Sunday roast quail

It’s Sunday and a good day for a roast…in the form of quail. This has been a long-time craving but since quails are not as readily available as chicken or pork I put off cooking with quail for a while. I finally got off my lazy bum and headed down to the butchers and bought a pack of frozen whole quails.

With the roast I’ve also incorporated brining into the process of preparing the bird. I learnt this technique from a friend of mine who just happens to be a good cook in all things relating to roasting, smoking, and bbq-ing. We don’t really have the exact measurements for the brine so it’s sort of a trial and error process I guess. Sometimes the meat comes out a bit salty and sometimes it’s just right. Just depends on how much salt you can handle. For the brine solution I made the quails did come out a bit too salty so if there’s one thing I’d change it would be stopping myself from adding those extra tablespoons of salt into the mixture.

Anyway, you might be wondering why go through all the trouble of brining? Well it keeps the meat juicy and moist! No one likes dry meat, right? And it really isn’t much of a trouble. Depending on the size of your meat the brining process can take up to 24 hours. But with the 6 quails I had half a day or less is all that is needed. I put the birds in the brine prior to leaving the house in the morning; then I came back home in the afternoon 5-6 hours later and the birds are ready to be roasted in time for a Sunday evening roast.

image

Ingredients

Brine solution
1 litre water
⅓ cup salt (non iodised)
⅓ cup sugar
2 pieces bay leaves, crushed
half a handful of black peppercorns

6 quails, cleaned
40 grams butter, softened
pinch of crushed dried thyme
salt and pepper
125 ml white wine
70 ml cooking cream

Mushroom filling
2 slices of bread
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
8 button mushrooms, roughly chopped
dash of white wine
salt and pepper to taste

white wine peppercorn cream sauce
pan juice from roasting the quails
125 ml chicken stock
125 ml white wine
120 mm cooking cream
half a handful of black peppercorns

Method

1. Prepare the brine solution by boiling the water together with the salt, sugar, bay leaves and peppercorns. Transfer the brine to a large bowl to cool down completely (stick the bowl in the fridge to cool it down faster).

2. Once completely cool, place the quails into the brine and ensure that the birds are completely soaked. Leave in brine for 4-5 hours. Meanwhile prepare the filling.

3. Process the bread into breadcrumbs and transfer into a small bowl. In a pan, cook the garlic, onion, and mushrooms for about 3 minutes. Add in a dash of white wine and cook until wine has slightly evaporated. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mushroom mixture into the bowl of breadcrumbs and mix them together. Allow to cool completely.

4. After 4-5 hours of brining, remove quails from brine and pat dry.

5. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Combine butter, thyme, salt, and pepper to taste. Rub the butter onto the skin and into the cavity of the quails as well as underneath the skin (just ensure you don’t tear the skin). Stuff the filling into the cavity.

6. Place the quails in roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes. Then carefully pull the pan out of the oven and add in wine and cream. Put the pan back in the oven and continue roasting for another 10 minutes. Quails should be fully cooked by now. To check – poke the thigh of the quail and if the juices that run out are clear then the bird is cooked.

7. Rest the quails for 5 minutes in the pan then transfer them onto a serving plate.

8. Heat a small saucepan and add in the juices from the pan, chicken stock, white wine, cream, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil and continue boiling until the sauce is reduced to half its original volume. Pour sauce over the quails and garnish with roasted potatoes (if you want).

9. Serve and enjoy.

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A belated happy new year…and some noodles to go with it

Happy 2014, dear readers. I know I am almost a month late greeting everyone a happy new year but please accept my apologies as I have just come back from a whirlwind trip to Europe. Finally a white Christmas! Adjusting to the heat back here in Perth has been, well, hellish to say the least.

But anyway…

As I have mentioned here before, prior to my departure for Europe, my friends and I have been eating an unhealthy amount of Korean food. One thing’s for sure – old habits die hard.

