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The Atlantic’s Spectacular Seafood in Winter

Change perspective and enjoy the rich abundance of seafood in winter. Fish thrives in cooler waters; oysters are at their peak in winter; the best time to eat seafood is when the temperature drops. It’s not just about barbecued seafood on hot summer days. Winter is the perfect time to enjoy seasonal seafood. The Atlantic’s Spectacular Seafood in Winter is designed to show off the abundance of seafood that Executive Chef Donovan Cooke and his staff receive at the restaurant daily. It is to highlight just how beautiful the fish, shellfish and crustaceans are during the cooler months. Donovan Cooke says, “Winter is the best time for oysters and fish, the cooler water creates ideal conditions for the oysters to spawn in, producing a clean, metallic taste."

The World Loves Melbourne was invited to this superb event at The Atlantic in Crown. We have enjoyed The Atlantic at Home cookbook as a must-have Melbourne cookbook. Cooke discussed the recipes and the process of putting the book together with Hilary McNevin, freelance food writer and co-author of the book. A thrill was to have Hilary McNevin and Donovan Cooke reveal some of the back-story, as well as helpful cooking tips related to cooking fish. A heavy cast iron pan on high heat is important for cooking many fish dishes, for example. Hilary opened up the conversation, with dinner guests posing questions for Donovan related to their own experiences of cooking fish at home. A rousing applause was indication of this unique look into the world of a legend chef.

Donovan is excited by the quality of seafood in winter. "Fish like snapper and whiting are running at their prime in Victoria and South Australia right now. This is because the food the fish need is less abundant, so they have to fight harder to eat - thus, they have fantastic firm flesh", said Donovan.

Thanks also to Alan Nelson from Nelson Wines, a perennial supporter of the Melbourne food and wine scene, for his astute and brilliant wine pairings.

The dinner featured the freshest seasonal seafood complemented by earthy, warming winter flavours. It was a chart topping array of some of Donovan's finest dishes.

Olive oil confit trout, Cooke’s favourite way to prepare this fish, is balanced with tangy artichoke Provencale and salty anchovies and olives. A famous dish, you can find it on page 156 of the book (wow your friends). The crisp 2013 Port Philip Estate Chardonnay, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria was a perfect pairing.

Coffin Bay Oysters, at their freshest in winter, are given a decadent touch with black truffles. The Coffin Bay Oysters with cos lettuce and black truffle soup was a triumph and archetypal in its rustic charm. Who says winter food must be beef stews and minestrone soups? How about fine seafood at its comforting and flavoursome best, with the flair of Donovan Cooke. The dish was paired with NV Champagne Laurent-Perrier Brut, Tours-sur-Marne, France.

Pan Fried Hapuka was another rewarding dish with a generous helping, complemented with an underbelly of piperade, mussels and chorizo. We savoured every mouthful.

Dessert was also a high point with the Jasmine Tea Cassonade with honeycomb, jasmine tea and lemon sorbet, sable. A dessert wine pairing of 2013 Springvale "Louisa" Gewurztraminer, Freycinet Coast, Tasmania, added to the cheer and conviviality.

Grab your copy of The Atlantic At Home, an accessible cookbook and the perfect gift. Profiles on seafood producers, lists of pantry staples and equipment lists, as well as an alternative seafood species chart, support the 70 recipes that the chef has amassed in his over 30 years of cooking and prepares regularly  in the award-winning restaurant. The World Loves Melbourne considers this to be a highly impressive cookbook with compelling recipes, material from Donovan Cooke to transform the home cook into a seafood sensation, high quality photos of dishes, and verve of Hilary McNevin's literary contribution that compliments Donovan Cooke's culinary prowess.

Grab your copy of The Atlantic At Home online, from The Atlantic restaurant, and cookbook stockists such as -

Readings – Carlton, Hawthorn, St Kilda & Malvern 

Books for Cooks – Fitzroy 

Essential Ingredient – Prahran 

The Avenue – Albert Park 

Chefs Hat – South Melbourne 

Cedar Hospitality – Brunswick 

Thanks to Hilary McNevin and Donovan Cooke. A night to remember.