Saturday, June 18, 2011

Off the Wall!

Ritual Restaurant in Nelson Bay gave us a fantastic culinary experience last weekend. Their philosophy is "food is art" rather than "food is fuel" and the entire meal was inspired by the poem "My Country" by Dorothea Mackellar. The food journey was around 3 hours of tasty morsels, bites and taste sensations. To keep our tastebuds alert, a novel part of the experience was Ritual's Wall Art. The Wall Art consisted of 3 or 4 plaques on the wall with teaspoons slotted into the holes. On each spoon was a bite of a different flavour or texture combination.

Crispy Artichoke Shell being filled
with Artichoke Paste
Our first spoonful was two different types of artichoke: a crispy shell into which we squeezed a paste from a little tube we were served. I love artichoke and it was a really delicious bite full of intense artichoke flavour but crunchy and cream textures.

Wall Art at Ritual
The next spoonfuls came together later: "chicken sandwich," a rye crisp with crispy chicken skin, capers and cheese. It really did have the flavour of a full sandwich. And pork crackling which was crunchy with the salty recognisable flavour, but with zing of sour plum.

Strawberry Scent &
Celery Seed Rice Cracker
The Wall Art tastings were scattered throughout the meal, so after our entrée and before main, we had an interesting flavour pairing: celery crackers with a strawberry skoosh. It was one of the dishes that was most difficult to understand but at best the strawberry flavour is supposed to bring out the different notes in the celery. For me it was just a fun excuse to spray and crunch!

Next was the meatless bacon and eggs which really did have the flavour of meat despite just being a smoked and pickled quail egg.

Hunter Valley ‘Blumembert,’ Pineapple
Pillows with Lemon Basil 
The "cheese course" was a really interesting flavour combination. We are all familiar with the good old cheese and pineapple toothpicks, well it's a tried and tested combo which worked beautifully on the spoons. The Hunter Valley cheese was complimented by the pineapple "pillow."

Finally the dessert spoon was a really wonderful fudgy dark and white chocolate bite with pink peppercorns giving it a bit of a kick. It was a really unusual mix of flavours, creamy and peppery, and given my love of pepper, I found it delicious! Maybe even more so than the real dessert which followed!

It was a really innovative idea to keep us engaged between courses and to showcase some delicious fusions of flavour. A great addition to such a wonderful meal and in keeping with Ritual,'s food philosophy: fascinating and a lot of fun!


Nic said...

I love the idea of the wall art, sounds like a very cool experience!

Eftychia said...

Interesting post! Thanks for sharing!

chocolatesuze said...

this restaurant sounds like a fabulous experience! love the idea of the wall art!

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