So, I am back in Sydney from whirlwind trip to Europe! You can see my review of the flight home here.
Everything has been pretty busy since I got back, but I get some time to celebrate my Birthday. I make my way to the restaurant for dinner and this is the view next to the restaurant! My recent trip took me to London, Monte Carlo, Nice, Cannes, Antwerp and Brugge but despite their wonder and beauty, you’ll have to agree Sydney is such a beautiful city…
The View and Restaurant
Aria Restaurant is one of my favourite restaurants in Sydney, I came here last year for my birthday and had a marvelous time working my way through the tasting menu with matched wines and I decide to make this the venue for my birthday this year. The view of Opera House and rest of the harbour is amazing from my table….
I start off with a lovely citrus cured salmon with roe on a crispy cracker with some light creme. The saltiness of the roe with their rich “taste of the sea” flavour pairs beautifully with soft salmon with its oily taste and the hint of citrus. The overall softness of the dish is then contrasted with the texture of the crispy cracker.
When it comes to the wine, I discuss my options with the sommelier (who is amazing!!!) and I am leaning toward the Chianti, but I also spot a lovely rare (for Australia) from the Basilicata region. He encourages the choice noting its characteristics and the fact I can always order a Chianti elsewhere.
D’Angelo Aglianico Del Vulture (2010) Basilicata
This is a full-bodied red wine from the Basilicata region of southern Italy. It is made from Aglianico grapes from the soil near the Monte Vulture, an old volcano of northern Basilicata. The grapes thrive on the soil deposits from ancient lava flows from the region.
The deep purple plum colour of the wine gazes at me from the decanter. I gaze back enchanted by it, momentarily forgetting the views of the harbour. The thick skins of the grapes result in a heavily deep perfumed wine. When the wine leaves the decanter into my glass the aromatic notes of berries and herbs just overflow creating a “Alice in Wonderland” style experience. As the wine continues to breathe oxygen further notes of deep smokiness fill the air.
The wine is medium aged (4 years) with a mix of the youthful tannins, acidity and concentration of dark-fruit (cherry and plums) flavours. As the the wine spends time in the decanter I notice more smoky, earthy and spice flavours which illustrates the complexity, balance and depth of this full bodied wine.
It is such a rich deep earthy drinking experience…
The dish introduces itself with the crispy chicken skin, with the distinct poultry oils from the skin forming a silky smooth tasting experience. This followed by the the mixture of the juicy roast chicken meat paired with the rich pungent truffles which adds a layer of decadence to the dish.
The richness of the dish is continued with the potato puree which has streaks of rich Comte cheese which displays a strong character with light sweetness. The potato has this buttery, creamy taste with a light granular texture to round out the dish. It such as South of France dish! I drift back into the dreams on my time in Nice and gaze longingly out the window searching for the rocks and deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea. Alas I only have the lights of the Bridge and beautiful Sydney Harbour to console me.
Cervena Venison Fillet and Crépinette with Japanese Pumpkin, Red Witlof, Black Peper and Riberry Sauce
The succulent venison retains its flavoursome juices with its rich gamey flavour providing the perfect tasting experience. As is traditionally paired with venison, there is the sweetness of riberry to extenuate the flavour of the venison and the sweet creamy beautiful Japanese pumpkin puree. Some crunchy texture is introduced with pumpkin seeds and the crunchy red witlof which also adds a light bitter flavour to contrast with the sweetness of the dish.
Then there is the crépinette – a rich fatty sausage style patty. The soft mince in the crépinette is in stark contrast to the firmness of the steak. It just oozes juices and has this rich buttery fat in the casing which provides for some richness to offset the sweetness of the dish. It is such an enjoyable tasting experience.
Strawberry Crumble Soufflé with Rubarb Gelato
Then we move onto dessert…. I just love the soufflé at Aria… in fact I just love soufflés full stop, so that’s my choice for dessert.
Now I actually didn’t tell Aria it was my birthday when I made the booking, I just happened to mention it to the host after I was seated. For a lovely touch they dress the soufflé with a Happy Birthday Message and Candle… such a nice thought. The waitress even starts a little happy birthday melody with a beautiful smile to match… I just think its little touches like this that make all the difference in dining.
This dish is interesting, there is the biscuity (not sure if that a word) crumble which give this rich doughy taste in the souffle along with the strong rich fruitiness of the strawberries. The batter of fluffy egg whites is light and just disintegrates on your tongue if you hold it there long enough to deliver a light sugar boost.
The inside of the souffle is contrasted by the and crispy sugary surface. There is a lovely contrast of temperatures with the rich creamy fruity rhubarb gelato pairing with the warmth of the souffle.
Coffee and Petit fours
A beautiful set of Petit fours are brought out to accompany a little hit… which I hope to offset the wine. There is a rich creamy chocolate truffle, a berry crumble tart and some nutty pralines mixed with chocolate which just does the trick.
It feels great to be back in Sydney and to celebrate my Birthday at one of favourite restaurants…. Thank You Aria!