This year Wellington On A Plate has a host of exciting events to choose from - and for me, nothing could quite rival the experience that is the QT Hotel masterpiece, 'Dine With Monet'.
As a former student of Art History at Victoria University, I simply cannot think of a more pleasing combination of elements in life than people, food and art for an event for Wellington on a Plate which starts next month on 11 August. Indeed, I simply love a bit of Impressionism. I think what attracts me to this period of art is all the wonderful fashion and revolution of it all - a time where artists were turning against establishment painting. Cezanne, Manet, Corbet and Monet - these gents are the rock stars of modern art who started it all, inspiring Picasso, Braque and so many more after them.
It is often overlooked that Claude Monet was as much of a foodie as he was a painter. Indeed, while we all may know him for his famous Waterlilies, for Monet nothing was as satisfying as sitting at the table with good company, a spread of dishes and Veuve Cliquot champagne. Sounds like the life for me if only I could find that time machine to go and visit him. Luckily, we don't have to...Hippopotamus, the iconic restaurant in QT Museum Wellington at 90 Cable Street, have put together a sensation event on 23 August which is guaranteed to take you on a journey of artistic and culinary vision.
"Cezanne, Manet, Corbet and Monet - these gents are the rock stars of modern art who started it all"
'Dine with Monet' is both educative and gastronomically orgasmic. It feeds your mind, body and soul. The scene is set by the gorgeous Hippopotamus Restaurant, with its stunning view of Wellington. Easels with reproductions of impressionist art are erected to create the mood of a gallery and the wine paints a portrait in one's mouth to rival any grand masterpiece. The event is centred around not just the plates on offer, lovingly created by Executive Chef Laurant Loudeac but also Art Historian Dr. Wendy Joyce of Victoria University. Dr. Wendy acted as our guide for the evening, patiently answering all our questions about the 1800's & turn of the century culinary preferences. What did Monet drink? (Veuve) What was available to eat? (whatever was seasonal or at markets) Did they have garlic? (No, until it was imported from Italy). There is little that this fascinating academic doesn't know- as she has a particular interest in the intersection between artists and their relationship to food, both on and off the canvas.
This four-course dinner is inspired by Monet's cookbook, 'Monet's Palate'. First up? A cocktail which I can safely say may lead to me breaking into QT at night to steal the recipe! And the food? Starting with Wellington Porcini Mushroom Soup, laden with delicious thick butter, it was heaven in a cup, accompanied by a Gruyere Twister. We ladled greedy spoonfuls of it into our mouths while Dr Wendy expertly knitted together the many interesting connections between painting and gastronomy.
A highlight was the setting out of the second plate, with Venison Carpaccio, Grated Beetroot, Plum Gel, Red Wine Dressing and chocolate, tasting of a mossy wood in Giverny where one could imagine Monet, in his white hat and spats, with long flowing beard wandering in the woods, gathering inspiration.
The main was a buttery seafood Scampi Raviolo, fresh vegetables in a Bouillabaisse broth. A taste of the sea, wrapped in fresh pasta, with streaming ribbons of light zucchini made a dish even a grand master would approve of. Colour is key to the 'Dine With Monet' experience, taking inspiration from the impressionist palette and brushstrokes. Apparently, the French LOVED their butter, which suits me down to the ground. Meanwhile, we sipped delicious vino, selected by Hippopotamus's master sommelier.
"An absolute top pick for the 2017 #WellyOnAPlate season!"
Finally, a delicious set of petit-fours finished the dinner perfectly. Amongst better know cakes such as Opera slice is a little favourite of Monet's, Vert-Vert - literally translated as 'Green-green'. I would describe it (equally as accurately) as 'scrumptious-scrumptious'. Even if you know nothing about art or food, you will leave with your mind a little fuller and certainly your stomach far heavier. Unfortunately, this one is currently sold out, but I think we should rally to get Hippopotamus and Dr Wendy to put on a second event! An absolute top pick for the 2017 #WellyOnAPlate season!