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 not every day you hear miracle stories such as the ability to overcome a life stopping and threatening disease called Scleroderma. It was the presence of her unexpected third child that gave her the strength and love to fight through this rare disease. Katze, the owner of Four Friends Cafe, who before opened an organic cafe in Artarmon for over five years decided to shift to something much more sweeter, handmade chocolates after surviving Scleroderma.
What is different about Four Friends Cafe and the rest of the chocolate shops? Well, from a traditional Buddhist story about four animals (elephant, bird, monkey and bird) that shares a common interest in working harmoniously together towards a happier life. Katze recommends not eating sweets every day, but making time to put a bit of sweetness in your life once or twice a week. Overtime Katze has learnt to be an enthusiast of natural ingredients and organic growing products such as Fair Trade Cacao. She personally enjoys local goods as she has learnt to support small businesses during her struggle with her illness.
Mighty Tall Macaron tower
Staying true to her values to organic ingredients, this self-taught chocolatier makes everything in her tiny kitchen using the finest ingredients, even though shelf life is short, however her determination is what makes Four Friends Cafe. It is upsetting Katze mentions how some people believe her products are not genuine Belgium chocolate and instantly assume her handcrafted chocolates are made from China because Katze is from a Chinese background, therefore less likely to purchase. It’s hard enough for a small business to keep running these days due to economy but to add discrimination and negativity, that’s SOOOO WRONG. It is disappointing there is humans out there who jump into conclusion without giving it a try first. Luckily, Katze managed to turn my frown upside-down by telling me about a 89 year old lady who caught 2 buses on a rainy day just to visit Four Friends after reading an article in the local paper.
Did someone say CHO-COLATE?
This year for Christmas, Four Friends Cafe has announced they will be donating chocolates to 4 shelter homes. Though Katze really REALLY wish that one day she can donate to every single homeless homes and I wish the best of luck in accomplishing this goal.
Organic Tea Leaves can be purchased in individual jars at Four Friends.
Display of Organic Tea Leaves
Round #2 of Organic Tea Leaves Display
Berry Fairy Teapot suppose to be served hot, but the sun blasting its shine that day. So the lady suggested she can serve my teapot with ice. MY OH MY! There is an EXPLOSION of BERRIES in this teapot. This is a well -balanced drink that truly refreshes.
Ice Berry Fairy Teapot ($4.50)
Hot Rose Teapot ($4.50)
This delightful The Planet Tasting Plate ($28) including a pot of tea is completely OUT OF THIS WORLD, no doubt a generous tasting plate for one. Yes, for ONE PERSON. It offers 11 bite-size sweets including:
- Green Tea Pistachio cake
- Cherry Pistachio tart
- Popping Kitty chocolate
- Almond Truffles
- Coffee Puff
- Chocolate Mousse with Hazelnut
- Liquorice Macaron
- Dark Chocolate Macaron
- Almond Caramel with Coco Dust
- Gingerbread Chocolate
- Blackcurrant Macaron
The Planet Tasting Plate ($28) including a pot of tea
This plate is perfect addition to your sweet tooth list as it contains only the finest and freshest organic ingredients with a HUGE hint of sweetness. Katze tells me The Planet Tasting Plate represents a multicultural partnership and to positively get along with one another because we all in ONE UNIVERSE. Let’s start with Chocolate Mousse with Hazelnut – This mousse sure shows the meaning of the word nutty. You have to experience the unforgettable combination of chocolate and hazelnut. Its a sweet treat that can truly go along with a cup of coffee or tea.
When I first laid eyes on the Liquorice Macaron, I was very skeptical and I already pictured in my mind that this wasn’t going to disappointing for my tastebuds as I am not a huge fan of liquorice. Boy I would of been a sore loser if I hadn’t give this a go. Let me tell you this silver glittery coated liquorice macaron was the ONLY LIQUORICE I’ve EVER FINISHED. It’s odd to believe I’ve become a fan of a good liquoirice macaron. The liquoirice flavour isn’t overwhelming and contains plenty PLENTY of sweetness. I personally LOVE the presentation as it contains silver GLITTER.
