HAPPY 2015 FOODIE FRIENDS! Can you believe it’s mid of January already?! By now you may have noticed Nessy Eater’s been busy indulging desserts and summery meals on Instagram. The Food Gods knew that they’d needed new volunteers to take up the festive Christmas feast and so they immediately decided to choose me. OH the pain I had to endure and retire my typewriter during the holiday season. But sometimes when you’re giving a task during Xmas by the Food Gods and it involves your stomach and gingerbread man, it’s automatically a food hall pass. This hall pass was cherished and used judiciously for it is not an easy thing to obtain. The hall pass is something to be prized and by verbal consent from the Food Gods and Santa, Nessy Eater has permission to share great foods with you kids. What are you waiting for? Let’s begin!
It’s my second visit to Crossroads Bar at Swissotel Sydney and just before I had retired my typewriter and crisp white paper, I managed to spot a really good deal on Groupon. For $79 for two people, you get Christmas Weekend High Tea plus a cocktail for each person. Before treating your tummy to savoury foods and sweet delights, I wanted to quickly inform you that this deal was ALL YOU CAN EAT high tea. I repeat High Tea BUFFET. DON’T PANIC IF YOU’VE MISSED OUT! After a quick investigation like a detective I found out through the Swissotel’s website the high tea buffet is still on but not Xmas themed though. I’m sure it would be still as good and it is normally $79 per person. That’s CRAZY! I saved $79! This by far was the best deal that I’ve ever purchased from Groupon.
Are you drooling?
Before thunder and lightning strikes to my typewriter I think it’s now time to share the Christmas spirit with you. Within a 5-star luxury hotel the Swissotel does get a thumbs up for their modern and elegant interior, however their service and overall management did not make it to a two-star. We were disappointed by the lack of service and management skills. For example when we arrived, staffs at the Swissotel looked like they wanted to wrestle with guests in UFC style. You could see it in their eyes they were very frustrated and sad, especially when there was one main bartender, a supervisor and three waitresses serving around fourty five plus guests. Waitresses responded with a robotic tone and left unhappily after we made our beverage orders. I guess Santa’s been overworking his helpers. Anyways moving on to rainbows and unicorns.
Our festive fare started with Christmas pudding. This traditional pud is made from vine fruit and butter, eggs and a splash of vanilla custard. Each handmade pudding was the size of a baseball and half a tennis ball. What does it taste like? Think fruitcake. It’s not everyone’s taste as it’s an acquired taste, it’s cream sauce with dried fruits in it. I think it err needed lots of cream to tone it down.
Strawberry cream caramel kept vanishing every time I was forced to return to the dessert bar. Lightly greasy but it’s wrapped around a creamy center that won’t disappoint. The half sliced strawberry made this dessert refreshing. I like the chance to play around with the wobbly jelly like texture of the cream caramel before I devour it. It gives me time to mingle before I say good-bye to it for the second time. If you’re craving for that caramel sauce to take home then you need to ask Executive Chef Thomas Heinrich for a favour.
Strawberry cream caramel
I managed to somehow not shatter the blackberry pavlova into a million pieces before it made it back to my table. The fun sized pavlova looked like snow ball meringues. It was extremely light and airy. Being able to taste it for the third time, it was one of those fabulous treats to go along with a cup of tea.
As Christmas traditions go, starting a marvellous high tea with a shot of eggnog is another great way to celebrate the festive season. The shot was very satisfying as there was an egg-rich dairy punch flavour. It can be very boozy and super rich if there’s more eggs added, but thankfully not.
Festive must haves were the fruit mince tart. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without buttery pastries and fruity mince pies. These delectable star shaped mince pies simply provided a moment of self-indulgence for me. The outside butter-enriched pastry is stuffed with chunks of moist fruit and topped with heavy sprinkles of icing.
Fruit star tart
Oh hot summer days means we need to thank the bartender at Swissotel for making us the strawberry cocktail. Though we were half way feeding our inner cravings, we still managed to wash this beverage down. The sweetness of the strawberries was a real crowd pleaser and off course the rum. It wasn’t sickly sweet, which is good news coming from the syrup. The texture kicked ass as it felt like a strawberry slushy rather than a classic cocktail.
