Tag Archives: Desserts

Remarkable dishes at Sepia

Was in Sydney for a weekend trip to celebrate a friends birthday and the celebration dinner was held at Sepia.  Quite a prestigious little place, restaurant of the year and three hats.  Had the degustation with matching wine, and in hindsight, each dish was amazingly complex.  And the degustation was very well harmonised and built up with each course.

The dinner started with a delicate little dish: “udon, smoked roe, tomato“.

Udon, smoked roe, tomato

Sashimi Yellow Fin tuna, Jamon Iberico, apple, daikon, white sesame cucumber and sake, wasabi” was texturally interesting.

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Winning dish of the night:  “sashimi of bonito, flavours of roasted chicken, umeboshi, upland cress, green tea, nori“.  Maybe dish of the year.  The sashimi is topped by crispy chicken skin, and the cream at the centre of the plate taste like the best roast chicken in the world.

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Yabby, seaweed puree, ginger, shellfish and blood orange emulsion, sorrel“:  Sweet yabby in a thick emulsion… crazy textures, with a complex taste.

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Glazed smoked fresh water eel, sushi rice, shiitake mushroom, garlic emulsion, green apple, pickled aka seaweed“:  taste like an upmarket version of eel sushi!

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Chargrilled wagyu rump, sea urchin and wasabi butter, garlic chive mustard leaves, ponzu“:  this was amazing.  Salty tasty butter with a beautiful piece of meat.

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Sansho seared Mandagery Creek venison, beetroot butter, horseradish chestnut mushroom“:  Pretty as a picture, and great tasting.

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Palate cleanser:  “Meyer lemon butter, ginger bread crumb, sheep yoghurt sorbet, fennel, olive“.

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Gorgeous “strawberry and yuzu bomb” dessert – was like a surprise with each bite.

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“Winter chocolate forest” Soft chocolate, hazelnut and almond, orange and thyme cream, sour cherry sorbet cocoa brandy jellies, green tea, licorice, chocolate twigs:  Complicated and yummy dessert.

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Food was beautiful, service was good (but could be better) although perhaps looking after such a big party is challenging.   We had a group of 14, and dinner took about 6 hours.  Service was good, but there were a few hiccups.  For example, were were given bread between the third and fourth course (which had a significant wait).

Would I recommend Sepia?  Yes, not only was the food excellent, there were some really clever elements to it (fish and roast chicken!).  I look back at the experience and think that there were so many dimensions (lenses!) to each dish – texture, taste, colour, smell.  Quite remarkable.

For more info and reviews:
Sepia on Urbanspoon

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Deliciously hot and fiery food at Spice Temple

I love spicy Chinese food and Spice Temple delivers on many different levels of it.  The restaurant decor is very modern has a certain sexiness to it, and the food is wonderfully exciting and made from great fresh ingredients.  Was here as for a reunion dinner with 2 of my favorite ex-workmates and it was a blast – spicy food and lots of wine!

We started with “fried salt and pepper silken tofu with chilli“.  The tofu was delicately fried on the outside and silky on the inside, and served with a fresh chilli sauce.

Fried salt and pepper silken tofu with chilli

The “fish fragrant eggplant” was absolutely delicious.  Eggplant that had been fried so it’s crispy and then coated with a powerful tangy spicy sauce.

Fish fragrant eggplant

The “king prawn wontons with aged black vinegar dressing” had chunks of prawn meat in the wonton and the was swimming in spicy sauce.  Loved it!

King Prawn wontons with aged black vinegar dressing

The “stir fried sea scallops with handmade egg noodles and chilli paste” was a lovely dish that had sweet scallops thrown into wonderfully thick and tasty noodles.  No surprises here – the dish taste exactly as the description.

Stir fried sea scallops with handmade egg noodles and chilli paste

The “steamed snapper with salted chilli and black bean” was the dish that the waitress recommended to us and it was a good choice as the fish was fresh and tasted wonderful with the chilli and black bean.

Steamed Snapper with salted chilli and black bean

Given we were having such a great time and the food was superb, we decided to have dessert!  The “caramel chocolate and peanut parfait” was a rich and delicious.

Caramel chocolate and peanut parfait

And I love a good mango pudding so the “mango pudding with condensed milk chantillyhad to be ordered!  It was creamy and delicious.

