Restaurant reviews

Restaurant reviews blog posts

Big Buddha Hong Kong

On our last full day we decided to visit the Big Buddha Hong Kong. I didn’t know much about the Tian Tan Buddha, I just knew it was a must see in Hong Kong.

We woke up to a cloudy day with drizzle. It didn’t look good but we weren’t going to waste the day.

First up breakfast!

A photograph of Breakfast waffle with fruit, jam, condensed milk and a croissant
Breakfast waffle with fruit, jam, condensed milk and a croissant

Getting to the Big Buddha would take a couple of hours so we made an early start. It was good that we did because the fog and mist were getting thicker.

On the way to Causeway Bay MTR station we stopped at a McDonald’s because Miss14 wanted a hash brown.

A photograph of Miss14 with her McDonald's hash brown
Miss14 with her McDonald’s hash brown

We’d become so familiar with the walk to Causeway Bay MTR station and catching the trains it didn’t feel like a long journey at all. From Tung Chung MTR station it was a short walk to the Ngong Ping Cable car terminal. We bought return tickets for the crystal cars so we could see through the bottom of the car.

The cable car ride would be spectacular on a fine day or even a cloudy day, on this Sunday we were enveloped by foggy mist and at times couldn’t see the next car in front of us let alone anything around above or below us. When we got to the Ngong Ping station high up on Lantau Island we couldn’t even see the ground at sea level.

A photograph of the Ngong Ping cable car terminal at Tung Chung station
Ngong Ping cable car terminal at Tung Chung station
A selfie from Ngong Ping cable car
Selfie from Ngong Ping cable car
A photograph At Ngong Ping Station near Tian Tan Buddha
At Ngong Ping Station near Tian Tan Buddha (this required a lot of post process editing in Adobe Lightroom).

There was a whole “Hello Kitty” thing going on up at Ngong Ping with the Ngong Ping 360 company. I don’t understand the Hello Kitty phenomenon. It’s beyond me. That said, I know people who are into it so here is one photograph.

A photograph of a Hello Kitty stand at Ngong Ping Station
Hello Kitty Ngong Ping Station (again lots of post processing editing in Adobe Lightroom).

I felt a touch cold up there 

A photograph of me at Ngong Ping cable car station
Me at Ngong Ping cable car station
Ngong Ping
Ngong Ping and the path to the big buddha

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There are 268 steps to the Tian Tan “Big” Buddha. Fortunately it’s not a continuous climb, while steep there are flat sections every dozen or so steps. The cool misty morning was a good time to do a stair climb.

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At the top the foggy mist was such at seeing the Buddha’s visage was impossible. I had to do a lot of post process editing to get this amount of detail.

A photograph of the Tian Tan Big Buddha in the foggy mist
Tian Tan ‘Big’ Buddha in the foggy mist

At the top there are signs asking visitors to refrain from photography. Inside the buddha is a lot of information material on the construction and history of the statue itself. Nearby is the Po Lin monastery and a temple of gold buddhas which is beautiful.

After visiting the Big Buddha and monastery we spent some time in the Ngong Ping village looking around the shops.

Feeling hungry we decided rather than eating the monks’ vegetarian delights we’d head into Tung Chung and try some more food at the Food Republic.

Miss20 and I had a Japanese inspired rice omelet with pork chop and scallops.

Rice omelet with crumbed pork chop and scallops
Rice omelet with crumbed pork chop and scallops

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Ms18 had mentioned a few days earlier that she would like to visit the Dragon Garden in Sham Tseng which was a bus ride away from Tung Chung.

When we arrived at the front gate we discovered it was closed. On further inquiry the garden is only open one day a month. Ms18 was quite annoyed.

A photograph of Ms18 at Dragon Garden gate
Ms18 at Dragon Garden gate

So what to do when there are no gardens with dragons to walk around? More shopping of course!

We went to Mong Kok and spent some time in Langham Place.

We also had afternoon tea.

A photograph of a Double chocolate almond croissant
Double chocolate almond croissant
Singing in Mong Kok
Singing in Mong Kok

For dinner we went to a cheap and cheerful place called Eat Together. Like Toby Inn on our first day this place had character. The owner sat at one of the tables when we entered and offered us her table. She sat with another customer. After we received our menus she was at our table again expecting us to have decided what we wanted to eat. This place was where locals ate. We had some of the best fried dumplings there we’d had on the whole holiday.

Eat Together
Eat Together
Eat Together
Eat Together
Deep fried pork
Deep fried pork
Deep fried vegetable and pork and shrimp dumplings
Deep fried vegetable and pork and shrimp dumplings
Deep fried pork neck
Deep fried pork neck

After our meal at Eat Together we went back to langham Place so Ms20 could have some green tea ice cream.

Green tea ice cream
Green tea ice cream

Our plan had been to return to McDonald’s near Times Square but when we arrived the ice cream machines were broken. We were disappointed.

