Wednesday, 5 November 2014

I have a riddle for you!

Here's the ridddle:

On a peculiar day,

We drove down a black lane.

We were looking for a boat,

But the roads were insane.

So narrow and black,

We could hardly see,

But we found a place,

For our car to be!

We walked and found the boat that we sought,

And it was more beautiful than we had ever thought!

Why you ask, did we go so out of the way?

Because it happened to be my happy birthday!

Birthday flowers, wattles could be the way?

Just something light and fun would make my day.

So take a guess, my learned friend, 

Where did we dine that night?

I know you're smart and wont take too long,

To guess this delicious site!

[So there it is, see if you can figure it out! I have something special for the first ten of you!]

Luckily my sister made a booking because the restaurant was packed!  We ordered our food quickly as we were starving and we were soon brought a bowl of sourdough bread with a nice big tub of creamy butter and a glass of sea salt flakes.

The sourdough was lovely, so fluffy and fresh that we ended up ordering another bowl!

We welcomed a nice big plate of Hand Cut Chips, my hands trembled all the way to picking one up--

Trembling with delight I daresay, this chip was one fascinating chip and a delight on my lips!

It was so crispy on the outside and sooo fluffy on the inside-- you see, I have a thing for fat chips.  There is something really satisfying about eating them...I like chips to either be super chunky, or super skinny but that's just me.

Dad got this, it was the Roast Snapper chilling out in a buttery bean type of sauce- not too sure exactly what it was tbh and it was a special of the day so I can't even find out from their website.  Anyway, I did try a bit, and seem to remember the fish was very fresh though the sauce was nothing memorable. Overall it was pretty average.

Another fish was the Roast Cone Bay Barramundi that Mum ordered, but this time chilling on top of roasted carrots, hazelnuts and roast chicken juices. I liked this combo better, I think the hazelnuts and carrot gave it some textural effect and flavour and I found that it balanced the mild taste of the fresh snapper.

Ah the big fat king of the sea. What is this you ask? A special kind of pie (house favourite). I must admit I had never had this kind of pie before, I am more of a crust top crust bottom kind of girl, but this was something else entirely!  Imagine this- giant fish pie, like humongous say 3/4 the size of a football! And when I got my knife and tore into the super flaky and crispy top of my pie which I almost forgot to mention was infused with TRUFFLE OIL,  I was in fish heaven.  The crunch, the truffle aroma...and when we dug in further...

What did I find? I found a silky broth of chunks of fresh fish, smoked tomato and mashed potatoes.  Mind you, it was very hot so be careful.  Maybe wait about 10 minutes before eating it because you might burn your tongue like I did which might spoil the rest of your meal, not me though because I'm awesome haha and I just noticed something...that almost all the mains we ordered were seafood!  I guess it was a boathouse if you paid attention to my poem heh.  Though thinking about it more, one of my sisters did actually order a steak which turned out pretty lousy.  She had ordered it medium rare turned out to be more like blue.  Urgh so gross, but luckily they were helpful and cooked it a bit longer for us and even after they fixed it up, it was still only average.  So if you decide to visit, stick with the seafood and you'll be fine.

Another wondrous dish was the Brussel Sprouts dressed in not the usual way whatever that may be, for us it soy sauce, but instead this was dressed in...bacon cream! I wish I had that cool mobile emoticon atm, you know the funny one with the yellow face holding hands up to face with mouth wide open and a blueish hue to face? Hahaha yep it was good, the cream was fragrant not to mention the ooozy soft boiled egg they shoved in the middle for extra delightfulness which I mixed and messed into the rest of the dish haha it was fun!

Mm...I can't really remember what this dish was- I can't find it on their menu online which lemme just say is qualified because this was such a boring dish.  Not only was it boring but it didn't even taste good.  Let me explain.  There was broccolini which tasted boiled, topped with a blob of goats cheese- that was decent, and drizzled with some sort of tomato salsa oil type thing. FAIL,

In any case, most of the foods were very delicious and we proceeded to desssert!