Deprived of Asian food for so long, the second I came back I whipped up a heapful of Japchae, a Korean sweet potato noodle dish. Korean dishes are not my forte. The best I can do is buy already prepared Japchaes or pre-marinated meat from trusted shops and cook them at home. But I found this awesome recipe over at SBS’s website so I thought I’d share it with you.

I’ve only made minor adjustments to the recipe since I like my japchae on the sweeter side and I had no meat in the fridge so it was pretty much a vegetarian dish.

image

Ingredients

200g Japchae sweet potato noodles

Sauce
80 ml soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons boiling water
2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 onion, sliced
1 carrot, grated or shredded
6 dried shitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons oil for sautéing
1 egg (optional)

Method

1. Cook sweet potato noodles according to packet instructions. Basically the same method as cooking pasta but sweet potato noodles are soaked in cold water prior to dumping them in a big pot of boiling water. Takes about 7 minutes to cook. Drain the noodles and soak them in cold water (or water from tap) until you are ready to mix them with the other ingredients.

2. Soak shitake mushrooms in hot water. Once softened, slice them into strips.

3. Heat oil in a medium frying pan. Add in onions and sautee for about 3 minutes. Onions should still be crunchy and not completely translucent. Transfer onions to a plate.

4. In the same pan, sautee carrots for about 3 minutes just to soften them a little bit. Transfer to a plate. Then sautee the mushroom for about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

5. This is optional: Beat egg and cook into a thin omelette. Slice the omelette into thin strips. Transfer to a plate.

6. Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a big mixing bowl (enough to fit the japchae noodles). Taste and adjust soy sauce/sugar depending on your preference. Add in drained noodles, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and egg (optional). Mix well. It will look quite runny so let all the ingredients sit (you can toss the mixture every few minutes) until the sauce is almost fully absorbed.

7. Serve and enjoy.

source: http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/japchae

Chogajip @ Fremantle

Real spring weather has finally arrived in Perth and I find myself comsuming less and less kimchi soup nowadays since the weather has been warming up these past few days. Flashback to about 6 months ago when fall began I have noticed that my friends and I have been eating a lot of Korean food. Maybe it’s the “heatiness” of the food or the flames from the bbq that keeps us warm but whatever it is, I kid you not, we are at some sort of Korean restaurant week in and week out.

One of my favourite places for a Korean fix is Chogajip in Fremantle…because they have the best kimchi soup in town! I first had their kimchi soup last summer – not the wisest choice of food when it was like 35 degrees Celsius outside - and I have been hooked ever since. The soup is very tasty and the kimchi used is not overly preserved but it is really really hot. Best eaten with rice and something sweet on the side (try the Korean grape juice).

Chogajip: kimchi soup

The usual entrees are served here as well, such as:

Korean seafood pancake - pancake need more crunch but, other than that, it was packed with octopus.

Chogajip: pancake

Japchae - another one of my favourites from this place because they get the balance of soy sauce and sugar and sesame oil right.

Chogajip: jap chae

The mains we usually order are the popular bibimbap and bulgogi…just different kinds of meat.

Bibimbap - sort of like fried rice in a hot stone pot. Can’t say that this is one of my favourites (of Korean food for that matter) but most people seem to like this a lot. It’s not bad but needs a heap of the sauce that comes with it.

Chogajip: bibimbap

Bulgogi - pork and beef. Again, very tasty without being overly sweet or salty.

What I really like about Chogajip is the consistently good food they have been serving up over the one year I have been dining there. Service can sometimes be painfully slow depending on the time you get there. Best to head down there early or make a booking because this place is usually packed.

Chogajip Korean Restaurant on Urbanspoon

P’tite Ardoise Bistro @ Highgate

Once upon a chilly winter’s night K and I had a long-overdue catch up dinner in what I can call one of my new favourite French bistros, P’tite Ardoise Bistro. Having made reservations weeks before (otherwise, hoping to get a table the night itself would have been impossible), we happily walked down Beaufort Street ready to tuck in to some French goodies. Got there early, promptly seated by the lovely host, and then the bread basket started coming around. Hot bread and tasty butter to kick off the night. The bread is not complimentary but you can have as many as you want for a fixed price per person though one must remember to save room for other dishes.

