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Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Zumboron Day 2011 @ Adriano Patisserie, Balmain

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Every year Adriano Zumbo has his macaron day, which is usually on his birthday but this year it was held on 27th November. It is a day composed of all different flavours of macarons, and so a few of us went out and bought all the flavours we had not yet tried. 


Pandan Cinnamon doughnut Milo Vegemite

Raspberry short bread
Choc mint Maple syrup pancake Toasted marshmallow

Cheese cake

Eucalptus
PB & J
Salted milk chocolate caramel
Bloody mary
Green apple pie
Peach ice tea
Salt and vinegar
Cherry coconut Margarita Pecan danish Strawberry bubblegum

Buttersctoch
caramel

Mandarin and tonka bean
Raspberry Salted butter caramel

Choc banana
Mango black pepper Raspberry & beetroot Redskin


28 macarons in total were bought, and the list had 60. I wanted to try other strange flavours but I was disappointed to find out that the Balmain store didn't have them. These flavours included banh mi (bread), ramen, calamari and fried chicken. 

My favourite of the flavours that I did try were cinnamon doughnut, raspberry & beetroot, redskin, strawberry bubblegum, peach ice tea, pandan and green apple pie. 

Good food, good times!

Rockpool bar and grill @ Hunter St, Sydney

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This post is a bit late but yay! no more exams and with that, there is nothing better than wanting to experience some exceptional fine dining. A friend of mine really wanted to try Rockpool Bar & Grill by Neil Perry as he heard a lot of good feedback on the steaks and so with that he made a reservation for a few friends to come along and join in for a treat.


I had no real expectations of Rockpool, as expectations always lead to disappointment. The only expectation I had was to be amazed and that is what happened. I was absolutely amazed. When you walk from the foyer into Rockpool, there is a whole new demeanour, going from ordinary boring brown foyer to a low lit high class restaurant with a tinge of purple lighting. The marble pillars and high roof of the restaurant is mesmerising which resulted me in being constantly distracted but it.


Now to the main purpose of this blog, the food! =9

Warm salad of wood fire grilled quail with smoked tomato and black olives
The quail was cooked really well, but I believe the best part of this salad was the smoked tomato, it had a unique taste which just exploded in your mouth.

Butter lettuce, avocado, tomato and jalapeno chilli salad
It was a simple salad with a buttery texture, unfortunately I couldn't quite taste the jalapeno chilli.

Cured Ocean Trout with Ratatouille and tomato vinagrette
A delectable mix of saltiness from the trout and sweetness of the ratatouille. It was very nice and light entree, and set a great impression for all the food of the night.


Roasted pork belly and pork loin with crackling and candied fruits
Even though Rockpool is famous for there steaks I chose the special of the day which was the roast pork and that ended up being a great choice. The pork was nothing that I can properly describe but was definitely close to heaven in my mouth. The crackling was very different to normal crackling, it was softer yet still as crispy. Even though the pork was awesome, the candied fruits was probably one of the worst things I/we had ever tried. I expected something a bit sweet to go with the pork, yet it was really strange. A mixture of spiciness and bitterness.


Full blood wagyu 220g
This was the most expensive steak on the menu costing $115, and it was quite amazing. It was cooked to medium - medium rare and was seasoned well. It required minimal amount of chewing resulting in a melting sensation. This was the reason my friend wanted to go to Rockpool.


Scotch fillet 220g
Same seasoning as the wagyu, however due to the different cut different taste. It was chewier which is expected but still a great steak.


Hand cut fat chips


Kipfler potatoes sauteed with wagyu fat and rosemary
Both the sides we chose were potato based and were beautiful. They both were crunchy on the outside and fluffy in the inside. The Kipfler potatoes had a wonderfully infused taste due to the wagyu fat and rosemary. The salt on both potatoes made them great with our mains.
Mango sorbet with yoghurt cream brandy snaps
This was my friends dessert and he loved it. But for me it was average, only because I don't like yoghurt, but the mango sorbet was delicious!


