FOOD is fashion . FASHION is food . a VICTIM of fashionable food*

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Belle Fleur*

"On Easter morn, life and love are reborn.
Tomb, thou shalt not hold Him longer;
Death is strong, but Life is stronger.
Stronger than the dark, the light;
Stronger than the wrong, the right."

Hopefully everyone would have more than their fair share of chocolates over the Easter season! For those that did not, bravo for your self control. For those that did, we can happily sport an 'after-chocolate glow' and it is probably time for us to hit the gym to work off those extra calories. Clearly, I would fall in the latter category...

Belle Fleur has made exquisite handmade chocolates, fresh every day, for over four generations. Traditional handcrafted chocolates embodies high-quality Belgian couverture in many contemporary flavours and shapes. Devised to excite the palates of those who are adventurous to try, my Easter chocolate cravings were finally satisfied!

Bilby: Milk and White Chocolate with Hazelnut Praline
Cappuccino Cup: Layers of Coffee and Fresh Cream
Easter Basket: Dark Chocolate Basket with Hazelnut Praline
Easter Egg: Light Milk Chocolate with Chocolate Ganache
Hot Cross Bun: Milk Chocolate Praline with a hint of apple and warm spices, coated in White Chocolate dusted with Cinnamon.

Soft Boiled Egg in a Cup and Spoon
(The way it should be done, everything is deliciously sweet and eatable!)

My most memorable conversation with the Blondies:
B: "I am not really sure what these chocolates are... I think there is a Bilby, Hot Cross Bun, Cappuccino Cup, but not sure about the rest?"
Q: "Errr... an Easter Egg and Easter basket. I think those two chocolates are the most obvious!"
C: "Omg that Easter Bunny is scary."
B: "It's a Bilby C, see above haha."

Wishing everyone a Happy Easter filled with lots of sweetness and little bitterness. A perfect time to reflect on endings and celebrate new beginnings

~ ~ ~
Belle Fleur Fine Chocolates
584 Parramatta Road, Petersham
(02) 9550 0650
~ ~ ~

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tara Tea Room*

"In the rear courtyard of the Irish Design Shop lies The Rocks' best kept secret... 
a traditional tea house serving home made scones and imported Irish teas.
Being situated in a 130 year old heritage listed building,
it is exactly like what Grandma used to make, I say!"

All their scones are baked fresh on premises throughout the day, and the blackboard outside will helpfully indicate when the latest batch is out of the oven. When we arrived at 11:15am, we were just in time for a new batch of scones being escorted out of the oven, to be served onto our plates, and straight into our rumbling tummies!

Rewind - now let us turn back time. Imagine this my friends. On a picturesque cold Winter's day, you were fortunate to escape the chilly breeze into a small cosy cottage. Inside you will find the walls are adorned with random trinkets, a warm fireplace, random portraits of scenes from the countryside, and a friendly lady peering from the counter in the corner ready to take your order. 

Maybe some dreams are not that far from reality after all. That is, if you venture to The Rocks on the weekend and enjoy high tea at Tara Tea Room. As you enter, the fantasy comes alive once more as a staircase leading to the unknown is littered with colourful teapots sitting contently on each step. Let us now re-enter our childhood once more, and relive the happy memories of eating. 

Tasting Basket for Two
Sampler for the Sconnoisseur! 
(An assortment of five plain and specialty scones, three gourmet jams, two serves of double-thick cream plus imported clotted cream.)

Choosing from the large range of gourmet Australian made Jams and Imported Clotted Cream was not an easy task. Today, we opted for the three most unusual choices: (1) Triple Berry; (2) Fig, Almond and Ginger; and (3) Paw Paw, Lime and Passionfruit.

Luckily we do not have to make anymore hard decisions since we were served a tasting of each flavour in the Gourmet Scones that included Cheese, Maple Syrup, and Raisin. But be warned, even the plain scones are not to be reckoned with. Their simplicity places focus on the warm fluffiness which makes you craving for more- so we are given not one, but TWO plain scones!

Even the Teapots are well dressed in their knitted warmers ready to combat the winter cold. Several different outfits are available, which means a few extra occasions are needed to try more flavours from the gourmet tea selection! We played it safe today and settled with the classic English Breakfast. Although I must confess that I have already started compiling a list of teas to try on my next visit, because they honestly sound too good!*
Black Teas: Creme Brulee Black Tea and Madagascan Vanilla.
Herbal Teas: Gunpowder Green, Turkish Apple and Red Fancy Fruit.

