With thanks to my good friends at the Food Critics and Bloggers Australia I scored an invite to a wonderful pop-up. The pop-up was to experience the arancini from Medical Student and entrepreneur Tom Lee from Ballpark Journey. Said pop-up was being held at a venue I have desperately wanted to visit for a long time, the stunning Firefly in Neutral Bay.
Firefly is a wine and cocktail bar restaurant that serves some epic sounding food, sadly for me I was there only to try the arancini and indulge in beverages.
The venue itself is an old saloon-styled but modern looking wine bar. While located in Neutral Bay the place would be just as well-suited underground in a New York Basement. It is designed and ran in honour of one lady, Lucetta Sernia. Sernia was somewhat of a wild child. Born in 1884 in San Severo di Foggia, Italy. She was a cabaret dancer and then hotelier who stuck it to “the man.” Hit up the Firefly website HERE for her full story, it’s an interesting read.
They take reservations and host group bookings of varying sizes. It is one of those boutique bars I have walked past a dozen times and needed to visit and thanks to this event finally got the chance.
I will definitely be returning for the food. As an example of what they serve when not showing off their balls here is their Banquet Menu;
Deluxe Sharing Banquet $55pp
- Fried Camembert, pinot & cranberry relish
- Pork & Fennel sausage rolls, sticky spiced caramel
- Duck pancakes, shallot, hoisin sauce
- Canadian seared scallops, morcilla, pickled pear
- Sliced beef fillet, buckwheat soba, asian mushroom
- Pumpkin tortellini, sage, beurre noisette
- Roasted Lamb Rump, crushed minted potatoes, pea puree
- Fennel & rocket salad, goats feta, mint, pistachios
Enough said, sounds epic!
TOM LEE aka BALLPARK JOURNEY:
Back to the man of the hour, Tom Lee. Lee looks too young to be a medical student and also a burgeoning food mogul but it appears nothing will stop him. He originally wanted to work with stuffed fried chicken but things evolved to arancini. He is a Taiwanese born New Zealander who we are now adopting because he is talented. His arancini have so far only been trialled in the Taree area to success but that’s about to change.
Lee and Daniel Sofo, the Maestro of Firefly, were in touch on Instagram and one thing led to another. Sofo jumped on board the ball wagon and invited Lee to run his first pop-up. Said pop-up occurred this week and is the start of great things to come for Lee. Easily the best arancini I have had and something that will seduce the tastebuds of you all.
Firefly offers cocktails, craft beer and an epic pinot noir offering. They have a wine wall featuring over ninety of the world’s best Pinot Noirs. Their cocktails are insane, their wine sublime and this Spritzes made me a true fan. The bar staff are pros and are well knowledge on all things beverage.
I started with a stunning Italian Vinicola Poletti Sangiovese and then on the suggestion of Sofo moved to indulging in the Spritzes. The Spritz is a wine-based cocktail commonly served as an aperitif in Northeast Italy. The Spritz above is known as Suzie’s Spritz and is made with Suze Liqueur (bitter French apéritif made from the gentian root), St. Germain elderflower prosecco and teapot bitters. It was refreshing, sweet and incredibly dangerous because all I wanted was more of them :). And more I had…..
Two pics down is the Garden Spritz: Hendricks Gin, lychee, rosewater, mint and prosecco – even better than the first one. I had to leave not long after the second one as I was driving, it would have been the end of me if I indulged in more.
Lee can’t stop making arancini and is now at a new flavour each week. His flavour combinations are sublime and each one he listed off from his experimenting had me drooling. We had the pleasure of trying;
- prawns with miso butter and lemon,
- braised onion and portobello mushroom
- beef brisket ragu with shaved parmesan
- caramelised porkbelly with sticky spiced caramel
All divine in taste, I would have loved to have had a chilli sauce with the prawn arancini and odd news, the onion and portobello was easily my favourite. I never in my entire life would have picked that one as being my numero uno.
Lee has a liking for kimchi and fried chicken and I have pit in a request for fried chicken kimchi arancini – I need that in my life.
Massive points and thanks to Dan Sofo for debuting Tom Lee to the Sydney food scene. What Sofo has done with Firefly is remarkable, I think my days of Neutral Bay drinking at The Oaks are over. With the brilliance of Firefly so close there is no need to venture anywhere else when in the area. The venue feels out of time with a harking back to the New York saloon bars of old and who can’t help but love that. I half wanted a pipe and a brandy to end my meal.
Lee is about to experience a culinary evolving. The guy needs backers, crowdfunding or a guardian angel. He needs to be wholesaling these things for orders for venues and the public alike. Adding to this empire of delights I suggest a food van for festivals and events to provide these balls of brilliance where they belong, in the stomachs of the people! Bravo to everyone involved and thanks for a fantastic afternoon.
Phone: (02) 9909 0193
Monday – Thursday: 5pm – 1130pm
Friday: 12pm – 1130pm
Saturday: 12pm – 11pm
Sunday: 12pm – 10pm
*** JK (and any guests of Spooning Australia) were invited guests of the establishment. However, as always, if it was shite I would happily tell you as such.