Les Creations de Narisawa, Aoyama, Japan

I hope you all had a Happy New Year! This will the first post of 2012 and what better way to start 2012 then with my most memorable meal of 2011.
I was lucky enough to celebrate my birthday at two fabulous Japanese-French restaurants this post will be about the first – Les Creations de Narisawa (Aoyama, Tokyo). The restaurant has been awarded 2011 Acqua Panna's Best Restaurant in Asia and Number 12 on the S.Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants, it was easily the menu which had the most lasting impression for all the right reasons.

Dining here was truly an experience as the world of Narisawa is inspired by landscapes and changing seasons aiming to bring nature onto the plate with themes of soil, water, fire, charcoal and forest. It's a little hard to find hidden under a building, we are gently ushered into the restaurant through automatic sliding doors from the waiting room and into a dark, elegant restaurant with plush leather arm chairs. At our table setting we have a glass slab etched with the restaurant name which was verrry cool and are given a rather vague menu Autumn Collection 2011 Evolve with the Forest. The waiter kindly explains to ensure customers are surprised, the menu gives each dish a "poetic title" and only lists the main ingredients, also the dishes won't be arriving in order according to the menu.

Les Creations de Narisawa

 

Excited we put our bellies in the hands of Narisawa and the first dish presented on our table appears to be an autumn themed candle holder wafting scents of cinnamon, adorned with autumn leaves to the untrained eye but is in actual fact a little cyclinder of yeast. Once the yeast has been left to ferment in the water bath, a waiter came by with a trolley decorated with autumn twigs and placed the dough into a 300C stone bowl which is covered and left at our table to bake.
Whilst our bread is being cooked we're served with a Gift from "Satoyama" appearing to be sumi (charcoal) a bite sized piece of black crust made from chargrilled leeks encasing a soft piece of onion. Next to arrive is the Gift from the Sea "Sawara" Spanish mackerel from Aichi with citrus, green pepper leaf sauce. The saba was fresh, firm and went lovely with the sauce which cut through the natural oil of the fish.
By this time our "Forest 2010" Bread of Autumn Forest has baked under the heavy wooden lid and we're served with a soft, freshly baked cinnamon and chestnut bread. The waiter suggests having it on it's own and it is absolutely "autumny" and heart warming. We were also served bread (not baked at our table) which came with an adorable pot of what appears to be dirt with seedlings growing. Fear not, the pot contains whipped butter covered with a dehydrated blueberry crumb.
While enjoying our bread a dish with a whole grilled squid is set down and my eyes light up because I absolutely love grilled squid and the portion was huge! But before I could take a photo I'm distracted by yet another trolley bringing forth a concoction surrounded with a hazy mist. The waiter explains that a ground mixture of red peppers, oil and lemon juice is frozen in the liquid nitrogen and in the blink of any eye gently blankets my squid with this newly formed black frozen "ash". This dish "Ash 2009" Wind of Basque was my favourite with the cold sandy ash, tender squid in a red pepper sauce the perfect plate of landscape through ingredients, smell and texture.
Le Potager an Autumn garden was a plate of 19 different Japanese vegetables in season – we did try to find all 19 but it was tad too hard.
The inner chemistry geek in me squeals in excitement as this time we're presented with what looks like a science experiment, five test tubes and two filled with liquid. This dish "Luxury essence 2007" Langoustine the superior liquid broth is made from a Chinese jin hua ham and pork is poured onto the langoustine dish. It is indeed very delicious and find myself scraping every last drop.
The final dish from the Gift from the Sea is a perfectly cooked flaky, fleshy fish dish "Amadai" Snapper, Hagi, Yamaguchi and Maitake mushroom steamed in a bag with a light duck and pork broth.
The final main Gift from the Forest is presented as a piece of charcoal on a block of wood aka In Narisawa's world, "Sumi 2009" Hida beef. The waiter explains that this dish has been made through a process of basting the wagyu covered in a leek crust in olive oil and butter continuously for an hour. The end result is an evenly pink piece of beef, tender and juicy complemented with a red wine sauce and green peppers. Marking the end of our mains we are served a palate cleanser of a sake granita which was too potent for me to polish off.
So far so fannntastic, thoroughly satisfied and basking in the pleasantness of the evening I'm super surprised and ecstatic when the waiter wishes me a happy birthday along with a cake arrives complete with a candle. Not surprisingly the vanilla sponge cake is one of the best I've had and the loved the little jube holding up my card. After finishing off our extra little dessert we're served a small pre dessert of "Waguri" Chestnut pannacotta, chestnuts and caramelised chestnuts oh god this was good, layers of chestnut pannacotta, chestnuts and caramelised chestnuts..I love chestnuts so I was eager to take a spoonful of Bill's too.
Finally our dessert was presented in a beautiful glass bowl with a mixture of "Yuzu", Pear, "Buntan" with pieces of mochi and muscat, a clean and refreshing way to end the dinner.
Now usually tea and petit fours would end the night but once again excitement started to well up inside me as I spied another trolley coming towards our table from the corner of my eye. This was the prettiest cart ever, adorned with leaves, seeds, twigs and autumn motif with bite size pieces of petit fours laying amongst the forest. The waiter starts to explain each petit four and to name a just a few there were green tea macaron, peanut creme brulee, muscat mochi, sugar cane cake, pumpkin cake, mitsu cake, green tea mochi, pumpkin fudge, galettes and finally Narisawa's signature gradation of petit macarons. While my head is spinning from the spectacle of a dessert cart the waiter casually mentions "you can choose some or ALL" as he prepares to plate up our choices…. say whaattt?! I am near crying tears of joy and happiness…seriously ALL? Have you ever heard of such a thing?! Obviously we had to call upon our separate dessert stomachs.

