18 April 2011

Emirates Doncaster Day at Royal Randwick Racecourse (16 Apr 2011)

A day at the races in style

Thanks to Claire Surgeon from PPR for inviting me along to the Emirates Marquee as part of the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival. The large Spanish-themed marquee held tight under the torrential wet weather and arriving guests quickly filled up the umbrella stand to overflowing. I’m not a gambler due to knowing I won’t win, and my celebrity knowledge is quite pitiful, proven by the fact that I thought Kirk Pengilly from INXS was Aaron Harvie from MasterChef but my passion for food was fulfilled by the extensive menu of 23 canapés, dishes and desserts plus 7 tapas (which I unfortunately didn’t get to try) all designed by Culinary Edge catering.

Arriving to free flowing glasses of Moët champagne and cocktails of Passionfruit & Mint Mojito and Sangria are possibly a common sight for the celebrities and Emirates frequent flyer customers of this invite only event. An onslaught of delicious cold canapés included
melt-in-your-mouth Cherry Tomato, Fresh Basil & Mahon Empanadilla, platters of Freshly Shucked Sydney Rock Oysters and excellent quality Cooked King Prawns all deveined and ready to eat. I found the Smoked Cured Beef maybe a little dry on the almond wafer and the Chilled Almond Soup Muscat Grapes a little too unusual but rejoiced in the tasty Tarta of Figs, Manchego, Honey & Toasted Walnuts. Hot canapés included bite sized Snapper & Red Capsicum Croquettes and Dill Crumbed White Anchovy both cooked to a commendable crispness from the makeshift kitchen out back. Seared Sea Scallops with Fennel & Chilli were a good explosion of flavours and the BBQ Chicken Skewers were decently sized, tender and flavoursome.

Substantial dishes started with a tender Slow Cooked Roast Smoked Paprika Lamb Shoulder bursting with good flavour and Fresh King Crab Salad with a nice citrus zing in the dressing. I found the Coyne Bay Barramundi with Hot Garlic Sauce & Chilli Dressing lacked flavour for some reason but it was nicely presented. The Traditional Potato Tortilla was also presented well with some interesting ingredients — the addition of mint worked well for me. The charismatic Chef Miguel Maestre was in charge of the Classic Spanish Paella. Cries for desserts were heard around the marquee which were satisfied by the petit Cinnamon Dusted Churros cooked to a nice outer crispness while retaining some softness within. A decent heat kick was noticed in the Spiced Dark Mousse with Honey Comb & Strawberry Wafers possessing rich flavours. The Santiago Almond & Red Currant Tarts were an absolute winner served warm and topped with decadent lemon cream. Individual Baked Caramel Delight with Orange Caramel Syrup were silky smooth and satisfied the sugar lovers amongst the crowd.

The final stage of canapés appropriately named ‘The Soak’ consisted of small tender pieces of Calamari Fritos cooked with a light crisp batter. Veal Meat Balls were fairly good but I preferred the Party Steak & Mushroom Pies and Sausage rolls to satisfy my primal food urges. I missed out on seeing any of the Wild Mushroom & San Simon Croquettes and apparently the seven Tapas dishes were only served to those who sat at the white linen tables so I unfortunately didn’t see any of these. Live entertainment of flamenco dancers certainly kept the crowd entertained between races and the prevailing wet weather. Finishing at around 5.30 pm the heavens thankfully eased a bit for the countless number of race day attendees lining up for taxis and the free bus service for those heading back to Central Station.

PROS: Excellent variety of quality canapés and drinks, Checking out the fashion and celebrities, Live entertainment, Nice comfortable décor and seating for a marquee
CONS: Toilets were only accessible via wet weather outside, Incredibly long queues for taxis and buses after the event, Losing your money if you’re not a good gambler
MUST TRY: Finding the names of all the celebrities I took photos of to add as captions

Video highlights

The drinks
Moët & Chandon champagne

Passionfruit & Mint Mojito cocktail, Sangria

The table nibbles
Spiced nuts

The cold canapés
Cherry Tomato, Fresh Basil & Mahon Empanadilla

Freshly Shucked Sydney Rock Oysters served with lemon & lime wedges

Cooked King Prawns with Herb Aoili

Smoked Cured Beef on Almond & Queso Iberico Wafer with Tomato Fennel & Raisin Jam

