Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Jamie's Italian. My Tale of a Culinary Crush

I'm going to let you guys in on a little secret...for most of my life Iv'e had a crush. I haven't ever met this person, but since the age of seven I have spent countless hours staring starry-eyed at the television screen watching him grind spices, create sumptuous dinner parties and just generally been wooed by his blond hair, boyish good looks and cute British accent. Thats right, my biggest celebrity crush is Jamie Oliver. While most young girls I knew dreamt about the Backstreet Boys or Ryan from 'The OC', I was left to coo over the adorable young Essex chef by myself. So while on holiday in Sydney I couldn't pass up the opportunity to get a little closer to my dear Oliver by visiting his renowned restaurant 'Jamie's Italian'.

Situated on bustling Pitt Street (which I had no idea actually existed until three days ago), Jamie's Italian seems to epitomise everything that Jamie Oliver preaches about food. Upon walking in, I was immediately drawn to the long narrow restaurant, complete with leather couches winding their way along the walls, exposed brick and giant dried meats, chills and boxes of fresh vegetables dotted artfully around the kitchen counters. The menu is simple, fresh and fun, just as all of Jamie's (we're totally on a first name basis now) food seems to be. Everything seemed so appetising in fact, that it took the waitress three tries before she could even get a drink order out of us, which by the way, was a deliciously fresh blubbery and basil cocktail and a wonderfully strong mojito. For entrées the menu is split into sections; a variety of antipastos are presented on rustic wooden boards and are comprised of treats like San Daniele prosciutto, Wagyu bresaola, finocchio and artisanal mortadella. There is a selection of bruschetta and Italian inspired nibbles such as the baked field mushroom with smoked mozzarella and crispy bread. The 'pasta and risotto' section kicks of the main courses with offerings like Spring pea and mint ravioli with broad beans, asparagus, ricotta and lemon, and the wild rabbit ragu tagliolini, before you head into the territory of Jamie's Black Angus beef burger or grilled chicken in a chilli, olive and caper sauce.

To kick off our feast, we selected the crispy tomato and mozzarella arancini accompanied by a fiery arrabbiata sauce with pickled chills. They were crisp, rich, had the perfect amount of spice and are the tastiest balls Iv'e ever put in my mouth. We also selected the light and fresh crab and avocado bruschetta with blue swimmer crab. It was a beautifully textural dish with the addition of crispy apple, smooth avocado mousse and was wonderfully zingy with chilli, lemon and mint. For mains my holiday homie picked the winner with the black angel spaghettini with scallops, chilli, garlic, anchovies and capers. The whole dish was bursting with a rich flavour that perfectly coated every strand of the pasta. My choice was the baked king salmon with balsamic roasted vegetables and whipped lemony ricotta - delicious and perfectly cooked, though towards the end the flavours fell a little flat. Afterwards we were too stuffed to even contemplate desserts though I wish I'd had room for the tiramisu with orange mascapone or the 'epic brownie' with amaretto ice-cream.

So that was that. My one night love affair with Jamie Oliver. And yes, I would definitely call it love. From the wonderfully genuine food to the great service it was everything I hoped for and more. I'm going to be a bit creepy and say that this whole dinning experience has bought me a little bit closer to my culinary crush...

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