Ormeggio at The Spit

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Leisurely Lunches are the way to go these days. I can’t think of a better way to unwind than working through a bottle (or a few) of wine, enjoying some creative cuisine, overlooking the harbour and gently forgetting about the week that was.

Ormeggio is a lovely Italian restaurant on the marina in Mosman just before the Spit Bridge with breathtaking views of Middle Harbour and Pearl bay… it’s simply a beautiful location. It’s a rainy afternoon in Sydney and once we get there we spend some time admiring the view from the park and the restaurant table before settling in our seats for lunch.

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To start, I have a glass of the Chianti, while my dining companion goes for the softer option of a grape and lime mocktail (pictured below). The wine is the 2011 Montesecondo sangiovese n Chianti Classico DOCG from Toscana. The wine has a supple taste of dark berry fruits and fresh herb flavours. It’s refreshing, full of that fine fruit flavour and very drinkable… its gotta be the the perfect start to the long weekend.

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We have a light start with the Ormeggio bakery organic warm sourdough, with some house cultured butter and delectable sea salt. I know its just bread, but its so amazingly fresh and the butter just adds the right level of flavour boost to whet the taste buds.

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For the first course, I opt for the Biodynamic veal tonnato.  It is a very different take to the typical dish (which I tried at Harry’s Bar in Venice last year – see review here). This dish is made with a veal tartare, little drops of the tonnato sauce (a tuna sauce which is smooth, thick and creamy). The interaction of the jelly-like veal tartare, the creamy tuna sauce, the crunch of the shaved radish, crispy bread crumbs and pine nuts is a symphony of flavours and textures. The perfect start to a long lunch.

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My dining companion opts for the Pumpkin gnocchi, mushrooms, chestnut in a parmesan consommé for her first course. I ask her for her view on the dish, however she struggles to find the words to describe it. The dish really has her lost for words :).  If I had to describe based on sight alone, its a soup, pasta and entrée all in one. It’s a paradox, it looks decadent and I am now suffering some serious food envy.

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The afternoon continues and the wine flows… the cares of the outside world become a distant memory. Now for the next course, I struggle to go past the Squid Tagliolini with mussels, orange, bottarga and chives. Now this dish reflects the flavours of the sea. The mussels and squid have this distinct “sea salty” flavour, the dark black squid ink pasta provides a glossy shine to the dish and its mild flavour with accentuates but doesn’t overpower the dish. The creamy seafood sauce and the dried fish roe (bottarga) add a lovely range of textures, sights and flavours to the dish. It’s a transcendent experience.

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I love my red wines, but for this course I choose to switch and pair the Squid Tagliolini with a glass of the 2012 Bollini pinot grigio from Trentino DOC. Trentino a region in the north of Italy which forms part of the broader Trentino-Alto Adige, which rests on the alpine borders with Austria and Switzerland. The wine has lovely floral blossom which forms the perfect introduction, with the soft pear and light pineapple flavours that follow being so harmonious on the palate and providing the perfect offset to the sea salt inherent in the mussels and cream of seafood sauce.

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Now as I am blissfully dreaming of the sea with my second course, my dining companion is focused on the carnaroli smoked risotto al salto with charcoal mackerel, with roasted capsicum and a generous sprinkling of paprika. The dish looks elegantly structured and I can imply from the feedback and my observation that the smoky oily mackerel mingles beautifully with the creamy risotto and the flavour of the paprika providing a nice overlay.

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As far as wines go, doings by the glass is so yesterday…. so we start on some bottles! Wine from bottles have a better taste plus I have a thing for wine decanters (c’mon… who doesn’t).

First we have a light interruption wine in between our courses, which is the 2009 Fratelli Alessandria Barolo DOCG, Piemonte. This wine is reminiscent of my childhood days of spending a blissful afternoon devouring punnets of strawberries under the beautiful West Australian sun. The wine has the waft of gentle violet petals and then the light easy to drink flavours of crushed strawberries which flows through the taste buds like a river that knows no bounds. It’s quite the drinking experience. I gaze across the harbour in love with the wine and the day… it’s turning out to be a very enjoyable afternoon.

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Then we resume the lunch with the main course. The charcoal wagyu beef with pickled beetroot and smoked potato is on the cards and it really looks splendid. The wagyu is encased with the smokiness of the charcoaled outer coating which adds to the intensity of the dish and provides some crisp texture to a succulent dish. The wagyu is soft and tears easily and gives a rich oily ooze of flavours and juices on the tongue. This is paired with sweet and mild tartness of the pickled beetroot, the soft creamy beetroot puree and the potato cream which has a light hint of garlic. It’s such a beautiful dish and an exquisite example of culinary brilliance.

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We move on to another bottle to keep the afternoon going. It’s the 2007 Madonna delle Grazie ‘Bauccio’ Aglianico del Vulture DOC, Campania. The wine has cherry fruits with light minerality and acidity. It is elegant and has the right level of body to pair with the dishes.

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The sides are some chat potatoes with a generous sprinkling of paprika and aioli. The perfect comfort food for a winter afternoon.

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For the dessert I have chosen the Amedei tuscan black chocolate torta caprese with hazelnut crumble, chocolate mousse, caramel gel & blackcurrant sorbet. The decadence of this dish cannot be appropriately described… the rich cocoa flavour of the torta, the crunchy hazelnuts the creamy supple mousse, the sweet distinct caramel gels and the tangy of the blackcurrant sorbet. It’s an artwork…a masterpiece in its own right.

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My dining companion opts for the carrot and fennel seed gelato with farro and vinegar caramel. She is quite impressed with the dish. It certainly looks a very well rounded dish.

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It seems the dessert just isn’t enough and we choose a lovely selection of two Italian and two Australian cheeses with condiments. The creaminess of the lighter cheese and the tartness of the parmesan and saltiness of the blue cheese provide for a nice variety of tastes for any connoisseur. These are  perfectly paired with our next wine (see below) as the afternoon continues its gentle drift to a close.

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The afternoon draws a close as we settle upon another Italian varietal… the 2011 Mazzei ‘Zisola’ nero d’avola Sicilia IGT from Sicilia. The wine is perfect to finish off this lovely afternoon, full forest fruit flavours with citrus background and long and layered finish.

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Coffee and some marshmallows with the orange rind provide a little wake-me-up.

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The wine continues to trickle for a little longer… before we decide to leave. The restaurant is basically empty… which is an excellent sign for a long lunch.

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We bid farewell to the lovely staff, cherishing what was an amazing lunch! I take one last look at the beautiful view (below) and make our way to the exit.

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