Quarter Twenty One Cookery School – Perfect Pork Crackling

A few weeks ago, I was looking for ideas for Bill’s Quarter of a Century birthday and I got a little sidetracked landing at Quarter Twenty One’s website. My eyes lit up at the sight of those three little words… "Perfect Pork Crackling", without a doubt Bill’s favourite foods are pork crackling, pork belly and a great piece of steak. And I knew this would be a nice little gesture to celebrate Bills birthday and had ourselves booked in for the express class.

Opposite Becasse Bakery is Quarter Twenty One (Level 5 Westfield Sydney) including the bistro restaurant and providore where I spy amazing produce, walls of wine and the pink salt that I usually take as souvenirs overseas ๐Ÿ˜› (You also get 10% off products if you’re attending the cookery school). Through the providore you’ll find yourselves at the Quarter Twenty One Cookery School run by the lovely Libby. The school is fitted with stainless steel tops, state of the art equipment and finished with a wall of mini spice jars giving a warm, intimate and homely feel.

The class began with the grinding the fennel seeds and salt in the mortar and pestle to massage onto our huge pork rumps after scoring the skin. After our mise en place was completed, accompanied with a glass of wine we watched as Head Chef of Quarter Twenty One Michael Robinson shared his knowledge and food inspirations with us. We watched in anticipation as he demonstrated how to cook the crispy pork crackling and accompanying side dishes of sprout and chestnut saute, caramelised pears and a potato puree whilst he and director Libby Travers provided us with tips and tricks to cook a fail safe dinner.

The end result? Hearing the crunch as the pork was cut into serving pieces and smelling sweetness of the pears and the beautifully caramelised brussel sprouts. Of course we got to eat some too!

We both loved the class and the idea of cooking for the soul – I think it was Bill’s first recipe too (hopefully not the last)! Though they call it a 45 minute express class, it was really relaxed able to ask questions and a casual way to perfect a culinary skill. A definite big bonus was we have completed most of the mise en place for dinner and ready to cook!

How did we go at home? Well… it didn’t go quite as smoothly as he demonstrated and took us nearly 90mins to get dinner on the table but practice makes perfect!

Quarter Twenty One
 
 

Quarter Twenty One Cookery School
 
 

 
Peering into the bag of goodies – brussel sprouts and chestnuts

 
Kurobuta pork rump ready to be scored and massaged with fennel seeds and pink salt

 
Head Chef Michael Robinson
Applying pressure to create that crispy crunchy crackling

 
*CRUNCH*

 
Perfect Pork Crackling
 
 
Sprout and chestnut saute, caramelised pears and potato puree

 
Bills version…practice makes perfect!
 
 
My version… we’re getting there!
 

Happy Birthday Bill! I hope you enjoyed the class and you’re more motivated to cook for us ๐Ÿ™‚

Quarter Twenty One on Urbanspoon

JPB Restaurant Swissotel

Do you fondue? I do and so these lovely hungry friendly cheese loving foodies and two lactose intolerant girls.
One wintry Tuesday night, Betty had organised a cheese fondue to warm our bellies at JPB Restaurant located on Level 8 of the Swissotel and is just past the Crossroads Bar.

I didn’t think cheese fondue existed in Sydney, the last time I had cheese fondue was in Japan at The Red Lobster for my birthday. I had just turned 18 and we went out for dinner celebrating with steaks, crabs, polaroids and rose wine (though I believe the legal drinking age in Japan is 20…) but the most memorable dish the most amazing Cheese Bread Fondue. It was served in a bread cob hollowed out and filled with cheese sauce and we dipped bread, shrimp and lobster into it. I remember raving on about this when I got back to Sydney.

