High tea @ the Hyatt

——02/06/2012——-

We were celebrating several occasions- birthdays and finishing courses but who doesn’t love catching up with wonderful friends in cute dresses while eating cake all afternoon? My friend booked well in advance to ensure we got a table for High tea at the Hyatt.

The table is set, let’s eat!

A big table of an ‘all of you can’ buffet with both sweets and savouries.

Each tea/coffee cup had a cute peppermint macaron for an ‘after dinner mint’. It was a very strong flavour and I didn’t think the shell was the best consistency.

Complimentary champagne or juice on arrival.

A close up for several plates- strawberry tart, jelly, tarts, cheesecakes, bread and butter puddings, pavlova and trifle.

Mmmm savouries!

My vegan friend was given a savoury platter with char-grilled vegetables and anti-pasto elements.

Even though we had specifically mentioned that there was a vegan while booking, we weren’t sure how they were going to cater for her. We were all amazed that there was a sweet vegan platter to follow. I asked to see the chef to explain the plate (and to double check that it was vegan). There were a lot of delicious elements but it got a wee bit sweet towards the end and unlike me, my friend couldn’t swap back to savoury afterwards.

Vegan option: Chocolate panna cotta, hazelnut crumble, orange polenta cake, biscuits, fruit loaf and sweet jellies. My friend’s favourites included the crumble and orange cake but found the jellies a bit too much.

A close of up the cold hazelnut crumble with apples.

I have eaten at a lot of local venues who have high tea and I think this is definitely one of the better ones. Something things were too sweet for me but that didn’t matter because they were constantly re-filling the hot savouries (as well as everything else). My favourites of the afternoon- spinach and cheese pastries, bread and butter pudding with berries and the trifle.

We have been to several high teas where my vegan has had to pay full price and was basically given vegetables sticks in 3 ways, so to see such a wonderful variety was a double plus! The icing on the (vegan) cupcake was that the price was only $28.00 in comparison to the full price $47.00.

Venue: The Tea Lounge @ the Hyatt

Address: 120 Commonwealth Avenue, Canberra

High Tea: From 2:30pm- 5pm daily (Yes we were there for the whole duration and then some) $47.00

Phone: (02) 6269 8815

Vegan friendly

Hyatt Hotel Canberra on Urbanspoon

Thirst Wine Bar & Eatery

——-01/06/2012——-

I was keen to try Thirst wine bar & eatery because it was one of the few restaurants from the Top 20 restaurants in Canberra that I haven’t tried yet.

A beautiful wall mural.

Entrees~

The spring rolls and fish cakes were really nice and came out hot but I thought the prices were crazy ridiculous for Asian entrees.

Vegetarian spring rollsa mixture of grated carrot, bean sprouts, rice noodles and coriander, served with cucumber relish ($11.90) 

Fish cakeswhite fish, chilli paste, kaffir lime leaf, green beans, fried, served with cucumber relish ($12.90)

Main~

Deep fried pork belly with tamarind- fried pork belly, rice noodles, bean shoots, coriander and sticky tamarind sauce ($21.90) The pork was crazily salty even when I paired a tiny amount with lots of noodles. I was really hungry so I finished it but I had to drink a lot of water.

Desserts~

My friends weren’t too hungry but lucky they felt like dessert!

Lime and kaffir lime leaf sorbet ($2.30 per scoop) I was amazed that there was so much flavour in this sorbet, a lovely palette cleanser after all that salt.

Coconut and pandanus custardA rich custard with caramelised sugar top. The custard is enhanced by pandanus extract, is intense in flavour and nutty undertones and a fantastic colour of rich green! ($9.90) An Asian take on a creme brulee? A lovely smooth custard that wasn’t too sweet finished with a lovely caramelised sugar top.

Taro in coconut milk – A fragrant, starchy root vegetable, cooked in coconut milk, topped with sugar, salt and coconut cream ($9.90) A great simple Asian dessert but I wouldn’t expect to be charged so much for it.

