Kitchen By Mike

The new warehouse canteen Kitchen by Mike (85 Dunnings Ave, Roseberry) was the light at the end of my working week – quite literally with it's high celiings and airy open space. It also provided the happiest moment of my Sunday when I snagged the last order of sourdough pancakes with lemon curd, it was just the dish to brighten my day.

The food at Kitchen by Mike is simple and unpretentious using the freshest produce sourced by Mike each morning, thus the menu changes daily and can be found at their Facebook page. We didn't know this when we headed there for brunch but were pleasantly surprised as we peered into the open kitchen and walked past the display of vibrant salads, rustic pizzas and freshly made juices and smoothies. We made our way through the queue and sat with our enamel tin plates at a communal table, grabbed our cutlery from an old can of tomatoes, taking in the rawness of the warehouse. Satisfied with our selection of a slice of Mike's freshly woodfired sourdough bread, fluffy and was delicious with a slather of PepeSaya butter and had us going back for a second serving. I let Bill enjoy his roasted pork belly with chutney which he found so good he would happily eat here each weekend, while I had a selection of a few of the salads on offer which were packed with flavour and well balanced.

I was keen to try the breakfasts here and I absolutely had to share Kitchen by Mike with someone else so brought the mother the following weekend, knowing she would also appreciate Koskela more than Bill did. It was noticeably more busy and my heart raced as I neared the register to order my breakfast, as I ordered the last sourdough pancakes and they crossed it off the specials board – sorry to anyone who was queueing behind me, I know my heart would sink. Mum had the baked chickpeas, chorizo with a egg which was perfection wobbly and gooey from being poached slowly for 30mins while we watched the open kitchen change from breakfast to lunch.

Kitchen By Mike
 
 
 
Freshly squeezed orange juice
 
 
Mike's woodfired sourdough bread with Pepesaya butter
 
Roast pork belly $12
 
Plum, walnut & blue cheese
Tomato, watermelon mint salad
Corn, lime & chilli salt
 
Sourdough pancakes with lemon curd
 
Baked chorizo, chickpeas with poached egg

Next door is Koskela which sells the enamel tin plates used a Kitchen by Mike and other Australian goods – we picked up some lovely smelling hand wash used in the bathrooms too as gifts for our relatives overseas. The staff are friendly and passionate, we both loved the open space, the simplicity of it all and the concept of using fresh and seasonal produce daily and we're trying to enjoy it as much as we can before the inevitable influx and appearance of beautiful people and hispters XP The food here can be a little pricey especially when you try and order a bit of each, but it is reflected in the freshness of ingredients and the quality of the dishes produced.

Kitchen By Mike on Urbanspoon

Reuben Hills

One thing I've learnt from full time work is that your weekends are sacred and to be celebrated. So last weekend we indulged in a very decadent late lunch at Reuben Hills (61 Albion Street, Surry Hills). Reuben Hills is a newly opened warehouse turned cafe and coffee roastry upstairs and a menu with a Latin American influence.

The menu looks deceivingly simple with a handful of items to choose from, but we've both never heard of many of the items! In the end I was swayed by the little blurb in the 'About' section of the menu and had a baleada – one of the most popular foods originating in Honduras. A warm, soft and thick wheat flour tortilla arrives generously filled with delicious black beans, free range eggs and a beautiful creamy, crumbly and soft queso fresco cheese. It's a little messy to eat but so friggin tasty it didn't matter. Unfortunately by the time we had lunch the Reuben, which Bill was so keen on, was sold out so instead he had the 99 Breakfast at Tiffany's. It was absolutely delicious, a tall burger with a brioche bun, chorizo and crispy onion, Bill proclaiming "all chorizo should be cooked like this". I was dying to try the Doggs Breakfast and it did not disappoint – an ice cream sandwich with a dollop of salted caramel (great balance of salty and sweet!!) which had me scraping the plate really hit the spot, while Bill got his fix from a creamy smooth and sweet Salted Caramel Milkshake.

The service was really friendly and everyone is genuinely nice! Reuben Hills also hold public coffee cuppings on Friday's each week for free and everyone is welcome. Unfortunately for us we probably won't make it to the coffee cuppings upstairs but Bill's eager to try their Reuben sandwich and I'm looking forward to trying their Black Sesame milkshake next time. Anyhoo it was definitely a great way to end our weekend!

Reuben Hills
 
 
Love love love the quirky bottles of water!
 
