Les Bistronomes Saturday degustations

I had seen on my Facebook feed that Les Bistronomes was doing a 5 course degustation for only $50.00 per person on Saturdays and I promised my stomach that we would go. And so we went.

Complimentary bread and butter.5 course degustation ($50.00 per person)

Escargot and pork rillettes. Quintessentially French. The escargot was in an intense herb and garlic sauce, which was easy to dig out from the shell. I really enjoyed the rillettes as the pickle gave the right amount of tang with the meat and the crouton was perfectly crunchy.Escargot anyone?Beetroot and goat curd. I found this visually stunning dish simple with a great balance of flavours. The goat curd itself wasn’t really strong and I liked how they used an array of coloured beets which were subtly sweet.Alternative dish mushroom delight. TimmyC dislikes beetroot and goat dairy products, so he requested an alternative dish for his second course. This was on the saltier side but very moreish and amazing if they had to just make something on the spot.Duck breast with foie gras salad. This was a very light salad with good balance of acidity and salt. The foie gras was delicately shaved and was enjoyed by everyone including me who doesn’t usually eat it.

Pork with nectarine. I was expecting a big piece of meat but the slices of pork were very tender and succulent. I did find the other edges of my portion were fatty and inedible but not everyone had that. The dressing was on the sweeter side but it paired nicely with the meat.

Crème brûlée. It is always a grand theatrical conversation stopper when Les Bistronomes serve up their crème brûlée complete with flames. The custard itself is cold but very smooth and silky. It is a generous serve to say the least, especially when you’re finishing off a degustation, but I managed to squeeze it all in *pats belly*.One just for me? I wasn’t feeling full at this point but I had a feeling I was about to be after this course.Over the 5 courses, it covered an array of meats and flavours while not being was overly heavy. The degustation is a steal for $50 bucks especially when the crème brûlée alone is usually $16.00.

Venue: Les Bistronomes

Degustation details: Saturdays, 5 courses for $50.00, bookings recommended

Phone(02) 6248 8119

Dimmi: yes, you can book through the app and earn points.

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Courgette 

It has been a while since I’ve last dined at Courgette but a spontaneous lunch was booked with wonderful company, it was an offer too good to refuse.

I’ve always loved their cutlery.Three course lunch ($66.00 per person).

Complimentary bread with smoked butter. This had a magical crunchy exterior with a soft bready interior served warm with amazing butter. This was just bread and butter so I was excited for what was still to come.Entree~ (yes all of us chose the same entree)

In house smoked salmon, seared scallop, fennel sand, cauliflower puree, fermented black garlic. The salmon wasn’t overly smoked or salty which kept the palette rather clean throughout this course. I haven’t had a good scallop for a while and there were two big juicy plump ones on my plate. I was so happy!Main~

Flaked ocean trout, king prawn, baby squid, pea puree, squid ink crumb, pernod beurre blanc.Sous vide Angus beef tenderloin, baby spinach, red cabbage gel, artichoke, thyme and port jus. It might appear too rare for some (inside was quite pink), but the beef was tender and I cut through it effortlessly. A great pairing of flavours on the plate and with a few spoonfuls of the Paris mash, this was the ultimate lunch.Maple glazed muscovy duck breast, couscous, kale, celeriac puree, tomato eggplant relish, prune gel.Sides~

Paris mash ($7.00). Not as buttery and rich as I remember it used to be but still ridiculously smooth and paired perfectly with the beef.

Asparagus, pine nuts, sunflower seeds ($7.00). Cooked perfectly and a great addition to any main meal.Dessert~

Dropped cinnamon apple pie, vanilla bean custard, burnt apple ice cream, toasted oat crumb. The presentation reminds me of Massimo’s dropped pie from Osteria Francescana. It is a classic dessert given a beautiful modern face lift and I loved every mouthful. The perfect winter warmer dessert.Cheese and bickies Guilloteau Buche d’Affinois triple cream Brie, Reypenaer VSOP aged Gouda, Wyngaard Chevre Affine. When my friend said to try some of cheese board, I didn’t envisage myself eating almost half of it, but I found all three cheese delicious and very moreish.This is one of the best meals that I’ve had in Canberra in a long time, one wonders why it took me so long to come back.

Noma Australia re-run

This title might seem a little odd as Noma Australia isn’t a place you usually get into once during their ten week pop up at Barangaroo, let alone twice (see my first post here).

I had said to TimmyC during my wedding speech that I didn’t know how he was going to top taking me to the Fat Duck when it was in Melbourne, but I hoped that he would try and here I am. I know I am a very lucky girl when there were supposedly 27,000 people on a wait list.

The menu was mainly unchanged since our last visit, although they had incorporated the avocado as another course into the degustation and there wasn’t any foraged blackberries this time. Overall, the consistency between visits was pretty high.

This time we went for lunch, I was hoping to get better photos with the natural light.

An overall glance at the entire 13 course degustation menu ($493 per person including credit card costs).Unripe macadamia and spanner crab the juice of a spanner crab, green macadamia nuts with rose oil.Wild seasonal berries flavoured with gubinge bowl of berries (lilli pilli, native lime etc) with seaweed oil dusted with kakadu native plum powder.Porridge of golden and desert oak wattleseed with saltbush wattle porridge topped with salt bush and finger lime.Seafood platter and crocodile fat starting from the bottom right hand corner pipi, blue mussel, strawberry clam, cockle and oyster all prepared with tomato juice and crocodile fat.

This time I remembered to take a photo!W.A. deep sea snow crab with cured egg yolk lightly steamed snow crab in a fermented kangaroo meat sauce (we are pretty sure that is what they said).PIE: dried scallops and nasturium flowers kelp tart with scallop fudge and a celery reduction served with foraged flowers.BBQed milk ‘dumpling’ with marron and magpie goose marron brushed with magpie goose ragout wrapped in a burnt milk skin.Mushroom paste and tomato dried with pepperberries semi dried tomatoes from the Blue Mountains with mushroom paste. This was the alternative dish to sea urchin.Truffle and avocado kelp, avocado and truffle.Abalone schnitzel and bush condiments finger lime, beach floral bouquet, succulent, kakadu native plum, Neptune’s necklace, glass beads, seaside fennel served with an abalone schnitzel and celery yeast water.It takes great skill to cook abalone well.The table was divided between choosing their favourite course between the snow crab, marron and the schnitzel; they were all still my favourite and I enjoyed them even more the second time around.

