Tuesday, August 15, 2006


With what must be one of the most spectacular views in Sydney, Aria also presents some of the city’s most spectacular food.

On a faultless Sydney winter’s day (about 22°C, just to make the Melburnians green) you have a soprano’s eye view of the Opera House and a vista of the Coathanger (the Sydney Harbour Bridge) across the sparkling harbour waves. No wonder tourists are breathless at the sight of it, and even as a Sydneysider you do forget how gawpingly magnificent it is. If you look on Aria’s website you can see a neat little virtual panorama of the view from the main dining room. From the private dining room, where I was seated you look out over the Bridge only (poor me). On this occasion I was a guest of Open Thinkers of Australia, so this was a working lunch, but despite the brain strain and idea sharing, I had time to take in the equally stunning culinary vistas laid before me. Being a serious occasion my pix are a bit quick and dirty and it definitely wasn’t the sort of gig where I could taste other people’s plates with impunity or grill (no pun intended) others about the nuances of their meals.

Tartare of Hiromasa Kingfish with trout roe
An amuse bouche of tartare of Hiromasa Kingfish with trout roe whetted the appetite admirably. Here you can read the lunch menu, and on the main website some mouth watering food photography illustrates a selection of the dishes.

Scallop tortellini with mushroom puree and pine nut and leek salad
I started with scallop tortellini (left) with mushroom puree and pine nut and leek salad. Near translucent, silky, fresh egg pasta enclosing just cooked scallop pieces on a cushion of scented and delicately meaty mushroom morsels.

Roquefort cheese salad with pear The roquefort cheese salad with pear, witlof and walnut dressing comprised a perfectly caramel pear with salty chunks of cheese in an artwork of composed leaves.

Baked barramundi with pea and ham consommé and baby gnocchi I followed with the baked barramundi with pea and ham consommé and baby gnocchi. The crispest skin uppermost, the full flavoured fish floats like a cloud in a delicately limpid flavoured broth with shards of slow cooked hock and emerald pea islands. The tiny gnocchi were almost lost however when I tried the side dish of desiree potato and truffle mash.

Desiree potato and truffle mash
The lingering heady scent of truffles infused through the downiest potato silk I have ever sampled. Lolling like a plump cream duvet, snug in its bowl and ringed by buttery lakes it was heaven. Not a lump, not a bump it melted along the tongue to leave its truffle infused memory for the remainder of the afternoon.

Assiette of Valrhona chocolate
And the dessert. Like sets from one the operas next door, the kitchen’s creative juices were let loose with dessert presentation. Still life with sugar, the story of endless and minute attention to detail as the finale to a memorable meal. I had to have the assiette of Valrhona chocolate – three mini masterpieces of ice cream coated with crisp chocolate coating, a raspberry and chocolate stack and a warm frothed hot chocolate. My head was spinning. However I did manage to get pictures of some other desserts.

Bombe alaska with pistachio and Chestnut ice cream and citrus salad.

Mandarin jelly with raspberries and yoghurt sorbet

And to finish with coffee, the daintiest plate of petits fours imaginable. And the view.

No 1 Macquarie St, Sydney.


Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said...

Some good looking food and some great photos. I'm super impressed you dragged the camera out at a working lunch too.

That ribbon effect on the truffle mash is amazing. It's like a starchy Vienetta!

11:26 AM  
Blogger neil said...

Make Melburnians green? Droughts aside, that must be one of the rare days when it's not raining there.

Food looks great, lucky thing.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous sue said...

How do they make the potato so layered?! Yum, all looks good. Love the idea of Barramundi on pea and hame consomme.

7:22 AM  
Blogger Reb said...

It was very cheeky of me Helen - but I asked people first and was extremely discreet about it. I stopped short of asking for tastes of other plates. I do have some limits, though not many :)

Well Neil we have had a wet winter - very welcome for sure, but as you'd see in my next post the laugh was on me :) Food was deeeeeevine!

I don't know how they get the potato like that Sue but I'd love to find out. Maybe I can do a recipe request in GT. It really was to die for.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

That all looks amazing, and such great photos! Bravo!

PS I haven't forgotten about giving you the contact details for the pilmeni lady, I just haven't picked them up yet but when I've sampled them (for quality control, of course!) I will pass on her number.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

Thanks Julia! I was unsure of the photos coz they were really rush jobs given the situation! Look forward to the pilimeni contact and your product review :)

4:36 PM  
Anonymous chocolatesuze said...

oh my im so jealous! fantastic shots tho!

4:48 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

Well Suze, I did have great material to work with - I think that's where the applause should go :) But thanks for the accolade.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Helene said...

That plate of chocolate just makes me drool with envy. What a great meal!

10:39 AM  
Blogger Reb said...

It's a hard job Helene, but someone has to do it :) It was truly yummy!

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Y said...

Great photos. And lovely looking mash. I asked someone in the know about how they get that effect. He said that as long as it's the right consistency when you pour it into the bowl, it'll ribbon like that really easily. To get the right consistency, .. let's just say a sufficient amount of butter and cream is utilised.

11:42 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

Thanks for the tip Y - I'll have to experiment!

3:47 PM  

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