Valentines Day -Romantic Milestones
Valentines Day -Romantic Milestones

Valentines Day -Romantic Milestones

The Valentine’s Day theme is: Milestones

Zulu’s Valentine’s Day Degustation Menu for 2013 is about reflecting on those singular moments which define the progression of a relationship…gastronomically.

Valentines Day Table Setting

Mr GG, My Heart

Chef Joel McCulla has taken a refreshing look at the stages of romance, and prepared a six course meal with matching wines to celebrate these joyful occasions.

If you are not a strong believer in Valentines’ Day just take a look at the various snippets from the double side, cartoon style menu.  Joel has included thoughtful observations, cute cartoons and plenty of smooching pics to put guests in the mood for a romantic, if not mysterious evening.

Kiss Cartoon

Cute little cartoon on the menu

It is a mysterious evening because our menu hints at what is in store without naming any dishes.  Experience has shown me to expect the unexpected with this chameleon of cuisine.  Joel adds his own quirky sense of fun to every dish.

Course 1 is introduced as follows:

Caption for course 1

Caption for course 1

Tender lamb was the hint here; we were served moist pulled lamb shaped into boxes to represent that courting stage where gifts of chocolate and flowers are given. The dish was served on a rectangular chocolate box shaped plate, and each tender lamb chocolate covered in the most delicious chocolate Jus.

Slow Cooked Lamb w Chocolate Jus

Slow Cooked Lamb w Chocolate Jus

In the centre of the plate was a lovely bunch of flowers and micro herbs served with a salsa verde. Green strips which I initially thought was capsicum I discovered were crisp fried cassava chips. It was the perfect edible bouquet!  This dish was a visual and taste sensation, with the perfect balance of sweet and salty.

Bouquet of herbs, flowers & green Cassava Chips

Bouquet of herbs, flowers & green Cassava Chips

With the first course complete Mr GG and I are intrigued. Joel has reinvented Valentine ’s Day, and given it his own distinctive spin.

We look to the menu for some hints on the second course.

Caption for course 2

Caption for course 2

Before the dish reaches the table I know we are in for some Molecular Gastronomy. This is the stage in a relationship where the magic occurs.

The waiter assists in preparing our love potion and the chemistry is there for Mr GG and I to enjoy.

Crispy Spring rolls, Prawn Parcels & Beef Dumplings w lemon Foam

Crispy Spring rolls, Prawn Parcels & Beef Dumplings w lemon Foam

I sample the spring roll first to find that it is filled with an African Pork Muamba filling.  The spices used in the spring rolls are richly aromatic and give it the most delicious unique flavour to this crispy treat.  Next I tried the Prawn Parcels with the lemon foam which was by now oozing deliciously over the crispy fried goodness that was the second course.  The parcels contained perfectly cooked sweet succulent prawns, absolute bliss for the mouth. Finally the Beef Messir dumplings were all that remained on the plate.  I really enjoy the African menu at Zulu’s so I was pleased to find these dumplings borrow more from the African flavour profile I love.

It is time for course 3 and we are moving nicely down the romantic timeline.

Caption & Cartoon for Course 3

Caption & Cartoon for Course 3

A light salmon mousse is presented with a lime aoili key, perhaps the key to lives now being shared.

Salmon Mousse w Lime Aioli, Crisp Cornbread & tapenade

Salmon Mousse w Lime Aioli, Crisp Cornbread & tapenade

Also plated are rich golden pieces of crispy fried cornbread.  These give the dish a homely, comfort food feeling. The cornbread is filled with chunks of sweet corn pieces and the bread works deliciously as a tool for mopping up the mousse.  The olive tapenade and the tomato salsa both have a fresh zingy flavour, perhaps even benefiting from the inclusion of chopped parsley and lemon.  This allows both sides to work perfectly with the other components of the dish.

It’s time for course 4 and a proposal. Naturally we are served a glass of Devils Corner Cuvee for the happy occasion.  It is one of my favourite wines for the evening, soft bubbles, and a creamy silky mouth feel.

