This is what I call "Naked Chef"! It is all about being naked at Merivale in March. The chefs are going to prepare your food... "NAKED". I am dreaming a bit of Beyoncé action with their wobbly bare ass while whisking the eggs, peeling potatoes with only aprons on, shucking oysters and slicing sashimi with no clothes takes circumcision to a whole new level.
Then, I woke up, only realised that it is all just a dream of flashbacks from a good night at the March into Merivale launch party in Establishment with the brochures they handed out of naked chefs images obviously giving me a nightmare. Joke aside, those images are actually quite stunning, and very impressive. Unfortunately I can't find out who is the photographer assigned for the job, if anyone knows who the photographer is, please do let me know so I can credit him.
Me and Augustus Gloop had a good giggle flipping through the brochure last night, as they are so witty with props cleverly arranged to cover the private bits. This morning I flipped through the brochure again and saw something funky. Since I know you all love meatballs, so I thought I will scan the image and share with you guys. Can you see the "meatballs"? No, not the T-bone steak...
Of course the chefs are not naked at the launch party, they look absolutely professional as can be, ready to feed a pack of hungry people who are here for free food and free booze. The launch party is just a teaser where punters can sample some of the food from each of Merivale’s nine restaurants. What a great way to kick off the festival features a month of mouthwatering activities, especially the $33 dinner and lunch specials at all nine restaurants throughout the month of March.
I arrived early to avoid big crowd, but soon enough like a domino effect, a queue formed itself right behind me and Shez while we waiting outside to get in. Once we are inside, all foodbloggers dispersed rather quickly in all directions to tackle their own missions documenting the event, and found myself alone snapping photos away. It is absolutely chock-a-block, like in a war zone! I have to work fast, as the food tends to be gone in 5 seconds once it is placed at the counters. The "elbow nudging technique" do get me close to the counter numerous times to get some good shots of the food. But soon given up, and just enjoyed myself sampling as many food as I can.
Uccello steals the show with massive cured leg hams hanging down from the ceiling, and a lady maneuvering a heavy machine shaving prosciutto all night long, it attracts a big crowd gathering around the massive pig's head, tasting the prosciutto on san grissini and the porchetta with yummy crunchy crackling.
And on the other side, Mad Cow has fired up a BBQ and grilling some wagyu top sirloin steaks. The wagyu top sirloin steak with chimchurri is one of my favorite from the night, it is absolutely tender and juicy. I hang around there for quite some time and probably eaten a whole $10 worth of wagyu steaks. :P From the Mad Cow's kitchen also offering carcuterie which is game terrine, rabbit rilettes and chicken liver pate served on toasted brioche; and also Prawn cocktail with iceberg lettuce, tomato chilli jam served in a takeaway box.
Brace yourself into the centre of the room, which is also the most crowded area. At Est., the highly regarded restaurateur, Peter Doyle is working frantically behind the counter when a few hungry hogs simply grabbed the morsels off the tray while Doyle was still trying to plate them. Doyle simply shook his head and served the rest at the counter to those who wait. You would have thought Sydney is a big city and people would be bit more civilised.
Sashimi of aoraki salmon, cucumber, pink grapefruit, shiso, ponzu and white sesame oil morsels from Est. is seriously good. What a great combination of texture and flavour. But I absolutely love the second offering from Est. which is a Prawn and shellfish ravioli. The ravioli is one big mouthful of fresh prawn and shellfish, with a hint of lemongrass and saltness from the salmon roe.
I slowly squeezed myself to the side, that's where the big crowd is waiting for Chef Dan Hong at Lotus to serve up those perky chorizo and chimchurri with mint and artichoke puree burgers. I suddenly feel like in a refugee camp where everyone have their hands stretching out, fighting for a bag of rice or a bottle of water - I take my food, then squeeze my way out of the crowd to find a quiet corner so I can actually enjoy it. The chorizo with the chimchurri is delicious with a bit of kick, shame that the bun was bit stale and hard to bite through.
Let's move along to Ash St Cellar, where they are offering spoonful of kingfish ceviche with shaved fennel, dill and lime. This dish definitely has a zing to it with the combination of lime and the aniseed shaved fennel. That's the only dish I managed to score at Ash St Cellar, but looks like Simon was lucky enough to taste the Mini frangipane tart with freshly whipped cream.
Next stop, Bistro CBD which is actually the first counter I dropped by with the least crowd early in the evening. Huge piles of shucked oysters are plump and fresh served with golden shallot dressing. It soon runs out fast and chef Simun Dragicevich had to shuck one by one for those who wait patiently. Bistro CBD also offering Salmon gravalax on rye bread with dill mayonnaise and Grilled figs with St Agur. The smokey salmon pairs so well with the sweet dill mayo, but I absolutely adore the grilled fresh figs with cheese, the flavour is rich and intense.
And the last stop is the Japanese corner outside in the courtyard which I totally missed out on all the dishes by Teppanyaki, Sushi E and Sushi Choo. So you will have to visit these blogs to check out the food that I've missed out. Oh wait, I actually scored a Izakaya grilled chicken with white leek skewer on the way out, which I have no idea where it comes from. It is tasty nonetheless. :P
I think I definitely need to go back for the $33 lunch and dinner specials, so I can sit down and enjoy a proper meal and actually "taste" it without the mad rush. The "naked chef" brochure will keep me busy for a while with all the different menus on specials each week at different restaurants. Oh, the distracting brochure, poor Richard Johnson who only got a small potato to cover his bits holding up by Simun Dragicevich. The ego has totally deflated...