Sunday, 20 April 2014

Canley Heights Food crawl- Part 1

Scroll scroll scroll, the feed on twitter was as like any other day... until I saw a tweet from Thang of Noodlies in all uppercase, CANLEY VALE FOOD BLOGGERS FOOD CRAWL. 

My pupils dilated on the spot. 

 a food crawl is an ingenious idea in my books. why you may ask? well pub crawls are so yesteryear and don't cater for non-drinkers like myself, and I can assure you that after reading this post, you will agree with me wholeheartedly that food crawl is the way to go. 

Are you ready for a food journey out west? if so, fasten your seat belts (and loosen the ones around your pants!)

As food bloggers , we wanted to make the most of our time and stomach space  (efficient bunch we are) so we begin precisely at 11am, bright and early on a sunday. Why you may ask? well it means we can have breakfast, brunch, lunch and also squeeze in afternoon tea. yes I'm being totally serious here. 

But before we begin our gluttonous eating journey out west, a strong dose of caffeine is needed to wake us ( and our stomachs) up.


vietnamese coffee demonstration at Vy Vy Garden Cafe

No ordinary coffee would suffice us Food Avengers. To experience Canley Heights like the locals, a round of vietnamese coffee was ordered from Vy Vy's Garden Cafe. What is vietnamese coffee you may ask? forget the frothed regular, skim or soy milk, Vietnamese coffee is the original drip coffee, sweetened with good ol' condensed milk. Result?  A strong yet creamy cup of caffeine goodness.


My attempts at making vietnamese coffee

 Making vietnamese coffee is simple... or as the waitstaff at Vy Vy made it look. Simply put some vietnamese ground coffee in a coffee filter, press down gently and wet it with a bit of boiling water. Set filter on to of glass with condensed milk and pour more boiling water into filter, allow the caffeine goodness to slowly drip. This stuff is amazing, you really don't need much for an amazing vietnamese coffee. As easy as it sounds, my first attempt was a fail (back cup), I didn't put enough ground coffee and poured too much water, too soon (oops!), so the water and coffee went through and clouded the glass. 


"let me take a selfie" coffee version.

 Those eye bags and dark circles meant coffee was very much needed (and welcomed)!


cos I'm cool like that.

 I'm not a regular caffine consumer, but every now and then, a jolt of caffeine is needed. It was a warm day that day so I poured mine over ice. gosh it was a sweet icy caffeine-y dream come true!I now know why people lust over this amazing drink! 

Vy Vy Garden on Urbanspoon

As we were on a tight schedule, we had to leave and hit up the next stop, but no fear, armed with our coffees in takeaway cups, we marched up to the next stop, Bau Truong. 

Bau Troung is the place for authentic vietnamese street food, Here you will find an electic mix of Saigon markets street food and guarded family recipes. 


breakfast time! I could get use to this!

This was the first meal of the day for most of us but boy did we not expect a table brimming with food!  If this is breakfast then what's for lunch?!?! (oink)


Professional food blogger at work. 


Condiments 




Ngheu Cuon 

First up is Ngheu Cuon, a traditional vietnamese fresh rice paper roll with pipi, water chestnuts and garlic. This is definitely a level up from your ordinary pork belly and prawn fresh rolls! These rolls were jam packed with flavour and texture, a great start to any vietnamese feast in my books!



House made fish sauce vinegarette

This is not your normal fish sauce, this fish sauce vingearette has tasty additions of finger lime and pickled carrots for a fresher and sweeter flavour. yum!


Bun Bo Hue 

Next up is the Bun Bo Hue, spicy pork and beef soup. This is a more typical late afternoon or late night snackThis dish was my personal favourite from Bau Truong, it emitted a rich aroma and felt like a warm bear hug, you can definitely feel the warmth and love that went into it. best comfort food, hands down. 

Cha La 

This of bowl aromatic noodle soup is served with mini cold pork parcels wrapped in banana leaves.
Dunk this cold parcel of springy goodness into the hot noodle soup and voila, dig in! 



Bo Lui

We break up from noodle soups for a bit next and try the Bo Lui, delicious skewers of curry spiced minced beef. These are traditionally served with raw banana and star fruit but as it is a bit difficult to get these fresh ingredients year round, Bau Troung has but a spin on it and serves  it with pickled onions and plums. Wrap these bad boys with some fresh herbs and crisp iceberg lettuces and sink your teeth in! 


