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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Sugar Hit super challenge: How many could you do in one night?

How many Sugar Hits could you possibly consume in one night?

It's a question that's plagued me everytime Good Food Month rolled around. As I'd finish scraping the plate of another delectable Sugar Hit, the final mouthful of sugar slowly dissolving on my tongue, I'd ponder deep and meaningful musings like "should one start at the north end of town or south?" and "would it be faster to get a taxi or run between participating hotels?"

It's a question that's perplexed Billy from A Table for Two as well. Thank heavens, because not only does it prompt him to host a One Night Sugar Hit: Stickier and Sweeter Sydney Tour , but he asks both Christy from Fig & Cherry and I along for the ride. Woohoo!

As most of us sweet tooths know, Sugar Hits run from 9pm to 11pm at selected hotels throughout October's Good Food Month. Not only is a Sugar Hit marathon a test of digestive endurance, it's a balancing act of geographic logistics within a two-hour timeframe. Thank you Google Maps and your map-pinning capabilities!

The Big Night: 7pm. I accompany a dozen friends to BBQ King for dinner but resist the salt and pepper calamari, the char siu pork and the crispy skin chicken. Instead I have a small bowl of wonton soup. My friends are puzzled until I eventually reveal to one of them my plans for the evening. Before I know it, the entire table knows about my intended gluttony, a chain of Chinese whispers that sees each person's eyes widen with shock at our Sugar Hit target. I duck out into the night before they finish, torn between pride and shame at my evening mission.

Swissotel Sydney

Sugar Hit #1: 9.00pm Swissotel

We're one of the first sweet tooths to arrive and are rewarded with what seems to be the best seat in the house: a secluded alcove that comes with its own furnishings. It takes several minutes for our wines to arrive and then five more for our dessert plates to come. The constant glances at our watches will become an all-too-familiar pattern.

Three Treats with Chocolate: White chocolate with coconut sorbet;
milk chocolate velvet cheesecake; and dark chocolate with caramel & pear

Served with a Brown Brothers sparkling moscato

In a word: yum. The stylish plating and happy splash of yellow reminds me of the Spanish surrealist, Miro. We all love the smooth milk chocolate cheesecake, the refreshing coconut sorbet, and the rich sticky caramel nestled in dark chocolate and furnished with pear. I can't imagine many people faulting this offering. It's safe but not boring, and I come up with the word "accessible" to convey its likely broad-based appeal.

Round 1: Success

We eat it all and gladly so. With eyes on the clock we scrape back our chairs and make our longest trek of the evening - to the Intercontinental Hotel.

Sugar Hit #1: 9.45pm Intercontinental Hotel

It's about seven or eight blocks to the Intercontinental. Christy certainly knows it. She's wearing heels! I take the initiative to order our drinks before we've even sat down, politely conveying we're in a bit of a hurry. As if by magic, our dessert arrives within 60 seconds.

Tasting platter: V.S.O.P cognac cream and white chocolate-raspberry torte;
Grand Marnier-strawberry infused panna cotta; and chestnut timbale

Served with a Brown Brothers orange muscat flora

There's nothing but silence as we each attack our desserts. The white chocolate and raspberry torte is a little too firm with gelatine but we all seem to adore the chestnut timbale. Not only is it decorated with gorgeous polka dots on the outside, but the delicate flavour of chestnut is rich and sweet.

As other foodbloggers have reported, the square dish holding the panna cotta is either too small for the accompanying spoon, or we should have been issued with teaspoons. I make no hesitation in using the other end of my fork, but it's a rather unelegant way to finish an otherwise attractive platter.

Round 2: Success

Plates licked clean we make our way to the Sydney Harbour Marriott.

Sugar Hit #3: 10.15pm Marriott Hotel

The lounge here is extremely small and the host is worried she won't be able to fit us in until we reassure her we have a booking. We've made bookings for every Sugar Hit tonight except for the Intercontinental, which takes Sugar Addicts on a first-come basis.

