Tetsuya’s rerun

I had the best time with other foodies at the Food Lovers Trivia Night for Oz Harvest; it is such a wonderful cause and another bonus was when TimmyC surprised me by winning the silent auction that allowed us to have a degustation at Tetsuya’s with matching wines.

We quickly decided that we would go for my birthday and we booked several weeks in advance. I love where Tetsuya’s is located, it is a very unassuming building amongst all the hustle and bustle of the city.We were seated near the window on the ground floor to overlook their beautiful peaceful garden. They were very accommodating when we explained that we don’t drink wine (I know, I’m such a waste TheFoodMarshall) and they suggested we could get the tea pairing.Tetsuya’s set degustation menu ($230 per person normally)

Complimentary bread and whipped truffle butter.Pacific oysters with ginger and rice vinegar. I remember when I had my first dressed oyster from Tetsuya’s, it was incredible and the same overwhelming feeling came across me as I had it 5 years later. The dressing enhances the flavour but you can definitely still taste the natural oyster. What a wonderful way to start the meal.Tuna with kohlrabi. It was a perfectly dressed tuna that was so super fresh, I wanted more than the three pieces given to me.Warm octopus salad with fennel & shiso oil. A simple salad with remarkably soft tender octopus.Confit of Petuna ocean trout with a salad of celery, witlof, apple & unpasteurised ocean trout roe. This is Tetsuya’s signature dish, it is stunning visually and tastewise. I don’t want to describe it, I want you all go to and taste this for yourself. It has been on their menu for over twenty years and for a good reason!Grilled Shio Koji toothfish with fregola and roma tomatoes. I loved the texture of the toothfish as it reminded me a cross of mudcrab and scallops but without the sweetness.You could have easily mistaken it for scallop meat when you take a spoonful.Miso cured duck breast with pumpkin and cauliflower. This was well executed but I didn’t think it was anything special. It might sound pompous but I think it was because everything had been so great up until this point.Beef tenderloin with mushroom cream. I was hoping for a more flavoursome beef, it was very tender but I feel that the seafood items were much much better. Lychee granita with strawberries and coconut. A beautiful clean refreshing dessert with all my favourite fruits. I’m very tempted to make a variation of this at home for summer.Tetsuya’s Chocolate Cake. This had the most beautiful mirror finish but I had to move TimmyC away from the table because no matter what angle I moved my camera, I could see his reflection on the cake. I was so impressed with the neat presentation of such a delicate dessert. The chocolate glaze encased a beautiful soft not OTT chocolate mousse, a real delight to eat.All gone!Petits Fours vanilla macaron dusted with bee pollen and a mango filling along side a perfectly delicate toffee chocolate with a biscuit base. Both made really well but the chocolate blew us away with the flavours and intricate detail.The discs were so delicate, so much effort for a little petit four.Tea pairing~

It was amazing to have a tea pairing with our degustation, I’ve never had one before. The teas varied from hot and cold and also carbonated.  Each tea was chosen especially to compliment the food from darker teas for meat courses and the most sweet-smelling concoction served with dessert. I loved it all (although as a result of so much tea, I did go to the bathroom a lot) but my favourite might have been the cocoa with matcha as I’ve never had anything like it.

Buddha’s tears brewed with spice and orange peel.

Single estate organic sencha green from Kyoto stirred with lime.

Gently infused darjeeling with thyme, rosemary and basil served chilled with bubbles.

Yunnan red from one of China’s most ancient tea growing regions.

Orange pekoe brewed with red fruits and vanilla pod.

West African red cocoa with soy milk and macha.
The staff were very attentive and very knowledgeable which always adds to a good experience. Our 4 hour lunch just flew by with incredible food, drink and company.

See my first experience with terrible photos here.