While the weather had been less than ideal the day turned out to be quite enjoyable. As a last full day in Hong Kong we were pretty happy.

Have you been to the Tian Tan Big Buddha?

 

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Ocean Park Hong Kong

Ocean Park Hong Kong is a place I’m in two minds about. I loved the rides and I loved learning about the fauna there but that fauna is held captive.

Before we get to Ocean Park Hong Kong we need to show a photograph of my breakfast from the Cosmopolitan Hotel.

A photograph of scrambled eggs and jam on toast
Scrambled eggs and jam on toast

Prior to leaving for Hong Kong, Ms20 had arranged ground transport with Buffalo Tours from our hotel to Ocean Park Hong Kong. After breakfast we waited for our shuttle bus. It was delayed but not too delayed. The guide on the shuttle bus was very good at explaining what we should see and do when we got to Ocean Park. He was also very careful to explain our pick up point and pick up time.

A photograph of The Grand Aquarium Ocean Park Hong Kong
The Grand Aquarium Ocean Park
A photograph of The cable car at Ocean Park Hong Kong
The cable car at Ocean Park Hong Kong
Closer photograph of the Ocean Park cable cars
Ocean Park cable car
A photograph of Inside an Ocean Park cable car
Inside an Ocean Park cable car
A photograph of Ocean Park from a cable car
Ocean Park from a cable car
A photograph of Deep Water Bay Hong Kong after a lot of post processing in Adobe Lightroom. The haze was very severe.
Deep Water Bay Hong Kong after a lot of post processing in Adobe Lightroom. The haze was very severe.

It’s said Deep Water Bay is the wealthiest neighbourhood in the world.

A photograph of The Hair Raiser Roller Coaster at Ocean Park Hong Kong
The Hair Raiser Roller Coaster at Ocean Park Hong Kong

The Hair Raiser was the best ride we experienced in Hong Kong.
I found this YouTube video which shows just how much fun it is.

Best ride in Hong Kong.

A photograph of Miss14, Ms18 and Ms20 with Deep Water Bay in the background
Miss14, Ms18 and Ms20 with Deep Water Bay in the background
A photograph of my daughters in front of multiple Christmas trees.
All the Christmas trees
Colourful plastic vegetables and fruit
Colourful plastic vegetables and fruit
Colourful plastic vegetables
Colourful plastic vegetables
A photograph of Miss14, Ms18 and Ms20 with a Giant Panda
Miss14, Ms18 and Ms20 with a Giant Panda
A photograph of a Giant Panda doing what giant pandas do best
Giant Panda doing what giant pandas do best

There are four giant pandas held captive in Ocean Park Hong Kong. Two are kept in the open and the other two in a closed in enclosure.

A photograph of Miss14, Ms18 and Ms20 with a giant panda in the background
Miss14, Ms18 and Ms20 with a giant panda in the background
A photograph of A panda eating. I couldn't get a decent shot of its head.
A panda eating. I couldn’t get a decent shot of its head.
A photograph of Giant panda faeces. It looks like a tangle of bamboo shoots.
Giant panda faeces. It looks like a tangle of bamboo shoots.

After the cable car ride and visiting the Giant panda and panda exhibit we went back to the area of the rides. We went on two roller coasters which were great. As good as any roller coaster ride I’ve had in Australia and as good as Space Mountain at Hong Kong Disneyland.

After the rides we went for lunch. We thought we’d try the Terrace cafe. It looked nice but the maître d’ was incompetent beyond imagination. we walked away after 20 minutes of waiting and being ignored while others (who could speak Cantonese) pushed through and got tables.

We ended up in the cheap and cheerful eatery. I had roast duck and pork with rice.

A photograph of Roast pork and duck with rice from Ocean Park Hong Kong
Roast pork and duck with rice

After lunch we went to the arctic and antarctic exhibitions.

In the arctic exhibit there were seals and a couple of walruses. The walruses were huge.

A photograph of a Sea lion
Sea lion
A photograph of a Sea lion
Sea lion
A photograph of a walrus
Walrus
A photograph of a walrus
This walrus has very ugly mouth parts
A photograph of a walrus
This walrus has very ugly mouth parts
A photograph of Penguins in the Antarctic exhibit
Penguins in the Antarctic exhibit

After the arctic and antarctic exhibits we went to the dolphin show. I shot about a hundred photographs but when I looked through them all I saw were dolphins held in captivity. Ocean Park Hong Kong makes a strong point about conservation, animal welfare, protecting marine ecological systems and zöological research. I still feel uneasy about these animals being trained for entertainment.

A photograph of A dolphin leaping high
A dolphin leaping high
Parakeet
Parakeet

In the south American rain forest area there were some Capybara. These rodents are huge.