 
Free range eggs, queso fresco, black beans baleada
 
99 Breakfast at Tiffany's – Chorizo inside brioche bun w ranchero sauce & crispy onion
 
Salted Caramel Milkshake
 
Doggs Breakfast – Ice Cream Sandwich with salted caramel

Reuben Hills on Urbanspoon

Bread & Circus

I'm a girl who loves her veges and grew terribly jealous at the sight of my friends posting on instagram, delicious wholesome looking salads, so much so I had to get down to the new "wholefoods canteen" in Alexandria last weekend.
Bread & Circus (21 Fountain Street, Alexandria) is hidden behind Don Campos in the corner nook of a large warehouse, a beautiful and relaxed space and airy, getting plenty of sunshine. The atmosphere here is casual and natural where an assortment of stools and chairs surround communal wooden tables adorned with pieces of fruit as still life, recycled jars, baskets of serving ware and pretty bowls contained unrefined brown sugar. Just as the name suggests, it is quite the quirky canteen and I completely fell in love with the decor from the warm pastel plates, brightly coloured potted plants to the rustic buckets contained serviettes.

Each visit to Bread & Circus is made exciting with the menu changing daily. Bill and I decided to share a regular salad plate where you can choose all or one of the salads on offer. The salad combinations are different to your plain old caesar salads or garden salads and use market fresh produce:
Baked golden maple peaches with champagne puy lentils, blue cheese and chive
Smoky flamed eggplant with a light fragrant sort-of salsa verde
Slow roasted sweet balsamic tomato, torn basil and olive oil farro

(Our salad consisted of the top three)
Olive oil couscous with steamed broccoli and two kinds of beans in orange minted yoghurt
Cinnamon sea salt baked golden sweet potato with garlic olive oil and agave
Caramelised apple-cider fennel and orange in black quinoa coriander and champagne vinegar

The plate is a very generous serving size, each salad packed with flavour exploding in your mouth and absolutely scrumptious. I especially loved the juicy chunks of smoky eggplant and the combination of blue cheese with the peaches and lentils.

Thinking that sharing a regular salad plate wouldn't be enough for the both of us we also ordered a Circus soup served with wedges of sourdough and organic butter. The regular bowl of Super-green soup with creamy smooth broccoli kale & almond which was creamy smooth, hearty and absolutely delicious and great for dunking our wedges of bread into. We also received a complimentary side bowl of Balsamic roasted three tomato & banana chilli with swirl of biodynamic basil yoghurt since they accidentally forgot to bring out the soup we ordered until Bill reminded them. It was spicy and had a good kick to it which was balanced by the sour yoghurt, but we both agreed we the super-green soup had won over our hearts.

Bread & Circus
 
 
Daily Plate Salad
 
Balsamic roasted three tomato & banana chilli with a swirl of biodynamic basil yoghurt
 
Sourdough and organic butter
 
Super-green soup with creamy smooth broccoli kale & almond
  

Though quite busy multitasking (they mentioned they were understaffed that day) the staff were really quite sweet. As we were leaving they apologized again for the mix up of the soup being missed and gave us a complimentary organic orange and bran muffin to take away which we happily accepted and enjoyed with a coffee from Don Campos as we left feeling full, nurtured, super healthy and hearty. We can't wait to revisit and try more salads! And perhaps adding delicious extras such as char grilled haloumi or a boiled biodynamic egg.

Bread & Circus on Urbanspoon

Tetsuya’s

Just a little over a month ago I celebrated my birthday…and I'm still getting used to the number 24. We celebrated my birthday (for yes a second time) at Tetsuya's (529 Kent St, Sydney). Tetsuya's one of S.Pellegrino's World 100 Best Restaurants, once the Best Restaurant in Australasia has always been on my wishlist since forever and has held the Good Food Guide's three hat status for just as long, but as I'm waiting for my booked date to arrive, in 2011 Tetsuya's lost one hat – perhaps he is concentrating on his Singapore restaurant Waku Ghin, but none the less I was still as excited!
Having walked past Tetsuya's countless times, once you step past the gate on Kent Street, you're transported out of Sydney city and into a quiet and serene Japanese town and reminds me much of our stay at a ryokan in Arima Onsen, Kyoto. The restaurant is a maze, the dining rooms are large and decorated with artworks, we're seated by the window and the Japanese zen garden.

