Wednesday, January 04, 2012

[Broadbeach] Mme. Grenouille

In case you are wondering........I am still alive.

Sorry for the lack of posts.

As you know I am back in Brunei for good. It's so hot here goodness :-(

Still waiting and waiting and move into our new home.

Friends and colleagues,'it's considered fast [liao] you know.'

Goodness sake we've been back since August 2010. Ah well, this is Brunei's efficiency, just so you know and still waiting......but the accommodation is confirmed though.

I must continue the Brisvegas food story before I leave this blog for good. I still have not decided. To close this blog and start a new one or just rename the blog as it will be Brunei and beyond foodie stories from now on. Well, after my backlog on Brisbane and Oz's foodie posts, of course. If you have any thoughts just let me know.

Ah Mme. Grenouille, a wannabe french patisserie run by the Sushi Train gorup. I must say they are doing a good job. I still prefer Chouquette but they do a mean macaron and marshmallow especially anything with passionfruit. Wow, the flavours packed a punch and will have you crying out for more.

Mme. Grenouille

The coffee was so so but iced chocolate is da bomb. I think they are famous for their mango mousse cake. Macaron may look rough and lumpy but actually tasted quite good, soft and chewy shells with well flavoured ganache, do try the passionfruit & malibu.

After tea-ing, we were all set for the beach then the pool and the spa. We had mee goreng and takeaway pizza for dinner. Then just lazed around in the Meriton apartment.

Wonderful day.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

[Brisbane] Yummylicious chocolate high tea at Monty's Chocolate, Paddington

Monty's Chocolate
155 Latrobe Terrce
Paddington, 4064

Tel: (07) 3369 3135

Enter Monty's and you arrive at Chocolate heaven!! And possibly beyond hehe.

Below is chocolate high tea set with two coffee or tea for AUD$15!!!! Yes F-I-F-T-E-E-N!!

Chocolate high tea@Monty's
As soon as this offer appeared on 'Jump-on-it', I straight away click 'buy' without giving it even 0.000001 second of thought. Hehe, what a bargain it turned out to be!

Most most terrific way to spend a lazy afternoon sitting al-fresco, enjoying the best of chocolate. Ahhhh, such is the life, for a chocoholic that is.

You get an assortment of the legendary Pralus single origin chocolate square and a Coppenneur vanilla/cocoa nibs milk chocolate; salted caramel chocolate balls; candy covered chocolates; two hand-made chocolates; two chocolate pots and two coffee or tea.

Assorted Pralus@Monty's

Pralus chocolates, needless to say are exceptional and our unanimous favourite is surprisingly Tanzanie because it has an end berry note to it (very subtle) which is what we detested before with acidic chocolate.

What blew me away is surprisingly the Coppeneur Menavava because it is milk chocolate and I only eat dark chocolate. But Menavava is perhaps the BEST chocolate I have tasted so far. In terms of texture and flavour, it wins hands down and I hate vanilla.....the cocoa nibs lend a different texture while toning down the sweetness, very clever.

Chocolate balls with liquid salted caramel and dusted with unsweetened cocoa is seductive and luxurious. A ball of this after dinner will send you to cloud nine regardless of what you ate for dinner (like junky pizza from chain pizza shops).

Those hand-made chocolates are very good. We got the raspberry butter in dark chocolate (square) and berries puree in dark chocolate (ball). Both are delicious with an intense flavour. The owner explained that they only use seasonal fruits to cook the 'butter' or puree filling and really cooked them down, no preservative added.

As for candied chocolate balls, we are not a fan. the candy coating was sweet. Well, they are sugar after all, duh... hehehe.

Lots of people comes through Monty's door for the chocolate pot. It is simply melted chocolate you eat rather than drink and just slightly sweet with a hint of salt. Personally I am not a fan. Other than pure chocolate, I am not a fan of it in any other form, like chocolate cake, ice-cream, biccies, mousse, ewwww, get them away from me please.

Hot chocolate@Monty's

Hmmm, luscious thick melty chocolate, are you hooked yet? Get yourself to Monty's Chocolate.

And you are welcome, hehehe......

[Brisbane] Madtongsan, Korean food at Warrigal Square

Madtongsan III
South Suburbs
shop 12/261 Warrigal Rd
Brisbane, 4113

Tel: (07) 3841 1150

Madtongsan@Warrigal Sq

Seafood pancake@Madtongsan Warrigal
Pancake was soggy and dotted with unidentified little pieces of 'muscles' seafood flavour.

Bibimbap@Madtongsan Warrigal
Again the red pot of fiery soup contained the same unidentified seafood flavoured 'muscles'.