I was surprised to see how expensive the entrees and mains were and I don’t care how good your fish cake is, I wouldn’t expect to pay over $3.00 per tiny fish cake. As much as I enjoyed the desserts, I think the only time I’d come back would be Monday or Tuesday where they have 2 for 1 Thai (purchase any dish and get another of equal or lesser price for free, excludes take away).

I saw a couple who ordered 4 entrees, 2 mains and 2 desserts, I would hate to see what their total came to.

Venue: Thirst Wine Bar & Eatery

Address: 20 West Row, Civic, Canberra 

Phone: (02) 6257 0700

Websitehttp://www.thirstwinebar.com.au/

Thirst Wine Bar & Eatery on Urbanspoon

Global cafe and bar

——-30/05/2012——-

I have some work friends who are also keen foodies and we wanted to go out for lunch. We decided against Asian as we had it the last few times and we wanted to try something different, but when you take out Asian it really cuts down on your options.

Ethiopian- we’ve all eaten it and probably have eaten at the same two restaurants: Fekerte’s and Ethiopian Down under. So when I mentioned that I had seen a new (well new to me) Ethiopian restaurant near the Jolimont centre, we quickly google street mapped to stalked down Global cafe and bar.

From the website:

Most traditional Ethiopian curries are mild, so they can be enjoyed by people who like the flavours of exotic spices without the heat. However, extra chilli paste is available on request to those who prefer hot curries.”

We didn’t realise they had a lunch special, it was just a happy coincidence!

A selection of meat curries, lentils and vegetables. You get a choice of rice or Injera an Ethiopian bread. We decided to get rice for the table and everyone gets their own bread.

Vegetarian/Vegan~

Alicha Watsplit yellow peas with garlic, ginger and tumeric.

Vegie tosspan fried cabbage, carrot and green beans.

Duba Wat spiced pumpkin stewed with tomato and burbere sauce.

Kik Watred lentils slowly simmered in a spicy sauce.

Meat/chicken~

Doro Watchicken slowly simmered with tomato, paprika and hard boiled egg.

Key Watbeef hotpot slowly simmered with tomato, paprika and traditional flavours.

Like every other meal, I found it very hard to choose which 3 curries I wanted so the lady who was serving us kindly let us try four.

All the different combinations the table had:

Pumpkin, yellow lentils, beef and chicken curry.

Red lentils, vegie toss, chicken and beef curry.

Chicken, beef, pumpkin and red lentils.

Red and yellow lentils with a chicken and beef curry.

A chilli paste that I was not daring enough to try.

Some Iced tea to wash it all down.

Service was very casual and friendly and with everything already cooked you can have a cheap fast lunch here with little effort. The curries were somewhat flavoursome and it was great to see such a variety in flavours but not working in the city and having to find a car park,  I don’t think it was that fantastic that I would come out of my way to eat here again, even if it is $8.00 for the lunch special.

Venue: Global cafe and bar

Address: 63 Northbourne Avenue, Canberra City

Phone: (02) 6247 4104

Opening hours:

Lunch Monday to Friday: 11am – 3pm

Dinner Monday to Friday: 5pm – 8pm

Delicious vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options also available

Global cafe and bar on Urbanspoon

Bellissima!

——-26/05/2012——-

Another food porn post. A cousin was hosting a celebration for her 30th (the new 20) birthday and with so many people she thought she’d keep it simple with an Italian theme. I didn’t cook anything, merely just an eater that night but I did bring some ice-cream and a fabulous cake by Frugii to share.

Spoilt for choice between lasagna, artichoke vegetable bake, spinach and ricotta cannelloni and a chicken and pea risotto. I decided other dishes would be jealous if I left them off my plate so a bit of everything for me. 

Just when everyone thought they were already bordering on full, the pizzas come out. Lucky I had enough room! Vegetarian, ham and pineapple and supreme.

And the essential sides of some greens and of course parmesan cheese!