Contrary to that weird dish, soon came our desserts.  I just have to say- this boat HAS SUBLIME DESSERTS.  Even more sublimeness when out came a romantically candle lit dessert-the Pistachio Cannoli.  WHO did this? My sweet sister :) My candle was sitting on top of rhubarb ripple ice cream and salted caramel.  This combo worked surprisingly well together, I think the sourness of the rhubarb and the sweetness of the fluffy pistachio cream.  I really liked that cream.

When the candles faded, singing faded, cannoli faded and my blush faded...came the Banana Souffle- another house special!  If you don't know souffle, think giant banana flavour muffin but much fluffier and cooked in a cute iron cast pan! I must admit I was super excited when I first heard there was banana, cause I usually like my bananas, but I dunno..this was very light and the banana flavour really mild, and it tasted, i dunno, kinda bland.  But that's just me- I'm sure other people would like it.  I did like the peanut and chocolate ice-cream though, it was very rich and creamy and so much so that  I experimented with a bit, by digging a hole into the centre of the souffle and popping the ice-cream in, haha it was fun to watch it ooze into the souffle walls and achieve the balance I was looking for! :D

This however, was the highlight dessert of the night and my personal favourite. So pretty in pink was the Buttermilk Pannacotta topped with watermelon granita and strawberries.

Only qualm was that the strawberries weren't that fresh...we are strawberry snobs you see.  But it was still, delicious as can be! :)

My other sister's birthday is coming up...and I am crazily racking my brain for ideas. I want something that is fancy, not degustation fancy, more like Pendolino fancy, not too noisy- like a mild chatter, and most importantly serving meats or Italian.  I would appreciate hearing any ideas you may have!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Alpha and Omega.

Another Friday night of fun eating, this time at Alpha, Sydney CBD.  This Greek restaurant is located on Castlereagh Street and though relatively new, it is super popular already!  Bookings are highly recommended, especially on a busy night like Friday.  I actually knew nothing of this restaurant until recently despite it's popularity...though I think I might have been out of the food loop for a while.  So how did I come to know of it? Well...let me tell you a story.

One night, I was doing a survey about cars, and one of the questions asked me to list brands of the most expensive cars I could think of.  I went with the usual Porsche and Ferrari however there was one I couldn't remember the name of. I only remembered that the name had the word ALPHA in it, or so I thought.  So I popped that into my Google bar and what do you know, I found Alpha Romeo and underneath,  Alpha Restaurant!  I looked at it, I liked it, I had a feeling about it. To be honest, after a little research, I was even more excited to see the interior of the restaurant than I was about the food! So that was the story. Heh.

Now back to dinner.  So when I arrived at Alpha, Mel had not arrived yet so I decided to do a little bit of sight seeing around restaurant. I have to say, I loved every inch of it.

Mm..let me try to describe the interior design to you so you can visualise it.  Imagine walking into a huge, dimly lit restaurant with ceilings high as the sky, tall white pillars, and whitewashed walls carved with Greek inscriptions.  I wish I could read the inscriptions...that would be so cool.  Those walls were so beautiful I actually went over to touch them. See the wall above? Yup, I had my fingers aaaalllll over it. Something about the lighting and the layout of the restaurant made it feel like I was in a secret tomb...looking for treasure!

While admiring the restaurant, Mel arrived.  We were seated promptly, and just as promptly ordered our food as we were famished!  Many of the menu items looked delicious, but we decided on just a few of our faaaavourite things! Or at least things that included our favourite things.

So what did we start of with? The Taramosalata .  It was a white cod roe's dip which was very tasty and so perfectly creamy.  See those pita bread slices behind? First of all, I would highly recommend getting them.  Secondly, we found one serving to be plenty for the two us.  But you might know better and order more because there were loads of other delicious sounding dips you might want to try!   We really liked the the pita breads.  They were warm, fluffy and pan fried with a little bit of olive oil.  The subtleness of the pita bread paired perfectly with he saltiness of the dip.  Oh, did I mention that they were really generous with the cod roe? 

