Fries to Foie Gras
FTFG is a Medical student and his passions include eating and cooking (in that order).
He hopes to eat his way around the world one day and own a patisserie after he has retired.
FTFG's unwilling sous-chef and pretend patient.
FTFG tricked me into being here - but then I fell in love and stayed.
Past PostsOctober 2011
For a complete list of our posts,
Dan's House ( George St CBD), N2 Extreme Gelato (Dixon Street CBD)
Today is ...
Culinary Adventure day!
It started off like every other regular Friday with FTFG waking up late for class and me, tagging along because
Except that was totally NOT what happened. Well okay, for the most part it was but let me tell you the story.
First off, I drove. Big mistake. FTFG says he needs to visit a chiropractor every time I drive. The only part of his that is stiff... Sorry haha, that pun was just totally there for the taking! Anyway, as per usual we were late but decided we'll visit Din Tai Fung for brunch anyway. Unpopular opinion: I'm not the biggest fan of Din Tai Fung but I really felt like something warm today. As we were heading towards the restaurant however, FTFG saw the sign for a new restaurant: Dan's House.
Little known facts about FTFG: he always gets sucked into Asian restaurants that promise to deliver but rarely do and I always humour him. Dan's House specialises in Peking Duck whilst modernising other Chinese dishes. Sounds good to me! So in we went.
Dan's House is on George St but in order to get to the restaurant, you have to take a lift. The decor of Dan's House is quite different to every other Chinese restaurant you know of in Chinatown. Instead of those plastic chairs and slightly sticky floor, you get a curved booths and transparent chairs. I especially love the chopsticks engraved with the restaurant's name in gold. Nice touch!
Just as we entered the restaurant from the elevator, there was a huge crashing sound coming from outside the window. Then we saw what looked like a sheet of glass smash into a million cheap knock off rain drops. It was pretty frightening, especially since no one knew where the sheet of glass had come from.
Anyway, we ordered the restaurant's signature duck soup, sugar cane smoked duck with lychee and mango jelly and the porkbelly lunch set.
First, the soup.
It looks quite plain and to be honest, tastes just as it looks. There's some tofu in the soup and not too much duck flavouring personally. Nothing special.
Sugar cane smoked duck with lychee and mango jelly.
The top photo is from Dan's House, below is our own.
I think this was the dish FTFG and I were both looking forward to most. The dish comes with five pieces separated with slices of cucumber. Having my first piece, I thought the sauce (not sure what it was suppose to be) tasted very similar to a plum, sweet and sour sauce. The slice of duck was okay whereas the jelly was a little hard.
I don't eat cucumber especially since it's been merely used aesthetically here but FTFG said it tasted like nothing anyway. We deconstructed our second pieces and realised both duck and jelly contained little to no flavour at all. I swear I forgot it was suppose to have a hint of sugar cane until I looked up the menu again. Also, no smokey flavours. FTFG thought the duck was dry and reminded him of boiled, lean pork. Think the kind of pork slices you get if you boiled lean pork loin, tough and flavourless. Same with the jelly! It had a hint of citrus, no lychee flavours and it was pretty hard. I'm not sure if it's because it's usually a dinner dish that we ordered for lunch and therefore, the chef didn't have time to let the jelly soften or if that's how it usually is but we were greatly saddened. Still, it looked nice - if only nice tasted as good as it looked.
Finally, the pork belly lunch set. The lunch set comes with four parts plus a bowl of rice. The four parts include: sweet stir fried pork belly, fried turnip-radish cakes, a bean curd salad of sorts and seasonal fruit.
My favourite was the turnip-radish cakes. Essentially, they're the same type of cakes you get at any yum cha restaurants.
However, the ones at Dan's House are cubed and fried until there's a beautiful golden crisp layer that crunches in that exquisite naughty way only too much oil can provide. It also had a dark sauce and julianned mandarin rind at the bottom which gave it Dan's personal touch. We both agreed that this dish blew the original poor man's cake out of the water.
The pork belly was extremely tender. I think FTFG said it was the best he's had in a long while. The first piece I had was just fat and it melted in my mouth. It was amazing - and terrifying. You know that small part in you that constantly nags you to be healthy? You pretty much need to shut that part of your brain down to eat the fatty goodness of this dish. The fat to meat ratio was roughly say, 70 : 30. I liked it when I had a little of both, as separately they were either too rich or just plain boring.