Autumn Collection 2011
 
Gift from "Satoyama"
 
Evolve with the Forest
 
 
 
"Forest 2010" Bread of Autumn Forest
 
 
Gift from the sea – "Sawara" Spanish mackerel from Aichi
 
 
Gift from the sea – "Ash 2009" Wind of Basque
 
"Le Potager" Autumn garden
 
 
Gift from the sea – "Luxury essence 2007" Langoustine
 
Gift from the sea – "Amadai" Snapper, Hagi, Yamaguchi and Maitake Mushrooms
 
…not a piece of coal
 
Gift from the forest – "Sumi 2009" Hida beef
 
 
Gateua a la Vanille
vanilla sponge, white chocolate, rich creme chantilly, creme brulee, butter caramel
 
"waguri" Chestnut
too small me thinks
 
"Yuzu" Pear "Buntan"
 
Dessert Cart
 
Selection of Petit Four
Green tea mochi, muscat and mochi, galette, peanut creme brulee

 
Les Macarons
White Chocolate Lavender, Cafe Creme, Caramel Vanilla, Caramel Salt, Chocolate Rose, Cacao 41%,, Cacao 66%, Cacao 72% and Cacao 80%
The service was top notch and each dish unique and presented beautifully using the freshest seasonal ingredients to illustrate and reflect a story inspired by nature. It was the most memorable dining experience of 2011 which could be attributed to Narisawa's idea of the season permeating throughout the menu and the anticipation of what the next dish offers and the surprise of techniques used to just simply having the "evolution" of bread as it baked at your table with a cute little pot plant. And how could I forget the dessert cart of my dreams and the lovely birthday cake which made this dinner a bit more special. Easy to see why this restaurant has won so many accolades year after year, I cannot wait to go back and delve into the world of Narisawa, perhaps in another season.

Merry Christmas Deco-Roll cake

Hellooo it has been a while hasn't it…

Finally it started to look like summer on Christmas Day and just like all the other mad people with their ovens turned on, I did the same and made another deco-roll cake which turned out perfectly! Yay me!


Christmas Wreath deco-roll cake

Anyhoo apologies for the lack of posts as of late…blahh so I'm back from my holiday in Hong Kong – Shanghai – Japan, celebrated our 9 year anniversary, turned twenty four, survived Christmas and ate a whole lot of chocolates! Annnnd enough with the excuses I'll leave you with a few photos from the last month and a half from Instagram.





