Grounds of the City

With an optimistic approach, I didn’t think The Grounds of the City would be that busy as it was brunch time on a weekday but as we turned the corner at The Galeries, TimmyC and I were faced with a large crowd. Luckily most of them were waiting for coffee and takeaways and the line for a table was relatively short. We placed our name and number for a table of two on the list and was advised that there’d be a 20-30 minute wait, 18 minutes later we received an SMS that our table was ready.Walking inside the restaurant was like teleporting back to an era where men would wear hats with suits and would read the newspaper instead of staring at their phones.  There were so many things to look at, I didn’t know which way to turn my head until my gaze was distracted by the cake trolley. Yes, you read that right, you can request the cake trolley to be wheeled to you. I feel it would pair perfectly with a bottomless cup of tea (which is also on the menu).Flat white ($4.00). TimmyC really enjoyed his coffee, I now understand why there was a huge queue outside waiting for takeaway.Black truffle omelette with mushrooms and goats curd ($28.00) plus a side of bacon ($5.00). TimmyC at first had chosen eggs benedict for breakfast which was quickly vetoed by me as I heard about the specials. This choice was so popular, it was sold out soon after we had placed our order. When the server placed the plate on the table, I found the smell of truffles intoxicating. The omelette was perfectly cooked and I really enjoyed the addition of the subtle sourness that the creamy goats curd provided. I loved how ordering a side of bacon meant a plate of bacon rather than just a single rasher- WIN!The Bakery Basket The Grounds continental selection of freshly baked pastries with house-made preserves, cultured butter and whipped mascarpone ($16.00). I thought the delicious flaky buttery pastries didn’t need anything more, so not to waste the delicious condiments, we ordered a slice of sour dough toast ($4.00). I loved everything about this (I even started to just eat the mascarpone when I ran out of things to spread it on) and thinking about it again makes me salivate. The cherry on top was that they warmed the pain au chocolat perfectly to give a molten chocolate centre.So delicious and melty on the inside while being crispy and flaky on the outside.When eating in Sydney CBD, I can tell you where to get ramen, congee, thai stir fries, dumplings and baos, but if you wanted a good brunch spot, I’d be lost for words. The Grounds of the City fills that void and then some. I cannot wait to go back to try more from all parts of their menu and might even stick around for a bottomless cup of tea.

Venue: Grounds of the City

Address: Shop RG 12, 500 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Phone(02) 9699 2235

Website: http://thegroundscity.com.au/
The Grounds of the City Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Eightysix

I know this is a big call to make because we aren’t even close to the end of the year but my meal at Eightysix last week was definitely in the top 3 best meals I’ve had in Canberra this year. What was even better was that it was only $86pp and I say ‘only’ because for this price, it was all we could eat… And so we did.

Duck bun with hoisin and hot sauce. This was a nice soft bun that had a nice meaty filling but I think the pickles overpowered everything. Whoever was running this station was very efficient as every time we ordered them they came out super fast. Gnocco fritto. This is like a deep-fried pastry topped with prosciutto but I found the pastry a bit too oily for me.Heirloom carrot, hummus, mint and almonds. Who knew I could enjoy carrots so much? This was a perfect pairing of flavours and with all the pasta and meat, it was good to have a salad somewhere in there. I love the sweetness from the cranberries, apples and carrots.Four cheese risotto with radicchio and balsamic. Man I love a cheesy good risotto, it was a shame I had to share.

