Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Curzon Hall - Marsfield

This Saturday was met with memories and emotions.

It was my friend's wedding.

It was held at the church mine will be at in a month's time - so I felt my heart skipping a beat throughout the procession. The wedding was met with laughter and tears.

A lunch reception was at Curzon Hall - the place of our high school formal. I remember that I was as sick as a dog on the night of my formal, raging super high temperatures, I still perservered and went - but due to my sickness, most of the night was a blur to me. Since my school formal, Curzon hall had undergone several renovations and hence, it looked absolutely splendid, grand and amazing in the hall which my friend chose for his reception.

Our table :)

Food was served as promptly as could be for around 28 tables. As an entree, we were met with basil linguini tossed with salmon, tasmanian scallops and topped with mixe herbs. It was drenched in a realatively heavy and oily chives & pernod cream. We were all really hungry though and just gobbled this one down. As the portion was rather huge, we were all kind of full by the end of this first course :P

basil linguini with salmon and scallops in a creamy chives and pernod sauce

The meals were broken up with more speeches, more hugs and more laughter. Perfect :)

In terms of mains, there was alternate lamb and chicken. The rack of herb crusted lamb was served on fluffly mash potato, surrounded by fresh rocket leaves, snow peas and drenched with red wine jus. My friend who had the lamb said that it was an enmeshment of just intense sauced up flavour. However, it was difficult to distinguish the specific flavour of each item. All enmeshed according to my friend.

rack of herb crusted lamb

I was lucky enough to escape an untimely death with lamb and instead, got the slow baked grain fed baby chicken. It was really quite tender, and was marinated in fresh garden herbs. A ring of potato, leek and onion was quite endearingly hearty and rich. Scattered everywhere was baby button mushrooms, tiny pearl onions and bits of smoked speck. All this was again drenched in a slightly over-poweringly sauvignon and lemon thyme sauce.

slow baked baby chicken

Then was the bride and groom's speech - and a groom's special surprise song to his lovely new wife.

And before long - there was dessert. A three-toned cylinder of white chocolate, hazelnut and chocolate gelato. It was sprinkled with crushed belgium chocolate and accompanied by mixed berries. The gelato was amazingly yummy. Icey enough, chocolatey enough, sweet yet not too sweet. Mmm... Yummy :)

3-tone gelato

And so, the joyous day was filled with emotions - all happy ones. I would have loved to stick around and reminisce but unfortunately, reality was calling and I had to dash.

Food - 7/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - ?
Overall - 22 + ?/40

Curzon Hall (Lady Mary's Pavilion)
53 Agincourt Road
NSW 2122
Tel: (02) 9887 1877

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Foveaux (2) - Surry Hills

I haven't been out to dinner for my parents for AGES - and usually when we eat out, it's at a Chinese restaurant, so it took a lot of persuasion to make them drive all the way out to the city with me to try out innovative non-asian cuisine.

For this ground-breaking moment, I decided to take them to Foveaux, a comfortable little restaurant in Surry Hills.

Seated by a cheery, friendly waiter, we were given space to decide on our menus (much appreciated). It took a little convincing to make my parents order the degustation ($80) and this is what we were served with :

Amuse Bouche of curry, lentils and warm yoghurt soup. You could smell this from afar - slightly a bit too overbearing for my liking. Very curried up - but then the sourness of warm yoghurt kicks in... making it all slightly ugh.

curry, lentils and warm yoghurt

For the first course, there was a choice of either the tomato and olive oil sorbet or the smoked albacore tuna. My parents were a bit shocked by the sorbet. "It's cold and like icecream!" - yes, that's what sorbets are like. I guess they weren't quite expecting it as a first course. The sorbet was accompanied by diced cucumber, baby rocket, cubes of olive jelly and sheep's fetta bits. For decoration, a long paint stroke of capsicum. Awesome presentation - but tastewise... not really my type of dish (nor my parent's unfortunately).

