The Vivid Sydney Festival will come to an end Monday night, June 8th.
The festival began on May 11th with 13 of Sydney’s most glamorous precincts showcasing their best and brightest for the world to see. At an event so grandioise there are bound to be some spectacles that you may have overlooked, but the Transcendence Pop-Up Bar in Martin Place (between George and Macquarie Street) must not be one of them.
The Opera House will always remain a Sydney icon favourite (granted no unforseen tidal waves appear in the next two days), but Transcendence’s reign as a pop-culture newcomer will end Monday taking with it the sheer wonder and awe that I experienced when I first saw the Opera House sails across the harbour for the first time. Like a good movie or book recommended between friends, I implore you, Transcendence can not sit on the shelf until you can find the time. Vivid 2015 may have had many attractions that evoked strong emotions, but none were feelings of true transcendence until you visit Martin Place.
Transcendence is defined as having gone beyond any ordinary limitations. This is exactly the sentiment I felt of the Transcendence Pop-Up Bar at the centre of the Vivid Sydney Lights Festival. As I walked down the street toward the illuminated 7-metre-tall sculpture housing The Rocks Brewing Company Bar, I was instantly pulled from left to right by the enticing aromas coming from the stalls of some of the finest purveyors of cuisine Sydney has to offer. With Porteño, Tsuru, Agape Organic, Thievery, Bite Size Delights and the Gelato World Tour Champion Cow and the Moon as the butchers leading this culinary addicted lamb to the slaughter, I knew that I was in for an unforgettable tasting experience.
Pulsing above all of this culinary artistry and craftsmanship of locally sourced beer and wine was Transcendence, an architectural new media sculpture created by Joe Crossley. There was something profoundly beautiful beneath the apparent intricacy of the code driven lights and new media projection. The sculpture seemed to hit the heart of what the event was all about.
[box_light]“I came up with the concept while I was living in India”, said Crossley. “It was inspired by bamboo coming out from the earth.”[/box_light]
The name of the sculpture is accredited to the Sydney community coming together and the ability to transcend the negativity of the Lindt Café incident in Martin Place last December, said Crossley.
As most wonderful tasting experiences usually begin, and end, I headed for the bar. Mark Fethers, the Managing Director of The Rocks Brewing Company, graciously met me with his brewer, Matt Cuthbert, and recommended the Hangman Pale Ale ($8).
The beer was an American inspired Pale Ale with an aroma of citrus and pine. It was love at first sip for me, and apparently for all the other patrons as well who drank the taps dry of this beautifully crafted nectar by the middle of the evening. The Spiced Hot Cider ($7) added a warming touch to the brisk evening with subtle hints of orange, nutmeg, apple and just the right amount of kick. The Chocolate Oatmeal Stout ($8) had a uniquely smooth, dark flavor that could quite easily substitute any after dinner desert wine.
The pricing for the the spectacular, locally sourced NSW wines ranged from $8 to $16 per glass. I sampled quite a few of the red blends and found that the pricing was beyond fair for the craftsmanship and flavour.
With a quenched thirst my palate was tingling to sample some of the delectable dishes hovering around the room. I first sampled the Slow-Roasted Pork Sandwich from Porteño. It was accompanied with a savory barbeque coleslaw that could have been served alone as a main, yet married with the perfectly moist pulled pork and brioche bun, the dish was a true delight. The Lamb Sausage Sandwiches with chimichurri, an authentic Argentinian sauce consisting of parsley, garlic, olive oil and oregano, were equally delicious.
Interested in experiencing something new, yet familiar, I made my way to Tsuru. I had seen the Tsuru food trucks around the city but never had a chance to sample the traditional Asian street fare personally. I had the Pork Belly Bun, and with one bite the perfectly cooked pork exploded in flavor and texture with a crunch of seared crackling and the sweetness of the sauce. The Balinese Chicken Rolls with lemongrass and a sweet and sour dipping sauce had the same intoxication. I will be on the hunt for those food trucks at all times now.
The last must for my evening was a Cow and the Moon Gelato. I had heard it preached from every chef and foodie I know and wanted to see what the best in the world had to offer. I had a taste of the Almond Affogato Gelato, and I assure you, tasting will make you believe. With a fuzzy head from the Hangman Pale Ale, no more holes left to extend my belt and my pants button ready to pop off and ricochet off the bar breaking every glass in the room, I decided to call it a night.
Transcendence is a beacon among the Vivid Festival for those looking to sample some of the best cuisine, craft beers and wine that Sydney has to offer. The decorum of the Transcendence Pop-Up Bar is stadium pillow seating allowing you to relax and absorb the smells, tastes, and sights of what makes the vibrant Sydney food, beverage and art scene so innovative. I had an amazing dining experience with the only regret of not being able to sample everything, but that is what tomorrow night is always for.
Transcendance Pop-Up Bar
Martin Place (Between George Street and Macquarie Street), Sydney NSW 2000
May 22- June 8th, 6:00pm – 11:00pm