Mango pudding with condensed milk chantilly

Upmarket Chinese food that delivers a punch – I think it’s a difficult feat to accomplish and Spice Temple does it wonderfully.  The food does not hold back on flavour and chilli.  Coupled with great atmosphere, location and service, it’s a winner for me.

For more info and reviews:
Spice Temple on Urbanspoon

Homage to Paul Bocuse at l’Auberge du Pont de Collonges

We were in Lyon, and had to pay our respects to the legendary Paul Bocuse by visiting his restaurant Auberge du Pont de Collonges.   I knew what I was in for when I made the booking, which was a restaurant and menu that had not changed since 1975.   And yep, it was exactly what I got.  Rich, luxurious, scrumptious and excessive food!

Since I’d gone all the way there, and the chances of returning are fairly slim, I’d decided to go all out and have the Menu Grande Tradition Classique.  Seven courses, which included a whole Bress chicken and dessert trays that you could select anything from.  Just a small piece of advice if you ever go there: make sure you’re hungry!

Before we started, we had the customary amuse bouche which was a lovely bisque.

Amuse Bouche

First course was “scallop of foie gras, pan-cooked, verjus sauce“.  The foie gras was beautifully seared on the outside and soft inside, and it was served with crispy potato lattice on top and a sweet sticky sauce.

Scallop of foie gras, pan-cooked, verjus sauce

Next up we had the famous “Truffle soup V.G.E.” which was a dish created for the French President in 1975. A dish that has been around for over 35 years must be good to stand the test of time.  I’d expected a thick soup under that puff pastry but it was actually a clear soup with veges and truffle.  Be warned: a bowl of this soup was $82 euros!

Truffle soup V.G.E.

The “filet of sole with noodles, à la Fernand Point” was devine!  Lovely soft and sweet sole with a creamy white sauce (which had been lightly grilled to give it that browned taste) with noodles.

Filet of sole with noodles, à la Fernand Point

We then had a palate cleanser which I thought was worthy of mention: “Beaujolais winemaker’s sherbet“.  It was like icy red wine – really powerful and unexpected.

Beaujolais winemaker’s sherbet

Next we were served a whole “Bresse chicken truffled cooked in a bladder“.  It’s quite scary looking (a chicken in a bladder that’s puffed up from the steam whilst cooking) but really delicious!  The chicken was carved up and served with a creamy sauce filled with morel mushrooms, and a side of rice and spring vegetables.

Bresse chicken truffled cooked in a bladderBresse chicken truffled cooked in a bladder

After that we moved on to a “selection of fresh and matured cheeses from La Mère Richard“.  We were presented with a cart full of cheeses of various varieties and could select any that we wanted!  Divine!

Selection of fresh and matured cheeses from La Mère Richard

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And then came the “delicacies and temptations”, which again involved a cart full of desserts that we could choose from.  I went for the fruit, crepe and cream options whilst my boyfriend went for the sweetest items in the cart.

 Delicacies and temptations

Last item for us was the “fantasies & chocolates” which was a beautiful stand of chocolates and treats.  Note the figurine on top of the stand (it’s a mini Paul Bocuse!).

Fantasies & Chocolates

Overall, it was quite an experience.  Very old school formal, classic dishes, excessive surrounds, immaculate service, luxurious feel throughout the whole experience.   If you have the means and time, definitely do it.  Being a lover of all things French, especially the food, this was a chance to live and breathe French gastronomy.

Pressed Lobster at Pressoir D’Argent, Bordeaux

When I’d heard that Pressoir D’Argent had a lobster press (and apparently there are not that many in the world), I had to check it out.   What is a lobster press?  It’s a heavy silver contraption that you put the cooked lobster shells into and press it (manual turning of a handle) to get all the lobstery goodness out.

That aside (yes, sounds like a strange novelty!), the restaurant was great.  Hard to believe they were awarded only 1 Michelin star considering the restaurant was gorgeous, the service was impeccable and the food was some of the best I’d ever had (innovative and tasty).

Upon arrival, we had a lovely glass of champagne and a few small treats including gold dusted macadamias (just a bit over the top) and salmon tartare in a crispy cone.

Macadamias in Gold Dustsalmon tartare

For entrees, we had what was described as scallops in foie gras and langoustines and foie gras.  Cooked scallops were encased in a sphere of foie gras and wrapped in savoy cabbage.  It’s then sat on top of a crispy piece of bread, on some tasty foam, and a green sauce.  Whilst it looks a bit weird, it tasted really really good.  The langoustines dish consist of plump juicy langoustines, sandwiching a piece of pan fried foie gras, with foam and champagne/seafood jelly.  Presentation for this was gorgeous, and it tasted fantastic.

