Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

I was making fun of TimmyC that we were going to somewhere called ‘Dinner by Heston Blumenthal’ for lunch despite having booked months ahead. It wasn’t until I read the definition of the ‘dinner’ on the wall did I realise that maybe dinner didn’t mean what I thought it meant.Drinks~

Cider gimlet Calvados Domfrontais, acidulated butter, cider cordial ($24.00).Peter Pipe’s pickled lemon lemonade lemon juice, lemon brine, lemon sugar, soda ($14.00). My mouth is watering just thinking about this drink again. Man it was intensely lemony and tangy.Complimentary~

Bread and butter.Starters~

Meat Fruit mandarin, chicken liver parfait and grilled bread ($38.00). This was spectacular, visually and texturally. This seemed like the obvious choice for a photo but I really enjoyed tasting this even though I’m not a huge fan of pâté like objects. The mandarin gel covering was subtle and melted away almost at an instant when it hits the tongue. I was completely blown away by how creamy the pâté tasted and the airy light texture, which was a sharp contrast to the crunchy grilled bread.This is truly a work of art.Rice & Flesh saffron, curried kangaroo, red wine and amaranth ($38.00).Savoury Porridge garlic and parsley butter, grilled abalone, pickled beetroot and fennel ($36.00). The texture of the oats along with texture of the fennel reminded me of the snail porridge from Fat Duck. TimmyC said he thought that some of the elements of the dish seemed odd but when you put everything together, it all paired perfectly.Mains~

Slow Cooked Pork Belly Spelt, lardo, baby turnip & Robert sauce ($58.00). I have never had pork belly that was as white as the clouds that tasted like a Christmas ham. It was absolutely incredible. Even though I was thoroughly enjoying my main, I leant over and helped myself to the pork belly.Chicken cooked with lettuces grilled onion emulsuion, oyster leaves and spiced parsnip sauce ($58.00).Specials~

David Blackmore Waygu (marbling score 9+ 200g) served with mushroom ketchup and triple cooked chips ($120.00 yes you read that right). I know what you’re thinking, if a ‘special’ is so special, why isn’t it on the menu? The only reason that it isn’t usually on the menu is because the steak isn’t always available so now that it was, I jumped at the chance!

I think there is nothing more sad than when a steak sits alone on a plate but seriously – this needed nothing else because it was perfect just the way it was. I didn’t even eat the mushroom ketchup and triple cooked chips after tasting them (I hear you all gasping!). It was the nicest steak I’ve ever eaten; it was well seasoned but the meat itself was very flavoursome and it almost didn’t require chewing because it melted in your mouth. The only downside is that it has ruined me for other steak.That marbling- WOW!The triple cooked chips were really crunchy.Desserts~

Tipsy cake spit roast pineapple with a freshly baked brioche ($32.00). When the waiter was describing how the pineapple was prepared by spit roasting while being basted in an apple salted caramel sauce, I was sold! What really surprised me about the dessert was the amazing freshly made brioche; it completely blew me away. I spent a lot of my time sniffing its intoxicating scent, it reminded me of stepping into a bakery. The brioche is finished off with brandy and Sauternes cream which was like an amazing bread and butter pudding on another level. I would have this every day if I could.Want a bite?The beautiful pineapples slowly being spit roasted while being basted every now and then.Chocolate bar passionfruit jam and ginger ice cream ($30.00).The Lamington cake raspberry jam, toasted coconut, rum and vanilla ice cream ($30.00).A little something something~

Just when we thought the experience was about to end, we were given an extra little something sweet before we left. Chocolate ganache with carraway seed biscuit– the ganache was extremely soft and smooth and the biscuit was the perfect accompaniment because it offset the sweetness.We found the service to be very attentive, efficient and friendly. I wouldn’t wait for a special occasion, just come here and experience fantastic food.Venue: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Address: Crown Towers Melbourne, 130/8 Whiteman St, Southbank VIC

Phone(03) 9292 5779

Websitewww.dinnerbyheston.com.au/

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Pialligo Estate Farmhouse

I was lucky enough to win Good Food Month’s #jointhefeast competition and my prize was a Let’s do lunch event at none other than Pialligo Estate Farmhouse. I was ecstatic when I found out where the lunch was going to be and took TimmyC to make up for all the time he has to wait for his food (#husbandsofinstagram) when we go out to eat.Let’s do lunch two courses with a glass of their wine ($55.00 per person). Choosing only two courses is like choosing your favourite child; I couldn’t do it. Instead TimmyC and I shared a starter, had a main each and then shared a dessert.

