If there’s one benefit to being in Sydney on Melbourne Cup day, it’s the sunshine. Pool parties, uninterrupted blue skies and handbags unburdened by umbrellas are rare sights down south.
This Cup Day, poolside restaurant Uccello wants to evoke the feeling of a decadent summer vacation spent on the shores of the Italian seaside. Head chef Ben Sitton is using the opulent event as an excuse to put on one of the most luxe lunches Uccello has ever seen.
“That’s what it’s all about,” says Sitton. “That experience that you don’t normally get day to day.”
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For $295 a head, Sitton has crafted an Italian menu of standout spring produce, such as bright green vegetables, lamb and suckling pig. To kick off, on arrival your regular race-day cracker and hummus will be subbed out for Moët & Chandon and potato crisps with caviar.
The four-course menu then spirals into spring with a very special prawn cocktail to start. Yamba prawns from Queensland will be served with sea-urchin mayonnaise and garlic chives. “They’re massive, big prawns, you don’t see them around too much,” says Sitton. The tangy peachy flavours of the matched Talis pinot grigio from Friuli, Italy, will underscore the sweetness of this crustacean situation, but if you’d like to find your own pairing there will be five sommeliers on the floor to help.
Next, there’s spanner crab from Fraser Island tossed through handmade tagliolini and woodfired chillis. This is one of Uccello’s signatures, and has been on the menu for three years since Sitton joined the team. For this service the team will spend three days prepping, churning through six kilos of Italian semolina flour and 170 eggs to make 170 portions.
Further down the menu are more eye-catching ingredients, such as Jack’s Creek dry-aged 5+ sirloin on the bone served with truffle butter; John Dory with cauliflower, currants, pine nuts and anchovy; fresh orecchiette and a ragu made with Brooklyn Valley short rib; and the pièce de resistance: suckling pig from a farm near Port Macquarie, which will be deboned and rubbed with wild fennel seeds, rosemary, garlic and peppercorns, then rolled up and roasted in Uccello’s monstrous brick woodfire oven for an hour and a half. The dripping flesh and stiff crackling will be served with mustard fruits, roasted figs and 30-year-old balsamic, to be washed down with a Chianti Classico from Tuscany.
The dessert Sitton is most excited for is the torched zabaglione (like a whipped custard), made with Italian elderflower liqueur and blood orange and topped with fresh strawberries, raspberries and a strawberry gel, paired with sticky Sicilian dessert wine.
“We’re really utilising the time of year,” says Sitton. “They’re going to be rolling out the door.”
Stomach amply stuffed, the party continues out on the deck, where The Ivy’s Melbourne Cup pool party will be in full swing. You’ve also got the option of kicking on at the Pool Club for a cocktail afterwards.
“It will be very, very rowdy,” says Sitton, who believes that, despite the lack of public holiday, Sydneysiders might do Melbourne Cup Day better than anyone.
Tickets are $295 per person for a four-course meal and a glass of Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Rosé on arrival. More details about Merivale’s other Melbourne Cup Day promotions here.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Merivale.