Showing posts from May, 2012

Lolli Redini - Orange, NSW

On a cold night, with single digit temperatures, venison does warm the palate. Siting next to me, Chris chose, as mains, the loin of Mandagery Creek venison, garnished by a horseradish cream, generously swamped by slow cooked and spiced red cabbage and richly accompanied by Waru organic beets and a dollop of celeriac gratin. (picture above).  Welcome to the inner sanctum of the Lolli Redini.

A refreshing choice of side serve is having a choice of green coloured vegetables (broccoli and beans in picture above) doused with Le Barre olive oil and a twist of lemon.  My first taste of Lolli was in the ocean trout carpaccio (image below), as topped up by garlic toasts, horseradish remoulade, celeriac, green apple slices and mint leaves.  Remoulade is a French inspired sauce based on mayonnaise or aioli and may contain paprika, capers and anchovies, always popular to accompany seafood dishes.  Celeriac, also referred to as a knob celery, is turnip-rooted. A carpaccio is an Italian appetiser…

Canobolas-Smith Vineyard - Orange, NSW

There are easily more than a few dozen vineyards in the Orange District of New South Wales. Apart from its other reputation as the food basket of the state, its viticulture traditions and output are spread out along Pinnacle Road ( mountain topography, as with Ross Hill estate); Cargo Road in Lidster; the Escort Way (also known as the Borenore Trail, with names like Philip Shaw and Barton Creek); the Canowindra Trail; and the Eastern Heritage Trail. It was along Cargo Road that I enjoyed discovering the Canobolas-Smith Cellar Door, Winery and vineyards. This is a mature establishment since 1986 and significantly dry-grown area, which specialises in the Alchemy Cabernet blend. William Rikard-Bell and Murray Smith run the operations here.

We met Murray, an easy going and down to earth fella, patient at letting us explore our palate, starting with the sublime and moving us on the path  towards the Alchemy. Alchemy is a combination of the very best in Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc a…

Santa Fe Portuguese - Wollongong, NSW

Tender cuts of pork, accompanied by appetising potato bites, olives, mussels on the shell and a squeeze of lemon, were served on a plate with traditional Portuguese markings.  (picture above). This was my dinner at a Portuguese-themed restaurant/cafe in downtown Wollongong.  The setting is casual yet traditional.  They open early in the morning, and seem to focus on a breakfast and branch clientele, but also offer wholesome meals in the evenings that can be the basis of an informal family outing or just with a group of mates. Are the meals from Brazil or from the Iberian coast? There are no table cloths, just clean white tables with a drinks fridge but coffee is made fresh at the bar. Not too many tables at this one-shop place with Crust Pizza across the road and Lower Crown East a few doors to the west.  the feel is also Mediterranean, with unique looking crystal or metal lamps and mirror borders.  The decor is modern and yet a touch of ethnic.

My fellow diners at the table all had …

A Life In the City Centre - The Shady Side

Living in the city centre, you may wonder, at times, what lies beyond.  The sun sets over the plains or the hills, but the true nature of outer suburbs or countryside do not fully reveal themselves in the city, only suggestive in produce from apparently faraway places, visitors arriving in transit and eager for what they do not have back in their neighbourhoods and in the occasional feeling of city dwellers that they may not have most of the things they need.  This often is heightened when there's the longing to get out of the city centre on long weekends, for  day excursions or just for a change of air.  The immediate effect of doing so is a real sense of more space - to roam, to breathe in and to dream of.

There are many shady lanes in a city centre, those of lack of light, those which are thrown in shadows and those meaning of a lack of character.  Even the neon lights may not help,  for after a while, display truly what they are - artificial, superficial and dependent on power…

Racine by Arantz - Orange, NSW

Shaun and Willa Arantz do not only operate a restaurant, but offer a cellar door, cafe, vineyard, events and a wholesome experience.  The dishes are lovingly created, shaped and served in a manner complementary to making wine, with patience, much thought, innovation, care and an eye for the taste. The surrounding La Coline vineyard offers Pinot Noir, sparkling and Riesling on the surface, but once you get inside and saviour what is beneath the surface, you begin to better understand the underlying passion and drive that motivates the Racines.  For example, earlier this year, Willa selected her favourite art pieces for Shaun to then create follow up inspired dishes for an event - the Eating Art Dinner.  This 'eating art" concept comes alive when you see a dish like the twice cooked pork belly (image above) accompanied by rather sweet tasting, local produce green beans.

I chose the entree of whole pressed deboned duck (image above). Inside the layers of what can be compared to…

Bakehouse On Wentworth - Blackheath, NSW

An autumn's day, the air gets cooler as we climb the roads up the Blue Mountains. There is a need to nourish, to refresh, to take a stroll. Our subconscious longs for warm , aromatic and reassuring food. We find a street like out of Monet, with leaves of orange, red, brown, yellow and more. Oh yes, there is an ATM thrown in, with a line of people waiting to get some cash. The entrance may be unassuming, but our noses follow the trial of freshly baked bread, pastries and pies. Welcome to the Bakehouse on Wentworth Street, in the cosy village of Blackheath, nestled in the Blue Mountains of NSW. Above image, the chicken , leek and mushroom pie, full of flavours, rather large for lunch but with such a toasty crisp bite.

