OTIS Dining Hall

It seemed like a particularly long week at work, so I convinced my friend that we should deservedly go to have lunch at OTIS to celebrate surviving the first week back.

We had the 3 course deal for $64.00 pp but I’ve listed the à la carte prices.

Starters~

Spaghetti no. 5, pecorino, pepper and truffle ($18.00). This is definitely a dish best eaten hot. I couldn’t really taste any truffle because it was so pepper dominant, but I love pepper and cheese so this worked really well for me. The serve was small so the taste didn’t become monotonous.Mains~

Baked ocean trout, hollandaise, spring vegetables ($32.00). My friend really enjoyed her main. I tried the hollandaise sauce and it had a wonderful zesty kick to it.OTIS pepper steak, silk-wood brandy jus, side of frites ($42.00). If you know me, you know I love my steak and now you know I love my pepper, so you mathematically I would love this dish (and I did!) but what made me take my breath away was the jus. It is so rich that not long after pouring it onto my plate, it started to form a skin. Not only did it give a great flavour enhancement to the beef, it made for the best dipping sauce for my fries.Desserts~

Magnum and meringue, lemon curd, shortbread ($16.00). A great combination. The perfect amount of sweetness with the perfect amount of zest, served within an array of textures.Crème caramel, whisky, smoked sea salt ($16.00). This was so smooth and rich and while I did really enjoy it, I found myself having to flick back and forth between the lemon curd of the other dessert to break up the intense sweetness.The staff were very friendly and attentive. We had long lunch to enjoy to the whole experience and we left feeling full and very satisfied. My friend was so impressed that she already decided when she was going back (without me too!).

Such comfy comfy seats!Venue: OTIS Dining Hall

Address: 29 Jardine St, Kingston ACT 2604

Phone:  (02) 6260 6066

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Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

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

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

Bread and butter.Starters~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phone(03) 9292 5779

Websitewww.dinnerbyheston.com.au/

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

Truffle Hunt & Cook

The truffle season is almost over and if you haven’t been on a truffle hunt yet, I have one to recommend to you. Sure, it comes with a price tag but one of the main reasons why I signed up was because Damian Brabender was the chef who was going to be cooking us a 6 course truffle lunch.

Truffle Hunt & Cook Lunch ($180.00 pp) includes truffle hunt with farm owner Jayson and his team of highly trained truffle dogs as well as a six course truffle lunch menu created by Chef Damian Brabender with matching local winesEven though I was mainly interested in the food component, it didn’t stop me from immensely enjoying myself watching Simba the truffle dog do his thing so skillfully and listening to Jayson’s amusing story about how he came to training dogs and eventually owning the truffle farm.Simba sniffed out the truffle, now it was our job to carefully dig it out.We (well Simba) found a hefty truffle nugget worth approximately $500 within minutes of starting our hunt. After a few successful harvests, we headed back to the kitchen where Damian had started cooking up a storm.We were swiftly given beverages and a hot cauliflower and truffle soup to warm us up. This was so smooth and creamy, the perfect winter warmer.
Bread and truffle butter.Truffle risotto with an egg. I love how creamy and rich this dish was, I really wanted five more.I love truffle butter and it goes so well with scallops.Damian (along with volunteers) showed us how easy it was to ‘whip up’ truffle mayonnaise.We all swooned over the steak topped with truffle infused jus.One of the greatest ways of having truffles is having truffle brie!TimmyC asked if I would like some crackers with my cheese… Cheeky.We ended our lovely experience with a chocolate ‘truffle’ a truffle ice cream encased in chocolate and cocoa.The food in short was fantastic, I’ve always been a fan of Damian’s work. Not only did we get a 6 course lunch, we got something better than that- an appreciation of truffles, dismissing the price tag associated with truffles because you don’t need much to make a big impact and knowledge of how to get the most out of your truffle.

I really enjoyed the whole experience; I found Damian and Jayson really charming and funny, they really get you to join in on the conversation and the experience.

See their other events like breakfast and truffle hunts on their website.

