To celebrate her 70th birthday Maria Venuti launched her book ‘A whole lot of front’ a biography of her 50 year career working in the entertainment industry in Australia. For those of you that know of Venuti, you can see how the title of the book matches her personality and appearance perfectly. The launch was held down at Ripples Chowder Bay and we were lucky to have a beautiful sunset whilst pre-dinner drinks were served. The night was full of great food and wine, with Venuti performing and reading passages from her memoir.

The beautiful view from the deck of Ripples at Chowder Bay. The book launch was held inside the heritage building, but the venue also has plenty of seating on the deck which was open to the public during the night.

Interior set up for the evening, the artwork across the wall is a piece done by Nafisa Naomi who also did the self portrait of Maria Venuti below.

Entree:

All of the tables started off with the handmade focaccia with rosemary and garlic, that was wonderfully warm, crunchy and char grilled. Accompanying the bread were the Italian olives, also heated with rosemary and brandy. The best bit was dipping the bread in the left over oil from the olives, sign of a true European.

My entree choice for the evening was the yamba prawns with tomato, garlic, white wine, chilli and parsley. The serving consisted of four large prawns that were piled with cherry tomatoes and infused with white wine and chilli.

The second entree choice was the mozzarella and basil frittata with tomato and artichoke salad. Of course I had to have a little try and loved the mixture of flavours, especially the artichoke with the balsamic reduction.

Mains:

There were three choices of mains for the evening and after speaking to the waitress she recommended going with the char grilled beef tenderloins with potato cake, spinach and porcini sauce. The meat was extremely tender and cooked exactly to the way I ordered it at medium rare. The porcini mushroom sauce which had a full bodied flavour did not overpower the dish or drown the plate. After getting half way through the meal, fullness started to kick in with the size of the beef tenderloins being very generous, I need to remind myself to not eat so much bread at the beginning of a meal.

My friend Isabelle went with the roast half duck served with frisee leaves, radish and a citrus dressing. I normally steer clear of duck as I am not a big fan of the fatty taste, yet the breast piece had plenty of white meat and looked extremely tasty. Everyone that chose it commented on how tender and tasty it was…number one choice for next time.

The third choice for the mains was the petuna ocean trout fillet with pumpkin, beetroot and rocket salad with a yoghurt sauce. My best friend Poppy is having a baby in October so she asked for her trout to be well cooked, hence the crispy skin. The beetroot salad added a great contrast of colour against the ocean trout, with the yoghurt sauce keeping the dish light and fresh.

Dessert:

Due to both desserts sounding too good, I decided to share with Jes and we grabbed one each. First choice was the vanilla panna cotta with a lemon caramel sauce, candied lemon peel and blueberries. The citrus taste from the lemon was what won me over, though I think any form of food that is ‘candied’ is a winner. The panna cotta was creamy and had a thick consistency, which I really liked. You can’t really see from the brightness of the picture but the panna cotta was specked with small pieces of the vanilla bean.

The second dessert choice was extremely decadent with the base being a dark chocolate pavlova topped with chocolate cream, red berries and raspberry sorbet. The meringue was crisp on the outside and soft and marshmallow like in the centre with the raspberry and chocolate colour combination reminding me of a Cherry Ripe chocolate bar. The dessert was sweet, crisp, creamy and chilled and ended the meal perfectly.

The night was both epic in regards to the entertainment and the food and wine. The venue looked beautiful and everyone left feeling satisfied, and beyond full. I have visited Ripples Chowder Bay on numerous occasions and always have a great time.

Ripples

Deck C, Chowder Bay Rd, Mosman, NSW, 2088

Ph: (02) 9960 3000

Web: http://www.aquadining.com.au/aqua_ripples_cafe_restaurant.htm