Australia's best new Spanish food is at an Italian restaurant?
In the beginning Ormeggio was all about the food of Alessandro Pavoni's homeland in Lombardy. "I am focusing on the cuisine of the lakes area of northern Italy, because it's the regional cuisine that runs in my blood," he said when it opened in 2009. Since then the brief has broadened considerably and the Trip Through Italy tasting menu served in recent years at the Sydney two-star has roamed from Sicily to Sardinia, the Veneto to Valle d'Aosta and back again.
As of November it'll roam further still, to a region so distant you might not call it Italy at all. So much, in fact, so that the new menu is called A Trip Via Spain.
Should we brace for spag Bol tapas and paella panini? Not quite, say Pavoni and Ormeggio head chef Victor Moya. Moya is from Valencia (his family is Andalusian), and he says the three years he worked at top-flight restaurants in Italy plus the six he has spent working with Pavoni have made him feel his cooking is as much Italian as it is Spanish.
Bottoni filled with jamón Ibérico cream
"It's not fusion that we want to do so much as an exploration of the synergies between our two countries in their dishes, products and traditions."
Translated into practical terms that means eight waves of small dishes including a take on ajoblanco, the Andalusian chilled soup, made with peanuts, black grapes and Spencer Gulf prawn ravioli, and a remix of Ormeggio's beloved bottoni that replaces the liquid parmesan filling of the pasta with a jamón Ibérico cream.
Having a chef from the home of paella running the kitchen at a restaurant famed for its risotto means that rice is going to be part of the picture, too, regardless of the flag being flown. In the Spanish trip that means carnaroli cooked in a paella pan in a scampi and mantis shrimp stock and served with lightly smoked scampi and a seaweed aioli.
If Manchego chips, bacalao al pilpil, and saffron crèma Catalana aren't your idea of Ormeggio fun, fear not: the Italian good times are still on offer in the Ormeggio Signatures and vegetarian menus. But if you want to enjoy something of a detour, Pavoni and Moya are very excited by the opportunity to show you something new. "We loved the Trip Around Italy," says Moya. "This is just a new way for us to have fun."
A Trip Via Spain is available for $176 per person from 8 November 2017. Ormeggio, D'Albora Marinas, Spit Rd, Mosman, NSW, (02) 9969 4088, ormeggio.com.au