Munich Brauhaus – The Rocks

Continuing on with the European theme even though we had literally been eaten all day, my friends and I were still excited to try Munich Brauhaus on The Rocks.

We were very lucky with our timing and were able to catch Vivid on Australia’s iconic landmarks. To aid with digestion, we happily walked around Circular Quay to make our way to the Rocks. The area was buzzing and Munich Brauhaus was not immune, in fact there was a line up at the front and we didn’t know how long the wait was going to be but I optimistically joined the line and within 10 minutes we were seated with another group on a long table.

Inside had a great warm atmosphere and it transported us away to another country. Despite being ridiculously busy, service was prompt and so were the food and drinks. I think it is a great testament to an establishment when they have enough staff and are not overwhelmed when packed to the brim.

Drinks~

Lowie (500mL $12.90).

Good pickins apple cider (500mL $12.50).

Starters~

Brez’n Bavarian pretzel Haus made with cultured butter ($4.50). Oh my goodness, a warm pretzel with a good butter is hard to beat. I was in love.

Knoblauchbrot garlic rye bread with radish cream ($8.50). It was ridiculous how saturated the bread was with garlic butter but the richness is balanced out by the radish cream. A good starter to share with friends.Mains~

Hühnerbrust Vienna style crumbed chicken breast ($29.00).Oktoberfest teller Bavarian tasting platter. A showcase of our handmade products crafted to perfection with original Bavarian recipes. The best offer for a Bavarian sized appetite for one. Crispy pork belly, Haus sausages, schnitzel, sauerkraut, red cabbage, creamy mash, granny smith apple compote, bier jus ($34.00)It is true, two of us shared this and could not finish the plate but to be fair, we had been eating almost non stop for the whole day during our Gourmet Safari. I enjoyed everything on this plate, everything was really well done and  superb. The surprising element that I loved was the bier jus, I could smother that on everything! This was a lovely way to experience a bit of everything.Sides~

Sauerkraut ($7.00). Because you can never have too much sauerkraut on the table.

Mashed potato ($7.00). Really smooth and the perfect accompaniment to all the meat.

Mushroom sauce ($3.00). I didn’t know if I’d like the bier jus so I ordered this but I really didn’t need to.
By this point, we knew there was no room for dessert (for now) as we couldn’t  finish our mains. I think I would have been fine if I didn’t go on a food tour all day but the portions are very generous and satisfying. There was traditional live music, the staff were dressed in costume and if you order schnapps, a really skilled waitress manoeuvres her way through the crowd with a really long paddle. I would happily come here again, I really loved the food, the service and atmosphere.

Venue: Munich Brauhaus

Address: Cnr / Playfair & Argyle St, The Rocks, Sydney NSW 2000

Phone: (02) 9247 7785
Munich Brauhaus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sabor in the Hunter Lovedale

So it turns out that the dessert cafe Sabor has two locations: one that the locals know about (and now you), which is away from all the hustle and bustle of the vineyards and one located within a winery in the gorgeous Pokolbin area. Both venues have beautiful cakes and chocolates to tempt the young and old.

As you step in you can smell the sweetness in the air. We walked past the chocolate truffles and locally made cookies to be met with two large glass cabinets filled with eye catching desserts. ‘You can only choose one’ I thought to myself as much as I wanted one of everything and chocolates to go. I was tempted with the tasting plate which seemed to be the indecisive person’s easy way out as it had a range of five minature desserts.

Please forgive the bad photos, I took two quick photos and then had to make some very big decisions.Caramel and hazelnut cone milk chocolate and praline mousse, centered with a caramel creme, sitting on a chocolate sponge and a crushed hazelnut halo (around $14.00 dine in). After much deliberation, I had chosen the caramel hazelnut cone. It looked very glamorous and upon reading the description I thought it would be fairly light. There wasn’t much complexity to the flavours, it was like a light chocolate mousse with a nutty after taste if you got some nuts in the bite.

