Melbourne coffee specialist, St Ali, together with Melbourne dessert connoisseur, LuxBite, whipped up a private coffee pairing: dessert edition recently at Underground Société.
The private session saw the coming together of experts that love and celebrate all things Melbourne: Matt Perger – a multi-award winning barista and head of coffee at St Ali and Sensory Lab; Bernard Chu – owner of flourishing Melbourne-based dessert café, LuxBite; and brothers Choong Kar Wai and Choong Kar Heng – founders of four award-winning Melbourne-inspired cafes that make up the Coffee Société family.
Melbourne is fast becoming known as a foodie destination in Australia, with the thriving café scene giving birth to a culture of artisan coffee as a social pastime. The culinary appreciation of coffee has naturally evolved to include food, and a coffee pairing session typically features several different styles of coffee, matched with food that best compliment the flavours.
At the pairing session, LuxBite specially created a Melbourne-inspired four course dessert meal that consisted of “Multicultural Melbourne”, “Deconstructed Endless Love”, “Taste of Melbourne” and “Melbourne Pollen”, while Matt whipped up different coffees made using the signature St Ali Orthodox blend to perfectly complement or contrast the different tastes. Underground Société added to the feast with their main of a Smoked Chicken Roulade with Sundried Tomato, Hickory Barbeque Sauce & Housemade Mint Caviar.
Bernard Chu drew inspiration from his upbringing in Malaysia when creating the special confectionaries for the menu to reflect the multiculturalism of Melbourne. Melbourne’s rich heritage was especially visible in the dessert “Multicultural Melbourne”, a coconut & kaffir lime panna cotta with fresh fruits and hints of mint, paired with a St Ali iced cold brew. In a bold experimental move, Bernard wanted to showcase the influence of Asian flavours in the Melbourne cuisine scene and prove that even these tangy flavours can match with the right coffee.
After guests drank half of the St Ali black coffee for the first dish, the ice for the coffee was allowed to melt to complement the second mousse dessert “Deconstructed Endless Love”. Matt explained that controlling the strength and concentration of the coffee is essential in any coffee pairing and a balance of the intensity of the flavours has to be achieved to make sure the flavours do not clash. By letting the ice dilute the coffee, the lower concentration of coffee would avoid overpowering the delicate floral and fruity tastes of the dessert.
The third dish “Taste of Melbourne” was inspired by the current trends in Melbourne, featuring donuts, salted caramel and macarons doused in a peanut glaze. Matt paired the dessert with cold coffee infused with only milk for 18 hours, an unconventional coffee brewing technique that reduces the dilution of flavours that using water would otherwise result in. The milk worked to soften the bitterness of the coffee to perfectly match the nutty flavours of the dessert.
The crowd pleaser of the night was the final dish, “Melbourne Pollen”, chocolate florets that bloomed upon contact with the heated olive oil dressing. The inspiration behind this dessert is a cheeky nod to arrival of spring and the pollen in the air, with the florets arranged in the shape of a flower bud. Matt presented with the dish the distinctively antipodean drink of a flat white to pay similar homage to the coffee culture sweeping Melbourne and Australia.
As one of the pioneer coffee specialists in Melbourne, the St Ali family has played a huge role in giving Melbourne the title of Coffee Capital of Australia. Meanwhile, LuxBite is the brainchild of Bernard and his partner, Yen Yee, and serves up an array of macarons, tarts and cakes that have gained them a following among sweet tooths.
Matt Perger commented, “Melbourne definitely has one of the strongest café cultures in the world. It is known not only for the quality of the roasting, brewing methods and baristas, but for the café scene that continues to flourish with more quirky venues to feed the city’s coffee obsession. We hope that our international tour can help people to understand what it is that Melbourne is offering that makes the city so special.”
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