For the classic, the Dark Chocolate Macaron is always a sensational flavour that can never go wrong. A smooth rich ganache filling which is made with the finest Belgium ingredients. Now moving on to something fruity is the Blackcurrant Macaron – Flavours of blackcurrant take center stage in this creation.
When I started diving my fork into the Green Tea Pistachio cake, Katze jokingly tells me how another blogger described this cake to be a smooth soft souffle and let me just point out, it is not soft. Because of the premium flour she uses, this cake’s texture crumbles. If you are a green tea enthusiast, like me, you’ll relish every spoonful with intense flavour of green tea bursting out. In between the impeccable taste of this cake, a crunch you will look forward too is the pistachio.
Green Tea Pistachio cake
Coffee Puff-A light puff pastry crust is filled with flavourful pipped swirls of coffee cream.
I wanted to savor every bite of my Almond Truffles – A nutty kind of treat that can make you go instantly NUTS on your first bite. FYI, every single almond piece is covered chocolate truffle.
ALMONDS gone wild! This Almond Caramel is HEAVILY dusted with Coco and is a perfect triumvirate of flavours.
Almond Caramel with Coco dust
When I first saw the Popping Kitty, this automatically reminded me of Maneki-neko aka lucky cat figurine, however this one is completely edible. Teehee. I highly recommend you to eat this last as it comes with a twisted surprise. I can really detect the chocolaty flavours as well as the fizzy fireworks that constantly pops every single second in my mouth. A winning treat of mine as it reminds me of back in the days…Wizz Fizz Sherbet Candy use to be a popular demand in the 90’s. Next an interesting take on Ginger Bread chocolate entails a taste you’ll have to try to believe with a unique flavour of gingerbread and chocolate experience. To celebrate Christmas, the chocolate on top stamped with printed Santa Clause.
Popping Kitty and Ginger Bread chocolate
Popping Kitty’s back
Wasn’t so much a fan of Cherry Pistachio tart as I believed it to be a tad sour however fresh cherry flaours accented by accents of cherry and a buttery shortbread biscuit base with sprinkles of pistachio on top.
Cherry Pistachio tart
I have yet to try the Head Barista Jimmy coffees, who earlier this year won 3rd place in Pura Dairy Famers Latte Art Championships. I am extremely keen on what kind of art will be presented to me.
Inspirational things I’ve taken away from chatting with Katze, the owner of Four Friends :
- Enjoy every moment of your life and be grateful about it
- Support small businesses, you’ll be surprised what they offer
- Slow down and take things one step at a time
- Appreciate what is in your food and go for organic
Have a sweet tooth after reading this? Why not drop by Four Friends to relax over a cup of tea and before I forget, CHOCOLATE.
Photos by Vanny Tang
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God must be a food blogger when the Sydney Food Bloggers 5th Christmas Picnic 2013 event started to take place at Centennial Park and just 2 hours before the event occurred, it was raining cats and dogs, incoming thunder, lighting and a warning of hailstones. Where was I in those 2 hours? Boarding a 3.5 hours delayed plane from Melbourne. I was feeling very helpless and agitated whether to skip my flight or not. The only useful thing I could do was stare at the cloudy skies and hope, really hope, the sunshine would chase those winter blues away.
5 MINTUES TO GO before boarding and I was constantly texting and Facebook chatting to see if any recent announcements were made. Nothing. OH-NO! What was I going to do??? Luckily, I was determined to still go ahead even if it was a rainy day of fun.
Fast-forward 1.5hrs, I landed on Sydney soil with my two feet and the first sign of weather I witnessed and felt were sweet, springtime breezes. I paused and questioned myself, if I read the messages incorrectly that Mother Nature planned to have a go of taking in the beauty of the season?
After a 30 minute taxi ride I saw a landscape of bare trees and golden brown leaves that became my home for next few hours. I admit I was pretty shy like a zebra without stripes whilst walking towards a huge group of 71
strangers food bloggers that I never met in my entire life.
Thank heavens Suze from ChocolateSuze comes in my direction and screams out “I love your minion phone cover”. *Phew* that was the best start up conversation I’ve ever encountered. 😛 And thanks to minion Phil for being my Iphone cover.