Venue: Tetsuya’s

Address: 529 Kent Street, Sydney 2000

Phone(02) 9267 2900

Biota re-run

I could not visit Bowral without going to Biota, the restaurant holds a special place in my heart because that is where TimmyC proposed to me. We have been there multiple times; the first visit was an eye widening, jaw dropping meal as we had never had that kind of dining experience before. The second time, I didn’t love it as much and I was starting to wonder if they were doing unusual things for the sake of being avant-garde and the third was a casual encounter on the bar side trying to eat as many croquettes as I could.Keen to add it to my birthday dining list, TimmyC booked weeks in advance so we didn’t miss out.Cooler months Five courses ($110.00 pp)

Snacks~Pear and cheese. This reminded me of a sheep milk cigar I had at MoVida, the outer layer is chewy and sweet which offset the tartness of the cheese.Kangaroo and Acacia jerky This was really tough jerky (but I guess most of them are), but the kangaroo flavours were subtle which is good because I don’t usually enjoy the strong aftertaste of kangaroo.Tasty Dory roe fish smoked roe with charcoal lavosh bread, garlic oil and salsa verde. I could not believe how much I enjoyed this. When I ran out of lavosh bread I started slathering it on the rye loaf.

Molasses and Rye loaf with cultured butter. I found the crust a little too tough and chewy but that is my personal preference.  The soft bready centre created a wonderful transportation system to get all the tasty dory roe into my mouth.

The bread is hiding in the fur pouch.Mains~

Creamed eggs, spanner crab and persimmon. This was perfection. The richness of this dish reminded me of the delicious crab dish from Noma but the flavours reminded me of a burnt butter sage pasta.Whipped potato, hen yolk and cabbage buds confit hens yolk, whipped potato, garden Brussels sprouts and egg white pearls. I was really surprised that the cabbage leaves were more sweet rather than bitter. The whipped potato was light in flavour and texture which went well with the rich yolk and refreshing cabbage leaves.Peek-a-boo, there is the egg yolk!Pastured fed beef cooked over coals beef cooked over coals with leeks and potato. My favourite things on a plate. The beef itself had lots of flavour but the leeks and potato it to another whole savoury level. I would have preferred a bigger portion but that’s just me being selfish.Dessert~

Sheep yoghurt and our honey. Tim was ready to hand over his plate when they said sheep yoghurt, but he was probably glad that I prompted him to try it first as he was scraping the last of his bowl while I was finishing up with my photos. There was no strong aftertaste that I usually find with most sheep dairy products. The tartness of the yoghurt was sweetened with the perfect amount of honey and I loved the abundance of the finger lime. It was so ridiculous how good this dessert was even though it was so simple, it was just a perfect balance of flavours.Mandarin and goats milk custard. The mandarin powder coating had a slight bitterness to it but it quickly dissipated as the delicate sweetness of the meringue and centre hits the palate. The softness texture of the ball with the icy sorbet reminded me of the snow egg from Quay.

It is so sweet that they put a candle in for my birthday.Beverages~ I ordered the non-alcoholic juice pairing which was really good and I loved how complex the flavours were ($50.00pp?).

Lemonade, smoke apple and pear juice, red grapes with cinnamon cloves and bitters and ending with caramelised pomegranate and grapefruit. 
I loved how the menu keeps evolving and changing almost every week to encompass local fresh produce. We really enjoyed our meal and the service was perfection. Ingredients are not puréed, chopped or foamed, they appear  whole and are paired perfectly with each other. It is almost like there was minimal cooking (but a lot of talent) and it was showcasing the best produce.

Venue: Biota

Address: 18 Kangaloon Rd, Bowral NSW 2576

Phone(02) 4862 2005

Entertainment book: I’m so annoyed I forgot to use my Canberra 2016/17 book, I told TimmyC he will have to take me again.
Biota Dining Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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.

 

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.

Quay

It had been a several month wait before we could get a lunch reservation for three at Quay in Sydney but it was well worth the wait. We were there to celebrate TimmyC’s belated birthday (a lovely gift from his close friends), my Mumsy’s birthday and… I was just there to eat *blush*

We were notified several times that our sweeping views of the world-famous harbour and Sydney Opera House were going to be obstructed by a cruise ship which wasn’t due to leave until later that day, but that didn’t matter for us as we were there for the food and company.

