Melbourne's Black Pudding Renaissance
Are you an offal lover? Do you love your black pudding? Breaking news - there's a black pudding renaissance in Melbourne. Black pudding is on the rise in Melbourne establishments.
My roots are established in offal appreciation. As a kid we used to have tripe and crumbed brains for dinner almost weekly. I didn't know what it was but I sure loved it. Offal used to feature prominently on the supermarket shelves back in the day. Growing up and working as a professional banker, offal and chips was a popular regular lunch item in the cafeteria/restaurant. Bankers seemed to love their offal in the 90s, including me.
To be honest, black pudding evokes varied reactions from squeamishness to a passion for offal overdrive.Trending right now in the UK and Australia is the humble black pudding. Give it to children but don't tell them what it is. Here in Melbourne there is a penchant for black pudding with many iconic establishments offering this delicacy on their menus.
My top 3 restaurants for black pudding in Melbourne are Pei Modern on Collins Street, Duchess of Spotswood and Small Victories in Carlton North. Each of these serves up superb black pudding that can convert the harshest sceptic. In Europe you are often served black pudding in a loaf style which can be dry, almost cake like. But in Melbourne thankfully we are seeing black pudding with some moisture.
It's generally best not to know what ingredients are in a black pudding. If you don't know and still want to remain blissfully ignorant don't read the next line... Black pudding is a celebrational of all things offal bringing together pigs blood, fat, onion, seasoning and cereal. It's a celebration of the sausage! Just put blood into an intestine until it's set. Yeah baby!
Black pudding goes well with so many elements from sourdough to poached eggs. Black pudding complements and is a highlight with any fried breakfast. And not just breakfast but lunch and dinner.
A great black pudding is not too fatty, not too dry, glossy and dark. Some Melbourne establishments give it a real punch and spicy kick. With black pudding often associated with hard times, maybe Aussies will embrace it more if the mining boom wanes. Good times or bad times, the black pudding has stood the test of time over 1500 years.
Here are our favourites...
Duchess of Spotswood
Duchess of Spotswood is a monty for black pudding as a charming and cheeky establishment that occupies an old butcher’s shop. It advertises itself as an “unashamedly British café” where the cooking is influenced by passion, nostalgia, seasonal produce and fun. Yes fun! I contend that black pudding is fun.
Order some of the classics here and throw away the calorie chart. The celebrated Duchess of Pork is a popular breakfast selection that features a superb house made black pudding. The hero here is the pork and the black pudding is more a smattering. What a great combination. The hearty portion of pork is delectable, and with two free range eggs is amazing. But then throw in some truffle sauce, moist and glossy black pudding and sourdough with tub of butter and you are fuelled for the day. The English love a good “fry up” as my family heritage can testify, but this is “fry up” with class. I felt slightly guilty eating such fare but enjoyed the defiance of turning the food pyramid on its head.
Pei Modern is an impressive culinary experience in an upmarket part of Melbourne next to The Sofitel on the top end of Collins Street. Pei Modern has set the town on fire and does everything exceptionally including the black pudding.
Pei Modern is the work of Mark Best from Marque fame in Sydney (voted Sydney's best restaurant in 2011 and 3 hatted) together with Peter Bartholomew and David Mackintosh of Movida fame . With many runs on the culinary board Mark has entered the competitive world of Melbourne fine dining and has already scored a century before lunch here.
The menu at Pei Modern impressed me from the "get go". I'm a man who loves a good black pudding - as my heritage is English. Having enjoyed some black puddings around Melbourne I was keen to compare. The black pudding comes on sourdough with a poached egg and garnish. You can see here - it's black and glistening.
I'm a big fan of the Black pudding at Pei Modern as it was so intense in flavour and a hearty breakfast. This black pudding was moist and had a great tang to it. I was pleased there was a good portion of it - note to some others not to hold out on your black pudding.
Here is the key - black pudding with a twist - done in the French baudin noir style but the twist is the Mark Best quatre epice four spice! This killer spice gives the black pudding an amazing tang and warmth! Not to mention the egg was perfectly poached and the combination was sublime. Yes, this was a premier black pudding on the Melbourne culinary scene.
Service is excellent at Pei Modern. After all the Maitre D' Ainslie Lubbock has just been awarded the Australian Gourmet Traveller 2013 Maitre D' of the Year.
Pei Modern was rated at number 29 in Australia's Top 100 Restaurants by Australian Gourmet Traveller and it seems a good fit.
Check out the website at http://peimodern.com.au
Small Victories - Carlton North
Small Victories is a stellar new cafe in leafy historic North Carlton making its mark. Transformed by Arlic Hansen and Ben Farrant, notable Melbourne culinary identities, Small Victories is taking Melbourne by storm. Come here for superb gourmet meals, great coffee, excellent ambience, and killer black pudding. You know its going to be good when a cafe makes its own produce in house. It's a cafe that attracts foodies with its clever nuances and flavour combinations. Small Victories rises above the pack in a highly competitive precinct.
The Small Victories mixed grill is sensational featuring Eggs, bacon, beans, blood pudding, croquette, and two pork sausages.
Check it out. This is is no clumsy fry up or predictable big breakfast. The leek and cheddar croquette was superb and creamy inside and I could have eaten about six. The eggs were perfectly cooked and runny. The streaky bacon was high quality, smoked and prepared in house.
The black blood pudding was delicious and served fresh and had excellent amount of moisture . The delivery was in the European tradition of a loaf or cake like presentation. This black pudding was heavily spiced - something we like. Big tick also for black pudding also available as a side - the perfect accompaniment to any meal. And the sausages were gourmet, tasty and not too fatty. The beans were also impressive with gremolata on top. The accompanying toast was also excellent.
These meals come in terracotta dishes. At the time they'd run out of big plates, so my mixed grill came in two seperate plates - no problem. Small Victories is a super impressive and chic foodie haven that excites - and that includes the black pudding.
The black pudding tradition lives on in Melbourne, if not with the odd twist...