{Travels} My Guide Around Surry Hills, Sydney

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About 3 weeks back, the Mr and I decided to surprise my sister-in-law and brought her to Sydney for the weekend as her birthday present! Needless to say, the smile on her face when she opened the envelop containing her printed air ticket was priceless! It has been a long time since we went to Sydney as well, so I was super excited to go!

We were so lucky to be able to stay at Cambridge Hotel that is located at the heart of Surrey Hills. Everything was just a stone-throw away! In this post, I will be sharing with you the different places we dined at that were all located in Surrey Hills, and a walkable distance from the comfort of our hotel!

First stop : Devon Cafe

Devon Cafe

Of course, to maximise our stay, we took one of the earliest flight out and arrived early in the morning! haha As we were too early to check in to our hotel, we decided to stop by one of the cafes that has been on my list for the longest time for breakfast! Plus it was close to the hotel too! (:  We were greeted by the most enthusiastic and friendly staff which instantly brightened up our morning!

Muffins, pastries & burgers

If you wanted something light or quick, they had a good range of savoury and sweet on display! Croissants, muffins, brioche and tarts! Especially if you wanted something to pair with your coffee-on-the-go! hehe

Our usual cuppas

We started our breakfast with our usual hot cuppas! Chai soy latte for me, latte for the mr and hot chocolate for Melissa!

Chai soy latte

I absolutely loved the pot used to serve my chai latte! hehe It was so japanese inspired and wanted to smuggle it back! haha Of course I didn’t, I still wanted to head back to Devon Cafe when I am traveling in Sydney again. hehe

Chick n Chips

There were so many things on the menu that we were drawn to. Everything just sounded so delicious! Melissa was tossing between sweet or savoury, but decided on the Chick n Chips! When it arrived, the smell was AMAZING! I was salivating just inhaling the smells. haha It had a chicken sausage, crispy confit wing smoked potato, fried egg, jus gras, chicken skin and chips! Yes, crispy chicken skin! DELISH!

green eggs and ham

The Mr ordered the special of the day, and I could totally understand why! It’s a play on the typical green eggs and ham but definitely elevated to a whole new (and better) level and everything the Mr loves! Thick cut bacon, Jerusalem artichoke puree, 63 degree eggs with wild mushroom, parsley & garlic cream and topped with crispy Jerusalem artichokes! Absolutely delicious! The plate was close to being licked clean!

Devon's granola

I wanted to start the trip with something healthy, as I knew how indulgent I will be for the rest of the day! haha So I decided to order Devon’s granola! How pretty is it? hehe It has house made granola, vanilla yoghurt, poached pear and freeze dried raspberries!  Loved all the different colours and how the freeze dried raspberries just pop!

Devon's granola

Seeing how pretty it is is making me itch to make my own granola and have it for breakie!! Think I just might! (: So after a filling and satisfying breakfast, we decided to head over to Cambridge Hotel to check in!

Front Desk of Cambridge Hotel

(Photo credits : http://www.cambridgehotel.com.au/)

When you enter the hotel lobby, you’re greeted by the smiles on all the faces of the staff! It took less than 10 minutes to get us all checked in and headed up to our room!

our room

How inviting are the rooms? Really spacious for the 3 of us too! This was the premium twin double room and our room had stunning views too!

Welcome chocolates

And how thoughtful are the staff at Cambridge Hotel? A box of handmade chocolates to warmly welcome us to our room and Sydney! Isn’t it the little things that really count and make an impact to your holidays? Love it!

Second Stop : Bourke Street Bakery

Address : 633 Bourke Street, Surry Hills

Opening hours : 7am – 6pm (Mondays to Fridays)

7am – 5pm (Weekends)

Bourke Street Bakery

After taking a short break (aka taking a power nap haha) we decided to walk to Bourke Street Bakery! I was so happy when I realised how close it was! Just a 15 mins slow walk brought us to this amazing bakery! It’s always pretty packed and there is always a queue, but it moves pretty quickly and trust me, it’s worth the wait!

Pork and fennel sausage rolls

Before going on to the sweets, we decided to have their sausage rolls! So glad we did though cause it was so so so so good! The pastry was flakey and buttery and the pork and fennel filling was absolutely delish! We shared as we wanted to have space for the sweets which we already aimed or while we were ordering the sausage rolls! hehe

Sweet pastries

The mr really wanted a croissant, but they only had the plain ones left! It was still really good though! No regrets getting it! hehe We couldn’t resist ordering the famous ginger creme brûlée tart, especially since the mr loves creme brûlée! And just when we were about to pay, a tray of freshly baked rhubarb frangipane tarts came out of the oven, so I had to get one! Trust me, nothing is better than a piping hot tart, fresh out of the oven!

Ginger creme brûlée tart

The ginger creme brûlée tart was nothing short of amazing! The short crust pastry was buttery and absolutely love how creamy and luscious the filling was! There was also a good hit of ginger, which the Mr absolutely adored! We may or may not have bought 2 more to bring back to our hotel. haha

Third stop : RoboCog Cafe

Address : 249 Riley Street, Surry Hills

Robo Cog

I absolutely love how the hotel is surrounded by small cafes, and all of them have something that would draw you in! Just down the road was a cute little cafe called Robocog which I had a cuppa with the gorgeous Heather (:

The inside of robocog

The interior was really warm, cosy and inviting. Their menu was in a shape of a robot (but I didn’t get to snap a shot of it, oops!) They had quite a spread food wise, but we were just there for coffee and to catch up!

