Taste of Sydney Collective

Taste of Sydney has evolved into a new event called, Taste of Sydney Collective, fusing food, culture and music into a four-day festival to take place at a new location, Barangaroo at the Cutaway, from 8-11 November 2018.

The organisers of Taste of Sydney Collective have brought together the finest local, interstate and international chefs to create unique dishes exclusive to the four-day festival.

During the Taste of Sydney Collective festival there will be two ‘Collective Kitchens,’ where 32 chefs will pair up to create distinct dishes across six immersive sessions. Each day will feature new chefs, collaborations and bespoke dishes.

Some of the chefs from the Taste of Sydney Collective’s chef line-up will include:

  • Skye Gyngell – Spring (London)
  • Louis Tikaram – E.P.& L.P. (Los Angeles)
  • Clayton Wells – Automata
  • Hamish Ingham – Banksii
  • Cory Campbell – Bea Restaurant
  • Palisa Anderson – Boon Café & Chat Thai
  • Mat Lindsay – Ester
  • Ben Greeno – Hotel Centennial
  • Flavio Carnevale – MARTA
  • Nelly Robinson – nel.
  • Jesse McTavish – North Bondi Fish
  • Ben Sears and Eun Hee An – Paper Bird
  • Darren Robertson – Three Blue Ducks & Rocker

To get a taste of how good this event will be, we were invited to a program preview where we got to sample some of the dishes that will be featured during the festival. They included amazing dishes such as Mark Best’s bar cod, fish milk with fermented potatoes; Palisa Anderson’s aged beef chin green curry; and Brent Savage’s wattle parfait with macadamia, orange and chocolate.

The Taste of Sydney Collective will include the following session times:

Thursday 8th November | 17:30 – 22:00
Friday 9th November | 12:00 – 16:00 & 17:30 – 22:00
Saturday 10th November | 12:00 – 16:00 & 17:30 – 22:00
Sunday 11th November | 12:00 – 17:00

Ticket packages start from $25 and each session requires separate tickets. Tickets can be purchased from here.

For more information about Taste of Sydney Collective: go to: https://sydney.tastefestivals.com/about-taste/


Celebrating Global Champagne Day with Champagne Lanson

Global Champagne Day was on October 19, and I was invited to celebrate with a private dinner at Bel & Brio, and a champagne tasting with the chief winemaker of Champagne Lanson, Herve Dantan.

Champagne Lanson has been importing champagne to Australia since 1855. This is not unusual as Australia is the seventh largest champagne market in the world and the biggest outside Europe. Champagne Lanson has been making champagne since 1760 and is one of the oldest Champagne houses in France. In 1900, Queen Victoria granted Henri Marie Lanson the title of ‘Purveyor of Champagne to Her Majesty’ and the House has been the official supplier to the English court ever since.

Herve Dantan guided us through the tasting, explaining the history of champagne and Champagne Lanson, the champagne making process and the  difference between each bottle that we tasted.

Champagne Lanson has been making champagne using the traditional method of flavouring wines without malolactic fermentation. Malolactic fermentation speeds up the wine’s aging process and gives it a stronger, less fruity flavour.  Furthermore, every Champagne Lanson bottle is aged for a minimum of three-and-a-half years, longer than most other champagne houses. As a result, champagne Lanson is fresher, crisper and more fruity.


As a welcome drink, we were served Lanson Black Label Brut NV (RRP $49.99) which consists of 50 percent pinot noir, 35 percent chardonnay and 15 percent pinot meunier. Most of Lanson’s champagnes contain these three grape varieties, but in different proportions. This champagne is perfect as an aperitif.

For the starter, we were served seared yellowfin tuna with tuna mayo sauce, capers leafs, seasonal leaves salad with citrus dressing. It was matched with Lanson Noble Cuvee Brut Vintage 2000 (RRP $179.99).

For the first course, we were served spaghetti spanner crab with fresh organic tomato, chilli and herb flavoured breadcrumbs. It was served with Lanson Extra Age Brut NV (RRP $104.99).

For the main course, we ate 12 hour, slow cooked beef short ribs with whisky and dark chocolate jus, and radicchio in agrodolce almonds sliced. It was matched with Lanson Gold Label Brut Vintage 2005 (RRP $72.99).

For dessert, we had home made pastry tart with chestnut mousse, wild berry coulis and caramel threads. The last drink was Lanson Rose Label Brut Rose NV (RRP $67.99).

The food was amazing and the champagne was equally good. My favourite champagne for the night was the Lanson Extra Age Brut NV, followed by the Lanson Rose Label Brut Rose NV. But my opinion could be biased, because I tend to prefer pink champagne.