A photograph of a Capybara
Capybara
A photograph of Miss14 and a Capybara replica
Miss14 and a Capybara replica
A photograph of Ms20 and a Capybara replica
Ms20 and a Capybara replica
Miss14, Ms18 and Ms20 with tree giant pandas
Miss14, Ms18 and Ms20 with tree giant pandas
A photograph of us saying Farewell Ocean Park Hong Kong
Farewell Ocean Park Hong Kong

It was an enjoyable day at Ocean Park save for the lunch episode at the Terrace Cafe.

After we left we went to Times Square in Causeway Bay and enjoyed dinner, albeit an expensive dinner at Greenhouse.

I had Singapore noodles with lobster and bacon.

A photograph of a plate of Singapore noodles with lobster and bacon from Greenhouse
Singapore noodles with lobster and bacon

After such an expensive main course we went to McDonalds for dessert

A photograph of a McDonalds Strawberry Sundae
Strawberry Sundae

And so ended Saturday in Hong Kong. It was a good one.

Have you ever been to Ocean Park Hong Kong?

New Year’s Day 2016 in Hong Kong

After a late evening out watching the new year’s eve festivities we slept in a little on new years day. We didn’t get back to the Cosmopolitan Hotel until about 1.30 am and we weren’t ready for bed and sleep until about 2 am. Of course I was awake at 6 am because I don’t really sleep in but the girls were out until about 8 am.

We took our time about getting breakfast. When I got there I was hungry so I went with the abominable breakfast, i.e., scrambled eggs and baked beans on toast covered in condensed milk and served with a croissant, jam and butter along with dim sum. Have you ever had such a combination? I say fusion cuisine and my daughters said, “That’s disgusting Dad!”

This is my new years day breakfast

This is a photograph of The abominable new years day breakfast with scrambled eggs and baked beans on toast covered in condensed milk and served with a croissant, jam and butter along with dim sum
The abominable breakfast with scrambled eggs and baked beans on toast covered in condensed milk and served with a croissant, jam and butter along with dim sum

After breakfast we went on a bus to a local temple to take a look. The Man Ho Temple is an historic building and monument in Hong Kong.

Man Mo Temple
Man Mo Temple
Man Mo Temple
Man Mo Temple
Man Mo Temple
Man Mo Temple
Man Mo Temple
Man Mo Temple
Man Mo Temple
Man Mo Temple
Man Mo Temple
Man Mo Temple
Man Mo Temple
Man Mo Temple

After looking around the temple we climbed the stairs of Ladder Street to the Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences.

Ladder Street
Ladder Street
Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences closed on new years day
Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences

Unfortunately the museum was closed on New Year’s Day.

We discussed our options and the girls want to travel to Lantau Island to visit the Citygate Outlets shops. These are discount outlet shops near the airport and apparently travellers will check in to the flight and then catch a bus there for last minute bargains.

The girls found this place to be ideal for their needs.

I found the black sesame and vanilla soft serve ice cream at the local McDonalds to be delicious. A lovely new years day treat.

Black sesame and vanilla soft serve from McDonalds. New years day treat.
Black sesame and vanilla soft serve from McDonalds

After phase one of shopping we went to Food Republic for lunch and had yum cha.

Roast pork and rice
Roast pork and rice
Fried wonton
Fried wonton
Steamed pork bun
Steamed pork bun
Mixed dim sum
Mixed dim sum
Mixed dim sum
Mixed dim sum

After lunch we found a grocery store called Taste. This place was awesome.

Almond Roca
Almond Roca
Yummy Piggy
Yummy Piggy

After an afternoon of shopping we went to Causeway Bay MTR and walked to Time Square and found a place for dinner, viz., Chungs Kitchen.

Apparently when it was Chungs Cuisine it was a pretty good place. We had mixed feelings. The food was good but the service was not so good. The food was served one dish at a time rather than all together and it took nearly 45 minutes from the first to the last dish. That said, this was my first goose and the beans were the best I’ve ever eaten. I also love wood fungus. This wasn’t as good as Mum’s but it took me back.

Half a goose
Half a goose
Scallops and rice
Scallops and rice
Goose head and rice
Goose head and rice
Mixed vegetables with beans and wood fungus
Mixed vegetables with beans and wood fungus. These beans were so crispy.
Pan fried rice vermicelli noodles with scallops
Pan fried rice vermicelli noodles with scallops. I love wood fungus.
Taiyaki with brown sugar and green tea custard
Taiyaki with brown sugar and green tea custard. A great new years day dessert.
Yep we visited Victoria's Secret so many times I became mayor
Yep we visited Victoria’s Secret so many times I became mayor
Miss14 with her Victoria's Secret bags in Victoria's Secret bags
Miss14 with her Victoria’s Secret bags in Victoria’s Secret bags

When we got back to the hotel the girls put all the purchases to date on a bed. It was a huge haul. I remain surprised they fit everything in their bags to bring back to Brisbane.

How did you spend New Year’s Day?

 

Wet market on Chun Yeung Street and new year’s eve in Hong Kong

It’s new year’s eve 2015 and what better way to start the day than visit a wet market. I had explained to Miss14, Ms18 and Ms20 before we embarked on this holiday that while I was happy to spend hours in shopping centres, there would be times when I would need to indulge my own interests.

