In Australia eating goes beyond the plate, reflecting our multicultural heritage in so many delicious ways. Here are some of our favourite culinary traditions, served up for your perusal. Compiled by Lauren Arena
PINXTOS, Porteño & Gardel’s Bar
Our venues aren’t strictly Argentinian, as we take inspiration from more than just Argentina, incorporating flavours from across South America and Spain. Pinxtos are small bar snacks held together with a spike, a very typical bar food in Northern Spain – they’re lots of fun and very tasty.
Chef and Co-owner, Elvis Abrahanowicz
The wok-fried, black pepper mud crab is inspired by my many trips to Singapore – this is the signature crab dish of Singapore, not the chilli crab as is widely believed. There is an area in Singapore called East Coast, which has a heap of seafood restaurants all in one place. This is where I go to eat some of the best black pepper crabs, along with a range of other live seafood.
Executive Chef, Dan Hong
I grew up in Argentina and so asadors (traditional barbeque where whole animals are cooked over an open fire pit) were a big part of the way we ate, so it seemed appropriate to cook this way in our restaurant. Barbeques are such a big part of Australian culture so we knew Aussies would get it!
Chef and Co-owner, Elvis Abrahanowicz
I learnt to make dumplings as an aprentice chef in Singapore. It takes passion, a lot of patience, and skill. A dim sum kitchen is different from any other kitchen because everyone has to be focused. There is a continuous and logical sequence to making dumplings so if one person falls behind, we all do. It takes us 30 seconds to make a dumpling and we produce around 3000 every day.
Head Dim Sum Chef, Eric Koh
With this dish, we change the texture of sushi rice by making the outer layer of the nigiri (sushi rice shaped into sushi) crispy with a quick fry in a super-hot pan. We then make a tartar with some spicy aioli and beautiful South Australian tuna, and finish with a slice of tuna sashimi and garnish with micro shiso.
Executive Chef, Chase Kojima
To Paris with love
Francophiles needn’t travel half way across the globe for haute cuisine, as Lauren Arena recently savoured in Sydney.
There’s a definite sex appeal about French cuisine. It’s in the supple fibre of choux pastry, the buttery, velvety comfort of pommes purée, the fervent ooze of chocolate fondant once pierced with a fork, and no one can deny the absolute seduction of foaming champagne and freshly shucked oysters.
It’s the texture, the flavour, the sight and sound of cuisine Française that transform the menial act of mastication into the art of gourmandise. And nowhere is the gourmand more at home than at Ananas Bar and Brassiere.
Tucked away in Sydney’s historic Rocks precinct, the devoutly French venue (ananas is French for pineapple) certainly knows how to turn on the charm – there’s a chic champagne bar and cocktail lounge upon entry with a grand pewter counter as its shimmering centrepiece, and, in the sprawling dining room, moody lighting, lavish drapes and mirrored walls covered with Belle Epoque murals fill the space with a sensual air.
But it’s what is coming out of the kitchen that’s the real show-stopper. Chef Paul McGrath puts up a generous menu with a selection of house-made charcuterie, fresh seafood and, in true bistro style, a list of plat du jour options.
I begin my déjeuner with a glass of NV Ruinart champagne direct from Reims, France and pair of shimmering Sydney rock oysters soaked in red wine, chardonnay and cucumber vinegar – needless to say, a great start. Then, on an ice-laden platter, arrives the snapper ceviche, succulent and pink with a delicate tang and topped with a plump quenelle of pastis chantilly. But what follows is even better.
Tossing up between the venison burger, tart of smoked eel and potato, and a hearty navarin of braised lamb with gremolata-crumbed brain (did I mention it’s devoutly French?), I opt for the whole flounder with lemon caper butter and pommes purée – and am not disappointed. The whole flounder is perfectly intact, oozing with all that glorious butter, and on a bed of mash that’s soft and lush and as smooth as silk.
But to really get the pulse racing, one can’t go past dessert. Along with skilfully adorned éclairs – the salted caramel is a must – ananas four ways is as delightful to eat as it is to look at. With roasted pineapple and rum caramel, pineapple crisps, pineapple sorbet, and a pinocolada puree with coconut mousse, this dessert hits all the marks of freshness, flavour and texture – even those who aren’t lovers of pineapple should give this a go.
Part of the Urban Purveyor Group’s ever-expanding repertoire of venues, Ananas is all about contemporary cuisine that remains loyal to traditional French flavours, and without all the pretence.
Like most of the group’s properties, Ananas offers an opulent private dining space (44 pax) that’s ideal for sophisticated corporate lunches and the entire venue, including the brassiere dining room and cocktail lounge, can be booked exclusively for cocktail and dining functions.
Among the 18 cultural hot-spots belonging to the group there’s the highly-recognised Saké Restaurant and Bar (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane), Bavarian Beer Café (Sydney and Brisbane), and, in a nod to the classic New York steak, The Cut Bar & Grill.
For more information visit: urbanpurveyor.com and for event enquiries call: (02) 9259 5600