Category Archives: Suppliers

SUMMER OF RIESLING

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

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So what exactly is the Summer of Riesling?

Well. It’s all about Riesling, obviously, or as organisers Jason Hoy and Stuart Knox claim…”An opportunity to create a better life for yourself and the ones you care about through discerning Riesling consumption”.

In all sincerity, The ‘Summer of Riesling’ celebrates a unique grape that ranges dramatically in style and taste; from bone dry to very sweet, from exuberant and bracing in youth to sublime and complex in maturity.

This wonderful programme was first created in 2008 by one of New York’s most significant wine personalities: Paul Grieco. For the first two years it was held exclusively at Mr. Grieco’s renowned wine bar Terroir, but soon spread to numerous U.S. cities.

We are very excited to welcome this event for the third time to Rockpool Bar and Grill, Sydney. Our sommeliers would be delighted to talk you through these fine examples and their intrinsic characteristics. Pop in and enjoy while Summer lasts.

We are happy to be offering 6 Riesling by the glass along with 155 available by the bottle!

2012 La Violetta ‘Das Sakrileg’ Porongurup, WA
This up and coming Australian producer captures Great Southern Riesling at its best; pristine, intense and elegantly structured with subtle citrus blossom on the nose.

2012 Peter Lauer ‘Ayler Kupp Fass 6 – Senior’ Mosel, Germany
An incredible expression of Riesling from one of the best sites in the Saar. purity and mineral drive, with a textural off dry element, provides harmony for the citrus and soft stone fruit flavours.

2010 Johann Donabaum ‘Bergterrassen’ Federspiel, Wachau, Austria
From one of the most beautiful regions in Austria comes this stunning example of graceful and mouth-watering Riesling with freshness and floral-citrus tones.

2012 Hermann J. Wiemer ‘Dry’ Finger Lakes, New York
A pretty, pure and pristine Riesling from the East Coast in the US; mineral underpinnings and luscious sweet confit lemon rind, with pink lady apples on the palate.

2004 Domaine Marcel Deiss ‘Grasberg’ Alsace, France
Alsace at its best, this classic, unmistakably French Riesling displays the epitome of the aging potential of this variety, balanced and luscious with golden apples and honeysuckle.

dessert glass
2007 Joh. Jos. Prüm ‘Wehlener Sonnenuhr’ Auslese, Mosel, Germany
It doesn’t get much better than this; a wine so pure and balanced with tantalizing sweetness yet fresh and vibrant with tones of green apples, jasmine and honey blossom.

The Summer of Riesling, on now at Rockpool Bar & Grill
66 Hunter St, Sydney

THE YEAR THAT WAS – ROCKPOOL, 2013

Friday, January 10th, 2014

That was massive, right? 2013? We rocked it, there’s no doubt and we intend to carry right on rocking it through 2014 and beyond, so grab your hats folks and hold tight. Here we go, our year in retrospect…

2013 could only be called a year of contrasts – from floods to bushfires, Julia to Ruddy, Abbott and beyond, we have lived and breathed just about all of it this past year. Much of it was good, some of it was amazing, and a portion downright challenging – nothing changes, really.

January

We herald the new year with a heatwave across the South East of Australia and consequent raging bushfires in Tasmania, followed by a monsoon trough over Queensland and New South Wales. Flooding and tournadoes claim the headlines. We await a year of crazy weather, cross our fingers and dig deep for all those affected.

Atmosphere  Neil Perry

Over in LA, the annual Gday USA shindig is kicking off. We do our bit at the Qantas Spirit of Australia cocktail party and the team up with culinary mate Tom Colicchio for a Qantas media lunch at Craft LA.

Australia Day rolls around and our fearless leader Neil Perry receives an Order of Australia medal in the Australia Day honours list for ‘significant service to the community as a benefactor of and a fundraiser for charities, and as a chef and restaurateur’. Proud? As punch! CEO of the Starlight Children’s Foundation, Louise Baxter, summed up Neil’s contribution by saying, “Neil Perry is an exceptional example of an Australian who is continually giving back and gives selflessly to organisations who support those in need, and has made an enormous contribution to the hospitality and restaurant industry both within Australia and on the world stage. Neil does this while being incredibly humble and asking for nothing in return.”…we couldn’t agree more Louise!

February

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It’s the OzHarvest CEO CookOff. Over $1 million was raised with proceeds being shared between OzHarvest, The Big Issue and ONE80TC. Neil cooked it up with mates including Maggie Beer, Marty Boetz, Poh Ling Yeow, Mike McEnearney, Matt Moran and Guillaume Brahimi with chopping, slicing and dicing courtesy of some of Australia’s top CEOs and business leaders.. Only 43 bandaids distributed that we know of!