And now I would like to share some tips on storing and serving champagne that I learnt on the night:

  • Never freeze your champagne, the bottle could explode
  • Do not keep your bottle in the door of the refrigerator: every time you open the fridge you disturb the champagne
  • Cool champagne by plunging the bottle into a bucket of ice for 30 minutes or lay the bottle down in the bottom of the refrigerator for four hours
  • Store champagne in low constant temperature (around 10 degrees celsius) away from light, noise, vibrations and draughts for four hours
  • The ideal temperature for enjoying and serving champagne is between 8 to 10 degrees celsius
  • Avoid serving champagne in a cold glass, you could compromise the bubbles
  • Avoid using a dishwasher which may hinder bubble formation
  • Champagne should be enjoyed in tulip shaped glasses that are tall enough to give the bubbles room to move

Champagne Lanson is available from Dan Murphys, BWS and other select retailers.

For more information on Champagne Lanson, visit: http://www.lanson.com/en/

Grant’s Triple Wood Relaunches

Grant’s, the number two selling whisky in Australia, relaunched its signature Grant’s whisky by repackaging it and renaming it, Grant’s Triple Wood, at an event on Thursday, 11 October 2018.

The new name communicates its unique whisky making process of maturing its’ whisky in three distinct casks: Virgin Oak, American Oak, and Refill Bourbon. The triple wood gives it a smooth, rich and mellow taste. 


The brand Ambassador, Justin Strzadala, explained that Australian’s love Scotch whisky but they have a bias towards single malts because they perceive them as better quality. However, that is not necessarily true. The process of blending a Scotch whisky is very complex and time consuming to ensure consistency of blend. It is a lot of work to blend a variety of whiskies to create a consistent flavour at the volumes needed to meet market demand, and then age them for a minimum of three years. Further, the flavour profile of a blended Scotch whisky can be a very complex experience with multiple layers of flavour and mouth feel, which is the result of each particular production process. This makes blended whiskies more complex than single malts. You also may not know that the history of whisky all started with blended Scotch whisky. Single malts were only actively promoted from 1963.

William Grant & Sons Holdings Pty Ltd is an independent, family owned distiller and was founded by William Grant in 1887. Grant’s is the oldest continuously family run blended whisky distillery. It is the only blended whisky producer to have its own Stillman Cooper and Master Blender working together under the one roof.

If I was reviewing the food at this event, I would give it high marks, not only for its quality but also for the way it was matched perfectly to the cocktails. But this event was not about the food.


Instead, I will discuss the whisky cocktails we got to try, which were all popular crowd pleasers (except for the last one which I had not heard of) and are designed to introduce novices to whisky, and are not for whisky connoisseurs who prefer to drink whisky neat, or with some water.  As more of a novice, it worked for me. Those cocktails tasted better than ones I had tasted elsewhere, although one popular blogger did confide in me that she found them a bit too sweet, and they had to wait for the ice to melt a bit for her to drink them.

The cocktails consisted of:

– Grant’s Triple Wood Espresso Martini (30ml Grant’s Triple Wood, 30ml Tia Maria and 30ml demarera sugar syrup)

– Grant’s Triple Wood Sweet and Sour (60ml Grant’s Triple Wood, 30ml lemon juice, 1tsp orange marmalade, one egg white and one drop orange bitters)

– Grant’s Triple Wood Maple Old Fashioned (60ml Grants Triple Wood, 15ml Maple Syrup and three drops of aromatic bitters)

– Grant’s Triple Wood Tall Treacle (60ml Grant’s Triple Wood, 100ml cloudy apple juice, 15ml sugar syrup and three drops of aromatic bitters)


So whatever preconceptions you may have Scotch whisky, Grant’s Triple Wood is a good whisky (in cocktails and drunk neat) despite it being blended and less expensive.

For more information about Grant’s Triple Wood, go to: https://www.grantswhisky.com/en/

Whirly Bird celebrates their 1st birthday

Sydney’s social set descended on Whirly Bird, a chicken and liquor venue located in Pyrmont, to celebrate their first birthday on Thursday 27 September 2018.


Whirly Bird is a pub cum chicken restaurant, located in Pyrmont, that serves the popular buttermilk fried chicken (paired with either chilli and honey caramel or house-made smoky BBQ sauce) and a variety of poultry dishes such as their rotisserie spit roast birds (available in quarter, half or whole), shredded chicken banh mi, burgers and even a chicken salad bowl. There are a number of vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu including salt and pepper silken tofu with spring onions, ginger and ponzu and a vegan power bowl, and vegetable starters such as duck fat roasted carrots, celery-battered jalapeno poppers and kimchi slaw. The menu is designed for sharing with small plates, bar snacks and larger offerings.


