Spring has sprung at Serafino Wines who has released an all-new menu to suit the season. With the coming sunny days, what better way to spend a beautiful day then have a long lunch at a stunning winery?
Head Chef Daniel Armon and his team have created the perfect menu just in time for spring. The smells, colours and flavours are the perfect pick me up to bring you out of your lazy winter mood.
It was exciting to see spring come to life with every vibrant dish. We couldn’t wait to try.
As a starter before the entrees, we had The Kitchen Garden; a showcase of Serafino estate grown produce, presented in different ways and served with guanciale. Our dish had buttermilk-poached shallots, sous vide heirloom beetroots, micro turnips coated in an onion glaze, and the guanciale (cured pork), with mustard seeds. The fresh and light meal was the perfect introduction to spring. The light tang of the pickled onion balanced with the subtle char on the shallots. All vegetables held a lovely fresh crunch. The deep earthy tones of the beetroot paired with the richness of the onion glaze balsamic, while the cool tang of oil on the peas gave off a refreshing and light lift. The radish gave an almost sour pickled tang; it’s fragrance pairing perfectly with the soft rich meat. A slight fatty flavour from the guanciale was subtle and balanced out the earthy components. This dish constantly changes to what is available in the kitchen garden as well as what is locally available. What a perfect dish to get you in the mood for spring?
The Chilled Spring Pea Soup was Serafino’s take on a traditional pea and ham. Being chilled, it is perfect to help cool you down on hot days, with a lovely refreshing flavour. The soup was served with a smoked buttermilk granita, chocolate mint and broad beans. The granita was strong, almost tart, balancing with prominent pea flavour of the smooth soup. The lemon gel was served to the side with broad beans, spring peas, broad bean flowers and chocolate mint from the garden – with subtle choc mint tones found in the soup too. The freshness from the mint gave off cool lifting tangs for a light entrée, while the lemon gave a tang to balance. A very pretty dish and another perfect representation of spring.
The Blue Swimmer Crab and Carrot was served with water chestnut, apple, burnt honey and leek ask.
The blue swimmer crab was sourced from the Eyre Peninsula and was paired with water chestnut, granny smith apple, daikon radish and chives, all binded together with mayonnaise. The crab pure almost was delicious and smooth, with lovely crunch added from the apple, water chestnut and radish. The creamy crab was the hero of the dish, very prominent in flavour but not too overpowering. The sous vide carrot rounds were cooked in Kangaroo Island honey and grape seed oil, then rolled in a earthy and smoky leek ash. The lovely subtle crunch of the carrot also balanced with the smooth crab and gave off sweeter tones from the burnt honey and leek ash coating; lifting to balance the savoury seafood tang. A beautiful dish showcasing delicious and local produce. Yum!
The local Kangarilla Marron had lovely components of Geraldton wax, macadamia, tamarind and curry leaves. The marron was sous vide in butter, which gave it a lovely deep indulgent flavour that paired perfectly with the light curry. Made in-house, the South East Asian inspired curry sauce blended together tamarind and tomato. The accompanying pesto was made out of roasted macadamia nuts and Geraldine wax, with fried curry leaves topping the dish, which was sourced from Serafino’s kitchen garden. The nut crumble gave off earthy, savoury notes that balanced with the fragrant spices in the curry. The curry did hold some heat, however, it was not too overpowering but just enough to warm the tastebuds. The heat was balanced and cooled by the thick juicy marron meat, which was soft and perfectly cooked. The Kangarilla Marron was a simple dish yet beautiful in both presentation and flavour.
Onkaparinga Venison Tartare was beautiful and fresh. Served with rye, miso, egg yolk, pickled garden varieties, caper gel and garden flowers. The lightly smoked venison gave off deep earthy and smoky tones that paired perfectly with subtle hits of red miso mixed through. The rye crisp around the top was lightly toasted and made in-house, balancing well, both in flavour and texture with the richer and slightly gamey but tender venison. The egg added a slight sweetness to balance the deeper flavours; its strong, rich and creamy tones pairing well with the raw meat. The added pickled vegetables gave a lovely balancing tang with the other earthy elements. Giving off an almost sour sharp tang to balance the richer tones.
The Agnolotti Cacio E Pepe is a vegetarian dish of pasta served with ricotta, preserved lemon, pepper, truffle pecorino and Serafino’s house-made olive oil. The pasta pillow held whipped ricotta, preserved lemon and chives inside. The lemon gave off a nice subtle but refreshing tang that paired well with the cracked pepper on top, while the olive oil gave off prominent and strong lingering flavours that gave a bite to the smooth cheese centre. The deliciously cheesy dish was also topped with truffle pecorino cheese, adding a subtle tang to help balance the warm and rich flavours of the whipped ricotta inside. The pasta itself was cooked well, while the chives gave off a lovely fragrance.
