This week has been one of my favourites so far this year I think. In that it’s been very food heavy!
And the ‘heavy’ part is certainly a reference to me. Things here are getting a bit out of control. But with my ankle ligaments still in bad shape, there’s not a lot I can do but just eat through the pain!
But with things like an exclusive invitation to a top Sydney hotel restaurant for dinner, a private supper at a reinvented club and the chance to go in a seaplane, my ankle is just going to have to deal with it.
We hope you enjoy this Weekly Edition.
Cheers – Jim & Christina xx
And as if there wasn’t enough food on the agenda, this week, Christina has decided to make gnocchi!
Her dad heralding from northern Italy means gnocchi is part of Christina’s heritage, but this is the first time she’s make it in a long time – and the first time we’ve made it together.
Amazingly, she’s pulled out memories from years back and has done an incredible job.
Christina’s family recipe was a bit different from this classic gnocchi style. In northeastern Italy and Slovenia, gnocchi is often much much bigger, stuffed with a small native plum and covered in a sweet yet savoury breadcrumb cinnamon syrup.
It’s a formidable dish and absolutely delicious, but a lot more difficult to make. And in spite of the sugary sauce and the plum, this is still served as a main course!
We’ve opted for the easier option this time – gnocchi in a sugo with a touch of aged gouda grated on top. But maybe next time we’ll go for the plum style!
I think we’ll also be sharing our recipe for gnocchi al pomodoro soon too so watch this space. I’ve got an easy trick that turns your tomato sauce into the tastiest you’ve ever had. Promise.
Things kick off with some impressive hors d’oeuves. These spanner crab parcels wrapped in tender avocado on a crunchy popadom are amazing. It’s like eating the real version of what a California roll would be.
Leading the kitchen here at Silvester’s is Rafael Szurek – a Michelin-star rated chef who’s worked under some of the most vaunted names in the industry, including Chef Paul Bocuse – the ‘pope of French cuisine’.
When we’re comfortably seated, the entrees come out, starting with these amazing Skull Island prawns charcoal grilled and dressed with XO sauce and finger lime.
Chef Rafael’s focus is of course on those incredible flavours and umami you find in French cooking, but also in sustainability and local produce. He’s crafted this menu with native ingredients and even herbs grown in the vertical garden here in the restaurant.
Another work of edible art to start with is this Vanella burrata peeping out from beneath a savoy cabbage leaf. Eating with our eyes all the way… well, until you cut open the burrata!
Chef Rafael has also crafted my favourite dish: slow-cooked grilled octopus.
Mains are just as impressive as the entrees. This wagyu beef dish is superb. Two different cuts cooked two different ways – a charcoal grilled 6+ striploin and a fall-apart slow-cooked 9+ beef cheek. Wonderful.
And as if we haven’t had enough (not possible), we’re also served house-made pumkin gnocchi plated with warrigal greens and a dukkha made with native Aussie spices.
This is Chef Rafael’s current favourite and a new dish to the kitchen. Hiding beneath a nest of crispy potato noodles is a piece of delicate yet firm glacier 51 toothfish.
It’s served with charred cucumber and an elegant complex bisque.
A multitude of desserts follow, each as pretty as the next. This, for example, is the black forest chocolate ganache cake with a cherry sorbet, milk foam and freeze dried fruit.
But the piece de resistance is here. Chef Rafael has put together one of the most complicated desserts we’ve seen. Multiple layers fill these icy pots to create a blood orange tofu pana cotta and on top: liquid-nitrogen frozen and hand-crushed coriander.
We leave the Marriott feeling – as you’d expect – very full, and only just make it home in time before this happens!
One of the (in not the) most incredible storms we’ve ever seen. And we’ve been struck by lightning.
The sky is lit like it’s daylight. It’s an unending rolling boom of thunder. What a way to punctuate the evening. If you want to see more of this storm, check out our Instagram post here.
This evening, we’ve made our way south for a change. We’re in Kogarah visiting this southern suburb’s RSL club, which has seen a lot of changes for the better in recent times.
Much less like the clubs we’re used to seeing, the Kogarah Clubhouse has a cosy yet stylish feel to it. Pokies are well-hidden, staff are superbly friendly and professional, and the smells of food coming from its two restaurants make our tummies gurgle like happy cats.
Christina and I take a seat at the Clubhouse Bar and for a quiet drink before dinner. We’re impressed with how well-stocked the bar is with plenty of choices and a great range of Aussie drinks.
