Monday, April 29, 2013

Eat, Share, Celebrate at Xanthi Bar & Restaurant

In case you don't already know,the Dining Precinct on Level 6 of Sydney's Westfield plays host to some exciting new restaurants. 

Xanthi Bar & Restaurant sits perched overlooking the Market Street side of the building, and after securing their first chefs hat for the 2013 edition of the Good Food Guide, Xanthi has proven they are among Sydney's best.

On this evening, GirlFriday and I have arrived for the first of a series of themed events titled Eat, Share, Celebrate to be held at Xanthi designed to celebrate the many different facets of Greek cuisine.

Tonight's event is presented by owner and chef at Xanthi, David Tsirekas and Greek wine guru and owner of Melbourne’s favourite Epocha restaurant, Angie Giannakodakis, with several courses by Epocha chef Michael Bolam. Also joining us is Eleni Apostolidou from Château Nico Lazaridi Winery, located in Drama in northeastern Greece. 

A delicious 7 course menu awaits with each course matched with one of Nico Lazaridi's award winning wines.

After a brief introduction to the key players our first course arrives compliments of chef Michael Bolam. Paired with a lovely glass of white, Chateau Nico Lazaridi. Referred to as their flagship wine, it boasts three different grape varieties and is incredibly light, refreshing and neither too sweet nor too dry, compliments the delicate flavours of the octopus.

Octopus Carpaccio, Salami, White Anchovy, Apple & Mint. 

Fresh and light, this dish was perfectly executed. The octopus is tender and the saltiness of the anchovy and salami are balanced by the freshness of lemon zest, slivers of apple and herbs. 

Next, we are introduced to our second wine - The Magic Mountain Sauvingnon Blanc - a little drier than the last and definitely more complex in terms of acidic structure,with just a hint of passionfruit.

Fig salad, Manouri, Baby Rocket, Candied Almonds Honey Balsamic

This dish fulfils all the requirements of my perfect salad - Sweet plump figs, crisp peppery rocket, a generous serving of the most amazing creamy feta-like cheese, crunchy caramelised almonds and a delicious honey balsamic dressing. I could eat this salad every day. This is the first time I have tried manouri - a semi-soft cheese that looks very much like feta but is less harsh on the palate and is incredibly creamy and moreish.

Veal Sweetbreads, White Onion Puree, Sage & Burnt Butter

Perfectly cooked and tender, the sweetbreads are complimented by the most amazing creamy sweet onion puree, crispy sage,burnt butter and slivered almonds. I have to stop myself from the embarrassment of asking for a whole bowl of onion puree and a lump of bread. This stuff is SO good. 

This course is complimented by a glass of David's favourite from the collection - the Perpetuus Semillion which we are told is aged for 8 months in acacia barrels which is rare for a Greek wine. A drier white, this one has hints of honey and acacia. It is a complex white which lingers sour on the palate. 

Kakavia, Lobster tail, King Prawns Calamari, Mussels Bottarga

There is a little pause before our next course arrives and before it does we are introduced to the first of our red varieties. 

The Magic Mountain Cabernet Blend featuring 50% Cabernet Sauvingnon and 50% Cabernet Franc. It's a fairly rich red, with a nice complexity and ripe tannins. I am a little surprised by this choice given that the paired dish is one of seafood. That said, it works fairly well.

Kakavia is known as the 'fisherman's soup' and this one appears to be a modern delicate version. A lovely rich tomato broth plays host to tender pieces of lobster tail, king prawns, calamari and mussels. The seafood is cooked perfectly and is fresh and tender. The dish is served only slightly warm and I would have preferred mine much hotter.

Pigeon - Seared Breast, Confit Leg, Celeriac & Mushroom Croustilliant, Silverbeet

The pigeon is served two ways - the seared breast left slightly pink and the confit leg which is crispy and rich. The highlight of this dish however is the celeriac and mushroom crousilliant - a crispy paper-thin cigar like tube filled with celeriac and mushroom. The silverbeet is cooked until just al dente and provides a lovely fresh element to the dish.

Served with a glass of the Black Sheep Syrah - A dry red, aged in French Oak for at least 6 months. A very well rounded red with intense licorice and vanilla aromas.

Lamb : Two Ways. Spitroast Texel Lamb, Tzatziki Tomato Spanish Onion & 
Lamb Skaras Lemon Potatoes, Baby Green Beans.

The makings of our delicious lamb dish
A chef prepares the lamb dish
Lamb Skaras pictured left 
Despite the fact that we are starting to feel rather full by this stage this next dish is definitely a standout dish. Both lamb elements are delicious but we are really impressed by the Lamb Skaras served with lemon potatoes and baby green beans. The lamb is melt in the mouth tender and juicy and has been perfectly seasoned. 

A bowl of this please. I need a bowl.

Paired with a glass of the Perpetuus Sangiovese, which we are told is aged in French Oak barrels for 16-18 months and is cellared for 18 months prior to being released. Despite it's strong body, it is gentle on the palate and matches the lamb very well.

