Sunday, November 16, 2008

australia eats. aussie breakfasts

I woke up this morning craving for a big breakfast. Actually, I was thinking of more of a big Aussie breakfast.

I always find the continental breakfast selections in SG a little limited. It could be that I don't get out enough for breakfasts since I'm always either at work during the weekdays or I'm spending weekend family time having hawker favourites. In SG, I find PS Café to be reminiscent of the Aussie breakfasts but still it doesn't hit the exact spot. These pics will show you just exactly what I'm talking about.

Top left: The Full Monty
Top right: Pesto Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon & Avocado
Bottom left: Pea & Bacon Soup with Ham & Cheese Toasties
Bottom right: French Toast with Bananas and Bacon

Melbourne's streets are filled with cafés and it's not difficult to find a good one. Al fresco dining helps too cos I can always take peeks at what people are eating. We had this breakfast at one of the more crowded cafés around the St. Kilda's Beach area, of which the name I cannot remember. Nonetheless, the food was excellent. Just what I needed to jumpstart my day at that time as it was quite cold that morning.

The Full Monty (also known as the big breakfast) had all the works but it was usual fare. I thought the Pesto Scrambled Eggs was an interesting idea cos pesto conventionally is used with pasta. The combination of the smoked salmon and fresh avocado really worked well together too. The other interesting thing we ordered was the French Toast with Bananas and Bacon. It was for me; the one who couldn't decide between savoury or sweet. It was really good too. Who knew that bacon, bananas and maple syrup could pair up so nicely? I thought however, that the winner here was the Pea and Bacon Soup. From the first day I arrived in Melbourne, I had been craving for some of that thick creamy soup to warm myself up. I found the exact antidote for my craving at morning. I could have done with more of the ham and cheese toasties on the side though cos everyone tried to get those from me!

This post is making me hungry. It's past lunch and I'm still thinking about what I could have had this morning. Whatever it is, just don't forget to hit the local cafés to get a taste of the Aussie breakfast if you visit Melbourne or any other parts of Australia. Breakfasts may never be the same again after you've had some.

Friday, November 14, 2008

australia eats. bistro vue

Bistro Vue
430 Little Collins Street - Normandy Chambers
Melbourne Vic 3000
Tel: 613 9691 3838
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday; 11am until late

Before leaving for Melbourne & Sydney, Sis had asked Bro and I to list the places we wanted to go to. I honestly did not contribute much to the list because there were just too many places to visit, too little time. There was one place though that I kept reminding Sis to make a reservation for; Bistro Vue.

Those who know a bit about the Australian food scene would most likely be familiar with Shannon Bennett, the man behind the famous fine dining outlet, Vue de Monde; ranked as the 76th best restaurant in the world and just 1 rank higher than Singapore's finest, Iggy's. It is also 1 of the 3 Australian restaurants and the only restaurant in Melbourne to make it to the list. The 2 others are namely Tetsuya's and Rockpool in Sydney.

We settled on having lunch at Bistro Vue, the more casual sibling of Vue de Monde. Unlike Vue de Monde where the decor is clean, simple and classy, entering Bistro Vue felt like I stepped into a home in the rustic French countryside. It was a small space but yet it didn't feel cramp due to the high ceilings. The service was typically French; a tad snooty but adequate. The lunch crowd leaned towards working professionals. The food served was nothing short of excellent.

For appetizers, we ordered the steak tartare, the french onion soup and the terrine of rabbit to share. My favourite among the 3 was the steak tartare. Instead of grounding the meat like how most places serve steak tartare, Bistro Vue serves theirs with their beef finely diced. I found that this made a big difference in the whole texture of the dish as serving the diced meat gave it more crunch. It was simply addictive.

Steak Tartare

Of the 3, I didn't take much of a fancy towards the french onion soup. As much as I loved the sweet onions, flaky pastry and the gruyère cheese topping, I found the beer in the soup too overpowering. I thought it might be better if they had toned the alcohol down a bit but that's just my personal taste because I have never been big on alcohols.

French Onion Soup flavoured with Beer, topped with Gruyère

When the terrine of rabbit arrived at the table, I was impressed. The colourful layers captured my attention. The first thing we all tried to do was to decipher the different layers. We couldn't. It was tasty and was really nice with the brioche but I couldn't taste the rabbit in it. The pistachio mousse didn't come through as well as it was mostly covered by the taste of the foie gras. It was still enjoyable though.

Terrine of Rabbit with Foie Gras & Pistachio Mousse

While the appetisers were delicious, it was really the entrees that really shined. The only entree that didn't really bode well was the Barramundi Bourguignon. The fish was smothered with the overpowering red wine sauce covering the whole flavour of the fish itself. I thought that was its downfall. Dad's order of the Chargrilled Wagyu Rump was good choice but was far from being adventurous.