Mocktail~ I loved the ombré colours in the glass. It wasn’t too sweet and not too fizzy; in my opinion- the perfect mocktail.I loved the colours of this from every angle.Complimentary bread and butter~Amuse Bouche~ I don’t remember exactly what this was, it was like a jelly that tasted a little saltier than I expected. I really enjoyed the very large juicy roe on top though.Starter~

Cipollini onions, garden fig, cured wagyu sirloin, hazelnut and truffle dressing. I really liked how the hazelnuts really complimented the cured wagyu but my favourite part was dipping everything into that delicious truffle dressing (I even got the bread to mop the rest up).I went to the bathroom and I was pleasantly greeted by this bunny napkin origami when I came back.Main course~

Mayfield Park Berkshire pork, nashi pear, late-summer onions and spiced jamon fat. Nashi pears are one my favourite fruits, so I had no doubt that this was the main I was choosing. I loved the fact that the nashis are from their orchard!  The pork was very succulent and all the jamon pieces and fat really leant itself towards a nice salty flavour.Dessert~

Classically-inspired rum baba, orchard peach and violet. Rum babas are usually a very strong and pungent dessert that I love to eat but this one was really syrupy, not alcoholic and ‘in your face’ which meant I really had to fight TimmyC for half. All the flavours melded well together and not overly sweet. It was a wonderful way to finish a long lunch.The porous nature of the cake meant it really absorbed all that delicious peach glaze.Petit four~ Just when you don’t want the experience to end, it doesn’t. The waitress then set up five gorgeous little  bowls, each with a different sweet- macarons, nutmeg fudge, tonka bean doughnuts, chocolate, and marshmallows. Everything was so special but my favourite was the fudge while TimmyC ate most of the doughnuts.I didn’t think there was anything better than a hot sugared doughnut, until I tried their nutmeg fudge…They have a small shop front where you can buy wine, their award-winning bacon, chorizo, tomatoes and also nashi pears! I of course left with a bag of nashis in hand, they are small but so juicy and refreshing.Good Food Month is now over in Canberra but I still insist you go to Pialligo Estate Farmhouse and try it out for yourself.

Venue: Pialligo Estate Farmhouse

Address: 18 Kallaroo road, Pialligo, ACT 2609

Phone: (02) 6247 6060

Opening times:

Lunch Thursday – Sunday 12pm – 2:30pm 

Dinner Wednesday – Saturday 6pm- 8:30pm
Pialligo Estate Farmhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Flint in the Vines

My friends and I had been wanting to go to Flint in the Vines for a long time, but between lack of planning and untimely renovations we hadn’t gone out there until recently. It was lovely sunny day and it really didn’t take that long to drive out there even with the road works.

I had literally thrown on a(nother) dress after eating waffles and bacon for breakfast and started driving to Murrumbateman, so when my friends suggested to share some entrees and starters I had no particular objection.Starters~

Wood fired Camembert apple compote, red wine reduction, warmed ciabatta ($22.00). This ingredients make for a winning combination, the only downside was that the Camembert was not gooey enough, if it had a tad longer in the oven it would have heavenly. It wouldn’t have really have needed more than a minute or two to become perfection.Entrees~

Lamb roulade carrot and parsnip puree, plum jam, mint verde, truffled sweet potato chips ($17.00). I had let everyone else choose our entrees and starters that we were sharing and concentrated on choosing my own main therefore I wasn’t quite sure what we ordered. When I took a mouthful of this I was so surprised about how much flavour there was. The lamb flavours were robust and complimented by the sweet condiments, if I ordered this again, I would not share.
Butter poached prawns anchovy mousse egg-lasagna sheet, sage butter, baby herbs ($19.00). This looked really small and simple in contrast to the lamb but the flavours were just as pronounced. It was absolutely divine! It was to be expected though, who doesn’t love sage in butter *licks lips*. This looked a lot smaller than the other dish.Four dainty prawns hidden under a blanket of pasta.
Pizza~
Caprese basil pesto, sun-dried tomato, cherry tomato, bocconcini, balsamic glaze, fresh basil ($25.00). I must have been a pain to dine with, like a little child I couldn’t help myself but play with the mini lazy Susan that it came on. My friend liked the pizza base and the pizza itself, but towards the end it tasted like it was really tomato heavy and was starting to become an antipasto plate in her mouth.
Mains~
Confit Duck Maryland braised red cabbage, confit fennel, candied nashi pear, orange and anise jus ($34.00). The duck could have been a tad crispier but it was still really good and paired perfectly with all the sweet fruit and vegetables.
Honey brined pork loin romesco, sauteed cabbage, mushroom and sweet peppers, pesto ($33.00). The brine kept the whole piece of loin really juicy and delicious.
Chargrilled eye fillet potato and leek vichyssoise, sauteed baby winter veg, chilli jam ($35.00). As much as I love beef, I really mainly ordered this for the potato and leek vichyssoise. I didn’t know what it was exactly, I just guessed it was going to be a lovely rich white sauce made like one of my favourite soups! The eye fillet was cooked perfectly, it was juicy all over and it dish itself was stunning as it showed off an array of colour of baby winter vegetables.
 When uploading this photo, I got instantly hungry again. 
Sides~ all sides $9.00