Decaf cappuccino

I ordered the decaf cappuccino which had quite bold flavours but was smooth to taste! It’s been a while since I had coffee but still enjoyed it! I really love meeting up with people after only communicating over emails/instagram/twitter! Was an absolute pleasure!

Forth Stop : Chat Thai

Address : 20 Campbell Street, Haymarket

 Chat Thai

I know this isn’t exactly located in Surry Hills, but it’s a short 5 minutes drive or a 20 minutes brisk walk from the hotel! Chat Thai has been on everyone’s lips when they do head to Sydney and we didn’t want to miss having it! So off we went, in the cold, and walked there for dinner one night!

Cute lights

Although we went around 615pm (which I thought was quite early), we still had heaps of people infront of us and we waited for a good 40 minutes for our table! Fortunately there were a few thai supermarkets which we could pop in to have a walk or when we felt too cold to wait outside! When it got colder, the staff brought out the gas heater, which definitely made the waiting less painful!

papaya salad

We started our meal with a bang! A huge chilli hit! The papaya salad (som dtum) was so spicy I could only have one portion! Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious, but just too spicy for me. I think we could have let them know the level of spice, but we didn’t and we were given the maximum one! haha

Grilled pork neck

This was my favourite dish of the night. Grilled pork neck (khor mhu yaang) with smoked chilli and tamarind relish! The pork neck was so tender and the sweet & sourish relish complimented each other really well. A must order dish if you ask me! (:

Thai green chicken curry

When we have thai, it’s a must to order a bowl of green curry as well! This was the thai green chicken curry with apple egg plants, kaffir lime leaves and basil! So fragrant and just the right amount of heat! Could easily finish a bowl of rice just with the curry gravy! Mmmm!

dtom yum goong with king prawns

The dtom yum goong with king prawns had the most intense and amazing flavours! Every sip tasted like prawns! SO GOOD! We couldn’t stop saying WOW. haha In fact, we were still talking about it the next day!

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The last savoury dish we ordered was the crispy fried whole snapper with a roasted chilli and garlic sauce. When it arrived, we all thought we were in for another spicy journey haha But it actually was a good balance of sweet & spicy! The fish was also cooked perfectly. NOMS!

Durian sticky rice

We were so stuffed by the time we polished off the savouries, but the Mr couldn’t resist ordering the durian sticky rice! We did want the mango sticky rice, but mangoes weren’t in season. So durian it is! Many might not like this King of the Fruits, but we absolutely adore it! Creamy and sweet, we finished it too quickly! hehe

Fifth Stop : Bills

Address : 359 Crown Street, Surry Hills

Bills

Last and definitely not the least, Bills. I remember the first time I came to Sydney, the only place I wanted to try then was Bills. This time was no different. Bills was still on my to-go list and one thing I wanted to have was the fluffy ricotta hotcakes! We went around 1030am and had to wait for a good 45 minutes. But is it worth the wait?

Ricotto hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter

ABSOLUTELY! Look at how fluffy the hotcakes are??? Piping hot with bananas and a honeycomb butter and a drizzle (or a heap haha) of maple syrup! YUMMO! I just couldn’t stop eating!

Ricotta hotcakes

Oh my gosh. I’m having some serious hotcakes pregnancy cravings this instant! hehe They are seriously amazing. You definitely have to make a trip there when you are in Sydney or around Surry Hills! Head there early if you want to reduce the queueing time!

Bills

The place was constantly crowded but the staff still wore smiles on their faces! Love it!

Hot chocolate

I was so excited about the hotcakes I forgot to talk about the drinks we had! Melissa ordered the hot chocolate and boy was it good! It was made by coating the bottom and sides of the glass with chocolate buttons and pouring hot milk in! Ooh lala! She was definitely one happy girl! hehe

Beet root juice

I decided to go for something healthy and refreshing – Beet root, carrot, fennel & apple!

I really hope you enjoyed my eating journey around Surry Hills! Our bellies were definitely happy through the 3 days we had in Sydney. Just want to thank the Mr for planning the trip, Heather for helping with the accommodation and Cambridge Hotel for the comfortable stay we had for the 2 nights!

Have a great week ahead everyone! Remember to always cook and bake with love!

Till the next post, xx

New Autumn Menu : No. 8 By John Lawson

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I was so lucky and excited to be invited to taste the new autumn menu at No. 8 by John Lawson a few weeks back. Don’t know if you can remember my first tasting done there and I absolutely loved it! So when another opportunity came to dine back at No. 8, I couldn’t say no hehe If you don’t remember John Lawson, his dishes are driven & inspired by the fresh produce he has around him. In fact, his cooking revolves around sustainably produced ingredients that he can find around locally from Victorian farmers. 