Overall, I thought Dan's House was average. I'm not sure if it's because we turned up at lunch time and were the first customers of the day or if they perform better during dinner time. I'm not completely sold enough to return for a second try but I do want to try their Peking duck (their signature dish) and see how the place performs during the dinner time.
The next place FTFG was literally dying to visit. N2 Extreme Gelato. Despite the chilling winds, FTFG was determined to have the gelato today. 12:30pm and extreme wind speeds seemed like prime time for munching on ice-cream. Being the organised, geographically savvy youngsters that we are, we finally found N2 and... a locked door.
... And no one to service us. HAHAHAHA.
I don't know what pushed us to enter the store. Well, in our defence, the lights were on. And when we pushed, as the sign politely asked us to, we pushed and were emitted entrance!
The first thing FTFG notices is the four kitchen aids standing unattended. The perfect opportunity he said! For what? I asked. Stealing was his reply. We had a look around at the decor and the menu (a quaint little chalkboard thing). Then we greeted a surprised shop-owner.
He was kind enough to make us some ice cream even though he wasn't prepared and wasn't planning to open for another 30 minutes.
FTFG went for their extremely popular blueberry cheesecake whilst I went with the slightly stronger (and definitely more masculine) Hainanese coffee. Other flavours they featured included Boysenberry cheesecake, Earl Grey (sold out!), Geisha's milk (green tea matcha latte if I remember correctly), Plain Vanilla, Kinky Vanilla (I think it has a hint of spice?), Chocolate and... possibly popcorn.
Anyway, FTFG's blueberry cheesecake came out with such a beautiful authentic blueberry colour that only real blueberries can achieve. You know that lovely lilac tinged with a hint of too much blue? That colour. God and it tasted just as good as it looked (a funny contrast to the other dish from Dan's House). The real cream N2 adds to the cheesecake really makes it feel like you're eating cake!
My ice cream was a lovely rich sweet coffee colour with real coffee bean bits. Widely known fact: I do not drink coffee. (I know, I know. I survive uni and all that on sheer force of will - but if you're going to share the Ritalin, pass it over sister!). Anyway the ice cream had that sturdy coffee punch with I like and just enough sweetness so that the punch doesn't knock you out. Initially, I liked the coffee bits for the crunch but increasingly became annoyed with them. Plus, I eat ice cream excruciatingly slow so it always melts before I'm done.
N2 sells their ice cream for $6 per scoop, regardless of whether it is in a cup or cone (and it's a good waffle cone so don't shy from it!). Personally, FTFG and I both agreed that $6 a scoop was reasonable considering the ice cream was good quality and the novelty nitrogen factor made us giggle like school girls. I can't wait to go back and try the other flavours! Hmm... Already thinking about which one's to order.
I think this post is long enough for one day! The ending of our culinary adventure in the next post! Plus photos!!! I promise! Haven't you noticed just how efficient everything has been going ever since I arrived? :P I joke. Oh the life of an art's student! Apparently, I have so much time, FTFG can just retire.
(Even I wish I didn't have to study!)
Unprecedented! (Photo post)
Good morning world!
I've been awake since 4.30am... Don't worry, I fell asleep almost instantly after a long day at uni! I was in bed by 6.30pm.
Anyway, since then, I've just been making little changes to the blog. I don't know why it took me over an hour just to change the font style (which I'm STILL not happy with by the way!), font colour, tables.. cell alignments.. ahem. Then I fixed up the comment section, finally!!! Now, my minions, spam it.
Today's post is in ways an apology for our lack of posting.. Sorry! But we do have a few posts in draft mode ready to be published real soon so please bare with us!
Now if these don't get you salivating, there is something a teensy bit wrong with you..
If FTFG and I were a dessert dish, we would like to be this:
It's a strawberry shortcake with foie gras ice cream!
Click on the photos to see their original source!
New look, new post, new recipes!
Have you noticed something different about FTFG? Why thank you, yes, we did get a new lovely haircut but more importantly, the blog got a complete make over. Of course, there is still some fine tuning that needs to be done but all good things take time.
Now, those new dishes we promised.
