Over the past 12 years Pilu at Freshwater has produced consistently great Sardinian fare and more than a few talented chefs. It's a restaurant that celebrates tradition yet its alumni include the boundary-pushing likes of Matteo Zamboni of Zambo and Acme's Mitch Orr. It also has sweeping beach views and a cellar crammed with wonders, making it the perfect place to spend a balmy evening, glass of vermentino in hand.
We'll be doing just that at this month's reader dinner when owner-chef Giovanni Pilu and head chef Jason Saxby present a four-course menu with matched wines, exploring Sardinia in new ways and old, wrought from local produce. "Our philosophy is produce-driven," says Pilu. "I'm a big fan of cooking and eating what is growing at the time, like I did back home in Sardinia."
Mirto-cured kingfish with sheep's milk yoghurt, beetroot and juniper.
First up is kingfish cured in mirto, a Sardinian myrtle-berry liqueur, followed by culurzones, a Sardinian staple. These wheat-shaped ravioli are traditionally stuffed with potato, but Pilu has chosen a more summery filling of salt cod, tomato and basil for the night. Rangers Valley flank follows - "the best beef in the world", Pilu says - charred and served with caponata, salty fried capers and pine nuts. And the Arabic-influenced flavours of southern Sardinia round things out in meringue with caramelised fig and saffron.
"It'll be relaxed, it'll be loud and everyone will be having a good time," says Pilu. Count us in.
Join us for dinner at 6.30pm on Monday 30 January at Pilu at Freshwater, end of Moore Rd, Freshwater, NSW. The cost of $140 includes four courses and a $10 donation to the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation. To book, call (02) 9938 3331. For more on the OCRF, call 1300 OVARIAN or visit ocrf.com.au.