1 kit & kafoodle: Red Kite x UXC's EAT STREET at The Sofitel on Collins 2014

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Red Kite x UXC's EAT STREET at The Sofitel on Collins 2014

Welcome to our first joint post!

This event has been on our to-do list for some time, ever since we first heard of it through an acquaintance. Year after year, we somehow missed the opportunity to purchase our tickets and each time, we stared mournfully at people's photos and read their reviews with envy. This year, to not further disappoint ourselves, we kept a close eye on the interwebs and made a note in our diary - this had to happen...or else.

Eat Street is in its fifteenth year of raising much needed funds for the wonderful Red Kite charity, who devote their time to supporting children with cancer and their families from the moment of diagnosis, throughout treatment and helping in the community setting. Red Kite do an amazing job and create a very positive impact on the families whose lives they touch, it was a pleasure supporting such a wonderful organisation whilst eating to our heart's content. You can find out more about Red Kite here

The Da: Walking into Sofitel you were greeted by the tricolour of France; balloons and buntings placed everywhere and "French Elegance" themed decorations galore gazing down at you from upstairs in the ballroom. It looked pretty enticing so I ninja'd my way up the stairs for a better look, and managed to take photos of every room before the public rampaged through with their stomachs of devouring. 

The lighting was highly romantic and it took all my strength to not rush up to the beautifully displayed stalls and express my love of food.

What is a celebration of French elegance without CHEESE!

In the reception area, the silent auction items were placed on trestle tables ready to raise money for the very worthy Red Kite - a foundation which assists families in every feasible way as they face the heartbreak of a child diagnosed with cancer.

The items ranged from super stylish Hugo Boss leather handbags, to silver reserve seating to Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake's concerts plus after-party drinks to $500 at Golden Monkey. There were jewellery pieces and denim aprons, kinky lingerie vouchers and Wicked and Rocky Horror Show tickets (where you meet the cast!)

These lovely masks weren't that popular in the end unfortunately.

They also had many cute fundraising ideas such as this: purchasing a soft toy allowed you to receive a surprise gift corresponding to the number stuck onto the toy.

The round room up the stairs was lovely and snug (and smelt the most like cooking food) with a Moulin Rouge theme dominating the decor.

And now, onto the MAIN EVENT.

That Girl: I arrived close to the starting time, and we received our wristbands and stared around at our fellow diners. I had purposely skipped lunch earlier that day in order to sample as many offerings as humanly possible. One day, they will announce supreme galaxy ruler for the one who can eat their weight in food, and everyone else will be so sorry they called me greedy.

TG: As we happened upon these tasty delights at A La Folie at the start of the night, we decided to start with dessert - the alternative was to walk away and find savoury dishes, and when have we ever, rationally, walked away from food? The choux was nicely browned, with a delicate crust that contained flavourful creme pattiserie, and while small in size, each bite was unexpectedly moreish. The stall was also serving macarons, which we unfortunately did not try.
TD: The beautiful choux pastry affair had us returning for more throughout the night. We sampled the Raspberry, Mango/Passion, Salted Caramel, P125 Chocolate, Madagascar Vanilla and Pistachio - all of which were to die for.

TD: Ganache chocolate were just around the way, these guys have always known the key to smooth, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate pieces. My favourites were Kalamansi lime, asian spice, geranium and Melbourne honey.
TG: Chocolate is my vice. I have a very complicated relationship with chocolate, and it becomes more fraught with complexity the older I get and the slower my metabolism becomes. That said, the night was not one for starting a diet - tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it - because all my mistakes would be happening here. Kalamansi lime was a firm favourite, and I made several trips back throughout the night to reward myself with this tangy treat.

TG: The lovely lads at Le Petit Gateau had two treats to savour, the first of which was a salted caramel cup - unfortunately, we cannot recall too much about this one.
TD: I guess that says a lot...

TD: However, their raspberry lychee and coconut cake was delicate with distinct flavours all throughout the layers. I went back for seconds.
TG: This was a moist (a word a lot of people dislike, but nonetheless is a fine adjective for a cake) and creamy (again, not great connotations out of context) slab that worked on all levels. Delicious.

TD: The cool kids from Academy Sofitel had a burger treat and an Eaton Mess displayed in beautiful flower flutes. I loved this dessert, simple but packing a sweet toothed punch in every bite. The mini meringues added to decorate were a great visual flair, and tasted a treat too.
TG: These were probably my favourite dessert of the night, because I am easily won over by novelty, each and every time. Eton mess is always good fun, but throw in an eye-catching display and I am a child approaching a sugar high. I had two of these because they were just that damn fantastic. No. Shame.

