All You Can Eat

When you mention ‘all you can eat’, most people would think of the the dodgy looking Family Food Court upstairs in Dickson (which is now closed) or the Star Buffet down in Kambah, but there is more that Canberra can offer.

See below for more all you can eat options.

Kusina 

Monday Madness 5pm – 9pm ( $24.00 pp). Choose one of the platters or better still go with someone else to get a chance to eat a bit of everything, just finish your platter before ordering more. Monday Madness is served with unlimited papaya salad, rice and soft drink.

Grilled platter grilled pork belly marinated with sweet BBQ sauce + grilled chicken marinated lemongrass, ginger, garlic, soy

or

Fry up platter crispy chicken wings + crispy pork bellyUntitled.png


Park Hyatt Canberra Afternoon Tea ($59.00pp)

Enjoy the famous afternoon tea buffet during Friday (2:30pm to 5:00pm), Saturday and Sunday (11:00am to 1:30pm and 2:30pm to 5:00pm) at the Park Hyatt. They have an array of savouries, finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones, a selection of tempting cakes and slices and includes a glass of Lerida Estate Zenzi sparkling wine.


The Promenade Cafe

This is one I’ve haven’t tried yet but they have a breakfast buffet, seafood buffet and a BBQ and roast buffet! This is the information I found on their website.

Breakfast
Daily Full Buffet ($39.00pp)

Lunch
Saturday Full Seafood Buffet with antipasto, hot and grand desserts ($75.00pp)

Sunday BBQ and Roast Buffet with bountiful seafood, soup of the day with fresh bread, live cooking stations, gourmet salads and selections of antipasto, hot buffet dishes, farmhouse cheeses and decadent desserts ($85.00pp for cuisine only or $115.00pp inclusive of unlimited beverages for 2 hours that includes Australian sparkling, white and red wine, draught beer & soft drink).

Dinner
Wednesday – Sunday  Full Seafood Buffet with antipasto, hot and grand dessert ($75.00pp)


Up 2 U ($25.00pp)

During the cold winter nights, you can warm up with a personal steam boat with your friends at Up 2 U in Belconnen. There is a large range of meat, noodles, vegetables, seafood options and condiments.

If ‘all you can eat’ hot pot isn’t for you, you can also order their delicious claypot rice or BBQed skewers.


Eightysix ($86.00pp)

That’s right, you can get all you can eat at a fancy pants trendy restaurant. Apparently no disclaimers, just let them know you’re ordering the all you can eat menu, order until your heart/stomach’s content and try and be out before the next seating (usually two hours). We greedily ordered all their desserts because we could!

Their pasta range is A-MA-ZING! Read my latest visit here.

 

There is a huge variety in the ‘all you can eat’ sector from sweets to Asian to modern Australian, all with a varying price tag. Which one will you be trying?

 

 

 

Wedgwood Tea Room

After having our lovely wedding reception in the beautiful Gandel Hall at the National Gallery of Australia, our event manager Kate, was super nice and invited us back for High Tea in their Wedgwood Tea Room because she knew how much we love our food. We arrived at the gallery and then clearly had no idea where the high tea was held until we asked someone and was directed to the Level 2 Mezzanine, apparently this space has only recently been open to the public. When we arrived we were greeted by a friendly face and seated by the window which looked over the gallery’s sculpture garden.

We dined as guests of the gallery but all day Wedgwood High Tea is $43.00 per person, there are also lunch options: the Farmhouse Board ($25.00 per person) and the Bushman’s Plate ($20.00 per person).

