Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Rockpool Revisited

So, as I mentioned previously, I have visited Rockpool twice since my eventful first time. And whilst my comments may be somewhat redundant, seeing as Rockpool just won Victoria's Best Restaurant in The Age's Good Food Guide 2007, I suppose there's no harm in giving a second opinion.

My second Rockpool experience was for a family celebration some months back. And most recently, I was taken there on a date. (Yes, I am a very lucky girl).

I have to say, the service, in general, has vastly improved since my first visit. Both times, there were no longer any glaring problems with the service. And on my last visit, our waiter and our sommelier were particularly wonderful. They were both friendly and knowledgeable, and really contributed to us having a great night.

Now, onto what Rockpool is famous for - the food! I took lots of photos on the second visit, but none on the third visit (what with trying to look cool and everything). I will attempt to do them justice in words below.

I am embarassed to say I can't remember exactly what this salad was. It was a few months ago, and the particular item doesn't seem to be on the menu anymore. There was a boiled egg, some tuna, which sat atop a selection of salads - a bit of carrot salad, some coleslaw with a wonderful mayonnaise dressing, among other things.

Squid-Ink pasta
Wagyu Bolognese
Confit of Suckling Pig with Mustard Fruits
STEAK. Ask your waiter for help when choosing the steaks, so you choose the best stake to suit your tastes! I like them rare.

Horseradish and béarnaise sauce. And on a side note, having just uploaded these photos, I now remember where my Pullivuyt obsession must have started! A short while after this dinner, I bought these same little pyrimidial dishes (approx. $13 at leading homeware stores), and have used them as condiment plates, and cute pudding moulds too.

Onion rings. My brother said, "Hey, these are better than Hungry Jacks!" Thanks Daniel. They are, indeed, very very good.

This fantastic candied popcorn comes out with coffee. Almost better than the dessert.
Chocolate roulade with iced hazelnut coffee

For my last visit, I remember some especially lovely dishes: the 'Chicken and Egg Soup', Blue Fin Tuna Carpaccio with Black Olive Oil, Pine Nuts and Herbs, the Wagyu Chuck Steak Braised in Red Wine with Gremolata and Potato Purée, and the Blood Orange and Prosecco Ripple Ice Cream Sandwich.

The 'Chicken and Egg Soup' comprised a deeply chickeny broth, tiny cubes of chicken meat, pieces of spinach and a softly poached egg in the centre. The fact that it was voraciously devoured by someone who routinely adds 2 Maggi stock cubes when making soup at home speaks volumes.

My entrée, the Blue Fin Tuna Carpaccio, was also delicious. It had 4 pieces of the freshest tuna I'd ever had, drizzled with black olive oil, pine nuts, tiny triangular lemon pieces, and some greens. It also came with chargrilled bread, which was doused in garlic oil.

The Wagyu Chuck Steak was meltingly tender, with an intensely flavoured sauce, a sprinkling of gremolata on the top, and a velvety smooth potato purée. The meat was cooked so well that it could be eaten with just a fork.

The ice-cream sandwich dessert was a perfect light ending to a large meal. There were 3 small quenelles of the prosecco and blood orange-ripple sorbet, sitting between 2 meringue rectangles. It was topped with a quenelle of cream and some orange rind. On the side was an anise-flavoured fruit salad, which I think had blood orange and some other fruits in it.

So as you can see, I am absolutely enamoured with the food at Rockpool. And on my last visit, the service of the waitstaff was really excellent. I would recommend Rockpool to someone who's after a special dining experience, and who is willing to pay for it.

There was one, small, teensy weensy problem with our last visit, which I feel I should mention. When we arrived, we were told that the system had lost our booking. The staff member greeting us (the restaurant world's equivalent of a nightclub bouncer) was rather rude to us about it, implying we didn't have a booking. We felt that this could have been because we didn't look like typical Rockpool clientele. In the end, however, our problem was solved. Once the "bouncer" realised why we were there, we were treated like real customers should been from the beginning, and the attitude was gone. Having overcome those small problems, we ended up having a fabulous night.

