A Foodbloggers Ladies Luncheon with Almost Bourdain Part Une

Ladies who lunch. Three words I’d never thought I’d associate with myself (a lady? Moi?), and yet surfaced to reality a few moons ago with a lunch hosted by the lovely Ellie of Almost Bourdain.

Ellie is one of those who I look up to whether it be cooking or baking or both. Her cooking skills are exceptional and her photography skills are just astounding. She comes up with the craziest and yet most creative creations (hello? Chocolate Bacon Gingerbread House, anyone?) and her fascination with macarons are just beyond me.

Nevertheless, I should shut my trap and just the photos do the talking: a Malaysian feast, 16 desserts, and 15 foodbloggers later…

Nasi Lemak condiments
Nasi Lemak condiments
Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice)
Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice)
Nasi Lemak condiments
Nasi Lemak condiments
Ikan Bilis
Ikan Bilis - dried anchovies with peanuts (similar to dilis of the Philippines)
Chilli Pineapple
Chilli Pineapple
The infamous Micheal Jackson drink. Why? Its black & white!
The infamous Micheal Jackson drink. Why? It's black & white!
Minhs Risoni with Beans and Feta Salad
Minh's Risoni with Beans and Feta Salad
Trissas Chorizo & Grilled Red Capsicums
Trissa's Chorizo & Grilled Red Capsicums
Trissas Chicken Wings
Trissa's Chicken Wings
Ellies Beef Rendang - one of the two (or three or four...) highlights of the lunch!
Ellie's Beef Rendang - one of the two (or three or four...) highlights of the lunch!

Ok, let’s pause for a minute. Are you still with me?

Take a deep breath. That was just the entrees and mains. Let’s take a break before the ginormous desserts on offer that day!

The desserts were a monumental effort on their own that they deserve a separate post. So… desserts on the next post!

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A Very Blogger Christmas @ Baroque Bistro

A week ago, a bunch of hungry food bloggers had a crazy idea of getting together once more before the crazy Christmas season starts. What’s more, we shall be having Kris Kringle!

Why so crazy?

It’s November/December, which means party season. We all come from different areas around Sydney with plenty of commitments lined up each and every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

BUT. We pulled through. A date was set, secret presents were bought, and Kath proudly suggested our meeting place to be Baroque Bistro and Patisserie in The Rocks. I was sold: French food, on a summer-y Tuesday evening, with one of the happiest foodbloggers around.

Baroque is a newly opened sister restaurant to that other French patisserie, La Renaissance in The Rocks. Barely two weeks into its opening, and already I can see it’s popularity through the number of diners coming in for a tasty meal or two of their short, simple yet delectable menu.

Can you see the Harbour Bridge from this window?
Can you see the Harbour Bridge from this window?
Lemon, lime and bitters
Lemon, lime and bitters
Eye candy macarons...
Eye candy macarons...
Eye candy waiters and chefs, I must admit!
And eye candy waiters and chefs!
Baguette slices, olive oil & salt
Baguette slices, olive oil & salt

Entree

Snail and asparagus salad, baby spinach, orange segments
Snail and asparagus salad, baby spinach, orange segments

The snail and spinach salad was a tasty plate that sent shivers down my spine. I’m not a snail eater, but I was surprised at how delicious I found this salad. The oranges complemented the snail well, and baby spinach is always a favourite.

Black pudding on puff pastry with roasted apples
Black pudding on puff pastry with roasted apples

Again, another dish foreign to my palate. You can find Black Pudding in my Food Bucket List: have always wanted to try it, but never have. Surprisingly, the crispness of the pastry and tartness of the apples cut what would’ve been an unpleasant (psychologically, anyway) aftertaste of what is essentially animal blood.

The ladies ordered other entrees that I wasn’t able to taste, except for the baked eggs.

Baked eggs, porcini cream, toasted baguette
Baked eggs, porcini cream, toasted baguette

The baked eggs and toasted baguette were… simple. I wasn’t able to taste the porcini cream, so maybe that was what would’ve added to the spectacle of the whole dish. However, I must say that the toasted baguette was quite good, albeit very small serving.

Poached chicken, witlof, mango, soy vinaigrette
Poached chicken, witlof, mango, soy vinaigrette

I wasn’t able to taste Ellie’s salad of poached chicken and witlof with mango and soy vinaigrette, however the other ladies agreed that it had alot of Asian flavours mingling especially in the dressing – which was a surprise to find in a French menu!

Mains

Braised beef cheeks, roasted parsnips
Braised beef cheeks, roasted parsnips

I have always been a fan of beef cheeks, especially the slow cooked meat variety. This dish delivered everything that was promised – soft, tender meat and a tasty sauce with deep undertones. A perfect winter dish, had it been winter season here in Australia. Nevertheless, it was still a great dish.

Ocean trout fillet, carrot puree
Ocean trout fillet, carrot puree

The ocean trout was absolutely divine. Lorraine was first to taste it and she gleefully pronounced it to be the dish of the night, thanks to the carrot puree. Soon after, Kath and I were both moaning with the same pleasure as Lorraine – the trout with its coral wonders and the carrot puree were ambrosia-like to our palates.