We celebrate Chinese New Year 2013, the Year of the Water Snake. Spice Temples Sydney and Melbourne serve special banquet menus incorporating ingredients that promote health, wealth and fertility…Northern style pork buns bring ‘Family unity’ and Crispy lucky duck with steamed bread, shallots and hoisin – ‘Fidelity’….whilst Stir fried deluxe mushrooms, baby king brown, enoki, oyster, shitake and white cloud bring us a worthy dose of ‘Prosperity’. Nice.

Still in Feb and we kick start the ‘Classics lunch menu’ at Rockpool on George, every Friday.

We bring you the much- loved Rockpool dishes of yester year, from Fish fillets poached in coconut milk with garam masala, and Herb and spice crusted tuna with eggplant salad, to Stir fried spanner crab omelette, Chilli salt squid and date tart! A culinary wander through the archives. Delicious amounts of fun.

March

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It’s March. Tensions are…well, tense in the labour party. Prime minster Julia Gillard brings on a leadership spill. Assumed challenger Kevin Rudd sits tight and does not contest. Things as they were…nothing to see here, people.

Kimi Raikonnen wins the Australia F1 Grand Prix.

Spice Temple Melbourne brings us the 80’s Chinese dinner! Staff are clad in silk, carnations adorn the tables and lanterns are at their ambient best. A highlight of the previous dinner at Spice Temple Sydney, the rocking 80’s soundtrack specially prepared by the wonderful Anton Monsted was a huge hit. Prawn toast, crab and corn soup, lemon chicken and Mongolian lamb were amongst the star dishes, and deep fried ice cream of course.

And…we update the bar menu at Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney. Hello to such fabulousness as the ‘Play it again Pierre’ and the ‘Zombie deluxe’… and the menu itself describes our ‘cocktails for revelry’ as “Boat Drinks”, or “cocktails for that ‘just released from prison feeling’, for those who see in the bottom of a punch bowl a horoscope of gaiety, joy, revelry, carousing and happy madness!” No wonder we love working here.

Our stunning beef ageing program continues to star across all our restaurants.

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April

Much-adored racehorse Black Caviar is retired, with an unbeaten record of 25 wins under her saddle.

Chrissy Amphlett dies in New York. A sad sad day for the Australian music industry and her many fans worldwide.

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Neil does a touch of filming with Qantas in the middle of the dessert, in Dubai and we ‘Feed Melbourne’ at The Gourmet Soup Lunch. Brendan from Rosetta served up the ribollita, Rockpool Bar & Grill’s Will was on the parsnip and honey soup and Ben from Spice Temple patiently braised the Chinese pork and cabbage. $7 got you a delicious soup and a bread roll from Phillippa’s Bakery. Every cent went to Melbourne food charities.

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Out Qantas way, Rockpool Consulting was proud to play their part in an immaculate gala dinner celebrating the new partnership between Qantas and Emirates. Held in Hangar 96 at Sydney Airport, tables were laid beneath the mighty wings of the A380.

May

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All seemed quiet out in the world in May. At Rockpool, we put on some fantastic dinners for Qantas EpiQure at Spice Temple Sydney and Rosetta.

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Neil and Brendan set sail for Lizard Island to take part in the Wolf Blass Gourmet Weekend (nice work if you can get it!), the poor old staff in Sydney had to suffer through a caviar tasting. Poor things. Bleeding hearts. Yeah yeah. And Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney hosted the Great Gatsby/ Tiffany event.

June

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Kevin Rudd defeats Julia Gillard 57 to 45 in an Australian labour party leadership spill (see March).

Rockpool helps Icebergs in Bondi celebrate 10 years! Well done guys. Happy birthday! No mean feat!

Spice Temple Sydney holds their Shaanxi regional dinner. Wood roasted lamb skewers with heaven facing chilli amongst the wonderment.

Heston Blumenthal is in the house at Bar & Grill Sydney making little Levi McCormack’s wish come true.

July

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The Wine Spectator Awards are announced. Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney wins it’s 4th consecutive Grand Award. Only 73 restaurants worldwide hold such awards are we are so proud as always to be amongst them. All 7 Rockpool restaurants are recognised. Amazing!

Neil and Brendan head to the fabulous Kauri Cliffs in New Zealand to present a few of their favourite Rosetta dishes… San Danielle prosciutto with cabbage and parmesan; Seafood risotto with tomato and chilli; Slow cooked lamb with caponata and rosemary potatoes; and Panna cotta with stewed rhubarb

Cocktail master James Connolly, from Rockpool Bar and Grill Perth is named in the year’s Australian Bartender top 100 Most Influential List.

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Neil cooks up a dish fit for a king on the Today Show, Bread and butter pudding.

The Fine Wine Partners and Gourmet Traveller WINE 2013 Australian Wine List of the Year Awards. We are thrilled to receive three awards; Best wine by the glass at Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth, Best Informal Dining Wine List at Spice Temple Melbourne and Best Digestif List at Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth.

