FILM REVIEW: KALINKA (AU NOM DE MA FILLE)

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Kalinka (Au nom de ma fille) is a French film that is based on the real-life events surrounding the Kalinka Bamberski case. It’s a dark and suspenseful thriller about one man’s dogged determination for justice. It’s a fight that spans multiple decades and traverses a couple of different country’s borders with the pure aim of seeing that justice will eventually prevail.

This film is by director, Vincent Garenq who is no stranger to making films in this genre. Garenq also doubles as a co-writer along with Julien Rappeneau. The film stars Daniel Auteuil as André Bamberski and really carries this film. He plays a family man who loses his only daughter.

Bamberski’s first wife Cecile (Christelle Cornil) would divorce him in the early seventies and take a new lover in the form of the suave and charismatic Dr Dieter Krombach (Sebastian Koch) but this had painful ramifications. In July 1982 Bamberski’s 14 year old daughter, Kalinka and young son Pierre travelled from France to Germany in order to holiday with their mother and new step-father. On July 10 Kalinka was found dead. There were disturbing circumstances surrounding her passing but in Bamberski’s eyes these were not addressed during the investigation that occurred in the aftermath of his daughter’s death.

Bamberski had Kalinka’s autopsy report translated and was horrified to learn that Dr Krombach had injected his daughter with various substances (the step-father claimed that this was in an attempt to revive the teenager). Krombach was also present at the autopsy. Bamberski found it strange that the coroner had failed to properly investigate whether a rape had taken place (later when Kalinka’s body was exhumed and re-examined it would be revealed that her genitals had actually been removed). Needless to say there were a lot of questions thrown up by the investigation or lack thereof.

Bamberski presumed that Krombach was responsible for Kalinka’s death. Bamberski embarked on a relentless fight against French and German officials and their respective legal systems in order to see Krombach brought accountable for this crime. Along the way other allegations against Krombach were brought forward by other young women. All of this evidence would help Bamberski in fighting the legal obstacles thrown in his way and to eventually break the conspiracy of silence that had enveloped Kalinka’s death.

Kalinka is ultimately a rather clinical and procedural look at the events that took place with respect to the Kalinka Bamberski case. Her father André never gave up and had to fight the denial of doctors, legal professionals and his family (including his ex-wife) in order to convince them of what he believed in his gut was the truth. The story itself is a rather hopeful one that has a few things in common with In The Name Of My Daughter as it again shows a parent fighting against incompetent practices in criminal investigations. Kalinka is ultimately a dramatic and tense look at the sacrifices a David-character must endure in order to fight against some bureaucratic Goliaths in order to pursue justice, truth and accountability.

 

Originally published on 6 March 2017 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/film-review-kalinka-france-2016-is-a-shocking-and-suspenseful-true-crime-thriller/

Visit The Au Review’s homepage at: http://www.theaureview.com/

Visit The Iris’s homepage at: http://www.theiris.com.au

THEATRE REVIEW: MICHAEL GOW’S AWAY @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE (UNTIL 25 MARCH)

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Michael Gow’s Away is one of Australia’s most popular plays and this latest production makes it easy to see why. The current Sydney Theatre Company and Malthouse Theatre Production sees the play return to its second home at the Sydney Opera House (the show played here one year after it debuted at the Stables Theatre in 1986.) It’s a story that is in some ways deceptively simple and in others is quite layered and complex in its symbolism, imagery and references to different texts. This is a portrayal of three different Australian families going away on holiday in 1967 and one that remains an important and vital slice of home-grown theatre.

Away is directed by Matthew Lutton (Edward II) and stars Liam Nunan (The Golden Age) as a young, aspiring actor named Tom. He falls in love with a strong and independent young woman named Meg (Naomi Rukavina in her STC debut.) The pair met when they were performing together in their school’s production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Young love is a beautiful thing but this romance comes under fire thanks to Meg’s snobbish, ball-breaking mother Gwen (a terrifying, Heather Mitchell). Gwen believes her daughter is too good for this young boy — he’s the son of English immigrants (Julia Davis and Wadih Dona). Gwen also refuses to let up on her stronghold over the family, including her husband (Marco Chiappi), as well as the apron strings, much to Meg’s chagrin.

The other family out on holiday are the school principal (Glenn Hazeldine) and his shell of a wife, Coral (Natasha Herbert). This older couple is grappling with grief because their only son died in the Vietnam War. This is not the only allusion to death in this play, Tom has leukaemia and he learns that his diagnosis is bleak despite his parents’ best efforts to try and shield this dire news from him. This notion of children passing before their parents meant that Away was also described as being a meditation on the AIDS epidemic because this was happening in real life as Gow was writing it.

The lines in this play are very clever and sharp and Gow’s writing in superb. There are also some great little jokes peppering the script. Gow successfully traverses the lines between poignant and meaningful moments and themes like death, loss and conflict and other points that are quite joyous and fun (young love and the idealism of English immigrants in their new-found home, etc.)