Red velvet and summer berry cheesecake a moist red velvet cake set upon a croquant base, doused in raspberry coulis then buried in a summer berry cheesecake, encased with a raspberry glitter glaze topped with a blueberries and blueberry crumble ($14.00 dine in). This dessert was visually stunning and even though it wasn’t mine, I instagrammed it but not without at least taking a bite to taste. I was surprised to see a cake encased in cheesecake which definitely took this to the next level. I thought the way that the glitter glistened in the light was beautiful.
Carmel cheesecake a baked cheesecake in a sweet pastry case topped with a generous swirl of caramel and sprinkled with chocolate flakes ($11.00). Karma would have it that I teased my friend for getting such a simple looking dessert and I preferred his over mine. We were disappointed that there wasn’t caramel throughout the cheesecake and just on top but the cream cheese made this dessert not as sweet as the others.On a day with beautiful weather and nothing but picturesque surroundings on one side, this would be the perfect place to catch up with friends or indulge for a special occasion.Venue: Sabor in the Hunter Lovedale

Address: 319 Wilderness Road, Lovedale / Rothbury

Phone: 1300 958 850

Opening hours:
Saturday 10am – 4.30pm
Sunday 10am – 4.30pm (unless sold out)

Websitehttps://saborinthehunter.com.au/
Sabor in the Hunter Dessert Bar 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

Click to add a blog post for Flint in the Vines on Zomato

Table 1 Espresso

I wasn’t going to blog about my brunch while I was in Newcastle over the weekend, I was just going to catch up with a dear friend of mine who had heard good things about Table 1 Espresso, but when our drinks came I couldn’t NOT blog about it.IMG_0899I thought it was odd that this popular cafe was right next door to a car wash in the middle of nowhere, although there was no surprise that there was a queue forming near the front, luckily I had booked a table earlier.

At first we were surprised that the menu was mainly savoury items without a single pancake or waffle in sight, but when TimmyC went to order and pay at the counter, he spotted waffles on the specials board and his first choice was quickly replaced. I didn’t take a photo of the menu (because I didn’t think I was going to blog about it) and TimmyC has a terrible memory for details so the descriptions and prices are based from my memory.IMG_0901Oreo and Snickers milkshakes. TimmyC knew me well when he chose Snickers from a list of popular chocolate bar flavours. I looooove snickers and this milkshake tasted exactly like it! Not only did it look absolutely fabulous (and sparked my need to blog about this place) but they both tasted great too; Canberra cafes should take heed.IMG_0904IMG_0892IMG_0893Flat white Campos coffee. TimmyC didn’t think that there was anything special about his coffee and kept on sneaking sips of my milkshake instead. I like how it comes with a little love heart short bread that he didn’t even offer me a nibble of *cough*.IMG_0889Waffles with banana, vanilla ice cream and maple syrup. TimmyC specifically asked if the waffles were made in-house and the person at the counter said ‘yes’. When he started to eat them he had his doubts because of the texture was thick and hard like at Max Brenner, he was less than satisfied but I surprisingly finished off his waffles between mouthfuls of mine.IMG_0896Scrambled eggs 3 scrambled eggs with spinach, fetta, chorizo and toasted sourdough ($18.00). I liked the flavour combination, I just think that the toasted needed some melted butter and it would have made it easier to eat. I liked how the eggs were moist and that the chorizo was crispy.IMG_0897I must highly commend the wait staff, despite being really busy, they were always polite and efficient. I was surprised at the minimal wait time, the cafe was particularly full when we sat down but the drinks and food all came in a timely manner. The menu is a bit simple but I wouldn’t hesitate to come back and grab a milkshake!

Venue: Table 1 Espresso

Address: 89 – 93 City Road, Merewether NSW 2291

Phone: (02) 4963 3796

Websitewww.table1espresso.com

Table 1 Espresso on Urbanspoon

Queanbeyan Carnivale – Multicultural Festival

 

I had to stop and clarify with a friend when she started to describe what sounded like a smaller Multicultural festival just across the border. Could it be? A festival in Queanbeyan that involves food which may have happening for years that I have never heard about?

The Queanbeyan Carnivale is on this Sunday and I am getting excited! One of my friends is performing and I’m hoping to make it out there to support her with a meat skewer in hand.

This is what I saw from the Visit Queanbeyan website but I’ve highlighted in bold what I actually read.