Before I share with you the new menu, I just want to thank John Lawson, the chefs and the staff for accommodating to this expectant woman. hehe Cannot be more thankful that I am still able to dine comfortably and have delicious food! (:

Whole wheat and beer sourdough

So like always, the night starts with beautiful slices of bread made by Eds Breads! If you follow me on instagram, you would know that I often buy my breads from him and have them for my breakfast! Unfortunately, I was late due to work, so I didn’t get to try the newly created – whole wheat and beer sourdough. But lucky for me, we were all given a loaf to bring home! YAY! hehe Love the crunchy outer crust and a soft centre. There isn’t one loaf of his I could fault!

Wheat berry and baby carrot salad

The first course was the salad course : wheat berry and baby carrot salad ! I absolutely love the wheat berries. They have a nutty flavour to them and really good bite too! This was also served with jerusalem artichokes turnips and sunflower shoots! A really colourful and refreshing start to the night! This was paired with a gin & tonic, which I didn’t have, of course. But I can imagine what a good match it would be! hehe

Mildura yabbies, hervey bay scallops and pine mushrooms

The next dish was a show-stopper in my opinion! When it arrived in front of me, I could feel my jaw drop! How pretty is that? Perfectly cooked Mildura yabbies, that were so fresh and sweet with Hervey Bay scallops and pine mushrooms! What a great entree! Every seafood I love on a plate! Actually on a gorgeous scallop shell! Absolutely loved this dish.

Slippery Jack mushroom risotto

And the dishes just gets better and better! When I looked through the menu before dinner started, this was the dish I was really looking forward to! Risotto, when cooked perfectly, is my weakness. I could have a huge plate of it and still want more. hehe This, my dear readers, was absolutely delish! Every mouthful I had was bursting with mushroomy flavours, and the rice was creamy and cheesy! SO GOOD! Ticked all the right boxes! Hands down my favourite dish of the night! NOMS!

Milawa duck breast

The main for the new autumn menu was Milawa duck breast! As it was cooked medium rare to medium, I couldn’t have it. But from the sounds made by everyone sitting around me, I knew it was as good as the first time I had it! This time it was served with pear, brussel sprouts and foie gras sauce. How good does that sound? hehe Have to head back another time to try it! hehe

Flat iron steak

Lucky me though, a special dish was cooked for me – flat iron steak! I’ve not had this cut of steak before, but it was so tender and though it looked like it hasn’t been cooked through, it was! Every piece just melts in my mouth and goes so well with the slices of beet root! AMAZEBALLS! I was trying to savour it slowly, but I found myself finishing it before I knew it! haha

baked potato with cheddar and crispy pig

We were also served a side of baked potato with cheddar and crispy pig! Holy moly! This was everything I was craving for in my pregnancy! Lucky thing we shared among the 4 of us, or else I would have smothered my face in it! Don’t worry there was also a side of cosberg, kale and mustard leaf, but I was so engrossed in eating the potato and steak, I forgot to snap it! hehe

72% Cocoa and coffee fondant

Now, time for the sweets! Though I was already quite stuffed, but there is always room for dessert right? hehe There were two on offer again tonight, and this was the one I didn’t have cause they were worried the chocolate wasn’t pasteurised. 72% Cocoa & coffee fondant! Let me tell you though, the smell of the chocolate filled the table as they were being served! So delicately plated too!

Gooey middle

Of course, when you are served a fondant, the money shot would be when you cut it open! Sorry the photo is a tad dark, but can you see the shiny bit of chocolate oozing out? Definitely a perfectly cooked fondant!

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I had the slow poached quince, spiced crumb and yoghurt! The last time I was at No. 8 I had a yoghurt dessert too! Such a good way to end the night though. Light, refreshing with the sweetness of the poached quince! I definitely wanted more! Mmmm (:

Occelli testun in foglie di castagno

Something new was a fromage course : Occeelli Testun in Foglie di Castagno! haha The name was a tongue twister and I have to admit I googled just to see what it was! hehe It’s a cow and sheep milk cheese that is wrapped in chestnut leaves for 18 months! My constant craving has always been cheese this whole pregnancy, but sadly I couldn’t have this cause it was soft cheese! The smell was divine though! It was matched with a Grey Box honey from Castlemaine. Sweet and salty – match made in heaven I’m sure!

Chocolate and passionfruit truffle

Last but definitely not the least, we were given beautiful chocolate and passionfruit truffles to end the night (: Dark chocolate that is subtly bitter contrasting with a sweet passionfruit filling!

Once again, the food was outstanding and I highly recommend you to head down to No. 8 at Crown Melbourne to give the new menu a go! You definitely won’t regret it! (:

Disclaimer : I was invited to the launch  by Hatch Communications and No. 8 By John Lawson. All thoughts and opinions are based on my experience at the time of the visit. Thank you so much for this wonderful experience and opportunity yet again!

No. 8 by John Lawson (number 8) on Urbanspoon

Turning 28 At Nieuw Amsterdam

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Turning a year older is no doubt a special occasion. But this year, it was really special to me. Next year, I will be celebrating as a mum! (: Can’t be any more excited about that! As we get older, birthdays just become a time where we head out to have good food. No longer did we have the huge celebrations, just quiet ones now, which I actually enjoy more! Just a small intimate affair with my loved ones. hehe

Nieuw Amsterdam

Address : 106-112 Hardware Street

Melbourne Vic 3000

Website

Nieuw Amsterdam has been on my to-go list for a while now, so I knew exactly where I wanted to go to celebrate turning a year older! Absolutely loved the atmosphere when we stepped into this American Bistro, and the wait staff were really friendly as well!

