Awards Dinner Event at Doltone House Hyde Park

Our company had a table at the Cancer Institute NSW’s 2015 Premier’s Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research (“Cancer NSW Awards”) dinner held at the Doltone House, Hyde Park tonight. We dolled ourselves up after work (which for me really just meant I slipped on a dress), brought our partners along, and gradually regrouped at the function where excellence and innovation in cancer research was celebrated. We all know, however, that there was only one thing I was really after tonight: the food (sorry, you genuinely excellent and innovative cancer research people).

Before the awards night officially began, cocktail canapes were served around the dimly lit ballroom where professionals professionally mingled. Tonight, the canapes menu was rather Asian-inspired, with items such as the very soft and sweet mini barbecue pork buns, prawn dumplings with soy sauce that was too salty, and my favourite bite-sized smoked salmon cream cheese pikelets. No pictures of the canapes; we had also unfortunately and inadvertently formed a closed circle that didn’t invite many canapes waiters.

Park, August 2015: Bread
Doltone House Hyde Park, August 2015: Bread

There were many famous faces, including the witty and hilarious master of ceremonies Adam Spencer, whom I admittedly hadn’t heard of because I live under a rock, and other big names from the health field. We helped ourselves to the soft crusty bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip on the table. After the first couple of awards, entrees were served. The awards presentation was viewable from pretty much all angles because it was cast on the many large wall-mounted TV screens.

Doltone House Hyde Park, August 2015: Prawn Cocktail (entree)
Doltone House Hyde Park, August 2015: Prawn Cocktail (entree)

The great thing about bringing and sitting next to a partner to events like this? The opportunity to choose my dish! We worked out early on who would get which plate from the menu. For the entrees it was an easy decision. Richard got the prawn cocktail because he loves prawn, and I’m certainly not going to complain about my perfectly cooked, flavoursome herb-rolled lamb back strap.

Park, August 2015: Lamb Back Strap (entree)
Park, August 2015: Lamb Back Strap (entree)

For the main, I picked the chicken breast wrapped in prosciutto served with polenta, while Richard had the other, the slow cooked beef cheeks with creamed potatoes.

Park, August 2015: Chicken Breast Wrapped in Prosciutto (main)
Park, August 2015: Chicken Breast Wrapped in Prosciutto (main)

The only thing I remembered about my chicken breast in prosciutto was how ridiculously salty the accompanying polenta was. I finished the meat and the buttered spinach, but just couldn’t take another bite of the cornmeal.

Park, August 2015: Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks (main)
Park, August 2015: Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks (main)

Richard’s slow-cooked beef cheeks was definitely the far better choice. It’s succulent and tender and oh my god Richard you have a slow cooker at home we have to start using it and attempt to reproduce this dish, right now!

Professional manners, professional manners…

The night was overrunning a little by this stage, but there’s dessert to make up for it. They were the passionfruit cheesecake, or the Belgium chocolate fondant.

Park, August 2015: Passionfruit Cheese Cake (dessert)
Park, August 2015: Passionfruit Cheese Cake (dessert)

Another wrong decision on my part for picking the passionfruit cheesecake with berry jam and meringue. Underneath the adorably round cheesecake was a delicately presented meringue that I’ve never been a huge fan of (my fault), which was sickly sweet (not my fault) and despite being crispy, was quite hard to eat without it attempting to fly off in the opposite direction (not sure if my fault). I saw several from other tables leave their meringue on their plate.

Park, August 2015: Belgium Chocolate Fondant (dessert)
Park, August 2015: Belgium Chocolate Fondant (dessert)

The chocolate fondant with orange bitter semifreddo, which I got to try because Richard performed his boyfriend duty and let me have a good chunk of it, was once again superior and the word “indulgent” comes to mind. Still too sweet for my liking, but that’s most definitely just me.

Overall, the award dinner’s serving size was very decent compared to other functions I’ve attended, but I found the food to be generally over-seasoned. But of course the awards night was all about the achievements of the various experts in the field. Congratulations to all the awards winners and nominees for all their accomplishments and contribution to the community!

Doltone House Hyde Park

Address 3/181 Elizabeth St, Sydney NSW 2000 Australia
Speciality / Cuisine Functions and events
Other Notes Attended as a work function

Food and Catering at Pullman Cairns International

We stayed at the Pullman Cairns International Hotel for the duration of my half business half pleasure work play trip in Cairns, and for the week we had various foods from the hotel restaurant and catering, starting every day with a delicious breakfast at the buffet!

