Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour promises a glittering night out against an unbeatable backdrop, set to the spine-tingling soprano line of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. But what’s in store for the epicurious?
We spoke to Peter McCloskey, Managing Director of Fresh Catering, to find out what your tastebuds have in store at next year’s Opera on Sydney Harbour.
“People come to Opera on Sydney Harbour expecting to be wowed,” says Peter McCloskey – the man responsible for feeding the hundreds of thousands of patrons that flock to the most spectacular event on Sydney’s arts calendar.
When someone buys a ticket to Opera on the Harbour, they’re seeking a special night out, McCloskey explains. “So we want to make sure the catering experience is a part of that. It has to match the quality of the event itself, so the evening is a total experience.”
McCloskey is managing director of Fresh Catering, a company that has built its reputation – and business – on a passion for the arts, not least the alluring experience of opera. He discovered his niche in a crowded catering market in a very personal way: continually being disappointed by the food on offer at arts events.
“When I go to an arts event, the food and beverage offerings almost never compliment my experience. We want to make sure that the catering experiences matches up to the event itself.”
Opera on Sydney Harbour in 2014 comes with an extensive menu of food options, themed to tie in with the Japanese love story at the heart of Puccini’s classic opera, Madama Butterfly.
Each dish takes inspiration from a variety of Japanese classics, drawing on traditional flavours and adding a contemporary Australian twist.
If you’re looking for a grab-and-go option to enjoy in the fading twilight, you can take your pick from street-food style noodle carts or chow down on a succulent Chicken Katsu burger.
In the same vein are three gourmet pizza options (each with an innovative Japanese-inspired topping): Miso Prawn, Wild Mushroom or Chicken Teryaki.
If you’ve gathered some friends together and intend to make a night of it, the Northern Cantina will offer a Japanese twist on tapas (is there anything better than bite-sized share food?) You can place your order and enjoy waiter service on a range of upmarket tapas: think panko-crumbed arancini and sticky teriyaki beef ribs. “These dishes will be really lovely to share and a little bit more formal than what’s on offer at the gate,” McCloskey explains.
For those whom white tablecloths and fine dining are an integral part of the opera experience, it doesn’t get much better than the al fresco restaurant in the Platinum Club. The three-course meal offers the chefs at Fresh Catering the chance to flex its fine-dining muscles with clean, Asian flavours.
“We concentrate on flavour and intricate presentation,” McCloskey says. Expect tender blue-eyed cod and a flavourful Miso beef.
The cultural context of Madama Butterfly offered clear direction when it came to designing the food experience, McCloskey said. “This is an opera with a clear Japanese cultural thread, so we’re going to offer a taste of Japan with the food and beverages on offer.”
Need more convincing? Try it at home! Fresh Catering has kindly provided a Japanese-inspired recipe to tickle the tastebuds!
Popcorn shrimp with spicy garlic sauce
- 500 g Peeled Green Prawns
- 120g Rice Flour
- 120g Tapioca Flour
- 240ml Soda Water
- Extra Rice Flour to dust prawns
- 60g Chilli Garlic Sauce (Lee Kum Kee Brand)
- 200 g Mayonnaise
- 4 Limes
- ¼ bunch Shallot
- 4 sheets of Nori
- 2g Chilli Powder
- Dice prawns and toss lightly in rice flour.
- To make the batter: Sieve rice and tapioca flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Gradually beat in the soda water until you make a batter, ensuring there are no lumps.
- Place diced prawns that have been lightly dusted in rice flour into the batter.
- Preheat a deep fryer to 180°C. Sprinkle the battered prawns into the deep fryer and fry until golden brown and crisp.
- To make the dipping sauce: Mix the chilli garlic sauce in with the mayonnaise, for the dipping sauce
- Blend the nori sheets and chilli powder and sprinkle on fried prawns.
- Serve the popcorn shrimp on a platter garnished with the shallots cut into julienne, a lime cheek and a small bowl of chilli mayonnaise.
Preparation time 20 minutes | Recipe for 6