Sunday, March 3, 2013

Gonzo pornography's little known sub genre: Bacon

Venue: La Luna Bistro
Style: Modern Australian, Steakhouse
Address: 320 Rathdowne St, Carlton North [Google Maps]
Phone: (03) 9349 4888
Hours: Tue-Fri 12pm-3pm & 6pm-10pm / Sat-Sun 12pm-4pm & 6pm-10pm
Prices: Starters $4-19 / Mains $23-57 / Sweets $16 / Feast Menu $85
Bookings: Yes, recommended

Another Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, another visit to La Luna. Last year´s Meat, Malbac and Manly Men feast left a lasting impression on me, attributed to the thick, salty-sweet blood brûlée served for dessert (and partly the Argentinian ambassador´s striking white suit).

This year´s lunch revolved around suckling pigs and concluded with a less gory, more Willy-Wonka-esque take on brûlée, finished with chocolate-covered candied bacon strips.



The only trouble with starters of house-made lardo, salami and prosciutto is that they´re rife with delicate flavours, smoke and herbs and cannot be ignored into small portions, despite an abstract awareness of how much food is to follow. The pickled onion served alongside the prosciutto especially good, cutting through the ribbons of translucent fat.

Prosciutto and pickled onions

Bacon and onion croquettes w/ bacon mayonnaise

As with the preceding courses in what looks to be a habit forming, the bacon and onion croquettes are a tough prospect for anyone trying to save their appetite. The silkiness of the mayonnaise is accompanied by intense bacon flavour; why isn´t this sort of thing available in a jar? Oh, right, my arteries.

Brawn, pickles

Pigs ear schnitzel, sweet apple cabbage

Pigs ear schnitzel has a satisfying crunch and chewiness, not unlike the texture of veal. As is the norm at La Luna, the bolder flavours are offset by the bed on which they rest: sweet and sour apple cabbage and heat from the hint of mustard.

Pork and fennel sausage, parsley salad

Cottechino, roasted garlic aioli

As far as mascots for offal are concerned, cottechino should be given a sash and a cheer squad. Cooked over many hours, cottechino goes from charcuterie to almost resembling beef cheek in depth of flavour and softness. La Luna´s spicy cottechino melts away in the mouth and leads to a minor dispute at the table over who will take the last portion, never mind that there is 40kg of suckling pig en route.

Texan pulled pork w/ corn and avocado salsa

Our last "starter" of pulled pork is more-ish without being mind-blowing. The meat is moist and there´s plenty of sauce, however, it wants for more smoke and heat.

Don´t anthropomorphize me

At last, it´s time for suckling pig, which the kitchen staff parade through the dining room. Formal introductions are made yet I cannot recall any of the pigs´names. I´d feel bad about that were there not worse things to feel bad about where the pigs are concerned...

They were not wasted, though and large helpings of trotter, tail, crackling and face soon were soon piled high on each table.

Chocolate brownies and vanilla crème brûlée w/ candied, choc-drizled bacon

Dessert arrives after a comfortable wait and consists of dense, bite-sized brownies and eye-popping vanilla crème brûlée asking to be eaten with a candied bacon spoon.

On the matter of fat, the MF&WF programme is thickening each year and is bloated with overpriced events of little inspiration. La Luna remains one of the best value options on offer; the produce and cooking are outstanding and Adrian and his staff are obviously bacon fetishists, such is the fun they have prepping and hosting.

La Luna Bistro on Urbanspoon

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