Saturday, 30 October 2010

District Dining, Surry Hills

Whilst most of Sydneysiders are probably flocking to the Sydney Food & Wine Fair in Hyde Park today, we decided it's way to warm of a weather to be lining up and get squashed around for food hehehee :P
District Dining is on my list of new places to try out since I read a review of it on  The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry's blog. 
This bistro style restaurant is located close to Central Station and it is a new venture by Assiette's Warren Turnbull.
Assiette is still on the top of my list of places with excellent quality of food and great value, so I'm very excited to try out his new venture.

Bistro-ish interior of District Dining

The restaurant was quite empty on this Saturday lunch time, beside us there were only 2 other couples that were there.
Which is not too surprising as District Dining has just opened it's door on 20th October and hardly anyone knows about this place. 
Before I whipped out my camera, I asked the manager for permission and she asked whether I have a blog or something as last week there was another blogger taking lots of photos - that must be The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry LOL
I told her then that it was because of her post that I found out about this place, and funnily enough the next couple that came in was there because of the blog as well.
So thank you miss Lee Tran Lam for discovering this new place :)

Menu ; Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Sea Salt ;
Sparkling Water ; Napkin & Cutleries

The dishes here are very reasonably priced, with entree prices ranging from $14 - $18 and mains $22 - $24. 
The manager advised that the menu are designed to be shared, so she suggested perhaps around 4 dishes to share between the 2 of us. 
So we chose 2 entrees ( tuna & veal)  and 2 mains (pork and steak) and then she paired the veal & pork to come first, then the tuna and steak to follow later. 
I think that's a great idea to pace ourselves.

Bread Basket $3.00

We also ordered some bread to calm our grumbling tummies while we wait for the food. The bread rolls arrived warm and the smell of freshly baked bread was just intoxication. There were 2 types of rolls in the basket, white and wholemeal. Both were delicious dipped with the olive oil then sprinkled with a little salt, but my preference would be the wholemeal roll.

Veal Tongue, Pickled Turnip, Salsa Verde & Almonds $16.00

I don't think I've ever had tongue cooked as tender as these - they are amazingly soft and melts in your mouth !!
It has a lovely chargrilled flavour that goes really well with the salsa verde and the almonds. The little cube of pumpin was sweet and the pickled turnip has very nice crisp texture.
This was the best one out the 4 savoury dishes we had today, wonder if they can make it as a main size ?
A plate full of tender veal tongue would be heaven....

Pork Belly, Fennel Salt, Lime & Kimchi  $22.00

Yes, I know what you are thinking, "Look at that chunk of fatty pork belly, OMG!" - something like that I assume ?
We had the same thought too but thankfully that white part was white meat. The pork belly was lean with only a little bit of fatty layer, despite it being a lean piece it was still tender and full of flavour. 
I would have liked the fennel flavour to stand out more though, it only provided a very subtle hint in this dish. Any pork crackling will always be good, wished it was more crisp as it already had the right level of saltiness.
The combination of kimchi and pork belly reminds me of a Korean dish which name just escaped my mind at the moment :P

Our small sharing plates and cutleries were cleared and replaced with a new set, ready for the next lot of foods :)

Marinated Tuna, Wasabi Pannacotta, Soy Bean & Daikon  $16.00

On hindsight, perhaps this entree should have been the first one up instead of the veal tongue. 
This dish has a very delicate flavours which almost become bland to us after the rich dishes we just had.
The wasabi pannacotta was more dollops of wasabi mayonaisse, it didn't have the gelled texture of a pannacotta. 
Micro shiso (perilla leaves) added a nice peppery taste to the delicate tuna. 
Although I believe this dish would have had more impact if we had had it first up, it does act as a palate cleanser as it was a very refreshing dish.

Hopkins River Sirloin, Green Harissa, Kipfler Potatoes  $24.00

The piece of steak arrived on a wooden board like the pork belly dish, resting on a striking green harissa paste and a small copper pot sitting next to it.

Kipfler Potatoes ; Sirloin 

The sirloin unfortunately was slightly overcooked, it was quite chewy and sinewy. The green harissa paste was delicious and so was the tasty kipfler potatoes in the pot. 