~ ~ ~
Tara Tea Room
33 George Street, The Rocks
(02) 9247 3233
~ ~ ~

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Glass Half Full *

"Bin 389 is the classic South Australian wine:
a magical marriage between elegant cabernet sauvignon and generous shiraz.
With a reputation for consistency and longevity,
it has earned its well-deserved moniker, 'baby Grange'.
Three words are apt: intensity, opulence and flesh.'

Dad's wine cellar is home to a myriad of prized gems collected over the years. My most memorable experience was tasting a glass of Louis XIII de Remy Martin Cognac- which has rightfully lived up to its name as the King of Cognac, a pure luxury. From its humble beginnings, our Penfolds Grange collection has been gradually accumulating and eagerly awaits for new members to join its underground home. Hopefully one day our collection will be complete and may span across the vintages. In the meantime, it is time for us to have a drink!

On a more daily basis, dad prefers to open a bottle of Penfolds BIN 389, 707, Remy Martin XO or one of the champagnes and wines gifted to our family. Tonight we opted for the BIN 389 (mainly because it was the first wine Q and I found in the wine cupboard that we were allowed to drink!) As a review in the Australian Wine Journal succinctly conveyed: it tasted like savoury dark fruit, with seasoned cedar oak characters that accentuate the wine, punctuated by lingering nuances of ripe fruit and herb. 

Sometimes people may spread rumours because they enjoy the gossip, jealous or just wish to see you fail. Whatever their motivations may be, words are meaningless unless you listen and give it meaning. Just remember the glass is always half full. The most important thing is to be happy, and only answer to yourself. So here is a toast to our success!*

As Dr. Seuss would say: 
"Be who you are and say what you feel,
because those who mind don't matter, 
and those who matter don't mind."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Top Juice *

"For a well-balanced diet
sometimes a healthy treat is on the agenda.
A staple in healthy diets for generations, 
juices are a nutrient-dense beverage choice
rich in nutrients found naturally in whole fruit and vegetables."

Whether you fancy something fresh, rejuvenating... or if you are simply thirsty. I love it how Top Juice offers a selection of seasonal fruits, yoghurts, salads and juices. On a cold rainy day, it is the perfect healthy treat that satisfied my craving for a natural sugar hit!

Warning: I have been a little obsessed with shades of Fuchsia and Reds of late. So please forgive me for the overload of these colours in this post! 

Q's Vegetable Juice
Minty Green- Pear, Apple, Spinach, Mint and Ginger

B's Fruit Juice
Mixed Berries, Pineapple, Apple, Banana and Orange

~ ~ ~
Top Juice
Level 5, Westfield Sydney
(02) 8246 9051
~ ~ ~

But sometimes, an alcoholic beverage can do wonders that a juice simply cannot!
To unwind from another crazy week, I headed to the Ivy with the girls last weekend for another fabulous night out. We always work hard, study hard, and of course it was now time for us to play hard!

S Q B with a dash of Red ~

Monday, April 4, 2011

Ted Baker Scones*

"Growing to be a global lifestyle brand,
delivered with a quirky sense of humour.
Ted Baker has added an irreverent touch to everything, 
or as he prefers to put it: No Ordinary Designer Label."

Staying back at work late for a VIP Event was not very exciting, especially on a Sunday night. Such is the life of working in a luxury fashion house. Not to fear, there will always be something out of the ordinary when we least expect it. As we casually stroll out of work, we spot some Ted Baker staff holding a large lime green shopping bag. Curiously we approach them, just to see what all the fuss is about. Although we probably may not purchase Ted Baker ready to wear, or even accessories for that matter, we happily jumped at the opportunity for some complimentary scones!*

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Marque Restaurant*

"Being the Best is no easy task, 
but Marque Restaurant has managed this feat: 
to be awarded SMH's Restaurant of the Year 2011.
Mark Best claims perseverance and ‘eternal dissatisfaction’ 
are the vitamins for his spectacular personal development.
I believe, it is just the Best mastery of French cuisine."