K and I shared an entree of escargot a ma facon. It wasn’t the usual butter and parsley snails that I am used to but this more creative version was also just as good, if not more interesting. Three little bowls of snails with tomatoes topped with croutons. The snails were cooked perfectly – just tender enough and not too rubbery but needed a bit more salt for my palette.

P'tite Ardoise: escargot

For mains we had half of each others dishes like we always do. I did arguably have more than just the half of both since K was already getting too full just halfway through dinner.

One item from the Les Classique menu – twice cooked duck leg with vegetable tian, orange sauce

Ptite Ardoise: duck confit

Wow. Duck meat melts in your mouth and the skin perfectly crisp…you can never go wrong with a French classic like this specially when it is cooked to perfection. The sauce was a very nice glaze too.

And another item from the Menu du jour list – roast quail stuffed with veal, mash, Manjimup black truffle, raspberry jus

Ptite Ardoise: quail stuffed with veal

The quail may look tiny but, man, this was a very very filling dish. There was more veal stuffing than meat on the quail and the flavour works perfectly with the mash. The raspberry jus added a tangy sweetness to the whole dish. I really loved how the jus had such a nice glaze finish to it. Only problem was I did not remember the dish came with the truffles because you can hardly taste it.

Finally the dessert, just to make us even fuller than we already were – Ile Flottante, sauce Anglaise and sugar almond

Ptite Ardoise: Ile FlottanteOur first time trying this kind of dessert and it may well have changed my personal dislike of egg white based desserts (like pavlova). This not-so-little island of egg white is pure heaven – silky smooth with cream and caramel!

***

P’tite Ardoise is definitely on the list of the must try restaurants. Can’t really fault anything about a place that provides great food and good service. Ambience is a bit cozy too.

 

P'tite Ardoise Bistro on Urbanspoon

Almond & pistachio layered chocolate mousse

Truly a masterpiece courtesy of Kirsten Tibballs as featured in Masterchef. Though quite time consuming, the techniques involved are actually simple. Took me more or less 3 hours to bake and assemble the whole dessert plus  3.5 to 4 excruciating hours of waiting for it to set. In the end, though, the result is truly worth it!

Almond, pistachio, chocolate mousse

The recipe below is slightly modified from the original as I found some measurements to be quite off while I was assembling the layers. All chocolates I used are Cadbury baking chocolates.

Ingredients

Pistachio dacquoise
145g egg whites (I used 4 large eggs’ whites)
64g caster sugar
2 drops green food colouring
128g ground pistachios, sifted
100g icing sugar, sifted
24g plain flour, sifted
3 tablespoons raspberry jam, for brushing

Crispy almond layer
220g good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
100g slivered almonds, roasted

Chocolate cremeux
690g thickened cream
156g egg yolks ( I used 5 large eggs’ yolks)
76g caster sugar
220g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
220g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

To decorate
Strawberries
Pistachio, roughly chopped
Almonds, slivered and roasted

Method

I used a loaf pan for this, plus a small square and circle layered mousse like the ones below.

mini choc mousse

Pistachio dacquoise

1. Preheat oven to 170C.

2. Whisk egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer to soft peaks, on medium speed.

3. Increase speed to high, then gradually add caster sugar while mixing continuously to allow sugar to dissolve. Add food colouring and whisk to combine until stiff peaks form.

4. Meanwhile, combine pistachios, icing sugar and flour in a bowl.

5. Gently fold meringue into bowl with pistachio mixture until just combined.

6. Using a straight spatula (or in my case, the back of a bread knife because I lost my spatula), evenly spread mixture into a 35 x 25cm sheet pan lined with baking paper. Bake in oven for 15-18 minutes, then remove, and set aside to cool completely.

