Category Archives: Uncategorized

Earth Hour – Planet to Plate Cookbook – Recipes to save the world

Earth Hour is one of Australia’s proudest exports, an initiative that challenges us to think about the effects of global warming on our society. This year, Earth Hour is focusing on the effect global warming has on our rural communities. As the daughter of a third generation sheep farmer, this issue has certainly struck home. How many times have we all walked into a supermarket or local green grocer and not thought twice about where it all comes from? We are all guilty of taking for granted where our fresh food comes from. We are all out of touch with what is happening with our farmers’ soil, their irrigation and how extreme temperatures affect their yield rates.

Planet to Plate: The Earth Hour Cookbook is a collection of 52 amazing recipes from Australia’s biggest culinary names.

Planet to Plate: The Earth Hour Cookbook is a collection of 52 amazing recipes from Australia’s biggest culinary names.

To change this, and as part of the Earth Hour initiative, Aussie farmers and chefs have collaborated to create Planet to Plate, a gorgeous cookbook with 52 recipes contributed by personalities such as Matt Preston, Neil Perry, Luke Mangan, Kylie Kwong, Guy Grossi, Darren Robertson, Colin Fassnidge, James Viles, Jill Dupleix, Miguel Maestre, Margaret Fulton, Dan Hong and Sarah Wilson.

Beyond recipes such as Luke Mangan’s pea and fennel risotto and Jill Dupleix’s sashimi salad and passionfruit and wasabi, Planet to Plate also incorporates first-hand stories from Australian farmers, highlighting the impact global warming is having on their farms and the nation’s supply of fresh, home-grown food.

The event to launch this cookbook was generously held in the stunning surrounds of Luke Mangan’s Mojo Wine Bar on Danks Street.

To support this cause, purchase your book online here:
https://earthhour.org.au/cookbook-purchase/

Anna Lisle

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Sydney says yes to Sake Double Bay

Shaun Presland’s name may be behind this venture, but the star chef is not in the kitchen. Instead, he has handed the reins to talented import Min Kim, who turns out some of the most accomplished Japanese food in the city.

In Japan, you don’t go to a restaurant for ‘Japanese’, you go to a specific restaurant that serves only one type of dish; ramen, sushi, tempura, izakaya, robata, yakitori, soba, tonkatsu, shabu-shabu or teppanyaki. Rarely are any of these two dishes served in the one place, and if they are served together, I probably wouldn’t eat there. I’m on the conservative end of the foodie spectrum; almost always preferring a classic dish, as opposed to a modern interpretation and the same applies to staying true to a cuisine. In Australia, we don’t follow Japanese tradition; we start with sashimi, a cold soba salad, perhaps a few mouthfuls of sushi before venturing into crunchy morsels of tempura, followed by robata and yakitori skewers. And, I’m so happy we do and dinner at Sake reminds us why we are so lucky that this is the case.

The robata grill steals the show; baby beetroot, feta yoghurt and tomato relish

The robata grill steals the show; baby beetroot, feta yoghurt and tomato relish

Chef Min Kim delivers on all fronts; from delicate slices of sashimi from the sushi counter and simple tempura vegetables to textural salads and perfectly balanced mains, but, it is the robata grill that steals the show. Heated to 700°C, the cooking process is to steam, smoke and grill, all at once. The end result is nothing short of brilliance. Stalks of Peruvian white asparagus are charred and smoky, with just the right amount of crunch, sprinkled with flakes of bonito. The braised shortrib falls off the skewer and, I’m exaggerating (but only slightly), the meat dissolves on the tongue. Lamb chops are served with a wasabi chimichurri while corn is charred and lathered in a spiced shiso butter.

