Tag Archives: food

Taste of Sydney 2012: Photos of 5 dishes

Yesterday I went to Taste of Sydney with two girlfriends, Kat and Vera. After going to Taste of Auckland for two consecutive years in 2009 and 2010 I was curious to see what the Sydney restaurants had on offer. Here’s what I tried….

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Restaurant: Four in Hand
Dish: Roast Suckling Pig, Coleslaw, Onion Rings and Hot Sauce
Verdict: The meat was succulent and the coleslaw fresh. The hot sauce added a light zing and the onion rings provided texture. Not a looker of a dish, but super tasty.

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Restaurant: Flying Fish
Dish: Prawns served with Okra Sambal 
Verdict: The okra sambal sauce was excellent but I wasn’t blown away by the quality/freshness of the prawns. That being said, I don’t doubt that dining in the restaurant would be a different experience. I tried some of Kat’s Seared Petuna Ocean Trout and immediately had food envy! 

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Restaurant: Otto Ristorante
Dish: Barbarossa Ravioli – Ravioli of Sliced Pickled Beetroot with Goats Curd, Pistachio & Horseradish
Verdict: The presentation of this dish was excellent, and the flavours crafted carefully. The goats curd melted in the mouth…I could have done with another helping!

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Restaurant: Quarter Twenty One
Dish: Fried Hawkesbury School Prawns, Proscuitto and Rouille 
Verdict: This dish would be ideal at a BBQ with a ice-cold beer or cider. Crunchy, crispy prawns with slivers of proscuitto make for a salty but delicious bite.  

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Restaurant: A Tavola
Dish: Cremino al Cioccolato – Amedei gianduia chocolate crema, salty caramel gelato, Italian meringue
Verdict: Easily one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. The meringue was like marshmallow, the caramel gelato perfectly salty, and the chocolate crema gooey and rich. Worth every calorie!

Copyright
All images appearing on this blog (solange.posterous.com) may not be reproduced, copied or manipulated without the written permission of Solange Francois
© 2012

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7 dishes from Pyrmont restaurant, Graze

Last night a fellow food-loving friend and I tested out Graze, a restaurant that’s been open in Pyrmont for just over a year.

The aptly named venue specialises in grazing style dishes to share. Here’s what we grazed on:

1) Thyme gnocchi, zucchini, olives, woodside goats cheese, pickled cherry tomatoes 

The gnocchi were super tender and the cherry tomatoes exploded with sweetness. My favourite of the evening. 9/10

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2) Cauliflower milkshake, Jamón & cheese toasty

A warm, savoury milkshake – sounds odd, right? But it was delicious. Graze’s signature dish. 9/10

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3) Salad of zucchini flowers, baby zucchini, goats curd, candied olives

The best thing about this dish was the candied olives – what a discovery! Super yum. 8/10

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4) Maple smoked ocean trout, cucumber & lemon crème fraiche

Just look at that picture. Perfectly cooked and the crème fraiche with cucumber was an excellent complement. 8/10

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5) Twice cooked pork belly, aromatic sweet corn & capsicum salsa, basil olive oil

Can’t go wrong with pork belly. Corn isn’t my ideal companion for pork, but they made it work. 8.5/10

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6) Espresso brulee, poached rhubarb

Topping was nicely done but I found the brulee a little thick. 6/10

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7) Mango Eaton Mess, salted caramel jelly

The caramel jelly was excellent against the crunchy meringue and cream. Yum! 8/10

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Kobe Jones: 13-course degustation

A few weeks ago the chance to feast on a 13-course degustation at a renowned Sydney restaurant presented itself one evening. How could I resist? Kobe Jones is ‘modern Japanese with a Californian twist’ and the menu did not disappoint. We started with a glass of sparkling wine while Vera read out the delectable menu.