Venue: The Truffle Farm Canberra

Address: 23 Mount Majura Road, Canberra, ACT 2609

Phone:  0400 483 082

Websitehttp://www.thetrufflefarm.com.au/

Opening datesJune – August 

9:00am – 5:00pm Saturday – Sunday

 

 

 

 

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

Casey Jones

It might seem like an odd statement to make considering I live on the other side of town but I have been waiting for Casey’s gastropub Casey Jones to open since before they started building the shops. I was lucky enough to be invited to a preview event and they showed us everything! A kitchen tour, the fit out of the whole funky place, a sneak peek and taste of their breakfast menu, mains, snacks, dessert as well as their wicked cocktail and mocktail menu. If the preview is anything to go by, Canberra hold onto your metaphorical hats, you’re in for a real treat!I really like the set up; it is really spacious, the tables which are made from old railroad sleepers are gorgeous and in the summer time there is opportunity to extend dining and perhaps a beer garden outside. I think open area near the bar is going to be versatile for functions and large groups.Next up: the staff. We had an opportunity to catch up with all the staff including owner Josh, maître d’ Sorrel, head chef Abel and head barman/mixologist Jamie. Each and every one of them were all very passionate about what they are doing and what they want to achieve here at Casey Jones. Their commitment and talents are showcased through their fabulous service, delectable food, awesome drinks and amazing atmosphere.

Jamie gave a few cocktail making demonstrations and even though I don’t drink, even I was tempted and sampled some of his champagne cocktails, affogatos, cocktails and a large range of his non-alcoholic spritzers.

That is a lot of beer on tap!How pretty are the champagne cocktails!I would be tempted to order the affogato instead of dessert! This was incredible.You should try one of their signature cocktails Casey Jones smoked maple bacon and cherry infused old fashioned ($24.00). It will sure to impress with the added theatrics when it is served, plus it comes with  a strip of delicious maple bacon. YUM!
Salted caramel espresso martini with vanilla foam ($18.00).Their espresso martini smelled so so so good.Mocktails: I had had my fill of alcohol for the night and wanted to test Jamie’s skills with non-alcoholic beverages. We got a large variety and it was hard to choose a favourite between the raspberry + basil, lemon + pineapple spritzer and virgin passionfruit mojito. They were really really really good (I’ve had a fair few non-alcoholic beverages in my time). Blood orange spritzer was our least favourite because it wasn’t as sweet as the others which might suit some.Now onto more important things: the food. We naturally started with breakfast and progressed our way through the menu. I am very much a savoury girl but even I swooned over the pretty sweet options. We were lucky enough to try these with compliments of the establishment but I have included prices for your reference.

Breakfast~ starting from top left- clockwise.

Chia seeds, organic quinoa, almond milk bircher, compressed and fresh fruit, seeds ($14.00). A healthy start to the day begins with this bowl of superfood which is sweetened only with fruit.

Sourdough, local poached eggs, Pialligo award winning bacon or smoked rainbow trout, pickled red cabbage, aerated hollandaise ($18.00). These were bang on perfectly poached eggs and I’ve never had Pialligo’s smoked rainbow trout but now I’m wondering where has it been all my life. This was my pick of the breakfast dishes that we sampled but I have my eye on their egg and bacon roll (milk bun, award winning Pialligo bacon, fried eggs, ranchero relish, Iberico cheese $14.00).

Ancient grain sourdough, local poached eggs, avocado, fennel, garden kale, dukka, grana padano ($18.00). Between running around taking photos and trying to eat as much rainbow trout as I could, I completely forgot to sample this one. Ooopsie!

Citrus hotcake, pickled rhubarb, compressed honeydew, organic maple syrup, macadamias, pistachio ($16.50). I had to double take on the hotcake as I thought there were multiple, no this was one thick fluffy hotcake with a delicious crusty exterior. Upon reading the description, I wasn’t sure how this one was going to taste. Call me a traditionalist, but I like my pancakes with ice cream and maple syrup but I am glad I tried this because the Pepe Saya’s mascarpone cheese with the compressed honeydew made this my very close second breakfast choice during the preview event.Snacks~ starting from top left- clockwise.