I'm sure you have heard all the amazing things about Tetsuya's Unsalted Butter with Ricotta and Truffles and it's true, it's light, airy and simply delicious. Bill was sensible, not wanting to fill up on bread and stopped at one bread roll, I on the other hand could not resist slathering it on my warm crusty roll white bread with fluffy inards…and then order another roll of rye bread…I just love great butter with good bread.
To whet our appetite we started with Chilled Pea Soup with Mint. The next dish was a supplementary item which we nodded our heads furiously to when offered by the waiter, Pacific Oysters with Rice Vinegar and Ginger. I love the acidity from the rice vinegar which complemented the fresh creamy oyster well and was well worth the additional $18 for four oysters.
I'm always super excited when chawanmushi is served and it was no different this time when the Savoury Custard with Sea Urchin arrived, the silky smooth custard in my favourite dashi broth melted in my mouth but I much prefer the texture of raw sea urchin than steamed. Sashimi of Kingfish with Blackbean and Orange was the perfect harmony of flavours, the tartness from the mirin and blackbean drizzled on the firm Kingfish sashimi. Next, a beautiful piece of Grilled Scampi with Chicken Liver Parfait brought together with a light walnut dressing.
The next dish is Tetsuya's signature dish and remains the only constant on his menu throughout the years. Now admittedly I was afraid of this dish just in case I couldn't finish it, you see I don't enjoy salmon and ocean trout sashimi. Despite this though, I absolutely loved the Confit of Petuna Ocean Trout with Shaved Fennel with Unpasteurised Ocean Trout Caviar. Being Japanese, kombu is a staple in our diet, but for Bill it's unfamiliar and strange. Kombu is a seaweed or kelp and is used to make dashi broth, you can also have it dried and eaten as a condiment to the humble bowl of rice. The confit of the ocean trout created an interesting texture, the fish was flaky but firm as you cut into it, a melting mouthful against the crisp kombu crust adding sea saltiness to the freshness of the fish. And of course the fish roe added popping fun and deliciousness. It's no wonder this is Tetsuya's signature dish and if I'm to eat ocean trout again it'll have to be Tetsuya's.
Our last of the seafood dishes was the Steamed Queensland Spanner Crab with Bean Curd, Foie Gras and Junsai, a delicate and sweet terrine of spanner crab and silken tofu with subtle foie gras and hints of junsai a sprout covered with a jelly like texture.
Onto the meat courses a pink and crispy skin covered Duck Breast with Pickled Beetroot. Much to Bill's delight we're served a substantial piece of Grass Fed Angus Beef and Tendon with Wasabi and Mustard Seeds, rare, tender and soft, one of the best pieces of steak we have had in a while and perfect with the mustard seeds.
Our refreshing pre dessert of Ginger Ice Cream with Lychee Granita served as a palate cleanser. Tetsuya's Bread and Butter Pudding similar to a creme brulee, a sweet concoction of creamy vanilla custard and cinnamon. My birthday warranted a special dessert a Chocolate Fondant with Hazelnut and Praline, a gorgeous warm centered fondant oozing warm chocolate flecked with salt pieces paired with a quinelle of creme fraiche ice cream and candied hazelnuts. While the Mister has a Chocolate Pave with Cream Cheese Ice Cream and Cinnamon Twigs, a dense rich mousse, dark and bitter chocolate balanced by the tanginess of the cream cheese ice cream. I was too busy immersed in my chocolate fondant that I didn't get to try any of the cinnamon twigs ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
And just in case we weren't full enough we're served petit fours of hazelnut chocolate to finish our night.

Tetsuya's
 
Warm crusty white roll with fluffy innards
 
Rye bread roll
 
Unsalted butter with Truffles and Ricotta – absolutely heavenly
 
Chilled Pea Soup with Mint
 
Pacific Oysters with Rice Vinegar and Ginger
 
Savoury Custard with Sea Urchin
 
Sashimi of Kingfish with Blackbean and Orange
 
Grilled Scampi with Chicken Liver Parfait
 
Steamed Queensland Spanner Crab with Bean Curd, Foie Gras and Junsai
 
Confit of Petuna Ocean Trout with Shaved Fennel with Unpasteurised Ocean Trout Caviar
 
Breast of Duck with Pickled Beetroot
 
Grass Fed Angus Beef and Tendon with Wasabi and Mustard Seeds
 
Ginger Ice Cream with Lychee Granita
Tetsuya's Bread and Butter Pudding

 
Warm Centred Chocolate Fondant with Candied Hazelnut and Cream Fraiche Ice Cream
 
Chocolate Pave with Cream Cheese Ice Cream and Cinnamon Twigs
 
Mr. Wakuda and I
Our Tetsuya's experience was heightened even more when Tetsuya himself came by our table and had a chat with us which I thought very charming and nice of him. The degustation was simple using fresh produce from around Australia, I hear Tetsuya has a trout farm and buys his Japanese vegetables from one Sydney farm, each dish cooked perfectly and presentation was outstanding. We could not fault the dishes nor the service which was impeccable.
Dear SMH GFG…Surely the exceptional and delicate, melt in your mouth confit of Petuna Ocean Trout alone is equivalent to the third hat …no?

Tetsuya's on Urbanspoon

Bloodwood

So within the very hectic last month and a half, I also finally have settled into a new office in the CBD (woo moving on up in the world!) from my previous location in Newtown. However this also means missing out on a lot of great (and cheap!) lunch time eats such as Luxe Bakery, Atom Thai, Kammadhenu and Ramen Bar. I also no longer have a weekend parking spot in Newtown so I miss out on brunch spots as well, such as Bloodwood.