After a breakfast of toast with scrambled eggs and baked beans combined with dim sum and pickles we were off.

Scrambled eggs and baked beans combined with dim sum and pickles
Scrambled eggs and baked beans combined with dim sum and pickles

We caught the Number 10 bus from outside the Cosmopolitan Hotel and went to Chun Yeung Street where there is a wet market.

Wet markets are my idea of the best part of an overseas holiday. I was very conscious I was with my daughters who do not necessarily share my interest in seeing raw flesh, raw vegetables and live animals being dispatched and butchered fresh for the consumer. One of the things I think we really miss out on with our ‘modern’ approach to food technology and processing is freshness. Sure our modern approach is safe and I’m the first to stand up for food safety and food security, however, there is something to be said for watching a fish monger pull a live fish out of a tank, club it on the head and immediately remove it’s head, bleed it and then fillet it. If I was alone I would have tried to video record the process. I was conscious my daughters wanted to keep on the move.

I’m also fascinated by seeing how produce is presented. I love seeing a pig’s chest pluck hanging up as well as a whole pluck in some cases. Being able to identify organs and see how clean and smell how fresh they are is amazing.

When it comes to vegetables, being able to see how fresh the vegetables are is really good. That’s not to say there wasn’t a good supply of preserved and dried foods. My father would have loved some dried sea scallops. I didn’t want to appear on an episode of Border Security so I refrained, after all I’m also a human quarantine officer.

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I love seeing bamboo scaffolding
I love seeing bamboo scaffolding
Intestines, livers and hearts under a sink wet market
Intestines, livers and hearts under a sink
Fresh fish wet market
Fresh fish
Fried seafood my Dad would love
Fried seafood my Dad would love

I should also mention I had ample opportunity on this holiday to eat shark fin soup. I refrained. My grandmother used to cook me shark fin soup when I was a little boy. I loved it. I will no longer eat it because of the cruelty to sharks being finned alive and then dumped to die in the ocean depths.

Fresh vegetables
Fresh vegetables
More fish
More fish
More meat and offal for grinding wet market
More meat and offal for grinding
Sweet corn
Sweet corn
Shrimp and pork filling for wonton soup
Shrimp and pork filling for wonton soup
Squid wet market
Squid
More fish
More fish
Miss14 and Ms18 outside a fresh meat joint
Miss14 and Ms18 outside a fresh meat joint
Chest pluck from a pig
Chest pluck from a pig
This guy was very funny
This guy was very funny
More sweet corn
More sweet corn
Trotters and intestines
Trotters and intestines
Have a heart
Have a heart

I’m so proud that none of my daughters gagged or objected to what they saw, smelt or heard. The wet market is really a place a food lover should visit. I would have loved to have visited more wet markets but time wasn’t available. Have you ever visited a wet market?

After the wet market we caught a bus back to Causeway Bay MTR station and looked to have lunch at Times Square in Causeway Bay.

Millenium Falcon at Times Square. I still think the NX-01 is a better looking ship but then Star Trek is better than Star Wars.
Millenium Falcon at Times Square. I still think the NX-01 is a better looking ship but then Star Trek is better than Star Wars.

We ended up in Cooked Deli and I went for a laksa.

Indonesian prawn and chicken laksa
Indonesian prawn and chicken laksa

It was a nice laksa but the prawn was well and truly over cooked. The egg wasn’t too bad and the chicken was tender. The soup was delicious.

After lunch we made our way back to Mong Kok to check out Ladies Market and Langham Place again. Miss14 and Ms18 were keen on some bargains there.

Ladies Market
Ladies Market

Miss20 bought us some egg custard tarts.

Miss20 with egg custard tarts
Miss20 with egg custard tarts
Egg custard tarts
Egg custard tarts

These tarts were pretty nice. Not too eggy and they were still warm.

During the afternoon the girls spotted a Sasa. I had no interested and waited outside. I spied these men in comfortable “Dad seats”.

Men in "Dad seats" outside Sasa in Mong Kok
Men in “Dad seats” outside Sasa in Mong Kok

After shopping we had dinner at Chee Kei in Mong Kok. We were keen on something light so I had some deep fried wonton, a crumbed pork chop and some rice.

Deep fried wonton
Deep fried wonton
Crumbed pork chop
Crumbed pork chop
Crumbed pork chop and rice
Crumbed pork chop and rice

After dinner we made our way to the Star Ferry Pier to prepare for the NYE festivities. We got there at about 7 pm and staked out an area.

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New Year’s Eve in Hong Kong at 7.30 pm from Gary Lum on Vimeo.