Marinated fresh fruit mango ice cream sandwich with green ants, compressed watermelon with black currant wood oil and pineapple sprayed in whisky and sprinkled with some salt.A close up of the mango gelato sandwich with green ants.Mirrabelle plum, lime and pepperberry twigs.Rum lamington lamington with milk crumb and native tamarind sauce.Peanut milk and freekah “Baytime”.Native lime.Noma have auctioned off their last dinner service (2nd April) in Australia, with profits going to OzHarvest and MAD. They have also given back to the community by allowing hospitality students an opportunity to dine at Noma free of charge, a tour of the kitchen and time to meet members of the Noma team. They also offered a vocational program for aspiring chefs and waiters as well as baking bread for the homeless.

I think it was fantastic having the Noma team in Australia, they have inspired chefs, they have pushed boundaries and showed off Australia’s unique native ingredients.

 

Camping 

I survived!

Much to the surprise of my friends, family, colleagues (basically everyone I know) and even myself, I went camping for the first time recently. One of my friends really wanted to go camping for her birthday and despite my hesitancy, lack of preparedness and fear of frogs, she insisted that she had everything and all I needed was my sense of adventure and something to sleep on.

Since then, I have discovered that I like daytime camping and night camping is well… Different.

Our camp site was around Berlang, 40 minutes away from Braidwood and yes, part of the allure of camping there was the promise of a vanilla slice on the way home. When the birthday girl and I arrived, it was getting dark fast and drizzling with rain- a terrific start!

We quickly set up the tent, threw in our sleeping gear and began to start a fire. The damp wood wasn’t going so well and our lovely camping neighbours came over to see if we needed any help. The birthday girl asked if they had any dry wood, they came back and started chopping up logs and wooden floor boards.

I laughed nervously and said “that’s exactly what I want my neighbours to have, an axe”.

The rain got heavier and the promise of sizzling steaks over the campfire were quickly extinguished along with the fire that we had just started. We had dinner inside the tent (cold roast chicken sandwiches with camp cheese which were very satisfying when you’re really hungry) and waited for our other two friends to arrive. They were only supposed to be an hour behind us but they arrived just after 10pm.

By then it was raining harder and we were very happy that they got there safely.At first I thought we could just all sleep together in one tent that night and figure out their tent in the morning, however it turns out that their mattress was huge and there was nothing to do but erect their tent at 10:30pm in the rain and darkness. It was a new tent straight out of the box so we had to figure it out where things belonged as we went, when it rains it pours. *hahaha*

It turns out that the wet weather brings out the frogs in the area… One of a few things that I do not enjoy being around so I started to get very conscious of closing the tent completely and was a bit jumpy every time there was movement. From then on, I brought a frog checker every time I went to the bathroom (my friends are very sweet to me).

I woke up in the middle of the night trying to rotate on a noisy air mattress on top of a stretcher bed. As I laid there, I thought about the bathroom even though I didn’t need to go and I felt I was psyching myself out. I contemplated finding reception, getting TimmyC to come pick me up from frogville and we could drive off into the sunset back to civilization with a vanilla slice in hand. Even if I really was going to do that, I would still need to wait until the morning so I told myself to go back to sleep.

The morning sunshine brought with it a new sense of hope. I could see properly now (my torch died on the first night), the rain dried up and we were preparing breakfast. My friends quickly found out how much I love prodding fire and burning things. I was like a little kid at Christmas when they said I could burn their tea bags etc in the camp fire.


You can take the girl out of the restaurant but you can’t take food blogger out of the girl. There I was, in the middle of no where rearranging my plate for a photo. Fried egg and sausages, soft bread roll with butter and a cup of tea.
There was one cooked sausage left and it was pointless to store it. My friend said that if I reheated it in the fire for her, she would eat it. When I gave it back to her, I asked her ‘do you know what this is?’, when she replied with ‘what?’ I carefully chose my words ‘this is a twice cooked, flamed licked, tea infused sausage’.

There was a lot of tea drinking but in my mind I wasn’t going to go out of my way and drink anything that was going to act as a diuretic out in the bush.

The billy was constantly going to heat up for the next round of hot beverages and I decided I’d participate in every 5th cup with them.It turns out that ex-girl guides are the best people to go camping with. The birthday girl made a bivouac for us using fancy knots and a tarp, a camp oven and she also built a camp shower?! I started calling her ‘Macguider’, get it? Macgyver and girl guide, well it sounded much more amusing when you’re out in the bush.

For lunch we had wraps which I convinced the girls to toast in the cast iron pan so I could build up the fire again. Rice wraps with smoked chicken, avocado, tomato and cheese.Before it got dark again, the birthday girl made a camp oven out of a chip box, aluminium foil, aluminium trays and some heat beads. This was amazing to watch as I didn’t think it was possible to make a cake in the wilderness. Our camp cake was catered for multiple dietary needs; it contained gluten free self raising flour, Nuttelex, one egg, lactose free chocolate milk and a little bit of chocolate shards scattered through it. It was done in about 20 minutes and smelt really good.Shhh… The cake is baking.Ta da! All done!For our last breakfast, we finally ate the steaks that were supposed to be our dinner on Friday night. It was a hearty breakfast of sautéed onions and mushrooms, grilled tomato, steak and BBQed corn.

Cooking the old school way, on top of a fire and of course… The billy is on again!I could get used to these hot hearty breakfasts.BBQed corn is the best!Fast forward to the next camping trip (yes apparently I love her that much that I went twice), we made dietary needs friendly breakfast. This time it was french toast, gluten free pancakes with stewed apples, fresh berries and lactose free yoghurt.

People were getting creative on their plates.Beautiful plates styled breakfast using plastic plates and utensils.
Gluten free pancakes with lactose free yoghurt, fresh berries and stewed apples, who would have thought it made for such pretty breakfast.Gluten reduced french toast.
I was wondering if I could just go camping during the day, set up a fire, eat all day and then maybe return to a nice cottage or 5 star hotel at night, but someone pointed out that that would just be picnicking.