Give the chef at the sushi counter your budget and let the team design you a menu

Give the chef at the sushi counter your budget and let the team design you a menu

At any restaurant, on any day, there are a handful of dishes that I will always order. Glacier 51 Toothfish is one of them. Years of illegal fishing has meant that this gloriously oily and flavoursome fish, also known as Patagonian Toothfish, has been off the menu. Only in the past few years, after the endangered species was managed in a sustainable way, has this prized fish popped back up in kitchens, with Sake Double Bay being one of them. Min treats the toothfish with the respect that a fish, that can live up to 50 years and weigh in at over 100 kilograms, deserves.

Anna Lisle

Sake Double Bay 

Fassnidge’s Four in Hand Dining Room

Best Restaurants Senior Editor Anna Lisle visits hatted Paddington restaurant, the Four in Hand Dining Room, owned by Sydney-based Chef Colin Fassnidge.

At 9pm on a Saturday night, the Four in Hand is heaving. Clusters of well-heeled locals smoke Malboro Lights on the footpath while their mates nurse bottles of ice cold schooners of a local froth, eyes glued to the TV as they watch the Aussies sledge the poms into submission. This isn’t a particularly busy Saturday night, in fact, on any given weekend, the Four in Hand is a home away from home for many Paddington locals, myself included. It’s one of the few pubs that hasn’t been revamped; ask a Four in Hand regular what it looks like, and all you’ll get out of them is a story about the last time they were there.

The Four in Hand Dining Room received One Chef Hat in the 2015 SMH Good Food Guide

The Four in Hand Dining Room received One Chef Hat in the 2015 SMH Good Food Guide

This is the entrance to the hatted Four in Hand dining room, where Head Chef and owner Colin Fassnidge rules the roost. He’s arguably more commonly recognised for his hardline persona on My Kitchen Rules however, in the food world, he’s Australia’s answer to Fergus Henderson. The menu is dotted with pigs tails, marrow and pigs trotters but Fassnidge has finetuned each dish to ensure that each dish isn’t just appealing to the offal-friendly. In fact, the pork- and potato-heavy menu is just as appealing and exciting to lenient pescetarians.

Leave room for dessert, Fassnidge's menu is one of the best in Sydney

Leave room for dessert, Fassnidge’s menu is one of the best in Sydney

Pickled strawberries are paired with a duo of cured and raw tuna however, it’s dishes such as his DIY bone marrow that make your meal a memorable one. An Irish ‘san choy bao’, diners are encouraged to scoop spoonfuls of crab, avocado and flecks of macadamia out of a roasted bone marrow and onto raw sorrel leaves. There’s quite a knack to it, trying to get as much marrow juice into each mouthful without dripping it on the tablecloth. Don’t let this put you off because the more marrow, the better. Corned beef may have gained popularity during the World Wars, when fresh meat was rationed, but there’s nothing that reminds one of canned bully beef in this dish. Laced in bresaola, hunks of slightly salted beef fall apart with a fork, topped with grated fresh buffalo curd. It’s hard to avoid any of Colin’s pig dishes but on this occasion, we push the boundaries with a 12 hour braised lamb shoulder, and Hiramasa kingfish in a clam and tomato stock. Our decision pays off, we will venture into other four-legged and fin varieties on future visits because there are at least four mains we didn’t try and if they’re anything like we’ve had before, we will leave as very happy customers.

Anna Lisle

Four in Hand Dining Room 

The food of Italy

There is no other cuisine like it, it is served everywhere and its taste is such that it satisfies the rich and the poor; it is the food of Italy. Wherever you go, to all the four corners of the earth, you will find an Italian restaurant. It may be just a simple nook in a wall in the centre of Sicily or in a grand signature restauant in an international hotel, such as the Shangri-La in Jakarta, in Indonesia. Italian restaurants have turned the preparation of food into an art form, to romance gourmands and bonvivants. The skill to turn produce into seductive succulent dishes was a gift from God to the people of Italy…Italians were born lucky!

