Tag Archives: Sydney

Sixpenny

19 Feb

Last Sunday, we went to Sixpenny restaurant, a little neighbourhood restaurant at Stanmore, which happens to be walking distance from Greg and Simone’s place.  We chose this spot to celebrate Greg’s sister’s birthday.  Incidentally, she was not with us but we celebrated her birthday anyway J.  This restaurant is a one hat rated restaurant, with the owner / chefs having worked at El Bulli (Ferran Adria), Noma (Rene Redzepi) and a host of other well known restaurants.  We chose the eight course tasting menu and matching wines – it seemed silly not to take advantage of the proximity of the restaurant and the fact that we could walk home!

The first “course” was in fact a number of little snacks, the first of which was salt and vinegar chips accompanied by herb cream.

Salt and vinegar crisps

Salt and vinegar crisps

 

The herbs were sourced from the restaurant’s back garden and seemed to be dominated by tarragon, which, although unusual, wasn’t at all unpleasant.  Sticking to the pub tradition, this was matched with LOBO Norman cloudy cider which was surprisingly tasty – I didn’t think I would enjoy the cider as I dislike anything approaching beer – it was delicious, fruity tasting and quite easy on the palate.

Next up was carrot juice with droplets of olive oil.  Both Simone and I thought we could smell something slightly fishy but suspect it was the olive oil.  This was perfectly tasty if a bit virtuous, which considering everything heading into our stomachs, was probably necessary.

Carrot juice

Carrot juice

 

We then had another small snack of mini-english muffins with cured pork jowl.  These were served warm.  The pork was salty and like a cross between ham and bacon, the muffins warm and soft.  The carrot juice was already a distant memory.

Mini pork muffins

Mini pork muffins

 

Of the little snacks, my favourite was the potato scallops.  To call them deep fried mashed potatoes would not do them justice.  These tiny bits of pre-lunch fun were crispy, light, fresh and salty.

Potato scallops

Potato scallops

 

The second course (as opposed to snack) was salted cucumber with butter milk whey and tomato essence matched with chilled sake.  Hmmm.  A Cucumber course?  This was my least favourite course.  I found the dish bland, despite the complications of using tomato essence. It seemed like a large waste of time for very little resulting flavour.  On the positive side, the sake was a very good match for cucumbers.

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

 

Crab with macadamia and chamomile.  This dish was lovely but disappointing only in so far as I had been led to believe that it was out of this world.  It certainly was good but not outrageously so.  I thought the dish slightly overpowered by the addition of macadamia shavings.  Simone and Greg who had been here before thought that it was better and more balanced the last time they had it.

Crab and Macadamia nuts

Crab and Macadamia nuts

 

This course was matched by Warramate Riesling of 2011, which I found quite tart as it was slightly young.

Grilled carrot, with toasted hazelnuts, mascarpone and toasted whey was delicious and fun, with the hazelnuts complementing the “beurre noisette” effect of the toasted whey.

Grilled carrots

Grilled carrots

 

On balance, though, I found the dish slightly too acidic and overpowered by hazelnuts.  This was served with a Sauvignon Semillon blend from the Yarra valley (Yarra Yarra’s Phoenix of 2009.)  In 2009, the Yarra Yarra vineyards burnt down and this wine was made from Sauvignon Blanc from neighbouring vineyards and Semillon donated by De Bortoli).

Greg’s favourite dish was the Coorong mullet, John Dory roe, ginger leaf, beurre blanc / hollandaise and sweet potato leaf.  This was a lovely, lovely dish which we continued to think about (and talk about), long after we had finished eating and left the restaurant.  The gentle bitterness of the greens, the creaminess of the butter sauce, crunchiness of the Roe and the delicious and well cooked fish flesh all combined to make this dish a real star.

Coorong Mullet

Coorong Mullet

This was served with Muller-Catoir gerwurtztraminer (gutswein), which similar to Italian IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) wines, have stepped down a classification or so, in order to allow more freedom in winemaking.  (Usually, in order to achieve a classification in Europe, strict rules regarding trees grown per hectare, irrigation, grape varieties allowed must be adhered to.) This wine was fruity and fun and not too challenging to the palate yet had good acidity and minerality. It matched the fish well and had the added bonus of being low in alcohol at 11.5% and was therefore not too destructive.

My favourite dish was the Crisp pork cheek – a little additional extra – as if we needed it! This comprised deliciously crisped pork skin on a well cooked and soft piece of pork cheek.  This dish was accompanied by a jus which was a good balance of sweet and sour (it apparently included a cider reduction), roasted garlic cloves which were soft, sweet and strong and crunchy roasted macadamia nuts. This dish was a triumph, so much so that I refused to let them take my plate until I had mopped up every last lick of the sauce with the homemade sourdough bread.

Pork cheek

Pork cheek

 

This was served with a big oakey old school Chardonnay (1997, Bannockburn), which was not really my thing (i.e. I didn’t like it) but it was classily made.

The final savoury dish was leg of lamb served with sweet onion jus, onion sprouts and wild spinach.  This was quite a delicious dish but the sous vide cooking of the lamb leg left it a bit chewy for my liking.  This dish was served with a 2008 Malbec, from the Bloodwood vineyard of Orange in New South Wales, a perfectly drinkeable wine.

Leg of lamb

Leg of lamb

 

The first of the palate cleansers was a floral milk sorbet.  While this dish was attractively presented, it was way too creamy and flowery and really missed the point of a palate cleanser.