A big wheel
A big wheel
New year's eve Hong Kong
New year’s eve Hong Kong
Red sailed boat in the harbour on new year's eve Hong Kong
Red sailed boat in the harbour on new year’s eve Hong Kong

As we’ve experienced the people have no sense of personal space nor spatial or situational awareness. People crowded in on us and really had no idea how offensive it was to have such close contact and to ‘trespass’ onto staked out territory. When I say ‘staked out territory’ I mean about 30 cm around each of us. It got to the point closer to the countdown to midnight and I had almost full body contact with strangers.

Close to midnight I started experiencing colicky abdominal pain. As someone with irritable bowel syndrome a sense of urgency developed and I started to look for a rest room. The closest one was quite a walk away. When I got there the only toilet was a squat. My last bowel motion for 2015 will long be remembered for the duration of the event, the discomfort and the quadriceps burn I felt. I’m just grateful the flushing mechanism worked and that I had brought ample hand sanitiser.

Squat toilet
Squat toilet
This is where we celebrated New Year's Eve in Hong Kong
This is where we celebrated New Year’s Eve in Hong Kong

Here is a gallery of the fireworks. These photographs are not processed. I’ve run out of time.

The number of people watching the fireworks was huge. I have no idea how many of thousands of people who were there. It was amazing to see so many thousands of people move to trains and then disperse so quickly at the end.

The best thing was there were very few drunk revellers. The most drunk were English and very few Australians. The local Hong Kong people and other Asians were all sober. As far as I know there were no coward punches and no one punch deaths unlike the situation in Australia and other non-Asian centres.

How did you celebrate new year’s eve? Have you ever been to a wet market? What did you think?

What I ate today

It’s been a while since I wrote a “what I ate today” post. It’s been awhile since I’ve written a post. I’ve been pretty busy with work. I arrived home from Washington, D.C. on Sunday afternoon and on Tuesday evening I was in Melbourne for an all day work appointment on Wednesday.

So before I can today write about today I have to mention last night. I was invited to dinner by friends Peter and Li Peng. Peter is a fabulous cook. Peter is also a dab hand at back yard construction. He’s built himself a pizza oven from scratch. It’s pretty impressive. In winter it’ll warm up a suburb I reckon. For dinner we started with some mouth watering and refreshing nummus and nuts. For a main course we had a delicious pizza and for dessert Peter had made tiramisu. In my mind everything was perfect. The tiramisu was bloody amazing. A perfect combination of cake, cream, and coffee.

So today I started with cold leftover homemade pizza and tiramisu. I justify the tiramisu for breakfast on the basis it had coffee and cream in it.

Breakfast of champions. Leftover Pizza and tiramisu.
Breakfast of champions. Leftover Pizza and tiramisu.

Being Friday I was working in ACT Pathology at The Canberra Hospital and today was our work Christmas lunch.

I forgot to add the prawns, egg based slices, cured meats and all the other salads. I did eat lots of kale and quinoa salad too.
I forgot to add the prawns, egg based slices, cured meats and all the other salads. I did eat lots of kale and quinoa salad too.

I forgot to shoot a photograph of the black forest cake, salted caramel cheesecake and pavlova.

For dinner I rounded out the day with the last of the pizza and tiramisu while drinking Agrum in my LMG glass.

Leftover pizza
Leftover pizza
Leftover tiramisu
Leftover tiramisu

I feel so fat!

In other news Peter and Li Peng made me a Christmas hamper all contained in a colander

Christmas hamper from Peter and Li Peng
Christmas hamper from Peter and Li Peng

On Tuesday night I had fish and chips

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On Wednesday morning I had a hotel breakfast

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The room also had a decent coffee machine. I’m just glad George Clooney wasn’t around.

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On Wednesday night I had chicken Kiev

Chicken Kiev with avocado and kale coleslaw
Chicken Kiev with avocado and kale coleslaw

I’ve been eating well.

What did you eat today?

Baked fried pan grilled jerk chicken wings in buffalo barbecue sauce

Mmm…chicken wings in America are really good.

Photograph of Chicken Wings baked fried and chargrilled jerk seasoned wings tossed in buffalo barbecue sauce

I’m in Washington, D.C. for work at the moment. I was recently chatting with an American friend on Twitter about barbecue food and she mentioned chicken wings. I love chicken wings. As much as I am a ‘thigh man’, chicken wings are fantastic. The meat is always tender and sweet and it’s relatively easy to get the skin to be nice and crispy.

I thought I would take the opportunity while I am in the USA to try some barbecue chicken wings.

I ordered some from the room service menu. They arrived hot and smelled really good.

Unfortunately, the room lighting was poor. I had all the incandescent lamps on and in a dark room the yellow cast was very pronounced.

The wings were good. The skin was crispy, salty and sweet with a little tang. The meat was moist, tender and soft enough to be sucked off the bone. The serving size was also generous. I forgot to add the blue cheese sauce into the photograph. My friend asked if I had some. Indeed I did.

I’d happily eat these again.

I also ate a nice ribeye steak with the bone in last night.