7. Trim the dacquoise to the size of the base of the loaf pan.

*My dacquoise came out a bit thin and sticking to the baking paper. I scraped it off the paper using the spatula, and since there is an extra half of the dacquoise left I sliced an extra one of the same size and stacked them of top of each other to get a thicker later of the dacquoise.

Crispy almond layer

1. Grease and line the loaf pan with baking paper.

2. Melt chocolate in a microwave in 30 second increments. Add the slivered almonds and stir to combine.

3. Evenly press mixture into cake pan. Set aside until just before the almond layer sets, then place dacquoise layer on top.

4.  Spread a thin layer of jam over the top of the pistachio dacquoise.

Chocolate cremeux

1. Bring cream to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat.

2. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until well combined and pale in colour. Whisking constantly, slowly add half of the warm cream to bowl with egg yolk mixture until combined. I poured the cream into a measuring cup with spout to make the pouring easier.

3.  Pour egg yolk mixture back into pan with the remaining cream, and place over low heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir constantly until mixture reaches 80°C, and coats the back of the wooden spoon.

4. Meanwhile, place chocolate in a medium bowl. Strain cream mixture through a fine sieve over the chocolate, and stir until melted and combined.

5. Pour crémeux over the raspberry jam layer.

6. Refrigerate for 3.5 to 4 hours or until set. Once set, top with strawberries and nuts.

Almond, pistachio, chocolate mousse

To serve
Slice the mousse with a cake knife dipped in hot water for a clean slice.

Fruit Tartlets with Creme Patissiere

What happens when strawberries are in season and you’ve got extra whipping cream lying around? Make fruit tarts of course. I made a cheats version and they turned out very well. The best thing is that they are a no-fuss kind of dessert/snack.

I used Pampas ready to bake shortcrust pastry, rather than making my own pastry as I originally planned, and I was devouring these little treats in no time.

Fruit Tartlets with Creme Patissiere

Ingredients

1 pack Pampas tart cases (comes in 12 individual cases)
seasonal fruits
icing sugar for dusting

Creme Patissiere
250 ml whipping cream (or whole milk)
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour

Method

1. Bake the pastry cases according to packet instructions. Set aside and let it cool completely.

Pampas pastry cases

2. In a saucepan, heat cream or milk with 2 tablespoons sugar until it starts to boil. Turn off the heat and add in vanilla extract. Transfer the mixture into a container that has a spout or funnel for easy pouring.

3. While the cream mixture is heating up, whisk together egg yolks and 2 tablespoons sugar in a medium bowl until the mixture is lighter in colour and thicker in consistency. It should form ribbons and you whisk and you know it’s ready. Then add in cornflour and mix until well incorporated.

4. Start whisking the egg yolk mixture again then slowly pour in the cream mixture. Continue whisking until all the cream has been incorporate. Take care not to scramble the egg mixture.

5. Pour the egg and cream mixture back into the saucepan and let it boil slowly until the mixture becomes thick. Continue whisking the mixture while it boils. This should take about 2-4 minutes to thicken up.

6. Pour the mixture into a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it cool inside the fridge. Once the creme patissiere has cooled, you can start assembling the tartlets.

7. Spoon or pipe a generous dollop of creme patissere onto your tart cases. Top with your choice of fruits. Then dust with icing sugar.

8. Serve chilled.

Fruit Tartlets

Easy Banana Smoothie

Fresh start. Trying to have a healthier start to the day, I made this banana smoothie – easy and refreshing. And quite filling too.

Banana smoothie

Ingredients

100 ml milk
2 tablespoons plain yogurt (or yogurt with muesli mix)
1 tablespoon mango syrup (optional)
1 banana, large size
ice cubes, depends how thick you want the smoothie to be

 

Method

1. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend away until everything is well combined.

2. Pour into a glass and serve immediately.

Friends Restaurant Truffle Degustation @ East Perth

Friends Restaurant, I believe, offers a 5 course truffle degustation annually during the truffle season. Who knew that Manjimup truffles can be used in so many ways? A friend and I bought a voucher for the degustation and we think it was well worth the price.

