Sydney

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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Swissotel Sydney Christmas Afternoon Tea Buffet

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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.

Swissotel Xmas HT_Nessy Eater (1)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.

Swissotel Xmas HT_Nessy Eater (2)Christmas pudding

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.

Swissotel Xmas HT_Nessy Eater (5)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.

Swissotel Xmas HT_Nessy Eater (6)Blackberry pavlova

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.

Swissotel Xmas HT_Nessy Eater (7)Eggnog shots

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.

Swissotel Xmas HT_Nessy Eater (8)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.

Swissotel Xmas HT_Nessy Eater (9)Strawberry 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.

Swissotel Xmas HT_Nessy Eater (10)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!

Swissotel Xmas HT_Nessy Eater (11)Chocolate fountain

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.

Swissotel Xmas HT_Nessy Eater (12)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.

Swissotel Xmas HT_Nessy Eater (13)Blueberry panna cotta

With our voucher package, we were treated with selections of tea or coffee. All teas are from T2.

Swissotel Xmas HT_Nessy Eater (14)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!

Swissotel Xmas HT_Nessy Eater (15)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.

Swissotel Xmas HT_Nessy Eater (3)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.

Swissotel Xmas HT_Nessy Eater (4)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.

Swissotel Xmas HT_Nessy Eater (16)Bitesize baguette

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.

Swissotel Xmas HT_Nessy Eater (17)Christmas profiteroles

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.

Swissotel Xmas HT_Nessy Eater (18)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.

Swissotel Xmas HT_Nessy Eater (19)Christmas macarons

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.

Swissotel Xmas HT_Nessy Eater (20)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…

Swissotel Xmas HT_Nessy Eater (21)Top view of spring berry tart

Photos by Vanny Tang

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Flew over to Cuckoo Callay’s Summer Nest

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Hello foodie friends!!! 😀 😀 😀

Some of you may or may not have noticed I haven’t been posting any of my food adventures on Nessy Eater Blog for the past month. I sincerely apologise. I’ve been receiving emails and been asked “Where is Nessy Eater?” or “When is Nessy Eater next posting?” Thank you for your concerns, we are gradually returning soon. Having Nessy Eater is almost as important as knowing my house keys are in my pocket, so FYI I won’t be leaving this blog anytime soon. Moving on I hope you brought your appetite along because this post has got a feast in store. Don’t panic if your belt has burst along the way, I’m sure somewhere down the road you’ll find it.

Man, it’s no secret that I lost the plot at Cuckoo Callay earlier this year and to be honest I lost the plot again, but this time a four legged creature had to join the party and witness my reaction as well. It is incredible this Modern Australian café in Newtown has gotten so much attention. Not because it is seconds away from Newtown Station, but their brunch menu has gotten people talking about it. Their trendy menu is proven to be unique for a lot of foodie friends, especially the #Hashtag Brown and with good reason Cuckoo Callay has decided to welcome the #Hashtag Browns 2.0.

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Cat fight started when the Salted Caramel Milkshake ($7) arrived looking super adorable in their coloured glass milk bottle. It was quickly demolished before our feast began. This salted caramel beverage will knock your socks off with a magical sweetness that is not overwhelming and it tastes indulgent with that subtle hint of saltiness.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (1)Salted Caramel Milkshake ($7) (Note: This is not the actual serving size.)

If you’re feeling a little bit cheeky during brunch hour, then Cuckoo Callay has got you covered with their cuckootails menu. The Bloody Cuckoo ($12) contains Vodka, tomato juice, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce and heavily garnished with slices of pickles, green olive and a strand of fresh celery. Now that girlfriend is how you kick start the day!

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (2)Bloody Cuckoo ($12)

Birdy Nom Nom (vegan) ($15) owned the stage when it arrived looking super healthy. Jam packed with coconut quinoa that looked like pearls of sago and date bircher, I think this is the simplest, yet most delicious and nutritious way to start the day. It’s also served with chunks of fresh mango and house made blood orange marmalade that totally looked like slices of red capsicum. The texture of this dish turns out light and chewy, however it leans towards a creamy like porridge consistency. The flavour of the coconut quinoa seduced me good…real good. It is a very super earthy dish for those who like it all natural.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (3)Birdy Nom Nom (vegan) ($15)

