From Saturday 18 August to Sunday 16 September 2012, Lionel's Melbourne becomes an gastronomic adventure. The City of Melbourne presents a delicious event to showcase the abundant culinary creativity that calls the city home and tantalise the public's epicurean palate in celebration of Victoria's proud food history and the State Library of Victoria's Gusto! Exhibition.
One of my favourite Look.Stop.Taste restaurants is The Hotel Windsor's Cricketers Bar, a gathering place for Melbourne's politicians, business people, sports fans and tourists to enjoy the classic pub fare or down a beer while viewing major sporting events on two large-screen televisions. Started by Alan Carruthers, former general manager of the hotel in 1974, it was at a time when Melbourne didn't have a cricketing museum and as a result, The Cricketers Bar was once recognised as housing the best cricketing memorabilia in the Commonwealth. In addition to this unique characteristic, the Bar provides a warm and relaxed atmosphere staffed with friendly service that doesn't present any hint of an up-turned nose air that is commonly associated with a luxury historic hotel. The Hotel Windsor built in 1883 will turn 130 years old next year. The owner of The Hotel Windsor is the Halim Group, which purchased the hotel in 2005 and is managed by Leanne Courtney.
One of my favourite and recommended Look.Stop.Taste dishes is Executive Chef Matthew Lawdorn's humble, no frills and well portioned twice-cooked crispy pork belly. The Chinese-inspired braising stock adds carmalisation and the flavour of five spices, Chinese cooking wine, orange peel and soy to the cut of meat and the skin is crisped through deep frying. The end result is mildly glutinous, sweet and tender pork that tears away easily with a fork and melts in your mouth. The tangy salad of Asian herb and aromats including lemongrass, lime leaf, ginger, coriander and bean sprouts does a fantastic job of cutting through the oil and cleansing the palate. You also get a choice of a pot of beer on tap, a glass of house red or white, or a soft drink to accompany your pork belly for AUD16. I enjoyed pairing the James Squire pale ale with my pork. The Cricketers Bar also serves a range of tasty and affordable pub eats with drinks for less than AUD20.
Chef Matthew Lawdorn's twice-cooked crispy pork belly
Victoria Batters, Marketing Manager of The Hotel Windsor and I chatted about Matthew's pork belly recipe and Look.Stop.Taste. Victoria shared with me that the Food Festival celebrates the abundance of produce and culinary creativity in Melbourne. The hotel was delighted to be involved, having played such a significant role in Melbourne's history and hosting some of the city's most memorable banquets and events.
Matthew's twice-cooked crispy pork belly is a special for Look.Stop.Taste and I didn't find it on the usual menu. The Cricketers Bar doesn't reserve tables so I suggest a visit at an off-time to enjoy the classic atmosphere and savour his culinary creation at leisure.