Archive for ‘Sydney International Food Festival’

January 21, 2012

Crave Sydney’s Abracadabra Lunch by Dan Hong

by minibites

It’s been a while since this delectable lunch by Dan Hong at Lotus, but after drooling over my archived photos, I thought I’d do a quick post so everyone else can drool as well. Missing out on the Dude Food Deg, the girls and I settled for the magic and mystery of the Abracadabra lunch.

Abracadabra @ Lotus
Tuna Sashimi, Sea Urchin and Scallop 

Usually the thoughts of raw seafood sends tingles my spine but I was pleasantly surprised that I polished this off clean… yes, even the sea urchin which extremely um, challenging. Think grainy, gooey and slimy. Let’s say that the sweet wasabi and fresh tuna sashimi definitely helped.

Abracadabra @ Lotus
King Prawns, Saffron Dashi Custard & Consomme

This dish was a flashback to March where Dan dished up a similar dashi custard; it’s a party in the mouth with Asian inspired flavours of laska, saffron, juicy king prawns and spicy consomme.

Abracadabra @ Lotus
Steamed Suzuki Mulloway & Pork Dumplings 

Next up is a generous slice of fish with a layer of crispy skin contrasted with delicate, fish flesh on the flip side – all served with pork dumplings dressed with Japanese flavours of sweet white soy and sour yuzu.

Abracadabra @ Lotus
Rangers Valley Wagyu Skirt Steak w/ Sweet Potato, Kim Chi, Teriyaki Sauce

One of my favourites is the Wagyu skirt steak… amazingly tender cooked medium rare and teamed up with creamy, sweet potato puree, spicy kim chi and plenty of magic from Liam Power.

Abracadabra @ LotusStrawberry Sorbet & Vanilla Milk Ice

To finish it off, it’s Dan Hong’s version of strawberries and cream with layers of strawberry sorbet, ice-cold vanilla milk granita, shards of chocolate meringue, and plenty of fresh strawberries… and of course, popping candy to entertain everyone at the table.

Abracadabra event was apart of Crave Sydney Food Festival 2011.

22 Challis Ave
Potts Point, Sydney

November 20, 2011

SIFF 2011 Pepe Saya’s Churn: Great Butter

by minibites

Churn: Great Butter @ Pepe Saya

I know absolutely nothing about butter, no clue of its processes, but after a night at Pepe Saya’s kitchen, I learnt the entire process of churning butter all the way through to packaging and cooking delicious garlic butter mussels.

Churn: Great Butter @ Pepe Saya

We were welcomed to a table filled with freshly baked sourdough breads, cheeses, butters, olives and meats – not to mention plentiful bottles of wine and beers. This class was apart of the Crave Sydney events, and attracted a very niche crowd of butter enthusiasts.

Churn: Great Butter @ Pepe Saya

Churn: Great Butter @ Pepe Saya

We head into the kitchen with our scrubs and hair nets in and begin the tour. Surprisingly the kitchen is a lot smaller than I had imagined. Pepe Saya also shares their kitchen with Pat & Sticks, who are famous for their ice cream sandwiches!

Over here, Pierre explains to us the initial stages of churning butter, adding sorts of packaged bacteria and serving us teaspoons at each stage so we could taste the butter slowly develop.

Churn: Great Butter @ Pepe Saya

Pierre showing off his prized possession as the butter turns into a “butter popcorn” stage. Churn churn churn!

Churn: Great Butter @ Pepe Saya

In the next stage, the butter is literally washed. Pierre squeezes as much of the liquid as possible (which essentially is buttermilk!) and it is hosed down with good ol’ Sydney tap water.

Churn: Great Butter @ Pepe Saya

The fun begins when the load of butter is spread onto the kitchen tops and it’s time to get dirrrty! Our role here is to continue squeezing all the water out and prepare them for the moulds. This is also the stage where the salt is added (hence, salted butter) with a mix of normal salt and the treasured pink salt flakes. It isn’t too soon before we realise that you need to work super fast as butter tends to melt at 35 degrees, which is also our body temp.

Churn: Great Butter @ Pepe Saya

Aw! Look at that grin of happiness while playing with butter.

Churn: Great Butter @ Pepe Saya

Pierre packing the butter into a 2kg wheel mould which is mainly purchased by restaurants. It’s also the only product that is sold with the traditional packaging with a sheet of baking paper and twine.