The idea behind the Maltagliati is Serafino’s take on a vegetarian lasagne. Served with zucchini flower, Caponata, smoked tomato, eggplant crisp and Parmesan foam. The Maltagliati strips of pasta were lovely, soft and not too thick, which balanced well with smooth and creamy Parmesan foam. The smoked whole vine tomatoes were warm while still holding a firm skin but a soft centre. The pasta and tomatoes created a beautiful texture balance with the eggplant crisp, which held lovely salty tones and just melted in the mouth. Yum! The fresh zucchini flower was stuffed with Caponata, (a Sicilian eggplant dish), which was rich and earthy, giving off a homely flavour perfect for resembling a lasagne. The deep and rich tomato tones balanced the fresh pasta and the lighter refreshing tones of the zucchini flower. The simple elements all combined perfectly together to create a delicious dish.
The Ocean and Earth isn’t your typical fish and steak combo, but is revamped to sing spring. The chicken galantine was paired with scampi, with its roe and oil. The prefect lighter combination to match the warming Spring days. Served with zucchini, avocado and sparkling sabayon, the dish was just delicious. The whole bone chicken was beautifully cooked, succulent and tender. I am quite fussy when it comes to how my chicken is cooked but this was perfect; I could eat it all day! The tender and juicy meat held a lovely subtle crunch from the fresh zucchini ribbons that wrapped around it. Yum!
Paired with the freshness of the whipped avocado, the scampi mousse stuffed zucchini flower, gave off a lovely subtle salty sea flavour. The Ocean and Earth is also a ‘no waste dish’ with the oil dressing made from the scampi head, tail and shells, while also utilising its meat and adding the blue scampi roe to add pop of flavour and colour to the dish. The scampi meat was soft and creamy, and gave off prominent sea flavours that paired wonderfully with the chicken.
The Pork and Cauliflower was served with a golden raisin puree, cauliflower, red elk, buttermilk poached shallot and pickled mustard seeds. The golden raisin puree was smooth, holding subtle tones of grape/wine flavours. The raisins also gave off a slight sweeter tang that balanced well with the subtle smoky tones of the charred poached shallot. The pork pieces were cooked perfectly, holding a rich deep flavour, but lovely soft and tender meat. This gave off a texture balance with the crunch of the cauliflower crisps, which held strong earthy tones, balancing the rich and sweet notes of the dish. The pickled mustard seeds balanced well with the meat and gave a sharper almost sour tang that tied in each flavour component.
The Milk Fed Spring Lamb was served with sweet potato, smoked yoghurt, cumin oil and peas. The lamb was beautifully cooked, very tender and juicy and also held a slight smoky flavour from the grill. This paired perfectly with the sweet potato, the sweeter flavours balancing well with the richer meat. The potato was also whipped with rosemary infused lamb fat. Yum! I just couldn’t get enough. The peas to accompany the lamb were tossed in cumin oil, which gave off a lovely fragrant spice to the refreshing peas. A delicious combination that paired well with the smoky tones of the goat’s milk yoghurt, which was light and lifted the deeper flavours of the rest of the dish. The Milk Fed Spring Lamb almost seemed to have Middle Eastern influences as the cumin shone through, balancing with the fresh peas and yoghurt. Delicious.
The Murray Gold Cod was beautifully steamed, and served with a garlic and leek cream, asparagus, zucchini, celery and salmon roe. The fish was soft and delicate, and just melted in the mouth. The celery and zucchini strips were light, lifting the fish flavour and give of a nice texture balance with a soft crunch. The creamy and smooth garlic and leek cream was warm, giving off earthier flavours to contrast with the seafood flavour. The pop of salty/sea tang from the salmon roe also gave a delicious flavour and texture that was the perfect additive to top off the dish. The Murray gold cod meal was cooked perfectly, holding a delicious balance of flavours. It was a fresh and light dish that just shows you can still be healthy, all while feeling indulgent.
The Serafino Steak was a Mayura station wagyu, with braised pencil leek, tarragon potato, beef and walnut vinaigrette, and topped with a parsley puree. The steak was cooked perfectly. The soft, tender and juicy meat gave off lovely earthy tones that paired with a side of pulled beef, which was also tender and juicy, holding deeper, richer flavours. The soft and creamy potato, held a light and lifting flavour/aroma from the tarragon that paired with the light almost refreshing tang from the pencil leek. The parsley puree gave off a strong/prominent tang that was helped balanced by the meat and tied in the light and deep flavours. A delicious dish overall.
For dessert, we had the Pumpkin Cheesecake, which was made with rum soaked muscatels, pepitas and a spiced snow. The Pumpkin Cheesecake is a no-waste dessert, where the whole pumpkin is utilised: The juice gets created into the pumpkin caramel and jelly. The pulp is used for cheesecake, while the skins and seeds go into Serafino’s compost for their kitchen garden. This dish holds similar flavours to that of a pumpkin pie, however, with different textures and components. The roll of pumpkin cheesecake, jelly and caramel were not too overpowering with the pumpkin flavour giving off sweet and subtle savoury tones. The muscatel jam was deliciously infused with spiced rum and gave off a prominent rich sweet tang that helped to balance the pumpkin. The spiced snow was where the traditional flavours of a pumpkin pie came in, like the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. The spices were fragrant and paired perfectly with the pumpkin and sweet tart muscatels. The sweet and tangy flavours all balanced well with the cool cream cheese centre, with a nice texture balance added from the pepitas. Overall a lovely sweet pumpkin dish that wasn’t too overpowering.
The Carrot and Walnut tart is a take on a traditional carrot and walnut cake, only swapping the cake element for pastry. It was made with a pink peppercorn pastry, white chocolate, cream cheese and a refreshing carrot sorbet. Again this was another no-waste dessert; the peelings of the carrot went into the compost while the offcuts were reduced into a powder for the sorbet to sit on. The pink peppercorn pastry was unusual and unique but very delicious. The centre of the tart was made from carrot ribbons, which were slow cooked in a cinnamon stock to help intensify and also sweeten the flavour. Grated candied walnuts were also within the tart adding a sweet, almost earthy tone, which paired with the delicious carrot sorbet. I had never had a carrot sorbet before and it was amazing; fresh and light, prefect for spring. The white chocolate icing also added another level of sweetness to help balance the savoury carrot, while the pastry was semi-sweet, holding lovely fragrant spices that balanced with the savoury crisp carrot flavour in the sorbet and the slow cooked carrots. I love carrot cake so this was definitely a favourite dessert on the night.
Rich and decadent is just the beginning when describing the 64% Valrhona Manjari Chocolate. The chocolate tart was definitely the main hero of the dish. Made from a rare high quality Madagascan cocoa bean, it was a good choice for the chef to let the chocolate shine for itself. The dish was paired with similar flavours found in a tiramisu; with a coffee ice cream, cocoa and dulce pearls. The dense tart was almost like a thick mousse in texture but was rich, smooth and delicious. Having Valrhona cocoa powder on the bottom, the dish screamed chocolate. But it wasn’t too overpowering or sweet, letting the subtle bitter tang of the chocolate shine. The coffee ice cream was made in-house and was beautifully smooth and creamy, paired perfectly with the decadent chocolate. You can’t go wrong with coffee and chocolate. The gold dolce pearls were rolled in edible gold powder and topped the chocolate tart. The crunch of the pearls gave a lovely textural balance to the otherwise smooth dish.
The Heidi Gruyere cheese dish is served with espuma, house fermented pear, pecans and pearl barley. This was a lovely modern showcase of the local cheese, without having a common cheeseboard. The traditional cheeseboard is still available at the cellar door, however, the restaurant wanted to produce more of a dessert to suit their style. And what a wonderful change it was. The cheese was soft and creamy, made semi-sweet from the fermented pear. Compressed with in-house pear vinegar, the pear slices reduced and fermented for a period of five months before appearing on the plate. This was certainly worth the wait, holding a delicious sweet, fresh and juicy flavour that balanced out the more savoury cheese. The candied pecans also added a sweet and almost earthy component as well as a lovely texture balance adding a crunch to the otherwise soft dish. The pearl barley also added earthy tones to balance the savoury cheese and added a chewy crunch that tied in the other components well.
Chef Daniel Armon and his team are trying to take a more produce approach to the new spring menu. Showcasing all the best both their garden and the local areas have to offer for this season.
Each dish was stunning both in presentation and flavour. It is amazing to see all the spring colours and flavours showcased through each dish. It was evident Daniel and his team took great care and pride when creating the new spring experience for their guests.
It is always a delight when travelling down to McLaren Vale to visit Serafino, and what better way to spend a sunny day with a lovely lunch or dinner. With the beautiful use of seasonal ingredients, it is the perfect way to welcome in Spring.
With all the exceptional dishes this season, we can’t wait to see what Daniel and his team have in store for Summer.
Words by Cyndal King
WHERE: 39 Kangarilla Rd, McLaren Vale