To believe it’s nearly that time of year again! For all the lovers of great wine and eating out in Sydney, October can only mean one thing – it is of course, Good Food Month.
In my opinion, the highlight of Good Food Month is the annual Night Noodle Markets. Having attended for the last three years, it’s safe to say that the festival has gotten bigger and better every year and this year is certainly no exception. (Anyone excited for the Black Star Pastry x N2 Gelato collaboration? Uh Me.)
As the national presenting partner of Good Food Month for the last eight years, Citibank have expanded their efforts to include exclusive access to the Citi VIP area at the Night Noodle Markets, and priority seating at an event I am certainly looking forward to; the first ‘SweetFest!’ that celebrates all things ‘baked, fried, creamed and colourful’. Plus, don’t forget their ongoing Citibank Dining Program which offers a free bottle of wine when dining at participating restaurants.
To kick start the upcoming month’s festivities, Citi hosted their second Moveable Feast at the Star, showcasing a small sample of what the Citibank Dining Program has to offer. Now, I’m one who usually prefers the simpler things in life but when given the opportunity, as Iggy Azalea would say, I can be a little bit ‘Fancy…but you already know’. This progressive dinner definitely showcased fine dining, starting off entrées at the Century, then onto Black by Ezard for mains and ending the night at Sokyo with dessert. Each course was accompanied by a wine from Citi’s partnering supplier – McWilliams, which were carefully selected to complement each dish and truly enhance the dining experience.
Beginning the night at The Century, entrees seemed a feast in itself comprising of three individual plates. As a light start to the dinner, we begun with a medley of appetisers – A black fungus salad with tofu, carrot and sesame, cold cut cucumber, salt and pepper squid and lightly battered cubed eggplant. The salt and pepper squid had the right balance, which was encased in a light crisp batter whilst still being tender and not at all chewy, but my personal favourite from the group, surprisingly was the eggplant. With just two small pieces, it managed to give us a textural and flavourful experience. The contrasting crunch of the tempura batter and the subtle flavour of eggplant were tied together with a house-made dressing that was sweet and salty.
Up next, we had a traditional Dim Sum Basket sampler consisting of a steamed chives and prawn har gow coloured with natural vegetable juice, a steamed mixed enoki and shiitake crystal dumpling and a steamed scallop and prawn siu mai. What I noticed with all three dim sum was how clean and crisp the taste was for each dumpling. The steaming method of cooking helped the ingredients all shine through and packed each dumpling with flavours that all worked together. My particular favourite was the steamed scallop and prawn siu mai. This dumpling created a harmonious seafood combination, as the prawns were firm and juicy and retained its natural sweetness, which melded well with the subtle flavour and softness of the scallop, while the salmon roe added little pops of freshness.
Bringing a taste of the sea to the table, our last plate for entrées was a culinary test in its own right, with contrasting steamed scallops with a ginger soy dressing. To show us the difference between a fresh and frozen scallop, both were cooked the same way with the same dressing but there was a clear difference in size and flavour where the fresh scallop had a more firm touch and natural rich sweet flavour.
Black by Ezard
Moving onto main course, we were greeted at the table with sweet brioche loaves with butter and volcanic black salt staring right at us. Despite brioche literally being full of butter, one can’t help but spread a little more (OK a lot more) butter, and when sprinkled with the black salt, it added smokiness and rather a certain nuttiness to each bite.
With their timing on point, mains were quickly followed not long after being seated with Fillet beef grass fed, smoked potato, asparagus and charred onion with a bone marrow jus. The beef fillet had an intense meaty taste with a certain creaminess that may be from the marbling on the fillet, and it was this that made the meat so soft, I cut through it like butter. It should be mentioned that the first thing you’re hit with is the aroma of roasted potato; this smokiness from the potato mash was a highlight throughout the dish. The charred onion cups acted as little vessels carrying puddles of bone marrow jus. This jus was a flavourful journey on its own, starting on a sweet note, which was quickly followed by a hit of saltiness and ended with a satisfying richness from the bone marrow.
Nearing the end of the night, we crawled to Sokyo for the Yuzu and white chocolate cheesecake with blood peach granita, blood peach meringue, dehydrated shizo, ginger bread crumble, yuzu gel and ginger gel. To be honest, I am rarely a fan of cheesecake because I immediately think of a heavy, dense dessert. However to my pleasant surprise, this particular version was far superior to anything I have ever sampled. There was a certain elegance to the dish from the way it was plated and this elegance certainly shone through the way it tasted.
This dessert was bursting with strong flavours that rather than competing against each other, complemented the whole experience. The yuzu and white chocolate cheesecake had a citrus punch in the beginning, which was softened with the sweetness from the white chocolate and the creaminess of the cheese carried the other favours of the dessert along. The blood peach granita brought a cooling sensation and a certain tartness while the blood peach meringue and gingerbread crumble added the crunch elements the dish needed. Overall, this was certainly a great way to end such a well-constructed dinner experience.
By the end of the night, Citi had certainly taken us on a culinary journey, playing a melody that celebrated good food and wine.
If the Moveable Feast showcased anything, it was that the Citibank Dining Program delivers diversity across flavours, cuisines and experiences. With the hundreds of participating restaurants, there is no doubt something for everyone.
The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Month presented by Citi
October 1 – October 31, 2015
For more information on Citi’s exclusive GFM offers, visit: citibankdining.com.au/events/smhgfm
The Star (Entry via street level on Pirrama Road)
80 Pyrmont Street. Pyrmont, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 9566 2328
Black by Ezard
Level G, Harbourside, The Star,
80 Pyrmont St, Pyrmont, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 9657 9109
Level G, The Darling, The Star
80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 9657 9161
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of Citi