Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hot in the city

There’s always something going on the CBD’s Martin Place these days – from charity fundraisers to seemingly random religious congregations to high end fashion shows. And then other days it’s just a wide, open, grey space for city workers to get their Vitamin D intake for a few precious minutes of the day. It’s not all that often it becomes an Italian trattoria.

Barilla Open-air Trattoria in Martin Place, Sydney
As part of the Sydney Italian Festival, pasta masters Barilla erected an open air trattoria – all blue and white – in the middle of Martin Place for two days (this Wednesday and Thursday just passed), offering a $10 meal deal to celebrate a not-so-well-publicised World Pasta Day.

Barilla lunch plate
The lunch menu included two variations of Barilla pasta, a San Pellegrino soft drink or water, a scoop of Pure Gelato, biscotti and a Lavazza coffee – not too bad for a mid-week lunch. Then there were also bonus grissini, or breadsticks, on the tables for all. It was as if Mamma was afraid we wouldn’t have enough to eat.

Fusilli with salmon and Pesto Genovese
The first pasta was listed as being “Barilla Lasagne” which it clearly wasn’t. Fusilli rather, I think, with tiny bits of cooked salmon through it as well as Barilla’s quite rich and salty Pesto Genovese. The pasta was al dente in a way that was extremely to the tooth – cooked through but could have used another minute, I think.

Casarrecce with egplant tomato, ricotta and grated salted ricotta
The other pasta was much more pleasant – a short scrolled pasta called casarecce. This was cooked nicely with a scrumptious sauce of eggplant, tomato and ricotta, topped off with more grated salted ricotta.

Salami, granda padano and provolone
At the front where cooking demonstrations were taking place, there were also samples of cheeses and salami from the Lombardy region. The salami was deliciously chewy and a lot more moist and chunky than your average supermarket variety. The crumbly grana padano was crumbly and intensely flavoured (I would have taken the entire wheel if I could), while I though the provolone was a little starchy, weirdly enough.

Pure Gelato hazelnut gelato
It turned out to be a decadent lunch ending with dessert of gelato. I'll always have a soft, melty spot in my heart for Pure Gelato, having spent a few years myself scooping the stuff. My favourite was always hazelnut: sweet and nutty, a classic Italian flavour (I also adored Boysenberry Cheesecake which is rather less classic).

Baiocchi biscuits
And if that wasn't a sweet enough ending, we also received packs of Italian biscuits of the Barilla owned Mulino Bianco brand, which was the same brand as the grissini. I actually remember this brand from when I was staying in a home in Italy: they had chocolate chip cookies which were deemed breakfast fare - I didn't argue with them.

These Baiocchi are wonderously crunchy yet short biscuits sandwiched with a hazelnut and chocolate cream filling, cute as a button and about the size of a large one.

Westfield Sydney from Pitt Street Mall
In other city news, the new Westfield Sydney opened its first phase today, with over new 100 stores for city dwellers to spend their dollars. While half the development still resembles a construction site and is not due to be completed until the second quarter of 2011, the first phase is here and now to cash in on the pre Christmas splurge (which mind you, is less than two months away).

Westfield Sydney - bottom up

Westfield Sydney - Level 3

Westfield Sydney - top down
It's seriously glam, a little too posh even with marble tiles, shiny silver and glass surfaces - and not too much of the maze like confusion that can be Westfield Bondi Junction. And there are a lot of shops already, many not yet open (such as the two storey Zara) - but just imagine when the whole complex is finished. It's going to be a serious retail behemoth that will probably incite unruly credit card behaviour.

Stores of interest on the retail front are the sprawling Gap store (with Gap Kids) and flagship Guess and Esprit stores, as well as Melbourne’s Tilkah accessories. If we’re a bit more posh, we’re excited about the petite Mulberry store and the classy Diane von Furstenberg and on the shoe front, Peep Toe Shoes is an exciting CBD addition (with some serious bling too).

Eat Deli & Kitchen, Level 5, Westfield Sydney

Charlie & Co Burgers, Level 5, Westfield Sydney

Cow hide seats at Charlie & Co Burgers -
you eat it, why not sit on it too?
Food options are definitely exciting too; notably Justin North’s (of Becasse, Etch and Plan B) burger venture Charlie & Co and Summit chef Michael Moore’s Eat, Deli & Kitchen for New York style sandwiches and hot roast rolls (anyone who watches The Travel Channel’s Man v Food will understand).

Top Juice - a good looking fruit/juice bar
There’s also the first retail setting for Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar, yet another city-based Guzman Y Gomez for awesome burritos, Le Pain Quotidien, yet another city-based Cupcake Bakery, fresh made gozleme at Dergah Grill, Taste Baguette, and the re-opening of Sky Phoenix for your CBD yum cha fix.

It's quite the other end of the spectrum from any Maccas involved food court, and it shows in the pricing. I tried not to have heart palpitations at the sight of $6 scones and $8 banana "macaroons" at, I think, Via del Corso - pretty but pretty pricey.

Westfield Sydney Castlereagh Street entrance
At first quick glance, I think congratulations are due to Westfield (and the millions of dollars they spent) on bringing the CBD back as a shopping destination. It seems the period of enduring construction dust through Pitt Street Mall was worth it in some way.

Looking forward to checking it out more thoroughly on Saturday, after the Sydney Food & Wine Fair in Hyde Park. Fingers are crossed for some nice weather.

5 comments:

john@heneedsfood said...

I walked past the pasta tent in Martin Place yesterday and had I not just had lunch I would have stopped in for a feed. Also went in to Westfield for a sticky beek. A huge improvement from what was there two years ago but to be honest, it's just another glossy shopping centre

Ms Darlinghurst said...

Great post! You just got me so excited about shopping...Oh dear! I haven't checked it out since the new stores opened. I really hope we get the Northern Hemisphere range from Zara and not that crappy embelished, fluro stuff they get in Europe. NY & London style all the way please!!

xxMs D

Tina said...

Hi John - Yeah, a bit of the 'same old' in terms of shops. Definitely glossy...

Hi MsD - I hear it's the Northern hemisphere Gap (so lots of coats, trenches etc.) Who knows for Zara...?

Gianna said...

what? there is no maccas at the new westfield??
lol, I dont know if Im more excited for the zara opening or trying the charlie and co burgers!

Thanks for the preview Tina, I am mentally preparing myself for the potential damage that this new mall will cause to my finances!

Tina said...

Hi Gianna - There isn't a Maccas in The Sydney Room, ie, the posh food court. There might be one in the other ground floor food court - which I didn't check out.

And I think a lot of people will be facing the same credit card fears... :)

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