It seems to take an eon for our desserts to arrive, especially when we see the waitress approach us with desserts, then veer toward the table on our right who we know were seated ages before us. It's torture. Instead we amuse ourselves with the consumption of our dessert wines. The cumulative effect of three dessert wines has probably kicked in by now because I find the arrival of our cutlery nestled inside the napkin pocket tine-side, not handle side, in ridiculously amusing. Will I get a spoon and a fork, or two deviant spoons? I think you had to be there.

Chef's selection: chocolate walnut brownie; mango creme brulee;
mango rice pudding; and strawberry and cream sponge

Served with a Brown Brothers orange muscat flora

Our plates arrive and we sigh with relief. Except our stomachs are feeling anything but. I love the strawberry and cream sponge (one of my favourite cakes with its clean simplicity) and delight in the mango creme brulee too. The rice pudding is good at first but then starts to become more like a meal, the chocolate brownie is incredibly dense and sweet and appears a little out of place on an already decadent platter.

Round 3: Success (mine is on the right)

We manage to finish most of our platters, although the chocolate brownie is too much of a hurdle for most of us.

It's at this point we're not only feeling green, but we're aware we're fifteen minutes late for our next booking. I volunteer to be the runner for our next booking, and as I'm pounding the pavement towards dessert number four, I'm not sure whether I should feel virtuous that I'm expending some calories, or mortified that I'm running towards to even more. It's a tough call.

Sugar Hit #4: 10.45pm Four Seasons Hotel

I collapse in a heap at our table at the Four Seasons Hotel. Here I reveal to our waitress our mission of the evening. Not only is she impressed, but she's outwardly envious. "I wish I could do that with my friends," she says.

When I tell her we have another Sugar Hit scheduled after this, she whips out our desserts as a matter of urgency.

Deconstructed Sachertorte, Austria's legendary bitter sweet chocolate tart

Served with a Brown Brothers orange muscat flora

Wow. This one's a big 'un.

I'm not sure that I agree with the nature of deconstructed desserts, but individually, these components are decandently delicious. The soft melting mound of bittersweet chocolate mousse is the clear winner here, although I'm not convinced on the apricot gel. We agree the presentation here is very impressive and had it not been our fourth dessert of the night, we would've considered this a very worthwhile investment.

Round 4: Success (mine is nearest to camera)

I'm not sure whether to be proud or horrified at this photo.

Sugar Hit #5: 11.10pm Shangri-La Hotel

The home stretch. We race into the lobby where the waitress says she was just about to let our table go. She's also let in on our evening's mission and as we collapse on the lounge we breathe a sigh of relief that finally, we can actually linger over dessert, enjoy each mouthful and not worry about running toward the next hotel!

Berry delights: pistachio shortbread with licorice-infused strawberry;
strawberry and rhubarb mascarpone dacquoise; and cream fraiche ice-cream

Served with Brown Brothers cienna dessert wine

Our final dessert platter is another triumph of aesthetics. The crackle plate gives an air of Japanese elegance. I find the licorice-infused strawberries (actually star-anise) a little too overpowering and confusing for my tastebuds and the strawberry and rhubarb mascarpone has an eggy flavour that isn't quite what I'm looking for after four plates of dessert. The creme fraiche ice cream is refreshing in a milky confection kind of way. We do appreciate the change of dessert wine though - the cienna has great berry flavours.

Brown Brothers cienna dessert wine

Strawberry and rhubarb mascarpone dacquoise

Cream fraiche ice-cream with licorice-infused strawberry

Round #5: Failed

They said it couldn't be done, but we did it. Five Sugar Hits in one night. Now pass me the insulin. I think I'm about to pass out.

