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Down the Rabbit Hole – GourmetRabbit Launch Party

Image courtesy of GourmetRabbit

Image courtesy of GourmetRabbit

Denea aka Jessica Rabbit is the brainchild behind the newest food-&-beverage-centric publication on the block GourmetRabbit. A little while ago, a launch party was held at the French bistro & wine bar Tastevin in order to celebrate the launch of her print and online publication. The theme for the launch party was billed to be an “Alice in Wonderland” sort of affair.

For those of you that are not aware, GourmetRabbit seeks to bring together the expertise and knowledge of the food industry, along side the passion of the food blogging community, with the idea that both have something to contribute. What you can expect to find in GourmetRabbit includes expert food tips, stories that revolve around food and the food industry, restaurant and product reviews, as well as a number of recipes that you can try out at home.

The launch of GourmetRabbit was a success with the first run of the bi-annual print publication selling out within the first week. Likewise, the launch party was something of a success too, with a packed house of attendees from both the professional food industry as well as a few members from the food blogging community.

Meet Clement Chauvin. Head chef at Tastevin and the maestro behind the skillfully prepared canapes of the launch party. Clement’s a pleasure to meet every time. Always ready to greet you with a warm, friendly smile. A man of passion without any pretension.

As much as the canapes were billed as Alice in Wonderland themed, I had quite a bit of trouble in the research department trying to associate the canapes with the theme, having given up in the end. Though, with the kind of food that Clement produces (which you’ll be acquainted with shortly), and the fact that they were being dished out for free, does it really matter whether or not they’re on theme?

“Mary’s Bloody Bites”– Plump cherry tomatoes are injected with a Bloody Mary cocktail and impaled with mini cucumber spears. Biting into the canape brought forth a burst of boozy juices, whilst the spears of cucumber served not only to plug up the injection holes but also as a subtle crunchy contrast in texture.

“Duck Pops” – A lollipop/candy apple looking device consisting of a terrine of duck, shaped into a ball, and coated with a beetroot jelly. This one was a bit of a mind fu- well, mind bender. Due to the look and shape of the canape, I was expecting something hard and sweet. Instead the senses detect a very savoury flavour with a meaty texture which threw me for a moment. It was nice once my mind came around.

“Magnificent March Hare” – Rabbit liver parfait on grilled brioche with a black grape. Having never had rabbit (let alone rabbit liver), I didn’t know what to expect from this canape up front. Unlike a lot of liver-based items I’ve had in the past e.g. pate, this had a smooth, light and slightly meaty quality to it but without the “metallic” taste, for lack of a better term. The black grape served as a nice contrast both in texture and with its sweetness.

“Bonbon” – Ocean trout with a preserved lemon puree encased in a fried crispy package to resemble wrapped candy. The classic pairing of fish and citrus but presented in a rather creative fashion.

“When Fish Fly” – King fish carpaccio with finger lime and flying fish roe dressing. I see this canape as the polar opposite of the previous one in many ways. Soft instead of crisp. Raw instead of cooked. Yet maintaining the same classing pairing of fish and citrus.

It’s a hard call to rate one over the other as both were quite nice. Though if I had to choose, I’d go with the “Bonbon” only due to my love for all things crispy.

“I Love a Pig Belly Footrest” – Slow cooked pork belly on a pickled salad of papaya & cucumber. This was a little dish of deja vu for me as I’d had the same preparation during a previous dinner that I had at Tastevin. As with that time, this canape did not disappoint.

Slow cooking the pork belly for around 6 hours leads to unbelievably soft meat and fat that practically melts away in the mouth. The crackling is delightfully crunchy (as all crackling should be), whilst the papaya and cucumber salad serves to balance out the richness of the sweet meat and luscious fat.

These were fish croquettes of some description. I wish I had more to go on but these were neither a part of the official line up, nor were they ones I was able to get my hands on as they were snatched up immediately after the photo was taken. If you were there at the launch party and had one of these, please feel free to leave a comment to let me know how they were.

“Buttons Up!” – Creme caramel buttons in a caramel rum sauce. This can be summarised into four words. Sweet. Silky. Superb. Seconds (as in how long they lasted and how many helpings were had).