Most people identify Italian food with its main protagonists…pasta and pizza, with the latter being one of the best examples of food ‘on the go’. What started as a simple snack for the people on the streets of Naples has now become a culinary superstar…you can find it anywhere, you can even see Chinese people in Shanghai eating pizza with chopsticks. Italian cuisine however, owes its largest favour to Spain, as it was its Conquistadors who introduced a plant from South America to Europe. The tomato became a fundamental staple in the preparation of food in Italy. The people regarded the fruit with such esteem that they called it ‘Pomodoro’, which translates into ‘golden apple’…how appropriate to name a fruit after a famous seduction.

Italy

The preparation of food in Italy became an endeavour for the nation as a whole, starting with the Bacchanalian orgies of the Roman gentry through to the magical cuisine of Bartolomeo Scappi, the grand chef to kings and popes of the 16th century. What is perceived to be food of a whole nation is actually many different types of regional cuisines. Different climates and locations offer different produce. The dry lands of Calabria, that entertain the growth of olives and wine are very different to the rice fields that surround the river Po in the Veneto region. The hills of Tuscany are renowned for the raffia wrapped bottles of Chianti, a red wine that is synonymous with the very identity of the country.

The food of the country is as varied as the colours of the rainbow. The red hues of tomatoes, the colour of the golden corn that makes the pasta in some 80 different shapes and the rice that is grown, such as Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano, that  is fundamental to the making of risotto, makes the country’s cuisine unique. The variety of dishes are a true representation of the colourful people that inhabit the boot of Europe. The invasion of the country, through many centuries, has seen great influences in what people ate then and what is now being eaten all over the world. The Middle Eastern influence and the bountiful sea has seen the southern part of the country produce dishes of allure and temptation. Spaghettini with bottarga and the stuffed veal roasts are all enhanced by bright red little peppers…peppers that were made to rush you towards a fire extinguisher for your throat. Walking north, along the Appian way introduces you to the lands of the region of Lazio, that part of the country that has been the centre of the world…that eternal city…Rome. That city forged by pagans, then taken over by God, has it it’s own distinct cuisine. Saltainbocca Alla Romana, the artichokes of the Jewish community are all there to contribute to the daily table, to make your mouth water.

Keep travelling north to further enhance the pleasure of the palate. The food of Florence is unique, it is a response to that everlasting request to make men and women happy…to satiate their hunger…to give pleasure to the olfactory glands..The food of Tuscany is renowned…the region is in itself a cooking school of envy…it’s food is bliss! It is not a unique dish, it is not even a gastronomic mind bender…it is not just a steak! Bistecca Alla Fiorentina is a vegetarian’s nightmare! It is just a huge slab of meat! Gigantic steaks from specially bred white oxen from Chianina near Arezzo, is the fundamental beef for this famous meat dish that is synonymous with Florentine cuisine. The piece of meat, a cut that just barely fits onto a large plate, is cooked simply, so as to enhance the flavour. It is not one of those small cuts of meat that are barbecued in so many backyard gardens in the Antipodes, cooked and turned into veritable charcoal, where the only solace of flavour is found in a sauce bottle.

But let us get back to the meat of the matter. Bistecca Alla Fiorentina is as iconic as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Pyramids of Giza and the Sydney Opera House….the main thing is that ‘La Bistecca’ is arguably more recognisable. This carnivor’s delight is cooked quickly and served very rare, with the cooking done on a steel grate above charcoal, the timing purely depending on the thickness of the meat. The cut is Porterhouse, the meat dressing a wedge of lemon, the side dish or ‘contorni’ is usually a simple salad. No other tastes are proffered with this dish…the meat is what it is all about. This dish is the star attraction of the many restaurants in Florence.

Would you line up for hours to see Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia or Bellini’s Birth Of Venus at the Uffizi, or would you really prefer to attack ‘La Bistecca’ with gusto? I will leave that decision to the reader. You may regret making the wrong decision as Bistecca Alla Fiorentina is not just a steak!

