Tag Archives: French Food

Swept away to Luxembourg

When I heard that Andrew McConnell was going to swap out Golden Fields with a European bistro named after Jardin du Luxembourg my heart leapt for joy!  Luxembourg!    There are not enough bistros in Melbourne in my opinion.  Especially those inspired by phenomenal gardens in Paris!  Joy!

Went for the chef’s selection, which was excellent.  But I really wanted to try the “potato skins, whipped cod roe & avruga” and that was not included…. I’ll just have to go back!

Started with a “tuna, oyster cream, apple & bonito dressing” from the raw section.   Nice light start to dinner…

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We were then treated to the “soft shell crab sandwich, tartare & iceberg” which would give the Golden Fields lobster roll a good run for it’s money…

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I love love love a good selection of chacuterie and this ticked all the boxs.  Rillettes, terrine, cured meats… yum!

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The “radicchio, smoked duck breast, grapes & walnut” was epic.  It was such a powerful taste for such a small dish.  Smoky dish with bitter raw radicchio and braised sweet radicchio.  It was wonderful.

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Slow braised beef short rib, grilled tongue, red wine sauce & parsley” was excellent.   Meat was tender and cooked to perfection.

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We then got to try the “tripe & cuttlefish braise, brioche crumbs“… which is an amazing genius dish.    I don’t even like tripe but I adored this!

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Desserts followed, first up was the “Mille-feuille, spiced quince & brown sugar creamwhich was fantastic.  The pastry was crispy, the cream was not too sweet and the quince added a nice tartness to the dish.   Despite sounding like a heavy dessert, it was light and delicious.

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The “buttermilk panna cotta, blood orange, meringue & fennel granita” was a nice cleanser and a great way to end the meal. IMG_2550

So it’s pretty obvious that I loved this restaurant.  I loved the food… but service was a bit patchy and the layout of the restaurant is a bit awkward.   But  I’m willing to forgive all that for the great food!

For more info and reviews:
Luxembourg on Urbanspoon

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Crabapple Kitchen trip to Burgundy

Was at Friday Night Flights at Crabapple Kitchen for the trip to Burgundy.  We googled the food of Burgundy before the night and we pretty much got Burgundy’s greatest hits for the dinner.   It was amazing, as always!  Great value for money, good wine and great service.

Started with delicious “Gougeres – little savoury golden choux pastry treats filled with cheese sauce” – puffy cheesy goodness.

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The “Beef & burgundy sausage with puy lentils, spinach, mustard sauce and parsley” was devine!  Beautiful tender sausages with a mustard sauce and rich lentils.  So good!IMG_0955

The “Jambon Persille – pork and parsley terrine served with cornichons and Dijon mustard” was a fresh and salty terrine.  Different to most other terrine’s I’ve had, in that it wasn’t heavy or too rich.

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The “Oeufs en Meurette – eggs poached in a red wine with mushroom and tarragon sauce” was beautiful!  Silky red wine sauce with a ridiculously rich taste.

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Coq au vin – chicken thigh slow cooked in aromatic wine with mushroom and carrot puree” was very tasty and rich.  Beautiful sticky glazed chicken….  Yum!IMG_0961

The old “Boeuf Bourguignon – Beef cheek with button mushrooms, smoked bacon, shallots and potato mash” was a lighter version than what I’ve previously had, but it packed a flavour punch and the beef was very tender.IMG_0962

To end the meal, we had to have the “Rigodon-Brioche, hazelnut and cinnamon pudding with pouring cream” dessert which was buttery and light.IMG_0964

Thank you Crabapple for taking me on such a wonderful culinary journey.  Food was absolutely perfect and I felt like I was in Burgundy for the evening.

For more info and reviews:
Crabapple Kitchen on Urbanspoon

My new favourite restaurant: Brooks

Brooks is a delightfully intimate restaurant with outstanding food.  It has a nice back story – Nic Poelart is mates with the guys from Gerald’s bar and decides to open this place together.  Those who have been to Embrasse know Nic is such a lovely and thoughtful cook.   They have a philosophy to treat diners as guests at their restaurants and it shows.

Started with the amazing chicken liver parfait with rye bread”, which were like little pillows of deliciousness.   I wish I had more!

Chicken liver parfait in rye pillows

There were oysters on the menu, and of course, they were fresh and pretty as a picture.

oysters

The “meli of vegetables” were a carry over from Embrasse and is as good a dish as ever.  I think they are the best vegetables I’ve ever had.  And so darn pretty, I didn’t know where to begin eating!

meli of vegetables

 We had the “marron done two ways“.  I don’t exactly remember what it was served with, but it was really good!  I think the first dish involved cauliflower.  Take my word for it, it was awesome 🙂

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Finished off the savoury courses with a delicious smokey beef, served with the cheesiest mash potato I have ever had.  I could only eat a small quantity as it was so rich!  Loved it!

steak and mash

Before launching into the sweet stuff, I had to have some cheese.  After all, I am a French person stuck in the body of a Chinese Malaysian.

cheese selection

I had to finish my dinner with the “forrest floor” dessert.  I’d missed out on having it at Embrasse and I’d been habouring this desire for it for years!  Different chocolate textures, some mint, and it was amazing!  And very pretty!

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So, I don’t think I need to reiterate how in love I am with Brooks.  I have been back once already, and can’t wait to get back there again!

For more info and reviews:

Brooks 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.

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