At the JPB restaurant they served one cheese pot between two, a cauldron-like pot on top of a burning flame filled with three types of cheese – emmental, gruyere and racelette together with splashes of white wine. The cheese fondue was served with crusty baguette bread, sausages, roast potatoes, pickled onions and ugly little gherkins to dunk with. I wasn’t sure whether I liked dipping the pickled onions and gherkins into the cheese pot, I think I much prefer to eat them by themselves. I did however love leaving the crusty bread in the pot of rich, creamy smelly cheese to soak in all the bubbling cheesy goodness before popping them into my mouth. Be warned the cheese is bubbling and piping hot, especially at the bottom which unfortunately some eager girls found out the hard way. Don’t worry if you start to run low on condiments – they have free top ups ๐Ÿ˜‰

Soon enough all the cheese and bread started to expand and we started to feel quite full but these girls wanted dessert. After a fair bit of chatter to work the carbs off we spotted the cutest mini milkshake being served at another table and Mel and I decided we had to have it. Our dessert of Chocolate and Vanilla Sponge had a mini vanilla bean foam, a peanut butter mousse on chocolate "soil". Sadly the sponge wasn’t a sponge but more like a peanut butter cookie sandwich filled with cream and I found the peanut butter mousse a bit stodgy and not quite airy and light but I loved the crumbly chocolate soil.

If you’re in the mood for fondue it is $27 per pot and the rich cheese paired with the carbs will definitely fill you up!
Thank you Betty for organising this! and thank you to Viv for sharing the Chocolate Artisan cake love! 

 
JPB Restaurant Cheese Fondue

 
Crusty bread to dunk with

 
Pot of bubbling hot cheese Emmental, gruyere, racelette

 

 

 
The damage

 
Chocolate and Vanilla Sponge

Jpb Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Manmaruya Ashfield

When I need to get my ramen on… or my aburi sushi fix I head to my local Japanese joint, Manmaruya Hurstville. It’s popular and quite busy, you can definitely expect to wait a while especially on Thursday nights ๐Ÿ˜‰ The branch at Hurstville is actually the second branch to open, the first was in Campsie and now recently they have opened a branch in Ashfield. My family was invited to dine at the pre-opening of Manmaruya Ashfield (217 Liverpool Road) before it officially opened to the public, this way the new staff were able to experience a shift and work out the kinks – of course we were more than happy to oblige.

So my favourite types of ramen are TanTanmen, Salt Butter Corn Ramen and Kogashi Ninniku Ramen. Lucky for me Manmaruya’s specialty is the Kogashi Ninniku ramen which literally means burnt garlic ramen. Manmaruya offers their ramen in two soup stocks; pork stock and chicken stock – I almost always order ramen with pork stock finding I prefer the thicker more flavoursome pork soup to the more subtle chicken soup. Now I love my ramen with a heap of bean sprouts and a perfectly soft boiled egg with orange gooey insides – and that’s exactly what I got and more because I found hidden underneath my mountain of noodles an extra egg!!! My sister decided she also wanted to have some sushi so ordered the Mini Ramen with pork stock in which they forgot to add the seaweed pieces. After we told the waitress she missed the seaweed pieces, they gave us a double serving of seaweed too! You’ll find that the portions served at Manmaruya are very generous, I’m always leaving with a food baby and even my sister’s "mini" ramen is not so mini.

Thinking she was getting a "mini" ramen my sister also ordered the Spicy Tuna Roll and Soft Shell Crab Roll to share. The Spicy Tuna Roll which I forgot to take a photo of  had six pieces of spicy marinated fresh tuna rolls to dip in a spicy mayonnaise tingling the tips of your tongue. I was so happy the Soft Shell Crab was not dripping in oil like in some other establishments. Mum wanted to order something she could not eat everyday and had the Sushi Sashimi Combo. We did have to wait an hour for this to be served but it was well worth the wait with fresh thick pieces of sashimi. We didn’t have dessert tonight but we finished our meal off with a serving of takoyaki instead with piping hot pieces of octopus encased in a crispy shell drizzled with sauce and katsubushi.

Manmaruya Ashfield is a great addition, especially if you’re not in the mood for great Shanghainese food currently dominating on Liverpool Road. If you’re also not in the mood for ramen try their Aburi Sushi – it’s one of my favourite dishes there! Manmaruya Hurstville also serves Camembert Tempura, but I don’t think I spotted this on the Ashfield menu.

Manmaruya
 

 
Kogashi Ninniku Ramen

 
Soft Shell Crab Roll

 
Sushi Sashimi Combo

We dined at the courtesy of Manmaruya Ashfield.Manmaruya on Urbanspoon

They also have sister branches at
Manmaruya Campsie  Manmaruya Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Manmaruya Hurstville  Manmaruya on Urbanspoon