Archive for December, 2010

December 30, 2010

The best of 2010

by minibites

My final post for the year, here’s a list of my favourites this year!

This year it was more about learning about food and cooking, so after our Masterchef Challenges, I took greater interest in molecular gastronomy – making the Chef’s Armoury’s Tokyo Trends class was one of my favourites of the year, with hours of learning, cooking and eating. And of course, another highlight of the year was cooking with Brent Savage from Bentley Restaurant and Bar at the Sydney Seafood School.

Chef’s Armoury, Sphereification

Seafood School with Brent Savage

Cocktail nights became more and more common, so the hunt for the best bar teamed with delicious food and great cocktails was on! My favourite for the year is The Passage, Darlinghurst followed by the asian influenced LL Wine & Dine, Kings Cross. Delicious meatball burgers, salt and pepper calamari, dumplings and chicken san choy bau. And in the world of quirky, alleyway and hard to find bars; Shady Pines Saloon, Surry Hills and The Croft Institute, Melbourne definitely top my list. Think endless beer menu, peanuts, syringe cocktails and delicious long island ice teas.

The Passage, Coconut & Kaffir Lime cocktail

LL Wine & Dine, San Choy Bau

The Croft Institute

The most unique dining experience has to be our dessert at The Press Club, Melbourne. George’s Aphrodite dessert included a scent element which our waitress armed with a perfume atomiser doused us with rose water. Another amazing dessert night at Bentley Restaurant & Bar‘s dessert degustation, especially its opening dessert of beer sorbet, caramelised pineapple and barley crumble.

The Press Club, Aphrodite

Bentley Bar, Caramelised Pineapple

On to the favourite dishes of the year… At the Taste of Sydney, I tasted Flying Fish’s yellow fin tuna served with sweet pork crackling and ruby grapefruit, and not a fan of tuna sashimi, this dish had amazing textures and flavours. With delicious melt-in-your-mouth meats – it has to be Rockpool Bar & Grill‘s lamb cutlet with mint jelly (yes, slowly becoming a lamb fan!) with its perfect crust and oh, that mint jelly!! And of course, Porteno‘s Chanchito a La Cruz, their signature woodfired suckling pig.

Taste of Sydney, Flying Fish, Yellow Fin Tuna

Rockpool Bar & Grill, Lamb cutlets with mint jelly

Porteno, woodfired suckling pig

In Melbourne, my favourite is The Press Club‘s, Tzatziki, a bed of swimmer crab with thinly sliced cucumber swimming in a bed of cucumber yoghurt soup, and Seamstress‘ five spiced quail. Which funnily enough, I had argued not to order but then caved into majority at the table and the dish turned out to be one of the best dishes of the night… oh, the lessons learnt! And not to forget, Gingerboy‘s Bangalow pork belly and their Coconut Chicken salad, a great restaurant bar under the “stars”.

The Press Club, Tzatziki

Seamstress, Five spiced quail

Gingerboy, Bangalow pork belly

Cake, cake, cake, cake!! The ultimate cake time this year has to be Adriano Zumbo‘s V8 cake, with 8 layers of vanilla goodness; rich and overindulgent and an amazing piece of art. But a mention to my wonderful colleagues who organised my surprise cupcake birthday cake at work – they trekked through rain, wind and storm to make sure I had a cake time at work, awww!

Adriano Zumbo’s V8

Cupcakes on Pitt

Best sweets this year that had me going back and forth for… The Cupcake Family, Melbourne has divine macarons and babycakes, especially for green tea fans! Another mouth watering sweet tooth delights are Bourke Street Bakery’s raspberry chocolate mousse tarts, and well in fact, all their tarts are worthwhile… (and their sausage rolls, yumm!)

The Cupcake Family

Bourke Street Bakery, Raspberry chocolate mousse tart

Brunch has been a new Sunday ritual and after countless eggs, bacon and strawberry frappes. Revolver in Annadale has mismatching china, a cute grandma and my all time favourite sumac bacon and eggs, and Bitton has absolutely amazing french toast with orange jelly and club sandwiches (post to come!). And not to forget Brunettis, Melbourne for everything brunch, lunch and cake related!

Revolver, Eggs Florentine

Bitton, French toast with orange jelly

Brunettis, Free range eggs, mushrooms and sourdough toast

Favourite handheld meal this year has to be the Guzman Y Gomez burrrrito! Warm and toasty and the perfect portion that hits the spot. Another favourite is the discovery of Red Star Luxury Burgers in Wanaka, New Zealand that rivals the Fergburger. The Aussies definitely need to learn a thing or two about a good burger because the Kiwis know their stuff! Comforting to know that Grill’d has finally hit Sydneyside though. And you can’t forget the best 3am feed after a night out – Lord of the Fries, Melbourne.

Guzman Y Gomez, Spicy chicken burrito

Red Star Luxury Burgers

Lord of the Fries, French Canadian fries

So that sums off a delicious food and cocktail filled year! I’m off to ring in 2011 in the culinary and shopping genius state of Melbourne. Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a great New Year to come! May next year be filled with sweet delights, mouth watering food and ah-mazing cocktails!

Cheers,
Jenny!

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December 17, 2010

Sydney Seafood School: Brent Savage

by minibites


One of the best presents are experiences (sometimes… apart from diamonds and shoes) – so my awesome colleagues treated Jen and I to our birthday surprise for a cooking night at the Sydney Seafood School with Brent Savage of Bentley Restaurant and Bar. I was super excited particularly since I had been over to Bentley not long ago for their dessert degustation.

The night kicks off with a Brent demonstrating how to cook his Pan Roasted Baby Snapper with Sweetcorn, Zucchini Flower, Black Fungi and Cuttlefish Ink in a lecture styled kitchen, then we moved along into an absolutely amazing industrial kitchen where we spilt into teams of 4-6 to cook the dish!

