Tuesday, October 26, 2010

[Sydney June 2010] Le Grand Cafe

Le Grand Cafe
Grd Fl Alliance Française
257 Clarence St
Sydney NSW 2000

After an unfruitful rummaging through $1/$2 Japanese knick-knack shop on Clarence St, we decided to have lunch nearby. I wanted to go to Plan B initially but it is really just a takeaway joint beside Becasse and I didn't want to sit on the street, much too cold and it was drizzling.

So we went across the road and into Le Grand Cafe.

croque monsiuer
Croque-monsieur - $8.00

Although the cafe wasn't packed and only one other table waiting, the croque monsieur did not arrive some twenty minutes after ordering.

It's just a friggin toasted cheese and ham sandwich, how long can it be?? Sigh, by the time it arrived, my hot chocolate was half gone (I struggled not to finish it) and became cold chocolate. Worse still, the appetite was gone because the chocolate came in a big tall mug. I was full and sick from the chocolate. Grrrr....

Lucky I was sharing with Princess.

Though not hungry, we finished the sandwich quickly. The hot and toasted sandwich with melty cheese was very comfoting on a cold rainy day.

The much awaited desserts quickly arrived after the bread board was cleared.

chocolate pot
Petit pot au chocolat - $8.00

Normally I shun chocolatey desserts, chocolate cake, chocolate ice-cream, chocolate whatever, I reject them all. I like to eat just plain chocolate and sometimes with fancy fillings.

But other choices look less appealing so I went for the chocolate pot. Looks plain and boring but the nut praline topping looked and smell delicious.

Digging in, the chocolate was extremely smooth and not too sweet. I understand why when I digged my spoon further in, there is chocolate truffle hidden inside and at the bottom sit a pool of caramel sauce. Surprise much. I quietly squealed inside my head as I revealed the treasure underneath.

Out of this world.

strawberry tart
Tarte du jour, strawberry tart - $8.00

Even withough the glace, the strawberries were sweet. Custard a bit hard and too set for my liking. Tart bottom looked hard and heavy. Sure enough, I can't even cut through it with a knife. You will have to really force your knife through and then the pieces will fly away when you succeeded.

In the end I just eat it with my hands and fed Princess. The tart was too big a piece for princess to handle. Strangely, the pastry melted in my mouth and actually quite light on the palette. It was good.

The tart was less memorable, still, it was tasty with nice custard and delicious strawberries.

The chocolate pot is da BOMB!

It's a nice place to chill and away from the hustle and bustle of main street and busy shopping centres and food court nearby.

It you were lucky, you might catch Justin North coming in to check on his crew!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

[Shopping] Skinstore Autumn Sale

Get shopping and fantastic deals on the internet with the strong Australian currency now.

Skinstore from the USA is having a 20% promo on all its products. Its massive savings!

Get your much hyped Clarisonic here, it will be way cheaper than getting it from Myer.

I bought a pink Clarisonic Mia (USD149, before discount) with extra brush heads (2 for USD40 before discount) for only USD151.20. Shipping is only USD14.95 using USPS or if you are desperate to have it within a week use Fedex at USD34.95, ouch! personally I think it's not worth it.

There are also lots of other cult brands but sadly some can't be shipped outside the US like Skinmedica :-(.

Regarding the charger, it can be used in Australia with an adapter, you do not need a step down transformer. Yay, beauty!

Note: this is not a sponsored post nor do I work for Skinstore.

I trawled the net each day for bargains, kakakaka.

[Brisbane] Banneton Bakery, Woolloongabba

Banneton Bakery
25 Balaclava St

Banneton Bakery@Woollongabba
There is also another shop at Ashgrove.

If you have been to Pennisi Cuisine, the Woolloongabba bakery is just two doors away.

If you haven't been to Pennisi, get there NOW!! It's a foodie treasure cove! There are products from all over the world including a chiller cabinet of wonderful cheese, smallgoods and pickled olives, Sugo Mi pizza base, pastizzis, Dutch caramel stroopwaffle (YUM!), nuts and pulses and a whole hoardes of other continental goodies.

Banneton trading hours

Wall of fantastic wood-fired sourdough bread behind the cashier/counter.

My faourite is definitely the New York deli rye. Also available are turkish bread, foccacia, kaiser rolls, baguettes and various sourdough loaves.

They do simple breakfasts on weekends, the menu will be posted at the counter.

