Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Mornington Peninsula: Montalto


Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove
33 Shoreham Road
Red Hill South
Ph: (03) 5989-8412
Website

The first meal on our epic eating weekend in the Mornington Peninsula was lunch at Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove. I'd heard great things about their restaurant, and was really looking forward to our visit. Montalto offers a range of experiences for visitors, with a cellar door, restaurant and casual cafe on the property, as well as vineyards, wetlands, a kitchen garden, olive groves, and a sculpture collection to explore.
Sculpture in the parking lot

We arrived a bit before lunch service started, so that we could have a little tour around the property with restaurant manager Laura Huish.  Below you can see shots from the kitchen garden: a tray of pine mushrooms that owner Wendy had just foraged, a fresh olive, some little pumpkins and some beautiful rainbow chard.
Kitchen Garden
Have you ever tasted a fresh olive before? Laura gave me one to try, and it's such a strange experience! When you bite into them, you get an overwhelming bitter taste, followed by a hint of that familiar mouth-filling oiliness. They're not very nice fresh, and we were actually wondering how on earth the first person to make oil from olives came up with the idea. It also had me craving some nice olive oil, so it was lucky that our next stop was the Cellar Door for a tasting of their olive oils and wines!

There were well over ten wines available for tasting, and because I'm a very dedicated food blogger, I worked my way through them all! (Spitting of course - don't drink and drive!) I particularly liked the 2010 Montalto Chardonnay and the 2011 Pennon Hill Late Harvest.  In addition to the wines and olive oils, they also stock a few related pantry products: dukkah, bread, verjus, olive tapenade and so on.

Montalto Wines
As I mentioned above, there is a casual outdoor Piazza Cafe, that offers a variety of pizzas, which I'm sure would be lovely, especially in better weather.  But we were scheduled for lunch in the restaurant!

Montalto Restaurant
I want to give a special mention to our waiter Giuseppe, who was super awesome - he was really friendly and welcoming, joking around with us and being generally hospitable.  He also had a very in-depth knowledge of the menu, and was able to guide us through our choices.

Our amuse bouche was a little espresso cup full of velvety pumpkin soup.  It was surprisingly delicious - I think I would have been happy with a big bowl of that soup as lunch in its entirety!  A nice warming start to the meal.
Amuse Bouche of pumpkin soup with chives
Two types of bread were provided: olive, and multigrain.  It was warm and fluffy, and came with a delicious olive oil for dipping.
Warm bread rolls: multigrain and olive
So as not to overeat (hah!), we decided to share our entree and dessert, with one main each.

Scallops - Seared Canadian scallops, confit chicken wings, sweetcorn, basil and vanilla oil - $21.00
Now, as y'all will know by now, Sandra doesn't eat seafood, but when Giuseppe described the confit chicken wings, we just had to order this dish.  The crispy little winglets had been boned, so you could pick them up and eat them in just a couple of bites. Wow!  The scallops were very fresh and cooked perfectly, and the vanilla oil was an unusual but welcome addition - a fabulous dish.

Cannelloni - Baked goats cheese cannelloni with capsicum and garden globe artichokes - $38.00
What pretty presentation! It's always a delight to see a creative vegetarian dish on a menu.  As you can see in the above photo, this dish had a lot going on, but all the elements combined together well.

Rabbit - Basil farced cannon of rabbit, celeriac puree, glazed snowpeas and dutch carrots - $38.00
It took me ages to select my main, and I must admit that the deciding factor for me was that it was matched with the 2006 Montalto chardonnay!  I'm glad I ordered it though - I loved the tender rabbit meat and the sticky, savoury jus.

And of course, we ordered some fried potatoes.  These were lovely and fluffy, with the crispy outsides being enhanced with flaky salt and rosemary.
Fried potatoes - $8.00

All the desserts on the menu were tempting, but we couldn't go past the chocolate option. (Note to self: I must come back in a bigger group so I can sample more of the menu!)
Chocolate - Clove scented milk chocolate brulee and baked mousse cake - $18.00
The baked mousse cake was everything you'd expect it to be: dark, rich and moist, whilst the milk chocolate brûlée was a very intriguing part of the dish. It was richly scented with cloves, had a thin, crackly burnt sugar top, and the custard itself had a very unusual texture - it was thick and seemed to be flour-based, almost like a thick roux. It was actually really delicious and I loved it, so I hope I'm not putting you off by the description - I was just so fascinated with its texture!

The suggested accompaniment for the dessert was a Ramos Pinto tawny port.  When we ordered dessert, waiter Giuseppe asked if we wanted to order a glass each, but I woefully replied that I'd better not because I was driving.  He then suggested that he bring out one serving of the port, and split it 40/60 between two glasses so we could both try it. How nice is that?!

Cafe latte, Ramos Pinto Tawny Port - $10.00, Petits Fours
I also loved the little almond friands that came out with coffee.

I was hoping to take a stroll through the gardens after lunch to look at the sculpture collection, and even though the sun had come out during lunch, as soon as we finished eating, the heavens opened and it started bucketing down with rain. Oh well! Now I have another excuse to come back!

Sarah and Sandra ate lunch as guests of Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove and Mornington Peninsula Tourism.

This is the second post from my 2012 Mornington Peninsula Trip series.

Montalto Restaurant and Winery on Urbanspoon

6 comments:

Michelle Chin said...

maybe someone experimented with the olives or tried to cook it...

cara waters said...

Such a beautiful part of Victoria - I love the Mornington Peninsula but have not been to Montalto

Sarah said...

Michelle - Maybe! :)

Cara - It's gorgeous! I've always associated the region with beaches, but the hills and greenery are gorgeous too. Best of both worlds! I'd highly recommend visiting Montalto, it's a great spot.

Not Quite Nigella said...

We really enjoyed our meal at Montalto! The view and space is also lovely and I like the art works on the grounds.

Adrian @ Food Rehab: The Tastebud Diaries said...

oh ma gaawd. The sculpture looks so cool but I think the scallops are the winners. Love your travel posts.

Sarah said...

Not Quite Nigella - It's a beautiful spot, isn't it? I can't wait to go back on a sunny day!

Adrian - Awww, you're sweet! Thanks! :)