Bun suong

Back to another homely vietnamese noodle soup, the Bun suong. This noodle of choice here is vermicelli, a favourite of mine as I find it less heavy than the thick rice noodles. The vermicelli sits in a gently sweet pork knuckle soup base and is generously topped with prawn cakes and pork slices. I loved how clear and flavoursome the broth was although it contained ingredients that are genrally associated with strong flavours. For those who like a more savoury taste, you can add fermented bean paste and crushed peanuts. If you want to try this, make sure you head into the Marrickville branch, as it is not yet available at the Canley Height and Cabramatta branches.


Michael, the owner of the Marrickville branch

Meet Michael, The son of Bau Troung owners. He grew up surrounded by good food, so it was no surprise when he quit his job in telco to head up the Marrickville branch. 


sawtooth corriander and shredded raw kangkong and banana flowers

The herbs and condiments in Vietnamese are plentiful and come in so many different shapes and forms. Instead of your usual pho suspects of bean sprouts and  basil leaves, here the noodle soups are served with amazing vietnamese produces such as sawtooth corriander, raw kangkong and banana flowers. 



Bean sprout and purple cabbage salad

and of course a salad to help us digest all the amazing stuff we just had! 


mangosteens. hands off and no one gets hurt!

Michael was really thoughtful and also bought out a massive bowl of mangosteens for the road (which was a mere 100 metre walk down to the next stop). Such a lovely guy! 

Keen to visit Bau Truong but Canley Heights is a bit out of the way? Fear not, as they have branches in both Marrickville and Cabramatta. 

BRB time to feast!

Bau Truong on Urbanspoon

Thanks once again to the  Thang of Noodlies and Fairfield council and also  to the 5 other food avengers! Keep your eyes peeled (and stomachs empty) for part 2 and 3, us Food Avengres aren't that easily defeated!

P.S. And fresh off the press today on Good Food is an article on amazing Fairfield eats. Check it out here.

Milkteaxx attended this Fairfield food crawl as a guest of Fairfield City Council, opinions are however her own. 

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Romantic degustation @ Jones The Grocer- Westfields Sydney.



B&W

Jones the Grocer. A well established name in Woollahra moved its flagship store to Sydney Westfields around a year or so ago. I had heard so much about it before I finally got to visit late last year, Coincidentally, Lime and Tonic invited me to try out of their romantic experiences, which lands me back at this lovely eatery once again. 

Front retail section 

where you can get quick bites and freshly baked goods during the day.



The entry/ artisan grocery section.

Jones the Grocer is not simply a grocer as the name suggests, It is a  artisan grocer, a  cafe during the day an a full blown eatery with a romantic vibe at night. I love the yellow hue the lighting gives, It makes it just so much more comforting, just like home.

On arrival, the lovely manager Macy greeted us and lead us to a table right beside the open kitchen, I love sitting next to t kitchens so I can watch all the action!


Beloka Still water 

Macy then brought us the 5 course degustation menu, she went through it in detail and asked us about any food allergies etc, very thoughtful and thorough of her. This was just the beginning of the impeccable service!


Biancavigna Prosecco Brut DOC NV

To set the romantic scene, we started with a glass of Biancavigna Prosecco. I only had a few sips as the lack of alcohol dehydrogenase in me sounded alarm bells. I didn't want to be gone before the delicious sounding food arrived! I have to confess, because of my low alcohol tolerance, I don't know much about wines and spirits but I quite liked this prosecco, it has a fruity taste and a crisp touch to it, quite similar to a lovely prosecco i had at an Italian Restaurant in Melbourne years ago.

We managed to fit in some good chit chat while waiting for the food to arrive, The lovely Macy kept checking up on us, topping up the prosecco for my friend, you seriously cannot fault service like this.


First course: Chicken and prosciutto salad- liver parfait, mixed grain and nuts

The first course we had was a lovely chicken and prosciutto salad, I am normally not a fan of liver but I loved the creaminess of  parfait. The addition of mixed grain and nuts also gave this dish a nice contrast in texture.



Second course: Pan roasted barramundi- potato and herb puree, crispy leeks, caramelised shallot with prawn butter sauce. 

