Bridge Room

A friend and I decided to have a healthy month, which included her starting work outs (I’d been going F45 for about two weeks at that stage I think).  She also somehow shoehorned me into Dry July a few bottles of wine in too… And we settled on an ‘end of month’ reward being a fine dining meal at The Bridge Room.  I’m no stranger to some fancy fine dining, so of course I was in.

Rose sake cocktail

Awkwardly, I was about 30 minutes EARLY for the reservation and my friends.  So I broke Dry July with a great cocktail.  I love when you can’t taste the harshness of alcohol, and this was definitely easily drinkable!!  I did feel completely slack using my phone in a fine diner, but I was alone, and a drinks menu isn’t captivating reading for that long!

Raw fish I’d never heard of (Emperador) with smoked white eggplant
Raw wagyu shoulder

The above dish was a little tricky to cut, with the raw meat, and even the mushrooms (enoki).  This was a clearly Japanese inspired meal, but the decor was largely Scandinavian.

Murray cod cooked with butter

The puddle it’s on is black vinegar, and aged pancetta on top.  We weren’t loving seeing the translucent fat on the pancetta!

Ash grilled duck with prunes, burnt apple and canele

 

An enjoyable sweetness to this dish (and I AM a sweet tooth), but I wouldn’t say I’m a duck fan like some.  My father drools at the thought I think!

Bring on the desserts:

Whipped black sesame (not actually ice cream)

The vertical column was melon, and quite tart compared an otherwise very sweet dish.

Honey pear, burnt bread, pear butter, muscovado sugar, candied pear, lace biscuit

This was delicious, although one of our table of three missed it being served, and the habit of them explaining the dish.  A misstep for a fine dining resturant.

Petit fours

One of the fabulous things about fine dining with set menus is that ‘six courses’ was seven course with a petit fours.  So, BONUS!  There was a jelly like thing there,  and I have no recollection of what the ball was!

It has the top accolades with 3 hats, but I have to say, it didn’t feel three hats.  I’m not sure if I’m jaded in all my experience? I’m not for a minute saying it was horrible.  Just it lacked sparkle or something perhaps?

Last minute upgrade

Right after arriving in Amsterdam, Qatar Airways emailed with an offer to upgrade on either return sector of my flights.  Well timed – send that email when the pain of long haul is FRESH!  So I decided to take up the offer for the 14 hour flight from Doha to Sydney.  Overall, adding this upgrade STILL made my total fare less than what I usually spend to fly to Europe (given it was May, it was cheaper than July/August or around Christmas/New Year when I’ve travelled in the past).

Army planes at Charles de Gaulle – there were a STACK of men in the terminal in uniform and clearly travelling

Doha lounge

Never been SO happy to see a shower – I woke at 5.30am in Paris and skipped a shower, knowing I could get one in the lounge in Doha
This cannot even compare to my hostel sink the night before!
Oh what a shower! Though, I couldn’t get it cold enough!
Lounge area with refelctive pool
Lounge meal – from self serve buffet
The day’s cocktail, something with honey
Lounge desserts
Date cake post tongs. I really think some one needs to let Qatar know about cake slices (the utensil)
Another section of seats in the HUGE lounge
Section of the lounge known as the ‘Grill’ for sandwiches (and OF COURSE drinks)

Now, on the plane!!

Exited selfie – double chin at no extra cost
Honestly, no one needs a screen this big on a plane
The green stickers near the bottom, MIddle Eastern modesty
Delicious biryani for dinner
A hazelnut and caramel tart with some port before sleep time
Sorry it’s blurry – this is the ‘bar’ for Business class…
Blurry selfie of me in the complimentary PJs
A pre landing sweet snack… cause… why not?

I was well and truly getting a cold, and so my sleep was restless but I can ONLY imagine how much worse I may have felt elsewhere in the plane.

A Heidelberg wedding

Gum and kangaroo’s paw for a nod to Australia

The seed that started my 2017 tour of Europe was an invitation to a wedding in Heidelberg.  J is a friend I’ve had since 1999, when she was a boarding house supervisor and I was a student.  During the intervening years, we’ve both lived in Europe, and in different parts of Australia, but early on we formed a strong friendship via email when she was completing a part of her PhD in Bonn in Germany. When I lived in France in 2006, she was back in Brisbane, Australia, but in 2008 when I returned to France for a three week Women in Engineering conference/summer school, I spent a few days with her in Heidelberg. In late 2010, J visited me in Sydney for a weekend, and quite on a whim, I decided to go to Germany for a white Christmas.  It was a fabulously snowy winter, and I got to meet a number of J’s colleagues and friends.