tomato and olive oil sorbet, cucumber, baby rocket, olive jelly, sheep's fetta and capsicum paint

The smoked albacore tuna, on the other hand, was extremely yummy. Very smokey in flavour, tomato salsa on top of the tuna, avocado sauced up, whipped ponzu and decorated with sesame. The textures and the flavours worked really well together :)

cold smoked albacore tuna, whipped ponzu, tomato salsa, avocado and sesame

For course 2, there was a choice of either roasted quail or caramalised venison tongue. The quail was accompanied by a smoked eel croquette, all sitting on a bed of diced beetroot and leaves, and sprinkled through with capers. From the looks on my parent's faces, this seemed just OK.

roasted quail, smoked eel croquette, caper, beetroot and leaves

The caramalised venison tongue was an unexpected surprise. Rather thick chunked, I was amazed that the tongue was really tender and not chewy or tough. Also, being caramelised, it was subtly sweet. What I liked more, however, was the accompanying scampi. It was semi-cooked, leaving a half raw, smooth texture, and being super sweet :) On top of these was the shredded carrot. The tongue and the scampi were swimming in a strong sea urchin custard and rhubarb powder mixture.

caramalised venison tongue, scampi, sea urchin custard, carrot, and rhubarb powder

Next was the fish - either the leather jacket or the mulloway. The herbed baked leather jacket was present sub-par for Foveaux's standards. It looked like a blurb or a mess really. The leather jacket - cooked almost perfectly, was sitting on top a mess of lettuce, and there were blobs of peas and green olive puree. Maybe it was because everything was a green, it wasn't the most visually stimulating. Scattered amongst the greens were bits of braised rabbit. I have to say, I appreciated my mulloway more :)

herb baked leather jacket, braised rabbit, lettuce, peas and green olive puree

My roast palmers island mulloway was perfecto-ly cooked. Super crispy skinned. Super tender and soft and tasty. A rather strong bouillabaisse foam was sitted inside a crepe-y cylinder. White mashed polenta was artistically painted under the fish and on the side of it all, was a little salad of tomato and black olive. All up, it was really really tasty. Really really YUM :)

roast palmers island mulloway, bouillabaisse foam, white polenta, black olive and tomato

In terms of meats, there was either the lamb or the veal. My dad loved the lamb. The rump was cured and smoked to super tenderness and tastiness. To add to the lamby taste, there was the lamb liver puree in two splotches on the side. Tiny amoung of greens were under the lamb. Garlic foam and puffed spelt were spread on top of the meat to add to all the flavours.

cured and smoked lamb rump, liver puree, greens, garlic, and puffed spelt

As I don't eat lamb, I opted for the veal sirloin. This was really really tender - almost melt in your mouth (or as much as it can for a veal sirloin). What caught my attention was the mushroom puree... it smelt AMAZING~ Mushies and parsnip cubes were abundant and drenched in meat juices. Or maybe it was the upland cress and thyme jus... whatever it was, the sauce was really strong, but accompanied the meat well :)

roasted veal sirloin with mushroom puree, parsnip, upland cress and thyme jus

The pre-dessert was my favourite of the night. It was a light milk sorbet sitting on top of a salad of pineapple and topped with crunchy caramelised macadamia. YUM. Cold. Refreshing. Absolutely delicious. It was light in flavour yet it provided a slight relief from all the other flavours which were in my mouth from earlier tonight. I swear I could eat many many of these!

