Sunday, 27 May 2012

La Belle Miette Macarons, Melbourne


Just a quick post, a friend of mine recently went to Melbourne, and brought me back some macarons from the infamous La Belle Miette (30 Hardware Lane). This is the 2nd time I have tried these macarons, and I believe they are the best yet. The Melbourne store is located in one of the lane ways amongst the city centre. I love the way the macarons are boxed, and with my favourite colour being blue they chose the pale blue box which reminded me of Tiffany and co. 

Flavours (from left to right):
**Violet & blueberry: In the centre there was a blueberry jelly and subtle violet taste. This was my favourite of all the 12.
**Mango & coconut: A lovely combination of the 2 flavours, I thought the coconut may be too sweet but it came through perfectly with the mango.
Lavender: Reminded me of a Spring day, I normally don't like lavender, but I think it is slowly growing on me.

Cherry blossom & sake: Flowers + alcohol = a bit weird. Still good either way.
Pimm's & pomegranate: I am not sure what pimm's is supposed to taste like, but there was a distinct pomegranate taste.

**Bastille: This was a champagne flavoured ganache, with a blackcurrant centre. This was another one of my favourites.
72% Cocoa Single Origin Chocolate (Venezuela): A typical chocolate macaron, nothing too special.
Hazelnut: At first I thought it had a peanut butter taste, but after a few bites I had finally realised it was hazelnut. Best hazelnut macaron I have ever tried.
**Earl Grey & chocolate: Adriano Zumbo has created a similar one before, but in comparison this was more tasty, as the earl grey flavour was a lot stronger. 
**Salted caramel: Salted caramel is a hard flavour to create, as usually one or the other is overpowering. But in this case, it was a perfect middle point. Best salted caramel I have ever tried.
Raspberry: A strong raspberry taste, which resulted in my tongue turning super red. Redskin confectionery red.
Raspberry & chocolate: A great balance between the slightly sour raspberry and chocolate.
**my favourites.

Thanks again for the macarons! =D

Good food, good times!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Jordan Shoe Cake


1 Goal + 2 days + 3 people + 13 hours = 1 Jordan shoe cake and sneaker cupcake toppers

My sisters boyfriend had a Sneaker Spectacular, for his 25th Birthday. As a part of the celebration, he wanted a Space Jam Jordan Shoe Cake, and since that is what he asked for, that is what we delivered. Combination of skills from my sister, my self and my sister-in-law, we delivered one awesome cake. Going further with the theme, little sneakers were made as cupcake toppers.

This was my first time working with candy melts, and I now have a better understanding on the time taken and precision to detail when you see some really great cakes that use fondant or candy melts. Since we were working with black candy melts (which is heavy on the chocolate compared to other colours), mixed with cold weather, it started to become extremely hard to work with. In the end, with great patience and drive to make the cake and cupcake toppers a success it all worked well.

The recipe for the cake was Thunder Cake which was doubled and baked in a large rectangluar dish.

Good food, good times!

Monday, 21 May 2012

New Shanghai @ Ashfield


New Shanghai is one of the many restaurants along  Liverpool Road that provide Shanghai style cuisines. All with there twist to the word Shanghai, including 'Shanghai night', 'Shanghai food house', 'Taste of Shanghai' and the list goes on (similar to how there seems to be a lot of twists on the term 'Thai').

Stir fried hand-made noodles with pork and vegetables
This is one of my favourite Chinese styled noodle dishes, similar to SuperDish in Cabramatta. The main difference was that noodles at New Shanghai were thicker,which I didn't mind at all. It was a great starter, especially since I had a massive craving for it.

Beef noodle soup
My sister wanted this dish, and despite the colour of the soup, I found that it was rather bland. My sister agreed and said 'it is usually made better'. Despite the down part, I did like the size of the noodles, not to thin and not the thick. The beef was also very tender.

Steamed pork dumplings
Most people who love dumplings that look like the above image would know the name of ' Xiao long bao'. These dumplings were absolutely delicious. In each little bundle of joy, there is a warm soup that bursts in your mouth and provides a whole new level of flavour. People often compare dumplings of New Shanghai with Din Tai Fung. I like New Shanghai's dumplings more, for 3 reasons; they are bigger, cheaper, and tastier. I find that the Ding Tai Fung dumplings stick to the paper, as at New Shanghai they don't. This dish alone is one of the popular dishes, and will get you going back there for more.

Fried pork dumplings

Fried dumplings are just as good as steamed. In most cases the fried dumplings have no hidden surprises, but this case was different, where even the fried dumplings contained the wonderful soup. In this case I preferred the steam over the fried, but it really depends on the dumpling to which one tastes better.

Overall, the dining experience at New Shanghai was wonderful. It is a fast service restaurant, so don't take too long to order, and it is not a place where you loiter for another 30 minutes after your meal is finished. We got there early, so the wait wasn't long but a line started to form a bit after we left (around 7.30pm). New Shanghai is cheap, compared to other dumpling places, where in this case the whole meal cost $32 for 2 people. This will most likely be my new dumpling hub. 

