Swoosh! That's the onomatopoeic representation of how rapidly the last couple of weeks have passed and I now come to the day where I finally board that flight to New York City. When I, on the spur of the moment, booked my ticket way back in May 2014 I knew I had many months ahead of me before I would revisit one of my favourite cities in the world and now my bags are packed and my online check-in is complete. Just before midnight on this Australia Day my plane will make its way off the tarmac and into the skies and a lengthy twenty eight or so hours later, I'll have gone from a blistering summer to streets covered in snow. I can only hope that the 'New York Edit' I have put together from my wardrobe is enough to sustain me through the days of minus-something temperatures.
So herewith is my last post before I leave. I have a number of fun little projects planned while I am away and of course, you can armchair travel with me via Instagram and Facebook. I'll be posting here on the blog as often I can, but please do forgive me if I'm tardy on the blogging as The City is quite intoxicating and when presented with the option of getting lost in its draw or sitting in front of my laptop, it will win out every time.
For now, I'm still here and bringing you my review of Rustico Tapas in Rockingham. Meeting my friend for dinner on a Friday night we wanted a location in between both of our homes. She now lives in Mandurah with Rockingham being the midway point and Urbanspoon came to the rescue as I knew nothing of the foodie options in Rockingham. Having not been to Rockingham since I was a child (I know! How embarrassing for me!) other than visiting the hospital for a business meeting, dinner at Rustico was a pleasant surprise. It was a stunning evening and with a location set just off the foreshore, I was glad to have arrived slightly early so that I could take in the sunset over the water. The upcoming six course Long Table Lunch on the Beach is sponsored in part by Rustico and the setting on the beautiful beach couldn't be a nicer place to enjoy a lazy summer lunch.
As for dinner that Friday night. The menu at Rustico offers a six course degustation option which is an ideal way to sample a number of their tapas dishes. With so many yummy sounding dishes this was the only way for us to approach dinner. After much deliberation we settled on starting with the chicken liver pate (y'all know I loves da liver) followed by the scallops. We had the obligatory vegetable serve with the wild mushrooms before heading back into carnivore land with the free range pork belly and braised beef cheeks. Dessert was a choice between the chocolate fondant or the baked delice (for a $8 surcharge), and for us that was a no brainer. Chocolate trumps cheese all day, everyday.
My friend is not the liver connoisseur I am and hadn't eaten much pate and approached it with some caution. I assured her that the rich and creamy paste was absolutely delightful smeared on one of the crispy megasize croutons with a schmear of port jelly for good measure. When it comes to food I never lie and this became apparent after she took her first helping of the pate. The serving size of the pate is so very generous and indulgent to share between two people and the only thing that made me stop was the knowledge of five further courses to come.
The scallops were served on pear puree with specks of candied jamon. Jamon, along with prosciutto, is such a delightful partner to scallops. Almost like a fancy canape version of surf 'n' turf. The soft and tender texture of the scallops were contrasted with the crispness of the candied jamon and that combination of sweet and salty worked, as it often does.
Our mushrooms came smothered in a cream based sauce flavoured with sherry, which imparted a very sweet flavour. Though at first taste it seemed a little too sweet, it ended up being very moreish and difficult to resist smothering a little bit more of the saucy mushrooms onto the toasted sour dough.
Cubes of free range pork belly came up next. Sitting on apple puree, the glossy tops of the pork belly had a trickle of a sticky Pedro Ximenez reduction. The fat to meat ratio was excellent, with the right amounts of both to make for a satisfying mouthful. The only let down was that the skin was not at crispy as it could have been. It toed the uncomfortably chewy line of being somewhat crisped up but just not enough to make eating the skin the complete pleasure that it should be.
It was a difficult decision deciding between the petit mignons or braised beef cheeks for the fifth course but we decided to follow up the pork with a more slow cooked meat. Of course, the meat flaked away beautifully and with the red wine jus and mushrooms, it was like a tapas version of beef bourguignon.
Sharing dessert would normally be a problem for me, but at this stage our bellies were reaching their maximum capacity. The warm chocolate fondant came with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and it was with bated breath that I broke through the exterior of the fondant. A river of chocolate came flowing out and was hastily scooped up with our spoons. Though small in size, this dessert was just enough to finish off the meal on a high note. It was enough to satisfy our sweet tooth and was more than just a little taste but not so much that we stuffed to breaking point.
Although it took a little longer than we expected for our first course, the remaining courses came out with good timing. We were not rushed at all and the intervals between each course was enough to allow the previous dish sufficient time to settle without being too lengthy a delay.
There is an option to pair the degustation menu with wines and if your party is made up of four people, you get to order each dish rather than having to choose between the options. Sometimes the most delightful experiences come from the unexpected and this is certainly true of Rustico. Not knowing much of the dining options in Rockingham, I thoroughly enjoyed dinner that night and would certainly make the almost ninety minute round trip again.