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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sydney Food & Wine Fair

prawn cocktail close-up

If there's one thing that Sydney does well at, it's eating outdoors. Good food outdoors.

All the necessary factors were in play for the annual Sydney Food & Wine Fair, one of the final events for Good Food Month. The sun was out, the skies were a glorious blue, and the crowds were flocking and ready to eat.

Over 70 food stalls and more than 30 wine and drink stalls lined the grassy verges of Sydney's Hyde Park. The familiar white tents housed happy teams of chefs and servers, all volunteering their time and resources for the Aids Trust of Australia.

Purchases operated via a coupon system, where $2 vouchers were bought from coupon stalls, and then exchanged for the object of your stomach's desire.

sydney food and wine fair sign

Feeling much like children clutching play money, Saffron and I grinned happily and within three seconds of purchasing our coupons we were off and snapping...

sydney food and wine fair stalls
Food stalls lining The Avenue, in Hyde Park

Ocean Room chefs
Ocean Room

The Ocean Room chefs were busy prepping seared tuna layered in crispy tacos with soy ginger caramel, spring onion and tomato.

serving up salad
Serving up salad (sorry - forgotten which stall this was from)

Industrie - South of France

A chef from Industrie seasoning seafood for their Risotto de la Mer - risotto of king prawns, scallops, calamari and spiced marinated tomato.

chui lee luk

I confess, catching sight of Chui Lee Luk was embarassingly exciting. She's female, she's Asian, she has both an arts and law degree, and, after a year of working as a solicitor, decided to chuck it all in and become an apprentice chef. Now at only 35 she's both head chef and owner of Claude's. And she has three hats. She's my hero!

Salon Prive Catering

canape close-up
Salon Prive canapes

Art installation as part of the Aids Trust Association

Aids quilt

Oysters topped with salmon roe

dried pasta
Pretty pasta

wagamama mini
Noodle-mobile - A Wagamama Mini

prawn cocktails
Dolphin Hotel

These were being marketed as retro prawn cocktails. Thousand island dressing still doesn't do anything for me, but I admit the black cone presentation was ingeniously classy.

Chui Lee Luk
Chui Lee Luk, Claude's (again).

Yes, I was stalking her. But with good reason. This time I proferred a handful of coupons.


Chef from Hugo's throwing some prawns on the barbie.

Prawns on the barbie
Sizzling King prawns

Deciding what to eat was a painfully agonising decision. Painful because it was gone midday and I hadn't eaten any breakfast; agonising because of the self-imposed pressure on making the best choice from the wide array of dishes on offer.

The dangers of dilly-dallying with decision-making were illustrated when we backtracked in the direction of Flying Fish only to discover their famous snapper fish curry was completely sold out. "500 portions sold out in under an hour" the man shrugged, but Saffron's wily ways =) secured us a chef's tasting of the leftover curry sauce, straight from the ladle and sipped at with agreeable nods all round.

Resisting the forboding sense of rising panic, our need to buy!buy!buy! quickened our step, lest we get lumped with soggy noodles or uninspired fare, a nightmare for any intrepid foodblogger. We sniffed, we examined, we jostled the mass of peoples in search of hidden goodness.

Grilled king prawns on avocado stack from Hugo's

Saffron eventually found her lunch partner from Hugo's. Two King prawns sizzled to juicy perfection, intertwined like lovers on a lofty bed of avocado salsa.

Poached veal in a tuna mayonnaise from Claude's

I eventually elected for the veal from Claude's, reasoning that this is the closest to Luk's food I'll get to for quite a while. The veal was moist and tender, pairing suprisingly well with the creamy tuna mayonnaise. The tuna was subtle but enhancing, and a garnish of finely chopped greens (salted shallots, cucumber and celery at a guess) added a refreshing crunch.

It was only afterwards that I realised I had compromised my political integrity by eating veal, but it was so good that I don't know if I could trust myself to choose otherwise.

Serge Dansereau
Serge Dansereau dispensing happiness

Like two sugarholic soulmates, the need for The Perfect Dessert was never far off either Saffron or my mind. Catching sight of Serge was another cringeworthy moment of excitement, but watching what he was doing was even more breathtaking.

A perfect almond tart was clothed in a scoop of mascerated berries and crowned with a gentle dollop of fresh whipped cream. We watched buckets of vivid red strawberries unite with blackberries, blueberries and mulberries.. showing us all that colours united are indeed a perfect place.

As we noticed the parade of others holding this trophy aloft, we knew we had to have it. And so did everyone else, judging by the enormous queue numbering at least 80 people.

almond tart
Almond tart with berries and cream from The Bathers' Pavillion

But joy was ours. Patience paid off and Serge remained calm but friendly as he personally handed each person their plate of perfection. Apparently they had 550 tarts allocated for the day, and I have no doubt they ran out not long after.

almond tart consumption
The taste? Divine. A light, moist and not-too-sweet almond tart. Crisp buttery pastry shell. Citrusy almond meal. Sweet berries. Joy of cream. Eaten with eyes half-closed in delirium, eyes half-open to guard against trespassers.

