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VRI Hall Luncheon

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The VRI hall exudes an old-world charm and an impressive railway heritage that enriches the dining experience. It was a nostalgic return for me as I used to frequent the hall during my primary school days. We welcomed 63 guests to the event, where they indulged in the seasonal cuisine featuring bush food ingredients, making it an unforgettable food adventure.

As usual, we began the meal with our signature Saltbush focaccia and Irish soda bread, served with Dimboola olive estate oil. The arancini was next on the menu, made with Saltbush, Wattleseed, and Meredith chevre cheese, topped off with tomato relish made from the tomatoes harvested from my garden a month ago.

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The pork, pistachio, and lemon myrtle terrine followed, served with wattleseed and smoked salt crackers and a blood plum and apple chutney. The blood plums and apples were dropped off to me a few weeks ago, and they added a beautiful flavour to the dish.

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The Warrigal greens and Meredith goats cheese ravioli were next, made using Warrigal greens harvested from my garden and blanched before being added to a mix of goat's cheese, lemon, bush oregano, and seasoning. We finished it off in a Beurre Noisette (brown butter) but held it until just the right moment to add some texture to the softness of the pasta.

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For the main course, we served beef bourguignon, which had a rich and hearty flavour. We made a good stock the day before using bones from the butchers and used one of our local reds for the wine. We served it with boiled herbed potatoes, carrots from my local organic farmer, and a spin-off from a gremolata and blanched stir-fried Warrigal greens. We also added some braised cabbage in cider and other flavours to add colour and zing to the plate.

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The meal concluded with an alternative drop of delightful desserts - Wattleseed Chocolate Baklava and Apple & Lemon Myrtle cake with vanilla anglaise. The baklava was made with macadamias, walnuts, and almonds, with added cranberries, cinnamon, and a good dash of wattleseed. The cake was made with a few leftover apples and was served with an easy but tasty vanilla anglaise.

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The VRI hall provided a beautiful change of scenery for our lunch, making it easier to have all the guests in one room. The relaxed ambiance of the hall, with its railway heritage on the walls, old chairs and trestle tables that would have been used over 40 years ago, was further enhanced by a few of our not-so-matching chairs and tables, retro tablecloths, plants, and beautiful flowers from our friends' gardens on the tables. While off-site events are more time-consuming, with different kitchens and the need for more heat, we have found our winter venue and look forward to hosting more events there.

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