“It must be really nice to go out for lunch mid-week”, the taxi driver said to me when I told him where I was going today.
“A rare treat”, I told him, as we made our way towards Becasse on Clarence Street for a Producer’s Lunch.
They’ve been doing these lunches for a while now, Chef and Owner, Justin North told us over the public address system. “Nothing too regular, but generally every 6 to 8 weeks, sometimes at the beginning of a season, sometimes at the end”, he added when trying to make some sense of how they’ve approached these lunches.
In essence, though, he explained it was all about getting some really great produce, working a meal around them, and then inviting some of the producers to come along, to meet patrons, and to talk about their produce.
I ended up on a table of people with an interest in coffee. I met two of the most passionate people about coffee I’ve ever met, Dion and Gavin from Single Origin Roasters. They’re based in Reservoir Street, Surry Hills and supply to restaurants around the country, including a couple of local favourites in Bird Cow Fish and The Book Kitchen. Although I can pick the difference between good and bad coffee, my knowledge of it comes nowhere near my knowledge of wine, for example. After spending lunch with these guys, I know a hell of a lot more, particularly about how coffee is graded. They also explained a little a bit about their approach to blending, which involves roasting the beans individually, and then blending, as opposed to blending first and then roasting which, apparently, lots of other people do.
Also, at our table was a bloke called Andrew from Mountain Top Coffee. “Do you know where Nimbin is?”, he asked me at one point. “Do I know where Nimbin is?”, I replied. “I’m a bloody local, born and bred”, I told him, and so for a while we “bonded” about life on the North Coast. And there was a bloke from Selector Magazine, though I didn’t really have much of a chance to chat with him.
So what was good about the lunch? First, there was the aspect of taking a mid-week break in what has, so far, been quite an interesting and exciting week at work.
But second, and most important, the food, wine and beer were excellent. Highlights for me included the locally made (Five Dock) proscuitto which was absolutely beautiful, the Coffin Bay Oysters, the Lake’s Folly Chardonnay, the prawn and mussel ravioli, and the desert. Oh, and the beer. Actually that covers just about everything. The meal, as you might imagine, was excellent.
The service was also excellent. Being at the table closest to the kitchen, it was great to be able to see what was happening behind the scenes. A better run kitchen I’ve never observed so closely before.
Anyway, they do these lunches every couple of months, and they’re $65 each. They also do a Producer’s Lunch every day at $35 which includes a glass of wine. Although Becasse seems terribly up-market these days, especially with compared to their old days in Surry Hills when Damien and I used to go there a bit, they seemed to have “kept it real”. Overall, a terrific way to spend a lunch-time on a Wednesday.
I would have gone to the pub tonight to catch up with the usual crew, but I’m a bit tired to be honest. I came home from work today and hit the couch and fell asleep.
At eight-thirty the phone rang, waking me from the couch. It was Sue calling from Melbourne for a bit of a chat. I fell asleep again until about 9.30 when Jacqui called from Melbourne.
A bit more of a sleep. And now it’s midnight and I’m wide awake. I’m pretty bloody exhausted at the moment. I’m hoping for a few days off soon just for a rest up.
Though I have another catch-up planned for tomorrow night with Mark who is back from Perth.