Food blogging comes at a cost. I now find myself always hunting for the next best (and affordable) meal around town, snapping happy looking dishes, tasting the fine food and sipping the sweet wine. This relentless pursuit of hedonism has made my waistline a little bigger, my dresses somewhat smaller and that sprint to the bus stop that much harder...
Just when I promised myself to eat more greens and spend more time on the treadmill while watching the Olympics, an invitation too tempting to resist came around. Comforting, hearty, flavourful, passionate... who else can create more hedonistic food than the Italians? We found out the right way at Spiedo Restaurant and Bar in Sydney Westfield.
Italians are famous for their pasta, pizza and rich tomato sauce. Gnocchi is an overlooked national treasure of Italia. So when Little Miss Piggy recommended that gnocchi is a highly recommended dish in Spiedo, I swiftly ordered handmade gnocchi with wild boar ragout and marjoram ($25). The texture was not too chewy, not too soft - just the right sort of consistency you crave in a home made gnocchi from a supremely experienced Italian nonna. The marjoram flavoured boar lifted the homemade gnocchi to an infinite level of fanciness. Be warned! This dish was very filling and could easily be shared by a duo.
Little Miss Piggy (aka the foodie Queen) ordered a low braised beef cheek with saffron risotto ($34). It's always easy to exaggerate the braised level of a dish but this dish was literally fall apart at the touch of the fork, melt in your mouth and marshmallow kind of soft. Slowly braised beef cheeks was definitely on top of the hedonistic foods in my books.
The Irish Princess ordered a crispy skin king salmon with braised lentils & spinach ($32). If you are interested in ordering this dish, make sure you let the chef know how you like your salmon. The salmon came out quite rare but they were more than happy to cater to customer preferences.
Truffled mashed potato ($9) - the most mind blowing dish of the night. As the name suggests, it's mashed potato with truffles. If mashed potato is the ultimate comfort food, then truffled mashed potato is the ultimate ultimate comfort food. The truffle taste lingered long after the buttery mashed potato passed through one's taste buds, oesophagus, stomach and intestines. I would go back there just to order this one dish.
Dessert time! We took our desserts seriously and enquired the waiter rigorously. 'What's barbajado?' 'What does tiramisu mean in English?' 'What's your favourite dessert on the menu?' 'What do you recommend?' 'Can I change the flavour of the gelato?' The waiter was very patient and explained all our questions with knowledge, opinion and an Italian accent (yes, the best part). Perfecto. The Irish Princess settled on Zuppa ingress, Little Miss Piggy chose chocolate barbajada with pistachio gelato and I bravely ordered the 'deconstructed lift-me-up' (all $14 each).
The chocolate barbajada is essentially a chocolate mousse. A little mishap occurred while the waiter attempted to carry 3 desserts at one time. The chocolate mousse wobbled and fell on the floor. Opps. Replacement came quickly and I was surprised at the intensity of the chocolate.
Zup ingress is a spongecake layered with chocolate & vanilla custard and topped meringue. A little too sweet - it was a pleasant dessert.
My Spiedo tiramisu is a deconstructed tiramisu. This dessert spelt out all the elements of the tiramisu individually on the dish. The coffee section was very strong and you will like it if you are a coffee fanatic. I wish I mixed through all the elements of the dessert earlier as I found that it tasted much better after stirring the elements together rather than tasting them individually. Overall, an innovative dessert.
If you like a dose of hedonism in your diet, perhaps hearty Italian comfort food is the perfect place to start. Don't worry, you can always work off your waistline tomorrow.