I was very lucky to have my first few camping trips with people who were so organised and excited about food (almost) as much as I am. Thanks for letting me camp with you ladies.

Progressive dinner – Sydney edition 

When I’m in Sydney, I try to eat what I can’t get in Canberra, foods like ramen, fresh sushi, good Thai and of course dumplings. So when I had limited time in Sydney and had only eaten ramen and sushi so far, there was nothing else to do but drag my friends for a progressive dinner to tick more boxes from my ‘to eat’ list.


To go to somewhere new, where over half the menu really excites you but you know you can’t order that much was really hard. My friend was telling me about Petaling Street, an awesome hawker restaurant and I was keen to make it the first stop during our progressive dinner in Sydney.

A few key dishes (and drinks) were chosen and enjoyed by everyone but my favourite dish was the roti canai with curry chicken. The roti was nice and flaky while the curry had lots of flavour with tender chicken.

Progressive dinner stop: #1

Venue: Petaling Street: Malaysian Hawker Food

Address: 760 George Street, Haymarket, Chinatown, Sydney,NSW

Amount per person: $10.00

Cheong fun, roti canai with chicken curry, char kway teow and Hainanese chicken rice.
Petaling Street: Malaysian Hawker Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


This was an unexpected stop as a fellow foodie pointed out that we were in close proximity to a Thai place, which did cheap small bowls of noodles. It sounded like a perfect addition to the progressive dinner and I was keen for some Thai food anyway.

Do Dee Paidang have tom yum soups, all with different meats, a choice of noodle and different levels of chilli. I along with the other non-chilli eaters stuck with the tom yum soup with tender pork rib and fresh noodles. We enjoyed the sour taste of the tom yum with the delicious meatiness of the pork ribs, while the hardcore chilli eaters went with the level 3 soup (out of 7). Watching one of the chilli eaters sweat and struggle with the heat of the soup made me curious about how hot their bowl was. I coated my spoon in a little bit of soup (I’m not crazy enough to actually drink any of the soup) and licked it, immediately I could feel the heat on my tongue which quickly spread to the back of my throat. Whoa, that was intense, I wonder who actually eats level 7!

Feeling bad that we were taking up a table even though we just wanted noodle soup, I order entrée of chicken satay skewers ($8.90), which were more expensive than our noodles ($6.00) but were really really delicious and I don’t usually eat satay.

Progressive dinner stop: #2

Venue: Do Dee Paidang Thai Noodle Bar & Cafe

Address: 9, 37 Ultimo Rd, Haymarket NSW 2000

Amount per person: $4.20Do Dee Paidang Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


We were told that they were no longer selling Papa roti for the day and my smile quickly turned into a frown. I was really looking forward to eating a coffee bun with a delicious buttery aroma.

Progressive dinner stop: #3

Venue: Papa Roti

Address: 663 George St, Haymarket NSW 2000

Amount per person: five sad faces 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦


Din Tai Fung was along the way of our progressive dinner and it would have been ridiculous not to stop. The hard part was not ordering any fried rice, although my friend couldn’t help but order a pork bun too.

We ordered 24 dumplings (and drinks) between the 5 of us and savoured each and every bite.

Progressive dinner stop: #3

Venue: Din Tai Fung

Address: 644 George St, Sydney NSW 2000

Amount per person: $13.00Din Tai Fung Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


You are wondering how we were able to eat more after 3 stops already, but remember we were sharing one delicious original Hot Star chicken ($8.50) between the 5 of us. We tore it into 5 pieces while it was still really hot and it was a few bites of heaven.

Progressive dinner stop: #4

Venue: Hot Star

Address: 96 Liverpool Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Amount per person: $1.70Hot Star Large Fried Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


TimmyC and I were all Aqua S-ed out as we had been there for the past two nights and had already eaten all the flavour combinations but it didn’t stop everyone else from enjoying it. I was surprised TimmyC preferred the pandan ice cream over the lychee (dairy free) but I think it was because of the creamy ice cream texture.

Aqua S change their flavours every Thursday.

Progressive dinner stop: #5

Venue: Aqua S

Address: 27/501 George St, Sydney NSW 2000

Amount per person: $5.00Aqua S Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


A friend of ours popped into Black Star Pastry’s pop up store in the Kinokuniya earlier in the day and got some goodies to share. He got their famous strawberry water melon cake ($7.50/slice) and a caramel panna cotta ($9.00).

Progressive dinner stop: #6

Venue: Black Star Pastry (pop up)

Address: The Galleries, 2/500 George St, Sydney NSW 2000

Amount per person: $4.80Black Star Pastry Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


I had promised to take TimmyC to Messina and a promise is a promise. Everyone else had returned to their hotels and while TimmyC and I light railed our way straight to The Star.

We had chosen ‘Gay ol’ time’ which didn’t taste anything like a gaytime but TimmyC still really enjoyed it.

Progressive dinner stop: #7

Venue: Messina

AddressCafe Court, Level G, 80 Pyrmont StreetPyrmont NSW 2009

Amount per TimmyC: $4.80Gelato Messina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


I was really impressed with the amount of stops we were able to make without being ridiculously full. We got to eat a lot of variety and the best of what every venue had to offer. Tell me dear reader, have you had a progressive dinner?

 

Noma Australia

If you somehow have not heard, Noma have made a home in Barangaroo, Australia for 10 weeks. Bookings were highly anticipated for the number 3 restaurant in the world and the entire 10-week calendar (excluding some special events) was sold out in less than 2 minutes. I was lucky enough to have dinner there last Friday night.

This has got to be one of the most photographed walls in Sydney.The view from the terrace.When we arrived, they knew what the person who made the booking looked like. They must have stalked him through social media/google like many other restaurants do. We were slightly early to our booking so the Noma staff offered us a drink on their terrace. Without asking if everyone wanted the aperitif, they poured 6 glasses and I naturally just gave mine to TimmyC. They were very liberal with the refills and then we were brought inside to our table.

Snakebite aperitif a mix of cider and beer ($25.00 per person). I was a bit shocked at the price but I guess after the price we paid for the meal I shouldn’t really be. I was a little disappointed that they poured me a glass even though I didn’t have any but TimmyC had both glasses and multiple refills so I guess we didn’t lose out.We were greeted by the kitchen staff who waited patiently for my phone to unfreeze and capture a quick photo before sitting down. The table was modestly decorated with a big flat plate, simple napkins and of course native Australian plants.

