PERMANENTLY OUT

(to lunch)

On 23 September 2012, I attempted to push my physical and mental boundaries by participating in Tough Mudder. This is the official video of the event - it was absolutely brutal but well worth it.

It is 21 obstacles (including electrocution) over 12 miles (about 20 kilometres or approx the length of a half-marathon). I hurt for weeks!

(Source: youtube.com)

The trailer for Johnny Depp’s new film “Lone Ranger”

(Source: youtube.com)

Sydney’s Observatory Hill Park is the perfect place for a picnic on a lovely spring day.

Sydney’s Observatory Hill Park is the perfect place for a picnic on a lovely spring day.

Night Noodle Markets, Sydney

The Night Noodle Markets in Sydney have become somewhat of an icon on the Sydney food scene. Occurring every October as part of Crave, the Sydney International Food Festival, they have developed from several stalls in a small section of Hyde Park connected by the odd plastic outdoor furniture arrangement to an enormous hawkers market populated by scores of stalls, several themed bars, VIP areas and live music and DJs all connected by hanging Chinese lanterns spread enchantingly across the park over a series of wonderfully warm spring evenings.

The food, previously patchy in parts, is now consistently good. Tonight we had oysters sexed up with Asian flavours from Agape Organic, pork dumplings served in a moreish broth from Jimmy Liks, Zilver's peking duck pancakes and the most amazing kaffir lime and coconut ice cream from Serendipity Natural Ice Cream. Each of these dishes were good if not great and served their dual purpose to promote the brand behind the stall as well as the diversity of the Night Noodle Markets itself. The fried bananas from I-can’t-remember-where were aso a treat.

But there was something else about this year’s markets. It had an extra element to it. The bars were a touch hipster with the Coopers area adorned with a lovely wooden courtyard and furniture, while the Rekorderlig area had beanbag cushions and, well, cider. Both bars had DJs spinning tunes and in another area a band played to a smaller crowd until the markets themselves closed. The markets seem to have finally grown up and into themselves. Having secured their place in Sydney, they are now secure enough to experiment a little and spend a little more money and time on getting things right, and the result is an exceptional evening that would be as at home in Asia as it would in NYC’s Central Park. Sydney is a very good place to live at the moment.

Gangnam Style Flashmob in Sydney’s Martin Place

(Source: youtube.com)

I never wanted to post a cat video. I promised myself. But this, this is simply too good

Break

Hi all, just a quick note to let you know I am taking a break for a few weeks. I’ll be back before the end of the month with more posts. Hold your breath!

Stanley Kubrick really likes symmetry apparently.

(Source: Mashable)

Sake, The Rocks

There are restaurants around town that simply everyone recommends. You know, those talked about places where the food has the x-factor, the staff mix friendliness perfectly with attentiveness and where you come away from a lunch or dinner with the feeling that somehow anyone who wasn’t with you has had a lesser experience. Sake is one of those places and unlike many new kids on the block it has proved itself with significant staying power and consistently good food and service. It’s liked amongst casual diners and business professionals alike and after a recent long lunch there it is easy to see why.

A slew of people I know rate the karaage at Sake (photo below) as the best in Sydney but I find it hard to choose between Sake and Izakaya Fujiyama. Sake’s is lighter, spicier and more modern, while Izakaya Fujiyama’s is the classic Japanese style, the original deep fry, if you will. But I digress, as will you when you arrive at the lavish fit-out and enchanting bar slash restaurant housed on Argyle Street in The Rocks. Hosted by the equally enchanting Kavea, who some may remember from Tank night club days, a visit to Sake is the culinary equivalent of a long, warm hug.

A great way to start your journey is with freshly shucked oysters with Japanese salsa which is a prelude to the South American hints you see creeping into some of the dishes. The crescendo of these combinations and the dish you must try is the kingfish jalapeno, a wonderful modern take on sashimi with a dalliance of spice, soy and coriander. It’s spectacular in a way that is completely separate to the karaage although in no way less impressive. The delectable balance of opposites is evident throughout the menu with hot following cold, spicy mingling with salty, Japan with South America, and all washed down with a glass or two of Capanno Pinot Gris 2009 from the Southern Highlands of NSW. Delightful.

We further indulged with grainfed teriyaki wagyu, a fresh take on your traditional teriyaki beef that’s cooked medium rare and presented on sautéed shiitake mushrooms and buckwheat with yakiniku sauce (a dressing commonly used in Japan on grilled meats). Next up was a melody of tempura with tentsuyu dipping sauce (the classic tempura accompaniment) made up of prawns, fish and various seasonal vegetables. These are traditional Japanese dishes that have been given the “wow” factor through the use of fresh and unusual ingredients, and modern cooking variations. It is the clinical execution of these unique creations that has no doubt earned Sake a chef hat for two consecutive years.

Ending our meal was (obviously) dessert and it is worth saving some room for the chocolate fondant (top photo) comprised of a lusciously warm and moist chocolate pudding sitting at the other end of a plate of white sesame ice cream with a black sesame tuile (like a wafer) and scattered with grounded nuts. The balance of opposites was in full effect with this dessert and it crowned an exceptional lunch with the food rivaled only by the service. Sake has hit on a winning formula that appeals to many palates, and never fails to impress on your next visit, or the one after for that matter. This is Sydney dining par excellence.

Saké Restaurant & Bar
12 Argyle Street
The Rocks NSW 2000
(02) 9259 5656
http://www.sakerestaurant.com.au/ 

Saké Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

6am, Central Station, Sydney.

6am, Central Station, Sydney.