Warm rubarb, strawberry and almond pudding with vanilla sauce
This was my other friends dessert, and this was nice aswell. It was quite a cold night when we went to Rockpool so this dessert fit the occasion. This was my first time trying rubarb and it was a delightful suprise of a sweet sensation. The vanilla sauce reminded me of a warm custard.
The Ciampini - Chestnut meringue and ice cream sandwich


Best dessert of the night. When I saw the name of the menu, and saw what came out I was confused since I didn't see the ice cream. Then, as I started making my way through the dessert I was pleasantly suprised. It was literally spoonfuls of goodness!



The overall experience at Rockpool Bar and Grill was great, especially with there exceptional service and great food (despite the candied fruits). A great place for a fine dining experience, and considering there house rules you won't be disturbed whilst eating.


Good food, Good times!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Dinner Party

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One week of holidays had passed and I had the urge to cook and bake. And with that thought, I invited a group of friends over to enjoy some nice home cooked food, especially for a rainy day, when we were supposed to play oz tag. I had the help of a few friends to make this dinner a success, with both the making and eating.


After a few hours of thinking, I finally decided on a dinner menu composed of:
> Feta and eggplant meatballs with tzatziki (recipe by Donna Hay)
Jools Pregnant Pasta
> Salad
> Apple and strawberry crumble cake



Feta and eggplant meatballs with tzatziki (Makes roughly 36)
400g eggplant (aubergine), finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
500g mince beef
1/3 cup chopped parsley leaves (flat-leaf parsley can also be used)
1/3 cup chopped mint leaves
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
200g of crumbed feta 
sea salt and cracked black pepper
lemon wedges to serve

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Place the chopped eggplant on a baking tray and drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Roast for 30 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Pre-cooked egg plant

2. Place the eggplant, mince, parsley, mint, garlic, lemon zest, feta, salt & pepper in a bowl and mix until well combined.



3.
Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls.


4. Place oil in a large non stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook for 3-4 minutes of until browned.


5. Place meatballs on a baking tray, and place in oven and cook for another 5-6 minutes or until cooked through.

6. Serve with tzatziki and lemon wedges.

Finished product
**NOTES**
+ The meatballs can be made in advance and refrigerated until it is ready to be cooked and served
+ Once cooked, I find that the meatballs can be eaten hot or even somewhat cold with the taste still being great.

Tzatziki (Makes 2 1/4 cups)
2 cups (560g) thick Greek-style yoghurt
1 Lebanese cucumber, seeds removed and grated
2 tablespoons of chopping mint leaves
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
sea salt and cracked pepper
lemon

Method:
1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. 
2. Refrigerate until ready to be served.
3. Squeeze a wedge of lemon before serving to give it an extra kick.

**NOTES**
+ I strained the yoghurt through a thin cloth to remove some of the excess liquid.
+ I removed the seeds from the cucumber to further reduce the amount of liquid that may be present.

Apple and Strawberry Crumble Cake200g butter, at room temperature
  • 155g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 150g (1 cup) self-raising flour
  • 150g (1 cup) plain flour
  • 185ml (3/4 cup) milk
  • 1 Granny Smith apple (green one), peeled, cored, thickly sliced
  • 200g strawberries, washed, hulled, halved

  • Crumble topping
  • 75g (1/2 cup) plain flour
  • 50g chilled butter, chopped
  • 55g (1/4 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar

Method:

1. Lightly grease a round 20cm springform pan with non-stick spray (or melted butter) and line the base with non stick baking paper.
2. Preheat oven to 180C.
3. Use an electric beater to beat the butter, sugar and vanilla in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Shift in flour into the butter mixture.
5. Using a spatula fold in flour and milk until well combined.
6. Spoon into the prepared pan. Use the back of the spoon to smooth the surface. Arrange the apple and strawberry on top.


7. 
To make the crumble:

Place the flour and butter in a bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
8. Sprinkle the crumble topping over the apple and strawberry.


9. Bake in oven for 1 hour 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
10. Set aside in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to slightly cool. Serve cake warm or at room temperature.


**NOTES**
+ You can bake the cake in advance and heat up each slice before serving for a few seconds.

+ Serving the cake with ice-cream, custard or cream can add a little more of a sweet touch.
+ Recipe from taste.com.au

This whole entire meal fed 10 people with great feedback on how good the meal was. It was a meal for the masses, without the expensive cost. Thanks to all those who came and ate, and to those that helped make it a success.

