Dining inn style
ACAST of many, from A-listers to humble hacks, gathered at Sofitel Wentworth Sydney this week to witness the unveiling of the new Garden Court restaurant, which is decorated in a clever, breezy, slightly retro French style, with wrought-iron chairs and wallpaper featuring lithograph-look pineapples.
FoodDetective chatted with executive chef Jess Ong, ex Sydney’s Summit restaurant, who has recruits from kitchens such as Alain Ducasse’s Plaza Athenee in Paris. Ong is committed to making Garden Court the equal of Sydney’s finest stand-alone restaurants. Hotel restaurants are due for a revival, he thinks. If the opening’s finger food, all from the menu, is a guide, the restaurant is set for success. www.sofitelsydney.com.au.
LANGTON’S Wine Auctions in Melbourne has reported a record sale at its online auction last week. A bottle of first vintage 1973 Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon sold for $2301, the highest price paid for a single 750ml bottle of Australian wine since 1970. A 1974 bottle of the same wine fetched $1726. Both vintages are rare and Langton managing director Stewart Langton thinks people were prepared to compete for a fragment of West Australian wine history. www.langtons.com.au.
VISITING Danks Street Depot in Sydney last week for the launch of Frank Camorra’s book, MoVida (out in November), FoodDetective chatted with the Melbourne chef who revealed he is still on the lookout for sympathetic Sydney premises but so far has not seen anything to suit MoVida’s ambience. Rumours were rife last year that he was looking at Darlinghurst sites for a MoVida addition but Camorra says the feel of the place has to be right. Atmosphere is as vital as the food, he believes. Melbourne’s MoVida is intimate, relaxed and inclusive; Detective can attest that lone diners are at home perched on a bar stool, nibbling tapas and watching the buzz. But the Sydney search goes on; David Mackintosh, of Sydney-based Vic’s Meat in Mascot, is a partner in MoVida and he’s still on the case. www.movida.com.au.
CENTRAL Queensland Barra was a swim-in for the Spring 2007 Sydney Royal Fine Food Show’s aquaculture section last week, its barramundi landing a gold medal. There were noteworthy entrants from NSW, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania. www.cqbarra.com.au.
FOOD stars will share trade secrets in a Calabrian Collaboration at Coonawarra, South Australia, as part of Tasting Australia (October 13-20), the state’s food fiesta. Vince Garreffa of Perth’s Mondo Di Carne butchery, Kingsley Sullivan, of WA’s New Norcia Bakeries, Francesca Zema and winemaker Greg Clayfield , from Zema Estate, will host a day of food fun on October 16; Zema Estate, Coonawarra; $99 a person with lunch and wines. Phone: (08) 8736 3219.
READER Vicki Tennant agrees with Detective ’ s lament over the execrable bread served up by airlines ( FoodDetective , September 15-16). Tennant says she has eaten decent bread in business or first, but never in economy until she travelled on Air France. She says the bread was ‘‘ magnificent . . . crusty, fresh baguette-style rolls’’. Passengers were asking for seconds.
DETECTIVE (who has had patchy bread experiences in business as well as economy) can update the airline bread wars: New Norcia bread from the bakeries at WA’s Benedictine monastery is served on Qantas’s domestic and international flights out of Perth in first and business classes.
Find of the week: Menus in dimly lit restaurants should be a mystery no more. Specs are cumbersome (to carry and find), Pocket Peepers are credit card-sized reading lenses that come in a range of frames, from jungle-printed to tiny diamante-studded. Hold your Peepers discreetly over the menu, etvoila . $19.90 deluxe; $29.90 crystal. Phone 1800 081 112; www.lapofluxury.com.au.
Detective loathes: That luscious sweet tomatoes can rarely be found in our cities. The socalled vine-ripened varieties in supermarkets are as tasteless as the rest. They exist, because Detective ate them, dark red and intense, everywhere on a recent trip to central Italy. We have sunshine. Why can’t we have sun-ripened tomatoes, at least in farmers’ markets?
Detective loves: The souk-like arcade at Dubai airport. Beside white-robed men, girls in jewelled black burkas, North African women with exotic hair and Buddhist monks, she found Spanish saffron, dates with orange peel or rolled in chopped pistachios, Lindt chocolates, Walkers shortbread and instant Asian noodles.