Monday, 15 October 2007

mxmo food pairings: gfm cocktails

How convenient that Mixology Monday's October theme "food pairing" coincides with Sydney Good Food Month when over 90 of Sydney's bars are featuring cocktails with matching canapés (A$20).

Instead of inventing my own drink and snack, I picked three interesting combinations and critiqued these.

Café Sydney Lounge
Red October served with Kingfish Tartare Tartlet

The kind people at Café Sydney accommodated my friends and I when we turned up for the Cocktail of Month at midday (it starts at 5pm). What can I say, we were eager beavers.

The Red October interested me because it combined ingredients I usually enjoy (Licor 43, pineapple, strawberries) with those that I don't rate very highly (Campari, blood orange). It was described as a generous measure of Belvedere vodka shaken with Campari, Licor 43, fresh lime, blood orange, strawberries and pineapple.

I couldn't taste the Licor 43 but the strawberry, pineapple and blood orange did combine to mask most of the residual bitterness of the Campari. I usually like the entry flavour of Campari but gag on the aftertaste so this cocktail delivered in that regard.

Overall, it was a pleasant cocktail but not particularly spectacular. It was one of those "lounging in the sun" type drinks rather than an experience in itself.

The kingfish, one of my favourite fishes when raw, was topped with shiny orange roe and micro herbs. The presence of blood orange added sweetness to the tomato salsa and the repetition of blood orange in the cocktail and canapé meant they matched each other well.

The room itself was flooded with natural sunlight from the high glass ceilings. I loved the Mod black and white sofas against the burnt orange carpet and the space had a good feel despite the fact that it was tucked in the corner, away from the spectacular Harbour views.

Level 5, Customs House Building
31 Alfred Street, Circular Quay, Sydney
+61 2 9251 8683

Harajuku Martini served with Tuna Ceviche

The descriptor explained that nashi pears and rosemary were shaken with Belvedere vodka and a French Poire William liqueur before getting treated to a black pepper rim. The nashi pear had a mild, slightly sweet flavour that easily absorbed the savoury characters of the rosemary, although the rosemary itself wasn't very noticeable.

The cocktail was very light and easy to drink, almost non-alcoholic, so the black pepper coating (of the entire glass!) was a good addition. It brought an aromatic camphor-eucalypt scent and added a much-needed punch to enliven the cocktail.

The tuna ceviche was absolutely divine. Divine! The tuna was toothsome and the tangy dressing was flavoured with lemon, lime, jalapeño and baby coriander. Fresh teardrop tomatoes, micro herbs and crispy fried onion provided textural contrasts.

Although the canapé was very good, I'm not sure it matched the drink. It's not that it clashed, it just didn't compliment or enhance the drink. In fact I think the fresh, flashiness of the ceviche outshone the mild flavours of the cocktail.

I had never been in Hemmesphere before and I adored the romantic revolving chandeliers and swanky Moroccanesque décor: deep lounges, plum cushions and mosaic tea lights. It would be such a comfortable place to spend an evening.

When we were there (6pm on a Monday) we were the only patrons but I can guarantee the place packs out at the end of the week and over the weekend.

Level 4, Establishment Hotel
252 George Street, Sydney
+61 2 9240 4040

Industrie, South of France
Paradis Ce Soir served with Four Sorbets

After the first two Cocktails of the Month, Industrie’s effort was a disaster.

The venue used to be a glamorous little bar with a Parisian vibe but the food stains on the banquettes and the ratty results of daily wear and tear make it seem less magnifique and more derelique.

No one had briefed the staff at the downstairs bar that Industrie was even involved in the Cocktail of the Month promotion and I was treated me like an imbecile for asking about it.

Once the upstairs crew explained to their downstairs colleagues, my bartender mixed my cocktail only to discover it wasn’t a full glass.

When this happens I believe the bartender should discard the contents and start again since cocktails are made to measure and if you don’t get a glass full then something was missing or not measured correctly.

Of course he didn’t start anew but made a second batch, which he poured on top of the first, only to discover that this came up short too. He then vigorously swirled the ice in the cocktail shaker and kept pouring the mess into my glass until I told him not to bother since all he was doing was adding water.

I took my drink back to my table and where I was presented with three clumps of icy sorbet dumped onto a plate. No presentation at all and one sorbet short of the advertised four.

I tasted the unnamed sorbets: raspberry, chocolate and perhaps blood orange? They certainly didn’t match the cocktail which was flavoured heavily with peach schnapps and became bitter after the sorbets.

I went back to the bar and was grunted at until I discovered that I had not been served the GFM cocktail, Paradis Ce Soir (vodka, lychee liqueur, mango liqueur, lime and palm sugar), but Industrie’s Cocktail of the Week!

The bartender was irritated by this point (hey buddy, how do you think I felt?). They were so incompetent there wasn’t any point bothering so I started to walk away. At the last second his customer service skills returned and he begrudgingly offered to make the right drink. It was too late. I was over it. I just shook my head and kept walking.

Whatever it was, the drink I had been mistakenly served tasted nice but watery.

The chocolate sorbet was good but the others were pretty pointless.

The best part of the evening were the Frites Provençales, chips fried with rosemary and garlic and served with aioli.

One of the girls who was with me during this fiasco had been to Industrie earlier in the week and had told me the Cocktail of the Month had been lovely. She said the sorbets had been presented nicely and had matched the drink. What the hell happened?

107 Pitt St, Sydney
+61 2 9221 8001

This month the MxMo host is
Natalie from the Liquid Muse so head on over to her blog to find out what other cocktails and food pairings were conjured up.



  1. Hi Anna,

    the Harajuku Martini sounds very interesting indeed.

    Was the pepper rim all the way to the lip? I'm curious because I'd be afraid the texture and spice touched to the lip might be irritating... then again, it's cold weather right now so my chapping may be leaving me a bit biased.

  2. blair - yes the pepper did reach the rim, but it wasn't irritating at all. it was goooooood.
    to be honest i would have preferred it to be a little less all over the glass since it meant you had to hold the stem or risk very messy hands.

  3. Hi Anna:

    Just been with some friends of yours, Vicky and Roberto. I live in Mexico City, although I am from Spain. Nice blog you have. I,ll have a look around and come back later with my comments.

  4. Anna:

    I have the same passion in food you have. I lived five years in Austrlia and loved the country, the people and the food. I now live in Mexico City. I took Vicky and Robert to a wonderful restaurant here. I am sure the liked it. I was last week in San Francisco and spent a fortune in restaurants: Michael Mina, Manresa (both with 2 michelin stars) and... The Jewwl of the Crown: THE GRENCH LAUNDRY, last Saturday. It was my second visit there. Mind blowing. I will send you a copy of the Tasting Menu we were served.

    We have a lot to talk.

    Hope to hear from you.


  5. There was a spelling mistake before. Obviuosly, it was THE FRENCH LAUNDRY. Sorry

  6. What a horrible experience. The sorbet presentation left a lot to be desired but details of the surly service (and bizarre cocktail topping-up) is particularly mortifying.

    You've given me a craving for sashimi btw. :)


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