Did I mention that our dishes came out really quickly? I hardly had time to ask Mel how her day was!  Literally, mid conversation we were presented with this beautiful plate, the Moussaka of Eggplant.  When I saw it on the menu, I knew it was a must.  We both love our eggplants, and this dish definitely deserved a lot of love.  The eggplant was nicely charred and crispy on the inside, yet super fluffy and moist on the inside.  It literally melted in the mouth when we bit into it.  It was topped with chunks of fresh tomato salsa, and you might be thinking, what are those white discs? They were seared scallops! They were chilling on top of a big fat dollop of natural yoghurt which was surprisingly a really tasty combination.  This was our favourite dish of the evening!

Next came our Spanakopita, a huge spinach pie filled with leeks, feta and other dill.

I must say, though aesthetically pleasing, that was where the pleasing ended.  I thought that the filling was bland and the pastry dry.  

However, we were really really impressed with their service, even from the beginning.  Our waitreess was attentive, our cups never ran dry and she even quartered the spinach pie for us!

Then came what Mel was really looking forward to, the wagyu beef keftedes with tomato salsa on the side.  These balls of fury were really tasty.  They were deep fried, which tasted particularly good with the coriander yoghurt they were sitting on. I personally liked having the balls with the salsa, as I found it refreshing, but I think Mel preferred them alone.

Despite being very full by the end of our mains, our oh mega bellies, knew they wanted dessert, heh.

We were a little hung up on which dessert to choose, but Mel wanted the Loukoumades, so we got that.  We were presented with a plate of eight gloriously fried doughnut balls topped with candied walnut ice cream (we ordered two scoops), spiced honey syrup and crushed pistachios.  I think Mel made a great choice because this was the best Loukoumades I had ever tried.  The walnut ice cream was a unique flavour of ice cream to put with the dougnhuts balls (usually they they are served with vanilla ice cream), but surprisingly it went really well! I guess it made it taste really special.  Oh and the spice honey syrup was like liquid gold. 

We left Alpha, happy as clams and rolled over to another venue.

Alpha Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Infiltration of The Ministry of Magic

Dear edible diary,

On a random Friday night, my friends and I had dinner at Gowings Bar and Grill.  I had stumbled across this restaurant somehow and it sounded like lots of fun to check out! The fun started with having to FIND the restaurant which was like a crazy maze!! But never fear my big genius belly *cough* brain led me to find it no problem! 

The entrance to Gowings was wedged in between the Theatre on Market Street and Topshop where there was an inconspicuous opening leading to an inconspicuous alley leading to a cute little coffee shop by the name of Parlour Lane. Faced towards Parlour Lane, I turned left to a set of lifts in a dark hall and discovered that Gowings was on level 1.  It was so mysterious and secret and totally felt like Harry shooting down  the telephone booth into the Ministry of Magic!

When the lift opened, I was presented with an empty dark room filled with old style furniture and shelves filled with random but interesting items, well at least I found them interesting as I am random.  I then headed into the bar area, which was crazy packed liked sardines and we had to make a beeline to the restaurant. Luckily we had made a booking otherwise we might have had to wait a while, and we were hungry.

What magically appeared before our eyes, was a complimentary basket of brown and white sourdough baguettes together with... wait for it..Pepe Saya butter to boot!

The baguettes were warm and crusty, and made me feel all warm and fuzzy watching our generous smears of butter melt onto their fluffy innards.  Though I didn't notice a huge difference between Pepe Saya butter  and normal butter at the time, I looked it up later and found some pretty cool facts on it.  It is basically cultured butter made with the best local ingredients, cultured (as shown in the pic below) making it natural and healthy. 

Check out this video from their website:

Our food arrived pretty quickly, starting with our hot beignets French market doughnuts heavily dusted in icing sugar.  I have a confession to make...these are actually on the sweets menu haha so if you can't find it on the savoury menu, you will know why!  I had tried these in America, and these were were just as good! They were slightly crisp on the outside like a cinnamon doughnut from Wendy's and oober fluffy on the insides, and not to mention springy! I liked these.

And then our sides apparated before our eyes.

This was a mini pan of brussel sprouts and double smoked bacon gratinated with 
Taleggio cheese.  Though sceptical at the time of ordering, the others were were very pleased with this version of brussel sprouts. I vaguely remember someone asking, err are these brussel sprouts?

