With a number of vegan degustation evenings happening around Melbourne this time of year, I was happy to see Transformer were holding their own vegan evening. I enjoyed my first dinner there back in July and this seemed like a great opportunity to go back!
‘The Harvest- Celebrating the Best in Vegan’ was Transformer’s first ever completely vegan dinner, held on October 22nd, showcasing organic spring harvest ingredients in a seven course degustation. We had the choice of the food on its own, or paired with Australian vegan wines and cocktails. The latter was my choice, I rarely drink alcohol but I was really keen to try the pairings. There was a beautifully designed sheet at each place setting giving us some hints about what we’d be having.
I forgot to take a pen to write everything down because my memory isn’t the greatest when I’m around great food I want to get in my face, so many thanks to Lydia at Transformer for emailing me the tasting notes.
Our first Nibbles course was * hazelnut polenta with tofu cream cheese, sous vide mandarin and micro thyme * Pickled vegetables with dry miso * Tomato tartare with hijiki and nori on a lotus chip * Paired with gin garden aperitif cocktail
We were off to a great start! When the second course came out I was rapt to see it included pulled jackfruit as I’ve never had it before (making me potentially one of the last vegans in the village who haven’t) and this was fantastic. Probably my favourite of the night.
I suspect the charcoal steamed bun was a favourite with others in my group but the asparagus Hollandaise served next won some praise for the Australian morel mushrooms which were great– I’m not adventurous with mushrooms other than your standard button shape but these morels were really good. I also enjoyed the Hollandaise sauce and we had a bit of a discussion about what the ingredients could be. I’m also not a huge asparagus fan unless it’s done properly (too many overcooked spears in my time) but these were prepared beautifully.
* New season asparagus, yuzu hollandaise, morel mushrooms, edamame, cherry tomatoes + purple basil * Paired with 2011 Box Grove Vineyard Roussanne:
Next up was artichoke with garlic puree. The black garlic puree was caramelised for four to six weeks and for me, made this dish. I’m not big on artichokes and can take them or leave them (mostly leave) but with the garlic puree, they were dressed up beautifully. The green strip in the photo is shaved artichoke.
* Globe artichokes with warrigal greens, broad beans, black garlic puree,capers and chilli * Paired with 2014 Sam Miranda Arneis from the King Valley:
The Tofu Dashi was next. The tofu came out in a bowl, with a plate of peas alongside. The broth was then poured in to our bowls. This was lovely, not as fully flavoured as other dishes but still good.
* Crispy silken tofu, fresh truffle and smoked dashi * Paired with 2015 Save our Souls Sangiovese:
Time for the ‘chocolate + peanut surprise’! Chocolate and peanuts, I knew I’d love it. I thought it would be some kind of pudding or small tart but nope, it was a soy based ice cream with salted peanut and coated in dark chocolate with gold leaf. A very nice surprise indeed, the sort of thing where if I made say a dozen of these at home, I’d eat a dozen in one day.
* Chocolate + Salted Peanut Surprise ice cream stick * Paired with Prickly Moses Otway Stout:
Then the slightly sad part of the evening where you realise this is the final course but wow, what a stunner. The aged rice pudding had a crispy sugary shell and was truly excellent. Don’t even think ‘mehhh, rice pudding’ for a nanosecond! This was superb and I snuck looks at my dining companions and they were all nodding along about how excellent this was. A fantastic end to a night of wonderful food!
* Aged rice pudding with compressed pineapple, rum foam and a caramelised banana passion fruit sorbet * Paired with House made Tea and Coffee cocktails:
For our final beverage (with the aged rice pudding) we had the choice of a coffee or tea cocktail. The tea cocktail (shown with the sliced pear below) was an Earl Grey Tea with Laphroaig 1/4 Cask. I chose the Averna + cold filtered coffee cocktail (pictured with the raspberry, mint and citrus peel). I don’t drink coffee but figured this would be a good choice as everything else had been so good and I was correct:
The food and service were both excellent. The wait times between courses were well spaced out and we weren’t left waiting for ages. I found everything well paced and left there very, very happy– happy enough to sign up to the next Transformer degustation as soon as I see it advertised.
Many thanks to the staff at Transformer who made this such an enjoyable evening! And many thanks to my dining buddies too who waited patiently while I took photos– a difficult task when the food was so lovely.
97-99 Rose Street
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