The set itself is quite a minimalist one and this makes the audience focus on the actors and their different conflicts. There is a major change in the play where a storm erupts (thanks to some imaginary fairies) and thereafter the actors are bathed in a stark, white light. It’s interesting that in these moments where the tangible things are stripped away that the play’s most narcissistic and wealth-obsessed character can stop, take stock and learn about more important things in life than mere objects.

The actors prove a formidable ensemble cast. They are also extremely adept at realising this highly-versatile script and the many moods and themes that are often referenced in it. The actors should also be commended for their portrayal of Shakespeare’s finest characters and these complex and uniquely-Australian ones.

There is also some different musical interludes by composer J. David Franzke. The music during the scene changes is quite evocative and atmospheric, at once bringing to mind the carefree sixties and at other moments supporting the play’s darker themes.

Away is one entertaining and absorbing show about three different Australian families tackling with important, everyday issues in a tense and difficult atmosphere — the family Christmas holiday. There are moments that will make you laugh and other times where you will despair and cry. Away is ultimately a theatrical beast in every sense, because it plays with the notion of art in such a clever and skilful way and it appeals to our emotions in the most base, visceral and human sense. Amazing.

Photo credit: James Green

Originally published on 26 February 2017 at the following website: http://arts.theaureview.com/reviews/theatre-review-away-is-an-enduring-and-symbolic-look-at-life-conflict-the-family-christmas-holiday/

Visit The Au Review’s homepage dedicated to the arts at: http://arts.theaureview.com

FOOD REVIEW: HOLY DUCK! SYDNEY

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Daffy, Donald and Plucka are the names of famous ducks. But another one set to join their ranks is a little restaurant in Sydney called Holy Duck! It’s a casual eatery that’s been dubbed the younger, funkier brother of Chefs Gallery. It’s also another addition to the Sydney food trend for casual spin-offs of famous restaurants (see: Fratelli Famous, The Bavarian and Margherita & Co., to name a few.) Holy Duck! promises a relaxed, friendly atmosphere as well as great-quality food and drinks.

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Holy Duck! is the latest eatery to be conceived by Kaisern Ching, the man who brought us Chefs Gallery and Din Tai Fung. The duck menu items have always been popular ones at Chefs Gallery and Ching wanted a place where the delectable treat known as duck could be celebrated with a tasty fusion menu. Ching also wanted to turn the notion of eating duck on its head so that purists could enjoy it in the traditional way (in a roast, Peking-style and in pancakes) as well as with newer creative spins like in burgers and with different sauces and flavours.

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Holy Duck! is located in the recently revamped Kensington Street precinct in Chippendale. This is a bright restaurant with friendly staff. It has a cool, modern look with an industrial-feel and minimalist furniture. It’s a place where a diner could order take-away or sit and tuck into some tasty, street-style food. This is a place where you can sit and chat as a group or eat some quick things on the run with your hands because it caters to these different possibilities.

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The menu includes house specialities like roast duck. The crispy duck comes served with a delectable orange hoisin sauce as well cucumber and spring onions in quarter, half or whole sizes. This same flavour combination is found on the scrumptious What the Duck! burger. This comes with a brioche bun that is easily one of the tastiest burgers in Sydney (and it faces some stiff competition with the number of burger joints that have opened here of late). The best accompaniment to the burger is the moreish shoestring fries with duck salt that are incredibly tasty, as are the lotus root chips.

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For those diners that don’t want duck there are other burger varieties including crispy chicken, a caramelised sweet and sticky barbeque pork and a five-spice chickpea vegetable patty burger. The restaurant also sell roast and barbeque rice bowls that will impress discerning pork belly lovers (there are three different varieties) or alternatively there are roast duck and crispy fried shantung chicken options.

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Don’t be fooled by the name, Holy Duck! has a little something for everyone on its tasty menu. This new addition to the Sydney food scene looks poised to follow Ching’s other ventures in that it challenges your notion of Chinese food by fusing together modern techniques and concepts to make succulent roast and barbequed recipes and flavours. Holy Duck! offers simply the best of different camps as it combines an East-meets-West, street food via casual eats vibe, and offers something fresh and contemporary where a holy and humble little duckling can star and dance the funky chicken. Just kidding!

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Images supplied and used with permission.

 

Originally published in January 2017 at the following website: https://www.theaustraliatimes.com/magazine/gourmet/issue/501/#33

Visit The Australia Times’ homepage at: http://www.theaustraliatimes.com/

FOOD REVIEW: CHEFS GALLERY’S NEW SUMMER MENU

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Chefs Gallery has become a favourite for Sydneysiders who enjoy contemporary Chinese cuisine. The restaurant has a great menu but they also enjoy constantly evolving and introducing new items for hungry punters. The recent menu additions at this eatery include nine different snack-style skewers that are roasted over charcoals, as well as some fresh mains and desserts that are in keeping with the other dishes on offer.