It was a very warm day in Sydney and when we walked out of the elevator we welcomed with crisp cool air and attentive service. We were led upstairs to a beautiful separate space that would hold only 14 other guests during that lunch service.2015/01/img_9062.jpgIt was a spectacular day overlooking the Harbour.2015/01/img_9063.jpgThen I remembered that there’d be a great big cruise ship.2015/01/img_9094.jpgThere were several dining options: 3 courses $150, 4 courses for $175 and the tasting menu for $235 per person, we didn’t need to really look as we had decided on the tasting menu before we even got there. They told us it was going to take 1.5 -2.5 hours and that surprised TimmyC and I but we ended up being there for 4 hours and was one of the last to leave, that part didn’t shock us.2015/01/img_9107.jpgMocktail~ The Johnnie Dancer. A union of lychee juice, passionfruit puree and muddled lime with a dash of cloudy apple and pineapple juice ($14.00).2015/01/img_9077.jpgTimmyC and Mumsy both got gin and tonics but different gins which meant different tastes and different garnishes.2015/01/img_9075.jpgTasting menu ($235 pp)2015/01/img_9060.jpg

Amuse bouche~ Beetroot, house cultured crème fraîche, violet and sour dough bread crumbs. TimmyC must have been in heaven having to not wait for me to take photos of dishes from every angle, so by the time I was finished taking my first photo he had finished the bite sized morsel but the surprising thing for me was to see TimmyC eating beetroot. The beetroot taste was subtle and paired well with the crème fraîche. I loved the crunchy unexpected bread crumbs. 2015/01/img_9080.jpg2015/01/img_9081.jpg2015/01/img_9084.jpgRaw smoked Blackmore wagyu, horseradish soured cream, fermented rye crisps, raw funghi. I was excited to try the Blackmore wagyu (I loved it at Chifley’s) but it really took a back seat to everything else. At first you can taste the smokey wagyu, followed by subtle horseradish and ends on the earthy fungi. I loved the depth of flavour you could get from one bite and the rye crisps really added a lovely crunch to what would have otherwise been a soft dish. It really set the bar high for what was to come.

The plate reminded us of a kidney.2015/01/img_9086.jpgIt’s amazing how much earthy flavours are hidden in the gills of mushrooms.2015/01/img_9087.jpgCongee of mud crab, palm heart, egg yolk emulsion. If there is something you need to know about me, it’s that I love congee and I love mud crab (and steak!), so I was very excited to try this dish. I thought the addition of palm heart and egg yolk emulsion was an odd choice but after tasting it, they were really crucial to making this the amazing dish that it was. It had a ‘watery’ texture because there was more broth to rice ratio, but it made the dish easier to eat. The palm hearts added a really good crunch while the egg yolk emulsion was very creamy and tied the whole dish together. I tilted my plate to make sure I got every last drop.2015/01/img_9088.jpg

2015/01/img_9089.jpgWhite summer squash, umami juices, bay lobster, clams, sea urchin, chicken fat. This dish divided the table. TimmyC didn’t really like this dish and he thought the addition of chicken fat cheapened it. I on the other hand, really like this dish and I loved the addition of chicken fat (think pan juices from a roast chicken). The summer squash was the star of the plate, it was really fresh and gave a light refreshing feeling to the palette which was nice just before a heavy protein course.2015/01/img_9090.jpg2015/01/img_9091.jpgComplimentary bread and butter. We didn’t know if we were going to get any bread because it was served so late in the meal. I really liked the inner bready part of the white bread and loved the crust that had black sesame seeds from the sesame seed bread. The butter was ridiculously soft but I thought it lacked some salt, luckily they provided that as well.2015/01/img_9093.jpgSmoked and confit pig jowl, roasted koji, shiitake, kombu, sesame, sea scallop, milk curd. It was a unanimous decision at our table that this was our favourite dish of the tasting menu. There were so many components but they all played a part with their flavours. Depending on the mouthful of ingredients you took, it could taste very different but without a doubt, all spoonfuls were AMAZING. This dish had everything; the pig jowl was tender and fatty, it had crunchy parts and it had creamy parts all topped with a light flavourful broth. If I was going À la carte, I would definitely order this dish.2015/01/img_9095.jpgThe broth was poured on each plate at the table.2015/01/img_9098.jpgKing George whiting, native coastal greens, hatsuka radish, smoked oyster crackling. I didn’t know what to expect from succulents but it gave the dish a unique texture. The fish was well cooked and a lot of the delicious salty taste came from the smoked oyster crackling.2015/01/img_9099.jpg

