Thursday, 1 November 2012

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I'm sensing a theme. It's a very inadvertent theme. But perhaps that's how it starts. Last week, it was Naked for Satan. This week, slow-roasted kid goat followed by la fiesta de la vispera del dia de los muertos.

Complete coincidence of a thread running through there. Really.

I came up with Naked for Satan at the request for a cheap place for dinner. It's a pinxtos and vodka bar on Brunswick Street. It's a name that conjures up all sorts of images and a concern about who amongst your friends you can actually suggest this to. The name refers to Russian Leon Satanovich who fled to Melbourne from Russia in the twenties and worked as a caretaker of a premises on Brunswick street. He unearthed some big old copper boilers and with them created vodka stills. During the hot summer months, Leon, or as his Australian friends called him, Satan, would strip down to his undies, to tend to the stills. The code phrase, Let's get naked for Satan, referred to slipping along to a clandestine gathering at the still and drinking the heady liquor.
The copper still dominates the decor and there is some kind of Basque Russian fusion going on as the food on offer is an array of pinxtos, tasty morsels of cold meat or seafood or vegetarian delights served on bread and skewered with a toothpick. The system relies on honesty as you help yourself to as many $2 pinxtos as you like and take your pile of toothpicks up at the end to pay. Happy times.

Then there was the gathering at Gorski and Jones. eatwithme seeks to connect people through sharing food and eating together. Once you join the online community, you can join events which have already been suggested or come up with your own idea for a food experience. Tuesday night is kid goat night at Gorski and Jones.
Gorski and Jones have a wood-fired oven and they're not afraid to use it. The chefs down there on Smith Street delight in coming up with new taste sensations from the aforementioned wood-fired oven, sensations that aren't pizza. Their latest offering is slow-roasted kid goat. Divine. And you may note the deliberate insertion of a more celestial adjective to counteract the seemingly dark leanings of my food choices. So I ate baby goat with 7 strangers and I liked it.

Lastly, there was a day of the dead eve down at Pantry, where Melbourne's most renowned Mexican restaurant, Mamasita, came to Brighton. The Pantry hosts Masterclasses every now and then where they invite chefs to come and share their passion for food and last night it was Scott Eddington, the very talented 26 year old Head Chef from Mamasita. 

It was very rock n roll. The owner of Pantry yelled a superstar intro into the microphone and the music blasted as Scott Eddington took his place before the assembled 100 guests. Appearing unruffled by the camera and phallic microphone right up beside him, projecting his every move onto a large screen behind him, he deftly prepared dishes and explained the hows and the whys of his recipes. It's street food, basically. Street food is so hot right now. And speaking of hot, Scott explained that the food that he and his team create at Mamasita is not about the heat of the chillis, but is more about the flavour profile. The chilli lifts and enhances the flavours of the other ingredients rather than cancelling them all out through a fiery and numbing shut-down. We tasted ceviche and guacamole on tostaditas, or little tostadas; tongue and cheek in a soft shell taco; pork fillet rolled in herbs and spices and served on a walnut sauce and a little chocolate flan. We even did a tequila tasting. Who knew there were highlands and lowlands and the tequila from the highlands is sweeter? I'm picking quite a few people knew that. I didn't, but I do now and I feel happy in the knowledge and certainly happy to have tasted the chocolate and cinnamon notes in the highland tequila.

Mamasita is known for its queues. Last weekend they did 640 covers on Friday night and 630 on Saturday. That's a lot of tacos, tostadas and tequila infused sultanas. I may even join the queue one of these days...or invoke the spirits to get me to the front of the line...


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