I finally got my camera to unfreeze and stop holding everyone up.A small intimate dining room setting.Soon after choosing beverages, a wave of chefs come to our table and all 6 of us were served instantaneously. Throughout the night, the dishes are served and taken away in this efficient manner.12 course degustation ($493 per person including credit card costs).

Unripe macadamia and spanner crab the juice of a spanner crab, green macadamia nuts with rose oil. I was surprised to find this cold and served on ice but I guess it kept the crab juices fresh and crisp on the palette. I found that some bites were more crab juice intense while with others the rose oil was stronger, but every mouthful had a nice crunch to it.Wild seasonal berries flavoured with gubinge bowl of berries (lilli pilli, native lime etc) with seaweed oil dusted with kakadu native plum powder. With so many berries each with their own unique taste, every bite was different. TimmyC called it Russian roulette as something within that berry mix was not agreeing with his taste buds. Some bites tasted nuttier than others but my favourite mouthfuls was when I’d get a bursts of citrus from the native lime.Porridge of golden and desert oak wattleseed with saltbush wattle porridge topped with salt bush and finger lime. Despite the wattleseed being prepared for many hours, I found it too hard, slightly dry and chewy for my liking. The finger lime helped but this dish wasn’t my favourite.Seafood platter and crocodile fat starting from the bottom right hand corner pipi, blue mussel, strawberry clam, cockle and oyster all prepared with tomato juice and crocodile fat. Okay, I may have gotten a little over excited and  finished eating without taking a photo first. I am only (a hungry) human. I liked how the brittle sticky covering gave each shellfish a nice salty oompf while allowing their fabulous natural flavours come through; my favourite one would have to be either the blue mussel or oyster.

You can pretend that they aren’t just empty shellsThere was one oyster left on the table that wasn’t eaten yet when I realised my lack of photos of this dish.W.A. deep sea snow crab with cured egg yolk lightly steamed snow crab in a fermented kangaroo meat sauce (we are pretty sure that is what they said). Hello heaven! The light steaming made the crab meat warm and succulent, while the sauce made it feel like we were eating buttery goodness. I wish this bowl was bigger and never ending.PIE: dried scallops and nasturium flowers kelp tart with scallop fudge and a celery reduction served with foraged flowers. They said that they could not come to Australia and not make a ‘pie’. This was a like a delicate soft savoury tart that I can’t completely describe; I didn’t think it needed the flowers though.BBQed milk ‘dumpling’ with marron and magpie goose marron brushed with magpie goose ragout wrapped in a burnt milk skin. I find it fascinating that they made a ragout from the magpie goose, just to brush the sauce onto the marron. The burnt milk skin was surprisingly sweet when eaten by itself but it provided a beautiful ‘dumpling skin’ to the juicy marron meat. I really enjoyed this.Sea urchin and tomato dried with pepper berries semi dried tomatoes from the Blue Mountains with sea urchin. Now the way I describe this dish was that it felt like art but I didn’t understand it. I don’t usually like sea urchin but I stomached this one okay and the broth cut through the acidity in the tomatoes that I found really intense. I found myself slowly eating this dish as it kept me pondering about what these flavours meant until I finished it all but I still felt a bit puzzled. Others on the table barely touched theirs as they didn’t like it so this was replaced with an alternative dish.Alternate dishavocado, kelp and truffle. The salty exterior of the kelp gave a nice seasoning to the fatty rich avocado, which finished with a truffle after taste. I much preferred this over the sea urchin.Abalone schnitzel and bush condiments finger lime, beach floral bouquet, succulent, kakadu native plum, Neptune’s necklace, glass beads, seaside fennel served with an abalone schnitzel and celery yeast water. Just when I was deciding which one I liked more between the marron or the snow crab, this strong contender was the next course that was served to us.

We were advised to spread the finger lime over the schnitzel, dip it in the sauce and just to eat all the other condiments naturally. It was amazing to see so many familiar things on my plate but I had never thought to eat or taste them before; they all provided interesting textures and subtle flavours. The abalone schnitzel was perfectly crumbed and crispy and dipping it into that sauce just gave it extra levels of flavours and saltiness. I loved the sauce so much I started dipping my bouquet in it just to finish it all off.Delicious celery yeast water.Marinated fresh fruit mango ice cream sandwich with green ants, compressed watermelon with black currant wood oil and pineapple sprayed in whisky and sprinkled with some salt. I thought that the mango gelato was so intense that I didn’t notice what the ants tasted like, I should have picked one off and ate it separately. I really liked the pineapple, the whisky really cut through the acidity and allowed it to be extra sweet.Blackberries served with mirrabelle plum, lime and pepperberry twig. We were told to eat the fruit and then to gently chew on the juniper branch. I thought the fresh blackberries and plum weren’t overly sweet especially when pairing it with the last juice but the twig was really interesting as it gave my mouth some heat.Rum lamington lamington with milk crumb and native tamarind sauce. I knew I was eating something because I put spoonfuls of it into my mouth, but what looked like sponge cake before me dissolved on my tongue almost instantly. It was almost like eating fairy floss with the way it disappeared. The native tamarind sauce gave the whole dessert a nice tart tang.Peanut milk and freekah “Baytime”. When they said that they couldn’t use the name of a certain ice-cream and replaced the name with “Baytime” because we were by the water, I had a certain expectation in my mind. What this reminded me of was more of an ice-cream picnic bar as the peanut flavour was quite strong and it had a toffee centre. Native lime. This reminded me of dried mandarin peels that I used to eat as a kid, the skin quickly dissolved to give you a sweet then sour aftertaste.Beverages~

Juice parings (5 juices $95.00)

It felt really weird drinking a juice with oil in it but helped coat the mouth before all these intense seafood courses came out. When had by itself, these juices were really intense in flavour but it eventually rounded out in my mouth when paired with food.

Bergamot kombucha / native mint 

Rose/spruce wood oil 

Green tomato / lemon myrtle 

smoked pepper/red pepper berry

blood plum/native lemongrass This was really sweet unlike the other juices of the degustation.Wine pairings (there were 7 wines $215.00)

Tea and coffee ($10.00 each).The first question most people ask me is ‘how was Noma/the fancy restaurant?’ and I respond with ‘Noma isn’t for everyone’.

