I love it when you see a smile and it sets off a chain reaction. Super cute latte from #projectorigin
#cbr #canberra #food #foodie #coffee #localscan

20140731-131501-47701839.jpg

Advertisements

The Wedding Collection – The National Gallery of Australia

I hadn’t considered The National Gallery of Australia for wedding venue and I can’t remember exactly what I was browsing that made me think to go to the website to enquire for a tour of the space and eventually a food tasting but I remember it hit me like a eureka moment. I was very impressed with the photos that I had seen on their website and I couldn’t wait to see the space in person.

It was the very last tasting out of the venues we were looking into and the Event Manager Vince Azzopardi said that we were saving the best til last and I was hoping he was right. I wanted the tastings to get better and better and what we have tried so far had been pretty fantastic.

The very beautiful Gandel Hall with exquisitely detailed with gold-leaf doors and red ironbark floors.20140503-121113.jpgI thought the set up for the tasting was a bit odd with Vince joining us in tasting the food, but maybe it is one of the perks of his job (that would be awesome!). A table was set up all with wine glasses and white linen in the beautiful Gandel Hall. I felt bad when I had to explain that TimmyC and I don’t drink wine then someone swooped in and cleared the glasses away while filling up our glasses with sparkling water to which I had to turn and explain that we didn’t drink sparkling water either with an apologetic look on my face. We are but simple people… When it comes to beverages. 😉

The head chef of The Big Group company Mickael Renou, brought out our dishes and explained how he prepared each dish. There was a lot of slow cooking processes and thought to compliment the flavours of each dish. He had a lovely French accent and although I might not have understood everything, I liked listening to him speak *giggle*.

There was something else that I didn’t expect. Each of us received a smaller version of each of the course and placed in the middle was the full-sized portion of each option which we also got to eat. Needless to say with TimmyC barely pulling his weight, I was getting a bit full after eating 2.5 courses times two.

We chose from Autumn/Winter dinner menu.

Entree~
Salmon and prawn raviolo with caramelised fennel, wilted spinach, lobster oil and sorrel.  After trying to get the perfect shot of the beautiful food, it was no surprise that my raviolo was cold. There would be a very small window where this would remain hot to warm. By itself, the raviolo was okay but it came to life when I rubbed it in the lobster oil. For me the edges of the pasta were a tad too thick if I was nit picking but TimmyC really enjoyed it.
20140503-123115.jpg
Soy roasted pork belly with salted pork crackle, apple and celeriac puree, Bok Choy slaw, veal jus. When I ate my smaller portion I didn’t really get a soy flavour, it wasn’t until I ate the full-sized portion did I taste it. I liked the little crackle hat that was extremely crunchy and the puree complimented the protein flavours really well. The bigger portion of pork was very thick and meaty but was very tender and moist.
20140503-123055.jpg
 Our individual portions were plated really nicely.20140503-123044.jpg
The full-sized portion of the pork belly. I thought the sauce plating was a bit messy but was probably could not be helped with the runny nature of the sauce.20140503-123132.jpg
 A close up of the tender pork.20140503-123523.jpg The full-sized portion of the raviolo. I thought the sauce plating was a bit messy in comparison to the individual plated portions.20140503-123143.jpg
Mains~
Roast fillet of beef with a burnt carrot purée, potato terrine, caramelised shallots and sauce bordelaise (GF). Beef is a real crowd pleaser at weddings so we couldn’t go past choosing this dish to see how they would execute it and let me just say, it was wonderful. The meat was cooked very well and for someone who doesn’t love carrots, I really loved the burnt carrot puree. The potato terrine was probably a tad dry but I smothered it in the sauce to make up for it. The sweetness of the puree and caramelised shallots just enhanced the salty beef flavours.
20140503-125020.jpg
Our individual plated ports of our main course.
20140503-124102.jpg
Roast duck breast and confit leg with sweet potato Skordalia, green beans and Honey jus (GF). I was going to town with these purees and mashes! If I don’t love carrots but I loved their puree, just imagine the excitement in my eyes when I placed a mouthful of sweet potato (which I love) in my mouth which just had a tad bit of citrus. Mmmmm! The duck was okay, not the best I’ve had. I much preferred the confit duck leg over the breast which I found chewier and had less duck flavour.20140503-125030.jpgSuch a sexy leg!20140503-125133.jpg A close up of the very intense and rich sweet potato puree. I couldn’t fit any more of my meal in because I was getting full fast and I felt bad for the other guys having to wait so long for me to finish but I tried to eat as much of the mash as I could.20140503-123927.jpg
Dessert canapes~
When these came out I thought they were absolutely adorable!!! We were introduced to the pastry chef but I didn’t really catch his name but I think he did a fabulous job with these.
I love the beautiful slate tiles that the canapes were served on.
20140503-125152.jpg
 Buttermilk Bavarois, slow roasted plum and toasted almond (GF). This was ridiculously delicate and I’m not a huge fan of stone fruit in my dessert but it went together perfectly! The toasted almonds gave it an extra dimension in texture and flavour. This is my favourite pick out of the dessert canapes.
20140503-125207.jpg
Chocolate dipped peanut butter semi freddo. You couldn’t hold this for too long before the chocolate would start melting on your fingers but the delicious flavours of peanut butter and chocolate going so well together, I doubt that anyone will have time for that to happen. The perfect subtle taste of peanut butter meant that it wasn’t overwhelming and sticky on your palette.20140503-125226.jpgPistachio crème brûlée with a Gianduja biscuit. Believe it or not, this little beauty had a little ‘toffee hat’ that I love in brulees. It was the cutest little morsel I’ve ever had as a dessert, it made my body spasm with excitement and it took me a while to bring myself to eat it. I love how they have developed this much-loved dessert into a canape. The texture was silky smooth but I thought that the flavours of pistachio paste was too intense for my liking.20140503-125236.jpgA close up to the inside of the brulee.20140503-125404.jpg
The Big Group have been catering for the National Gallery since November 2012 and I’ve seen some amazing set ups for functions throughout the year including the pop-up Wedgwood Tea Room and Mother’s day high teas.

