"Am I the only chef in Australia who cooks these days?" the firey Miguel Maestre jokes as he spied his other half Manu Fidel demonstrating some suave salsa moves to a group of swooning women. It seems so fitting that over the weekend, Manu has taken the "Dancing with the Stars" crown. Not that I ever watched an episode but I was definitely engaged in the playful banter that these two chefs were throwing around.
How can one refuse and invitation aptly titles "An intimate evening with Manu Fidel and Miguel Maestre" yes ladies, let your imaginations run as you wish with that line! Demos and I found ourselves at Aperitif in Kings Cross (or Potts Point, whichever you prefer) which is owned in partnership by both chefs. I was very excited to re-visit this restaurant after it changed hands last year, having only previously stumbled through the front gates after some late night boozing.
As soon as we walk in we notice the very striking decor - Demos comments that its a far cry from the old late night cafe that also occupied the space, Deans (im told they made the best snickers milkshakes known to man) The space was filled wall to wall with mostly women and poor Mr Demos gave me the distinct "Why did you take me here glare" Fangirls stopped both chefs in their tracks and both Manu and Miguel were so eager to mingle and pose for photos - it was lovely.
And now for the tapas!
We strategically positioned ourselves in close proximity to the kitchen exit just so we could try as much of the dishes that were served. Because of the amount of people condensed in for the event, the kitchen and waitstaff were hustling away. We are able to try some antipasti skewers with smoked salmon, olives, another skewer with grilled calamari rings topped with a tomato salsa, some breadsticks wrapped with proscuiutto, a tomato salad with cream foam.
One little "dish" that I could not get enough of were the gazpacho "shots". Now I never picked myself to be a fan of a cold soup but this was something else. Cream, bread, loads of garlic, almond slivers and oil are the flavours I pick up, as well as a hint of mushroom flavours - but a sweet surprise is added in the end with grape slivers adding an unexpected contrasting flavour and crunch. It was delicious, and thankfully a non alcolic shot as I grabbed one every time a tray went past!
Like the cuisine on show, the decor has quite the mediterranean feel to it. It is a very quit eclectic mix between both French and Spanish decorative influences - and could be compared to entering a colourful baroque style room of a flamboyant art collector! Random, I know - but there is so many interesting pieces to admire. The event was put together by The Australian Good Food magazine, where both Manu and Miguel regularly showcase their recipes. Manu was actually scheduled to do a dessert cooking demonstration but that got pushed back so he just encouraged us to try his recipes in the magazine and try and steal some of the Nestle Plaistowe bars lying around. Not just a dancer, but quite the joker too!
Me and my mate Miguel, Miguel with Manu in the Kitchen
Some of the Tapas dishes by Miguel ready to go out.
Just a spanish drink bottle to smuggle your sangria in.
The firey Miguel plays with fire and a blowtorch.
And now the moment the ladies in the crowd were waiting for since Manu promised some sweet salvation - Desset! These strawberries showcased the different Plaistowe flavours there are for cooking or melting chocolate. There was definitely a tussle for the dessert offerings, especially the lush chocolate dipped strawberries!
There was also a mousse served with a little pastry roulade that also disappeared rather quickly! When the crowd wasn't busy jostling for both chef's attention - they were swiftly attacking the dessert plates!
See what I mean about the fight for dessert? Vicious!
My favorite dessert was the chocolate tart, which was a beautiful chocolate ganache over a thin layer of pastry. The Dark Chocolate Plaistowe variety was used for this and it was absolutely divine and ridiculously rich - but that didnt stop me from having a slice each time it was offered to me! I might even attempt the recipe!
It was a fun night getting to chat to these charming chefs, they really have their way with the ladies that leaves them swooning - hey even Demos was smitten in the end talking paella strategies with Miguel. By the end of it, it felt like we were leaving with a tummy full of tapas and chocolatey desserts but also two dashing new friends! Big thank you to ACP Magazines and Nestle Plaistowe for organising this fun event!Aperitif - 7 Kellet St, Potts Point