If i had to choose a source of protein, fish would definitely top the list. Coming from a Chinese family, fish is generally steamed, so I grew up eating a lot of steamed barramundi and silver bream (Dad's favourite), But when i dine out now, I always opt for fan fried fish as I love a slight crisp to the flesh. The second dish we had at this degustation was a pan fried barramundi, it was beautifully presented, colourful and vibrant. The fish itself was great but I thought the stand out was the crispy leeks and prawn butter sauce. Those components were beyond delicious! 



Third course: Roasted pork belly - Duo of apple, wilted greens with a pork jus 

Despite the small portions, we were getting pretty full, but when there is pork belly on the menu, a separate stomach is activated, sort of like a dessert stomach, except for... well... pork belly (and crackling!) I think apple and pork belly are a match made in heaven, a slight tang goes so well with the creamy layers of fat of a slab roasted pork belly... mmmm....

Not featured in the picture is a lovely apple puree, That puree was quite different to the  purees you normally get with roast pork but it gave the dish a different dimension. I thoroughly enjoyed the apple fritter though, wish I had more of it! The only thing I could fault in this dish was the pork jus, we both found it a bit too acidic for our liking.


Fourth course: Autumn Forest- chocolate feuilletine, chocolate marscapone mousse, peanut brittle and cherry sorbet. 

By this stage, we were activating our 3rd stomach, the dessert stomach. This dessert was not what I expected in terms of presentation, although I'm not a professional chef or food stylist, I think this dessert plating could do with  a bit more work, It looked a bit messy to me.The flavours and textures made up for it though. I loved the richness of the chocolate feuilletine and the lightness of the mousse.


Fifth course, Cheese board- chef's selection of 3 cheeses (Manchego, roquefort & brie), chutney, bread

Cheese is something you love or hate, I am currently at a stage where my taste buds are maturing and I find myself enjoying cheese more and more, although I still find blue cheese a bit too strong for my liking. 
No fear though, as my favourite of all times is featured on this platter,  the brie. (Will you brie my friend?) I love brie to the moon and back, i could eat it with water crackers, warm sourdough (featured above) or on when encased in a crispy golden batter. Check out my variation of it using Camembert here. 
I suprisingly enjoyed the manchego  as i thought it would have a strong sheepy taste/smell to it but it the roquefort (a sheep's milk blue cheese) that was too strong for my liking. 

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience at Jones the Grocer this time round, It was a completely different experience (both wonderful!) from when I was last here as a casual gathering with a few good friends. This place is definitely a strong contender for group dining or as a romantic degustation. I would happily return to sample more of their extensive menu. 

Disclaimer: Milkteaxx was invited to sample the romantic degustation at Jones the Grocer by Lime and Tonic, however the opinions are her own. 

Jones the Grocer on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Bread In Common, Fremantle WA

No knock knock jokes today, but try this one.

what has this Perth cafe and carbs have in common?

 Bread in common. 

Lame jokes aside, carb lovers rejoice, there is a deliciously carb-y eatery called Bread In Common. Sadly it is all the way in Fremantle WA. 


As you can see, I have an epic back log of posts. . I visited this amazing place last November when I was in Perth for my first ever Eat Drink Blog Conference. (You can read more about it here!) 
I was lucky enough to share accommodation and explore the West Coast with 3 amazing bloggers. Contrary to what you guys think, you guys are simply amazing and did not scare me one bit, Just what a newbie blogger like myself needed, I learnt so much from these experienced bloggers! 



outdoor seating 

The learning continued throughout the 4 days I was here, My time on the west coast was well spent and i came back with bags ( literally) stuffed with blogging tips and tricks. So before i went to Perth i searched a list of places I wanted to eat at and go to, asking countless west coast based friends, this gem, Bread In Common came up a fair few times, so it must be good. right?

and boy were they RIGHT.


Communal seating 

Set up away from the main street of Fremantle, hidden amongst a mix of industrial sites and residential areas was this amazing kitchen and bakery which had the locals raving non-stop about it.
What about you may ask?

read on to find out.....


Bread in Common interior. 

This place has retained the original fit out of an industrial warehouse but the front glass windows also allow plenty of   natural light in ( love!) not only is natural light great for photos, it also makes me feel 100x better than a brightly lit room.


