It happened just across the road from the police station in Woollahra, and still, I did nothing...I choke up when I think about. It's been a few days but the memories still haunt me. They follow me in my sleep and into my fretful-fist-clenched nights like a stranger's shadow through a dark, cold alley in my heart. I am a victim, it would seem. I didn't scream, I couldn't shout. There were people around who saw it all unfold, heck, it happened to them as well. But no one could say anything. No one did anything to stop them. I can't believe it, even now! Everyone just let it all happen. We were robbed. We were beaten. We were absolutely aggravatedly assaulted. Alas, it's true. Maybe you'd expect this sort of thing late at night or out in the Cross, but we were in Woollahra for God sake - and the most dangerous thing to happen around here is when Herringbone runs out of stock on its Waren Weave Trouser in beige. Look. I don't want to give them a bad name or anything, but Buzo Trattoria was the scene of all these heartless crimes - and I guess it's time you knew.
Knew of crimes of Hatred. Hatred against bad taste and dull food, hatred against restaurants who are all talk and no walk, hatred against diets and hips and thighs. Hatred against it all. We were robbed like shmucks! Robbed of our hunger and beaten like a parsley and parmigiana frittata, and then smoked like the house smoked eel. We were assaulted by a menu more crowded with glorious flavour than neurotic thoughts inside of a Costanza head. Our boredom and dining dullness was embezzled. Our appetites were murdered, our desire was stalked, and our peace was most definitely disturbed. After a little chat with uber-chef and co-owner Todd at the scene of the crime, I even think they might be guilty of insider trading, as well.
The look on Dad's face says it all...Why, Hello belly-pleasure! Great food is the simplest thing to be happy about, and this night at Buzo tickled us a porkly proscuitto pink. 17 plate-crimes later and I could have sworn I saw bacchus winking at us from the heavens...If on the odd chance you have some chilled champagne handy, pop the cork on it and sink into its golden bubbles while you gather round to hear these foodie tales...
Exhibit A was a proscuitto crudo w fresh ricotta + parmigiano. With sharp and perfectly fleshed pale pink proscuitto peaks this looked like an edible cross between a lady's hatted head on Cup day and the Opera House died pink. Wonderfully parmesan-snow topped proscuitto was a cool meaty salt slap to the warm, gentle and creamy flaked ricotta beneath. We were all-a-sigh when the next dish walked into our bellies, and into our lives: the savoy cabbage w pine nut, raisin, pecorino + pangrattato! Jesus. Jennifer describes this as one of Buzo's most revered sides. It is a ragingly tart heap of moist cabbage sweetened by a swarm of raisins and rounded out by the pine nuts and pecorino, the breadcrumbs (which really do sound more impressive if you call them by their Italian name, pangrattato) add a rough, warm-oiled depth to all of this verdant salad-spiked coolness. The flavour is divine, strong and sure and rustic, it tastes like something someone's long dead grandmother came up with and passed down through generations - and I mean that in a good way!
Onto the tomino in cartoccio - the baked cheese in parchment w garlic, thyme + toast. Jesus Christ. This is your grilled cheese on tip top reinvented a little, and tasting entirely more divine. Peeling back pastry-like layers of browned parchment to reveal a beautiful baby of molten thyme-spiked and roasted garlic dappled cow's cheese, and then taking a silver blade into it and watching it drizzle and drip as it dizzying oscillates from toast to plate to toast to plate is a pendulum so mesmerizing I am swaying in front of the screen.
This is a fair and subtle cheese that gives itself up wonderfully to the thyme and garlic, and fully infuses itself from their flavour. The generous slices of sourdough on the side come heavily toasted with a sublime scent of semi-charredness and are sprinkled with oil to give the whole cheesey-garlic-thymed-breaded-smooth-on-crunch shabang the most toe wriggling taste you can possibly imagine in your wildest, hungriest moments.
The cheese just keeps coming with a sweet offering of grilled figs, stracchino, mint + vin cotto: edenic orbs of slippery-fresh fig bleeding sweetness onto the plate and suffocating under melted stracchino in a dark-golden and rich vin cotto - peppered with a very subtly sobering smidgen of mint is the kind of mouth-kaboom life needs more of.
The house smoked eel, parsley + parmigiano frittata was as salty-heavy-eggy and full as the garfish carpaccio was light. Between dizzying forkfuls of all of this we still fit in a snail or two...
