October means for Monsieur Poisson and I what used to be known as Good Food Month. For the past couple of years revamped as Sydney International Food Festival, it remains our favourite way to indulge our sweet tooths in special Sugar Hit dessert menus and it also happens to be how we started dating. Our shared love of food is one of the things which brought us together and, well, when first dating you don’t have to worry about not having anything to say if you’re simultaneously stuffing your faces with food!
As per previous years, Sugar Hit desserts are offered at participating venues throughout October with a glass of dessert wine for $20 from 9-11pm. This year’s program sees the disappearance of quite a few hotels which have featured in the past, which is a shame because it’s always nice to sit in a hotel and indulge in the pretend notion that you’re away on holidays.
Worried about missing out, we jump in early this year and book last year’s two most popular venues – Glass Brasserie and Azuma Kushiyaki – as our starting point.
We are running half an hour late whilst trying to secure parking in the vicinity of Hilton Hotel in which Glass is located. Monsieur Poisson is getting irritated (something which almost never happens) and I decide to cancel the reservation out of courtesy and so as not to run late for our next stop at Azuma Kushiyaki. Of course as soon as I do this we all manage to find parking spaces and score a table at Glass post-cancellation. Such is the cruel conspiracy of nature.
Described simply as ‘Alcazar chocolate and coffee cake’, we are presented with a rich multilayered cake with texture somewhere between mud cake and fudge. The cake is sitting on a slick of melted chocolate – not chocolate sauce as per our initial impressions – with a small pile of pistachio crumbs at the opposite end of the rectangular plate. There is an after-note of bitterness which we attribute to the darkness of the chocolate rather than the coffee which is not very obvious at all. Paired with a slightly sticky Brown Brothers Cienna & Cabernet, you get a wonderful chocolate berry flavour – the husband likens the wine to an alcoholic Ribena! And for those shying away from alcohol, Glass will happily swap this for coffee, tea or hot chocolate.
Due to our delayed start at Glass, we call Azuma Kushiyaki to push back our reservation and are very kindly accommodated. Their Sugar Hit last year was booked out by mid-month and was extended to run into November on accord of its popularity. Sharing its name with last year’s Sugar Hit, the ‘East meets West – Dessert Tasting Plate’ is a neatly-presented affair comprised of several components.
Monsieur Poisson chooses the Brown Brothers Orange Muscat & Flora which has featured heavily in Sugar Hits past, while I go for a cleansing cup of green tea. There is also Hennessy XO on offer for those a little more hardcore, or perhaps with more refined tastes.
The dessert tasting plate is brought out in two stacked Japanese-style boxes. In one there is ‘Vanilla Panna Cotta with Strawberry Coulis’ and ‘Belgian Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberry Coulis centre & freeze-dried Raspberry Flakes’ in the other. I start with the smooth soft-set panna cotta flecked with the occasional vanilla seed with tart berry coulis on top – it reminds me of strawberries and cream but requires no chewing. I move onto the other box of goodies before finishing with the chocolate mousse which has a tiny hidden sponge and berry coulis centre, but the highlight for me is the fluffy berry mousse layer on top and the dried berry bits. And I’m not even a person who normally enjoys eating mousse!
The other box is a bit heavier with a ‘Green Tea Ganache Tart’, ‘Petit Almond Financier’, ‘Wasabi Ganache Tart’ and ‘macaroon’ [sic]. The flavours of the macarons change daily and are decorated with different smiley face expressions – a cute Japanese touch to your dessert. There is only one macaron per dessert plate but we receive two flavours between us – orange with an orange zesty filling, and coconut (I think) with a yuzu-like centre. These and the financier are polished off quite easily while the tarts have me defeated. I was going into sugar overload by this point and with both tarts being crust heavy, although a buttery crumbly one at that, it means there is more shortbread-like pastry than filling. The matcha tart is obvious in flavour while the wasabi ganache has us divided – at least three of us can’t taste the wasabi and I was really hoping for an after-kick as you do with chilli chocolate.
Overall a fun and very sugar-filled evening, but I’m afraid attempting two Sugar Hits is no longer recommended for this small Asian female!
Level 2, Hilton Hotel, 488 George St, Sydney NSW
Tel: (02) 9265 6068
Ground floor of Regent Place, 501 George St, Sydney NSW
Tel: (02) 9267 7775