Our drinks

Being pregnant, I couldn’t have any alcohol, so I ordered lemon lime bitters instead. The sister-in-law couldn’t resist the cider and the Mr had a dark beer (sorry I didn’t get the exact name! haha). The food at Nieuw Amsterdam are mainly sharing plates and that’s exactly what we did! Although we did order quite a bit. haha We were definitely hungry (:

New York Sour Dough

The night of food started with a loaf of New York sourdough with some beautiful creamy butter! It had a really crispy outer crust and the bread was still soft in the middle. We definitely wanted more of it, but was reserving our stomach space for the food we ordered! hehe

Pig trotter and ham hock nuggets

These little gold nuggets were absolutely delicious! With a great crunch with every bite, the mixture of pig trotters and ham hock just melts in your mouth and you wouldn’t be able to resist going for more! Sitting on the nugget is a thin slice of a pickled radish, which cuts through the richness of the dish. AMAZING!

BBQ Scallops with mango gazpacho, avocado and chilli

Our second appetiser is perfectly cooked BBQ scallops sitting in mango gazpacho, with avocado and chilli! Scallops are one of my favourite ingredients of all time. I could have it in any way – sashimi, pan fried, grilled. Give it to me! haha Though it seems like there is a lot of flavours going on, but everything worked together!

Chicken waffles

I was craving for waffles for the longest time, so when I saw this on the menu, I couldn’t resist! A thin waffle topped with chicken terrine, pate and a super crispy chicken skin! YUM! Don’t worry, I didn’t have my pate hehe but it was still delish! The small but mighty chilli jam just brings the whole dish together and the flavour of sweet and spicy just bursts in your mouth! I was one happy girl! hehe

Southern style pork belly chops

This, my dear readers, was the best dish of the night. Tender and melt-in-your-mouth pork belly which was just full of flavour, topped with pork crackling and sauerkraut! Couldn’t get enough of it and just wanted to devour the whole bowl!

Southern style pork belly chops

Absolutely divine! A definitely most order dish when you do head there! (:

Jerk chicken

The Mr chose the jerk chicken dish with crispy rice and black bean puree! The jerk chicken was tender and had a good chilli kick to it and went really well with the crispy rice! The only down part of this was the pineapple salad, which really was just pieces of pineapple, and was a tad bit sweet for my liking.

Smoked beef brisket

I chose the last main : Smoked beef brisket with carrot remoulade! I requested for the beef to be cooked through, and it wasn’t tough! Wheee! (: So thankful that the chefs were happy to accommodate to my dietary requirements!

Dutch potato fries with spiced garlic mayo

As a side, we got the dutch potato fries with a side of spiced garlic mayo! Can’t turn down crispy thick cut fries. Simple but delish!

The Nieuw chocolate bar

As we were all quite full by the time we finished our appetisers and mains, we decided to share just one dessert. The one that caught my attention is the Nieuw Chocolate Bar! When it came, I couldn’t be happier with my choice! A rich and decadent chocolate bar topped with banana cake, brûlée bananas and tonka bean ice cream! It was so yum I wanted to have another, though there wasn’t much space left in my tummy. haha

 It was definitely a great night and I can’t thank the Mr and sister-in-law enough to celebrate this special day with me! Nothing beats celebrating with loved ones and having great food is just the icing on the cake! Will definitely be back to try the other dishes on the menu! hehe

Nieuw Amsterdam on Urbanspoon

 

Have a great weekend everyone!

Remember to always cook and bake with love! 

{Preview Event} Is Fine Dining Finished ?

Is Fine Dining Finished?

The Good Food Month by The Age is happening now and I was lucky enough to be invited to the preview event of Is Fine Dining Finished at The Point Albert Park. I was very excited as it was my first time dining at The Point and the weather we had that night was just glorious!

The view from The Point Albert Park

I couldn’t help but snap a few panoramic shots when we were invited to have some cocktails at the balcony. It was just breath-taking!

Karpouzi Kup

In the midst of catching up with every one, we were served with the prettiest drink I’ve had in a long time – The Karpouzi Kup by Gazi Restaurant. It was a cocktail of aperol, gin, lemon juice, soda water and fresh mint! I’m a sucker for gin, so give me anything with gin in it and I would be happy girl! And I definitely was smiling, while sipping on those cute candy cane straws!

Karpouzi Kup by Gazi

So refreshing and perfect for the sunny hot day! Soon after, we were led into the wine cellar that had a large communal table where we would be dining for the night. It was beautiful and I couldn’t wait till I get to try the food!

Recently, casual, shared, street food is taking over the food scene, so the purpose of the night was to discuss if fine dining is finished? Hosted by The Age’s Dani Valent, the dinner presented contrasting dishes from two very talented chefs : Justin Wise who is The Point’s Executive Chef, and Luke Croston of Gazi, who has travelled the road from fine dining to street food. The food was matched with wine and cocktails and the table was open to all opinions about the future of dining in Melbourne. All views shared, none judged!

Street food is definitely gaining popularity and the first course of Gazi has proven why. For me, I love casual dining as food could be conveniently consumed, and sometimes we could even eat standing up!! With a more relaxed atmosphere, I feel less concerned about being prim and proper when enjoying my food.