When I was a child, I remember fairy tales had happy endings and for Cinderella’s story if she didn’t leave the party before midnight, her carriage would turn back into a pumpkin. Well that’s just one side of the story, whereas Cuckoo Callay can argue Cinderella had to leave before midnight because she needed to prepare Cinderella’s Breakfast ($17) the next morning for Newtown commuters. Don’t expect the pumpkin to turn into a carriage as it will only be served as pumpkin fritters with house cured salmon, poached egg, house made basil pesto and fresh heirloom tomatoes. The fritter was bursting with intense flavours and alluring aromas of pumpkin scattered around Newtown station. You’ll lick your plate clean when you continue devouring the salmon and poached egg that had a sensational gooey texture. You won’t be able to resist not ordering this dish for summer because who isn’t a big fan of Cinderella? The only downfall about this dish is they didn’t offer a glass slipper…I really wanted to know if I was right for Prince Charming…Oh well! Maybe next time. Haha 😛

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (4)Cinderella’s Breakfast ($17)

If you have ever looked at an egg and thought, “HOT DAAMN chook, that looks good,” you should know that you are not alone my friend.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (5)Cinderella’s egg porn

Cuckoo Callay also have an extensive menu for the pets and their most popular pick is the pupachino ($3) that contain goat’s milk. We asked Ziggi to test it out for us and his response “I Woof-ing love it!”.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (6)Woof Woof Pet’s Menu at Cuckoo Callay

There were a lot of puparazzi watching Ziggi express his love for his pupachino. It’s impawsible not to grin when you see this furpaw dig his face into his beverage.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (7)Ziggi enjoying his Pupachino ($3)

My little foodie wildling came out when the Bubbles that Squeak ($18) arrived at our table. The bubble and squeak pattie tastes very much like mashed potato. The outside is almost a lovely golden brown, maybe just a bit over the golden colour but I avoided judging a book by its cover because it turned out amazingly delicious. The smell made it even more desirable to eat with the inside being it all spaghetti cabbage. EHRMAGHERD!!! And if you thought that pattie was good in your books…wait till you try their duck sausage served with house made chilli chutney and a poached egg. It’s not a party until the sausage comes out. From the first bite you’d know the sausage uses premium ingredients as it had its own flavours. It felt like meat candy to me because I may have had a few more slices than others…

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (8)Bubbles that Squeak ($18)

It was nice to meat you Black Forest Smokehouse duck sausage. I hope to see you again soon so we can catchup with the poached egg. Yes, it’s another one of those Instagram worthy videos of egg porn.

I thought it was fun to see a butterfly presentation in the Speedy Gonzalez ($18) or perhaps I was imaging things. Back to planet Earth and this dish includes two breakfast burritos with sliced chorizo, turtle bean relish, fried eggs, marinated avocado and sour cream & chive dressing. Now if that’s too hot for you to handle then Ziggi is more than happy to help you demolish the entire dish.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (9)Speedy Gonzalez ($18)

Oh no! I maybe now facing a prison sentence for showing you too much egg porn. For now I better end this egg porn business here and at an appropriate time show you some more soon.

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What also grabbed Ziggi’s attention and mine was the pupples ($2) served in a pink sterling silver bowl. I think when someone mentioned to me about the pupples biscuit I may have raised my hand for one. Excuse me while I woof-it-out with Ziggi…

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (11)Pupples ($2)

Can confirm Ziggi enjoyed his treats and got table service too. Now that is showing commitment to pets and pet owners. I give an extra brown point to Cuckoo Callay for that!

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (12)What did Ziggi think about those pupples? He said “I WOOF it!” 

Mary Had a Little Lamb lends itself to parody very well with one of Cuckoo Callay’s lamb dish- Beeting the Sheep ($19). This Lebanese inspired dish has got full flavours of Lebanese spices. It’s the curiosity that makes me want to know more about Mary’s little lamb. This dish includes slow cooked lamb in pastry served with goat’s curd, toasted pine nuts, pickled beetroot, radish and snow-pea tendrils salad. Embrace the madness of this lamb because not only is it tender but it’s quite homey and comforting. With the added crispy paper thin pastry, I was thoroughly entertained by this dish. The curd, nuts, relish and salad fit so well together that this dish was flawless.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (13)Beeting the Sheep ($19)

Was this the Best.Chips.Ever ($9)? Errrrr….well….err…I thought otherwise. I think it was the Best.Presenation.Ever because each chippie was MASSIVE, like MASSIVE! To compare the length of those chips, I’d say it’s the size of a highlighter but longer. Please note: there’s nothing sexual about this. No sexual connotation was involved! Teehee. Besides the length, the chips turned out to be not as crunchy as I pictured in my head, however the flavours were there.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (14)Best.Chips.Ever ($9)

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (15)Look at the size of this thang?!