That statement has nothing to do with the price but really the meat heavy culture we have in Australia. The time leading up to my meal at Noma, I was in a ‘no spoilers’ mode for trying to keep the menu a surprise to get the full effect on the day. I knew it would be seafood heavy with tropical fruits but I was surprised to find that there was no red meat on the menu.

A lot of my friends won’t eat seafood unless it is a crumbed piece of fish next to fried chips, so to serve shellfish and sea urchin would be wasted on some (like the sad feelings I get when non-Asians go to a Chinese wedding and don’t eat much). The reality is that the majority of us don’t eat as much seafood as other parts of the world, despite our iconic saying of throwing another shrimp on the barbie.

To have been ranked number 1 in the world, you can’t just cook the usual things really well, you have to break new ground, find new ingredients and do things a little differently, which Noma has done during their time in Australia. I felt a bit naïve at the end of the meal as these chefs have come to our country to show of our unique and native ingredients to us.

People ask me if it was worth the money and I say yes. If the number 3 restaurant in the world comes to your doorstep and prepares unique ingredients for a 10-week stint, you say ‘yes!’. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and a unique dining experience.

Venue: Noma Australia

Address: 23 Barangaroo Ave, New South Wales 2146

Website: http://noma.dk/australia/
Noma Australia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A lot of Barangaroo is still under construction but in a few years, I cannot wait to see what this place becomes.

Attica

Sorry to those who have been waiting for this post to come out (it might only be José who was waiting, sorry!). I was absolutely ecstatic to get a booking at Attica and the memories of this dinner will stay with me always.

When people ask me to describe my meal, I tell them that Attica is Australia’s only restaurant to make it to The World’s 50 best restaurants, but that isn’t the only reason why I wanted to go. There is Spanish cuisine, French, Italian and a big up and coming South American wave but there really isn’t much in the way of Australian cuisine. Attica uses lots of Australian produce and native herbs and spices that show off our country’s unique ingredients, so it was nice to have an Australian restaurant using Australian ingredients (by a NZ chef hehehe) to make it on the coveted top 50 list.

 

The evening’s dinner was broken up into a lot (and I mean a lot!) of little starters, 4 mains, 1 palette cleanser, 2 desserts and of course ending the night with the very famous Pukeko egg. It ended up being a five and a half hour dinner with excitement at every new plate, good company and lots of fabulous food.

 

I felt the modest furnishings of the food and the unlikely suburban location of the restaurant reflected the humble personality of the talented chef Ben Shewry.
Starters~
Now there were lots of these and I’ll just write about the most interesting and also my absolute favourite ones (it was hard to choose), otherwise it will take me another 4 months to write this post.

 

House made sour cream apple balsamic and olive oil with leaves.

Pickle daikon, pumpkin beetroot with honey mustard.

Steamed pippies with seaweed butter.

Mouth full of green asparagus sugar snap peas walnut purée. For something that seemed so simple, this really took me by surprise with how much I enjoyed it. The flavours and textures seemed so fresh that it showed off these humble ingredients at its best.

Fresh cheese and honeycomb cows milk cheese made on site with honeycomb with hazelnut oil and lemon. It seemed like an odd pairing but the flavours worked so well together. I love how the honeycomb is served fresh onto the plate.

Crispy artichoke with snow crab.
Wallaby blood pikelet malt vinegar cream with native plum jam. It felt very strange to have a pikelet with blood in it but if you didn’t tell me I’m unsure if I would have noticed.
Chicken carrots carrot with marinated chicken thigh sorrel and tarragon. This was like a little carrot taco. I really enjoyed the marinated chicken and the carrot provided the perfect ‘taco shell’ which doesn’t fall apart as you try and eat it.
Baby corn. I’m not usually a fan of creepy corn (that is what I call baby corn) but this was served even younger than what we would normally find at supermarkets. The corn barely feels like it has individual kernels and has a different taste; more juicy and refreshing rather than sweet.

Mussels freshly shucked mussels, battered flash fried served with succulents. I thought this was fantastic. The flash fried cooking really brought out the mussels natural sweetness. 
Beef on the Bone. There is something primal yet modern about this dish. The ribboned beef carefully weaved  on the ‘skewer’ placed on a beautiful plate really contrasted to the fact that I was eating of a sharpened bone. The beef was beautiful and I really wanted more than one bite that we got.Garden herbs in a light chicken stock. Errr, eating got the better of me and only  when I was almost done eating, did I remember to take a photo.  Just take my word that it was beautifully presented. The stock was really light and all the flavours came from all the interesting herbs and flowers, I just wished that the starters were more spaced out so I didn’t feel rushed while finishing my broth to attend to the next dish.House made bread and condiments.Macadamia purée with macadamia oil and saltbush leaves.

Mains~

Red kangaroo with bunya bunya. I thought that the carrots and currants were the star of the dish and the kangaroo just played the perfect side kick.Look at that amazing colour.
Marron. It was suggested to us that the best bit of the marron was the tail so don’t bother with the body, so what did we do? We tore open the pincers and the body to eat whatever we could find, as daintily as we could before proceeding to the delicious tail. Even though the tail was admittedly better, I definitely thought it was still worth eating the meat from the upper part of the body.So much prettiness in the detail.Yeasty potatoes with cheesy rind sauce. I love potatoes and I love cheese so this dish was perfect for me. There was definitely lots of depth to this dish; the array of flavours became more intense the more you ate. It left me feeling warm and comforted, with a craving for more cheese sauce.