“Upside-Down and Pear-Shaped” – Poached pear on speculos with a mascarpone creme. Speculos aka Speculaas is the firm biscuit of spiced ginger shortcrust that serves as the platform for the perfectly poached sweetness of the pears & the light creaminess of the mascapone cream.

Aside from the canapes, there was also a table setup for a couple of food vendors to offer samples to the hungry masses.

Jean-Marc Amar is the producer/purveyor of saucisson, a cured pork product of French origin that is something along the lines of a firm, mild salami. Due to a lack of availability of saucission in Australia, especially ones at reasonable prices, Jean-Marc had taken it upon himself to produce his own, using traditional French techniques.

Having never tried saucisson prior to this, I don’t have a frame of reference to how this compares to other saucission. However, one thing I can say is that it’s good. I kept finding myself coming back a number of times during the course of the launch party for a “sample”. I was fortunate enough to be given a whole sausage to take home. It only lasted a couple of days.

Though he doesn’t have a store front, if you’re interested, feel free to contact Jean-Marc for more information about direct delivery (free around Sydney but available throughout Australia), or for info on stores that stock his product.

Brasserie Bread shares the other end of the table with their fine loaves. Paired with the saucission, this made for a killer impromptu sandwich.

For those of you interested in obtaining a print copy of GourmetRabbit (available online and at some food vendors), or want to check out the website, goto www.gourmetrabbit.com. The latest edition of the print magazine contains a few additional articles over the original print run.

Level 1, 292-294 Victoria St, Darlinghurst, NSW, 2010
(02) 9356 3429

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{ 11 comments… add one }
  • The Ninja April 6, 2010, 1:05 pm

    Canapés provide good reflex training.

    Sounds like a whirlwind down the rabbit-hole.

  • Simon Food Favourites April 6, 2010, 4:04 pm

    those dessert canapés look great. nice looking canapés all round. it’s nice to have a theme and Alice in Wonderland is a great one although did anyone actually dress up for the occassion? any photos to share of the guests?

  • john@heneedsfood April 6, 2010, 7:56 pm

    I’ve just had dinner and looking at those canapes, I’m hungry again!

  • penny aka jeroxie April 6, 2010, 9:30 pm

    Never had a saucisson before. So many canapes. What a great event. :)

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella April 6, 2010, 10:29 pm

    Looks like it was a very successful launch event-such a shame I couldn’t make it! The food at Tastevin is great, we had a great meal there for my birthday last year.

  • Simon April 7, 2010, 7:46 pm

    Hi The Ninja! It was an action-packed night for sure. Perhaps I should attend more Merivale menu launches to hone my canape snatching reflexes :)

    Hi Simon Food Favourites! No themed costumes, dresses etc. It was just the food that was themed in any way.

    If you’re after additional photos, you can check out the heart of food Facebook Fan Page for more images of the night (direct link to launch party photos).

    Hi john! Sorry dude. Though, to be fair, that sort of thing is an occupational hazard of reading food blogs after dinner :)

    Hi penny! Nor did I have saucisson until that day.

    Hi Lorraine! Ah, pity! The food is indeed great :)

  • Juliana April 8, 2010, 12:56 am

    Oh! Everything sure looks delicious and in a such great presentation! Nice pictures as well :-)

  • Steph April 8, 2010, 10:17 am

    Good work getting photos of all the canapes! I think the only thing missing is those amazing lemon and rhubarb macarons that were going around at the end. I can’t remember what was in those fish croquettes but they were SO good!

  • Lisa April 11, 2010, 7:13 pm

    Thanks for a great post and for all your help with GR! Those canapes were some of the best I’ve ever had at an event. Great photos :)

  • Denea April 12, 2010, 10:43 am

    Simon, you clever boy!

    This post is gorgeous.

    It was a fantastic night, thank you so much for coming and for all your contributions to GourmetRabbit so far.

    I’m excited to see what you come up with to write about in the next Issue!

  • Simon April 16, 2010, 8:08 pm

    Hi Juliana! Thanks! Much appreciated :)
    Hi Steph! I did get a shot of those but they weren’t all that flattering, so I left them out.

    Hi Lisa! You’re most welcome. I’d have to agree, some of the best canapes I’ve had at any function. Clement knows what he’s doing :)

    Hi Denea! Thanks, and it was my pleasure :)

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