Laughter is the best medicine, so is the Dr Salmon ($19) if you have a salmon fetish. This dish really has become one of my all time favourite. It consists of citrus cured salmon, black quinoa, avocado, fennel, blood orange, French radish and snow-pea tendrils with a lime and ginger dressing. The salmon had a refreshing citrus flavour and a pleasing red colour. Not only is this dish healthy but extremely versatile for summer brunch.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (16)Dr Salmon ($19)

I want to see you again Mother Ducker ($22) because I didn’t think it was physically possible for me to eat the green lentils, shallots and shaved asparagus all in the one plate. You should have seen the look of my eyes when the plate had vanished from my table. I was also blown away by the savoury pulled duck and poached egg with chilli jam. I really wanted to eat the desired amount however it wouldn’t be lady like of me…maybe next time.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (17)Mother Ducker ($22)

Do you want to build a Snowman in Summer ($16)? If you desire salad for lunch then this won’t disappoint your tastebuds. Generously served with marinated Dutch carrot salad with blanched kale, avocado, toasted pepitas and lemon yogurt dressing.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (18)Snowman in Summer ($16) 

There’s nothing more refreshing than a glass of Homemade Lemonade ($5) on a warm day during summer.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (19)Homemade Lemonade ($5)

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (20)Quirky interior design at Cuckoo Callay

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (21)Could Ziggi be the next Dogue model? This little fellow is such a poser!

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (22)Espresso with milk ($3.50)

For those with a sweet tooth the Berets, Stars & Stripes ($15) is the perfect  finish to a meal. This brioche French toast includes maple bacon, peanut caramel, whipped ricotta, cornflakes and maple syrup. I believe this will be another Instagram worthy dish that must be shared. The brioche is quite a flaky, buttery crust that crumbles just as you bite into it. As for that juicy strip of maple meat, well it was BACON ME CRAZY, even after I left the cafe. Overall owners Ella and Ibby have got my attention once again. They’ve transformed ordinary breakfast and lunch to something that’s Alice and Wonderland for Nessy Eater Girl. It is truly a cafe you wouldn’t want to miss in Newtown.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (23)Berets, Stars & Stripes ($15)

Photos by Vanny Tang

Disclaimer: Nessy Eater attended as a guest thanks to Wasamedia. Opinions are however, Nessy Eater’s own.

Check out my other Cuckoo Callay post I did. Click here.

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Behind-the-scenes look at Wonderland

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Last night FremantleMedia Australia was hosting an exciting event to celebrate the return of their Channel Ten drama Wonderland, starring Jessica Tovey, Tracey Mann, Glenn McMillan, Tim Ross, Brooke Satchwell, Ben Mingay and Logie-nominee Anna Bamford. I joined the cast for some drinks and canapés. I had a one on one set tour with Brooke, Jess and Tracey, where each celebrity showed me their own character’s world. For those who haven’t yet watched Wonderland, it focuses on four couples at different stages of life. The show lures you into all sorts of scenarios of love and friendship.

Wonderland

Wonderland cast

We had just enough time to make our way through each set. But before we get started, let the bartender’s refresh us with a glass of bubbly.

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Well hello there bartenders!

The show is very food-centric, with one of the recurring themes being a weekly cooking competition known as FAT Night (AKA Food Appreciation Time). What I like about FAT Night is that this show treats it as a “extreme sport”. Glenn McMillan mentions FAT Night can be quite chaotic as most of the characters are all in the one scene. There’s properly an average of 100 takes to shoot this scene. It means that the actors and actresses would  eat better food! This over eagerness to feed the cast does have its upsides, for example it brings people together. It doesn’t harm anyone if you are willing to give up a bit of online interaction for some more face-to-face connection.

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This is where FAT (AKA Food Appreciation Time) night happens.

We were encouraged to feed our stomach with ‘The Queen of Rice Paper Rolls’, Miss Chu’s catering. So much competition to grab a piece of skewer. YUM!

