I walked away from the event feeling full, inspired and a little overwhelmed. We met some powerhouse bloggers who seemed to be so much further down the blogging track than me. I felt VERY amateur. Although, its only up for here and I learned a few new tips of the trade that will help me develop this blog more and more and hopefully in a few years I will be as successful and self assured as some of the bloggers there last night.
In regards to the speakers, they were all interesting in their own way. To be honest, I didn't learn as much as I had hoped but I think that is mostly due to me being a mad Googler and having done so much research about improving my blog that they were preaching to the converted. I think I would have got a lot more out of it six months ago. In saying that though, each of the speakers taught me something I didn't know.
I really enjoyed Dan Sims easy and simple approach to wine. It was nice to hear an award winning sommelier talk to us in 'real person speak' about wine, and reassured me that I don't need to know about oaks and tannins to know what goes well with my meal. He was entertaining and easy-going, and his passion for the field of food and wine was really wonderful to see. I particularly loved his motto of, "lets just not be a bloody wanka about it!"
Joyce from the very successful blog 'MEL: Hot or Not' was a real inspiration. Learning she is also a lawyer and a mother, and has one of the hottest Melbourne food blogs was really amazing. She offered some really good, practical tips that I intend to use, in particularly about staying faithful to the niche you can chosen to write in and not letting anything sway you from that.
Food journalist Hilary McNevin reiterated the importance of seeing our writing as a craft, which as an English teacher I can wholeheartedly agree with. Her passion for food writing was clear and it was really great to get advice from a paid professional in the industry.
I also got to meet one of my food idols, Maha's Shane Delia... and yes, I got a corny photo with him like a starstruck fan! He provided the comic relief during the night with his 'kitchen' language and had us all in laughing out loud.
Now, onto the important part- the food! The sharing style menu was perfect because it features some of my favourite dishes from when I had the soufra at Maha, and some new dishes I hadn't tried before.
First course featured some mezze style dishes:
Black cardamon broth, braised beef and shimiji mushrooms
Local olives in fel fel
Roasted apricot kernels, aleppo pepper and laban
Shaved salad of broccoli, cauliflower, carrot and tahini mayonnaise
I absolutely loved the broth, served sophisticatedly in a little shot glass- the rich broth with those beautiful woody mushrooms was just beautiful and I would have loved a whole bowl. The salad was also really enjoyable.
Second course featured two of my favourite dishes from my last visit, and a few differents ones:
Pan fried trumpeter, freekah, crunchy quinoa with chargrilled spring onions and paprika vinaigrette
Corn fed chicken tagine, broken egg, corn bread, saffron, iranian figs, sujuk soil
12 hour roasted Mt. Leura lamb shoulder, pistachio and green olive tabouleh
Lentils and spinach, burghul pilaf
Fattoush, lebanese bread salad
I absolutely loved the chicken tagine last time I visited- beautiful melt in the mouth pieces of chicken, runny egg mixed with gorgeous spices and mopped up with dense and tasty cornbread.
The 12 hour lamb is famous (you may remember I attempted it a few months ago for a Mothers Day dinner- if not, see my attempt here) and it is just melt in your mouth delicious.
The trumpeter was really good as well, delicately flavoured, beautifully presented and really well paired with that crunchy quinoa.
The sides are hits as well, and it was nice to try a different pilaf than last time. The lentils and the spinach were a great combination, something I will try at home instead of the traditional almond pilaf I usually make.
And then came dessert... ahhh, dessert. What amazing little treats they had prepared for us:
Sticky date pudding, peanut icecream truffle, roasted peanut nougatine with salted caramel sauce
Coconut milk and water jelly, coconut foam, spiced strawberry and sumac pearls, strawberry powder
Turkish delight filled doughnuts, rosewater honey, candied almonds
I have wanted to try Maha's famous turkish delight filled doughnuts for quite a while now, and have read about them on many a blog and review. They were nice, but I think I had built them up too much in my head as I wasn't as blown away as expected. They were a little doughy and didn't have as much turkish delight in them as expected. The rosewater honey was beautiful.
I think the doughnuts were topped by the absolutely perfect sticky date pudding- best I have ever tasted. Moist, sweet, gorgeous sticky date accompanied by delicious peanut ice-cream truffles- what more could a girl ask for?!
I wasn't as keen on the coconut foam, as beautiful as they looked. I think as a stand-alone dessert they would be lovely but compared to the richness and sweetness of the accompanying desserts, they tasted a little too fresh and summery for me.
One of the queries bought up by one of the guests last evening was whether or not a blogger can form a fair opinion of a restaurant after only one visit. Well, after a second visit to Maha I can only reiterate how truly beautiful I think the food there is. The presentation, attention to detail and subtle flavours are so impressive as well as the service. It is definitely the epitomy of a special occasion restaurant for me and I would not hesitate in recommending it.