French Felix fun in sunny Sydney…

Another wedding… another plane trip… this time to Sydney… The wedding was actually on the NSW Central Coast however Ben was doing a wine event at Ivy Bar on the evening before so I also flew in for a little wine tasting… or so I thought… ‘little’ would be the wrong word to describe the HUGE event Merivale put on with over 700 peeps tasting wine from a number of regions around the country… the problem was that it was so bloody busy that Ben had no time to talk to me and the other folks that I knew didn’t arrive until 8:30pm… I arrived at 6:30pm… uh oh… I’m assuming you can guess what happened… I tried to disguise my slipping sobriety by writing tasting notes as I ticked off each winery on what I called Frank’s Australian Riesling Tour… As the crowd dwindled, it occurred to me I should put some food into my tummy to try to soak up some of the riesling… The next day was going to be busy (and filled with Ben’s family) and the last thing I needed was a hangover! 

We traipsed downstairs to Felix Bar & Bistro and sat on one of the ‘laneway’ tables. Ben ordered more wine… and more wine… and I ordered a bottle of mineral water – sparkling! We feasted french style…. three course of course… starting with my favourite french dish – steak tartare…

Steak Tartare

Old fashioned seafood cocktail

Beetroot and goats cheese salad

For main I order the spatchcock. It was super simple and perfectly accompanied by quite a number of french fries.

Spatchcock with iceberg lettuce & lemon

For dessert we shared profiteroles and the bombe alaska…

Profiteroles

We crashed into bed close to midnight, fed and watered (especially me) and awoke to clear heads for the sunny, special wedding day ahead of us!

Felix - Bistro and Bar on Urbanspoon

2011 part 6 – a Manly trip down memory lane

The second day of our engagement celebration weekend in Sydney started with a ferry ride to Manly. A place very special to me. Nearly every summer Sunday morning started for me at either Queenscliff or Freshie beach. An incredible place to grow up!

We hopped off the ferry and strolled along The Corso to the ocean side, to our hotel on the beach, The Manly Pacific. Beautiful! After a long walk along the beach and a couple of ciders on the balcony we headed back harbour side for dinner reservations at Manly Pavilion, 2011 winner of best new restaurant in Sydney Good Food Guide Awards. We walked through the beautiful, restored deco bar and restaurant space to the balcony, to our table with this fabulous view

view from the dinner table

I ordered some bubbles and while Ben would normally join me in bubbles or a beer, on this occasion he was feeling a little tropical and ordered a mojito… but not just any mojito….

Pre dinner passion fruit and vanilla mojito

How masculine! We perused the delicious Italian menu for ages and once again Ben denied me degustation but we settled on a selection of small dishes to share.

Manly Pavilion Menu

kingfish with white balsamic, capers and herbs

crispy pig tails salad with button mushrooms and toast croutons

I think we got a little hungry as I don’t seem to have many pics of this meal… There is no way we only had 2 entrees. Ha! And obviously we had to have a couple of sorbets for dessert

Passionfruit and sweet tomato sorbet with black sesame meringue

Peanut butter foam, banana sorbet, honeycomb, lime and ginger

Another brilliant reason to visit Manly! This is a sensational lunch destination if you are staying near Manly, in the CBD or somewhere else on the ferry network. A long, leisurely lunch and then a gentle ferry ride back.

Manly Pavilion Dining Room & Bar on Urbanspoon

2011 part 5 – a super special Sydney lunch

Without giving away too many details of this awesome weekend I will tell you about a couple of amazing meals.

This particular December Friday lunch at Quay, Australia’s number one restaurant according to San Pel’s World’s Best Restaurants. To give you just a little context, we had locked in a long weekend away at Dunkeld to celebrate both of our birthdays. The plan was to stay and have dinner at The Royal Mail. I had initially wanted to go to Quay but when I tried to book, they were full on Fri and Sat nights until January, so Ben had (said we were) booked into Royal Mail…. And then, on the Thursday night before we were meant to leave for our long, long drive…. he proposed…. with a ring… in a frozen yogurt… in the freezer (haha, don’t ask!)… He did very well to surprise me on the only day of the year he probably could… His birthday. So I probably shouldn’t have been surprised that he had more up his sleeve. Like when we turned off the freeway a long way before Dunkeld… into the airport.