I failed to understand why the place is so popular or anyone wanting to eat those unidentified forzen to death tiny muscles. Really, please enlighten me..........

Thursday, September 15, 2011

[Brisbane] Skybury coffee

Skybury Australian Coffee Centre
136 Ivicevic Road
Paddy's Green, Mareeba
Queensland 4880 Australia

If you are in the search of a local coffee within a reasonable food mile, look no further than Skybury.

I was hopping from stall to stall at Queensland Food and Wine show 2010 (I know, this post is wayyyyyy overdue) when suddenly a pack of coffee was thrusted in my face and I had to take two steps back to actually see what was being 'thrown' (hehe) at me.

Local coffee? Hmm, why not. Though I am not into drip or cafetierred coffee, I am keen to give this a try since it's local.

Skybury coffee

Skybury coffee1
Pre-ground coffee is packed into a sachet which will fit most cup/mug top.

Coffee itself smell really good and surprisingly smooth to the palate with a medium body. It's quite good for drip coffee. It's perfect for those on the go, all you need is a cup and hot water, voila! instant coffee that taste like it could come from a cafe.

Perfect pairing the coffe with pancake and ice-cream, yumm...

Curry puff
Or if you prefer savoury, you could have asian-themed curry puff.

You still can taste the coffee after eating these rather strong flavoured food. I reckon it's a keeper in the pantry.

Curry puff inside
Curry puff cross-section.

Enjoy coffee! Hooray coffee! Kudos to the coffee growers, you make our day (coffee drinkers at least)! Yay!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

[Mermaid Beach] Little Truffle

Little Truffle Dining Room & Bar
2444 gold coast highway, corner Bondi avenue
Mermaid beach 4218
07 55 265 033

Little Truffle

After leaving Kingscliff, we made our way to Tweed Heads to have a look at the oyster farm. Alas, the place was closed :-(.

Birds Bay Oyster Farm
Birds Bay Oyster Farm

Lunch was at Little Truffle.
Lt Truffle Mermaid Beach

Lt Truffle
Classical dining room

There was a choice of either 'Modern' or 'Classical' dining room to choose from. Personally I prefer the 'Classical' because of the presence of table cloth. We went back another time to sit in the 'Modern dining room', it was pleasant but without table cloth the cutleries keep sliding everywhere around the table, quite annoying. However, 'Classical dining room' is near the back alleyway door whick keep opening and closing when the chef went in and out to get into the pantry/cool room, quite annoying too.

We went for lunch and they have a simple lunch menu; two courses $35, three courses $42, both comes with a glass of wine.

Stuffed zucchini flower@Lt Truffle
Fried zucchini flowers filled with feta and capers, tomato relish

The other choice on the current menu is shaved Wagyu bresaola, celeriac remoulade, fresh horseradish.

Zucchini flowers was delicately deep-fried but the filling was too tart and heavy/stodgy for me. I prefer it to be lighter for an entree, say mousse of feta/salmon. But still, it was a tasty dish and goes well with the tomato relish which cuts right through the stodginess of the filling.

Bug ravioli@Lt Truffle
Moreton bay bug and prawn tortellini, sweet mustard fruit buerre blanc

It's hard to find well-made tortellinis. Little Truffle's version is perhaps the best I've had so far. The skin thin and resilient, filling smooth, well-seasoned. Very pleasant to eat especially with the sweet butter sauce. Princess was still singing praises for the sauce for the rest of the day. These days its hard to impress her unless you are outstanding. She turned her nose at her plate (mine and Big King's) at Manly Pavillion recently but that is another story altogether (yes, chialat, the place really buay tang, even plating was horrible). Both restaurants shared similar concept of food. Though without a hat, I much prefer Little Truffle, just that, it does not have a killer view like Manly Pavillion does but the food has class.

The other choice for the main is red wine braised lamb shanks, creamed potato, red onion jam, green beans. I had the tortellinis both time we visited simply because they are absolutely delicious!

Fish&potatoes@Lt Truffle
Fish tempura and fried potatoes

Freshest of fish and crispy perfectly mushy potatoes with crunhy skin makes the Little Princess absolutely delightful. She refused to share her potatoes :-( and only allowed us to finish off her fish when she can't finish.

Lt Truffle lamb
Roasted rack of lamb, onion jam 4 bone/8 bone 37/67

Big King ordered the lamb on my order haha.

The lamb came and we were quite disappointed, it was still a bit raw (still a little bloody) for us, we asked for medium. The sinew on the meat was still white and not even slightly charred. Should we send this back? We hardly do fine dining so we were unsure. In the end, we stick with it. The raw taste was quite unforgiving not even after dousing it with the thick and syrupy jus (aren't jus suppose to be flowing texture a little runnier than sauce?). It has a side serve of a tian of potatoes which was tasty. The chef seem to have a flair with potatoes.