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The winner of Rockpool Bar & Grill Melbourne’s inaugural ‘Apprentice Cook Off’ was 3rd year apprentice James Mitchell, mentored by Robbie Bell. James’ dish was ‘Grilled red mullet with seasonal vegetables, oyster beurre blanc and chestnut farfalle’. Winners are grinners.

August

Award season hits.

The Australian Gourmet Traveller Awards are held and all 7 Rockpool Group Restaurants are named in the Top 50 with Rockpool on George leading the charge at number 6.

Rosetta, Rockpool Bar & Grill Melbourne and Spice Temple Melbourne all score 2 hats in the AGE Good Food Guide awards. A very special congratulations to our Melbourne General Manager, Vanessa Crichton for taking out the Service and Excellence Award and to Ben Shewry and the team at Attica on taking out the big one – Restaurant of the Year and Ben, Chef of the year – as always, it is great to be a part of this fantastic industry and have peers of such incredible talent and depth.

September

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The Liberal – National coalition led by Tony Abbott wins the 2013 federal election (see March/ June).

Neil travels to London to cook a Qantas lunch at Phil Howard’s ‘The Square’.

He also goes ‘MAD’ in Copenhagen.

Rockpool on George retains 3 hats at the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide awards. Spice Temple and Rockpool Bar & Grill retain 2 each. Legends, all.

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September 28 sees the day finally arrive for the 2013 Ultimate Dinner at Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney. Thomas Keller, Heston Blumenthal, Brett Graham, Ben Shewry, Grant Achatz, Neil Perry and Phil Wood in the house. Blush! Neil’s chef mates gang up on him and remove a portion of the treasured pony tail. All in the name of The Starlight Children’s Foundation.

October

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The International Fleet Review is held on Sydney Harbour to celebrate the centenary of the first entry of the Royal Australian Navy fleet in to the harbour.

The 2013 New South Wales bushfire season begins with menacing force.

The Marriage Equality Act 2013 is passed in the Australian Capital Territory, making the ACT the first state or territory to legalise same-sex marriage in Australia.

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We commence the incredible ‘All Star Dinners’ at Rockpool on George. Welcome home Mike McEnearney, Kylie Kwong and Ross Lusted (also Sydney Morning Herald’s Chef of the Year), we missed you!

An awesome wine dinner at Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth (they do these so well!) with Peter
Althaus of Domaine A Stoney Vineyard.

Rosetta turns 1!!!

Neil’s latest book, ‘Simply Good Food’ is released. It’s always so exciting – these things take agggggges to finally get to us!

Our very own David Lawler from Rockpool Bar & Grill Melbourne is elected as President of Sommeliers Australia.

Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth gets their own taste of The Ultimate Dinner for the first time. Heston stays behind, David Thompson steps in – all remaining superstars – as you were!

It’s Good Food Month in Sydney and we throw ourselves into some fun events – ‘The Classics’ at Rockpool on George; ‘Cantonese Food I Love’ at Spice Temple; and ‘The Great Australian Dinner’ with Rene Redzepi and a gaggle of Australia’s finest chefs.

It’s the last full month of Rockpool on George. We are moving. To Bridge Street. Early November. Lots of stories, memories, regulars popping in just one last time. Emotional times.

Wow, October was big!

November

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Fiorente, wins the 2013 Melbourne Cup. Someone wins the Rockpool sweep. It’s not me, as usual.

Our bar team at Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth are on fire! Congratulations to David Nguyen-Luu on being named as WA’s Best Mixologist at the AHA award.

Goodbye Rockpool on George after 24 ½ years at this iconic site as we head to the future iconic site on Bridge St and it is full steam ahead! We close after dinner service on Saturday the 9th and prepare for opening Tuesday at the new gaff. Crazy? Perhaps, but that’s just the way we roll. Neil spends the last full week at George St in the kitchen with Phil. Tears…but hellooooo Bridge Street! We share some memories…http://www.rockpool.com/2013/11/memories-of-rockpool/

Rockpool on George goes under the hammer as we sell off so many of her beautiful bits and pieces.

December

Australia regains The Ashes for the first time in seven years. The white wash is yet to come (it happened in January!)

Wild Oats XI takes line honours in the 2013 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, clocking up 7 wins.

Pretty new Summer uniforms at Rosetta in pastel shades…gelato-esque…

Terry Durack gives Rockpool (as we now, once again, refer to the mothership) 18/20 within her first month at the new Bridge St location.

Christmas puds.

We prepare for Christmas and the new year. http://www.rockpool.com/2013/12/the-twelve-days-of-christmas-2/

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People fill the restaurants and toast a mighty year. We hope yours has been mighty too – and very much look forward to sharing great food, wine and good times with you all in 2014.
Stay safe,

The Rockpool family x

THE ULTIMATE DINNER FOR THE STARLIGHT CHILDREN’S FOUNDATION

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

How to describe the gathering under one roof, on the same night, of a clutch of the world’s best chefs? Many would say indescribable, others – a money can’t buy experience. At Rockpool – we call it “The Ultimate” and have done for quite a few years now.