The married couple

J met her partner T, at work, however returned to work for CSIRO in Melbourne Australia not long after they’d started dating (at least… that’s my recollection!). For a number of years they did a long distance relationship, but J found a job back in Heidelberg and they were reunited. In December last year (2016), T formally proposed, and they set a date of 20 May 2017.

A candid photo…! This was after a long (formal) photography session..

I’ve never attended a German wedding, and J is also quite naturalised as an Australian, so there was some variations on German wedding.  For example, at the reception, games and skit/performances are quite common in German weddings, and this wasn’t largely done.  That only happened to the smallest extent – there was a tub of sand they had to dig through for treasure….  And a projected address from a whole heap of famous Germans (Angela Merkel, a football star, Darth Vader etc) I assume wishing them all the best.

The bridesmaids had to help decide on which shoes; and where to pin the something old & blue
Bridesmaid selfi – me, Karen and Eva-Stina

The wedding ceremony was held in a lovely old church in a monastery.  I was so perplexed being told that the pew decorations were being double sided taped – I’m used to pews having a ‘head’ or something similar, with which one can loop around.  Nope – not these modern, minimalistic pews! And sure enough, at least two arrangements in their glass test tubes did become detached… 🙁 The test tubes were a gentle nod to J’s chemistry background, and I don’t know about T’s studies and work, but perhaps his too.  So much so, at the reception, the lolly table held things in beakers and test tubes in racks.

Lolly table!

It felt like every detail was attended to – in the sense that, it feels like all the lovely things were there, nothing was forgotten or struck off.  Here’s some of the lovely details

  • every pew had a floral decoration (not every second etc)
The quartet is playing 🙂
Pew decorations
Gorgeous sister of the groom’s kids
Final blessing
Page boy awaiting the blessing of the rings
  • plants and little vases to decorate the low stone wall
  • floral napkins to put out with cakes, croissants and quiches for after church
  • a coffee cart, which also poured and distributed champagne (or similar)
  • bikes to cycle between the ceremony and the reception, complete with helmets!
Pre-helmet
Handy panier for my bouquet and clutch
The bridal couple had left, and the entourage was leaving the monastery
  • lace bows for attaching to car antennas (which I made with my room mate); but the florist who’d decorated the bridal tandem bike, had left wired bows to decorate the bikes
Marriage is like riding through life on the same bike?
  • sushi snacks for cocktail hour at the reception
Cool or what?
  • tablescapes that included
    • placeholders were little glass jars with a chalk label and bowled lollies inside with T heart J and similar
    • coasters with ‘Advice for the bride and groom’
    • love hearts out of novel pages & wooden cursive ‘love’
Tablescape
  • a table set up for children – with colouring books and mini lego
  • bathrooms with make up wipes and sanitary items (and pew flowers (roses) which I’d rescued and mimed to the florist we could reuse)
  • a lolly station (despite there being about 6 dessert options in a pick and choose layout)
Yes three steaks – on from Germany, one from Ireland, one aged
A sorbet better the collection of starters and the mains. You could have sparkling wine or gin added – what a PUNCH!
Dessert – including pavlova

It was such a wonderful night (and day!).  The bike ride between the locations was a lovely part of J & T’s story, and it was SUCH a lovely day to do it.  Everyone waved and clapped and honked their horns.  And I didn’t fall off.  I may have been a little immodest riding in a dress, but it’s not that uncommon either.  The reception was lovely and leisurely, and we were seated with really interesting people, who spoke English and German, so were wonderful at summarising speeches and helping decipher the menu/blackboard, though some things just aren’t translatable: mashinis was mashed potato in a martini glass, and was to be served as a midnight snack 🙂  That being said, I think we left after 1am, and fresh from having desert, so the midnight snack was shelved.

Degustation at Apotek

Swanky interior – kicked myself I didn’t get bathroom photos!
A sneaky selfie of my view – stunning weather
The menu
Bread (not counted as a course or a taster)
This was lamb, and the white powder was ‘vinegar dust’. I have no idea how or why this dish came, perhaps the unlisted amuse bouche, which happens a bit?