Kai Sern Ching first introduced Sydney to high-quality Chinese food when he brought the Din Tai Fung chain to our city in 2008. In 2010 Chefs Gallery followed with a glamourous, flagship store in Regent Place, next door to Sydney’s iconic, Town Hall. Since then, Chefs Gallery has expanded into the suburbs with restaurants in Bankstown, Parramatta and Macquarie Centre, to name a few.

 

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The food at Chefs Gallery draws on and adds fresh twists on the four main traditions in Chinese cookery. This subsequently means that the eatery has a very diverse menu. There are noodles and breads inspired by the Northern school of thought; fish and rice dishes from the Eastern; spicy foods from the West; and items from Hong Kong that take their notes from the Southern tradition.

Chapas or Chinese-style tapas are the order of the day here. This is food that is designed to be shared and enjoyed amongst good company. A fine start to a meal is the new roast duck and citrus salad. This includes a selection of fresh green leaves, enoki mushrooms, almonds, cherry tomatoes and the restaurant’s signature duck sauce dressing. This is a fresh dish that boasts a balance of flavours and textures with the nutty crunch of the almonds mixing well with the sweet tomatoes and the moreish pieces of duck.

 

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A dish boasting a few surprises was the sweet and sour pork. This was not your glowing, red variety typically found in plastic Tupperware boxes at take-away stores, or at the bottom of the fridge. The Chefs Gallery variety was a dish fit for an emperor with crispy, golden pieces of pork in a glossy brown sauce and served with a beautiful, magenta flower made from cabbage. This pretty dish tasted as good as it looked.

 

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Another big surprise was the restaurant’s salt and pepper tofu. This one boasted the chef’s own handmade egg and spinach tofu, lightly fried in a golden batter. This gave a lovely, crunchy outer skin that counteracted nicely with the creamy soft centre of tofu. It was also topped with different spices including chilli and pepper. This has to be one of the best vegetarian dishes ever.

 

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Chefs Gallery’s restaurants are renowned for their handmade noodles. Patrons can watch the noodles being folded, stretched and made in the large open kitchen. A good way to sample these noodles is in the flavour-packed wok-fried noodles with sliced salted pork belly, fried egg, garlic chives, wood ear mushrooms, carrots and crispy pork belly crackling. The soy sauce had a divine smoky flavour and the noodles had a delightful sheen that almost served like a spotlight, making you realise how yummy this stir-fry is.

Sydneysiders love their pork belly. This could possibly be the reason why there are often queues outside of Chefs Gallery and other fine establishments. Their decadent Dongpo pork belly takes no less than six hours to prepare and is cooked with a medley of secret spices. The finished product has a beautiful, caramel texture and a serving that is very generous – it could almost feed a small army!

 

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This eatery is also known for their cute little piggy buns (filled with a sweet black sesame paste) for dessert. But there are also two new desserts that are likely to give these little piggies a run for their money. The mango granita served with coconut cream, slices of fruit and crunchy granola, looks poised to be the feel-good hit of the summer. In short, it’s quite light and refreshing.

 

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The sesame panna cotta with kaffir lime dusted meringue, Adzuki beans and sesame seed tuile, is great fun to eat. The tuile provides a crunchy sense of theatricality where you can “break” into as you do when smashing the top of a crème brûlée! The pana cotta’s smooth creaminess is also nicely contrasted by the small chunks of sweet meringue and tart fruits.

 

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Chefs Gallery is building a strong reputation for high-quality, contemporary Chinese cuisine. The addition of several new menu items manages to expand on the ideas that originated in the dishes that people have come to know and love, while also drawing some exciting surprises into the mix. At the end of the day Chefs Gallery is proving to be one great melting pot of fabulous ideas; their fresh and varied menu means you can pick and choose your very own sumptuous, Chinese banquet. Yum!

Originally published on 28 November 2016 at the following website: http://www.theaustraliatimes.com/magazine/gourmet/issue/411/#22

Visit The Australia Times’ homepage at: http://www.theaustraliatimes.com/

FOOD REVIEW: SMOOTH FESTIVAL OF CHOCOLATE (SYDNEY)

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On September 10 and 11 The Rocks became Sydney’s answer to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The Smooth Festival of Chocolate was celebrating its third year and it was bigger and brighter than ever. For one weekend, tens of thousands of people got to embrace their inner chocoholic and consume lots of chocolate, fudge, gelato, cronuts, doughnuts, brownies, freakshakes, muffins, macarons, cheesecakes, pastries and more. Put simply, it was joy on earth!

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In 2016 over 90 different stalls were on offer. This year saw an increase in the number of food trucks and lunchtime snacks so that people had a chance to get a tasty break from their sugar highs. One particular highlight was the Hoy Pinoy stall who turned their space into a mouth-watering outdoor barbeque, with skewers that were very succulent and quite divine!

 

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The festival featured a number of different parts, including a garden bar sponsored by the Bilpin Cider Co for adults, and a Darrell Lea chill-out area for families. The chocolate artisans could be found in the Overseas Passenger Terminal, selling their yummy packaged treats including Chocolab’s unique chocolate bars, and French chocolate brand Jeff de Bruges who have recently opened a store at Westfield Bondi.

