As part of the Sydney Bar Week festivities, I attended the Fashionable Drinks event at Gazebo Wine Garden on Monday night as a guest of the festival organisers. I didn’t know much about what the night would involve, but was ready for stunning fashion, intricate cocktails and delicate wines. Fashionable Drinks really delivered the goods!
The aim of the night was to showcase four rounds of cocktails and wines, matched to a particular fashion era in time. The drinks were inspired by the popular drinks of each era, so guests were taken back on a type of trip through time.
- 1920s: a cocktail involving gin and lemon juice, and a strong full-flavoured sherry.
- 1970s: a Tommy’s Margarita and a sparkling Lambrusco.
- 1980s: a strong oaky chardonnay and a dodgy Blue Lagoon cocktail.
- 2000s: a red wine and a strange cocktail called a Bondi Hipster.
My vote was for the 1970s – the tartness of the Tommy’s Margarita was really amazing and the freshness of the Lambrusco made it one of the best red wines I’ve ever tasted. The Blue Lagoon was trashy, but amazing in its trashiness.
There was a great vibe about the night. We were a group of about forty people, and although K and I didn’t know anyone before the dinner we had some really warm conversations with other guests. Strangely enough, one of our neighbours was good friends with an ex-university-lecturer of K’s…it’s a small world.
Well done to Sydney Bar Week and Gazebo Wine Garden on a great cocktail night.
K and I recently visited Menya Mappen after a joint date with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service where we both donated blood. Talk about a romantic date night! We were in definite need of a large satisfying meal to set us straight on our feet after donating nearly half a litre of blood each, and Menya Mappen down the road from the blood centre really delivered the goods.
Menya Mappen is a self-service udon bar in the heart of Sydney, drawing on what is apparently an growing trend in Japan. Apparently the self-service udon bar industry in Japan grew by 5% in 2011 – there’s clearly a trend here that reflects our society’s preference for faster and cheaper service.
Joining the cafeteria line, we chose two cold drinks, two large bowls of ontama bukkake udon, three tempura prawn, two tempura sweet potato slices, tempura sliced onion, takoyaki, and a picked veggie rice ball – for the cheap price of $35AUD for the both of us!
The ontama bukkake udon was beautifully tasty, especially with the half boiled egg on top (the ontama). The egg was really done well, with the perfect blend of runny white and semi-solid yolk.
The tempura was more hit and miss – while the sweet potato was done quite well with a light covering of tempura batter, the prawns were a different matter. Good tempura has minimal batter, but the tempura prawn was pretty much 50/50 prawn to tempura batter. I had to pick off a lot of batter for the prawn so that it would actually taste any good.
The takoyaki was lukewarm, which really affected its flavour. Takoyaki tastes best when it’s fresh off the pan, not when it’s been sitting on a heated buffet for close to an hour. Lucky I’ve recently purchased a poffertje pan for the cheap price of $9AUD so I might be able to experiment with making takoyaki in a poffertje pan at home.
I would rate Menya Mappen a 7 out of 10. It really is amazing value and with the tastiness of the noodles the restaurant really deserves that rating. The tempura really let it down though and has cost it quite a few points.
Thanks to the generosity of the event organisers, I attended the Drinks Fest afternoon session at Sydney Bar Week today. Held at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay overlooking Sydney Harbour, it was absolutely the best place to be with the warm weather, the sun reflecting off the water and unbeatable views.
I got to meet a number of representatives from various alcohol companies, and did a bit of taste-testing at each stand. Some of my personal highlights included:
- The Vok Chocolat liquor range is amazing. The Rich Cocoa blend was particularly great, and would give a nice kick to a mug of hot chocolate on a cold winter’s night.
- A five minute neck and shoulder massage at the Monkey Shoulder stand. With my near-constant back pain, any massage is always warmly welcome!
- 1883 syrups – a great lychee flavoured syrup which would work well with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
- The Boysencider from Old Mout Cider – fresh and fruity, perfect for a warm summer’s day.
- Some Rekorderlig cider flavours which are hard to find in a usual liquor store. I ended up going home with a bottle each of: Winter Cider, Mango-Raspberry and Apple-Blackcurrant.
- A tasting of Bulleit Bourbon, followed by a shot of pickle juice and a dill pickle. It was surprisingly tasty, though it sounds strange!
Well done to the Bar Week organisers – there was a great range of exhibitors there, and a good schedule of special classes and tastings. I look forward to the Fashionable Drinks event tomorrow!