 

Left is the Birch alcohol; right is my cocktail which was Reyka vodka, crowberry liqueur, birch liqueur, lime juice and ginger beer
Smoked puffin with goats cheese, berry gel and rye bread crumble. The day after this dinner, I went somewhere where they bake rye bread in the ground using geothermal heat – takes about a day.
Jackson Pollack dish! The reds are beetroot – both a juice and a puree, for the Ocean Perch, which was ever so lightly steamed, and the first warm dish
Minke whale with parsnip puree and crisps – I was meant to get just one ‘pile’ but they made a mistake and I got two. Maybe this was the dish that took me into ‘too full it hurts’
Sea trout on Himalayan salt slab – the thin apple slices prevent it getting too salty, but I ate an apple slice just to see, yep, salty. Left the other one. Oh, and seaweed again
Plaice – fish – samphire – sea weed, citrus beurre blanc and mashed potatoes
Lamb – this was a substantial size for a degustation, and I seriously struggled to finish it. It was crusted in salt, which is sold in tourist stores for $14 per tiny plastic baggy (or same weight in a glass jar at no extra cost which I liked)
Vanilla espresso martini
Skyr based dessert – the Icelandic dairy dish skyr is everywhere!

The overall experience was wonderful. My usual waitress was Lithuanian (second I’d met in Iceland) and happy to help and generally pretty bubbly.  I was initially worried when the menu said only for tables of two or more, but it wasn’t a problem.  Interesting the first few dishes were quite rapid in coming, but then there became long lapses between the mains (the fish and the lamb particularly).  I had nowhere else to be, but I’d forgotten to bring a novel, due to a small handbag, and in the end, resorted to writing on my map!!  Of course, like absolutely EVERYWHERE in Iceland, there was wifi, so I could also occasionally chat with people in Australia.  Seems a bit vulgar, but I didn’t have company with me.

Momofuku – Sydney

In keeping with past fancy dinners here, here and here, this year I booked with a small group to go to Momofuku in Sydney’s casino ‘The Star’. The creator is the guy behind now 21 resturants, mostly in the US, and this was the first outside the US.

It was a great night, and the photos tend to speak volumes!

This was cornbread, butter and some roe – for those aghast at proprtions, this was named a snack!
So, theatrics – we saw our marron before they were cooked and served
Escape!
Long shot of the drinks matching a fish/shell course
Delicately done little seafood snack
Sweet potato slice with cucumber
Chicken salad with citrus with a jerk skin
The macthing cider looked like Fanta and smelt and tasted like dirty socks… sadly. My friend looking enthused!?
Type of risotto… Ah yes, kingfish sofrito
What’s I’d call parantha, they called roti, and the sauce came with little apples… but there was more
Then the marron, with cocnut shards
Chewy yuminess
Family style to serve the pork (the only non seafood dish) with crackling; curried onions and pumpkin with split peas

It looked like butter and salt, but it was granita with passionfruit sorbet
Little sweets – the lolly pop was slike a weiss bar – a layer of creamy and then guava sorbet; the balls had penut butter inside
Crispy fruit letter and more delicious icecrema
My special dessert – the gift made them realise it was a birthday. The merigue was coconut flavours, and inside was caramel and something super chilled (more icecream?)

The meal alone was $175, and then $105 to match all courses with alcohol – my mother and I shared that. Two friends went for ‘reduced pairing’ which resulted in half as many drinks, but standard pours. I think mum and I got more variety! Dad ordered a glass of wine, and uncommonly, the tasting resulted in him rejecting it. They were great about it, and (unsurprising to me) Dad picked the French red wine of the two replacements they offered.

Overall, it was a great.  It’s a very intimate small resturant (42 seats) with an open kitchen.  Mum preferred to other places she’s dined like this.  So that’s a recommendation.  Oh, and despite the name… it’s not Japan.

Fancy Dinner – est

Recently, I was granted a surprising bonus from work.  I was keen to save it all, but the BF encouraged me to celebrate.  So I decided to go out for dinner at est, a two hatted restaurant.  Of course, on a 42C day!