The Ultimate Dinner 2013 was held last Saturday night, September 28, in the splendour of Rockpool Bar & Grill, Sydney. At what is now an iconic event on the annual calendar raising money for The Starlight Children’s Foundation, Neil Perry gathered culinary friends from far and wide to come together and cook the most superb of dinners.

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Thomas Keller and Heston Blumenthal, now Ultimate veterans themselves were there – so was Grant Achatz, Ben Shewry, Phil Wood and Brett Graham. The chefs came with their talented teams and have been busy in the Rockpool kitchens this last week dicing, slicing, rolling and wrapping. Plates and bowls in huge numbers were sourced, Riedel chandeliers were polished to within an inch of their lives, uniforms pressed, cloths laid and fabulous Jo Malone and Qantas gift bags packed.

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If seven of the greatest chefs in the world cooking dinner for you wasn’t quite enough, dishes were thoughtfully matched with some of Australia’s most iconic wines, with a cheeky guest appearance from Champagne and Sauternes.

The Ultimate Dinner Menu

Grant Achatz (Alinea, Next, Aviary)

Spencer Gulf King Prawns with Bush Tomatoes, Seaweed and Finger Limes

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Ben Shewry (Attica)

Cucumbers, Holy Flax, Sauce of Trout and Burnet

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Brett Graham (The Ledbury)

Roast Mulloway with Caramelised Cauliflower, Mud Crab and Kelp

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Neil Perry and Phil Wood (Rockpool)

Wood Fire Roast Chicken, Zheng Shui Dan, Precious Herbs and Drunken Condiments

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Thomas Keller (The French Laundry, Per Se, Bouchon, Ad Hoc)

Herb Roasted Saddle and Collar of David Blackmore Full Blood Wagyu with Shimeji, Mushrooms and Broad Beans

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Heston Blumenthal (The Fat Duck, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal)

Botrytis Cinerea

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During dessert, the incomparable Stuart Gregor from Liquid Ideas was our master auctioneer. Stu has been known to take no prisoners when given free rein to extract money from pockets to assist Starlight and Saturday was no exception. Our thanks to all those who gave so generously for the auction…and to those who purchased.

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THE ULTIMATE DINNER AUCTION

The Sydney Dining Experience

Dinner for 12 in the private dining room at Barry McDonald’s newly opened Fratelli Fresh, Alexandria

The Dining Experience

A once in a lifetime dining experience for 10 – dinner cooked by Neil Perry, Guillaume Brahimi and Peter Gilmore in your home

The Ultimate BBQ Experience

The Everdure E7 Ultimate Outdoor Cooking Centre. To show you how to cook the perfect BBQ, Neil Perry and ben Shewry will be a guest chef at your home and prepare his favourite dishes with matched wines by Tyrrells

The Saffire Freycinet Experience

The ultimate Tasmanian escape for two – a luxury two night stay in a suite at the award-winning Saffire Freycinet, including return transfers from Hobart, breakfast, lunch, dinner, mini bar, selected deluxe beverages and a $100 spa treatment credit.

The Melbourne Experience

Tickets for two to the exclusive Formula One Paddock Club at the 2014 Australian F1 Grand Prix, including full catering by Peter Rowland, beverages throughout the day and two Pit Lane Walks per day; Qantas flights and two night’s accommodation at Crown Towers Melbourne.

The Ultimate Kitchen Experience

Your dream kitchen with a Blanco Kitchen package – Pyrolytic Oven, Steam Oven, Induction Cooktop, Canopy Rangehood, Dishwasher, Sink and Tap. Once installed, Neil Perry will be a guest chef in your new kitchen, cooking dinner for you and 9 friends.

Our friends at Canturi also donated an incredible raffle prize – Canturi’s interpretation of the classic heart in a unique white gold and diamond necklace design, valued at $7,000

A couple of surprise (very surprising) auction items then made their way forward…Thomas and Heston put their hands up to be flown back to Australia to cook a private dinner in your home (pick me!)…and then of course, the pony tail. Just when Neil thought the evenings auction was drawing to a successful close and he could kick back with a good glass of Bindi Pinot Noir, the microphone was kidnapped by Heston Blumenthal, as Thomas Keller quietly produced a ruler and a pair of scissors from his apron pocket. They had just one more item, they announced, as Neil went a shade of ghost white, but there was nowhere to run. Stu managed to raise an incredible $50,000 for Neil Perry’s pony tail (just 10cm worth!) as the crowd went a little crazy.

