It's that time of year again. Yes, is Sugar Hit time! Since we had so much fun last year, running amok in Sydney CBD trying to taste as many Sugar Hit as we could in one night, so I thought why not we do it again this year and let's get high on sugar?! Thanks to Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 to make one's crazy dream a reality, it happens all over again! The rules are simple - eat as many desserts as we could, then blog about it all within the 24 hours time frame. Crazy?! You betcha!
This time I've invited The Pom, Helen from Grab You Fork and Suze from ChocolateSuze to be the sugar fairies, my partners in crime. Helen had done this with me last year, so she is shock in disbelief when I told her that we are going to do it again this year. Since ChocolateSuze is notorious with her imbalance and sugar overload diet, so she is the perfect candidate but no one else for this inhumane challenge.
Our best record from last year is 5 restaurants within 2 hours, and it was an absolute torture. Hence, we decided to slow the pace down this year, and give ourselves enough time to really enjoy and appreciate the complexity of each dessert.
8:00pm - Grace Hotel
Our first Sugar Hit is at the Grace Hotel. It is a last minute decision, as we simply couldn't wait until 9pm to start our sugar marathon. The Sugar Hit event usually runs between 9 to 11pm, but this year there are a few exceptions, Perama's starts from 10pm to midnight for instance, and Grace Hotel also runs a little earlier from 8pm - 10pm I'm told when I called in to book a table.
We arrived at the restaurant right on time, and seems like I am the only person who reserved a table for the Sugar Hit. (Super keen or what?) Grace Hotel is offering a Tasting plate of Desserts from all four corners of the world. Someone on Twitter mentioned that the serving is huge and worth a try, but alas size doesn't always matter and it is the most disappointing Sugar Hit I've had to date.
The compilation of cakes and sweets on the plate indeed makes one gasp for air, but presentation wise is rather on the tacky side - Does it really need a chocolate sauce frame on the plate as a guideline for plating? Not to mention the whole dish looks rather messy and dirty with chocolate powder dusted all over.
Where to start is the question. I work my way up from the least favourite to saving the best for last, so rice pudding is the first pick. The overcooked sticky rice becomes a lump of dough, mushy and bland. The brulee tart is nothing but a custard tart without a toffee topping, bouncy with a gelatine based custard. Biscotti is crunchy but also rather soapy with too much baking soda in it. A petite pavlova is actually not so bad among them all, nice crumbly meringue and creamy custard inside. The colorful cubes of Turkish Delights are tasty but also hard and chewy like cheap jubes, although I am quite fond of the Persian floss on top. (I'm sure you get the idea by now that I really dislike the whole tasting plate) Then is the tiramisu, how disappointing to find that the cake is not made with mascarpone but greasy cream icing. I am so glad there is a scoop of refreshing mango sorbet to wash off all the disappointment.
Overall, the whole tasting plate seems like someone has been cutting corners and put it together cheaply. The Pom sums it all in two words - Michel's Patisserie. I concur. Helen and Suze think so too. (~End Rant~)
9:00pm - Glass Brasserie
We got off to a bad start, but that doesn't dampen our spirit for more sugar. Off to the second Sugar Hit we go at Glass Brasserie, located on the second level at Hilton Hotel. This is my first time visiting Glass Brasserie and I am totally in awe by the stunning interiors designed by world-renowned New York designer Tony Chi. Two massive featured glass walls housing thousands if not millions bottles of wines, act as dividers between the wine bar and the restaurant.
We are soon seated in the corner not far from the kitchen where all the action is. The service is rather a hit and miss tonight, as it takes quite some time for the waitress to come around to take our orders. Then another long wait for the food and drink to arrive. But the wait is definitely worthwhile.
