Monday, October 29, 2012

The Best Roast Pork Shoulder and my tips for perfect crackling...

Roast pork shoulder
The centrepiece of my most recent PORKTOBERFEST lunch was a resplendent roast pork shoulder, all juicy and tender with a crisp layer of crackling on top. Normally when I cook roast pork, I simply point you in the direction of the recipe I used - but in this instance I made the recipe up myself, so I'm pleased to be sharing it with you here!

I really only decided the day before the party what the central porcine item would be - I had thought of doing a very slow-roasted rolled pork shoulder, to be torn apart with forks into succulent little morsels like pulled pork - but in the end, I thought a single piece of meat, to be cut into thick slabs, would be more celebratory. And crucially, my local butcher only had unrolled, de-boned pork shoulder! So I did slow roast it at a low temperature, but just not quite as long as I'd do it for melting shreds of pulled pork. (For pulled pork, you could go anywhere from 12 to 24 hours!) I roasted this two kilogram piece of pork at 120C for six hours, with a final 30 minute hot blast for crackling. (And yes, this means I set my alarm for 6AM to get this pork started, and then toddled off back to bed).

And because I am the queen of crackling (a title I have unashamedly bestowed upon myself!), let me share with you some tips for getting the perfect crackling.

I have mentioned this many times before, but it bears repeating: to get good crackling, you need the rind to be dry, dry, dry! Buy it the night before, remove any plastic and let it dry overnight, uncovered, in the fridge.

(I've seen some recipes for Chinese crisp roast pork that say to pour boiling water over the rind before roasting it, but I've never figured out how that wouldn't dampen and thus kill your crackling. I wouldn't personally recommend that method).

While the oven is preheating, I rub the rind with a little olive oil (again, to aid in the quest for crackling!) and sprinkle it generously with sea salt, fennel seeds and caraway seeds. The salt draws the moisture out of the rind, enabling crisp crackling and of course tastes good. I love the aniseedy aroma of the fennel and caraway seeds against the rich pork, but you can use any other flavourings you like (or none at all - plain salt is still good!).
Pork, almost ready for the oven
For this particular roast, I poured some white wine around the pork in the tray (being careful not to get any liquid on the rind itself!), covered it with foil, and roasted it at 120C for 6 hours. Most recipes for roast pork say to give the pork a 30-minute hot blast first, to get the crackling going, followed by a long slow cook at a lower temperature, with a final 30-minute hot blast at the end to finish the crackling. As I mentioned above, I'd gotten up at 6AM just to put the pork in the oven, and I did not want to be sitting around waiting for 30 minutes to turn the oven down! So I just started it off at the low temperature, and only turned the temperature up at the end. Luckily the crackling worked. Success!!
Roast pork
Now you see, my friends, that is the type of crackling you want: a nice even layer of fine bubbles throughout the whole rind. If you have no bubbles, it means your rind was damp when you started (and sadly irretrievable), or it hasn't been cooked for long enough. Either way, you'll have chewy rind - the type that gets stuck in your teeth. Not fun. If you look closely, you'll see there were a couple of slightly chewy sections of rind towards the back, but there was already enough crackling for all of us, and I didn't want the already perfect sections to get burnt!

Conversely, if your crackling-creating hot-blast is too hot, you'll get gigantic, scary-looking yellow bubbles which, again, are chewy and unpleasant. With my oven, I find that 220C-230C works best, but as all ovens differ you'll have to get to know your own. Trust your eyes and remember that you want an even layer of fine bubbles.

I think you could make a sauce out of the pan juices (indeed, all the connective tissue in the pork shoulder will produce a particularly nice, jellied sauce), but there really is too much fat floating the pan around to be able to do this easily. (At this particular lunch, you'll remember we also had a bunch of other dishes to prepare, so I didn't have time to be carefully straining and spooning off the pan juices).