Tarta of Figs, Manchego, Honey & Toasted Walnuts

Chilled Almond Soup Muscat Grapes

The hot canapés
Snapper & Red Capsicum Croquettes with Saffron Garlic Aioli

Dill Crumbed White Anchovy with Chilli & Oregano Salsa

Seared Sea Scallops with Fennel & Chilli served in Shell with Caper Breadcrumbs & Lemon Butter

BBQ Chicken Skewers Marinated with Paprika & Oregano & Lime Citrus Yoghurt

Substantial dishes
Slow Cooked Roast Smoked Paprika Lamb Shoulder with Potato Purée

Fresh King Crab Salad, Avocado, Citrus Salad & Gazpacho Dressing

Coyne Bay Barramundi with Hot Garlic Sauce & Chilli Dressing, Quinoa Grains & Sautéed Zucchini

Traditional Potato Tortilla with Artichoke and Salad of Broad Beans, Mint, Parsley & Shaved Murcia al Vino Lemon Dressing

Classic Spanish Paella: Sautéed Chicken with Garlic Prawns, Green Lip Mussels & Saffron Rice

Cinnamon Dusted Churros with Chocolate Dipping Sauce

Spiced Dark Mousse with Honey Comb & Strawberry Wafers

Santiago Almond & Red Currant Tarts, served with Lemon Cream

Baked Caramel Delight with Orange Caramel Syrup

'The Soak' dishes
Calamari Fritos with Lime Aioli & Shoestring Fries

Veal Meat Balls with Tomato & Olive Sauce

Party Steak & Mushroom Pies and Sausage rolls served with tomato sauce

The chefs
Chef Garan Groves in charge from Culinary Edge

Chef Miguel Maestre cooking up the paella

Invited Emirates guests
Sascha and Chef Miguel Maestre

Sammy Jakubiak (right) - My Kitchen Rules contestant

David Potter, Robyn Lucas - MiSociety

Claire Surgeon - PPR

Emma Jager

Hadnet Tesfai

Mel Cook (left)

Barry O'Farrell (left) - NSW Premier, Barry Brown (centre) - Emirates Vice President Australasia

Halcyon Powe (2nd from right), Mitch Furlong (far right)

Sally Fielke - CEO Australian Hotels Association, Barry O'Farrell - NSW Premier, Sally Edwards - GM Events NSW

Inside Emirates Marquee

Welcome drinks and Emirates hostess

Bar area

Betting desk

Balcony area

General seating and drinking area

Tapas seating area

Umbrella stand reaches capacity I think

View from Emirates marquee

Race time

Watching the races

Emirates balcony

Flamenco dancers

Flamenco guitarist

Emirates marquee by night

Race crowd

Rain rain go away

Two umbrellas are better than one?

Camera people


Time to go home

The taxi lineup

The bus lineup


OohLookBel said...

The Emirates marquee is like the Tardis (big inside). Beautiful photos of the beautiful people, though I only recognised a tenth of them!

Dolly said...

so lucky

mmmhh complimentary food :)

Tarta of Figs, Manchego, Honey & Toasted Walnuts looks awesome..

Tina@foodboozeshoes said...

You celeb snapper :) I missed the Empanadilla :(

Anonymous said...

I've never seen so many "Simon favourite" and "worth trying" dishes in one post! :)

sugarpuffi said...

looks like such an exciting day! good food, get to meet celebrities and horse racing!

chopinandmysaucepan said...

Moet and oysters! who cares who wins the race..

susan said...

I thought that was Ronan Keating in the first photo in the background. What a great assortment of food!

Simon Leong said...

hi bel, you recognised a lot more than me

hi dolly, i'm usually not a huge fan of the figs but these were especially good.

hi tina, i missed all the tapas :-( it was amazing how many people loved having their photo taken.

hi lateraleating, i think you're right. i guess that why this catering company has been doing this event for the past 11 years i believe. if i could afford these guys for a private event they'd certainly be on the short list — especially with those prawns.

hi sugarpuffi, i think those horses were partly swimming that day.

hi chopinandmysaucepan, good point. i didn't care myself about the races but I did learn it's easier to pick a winner when the track is wet.

hi susan, someone had to point him out to me so that's how bad i am with celebrity spotting. he liked making a bet though.

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