Now to bring on the New Year…I'll try and bake a New Year themed deco-roll cake too in a few days and possibly start the New Year with a few posts from my travels. Stay tuned 😉

Birthday Eve at The Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay

Seafood makes me happy, so for my 23rd birthday Bill spoiled me and he took us out to dinner at The Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay (End of Ferry Road, Glebe). A converted boathouse, it’s a little hard to find and very hard to find parking in small residential streets but we saw some people arriving in style via water taxi which dropped them right outside. Our reservation at 6pm was absolute perfection as The Boathouse has a panoramic view of the Anzac Bridge and the city skyline which was stunning as day transformed into night and there were lights glittering everywhere – so pretty!

We just had to start off with oysters which were fresh shucked to order; their variety of oysters available were dizzying and we wanted to try them all but we thought it might confuse us too much so we chose oysters from Lemon Tree Passage with a mignonette – very fresh and briny goodness. Wanting to try something different we also ordered the Ocean Trout Roe with Potato Blinis which was the sex. The potato blinis were hot and fluffy, smeared with creme fraiche and a little wasabi and topped it off with big plump ocean trout roe and popped it whole into my mouth – so moreish and to die for! Afraid that the ocean trout roe wouldn’t fill us up we also ordered the delicate Tartare of Yellowfin Tuna but those potato blinis really fill you up… On a completely different note – they served all our dishes on a metal tier and myself being short… it was difficult to take photos of the food without having to stand up so unfortunately the photos of the oysters and ocean trout roe which were placed on the top tier…aren’t fantastic.
There were a few things on the menu we would have liked to try but we couldn’t go past their famous Snapper Pie to share. After 30mins along came a trolley and the snapper pie was served at our table – amazing, yum! Bill also really loved the smoked tomato. For a side salad Bill ordered the Green Beans and Radicchio salad which was delicious but we were too full to finish this. Obviously not full enough to skip dessert though and we had a simple Banana souffle served in a small copper saucepan – too cute! and Pecan ice cream. We finished the evening off with complimentary Frangipani and Apple Crumble petit fours.

The staff were polite and attentive without being overbearing and the restaurant had a relaxed ambience and the food was simply delicious. We’ll definitely return, especially for special occasions and focus more on trying oysters from different areas of NSW.

Have a safe and happy new year everyone!!

 
The Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay

 
Organic Rye and Sourdough

 
Lemon Tree Passage Rock from Mid North Coast
 
 
Tartare of Yellowfin Tuna, Cuttlefish, Radish & Lime

 
Ocean Trout Roe from Macquarie Harbour, Potato Blinis with Wasabi & Creme Fraiche

 
Potato Blinis

 
Please excuse my dirty plate but this is my finished product

 
Green Bean, Radicchio, Egg & Sunflower Seed Salad

 
Snapper Pie with Smoked Tomato & Mashed Potato

 
Simply delicious

 
Banana Souffle and Pecan Ice Cream

 
Frangipani and Apple Crumble Petit Four

Thank you Bill for an amazing dinner with a super pretty view and I think we should have our reception here kthxbye

Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay on Urbanspoon

23 at Longrain Restaurant and Bar

Jase has been trying to organise for us to go to Longrain for a good part of the year now, but we always opted for elsewhere due to their no dinner bookings policy and it was a hassle to organise everyone to get there from work. However, we’ve finally made it here nice and early for my 23rd birthday – I even scored parking right outside – lucky me! And though it was a Sunday the dining room filled up very quickly and within 30minutes of being seated, the place was full.