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All in all – a huge success with the auction raising $175,000 and the raffle $11,300. With ticket sales at $1000 per head…we are yet to tally the final bits and pieces…but needless to say, we are thrilled and honoured as always to be able to raise this money for one of Rockpool’s favourite charities.

The Rockpool Group would like to sincerely thank our generous partners Qantas, Vittoria Coffee and the Park Hyatt Sydney. Our heartfelt thanks also go to Vic’s Meats,  David Blackmore, Christies Seafoods, Fratelli Fresh, Simon Johnson, Victoire, Kinkawooka Prawns, Epic Wright Heaton, McWilliams Wines, Tyrells, Grosset, Sutton Grange Winery, Domaine A, Oakridge, Leeuwin Estate, By Farr, Bindi, Penfolds, Henschke, Ron Zacapa, David Doyle, Riedel, Steelite, Houston, Bambra Press, Bombora Audio Visual, Crown Towers, Australian Grand Prix, Jo Malone, Saffire Freycinet, Canturi, Blanco, Everdure, Michael Westrup and Grant Vandenberg. And a special thank you to our Photographer Ted Sealey who has captured the evening beautifully.

And finally, a huge thank you to all of the chefs, waitstaff and diners for making this wonderful evening such a huge success.

But It’s not over yet! The Ultimate Dinner at Rockpool Bar and Grill Perth with Australian Michelin starred chef David Thompson (Nahm, Bangkok) kicks off at 7 pm tonight. The question is, how much more hair will Neil lose?!

STAFF TRIP TO FLEMINGTON MARKETS

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Thank you to Andreas Langadinos for a great write up on the recent Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney staff trip to Flemington Markets, and to Bonny Porter for some fine pics! Take it away guys…

 

Last Monday on a not so bright but very early morning (even for a chef), a group of young chefs from Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney were lucky enough to have a tour around the big, busy and at times very smelly Flemington Markets. After much deliberation and a good half hour of waiting for one chef to get his bacon and egg roll (!), we were lucky enough to have a tour guided by Scott Paardekooper, who does the purchasing for Fratelli Fresh, the Rockpool Group’s fruit and veg supplier.

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The markets open to the public at 6am however, the staff are there from 2am and can be found loading up the sheds with produce delivered by trucks. There is a fleet of forklifts flying around the grounds loading and unloading palettes and palettes of food and you must beware not to be run over by one!

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9  Marketing, Flemington fruit and vegetable growers market

Scott is a regular face around the markets and is familiar with many of the vendors and stall owners and as a result, we were all lucky enough to have behind the scenes access as well as being treated with a more personal touch by many of the market veterans. Even though summer and spring generally bring a greater yield and far greater variety of produce, we were still able to witness the sheer scale at which the markets operate. It consists of huge sheds filled with stalls of tressle tables loaded with produce.   We saw many varieties of locally grown and farmed ingredients and were lucky enough to meet some of the men involved in growing some of this produce as well as have them tell their stories of how much the market has changed over the decades.

There is a certain language you must speak at the markets if you want to get by, especially if you want a bargain and the old timers know it well. We saw them bargaining and selling off their product to the regulars, all the while keeping their prices a secret from each other. There are no straightforward deals and many of the transactions are made only if you agree to buy over a certain amount or if you agree to buy more than one product. This is all part of the market politics.

There were some amazing and very rare selections of herbs and vegetables we saw at a few select farmers stalls. These included pineapple sage, different varieties of mint, parsley root, black radishes, different coloured beets, huge varieties of mushrooms and various other bits and bobs, many of which no one had ever seen before.

It was a great experience and a brilliant initiative by the Bar & Grill team.

 

 

THE ANNUAL TRUFFLE DINNER AT ROCKPOOL ON GEORGE

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

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We can never wait for this one to roll around! Nothing screams winter, delicious, Rockpool and ‘treat yourself’ quite like our annual truffle dinner. Now in it’s 3rd year, Head Chef Phil Wood has been putting the finishing touches to his fantastic menu. Expect truffle paired with spanner crab, drunken pigeon, lobster, suckling pig, congee and more.

Set for Thursday July 18, Phil’s six course menu features an abundant supply of beautiful black truffles from Manjimup, WA.

Tickets for the Winter Truffle Dinner are $260 per person or $360 including matching wines selected by Rockpool on George Sommelier Emma Plumridge. Don’t delay in booking as these dinners sell quickly. For bookings or further details contact 02 9252 188 or rockpool.com.

The menu

Queensland spanner crab with truffled potato puree

Drunken pigeon, truffle and abalone salad

Lobster and truffle lasagna, with lobster allemande

Congee with preserved eggs, bacon and mushroom custard with truffle ketchup

Suckling pig with roasted Jerusalem artichoke and sliced truffle

Truffle Beef Wellington with swiss chard gratin

Truffle rice pudding with vanilla ice cream

Truffle Marjolaine

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ROCKPOOL STAFF CAVIAR TASTING

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

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The guest of honour

Last week the staff of Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney had the great privilege of participating in a caviar training session. The training session was kindly put together by Chris McDonnell from Simon Johnson in Sydney and Jane Green from Black Pearl in Brisbane.