Bloodwood (416 King Street, Newtown) is a particular favourite of mine for brunch not because of their courtyard which is delightful to laze about in with a cider on warmer days but because I have found the perfect version of my idea of a summer salad. The interior is a mix of industrial and retro and even sport a few inverted doors hanging from the ceilings. On this occasion I left it to the bar to create a Bloodwood mocktail for myself which was refreshing mix of apple, lime and mint while Bill had a cider. A dish I spotted at almost every table was the polenta chips with gorgonzola sauce which were incredibly light and fluffy and the gorgonzola sauce very rich and creamy. Funnily enough the gorgonzola sauce was all a bit too rich for me but Bill easily polished these off. The perfect aforementioned summer salad is the grilled cuttlefish salad with a cucumber and herb salad drizzled with mustard cream. The cuttlefish was cooked perfectly and the fresh cucumber gave the salad a beautiful crunch and the mustard cream was just made for my palate. We ended our brunch with the Bloodwood trifle a cup of passionfruit, pound cake, port wine jelly, honeycomb anglaise and vanilla bean pannacotta which though looked quite simple, it was to die for and absolutely fan-friggin-tasty with the combination of textures and flavours…we were each fighting spoonfuls of this trifle…next time we'll just order one each for ourselves ๐Ÿ™‚

Bloodwood


Bloodwood Mocktail $8

Polenta chips and gorgonzola sauce $9

Grilled cuttlefish salad $19

Bloodwood trifle $14

Though Newtown isn't as easily accessible as it was before, it won't stop me from revisiting Bloodwood for my favourite salad and trifle…just make sure to arrive early as they have a no bookings policy and the restaurant filled up pretty fast while we were there ๐Ÿ˜‰

Bloodwood on Urbanspoon

Nok Nok Thai Eating House

Back in my day it was called Tumbalong park and opposite it was Sega World, now the area has been newly finished and is known as Darling Quarter featuring lines of cafes (most with al fresco dining – perfect for the upcoming summer months) overlooking the huge funky playground.  Nok Nok Thai Eating House (Shop 9 Darling Walk, Darling Quarter) is one of these new establishments.

The decor and beautiful presentation  of the space of Nok Nok really excited me with sky high ceilings and mirrors making it look even more light and airy, the pale marble-like walls  provided a lovely contrast to the elements of greenery of hanging potted plants and trees sprouting from the banquet table – it reminded me of  British India.On Saturday night the restaurant was a buzz and most of the booths were reserved so we were seated on the communal banquet table (just make sure your group is not separated by the tree in the table).

As an appetizer our friends ordered the Guay Teaw Lord ($8.90) a wide rice  noodle roll wrapping pieces of chicken, tofu, egg and dried shrimp (?) similarly to the rice noodle rolls served at yum cha. Tonight most of us  ordered noodles Gauy Teaw Kua ($13.90) a soy based stir fried flat rice noodles, chicken Pad Thai ($12.90) thin rice noodles fried with tofu, egg, garlic, chives,  bean sprout and crushed peanuts and I had the Kee Mao ($13.90) a wide rice noodle with holy basil, chilli in a dark soy base. It had a good spicy  kick to it which was easily offset by the light and refreshing lychee frappe ($4.00) I ordered earlier. Instead of noodles Bill had the Duck Red Curry ($18.90) which came in a very generous portion, eggplants, bamboo shoots, basil and green beans swimming in a light curry. As we were finishing our dishes we realise our order of Pla Meuk Yang ($15.90) a grilled whole squid had not yet arrived so we opted to cancel  this dish…boo because I was  really looking forward to this dish as I love the grilled calamari from Chat Thai. The front "kitchen" is an open plan and I spied a massive bowl of mangoes and I knew exactly what I was having for dessert. The Keo Neow Ma Moung ($8.90) mango was fresh and meaty and the sweet sticky  rice seemed lighter than that of other Thai restaurants, needless to say we easily polished dessert off.

Nok Nok Thai Eating House

 
Communal banquet table

Booth dining

Chicken Pad Thai

Chicken Ki Mao

Duck Red Curry

Keo Neow Ma Moung Sweet sticky rice with fresh mango

The atmosphere at Nok Nok is nice and the menu quite extensive featuring some dishes such as the wide noodle rice not commonly featured at other Thai restaurants. The food was great and 'll head back again and hope to be able to try the grilled whole squid soon, the outdoor dining area also seems nice for those balmy summer evenings…there was even a jazz band playing outside on Saturday night.

