Sunday, 30 January 2011

Cafe Giulia, Chippendale

Inside Cafe Giulia

Finding a cafe that was open during the past christmas and new year break is not easy -___-;
Took a few weeks off last year during the holiday season and the plan was to take my parents and uncle who were visiting for breakfast at Brasserie Bread.
Silly me for not checking in advance, so of course the place was closed for the end of year break :(

After almost an hour driving around, finally remembered Cafe Giulia !
You have no idea how ecstatic I was when I saw them open - I was hungry and sick of driving around aimlessly by this stage.

Outdoor Seating Area

The cafe is located along Abercrombie Street, which is more Ultimo than Chippendale if you ask me. 
It is strategically located near several universities, such as UTS, Notre Dame and Sydney University, not to mention it is also within walking distance from the students only apartment, Unilodge :)

There are may to choose from the menu written on the blackboard, and the prices are very reasonable as the serving size is generous.
Trying to pick from the long list of options from the blackboard can be a daunting task as I believe they do not have a paper menu.
Imagine the people lining behind you while you are trying to make up your mind *yikes*

Since my parents could not be bothered to read the menu, they just left it up to me to order for them (this is a very common thing when I dine out with them ).

Coffee $3.00

A cup of coffee is of course in order, if you are a big coffee drinker you can have them in mugs for $3.50 or in a bowl for just $5.00.
The first time I came to Cafe Giulia, I ordered the coffee in a bowl - it was as big as soup bowl 0_o
No wonder the girl was smiling when she took my order...

Spinach, Feta & Onion Omelette
w/ Rye Sourdough Toast

There are several omelette filling choices on the menu, I chose the spinach, feta & onion for my mom, and the chorizo & parmesan for my dad and uncle. They looked pretty much the same from the outside so I didn't took a separate shot for the chorizo & parmesan :)
The omelette was huge ! It filled up the whole big plate and served with rye sourdough toast and lightly dressed salad.

French Toast w/ Grilled Banana, Crispy Bacon, Mascarpone & Maple Syrup

Isn't that such a beautiful sight ? *sigh*
My favourite brunch food - french toast, banana, bacon and maple syrup - and Cafe Giulia's is still the best one I've ever had in Sydney.
The portion was generous, the french toast was nicely done, pudding like centre and crispy caramelized on the outside. 
The banana was so sweet and the bacon crispy, drenched with lots and lots of maple syrup !! 
Don't forget the mascarpone too :)
It is perhaps not the healthiest breakfast or brunch option out there, but hey, life is too short to worry about such thing right ? (yeah right..... :P)

Polished Plate ^_^

My cousin who frowned upon the idea on mixing sweet and savoury in the one plate was converted by the time she polished off her plate - yippee \^o^/
Now...who else can I convert into The Fellowship of French Toast, Bacon & Maple Syrup - any takers ??

Cafe Giulia is open from Tue - Fri from 6.30am - 4.00pm , Sat & Sun from 8.00am - 3.00pm.
They are closed on Mondays and long weekends.  

Bench by the street

Cafe Giulia on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Chophouse, Sydney CBD

Old New York steakhouse vibe

Chophouse is the sister restaurant of Kingsley's Steak House, located in the business district in Sydney CBD.
Last I dined here was back in June 2009 - didn't realize it had been that long !!
So when Sarah Ashmore from Pacific Restaurant Group invited me to dine at Chophouse, I was very much looking forward to it and managed to "drag" a more than willing friend to come along ^_^ 

Rustic Decor

The concept of Chophouse is to bring the good quality meats, seafood and big salads (they are not joking about big salad here, as you will see later in the post) to Sydneysiders.
I love how rustic the decor is, inspired by old New York steakhouses with cosy and private booths covered in distressed leather, while recycled timber and iron clad walls were used throughout the dining room. 

Table Setting & Seasonal Specials

It was midweek when we dined at Chophouse, so as expected the restaurant was packed with suit cladded businessmen and women, winding down in the outdoor bar area or having dinner with colleagues inside.
We were greeted at the front desk by the very happy Aaron who brought us to our booth. 
Not long after, the charming and very knowledgeable Adrian came over explaining their new Summer specials and the regular a la carte menu. 

Lychee, Lemongrass & Ginger Mocktail ; Kirin Beer 

The lovely Sarah remembered that I'm allergic to alcohol, so she has arranged with the bar to whip up a mocktail for me ! Thanks very much for remembering ! \^o^/
The bartender made a non-alcoholic concoction of lychee, fresh lemongrass and fresh ginger, mixed with  lemonade. 
I must say...this had to be the most delicious mocktail I've ever had so far - the blend of the exotic flavours worked so well together to create a very refreshing drink. As the night goes by, the lemongrass and ginger continued to infuse into the drink - delicious !
My friend (who can drink alcohol obviously), had a cold crisp glass of Kirin Beer instead.

