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

Monday, 15 September 2014

The Morrison, Sydney

An overdue catch up found us at The Morrison on a Friday night.  We had both wanted to try this place especially for their super delicious sounding Crab Toast.

The Morrison, Sydney CBD (near Wynyard Station) was super packed and lively- I suppose for a Friday night that was pretty standard.  A menu was brought to us a by a lovely waitress and as far as menus go, it was short and sweet with a couple of entrees and mains.  

We didn't have to wait long before our dishes came out, beginning with the Crab Toast ($18.00).  It was a delectable composition of chilled snow crab, creme fraiche, lemon zest and chive on rye.  The crab was really fresh and the lemon gave it a very delicious kick- delicious!

Next came our Slow Cooked Pork Hock ($55.00).  Behold, a pan of crispy glory at its best! The meat was cooked peeerfectly.  So crispy outside and with the most fluffy meaty innards, not stringy at all.  Not to mention the apple, radish, watercress salad it was sitting on...and the beautiful caper gravy drizzled all over it.  I distinctly remember scooping up the gravy with my spoon.  So good.


The Morrison Bar & Oyster Room on Urbanspoon

We continued our belly adventures at The Rocks Cafe, The Rocks.

We got the Apple Pie ($12.00) which was supperb! It was nice and warm, we especially loved the crumble on top.  Perfect kind of warm and crumbly :D

I was a little disappointed with this, the Tiramisu ($12.00).  I thought it lacked flavour.  The nuts on top were nice though!

The Rocks Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 11 September 2014

CHISWICK, Woollahra

  We ventured to this beautiful restaurant for Jie's Birthday a few weeks ago.  CHISWICK is well known for its kitchen garden where apparently much of their menu is grown out back :O Didn't get to see that...would have been interesting though!

As you can see below, it is right in the middle of a huuuuuge garden which gives the restaurant an almost royal-like feeling when we walked over to it! :)

We were delighted when we entered the restaurant.  It was nice, spacious and warm, with even warmer staff :D

The pretty menu.

We began our dinner with CHISWICK's famous snow crab sliders ($9 each) from the nibbles section which were every bit as delicious as I had heard and hoped for.  The buns were sweet, soft and warm, sandwiching super fresh lettuce, kewpie, gherkins aaannnddd drummmroolll the most crispy and juicy crab patties ever!

It was such a simple yet perfect combination that we were all blissfully munching away in respectful silence.

I requested more kewpie mayo as I like my burgers more creamy than the average eater, and they kindly brought out a whole granite bowl of it! 

Next came our side of hand cut chips with black aioli ($9.00).  I am still not quite sure what the black part was..but it was creamy, a little sour and together with the super fat crispy fries - bloomin brilliant!

Soon after, our mains came out  This was by far my favourite dish of the night- Sautéed gnocchi, Swiss brown mushrooms, radicchio and taleggio ($28.00).  It was the most amazing gnocchi dish I have ever had in my life.  The chunks of gnocchi were slightly crispy and soooooo soft and pillowy that I thought of my pillows back home..maybe...The mushrooms were nice and juicy with the perfect amount of taleggio (which is kinda of like parmesan) to give it that nice salty kick! It was seriously one tasty dish.  I think it might have been everyone's favourite dish that night! 

Then there was lamb.  Mum and I ordered their other famous wood roasted Moran family lamb, white bean, smoked tomato ($66.00 for two) from their to share section.

It was a mammoth hunk of meat which we eagerly dug into, with the gloriously tender chunks of meat falling off with the slightest nudge of our knives!

I really enjoyed the basil pesto they slathered over the lamb giving the already tasty meat a fresh twist!  The salad on the side was awesome.  So fresh and crispy.

The others opted for the char grilled grain-fed beef, roast parsnip, seeded mustard butter ($33.00).  I tried some of the beef and it was tender and very tasty, just how we like it.   The mustard butter was an excellent accompaniment to the beef that even dad liked it! (He's not usually a fan of anything mustard). 

For dessert, we got the CHISWICK hazelnut rocher ($16.00).  It was such a beautiful and delicate dish.  There was a layer of crispy chocolate base topped with a nice thick slab of super smoooth chocolate mousse.  The roasted hazelnuts on top gave it the perfect final touch.  Wait, must not forget the side of mascarpone ice cream! That ice-cream was delectable!  It might seem obvious, but I highly recommend eating each bite of the hazelnut rocher with some mascarpone ice-cream-- soooo yummy!

Second visit to CHISWICK with Cheesy :)

Again, the sliders.  How could we pass these up? :)

Gnocchi I love you very muchlys.

Finally, something different. This was the pan roasted whole flounder, pine nuts, kale, pipis ($34.00) which was super delicious but a little on the pricey side for its size.  Other than that, the fish was cooked to crispy perfection with a toasty selection of roasted pine nuts and kale.  So good.

For dessert, we opted for the lime parfait, coconut, raspberry ($16.00) which I thought was pretty average.  

My disappointment soon dissipated when my favourite CHISWICK rocher ($16.00) magically appeared, with a handy dandy candle! :) 

Chiswick on Urbanspoon