Fresh flowers at all the tables 

This fabulous place does brunch and dinner and they have an extensive wine list for you keen wine drinkers. They also have 2 long communal tables out the front, which is where we sat.


The menu 

The menu changes frequently depending on what seasonal goods they can lay their hands on (brownie point for that, I love ever changing menus!)


Coffees

So we were off to a bumpy start unfortunately, a rather sour looking waitstaff approached us for coffee orders and didn't seem to like the idea that we were occupying the table, waiting for brunch to start. (damn time difference meant we woke up heaps early!)


Watermelon Smoothie 

While we waited we studied the drinks menu, we all decided a smoothie was a great way to start the day and rid the jet lag. Their smoothies are healthy and green, o opted for a coconut chia by now the waitress seems to of had her morning coffee and was nicer than any waitstaff i've seen recently, she proceeded to explain the menu to us and what options we had, and boy did we have a lot of options! . This definitely made our day better!


Green smoothie and coconut chia smoothie 

Now, this is why you had to read on, i promise you won't regret. Bread in Common is famous for their bread (well it is a bakery after all.. duh!) and their dips. The bread is baked fresh in house each day and the baker's section is open for all to see. The bread was so fresh (or we were heaps early), we had to sit impatiently and wait for it to come out of the oven. Do you know how painful that is?!? fresh bread aroma, tantalising your nostrils??  oh so fluffy bread, come to Mummy!


Wholemeal sourdough, whipped pork (L)  and zucchini dip (R)

We opted for 2 dips to go with the amazing bread, a whipped pork and a zucchini spread. Unassuming name right? but boy these babies were the epitomy of deliciousness, I don't think dips can get any better than that! A special mention of the zucchini dip, This one has us all fighting for it and wiping that tiny dish clean!



Sudok

We were already in food heaven by the time our cured meats arrived. As we had 4 stomaches, we opted for 2 types of cured meats, a wagyu bresola and sudok . It was served with a lovely chutney and some fresh crisp greens.


Wagyu Bresola 



Anchovies and egg

The next nibbles to land on our table was the anchovies and egg. We mainly ordered this for the novelty factor as The littlest anchovy eating anchovies was too funny to pass up!
Gosh these were heavenly, that light airy whipped egg yolk dip went brilliantly with the gently toasted slices of herby anchovy baguettes. Scrump-dilly-umtious!


Mousetraps

We also ordered a side of mousetraps, mainly curious by the name. These cute little toasties arrived neatly in a glass jar. I am yet to get over my glass jar obsession, give me anything in a glass jar and i'll go gaga over it.

The Common loaf

As we were finishing up, Round 2 of the fresh bread arrived at our table, we weren't going to say no! we chomped these down with the remains of the pickles and dips. heavenly.



i love how simple and industrial everything looks, a fair few places are actually trying this fit out. but I'm a sucker for hanging light bulbs, so the fit out here has my heart!


The bathroom

The bathroom quite sleek and has a nature touch to it, not something I'd expect at a bakery/cafe!


The bakers' oven

This is the baker's section, right opposite the open kitchen. I love their Hansel and Gretel reference!


Trolley of freshly baked bread

Freshly baked bread, cooling off. if only I could wheel all this home....to Sydney.
I did contemplate getting a loaf of their amazing bread, but we had 3 more days of solid eating in Perth and at the Eat Drink Blog conference ahead of us.


The bakers hard at work.


Front counter/retail 

They also have a small retail section where you can buy take away for a lovely lunch on the go or if you fancy some deli style produce, canned sardines and olive oils are also available. I didn't purchase anything as we were headed on a road trip to different wineries etc so i thought i'd save it for then.


Herb garden 

Bread in common has some lovely outdoor seating as well, as they are not along a main road, it would be a nice place to sit when the weather isn't scorching. (It was high 30's when we were there) Next to the outdoor seating is a thriving herb and veg patch. If only mine thrived that well!

After a stunning breakfast we had a quick wander to explore Freo, as the locals call it, we stopped by many gourmet food places but we had to rein ourselves in as we were going to detour to the Swan valley that afternoon. I wish I had more time in Freo, it is an amazing artsy place with some great hidden treasures.


I will be back West Coast, until next time.

Milkteaxx