1st course: Creamed 11 vegetable soup enhanced with fresh herbs and grated black truffle

Friends Restaurant: vegetable soup

I can’t quite make out what the 11 vegetables were because the grated truffle made the soup taste like mushroom soup, in a good way. It was packed full of flavour – from the unknown vegetables – and the truffles accentuated the taste.

2nd course: Citrus cured Tasmanian salmon with pickled black truffle and carrot, dijonnaise, and blue swimmer crab and mascarpone salad

Friends Restaurant: cured salmon

Fresh and tasty salad but not as refreshing as I thought it was going to be. the dijonnaise and the swimmer crab salad were both heavy on the dairy so a little bit more citrus would have toned it down.

3rd course: Braised beef cheeks in red wine sauce, truffle mash and veggies

Friends Restaurant: braised beef

This dish was not bad but nothing really special. The beef cheeks were very tender but it is missing something I can’t quite put my finger on. Salt maybe? But with truffle mash on the side, who can go wrong with that?

4th course: Truffled brie cheese with fig terrine and crackers

Friends Restaurant: brie and fig

The only dish that my friend and I found hard to finish. Don’t get me wrong; we both love brie but there was an overload of truffles mixed through the cheese that made it quite off-putting after a few bites. The solution are the fig terrine and the candied hazelnuts but there weren’t enough of them for the amount of pungent brie on the plate.

5th course: Chocolate and banana mousse cake, honeycomb crumbs and truffle ice cream

Friends Restaurant:choc banana mousse

I was having a bit of a sore throat then but one must not skip dessert! The mousse cake was delicious; sweet and moist. But the truffle ice cream, I must say, outstaged it, which is a good thing since this is a truffle degustation. The ice cream may be a simple vanilla but the bits of truffles mixed through adds more depth to something so plain.

***

A degustation worth trying if you are looking for something different. It’s also a good introduction to what you can do with truffles. Can’t fault the venue but service could have been better. The owners were polite and attentive occasionally stopping by our table to ask if everything is okay. The people serving the dishes, though, seemed rather indifferent – no greeting, no presenting of the dishes. A copy of the menu was on the table but, as a fine dining restaurant, I would have expected the service crew to “introduce” the dishes and explain what it is.

Friends Restaurant on Urbanspoon

No. 4 Blake Street (High Tea) @ North Perth

It’s a high tea experience I never expected. The waitress I spoke to graciously informed me that the restaurant is fairly new. When it comes to their high tea they wanted to showcase something different. They wanted to show people that high tea is not limited to sandwiches and scones. And so “different” is what we got, although I’m not sure if this “difference” can still be called a high tea.

The savouries

  • Asian beef salad & savoury granola - beef was tender but dressing could do with more taste
  • Cured ocean trout – fresh but way too cured (i.e. overly salty). Maybe some bread/crackers on the side would have helped mellow out the saltiness?

No 4 Blake Street high tea: trout and beef

  • Rabbit terrine with pear relish – this was a fun dish; tastes like ham with a sweet accent from the pear relish

No 4 Blake Street high tea: rabbit terrine

  • Lamb, oat kefta & goats curd – lamb meatballs with a strong goat’s curd taste. Both flavours worked well together.
  • BLT sandwich – an innovative way of serving up a classic though it should be renamed to BAT, as in bacon, avocado, and tomato sandwich. Only complaint I have is that the bread was too dry and hard. Very messy to eat and not an appropriate sight for a classy high tea
  • Braised pork & panzanella salad – my absolute favourite savoury treat of the day. Caramelised pork with oily croutons.

No 4 Blake Street high tea

The sweets

  • Passionfruit brûlée and honeycomb – brûlée was really good; not too sweet and enough passionfruit. Honeycomb was a good texture contrast to it
  • Lemon meringue pie – everyone loved this one because it had the right tang
  • Jaffa trifle – good mix of flavours though more texture could make it better
  • Coconut sago brulee – interesting to see a coconut sago brûlée on the menu as it is reminiscent of one of my favourite desserts in Hong Kong and I think this one tasted like the ones I had in Hong Kong. Only wished the serving was bigger!

