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This Week's Food News: Taste of Australia

Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

When a cookbook from one of Australia’s favourite food personalities, Lyndey Milan, landed on my doorstep, I was excited. Lyndey has rolled up her sleeves, donned her gumboots and set out to explore Australia. She has reported back her findings in a beautifully photographed tome, Taste of Australia [RRP $39.95], which hits the shelves this month. Expect to find a collection of easy to reproduce (and mostly single page) recipes bound together with producer stories from some of Australia’s finest. Lyndey tells me she is “proud it showcases Australian producers and fantastic cuisine.” While she says all the recipes are fabulous, she’s partial to the easy pulled pork with apple and Brussels sprouts ‘slaw, which speeds up the usual long pork shoulder cook by using pork scotch steaks. Lyndey’s red grapefruit update of the traditional lemon delicious pudding is going to make an appearance on my table, as will the baked (rather than fried) prosciutto-wrapped Scotch eggs. Even her twice-baked cheese and truffle soufflé manages not to look too ambitious, so I might give it a whirl.


Review - North Bondi Fish

Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

This week Alex Harmon enjoyed some cocktails by the beach...

Last year North Bondi Italian closed its doors and no one could imagine this neck of Bondi Beach ever being the same. That was until North Bondi Fish moved in, now it’s a case of Maurice who? Aria’s Matt Moran and Peter Sullivan have brought the good old-fashioned seaside feel back to the restaurant, with a fresh and modern menu.

Start with a Beachside Fizz ($16), a very fancy vodka soda with almond syrup; or if you want to feel like a tourist, indulge in the North Bondi Colada ($16), a fun and filling cocktail.

Stick to the theme and order the Fish and Chips ($29), which would make the Motherland envious - and without swimming in grease either.

Share the special of Mussels ($25), which also gets you a Stone & Wood beer. Beyond the drink, it’s big enough to share with the whole table.

The Grilled Prawns ($35) are whoppers but need their own side to balance the salty sea creatures.

Somehow the Crab Linguine ($30) gets it spot on, the lime and chilli offsetting the sweet crab flavour.

And just because you’re at the beach, it doesn’t mean you have to order ice cream, go for the Cheese Platter ($25) and sink a few more cocktails while you watch the sun go down.

North Bondi Fish
120 Ramsgate Avenue, Bondi Beach
Ph: (02) 9130 2155

North Bondi Fish on Urbanspoon


Review - Devon By Night

Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

Living up to the hype that the daytime café business generated was always going to be hard…

Chef Zachary Tan has kept dinner distinctly casual, dishing up Malaysian-influenced hawker snacks dressed up with the same premium ingredients that make Chef Jacqui Ektoros’ morning menus so special.

So you can expect to find heady Manjimup truffle slices adorning the Chinese Egg Custard ($29), and fleshy lobster tails slathered with Kewpie mayonnaise and stuffed inside buttery brioche in your individual Lobster Roll ($15.50).

Before you get too carried away, tuck into compelling Spiced Fried Chickpeas ($3) and ponder the concise but cleverly chosen list of alcoholic beverages.

The 2012 Mitchelton Marsanne ($17/glass) will suit your roll, but if you’re after a good all-rounder, the Echigo Koshihikari Rice Lager ($12) is a personal favourite.

Raw dishes, like ‘Prawn and Scallop Wontons’ ($18) are inviting, playing on the classic som tum with scallop adding a wonderful, textural creaminess; while...

...others, like an oily Pig Ear Katsu ($19), are not quite as successful.

Unwrapping charred banana leaves to reveal tender Skate Wing ($23) reminds me that I came to this dark, grungy garage to eat modern Asian street food.

With that in mind, the poor man’s ‘snow egg’ of Coconut Jelly, Guava Sorbet and Freeze Dried Pineapple ($11) should make you grin.

PS. You can see my review of Devon by day HERE.

Devon By Night
76 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 9211 8777

Devon Cafe on Urbanspoon


Review - The Union Hotel

Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

While the padded white booths in the upstairs showpiece Uncorked are now only reserved for functions, there’s still reason to visit The Union Hotel to eat.

Le Bistro
reads like a hybrid of a traditional pub menu with elements of the Gallagher Hotels’ runaway success – Le Pub. The menu recognises that steaks and schnitzels are pub staples, while still adding a bit of flair for those who want something more interesting.

There’s also a definite focus on group dining, including a strong hors d’oeuvres selection. The “dogs” I loved at Le Pub Balmain have migrated over, sadly without the same crusty buns. The Pulled Pork Dog ($6) edges out the Marinated Chicken Dog ($6) on flavour, but still doesn’t come close to the lamb.

Duck and ‘Slaw Open Steamed Buns ($14/2) have the kind of alcohol-absorbing qualities I like when I’m settling in to drink; while...