The bar menu consists of a vast selection of quality beers, an extensive wine list, and a variety of spirits, liquors and classically inspired cocktails. The bar’s wall is decked out with classic vinyl records and the cocktail list is inspired by musical legends.


At the event, guests washed down the poultry canapes with champagne, wine, beer and cocktails that were made by The Rook’s former bartenders Rollo Anderson and Liam Doherty-Penzer.

Live jazz band, The Low Down Riders, supplied the tunes for the night before a special performance from the Burlesque girls who bring the glamour of the 1920s to Pyrmont every Saturday night with feathers, sequins and razzle dazzle. The final act, which is part of the Birdcage Sydney, included a girl performing a feather fan dance and swirled around in a champagne glass while removing items of clothing!


Whirly Bird is a great place for a casual feast or a few drinks with friends. The open plan venue is split into multiple areas, with a total seated capacity of 150. The 80-seater dining room includes a 12-person private dining area, as well as a bar, lounge and outdoor areas.

It is open from Monday to Wednesday 12pm-12am, Thursday to Friday from 12pm – 1am, Saturday 3pm to 1am and Sunday 3pm to 12am.

Whirly Bird is located at 84 Union Street Pyrmont.

For more information about Whirly Bird, go to www. whirlybirdsydney.com.au

Wild Turkey Longbranch launches in Sydney

Eddie Russell, the Master Distiller of Wild Turkey, comes to Sydney to host a trade masterclass and a media dinner at Stanton & Co in Rosebery for the launch of Wild Turkey Longbranch.
The evening consisted of a meal where every course served was paired with a specially curated Longbranch cocktail.
Wild Turkey Longbranch (40% ABV) is an eight year old Wild Turkey, consisting of 75 percent corn, 13 percent rye and 10 percent malted barley. The bourbon undergoes two charcoal filtration methods, the first using charcoal from American white oak, and the other uses charcoal from Texas Mesquite wood (commonly used for smoking meats) which gives the bourbon its signature notes of subtle wood smoke. It is gold in colour and has caramel, pear, and citrus notes with hints of pepper, toasted oak, hazelnuts and a signature subtle smoke finish. It stands up well in classic cocktails and is good to sip neat or on ice.
Wild Turkey Longbranch was made in collaboration between Academy Award winning actor Matthew McConaughey, who has served as the brand’s creative director since 2016, and Wild Turkey Master Distiller Eddie Russell. It is the first time that a Wild Turkey bourbon bears the signature of someone other than Master Distillers Jimmy and Eddie Russell. By the way, Jimmy is Eddie’s dad, and between the two of them there is over 100 years worth of shared knowledge and  experience in making bourbon.
The name, Longbranch, was chosen by McConaughey as a sign of appreciation to Wild Turkey extending a long branch out to him and treating him as family.
At the event, Eddie Russell talked about how McConaughey wanted to create a Kentucky whiskey that was inspired by his Texan roots. The two were sharing notes and tasting samples until McConaughey called him at 4am one morning excited about a sample he had just tasted. That sample is Wild Turkey Longbranch and is the Oscar winner’s own special release.
The Longbranch cocktails tasted at the event consisted of: Longbranch Plumwood Old Fashioned which was served with soy truffle oysters & chorizo corn dog; Longbranch neat which was paired with chicken liver parfait, jamon, guindillas; Longbranch Citrus Highball which came with tuna tartare barley miso; Longbranch Manhattan which was served with rubbed smoked St Louis spare ribs; and Wild Turkey Master’s Keep 1894 neat which was matched with white chocolate textures.

For more information about Wild Turkey Longbranch, go to: https://wildturkeybourbon.com/product/wild-turkey-longbranch/

Planar Restaurant launches their new bar and menu

Planar Restaurant is the latest venue launched by the Platinum Restaurant Group at Darling Harbour. As part of the International Convention Centre, it has spectacular city and water views. It is a large space with a long bar, complemented with indoor and outdoor seating.

Like some of the other restaurants in the Platinum Restaurant Group, the menu is modern Australian and caters for diverse tastes. It is open for breakfast lunch and dinner..

With the opening of the bar, Planar Restaurant is now offering $95 cocktail masterclasses that require a minimum of ten attendees and pizza making classes for a group of ten people at $75 a head.