Scallops in Foie GrasLangostine with Foie Gras

Then came the lobster.  A few lives ones were presented to us for selection, and then whisked away to be poached.  It all comes back out, and the lobster shells are pressed and the sauce is cooked before us.  The sauce is then served with the poached lobster and a side of rice with veges (so similar looking to Chinese fried rice but didn’t taste anything like it).   The pressed lobster sauce was unbelievably good.  It was like the most intense buttery lobster bisque.

LobsterRice with Veges

We were then given a fruity palate cleanser before moving on to dessert.  For dessert, we ordered what was described as citrus and wow I was totally blown away.  The plate consisted of little pieces of foam, jelly, mousse, biscuit, gelati and cream and it was perfect in every way (balance, texture, taste).  Phenomenally good.

Palate CleanserCitrus

To finish, we had coffee and a beautiful plate of petit fours.  The sweets specialty of Bordeaux is caneles and  we were also given a little box to take away.  The caneles are browned on the outside and a bit chewier, but soft and stickier on the inside.  Very rich consistency, and I can eat lots of them, but in very small bites!

Petit Fours

All up, fantastic dining experience.  All dishes were spectacular and the service was first class.   The restaurant is located in a beautiful building in the main square of Bordeaux.   I loved the star of the dinner, the lobster, and all it’s accompaniments.   If I’m in Bordeaux again, I would re-visit to have the lobster again!

For more info on the lobster press, here’s a link.

Old School French at Benoit, Paris

We were in Paris in September and really wanted to try an old school French bistro so we decided to dine at Benoit, owned by the delightfully charming Alain Ducasse.  Wood paneled walls, clean crisp white tablecloths and waiters that are nice but slightly stand offish was exactly the atmosphere I was after.  Also, as you can see from the pics below, even the plates had the name of the restaurant printed on them – so French!

Something I noticed in France, was when they give you an amuse bouche or complimentary food item to whet your appetite, it’s almost like an entree serve in itself!   We were presented with fluffy cheese puffs and rabbit rilette with toast.   The cheese puffs were light and hollow, but packed a punch and the rilette was delicious (perhaps the best I’d ever had).

Now, I chose the foie gras as my entree, which came with a toasted brioche.  Whilst it tasted good, I was overwhelmed by the two slices that I had.  Being from Australia, you rarely get to eat more than 3 mouthfuls of foie gras.  I managed to eat one slice, and I felt terrible wasting such a divine piece of food.

My boyfriend chose the crayfish soup with creamy chives and the mouthful that I sampled was divine!   Tasted spectacularly of crayfish (surprise!).

For my main course, I chose sole with wilted spinach.  I was watching Masterchef Professionals UK and Michel Roux Jr. stated that this was one of his favorite dishes.   Sole is not something you can commonly get in Australia, so I had to give it a go!  It was fantastic.  The fish was firm and had a light sweet taste to it.  The sauce on top was a lobster bisque and the spinach and cream at the bottom was delicious.  

The boyfriend chose the beef fillet with marrow bordelaise sauce served on the side with a macaroni gratin.  The steak was cooked perfectly as was the side dish, and the marrow sauce (the star of the show) pulled it all together.

Dessert was the classic vanilla millefeuille, and I have to say, it was the best millefeuille I’ve ever had.  The layers were cooked to the point where it was just caramalised and has that burnt butter flavor and the cream inside was thick, rich and creamy.

One memorable part of this dinner was that menu’s are not available in English, so listening to the patient waiters translate it over and over again to the non-French was quite amusing.  I kept expecting them to throw the towel in and start swearing, but they kept their cool and pushed through.

All up, it’s exactly the charming bistro you would expect, complete with great French food.   The restaurant was packed on a Wed night.    I would definitely recommend it, and I would go again.

Tickets, Barcelona

People, believe the hype.  Tickets is all that they say it is, which is totally amazing.   We booked 3 months in advance on the web before heading off (note to east coast Australians – the clock resets at 8am our time for the bookings).    The restaurant’s decor is whimsical, inviting and open.  The service was brilliant.  And the food was magnificent.

