April 20, 2012

Jack Snacks!... Oreo Sticks (Green Tea flavour)

I bought these Green Tea Oreo Sticks a while ago but I had been saving them. Oh man.... now that I have finally eaten them, I wish I'd done so earlier cause I would have gone to the shops and bought the whole rack! But currently there's only the vanilla flavour available.

There's 3 packs inside, each containing 3 sticks. When you open the wrapper you can smell the green tea... mmm! It's crispy and not too sweet with a very nice green tea flavour - I really, really like them and am on the lookout in the hopes that there'll be more imported soon. I suppose I could try the vanilla flavour in the meantime but it just won't be as satisfying as green tea!

These Green Tea Oreo Sticks are the bomb!

What: Oreo Sticks (Green Tea flavour)
Where: At various asian shops, although lately I've only seen the vanilla flavour.
How much: I bought mine for $3.50 at Miracle Supermarket at World Square

April 17, 2012

Pastéis de Belém - home of the Portuguese Tart

Last December we travelled to Lisbon, Portugal for a weekend with our friends Sam and Julien to catch up and explore the city.  One of the highlights of the weekend was a trip to the town of Belém, not far from the centre of Lisbon.  There are many sights in Belém worth visiting but the main attraction for food-lovers like us is the Pastéis de Belém bakery, home of the famous Portuguese egg tarts since the 1830's.  

We visited the bakery for brunch on Sunday and were amazed at how big the place is with four rooms that can seat a few hundred people.  Based on the number of tarts produced onsite that could see through the viewing room into the kitchen, it's not surprising that the place can be packed out including a constant queue at the shop counter in the front.  

Given how famous these tarts are, and the fact that we were hungry, we ordered a dozen tarts between the four of us with coffees.  Our waitress asked us asked how many we were going to eat and how many should be packed to take away - much to her surprise we said we were going to eat all of them.

Pastéis de Belém - so good over 10,000 are sold every day!

A dozen tarts didn't seem a challenge at first when they arrived looking and tasting so scrumptious with their fresh, flaky pastry and the sweet but not too heavy custard filling.  It didn't take long to wolf down the first tart and follow up with a second tart, this time with a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar.  However, whilst the tarts are simple and tasty, they are rather heavy (especially due to the oil/butter in the pastry) and we found ourselves very full after our third tart.  At this point we understood why our waitress did not expect us to eat all the tarts in one sitting!  

Having said that, it was a great experience and no visit to Lisbon or Belém is complete without trying these legendary tarts.  Belém is also a lovely place to check out with plenty of walks and sights around which is just as well so you can work off any tart greed!   

What:  Pastéis de Belém
Where:  Rua de Belém 84, 1300 Lisboa, Portugal
How much:  only €0.90 per tart

April 16, 2012

Glass Wine Bar's $20 Corporate Lunch

Yep! Glass Wine Bar has a $20 Corporate lunch available Mon-Fri 12-3pm for a limited time. The description on their website is as follows:

"Even if you are having a busy day, make time for lunch and enjoy glass Wine Bar’s NEW ‘Corporate Lunch Options’- which features our famous wagyu burger, beef pie, minute steak or market fish and chips with a glass of under & Over Shiraz or a Vale Ale beer for only $20. No bookings are required."

I've had a crazy craving for burgers lately so I was super excited to try this out! The wine bar is a very nice setting for lunch - it's airy and filled with light, and you can watch the action in the kitchen too.

The view of the kitchen.
C's opted for the minute steak and a glass of wine whereas I've chosen a ginger ale and of course the wagyu burger. The steak is nicely cooked and quite tender, it comes with bearnaise sauce - I've got a bit of food envy! But then my burger arrives and it's exactly what I've been craving! The meat is juicy and there's bacon, cheese, bbq sauce, tomato and a pickle on the side. Both meals come with a serve of freshly cooked french fries. It's more than filling for a lunch and super tasty. It's more than what I would normally spend on lunch but makes for a nice treat, I think I'd like to come back and order the steak!