Churn: Great Butter @ Pepe Saya2kg Deli Wheel in the traditional packaging

Churn: Great Butter @ Pepe Saya

After all our hard work, we dig into more food. At the end of this, we’re absolutely exhausted. Definitely props to the team at Pepe Saya for the dedication, love and care that is taken into making cultured butter. It is a tremendous amount of work for what essentially is, butter! But it is definitely worth all the effort from its delicious taste.

Churn: Great Butter @ Pepe Saya

Pepe Saya also produce the range of Homemade Fine Foods using their cultured butter making amazing chocolate mousses, tiramisu, pannacottas, bread & butter puddings and apple crumbles; all winning medals at the Sydney Royal Easter Show! They also stock plenty of pestos, tapenades and garlic paste – which go harmoniously with the butter and fresh mussels. All of these are available at their Tempe factory.

Minibites attended this event thanks to Vivan at When the World Stops Spinning 

Pepe Saya
Unit 4, 3 Wood St
Tempe, Sydney 

October 30, 2010

SIFF 2010 Chef’s Armoury’s Toyko Food Trends – MG & More

by minibites

I know I’m probably behind the times but recently I’ve taken greater interest in area of molecular gastronomy particularly after expanding my food adventures. The best thing I would imagine for a chef is seeing the element of surprise this art brings to their diners. Apart of the Crave festival, I attended an intimate class at the Chef’s Armoury playing around with Japanese flavours and molecular gastronomy.

First off the mark was a technique that I was particularly interested in learning how to do properly – having tried and sort of, succeeding, I wanted to know all the inside tricks and secrets. Sphereification is combining a flavoured liquid with sodium alginate and dripping this into a water bath of calcium chloride – then into some clean water to wash off the chloride. If they float, you know it’s not right as there is air trapped inside. And, it’s best to make them just before serving.

Capsicum caviar and kingfish sashimi with ponzu foam

As kingfish sashimi was on the menu, a sauce was in order. Ponzu, a light soy sauce commonly served with gyoza was made into a foam. And as water does not foam on its own, it’s crucial to add a emulsifier such as soy lecithin to the solution, hand blend, and viola! It’s as easy as scooping the flavoured foam onto the dish just before serving.

The dish was fantastic and something we could definitely replicate in our home labs – although, I would have loved to have a greater explosion in the mouth, with a more intense and surprising flavour in the caviar. It’d be interesting to try this with some crazy flavours.

Tomato agar jelly and sesame sand

Next up was sands and soils. A common purpose of sand and soils is the element of texture or to plant a protein on top. In this case, sesame was mixed with a sugar substitute like isomalt – the isomalt doesn’t absorb much moisture so it can be combined with flavours, melted and left on a silicon mat to cool, then grounded into powder. If you took this one step further, it would be baked in the oven and shaped – much like the one used for the Snow Egg (it would have been handy if we attended this class before we failed at Masterchef!)

This dish was definitely more intriguing than the first, with a cube of savoury jelly and very sandy sesame. It reminded me of the grounded peanut and sesame treats we would devour during Chinese New Year.

Miso soup

Another very commonly used method in the molecular gastronomy world is reverse sphereification – where calcium chloride is combined with the liquid and submerged into a water bath of sodium alginate (so the opposite to sphereification!). This allows larger spheres and greater bursts of flavour.

On the menu were spheres of miso soup that was taken down like a sake shot. Once bitten, the warm miso soup bursts into your mouth. It definitely drew a “wow”. To make spheres warm, submerge them into a warm water before serving.

Sous vide has been around for quite some time, and it can become quite a heated dinner table discussion amongst foodies – some love it and some hate it. It’s all a matter of preference, like how do you like em eggs? The concept is French meaning “under vacuum” and involves cooking proteins in a vacuum sealed bag submerged in a temperature controlled water bath. The argument for sous vide also dervives from the point that food is best cooked in their own juices to maximise and maintain the flavour. Chef Leigh makes the good point that when carrots are boiled, the water tastes like carrot water but the carrots then taste absolutely bland and unflavoursome.

Using the sous vide machine, Chef Leigh demonstrated how to cook the one ingredient that determines the skill of a chef, eggs. Using an egg clacker to remove the top of the eggs, the inside slipped out effortlessly leaving a clean empty shell. Eggs were cooked in the sous vide machine at 64 degrees for an hour.

