Sunday, September 30, 2007

Garden party, ganache, and chargrilled ribs

Went to Sydney two weekends ago to attend my former housemates' engagement party, set in a homey Aussie backyard. Aaronwe, being the assigned official wedding photographer (or rather close to it), went fully loaded with his 35mm's. It was a very close-knit event with mostly families and friends of families present, who added up to be quite a grand affair on a quiet street of a sunny Sydney suburb. And the great variety and portion of food more than satisfied the epicure in me, ranging from prawn cocktails to homemade fried chicken with sweet chilli and the elegant cheese-topped engagement cake with poppyseed, an implicitly euphemistic symbol of posterity.

That night we went for a night out with the newly engaged and a few close friends to the Star City Casino to catch up and acquaint. After a round of Jim Beams the groom-to-be set out to try a few hands on the tables while we tagged along. That evening coincided with Footy night so you could see not only punters but animated fans cheering loudly in front of the live broadcast in the halls, occasionally jumping out of their seats under the overhead widescreen with each near-miss. The groom-to-be cut his losses and called it the day with a couple of twenties short but the night went on for many others as we left.

After we parted ways with our hosts, we stopped by McDonald's on our walk back to the hotel for supper. Man! was it filled with nocturnal creatures out looking for food. It seemed that the Name-it-burger was still called that in Sydney (or at least in that particular Mackers store) after some lady has named it the Backyard Burger, eternally securing a wall space in the company's burger-naming hall of fame.

The morning prior has got to be the epicurean highlight of the trip for Aaronwe, Amazing Grace and myself as we headed to the local 朱媽媽 (translit. Joo Mamma) in Chinatown for a definitive Chinese-Taiwanese breakfast, such that couldn't be easily found in Melbourne: congees of the classic variety and the accompanying must-have, 油條 or deep-fried rice flour sticks—talk about blood cholesterol! The following morning our chomp mission was topped by a yumcha-style brunch at Zilver Restaurant at 477 Pitt Street, where many Hong Kong TV celebrities such as Miriam Yeung and Raymond Lam have been spotted clawing their chicken feet in black bean sauce. As it is the yumcha custom to take a number and wait for an eternity before you're seated, it was especially so for this patron-packed restaurant as we waited for almost an hour before our number was called to find out what the hype was all about. And it turned out that it wasn't all hype! There was no easy way to describe the overwhelming exquisiteness of the dim sums at Zilver but all who came out were guaranteed to be spoiled for the money (which cost slightly higher than your average yumcha). It must have been then that all three of us became city converts and decided that we are, after all, Sydneysiders at heart.

Later in the day we visited the Lindt Chocolat Café on Martin Place, another agitating exclusive to Sydneysiders. As this lazy reviewer quotes a review in Sydney Morning Herald, "It's the Disney store of brand-name chocolate and always, always full—perhaps because its predominantly twentysomething crowd likes to take its pleasures slowly, preferably molten and mostly milky. In decor that combines white, milk and dark shades, you'll find hot chocolate in similar tones, with a frothy jug of scalded milk on the side. Then there are chocolate cakes (spectacularly constructed into domes, slices, discs and squares) plus a selection of chocolate ice-creams, coffee with chocolate macaroons, shakes and sundaes, to have here or to go." Et voilà! my experience in another's words.

Excited as we are by this short trip, with the property price in NSW soaring above that of Victoria I can't yet foresee a near future residing in Sydney. But I did have a moment that night strolling along the Darling Harbour. One that I haven't had in years. The warm fuzzy kind. Maybe it's just the lights.

And I'll always remember... takeaway pork ribs in our hotel room the night before we left.

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