Monday, July 30, 2012

New Shanghai Chinese Restaurant, Chatswood Chase

Growing up in Shanghai has rewarded me with many lovely food memories so Shanghainese cuisine will always hold a special place in my heart despite my general impartialness to Chinese food. I was invited to sample the wine and dumpling degustation dinner at New Shanghai so who better to bring along than my family? It was interesting for us to see this modern presentation of the familiar dishes I remember from my childhood.

Mixed Cold Dish Starter, New Shanghai
Mixed Cold Dish Starter

The mixed cold dish starter was a light composition of tangy shredded kelp mixed with spice and vinegar dressing, drunken chicken - chicken soaked in Chinese wine with herbs and spices, and chopped pickled cucumber tossed with garlic. The matched wines begin with a Leo Burning Clare Valley Riesling 2011.

Mix Steamed Dumplings, New Shanghai
Mix Steamed Dumplings

The mixed steamed dumplings are bundles of joy. The New Shanghai xiao long bao is a tender parcel of soft pork and soup, the steamed crab meat and pork is topped with a savoury bit of bright orange fish roe and there's also a mixed vegetable stamed dumpling. These are paired with an Angel Cove Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010.

Shepherd's Purse and Pork Wontons, New Shanghai
Shepherd's Purse and Pork Wontons

The shepherd's purse and pork wontons were fantastic, tossed in a savoury nutty mix of sesame butter, red chilli oil and spices. Big fat bundles of filling wrapped in chewy skin and dressed with moreish sauce, yum. This is accompanied by a glass of Cape Schanck Mornington Penninsula Pinot Grigio 2010.

Pan-fried Dumplings, New Shanghai
Pan-fried Dumplings

When I was little I hated going to Chinese restaurants with my parents because there were never any main dishes that I liked, so I'd always end up ordering dumplings. The pan-fried dumplings also has a star-shaped fried shallot pancake and a pork potsticker. The golden snacks are matched with a Fifth Leg Crisp Chardonnay 2010.

Shepherd's Purse, Pork and Tofu Soup, New Shanghai
Shepherd's Purse, Pork and Tofu Soup

Just like my nai-nai used to make. Shepherd's purse, pork and tofu soup with little pieces of prawn, a refreshing broth on its own, but I like drizzling a little vinegar in it for added flavour. The paired wine is a Squealing Pig Otago Pinor Noir 2010.

Braised Pork Belly and Deep-fried Chicken, New Shanghai
Braised Pork Belly and Deep-fried Chicken

The braised pork belly was stunning. Both my parents agreed that it was the richest, most tender braised pork they've tasted. Slow-cooked in soy sauce overnight, the pieces of pork appear almost glazed in a dark coating of soy. The succulent, moist flesh is topped with a thick, soft layer of skin and goes smashingly well with the glass of Penfolds Koonunga Hills 76 Shiraz Cabernet (2010). Served with rich, is also the deep-fried chicken - crisp strips of meat and skin that disappear quickly.

Slow-cooked White Fungus, New Shanghai
Slow-cooked White Fungus with Papaya

My mother used to force-feed me white fungus because she believed that it would cure my asthma. Unfortunately, my asthma remained and instead I developed a deep hatred of the sickly sweet medicinal flavour of the stuff and its creepy slippery texture. The set dessert of the degustation is slow-cooked white fungus with papaya.

Strawberry Milk Pudding, New Shanghai
Strawberry Milk Pudding

Fortunately for me, there was an alternative. Strawberry milk pudding was a lovely sweet and creamy end to the meal.

New Shanghai
Chatswood Chase, 345 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood
(02) 9415 3536

New Shanghai Chinese Restaurant  on Urbanspoon

Figs & Brie dined as a guest of Wasamedia

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lately on Instagram III

This week I'm doing my tax return and consequently weeping over the many thousands of dollars I've spent in the last year on eating out. To make myself feel better I like to imagine that I've been walking around to various establishments with handfuls of stacks and makin' it rain. I'm living a lifestyle I cannot afford to maintain on my uni student budget but my power of denial is pretty strong. So I'm pretty much trying to justify my excessive spending by posting photos of the food on this blog - as the old philosophical saying goes, "if you eat a meal without putting it on Instagram, did you really eat it?"

