Course Meal Delights

Take 2: My Food Bag- Healthy Recipes‎ Made at Home

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What a surprise we are halfway through winter. With this cold season making feel a little insecure about my eating habits, we’ve become attached to My Food Bag, so that we can ease our way through to eating healthy again and reminding ourselves that there’s FRESH fruit and vegetables options for when we cook at home. 

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That healthy rainbow spread right at your door step.

There has been some recent improvements that My Food Bag product and experience made. 

New Monday AM delivery time – Enjoy delivery while you sleep! My Food Bag now offers their foodies the added convenience of a NEW delivery window, Monday 2:00am – 7:00am. Win back your weekend and wake up to a delivery on your doorstep! It’s all part of continuing to offer a convenient service to suit the busy lives of their foodies.

New planet-friendly packaging – My Food Bag is committed to delivering their foodies only the freshest seasonal produce available, in packaging which is planet-friendly. They’re now delivering the goodness in their 100% recyclable Chilltainers and Brown Paper Boxes, all kept cool by their new recyclable ice bricks. This new packaging has replaced their traditional bags to continue to ensure the best quality delivery service.

New suppliers – My Food Bag has teamed up with a number of new local suppliers to continue to bring their foodies only the best! While of course remaining free-range, organic and sustainably sourced (wherever possible)

Reduced recipe times – A team of nutritionists and dietitians have been working hard to reduce their recipe preparation time, while retaining variation and a healthy balance of ingredients

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No kidding about freshest local Australian produce, meat and fish.

Let’s experience first-hand the following changes… 🙂 Excited (*Insert* happy dance)

Now let’s start with delivery…I must say My Food Bag does keep you informed through email and text, even days before your order, so that you are aware your groceries are coming. Thumb up for that top quality service. Whilst I was in bed dreaming about the things I’m going to cook for that week I did receive 2 alerts on my phone; one for when they deliver and the other saying my groceries are in front of my door.

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Delivery came on time just before I head to work. Many ticks for that!

Unpacked my goodies around 8am and they were still nice and chilled. I could smell all the ingredients even before I had opened the brown box. Now that’s another thumb up for quality food supplies.

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Didn’t need to waste time hitting the markets to find fresh meat. Thumbs up for that effort!

I dare you to take a peek at the latest scrumdiddlyumptious creations from Nadia Lim and her team for easy recipes cooked in your very own kitchen.

Day 1: MEXICAN FISH & SWEET POTATO NACHO BOWLS

Taste: An old-fashioned favorite made with the freshest of ingredients. Enjoyed tasting the blend of vegetables with the marinated spice mix fish. It seriously was fresh from the fields to my dinner table. My tastebuds could separately taste the cubes fresh fish and veggies. The only thing that bugged me was my sweet potato wasn’t cooked as I followed the recipe. Other than that this was an earth friendly meal.

Verdict: Let’s taco bout this recipe baby, it felt like a fun Friday night meal that was super perfect for my boring Monday night in. I spiced up my nacho bowls with edible Old El Paso Stand ‘n Stuff soft tortilla bowls instead of using the suggested homeware bowls. I mean life is easier when everything is edible, right? Muahahaha. Saved myself from cleaning more dishes by adding my own idea to this dish and yes I was completely stuffed with two nacho bowls.

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There’s something fishy about this dinner…haha.

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Mexican Fish & Sweet Potato Nacho Bowls

Day 2: PARMESAN & BASIL CHICKEN WITH LEMON POTATOES & CHARRED GREENS

Taste: Might I say fresh, generous, and prepared to perfection, this chicken stuffed with parmesan and basil will leave you wanting more. I was stunned that I made this all by myself. It truly had extraordinary flavours that I never knew it was possible. Don’t normally eat chicken breasts because it always turns out dry for me whenever I cook it, but nope not these breasts. Super juicy because of the parmesan. Loved the fragrant of the basil, garlic and red onion whilst it was cooking in the oven. Gold medal for the rich and hearty flavour.

Verdict: I’m really not sure what to say because I have never been in this kind of situation before, but HEAVENS YES I’d make this again, any day. First time stuffing these breasts with an intriguing filling that I could not have imagined. A delicious and easy-to-prepare chicken breasts that makes a great presentation and fills up any big stomach. Felt guilty (NOT) eating parmesan for a Tuesday night but when it’s mixed with red onion, basil and garlic, you know you have to let the guilty card slide. Thank the veggie gods for arriving on time to balance this meal. So far so good! I think this has become my signature dish for when friends come over to eat.

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There’s there’s THERE’S parmesan in this dish 😀

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This is new for me…parmesan, basil, garlic, lemon and red onion mixed together…

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 Using toothpicks for this recipe. Don’t pick on my breasts! Haha

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Just winged it. Teeheehee.

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Parmesan & Basil Chicken with Lemon Potatoes & Charred Greens

Day 3: GARAM MASALSA BEEF WITH MUSHROOMS RAGOUT SPINCH & FLATBREADS

Taste: Sadly this dish was my least favourite (insert sad face) because it didn’t blend so well together. I wasn’t a huge fan of the sourness taste of the tomato base dish, then moving on to the creamy mayo flavour from the spinach and finally the garam masala beef strips. Don’t get me wrong, all 3 dishes had a full burst of flavour, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. On a much happier note I enjoyed dipping my Lebanese slice bread into the mushroom ragout.