Our tea orders were taken and we were left to admire the view and brush up on our tea etiquette (written in a booklet), not long after our little table with plain white linen was transformed into a high tea feast.Top tier: Dame Nellie Melba’s sublime opera cake; lemon and yoghurt curd tart with toasted meringue; petite peach Melba cake with white peach buttercream; jam drop shortbread tarts with lavender sugar.Bottom tier: soft mini brioche with cured salmon, dill creme and mustard leaves; ribbon sandwiches with citrus poached chicken and herb mayonnaise; ribbon sandwiches with cucumber, lime sour cream and fresh mint; mini asparagus, leek, and melted gruyere tartSeparate plate: freshly baked buttermilk scones with local berry preserve and double creamMy favourite picks were the chicken sandwiches and the opera cake but above all else, I fell in love with the Wedgwood china. For me, a lot of the high tea vibe comes from the atmosphere and the crockery (I’m a massive homewares fan) and I found the Wedgwood pieces were stunning. Each piece caught my eye because I liked the detail in the patterns and also liked how nothing matched. My tea cup pattern was perfectly named the ‘queen of hearts’.

We couldn’t leave without buying gift vouchers for some special people and the vouchers themselves had the beautiful blue flower pattern.

Venue: Wedgwood Tea Room

Address:  Level 2 Mezzanine, National Gallery of Australia, Parkes Place, Parkes, Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: If you would like to book for high tea or lunch at the Wedgwood Tea Room without purchasing an exhibition package please call (02) 6240 6711.

Opening hours: (until 28th March 2016)

High tea at the Wedgwood Tea Room
  • High tea is served 10.00am – 4.30pm daily
Lunch at the Wedgwood Tea Room
  • Lunch is served 12noon – 2.00pm daily

Enlighten Festival – Night Noodle Markets re-run

With only two nights of the Enlighten festival left and three more nights of the Night Noodle markets, if you haven’t been there yet I’d suggest you get there soon. Gates open at 5pm weeknights and 4pm weekends for the Night Noodle Markets and while everyone is munching on food, we are happily reminded about Enlighten when projections turn on promptly at 8pm. After my first run through with the Night Noodle Markets, I was back to deal with business as it was my last chance to go before they all packed up and left for the year.

Roti road was my first stop as I was disappointed on missing out the first time around. The line was relatively short although this might have been because I compared it to the super long long long line next door for N2 gelato. There are two lines for Roti Road though (a common motif at these markets I believe), one for ordering and paying and one for collection. I was trying to out smart the system by getting TimmyC to line up in the pick up line first but with sequential ticketing system it didn’t matter, we ended up waiting to the side until our number was called.

I was disappointed to find no roti at Roti Road but proceeded to buy all their food menu items anyway. Malaysian BBQ chicken wings ($10.00 for three) and Ayam Percik (spicy BBQ chicken $10.00 for two). I really liked both and although the chicken wings are on the smaller side they have a beautiful sticky glaze to them. I really liked their chicken skewers, it stands out from the rest of the other stalls as they have a thick not too hot sauce on them that we kept re-dipping our chicken into as the sauce dripped into the tray.IMG_0459

IMG_0462From there we divided and conquered. I bee lined straight for my favourite Hoy Pinoy BBQed skewers as everyone proceeded to meet me in the line with lots of plates of food. Needless to say, Hoy Pinoy had one of the longest lines but for good reason and thankfully everyone agreed when I finally met them at the picnic area with a bouquet of pork skewers with a banana ketchup glaze (2 for $10.00 they ran out of chicken ones) .IMG_0480The line was long, but my stomach knew what it wanted: Hoy Pinoy skewers!IMG_0477Hoy Pinoy workers cooking away as we wait patiently in line.IMG_0479TimmyC came back with a plate of mini pancakes, they didn’t have ice-cream but the whipped cream and maple syrup did just fine. They are bigger and had more of a crispyness compared to the Dutch mini pancakes that you would find at the multicultural festival. He said that the line was relatively short and they were worth going to. I think I got two out of the 12 pancakes on the plate, they went fast.IMG_0466My other friends had headed for SpanThai and came back with:

Chicken and chorizo paella ($15.00). To me this tasted like yellowed coloured rice until I had a bite with chicken. IMG_0470Vegetarian pad see ew. This didn’t look like much but it tasted nicer than it looked.IMG_0472Mango with sticky rice ($13.00). I really liked this and not many people would be used to sticky rice but I liked the coconut flavours they had put in the rice and the mango tasted sweet and fresh. The sticky rice was a bit glutinous to break apart with just a plastic spork.IMG_0471The lines were waaaay too long for me to go back to N2 gelato so we all went to Braddon for Frugii.IMG_0488

I really also wanted to try let’s do yum cha but I was told that everything tasted like frozen store bought stuff.
I hope the lines aren’t too bad when you go and you get to try what you want to eat. After the success of this year’s Night Noodle Markets, maybe it will be bigger next year?