2015/01/img_9100.jpgNative succulents made a unique addition to the dish.2015/01/img_9102.jpgSlow cooked duck, black rice miso, celery heart, black garlic, ice plant buds. I was really intrigued about the ‘ice plant buds’, it was like biting to a crisp juicy capsicum. All the dark colours and saltiness reminded Mum and I of salted black beans which I love, but I wasn’t so keen on the duck and thought it was a bit hard to cut through despite being given a Laguiole knife. In comparison to the rest of the tasting menu, I didn’t think it was as good.2015/01/img_9103.jpgA close up of the ice plant bud.2015/01/img_9106.jpg2015/01/img_9105.jpgSnow egg cherry granita with a cherry ice cream centre. Cherry wouldn’t have been my first pick for a fruit but it didn’t take away from the technical difficulty to make this dish; I have the highest regard for anyone that can make this dessert. After taking a million photos, I used my spoon to knock on the egg to gauge the texture. It didn’t pierce but it didn’t take much to break through a fine toffee layer to expose a perfectly round sphere full of soft meringue with a cherry ice cream centre. I love the  sharp contrast between the sweetness in the soft meringue and powder compared to the chunky slightly sour cherry granita, but everything balanced out in the end. An outstanding amazing dessert!2015/01/img_9108.jpg

2015/01/img_9112.jpg2015/01/img_9116.jpgChocolate ethereal. I must say having watched only a few episodes of Master Chef, one of them included the making of the chocolate ethereal; I had very high hopes for this dish but it fell flat in my mouth. It just tasted like a lot of sharp sweetness from the chocolate and muscatels which meant everything else faded into the background. I know how much effort that went into making the different shards but I didn’t think taste wise it added anything to the dish and it was more for show and texture. TimmyC didn’t agree and finished off my dessert.2015/01/img_9125.jpg2015/01/img_9123.jpg

2015/01/img_9126.jpg2015/01/img_9124.jpgWe TimmyC couldn’t himself but to order another dessert, he suffers from FOMO (fear of missing out) when it comes to food.

Lychee, rose, coconut ($35.00). I prefer this dessert over the chocolate ethereal despite having less complex flavours, they have chosen a select few flavours that work really well together. The dessert itself was very cold, but when you placed a spoonful in your mouth, some parts gave a crunch, some bits were juicy and some bits melted. I really like this flavour combination and it was more of a subtle sweet dessert.2015/01/img_9121.jpgCoffee, tea and Quay Petit Fours. I wasn’t going to eat any petit fours because I was so content after the tasting menu but I did notice that one of the truffles was covered in pop corn and inside had a molten caramel centre and I could not say no.2015/01/img_9129.jpgFresh peppermint tea.2015/01/img_9127.jpgNot only was the food spectacular, the wait staff were unpretentious, friendly and attentive throughout the service. It is a lot of money for a meal but it has amazing views, it spans over several hours and is almost like entertainment with a meal when you’re experiencing the different flavour and texture combinations that are given to you.