Don’t be fooled by the camera angle, this was a really small serve. Order three!Pappardelle with parmesan and local black truffle. I felt that the truffle didn’t have as much of an effect because it wasn’t infused in anything. It was a nice simple pasta and the perfectly cooked egg yolk bursts to make a rich sauce.Pumpkin and mascarpone tortellini with hazelnuts. This ladies and gentleman, was exquisite. I really do love things that involve a pumpkin parcel pasta with burnt butter sage combo and this has to be the BEST rendition I’ve ever had. Hands down! Before they change the menu you HAVE to try this. The filling is silky smooth, the pasta thickness is perfect and the sage is super crispy.Rag pasta with lamb and rosemary ragu. I loved the sauce, the pasta, the whole thing. This was a very close second pasta choice for the table. Ghetto beef with rocket and salsa verde. I had tried this before where the beef was really dry and the rocket leaves were limp, I couldn’t tell if this time was much better or I was just really hungry. Be aware that the beef is rather quite pink, one of my friends didn’t eat it which meant more for us!Whole lamb shoulder with sides. Wow! This was incredible! A wonderful lamb roast served with chimichurri sauce and a really smooth mash potato and jus. This was apparently a 1kg roast and we almost finished the whole thing.One of the downsides of being in a busy restaurant is the wait. Sometimes there was a 15-20 minute wait between dishes, which left us a little frustrated and hungry and in turn we ordered more food hoping that something would come to the table soon. Despite ordering so many things, we had very little wastage. I knew we were testing the time constraints of our sitting (2 hours) but we asked if we could have dessert with a hopeful look in our eye. The waiter checked to see if there was someone waiting for our table but he came back happy to report we could squeeze in our dessert first.

There was a little pause in the conversation when the waiter asked us what we wanted for dessert and without hesitation while not joking I replied ‘all of them’.Strawberry cheesecake. I loved the soft creamy textures with strawberries. I didn’t realise that there was granola at the bottom for the ‘base’ until I dug a little deeper but there was a strong saltiness to it that I didn’t enjoy.

It might not look like much but I promise you there is a lot going on under that snow.Choc mint fudge sundae. If you love the choc mint combo then this is definitely for you, it was like an after dinner mint on the palette. There was a really good brownie somewhere in all that.Caramel popcorn sundae. I felt that the signature dish of the restaurant was superseded by the other desserts. It is a nice combination but this wasn’t our favourite this time.Banoffee pie. That caramel wasn’t too sweet which meant that this wasn’t OTT. A great way to finish the meal.Frozen margarita. The description didn’t give much away but this tasted like lemon meringue. It was very delicate and was the pick of the desserts. You have to try this!Even though there was a wait from the kitchen, the front of house service was fantastic, efficient and attentive. I keep telling everyone about my experience and it excited me so much I pushed it up my backlog of posts to write about because I wanted you all to know about it too.

Venue: Eightysix

Address: Elouera St, Mode 3 Building, Braddon,ACT

Phone: (02) 6161 8686
Eightysix 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

 

 

 

 

Mount Majura vineyards #humanbrochure

I must admit I was a little nervous to make my way to Mount Majura Vineyards with all the construction work around the area and I sighed when I saw a long stream of headlights facing in my direction as I was trying to turn right, but someone was nice enough to slow down so I could make my turn (thank you kind local!).  

I didn’t even know that Mount Majura Vineyard existed (this human brochure experience has really opened up my eyes to our local produce and wine) but one of my foodie 101 local humans who is a wine enthusiast said to enjoy the night as it is an amazing winery. Apparently she isn’t the only one to think so as the James Halliday’s Wine Companion have given the winery a 5-star rating.20140702-221637-80197430.jpgFergus McGhie the promotions and marketing manager for Mount Majura Vineyard, is explaining how Canberra and the surrounds has ideal conditions in to grow Shiraz and Riesling as they love the big temperature fluctuations that we experience. He also tells us that the winery consists of four full-time wine fanatics who love experimenting with combinations of grapes to produce amazing wines which regularly win awards.20140702-221638-80198969.jpgWow, I know a few people who would raid this place if given the chance.20140702-221640-80200627.jpgWe were greeted with some Silurian 2010 to start and a table of delicious local produce. We all helped ourselves to some bread and truffled butter as the wine was flowing.20140702-221711-80231677.jpgI love the super cute jars that the butter came in. If there weren’t so many witnesses/people to share with, I would have tried to sneak one in my bag!20140702-221713-80233226.jpgBeautiful thick truffled butter from next door (I need better neighbours!) and fresh bread from A.baker who stock Mount Majura wines. I couldn’t help but put a thick lather of butter on my slice of bread. It was soooo good.20140702-221716-80236381.jpgIt looked like everyone was enjoying their glass of bubbles.20140702-221714-80234819.jpgThe speckled butter reminded me of my black glitter nail polish.20140702-221741-80261707.jpgWhile we were all enjoying the truffled butter, we were introduced to local woman and grower of the French Black truffles in Canberra: Sherry McArdle-English. She tells us about her and her husband’s story going from city dwellers with careers to buying a farm with little to no idea and turning it into a very successful livelihood.

