Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Flavour of Moscow comes to InterContinental Sydney

My experience with Russia and all things Russian is pretty much limited to a Moscow Mule. Which is an appropriate introduction to 'A Flavour of Moscow'; a Russian experience at the InterContinental Sydney which is on now until 31 January 2012.

Cortile Lounge, InterContinental Sydney, Macquarie Street, Sydney
Celebrating the opening of InterContinental Moscow Tverskaya, the five-star InterContinental Sydney hotel is adding a taste of Russia to the lobby bar cocktail menu and the Cafe Opera buffet.

At the airy, light-filled Cortile Lounge on the ground floor, Russian-inspired vodka based cocktails feature alongside mojitos; with a two-for-one offer ($25) on cocktails from 5.00-7.00pm every day.

Moscow Mule at the Cortile Lounge
The refreshing Moscow Mule is packed with ice, a 'black' vodka, lime and ginger beer and is the ultimate summer cocktail, which makes the Russian connection a little contradictory.

Russian Mule
A close relative, the Russian Mule, comes from the same line of vodka, lime and ginger beer with the addition of mint leaves, and has a lot more flavour for it.

From Russia With Love cocktail
The third Russian inspired cocktail is more aptly a dessert cocktail, featuring vodka, Chambord, cranberry juice and cream. Not exactly pretty unstirred, this rich and saccharine-sweet drink was an unexpected winning flavour combination.

We headed up to Cafe Opera on Level 1 via the antiquated elevator that was as much fun to operate as the cocktails. The regular buffet option at Cafe Opera has been given 'A Flavour of Moscow' in addition to the seafood and hot roasts, with lunch starting from $55 per person and dinner from $65 per person.

Fresh seafood at the Cafe Opera buffet
Considering the buffet features daily-changing fresh seafood such as Sydney rock oysters, tiger prawns, New Zealand mussels and spanner crab, the price isn't too much to ask.

The Russian inspired buffet additions are inspired by the InterContinental Moscow Tverskaya’s executive chef Olev Chesnokov, and change daily with the buffet.

Cold food options
There's also an exciting, seafood-heavy array of cold salads with more dressings than I probably knew existed, as well as sushi and cured seafoods and meat.

For the 'A Flavour of Moscow' feature, separate to the rest of the buffet and aside the bread served with Pepe Saya cultured butter, there were interesting and uncommon foods spread across a deli set-up

Smoked sprats
The prettily arranged headless smoked sprats were much like sardines with a divine smokiness that added a sweetness to the oily fish.

Russian stuffed egg
The stuffed eggs were irresistably beautiful, with a creamy egg yolk mixture piped in to refill emptied boiled egg white sections. There wasn't really anything interesting taste-wise, but the gorgeous piping made up for that.

Moscow salami
While I've yet to meet a salami that I don't like, I struggle to really tell the difference between, for example, Hungarian or various Italian salami. So, I can say I liked this salami just as much as I like other salamis - which is plenty, and particularly with cornichons.

Russian cheese
We couldn't get an identifying name for this Russian cow's milk cheese, but it was unlike any other I've tried. As salty as a salty feta cheese, but with a texture almost like margarine, this holey cheese was lovely spread on fresh, crusty white bread.

My buffet plate with 'A Flavour of Moscow'
And with the addition of Russian pickles - tomato, gherkin, celery and squash, all wonderfully fragrant with dill - this was 'A Flavour of Moscow'.

There was nothing scarily alien to me about the Russian food experience here, although I was hanging out for some blinis (about the only Russian food item I previously knew).

Seafood salads and cured meats
Of the rest of the Cafe Opera menu, we happily went to and fro to collect the likes of smoked salmon and a scallop salad from the cold salad buffet; the latter consisting of scallops, minimal vegetable and dressing.

Fresh seafood
I may have been seen at the fresh seafood buffet several times in the night, but I can't be blamed. Blame the oysters or me wanting to try fresh spanner crab, which was as much work as normal crab but unfortunately didn't have the sea-sweet flavour of mud crab or even blue swimmer crabs.

Sydney rock oysters
But the oysters, oh the oysters. Pretty much the best I've had all year, these Sydney rocks had it all going on. Impeccably fresh, plump and so very creamy, even the occasional bit of shell didn't deter me from heading back for more.

While I usually like a red wine vinegar dressing on my natural oysters, these needed nothing at all but a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. These oysters and a glass of Kilikanoon Vouvray, and all was right in the world.

Scallop salad (left) and crab salad (right)
The sheer quality of the buffet was impressive as it's obviously quality over quantity. The crab salad, for example, was predominantly picked crab and not much else. The seafood was super fresh and the Pepa Saya butter probably topped it all off.

Roast turkey (back), lamb skewers (back right), baked sweet potato (front)
and baked ham (front left)
In time for the festive season, the carvery featured both roast turkey and baked ham - both of which were done very well, full of flavour and moisture and irresistable a few days before Christmas.

Dessert buffet
By the time dessert was on my mind, I think I'd eaten more than my fair share of oysters and turkey, and couldn't really fathom anything more than a mouthful or four of ice cream from a self-serve section.

The refrigerated dessert section looked like a sweet tooth's fantasy land, but for me it would have to be another visit's sweet ending. I was completely done, in my typical buffet style, and having had 'A Flavour of Moscow', would definitely be up for a visit to Russia to sample more of those pickles, smoked fish and vodka, of course.

Food, booze and shoes dined at the Cortile Lounge and Cafe Opera courtesy of InterContinental Sydney, with thanks to Starr Public Relations. 

Available exclusively to InterContinental Sydney’s exclusive Club lounge guests, a complimentary menu of Russian vodkas and vodka-based cocktails will be served at twilight, accompanied by Russian canapés, such as Ukranian potato pancake, salmon kulebiaka and Crimean mussel pilaf. Guests can also enjoy a selection of Russian a la carte dishes while overlooking the harbour and Botanic Gardens.

Cafe Opera on Urbanspoon


missklicious said...

The cocktails look yummy!

Anonymous said...

Wowwww! I love Russian food, but where was the herring and caviar?!? Hahah

Anonymous said...

Great looking food! The only dishes my Russian friend has fed me are Russian salad and borscht :/

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I love Russian food-I grew up eating it as my best friend in High School was Russian so I love the flavours. The Russian cheese however is a new one to me!

Dee @ foodinhand said...

The sprats look interesting. I'd be really interested in a proper Russian restaurant actually. I never seem to be able to eat my money's worth at buffets.

Shanshan said...

The desserts looks so good and so does that Russian Cocktail!! I am really really hungry now hehehe

Tina said...

Hi missklicious - From Russia With Love was a sweet tooth's dream...Q

Hi minibites - I was looking for blinis; but I think they change the menu every day.

Hi lateraleating - I've yet to try borscht. Might be time for a full Russian experience son.

Hi Lorraine - Lucky you. The cheese was definitely a winner.

Hi Dee - Yes, but there was endless fresh seafood too!

Hi Shanshan - So many desserts, I can't believe I was too full to even look at them...

Ashley said...

I wasn't sure what to think of when you mentioned Russian food, but it seems interesting and the desserts! So many! I must try them myself


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