Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Quay, Sydney. BehomeforQuay

Let's call my blog BehomeforQuay, just for the purpose of this post. 

When I first came to Sydney in 2005 as an exchange student I asked a taxi driver to drop me off at Circular Quay. I had no idea that it should be pronounced like 'key'. Instead, I said "kuway". (with a very strong Dutch accent) "Could you please drop me off at Circular kuway". The taxi driver smiled politely at me and did not correct me. So I ended up making the same mistake again and again. Because nobody did! Ozzies are so polite! Fortunately, after a few weeks, someone finally told me it should be pronounced like 'key'. 

I remember the taxi driver dropping me off near the bus stops. I slowly walked towards the waterfront. And then I saw them. The Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. I was amazed. I could not move. Do you know that feeling when you have seen something on tv so many times, and then you are there. It's there, right in front of you. You are there. You can touch it. It is amazing! I felt so small. So excited. So amazed. 

I called my parents. "OMG, I am in front of the Harbour Bridge! I am standing in front of the Opera House!!" My parents were not impressed. "Ah, ok! Very good". I guess you cannot explain that feeling to someone who is not there at that moment. It is amazing, and I hope to be able to experience that feeling many more times.

After having lived for more than 5 years in Sydney, I am not so impressed and amazed anymore. I have taken the ferry to Kirribilli across the harbour countless times. On the way to work. On the way home. Every morning and every evening the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House were there. I have been in the Opera House. I have been on the harbour bridge. On top of the harbour bridge. On one side of the harbour bridge. On the other side of the harbour bridge. I ran on the harbour bridge. I stumbled on the harbour bridge (back to Kirribilli when I did not have money for a train or taxi). I have taken countless pictures of the opera house. I have seen two opera's in the opera house, one show, one concert. I met my boyfriend and the reason I stayed in Australia in front of the opera house, at the opera bar. 

Both the harbour bridge and the opera house have become a part of my life here in Sydney. 

However, there was one thing that I have been wanting to do for a very long time. I have read and heard so much about Quay, and about Peter Gilmore. He has been featured on Masterchef countless times. With his snow egg. THE snow egg. It seems like the first thing that people ask when they heard you have been to Quay is whether you have tried the snow egg? I HAD TO try the snow egg. And I did. I had to sit in that round room with Sydney's most amazing view of both the opera house and the harbour bridge. And I did. 

One thing about Quay which is amazing is the staff. Very friendly. Everything is so well organised. We were seated in the 'round room' with the pretty view. Yesss! 

We opted for the tasting menu with matching wines. We always choose matching wines. I love trying new wines and the stories by the sommelier. 

But the food. How was the food? 

Well, let me tell you....

Softwater Poached Quail, Takuan Pickles, Fermented Shiitake, Salted Egg Yolk, Smoked Parsnip, Kailan Blossoms

This dish was beautiful. The quail was soft and melted in your mouth. The pickles and the shiitake provided a nice contrast - a slight crunch. I could not really taste the salted egg yolk, but the smoked parsnip had a nice subtle taste. And then the kailan blossoms. Should I eat them? Should I leave them? Can you eat them? 

I ate them. And they tasted like... flower... 

Congee of Northern Australian Mud Crab, Fresh Palm Heart, Egg Yolk Emulsion

I have never had congee before. Do people eat this for breakfast? I had no idea what to expect. The congee was slightly salty and creamy. It was a bit of a combo between a soup and a sauce. The crab was soft and melted in your mouth as soon as you had a spoonful of it. The palm heart was nice and crispy. The yellow cream which was spread on top of the congee was the egg yolk emulsion which made it nice and creamy. 

Was I blown away by this dish? No. But I was not disappointed either. Perhaps I was not blown away because this was the first time I had congee and I had nothing to compare it to. MrBehomeforQuay loved it. 

Pork Belly Cooked Slowly in Salted Cultured Butter, Milk Curd, Roasted Koji, Kombu, Sesame, Smoked Pork Rib Broth

This dish is actually not on the tasting menu. The tasting menu dish was XO Sea with 5 sea textures. However, this dish had chilli in it. A lot of chilli according to MrBehomeforQuay. Spicy food doesn't agree with me. Which is really, really annoying. However, here it was no problem. I was actually really happy I was getting the pork belly instead. 