She recalls the time when she went to Fyshwick markets to enquire about this delicacy that she knew little about, she was met with the response that only Europeans know how to grow truffles. Well, spite is a very powerful motivator and she spent 2pm til 3am that day researching all she could about truffles. After a day trip to Tasmania, 80 tonnes per hectare of mined lime and a lot of determination later, she along with her husband started to collect truffles 2.5 years after planting their first trees, which meant that they had the youngest tree producing truffles in the Southern Hemisphere. Fast forward to the present and now the French Black Truffles of Canberra has generated an interest at an international level as well as becoming the largest producer in NSW, one of the biggest producers in Australia, supplying top restaurants in Canberra including Podfood and the Boat house and also becoming the sole producer to supply truffles at the Fyshwick markets.

Who knew all this was happening right in Canberra?!20140702-221743-80263331.jpgAll the local humans sit down to feast on truffled brie and a variety of wine while getting a chance to talk with the local producers.20140702-221745-80265952.jpgI love the place mat that they had given us which very informative. A very simple yet handy thing to have!  They had an older Chardonnay (2006) to compliment the truffled brie as well as a 2012 Pinot Noir.20140702-222101-80461603.jpgA close of up the beautiful colours of Mount Majura Wines.20140702-222105-80465782.jpgTheir very popular T.S.G was also passed around to be sampled.20140702-222008-80408045.jpgAs well as their Touriga (2013).20140702-222009-80409506.jpgI love personalised glassware.20140702-222006-80406581.jpgCheesy porn. I had to balance between not getting too excited in the presence of such a delicacy, taking lots of photos and not drooling on the place mat while taking said photosIt is a truffle infused Small Cow Farm brie.20140702-222102-80462866.jpgYou can see how creamy and soft the brie is which forms a squishy cushion around the delicately shaved truffle.20140702-222104-80464305.jpgI might not appreciate wine but I know lots of wine connoisseurs who would love a bottle and I would love for them to try Canberra’s best. How cute is their wine box (which has a convenient handle that you can’t see in this picture)?! 2011 Shiraz ($32.00), 2013 T.S.G ($32.00) and 2013 Molli ($27.00).20140702-222005-80405097.jpgEveryone that tried Molli couldn’t help but buy a bottle (or 6) and with a limited run I had to grab a bottle for someone who I knew would appreciate it very much. I think it is a super cute name for a wine!20140702-221642-80202039.jpgMount Majura Vineyards don’t sell individually sell the truffled brie as it doesn’t have a long shelf life and you can’t gauge how many you would sell during a weekend but Fergus explained that you can get a taste of this delicious cheese with a matching wine on Sundays. See details below.

Truffle infused weekends at Mount Majura Vineyard 21st June to mid August, Saturday and Sunday only, 10am – 5pm

Truffle season has begun and we’re excited to include truffles at the cellar door as part of our winter tasting experience. We infuse Small Cow Farm Petit Vache, a deliciously rich and creamy brie style cheese, with truffles from our neighbour Sherry at French Black Truffles of Canberra. To accompany this we’re pouring a flight of three 80ml glasses of wine matched to the truffled brie. This winter Frank has specially taken out vintage stock from the museum cellar to match with the brie! The tasting will be served individually and will cost $30 per person.
Bookings on (02) 6262 3070 or info@mountmajura.com.au

 

Venue: Mount Majura Vineyards

Address: RMB 314 Majura Road, Majura, ACT 2609

Phone:  (02) 6262 3070

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

Opening hoursThursday to Monday from 10am to 5pm

Prices: this experience was paid for buy VisitCanberra as part of the 101 local humans campaign for the human brochure, with the bottles of wines bought by myself.

