Surprisingly they seem to have left out some of the more tragic dishes of the past and they have come up with quite an appetising and diverse range of food. One dish in particular stood out - it's the dish of 2002. A mouth-watering, slow-roasted pork belly smothered in a paste of fresh thyme, fennel and coriander seeds.
The skin is crisp and crackly as the pork receives an initial high temperature hit in the oven before it's turned way down to allow the fat to render out and transform the meat into something succulent and obscenely tender. Slow does indeed mean slow as this will take at least 2 hours to reach perfection.
Now, can I cut you a piece?
Slow-roasted Spiced Pork Belly
1-1.5 kgs pork belly, skin on and scored
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon oil
It doesn't really matter what you are cooking it's always important that you good ingredients. The pork I've chosen is Otway Pork - it's available at Hagen's Organic Meats at Prahran market.
One thing I learnt quite a while ago is that you should always buy female pigs - male pigs when cooked give off that unappealing smell, and I hate to say, of urine.
With the belly pork choose one with a good ratio of fat - this will disappear during the long cooking time and as they say fat = flavour. It helps to keep the meat moist and will be the difference between having a good result and a piece of leather.
Score the skin - get your butcher to do this if you don't want to.
Place the thyme, salt, fennel and coriander seeds into a mortar and grind it using the pestle (you can do this in a blender). Add the oil and continue until a paste forms.
Spread the paste onto the pork skin, making sure you get into all the score marks - use your hands to get the best result. Cover with plastic and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 240°C/470°F.
Place the pork, skin side up, on a roasting dish and cook for 30 minutes or until the skin is crisp.
Lower the temperature to 170°C/340°F. Pour half a cup of water into the roasting dish and cook for 2 hours or until the meat is tender. You should be able to easily pull the meat apart.
Serve in thick slices.