The Westin was the last on my list of Sugar Hits for 2012. I’ve been to previous hits at the Westin on previous years, and I admit I was disappointed. But after reading the description for this year, I was all too intrigued. Kindly excuse the quality of the images, I was armed only with my iPhone in dim light. ;)
H and I went on a quiet Saturday night. Believe it or not we took a trip to the fish markets and had a late lunch, so were in no mood for dinner. We wouldn’t be skipping out on dessert too. I called ahead to make a booking, as when I tried to the previous week, they were completely booked out. Anyway. We got there and it was quiet. There were a few tables scattered around the place, but it was not bustling.
We were seated quickly, and our wines were served soon after.
Dessert came out after a few minutes, two plates, neatly arranged, complete with dry ice fanfare. Our waiter informed us that it is decorative only and that we shouldn’t eat and/or touch it. Which was fine by me. There were so many elements on the plate!
Dessert was created by Mark Tok, a decadent chocolate gateaux infused with an exploding sensation (read popping candy), sweet raspberry coulis, rich vanilla bean ice cream atop a shortbread cookie.
I have to say everything was presented impeccably. The chocolate and raspberry gateaux was more like a light mousse. The isomalt design is unique and quirky, but doesn’t add much to the taste for me (as does the dry ice). The vanilla bean was definitely another stand out, with a rich vanilla taste bursting out of every mouthful. My only criticism is that the individual elements didn’t work together as well as I’d like. They were each definitely something to be enjoyed on their lonesome.
Overall though I’d say that this is the best Sugar Hit by far of 2012. I think that’s a wrap!
The second sugar hit of the month was discovered by chance. I was out to dinner with some friends, we decided to locate a hotel close to us that could accommodate us for some dessert. We started dinner at 9pm, so it was close to 10:30pm when we finished eating. We discovered most of the places stopped serving at 10pm.
We wandered over to the Macquarie Lounge at theMarriott thinking it would be a place open late, not really knowing what was on offer. Although we didn’t have a booking, the waiter was kind enough to find a table to accommodate all four of us.
Dessert came out as a surprise to all of us. It was a lemon and blueberry curd enrobed in white chocolate. It was an amazingly presented cylinder of white chocolate that was filled to the bring with layers of sponge, blueberry and tart lemon curd.
I admit that I’m not really a lemon dessert type of girl, and that I found this quite tart and sour to begin with, but the balance of sweetness came from the blueberries, which seemed lightly stewed.
This was the last Sugar Hit for me as October aka Good Food Month comes to an end. I’d been meaning to head over to the Ocean Room for dinner but have never gotten the opportunity. So when I found out they were offering a Gorgonzola Panna Cotta for Sugar Hit, it piqued my interest and I knew this was my opportunity! H was lovely enough to organise a booking for 7:30 pm, so we had some time to kill after work. We decided to head over to Opera Bar for some pre-dinner drinks to enjoy the awesome weather that Sydney has been blessed with this month!
I’ve walked past the Ocean Room on a number of occasions and have always been curious of the interior decor. They have this amazing installation of what look like wooden poles suspended from the ceiling. It made me feel like I was under this giant wave. I wish I took photos, but I didn’t want to look like I was taking photos of the customers :S!
We started off with some tuna cornets, which consisted of marinated blue fin tuna tar tare sitting in a crunchy nori rice cracker cornet. I’ve only ever seen cornets on Masterchef, and they look difficult to make! The tuna was fresh and went lovely with the crunchy salty flavour of the cornets. They were quite tasty and left me wanting more.
Next on the entrée list were the tempura house-made calamari pops with green curry salt and crispy mint leaves. Having a herb garden means fresh herbs for cooking 24/7. No matter how last minute you decide on what to make for dinner. I have a newfound appreciation for herbs and adore how they drastically change the flavour of a meal. The calamari pops were nice, but reminded me of something I’d tasted before. I do wish they had been a bit more crunchier on the outside!
The crispy king prawn with wasabi aioli and petite wasabi croquette sounded like something I definitely had to try. I was expecting a big hit of wasabi, but it was quite subtle and creamy and complemented the fresh seafood perfectly.
For mains, we decided to share the pork belly “cout de sel” served with spicy kochujang sauce, pickled nashi pear and citrus. It arrived to our table still encased in its salt crust. Again I’d only ever seen this on Masterchef, but it supposedly keeps the juices in whilst cooking it thoroughly. It served its purpose, because it was so succulent and bursting with flavour. We had a couple of sushi rolls, but I didn’t get a chance to take some photos. We were too excited at the prospect of dragon rolls that I completely forgot!
We did however get some spiced french fries with shichimi pepper mayonnaise on the side. I would recommend these a hundred times over. They had some special seasoning that made them so addictive. I could eat these without the mayo, but of course, they are amplified times ten jillion when coupled with the mayo (like that was possible?).