We also ordered their fried onion rings, and though I was not sure what kind of fried they would be (could be fish style fried or schnitzel kind of fried) they turned out to be my kind of fried.

Next came The Mac n Cheese “Maccheroni con Formaggio e Tartufo” Black Truffle, Reggiano, Asiago, Taleggio,  Gruyère Cheese Sauce, gratinated with Pangrattato.  

The macaroni was cooked perfectly al dante and the much cheesiness was so aromatic but not so much that we couldn't taste the beaaautiful black truffle.   

I got us a seemingly healthy bowl of steamed whole and mashed peas, mint butter, it was very nice and buttery.

Between the two of us, we got the minute steak rib eye,  100% Black Angus, Darling Downs NSW, 180g anchovy butter, watercress, shallots, horseradish salad and shoestring fries.  I must say, I did not like this at all.  The steak was salty and wet. Hate wet steak with passion.  The watecress salad on the side was good.

The second steak we ordered however, was great! Shiro-kin Full Blood Wagyu 9+ Rump
Darling Downs NSW, 300g.  It also came with different kinds of mustards, which I only tried a teensy bit of and didn't like.  The steak was super tender and tasty, our knives cutting swiftly through the meat like butter! I lost half my marbles in the process.

In my blissful world of marbly wagyu, I still managed to try some of the mains that the others ordered.

There was the lamb shank braised with red wine and rosemary, mascarpone polenta, tiny whole shallot and parsley wine sauce which was pretty nice from memory!

Then there was the fennel and pepper crusted Yellow-Fin tuna steak served rare with parsnip purée and a warm salad of peas, chervil and red onion.  I don't recall much from this dish except that it was quite bland.

At this point we were really realllllyyy stuffed, like I am pretty sure we used up our dessert bellies and even I was contemplating skipping dessert! In the end, did we back down in the face of adversity? NEVER!  

So out came our delicious "My Trifle, Zuppa Inglese’’ lemon sponge, chianti jelly, vanilla mascarpone,  fresh raspberries, almonds and pistachios.

In honour of this dish, I pledge my allegiance to never doubting my belly again.

We left the restaurant, happy as clams, up the phone booth and into the wilderness.

Gowings Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Winter Wonderland in Manly

Dear Edible Diary, 

My friend and I were chilli beans walking around Circular Quay when we spotted the ferry terminal.  I knew exactly what I wanted to do at that point and though he wasn't all that keen on my randomness, he was curious enough to join me on the next ferry to Manly! I could feel my water elements gearing up as we jetted across the crystal blue sea! When we arrived, I was really surprised to find that it was warm and sunny! We were chilli beans no more! We decided to check out the Art Gallery but along the way we got distracted by the beautiful scenery...and...

 I had totally heard about this place a while back but have been crazy busy that I didn't have time to go! But that day was the day that we became oneeeee!

I can't remember what time we went but it was definitely a good time because we were seated immediately with perfect view of the beach!

How cool is this picture right? My sexy bottle chillin on the sexy ledge overlooking the sexy beach.  

For starters, we ordered the crumbed baby bocconcini w/chilli jam.  Verdict? Well good enough for me to take photos of them chillin on the window sill... 

On the table...

Half masticated on my fork...

Ah and that chilli jam was so good, it complemented the salty cheeeesiness perfecctly!

Den was very happy when his main arrived, the Steak Frites- New York cut, green peppercorn butter and fries.  He said it was delicious and after I tried some, I had to agree.  It was very tender and tasty!

My dish was the grilled prawn gnocchi w/ goats cheese, pine nuts, peas and tea soaked sultanas. In terms of the gnocchi alone, I found their texture to be nice and bouncy (I like to call it Qyu Qyu in my native language, and anyone who gets that is pretty cool in my books).  Despite the nice texture, I found the gnocchi to be quite bland, but together with the other components of the dish, namely the saltiness of the goats cheese and sweetness of the soaked sultanas, it tasted like magic. Yes magic.  Sadly, the magic didn't work for him so much, as the dish disapparated before I could quid pro quo! 

After lunch, we had more fun with Ben and Jerry :D

Next post baking, and it will be, riveting.

The Pantry on Urbanspoon