Milk and flower sorbet

Floral milk sorbet

 

The second palate cleanser was strawberry ice served with fennel leaves and sour cream sorbet.  This was simple fruit filled yet light dish.  It was matched with a low alcohol (8%) Bugey-Cerdon sparkling rose Gamay from Eastern France.  While I think it is unusual to match iced desserts (and soup as well), flavour-wise, this sparkling wine with its strawberry overtones worked well.

Strawberry granita with sparkling rose

Strawberry granita with sparkling rose

 

The final two desserts were an apricot tart with mead ice-cream, apricot and meringue tuiles;

Apricot and meringue

Apricot and meringue

 

and sweet potato scallops with sticky rhubarb.

Sweet potato scallops and sticky rhubarb

Sweet potato scallops and sticky rhubarb

 

These were matched with a honeyed dessert wine with some acid overtones.  These were some of the better desserts that I had had on my travels but like many desserts that I have had in London were not as spectacular as the mains.  I would also be wary of serving potato scallops twice on a menu, even if one is sweet and one is savoury.

Dinner was finished with a selection of cookies with coffee.

This was certainly a pleasant eating choice with lots of fun and some delicious bits.  I loved the way at Sixpenny, there is a desire to make interesting dishes with vegetables and to use their very own herb garden and locally sourced produce.

Sixpenny's herb garden

Sixpenny’s herb garden

 

The service here was exemplary.  The main “fault” that I could find with this restaurant, and admittedly it is minor, was its desire to be a little too clever with everything which could get a little tiring – it is after all a meal and not an actuarial seminar.  Like Tetsuya’s, I would give this 8 out of 10.  While Tetsuya’s (8) edged it on food, the service at Sixpenny was streets ahead.

Note, however, that Sixpenny was Greg’s choice, as he found it a more entertaining, fun meal.

Sydney’s beaches

8 Feb

Sydney

After a memorable week in Melbourne, I left for Sydney to stay with Simone and Greg in Petersham, just round the corner from Parramatta road. There I met their sons, Jack (6) and Sam (4) and began to drink my way through Greg’s cellar.

Simone and Sam

Simone and Sam

 

Jack

Jack

On our first night, we drank d’Arenberg’s Dead Arm Shiraz (2000) and Grosset’s Polish Hill Riesling (2001).

d'Arenberg's Dead Arm Shiraz (2000) and Grosset's Polish Hill Riesling (2001)

d’Arenberg’s Dead Arm Shiraz (2000) and Grosset’s Polish Hill Riesling (2001)

The Beach

The next morning, Simone and I went to the beach. We started at Bronte and walked passed Tamarama (derived from the aboriginal name “Gamma Gamma”) to Bondi. This is the Bondi to Bronte coast walk in reverse. The cliff top paths enable great views of the beaches below and several people were walking and jogging that route. All of the Sydney beaches were closed that day –there were floods in Queensland and New South Wales and the waves were really rough. That didn’t stop the surfers at Tamarama from heading out to the surf. Now, bear in mind that Tamarama is a beach with a lot of rocks just under the water and at both sides of its mouth and therefore, quite possibly not easy to surf at the best of times – you have to surf across the wave and stop before coming right to the beach and then paddle back out. The waves were rough as heck, yet some guys were diving off of the rocks into the surf. I have seen surfers do this in Cornwall, where I had assumed that they did not know what they were doing. It was explained to me that there is a current which, when you catch it at the right time (i.e. when there are no waves coming in for a little while), will pull you away from the rocks and you can then paddle out past the break point. I have to admit that it looked terrifying to watch.
Having forgotten my camera, I went back to the beaches a week later and through a few parks on the way. We stopped at was Queen’s Park, where people were insanely jogging in the midday sun, covered with sun cream.

Queen's Park

Queen’s Park

Bronte beach, our next stop, was a lot calmer than last week.

Bronte Beach

Bronte Beach

We stopped at Tamarama, again.

Tamarama

Tamarama

It was low tide and the beach was still closed. Again that did not stop the surfers.

Surfing at Tamarama

Surfing at Tamarama

The waves were not as spectacular, nor the surfers as good. I learnt that when the beaches are closed as they were last week, the surf schools cancel lessons. The surf instructors take the opportunity to surf, themselves, which explains the difference in quality. The low tide made entering from the rocks impossible. This didn’t stop one (fool) hardy soul from thinking about it though.

Fool Hardy

Fool Hardy

We went along to Cloverley next, where we admired the bathing pools.

Cloverley beach

Cloverley beach

Finally we ended up at Coogee, where we had lunch and walked the beach.

Coogee

Coogee

Adriano Zumbo

We stopped at Adriano Zumbo’s (http://adrianozumbo.com) new store just before leaving the coast. We bought chocolate brownies and Smartie/Milkshake macarons for the boys, a Dirty Dani (salted caramel, milk chocolate, passion fruit and hazelnut) for Simone and a Bastard Cake (blackcurrant, coffee, peanut and salted caramel) for me. Sam loved the smartie macaron which left his lips blue. I thought the “bastard cake” was way too busy and discordant. It could easily have been split into three different desserts. The technique and flavours were good but perhaps not all together. It was a bit gimmicky.

 

Centurion Park

On our way back home, we went past the SCG, where I will go to watch cricket later today, and through Centurion Park.

Centurion Park

Centurion Park