Verdict: It’s a great destination meal for those who heart mushroom and cherry tomatoes. Would suggest to substitute the spinach with cos lettuce so it would marry so well with the garam masala beef strips. I had plenty of leftovers and decided to mix the mushroom ragout with brown rice and as for the gram masalsa beef it turned out to be a kebab using the bread and adding with spinach.

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Garam Masalsa Beef with Mushrooms Ragout Spinch & Flatbreads

Day 4: LAMB LEG STEAKS WITH CORIANDER PESTO LEMON KALE & RICE

Taste: Silver medal for this dish as there was no game smell of the lamb and who knew you could cook kale. I was shocked you could mix lamb with sweet chilli sauce. It was a great steak that was so juicy that you accidentally bursted the water pipe…well almost. Loved the subtle hints of sweet, chilli from the lamb and as for the kale…OH MY! Incredible flavour that I wished I found this sooner. As for the rice I totally forgot about that being there because I was so distracted by that lamb leg and veggies.

Verdict: I am very like VERY sensitive to wanting to cook lamb  in my own kitchen and eating kale during dinner time because both don’t mix so well in my books, but I was wrong. A winning pair of kale and lamb leg bursted intense flavors and alluring aromas. Loved the serving of solider carrots and mountains of kale.

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There’s lamb leg and kale on the menu…first time cooking these ingredients.

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Lamb Leg Steaks with Coriander Pesto Lemon Kale & Rice

Day 5: BACON & ZUCCHINI RISOTTO WITH PEAR & PARMESAN SALAD

Taste: This dish didn’t go bacon my heart…thank the food gods, instead it was warming my heart. This risotto covered in a decadent creamy texture and dusted with parmesan made me lick my plate clean. A healthy pile of greens with the added pear fruit as a side salad offered a bright crunch when paired with the risotto.

Verdict: I must say I’m surprised with this recipe. Risotto is something I don’t normally whip up in the kitchen because rice doesn’t cook properly, but it turned out very smooth and creamy.  As for a salad that has slices of pear in it, impressive. I do like pear salad now, thanks to My Food Bag!

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It’s so hot inside, I’m bacon!

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Bacon & Zucchini Risotto with Pear & Parmesan Salad

Thoughts about My Food Bag

Regards to the following changes that was mentioned at the beginning of this post, let’s see if it approved on the Nessy Eater radar.

  1. Delivery time – Spot on with timing and they text you before and after to confirm delivery to your home 
  2. Packaging – Can’t blame if it’s recyclable and helping the environment 
  3. Food Products – Still impressed with the high quality and fresh ingredients. I’m still intrigued with lamb leg steaks! YUM! 
  4. Reduced recipe times – 4 out of 5 recipes was super easy to assemble as it only required chopping and assembling the ingredients into one pot, so yes it did reduce 5-15 minutes. 

Other notes

  • My Food Bag menus use only fresh seasonal produce, so there’s nothing frozen and they choose free-range and sustainably farmed products
  • Nutritionally balanced meals for all 5 nights
  • Read more here

When it comes to purchasing a week’s worth of groceries, it’s frightening to try new things for example purchasing new meat parts, spices or vegetables because it’s very costly and it takes so much of your time thinking about what to make out of it, but with My Food Bag they’ve done the dirty work for you.

Overall my view on My Food Bag hasn’t changed even for my previous review. My Food Bag does an excellent job with providing fresh ingredients and delicious recipes that can cater for those who cannot cook (that’s me).

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Photos by Vanny Tang

Disclaimer: Nessy Eater received a trial of My Food Bag-Classic, thanks to My Food Bag.

Opinions are however, Nessy Eater’s own.

Check out other My Food Bag post I did. Click here.

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Date with Vue De Monde at Rialto Towers |Melbourne

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You may have seen the acclaimed Australian Executive Chef Shannon Bennett earlier this year and that’s because his appeared on MasterChef Australia with his mouth watering and nasty surprise: the theatrical warm chocolate and orange mousse from Bistro Vue. Bennett who is one of the world’s most talented chef at his restaurant Vue De Monde is widely recognized as one of Australia’s top 100 fine dining venues and most impressively it is situated at level 55 of Melbourne’s iconic Rialto building. 

For a price tag of $200-250 per person for the gastronomes menu and a commitment to have the wine pairing as well, ranging from $30+ per glass is only appropriate. Ahh, this review is going to be long because the food is too good. Continue reading and you may drool. Just a little as each dish really plays on your mind.

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We start off with compressed apple crisps with macadamia pureé. The crisps were a perfect crunch. It contained a nutty and sugary taste that seemed like a crime to eat with the compressed macadamia puree being intense. You’ll be nuts not to eat this because it almost tasted somewhat like Kettle chips, but only in a “healthier” form.

As far as first impression goes, two thumbs up.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (3)Compressed apple crisps & macadamia pureé

From this point onward, the menu was on fast-forward mode.

