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November 2011

OUT & ABOUT

Dining and drinking this November

OUT & ABOUT

WORDS ROBERTA MUIR

THE LONG LUNCH (FOR LESS)

Sydney may be home to Australia’s showcase restaurants but you can still eat like a king on a pauper’s budget with these great lunch (and dinner) deals.

• Marque Restaurant’s Friday prix fixe lunch menu sets the benchmark. In the evening you’ll pay AU$150 to sample chef Mark Best’s cooking, but come Friday lunchtime AU$45 buys you three courses of innovative food from #70 on The World’s 100 Best Restaurants list. The menu changes weekly, but expect dishes such as slow-cooked free-range egg with mushroom & potato; blue-eye trevalla with mustard, pickled tapioca, celery & brown butter; and smoked vanilla millefeuille with apple & violet. 4/5 355 Crown St, Surry Hills, tel: +61 (2) 9332 2225.

• Restaurant Assiette, a fine- diner tucked down a Surry Hills street, may have been where the Friday lunch special began — and at AU$35 for three-courses, it still represents some of the best value in town. The menu changes weekly and chef Warren Turnbull thoughtfully offers a choice in each course: try choosing between chicken, pea & mushroom risotto with herb crème fraîche or pan-fried dory with pumpkin & beetroot couscous, feta & almonds; and pannacotta with strawberries & raspberry sorbet or apple & rhubarb compote with vanilla ice cream. A great selection of wines by the glass ups the value. 48 Albion St, Surry Hills, tel: +61 (2) 9212 7979.

• Jeremy Bentley (formerly of London’s The Square and Restaurant Balzac) opened The Devonshire in Surry Hills last year in partnership with former boss Matthew Kemp. Each Friday, they experiment with new dishes during a AU$35 lunch special. This is great value for delicious modern European food. The menu changes weekly, but expect the likes of gravlax & salmon fishcake with dill & pickled new-season onions and roast lamb rump, olive gnocchi, silk eggplant & rosemary. 204 Devonshire St, Surry Hills, tel: +61 (2) 9698 9427.

• Brent Savage cut his culinary teeth at Marque before opening Bentley Restaurant & Bar. Now he’s capturing the imagination of Sydney’s diners with his cutting-edge, balanced, produce- driven dishes. Skip the AU$120 degustation dinner for the fi ve- course fixed-price degustation lunch (Tuesday–Saturday) at AU$55. Discover dishes such as pumpkin custard with pumpkin seed & goat’s curd; pork belly with wattle, garlic milk & rhubarb; and caramelised pineapple with barley cream & beer sorbet. 320 Crown St, Surry Hills, tel: +61 (2) 9332 2344.

• If you can’t make lunch, check out Claude’s new Mighty Bouche dinners. Every Tuesday evening, chef Chui Lee Luk invites diners to join the creative process by offering a menu of new dishes that she’s developing for both fine diner Claude’s and the more casual Chow. For just AU$75 you’ll taste a series of savoury and sweet dishes centred on seasonal produce. 10 Oxford St, Woollahra, tel: +61 (2) 9331 2325.

MARK BEST
“We wanted to reach a broader audience at a lower price point, so we decided to offer a market- driven menu changing weekly for Friday lunch”

COOKBOOKS FOR KEEPS

These divine cookbooks promise a year of memorable meals, making them perfect presents

ZUMBO BY ADRIANO ZUMBO
This first book by the Willy Wonka of pâtisserie will delight Zumbo’s legions of fans. From the wonderful macaron fl avours which helped launch his fame, to chapters on spectacular pastries and gorgeous gateaux, there’s something for every baker. Murdoch Books, AU$49.99, ISBN 9781 741 968 040.

MARQUE: A CULINARY ADVENTURE BY MARK BEST
This beautifully illustrated tome covers the journey of the chef- owner of one of four Australian restaurants on The World’s Best 100 Restaurants list. Signature recipes will provide many hours of kitchen inspiration for ambitious cooks. Hardie Grant, AU$79.95, ISBN 9781 742 702 339.

HUNGRY: FOOD FROM MY HEART BY GUY MIRABELLA
This beautiful collection of simple, southern Italian home-style fare features savoury dishes ranging from a salad of broad beans, zucchini, fior di latte and mint to char-grilled beef with sweet Hungarian peppers and oregano, while sweet treats include the dramatic tutu trifle. Pan Macmillan Australia, AU$49.99, ISBN 9781 405 040 525.