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Use your noodle!

I have always been disappointed with the food choices when the beautiful Enlighten festival comes to Canberra. It always reminds me of the over priced, mediocre food that you would find at Floriade, but one event at a time.

This year, the Night Noodle Markets presented by Citi will coincide with the Enlighten Festival, bringing with it a whole lot of yummy food from interstate as well as some Canberra locals including Morks and Thirst Thai. I have finally found the list of vendors who will have a stall at Canberra’s first Night Noodle Market.

You’re welcome 😉

Restaurants at Enlighten Night Noodle Markets

 

Business Name

Cuisine Style

Spanthai Thai
Zagyoza Japanese
Teppanyaki Noodles Japanese
Shallot Thai Thai
Bao Stop Bao
Let’s Do Yum Cha Dumplings
Let’s Do Yum Cha – Trailer Dumplings
Hoy Pinoy Filipino
Daniel San Japanese
Thainabox – Food Truck Thai
Roti Road Malaysian
Thirst Thai Thai
N2 Extreme Gelato Liquid Nitrogen Gelato
Mini Pancakes Dessert
Morks Thai
Song Laos Cuisine South-east Asian cuisine
Kiyamachi Tei Okonomiyaki

 

 

Get excited Canberra!

Venue: Enlighten Night Noodle Markets

Address: Reconciliation Place, Canberra

Opening times: February 27 to March 8

Mon – Wed 5pm-9pm

Thurs – Fri 5pm-10pm

Sat 4pm-10pm

Sun 4pm-9pm

Choose your own adventure

It is insane how much stuff is coming up in the Nation’s capital! The Pop Up Village opening on Canberra Day which will have businesses including a pop-up cafe, rooftop bar, Vietnamese restaurant, BMX bike shop, French creperie, and gym; Enlighten festival which will have the highly anticipated Night Noodle Markets for the first time (insert crazy excited squeals here); and Canberra Good Food Month which has a fabulous restaurant line up.

First things first though: this weekend.

I don’t know if it was coincidental that so many things are happening this weekend, I would have liked to have had these events spaced a part to give me a chance to get to all of them but I guess there’s always next time.

Lifeline EPIC Book fair Budawang Building, Exhibition Park

Friday 13 February 2015 • 9am – 6pm
Saturday 14 February 2015 • 9am – 5pm (Family Day)
Sunday 15 February 2015 • 10am – 4pm

 

Pialligo Estate Pialligo Estate, 18 Kallaroo Rd, Pialligo ACT 2609

Opening 13th February for dinner

National Multicultural Festival Canberra City

Friday 13 February – Sunday 15 February

 

Ben and Jerry’s Openair Cinema Patrick White Lawns, Parkes

Sunday 18th January – Sunday 22 February 2015

 

Night Market Canberra Realm Park, Burbury Close, Barton

Friday 13 February 2015 from 4pm – 9pm

 
Let’s just hope the rain stays away long enough for me to get a Hungarian deep-fried bread.

Sculpture Garden Pop Up Summer Cafe

I had been kindly invited by The National Gallery of Australia to attend the Media Event with iconic Australian Chef Stephanie Alexander and Director Gerard Vaughan. The Sculpture Garden was opening their Pop Up Summer Cafe in conjunction with the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation with $1 being donated to the foundation from every meal (another reason to come here!).IMG_7050.JPGI thought I was running late but  apparently I was right on time as Stephanie Alexander as well as the glitterati showed up and everyone started taking photos.IMG_7053.JPGI took the opportunity to take a proper photo as the sea of people parted (L-R Gerard Vaughan, Chyka Keebaugh, Stephanie Alexander and Bruce Keebaugh).IMG_7054.JPGIMG_7084.JPGThe lunch menu complete with our favourite Frugii ice-cream for dessert. I don’t understand why the kids should get all the fun!IMG_7061.JPGThey had gorgeous little canapes floating around.