Paolo Tavuzzi, International Food Writer

Florence, 12 September 2014
Paul

 

How to Score Great Dining Deals for Less

Gone are the days when the definition of a good meal was food that simply kept people’s bellies full. Food culture is on the rise, with the huge success of food shows, foodie websites and food festivals; few people can say that a delicious meal doesn’t make their day! And of course, a good dining experience is made all the more enticing if a great discount or reduced price can be enjoyed. Here’s how to score some of the best dining deals in town.

Browse coupon and daily deals websites for dining specials
Websites such as scoupon.com.au, coupon.com.au, cudo.com.au and livingsocial.com.au are chock full of dining discounts and deals. Now and then you’ll find a real gem at a lauded local restaurant or a hot new bar or pub. For instance, you can have lunch or dinner at a great discount at Watts on Crown in Surry Hills.

The best time to scout around for deals is the lull between major holiday seasons like Christmas and Easter. Put yourself on their mailing lists if you don’t mind receiving regular promotional emails as it’s a great way to be the first to find out about the latest deals.

Take advantage of food festivals
All year round, food festivals all over Australia celebrate specific dishes, cast the spotlight on up and coming restaurants and tantalise hungry visitors with exciting degustation menus.

If you’re keen to try new cuisines and tastes and want the luxurious experience of dining at upmarket restaurants without breaking the bank, take advantage of food festivals such as Taste of Melbourne, as well as Good Food Month, which spans the entire month of October each year and is Australia’s biggest food festival.

During Good Food Month, top local and international chefs, restaurants, producers and food and wine experts descend upon the city in a four week-long culinary fiesta. If you’ve always wanted to sample the set menu at establishments such as The Star’s signature Sydney restaurants, Balla, Black and Sokyo, now it is your chance to score mouth-watering lunch menus for $38 only.

Sokyo at The Star

Sokyo at The Star

Scout out deals and packages if you’re attending a show or tour
Lots of restaurants located near major entertainment venues or in tourist precincts participate in tie-ups or offer specific deals that can save you time and money.

If you’re taking in a performance at the Sydney Opera House, enjoy a range of pre-show and dinner offers before and after the show. Likewise, catch a performance at the Sydney Lyric theatre or a concert at the Star Event Centre and enjoy fantastic pre-show dining offers.

At The Rocks, the Sydney precinct located right next to many famous attractions such as the Harbour Bridge climb, Luna Park and various museums, local hotels offer excellent packages such as the enticing Stay and Dine Package at Boutique Hotel Harbour Rocks, including accommodation, a hearty breakfast and dinner. Melbournians can enjoy a special Italian pre-show dinner package throughout the entire opera season at Tram Bar, which turns into an Italian pizzeria just for the occasion.  Australia’s major cities are home to many irresistible food and beverage establishments, and deals and offers that enable diners to enjoy discounts at all types of eateries from casual cafes to fine dining restaurants abound. So keep your eyes peeled and always be on the alert for fantastic deals and packages.

 

 

 

Best Restaurants has relaunched!!

We’ve been telling you for months “the best is yet to come” and now, it’s here with a fresh design, new features and a faster interface! The NEW Best Restaurants is not only easier to use, but it’s jam-packed with Top 10 features, the latest restaurants, hole-in-the-wall bars and quirky cafes. With our new “Where the Best Chefs Eat”, we’ve gone straight to the experts – the chefs themselves—to discover their favourite spots for everything from big breakfasts to late-night feasts.

Best Restaurants is better than ever

Best Restaurants is better than ever

Our favourite bloggers also give us their insider tips to their best kept secrets and special occasion dining. Plus, our team of foodie experts will deliver weekly top 10 articles covering all the important issues, like where do you find Sydney’s top 10 steaks or the best meals for under $20?

Our monthly newsletters will continue to bring you the latest restaurants specials and events, including private dining and Christmas function features, and of course, fab foodie competitions and giveaways. To enter our current competition to go in the draw to win a cookbook by Billy Law, click here.