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Course 1: Number One Special – crab salad and avocado wrapped in Hiramasa kingfish and baked with secret sauce

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Course 2: Sizzled Scallop Sashimi Carpaccio – sizzled with heated virgin olive oil, then drained and drizzled with wasabi pepper sauce

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Course 3 & 4: Anago Scallops – tempura Hokkaido scallops stuffed with crab salad and asparagus, drizzled with a bittersweet soy sauce glaze with Seafood Poke – Hawaiian style sashimi cubes marinated in our poke sauce

Course 5: Wagyu Tenderloin Tataki – seared and chilled, served rare with garlic, ginger and ponzu sauce 

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Course 6: Sashimi Salad – garden greens topped with fresh sashimi, crab salad and drizzled with ponzu dressing

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Course 7: Alaskan Crab – grilled to highlight the sweetness and served in the shell with fresh lime

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Course 8: Chicken Kara Age – marinated chicken coated in seasoned potato flour shallow fried, served with teriyaki sauce and chilli mayonaise

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Course 9: Hawaiian Roll – prawn, cucumber, burdock root and pineapple chilli jam, topped with tuna and avocado and drizzled with poke sauce and a bittersweet soy glaze

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Course 10: Vegetable Tempura – seasonal vegetables served with dipping sauce 

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Course 11: Volcano Roll – oven baked scallops layered on a crab salad and avocado roll with our special cream sauce and a sesame seed and shallot sprinkle

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Course 12: Wagyu Hot Rock – self-cook your wagyu just the way you like it, served with seasoning and two dipping sauces

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Course 13: Ama Ozen: Kobe Jone’s famous selection of dessert samplers with our trademark chocolate chopsticks

My favourites were Courses 1 and 11, and the chocolate fondant with green tea ice-cream on the dessert platter. I’ll be returning to this place!

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Italian degustation at Omerta, Darlinghurst #Sydney

The other night we had an Italian degustation at Omerta, a restaurant in Darlinghurst. It was divine. I am a little sad though that the photo of one of the courses did not turn out – I was too excited because it was simply amazing. I will however attempt to describe it in detail.

Degustazione

Course 1 – Cured sea scallops, green peas, bottarga, celery cress

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Note: Bottarga is salted fish roe

This dish was the perfect way to start the degustation. The stronger flavours of the cured scallops were muted by the celery cress, and an extra bite was added by the bottarga. I’m not set on the green peas working well with the dish, but then again I’m not really a fan.

Course 2 – Potato and parmesan gnocchi, ragu’ of beef

I am gutted I don’t have a photo of this. My hands must have been shaking – this was definitely the favourite of the night. The gnocchi were light and creamy and the beef was slow-cooked to perfection. The combination was melt in your mouth – I would go back to Omerta for this dish alone however I can’t see it on the menu – this degustation was a special deal on one of the daily deal sites.

Course 3 – Pork, fennel and chilli salsicce, bremata, radicchio

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I don’t even know what bremata is. Maybe the polenta-style sauce that this dish was laid upon? The sausage was tasty and not greasy, and the radicchio added the right amount of tang. The sauce was perfect because it wasn’t too rich and creamy.

Passionfruit sorbet to cleanse the palate

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Course 4 – Cremino al cioccolato

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This was definitely the second favourite dish. The soft marshmallow-like topping turned into layers of meringue, amaretto biscuit, caramel and a chocolate fondant/mousse at the bottom. The combination of flavours and textures was to die for!

Course 5 – Gorgonzola, grissini, Sardinian flat bread

I didn’t get a photo of this one for two reasons – I was too full and I wasn’t fussed over it. Gorgonzola isn’t my favourite blue cheese but the combination of the cheese, flat bread and slivers of fig were a delightful sweet and savoury finale to a night of incredible dishes.

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What fruit should I eat, and how much?

