Published on 11 November 2020
How about a drink?
The 2018 Sepp Muster Opok cuvée. A super-minerally and electric biodynamic field blend from Styria in Austria. We’ve also just made a batch of elderflower cordial for our cocktails, from flowers given to us by the lovely Jo Corrigan from Mushrooms Anonymous.
I’m here for a good time not a long time.
Crisp, curried school prawns: dusted with curry powder out of the fryer and served with a charred green chilli and coriander chutney. Or stick with the classics and have an oyster or two with pink peppercorn granita. Topped with a frozen mignonette of sorts, made from a lovely red-wine vinegar infused with shallot, thyme and pink peppercorns. One or two in the front bar at Etta with the sliding doors thrown wide open and a glass of fizz in hand sounds like a pretty ideal afternoon to me.
Got anything light and fresh?
We’ve got an ike-jime sea bream crudo from Lakes Entrance, very lightly cured to firm up the flesh, which is very mild and sweet. It’s served with the tiniest smear of yellow lantern pepper paste, in a fresh cherry tomato water with a dusting of fennel pollen from our forager, Mick.
I like tasty food but I don’t eat animals.
A smoky whole eggplant, roasted in the coals, into which I’ve managed to sneak one of my favourite Chinese condiments – preserved olive vegetable – without anyone noticing. (Don’t tell!) It really doubles down on the smokiness with incredible depth of flavour. Also, it's showered with garlicky pangrattato and punctuated with some bright acid from aged sherry vinegar.
What’s the dish that is quintessentially Etta right now?
Our barbecued half chicken with bullhorn chilli and bay. Etta has always had a chicken on the menu, and we use beautiful Milawa birds. We ferment five different chillies for seven to 10 days to create the flavour base for the marinade, spiked with plenty of bay leaf and citrus. We serve it without accoutrements or any other garnish: just a really juicy, smoky, flavourful bird. Speaks for itself, really.
Let’s go big. Let’s go crazy. What have you got for me?
The bone-in pork belly rib, grilled over embers, served with a dab of fresh oyster cream and a glass 2015 'Cascina Pugnane' Bussia Cru. The pork is marinated in shio koji which does magical things, tenderising meat and concentrating flavour, roasted to order over the woodfire for a blisteringly charred, very textural finish.
And to close?
Our version of a half-time orange, and an ode to the quintessential Chinese restaurant dessert. It began its life as a cara cara orange, but blood oranges are so stunning at the moment. The dessert is simply a blood orange, hulled and filled with white chocolate sorbet and topped with shavings of blood-orange granita, served on a bed of crushed ice. There’s a dairy-free version too.
Make a booking for dinner or a drink at Etta, 60 Lygon St, Brunswick East, Vic, ettadining.com.au and stay up to date with the latest at the restaurant at @etta_melbourne and catch Rosheen Kaul’s further adventures at @rosheen_.