Nok Nok on Urbanspoon

Sushi Buffet Course at Sushi Samurai

My ears perked up at the thought of a sushi buffet… for only $24.80 that sounded like a bargain. We frequent Sushi Samurai (14 Bunn St Pyrmont) whenever we feel like casual Japanese and the sashimi we've had there is always really fresh (previously posted here)…probably because its so close to the Sydney Fish Markets.

The Sushi Buffet ($24.80) runs for 90mins (after you've ordered) and is only on Saturdays for lunch and I highly recommend you to book – if you've ever been, Sushi Samurai is a pretty tiny space and fills up very fast and they also have a few seats outside. Now before you can order all the sushi you can stuff into your belly (big or small) you first need to finish a Starter Plate which is between a choice of two sushi platters either nigiri or rolls and they both come with two pieces of karaage chicken, agedashi tofu and miso soup. Set A is a platter of nigiri – salmon, tuna, kingfish, scallop, egg, prawn, sea urchin and salmon roe boat and two pieces of karaage chicken. Set B I believe is to cater more for the westerners or non-raw seafood eaters and has 8pieces of roll sushi, 2 pieces of salmon aburi, tuna and prawn nigiri and two pieces of karaage chicken. Once your starter plate is finished the real buffet begins and your free to order unlimited numbers of nigiri and rolls! They offer the usual nigiri salmon, sanma (?!), kingfish, tuna, prawn, squid and egg. Don't fret they also cater for roll lovers offering salmon avocado rolls, tuna salad avocado rolls, vegetarian rolls, California rolls and salmon avocado rolls. I was so happy that they also have aburi sushi which I lovee and ordered loads of scallop aburi, kingfish aburi and salmon aburi. There are also a few items which you are limited to a max 2 piece per person including the scampi nigiri, sea urchin boat and salmon roe boat.

I was a tad sad they didn't have natto rolls and my favourite squid was sold out but the variety they have on offer was amazeballs for a buffet. I had the Set A – I liked the idea of a starter plate, it was like a taster so you know what you might want to order more of. The tuna wasn't bad but the best items on the menu were the scampi and scallop which were both plump and firm and of course the delicious aburi sushi. I thought this buffet was great in terms of affordability, variety and freshness. Personally I thought 90mins was enough and we were all stuffed to the brim, but if you don't think the sushi buffet is enough… you can always order the Sushi Buffet Deluxe course ($29.80)…which includes the same as the Sushi Buffet but you can also get unlimited orders of sashimi (salmon, tuna, kingfish or mixed), takoyaki, karaage chicken, tofu seaweed salad, crispy gyoza, deep fried fish head (salmon or kingfish) and deep fried oyster.

Sushi Samurai (Pyrmont)

Starter Plate A
Salmon, Tuna, Kingfish, Scallop, Egg, Prawn, Sea Urchin, Salmon Roe and 2pcs Karaage chicken and sushi rolls.

Agedashi Tofu

Waiting for our unlimited sushi order making chopsticks holders

Tuna and Kingfish nigiri

Scallop aburi, Salmon aburi and Kingfish aburi

Scampi

Sushi Samurai also have a branch in Neutral Bay, however I'm not sure if they're also offering the Sushi Buffet for Saturday lunches.

Sushi Samurai on Urbanspoon

Sake Restaurant & Bar

I’ve been to Sake twice more after my first visit with these lovely girls…way back when it was really hot during the Sydney summer…so I totally thought I’d blogged about this already, my bad.

Sake Japanese Restaurant & Bar (12 Argyle St, The Rocks) was the newest addition to the Argyle Precint at The Rocks serving contemporary Japanese food. First order of our summer lunch was ordering some cocktails to cool ourselves, I think most of us chose the girly Pink Blossom a cocktail mix of summer fruits and umeshu and it was just what I wanted and I loved crunching on those passionfruit seeds. Of course after seeing Sushi Chef Shaun Presland on Masterchef we could not forgo the sashimi tacos. The crunchy sashimi tacos are delicate and I loved the fresh salsa with the tuna and the sake shot went down rather smoothly. Chirashi sushi is one of my favourite dishes to indulge in Japan, so I was curious to see what the Chirashi salad was like and it was easily my favourite dish and one of the main reasons why I’ve returned to Sake. It was a deceptively simple salad presented with lashings of mayonnaise concealing a salad of sashimi pieces and soba noodles, omelette, and the best thing about it was the tenkasu – I’ve ordered this each time I’ve been back – it’s that good.The sashimi combo was the highlight for most with delicate pieces of fresh sashimi-grades slices sitting atop a bed of ice, hehe I was so happy to see slices of bonito besides the usual salmon and tuna. Other dishes we ordered was the grilled scampi cooked prefectly so the meat was easily pulled apart from the shell and the popcorn shrimp roll filled with bite sized prawn tempura pieces. Though we had plans to have dessert at La Renaissance patisserie we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try a couple of desserts at Sake. Desserts containing tofu is not unusual in Asian cuisines so we chose the Orange Tofu Cheesecake which was presently so prettily and I really enjoyed the subtlely of flavours of the tofu and Grand Marnier. The Frozen yuzu souffle was not quite what we imagined, it was more like a mousse than a souffle but I absolutely love the yuzu flavour and the I would have happily licked the miso-ginger caramel off the plate.