We have done a caviar tasting once previously and expectations were high after rave reviews from the first one, hosted three years ago. I was fortunate enough to be part of that training, and have fond memories of that first time I was able to taste and fully appreciate what true unpasteurized caviar was all about.

The Hunter St private dining room was the perfect room to host such a great event. The room was packed in with forty or more staff, eager to taste some of this luxury item. When the staff walked into the room they were greeted by the sight of a 1.7 kg tin of Californian Sterling Caviar sitting on ice. It’s not every day you see such a large tin of caviar, and for those who truly know how good quality caviar tastes, it makes you greedily start to look at the other people in the room a do the sums on how much each person will get.

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Keen staff at caviar tasting, Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney

After hearing all about the fantastic history of the sturgeon, and caviar techniques through the ages, it was refreshing to know that the sale of wild sturgeon has been banned for some years, so all the caviar that is sold around the world is farmed unless it is illegally poached and sold on the black market. The countries that control the wild sturgeon industry say that the stocks of sturgeon were so badly managed that they almost made the sturgeon extinct in the areas around the Caspian sea. Fortunately though,  for lovers of caviar, a few smart people back in the 80’s decided to set up caviar farms and we can now eat caviar guilt free.

Caviar farms are now found in many parts of the world. China, Russia, parts of the Middle East, a few European countries, Canada and the USA – all have set up caviar farms to try to take advantage of this luxury product. The caviar that was kindly donated to our bellies for this tasting was the Sterling caviar from California in the USA. We also tried the Osietra caviar from Lombardy in Northern Italy.

The farmed sturgeons are harvested only after 8 years making the farming a long process for anyone thinking of starting a sturgeon caviar pond in their back yard. Questions were asked about the difference between the different types of caviar – Beluga, Sevruga, Osietra and so on. The famed Beluga caviar was the one that most people wanted to hear about and Jane Green summed it up the best by saying “all the caviars are a personal preference for your taste, but Beluga has the famous name making it very popular”. We found out the difference between pasteurized and unpasteurised caviar and that pasteurising extends its shelf life and makes the caviar soft textured and dulls the flavour. Also, the larger the tin, the better it tastes as less oxygen gets to it giving it a fresher flavour.

After the formalities of hearing all about the caviar, it was time to taste! We were told that the best way to taste caviar is with as little other flavour as possible. We opted for buttered pieces of white sliced toast which Chris and Jane were very impressed by, as to not alter the flavour in any way. They also told us that anything acidic, like lemon or vinegar would destroy the texture of the caviar and start to break the cells down, again altering the flavour.

Time to try the caviar! Big spoonfuls of luxurious roe were spooned on top of the little triangles of toast. The look on the faces of the people trying it for the first time was priceless. After they tried their first piece I knew what they were thinking “I hope I get more on the next one” and “I better move closer to guarantee I get another one”.. and they shuffle in so as not to miss out on a second piece. These crazy thoughts go through your head after you taste it. The taste is something that’s hard to describe. It’s creamy and fresh at the same time, and leaves a lovely fresh taste of the sea in your mouth. Then you understand what all the hype is about. You are just left craving more and you suddenly realise how special it is.

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The author                                                                              Rockpool Bar & Grill

The chefs and waiters in the room were divided over which caviar they enjoyed more. The Sterling from the white sturgeons native to the USA or the Osietra from Lombardy in Italy?  My personal preference is the Sterling from the USA. It is a close call though, so maybe I’ll have to taste some more to really make up my mind…

 

QANTAS AND EMIRATES GALA DINNER

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

                         

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Back in mid April, Rockpool Consulting was proud to play our part in an immaculate gala dinner. Celebrating the new partnership between Qantas and Emirates, the dinner, MC’d by the incomparable Karl Stefanovic was held in Hangar 96 at Sydney Airport, tables laid beneath the mighty wings of the A380. If you’ve never had dinner beneath the wings of a mighty large plane – trust me – try it some time!

The 1000 guests comprised frequent flyers, dignitaries and friends of both Qantas and Emirates.  Our own Neil Perry and the Rockpool Consulting team designed the globally-inspired menu of course and the food was executed to perfection by Stix Catering – we work with these guys a lot on these big gigs and nobody does it quite like them. Our sincere thanks for a fabulous job.

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Tina Arena, Sarah de Bono and actor William McInnes provided the entertainment as well as an incredible aerial performance by Legs on the Wall. Alan Joyce and Neil shared their stories with the crowd while Qantas Ambassadors Miranda Kerr and John Travolta added the celeb factor. Qantas staff models strutted their stuff in a display of the just-launched new uniforms designed by Martin Grant, who also attended on the night.