 

Venue: Quay

Address: Upper Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, 5 Hickson Rd The Rocks, NSW

Phone: 02 9251 5600
Reservations: Taken from their website “Quay is open daily for dinner service from 6pm – 10pm. Lunch service is Friday to Sunday, taking bookings from 12pm – 2pm.

We do receive a high volume of reservations requests daily. Please allow at least 48 hours in which to reply to your request. We do encourage you to contact reservations directly on 02 9251 5600 if you wish to make a booking within the 48 hour period.

We take bookings no more than 6 months in advance. Friday, Saturday & Sunday evenings are booked out 6 months in advance for bookings of two and four guests.

Please note reservations are allocated to tables by booking date order. Guests can certainly request tables but unfortunately we cannot always guarantee your table request due to table configurations and also booking order.”
Quay on Urbanspoon

Mezzalira re-run

It is too hard to choose just one thing from Mezzalira‘s menu, so we all chose the 5 course tasting degustation to get a selection of the best of what the chef had to offer. On a cold Winter’s night, the warmth of the restaurant is very inviting with their extensive menu and delicious tiramisu.

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Lake Pambula rock oyster with salmon roe, fennel and pear salad ($4.00 each). A fresh delicious oyster with amazingly delicious plump salmon roe.

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5 Course tasting menu ($85.00pp)

Seared sea scallops and smoked eel salad, pine nuts, currants and Chardonnay vinegar. I was worried about the smoked eel but it was perfectly paired with the salad. There were a lot of different elements to the plate but it all came together very well.

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Rosemary and sea salt bread (not included in the degustation). We were worried that we would still be hungry at the end of the degustation so we panicked and ordered extra bread. This was served really hot and promptly but this was ridiculously salty.

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Buffalo milk ricotta, pumpkin and leek tortellini with burnt sage butter. I don’t know what happened, maybe I was over excited or I accidentally deleted it but I can’t find a picture of this but it doesn’t matter what it looked like, this is the best dish of the night hands down. I would almost turn vegetarian for this dish and that is saying a lot!

Blue Mountain pine mushroom and porcini risotto and bagoss. A range of different textures between the risotto and mixture of mushrooms. It was a little on the salty side but I didn’t mind.

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Salt crusted rangers valley beef ‘tagliata’ and wood roast ‘peperonata’ with tarragon ‘gratinata’ and horseradish. I took one bite and it was fine, but my following mouthfuls were bordering on completely intolerable. I told the waiter that the meat was incredibly salty and crazily peppercorn-y but he explained that it was salt crusted. I have had salt and peppered encrusted meat before but this was something else. The meat was also served very rare. Not great, not great at all.

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Ricotta, rum and chocolate cannoli with pistachio and cantiano amarena cherries. After all the harsh salt, this subtly sweet cannoli was a refreshing treat on the palette.

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Tiramisu (not included in the degustation $15.00). Yes, we ate secondsies dessert but I cannot come here without ordering one of these, it is truly the one of the best tiramisus in Canberra.

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They had the cutest little cow paper-clip attached to the bill.

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Despite having been disappointed with several courses, there were some stand out dishes and an incredible ending to the night with the desserts so overall I still had a very good dinner. It was a shame that there were some disappointments throughout the night.

Malamay

Secretly located to the left of the Realm reception with no clear signs from the outside, I’m surprised that anyone finds this place. Malamay was one of those restaurants where I had heard many good things and I had been meaning to go for a long time but it wasn’t until my friend organised for his birthday dinner there (part I) did I finally get to go.

There are only different choices of set menus/degustations to probably make it easier on the kitchen and allow them to focus their talents on a small range of plates rather than a large number of options with mediocre food. We chose the six course degustation ($88 per person) because it had a nice variety and it also included dessert but with so many dietary requirements between us, we turned out to be ‘that difficult table’. image

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Dim mood lighting, great for romantic dates but terrible for food blogging. I had to hold the awkward orb light towards each dish without dropping it in the food so please excuse the photos.