Banneton cabinet


Weird as the name may sound, this is actually a delicious combination of brioche bread topped with raspberry conserve and frangipane. Brioche is light and cake-like. Princess' favourite.

Blueberries friand@Banneton
Blueberry friand

As easy as friand's recipe may look, it is actually quite a skill to get it right. Banneton's version is absolutely spot on. It may look and feel dense and undercooked when you cut into it but once you popped in your mouth, it straightaway crumble and melt away, extremely light on the palate. Now that's a well-made friand.

However..........there are bad friand days at the bakery........oh yes, do not buy if the top hasn't risen to a golden hue. I once bought a sticky undermixed friand with floppy sunken top, big mistake..........my bad, I should have known better.......

Apple nougatine@Banneton
Apple nougatine

This is ordinary, I found the apple too cooked, mushed to nothingness almost like puree. Perhaps its the way it should be. just not my cup of tea. But the topping of nougatine is delicious. The pastry a bit wet and gluey, I prefer a light and crumbly tart case.

Nuts & grains sourdough@Banneton
Nuts and grains sourdough loaf

The star of the bakery is definitely its range of bread. Like I mentioned before, I heart their New York deli rye. The smell was incredible and when I cut into it I realised it's the onions, delicious!

Monday, October 11, 2010

[Sydney June 2010] Bacco Pasticceria

Bacco Pasticceria
Chifley Plaza
2 Chifley Square

After lunch at Chat Thai, we walked around Haymarket.

The rain kept going and when it get really heavy, we hopped on the free green city loop bus and hopped off near Chifley Square. The rain was so heavy, we couldn't see past the window so we decided to get some sweets and head back to the hotel.

It was lunch time and the place was super busy.

Oh, everything looks good behind the glass. After consulting with Princess almighty we got the pear and caramel and chocolate mousse on a bed of chocolate crispy balls and a pistachio macaron.

Pear n caramel cake & pistachio macaron

The cake was very good but the chocolate balls were chewy. Pear and caramel were a great pairing! The mousse was smooth and flavorful. The poached pear was delicious, flavorful and hold its shape, not mushy! Macaron was disapointing though, the shell was dry and chewy and I can taste strong almond essence, ewwww. It's just almond essence is my 'enemy', I don't like it and it doesn't like me. I felt pukey and light-headed when I taste it, eww, eww, ewww.

Bacco receipt

I thought the gateau was fantastic and made a mental note to return and try the other offerings but the thought was completely forgotten when I met Justin North's exquisite creations and Adriano Zumbo's legendary creations. Watch this space.

[Brisbane] The Little Cube

The Little Cube
Shop 90
Sunnybank Plaza
Tel: 07 3210 5775

Spicy mung bean strips@Lil Cube
Spicy Mung Bean strip

Sweet and sour pork@Lil Cube
Sweet and sour pork

There should be another dish but it came some 40 minutes later after the econd dish was placed on the table. We had to ask twice and the wait staff did not come back with any explanation. What made it worse was it was very difficult to flag them down. When we decided not to wait anymore and leave, the dish suddenly appear.

Return factor: -1.0

While waiting (im)patiently for the last dish, I overheard the next table speaking to the Captain (Chinese way of describing head waitstaff) looking woman, I can't help it, the tables are too close to each other and I was bored out of my teeth.

Woman and man (speaking simultaneously),"The meat you used, are they fresh?"

Captain, very quickly continue,"Of course they are fresh, we only use the freshest ingredient."

Woman and man,"But the meat has this strong smell," without any chance of making themselves clear the Captain quickly intercepted,"oh, I guarantee the meat is fresh, it's the way the animal is slaughtered here, they don't drain the blood first hence the strong bloody smell linger on the meat."

Man and woman,"Oh really........" Didn't look or sound convinced.

Now of all my experience of buying/eating pork in Brisbane, I have never encounter such said pork that reeked of old fridge and foul blood.

It's never my intention to review/publish post of underperform restaurant/cafe in my own opinion but it was the exchange between the staff and the customers that I want to highlight. I would have the same conversation with the Captain myself (same sentiments with the complaining couple after eating the sweet and sour pork) had it not been for the bad experience and my intention of returning is zero. So I didn't bother.

In the end the couple took away the complained dish, now I don't understand why they did this after making the complain. We left our unfinished sweet and sour pork. Our last dish fared worse, it was all (chicken)bone and dried chilli pieces with crystals of undissolved MSG.

Well, the place is very popular with queues on weekend. It's just not agreeing with our palate, to each his/her own.