Assiette of desserts@Lt Truffle
Assiette of desserts $29

Assiette - a selection of all items on the dessert menu comprising of petit blackberry soufflé, white chocolate sauce; vanilla bean panna cotta, strawberry jelly, rose granita; warm chocolate pudding, caramel, double cream, honeycomb

Look at the magnificent souffle tower! And no it did not collapse even after I spent considerable time snapping it. It tasted as good as it looks. I don't understand when people mention souffle has to be devoured fast as it collapsed as soon as it was brought out. They should all come and learn from Little Truffle's pastry chef. Inside of the souffle was perfectly cooked, oozy but still hold its shape rather than those splat of failed marshmallowy inside you get at most restaurants. Having said that, the panna cotta was some of the worst I ate, it was extremely rubbery, if you stick your spoon inside, well, it will stick unless you pull it out hard hehe. But the rose granita was beautiful, I could have dunk bucket loads of this down my throat, hehe it was that good. Big King said chocolate pudding was good and inside meltingly oozy but honeycomb was extremely chewy, it stuck to my teeth and refused to budge for a long time. Darn.

The second time we went back, the standard of the food was maintained with the tortellinis still smackingly good and panna cotta still rubbery, hehe. I like consistency at restaurants/F&B establishments. If you are anywhere near Mermaid Beach, give Little Truffle a try.

Monday, July 11, 2011

[Kingscliff] FINS at Salt, encore

Sometimes things are better left as good memories rather than reliving it.

We found ourselves at FINS again last wednesday night, driving from Broadbeach as we are staying at Meriton for the school holidays.

The restaurant was quiet when we arrived and only three tables were occupied the entire night. I would have thought it would be busier as it was school holidays. They actually started packing up the bar at eight when we were halfway through our meal.

New menu was introduced but some favourites stayed on so we ordered two different mains from last time. Desserts options remain as last time, still unexciting.

Princess ordered the same fish and chips (no photo) as last time. When it arrived, I can tell the fish had been overcooked from the (deep) colour of the batter, sure enough they were. The chips fared worse. The tempura coating was sparsely clinging on and the inside is chewy, reminding me of frozen McCains chips.

Not a good start.

Big King ordered Fins Fish $41.90.

Fins Fish@FINS
Fish of the day (jewfish) glazed in dashi and green tea with black sesame tossed pumpkin, cauliflower puree and finger lime pearls

The fish was moist and succulent but a tad overcooked and flavour wise it was weak. I can't taste any dashi or green tea, it could have been plain pan fried fish I was tasting.

And I wonder what sesame tossed pumpkin actually meant. Steamed pumpkin and then tossed. Pan fried and then tossed? Toasted black sesame? I couldn't see any black sesame anywhere on the plate. But we did see broadbean which is a better substitute I think. I had a taste of one of the pumpkin. God, it has so much fibre my face grimaced. At $41.90 a dish, I think it was unforgiveable. I didn't touch the dish after the pumpkin.

I ordered basque barbeque, $49.

Basque bbq@FINS
Chargrilled fish, octopus, prawn, scallop, cuttlefish and mussels with red wine braised cabbage, asparagus and handcut heirloom potato chips.

It was quite a sight when my dish came. I am pleased with the looks of it. Upon tasting, all the elements on the plate was lukewarm which quickly turned cold as the restaurant was freezing. I was less than happy but everything on the plate was cooked nicely except the fish which was chewy and overcooked. The best part of the dish is the vegetables, the sweet and sour cabbage complements those grilled seafood beautifully. The chips were sweet (yes, sweet, think oven roasted dutch cream potatoes, yum) and I like the smokiness of it as you can tell from the picture the way they were cooked. The star of the seafood is still the prawns. Juicy, sweet and succulent, a joy to eat, eventhough they are cold.

The same desserts were orded as last time. This time I was less than happy with the ice-cream that came with the chocolate torte as it had big chunks of dark cocoa. Ewww, I don't take to bitter ANYTHING. The torte is still bitter, arghh, only guys who don't eat sweets will like it. What's sweets without being sweet? Waste of time.

The panna cotta is still as good as before, I even rate it higher than the very sexy and wobbly lavender panna cotta from Rocksalt Modern Dining (Broadbeach). It has the same giving texture as Fins version but mouth feel wise Fins' was better, silkier.

I don't know where to place the restaurant after the second visit. It has dropped from my MUST visit to borderly-go if you have nothing better to do.