Soft shell crab souvlakakia

The soft shell crab souvlakakia was AMAZEBALLS. My first time having soft shell crab in pita bread. It was delicious with huge pieces of crispy soft shell crab, and the flesh was so fresh and sweet! The sauce had subtle flavours of honey and fish sauce! George Calombaris told us that Greek food use to utilise lots of fish sauce, but it is use less now. Definitely learnt something new that night! hehe The freshly made pita bread was also light and fluffy!

Beef brisket souvlakakia

The beef brisket souvlakakia was also really amazing. Melt-in-your-mouth pieces of beef brisket with chips (yes, chips!), red onion and fresh coriander. This was matched with another glass of Karpouzi Kup! Yum!

Then comes the fine dining courses by Justin Wise.

pan seared foie gras

Pan-seared foie gras with poached pear. This was luxury brought to another level! It’s probably my second having such a huge piece of foie gras, but this is truly the best one I’ve had! Crispy exterior, with a rich and creamy texture. This is definitely a dish that I would come back to dine for.

Foie gras paired with 2007 Max Ferd Richter Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Auslese, Mosel Germany

This was paired with a 2007 Max Ferd Richter Braunerberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Auslese, from Mosel Germany, which was a sweet white wine which cuts the richness of the foie gras. Definitely a great match and I loved the wine, which was no surprise, cause I cannot say no to a glass of sweet wine! hehe

Mackeay Valley rabbit, guanciale, pithier and broad beans

The next dish was the Macleay Valley rabbit, guanciale, pithier and broad beans. How amazing does it look? Plated exquisitely, the rabbit dish was nothing short of perfection and the epitome of what fine dining is about. Beautifully plated, with the finishing touches done at table side.

Pouring the jus

There’s just something about pouring jus, to complete the dish, at table side that excites every foodie. Every component of the fish was cooked to perfection, and matched harmoniously with the 2010 Domaine Geantet Pansiot Bourgogne Rouge, Cote d’Or France.

Decanter in the shape of a snake

The wine was poured using the coolest decanter in a shape of a snake! hehe and yes, I sneaked a shot of George Calombaris cause he was sitting just opposite me!

loukoumades

These loukoumi, loukoumades are golden and crispy greek donuts coated with honey and sprinkled with sunflower seeds. Not overly sweet and soft & fluffy on the inside! The best thing is that they were served hot!

mastic musk sticks

To go with the loukoumades were these mastic musk sticks.

Dessert

petit four

The final touches that a fine dining experience won’t be complete with : a plate of petit four and a cup of tea. Green tea to be exact. Lime jelly, chocolates and shortbread. Just divine.

Green tea

So is fine dining really finished? Not in my books! Though I do love my casual street food, there will always still be a time and place for such enjoyments in my life. The Mr and I love celebrating our special occasions (birthdays & anniversaries in particular) at fine dining restaurants. It’s like a little treat for us, a few times a year.

There are a few things I do love about fine dining :

Freshly baked bread with butter

The freshly baked bread/rolls with some of the best butters I’ve had! hehe Of course, this isn’t the most important reason. To me, dining at a fine dining restaurant is a time for the mr and I to feel just that little bit more special, and being treated like royalty for that hour or two! hehe Just being in our own world and enjoying the great ambience and views the restaurants have to offer.

We do deserve such pampering once in a while, don’t we?

Is fine dining finished?

So what do you think? Is fine dining finished? Book yourself in for the event and share your thoughts!

Venue : The Point Albert Park

Date & Time : 26th November, Tuesday, at 6.30pm

Cost : $145 per person for a four course menu matched with cocktails and wine. Tickets can be purchased here.

For more reads and discussions, please head to :

Never Too Sweet For Me

Iron Chef Shellie

I Eat Therefore I Am

Disclaimer : I dined at The Point Albert Park as a guest of TinkPR and The Point. Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity!

No. 8 By John Lawson

No. 8 By John Lawson

Respect. That’s what I have for John Lawson. The man and skills behind the newly launched No. 8 at Crown Melbourne. Why you ask? Because his beautiful creations are all driven & inspired by the fresh produce he has around him. In fact, his cooking revolves around sustainably produced ingredients that he can find around locally from Victorian farmers. BY doing that, he is proudly celebrating what Victoria has to offer. How great is that? Absolutely amazing!

John Lawson

John loves using ingredients that are not widely used, and in fact, a lot of the produce are exclusively grown and bred for No. 8 by John Lawson! These are definitely highlighted by the freshness and vibrance of each dish. And oh… have I mentioned how amazing it is?

Launch of No. 8 By John Lawson

I was so lucky to be invited to the launch of No. 8 by John Lawson and you can imagine how happy my belly was by the end of the night. Not to mention the beautifully paired wines we had with each course, I was definitely a very happy girl. The moment I sat down, I was greeted by a flute of Moët & Chandon champagne. Mmmm (: Bubbly!

flute of champagne

Shortly after, the feasting began! To start off, we were served a beautiful potato, honey and rosemary bread with seaweed butter.

