Monday, 21 October 2013

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Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Snapshots from the National Multicultural Festival 2013 - Canberra

I loooove the Multicultural Festival (one of the best things about Canberra!) and basically spend my whole weekend there every time it comes around. This year was no different...

Friday night

A friend introduced me to 'Otai' (a refreshing Tongan drink with coconut cream/milk, pineapple pieces, watermelon pieces, sugar and water) ($5 per cup) at last year's Multicultural Festival. It was so good that I had to have it again this year!!

We had never tried Yemen food before so decided to give it a go! (despite the massive queues)

After much deliberation, I settled on the 'Yaman Style' ($10) - Mellawach rolled with puree tomato (it was actually more like a tomato salsa), boiled free range egg, fetta and ricotta cheese, olive oil, zatar (mixed herbs and sesame seeds), zhug (mix of coriander, chilli, garlic, olive oil, spices).

The crunchy and flaky roti-like pastry went so well with the delicious fillings. It was a match made in heaven.

We also decided to share a 'Yaman Super Sweet' ($12) - Mellawach rolled with banana, caramel, chocolate and coconut flakes...

It was finger-lickingly good. Napkins highly recommended!

Being allergic to coriander, my friend got a 'Mellawach Plate' ($13) - Mellawach stuffed with spinach, fetta and ricotta cheese, olive oil and zatar. Served with puree tomato, zhug and boiled free range egg on the side.

Below is a snap taken while we were enjoying some live music. I didn't blink an eyelid when the mother hoisted her son up onto her shoulders (so he could watch the band playing). But I was amazed when the dad swiftly did the same thing!

Saturday afternoon

Incredibly flavoursome German sausage ($7) from the WunderBar stand...

And from the stand next door, we sampled the Turkish Gozleme ($10) (hand-rolled pastry filled with mince meat, spinach and feta cheese, cooked over a griddle)...

Sunday afternoon

Couldn't go past the Kransky on a stick ($5). I didn't manage to get a photo of it, but the Vienna sausage with mustard ($5) was fantastic too.

I had a bit of a sweet craving and had been scouring the whole festival for the Polish stand to get a paczki. But alas, they must have sold out and packed off.

But then I came across a Turkish dessert stand and locked eyes on these...

Very similar to the Greek 'loukoumades', the Turkish 'lokma' are also balls of deep fried dough soaked in honey syrup. When you bite into these bite-sized morsels, honey syrup will explode in your mouth!

Who else is already counting down the days for next year's festival?!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Ricardo's Cafe - Jamison, Canberra

In case you've been wondering, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth! (Work, uni, social life etc have all been crying out for attention lately.) But I have exciting news...I've been working on a new website for the blog! Hooray! You will be the first to know when it's up and running.

Enough rambling, back to more important matters.

Ricardo's Cafe is one of my favourite cafes in Canberra and I highly recommend it! Located in Jamison Centre, Ricardo's is perfect for a casual brunch, a cake and a coffee, or something fancier like high tea. And don't get me started on their macarons...

Order the eggs benedict when you go for breakfast, you won't regret it. Poached free-range eggs with deliciously creamy hollandaise sauce, smoked salmon and spinach balanced atop squares of toasted focaccia brushed with butter. Perfection on a plate.

Of course, the cake display was annoyingly distracting...

So I decided to round up some recruits and come back for high tea ($35 per person).

The tower of goodies included an assortment of different-flavoured macarons – bubblegum, jaffa, chocolate, salted caramel, cherry ripe, pistachio, lemon, blueberry, strawberry, and peanut. Someone in the kitchen needs a calculator though, as unfortunately, two in our group missed out on a macaron each. (Wouldn't want a macaron-induced kerfuffle to break out in the middle of the cafe, now would we??)

Chocolate sponge, coconut dacquoise, chocolate ganache and mocha cream made up the opera cake below. The sponge could have been a bit more moist but I loved the coconut dacquoise layer.

The swan was a French choux pastry filled with cream patisserie, custard and strawberries. The custard was silky and delicious...

The shape of the apple cheesecake is adorable! And the apple and cinnamon crumble centre gave a surprising texture element to the cake.

The gold mousse cake (chocolate mousse, pistachio and raspberry cream wrapped in gold nuts) was particularly memorable due to the unique flavour of the cream, which may not be suited to all tastebuds.

The caramel praline mousse cake was my favourite. The delightful hazelnut-flavoured mousse was wrapped in almond sponge, and topped with almond praline. The mousse had body, but managed to be light and fluffy as well.

The blueberry scones were served with delicious strawberry jam and cream in mini cappucino mugs.

The smoked salmon sandwich had generous slices of the key ingredient. The cucumber slices were nice and crunchy, and the smear of cream cheese was just enough, not overpowering.

The egg salad sandwich was made with free-range egg mayonnaise, and the alfalfa sprouts lent freshness to the sandwich. I did, unfortunately, find a small piece of eggshell in one of my sandwiches!

Two rounds of tea or coffee are included in the high tea package. I ordered the Gorgeous Geisha tea (strong and sweet tea with a hint of strawberries) and I wasn't disappointed.

The service during high tea was friendly and our waiter introduced the items on the stands one by one. But our drinks didn't come out quite fast enough, with some waiting a fair while.

Ricardo’s requires you to provide final numbers 48 hours in advance. As the cakes are made specially to order, if there are any no shows on the day, you may get charged for that person (as the food has already been prepared).

For more food porn, check out Ricardo's gallery of photos on their website.

