Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

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Savoury and sweet pastizzis at The Original Maltese Café in Surry Hills Sydney.

Coffee art at Strand Arcade in Sydney.

Sardinian cooking class with Pilu at Freshwater‘s Giovanni Pilu at Accoutrement in Sydney.

Bacon and egg breakfast sandwich at Mr Stuzzichini in Hunters Hill Sydney.

Burrata and beet salad at Pendolino in Sydney.

Spectacular vista at Café Harbour View at Taronga Zoo in Mosman Sydney.

A country lunch at Grazing in Gundaroo.

Milanese cuisine at Balla by Stefano Manfredi in Pyrmont Sydney.

Pastries at Bécasse Bakery in Westfield Sydney.

Malaysian hawker food at Sassy’s Red by Chinta Ria in Westfield Sydney.

Regional Chinese fare at Spice Temple by Neil Perry in Sydney.

Scones at The Old Bakery Tea Rooms in Berrima.

Vegetarian cooking class with Poppy‘s Jerry Traunfeld at PCC West Seattle.

Lunch at Vessel in Downtown Seattle.

Dungeness crab, seaweed noodle, spicy red curry and crème fraîche at Revel in Fremont.

Chocolate tasting at Northwest Chocolate Festival.

This is a belated final post of my trip home in November. It’s been just over three months since I was in Australia and in that time we’ve had our first full winter in Seattle. There’s been plenty of rain, snow, sleet, wind and hail. But there have also been enough glorious days to sustain us through the darkest and wettest of the Pacific Northwest season. Sydney has suffered a drenched summer with mild temperatures and we experienced the prelude during our two weeks there. Thankfully our last day in Sydney was a lovely souvenir, a sundress and bare limbs day.

I had five items on my must eat list.
1. Chinese
2. Thai
3. Momofuku Seiōbo
4. Jamie’s Italian
5. Adriano Zumbo

We walked to The Star in the afternoon to complete number five.

We have been loyal patrons at Adriano Zumbo since it opened in 2007. His sweet treats have special meaning for us as the talented and passionate pâtissier made our wedding cake (croquembouche) and desserts (macarons in four flavours). The original Balmain patisserie is a narrow room with a glass counter displaying his whimsical creations where the queue was regularly out on the footpath. He has since expanded to several locations and the one at The Star greeted us with a radiant neon pink sign.

The concept store has a patisserie on the left and a dessert train on the right which was closed on Sunday.

Each year Adriano Zumbo celebrates his birthday with Zumboron Day. This year there were sixty flavours of macarons!

A sample of each flavour was lined along the window to tempt us. Left to right: finger bun (Australian iced bread), fried chicken, and gin and tonic.

Left to right: liquorice, Margherita pizza and mandarin.

Left to right: toasted marshmallow, vanilla ecstasy and Vegemite.

The interior of the patisserie was bright and funky. Desserts in cone stands enticed passers-by, a bathtub was topped with high tea tiers and Zumbo, Adriano’s cookbook, and the table has purple shoes!

A 360 degree view of each dessert with a description card.

Ovens warmed savoury quiches, pies and sausage rolls.

Peach boxes encased seasonal macarons.

‘In case of emergency break glass’ for sugar hit!

I heart Zumbo.

The stainless steel kitchen with containers of ingredients.

Trolleys of macarons for Zumboron Day.

Man Goes Peanuts: peanut butter crunch, mango compote, mango burnt honey mousse and pain d’épices. Peanut butter and mango were a curious combination in this layered and textural dessert.

Tarte aux fruits de la passion: passionfruit curd and pâte sucrée. The passionfruit tart and opera gâteau are my favourites at Adriano Zumbo. A glossy two toned disc was studded with passionfruit seeds, a perfect balance of luscious piquancy.

We savoured our last night in Sydney with a bottle of Champagne and macarons.

Our cache of of macarons: butterscotch caramels, chocolate orange, cinnamon doughnut, coffee, pandan and coconut, passionfruit and yoghurt, rice pudding, salted butter popcorn, toasted marshmallow, and vanilla ecstasy.

These colourful jewels were a sentimental farewell to Down Under.

My beloved Sydney, I miss you dearly.

It’s been nearly two months since our meal at Momofuku Seiōbo. David Chang‘s first restaurant outside of New York City is located in The Star. The owners of the only casino in Sydney spent one billion dollars on the refurbishment over two years.

Torrential rain and peak hour traffic had us worried we would be late. We walked briskly, determined to be on time. Except we didn’t know where we were going. Located on the ground floor, there were no signs to direct you through the labyrinth. I recognised the names of the new restaurants and when we stopped outside Adriano Zumbo I panicked as we were at an exit. I looked left and right, and finally spotted the signature peach.

A wall of white slats and tinted glass was the exterior of Momofuku Seiōbo. We stared at the mirrored peach, squinting for an inside glimpse and I hesitated on how to enter the restaurant. Push or pull? And on what? Thankfully the door was opened for us!

