Popping my Cafe Ish cherry

As the title suggests, I was a Cafe Ish (Campbell St, Surry Hills) virgin until last weekend when I finally made my first visit there for brunch as part of Crave SIFF.

It was a cold and dreary day so it was nice to head inside the bustling cafe, seated (right under the kitchen window). After checking out the menu, we decided that one I would get the SIFF brunch offering and mum would opt for something else on the menu – a decision we were super glad about because mum chose a dish which only featured on the menu since the Friday before (the waitress informed us that they change their menu seasonally every 2mths or so). The Crave SIFF brunch offering I had included a Breakfast Trifle, Crab Omelette and Wattle Maccacino for $25.

 
Our Wattle Maccacino came out decorated with a fern almost too pretty to ruin and a little piece of shortbread. The waitress informed us to taste first, before adding sugar as it’s sweeter than usual and more like a mocha and she was right because I didn’t need any sugar. The coffee was velvety smooth and the nutty sweetness was brought out of a blend of wattles and macadamia, pure bliss on such a gloomy day. My Breakfast Trifle of lush yoghurt, native berry compote and toasted house made muesli was just as delicious and comforting. The yoghurt was creamy and balanced well with the irresistible berry compote and the muesli was chewy just the way I like it and full of flavour. There was also a flower like bud which I had never seen before, a Rosella fruit, in the mix of the Breakfast Trifle which I absolutely loved for it’s unexpected crunchy texture. But the absolute highlight of brunch was my soft shell Crab Omelette with avocados, shallots and a ginger dressing. It was a massive portion with ripe chunky pieces of avocado and crispy soft shell crab so.freakin.tasty. I also found the side of watercrest a really nice touch. Best of all it wasn’t drenched in oil and I especially loved the ginger and lime dressing it came drizzled under. Mum’s two pieces of thick brioche resting atop assorted berries was refreshing and made her feel very healthy with all the berries and passionfruit. Hidden underneath the brioche also laid a dollop of lemon myrtle ricotta which was very different for our japanese tastebuds, but was surprisignly really tasty when slathered on the brioche. There was also a Rosella fruit hidden amongst the berries – I love this, it reminds me of eating an apple, a really pretty one.

 
 
Cafe Ish Signature Coffee Wattle Maccacino

 
Toasted brioche with lemon myrtle ricotta, sake scented Rosella, raspberries and passionfruit

 
Breakfast trifle of “lush yoghurt”, native berry compote, toasted house made muesli

 
Kara-age soft shell crab omelette with garlic, chilli, soy, ginger dressing, avocado, shallots and lime
 


Brunch at Cafe Ish was definately a great way to start the day, but I really do have to rave about the service, (especially after our not so great service experienced at other restaurants). The waitresses were all very friendly and focused; glasses of water were promptly brought out and when we were keen to peruse the dinner menu, the waitresses kindly brought them out for us and were very helpful in explaining different dishes on the menu. Oh and they even gave me a business card with their new address, new number and opening hrs, which I’ll probably need because I spotted FRIED MOCHI AND UME on the dinner menu oh my god, my favourite things! One more thing – remember your manners and make sure to ask the very friendly staff before you take pictures!

Cafe Ish on Urbanspoon

High Tea at The Westin Sydney

It was raining cats and dogs outside, but myself and 8 other girls were a world away, lounging in the relaxed atmosphere of The Westin Sydney (No 1. Martin Place) enjoying the Marie Antoinette high tea. We all opted for the offering of high tea, unlimited tea or coffee and a glass of sparkling rose for $45 (weekend price) part of Crave SIFF, which was a bargain considering the sparkling rose option is usually $51. The sparkling rose we were given was Brown Brothers Zibibbo Rosa – a really pretty pink colour with a fruity aroma and we were given a selection of JING teas to choose from – I chose the Lychee black tea which unfortunately didn’t have much lychee or fruity taste for that matter and also a pot of Dragon Well which was a refreshing green tea.