Potato, honey and rosemary bread with seaweed butter

This bread was made by EDS Breads exclusively for No. 8 by John Lawson and it was seriously one of the best breads I’ve had! It was the first time I’ve had a potato flour bread and when you think potato, you would think heavy and dense. But this was nothing like that at all. In fact, the total opposite! It was soft, fluffy and light! Every bite you take, you would be able to taste the honey and the rosemary. Everyone loved it and even though we knew we would be stuffed by the end of the night, we asked (politely of course! haha) for more bread in the middle of the courses! AMAZEBALLS as some would say! hehe

Flowerdale Farm spring salad

The entree arrived and it was like a plate of edible garden. The Flowerdale Farm spring salad had a bed of wheat berries, topped with baby carrots, sunflower shoots and almond mushrooms.

Wheat berries

It was the first time I’ve had eaten wheat berries, and they had a similar texture to barley, but just a tad bit chewier. The almond mushrooms were grown exclusively for No. 8 by John Lawson and had a subtle almond flavour to it. Was so intriguing! John explained to us that when cooked, the nuttier flavour is more pronounced and had tones of the truffle. Yum!

Sunflower shoots

See the micro greens? They are sunflower shoots that are once again grown exclusively for John by Flowerdale Farm and these micro greens are grown in the Yarra Valley and harvested after a short 7 days of growing. Might probably be just me, but I get excited by micro herbs on dishes. haha This dish was paired with the Seppelt Drumborg Vineyard 2013 Riesling.

Portland black and blue tuna

Next up was one of my favourite dishes of the night. The Portland black and blue tuna with black garlic, yuzu jam and fermented aged soy. This is a signature dish at No. 8 by John Lawson and I can definitely understand why!

Black and blue tuna

Black and blue was a clever play of words, where one side of the tuna is charred and the other side is left raw. So light and refreshing, with a subtle kick from the aged soy. This is one dish I would definitely come back for. With the sweetness of the baby radish and the thinly sliced daikon. Just divine! You could tell how good this dish was, cause there was a silence at the table and then an endless of “this is SO GOOD!” going around after we all tried it.

For the main, we were given a choice of duck or lamb. Which was an obvious choice for me, cause I’m not usually a big fan of lamb. So duck it was!

Milawa duck breast with shallot puree, asparagus and peas

The Milawa free range duck is once again bred exclusively for John (a cross of 5 different species of ducks, like WOW!) and are so tender, the meat just melts in your mouth! Cooked to medium rare to medium,  your teeth is first greeted by the crispy duck skin and then it sinks into the juicy, tender flesh. I was in heaven!

Pinot noir

To go with the beautiful dish is a glass of Pinot Noir (2011) from Bannockburn 1314 A.D. It was fruity and light, and definitely complimented this rich duck! When I saw this big glass, I couldn’t help but think of the Mr, cause he always wanted a glass like that! hehe And yes! He is a pinot noir fan! (:

Milawa duck breast

The duck breasts were sitting on smooth shallot puree with crunchy, fresh asparagus and peas, I could seriously eat this all night long!

Barwon River lamb shoulder

Even though I didn’t order the lamb shoulder, I was lucky enough to try it (Thanks Ash!) The lamb had no lamb-ey taste (if you know what I mean haha), which is the reason why I stay away from lamb. hehe So even for me, this was delicious! Being braised for 12 hours, it was really tender and is also one of the featured dishes at No. 8 By John Lawson! It was served with bush spice quinoa (yum!) and sheep’s yoghurt to just round it all off! Perfect!

After all the savouries, you know what’s coming yes? DESSERT! And no matter how full you are, I truly believe, there is always room for dessert! hehe And this place is definitely not a place you would want to skip the sweets. They are to-die-for!

Yoghurt and honey mousse

There were two options to choose from and I decided to go for the one I thought (and sounded) healthier. haha I mean, after all the indulgence I had for the night, it would be good to have yoghurt yes? ABSOLUTELY! It was everything I thought it would be and more!

yoghurt and honey mousse with lychee, blueberries and mango

Doesn’t it look like art on a plate? The vibrant colours of the seasonal fruits -lychees, blueberries, grapefruit and mango, contrasting the creamy yoghurt and honey mousse. Not to mention, all the fruits on the plate are my favourite! Finishing off with freeze dried raspberries! Before I got to dig in, a syrup was poured on and everything was gone within 5 minutes! haha

Yoghurt and honey mousse

The other dessert was a different take on the old school banana split!

Banana split

OMG. How good does this look? When it was placed on the table, it was love at first sight! This was definitely nothing like the old school banana split with the napoleon ice cream. This was WAY WAY WAY better! A beautifully rum caramelised baby banana served on homemade banana bread and sprinkled with toasted hazelnuts. Ooh-la-la! This is one sexy dessert!

Banana split

I only had one bite and I was definitely in loveeee! hehe

White chocolate truffles

To top the night off, we were served some beautiful petit four of white chocolate truffles with toasted coconut and strawberry jam. These reminded me of a more delicious version of a lamington! hehe

Green tea

I also couldn’t resist ordering a pot of green tea just to make myself less guilty. haha

Everything was just amazing and it’s really hard for me to choose a favourite. But I have to say the one dish that makes me excited (even by looking at the photos) is the Milawa duck breasts! hehe It was definitely a fun-filled, delicious night and I have to say, it is very exciting to see a chef being so enthusiastic about fresh local produce! His passion is definitely inspiring!