Adding the final touches at the table.142 Days on Earth emu with baby red cabbage. So cutely named because that is the time it took for the cabbage to grow and get to your plate. Just when I thought the dish was complete, the server kept on adding more and more on top. I have never had emu before and I naively thought it would taste like chicken, instead, it was a dark heavier meat. This dish to me felt like a rich heavy stew mixed in with the delicate leaves of the baby cabbage. It was really interesting and I love how this dish was prepared and so thoughtfully named.Half time oranges. The flesh of the frozen orange segment was replaced by orange sorbet and lemon myrtle. We were taken outside for a spot of ‘tennis’ (our skills really sucked) and then we were undeservedly rewarded with our half time oranges. It was really cold on my teeth but it made for a refreshing palette cleanser despite being a little salty and tart.We were taken into their garden with lots of beautiful flowers and herbs for the ‘half time show’.Dessert~

Maria’s Green Apple granny smith apple filled with cream cheese served with fermented rhubarb. I was so amused by the never ending coil of the delicate apple. The tartness of the apple was balanced out by the cream cheese filling and was given the ever so slightly sweet touch by the rhubarb. I loved this! How beautifully delicate is this dessert!
Lois’ Jelly Whip sheeps milk gelato, mandarin jam, freeze fried sorrel and coconut. Just when I didn’t think the desserts could get any better, out came the next one. It was hard to describe but the gelato was perfectly soft which contrasted against the crunchy textures of the top. Nothing was overly sweet and OTT, it was just a lovely balance of flavours and textures. 

I was so happy after two amazing desserts and ready to be rolled out the door that I almost forgot about the Pukeko egg, but after the cute patch of grass with three eggs balanced perfectly on top was placed down in front of us, I quickly forgot about feeling full and my eyes widened with excitement.
Pukeko’s Egg. The chocolate shell was beautifully decorated to look like a spotted egg and inside was mainly hollow except for the patch of very thick caramel which was incredible. I broke apart my shell and dipped my pieces into the paste savouring every bite. TimmyC was wondering if he could get 5 more on the way out, he was a massive fan.

It was wonderful to have been served by lots of different people and chefs, it allowed the people who helped create the dish to be proud of their work and serve it to happy customers.

The menu is forever changing at Attica but a few key dishes get a longer run time. I would happily go again if I ever get the chance.

Venue: Attica
Address: 74 Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea, VIC 3185
Phone: (03) 9530 0111
Bookings: Bookings are released on a month-by-month basis on the first Wednesday of each month at 9am, three months in advance. Bookings can be made via their website.

 

Attica Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

MoVida – Melbourne series

Okay, most people plan their interstate trips to do multiple things but TimmyC and I came to Melbourne (this time) to specifically eat at MoVida. TimmyC’s trendy cousin was generous enough to buy me a voucher to the MoVida group but because the other restaurants were not open yet since the New Year holidays, we booked a table for 3 at the original MoVida.Complimentary~

Warmed bread with olive oil. Always a happy surprise when a restaurant gives you delicious warmed bread for free!I loved their personalised wine glasses.
Tapa~ I love the thought that these morsels were made so well, individually portioned and reasonably priced; it didn’t matter if no one wanted to share with me, I could just order one for myself.
Yabbie special ($9.00 each). I thought this was a refreshing morsel but nothing really specifically unique. It was good to have at the beginning of the meal before the heavier, deep fried tapas arrived.
Queso quince paste cigar with whipped goats milk cheese ($4.00 each). I’m not particularly fond of goats milk products but that didn’t stop me from ordering this just to see how it would taste. I liked it so much I convinced the rest of the table to order another just to taste it. The outer quince paste cigar was surprisingly crispy and provided a nice contrasting texture to the whipped filling. The goats milk cheese wasn’t too strong but it was perfectly balanced out by the sweetness of the quince. You definitely have to try this; there were so many surprises in one mouthful.
It looks so simple and small but there was a lot of flavour in this tapa.
Flamenquin crumbed pork with jamon, thyme and mahon ($5.50 each). These were perfectly crispy and jam packed with pork. I was very tempted to order more of these, but I got too full in the end.
A delicious peek into the crispy croquette.
Fish croquette special ($4.50 each). These were very ‘fishy’ which I loved, it was a nicely seasoned filling with a crunchy non oily exterior. 
Raciones~
Carrillera De Buey slowly braised beef cheek in Perdo Ximenez on Cauliflower puree ($28.50). Oh where to begin while describing this fabulous dish. The beef was amazingly tender and pulled away effortlessly as you put a spoon through it. It had a beautiful sweet stick glaze all over which worked perfectly with the cauliflower. Don’t even get me started on that puree, it was so smooth, it was like a thick soup (and I could have easily drunk it like soup). I would order this again in a heartbeat.
This photo doesn’t do it any justice.
Patatas Bravas fried potatoes with spicy tomato and mayonnaise ($16.00). The smaller pieces were fine but I thought some of the potatoes were too big and therefore the ratio between crispy exterior to starchy fluffy filling to be way off. It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting and since the rest of the meal had been so spectacular, these potatoes couldn’t compare.  Barramundi special ($27.00). The fish was soft and moist while the asparagus was cooked perfectly allowing the fresh flavours to really shine through. It was nice to have a lighter main among all the deep fried tapas and heavy meals.
Desserts~
Churros Spanish doughnuts with rich drinking chocolate ($12.50). The doughnuts were really crunchy on the outside with a fluffy texture in the centre and it was paired with what was truthfully named a ‘rich drinking chocolate’.
Flan crème caramel with pestinos ($15.00). This was so smooth and creamy, making it very easy to eat.
Pan con chocolate chocolate, bread and olive oil ice cream ($14.50). I wasn’t convinced by the description on the black board that this was the dessert for me. It wasn’t until I asked our waiter which the best dessert was; he then smirked and asked me if I was asking for the best dessert in his opinion or the most popular dessert ordered (which we rightly guessed was churros). I obviously wanted the best dessert and for something interesting against the ‘norm’, he then suggested this dessert and to ignore the very poor description on the board. What came out was fabulous. A warm soft chocolate cake encased in a crispy bread sandwich, which gave it a wonderful contrasting texture while the olive oil ice cream helped balance out the sweetness of the chocolate. As we were leaving, I told our waiter that they should really change the description because it didn’t really do the dessert justice.
I love how they have presented the ‘sandwich’ standing up on its side, it gives you a clear view of the crispy bread encasing a warm moist chocolate cake.
Check out the sexy chocolate cake sandwiched inside.
Even though we were eating on a dead line (6pm- 8pm booking) we never felt rushed and despite the restaurant was completely packed, the service and food was very prompt and the staff were very friendly and helpful. I would love to come back to try more of the menu or even the other restaurants. I loved the small tapas for individual portions at a reasonable price (take note Canberra restaurants) and that there were good variety of mains available.
The famous graffiti on Hosiser Lane which is opposite the lane way to the MoVida restaurant.
Venue: Movida
Address: 1 Hosier Lane, (off Flinders St), Melbourne, VIC 3000
Phone: (03) 9663 3038

MoVida Bar De Tapas Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kong BBQ – Melbourne series

I had heard great things about Kong BBQ and it always intrigued me that the Lucas group’s band of restaurants did so well (Kong BBQ, Chin Chin, Baby Pizza and now also Hawker Hall) but yet were so different. I heard all of them were hard to get into but Kong BBQ was our best bet. We left our name with the waitress and told her we were happy to wait for a table, we were told we would receive a sms when the table was ready and we had 10 minutes to come back and claim it.