And here it is!
Roast pork shoulder

It looks quite a bit like pork belly when roasted, and being boneless, was incredible easy to carve. Controversial of me to say it I know, when Melbourne seems to be in the grip of Pork Belly Fever, but I like roast pork shoulder even better. You get the crunchy carapace of crackling, you get the juicy and tender meat, but you get a much more satisfying meat-to-fat ratio, without any big mouthfuls of wibbly wobbly fat that you can get with pork belly. The method is ridiculously easy too. If you're a pork lover like me, hop to it!

Perfect Roast Pork Shoulder
An original recipe by Sarah Cooks

1 x 2kg boneless shoulder of pork, in one flat piece with the rind on
Olive oil
1/2 teaspoon each fennel and caraway seeds, or to taste
1 glass dry white wine

Remove any wrapping from the pork and lay it out flat in a tray, skin side up. Allow to dry, uncovered, in the fridge overnight.
7 hours before you plan to eat, take the pork out of the fridge to allow it come to room temperature, and preheat the oven to 120C. Drizzle the olive oil over the pork rind, rubbing it in with your fingers (or a pastry brush). Sprinkle over a generous amount of sea salt, followed by the fennel and caraway seeds. Pour the wine around the pork, being careful not to get any of the liquid onto the rind. Cover the tray with foil, and place into the oven. Roast for 6 hours.
Remove the foil, and increase the oven to 230C. Roast for 20-30 minutes, or until the rind has turned into glorious, glorious crackling.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Carve into thick slabs to serve.
Serves 6 lucky people

Friday, October 26, 2012

Human Brochure

Hey hey everybody! Just a quick one today: I wanted to let you all know I'm off to Canberra for the weekend, as part of the Human Brochure campaign that Australian Capital Tourism have put together to promote the nation's capital!

Basically, they created a big competition to bring 500 humans to Canberra for an all-expenses-paid weekend. (Half now, half in March next year). The idea is for us to come and experience Canberra, and share our experiences and thoughts via social media. I'm told that over 32,000 people applied for the 500 spots, so I'm pretty chuffed that I won!

We had four streams to choose from: Adventure, Family Fun, Arts and Culture, or Food and Wine. So you can all guess which one I selected - adventure, of course! Haha, just kidding! Food and Wine, Food and Wine! (I think the Adventure guys are doing some kind of mountain-biking-trip - it makes me tired just thinking about it, hehe).

Those of you who've read my blog for a while will know I've been to Canberra a few times already, and have always enjoyed it. Ostensibly we go to visit my friend who lives there, but also to check out their wineries, restaurants and cafes. (It's the city with the highest number of restaurants per capita in Australia!) I'm excited to discover new restaurant and foodie destinations, but also happy that we'll be visiting a restaurant I've been to before and really enjoyed. (Spoiler Alert: it's Grazing at Gundaroo!)

The humans behind the scenes at Australian Capital Tourism have been putting heaps of effort and work into the trip so far. The Food & Wine itinerary looks like a lot of fun, and the hotel they're putting us up in looks pretty schweeet. I can't wait!

You can follow the trip at the Human Brochure website, or using the #humanbrochure hashtag on Twitter.

I'll be blogging the trip after I get home, but if all this Canberra talk has whetted your appetite for all things Canberran, do check out my posts from my previous holidays.

2007 Trip:

2009 Trip:

2011 Trip:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Featured Dish: Beef on Fried Noodles, Hills BBQ

A new featured dish: my favourite noodles ever!

Beef on Fried Noodles (ngow yok chow minh), $8.50, Hills BBQ

Hills BBQ in Box Hill is famous for its roast meats, but if you can tear yourself away from the glorious sight of the shiny lacquered ducks, the crispy roast pork, and the glossy chickens hanging in the window, may I suggest you check out their menu of noodle and rice dishes?

The beef on fried noodles (AKA ngow yok chow minh) is my favourite dish at Hills - well, one of my favourite dishes anywhere! I love them so very much. Only $8.50 for a massive plate, and they always come out steaming hot and deeelicious. The best part of these, for me, are the noodles themselves: the fried egg noodles are crunchy in parts, with those in the middle going delightfully soggy from soaking up the flavoursome sauce. Add crunchy fresh gai laan and a generous amount of beef slices, and you are in flavour country!

My family has been ordering this dish for at least the last decade and it's always been great. (Yay for consistency!) My brother, especially, craves it when he's been away for a while.

Side note: I had a little fangirl freakout moment when Sami Tamimi replied to my (non-Ottolenghi-related) tweet about these noodles. Woo!

(I'm assuming he meant looks "delicious", hehe).

Hills BBQ
586 Station St
Box Hill VIC 3128
Ph: (03) 9899-3382

Hills BBQ Noodle Shop on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Power Salad

I know that if you read my blog a lot, you might somehow get the impression that I'm constantly in the kitchen, whipping up tasty treats and elaborate dinner parties on the weekend, and virtuously making and bringing my lunches to work during the week. And you know what, that can be the case... sometimes. But we all get into little ruts sometimes, and often when I do one of these posts on healthy food, it's after a week of lazily failing to plan my meals, resorting to sad little tins of tuna and rice for lunch and (gasp!) oven chips for dinner.

I whipped up this salad last week, when I felt like I needed a kickstart to get back into the swing of bringing lunch to work. I love a good grain salad, and made it up using different bit and pieces I had in the pantry and fridge. I started off with a base of red rice and quinoa (like Ottolenghi's red rice and quinoa salad), adding crunch in the form of toasted mixed seeds and crunchy sprouts (like Jill Dupleix's Greens and Grains), sweetness in the form of currants, and raw snowpeas and chopped parsley for greenery. For extra deliciousness, I topped it with marinated feta to serve. 

When making it up, I knew it would be healthy and nourishing, but I didn't realise just how fantastic it would taste. There's something about the mix of textures that is just so compulsive! I ate quite a bit of it when making it (in the name of "taste-testing", you understand), and shared it with one of my coworkers, who totally loved it and wolfed down a massive bowl of it in no time at all - I guess you can make friends with salad!

I named this salad Power Salad, in honour of the fact that it's full of protein, thanks to the quinoa, mixed seeds and crunchy sprouts, but also because making it powerfully got me out of a lazy little food rut. I hope it can do the same for you.

Power Salad
An original recipe by Sarah Cooks

1 cup red rice
1 cup white quinoa
4 tablespoons mixed seeds (e.g. pepitas, sunflower seeds, pine nuts)
3 spring onions, finely sliced
The juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or to taste)
1 handful snowpeas, trimmed and finely sliced
200 grams crunchy sprouts (e.g. a mix of sprouted chickpeas, lentils etc)
2 tablespoons currants
Small handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tin marinated feta 
Add the red rice and 2 1/4 cups water to a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to the lowest possible, clamp on the lid and allow to cook for 20-30 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked. Tip onto a wide flat plate to cool.
Cook and cool the quinoa in the same way, using only 2 cups water, and letting it cook for 10-15 minutes.
While the grains are cooking, you can get on with the rest of the salad. 
Toast the mixed seeds in a dry frying pan until lightly brown and aromatic. Set aside.
Get out a large mixing bowl, and add the spring onions, lemon juice, olive oil, snowpeas, sprouts, currants and toasted seeds. Tip in the cooked red rice, quinoa and parsley, and stir with a fork to mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, top with marinated feta and dig in!
Makes enough for 4 lunches

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Olsen Hotel's "Spring at Spoonbill" Dinner

View from The Olsen Hotel
How lovely is that view? This picture was taken from the Penthouse Suite of the Olsen Hotel, where I was invited to celebrate the launch of the new Spring Menu at their in-house restaurant, Spoonbill.

We started with drinks in the Penthouse Suite, before moving downstairs to the restaurant for dinner.
Champagne in the penthouse suite
When I go out on weeknights, I make a point of driving so that I don't overdo it and regret it the next day, and of course I immediately regretted my responsible decision when I saw that Pommery was on offer - it's one of my favourites, and I'd happily drink it all night - so I made sure I really appreciated and enjoyed the one glass I had, hehe. (As all the advertisements say these days: drink responsibly!!) On an unrelated note, apparently that hot tub balcony is warm and ready to go All The Time - I was totally tempted to dive in, but there was dinner to get to.

The private dining room in Spoonbill had been beautifully decorated in brightly coloured flowers. Of course, I'm totally stealing the idea for my next dinner party - so pretty!
Pretty flowers

Springtime table

Dorky of me, I know, but I was super-thrilled that my dress not only fit in with the Springtime theme, but also quite literally matched the table settings!
My lap, my place setting

My place setting

We were treated to an eight-course meal from the new spring menu - for the purpose of the multi-course menu, I think servings were a little smaller than what you'd get if you ordered the items separately at the restaurant, so I won't include prices in the captions. (The Spoonbill menu is available online if you'd like to check it out!)

TEMPURA SOFT SHELL CRAB - Wombok, Thai basil, yuzu mayonnaise
The soft shell crab was nice and fresh, with a light crisp batter - a good start to the evening.

SEARED DUCK BREAST - Soft polenta, forest mushrooms, asparagus
I'm not ordinarily a huge fan of polenta, but I really liked this one as it was so smooth and creamy - I assume that the secret is lots of butter! The duck was on the very rare side (the way I like it), and the skin had a pleasing crunch to it. Combined with some deeply savoury tones from the jus and the forest mushrooms, I really enjoyed this dish.

I felt this tart was probably the least successful dish of the night - the pastry was very sweet, almost like shortbread, and when combined with the sweet caramelised onions, it was closer to a mince pie than a savoury tart. (I, of course, adore mince pies so I actually enjoyed this a lot, but if I had ordered this expecting something savoury, I'd have been disappointed).

SALT AND PEPPER CALAMARI - Fennel, blood orange, pine nut salad with citrus dressing
The coating on the calamari was overly salty for me, but it was fresh and tender, and contrasted well with the refreshing, aniseedy salad.

LAMB CUTLETS - White bean skordalia, baby winter vegetables
I love a juicy, plump lamb cutlet! I'd brought my lovely cousin Catherine with me, and as she doesn't eat red meat, the kitchen kindly organised alternative dishes for her. This also meant that I got to taste even more dishes (yay!), and of course, got even more photos for this post.

ROAST BEETROOT CARPACCIO - Feta, rocket, lemon and thyme dressing
This dish was labelled a 'carpaccio' but just felt like a light, tasty salad - the classic combo of beetroot, feta and rocket.

PEPPER CRUSTED VENISON - Whipped feta puree, broad beans, roast beetroot jus
The venison was my favourite meat dish of the night - I adore rare meat, feta and broad beans, so it was a no brainer, really!
Mmm... rare

The non-red meat alternative for this course was a light and refreshing chicken salad. Perfect for the style-conscious crowd around Chapel Street, perhaps?
MARINATED CHICKEN SALAD - Tofu, wombok, Asian greens, pickled carrots
And you'd think that was enough (more than enough!) food for the evening, but then our waiter announced: "And here are the mains". Oof! 
OSSO BUCO - soft polenta
Big bowls of tender osso buco were placed in the middle of the table, sharing-style, served with polenta and some different vegetable sides (see below). The non-red meat option was a well-executed salmon fillet, sat atop crushed potatoes. I snuck a taste of this one and, just quietly, I liked it better than the osso buco! It's not the most creative or unusual dish out there, but it would make a satisfying and tasty meal.
GRILLED SALMON - crushed potatoes, microherbs
Pick of the sides was definitely the asparagus, with runny soft-boiled eggs and crisp salty-sweet jamon.
ASPARAGUS - Crisp jamon, soft boiled egg, fresh herbs
GRILLED PEAR AND ROCKET - Walnut, blue cheese
BROCCOLI - Smoked almonds, sea salt
Desserts were again served sharing style, and represented a range of options from their dessert menu.
Front row: rhubarb and apple crumble, apple jelly with calvados panna cotta, chocolate brownie squares
Ice-creams: burnt honey ice-cream & apple sorbet
I thought the little "beer glass" dessert was super cute! It's apple jelly, topped with a calvados panna cotta. I'm sure there's a way I could recreate that at home... gonna put my thinking cap on and get working!

Across the table the most popular item seemed to be the dense chocolate marquise...
Chocolate marquise
... whilst I particularly liked the honey ice-cream, the apple mille feuille and the crunchy fried lemon fritters. (I liked something deep-fried, what a shock!)
Apple mille feuille

Hot lemon fritters with cinnamon sugar

The aftermath

We had a very enjoyable night at Spoonbill - whilst the food isn't particularly progressive or challenging, it is generally done well. The menu seems to follow a kind of please-all approach, which makes sense considering that Spoonbill is part of a hotel. The wider menu, for example, also includes of-the-moment sliders, tacos and steamed pork buns, with items like the beetroot carpaccio, chicken salad and grilled salmon available to satisfy the health conscious. I don't necessarily consider this to be a bad thing, especially if the food is done well - it's the type of place to which you could take a wide group of friends or family, and be confident that everyone will find something to enjoy.

Sarah and Catherine dined as guests of The Olsen Hotel.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Silken Tofu with Century Egg

Silken Tofu with Century Egg
This was the lovely tofu dish I made for our Chinese lunch party. It is so very good, and incredibly simple to make. As I previously mentioned, it is literally just a block of cold silken tofu, topped with shallots, some different seasonings (soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, black vinegar), a chopped up century egg and some coriander. They're quite simple ingredients, but they pack a big punch. The soft, bland creaminess of the tofu is the perfect foil for the strong flavours. Because there's no cooking involved, and very little prep work, I thought it was an easy way to add another dish to an already crowded menu - no last minute steaming or stir-frying involved with this one!

I'd had this dish for the first time at Spice Temple the week before, and I remember being impressed by the creamy texture of the tofu and the intensely flavoured sauce.
Spice Temple's Silken tofu and preserved egg salad with soy chilli dressing - $18
After we got home, I started researching (i.e. googling) the recipe, and realised it was both very popular for home cooks, and much simpler than it looks - all the complex flavours of the sauce really just come from getting a few different bottled sauces and stirring them together. (Given Neil Perry's reputation I'm almost certain the restaurant sources artisan products, but at home I'm more than happy with store-bought sauces).

The next day I went out and picked up two packets of silken tofu, and funnily enough, later that week in the Epicure, there was a Jill Dupleix feature on tofu recipes! Her "silken tofu with soy beans and chilli" looked especially tempting, and I made it for a mid-week dinner. It was so tasty and healthy, even more so because I had it with brown rice. (Recipe available here).
Silken tofu with soy beans and chilli
I struggled to get the tofu out in one piece, so I broke it up artfully (heh) with a spoon. Even though Jill Dupleix called it "silken tofu with soy beans and chilli", with its soy sauce, soy beans and soy bean curd, I tend to think of this dish as "Symphony of Soy". It takes a bit more work than the century egg tofu, as you have to cook the sauce and steam the tofu in this dish. Whilst it was great, I actually like the cold tofu better - it seems to lose its creamy texture when you steam it, and becomes more jelly-like.