So if you’re looking for a place to go and celebrate a special occasion or just want to treat yourself to something delicious, head to No. 8 by John Lawson and I can assure you that you would not be disappointed! In fact, there would be a Coldstream Hills wine dinner that would be held at No. 8 By John Lawson as part of the Good Food Month, so what better time than to head down there on the 14th of November? For more information, please click here.

So what are you waiting for? Head down and try the delicious food for yourself! hehe and oh, did I mention? We were lucky enough to be given a loaf of the delicious potato, honey and rosemary bread to enjoy it at home! Woohoo!

potato, honey and rosemary bread

This is one bread that John Lawson himself cannot stop talking about and it is through months of testing with baker Ed Parker. So you know, it would be delish! hehe So hurry! Make your bookings now!

Disclaimer : I was invited to the launch  by Media Moguls and No. 8 By John Lawson. All thoughts and opinions are based on my experience at the time of the visit. Thank you so much for this wonderful experience and opportunity!

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Vogue Australia High Tea

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The Spring races are here! And the best way of celebrating this designer fashionista event is to dine in style! hehe The Langham Hotel has collaborated with Vogue Australia to come up with this beautiful designer Vogue High Tea! To me, high tea is a time to get together with your girlfriends to have tea, coffee, champagne and a spread of savouries and sweets! Of course, not forgetting the girly gossipy session to go with! haha Due to all the different work commitments, it’s really hard to arrange a meal, let alone to have High Tea. Fortunately for me, I had a date with the Sweet Queen (Miss D) herself at the Aria Bar & Lounge, The Langham Hotel, for the Vogue High Tea! I was so excited as it’s been a long long time since I had High Tea. Such a treat!

Upon arrival, we were greeted by the warmest and friendliest staff, who brought us to our comfortable sofa seats and served us a flute of Domain Chandon NV Brut! I felt so classy and bubbly for the afternoon! Such a silly billy I am. But it doesn’t take much to make me happy, as you can tell. hehe

Paris tea

Of course, you can’t have a High Tea without having tea, can you? There was an extensive list of tea, but Miss D highly recommended the Paris tea. hehe It’s a blend of black teas with the hints of vanilla, fruit and lemony bergamot. We were told that this was a hot favourite with many customers!

Paris tea

I knew why after my first sip. It was nice and fruity, and and a very subtle taste of vanilla. Not overly tart or sharp. Perfect for the afternoon of treats! How pretty is the colour of the tea?

Hot chocolate

Daisy ordered a hot chocolate to start off, then an earl grey tea after! The hot chocolate was a tad bit too milky, and would be better if it was more chocolatey!

3 tiered displayed

Then the three tiered stand arrived. My eyes inevitably lit up and a wide grin on my face appeared! hehe How pretty is the stand?? I couldn’t wait to dig in!

sandwiches

We started from the bottom of savouries and worked our way to the top. There were 5 types of finger sandwiches : smoked salmon pin wheel, free range chicken, cucumber and cress, egg & mayonnaise, cream cheese & chive! My favourite was the smoked salmon and the chicken! Mmmm (: Thankfully I had a light lunch before, or else I wouldn’t have space for what’s to come! hehe

scones!

The second layer was my favourite of the layers! Freshly baked scones with clotted cream, butter and jam. The scones were absolutely divine! Crumbly outside and fluffy & moist on the inside! Just everything you would love in a scone. I think there is only one thing that goes perfectly well with scones and thats thick and luscious clotted cream! Ooh la la! At this point, there’s this phrase that just keeps ringing in my head “Once it’s on your lips, goes straight to your hips!” haha Well, who cares! It’s scones! Mmmm!

Scones

Now with scones, do you have the jam first or the cream first? To me, it has always been jam first then cream, but just for that day, I decided to try the other way around. To be perfectly honest, either way is still as delicious!!! haha But do you have a preference? hehe

Sweets

The top tier offers a range of beautiful sweets! Definitely was spoilt for choice and we didn’t know where to begin! We decided to start with the chocolate macarons, which were a tad bit too crispy for me. But the chocolate ganache was delish! Then we made our way through the Vogue strawberry eclair, lamington bonbons, lace cookies, very vanilla cupcakes and ended the afternoon with the salted caramel popcorn tarts that were YUMMILICIOUS!

top view of our sweets tier

I apologise for the yellow tinge of my photos! The yellow light was just right above the tier! hehe but this is a top view of our sweets spread. The lace cookie was so pretty! hehe

So dress up, and plan a day with your girlfriends! Head down to the Vogue high tea and enjoy a whole afternoon of indulgence and pampering in style! The high tea is held at the Aria Bar & Lounge in the Langham, from now till the 8th of November, from 10:30am to 4:30pm at $65 per head.

Book soon cause not long to go! (: We all deserve an afternoon like that for sure!

Disclaimer : I was invited by Daisy of Never Too Sweet and Langham to have the Vogue High Tea at the Aria Bar & Lounge, Langham. All thoughts and opinions are based on my experience at the time of the visit. Thanks so much for this opportunity and afternoon treat! 