Ham hock terrine with a mango salsa. I love the bamboo boats and the terrine was delightful!IMG_7066.JPG

IMG_7065.JPGI was trying to juggle my drink, my bag and my phone at the same time when these came around. I don’t remember much except that it was some sort of fish on top of a crouton and that it was tasty.IMG_7064.JPGRefreshing lemonade in cutesy jars topped off with a ridiculous cute straw and a wedge of lemon.IMG_7071.JPGThe waiter happily obliged to hold a heavy tray of lemonade still while we all took photos. What do you expect from a foodie crowd?IMG_7067.JPG

IMG_7074.JPGThe staff from the Big Group Catering company who does the catering for the National Gallery planted all the herb boxes in and around the cafe. We are encouraged to utilise the herbs to enhance our meal to our liking. I love mint during summer, don’t mind if I do!IMG_7062.JPGEveryone crowded around as speeches are being made. I stay at the back eating my canapes and drinking my lemonade in true foodie fashion.IMG_7081.JPGThis looks wonderfully colourful. I take a glimpse of the platters going past as our buffet style lunch is being prepared.IMG_7083.JPGLunch is served!IMG_7086.JPGStalker shots of Stephanie Alexander chatting with the gorgeous Amanda Whitley from HerCanberra.IMG_7093.JPGStephanie Alexander doing an interview with Natasha Rudra from The Canberra Times.IMG_7092.JPGThe lunch is a combination of cold meats, fresh colourful vegetables and damper bread.IMG_7097.JPGA close up of my plate, I’m in love with all the colours and whatever they did with that eggplant is fantastic. Everything was fresh and crunchy but I wasn’t a fan of the damper which reminded me more of a scone. The damper I’m used to back at home is fluffy and light.IMG_7099.JPGI didn’t want to be the girl who ate the whole buffet during the Media Event so I was a little conservative, but everyone else went for seconds and by the time this slow eater had finished, most people (and food) had gone. Lucky for me, there were more substantial canapes going around and they were so good!

Semolina gnocchi. I was pleasantly surprised by this as vegetarian options aren’t my forte. I could easily eat a whole bowl of this.

Pulled pork. A beautiful pulled pork with all the juices flowing onto a bed of mashed potato. A comforting style of food that I didn’t expect at a summer pop up cafe but am happy they made it.

Passionfruit mousse with a spearmint consommé  and a vanilla meringue. The vanilla meringue was awesome! I found the passionfruit mousse was sweet with sharp acidic notes that the consommé  helped balance out but once I finished that, I picked some fresh mint leaves to help with the rest. It was ridiculously smooth.

Apple tart. I really liked this; the crunchy parts with the soft apple were spot on.

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Venue: Pop Up Summer Cafe Sculpture Garden Restaurant

Address: National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Garden Parkes Place, Parkes Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: (02) 6240 6660

Opening hours:

Breakfast Weekends 8 – 11am

Lunch Wed – Sun 12 – 3pm

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Enlighten Night Noodle Markets is heading to Canberra

I shared this to my FaceBook page, but for those who missed out on the news:

Enlighten Night Noodle Markets is heading to Canberra

Save the date now for the much anticipated Enlighten Night Noodle Markets, launching in the ACT from February 27 – March 8, 2015. Expect an exciting array of Asian-inspired dishes, themed bars, music and heaps of atmosphere, all amid the spectacle of lights that is Enlighten. Restaurants interested in participating can register here.

Human Flyer – Canberra activities

I don’t see a problem with just eating all day but apparently not everyone can keep up with me so we had to fill in the time between meals. Here are some ideas for activities next time you have visitors.