I was enjoying a lovely mocktail from the Royal Saxon when we got the sms. I quickly sculled the rest and headed to Kong BBQ before they gave away our table.Kong apple and cinnamon iced tea ($6.00). TimmyC and I found the cinnamon a bit OTT but it was cooling and refreshing on a hot summer’s day.Bao~

Spicy pork belly with pickled cucumber and Kong crazy horse chilli ($7.00 each). Despite the description, this bun filling wasn’t really spicy so don’t let the name stop you from ordering this. I loved how the pork came in two separate parts: one is the tender pork belly with striations of fat and meat while the crackling, which is served separately and delicately laid on top of everything, was super crunchy.Fried chicken with spicy corn and edamame salsa ($7.00). The chicken must have been just fried, placed in the bao and served straight to me because it was so hot and fresh. I really enjoyed this bao and it was possibly my favourite pick (pork was a close second but the chicken had a better filling to bao ratio).Soft shell crab with salted duck egg relish and coriander ($8.50). I was surprised to see the soft shell crab was so small, the tiny legs meant that there was a lot of batter and I found it more oily than ‘meaty’. Not worth the higher price, I would stick with pork or chicken. BBQ soy chicken wings with sesame and spring onion (6 pieces $12.50). I found these overly sweet and as much as I love chicken wings, I think the sticky marinade over powered all the senses.BBQ baby back pork ribs with soy and sesame (half 300g $22.00). I found the same problem with this as I had with the chicken wings, the sticky sweet salty marinade was over powering and you couldn’t taste the pork meat at all, although the meat itself was very tender.Bossam – BBQ Cape Grim black Angus sirloin bulgogi marinated with walnut ssamjang, kimchi and lettuce ($29.00). I have a habit not really reading all the menu, take exhibit A. I read that there was Cape Grim beef, I wanted it so I ordered it. So I was some what surprised when this arrived and the server explained to wrap the beef in the lettuce with the condiments like a sang choy bao. As much as I wanted to like this, I did not like the marinade and the beef was oddly dry and chewy in some parts. The only saving grace of the dish was the walnut ssamjang.Oh Cape Grim beef, why were you not as delicious as I wanted you to be?Fried rice with kimchi, beef brisket and egg ($16.00). I love a good fried rice, there is little ingredients so there is nothing to hide behind. This was amazing. Not a strong kimchi flavour but everything combined: hot rice, kimchi, beef and the runny egg yolk was the perfect combination. I would definitely order this again!BBQ zucchini and spice crusted silken tofu salad with soy vinegar dressing ($17.00). While ordering so much meat, I start to feel guilty that there was little vegetable content so I ordered this from the ‘greens’ section of the menu. It wasn’t what I expected but this surprisingly was one of my favourite dishes of the night. The tofu was ever so delicate covered in a thin crispy batter which paired well with the refreshing BBQed zucchini.Look at that beautiful tofu.This place was packed and clearly popular with the Melburnians and I can see why. We waited happily at a trendy pub down the road for almost 45 minutes for our table and when we came back, it was busier than before it that was possible. I would probably steer clear of meats with heavy marinades and stick to the baos, fried rice and accompanying dishes.

It can get pretty noisy in here with all the people, not a romantic date place.Dishes arrived when they were ready but the spacing between dishes were pretty close together; our table filled up very quickly.Food came out almost instantly from the kitchen so kudos to them for getting the orders out so well despite being ridiculously busy. The waiters were really friendly, attentive, and knew what they were doing which really helped with the efficiency of things, although towards the end they did start packing my plate away while I was still eating the bao above it and we felt a bit rushed to leave.

Venue: Kong BBQ

Address: 599 Church Street,Richmond, Melbourne, VIC

Phone: (03) 9427 1307

Websitewww.kongbbq.com.au/
Kong BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Easey’s – Melbourne series

When TimmyC’s trendy cousin was telling me about a place that we were going for breakfast which was in train carriage on top of a building, I thought to myself ‘only in Melbourne’. Surprisingly, these trains carriages were up on the building before the burger joint Easey’s moved in and they only occupy one of the carriages; I think an Entertainment lawyer is next door.We can spot the joint a mile away!There is some seats outside if you don’t want to dine in the train carriage.BLT streaky bacon, egg, ketchup and double cheese ($6.00).Sausage and egg sanga sausage patty, egg, ketchup and double cheese ($6.00). I love cheese so the double cheese was great for me but I wasn’t too big on the texture of the sausage patty (think sausage meat shaped into a patty), which was somewhat springy. Still, it was only 6 bucks.Just in case you wondered what it looked like under all that cheese.Chicken tenders three southern fried chicken pieces with perinnaise ($5.50). I really enjoyed this over my breakfast burger. The chicken was super crispy but the flavour hit definitely came from the sauce.When we ordered water for the table, we were very grateful that all the glasses came with lots of ice. It can get hot up there, even with the air con on!  I took the stairs going up to see the cool graffiti art but the lift going downIt might be the world’s slowest lift, but it will take you to the 4th floor when your legs cannot.The view from the window.Inside the train carriage is pretty cute.
Neighbouring graffiti, I love the detail in the eye.
Our breakfast bill came to the grand whopping total of $23.50 albeit no drinks but still a bargain! I probably wouldn’t come for breakfast again, but their burgers looked awesome and worth coming back for, especially if they have double cheese on them too.