Barramundi Bourguignon

Chargrilled 250gm Grain Fed Wagyu Rump Cap

The Gratin of Pork with Three Cheese Crust was an excellent choice. The pork was so tender that the meat started falling apart the moment we dug our fork into it. It was very well marinated and moist as well. The three cheese crust gave the roast pork a nice lift to its taste. Bro's order of the Pied de Cochon, also known as Pig Trotters, was the special of the day. To be honest, it looked rather intimidating when it first arrived at the table. Again, the meat which was cooked with red wine was tender and falling off the bone. There was also chicken mousse stuffed right in the centre of the pig's trotters which I found to be delicious and rather special.

Gratin of Pork with Three Cheese Crust, Glazed Beetroots

Pied de Cochon

The Shellfish Risotto which D ordered was one of the best risottos I've ever tasted. It was rich with seafood flavours. In fact, it tasted almost like risotto cooked in lobster bisque. D found his dish to be extremely appetising. I seconded that as I found myself reaching across the table to steal spoonfuls of risotto from his plate.

Shellfish Risotto, Orange Reduction

My order of the Lamb Wellington reminded me of Hell's Kitchen. Gordon Ramsay always gave grief to the contestants on the cooking of beef wellingtons. They were often overcooked or undercooked. Chef Ramsay would have been a happy camper if he had the chef of Bistro Vue on his show because the lamb wellington was cooked to a perfect pink. The only gripe here would have been that the portion was simply too small! The red pepper on the side was stuffed with lentils which had been cooked with some indian spices. It was especially good when eaten together with the lamb.

Lamb Wellington Provençal

We were very full at the end of our entrees but couldn't leave knowing that we didn't try out their desserts. We ordered 2 in the end; the Chestnut Parfait and the Crème Brûlée. The crème brûlée was smooth and creamy, the way it should be. Not surprisingly, I loved the chestnut mousse sandwiched between the honeycomb wafers as I've always had a penchant for chestnuts. All in all, both were the perfect ending to a satisfying meal.

Chestnut Parfait with Walnuts & Honey

Crème Brûlée

If I was asked whether I'd return to Bistro Vue again, I'd raise both arms into the air and nod my head violently. In fact, I've recommended this place to 2 friends who had since visited Melbourne after me. After my visit to Bistro Vue and having had such wonderful food, I'm really curious about how good or how much better is the food at Vue de Monde.

If you're dying to try a bit of Vue de Monde after reading this, pop down to the National Museum. From the last I read, it's supposed to be rebranded and renamed as Vue by Shannon Bennett. Bennett will be the consultant chef there and apparently one of his main chefs from Melbourne will be flown in to helm the kitchen here. If Bistro Vue's food is anything to go by, I'd say that we are going to have winner on our local shores real soon.

Monday, November 10, 2008

class number one.

I had loads of fun at class yesterday. Whipped up 2 dishes after picking up some basic knife skills.

Left: Prawn & Vegetables Broth with Saffron
Right: Pan-fried Chicken with Sauteed Potatoes & Vegetables

I can't wait for Saturday to come.

back on the table.

After so many failed attempts... Mum finally managed to get the family's favourite early this morning from the Chinatown market.

Welcome back. We missed you.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

shin yeh . the new kid on the block

Shin Yeh Restaurant
177 River Valley Road
#02-19 Liang Court Shopping Center
Tel: 65 6338 7337

It's always nice to see some place new and fresh in the food industry.

Shin Yeh, a joint venture between Singapore's very own Tung Lok Group and Taipei-based Shin Yeh which opened its doors earlier this month specialises in Taiwanese cuisine. I personally find Shin Yeh a welcomed addition to the Singapore food scene because I doubt that many are familiar with Taiwanese cuisine due to a lack of local presence.

I thought the food was pretty delicious. They have a rather extensive menu, ranging from the expensive delicacies such as shark's fin to "dressed-up" street food such as popiah. We opted to try mostly the house specialities that night. The steamed pork with salted egg yolk and the roasted mullet roe really stood out for me. The salt from both dishes really went well with a bowl of sweet potato porridge. The oyster omelette sans starch was rather commendable as well.

Shin Yeh will be starting their supper service pretty soon. For those who enjoy having the Taiwanese porridge late night buffet at some hotels will find that they have a new alternative dining place to feed their tummies. I expect to see quite a number of Taiwanese dining there since there aren't many Taiwanese restaurants in town (none of the same standard I believe). Whether the dishes are authentic or not, I have no idea. I just know that I'd be back to sample more of Shin Yeh's best very soon.