...the flavoursome Pea and Parmesan Croquettes ($15.50) with truffled pecorino, pea puree and mint, aren’t just put on there for vegetarians.

Accompany either with the Jean Luc Mader Pinot Blanc ($56/bottle) before advancing to the Fickle Mistress Central Otago Pinot Noir ($15/glass) with your Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder ($25).

Labne breaks up the intensely flavoured chickpea and pimento ragu.

You need a bowl of the Union Waffle Chips ($10) too...

*This was my PUB OF THE WEEK segment on 2GB 873 Fresh! with Luke Grant & Luke Mangan
on Sunday 24th August, 2014:

The Union Hotel
271 Pacific Highway, North Sydney
Ph: (02) 9955 5844

Le Bistro at the Union Hotel on Urbanspoon


Review - Mordeo Bistro & Bar

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Nestled beneath five giant table lamps in the ultra-modern Deutsche Bank Place foyer, I find myself smiling.

It could be bartender Sarah Jane Clare’s Jamon & Char-grilled Pineapple Sazerac ($18) warming my heart with smooth butter-washed cognac, or maybe I just like this spot?

You can treat it like a bar by starting with a Red Wolf ($15) – the cocktail you have when you can’t decide between a beer and an aperitif...

...before getting stuck into finger food like Caramelised Lamb Ribs ($12) made sticky and delicious by golden syrup.

Or there are cute Bocadillos ($7/each) – they’re sliders from a Spanish mother – with grilled chorizo, piquillo peppers and lashings of saffron aioli.

You could also treat this spot like a restaurant, and allow charming host Pascal Lebreux to “take you on a journey”. He might suggest a pretty plate of local Octopus Carpaccio ($22) against a cracking white Grenache – the 2012 La Miranda de Secastilla Garnacha Blanca ($59/bottle).

He may also want to demonstrate that “your youth wasn’t that bad” by getting some Caramelised Brussels Sprouts ($8) onto your table. Let him, they rival Porteño’s popular vincotto version.

Silky Sautéed Squid Ink Gnocchi ($23) and the 2012 Terra Sancta Estate Pinot Noir ($80/bottle) should see you through until the gurgling fountains become silent pools of reflection.

Mordeo Bistro & Bar
Shop 1, 126 Philip Street, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9232 1306

Mordeo Bistro and Bar on Urbanspoon

This Week's Food News: Saffron

Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

Warm milk with saffron and honey has been popping up in my house after meeting with Parya Zaghand from Saffron Only. She’s quite the ambassador for Iranian saffron, telling me the country produces 300 tonnes a year. “Don’t be scared by saffron, just a little pinch will go a long way,” she said. And before you baulk at the cost of my warm milky addiction, you only use six or seven strands to turn a cup of milk a beautiful yellow, meaning a two-gram container ($20.95) will produce about forty cups. Now if you want it in a fancy container to wow your dinner party guests, it’s a little more expensive. After you’ve gotten a taste for “liquid sunshine”- as saffron is known due to its antidepressant qualities - try teaming it with fish, seafood, chicken, or rice in risotto Milanese or Spanish paella. You could also use saffron to jazz up desserts from rice pudding to panna cotta, as it harmonises well with cinnamon, almonds, pistachios, cardamom, ginger, mango and passionfruit. And let’s not forget it’s soluble in alcohol, meaning vodka and gin martinis could benefit from saffron too! If you find these ideas intriguing, you’ll find Parya at the Grounds of Alexandria on Sunday 7th September (8am-3pm), or you can buy saffron and check out recipe ideas at the website:


Review - PappaRich

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It’s been a big month for this fast-growing Malaysian eatery chain, what with picking up Poh Ling Yeow as ambassador, and launching another store in Northbridge, Perth.

Here they’re creating queues by drawing the masses out of Broadway Shopping Centre for a quick, inexpensive feed.

After populating your own order pad, tuck into stainless steel thali plates bearing everything from Mixed Satay ($13.90/6 sticks) to ultra-fragrant Biryani Rice (3 Dishes) ($15.90).

Despite coming adorned with sambal eggplant, prawns and slightly dry fried chicken, the yellow rice is the hero. The big hit of cloves, cardamom and spice comes from a new batch being made every 3-4 hours in this high-turnover space.

Flaky golden Roti Canai with Beef Rendang ($13.90) might not unseat Sydney roti king Mamak, but it comes within cooee. It’s accompanied by a wicked, hot and garlicky sambal, credible beef rendang and black mustard seed-dotted dhal.

Wok-fried flat noodles, Char Koay Teow ($13.50), are popular here for good reason.

Finally, with a generous dollop of green tea ice cream, Matcha Rocks ($7.50) doubles as both drink and dessert.

