Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Modern Tea

Imagine a corner cafe with expansive windows framing a not terrifically busy street. Swaths of colored glass are draped across the windows, and casual tables perch invitingly so one can lounge and take in the scene. It's been an exhausting stretch, and rather than fuss with rush hour traffic as I continued on my merry schedule, I wandered towards Modern Tea in Hayes Valley for some needed sustenance and meditation. I got both.

Although I enjoyed the quinoa chowder and variation on coleslaw featuring hijiki, it was the tea and dessert that really got my attention. I was charmed when the waiter asked if I wanted to see the baked goods menu after my supper. I nearly swooned when three slices of bundt cake and a hearty spoonful of whipped cream and strawberries appeared at my table. The cake was a simple butter cake. Neither dense nor heavy, it featured the most delectable citrus glaze whose sugary crackle was a lovely contrast to the cake's melting qualities, and surprisingly, it wasn't insanely sweet. The entire effect was refreshing. But since the cream was homemade and vanilla flavored too, I turned the refreshing into decadent and scooped up the whole mess in bites that made the dessert disappear all to rapidly. I only stopped for sips of tea. Their Nepal selection was Darjeeling-like, with a slight flowery note that was tempered by a bit of smokiness. Better yet, they brewed the tea in a pot and removed the leaves before bring the tea to table. The result - cup after cup of a perfect brew.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Laloo Froyo

Say that three times fast. And try not to giggle.

This product is a winner. Of what, who knows, but I would definitively buy it again. Laloo's specializes in goat's milk ice cream. I tried the raspberry frozen yogurt and it's quite delightful. Natural raspberry flavor, not overly sweet, nice texture. Even the color is pretty. There's only a hint of gaminess detectable that comes with using goat's milk. In fact, I'll probably branch out to other flavors and products in their line.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Happiness,,, when someone unexpectedly bakes you cookies.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Chocolate & Twigs

Cracked open another Vosges special. Pandan Leaf & Belgian Dark Chocolate. It's growing on me, but my first bite really did make me think of twigs. Now that I'm into my ninth spoonful, the hint of twig becomes more faint and instead I'm enjoying smooth chocolate (though not particularly dark) with a nutty finish. Not bad.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Something Odd

I've had three pints of ice cream sitting in the freezer, unopened, for nearly three weeks. How they remained unopened, I have no idea. Amnesia perhaps. I finally tried the Vosages wattleseed ice cream with macadamias. The base is sweet cream vanilla, with an emphasis on sweet. I failed to detect the wattleseed, possibly because of the extreme sweetness of the concoction. The macadamias were tasty, but not enough to save the product. I would not buy this product again. But ice cream is ice cream. Tomorrow: another pint.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Still Don't Get It

I'm the only person I've met who isn't wildly, passionately, crazily in love with Beard Papa's. It was with enormously high expectations that I visited my first shop in New York on Carmine Street two years ago. Only two doors down my my favorite pizza place, I was expecting greatness and instead found, well, just a pastry. I ordered the original vanilla cream puff and quite enjoyed watching it come into being. However, it didn't meet my expectations, and I immediately realized why. I concluded that my very specific image of a cream puff was different than the Beard Papa's version, and for that, I penalized what was a nice pastry, but in my mind, distinctly not a cream puff. While the vanilla cream was commendable since it was rich and flavorful, I found it out of place in the world of cream puffs, in which I expect freshly whipped cream. The vanilla cream struck me as more of an eclair filing (which must be ovals and not circles). And the shell itself was too crispy. I missed the chewiness of a traditional choux pastry.

Two years later, after listening to many more people swoon over Beard Papa's, and overcome by hunger today just steps from another shop, I gave the vanilla cream puff another go. My opinion, formed two years ago, still stands. Nice pastry, not a cream puff.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Downside of Coffee

I spilled coffee all over myself on my way to a networking event.

Drinking coffee: good
Wearing coffee: disastrous

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Five courses, two and a half hours. My last dinner in Sydney was delightful. I dined at Rockpool, Neil Perry's flagship restaurant situated in the historic Rocks district. The history ends there. Walk into the unassuming glass-fronted restaurant and immediately you're spilled onto the catwalk. Waiters carry plate upon plate of food onto plush blue carpeting flanked by a modern take on spotlights

The restaurant was a delight, though the meal hardly light. Courses were generous. And there were five of them.

Four Tastes of The Sea
Yellow fin tuna served sashimi style with ginger and sea salt.
Something something kingfish (apparently I was too busy eating to remember), also served sashimi style, but with a tom yum goong gelee on top. I liked the fish, through the gelee was a bit overpowering.
Scallop garnished with with green papaya in a soy dressing and pomelo granules. The scallops were heavenly - midsized, tender and fresh, though the soy dressing was a bit heavy.
Cerviche of scampi with a cucumber thai dressing. It was sort of rubbery like calamari, and least impressive to me

Black Truffle BLT
One of my favorite dishes, and quite surprising considering my usual bias against truffles. The BLT consisted of two thin slices of buttered toast with shaved slices of Western Australian truffles sandwiched in between. There was thin American-style bacon (rare in Australia) served very crispy on a bed of mushroom puree dotted with more (sauteed eleni, field, and morel) mushrooms. Delicious.

Twice Cooked Murray Cod with Caponata - Olive Tapenade and Black Olive Oil
The waiter explained the fish was cooked while vacuum sealed (yay for sous vide!), so of course I had to order it. Very nicely done. They crisped up the skin hence the twice-cooked bit. I didn't think the tapenade, truffle oil and garam masala would go together, but they did. Fish was tender and served on a bed of diced eggplant and pine nuts as best as I could tell.

Suckling Pig with Sweet Potato, Ginger Puree, Ginger Sauce
This dish did me in. The suckling pig had a crisp skin, but because they didn't remove the layer of fat beneath the skin prior to cooking, there was an overwhelming fatty layer underneath. The gingered sweet potato puree was nice, and there were also candied pear, apple and orange served with a grilled pearl onion on the side. The ginger sauce was a ginger foam that the waiter spooned on top of the pork, which was served on some sort of fried lettuce. I quite enjoyed these two elements. I also thought this was quite a generous dish. And then they brought out separate dishes containing a green salad and a gratin of potato. The additions made for a very large course. The upside is that my small and rather empty table suddenly looked rather full.

Passionfruit Souffle with Passionfruit Cream
I love passionfruit, so I pre-ordered the souffle and wasn't disappointed. Served in a small copper pot, the souffle was fragrant and sweet. The cream was spoon thick. The cream was passionfruit flavored but very tart, and it went well with the dish, cutting the sweetness and really allowing the passionfruit flavor to shine.

Coffee with Sweets
I thought I was done with dinner. I expected perhaps a cookie or some petit fours to end. I laughed when they brought sweets to my table. Two chocolate raspberry truffles, a strawberry macaroon, and cup with 9 homemade passionfruit marshmallows. And if that wasn't enough, another cup was filled with more than a dozen home made salted caramels which were amazing. I couldn't figure out a way to gracefully empty the whole cup of caramels into my bag, so grabbed a few for the road. The caramel and marshmallows I realized they pre-package, so each table gets one. and since I was a party of 1 it just looked (and was) ludicrous.

End meal End story. Rockpool was totally splurgeworthy in Syndey

Monday, August 06, 2007

Grilled Peaches

Pure deliciousness!