  • Antipasti platter, caprese salad and arancini for Ladies Who Lunch at The Village, Potts Point. There was also pumpkin salad, salt & pepper squid and margarita pizza, Pimms lemonade and dessert.
  • Apple and raspberry crumble with vanilla bean anglaise, chocolate fondant with raspberry coulis and vanilla bean ice cream at The Village; potato and feta cake withs smoked salmon at Kazbah, Balmain
  • Turkish coffee at Kazbah; learning to make seafood paella in a cooking class at Extra Virgin Fine Foods, Crows Nest; parsnip and feta salad at Bodega, Surry Hills

Follow me on instagram! My username is lolalost.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cara&Co Restaurant, CBD

Yellowfin Tuna, Cara&Co

Cara&Co is where beautiful garments go hand in hand with beautiful food. The concept store was first introduced in Moscow, where the style mantra behind the boutique was 'no logos fashion only' - forgoing big-brand Euro labels for international designers who create one-off pieces that exude a discrete luxury. Everything in the store is for sale, including the furniture, decor and art installations. In the belly of the space you will find the restaurant, unique as the boutique with a menu formed on Flemish principles by Belgian chef Dave de Belder. Joseph first brought me into the store to ogle a shirt he had fallen in love with, and we lingered amongst the sale rack mourning over the price tags. Fortunately, owner Rosa Alpert invited me to dine at the restaurant a couple months later to sample their new winter menu.

Artichoke Soup, Cara&Co
Artichoke Soup

We were informed by our waiter that we'd be enjoying a five course degustation and was promptly brought bread and butter. There are no photos of this because I was too busy smearing the warm bread with the creamy French butter and black salt flakes. The first course was a soup of Jerusalem artichoke, fresh hazelnuts, Granny Smith apple, hazelnut foam and lime zest. Subtle flavours of the artichoke blended beautifully with a light nuttiness and were accented by the freshness of the apple and lime

Yellowfin Tuna, Cara&Co
Yellowfin Tuna $44

Second course was my favourite, a visually inspiring dish of seared Yellowfin tuna, white bean puree, pickled watermelon and heirloom tomatoes. Lovely cuts of tuna were lightly seared for a smokey exterior while retaining delicate pink centres. The sweet tartness of the watermelon and tomato complimented the fish perfectly.

Fish, Cara&Co
Rock Flathead $38

Albiet suspiciously radioactive and somewhat dangerous looking, the rock flathead with cauliflower, peanuts, gherkin and quinoa was pleasantly understated. A spear-like fillet of fish held a lightly charred skin, and separated into soft segments upon dissection. The luridly green gherkin juice tasted much better than it looks and sounds while the cauliflower puree and silver-coated peanuts were an brilliant combination. Toasted quinoa added moreishly crisp textures and the peanut foam felt like an ephemeral touch on the tongue.

Kangaroo, Cara&Co
Kangaroo Tenderloin $39

Moving onto our only meat dish of the night, we were presented with what I thought was a rather unusual choice of game. I haven't really had much experience with eating the national fauna but the kangaroo tenderloin with artichoke, black caviar lentils, parmesan and cabernet sauvignon jus begged me to reconsider my preconceptions. I was very happy to a see a small sube of tartare on the plate, never having tried kangaroo raw. The velvety texture of the lean meat was a certainly unexpected and went smashingly with the parmesan. The succulent sous vide pieces of striploin were grilled medium-rare and astonishingly tender. The red wine jus such a perfect perfect match for this red meat, I almost forgot about the accompaniments.

Chocolate Cake, Cara&Co
Dark Chocolate Cake $23

Dessert was a dark chocolate cake with textures of rasberries, coconut, ginger and lime. The rich yet airy flour-less cake yielded an almost mousse-like consistency, punctuated with ginger and topped with cool coconut sorbet and nitrogenised raspberry drupelets. An airy coconut marshmallow and sweet, juicy textures of raspberry decorate the rim of the plate - gel, jelly, puree, coulis and fresh fruits.

Petit Fours, Cara&Co
Petit Fours

We finished with a selection of petit fours - tonka bean madeleines, caramel almond fudge topped with lemon curd, and a I think what were hazelnut chocolate drops. A sweet ending to a divine meal, hidden away amongst yet away from the bustle of a shopping mall.

