Cuisinart Valentine’s Day Foodie Dream from The Heart


February 16, 2013 by Joanne T Ferguson


Where does one start to share the most extraordinary Valentine’s Day experience which included a private cooking class by Matt Moran* in the kitchen under the Sydney Opera House and was followed by the a magnificent lunch with wonderful people who met as strangers and left as friends?

Did I mention THIS was the view?* *

Views do not get any better than this with the Sydney Opera House to my right and the Sydney Harbor Bridge to the left!

๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

(One smile for everyone at the lunch; I included an extra smile as am hoping as you read this, YOU will be smiling too!)

I STILL cannot wipe the smile off my face and my enthusiasm in sharing this experience is STILL bubbling over! WHOO HOO! ๐Ÿ™‚

This experience was made possible thanks to Cuisinart (promoting their Hot and Cold Blender) in Australian Gourmet Traveler Magazine and Madison Magazine in conjunction with the National Breast Cancer Foundation, heavily promoting October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Chef Matt Moran is a “long time supporter and home user” of Cuisinart.ย  Matt Moran and Cuisinart’s “Team in The Kitchen” goal is to raise “awareness of the real benefits of using “the right equipment” in the kitchen daily. ***

“I LOVE my new Cuisinart Hot & Cold Blender! TRUE!” ****
With a powerful motor, it is the first blender in Australia to has an “integrated heater” making soups, smoothies, crushing ice “simple” to do! As I am American born and bred, now an Aussie who calls Australia home, I too am a “long time home user” of Cuisinart products and HIGHLY recommend this Hot & Cold Blender too!

A Happy Snap ๐Ÿ™‚

Now, onto the food! ๐Ÿ™‚

Scampi in Brik Pastry with Aoili and GremolataTickled our Tastebuds” as our first sampling dish.

Was “DELICIOUS” and LOVED the “very crispy” brik pastry; the gremolata flavor was to savor ๐Ÿ™‚ Matt has now “inspired” me to make at home too! ๐Ÿ˜‰

The recipe can be found in Matt Moran When I Get Home cooking cookbook. (available at all leading book stores; signed copies special edition hard cover version is exclusively available from ARIA! ๐Ÿ™‚ HIGHLY RECOMMEND***** too! ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_1250Rack of Lamb, Braised Neck with Pumpkin, Feta and Lavender
(raised by the Moran family farm)
IMG_1261Coconut Panna Cottaย  with Berries and Strawberry Soup

Now over to Aria Restaurant for lunch! ๐Ÿ™‚

On a personal note, in addition to the food, views, staff, atmosphere and Matt coming to our table for a chat ๐Ÿ™‚ , I “genuinely” enjoyed meeting Brett, Anna and Clarissa from Sheldon Hammond, as well as the other winning contestants and their guests. I enjoyed hearing their life stories as well as learning what dishes they submitted; one contestant even brought a photo, which was lovely to view.

I personally love an amuse bouche! (Something small to amuse the mouth before a meal begins ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

Sweet Corn Soup

My friend Leggy Peggy and I “think” alike (as well as all the contestants did too!) We decide to order different plates, photograph them, then share and mmmmm’s and aaaaaaaaa’s too ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_1272Sydney rock oysters with soy, yuzu (see note below) and daikon dressing

It was the first time I experienced Sydney rock oysters and “know” it will not be my last! I loved the simple combination of soy, yuzu and daikon! ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_1274Leggy Peggy and I “knew” Peking duck consommรฉ with duck dumplings, shaved abalone and mushrooms was “DEFINITELY” on the list!ย ๐Ÿ˜‰ GREAT choice! ๐Ÿ˜‰
Beautiful, subtle flavors! It was Leggy Peggy’s first experience enjoying a dish with abalone in it too! ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_1280Seared fillet of king salmon with dragon tongue beans, herb farfelle and tomato

Another GREAT choice!!!ย ๐Ÿ™‚ I “loved” the crispy skin, the salmon “melted” in my mouth…LOTS of mmmmmm and mmmmmm with this dish too! ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_1276Char grilled sirloin with summer vegetables, bone marrow and salsa verde
Do I AGAIN, mention ANOTHER great choice? ๐Ÿ˜‰ I always believe in giving a compliment when a compliment is due! This dish “melted” in my mouth, enjoyed the little baby summer vegetables and even had a “wonderful” crunch popper. ๐Ÿ™‚

Do you recognize the BEAMING smile by now? ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ™‚

Other dishes from around the table were:
barra2useRoasted fillet of Cone Bay barramundi with pumpkin brandade (see note below) and a caper and piquillo pepper vinegrette

Kurobuta pork belly with a pork croquette, muntries (see below note) and star anise

Onto the desserts! ๐Ÿ˜‰

As we were all friends by now at the table ;-), everyone took pleasure in sharing their desserts around for all to sample as well as (and a very big thank you to all) for allowing me to photograph too! We all laughed, we all enjoyed, we all have and had VERY memorable moments at the lunch too! ๐Ÿ˜‰

IMG_1285Valrhoma (see note) chocolate delice with carmelised hazelnuts and Earl Grey tea ice cream

What a GREAT, GREAT choice! This dessert was a “bomb”!!!
(It might be an “aged” expression, but totally appropriate to mean “amazing” “awesome” “the best“)
OK, I even took a small breath before I SLOWLY dug my spoon into the “very smooth and welcoming ๐Ÿ˜‰ chocolate delice! Oh, then the C-R-U-N-C-H of the carmelised hazelnuts which I combined the Earl Grey tea ice cream! ๐Ÿ™‚
ALL I can say, (as I am working myself up into a frenzy now JUST writing this), is you HAVE to visit ARIA Sydney! Don’t WAIT for that special occasion! Enjoy life and celebrate ALL days that end in “Y” ๐Ÿ™‚

I HOPE so far, I have “enticed” you and cannot WAIT to return!!!

