Where would Australia be without borrowing food from other cultures? Here’s a hint, utterly clueless.
When food inventions attributed to your country include Vegemite, Weetbix, Pie Floaters and Rocky Road, you can see we lack certain elements of finesse. What is so inspiring about modern Australia is the melting pot of flavours and cultures you can experience on a plate and how we embrace other attitudes when it comes to appreciating particular styles. Or fusing them for that matter.
Really, what would Bastille Day mean to Australia if a large aspect of the celebration didn’t revolve around food? Maybe striped long sleeve shirts from French Connection, but that’s the extent to which a lot of people get to experience France here. And that’s a true shame, especially when the French have given so much globally to the food journey in this country.
And that’s why Madame Hanoi’s Vietnamese French 4 course Bastille Day celebration is about more than just eating. Well, no it’s mostly about eating. But through eating, we are experiencing something so close to the heart of both countries. Vietnamese is all about fresh flavours and the balance of sweet, savory and sour, while French in contrast is about richness, depth of flavour and the joys of butter. So much butter.
It’s an ingredient that features in the 3 savory dishes on offer for the Bastille Day Menu. Nigella Lawson eats butter every day and she is gorgeous so please banish any health concerns you may and just get ready to enjoy what’s on offer, beginning with Queen Scallops bathed in garlic, couloured beutifully with saffron and the contrast between kaffir lime and rosemary just elevates the flavours further.
Then the French Onion Phở, with onions soaked in butter and oil until they become clear, forming the noodle base with a luxiurious flavour and texture that then gets an incredible sweet cut through in the beef broth. Ginger and black cardamon add the depth of flavour and intrigue of this dish.
The main fair will be a Cassoulet, layering hearty French flavours encased in a parmesan crust. Slow cooked over 2 days, in traditional french way with pork belly, sausage, smoked pancetta, confit duck, white beans and herbs, this is worth making the booking for on its own. Each mouthful is tender, with the crunch of the topping in perfect contrast and served with freshly prepared bread to mop up all of the juices, herbs and flavours. Make sure you’re wearing stretchy pants for this one.
And if that wasn’t enough, a classic Crème Brûlée will finish off the night, with a top coat torched to perfection with a slightly burned toffee flavour cutting through the light vanilla custard. Absolute heaven!
If you’re still hungry after that, Madame Hanoi will also be offering cheese plates on top of the initial package, but we suspect only a handful of hungry souls will be able to squeeze it all in. Keep in mind that throughout this entire meal, each course will be paired with French wines and French inspired cocktails. I mean, as far as packages go, at $95 per head this is just utterly incredible.
There will be two sittings on Bastille Day, Thursday July 14: 5.30pm – 7.30pm and 8pm – 10.30pm. That second sitting is almost booked out so be sure to get in touch with Madame Hanoi on 8218 4166 or email [email protected] to book right away. Or, you could just find yourself sitting at home with cheap plonk and supermarket soft cheese. Depressing stuff.
Photography by McFuzzlebutt’s Manchen.