We took our interstate guest shopping in Civic after brunch before heading out by the lake to catch a Segway tour. We were coincidentally on time to make it to the next tour time but usually you would have to book in advance and come in time for the induction and safety video. A 30 minute tour is $39.00 per person. See more details here.IMG_5773.JPGAfter some lunch, we had the intention to head out to Power Kart Raceway to do some laps but they were so busy that it was quite a wait, so we decided to do something else. We of course stayed long enough to watch some crazy speeding action around the track before we headed to our next stop. See more details about prices and the track here.IMG_5794.JPGI haven’t been to Telstra tower in years despite driving past it almost every day. We headed up to the viewing deck for $7.50 per adult. We didn’t think it would be that windy until we got up there. Somewhere between holding down my dress and trying not to cry from the wind exposure, I took some of these breath-taking shots. The view looks great up there and you can really see how Canberra has grown. See more details about the tower here.IMG_5803.JPG

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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.
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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.
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 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.
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Our individual plated ports of our main course.
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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.
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 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.
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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.

The Wedding Collection – Old Parliament House

With our tasting starting at 2pm this time at Old Parliament House, TimmyC and I had to carefully plan out our meals for the day to ensure that we would be hungry for a three course lunch by then while not having a cranky snappy attitude at work that comes from being hungry.

I had to enquire for Sarah the ‘events coordinator’ at the cafe where I presumed we would be eating. After we were greeted, we were taken to one of the back rooms near the beautiful members lounge that has only recently been open to members of the public. The room was dimly lit with a lot of the light coming from natural sunlight streaming through the doorway. The table was nicely set up with crisp white linen, cutlery for three courses, serving spoons and multiple stacks of plates which we didn’t end up using.


A beautiful day in the Nation’s capital.
20140507-204452.jpgWe were then greeted by Aaron who had previously taken us through the venue during a private viewing as well as during the Old Parliament House bridal expo. He said he would inform the kitchen of our arrival and explained how the chef will coming out to serve each course as well as explain each dish. ‘How lovely’ I whispered to TimmyC.20140507-204500.jpgThe neat and symmetrical ceremony space available for hire at Old Parliament House. It is supposed to be beautiful during Spring with all the roses blooming on the pergola. It is one of the main features that drew me to this venue.20140507-204508.jpgWe were offered beverages but we politely declined and stuck with chilled water. Each course arrived in pairs and instead if being civilized and portioning out each dish to our own plate, TimmyC and I just swapped between the two plates trying both before deciding which dish we would like to end on.

The table all nicely set and we’re ready to go.20140507-204518.jpgEntrees~ The chef Craig introduced himself after presenting us with our entrees, he went into great detail about both dishes and how and why he chose to do the things the way he did. I really enjoyed listening to all the details.

Seared scallop, pumpkin, ginger, fried garlic, bonito crumbs. I’ve never seen scallops this big before. These were apparently Canadian scallops and the chef had chosen them because he believes they are the best scallops you can buy. You could taste the juicy and natural sweetness of the scallops despite the other complimenting ingredients. The pumpkin purée was perfectly smooth although I couldn’t taste the ginger that was supposedly in there. The crispy garlic chips and bonito crumbs added an extra dimension to texture and added the perfect balance of salt.20140507-204532.jpgGrainge beef carpaccio, parmesan, croutons, rocket and snow pea tendrils. I knew I wasn’t going to serve beef carpaccio at my wedding knowing that maybe only 5% or less of the guest list would eat this but I thought during a tasting it would be safe to order to see how they could execute such a dish. TimmyC was unaware that beef carpaccio was thinly sliced raw beef and so he wasn’t too fond of it (he would make up the other 95% of the wedding population) and stuck happily with the scallops. I thought the beef flavour takes a back seat to the salty parmesan cheese, the tasty pure olive oil and capers despite using very high quality of beef. The flavours come together really well and I would happily order this at a restaurant.20140507-204549.jpgA close up of the beautiful components.20140507-204558.jpgMains~ When Craig served our mains, he admitted to us that he loved cooking things in butter and I thought that we could be bestest of friends!

