Monday, December 31, 2012

Astonish Patisserie, Adelaide

After quickly inhaling some Sushi Train for old-times-sake, I did a quick waddle around the wonderful Adelaide Central Market and then made tracks down to Astonish Patisserie - a newly opened dessert cafe just south of the Adelaide city centre.

Just like the Adelaide Central Markets, dessert cafes are something else Adelaide has in spades over Sydney.  Sydney does have cafes serve desserts, wine and coffee (in addition to their savoury menu items) but Adelaide has a huge range of places that exist solely to service our sweet-tooth's.  I honestly cannot think of one cafe in Sydney solely dedicated to dessert...

In true food blogger form we order just about everything on the menu starting with the Half Cooked  Cheesecake ($15.00). I had NO idea what a Half Cooked Cheesecake would be like and I'm please to report it was delicious. The Cheesecake came in a lovely little ramekin and was lush and creamy, not dissimilar to a creme brulee or custard in texture. I loved the addition of the candied orange and tart citrus segments.

It would be un-Australian not to order Pavlova ($12.00) when it's on offer.  The deconstructed Pavlova was so delicate look but really packed a punch in terms of flavor (and sugar).

I thought the Seasonal Sweet Pizza ($12.00) was a really usual dessert - the addition of cheese scattered atop the stewed fruit gave the dish a savoury element that was offset the Balsamic ice-cream was fairly sweet.  I love the base of this pizza - a handcrafted puff pastry that was light and flaky.

The Chocolate Magma ($14.00) really lived up to its name.  A river of oozy warm chocolate sauce burst forth when we eagerly pierced the cake with our forks. This dessert was sinfully rich and delicious. Definitely a chocolate lovers dream come true.

I pitied the poor chef when he brought out our next dessert - we all jumped up form a chairs and raced towards him with cameras blazing. The Panna Fire ($18.00 is a fun dessert that has so many different elements to it. It's hard to know where to start, but I thought the Pistachio Bomb Alaska was a good place to begin followed by some of the Vanilla Panacotta, Rhubarb Jelly and bite of the crispy sweet Brandy Snap.

By this stage we're all feeling pretty full so I only manged a bite or two of the macarons that the cafe manager kindly sent out for us to try.

Dessert finishes with a lovely (complimentary) grapefruit granita that was refreshingly.  I found this a great counter-balance to the sugar fix we'd all just indulged in and I'm sure it stopped me from going back to my room and entering a diabetic coma.

Astonish Patisserie is at 393 King William Street, Adelaide. They open at afternoon tea time, how very civilized of you Adelaide.

Astonish Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 28, 2012

Dumpling + Noodle House, Potts Point

I'm kicking myself that I didn't know of the existence of Potts Point's hole-in-the-wall Dumpling + Noodle House until I'd well and truly moved out of the neighborhood. When I think about all the lost dumpling dining opportunities I literally want to weep tears of Soy Sauce + Vinegar.

Good things come to those that wait however and after nearly TWO years of waiting I finally made it to dumpling nirvana with my dining pal, Miss Chicken. The joy of eating dumplings is in the sharing...the more people the merrier as it means loads of delicious morsels can be sampled (which is why I never came here on my own, though I had many opportunities to indulge in a plate of dumplings after work on my lonesome).

When I say this place is a hole-in-the wall I'm not exaggerating. The restaurant is probably 2 meters wide at most and can seat about 16 people inside, plus there is seating for 6 people outside. The kitchen is downstairs in the basement which is accessed by a set of stairs that disappear down behind the counter. The whole set up is so quaint and so intriguing.  I feel like I've been transported to a little ye olde worlde Hong Kong shopfront.

There is so much that I want to try on the menu that it's obvious I need to make a few return trips but we begin this feast with some amazing pan-fried dumplings. Paralyzed by indecision and wanting to try everything on the menu we choose a half/half selection of Fried Lamb Dumplings and Fried Vegetable Dumplings (about $13.50).

