Taste of Australia

Taste of Australia

Fresh and local ingredients are the heroes at ‘An Australian Affair’ at JW Marriott.

The ‘Local Crab, Avocado, Grapefruit’ was a crowd-favourite.

Most of us are familiar with Australian cuisine, or at least the idea of the cuisine, because of Masterchef Australia. Thanks to the show, we know that they love their meats, seafood and fresh ingredients.

All of that is true but what defines as Australian cuisine is a mix of culture available there. You’ll find the dishes that are considered Australian draw influences from Vietnamese, Polish, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Italian and Korean natives living there. When people from each of these regions started living in the country, they brought in something from home. Over the years, those flavours and techniques made it the cuisine that it is today.

Soon enough, Australian agriculture became a major global producer across the world. Since there’s an abundance of land, more than 85,000 farm businesses are established and the majority of the ingredients available in the markets are locally produced.

Chef Raphael Szurek

To give us a taste of the flavours of Australia, Chef Raphael Szurek from Silvester’s Restaurant at Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay is in town. Hailing from France, the chef has given Australian delicacies a signature touch while keeping the authenticity intact.

He has curated an exquisite menu for Alba which the guests can enjoy till February 2.

Metrolife was part of the tasting session on Thursday where we tasted some of the items that will be available for the festival. 

We started the evening with ‘Organic Farm Beets, Desert Lime and Davidson Plum Sorbet’. The plum sorbet was definitely the highlight of the salad but it was the desert lime that complimented the beetroot that was cut in pieces. None of the ingredients used felt like it was overpowering another. It was a good way to start the meal. 

Made in Father Michael’s factory, localities like us know that the Vallombrosa cheese will not disappoint us. So when we saw that ‘Burrata Confit Zucchini and Tuscan Kale’ was the next appetiser we were going to have, we already knew that this will be a winner. Prepared especially for the vegetarian guests, the creamy burrata paired well with the zucchini. 

The ‘Local Crab, Avocado, Grapefruit’ was definitely the crowd’s favourite. The citrus flavour from the grapefruit balanced out the creaminess of the avocado. 

Since I am a fan of liver, the ‘Chicken Liver Pate, Ginger Jam and Brioche’ was my favourite. The pate was smooth and creamy. I wish that I could swap this with my bread and butter every day. 

We soon moved on to the mains. For someone who does not enjoy pumpkin in any form, the ‘Pumpkin Gnocchi, Miso, Toasted Sesame’ came as a surprise. The sweetness of the pumpkin did not overpower the flavour, which is probably what made it a pleasant experience. 

Pavlova 2.0

Fresh seafood is a major part of Australian cuisine. So it’s no surprise that a plate of red snapper and sea bass made it to the menu. With chorizo, capsicum and squid ink, the red snapper dish isn’t a dish that I would rave about but the addition of squid ink made it a new experience. Sea bass, on the other hand, was a light meal. The generous serving of dashi accentuated the savoury flavour as umami.

There was also a sizable ‘Confit Lamb Shoulder’ that dripped in jus and a reasonable amount of mashed eggplant that completed the main course.

We were offered three desserts and each of them was better than the other. The dramatic presentation of ‘Blood Orange, Tofu, Olive Oil’ with liquid nitrogen was worth a watch. The chef used his experience from working in Asian countries incorporate the coriander crushed in liquid nitrogen to enhance the flavour of the dessert. 

The ‘Pavlova 2.0' with Passion Fruit and Raspberries’ was light and citrusy. I saved the best for the last — ‘Milk Chocolate and Peanut Butter Ganache, Sea Salt and Black Currant’. I wish I could pick out one aspect in this dessert to praise but it would be unfair to the others; it was heaven on a plate.