Wednesday, December 10, 2008

North Bondi Gitalian...

One of the best things I have discovered in my short career as a food blogger, is that once word gets around and people start to enjoy what you do, they sort of start to, well,...respect you. Can you imagine it? Very strange, indeed. Well, if any of you are at risk of putting me up on the proverbial pedestal, this post should restore me in your eyes as one of the last remaining, truly great idiots of our time. It was suggested to me by Miss Rebecca Eggers that a cake + the knife club should be started, what a great idea I thought! I lost no time inviting every man and his hungry dog to North Bondi Italian for the inaugural convening of this most gluttonous little enterprise. It was a lovely group of good and new friends who converged at this beach side bastion of Bondi dining to kick off the club. We had an amazing night, laughter, drinking, all the usual variables. We tried some sharp little dishes, quirky and saucy, it was blog gold waiting to happen...and then I, accidentally of course, deleted all the pictures on a little spontaneous bout of desktop spring cleaning...Motherf.... fdhdfhdafhdfvdzhdajhgjkhewq.

Alas, times are hard, people, and the state of financial affairs is not conducive to another stint at this place any time soon, so, the illustrations for this piece had to be salvaged from facebook uploads. Good old facebook, is there nothing you can't do? Most of the actual shots of the food got trashed, so the stars of the show are, unfortunately, going to be conspicuously absent. That being the case, it's time to go a tad John Lennon on you...imagine! I am going to ask you to really help me out here and dig deep into your dreaming minds to conjure up in mental images what I can not offer you in photographic ones. You're a smart, sexy readership, I have faith in you to not only move mountains, but to picture them as well! I will be extra descriptive, i'll use all the words and colours and senses I can come up with, i'll be gentle, i'll be slow, between my mouth and your mind, we'll get there in the end... 

You know my opinion on Italian food isn't very gratifying, so it was going to take a lot to get me excited. Sometimes a great dining experience starts with your waiter. Wait staff, in general, fall into two classes: those who are sharp, on the ball and spilling out witty rejoinders to meet your equally witty banter, and those for whom the spilling out is limited to icy/hot beverages, all over you and your fancy pants. Craig was the former, I liked him right away. He made us feel comfortable and at home and had no hesitation, upon being asked, in sharing his favourites from a rather exstensive and peculiar little thing of a menu. I am surprised by how little people seem to trust the staff when they go to new places, it's usually a good idea to ask what's recommended or really popular, it encourages you to be a bit more ambitious and try things you otherwise wouldn't, and when you've got a big group that's agreed to share, your bets are so sweetly hedged!

The one food shot I do have is of a very impressive little starter: the arancini, delectable balls of crumbed spinach risotto goodness. A timid bite into a crispy shell unveils a steaming and soft ball of wonderfully intense flavour, both deep and rich. These were so good that despite being a party of 9 with a serving of only 4, I managed, through very underhanded and subtle table tactics, to procure two all for myself: beware, the sharing machinations of Amanda! I could've mooched food for Russia during the Cold War. Upon Craig's suggestion, the dish line up went like this: Eggplant parmigiana, parmesan crusted milk fed veal cutlet, panfried whole red fish, Berkshire sausages, chargrilled rib eye and roasted spring bay scallops. Salivating much? And that's before I even mention the side of perfectly crisp potatoes with garlic and rosemary, divine sourdough dunked in deep olive oil and garliced, chillied olives in every shade of sour green you can come up with. 

My two stars were the Eggplant parmigiana and the Whole red fish. The eggplant was a beautifully layered rectangle of tomato sugo (read: sauce), basil and parmesan. You don't need to have any real knowledge of food to know good parmesan from bad, the cheese in the dish was wonderful, sharp and intense, so that the dish need not ooze oiliness for good depth of flavour. Most parmigiana dishes, like men in tight white jeans, are just a wee bit too slick for me, if they're slippery on the plate they tend to taste more like a hit of oil/cheese than anything else. Using a great quality parmesan in tempered amounts, allows the gentler and sweeter tastes of the tomato and eggplant to shine through, it was nice and thick, a very large serve, and the pepperishness of the basil throughout lent a nice fragrant, freshness to the heavier flavours. Jason, The Canadian, caught a super winner in the panfried whole red fish, "slashed and filled with herbs and lemon". Now, it's difficult for messed up people not to have a special predisposition for any food that has been slashed as part of its preparation, but this was ridiculously amazing fish! I really haven't tasted a better fried fish, it had a zest and a sharpness to it that it made me literally exclaim "wow" when I tried it. The fish was impeccably fresh, I was actually startled by how beautiful and lively it tasted. Fish that good isn't just eaten, the proper consumption of it requires that it be made love to. Troy McClure would've adored this dish.