Finally, I have tried Marque. What a relief! It has been a restaurant on the top of my "to try" list for sometime. My first attempt was back in February 2010, which turned out to be a disaster since I did not end up eating the food at all (a tale for another day). At the time, I vowed never to return but I am extremely glad I did. Apologies in advance for the poor quality photographs! The dim lighting in the restaurant, combined with my broken camera, was indeed a recipe for food photographic disaster. I guess it means I will have to return to Marque again to properly capture the culinary experience, or any excuse will do! 

Amuse Bouche
(Trying to get the perfect angle to depict the contents of this dish was difficult, in light of my dysfunctional camera. I opted for a bird's eye view, and upon first glance may be easily mistaken for a Wassily Kandinsky painting! Simple, chic and delicious. Transparent blue bowl was a bonus.)

Almond Jelly with Crab, Almond Gazpacho, Almond Oil & Sweet Corn Custard

(Photograph clearly does not do this dish any justice. Tasted amazing with the sweet corn custard. Unfortunately the almond elements slightly overwhelmed the crab component. Other than that, no complaints.)

Duck Egg with Veal Sweetbread, Black Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts & Vinegar
(Soft boiled duck egg immersed in a colourful collage. My favourite was the veal sweetbread, a hidden gem that had the right balance of sweet and savoury. For the WOW factor: spot the "ooze"!)

Young Rabbit with Wakame, Braised Cashew Nuts & Zucchini
(For those confident enough to try Rabbit, this would be a nice introduction to the french delicacy. Lean, succulent and... different. Minimal seasoning for the other elements allowed the distinct lapin after-taste to linger in your taste buds.)

Grass Fed Wagyu Bavette with Onions, Black Tea & Stem Salad
(A delightful surprise given my lack of expectations for the dish. Dad usually purchases a huge 10kg slab from our restaurant wholesalers, which is subsequently transforms at the dinner table into my favourite wagyu steak topped with blue cheese. So I am rarely excited about wagyu dishes. I was very impressed by the tenderness of this Wagyu Bavette- simply cooked to perfection! Uncertainty about how black tea would taste in a dish, rather than it's liquid form, was easily overcome. It tasted like a dry caffeine power, in a good way of course. More than just a garnish, the stem salad added some crunchy texture to the tender wagyu.)

'Creme caramel' in Sauternes Syrup
(When I informed my brother I would be dining at Marque, he instructed me one thing "Remember to try the egg!". Unfortunately I did not try the infamous Chaud-Froid Egg, but I did manage to try another egg dish. This complimentary pre-dessert was served in a neatly beheaded eggshell. Honestly, I did not know what taste sensations to expect as the presentation was so simple. The egg is lightly cooked, sweetened with a thin layer of bitter caramel on top. One analogy which springs to my mind is like custard, but better!)

(An interesting twist to the conventional Tiramisu dessert. A mixture of parsnip and potato flakes protruded from the surface of the vanilla foam which reminded me of a snow sculpture- especially with shadows overcast in the background. However, this combination had hints of apricot overtones which was not to my fancy. Vaguely reminiscent of Kobe Jones' failed attempt at a japanese interpretation of Tiramisu, by using Sake instead of Marsala. I must confess, I am just a traditional Tiramisu girl at heart!)

Chocolate Mousse ‘écrasé’, Eucalyptus & Coconut
(I think I have an écrasé on this dish- of the infatuation kind. A thin layer of dark chocolate encases smooth creamy chocolate mousse, which is dusted in cocoa powder. Coconut gelato resembles a wave that is about to come crashing towards the chocolate rock formation. There are some leaves to represent foliage of vegetation that surround its rocky shores. What a beautiful story unfolding before our eyes.)

Petit Fours
(A progression aptly surmised as a bitter-sweet ending to a pleasant dining experience. Liquid centres gave an additional touch of flair to these conventional finishers.)
Bitter - Raspberry bon bons filled with liqueur 
Savoury - Dark chocolate salted caramels
Sour - White Chocolates with Lemon filling
Sweet - Sugar dusted jelly jubes

What started off as a spontaneous catch up dinner with M turned out to be a three hour culinary indulgence, and updates on all the gossip in our lives since our last get together. To dispel the rumours about making dinner reservations a few months in advance, I somehow managed to book dinner for the two of us within a few hours (on a weekday).

Several improvements are in progress: my quest to find a new camera is almost over and J is helping me build a new website ~ so stay tuned!

~ ~ ~
Marque Restaurant
4/5 355 Crown Street, Surry Hills
(02) 9332 2225
~ ~ ~