First course~

Pan seared shrimp cake with shredded seafood and cucumber jelly – I like shrimp cake because I’ve grown up with it, so for me this wasn’t anything special but I did enjoy the refreshing cucumber jelly. I also found the texture of the seafood salad underneath to resemble overcooked pasta and unappetizing. As the first dish of the night, it did make me nervous about the rest of the meal. image

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Tofu ricotta with chillied mushroom relish – the vegetarian/non prawn/non seafood eating option.

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Second course~

Three chilli relish prawns with hand-made noodles – A nice kick of spice. It was fabulous that they had a perfect balance of heat from the chili while the dish was served cold. It left a lovely tingling burning sensation on my lips.

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Mirin & soy soba noodles  – the vegetarian/non prawn/non seafood eating option.

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Third course~

White fish with burnt green chilli and black bean radish crumbs – The fish was juicy and tender but the broth was weird like it was pickled mustard or something, I was not a fan!

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Vegetarian, no prawns and no seafood of any kind – even I started to get confused! They brought out a gluten free option (surprisingly none on the table) so I don’t know exactly who this was for.

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Slow cooked eggplant with chillied sticky rice – An a-mazing tender eggplant with an even better broth. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was tasting but I knew I wanted more but it wasn’t my dish. image

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Fourth course~

Winter garden enoki mushroom salad  – the vegetarian/non prawn/non seafood eating option.

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Pork and prawn tortellini with cumin, paprika and chilli oil – Before you eat, take the time to enjoy the fragrance of the spices and the oil. These mouth watering dumplings left you wanting more. I wonder if I could replicate these at home… Hmmmmm

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Fifth course~

Sous- vide wagyu beef cheek with aged shaoshing wine and goji berries – no seafood optimage

Crispy tofu with aged shaoshing wine and goji berries – vegetarian option

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Cape Grim beef fillet with minced green lip abalone congee – I love congee but this was out of this world! The rice was blended to an only just recognisable texture, it was salty and served nice and hot. Perfectly seasoned congee topped with soft tender beef and a delicate slice of abalone.

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Sixth course~

Chocolate charcoal with yoghurt cream, pistachio and mandarin crumb – A bold choice to serve everyone dark chocolate and citrus together because it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but the mandarin isn’t the strongest component of the dish, there is a decent amount of heat and strong taste of rich cocoa. A marvellous contrast between the chilli bite in the chocolate and the cooling effect of the yoghurt.

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Overall I enjoyed my meal, I felt that some dishes were a miss for my palette and I left feeling content but not in the slightest bit full and I probably could have eaten the degustation twice over.

I couldn’t help but wonder, did my Asian background find comfort in the familiar tastes and textures which might not appeal to everyone? With so many positive reviews I think not. Maybe go in with an open mind and palette and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

With attentive staff, romantic atmosphere and exciting food, I will be returning very soon.

Venue: Malamay

Address: 1 Burbury Cl, Barton, Canberra

Phone: (02) 6162 1220

Malamay on Urbanspoon

Degustation at Benchmark wine bar

——-27/10/2012——-

Another recommendation from Katie! 

Away from most of the hustle and bustle of civic, Benchmark wine bar sits on the corner of Northbourne Ave and Rudd St. It was hard to choose what to order with so many things catching my eye, so I knew the degustation was the only way to go to try a bit of everything.

With wines to match each course $155 per person and without wines $105 per person.

I’m all set for my 8 course degustation! Let the munching begin!

I can’t remember which dessert wine they chose for me, but it was magnificent! Mmmmmmm.

First course~

Freshly shucked oysters with salmon pearls and diced cucumber. Fresh tasty oysters with cleverly added roe and cucumber to add flavour and a lot more different textures.

Second course~

Lightly tempura zucchini flowers stuffed with Persian fetta, roast pepper and mint. I was amazed by how hot and crispy this came out without being soggy and oily. The perfect amount of batter leaving the zucchini flowers crispy without compromising its shape.