TD: These pulled pork sliders with hot and sour salad were great, the pork patties were moist, with the relish of carrot, radish and coriander adding to the flavour storm.
TG: I shared this with The Da and the flavours were reminiscent of those now found in abundance across food trucks and fusion restaurants. Tasty, but nothing new.

TD: Saint Crispin's deconstructed "Lamington", fig leaf panna cotta, chocolate mouselline and raspberry was pretty neat. The lamington cake part was more solid than a traditional lamington, but brought a lovely buttery crumble to the jar. The raspberry was quite tart, but the chocolate bitterness smoothed out the flavours nicely.
TG: Being that the soft, light sponge is what I love most about a lamington, I had issue with the cake simply tasting like a butter cake, which I also found to be much too solid, even for a deconstruction.

TD: Estelle featured hand rolled macaroni with prawn bolognese, quite an interesting take on an italian dish and the flavours went together well.
TG: The prawns were firmer than I thought they would be for some reason, and made for a unique bolognese sauce, especially with the salmon roe on top. Not quite my bowl of pasta, but nicely constructed all the same.

TD: Their braised wagyu shin with soft polenta and parmesan; the polenta mash was divine, as was the thin gravy adding a depth to the perfectly cooked wagyu beef shins.
TG: This was comfort food raised to another level. Starchy, carb-filled mash-textured food and me get along like a house on fire, to say the least, and paired with the fall-apart beef, rich gravy and parmesan crumbs, it was like the food version of snuggling in bed on a rainy day - warm, satisfying and sleep-inducing.

TD: The compressed watermelon and black sesame tuna with ponzu dressing from Sails on the Bay was the perfect bite sized morsel, the only issue was it was over too quickly.
TG: I fed the majority of this to Om while he was waiting for his drink from Eau de Vie. Not too sure on the watermelon and tuna pairing, as the latter was already find on its own. The pairing of fruits and proteins has only worked magnificently for me once, and that was quail breasts with grapes and fried bread at MoVida. All other times, I feel like I've missed something in the flavour journey.

TD: Sails' raspberry and passionfruit pavé was probably my favourite cake of the night, the layers were so good - I knew I forgot to return for something!

TD: Fish was featured in most stalls; I wasn't complaining though, as the flavour mix and textures varied quite enormously throughout. This dish was Ezard's kingfish sashimi and it was delectable. Loved the rice crisp on top and there was just the perfect amount of soy sauce and wasabi hidden in the corners to bring out the full flavour of the raw kingfish.
TG: As The Da would attest, I've only just started to come into my raw palate and appreciate sashimi in the last few years. Some might say I trained myself to not gag at the texture, so that I would be able to one day dine at Tetsuya's, an experience The Da was forced to miss because of me on our Sydney trip a few years back, and an experience I can now say was one of my finest when I finished every morsel of their degustation last November. This kingfish was beautiful, delicate and well-balanced amongst the flavours. A win for Ezard.

TD: However their black forest cake felt somewhat lacking in cake; it tasted mostly like whipped cream and wasn't that impressive overall.
TG: And after the win comes a fail. This is akin to something you'd get at a run-of-the-mill cafe, complete with the strange taste of canned whipped cream. However, this dish continues Ezard's hit-and-miss record with me, where for every hit, they follow with a miss immediately after. Consistent, I guess?

TD: Union Food & Wine featured a very light dish, with perfectly confit Atlantic salmon, fennel puree cucumber, smoked yoghurt and puffed rice. The fennel puree was so nice, I wish I had enough room to re-eat this dish.
TG: This dish reminded me of something else, or perhaps these flavours have been combined again and again and I'm just getting confused between them all. The salmon confit was done very well, flaking apart in my mouth in a very satisfying way.
TD: Their dessert was a soft chocolate, spiced quiche, gingerbread and honeycomb which we missed out on.

TG: Not pictured, but Zaza's Cucina was offering bread and salamini, which didn't seem like much at first, but damn if that wasn't the most amazing cured meat product of ever. I had to go back for thirds, it was so tasty.

TD: This was a great little dish of Coda, Roasted yelllow duck curry, something mom could have cooked, but I wouldn't have considered it fine dining.
TG: This was moderately tasty, but was definitely something that could have been had at home. 