Four Seasons Hotel - The Bar
199 George Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9238 0000

Intercontinental Hotel - The Cortile Lounge
(bookings not accepted)

Corner Bridge and Phillip Streets , Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9240 1396

Marriott Sydney Harbour - The Macquarie Lounge
30 Pitt Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9259 7378

Shangri-La - The Lobby Lounge
176 Cumberland Street, The Rocks, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9250 6123

Swissotel - Crossroads Bar
68 Market Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9238 7088

Sugar Hits are available: Every night in October from 9pm-11pm
To avoid disappointment, bookings for all Sugar Hits are strongly recommended.

Cost: $20
Includes a dessert plate and a glass of Hennessy Cognac or Brown Brother's Orange Muscat Flora or tea/coffee/soft drink

More Sugar Hits available here

Related GrabYourFork posts:
GFM 2008: Sugar Hit #1 at the Kings Cross Hotel
GFM 2008: Night Noodle Markets

GFM 2007: Sugar Hit #3 at the Westin Sydney
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
36 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 10/28/2008 11:28:00 pm


  • At 10/29/2008 12:31 am, Blogger Alan said…

    Hi, I'm from Melbourne. Suger Hit sure seems like a fantastic idea. Does it happen every year? I might pop up for a weekend for some dessert next year.

    Also, is it $20 each dessert, so $100 in total? Do five a night is certainly interesting but probably too much for me, I much prefer to enjoy one per night.

  • At 10/29/2008 12:44 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm in a sugar coma after just reading this post. Although i'm also very very jealous.

    Thanks for letting me experience another part of Good Food month vicariously :D

  • At 10/29/2008 12:51 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What a crazy and fun night! You managed to cover more Sugar Hits in one night than I did for the whole good food month :)

  • At 10/29/2008 1:53 am, Blogger Simon Leong said…

    HEHE, that's great and it's so good to see the many types of desserts available. well done. but just 5? surely a TRUE FOODIE could do all 10 in the CBD area excluding the Pokolbin option with the right transportation, bookings and support team for spotting the tables and pre-ordering the dishes so they are ready for you when you arrive. all you'd then have to do is eat, drink, walk to car, get back out of car, eat, drink etc etc etc and then final stop to the hospital. i guess there's always next year and surely the SMH Good Living will write it up as an article, "FOOD BLOGGERS CONQUER CITY SUGAR HITS". I'm up for the challenge, are you though? Simon :-)

  • At 10/29/2008 6:01 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think you deserve some kind of trophy for that effort... though I must say, it doesn't look like too much of a chore...

    I'm so annoyed I moved overseas a month before good food month! So foolish of me!

  • At 10/29/2008 8:51 am, Blogger PiCkLeS said…

    Helen that is insane! INSANE!!

  • At 10/29/2008 9:24 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Brown Brothers wine is one of the things I miss most about Australia. What a decadent night you had!

  • At 10/29/2008 9:24 am, Blogger uberannie said…

    Nice work!!! Friends and I went through a similar challenge a few years ago but weren't as ambitious as 5, we only did 2 (I wanted to go more) and they were exhausted after that! I wish I could have joined you but the photos feel like I was almost there :)

  • At 10/29/2008 9:42 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Was such a fun night! Your pictures are a million times better than mine too, well done.

    Let's do it again soon -except next time with cheese! I promise to eat more if it's cheese ;)

  • At 10/29/2008 10:18 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great story Helen - and a terrific piece of foodie journalism. You should be writing for the Herald.

  • At 10/29/2008 10:52 am, Blogger Reemski said…

    Ha! I'm so glad you did that, because it makes me feel like less of a glutton when my boyfriend and I did two in one night!

  • At 10/29/2008 10:54 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow. I am more than impressed. And I feel a little sick even reading it! Have you had a dessert since then?

  • At 10/29/2008 12:08 pm, Blogger Y said…

    What a crazy night! You guys are nuts! :D

    ps: I loved the description of you racing to make it to the next hotel..hehe

  • At 10/29/2008 1:26 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    woah awesome effort dude! lol i liked the caption from the last pic haha

  • At 10/29/2008 2:18 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The sachertorte looked outstanding, but I enjoyed reading your night's account more than the actual food tasting. Hilarious!

