January 2010

You might have noticed basil coming down a bit in price this month, which makes the prospect of pesto more appealing than ever. It’s found on café menus topping bruschetta or other snacky things all the time, but the Italians are ringing a few changes with it. At Intermezzo, Mario Percuoco is throwing walnuts and rocket in with the pine nuts and basil before tossing it with pappardelle and wild mushrooms (though at this time of year they’re probably dried). At Cucinetta they’re adding walnuts, too, as well as cream to the mix and serving it with zucchini flowers, buffalo mozzarella and truss tomatoes. Meanwhile, at Grappa the basil’s being buzzed into olive oil to dress scallop agnolotti and wood-fired Roma tomatoes.

Seeing the tomato theme here? They’re peaking as well, along with capsicum, zucchini and, perhaps a little prematurely, some fine eggplant. Caponata is a happy marriage of these four ingredients and Firefly is trying something different with a caponata frittata — it rhymes!

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