Chefs

Aria

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

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I was lucky enough to be taken to Aria for a Christmas lunch!

Mango - cheese cake with ginger crumble, lime jelly and roasted pineapple sorbet

Mango - cheese cake with ginger crumble, lime jelly and roasted pineapple sorbet

Sydney city looked spectacular on the bright sunny day we went out for lunch, with views of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Pity I didn’t take photos of them, too concerned about the food perhaps? (truly obsessed with food I am)

Coffee - warm coffee cake with espresso ice cream, coconut sorbet and passionfruit

Coffee - warm coffee cake with espresso ice cream, coconut sorbet and passionfruit

Everything was lovely at Aria, the room, the staff, Matt Moran – yes, we did see Matt Moran, and a good friend was nice enough to go and ask if he’d mind having a photo with me 🙂

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There was a very good range on the menu (as we had a group booking), with 5 choices per course. I couldn’t go past the pork belly for the entrée and when it came out, I was glad with my choice. All portions were very generous, the pork belly was gorgeous and rich with a beautiful crispy skin on top. There was a large amount of fat under the skin, which I’m sure most people would have enjoyed, although I don’t eat much fat at all, and had to remove some of this. The pork had a fantastic pork croquette and beautiful pear chutney accompanying it, along with a paradise pear which worked surprisingly well.

Pork Belly - Kurobuta sweet pork belly with pork croquette, paradise pears and pear chutney

Pork Belly - Kurobuta sweet pork belly with pork croquette, paradise pears and pear chutney

I tried a small amount of the Kingfish with some octopus carpaccio and am starting to think – I may actually like a bit of seafood (in the past I have had quite badly cooked seafood, but am coming to realise it’s not all that bad).

Kingfish - sashimi and cerviche with octopus carpaccio, cucumber and citrus

Kingfish - sashimi and cerviche with octopus carpaccio, cucumber and citrus

For the main I chose the lamb, which was perfectly cooked and again, generous in size. The plate looked like an artwork, with everything perfectly placed, baby artichokes and lovely sauce for the lamb.

Lamb - basil scented fillet with red capsicum, baby artichokes and green olive and lavender sauce

Lamb - basil scented fillet with red capsicum, baby artichokes and green olive and lavender sauce

Trevalla - roasted with glazed witlof, chesnut mushrooms, white beans and chicken jus

Trevalla - roasted with glazed witlof, chesnut mushrooms, white beans and chicken jus

Now to dessert, and I always leave room for dessert. It was moderately hard to choose the dessert. Don’t get me wrong, everything sounded amazing (and looked absolutely fabulous when they arrived), but I was choosing between the strawberry dessert and the chocolate tasting plate (remember I tried to make that one?). I heard the strawberry dessert was fantastic. Everything from the creamy panna cotta to the wonderful sorbet. I would love to try this.

Valrhona Chocolate - rich chocolate delice with chocolate sorbet

Valrhona Chocolate - rich chocolate delice with chocolate sorbet

Strawberry - poached strawberries with panna cotta, clotted cream and shortbread

Strawberry - poached strawberries with panna cotta, clotted cream and shortbread

I wasn’t sure whether the chocolate plate would be similar at all to the one I made in presentation or taste. When it came out it looked gorgeous. Everything was perfectly positioned, nothing was melting (like mine) and the chocolate had the signature snap to it. The macaron was actually my favourite on the plate, as it was lovely and sweet. I think I have to come to terms that I can’t deal with too much bitterness. Although every part of the dessert was lovely, I couldn’t finish it. I can think of several 85% -99% cocoa chocolate lovers who would have adored this dessert, but I’m still struggling with that high percentage of cocoa. I need the sugar and the milk, so unfortunately couldn’t appreciate and finish this dish like I would have hoped.

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What a lovely lunch.