Potential wedding venue: National Gallery of Australia

Caterer: The Big Group

Time of tasting: 1pm

Price of tasting: $120.00 pp.

Up 2 U Chinese restaurant

I love eating at new and exciting places, I love staying up late and I love myself some steam boat, so when my friend said that she wanted to celebrate her birthday at the Up 2 U restaurant in Belconnen, I was super excited! She asked if would I wanted to eat at a 9:30pm or midnight, I opted for the earlier time slot as I thought everyone else would fall asleep in their food if we went at midnight. 😛

I never knew that there was a whole other world behind the Boardwalk in Belconnen facing towards the lake, luckily I had read the review from In the Taratory about this place, otherwise I would have thought my friends were taking me to a quiet dark place to ditch my body by the lake. The signs for the restaurants were sketchy and hand written but I assure you that there is a restaurant behind that fogged up glass.

This restaurant could easily be mistaken for a European bath house as all the steam condenses on the cold glass doors.20140716-192525-69925521.jpgVery dodgy looking signage around the place but they all point you to the right direction of the restaurant that is tucked away at the end of the Boardwalk.20140716-192526-69926984.jpg20140716-192529-69929995.jpgI was really excited about eating here and couldn’t help but eat from the three categories that this restaurant offers: BBQ, hot pot and clay pot rice. I ordered chicken skewers immediately upon arriving as we wait for the birthday girl so I wasn’t tempted to start eating my friends.

BBQ~

It should be no surprise that I ordered this. The chicken wings were met with lots of enthusiasm between being hungry at such a late time and feeling the cool draft blowing from the doors, although the waitress didn’t quite understand me as I wanted 4 serves but she only gave us 4 skewers (2 per serve for $5). The chicken wings had slits cut into them to ensure thorough cooking. They were served hot and crispy (maybe marinated with curry powder?), I didn’t leave any meat to waste. It was very tasty and we ordered more when the birthday girl arrived. 20140716-192613-69973808.jpgCantonese Clay Pot Rice~ “The making of clay pot rice is quite simple. Put the rice into the clay pot after washing it. Add appropriate (amount) of water and close the lid; cook the rice until it is 70% done; add in all the ingredients and simmer the clay pot with a slow fire”.

I love clay pot rice, it was one of my ‘must eats’ before I left Hong Kong during my last trip. I was tempted to order three of the same thing but I thought variety is the spice of life so I chose another two flavours that generally appeal to everyone’s taste buds. I enjoyed all of them overall, this restaurant is the best (and only?) place to get a clay pot rice around in Canberra. They take around 20-30 minutes to cook which we were happy to wait for.

