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A Few of My Favourite Things!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sunday in Sydney

This is the last of our Sydney posts. We managed to score some great Sydney weather, the kind of mild sunny day that is complemented by the gentlest of breezes. Perfect for a stroll through The Rocks where the Sunday market takes place. At one of the first stalls we across, there was a fantastic looking garlic ciabatta that called out to us. The stall holder directed us to the Fine Food Store within The Rocks Centre. We bought a loaf of the ciabatta, seduced by the golden caramelised whole garlic cloves but alas the bread itself was disappointingly stale. The shop was cute tho...
From the Rocks, we made our way down to Chinatown, stopping by at the sardine-packed St Honore Cake Shop on Sussex St to pick up some treats, including the Szechuan pork bun below. Definitely worth pushing your way through the Sunday lunch-time crowd to snag a bun or two or three.

At the other end of the arcade way is Mother Chu's Taiwanese Gourmet, where we had lunch- a taiwanese seafood combination soup and an interesting sounding savoury bean curd soup. I'm used to having sweet bean curd soup, Tau Foo Fa, at yum cha but have not come across a savoury version before. I think I'll stick with the sweet from now on as this broth had aas much flavour as tepid tap water. Actually, both dishes could have done with more seasoning. I think we may have ordered the wrong things as other tables seemed to hold all sorts of delicious-looking dishes...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Free Lunch, Anyone?

How can you eat at a top gastronomic institution like this one every single day and have someone else pay for it?

Here's how....I'm sure the lingerie helps!

Best Cioccolata Calda in Melbourne

A team from The Age's Epicure department tracked down and tested this dense, creamy Italian hot chocolate brew that is cioccolata calda to announce that the best of the best can be imbibed at the Lygon Street institution, Brunetti's.

I can personally attest to fact that Brunetti's cocoa, milk and sugar concoction, which is made by their in-house chocolatier and kept churning in their heated cioccolatiera, is very good indeed, however having not tried the others I cannot definitively name it as the best ;-)

In your opinion, who makes the best cioccolata calda in Melbourne or Sydney?

PS: Unfortunately, despite mentioning that two places did not rise up to standards due either to their uninspiring brew and bad service, the journalist does not name names. Too bad for us as we won't know which places to avoid :-(

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Tetsuya, The Man

During the course of our meal, we even had the honour of meeting THE MAN himself. Apparently Tetsuya is often away due to other engagements, however when he is in the house he does make it a habit to greet his diners. We were fortunate enough to have him come by our little table for two to say hello. We could also see heads from surrounding tables turning around and whispers of 'That's him. That's Tetsuya'. Boy, did we feel special!

Of course, he didn't stay long. Just long enough to wish us a good meal and to recommend that we take our time and enjoy. Just long enough for us to get the impression that he is a down-to-earth and humble guy despite his impressive international reputation.

Tetsuya's, The Restaurant

Long have we waited for this moment - the chance to dine at Australia's best known and most highly rated restaurant, Tetsuya's. This year, the Restaurant Magazine rated Tetsuya's 5th in the world after El Bulli in Spain, The Fat Duck in Britain, Pierre Gagnaire in Paris and French Laundry in California. Time and again, I had tried to book a table only to be told that they were full for the night. This time, knowing that we had a trip to Sydney coming up I booked well in advance for our dinner on Friday 4th August.

We hurried by foot from The Rocks to Kent Street, eager for this culinary experience to begin. Finally locating its gated entrance, we walked down the driveway to be greeted by about four or five attendants who were presumably waiting to park cars. We were seated in a room with only 6 tables but there were at least 6 waiters for that section alone.

Warm Sweet Potato Soup with Feta & Rocket

Pacific Oysters with Rice Vinegar & Ginger (additional item)

Tartare of Tuna on Sushi Rice with Avocado

Tuna Marinated in Soy & Mirin; Soft Smoked Ocean Trout with Asparagus; Marinated NZ Scampi with Chicken Parfait & Walnut

Spring Bay Scallop with Wakame & Lemon

Tetsuya's Signature: Confit of Petuna Tasmanian Ocean Trout with Konbu, Daikon & Fennel

Ravioli of Queensland Spanner Crab with Tomato & Basil Vinaigrette

Roasted Breast of Quail with Soft Polenta & Shiitake Mushrooms

Seared Fillet of Veal with Wasabi Butter

Strawberry Shortcake; Beetroot & Blood Orange Sorbet

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with White Beans & Dates

Floating Island with Praline & Vanilla Bean Anglaise

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Orange and Chocolate Sorbet


The whole meal was worth every cent but which dishes did I particularly enjoy: the tartare of tuna was easily the best I have ever had the pleasure of tasting, the barely cooked scampi, the confit of tuna which is marinated in oil then cooked in a very low oven, and oh the quail ...smacking of lips... I was almost too full to have dessert by the end of the savoury courses but when they arrived, well that was another matter. I could have had an entire bowl of the strawberry shortcake although it probably wouldn't look quite as elegant served like that! The lightness of the floating island surprised me, as did thin stripe of chocolate and raspberry within. We had a special dessert at the end of all that too - thanks, A!

WCB 62: Bella loves Bally

Bella loves getting into and under and inside things like bags, boxes, blankets and she even managed to get stuck in behind the pantry drawer once when, not realising she had crawled in from underneath when I wasn't looking, I slid the door shut. Here she's in the bag while Tasha looks indulgently upon her playful sister.