Due to the heat, this was lunch:

Salad for lunch... Who am I? Where's Sarah?
Salad for lunch… Who am I? Where’s Sarah?
A joke made by someone else... but I appreciate it!
A joke made by someone else… but I appreciate it!
Hot hot hot
Gown selfie
Gown selfie
2015 Est 012
Simple beauty
Cut glass - retro cool
Cut glass – retro cool
Elderflower and lime cocktail - perfect for summer
Elderflower and lime cocktail – perfect for summer
Quirky cutlery
Quirky cutlery
Snapper salad with garlicy leaves
Snapper salad with garlicy leaves (sorry for the blur!)
Mr Mushroom consomme
Mr Mushroom consomme
Morteon Bay Bug with vegemite stripe - jokes.  Pretty ho hum on tast
Morteon Bay Bug with vegemite stripe – jokes. Pretty ho hum on tast
Pork that he rated the highest
Pork that he rated the highest
We picked the same mains - Wagyu.  YUM!
We picked the same mains – Wagyu. YUM!
Statement passionfruit souffle
Statement passionfruit souffle
Chocolately stuff.!?
Chocolately stuff.!?

There was some other sweeties to finish – a jelly square (tart), a macaron each with caramel between the layers and a log of chocolate.

The service was a little patchy.  Inconsistent wait staff, and busy.  We saw a few snafus too, bringing out dishes when people were AWOL, or our desserts came out, almost went to the wrong table, and then doubled back to the kitchen before coming to us.  est is part of the Meirvale chain of everything (bars, restaurants etc) and I think that’s probably their undoing.  Nothing was horrible, but it wasn’t top shelf either.  I sound so hoity toity, but I suppose I’ve come to expect the high prices as much for great food, as world class attentive service too.

Oscillate Wildly – Newtown

I use this blog as much as a photo album, so here’s another multi course dinner at Oscillate Wildly in Newtown, Sydney.  I avoided using the flash in this small restaurant, so apologies for the grainy footage – it’s mainly so I can remember the night 🙂

Sorta creepy tea light holder
Sorta creepy tea light holder
Butter and... some smoked fat of the pork mmm
Butter and… some smoked fat of the pork mmm
Starting course - some root vegetable I'd never come across with mushroom dust, and a sugarcane slither infused with gin & tonic
Starting course – some root vegetable I’d never come across with mushroom dust, and a sugarcane slither infused with gin & tonic
Very decorative... seafood. BF got grapefruit (sadface for him)
Very decorative… seafood. BF got grapefruit (sadface for him)
More yummy seafood... and kelp
More yummy seafood… and kelp
Some sorta seafood in broth mmmm (The BF got a gingery coconut broth with his non fish - so yum!)
Some sorta seafood in broth mmmm (The BF got a gingery coconut broth with his non fish – so yum!)
Fancy creamed corn
Fancy creamed corn
Beef playing hide and seek with a sesame leaf
Beef playing hide and seek with a sesame leaf
Beef - mmm yummy beef
Beef – mmm yummy beef
Optional cheese course - cheese with coffee stewed onion
Optional cheese course – cheese with coffee stewed onion

Oh no! I forgot to photograph the ‘custard apple’ course – with guava and cucumber. Deliciousness, I tell you – like and fluffy, crispy but sweet but neutralised by cucumber…

Strawberries and cream interpretation
Strawberries and cream interpretation

There were also some lovely truffles and jellies for having with coffees… mmm…

We went for matched wines – most of them were biodynamic or similarly untouched by chemicals and preservatives. Mostly whites, but still tasty!

This topped off one of the best days of my life – the day was my Harbour Bridge Climb:

Bridgeclimb selfie
Bridgeclimb selfie

To friends, and boyfriends, and expensive experiences.

Dinner at Aria – 12 in 2 list

Aria is one of the top shelf restaurants in Sydney – on Sydney harbour at Circular Quay.  It serves ‘modern Australian’ and has breathtaking views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. About a year ago, I added in to my ’12 in 2′ goals list, hoping to visit for dinner in the next two years.

As was customary with past birthdays, I met with some close friends and enjoyed the degustation this past Friday. Aria offers a 7 course menu with matching wines for a breath taking sum of $260.

Here’s what it looked like, til I’d drunk too much 😉  These are phone photos, so don’t expect breathtaking compositions!