Lamb rack, potatoes gratin dauphonoise & jus
Lamb rack, potatoes gratin dauphonoise & jus

The lamb came in last, as the waiter got confused with our “sharing” orders. The lamb was a dish off the special menu, and was also the prime suggestion of our dear, dear waiter. The presentation was excellent, the meat tender and the whole plate just superb.

More mains from Ellie and Betty (as Trissa ordered the lamb too).

Butcher’s cut of beef, fries, eschallot jus
Butcher’s cut of beef, fries, eschallot jus

A medium rare butcher’s cut (rump) which came out a bit on the medium side, without a hint of rareness in it. The handcut chips were excellently seasoned though and had that rustic taste.

Green salad, vinaigrette, garlic croutons
Green salad, vinaigrette, garlic croutons

Sides

Paris Mash
Paris Mash
Chips & mayonaisse
Chips & mayonaisse

Dessert

Kudos to everyone because we all agreed that after the scrumptious feast, we only had – albeit small – room for dessert. There should always be room for dessert, especially on a foodblogger’s dining table, no?

Vanilla creme brulee, pistachio ice cream
Vanilla creme brulee, pistachio ice cream

The creme brulee with pistachio ice cream was a-ok… I should note though that it did taste like any creme brulee however it was indeed a forgettable dish. The pistachio ice cream tasted more like almond, and the edges of the creme brulee tasted very egg-y. The middle part, however, tasted much much better with the more distinct caramelised sugar that added much more “cracking” on its carapace.

Croquettes of chocolate, caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream
Croquettes of chocolate, caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream

The chocolate twirl was the centrepiece of this dish. Sadly, it was the only highlight – everyone else loved it however Lorraine and I both agreed that the chocolate croquettes were very mediocre. It also tasted like the oil used to deep fry the croquettes was old, however everyone else enjoyed the plate so who was I to contest that?

Breton shortbread with apple and nougatine, apple coulis
Breton shortbread with apple and nougatine, apple coulis

This dessert dish, I must admit, was simply spectacular. From the presentation down to the taste – this dish was unforgettable and I don’t really have to ask why. The simplicity of it all – the tartness of the apples and the crunchy sweetness of the nougatine was splendid. Top that with the apple coulis and you get a truly magnificent dessert plate. The only downside? The teeny tiny macarons which we deduced were more for aesthetics than taste as they were hard as rock. Ah well, can’t please everyone.

All in all, it was an absolutely fabulous evening. A bunch of giggling girls (from the presents and oggling over the hot European waiters) and a table full of delicious food will always equaly a fantastic time together.

Oh, and for the presents?

I got Trissa. And guess what she got me?

Whats in the bag?
What's in the bag?
Oh double wrapped!!
Oh double wrapped!!
More decorating paraphernalia for the baker in me!
More decorating paraphernalia for the baker in me!
Be jealous! Be VERY jealous!
Be jealous! Be VERY jealous!

The other ladies were so so sweet to give out more goodies! If there is anything I love about being a foodblogger, it’s because of these lovely ladies who are surely spreading good tidings and cheers to everyone!

A massive candy cane from Kath and a bath scrub from Ellie
A massive candy cane from Kath and a bath scrub from Ellie
Chocolate lipglosses from Betty - as cupcakes!
Chocolate lipglosses from Betty - as cupcakes!

Oh, and before I forget, as we were wrapping up the night, the chef came to our table with a plateful of colourful macarons… compliments of everyone in the restaurant. How is that for a splendid night?

Can it be any more festive than this?
Can it be any more festive than this?

Macarons: chocolate, lemon, jasmine, cassis, passionfruit chocolate, vanilla strawberry, olive oil & avocado and olive oil, avocado & chocolate (thanks Lorraine for the flavours). My favourite would have to be cassis and especially jasmine. Growing up in the Philippines, you can smell jasmine or sampaguita in the air all the time, especially when passing by a church as these were made into garlands and brought to churches. I am just obsessed with jasmine – aromeratherapy oils, perfumes, soaps, and now look! Macarons too!

Demolished within minutes...
Demolished within minutes...

As we were leaving, the Maitre D’ handed us a goody bag of macarons and asked us who was the birthday celebrant. We looked at each other, puzzled, until he said “oh, the presents! Who were they for?”. We explained it was an early Kris Kringle dinner and thanked him for again being generous and giving us more free macarons.

The restaurant in a top spot for a casual dinner, coffee (with macarons!), or a fancy drink or two. The service was excellent, food was just fantastic, prices affordable, and waiters and chef adorable (I just have to include that!). In toto? I think I’m falling inlove with Baroque (sshh… don’t tell anyone).

Baroque Bistro & Patisserie

88 George Street The Rocks, Sydney

Ph 02 9241 4811

Open 7 days 8am til midnight

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