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of reading about health and nutrition. The battle to lose the ‘last 5 kilos’ is a hard battle for most people, especially those who:

  • Work in an office
  • Enjoy socializing around food and alcohol
  •  Have the occasional craving for chocolate
  •  Are over 25 years of age
  •  Have been snacking on the WRONG things

I happen to fit into all of these categories, so I had to attack each one. There’s nothing that can be done about being over 25, but I found some solutions for the other categories:

  • Join the gym and take up yoga and pilates to increase flexibility and movement
  • Limit my food and beverage socializing situations, aim to meet friends for Japanese food instead of Italian, have one glass of wine instead of four
  • Mix cacao nibs into low-fat yoghurt. If you’re gonna eat chocolate anyway, might as well make it healthy!
  • Review the types and quantities of fruit that I’m snacking on

Through marketing, advertising and the “healthy food pyramid” we’re groomed to believe that certain foods are great for us. But are they really? We’re taught that “5+ a day” is the key to a healthy life but we’re not reminded often enough that fruits which aren’t organic or in season can contain a lot of sugar but very little else. 

A few years ago I met an amazing woman, Tanya Alekseeva through a mutual friend. Tanya is a Wellness Coach who specializes in Raw Food nutrition and detoxing and is the author of downloadable book ‘Purified – Your complete 7 Day Detox Program. I love Tanya’s blog, Better Raw and I really admire what she does to educate people about improving their health.

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The lovely Tanya Alekseeva

I decided that with her knowledge of natural living, she’d be the ideal person to ask a few questions about fruit.

Solange: “We all know that fruit is good for us, but can too much snacking on fruit be a hindrance for people who are trying to lose weight?”

Tanya: “Too much of anything is, well… too much of anything. When trying to lose weight, the most important goal should be creating a balance in your diet and certainly avoiding this ‘too much of anything’ – starving included. You don’t have to starve yourself to lose the unwanted weight, instead quite the opposite. Purify the system, wake up your cells, get the metabolism working, improve your digestion and focus on elimination. All this is possible when eating an abundance of fresh organic raw vegetables, greens, nuts, seeds, grains and indeed lots of fruit.”
 

Solange: “What types of fruit and how much should be eaten daily by a person at a healthy weight?”

Tanya: “As long as you are eating a balance of all the above, there really isn’t any restriction on the quantity, but there is a catch. It is the quality of fruit that will determine your success of reaching and maintaining that healthy weight. If fruit is picked before it is fully grown, it is practically worthless as far as nutritional value is concerned. The sad part is that most fruit is picked unripe, takes weeks to reach us while in large crates seeing no sun at all and develops its sweetness in a very unnatural way off the tree, keeping the fruit in its starchy state, which makes it very difficult for our digestion. To add to that it was probably already nutrient-deprived, being grown on fertilisers and pestisides which rob the soil of minerals and making them less available to the plant. In fact some supermarket oranges have no Vitamin C at all! For these reasons it is crucial to buy organic local produce that is in season and consume it quickly. When specifically concerned about weight or while detoxing, the most beneficial fruits are all types of berries, apricots, melons, kiwi, papaya, mango, all citrus fruits and grapes.”

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Solange: “What are the best fruit options for those trying to keep fructose levels down (either from being overweight or diabetic)?”

Tanya: “For a diabetic or an overweight person concerned about diabetes, it is crucial to watch what food does to your blood sugar. In this particular case the GL score (glycemic load), which takes both the quantity of carbohydrate in the food and the quality of the carbohydrate into account, is important to know well. The lower the score, the better effect food has on stabilizing your blood sugar levels. When trying to lose weight, eat no more than 40 GL points a day (not just fruit, but all food over the day). When it comes to fruit, the lowest GL scores per serving (about 120gm) are in blackberries/blueberries/raspberries/strawberries (1 GL), cherries/grapefruit (3 GL), pears/melon/watermelon (4 GL), peaches/ apricots/ plums/ oranges (5 GL), kiwi fruit/ apples/ pineapple (6 GL), grapes/ mango (8 GL). The worst GL scores are found in dried fruits like sultanas, dates and raisins which can have scores of up to 45 GL for a 60gm serving.”