Finally it was time for dessert! I hadn’t even finished my rosé when out came dessert wine. I am such a sucker for the sweet stuff. I could live off dessert wine, but it probably wouldn’t be advisable.
Dessert came in the form of a gorgonzola scented panna cotta, caramelised banana, jumai jelly and drizzled in shoyu caramel. I’ll be honest, I really didn’t know what to expect from the panna cotta combination. It was creamy and well balanced. The pomegranate seeds were a cute addition. I’d never tasted them before. Plus you can never lose with caramel.
So on that sweet note, I say goodbye to Good Food Month! Until next year.
OCEAN ROOM SYDNEY
Overseas Passenger Terminal
Circular Quay West
The Rocks Sydney NSW 2000
Today was just an absolutely gorgeous day for the Sydney International Food Festival’s Food and Wine Fair. It was most certainly an interesting day as I’m sure L will attest to. They predicted potential thunderstorms, but they never developed. It started to briefly sprinkle, but nothing that threatened the day. I admit I am a bit of a veteran of these fairs, and I gotta say, this year the stalls seemed to have halved, and the turn out wasn’t as large as previous years. Nevertheless, we were determined to enjoy the day.
There was still a good variety of restaurants on show, everything from Asian to Australian and everything far and beyond. We ordered the lamb chops and BBQ beef ribs from Outback Steakhouse. I’m a giant fan of their tender juicy steaks (not to mention their bloomin’ onions). It certainly didn’t disappoint. Giant chunks of succulent meat with potato salad is always a winner with Carnivore N.
La Mint has been a regular at F&W since I can remember, offering traditional Vietnamese cuisine, I find it difficult to pass up the melt-in-your-mouth pork belly. It comes as a generous serving on a bed of rice that soaks up all the sauce and its goodness. I opt for no chilli on my pork as I am not as adventurous as some.
The arancini is something I couldn’t pass up. The rice bran oil (which claims to be a much healthier alternative) was cooking up some arancini balls. With four on a skewer, you got a combination of wild mushroom and tomato. Both were as delectable as each other, and left me wanting more.
There were a few options for dessert. A couple of stalls offered dishes at one coupon. Too hard to resist! The first was this Arabic ice cream dish from Booza. It was beyond anything I expected. It was more like little sorbet scoops coated in a variety of different ways. One was sort of like a creme egg, and another in caramelised nuts and pistachios. Pashmak was an obvious must and went delicately well with it all and added a dimension of texture.
Another sugar hit I regretted was Catalina’s chocolate and date tart. I was pleased to find it on offer at the Food and Wine Fair today. It was rich and thick. That is all I have to say about that really.
We’re now in the second weekend of October, and Crave SIFF is into full swing. Night Noodle Markets are being set up in Hyde Park as we speak, transforming it into a bustling marketplace of delectable Asian goodies. I’m super excited. But for tonight, it was time for a Sugar Hit at The Cortile. Stopped at a nearby Japanese restaurant for dinner (which warrants its own special post for its deliciousness) before meandering down to the Intercontinental.
I’ve always loved the interiors of the Intercon’s lobby. It just transports you to another era, bringing with it an ethereal old world feel. Besides the masonry detail, they have an elegant spiral staircase wrapping around an antique lift. Not to mention the looming light fixtures that hover over head.
The dessert on offer this year is a home-made pistachio and bitter chocolate vacherin with blood orange custard with a jaffa macaron. It is accompanied with a refreshing glass of Brown Brothers Flora Muscat. I can never resist dessert wines. The plates come out in record time, suggesting the kitchen has prepared in advance. Despite this, the desserts are delectable and bursting with an array of flavours.
The vacherin has a gelatinous/custard texture, both at the same time. There are slight hints of orange and chocolate throughout, and pairing with the macaron only intensifies the palette. It is definitely a dish that appeals to all senses.
If you know me, you know that October is my favourite month in Sydney because of the Sydney International Food Festival 2011. With a bunch of foodie events, I don’t think it is even possible to go wrong with any of them.
On an extremely last minute whim, H and I went out to dinner in the city at an Italian place then decided to visit one of the easier-to-visit places for a Sugar Hit, the Holiday Inn. On offer was a Belgian Chocolate Souffle with hazelnut crunch and King Island cream. How could you say no? I went to the Holiday Inn for SIFF last year, and although it isn’t the classiest of the hotels on offer, it provides large comfy couches with a nice quiet atmosphere to have cosy get-togethers.
The soufflé itself was a lovely melt-in-your-mouth, milk chocolate sensation. The King Island cream was delectable and provided a neutralising flavour in contrast to the chocolate. The cream sits atop a hazelnut crumble which adds some a lovely texture to the overall experience. I must say I have grown an affinity to sweet wine, especially dessert wine. The soufflé came with a glass of what seemed like muscat, slightly sparkling, dark and mysterious. Please correct me if I’m wrong. I really am very amateurish about my wines. In any case, it was the ideal accompaniment to my dessert.