Pan fried duck with citrus salad
Pan fried duck with scallops and soba noodles
Both dishes were surprisingly easily to make. Personally, I have to say I'm a huge fan of the citrus salad. I can't remember if the original recipe asked to use spinach and rocket - which was what we used - but the orange slices (surprisingly) complimented the soy sauce, olive oil and lemon dressing by giving it a streak of sweetness through the acidity.
On the other hand. the scallops we seared in the second dish tasted disastrous. Do people normally expose their horrible cooking on their food blogs? I'm not sure but I'm telling you now. The scallops we had in Bistro 211 (in the Hunter Valley) (update soon because I loved that place!) would have murdered the ones we seared ourselves just as Bane kicked Batman's arse in the new Nolan flick (which was also, not-so-incidentally-and-actually-for-comparative-purposes, amazing).
The recipes for both these dishes can be found on the Gourmet Traveler website - pan fried duck with citrus salad and pan fried duck with scallops and soba noodles.
Now, I suppose long time readers (which I can probably count on one hand - or rather, finger) of this blog, can see that this post is written vastly different to all others. Mostly because it isn't your usual lovely FTFG who's writing (and editing and resizing photos) this post but rather, it's me. Surprise!
I play sous-chef in FTFG's imaginary three hatted kitchen - when he lets me. To be honest, I clearly enjoy the end product much more than the actual process and absolutely hate the ending (cleaning!). My weapons are words and not sharp knives! FTFG calls me jellybean but you can call me Shortcake. He asked me to move in with him and here we are!
Edit: So apparently, the pan fried duck with citrus salad recipe no longer exists. I wonder why that is. :/ Anyway, your regular FTFG will be updating this post soon with the recipe which he remembers (and I clearly, do not.)
Ricotta Hot Cakes with Bacon, Butter and Bananas!
Its been a while since my last post as I've resumed uni *long sigh*. Neurology is by far the most knowledge-dense block we've done so far and it's giving me a massive migraine (subdural haemorrhage anyone?) /end Rant. Now onto a happier topic!
One of my favourite meals of the day is Breakfast/Brunch. Why? Well its probably the only meal where you can have a sweet as a main and it would be completely justifiable. The sun is out, coffee is ALWAYS present and it's the beginning of a new day!
I'm pretty sure most of you reading this would agree with me that Melbourne is the Mecca for all things brunch. Whilst I was down there last year, stopped by at a cafe called 'Ms Jacksons' in St Kilda. This place was an exact replica of Bill's at Surry hills (Corn Fritters, Ricotta Pancakes - you name it). Now putting aside the infringement of intellectual property, you couldn't argue with their pancakes. Not only have they copied Bill, they've improved it. Fluffier, Tastier - and just foodgasmic.
1 1/3 cups Ricotta
3/4 cups Milk
4 eggs separated
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch of salt
Honeycomb Butter (1:1 Soft Butter, Honeycomb and Honey (to your tasting) in a blender) - Roll into a log and cut.
Dry Mix: Sift together the flour, Baking powder and salt.
Wet Mix: Place ricotta, milk and egg yolks together and whisk to combine.
Mix together wet and dry mix.
Beat Egg whites until stiff peaks form (I found very stiff peaks gave a fluffier texture)
Fold Egg whites in two batches.
Fry as per normal pancakes and you're done! Add crispy middle bacon, torched bananas, maple syrup & honeycomb butter!
Ocean Room Circular Quay Review
First World Problems. I sat at my desk and deliberate over and over again. Yet the problem appeared unsolvable. Ocean Room, Blancharu or Gastro Park? I couldn't go wrong either way right? So at the flip of (three) coins, fate had determined that I shall be dining at Ocean Room.
Ocean Room is definitely a good choice for a romantic date based on its location alone (using that logic, so is Quay). We were situated right next to the wharf where we had a perfect view of the Opera House. Not that I haven't seen it a thousand times before, or that I hadn't been inside whilst dining at Guillame, but having paid for that view made it seem all that more special. But I digress.
Overall I wouldn't say there were too many dishes that were amazing or show-cased the chef's skills or creativity. My favourite would definitely have been the deconstructed ceviche. I believe that Ocean room is probably best experienced if ordered a la carte with safe favourites. The view is amazing though and the staff were quite knowledgeable.