ARIA Restaurant Sydney
1 Macquarie Street, East Circular Quay
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: +61 2 9252 2555

Gordon Ramsay, the MasterChef Judges and The Good Food and Wine Show 3-5 July 2009

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

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Now some would say that counting down the days to buy tickets in the pre-booking period and calling your husband panicking 30 minutes before the lines open 6 months, 6 days and 1 hour before an event might be considered a little…. Let’s say… obsessive…

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I would be one to agree with that view.

But it did not stop me late January making sure I did not miss out – as this is the first famous person I’ve met (that I can remember) and the first Good Food and Wine Show I’ve been to. Last year I was too busy and the year before that was the first time I’d really heard much about the show.

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Gordon Ramsay was very different to how he acts on his shows. He seems to be more like how you see or hear him in interviews. Quite nice, with the occasional rude joke and a little swearing (I don’t even recall him swearing… maybe once or twice – but I missed it, which is not such a bad thing).

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He made (with help from another chef) Cod and Tomato Chowder, Glazed Salmon with Spinach and Radish Salad and for dessert Poached Pears in Mulled Wine – with the most fantastic smelling caramelized figs! Unfortunately I wasn’t picked to go up and taste test the dishes (two females and two males from the audience were chosen).

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After the show, Gordon did a book signing and was absolutely lovely in person. He greeted Nick and I, giving me a kiss on the cheek and having a small conversion about who does the cooking in our house, baking and how it is a science and wishing us well. I was delighted with how it went and look forward to cooking some of the lovely dishes from his new book Healthy Appetite, which we got singed.

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A Photo from Healthy Appetite: Vanilla pannacotta with blueberry sauce:

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In between this show and the next, we went around the Good Food and Wine Show trying out new foods and a lot of wines. The foods on offer ranged from lovely chocolates in a variety of intriguing flavours, nougat, biscuits, cheese, olives, olive oil, cakes, ham and lovely dips.

I was lucky enough to find my way to The Biscuit Tree, where ChocolateSuze was chatting to Lili and was extremely generous is giving us a taste test of some of her lovely biscotti and shortbread. The only problem with this was trying to decide on which to buy. 🙂 We ended up choosing a lovely Cardamon & Pear Pistachio Biscotti. The flavours complement each other really well and don’t compare to anything you can buy in the shops. Nice to meet you finally Suze! 🙂

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The wines on offer took up probably more than half the stalls, I decided to try and find a wine which I liked and since I don’t really like wine, Nick ended up with double the amount of wine he had asked for. I did find a couple which I liked though, so all-in-all with a lot of taste testing done – a few Muscato’s will be remembered and possibly bought in the future.

Moving on to the last show we saw before we left, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris (two of the judges from MasterChef) from the Boathouse and The Press Club respectively, were on stage making a lovely array of dishes including Jam filled Donuts. Matt Preston also made an appearance during their cooking, with Gary and George giving one of his cravats to an audience member. Matt made sure the oven and oil was at the right temperature, as he mentioned the day before it wasn’t checked which made some of the dishes not turn out as they should.

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Gary and George were very entertaining, working very well together, with many good jokes throughout. Some of the contestants from MasterChef came on the stage, with the audience picking Poh to help them with the donuts.

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I had seen George’s book The Press Club a while ago and had put it on my Birthday wish list. Although after hearing George was doing signings, I made sure I bought his book at the show and got it signed, so we’ll have to see if I have to wait till my birthday to get it, or whether it will be a present to myself 🙂 . George seemed surprised by the number of people at their show as it was more packed than the earlier Gordon Ramsay show (perhaps because it cost extra and was quite early in the morning).

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Just looking through the photos in The Press Club is enjoyable, with each dish presented like a piece of art. I look forward to making some of these dishes, especially as I have a big love of Greek food – especially sweets.

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Photo from The Press Club: Island of Chios Mastic Pannacotta, Greek Doughnuts:

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All-in-all, I really enjoyed my first Good Food and Wine Show in Sydney. I would have liked a few more foods available to try and I also found the prices quite high on a lot of the food to eat there. The shows themselves were very enjoyable, more for the celebrities themselves than the actual cooking.

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