salad of pineapple, milk sorbet and macadamia nut praline

In terms of dessert, I was a little disappointed. There was a banana dish or a ginger dish - neither of which I was a fan of. The banana dish was comprised of banana ice cream, caramalised banana pieces, crumbed digestive biscuit, and a super thin slice of coffee and tonka bean sitting on top. The only thing I liked from this was the coffee and tonka slice - but... I'm biased. I just don't eat banana :)

banana ice cream, caramalised banana, digestive biscuit, coffee and tonka

The other option was a ginger sponge. It was extremely extremely gingery - slightly over-bearingly so. It was on a rather large bed of carrot marmalade and topped with cream cheese ice cream and an interesting slice of candied carrot. It was ... umm...healthy-looking and just strong. Almost sickeningly gingery and sickening sweet. Where's my chocolate?!?! :(

ginger sponge, carrot marmalade, cream cheese ice cream and walnut powder

Ok - so my second experience at Foveaux was slightly mixed. I'm sure my parents would agree, there were good dishes and some which seemed to slightly miss the mark. Service was rather good. And so was the ambiance ... until a super large noisy crowd started dinner at around 9ish.
Would I come back? Well... third time lucky~ I'm a sucker for the way Foveaux tries its best to be creative, mixing odd flavours and textures together to keep us in awe and amazement :)

Food - 7/10
Service - 8/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 30/40

65-67 Foveaux St
Surry Hills
NSW 2010
Tel: (02) 9211 0664

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Snacks in Cabramatta

By now you might be wondering - geez, how many trips did she make to Cabra recently?
Answer... one.
We just ate heaps and heaps within the period of 3 hours LOL.

Now my friend told me that Red Lea at Cabra serves notably one of the best chips in Sydney. What? It's just a Red Lea. Are you serious?

We snuck a peak at it... pretty average looking.... but as we stood outside scouting the area for a while we realised... OMGOSH sooooo many people came here to buy chips - mainly of the large size. It was pretty amazing! And the longer we stood, the more we smelt it. I think it's the chicken salt.

Red Lea Chicken

We were tempted. Hence, I just HAD to try.
"medium or large?" the guy asked. Erm... small ($3)? I did just have lunch afterall. And wow! The chicken salt is soooo orange! haha. It tasted like pretty average chips. Good crunchiness. Good potato fluffiness. And the chicken salt reminded us of the "shake shake fries" you used to be able to get from Maccas. Good times.

Small Chips - $3

A & A Cakes

My friend was also telling us about mouthwatering sweet donuts you could buy from this Asian bakery. And so, full stomachs or not, we went hunting.

Sweet donuts are best eaten fresh. And I mean... FRESH. If you let it stay in it's paper bag, you will realise that soon, your whole paperbag is oiled up. So take my word for it - eat it straight away! It's kind of crunchy yet soft and chewy on the inside. The middle bits are like sweet crumbly bits ... kinda like ovened condensed milk bits (? Not sure here... I'm only guessing). This is something I usually only eat in HK.

sweet donuts

We also had to get the egg tarts. Puffy and light pastry with smooth egg. Not the smoothest egg bit we've eaten, but it was decent.

Egg Tarts

I have to tell you. My friends are pretty awesome. On top of eating everything we did, they also ate a bowl of pho each :)

So that concludes our Cabra food tour :P

Red Lea Chicken
57 John Street
NSW 2166
Tel: (02) 9726 3017

A&A Cakes
101 John St

tel: (02) 9726 5632

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cafe 86 - Cabramatta

Cafe 86

Our friends who we went to Cabra with had did some research and came up with Cafe 86 as the best place for coffee and drinks in the area. When we approached the cafe... it looked a bit ... umm... dicey? Nonetheless, we were game enough.

We wanted a menu - only to be told that it was all on the board behind the counter. The font was a little bit small... and hence, we all had to stand up to check it out. My partner asked for a whole coconut (which is advertised on their board) only to be met by a very very confused waiter...
"no, the whole coconut please"
"glass?" "no, coconut"
"uh...yeh... glass..."