Our new features include Where The Best Chefs Eat, Where the Best Bloggers Eat and Top 10

Our new features include Where The Best Chefs Eat, Where the Best Bloggers Eat and Top 10

The new website is a work in progress, so bear with us but if there’s anything you love or perhaps something you’d like to see more of, please drop us a line at anna@bestrestaurants.com.au.

Check out the new Best Restaurants here- happy browsing!

Guillame kicking goals in Paddington

In rugby union, as in many sports, a player’s experience is measured in caps. The more caps, the more experienced the player. It may well be finals season, but why bring up footy when we’re talking about one Sydney’s most anticipated restaurant openings in years? Well, this was the analogy used by Guillaume to explain his team at Paddington. With two-thirds of his ‘team’ having migrated from Bennelong, Guillaume says that while most of his ‘players’ have hundreds of caps he also has a number of débutantes to the test-arena that is Paddington’s newest fine dining destination. Despite the team’s varied experience, everyone has come together and coach-Guillaume feels as though they’ve been together for seasons, not the meagre 6 weeks that they have.

At home in his new venue

At home in his new venue

I had a soft spot for Darcy’s, with its gilt-framed paintings and old-world charm but Guillaume has slipped into this Hargrave Street institution and transformed it into something truly magical. It feels like a Parisian version of a beach house in the Hamptons with its Pierre Frey wallpaper and gold trimmings. Then there’s the food. Degustation menus don’t really excite me, but Guillaume’s did. I didn’t have the stamina (or deep enough pockets) for the eight-course menu but the abbreviated four-course version took me on a journey that I will remember for quite some time and one that can only be achieved through a degustation.

I could have stopped at the amuse bouche of spanner crab and avocado, served in a petite pastel-hued mud ceramic. As the cold starter, the Saikou salmon with wasabi and apple sets the scene for what is to come. I’m not sure if I can taste that the salmon has been hand-fed in the southern alps of New Zealand or that the fish are bred in cold water, all year round, between 6°C to 16°C. The salmon, however, cuts like butter and at this point I’m willing to believe anything. The squid tagliatelle is a seafood-lover’s delight with scampi, oysters and mussels, topped with a charred leek and beurre blanc.

Chestnut dessert

Chestnut dessert

Each dish is a reminder of why you shouldn’t mess with classic techniques and flavour combinations. It’s the small things that make the experience at Guillaume. The complimentary sparkling mineral water and Iggy’s breadrolls. The pastel hued Mud Australia dinnerware and the blue Murano glass chandeliers that have come directly from antique markets in Paris. The waiters, that have mastered the act of being attentive without being overbearing, and the presence of Guillaume himself, who greets each table in the same manner that you’d expect he’d greet his own friends, at the end of service.

Anna Lisle

Guillaume

Everything happens for a reason

With the Best Restaurants of Australia offices just around the corner, I’ve walked past Sydney-institution, Harry’s Singapore Chilli Crab Restaurant what feels like a thousand times, though I never set foot inside. I have to admit, I was disappointed when it was replaced by Surry Hills Eating House, the latest restaurant to join popular Thai group, Spice I Am. What do they say? You want what you can’t have? All of a sudden, after three years of walking past, morning and night, I was craving a huge bowl of Singapore chilli crab, doused in that sticky, sweet and salty sauce.

Pork floss with ginger, chilli and Chinese broccoli leaves

Pork floss with ginger, chilli and Chinese broccoli leaves

Adamant not to make the same mistake again, I made a vow to visit Harry’s replacement and did so in its second week of opening. It was a cold, rainy Monday and the clock had just struck 6pm. Most Sydneysiders had thrown in their gym towels or cancelled dinner plans, just to get home, don their trackies and curl up for a juicy episode of The Bachelor. That is, everyone except those dining at Surry Hills Eating House. I was expecting a ghost-town though to my surprise, Surry Hills Eating House was packed.