Sautéed Dutch carrots almond cream, shallots, smoked paprika and toasted almond flakes. The carrots were slightly harder than I would have liked but I couldn’t get over how amazing the combination of almond cream, shallots, smoked paprika and toasted almond flakes was! People need to know about this.Roasted pumpkin & spinach salad fetta, toasted walnuts, honey & rosemary vinaigrette. So I might have rolled my eyes when the girls I was dining with suggested a salad to share but this was simplicity at its best. I loved this so much that later on in the week I made my own version at home. The rosemary flavour was subtle but vital to the salad’s amazingness (is that a word, probably not). Dessert~ all desserts were $16.00

Vanilla and nashi pear tapioca pudding stewed rhubarb Persian fairy floss, ginger and lemon biscuit. I was excited to taste this because I love nashi pears but I couldn’t really taste it despite chunks of it throughout the whole pudding. This reminded me of a vanilla rice pudding, not the sweetest dessert also not the easiest to share.
 
Lamington fondant (allow 15 minutes) dark chocolate fondant, raspberry jam, coconut ice cream, toasted coconut. This could have been one rich dessert but I was pleasantly surprised that the middle wasn’t runny lava made up of OTT molten cocoa, it was just moist and bitter enough to enhance the sweetness of the jam. When it was paired with all the coconut aspects, it created a perfect balance of flavours and you could eat the whole dish without feeling sick afterwards.                                                    
The food was absolutely wonderful set in an unpretentious, family friendly atmosphere and the waitresses were friendly, helpful and attentive. I haven’t been wowed by a Canberra restaurant (and surrounds) for a while, but this restaurant unexpectedly surprised me with its food quality. I am very keen to go back out again soon.

Venue: Flint in the Vines
Address: 34 Isabel Drive Murrumbateman NSW 2582
Phone: (02) 6227 5144 *
* Please note this phone line is answered between Wednesday and Sunday.
Business Hours:
Lunch – Thursday to Sunday
Dinner – Wednesday to Saturday
Entertainment book card: Yes! Don’t forget to use it
2% Surcharge for Amex
10% Surcharge Sundays
15% Surcharge Public Holidays

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Akiba

If you had asked me earlier in the day what I was doing on Saturday night, I would have told you that I was going to sleep off the food coma that I was about to be induced in after heading home from a 24hr interstate return trip.

I did not expect to drive back from Wollongong and immediately proceed to the doors of Akiba and line up for 45 minutes in the miserable weather, but that is exactly what TimmyC and I did after I had read the following Facebook post from HerCanberra:

I’m blaming HerCanberra and Eileen from The Food Avenue for enticing me to wanting to go to Akiba that night.

FB

What happened next was quite embarrassing, I hopefully will eventually learn to laugh at the situation, but for now I’m cringing every time I think about it. I accidentally stood at the front of the line thinking it was the back. The lovely people who were actually indeed in front of the line and had started waiting before 5pm, were very sweet not to swear at me as I innocently stood in front of them and started chatting to another 101localhuman as well as star food blogger Eileen (The Food Avenue). It wasn’t until I asked Eileen ‘how many people do you think are in front of you?’ did I realise my mistake. I proceeded to then squeeze in with Eileen and her partner who were second in line and I didn’t stop feeling guilty until I knew that everyone that was in line before the opening, was easily within the first 100 people *phew*. I think the weather put off a few people because 45 minutes after the opening, people that just came in were still within the first 100 people, which meant they got 6 dishes for free.IMG_7617.JPGWe could see the staff being briefed inside and as it rolled around to 6pm, the door was slowly opened and we were greeted with loud applause, lots of high energy and chants of ‘Akiba’ by the staff. It all felt a bit strange and surreal but it pumped me up before our meal.

