Sunday, October 2, 2011


We thought it was worth opening my birthday bottle of Veuve Clicquot a full 6 hours before the official start of October 2. We were feeling very happy, seeing the beautiful new CP print hung and the ceiling fans and lights successfully installed, all ready for the coming Coogee summer.

The streets outside 8/85 were eerily quiet as everyone else was conducting post mortems on the big AFL final in Melbourne.

But for my actual birthday celebration on Sunday night we were off to the amazing Quay Restaurant, at Sydney's Circular Quay, voted Number 26 on the S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurant's List and named the Best Restaurant in Australasia.

That didn't stop us taking a $2.50 all day bus ticket for Seniors ride to Circular Quay from Coogee, the first time I have been able to take advantage of this amazing deal. It's so good that us Seniors can travel so cheaply as we're off to eat at one of the best restaurants in the world.

We had a relatively late dinner booking for 8.30pm. Unfortunately, the cold, windy, showery weather was not conducive to our pre-dinner wanderings around this spectacular part of the harbour, despite the iconic landmarks.

The entrance to Quay is on the third level of the International Terminal building, with its own great view of the Bridge. Tonight it had images of NRL football projected on the pylons - although sadly for the followers the NZ team had won the grand final game against Manly this afternoon.

We had the best table in the house for our dinner. It was a very difficult choice to decide on the four course a la carte menu (instead of the 8 course degustation) and we asked the sommelier to match each of our courses with a suitable wine (by the glass).

Our thrilling, tantalizing meal started with an unexpected but luscious taster of sashimi of tuna, umami jelly and eggplant cream. Then our first courses, which we shared, were: Sashimi of blue mackeral, smoked eel flowers, sea scallops, pickled apple, nasturtiums (the tiniest baby leaves) and Tasmanian wasabi; and, an amazing Salad of rhubarb, endive, beetroot, purple carrot, rosa radish, kohlrabi, goat's curd, pomegranate molasses and violet flowers. The salad was built on a layer of delicious, deep crimson, finely grained crunch (but what was it?). Both our first courses were brilliantly matched with an organic 2011 Thistle Hill Riesling from Mudgee.

Our second courses were: Slow cooked coturnix quail breast, stone ground semolina enriched with Alba truffle butter, buckwheat, farro,walnuts, pumpernickel, paratha, and malt (another beautifully textured and flavoured dish) and gently poached southern rock lobster, golden tapioca, shaved squid, lobster velvet and pea flowers - matched with a divine 2008 Scorpo "Aubaire" Chardonnay from the Mornington Peninsula.

Our third courses were stunning too: Confit of milk fed Suffolk lamb, purple garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, sheeps milk curd, salt bush shoots, fennel pollen, Pantelleria capers, matched with a 2003 Patha Estate "Jezza"Cabernet Merlot from Orange, and the astoundingly rich and gorgeous Berkshire pig jowl, with maltose crackling, prunes, cauliflower cream, perfumed with prune kernel oil (this dish was my idea of heaven), matched with a 2010 Thick as Thieves "Star Jack" Pinot Noir from the Macedon Ranges.

Dessert was an easy pick: the famous Quay snow egg (jackfruit flavoured on this occasion) matched with a lovely 2010 Cascinetta Vieti Moscato d'Asti from Piemonte, Italy and the Ewe's milk ice cream, caramel, roasted walnuts, prune, Pedro Ximenez, chocolate bark, pulled toffee, and vanilla milk skin, matched very cleverly with a 2010 Mount Horrocks "Cordon Cut" Reisling from the Clare Valley. By this time our sommelier was spending more and more time with us explaining each wine (never boring though!). We felt like we were old friends by the end of the night. No wonder you might say, after drinking all this wine - but hey he was a great admirer of our Canberra District wines after all!

Our dinner out at Quay was unforgettable. For a timeless few hours we just gave ourselves up to the sheer enjoyment of the amazing setting and superlative food, the wine and each other's company at this very wonderful time of our lives........... Before catching the after midnight bus back to Coogee!

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