna Slow braised pork belly & sauté balmain bugs served with carrot purée served with 07 Viviani Calpolicella Classico Veneto $10 for a 150ml glass extra
The pork belly comes in two cubes straddling a piece of sauteed balmain bug. I try the pork belly first and it is soft and unctuous and goes well with the sweet aniseedy carrot puree. The Balmain bug has my heart all a flutter. It is cooked so that it is tender and melts in the mouth. Mr NQN also adores this second wine too.
Chargrilled perch with confit duck served with lavander risotto
Our last savoury dish is an interesting one. It is a chargrilled perch roulade edged with a duck confit. The duck confit is interesting, if anything it reminds me of the white meat from chicken with herbs and is an interesting contrast to the delicate white fish so that the herbs and flavour lay on the outside edge. And lavender risotto? Yes and it is actually delicious-lavendery most definitely but also not too soapy so that it is too floral.
Tortino di cioccolato: Chocolate pudding & cherry tomatoes infused with cinnamon & mint on a pandoro base served with a 08 Paolo Sordo Brachetto d'acqui piemonte $14 extra
The chocolate pudding is made using very bittersweet chocolate and candied cherry tomatoes with a gorgeous cinnamon and basil syrup that drenches the pandoro (golden bread similar to panettone without the fruit). We're both not sure if we love the syrupy tomatoes and the chocolate cake together and the chocolate is too bittersweet for me. It almost seems a moot point though given how full we are with the rest of the food. I give the dessert wine a try and it's a sweet red wine but not overpoweringly so with light bubbles and is a lovely way to end the meal.
So tell me Dear Reader, when you order wine, do you usually choose or do you ask the sommelier to match it for you?
NQN and Mr NQN dined as guests of Aperitivo
163 Norton Street, Leichhardt, NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 9564 0003
The Valentines Day menu is $60 per person not including wines or alcohol