There was some confusion with the menu about the portion sizes and prices. First of all there were no prices written on the menu and they had ‘special discounted prices’ on the night for the desserts so I couldn’t tell you if the dumplings were a bargain or if you were better off buying a packet of frozen ones at home. Secondly, some dishes come as a serve (regardless of how many are on the table) and some come as per person, so it might not have been advantageous for the very generous Eileen to allow me to sit at her table.  The food menu is divided into the following headings: raw, dumplings/bao/pancakes/buns, meat and fish, veg and dessert.

A look into the menu of Akiba.IMG_7531.JPGOne of the first to be seated with other patrons followed closely behind, the restaurant fills up fastIMG_7527.JPGA close up of the oyster bar.IMG_7612.JPGDrinks~

Snap, Crackle and Pop punch Ketel One vodka, Rice bubbles infused milk, pineapple and lemon Note: contains no milk ($20.00). This sounded like a really cute drink and I love how the rim of the glass was coated; everyone who tasted it thoroughly enjoyed it.IMG_7538.JPGFukushima Zombie Secret blend of Rums, triple citrus and ginger. For when you need to blow off steam! ($18.00 but we were charged $15.00). This was someone else’s drink but I think the alcohol was very strong in this cocktail.IMG_7540.JPGLychee cider ($10.00). I was surprised to see that this was a local product but I think TimmyC was expecting something a little sweeter.IMG_7539.JPGFood~ With only six dishes for free and no idea about portion sizes, we decided to choose our top 6 and then order again if need be afterwards.

Kingfish sashimi, coconut, nam jim, coriander (one serve 4 pieces). As soon as I took my mouthful, my palette went on a flavour journey, it was rather amazing really. There were so many flavours in the mouthful and I really liked the addition of the coconut cream. It’s a shame that it was the first dish to come because nothing much could compare; this was definitely one of my favourite dishes of the night.IMG_7544.JPGIMG_7545.JPGBeef tartare, pink peppercorn, pickled cucumber, fried egg puree, sweet potato crisp. I wouldn’t have chosen this one personally, but I’m really glad that someone did. The crispy sweet potato acted like a sandwich cover and made it much easier to eat in a few simple bites. You wouldn’t have thought that it was raw meat; dishes like this goes to show that you should try something new and you might be pleasantly surprised.IMG_7548.JPGIMG_7549.JPGIMG_7552.JPGBeef short rib dumpling, preserved lemon, shiitake mushroom, star anise broth (one serve 4 pieces). The filling was very tender and almost like a pulled beef. I was impressed with the size of the dumpling, how thin the wrapper was and the addition of the star anise broth gave it the sauce that it needed to not dry out.IMG_7555.JPGSpiced pork jowl, pan cake, pickled white peach, cucumber, negi. This was oily, potato-ey and salty but I loved every bite. The white peach gave it a sweetness and crunch that helped with the oilyness and it reminded me of my Mum’s potato scallop when I used to wedge it into my hamburger.IMG_7557.JPGIMG_7558.JPGPork belly bao, char sui, asian slaw (one bun per person). This was one of TimmyC’s favourite dishes but I didn’t like it as much. I thought that the filling should maybe have been more uniform across the bun (maybe a wide slice rather than little thick pieces) as there were some mouthfuls that had zero filling and the bun wasn’t as white and fluffy to what I’m used to. The sauce on the pork was salty but well balanced by the asian slaw.IMG_7561.JPGIMG_7563.JPGA closer look of the inside of the bao.IMG_7564.JPGUntil this point, food was coming thick and fast from the kitchen, but they finally must have hit a breaking point because it was a loooooooong time before our last dish arrived. We didn’t mind as we were happily conversing but eventually our chicken arrived.IMG_7543.JPGJ.F.C., lemon braised onions, parmesan (one serving 4 pieces). J.F.C stands for ‘Japanese Fried Chicken’ and as soon as we found that out, it definitely made it to our top 6 dishes. I found it a little disappointing that they didn’t take it to another level like the other dishes and it was actually in fact… Just fried chicken.IMG_7567.JPGHaving two keen bean foodies on the table, it was no surprise that we wanted to order more dishes outside of our 6 free ones; it was for multiple reasons: 1) we wanted to suss out the prices of the meals 2) we wanted to try more from the menu and 3) we weren’t really full from the food so far. We asked our designated waiter how much the dishes were before we ordered them and he came back with the answer of ‘keep it hush hush but if you order two more dishes we’ll also give them to you free’, which really didn’t help us with our first point but we were happy enough to order another two.

