Archive | January, 2011

Passion Flower Superstar

27 Jan

It’d been open for a while, and like every other human that walks past, I’ve often wondered why this place is ALWAYS packed and open until so late.  I’d resisted entering this late night haunt (apparently a favourite of many international students) until that fateful Monday night.  My sister had finally returned from her holiday to Hong Kong – her first trip without me –  and I was feeling Hong Kong-home sick and envious, and wanted to eat my emotions.

After our catch up dinner up the road, and hearing all her Hong Kong food stories, I had a yearning for dessert.  Asian dessert.  And so begins my love affair with Passion Flower.

Before my first dine-in experience, I thought it was just another ice cream shop with seating and VERY loud R&B/club music – despite my sister’s insistent proclamations that she had taken me to a Sydney Passion Flower, I was unconvinced as I am sure I would have remembered such an eventful experience.

As soon as I opened the menu; thick and weighty full of categorized desserts ranging from crepes and waffles to jelly with fruit and Ice Kachang (all served with at least one scoop of Ice Cream), my heart skipped a beat from excitement.  FINALLY.  An ice cream heaven full of ‘Honky’ style sweet adaptions (complete with romanticised names like ‘heartbreaker’, ‘lasting love’; and ‘ooh lala’)

a page (one of many) from the menu

It took me a while to decide on one item.  But I finally decided on the Superstar.  An offering of sticky rice ice cream, red bean ice cream with homemade glutinous balls covered in Black Sesame and sprinkled Peanuts all served in a martini glass…classy!!

'The Superstar'

Because at some point in a girl’s life, there comes a time where we have to make some tough life decisions; do I go out, joining the never ending queues for the bar, then the bathroom, then the cab line, spending a lot of money getting boozy and hating myself the next morning.  Or do I indulge in a late night treat of a different kind, and give in to the plethora of sweet party-in-my-mouth goodness.  Both come in a martini glass… I’m going to opt Passion Flower, all the time.  Every time!

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Rosa’s Kitchen

26 Jan

Its late Monday afternoon.  And after a day of meetings and running around, my friend (G) and I are am absolutely famished!!  Its hard to believe that in the middle of the city that is known for its exceptional culinary offerings, we struggled to find anywhere decent and still serving lunch.

Finally, after walking from one end of town to the other, we remember the existence of a Flinders Lane institution: Rosa’s Kitchen.  Over the years I’d heard so much about this rustic canteen style establishment.  Upon settling in with my Campari & soda (well earned after that epic hunt to cure our excruciating hunger) amidst the quiet green wood paneled interior I already feel the hunger pang subside a notch.

It’s well past lunch hour, (3pm) so the place is quiet.  The chalk board  menu has a selection of daily offerings that match the rustic interior; simple, home style Sicilian food.

Large Antipasti

We decide to share an antipasti ($27 for the Large… did i mention we were FAMISHED) and the Baked Zucchini with Tomato and Roquette salad ($24).  Simple.  Quick.  YUM!  and with room for dessert… Sour cherry tart with stove top coffee ($8.50).

Baked Zucchini with tomato and roquette

Now, don’t get me wrong, the food was good.  But given the rave reviews this place has received in the past, I did find it a little underwhelming.  Especially given the prices.  Yes.  The food is meant to be simple.  And rustic… blah blah blah.  But to charge $24   for that baked zucchini with some tomato and roquette… seems a bit cheeky.  And there was nowhere near enough meat on that Antipasti to make it $27 worth.

The saving grace was thankfully the Sour Cherry Tart… shame though, that the stove top coffee managed to take 20 minutes to be served despite us being the only patrons left.

Sour Cherry tart

So all in all, it wasn’t a bad meal, and aesthetically, this place has plenty of charm.  But not charming enough to make me rush back considering the final bill was $75 and all I essentially got was some grilled vegetables and cake.

Rosa’s Kitchen

253 Flinders Lane, Melbourne (inside the city library)

Sydney Junket

25 Jan

Its often when you have no expectations that you end up having the best time. With few expectations (and uncharacteristically no solid plans) I headed to Sydney, for a weekend which I enjoyed much more than I expected to – the highlight being the food of course.

Here is the 2 day itinerary:

Day 1

Late lunch at Bondi Trattoria

34 Campbell Pde, Bondi Beach, http://www.bonditrattoria.com.au/

Nothing fancy, just good, basic Italian food – and what else do you need when you have Bondi Beach at your doorstep?

    Bondi Trattoria – Steak sandwich and fries

    Bondi Trattoria - Spaghetti & Meatballs

     

    Supper at Mamaks

    15 Goulburn St, Haymarket, www.mamak.com.au

      The first time I ever went to Mamaks was several years ago when you didn’t have to queue and it was all about authentic Malaysian food. Now the restaurant has expanded significantly and has clearly become a firm favourite with late night diners – and like many other small establishments that grow overnight, quality has come second to churning those patrons through.  Don’t get me wrong – it still serves great food, but I wasn’t sufficiently impressed to put it on my list for my next Sydney visit.  The piece de resistance is the roti canai – which you can watch coming off the human manufacturing line in the open kitchen. Probably one of the better roti canai that you can get down under – you can really taste the difference from the prefabricated and reheated goods that lesser Malay restaurants serve. But in my humble opinion not as light and fluffy as the original which they serve up for 2 ringitt in Penang.  Curry chicken, satays and rojak were also ordered. My favourite was the Rojak – freshly julienned cucumber, tofu, small prawns served with a sauce that was spicy and sour at the same time.  All in all an enjoyable experience.