Caption and Kisses for Course 4

Caption and Kisses for Course 4

Dessert is described as a Raspberry Jam Lamington.  The dish has all the components of this iconic cake but Joel has reinvented this Australian favourite to suit the evenings’ theme. The cubes  are a light sweet sponge with romantic red layers of fruity raspberry jam representing the ring boxes we give as couples. A crisp thin chocolate bridge joins the two. The coconut butter cream replaced the coconut that I have never liked on a lamington with a lush, silky alternative. It is a far more glamorous dish than a true lamington, but one which is true to all the flavours in the original.

A modern take on the humble lamington

A modern take on the humble lamington

Course 5 is the marrying of two distinct desserts and flavours.

More Kisses & A Description for Course 5

More Kisses & A Description for Course 5

In this dish we are presented with a deconstructed lemon meringue pie, and a bride and groom perched on top. These are no ordinary bride and groom. They are the creamy sweet combination of delectable milk chocolate and crunchy salted peanut butter. Two distinct desserts brought together on one plate in the name of food love!

A Marriage of Chocolate & Peanut on a bed of Deconstructed Lemon Meringue Pie

A Marriage of Chocolate & Peanut on a bed of Deconstructed Lemon Meringue Pie

Mr GG and I were quick to devour the happy couple before we moved onto the rich lemon curd and buttery base of the lemon meringue pie.

Course 6 and a cute pic

Course 6 and a cute pic

Course 6 is our “happily ever after”, and because too many desserts are never quite enough on Valentine’s Day it really is a happy ending to the meal.

Here we are served hearts on a plate. The base of the heart is a delicious buttery biscuit layer, it is gluten free, and draws flavour and texture from the inclusion of poppy & sesame seeds.  The top layer is a light, creamy coconut custard which has been flavoured with aromatic chai spices.

Mango Sorbet & Coconut Hearts

Mango Sorbet & Coconut Hearts

Also accompanying the hearts are some red and black, white chocolate buttons. I presume these are to help fix any problems along the way.  Mr GG and I tousled for the mango sorbet which was so full of flavour I would have happily sat down to a bowl of this on its own.

So who is the chef? Joel McCulla; he is an innovative, talented chef with a quirky, refreshing personality, evil sense of humour and a flair for producing the most imaginative tasty food. A testament to the success of the evening was a full house of lovely, happy, smiling couples who were truly enjoying the magic and mystic that Joel and staff created in the name of this romantic day.

Love Table Setting

A Romantic Love Setting for Two

If you would like to read about my past experiences at the hands of this tantalising, if not slightly eccentric chef, check out the links below. I will warn you now, the mouse burger is not for the faint hearted.

 Mouse Burger w Squeaky Fries

Zulu’s Restaurant Review

Zulu’s Restaurant

27 Grafton St, Coffs Harbour

Ph: 02 6652 1588

Gourmet Getaways would like to thank Zulu’s and Joel McCulla for the invitation to dine as a guest. Please be assured that the opinions expressed in this story are the author honest thoughts on an amazing experience.
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Comments

  1. He is truly talented! I can’t wait too take Hubby there to experience Joel’s creations.

  2. We visited Zulu’s recently and was so impressed by Joel and his enthusiasm for chilli! This Valentines Day menu looks amazing, we will definitely have to return. A most fantastic restaurant in Coffs Harbour. Well done Joel!!

    • I absolutely agree! Zulu’s is an amazing unique experience, I love the intense African flavours and Joel’s experimentally twisted view of food 🙂

  3. I love the menu. A very creative chef. The lamb with chocolate jus…..that’s so interesting.

  4. haha I love those cartoons! I don’t know what they’re called but I’ve seen their images everywhere. What a lovely Valentine’s dinner you had. That lemon foam looks so awesome!!

  5. Awww I love the cartoons 🙂 They complimented the dishes really well!! Hope you and Mr GG had a fantastic Valentines Day!!!

  6. I am so thrilled and touched that you added me to your foodie blog roll. Thank you!!!

    Boy, does this menu look extraordinary! And SO darn creative!!! Impressive.

  7. Wow he is utterly incredible my friend, I think I am in love with his cooking 😀

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  8. You are all very flattering with your comments… humbling… we honestly do it because we love enjoying it… and we do it so differently because… well because I’m a little nuts! ;o)

  9. Awww, so cute! Love the humour and quirkiness in the menu.

  10. I seriously could not top this dining experience with ANY that I have had in my entire life. How fun!

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