 

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The Overseas Passenger Terminal was also home to two magnificent chocolate artworks by artist James Patrick. One was predominantly made of Lindt ball wrappers while the other saw Sydney Harbour immortalised in chocolate. Another huge drawcard was the Baked by Joanne stall. Joanne Smith’s amazing cake creations were a big hit with people after an amazing photograph or ten, and it was little wonder when her cakes were topped by upside down choc tops, lolly pops and Nutella jars spilling out their gooey goodness.

 

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The Callebaut Test Kitchen played host to demonstrations by a number of important pastry chefs like Christopher Thé (Black Star Pastry), Jean-Michel Raynaud (La Renaissance Patisserie) and Gigi Falanga (Zumbo’s Just Desserts) and Adriano Zumbo’s large stall was serving up sweet treats. We were fortunate enough to watch Anna Polyviou’s (Shangri-La Hotel) demonstration and she was an absolute treat. Polyviou is quite possibly the Ellen DeGeneres of pastry chefs. She was encouraging people to dance while tempering chocolate, she cracked lots of jokes and had her DJ friend play some tunes. But the funniest thing of all was seeing her throw one of her Anna’s Mess desserts (one that went viral thanks to MasterChef) at an audience member named Eddie who was a good sport about it.

 

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Further highlights included the sensational strawberry watermelon cake from Black Star Pastry and some interesting cronut sticks. On Sunday morning, Gelato Messina had sold out of two of their creations, the hazelnut Mucho Bueno Bar and the hilarious milk chocolate, Robert Brownie Jr. Bar. Chocolate fans could also get their own personalised block of Lindt Chocolate at the Lindt lounge. This spot was also selling three different éclair flavours: the standard chocolate as well as hazelnut and salted caramel.

 

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The Smooth Festival in Sydney was quite simply heaven for chocoholics. There was a little something for everyone at this fun festival. We were all like kids in candy shops here, except that this was in the picturesque surrounds of Sydney’s The Rocks area. It was a weekend where we could all forget or diets, embrace our inner child and eat chocolate like it was going out of fashion. See you next year!

 

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Originally published on 28 November 2016 at the following website: http://www.theaustraliatimes.com/magazine/gourmet/issue/411/#40

Visit The Australia Times’ homepage at: http://www.theaustraliatimes.com/

 

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FOOD REVIEW: SAKÉ JR

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Saké Jr proves that eating healthy does not need to leave you feeling hungry or unhappy. This fast and casual Japanese eatery located in the recently revamped Grosvenor Place complex in Sydney is the sister store to the fine-dining favourite, Saké Restaurant & Bar. It has a variety of fresh foods and drinks for sale but their biggest drawcard is that you can build your own Korean-inspired bowl ($15) or enjoy your own bowl and beer combination ($10) during their daily happy hour from 4pm until 7pm.

The menu at Saké Jr boasts ingredients that are gluten, preservative and GMO-free while also drawing on the flavours and techniques that people love from the Saké brand. The bowls are put together by navigating six separate steps with the first one (the base) featuring options like: bao buns, udon rice noodle sticks, mixed greens or one of two kinds of rice (brown or seasoned sushi.) The second process is to pick your protein from meats like grilled chicken or sesame soy pork (which has a tasty, crispy crackling), a vegetarian alternative (crispy tofu and shitake mushroom) or one of the many fish varieties (miso glazed cod, spicy salmon, pop-corn shrimp and classic tuna and avocado).

 

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Patrons can choose from an unlimited supply of vegetables including: Brussel sprouts, charred corn, ginger-glazed bok choy, steamed edamame, beans in black garlic sauce and seaweed. Avocado is also available for a little extra ($2.) The bowls can be topped with a sweet, apple soy ginger sauce or hotter dressings like Japanese salad dressing or wasabi ginger salsa (because as Seinfeld one said, “People like saying, “Salsa!””)

The bowls are finished with unlimited garnishes like: chilli threads, wasabi peas, toasted sesame seeds, fried garlic, wasabi furikake (a dry Japanese seasoning), togarashi (a blend of seven Japanese spices that would make Colonel Sanders blush), tempura crunch (the light batter used to garnish sushi or crunchy rolls) and toasted nori strips. The bowl can also have unlimited amounts of chilli oil, Japanese pickled cucumber, pickled ginger, scallions and daikon and carrot slaw.

 

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They are open from 7:30AM and have brekkie bowls ($9) available with proteins that match the early morning start. They include: scrambled eggs, bacon, Japanese hash browns and crispy pork belly. There is also muesli ($5), fruit salad ($6), banana bread ($5) and a hot soy milk porridge ($8) available. Another great alternative to a bacon and egg muffin is the bacon and egg roll bao buns available at $5 for two pieces or $7.50 with a regular coffee.