Queanbeyan’s Multicultural Spectacular

Queanbeyan celebrates it’s cultural diversity annually by holding the Multicultural Festival at Queanbeyan Park.  The festival features a stunning line-up of performances every year on the centre stage and sports plenty of great activities for the family, as well as dozens of food stalls.  The Carnivale theme was chosen to reflect on the energetic dance and music performances that abound from many different multicultural groups and the events lend the entire event a vibrant theme from the performances down to the food options which range from BBQs to sweet cakes to Asian delicacies.

Each year the park comes alive with all community groups working together to produce and offer the best in dance, food, and song to attendees. The result is quite diverse as Queanbeyan is home to many people including those from India, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Greece, Italy, the UK, and more, with each group offering their own song and dance performances.

The Queanbeyan City Council supports the festival along with the Queanbeyan Multilingual Centre, and everyone is encouraged to head out to take part in the festivities.”

Has anyone actually been to this? Please let me know what to expect.

Venue: Queanbeyan Carnivale – Multicultural Festival

Event date: Sunday 22nd February 2015

Address: Queanbeyan Park Lowe Street, Queanbeyan 2620 NSW

Opening times: 10am-4pm

Phone: 02 6285 6170

Website: www.qcc.nsw.gov.au

The Stunned Mullet re-run

I was going to just let this restaurant visit slide but as soon as the amazing warmed bread arrived, I instinctively started taking photos. We had taken TimmyC’s Grandma with us to the Stunned Mullet two years ago and she was very keen to go back, was it was going to be as good as we remembered?IMG_8257.JPGSourdough with Roast Chilli and Pecorino Little Gen EVOO 8 ($8.50). It is very expensive for bread and oil but it is warmed perfectly, the crust is crunchy and the bread itself is so soft and fluffy. Yes TimmyC’s Grandma couldn’t wait and grabbed the first slice before I took a photo.IMG_8243.JPGGlacier 51 Toothfish soy and mirin stock, Asian salad, galangal, smoked shallot chilli ginger reduction ($48.00). I had my heart set on the Cape Grim beef but when the waiter was describing the toothfish, I was easily swayed. His logic is that there is always beef on a menu but you would rarely get a chance to eat toothfish.

The flesh of the fish was unlike any fish I’ve had before, the texture was a cross between a scallop and the meaty pincer of a mud crab. The meat itself wasn’t sweet like a mudcrab but you got hints of sweetness from the mirin in the sauce. I had no regrets ordering this dish.IMG_8251.JPGPhotos of my dish from every angle.IMG_8252.JPGIMG_8253.JPGPork Belly and Seared Scallops nuoc cham and Asian salad ($38.00). TimmyC had his eyes set on the pork and scallops and asked for this to be served as a main, I thought the main price was steep for not many pieces of pork and scallops, I’m just glad that they executed this dish perfectly. The pork crackling was crispy and fatty and the pork was well cooked while still remaining moist. The scallops were fantastic! They were easily the best scallops I’ve had in a restaurant recently; the sear was really good and the meat was naturally sweet. TimmyC wasn’t particularly a big fan of the bold Asian flavours in the sauce but we just tilted the plate so he would get less of it.IMG_8250.JPGLamb Shoulder parsnip puree, red chutney, labne, watercress, compressed apple, papadum ($25.00). Grandma ordered a smaller sized dish but wow, the flavours were so complex and there were so many textures to the plate. I am now a big fan of labna! The lamb meat was super tender and had so many spices in it which gave it a middle Eastern feel.IMG_8245.JPG

IMG_8247.JPGSides~

Mizuna lettuce salad with hazelnuts, pear, pecorino and verjuice ($11.00). I loved the delicate pecorino cheese which was mounded on top. The greens were partly light and well washed and I adored the combination of pear and hazelnuts.IMG_8246.JPGDesserts~ all desserts were $18.00.

