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Monday, May 02, 2011

Quarter Twenty One, Sydney (CLOSED)

EDIT: Quarter Twenty One has closed

Quarter Twenty One is the latest ambitious undertaking by Justin and Georgia North, officially opening in Westfield Sydney late last week. The concept includes the relocated Becasse (moving from Clarence Street and shrinking in size from 70 to 24 seats), and expansion into a new modern European restaurant, cookery school, providore and a retail bakery. The size of the space is 700 square metres, with $4 million invested.

[The reasoning behind the name Quarter Twenty One]

Quarter Twenty One Cookery School

I was invited along to the first class at the Cookery School, held on Sunday. The Cookery School is enclosed within glass walls in the providore, easily visible to browsing shoppers and passersby in the mall.  It's compact and organised, with induction cooktops and ovens by Fagor, motion-detection taps, and cameras above the demonstration benchtop relayed to a TV screen for participants.

Alex Mackay

Today's class is Cooking in Provence led by Alex Mackay, cookery workshop teacher for Delia Smith. He's flown out from the UK to check out his best mate's new venture - Alex was the Raymond Blanc cookery school director when he first met Justin North.

Cooking in Provence - Alex's latest cookbook

Alex Mackay

We're seated on stools at movable stainless steel counters. The class is a mix of demonstrations, front-of-the-class assistance, and hands-on pasta making. Alex is clearly at ease as a teacher - entertaining but focused, and determined to keep things fun.

Soupe de Gambas aux Confit de Tomates
Tiger prawn soup with confit tomatoes

Prawn heads and shells are the magic ingredient for the most amazing prawn bisque, he tells us. He pan-fries the shells first before adding tomato paste and then adds water to create a rich stock. The strained stock is then combined with a puree of cucumber, red capsicum, garlic and bread to create a cool and refreshing Tiger prawn soup.

The soup is garnished with flash-fried prawns, roasted cherry tomatoes and dollops of pistou. Pistou is simply French for pesto, and Alex's tip is to blanch the basil leaves before blending to maintain a vivid green colour.

Daurade Grillee au Pistou Coquillage
Grilled sea bream with a 'Pistou' of shellfish

The next dish Alex demonstrates is remarkably simple but delicious. It's a rustic mix of haricot beans, zucchini and tomato cooked with clams and mussels so their natural juices flood the pan. Sweet moist fillets of bream are grilled separately and hidden beneath a cascade of vegetables.

A conveyor belt of pasta

Alex show us how to make pasta dough and then use a pasta maker to roll it out. Everyone is impressed when he joins the two ends together to create a loop of pasta he can feed continuously through the machine.

Conveyor belt pasta

My spinach raviolo with egg yolk

We all get a chance to get our hands dirty, making the pasta dough by hand and then using the pasta machine to roll it out. We cut the dough into large squares and place a large spoonful of ready-prepared spinach and parmesan mix. In the centre we place a raw egg yolk, and then enclose it with another square of pasta dough.

Completed spinach ravioli (mine is top right)

Libby Travers, Cookery School Coordinator, adding grated parmesan cheese

The raviolis only take 4 1/2 minutes to poach. Alex recommends that all filled pastas should be cooked in water that is barely simmering - when water boils, it tends to make the pasta flimsy and increases the risk of the filling leaking out.

Alex adding burnt butter to the ravioli

My cooked spinach raviolo

The egg yolk money shot

The raviolo is divine: runny egg yolk, piquant spinach and parmesan, and the silky texture of fresh pasta.

Plating desserts

I'm called up to help with the production of desserts, and soon everyone is involved in plating and service.

[Clockwise from bottom]: Lemon curd ravioli, layered lemon curd and red grapefruit with filo pastry, and lemon and cinnamon caramel creme brulee

It's a lemon finale with a trio of desserts each featuring lemon. The addition of cinnamon to the creme brulee does create a more adult-tasting dessert, lending an elegant complexity. I'm not so keen on the lemon curd ravioli which is a little dense and chewy, but I do like the circles of brik pastry, made by sandwiching two circles with butter and sugar (repeat on top) and baking at high heat until golden.

Quarter Twenty One

And after the class there's time for a quick browse of the shop that focuses on small local producers.

Quarter Twenty One

Becasse breads

Cafe de Paris butter $8

Veal stock $10 and large wagyu beef lasagne $20 (serves 3)

Dried pasta with the wine fridges at the back

Fresh fruit and vegetables

Aging cabinet

The new Quarter Twenty One restaurant seats 70

Becasse Bakery with a view of the kitchen inside

Almond crossiants $6.95

Zokoko 68% chocolate muffins $6.95

Crossiants $4.50

Brioche loaf $11.95

Sourdough baguettes $6.95

Fresh baked filled baguettes $9.95
and mini seeded filled rolls $7.95

Chestnut Mont Blanc $8.95

Bolivian chocolate petit pots $7.95
and petit dessert du jour $8.95

Petit gateau opera $6.95

Quarter Twenty One cooking classes start at $100 for 45-minute express classes. Upcoming classes include:

Adriano Zumbo, Monday 16 May 6.30pm-9.30pm demonstration class - $190
Perfect pork crackling, Wednesday 18 May 5.30pm-6.15pm - $100
Jared Ingersoll, Monday 23 May 6.30pm-9.30pm demonstration class - $190
Colin Fassnidge, Monday 30 May 6.30pm-9.30pm demonstration class - $190
Macarons and petits fours, Saturday 4 June 10.30am-1.30pm hands-on class - $170
Will Studd, Monday 20 June 6.30pm-9.30pm demonstration class - $190
Warren Turnbull, Monday 18 July 6.30pm-9.30pm demonstration class - $190
Mark Best, Monday 15 August 6.30pm-9.30pm demonstration class - $190
View Cookery School program

Grab Your Fork attended the Cooking in Provence class as a guest of Quarter Twenty One. 

Quarter Twenty One
Westfield Sydney, Level 5
Corner Pitt St Mall and Market Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9283 4400

Becasse Bakery
Westfield Sydney, Level 5
Corner Pitt St Mall and Market Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9283 4400
Becasse Bakery on Urbanspoon

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Charlie and Co Burgers, Sydney
43 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/02/2011 02:52:00 am


  • At 5/02/2011 3:08 am, Blogger Phuoc'n Delicious said…

    Very cool! I'm drooling at all the tempting creations from the bakery!

  • At 5/02/2011 4:41 am, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    Nice looking ravioli there!

  • At 5/02/2011 4:47 am, Anonymous chopinandmysaucepan said…

    Your money shot is pretty impressive. I see they have done away with table clothes too.

  • At 5/02/2011 7:13 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    Nice work Helen, yours is the best looking raviolo! The produce shop is beautiful. I dropped by last week. Great selection of wines & some nice cheeses as well

  • At 5/02/2011 8:02 am, Blogger Michelle Chin said…

    Man, look at the entire spread!

  • At 5/02/2011 8:34 am, Blogger Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said…

    Saw the place just before the opening a few days ago and managed to be 'in the area' again yesterday and it all looks great. The two dishes sure sound so simple but I would imagine the flavours to be amazing. LOVE the Becasse Croissants!

  • At 5/02/2011 8:44 am, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    Mmm, raviolo looks yummy!

    45 minutes certainly is express!

  • At 5/02/2011 9:18 am, Anonymous betty said…

    great write up, i want to look into one of the classes thanks for sharing the details

  • At 5/02/2011 9:21 am, Anonymous Minh said…

    Those desserts look amazing! I think I'll have to pop by soon to try some of those Petit desserts

  • At 5/02/2011 9:39 am, Anonymous Aimee said…

    Looks delicious! I'll definitely be making a trip there. But maybe it's just me but $7 for an almond crossiant? Suppose you can only charge at that price in Sydney aye?

  • At 5/02/2011 10:12 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    mmm money shot but even more mmm butter!

  • At 5/02/2011 10:40 am, Anonymous Sandra said…

    Funny that, we were there just yesterday and peeped inside the classroom just as Alex was demonstrating, and I didn't even see you! Pastries at the bakery looked very good, but quite pricey considering their small size! Will return though to try Quarter 21 restaurant :-)

  • At 5/02/2011 10:45 am, Anonymous OohLookBel said…

    The shop looks gorgeous. What a top place to do a cooking class.

  • At 5/02/2011 10:52 am, Blogger muppy said…

    that ravioli looks amazing, nice tip to cook it in simmering water. looks like a fantastic class, oneday i hope to do a cooking class :)

  • At 5/02/2011 11:30 am, Anonymous Nic@diningwithastud said…

    Your ravioli made me smile :) it was so perfect! Well done. I would have thought 4.5 minutes would cook the yolk but its so perfect!!
    Cant wait to head up there on a lunch break

  • At 5/02/2011 2:50 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Oh, everything is so pretty! At first I thought the ravioli filling was a vegetarian tartare :D

    I was going to mention other things, but then I saw the MONT BLANC AND I CAN'T THINK OF ANYTHING ELSE. *ahem*

  • At 5/02/2011 3:24 pm, Blogger Mel said…

    Wow - this place is an empire unto itself. I'm going to steer clear though as those sweeties are too tempting and I'm menat to be a on a diet...for now.

  • At 5/02/2011 4:28 pm, Blogger Sydney Shop Girl said…

    It looks amazing! I have to check it out soon.

    SSG xxx

    Sydney Shop Girl blog

  • At 5/02/2011 5:12 pm, Blogger sugarpuffi said…

    your raviolo is full of win! just look at that yolk oozing out..omg...

    the class look so fun even for a hater of cooking like myself

  • At 5/02/2011 6:43 pm, Anonymous Dumpling Girl said…

    I've been looking at doing some of those classes. The class looks like great fun.

  • At 5/02/2011 7:30 pm, Anonymous Mrs Pigflyin said…

    The prawn soup looks so colourful and I like the conveyor belt pasta :) But the bakery is definitely the winnner for me!

  • At 5/02/2011 8:46 pm, Anonymous gastronomous anonymous said…

    oh i am definitely keen to do one of the cooking classes - it looks fun! was there before the class started actually and then got some croissants from becasse. YUM!