Sous vided eggs, onions, rice and chicken oyakodon

The outcome was a take on the humble chicken oyakodon. At the bottom of the egg was a slightly runny yolk and white, topped with onions and sushi rice drenched in a absolutely addictive sauce of mirin and white soy, served with sticks of chicken. My favourite savoury dish of the night alongside the warm miso spheres.

Whitebait sous vided with parsnips and carrots with microherbs

Another sous vide dish is demonstrated using whitebait and good ol’ carrots and parsnips. The whitebait was delicious and perfectly cooked, falling apart as my fork sliced through and the vegetables did indeed taste like carrots and parsnips, although they’ve been cooking for an hour. The broth was a simple as white soy sauce, mirin and dashi – lightly flavoured so the fish and vegetables could be the stars of the dish.

Yappies with miso butter bathing in potato and yuzu foam

Chef Leigh explains how crucial for any cuisine it is, to cook with produce that is in season. With our luck, yappies are on the menu tonight – cooked with miso paste and butter in a iron caste pan and served with a potato, olive oil and yuzu flavoured foam. Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit that could be described as the baby of a lemon and a lime. Presentation for this dish was brilliant, humour is the best part of dinner. The yappies were delicious with a hint of the miso butter, although the foam was just a little too sour for my liking.

Green tea and honey parfait served with green tea soil and azuki beans

Onto dessert, Chef Eddie serves us a gorgeous dessert that leaves the table silent for a solid five minutes with the occasional hmm and aahh. A green tea soil served with a green tea and honey parfait rolled in a macadamia praline with a side of azuki beans. The best desserts have a balance of flavours and most importantly, textures! I love how the praline left a crunching sensation while the parfait was soft and just melted in the mouth.

Blackforest cake

Second dessert for the night was a DIY blackforest cake and being in a molecular gastronomy class, it was only fitting to ensure it was really a black cake… Eddie places plates of ingredients like charcoal cake bases, Chantilly creme, chocolate mousse, cherries, chocolate sauce and a sour cherry gel. The charcoal didn’t really taste like much, but entire cake had amazing flavours and it wasn’t as sweet as I had anticipated it to be – my favourite layer had to be the sour cherry gel which was amazing in texturally in the cake and flavour.

Amazing class, both entertaining and delicious!

Classes now ended, but keep checking Chef’s Armoury for any upcoming classes.

Chef’s Armoury
747 Botany Road
Rosebery, Sydney

October 24, 2010

SIFF 2010 Sugarhit – Azuma Kushiyaki

by minibites

My first Sugarhit for the Crave festival is Azuma Kushiyaki. I particularly enjoy the restaurants who are embracing the point of Sugarhits as an opportunity to showcase samples of their desserts, so I was grinning to see that they were serving their desserts in not one, but two sample boxes!

Azuma’s first box includes a vanilla pannacotta with strawberry coulis, and Belgian chocolate mousse with raspberry coulis topped with freeze dried raspberries. This was delicious with a light pannacotta that was perfectly flavoured with the sweet raspberries. The chocolate mousse wasn’t too sweet either and the both complemented each other very well.

The next box included a Japanese wasabi ganache tart, almond financier, Japanese green tea tart and smiley macaron. Although this box was more experimental, I could not enjoy it as much as the first – not being a fan of wasabi and heat, I really couldn’t conjure the willpower up to eat it.

It was a bit of a laugh that the macaron faces were so similar to their eaters…

Sugarhits are happening in the month of October after 9pm. All desserts are served with a glass of Brown Brothers Orange Muscat & Flora or Hennessy Cognac.

Azuma Kushiyaki
1/2 Chifley Square

Azuma Kushiyaki on Urbanspoon

October 4, 2010

SIFF 2010 ACP Food Photography Forum

by minibites

Swarming the world of Twitter and the world of Sydney food blogs, many may know that Crave Sydney International Food Festival (SIFF) is currently up and happening. So to kick start my food month, I signed up to a 2 hour forum about food photography and styling at ACP. Being practically the only amateur photographer there who photographed as a hobby, the level was completely out of my league, but it was fun to get an insight on the behind the scene of a magazine food shoot. All the time, preparation, lights, angles, trickery, olive oil spray and blow torching involved.

This event was apart of Crave SIFF 2010.

Australian Centre of Photography
257 Oxford St
Paddington, Sydney