Ricardo’S Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 13 December 2012

哈瓦納 Havana Steak and Pasta - Taoyuan, Taiwan

Address: 桃園市自強路171號(青溪國小正對面)
Phone: 03-3470920

Today, I ordered the Spaghetti with Seafood and Cream Sauce (as a meal). The spaghetti by itself is NT$180 (approx AUD$5.90). But if you pay NT$260 (approx AUD$8.50) for the set meal, as well as the main, you also get a bowl of soup + a side salad + a drink + fruit for dessert (for an extra NT$20, you can upgrade to a slice of cake).

We began with a creamy, yet light and flavourful vegetable soup.

Next came a refreshing salad of lettuce sprinkled with nuts, raisins and a drizzle of thousand island dressing.

I hardly ever say this, but the dish tasted every bit as good as it looks in the photo! The spaghetti was not overcooked and neither was the seafood, of which there was a generous amount (it was all hidden under the spaghetti!). Ribbons of carrot and green capsicum added freshness and a summer-like feel to the dish. The sauce was creamy but not at all cloying. The delicate flavours infused into the sauce complemented the overall lightness of the dish.

In Taiwan, when you order a set meal, drinks come after you have finished your main. I had a cold milk tea. Two people in my party were sharing a set meal and the wait staff were nice enough to let both have a drink each :)

Well-picked fruit was the perfect way to end a fantastic meal. A special note on oranges in Taiwan. This may sound weird, but if you are ever in Taiwan, try an orange. It will change your life and you won't be able to stop at just one. The Taiwanese orange is the reason why I don't ever buy Australian oranges :P

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

極品軒 Ji Pin Xuan - Taipei

I'm currently holidaying in Taiwan and thought I'd take this opportunity to showcase the fantastic food Taiwan has to offer. :)

First up - 極品軒 (Ji Pin Xuan) in ZhongZheng District in Taipei City. The interior was lovely.

The main event was the 烤方 House Special Roast Meat (small) NT$418. (Approx AUD$13.70)

This is a very rich and flavourful braised pork belly dish. It was accompanied by a plate of sliced buns. When a piece of pork belly is placed between two flaps of bun, this is what the Taiwanese call, "虎咬豬" (Ho ka ti) translated as "Tiger bites pig". The pork meat was succulent, the fat was deliciously oozy and the skin was tender, yet had a slight give to it. The perfectly balanced sauce was thick and indulgent - a delicious rice puller!

We couldn't not order a tray of 小籠湯包 (soup dumplings), as made famous by Taiwan's 鼎泰豐 Din Tai Fung restaurant.

The pot on the left contained some cooking oil, which was added to the dish on the right (清炒鱔魚 Stir Fried Eel NT$428) at the table while it was still hot. The wait staff then stirred the dish to evenly distribute the oil, which released delicious aromas.

We also ordered Braised Bean Curd in Brown Sauce and Clam Soup. I can't remember what the fish dish was called, but the sauce was incredible and the whole fish had been braised and slow cooked for so long that you could eat every part of the fish - even the bones! At the end of the meal, we were each given a complimentary bowl of sweet red bean soup :)

Address: 台北市衡陽路18號

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Wednesday night ribs @ Legends in Manuka, Canberra

Have you got 20 bucks to spend for dinner? Do you like ribs? If you answered yes to both questions, then you need to do yourself a favour and get yourself to Legends for their Wednesday night ribs. It will be the best $20 you’ve ever spent on a meal in Canberra. I’m not even kidding. But don’t forget to book and let them know you’ll be ordering ribs when you book. They only make a limited amount.

When the wait staff came round to take our orders, I ordered ribs and was horrified when she told me she’d have to check if there were any left. It wasn’t even 7:30pm and the place was half empty! I would have gone home and cried if they’d said they were out. Luckily, the person who had booked our table had also pre-booked our ribs. Huzzah!!!

They say ribs are best eaten without cutlery. After tonight’s experience, I beg to differ. The meat was so succulent and tender that it was IMPOSSIBLE to eat it without cutlery! I didn’t even need to use a steak knife – a slight jab with the fork and the meat literally fell off the bone.

Right, onto the hero of the dish – the sauce. After one bite, a friend proclaimed matter-of-factly, “This sauce is my new happy place”. Someone else said this was a way of eating sauce. I agreed with everyone’s assessment of the sauce; it was spectacularly well-balanced between sweet, sour, tangy, smokey flavours. The meat was simply a (delicious) vehicle for the perfect barbeque sauce.

To be honest, I was a bit too caught up having a magical moment with the delicious ribs to care much about what else was on the plate. Legends was very generous with the amount of chips and salad. I know this because every time I moved anything on my plate, a bit more salad fell onto the table.

My one critique in an otherwise superb dinner was that the amount of ribs per plate was not the same for each person. In a party of 7, most people (like me) received a decent portion of ribs, however, not all of us were as fortunate. Also, it was a bit tricky to make eye contact with wait staff as it was a fairly busy night for a Wednesday (the tables had filled up by then); however, we never had to ask for our bottles of water to be replaced, which was a pleasant surprise.

I hate to tantalise and leave you hanging but unfortunately, Legends does not do their weeknight specials in the month of December, which means I only just sneaked in for the last ribs night for 2012. Luckily for you, they open again first thing in the new year on 2 January 2013!

Food Avenue rating: 9/10

For my review on other dishes at Legends (including their tapas and paella), click here.

Legends on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Smoque (Southern American BBQ) - Civic

Smoque has only just recently opened in Canberra and is pulling the crowds that its predecessors (Antigo’s and Pelagic) never did. Loyal repeat customers have been raving about the food like it’s the best thing since sliced bread.