  • At 10/29/2008 4:21 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Niiiccceeeeee!!!! Fun-filled night with action, drama and sugar! Great photos too :)

  • At 10/29/2008 4:23 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My god Helen! Steady on! We don't want you incapacitated!

  • At 10/29/2008 4:53 pm, Blogger M-H said…

    That was a fun read. So, tell me, are you, er, a large woman (yet)? :)

    And I loved that at the foot of your blog entry was an ad offering to tell me how to lose 90lbs...

  • At 10/29/2008 5:49 pm, Blogger Annie said…

    Holy crap Helen! That is crazy - however, comes in perfect timing as we are tossing up where to go for our sugar hit tomorrow night! Thanks for the preview!

  • At 10/29/2008 6:13 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    oh my, helen!
    it sounds like another episode of amazing race on a desserts challenge
    i totally envy u :):)

  • At 10/29/2008 6:13 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    OMGosh! what a great idea! However, by the end, I'd probably be too full, too drunk and vow never to eat dessert and drink glorious wine ever again. Horrible!

  • At 10/29/2008 6:39 pm, Blogger thanh7580 said…

    That was utterly amazing. When I started to read, I thought you would do three at most. But five is insanely ludicrous and absolutely fantastic. To even think of doing five is scary.

    The desserts all look so tempting. I wish they had this in Melbourne as I just adore sweet stuff.

    I think you should feel virtuous about all that exercise you did between the places. That's would be my excuse anyway.

  • At 10/29/2008 8:48 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    as much as they all looked yummy.. i dont have a sweet tooth.. well just a little.. but that is too much for one day helen!!! let alone the hours u guys had it.. almost bedtime!!! lol.. did u get to sleep or were u too full

  • At 10/30/2008 12:16 am, Blogger Rachel said…

    Hey Helen! Well done on a night to remember and recount for many years thereafter. Do you think you'll be up for the challenge again next year? My belly ached just reading your post! I am glad for the sake of "research" you were able to share such a variety of desserts with us and have great photos to share too! My hands would have been shaking from a sugar high by the 3rd place!

  • At 10/30/2008 6:44 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    wow :)
    That must have been a rush hour!
    and a very sweet night too~

    Btw, one not suppose to run after eating because its a no no for stomach.

  • At 10/30/2008 10:49 am, Blogger Renee said…

    oy my god! That is fantastic! We are finally going to have our first sugar hit tonight (nothing like leaving it to the last minute!) - and I can't wait

  • At 10/30/2008 1:02 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Alan - Good Food Month does happen every year, although I hear that in 2009 the event is going to be re-branded as the Sydney International Food Festival. The Sugar Hits are part of Good Food Month.

    I think that for maximum enjoyment you should definitely stagger your desserts - 1 or 2 is fine but 5 is definitely only a punishment of gluttony!

    Hi Jess - lol. I'm sure you are getting up to so many more tasty food adventures in ol' Blighty (and Paris! And Spain!) It was a hoot of an evening, and yes, I did feel a little ill by the end of it!

    Hi Howard - It was crazy indeed. I eclipsed my own monthly record. I think in the past my max in one year has been four!

    Hi Simon - Are you volunteering to do 10 next year then? I look forward to it!

    Hi bettylovesblogging - I'm not sure what kind of trophy it would be - maybe a sick bag! I like to have a Good Food Life. I think we all should. haha

    Hi Pickles - I know :) And even better, I wasn't the only one!

    Hi Anon - Decadent is one to put it. And ha, you'll have to push them to export more!

    Hi Unberannie - I think two is a good way to finish your evening. Glad you enjoyed the photos too!

    Hi Christie - Some photos turned out better than others, but hey, I did have a bigger camera than yours :) Ooh I love cheese. A cheese marathon sounds tasty! haha

    Hi bolo - Ha, thanks. I'll wait for their call :) I'm so relieved that everyone enjoyed the writing as well, and weren't just drooling over the photos!

