Dear Reader, at the moment I am writing to you from my suite at the InterContinental Hotel in Sydney having retired to my room for my final course of a five course cheese dinner.
During the year the InterContinental Hotel in Sydney holds monthly dinners celebrating certain foods. Last year I tried A Taste of Truffles while this month is a celebration of all things local cheese. Diners don't need to book the dinners ahead of time and can order the menu when they sit down.
Held at Cafe Opera, the buffet restaurant on the first floor I must admit that the plates of buffet food surrounding us do take away from the a la carte experience. You can also choose to dine in one of the smaller rooms. The menu details the dishes but it would have been good to have the names of the cheese suppliers on the menu in the same way that the wine is featured as it is a cheese dinner.
Chef Julien Pouteau
Within 10 minutes of sitting down, Nick banters with the waitress who jokingly warns him, "No sneaking off to the buffet," to which he counters, "Are you going to spank me?" Poor girl, we had better tip her well...Bread arrives and it is served with Pepe Saya butter served in a carved out stone.
Beetroot cured trout served with Logan Vintage "M" Cuvee
The InterContinental Chef Julien Pouteau hails from Brittany in France and arrived in Australia three and a half years ago. He comes out with the first dish: a vivid purple beetroot cured trout with Binnorie Dairy fromage frais, chives and a square of pickled cucumber. The sweet meringue based biscuit is filled with the fromage frais and gives the savoury chives a sweet contrast while the beetroot's natural sweetness gives the trout a sweet earthiness.
Jannei Goat milk Pudding served wtih Polin & Polin John Rook's Rose
The next course is a Jannei goat milk pudding. Chef Julien explains that Autumn is a great time to be using goat's milk and it's served here as a light and fluffy cloud layer on top of a dark, crunchy texture layer of buckwheat, brioche, sultanas and caramelised turnip. To the side are young pine needles like casuarina that are crunchy and are there to provide additional texture and crunch. And whatever you do, don't eat the moss!
Buttermilk Roasted Barossa Chicken served with Montrose Stony Creek Chardonnay
My favourite savoury dish is the beautifully tender buttermilk roasted Barossa chicken. It is served with a medley of pine, king oyster and morel mushrooms, potato maxim cylinders and a divine Pyengana cheddar emulsion. The light as air cheddar emulsion is added to the plate at the table using a cream whipper. It adds a nice amount of savoriness along with the mushrooms.
Baked Reblechon (The Mountain Man) served with Ross Hill Pinnacle Series Cabernet Sauvignon
"Now we're getting serious," Chef Julien says. The cheese course before the dessert is made using L'artisan "The Mountain Man" cheese baked until runny and served in wax paper. It is paired with a jelly centered grilled fig, walnuts, a crunchy baton of walnut and fig bread.
We retire to our room on the 28th floor of the hotel. It's a magnificent and generously portioned North-East corner room with expansive views of the harbour. This is where we will have our dessert. You can of course have it in the restaurant but with such a nice suite it seems silly to not spend time in it.
The luxury suite's views are so close to the harbour outside that you almost feel like you can reach out and touch it. The sitting room has a modular lounge, work desk and large flat screen television. The mini bar is to the right and there's also a Nespresso machine, tea and coffee. A 250ml bottle of mineral water is $7 which is on the high side as is internet access which is $25 a day. A separate toilet and sink adjoins the sitting room.
The bedroom features a comfortable king sized bed with a selection of pillows available. The picture windows make the most of the view and a lounge sits by the window. There's plenty of cupboard space and these hold the slippers and robes.
The marble bathroom has a two person spa bath. Earlier that day, I tipped the canister of bath salts in and within five minutes, a hot relaxing bath was ready. There are plenty of amenities and body products are by Agragria.
Canapes at the Club InterContinental
The best perk of having a club room is access to the club InterContinental lounge where the best spot is on the outside balcony looking down on the harbour below. Between 5-7pm every day is "Twilight" where there are complimentary wines, soft drinks and canapes.
But back to dessert. There's a knock on the door and Mr NQN answers the door while Nick sits on the lounge with a pillow covering his stomach. Our desserts have arrived!
Brie Custard served with Small Acres Cyder Pommeau
The L'Artisan brie custard created by Head Pastry Chef Youssef Faderdour is nothing short of sublime. On the bottom of the copper pot lies a soft mixture of caramelised apple and on top of this is a silky smooth creamy vanilla cheesecake custard. The interplay of the apple and custard is divine and I just want to go slow with this to savour every bite. There is some biscuit at the bottom of the pot but this isn't even needed as the toffee macadamias add crunch and texture. There are two batons of sugar caramelised brioche fingers that are perfect for dipping in the custard.
The ice cream is a unique caramelised Country Valley milk ice cream, the milk originating from Picton, NSW. To produce this ice cream, they cook down 10 litres of milk down to 2 litres in a similar way to dulce de leche. Interestingly, no sugar is added to the milk but the colour and taste is unmistakably sweet.
"This is one of the best dessert this year" says Nick contentedly savouring each spoonful, lying back the pillow on his chest while he and Mr NQN watch the tennis from the lounge.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you like spending time in your hotel room?
NQN and Mr NQN stayed and dined as a guest of the InterContinental Sydney
117 Macquarie St, Sydney NSW 2000
Tel: +61 (02) 9253 9000
http://www.ihg.com/intercontinental/hotels/gb/en/sydney/sydha/hoteldetail A Taste of Cheese runs until April 30, 2014
5 courses $110 per person/$150 per person with matching wines
3 courses $80 per person/$100 per person with matching wines