Even though I’m born and raised in Melbourne I never quite understood the Spring Racing Carnival and certainly did not understand the reason why we have a public holiday for Melbourne Cup. For my Dearest Readers not from Melbourne, this is the first Tuesday of November every year the Melbourne Cup races will be held that day and it is a public holiday. Yup it may be hard to comprehend but we have a day off because of horse racing :D
And the guys and girls who go to these Spring Carnival racing are always dressed up in a pretty dress or suit but most importantly is the FACINATOR For girls! I had no idea that’s what the head piece is called with feathers and flowers and all different colours but now I know it’s the facinator. I have thought about going to one of the races, but my friends weren’t really interested so it never happened. Until one day the amazing Julia from Tink PR invited me and Ms Ihua, Zeboy, Thanh and Shellie to the Lexus Pavilion catering preview followed by an actual invite to the races on STAKES day! Please bare with me because this is going to be a long post because it really is such an awesome event :)
All five of us were so excited! We’ve all wanted to go and this is the PERFECT opportunity and excuse to GLAM up! We were going as guests of Lexus and was definitely treated like VIPs that day, we arrived at the Grand Hyatt hotel where a brand new Lexus picked us up and drove us to the Flemington race courses and we made our way through to the Birdcage and finally into the Lexus Design Pavilion!
I was so ignorant and thought a Pavilion was going to be a marquee or tent, but I was wrong very wrong. It was a fully built 3 story building with bars on each floor and a free flow of drinks and food. I will cover more about the food later on the post but I was more mesmerised by the design and all the pretty people!
We don’t really dress up much but I think we glammed up pretty well! It was a huge rush for me though because I have been so busy at work…I literally got the dress a week before, got my facinator 2 nights before and dyed my hair the night and rushed late at night to do my nails hahaha gosh it’s hard being a girl :P
None of us had breakfast so was pretty hungry, for breakfast we had these delicious egg and bacon rolls and of course our first glass of champagne. And behind the rolls is our betting book, I have never bet on horses in my life so I had trouble trying to figure how and what to do ~
I then had one of the BEST donuts with warm melting and oozing Nutella filling inside! I honestly can’t explain how good these were! They disappeared so quickly I didn’t even have a chance to get another one >_< I wonder where else can I find such delicious donuts.
Moving on we went up to the second level to hang out and then on to the roof where it hard outdoor seating and a great view of The Birdcage and of the other marquees. That’s when I could really feel the exclusivity of the Lexus Marquee and in The Birdcage so privileged!
We did go for a stroll around the Birdcage and admired some of the other marquees, there was G.H Mumm Champagne with their Moulin Rouge themed marquee. Lavazza was known as the party marquee with loud music and everyone dancing while Myer and another few marquees were a little quieter but we could still see people having a lot of fun.
On our way back to the Lexus Pavilion Ms I-Hua was stopped by a camera man from Chanel 7 and asked to show off her pretty nails! Ms I-Hua is going to be on TV :)
Then there was more champagne and all of a sudden Matt Preston (Masterchef judge, food writer and presenter) walked into the second level. I was a little nervous but still made my way up and asked if I could please take a photo with him!
He was such a lovely man and quite tall too! I felt tiny next to hime hehe I really wished Mr Bao was with me because he is a huge fan of Matt Preston and have bought all his cookbooks and we’ve really enjoyed the recipes! We actually did receive a tweet from Matt Preston himself before so it was just really nice to meet him in person!
Catering is taken very seriously at the Lexus Pavilion with The Big Group being the main provider, a pop up Hihou Japanese restaurant and Neil Perry’s Rockpool Bar and Grill. We were lucky to try all the dishes at the preview and again on Stakes day.