The dumplings came out face down with their crispy bottoms exposed - how DO they get the bottoms so crispy - I've NEVER seen dumplings like this before.  I think Miss Chicken and I both agree that the vegetable dumplings were the winner - the mix of vegetables were crisp, fresh + light which balanced the thick, crispy dumpling skin nicely.  The lamb dumpling were also tasty.  The lamb had a delicate flavour that was almost a little spicy with an aromatic scent of cumin perhaps. The meat was pierced with pieces of shredded carrot and other veggies. I'd happily order both of these again.

I had thought that the steamed dumplings would be inferior to the crispy-bottomed fried dumplings but how wrong I was. Our Shrimp Steamed Dumplings ($13.00) were wonderful.  A whole prawn came lovingly wrapped in a fat dumpling skin blanket. The dough was thick, but not in a gluggy way. The thick dough gave the whole dumpling that perfect toothsome "bite"  These dumplings were  perfect dipped into a mix of soy sauce and and black Chinese vinegar. Heaven.

It's a universal fact that (wo)man cannot live on dumplings alone so we order a plate of Fried Noodles with Vegetables ($11.00). These noodles were really tasty - they surprised me with just how delicious they were.  The noodles had a nice charred flavour from the wok along with shreds of Asian greens + carrot and were *just* a little bit salty.  And because we are healthy and virtuous (cough cough) a side dish of boiled green vegetables ($10.00)  must also grace our table. The simple plate of bok choi (at least I think it's bok choi) is doused with hot oil and black soy sauce - a simple, but healthy dish.

The food here isn't super cheap (we're not in Chinatown after all) - but it's really REALLY tasty. I can't wait to come back...and soon!

Dumpling and Noodle House is at 165 Victoria St, Potts Point.

Dumpling and Noodle House on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Balcony Garden: Harvest Monday #7

Every now and then I uncharacteristically get into the mood for cooking.  I normally start off all gung-ho and by the end am exhausted and grumpy as the task at hand seems bigger than I first imagined - especially if I'm coming something for the first meal of the deal.  Of course I always choose to switch on the oven on a day that's stinking hot. Am I the only one that happens to?

On this particular stinking hot day I wanted to make an adaption of some delicious bacon + egg pies I found on TFP's blog. I've had SO much baby spinach and chives growing I thought I could mix things up by making a Salmon, Baby Spinach, Chive + Feta Pie. I cannot believe my experiment a) actually worked and b) tasted good...really good.

I think radishes must be the EASIEST and most delicious vegetable to grow. Coupled with the fact that they don't get eaten by caterpillars as they grow underground makes them perfect in my eyes - though the leaves do get nibbled so keep an eye out nevertheless.  It's hard for me to not just pick the radishes, wash them and eat them like lollies. I've been strong though and saved a few for actual meals.

To accompany my awesome pies I made a side salad using my beautiful radishes, more of  my never ending baby spinach and some rocket that's been going great guns on the balcony. You can also eat the radish leaves (something that I only just found out) - I didn't use too many in this salad as they are a bit bitter...

And there we have it - a delicious and relatively simple (though somewhat time consuming to me) weekend brunch. Right...I'm hungry!

You can view more Harvest Monday posts on Daphne's Dandelions blog.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sushi Train, Adelaide

Back when I lived in Broken Hill we'd occasionally make the five hour drive to Adelaide in order to soak up some big-city-living. Apart from Mildura, a three hour drive south, Adelaide is the closest thing to the "big smoke" that Broken Hill has.  Truth be told my main reason for wanting to visit Adelaide was Sushi Train. I wouldn't even check into the hotel on these Adelaide visits - I HAD to go straight to Sushi Train and stuff my face - the hotel could wait. When you live in a town with no sushi train you get a little...desperate.

As soon as I saw Adelaide's Sushi Train on our drive in from the airport to Eat.Drink.Blog headquarters I knew had to get my fix...for old times sake.  It was a Pavlovian response - I saw Sushi Train and started to drool.  This time though I dropped my bags off at the hotel before taking my place at the train.