Sourdough Bread & Butter ; Dining Tables

We took longer than usual to decide on what to order, luckily Adrian was there to the rescue :)
He suggested perhaps a choice of starter and a chopped salad to start with, and then he explained some of the favourites from the chops and meat selection. 
I was tossing between choosing one of the steak or the Glazed Beef Short Rib that has been cooked for 3 days in a special sauce, then further braised for 6 hours - imagine how tender the meat would be *drool*.

S & P

It was a lovely surprises when Executive Chef, David Clarke, popped out from his busy kitchen to say hello :D
He has been heading the kitchen since the restaurant was first opened back in August 2008. 
Under the supervision of Chef David, the restaurant was chosen as the National Winner for Favourite Steak by the cable TV's Lifestyle Food "I Love Foods 2010 Award" - which was a great award as the winner is selected by votes from regular diners throughout Australia - well done ^_^

Ceviche of Hiramasa Kingfish
European Radish, Organic Flowers & Avruga Caviar

When I saw this dish on the menu, I knew I just had to order it as it sounded pretty hehehe :P
As you can see, it is indeed a pretty dish - actualy....VERY pretty !
The organic flowers added such vibrancy to the dish and looked how neatly laid out were the thinly sliced discs of the European radish.

More prettiness shot...

The Hiramasa Kingfish were as fresh as you can get them, sweet and firm textured. It was served on a bed of light lemon mayonnaise and the crunchy radishes add texture to the dish.
Love the peppery flavour of micro shiso (Japanese perilla) and the random burst of saltiness from the black pearls of Avruga caviar.
It was a perfect summery starter - rich yet light and refreshing (also pretty ^_*).

Crisp Pork Belly & Sea Scallop 
Chinese Cabbage, Coriander, Pea Shoots & Soy Vinaigrette

Like I said earlier, they are not just saying it when they say "big salad" was a mountain of salad !!
As recommended by Adrian, we ordered the most popular chopped salad in the house, the one that people would return for just to have it. 
While I was busy taking (endless) shots of the kingfish ceviche dish, my friend had the first mouthful of the salad and the next thing I heard was "Mmm......" and followed by humming and singing of Disney's Aladdin's "A Whole New World" - ROFL !

After the unexpected singing performance, I just had to put away my camera and scooped some onto my plate...

Three words : Yum..Yum...Yum

I didn't burst into singing but I must agree, it was delicious !!! 
The crispy pork belly was packed with flavours with nicely caramelized skin and the scallop was done very well, still slightly pink in the centre and sweet. 
It was an Asian themed salad with finely shredded chinese cabbage, coriander, pea shoots, marinated sliced shiitake mushrooms, fried shallots, soba noodles and fried wonton chips. 
The dressing was delicious, a blend of rice vinegar, mirin, seeded mustard and sesame.
This is definitely a must order dish if you dine here at Chophouse - perhaps you will burst into singing and dancing ?
It is a big serving of salad though, so best to be shared between 3 - 4 people , the two of us were struggling to finish it :)

Rib Cage Ceiling ^_^
Scotch & Dry

While waiting for our main, my friend ordered a Scotch & Dry - a cocktail of scotch whisky and ginger ale. He said it was a very well mixed Scotch & Dry , very smooth.
Thumbs up for the mocktail and thumbs up for the cocktail too !

F1 Wagyu Tenderloin MB 5+ (250g) , QLD
Maitre d' Butter & Pomme Puree

Now...for something more filling and well...meaty ^_^
Decided to pass on the short rib this time and go for the recommended F1 QLD Wagyu Tenderloin with Marble Score 5+ - melt in your mouth fat...hmmmm....
It's a 250g cut which was just the perfect portion size, cooked medium rare and topped with cubes of Café de Paris butter - butter blended with a long list of spices, sauces and herbs. The heat from the steak melts the butter overtime and it just lifted up the already flavourful piece of wagyu tenderloin. Served with a side of pomme puree.

Double Double Lamb Chops ( 2 x 180g) , Margaret River - WA
Mint Jelly

My friend loves his lamb, so I knew that he was gonna order the lamb chops at the end (after tossing between steak or lamb, steak or lamb - predictable).
Each of the perfectly trimmed and shaped lamb chops weighs 180g and came from the Margaret River in WA. 
The lamb were ordered to be cooked medium to well and served with a side of mint jelly.
I had a bite of the lamb (for tasting purposes only), though the lamb flavour is still too strong for me, it had a really nice caramelized crust and was surprisingly tender considering how it was requested to be cooked. The mint jelly added more sweetness to the lamb, I liked it better with as it does mask the strong lamb flavour a bit ^_^
As expected, the meat was quite red still towards the bone, but was still bearable for my friend.