  • At 5/02/2011 10:03 pm, Blogger Jen said…

    I've never seen croissants call my name like that before! Makes me wish I worked in the city.

  • At 5/02/2011 10:29 pm, Anonymous sara (Belly Rumbles) said…

    Err drool? The yolk in the ravioli is almost pornographic!

    Smiled at the pic of the paris butter. I made a big batch of it up over Easter, freezes so well.

  • At 5/02/2011 11:26 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Thanks for your all comments everyone!

    - Yes the Becasse tables are now covered with ostrich skin!

    Sandra - lol. I was sitting at the back. Shame I missed you!

    Hannah - I took that photo just for you :)

    gastronomous anonynous - We must have walked past one another. lol.

  • At 5/02/2011 11:47 pm, Blogger Viv said…

    Amazing photos Helen! Every single food shot was enough to make me drool at this time of the night! The tiger prawn soup, the oooozing ravioli (do u have the recipe hahhaha)...the desserts and amazing baked goods! I can't wait to check this place out altho im sure its bad for my wallet!

  • At 5/03/2011 12:15 am, Blogger Von said…

    I've been meaning to visit Westfield Sydney some time...now I have even more of a reason to go! Those pastries and desserts look so tempting....:)

  • At 5/03/2011 2:21 am, Anonymous Jenn said…

    That Almond crossiant looks mighty good. And great job on the spinach ravioli too. :)

  • At 5/03/2011 7:16 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    What a great class and I like the tip about having the pasta water not boiling

  • At 5/03/2011 10:18 am, Anonymous Alex Mackay said…

    This is lovely Helen, many thanks for coming. I was so proud to be involved with quarter 21 and I can't wait to come back as soon as I can. I wish we had something this brilliant in the UK. I'm flying back today and I'll miss the beautiful food and lovely people of Sydney in general and quarter 21/Becasse in particular.
    All warmest regards

  • At 5/03/2011 11:47 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think it's great that so many venues are giving people the opportunity to attend this kind of cooking classes (more professional than old-style basic courses). That spinach raviolo looks awesome!

  • At 5/03/2011 1:14 pm, Blogger idontcryieat said…

    WOW you lucky thing! everything looks divine and i love your shot of the egg yolk ooooozing out of the ravioli! the desserts look like they're to die for!

  • At 5/03/2011 3:11 pm, Blogger Georgia said…

    Thanks for the great post! The cookery school sounds very appealing as do the look of those pastries, wow!

  • At 5/03/2011 3:56 pm, Anonymous Andrea said…

    Those almond croissants look delightfully delicious.

  • At 5/03/2011 5:00 pm, Anonymous Mark McConnell said…

    Fab pictures Helen! Having spent so long designing Becasse, Becasse Bakery, Quarter Twenty One and Charlie & Co. burgers with Justin and Georgia it's great to see everyone enjoying it all at last. I'm one of the first lucky diners in both new restaurants. You all have to go to both. Becasse 5 course degustation was one to remember. Thanks J&G. Private dining room with friends next for my 40th...Can't wait!

  • At 5/04/2011 2:49 pm, Anonymous Vivian - vxdollface said…

    I love the bivrancy of the prawn bisque, wish I could lap it up off my screen! This new venture is one of a kind, can't wait to attend a class and dine there :)

  • At 5/04/2011 2:49 pm, Anonymous Vivian - vxdollface said…


  • At 5/06/2011 8:32 am, Anonymous Chanel said…

    That ravioli looks incredible! I like the tip about blanching the basil. I'm looking forward to visiting Quarter Twenty One. I love Becasse Bakery - the banana peanut brittle tart is oh-so-perfect.

  • At 5/06/2011 9:59 am, Anonymous Jane said…

    I gotta get myself over there! thanks Helen.

  • At 5/06/2011 2:07 pm, Blogger Jess Joseph said…

    I went to the Westfield food court yesterday & couldn't find the bakery. They didn't even have it on their touchscreen directory. :(

    Whereabouts is it?

  • At 5/07/2011 9:44 pm, Anonymous Cat said…

    Hey helen
    love the blog, just wondering how i can find a post that u put up sometime last month, cause when i go to your archives, it only leads me to the last post of the month !

  • At 5/08/2011 12:15 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Alex Mackay - Thanks so much for stopping by. The class was so much fun. Will definitely have to make that spinach raviolo again!

    Hi Mark McConnell - You must be so pleased to see it all finally come together. The private dining room would be amazing!

    Hi Jess - That's odd that the touchscreen menus haven't been updated. The bakery is on level 5, near Becasse and Quarter Twenty One. The fastest way to get there is to take the express escalators from Pitt Street Mall next to Sportsgirl.

    Hi Cat - Unfortunately Blogger recently made changes to the archive view and will only retrieve a set number of photos. Hopefully the drop-down menus will help, otherwise try using the "search this site" box at the top.

  • At 5/21/2011 10:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi, can you please post the recipe for the spinach and parmesan mix? Thank you! Bruna (Brazil)


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