Thursday, December 4, 2008

Longrain: Our Food Adventure Continues

The last time we were in Melbourne was 2 years ago, & Roger took us to a very nice restaurant with a very posh interior called Cookies which served very good fusion food.

Well, this particular restaurant reminded me of Cookies on Swanston St.
I know, I know. We have a rule about not eating food which do not originate from the country that we're visiting. However, Melbourne was an exceptional case because of its well known food culture from diverse backgrounds. Really, if you think about it, there's no such thing as Melbourne food. Before all those Italian, Greek & Asian immigrants came ashore, Australia only had plain, bland & boring English meals.

Probably for some people, fusion means neither here nor there. But if the chefs know how to do it creatively with the right combination, it's posssible to take the best of both worlds and came out with interesting dishes that are not only flavourful but tantalising the palates with many textures and flavours. So, it is possible to like fusion food.

NEE: Longrain ~ uhhh.... I don't quite know whether it was Long Grain or Long Rain but it was place that managed to wow us. Normally we try to be as tactful and objective as we can when we sample food at restaurants because we believe the cooks and chefs have worked hard enough. And if we don't like it, that does not mean someone else would not appreciate it. But with Longrain no tact is needed. It is damn good. In fact, it was damn bloody good, especially for those who like fusion.

The place is dressed up elegantly with nice wooden tables and pretty candlelights. Waiters were always there, ready to serve from a distance & pleasant. The guy who served us looked like a surfer dude.
And the place is spacious. They have a bar serving drinks too if you are up to just looking for one after a hard day at work.
The food here can make you sigh, or at least it made us do that. We ordered three dishes to share.

Eggnet with beansprout and peanuts. Absolutely refreshing!

The dressings which has a little fish sauce, lime and chilli just take away any taste of oiliness.

Caramelized pork hock.

This has got to be the most tender pork hock we have had. The exterior was nicely crispy without the oiliness and sweet sauce is drizzled over the meat on our own. Pickled chillis and cucumber in vinegar can be drizzled on if you want the additional flavour. Perfect!

Braised veal. So elegantly cut that it is melting soft yet still intact.

Rice is served separately at AUD 3 per person. This is not exactly your cheap, value for money place but this would be our come back again place in April 2009. We are still salivating as we write this.

By the way, we didn't order this but it was sent to our table by mistake.

I don't really know what Roger was thinking of in this picture.

But I think he's wondering if he could order a fusion wife.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Peking Duck at Old Kingdom

Everytime we come back to Melbourne, we have to have Peking Duck at this place called Old Kingdom in Fitzroy.

Hmmm, I know, the name Old Kingdom sounds a bit tragic but the duck is actually superb!

This was how the interior looks like. A bit basic with minimal decor, like the typical Chinaman kinda business. If you've got a table, chair & plates, & good food, then you're ready to do business.
This picture here of Roger ordering food reminds me of the Hong Kong movie Chicken & Duck Talk. Roger's pointing 3 with his fingers while the waiter is holding up 2 fingers. I think he needs new glasses.
The thing that I always enjoy here is the show that the waiters put on. They'd slice the duck meat with supersonic speed, & as they're doing that, they'll be talking & jesting with you.

What a show off.
Heheh. But seriously, it's quite entertaining.

The duck usually comes with the pancake wrap, cucumber & spring onion slices. Then the duck bones are cooked into soup with salty vegie and rest of the not so tender meat will be stir fry with bean sprouts. They are all in the one course, which can prob feed three to four nicely.

Ok, here's how you do it. STEP 1: Put slices of the duck, the cucumber & spring onion slices onto the pancake wrap.

STEP 2: Drizzle their sauce over it. Fold two sides inside onto each other.

STEP 3: Fold the top over the rest.

This is a very satisfied me trying to look very sophisticated, but ended up looking very ngiau.

A face like this is just waiting to be slapped.

This is Nee doing an impression of a Peking Duck.

I think this restaurant is only good for it's duck really. The pancake is really soft and thin while the duck slice is soooooo crispy on the skin that it crackles as we bite into it. The rest of the stuff that we ordered could have just come from any Batu Lintang restaurants in Kuching.

But you'd have to agree that the colour on this mix vegie is simply fantastic.

The stir fry bean sprout with duck meat.

I didn't really like the duck soup. In fact I didn't even touch it at all, cos I didn't want to overrride the excellent Peking Duck after taste which was still in my mouth. Nee and Roger liked it though. Nee: It felt very much like pushing the heat down kind of taste. Refreshing I supposed.

So verdict is Old Kingdom is an excellent place for Peking Duck, but for Peking Duck only. Then again we hardly ever try any other types of dishes besides this one.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Chocolate Kungfu in Melbourne

On Sunday, Greg stayed at home blogging like a good boy. Meanwhile, I journeyed up the perilous mountain of mystical mist to seek the wise & skillful Master Chocolatier of Melbourne.

And after 7 hours of physical & mental torture & ridicule, I survived the skillful art of le Chocolat & came out with these creations. And we took home what we made.

Truffle balls with chocolate and vanilla ganache pumped into truffle shells, then hand rolled in dard and milk choc. Greg walloped down 5 pieces of these as soon as it was opened & he chocked because they don't just melt in your mouth, they melt in your throat too.

Roger was just as swift. When it got to him, he reduced the whole bunch by half.

This is a Bavarian Cream and Chocolate Charlotte Entremet. Why the use of this super-sophisticated term Entremet? Because, ... any Mary, Jane & Lulu housewives can now make gateux already & so the baking schools are pushing for a newer, higher & unreachable standard, to set themselves further ahead.

Entrement does sound more sophisticated and normally you would have at least two types of mousses. I had fun with the compressor that sprayed chocolate mixed with cocoa butter on top (see the beautiful mahagony on top). If I were to do this at home, I'd probably have to take it to the car mechanics to do the spraying :) But seriously, it is so good. Greg loves it. Well, who would not with Callebaut 66% Madagascar Dark.

The picture above is a tart. Rich shortcrust with almond filled with velvety berries jam (yeap we had to make the jam too) lined and topped with dacquoise. I loved it. Don't you think this will make a good Christmas centre piece? It's just that in Malaysia, the icing sugar will probably sweat after coming out from fridge.

Astralia is a bakers' heaven. All ingredients are so fresh and pure. Sigh! I think they are doing a whole class of chocolate, praline and macaroons in April. I will be back!

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