Ribeye steak I’m developing a real liking for Mac and cheese with my main meals 

I went to another place with colleagues and enjoyed a nice pork chop with Brussels sprouts cooked with bacon and a side of Mac and cheese. That was really nice.

I spent a little time at the Capitol building and got to sit in and watch a couple of senators make speeches on national security.

Abraham Lincoln looks sad
Abraham Lincoln looks sad
Geographical centre of Washington, D.C.
Geographical centre of Washington, D.C.

Canberra Food Blogger Christmas Dinner

On Wednesday night Fran the Food Marshall had arranged the Canberra Food Blogger Christmas dinner at the Southern Cross Yacht Club at Yarralumla. The SCYC is on the southwestern bank of Lake Burley Griffin. For readers outside of Australia, LBG is an artificial lake designed along with the rest of Canberra by Walter Burley Griffin. It’s not a magnificent stretch of water by any means and is frequently tested for high levels of cyanobacteria and faecal coliforms. I’m amazed when I see people using the lakes and potentially being exposed to the water.

This was my first time at the Southern Cross Yacht Club. We had a table booked at 7 pm. I arrived at 6.45 pm and found there were cars everywhere, cars were lining the streets and parked on the sidewalks as well as being parked in nondesignated areas. I went into stalking mode and did a few circuits until I saw someone getting ready to leave. She looked at me and proceeded to sit in her late model Mercedes and preened and mucked around in her hand bag and looked around. I kept smiling at her and after 3 and a bit minutes she turned on the ignition and backed out.

Out the back most of the group had already assembled and there were hors d’oeuvres on the table. Nice sized pieces of well seasoned pork belly on potato and sweet potato. Delicious. I got two so I was pretty happy.

We went upstairs and were shown to a long table. I sat next to Kristy who tells Tales of a Confectionist and Erin who dreams of almonds. Opposite was Beck who searches for golden pudding.

It was a great evening with really nice food and fantastic company. There were the odd moments like when Kristy asked to touch my head and she proceeded to stroke my scalp which had a day’s growth. One of the happy happenstances was when Beck said she couldn’t finish her pan seared scallops on black pudding with salmon eggs. I scored a big bonus.

We had agreed on Facebook earlier that we would go with the à la carte menu noting the availability of the lobster double whammy, i.e., lobster bisque and lobster thermidor. The menu items looked so appetising. I was tossing up on whether to go with scallops or oysters for an entrée (that’s a starter for north American readers) and the pork belly or rib eye fillet for the main course. In the end I went with the lobster twin-pack.

I’m glad I didn’t ask for the scallops as an entrée because we got one scallop on black pudding and salmon roe as an amuse bouche.

I really like black pudding. I really like just cooked scallops and I adore salmon roe. This was delicious.

Pan seared scallop on black pudding with #CanberraFoodBlogger #Christmas #Dinner 😃😋

A photo posted by Yummy Lummy | Gary Lum (@yummylummyblog) on

For my entrée I had kept some of the bread and butter because a nice thick bisque needs some dipping bread I reckon. Kristy thought the same. It was funny the three Chinese people at the table all went for the lobster. Alice who is a Girl in a food frenzy also had the lobster and being the smartphone expert in photography and videography that she is, she improved the light with the aid of a white linen napkin being held up by other food bloggers. This is what I love about food bloggers, everyone is interested in bringing out their cameras and shooting the food. Anyway, the bisque had a really nice flavour. It was smooth but not too smooth. It was quite salty and I’d be okay with a little less salt but with enough still water on the table it was all good. My modified lobster bisque with pan seared scallop on black pudding with salmon roe really hit the spot.

The main courses came out after what I thought was a good interval. I didn’t time it but it wasn’t too short and when it arrived I was feeling like eating again.

The lobster was nicely cooked, well seasoned and creamy cheesy. The green vegetables were also nicely cooked, crisp and tasty. The mashed potato though wasn’t a highlight. In some ways with the creamy cheesy lobster, having more creamy potatoes may be seen as too much of a good thing. However, these mashed spuds were a little underwhelming. I think a little more seasoning and maybe some more cream or even sour cream would have made them a great match with the lobster. I shouldn’t complain though, it was a delicious meal.

Lobster Thermidor for #CanberraFoodBlogger #Christmas #Dinner 😃😋

A photo posted by Yummy Lummy | Gary Lum (@yummylummyblog) on

After the main course a few of the party left and so with a smaller crew remaining we set about discussing dessert and the next Canberra Food Blogger get together. I looked through the dessert menu and while everything looked great I was interested in something relatively light and something with a kick. I went with an affogato. This was quite nice. The coffee was nice and strong and the ice cream was generous in serving size and flavour.

#dessert affogato #CanberraFoodBlogger #Christmas #Dinner A photo posted by Yummy Lummy | Gary Lum (@yummylummyblog) on

I really enjoyed the meal at the Southern Cross Yacht Club and I thought the company of my blogging mates was fabulous.

I’m already looking forward to our next get together.