So, back to the original dish. Here is the tofu - out in one piece, wahoo! My suggestion for getting it out safely is to simply peel back the wrapper and invert it onto a plate, giving it a little shake if necessary. Don't bother trying to use a knife to loosen the tofu from the sides of the packet, as you'll probably just end up cutting the delicate tofu and breaking it up. (Or that's what happens to me, anyway).
I used a mandoline to finely slice the shallots - as you're eating them raw, you want them cut as fine as you can possibly manage.
Sliced shallots

Having said that though, steeping them in the sauce mixture (see recipe below) does soften them and mellows the acridness. You don't really need to leave it for that long - a few hours is ideal, but just letting them sit while you prepare the rest of your meal will be fine.
Shallots in sauce
Now we get to the exciting part: the century egg! I'd never cooked with century egg before, so I was pretty interested to see what it was like. The one I bought was covered in a hay-like substance. (Not sure if that's still necessary given modern production methods, or if it was just for presentation - you can also buy century eggs without any coating on them).
Century egg
I used my thumb to break off the coating, and rinsed it in water to get rid of as much of the residue as I could.
Shell of century egg
You have to peel it very, very gently - it's much more delicate than a hardboiled egg! You'll see mine broke a little as I was a bit enthusiastic with it - oops.
Peeled century egg
This is what they look like in the middle. I was surprised by how liquid the yolks were - when I've had them at restaurants they tend to be more solid. They tasted right, though!

And that's it, really. Just chop up the eggs, and place them on the tofu with the shallots and sauce, finishing with some chopped coriander. It's an easy way to add another dish to your meal, or as a meal in itself with some rice if you don't want to do a lot of cooking. But don't just make it because it's easy - make it because it is very, very good.

Silken Tofu with Century Egg
My version of a classic Chinese recipe, adapted from TasteHongKong

1 shallot
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp black Chinkiang vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 x 200g pack silken tofu
1 century egg
Small bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Peel and very finely slice the shallot (a mandoline will make this easier). Place in a small bowl. Add the sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce and sugar and stir to combine. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate while you get on with the rest of your meal (3-4 hours is ideal, but don't worry if you can only give it 20 minutes or so, it will still be good).
Unwrap the tofu, drain off any excess water and carefully invert onto a serving plate. If you can get it out in one piece - YAY! If it happens to break, then gently break it up with a spoon to make it look pretty.
Peel and roughly chop the century egg and scatter it over the tofu. Pour over the sliced shallot with its sauce. Sprinkle with fresh coriander to serve.
Serves 2-6, depending on what else you're eating with it

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


So now we come to the final post from our Sydney 2012 trip: Dinner at Tetsuya's!

529 Kent Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9267-2900

We have a tradition with our friend An, where we shout each other dinner for our birthdays each year. (Last year he took us to Vue De Monde, and we took him to Embrasse). And this year, he decided on Tetsuya's. Wow! I know, we're super lucky! An's a very organised guy - it was at the start of the year that we said: "Hey, want to come to Sydney for a weekend in August?", and in less than a day he'd organised his flights, our hotel and the dinner booking. Wow! He says his love of fine dining started when I suggested we go to Rockpool Sydney back in 2005... looks like I've been a good (or bad) influence on him over the years!

The ambience was very old school - the type of place I imagine my dad would have frequented on his corporate card back in the eighties. The restaurant is on two levels, separated into many rooms, with the tables widely spaced apart, and carpeted floors! (I can't think of any new restaurants with carpet). Our table, on the second floor, overlooked a little Japanese garden - very House of Blue Leaves! The effect was one of privacy and intimacy, without feeling cold or isolated. The service was fantastic too, with all staff members coming across as completely capable, but also very warm and friendly. Love!

We did the full ten-course degustation (which I'm pretty sure is the only option). I obviously didn't quiz An about the cost on the evening (how ungracious would that have been!), but afterwards I looked it up to provide some context for this blog post - it's $210 per person, with wine progression starting at $95. I wasn't in the mood for a big night, so asked the sommelier to recommend two glasses of wine for the evening - he suggested a white to go with the seafood courses, and a red for the meat courses. Unfortunately I can't remember the names (or even varietals!) of the wines, but they complimented the meals perfectly, and I was happy to leave my wine choices in his capable hands!