When the pork belly was served, the broth came in a teapot. Yes, that's right. A teapot. The waitstaff carefully added the broth and it smelled amazing. However, when I took my first bite, I noticed something crunchy. Which would have been fine if you can bite on it without it getting stuck between your teeth. I asume that was the roasted Koji. No idea what koji is. It tasted a bit like rice which has not been cooked at all, and then toasted.

The texture was actually not pleasant at all. The broth had a really nice subtle flavour to it, and the pork belly was nice, but the koji really ruined the dish for me. Not. Impressed. At. All. Actually I had to go and floss my teeth to get the bits of koji out. Annoying. 

Black Pudding, Walnut Floss, Brioche Cream, Green Walnuts, Raw Mushrooms

This was my favourite dish of the evening. The black pudding had such a nice flavour to it, and, just like some of the other dishes, melted in your mouth. The walnut floss was beautiful. The brioche cream was a nice sauce with a beautiful texture. I could have eaten a whole bowl of it. The raw mushrooms added that crunchy texture. YUM

Roasted Tasmanian Trumpeter (replaced with another fish), Native Coastal Greens, Hatsuka Radish, Smoked Oyster Cracklin

We were informed that the trumpeter was replaced by another fish. The fish had a nice and crispy skin. Probably the best crispy skin on fish I have ever had. I loved the coastal greens. Some of them were soft like seaweed. Some of them were crunchy and juicy. The radish was quite special. It had a very subtle fresh onion flavour.

But I don't like oyster. Not at all. And I don't like oyster crackling either (not that I ever had it before). But MrBehomeforQuay loved the oyster crackling. (He loves oysters too). 

Roasted Grass Fed Pure Angus, Mushrooms, Grains, Miso, Eggplant

By the time we got the angus I was stuffed. I was so full. But this dish looked so pretty. I had to devour the whole thing. I love beef. And this beef was cooked so well. I think that the eggplant was crunched up to give the dish some texture. The miso provided some flavour and saltiness to the dish. Pretty good...

Custard Apple Snow Egg

And then I got the snow egg. The famous snow egg. This snow egg is almost as famous as quay itself. You cannot go to quay without trying the snow egg. Every season the flavour changes. I love apple, so I was happy with this flavour.

The snow egg is served on a granita, and once you crack open the egg and the custard oozes out, the granita dilutes the custard. Which is a bit of a pity. In addition to this, because the granita is so cold, you cannot taste the custard as well. 

The outer layer was nice and sugary and that sound when you crack it open with a spoon. WOW! There is a layer of meringue on the outside of the custard. The flavour was really lovely. Not too strong. 

I would have loved this snow egg without the granita. I know the granita gives it the extra effect and makes it look beautiful, but it takes away from the actual snow egg.

Chocolate, Almond, Muscatel, Aloroso Caramel

This was so amazing! Dark chocolate! With sweet muscatel. Almost tasted like cherries. The chocolate was crunchy, and gooey, and the almond was covered in crunchy caramel. Amazing. Better than the snow egg? It depends what you prefer. If you are a chocaholic, you probably prefer this dessert. If you like fruit, you probably prefer the snow egg. 

Coffee, Tea, Quay Petit Fours

I was so stuffed. I could not move. I could not stand up. I almost felt sick! Now I understood why nobody else around us ordered the tasting menu. It was too much! Some people may say they had to go to Macca's after dinner because they were still so hungry. Not us. We had to go home and lie down. So full. Stuffed. 

This restaurant has an amazing view and the service is fantastic. Yes, we had to wait for a while before the butter was replaced, and no the place did not look as new and trendy as some of the other amazing restaurants. But you go for the view, right? And for the snow egg. 

I have to be honest, for the price you pay you do expect everything to be perfect. But there was one dish that I really did not like because one of the ingredients, and one dish which was pretty average. 

Am I too critical if I say that I had better? This is a restaurant you have to try. You may have a different experience. And if you are visiting Sydney and you have the money, this is a must do! 

But for me. I am going to be back to BehomeforT. Because I am not going to behomeforQuay.....

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