Scones (image above) fire the imagination of the life of the first European settlers, good preserves and fire place evenings.  One has a wide selection of breads, rolls and buns (shelves in background above) to consume for snacks, with a meal and for breakfasts.  The …

Guylian Cafe, Darling Quarter - Sydney

Guylian Belgian Chocolate now has three cafes in Sydney CBD.  My first experience was at the outlet in the Opera Quays, along the walkway to the Opera House, a strategic location with views of the Harbour Bridge and passing sea vehicles of various kinds.  Recently I had the opportunity to check out the Darling Quarter joint, a much bigger place but with the same smiles of service and in fact more variety of offerings.  I have not yet visited the third outlet at 91 George Street at the Rocks.  Quality hazelnuts, cocoa butter and West African sourced cocoa beans underlie the Guylian product.  Above image, centre, shows the a wedding portrait of Guy and Liliane Foubert, the business founders.

The range of obvious products can be described as pralines, fruit mousses, milk choc, dark choc and truffles. For sit down meals and savoury stuff, you can have the choice of breakfast creations, waffles and pancakes, cookies, muffins, macaroons, bread snacks, salads and late night caps. There are …

A Life in the City Centre - The Bright Side

In a city centre, if you live there, I imagine that one can more easily try new places, whether for a gig, catch up with mates, a quiet time with the special one or experiment the menu at a new eatery. The social media harps on suggesting and trying such new joints and people you know or on Facebook actually talk about them. Okay, so dress up and off you go and reach there in under half an hour (for Sydney or Melbourne that is). No fuss, you can check out what the demographics in that new cool place are wearing or chatting about - and quickly pick up what you want and decide not to. You do not even have to catch a ride on a vehicle, but walk, passing quickly by the jam lock traffic on city streets. The weather can be inclement, but you can duck from one sheltered buiding to another.

If you have moved on from the roast or salad and two veg combo meal for daily consumption, you do find a wider array of choices, especially in the exotic stuff (yes, chicken legs are available, if you a…

St Honore CakeShop, Sydney Chinatown - Yum Cha Possibilities

I reckon the Cantonese egg tart (pictured above), or the tarn tart, available at most yum cha sessions and in southern Chinese styled bakeries, is an excellent example of cuisine fusion, at its best, or viewed at the other end of the spectrum, an illustration of copying the Portuguese tart sans the caramel sauce. Or is it actually the other way? Granted that the texture and flavour of the custard can be different between the South Atlantic and South China Sea versions, the pivotal evidence is in Macau's past, where Portuguese adventurers of old came aboard and colonised the place, married the native girls and the rest is history - Eurasians bearing Portuguese names but looking like the average Guangdong person perhaps. 

I was at the St Honore Cake Shop along Sussex Street in Sydney's Chinatown recently (near the side with Paddys Market and the Market City Shopping Centre).  I instinctively looked for my fav yum cha piece, the char siew sou, oven baked pastries with a savoury…

Imperial Kingdom Chinese Restaurant, Glen Waverley, Melbourne

I visited the Imperial Kingdom at Glen Waverly, not once but twice, within an auspicious weekend, once for yum cha one day and then for a wedding dinner another evening. I can remember how the restaurant was beautifully transformed for Maggie and Eu-Gene Yeap's dinner reception at this venue. The dishes were carefully chosen for good omen and brought out the best in what the Imperial could offer. Lobster, prawns, crispy chicken, delicious noodles and extensively decorated banquet tables (each with the piece de resistance being the variety of floral bouquets) remain delightfully in my heart and mind's eye.

You walk up a staircase under a cover and reach the foyer of the restaurant. The dining area sits on this upper level, so I could easily see the goings on around the nearby junction, highway and neighbouring activities. Having this so-called bird's eye view delightfully reassures one of securely seated in a strategic lookout, especially during the change of colours fro…

Lees Malaysian - Sydney CBD

In the heart of bustling Sydney's city centre lies the HSBC Centre, off George Street, and the street entry food court has a range of office lunch time food providers. The one special to my heart is nearest the main entry, a branch of Lees Malaysian, offering an equal mix of Chinese Australian dishes and Malaysian staples like curry laksa, satay skewers and the classic har mee (prawn sufficed stock soup accompanied by vermicelli or Hokkien noodles). In all these years, my penchant for their version of the har mee has not abated.  I recall with fondness even now, how I would ensure having this dish for dinner before going home to the Sydney suburbs. The bus stop I used was only a stone's throw away along Druitt Street and I would gingerly time myself for enough indulging in this dish before catching the public transport home. This outlet of Lees Malaysian also opens late to almost 7pm each weekday evening, so it was great to visit after work or gym.  Above image - the Mongolia…