Funnily enough, my friends wanted the iced milk tea and again, were met by confused looks. "Ice tea? there! (pointed to the complimentary jug of iced green tea)"
"nono... iced milk tea"
"huh? no. ice tea there"
"tea with milk"
"ok, how about the whole coconut?"
"yeh, glass"

young coconut juice

It was interesting. Amazingly, pretty much the whole glass of coconut juice was ice. I'd say, 95% ice, 5% juice :P

I ordered the iced milk coffee. Luckily, no difficulties in getting this order down. And like the coconut juice, there was 95% ice in mine. It's soooo decietful. Feels like you've hardly even touched the drink and yet, there's nothing left. Luckily, the coffee was really nice and strong and sweet. Would have been more satisfying if there was more of it and less ice though LOL

iced milk coffee - $3.80

When we stepped outside, I think I understood why there was so much ice. Most people who seem to consume beverages here seem to chill around... alot. There's chinese chess available for people to play with and they are all seated like they're gonna be there for the next 5 hours. I guess that in 5 hours time, your ice melts - leaving you with just as much drink as you started with. But if you're just in for a quick drink (and by quick I mean, if you want to leave within half an hour of getting your drink), perhaps another place (which serves less ice) would be more recommended :)

Drink - 6.5/10
Service - 5.5/10
Ambiance - 6/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 25/40

Cafe 86
4/29 John Street
Cabramatta, 2166
Tel: (02) 9723 2696

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cafe Bello - Burwood

Cafe Bello

I had extreme cravings for pasta. Super creamy cheese unhealthy pasta. Having some business to take care of in Burwood, we settled for Cafe Bello, an Italian cafe inside Westfield.

It was pretty busy for 2pm - and being relatively hungry, we ordered pretty much straight away. My partner opted for a chocolate thickshake ($5.90) and a cheeseburger ($15.90). His chocolate thickshake was thick and sweet and chocolatey. Nicely ice-creamily thick and rather delish. AND it came is a frosty milk-shake cup which was super super huge. I think my partner felt sick after downing this whole Litre of milk/icecream/chocolate mixture :)

Chocolate thickshake - $5.90

I tossed between a mocha frappe ($5.90) or a mocha thickshake ($5.90). At the end, I decided on the frappe. My partner debated for ages what the difference between the two drinks would be. I guess a mocha thickshake would have more milk + icecream, whereas a frappe would have more ice + icrecream? No matter what the answer is, my drink was awesome! Thick enough. Cold enough. Coffee-flavoured enough. And sweet enough.

Mocha frappe - $5.90

My partner's cheeseburger ($15.90) comprised of a thick beef patty topped with melted cheese and beetroot, lettuce, caramelised onion, and tomato heaped with bbq sauce and with chips on the side. I also eyed the works burger (which had also egg, bacon and pineapple on top of everything else) which was like simply towering! I think the burger was averagely good :)

Cheese burger - $15.90

To satisfy my pasta craving, I chose the penne boscaiola ($17.90). Creamy, loads of bacon strips, small bits of mushrooms, shallots and shaved parmesan all creamed up by a white wine cream sauce. Mmm.... YUM. Very satisfying for my craving. Very very filling.

Penne boscaiola - $17.90

Given that we had a voucher for this place (thanks to the Entertainment book), our lunch came to less than $30. Not bad at all. They also had a huge range of cakes in their display cabinets which, if my stomach had allowed, I would definately have tried.

Food - 8/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 29/40

Cafe Bello
Westfield Burwood
100 Burwood Road,
Burwood NSW 2134
Tel: (02) 9745 1545

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tan Viet Noodle House - Cabramatta

The best crispy skinned chicken in Sydney?

It's so good that it's super crowded on weekends... and my partner drives from Mascot to come here for lunch (yes - on a super extended lunch break). I just had to try.

Tan Viet Noodle House

Despite the line, we luckily did not have to wait too long. A good majority of people dining here ordered the crispy chicken with egg noodles either "wet" (ie. with soup) or "dry" (ie. without soup - more like a stir noodle with sauce). My partner said that the "wet" noodles are good... and so, this time, we tried the "dry" noodles.

With it, my partner ordered also a iced white coffee.... and it was HEAVENLY~ Coffee-lollied and sweet and strong and just delicious. A bit too much ice, but I guess it made it cold enough.