 

Venue: The French Black truffles of Canberra

Address: Ruffles Estate, 23 Mt Majura Road, Maujra ACT 2609

Phone: 0419 950 207

Websitehttp://canberratruffles.com.au/

Ricardo’s Cafe

I knew the Jamison shops way before it was ever refurbished, before they had an Aldi or FSW and even before the Commonwealth bank closed (I’m now awaiting for the Asian grocery store to open). It figures that after I move away from Aranda, Jamison now becomes a bustling hot spot for the locals wanting a coffee, something from the supermarket or a delicious breakfast/lunch from Ricardo’s cafe. I had been here before but I wasn’t to overly impressed with their sweets, they look a lot prettier than they taste.

I was here during a lunch birthday celebration for a dear friend of mine and I wasn’t planning on blogging but when we all started ordering fabulous (looking) desserts and dishes, my camera instinctively came out. image

It was a struggle and a half try to get to our table that we had already booked in advance, there were people EVERYWHERE. People young and old, hipsters and pensioners, all gathered to eat where apparently prams and strollers are mandatory. Needless to say, it was very busy.

Portuguese tart ($5.00?). Seeing how busy it was, I thought I’d start by getting something I could eat straight away without waiting. It was okay but TimmyC thought it was the bee’s knees.

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Red skin macaron ($2.50). Despite looking all wonky shaped, the taste was pretty accurate.

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Choux pastry swan – very clever design and execution, I had bought one of these before but wasn’t too overly impressed.

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Pancakes souffle pancakes, bananas, bacon infused maple syrup and vanilla bean mascarpone cheese ($14.90). When I go out for breakfast/brunch I’m always on the look out for unique items on the menu, don’t get me wrong, I love my bacon and eggs/pancakes/banana bread/granola but I’m looking for something that plays on the creative side from the kitchen on a good ol’ breakfast classic and this is it (although this is not my dish, I made sure I had access to it). I avoided the bananas and couldn’t really taste the ‘bacon’ element in the syrup but that didn’t matter because the souffle pancakes topped with vanilla bean mascarpone cheese was soooo good!

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OMG! It’s so fluffy!

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Smoked salmon fritters corn and zucchini fritters stacked with smoked salmon and avocado, cherry tomatoes and sour cream ($17.90). These were fantastic, I always have a fear that fritters would be dry and limp but they were well made and topped perfectly with salmon and sour cream.

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Pork belly salad part of the specials board. Oh I wish I saw the specials board before I ordered, but someone on the table did. YUM!

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Wagyu truffle sliders white truffle Wagyu beef, red wine, caramelised onions, truffle aioli, gruyere cheese and parmesan truffle fries ($18.90). The bun seemed a bit brioche-y but that didn’t matter when everything tasted so good. By the time I got to the third slider, because of my slow eating habits and talking to everyone, was very cold but if you’re not a slow eater, this won’t be a problem for you. I was really surprised that the fries actually tasted like parmesan truffle fries! Two thumbs up for this!

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Macarons – not exactly uniform in size but across the board the flavours were very good (not the best in Canberra but pretty good for ‘made in house’ at a cafe).

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I can see why Ricardo’s is so busy –  lots of good menu options; there is some method to their chaotic madness and the wait for food wasn’t too long and nothing was crazily over priced (well maybe that Portuguese tart). I would come here again but I would like to try more of their menu despite having found multiple things that I would love to eat again.

Venue: Ricardo’s cafe

Address: Jamison Plaza Bowman Street Macquarie, ACT 2614

Phone: (02) 6251 2666

Websitehttp://ricardoscafe.com/

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