Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living.
~ Jim Elliot
From last night:
My face and feet are slightly sore, but in this context, I am happy to bear such pain again.
My face aches from smiling throughout a dinner that spans four hours. Also, my feet ache from an exercise in self control – plastering them to the ground in moments of wanting to push my chair back and jump up and down in excitement.
Sadly, it’s not the done thing to wave your napkin around and dance in a fine dining establishment. Especially when doing so may result in you being politely removed before you get to finish your diner.
Following a series of unforeseen circumstances, S and M had invited me to dine with them at Meredith’s; paying me a compliment too that – you know, is one of the best things you can ever tell someone: “there’re not many people we will willingly eat with for three-four hours”. Aww, shucks! ;-)
The pleasure is all mine…
We get to order the tasting menu. Seven courses, a rainbow crescendo as I call it – each course a vivid and distinct hue, which still come together to form a colourful song… each course unbelievably better than the one before. There are decent time gaps between each course, so we get to converse and share stories for four hours – indeed a luxury I very much enjoy.
There are three courses with options – paua/quail, pork/fish, chocolate/not chocolate. Tough choices to make!… I opt for les fruits de mer et le chocolat, consoling myself with the fact that it will all be delicious no matter what I pick! Here is the menu…
Smoked duck & beetroot sandwich
Akaroa salmon, scampi, pink grapefruit & cucumber
Buttercup tortellini, tofu, green banana & coconut
Quail, yoghurt, chickpea, honeycomb & hazelnuts
Northland paua, cauliflower sprouts, chlorophyll & smoked eel [my choice]
Bacon & eggs, smoked potato & tapioca
Market fish, mandarin, octopus, celeriac & leek [my choice]
Free range pork, pink fir potatoes & jerusalem artichoke
Dark chocolate, tropical fruit & coconut [my choice]
Apple, pear, rosemary & liquorice marshmallow
As I read the menu again post-dining, I want to laugh – it is SO deceptive. There are no lies in the menu, but if the menu comprises lines of notes, the food that arrives at our table are sonatas. Each course is a dream – complete with simple elements like poached eggs, crushed nuts and shiitake mushrooms, as well as such wonders as cucumber sorbet, edible flowers, inky yet lucent chlorophyll, and foam. In magic combinations. East meets West in smoky spices, pasta, fruit in food, a clear broth, edamame beans, fried shallots, and something which brings to mind Japanese bonito flakes.
Some flavours are seductive and elusive by turn, the silhouette of a maiden in a dark hallway; others are full and explosive, buttons flying off a well-filled coat. Texture is to the chef’s hand, I imagine, what playdough is to a child – fun and flexible, playful and imaginative. Each course is far from bland – chewiness, softness, inkiness; food that dissolves instantly upon interacting with saliva; food that takes a little longer to be persuaded into your belly – all are present.
I feel like I am at a playground, indulging in space and light and imagination and laughter. Wonderful.
Every plate elicits a slight gasp.
Every bite is emphatically good.
Thank you, S, M, Meredith’s – M for the invitation email, S for buying us dinner, and Meredith’s for the fantastic service and dining experience.
Photo above: courtesy M
Meredith’s Restaurant – 365 Dominion Road, Auckland – Phone: 09 623 3140