Desserts~

Early grey sorbet and of course everyone’s favourite Salted butter caramel ($12.00 each tub). The sorbet had an unexpected citrus tang afterwards and was really cold and refreshing, probably not the best dessert to have during Winter but it provided a nice palette cleanser between courses. SBC always a favourite with the salt to accentuation the sweetness of the beautiful caramel taste.

Earl grey sorbet

A French torte with a bottom layer of almond dacquiose, dark chocolate mousse with suspended candied hazelnuts and within that is a window of crème patissiere with macerated brandied fruits finished with a chocolate glaze ($55.00).

Sorry about the cross section photo, we were all so keen to try the cake we were too busy serving it rather than keeping it upright and pretty. Surprisingly not crazily sweet despite all the sweet components. I also found it very light with dacquiose, mousse and the crème patissiere and could have eaten another slice but there were other sweets to be had!

A warm ooey gooey perfect Winter warmer, I can’t remember the name of the cake though but I should get the recipe.

Boterkoeka traditional Dutch buttercake.

Profiterole cake 

A perfect way to spend the evening- plenty of cake, delicious food and fantastic company.  

Chong Co re-run

——-25/05/2012——-

Well when I said that I have to come back and try more food, I didn’t think I’d be back so soon! This time we were skipping the lunch menu and browsing through the main menu to try their curries and stir fries.

Entree~

Mixed entreefish cake, spring roll and curry puff ($10.90). The fish cake was my favourite, it had a bit of a bite to it and might be the best fish cake I’ve ever eaten.

Mains~

Beef Massaman curry made from special massaman curry paste cooked with coconut milk, onion, potato topped with peanut and coriander ($19.90) I found this curry sweet which I thought was odd and even though the beef pieces were tender, it was basically two huge chunks of beef in this dish.

Gang phed ped yang roasted duck with red curry paste, coconut milk, lychee, cherry tomato, pineapple and mixed vegetables ($20.90) I thought the combination of curry with sweet fruit like lychee and pineapple would be weird but it actually goes well together. 

Beef with chilli basil sauce– stir fried with chilli, basil leaves and mixed vegetables ($18.90) This dish was very flavoursome and might be the best dish on the table despite the tough beef.

Penang chicken curry Thai style curry with thick coconut milk, green beans topped with kaffir lime leaves and crushed peanut ($18.90) Another sweet curry and a bit disappointing.

I don’t know if I’m completely keen on this restaurant, some of the dishes were great but nothing to make it stand out in comparison to other Thai restaurants and I thought some dishes were overpriced.

A sweet treat from a sweet friend

——-22/05/2012——-

This is more a food porn post. A sweet friend invited me over for a morning tea that she was hosting the day of my birthday and she put out an impressive spread with a nice variety of sweet and savoury and most things were homemade- how lovely!

She made awesome dips and she was nice enough to give me some recipes!

Liptauer Dip

Process 60g softened butter and 250g cream cheese with 1 small onion, 3 anchovies, 8 cornichons and paprika, capers and caraway seeds to taste.

Herbed- ricotta spread

Combine 400g ricotta with 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese and finely chopped black olives, chives and fresh thyme

A close up of the impressive serving dish with cheese balls with three coatings.

A delicious moist (Italian?) orange cake– Mmmm I should get the recipe for this. What cute paper!

Thanks for hosting Christine, I had a tasty time.  

Happy birthday Thai you

——-22/05/2012——-

During my month of celebrating birthday festivities, on the actual day my friends were nice enough to whisk me away from work for a short lunch. We had been meaning to try Chong Co Thai restaurant and bar for a while now and with such convenient parking, one wonders why we didn’t come sooner.

Two menus– the usual menu and an express lunch menu offering quick noodles with a simple 3 step selection process.

A nicely decorated interior.

A short time later after ordering…

Pad kee maostir fried thick rice noodle with egg, chilli, basil leaves and mixed vegetables with chicken ($12.90). Hot and delicious with a nice chilli bite.

