Trailer Made Food Dinner Project
Trailermade Food Truck
I received a text from Mr Frenchman one evening, asking me to come along to a dinner that he’d won at an auction: a homecooked dinner for four prepared by three Melbourne chefs. So even though my folks were visiting from Singapore, I ditched them that Wednesday night to partake in this singular experience.
That’s how I found myself sitting at a front yard inside one of Coburg’s innumerable quiet streets.
The backstory is… Mr Frenchman was at a charity event hosted by Dinner Project Melbourne when this auction came about. Realising it’d be a perfect meal to celebrate his birthday, he bidded crazily ala French-style… and won! I was strategically chosen as an invitee because
I’m a friend of my food photography skills. :p
St Marcellin cheese from near Grenoble in France
Here’s our awesomely put together table setting… but before I continue, I’d like to make a few more distinctions. This auction dinner was a collaboration between Trailer Made and Dinner Project Melbourne. The Dinner Project is an ongoing Melbourne pop-up where chefs voluntarily work outside of their restaurants and are given full creativity to create a menu. Any proceeds from that meal then goes to charity.
Incidentally, Trailer Made happened to launch the week before I attended this special dinner-in-a-frontyard, so (I believe) they decided to use the food truck as a pop-up kitchen! Our chefs for that evening were Casey and Thi (from Cumulus Inc), and Jon (from Coda).
The evening that this dinner happened was also the first night where Melbourne decided to herald in spring. It was warm and balmy with a light breeze… a perfect setting for a beautiful meal. A few passers by were walking past us on their respective ways home… they looked so puzzled seeing this whole shebang of a food pop-up happening right in a neighbour’s front yard.
Our meal started off beautifully with crispy finger food: spiced chick peas with pork crackling and fried tripe. I found myself reaching for the crackling and tripe endlessly, it was perfectly crunchy and (thankfully) not crazily salty. To my delight, it even included strips of crispy pigs ears. I was pretty tempted to name this dish of the night already.
Then things became a little more refined, with a serve of Coffin Bay oysters, ice tea granita and wasabi.
And then this came out: pan seared scallops with corn purée & popcorn.
*Ahem*… excuse me? Is this really coming out from that food truck? Wow! The scallops were cooked perfectly… sweet and fresh, with a fun textural element from the popcorn.
Our next course was pickled beetroot with latkes & aioli. Crisp with a mild push of Middle Eastern spices counterpointed with the tanginess of pickled beetroot. By this point, we realised that there was going to be a lot of food involved. In fact, Kim (who took care of our table) told us that they’d planned eleven courses for us…!
Next came one of my favourites for the night… quinoa salad with orange dressing, fried artichokes, yogurt dressing and pomegranate. I thought I’d sworn myself off quinoa since my trip to South America, but this dish has given it a comeback for me. The added touches of fried parsley, garlic chips and juicy pomegranate brought the dish together very nicely. Crunchy, moreish, yet also light and refreshing.
Even though Kim introduced this course as sweetbreads with yogurt, herb and chilli sauce, barramundi skin, pickled apples, coriander… eating into it, I thought I was eating fried fish and not lamb sweetbreads. The sweetbreads were prepared and cooked so nicely to the point that it did not taste of offal. Delicious!
Course seven consisted of barramundi fish fingers coated with dukkah, ragu vette, on a cucumber salad. I’ll refrain from too much comment on this dish as I am not a fan of the spice profile of dukkah unless it’s very mild. But I enjoyed the light and uplifting cucumber salad.
We were getting pretty full by this point, but next came an inventive take on kebabs: chicken lollipops, Israeli couscous, corn purée and sumac. The meatballs (lollipops) had an unfamiliar flavour profile reminiscent of South American fare, perhaps it was the sumac…
We were bursting out of our belts by this point, which was why the final savoury course was served in takeaway boxes ala truckfood-style. Sticky beef buns with coleslaw, served with fresh made sweet chilli sauce. Still greedy, I gobbled it down happily.
And here’s the three chefs who made this meal possible… from left: Casey, Thi and Jon.
For dessert, Jon created a spectacular (and gluten free) dish involving Textures of Chocolate… flourless chocolate cake, chocolate meringue, aerated chocolate, white chocolate sorbet & dulche de leche. He really outdid himself, it was a wonderful dessert. And coming out from the cramped confines of a food truck parked on the street made it even more marvellous!
And let’s not forget Kim, who took care of our table so well right through the meal. Kim’s contribution to this meal was Mr Frenchman’s birthday cake. Almond sponge, Italian meringue, white chocolate mousse with sour cherry, sour cherry jelly, citrus curd (& three pinches of love). They set it aflame as we sang the birthday song, much to the birthday boy’s embarrassment.
Thus ended one of the most epic and surreal meals I’ve had this year. I’d like to thank Mr Frenchman for inviting me to this unforgettable experience (hope I’ve taken photos that are to his satisfaction). Also a big thank you to the chefs and people who made this possible: Casey, Jon, Kim, Thi and the lovely lady who provided the front yard for us, plus the smoochy cat that came to say hello and decided to sleep next to me.