THE ART OF PASTA BY LUCIO GALLETTO & DAVID DALE
This latest offering from one of Sydney’s best-loved Italian restaurateurs walks us through how to make, cook and sauce different types of pasta, from a classic spaghetti vongole to a Tuscan-inspired chocolate tagliatelle with wild boar ragù or pretty beetroot-filled casunziei with poppy seeds. Lantern (Penguin), AU$59.95, ISBN 9781 921 382 284.

COMFORT AND SPICE BY NIAMH SHIELDS
Full-flavoured, easy recipes have won UK blogger Niamh Shields a firm following, with The Times including her blog, Eat Like A Girl, in its top 10 food blogs worldwide. Her first book offers a cross-section of dishes, from the spiced Christmas beef of her native Ireland to sweets such as raspberry and rose tart. Hardie Grant, AU$34.95, ISBN 9781 849 490 122.

HOMEMADE BY ANNA GARE
If you just want some good, honest, home cooking — this is the book for you. Perth-based caterer and Junior MasterChef judge, Anna Gare presents favourite recipes from her kitchen — dishes she whips up for family meals or impromptu feasts with friends, such as this delicious Festive Cake. Fremantle Press, AU$49.95, ISBN 9781 921 696 664.

HIGH FLYING WINES

Meet two of the experts responsible for selecting the wines on Jetstar’s fl ights, as they share what’s new, what’s good, what they’re drinking and how they decide what you’ll be drinking

Writer Matt Skinner has a happy knack for making wine simple through his international bestsellers Thirsty Work, Heard It Through The Grapevine, The Juice, and Matt Skinner’s Wine Guide 2011. A co-founder of Fifteen Restaurant with Jamie Oliver and Tobie Puttock, he also consults to Melbourne and Sydney restaurants.

BEST NEW RIESLINGS FOR SUMMER?
Too many to choose from! Pewsey Vale & Jim Barry W Riesling from South Australia are both tried-and-tested performers, while Bests Riesling 2011 from Victoria is mouth- watering, delicious and the perfect partner to your favourite Thai take-away.

BEST NEW BUBBLES FOR CHRISTMAS?
Dal Zotto L’Immigrante Prosecco 2010 is the best example of its kind in the country, and is very affordable. Bottle fermented (à la Champagne), it shows a level of depth and complexity rarely associated with this variety.

FAVOURITE AUSTRALIAN WINE REGION?
Probably the Yarra Valley, as that’s the region in which I’ve spent the most time. Beyond the diversity of wine styles, I love the people, the surrounds, the history and the strong sense of community.

EXCITING NEW WINE TRENDS?
I’m loving the number of weird and wonderful blends, red and white, currently hitting the market — wines with three or more varietials that are generally great with food, and offer something genuinely different for the drinker to experience.

HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT TASTING AND CHOOSING WINE FOR JETSTAR’S SELECTION ONBOARD?
Anna (Pooley, the third member of Jetstar’s tasting panel), Usher and I get together in Melbourne regularly to sniff, swirl, spit and argue our way through a couple of hundred samples over the course of a day, which are masked to conceal their identities. As winemakers, both are also brilliant tasters, and the process we follow ensures only the best wines get through.

FAVOURITE JETSTAR DESTINATION?
Tokyo, Japan. Beyond the friendly people and the über-clean city, it’s a melting pot of culture and ideas which continues to shape the world of drink, art, fashion and technology. What’s not to love?

Usher Tinkler grew up on his family’s Hunter Valley vineyard, started by his grandfather in 1943, where he learnt the basics of winemaking literally from the ground up. Today, he’s chief winemaker for Pooles Rock, Cockfi ghter’s Ghost and Firestick Wines.

BEST NEW RIESLINGS FOR SUMMER?
Clare Valley Riesling is my pick, try O’Leary Walker.

BEST NEW BUBBLES FOR CHRISTMAS?
I can’t go past champagne and it’s not as expensive as it once was — try Veuve Clicquot NV Brut.

FAVOURITE AUSTRALIAN WINE REGION?
The Hunter Valley where I grew up; I love the cold winters and warm summers, picture- perfect vineyards and amazing views, and of course the local food and wine.

EXCITING NEW WINE TRENDS?
Red wines are becoming softer with less alcohol and less oak in much more fruit-driven styles.

FAVOURITE JETSTAR DESTINATION?
Honolulu, Hawaii. I just went there for two weeks with my girlfriend and had a ball. I made sure I tasted all the wines we had onboard — just to make sure they taste fine at 40,000 feet off the ground!






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