Potato and parmesan gnocchi with wild and cultivated mushroom, spring onion, green asparagus. I am a fan of house made gnocchi, butter AND mushrooms which is why I chose this main. Craig explained the process of how he dried out the potatoes to make the gnocchi before ducking back to the kitchen. These parcels of gnocchi was a lot chewier than what I’m used to. Between the chewiness of the medley of mushrooms and the texture of the pasta, I wasn’t quite sure if I liked it, but the marriage of butter, mushrooms and pasta is always perfect.20140507-215009.jpg20140507-204633.jpgHay smoked Galston chicken breast, corn, confit garlic, baby spinach, rosemary veloute. Frequent readers would know I’m not a fond of ordering chicken as a main so this was clearly TimmyC’s choice. I find serving a tasteless dry piece of breast is too easy to do and I’m disappointed more often than not, but there is always exceptions to the rule and this one was definitely an example of that. Where to start? You could distinctly taste the smokeyness that was the direct result of baking it with smoked hay. The 30 minutes of bathing the chicken in a brine mixture made it moist and juicy. The velouté was amazingly thick rich and had the perfect amount of subtle rosemary. All these key aspects made this THE perfect dish. I was almost ready to put down a deposit right there and then!20140507-204616.jpgIf they could bottle up that veloute I would so buy cases of it!20140507-204626.jpgDesserts~

Mango, blueberry and vanilla ice cream terrine, biscuit and blueberry compote. This terrine seemed simple enough. The flavours worked very well together, it can be made all year round, easy and quick to serve and is a real crowd pleaser but I felt that there wasn’t anything particularly special about it.20140507-204641.jpgCute presentation.20140507-204647.jpgOld Parliament House Signature Cake, Daintree chocolate, praline and raspberry. If you’re going to name something as your ‘signature cake’, I’m going to have high expectations. This 7 layered opera cake uses hazelnut cream rather than the typical coffee butter cream and takes about 3 days to prepare. The chocolate finishing was perfect but I wasn’t too keen on the hazelnut cream and sponge which left me with a sense of dryness that usually comes with stale sponge. The raspberry purée smears were most delectable which broke up the rich flavours of hazelnut and chocolate of the cake but there wasn’t enough to make up for the dryness.20140507-204655.jpgBeautiful fresh raspberries.20140507-204702.jpgSlightly slanted but beautiful layering within the cake.20140507-204709.jpgI couldn’t help but take photos from all angles.20140507-204717.jpgOne last one I promise.20140507-204725.jpgI must say I was very pleasantly surprised with the calibre of food that the Restaurant associates produced for the tasting. The novelty tasty extras that I was keen on getting at this venue would have blown our wedding budget out of proportion but I really love the ceremony space they offered so I gave them a tasting opportunity considering I knew nothing of their food potential and most people still think Ginger catering run the catering side (they have moved to the arboretum). I am so glad that I did! This is going to make decisions much harder.

Comparatively to the National Portrait Gallery, the timing was a faster (but not rushed) pace with more manageable portions of food (even I struggled to eat 6 canapés, 3 entrees, 3 mains, 3 desserts and petit fours with minimal help from my companion at the Portrait Gallery). I particularly loved the personal touch with Craig coming out explaining how he prepared each dish, why he chose certain ingredients, waiting for feedback at the end of the tasting and how he was happy to accommodate to ours tastes and needs.20140507-214953.jpg

 

Potential wedding venue: Old Parliament House

Caterer: Restaurant associates

Time of tasting: 2pm

Price of tasting: $85.00 pp.

The Wedding Collection – The National Portrait Gallery

After contacting and seeing the venue spaces at The National Portrait Gallery, we told them our views on tasting food before deciding on a venue and they were very friendly and open to the idea. They were flexible with the dates (as long as it was a weekday) and organised it rather quickly with no fuss and therefore it was the first venue we had a wedding tasting at. We were invited to choose 6 canapes, 3 entrees, 3 mains and 3 desserts from their menu selection.