While we did not get to taste their pizzas nor cocktails at the launch, we did try canape versions of other items on the menu. Their pita bread (with dips) that were made in the pizza oven and their fresh seafood, particularly the prawns lollipops (prawns covered in sriracha butter sauce, lime and bronze fennel) were a standout. I can only surmise from those dishes that the lobster pizza on the menu will be a hit.


I also could not help but notice their happy hour on their website with $5 house wine, $5 Coronas, $5 spirits and $9 cocktails every weekday from 3pm to 6pm. That sounds like a bargain to me!

What: Planar Restaurant

Where: Shop C08, International Convention Centre, 1A Harbour Street, Sydney, Phone: (02) 9212 6789

When: Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 7am to midnight.

For more information about Planar Restaurant, go to: https://www.planarrestaurant.com.au/


Whitewater Restaurant celebrates the end of winter with a new menu

Whitewater Restaurant in Manly invited key Sydney media and influencers to their end of winter celebration, with a new spring menu.  Situated right in front of the beach, with an open space and a relaxed ambience, Whitewater is ideally placed in order to enjoy the spring sunshine.

The menu style is modern Australian food, with a focus on fresh seafood.

Guests at the event got to try canape versions of the 15 new sharing plates on the menu consisting of: Tuna Tatiki (thinly sliced tuna served on chopped broccolini salad tossed with soy sesame seed dressing); garlic prawns (pan fried prawns in olive oil, tomato and garlic, and served with sourdough bread); salt and pepper squid (squid tossed with crispy rice noodles, fried chilli and shallots with a side of aioli): grilled octopus (octopus salad with warm potato, fennel, radish and lemon dressing); sauteed mushroom melody (trio of mushrooms sauteed with garlic and parsley, and served with pieces of brioche); spinach arancino (spinach arancino topped with a spinach and cheese sauce); fried cauliflower (cauliflower cooked in peanut sauce with Asian nuts, and garnished with red onion and coriander); and tomato bruschetta (fresh tomatoes tossed with diced red onion and basil, on top of toast finished with a balsamic glaze).

Desserts consisted of: raspberry lychee roses (lychee sponge cake with layers of raspberries and cream, and served with macerated lychees); chocolate vanilla mousse (hard outer chocolate dome shell filled with fluffy chocolate mousse and vanilla honey cream, served with vanilla sauce); apple dome (caramel apple dome with vanilla gelato and caramel sauce); and tiramisu (soaked coffee flavoured biscuits topped with mars spine ice-cream).

 A live band, complete with saxophonist, entertained the crowd.  Guests enjoyed aperol spritz on arrival, followed by a selection of wine and champagne.


The party also include an opportunity to participate in a cocktail masterclass, which the venue is offering to the public for groups of ten or more for $85 per person. The masterclass consists of learning how to make three cocktails, and includes drinking what you make!  In the party settling, I could not say that I mastered the art of mixology in the abridged version of the class but experiences could vary in a different setting.


Whitewater Restaurant is located at 35 South Steyne, Manly. It is open daily from 11am till late and on weekends it opens at 9am for breakfast.

For more information about Whitewater Restaurant, go to: https://www.whitewaterrestaurant.com.au/

Enlightenment – Vivid Sydney’s opening night cocktail party

Enlightenment – VIVID Sydney opening night cocktail party at The Calyx in the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney on Saturday 26 May 2018, consisted of light, curated food and drinks, artisan performers and deep conversation.

The  Age of Enlightenment was an intellectual movement which advocates freedom, democracy and reason as primary values of society. It developed mainly in France, Britain and Germany in the 18th century when great thinkers such as Rousseau, Diderot and Voltaire started to look at the world in a different way. They used science and reason to shed new light on traditional ideas and the way of doing things. This philosophical, cultural and social movement spread out of Europe and changed the world. Three hundred years later, we still ask the same questions.

The evening at The Calyx explored curious things from existence, aliveness, being human and the very essence of enlightenment – probing the mind and soul to think about difficult questions – and their answers. Guests also enjoyed exclusive access to the VIVID Light Walk to end the evening.

Those attending the evening listened to speeches by Fiona Kerr, Neural and Systems Complexity Specialist who explored the wonders and possibility of our brain, Entomologist and Collaborative Memory and Intelligence Specialist Tanya Latty, Collective Mind Expert Derek Leddie and Philosopher and Writer Tim Dean. Never before did I guess that ants have transport systems far superior to humans, although their collective approach to society does result in a barbaric disregard for the weak.