Saké Jr also have a great variety of grab-and-go options including various soups ($4-8), sushi rolls ($10-16) and dumplings ($16.) The desserts feature a number of refreshing and fruity sorbets and ice-creams ($5-6) and there are hot and cold beverages for sale. The cold drinks include two of the restaurant’s namesake, sake, as well as two craft beers brewed by the group’s very own, Urban Brew Co. There is the light hattori hit girl ($8.50), which is made with Australian hops and the mildly bitter, blushing geisha ($8.50).

 

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As the dining scenes across the world continue to move towards a more health and fitness conscious life, it’s becoming increasingly important for us to think a bit healthier when it comes to quick and casual, even if it’s not always easy to do so. There can be no excuses when you consider that a place like Saké Jr exists, it’s the ideal spot for those who want to eat, feel and look good while enjoying food that is healthy, tasty and full of flavour.

Saké Jr

Address: Grosvenor Place, 225 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Website: http://www.sakejr.com.au/
Hours: Mon-Fri 7.30am-8pm, Sat-Sun 9am-6pm. Breakfast until 11am.

Images supplied and credited to Kitti Gould.

Originally published on 11 November 2016 at the following website: http://food.theaureview.com/dining/review-sake-jr-cbd-sydney/

Visit The Au Review’s homepage dedicated to dining and food at: http://food.theaureview.com/

FOOD REVIEW: THE ROCKS FOODIE TRAIL

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Let all Australians rejoice for we have some of the world’s prettiest landmarks in our own backyard. A case in point is Sydney’s historic The Rocks area. The traditional lands of the Gadigal (Cadigal) people of the Eora nation, 2016 embraces this precinct as home to history, art, culture and food, with over 50 cafes, restaurants and bars. We invite you on a journey of discovery to sample a little of what The Rocks has to offer.

 

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This part of Sydney is home to lots of historic buildings and Sydney’s very first road. It was originally named Main Street and later renamed George Street after King George III in 1810. This area has been subject to various regeneration efforts to the shops and buildings, with the work set to continue into the future. It’s a place that has seen its fair share of progress: in the 1970s it was earmarked for redevelopment but was saved thanks to activists and conservationists like Jack Mundey. Today it boasts a vibrant culture and beautiful architecture, in addition to being a food lover’s dream.

 

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Fine Food is the perfect place to have a casual breakfast or brunch. Inspired by Brooklyn-style cafes, it has proudly been serving local craft beer, wine and coffee since 2004. The coffees are a particular drawcard, with drip coffee, cold brews and single origin espressos on offer. This cosy place is situated next to The Rocks Discovery Museum and offers fragrant brews that any discerning coffee drinker can appreciate.

 

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Another amazing find at The Rocks is a restaurant called Pony, situated in a former bond warehouse. Head chef, Neil Nolan has been a mainstay at this eatery for ten years, and is instrumental in producing an eclectic menu that is cooked in a large open kitchen and over an Argentinean wood fire oven. Their roasted heirloom beets include yellow and traditional beetroot presented in a variety of different ways, including as a crisp as well as pureed and roasted. The perfect complement to the creamy burrata cheese and the sweet, candied hazelnuts.

 

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Pony also has a large communal table on the outdoor deck. Such an environment was the appropriate time to sample some seared kangaroo. What a surprise to discover the gaminess of the lean kangaroo meat was toned down thanks to the addition of crunchy, native pepper berries and tart berries such as raspberry.

 

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This restaurant also offered an exquisite JR signature sirloin with an Argentinian chimichurri sauce. This meat was cooked to perfection and has a nice little char from the wood fire oven. The sauce meanwhile, is based on parsley, onion, garlic and chilli and just made everything pop!

 

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Scarlett Restaurant wins the prize for being the most chameleon-like space in the area. The restaurant is located in the Harbour Rocks Hotel and the building served as Sydney’s first hospital. They have a beautiful garden terrace offering serenity and calm with a view overlooking the historic nurses walk. It’s a great place to sip a Scarlett’s Dirty Mojito, a sparkling concoction of muddled lime and sugar with Stolen spiced rum and topped with soda.

 

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The Rocks is host to a number of different public art pieces including one dedicated to Mundey, and a view of Brown Bear Lane (later Little Essex Street in 1901.) There is also a cute little dog sculpture dedicated to Biggles, a deceased schnauzer dog and former friend of The Rocks. It is these those iconic treasures along with a sandstone rich environment still boasting a supply of old post and telephone boxes, which gives this place its unique, old-world charm.

 

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On Fridays The Rocks also plays host to a Foodie market from 9am – 3pm. The stalls include chocolates and other artisan products as well as street food-style offerings. Danieli BBQ Skewers sell a number of delicious skewers including Moroccan lamb, haloumi, prawns and peri-peri chicken, to name a few.


