I confess it has been too long since I last dined at the InterContinental Hotel Sydney.
When I receive an invitation to experience a ‘voyage of flavour’ – and the chance to spend a night amongst ‘stars’ sampling exciting cuisines from world renowned chefs as part of the Culinary Journey program – I quickly answer a resounding “yes”.
So it is, on a glorious mid-week evening I find myself dressed up and heading for the CBD (a time of day I am usually assisting with someones homework or dishing up a basic family meal). I ask my taxi driver to stop when we reach the Botanic Gardens, I want to walk and savour the twilight softening the sandstone facade of the iconic InterContinental Hotel Sydney.
Located on the edge of one of the city’s most glorious greenspace and merely a stroll to the shores of Sydney Harbour, the stunning 19th century architecture of this property is part of Sydney’s historic landscape – yet the hotel constantly reinvents itself.
Guest Chef for the evening is Dean Brettschneider, an award wining Pastissier with a global empire of artisan bakeries and a slew of Cookbooks under his belt, and now one of seven Culinary Ambassadors to the Hotel chain. It is clear we are in for a treat.
I meet my dining companions in the Cortile, an enclosed courtyard within the hotel’s ‘Treasury Building’. Hotel General Manager, Jorg Bockeler welcoming in inimitable fashion – before long I have a Gin & Tonic in one hand, a canapé in the other and I am ready to begin an evening of culinary discovery.
Earlier in the day I spied the Instagram feed of Dean Brettschneider (no I don’t spend all day on Social Media – just most of it…), with images of him preparing bread for the evening. I can hardly wait to be seated so I can sample the Polenta Boules and Beetroot & Thyme Baguettes. That they are served with Pepe Saya butter is almost beyond (I cannot urge you enough to seek out this dairy magnificence – it really does take butter to a whole new level). This ‘haute couture’ of butter tastes just as I remember it as a kid, growing up in New Zealand where they really know how to do dairy.
I sit up and take notice when GM. Jorg tells me that Pepe Saya is actually served throughout the hotel, including on room service trays. When a hotel cares enough about the butter, then service throughout the property will be reflected in this attention to detail.
Our meal begins with Australian Chef Ross Lusted’s Murray Cod, which will feature on the Culinary Journey program. We dine alfresco on the outside court of the Cafe Opera arcade (the hotel’s buffet restaurant).
The second main course (this is certainly an extravagant affair) – a melt in your mouth beef dish by Chef Takagi Kazuo – is served in the very stylish 117 Dining – we really are on a journey as each part of the meal takes us to a new location within the hotel. A genius idea.
The Urban Mum has a very sweet tooth, and so the ‘piece de resistance’ of the evening was always going to be the dessert. Prepared painstakingly by Chef Dean Brettscheider (take a look at the behind the scenes images, this is how a perfect pastry is formed…).
The setting for this course almost stole the show – the Club InterContinental Supper Club is located on the top floor of the hotel – breathtaking views stretch over the Botanic Gardens, across Sydney Harbour – to the twinkling lights of Manly. Access is available for Club InterContinental members, hotel guests, and other guests by-invitation-only – it is truly the most magnificent ‘bar’ I have visited in Sydney.
I have spoken before about how it is well worth staying a night in the hotel and paying for the Club facilities ; (shhh, don’t tell, I am going to treat The Husband for his birthday).
The evening finishes amongst the ‘stars’ with a photo on the balcony overlooking Sydney Harbour. I bid farewell before I turn into a pumpkin (The Urban Mum might enjoy glamour and luxury, however she still has to get up in the morning and get the kids ready for school)!
This promotion is going to feature heavily on my calendar over the next few months – The Urban Husband and I have a long standing Thursday night ‘date night’ arrangement – time to escape the kids and connect over a meal someone else has cooked.
From 17 August to 15 November 2015 – the InterContinental Hotels Group Culinary Journey will give you the opportunity to sample cuisines from each of the seven renowned Culinary Ambassadors at restaurants across the InterContinental brand (InterContinental, Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza Hotels) throughout Australia* – whilst I love to travel, I also adore being transported into foodie heaven in my own back yard.
A slew of the Chefs represented in this promotion have Michelin stars to their name, representing cuisines as diverse as Modern Australian, Indian, Chinese, Thai and of course from the ‘star’ of this evenings show – Bakery and Pastry. Partnering with wines from Penfolds and Wolf Blass to complete the gourmand experience.
Do you enjoy exploring new experiences in your home town?
I urge you to take some time out to sample the InterContinental Hotels Culinary Journey, I might even see you there!
* Culinary Journey is also featured in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
++ The Urban Mum was invited to participate in this evening as part of a Media Group – her meal was complimentary. She will however return under her own steam, especially for more of the desserts!