One of the highlights of the night was the Enlightenment cocktail which was made from gold leaf, St Germain elderflower liqueur, vermouth infused with herb de Provence, Belvedere single estate vodka, and a dash of dandelions and burdock bitters

If you thought you missed out on a great night, or if you were here but have room for further enlightenment, there will be an Enlightenment Immersive Dinner on Saturday 2 June 2018 at the Calyx in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.

The immersive dinner will include a three course shared feast, artisan performers and a selection of engaging speakers. Kerr, Leddy and Lattie will speak again and will be joined by Dan Goods, the Visual Strategist for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and founder of the Museum of Awe, who reminds people of the gift and privilege of being alive. Philosopher Matt Beard will also take to the stage, bringing old philosophical concepts of ethics, meaning and purpose into the modern world.

What: Enlightenment Feasts: Immersive Dinner – three course meal with matching wines, speakers and performances

Where: The Calyx in The Royal Botanic Gardens

When: Saturday, 2 June 2018, 6:30 pm – late

Price: $250

To buy tickets to Enlightenment at Vivid Sydney, go to:  http://www.hardthingstotalkabout.com/enlightenment/

The Squire’s Landing launches in Sydney

James Squire has launched The Squire’s Landing, a two-storey restaurant, bar and freestanding fully glazed microbrewery, at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay with views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

The space, formerly occupied by Doyles Restaurant, is right next to Campbells Cove, where convict and Australia’s first brewer, James Squire, first set foot in Australia as part of the first fleet in 1788.


All nine beers in the James Squire’s core range are available on-tap. Plus, there’s an ever-changing selection of limited-edition releases, concocted by head brewer Peter Merrington, both at the brand’s brewery in Camperdown and the new microbrewery on-site. The menu is modern Australian, using fresh local produce and designed to be paired with the beers on tap.


At the venue launch, James Squire also launched The Wreck Preservation Ale, the world’s oldest surviving beer. It is made with 220-year-old yeast which was discovered still alive in bottles recovered from The Sydney Cove, a merchant ship that wrecked at Preservation Island, near Tassie’s northeast coast, in 1797.

The Sydney Cove had 31,500 litres of alcohol (including sealed glass bottles of grapes, port and beer), which were preserved due to the secured corkage and the cool ocean temperatures.

The Wreck Preservation Ale is a smooth porter-style brew that is dark, malty, spicy and stormy.


The Squire’s Landing is now open at Circular Quay Way, The Rocks.

It’s open Sunday to Thursday from 10am till midnight and Friday and Saturday from 10am till 1am.

For more information on The Squire’s Landing: https://www.jamessquire.com.au/brewhouses/the-squires-landing/

Mr G’s Bar and Grill celebrates their 1st birthday

Mr G’s Bar and Grill Double Bay celebrated their 1st birthday and International Whiskey Day with an intimate cocktail event on Tuesday 27 March 2018.

Mr G’s Bar & Grill is an authentic American grill that focuses on preparing the best steaks in Sydney as well as quality seafood and fresh produce. It was nominated as the ‘Best New Restaurant’ at the 2017 R&CA Awards for Excellence.

Mr G’s Bar & Grill was the first venue in Australia to use the MIBRASA grill, a wood fired, charcoal driven oven that doesn’t use gas or electricity. It allows food to be cooked retaining their natural flavours and bringing out a unique smoky taste.

Mr G’s Bar & Grill serves American craft beers on tap from the best breweries in the USA. The bar also has over 100 whiskies, including rare and unique brands, along with a full selection of spirits, liqueurs and aperitifs.

Canapes served on the night included: oysters paired with cucumber and lemongrass sorbet;  fish tacos with ginger, black sesame, ponzu and wasabi fish roe and eggplant tacos; buttermilk hot chicken wings; Little Joe eye fillet with creamed corn; classic New York cheesecake with graham cracker dust; and chocolate brownies.

Attendees included: the business owners Patrick and Angela Gallagher; plus-sized model and Biggest Loser host, Fiona Falkiner; Nutritionist and TV host, Lola Berry; Australian Olympic gold medal swimmer, Leisel Jones; highjumper and model, Amy Pejkovic; dancer and Dorothy the Dinosaur actor from the Wiggles, Lauren Hannaford; Australian singer and red Wiggle, Simon Pryce; Style Editor for Men’s Health Magazine Jeff Lack; founder of online website D’Marge, Luc Weisman and more.

Mr G’s Bar and Grill is located on the ground floor of the Intercontinental Hotel Double Bay at 33 Cross Street, Double Bay.

Mr G’s Bar and Grill is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 am till late

For more information about Mr G’s Bar and Grill, go to: www.mrgsdoublebay.com.au