Salmon: Confir fillet of king salmon with avocado, vanilla and orange
Salmon: Confir fillet of king salmon with avocado, vanilla and orange

I’ve never had crunchy avocado 🙁

Wagyu: lightly smoked wagyu beef with soused onions, Dijon mustard and rye
Wagyu: lightly smoked wagyu beef with soused onions, Dijon mustard and rye

Tasty!

Scenic shot of the Wagyu with the noisy neighbouring table in shot with the bridge
Scenic shot of the Wagyu with the noisy neighbouring table in shot with the bridge
Barramundi: crispy skinned fillet with steamed mussels, cos lettuce and samphire
Barramundi: crispy skinned fillet with steamed mussels, cos lettuce and samphire

The fish disliking BF ate this, though I did end up with extra mussels. Oh and they cooked the lettuce?!

Truffle: kipfler potatoes poached in butter milk with shaved truffles, brioche, parmesan and roasted onions
Truffle: kipfler potatoes poached in butter milk with shaved truffles, brioche, parmesan and roasted onions

By FAR the table’s favourite dinner! It was like high end mac and cheese! There were suggestions that my 30th might be in a hardware store, serving mac and cheese… It could happen! Or the venue could be Ikea?

Peking Duck Consomme: with duck dumplings, shaved abalone and mushrooms
Peking Duck Consomme: with duck dumplings, shaved abalone and mushrooms

The signature dish of Aria – and we loved it. Though, in a lot of ways, didn’t match the other dishes..

Lamb: roasted loin and neck with sugar loaf cabbage, sweetbreads, sorrel and salt bush
Lamb: roasted loin and neck with sugar loaf cabbage, sweetbreads, sorrel and salt bush

Also yummy, and my first taste of salt bush, it was tempured.  It was lovely, and you can get lamb that’s fed on salt bush!?

And then the matched wines got me – I missed the Berries tart of summer berries with strawberry sorbet and short bread.  And there were petit fours, and I had a affrogato with a shot of something… come on, it was my birthday!  I did fail to mention I had a strawberry Pimms cocktail to start too.

The hangover on Saturday morning was HORRENDOUS, so we were late to the wine and cheese, and there was no more wine for me.  I even scoffed a packet of McDonald’s French Fries.  I wouldn’t have thought to go to McDonald’s but the BF wanted his favourite burger of all time, so I let him 😉

Would I recommend Aria? No.  There’s some personal reasons which I won’t share, about our particular event and the staff not being particularly sensitive.  At the cost of meal being so high, you do set your standards of service incredibly high, and they totally missed the ball park in so many ways.  There was wonderful company, a great view, and a pretty tasty menu.  I really can’t complain!  And another 12 in 2 list item demolished!

What’s the memorable (good or bad) meal you’ve had in your life?  Was it the food that shone, the service, or the company?

Aria for lunch

I mentioned in my post on Friday that I half achieved my plans to go Aria restaurant here in Sydney.  I thought I’d share some photos of our lunch during Good Food Month.

The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper hosts Good Food month, and part of the initiative sees high end restaurants offer a lunch time deal at a relatively affordable price ($38).  This usually includes a glass of wine, and tea or coffee. My father has taken me and my mother previously – this year he lucked out, having two lunches with his two lovely ladies seperately, and another lunch with my two brothers at a non-Good Food event.

The view, the menu, the company
The view, the menu, the company
Left to righ, Main of barramundi, amuse bouche of venison terraine, and petit fours
Left to righ, Main of barramundi, amuse bouche of venison terraine, and petit fours
The petit fours - I can't remember all the different items, but you'll see a marshmallow, a mint choc truffle, some 'twills' and a lolly pop salted with olive
The petit fours – I can’t remember all the different items, but you’ll see a marshmallow, a mint choc truffle, some ’twills’ and a lolly pop salted with olive

This was all planned for my rostered day off Friday, and happily coincided with the night we flew to Vietnam. What a wonderful start to a holiday! I think I will return to Aria for my birthday and sample a degustation menu, which is sometimes up to 10 courses! I enjoy these nights immensely, sharing veryhigh end food and wine with close friends, and coming away with great memories as presents!

Dear readers – I am homeward bound, I’ll be reading all your comments in a few short hours! How I’ve missed you all!