march into merivale - launch party

image23The establishment. Home of free-champagne-for-ladies-thursdays, watering hole for those known only as "suits". And for one night only (so far at least), the one place in Sydney where (I'm assuming normally sane) people crushed, bumped and grabbed at little spoons, burgers and slices of piggy goodness courtesy of Justin Hemmes. I'm talking, of course, about the march into merivale launch party.

So I got my pretty on (heels, dress, shoes - check!) and dashed down to the Establishment, worried that I'd be late. And arrived half an hour early. *sigh*.

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the queue outside the establishment

I rocked up at a little over half past 5 to find Billy standing outside, studiously avoiding the door bitches. Apparently I'd unintentionally freaked him out into purchasing a brand new outfit for the evening. (Sorry... again...) And whilst we stood and chatted, a strange thing happened. People arrived and started lining up behind us. A small group of people also lined up in front of us (which I thought a little strange), and by 6pm, the line was enormous. Turns out Sydney does like food after all. Especially when it's free.

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the booze

We entered. To our right, Uccello. On our left, Mad Cow. And right in front of us, to the left of the marble bar, stood the booze. Well, stood the people who were holding the booze. I stopped for a moment, considered my options, and then sacrificed what I'm sure was a decent glass of wine so that I could bring you these photos. Lovely, aren't I?

But to the food - and apologies that this is largely a pictorial post, but I'm not accustomed to being out on a weeknight :)

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the bistro cbd station

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freshly shucked rock oysters with golden shallot dressing

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grilled figs st agur

Bistro CBD turned out an offering of oysters and figs. Beautiful seasonabl produce and fresh as fresh can be.

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the teppanyaki station

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soft shell crab on betel leaves

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ocean trout sashimi

At teppanyaki, a lady in a kimono ushered us to try the offerings. *Snap Snap Snap!* went our cameras and *chomp chomp chomp* went we. The crab on betel leaf offering was probably my favourite of the evening - it was a toss up between that and the piggy goodness offered later, but in the end, the crisp fresh leaf and the understated sweetness of crab won out.

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sushi choo station

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kingfish sashimi with jalapeno

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suchi man at sushi choo

I have to say, I loved the set up at sushi choo. Fresh cherry blossoms, astro boy & an amiable sushi man making hand rolls for public consumption. Brilliant! Also, I never thought kingfish (the light and sweet fish that it is) would be so well paired with jalapeno peppers. But the sliver on top turned "mmm... fresh... yum" into "mmm.. fresh... oooh! yum!" - and really, that's what I eat out for. That extra bit of surprise and delight that I wouldn't come up with at home.

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ravioli of prawn, shellfish and lemongrass vinaigrette

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tartare of aoraki salmon, cucmber, wasabi and ponzu

Est. had two fishy offerings for the punters. And by this stage, there were plenty of them. I really felt bad for the chefs at the launch. There were people everywhere! Some, not content to wait at the front of the tables where the food was being served, squeezed in the sides and took morsels off the trays they arrived on before the chefs could even plate them. If it were me, I would have thrown my hands up in exasperation and gone for a wonder. But not Peter Doyle, who merely groaned and kept plating. He was later happily accosted by Billy & Karen for a photo, and kindly obliged. Such a nice man :)

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kingfish ceviche with shaved fennel, dill and lime

Ash St Cellar produced this spoonful (and other assorted goodies). Kingfish is my favourite fish to eat raw or mildly cooked, I find it too much when fully cooked, so this was right up my alley.

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carcuterie - game terrine, rabbit rilettes, chicken liver pate, toasted brioche

Mad Cow was situated out the front of the Establishment, complete with hot and smoky barbecue. While we were still waiting in the queue, they threw open the glass doors in front of the Mad Cow stand and let the smoky goodness out. If we weren't hungry before, we were hungry then - though I don't know where the barbecued offerings went... maybe a chef's dinner? Or maybe I just missed it.

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san pel & lime sculpture

One thing I love about the Establishment is the aesthetic. Silk umbrellas hang from the ceiling in the outdoor courtyard, giant light fixtures adorn the walls inside. And for the launch party, this gorgeous green, translucent san pel & lime sculpture had been set up right next to the lifts. I was almost (almost) tempted to nick a couple of limes (it looked a bit sparse about half an hour into it so maybe someone else succumbed to the temptation) but didn't.