The day of the tasting came. We didn’t know what to expect as this was our first official one, but you gotta start somewhere I guess! We were led away from the bustling cafe to a sectioned off area in their Terrace room. Inside was a singular round table with a place setting for two facing the window where we watched kids run past with their parents chasing after them.20140501-210721.jpgCrisp white linen, a fancy napkin ring and the table set for three courses. I guess this helped us to envision our wedding day. We were offered beverages but we politely declined and stuck with chilled water.20140501-210142.jpgCanapes x 6~

They didn’t waste any time bringing out the food. A large board was placed in front of us and I liked the ease of each item being eaten with minimal mess, this is definitely what I look for when looking at canapes for a function (not that I’ve turned down a chicken wing while holding a drink and clutch during a cocktail function).20140501-210732.jpg

20140501-210746.jpgMoroccan spiced chicken tartlet, coriander cress. The tartlet shell seemed a little fragile but it held up when I bit into it. The flavours were very nice and the chicken pieces were the perfect size.20140501-210804.jpgPork belly, apple puree, crackle (gf). I love me so pork belly so I was super keen to try this but I found it really underwhelming and disappointing. The pork was really dry and was on the verge of being pork ‘jerky’, while the apple puree tasted like it came from a can. It was a shame as a good pork belly can be amazing!20140501-210814.jpgA closer look at the dry pork.20140501-210949.jpgSalt & pepper king prawn, lemongrass, chilli dip (gf). The prawn itself was really salty, it wasn’t until I ‘rinsed’ it in the chilli dip that it became easier to eat.20140501-210841.jpg20140501-210934.jpgRoast pumpkin, chives, pine nut tart, harissa (V). TimmyC did not like these flavours at all, I think it was mainly because of the harissa. I didn’t mind it but I didn’t go out of my way to finish the rest of his.20140501-210852.jpg20140501-211003.jpgPoached corn & gruyere croquette, tomato jam (V).  This was one of my more exciting choices from the menu as I love croquettes, corn AND cheese although with this I couldn’t taste the corn nor the cheese. It was more of a tasteless mush with a crispy coating. The tomato jam was lovely and sweet though.20140501-210902.jpgPeking duck pancake, hoisin sauce. I liked the duck pancake, I just thought it was unusual that they had bean sprouts in it.

20140501-231751.jpg20140501-211014.jpgEntree  x3~

Seared Tasmanian scallops, pumpkin, beurre noisette, crisp capers. The pumpkin was amazing with the buttery taste from the beurre noisette and the crispy capers added the perfect amount of salt, I could have licked that plate clean. What would have made it absolutely perfect would be if the scallops were seared just a tad more.

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20140501-211041.jpgCrisp pork belly, beetroot, witlof, coriander cress, merlot vinaigrette (gf v). The pork was more moist then the canapé version but the crackle wasn’t crisp enough and kept getting stuck in my teeth. For something that had such vibrant colour, the beetroot wasn’t overwhelming and complimented the protein rather than overpower it.

20140501-231821.jpgPoached crab, avocado mousse, seared bean sprouts, apple gel (gf). I think I just saw the word ‘crab’ in the description and chose this dish. The crab was served cold but upon reviewing the description I guess it would  be, if I had known this I probably wouldn’t have chosen it. I got a bit of shell in my portion and I couldn’t taste the crab meat but the avocado mousse was very smooth. I don’t see how (again with the apple puree) the apple went with it all, between the puree, mousse and the soft crab mixture, it felt like I was eating baby food.20140501-211125.jpgMain x3~
Pan roast barramundi, bacon lardons, braised savoy, celery cream, puy lentils (gf). I thought that the barramundi was extremely dry and probably would have been better if it was steamed or served with more of a sauce. The lentils didn’t help with the ‘dryness’ either but I did enjoy what little there was of the celery cream. Knowing I had other mains to try and dessert yet to come, I didn’t finish this dish and was really disappointed.20140501-211147.jpgRoast duck breast, pearl barley, pea puree, madeira sauce, pea sprouts. The duck looked delicious with its skin and nice layer of fat but I felt there wasn’t enough salt on the skin or in the meat and I expected more flavours from the skin.20140501-211210.jpgI didn’t really enjoy the pearl barley and pea puree so this is what was left of my plate. I didn’t really enjoy the meat overall, I think I just had the mentality that I paid for the meal so I thought I’d finish it off.20140501-211312.jpgBeef fillet, porcini puree, confit of garlic, pommes anna, port jus (gf).  The steak was cooked perfectly, the porcini ‘puree’ added that extra kick of salt and the potato balanced it all out. You could really taste the flavours of the beef and it was well seasoned. The perfect dish to serve at a wedding as steak is usually a crowd pleaser, if they can do this uniformly across the alternate serve it would be great! 20140501-231806.jpgCooked perfectly, well for me it is anyway.20140501-211241.jpgThey said that during the wedding function that each table would also get a bowl of mixed salad greens. I was too full to get around to eating this but they looked fresh and well oiled.20140501-211253.jpgDessert x3~ Towards the end of the mains, the event sales coordinator informs us that since we had last spoken, the head chef had been moved to another position within the Trippas White Group but the new head chef specializes in desserts and one of her specialties is panna cotta. I couldn’t wait to dig in. When the deserts came out and I returned from the bathroom, I had found that TimmyC took the liberty of ordering me a tea and himself a flat white. I took a deep breath as I looked across three plates of dessert and a selection of petit fours, I could feel myself getting full.