Third course~

Sashimi plate with white pickled ginger, ponzu, japanese seaweed and wasabi. I liked it all but preferred the seared tuna over the salmon.

Fourth course~

Crispy skin pork belly with apple and walnut salad, apple puree and balsamic. Crispy delicious heaven! Mmmmm so good. I also really enjoyed the side salad.

Fifth course~

Black angus eye fillet with crisp potato, horseradish beetroot and sautéed beans. It was a nice piece of steak cooked perfectly to medium rare. The potato soaked up all the sauce wasn’t as crispy as it could have been. The beetroot was surprisingly not overwhelming.

Sixth course~

Sorbet of the day with Persian fairy floss. I wasn’t sure if this was a palette cleanser or an actual course because it didn’t come with any Persian fairy floss (and it was also very small). This was passion fruit sorbet, not overly intense or sour but enough to refresh the palette.

Seventh course~

Tahitian vanilla crème brûlée with orange and cardamon biscotti – Mr. fussy pants Timmy didn’t want to have the cheese course so he asked to have it replaced with another dessert. He was so happy that they gave him a crème brûlée. Lovely toffee hard hat with a great thick custard underneath.

Fine white mould cheese – cow’s milk -delice de bourgogne, bourgogne – France. I’m not too adventurous with soft cheeses but this was divine and creamy.

Eighth course~

Forest berries bavarois with strawberry and citrus tea. This had a very yoghurty texture. The basil (?) on top really brought out the contrasting flavours of the berries and citrus.

Because we aren’t avid wine drinkers, I never thought to go to Benchmark but the food and service was really great. I’m surprised they don’t have a higher urbanspoon rating.

Venue: Benchmark Wine Bar

Address: 65 Northbourne Avenue, Canberra City, ACT 2600 (next to Novotel Hotel Entrance)

Phone: (02) 6262 6522

Opening hours:

Lunch: Midday – 3 pm Mon – Fri

Dinner: 5pm – 10pm Mon – Sat

Closed on Sundays

(advance large bookings accepted to open on Sundays)

TAPAS: Available All Day & Night

Benchmark Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Mezzalira Ristorante

——-27/07/2012——-

Despite the cold, people are still going out in civic. A lot of people! Parking has been a nightmare recently and we had to park considerably far away but we finally got to Mezzalira through the cold dark night.

I have heard good things for years about Mezzalira, I don’t know why but I never was excited to come here until recently when my friend said he had a good degustation. 

It was hard to choose what to order considering all the pastas and mains were expensive for a place that I didn’t think was fine dining. We opted to go for the 5 course tasting menu as there were several things I wanted to try and it was the cheapest way to try them all.

5 course tasting menu ($85.00)

Bread with rosemary and sea salt – it was served nice and warm although it was heavily seasoned with salt. 

Course 1~

Seared scallops on fennel puree and ‘agro dolce’ vinaigrette – a simple small morsel yet so good.

My friend who doesn’t like seafood got a mushroom alternative, she said it was really good but I didn’t want to try any as it looks like she only got what appears to be half a mushroom.

Course 2~

Tortellini di zucca– Buffalo milk ricotta, pumpkin and leek tortellini with burnt sage butter – Wow, this would have been one of the dishes I would have chosen as a ‘single’ meal (I don’t know how much I would get for $33.00 though). This was AMAZING! Really really good and it is a vegetarian dish!

Course 3~

Truffled risotto with ‘Spezzatino’ of Northern Rivers veal osso bucco– a great dish and it didn’t have an overly ‘meaty’ taste. A perfect portion during a 5 course menu.

Course 4~

Salted crusted fillet of beef ‘tagliata’ with local king brown mushroom ‘trifolati’, globe artichoke and horseradish – A great beef dish, my friend doesn’t like any pink in her meat and the chef was very accommodating to cook a well done beef without making it into a piece of charcoal.

