Din­ing inn style

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence - Ju­dith Elen

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.

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