Vanilla bean panna cotta, mango gel, almond tuile (gf available). I nudged the panna cotta with my spoon. It didn’t really move. That can’t be good. The whole thing felt a bit ‘stiff’ and solid. I looked and Tim, we were not impressed (it probably didn’t help that I ate the best panna cotta of my life just days before), I think we stopped eating it when we hit a ‘cyst’ of vanilla beans which looked like they came from a vanilla bean paste rather than from a pod. If this was going to be the chef’s specialty, I wasn’t too keen on try her other desserts.20140501-211331.jpgIt almost had the consistency of softened cream cheese. Not what I look for in a panna cotta and finding this cyst of vanilla beans didn’t help either.20140501-211341.jpgPassion fruit curd tart, compressed pineapple, vanilla cream. I really enjoyed this tart (phew), it had the right amount of tartness balanced with the right amount of sweetness. The tart was on the bigger side but it was delicious enough to devour it all if you didn’t just eat 6 canapes, 1.5 entrees and most of 3 mains. A generous serve but would be delightful especially in the warmer months.20140501-211401.jpgChocolate mousse, chocolate sponge, crispy praline, anglaise (gf). I dislike desserts that are OTT and have so much sugar and chocolate thrown together to make any chocoholic buckle at the knees and give them instant diabetes. Most people don’t finish desserts like that, but this, this I could keep eating. Despite all the chocolate components with the addition of an anglaise, it wasn’t overwhelming which I find very rare in any chocolate-y dessert. A++, would eat again!20140501-211417.jpgTimmy C said that the petit fours looked they came straight from a fridge and he was right. I sampled one and it was stale, dry and tasted like old cake that had been stored in the fridge without cling wrap. I proceeded to taste each one just to make sure I didn’t just choose a bad one but unfortunately they were all the same.20140501-211436.jpg20140501-231838.jpgWe mainly only saw the event sales coordinator during the tasting. She lead us to our table and she brought our food, at no point did we meet any kitchen staff. She was very polite and allowed TimmyC and I to enjoy our food in privacy. When I enquired about payment for the tasting on the day, she said not to worry and that she already had my credit card details and that she would email me in a few days. I thought it was a nice touch as this meant that we really just focused on food for the duration. They allocated 1.5 hrs for this tasting but probably hadn’t encountered anyone that eats as slow as me, for us the duration of the tasting actually took closer to 2.5 hrs. I thought since we had to select so many options that we would just get a ‘tappas’ version of that dish but instead we got 3 entrees, 3 mains and 3 desserts all at the quantity that would be served during a function. Needless to say I was stupidly stuffed after that tasting and if I had worn pants, I probably would have unbutton them on the drive home.

 

Overall, we were pretty disappointed with the food and even though we hadn’t tasted any other venues, it was easy to see that we wouldn’t consider having our wedding at the National Portrait Gallery with the Trippas White Group.

Potential wedding venue: The National Portrait Gallery

Caterer: Trippas White Group

Time of tasting: 1pm

Price of tasting: $75.00 pp. this cost would be deducted from our bill if we chose to book our wedding at this venue.