Everything was just as fabulous as I remember - all my old favourites were still doing their lap on the conveyor belt. The crisp tempura prawn nigiri drizzled with lashings of sweet teriyaki sauce was as scrumptious as ever and the creamy tuna ship was still perfection on a plate.

I think Salmon Aburi is always a good choice, the salmon being scorched by the deft touch of a blow-torched which gives it a lovely smokey flavour and a creamy texture. I also could not pass up one of my favourite sushi dishes - Dragon Roll, a firmly wrapped roll of cucumber and cream cheese that is topped with eel, sesame seeds and a sweet sauce.

I had to limit sushi intake on this visit as I was off to meet some other bloggers for a sweet afternoon tea but I thought four plates wasn't too piggy.

Sushi Train is at  36 City Central Market Arcade (Gouger Street), Adelaide.

Sushi Train on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Element6, West Ryde

Typical. When I lived in West Ryde there were pretty much no cafes...just a Gloria Jeans and a cafe inside the Christian bookshop near the train station. Neither of them really cut it for me and I'd find myself feeling quite...gloomy. Of course now that we've moved out of West Ryde a wonderful cafe, Element6, has moved in. Typical.

Element6 can be found on "the other side" of the train station - you know, the quiet side. The side without without the Woolies. To me this is the more interesting side - it's always fun to have a rummage in the local Vinnies, check out the store selling tasty Middle Eastern goods...and now there are two new secondhand stores to scour for bargains. Element6's eclectic design really fits in well this with more interesting part of West Ryde. The interior is a mish-mash of interesting collectables and murals - a feast for the eyes.

Element6 serves up such fresh, wonderful and delicious food that VegeTARAian and I visit them twice in three days...and I  know we'll be back as soon as they return from the well-deserved Christmas break.  So...what is all this delicious food that I'm raving about? Let's take a look...

The menu has a decided Middle Eastern slant to it which suits me down to a tee - the flavours are so fresh and vibrant. The perfect example is the Sultans Sunrise ($5.00) - orange juice with just a hint of pomegranate that is just so refreshing. Just to prove the West Ryde can be hip too the drinks are all served in cute jam jars.

The Sweet Potato Chips ($4.50) are highly recommended to us by our Instagram friend and we'd be silly to pass up a dish that comes with such glowing praise. The crisps are wafer thin and dusted with hint of something slightly spicy, Sumac or Paprika perhaps? They are incredible tasty and very moreish. These are really really GOOD...get them!

Tara and I decide to share two salads and co-owner Hai-Jin has no qualms in pulling the Lamb Merguez Sausage out of the Lentil Salad ($14.00) so that Tara and I can share (which means I get a whole plate of delicious lamb merguez all to myself)! The lamb merguez is wonderful, slightly spicy and thinly sliced.  It looks to have been dusted in flour before being pan-fried giving it a nice crumb.The salad on its own is fantastic - a tumble of baby spinach, lentils, Kumera, crispy beans + radish plus feta dressed in a creamy dijoin dressing. This is the type of salad that we could all make at home...but it's always the dressings that stumps me - the dressing really lifts things and gives the salad a zing.

Our other salad is crisp and light - totally perfect for a hot summers day. Crunchy fennel is shaved and paired with avocado, apple, roasted almonds, baby spinach, currants and feta. Fennel is something I love to eat - the aniseed flavour is amazing - but I've not yet been brave enough to use it at home.  Its alien shape kind of freaks me out...what exactly do I do with all those fronds and stalks that look like celery? Best left to the professionals I think.

On our return trip we cannot pass up the Sweet Potato Crisps which were just as good as our first time. Tara also orders a Rosewater Lassi from the specials board which was AMAZING. I'm generally not a fan of lassi (an Indian yoghurt-based drink), especially Mango Lassi. I don't enjoy the sour yoghurt mixed with the sweet just seems wrong to me, but this version was kind of mind-blowing to me. The drink was still quiet sour but the tanginess of the yoghurt was offset by the sweet, aromatic rosewater and a dusting of cinnamon. The flavours seemed less "artificial" than a mango lassi.  I wish I'd seen this on the menu as I would've ordered one for myself as it was pretty incredible.