After getting settled in and waiting for the late-comers, 3 two-tiered high teas were delivered to us, one plate of savoury and a plate of sweets. Usually I start off with the scones at high tea but since there were none here, I went for the savoury, which I might add had no salmon and dill sandwiches yay!. I grabbed the blt and deviled egg finger sandwich because it was heart-shaped and oh-so-cute. I couldn’t discern whether it was some sort of choux or a piece of toast? but it was very tasty though I don’t think mine had any bacon in it 😦 The avocado and shrimp tartar [not pictured] was my least favourite of the foods that day because the choux puff was immensely dry and was hard to eat by itself after I had already eaten the filling. My favourite "savoury" item would be the kiwi and orange croissant with mascarpone which seemed like a strange combination at first but was really refreshing and had well balanced flavours after eating it.  The slow cooked roast beef with creme cheese stuffed baby belle peppers was also very good, the roast beef was tender and I especially loved the tangy belle pepper encased in the middle.

 
We had finished the savoury plate but where was my scones…? It wouldn’t be a high tea without scones. We were well into eating the desserts when a plate of freshly baked, still warm scones with double cream and strawberry jam came covered in a napkin. Eagerly we unwrapped the plate and found petite scones as opposed to the rather dense and large scones that I’ve become accustomed to seeing. None the less I slather each scone with jam and double cream – delicious little morsels but was rather like a buttermilk cake texture. There were also scones with sultanas but I honestly cant remember if I ate it or not…so no comment.

After a break, we continued on and tackled the sweet plate. The chocolate cream with exotic fruit caramel and candied walnuts [not pictured] was my first pick, the exotic fruit caramel tasted like passionfruit and I don’t think mine had any walnuts in it either. It was really creamy and a little too sweet for my liking. The surprise came from beetroot and cherry cupcake which though did not have the dominating flavours of beetroot or cherry it was a pretty red hue and sweet to eat. The impressive Marie Antoinette fondant sitting atop the lime curd meringue tart was too pretty for me to eat, but I loved the tangy lime curd and the thick buttery tart – this was a huge serving. And of course, a Marie Antoinette themed high tea would not be complete without a macaron, I believe most of us saved this till last – the piece de resistance macaron with fresh blueberries. It was an alarming vibrant blue and extravagant with fresh blueberries offsetting a very thick chocolate ganache center.

Though the service was slow at times, our waitress was lovely, very accommodating and advised us kindly on what each type of tea was and never rushed us. We stayed well into the evening (until 6:30) lazing away the saturday afternoon over sweets, tea and a healthy dash of gossip all whilst growing our food babies.

 
Marie Antoinette’s High Tea The Westin Sydney

  

"there is nothing new except what has been forgotten"
 
 
blt and deviled egg finger sandwich

 
slow cooked roast beef with creme cheese stuffed baby belle peppers

 
kiwi and orange croissant with mascarpone

   
JING tea

 
scones with double cream and strawberry jam

"let them eat cake!"

 
beetroot and cherry cupcake

 
lime curd meringue tart


the piece de resistance
macaron with fresh blueberries

The Lobby Bar & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Baroque Bar Bistro Patisserie

The long weekend passed we headed up to Port Stephens to celebrate Angie’s birthday, but before that we also celebrated her birth date dinner at Baroque Bistro Bar Patisserie (88 George St, The Rocks). The restaurant is located inside a heritage building along Hickson road so you get a great view of the Harbour Bridge. The space is amazing with high ceilings, an open kitchen with an industrial feel with its concrete floors and visible piping but also somewhat rustic where bouquets of flowers were placed.

Lucky in securing a last minute booking, 4 of us were on time and seated, perusing the menu while waiting for the birthday girl. While waiting for the rest of the party we did endure some dirty looks from the waiter…and ordered shortly after the arrival of the rest of the party. We ordered entrees to share between couples and 5 mains since the birthday girl was not hungry from scoffing down a bag of chips prior. Having noticed this, the waiter abruptly and rather rudely told us there were only 5 mains when we were a party of 6 and continued to roll his eyes when we told him one main would be shared between two. He then took our menus, plonked them at reception and brought us a complimentary bowl of baguette slices with olive oil for dipping – in which there were only 5 slices of baguette which was kind of like a rude slap in the face for me when clearly there was 6 of us. However, as soon as the bowl was empty an attentive waitress refilled it with 7 pieces of bread this time. If it was a genuine mistake fine, but is rather unprofessional if it wasn’t – this really irked the bf.