Longrain (85 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills) converted from an old industrial warehouse into a super chic cocktail bar complete with a dj and a huge dining room with communal dining tables. I must admit I’m not a fan of communal dining because its really hard to hold a private conversation without having your personal space invaded and if you unfortunately spill something it doesnt spill onto the floor but onto the stranger next to you 😦 Anyhoo onto our foods… Longrain famous for their cocktails, I of course started the night off with a ‘stick drink’ Ping Pong – muddled passionfruit and lychees, vodka, lychee liquer and ice – so refreshing and has been a favourite of mine since Taste of Sydney 2009. We started off with Freshly shucked oysters with red chilli lime juice and deep fried eschalots, followed by the Betel leaf topped with prawn roasted coconut. mint and chilli which I just popped into my mouth had a nice balance of flavours. No visit to Longrain is complete without ordering the signature Eggnet which featured on MasterChef Australia. – the lacy and fancy eggnet delicately sat atop a generous bowl of beansprouts and prawns but it didnt look like the table next to ours where their eggnet encased all the ingredients. We had eggnet envy but it was still delicious. Other delicious meals we ordered were the Green curry of burrawong chicken which was amazing and aromatic, twice cooked crisp duck salad, stir fried pumpkin dish. Another favourite of mine was the Caramelised pork hock which though it was a little dry I loved how it was so sticky it stuck to my teeth. Though the parking meter timer was ticking we still had room for dessert which was my favourite dish of the night – tapioca, chocolate mousse and red bean ice cream.

 
Longrain
Ping Pong

 
Betel leaf topped with smoked trout chilli garlic galangal & trout roe

 
Betel leaf topped with prawn roasted coconut, mint & chilli

 
Eggnet with pork, prawn, peanuts, bean sprouts & deep fried eschallots

 
Green curry of burrawong chicken with baby corn & pea eggplants

 
Twice cooked duck salad ?

 
Caramelised pork hock with five spice & chilli vinegar

 
Stir fried pumpkin and veges

 
Tapioca and chocolate mousse

 

Thank you for coming out and celebrating with me and for the precious necklace and the amazing planetary mixer!!

 
Meet Cupcake.
My awesome friends know me too well.


Thank you to everyone who was kind enough to send me birthday wishes! 

Longrain Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

China Doll

To celebrate Helen’s 24th birthday we took an unsuspecting Helen to Woolloomooloo Wharf for her birthday dinner and erm… made her guess out of six restaurants on the wharf which we had chosen for her birthday dinner. Poor Helen couldn’t win and didn’t want to say the wrong thing, so we let her on that we were taking her to China Doll (Woolloomooloo Wharf, Cowper Wharf Rd) but I think secretly she was hoping it would be Kingsley’s (next time babe!).  I was eager to try China Doll after recommendations from friends about the food and more importantly I heard the cocktails are amazing. The atmosphere was buzzing and it was a full house so we were seated outside along the wharf and though we didn’t feel the wind, we did have trouble seeing each other as they had forgotten to place candle lights on our table… which they promptly rectified as soon as we informed them.

After a few suggestions from our friendly waiter and hearing the specials on offer that night, we decided to opt out of the banquet menu and instead chose mostly signature dishes of 3 entrées and 4 mains from the a la carte menu hoping it would be enough to fill our bellies. We started the evening off with one of the specials; dozen oysters with a ginger and lime dressing which were divine and creamy. Followed by the sashimi of kingfish an ocean trout which uses sustainable produce and the kingfish is the "rolls royce" of kingfish from SA. I especially loved the blackened chilli dressing, very different to what I usually have sashimi with. Our third entree was yet another special on offer, the crispy wonton which encased a whole scallop!
Our first main served was the rich and numbing penang curry with melt in your mouth wagyu beef shin. The complexity of spices in the curry was absolutely delicious and I enjoyed every last drop thoroughly with my jasmine rice. The following mains were great too; the tea smoked duck was tender and our prawns were on steroids in our salt and pepper prawns. Finishing our mains off was my favourite dish of the night; the mind blowing delicious crispy pork belly. I couldn’t get enough of these tasty little morsels which were crispy and packed with flavour, I think I fell in love with this dish.
Not one to pass on dessert we ordered the large dessert platter which included a black rice pudding with ginger which isn’t my type of dessert, a trio of sorbet and ice cream and sago with passionfruit – I love love love sago!! I couldn’t resist so I also ordered the condensed milk tart as it wasn’t included in the dessert platter, and boy was I glad I ordered it. The crumbly tart oozed condensed milk which was like heaven, and I think I single handedly ate all the caramel peanut pieces scattered on the plate too 🙂 

Their cocktails were indeed amazing and I did fall in love with the crispy pork belly so I’d return to China Doll again, definitely when I’m feeling a little fancy. I must admit it was quite glamorous sipping on pretty cocktails and staring at the city skyline under the beautiful pinkish hue of the sky.