On our previous visit I saw a lot of people ordering this orange and avocado salad with free-range chicken ($14.00). It looked so good that I knew that this was what I would be ordering on this visit. A mound of salad leaves is mixed with orange, avocado, dates, roasted almonds, shanklish and mint that sits atop slices of bread. Again it's the dressing that makes this salad into something wonderful. Shanklish is new to me.  At first I thought this was blue cheese from appearance, but Mr Wikipedia tells me that it is a sheep's milk cheese that is often dusted in spices similar to a Dukkah mix (and what's more, I saw it for sale in my corner shop today)!

Element6 is a true gem in a cafe wasteland! The food is incredibly fresh, inventive, wholesome and delicious as well as being far from your mainstream cafe offerings. I felt healthy walking out of here. The service is super friendly - the staff and co-owners (Hai-Jin and Susan) seem really happy with their cafe and this reflects in the food and service. I cannot WAIT to come back and try their brunch menu.

Element6 can be found at 65 Ryedale Road, West Ryde. They are closed on Sundays.

Element 6 on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sushi Wow, Parramatta

I've often wanted to duck into Sushi Wow in Parramatta's Church Street Mall, but the lure of my beloved Sushi Bay at the monolithic Westfield is just too hard to resist. Recently though I bit the bullet and cheated on Sushi Bay....and I'm kinda glad I did as Sushi Wow is really...WOW!

The restaurant is quite dark and "moody" but the food is anything but.  There were so many enticing plates of sushi to choose from, but as I'd just returned from a huge food blogger conference in Adelaide (aka eating weekend) I limited myself to four plates (though I'm sure I could've squeezed in five if I REALLY tried).

The Dragon Roll was topped with the largest piece of eel that I've ever seen adorning a sushi roll. The eel was charred perfectly and sweet from a dousing in a teriyaki style sauce, and the addition of cream cheese in the filling gives the whole morsel a lovely creamy texture.  Of course I cannot go past a good old Tuna Roll - these were great. You can go wrong with a dollop of creamy tuna encased in a rice + seaweed blanket.

Sushi Wow also had quite a few styles of sushi role that I've not seen elsewhere like the simple and fresh tasting Salmon with Seaweed Salad. I loved the slither of orange that came with this plate - dinner and dessert all in one go.  The Tuna Roll topped with a Cheesy Salmon Aburi was FANTASTIC. The tuna was soft and creamy, and the salmon had that lovely charred flavour that can only come from a Japanese restaurant blowtorch (tastes better than it sounds, I promise)!

Sushi Wow is at  188 Church Street, Parramatta (in the Church Street Mall). I'll be back for sure - especially to try their wonderful looking plate of Miso Eggplant (I did go back to try the Miso Eggplant and it's AMAZING, though impossible to eat with chopsticks).

Sushi Wow on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Balcony Garden: Harvest Monday #6

Cos Lettuce seems to be the garden veggie that just keeps on giving! I love it!  It seems to be a better crop  for the balcony garden than something like peas which grow, fruit and then die.  My peas took so much effort to grow and I only got 20 peas off the was quite upsetting I have to say *sobs*.

When I first grew Cos Lettuce I was pulling the whole lot up by the roots when I wanted to eat some...until a colleague set me straight.  Rather than picking the entire lettuce you can actually just snip off the leaves from the bottom...and the plant will happily keep growing up, and up, and UP!  At some point I assume the lettuce will get too tall for it's britches and just fall over, but until then we have A LOT of lettuce on our hands.

Apart from your bog-standard garden salad I've been making a lot of Caesar Salads with my Cos Lettuce haul.