Spare rib with black bean sauces with Cantonese clay pot rice ($13.80). This is always my number one pick when I eat clay pot rice and was probably my favourite pick of the night if I had to choose. All the meat juices flowed through the rice and each clay pot had the crunchy rice stuck around to the sides and bottom which is my favourite part to eat.20140716-192620-69980354.jpgSteamed chicken and mushroom with Cantonese clay pot rice ($13.80).20140716-192615-69975180.jpgSteamed beef with oyster sauce with Cantonese clay pot rice ($13.80).20140716-192616-69976832.jpgHotpot~ 

This is what my friend’s have dubbed ‘Asian fondue’. A little easier not to lose your food with individual hot pots and is an easy quirky way to have dinner with friends. Firstly you choose a soup base, then a variety of thinly sliced meat, noodles, protein balls and seafood with an ‘all you can eat’ vegetable table and cook it all in the pot. When the meat is done it will change colour, the protein balls are done when they have expanded and floated to the top and the vegetables and noodles can be cooked to your liking. There is a lot of control of how your meal is done and that is probably why they have named the restaurant ‘Up 2 U’. The lunchtime specials menu stipulates ‘please don’t waste food. Extra change will be applied!’.20140716-192553-69953924.jpgIndividual pots also mean that people don’t take all the food I put in which is what usually happens when I’m at home with my family.20140716-192555-69955303.jpgWhen the birthday girl arrived she happily said that she would have the steam boat with me while the other guys were just happy to gorge on the clay pots. We both order pork bones as our soup broth and choose a combination of meat, noodles and seafood. They informed us that they were packing away the ‘all you can eat’ vegetables that is on offer for the steam boat but will bring us a selection of greens and vegetables on a plate. I thought it was odd considering they weren’t theoretically due to close for hours to come but we agreed.

Hot pot for one $25.00 pp or $30.00 pp with free soft drink refills but there is a lunch time special between 11am – 2pm for $15.00 pp.

The hot pot is bubbling away, it is time to start filling it up!20140716-192716-70036001.jpgThere was something wrong with the burner I was sitting at, it only had one setting ‘full ball’ so usually when a hotpot is bubbling away and on the verge of over flowing, you would just turn down the heat but I had to eat as fast as I could or add more things to the pot. Intermittently our pots were refilled with more broth and a the end the soup becomes thicker and full of flavour from all the food you have cooked and I couldn’t help but drink it. It left me feeling very full, warm and content.

A combination of thinly sliced beef, beef balls, fish balls, lobster balls, ox tongue (not for me) and pork balls.20140716-192744-70064587.jpgWe ordered more food, this time with pork, squid and fish. I found the pork meat too fatty so I left it out.20140716-192713-70033120.jpgThe meat is frozen but don’t worry, it quickly defrosts in the hot cauldron.20140716-192710-70030489.jpgA combination of noodles and tofu.20140716-192745-70065888.jpgA random mix of greens and vegetables, I think it would have been better if we could have chosen our own. Maybe next time we’ll come earlier.20140716-192747-70067343.jpgThe restaurant is spacious with seating extended to upstairs but there are drafts coming through the doors which make it very cold at night and the glass is constantly fogged up. I could see how you could lose hours giggling and chatting over a hot pot with friends with a unique dining experience. I would definitely come back soon as I have developed a craving for the clay pot rice as I write this post.20140716-192801-70081180.jpg

20140716-192759-70079827.jpgI love their opening hours. Very handy for those who want something different and with convenient opening hours. We left just before midnight and they had packed up all the vegetables just before we started our hot pots so I don’t know if they closed up for the night after we had left.20140716-192528-69928407.jpgThe staff said that we should feel free to ring ahead for the clay pot rice next time to reduce waiting periods, something I will heavily consider doing.

Venue: Up to You Restaurant

Address: Unit 5, The Boardwalk 114 Emu Bank, Belconnen 2617

Phone: (02) 6253 0440

 

Up 2 U Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Lunch at Palour Wine Room

Knowing that it was an impromptu lunch to fulfill my friend’s craving for pasta, I suggested that we go early to Parlour Wine Room as we didn’t have a booking. We arrived just before midday and were limited to a few tables which filled up quickly with other ‘walk in’ patrons, we were lucky as during the lunch service we saw several people get turned away due to lack of space.

We were partially going to the Parlour Wine Room to take advantage of the lunch special of a drink (soft drink or house wine) and a meal for $16 but we were really there to taste the food so that’s why we couldn’t help ourselves but to order something extra with our meal.

