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I was excited to find out the Tasting Australia Words To Go dinner would be held at Coal Cellar + Grill at the Hilton.

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The space where Cheong Liew and Simon Bryant have cooked has undergone a $5m revamp about six months ago and it’s looking stunning.

We were seated in a private dining room just to the side of the main restaurant. The magnificent 3000+ bottle cellar is a highlight of the restaurant.

One of the joys I get from attending these dinners is hearing from the Chef. Executive Chef Daniel Fleming introduced us to his team and ran through the menu and the philosophy of Coal – highlighting South Australian seasonal produce.

And of course I enjoy sharing food and food talk with other like-minded people. Cameras and phones are allowed and no eating until we’re all photographed the food!

We shared platters of food – so we taste a little of everything!

For starters:

Sangria marinated watermelon, feta, apple and pistachio crumble. A beautifully fresh dish, with a hit of saltiness from the feta.

Baked half shell scallops, truffle, cauliflower, caper berry salsa and dill butter. I love scallops and these did not disappoint. A perfect combination of flavours that highlighted the scallop.

Crab cakes, moroccan peas and ras el hanout dressing. Crunchy on the outside and soft and delicate on the inside!

Squid ink ocean trout, horseradish crème fraiche and beetroot, lemon myrtle tapioca. The dramatic squid ink highlights the beautifully soft ocean trout with a hint of smokiness.

Confit duck, apple & celeriac remoulade and blackberry jus. The duck was perfectly cooked and the remoulade added a creamy freshness.

Paired with 14 John Duval ‘Pluxus’ Marsanne Roussanne viognier, Barossa Valley.

For Mains:

Caab tomahawk steak (marble grade 9), trio of mustards, charred courgettes and red onions;

Paringa farms lamb cutlets, minted-mustard, sweet corn and Clare valley gold beef fillet with buffalo curd.

These meats were so tender you could cut them with a butter knife. Absolutely beautiful!

Whole baby barramundi, fennel and lemon myrtle. Pulled apart so easily. Seared salmon, mandarin gel, fennel and sultanas. You don’t often see sultanas used these days, and their sweetness complimented the fennel.

Sides of:

Garden greens with verjuice dressing. Fresh.

Confit garlic mash, truffle butter and chives. Earthy and creamy!

Green asparagus, parma ham crumbs and hollandaise. Yum!

For dessert:

Jaffa fondant, blood orange ice cream, yoghurt crisps (left); strawberries and cream, vanilla ice cream, hazelnut pastry and strawberry sauce; bombe “Australiana”, lemon myrtle, macadamia praline, wattle seed ice cream, Davidson plum sorbet.  A wonderful mix of different dessert options, all amazing.

Raspberry sponge, pistachio caramel crumbs, liquorice ice cream. I must say I struggled with this dessert a little. I love liquorice but personally didn’t like it as an icecream and the raspberry sponge an unusual texture. I know other really enjoyed it but didn’t quite work for me.

The crème brulee, raspberry, pine nut and basil was divine. Creamy with a top to crack!

We all had such an amazing dinner, with excellent service and stunning food. I look forward to returning soon.

** I was an invited guest.  With thanks to Collar Cellar + Grill, Tasting Australia and the South Australian Tourism Commission.

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