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 Satay chicken and beef from Miss Chu

Being the big kid at heart, I was so excited to start the tour when I first walked in. Jessica Tovey welcomed us by introducing her character Dani Varvaris and we landed in her world in Wonderland at her place. You may have recognised this photo in season 1 of Wonderland. If not, then here you go Wonderland Fans! You don’t need to thank me 😛

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 Guess who’s this couple from Wonderland?

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So much detail in Steve and Dani’s living room.

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 Steve and Dani’s kitchen

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 Guess which characters bedroom is this?

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 The famous Miranda Beaumont bathroom scene.

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Dani and Steve’s bedroom

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 Spotted on Steve and Dani’s fridge

There was no missed opportunity to see Maggie Wilcox home and who better to show me around. Duh! The actress who plays Maggie and that’s Tracey Mann. Tracey had something interesting to say about her acting as Maggie. When it came to filming Maggie, she mentioned it was important that she doesn’t just waffle around the living room and requested to extend the background. With the producers and script writers agreeing, they soon added Maggie’s kitchen.

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 Maggie Wilcox living room

You’ll never believe where this kitchen bench came from! For about $200 Australian Dollars, this beautiful retro bench was bought on Gumtree Australia. Tracey then discussed about the products that’s on the shelves and surprisingly most of the products have been donated. It was highly recommended not to eat any of the foods or use the bowls because majority of the items are for decoration purposes only.

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 Maggie Wilcox’s kitchen

We headed straight back to the main FAT kitchen scene for a preview screening of an upcoming episode of Wonderland and some behind the scene wardrobe with Brooke and Jessica. Did you know? The cast of Wonderland spend about 17 hours on set each day just for make-up and costume. That’s CRAZY!

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 Chilli prawn salad from Miss Chu

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 Mind-blown! There’s no natural sunlight. LOL

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 Dessert of the day from Miss Chu

This is one distinctive set background that convey the nuances of each and every character. It was such an honor to be standing there. This is the scene where Maggie usually has a deep and meaningful quick chat with other characters before she leaves the home.

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 Famous stair scene on Wonderland

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 Colette Riger and Rob Duffy’s home

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I bet you haven’t seen this before on Wonderland. (Colette Riger and Rob Duffy)

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Colette Riger and Rob Duffy’s bedroom

This is the genuine photo of the Wonderland apartment building. I’ve been told by the cast that it was challenging from a time perspective to recreate this apartment, particularly trying to film it from outside but it was creatively fun.

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 Image of Wonderland apartment

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The Wonderland hallway

It is important not only did Wonderland had to show each character’s individuality, but it’s essential how they relate to one another. Each place indicates the history of relationships and throughout the series a few items gets moved from one apartment to another.

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 Dani Varvaris and Steve Beaumont’s home

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 Spotted a photo of Jessica Tovey when she was young.

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  Dani and Steve’s photo on the fridge

There were lines of people eagerly trying to get a photo with the casts, and I took the Wonderland crew’s advice by inviting myself to them. Tracey Mann really needs no introduction to Wonderland series. She is of course the woman that plays Maggie Wilcox. It was a reward for Nessy Eater to be invited and get the opportunity to experience this Media City. Throughout the entire evening the crew of Wonderland encouraged us all to take photos and have a chat with the celebrities. With a smitten look on my face, you know I enjoyed my night at the set tour of Wonderland.

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 It’s Tracey Mann known as Maggie Wilcox on Wonderland.

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 Michael Dorman known as Tom Wilcox on Wonderland.

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 Glenn McMillan known as Carlos dos Santos on Wonderland.

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 Ben Mingay and Tim Ross just taking some fries from my iphone.

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Say hi to Les Hill.

I get a tap on my shoulder to take a CD home and what do we have here…the next episode of Wonderland and the special part is that it’s not released yet until this Wednesday. The less knowledge you know about this episode the better. I don’t want to spoil any Wonderland Fans, but if you must know…except some interesting news coming from Dani Varvaris.

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 Very lucky to be watching the next episode of Wonderland before it goes on air.

The show Wonderland sure share their knowledge about life and experiences between four couples, which inspire every day people. The show is not just about the food, it is about the people that they are with, the atmosphere that they create. The cast of Wonderland work very hard and they represent life values worth note taking. I truly admire the cast because every single one of them are so down to Earth! So tell me readers, would you be nervous meeting the Wonderland cast? And who would you be the most nervous to meet? For me, it was Jessica Tovey and Brooke Satchwell. 😀 :D<3

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Casually smiling with the Wonderland ladies plus Simone.