Course 5~

Ricotta rum and chocolate cannoli with pistachio and cantiano amarena cherries– I thought this was a too simple of a dish to end such a wonderful 5 course tasting menu but I wrong. A perfect amount of subtle sweetness to complete the meal.

Well yes you might have already counted 5 courses. That’s because I REALLY wanted to try their tiramisu after some big raves on urbanspoon, so I ordered second dessert.

Tiramisu pick me up ($15.00)– My friend has been to Italy and she said that there was a famous restaurant which made a-mazing tiramisu and this one was the same if not trumped it. I really really liked it but I couldn’t tell if it was as good as the one from Locanda, maybe I’ll have to eat one from both places on the same day to make a direct comparison.  

We had great service with perfectly timed courses. I didn’t have any expectations and I was completely blown away by the food. I was surprised to find that Mezzalira was linked with Italian and Sons, if they have similar menus I’d much prefer to sit in an open dining area at Mezzalira than the crowded space that is Italian and Sons (< but I want to still try at least once).

Venue: Mezzalira Ristorante

Address: 55 London Circuit  Canberra ACT 2601

Phone: (02) 6230 0025

Mezzalira Ristorante on Urbanspoon

The Boat House by the lake

——-05/07/2012——-

Just another Thursday, sounds like a reason as good as any to go out for a fancy dinner. We headed to the Boat House by the lake where we were greeted by a fireplace and friendly staff. We chose the 6 course degustation to get a variety of dishes while soaking up the warmth.

Mood lighting- great for romance, not so great for food photography 

Ready for our 6 course degustation ($100.00 per person).

Complimentary bread~

Roasted garlic and rosemary bread roll with lemon and thyme butter. Served nice and warm with a nice dose of rosemary and garlic flavour.

Amuse-bouche~

Salmon with capers, lime aioli. A nice variety of texture and salmon always goes well with aioli and capers.

Razor clams, smoky potato consomme, beetroot, horseradish, avruga caviar. I’ve never had razor clams before and was surprised to see their shape, it had the texture of a chewy exotic mushroom. The potato consomme had the most intense flavour and a bit too salty for my liking.

Pork belly, cauliflower, onion gel, apple, radish. A nice piece of crispy pork belly and I tried to scrape as much of the onion gel as I could onto my fork.

Silver Dory, confit shallots, poached octopus, pomme dauphine, oyster foam. As delicious as everything was the fried potato balls were the highlight for me. 

Optional special~ ($3.00 per oyster)

Oysters served in three ways:

Gin and tonic, Lime and granita and apple and ham. It was very theatrical they way it was served, there was a glass dome over a set of the oysters which was opened to release a swirl of smoke. Call me a traditionalist but I prefer my oysters natural, mornay or kilpatrick.

Venison loin, Jerusalem artichoke, mushroom fricasse, mushroom puree. This tasted like beef to me with no gamy after-taste.

Palette cleanser~

Lavender foam with lavender and Pialligo apple. This was truly incredible, the delicate foam bubbles did really taste like lavender!

Poached rhubarb and apple, cherry, basil, meringue, bubblegum ice cream. Timmy and I was having a debate about what bubblegum flavour it was, I insisted it was strawberry Hubba bubba and Timmy thought it was strawberry bubblegum tape, either way it was REALLY intense and I couldn’t finish mine but Tim relished it.

Vanilla parfait, chocolate genoise sponge, cocoa sorbet, salted caramel. An intense dark cocoa sorbet balanced by the delicate parfait and we made sure we scraped every last bit of that delicious salted caramel.

Fabulous attentive service and great food, everything you would expect from a fine dining experience. Since I have last been to the Boat House I have found their textures and flavours to be more adventurous. I look forward to many more meals and courses at this restaurant.

Venue: The Boathouse by the lake

Address: Grevillea Park, Menindee Drive, Barton ACT 2600

Phone: (02) 6273 5500

Websitehttp://www.boathousebythelake.com.au/

Entertainment card: Yes and it makes a difference!

Boathouse By the Lake on Urbanspoon