 
Solange: “Many of your recipes use raw honey or agave to sweeten the dishes. What are the benefits of these?”

Tanya: “There are many benefits of these, but if you are not familiar with the source, I wouldn’t recommend either. For example, raw natural agave nectar is an amazing cactus syrup with a very low Glycemic Index, making it safe for diabetics. However, supermarket and most store agave has been treated and heated making the sugars have adverse affects. The same goes with honey. I only use raw unpasturised manuka honey with an UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) or 5+ or more. This is a very soothing sweetener with very high anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. The best sweetener of all is Stevia, but unfortunately we can’t get it here in the UK.”

Fortunately, we can get Stevia in NZ and Australia, so if you are keen to cut back on your sugar intake, check it out.

 

WIN A HEALTHY HAMPER FROM BETTER RAW


Tanya’s blog is rapidly approaching its 1st birthday and to celebrate, Tanya is running a Healthy Hamper competition with three prizes to be won, and she will post anywhere in the world. Entries close on the 16th of April. To enter, go to Tanya’s competition page. I would be happy with the Organic Cacao Nibs alone! YUM!

Strawberry

 

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Fresh snapper with dukkah spices and veggies

This weekend I learnt that one of my friends had fresh snapper in his fridge, so conveniently I made my way over yesterday and not only had some for lunch, but took some away for dinner too. I had snapper only one other time in the last year but after this I’ve fallen for it completely. Fast, easy, nutritious and tasty! 

Here’s how I cooked it up last night:

1) Melt a dollop of butter in a pan
2) Add the fillet and sprinkle celery salt and dukkah mix to the top side. I used a dukkah mix that includes hazels, sesame seeds, coriander and cumin. 
3) After a couple of minutes turn the fillet over and sprinkle with a little more celery salt. 
4) When ready, place on a plate with a veggie accompaniment (such as stir-fried courgettes with tomatoes and mushrooms) then swirl a bit of mayonnaise on top and sprinkle with chili powder and more sesame seeds. 
5) Consume. Maybe with a glass of rosé. 

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What I tried at Taste of Auckland

Last night I went to Taste of Auckland with my lovely work colleagues. With Singapore Airlines being a major sponsor I was heavily involved in last year’s inaugural event at the Ellerslie venue. This year I’m no longer with Singapore Airlines so I didn’t see the behind-the-scenes activity but it’s apparent that the organisers have pulled it off again – this time at Victoria Park. Despite the shortage of parking, I think it was a good move. 

I looked through the menu before I went so I pretty much knew what I wanted to try. I selected dishes from Bracu, dine by Peter Gordon, Soto and Euro – and here they are:

1) Bracu – Aromatic tea and vanilla cured duck proscuitto, butter roast scampi tails, orange blossom gell and marinated beetroot

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Delicious. It came with two scampi tails but I scoffed one before taking the photo. The duck definitely had a vanilla undertone to it and was reasonably chewy but tender. The scampi were flawless and the orange blossom gell complemented all the other flavours and textures perfectly. My question to chefs: Is ‘gell’ a real word?  

2) dine by Peter Gordon – Pan-seared scallops with pickled leeks, Clevedon buffalo mozzarella, chorizo caramel and Heilala vanilla dressing 

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Scallops are probably my favourite choice of seafood so I’m not picky when it comes to how they’re prepared – simple is fine. This dish was excellent because the scallops were fresh, succulent and paired nicely with the flavours of the chorizo caramel and buffalo mozzarella. 

3) Soto – Prawn Filo Tempura with Japanese style Worchestershire sauce, tartare sauce and wasabi caviar

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I can’t say that I loved this one – I found it a bit too rich and greasy but the prawn was huge and tender and the sauces were an excellent combination for the dish. Lovely crunch and flavours but I’d prefer this as a smaller portion with a beer in hand at a summer BBQ.