They even have Matso’s Ginger Beer on tap here, which is surprising in itself. But it’s the price that gets us. It’s cheaper here than it is at the actual Matso’s Brewery in Broome!
I mentioned two restaurants here at the Kogarah Clubhouse, but of course, we’re only dining at one tonight. We’re not that greedy.
But we are greedy enough that we want to try a bit of everything!
As we’re not eating at The Pearl, the club’s Chinese banquet and yum cha restaurant, and FOMO is real, we order a sneaky plate of Peking duck spring rolls from the bar snacks menu.
In fact, if you’re not sure which type of food you want out of the two restaurants, the club bar does a good mix of the two and is great value to boot.
But this is our dinner spot for the evening: Blake Street Kitchen.
With its range of comfy seating options, lots of space and light, Blake Street Kitchen is the perfect mid-weeker or a great catch-up spot for friends. It has a cafe-by-day diner-by-night feel, which is not only reflected in the food menus but also in the coffee options.
For dinner here though, you can expect pub classics that are elevated with the addition of some tasty improvements.
Christina’s (surprisingly large) T bone, which is perfectly cooked by the way – instead of coming with mash or chips and gravy is plated with new potatoes, broccolini and a rich red wine glaze.
These little touches give the dish not only that little extra unexpected boost, but also that much tastier.
I’ve ordered the southern fried chicken burger and this monster almost defeats me. It’s enormous – but I’m still not regretting those spring rolls earlier.
The chicken is tender and the coating is well-seasoned. All the flavours work well together and the fries are excellent too. The burger also has a crunchy slaw with it and lots of pickles.
I was hoping the pickles would cut through the richness of this filling dish, but they’re not quite sharp enough. But that’s the only criticism I can really think of.
I eye the dessert menu nervously, worrying that my belly will envelop the table and start eating people like The Blob. I cautiously ask for a hot chocolate.
Christina orders a very sensible affogato – and then makes it ‘cheeky’ with a shot of frangelico! That’s m’girl.
Both the hot chocolate and the affogato are accomplished and beautifully presented, which again asserts this venue as a great daytime cafe option too.
The coffee the barista uses is from the Grounds and the biscotti they serve is the real thing as well.
Blake Street Kitchen is full of elegant little touches you’d never have seen in a club a few years ago. Art on the walls, plants in boxes and a space that’s clearly had a modern design team work on it.
These details make the Kogarah Clubhouse a place that people want to come to. While we’re having dinner, the almost full house has a real mix of people. From families out for dinner to couples like us having a romantic meal. There’s also a group of four young women getting together for a few drinks and a laugh.
It’s great to see the club getting the use it was designed for. And the value you get for your money is even more impressive.
We’re pleased to see not everything has changed here though. The museum next to the bar is a haunting yet fascinating reminder of the conflicts that inspired these clubs in the first place.
The collection of war memorabilia and paraphernalia – from both Allied and Axis forces – here is impressive and worth stopping to look at.
Kogarah Clubhouse is in a great location with plenty of street parking (free after 6pm) and even close to a train station. Make sure you get off at Carlton not Kogarah though. Save yourself 10 minutes’ walk!
This morning, I’m extremely excited. Christina and I are going on a seaplane.
I’ve wanted to go on one of these since I was a kid. The idea of taking off and landing on the water really appeals for some reason. So today, we’re off to Sydney Seaplanes for a scenic flight around the harbour.
Check out our quick video of our scenic flight here:
Sydney Seaplanes is right next to one of Sydney’s most renown restaurants, Catalina’s in Rose Bay.
Catalina’s gets its name from this type of plane by the way. It was the nickname for the PBY ‘flying boat’ used by the Americans in WWII.
Our flight takes us out of the harbour east and then south over Bondi Beach. From there, we fly back over Watsons Bay and Taronga Zoo until we’re face to face with the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.
It’s only 15 minutes, but it feels like an hour. So exciting, so interesting and definitely one of the best ways you can see this beautiful city.
You can book your experience through Viator and they handle all the details making your trip even easier. They even send you a ticket you can save to your phone’s wallet along with your other online boarding passes.
The special pop-up interactive ‘Explore your Horizon’ exhibition featuring Aquabumps’ amazing photography and Cape Mantelle’s delicious range of wines is at North Bondi Surf Lifesavers Club in Sydney from 3rd-5th April 2020 and is free.
However, you need to book your free tickets as space is limited. Don’t miss out.
Photography and wine; a match made in heaven.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this Weekly Edition.
Cheers – Jim & Christina xx