We learn techniques like sweating off vegetables, the different ways of making puree, tricks of rejuvenating zucchini flowers, deboning and cooking fish. The best lesson learnt really is how to use ingredients outside the square, seriously, zucchini flowers, black fungi and cuttlefish ink!? In one dish?! The ink was surprisingly not impossible to attain after all, Jen was scared thinking we had to do this again.

Brent took the time to wander from kitchen to kitchen answering questions, checking sauces and fish and teaching us more techniques (you can catch a blurred glimpse of him checking our fish prep in the photo above!!!)

After cooking our meals, we shuffle into a glamorous dining room furnished with amazing lights made from fishnets of lightbulbs! We set our tables, pop open the matching wines and we’re ready to eat!

Pan roasted baby snapper with sweetcorn, zucchini flower, black fungi and cuttlefish ink

Ta-dah! Our combined efforts compared to Brent’s, which I think is pretty close to the real deal… we were a little generous with the portions though! The recipe is also in Brent’s new book, Bentley Contemporary Cuisine. Brent was absolutely fantastic to work, with as he did rounds of the dining room talking to each group individually, answering questions and signing copies of his new book! He’s so humble and talks so passionately about his food, be sure to visit him at Bentley!

Sydney Seafood School has classes all year round with the occasional handful with restaurant chefs, check their website for more details.

Sydney Seafood School
Sydney Fish Market
Bank St, Pyrmont
www.sydneyfishmarket.com/seafoodschool

Bentley Restaurant & Bar
320 Crown St
Surry Hills, Sydney
www.thebentley.com.au

December 13, 2010

Kudu Lounge Cocktail Making Class

by minibites

So after a countless number of girls nights out and cocktail trails, my colleague thought it would be nice to spice up our Wednesday night by checking out a cocktail class at Kudu Lounge.

Splitting into 2 groups, we begin with the humble Mojito, diving into the history of rum, different techniques of muddling, stirring and clapping herbs and most importance about balance of flavours in cocktails. Our cocktails are a little off from the original, but funnily enough it all matched each of our cocktail preferences, whereas I enjoy my cocktails sweet – so my cocktail was sweeter, whereas the other girls’ were either more alcoholic, more sourer and more fruity, just like how we all like it.

Next on the agenda is learning The Bramble, and although I’m only a recent convert to Gin, my Russian counterpart was giggly to find out that we were going to learn a gin based cocktail, that didn’t involve cucumbers, rose petals or tonic. Not as commonly known as the Mojito, The Bramble is gin shaken with lemon juice and sugar syrup, then poured over ice with a shot of raspberry liqueur drizzled over. This lesson was all about the tools, like the Hawthorn strainers and the tricks and dangers of using a Boston shaker, properly.

The Bramble

Mojito

Ta-dah! Our finished products, The Bramble and Mojito. Great (and slightly tipsy) night taught by wonderful bartenders that not only knew their stuff, but were dedicated in making cocktails and were very down to earth to entertain us after the class with our cocktail challenges.

Class booked on Adrenalin, www.adrenalin.com.au and includes 2 cocktails and canapes.

Kudu Lounge
225a Victoria Rd
Darlinghurst, Sydney
www.kudulounge.com.au

Kudu Bar and Lounge on Urbanspoon

December 3, 2010

Baffi & Mo

by minibites

Ricotta hotcakes with lemon curd, passionfruit & strawberries

Scrambled eggs, chorizo, potato hash & sourdough toast

Waking up from the day after a music festival leaves me feeling nothing more like refueling with good food and resting my poor little soles. Baffi & Mo is a little cafe away from the hustle and bustle of Redfern, with an extensive and delicious brunch menu. Being indecisive, we choose to get a sweet and savoury to share.

The ricotta hotcakes are thick, doughy and filling – drizzled on top is lemon curd, passionfruit, fresh sweet strawberries, a huuuuge dollop of cheese – all dusted with icing sugar to finish. And it all works. The sourness of the lemon curd and passionfruit make it seem not too sweet after all! Our savoury dish is a generous plate of scrambled eggs, sourdough toast, a crunchy potato hash and a spicy chorizo sausage. Simple yet fresh. And do be naughty and give the potato hash ago, particularly if you have a soft spot for the packaged french fries.

Service took a little longer than expected but great food in the end.

Baffi & Mo
97 Redfern Rd
Redfern, Sydney

Baffi and Mo on Urbanspoon

December 2, 2010

Charlie & Co

by minibites

This is probably old news by now, but in the food world, as soon as word spread that Justin North had opened up a burger joint in the new Westfields, lines snaked around the foodcourt, all eagerly waiting for a try. To see what all the fuss was about, we got in super early and choose our burger delights.

Classic Fried Chicken

The New Yorker

My foodie companion choose the Fried Chicken burger, with all the good ol’ classics of chicken, tomato, iceberg lettuce topped with herb garlic mayonnaise. Feeling a little iron deficient, I opted for the New Yorker, a baguette filled with grilled sirloin, onion, melted cheddar cheese with a spiced tomato relish, which was perfectly cooked but would have had the cherry on top if the baguette was warm and toasty. But unfortunately the chicken burger was very disappointing, with the chicken being pink and undercooked. Also, there was a very generous side of chips and aioli but were sadly these were overcooked and oily – perhaps, french fries would have done the trick. Hopefully our burgers are better next time!

Charlie & Co
Level 5,  Westfield Sydney,
Cnr Market & Castlereagh St
Sydney
www.charlieandco.com.au

Charlie & Co Burgers on Urbanspoon