We were quickly set up with table water, lunch specials menu, normal menu and a drinks menu when we were seated.20140712-201529-72929114.jpgI love their funky cutlery and choice of lunch specials. I love myself a croque monsieur but it was definitely a soup weather kind of day.20140712-201530-72930545.jpgToo pretty to eat off but when the food came, I was more than happy to make a mess on top. 😀20140712-201531-72931957.jpgI love the unique lounge seating they had all over the place. The tables are often moved around to accommodate for large bookings etc and whilst also being round and small, I would find it squishy to sit with a large group.20140712-202000-73200425.jpg20140712-202001-73201959.jpgThe whole venue was centred around the bar area like a wine room should be.20140712-202003-73203602.jpgSoup of the day~

Creamy cauliflower ($10.00). My eyes widen when I saw my soup portion. Luckily I had ordered something ‘lighter’ for my main. This soup was unbelievably velvety smooth and full of flavour while the condiments helped add to the texture and salty levels. I could drink this soup all day! Unfortunately it was the soup of the day so who knows when it will come back on the menu, but I look forward to it. In anticipation of more food yet to come, I offered my bread and oil to my friend who happily dipped it amongst her prawns. She really liked the bread and I could only assume it came from A. Baker as it is so close.20140712-202418-73458689.jpgThe soup was also served with bread and dipping oil.20140712-202417-73457366.jpgTapas plates~

Prawns, garlic chips, chilli ($17.00). I couldn’t taste much chilli and the prawns were borderline too salty but when paired with the oil and the bread it balanced out. It is sad to only expect four prawns despite paying $17.00 for the dish, but it is what I have come to expect from the pricey New Acton area.20140712-202232-73352519.jpg 20140712-202229-73349600.jpgLunch special~

Drinks (house wine or soft drinks): house red and lemon lime bitters. We weren’t told what the house red was but my friend really enjoyed it and said it was heavy and full bodied.20140712-202228-73348258.jpgPappardelle pasta, pork belly, sofrito ($16.00 paired with a drink). The pasta was cooked perfectly with the chunks of pork being really tender in a very rich tomato sauce. It was not an overly large portion and would have been perfectly paired with something sweet, I was almost tempted but I was on a strict time schedule so we couldn’t squeeze it in. Lucky we ordered the extra entrees 😉 20140712-202420-73460060.jpgBattered calamari, chipotle aioli, pickled cucumber ($16.00 paired with a drink). The salad was nice enough, presented well in a shallow bowl and I also really liked the sauce. The calamari was not stringy and chewy but nicely battered and tender. The salad greens were fresh and crisp but I felt the whole thing was ruined by someone who was a bit vigorous with the paprika. It was everywhere and often the dominating flavour. I tried to shake off as much as I could but it was still there.20140712-202530-73530266.jpgAs much as I tried, I couldn’t shake the paprika off my salad.20140712-202531-73531614.jpgDespite being busy, I felt that we were well looked after by the staff. I would definitely come back and try more things from the lunch specials, but I probably wouldn’t order the calamari salad again. If anyone sees the cauliflower soup back on the menu, let me know!

Venue: Parlour Wine Room

Address: 16 Kendall Lane, Newacton Pavilion, Canberra ACT 2601

Phone: (02) 6257 7325

Website: http://www.parlour.net.au/

Parlour Wine Room on Urbanspoon

Read about it and it will come! Was reading about eclairs this morning and then my lovely friends bought one over in the afternoon. I have started to look at croquembouches if anyone wants to know 😜 #wishfulthinking #cbr #canberra #eclair #mealforameal #food #foodie #foodblog #autolyse

20140726-175615-64575157.jpg

Breakfast at Monster

Monster wasn’t my first choice for breakfast but it provided good opening times with a convenient location. Luckily we didn’t need a reservation that Sunday morning.

I was impressed that the waiter took our breakfast order as well as our drinks without putting pen to paper but then I was less impressed when he had to come back and re-ask for our order again. Things were a bit slow and I had to prompt service to give us menus, more water etc but that was because we had to leave in just over an hour.

Gluten free muesli, winter fruit ($11.00). I love the beautiful colours that are in this dish.20140712-203755-74275164.jpgEggs any way on gluten free toast ($10.00) with mushrooms ($7.00). I thought you would get a few more extra mushrooms for a $7 side.20140712-203756-74276548.jpgHome made crumpets with Hotel Hotel honey (hive #9) ($11.00). I thought it was super cute that they used the honey from their hive. Their homemade crumpets were true to a crumpet texture and when lathered in butter, I thought it was much tastier than mine even though it is a humble menu choice.20140712-203757-74277841.jpg65° egg, sweet corn, polenta, chorizo ($17.00). I disregarded all the parsley, it just got in my way without adding anything to the dish. There was a strong taste of sweet corn which I liked but I wasn’t that fond of the chorizo. I didn’t see the $17.00 value in this small serving. 20140712-203759-74279166.jpgBreakfast and drinks for four people came to $70.00. We also ordered another coffee which never came but we weren’t charged for it.