Medium Rare Tenderloin ; Medium - Well Done Lamb Chops

Both of our orders were cooked as we have requested them, mine was medium rare just how I like it, still red in the middle.
The lamb as mentioned early was also done well, cooked well done but still retains its tenderness and juiciness. 

Baby Spinach
Labna & Lemon Confit Vinaigrette

Ordered a couple of sides as Adrian suggested to go with our meat. 
Needed something green to balance out the meal - the baby spinach was lightly wilted and then tossed with crunchy cucumber, crumbles of labna cheese, olives then dressed with tangy and zesty lemon confit vinaigrettee.
A perfect accompaniment to the rich mains.

Potato Puree
Victorian Dutch Creams

The potato puree was nice though perhaps too much cream or butter in it, it was a tad too rich and perhaps could be smoother as it was also a little bit grainy.

Skipped tea and coffee but can't say no to desserts of course ^_^

House Churned Dark Chocolate Ice Cream
w/ Hot Chocolate & Honeycomb

I must say, my friend's tummy needs more training, he couldn't fit anything much more than a scoop of ice cream -___-; Which I end up polishing off not underestimate the expanding stomach space of a foodie !! (or perhaps I should be embarrased instead ? LOL).
The choices for ice creams on the night were chocolate, vanilla and apple and also 3 choices for the sorbets which I cannot remember anymore *sorry*.
The dark chocolate ice cream was very smooth and rich, didn't really need the extra chocolate sauce though extra sweetness from the crunchy honeycomb doesn't hurt :) 

Alpine Strawberries & Cream
Vanilla Panna Cotta, Strawberries & Young Coconut Granita

Obviously I chose this dessert because it sounded like it's gonna be a pretty one :P
Served in a glass were a layer of creamy vanilla panna cotta, a layer of strawberry jelly, topped with macerated strawberries and last but not least a final capping of snow like young coconut granita.

Snow in A Glass

The young coconut granita was the highlight of the dessert, it tasted just like the real stuff, except it's ice and very refreshing. 
It may looked like a rich dessert but the flavours were so light and there were just the right proportion of each components. 

Chophouse Swiss Milk Chocolate Block
(photo from visit back in 2009)

If you are just after something simple to finish off your meal, there are Chophouse Swiss Milk Chocolate blocks on the menu as well - served on a chopping block with your own cleaver to hack away !!
We didn't get one on this visit, so the above photo were from when I dined here in 2009. 
There seems to be more flavours now on the menu : caramelized hazelnuts, rocky road and jaffa top deck.

I remembered having an enjoyable meal when I dined at Chophouse a few years back when they have their special roast dinner. 
Not being biased because I was invited to dine here this time round, but the foods seems to have stepped up a few notches :) 
Everything we had that night were delicious and the presentation were perfect (few pretty ones :D).
The drinks that came out from the bar were wonderful as well, both the alcoholic and the non - alcoholic ones.
The service was friendly and courteous and the staffs do know their stuffs.
Special thanks to Aaron & Adrian for looking after us, Chef David for preparing the delicious meals and Sarah for the invitation. 

We had a wonderful dining experience and went home with full stomachs and smiles ^_^

Love My Foods & Sugar dined as guest of Chophouse, courtesy of Sarah Ashmore of Pacific Restaurant Group.

Chophouse on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Serge Vieira "Chefs in The Dining Room" - Cuisine NOW 2011

Chef Serge Vieira 8 Course Degustation 

What is Cuisine NOW ? As stated on their website, it's "a food festival to showcase the development of contemporary cuisine over the past 30 years".
This would be the 2nd year that this annual food festival is held, all thanks to Tony Bilson to have such an excellent idea to gather well renowned chefs from not only Australia but from France as well.
Names such as Tetsuya Wakuda (Tetsuya's), Brent Savage (Bentley Restaurant & Bar), Shannon Bennett (Vue de Monde) and of course Tony Bilson (Bilson's) are no stranger to our ears. From France, he has invited Jean-Luc Rocha (Chateau Cordeillan Bages) and Serge Vieira ( Restaurant Serge Vieiera).

