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

Table 1 Espresso

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

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

Venue: Table 1 Espresso

Address: 89 – 93 City Road, Merewether NSW 2291

Phone: (02) 4963 3796

Websitewww.table1espresso.com

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The Stunned Mullet re-run

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

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

IMG_8247.JPGSides~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just strolling through the vineyard, life is hard.

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

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

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

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

Venue: Four Winds Vineyard

Address: 9 Patemans Lane Murrumbateman NSW 2582

Phone: 0432 060 903

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

Hunter Valley Series- Euro patisserie

——-28/01/2012——-

Yet another late lunch (holidays are for sleeping in right?), my sister was treating me to some sweets and lunch @ Euro patisserie where I have eaten a lot of their delicious cakes before but have never actually been there.

The Euro has taken the cake for the second time winning NSW patisserie of the year for 2010/2011. When I walked in, I was like a kid in a candy store, everything caught my eye and I wanted to order one of everything!

First: lunch. We all chose a selection of pies (starting from the top left going clock-wise): beef and mushroom pieItalian bolognese with cheese, chicken and leek and Italian bolognese again cut open. 

Beef and mushroom pie– nothing particularly special. Italian bolognese with cheese– I liked the pie but if I had to judge it based on it’s name, I would have thought it would have been a more tomato based sauce and would have been disappointed. Chicken and leek- could have used a little pepper and the leek was very subtle, my sister usually goes for the delicious vegetable mornay pie but it had sold out.

 

Even though we had arrived after 2pm, business was booming and we were lucky enough to get a table. People were coming in and out and there were take-aways on top of that but lucky they had sufficient staff that you never waited long before being served.

With all the hustle and bustle we decided to take our cake home, it was cheaper (it costs $1 more/per cake to eat there) and I never eat my tarts with much finesse anyway. Mummy chose a fruit flan and I chose a strawberry cheese tart. Mum always has a knack for choosing the better cake, the fruit flan had a delicious custard while I found the strawberry tart base a bit too thick and the cheese filling wasn’t as nice as the custard.

 

I haven’t had a cake from here that has disappointed me, I don’t know how many pastry chefs they have at the back but I am very impressed by the huge amount of variety that they are able to have. Although I find their cake prices reasonable, we still only indulge for a special occasion, after all cake is a sometimes food

Venue: Euro Patisserie

Address: 68 Orchardtown Road, New Lambton, NSW, Australia

Phone: (02) 49 577188

Website: http://www.europatisserie.com.au

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Wollongong Series- Gigi’s

——-10/12/11——-

We were taking a risk when showing up to Gigi’s, the newest hot spot in town without a booking, but we figured it was 9pm and hopefully some tables had cleared out. When we got there we were informed that the restaurant had been fully booked out but they were able to squeeze us in- yay!

When I was browsing through the menu, I was torn between my love of seafood and my love of home made pasta but when my friend asked if I wanted to go halves in a seafood platter for two, I couldn’t say no, after all, it was her birthday weekend .

I agree! That would explain why I’m happy most of the time 

Very busy, even though we were seated at 9pm, there were still people coming in.

Table all prepped for our seafood platter for two! 

With almost an hour long wait for our food, we were offered complimentary warm bread with balsamic and olive oil from the kitchen. 

Finally! Our Seafood platter for two arrives!

Venetian Hot and Cold Seafood Fritto Mistosalt and pepper squid, Spanish mussels cooked in a bianco sauce, rosemary grilled Australian king prawns, fish of the day (local John Dory), Crystal bay king prawns, Tasmanian smoked salmon on a celeriac remoulade and Balmain bugs in a citrus dressing ($78.00).

Where to begin? Clockwise from the top left hand corner maybe. Salt and pepper squid was very tasty with a ‘not too over the top’ batter and non chewy squid, you can’t go wrong. The John Dory was a nice light fresh fish. The rosemary grilled Australian king prawns was so fresh, sweet and delicious! Crystal bay king prawns– I’m pretty sure I ate most of these but I was “helping” my friend because she was getting full. Balmain bugs- very fresh and truely delicious. Tasmanian smoked salmon on a celeriac remoulade- probably my least favourite thing on the platter only because I didn’t find the salmon salty enough. Spanish mussels cooked in a bianco sauce- I’m not the biggest fan of mussels so I was hesitant to try one, but oh my! They fast became my favourite thing on the platter, they were well cooked and I even dipped my bread into the sauce to savour the flavour.

Chicken breast involtini saltimboccawith polenta parmesan and sage mash, served with muscatel butter and sage sauce ($19.50). Nice, lots of flavour but a bit too rich, my friend had to order some extra bread.

Fettuccinewith red wine slowly braised beef ragu, shaved parmesan and orange gremolata ($18.90). With fresh home made pasta this was definitely better than your average Italian restaurant! The beef was very tender and melted in your mouth.

Dark chocolate & hazelnut tortinawith warm ganache, vanilla ice-cream & pistachio nut praline ($8.50) When 3 out of 4 people order one type of dessert (they weren’t going to share     ), you better hope that it was good. Luckily the chefs did no disappoint, one my friends said ‘that it was to die for’. For me personally, it was too rich, one bite had me on a sugar high for a while but I did appreciate the warm soft moist cake.

Vanilla bean white chocolate panna cottawith peach liquor & blueberry compote & biscotti  ($8.50) Not an overly sweet dessert, this suited me to a ‘T’. The blueberry compote was delicious and was sweet enough to compliment the panna cotta. I couldn’t taste the white chocolate but it had a nice wobbly texture.

When we went, Gigi’s had only been open for a month. Since following them on FaceBook it looks like they have a lot planned for this venue including live music on Sundays and updating their menu. I have high hopes for this restaurant and can’t wait to go back and eat more fresh seafood.

Venue: Gigi’s restaurant and bar

Address: 22 Market Street, Wollongong, NSW, 2500

Opening hours: The restaurant is open from 7am till late, seven days a week.

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