12-Micron’s sweet view
The amazing native ingredient-inspired desserts of 12-Micron’s pastry chef Ashly Smith wowed guests at the Wine Selectors tent on Wine Island late last year. Here’s more to the story.
One of Sydney’s new dining hubs is the recently created inner city suburb of Barangaroo. The continuing transformation from disused container wharves in East Darling Harbour into a vibrant new harbourside precinct has been nothing short of spectacular. Cleverly conceived, this urban renewal project has brought a blend of business, arts and culture to a former industrial site.
Of course, food, wine and fine dining are important elements of Barangaroo’s evolution and there are over 50 bars, cafes and restaurants already in the precinct. Nestled among them is 12-Micron. Located at the northern end of the waterfront and featuring complete glass frontage with sweeping views of the harbour, it is a warm, welcoming space. The restaurant, bar and evening dessert kitchen takes its name from the highly coveted and uniquely fine 12–Micron wool fibre, which is refined into a remarkable piece of clothing. Likewise, 12-Micron’s ethos is to celebrate Australian produce, refining the best ingredients into an evolving menu.
Executive Chef Justin Wise sources from a range of producers and foragers to create a refined, yet relaxed Australian contemporary menu inspired by the earth, ocean, land and air.
Main dishes such as Paperbark baked artichokes, cauliflower, carrots and goat’s curd; and Venison, parsnip, munthari and wattleseed sit alongside snack items such as Wagyu bresaola, nduja, lonza, pickles and sourdough across a range of Tasting menus, Vegetarian & Vegan Menus, A La Carte, as well as lunch offerings and dishes to enjoy casually at the bar.
One of 12-Micron’s prime attractions is its delectable Dessert Menu. Wine Selectors recently teamed up with 12-Micron’s pastry chef Ashley Smith to create a spectacular dessert and wine pairing masterclass at the 2017 Wine Island event on Sydney Harbour. Ashley’s creations had guests hastily booking at 12-Micron to sample what other indulgent dessert sensations were on offer.
When Ashley began at 12-Micron, he was asked to incorporate Australia’s natural elements into his dessert menu, no mean feat for a self-described ‘true Yorkshireman’. His main mantras were ‘surprising and interesting’, and ‘where tradition and technique meet with innovative flavours and design’.
Ashley drew on memories from his early career in Michelin-star restaurants, such as France’s Château St John-Traitor du Parc and London’s Gordon Ramsay at Claridges. Ashley admits, “Gordon Ramsay at Claridges had a lot of lessons for me to learn that still keep me on my toes even to this day.”
Ashley also reflected on more recent experiences in some of Australia’s finest restaurants, such as ARIA.
“Memory is one of our greatest tools in our arsenal as chefs. As my recipes float around in my head, I pick from memories and things I’ve seen and experienced to start developing that specific dish.”
Classic meets creative
While Ashley’s love of chocolate is undeniably strong and classic English ingredients like “big, bold and brilliant rhubarb,” are openly proclaimed to be a “massive love”, Ashley’s skill for balancing our native ingredients with classic culinary decadence has resulted in one of the most unique and spectacular dessert offerings in Sydney.
Think dishes like mango, macadamia, desert lime and white chocolate, or coconut rough with Azelia mousse, coconut and rainforest lime, and one of his recent additions, peanut butter, rosella, and toast ice-cream, a dessert Ashley describes as “packed with flavour, and visually striking.”
“It’s actually a dish that I’ve had in my head for a long time, but have been waiting for the right time to put it on a menu in the right restaurant.”
Ashley’s ability to get the best out of Australian natives is helped by his skilful team and his network of local producers.
“I’m a big believer in locally grown, and I have close contacts with a lot of the best suppliers in Sydney,” he says. “So if I have a question or need to sample a product, they are always there to help.”
Ashley also gives a lot of credit for his delicious culinary interpretations to Australian native ingredients pioneer, Vic Cherikoff, as well as his own palate, which is always searching for new flavour sensations and combinations.
“I talk a lot with Vic, who is one of the most knowledgeable people on Australian native ingredients. He gives me great advice on the hows, whys, dos and donts,” states Ashley.
“Sometimes I have a flavour profile in mind already, so I’ll taste native ingredients or use my knowledge of them to see where I can slot them into a dessert in a way that will enhance the dessert.
“Other times I’ll take a native ingredient and use it in place of a familiar ingredient, so there’s a recognition there for the guest, but it tastes different to normal. For instance, we might try using wattleseed instead of coffee or desert lime instead of normal lime. It’s always an adventure and a delicious one at that.”
12-Micron is open Mondays 5pm till late, and Tuesday to Sunday, 12noon till late.
Tower 1, Level 2, 100 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo (enter via Shipwright Walk).
For bookings or details call (02) 8322 2075 or visit 12micron.com.au