Being invited to a Becasse degustation dinner was an exciting invitation indeed. Not just because it came directly from the Becasse chef Justin North but also because this was my first degustation there. Becasse holds degustations every month matching different wine regions with food and this one was the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France and tonight's dining companion is Rebecca.
I did like the strong sardine flavour but I should confess now that I didn't fall head over heels in love with this. I thought the puff was a touch dry because it was so voluminous compared to the sardine and longed for something in the centre of it.
Bread: Green olive and lemon thyme olive bread served with 2005 Caves de Sieurs d'Arques, Blanquette du Limoux, Roussillon (a mix of Chenin, Sauvignon and Chardonnay)
The green olive and lemon thyme bread is like an olive foccacia with a light lemon flavour. It comes with the olive oil gel with black salt and really comes into its own with it. We adore it so much that when they ask me if I'd like more, after some initial hesitation at excess carb ingestion, I nod a resounding yes.
Our amuse bouche is an Oyster with lime caviar. The lime caviar is made with molecular gastronomy techniques and is the exact size of ocean trout roe. Inside the liquid is more viscous so there's less of a liquidey pop than you get with roe but more a slow oozing onto the tongue. And it's good, oh so very good.
Our Assiette Montpellier was escalopes of marinated rouget and scallop with rouget jelly, carrot emulsion, carrot and orange sorbet, sesame filo, petite herbs and Spring flowers and radish sprouts. Now I knew this one would be interesting with the quenelle of carrot and orange sorbet with the fish and tiny scallops. Whilst Rebecca initially hesitated with the differing temperatures, I thought it was wonderful, especially when the sorbet had melted a little and became a cool sorbet "soup" with glistening rouget jelly, soft scallops and rouget. Texturally this was heaven. I did need a spoon to scoop it up though once it melted and we used the bread to mop up the last precious drops of this. This wine was interesting with almost a blue cheese aroma and it was very creamy on the tongue. It was 70% Roussane, 20% Viogner and 10% Grenache Blanc.
_Bourride served with 2006 Domaine de l'Arjolle, Equinoxe, Vin de pays des Cotes de Thongue ( (Viogner, Sauvignon and Muscat)
Probably my favourite dish of the night, this was a modern reinterpretation of a classic fish stew. It was a delicate fish stew of mussels, clams, prawns and ocean jacket, light bisque emulsion, aioli foam, gremolata puree and petie cress. Not so much a stew, the seafood was perfectly cooked and even though you'd think seafood is a light dish, the prawns and aioli foam and bisque emulsion gave it an unexpected richness.
Cassoulet is usually an exercise in richness so a terrine version is a clever way of giving us a taste of cassoulet without loading us down. It's a gorgeous plate with a brickwork look Mosaic of confit duck, chorizo, smoked hock and pancetta with 4 types of beetroot with beetroot jelly, beetroot compote, a disc of beetroot gel and a slice of beetroot. The beetroot is sweet and accompanies the terrine well and gives it a lightness whilst we're still getting the unmistakeable cassoulet experience.
Lamb Perpignon served with 2007 Domaine Clavel, Less Garringues Coteaix de Languedoc (Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre)
This was our last savoury dish and it smelt ambrosial as it was set down in front of us. It was an aromatic braised lamb neck, confit belly and smoked fillet with grilled asparagus, fondant potato, burnt butter and rosemary jus. It's rare to see lamb's belly on the menu as I am used to seeing pork belly. The slow braised neck and confit belly were absolutely lip smackingly delightful. I adore long, slow braises which serve to make the meat so rich and tender. The wine is wonderfully smooth and even though I'm not a huge red wine drinker, I did like this.
We did enquire a little about the golden tomato and olive oil sorbet and they kindly brought us out a little sample. The golden tomato and olive oil sorbet are sublime together and not overly sweet, still true to their natural flavour. I loved the way that it slid down my tongue and down my throat. It's hard to describe but it really does provide such an amazing sensation.
Dessert time! And it's a very large and rich dessert with a chocolate and cherry. The dessert had a soft black forest sponge, ganache puree, cherry and raspberry sorbet. I could only finish half of this, try as I did as the richness got the better of me. It was an ice cream like texture with crunchy chocolate crumbs on the outside and a centre of frozen cherry gel. I adore fruit desserts so I love the cherries, raspberries and sorbet which are so perfectly placed on the plate. What is surprising is the dessert wine which is a sparkling red and it's fantastic.
With the coffee comes the petit fours arrive. The vanilla shortbread is nice and lightly baked, the chocolate macaron ganache is unfortunately melted so it's best prised apart and eaten in case of spillage (and I probably didn't need any more chocolate after dessert). The poached pear financier is delightfully light and eggy. The coffee is excellent.
The next degustation evening is on Monday 12th, Tuesday 13th with the world of the Pyrenees and Gasconi, South and South West France. 6 courses including matched wines $130 per person.
NQN dined as a guest of Beccase.
204 Clarence Street, Sydney 2000
Telephone: +61 (0)2 9283 3440