With no menu in front of me, Vue De Monde decides to keep it all mysterious or perhaps YOLO style. Our next snack was the pine smoked salmon pearls. I had absolutely no regret eating the colourful mini vegetable garden on a plate with that heavenly intense burst of flavour from the salmon pearls. It was impossibly difficult to pretend I didn’t like this dish.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (5)Middle: Pine smoked salmon pearls

I may have studded when I devoured the CANDY COATED smoked eel with a bit of caviar sprinkled on top and tucked underneath, white chocolate. I had immense fear this would vanish quickly and I was right. I enjoyed the savoury flavour and light candy crunch, but what was mind-blowing was that delightful buttery taste coming from the chocolate. I completely lost my mind…

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (4)Smoked eel, white chocolate, caviar

Next on the entrée menu the BBQ lamb heart and duck tongue with a dash of pepper. I was utterly shocked to see these quirky parts of the animal in the menu, but that didn’t stop me from eating it. I wasn’t expecting this to be super impressive with that generous amount of caramelisation and light smokey smell, but after one bite it changed my perspective. I loved it. To accompany these BBQ meat I had to order a glass of NV Charles Heidsieck ‘Brut Reserve’. This bubbly had its own personality with fresh floral notes.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (8)Top right to bottom right:  BBQ lamb hearts, Duck tongue w mountain pepper

Left: NV Charles Heidsieck ‘Brut Reserve’, Reims, France

Soon after that oysters arrived with a citrus taste. They were fresh and creamy, just the way I like it, classic and simple.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (9)Oyster

Just when I was so convinced that the snacks were over, here comes a massive piece of Himalayan pink salt rock and as a bonus we get front seats watching thick slices of salt-cured Flinders Island wallaby being rolled up at our table.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (6)Prepared at the table 

The wallaby was pretty damn good with a drop of green herb puree. It almost had the same texture as a tuna sashimi, but slightly tougher and leaner. But yeah more of the wallaby would’ve been good because everything tastes better with pink salt rock.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (7)Salt cured wallaby

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (10)Vue De Monde’s open kitchen

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (11)At this point I realise that each of those rocks  were hand-crafted.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (12)Felt like I was eating with the Royal Family with these cutlery.

Now can we start on the first course? 😀 😀

The Spanish mackerel with cylinder potato filled with chicken puree and on top a teaspoon of caviar was simply perfect. The square piece of fish was fresh and succulent. My goodness the light crust was enough for a crunch but not enough to take over the entire dish. Now the quince sauce offered a sweet balance and tied together beautifully with the thinly sliced potato.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (14)Spanish mackerel, potato, chicken, caviar

I had no clue where the chef came from, but I was so excited to watch first-hand what he was preparing for me next. The chef explains to us that we are having Blackmore wagyu.

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I know I am having meat…

Fast-forward a minute later and it’s just oh so right watching wagyu being cooked like that. VDM knows how to serve me well. Medium rare please chef.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (16)Blackmore Wagyu “steak & onions”

So okay, yes I was drawn to this dish and it wasn’t just because VDM served wagyu…*rolls eyes*. I hearted that meat with the sauce which had the right amount of tenderness and were balanced out with the smoky scent in the air with a hint of pepper. Besides that piece of meat the garden greens looked astonishing.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (17)Adding the final touches

Baby I lost my breathe at my first bite of the wagyu. I just couldn’t keep up after that. I particularly liked the texture and I wish I could have a larger portion.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (18)Medium rare is just the way I like my meat

Not sure if you can handle this but this has got to be the best theatre experience I have ever had for pallet cleansing. You can’t go wrong with a bit of science especially when it’s liquid nitrogen. Liquid nitrogen was poured into a bed of wood sorrell and this instantly snap-freeze the ingredients.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (19)Cucumber, wood sorrel

We were then asked to pound into fine pieces then a scoop of cucumber sorbet was spooned in. The result was freaken astonishing. Definitely super refreshing and no signs of it being tooth achingly. This dish was amazing and would return for that alone.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (20)Cucumber, wood sorrel

The kitchen sent us a small black leather pouch and in it contained a warm loaf of sour dough bread and to accompany hand churned butter. Somehow this just made my soul feel all fuzzy. I had no regrets covering my slice of bread with butter, NO REGRETS! As expected the butter was silky soft.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (21)Sour dough and house made butter

Excuse me but I think there seems to be a mistake. I didn’t order breakfast. In continuation of this mysterious menu, we were served with eggs on toast! Oh how I cannot resist this, especially when you can serve it with a glass of 2006 Louis Roederer Cristal champagne. I think this is called Champagne Breakfast“. And that kids is how VDM will spoil you for breakfast.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (22)“Champagne Breakfast”

This dish was TOP of my list at VDM because the textures were incredible and satisfied my tastebuds. That duck yolk and drizzle of truffle sauce did not disappoint. The crunch of the saltbush plus paper thin toast had my head spinning. It’s crazy rich, but you will not reach the overwhelmingly sick stage. Round 2, thanks!

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (23)Duck yolk, pear, truffle

OOOOZY!!! Oh how I love a good runny yolk, soooooo creamy and so heavenly deeeeeeeelicious! Gotta love me some calories. Get that calorie action game face on!!!!