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Pei Modern is a contemporary restaurant located in the five-star Four Seasons Hotel and is headed up by leading Australian chef Mark Best. The team have also welcomed a recent addition to their troupes in award-winning pastry chef, Lauren Eldridge. She has revamped their dessert menu while also keeping true to Pei Modern’s overall vision of exploring unconventional food pairings. Eldridge is not a sweet tooth herself, opting to craft desserts that she and others like her can enjoy, including desserts that are not too rich or sugary.

 

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Eldridge creates her own wildflower honeycomb, served with a sweet, cultured cream… like the world’s most exquisite crunchy bar! The salted liquorice cake and molasses ice-cream, in an ice-cream hinting of coffee notes. The Rocks is no stranger to chocoholics with their yearly Smooth Chocolate Festival. Pei Modern caters beautifully here with their bitter chocolate tart and cumquat jam.

 

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The Rocks is a place blessed in terms of its rich history and plentiful supply of places to eat, drink and relax. It is certainly fun to don the tourist cap and step back in time, while sampling some of Sydney’s finest and freshest contemporary Australian cuisine. The Rocks is ultimately a place where you can enjoy and celebrate the past, present and future, as you walk away with a full belly and a warm heart.

 

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Originally published in October at the following website: http://www.theaustraliatimes.com/magazine/gourmet/issue/410/#41

Visit The Australia Times’ homepage at: http://www.theaustraliatimes.com/

INTERVIEW: WINE ISLAND’S FOUNDER KRISTEN FRANCIS

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Wine Island is an annual boutique wine festival which is set on Clark Island, in the picturesque Sydney Harbour. The four-day event allows patrons to learn about and experience different wines and foods, in a luxurious island setting. It sounds like a wonderful holiday idea except you may not even need to leave “home” and you can participate and learn a lot thanks to some wonderful tastings and masterclasses. The Australia Times Gourmet sat down for a chat with Kristen Francis, the founder and director of Wine Island to learn more about this exciting event.

 

  1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and describe your involvement in Wine Island?

 

Aloha!  I’m Kristen Francis, the founder and director of Wine Island.

 

  1. How long have you been involved with Wine Island? How did you come to be involved?

 

I came up with the idea a few years ago when I noticed that we had some beautiful and relatively untouched islands on our back doorstep.  At the time I didn’t think of how difficult producing an event on an island would be!

 

  1. Italy has around 500 different grape varieties and it looks like Wine Island may have a focus on Italian varieties. What is your favourite variety and why?

 

My go-to wine is Riesling. It reminds me of my grandfather, however it tastes a lot more refined these days!

Lately though, I’ve been delving into a lot of prosecco, “researching” our King Valley winemakers who will be showcasing this variety on the island at King Valley Prosecco Road.

 

  1. What are you most looking forward to at Wine Island? Why?

 

I always like to know a bit more about the story behind the wine, so I’m really looking forward to chatting to the island winemakers and also taking part in some of the masterclasses.  We’re introducing a silent disco to educate people on music and wine matching along with a Dessert Island class where stickies will take centre stage, something I’m sure they’re not used to.

 

  1. Wine Island takes place at Clark Island. Why was this location chosen?

 

It’s such a beautiful little island and no one really knows it exists.  In fact, Sydney has a lot of islands that most of us are unaware of.  I just wanted to create a little holiday in our backyard and show off Sydney to both locals and tourists.

 

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  1. Wine Island looks set to feature a number of masterclasses. Can you tell us more about this? Do you have one in particular that you’re looking forward to?

 

We’ve expanded our masterclasses this year as they were a big hit in 2015.  Part ofWine Island’s philosophy is unique wines in a unique location so we will be featuring all the tongue-twisting grape varieties that are up and coming.  There’ll be a Bubbles Off! which will feature sparkling and prosecco.  We also like to match-make so there’ll be a cheese and wine masterclass along with our silent disco drops, which is all about music and wine matching, which I’m interested in exploring a lot further as they’re two of my favourite things.

 

  1. Why do you think people should attend Wine Island?

 

Wine Island is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves wine, relaxing, great company and something ‘oh so Sydney’ in equal measure. It’s about combining our love affair with this beautiful city with quirky yet laid-back experiences with wine, food and culture. This is the place where you can feel like you’re leaving the city while entering the very heart of it.

 

  1. In your opinion, what makes a good wine? What things make good pairings with wine?

 

Wine is very subjective. So for me, I really enjoy an old smoky style of cab sav.  Then for a perfect pairing it’d have to be a good tawny port with blue cheese.

 

  1. Can you tell us about what kinds of food will be available at Wine Island? Why were these particular foods chosen?

 

We have a high-end BBQ featuring kingfish, maple-glazed pork and pepperberry corn paired up with vermouth by Banksii Vermouth Bar & Bistro (opening in Oct at Barangaroo). This will also feature 4 -5 of Australia’s up-and-coming vermouth brands which is one of those old-school wines we like to re-introduce and educate visitors on.

 

Pairing up with the King Valley Prosecco Road winemakers, who will also be showcasing Italian varieties, will be Italian food hut Puntino / A.P.E. featuring bowls of mussels, pasta wheels, etc.