My entree which I shared with the boy, Ballotine of spatchcok and puy lentilswas lovely with the berry? sauce and I especially loved the lentils, while the others had an entree of Ocean Trout where the plating was so so pretty. It was hard for me to decide my main as I wanted to try the more traditional Plats du Jour of Truite grenobloise but opted for the scallops and foie gras main. Glad about my decision because the foie gras was the best I’ve yet had and the scallops were huge and juicy. Bill of course chose the bavette steak which was cooked a little less than medium rare but came atop a mountain of fries.We also ordered sides of Creamy Paris Mash $9 [not pictured] which was deliciously smooth and Green Beans garlic butter $9 [not pictured] which were vibrant and crisp. I was most looking forward to the desserts because I LOVE La Rennaissance patisserie and desserts definitely did not disappoint. Helen had Vanilla crème brulée, pistachio ice cream $16 [not pictured], I remember the pistachio ice cream was delicious and I had the blood orange souffle which was light and fluffy as a cloud, a divine chocolate sorbet and I especially loved the rich blood orange chocolate cigar.
Though the display cakes and macarons look amazing, honestly I have no desire to dine here again – I can always get beautiful cakes and pastries at La Renaissance anyway right? or am I right? It’s a shame the brunch menu is so tempting and the location is really rather nice, but the fact that the service is terrible really puts me off. I don’t think I’ve had service this bad in a very very long time it wasn’t welcoming, he was arrogant, unfriendly and unprofessional. Basically he did not smile the whole night and did not want to serve us – actually he did smile once and chuckled when we only ordered two desserts since everyone else was full but we just thought he was being nicer as it was coming close to bill time aka tip time. The service was dismal and you wouldn’t expect it anywhere and it really ruined the night for me, though the food did not disappoint and desserts were definitely worth the wait.

 


Baroque Bistro Bar Patisserie


oOoo pretty


Entree of Ocean Trout
[fail I don’t have the name of this dish and didn’t take a photo of my entree Ballottine of spatchcock, puy lentils, burnt onion cassonade ]


Confit shoulder of Bangalow sweet pork, harissa, green peas à la française $29


Confit duck leg, grilled leeks, cucumber, bigarade sauce $29


Scallops, foie gras cream, paris mushrooms, Jerusalem artichoke,
ecshallot gastrique, crisp bread $32


Steak, eschallot jus, frites $29


Blood orange soufflé, Valrhona chocolate sorbet $16


AWESOMENESS

Baroque | Bistro Bar Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Sugar Hit x 2

October is always so much fun when the Sydney International Food Festival rolls into town because you’re so spoilt for choice when it comes to food. Unfortunately because I don’t work in the city I can’t really enjoy Let’s Do Lunch so I take full advantage of Sugar Hits on offer.

The first Sugar Hit I went to was just after the long weekend passed, having gone away for the weekend I though it would be nice to catch up with mum over an indulgent sugar hit. I decided to book Azuma Kushiyaki Bar & Grill (501 George St Regent Place)  rembering last year of its popularity, so much that they were booked out of Sugar Hit for the whole month of October, extending it into November. Azuma were once again offering an East meets West dessert plate, which I was really looking forward to as last year they served mochi – one of my favourite Japanese foods.

The East meets West dessert tasting plate was again served in the small bento boxes with a choice of Brown Brothers Orange Musct and Flora wine, Hennessy XO or Japanese green tea. Being the responsible desginated driver I opted for the green tea which was lovely and very refreshing after so many sweets, while mum chose the dessert wine. The box I tackled first included a Vanilla Panna Cotta with Strawberry Coulis and a Belgian Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberry Coulis centre and freeze dried Raspberry Flakes. The panna cotta was disappointing for me as it didn’t have that jelly wobbly texture but was more a creamy, thick yoghurt texture. Poor mum, she loves panna cotta so saved it till last but was sorely disappointed too. On the other hand the chocolate mousse cake was fluffy with the raspberries balancing out the sweetness of the Belgian chocolate. After polishing those off easily I moved onto the other box starting with the Petit Almond Financier. The second box also contained a Green Tea Ganache Tart, Wasabi Ganache Tart and a macaron. The Green Tea Ganache and Wasabi Ganache tart were both encased in a beautiful buttery tart. The Green Tea Ganache Tart was full of green tea flavour which is sometimes lacking in green tea flavoured desserts. My favourite dessert of the night was the Wasabi Ganache Tart which the waitress warned us would be a ‘little bit spicy’, but I didn’t believe her until I was hit by this intense zing of wasabi followed by a mellowing rich chocolate ganache – it was delicious!!! I wish they would add this to their Azuma Patisserie Cafe menu. The last dessert was the super-Japanese-squeal-inducing macaron with a cute face. The macaron flavours changed depending on the day, I had a lemon macaron while mum had an orange macaron.I really enjoyed the Sugar Hit from Azuma and I would probably go back again just for the Wasabi Ganache Tart – it was that good.