Bilson's Dining Room

"Chefs in The Dining Room" is one of the event held during the festival where the 2 international guest chefs have the opportunity to showcase their gastronomy skills. The event is held at Bilson's Restaurant and is split into 2 weeks - Chef Vieira reign the kitchen one week and Chef Rocha the other. 
There were available as 5 course or 8 course degustation over lunch or dinner from 11th - 22nd January 2011.
Since I've got the member discount offer from the Entertainment Book (yay!), I booked us in for 8 course degustation dinner by Serge Vieira.

I'm very excited on what we will be having that night because his restaurant has been awarded the prestigious Michelin Star within just 6 months after opening ! Restaurant Serge Vieira was awarded One Michelin Star in March 2010 :)

Complimentary Moët & Chandon ; Bilson's Plate

Once we were seated and our drinks order were taken (a.k.a. sparkling water LOL), we were served complimentary flutes of Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2000. 
Proud to report that for once I finished the whole flute without getting allergic reaction the next morning *woohooo!!* 
The trick was to drink it over a period of 3 hours and plenty of water in between - yes....the champagne was warm by the time I had the last drop...

Clean and Crisp Table Settings

Duck & Ginger

As amuse-bouche, we had cured duck breast, topped with thinly sliced ginger, carrot and served with tomato oil in these fancy spoons. 
The duck breast was tender and the tomato oil had a very crisp tomato flavour.
I must say that I was expecting a classical French flavours from Chef Vieira, so it was a pleasant surprise to see that he used Asian flavours in some of his dishes tonight .

Mise en Bouche
Tomato Ravioli ; Wagyu Roll ; Potato Croquette

They were like savoury petit fours that is served at the beginning instead of the end of a meal.
The cutest trio on a plate :D

The UFO shaped one on the left is tomato ravioli, the clear tomato jelly acting as the "ravioli", encased inside the clear hat were blue swimmer crab mousse, then underneath was a slice of cherry tomato resting on top of a crisp puff pastry. A very nice combination of texture and flavours, light and refreshing.

Celeriac Remoulade Wrapped in Wagyu Loin

Wrapped inside the tender aged Wagyu rump slice was celeriac remoulade, crunchy finely julienned celeriac mixed with creamy mayonnaisse.

The Potato Croquette was like potato 3 ways : inside the crispy potato shell was creamy potato salad, topped with this fluffy and crisp baked mash potato ( you now those frozen potato Pom Poms ? That kind of texture :D).

Crusty Baguette

The bread was then served after the plate of mise en bouche was cleared, which was a tad strange that the bread was only served now ?
Not complaining though as the baguette was delicious, the dangerous thing was that they would place another one on your plate as soon as they saw you took the last bit.
Learned my lesson so I ate the second one

Homage to the Great Barrier Reef
Roast Gambas, Oysters, Vongole, Mussels, Abalone & Razor Clams
under the"sea" - a fine film of Citron Jelly

As the name suggested, this next dish was inspired by what the chef's saw on his visit to The Great Barrier Reef .  
The presentation was simply breathtaking - the vibrant colours of the seafoods and flowers, the clear film of citron jelly, the peppermint foam and the very thinly sliced cauliflower to replicate the corals on the reef.
Too pretty to eat *sigh* - took us a while before tucking in...too pretty......

See the clear "sea" ?

The sauce was made of fish stock and butter emulsion, there were also fennel and black olive puree beneath all the seafoods. 
The ones that stand out would have to be the sweet roasted prawn and the lightly battered tempura abalone. You can really taste and smell the sea on this plate, the combination of different flavours and textures just worked so well together.
This was the one dish that tasted as amazing as it looked.

One more shot - just because it's so pretty  ^_^

Crayfish, Coconut, Beetroot
Butter Roasted Marron Lobster, Varietal Beetroots & Crayfish Ravioli with Coconut Milk Pasta

The ravioli pasta was made with coconut milk and filled with marron lobster meat and topped with coconut and carrot crudité.  It tasted like Thai curry but its also Italian but also French ? A multicultural ravioli indeed :)

In the centre of the plate we had butter roasted marron tail resting on a strip of crushed tomatoes. 
The marron was done perfectly, still have a bite to it and retains its natural sweetness. The butter sauce though creamy didn't overpower the delicate flavour of the crayfish. 

Psychadelic Beetroot ; Crayfish Ravioli

On the side we have a salad of mixed beetroots with avocado and sugar snap peas. 
There were the normal dark purple ones, yellow, white and one psychadelic swirly beetroot ! Now why can't I find these fancy beetroots in vegie shops ??

John Dory, Thyme, Lemon
John Dory, Kohlrabi dressed with Thyme & Lemon Grass

The roasted John Dory was cooked to perfection and served on top of a very creamy and delicious fennel veloute. 
Topped with a crisp and refreshing salad of kohlrabi (German turnip) and almond that burst with flavour of thyme every now and then. 
On the side was a strip of crushed herbed potato and a dollop of tangy lemongrass creme that just add that extra zing to the dish. 