Phuket style curry chicken with masala and roasted coconut

Phuket style curry chicken with masala and roasted coconut

The mieng ka naor is a Thai-version of san choy bau with crispy pork floss and Chinese broccoli leaves, used instead of iceberg lettuce cups. It’s “same, same but different” and when I say “different”, it is different in a very good and special way. There’s just the right amount of chilli to wake up sleepy tastebuds and although the dish doesn’t have an oyster or soy-based sauce that is often found in Chinese restaurants, it isn’t dry but rather accentuates the punchof green chilli, ginger and eschalot. Don’t get confused; pad thua is not pad thai. This stir-fried green bean dish is topped with a rich sauce of southern curry paste and dried shrimp. The salty, sweet and sour flavours of the dish fight for attention like depraved reality television stars. If you’re not a fan of shrimp paste, perhaps stick with the gai pae sa (a spicier version of Hainanese chicken) and the gaeng pla neung. (Southern style bar cod fillet, Thai black mushroom and betel leaf); both of which are phenomenal. I mightn’t have dined at Harry’s Singapore Chilli Crab Restaurant but I’ll happily make up for it but dining at Surry Hills Eating House regularly. I just wish I didn’t have to walk past it every night because, like most foodies, I haven’t got much self-control.

Anna Lisle
Surry Hills Eating House

Congratulations Cuckoo Callay

Just outside Newtown Station, Cuckoo Callay is a newcomer in the trendy Inner West scene. Inspired by the playful and whimsical nature of Lewis Caroll’s ‘Jabberwocky’ poem, Cuckoo Callay cleverly utilises their space and ties in numerous design elements to create a quirky and relaxed cafe environment.

Ricotta hotcakes

Ricotta hotcakes

The Instagram worthy “Hashtag Brown” is a proven favourite, the  crispy potato hash brown is topped with an oozing poached egg and accompanied with pea puree, wedges of avocado and your choice of bacon steak, house cured salmon or grilled haloumi. While I’m satiated, there’s no way I can turn down a delicious salted caramel thickshake. At this point, I didn’t think it physically possible to eat any more, however one bite into the triple chocolate brownie served with icecream and I am reminded of why they say dessert is a second stomach – it is quickly demolished.

Triple chocolate brownie

Triple chocolate brownie

Owners Ella & Ibby’s attention to detail is not only apparent in the carefully constructed cafe menu, but in the modern and chic decor too. The walls are brightly painted, the mirrored walls create the illusion of a larger space and a custom-made cuckoo clock hanging from the ceiling befittingly cuckoos every hour. Cuckoo Callay offers convenience for local commuters on the lookout for delicious coffee and other takeaway options. For everybody else, sit back and enjoy amazing cafe food with a freshly squeezed juice or a cheeky “cuckootail” or two.

Jenny Wang

Cuckoo Callay 

The Cliff Dive opens underground tuckshop Yurippi

Who would have thought a Papuan dancehall-cum-bar could be such a hit? Having won over Sydney’s clubbing scene, Cliff Dive co-owners Alex Dowd, Jeremy Blackmore and Russell Martin are set to tap into another demographic; our foodies.

“We’re constantly on the lookout for ways to improve The Cliff Dive experience. And the best way we figure is to make the experience last longer" says Alex Dowd

Yurippi is the name of Cliff Dive’s new yakitori eating house

As you descend the stairs of Cliff Dive, get ready to be transported to a place that’s warm and tropical, despite the lack of a white sandy beach. To compliment its beach island vibe, complete with bowls of pineapples and a legit Bali long boat as the backbar, Cliff Dive now offers “yurippi” – South East Asian inspired skewers. The chef, referred to as “Honky”, fell in love with yakitori after spending some time in Japan and this is exactly what you’ll now discover at our favourite Darlinghurst themed bar. With ingredients sourced from local Thai grocers, each skewer has its own unique marinade, with standouts including the wild ginger beef, turmeric lemongrass pork and chilli octopus. Teamed with some house-pickled vegetables and pandan coconut rice, you won’t even have to go via Hungry Jacks just across the road for a midnight feast.

Anna Lisle