    Hi Reemski - lol. Happy to be of service. Two is positively virtuous!

    Hi 12ontheside - Um, yes I did have dessert. The next day in fact, and then a little more the next day. I thought it would cure my sweet tooth, but alas, not so!

    Hi Y - lol. It was truly crazy. I could barely believe the scene myself. Quite disgusting really but oh it was fun!

    Hi chocolatesuze - It did getter harder to "judge" the desserts as the evening wore on. And yes, we really couldn't finish the final platter. I have no idea how Kobayashi and Sonya Thomas do it!

    Hi Evecho - Glad you enjoyed the descriptions. I was tempted to just upload the photos but I agree, it was the entire spectacle of the evening that was the highlight, plus the desserts of course!

    Hi FFichiban - Action! Drama! Sugar! I like it! And thanks, glad you liked the post and photos!

    Hi Jax - lol. Nope I made it home, and I still wouldn't say no to a dessert platter (altho' I won't say yes to five anytime soon!)

    Hi M-H - I always have a healthy appetite :) It's my approach to life in general (and most things sweet as well!).

    Hi Annie - Enjoy your sugar hit. I hope you've made a booking!

    Hi Ange - lol. If only Phil was at the finishing mat as well! I love AR. It's one of my favourite shows!

    Hi Teresa - It was certainly a test of endurance, and hey, you'd be surprised at how fast your body can metabolise calories once you try :)

    Hi Thanh7580 - To confess, it was me who pushed for three. I figured that was the maximum possible so why not Go for Gold whilst you can? lol. And thanks, not sure how many calories that 3 minute jog burnt, but hey, I'll take it!

    Hi Kay - I did go to bed quite late actually. A mix of fullness and too much sugar I think. But it was fun!

    Hi Rachel - I think it's up to everyone else to try to better five desserts in one night :) Glad you enjoyed the post though, and I don't shake from sugar. I just start to groan. lol

    Hi lild - I don't think that running made much of a dent on my already stomach - it was about to get loaded with even more food!

    Hi Renee - Ooh enjoy your first Sugar Hit. Hope it's tasty. It's a long forgotten luxury to be able to savour every mouthful slowly!

  • At 10/30/2008 10:28 pm, Blogger Eva said…

    What a crazy idea! I guess I couldn't stomach more than 3 in a row... However, I'm pretty happy that you did it all so I could at least have a glimpse of all the Hits (missed out this year)!

  • At 10/31/2008 11:36 am, Blogger Bean Sprout's Cafe said…

    Wahhh.........You guys did such a very great job ! 5 places in 1 night after dinner ....I think even I skip dinner, I will be enough after 3rd hotel..:)

  • At 11/02/2008 11:25 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Eva - I think that three is probably the most one should attempt without filling ill. Hopefully you get to some Sugar Hits next year :)

    Hi Bean Sprout's Cafe - It's always amazing what one can achieve once you put your mind to it :)

  • At 11/06/2008 8:30 pm, Blogger twig said…

    omg i just felt sick reading that lol
    great feat though!
    you've got bragging rights now

  • At 11/07/2008 12:18 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi twig - lol. I'm not sure if I'll attempt it again next year, but it was a memorable night indeed!

  • At 11/08/2008 2:38 pm, Blogger j0ykezt said…

    that is crazy impressive! i would love to have done something like that but i don't know how much i can take! lolz...

  • At 11/10/2008 8:14 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi j0ykezt - You never know until you try :)

  • At 11/23/2008 3:37 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As a fellow sugar addict I read this post with great glee and an even greater grin.

    Certainly an event to go down in the annals of gastronomic glucose gluttony.

    I reckon there's commercial potential there if someone could figure out a way to have home-delivered sugar hits - no pavement pounding or worrying about the breathalyser.

  • At 11/23/2008 7:50 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi divegurl - Home delivered sugar hits? Now there's a thought!


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