Lamb Epigrame
Rosé Lamb Saddle w/ Braised Lamb Belly Croquet & King Oyster Mushroom

(Lamb !!! Please don't have a strong smell, please......>___<; )

The lamb was prepared 3 ways : braised lamb belly in the centre with lamb jus and seasoned with cracked black pepper and topped with baby leek , rare lamb saddle and last but not least the lamb belly croquette.

The lamb belly though tender had too strong flavour to me, the biggest piece on the plate and the one I struggled the most to eat LOL If you are a fan of lamb you would love it (my cousin sure did!).

Lamb Belly Croquet ; Vegetable Brunoise

The lamb belly croquette was tender and nicely crumbed, it was served with grilled king oyster mushrooms and mushroom duxelles underneath. 

The rare lamb saddle was nice, it has the least lamb flavour of the three and though it looked rare, it was very tender and sweet. The dollop of onion puree was topped with a crispy paper thin lamb bacon accompanied by the perfectly diced and vibrant vegetable brunoise.

Cheese from Auvergne
Cantal, Blue d'Auvergne, Saint Nectaire, Fourme d'Ambert

(Blue Cheese *Arrghhh*)

All four cheeses were from the Auvergne province in South Central France and served with glacéd apricot and fig.
There were two different types of blue cheeses, since I just cannot eat them , this is what my cousin thought of them :
"Blue d'Auvergne - mild and slightly firm texture and the Fourme d'Ambert was just pungent and gooey".
The other 2 cheeses, I can eat (while trying not to breath in the blue's pungent aroma) - the Cantal was a firm cheese, sort of like cheddar and the Saint Nectaire was a washed rind cheese that had a mild flavour and a springy texture. 

Apricot, Wattle Seed
Apricot Clafoutis, Apricot Cream, Cannelloni, Yoghurt & Wattle Seed Ice Cream

When I read "clafoutis" on the menu, I was expecting it to be served in a shallow baked dish as it would traditionally. 
The apricot clafoutis was presented in a form of rectangular custard studded with apricot jelly, then topped with a layer or thin crispy caramelized sponge, a layer of pistachio cream, another layer of sponge and then an apricot cannelloni. The cannelloni was made from apricot "pasta" sheet and filled with cream. 
On the sides we had the coffee like wattle seed ice cream and yoghurt mousse on nuts and apricot granola soil.
Finished off with a swirl of vanilla bean syrup and the pretty sugar bubble thins :)

There was a nice balance of sweet and sour in this dessert, the tartness of the apricot jelly and yoghurt mousse helped to set off the sweetness of the other components on the plate.

Strawberry , Szechuan Pepper
Strawberry & Rhubarb Tartlet w/ Szechuan Pepper & Honey Ice Cream

The second dessert of the night was a strawberry and rhubarb tart topped with the delicious frozen lime mousse disc ! It was like eating a frozen foam that just melts into air with lime zest flavour - it was probably the best part on the plate hehehehehe.
Topping the frozen disc was honey ice cream, plank of tuile, thin slices of dehydrated strawberries and a tiny dollop of pure mint puree on the side. 

On the side we have a poached rhubarb, topped with a twirl of strawberry candy that tasted just like fresh strawberries !
There was this clear tube of jelly that I just couldn't pin point what the flavour was - it's lemon but not quite just lemon - lemon myrtle ? 

Strawberry & Rhubarb Tart ; Poached Rhubarb & Strawberry Candy

We passed on having coffee or tea after the meals, but we can't turn away more sweets now, can we ?

Pistachio Financier , Cherry & Chocolate Macaron , Peach & Nectarine Pâte de Fruit

The plate of petit four to finish off tonight's meal consisted of 3 miniature sweets - the sweet and chewy pistachio financier topped with citrus brandy snap, a delicate cherry & chocolate macaron and the sweet peach & nectarine jelly.

Pistachio Financier w/ Financier Créme & Citrus Brandy Snap

What is the verdict on the meals prepared by Chef Serge Vieira ? I think I can see why his restaurant was awarded One Michelin Star after being opened for less than a year - his creations were simply amazing. 
The presentation were impeccable and so were the flavours. There may be lots of different flavours going on on the one plate but they all just work. 
I also love how he manage to incorporate the Asian flavours into the dishes whilst retaining their French presence :)

Cuisine NOW festival runs from 11th - 22nd January 2011, for more information on the events and bookings, check out their website at