We arrived in Sydney and checked into our hotel, which had a fabulous view across to the Opera House and down to the Overseas Passenger Terminal, the main event location for the day. Ben had managed to book arguably the best restaurant in Sydney for a long, luxurious lunch. Eight course degustation if I got my way… which I didn’t. Ha! As usual, the thought of sitting through eight courses of me and my conversation was not completely exciting to Benny so we settled on 4 courses each and I got to choose what we were both eating to ensure I got to try as much as possible! See below for some amazing savoury dishes!

Sashimi amuse bouche

Poached native freshwater marron, young almonds, bergamot marmalade, pomelo, green mango, elder, chamomile

Salad of rhubarb, endive, beetroot, purple carrot, rosa radish, kohlrabi, goat's curd, pomegranate molasses, violet

Slow cooked coturnix quail breast, stone ground semolina enriched with Alba truffle butter, buckwheat, farro, walnuts, pumpernickel, malt

Smoked and confit pig cheek, shiitake, shaved scallop, Jerusalem artichoke, juniper, bay

Spring lamb with some pretty flowers

Berkshire pig jowl, maltose crackling, prunes, cauliflower cream, perfumed with prune kernel oil

We sat out on the balcony with a view towards the harbour bridge and felt like we were at our own private lunch. Embarrassingly so actually, as at one point Ben had excused himself and I was checking out my beautiful ring… perhaps taking photos of it…. Seeing the light reflections at different angles… different fingers… no doubt you can imagine. So.. when I got up for a bathroom break, a couple sitting just inside the window congratulated me as I walked past with big smiles on their faces… Aaarrrggghhh! What a dick I must have looked like dammit!

And then came dessert.

Eight texture chocolate cake

The famous white nectarine snow egg

Suitable impressed?! I was certainly full…. or replete as my mother would prefer I said. Completely, repletely, absolutely, incredibly, magnificantly full!

And then came truffles and the best photo ever taken on an iPhone…

Truffles at Quay and check the photography!

The only problem with this lunch was that I had spent 6  months getting over the fact we couldn’t get into Quay and looking forward to The Royal Mail. First anniversary maybe?

Quay on Urbanspoon

The Boathouse – A rainy trip to Palm Beach

Yesterday was Australia Day. A Thursday…. So it was pretty obvious I should take the Wednesday and Friday off work and spend the long weekend with some friends on the Central Coast NSW. Sydney summer is something to be enjoyed as often as possible… Unfortunately as the rest of the country swelters, and facebook newsfeeds fill with happy snaps of various sunny beaches… you know the pics I mean? When the photographer angles the camera to include his or her own legs/feet and then the sparkling blue waters…. well…. anyway, I’m pretty confident none of these photographers have been in NSW this week…. definitely no chance of skin cancer… So after 3 days of sitting in inside watching the rain we decided to brave the half an hour ferry ride over to Palm Beach for a little lunch…

We were warned to get to The Boathouse by noon or wait a long time for a table. No problem. We were fine for a table but the queue to order was very long all day! We were waiting for Ben’s cousin to join us so we started with some coffees and these were the best coffees of my recent Sydney visits… A big compliment from a Melbourne coffee snob! After coffees we thought we should order something to nibble on while we waited and I took charge… and Ben’s wallet… and ordered half a dozen oysters and a “bucket of prawns”. I tried to order a bottle of Petaluma Rielsing for a very reasonable $36 but they were out so we had the Knappstein instead… Same same delish!

 

Oysters with champagne & eschalot dressing

Bucket of tiger prawns with whole wheat bread and house made seafood sauce

I was actually pretty full after this start to a meal… Big serves I promise…. nothing to do with being too piggy! Mains were also excellent, steak sandwich, chicken panini, salt & pepper squid and fish and chips. Self-claimed the best on the Northern beaches… They were pretty good, the big fat chips especially…. More coffees after and a couple of mini cheesecakes.

fish and chips

cheeky cheesecake

We caught the 5pm ferry back to Wagstaff…. Kinda full of food and wine… There were a lot of warning signs on the top deck of the ferry… beware of the horn sounding…. beware of valuables… and probably most concerning for a girl who wore her special silk shorts for the Palm beach trip…. beware of seaspraySupressing flashbacks of a past Rotto ferry trip I put my head down and laughed my way through the 15 minutes of open water…  Here is a picture of Ed who is finishing up a long holiday from work… and was hoping to catch a few days of Sydney sun… didn’t happen but he really seemed to enjoy the day out of the house…

Happy Ed

The Boat House on Urbanspoon