Cherry Cola chicken wings, scallions, sriracha aioli, celery (8 pieces $15.90). Okay, confession time. I had read their menu well before the preview event and my heart skipped a beat when I read about this dish. Don’t be put off by the name, despite having Cola, housemade cherry jam and also cherry Cola, this dish isn’t sweet at all; instead they are sticky, moreish and definitely not for sharing. Order a plate each. 🙂

Chorizo, onions, kiss peppers, garlic, chilli ($14.00). A nice flavoursome chorizo balanced out by the onions and peppers.

Homeleigh Grove olives, orange, thyme, assorted petite bread ($10.90). The olives were great and the bread was served piping hot, but I felt that the bread either needed a good EVOO or butter.

Crispy spiced okra, smetana, dukkah, lemon ($12.00). This was a surprising favourite. We don’t get much exposure to okra except for overcooked ones in curries but this reminded me of zucchini flowers but with a different texture.Mains~

Belly of pork, fennel, apple, watermelon, mustard fruit, watercress ($23.90). I really enjoyed the pork belly which had the right amount of meat to fat ratio, but I don’t think this portion would have filled me as my main. I prefer my pork belly with a side of cauliflower puree but the fruit keeps the whole dish light and refreshing.‘Po Boy’ charcoaled brioche, crispy soft shell crab, sriracha aioli, pickled sesame slaw, coriander, hand cut potatoes ($22.90). Everything was perfect about this Po Boy. The brioche was soft and had a striking appearance, the crab was crispy without being oily and the sauce and slaw was the perfect accompaniment on the bun. This was a very close second pick from the mains.Gumbo, prawns, vongole, calamaretti, pork sausage, chilli, okra, black barley ($24.90). I haven’t had many gumbos in my life and it isn’t a dish I usually gravitate towards but the smell was intoxicating and the broth had lots of depth. We should have saved some bread to mop up the bowl.Salad of burrata cheese, romesco emulsion, heirloom carrots, beets, radish, black salt ($20.90). A very picturesque plate with beautiful root vegetables on showcase but the star for me was that cheese.Wagyu rump, onions, cauliflower, mojo verde, aioli, smoked butter ($31.90). We almost broke out into a fight at the table as I was willing to duel anyone for this dish. The wagyu meat was so tender and so flavoursome, it didn’t really need anything else at on the plate, although I did love watching the generous amount of butter melt all over. I would happily come back and order this again and again and again. This would be awesome with a side of fries.Dessert~

Citrus panna cotta with a berry sauce and chocolate soil. I really enjoyed the texture of the panna cotta, it passed the jiggle test and it was perfectly smooth. I found it disappointing though that the sweetness only came from the compote and the soil. We gave feedback that the panna cotta needed to be sweeter.Cakes~

One of the first things to catch my eye was that gorgeous cake cabinet. My pick would be that mango/orange cake on the bottom left hand side.I thinkI think it is incredible with what they have done with the space, menu and drinks out in the suburbs. I really enjoyed their food and them using Pepe Saya, Pialligo Estate products, Three Mills Bakery bread and Gunning Bumnut eggs is just a bonus!

They will open tomorrow morning at 7am for breakfast and with their highly anticipated opening, I hear they are booked out this Saturday and Sunday. 

Venue: Casey Jones

Address: 15 Kingsland Parade, Casey, 2913

Phone: (02) 6253 8961

Bookings: They have a handy booking system on their website

Websitehttp://caseyjones.pub/

Opening hours: 7 days a week starting from 7am
Casey Jones Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Adult fail. Culinary win!

So it appears after going to the markets with no meal plan in mind, all I’ve bought is a million apples, delicious scotch fillet and popping corn on the cob… Not exactly ingredients for a meal- ADULT FAIL.