Silks Mid-Autumn Festival Banquet

Just a couple of weeks back, I was invited to a Mid-Autumn Festival banquet at Silks Crown by Chef Tsang, and it brought back lots of fun memories! Being away from home, I rarely get to celebrate mid-autumn festival anymore. But it was a yearly event in my family when I was much younger. We used to have lots of food, endless mooncakes and after all the feasting is done, we would light up a paper lantern and walk around the neighbourhood! Just thinking about it brings a smile to my face! hehe

8 course dinner banquet

I love love love when I get my own personal place card. hehe I know it’s a small thing, but just makes me feel important haha Just for the night (: The banquet menu included 8 delicious courses and I couldn’t wait for it to begin!

steamed scallop  and vermicelli with garlic

The first dish was the perfectly steamed, plump and juicy scallops with vermicelli and garlic. This was so so good and one of my favourites of the night! There’s just something about chinese cooking where it looks simple, but the balance of the sauce is what’s critical to the dish. This was a perfect balance of sauces and was delicate enough to go with the scallops. Amazing!

Double boiled chicken consomme with dried scallops and mushroom

The second dish for most chinese banquets is soup. No ordinary soup, it’s soup that has been simmered for a long period of time to extract every single flavour from the ingredients. Every sip was just so flavoursome and I could just have a huge bowl of this for the night and I would be a happy camper!

Giant coral trout enrobed in minced shrimp

This third dish definitely wowed my sense of smell, sight and taste! I was definitely intrigued and super excited when it was placed in front of me. A crispy prawn head and tail, and in the middle is a piece of coral trout enrobed in minced shrimp! How amazing is that?? I was sitting next to the amazing Zeboy & Ms I-Hua and we were saying how difficult that must be to do!

inside the enrobed coral trout

See how the layers were so distinct? The best part was the crispy skin of the fish! I seriously wanted more and wished the Mr was there with me, so the prawn head didn’t go to waste! Any prawn head lovers out there? This was fried till every bit of it was crispy, but I still couldn’t bring myself to eating the shell! haha

Sauteed lobster with black bean sauce and pine nuts

This brought smiles on many faces! The lobster pieces were all cooked perfectly – still tender and juicy and went so well with the black bean sauce. It’s not usual that pine nuts are used in chinese cooking, usually it’s cashews or peanuts. But pine nuts worked equally as well, and it’s good for u too! hehe There’s always a huge packet (from Costco) in my pantry cause I love to add them in my sautéed vegetables (cauliflower, Jerusalem artichokes) ! hehe

diced beef tenderloin with mixed mushroom in gravy sauce

The fifth dish was melt-in-your-mouth beef tenderloin with mixed mushrooms in a terriyaki sauce. A little sweet for my liking, but I absolutely loved the texture of the beef. Not sure how Chef Tsang did it, but the beef was juicy and really tender!

chicken fried rice with XO sauce

The last savoury dish was chicken fried rice in XO sauce. Every rice was coated with egg and you could see the glorious yellow grains in the bowl! It had a chilli kick to it as well, from the XO sauce. I could never fry rice like this, never turn out to be this delicious. Think I need to invest in a wok! hehe

Sweetened walnut soup with glutinous rice ball

After 6 savoury dishes, I was so stuffed. But there’s always room for dessert, yes? Absolutely! When I saw what we were going to have for dessert, I was a little apprehensive, cause I never had walnut soup before. Plus the only other nut-soup I tried (and didn’t like it much) was almond soup. So I was a little worried about how it would taste. But I was so wrong. This was so smooth and delicate and absolutely divine. For a cold night, it was really comforting as well! Perfect winter warmer! I would head back just for another bowl of walnut soup. hehe

black sesame glutinous rice ball

Within the soup was a hidden treasure – a glutinous rice ball with black sesame. Absolute love! How sexy is the black sesame oozing out from the middle after a bite? hehe Rich but not overly so. Did I say it’s perfect? Cause it was!

Wing Wah white lotus seed mooncakes with double yolk

To end our banquet on a even sweeter note and what is seen as a symbol of mid-autumn festival – Mooncakes! This one is the famous Wing Wah mooncake from Hong Kong! The white lotus seed paste was smooth and not overly sweet and had two salted egg yolk! While I grew up opting for the no-yolk mooncakes, I have to say the combination is starting to grow on me. But I still like mine without yolk hehe

After the amazing banquet, Chef Tsang came out of the kitchen to say hi to us and answer some of our questions. It’s no wonder his food was absolutely delish cause he was from the two Michelin stars, Ming Court in Hong Kong! He’s been in Melbourne and Silks for 6 months now and is still working on a in-house recipe for mooncakes. hehe

So if you’re want to take part in some Mid-Autumn festivities, Crown is holding one from 9th to the 22nd of September, and there is something for everyone! Do check out their website for details of the events as they will be converting the Atrium into something spectacular!

Wing Wah moocake

We were so lucky to receive a box of mooncakes from Wing Wah to bring home! The Mr and Melissa couldn’t be happier when I took it out of the bag! hehe And yes, they finished one whole mooncake that very night! heh

Thank you so much Silks Crown, Chef Tsang and Media Moguls for organising this scrumptious banquet! Great food and was so good to meet and catch up with everyone! So do head to Crown and check it out and try some mooncakes if you haven’t had any yet!

Lianne @ Food Made With Love attended the Mid-Autumn festival banquet as a guest of Silks Crown and Media Moguls. Thank you so much for this yummy opportunity! 

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