Published in the City Hub and City News.
As the weather cools off completely, Sydney comes alive with festivals guaranteed to tempt you out of hibernation with a range of arty eats…
With Ferran Adrià's El Bulli slated to close for good this year, interest in the famous kitchen is at an all time high. If you’re keen for a fly-on-the-wall peek behind the scenes, Sydney Film Festival has just the documentary for you: El Bulli - Cooking in Progress.
Super precise German high definition will allow you a very well focused look at the man himself. Cringe at the palpable tension lining the face of the always-deferential Oriol, Adrià's right hand man. Giggle at the trembling army of stagiaires who work in his kitchen for free. Get a gander at dishes you’ll probably never have the opportunity to eat; and take bets on which new techniques will be picked up by Sydney’s hippest bistros by summer. I’ve got my money riding on a crunchy ice vinaigrette or two.
If the El Bulli documentary leaves you with more questions than answers (it does forgo the usual voice-over narration), pick up a copy of Lisa Abend’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentices [RRP $29.99]. In the interesting and engaging book, Abend uncovers the reasons these stagiaires leave some of the world’s best kitchens to work for no pay doing incredibly repetitive tasks. If you get a chance to read the book before the Sydney Film Festival, you’re guaranteed to smile every time you hear quemo echo through the busy kitchen.
Sydney Film Festival are also premiering Jiro Dreams of Sushi, another foodie flick which takes you into the world of octogenarian sushi master Jiro Ono. His restaurant, if you can call his ten-stool basement eatery such, is possibly the smallest three-star Michelin restaurant in the world. Pathos in the film is provided by the plight of his fifty-ish year old son Yoshikazu, who is still an apprentice!
Since both of these films would be hard work on an empty tummy, the kind folk at Sydney Film Festival have also lined up a series of Dining Delights. A range of rather excellent restaurant partners are offering up everything from dainty dumplings at the handily located Chef’s Gallery, to companion sushi at Sake in The Rocks. Every restaurant will be providing a thirty-dollar special to make your food’n’film night out a real bargain!
While we’re talking art and culture, Sydney (in case you hadn’t noticed) is also in the midst of the Vivid Festival. If you hurry, you can take in the illuminated sails of the Sydney Opera House from a new angle, whilst enjoying a meal at Fort Denison. Dinner, including dishes like Muscovy duck in forest mushroom broth with homemade gnocchi, plus wines and water taxi trips will set you back just $85/head.
Jean-Michel Raynaud has also given us all three great reasons to leave the warmth and comfort of our homes, in the form of three new seasonal macarons. So tempting were the flavours I rushed into Baroque Bistro to try them myself. Jean-Michel explained the decadent Black Truffle Macaron uses $600 worth of truffles in each batch of 300, adding somewhat ruefully: “It’s an acquired taste, but one I have not acquired yet.”
In my mouth, the rolling earthy flavour was so good; I wanted to weep. If you’re not a fan, head for the creamy, wet pear centre and lingering chestnut notes of the Pear and Chestnut Macaron; or the intensely fragrant Chai Macaron made using T2 Chai.
A big birthday shout-out goes out to Amnesty, who turned 50 last weekend. They celebrated with a Taste of Freedom event which saw foodie ambassadors like Adriano Zumbo and Christine Manfield encourage Australians to hold candlelit dinner parties across Australia. If you’re kicking yourself for missing the chance to raise a glass to freedom, you can always go and sign up as a member. Surely we can find half a million Aussies that care about justice? I do…
While we’re talking birthdays, Australia’s oldest botanic garden is about to turn 195! The Royal Botanic Garden will be throwing an unforgettable birthday party on Monday 13th June – the Queen’s birthday. The day will be packed with kid-focused entertainment, which includes eating over a thousand mini cupcakes with a floral theme! They’ll be the work of Cake Art, who will also be responsible for a huge cake decorated with real flowers.
Finally, tonight I popped my nose in at Tokonoma and was mighty impressed with their array of whiskey cocktails. One I didn’t get to try was Tim Philips’ Royal Autumn Flip, which won the Gentleman’s Cocktail Sydney round of the World Class competition. If you’re keen to drink a world class cocktail yourself, head to the finals at Rockpool on the 7th June. There you’ll experience five-course with cocktails from ten of the country’s best bartenders. Your votes will even help determine the winner. Book in fast on (02) 9252 1888 because at $185/head, it’s sure to sell out.