Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sugar Hits, SIFF 2009 (Perama, Macquarie Lounge, Four Seasons)

I felt like a fraud this month. Here I am, 7 months into my food blog, and the biggest food month of the year was happening. It was nearly the end of the month and I hadn't attended a single SIFF event. I'm sorry, I've failed you! Thanks to some help from my favourite blog girls (Karen, Lisa, Betty, Leona and Lili), I managed to squeeze in some Sugar Hits in before the end of the month and I thought I better report back about them, at least before the month ended and it became completely irrelevant for the rest of the year!

Sugar Hit #1: Perama, Petersham

Glykomezedakia - Week 4 (Yiouzlemedes, Dried Fig Karithopita, Poached Pears in Spiced Red Wine Syrup, Triflaki)

I've been hearing so many good things about Perama's Sugar Hits this year and it came as no surprise to me. I've always had a soft spot for their desserts, and I thought it was a fabulous touch that David Tsirekas was offering a tasting plate of past and favourite desserts of Perama, with a different selection each week. It meant that even though I had seen reviews from previous weeks, I could still show up this week and expect a surprise. And it meant others could come multiple times this month and not have the same thing each time. Brilliant!

'Triflaki' - A layered ice cream trifle of vanilla buffalo milk gelato, tsoureki (greek brioche) soaked in sour cherry syrup and chocolate buffalo milk gelato, (behind) poached pears in spiced red wine syrup

The plate was a generous serve compared to some of the other desserts I've seen on offer (see below), with four different little treats for us to try. We tucked into the ice cream first since it was already starting to melt after all our photo taking, and it was my absolute favourite of the plate. The gelato was smooth and creamy, with a great contrast in texture thanks to that middle layer of brioche soaked in a bright red sour cherry syrup. Oh I was totally in love with the syrup! Each different flavour was easily distinguishable but well balance. I could have eaten so much of this. I think the poached pear was slightly different to the one I've tried at Perama previously, it packed a much spicier punch, though it was just as well-poached. It could just be because it wasn't served with yoghurt this time, so I noticed the spices a lot more.

Yiouzlemedes - Dessert from Lesbos of manouri cheese wrapped in a pastry and fried and served with poached quince and quince syrup

I was excited about this dessert because I love every single thing that comes wrapped in pastry at Perama. Whether it's the pie or the bougatsa, I can't stop eating the flaky, buttery pastry they serve. I totally enjoyed the sweet poached quinces and quince syrup that came with this, but am still undecided about the manouri cheese, I think it made the dish a little more savoury than I expected it to be? I couldn't try the dried fig karithopita, a walnut and semolina cake soaked in honeyed sugar syrup, but judging by the murmurs of approval around the table this was a hit.

Passionfruit bougatsa, caramel baklava ice cream, peanut butter ice cream sandwiched between chocolate biscuits

And because we are all insane sugar junkies, we had to get some extra desserts along with our sugar hits. Everyone always goes completely bonkers for the caramel baklava ice cream which does make me a little sad that I've never been able to try it, but unfortunately there's not really anyway to make it nut free and still baklava flavoured! I didn't get to try the peanut butter icecream dessert either but the other girls couldn't stop talking about how good it was. I was happy to plow my way into the ENORMOUS passionfruit bougatsa in the meantime, it was just sooooo good. That wonderfully crisp, flaky pastry that I remember, with a warm semolina custard filling, flavoured with passionfruit syrup. The last time we had a mandarin flavoured one and there was some discussion as to which we preferred. I quite liked the added punch of flavour from the passionfruit while others thought the subtle hint of mandarin was more to their taste. Either way I think we all agreed that both were really good!

All the desserts come served with tea or coffee or Greek coffee and tiny shortbreads (I had a yummy chocolate and orange flavoured one) and your choice of Patras muscat dessert wine or Metaxa 5 Star brandy. For $20, it's definitely one of the better value Sugar Hits around at the moment.

Sugar Hit #2: Macquarie Lounge, Sydney Harbour Marriott

Another night, another chance for a Sugar Hit or two (or three if possible!). Karen, Lisa and I were booked in for a hit at the Marriott at 9pm and the Four Seasons at 10pm. We arrived slightly early at the Marriott but they didn't seem to have a problem with that. Of course they don't actually start pumping out the desserts until after 9pm, so we ended up having to wait about half an hour for our dessert to show up. That pretty much squashed any hopes of us squeezing in an extra sugar hit before our booking at the Four Seasons.

I find something wonderfully daggy about hotel lobby lounges. Whether its the low back chairs or the cheesy background music, it dredges up memories of being a little kid on holiday, eating buffet breakfasts and waiting around with your bags of stuff while your parents freak out because they've lost something or the bus to the airport hasn't shown up.

Valrhona Chocolate and Raspberry Symphony Delight

I'm was quite looking forward to this Sugar Hit, the sound of it ticked some boxes - Valrhona chocolate? And raspberry? That combination sounded like a winner. When the plates are brought out, there's an initial Ooh! because there's a pretty tempered white and dark chocolate spiral thing and a macaron presented on top. Followed by a less enthused Hm. Because the slabs of mousse cake underneath don't look particularly exciting and fairly generic.