The chocolate assiette is a decadent tasting plate focuses on chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. The presentation is simply elegant, love at first sight. I first try the Earl Grey tea ice cream which is very subtle in flavour, rolled in cookies and cream biscuit for that extra texture. It sits proudly on top of the white chocolate and pandan parfait which I absolutely adore. To the left, is the toasted marshmallow like a seared scallop on skewer clinging on top of a shotglass of raspberry bitter chocolate fondue. The smokey marshmallow brings a smile to my face but we all find the shotglass of chocolate fondue impractical and a challenge to eat it with a tablespoon that doesn't even fit. The chocolate fondant is rich and moist, although I found the taste and texture a little eggy. Nonetheless, the chocolate assiette has definitely made up the disappointment at previous venue. I think Suze and Helen agree with their comments below:
9:45pm - Azuma Kushiyaki
As soon as I saw the other foodbloggers talked about their Sugar Hit experience at Azuma Kushiyaki, I instantly mark this place down as my number one pick. The Azuma Kushiyaki is tucked away at the back of a mall hidden away from the public. But the location is obviously not an issue because even chef Tetsuya Wakuda often find himself dining at this restaurant where he declares the food here reminds him of Japan.
Helen and Suze have actually already been here for the Sugar Hit. Since they were so impressed with the desserts, they are more than happy to come along for the second tasting with me. The restaurant is absolutely buzzing with customers, some are here for dinner and others are like us looking for something sweet. The service is top notch here, the waitress is very attentive and helpful. The Sugar Hit menu are presented to us as soon as we sat down and explains to us what's on the menu. It is also the only restaurant where the waitress that actually cares and explains to us about the Brown Brothers dessert wine that pairs with our sweets. Then the moment that I've been waiting for has come...
The East Meets West dessert platter comes in a beautiful two tier bento box! With handle! Yes! Even the amount of cakes in each tray are very generous too. I start off with the shotglass of vanilla ice cream, which we're instructed to pour some of the Japanese brown sugar syrup and stir until well combined. The two grapes are slowly coated in sweet syrup as I slowly pouring it into the glass. The creamy vanilla ice cream and the sweet brown sugar syrup is a sinful combination. A sprinkle of Kinako soy powder adds the nutty texture, while two white mochi rice balls hidden beneath brings a chewy happiness.
There are also Japanese version of cat's tongue biscuits in the tray. The two brittle biscuits are very similar to Milano cookies, but interestingly infused with seaweed freckles which gives it a unique oriental flavour. I actually quite like it. Next I am onto the Vanilla Cheesecake, a gelatin based Japanese cheesecake which is surprisingly light and not overly sweet and still able to taste the milky cheese flavour in it. This cheesecake really brings back the memories from my last Japan trip, which we had one of the most amazing cheesecake I've ever tasted in Kobe.
The greentea rolled cake with chestnuts is probably my least favourite. I actually couldn't taste any of the matcha flavour in this cake which is also a little spongy for my liking. The icing inside gets a little heavy after a few spoonfuls with very few chestnuts bejeweled inside. I save the richest cake among them all for last, and the Belgian chocolate mousse is something that needs to be savour slowly. Mine has collapsed on the side a little due to its airy lightness, but its velvety smoothness is absolutely divine. The Pom declares that the chocolate mousse is the best of them all and happily eats it all in one go. I concur again.
And I think there are no objections from Suze and Helen either based on their positive comments below even though this is their second time here for the Sugar Hit:
I am also glad that we only did three Sugar Hits this year, because by the time we finished the third one, I am absolutely sugar overloaded and feeling a little sick in the stomach. I also found the tasting plates at certain restaurants are much bigger portion compare to those from last year. Although this year's effort is not as overwhelming as last year, we sure had a lot of fun going down the sugar lane and crawl our way back home.
Now, pass me that insulin!
Thanks to Foodbuzz once again to make this event a success.
Sugar Hits are on offer at selected hotels and restaurants every night in October as part of the Sydney International Food Festival. To avoid disappointment, bookings are essentials for all Sugar Hits. You can check out the full list of available Sugar Hits for 2009.
Also don't forget to enter A Taste of Peru competition and win a Hamper of Peruvian ingredients used by Chef Saravia!