Pad see ew stir fried thick rice noodle with egg, sweet soy sauce and mixed vegetables with beef ($12.90) I thought they were small portions but came out nice and hot just the way I like my noodles. 

Lunch didn’t last very long so we stayed a little while with a cup of tea.

I haven’t fully made up my mind about the restaurant yet. The food came out promptly and hot despite a busy lunch time service and as tasty the noodles were I expect more for $13.00, especially when I can (and often do) go down the road I can get a massive bowl of noodles and two pork chops for $12.50. I’ll have to come back again and try something else.

Venue: Chong Co Thai restaurant and bar

Address: 327A Westfield Belconnen, Lathlain Street, Belconnen ACT 2617 (along the same stretch of road near Cold Rock Nandos etc.

Phone: (02) 6251 9962

Opening hours: 7 days week: 11.00am – 10.00pm

Chong Co Thai Bar and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Laos food festival

——-19/05/2012——-

I mentioned before that the Lao food fair was on in May this year and I was keen to go with my Lao friend so she could explain all the delicious things I was eating.  The temple holds an annual fundraising food festival with countless volunteers doing days of preparation before to get the occasion running smoothly.

It was really well organised, you purchase money tokens in denominations of $1, $2, $5 and $10, so vendors didn’t have to deal with money exchange and giving change etc. Conveniently most things were $1, $2 or $5.  With so many things to choose from I didn’t know what to eat, but I ended up trying one of almost everything. 

Saku Yutsai ($5.00) basically a crispy wrapped around tasty prawns, worth dipping into the sauce for more flavour.

Chicken Laksa – maybe not the most convenient thing to eat with limited seating with tables but it didn’t disappoint those who persevered.

Lao sausages ($2.00) The woman at the stand who was cooking the sausages was a very good sales person guaranteeing that if I tried one I would love it. She wasn’t wrong, three of these sausages later I was feeling fat and sassy.

Freshly cooked sticky rice – Traditionally eaten with your fingers, sticky rice went with everything, curries, laab and especially the laos sausages, I think that is what made me so full!

Coconut Puddings ($5.00) These were like little sticky gelatinous balls with a strong flavour of coconut milk.

Laab chicken and beef – A lot of effort goes into making laab, so much easier buying it than making it yourself! I preferred chicken over beef.

Vegetable tempura – A variety of vegetables fried in a light batter.

Chicken Satay ($2.00)

What’s an Asian event without spring rolls!

Phat thai ($5.00) My friend ate a box before and said her noodles were a bit uncooked, I was lucky enough to get the next batch which was better.

Bread sticks similar to Chinese yau ja gwai but shorter.

Cassava dessert with coconut – chewy and gelatinous with most of its flavour coming from the shaved coconut.

Paw Paw salad – I ate the tiniest bit as all my friends love chilli food, that tiny bit was enough for me  

Chicken curry

Dried beef ($5.00)– I’ve never had jerky but I’d imagine it would taste similar.

Roti with condensed milk – now we’re talking! I don’t eat that many sweets but if there’s condensed milk I’m there!

Sticky rice balls

Fish cakes

Something to drinkIced coffee drinks or young coconut juice with pulp on sale.

As full as I was, I couldn’t turn down the offer to eat an odd looking white corn. It’s nothing like the yellow sweet corn I’m used to eating, each kernel is like eating a ‘heavy’ gelatinous ball. Not that much in the way of taste but it made my mouth very tired from chewing and me very full. 

It was a lovely day to be outside soaking up some sun and eating great food. The event was well prepared and had mats around the grass area to create lots of space to eat and be merry.

With a combination of traditional food, music as well as dance, the festival allowed a glimpse into the Lao community and their culture. The great thing about the event is that it’s not restaurants who come out and make money, it is an event run by hard working volunteers who hand/home make these complex dishes and all for a good cause with all money raised going towards the temple. If you didn’t finish the food tokens you purchased you could refund them or put in as an extra donation to the temple.

I’m already looking forward to the 2013 festival!