There was another long wait before we got our final two savoury dishes and our very kind waiter was profusely apologetic but we didn’t mind at all as we were still happily talking. They gave us an additional complimentary serving of beef short rib dumplings as an apology for the slow kitchen and not long after, our dishes arrived.

It was starting to get really busy inside Akiba.IMG_7569.JPGBeef short rib, tamarind caramel, thai basil (one serve). This was so tender that I’m pretty sure if I sneezed it would have fallen apart. A big chunk of meat that super tender with great savoury flavours.IMG_7611.JPGSoft shell crab bao, pickled baby gem, creamy ponzu (one bun per person). I think in their haste they forgot the creamy ponzu and it definitely needed it. I don’t think I’m in love with their bun because I’ve had better but the soft shell crab itself was crunchy, had a nice meaty component (not just all the crispy legs) and was seasoned well.IMG_7613.JPGThere wasn’t much on one side of my bun.IMG_7616.JPGDessert~ They were giving us a special discount price of $8.00 each but they were unable to tell us how much the desserts would be charged after the official opening.

Chocolate tart, pickled strawberry. There were two parts of the chocolate tart: the hard part which tasted like solid chocolate and a soft velvety part which had delicious caramel coffee notes that everyone wanted to end on.IMG_7621.JPGTofu cheese cake, anzac crumb, pandan jelly. Don’t be put off by the tofu in the cheesecake, it is more for the texture. As non picturesque as it is (comparatively), I really enjoyed it, it was light on the palette and you could really taste the pandan in the jelly; it was a very small serve though. Between the two desserts though, I would probably prefer the chocolate tart because of soft velvety component.IMG_7620.JPGI thought stomach wise, I was just on the borderline of being content but the longer I sat there afterwards, the ‘fuller’ I felt, but admittedly that was after sharing NINE savoury dishes and a dessert. Maybe if you don’t go from brunch straight to dinner (or eat like a normal person), you’ll require less food.

I would like to thank the lovely Eileen (The Food Avenue) so so so much for letting me hijack her table and allowing me to order more food than if it was TimmyC and I (he is useless).

The restaurant sits 152 patrons with outdoor seating eventually to come with another 60 person capacity.

I wouldn’t have minded to sit in a booth; my bum was feeling a little sore after sitting on stools for over two hours.IMG_7626.JPG

IMG_7628.JPGI really liked the food here, despite a few hiccups which is to be expected during the opening of a new restaurant. Akiba has an exciting menu with lots of variations; I will be returning very shortly and I will be keen to find out some prices.

Venue: Akiba

Address: 40 Bunda Street, Civic ACT 2600

Website: http://www.akiba.com.au/

Opening: The official opening is Monday (8th Dec) night. They envisage being open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The kitchen will close around 10 ish and the place will transition into a bar serving interesting cocktails until early hours of the morning.
Akiba on Urbanspoon

Sydney CBD (and surrounds) essentials

I have been writing out multiple lists for Sydney of late and then I thought to myself, “this is why I started a blog in the first place, so I didn’t have to keep repeating myself!”. Keep in mind I’m not a local so I’m sure there are stacks more places, but these are the ones that I love and keep returning to (and there are some where I would love to go!). Thanks to my sister and cousin who keep me on the pulse of everything trending and new in Sydney.

My favourite ramen places:

  • Gum shara Shop 211 25-29 Dixon St Haymarket, NSW (hidden in a dingy food court called “Eating World”), it is just past the big high gates that you see in China town (away from Market city). The chef spends 12 hours boiling the hell out of pork bones to make a very rich ‘thick’ soup, there is an option to have a ‘less thick soup’ don’t be a hero, not everyone can handle full strength (I know I can’t). I get the pork spare rib when I can.
  • Ippudo Shop 5021, Level 5, Westfield Shopping Centre/188 Pitt Street, Sydney 2000 (in the Centrepoint Westfield, there usually is a bit of a line, but the wait isn’t too bad). You HAVE to order pork buns if you go as they are similar to Momofuku ones.
  • Ichi ban boshi Level 2,The Galeries,500 George Street,Sydney NSW (same level as Kinokuniya book shop). I only order the tonkotsu ramen, they only make like 50 bowls (of tonkotsu) a day or something.

Best dumplings:

  • Hands down Din tai fung, Shop 11.04,Level 1, World Square/644 George St, Sydney NSW 2000 there are several locations (all locations in Australia are all in Sydney) but the one in World Square is the only one not in a food court. The signature dish is the xiao long bao which is a steamed pork dumpling with soup inside. If there was one in Canberra, I’m pretty sure I’d live there.

