We woke up to an absolutely wet and dreary Sunday morning and with such torrential rain, I thought that The Cure Cancer Marathon Long Lunch set out in a lane way in Potts Point would be cancelled for sure. A quick call to Juliet (PR extraordinaire) dispelled the thought, though to be honest, I was still a little worried how they were going to pull it off.
We arrived to a sadly empty (and rather wet) Llankelly Place, where a super long table would have been set up. I could imagine how awesome if would have looked had the weather been what it was during the week: gloriously sunny. It was lucky, then, that the nearby building management was gracious enough to allow the Marathon Long Lunch to be set up on the premises instead.
The bar that would eventually serve pre-lunch drinks and a quintet from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra were ensconced in a spare space. I thought it was kind of cool to see this elegant and polished quintet playing delicate classical music in a rough and raw concrete room with exposed fixtures; definitely something you don’t get to see every day.
It wasn’t what was originally envisioned, with the tables organised into rows in the available free space instead of the one long communal table, but managing to pull off such a complicated setup, logistics and making it still look pretty in such a short time was really amazing; both F and I were really impressed.
Things really kicked off when more and more people started to arrive (or rather run in from the rain); bubbly was poured, caprioskas were made and still more people turned up and packed into what seemed like a rather large room, but seemed to have shrunk over a short period of time.
The torrential rain didn’t seem to dampen the buoyant spirit of the lunch attendees and were further enhanced by the feel-good, toe-tapping music from a siren (one Nicolette Kenny accompanied by her guitarist) and free-flowing wine.
It wasn’t long until I spied the canapés made by Barrio Chino arriving in waves.
The first we managed to snag was the corn and avocado tostado; I loved the tumultuous-seeming flavours of creaminess, spiciness and saltiness atop of crunchy goodness.
My favourite of the two canapés had to be the tuna sashimi tostados though. The tuna was incredibly fresh and perfectly balanced with the dollop of creamy avocado (hidden underneath like a surprise) and the salty crunchiness of the corn chip.
“Do you want to take photos of the entrée being prepared?” Heath Felton, the director of Felton & Co, asked. My eyes lit up and enthused an affirmative. We were taken into the narrow and twisty passageways of the nearby LL Wine and Dine, ending up with what seemed like Aladdin’s Cave. F and I muttered an awed “whoa” at the sheer number of plates to be done and I had to shake myself from a dazed stupor before getting down to business.
The LL San Choy Bau of Chicken had a spicy lime dressing and topped with pine nuts. For me, san choy bau has always been made with duck, so I thought chicken was an interesting choice. The spicy lime dressing was thankfully not really all that spicy (more like a gentle nudge than anything else), which I thought went really well with the chicken. The nuttiness from the pine nuts softened the sharp zesty flavour, while the crisp lettuce leaf added a refreshing element and more crunchy texture to the san choy bau.
The crispy tofu were served with black sesame and tahini sauce, finished with seaweed and nanami togarashi seasoning. When I saw the crispy tofu on the menu I realised I had mistakenly thought it as the Asian fried tofu. It looked pretty similar, if not the same, at a cursory glance, but on closer inspection there are a couple of differences and on eating it, the differences were unmistakeable. The tofu was super crispy on the outside and incredibly soft, silky on the inside – kind of like the perfect potato wedge actually. The black sesame and tahini sauce added a rich depth to the tofu, while the chilli powder provided a nice little kick that even I can handle.
The pork belly bun was cooked in Hakka Granny’s traditional way – I’m not sure what that entailed, but the pork belly was deliciously succulent and perfectly seasoned sandwiched in a super soft and fluffy bun.
The delectable main course of seared snapper was presented by Felton & Co. I thought the pickled red peppers brought out the sweetness of succulent and perfectly seasoned fish and the mushrooms added a light heartiness. The well-cooked, roe-topped scallop sitting on a bed of creamy cauliflower puree added another sweet dimension to the dish and we adored the delicately sweet and juicy snow crab and lobster cannelloni, which I think was cunningly wrapped in fennel.
As the afternoon progressed, the mood was infectiously lively and merry with impromptu dancing and turning tabletop decorations into stylised race-day “hats”.
Anne Crawford, founder and director of Can Too, spoke a little about her organisation, its aims and the wonderful people who’s been involved with their programs.
I learnt earlier in the day that Can Too holds coaching / training marathon programs for people who wants to participate in events like the Blackmores Sydney Marathon to raise money for charity, but didn’t think they would be able to complete such a daunting challenge. Mimi, a 60-odd year old lady, is one such person who participated in Can Too’s 14-week marathon program and she not only finished the marathon, but has been considering the swim marathon program as well – despite (she admitted) being a weak swimmer. Man, I hope that I would be half as active as she is when I’m her age!
Can Too has a partnership with the Cure Cancer Foundation and in addition to the programs, the money Can Too raises goes to supporting breakthrough cancer research.
Dessert was sponsored by Bentley Restaurant and Bar; we had dined at Bentley before and if the amazing desserts we had then were anything to go by, the dessert dish should prove to be quite something.
It was quite something alright – quite sensational! I adored how the white chocolate “sphere” looked more like a be-speckled egg and that the eggs looked like it was sitting on a bed of “dirt” made from dark chocolate crumbs.
I wondered where the mandarin jelly was hiding when I saw Mimi crack open one of her eggs and a yellow liquid came rushing out. Oh my goodness! So that’s where they were hiding it! Very sneaky… The sweet-sour “jelly” cut through the sweetness of the white chocolate while helping the dark chocolate crumbs from becoming a bit too dry.
F and I though it was a pretty epic dessert, though considering that it was done by Bentley we weren’t too surprised.
To finish things off, we had melomakarona – a scrumptiously dense and moist biscuit drenched in honey and topped with chopped almonds – with a little cup of well-brewed macchiato provided by Ithaka Kafenion.
Raffle tickets were steadily being sold during the lunch and some of the prizes (all donated) included any pair of running shoes of your choice from The Running Co., a fully laden hamper worth $250, a massage treatment from Body Conscience and loads of $5 vouchers from the British Lolly Shop.
We were asked to look underneath our chairs. Not being told what to look for, I patted underneath feeling nothing out of the ordinary and looked over to F to see if he had found anything. He stilled and there was a “rrrrck!” as he pulled something off the chair. Turns out that he was one of the winners of a massive Whitman’s Sampler chocolate box.
It’s crazy how big the box is – it’s been a couple of weeks since this event and we’re still making our way through it!
We learnt that The Cure Cancer Marathon Long Lunch is in celebration of the Sydney Marathon and is in its second year running with twice as many people attending than the first; it is likely to double in size again next year.
The Marathon Long Lunch is supported by Cure Cancer Australia and Can Too and organised by catering company Felton & Co; everything was sponsored or donated – from the floral arrangements by Sticks and Wicks, the 3-course lunch complete with canapés and after lunch treats to the raffle prizes (which I thought was pretty sweet and cool of them).
Although the day had crazy torrential rains, the lunch was so full of positive vibe and energy – a real sense of community – that we forgot how horrible the weather was (until it started to rain sideways for a bit) and had such a ball. The mood was matched with delicious food that impressed everyone – a great indication of that was the majority of the plates going back into the kitchen empty.
The lunch really surprised us with its infectious vivacious atmosphere and great food that we are already looking forward to next year’s lunch – rain, hail or shine!
Tickets to the lunch were $130 (full price), $110 (for half marathon runners) and $98 (for full marathon runners).
Eatshowandtell attended The Cure Cancer Marathon Long Lunch as a guest of Metta Media and Felton & Co.