That's exactly what I felt when I walked into the food bloggers dinner at Gunshop Cafe last night (obviously at the time of writing the post). I had met some of the lovely peeps before and warmly greeted them, but there were other faces staring back at me, funnily enough though, no less familiar, because I've seen their profile pics for a fair while now! It's even funnier to introduce yourself as my blogging name instead of my real name which is _ _ _ _ _. Shh! For those of you who know, don't tell! For those of you who don't, you are welcome to guess!
I'd been looking forward to this dinner ever since the lovely Mel had emailed around the invitation to attend. Gunshop was listed by Delicious magazine as Australia's Best Cafe and are undoubtedly most famous for their breakfasts. I walked in at about 6:30 p.m. and there were already a couple of other people already seated. What did catch my eye though, was the massive decorative bowl of oysters sitting right next to our tables, being freshly shucked.Sorry there aren't going to be any photos- but you can catch them on other bloggers pages that attended!
Mel had previously told me that Jason from The Gunshop Cafe was a massive advocate of QLD food and wine- and reading the special food blogger menu upon arrival proved his enthusiasm. The bloggers each paid $40 for a special menu put together by Jason to showcase some of the regions finest, and that's just what they did.
Straddy Oysters (the ones that were being shucked) were first on the menu, finished with a sherry vinegar and tomato dressing. The oysters were still a little young, the rest are due to be harvested in about two weeks, but they already tasted fresh and salty and will be even better when they plumpen up. The vinegar dressing was a nice match -simple but complimenting. Michael from Fino Food and Wine supplied the oysters and wine from his family vineyard, Ambar Hill in Stanthorpe. To match the oysters we were poured a 2008 Reserve Chardonnay that was surprisingly good. As a rule, I don't really like chardonnay, but this proved to be a hit, not only with me, but with other non chardonnay drinkers too. It was subtle and not too woody, and no one was complaining when we were served a second glass.
I was excited to see scallops on the menu too! Scallops and oysters one course after another? These guys really were putting on a very Gastronomy Gal friendly menu. The Hervey Bay scallops came served with persimmon, salmon roe and had the unusual touch of squid ink dressing. The scallops were fat and juicy- apparently they are exported to Japan and are therefore of a better quality than many of the scallops on the domestic market. They were markedly larger in size to many of the scallops that have been getting around lately. The whole dish went nicely together, and whilst the squid ink flavour was appreciated, smaller doses could be more effective. I did find it fun to play with on my plate (sigh- I know I definitely shouldn't be doing that!! June Dally would not approve) and the texture was most unusual- we all decided it was rather like .... ink. Not even kidding- ha.
Next was the gamey addition of wild boar served with Moreton Bay Bug and ham and pineapple. Wow- what a QLD dish. The boar was a lot lighter in colour than I had expected and was served medium rare, even though, technically, it is pork. Jason explained to us that it was the loin cut, so is fine to serve medium rare. This carries over to normal pork, depending on the cut. This dish came served with foam which was undeniably hammy, or more precisely jamonny. Surprisingly, the boar and bug went really well together. I'm not the biggest foam fan, but I could see it worked in this instance.
Goondiwindi lamb racks were next on the menu, the lamb coming from Farmer Dave. You may remember Farmer Dave from his time on Big Brother. He now gets around in his lamb trucks and I see him at the farmer's markets from time to time. The perfectly pink lamb was served with a salsify puree, olives and some gorgeous peas. Apparently the initial dish included beans but when Jason tasted them, he was really unhappy and so substituted with peas. I wasn't disappointed. What a lovely way to dine on the night before the first day of spring. The lamb was obviously a great product to begin with and was cooked to perfection. Pairing it with the salsify (root vegie esque flavour), peas and olives was a modern take on an old classic, and really worked. The salsify puree was creamy, similar to cauliflower or celeriac puree- and would make a lovely addition to any lamb dish. This was definitely the savoury star of the night.
A QLD cheese platter arrived and was well received by the cheese lovers at our table. I didn't have a lot of cheese but was quietly shocked of the quality on offer. Qld seriously isn't renowned for it's cheese but after tasting these babies, I realised we do have some serious contenders.
After declaring I was rather full, a beautiful peach souffle was placed in front of me, towering above the ramekin. Looking around revealed there wasn't a sinking souffle in sight- I wonder how many were looming in the kitchen bin!? I don't go out of my way to choose peach related menu items, but this was delightful. It was rich, light and fluffy all at the same time, the consistency of a great souffle, with a subtle fruity flavour. It was served with ice cream (which I obviously didn't eat- remember G.G.'s ice cream allergy guys?) but could imagine the two would pair well together. This was one of the nicest souffles I have eaten and I could see all my fellow food lovers eyes closing with delights, each daring to savour the moment.
I totally enjoyed my meal at Gunshop. The menu was ambitious but I like interest points. Jason's passion for QLD food certainly shines through, and he did a great job of showcasing some of the suberb produce we have on offer in this little state. The service was really efficient all night, but not intrusive which is totally important when you've got soo much to talk about with your PIEs (partners in eating). My only gripe were the noise levels (as I had the same problem when I went for Brekky).
What was also lovely, was being with fellow foodies who don't mind talking about what restaurants are hot and not, don't flinch when someone whips out a camera and don't think it's weird if you obsess over a particular ingredient. It turns out meeting people through the internet hasn't turned out so badly after all- in fact, it's managed to bring lots of cool people together, all with a passion for food. We are such an eclectic bunch, I'm sure we'd never have met otherwise but I'm really thankful we did. For the most part, food bloggers are pretty great, and it's nice to have great places to go like Gunshop for our blogger dinners.
Please note: This was a special menu put together for the Food Blogger dinner, but elements from the dinner are available on the normal Gunshop menu.
So tell me readers..... do you meet people through the internet? Do you think it is normal or not?
53 Mollison Street
07 3844 2241