Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Wicked Supper


On Sunday night we went to see the final show in the Melbourne season of Wicked at the Regent Theatre. Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I love, love, love Wicked. Including the final show, I've seen it 7 times. (The majority of viewings have been on cheap $30 lottery tickets, so it's not *such* an extravagant habit... right guys? Right??)

I know that I don't tend to write about non-food related topics here, so I'm sure you'll forgive me while I gush.

OMFG it was totally awesome!! We had fantastic seats, about a third of the way from the front, so we could still see all the performers' faces, but still view the stage as a whole (unlike when you get the $30 lottery front-row tickets - you're so close that the impact of the stage and effects can be diminished).

The crowd went nuts, with every major character getting huge cheers when they came on, and after every song (and during some songs too!). During For Good I could hear heaps of people around me sniffling and sobbing. Awww!

Apparently, Amanda Harrison (Elphaba) had been unwell for 2 and a half months, and unable to perform, only coming back for the final week. We happened to catch her performance on the Wednesday night during the final week (lottery tickets - yay!), and had no idea she'd even been ill. It was only after that night (but before the last show) that I did some internet research and realised what a Huge Deal it was for her to be back on stage and kicking ass. Gooooo Amanda! As for the final night, even though she was still recovering, Amanda totally nailed The Wizard and I. In her other two big songs, Defying Gravity and No Good Deed, she missed, like, half a note in each song, but still brought the house down with her performance. She's such an amazing performer. Having listened to the official Broadway soundtrack a million times, I've decided I like Amanda's voice even better than the original Idina Menzel (who also rocks).

Millsy is, well, Millsy, and his charm, good looks, and decent voice more than make up for his wooden acting and dancing. His persona also happens to be perfect for Fiyero so you kinda forget everything else, hehe. Lucy Durack is such a cute Glinda - the "ga" is silent - and you could see she was so excited and happy. I am so glad we got to see the final Melbourne show!

Well, all that standing and clapping and cheering sure does build up an appetite.

We were going to go to Caboose, but by the time we got there (about 9:45pm), we were informed that the kitchen was about to close, and we could eat, but we'd have to leave in half an hour. However, our waiter also let us know that 2 doors down was La Vita Buona wine bar (same owners, same kitchen), which was open til a bit later so we'd be able to relax and spend some proper time there.

La Vita Buona
7 City Square
Melbourne 3000
Ph: (03) 9654-7855

La Vita Buona lists itself as a cellar, bar and delicatessen.


I loved the atmosphere - all dark and cosy, with an indoor fireplace, and loads of wine bottles (on shelves, and empty ones for decoration). There are a few small tables on one side of the space, and a large communal table on the other side, which is where we sat.

When we sat down, our waiter informed us that there was a caviar special for the month of August, as it's La Vita Buona's 1st birthday. You get 25g of avruga caviar, with all the trimmings and a glass of Henriot champagne for $30. SOLD! I didn't know if this would be filling enough, so I also ordered the "marinated cheese with bread and crackers" to share.

Oooh... bubbles.

Asparagus risotto - $22

The risotto came out first, and our waiter informed us that the kitchen had "stuffed up" our order, and there would be a short wait on the caviar. It didn't bother me at all, but he was extremely apologetic and offered to deduct the champagne from the bill. Very generous! I literally only waited 5 minutes, and probably wouldn't have noticed if he hadn't said anything.

I'm told the risotto was full of fresh, crunchy asparagus, but did have a rather strong sour taste (not sure if this was un-evaporated wine or lots of lemon).

Marinated cheese with bread and crackers - $8

I'm not sure what type of cheese this was, but it was very tasty, in a garlicky oil with rosemary and peppercorns. It came with slices of good baguette, white (Turkish?) bread and oatcakes. Mmm.... oatcakes. Cheese for supper is not traditional - there's that old wives' tale that it gives you nightmares. I've read somewhere that a study has proven that it's false (funded by the Cheese people, no doubt), but I happened to have weird dreams that night, hahaha!

Now, the caviar.
Caviar plate! Clockwise from top - egg yolk, chopped shallots, chopped spring onions, capers, cornichons. Centre: 25g of avruga caviar. Bottom: 3 blini. $30 with a glass of Henriot champagne during August.

I don't know anything about caviar, or how to judge if it's good or not - beluga, avruga, whateva. Many years ago I read Jeffrey Steingarten's caviar article in It Must Have Been Something I Ate (a wonderful book), but found it so frightfully complicated that I was too intimidated to try eating any. Then of course, there's the price factor. This dish, however, was delicious! All the different tastes and textures - salty, rich, sharp, soft, crunchy. The blini were still warm, and very nice. I noticed that they were all a uniform size, possibly using a cookie cutter to cut them from a much larger blini. Ooh... now imagine that giant blini they'd have in the kitchen... I soooo want a giant blini.

To be truly Wicked, one must order a decadent dessert. We shared a vanilla Crème brûlée, which from memory was about $12, and beautiful!


The dish was rather large and deep, but the custard wasn't overly sweet or rich - I was very impressed.

La Vita Buona was a good find - despite being cosy and intimate, it's in an accessible location. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable about their wines, and overall the food was good, and very well priced.

La Vita Buona on Urbanspoon

6 comments:

Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

Argh, Wicked! And 7 times you lucky thing. Glad to hear it went so well, nice to see it out with the original Australian leads. I feel like Fiyero almost doesn't matter that much in the scheme of things but it is hard to find a really satisfying depiction of him. I wish I'd tried to fly over the ditch while it was still in Melbourne. For some reason have no massive desire to go to Sydney. But I hear it's actually geographically closer (I also hear that I'm useless with geography which is why I can't confirm this fact).

The restaurant looks gorgeous, I really love eating at dark cosy places like that. I tried caviar in Belgium, can't say I was wildly taken with it...maybe in a few years...

cruxiefaye said...

wow, you watched the musical 9 times. that's a feat all right! I guess you will be missing it when it goes to sydney next month.

Sarah said...

Reposted from Twitter:

@bookshopaddict @sarahcooks Remember having caviar for the first time. It was a "oh...wow...now I know what the fuss is about" moment.

@benandwine @sarahcooks i run my wine courses there, it's a great spot. Have not had the caviar though, but now want some!

Sarah said...

Laura - Lol, I know, I'm waay obsessed. Was really happy to see all the original leads (except Rob Guest, of course) and it was a great night. You're right about Fiyero - I think the only prerequisite for him is that he's hot!! We saw Millsy's understudy once, who was a pretty good singer/dancer, but just wasn't pretty and perfect looking, so it kinda didn't work. In the US Taye Diggs once played Fiyero (imagine singing "As Long As You're Mine" with your husband/wife!!!) and Adam Lambert was an understudy once - different kinds of "hot" but I think they both work.

If you get a chance I really recommend coming over to Oz to see it! I've already started saving up for a trip to Sydney, hahaha.

And re: caviar, I think it's more the experience than the taste that does it for me. (Although I did really like this version - especially the trimmings!!) I don't know anyone under the age of 25 who actually likes it, I think the taste is acquired with age.

Cruxiefaye - well actually only 7 times so far... but hopefully I'll get up to 9! :) Hoping to make my way to Sydney in the next few months for a weekend break.

xox Sarah

steph- whisk/spoon said...

while my husband and i were living in Oz, we saw Wicked in Melbourne, too! was a great show!

Carmen said...

Sarah

I have an avid reader of your blog. Just wondering, how does the $30 lottery ticket work? Do you have to queue up from 5 pm and wait until they gave out the tickets at 7pm?