Rockpool Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Canberra: No really, it's a cool place!

A few weeks ago, I headed up to the nation's capital to visit a friend of mine who has recently gotten a job in the government. Canberra has a reputation for being quiet, small, and expensive. And it sure is! But that doesn't mean you can't have a good time there. All the major sights can be done in a day or two. For me, these were Parliament House, the embassies, Mt. Ainslie, and Fyshwick. (Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre, did not make it onto my "must-do" list). This then leaves you with a lot of time for the important things - food! My great thanks to An for organising a fabulous itinerary including Canberra's coolest restaurants!

I found that, in general, Canberra's restaurants and cafes are of a good quality, very expensive, and tend to lean towards the modern-pan-European-bistro-style, with a touch of the Middle East thrown in for good measure. Here are the highlights of our culinarily orgiastic trip.

Silo Bakery
36 Giles St
ACT 2604

Silo is Canberra's best place for breakfast, with tasty cooked breakfasts, scumdidilyuptious baked goods and a cheese room. It's located in the affluent Kingston area, and gets packed on weekend mornings. So, if you're only going to be in Canberra for one weekend (and let's face it, you probably will be), make sure you get there early to avoid the queue!

Poached eggs on toast with chilli jam and roasted tomatoes. Mmm...

Silo Bakery on Urbanspoon

Jones the Grocer
Shop 13, M Centre
Palmerston Lane
ACT 2603

Silo is closed on Sundays. But luckily for us breakfast-lovers, Jones the Grocer is open! It's a cafe-slash-cheeseroom-slash-gourmet food store. Take the time to peruse the shelves while waiting for your breakfast, and pick up a little treat to give to your family back home.

PodFood @ Pialligo Plant Farm
12 Beltana Rd
Pialligo Plant Farm

PodFood is a lovely small restaurant situated at the back of Pialligo Plant Farm. They serve modern, inventive food. It's also located very close to the airport, making it especially suitable for a fancy pre-flight farewell meal.

Spring Chicken!
A delightful salad.
Saffron pasta with prawns and goat's cheese. It was wonderful.

We shared 2 desserts between the three of us. There was a lemon tart and a chocolate cake. Both were very nice. I'm not convinced of the need for rose-flavoured Persian sugar floss, candied orange rind, strawberries and a passionfruit half to garnish every dessert, but they were good nonetheless.

Podfood on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Cranberry Brownies

After the turkey dinner, I had quite a few leftovers. Some were microwaved and eaten the next day, others were made into fabulous turkey-cranberry sauce-mayo sandwiches, and others met their sad fate in the rubbish bin. The most exciting result, however, were these cranberry brownies. I found the recipe in The Ultimate Brownie Book (the source of the
coca cola brownies), and thought it would be the most interesting way to use up the remaining cranberry sauce...

The recipe actually needs more cranberry sauce than I had left, so I augmented quantities with a bottle of good-quality store-bought cranberry sauce...

Right. To make cran-tastic brownies, you beat eggs and sugar, add the cranberry sauce, some almond extract, and some chocolate melted with butter.

Then you fold in some flour, baking powder and salt. Spread it into a tin and it is ready for the oven. I added white chocolate chips too, because I had them.
The resultant brownie is quite dense and fudgy, so it's best to leave it to cool in the tin before cutting it up.
The result? Yummy! They were very sweet though (which I guess I should have expected from such a decadent book), and best enjoyed in small pieces. I'm not normally a fan of almond extract, but the subtle bitterness of the extract cut through the sweetness quite nicely. Next time, I'd still cut down on the sugar, and perhaps add some pecans or other nuts to contrast against the brownie's sweet fudginess.

We ate some of the brownies at home, and gave the rest away to workmates. I don't think anyone realised that they had cranberries in them, but they were enjoyed none-the-less.