No 4 Blake Street high tea

  • Strawberry meringue, popcorn parfait, cassis & burnt honey, cherry “pate de fruits” – what an interesting flower pot. The pot contained “soil”, something like a crumbled bitter brownie, that you pair with the sweet meringue, popcorn and pate de fruits. Only the strawberry meringue was enjoyable out of the whole pot.

No 4 Blake Street high tea

All that plus a pot of refillable Earl Grey tea for $42 per person. The waiter told us English Breakfast tea would cost extra – something I totally do not understand the reason to!  Other than that I must say the food is beautifully presented. We each had our own favourites but I wouldn’t consider this as a high tea per se. It was more of an entree and dessert tasting plate.

Tea for Tu @ Northbridge

A quirky little find in the heart of Northbridge but away from the hustle and bustle of William Street, Tea for Tu is a good place for relaxing and chilling out with John Mayer music in the background while you’re alone with your thoughts or taking a break from the busyness of Northbridge.

The cafe is an extension of Tu, one of the specialty stores on William Street. Don’t expect too much as the cafe is small; 5 sets of mixed match tables and chairs and a couch upstairs or a few tables on the sidewalk. Tea for Tu does not have facilities (yet) to serve hot food so one would go there for the coffee and sweets.

Tea for Tu: sweets, coffee, teaThe pastries and macarons are from Choux Cafe, which is one of my favourite pastry shops in Perth, so double plus points for that.

At Tea for Tu size does not matter…it’s all about the ambiance.

Tea For tú on Urbanspoon

The Loose Box @ Mundaring

WA’s most decorated chef Alain Fabregues has announced his retirement and the sale of his iconic Mundaring restaurant, The Loose Box, after 34 years.*

The Loose Box is one of those restaurants that I have always planned on trying but kept pushing back because of its location far away in Mundaring. Upon reading the headline that Alain Fabregues is retiring my friend and I wasted no time picking up the phone and made a booking. Most weekends have already been booked out and last service will be sometime at the end of July. So we settled to have the 8 course degustation on a weeknight instead.

The Loose Box is like a cozy cottage nestled amongst the trees and it also feels sort of country. The night kicked off with a bread roll and olive oil; the bread was so good I wanted to ask for another one but my friend reminded me to save my tummy for the 8 dishes that were about to come.

One thing I liked about the whole dining experience was that you can mix and match dishes from the non-vegetarian and vegetarian menu and the “options” for the day. My friend and I are not really veggie people so most of what we chose were from the non vegetarian menu plus some options.

Course 1: Coconut and prawn broth. Coconut broth served with freshly shelled prawn, kaffir lime leaf and Balmain and Rozelle spice.

Loose Box: coconut & prawn soup

The broth is frothy and light, definitely not too heavy on the coconut cream. It also has a sweet undertone. The prawn at the bottom was saturated with the broth and it was a good addition to the broth.

Course 2: Tian de Fruits de Mer. Smoked trout, prawn and salmon gravlax tian folded in a dill mayonnaise, served with a lemon and fennel salad and saffron aspic.

Loose Box: seafood tian

It’s like a fresh seafood salad with light mayo dressing. Good contrast between the soft texture of the seafood and the crunchiness of the fennel. I did find the dill quite overpowering though.

Course 3: Le Saumon & St Jacques Aux Aromates “Jean Delaveyne”. Fresh Atlantic salmon and local scallop poached in champagne served with a light butter sauce infused with fresh herbs.

Loose Box: salmon and scallop

Can’t complain about the scallop but salmon was a bit overcooked for my liking. The sauce is more soupy than actual sauce and although it is butter-based it wasn’t greasy.

Course 4: Escargot a la Bordelaise en Pate de Brick sur Ratatouille Provençal. Snail fritter served golden on a warm ratatouille stack with a tomato and chilli sauce.