We also bet on quite a few horses. Unfortunately, I won nothing…yup I lost every single time I bet hahaha that was like 6 races…Ok I do admit it’s partially my fault because I did no research and basically chose all horses based on their names and clearly the funnier the name the more likely I’m going to pick it. Hence, why I chose the horse ‘Unpretentious’ and clearly it was too ‘pretentious’ and lost the race :P
We then repeated what we did above until it was time for us to go home, where another friendly driver picked me up in a Lexus and drove me back to the Grand Hyatt. Unfortunately, I left a little earlier because I had to meet Mr Bao and some friends, because I heard from the others at 6pm the ground floor became a dance floor and it was the best time of the day. But I still really enjoyed myself and if I get the chance to go again, I will read up on all the horses and make sure I win!
Now backtracking about 10 days before Stakes day, Julia invited us the Lexus Menu Tasting at The Big Group a prestige catering firm. As mentioned before they did a cross over with Hihou a Japanese restaurant from the Izakaya Den group and also some of Neil Perry’s recipes. We started the event that night with a Yuzu Sparkler which is a mocktail, it was so refreshing and not too tart. I’m a huge fan of Yuzu because it’s like a cross between a lemon, grapefruit and orange.
We start off with some dishes from Hihou, these are the crisp miso cigars filled with tuna tartare, yuzu salmon tartare and soybean curry. It’s such an amusing way to eat these canapés, and also really liked the light miso flavour from the crispy miso wrap. The salmon tartare was definitely my favourite cigar!
Next up was the Kingfish ceviche sashimi with clear crystallised seaweed which I haven’t seen or tried before. The Temaki roll with lobster, cucumber and kewpie mayonnaise was left for us to roll ourselves which is a great idea because it keeps the seaweed super crisp. And the last is the buckwheat crepe with duck breast, mustard miso, pickled mushroom and leek, another dish I know Mr Bao would’ve liked because he’s a fan of duck and I liked the nutty flavour from the buckwheat crepe.
Even though the cigars and Japanese styles were delicious, my favourite that night was actually the mini Hihou hotdogs with a Gotzinger Pork Sausage served with Pickled onions and cabbage and your choice of chilli, wasabi mayo and tonkatsu sauce. I’m really hope they serve these at Hihou because I loved the pork sausage kind of reminds me of a Frankfurt and take my advice it needs to be served with all 3 sauces!
Moving on was Neil Perry’s dishes, the Rockpool Bar and Grill slider which is based on their famous burger they serve at Rockpool. The patty was so juicy with a slice of bacon, pickle and tomato relish a small slider isn’t enough so I think I’m going to have to try the full size soon. The winner for me though was the fried calamari with zucchini aioli and fennel pollen, never had that before and its quite floral. Last but not least was the Asparagus pancetta and egg tart, the puff pastry was so buttery and flakey with the eggy filling perfect afternoon canape.
The food kept coming and the last savoury dishes came from The Big Group kitchen and designed by Chef Chris Henderson. On the top we have the Pork belly cooked in coconut caramel with crunchy ice-berg, hot mint and fresh lime I guess you can never go wrong with pork belly. On the left is the steak and chip which was piping hot and served with creamy tarragon béarnaise, impressed that the steak and still cooked quite well even though it was cut into a small cube. The beetroot and orange cured tuna and cucumber was a lighter tasting dish and smoked goats cheese with tomato sherry jelly on spun pastry.
After all that food, it’s finally time for DESSERT! I was patiently waiting and it was well worth the wait, on the top left we had a toffee and coconut creme brulee on a macadamia sable, I can’t decide if I like the creme brulee more or the sable both so good. Tiramisu using the recipe from Neil Perry’s Rosetta recipe it had a good kick of coffee but not too strong. The tequila and lime marshmallow was a little strong for me but the texture of the marshmallow was lovely. But always save the best for last! We were all so impressed and enthralled by the Eskimo pie, peanut butter ice-cream coated in chocolate topped with salted caramel and praline can not get better!
This whole experience at the Lexus tasting and the Design Pavilion has by far been one of the best events I have gone to this year. Would like to thank Julia and Lexus again for inviting me and giving me the opportunity to be part of this extravagant and fun event :D