Perfect closure and two contented sighs of happiness.

The Sydney Food & Wine Fair takes place annually in late October.
All proceeds go to the
Aids Trust of Australia
Related GrabYourFork posts:
GFM 2007: Sugar Hit #2 at the Sofitel Wentworth
GFM 2007: Sugar Hit #1 at the InterContinental Sydney

GFM 2006: Good Living Growers' Markets
GFM 2006: Hats Off dinner at Becasse
GFM 2006: Night Noodle Markets Week 3
GFM 2006: Night Noodle Markets Week 2
GFM 2006: Night Noodle Markets Week 1
GFM 2006: Spring Picnic
GFM 2006: Sugar Hit #4 at the Sofitel Wentworth
GFM 2006: Sugar Hit #3 at the Intercontinental Sydney
GFM 2006: Sugar Hit #2 at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney
GFM 2006: Sugar Hit #1 at the Park Hyatt Sydney
GFM 2006: Sydney Food & Wine Fair

GFM 2005: Good Living Growers' Markets
GFM 2005: Night Noodle Markets
GFM 2005: Spring Picnic
GFM 2005: Sydney Farmers' Market
GFM 2005: Sydney Food & Wine Fair

GFM 2004: Twilight Trail: Cocktails and Sugar Hits
10 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Anonymous on 10/30/2005 11:59:00 pm


  • At 10/31/2005 1:47 am, Blogger Chick Pea said…

    Oh man the food looks sooo good, and it looks like it was the weather was perfect for a day of gouging...ahem...I mean eating ;)

    Thanks for the photos. Look forward to checking it out next year when I'm back...woohoo!

  • At 10/31/2005 3:12 am, Blogger Joycelyn said…

    hi ag, i just came from saffron's site, which made me delirious with food-envy...reading this post and looking at your beautiful pictures has just pushed me over the edge...i need to go take a cold shower...

  • At 10/31/2005 4:12 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sydney here i come..!!!

  • At 10/31/2005 8:21 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    yay! you posted!! i knew you would have taken some good pics! i'm so glad you got one of the tarts!

  • At 10/31/2005 8:40 am, Blogger Reb said…

    I was at the business end of the day - I volunteered to help the AIDS trust set up. I too got close to a few food luminaries (CEOTCK - close encounters of the culinary kind) as well as stacking Delicious show bags shoulder to shoulder with Trudi Jenkins. What an amazing amout of effort went into the Fair! Everyone was so good spirited and happy - a truly Sydney event. But boy, was I STUFFED at the end of it!

  • At 10/31/2005 11:20 am, Blogger Veruca Salt said…

    Fantastic photos as always.

    How exciting 2 celeb chefs!

  • At 10/31/2005 9:15 pm, Blogger English for Life Class said…

    Hi Again,

    Here is that elusive job I mentioned from yourrestaurants.com.au

    Editorial Assistant – yourRestaurants & yourBars

    An exciting opportunity exists for an enthusiastic, talented person - interested in the restaurant, bar and club scenes - to join the editorial team for our Australia-wide yourRestaurants and yourBars guides. Responsibilities include:
    Researching, inputting and fact-checking restaurant and bar information

    Media monitoring and tracking of restaurants and bars

    Writing and subediting venue profiles

    Sourcing information and images from venue owners and managers

    Responding to user feedback

    To fit this role you will have solid editorial and sub-editing skills, fast and accurate data entry skills, proficiency in online research, superior computer skills, excellent phone manner and an enthusiastic approach. Our work environment is creative, fun and energetic.

    This position would suit a junior editor looking to move up into lifestyle media, a talented journalism or communications graduate, or even a hospitality professional with strong writing skills. Salary $30,000 plus superannuation.

    HWW Limited is a fast-growing, progressive, company - centrally located in Sydney’s fashionable Surry Hills district - and is a leader in collecting, aggregating and publishing entertainment content onto mobile phone, online and print. We are best known for our TV, movie, restaurant, bar, music and event guides.

    If you believe you have what we are looking for, please forward a cover letter, a 150- to 200-word description of your favourite restaurant or bar, and your CV to jobs@hww.com.au

    You would be perfect for this job!!!


  • At 11/01/2005 9:42 pm, Blogger Rachel said…

    Wow thanks for being our roving eye and catching so many great pics as well as background knowledge of most of the stalls. Wish I lived closer... will try and mark on the calender for next year :D

  • At 11/05/2005 3:01 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ok, apologies for a 'late' post - but just had to comment on the fab photos of the Food Fair! Now that is food porn at its best! Crikey-I cant believe I missed all that goodness.AG, me thinks you may need to start up that 'Whats Happening/Upcoming Events' section again. (Yes I do live under a rock).

  • At 11/13/2005 12:35 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I, too, was extremely excited by the sighting of 'Madam Claude'. I don't cook, but i am in awe of people who do, and do it well.

    The festival was so good, wasn't it? After eating, we lay around on the grass with our bottle of sparkling pinot and got gently merry.

    Can't wait for next year's!


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