Later that day after a long yum cha catch up, I decided not to sit down and bum about and instead cooked truffled risotto with brie, two cheat apple tarte tatins (for the first time) and prepared the fillings to make kroketten (also for the first time) in just over two hours- CULINARY WIN!

Back to reality- I realised I still don’t have any lunch for tomorrow so I had to quickly cook rice to accompany some left over beef rib that I have in the fridge.

A close of the ‘cheat’ apple tarte tatin, the caramel dripping off the crunchy pastry was the best part.

New Star Charcoal Chicken

The body wants what the body wants, there is no logic to it. So when I was craving chicken, I found myself in Dickson shops looking for something chicken-y. I came across New Star Charcoal Chicken which opened up about a month ago.1/2 chicken, chips, garlic, soft drink can ($12.90). The chips were freshly fried, topped with chicken salt (by request) and were very addictive. The garlic was so good I wanted to put it on everything. Unfortunately, the chicken wasn’t freshly cooked (it had been sitting under heat lamps), the breast was dry and the limbs were a bit overcooked. It is a shame because the place smelt really good. Maybe I’ll have to go back during a peak period and get a fresh chicken.Have you been to this place?

Venue: New Star Charcoal Chicken

Address: Shop 1/4-20 Dickson place, Dickson, ACT

Centennial Vineyards re-run

It had been years since my last visit to Centennial Vineyards and yet I vividly remember the beautiful surrounds, the amazing food presentation and the lovely company I was with. I wanted to share this experience with TimmyC and some very close friends, so when we found ourselves booking a weekend away in Bowral, it was definitely one of the first places that I booked.

The menu had many crowd pleasers and that made it difficult to decide what to order, but TimmyC chose all three of his courses within two minutes of looking at the menu. I adjusted my order knowing that TimmyC was a light weight and I would get to try his meals as well.

Amuse Bouche~

Curried parsnip soup. A nice way to start the meal. It reminded me of the curry pasta from Continental range, but it was very smooth and silky.Grazing~

Pulled lamb shoulder, flat bread, yoghurt and mint jelly (2 pieces $15.00).Entree~

The Centennial tasting slate salmon, pork terrine, goats cheese tart, cauliflower soup, rockmelon wrapped with proscuitto, chicken pate with a crouton ($24.00). An option for the indecisive, so I obviously chose it as my entree as it had a nice range of things to taste. I can sense that my taste buds are changing and now I’m more open to pate and the like but still my favourite was the tart or the terrine, while my friend really enjoyed the rockmelon wrapped with proscuitto.

Seared scallops, bacon relish, apple and radish salad ($24.00). A perfect combination of juicy scallops and bacon with a little bit of sweetness from the apple. Definitely my pick of entrees if I didn’t want to try a bit of everything.Pasta~

Rotolo pasta of braised lamb, feta, olives and eggplant, romesco sauce ($29.00). I have never seen a pasta served like this and from afar it almost looked like lamb served with a big bone in. My friend enjoyed his pasta but the serve was on the smaller side.Main~

Cider braised pork belly, caramelised applies, sage and onion puree, smoked ham hock crouqette, crispy crackling ($38.00). The crackling was super crispy as promised and it provided a good contrasting texture to the ridiculously tender fall apart pork. This was definitely a winter warmer dish with all the rich components and very filling portion.Butchers weekly choice cut (Sirloin) cooked to your liking served with watercress, cafe de Paris butter and onion rings ($40.00). I would have much rather a lightly dressed salad if they insisted on greenery but instead they chose watercress and a lot of it. I really enjoyed the onion rings, they were well crumbed and crunchy without being overly oily. The steak was okay, I didn’t think it was well seasoned but that’s where handfuls of chips between each bite came in handy. I think I had food envy from the people who ordered the pork belly.Slow cooked duck leg, Centennial Pinot Noir sauce, crumbed beetroot gnocchi, Tuscan cabbage and bacon ($37.00)Sides~

Cauliflower and cheese gratin ($9.00). A nice cheesy cauliflower gratin, what’s there not to like?