Chocolate Hazelnut textures, white chocolate cremeux, praline semifreddo, strawberries, chocolate brownie, vanilla mascarpone cream. I thought there was too much going on with this dessert which was much to TimmyC’s delight as he devoured the rest. He has a bigger sweet tooth than me so he probably didn’t think that this dish was too rich.IMG_8259.JPGVanilla Bean Macarons, poached pear, cinnamon crumble, gorgonzola gelato, cider gel. I really liked their size of macarons, they were big but very delicate with a subtle vanilla bean filling. I knew instantly TimmyC would dislike the gorgonzola gelato but I thought it paired perfectly with the poached pears. The two blobs of gel looked deceivingly black but that was because of the slate plating, it was actually in fact like a very smooth apple sauce.IMG_8264.JPG

IMG_8266.JPGThe staff is always attentive and polite here and the food is magnificent. Even if you just bypass through Port Macquarie, I definitely recommend that you plan your trip around having a meal here.

Milkbar – Port Macquarie

We wanted to choose a good breakfast place before we left Port Macquarie and apparently that task was placed upon myself being the more passionate foodie of the pair. I had read through Port Macquarie’s tourist pamphlets called ‘eat see do’ which had made me want to come back and be here during their food festivals etc but it didn’t really help me in the way of breakfast so I turned to Urbanspoon.IMG_8275.JPGMilkbar near town beach was amongst the top choices for breakfast in the area so that’s where we headed despite being quite busy. We were luckily enough to get a table quickly and from there we browsed the menu chalkboard. It is a very popular place amongst the locals as a lot of the patrons knew the waitresses by name, which I thought was a good sign.

Ordering and paying at the counter really helps as a fast streamline process.IMG_8270.JPGThe menu at the Milkbar has something for everyone. I love how the sign states that all the bread comes with buttered *real butter!*IMG_8273.JPGLarge flat white ($4.30). TimmyC said he really enjoyed his coffee here.IMG_8280.JPGMango and macadamia smoothie ($6.50). This was mainly compromised of ice cream which is probably why TimmyC liked it so much. It only had hints of mango flavour but I liked how in every few mouthfuls there was a crunch of macadamia.IMG_8278.JPGEggs, Gruyère, baby spinach and citrus ricotta tart with prosciutto and roast chilli tomato sauce ($14.50). I couldn’t really taste the Gruyère despite having stringy cheesy bits when I cut bite sized pieces, the prosciutto added a nice salty touch to the light eggy citrus flavours and I think it was worth adding the roast chilli tomato sauce.IMG_8286.JPGLayers of spinach in the tart encased in delicious flaky pastry.IMG_8287.JPGMilkbar baked eggs and sourdough with mushroom, basil, cherry tomatoes and spinach($13.00) we added extra bacon ($3.00). I like how they gave you lots of bacon (4 pieces) and it was only $3 extra, you never usually get that much let alone for that price. The baked eggs were nice enough but for me I fell in love with the sourdough bread smothered in real butter *drool*IMG_8282.JPGI love how they have unique breakfast menu items, everything is reasonably priced (nothing over $14.50) and the food and coffee came out at a fast pace. The staff were also very friendly, fast to clean and clear tables as well as thorough with the ordering process. I definitely will return when I’m in the area!IMG_8276.JPGVenue: The Milkbar

Address2/38 William St Port Macquarie, NSW

Phone: (02) 6583 2700IMG_8274.JPG

Milkbar on Urbanspoon

IT’S COMING!

Not just any weekend, it’s the #humanbrochure weekend! All of our #101localhuman training has come down to this one weekend where we can show off #canberra (or the more trendy hashtag #cbr) to our interstate guests as well as our social media fan base (hello, is anybody out there?).

My guests and I have been lucky enough to be chosen to participate in a master class on curing and smoking meats at Poachers Pantry (#Poachersway) followed by a Poachers Platter of smoked meats, accompanied by the vineyards Wily Trout wines. I will try to squeeze in as much as possible with them but with so much to see (and eat) and such little time, let’s see if they can keep up! I will be clogging your #instagram and #FB feeds more than usual this weekend, just a heads up!

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p.s. it was not deliberate to see how many hastags I could fit into post, just a happy coincidence.

Chocolate D’Or – Robyn Rowe’s chocolates

I didn’t expect to head to Robyn Rowe’s straight after our brunch at Poachers pantry but then again I didn’t expect to eat two breakfasts that morning either. It is literally down the road from Poachers pantry, so it would be silly not to go to Chocolate D’Or!