Photos by Vanny Tang

Disclaimer: Nessy Eater attended as a guest to the “Behind the Scenes-Wonderland”, thanks to Fremantle Media .

Opinions are however, Nessy Eater’s own.

Like to know more about Nessy Eater food adventures?

You can follow Nessy Eater on Instagram / Facebook / Twitter or feel free to leave a YUMMY comment 😀

Rabbit Hole – Cocktail Concepts & Culinary Craze

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Tucked away at the basement level and hidden quietly beneath Elizabeth Street in Sydney’s CBD, be sure to spot a pair of white ears. Rabbit Hole Bar & Dining is the ideal venue for impressive cocktails and artistic style are on show with each dish. The owner and cocktail specialist Dough Laming genuinely seem passionate about what they do here. Twenty food bloggers was invited to an evening of ‘Cocktail Concepts & Culinary Craze’. We were all very lucky to indulge in this first class French cuisine that was crafted by the Executive Chef Jeremy Metivier.

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 Nice decorations happening here at Rabbit Hole.

We were all greeted with a glass of Remy Martin VSOP with pomme verte, elderflower, strawberries and apple served champagne style. Without hesitation, this was a highly prized flavour for the ladies as it contains a small perception of sweetness.

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 Getting started with Champagne.

Extremely clever way of dressing the poached oyster is using green apple foam and liquid nitrogen kiwi spheres with ‘Magdalene’s Marvel’ and hidden beneath yuzu jelly. The form and spheres give it a unique richness of taste and flavours can be fully appreciated with the jelly.

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 Poached oyster with green apple foam liquid nitrogen kiwi spheres

Not long after, guests were seated in adjoining dining room for a degustation menu. It was lovely catching up with some bloggers and meeting new friendly faces.

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 What will we be having tonight?

Doug Laming presented a molecular cocktail with yellow Chartreuse and Blanco tequila. He specifically focussed on a very ground breaking technique called caviar spherification. They literally look like caviar-shaped balls and are formed from liquid. This mini sized cocktail was pretty remarkable. You’d sparkle and ooze out joy if you saw this in person. Firstly, embrace the madness of the caviar shaped balls that’s infused with alcohol. Then you got to let the grilled lime, agave, jalapeno and coriander express themselves. Can you feel it?

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 Caviar spherification

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 Grilled lime, agave, jalapeno and coriander with Chartreuse and tequila.

With the incredible presentation of the cocktail came with an exquisite starter dish –scampi with bloody Mary emulsion, coriander and tomato cous cous. The fleshy tail reminded me of a lobster and is closer in both taste and texture. I was genuinely entertained by this dish because the coriander droplets was frozen when it arrived to our table and then slowly melted. Turning it into a nice sauce. For the crispy legs with ‘Ay Caramba’ I was so jittery because it was perfectly golden and had a nice crunch. The cous cous matched perfectly with the bloody Mary and scampi pieces as it introduced a whole new savoury flavour.

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 Scampi with bloody Mary emulsion, coriander and tomato cous cous

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 Them legs!

It’s the curiosity that makes me want to know more about the white chocolate ball. At first I thought it was sea urchin due to the looks of it. Excuse Me Waiter and I couldn’t put our finger on it with the flavour but it was familiar like lemon. When Doug told us that inside the white chocolate contained lemon curd and prawn, we were surprised. The flavour did seduce us and it was quite creamy.

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 White chocolate ball with lemon curd and prawn.

There’s a reason why Rabbit Hole Bar & Dining is talk of the town when it comes to their cocktails and I can finally see why. When Doug presented a theatrical liquid nitrogen mojito air as our palate Cleanser, all my emotions were mixed together. I think I have 50 million photos of him entertaining us on my camera. It’s more than you should have of your own stuffed toys.

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 A lot of liquid nitrogen for everyone.

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 Shaping the mojito air into balls.

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 Carefully finding the mojito balls.

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 Scooping the mojito airs to serve.

My gigantic mouth looked like it devoured an elephant in one bite with this mojito air. It was very refreshing as if I was like eating clouds mixed with marshmallow. The flavours are noticeable and spot on to the point you’d think you’re throwing a mojito party in your mouth.