TD: These fried crispy prawn and tapioca betel leaf snacks were quite nice, but due to the mass production they weren't as hot or crispy as I'd hoped.
TG: I had one bite. It was enough.

TD: Nora Tart strikes again! They supplied this 70% dark chocolate, honey, salted caramelised b&w toasted sesame tart, and the vanilla spiced quince, citrus, caramel meringue tart below to pair with the two of the three cocktail concoctions on show from the industry's finest, Eau de Vie.

TG: These tarts were actually consumed the day after, so bearing in mind they'd been refrigerated for 24 hours beforehand, I eagerly got stuck into them. My preference was for the citrus and quince (quince may be my new favourite thing, after the epicness of baked quince in brioche puff pastry at Mr Hive dessert degustation) because tangy flavours are usually the best, and additionally, the honey flowing out of the chocolate tart made for a sticky, messy experience that wasn't worth it in taste. However, the pastry cases themselves, described as charcoal tarts, detracted from the overall flavour of both offerings, leaving an unwelcome chalkiness in the wake.

Eau de Vie's beautiful central ballroom stand

Patrick Tully from Eau de Vie lights things up a little!

TD: This was a very sweet caramel quinoa dessert created by the chefs from Eau de Vie to pair with their cocktails, overall it did not have enough dimension for my liking, though I had not taken it as intended with their drink.

TG: The Point's offering of yellow fin tuna, hollandaise and wasabi flying fish roe was underwhelming, given the restaurant's general reputation. I'm not a huge fan of wasabi but in this case, it at least gave the fish some much-needed flavour contrast.

TG: Their second dish was a rabbit pithivier and truffle sauce. Essentially, a rabbit pie with rich sauce. The pastry was beautifully crisp and buttery, and while I haven't eaten a whole lot of rabbit in this lifetime (in fact, never outside of Daylesford), this was hearty and filling.

TD: Allumi's yellowfin tuna, puffed wild rice, spring onion dressing and foi gras was very interesting. I had never tasted that combination of flavours together before and it was pleasantly oriental-inspired.

TD: Allumi followed up with another ingenious dessert, quince, yoghurt cream and chrysanthemum. Very easy to eat and enjoy! I will definitely be visiting their restaurant in the future.
TG: Oh, quince! I love you so. Weirdly enough, while I enjoy yoghurt to a degree, I almost never enjoy it as a flavour. Something about the sour tang makes me think the element it's flavouring has gone rancid. That said, the quince made the dish for me and I overlooked the yoghurt cream and enjoyed it overall. Someone needs to buy me a sackful of quinces.

TD: Cumulus Inc's Pigs head croquettes with sauce gribiche tasted very strong and gamey. I wanted to enjoy this, but the taste reminded my too much of dead pig.
TG: I did not like this. At all.

TG: This was a very creamy soup, that almost reminded me of an indulgent cream of mushroom or some sort of rich bisque. However, flavour-wise it was lacking somewhat, as I couldn't discern the crab at all and didn't finish my half.

TD: I expected a lot more from Huxtable, the filo log of lamb puttanesca with lemon yoghurt, and the mini XO bun of smoked Ora King Salmon were tasty, but also slightly dry and nothing like the juicy treats they produce in their restaurant.
TG: I agree on the dry sentiment - I would have gladly taken their regular XO bun with crab over this, and as for the lamb, it was more office party finger food than anything else.

TD: Le Grand Cirque's Saumon Mariné au Pastis (aniseed cured salmon, avocado purée, toasted brioche and caviar) was great, I went back for my own as it was so tasty, you can really appreciate the difference between cured and normal smoked salmon.
TG: This was fantastic! The avocado puree was refreshing and the salmon was melt-in-mouth delicious, and all together, I would eat a whole plate of this if available. It also reminded me of an entree I once had at the erstwhile PM24. One of the highlight dishes from a night of mostly great food.

TD: This was the best burger of the night. Petite brioche de cochon (little burger of pigs trotter patties, sauce gribiche). Juicy, tasty and leaves you wanting more.
TG: I second that, best burger of the night. A lovely patty, cushioned between pillows of brioche with just the right harmony of flavours throughout. Divine.

TG: Hands down my favourite offering of the night. Yes, I am a complete sucker, but I love fancied-up takeout food. It's why I love any burger that uses brioche buns. And this was Hellenic Republic's fine take on the souvlaki, in essence, an elevation of Jimmy Grants: a confit duck souvlaki, stuffed with hot salty chips and pull-apart duck in a warm, soft pita wrap. I loved this from beginning to end, and unashamedly finished mine and then The Da's also. So. Darn. Good.