Me thinks the strawberry panna cotta was carefully crafted. The strawberries makes a great companion with the panna cotta for bright, sharp summer fruit. The taste was somewhat cream-heavier but that didn’t matter too much because I was mildly annoyed at the casual sophistication of the presentation for this dessert.
Strawberry panna cotta
Just look at how this chocolate fountain GLISTENS! It brings a smile to everyone’s face including the grumpy cats. Stop making me smile chocolate fountain! STOP IT!
I simply couldn’t get enough of the salted caramel and jam lamingtons. The lamingtons were sandwiching the sweet jam. I tried burying evidence of me eating this, but the shredded dried coconuts around my mouth gave it away.
Salted caramel and jam lamingtons
This chilled blueberry panna cotta in a miniature plastic cup was simply impressive. The fresh blueberries and pipped cream married so well with the silky smooth vanilla bean gelatine.
Blueberry panna cotta
With our voucher package, we were treated with selections of tea or coffee. All teas are from T2.
English breakfast by T2
Tempt the tastebuds with smoked salmon tartar with pipped cream cheese on waffle cone. It’s so easy to eat and I didn’t notice I ate five till I started counting the gold wrappers. Oh Whoops!
Smoked salmon tartar cone
Not sure if sandwiches are meant to look like they’re all swirled up but hey I’m loving it. This smoked turkey, pickled raspberry jam and rocket on harvest grain was juicy with that jam spread across the bread so evenly. The thick pieces of turkey was zomg crazy ass delicious.
Smoked turkey swirl sandwich
Making my way back to the buffet bar and look who do we have here…cocktail prawn station with Crystal Bay Australian reef prawn cocktail with lemon and cocktail dressing.
Cocktail prawn station
The fire roasted red capsicums with green olive and goat cheese baguette was my least favourite. It was an interesting take on for me in terms of flavours. It has that sweet sourness from the olive and cold texture of goat cheese which I didn’t favour.
Wicked, decadent and sinful was hardly the best description for these dreamy little masterpieces. I took my time connecting with the Christmas profiteroles. Glazed with milk chocolate atop and sprinkles of crushes chocolate pieces, I think it was the perfect addition to the buffet bar.
Wait there’s MORE DESSERTS?! I became very full from stuffing my belly with trying a bit of everything, but noooooooo the pastry chef had to bring this blackberry and white chocolate mousse just before I was about to pack my fat body and go. My belly was crying on the inside but because this mousse cake was beautifully presented, I had to cut a seven inch width slice of cake.
Blackberry and white chocolate mousse
I spy with my eyes….. is that a full plate of Christmas macarons? A sensational dessert that always alwAYS ALWAYS pleases! Hehe.
We had to arrange a little bit more stomach space for the spring berry tart. Glad we did because that tart had just came straight out of the pastry headquarters looking all innocent and sweet.
Spring berry tart
Woohoo our Christmas Afternoon Tea finally came to an end, however I’m sorry I’ve missed out taking a few photos of some desserts and savories. Overall I loved skipping my way to the buffet bar and thank goodness majority of the desserts and savoury tasted magical so I could forget about their below average service. Totes heart every single desserts presentation. Swissotel is a great spot for afternoon tea whores, for example like me, although it’s a tad pricey but it’s ALL YOU CAN EAT sugar. To my disappointment I couldn’t walk out of the hotel like a Victoria Secret Model in high heels. Instead I left waddling out like Mumble from Happy Feet and swore to myself that I ain’t gonnabe eating dinner…
Top view of spring berry tart
Photos by Vanny Tang
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It’s fascinating how it’s that time of year again for GOOD FOOD MONTH. With over 100 food events happening throughout October, I honestly don’t know where to begin. With a series of cafes, bars and restaurants showcasing their own version of food celebration, it is vital to be the first to get those knifes and forks dirty. My first stop this year was AZUMA‘s “Let’s do Dessert. For ($20 per person) with the choice of AZUMA’s Special Blend Japanese Green Tea or glass of Yalumba FSW8B Botrytis Viogni, you’d be ready to start partying with a few harlem shake moves.