When I make a Caesar Salad at home I go all out and use free-range chicken, free-range eggs and free-range bacon...then I ruin the whole lot with store bought dressing and croutons. And you know, it tastes bloody great! That said, if you have an EASY recipe for a Caesar Salad dressing I'd love to hear it...and what about some homemade any of you make your own croutons?

You can view more Harvest Monday posts on Daphne's Dandelions blog.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bishop Sessa, Surry Hills

Whilst I don't mind queuing for food I have a threshold of tolerance of about 20 minutes. After that I start to get quite Hangry (Hungry + Angry = Hangry). And it seems to the trend of the moment for restaurants not to take bookings so I find myself getting Hangry quite often - especially if I'm wanting to try out a new, popular place. So it's a GREAT pleasure to find out the new kid on the Surry Hills block, Bishop Sessa, take bookings.

Bishop Sessa WAS called Crown Street Assembly when we visited but has had a name switcheroo.  The restaurant occupies the old Tabou site - whose closure last year heralded the beginning of a number of restaurant closures in the area. So far Bishop Sessa is going great guns and I hope they stick around as the food and service were wonderful on the night that Miss M and I visited.

The downstairs of the restaurant has a very modern, clean look and upstairs is much more dark and cosy - I love both spaces, and love the honeycomb looking bar downstairs. I really appreciate that I could come here on my own and sit at the bar and not feel like a Nigel No Friends!

It's been a while since Miss M and I last saw each other so we decide to order the $55 banquet and spend out time chatting + gossiping rather than deliberating over the delectable sounding menu.

The menu has a number of wonderful appetizers/bar snacks and I'm delighted to see the Quail Bun on the banquet offering - it's AMAZING!!!! The quail was crispy and smoky in flavour - I'd say this bun was WAY better than the pork bun I had a Momofuku in NYC. Big call, but it's true. During the entire meal I was hoping I'd not be too full by the end as I wanted to order another quail bun - but my tummy just couldn't handle it. Soft.

Our next appetizer- dumplings but not any old dumplings! These dumplings are something very special - a beef and bone marrow filling topped with black vinegar and pearl barley. Such a strong + beautiful flavour without being rich or overwhelming. I really loved the inclusion of the pearl barely in this dish as it lent the dish a nice, nutty flavour.

We move in the entree section of the menu with the arrival of Pan-roasted local calamari with chorizo, quinoa, chermoula and roasted peppers - delicious, the chirozo was lovely and smokey and the calamari so tender! I've tried cooking with quinoa before at home and it was a total failure so I love eating it when out. The next dish was also mind-blowingly good - scallop ceviche, cucumber, avocado, lemon + ginger beer sorbet. The flavours of this dish were so fresh and light...perfect for the lead up to the hot summer weather.

The banquet also included two main dishes - the first a chervil crusted lamb loin with goats cheese crushed potato, dried olives + rocket with a red pepper jus. The lamb was so tender and the goats cheese potato - WOW, so a lush creamy flavour! The second main was the much anticipated roast suckling pig with celeriac puree + spring vegetables. The pork crackling was incredible - so crispy! I stupidly ate mine first up then had to watch Miss M's plate as she left hers to the end...torture!

Our mains came with a side of Iceberg + Butterleaf Salad - really simple, but the fresh greens were a nice counterbalance to our delicious meaty mains.

Last but not least - dessert! The lights had been turned down in the restaurant by this stage so the lovely restaurant manager, Erez, came over with his iPhone to help illuminate my photography. Talk about service, hey!

The dessert platter was temptation on a plate - cheesecake, deconstructed pavlova and something delicious that the waitress couldn't quite explain!

Our night at Bishop Sessa was fantastic and I know we'll be back again soon. The food was delicious - such incredible flavours. The service was really friendly and helpful and I love the space; the bright modern space downstairs and the beautiful, dim and cozy dining room upstairs are both wonderful comfortable spaces.

Bishop Sessa is at 527 Crown Street, Surry Hills. Phone them on 8065 7223.

Crown Street Assembly on Urbanspoon

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