Drinks, Minute Steak, Wagyu Burger - complete with a french fry trying to escape!
What: Glass Wine Bar's $20 Corporate luch
Where: Glass Wine Bar at the Hilton Hotel
How much: $20

April 10, 2012

Gastro Park

Back in January I had one of the best meals of the year - yep, it's only March but I'm willing to bet that when 2012 comes to an end I'll still think back to this meal and drool!

Before I get started, apologies for the photos - we had a late sitting and as a result it was quite dark....so, sorry..

The restaurant has a nice relaxed atmosphere and almost feels like a cafe with couples, groups and some families. We left the food decisions in the hands of the kitchen, opting for the tasting menu. To start there is a thick slice of sourdough bread served with butter and salt, of course I tried to eat as much of the butter as possible! Then a couple of the 'snacks' are served - Putanesca wafer and Cured blackmore short rib grissini. Damn fine snacks if you ask me - I could munch on these anytime - the Putanesca wafer is cheesy with nice flavours from the vegetables. The grissini has cheese as well, which complements the tasty beef.

Mmm bread.. and love the cheese display!

Putanesca wafer and Cured blackmore short rib grissini.

This is followed by slices of raw scallop that are simply dressed with olive oil, a generous smattering of fresh chives, lime and dehydrated squid ink powder. The flavours are simple and fresh, it's delicious and right up my alley. Next is foie gras, wild hare, beetroot, plum vinergar and red cabbage granita. It's pure genius. Foie gras in this shaved form still has the same rich flavour but it's much lighter, so it doesn't overpower the other elements in the dish. All the flavours and textures work well, and the coolness of the granita adds an extra dimension.

The scallops... and the foie gras in grated form.

Our waiter brings out the next dish and asks us to guess what it is and it's not obvious at first glance. Turns out it's soy and mustard glazed swordfish belly with pickled cucumber. It's totally melt in your mouth and has a great flavour, it's almost like eating meat - why doesn't all fish taste this good? The pairing of pickled cucumber works really well to balance the stronger flavours in the fish.

Soy and mustard glazed swordfish belly with pickled cucumber.

Next is one of the dishes that you cannot miss - liquid butternut gnocchi, mushroom consomme and sage. Take a mouthful of the mushroom consomme along with one of the delicate gnocchi and enjoy the smooth texture and flavour that bursts and combines perfectly with the consomme. The cheesy wafer has enoki mushrooms and a couple of the gnocchi plastered to it... simply yum. It's clever and fun and soooooo tasty.

Liquid butternut gnocchi, mushroom consomme and sage.

Where to from here? What else but the other dish that everyone talks about - crispy scaled snapper, smoked potato puree, calamari crackling and ink sauce. Besides the obvious novelty of eating the crispy scales, the snapper is perfectly cooked and delightful in taste and texture. The potato puree is smooth and creamy, with a nice flavour. The calamari crackling is accompanied by a couple of pieces of calamari, and along with the ink sauce binds the dish.

Crispy scaled snapper, smoked potato puree, calamari crackling and ink sauce. 

Couldn't let the calamari bits get missed out in the photo!

By this time we're definitely ready for dessert as we're getting quite full - it arrives in the form of a chocolate, honeycomb, mandarin sphere with cookies & cream. The recommendation is to tap with the back of the spoon as one would with an egg. It gives a good crack and the cold liquid elements ooze out, ready to mixed with the cookies and cream. It's a little on the sweet side but it's very tasty and one feels indulgent, the way dessert should be.

Chocolate, honeycomb, mandarin sphere with cookies and cream.

Craaack! Totally decadent and delicious.

So we come to the end of a truly fantastic meal. C's matching wines were all great pairings - I've never seen C enjoy the matching wines so much with a tasting menu - our sommelier was friendly and informative, you could really see he had a passion for wine. And last but not least, the people (including the afore-mentioned sommelier) working the floor were awesome! Not only was the service faultless but everyone was so friendly that we were laughing non-stop, it was like dining with good friends. I've never had so much fun at a restaurant.... great food, great people - it was perfect!

What: Gastro Park
Where: 5-9 Roslyn St, Kings Cross