Perhaps the chef is having a bad day? Or Mr Snow was not in and the kitchen has gone slack? I mean overcooking fish is not acceptable in a restaurant specialising in just that. Has the Chef Hat Award judges ever visited the restaurant when Mr Snow is not in, overseeing his kitchen?
Very disappointing after driven a long way to get there and been served mediocre food.

Don't even make me start on the burnt bread and runny capsicum jam. Orz..........

Friday, June 24, 2011

[Kingscliff] Fins at Salt

FINS Restaurant & Bar
5/6 Bells Blvd
Salt Village
Sth Kingscliff
NSW 2487
Tel: +61 2 6674 4833

I can't wait to write about FINS. But I need to clear the backlog posts in chronological order or I am not going to be bothered about writing them ever again.

Now Fins? Steven Snow? Never heard? Snow's restaurant is in fact one hatted and he is a regular on the local lifestyle TV and regularly featured in local lifestyle magazine. You can read all about him and the restaurant's awards on the website.

Bad seafood experiences of the last two meals meant I craved for anything other than seafood. On the day we visited, there was no poultry or red meat on the menu, it was ALL seafood. We decided against dining at Fins after perusing the menu which changes all the time depending on produce.

Proceeded to other adjoining restaurants but the menu did not excite me, in fact, somewhat pedestrian. After some thought, we decided to go back to Fins.

We were seated promptly and caught glimpse of Steve Snow before he disappeared into the kitchen.

Princess saw him and asked, 'is that Matt Moran?' Haha, not every bald chef is Matt Moran darling. She knows all the Masterchef/junior masterchef/MKR contestants/judges/celebrity chefs' names. The 6 year old has a very fine palate who regularly gorges on macaron and drink regular coffee (not babycino, too weak she said, no taste kakakaka) and wanting to taste everything on sample offer at the market.

The dining room is housed under an awning extended to the restaurant and decked out like a garden with trellis of flowers on pillars and pots of plant/bush (real) dotted around the dining area. Come nightfall the dining room is very dark, some might find it romantic but its not to my taste. I prefer modern/contemporary clean decor.

Portuguese bacalhau balls and aioli
Amuse bouche - Portuguese bacalhau ball and aioli
Princess got this and it was gone so quick before I had a chance to ask for a taste. Not even the aoili was spared. She dropped some small chunks onto the plate while busy shoving it into her mouth and I quickly popped in my mouth. Smoky and sovoury with a light and crunchy coating. It was very good.

Sashimi on daikon pickle
Sashimi of fresh, local fish of the day on daikon pickle

The sashimi was beautiful, however, the sweet taste was somewhat masked by the heavy pickle underneath. In my opinion, a few shreds of the pickle would have been plenty.

Bread with capsicum jam
Entree - heart breads char grilled bio-dynamic sourdough, handmade and wood-fired in Byron Bay with house made capsicum, tamarind and mild chilli jam.

Hands down the BEST bread I have eaten so far, even the sourdough made from milled ancient Normandy heirloom wheat comes a close second.

The jam packed a punch without being too hot. I tried replicate the jam at home using capsicum, tomatoes, chillies and process it like a harissa paste. The taste was quite close.

Kids fish&chips
Kid's fish and chips

I don't really want to repeat myself and sound cheesy but the chips are hands down the BEST I have ever tasted (and now I hanker after Heston's version after watching it on Masterchef, could it get better than this?). They were crunchy like a dream and inside is like creamy and fluffy mashed potatoes. The chips somehow tasted like the sea. I suspect they sprinkled something like a chicken salt but the seafood version which complements the exquisitely fried fish to a tee.

Again, BEST fish and chips ever. We haven't been back to Fishmonger's Wife since. I only want to come back here for fish and chips from the kid's menu.

Snowy's fish
With Riesling, lemon and parsley, green beans, cauliflower puree and local Dutch Cream potatoes

When this arrived, I am disappointed and secretly relieved this was not my order, the dish looked like something I can easily whipped up at home in like ten minutes. But oh ho, looks can be so deceiving. Nothing is ever blah, mediocre, pedestrian at FINS.

The fish was so fresh, cooked to perfection and flaked away with just a tease from the fork. The beans and potatoes and cauliflower puree tasted so sweet and earthy, they could have been just plucked or dug from the garden.

Every mouthful is like an orchestra playing, each element finding its own place harmoniously.

Chilli as anything
Mauritian style king prawn and fish sambal, lotus wrapped rice and green papaya salad

Here comes again.