This week WCB is being hosted by Heather.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Good Living Growers Market & Sydney Fish Market

The day started off promisingly enough despite the weather report warning of impending showers and so, with grey clouds looming, A. & I bravely set out from our hotel at The Rocks in Sydney's CBD. Following Helen's impeccable and detailed instructions to "head down George Street (away from the Opera House and towards Chinatown) until you get to Market Street (walk = 17min or bus it). Turn right at Market Street and continue down the hill, up the ramp and along the pedestrian bridge over the water", A. & I found the Good Living Growers Market in Pyrmont with no trouble at all.

With great foresight, we headed straight to the coffee stall to pick up one cup of coffee and one sweet milky tea. It started drizzling as we stood in line for our hot drinks, then two stalls further on, it poured! We took shelter under a large unbrella that the busker had set up, happily nursing our hot drinks. Hey, being Melburnians we're used to the weather being unpredictable.

The rain let up not too long after and we were able to browse through the market stalls quite freely, sampling Pink Lady apples, lamb burgers, spiced macadamias, dried fruit & nuts, cheeses, honey, olive oils and the odd french pastry or two (okay, we had one whole escargot and palmier):

Amongst other things, we 'somehow' (read 'courtesy of A.') ended up with a bag of apples. What's the big deal with that, right? Well, we were heading back to Melbourne the following day and Victoria has strict rules about bringing in fruit from interstate. I don't think we've eaten quite so many apples in one and a half days before.

Having had our fill at the market, A. & I , made our way towards the Sydney Fish Market on Bank Street, Pyrmont. It was still early enough in the day for the market to be relateively quiet. I expected the market to be a lot bigger than it actually was so it didn't take us long to look around and decide that next time we would stay somewhere with cooking facilities. We had an early lunch of tuna kebab and, of course, grilled fish and golden chips.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Bye, Lime Leaves...

Oh no! We were picking up some things from Safeway QV earlier this evening and on our way out of the complex walked through QV square. To our horror, we noticed that Lime Leaves, the modern Malaysian restaurant with communal tables, is no more. It has been replaced by Wagamama.

We've eaten at Lime Leaves about 4 or 5 times but I hadn't gotten around to blogging about it and now it's too late. I would never have ordered 'hawker-style' dishes because they are way more expensive ($16 to $20) and not as authentic as what you would get from somewhere like Penang Coffee House or Rich Maha. However we have been quite pleased by most of the other dishes that we've tried including the crisp-sealed calamari with wild ginger flower dipping sauce and the roast duck salad with nashi pear, green apple, sprout, carrot, mint and lime leaves. I cannot remember the other dishes and they are not on the menu that I'm holding but they were very good. And it's one of the very few Asian restaurants (and in particular Malaysian restaurants) that leans more towards the fine dining end. As much as I love the grottier places around town, it's good to have that choice available especially if you have friends or relatives who are, ahem, shall we say a little fussier?

Lime Leaves also had two of the best cocktails that we'd come across...sob, sob...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Wedding Dinner at ZINC

Well, the wedding reception itself was held at ZINC at Federation Square. I have to say up front that I'm not normally someone who enjoys the food that is normally served at reception centre BUT I was highly impressed by ZINC.

The entree of Prawn and Coconut Timbale made with fresh West Australian scampi(there seems to be a theme here!), shredded lime and spiced prawn sauce, did not make for a promising start. I didn't enjoy the mouth-feel of the very mousse-like but bland timbale although A. thought it was fine.

Luckily I gave the main course a chance though. I had a roast eye fillet of beef with caramelised onion and red wine sauce and blue cheese and spinach tart. The steak was cooked to perfection - rare in the middle, beautifully tender - and the blue cheese in the tart gave it a gutsy flavour.
A. had the signature dish called a 'Pair of Pears'. To be honest, I couldn't actually figure out why this name until I went home and downloaded the photo - DUH! Roasted half-boned quail and chicken with pasta dura filling, handmade gnocchi, and lemon thyme jus. The pasta dura filling had a smoky quality that paired very well with the chicken. Overall a greta dish although I did think that the chicken was slightly overcooked.

For dessert, we were served an old-fashioned dark chocolate self-saucing pudding with vanilla ice cream. I certainly don't feel as strongly as Ed about restaurants that serve vanilla ice-cream if it was really creamy vanilla-beany ice-cream however I was left rather uninspired by this one. But...the chocolate pudding, with its steamy, runny chocolate interior hidden by a crusty top, more than making up for it. The buttery shortbread was an unnecessary addition to an already rich enough dessert.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Pre-Wedding Dinner Sapore

Some wonderful friends of ours, C & P, tied the knot last weekend! Before the wedding though, P had a quiet 'Hen's Night' a few weeks back with some close friends and family. 7 of us gathered at Aurora Spa Retreat to have our cares massaged away while Prue was treated to their Guku Cocoon Signature Teratment and cocooned in Jellybush honey. Some of our group even caught a glimpse of Guy Sebastian before he was led off for his treatment!

We were then off to have drinks at Lionel's - the idea being that we woudl be detoxing with the spa treatment, then toxing right back up again with champagne... - then dinner at Sapore. I don't remember the details about our dishes but here are some photos to share. Our waitress a little put off when we wanted more time to look at the menu, but otherwise the food was perfectly acceptable. I started with oysters while P had salt and pepper calamari, then grilled West Australian scampi for the main while P had gnocchi.