A happy group at last year’s Majestic Long Lunch at the Hydro Majestic. On again this year on Feruary 24 – see below
Here we are in traditionally the hottest month of the year but that doesn’t mean you can’t cook! I like to keep things cool by concentrating on salads, recipes cooked on just one or two hotplates, or on the barbecue. You’ll find lots here.
Banksii, Shop 11, 33 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo, Sydney
I’ve found another quiet restaurant this week – down amongst the busy noise of Barangaroo is Banksii Vermouth Bar & Bistro. Sit inside and apart from superb service and delicious food, you’ll be able to talk to others at your table. A reader from Brisbane has offered the following Queensland restaurants (not their bars) as quiet dining venues, though we know everywhere can get a bit noisy if fully booked:
Stokehouse Q Restaurant
The Long Apron, Montville
Homage, Hidden Vale
The Peak, Maryvale
Spirit House, Yandina
The Tamarind, Maleny
Harrison’s by Spencer Patrick (at Sheraton Mirage)
Have YOU got any to recommend? they could be anywhere in the world.
Looking Ahead: Chinese New Year
Betel leaves with spicy fish. Recipe from Balance. Matching Food & Wine. What Works & Why. Photo: Brett Stevens
Chinese New Year is upon us on February 16 so Kung Hey Fat Choi, Gung Hei Fat Choy (Cantonese), Gong Xi Fa Cai (in Mandarin) or Happy New Year and welcome to the Year of The Dog. There are many myths, legends, traditions and taboos around this time.
The exact date in the Western calendar changes from year to year because it is fixed using a Chinese lunar calendar in which each month begins with the new moon. New beginnings are always worth celebrating.
It is a time of wondrous celebration, with origins which go back to a time of myths and legends. There are paper-dragon dances, parades and red clothing to commemorate the legend of Nian, a mythical beast who terrorized villagers once every year. The colour red and the din that is created is meant to drive away any lingering devils or spirits. Now the word Nian, in modern Chinese means “year”.
It is a time of feasting, with particular foods for different good wishes. Traditionally, delicacies include prawns, for liveliness and happiness, dried oysters (ho xi), for all things good, raw fish salad (yu sheng) to bring good luck and prosperity, Fai-hai (Angel Hair), an edible hair-like seaweed to bring prosperity, and meat-filled dumplings boiled in water (Jiaozi). “Jiaozi” in Chinese literally mean “sleep together and have sons”, a long-lost good wish for a family.
No New Year Eve’s meal would be complete without fish. The Chinese character for “abundance” sounds the same as “fish”. There is also a vegetarian dish with a special seaweed called fatchoi, which sounds the same as the word meaning prosperity.
Top: Char grilled, split local jumbo prawns, black pepper, chilli and garlic sauce Left: Sashimi. Today’s market fish, Davidson plum, gin pickled cucumber and buckwheat Right: Stone & Wood beer battered daily fish, tartare sauce, lemon, salad and fries
After I was in Lismore for Australia Day, I had the pleasure of staying with friends nearby and the next day we went to The Byron at Byron for lunch. Now, full disclosure – I have known the delightful operators Lyn & John Parche for years but had never been to the property, so was delighted to do so. The restaurant had just reopened after a six week renovation, with a new menu designed by recently appointed executive chef Matt Kemp. Matt is highly-credentialled having worked in Michelin-starred restaurants in the UK before working at Banc in Sydney and his own Restaurant Balzac. The restaurant itself is gloriously open and airy, as befits its location which is well away from the buzz of Byron township.
The menu is also appropriately fresh and light, nothing is frozen except the ice-cream and features local, season produce fusing European ideas and Asian flavours. What impressed me was that there were plenty of options for vegetarians, dairy free and gluten free without that limiting the menu.