I was amazed at the amount of space in the restaurant and it’s ability to cater for all types of diners as we walked past the huge private dining rooms, smaller private rooms and dined surrounded by intimate booths too. Our waiter was charming and friendly and the atmosphere in the restaurant was abuzz. Sometimes I’m a bit skeptical of fancy takes on Japanese food but I’d happily come again and again for the funky and contemporary menu of Sake and kick back with plenty of delicious cocktails. 


Sake Restaurant and Bar
 
 
The Pink Blossom
Strawberries, citrus fruits, passionfruit smashed & combined with umeshu and cranberry juice

 
Sashimi Tacos
tuna and salmon sashimi filled baby tacos with chilled tomato salsa matched with Kozaemon Junmai ‘sake shots’

 
Chirashi Salad
Yuzu-dressed sashimi pieces, crunchy salad mix, thin noodles, sliced sushi omelette & flying fish roe topped with daikon tsuma & tempura crunch

 
Sashimi combo classic

 
Grilled scampi
grilled green tea salted scampi on daikon ribbon salad with yuzu dressing

 
Popcorn roll
prawn-tempura pieces rolled inside out with spicy mayonnaise and spicy tobiko

 
Orange Tofu Cheesecake
Grand Marnier tofu cheesecake with white sesame seed tuille

 
Frozen yuzu souffle
citrus-infused souffle with miso-ginger caramel sauce

 

Sake Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

The Heart of Food Photography class at MUMU Grill

Sadly last year due to holidays I was unable to attend Billy from A Table for Two’s photography workshop so when I found out Simon from The Heart of Food would be holding a photography class, with no hesitation I (or my sugar daddy to be exact) snapped up the opportunity to attend the inaugural Food Photography class. There was no particular topic I was interested in, I just wanted to learn more about the process and thought/creativity which goes into photography. Other food bloggers in attendance were Mel, Chanel, Laura and Gaby – but there were a mix of people, I particularly admired the food technology teachers wanting to inspire their kids more by incorporating food photography into their classes.

The class was held at MUMU Grill (76 Alexander Street, Crows Nest) who served us a delicious lunch spread which made it hard for me to wait until all the photo taking was over. Must bring the steak-loving boyfriend here because the sirloin tagliatta was ahh-mazing! And the duck fat potatoes were fluffy and so goddamn tasty. Oh and I totally could have eaten the cherry tomato salad in spoonfuls it was light and refreshing and a nice to eat in between mountains of jamon serrano.

For $90 (at the time of posting) it was definitely 5hours on a Saturday very well spent! Simon was a great teacher, the class was casual and not intimidating at all – we were free to ask questions which Simon very patiently and kindly answered for us. Those that lingered back even got private lessons on specific techniques! Though Simon hasn’t got any further classes scheduled you can always register your interest by visiting The Heart of Food. I left a very happy chappy leaving the class a little more knowledgeable and a belly full of food.
Thank you once again to Simon for a great class and MUMU Grill for the delicious lunch spread!

MUMU
Grill Tapas Bar
 

 
Jamon Serrano

 
Bread with a tomato dip and a bean dip

 
Duck and Shitake Mushroom Empanadas

 
Cherry Tomato Salad Buffalo Mozarella

 
Szechuan Fried Prawns with Pickled Chilli and Soy

 
Sirloin Tagliatta with Duck Fat Potatoes and Greens

 
Organic Chicken with Maple Roasted Sweet Potato and Spinach

 

 
Dessert Platter
Hazelnut Gelato, Gingerbead and ricotta sandwich with rhubarb, Chocolate mole tart
Brown sugar pavlova with pineapple and passionfruit

 
Fruit Platter

 
 

Mumu Grill on Urbanspoon

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

Maze by Gordan Ramsay

As both of us aren’t much of Hell’s Kitchen people, we arrived with no expectations and weren’t sure of what the lunch would be like here but the beautiful light lunch we were served was a perfect way to end our stay in Melbourne. Maze located in the new Crown Metropol, was a little hard to find (the only entrance we could find was through the taxi arrivals).

Upon arrival we were served drinks while waiting in the cushy lounges while they readied our table. We opted for the 4 Course lunch for $49 and soon enough we were served complimentary bread with seaweed butter. I couldn’t really taste the seaweed but the salty butter was delicious with the bread – now I love my carbs so I always have to stop myself from eating too much bread.
Lunch was off to an amazing start, my Yellow fin tuna tartar was pretty to look at and was light and refreshing. I loved everything about this dish – the tuna was fresh, the radish gave it a crunch and yuzu how I’ve missed you. Bill’s Smoked eel and local green asparagus on a bed of pressed apple was lovely and subtle, I think I’m starting to have a taste for eel now.
The slow cooked octopus was tender and very flavorsome with the chorizo and grilled capcisum but paled in comparison to the “Tête de cochon” which Bill had for his next course. The Tête de cochon was a crispy on the outside and revealed a tender pork terrine inside which matched well with the watermelon it came atop. Both of our 3rd courses were equally amazing. I had the Pan roasted John Dory a beautiful piece of fish, the flesh was soft and flaked at the touch hidden underneath a super crispy skin. It also came with a pumpkin mash which I loved. My favourite dish of the lot though was the Crispy roast pork belly which Bill ordered. The tender pork surrounded by a beautiful dashi broth was the dish of our day. For dessert I couldn’t go past the pannacotta and chose the coconut and white chocolate pannacotta with black olive caramel which sounded unusual but I’ll give it a try. I really enjoyed eating the pannacotta with the black olive caramel and mango granita and felt the pannacotta was missing something when I finished all the caramel. It also came with a small olive and rosemary friand which I strangely enjoyed – I’ve only recently started to like olives.  The other dessert choice was the Madagascan chocolate "jaffa" which came with puffed rice YUM!

I loved the light lunch at Maze and were pleasantly surprised by the Japanese influences, which could be why it appealed to my tastes so much. Maze offers an affordable lunch in a relaxed atmosphere, an airy space with high ceilings and a lot of natural light. I’d definitely come back for lunch whenever I’m I happen to be in Melbourne next.  

 

 

 

 
complimentary bread with seaweed butter

 
Yellow fin tuna tartar
white radish, yuzu. enoki mushrooms, black garlic

 
Smoked eel and local green asparagus
orange and miso, pressed apple, crispy shallot

 
“Tête de cochon”
watermelon, kohlrabi and crispy pigs ear

 
Slow cooked octopus
chorizo, grilled capsicum, nasturtiums

 
Pan-roasted John Dory
pumpkin, piquillo pepper, spiced red wine

 
Crispy roast pork belly
calvalo nero, soybeans, dashi

 
Madagascan chocolate "jaffa"
bayleaf sherbet, mandarin marmalade, black rice

NOT AN EGG – ITS THE SHERBET

 
Coconut and white chocolate pannacotta
mango and black olive caramel

 
 

Maze Melbourne on Urbanspoon

Ms.G’s

Having to decline a lunch date with these girls and reading about the great food they had, I was all the more keen to try Ms.G’s as soon as I got back from my holiday, so I jumped at the opportunity to head there to celebrate a friends birthday. Well aware of Ms.G’s (155 Victoria St Potts Point) having a no bookings policy we arrived early at 630pm on a Saturday night and were seated immediately on the middle level with a view of the city lights across the water. Taking in the surroundings, the quirkyness of the restaurant catches my eyes, the graffiti on the walls, the hanging hessian ropes and I’m excited to hear Grease playing in the background – it’s going to be a fun night.

 
We decided to each choose a dish to share amongst ourselves but first we need drinks – one of the main reasons we decided to come here. Ah yes, the asian in me could not resist the packaged Pina ‘pearls’ Colada – you can’t go wrong with alcohol and pearls. The boys both went for Ms.G’s Famous Yuzu Slushee which we found it best to drink it fast or it melts and you’re left with a strong taste of vodka.
The Mini bánh mì were the first to arrive filled with crisp pork belly, a tangy sauce and fresh herbs they were deliciously moreish! Surprisingly we were served a very generous amount of plump sea scallops with guacamole. I liked the braised wagyu beef shin the least, though the beef was very tender I found it lacked some oomph and was a bit bland for me. My favourite dish of the night looked the simplest – the egg noodles with XO sauce and braised duck. The XO sauce was flavoursome and I especially loved breaking the egg yolk and mixing the ooze into the noodles which brought it all together. I also really enjoyed the fried baby chicken though when it first arrived I was a little shocked at small they were, but I pushed it to the back of my mind so I could enjoy it and enjoy it I did, amazingly the skin was really crispy, the meat was succulent and it was not oily at all!!
For dessert I chose the "Stoner’s Delight" which arrived as a hot mess of all things sweet. I loved scraping every last bit of the peanut brittle and had to fight Bill off the doughnut ice cream, but it all got a little too sweet for us in the end. I also found the marshmallows were light but had a more wet consistency which was an interesting texture to eat. The others were more sensible and chose the Pandan chiffon cake, had I known it came atop a mountain of sago I probably would have ordered this too as it was refreshing with the sorbet and strawberries.