 

Then Chur Burger will be teaming up with GAGE Roads Brewing Co. from Fremantle to introduce a beer infused burger, and to finish off the complementary food offerings, we have Hunter Valley Cheese Factory platters and roaming oyster shuckers so you needn’t lift a finger.

 

  1. Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers of The Australia Times Gourmet magazine about Wine Island Sydney or wine in general?

 

Not only are we unique by location, but we also like to show off unique wines for a further point of difference.  Winemakers are experimental at heart and wine drinkers like to try different grape varieties and learn more about the process, but in a fun and relaxing environment which is exactly what Wine Island offers.  There is nothing else like it in Sydney, or the world for that matter!

The other thing that makes Wine Island special, is it’s a small island so only limited capacity which give each guest a first class experience.  No crowds here, just you and a few hundred of your closest friends.

 

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Wine Island takes place at Clark Island, Sydney Harbour from: Thursday 10 November to Sunday 13 November 2016 inclusive. For more information and tickets please visit:http://www.wineisland.com.au/

 

Originally published in October at the following website:http://www.theaustraliatimes.com/magazine/gourmet/issue/410/#20

Visit The Australia Times’ homepage at: http://www.theaustraliatimes.com/

FOOD ARTICLE: FRATELLI FAMOUS & THE BAVARIAN (WORLD SQUARE SYDNEY)

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Hands up who thinks pizza and beer is a winning combination. For those who agree then there’s a new restaurant to add to your bucket list, a clever dual-concept pairing of Fratelli Famous and The Bavarian at World Square from the rapidly expanding Urban Purveyor Group. The restaurant features a communal bar, shared indoor and outdoor seating and separate kitchens producing pizzas – with a DIY focus – and assorted German finery.

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Fratelli Famous – the casual sister restaurant to Fratelli Fresh – have three different pizza bases available. There is a light and crispy sourdough where the dough is fermented with a starter culture. There is also the Napolitana, a classic dough that yields a thin and crispy base. The kitchen offers an eight-inch gluten free variety (the other bases are available in eight and 12 inch sizes) that has gluten-free flour in place of semolina flour.

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There is a real technique to working and stretching the dough. The pizza side of the restaurant has nine classic savoury pizzas on sale (each $14) as well as breakfast and dessert varieties. As with the other Fratelli Famous which now fits in nicely at Westfield Sydney, you can create your own pizza here. According to Pizza Executive Chef, William the key to a great topping is to find the right balance of flavours.

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Once you have selected your base it’s time to choose a sauce. There are four different kinds to choose from including a green pine nut pesto and a white one made up predominantly of fior di latte cheese. There are also two red varieties made of San Marzano tomatoes and one of these has been cooked with Italian meatballs for a heartier, full-bodied flavour. The next step is to select your cheese from a range including feta and vegan cheese as well as an array of Italian ones (gorgonzola, fior de latte mozzarella, fontina, scamorza and parmesan.)

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There is a range of seasonings available including oregano, chilli flakes, fennel seeds and salts. The proteins feature various Italian cured meats (pancetta, salami and nduja) as well as chorizo, ham and lemon-roasted chicken. To balance out the meats there vegetable, fruit and nut toppings including broccolini, mushroom, olives, eggplant and pine nuts. The pizza is cooked for 90 seconds and can then be dressed with chilli oil, hot buffalo or sweet barbeque sauce. Fratelli Famous also allow people to create their own salads and they have a number of different ingredients available.

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The Bavarian is the sister restaurant to the Bavarian Bier Café, a fast causal spin-off that over on the German side of the restaurant has 17 beers on tap and plenty more for sale in bottles. This is the place where there is a beer for everyone with casual drinkers typically favouring the sweeter, malty varieties, while your beer aficionados go for ones with hops flavours and astringent tastes. Urban Purveyor Group also own the Urban Brewing Co. where they create 11 exclusive craft beers.

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The Bavarian stable of restaurants are famous for their steins so it’s important that the beers don’t contain too much carbon dioxide otherwise they would create some slight abdominal discomfort in the drinker. The bartenders are very knowledgeable and can suggest food pairings to accompany the beers and signatures across schnitzels, burgers, sausages and pork dishes.

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Some of the beers available range from the subtle and sweet Italian style lager,Bella Birra all the way up to the bitter and hoppy, Devil’s Daughter Indian Pale Ale (IPA). The Bavarian has recently launched a seasonal, summer brew called Sweet Caroline, which would make Neil Diamond proud because she’s a very refreshing and drinkable drop. Sweet Caroline also has a slight astringency which lends the beer a fine, moorish quality. One of the few dark lagers to be found in Australia is the Hofbräu Dunkel, which boasts a sweet quality reminiscent of caramel. It’s a stark contrast to the spicy Butcher’s Bride Pale Ale with its grassy notes and dry finish. The group’s house lager, The Munich is a great one to end a night on and it’s a smooth and refreshing drink.

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The Bavarian have a beer passport promotion running until 31st December this year: if you sample eight of their beers across multiple settings and get your passport stamped you receive a limited edition t-shirt and go in the running to win a private beer and pizza party for up to 20 people.

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The partnership between Fratelli Famous and The Bavarian is an unexpected match – it’s not everyday you see a restaurant split into Italian and German – but it works incredibly well for the area. This dual-concept store in Sydney looks poised to be a big hit, and those out west can be rest assured they’ll be getting one soon enough in Penrith.

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Originally published on 19 October 2016 at the following website: http://food.theaureview.com/news/fratelli-famous-the-bavarian-team-up-for-dual-opening-in-world-square-sydney/

Visit The Au Review’s homepage dedicated to dining and food at: http://food.theaureview.com/

LIVE REVIEW: JIMMY BARNES @ ENMORE THEATRE SYDNEY (27.08.2016)

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We all know Jimmy Barnes is the quintessential working class man and he will also be known as the “Working Class Boy” when his autobiography is realised. But after his recent Soul Searchin’ tour culminated in a stellar, sold-out show at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney he should also add “Soul Man” to his list of achievements.

This tour was to promote his latest record, Soul Searchin.’ Some 25 years after the release of his most successful solo record, Soul Deep, Barnes continues to entertain people by thumbing through and selecting choice cuts from an old soul song-book. The 60-year-old former front man of Cold Chisel played an energetic two-part set that saw this soul train rock in at well over the two hour mark.

Barnes was backed by a tight, 10-piece band and this showman made things look so effortless. “Hard Working Woman” had a real funk and groove as Barnes delivered his rough and raw vocals. In “Cry To Me” Barnes had the opportunity to tone down his trademark hollering and instead adopt more of a croon. It was a stunning rendition while a cover of David Bowie’s “All The Young Dudes” proved to be a nice ballad and a respectful doff of the cap to the Thin White Duke.

“Mustang Sally” was the first song to really get the punters up and dancing. This also boasted some perfect backing vocals by Jade McRae, Gary Pinto (CDB) and Mahalia Barnes (the latter had recently given birth and was subbed in to replace Juanita Tippins who had injured herself the previous night.) “Bad Girl” had all of the raw angst of Lee Moses’s original song before Messer Barnes declared that Wilson Pickett was his favourite singer of all time and played a searing “In The Midnight Hour.” This one really saw the horn section come into their element.

The group also worked their way through a series of duets. McRae offered “Reflections” while Pinto had some big shoes to fill when he took John Farnham’s place for “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby.” This was lovely and as soft and sweet as a lullaby, but unfortunately Pinto was often drowned out by Barnsey. This was not the case for Mahalia who seemed to capture the soaring spirit of Tina Turner in “River Deep, Mountain High.” This was heavenly and it was interesting that Messer Barnes said he learnt to sing from Tina Turner after he snuck into her Adelaide show in the seventies and watched her from the front row.

The second set included some more powerful funk and opportunities to get up and dance. Steve Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” was wonderful and bombastic. The main set also came to a rousing end with “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” the crazy ‘na na’s of Wilson Pickett’s “Land of 1000 Dances” and the Chess Records classic, “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher.” The encore also included some more swaggering soul, especially in “Hold On, I’m Coming.” But it was The Beatles’s “Hey Jude” that closed the night with a gorgeous sing-along and some enthusiastic lighters being waved in the air.

Jimmy Barnes’s Sydney show still managed to pack a punch even though he was playing us some soul songs and some of these could still be considered forgotten gems. Barnes delivered the tracks with a real heartfelt feeling and conviction and he proved himself to be an amazing showman who also shows no signs to slowing down. This Soul-Searchin’ tour saw Barnsey in his element, playing his favourite soul, R & B and blues standards in the company of family, friends and fans. It was a show that reached out and captured your heart, mind and soul and rocked it to its core.

Jimmy Barnes live at the Enmore Theatre Sydney set list:
1. Hard Working Woman
2. She’s Lookin’ Good
3. Cry To Me
4. All The Young Dudes
5. Mustang Sally
6. Bad Girl
7. The Dark End Of The Street
8. The Stealer
9. In The Midnight Hour
10. When Something Is Wrong With My Baby
11. You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover
12. Mercy
13. Lonely For You Baby
14. Shake, Rattle & Roll
15. Keep A-Knockin’ (But You Can’t Come In)
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16. My Baby Just Cares For Me
17. That’s Right
18. Hound Dog
19. I Gotcha
20. Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours
21. Reflections
22. Stagger Lee
23. Show Me
24. Rip It Up
25. Money (That’s What I Want)
26. What Becomes Of The Broken-hearted
27. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
28. River Deep, Mountain High
29. (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher
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30. Many Rivers To Cross
31. Chain Of Fools
32. Hold On, I’m Comin’
33. Hey Jude

Originally published on 29 August 2016 at the following website: http://magazine.100percentrock.com/live-reviews/201608/197401

Visit 100% Rock’s homepage at: http://magazine.100percentrock.com/

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