Fries with Dijon mustard mayonnaise ($9.00). Came out hot and fresh from the kitchen and definitely went well with my steak.Desserts~

Banoffee ice cream sundae ($16.00). This was a delicious dessert with generous portions but I would not have called it a banoffee anything. With all the different ice creams and caramel sauce, it really just reminded us of a sundae.Trio of chocolate mousse ($16.00). I felt that the milk chocolate mousse was so light and silky, it quickly became my favourite amongst the trio, although the dessert as a whole was visually stunning. It isn’t a large dessert for the price but my friend and I still had to share since the entree and main sizes were ample.Everyone really enjoyed all of their courses but for me it didn’t live up to what I remembered it a few years ago. I don’t know if they have changed chefs, but the food wasn’t as good even though it still stands for a stunning backdrop for a wedding (the main dining area is always set up for a wedding as it is a popular choice for a venue). The service was very attentive and friendly. Though they made several mistakes on the bill, they were more than happy to adjust it.

Centennial Vineyards Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pialligo Estate Farmhouse

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

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

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

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

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

Venue: Pialligo Estate Farmhouse

Address: 18 Kallaroo road, Pialligo, ACT 2609

Phone: (02) 6247 6060

Opening times:

Lunch Thursday – Sunday 12pm – 2:30pm 

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

Wood and Coal – express lunch menu

After being met with disappointment with an unopened Pepper Lunch (they were supposed to be opened on the 15th April), my brain quickly scanned for a plan B. Hmmm what did I want to eat in Civic? ‘I had not had a baco before’ I thought to myself, so off we went to Wood and Coal.

I was surprised to see that during Sunday lunch the North Quarter of Canberra Centre area seemed a bit of a ghost town and I was even more surprised to see that we were the only patrons in Wood and Coal during our meal. I was hoping that meant we would get our meal faster because I was getting hungry fast!

 

Yoghurt flat bread BACO~ The B-A-C-O sandwich originated from a restaurant called Baco Mercat in Los Angeles. The Baco is a combination of bao + taco, essentially making it like a soft bread taco.

Slow cooked pork shoulder BACO sriracha mayo, parmesan cheese, quoinoa salad, chicharon ($13.00). I really liked everything in the filling but the bottom of my baco became soggy fast and it quickly turned into a knife and fork meal. I think this would have been nicer served in a bowl with the bread served on the side, albeit it wouldn’t be a baco but it sure would be easier to eat. Definitely not a first date food.Crispy fish BACO caper mayo, coleslaw, fried egg, scallion ($13.00). It wasn’t until I wrote this blog post did we realise that there was no fried egg in the baco. There was too much coleslaw which was over powering to the other ingredients and made the bottom of the baco very soggy.Golden brown spit chicken thigh BACO smoky aioli, parmesan cheese, green slaw ($12.00). I got food envy smelling my friend’s baco, the chicken looked really succulent. My friend really enjoyed his baco and finished it all (with a knife and fork of course).Spit roasted honey chicken wings house-made pickles, yoghurt flat bread ($16.00). We probably didn’t need more bread on the table but I really wanted to try their chicken wings. I am so glad that I ordered these because the chicken wings were meaty, juicy and I can’t believe their gave us 8 in a serve! The pickles were also really good and I would easily order this again.It was served with a whole jar of pickled vegetables! They pickles were tangy and gave a nice balance to all the meat and heavy bread.Sides~

Chips with garlic and feta ($9.00). It was suggested by our waiter that we order a serve of chips with garlic and feta rather than the plain chips you could get on the side with a baco ($2.00). I might have seemed like an up sell but it was well worth it! They were moreish and I think it went well with all the meat. They were served really hot and crispy.Dessert~

Snickers on a plate peanut butter parfait, burnt marshmallows, pecan praline, salted peanut caramel sauce, dark chocolate sauce, dark chocolate ice cream ($13.00). There were a lot of things going on on the plate but essentially it reminded me of a snickers crossed with a s’more because of all the marshmallows. I found the dessert a bit OTT and too sweet.Cookie Monster milk chocolate chip cookie, dark chocolate chip cookie, salted caramel, lemon vanilla and chocolate ice creams and dark chocolate sauce ($14.00). This was essentially a cookie stack and it was hard to eat all of them in one go because the cookies were hard. It was eventually dismantled and eaten separately. I can’t say that they do dessert well but I would definitely come back to Wood and Coal for their lunch specials. We found the service to be friendly and attentive but that might have been because we were the only people in the restaurant.