Not surprisingly the fun theme continued into the bathrooms with huge metal buckets as sinks and vintage taps and where the walls were plastered with old brown newspaper clippings and even recipes…I recall reading a Japanese Egg Salad recipe while I was there. I loved the vibe of Ms.G’s and it would be a great place to catch up with friends, just make sure you arrive early because as we left we found it was a super full house.

Ms G’s
  
Asian mothers are the best mothers

  
  
  

Pina ‘Pearls’ Colada – Appleton VX & Havana Club Blanco rum, pineapple, coconut, yogurt sorbet, green pearls
Ms.G’s Famous Yuzu Slushee – Limoncello, Russian Standard vodka, yuzu juice, Regan’s orange bitter
teehee…anyone else find it dirty stabbing her mouth with a straw as indicated?

  
Mini bánh mì with crisp pork belly

  
Sea scallop, jícama, guacamole, finger lime

  
Egg noodles with XO sauce, braised duck, soft poached egg – YUMYUMYUM

  
Braised Wagyu beef shin “Hue Style”, konnyaku noodles, lemongrass, chilli broth

  
Fried baby chicken (whole) and Kimchi Mayonnaise

  
“Stoner’s Delight” doughnut ice cream, chocolate, rice bubble, pretzel, peanut brittle, marshmallow

  
Pandan chiffon cake, strawberries, coconut sorbet

  
  
 

Ms G's on Urbanspoon

Greenhouse by Joost

On gorgeous days such as today I find myself craving, fresh, light and simple foods much like the beautiful lunch we had at Greenhouse by Joost. Sadly Greenhouse by Joost has moved and is no longer situated on Campbells Cove against the backdrop of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. It was a pop-up restaurant within a shipping container which aims to create no waste. An interesting idea and a great concept – the chairs are made from aluminum irrigation pipes and leather off cuts, drinks are served in recycled jars and water in wine bottles, sustainable using fresh produce and waste is composted. Reflecting on the service we received at Quay also reminded me of the sincere apology we received when we dined at Greenhouse by Joost earlier in the year, which made a huge difference in our mood.

We find the huge orange building covered in greenery at 1030am and find that the restaurant is already a buzz with the lively chatter of customers. We’re promptly seated where we have a view of the Harbour Bridge and where we receive plenty of natural light. I especially loved the flower in the glass jars with our table number written on it. There are no menus when we arrive, however the walls are littered with words from the dinner menu. Our waitress kindly explains to us what’s on offer for breakfast this morning as all foods are made on the premises including breads. I choose the cinnamon donut and a cappuccino and Bill goes for the breakfast bar and a "jar" of freshly squeezed orange juice. Not long after our drinks arrive, however after 45 minutes our drinks were empty and we were still waiting for our food. We feel pretty guilty as we sat at our table for nearly an hour with no food on the table, while a line forms outside the restaurant in the rain as they huddle under their umbrellas. After an hour of waiting our waitress comes to our table, kneels down talking to us at eye level, sincerely apologised and explained our order got lost and never went through so she would try and get our food to us asap. It seems as thought we weren’t the only people who’s orders were forgotten as she starts to make the rounds around the restaurant – the table next to us chuck a tantrum, devour the food and leave. Finally our waitress brings out our food and offers me another cappuccino and advises that our breakfast this morning would be complimentary.
Since it was nearing the lunch service we ask the waitress if we could just stay for the lunch service and she was more than happy to accomodate for us and our lunch is served soon after we place our orders. I ordered the seared mullet where the skin was perfectly crisp and the flesh was soft and moist served with sweet, juicy tomatoes on a plank of wood. Bill went for a lighter lunch ordering the wood roasted baby carrots, beetroots and pistachios with some labne. The carrots and beetroots were caramelised bringing out the sweetness of the vegetables, while the labne gave it a touch of sourness and the pistachios added texture.
 
Normally we would have been pretty pissed that we had to wait an hour for breakfast to arrive, but for some strange reason we both felt pretty calm, content and at peace. I’m not sure whether that could be attributed to the positive concept that Greenhouse by Joost promotes or whether the simple and gorgeous dishes just made us super super happy. Nevertheless we had an enjoyable morning together. If only Greenhouse by Joost was a permanent addition to our harbour, it would be a great place to bring friends visiting from overseas and also bringing a positive awareness to the community.

Greenhouse by Joost
  

  

Fresh squeezed orange juice $5

  
Cinnamon donut & Breakfast Bar

  
Wood roasted baby carrots, beetroots and pistachio $16

  
Seared mullet and mixed tomato salad $26
  
 

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