Good food, good times!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Chicken Paella

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Due to the exams I haven't been updating my blog as much as I could have, but don't worry I have been eating =). So after a full day of studying I thought I deserved a break, and with that my sister and I made dinner.

We wanted something warm, cosy and easy to make and to that she found a recipe for Chicken Paella. Paella is a traditional Spanish dish which is a great comfort food, and everything is cooked and served in one big pan, which means less cleaning up! =D



Ingredients
  • Olive oil
  • 200g chorizo sausages, sliced
  • 1 large brown onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1.4kg chicken pieces, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 400g can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Method:
1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a paella pan or a large, deep frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chorizo and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel.




2. Add remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, onion and garlic to pan. Cook for 2 minutes or until soft.



3. Add chicken. Cook, turning often, for 5 to 6 minutes or until golden.



4. Add wine and 1/2 cup stock. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, turning occasionally, over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until almost all liquid has evaporated.



5. Add rice, tomatoes, paprika and 1 1/2 cups stock. Return to simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally to prevent mixture from catching on bottom of pan, for 15 minutes or until almost all liquid is absorbed.





6. Add peas, chorizo and remaining 1/2 cup stock. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 8 minutes or until stock is just absorbed.




7. Season with salt and pepper. Serve paella at the table from the pan. You can further add a drizzle of lemon.



This is the first time we made this dish and it turned out great. Everyone loved it, and was very fulfilling. Perfect on cold nights.


Good food, good times!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

SuperDish @ Cabramatta

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Cabramatta, also known as Sydney's little Asia is a great place to get some of the best Asian cuisines. A few months ago we took relatives from America to Cabramatta and they loved it, with all the variety of food available and some of the exotic fruits that they couldn't get back home.

SuperDish is a relatively new restaurant to hit the grounds of Cabramatta, from the makers of the famous SuperBowl in China Town. It is a great place to eat for everyone and there will be something on the menu to satisfy your taste buds. 

Fried handmade noodles Shanghainese style in XO chilli sauce $12.50

Preserved egg and lean pork congee $8.50

Salt and Pepper squid 

Raw egg with minced beef congee $8.50

Half roasted duck

Mini Banquet

I have yet to be disappointed in SuperDish, it is a great place to eat, especially when you are in need of warm food. All the different types of congee are a definite crowd pleaser, and the side of fresh hot & crunchy dough sticks make it delectable (keep in mind you may need to ask for the dough sticks). The food is traditional Chinese, and not westernised. 

This meal fed 4 people, to which we had enough for a takeaway meal for one extra person. The end bill ended up being roughly $15-20 per person, with each person being completely satisfied.

Good food, good times!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Cheeky Chocolate @ North Strathfield

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The semester has ended, and now to study for exams. But to celebrate the end of the semester we decided that we needed somewhere to go for a good dessert, and because I am considered the foodie I was to decide where to go, and I am constantly looking for new places that aren't as far as the city.




I came across Cheeky Chocolate when someone on my Facebook checked in, and then I found a cafe review of Cheeky Chocolate on SMH. After reading the review, I knew I had to go and we were all impressed and I agree with everything in the review. The fact that the menu is inspired by Adriano Zumbo, it was an opportunity I could not refuse.

As soon as I walked in I fell in love with the decor, I felt that I was invited into a Victorian era home where there was a large banquet table and chandeliers hung above and just ahead there was a lovely old fashion French styled cupboard. As I turned my head on either side there are Victorian lounges and chairs, and against a wall there is a painting of a moulin-rouge styled woman with velvet curtains. I felt that I are going to be pampered with wonderful delights and that is definitely what I got in return.




As I continued to look around I noticed a glass cabinet near the counted filled with more desserts. It took us a while to figure out what we wanted as all the desserts on the menu sounded mouth watering and the titles of the desserts get you aroused. And to that, we ordered at least one of everything on the menu, considering there was so many of us. Each of the main desserts costed $18.00.

Twilight $25.00
The Twilight cocktail was one of the specials for the night and serves 2 people. The waitress said something along the lines of 'Edward and Bella's love potion', but for all those non-twlight fans don't let the title of the drink fool you. It tasted great and the alcohol could not be tasted at all. It was smooth and sweet, and went well with all the desserts.