Sundays have a 10% surcharge.

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.

Let’s do lunch! Bicicletta 

It is still March (only just!), which means that it is still Good Food Month in Canberra. I had completely forgotten that Bicicletta was doing a Let’s Do Lunch special, so I was pleasantly surprised when we were given another menu.

A great-priced set lunch with a matched drink from $38.00 per person. Two courses from the uniquely Italian inspired menu with a glass of Yalumba wine or Coopers pale ale beer.Entree~

Arancini roasted tomato and pecorino cheese risotto balls with garlic aioli. These were really crunchy and gooey inside. I really liked the how the cheese was all stringy when you cut them in half.Scottata marinated seared beef tenderloin thinly sliced with mixed Italian herbs served with rucola, parmigiano and olive oil. I found the beef full on little holes which gave it a weird texture, the rucola was limp and the flavours were not very strong. I enjoyed the arancini much more than this entrée.Mains~

Spaghetti al frutti mare fresh pipis, King prawns, scallops and baby squid , sauteed with chilli, garlic, cherry tomato and bisque. My friend’s pasta had more sauce than mine, so I found my pasta to be a bit dry. Even though  I would have preferred more chilli taste, I really enjoyed the seafood and the perfectly al dente pasta.Dessert~ It was only a two course lunch but we couldn’t help but order a dessert to share between us.

Tiramisu traditional cake with coffee infused savoiardi biscuits, mascarpone, eggs, cream and cacao ($12.00). I found the bottom layer of biscuits had soaked up a lot of coffee which made my eyes instantly widen. I stuck to the less intense biscuit layers with the cream and mascarpone and thoroughly enjoyed myself.Coffee and tea are included in the menu but we didn’t have any.

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.

Mister Zee’s

Mister Zee’s has only been opened for three days but I have been waiting months for this restaurant to open. We went last night for dinner and even though there was four of us, I proceeded to order almost half the menu.Chocolate baklava shake ($8.00). I must say this was one of the first things that caught my eye when I read the menu; I thought it was an odd combination but I definitely wanted to try it. It was a delicious chocolate milkshake and at first you couldn’t really sense any baklava but towards the last third you start to notice the filo pastry that has been blended through. I don’t know how well a milk shake goes with the amount of food we ordered, maybe this would be better if you were looking for something sweet after one menu item as opposed to half of the menu like we had ordered.Charcoal chicken served with Lebanese bread, toum (garlic dip), pickles (half $13.00). When the plate we put in front of us we were really underwhelmed as the chicken looked cold and dry but I was surprised to find it slightly warm. I ate a bit of the breast which was on the drier side but even when I ate around the thighs it was also dry. There was a nice flavour through the meat but all the deliciousness was in the skin. The salty charcoal flavours were delicious and the way it was cooked left the skin nice and crispy. I really wished the Lebanese bread would have been slightly warmed, it would have made a fabulous difference. The pickles were really strong, eye widening type of pickles but the flavours became refreshing as we were eating it between other dishes.

