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To kick off 2020, Maude journeyed to South Australia as the region to be the focus of their tasting menu from January through March. South Australia is in the southern central part of the country where it is nicknamed the "Wine State. It is home to Adelaide, the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Clare Valley and Coonawarra. It is a diverse region that includes the coastline and the outback, providing an array of ingredients including wattleseed, quandong (a native peach), mountain pepper, lemon myrtle, native watercress, pandanus and strawberry gum, to showcase in a delicious menu. In addition to the diverse ingredients foraged, the Maude team was also influenced by the fresh seafood sourced from the coast. Oysters, mussels, cockles, limpets, spiny lobsters, Eastern School prawns, and freshwater crayfish are all thriving in the southern waters. They were inspired by chef Maggie Beer, an Australian legend who runs a cooking school and farm shop which is home to peacocks, olive groves, a quince orchard and a lake. And they visited Hutton Vale, where 3,000 merino sheep roam and are raised for their wool and meat. We began with a bottle of Rieslingfreak No. 4 Riesling from Eden Valley that was fresh and aromatic with notes of lemon, lime, white flowers and slate with bright acidity. Our meal started with two plates. One had oysters cooked in lamb fat and hiramasa (yellowtail kingfish) with finger limes. The other plate has celtuce (stem lettuce) with kumquat and coconut, and a tuile cone with wattlesead, potato and black truffle.
We started in Western Australia, then traveled to Sonoma, followed by Champagne. For the the fourth and final menu of Maude 2019, the team, consisting of Executive Chef Chris Flint, Wine Director Andrey Tolmachyov, and Pastry Chef Yesenia Cruz traveled to Tuscany, Italy. Making Siena their hub, they spent an immersive week filled with eating and drinking and now created a menu to share their discoveries. The cuisine of Tuscany is based on the Italian idea of cucina povera (“poor cooking”). It is a cuisine known for its simplicity. There are no complicated seasonings or elaborate creations, rather the focus is on fresh, high-quality ingredients. And this is exactly what Executive Chef Chris Flint executed. It was a menu that was clearly inspired by Tuscany and the presentations were simple. But the flavors were anything but simple, and paired with a selection of old Tuscan wines that my dining companions brought, our Maude journey to Tuscany was another wonderfully memorable meal. Our meal started with four small bites.