Allpress Coffee $4.00

Of course we couldn't made a pass on the dessert menu and I ordered a cup of coffee for me as I haven't had my daily caffeine fix yet. 

As we just had quite rich dishes , we chose the more fruity desserts from the quartet of desserts on the menu.
If sweet stuffs are not your thing, they also have cheese platter served with quince jelly.

Strawberries, Raspberries, Meringue & Vanila Cream   $12.00

A fancy version of Eton mess :) On the base you have the not overly sweet and slightly chewy meringue pieces, topped with quartered juicy and sweet strawberries, then a very generous topping of vanilla cream mixed with strawberries and last but not least, the refreshing raspberry sorbet.
Forget about the calories and just enjoy this delicious plate of dessert - hey, it's not so bad after all , it has dairy and fruits, so you got 2 out of the 5 food groups :)

Buttermilk Pannacotta with Blood Orange Granita $12.00

How cute is that !!! The buttermilk pannacotta came in a jar !! Too cutee !!
Open up the lid, and voila !

Blood Orange Granita

The bold red colour of the blood orange granita on top of a creamy white pannacotta - simple yet amazing.
The pannacotta was creamy, perhaps a tad too set but it was still delicious. I love the blood orange granita as its citrusy and slightly bitter taste helps cuts back the creaminess.
Deliciousness in a jar :)

We were very impressed with the desserts, a perfect end to our lunch today !

Colourful District Map

There was definite the influence of Warren Turnbull's cooking here, the presentation is simple yet striking and the flavours are cleverly combined and delicate to the palate. 
The service is not as formal as it is in Assiette of course, more relaxed and friendly. Not to mention the excellent price for the quality of food that was served, value for money indeed. 
To me it's like dining in a fine dining restaurant but without the usual price tags :)
One bonus for me is that they are open on Saturday for lunch, something that I missed from other eateries as most would only be open for lunch on weekdays or fridays only :)

District Dining on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 28 October 2010

SIFF 2010 Special Dinner - Bistrode & Moreau 100 Mile Dinner @ Bistrode CBD, Sydney CBD

I have been curious about the recently opened Bistrode CBD, a new restaurant by the Merivale Group , occupying the space of what used to be Bistro CBD. 
When I, life is 2 mu(n)ch and her mom were in the elevator on our way up, she asked "Do you think Howard would still be here ?".
If you remember, we dined here back in May when it was still Bistro CBD and have such fun night thanks to the wonderful Howard Flannagan, the maître d' extraordinaire  :)

As we stepped into the restaurant, I spotted Howard manning the floor. I wasn't too sure if he would still be there since there is a new chef in the kitchen, Jeremy Strode from the acclaimed restaurant Bistrode in Surry Hills.  
Chef Jeremy Strode is well known for his interpretation of modern British cuisine, I'm excited to see what we will have tonight.

Tonight's special dinner was a collaboration between Jeremy Strode and the Merivale Group's sommelier, Franck Moreau. Unfortunately none of us were having alcohol with our meal tonight, so we missed out on the sommelier's wine / beer pairing with each course.
All of the ingredients used in the 5 course dinner is sourced locally within 100 mile, hence the name of the event. 

Diamond Creek Olive Oil & Iggy's Sourdough 

To start off the 100 mile dinner, we had Iggy's sourdough and the golden Diamond Creek Olive Oil.
The extra virgin olive oil had this intense yet pleasant green olive taste and perfect for dipping the sourdough into.

Salted Blue - Cod Croquette & Tomato Ketchup

The golden croquette arrived piping hot with very creamy innards, very salty if eaten on its own, but paired with the sweet tomato ketchup and peppery rocket you get the right balance of the flavours.

Sand Whiting, Sydney Rock Oysters, Young Leeks & Peas

The sand whiting was done very well, the flesh was velvety while crisp on the outside. The Sydney Rock oysters we found to be very salty and we just couldn't figure out why as it was fresh oysters, not those pickled in brine (at least we don't think it is).
The young leeks were tender and the peas were bursting with sweetness. The accompanying buttery white wine vinegar sauce complemented the whole dish.