We didn’t know what this was but found out very quickly that it was garlic dip. It went really well with the chicken.The pickles were almost as intense as their colour!Lebanese nachos choice of chicken, lamb or falafel served with fried Lebanese bread, tomato, onion, parsley, cheese, hummus, labneh ($15.00). We chose chicken for the meat and we really enjoyed this. The fried Lebanese bread wasn’t oily and sickly but rather addictive and super crunchy, I was surprised it didn’t get soggy towards the end and it kept its crispness. I would easily order this again.Lamb kofte with spicy tomato sauce served with rice pilaf ($18.00). This was really nice at first but as the dish got colder, the meat got tighter and tougher; I would definitely recommend eating this while it is hot. I didn’t find the tomato sauce spicy at all and while we really enjoyed this dish when we first tried it, I found myself preferring the other menu items after all our order arrived.Hummus ($6.00). We didn’t really read the additions to every dish but I wish the server at the register pointed out that many of our dishes already came with hummus and we really didn’t need to order any more additionally. I was hoping for more of a garlic hit but it was rather mild and smooth.Babaganoush ($7.00). I don’t know if they had given this to us complimentary because we ordered so much but it was a lovely gesture. Babaganoush isn’t my first preference of dip as I find some versions have too strong of a burnt eggplant taste but I surprisingly enjoyed this dip.Shish choice of chicken, lamb or adana (minced lamb meat) served with salad, Turkish flatbread, hummus (triple $26.50). We had all started dipping our Lebanese bread from the charcoal chicken plate in dips but as soon as the warm Turkish flatbread hit our table we all happily swapped breads almost instantly. To have more choice we naturally ordered one of each type of shish and I was really surprised to find that chicken was my favourite with its delicious flavours while remaining succulent. The lamb pieces was a close second but the adana, just like the lamb kofte was nice while it was hot but it as it got colder, it too got tougher. I would love to eat a kebab made up of the chicken pieces wrapped in flatbread which was smeared in hummus. Mmmmmm…

While we were happily stuffing our faces, someone who we presumed to be the manager asked us what we thought of the meal. After our compliments on certain dishes, he was really interested to find out what we  didn’t enjoy as much. We went through things such as the dry charcoal chicken, cold Lebanese bread and the texture of the adana to which he all seemed to be aware and said he was working on getting the perfect balance of a succulent moist chicken while getting that crispy salty skin, the problems of heating Lebanese bread and still working on getting the perfect cooking time of the adana. I was really impressed about how he had taken the feed back on board and that he really wanted to better his product. I then quizzed him about his dessert menu and in particular why there was no Lebanese doughnuts available, he proceeded to then tell me how they are made fresh every day but the batter is only good for so long but they hope to make a batter (which takes 2-3 hours) ready for opening time and by the time it reached late afternoon, they would make another batch for night time.Something sweet~

My friend and I were still eating dinner when the waitress came over and gave us complimentary dessert, I presumed it was because we had given feedback in addition to my enthusiasm for their desserts. I thought it was so nice of them.Baklava ice cream sandwich ($6.00). Before we even ordered, I was asking the girl at the front counter many questions which included: what is adana? Is everything on the menu available? Do you have baklava ice cream sandwiches? She then explained that the ice cream sandwich was a literally a piece of baklava cut in half with ice cream wedged in the middle. It isn’t as sweet and overwhelming as it sounds because the baklava isn’t that sweet and flavours and crispy texture went really well with the ice cream. I would eat this again, but it is definitely not a first date food as it gets messy very quickly.Knafeh ($6.00). We were told that this was made by a local couple and I was super excited to try this ever since I had it late last year when we had that pop up shop. It had a delicious subtle sweet flavours of rosewater and pistachios with a beautiful smooth texture. I would have loved this if it was served warm. *drool*I was surprised for a place that would do a lot of take- aways had such nice spacious seating, good heavy cutlery and crockery. It is nice to have something different to eat when there are so many cafe and Asian options in the area. I will definitely be back to try more and eat more of what I’ve already tried. Waiting times didn’t take long, the prices are reasonable and the staff were very friendly and efficient.

We spent just under $100 between the four of us ordering dinner and we were really full even before the desserts arrived but everyone knows that you have a separate stomach for dessert. I think you could easily be content with a single shish ($14.50) and leave enough room for something sweet.

Venue: Mister Zee’s

Address: 122 Bunda Street, Canberra, Civic, ACT

Phone: (02) 6152 0306

Opening hours:

11:00am – 9:00pm Sunday – Thursday

11:00am – 10/10:30pm Friday and Saturday
Mister Zee's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato