Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong

Starting 2014 with a bang Down Under

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Better late than never- HAPPY NEW YEAR readers! Every year I’m astonished at how time flies and given that it is February already, I guess I really am in some sort of time warp. I have a bit of blogging catch-up to do but nothing keeps one more busy than travelling (wedding season!) coinciding with big holidays (Xmas, New Year, Chinese New Year). It must be a sign of old age when you and your friends constantly whinge about how the months are whipping by and how we “only just celebrated a New Year, how is it New Year AGAIN?” But this year the start of 2014 whilst low-key, was a little different- we were in Sydney to ring it in!

New Year in Sydney is all about the fireworks and we were fortunate to be at our friends’ place at Milson’s Point, a stone’s throw away from undoubtedly, one of the best spots to view the spectacular fireworks. I haven’t been fussed about fireworks for a few years and never really had the will to fight my way through the crowds in Hong Kong and freeze my butt off in London, but this time it had to be done. Our NYE dinner was a different experience too. Our friends had busted out the BBQ in true Aussie style and were producing all sorts of fare, including some highly addictive minced beef pies (courtesy of the oven not the BBQ pit, though that would have been REALLY impressive). Then, the time came for childlike wonderment. Cue an eighteen or so strong group of slightly inebriated friends stumbling over hill and over dale in Bradfield Park jostling with everyone to get a good spot. And I must say, I was quite enchanted by the fireworks. I’m afraid I don’t have any photos of the amazing BBQ spread, you will just have to take my word for it that our friend was quite masterful, even when drunk, but here are some photos of the fireworks captured on my humble phone. Sydney fireworks Sydney fireworks Sydney fireworks Sydney fireworks

To book dinners and lunches for a group of sixteen over several days was a bit of a nightmare, and I must say, aside from the exorbitant prices of some of our meals and some shockingly bad service, two meals stood out. One was a trip to the Sydney Fish Market and the other, to a lovely Italian restaurant in Surrey Hills.

Sydney Fish Market was just a glorious, roofed collection of retailers and restaurants housing the freshest array of seafood. To say that we gorged is a bit of an understatement. The raw seafood as well as the cooked was delicious. IMG_8670 IMG_8671 IMG_8672 IMG_8662 IMG_8663 IMG_8664 IMG_8665

Our exceptionally organised friend S, and Sydney Cordon Bleu alumni booked us lunch at a lovely Italian restaurant A Tavola, in Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, and on that day, the sun was shining, a fine breeze was blowing and we found ourselves hauling our asses up a fairly large hill to our destination. But it was worth the sweat. A Tavola was a fine example of how fresh pasta should be done; heartily, excellently and with gusto and no pretension. Simplicity at its best.

A Tavola

A Tavola

Our huge group sat at a long table and watched the chefs roll and shape fresh pasta next to us. The space is small but it was a hive of activity and the staff were smiley and friendly. We had a set menu of 3 Primi courses, 3 Secondi and 2 Salads to enjoy plus an additional dessert that we could not resist. Price point wise, the final bill was $94 AUS per person ($650HK).IMG_8552

Mesmorised by pasta

Mesmorised by pasta

Out of our Primi courses, I absolutely adored the Swiss brown mushrooms, peas, mint and ricotta salad and the fried Salami with polenta.

 Swiss brown mushrooms, peas, mint and ricotta salad

Swiss brown mushrooms, peas, mint and ricotta salad

Buffalo Mozzarella and proscuitto

Buffalo Mozzarella and proscuitto

Fried Salami Veneto

Fried Salami Veneto

The mains were beautiful but the Hand-cut pappardelle with slow braised beef in a red wine and horseradish reduction was the winner, although the pan-fried fish was also sublime.

Hand-cut pappardelle with slow braised beef

Hand-cut pappardelle with slow braised beef

Tagliatelle with cherry tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and basil

Tagliatelle with cherry tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and basil

Bonus pasta dish- can't remember what this was!

Bonus pasta dish- can’t remember what this was!

Pan fried market fish with dill mayonnaise, green olives and orange

Pan fried market fish with dill mayonnaise, green olives and orange

Chocolate ganache

Chocolate ganache

Oh, and the dessert? Even the most savoury of teeth would not be able to resist their Chocolate ganache with Amaretto biscuit concoction. My brain went into sugar overdrive when I tasted their homemade salt caramel ice-cream and torched meringue.

And so we left with blissful, satiated smiles and a leisurely walk back to the city centre with nothing but what was to be a gorgeous wedding and the Blue mountains to enjoy in the coming days.

IMG_8820

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5 

A Tavola, 348 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010. Tel: +61 02 9331 7871

Email: reservationsdarlinghurst@atavola.com.au Opening times: Dinner Mon-Sat 6pm-late, Lunch Friday 12pm- 3pm

Sydney Fish Market, Pyrmont Bridge Rd, Pyrmont NSW 2009, Australia

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Author: chopstixfix

Michelle Ng is a Brit born Chinese-Malaysian who has loved food since time immemorial. She is a firm believer in "Live to Eat, not Eat to Live".

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