We grazed around the menu with the freshest sashimi beautifully contrasted with Davidson plum, gin pickled cucumber and a sprinkling of buckwheat for texture. I definitely had food envy and purloined a piece of fresh, juicy fish in a crisp, light batter and some perfectly cooked chips. My choice was the healthy option of char grilled prawns. A salad and charred broccolini and asparagus, puffed grains completed the savoury choices.
Roasted new season black figs, cinnamon doughnuts and mascarpone ice cream
Dessert had not been intended but we ended up sharing three; figs with cinnamon doughnuts, fresh and light fruits and sorbets and star of the show Salted caramel and toffee parfait, crushed Nimbin Valley pecan cookies and caramelised milk sorbet. Now I’m finding an excuse to go back and stay.
Seasonal sorbets and fresh fruit
Majestic Long Lunch
I have attended these lunches since the first and have been ambassador for the last three. I love a bit of dressing up! It is part of The Roaring 20s and All That Jazz Festival in the beautiful Blue Mountains. Everyone is welcome – singles, pairs or groups small and large.The day is full of camararderie and fun as we all admire other people’s clever ideas as to what to wear. There is a fashion parade, plus one of all those attending, best dressed prizes, live entertainment and dancing. As if that’s not enough, the food showcases the best of the region on shared platters. There are other events like the Charleston for Charity community dance event at 11am or stay on for the Gangster Casino Charity Night. Lunch is $95 per person including a welcome cocktail with wines for purchase. Information and booking details here.
Strode Family Dinner
Leading Australian chefs are joining forces for an incredible fundraising dinner in memory of the late,great Jeremy Strode to celebrate the life of one of the country’s best loved and respected chefs, and raise money for his wife
Jane Strode, and their sons.
Jeremy’s influence on the Australian hospitality industry is inestimable – he was the best, expected the best and inspired others to achieve so was highly regarded in the trade and lovingly called ‘‘The Truth’ for his honest approach.. He was dedicated to mentoring and inspired young chefs with his warmth, patience and eagerness to share his knowledge and skill.
Fourteen of our best chefs will collaborate on an impressive feast, donating their time and expertise in honour of a man they all loved and admired. They are: Christine Manfield, Colin Fassnidge – 4Fourteen, Dan Hong – Mr Wong, Dan Hunter – Brae, Danielle Alvarez – Fred’s, Darren Robertson – Three Blue Ducks / Rocker, Jonathan Thorne – The Newport, Lauren Murdoch – Merivale, Lorraine Godsmark – Lorraine’s Patisserie, Mark Le Brooy – Three Blue Ducks, Martin Benn – Sepia, Martin Boetz – The Cooks Co-Op, Morgan McGlone – Belles Hot Chicken / Natural History Bar and Grill and Peter Doyle – est.
Tickets are $300 each or $3000 for a table of ten. All proceeds raised go to his wife Jane and their boys to support them with their future. Tickets available.
Tuesday 27 March, 6.30pm
Ivy Ballroom, Level 1, 320 George Street, Sydney
Tickets: $300 each, $3000 per table (10pax)
Further to my piece on trends last week Uber Eats’ top food prediction for 2018 is Pickles, as reported in Food Service News. Looking at data collected from over 8,000 restaurants across the country using the Uber Eats app, the company has analysed the ingredients and dishes that have seen a big growth over the past six months. Pickles are top with bowls, coconut and avocado following. Pickles is perhaps the surprise and Sriracha comes in at 19 ahead of quinoa at 20.
How many times have you read in a recipe “season to taste”? Jules Clancy at The Stone Soup blog has a good piece on this here. She says “ err on the side of ‘less is more’. You can always add more salt but it’s almost impossible to fix things when you go too far.” and for those who are gluten free – here are the Top 20 Gluten-Free Bread Recipes.
Wishing you all the best for the rest of February. Forgive me but I couldn’t bring myself to feature Valentine’s Day. A friend of mine calls it “singles awareness day” and I think it is over-hyped. Live you life, be happy whether single or not, and hold those you love close always, not just on one day of the year.