Iced white coffee

And I have to say, the chicken did not disappoint. Super thinly skinned but soooo stupidly crispy and fresh. Not too much fat content stuck to the skin either! Also, the meat itself was sooo tender and soooo succulent and soooo juicy and soooo tasty. It was pretty ridiculously good for chicken that you get in Sydney. Now I kind of get why my partner drives to Cabra for lunch LOL

Crispy skinned chicken with noodles -$12

"dry" noodles
crispy skinned chicken
bean sprouts

So at Tan Viet, we're talking slightly overlly asianated. Slighly noisy. Speedy service (but don't expect too many smiles). And pretty awesome chicken! :)

Food - 9/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 6/10
Value for money - 8/10
Overall - 30/40

Tan Viet Noodle House
3/100 John St
NSW 2166
Tel: (02) 9727 6853

Monday, March 14, 2011

Taste of Sydney 2011

As I was purchasing tickets for the Taste of Sydney festival this year, I realised something horrendous... I haven't blogged about last year's Taste of Sydney festival - reason being, I had put my partner in charge of photo taking... and he still hasn't given them to me.

So this year, I was determined to take my own photos. Again, heading for the evening session on the Saturday, we were met with quite a large crowd of fellow hungry food forages. We tasted many a things - from wine to sauces to dips to salmon to icecream - and all were pretty awesome! But in terms of things we used our crowns (the official currency of the festival) for, it was the following:

From memory, I think we had like 4 different wagyu beef dishes last year... this year, fish (salmon and trout varieties) seemed like the new black. Our first pick was from Berowra Waters Inn. I have to say, we smelt this in the cooking from outside the festival gates... and hence we just HAD to have it. They had a seeminly awesome selection of oyster beignets, slow cooked ocean trout, and cheese. I have to say, both the oysters and the trout looked amazing... but we opted for the trout (12 crowns). And trout did not disappoint. It was simply falling off my fork and melting in my mouth. AMAZING texture, amazing flavour - especially when dipped in the french onion soup puree. Accompanying the simply gorgeous (I can eat millions of) trout was a peppered oxtail 'croustillant' which was really, just a fancy juicy beefy spring roll type thing - and that was pretty awesome to... but in my mind, it was the trout which stood out.

We walked past Croquembouche Patisserie and initially, was enticed by the eiffel tower look-a-like thing. After a second of checking the place out, it was their selection of tarts, macaroons and petit fours which enticed me. Even though I had pretty much not eaten anything substantial yet, my stomach was telling me - "dessert time". And so I was coerced into picking a chocolate fondant (2 crowns) and it was simply decadent! Smooth, super rich cocoa mass denseness with a substantially good contrasted biscuity-cakey type base. Topped with just rich chocolate ganache... Mmm... Goes straight to the top of my cravings list :)

Now onto more main meals. I saw this super colourful arrangement from Otto and decided I had to have it. A Regal King salmon carpaccio (10 crowns) with orange bits, shaved fennel, salmon roe, baby herbs and crispy salmon skin, doused in a citrus and chardonnay vinegar dressing... it looked a million dollars. Tasted interesting too. Fresh. Yet the crispy salmon skin was like eating intensely salmon-flavoured chips - slightly hectic. The salmon itself was rather delicious :)

However, I have to say, Regal king salmon - which has a much more intense flavour compared to atlantic salmon - tastes better when cooked (or lightly seared). According to our later watching of Matthew Kemp (Restaurant Balzac) demonstrating his cooking of his seared regal king salmon with pomegrante, mint and feta salad (10 crowns), this is due the the fatty content that is in the New Zealand origin fish. All I can say is that when the fat is melted just a bit, it gives off ZOMG AMAZING flavours (or maybe it's because they cook it well?). These king salmon skewers were pretty damn delicious!