Good food, good times!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

La Badiane @ Ha Noi, Vietnam


My last of my Vietnam Culinary Adventures was at La Badiane. La Badiane is a French restaurant located in a small street in the Hoan Kiem District. It was created in 2008 by 3 French friends, and it is now slowly becoming the top rated restaurants in Ha Noi. One of the creators was there, and hearing him speak Vietnamese, and then French amazed me and made me more excited to eat. The restaurant decor it a mix of garden cafe meets beach, due go the colour of the restaurant, plants, chairs and the displayed photographs of water and beaches.

Duck French rillettes
A rillette is a preparation of meat similar to pate, the difference being that pate is more of a paste and rillette has more of a solid consistency. The reason for the textural difference is that the meat for a rillette is cubed as a pate is minced. When the opportunity to eat duck at a French restaurant arises I go straight for it. This entree was a great start to the meal for me, the crunch of the bread was unbelievable. On the top, and between the bread there was a lovely subtle spread. All went so well together.

Potato Salad
This was definitely not what you expect a potato salad to look like. The potato was combined with peas, fresh herbs and topped with a small salad. There was an ample amount of a mustard flavour which is usually not evident in a potato salad. Texture wise though, it was still creamy with the potatoes having the correct consistency.

Crab meat spring rolls
This entree reminded me slightly of a seafood sushi roll, without the seaweed. Instead, the outside was composed of rice paper rolls, like those used to make pho cuon or banh cuon. It was accompanied with a seafood type sauce.

Beef Carpaccio in citrus dressing
This dish was constantly reviewed on TripAdvisor, with some saying it was good, and others saying it was bad. I took the risk, tried it and judged for myself. The main risk associated with this dish is the concept of raw beef slices (especially when you are in a foreign country). The acidity in the dressing, and grapefruit placed on top kill a lot of bacteria, which therefore makes the dish safe to eat. There was a balance of citrus, salt and sweetness (from the Vietnam limes/oranges). The croutons added the crunch to the dish. My overall judgement on the dish is tasty and I did not have any repercussions. 

Beetroot Carpaccio with asparagus
A vegetarian option on the menu where the beetroot was finely sliced served with an array of vegetables. The asparagus was not overcook and had still obtained its crunch. The  cheese that came with the dish was nice and soft, and didn't over power the overall taste of the dish. 

Duck "Parmentier" in Arabic Spices
In summary, this dish was a Shepard's pie, but instead of beef (which is what is generally used) it was duck. The sauce was a light gravy which wasn't too over powering or heavy. The potato was soft and creamy, which coincided with the delicate duck meat that melted in your mouth. 

Thickly sliced brioche that was coated in a light sugar syrup topped with icing sugar. The plate was dressed with a little bit of honey, and a strawberry sauce. This was a nice dessert, but would be an even better breakfast. 

Yoghurt mousse with crispy rice and passion fruit sauce
The concept of yoghurt is slowly growing on me. The dessert was okay, but not something I could eat a lot of. The passionfruit with the crispy rice was different, but nice (most likely due to the fact I enjoy anything with passionfruit).

Stewed apples in cinnamon with caramelised hazelnuts
This dessert was definitely too weird for me. I tried a spoonful, and it just reminded me of baby food. I have realised, I don't think I like the concept of using apples in desserts, unless it is cake. 

Creme Brulee done 3 ways (left to right): Vanilla & Pistachio, Chocolate & Peppercorn 
and Raspberry & Thyme

Reading this dish on the menu was an opportunity I could not turn down. All the creme brulees had the wonderful crack of burnt sugar and a smooth custard. The combination of different flavours was very intriguing. The vanilla and pistachio went extremely well together. The chocolate and peppercorn was strange, where the chocolate was fine, but once mixed with a bite of the peppercorn, the concept turned weird. I think if it was topped with a bit of chilli, it may have worked a lot better. Lastly, the raspberry and thyme was my favourite of the 3. A different mix that worked, providing a strangely nice fusion of flavours.

The overall dining experience equated to roughly USD $20pp, including drinks. Fine dining in Vietnam is extremely cheap compared to Australia, so if you ever get the opportunity, just go for it! 

Good food, good times!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Chocolate Buffet @ Sofitel Hotel, Ha Noi, Vietnam


This was one of my best and favourite of my Vietnam culinary adventures. It was a CHOCOLATE BUFFET! Vietnam doesn't have a great variety of chocolate, or any good tasting chocolate for that matter so this was close to being heaven on Earth, especially after not having a decent chocolate hit for about 2 weeks. It cost USD$25, which included a 2 hour chocolate/high tea buffet and a pot of tea of your choice. I didn't take photos of the high tea buffet, but they had provided an assortment of freshly cut fruit, sandwiches, fruit smoothies and other cakes. There really isn't much to say about the experience as the photos say it all. *licks lips* =9

Chocolate fountain with assorted fruits, marshmallows and biscuits

Assorted chocolates 

Create your own crepe station, with choice of chocolate fillings

Chocolate brulee

Stuffed Macarons

Ice-cream tubs

Various cakes

Plate one

Plate two

Plate three

Plate Four

Tea with biscuit

Good food, Good times!