Last Australia Day, I celebrated by having a really fun and playful meal presented in part by John Placko and Luke Hayes-Alexander. It was a great dinner, full of laughter and great food. This year, in conjunction with Tourism Australia and Wine Australia, Placko and Hayes-Alexander return to revisit and re-mix that dinner for the next two nights (January 25-26, 2013). I didn’t hesitate to accept an invitation to their media event last night.
Now, I hadn’t known that St. James Cathedral only recently opened its event space back in October of 2012. So I was expecting old foundations, apses, stonework, and polished wood floors. And there was some of that. What surprised me, however, were the clean lines, glossy white surfaces, and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Cathedral and its grounds in the second floor space we would be dining in. With the darkening blue of evening and the slow motion of snow falling, it really set the stage for a night of modern interpretations of traditional Australian ingredients and dishes.
For those of you who had participated last year, many courses will be familiar or the same. Dishes seemed improved upon, either in taste or execution (or both). The only thing that could not be topped was John’s passionfruit pavlova from last year. I may have made him shed a tear when I told him that, but I do mean it only as the highest compliment that it is now the standard to which I compare all pavlova’s against. Even John’s other pavlovas.
If you’ve not had the opportunity to taste either John or Luke’s excellent cooking, this Australia Day dinner is a perfect opportunity to do so. The dinner itself is a great voyage of heritage and discovery as these chefs take you through the evening. Tickets may initially seem dear at $150, but for (more than) 8 courses, (free-flowing) pairings, tax, and tip… well, I was perfectly willing to snag my own ticket (shh… don’t tell them) at that price. I know some seats remain on both nights, but not many. There’s also a take home treat – love extending good meal into the next day(s)!