 
Vanilla Panna Cotta with Strawberry Coulis, Belgian Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberry Coulis centre and freeze dried Raspberry Flakes and mum’s Orange Macaron


Green Tea Ganache Tart, Lemon Macaron, Wasabi Ganache Tart and Petit Almond Financier

 
The following night, looking for a place to try and also scoping out potential restaurants for our upcoming anniversary dinner, Bill and I ended up at the Ocean Room (Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay) for my second Sugar Hit. As soon as I walked into the restaurant I was in awe of the huge space, high high ceilings, pretty view and the huge chandelier above the bar. Not in the mood for wine, I asked if the wine could be substituted for a coffee but was turned down, so I ordered a latte (I was a bit miffed about being charged $4.50 for a latte, but it was really good coffee!) and Bill had the Brown Brothers Orange Muscat & Flora. Their Sugar Hit was a Black Sesame Blancmange with Umeshu-marinated Forest Berries served on an interesting slanted plate. The blancmange was firm yet silky and had a sweet subtle black sesame flavour and was sitting in a pool of cream. It also came with a crumbly pastry sort of like a sable? The service was so-so (wham, bam thank you maam) as the waiter failed to tell us what our Sugar Hit consisted of, leading us to an intense guessing game and a quick check of the iPhone.

 
Black Sesame Blancmange with Umeshu-marinated Forest Berries
 
I guess I much preferred having a selection of desserts from Azuma or a dessert plate with different components rather than the un-described Sugar Hit from Ocean Room. I find it disappointing to see some restaurants this year offering Sugar Hit where you choose one of their desserts from their menu, I guess because I want to try a new creation or tasting plate it defeats the purpose for me, if I can have it anytime. I want to try a Sugar Hit from a hotel next! 🙂  

Azuma Kushiyaki on Urbanspoon

Sydney Food Blogger Mad Hatter Spring Picnic

So I can be terribly shy, but I worked up the courage and spent 5hours of my Saturday mingling and meeting great new people and making new friends, as well as taking loads of food photos and devouring various goodies, joining 40 or so food bloggers at a "Mad Hatter" themed Sydney Spring Picnic. It was held at Centennial Park on a gloomy looking Saturday, which may have been a blessing in disguise – if it was stinking hot my fresh cream would have melted…

It was a potluck picnic, so I had spent the night before making macarons for the 2nd time – this time I made raspberry, lemon and white chocolate macarons. The first batch I made failed and were overcooked and too crunchy… so I gave them to Helen and she loved them crunchy yay for no wastage. The batches after this were perfect but still lacking the pinkish colour I wanted, perhaps more food colouring next time. To make up for the lacklustre colour I decorated them each with a small edible rose petal. Macarons weren’t enough so I also made a chiffon cake using a blend of Earl Grey and Exotic Fruit tea (both from Taylors of Harrogate) and topped it off with fresh cream and a sprinkling of rose petals.

 
I had a freakin fantastic time on Saturday, all thanks to all the very friendly food bloggers. A big thank you to Karen from Citrus and Candy and Billy from A Table For Two (you can watch an awesome video of the hats at A Table For Two)
Also, my name tag kept falling off, so if you were there and I didn’t get around to saying hi – my name is Ayana and I was wearing Minnie Mouse ears 😀 It was nice to meet you all.

Of course being a food bloggers picnic, you’d expect the picnic spread to be amazzzing – and it was!! Everything was delicious!! Take a look for yourself as you drool over the next few photos…

 
My dish – Earl Grey tea Chiffon Cake and Lemon, White Chocolate Macarons

Sydney Food Bloggers Spring Picnic

 
AWESOME Chocolate and Salted Caramel cake by Anna from A Diary of a Ladybird

 
Mini Burgers and Shortbread Tartlets by Fat Belly Club

 
Mad Hatter cupcakes from YaYa’s Yum Yums

 
Kuih by Rosalind from Rasa Rosa

 
Cake Pops from Sugarlace

 
Broccoli Muffins from Eat Show Tell
How freakin cute is the lunch box!!!!

 
Thai Fish Cakes by Anita from No Red Meat
(Kitchen-Aid worthy!!!!!)-recipe at her blog

 
Pinataaaa
 

Thank you Bill for encouraging me to go because I had a blast 🙂