Lesvian Delight – 
Liquorice Parfait & 
Chilled Galaktoboureko 

Well hello delicious Galaktoboureko
For our final dish, we are greeted by the Lesvian Delight - A duo dessert plate. Liquorice parfait topped with pineapple fennel sorbet and liquorice tuile is refreshing and light and the second element is the chilled Galaktoboureko - a baked filo and vanilla custard slice served with berries and almond praline. Of the two I prefer the Galaktoboureko - rich custard pastries get me every time. 

Dessert comes paired with a glass of the Melissourgos - a naturally sweet red dessert style wine with light notes of chocolate, herbs and coffee. Smooth and velvety it is the perfect way to the finish the evening.

To find out more about Xanthi's Eat,Share,Celebrate series contact the Xanthi or check out their website listed below.

Xanthi Bar & Restaurant
Level 6, Westfield Sydney
Cnr Pitt Street Mall & Market Street, City
Open Mon-Sat for Lunch and Dinner
Sundays 11-8
Bookings 9232-8535

Chateau Nico Lazaridi Winery

Epocha Melbourne

The Food Mentalist and Girlfriday dined as guests of Xanthi

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cider Sunday - Warming Mulled Cider

The weather appears to have set in here in Sydney and from what I am hearing - in other places both north and south of the state. The cooler weather provides the perfect introduction to some great warming cider recipes. Mulled wine is one of my all time favourite things during the cooler months and this apple cider version speaks for itself.

Mulled Cider

Photo: Martha Stewart Living

3 cups apple cider ( Use a traditional 'real' cider with a nice sweet profile)
2 cups dry red wine
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 cinnamon quills
2 cloves ( optional)
1 orange (sliced)
1 medium apple (sliced 1/4 inch thick)
Combine apple cider, wine, maple syrup, peppercorns, cloves, orange and apple(s) in a medium saucepan. Gently simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Serve warm, in mugs.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cider Sunday w/ Jason from Cider Insider

This week's Cider Sunday post come to you from Jason who runs Cider Insider , a website dedicated to all things cider. More importantly though, you can purchase some great Australian brands via his website. If you are after something from further afield Jason also has that covered with a selection of international ciders available for purchase. 
Choosing a quality cider can often be a little confusing especially if you have just started drinking cider. Today, Jason has put together a fantastic guide to help educate us about 'real' cider.
Enjoy x
My name is Jason, founder of Cider Insider (

1. What are real, hand-crafted or traditional ciders?

Firstly, if we are talking real, real ciders are only made with real apples or pears.

These ciders have no sugars, preservatives, sweeteners or concentrates added.

2. What about the popularity of flavoured ciders? How are they made?

Ciders with strawberries, berries, blackcurrant, ginger or any other named fruit/veg (non-apple/pear), are called flavoured ciders.

Some flavoured ciders use real fruit and others have added sugars, preservatives, sweeteners and concentrates to enhance the taste.

3. Are there benefits to real cider?

Yes. Real cider is gluten free and healthier with less calories than the sugar type ciders.

Put simply, real fruit is used.
4. What are the different styles of cider?

Dry Cider: Have an attractive and diverse taste and smell, and can be spicy.

Medium Cider: Is the most common form of Australian cider. Not too dry and not too sweet.

Sweet Cider: It’s sweet. Say no more.

Sparkling Cider: French call this type of cider “Methode Champenoise”. It’s sparkling, and a substitute for champagne. St Ronan’s Cider put their sparkling through a 6-month fermentation process. Real cider made the authentic French way.

Scrumpy Cider: Cloudy coloured cider. Goes through a slow fermentation process.
 5. Can you recommend a good cider?
Apple Ciders
Pear Ciders (aka Perry)

6. What is the best type of climate for making cider?

Cold climates are best for making cider, especially for apple and pear ciders, such as Batlow, NSW; Orange, NSW; Yarra Valley, Victoria;

Picturesque Valley, Tasmania; and Adelaide Hills, South Australia. In Australia, the harvest time is between February and April.

7. Where can I get some real cider?

A good way is find these cider producers on twitter and facebook. We can also offer you these ciders for purchase online at Cider Insider.

Jason @ Cider Insider

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Cider Sunday - Spiced Cider Poached Pears

As a child I often enjoyed poached fruit with custard or ice cream for dessert when I visited my nan. Rhubarb was a firm favourite, but then I have never been overly fussy when it comes to dessert. If it's sweet I'll eat it. 

Pears are currently in season so they are perfect for this recipe. In terms of nutrition they are low GI, packed with fibre, and can help lower cholesterol.

This week's Cider Sunday features a super easy recipe using flavoured cider. Now you can use any cider you wish for this recipe just make sure it has a decent amount of sugar so you don't have to add any extra. 

Spiced Cider Poached Pears 
An Original Recipe by The Food Mentalist
Serves 4

2 pears ( Packham or Bosc) 
250ml of cider ( I used Three Oaks Apple Cider w/ Cinnamon & Vanilla)
1 vanilla bean ( scraped)
2 cloves ( optional)

Peel, core and slice the pears into quarters and place in a saucepan. Top with cider and add the vanilla bean and cloves. Make a cartouche ( see video below) and place on top of fruit. Bring to a simmer over a low heat and cook for about 60 minutes or until the fruit is tender when pressed with a knife.

Enjoy served with a little of the cider poaching liquid, warm custard, yogurt or ice cream.