busy preparing for lectures and talks on food, and judging at the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria, for the Australian Food Awards. I’ve been judging mayonnaise, dressings, pickles and preserves, and that’s as much as I can say about it without breaking confidentiality. It’s such an interesting (and challenging) thing to do, to see lots of products all together. In everyday circumstances, we don’t get to see half a dozen (or more) of the same thing.
Last week I went to Matilda, which is Scott Pickett’s latest restaurant at 159 Domain Road, South Yarra. I’ve always had a high regard for Scott as chef, and a particular affection for him as a person since we worked together on his book, Scott Pickett: A Cook’s Story (published 2014, available from any of the restaurants). Matilda, which is named for his daughter, is essentially timber and fire, which means warmth most of all. The timber tables come from two trees, I think from the Otways, and the decor is both exciting and comfortable, which isn’t something that usually happens. Food here is cooked with fire, but the wonderful thing for me is that the smoke levels do not dominate. And sometimes – as in the oysters and the pickle plate – there’s no cooking at all. The fish is cooked whole, and boned – and I wish we saw more of that in restaurants. The side dishes – beetroot of many colours, broccoli with almonds, potatoes cooked in hay – are notably good. Note the plates – all of them are rustic, pottery, in keeping with the “hand-hewn”nature of the place. I had the grilled flathead, the others had baby barramundi with a kind of grenobloise, and the baked pumpkin. We shared all the desserts, of which the apple tarte tatin with smoked vanilla icecream was a particular favourite. https://matilda159.com