 

I thought I’d also add some photographs from Thursday when my workplace had a Christmas Fête and market. Now, my only objection to the word fête is that when I think fête I know there will be a stall selling vanilla slices. No such luck I’m afraid.

I got to work at 6.45 am and noted a smoky scent to the air. I went to get a coffee from Urban Bean Espresso Bar and noticed they had a rotisserie spit outside with at first I thought (actually hoping) was a pig but was a lamb. Later in the morning I caught up with a mate and the spit had been moved.

It’s a lamb not a pig 🐑🐏🐖 Smells great A photo posted by Yummy Lummy | Gary Lum (@yummylummyblog) on

Mmm… Spit roasting

A video posted by Yummy Lummy | Gary Lum (@yummylummyblog) on

At 12 noon I went to the fête and after visiting a friend who makes crafty cards. I then went in search of vanilla slice but there was none to be found. I ended my excursion outside Urban Bean Espresso Bar where there was a stall selling roast lamb rolls, roast pork rolls and nachos. Being cheeky I asked for half and half and ended up with a half lamb and half pork roll with a big ladle of gravy. The lamb was moist, tender and succulent. The pork was a little dry (I didn’t get fatty bits) but the big piece of crackling I got made up for that. It was tremendous.

 

By the end of the day all I wanted was a light dinner.

What did you think of the Canberra Food Blogger Christmas dinner?

Dream Cuisine Vanilla Slice

Regular readers of Yummy Lummy know of my deep seated love of vanilla slice. Last year I took a driving holiday to Geelong and back and much of that trip focussed on my favourite pastry.This is a photograph of Dream Cuisine Vanilla Slice

Last week twenty Canberra Food Bloggers took a trip to Fyshwick (better known for Australia’s pornography industry, brothels and sex shops) to visit Owen at Dream Cuisine and enjoy his pastries. At the time Owen mentioned that his vanilla slice isn’t a constant feature because they are a little labour intensive and he needs a full complement of staff if he’s going to make them available. He did hint though he may have some ready for this week.

While I was at work yesterday (Friday) I thought I’d give Dream Cuisine a call to see if I should plan a Saturday breakfast in Fyshwick. Owen answered the telephone and said he would get his chefs to prepare some for Saturday. I was stoked.

So this morning I head out to try Owen’s Dream Cuisine vanilla slice. Would it be good? Would it compare with my favourites? Who knows, either way, I knew that the Myrtleford Butter Owen uses and his amazing custard would make me happy. I was pretty confident I’d like Owen’s version because he mentioned caramelised pastry. In my mind that would at least put it into the Gumnut Patisserie league.

So when I arrived there they were in the display case. Four slices of happiness with “Dream” written in icing sugar on the top piece of pastry.

I asked for a flat white coffee and a single slice.

This is a photograph of Dream Cuisine Vanilla Slice

When I checked in using the swarm app I become Mayor of Dream Cuisine 

 

This is a photograph of Dream Cuisine Vanilla Slice, coffee and Bundaberg raw sugar

 

I always like to see Bundaberg sugar at a cafe or restaurant. In my mind it’s the best sugar in Australia and helps me think of my maternal grandparents.

So what did I think of Owen’s Dream Cuisine vanilla slice? As I mentioned on Instagram, it was sensationally dreamy. This is a show piece vanilla slice. There’s no way a Victorian could call this a snot block and if a Victorian did call it a snot block and I was Owen I’d be insulted. Does it meet my expectations for a good vanilla slice? Yes and no. Yes, this is delicious. The caramelised pastry was crisp and sweet and full bodied in flavour. The custard was delicate. It was sweet but not too sweet and it had the right amount of vanilla. All together it was fabulous. But no it’s not my perfect vanilla slice because this is a fancy pastry that tastes really good. For me, my perfect vanilla slice has all this flavour but it also has the right texture and consistency. I want that caramelised pastry to be firm but not soggy and not crisp. I want to be able to bite through it without it fracturing, it needs to break apart. A fork needs to be able to do the same thing. In my perfect vanilla slice the custard won’t squeeze out when pressure is applied to the top and bottom pastry layers either by my teeth or a fork.

I’d highly recommend Dream Cuisine’s vanilla slice to pastry lovers. If you live in Canberra, there’s no excuse, you need to visit Dream Cuisine. It’s not only in Fyshwick. If you’re visiting Canberra, put some time in your diary to make a visit, stay for a coffee and enjoy a treat. The service is great. It’s friendly and you’re served with a smile. They also have good quality containers for takeaway too.

Lake Ginninderra
Lake Ginninderra

I bought my afternoon tea while I was there.

 

This is a photograph of Dream Cuisine Vanilla Slice, lavendar macaron and salted caramel macaron

The lavender and salted caramel macarons are to die for.