 

Venue: Easey’s

Address: 48 Easey street, Collingwood, VIC 3066

Phone: OFFICE: (03) 90795942 TAKE AWAY: (03) 90795940

Websitehttp://easeys.com.au/

Easey's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lolo and Lola

There are not many reasons why I would get up early on the weekend but Lolo and Lola‘s opening day is a pretty good one. I’ve been waiting for months for their addition into the shipping container community at the Westside village but it wasn’t just the excitement of them finally opening that got me out of bed, it was also because they are notorious of running out of food due their popular demand. So I found it fitting that we went earlier rather than later.Michelle from HerCanberra met me at Westside 1 hour after Lolo and Lola’s grand opening and they were already being swamped by keen customers. We were quick to order and because we didn’t know what to get, we decided to get one of everything just to be sure that we didn’t miss out. And our early morning start paid off because we didn’t miss out and we happen to order the last box of ensaymada #sorrynotsorry Since we were invited to their opening, they were nice enough to give our order complimentary.

This is the view that you would continue to see for the rest of the day. The line to Lolo and Lola never really stops.Pancite Palabok rice noodle with prawns, tofu, smoked fish and chicharon in a garlic-annatto sauce ($10.00). I was surprised about the heavy seafood flavour in this dish, it turns out that the sauce/thick soup’s stock is made from prawn heads boiled away for 8 hours. This dish will not be for everyone because of its strong seafood flavours; I didn’t mind it but I much preferred the rice.Pork and mushroom adobo with garlic rice and petite atchara salad ($12.00). I really enjoyed this dish; the pork was tender and the sauce went really well with the rice. I’ve never eaten a non-chicken wing adobo but this reminded me of delicious tamarind pork belly that my Mum makes. I like the addition of the salad, because it breaks up the heavy rice/pork combination. My handy tip: try to avoid crunching on the peppercorns.“Filo” style chicken BBQ with garlic rice and petite atchara salad ($12.00). Stop what you’re doing and eat this immediately if not sooner. I was surprised that I found this my favourite dish as I did have my heart set on adobo. The chicken is so succulent and full of flavour, it made me make my ‘eyes widen with a big grin’ face because it was so tasty yet unexpected.Classic ice scramble Filopino streetside treat made with creamy blended ice topped with powdered milk and chocolate sauce ($6.00). I’d be the first to admit that this sounds like a crazy combination, but that was why I was here, to experience another culture through their food. As soon as I took my first spoonful I knew exactly what everything reminded me of. The pink thick creamy blended ice tasted like musk sticks, the texture of the powdered milk reminded me of undissolved blobs of milo in milk and even though I don’t like musk sticks, I was strangely addicted to the texture of the powdered milk with blended ice. Yes, definitely hard and weird to explain without you trying it, so if you’re game, definitely order it.Ube cake slice ($7.00). This sold out just before midday. I ate mouthfuls of cake between eating our brunch, which would have put many people off but I liked having a bite of sweetness between my mouthfuls of garlic rice. It was like a soft sponge cake with delicious butter cream frosting.Classic ensaymada ($20.00 per box of 9 or $3.00 a piece). This sold out by 10:30am which is ridiculous considering Lolo and Lola only opened their doors at 9:00am. The combination sounds strange but it works as a ‘sweet’. Think of a sweet bun (like Bread Top type of bread) that has been proofed for 8-12 hours, which then turns into a fluffy bread texture, topped with butter cream and cheese (yes you read that right). Michelle gave me a tip to warm them up a little before consuming and I am loving it.I’m a huge fan of cross section photos and this is what the ensaymada looks like on the inside.The menu may change daily so I’m not sure what they will serve today but their ‘cake’ will be classic sans rival. If you see mango sans rival on the sign, msg me and I will drop what I’m doing and head straight there.It was very popular opening morning and so there was a small wait after ordering to get the food, worth it though.

Venue: Lolo and Lola

Address: Westside Acton Park, 3 Barrine Drive, Acton, ACT 2601

Opening hours: for now are:

Rustica Sourdough Bakery- Melbourne series

I am a massive fan of Pierre Herme’s Ispahan macaron, so you could imagine the excitement on my face when I came across an Instagram photo of an Ispahan croissant from Rustica Sourdough Bakery; it was one of my few food requests while we were in Melbourne visiting TimmyC’s trendy cousin and she took us there for brunch.I was trying to concentrate on what I wanted for breakfast but it was a bit hard when their display cabinet had the most beautiful and enticing pastries and sweets. I believe this is the very definition of food porn! Wow, it was really amazing to see. One of the biggest food regrets that I have is that we didn’t order that blueberry danish pastry.

Our meals arrived pretty promptly which was good because we were getting hungry.Scrambled chilli eggs with spring onion, coriander, bacon, shaved pecorino and sourdough ($16.50). Once I eventually dragged myself away from the counter and sat myself down to look at the menu, I knew exactly what I wanted within 5 seconds (which never happens). This had everything that I would want in a savoury breakfast and it was delicious! I personally would have upped the chilli just a little.Eggs anyway on sourdough ($9.00)  potato hash ($3.00). Lobster eggs benedict lobster, apple, green salad, poached eggs, hollandaise and a brioche bun ($22.00). I believe this is when my sister would say “that’s what rich people eat”. Lobster for breakfast, why not? I particularly liked the sweetness and crisp texture of the apple and sweet salad.We finished everything but the brioche bun, it was too filling so we only ate half of it.Cronut salted caramel? ($6.50). Now I don’t remember the exact flavour of the cronut but it doesn’t matter because it was hands down the best one I have ever eaten. It was so buttery and sweet but what was perfection was the texture. As you bite down you could feel all the pastry layers break, I’m drooling just thinking about it again.Ispahan Croissant twice baked, rose, lychee, almond, raspberry ($6.50). I know this croissant is why we came to this bakery but in comparison to the cronut, it wasn’t as good. It had nice rose and raspberry flavour through it, although I couldn’t detect any lychee flavours.I seriously wish I grabbed a sour dough under my arm on the way out so I had something to munch on at the airport. I really want to come back here and eat more!

 

Venue: Rustica Sourdough Bakery

Address: 402 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065

Phone(03) 9417 7775

Websitehttp://rusticasourdough.com.au/
Rustica Sourdough Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato