Venetian Nights: A Sensory Degustation with Bacchus, South Bank

From the archive: This post is from our original site, MyCityLife, back on 25 July 2014

Venice has always played a significant role in classical music, particularly as 1600s Renaissance was segue-ing into 1700s Baroque. As the hub to the symphony and opera, Venice is also the birthplace of Four Seasons Maestro, Antonio Vivaldi. And as Italy’s very own City of Romance, this especial Queen of The Adriatic is unique with its Venetian waterways dating back a millennia while continuing to overflow with gondolas and gondoliers. And like its waterways, the laneways and areas of Venice are flooded with music, where the lute and organ have particularly enjoyed a rich history of development across the ages. And with opera house La Fenice, the Conservatorio di Musica Benedetto Marcello di Venezia and Basilica of San Marco featuring as iconic music landmarks, the music of Venice continues to infuse the classical world through to today. 

And on Wednesday, July 30, Bacchus South Bank will overload the senses, transporting tastes, sights, smells and sounds back to the golden age of the Venetian era with a night of the finest wines, foods and music as the ultimate gustatory and ocular experience. The Queensland Symphony Orchestra will perform Venice’s most celebrated composers over a four-course degustation dinner curated by Head Chef Mark Penna and paired to Sirromet Wines’ finest drops. This will be an extravagant menu with wines paired to enhance each element of the cultivated cuisine, magnifying the tastes of this sensual foodie fare and amplified by the glowing intensity of these refined classical works. 

Following Bacchus’ usual flavoursome amuse-bouche, the entrée course with panna cotta of fennel, goats cheese, baby beet and carrot with quinoa, candied pecans, wattleseed biscotti and Pernod vinaigrette will be deftly matched to the honeyed tones and marmalade, citrus or cumquat notes from the Grand Reserve 2013 Verdelho Blanc. The vegetable components will no doubt be masterfully balanced by the Verdelho’s floral tones and intense tropical flavours, the panna cotta no doubt further augmented by the green apple tones of this drop. Course two will see Moreton Bay Bugtail, beer-battered white anchovy and salted rock melon paired to Le Sauvage 2010 Pinot Gris; the juiciness of this bug tail dish with its salty overtones of the anchovy and salted rockmelon will be kept in check by the fresh fruit flavours and tartness of the pinot.

The main of Osso Bucco braised veal, light aromatic tomato sauce served alongside broad beans and white asparagus will be delightfully matched to the Le Sauvage 2009 Nebbiolo; the grape from the St Jude’s vineyard firm on the palate with notes of soft cherry and rhubarb and hints of exotic truffle sure to enhance the rustic characters of these lush marrow filled bones. Dessert of sticky lemon polenta, almond scorched buttermilk ice cream will be paired to the Private Collection 2013 Late Harvest Pinot Gris; the sweetness of this white wine sure to burst with tones of apricots, honeydew melon yet delicate in texture and flavours. It should be perfectly harmonious when balanced by the caustic lemon of the polenta.

The musical spread is sure to round out the ambrosial food and wine menu. “Take A Pair of Sparkling Eyes” from The Gondoliers by Gilbert & Sullivan and the burnished brilliance of Offenbach’s famed Barcarolle from The Tales of Hoffmann are lightly complex yet dainty; the spritely tones aglow with brightness and radiance. Monteverdi’s Toccata da L’Orfeo and Puccini’s E Lucevan Le Stelle from Tosca hint at swirling tones of discord, the works virtuosic in nature through sweet in flavours with clear finishes. Arban‘s Fantaisie and Variations on The Carnival of Venice, Albinoni’s Oboe Concerto in D Major: Op. 7, No. 6 and Vivaldi’s Il Gardellino Flute Concerto The Goldfinch remain flashing in temperament, these opulent scores lavishly harmonious, mellow and resonant. Vivaldi’s L’estro armonico: Concerto for 4 Violins, Cello, Strings and Continuo and Gabrieli’s Sonate e Canzoni are intense and symphonic, the lush textures dignified and valiant. Vivaldi’s Concerto ‘alla rustica’ in G-Major, RV 151 while grand in nature and epic in symphonic structures, still remains luminous and bright on the ears. Just as it is with the wine and the fare, these pieces will complement the sharp lightness and brisk textures for an evening of subtle notes all round. 

The light flavours and delicate complexity of each course and grape are sure to be reflected in the menu of Venetian music for the evening. Sparkling and vibrant though quietly intense, the symphonic textures will be brilliant burnished and light to the ear, each piece reserved with a hidden complexity. There are no storms or turbulence here; expect vivid resplendence, composed textures and clear tones on ear, palate and nose.

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