When in Spain, must eat jamon.  We had the thinly sliced salty “Joselito’s Gran Reserva iberian ham” with “the tomato bread” which was toasted and smeared with rich tomato goodness.

The “slices of tuna belly with it’s tartare, panceta and salmon roe” was delicate yet packed a punch.

These “miniairbags stuffed with manchego cheese” were like eating puffy clouds of cheese.  And the pearl on top were olive oil droplets!  When I first saw them I thought it was golden roe (!).

The chilled “avocado cannelloni with crab and romesco sauce” was a divine and delicately balanced dish.

This was my least favourite dish for the evening.  “Macerated prawns with soy and ginger” had prawns that were creamy in consistency (which is not my thing), but the sauce was delicious.

I have no idea how they made the “marinated fried fish” as the outer crust was so delicately crispy but the inside fish was perfectly moist and juicy.  Delicious.

The ““mollette” with double chin” was to die for.  It was like the greatest pork sandwich I’d ever had.  The consistency of the bread matched the juicy tasty pork to a tee.

This dish looks a bit rude, but the “confit potatoes with pork rib jus and boiled iberian ham” was great!  The potatoes had so much flavour in them!  Loved it!

Tasty “chicken skewer with shitake mushrooms” was great – juicy chicken and mushrooms grilled on a skewer.

Grilled lobster” was cooked perfectly and super tasty.  Came with a lemony dressing which enhanced the sweet chunks of lobster meat.

The “liquid ravioli of Payoyo cheese” was amazing!  It was like cheese in a cheese membrane which just exploded in your mouth.   The cheese was quite strong, like a mild blue flavour.   The toasted bread atop gave a nice crunch.

First dessert was the “pineapple with Maraschino cake and lime meringue“.  Cold sweet chunky pieces of pineapple mixed with cake and covered with a browned meringue.  Refreshing and light.

My boyfriends step dad is Catalan so we had to have the “Catalan creme roll“.  Sweet creamy filling with sweet crispy outer shell.

Last was the recommended “warm lava cake of “Turron de Jijona” with raspberry sorbet“.  As described, the cake was warm and once broken oozing with almost caramel like sauce.  The sorbet was a nice sharp contrast to the cake.

So we had a lot of food.   And it was delicious and quite the experience.  I was really bummed that we didn’t get the forest dessert (it was like a chocolate cake and other things made to look like a mini forest) and the mango sorbet which is served to you from an old school ice cream cart.  Guess I’ll have to go back for it!

Just in case it wasn’t obvious – I love this restaurant.

Great modern French fare at Noir

Believe the hype, Noir is as good as they say it is.  The food was absolutely flawless.   The restaurant is cozy and comfortable, nestled in the midst of Swan St in Richmond.  The food is modern French, and flavours, textures, combinations of dishes is fantastic.  The presentation of food is gorgeous, as can be seen from the pics below.

Started with “crisp belly of pork, peas and prawns” which came sitting on top of a creamy rich garlic puree. Pork and prawn is a winning combo, enough said.

The other entree we had was the “salmon cured in Hendrick’s gin” which came with a gin granata, shaved cucumber and dill dressing.  Cool and refreshing on a warms summer day.

My main was the “crisp breast and confit leg of duck with kohlrabi, cherry and almonds“.  I wiped my plate clean.   The duck was cooked medium rare, just the way I like it.  The sauce was rich and delicious.  The kohlrabi was sweet and a perfect accompaniment.

My partner had the “eye fillet and braised shin of Black Angus” which came divided by a potato gratin with 3 onion rings sitting on top of it.  I stole a few bites, and gotta say, if my duck was not so darn good, I would have had the biggest case of food envy ever.  Perfect melt in your mouth eye fillet and tasty braised shin…. drool!

First dessert was the “raspberry soufflé with white chocolate ice cream on macadamias“.  Souffle was tart, and light and fluffy.  Greatly complimented by the white chocolate ice cream.

The “pot au chocolat” was fantastic!  It had Milo and crackle and malt foam and a chocolate biscuit wafer… all up, a tasty delight!

Have to say, we’ve had some great new restaurants pop up in Melbourne in the last 12 months and this is may be my favourite. I adore French food so this instantly has an advantage to win my affections.  Couple that with a great menu, perfectly executed food and solid wine to accompany the food and I’m pretty much in love.  Can’t wait to go back!

For more info:
Noir on Urbanspoon