I have always loved the food photography coming out of Australia (see Donna Hay), so a recent first trip to Sydney was whetted with the anticipation of getting a chance to taste some of that incredible food I had only seen in pictures.
Right between the bridge and Opera House is Wildfire, a huge restaurant that Mark Miller worked on when it first opened in 2003. Mark also has collaborated with us in Phoenix at Blue Sage in the JW Desert Ridge Resort. The Wildfire dining room surrounds a kitchen that is virtually a wall of fire, perfect for the churrascerria inspired grilled/roasted meats and fish they do so well. A selection of chilled seafood seemed like the best way to start, and our group devoured the Australian oysters, “bugs” and “yabbies” towering before us. Loved the interesting mignonette, an Australian take using lemon grass, black vinegar, and mirin in place of the classic shallot and vinegar. “Bugs” are a crustacean also known as slipper lobster, that are incredibly sweet and an Australian must-try. As to the “yabby, if you like New Orleans crayfish, you will love these! I had the Tasmanian rib-eye steak for an entrée. Perfect medium rare enhanced by an adept sprinkle of sea salt, the steak was extremely flavorful with a hint of wildness that evoked thoughts of the Tasmanian range. No hint of gaminess as often plagues the flavor of grass fed beef, but a deep richness that was remarkably wonderful and yet different from that of the stalwart US grain fed cattle. Dessert was simply “jelly donuts”, except these jelly donuts were beautiful little golf ball sized beignets with injection tubes filled with raspberry coulis. Stick a donut with the injector and squeeze the sauce into the donut as you plop it into your mouth. Great idea!
Next stop was Singapore and great street foods found at Newton Circus’ night food market. Singapore is a fantastic city with beautiful hotels, including the Singapore Marriott on Orchard Road, a fantastic location for the shopping minded. Clean streets, wonderful people, and excellent restaurants with globally recognized chefs. But it is the street food scene that steals the show in my opinion. My first visit to Singapore was part of a culinary training week for our Asian region executive chefs, held at a cooking school in the city. Long days of cooking were followed by visits to great local restaurants, where the chefs could experience inspiring meals. But the essence of every culture is found in the food consumed very day. Call it comfort, call it traditional, but this is the food upon which every culture looks for a safe haven of familiarity. If I am in Germany, I am going to have schnitzel…if I am in the UK, I’ll seek out the best fish & chips shop…but when in Singapore, I am heading straight for the street foods such as chili grilled king prawns, spicy dry curry Singapore noodles and definitely a bowl of Laksa – a fragrant coconut and lemon grass soup loaded with seafood.
What’s on your plate today?