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I don’t think you understand…this duck yolk belongs to me. 

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (25)Butter time!

Our next course was the three way marron. I had high hopes for this and I am glad it delivered. And while you are living the high life you might as well sneak in a glass of 2013 Bourgogne Chardonnay Domaine Paul Pernot. This wine maintains a great balance between fresh citrus notes and the lively acidity.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (26)Three Way Marron

The marron was super juicy, like, fully JUICY! I tell you this course was just pretty darn addictive. I smothered the marron into the super silky brown butter like full on. This baby marron has got to be right up there on my favourite fine dining course ever! I was pleasantly surprised how well the three way marron married so well together.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (27)Top left to bottom left: Brown butter, Marron & Marzipan

You know what’s perfect about this marron sandwich? EVERYTHING! Saving the best to last was an excellent idea. Not a single crumb was left behind and we all know that’s a really good sign. This delicate piece of sandwich required to be eaten with the hands and there may have been some finger-licking in between, so be prepared.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (28)Marron sandwich

OH NO! Savoury course is almost over and to be frankly honest, food coma had already been activated, but that didn’t stop me from appreciating the next dish. Ox tongue with beetroot and bone marrow sure opened new doors of discovering something adventurous. Greeted with a white powdered creme fraiche that visually looked dry but as soon as it lands on your tongue it instantly melted like a snowman that was under the sun.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (30)Ox tongue, beetroot, bone marrow

I had a bit of trouble trying to find the ox tongue but as soon as you scoop a tiny portion into your mouth there’s an enormous amount of meaty, creamy flavour laced with shreds of beetroot. Add a glass of 2010 Joh Jos Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spätlese and you get a remarkable flavour.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (31)Can you spot where the ox tongue?

By now I mentally imagined I had gotten up and walked off the calories that I just digested. I did say mentally. Teehee. Helllllo butternut with sunflowers and passionfruit. This isn’t your ordinary pallet cleanser as I never heard these combinations before. Crunchy crushed sunflowers says howdy to my teeth with burst after burst of butternut and passionfruit flavour.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (32)Butternut squash, sunflower seeds, passionfruit

They tasted like summer with the fresh sweet fruity taste of the passionfruit. Sydney needs more of these nice light dessert to end the meal with.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (33)A ball of happiness

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (34)Spotted the cheese trolley!!! Say CHEEEEEESE.

I should have probably invested in 15 pairs of granny pants because I felt so overweight that I would require someone to roll me out of here. The goat’s milk with blueberries and fennel was welcomed to our table. Topped with sugary crystal that you could easily break with a spoon and the texture was sooooo fine with the similarity of a panna cotta times creme brulee that was served cold.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (35)Goat’s milk, blueberries, fennel

How can you decline chocolate soufflé when you get to witness the icing in action on your table? This dusting was going on for a solid 10 seconds. Shame it had to stop…

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (36)DARK Chocolate soufflé

BELLY SATISFYING souffle I have come across. I was not quite sure how I managed to finish this dessert but I did. It was light and fluffy with a knock in the face dark chocolate and an oozy molten chocolate centre.

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To celebrate the end of our degustation a selection of petit-fours arrived. Get ready to BREATHE HEAVY. It’s nothing you’ve seen before. These salted caramel chocolate seashells had me eyes tripping. With sprinkled salt added to them I honestly couldn’t spot which one was the edible ones. AHHH sugar gods why weren’t the rest of those shells be made out of chocolate?!

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (39)salted caramel chocolate seashells

We were offered jelly pennies and I liked the novelty but the taste wasn’t how I pictured. There’s a teeny wenny sign of alcoholic flavour but hardly noticeable, with a hint of sweetness made with it.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (40)Jelly pennies

Have you ever had menthol lollipops? For me this was my first time ever and there was rarely any actual menthol flavour, which is alright for me. Served frosted I digged the presentation more then the flavour. It looked incredibly kawaii. I seriously thought it was a cherry. VDM fooled me again! *applause*

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (41)Menthol lollipop

The famous cherry lamington was impressive. I can’t describe how wrong was I to believe yet again what you see is not what you get. This lamington was leaning towards a mousse cake and that cherry brings everything all together.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (42)Cherry lamington

ZOMG! Our degustation is finally over. Before I left the VDM building to head straight to the airport and catch my next flight back to Sydney, we were given a mini tour and we had to stop here to look at this spectacular view.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (43)This is what the view looks like at Vue De Monde.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (44)Yeah we are on level 55!!!

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (45)Tiny bubbles…

I seriously didn’t expect to visit Vue De Monde in my final hours in Melbourne. Did I mention I ran straight to the airport to catch my next flight home to Sydney after eating this degustation. I now know the meaning of gastronome. I am belly satisfied 😀 😀 😀

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (2)Woo-hoo I can finally tick this off my bucket list!!!!

Just when the fat foodie gang were about to walk out of there, we were given a really awesome surprise package for the “next day”. It’s hard to forget Vue De Monde when they shower you with more food on your way out.

What I truly loved about this experience was the creativity for every single dish that was served to us, the exquisite service and food combined with high theatre. OH and the goodie bag on my way out, which I highly recommend every other fine-dining places should have because adults still act like kids and this big kid loves little surprises, especially when it contains food.

