Things are getting pretty exciting here with us. Over the weekend we firmed up more plans for our trip… which is coming up in exactly 4 weeks!
In 31 days from now, we’ll be heading to the airport to begin a mammoth trip around the world. At last count we’ll be on 3 continents and 9 countries over the next 2-3 months. I think we’ll need another holiday when we get back from this!
In this week’s IG Edition though, it’s a lot more about filling our bellies than filling our passports. We have cheese platters, curry feasts, martinis and – most excitingly – a taste of the latest menu to celebrate autumn at the Four Seasons Sydney’s premium restaurant and bar Mode Kitchen and Bar.
We hope you enjoy this IG Edition as much as we did eating it!
Jim & Christina xx
This evening we’re round our friends’ Jayde and Phil’s place for dinner, wine and a bloody good chat. Phil is an author and media guru, and Jayde is founder/owner of The Grey Consulting – an awesome social, PR, events and activations agency.
They’re awesome fun and share our appreciation of cheese platters!
And if you want to check out Christina’s skills on putting together cheese boards like this, click right here.
This afternoon, we’re at our favourite Sydney 5-star hotel the Four Seasons Sydney. You can check out our previous review on the Four Seasons here.
But today we’re not here to stay (sadly). We’re here to eat (happily). We’ve been invited to come and try the new autumn menu of Four Seasons’ restaurant Mode Kitchen and Bar. And rather than having to choose which dishes we sample, we’ll be eating them all today.
Glad I’ve been practising my eating skills recently.
One of my favourite features to Mode Kitchen and Bar is in fact the open kitchen. I love being able to see into the brain of a restaurant, and the designers who created Mode (also our favourites Luchetti Krelle) designed the restaurant to be like the interior of a jewellery box, with little compartments everywhere and the kitchen as the jewel at its heart.
However, the real jewel is Head Chef Francesco Mannelli – he’s the happy one in the middle. And they’re his creations we’ll be sampling today.
Straight off the bat is one of our all-time favourite Italian foods: fresh burrata cheese. Deliciously simple and simply delicious, the cheese pops open as you cut it and creamy goodness fills your plate. It’s hard to control the urge to lick the crockery clean.
The fresh basil and heirloom tomatoes complete this perfect entree.
Next to taste is the grilled calamari salad with Brussels sprouts, chilli and olives. This smoky wonder really surprises me with its depth of flavour and delicate textures. We do enjoy joking about the sprouts though. Christina says how happy she is that they’re back in favour, while I point out that the 9-year-old me cringes every time I see them on a menu.
The important thing I have to remember though is that chefs like Francesco actually know how to cook them; these aren’t the squishy grey blobs of terror that haunted my Christmas dinner plate until everything else was gone and my parents became insistent.
The final entree to try is the milk-fed veal tartare. A few years ago, I would’ve squirmed in my seat at the thought of eating raw meat like this – images of Rowan Atkinson’s Mr Bean sketch hiding scoops of steak tartare in ever more adventurous places spring to mind.
Thankfully, I no longer harbour such fears. This silky dish – normally served as a kind of meaty bruschetta – is on a piece of fried nori seaweed that is somehow strong enough to hold the weight of its topping. the baby beetroots and horseradish complete this clever dish.
Of the three mains available on this seasonal menu, I try the risotto. A blend of tender wild mushrooms, thyme and slices of smoked mozzarella, coupled with the perfectly cooked aged carnaroli rice, makes this a very special dish.
Carnaroli is the rice grain of preference for Italians and foodies in the know. It’s a more substantial rice that’s harder to overcook, maintains its shape and flavour, and makes for a truly superior risotto dish.
Christina’s main is a brace of chargrilled Yamba king prawns the size of a public telephone. They come with a thick pool of ajo blanco – a delicate yet piquant soup from Spain, tiny black grapes and finger lime.
If you’re into your umami, this is the dish for you.
The third main you can order from this special menu is the slow-cooked lamb shoulder. And ‘special’ is definitely the word for it. Ridiculously tender, yet parts that have a delightful crunch to them thanks to a bit of caramelisation, the lamb not only falls apart at a touch, it fills your mouth with flavour.
Partnering the lamb are gooey Japanese eggplants and crispy saltbush leaves. And of course the succulent jus from the roast.
It’s not a meal without sides and it’s not a meal at Mode without their polenta chips. If you wanted an archetype of a polenta chip to show someone who’d never heard of them before, you’d want one of these. And the aioli dip that comes with them is perfect.
We’ve had a crack at polenta chips ourselves and we thought they were pretty good… and then we tried these ones!
There’s also a beet and heirloom tomato salad that’s delicious too, but really overshadowed by those crispy-shelled creamy-centred sticks of gold.
Desserts at Mode Kitchen and Bar are well-celebrated. And rightly so. This ricotta cheesecake with a fine crackly chocolate top, creme Chantilly and beautifully ripe figs is a work of art. Christina is very happy at this point in the meal.
I’m just as ecstatic with my dessert: I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth, so an affogato suits me perfectly. Especially when it’s with house-made hazelnut ice cream and those biscotti are the richest crumbliest damn chocolate biscuits I’ve ever had.
If you’re looking for a venue for a special meal, you’ve got to check out Mode Kitchen and Bar – and don’t wait too long. These seasonal specials won’t be around forever.
You can read more about Mode and book a table on their website here.
Last week we wrote about our time in Brussels and where you should go in the Belgian capital to get the best photos.
We also created a video that we’re quite proud of to go with the story. You can click here to go straight to the video.
Tonight I’ve left my beloved at home and have gone out for a curry with the boys. It’s a tradition with our football team that every time we don’t have a game because the season’s over or there’s a bye, we go out for an Indian meal to celebrate!
We’re back at an old favourite – Maya da Dhaba in Surry Hills – for dinner. And we’ve almost run out of table space. It’s going to be a good dinner I think.
This evening, Christina and I are relaxing by the water, enjoying a martini and having a game of backgammon. Christina got me into this surprisingly addictive game years ago, and now when we travel, we always pack a mini board.
Things are usually quite evenly set between us – though I do tend to throw a tantrum if I lose too many times in a row!
Cheers! We hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s IG Edition.
We’ll chat again soon.
Jim & Christina