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An amazing dinner – an incredible event – to celebrate an exciting new partnership. We are, at Rockpool, as proud as ever to be a part of this amazing extended Australian family and look forward to many more gala dinners to come!

Canapes from around the world

Tuna nigiri
Goats cheese and tea smoked raisin tartlet
Smoked ocean trout crostini
White cut chicken, strange tasting sauce
Wild mushroom arancini
Corn empanada

Entree
Mezze plate

Main course

Slow cooked Murraylands lamb loin, yam and ginger puree, stir fried cabbage and black bean
Salad of baby cos, radicchio, frisee with palm sugar vinaigrette

Dessert

Tiramisu

Gelato bar
Blood orange sorbet

Pistachio

TimTam

Passionfruit pavlova

Vanilla

Salted caramel
Arabic Petit fours and Baklava

with coffee

 

 

 

SYDNEY BREAKFASTS

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Breakfast is one of life’s pleasures, Neil picks his top three Sydney cafes for a morning repast in this months column for Qantas’ Australian Way magazine….

Kepos Street Kitchen  Kitchen By Mike
When it comes to cafe culture, Australia is in a league of its own. Thanks to our multicultural heritage, abundance of quality fresh produce, love of good coffee and emperate climate, we excel at going out for breakfast or brunch. This month, I’m turning the spotlight on some of Sydney’s choice spots for a morning repast.

Room 10 Espresso in Potts Point (10 Llankelly Place, 0425 810 174), is a hole in the wall where proprietors Dan Blackman and Andrew Hardjasudarma work the coffee machine (and the bench they call a kitchen) with panache. There’s not much room to make complicated dishes, so the quality of the ingredients is crucial. They deliver. The menu is mostly open or closed sandwiches, which are superb. Customers can also order breakfast rice or organic muesli, but really it’s all about toasted sarnies – my favourite is soy and linseed toast with mashed avocado and a couple of boiled eggs (extras include ricotta, prosciutto and fresh tomato). Add fresh juice and delicious coffee, and you’re good to go.

Heading south to Redfern, Kepos Street Kitchen (96 Kepos Street, 02 9319 3919) has a Middle Eastern flavour thanks to owner and head chef Michael Rantissi’s Israeli heritage. I can’t go past “Dad’s favourite brekky”, which features felafel, hummus, labneh, hard-boiled eggs and a dukkah-sprinkled tomato salad with bread. Trust me, it tastes as good as it sounds – the felafels are among the best I’ve ever had. Yes, you can order something more traditional – toast, granola – but why would you when a shakshuka of baked eggs with tomato is on the menu? Scrumptious stuff. And if you’re feeling decadent, there’s always the churros with salted caramel. Waistline be damned.

Moving a little farther south to Rosebery, another fun breakfast is to be had at Kitchen By Mike (1/85 Dunning Avenue, Rosebery, 02 9045 0910). Mike McEnearney is one of my ex-soldiers and he has assembled a first-rate crew. The cafeteria-style venue is located in the Koskela design store and the catchcry is “sustainable and organic”. McEnearney makes all the bread and pizza in the woodfired oven and even churns his own butter. The coffee is great and fresh juice is available. Go to the counter and choose from fruit and nut loaf, bircher or toasted muesli, a cracking porridge, toast with all manner of condiments, or a killer eggs benedict. It’s unbeatable for a quick business breakfast or lazy weekend treat.

Kepos Street Kitchen Image courtesy of Time Out Sydney

 

PHIL COOKS AT THE SYDNEY SEAFOOD SCHOOL, JUNE 17

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Phil Wood

Go Phil! Our very own Boy Wonder, Phil Wood, is fronting up to the Sydney Seafood School at Sydney Fish Market to teach a class on June 17. So if flavour and technical perfection are your aim, we suggest you pop on down and join in. This will be a class not to be missed.

I’d tell you a little more about Phil, but they pretty much have it all in hand, so I think I’ll just hand it over to the Seafood School…and yes, it’s true…he was just 7 years old when Rockpool opened! Bless!

When Neil Perry opened Rockpool in 1989, ‘modern Australian’ cuisine was in its infancy, and many credit Perry with its inception. Since then he’s opened and closed numerous restaurants, currently running seven across three states. You don’t build that sort of empire without a gift for finding the right people to help.

Today the kitchen of the flagship Rockpool, now called Rockpool on George, is headed by the laid back Phil Wood, who was junior sous chef at Tetsuya’s when he won the Josephine Pignolet Award for best young chef in the 2007 Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide. This gave him the opportunity to work abroad, spending two years at Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry. He returned to Sydney in early 2009 and joined Rockpool as Head Chef. Promoting him to Executive Chef in 2010, Perry described him as “one of the best young chefs this country has to offer”.