Vue De Monde_Nessy Eater (46)“For the next day” – brioche, honey, digestives, granola & tea

Photos by Vanny Tang

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Cooking with Kylie Kwong – Woolworths

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If you haven’t heard already Kylie Kwong who is an Australian television chef, author, restaurateur and was a guest judge for MasterChef Australia is now plating up her signature Chinese dishes to Woolworths customers. The oh so very new range of Chinese dishes includes Aussie favourites such as Mongolian style beef and stir-fried chicken with cashew nuts and if you LOVE Cantonese style dumplings then there is prawn dumplings with ginger and coriander that’s ready for you to make it yourself at home within minutes.

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Let’s get the party stared.

To celebrate Kylie Kwong’s partnership with Woolworths guests partied hard at Billy Kwong. The purpose of adding a new dedicated section in Woolworths stores is providing delicious Chinese meals in the space of your own kitchen at home. The experience of the meals will be the same fresh flavours you get at a restaurant with added authentic recipe secrets from Pauline Kwong’s unique approach to cooking Cantonese cuisine.

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Such a long LONG LIST for dinner. *Grins*

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Table is set!

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Billy Kwong’s open kitchen

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Started with a few glasses of white and red.

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Guess which object is Kylie Kwong’s instagram image?

Before we started our long-crazzzzzy tasting menu, Kylie tells us her stories of how she started her passion for Cantonese food and it’s all thanks to her mother, Pauline Kwong. Kylie jokingly tells us a story of when she use to attend Epping North Public School and how after school she’d go to her Russian friend’s house to eat their cuisine food and the very next day in exchange Kylie would bring her friends over to eat her mother’s cooking.

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Kylie tells us the history of how her passion started in her mother’s kitchen.

One Chinese classic dish that can grow better and richer over time would be the master stock eggs. Bathed heavily in pork stock you can tell these half sliced golden eggs have been soaked for what it seems to be hours, but really 45 mintues, said Kylie.

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Master Stock Eggs

We move on to the food kit that can be cooked from scratch and that is great value for money is the prawn dumplings with ginger and coriander. This is a great Cantonese style dumpling that combines a filling of seasoned chopped prawns and secret sauce. My mouth kinda fell open a little when this plate arrived looking so awesome. The sauce had an aromatic smell of fresh grated ginger and chopped coriander and it tasted exactly what I  had smelt.

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Prawn Dumplings with Ginger and Coriander 

Next up we deep-fried silken tofu squares with black bean sauce. The superstar ingredient of this dish was of course Kylie’s black bean sauce. This custardlike deep-fried tofu was simultaneously rich, creamy and light and married so well with the powerful taste of the black bean sauce. The sauce was a deeply savoury taste which had a pungent salty flavour.

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Deep-Fried Silken Tofu Squares with Black Bean Sauce

I had a weakness for the seared prawns when there was only one left remaining on the plate. It was crazy insane to see the perfectly tender prawn that’s been sweetly caramelised with honey and ginger sauce disappear and devoured in record time.

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Seared Prawns with Honey and Ginger Sauce

It was lovely guests had the opportunity to meet Pauline Kwong who is Kylie Kwong’s mother. She’s one beautiful lady who knows how to tell jokes. Pauline explains how every Chinese New Year and Christmas she’d be in her own kitchen for hours stir-frying or deep-frying to cater over 50+ relatives.

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Kylie introduces her mother, Pauline Kwong.

This fried rice is overloaded with nutritious vegetables that includes carrot, mushroom, buk choy and tofu. The fried rice is really simple and traditional, however I found it to be a tad soggy, but that didn’t matter because flavour was more important for my tastebuds.
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Vegetable Fried Rice

A popular Chinese stir fry with a spicy edge would be the stir-fried beef with black bean and chilli sauce. This was my least favourite because I can’t handle spicy food as much as I want to but I am trying. But if you enjoy the sharp, pungent and spicy flavours then you go for it because I did feel a punch to the mouth. Besides that wild flame on my tastebuds I really liked that somewhat syrupy flavour of the black bean sauce. I tell you this dish totes goes well with a bowl of plain rice.

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Stir-Fried Beef with Black Bean and Chilli Sauce? 

Something really simple yet I rarely see these days in Asian restaurants is the stir-fried chicken with cashew nuts. I was so easily distracted eating the cashew nuts because of its crunchy texture and the chunks of juicy tender chicken that I had forgotten my bowl of rice. It just shows how this dish can be on its own.

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Stir-Fried Chicken with Cashew Nuts

The stir-fried eggplant with black bean sauce was dangerously tasty. I mean WHOAH that black bean sauce goes so very well with eggplant. The slices of eggplant was evenly covered in the sauce and it contained a sticky outside and as you bite into it it was warm and gooey.

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Stir-Fried Eggplant with Black Bean Sauce

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Action shot of Kylie Kwong in her Billy Kwong kitchen.

It only takes seconds to notice the crispy chicken with sweet and sour sauce. The sauce are a deep red in colour and if you dunk a piece of the chicken into it then it’s going to be a satisfyingly sticky situation.