Cara&Co Restaurant
Level 4, Westfield Sydney, 188 Pitt St
(02) 9226 9988

Cara&Co Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Figs & Brie dined as a guest of Cara&Co.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Wilbur's Place, Potts Point

From the brains behind Bourke St Bakery, comes Wilbur's Place. Wilbur's is a tiny little eatery with communal tables that sit a mere twenty-three people, so be prepared to wait for a table on busy Friday and Saturday nights. Thankfully, you can leave your phone number and staff will call you when a table is ready so there will be no need to queue out in the cold. The food is more than worth the wait, homely Modern Australian fare paired with very reasonable prices.

Suckling Pig with Lentils, Cavola Nero & Rosti Pear, Wilbur's Place
Suckling Pig with Lentils, Cavola Nero & Roast Pear $22

The suckling pig with lentils, cavola nero and rosti pear is a killer combination of flavours in one dish. The roasted pork was succulent and soft, torn into generous chunk and topped with a golden piece of crackling. The skin so perfectly delicate that it was flaking off, the crisp piece of crackling was the highlight of the dish. Lentils and Italian cabbage combat the richness of the pork, sitting in a lightly flavoursome broth while the soft roasted pear lends soft caramel flavours that go perfectly with the meat.

Artichoke & Broad Bean Oriechette with Pecorino, Wilbur's Place
Artichoke & Broad Bean Orecchiette with Pecorino $19

The artichoke and broad bean orecchiette with pecorino is a hearty serving of pasta and vegetables tossed with olive oil and topped with fried breadcrumbs and fragrant cheese. A moreishly salty and oily pasta dish, I was completely enamoured by the crunch of the bread and the cheesiness of the pecorino. The beans and artichoke were a good combination, however some of the orecchiette was a little undercooked.

Roast Pork, Wilbur's Place
Roasted Suckling Pig with Borlotti Beans & Brussel Sprouts $22

The menu is modified regularly and this previous incarnation of roast pork is the roasted suckling pig with borlotti beans and brussel sprouts. The same melty meat sits atop a flavoursome tumble of beans and soft braised sprout leaves. The crackling is consistently good, breaking with a satisfying shatter upon biting.

Pan Roasted Mulloway, Wilbur's Place
Pan Roasted Mulloway, Black Cabbage, Saffron, Chickpeas & Garlic Sauce $22

Generally I'm not one to select the fish option from a menu but after having a long lunch at Otto that day, I thought I'd settle for the lightest main on offer. The pan roasted mulloway with black cabbage, saffron, chick peas and garlic sauce was a light dish full of fresh flavours. The fish was perfectly soft, with a crisp roasted skin and well with the garlic sauce, which I wished for more of.

Crispy Baby Potatoes with Salsa Verde, Wilbur's Place
Crispy Baby Potatoes with Salsa Verde $6.50

Every time I dine out with Joseph, he begs me to order a side of chips or fried potato, so of course we had to have the crispy baby potatoes with salsa verde. Generally I'm not a big fan of baked potato - they have a tendency to be plain and bland at the centre, but however these were fantastic. The soft baby spuds are encased in their ludicrously crunchy skins and seasoned well, decorated with lashings of herby salsa verde. No boring bits here.

Apple and Raspberry Pie, Wilbur's Place
Apple & Raspberry Pie with Ice Cream $12

The apple and raspberry pie with ice cream is enough to plant a sweet tooth in anyone's mouth. The crumbly golden pastry easily gave way to a deep pink filling of apple and raspberry that was insanely good. The smear of caramel and scoop of refreshing ice-cream were luscious accompaniments to the pie, the sweet creaminess rounding out its tart berry flavours.

Brioche Ice-cream Sandwich, Wilbur's Place
Toasted Brioche Ice Cream Sandwich with Caramel $12

The toasted brioche ice cream sandwich with caramel has endured every change of the menu at Wilbur's. So popular it seems, that it has become a permanent fixture on the offerings. Two slices of buttery toasted brioche bread encase a slab of ice cream and are coated in a caramel glaze. Naughty, but so nice.

Wilbur's Place
34 Llankelly Pl, Potts Point 2011
(02) 9332 2999

Wilbur's Place on Urbanspoon