Fellow Canberra Food Blogger Tales of a Confectionist also reviewed the vanilla slice

Review Dream Cuisine Patisserie and Cafe

2015-11-14_08.25.00_001_GARY_LUM_FB

Elias (CBRfoodie) and Fran (TheFoodMarshall) as Elias opens the morning
Elias (CBRfoodie) and Fran (TheFoodMarshall) as Elias opens the morning

Even before we knew how successful Eat Drink Blog 6 (2015) would be, Elias Hallaj (CBR Foodie) had spoken with Owen Saddler (owner of Dream Cuisine in Fyshwick) at the Hamlet on the Friday night of the conference and suggested a Canberra Food Blogger get together.

Elias did a stirling job of getting a group of 20 Canberra Food Bloggers together at 8.30 on a Saturday morning. A Saturday morning in November which was only 12.4 °C on a typical late spring morning in Canberra 

Owen gave us a run down on his take on pastry and running a successful patisserie. It was pretty obvious how this engineer cum artisan master of layering buttery layers of pastry loves his job. Passionate doesn’t describe his approach to his craft adequately. Owen explained how he is not a cook nor a chef but more of an experimenter. He also encourages his cooks/chefs to experiment allowing them to make mistakes because, who knows? it could just be the next big thing!

Owen Sadller explaining that he buys and uses 60 kg of Myrtleford Butter Factory butter every week.
Owen Saddler explaining that he buys and uses 60 kg of Myrtleford Butter Factory butter every week.

Owen also shared his love of chocolate and his distaste for the practice of using cheap chocolate in croissants and other layered pastry. Only the best will do.

While we were listening to Owen we were treated to a few varieties of his layered pastries. Each one was delicious. Each one was light. Each one had that buttery creamy yet crisp texture. One thing Owen didn’t say too much about was the custard his makes. The custard in some of the pastries was fantastic.

A share plate of delicious pastries
A share plate of delicious pastries
Dream Cuisine Fyshwick Canberra
Lisa (BakeBikeBlog)

The best part of these blogger get togethers is catching up with friends and meeting people who I only know through social media. I got to meet a whole new group of friends in real life for the first time. It was good to meet Bianca who helped me cut up our sharing plate so we could enjoy a little of each pastry. I also got to meet Lisa (BakeBikeBlog) and Kristy (Tales of a Confectionist) who I’ve known for ages but have never met.

Dream Cuisine Fyshwick Canberra
My first breakfast plate (yes there was a second breakfast plate too)

After we enjoyed some pastries we did a tour of the preparation and kitchen areas. Owen showed us his equipment, much of it is well loved and one piece came from East Germany (which time marks the age of some of the equipment).

We got to see the cold room and drooled over the trays of croissants. Owen also pointed out a large container of Queensland nut (Macadamia sp.) oil which he uses for cronuts.

In the kitchen area I was crestfallen when Owen said he finds Vanilla Slice labour intensive and they are only made when Dream Cuisine is fully staffed. My mood brightened when he said there may be some available next week and they’d be presented with a little twist 

Dream Cuisine Fyshwick Canberra
Owen with 2.5 kg of Myrtleford Butter Factory butter in his preparation area
Dream Cuisine Fyshwick Canberra
A tray of happiness in the kitchen area
We started with a lovely coffee
We started with a lovely coffee

As we left we were given a gift of goodies. Two layered pastries and two macarons. I also bought two sausage rolls.

Sausage rolls from Dream Cuisine. My lunch.
Sausage rolls from Dream Cuisine. My lunch.
Sweet treats from Dream Cuisine including layered pastry and macarons. My afternoon tea.
Sweet treats from Dream Cuisine including layered pastry and macarons. My afternoon tea.

After all that buttery goodness, I needed to walk around Lake Ginninderra. It was good to see a Pelican on the water.

Lake Ginninderra
A bird nest on Lake Ginninderra
Lake Ginninderra
A black and white Lake Ginninderra seems to be a little more dramatic
Lake Ginninderra Pelican
Lake Ginninderra Pelican

I would highly recommend a visit to Dream Cuisine at Fyshwick and its other outlets.

Dream Cuisine Patisserie and Café 9/18 Whyalla Street, Fyshwick. Open Monday to Friday 7 am to 3 pm and Saturday 9 am to 2 pm.

Capital Region Farmers Market Saturday 8 to 11 am

Old Bus Depot Markets Sunday 10 am to 4 pm

Little Dream at The Hamlet, Bradden

Website http://www.dreamcuisine.net.au/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Dream-Cuisine-465771545192/

Twitter https://twitter.com/dream_cuisine

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/dreamcuisinecanberra/

Again thank you Elias and Owen for making today happen.

Do you like pastry? I suppose that may be a stupid question 


Link love

CBR Foodie http://cbrfoodie.org/2015/11/14/review-dream-cuisine-patisserie-and-cafe/

Michele Fineeating https://fineeating.wordpress.com/2015/11/17/dream-cuisine-fyshwick-a-passion-for-pastry/

Rose and Joseph http://www.travelandbeyond.org/2015/11/18/dream-cuisine-patisserie/