Gelato:

  • Messina, they don’t keep winning ‘best gelato in Sydney’ for nothing. They have lots of crazy flavours (including Elvis, the Fat Years: peanut butter gelato with fried brioche bits and banana jam; Risotto Milanese: saffron gelato with saffron vanilla rice pudding; Breakfast of Champions: milk gelato with honeyjoys and homemade Milo) but I definitely recommend trying before you commit to one flavour no matter how busy it is. Darlinghurst is a bit of a pain to park at so I find it easier to grab a light rail from China town/Central to The Star casino store. Luckily Melbournians now have a store at 237 Smith Street, Fitzroy. 

Asian restaurants:

  • I love the noodles at Chef’s Gallery Shop 12 Ground Floor Regent Place Shopping Centre/501 George St, Sydney CBD and it is awesome to watch them make it all too. The piggy buns are adorable, see my FB picture, it has a black sesame filling which isn’t for everyone.
  • Harder to get into but they are open ridiculously late if you want a midnight snack: Chat Thai 20 Campbell St Haymarket NSW (also at the Centrepoint Westfield) and @bangkok (across the road next to Capitol Theatre). They are both great Thai restaurants and they have a lot of depth to their flavours. Chat Thai have a supper menu that starts around 10pm, slightly different to the dinner menu and prices are cheaper.

Chicken:

  • Everyone makes me hungry when I see their pictures on Instagram about Hot Star Large Fried Chicken 96 Liverpool St SydneyNSW. Someone please take me there or bring me a large fried chicken…

Bakeries:

  • I go to Bourke Street bakery whenever I can and leave with a chocolate tart and their pain au chocolat and maybe a sausage roll if I can fit it in. Several locations, just look up which one is closest to you.
  • I’ve only eaten one thing from Black Star Pastry but it was really good, two locations one in Newtown 277 Australia St, Newtown and the other in Rosebery C1 85-113 Dunning Ave, Rosebery, NSW

Breakfast

  • Everyone seems to end up @ the Grounds of Alexandria but the former chef has a new place in Redfern that is supposed to be kid friendly called Three Williams 613a Elizabeth St Redfern, NSW 2016. This is a place that I definitely want to try when I go to Sydney next!

Burgers:

  • I haven’t tried this but everyone on my Instagram seems to be hunting down, Chur Burger 48 Albion Street Surry Hills, NSW 2010

Banh mi:

  • Hong Ha bakery 1151 Botany Rd, Mascot NSW 2020 simple basic bakery shop front, more of  an ‘order a bun and eat somewhere else’ kinda place. I remember when my sister took me here, we got out of the car and I asked where it was and she just pointed to a massive line piling down the street across several shop fronts. A bit daunting to see, but the line goes rather fast and it is well worth it.

Yum Cha:

  • Marigold I’ve eaten a lot of yum cha around CBD and China town and I really like Marigold Levels 4 & 5,Citymark Building/683-689 George St, Sydney NSW 2000, go to 5th level rather than the 4th (more Asians there), really popular which means things will be fresh with the high turn around.

Let me know if you think I should add anything else to the list!

Berowra Waters Inn

TimmyC and I have been dating for over a decade now so it takes more than the usual to surprise me (although I am astounded when he washes the dishes), so when he said he heard about an amazing restaurant in NSW do I want to hear about it or should he surprise me, I told him to surprise me (although if it was in Canberra I would have wanted to know about it ASAP!).

While we were out having dinner one night I hear him say over the phone ‘oh yes we will be arriving by car’, ‘who was that?’ I asked ‘and how else would you arrive somewhere, by horse back?’ I said smugly, Tim smirked and replied ‘that was the mystery restaurant calling and you can only get there by ferry, boat or seaplane’. Hmmm, now you have me very intrigued.

The day of our booking arrived and down a steep windy road we went. I peered over the railing, there was so much thick bush down there that if we weren’t dating for that long I would think that this was where he was going to kill me and ditch my body in the shrubs (yes I have a wild imagination). The lower we went, a view of a beautiful body of water emerged filled with lots of keen fishing hobbyists and boats, but I still had no idea where we were headed.

Signs for the restaurant’s private ferry.20131228-085119.jpgA view of the Hawkesbury river from the carpark.20131228-085108.jpgWe arrived at the private pier and the restaurant’s ‘ferry’ took us across the water and towards the Berowra Waters Inn. The whole journey on the boat wouldn’t have taken long (4 minutes one way, we timed him during out meal) but we had to wait for the seaplane to depart before we docked, as you do.