Hands down the BEST prawn I have ever tasted. Mind you it may not be the sweetest or the biggest but the way they were cooked and flavoured is like an art, I think Mr Snow had done the prawns much more than justice. They died a beautiful death in the hands of a maeastro. The spanish mackerel was very good too, normally I shun mackerel, I practically ate the fish since forever, but this Spanish species were in a league of their own.

The chilli tasted like our assam curry but several notches above. I wanna to barge into the kitchen and bow to the man but I restrained. Kekekeke.

I got to say this dish is not without negative, for me at least. The papaya salad was tasty but I absolutely hate coriander. There was so much coriander in there, I gave up after two taste. What's worse is the coriander lingers in the mouth till the following morning!! Disaster! So Mr Snow should think about toning down the coriander, it just overpowers EVERTHING.

And the rice :-(, I am Asian and somewhat an expert when it comes to cooking rice. My two cents, the restaurant should consider using another type of rice and steam it less in the lotus leaf. The leaf imparted a bitter flavour to the rice probably from spending too much time in the steamer. Having said that, the rice was cooked nicely and they were fluffy.

With brûléed fresh figs, house made ice cream and organic raw cocoa
I don't want to comment on this, I only appreciate eating chocolate in tablets or bars or handmade chocolates forms. But Big King said they are nice. The fig is somewhat bland, I don't know its purpose on the plate. The ice-cream is creamy.

Another view

With ginger and finger lime syrup

And finally, please bear with me.

Hand down the BEST panna cotta I have eaten so far. The texture is like a dream, you gotta go try to believe it. The finger lime offered an interesting taste and texture and the syrup tied the panna cotta and crumble together. I didn't get to eat the crescent pastry. Princess' hand was too quick. It was gone as soon as the plate touched the table.
I can't wait to go back!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

[Holiday] Mongers Gourmet Fish and Chips, Byron Bay

Mongers Fish and Chips
Bay Lane
(behind Beach Hotel)
Byron Bay

Now this place is known by many names; Gourmet fish & chips, Mongers, Fishmongers fish & chips; probably all host of many others I don't know about by the locals. Anyhows, I don't really care.

Bay Lane
Bay Lane; a laneway of dining establishments.

Mongers fish&chips@Byron Bay
We walked in at 11.50am, the place is opened but lights off (pretty dark in there). A lady was at the counter staring at the cash register. Didn't once look up when we approached. Two minutes later, she (was finally awake?) told us, 'we opened in 10 minutes.' I asked if we can just sit and wait, she looked at me blankly and said, 'come back ten minures,' then diverted back her gaze/attention to the register.

I almost did not go back after the cold encounter but reviews about the place had been glowing and locals rate it as their favourite fish and chips in the WHOLE of Australia (probably those never venture out of their locals, I later cynically figured, I know I am evil, grrrr).

We were back in the shop 10 past 12pm and it was still dark, never once did the lights were flicked on. Well, fine, we can always sit out so we can actually see what we were eating. I thought too much, it really wouldn't have mattered anywhere I sat, dark room, under broad sunlight, reasons revealed later..........

Mongers menu
There were also blackboard specials near the register.

Half dozen Sydney Rocks $12 (swimming in broken shells)

Fish 1
Fish 2
Fish 3
Now, you might wonder how I put up three (identical?) photos of the fish dish. Truth is I can't tell which is which.

Story was we ordered 2 different kinds of fish, one pan fried, one grilled, one spicy, one with herb/nut rub and different sauces.

When they arrived, both fish looked exactly the same, you can only tell the difference by the colour of the sauce in the plastic container. Oh, I am eating the one with tartar, and oh I am now eating the one with herb mayo....

The kumara chips were drenched in oil and tough with a little crisp, you know how your thin chips taste like if its been out exposed to the air for a few days.....

The fish, oh, where do I begin......Princess asked after taking one bite, 'is this chicken?' Orz, I was a bit cross after tasting but Big King actually laughed and said,'its not but we can pretend its chicken'. Kakakaka, Chinese had this saying, 'find a bit of happiness in dire situation'. We couldn't finish the 'chicken' although we were starving after markets and walking around town, then chased away and sat in the playground before coming to this 'Gourmet' fish & chips.

My advice is, sometimes extensive research won't do you any good. Taste is a very subjective thing. Just go where the lines/locals are. In this case (Byron Bay), I noticed a lot of suits and ladies who lunch sitting comfortably inside Utopia just at the start of Bay Lane. The waitress looked attentive, bubbly and smiley and pretty if I might add.

The patrons looked like they were enjoying the food and the ambience. A big contrast to the experience we just had, 2 tables (presumably tourists who were lured by guides and reviews) occupied in the darkest dining room. It wouldn't have mattered if the place was dark or bright, the food tasted all the same with colder than cold staff.