Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Wedding Details -- The Food

One of the things I was most looking forward to about the wedding -- besides crocodiles!  and, you know, marrying the man who I've loved for nearly six years -- was dinner.  We didn't settle on the Eco Lodge until I asked if they could do a fully vegan menu for the three course dinner included in our package, and I was met with "Of course, we do it all the time".  Suitably reassured, we made our payments but had to wait until about 2 months out before getting a peek at what the menu would be.

The ceremony was at 1, so everyone ate a little bit at lunchtime -- I had a PB&J sandwich.
Photo by Ali George.
Immediately after the ceremony, cake and (vegan) sparkling wine filled up our bellies.  On the boat we continued to imbibe more sparkling wine, but I think everyone worked up a decent hunger by 7 pm.

We returned to the Eco Lodge to find a beautifully decorated table on the deck overlooking the pond.  There were little printed menus at every place, which I will reproduce here for you verbatim (spelling mistakes and all).

Char grilled egg plant stack with confit roma tomatoes, blackened gold capsicum, rocket, red onion and drizzled with olive tapenade
Our chef's famous rainforest salad: The flavours of the bush including riberries, munthari, rosella flowers, quandong & macadamia nuts combined with cherry tomatoes, red onion, gold capsicum and cucumber dressed with a lemon myrtle vinaigrette

Lentils stakes grilled served on local taro batons, baby carrots, broccolini napped with a native bush tomato sauce
Lemon myrtle fettuccini tossed with forest mushrooms, chilli, Italian parsley, eschalots, pine nuts, a dash of unwooded chardonnay and finished with truffle oil

And then...
A warm chocolate cake served with a Jamaican rum ganache and strawberries
Coconut rice with a lime presume and rockmelon
Me & the chef who invented this menu.

Now, there are a lot of things in there that are completely foreign to me.  Many of the ingredients are Australian natives, particularly focused on rainforest produce, which I was totally into.  And some of the culinary terms may as well have been in another language but I was fully impressed by them.  Instead of alternating plates, everyone was given their choice for each course of the meal.  I chose the opposite of what Andy was having, so that I could try both things.  The cameras were not flashing during the meal, so this will be a wordy post and I'll just describe the food to you.

The eggplant stack was a bit standard (I had the same thing at a wedding in February) but really good.  The olive tapenade gave it a tangy-salty zing while a sneaky bush tomato sauce brought it back down to earth.  The veggies were yummy and charry.  Andy gave me a few bites of the rainforest salad, and while I would have been happy with the novelty of it, I didn't love some of the components of it.  The rosella flower was so tart, and the quandongs tasted like apricots (which I hate).  But, it was gorgeous, and now I know what those things taste like!

I had the "lentils stakes" which were apparently an experimental menu item.  I am pleased to say that they were delicious.  They were crunchy outside and soft inside, with, I think, a native mountain pepper spice.  The bush tomato sauce was the same as from the eggplant stack, so it was a bit repetitive but it was delicious, so I wasn't too fussed.  Surprisingly, both my dad and Andy's dad ordered this, despite being skeptical of the word steak on a vegan menu (I pointed out the spelling mistake, and they were placated).  They liked the lentils, but weren't so keen on the taro.  I think the taro batons needed some sauce because they were just... starchy.  The carrots and broccolini, though, were beautiful.  I'm fairly certain this meal was gluten free.  Andy's fettuccini was deep and earthy with a gentle spice from the chilli and tang from the lemon myrtle.  The mushrooms covered a range of good-ness, from the mundane to the mediocre to the magnificent.

And then...

My mum and I were the only two to order coconut rice.  It wasn't what I expected, but I was really happy with it.  Warm coconutty rice with lime zest and rockmelon was a perfect end to a rich-but-not-heavy meal.  I was worried the chocolate cake would be too much for me but I needn't have worried.  Rather than lashings of ganache, it was more of a drizzle.  The cake was good, but not great -- and for something so everyday, it needs to be great.  However, it was beautiful enough that my mum snapped a photo, so I leave you with this:

Julaymba Restaurant at the Daintree Eco Lodge and Spa is open to the public, but the fettucini is the only regularly veganisable item on the menu.  However, if you let them know you are coming, they will accommodate.  We went back a second time and I was given a capsicum stuffed with lots of veggies (asparagus, red cabbage, and others) with a rosella reduction -- it was lovely.  If you are ever in the Daintree area and want a little fine dining, I highly recommend this place.


Toby said...

Rain Forest Salad sounds amazing!

Hannah said...

I've been waiting for this post ever since you emailed me the menu oh-so-many moons ago. I'm so glad that, despite some of the flavours not being exactly transcendental, the overall experience was of tastiness and happiness.

I've had a rosella jam that was quite lovely, but admittedly it was predominantly made of plums. And I do love mountain pepper berries - some lovely zing there!

Hmm... something's missing though... there's something I should be saying, something I've said before...

Oh, right. Congratulations!! :D (I'm going to keep saying that with every wedding-related post you do.)

jess_fildespages said...

Everything looks great! Especially the cake! I'd always be a bit shy to ask for a vegan meal but I think I'll have to try it out more often!

Bianca said...

Yum! My favorite part of weddings is the food. In fact, that's the ONLY thing I like about weddings. If I ever get married, it will be for the vegan cake. :-)

lisa said...

The Daintree is such a gorgeous place, and it looks like the food was pretty special to match. I love the idea of all that native kinda food!

Congrats on the wedding, thanks for blogging about it too! Looks like a wonderful day.

Janet said...

You're so brave to wait 2 months to see the vegan menu, I don't know if I could stand the anticipation. But what an amazing menu they came up with! Congratulations!

Kate said...

I've been reading your blog for ages and just wanted to delurk to say congratulations! And that I love seeing the photos of your recipes.