      Curry Chicken

      Rojak – Malaysian salad of tofu, cucumber, egg and prawns with a spicy, sour sauce

      Roti Canai with 2 curry sauces

      Day 2

      Brunch at Café Ish

      82 Campbell St, Surry Hills, http://www.cafeish.com.au/

        Beautiful, creative food. There have been a raft of reviews of Cafe Ish – and in my books it certainly lived up to the hype. The coffee is great, the food is fantastic (the perfect blend of Japanese and modern Australian) and service is attentive and warm.  The soft shell crab omelette was delicious with a a lightly battered crab and chopped avocado encased in a light omelette – genius! There is also an extensive selection of sides – I recommend the potato moshi!

        Soft shell crab omelette

        The Croc in the Rock – toast stuffed with crocodile sausage and eggs with a side of potato mochi

        Afternoon Tea at Adriano Zumbo

        296 Darling St, Balmain, http://adrianozumbo.com/

          Having walked for 2km uphill from Balmain East Wharf to Adriano Zumbo in 30+degree heat, I was ready to be blown away by those macarons!  Whilst no macaron expert, I can say that having been to Pierre Herme in Paris, I have yet to be sufficiently impressed with Australian macarons (although LuxBite comes close), but always willing to be proven wrong!  The offering at Adriano Zumbo had a light, fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth biscuit with a creamy, albeit sweet centre.  My favourite was the Toasted Marshmallow, (which tasted exactly as the name would suggest).

          Sweet treats at Adriano Zumbo

          The famed macaroons by Adriano Zumbo. Top to Bottom: Toasted Marshmallow, Carrot Cake, Kaffir Lime

          Dinner at Bloodwood

          416 King St, Newtown, http://www.bloodwoodnewtown.com/

            Its good to see that Sydney can do casual, unpretentious dining with great food. I really liked Newtown as soon as I arrived in the locale – the street was abuzz – even though it was a Sunday night.  Bloodwood was no exception – we were seated at the front of the restaurant for drinks whilst waiting for a table in the restaurant to become ready – but I could have easily stayed put on the banquette, sipping my cocktail (Fresas Verano – vanilla infused rum, strawberries, lime and brown sugar).  The food itself is hearty, modern and comforting all at the same time.

            My favourite was the oozy baked mushrooms – which was so simple, yet extremely satisfying.  The polenta chips were fried to perfection – crisp on the outside and soft inside without being mushy.  Next was sticky chicken wings sprinkled with sesame seeds which reminded me of the soya chicken grandma used to make for us as children.  Last was beautifully cooked lamb with eggplant, okra and beans in an amazing yoghurt and chilli sauce which i am still thinking about.  The night was finished off with the Bloodwood Trifle – a seemingly simple concoction of cherries, port jelly, pound cake and mascarpone which combined to create a fantastic taste sensation!  All in all a very enjoyable night – topped off with warm and attentive service.  If only there were more places like Bloodwood in Sydney…

            Baked mushrooms in an oozy, buttery sauce perfect with the grilled bread

            Polenta Chips and Sticky Chicken Wings. The polenta was a perfect consistency and the chicken wings reminded me of my grandma’s soy chicken

            Lamb in a chilli and yoghurt sauce with eggplant, okra and green beans. The sauce was to die for!

            The Bloodwood Trifle – a perfect mix cherries, port jelly, pound cake and mascarpone. The pound cake brought back memories of Sara Lee pound cake of my childhood

            Lux Bites

            23 Jan

            I can’t remember when it started.  But before I knew it, I was swept up by the Macaron CRAZE that we are all so sick of hearing/reading/talking about.

            Enter Lux Bites.  Offering over 15 different flavours plus seasonal additions (Australia Day presented the Freckle, Rocky Road, Salty Caramel and Vegemite (…Terrifying… but intriguing).

            My first visit I tried Watermelon Yoghurt, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Sicilian Pistachio and (the piece de resistence…and Lux Bite specialty) Kaya Toast.  For an instant party in your mouth you want to be eating the Kaya Toast flavour.  Inspired by a traditional Malaysian snack, the talented Bernard and Yen manage to capture the (chunk) of butter goodness of a Kaya Toast while encasing it in the most fluffy, soft in the inside crisp on the outside shell.

            I’m a fiend for Peanut butter, so needless to say the Peanut Butter and Jelly flavour came in close as equal favourite!

            So apart from the amazing taste explosion in my mouth upon first bite, it was also the warm welcome from the  owners Bernard Chu and Yen Yee that made my Macaron expedition all the more sweet.  Taking from their commercial pastry chef experience (Bernard is an ex-Comme pastry chef and Yen was at Rockpool) they also offer lunch box specials, and apart from their macarons also make an array of beautiful mouth watering cakes and pastries.

            (from left) blueberry, lychee, mont blanc, watermelon yoghurt, chocolate & cherry, Kaya toast, Matcha.

            In an attempt to prolong the Macaron bliss I couldn’t resist buying a take home pack.  It didn’t take long until I was back for more…

            Lux Bites

            38 Toorak Road, South Yarra 3141

            (03) 9867 5888