Waiting for the sea plane to depart.20131228-085159.jpgApproaching the dock.20131228-085211.jpgWe are greeted with a friendly smile and shown to a table that faces the direction of the water and we sit side by side. For a food blogger, the lighting is perfect; natural sunlight streaming though, wide open spaces and beautiful white linen providing the perfect back drop.20131228-085227.jpg

20131228-085245.jpgWe are left alone with the menu for a few minutes. It is $175 pp for the 7 course degustation and $250 pp with matching wines but because we both don’t drink wine, the decision was easy. I quickly check if any of the unfamiliar words equals offal (I’ve been burned before) but none of them were so we were good to go.

The seven course degustation menu.

20131228-090012.jpg

Amuse bouche~

Rock oyster wrapped in jelly, apple couscous with a daikon crisp. The amuse bouche intrigues me and I fall in love with the bowl instantly. When I peered inside the bowl, nothing looked like an oyster and I start to doubt if the waiter even mentioned oyster. I pop the black thing in my mouth and sure enough, it was an oyster wrapped in a thin layer of jelly, the flavour is intense and satisfying. Whatever that white foamy light liquid was on the bottom, I wanted more of it.

20131228-090024.jpgThe couscous was incredibly crispy and granular, I really liked the texture.20131228-090038.jpgA close up of the sundried tomato butter with black olive.20131228-090048.jpgA selection of complimentary house made fresh warm bread walnut bread, olive bread and sour dough. I was surprised when Tim chose the olive bread, he never has been fond of olives but I guess since there was black olive crumble on top of the butter, there was no way to escape it. The other breads were nice but didn’t compare to the very popular sour dough. The butter wasn’t intensely ‘tomato-y’ but provided enough salt to be addictive. The texture of the butter was so airy and light, it was as easy as to spread as cream cheese and despite the black olive being everywhere, the flavour wasn’t dominating.20131228-090057.jpgMost people are dining as couples, but there was a group of flamboyant gay friends who provided very entertaining foresight into the next dish as they were a course a head of us. The atmosphere is pretty casual with most people wearing trendy clothes bordering on smart casual.

First Course~

Hamachi, squid and cucumber. The broth was poured at our table side. I had lot expectations that the mini roll was going to be rubbery, dry and hard to cut through but I was pleasantly surprised that it was very delicate and held intense flavours of seafood. What seemed to be avocado powder just disintegrates in your mouth leaving nothing but a flavour. I was a bit disappointed that my spoon couldn’t get every last drop, I contemplated licking the bowl, but then I thought to myself that there was still 6 courses to go.20131228-090117.jpg

Second course~

Ocean trout, smoked milk and dashi. I have tasted many foams in my time (wow, how pompous does that sound!?) but nothing compares to the intense citrus flavours that were hidden amongst the bubbles. I effortlessly cut through the confit of trout and when it melted on my tongue, I turned to TimmyC with the biggest grin on my face. ‘That is sooo good’ is all I can manage to say.20131228-090142.jpgHow do they get so much flavour in there?20131228-090156.jpgA close up of the melt in your mouth ocean trout.20131228-090207.jpgThere is a constant change of cutlery between every second course.20131228-090216.jpg

Third course~

Carrot and liquorice. I know a lot more people who dislike licorice than people who like it, so I thought this dish was a very bold choice from the chef. The taste of licorice isn’t overwhelming but it is definitely there. TimmyC isn’t fond of licorice but even he still managed to eat most of his plate. This dish was probably the most visually appealing out of all the dishes and the odd combination of flavours actually works, I particularly liked the crisp fried carrot top. There was a large variety of textures on the plate ranging from al dente carrots to soft puree and to the other extreme of granular licorice soil.20131228-090228.jpg

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Fourth course~

Chicken, soubise and macadamia. At a restaurant I never order chicken as a main, it easily disappoints and can be made dry and tasteless with little effort, but this, this was something else! It was super moist and this ended up being TimmyC’s favourite dish of the day. I fell in love with the flavours of the chicken and soubise. Wow it was so good!20131228-090301.jpgWhen something tastes so good, I hate it when the portions are so small, but I guess that leaves more room for variety. I can’t wait to taste the next course.20131228-090310.jpg

Fifth course~

Short rib, anchovy and cracked wheat. The beef rib was so tender, I’m pretty sure if I sneezed on it, it would have broken into pieces on my plate. It had a cake of intense salt from the anchovy on top but it went very well together and each bite was perfection. For me, this was my favourite dish (although it was a very hard choice).