Loose Box: escargot

A break from the usual escargot en persillade dish that I have. The fritter was served pipping hot with a generous amount of snail. Eaten alone there really isn’t much taste to the fritter but with the ratatouille and the tomato sauce it becomes more interesting; they give a new dimension to the taste of snail.

OR

Course 4: Pork hock option

Loose Box: pork hock

To me this dish is more Asian than French. The taste reminds me of the soup/broth we usually make at home. It looks like a sausage but inside is chopped up pork hock that is full of flavour. The sauce can easily be one of the tastiest “soup” I have had.

Course 5: Daube de Boeuf Aux Chataignes. Scotch fillet slow cooked in red wine with carrot, onion, herbs and mushrooms served with a lid of puff pastry and garnished with chestnuts and red wine shallots.

Loose Box: scotch fillet puff pastry

A simple way to describe this is that it is like a beef bourguignon pie. Beef is tender and sauce is strong on the wine and the pastry is very flaky. It was a good sized main for a degustation.

OR

Course 5: Lamb rack option

Loose Box: lamb rackI’m really beginning to enjoy lamb now and this herb crusted one here was cooked to perfection. So pink and so tender and packed with flavour.

Course 6: Fruit Sorbet. Seasonal fruit churned as a sorbet.

Loose Box: fruit sorbet

Our seasonal fruit was apricot. The sorbet is very smooth; leaning more towards ice cream texture than sorbet. One thing I really liked was that the apricot taste was not too strong since I am not the biggest fan of apricots.

Course 7: Le Cygne Majestueux en Voyage sur son Lac de Framboises. The majestic swan, made from homemade vanilla bean ice cream and fine tuille biscuit served on a “lake” of raspberry coulis.

Loose Box: majestic swan

This is the star of the night. I loved the ice cream. I loved the cream. I loved the coulis. It was smooth and crisp; sweet and tangy. First spoon of the very fragrant vanilla ice cream and I was already hooked.

OR

Course 7: Honeycomb bavarois option

This one is a show stopper too. It was very pleasant to the eye and the taste buds. Personally, I never thought I’d enjoy desserts made with honey this much. The honey in the bavarois was just enough – not too strong and not too little that you don’t get to taste it.

Course 8: Petits fours

Loose Box: petits fours

We had the option of either having these petits fours taken home or eaten at the restaurant. Since we were already quite full we took them home instead. Brought mine to work the next day and they were still fresh. The selection were:

Grand Marnier profiterole – very strong on the alcohol but very delicious and not too sweet;

Lemon macaron – shells were really smooth but brittle. The lemon curd filling was very tangy and counteracts the sweetness of the shells.

Lemon meringue – this is the first time I’m actually saying this but there was not enough sugar in the lemon filling. Some bites I had tasted like plain lemon juice curd; it was too lemony.

***

Overall a good 3 to 3.5 hour dining experience for me and my friend. The staff were lovely, though they could do with more professionalism, and helpful from the minute we called to make a booking (with lots of changes in between) to the minute we left.

What I also really liked was that all the dishes were light and fresh. They weren’t much of heavy sauces and heavy ingredients but rather simple ingredients taken to the next level. I did not feel sickeningly full (as I normally would after so many dishes) and had dessert not come I would have probably kept on going with the savouries.

If you ask me, $160 (without wine) is asking for too much; but if you are willing to fork out the money then it is not a bad idea to give this restaurant a try before it closes its doors.

The Loose Box on Urbanspoon

*quote source: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/wa/16213563/loose-box-owners-call-it-quits/

Sayers Sister @ Northbridge

There’s a cafe my family and I have been frequenting since the start of this year for our Sunday breakfast sessions. Food we eat for breakfast can either make or break our day…in my case anyway.

This new find is none other than my other favourite breakfast spot’s (Sayers @ Leederville) sister cafe; hence the name Sayers Sister. I personally find Sayers Sister to be better in terms of space and ambiance. Both cafes have a similar trend when it comes to their food.