To me, it was dessert time again. I remember tasting absolutely amazingly creamy and rich icecream from the New Zealand tent last year, and surely enough - they were here this year again! Kohu Road icecream is apparently purchasable at any grocery store in NZ... but in Sydney, it's slightly harder to locate. We were given free sample tastings... vanilla (super rich, you can even taste the vanilla beans) was one of my partner's favourites, my friends liked the golden syrup, I thought that cookies and cream was pretty awesome... but after a very long deliberation, I decided to have a scoop of espresso and a scoop of dark chocolate. Both flavours were intense. Intense in a good way. Due to it's melting nature, I gobbled it up in no time and went hunting for the next lot of food with my partner :P

Wagyu beef burger (originally from Becasse store back in the day), currently offered from Charlie & Co is something I think we ordered all 3 taste of sydney festival's we've been to (12 crowns, 10 if you're a HSBCer). I have to say, the very first time I had this thing - it was gorgeously juicy, novel and eye-opening. The second time was good too. This time - I think I've had too much exposure to awesomely juicy beef burgers (maybe just a tad spoilt) and this burger, still amazingly juicy and tasty and yum, lacked a bit of creativity. The weird thing is, I didn't even pick to order this this time - it was my partner (and he was unimpressed with it the first time around). Men are weird. ish.
My partner's last dish of the night was from Four in Hand - the confit pork belly, squid, chorizo and chickpea (10 crowns). The pork belly was deep fried, yet kind of tender. Lots of tomatoey stuff and bits of chorizo, squid and chickpea just kind of swimming. My partner seemed to like this... I didn't enjoy it was much. I don't think I like my pork belly deep fried... or maybe if they deep fry it, it has to be thicker? I'm not sure, but it was a bit too crispy and dry for my liking, even though it was swimming in the choriza chickpea mixture.

So there you have it, our taste of sydney festival experience. I have to say, being a HSBCer, getting a free drink and a free chill out area was pretty cool - you get to enjoy the VIP area without paying VIP. The food and the exhibitors this year was also pretty good - and yes, I think this is the year of Regal King Salmon (can't get enough of that stuff LOL)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pane e Vino - Concord

Brunch time!
This time, we took off to Pane e Vino in Concord - which is a cafe by day, restaurant by night.

Pane e Vino

I had a huge coffee craving and hence, coffee was definately on my agenda. My capp was average. Not bad, good amount of foam and chocolate powder but... I don't know. Sydney coffee still lacks the strong aroma-ness of asian coffees (say, Viet coffee) and the creamy richeness of Italian coffee (or even Melbourne coffee). Nonetheless, the coffee wasn't bad.


Foodwise, my partner opted for the "breakfast in concord" ($14.50). This was 2 poached eggs sitting on top of a huge paella of richly herbed tomatoey baked organic cannellini beans. Bits of bocconcini and fresh basil were scattered throughout and 2 bread slices (slightly burnt) was served on the side. To me, this was eating a fancy version of baked beans on toast with eggs... except the beans were more richly bathed in tomato sauce. Didn't appeal to me too much. My partner said it was average - I think he would have liked a bit of meat on it :P

breakfast in concord- $14.50

I chose the "concord express" ($7.50) which was 2 eggs cooked however I wanted (in my case, poached) and served with in-house baked bread. A load of extras were available (mushrooms, tomato, sausage, hashbrowns, bacon, beans spinach). I decided to add chicken sausage ($3) and a hash brown ($1.50) to mine. The sausages didn't look too appetising - wrinkly weird orangey-yellowish colour - BUT tasted awesome! My eggs were cooked perfectly - just the right amount of runniness. My hashbrown was a bit too crusty. And my bread was good. So all up, I enjoyed my brunch :)

concord express - $7.50 (+ sausage $3 + hashbrown $1.50)

Service is not the most attentive, but they get by. The food seems to be fresh - they do their best. And ambiance-wise is pretty good. Chillaxy open cafe.

Food - 7/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7.5/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 28.5/40

Pane e Vino
50 Mortlake Street
NSW 2171
Tel: (02) 8765 8818