A meal at Rockpool (on George) is as exciting today as it was in the early days. Stepping through the heavy, heritage-green doors of this discreet sandstone building still has a touch of the special about it. Inside, precisely set double-clothed tables with the signature Bill McMahon-designed chairs and Alessi peppermills testify that good design doesn’t date. The long, light room looks smart but comfortable with forest and earth tones, plush studded banquettes and a dramatic honeycomb lighting installation.

Perry was one of the first champions of premium Australian produce, especially seafood, and Wood adheres to the same mantra. Chirashi zushi of kingfish, snapper, prawn, squid, and scallop is a vibrant combination of flavours and textures – spanking fresh seafood, vinegared sushi rice mixed with black sesame seeds, a creamy, briny, spicy (kimchi), tangy (finger lime) taste sensation. Blue swimmer crab and corn congee with almond tofu, star anise-scented peanuts, fried bread and chilli oil is a similar roller coaster of flavours, textures and aromas. This is food that makes you sit up and take notice … just as Perry’s cooking first did back in 1989!

With Phil Wood (who was just 7 when Rockpool opened) in the kitchen, this iconic Sydney restaurant is set to wow a whole new generation of diners and keep those who’ve long loved it on their toes.

Monday 17 June 2013 | Phil WoodRockpool on George
6.30pm – 9.30pm Class Code: PWO $120.00

When Rockpool opened in 1989 ‘modern Australian’ cuisine was in its infancy – and many acknowledge this iconic restaurant as its birthplace. Phil Wood (ex-Tetsuya’s and Josephine Pignolet award winner) has been Rockpool Head Chef since 2009. At this hands-on dinner class you’ll master some of the techniques and flavour combinations that make Rockpool as revolutionary now as it was 20 years ago.

BAY ROCK OYSTERS – CLYDE RIVER, BATEMAN’S BAY

Friday, May 17th, 2013

Wine girl extraordinaire, Sophie Otton, recently visited the South Coast of NSW where she paid a visit to the amazing Bay Rock Oysters, a favourite of ours here at Rockpool.  Here is Sophie’s rundown on the trip and a fascintaing insight into Bay Rock (and sea horses)…take it away Sophie…

BAY ROCK OYSTERS – CLYDE RIVER, BATEMAN’S BAY

Bay Rock Oyster

Bay Rock Oysters is owned by Audrey Thor who supplies us with our superb Clyde River oysters.

Prior to establishing Bay Rock Oysters, Audrey’s first attempt at aqua culture was raising sea horses. Her motivation was the high demand from the Chinese who use dried sea horses in their medicine, fetching $9,000 per kilo! She soon found out the seahorse is notoriously difficult to breed. Interestingly this is because they mate for life and if one partner dies the other becomes prone to annorexia and stops feeding. Eventually she gave up on this idea and decided to switch to oyster farming. That was 20 years ago and today she cultivates five million oysters in her river beds at any one time.

Sydney  Rock Oysters are indigenous to the South Coast of NSW. They are called ‘Sydney Rock’ because they used to be harvested from the rocks around Sydney Harbour. Their shells would be ground and used as an ingredient in lime wash for housing by the early settlers.

The Clyde River is part of the Bateman’s Bay Marine Park. Currently the water is so clean the oysters don’t have a lot of nutrients to feed on. As a conseqence, they take longer to mature in size and struggle to put on weight. The lack of nutrient is due to many years of preceeding drought which means less vegetation and debris flows into the river system. The more debris, the more nutrition in the water, the faster they gain weight.
Rule of thumb: Don’t judge an oyster by its size, it is smell and taste that are more important. The average age of the harvested Clyde River oyster is three years. They are graded depending from A – AA – AAA from smallest to largest. The largest size, however, is the five year old oyster grown specifically for the Rockpool group. Interestingly, however, whilst the shell is bigger, the oyster is not. The key difference is in the flavour which is richer and more intense with age.

Other Oyster traits:

Clyde River oysters can live out of water for up three weeks and remain in perfect condition.

Clyde Rivers can withstand high water temperatures, without damage, even if they are close to the suface.

Clyde River oysters filter five litres of water per hour whilst the bigger Pacifics filter well over twice as much.

Pacific oysters have a very short shelf life and begin to deteriorate once they leave the water.

Pacific Oysters mature in 18 months (as opposed to three years for Clyde River) and are in high demand from the Asian market because of their bigger size.

They Clyde River oysters need protecting from the hardy Pacific oysters which dominate on the South Australian and Tasmanian coasts.

And how do the tastes compare? The Clyde Rivers are explosive! Intense, tangy, salty with long flinty mineral flavours. Amazing….The Pacifics tend to be more creamy and fleshy in texture, less briny and have less mineral than the Clyde Rivers.