What I love about this cafe – it’s very open, rustic, and charming. I particularly like the communal table in the middle of the cafe with jars of lollies.

Sayers Sister: communal table

In addition to just wanting to come sit in the cafe and enjoy a cuppa my family and I most definitely come here for the food too.

Some items in the menu change from time to time but our breakfast favourites include:

Corned beef hash, fried eggs, sour tomato dressing, parsley and red onion salad. Corned beef mixed through the potatoes made even more delicious by the tomato dressing.

Sayers Sister: corned beef hash

Baked omelette with spec. Lots of eggs, lots of spec. The omelette is always light and fluffy and quite light on the seasoning, which is good because the spec adds the saltiness.

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Potato rosti, bramley apple & thyme chutney, poached eggs, bacon & rocket leaf. Another potato dish that will leave you happy and full.

Sayers Sister: potato rosti

Saffron brioche french toast with gravilax. I haven’t had a 100% savoury kind of french toast before (the most I’ve had was french toast with a side of bacon) so this is a nice surprise. Brioche was buttery and the Gravilax added a nice depth to the lightness of the french toast.

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Spinach, ricotta, and pinenut crepe, poached egg, white wine sauce. Oh this one looks almost as healthy as can be. It can be quite a heavy and filling meal though from all the ricotta. The crepe itself has got a nice “bite” to it.

Sayers Sister:  spinach and ricotta crepe

And who says you can’t have cake for breakfast? You totally can specially when the cakes look this good! So one morning I treated myself to a cake for breakfast and chose the passionfruit cheesecake. A good piece of cheesecake cures everything. The cheesecake was not too heavy on the cheese so eating the whole piece did not give me that sickening feeling.

Definitely do yourself a favour and go check this place out, tucked away from the main hub in Northbridge (but stay away from their mocha).
Sayers Sister on Urbanspoon

Malaysian edition: Culinary delights in Kuala Lumpur

My long absence can be explained by a last minute decision to head to Kuala Lumpur for a friend’s wedding. There was the Perth wedding and a week after that a bunch of friends and I indulged ourselves in culinary heaven for the couple’s second round of celebrations in Malaysia.

I love weddings, to say the least, and even more so when it is held overseas because the celebration keeps on going long after the couple has gone on their honeymoon. And that is exactly what happened in KL.

As soon as we landed and checked into the hotel, food was the main thing on the agenda. Really, Bukit Bintang is the place to be! Great hotels everywhere and just walking distance to all the places we wanted to go to. I learned from the hairdresser I went to that the place we have been dining at for a selection of hawker food is the best in town. What a relief to hear that from a local. This place is called Lot 10 – more like the food court of a shopping mall called Lot 10. Anyhow, you can find all sorts of things you want to eat there! They are cheap and delicious.

A sample of treats we had at Lot 10, a cleaner venue for hawker food:

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But no trip to KL is complete without sampling the food found in Jalan Alor, a popular street for dinner or supper or just a place to hang out after a big night out. Though some shops serve the same kinds of food the trick is to find the shop that sells the best dish.

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And this guy made the night complete…or was it early morning? Turkish ice cream in 3 flavours – vanilla, chocolate, and durian.

Great food for about a third of the prices in Perth!

Melbourne edition: Brown Bagels

Whenever I think of bagels I think of New York. New York bagels are the best – dense and slightly crusty.

Imagine my delight when I saw Brown Bagels in one of those many alley ways in Melbourne. A cute little shop that screams adorable. Space is tight inside but bagels are grab and go kind of food.

Smoked salmon, capers, cream cheese, cucumber slices, rockets, red onions on cheese bagel. Fresh and tasty!

Brown Bagel: smoked salmon

Chicken, avocado, cream cheese, cucumber slices, rockets on cheese bagel. Light and tastes healthy.

Brown Bagel: chicken

Great little find reminiscent of my love for New York bagels!

Brown Bagels on Urbanspoon

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