Henkell’s new fizz, Solander dishes up and Morrison Crab Carnival begins

The countdown timer for our mammoth trip in April seems to be speeding up! As of today we have 2 weeks and 2 full days before we fly off on our first leg to LA.

And as if to prove to us that we shouldn’t go, Sydney seems to be bringing out its biggest food guns.

This IG Edition is all about new stuff: new Italian restaurants we’ve discovered, a new sparkling wine and new bar we want to show you, an amazing new restaurant that’s just opened and – if you like crab – we have the most incredible crustacean revelation that’ll have you running sideways!

We hope you enjoy this week’s IG Edition.

Cheers – Jim & Christina xx

This afternoon we’ve been invited to a cool new bar in Pyrmont to try an interesting new sparkling wine. This is 1877 Wine Bar and Espresso at 55 Murray Street in Pyrmont. They’re affiliated with McWilliams Wines, so they’ve got an awesome cellar here.

They also do some excellent food you should check out.


But this is the main reason we’re here. We’ve heard that Henkell – a German winery that have been making sekt since 1856 – have brought out a new brew and we’re here to taste it. This is their blanc de blancs and it’s looking good!

Blanc de blancs wine uses only white grapes – usually Chardonnay and occasionally Pinot Blanc grapes – hence the name (‘white from whites’), so we’re looking forward to delicate, balanced flavours with plenty of fruit notes.

Historically, Henkell’s tale tells of a young German man who fell in love with the famous sparkling wine of Champagne in France in the early 1800s. Adam Henkell then took what he’d learnt back home and began making his own cuvée sekt.

The combination of the exquisite skills and techniques from France, German precision and 200 years of experience has built this brand into the award-winning powerhouse it is today.

We’re going to be trying this sparkling alongside a few different dishes to see how well food pairings work with seafood entrees, savoury dishes and desserts… and just drinking it on its own of course!

With the Henkell blanc de blancs, we’re looking at how this wine stands up to various food pairings. Next to these creamy oysters, this generous, silky sparkling wine creates a lovely mouthfeel.

These oysters come two ways with a passionfruit granita and a Champagne vinaigrette. The passionfruit’s sharpness works well with the slight sweetness of the Henkell (though it’s not an overly sweet wine) and the elegant sharpness of the vinaigrette also works well.

Next we try the Henkell blanc de blancs with white peaches, granola and ice cream. It’s such a well-balanced wine that its dryness cuts through the sugars from the ice cream, the peach matches well with the stoned fruit flavours inherent in the wine and the granola gives a delicious crunch.

Finally, the biggest test comes: we’re putting this delicate, dry sparkling wine up against a couple of cheeses. A creamy brie and a rich blue.

There’s a risk that a wine style like this could be lost behind all these strong flavours of the cheese, but the Henkell blanc de blancs puts in some solid form. It’s sharp enough to deal with the richness and fats of the cheese, its palate is persistent enough to carry through the cheeses’ powerful, complex flavours. It’s an impressive wine.

You can find Henkell’s blanc de blancs at Dan Murphy’s and independent wine stores nationally at RRP $25.

And if you want to read more about pairing food and sparkling wine, check out our post here.

This evening, we’re catching up with our friends Stevie and Mel from Stevie English Hair, and Paul and Ewelina who own Sustainable Salons Australia. we try and catch up with these awesome people as much as we can, and tonight we’re out in Haberfield for some Italian food!

This is La Disfida on Ramsay Street and we can’t recommend it enough. We get stuck into some amazing entrees of goat’s cheese stuffed zucchini flowers, arancini balls, calamari and zucchini fritti and eggplant parmigiana with burrata.

This is only the beginning though. Still more dishes come out – and then there are the pizzas, but we’re in a feeding frenzy and don’t take any more photos! Bad bloggers.

Suffice it to say that the food here is magnificent, the service is fun and fast, and if you want to eat at one of the best family-style Italian restaurants, you need to come here.

Clearly though, the pizza from the other night wasn’t enough for us. We’re in Balmain checking out Gigi’s Pizzeria‘s new location. They’ve only moved up a few buildings, but this new corner spot feels much more comfortable.

We’re here with Christina’s mum and we’re hoeing into two of the tastiest pizzas she’s ever had! They’re certainly good ones – light bases that aren’t too hard but are strong enough to hold the weight of the toppings.

The toppings themselves may not be 100% authentic – you probably won’t find them on the streets of Naples, but the Polpette (meatballs, bocconcini and tomatoes) is excellent.

Morrison Crab Carnival

I’m really excited tonight. I’m at the Morrison Bar and Oyster Room for the launch of this year’s Crab Carnival. In its 5th year, this celebration of the crustacean has continued to impress and delight seafood lovers. And this year is set to out-do its predecessors once again.

Running from 19th March – 15th April, the Morrison Crab Carnival is something not to be missed.

Morrison Crab Carnival

Chef, owner and downright good bloke Sean Connolly is so excited about this year’s Crab Carnival. From the moment he emerges with these incredible soft shell crab sliders on charcoal buns (mini examples of what will be in the Carnival – &19), you can tell he’s really into this year’s crabby goings on.

In fact he’s determined to hit the 1,000kg crab consumption mark this year – only 100kg on previous years’ records, but a metric tonne of crab is certainly a landmark.

