Published in the City Hub and City News.
Espresso in the Piazza
Sure, it’s hard to leave the house and brave the weather, but with a one-stop festival spanning coffee, chocolate, tea and spice, that’s a whole lot of incentives! Venture to The Rocks Aroma Festival on Sunday 25th July for a global adventure across four lands. Start in an Italian piazza in The Continent with espresso, cannoli and piano accordion; journey to The Oasis for belly dancing, camel rides, baklava and Turkish coffee. There are over a hundred stalls - best explored with a $2 coffee in your hand. Entry is free.
MasterChefs and Masterclasses
Tasty samples, new products and a MasterChef (or two) are enough to get me excited about the Good Food & Wine Show at the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre on July 16th-18th. If hundreds of stalls featuring food, wine, coffee and shiny kitchen gadgetry aren’t lure enough, why not take in a Masterclass? Accredited cheese judge and food educator Naomi Crisante’s Cheese Matters Masterclasses will introduce you to seven categories of cheese, matched with fine wines. The 45 minute session will set you back $30 on top of your show entry ($28.50). Naomi loves “a gooey King Island Dairy Loorana Brie or really ripe Tasmanian Heritage Red Square - sensational with dates or glace figs!” Her classes are great for newcomers: “People come in as 'cheese learners' and always leave as 'cheese lovers'!”
While any time is a good time to go to Bilson’s, July’s looking particularly special. The man himself, Tony Bilson, is hands-on in the kitchen for the whole month. He’s gone truffle mad, declaring with relish: “I want the restaurant to be perfumed with aroma of truffles for the month!” So expect to be eating dishes like Truffes Sous le Cendrem, where a decadent truffle is wrapped in ham and baked inside puff pastry. There’s even truffle ice-cream on the books! Now if that isn’t enough excitement, on Thursday 15th July, French chanteuse Caroline Nin will unite with Tony for an evening of “wickedly French” food, wine and cabaret. Expect seduction! Nin will be portraying characters from the red light districts of Paris, Berlin and New York using songs from Nina Simone, Jacques Brel and Marlene Dietrich. It’s one night only, so book quickly with Carla on (02) 8214 0496.
A hot toddy toddle about town is the perfect excuse for a winter pub-crawl. They’re popping up everywhere - I had a great one last week involving chai tea and peppermint schnapps at The Dolphin. I’ve also got my eye on the Hawk Hill High Tea that recently won the Dark Spirits Experience award in the World Class cocktail competition. Reese Griffiths, bartender at Darlinghurst’s Victoria Room, makes it by brewing Talisker Whisky, black peppercorns, Oregon pine woodchips and a spiced syrup then garnishes it with grilled lemon. It’s matched to a blue cheese and jamon sanger that enhances the whiskey’s peat and spice. Sadly you won’t find it on their extensive list, but if you ask very nicely…
While most restaurants offer midweek specials, Manta’s doing it on the weekend! Pop in for lunch and you’ll receive two courses for just under fifty dollars (three courses are $59) with a glass of ‘sommelier’s choice’ wine. Head Chef Daniel Hughes is sure to “capitalise on the best available fresh produce of the day,” but I'm a sucker for their steaming bouillabaisse.
Cold weather goes hand in hand with curry, so I was excited to see Rozelle’s Ruby L’otel turn Wednesdays into 2-for-1 Curry Night. The dishes are fresh, fragrant and cooked by an Indian chef!
Monkey Magic in Surry Hills has an excellent, new sushi chef. Give him a whirl between Monday and Wednesday nights to take advantage of a dining special that knocks 20% off the entire bill – food, cocktails, wine and sake. My own review is on the way - once I sober up.