It’s just one option from their extensive, illustrated list, though if you wade through the salty mountain of Deep Fried Chicken Skin ($6.90) you might need the more refreshing Tropical Lime ($7.50) to actually quench your thirst.

Shop 5, 185 Broadway, Ultimo
Ph: (02) 9281 3228

PappaRich Broadway on Urbanspoon


Review - Bar H Dining

Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

Pickled heirloom carrots - in Pickles, Chicken Skin, Wasabi ($12) - are a delightful way to cleanse the palate and commence your Bar H Dining adventure, especially when they’re topped with deep-fried chicken skin.

You’ll be following the meandering food journey of Chef Hamish Ingham and his wife/sommelier Rebecca Lines, which has recently seen the menu morph into ‘Chuka’ cuisine. Chuka celebrates the Japanese style 'Chinese' dishes popular in Japan.

Chewy white mochi (rice cakes) give a nicely textural twist to Eggplant, Turnip, Dashi ($14), while...

...fermented garlic and bacon give Pambula Oysters ($10) an updated ‘Asian Kilpatrick’ edge. The slightly cloudy Uehara Shuzo ‘Soma no Tengu’ ($15/glass) will suit your bivalves, though if you’re a sake beginner, they don’t come much prettier than Houraisen Bi Junmai Daiginjo ($14/glass).

Inside this dark and moody drinking den, beautifully balanced bar snacks like Cucumber, Black Fungi and Pigs Ear ($13) shine, even if the light levels mute their visual impact. Don’t baulk at the pigs ears either, they’re tasty, deep-fried slivers adorning frilly white fungus, cucumber and toothsome wood ear fungus.

Consume them with Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale ($14), or the 2012 Yeringberg Viognier ($12/glass), plus a flavoursome side of Broccoli, Black Sesame and Tamari ($9).

Explosive Sichuan Chocolate Caramels ($8) provide the perfect exit strategy.

Bar H Dining
80 Campbell Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 9280 1980

Bar H Dining on Urbanspoon


Event: Sweet Street

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Melbourne-based Cacao Lab made a 'Choc Dog' as one of their offerings for Sweet Street, a funky dessert pop-up event that took the Shangri-La Sydney's Grand Ballroom by storm earlier this evening.

Hundreds of lucky ticket-holders were treated to a night-club style space, with pallets and industrial equipment, hawker style food stalls, cool lighting and a DJ, a vision dreamed up by the hotel's pastry star, Anna Polyviou.

Each guest was given a card with ten tokens, allowing them to select from an array of sweet (and one savoury) delights from Adriano Zumbo, Bernard Chu from Melbourne’s LuxBite, Min Chuan Cha from N2, Tim Clark from Cacao Lab and Kirsten Tibballs from Savour School, as well as Anna Polyviou herself.

My highlights included Anna's chocolate-coated salted caramel paddle pop, a Caprioska eclair you injected cachaca into, and a tonka bean infused rum & banana liqueur spider from the Blu Bar on 36 cocktail bar.

Shangri-La Sydney
176 Cumberland Street, The Rocks
Ph: (02) 9250 6144

Shangri-La Lobby Lounge on Urbanspoon

Review - Aria Restaurant

Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

Arriving in a bound folder, the extensive pre-theatre menu here (available 5.30pm-7pm) gives you no sense that you’re ‘slumming it’ by dining from a more limited menu selection.

In fact, it’s a rather nice way to get reacquainted with this Sydney dining icon. Menus are seasonal and produce-driven, down to naming suppliers (including Joto, my preferred seafood supplier) on the menu.

Choosing Three Courses ($89/head) from six or so options can be difficult – like deciding between the familiarity of roast chicken with Gruyere mashed potato dressed up with shavings of Australian black truffle, versus the exotic lure of smoked white sweet potato with fromage blanc and Oscietra caviar.

Both dishes are well complimented by the textural 2012 Domaine des Enfants Grenache Blanc/Grenache Gris ($23/glass) from their excellent by-the-glass list.

With only a few words to triangulate our tastes, the sommelier teamed toothfish, smoked eggplant and Fremantle octopus with a great 2012 Farr Rising Pinot Noir ($22/glass)...

...and Rangers Valley flank steak - flavour amped by house-made XO sauce – with the pretty, strawberry 2012 Bourgogne Terroir de Tournus Pascal Pauget ($24/glass).

Don’t be afraid to ask for their expertise, even if you’re drinking by the glass.

And, like the view...

...Pastry Chef Andrew Honeysett’s black sesame parfait with passionfruit jelly, yuzu and almonds, is both spectacular and memorable.

Aria Restaurant
1 Macquarie Street, East Circular Quay
Ph: (02) 9240 2255

Aria on Urbanspoon