AZUMA’s Dessert Bento Box ($20 per person)
I spent more time on the Umenoyado Fruit Sake Taste because it was ridiculously addictive with yuza. This shot of Japanese fruit wine came from Nara, Japan. I’ve been a great lover of all things fruity. Apart from the alcohol, this captivated me instantly at my first sip with the degree of citrus taste and sourness.
Umenoyado Fruit Sake Taste
Japanese Baumkuchen looked impressive with the different colours of layered cake and chestnut cream. I do believe this is the king of cakes for high tea as it provides a light, moist texture. The cream added an additional texture making it more desirable one bite after the other.
Matcha Dark Chocolate are the candy green tea lovers have been waiting for. These indulgent two piece dark chocolate looked like they were generously rolled in matcha powder. It was hard to tell if it was chocolate when I first glanced at it. For my first observation I thought it was green tea marshmallows. Each square piece contains an incredible bittersweet and slightly bitter flavour.
Matcha Dark Chocolate
I refused to keep playing these games with the Plum Sorbet as it contained full of the Japanese ume plum in sake syrup. The flavours and textures marry so harmonise well together and it was perfect in so many ways. This brightly flavoured fruit sorbet freshened a few food coma faces. The toothpick that marks its territory with a pitted plum intensified the flavours even more in a delightful way.
Mango Yokan was really decent, it wasn’t overly sweet to the point of intoxication, however you can sense some sugar rush going down your intestine. The pudding like texture was kinda firm and bouncy at the same time. This Japanese jellied dessert was made of mango puree and sugar. This dessert wasn’t a wow factor for me, but it was very satisfying in its own way.
Look at the lovely face of the Chocolate Truffle Cake, though I liked the presentation but when I first tasted it, this made me cry because it was a little bit dry. Lucky for me, that pipped whipped cream atop and slice of fresh strawberry saved the day. Served at room temperature I honestly hoped they’d provide a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Just saying! 😀
My overall verdict for AZUMA’s East meets West Dessert is DO GO. I personally think this is so worth it. This bento box is so fun that it contains 6 dessert assortment and it comes with either green tea or dessert wine. The sweet things are always the best things!
Chocolate Truffle Cake
Photos by Vanny Tang
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There are a lot of areas around Metcentre in Wynyard Station that is packed full with food joints. One in particular that is new and intimate is Chefs Gallery Jamison Street. To demonstrate noodle making action, patrons can witness through a glassed in kitchen. Their signature noodle show takes centre stage as balls of flour dough are quickly kneaded in a haze of hand movements, then stretched into twisted plaits. To finish, the Master Noodle Chef, Chef Panda transform the delicate noodles into a lengthy unbroken noodle skipping rope, then into silken strands. It looks super easy and effortless but it does take at least 23 years of practice.
Welcome to Chefs Gallery Metcentre Opening.
That’s how Chef Panda attracts the patrons.
Freaken amazed by how thin these noodles are made by hand.
23 years of practice making handmade noodles paid off.
I, for one, could have stared at the fun entertaining noodle show for hours but it was time for me to enter the restaurant and be welcomed by a whole batch of Deep Fried Wonton Sheets that has been heavily savoury seasoned. Usually stuffed with tasty meat and then boiled, however Chefs Gallery is being creative by being simple with these so called FRIED WONTON CHIPS. They are good, addictively good.
Deep Fried Wonton Sheets
Besides fresh handmade noodles, give Tataki Wagyu Beef with Sichuan Style Spicy dressing a go. The taste of the seared beef is condensed with ginger, a hint of vinegar then wrapped with fresh mint leave. There’s good quality in the wagyu beef as it offers a pink fine marbling through the meat, it is tender and has an intense flavour of the hot dressing even whilst it’s been served cold. Seriously satisfying for the sashimi-grade manner.