Robyn serving happy customers who have driven quite a long way to visit her.IMG_4313.JPGA window into their operations and behind the scenes area.IMG_4312.JPGI wonder if the staff get paid in money or chocolate… I would choose a little from column A and a little from column B!IMG_4326.JPGThey have a nice patio to sit and enjoy their hand-made chocolates.IMG_4311.JPGMore seating out in the sun, if only it came out to play.IMG_4310.JPGDespite being full, each couple ordered an assiette to share which consists of a hot chocolate (milk or dark), three chocolate truffles, a chocolate cup filled with ice cream and complete with a chocolate spoon ($18.00). It would be hard to choose only three truffles from their large range of flavours that they had but I told myself that one day I’ll get around to trying every flavour eventually.IMG_4333.JPGSea salted caramel, butterscotch schnapps truffle and a caramel raspberry. Chocolates are made weekly to ensure freshness as they don’t have a long shelf life in comparison to store bought chocolate. I found that this batch of sea salted caramel (which had always been our favourite) to be too salty and sharply drowned out the sweetness of the caramel rather than enhance it. The butterscotch schnapps didn’t impress me that much either but the raspberry caramel- wow! One of my new favourites!

A close up of the goodies on the plate.IMG_4337.JPGWe chose a dark hot chocolate because it was just as tasty as the milk (and TimmyC never usually goes for dark!), you have to stir quickly in order to avoid lumps.IMG_4332.JPGI ❤ their caramel raspberry truffle.IMG_4340.JPGI had also come out here to grab a gift for a dear friend, selections for his truffle box included: lime coconut zing, French vanilla, caramel raspberry and orange créme truffle ($2.00 per truffle).IMG_4321.JPGHmmm, what to choose?IMG_4320.JPGA cute place to grab an afternoon tea as well as grab a lovely gift for someone. After trying their cocoa nibs and chocolate callets, I couldn’t help but buy a block of chocolate for home. Do I dare state that I liked it more than Haighs plain chocolate? I’m a big fan of Callebaut.

According to their website, they have chocolate flavours which include Sea Salted Caramel, Belgian Style Café Truffles, Star Anise Truffles, Orange Créme Truffle, Banana Flambé, Minty, Chilli Chocolate, Caramel Raspberry Framboise, Aramatoquie Poire, (Pear), Open Sesame, Lime Coconut Zing and Caramel Speculaas. Ooooh caramel speculaas! My next flavour to try.

 

Venue: Chocolate D’Or

Address1153 Murrumbateman Rd Nanima, NSW

Phone: (02) 6227 0550

Website: robynrowechocolates.com.au

Chocolate D'Or on Urbanspoon

Brunch at Poachers Pantry

I was very keen to head out to Hall and make a return visit to Poachers Pantry not long after my two 101 local human experiences. Brunch is served from 10am – 11:30am and it was very easy to book a table on the website for 10:30am and it was noted that we would have to vacate our table at 11:45am in time for the lunch time service. Instantly I receive a text and an email confirming my booking, I couldn’t help but feel that Poachers Pantry had been burned before as they also then sent me another text which I had to confirm my table the day before but it gave me peace of mind that I had a table after I drove to the other side of town.IMG_4275.JPGIt was filling up fast inside for the brunch service.IMG_4280.JPGSides~

Parmesan and chive hash brown ($5.00). After being housebound for a few weeks, I might have been a wee bit over excited and ordered two breakfast choices as well as a side but this sounded really interesting. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, I don’t know what they made the hash brown out of but it looked very orange. I think it needed more salt despite supposedly having parmesan cheese in the mix.IMG_4293-0.JPGIMG_4304.JPGBaked farmhouse eggs served with bacon, roast vine tomatoes and potato roesti ($21.00). TimmyC didn’t really go out of his way to share his dish, but I guess I was busy with my two plates of food. He really enjoyed the eggs which had a herby creamy sauce that he could spread over the bread and went very well with everything else on the plate.IMG_4283.JPGA close up of the baked eggs.IMG_4286.JPGButter croissant with Poachers ham and Swiss cheese ($9.00)IMG_4289.JPGHuevos rancheros with smoked lamb, fried egg and an avocado chipotle sauce ($22.00).IMG_4290.JPG

IMG_4291.JPGPumpkin and ricotta hotcakes with maple bacon and cinnamon sugar ($21.00). I thought the pumpkin would be pureed and used to create a moist dense hotcake but there were actual chunks of pumpkin giving sweet pockets within every few bites. Not the most ‘normal’ sounding breakfast but the sweet and salty flavours went really well together despite the fact that it looked like someone went a bit crazy with the cinnamon sugar. IMG_4295-1.JPG

Injectable doughnuts with salted dulce de leche ($17.00). My failed attempt of injecting the doughnuts left TimmyC commenting that my filling only went ‘pimple deep’ :/ The filling was more liquid-y than I thought it would be, so it really just soaked into the doughnut rather than being a thick sweet paste. I think it would  have worked better if the doughnuts were slightly smaller and there was more filling.IMG_4298.JPG

IMG_4302.JPGWe weren’t rushed out after our meal even though my slow eating caused us to go a little over the time limit. People were very happy with their brunch choices and I left feeling overly full and greedy, maybe next time I’ll stick to just one menu item.

It doesn’t really feel that you’re in Canberra any more when you drive out to where the air feels cleaner but conveniently it isn’t that far away from the city as long as you don’t drive past the turn off.

Four Winds Vineyard: A day of Food and Wine #humanbrochure

The next stop during our day of food and wine tour was at the Four Winds Vineyard, I was truly lost after I had my head down instagramming and looked up and saw nothing but green lush grass and picturesque scenery. I know this is technically in NSW and not Canberra but I figure it’s like what Australia does when a New Zealander becomes really famous, they are close enough so we claim them as our own.20140610-222433-80673254.jpgWe were greeted by Bill Crowe the winemaker and his sister-in-law and business manager of the vineyard, Sarah Collingwood. We were told that this was a family run business consisting of only six people, it was founded by the parents Suzanne and Graeme Lunney and both their daughters and their husbands got involved with the winery too.

We start piling into Four Winds vineyard’s cellar door.20140610-222427-80667611.jpg

20140610-222431-80671710.jpgWe then took a stroll through the vineyard, past the free roaming chickens to where they house their stainless steel vats. We all half joked that would wouldn’t mind one of these vats in our homes, but I’m pretty sure some of us heavily considered rolling one back to the bus. We all took a sample of their Riesling which was yet to be filtered and scheduled to be bottled next week but we before all started sipping away, Bill taught us all how to properly taste wine in several steps.

Wine has a lot of volatile aroma compounds and to capture all this, you have to stick your nose in the glass and smell the wine. After this, you swirl the wine in the glass to create a thin coating around the inside of the glass and then smell it again, the scent was completely different and I was really astounded. I thought pompous people just swirled it to look fancy, who knew that there was an actual logic to it. Following all the smelling, you’re supposed to sip some wine and hold it in your mouth, that was the fourth step while the fifth step was to suck in some air at the same time as the wine passes through your mouth but even Bill admits that it is a bit OTT and hates it when people do it.

Just strolling through the vineyard, life is hard.

20140610-222421-80661874.jpgThe old school contraption they use for ‘pressing’.20140610-222654-80814690.jpgFour Winds vineyard uses stainless steel vats for their fermentation process.20140610-222650-80810380.jpgI didn’t say ‘when’.20140610-222651-80811835.jpgShowing off their Riesling paired with my nails.20140610-222656-80816515.jpgFollowing our lesson in wine tasting, our senses were then really put to the test when we went through a ‘blind sniff test’ where we had to pair different scents in numbered bottles to familiar foods and flowers. I didn’t do too badly but I didn’t get around to smelling all the bottles before we started marking. The different kind of berries definitely confused my nose.