Read my lips or kiss my cheeks
A Cheeky Chocolate sundae composed of banana gelato with honeycomb creme chantilly, peanut caramel,  and raspberry gel topped with Cheeky Chocolate sauce. It was exquisite, especially with the banana gelato infusing with the raspberry gel and whilst eating you get the little suprise of the peanut caramel crunch.

Its bombtastic totally fantastic
Assorted textures of chocolate and orange encased in a chocolate sphere. This was interesting, the waitress poured a white/cream coloured milk/sauce on top of the ball (not quite sure what it was, might have been a light milk or buttermilk or cream) which resulted in a slight crack of the ball and fusion of all the flavours. The orange, mixed with the chocolate and mysterious liquid worked really well, creating a well balanced flavour.

Roll the dice is it naughty or nice
This was was definitely my favourite, and a MUST get dessert! It was a chocolate creme brulee, cinnamon ice cream and cherry gel with pistachio sesame crumble. It looks like a main meal of two different textured pate with a glaze, but looks can be deceiving right? It was smooth, delicate, and had the soothing sound when the sugar was cracked. The pistachio crumb just topped it off with its sweet and nutty taste.

This is how we roll
Ice cream filled profiteroles with Cheeky Chocolate Sauce. It was my least favourite dessert, but that doesn't mean it wasn't good. The profiterole pastry was different to normal profiteroles which was what I didn't really like, its definitely up to ones taste buds. However, the ice cream was a lip-licking good.

Whats cooking good looking
Chocolate sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce. This dessert in a nutshell =  Gooey-gooey goodness. As soon as you grab a spoonful, an entire string of butterscotch sauce follows, just like honey. I liked how the sauce was butterscotch and not caramel, which resulted in a more subtle and not as sweet flavour.


Carpet matches the drapes
Chocolate crepes with lemon, sugar & maple syrup ice cream. Another one of my favourites desserts of the night. Everything just worked well together, with every bite you get the richness of the chocolate, with a slight crunch of the encasing and the essence of a lemon tangyness. I would say this is also a must try, especially if you love fruit with chocolate.


Will you pash or dash
Chocolate fondant with passion fruit centre, toasted white chocolate and orange soaked pineapple. Again with my love of passion fruit with chocolate, and this is one to add to the  list. It was dressed with a light coconut cream/milk which was frothy in texture. The fondant was made fresh (this is how they should be made!) which means it had a nice soft-gooey centre with the passion fruit. The pineapple was refreshing, and with the chocolate and ice cream in one spoonful, it was an absolute treat!




The lovely uni group (with a few people missing)

And of course I could not leave without taking some treats home. I decided to buy some macarons and a chocolate, raspberry & meringue tart.

Chocolate, raspberry & meringue tart ($9): The taste reminded me of a similar tart that can be bought from Bourke St Bakery, but I think I prefer this one. The reasoning being that there is less chocolate, which results in a less overpowering taste. The chocolate was rich, which was counter balanced by the raspberry, and the meringue added a lightness to all the flavours. All the different levels of sweetness worked really well, and did not get sickening. 

The texture of the macarons were perfect, with the perfect line between a the bite and the chew, priced at $3.00 each.
Banana, caramel & passion fruit macaron: It is weird sounding, and had a unique flavour. I couldn't quite pin point all the individual flavours, but the passion fruit did stand out. 
Chocolate & raspberry macaron: It had the same taste as the tart but in a smaller form. I don't think you can fail a great tasting dessert with any berry mixed with chocolate.
Chocolae & orange macaron: This was my favourite of the 3 macarons for the reason being that it had a choc-orange taste, exactly like a jaffa!


Cross-section of the tart

There is no doubt that I would go to Cheeky Chocolate again. It had a great atmosphere, vibe, ambiance, service and AWESOMELY DELICIOUS desserts! We were not at any point of the night disappointed. It is a great place to go whenever you are in need of a sugar hit, or place to sit and hang out with a close group of friends. All the staff were charismatic, and our waiter definitely made the night that extra special.

Cheeky Chocolate do take bookings/reservations but generally not on weekends because it can get busy, fortunately for our big group of 9, I called a few hours before hand to give them a heads up, and the owner Jennifer Dib said to call again close to arrival so she could have a spot for us. It was a great overall experience and I hope all the uni people had a wonderful time!


Good food, good times!