Buffet Breakfast

I absolutely loved the breakfast buffet, and so when we extended our stay, we got breakfast with our room extension as well. Most breakfast items you could think of are available here, including even Chinese congee and Japanese miso soup.

There is an egg station in the middle where a staff helps cook eggs to your liking. I didn’t try that because there’s often a queue, and I was quite happy with their buffet egg options — fried available on all days and scrambled in different texture on different days.

Conference Catering

We had the hotel catering for the conference, and the food quality was exceptional. There were different foods on the three days for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea, with hot foods, cold foods, finger foods, desserts, fruits, and some vegetarian and gluten free options available.

The only annoying thing was how efficient they were at clearing everything as soon as another session of talks started. What were we the exhibitors meant to eat and drink when we actually had free time? But seriously, best conference food ever.

Conference Dinners (Reception and Gala)

We had a light, buffet style reception dinner on the first night by the pooldeck. There were salads, 5 or 6 hot dishes such as rump steak (perfect pink), sausages and potatoes, and desserts (panna cotta, chocolate mousse cake, lemon curd tart and mini pavlova) that even appealed to someone without a sweet tooth like me. No pictures because it was quite dark at the event, and I didn’t want to risk dropping my phone into the pool.

The conference dinner in the Grand Ballroom on the Saturday night was $135 per person, and most conference delegates, sponsors and guests attended the event. The food quality was decent, but the quantity simply couldn’t possibly satisfy me. There was also live band entertainment that also wasn’t my thing (wrong era, wrong genre, volume too high). I guess this dinner was more about the social than the meal itself.

Overall, I’m very happy with the food at the Pullman Cairns International Hotel. It’s definitely a choice if you want to impress and for the most part had made work more pleasant for me.

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Moim Japanese Kitchen, Kirrawee

Moim Kitchen in Kirrawee offers predominantly Japanese foods such as sushi, sashimi and udon, but also other Asian dishes such as Korean bulgogi and bibimbap, and Chinese-inspired sweet and sour chicken. We had a 7:30 pm booking for our catch-up dinner, with two vegetarians at our table of eight!

We were unfortunate enough tonight to be seated in the back function room next to a table of a dozen happy, loud and tipsy ladies, and later a table in the other direction of a group celebrating a birthday. The noise level was quite awful for the large part of the night, but we’re here for the food as much as the catching up. No? Just me? tongue

Our table got the Moim Banquet A ($35 per person), customised to feed the vegetarians, and Richard and I decided to be uncooperative and opted out of it. Did I mention that half our table also arrived late? That, set menu deviations, and a quarter of the table not even interested in it. Sounds like the perfect setup for unhappy staff.

Dishes from the banquet gradually appeared in the order of the menu (which I didn’t take many pictures of because I didn’t want to be too disruptive), and I waited and waited for my sushi platter to show up. Richard got his chicken katsu rolls and karaage udon first.

Moim Japanese Kitchen: Chicken Katsu Rolls
Moim Japanese Kitchen: Chicken Katsu Rolls ($8.80)

Hmm, not the most visually appealing sushi rolls, also a little small in size. The udon with the 3 pieces of chicken karaage smelt so good, though.

Moim Japanese Kitchen: Karaage Chicken Udon
Moim Japanese Kitchen: Karaage Chicken Udon ($13.80)

I was getting quite impatient, but my platter finally arrived about an hour after order. The Sushi & Sashimi Combo 2 ($41.80) has the following items:

  • 4 oysters
  • a dozen slices of various sashimi (6 slices of salmon, 3 tuna, 3 kingfish)
  • 3 fresh nigiri (1 salmon, 1 tuna, 1 kingfish)
  • 6 aburi salmon nigiri
  • 8 unnamed maki (“sushiroll”)
Moim Japanese Kitchen: Sushi & Sashimi Combo 2
Moim Japanese Kitchen: Sushi & Sashimi Combo 2 ($41.80)

The Combo 2 platter, along with the junior Combo 1 ($23.80), are the only menu items that offer traditional nigiri. While the raw seafood tasted fresh and the aburi salmon super delicious, I didn’t really like the mysterious sushi rolls with the salad filling (which I later identified to be the “Kirrawee” rolls on the menu — probably). There’s nothing inherently wrong with the rolls apart from its messier appearance; it’s just not the type of sushi I would normally order. I wish Moim offered independent fresh nigiri items on the menu.

There was plenty of food to go around (or the shameless gimme some of those food vibes that I broadcast worked), so I got to try a few main dishes from the Moim Banquet A.

Moim Japanese Kitchen: Mixed BBQ
Moim Japanese Kitchen: Mixed BBQ (part of Banquet A)

Barbecued chicken, beef (bulgogi) and pork belly! The Mixed BBQ plate could probably have been substituted for the vegetable grill, but I was glad they kept the meat version. My favourite was the well-marinated chicken. To quote one of the fellow meateaters: “I like the taste of death.” tongue

Moim Japanese Kitchen: Chicken Shabu Shabu
Moim Japanese Kitchen: Chicken Shabu Shabu (part of Banquet A)

This arrived as the last big dish before dessert! I thought shabu shabu was always thinly sliced beef, but we had the chicken variation tonight. The pot has a cellophane noodle base with a lot of vegetables and cooked chicken sitting on top. Got to love a hearty pot of fresh vegetables on the stove! (I might have finished most of it.)

Moim Japanese Kitchen: Spring Rolls
Moim Japanese Kitchen: Spring Rolls (complimentary; $4 otherwise)

If starting late and customising the banquet menu weren’t enough to upset the staff, we didn’t realise we were massively overstaying until one of them told us that they in fact closed at 10 pm, 40 minutes ago! On our way out, the staff were actually still smiling and thanked us for dining there.

How well a non-vegetarian restaurant cater for vegans and vegetarians had never been something I paid much attention to, and I was quite impressed with how Moim juggled everything. Despite the largely positive experience, I don’t quite see myself returning for the sushi. Maybe to try the bibimbap?

Moim Japanese Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Wedding Event at the Tea Room Gunners Barracks, Mosman

The season of overeating was enhanced by a gorgeous wedding event in between! The venue was the Tea Room at Gunners Barracks, Mosman, with an absolutely stunning view.

Tea Room Gunners Barrack: Afternoon View
Tea Room Gunners Barrack: Afternoon View

After the brief ceremony and group photos, various canapes were served at the balcony. Everyone remarked how good they were even after the second and third rounds of the same dish.

Dinner was lamb for the men, and chicken for the ladies. There was also a super creamy cauliflower with cheese and broccolini for the table to share.

Tea Room Gunners Barrack: Dinner
Tea Room Gunners Barrack: Dinner

Bite-sized desserts weren’t served at the table but in the courtyard where we witnessed the couple’s first dance. It was a beautiful night for stargazing as well, only less so because I got bitten by sandflies in 6 places as soon as I got out.

Tea Room Gunners Barrack: Sunset View
Tea Room Gunners Barrack: Sunset View

Excellent venue choice, and congratulations again to the couple!

Tea Room Gunners' Barracks on Urbanspoon

Set Lunch at Papi Chulo, Manly

The season of overeating continues! Following our tongue

We got the 2 pm table, but arrived early and were seated at the bar at first. We casually noted that the staff made a distinction between patrons on their first visits and repeats. It was our first, which might have explained our nice table on the side overlooking the busy harbour once the table was ready and we were properly seated.

Full gallery of our cocktails and set menu at Papi Chulo:

We got the set menu for $65 per person. The starters were pea guacamole with tortilla chips, kingfish ceviche tostada, roast cauliflower, smoked hot wings (yum!), and jumbo king prawns. Everything on the set menu was to be shared.

Papi Chulo: BBQ Platter
Papi Chulo: BBQ Platter (smoked lamb ribs, wagyu brisket, pulled pork, pork belly, soft bread)

But of course the thing I had been waiting for was the main barbecue platter with lamb ribs, wagyu brisket, pulled pork, and pork belly! My favourite from the platter was the leaner pulled pork shoulder; the rest of the meat literally had more fat than meat on them and was quickly devoured. We ate one bread (meant for the pulled pork) from the platter out of politeness.

Papi Chulo: Mango Surprise
Papi Chulo: #Chrishogarth Mango Surprise

It wasn’t over yet; there’s dessert! The warm chocolate chip cookie with butterscotch sauce and vanilla malt ice-cream was too sweet for my liking (I don’t have a sweet tooth), but I quite enjoyed the #Chrishogarth Mango Surprise. I don’t know who #Chrishogarth was and why his parents were cruel enough to put a hash in his name, but the dessert had the perfect mango and coconut flavour combination, and that I approve. I thought it was a bit awkward for the five of us to share four plates of dessert with ice-cream atop, though.

The set menu was good value for $65 a head and allowed us to try a little bit of everything. I’m not desperate for a return, but if artery-clogging super fatty barbecue meat is your thing, I would recommend Papi Chulo.

Papi Chulo on Urbanspoon