TD: I definitely did not expect a stall of deliciously fresh oystersssssss - Clamm's Seafood had South Australian Coffin Bay oysters and Tasmanian East Coast Moulting Bay St Helen's oysters. The coffin bays were definitely more plump, but I did enjoy both x4 hehehehehe

TD: Eleonore's Chateau Yering Hotel had three dishes on their menu! We only just got there in time for their dessert of Caramel Cremeux: vanilla cheesecake, cinnamon crumble, apple. As far as deconstructed desserts went, this was pretty interesting. I really enjoyed the white crumble along the sides, and this dish certainly was not lacking texture.
TG: By this time, I was starting to look severely pregnant. The change to sweet was welcome, but also slightly disappointing, as we'd reached the point of the night where stalls had either run out of their first offerings (for those who didn't offer both at once) or had run out completely. Hence, more dishes were missed in this third room overall. This dessert was not outstanding in any way, but it was plated well, had interesting elements and came together nicely.
TD: Yering Hotel's savouries I sorely wished I'd tried were Yellow Fin Tuna: yuzu, sea vegetables, veal crackers; and Suckling Pig: apples rhubarb, miso, crisp onion.

TD: Pei Modern's chocolate tart, eucalyptus cream was strange. They definitely nailed the infusion of eucalyptus into their cream as it was incredibly strong like Vicks Vaporub. However it didn't stand out as a dessert for me.
TG:This was a strange take on the chocolate tart that didn't seem to work. The eucalyptus, not a flavour I associate with desserts, was overwhelming and did nothing to enhance the biscuit base nor the chocolate cream.

TD: Bottega had a very interesting House made nettle gnocchi with prawns and Jerusalem artichoke chips - I personally loved this one, it had such a strange texture and taste compared to previously more traditional gnocchi.
TG: I sampled some of The Da's and decided I like my gnocchi nettle-free, for future reference. 

TG: Neither The Da nor I sampled this Sicilian cannoloni with buffalo ricotta, chocolate and pistachio, although we had one in front of us for a while. The Da was too busy eating nettle gnocchi and I was too busy avoiding cheese, so Om made it disappear. His take? "It didn't wow me. You could get it as a bigger version in one of the Glen Waverley cafes."

TD: The Baths Middle Brighton featured a beautiful wild mushroom veloute, porcini and truffle and individual apple tart fine with chantilly cream. The mushroom soup was initially quite plain, a thin soup mixed with cream, however as I continued sipping, the flavour became quite enjoyable - perfect for a winter's night.

TD: I wasn't as impressed with The Bath's apple tart, I would have much preferred a thick crusted, suitably caramelised and sugared tarte tatin.
TG: Well and truly stuffed, I managed one bite of this tart, by this point, a tad soggy and sad. You can obtain a lot better elsewhere.

TD: We noticed The Calendar Cheese Company giving away gift bags with the delicious Le Conquerant French Beurre de Baratte Semi-Salted and Unsalted Butter. Advertised as butter made the traditional French way of churning in a baratte, we only expected the best. Check out our review to come!

TD: I also sampled a fair few of their soft cheeses - none of which particularly impressed me, except for perhaps the truffle layered brie.
TG: As for moi, I stayed far away from the cheese smells.

After gushing to friends and family about how exciting and worthwhile the night was, the group who will be attending with us next year will grow substantially. If you want a reminder about when to buy tickets (around April from the Sofitel or Red Kite website) leave a comment below, or subscribe/follow our blog for updates closer to the date!

  1. Save that stomach - skip lunch. Hell, skip breakfast! Just don't faint before dinner.
  2. Eat faster, The Da! But not so fast that you feel sick quicker. There is a fine balancing act to this, peoples.
  3. Find a good lighting area and stick to it
  4. Find the stalls who offer both a savoury and sweet dessert option and hit those first, we found we missed a few savoury dishes which ran out in the round room as we only get there later in the night. On that note, there was never a sense of rushing or fear that items were going to run out before you got there, after running for fifteen years, Eat Street definitely have it down to a fine art.
  5. Wear stretchy clothes, or be prepared to loosen belts
  6. Bring more cash in hand to donate to the raffle and fundraisers.

TL;DR We are making this a yearly tradition. See you next year!

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