20131228-090331.jpgThe meat disintegrating away as I cut through it.

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Sixth course~

Goat cheese, honey, hazelnut and corella pear. This course reminded me of breakfast and it was what eased us from savoury to sweet in a slow transition. I thought the hazelnut sauce was too much and steered clear of it but for someone who doesn’t like goat’s cheese, I ate a lot of it. It didn’t have that gritty ‘dirty’ after taste that most goat cheeses have.

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Palette cleanser~

Lime custard and passionfruit mousse. We were really surprised by the serving size, the glass was a bit bigger than a normal shot glass. This could have been the actual dessert based on fine dining sizing! The two flavours are both intense but work well together. The refreshing fruit flavours make it a fabulous palette cleanser.

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Seventh course~

Tropicana No2. Coconut mango mousse, coriander popcorn, mango sorbet, a sphere of lemongrass jelly, coconut cream bottom, yoghurt bavarois covered in a mango gel. The mango sorbet is the most intense flavour of the dish and I thought with all the different elements on the plate made it a bit ‘busy’.  I was really disappointed to not really taste much coriander in the so-called ‘coriander popcorn’ but I love how the colours of Summer really ‘popped’ against the beautiful colour of the plate.

20131228-090422.jpgThe ferry awaits to take us back to reality.20131228-090435.jpgThe lunch goes for 4 hours but you’re made to forget the chaotic world and take time to breathe in the fresh air, admire the serene surroundings and enjoy some really fantastic food.

I’ve eaten at many places up and down the east coast of Australia and some fabulous places overseas, but I can say hands down this was the best meal I have ever eaten and I don’t say that lightly. I was seriously considering have my wedding reception here but they only sit 60 to 80 people and the venue wouldn’t be big enough *sigh*. I gotta start working on culling my list! 

Venue: Berowra Waters Inn

Address: Public Wharves, Berowra Waters, NSW

Phone: (02) 9456 1027

Portuguese tarts Lord Stow’s bakery – Macau

I sat there with a sweat dripping out of every pore. My feet were sore from excessive running in inappropriate shoes. My face was red and flushed and I might have annoyed a few people along the way. Yet I felt deeply satisfied with the resulting box that laid in my hands.

How did it all come to this?

60 minutes earlier

We were heading out for the morning after a night of R ‘n R staying at the luxurious Lisboa hotel. The plan was simple – buy our ferry tickets for our return trip to Hong Kong, hunt down Lord Stow’s bakery and then head back to the hotel just in time for our 1pm late check out, allowing time to wildly throwing everything back in our suitcase.

Me being as stubborn as I am, wanted to go to the original Lord Stow bakery hidden somewhere amongst the not so main streets of Macau but when Google, phone reception and the taxi drivers were not helpful in finding the store, we had no choice but to run wildly towards the Venetian hotel (I knew there was a store there), which seemed very far away and time was ticking.

Inside the Venetian was an awesome canal with gondolas paddling up and down between all the fabulous stores, there are gorgeous paintings everywhere all over the ceiling and there were human statues, magicians walking around performing tricks but there was no time for any of that, we were here for one thing – PORTUGUESE TARTS!

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It would have looked like four crazy tourists running in multiple directions and there might have been a bit of running around in circles but we finally found it!20131123-002057.jpg

Warm Portuguese tarts from Lord Stow’s bakery ($8.00 HKD per tart).20131123-002206.jpg

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The pastry is so flaky looking with beautiful imperfect brown spots.20131123-002617.jpg

The custard was so delicate and silky smooth, which a great contrast to the crispy flaky pastry. Oh my goodness, there is a party in my mouth.20131123-002659.jpg

You can see the pastry is swirled at the bottom and you can really feel that in the texture when you bite into it.

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Even the next day when the tarts were all cold, they were still amazing and while sitting in a five-star hotel looking over Macau just made the experience just even better.

While you’re in Macau, you have to make this as one of your ‘absolutely have to do’ things on your list. I would suggest going straight to the Venetian hotel and take time to browse around the mall and float down the canal in a gondola and not frantically scramble to check out of your hotel room.

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This is not farewell, just a good bye for now Macau

Chilling out eating a freakin’ amazing Portuguese tart over looking the city of Macau in a 5 star hotel just before heading back to Hong Kong. Thanks for all the food memories Macau, I will definitely be coming back! #macauisamazing #SofitelMacau #food #foodie #foodblog #tart #macau #amazing #yummy

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