Chocolate macaron

I think any normal group of girls would be very pleased to be served anything resembling a macaron with their dessert. Unfortunately for them it was this group of girls, who were all Daring Bakers, and were all currently completely obsessed with making the perfect macaron. So this macaron was scrunitized in great detail and very quickly scoffed off as being inferior in appearance, texture and taste to the high standard macarons we were aiming for. The biscuit was very dry and crunchy, probably because they were straight out of the fridge, which meant the ganache in the middle was cold and dry too. Oh well. The tempered chocolate was pretty but didn't really taste of anything, and the mousse cake below was mostly very sweet and not particularly interesting.

Sugar Hit #3: The Cafe by Kables, The Four Seasons

There were quite a few tables of people here at the Four Seasons hotel for the Sugar Hits, so I was looking forward to trying this one. It was another chocolate dessert, which was probably not a good thing since I was feeling a little overloaded with chocolate after that super sweet dessert at the Marriot. This time it was a baked chocolate mousse mandarin sorbet, an aniseed biscuit and cubes of mandarin jellies. The baked chocolate mousse was okay, very rich and sweet, and I was excited about the mandarin combination since I usually enjoy mandarins in dessert, but this really didn't work well together. I'm not quite sure why, I think the mandarin flavour in the sorbet was a little bit artificial.

Baked Chocolate Mousse with Mandarin Sorbet and Aniseed Croquant
Both the Marriott and the Four Seasons served a glass of Brown Brothers Orange, Muscat and Flora dessert wine with their dessert. I didn't really want it and to be honest it really irked me that I was paying $20 of which at least $8 was counting toward a glass of wine that I didn't want and I didn't really have the option of a tea or coffee instead (though the Marriot were very nice and let Karen swap her wine for a coke when she asked). I was pretty disappointed with both of these sugar hits, just because I didn't feel like it was anything exciting ,and it was possibly worse than a normal dessert I might order at the end of a meal at any decent restaurant. I understand that they need to make something that's easy to pump out quickly for the Sugar Hits, but when you compare it against the quality at other places like Perama, you wonder why some of these places even bother to participate in the event, because their laziness only leaves me with a slightly more negative opinion of them. Maybe my expectations were just too high because I'm so dessert mad!

88 Audley Street

Petersham, NSW 2049

(02) 9569 7534

Available between 9-12pm

Sydney Harbour Marriott
30 Pitt Street

Circular Quay NSW 2000

(02)9259 7330

Available between 9-11pm

The Cafe by Kables
Four Seasons Hotel Sydney,
199 George Street

Sydney NSW 2000

(02) 9250 3231

Available between 9-11pm

All Sugar Hits are $20 per person and available nightly during the month of October unless
stated otherwise
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  1. Excellent coverage of your sugar hits! I can imagine you all sitting there scutinising the macaron! Lol. Pity about the other two, but at least Perama made up for any sugar hit disappointment!

  2. Hehe well you definitely made up for it with the Sugar Hits! Perama definitely look like the pick of the bunch :D

  3. Oh it's a triple sugar hit snap. lol. Shame about the macaron altho it was always going to have to live up to high expectations :)

  4. ohhh steph i reckon your macaron looks better than marriott's. Go Perama best value dessert

  5. Perama was without a doubt my favourite, even just for the fact that there were several different tastes on the plate to try, not one giant dessert! Oooh that gelato.

  6. At least you made a couple of sugar hits - I made it to NONE!

  7. hehe, I agree that most hotel lobbies = daggy central.

    Mmmmm again those Perama desserts making my mouth water. Such interesting items.

  8. I went to the one at four seasons, and I agree.. it was nothing spesh at all.
    Coming from someone in the hotel industry, the four season is uber ugly inside and out compared to other hotels, the lobby definitely is nothing spesh, no WOW factor. I wouldn't even have known I was at the four seasons had it not for the big plaque. I would have thought the food would have made up for it but it didn't.
    Anyhow, hopefully next year's sugar hit will be better!!

  9. Oh my gosh, you have no idea how jealous I am of you right now? LOL!!!

  10. Betty - Ahaha yes we were very harsh critics! Perama 1 Hotels 0 :)

    Lorraine - Hehe not nearly as much as you! It definitely was, though I would have loved to try Glass Brasserie's

    Helen - Haha that was kind of freaky! But no overlap which was lucky :D

    Linda - heehee thanks! For sure, go Perama!

    Lisa - Yup I'm with you on that!

    Trissa - Aww it's okay, I don't really think they're worth it anyway! Better off going to all the restaurants and having their normal dessert menu.

    Conor - Yeah, I agree. They were so much more interesting than the other two!

    VoN - the four seasons makes me angry!

    Brenda - Haha it's okay, you saved your money!

  11. Love Perama to bits and a bad macaron can be a particularly big disappointment for some reason LOL.

  12. Same here, Perama rules! Totally, though I have very high expectations at the moment :)


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