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Crispy Chicken with Sweet and Sour Sauce

Now Mongolian style beef is something I don’t often cross paths with but I do like the savoury flavours of the soy sauce and sweetness from the hoisin sauce. This dish is another perfect example of having it with a bowl of steamed rice. There’s a lot of bright colourful vegetables in this dish like carrot, red capsicum and spring onion.

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Mongolian Style Beef

Stir-fried chicken with honey and ginger sauce was really mind-blowing with chicken with thick strands of spring onions. And might I add that sauce was pure perfect comfort with rice as well.

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Stir-Fried Chicken with Honey and Ginger

Incredible fragrant of the pork belly soaked in master stock arrived soon after. It was hard to believe nothing was added into this dish for instance any extra spices or sauce because it tasted like it has been marinated for days.

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Master Stock Pork Belly

Even the vegetables in master stock provided the same full flavour. Kylie suggested if you use her ranges especially the master stock, it is best to let the meat, vegetables or egg soak for 30 minutes before cooking.

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Master Stock Vegetables

For our final savoury dish we were introduced with stir-fried mussels with black bean sauce. There was a lot of flavours going on with the fresh mussels and sauce. I was overjoyed for the first time to have black beans and mussels together.

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Stir-Fried Mussels with Black Bean Sauce

Not only was I super happy to meet Kylie Kwong but I also got to meet Lorraine Elliott from Not Quite Nigella. If you don’t know already I am such a FAN GIRL of her blog. Lorraine and I have crossed paths before at Maille High Tea, however I was sooooo nervous to introduce myself to her and plus it would have been freaky to go up to her and say I stalk your blog. Haha. Moving on! Lorriane is an incredibly talented food writer. She tells me her stories about her blog, her husband and how she started Not Quite Nigella. It was truly jaw-dropping to finally have a lonnnng conversation with ONE-OF-A-KIND full time food and travel writer. OH MYYYY GODDDDDD somebody pinch me I really can’t believe we took a selfie together 😀 😀 😀

Not Quite Nigella

Selfie time with the beautiful Lorriane from Not Quite Nigella

Photo credit: Lorriane from Not Quite Nigella

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Guess who’s got her very own personalised chopsticks?!

I had to take a photo with Kylie Kwong just to prove I wasn’t dreaming. But before a happy snap, Kylie was super-excited as she grabs my hand and gives me a personal tour of Billy Kwong’s open kitchen at Potts Point. Kylie is one passionate Chef who revealed her secrets and rewards of hard work. She gave us a glimpse of her family’s Australian-Chinese festivities and taught me how to use her NEW Cantonese cuisine ranges available only at Woolworths. I cannot wait to give these products a go at home. 

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Kylie Kwong with Nessy Eater Girl. 

Disclaimer: Nessy Eater attended Kylie Kwong’s Woolworths tasting menu, thanks to One Green Bean.

Opinions are however, Nessy Eater’s own.

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Long Luxurious Night at La Grillade Crows Nest

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Tucked away behind the Lower North Shore terrace, La Grillade has been the gourmet retreat for the social set and often the romantic dinner spot. This iconic venue is operated by husband and wife team, George and Ann. You may be familiar with this couple at The Little Snail  where French style cooking combined with friendly service meets personality and charm for each table.

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Such a cosy restaurant at La Grillade

Dining at La Grillade you will expect food as being exotic and sophisticated at realistic prices. For instance we opted for a set priced menu at $63 for 3 courses (for an entrée, main and dessert) with the full a la carte menu to choose from including snails and prime steaks, which are a key feature of La Grillade’s menu. But if you fancy something a little more meatier than it is your mission to order the 14 hrs slow cooked lamb shoulder for two (additional $20).

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What’s on the menu?

For entrée I was happily digging in to the platter of garlic-drenched escargots. The snails in the shell came in one dozen and sizzled in garlic parsley butter that may have overpowered the the red wine. My personal recommendation is to also order a few slices of plain bread so you can watch the puddle of butter and bread marry together like a edible sponge.

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Snails in the shell

I was busted for taking a small scoop of someone’s duck liver pate that contained green peppercorns, port jelly and croutons. That teeny tiny bowl of pate had us glancing at each other. Port jelly was one of my absolute favourite things. The flavours was sweet and very aromatic with red wine. As for the pate it was super SUPER SMOOTH.

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Duck Liver Pate 

If you are not so keen to ordering a duck liver pate then perhaps the rillettes of pork is an option. Traditional rillettes of pork with a hint of orange and tarragon fell far short of doing the generous quantity. The rillette was tasty and it was stuffed with a lot of shredded pork meat and cooked slowly in fat until it was tender enough to be easily served to form a paste.

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Rillettes of Pork

I thought I’d have issues with this entree but it was alllll good with the a generous portion of crispy pieces of croutons to balance it off the taste of pork love making in my mouth.

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Our starter wasn’t complete till we chosen the golden fried calamari which came with chilli, salt and pepper with garlic aioli. I love the calamari’s strong flavour and utterly unique texture; it’s nice and meaty but soft in the center, and when the coating is lightly fried, it is utter perfection on a plate.