A little flustered, we sat at the bar for an apéritif as we waited for our dining companions. We had returned from Brisbane that afternoon and we got into a confusing conversation with the bartender and maître d’ about where we were from and how far we had travelled for this dinner!

The half a dozen tables in the dining room were empty as patrons were seated at the counter of the open plan kitchen. A modern design of concrete walls and slate tiles, the interior was accented with artwork.

The dim lighting and muted tones showcased the open plan kitchen, radiant in stainless steel and a mirrored ceiling. Four of us sat at a right angle corner with a perfect view of the busy but quiet kitchen. An eclectic soundtrack of eighties and nighties pop and rock played in the background.

There was no à la carte menu at Momofuku Seiōbo. The fifteen course tasting menu was AU$175 per person and an additional AU$95 for beverage pairings.

Snacks were eaten by hand. Clockwise from top right: mochi, shiitake chips, nori and unknown. I did not take any notes and some of the courses were different on the printed menu and thus, my apologies for the unknown which was listed as smoked potato.

I had been to Momofuku Noodle Bar and Momofuku Má Pêche in New York but the pork bun eluded me. Wedged in a pillowy steamed bun was tender pork belly garnished with cucumber and hoisin sauce. A cute bottle of Sriracha was optional condiment. If David Chang opened a pork bun food truck, people would queue for blocks for these. Christina Tosi bakes crack pie, David Chang makes crack bun.

Our first course with cutlery was lightly cured striped trumpeter with blood orange jelly and dusted with nori. Ethereal and fresh, this whetted our appetite for local ingredients.

Spears of caramelised white asparagus and green onions accompanied a lump of marron sprinkled with Szechuan pepper.

We were enjoying watching the chefs cook, plate and serve. We noticed a man at the back mixing a vat of by hand and we speculated that it was kimchee. The man looked up and we gasped. It was David Chang! He was in the kitchen most of the evening, supervising, tasting, steering. The chefs huddled and listened intently when he spoke.

In a large ceramic bowl, a beautiful layer of radish and edible flowers shielded mini cubes of beef, fermented black bean and burnt watermelon oil. It was pungent and had a distinct Chinese character.

Beneath charred chunks of Jerusalem artichoke were slivers of smoked eel and pink grapefruit.

There was a collective sigh as we ate our first bite of swimmer and spanner crab in butter and pepper sauce with Yorkshire pudding. It was delicate yet intense, an accent at the half way point.

Silky steamed egg custard was simply enhanced by toasted rice and brown butter broth.

The hand torn pasta was a curious but delicious course. Wide ribbons were covered with pickled cherry tomatoes, whipped goat cheese and deep fried basil leaves. Spiked with chilli and mint, it was a tangy, textural combination laced with heat.

After nine courses a glazed pork shoulder appeared at the plating station under a heat lamp. Various chefs took turns staring at it. We glanced at it between courses and mused that it could be a staff meal.

An encore from the striped trumpeter manifested as a fillet with fennel and wakame.

Seared lamb neck, halved pickled turnips and a quenelle of roasted puréed daikon was elegant. The acidity and bitterness balanced the meaty medallion.

A whimsical interpretation of cheese course, the sharpness of finely grated Pecorino was tempered by honey liquorice and bee pollen.

The first of two dessert courses was shards of chanterelle shaped milk skins stacked atop the wattleseed meringue, a native Australian bush food, and malt ice cream.

Asian cuisines are not known for desserts and I was surprised that there were two on the tasting menu. Separately, miso ice cream, pickled strawberries, toasted rice pudding and mochi seemed like a flavour sampler. Mixed together though and it was a delectable medley of sweet, sour and umami.

The degustation had progressed at a steady pace and the wine, beer and sake pairings were exceptional. We had whiled away two and a half hours and we were considering digestifs when we were presented with the slow cooked pork shoulder that we had been greedily eyeing! In a shallow pool of marinade, we gently pulled at the caramelised pork with our fingers and it was the perfect conclusion.

A printed copy of the tasting menu was souvenir for an impeccable experience.

Sydney has a high cost of living and this was the most expensive meal we’ve had. It’s been a challenge to articulate the details so please read the professional reviews by Pat Nourse and Terry Durack. Momofuku Seiōbo was my highlight of 2011!

The renovated Westfield is at the heart of the Sydney shopping district. Mirrors and polished metal feature throughout and the intersecting levels are just as confusing as the old one. Sydneysiders are shopping at the flagship stores and eating at the restaurants. From burgers to fish and chips, I love its interpretation of a food court.

On a gloomy morning I rolled up my jeans and splashed in puddles in flip-flops en route to Bécasse Bakery. Justin and Georgia North have relocated their two hatted restaurant to Westfield Sydney and expanded with a bakery and Quarter Twenty One, a restaurant, store, cookery school and catering business.

Conveniently positioned near the express escalator, Bécasse and Quarter Twenty One is on the left as you alight and the bakery is on the right. There is a long narrow window with a view of the bakers kneading, shaping, glazing and piping. An L shaped glass counter was lined with delectable sweet and savoury items.