Warm Thirlmere Duck Salad

When the plate arrived, all you see is green - where are the ducks ? 
Move aside some leaves and the warm duck pieces were unravelled ! 
It was not until I start eating the dish that I realized there were many different part of the duck was used in this salad. 
There were shredded thigh meat, crispy duck skin, smoked duck breast and the unusual duck gizzards !
I'm not a big fan of offal so I was very surprised that I liked the gizzard, it was quite tender and have quite rich flavour. 
The salad just had the right balance of something rich as the duck and the freshness of the salad. 

Melanda Park Pork Three Ways , Pino's Black Sausage & Silverbeet

Firstly , I apologize for the blurry photo, I was distracted by the cheeky Howard who placed his palm in front of the lens as I was about to take the shot  LOL
Obviously I forgot to retake the shot again :P

Try to focus on the photo....don't you think the plating of the dish resembles a love heart ? 
Love Pork !!

Shoulder ; Loin


The Melanda Park pork was served three ways in form of grilled pork loin, roasted pork shoulder and deep fried pig ears. 
The grilled pork loin was very juice and tender, although we cut off what some might think is the best part of the dish, the thick layer of pork fat on the side. 
The roasted shoulder was tender as well and served with some pork jus. 
The best part of this dish would have to be the crispy fried, thinly sliced pig's ear. 
They were so moorish...we moved them to one side of the plate where it's dry so we can enjoy it last. Imagine eating a bowl of this as snack...mmmmmm.....
Last but not least is the delicious black sausage from Pino Butchery in Kogarah. Black sausage is made from congealed pig's blood , gross I know but you should try it at least one and be the judge of it yourself. Get over the "blood" part and I think you would grow to like it :)
Pino's black sausage is quite different as they have mixed plump muscatel grapes in the sausage, so you get a lovely burst of sweetness from it amongst the strong spices aroma. 

Mulberry Soup & Paesanella Mascarpone Sorbet

People says not to judge a book by it's cover, it can't get more accurate than that with the last dish for the night.
It looked very simple, a scoop of white sorbet in a pool of deep purple mulberry soup but the taste took me by surprise, it was ah-ma-zing !!
The mulberry soup was sweet but still have the slight tartness of the berry and very refreshing. Partnered with a creamy mascarpone sorbet, it was a match made in heaven.
It was unanimously voted as the best dish of the night along with the pork dish :)

Bistrode CBD

It was great to see that we don't have to travel too far to find fresh produce with high quality as Jeremy Strode has shown us tonight. 
The foods did take a while to come out between courses as they seemed to be trying to serve the dishes to all tables at more or less the same time. 
I've been into the kitchen before and it was tiny :) The kitchen would have been running at full capacity on a special night like this. 

Thanks again to a wonderful hospitality by Howard and our waiter for the night whose name I did not get, sorry :P

Bistrode &  Moreau 100 Mile Dinner was held on Wed, 27th October 2010 @ Bistrode CBD
$90pp for 5 course meals , $145pp with matching wine/beer.
Bistrode on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Savichees, Pyrmont

It was Sunday and it was raining like crazy !!  We just can't be bothered to go to far to grab a quick lunch before our Japanese Tea Ceremony in North Ryde ( next post ).
Then I remembered that there is a new cafe that has just recently opened that is just a stroll down the road.
Savichees is located in the ground floor of an apartment block in the Jackson's Landing residential area, facing the water by the Pirrama Park ( used to be the Water Police Site).
As soon as the rain subsided, we made a quick dash to the cafe and luckily it only started to rain again as we sat inside, warm and dry.

Campos Coffees

They serve Campos coffee here and it was nicely done too. The flavour was very smooth and rounded, perfect.
I think I've found another place to grab my caffeine fix on the way to work in the morning :)

Barramundi Fillet, Baby Fennel, Tomato, Spring Onions, Sauce Vierge 

Though their all day breakfast menu sounded delicious, we were quite hungry so we need something more substantial, so we ordered from the lunch specials. 
My cousin's order of barramundi fillet was delicious. The fish was nicely pan seared and the fish was not overcooked, it was silky and sweet. 
The sauce vierge a.k.a. virgin sauce, is actually a French sauce made from olive oil, lemon juice, chopped tomato & chopped basil (though I don't see basil here). The ingredients were then allowed to infuse into the oil before being traditionally served with shellfish or white fleshed fish with delicate flavours, like the barramundi in this occasion.
Quite interesting to see a French sauce used in a tapas place isn't it ?

Fresh Linguini , Smoked Chicken, Chorizo, Mushroom & Baby Spinach 

The fresh pasta was  nicely done, there was a right balance of flavours and no extra salt and pepper was required.
There was something tangy in the sauce, lemon juice perhaps ? Though it may looked as if there isn't enough of the other stuffs to go with the pasta, there was just the right ratio of the pasta to the proteins.
The portion was quite big for me, I was only up to half the plate and I started to feel full. Didn't stopped me from polishing off the plate thought :)

Since I moved into this area 10 years ago, I think I've seen 3 other cafes that has come and gone.
Hope Savichees is here to stay as they serve great coffee & lunch though I'm yet to try their dinner tapas :)

Savichees is open for breakfast and lunch 7 days a week. 
Tapas dinner is on Wed - Sun from 6 - 10pm.

Savichees Cafe.Bar.Tapas on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Dinner at Grethe's House - Århus, Denmark

Huge Sunflower

(post from September work trip to Denmark)

Day 2 of our meeting in Denmark ended with a home cooked dinner by our other colleague , this time still in the town of Århus.  
Grethe and her husband lived in a cosy cottage house just a little bit outside of town and we were greeted by tall sunflowers in front of her house - hi sunflower ! 
So nice to see something bright and summery on another gloomy autumn evening in Denmark :)

I'll let the pictures do the talking in this post otherwise this would end up being a super long post and you guys will get bored with my "narration" :P

By the entrance door 

A functioning fire place ; Flowers and Danish flags everywhere

Lounge Area

Second house I've been into in Denmark and once again I felt as if I've stepped into a display house.
The Danes really know how to style their home !! Loved every little things that they placed randomly around the house, see below :

Birdies ! ; Just like store display don't u think ? ; Colourful bull ; Angel & Witch 

Apple wedges & dip ; Wine ; Grapes

Grethe has an organic garden growing in her backyard, the apples were picked fresh from the garden and served with a beetroot hommus dip - so healthy and refreshing.

Prepping in the kitchen 

We, the overseas visitors were shooed away by our Danish colleagues from the kitchen LOL
Since we are not allowed to help them prep in the kitchen, we ventured out into the backyard and snooped around :)
Picked some juicy and sweet plums off the trees and just taking photos of things around the garden.

Snail: "I'm almost there oh green parsley" ; Red currants growing by the wall ;
Juicy Plums ; Pretty lil green tomatoes

Grethe draining the lamb

We stepped back into the warm house just in time for the lamb to come out from the oven :)
Look at that leg of lamb - HUGE !! It was simply roasted in the oven with sprigs of rosemary, the wafting smell was amazing.

Drained lamb fat >__< ;

Tzatziki in the making

Anne-Marie who was in charge of making the tzatziki simply loves her garlic...perhaps a tad too much.
She put all of those raw garlic into the bowl of yoghurt and shredded cucumber. Needless to say we came to the meeting with garlic breath the next day *minties moment*.

Table is all set 

Homemade Grissini ; Meat & Cheese Platter

Truly, nothing beats home made and freshly baked grissini with bacon bits and thyme...sooo sooo gooooddd....
We had it with some mini salami, hams, sausages and cheese.

Another loaf of homemade & freshly baked loaf of bread
Cherry Tomato & Onion Salad

I ate so much bread that night, just can't stop eating them :P Another loaf of freshly baked bread was served during the dinner. 
The salad of cherry tomatoes, spanish onions, dukkah, balsamic vinger and olive oil was simple but delicious and refreshing. 
Perfect to go with the rich lamb roast. 