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Golden Fried Calamari

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Love the setting at La Grillade

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True French style courtyard dining

Moving on to mains came this sexy ENORMOUS piece of lamb shoulder (for two) (additional $20 for set priced menu) that’s been slow-cooked for 14 hrs straight. It looked like a GIGANTIC slab of meaty goodness, just sprinkled with deliciousness from the crispy herb bits which then drowned in the Junee’s finest lamb sauce. It may look small in the photo but oh boy was it filling for three dinosaur stomachs. If you are not in a rush and want to spend the final minutes with this shoulder then now is the time to order a glass of red to accommodate this dish. A lovely falling-off-the-bone moment was witnessed and for the taste and texture it developed a deep, rich flavour that melts in the mouth.

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14 hrs Slow-cooked Lamb Shoulder (for two) 

And because we love meat so much it is very important to decorate your main with some glossy steamed vegetables that has been generously tossed with olive oil.

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Steamed Vegetables

Say goodbye to boring duck breast because the one in La Grillade was pretty damn tasty as it has been twice cooked and decorated with pink flesh then glazed with sweet and sour cherries. The duck breast wasn’t a challenge to eat as I believe it’s the meatiest and best eating part of the duck. Okay…there may be some signs that these breasts were dry, but that didn’t stop me! This dish was easily finished because of the sauce, delicately sweet.

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Duck breast

To complement any meaty mains we ordered the creamed potato ($8). The texture was mild, thick and creamy, and this was a pleasant change from vegetables. There was no river of gravy in sight but I totally approve how delicious this was because none of us wanted to share.

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Creamed Potato ($8)

The rib eye (400gm) was just so mindblowingly good here that it was only right to have it cooked to medium rare. You can tell this slab of prime beef, dry aged was lightly smoked and grilled. It was seductive to see the pool of beef juice and served with Paris butter and veal glaze. There was so much tenderness in this beef that I managed to sneak a few more slices back to my own plate. Oh that evil grin begins!

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Rib Eye (400gm)

Can you handle dessert after all the above?! Well YES FOR ME. We chosen the baked lemon cheesecake because we saw the word “cake” at the end of cheesecake. Teehee. I must say this was a very ordinary dessert, nothing that fancy my pants other than the slight sour lemon flavour and silky smooth texture of the cheese.

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Baked Lemon Cheesecake

If you can’t handle a super heavy dessert then the coffee profiteroles Kahlua anglaise would be a good pick, which are stuffed full of sweet coffee creme covered in a profiteroles patissière and are placed over a small pond of mild Kahlua sauce.

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Coffee Profiteroles Kahluaanglaise

We weren’t going to leave a French restaurant without having the crème brulee. Although for some reason, a bowl of custard isn’t seen as an appropriate dessert for a grown adult, but stabbing our way through a perfect golden sugary layer and into the smooth custard can be an excuse to having this.

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Crème Brulee

Can you see how this decadent dessert is with the vanilla custard and tops it with a layer of crisp caramelized sugar…Hmmm I feel fat.

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That brulee…

By now I’ve reached exploding point and it felt like I was ready to roll out of here, but first let me just finish our last dessert- rich chocolate mousse. It was a perfectly fine mousse even though it wasn’t anything super special. Not only did it manage to convey both indulgence and comfort it was a heaven in a dish for all you chocolate fans out there.

Well I was feeling a tad heavier than I was before I visited La Grillade. Best to go for the set menu as I feel it’s more worth it when you calculate in your mind the original price for each dish. I will definitely come back for dinner again an try my luck on the rest of the menu.

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Rich Chocolate Mousse

Photos by Vanny Tang

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Appointment with ARIA, Sydney

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In Sydney I believe the perfect lunch is including a spectacular view. So I did a little research and TA DA I was on my way to ARIA. For lunch I believe Matt Moran and his team has created very elegant dishes to match the atmosphere. One thing I already liked about this restaurant is the fact it’s a set price menu for example $46 for one course, $74 for two course and $89 for three courses. Off course I went all out and decided to choose THREE COURSE!

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An intense and fruity little appetiser of fresh fig purée tart hits the table first, tasting sweet and gorgeously presented. There was a distinctively sharp taste of goat’s curd and my taste buds on the tongue could also detect the buttery flavour coming from the tart shell itself. I loved the crumbly biscuit from the tart base, it almost had a pie crust texture, ALMOST.

Aria_Nessy Eater (2)Goat’s Curd and Fig Purée tart

Soon after our delicious start, a lovely waiter walks to our table and offers a selection of the highest quality breads matched with seaweed and original butter. I opted for a warm thick slice of sourdough containing walnuts. Let me tell you I felt 100% guilty enjoying the whole slice of sourdough alone with a few smears of seaweed butter. The edges of the bread was indeed solid like a rock and as for the the spongy middle section it offered a tangy taste that can vary form barely perceptible to slightly sour. As for the seaweed butter, MY GOODNESS I have never encountered such a meeting like this before. It’s not your classic butter you have at home, it’s TOP NOTCH BUTTER that delivers a divine sweet yet salty, mellow flavour that is absolutely delicious with any selection of breads you prefer.