4) Euro – Simon Gault Alaskan King crab and prawn in jalapeno creme fraiche sauce topped with tuna wafer

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I should have tried something else because I tried this last year, but it’s THAT GOOD. The creme fraiche isn’t imposing or too rich, the little bits of crab and prawn are mouthwatering and the slivers of tuna wafer seem to have a life of their own as they flutter over the heat of the creme. I like this.

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Grilled aubergine with four different toppings

The other night I went to Nishiki in Freeman’s Bay and was reminded of how much I like their grilled eggplant dish. There’s very little ‘grilled’ about it though – they’re in fact first deep fried then grilled at the end with miso cheese on top. Absolutely delicious but I never cook anything deep fried so I tried my hand at 100% grilled aubergine.

First I grilled two whole aubergines at a high a high temperature for about 45 minutes, rotating every 10 minutes. For this part, the grill was on with fan force and I’d poked a few holes in the aubergines with a fork to let the air out. 

After this I turned the oven onto ‘grill only’ and cut the aubergines in half, then placed them under the grill for another 10 minutes. 

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The next stage was to add the first part of the toppings: chopped red onion and crushed garlic drizzled with olive oil, then grill for another 5 minutes.

Finally I added the last of the toppings, which were:

1) Chopped cashews with feta cheese
2) Bean sprout mixture with chopped cashews a dash of sesame oil
3) Mozzarella 
4) A dash of soy sauce with basil leaves

Grill until the cheese melts, then enjoy!

Copyright
All images appearing on this blog (solange.posterous.com) may not be reproduced, copied or manipulated without the written permission of Solange Francois© 2010

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Where to eat in Victoria, BC

Staying with my foodie friends Kelly and Wil in Victoria was awesome because we visited some great restaurants and they gave me tips on where to go during the day when they were at work. The result was that I ate out in Victoria more than any other city I’ve been to recently. Here are some of the highlights:

Floyd’s Diner
Kel and Wil recommended that I visit this place for breakfast. The menu was extensive and I was not feeling experimental so I went for the McFloydfin which consisted of an English muffin, egg, ham, tomato, chipotle mayo and cheddar cheese served with potatoes. At $7.95 it was a great deal, filled me up and was very tasty. But what was best about this place? The service. It was flawless and super friendly.

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ReBar Modern Food
Where do you go in Victoria when you are craving a light, tasty salad? To ReBar! I had a salad made with quinoa, rice, greens and avocado and yes, it’s simple, but it was delicious and made me feel good. Accompanied with a fresh carrot, ginger and apple juice, it went down a treat.

Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub
On my second to last night the three of us headed to Spinnakers with the intention of just having a couple of beers with dinner. Instead, we tasted pretty much the entire beer menu! For my main I chose the BC Noodle Bowl (steamed rice noodles, locally produced tofu, seasonal vegetables in a thai style tamarind sauce topped with pea shoots with a side of peanut sauce). Kel and I felt it was necessary to get dessert too, so we each selected five chocolate truffles to be paired with even more beer. Our idea of a perfect Wednesday night 🙂

Copyright

All images appearing on this blog (solange.posterous.com) may not be reproduced, copied or manipulated without the written permission of Solange Francois© 2010

 

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Escargots, confit de canard et macarons (Snails, duck and macarons)

Due to frogs being out of season while I was in Paris I had to try some other traditional cuisine before departing. And it doesn’t get much better than this:

  • Escargots (snails) which were prepared with a butter/garlic/parsley sauce
  • Confit de canard avec pommes persillées (duck with parsley new potatoes)
  • Macarons (a sweet biscuit that comes in all sorts of flavours, including anise, berry, chocolate, vanilla, caramel…etc)

All of these delights were delightful, even the snails which were actually so good that I had them another time.

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Copyright

All images appearing on this blog (solange.posterous.com) may not be reproduced, copied or manipulated without the written permission of Solange Francois© 2010

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