Salumi and Cheese Dego at the Gazebo, Elizabeth Bay

Who said cold meats and cheese can’t be trendy?

Located 2 Elizabeth Bay Rd, Elizabeth Bay NSW 2011

While Ferragosto highlights the August summer vacations in Italy, we can celebrate this just as well on a winter’s evening in the heart of Sydney. Drool Worthy World did just that, visiting the Gazebo wine garden to sample some of its offerings for its upcoming Italian-inspired ‘Salumi and Cheese Dego’ nights. Nestled on the fringes of Kings Cross, this eatery features a variety of events over the week to compete with the ample offerings in the inner city. While the Cross has progressively quietened over the last couple of years, the Gazebo is still an ideal location to escape and enjoy some good food and wine. With a mixture of casual dining on the outside (one of the few in this area) to a more formal setting inside, this establishment has something to please all. We braved the outdoor seating on this cooler Saturday night, with sufficient and effective heating for those in need, as well as blanket throws on request.

While the Salumi and Cheese-themed evenings commencing on August 24, through to the end of September, will offer a degustation (‘Dego’) of 5 courses, with optional accompanying wines, we were offered a preview of three of these dishes to sample. Having grown up in an Italian household, with ancestry originating from the Sardinian countryside where salumi and cheese is a staple, this menu was already in my comfort zone. The Gazebo have set up these evenings to showcase what they already substantially offer on their standard menu, with a large variety of local and international cheeses and salumi, presented in different combinations to suit.

“Salumi and Cheese-themed evenings will commence on August 24, through to the end of September and will offer a degustation (‘Dego’) of 5 courses, with optional accompanying wines”

While not included as part of the degustation, we started with an entrée from the standard menu, a sampler of mixed antipasti, combining a selection of salumi in the form of mortadella, truffle salami and mild cacciatore, accentuated with some small radishes, pickled chillies and a light goats curd seasoned with a little oil and pepper. This curd married well with the fig paste, especially when spread over the crusty wood-fired bread, lightly salted and seasoned with extra virgin olive oil. The mild cacciotore salami would have better been replaced with one offering a little more bite (chilli), but the mortadella was a welcome addition. Thin slices of this heat-cured pork, sourced from Byron Bay, had an interesting texture and colour, more aromatic than the homogenous Bologna-derivative on offer across Sydney delicatessens. The truffle salami was tasty but you can readily tire of this distinct flavour if too pronounced, especially at the cost of losing the taste of the cured meat. A touch of seasoning on the radish would have made it pop, like the heat of the chillies, but the texture and freshness was a welcome addition.

Photo Credit: Trish Nicol Agency

Our first of the Dego menu soon followed; a delicate paper thin sheet of Wagyu bresaola (air-dried salted beef) draping a blue cream foam. The foam and Wagyu simply dissolved effortlessly on the tongue delivering a short pulse of flavour from the nicely marbled meat. How much flavour the foam added is hard to recall as it lasted mere seconds. Fortunately the second cold dish, a small lightly seasoned burrata atop a disc of Nduja salami, was more substantial in mass. For those liking their salumi fresh and soft, this spreadable pork Nduja, marinated with roasted peppers and spices hit the mark, offering that little heat we yearned for. The accompanying naturally bland burrata (a soft, creamy centered, fresh mozzarella ball) needed to be eaten with the salumi, and again more toasted bread brought it all together to give it a welcome crunch.

“We started our degustation with a delicate paper thin sheet of Wagyu bresaola draping a blue cream foam. The foam and Wagyu simply dissolved effortlessly on the tongue delivering a short pulse of flavour from the nicely marbled meat.”

A bowl of homemade pappardelle pasta followed, dressed in a slowed cooked tomato-based sauce containing small pieces of cured meats, such as guanciale (pork cheek salami) and small cubes of pancetta (cured pork belly), topped with a truffle-flavoured pecorino cheese. The pasta was velvety and al-dente, as it should be, mopping up all the flavours. Accentuated by the fresh basil leaves, the pasta was a great rustic main dish, one that definitely warmed the belly on this cold night. If there was a hint of truffle in the pecorino, it was not apparent, far from the punch we got from our earlier salami.

The Dego will be offering another two dishes as part of this menu, a chicken ballotine wrapped in prosciutto and a gorgonzola cheese soufflé and goat milk ice-cream for dessert. If the 3 dishes we sampled were anything to go by, I am sure these other two will complete what is shaping to be a 5-course flavoursome degustation. Upon reflection, starting the Dego with a salumi platter, as we had, and ending it with a cheese platter would make more of a statement on this fine produce. After all, it is about sampling a little of everything so that, on your return, you know exactly what you want to eat.

As the Dego sampler got the gastric juices flowing, we decided to try one of the main meals on the regular menu to finish. With a small selection of pastas, fish, and meat dishes, not to mention the standard pizza selection, we opted for a traditional veal cotoletta (fried breaded veal chop); Italian-style schnitzel! This was accompanied by a lemon wedge and slaw. This quarter-inch chop, cooked on the bone, was pink to the colour and surprisingly retained much of its tender juiciness, although it lacked a little seasoning under that crumb. A touch more salt would have made this cut perfect. While the slaw was a refreshing side, the mayonnaise overwhelmed the cabbage that would have been better simply pickled with a lighter dressing.


Overall

Spoil yourself with an evening celebrating beautifully cured meats and fine cheese at Gazebo. The Salumi and Cheese-themed 5-course degustation will start on August 24, running through to the end of September. The bresaola and Nduja will no doubt be new experiences to many, and there is no question that this $65 p.p.-themed event will be just as popular as last month’s truffle showcase. Flying under the Keystone banner, the level of service was first class with the sommelier also very knowledgeable and accommodating. All floor staff were very personable and professional, and while the tables progressively filled throughout the night, it was clear that this venue remains a popular choice for those wanting to have a relaxing night out with partners or friends.

Rating: Yummy in my Tummy
Service: 4.5/5
Frankie V and co. dined as guests.

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