Ah the bliss that is a child free existence. It’s quiet. It’s neat. It’s quiet. Its free of constant demands. Did I mention that it’s quiet?
Friday, the Bread Winner and I shipped the Ankle Biters off to the Grandparents and we bolted to the airport for a weekend in Sydney. Things didn’t start incredibly smoothly with massive winds delaying our flight and causing circling around Sydney airport followed by a somewhat rough landing. Followed by a round of applause for the Captain by the somewhat shaken passengers. From there on, it was all good.
The reason behind the trip was a voucher the Bread Winner’s father gave us back in January, It was for a sky deck gold dinner cruise. Finally, we got around to organising our way back to Sydney sans Ankle Biters.
Whilst winter is not an ideal time for Harbour dinner cruise with sunset so early, it was terrific from the point of view that only six tables were seated which guaranteed everyone a window table.
(all photos taken by the Bread Winner on his iPhone so they aren’t amazing given the lighting and the camera).
Dinner started with champagne and canapes. Well it was touted as champagne. I’m thinking Australian sparkling and not a fabulous one at that. Good enough but not great. No idea what it was. The canapes were also good but not great. At this stage we were up on top deck enjoying the view and that overcame any shortcomings at that stage of the menu.
Amuse bouche was cream of fresh pea soup with sabayon. A perfectly sized little portion served in a shot glass. The soup was deliciously light and the peas young and sweet. Just enough texture was left in the soup to give it body and the sabayon blended in beautifully to create a wonderful lightness that complemented the sweetness of the peas perfectly. Bread rolls accompanied this with choice of either brioche or sourdough. Personally I thought the brioche was slightly too dry and the sour dough a little too crumbly. Having said that, the flavour of the sour dough was wonderful. It was mostly consumed before it was photographed.
First course. Pink prawn and Tasmanian salmon martini with a dash of aioli with Goodwyn Brut Cuvee Sparkling. The aioli was quite light and not as garlicky as I would make myself but certainly well balanced with the prawns. The prawns themselves were fresh, sweet and perfectly cooked. Truly delightful. The salmon a little too discoloured but tasted fresh enough. The wine was a perfect accompaniment to the seafood. Very light, allowing the full flavour of the prawns to be savoured.
Second course. A tiny salad of endive, cherry tomatoes and fetta with aged olive oil dressing. A simple little salad made special by the freshness and flavour of the tomatoes. Where on earth did they come from at this time of year? The fetta and the dressing were good but unremarkable. This course was all about the tomato for me.
(oops, forgot to photograph this one, having too much fun)
Third course. Medallions of poached Tasmanian lobster, asparagus spears. Pacific oysters with caviar and dill. Served with Tyrrell’s Moon Mountain Chardonnay (Hunter Valley NSW). This was the stand out course for me. The oysters were simply superb and the lobster sweet, succulent and cooked to perfection. Fresh, fresh, fresh. The chardonnay was a pleasant surprise, a little woody but not too overwhelming and well matched to the dish. Generally speaking I find chardonnay to be a bit much for my palate, this one, in this context, was most enjoyable.
Before I move on to course four, I should add that we were entertained throughout the meal by a combination of live and canned music. The stage held a white baby grand accompanying a female vocalist crooning out a wonderful mix of tunes from Burt Bacarach to Roberta Flack (and many others in between).
Fourth was a palate cleansing ice sorbet with a splash of vodka. Perfectly textured and almost but not quite sweet. Delightful.
Fifth course was a grilled Angus fillet of beef with crisp prosciutto wafer on field mushroom pate de foie and veal jus served with McWilliams OP&OH Shiraz 2002 (Hunter Valley, NSW). I ordered my beef rare and the Bread Winner ordered his medium rare. Both were cooked as requested and simply melted in the mouth. Carnivore heaven. I thought the prosciutto was too large for the dish but the Bread Winner disagreed. The beef was served on top of the mushroom which was spread with the pate de foie. The pate was superb. Light and fluffy in texture with a delicate flavour. The shiraz was also a winner. Shiraz tends to be my wine of choice and this was a good earthy number that matched the beef beautifully. Although I should add that this was my fourth glass of wine for the evening and I was starting to feel it! Fortunately, I had the good sense to refuse the many top ups that were offered. Not something that can be said for many of the other dinners, some of whom were unwittingly providing us much amusement by this stage as the became progressively more hammered.
By the sixth course, not only had we drunk more than we are accustomed to, but we had eaten more than we were accustomed to. Fortunately, we were getting to the tail end of the meal with a King Island Camembert and classic vintage cheddar with sweet pear paste and lavosh crackers. This was served with Brown Brothers Orange Muscat Flora (Victoria). To be honest, I thought the cheese was unremarkable. There are so many wonderful cheeses produced in this country and I don’t believe that these two were representative. The wine however a wonderful and the pear paste was lovely too.
The meal ended with tea/coffee and piccolo gelato and chocolates. The gelato itself was light and refreshing but the mini cones in which it was served were a little soggy. The chocolate truffles were delicious.
All in all, a wonderful meal and a wonderful evening. Reasonably priced for the experience too. The setting can’t be surpassed and while I have criticised aspects of the meal, we did enjoy each and every course.
Come morning we were still so very, very full. We finally wandered up the street for a light breakfast to AboutLife. I highly recommend checking out both the grocery section and the cafe if you’re ever in the Rozelle area. I had the chocolate cinnamon french toast with orange compote, roasted hazelnuts and Mungalli Creek ricotta with honey. Just what the overly full stomach ordered. Followed by no lunch.
Shortly after breakfast, we wandered out to the airport and back to reality. We missed the Ankle Biters by then and it was time to return to reality. And here we are!