  
China Doll (Woolloomooloo Wharf, Cowper Wharf Rd
(they don’t only serve Chinese food, I spotted Japanese, Korean and Thai items on the menu too!)

  
Lick n’ Lychees

  
Sashimi of Hiramasa Kingfish & Ocean Trout w Blackened Chilli Dressing

  
Special Coffin Bay Oysters

  
Special Crispy Wonton with Scallop and Prawn

  
Signature Penang Curry of Braised Wagyu Beef Shin

  
Signature Tea Smoked Free range Thirlmere Duck w Tamarind & Plum

  
Sichuan Salt & Pepper Prawns w Chilli & Garlic

  
Signature Cripsy Pork Belly w Chilli Caramel & Nam Pla Phrik

  
Condensed Milk Tart

  
Dessert Platter –  Black Rice Pudding with Ginger, Coconut, Mango and Ginger gelato, Sago with Passionfruit
 

Happy birthday again lovely!! I know my present was a week late but I hope you LOVE it nonetheless! xx

China Doll on Urbanspoon

Ace of Cakes (Ayana-style)

Lately before going to bed I’ve been watching an episode of Ace of Cakes because it’s Cake Month on the Lifestyle Food Channel. Feeling inspired I decided to make my very own "one-of-a-kind" cake (but without using motors, power drills and blowtorches).

It was just the right timing as well since Jase’s birthday was coming up. I had been tossing up a few ideas and it came down to either a gun or a ping pong table with ping pong paddles – Ping Pong because we’ve been having intense competitions at Jase’s house and guns because  the boys have been super obsessed with Nerf guns as of late. In the end I decided with the Nerf gun for a bit of a challenge (the ping pong table was way too easy – it would end up just a square with some icing piping)… to be specific the Nerf Maverick.

 
The Inspiration
 
Ta daaa
The darts kinda look like fingers with blue nail polish… or hot chips…
 
 
"It’s Nerf or Nothing"
Happy Birthday Jase!
 

It was quite daunting at first, because I really didn’t want to be eating a black and yellow cake and I was so so scared no one else would eat it either. For the base I used a simple two layered sponge cake with cream between them and the yellow icing was a sour cream base and the black icing was butter cream – the black icing proved to be more popular. 

 
From a recent painful and dangerous Paintball game

Jazushi

On my ACTUAL birthday we headed down to Jazushi in Surry Hills where Susan Gai Dowling was performing for an “intimate” dinner with close friends <3.

The atmosphere at Jazushi was lovely the waitstaff were so kind, the place so relaxing and the food was enjoyable too… I did get stressed by the sheer amount of time they sang Happy Birthday to me though. Oh BTW we did order other foods Scallops, Beef Tataki, Sashimi Salad, Black Sesame Ice Cream, Green Tea Ice Cream and omg they served a really divine Creme Brulee (I just didn’t take photos of them…apologies I was busy) .


Jazushi

Ze men in attendance

and the foooood…
Natural Oyster with Ponzu Sauce
best fricken oysters I’ve had in a while they were so tasty and juicy and plump oh gawd

Camembert Tempura
artery clogging goodness that I’m going to try and recreate at homee

Crispy Soft Shell Crab with Miso Tomato Sauce

Seared Sushi Set

Jazushi Fresh Combo
Sushi and Sashimi with Grilled Oysters

Kakuni Kurobuta Pork Belly

The sparkle fizzed out

after dinner KARAOKE

having too much fun

with my gurrrl Annie

other gurrrrl Lalisa

Karen Walker Jewellery from Annie and Lina
esp. LOVED the card!! – so daymn cute you guys!!

Totally spoiled by Angie ❤

The LAST ONE in Sydney yo!

The prettiest card!! Handmade, beaded AND mermaids!! and from all the way in Katoomba
know me too well

Tiffany and Co Key Pendant from Helen <333

and then we all did the clubbing!

and that concludes my birthday posts XD
THANKS EVERYBODY

Jazushi on Urbanspoon