This dish changed my mind
Photo Courtesy of: Bambini Trust
I lunched recently with a man who knows me inside out. Literally. My dining partner was Professor Bob Jones, the Austin Hospital transplant surgeon who led the team that gave me a new liver two years ago.
He's the man quoted on the cover of my book, A Human Deadline, saying: 'I don't want to be remembered as the man who killed Derryn Hinch'. Obviously, he didn't want to be regarded as a folk hero by my legion of critics.
I've probably bored you before with my post-transplant story of how organ recipients are restricted to a pregnant woman's diet for the first year with their new organ.
That means no raw meat, no sashimi, no under-cooked prawns, no soft cheese. No alcohol, goes without saying. The thing I missed most of all - and it wasn't the alcohol, I'd been off that for five years before the transplant - was a raw oyster.
To celebrate my first anniversary with my new liver (courtesy of Heath Gardner's donor family) I made a beeline for my old stomping ground of Manhattan. Straight to the Oyster Bar at Grand Central for about three dozen molluscs from all over the United States and Canada. From Washington State to Newfoundland.
It seemed appropriate that I should celebrate my second anniversary with my new liver and new life with some raw oysters. And share them with the man who saved my life.
So I did: Some of the best oysters in the world from Coffin Bay in South Australia, washed relentlessly by the icy cold, briny Antarctic waters off Ceduna.
We both agreed that the Sydney oysters on offer were too creamy. Which brings me to Sydney and a wonderful dining discovery which was new to me but a bastion to a lot of other foodies.
It led me to a dish that I would never have even considered, if not for a persuasive waiter in an establishment which has a décor and ambience reminiscent of New York. Bambini Trust.
Hungry Hinch readers know how much I hate adulterated oysters. Won't eat Kilpatrick any more. Don't even touch the vinegary dish in the middle of the platter with others. The only exception are in Japanese restaurants like Nobu where they cook them in a fluffy tempura batter. But that's a totally different dish.
To make matters worse, the oysters on offer at Bambini Trust were from New South Wales. From a place called Lemon Tree Passage. And they were adulterated. And they were wonderful.
They were served with chives, salmon roe and a chardonnay vinegar. Absolutely heavenly.
I followed that with some sweet New Zealand scampi and my meal was complete. My dining companion was a dear friend, Marina Paul, who introduced me to Coffin Bay oysters more than a decade ago. She had a slow-cooked lamb shoulder ragu in pappadelle, which, from memory, is a favourite Jamie Oliver recipe.
Top nosh. You can trust Bambini Trust.
Footnote: Some interesting oyster news. Victorian mussel farmer, Lance Wiffen, has revived oyster growing in Port Phillip Bay. It's the first serious farming on the Bellarine peninsular since the 1800s. The fifth-generation farmer had a first harvest of 20,000 flat oysters and has planted a second season of 200,000. He reckons it could become a million-oyster a year business.
He spawns the oysters on land at Queenscliff and then grows them for 18 months in the bay at a depth of 26 metres.
According to a Herald Sun story the much-awarded Ben Shewry from Attica, and king chef Paul Wilson are keen to put them on the menu. Looking forward to trying them.