Aria_Nessy Eater (3)Sour Dough matched with Seaweed and Original Butter

By now we were starting to suffer the effects of butter madness and we had to quickly forget about it and move onto our first course. These beautiful shelled pacific oysters was disturbingly presented well like a little “nihon teien” translate to Japanese-style garden with the ice plants looking similar to moss garden, oysters looking similar to rocks and the blackberries reminded me of bushes. The raw oysters were meaty, strong flavoured and had a silky fresh plumpness to it. That oyster juice with the blend of the other ingredients on the plate was precious and tasted insanely good that it was unacceptable to rinse it off.

Aria_Nessy Eater (4)Shelled Pacific Oysters

Another option from the first course also included the pressed rabbit and chorizo terrine with romesco sauce and a piece of focaccia. This dish was absolutely interesting because rabbits are not usually on the menu so fancy lunch indeed. The terrine had a summer theme to it with the colours and garnish. I was impressed by the texture as it provided a jello feel to it with the added chunks of meat and spice from the chorizo which left a meaty package into my mouth.

Aria_Nessy Eater (5)Pressed Rabbit and Chorizo Terrine

Aria_Nessy Eater (6)Side view is always better 😛

For the FRIED focaccia it left me speechless!!! It was nice, soft and crispy in the first bite that I couldn’t control myself having the whole darn thing. OH DEAR! I don’t think I can stick to “sharing is caring”. Teehee.

Aria_Nessy Eater (7)Have you tried Deep Fried Focaccia before?

I was lucky enough to catch a steamed bass grouper on my plate with spanner crabCoorong pipis and smoked dulse. The snow white fillet was incredibly smooth with large flakes and it was tender, moist and had a mild flavour to it. The texture and consistency are similar to a swordfish. The creamy dressing and fish complimented each other because I had a cheeky grin after devouring this. 

Aria_Nessy Eater (8)Steamed Bass Grouper

Another main dish you MUST order is ARIA’s roasted holmbrae duck breasts with golden beetrootselderflower and chamomile. I went BALLISTIC having my very first bite. I went cray cray when the duck vanished into thin air. At the time of the disappearance of the duck I wished I could be a super slower eater because that duck was DUCKING GOOD, excuse the language.

Aria_Nessy Eater (9)Roasted Holmbrae Duck

What made it extremely a highlighting dish was not only the rich, strong flavour of the duck and the elderflower and not so the chamomile but it was the glossy golden layer atop of the duck which appeared to be a long strip sugar coat. It had a crackle noise and sounded like a wonderful orchestra.

Aria_Nessy Eater (10)Just can’t stop sharing inwards shot. 

Aria_Nessy Eater (11)Very lucky to sit window seat and it’s Sydney Harbour Bridge, well half of it. 

Moving onto DESSERTS but the only problem for us was deciding on which one to fulfil our dessert stomach’s cravings. Being indecisive our helpful waiter suggested the very popular mango and passionfruit soufflé. After a 20 minute wait ta-da the soufflé appears at our table looking all seductive with a scoop of roasted rice ice-cream and dusted icing. Look at that signature height of the soufflé, it was unbelievably 4-5cms tall. The dessert is served hot and oozing with goodness.

Aria_Nessy Eater (12)Mango and Passionfruit Soufflé

DEATH BY CHOCOLATE was the valrhona chocolate ganache– It was certainly eye catching to the point it could be displayed at a art gallery or maybe a museum. It was a very sophisticated dessert with cherries, cherry sorbet, warm chocolate doughnuts and hazelnut. I was seriously and I mean SERIOUSLY HYPNOTISED by the many many looks of this dessert.

Aria_Nessy Eater (13)Valrhona Chocolate Ganache

From a side angle it feels like this must be a new dessert. The valrhona chocolate ganache was super rich and smooth to the point I could just lick the extras on the plate. Cherries and cherry sorbet married so well together that their wasn’t a hint of sourness. As for the chocolate doughnuts and hazelnut I lost my sh!ts. Teehee.

Aria_Nessy Eater (16)It’s too pretty to eat this!!! BUT Oh well…nom nom nom

Aria_Nessy Eater (18)Smashed the dessert into pieces… 😀

WAIT there’s MORE DESSERT!!! What…more dessert? YES MORE DESSERT. Does this get any better?!?!

By now I felt like I was about to give birth to a food baby. The waiter walks straight towards our table with this gorgeously presented petit fours that I couldn’t decline such an opportunity to stuff my face with sweets. They were only a bite-size…

Aria_Nessy Eater (19)Complimentary Petit Fours (Normally $9.50 with tea or coffee)

Aria_Nessy Eater (20)Just one more bite…

After an indulgent lunch you may want to act like a tourist and take a glimpse of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. It would be wrong not to walk around.

Aria_Nessy Eater (22)Needed to stretch my legs after a luxury lunch experience at ARIA.

ARIA is certainly a luxurious lunch and so it does require you to put a side some time for you to really enjoy it. For $89 for 3 course I certainly loved each dish as I can really see the effort they put in with presentation and flavour. Goodness I can’t stop thinking about the dessert. Make sure when you book to request for WINDOW SEAT, you won’t be disappointed. Overall I give this place a two thumbs up. I look forward to returning and testing their degustation at night.

Aria_Nessy Eater (21)See you again ARIA’s. 

Photos by Vanny Tang

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