Despite feeling gloomy about turning another year older, last week I celebrated my birthday in style with two fantastic dinners arranged by my thoughtful family. First we enjoyed an Italian extravaganza made at home by my daughter Alice. Throughout the day my husband had managed to keep his birthday surprise under his hat, but before dessert the secret was out. The following night we were heading into town for a night at The Rocks and a fine dining experience at Sydney’s iconic Aria restaurant.

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Alice produced a tasty italian spread of creamy tortellini , scratch made lasagna, herb bread and two complimenting salads. She also spoilt us with champagne while I also spoilt myself with a gin and tonic.

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This was followed up by some beautiful cupcakes made by son's lovely girlfriend. I didn’t expect beautiful cupcakes to be found in our fridge, they were a lovely surprise when I opened the fridge for milk that morning. They were gorgeous, topped with a pretty pink icing and peaks of jewelled white chocolate. Thank you Aletheia they are the prettiest cupcakes I have ever had, and they were delicious too!

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The following day my husband Nathan and I enjoyed a few hours relaxing at The Rocks and enjoying the city views before making the short walk across Circular Quay to Aria. Aria is co owned by celebrity chef Matt Moran and Peter Sullivan. This restaurant is a place you go to celebrate and enjoy the experience of fine dining.

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From the moment we were seated the staff were attentive and made us feel very comfortable, explaining the menus and inclusions. We were given an appetiser on being seated. A small bite of prawn with watermelon in a tasty dressing. It was divine and devoured before I thought of whipping out the camera. This was a hint of the quality of flavours to come.

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We were offered two choices of artisan bread with hand churned butter. The butter was that good, I didn't need the bread to enjoy it. French champagne was the first drink of the night then we shared a decanted bottle of red wine which looked impressive on the table. Equally as impressive were the romantic veiws of Sydney's Harbourside with the night lights twinkling on the water.

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There were three dinner options including an eight course gastronomy experience. We quickly agreed to indulge in the four course menu, two entrees , main course followed by dessert or cheese. The four courses rolled out in the following order. We enjoyed tasting each others dishes and deciding who made the grandest choice each round.

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 Entree one I chose raw Hiramasa kingfish with beetroot, lime and horsradish. Nathan enjoyed warm marron tail with bello rosso tomatoes and lemon verbena. We both were most impressed with the kingfish.

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Second entree I went out on a limb and ordered pressed jurassic quail and foie gras with smoked eel and radish.  Nathan loves pork so he had to have the kurabuta pork belly with apple, swede and hazelnuts. We both agreed the pork was the most amazing dish of the night.

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My main course was cervena venison fillet and crepinette with Japanese pumpkin, red witlof, black pepper and riberry sauce. Nathan enjoyed lamb loin with sweetbread sausage, broad beans and charred globe artichokes. Main course included with two generous sides, silky buttery mashed potatoes and tender dressed green salad leaves. We loved both mains and could not decide who made the grander choice.

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Not having much of a sweet tooth I decided on a cheese platter instead of a sweet dessert course. Nathan selected the valrhona chocolate ganach with rasberries and warm chocolate doughnuts. I did not leave without trying something sweet, a lovely selection of birthday petit fours arrived with our coffee.

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Dining at Aria was way more expensive than this western Sydney family normally allows themselves to spend on a meal out, however the experience was worth every cent. My husband created a lasting memory for us that we will be able to reflect apon for our life time to come and that in itself is priceless.

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Aria's menus and wine lists are available for veiwing via their webpage. Whats your most memorable dining experience?

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