Tataki Wagyu Beef with Sichuan Style Spicy dressing
You know what would be good in your belly? Spicy Prawn and Pork Wontons– I love the silky layer of the wonton skin that is beautifully balanced with spicy garlicky dressing. Greatly filled with chopped succulent prawns and pork that’s subtly marinated in oriental spices. The spiciness doesn’t stick to your tongue, instead, to the kissable red lips.
Spicy Prawn and Pork Wontons are hot in the house.
The presentation of the Vegetarian Spring Rolls instantly reminded me of birds nest and delivered a good dose of crispiness. A very delicate roll that is easily a favourite dish for the vegetarians.
Vegetarian Spring Rolls
Piping hot Vegetarian Steam Buns are not new by any stretch to the Chinese but definitely have a go at loving these buns as they are filled with cabbage, mushroom and minced spring onion. The buns are soft and chewy with fatty veggie filling, however I found the buns skin to be slightly tough.
Vegetarian Steam Buns
Speech time and founder and owner Kaisern Ching tells us his story about Chefs Gallery.
Time for Chef Panda to show us some more moves.
This is fully twisted!
Seconds later, a ball of dough transformed into noodles.
Special guest Natalie Tran from Community Channel in the house making noodles.
Well done Natalie! She almost took over Chef Panda’s job, almost.
Maybe one more photo, but this time with the Master Noodle Chef.
Gorgeously trimmed and cut into 3cm cubes, the Wagyu Beef cubes made sure it was doused with pepper sauce that studded with a few fresh mixed salad leaves. The rich marbled texture of the beef sure is succulent. The peppery sauce perfumes this dish and may overwhelm your tastebuds. One cube at a time with a glass of red wine makes it even more powerful.
Wagyu Beef cubes with pepper sauce
The best thing about Handmade Spinach noodle Spinach noodle with bamboo shoots and carrot sticks is that the spinach gives a lovely bright green colour and nutrition to your meal. Don’t say I don’t eat my greens mama! There’s something about handmade noodles that makes me even happier to attempt seconds…
Handmade Spinach noodle
As square platter of Chef’s own Handmade Egg and Spinach Tofu gradually made its way towards me. I just happen to take a photo of Natalie Tran’s personalised tofu plate. Oddly these deep fried tofu tiles reminded me of mah-jong, you want to play? I wouldn’t say it is nutritious as they happen to be fried but it does have the perfect protein boost for vegetarians and vegan. The ideal beginning of devouring the tofu is biting through the lightly golden battered skin to find a firm, yet silken custard with a layer of chopped spinach crunch.
Chef’s own Handmade Egg and Spinach Tofu
My ultimate goal for the night was to get my hands on the Macanese style mini Pork Burger. It’s a chunky piece of culinary masterpiece that’s generously filled with pork fillet, pork floss, lettuce and a sweet chilli mayo dressing. The man-tou so crunchy you can hear it gently break. It’s flaky and oily that crumbles just as you bite into it. I had a porky face while checking out the mini burger and I give it a thumbs up!
Macanese style mini Pork Burger
Something about me and taking side shot photos of buns. Tehehe
Did I forget to mention Natalie Tran from Community Channel on YouTube decided to waste most of her evening with me on her birthday? I turned into a crude five year old when she turned around and said hi to me. Inappropriate behaviour and awkward conversation started and I sincerely apologised after. I guess trying to remove a drool from my face was harder than I thought when I was standing next to my favourite YouTube star.
Nessy Eater Girl with Natalie Tran from Community Channel.
Chefs Gallery is drawn on the four most traditional Chinese schools of cuisine: Sichuan, Guangdong, Shandon and Su. This restaurant features true Chinese dishes combined with a modern twist. The dining venue is casual, yet intimate in its structure. I can’t wait to revisit Chefs Gallery to properly try their memorable dishes and perhaps match it with a glass of wine.
Didn’t leave empty handed, received Chefs Gallery gift bag: $25 gift card, fortune cookies and pamphlet.
Photos by Vanny Tang
Disclaimer: Nessy Eater attended as a guest to Chefs Gallery (Metcentre) Opening thanks to Whiteworks Public Relations.
Opinions are however, Nessy Eater’s own.
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