(And experience ARIA Brisbane and CHISWICK Restaurant and Bar in Chiswick Gardens,ย Woollahra too!)

We are not finished YET!! lol ๐Ÿ˜‰

mango.pgMango mousse with passion fruit, quinoa tuille, Italian meringue and passion fruit sorbet

Glazed peaches with pistachio, cherries, flapjack and vanilla ice cream

IMG_1287Cafe au lait pannacotta with figs, crรจme fraรฎche and cinnamon crumble


A selection of Australian and international cheese!

I included my favorite here…blue vein!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

My name is Joanne and I “sometimes” like to repeat myself! lol

“the most extraordinary Valentine’s Day experience which included a private cooking class by Matt Moran* in the kitchen under the Sydney Opera House and was followed by the a magnificent lunch with wonderful people who met as strangers and left as friends”


Do you THINK the Tiramisu Marshmallow had everyone on Cloud Nine? They were DIVINE!

A VERY BIG Thank you to Brett, Anna and Clarissa for this “MOST MEMORABLE” day! “Same Time, Next Year” was the sentiment of the table on this Valentine’s Day!

I look VERY MUCH forward in using my Cuisinart Hot & Cold Blender creating “interesting and exciting” dishes to try and inspire people with one dish at a time! ๐Ÿ™‚

A TREMENDOUS thank you to Matt Moran for his “extraordinary” dishes that “danced the Valentine’s Day dance” lol and for your wonderful hospitality for making sure everything was “more than” okay!


Thank you to Leggy Peggy for sharing this wonderful experience with me too! WHOO HOO!


WHEW!!!! You made it this far, TRUE! I THOUROUGHLY hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I LOVED writing and sharing the experience of the Cuisinart Valentine’s Day Foodie Dream from The Heart!!!

Please feel free to leave a comment on the post too! ๐Ÿ˜‰

*Matt Moran to host From Paddock to Plate

**photo courtesy of Aria Restaurant Sydney website

***Matt Moran & Cuisinart
MEDIA RELEASE: September 29, 2010

**** While I won the Cuisinart Hot & Cold Blender, the words are my own and is my honest review of the product too! ๐Ÿ™‚
*****I have previously purchased Matt’s When I Get Home cookbook; is my honest recommendation too! ๐Ÿ™‚

“The yuzu is a citrus fruit and plant originating in East Asia. It is believed to be a hybrid of sour mandarin and Ichang papeda”

Brandade – “an emulsion of salt cod and olive oil; In French it is sometimes called Brandade de Morue and in Spanish it can be called Brandada de bacalao (‘morue’ being the French name for salt cod and bacalao the Spanish one).

Valrhona chocolate “is a French chocolate manufacturer based in a small town of Tain-lโ€Hermitage in Hermitage, a wine-growing district near Lyon.”

Muntries are native cranberries also known as “emu apples” and are native to South Australia! (The GREAT state where I live too!! ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Follow Up Note:

13 thoughts on “Cuisinart Valentine’s Day Foodie Dream from The Heart

  1. […] S-Q-U-E-A-L-E-D (I know you are surprised by that lol) when as part of the experience, we received a private cooking class by Australian chef Matt Moranย  and lunch at ARIA; his […]

  2. Gloria (aka Crafty Lady 13) says:

    Joanne, I am sooooooooo jealous. It looks like a wonderful time. My stomach is growling just looking and reading about the dishes. I too love Cuisinart products. One of my favorites is my Cuisinart Grill/Griddle/Panini maker. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

  3. christine morris says:

    Thanks for sharing this awesome experience Joanne, have shared:)

  4. Judi Adams says:

    It truly was a wonderful experience and a fantastic day. Lovely to meet you Jonne and to share this with you amd the otherv guests. Great photos !

  5. Juss Liane says:

    I knew you would love ARIA, it is certainly a gastronomical highlight!! Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. Debbwl says:

    What a fun day and prize.

  7. Anoushka says:

    OMG! Water is dripping out my mouth. I would do anything to taste that stuff and what a great cooking class from Matt. I think it is a great experience, the ambiance, the making of new friends, sharing your passion for food and all those taste buds that are used!!

  8. I’m so pleased that you had a great time! What a great prize! ๐Ÿ˜€ You look great in those pics Joanne!

    • Thanks Lorraine! What a GREAT way to spend Valentine’s Day! ๐Ÿ™‚ Today is compliment accepting day; thank you re looking great in the photos too! Might be my Matt Moran/ARIA smile! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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About me

Joanne T. Ferguson

Passionate Home Cook who tries to inspire one recipe and one event at time!


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