I did enjoy the veal cutlet, but it wasn't varied enough for me as just a main on it's own, it's just a big plate of crumbed veal with lemon on the side, good if you like a very filling, very meaty meal. The sausages (like the salami) are Robert Marchetti's, I have no idea who Robbo is, but to have eponymous sausages, he must be doing something right! With a redyellowgreenpepperbasilandbalsamic thing happening around them, these bangers have more than just a bit of bang. I was also particularly enamoured with the crispy Italian style potatoes. They are crunchy little golden pockets of potatoed joy, whoever cooked these must have a PhD in commercial oven operation, i'd easily get them as an entree next time. The menu has other winners than routinely sell out, which is probably why our tardy tummys missed out on them. The snapper, steamed in a bag, and the spaghetti with crab, also cooked in a bag, are two such (ostentsibly) memorable dishes.

We rounded off all of this glorious food with some gorgeous bars of milk and dark chocolate, they arrive at the table decadently clad in thick cardboard boxes of promising loveliness that are hastily torn open. The milk chocolate didn't rock my world, but the flakey, dreamy dark one was so luscious and divine and sinister that the sheer recollection of it can carry me happily through another few solid months of celibacy at least. Mama Mia!
So, that's North Bondi Italian. Loud, very loud. And happening, very happening, all beautiful sea breeze blowing in, over and around the beautiful people with the beautiful clothes and the beautiful hair. The crowd is a bit Bondi, but that doesn't spoil the atmosphere or the taste. A little on the pricer side, but if you choose well, you'll justify the money spent. There's a 10% surcharge on Sunday and Public holidays, and no variations to the menu, thankyouverymuch. It's a nice place for celebrations and catching up, especially if you score one of the coveted balcony seats...something nice about the idea of eating plate after plate of Italian dessert while you watch evening joggers sweat and groan beneath you on the promenade.

There's much more to the menu than what you (don't) see here, antipasti, "salumi", soups, salads, pasta, and sweet, sweet dolci. They even have, for the Marilyn-Manson-At-Stomach, an Offal section that will leave you tied up, dried up and dead to the world. Pig trotter and braised tripe made me scrunch my nose in childlike disgust, but I should have lingered a little longer on the decision of whether to try the Crumbed Lamb Brains or not, if you are what you eat, perhaps ordering that dish would saved me from stupidly deleting all those bloody photos...

That's North Bondi Italian: slip, slop and snack it up, guys. 

7 comments:

Linda said...

smart one amanda =p.. btw we only read your blog for your words not your pics lol jk
Hey when are we going to Georges?

Trisha said...

Was food blog hopping when I stumbled here, and can I just say, that you are my now current favourite blogger? Your entries made me laugh so much (whilst at work... imagine that!) and I just love the way you write in a sort of crazed-up philosophical food maniac! I love it! Thanks and keep sharing your Sydney foodie adventures!

amanda said...

linda, want to do it next week? we should take reem, susan and karen, they need to be initiated!

trisha, thanks a ton for taking the time to let me know youre liking it! its really encouraging when people let you know they like your work x

Karen said...

I need to be initiated into the what now?

*snicker*...Troy McClure...love that episode LOL.

reggers said...

Very peeved I missed this one, now that it's official that it was my idea and I'd like to take ALL the credit. Will be at the next one for sure. Shame there was minimal pictures, cos I don't ever actually read any of the words...shame that computers aren't scratch-and-sniff.

Annie said...

Ah, your photo mishap sounds like something I would do! And no need to worry about the lack of pics, because your writing is very entertaining!

Linda said...

ooh.. yeah we should def go to Georges.. I'm thinking in the early new year?