In case you didn't know, TGIF means thank god it's friday! And boy was I thanking everyone for the Friday I had, especially my uni (UTS aka the University of Technology Sydney). Why thank? Well, for starters Friday marked the beginning of my two week uni break, which was welcomed with open arms after a bout of assessments and exams over the past few weeks. Plus, this Friday was the night of the first official UTS union annual dinner. What has this dinner got to do with happiness? Well, my good friend Georgia is the President and founding member of the UTS Arts Collective (a network of arty minded folks learning, exploring, appreciating, creating and interacting with all things art, craft, media, and cooking), and being a union society we were invited to the dinner. She advertised that she had a plus one on facebook, and I of course leapt at the chance to dine and network at such an important calender event.
On the night of the event Georgia and I met outside the Jones St building, jumped in a lift up to the seventh floor (the roof top level) and walked into a cocktail and canapé oasis. After checking in we were greeted by professional hospitality staff bearing trays of beer, red wine, white wine, beer, Champagne, orange juice and Cosmopolitans! Naturally, I went for the Cosmo! There's nothing better than working a room lightly grasping the stem of a martini glass and letting the v-shaped cone bowl rest on your hand whilst sipping the cocktail concoction inside. The benefits of a martini glass are that by holding this wide stem one is able to keep the beverage it's initial chilled temperature, whilst the wide cone design allows for the drinker to enjoy the aroma of the cocktail. How fantastic! For those of you who aren't aware of what a cosmopolitan is, let me break it down here:
Traditionally a cosmo is
- Triple sec or Cointreau
- Cranberry Juice
- fresh-squeezed lime juice
All ingredients are shaken not stirred with ice, and then strained and poured into a Maritni glass. The cocktail is best served with a coin sized orange peel flamed on top of the surface of the drink. Other variations have it served with a lime wedge on the glass edge or a sugar rim.The cocktail gained huge popularity following it's frequent mention in the 1990s on Sex & the City. It has a lovely tart sweetness, bitterness and citrus notes, and as vodka is the strongest component, a good cosmo has a slight punch of vodka in the aftertaste. But it is generally easy and smooth to drink. A great staple at any bar, and is not a bad pre-dinner drink.
Canapés making their way around the room included scallops in a lime chilli oil - pleasing but slightly overcooked, mini mushroom pies - buttery, crisp and soft, little pepper met pies - flaky, thick pastry, soft gravy meat, and sweet bursts from the sweet chilli sauce, and oysters with salmon roe - divine, fresh, meaty oysters. The venue itself was charming. The perfect mix of casual, sophistication with wood-panelled areas, a wide bar, a large stone balcony with gas heaters, and plenty of space for mingling without stepping on other peoples toes.
Upon waltzing into the main function room, Georgia and I discovered we were to be dining alone on our table that evening. Most of the other tables were a mix of society groups, academics, union associates and alumni, whilst, there must have been some unable to attend leaving a blackhole at ours. Where one may have ordinarily cried out in despair, or moped in annoyance at this utter isolation, we were delighted at this opportunity to feast upon each option of the alternate drop. The function room was a wide room, with a standard cream wall colour and round tables spread about the room facing a centre platform for speeches. The room would have been a little boring if it wasn't for the sexy table decorations of large, cylindrical glass vases with floating red orchids atop pebbles and below a large semi circle red floating candle. These sat atop a mirrored tray which reflected the red on to the ceiling creating warmth and ambience in the room. Also, through the long windows at the front of the room the Anzac Bridge and surrounding apartments and buildings in Pyrmont could be glimpsed, their fairy lights flashing in the night.
|Barbequed duck salad with a caramel chilli dressing|
To the delight of two pairs of greedy eyes, eight plates arrived and were placed on the table. I began with the duck salad. The smoky, fatty duck strips with fresh mint, and shredded carrot rounded off with the sweet, spicy dressing, was a pleasurable mouthful of temperatures, textures and tastes.
Still sipping on my champagne I was also offered a glass of the Yarra Valley Point Noir Rosé to accompany the first course.
|Twice-baked goats' cheese souffle, asparagus and smoked salmon sauce|
The twice-baked goat's cheese souffle was soft and pleasing like a warm cheesy mousse, whilst the smoked salmon added a salty chewiness to the dish. The asparagus was ok, but seemed a little soft, possibly from over blanching. If they had a cleaner bite, it would have improved the dish, but the spears did help soak up the buttery salmon sauce.
|Roasted blue eye cod fillet, butterbean puree, chorizo sausage, king prawn, slowly roasted tomatoes, salsa verde|
The matching wine, a De Bortoli Deen Vat 7 Chardonnay, was a round drop with melon, peach and floral aromas. A strong contrast to the saltiness of the dish.
|Roasted lamb rack, pimento, pistou, charred zucchini, caramelised garlic and creamy polenta|
Before I even stuck my fork in, I was consuming the lamb rack with my eyes. That very red meant and soft cooked veggie stack looked good enough to eat. Alas, it was too good to be true. The lamb was quite dry, and nothing like that tender, melt in your mouth flakey sensation of a rare-ish roast. The vegetables lived up to expectations, soft and smoky with sweet garlic. The polenta added cream to the otherwise dry lamb.
The matching wine, a De Bortoli Gulf Station Cabernet Savignon was smooth, woody and full with tannins. A warming drop that made digesting the slightly dry lamb a bit easier.
More speeches were made and the guests table hopped more feverishly than before. The mad hatter's tea party eased as desserts began to flood the floor. It appeared the dream was over, our gig was up, as our table not only received enough desserts for it's inhabitants. Thankfully, our friend James' had been sitting at our table, do we scored an extra dessert.
|Fruit Pavlova, Tia Maria and chocolate custard with crushed amaretti biscuits|
|Chocolate mud cake with honeycomb ice cream and chocolate jelly|
The Dessert Wine that accompanied was a Deen Vat 5 Botryis Semillon. How my eyes lit up when I glanced the words, Botryis Semillon on the menu. That bittersweet drop, goes down like liquid honey. For some unknown reason, I was tortured as I watched trays of that liquid gold parade around, until I finally got a glass, after having to call over a waiter. Apart from that the waitstaff had been so attentive all night. The wine did not disappoint and those sweet fruity flavours, followed by a crisp acidity, left me in a very happy place. Botryis Semillon gets its concetrated sweetness from the "Nobel Rot", as the grapes develop fungus from certain conditions like moisture. The grapes are then drained of liquid leaving behind behind sweetness, fruit acidity and minerals.
Ending on a high note, the scheduled tea and mints were arrived, but in the place of mints there were moorish macarons. There were four flavours. The delicate morsels were soft and chewy, with a jammy filling, different to the the velvety cream filling of macarons such as Adriano Zumbo's.
In short a function at the Aerial Function Centre is one of sophistication, but is certainly relaxed enough for one to soak up it's many culinary delights and fresh city night air on the balcony.
Aerial Function Centre
Level 7, 235 Jones St (Building 10)
Ultimo NSW 2007.