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 Mojito Air

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 Nice and cloudy with a hint of marshmallow texture.

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 Couldn’t help but squeeze in another photo. 

For the most tender, juicy and succulent meat, the glazed pork belly with droplets of butter bean puree, sliced radish, pickled carrots and passionfruit with ‘The Rabbit Hole, White Negroni’ is a must have. Emotion flooded my heart when I slowed made a sharp cut to my piece of meat. The sweet flavour was ridiculously infectious along with the puree.

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  Glazed pork belly

I tried to save my passionfruit so I could properly get a selfie for it. It had passion alright and somehow the texture felt and tasted like rice paper. I think this could be the next healthy snack food for me.

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  Papper thin passionfruit

A trendy drink lately is the ‘Rabbit Hole redistilled bitter lemon gin’ with No. 3 Gin, Solerno blood orange served short on an ice sphere containing a lily. I had pleasure sipping this, though some people pointed out it was a tad strong for them but I manned up and still finished the whole thing. Who are we kidding, this cocktail is disguised for a female drink, but really it’s more suitable for the gents because it’s strong aroma of gin.

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 Rabbit Hole redistilled bitter lemon gin

You’re looking great there spherical gnocchi of mascarpone and savarin, black cardamom and mushroom consommé with ‘Rosemary’s got the Blues’. When I first came across this impeccable dish, I was utterly shocked at how well-presented the gnocchi looked. The comforting flavours and textures of the mushroom consommé is a real winner. This extra special cosy course reminded me of my mother’s homemade herbal soup. It has clean, deep flavour that’s dangerously addictive. I absolutely adore the gnocchi, it’s a very scientific kind of dish in my eyes because the outer layer is see-through.

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 Spherical gnocchi of mascarpone and savarin

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 It’s not your ordinary gnocchi.

As you slowly take your first bite of the gnocchi, be prepared for the creamy mascarpone and savarin to ooze out. Extravaganza!

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 Interesting gnocchi.

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 So does that mean you’re good to go?

You know what would be good? The Bowmore 12yr made with rosemary syrup, fresh pressed blueberries, apple and malic acid served cocktail style. It’s a great beautiful winter cocktail that’s a mix of something classic. A drink everyone will enjoy as it tastes and is a sophisticated beverage.

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 I call it the girly cocktail.

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What could this be?

I can’t explain to you, how much I love the way this fireball whisky made with ‘Rabbit Hole’ coffee liquor, vanilla and chocolate bitters served as a bitter foam inside gold edible glass was incredibly interesting. I’m sure those fancy ladies would thoroughly enjoy this dessert, not because it’s gold but the foam is amazingly smooth with that coffee kick.

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 Fireball whisky

Can someone babysit my full belly whilst I eat the toffee apple sugar sphere made with cinnamon foam, almond nougat and apple with ‘Wonka’s Wasted’. This has got to be the unhealthiest apple I’ve eaten this year. Nothing beats the crunch of this sphere on a crisp winter evening. The taste so much better than ordinary candy apple. When the waitress delivered 5 of these apples to our table, I honestly felt like Doug and Jeremy has tricked me to eat this delicious red candy apple. Luckily they’re not the wicked stepmother, nor am I Snow White.  How is it humanly possible to whip up twenty of these?

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 Definitely not Snow Whites apple.

It’s seriously one of my favourite candy pieces and it offers a truly unique sensational taste as well. To overcome the sweetness, keep dunking it with the crumbled nougat and apple pieces along with the foam. When no one was watching, I legitimately crammed everything into my mouth.

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 Look at that crack! 

You can really appreciate an excellent cocktail at the Rabbit Hole Bar & Dining. Beautifully presented dishes is heavily influenced by French cuisine and the quality of the food, tasted amazing. This unique venue is a favourite and I can’t wait to return for some crazy cocktails and desserts. The desserts seriously looks epic in person.

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Photos by Vanny Tang

Disclaimer: Nessy Eater attended as a guest to Rabbit Hole Online Influencer Dinner, thanks to Pendulum Communications.

Opinions are however, Nessy Eater’s own.

Like to know more about Nessy Eater food adventures?

You can follow Nessy Eater on Instagram / Facebook / Twitter or feel free to leave a YUMMY comment 😀

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