A hessian sack and coffee beans on display.

From left to right: petit gateau opera, petit carrot cake, petit pistachio friand and pear tart.

From left to right: lemon tart, and banana and salted peanut brittle tartlet.

From left to right: gateau Saint Honoré, vanilla bean and passionfruit cheesecake, and mille feuille.

From left to right: pineapple and coconut muffin, gluten free brownie, and brioche flower.

From left to right: almond croissant, mixed berry danish and danish sultana snail.

Bread loaves and rolls.

Chocolate and hazelnut are a perfect pairing and a favourite of mine. The snail was dense and spread with a thick chocolate hazelnut paste.

The cinnamon sugar twist was fragrant and flaky. It was a delight to uncurl the pastry with sticky fingers.

I meandered across to Quarter Twenty One afterwards. The name is a reference to the purported weight of the human soul and Quarter Twenty One ‘put our soul into the food we prepare’.

A glass wall and a row of bright lights flaunted the wine racks.

The store stocked a selection of local and imported artisan produce, house cured charcuterie and take-home meals.

We shall have a meal at Bécasse or Quarter Twenty One on our next trip home!

Bills is synonymous with breakfast. Bill Granger is renowned for his scrambled eggs, ricotta hotcakes and corn fritters. With three restaurants in Sydney, three in Japan and one in London, he is a successful businessman. The temperamental Sydney spring had us splashing in puddles to walk to Bills in Surry Hills.

Bills was busy on a midweek morning. We added our umbrella to the bucket by the door and were seated quickly. The dining room was brightly lit, painted in white, and furnished with birch tables and chairs. A communal table was near the entrance and decorated with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

All the tables had a view of the kitchen. Shelves were laden with pastel coloured ceramic bowls with eggs and other fresh produce. Loaves of bread were stacked in a corner.

A glossy tiled wall displayed stemware.

The barista pulled Single Origin Roasters organic coffee.

I ordered Bills’ signature dish of scrambled eggs with sourdough toast. A thick slab of butter was wedged in the two slices of sourdough toast. Two eggs were folded with a third of a cup of cream, the recipe for these famous scrambled eggs. Soft and delicate, the eggs were decadently delectable.

Mr S selected the healthy toasted grain cereal with vanilla poached fruit served with yoghurt and honey.

It was a pleasant couple of hours catching up with friends and enjoying the hospitality at Bills.

Gin Garden in Establishment was my favourite for weekday lunch in Sydney. A popular bar by night, patrons return during the day for its convenient location and consistent quality.

An ornate room is lined with columns and features a marble bar. Brightly lit with a high ceiling, bar tables surround the perimeter.

Gin Garden is at the back, wrought iron gates open to an urban oasis. A glass roof is partially covered by bamboo which filters in natural light.

Lush green plants grow along the exposed brick walls and the gentle splashes of the fountain amplify the tropical ambience.

The menu is split into Thai and Australian. Thai classics included beef salads, stir fries, curries and noodles. Lamb, burgers, fish and chips, schnitzel and pasta were categorised as Australian.

A maître d’ seats diners and from there it is self-service. You order and pay at the bar, and pick up the meals on rattan trays when the electronic pager beeps and buzzes.

I had a lovely lunch with an ex-colleague. In between conversations, we enjoyed our plates of pad see ew. Stir fried in a sticky soy sauce was a generous serving of rice noodles, chicken, carrot, snow peas, Chinese broccoli and egg garnished with chilli. A wedge of lemon and sprigs of coriander freshened the meal.

We whiled away a couple of hours in the greenhouse, reluctantly exited into the spring rain.

In the heart of Sydney is the historical area of The Rocks. Narrow laneways and steep stairs wind around cobblestone footpaths, sandstone buildings and timber wharves, I have fond memories of the Walsh Bay precinct. Home of the Sydney Theatre Company, the waterfront has a spectacular view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Luna Park.

Across from The Wharf is Fratelli Fresh, a boutique providore. Poppy coloured aluminium chairs and sun umbrellas lined the sidewalk for al fresco dining.

Several aisles of produce are on the right and Café Sopra is on the left. The seasonal menu was handwritten on a wall chalkboard in a spacious and well lit dining room.

At the entrance was a rectangular bar and I was seated at the counter for a leisurely weekday lunch.

Dotted with coin sized red tiles, the counter was set with printed placemats.

A zucchini flower was stuffed with five Italian cheeses and lightly battered. The delicate crisp shell encased a molten mass of cheeses.

There are several permanent items on the seasonal menu and one of my favourites is the farfelle with mixed mushrooms, green peppercorns and Pecorino. A large serving of al dente pasta, it was a hearty dish with the earthy flavours of fungi.

A classic English dessert, the banoffee pie has a biscuit crust, dulce de leche, sliced bananas, cream and grated chocolate. The decadent layers were a sweet treat.

It was another delicious meal at Café Sopra!


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