Ready, set, sniff! 20140610-222656-80816125.jpgThe local humans putting their nose to the test.20140610-222657-80817810.jpgAfter Emelia took the prize for having the best sense of smell (full marks!), we all headed back down to the winery where we found Graeme cooking up wood fired pizzas with a variety of toppings: BBQ chicken; potato and gorgonzola;  and salami and black olive. I was trying to create a facade that I can’t eat a whole pizza to myself with ease by I only take two of the three flavours of pizza and a bit of salad. The pizza bases that are made on the premises was so good and really brought out the flavours of the toppings, they were simple but yet so tasty. They brought out so many pizzas and I had to go for seconds! The pizzas were also served with a side of two salads and all the ingredients were really fresh and delicious. Our non gluten vegetarian friend was taken care of with her very own gluten-free pizza base with potato and gorgonzola. The toppings weren’t too ‘busy’ so the natural flavours of the ingredients had to stand alone without a heavy cheese blanket to hide under.20140610-222659-80819136.jpg20140610-222758-80878083.jpgFirst plate!20140610-222759-80879417.jpgOnly on the third stop and some of our fellow humans started to run out of battery, desperate times calls for desperate measures.20140610-222755-80875262.jpgFour Winds vineyard’s cellar door is ready for your tasting.20140610-222756-80876786.jpgI found their cellar door simple and stunning (just like their food!). The building was made from as much recycled products as possible, which I am a very big fan of. The red bricks were recycled, their gorgeous lights are upcycled wine barrels, their unique windows are old wine bottles and part of the building was made with old picking bins and a shipping container.20140610-222423-80663277.jpg

20140610-222434-80674604.jpgI love their funky windows.20140610-222424-80664828.jpgI thought these cards on each table were adorable!20140610-222900-80940654.jpg

Bottles of wine were purchased amongst the happy and full food and wine group and we jumped back on the bus after thanking the Four Winds vineyards for their hospitality.

Venue: Four Winds Vineyard

Address: 9 Patemans Lane Murrumbateman NSW 2582

Phone: 0432 060 903

Prices: this experience was paid for buy VisitCanberra as part of the 101 local humans campaign for the human brochure.

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.

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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

The Pancake Place

The Pancake Place might seem like an unusual choice for dinner but they have an extensive savoury crepe menu and then there are some people who still act like they are five and choose sweet pancakes for dinner *looks at TimmyC*.

This establishment has been in Port Macquarie for more than 20 years and it brings much nostalgia to those who used to come here for a treat as a kid, not because it is still open and serving delicious pancakes, but because the decor, friendly hospitality and uniform have not changed much since.

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If we are going to do a kid indulgent meal, we may as well complete it with an iced caramel ($6.50) and iced coffee ($6.50). It is very nicely decorated with cream, ‘tv snacks’ and sprinkles.
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Large stack of 3 pancakes ($14.90) with extra ice cream ($1.50) and extra syrup. Thick fluffy pancakes that have never disappointed. I’m glad that we got an extra scoop otherwise I don’t think they would have gone far enough for three pancakes. I also like how if you want extra syrup they leave it with you at the table.

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Gourmet crepes~

Each savoury crepe comes with a soft roll with delicious butter. The meals came out at lightning speed, drinks and water came out within minutes of ordering and in less than 10 minutes all meals were on the table.

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Bologneseprime ground beef with onions, mushrooms, garlic, tomato and red wine, topped with a mild cheese sauce (lite bites $16.90).

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Chicken and asparaguschicken, mild cheese and asparagus with our creamy wine sauce (lite bites $18.90).

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Mexicanprime ground beef with chilli, capsicum and beans topped with melted cheese (lite bites $16.90). Obviously not authentic, just an Australian Mexican version complete with Doritos corn chips. I chose a small one so I could fit in sweet pancakes for dessert but even after eating the small one I was stuffed. Lite bites just mean there is less filling. The salad was very bright filled with unusual things such as kiwi fruit, watermelon, zucchini, red cabbage, pretzels, tomatoes, pineapple, canned fruit and fresh strawberries.

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Always fast friendly service here at the Pancake Place, but I think that the savoury crepes lacked a bit of salt and flavour having only used very mild cheeses and the ‘cream of the crop’ choice on the menu would be their sweet pancake options.

Venue: The Pancake Place

Address: Clarence Street, Port Macquarie, New South Wales 2444, Australia

Phone: (02) 6584544 They apparently don’t take reservations during the peak holiday season, it is a first come first serve basis but we didn’t have any trouble getting a seat for dinner.

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