I didn’t think that there was anything spectacular about breakfast and I probably wouldn’t come here again for it, but I would come back for late night tapas.

See my previous Monster dinner experience here.

Joe’s Thai Food

I’ve started to develop an addiction to Joe’s Thai food, I’m going to make a bold statement and say they have one of the best stir fried noodles in Canberra. I had snuck in a tasty takeaway previously, but this blog post is about when I went to dine there with some friends and family.

Joe’s Thai Food is a wonderful addition to the Wanniassa shops.20140712-195306-71586341.jpgA fully booked out restaurant is just another night at Joe’s Thai and they do plenty of takeaways too.20140712-195309-71589180.jpgI love the origami lotus flower napkins they fold for every plate.20140712-200235-72155308.jpg Entree~

Tom Yum Goong traditional Thai hot and sour soup with prawns ($8.00). Each of us who tasted the soup all had different sharp initial tastes: sweet, sour or salty. I think the flavours of the soup are too strong but the prawns were really nice and big.20140712-195310-71590640.jpg Tod Mun Pla Thai fish cakes (4 per serve $7.00). I didn’t get to taste one but everyone who did really enjoyed these.20140712-195429-71669729.jpg Peek Gai Tod Thai style marinated fried chicken wings ($6.00). I’ve never seen any restaurant make much of an effort to coat their chicken wings (batter doesn’t count) but here they have coated it in a lovely curry powder and lemon grass *licks lips*.20140712-195431-71671326.jpg Spring rolls vegetarian (4 per serve $6.00).20140712-195428-71668340.jpgMains~

Panang curry traditional Thai thick and rich curry with duck ($18.00). I really enjoyed this curry, it had a bit of a bite to it and the curry itself came with a very generous serve of vegetables and it wasn’t just some sauce and a little bit of protein.20140712-195525-71725795.jpgPad Med Ma Muang Hin Ma Paan cashew nut stir-fry with chicken ($14.00). We ordered this so there was more options for people who didn’t like chili. TimmyC really enjoyed this dish.20140712-195528-71728773.jpgPad Khi Mao the drunken noodle stir-fry with beef ($13.50). Hot stir-fried noodles is my weakness and there was a nice bit of spiciness to the flavour. I could have greedily eaten this all to myself.20140712-200134-72094976.jpgPad Khing ginger and shallot stir-fry with seafood ($16.00). This dish wasn’t as exciting as the others and the mixture of seafood wasn’t particularly appetizing, although the calamari was stupidly soft and tender. I did enjoy the flavours of ginger and shallots, I think this would have been better if it was served with chicken.20140712-200136-72096460.jpgChef’s Special~

Stuffed eggplant with chicken mince and seafood ($18.00). Everyone really enjoyed this dish. The eggplant was cooked well although you couldn’t distinguish the flavours of what it was stuffed with and it was all drizzled in a lovely savoury sauce.20140712-195524-71724393.jpgThai crispy snapper with special topping with mango salad ($32.00). My friend rang ahead and made sure this was available that night. It is highly recommended that you order this if there is more than two people as the serving is HUUGE. The fish fillets are removed, battered and fried before being placed back on the fish frame and topped with a green mango salad that is slightly (chili) hot. I would also love to try this with ginger and shallots.20140712-200139-72099115.jpgA close up of the beautiful shredded topping.20140712-200137-72097800.jpgDessert~ I really wanted to try a more Asian dessert but they ran out of the green tea cupcake and that is what I really wanted to try.

Plain ice-cream a generous scoop of vanilla ice-cream with caramel topping ($5.00). It really was a  generous serving even though you can’t really tell in the photo, but there was a LOT of ice-cream.20140712-200232-72152663.jpgThey also gave us complimentary oranges.20140712-200231-72151217.jpgCrispy banana fritters served with ice-cream with a choice of topping ($8.00). The fritter was nice and crispy. I shared my dessert and even between us, we still couldn’t finish the large amount of ice-cream that was served with it. Nothing special about this dessert but it was made really well.20140712-200233-72153994.jpgThe service was very friendly although they did need some prompting for more water or tea. Joe himself came out to say hello, he was also very friendly and was happy to share his secret to delicious chicken wings.

I really enjoyed the food here and the menu items seem genuinely authentic. It’s nice to have a decent Thai restaurant on the South side!

 

Venue: Joe’s Thai Food

Address: Wanniassa Shopping Centre, Shop 20 Sangster Pl Wanniassa, ACT 

Phone: 02 6231 9100

Joe's Thai Food on Urbanspoon