For those of you who don’t know it, the Time Out Taste Test is our beloved magazine’s search for Sydney’s best apprentice, a contest where diners vote to decide the winners. There have been 2 heats so far (I attended the second heat) and the final is set to stage on Monday 2nd April. Each round features 6 apprentices cooking a course each, so yes that’s a 6 course meal you will enjoy should you attend. And you should attend, for failing to means missing out on receiving 1 drink and no less than 6 scrumptious courses for a mere $80. You’ll also get to meet Miffy Rigby. Cool huh?!
The event was held at Uccello, the 1 hatted restaurant just next to the Ivy pool bar. This was my first visit to the Ivy complex and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Perhaps though, my Monday night soiree offered a different clientele to the weekend crowd. The surroundings are plush and I was increasingly impressed with the service as the night progress. But I digress: the food!
Dish A: ways with onions and peas Riley Kamsler, Arras (WINNER!)
This was the only vegetarian dish (excluding desserts), and Riley did a stand up job explaining his intention to honour the vegetables and offer vegetarian diners a dish of imagination, which is a rarity. I began eating this all wrong – a little wasabi foam (too hot!), some potato (too sweet!) – before correcting myself and having a mouthful of all the elements simultaniously. Bazaaaam! What a difference flavour contrast makes. Image a smooth potato giving you this soft and sweet flavour, balanced with heat from a wasabi foam, strong pepper from sprouts and a sweet freshness from peas. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish.
Dish B: iniebo w gembie Zac Inwald, Rockpool
This unpronounceable dish is Polish for heaven in your mouth and was inspired by Zac’s upbringing. Essentially consisting of pierogies (think of these as european dumplings), which were freshened up with a heavenly beetroot pure and served with a sour cream and some pork crackling shards. This dish was the favourite for both me and my trustee co-conspirer Gemma, but vote as we may Zac didn’t make it to the final next week.
Dish C: chasing tail John Javier, Quay (WINNER!)
Clearly a pork dish, chasing tail was pork caramelised to perfection served in a salty eels broth with rare onion and egg white pearls. Undoubtably an interesting dish, the broth was at once too-salty-and-addictive and was reminiscent of corned beef. When food critics talk about umami this is I believe this is what they refer to, that salty/meaty taste that is comforting and moorish.
Dish D: autumn harvest, twice cooked roast chicken Jessica Chan, Etch (WINNER!)
The only girl in this round, and a first year apprentice to boot, Jessica talked at length about her local, sustainable and seasonal cooking influences which won the audience over to no end. Her dish was inspired by a chestnut picking trip to the Blue Mountains and featured a fantastic chestnut puree, balanced by some purple grapes, baby carrots and an ever so slightly dry piece of chicken.
Dish E: plum bavois, milk chocolate and green tea chantilly Jay Richardson Est.
An expression of plums, this dish was carried by a deliciously tangy plumb sorbet which cut through a decadent plum bavois. A hint of chocolate gave the dish depth and we think we could taste cardamon leaves amongst the dish somewhere.
Dish F: ‘baked’ apple with buttermilk and brown bread ice cream Sam Polgar, Marque
Again I began eating this dish all wrong, it’s strong elements chosen to be enjoyed together, not solo. When enjoyed together the sour buttermilk was the perfect elixir for a toffee-like apple, an ice-cream that reminded me of a decent cookies and cream, and a crunchy brown sugar praline. Although this was the last dish of the night my plate was scraped clean. Delicious.
Read more about the Time Out Taste Test.