I must admit I was a little worried about how Sandra, our non-seafood eater, would fare at Tetsuya's, but I needn't have been apprehensive. We informed them about the dietary requirements way in advance, and the chefs did a mixture of amazing vegetarian and meat dishes for her. They looked stunning and, I'm told, tasted beautiful. It certainly wasn't a lesser version of the normal degustation, and there were quite a few courses where I had serious dish-envy!

Ok, so given that this was such a long meal - seven savoury courses, two dessert courses, plus amuses bouches and petits fours, I'm gonna stop with the full sentences now and let the pictures and captions do all the talking. Rest assured, everything was delicious, made of incredibly high quality ingredients, and beautifully put together. I literally said "Wow!" and "Oh yum yum yum!" at each and every course. Enjoy!
Warm bread rolls

Tetsuya's truffle butter with parmesan cheese
The butter was so addictive!


 Amuse Bouche
Warm soup of celeriac & truffle

First Course
Savoury Custard with Avruga

This chawan mushi such an intense dashi flavour, and a gorgeous, extremely softly set texture.

Non-Seafood Option
Savoury Custard with Shiitake Mushroom

Second Course
Salad of the Sea

Non-Seafood Option
Pan-Fried New Globe Artichoke & Jerusalem Artichoke with Date Jam

Third Course
New Zealand Scampi with Chicken Liver Parfait & Walnut Vinaigrette

Non-Seafood Option
Coddled Hen's Egg with Puffed Wild Rice & comté

Fourth Course
Confit of Petuna Ocean Trout with Fennel Unpasteurised Ocean Trout Caviar

One of Tetsuya's signature dishes - the trout was amazingly creamy and tender. Total bliss!

Non-Seafood Option
Roasted Pumpkin with Pepper Berry & Puffed Grains

Fifth Course
Steamed Tian of Queensland CEAS Spanner Crab with Curd, Foie Gras, Junsai

Non-Seafood Option
Roasted Breast of Quail with Jamón Ibérico

Sixth Course
Roasted Breast of Duck with Eggplant & Almond

Seventh Course
Seared Fillet of Grass-fed Cape Grim Beef with Wasabi & Braised Mustard Seeds

Eighth Course
Pear Sorbet, Apple Tarte Tatin
We were instructed to go from left to right for this dessert, starting with the refreshing pear sorbet, and moving onto the deconstructed tarte tatin: crisp pastry shards, sautéed apple and a quenelle of vanilla ice-cream.

For the second dessert course, An was given a floating island, whilst the two birthday girls were given a stunning chocolate fondant.

Ninth Course
Floating Island with Praline & Crème Anglaise

And inside... cute surprise! Chocolate sauce!

... and another surprise of berry sauce!

And for the birthday girls...
Chocolate Fondant with Hazelnut & Praline

Aaah... too pretty! I loved the caramelized hazelnuts, and look at the perfect consistency of that filling!

Short macchiato

Cafe latte

Petits fours - meringues and macarons

Phew, we're finally at the end of the post! The whole evening was delightful - and really that's the only way to describe it. The entire experience, the service, every course, all the little touches were really designed to delight guests and create a truly memorable experience. This is old-school fine dining at its best. I think the price is absolutely worth it, (yes, I realise that I didn't pay in this instance), even for our diner for whom half the courses were vegetarian. The three of us had an animated discussion about which degustation was better - Tetsuya's, Vue de Monde or Embrasse - I was firmly in favour of Tetsuya's! Apart from my loving each and every individual course, I was particularly impressed that the meal as a whole was designed so thoughtfully and cohesively that we didn't get uncomfortably full - and this was what gave it the edge for me.

I absolutely loved Tetsuya's, and can't wait to come back in future for more celebratory dinners!

This is the fifth and final post in my 2012 Sydney Trip series. Other posts are: The Sydney Weekend!; The Bar at Momofuku Seiobo; Adriano Zumbo at The Star; Flour & Stone, Woolloomooloo; and White Hart, Neutral Bay.

Tetsuya's on Urbanspoon