Today, Twin and I went for another post-work foodventure. This time we marched right into the Ivy complex to attend the launch of the March into Merivale event, a food and wine festival run by 20 of the Merivale chefs, creating dishes that will excite your appetite but won't kill your budget. Along with Oktoberfest and the Crave Sydney International Food Festival, this is one of my favourite Sydney food and wine festivals - we are such a lucky city! We purchased our entry ticket online for $30, and for that price we received 8 food and drinks tokens plus a free drink token to be claimed at the Palings Kitchen & Bar. We worked this out to be a pretty good deal as your average dish at the event was only one token each, with the fancier ones at a maximum of two tokens. With the amount of tokens we had on hand, we had a comfortable little 'degustation-on-foot' experience and a few glasses of wine and bubbles each - bargain! The quality of the food? Double thumbs up! Nothing I tasted was overcooked, undercooked or not fresh. Considering the numbers the event catered for, I think they did extremely well!
The festival took place at the Ivy complex in the CBD, starting on Ash Street and extending up to Palings Kitchen and Bar, and the Ivy Ballroom. This was a shot of the cupcake lady on display at the shop window, picking at her cupcake. So cute. She had me fooled. I thought she was fake for a few seconds!
At the Ivy Ballroom - an organised chaos. The event was full house and it felt like forever to walk through the crowd to get to the individual stalls but service was swift, the food was above expectations and was well worth the pushing and shoving!
First stop, Grilled Corn from Abajo (pronounced 'Abacco'). This new Latin restaurant is soon to join the Merivale empire. The corn was grilled over coal, rolled over and coated with a creamy mayonnaise, spiced and topped with finely chopped chilli - extremely unlady-like to eat in public but scumpdiliumptious. Gone with the good old Easter Show 'Corn on the Cob' and in with the Abajo grilled corn!
Heirloom Tomatoes and Scampi skewers, and Spanner Crab with Spiced Avocado, Corn, Lime and Baby Herbs. Both dishes had a citrus dressing which seasoned the seafood well and tasted very fresh, it was not overcooked or too chewy. Yummo!
The tuna display at the Sushi e stall.
The Rice Paper Roll with Trout and Avocado from the Ms.G's stall. It looks so simple but it was delicately seasoned with a dressing that was wrapped inside the firm yet soft and chewy rice paper, that sent my tastebuds dancing. Twin and I really enjoyed these little rolls!
Palings Kitchen and Bar served a scallop dish in a citrus dressing with avocado that was also very tasty.
Crab meat with Granny Smith Apple and Cucumber crush - very refreshing and perfect for cleansing the palate and get ready for more food!
Wagyu Steak Sandwich with Caramelised Onions, Horseradish Gremolata & Ridicchio from The Beresford Hotel. Steak was cooked medium, tender and juicy. I think I reached my stomach capacity with that.
Actually, not quite. How could I leave without popping an oyster? (unless it wasn't on offer!) Seafood Platter from Felix with a crab salad on spiced avocado, oyster with a vinaigrette dressing and cured whitefish with a watermelon salad - Divine! Felix, you never fail me.
Arm in arm, Twin and I leave - happy, content and ready to take on tomorrow's challenges (or another big feast!)
Sea urchins (aka Uni) - these spiky and unfriendly looking sea creatures open up to reveal a treasure chest of golden jewels, the gonads (commonly referred to as 'roe' or 'tongues'). Sea urchins have long been considered a delicacy in many cultures. Sea urchin is usually eaten raw with a squeeze of lemon, or dipped in a light soy. Nowadays, many more ways of eating sea urchin have been developed - like shooting it! Check out my Sea Urchin Shooter recipes here! It is refreshing and a bit fun! xx
January is the perfect time to catch up with old friends. Everyone is usually quite busy before Christmas and when the festive rush is finally over, often you look back and realise that there are quite a number of people you might not have had the chance to catch up with as often as you would like to. This relatively quiet month is best for bringing those close to your heart, even closer. Tonight I am here with my Twin, not by blood, but my exact double! Arm in arm, we walk into the restaurant after a very long day at work and ready for a big fat feast! The room is big and bright, the ceiling is high and the windows are extra large. The walls are white washed exposing the underlying brick, the floor is laid out with timber (which click loudly at our heels as we are guided to our table by a very friendly host - we giggle), and the space lit with drop down green enamel light shades. Very warehouse-converted looking, casual and full of character. No drinks tonight, we decided - we both had a another long day of work ahead of us. We went straight to the serious stuff, food. Twin and I have very similar taste so ordering was easy. We suggested a few dishes each and it was always what the other had in mind! Our wait staff for the night, with his big smile and warm sense of humour, assisted us with our choices and ensured we did not order too much (as we always do!).
First to arrive, freshly shucked Clair De Lune Oysters from Clyde River, New South Wales. The oysters came shucked, flipped and served in their full shell with a wedge of lemon on top of a bed of pebbles. The oysters had a very clean taste with a slight creaminess to it - started my meal off perfectly!
Our next dish was our favourite dish for the night, the Citrus Cured Kingfish, Frozen Fennel and Celery. The kingfish was served very chilled and packed a citrus punch, with celery and topped with fennel granita. I loved the flavours of this dish, it is very out of the ordinary, yet it was very well balanced - a must try!
We weren't too sure when ordering the Crab Roll with Spiced Avocado Puree because carbs usually fill me up to quickly, so as suggested by our wait staff we decided to order just one to share. I probably should have mentioned earlier, everything on the menu here at 4Fourteen was designed to share - my favourite way of eating a meal because you get to try a lot more than eating in the conventional 3 course way (at which times you might still catch me secretly sharing!). The little bun was filled with crab meat and a well seasoned avocado puree. I found the bun a bit dense and dry for my liking and would prefer it to be light and fluffier.
Our next fancy looking dish was the Smoked Eel Croquette and Horseradish Cream. The deep fried croquette was shaped like an egg, served on a cut-out egg carton with a wedge of lemon and a dollop of horseradish cream. Not too oily, but also a little dry and would have done better with a lighter dressing.
Then was the Roast Pork with Chargrilled Nectarines and Baby Leeks. Tender and very juicy pieces of roast pork and crackling, which could crackle a bit more - we found it a little too chewy.
To finish the meal off, dessert and cheese! The only difference between Twin and I, is that one would always choose savoury over sweet but the other would always choose sweet over savoury! We ordered the White Chocolate Sandwich with Dulce de Leche and a cut of cheese selected from the cheese board (a gigantic cheese board brought to our table by our wait staff with the day's selection of cheese!).
Overall, our meal was very satisfying. The ambience was very relaxed, the customers chirpy and very chatty, the music energetic - there was a real buzz to this place that was very encouraging. This place is great to hang out with friends, I might even suggest it for first dates because it is so relaxed and the menu gives you plenty to talk about. The food was quirky and different, the service was definitely 5 star, attentive and fun - arm in arm, Twin and I left with a full stomach, a warmed heart and big fat smile on our faces! I cannot wait until our next foodventure Twin!