Morrison Crab Carnival

The stage is set, shell crackers, hammers, aprons and picks at the ready, the feeling of excited anticipation is heavy in the air this evening.

Morrison Crab Carnival

Amongst the special drinks lining the bar for this year’s Crab Carnival one in particular stands out for me. This is the Manly Lady ($18) – which is a twist on the gin-based White Lady. Made with Manly Spirits Co‘s citrus focused gin, this is the drink for seafood for sure.

Morrison Crab Carnival

Soon enough, the first dish arrives. This crab risotto ($32) is packed with tender delicious golden king crab , mascarpone and parmesan. I could eat this all day… until I explode of course!

Morrison Crab Carnival

Morrison Crab Carnival

Next is the crab ravioli in a light curry sauce ($24). Ordinarily I’d be wary about ordering filled pasta – especially when it’s filling is something as expensive as crab. Kitchens love to skimp on the filling, don’t they?

But this is the most stuffed ravioli I’ve ever had. I’m quite impressed they managed to get so much in actually. The salmon roe and chives give this dish impact and colour – I’d come back here just for these.

Morrison Crab Carnival

Morrison Crab Carnival

And now for the pièce de résistance – Sean’s very special chilli mud crab ($120).

You get a whole (massive) mud crab that’s been cooked perfectly and cracked a bit to help you out. The delightfully sticky red chilli sauce is Sean’s own secret hot sauce recipe and it brings out all the rich, juicy meat flavours from Pinchy’s huge claws.

Morrison Crab Carnival

To finish off, we’re treated to a lemon tart that cuts through the richness of dinner and leaves us all feeling very satisfied. I think I’ll have to get Christina to make me something like this with the lemon curd she can do.

Morrison Crab Carnival

Sean’s Crab Carnival is definitely worth getting to. The Morrison – at 225 George Street – is a great foodie destination anyway, but with this on through March and April, it should be front and centre of your restaurant-going priorities.

Over the course of the festival, there’ll also be things like the steam pot ($55 for 2) Mon-Thurs, which is a big pot of crab and chorizo broth, Muddy Madness on Tuesdays when you can get one of those chilli mud crabs for $85 instead of $120.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a Morrison event if you couldn’t get the $1 oysters at least one day a week. Wednesdays between 6pm and 7pm, you can get a dozen for $12 before you get cracking on some crabby goodness.

Solander West Hotel

This evening we’re down by Barangaroo to check out the latest hotel restaurant to open in the city. Part of the West Hotel on Sussex Street, the Solander Dining and Bar only opened its doors recently.

The West Hotel, which is part of the Hilton Group, is actually the newest new-build hotel in Sydney, so you can expect everything in this sleek, stylish residence to be as modern and sophisticated as the restaurant.

Solander West Hotel

Kind lighting, gentle lines and plenty of soft furnishings make Solander a perfect romantic destination for a date night dinner or a special occasion. Service here is excellent; friendly yet professional, and a much more boutique experience than that of a regular Hilton.

Solander West Hotel

We settle down to a cocktail and peruse the menu. The lemon myrtle gimlet Christina has ordered has the sharpness of the lime and the botanicals of the gin, but the gentle citrus from the lemon myrtle makes it a clever drink – though maybe a little sweet to have more than one.

Here’s our recipe for a gimlet by the way!

Solander West Hotel

Solander West Hotel

Entrees come and we’re very impressed with Executive Chef David Vandenebeele’s concepts.

My scallops with hazelnut foam crust, blood orange and crispy purple potato are perfect and are beautifully presented. Christina’s charred green prawns with chilli butter comes with so much saffron it’s almost overwhelming.

Both are artistically created, delightfully balanced and expertly executed. This certainly doesn’t feel like a hotel restaurant.

Solander West Hotel

Mains soon appear and Christina’s seared salmon, garden peas, potato fondant and lemon myrtle yoghurt is delicate, yet complex. We love the fresh colours of the dish.

Solander West Hotel

I’ve ordered the grilled Brooklyn Valley beef fillet, which comes with a mustard cake wrapped in spinach leaves and pommes Anna and Grenache. The fillet is a thick cut, which always makes it difficult to cook evenly. The kitchen has done a great job tonight though. It’s topped with wild mushrooms and comes with a venison jus that’s thick and flavourful.

Solander West Hotel

These two dishes really are a delight. Simple ingredients cooked with sophisticated techniques. That’s the recipe for a brilliant meal.

Solander West Hotel

Of course, we can’t leave without looking at the dessert menu. And once we’ve looked, we can’t leave without ordering from it!

I hit the cheese board, which is generously laden with apple, grapes, a white quince paste and three large pieces of Australian cheese: a silky brie, a heady blue and a sharp, crumbly cheddar. There are also plenty of vehicles for the cheese – a pile of lavosh and some grilled bread. I hate it when there aren’t enough crackers for your cheese.

Solander West Hotel


Christina orders the tiramisu creme brulée. Somehow bringing the best of both worlds into a single dish, this dessert is perfect if you’re not sure what sweet to have – not that Christina has trouble deciding on what to order with this one.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

It’s been a wonderful evening and a delicious week as a whole. Let’s just hope the airlines we’ll be flying with in 15 days don’t start weighing their passengers!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s IG Edition. Speak again soon

Jim & Christina xx

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