In Sonnets from the Portuguese Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways”; Friday night at Lot20 it was more a matter of “how to prepare an oyster? Let me count the ways”…and in the hands of Jerry Fraser and Lot20 head chef Justin West we were served up 12 extraordinary examples…well 13 if you count the au naturel version handed out by Jerry as the guests wended their way to their seats.
Part of the EatDrinkPerth festival Lot 20 served up a feast of champagne, sparkling wine, oysters and canapés to the 60 or so who took the opportunity to book tickets and come along. On a pleasant Perth night sitting in the courtyard of one of the city’s top small bars it turned out to be a night to remember.
Lady FWO and I went along to the first of two sittings – one at 6PM, the other following at 8 – and by the stage our time was up a horde was gathering for the second sitting, so I have no doubt that it was just as successful, and enjoyable.
In four courses, with matching wines from distributor Off the Vine, we were served up three oysters at a time, followed by a canapé.
Course 1 saw natural oysters with lime and chilli sorbet – a stunningly good dressing, a little chilli heat combined with tangy, tart citrus flavours made for a zesty, refreshing start – with pickled wakame and ponzu dressing, followed by a steamed oyster accompanied by soy and mirin dressing topped with pickled ginger. Seaweed and pickled ginger – classic accompaniments.
The canapé to follow – a fluffy pancake stuffed with kimchi, a sprinkle of bonito flakes and a splash of creamy Kewpie mayo – excellent sour and zesty flavours complemented by the sweetness of the mayo.
The wine chosen to accompany the first course was Lana NV Prosecco. Made by King Valley, Victoria, winemaker Pizzini from Glera grapes this wine is light straw with tinges of green; a slightly yeasty bouquet with lemon blossom, green apples and Nashi pears aromas. The palate has an elegant lemony acidity, fine bead, and a lingering finish.
Course 2 saw natural oysters with vichyssoise and toasted brioche crumbs; with champagne jelly; and a cold smoked oyster with cucumber coulis. The delicate flavour of the leek and potato soup did not overpower the mollusc, and the nutty element from the brioche gave a nice little textural contrast. I love a smoked oyster – and this one was a fine example, the cucumber liltingly softening the smokiness.
A splodge of feathery whipped chicken livers on toasted bread served as an interval to the next of the oyster courses.
With this course came Marchand and Burch Cremant de Bourgogne; from the house of Margaret River based winery Marchand and Burch this sparkling produced in Burgundy is a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir. It has a lifted bouquet of brioche and citrus, with honeyed lemon notes on the palate.
On to Course 3 and a grilled oyster with garlic and herb butter, a battered version with carrot and cabbage slaw and Cajun mayo, and finally natural with mint julep sorbet. From a taste of a Georgia plantation– minty and elegant to a spicy touch of Louisiana, more inspired creations.
Keeping with the Southern US theme our canapé was revealed as a prawn po’boy – crisply fried prawns in a bread roll; sweet, moist flesh with a little silky dressing made for a top interlude.
Champagne in the form of Laurent Perrier NV Brut was the support act for this course. A pale golden hue this has a fresh and delicate bouquet of citrus, nectarine and toasted bread, while flavours of lemon and apple abounded in the glass. With a fine and long lasting bead this is a wonderful expression of a light and refreshing champagne.
Then the final three – a Bloody Mary oyster shot; oyster rockafella and the only one that didn’t work for me, natural with cold drip coffee, sea salt and shaved dark chocolate. Served in a shot glass the zesty juice perfectly complemented the fresh oyster; while the take on the classic Oyster Rockefeller had a rich buttery sauce softening a toasted crumb topping. The “dessert” oyster didn’t quite hit the mark for me, but others expressed some delight – in any event, to somewhat paraphrase Meat Loaf 12 out of 13 ain’t bad!
To round things out we then were served up a nicely doughy and chewy blini topped with crème fraiche, salmon roe and finger lime pearls – the latter like an explosion of zingy lime in the mouth; lovely.
And our final wine came from Spain – Segura Viudas Brut – this cava from Barcelona has a soft and creamy mouthfeel; some yeasty notes on the nose, while the palate showed acidic citrus with some honeyed and nutty characters.
So, that was it – those for the next sitting were waiting anxiously so it was time for us all to move on – some no doubt inside or to other bars and night time haunts, and some of us off to the train and home… it was a great night. The food, as is always the case at Lot20, was excellent and innovative – and the oysters supplied by Jerry amazing and fresh. The wine matches were spot on. Of course special mention to the waiters – Lot20 have collected a group of top class professionals, friendly, obliging and knowledgeable.