After a few mintues of mingling and meeting the one and only Helen from Grab your Fork. And AND food-porning with phones and cameras, it was time to hunt for FOOD!!!
Let the Sydney Food Bloggers Christmas Picnic BEGIN!!! 😀 😀 😀 And if you think that wasn’t enough for a food blogger? Then…
I guess GIGANTIC pieces of Mr. Crackles Pork Crackling sure made its way to the WORLD’S BIGGEST BOX OF CRACKLES.
ENORMOUS Sheets of Pork Crackling by Mr Crackles. Total weighing of TWENTY-FIVE KILOGRAMS.
You heard me 25KGS !!!
How did Helen and Suze managed to lift 25kgs of pork crackling, I wonder? Well, nothing is impossible when it comes to food 😛
Here’s just a tiny selection of the delicious food that WILL tempt your taste buds:
Santa Deco-Roll by Absolutely Ayana
Vegetarian Marshmallow with Chocolate Crackle and Milo by Spoonfuls of Goodness
Pesto and Tomato Puffs by The Adventures of Miss Piggy
Pineapple and Coconut Cupcakes by Love Swah
Deep Fried Brie by The Heart of Food Wait what? Deep fried CHEESE?! OH YES PLEASE!
Cheese Pizza by Next Stop: Food
Homemade bread wreath with seeds by Crunchy Tiger
Oh no, I forgot to take a quick snap of what I brought to the picnic. Luckily, thanks to Simon from Simon Food Favourites he captured my Krispy Kreme Xmas Theme Donuts
Pork & Fennel Sausage Rolls by The Lamstock
Rice paper rolls with fried tofu and roast chicken by Food is Our Religion
Lemper by Irene’s Getting Fat
It may just look like a ordinary pillow sticky rice ball hugged by a banana leaf but it’s Irene’s from Irenes Getting Fat that introduced this Lemper to me and I have to confess you’ll die and go to heaven with every single bite.
Photo credit to Amy from Milkteaxx for capturing my moment with Lemper. Teehee. Oh yes, my leg flicked up in the air as I NABBED the LAST LEMPER that day. :p
Besides a generous banquet of food that the waterproof tents hosted for us food bloggers, I had the opportunity to try Simon’s super duper popular pop up bar. He is one handsome photogenic guy. ;P
Grapefruit and ginger fizzy and mint & lavender lemonade by The Littlest Anchovy
Simon double shot my Pink Tonic Lemonade
Mangomisu by Soft & Stiff Peaks
So lucky I grabbed a mangomisu before it was too late.
Insanely clever idea of not just eating mangoes alone.
Kris Kringle time! But this one was slightly special and involved an EVIL SANTA. Mmuahahaha!!! For Billy from A Table for Two he pretty much unwrapped 3 presents within 10 minutes.
Before the Kris Kringle had finished, I
stole asked Helen’s Desobry chocolate biscuit tin box because an evil elf had stolen my red 3 tier cupcake stand, also I had to leave ASAP to catch my next plane back to Melbourne to continue my food adventures. I am certainly glad this was the end result! Thanks to Sherrie from Crystal Noir 🙂
*Faints* It’s It’s…Billy Law, contestant on MasterChef Australia 2011.
I pinched my chubby cheecks a few times before taking a photo with Chocolatesuze . She is REAL! 😀 😀 😀
Three Cracked Heads. Hahaha
And if you haven’t seen this on my Instagram, I covered a JUMBO sheet of pork crackle over my head just in case it started to sprinkle but I can happily say I managed to stay super dry. Thanks Mr Crackles!
I certainly didn’t go home feeling hungry or disappointed as Suze insisted ALL of us to take away a pork crackle. Off course I’d go for the biggest piece. 😛 Mr Pork Crackle I’ve been head over heels for you since we made contact. It puts a twinkle in my eye and a smile in my heart when I devour you.
In a weather nutshell, the Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas Picnic 2013 was an awesome memorable fairy food-tale experience I will NEVER EVER EVER forget. I am now currently counting down the days to next year’s Christmas picnic already!
Big shout out to Helen and Suze for organising this fantastic picnic. You guys FOODIE-ROCK! 😀 😀 😀
Photos by Vanny Tang unless otherwise stated .
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