The pan fried veal sweetbreads w snail, swiss brown mushroom + vin santo is the kind of meal that would have made me wrinkle my 15 year old nose. I am clearly getting longer in the tooth, but a long tooth isn't such a bad thing when you are wrapping it around this garlic drenched delight of veal pancreas and thymus and snails. Dad and I loved this as much as the cabbage, but we are Lebanese and the presence of garlic in this dish tipped the balance very strongly towards our Middle-Eastern favour.
What? You think we're done? Pfft. You guys are welterweights, those were just the starters. The main event of the main events was for me the naughty, little porcini mushroom, proscuitto, truffle + parmigiano lasagne, the vincisgrassi - vincisgrazie more like it, because thankful I am for rustic layers of proscuitto-mushroom heaving pasta, baked in parmesan and trifled with truffle. My God. If this little italiano dish were a person I would do whatever it told me, it's like having Benito Mussolini on a plate.
I got a little bit jealous over my boyfriend's reaction to Buzo's pappardelle w braised lamb, chorizo, tomato + parmigiano. Tomato spun kisses with slow-gently cooked threads of lamb and chorizo. Lovely, and light and rich all at once.
Dad died over the pan roast spatchcock sugo del vinattiere (w grapes white wine parsley + garlic). Again with the Lebs liking the garlic, how predictable are we? This was wonderful, supple flesh inside and lolling in roasted juices and garlic. We didn't flip the bird, it flipped us. Add incendiary sides of fried potato, green beans + salad - all of which you really must try, and dinner was beginning to last as gloriously long as the Roman Empire.
Yeah. We had dessert. I know. We shouldn't have. There was no room , it was like Noah's Arc in our stomachs at this point, but still we strived, and we did, I am proud to say, prevail. This lemon-licked gelatoish cup was a pure and milky palate cleanser and we braced ourselves for what a kitchen that had already come forth with so much could possibly do next to our startled stomachs.
The fading light says we have been at this table for hours upon hours, but you can still make out the lines of this smart-quirky-sweet date, pistachio + candied lemon tart w double cream. Not as sweet as most dates desserts are, this is tamed by the lemon and the cream.
The warm baked chocolate w almonds + vanilla gelato - despite its failure to include any garlic, pleased all of us. A warm cocoa-heavy heart with almond flake crunch smooshes wonderfully against rich vanilla ice. I usually don't fancy heated chocolate desserts (apart from a hot chocolate), what you usually taste when chocolate is heated is an insipid floury-ness that dulls the chocolate rich-drown-punch - this was the molten exception. But my favourite...
The torta di verona - mascarpone, pandoro, blueberry + almond trifle. In fair Verona where we lay our scene...where civil blueberry stained cream makes civil hands unclean! So gorgeous. Invisible sweet Italian bread lacing into a barely there beautiful mascarpone and crowned with icing-sugared scorched almond flakes. Cool and sweet and white like snow. Such an innocent dessert that killed us all.
Oh My God. Buzo, where have you been all my life? Buzo happens at 3 Jersey Road, Woollahra (opposite the Cop Shop), phone 9328 1600, web here. Open for dinner from Tuesday - Sunday. The red wine and champagne we had were amazing, and the cosy upstairs and downstairs makes this the perfect place to come together around a table in Autumn and Winter.
Buzo is simply stunning. Not many restaurants can go for so long (ten years) without dropping the culinary ball or getting a bit stale, but here you have it. A wonderful place owned by three friends who clearly know what they're doing. If you're keen on trying every new thing and sometimes get a bit disappointed by fickle Sydney fooding, this is a place to turn to for solid classics and a kitchen that does its own thing - and superbly. Jennifer who has been with Buzo for 7 years gets a massive thanks for taking care of us and helping us choose everything. It can hardly be called a choice when you've ended up trying 2/3 of the menu. Thanks to Todd for withstanding a table-side drilling and for all of the skill and dedication that is so obvious on the menu and the plate - thanks also to James co-chef and co-owner who we didn't get to meet, and also much thanks to co-owner Traci. Friends and business!? How do you get them to mix?
Buzo, baby. Even if they put me in the witness protection program, I hope that vincisgrassi can one day find me again, one sweet truffled and parmigiano day.