I’m known as a bit of a foodie amongst my friends.
However, at food quiz Gastronomica I discovered that my small font of knowledge was nothing compared to the food nerdiness displayed by the rest of Team Phat Preston, including food bloggers Tummyrumbles, Melbourne Gastronome, Tomato, Eating with Jack, Essjay Eats and Eatnik.
In fact, I was lucky to get a spot on Team Phat at all, as they were the defending champions of Gastronomica and seats were highly sought after. At one stage I thought I’d have to face an entrance exam to establish my credentials!
Gastronomica is the ultimate foodie’s quiz. Ever heard of the winery producing Olmo’s Reward? Know which is hotter – red or green Tabasco? Can you name the seafood in a Dublin Lawyer? This is the place for you – an opportunity to beat chefs, a cookbook shop owner or ex-Masterchef contestants at their own game.
The night was ably hosted by MC Amanda Finnis as she took us through three rounds of questions, the Wheel of Cheese, a mystery box and the instant review. She kept the pace moving, throwing in quips here and there, all the while deftly deflecting argumentative foodies contesting the spelling of ‘allioli’ and the correct definition of an ‘idli’ (both objections raised by Phat Preston).
Team Phat came a commendable second place with minimal contributions from me, three points behind Team Matteo who came over to our table gloating with their trophy.
I really enjoyed my night at Gastronomica but I can’t say that I’d necessarily return to Collins Quarter for a meal. Here’s a quick run down of the two course set menu that Collins Quarter offered for the event for $30.
I selected the house smoked Victorian blue eye with marinated cucumber and gazpacho sorbet. When it arrived, my first thought was that it looked really…weird. As you can see, it was a conglomeration of slime – a quenelle of melting sorbet, slices of slithery fish and lengths of flaccid cucumber. It tasted ok but really the presentation could have been a lot better.
The jamon and white peach salad with cow’s milk mozarella and black garlic looked much more appetising.
For mains I couldn’t go past the roasted Otway pork belly and a large slab of it arrived with cubes of crispy roast potatoes and a large fistful of snow pea sprouts. The pork was quite tasty and not too fatty but I think it could have benefited from a little more time in the oven to crisp up the skin. For a mass-produced meal, it was a decent dish.
The other choice of mains was a pan roasted ling with mussels, white beans and fresh peas. It seemed to receive no complaints so I’m assuming that it was ok.
One of the highlights was actually the bread, as it was served with a fragrant and creamy organic oil from Spain. Simply delicious.
I guess it’s a bit unfair to judge a restaurant on its mass-produced fare, so perhaps Collins Quarter deserves another chance.