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pig head (front) prosciutto being sliced (background)

Take a deep breath now all, cos I'm about to cover uccello.

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prosciutto grissini

So I'm a big fan of Uccello, having been taken there some months ago by my uncle. Since eating there, I've raved about their prociutto with parmigiano reggiano. I've recreated their chocolate fondant (or at least tried to), and last night, I spent a good deal of time staring through the window in vague wide eyed wonder at Massimo Bianchi.

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prosciutto (sans grissini)

The prosciutto was just lovely. Mildly salty and full of fat, and balanced out just so by the crisp grissini stick. Also, it made me feel like I was eating a pork lollipop. And that can only be a good thing. Later, Helen & I stood around the table as they brought out plate after plate of freshly shaved prosciutto (possibly having run out of grissini, possibly not bothered to wrap it around anymore) and chomped away at it, marvelling at just. how. good. it was. ( I hear a certain someone from a certain blog ate five or six serves of it. Note mentioning any names of course. Hehe.)

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porchetta

The porchetta was lovely as well. Spicy and fragrant with just enough crackling to make me happy. Crunchy, soft and piggy. Perfect.

I missed the desserts (being tired and over the crowds) but hear that there was tiramisu. Dammit. Maybe I'll just have to rock up and pay for a full serve. Which isn't a bad idea at all.

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March into Merivale is running through the month of March. There are $33 lunch & dinner menus at each of the Merival restaurants, with a different special appearing every week. Lunch / Dinner consists of a main meal + a glass of wine from Chandon or a Kirin / James Squire beer. The Merivale group is also holding various events to coincide with the month.

12 bites more:

billy@ATFT said...

wow you are fast! what a good write up and remember all the names too! In the end the dresscode simple thrown out the door for the night as there was a jogger in runners, tshirt and short sweating away inside while eating.

Helen (AugustusGloop) said...

wow that was fast. and you got heaps of good photos! i'm still reminiscing about that prosciutto...

lili - pikeletandpie said...

Drool!
I wish I had gone. I saw your tweet about it, but dismissed it as I thought it would be too difficult, and too packed (so I went to Chat Thai, again!). Now I'm disappointed because all the food looks so lovely. Great (and timely) post!

Forager said...

Great photos! Agree with the crab betel leaves - my favourite of the night too. And clearly I wasn't fast enough with my pics as my photos featured far fewer portions. The greedy vultures got there first :(

Karen said...

Hehe I think you're the 2nd person to post - damn efficient ppl! I didn't get as much photos as you as I just gave up with the crowds.

Don't feel too guilty...now Billy has a brand spanking new outfit to add to his wardrobe!

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

Sounds like a great night! Good on you for posting on it so quickly too :D

FFichiban said...

/cryyyyyy... got their too late! Missed out on too many of the delicious foods and I am definitely kicking myself for missing out on the porchetta X| RARRR but awesome photooooosss! Should have stayed longer :P

shez said...

Billy: over-achiever is my middle name. no seriously :) and yeah! i got run into by a guy carrying a sleeping bag. crazy crazy crazy!

Helen: most of the good ones were taken in the outdoor courtyard area - around est. etc the lighting was too dark & the people too fierce. i had to scrap heaps due to random hands & fuzzy food :(

lili: i was tempted to skip it too (due to my stron crowd-aversion) but am glad i went. wouldn't complain about chat thai though. yummo!

Forager: they were brilliant weren't they. boo to greedy vultures!

karen: and a good lookin' outfit at that! looking forward to seeing your shots (esp the one of mr doyle) ;)

Lorraine: it was! pity you couldn't have been there - though traipsing around NZ is no large chore either...

FFichiban: i knowww! but did you get dessert? i really should've stayed longer - if only for the tiramisu (looked so so good).

chocolatesuze said...

*sniff* so so jealous!

foodie-central said...

oohhh they look yummy. The prosciutto looks really nice and silky. The best I've tried is at Cafe Sopra.

Simon said...

Wow! Some really nicely lit shots compared to others I've seen about this event. Didn't even know there was a courtyard involved until now.

shez said...

chocolatesuze: ahhhh don't be upset! you got to eat at nobu!

foodie-central: haven't been to cafe sopra, but if the prosciutto is anything like it is at ucello, i'm sure i'll love it :)

Simon: thanks so much. i'm a fairly new food photographer, so glad to see i'm doing well! the courtyard is lovely. you can look up and see the sky :)

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