Roast Leg of Lamb & Potatoes

As you would already know, I don't usually eat lamb as I found the smell too strong.
Thankfully the lamb was done well that the smell was barely noticeable, partly masked by the aromatic rosemary as well I think. 
Add a dollop of garlic loaded tzatziki and a scoop of tomato salad and you get a hearty and delicious home cooked meal :)

During the dinner, I asked the others, what would be a traditional Danish meal, since we had a Greek feast at Grethe's and Western feast at Eva's the night before.
There was no clear answer LOL 
I suppose it's as if you asked "What would be a traditional Australian meal?" - hmm....meat pie ?

Dessert Time

For dessert, we have this dessert that I didn't get the name of so I'll just describe it here.
It was 2 disc of hazelnut meringue, sandwiched with fresh cream, whipped with some plum compote. 
Served with some fresh berries, scoop of vanilla ice cream and vanilla plum compote
Yep, you guessed it, the plums were picked from the garden :)
Love the crunchy, chewy and nutty meringue and the simple flavours of plum, berries and fresh cream.

Thanks to Grethe and her husband for welcoming us to their lovely home. It was actually her husband's birthday that day and he had to cook for us ! 
So as a thank you, we all sang him "Happy Birthday" ala Chinese, Brazilian, English and Danish.
No Indonesian version as I don't want to make them cringe on my non-existent singing skill , plus I'm from Australia, so it's English ! (any excuse will do to avoid singing really :P)

Monday, 25 October 2010

SIFF 2010 Sugar Hit - Sheraton On The Park, Sydney CBD

Conservatory Bar @ Sheraton On The Park

Okay, I lied, the Sugar Hit at Azuma Kushiyaki was not the last one this year hehehe :P
After seeing mademoiselle délicieuse's post on the one at Sheraton , I just had to try it or I'm gonna regret it forever !

It was Sunday night and when we rocked up to the Gallery Tea Lounge (where it was supposed to be held at) there was no sign of it being open.
Lost and confused, I went up to the concierge desk with both concierges busy tending other guests' needs. After waiting for a good 10 minutes, finally a kind bell boy asked if he could help.
Unfortunately he had no idea on what Sugar Hit is 0_o
So he did a search on the net and advised us the Sugar Hit is at Bungalow 8 on King Street Wharf o_0

You can tell at this stage I was getting annoyed and confused, I even went behind the desk and trying to help him do the search. 
It was at this point that the receptionist finally told the bell boy that the Sugar Hit has been relocated to the Conservatory Bar on the first floor.
Super annoyed !! I'm not blaming the bell boy who had tried to help but annoyed at the others for not helping him until I get behind the desk *arrghh*

Conservatory Bar & Brown Brother's Orange, Muscat & Flora

I braved myself tonight and give the dessert wine a go instead of swopping it with something else.
HUGE mistake ! I only drank less than half of the content on the glass and I was red as a boiled lobster !
And today, I'm coping it, scratching like a monkey the whole day in the office.....welcome to my world of alcohol allergy *sad*

Tropical Tonka Bean Pannacotta on Boysenberry & Finger Lime Infused Compote
w/ Crisp Almond Chocolate Biscotti

Originally I though I would get the standard pannacotta, but instead it was more of a pannacotta gateaux.
There was an alternate layer of very soft vanilla sponge and tonka bean pannacotta, it would have been perfect IF only it was sweet.
Both me and my cousin agreed that the cake was bland - like "Oops! I forgot to add sugar" bland. I suppose the dessert wine is already sweet, but having dessert that is not sweet is just wrong.

Gold dusted almond ; Layered cake

We couldn't taste the finger lime at all in the boysenberry compote, it just tasted like the berry.
The biscotti was quite nice though, chocolatey and super crispy.

Sheraton's Sugar Hit offering this year may be pleasing to the eyes but not to the taste buds :(

After having 7 Sugar Hits this year ( record for me !!), my favourite would have to be the one at Guylian and Shangri-La.

I hope next year's offerings would be more interesting ^_^

Conservatory Bar on Urbanspoon