Category Archives: French

Porkfest Cooking Class at Restaurant Atelier, Glebe

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door.
You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
Bilbo Baggins

That Lord of the Rings quote pops into my head when I pause the day for a moment, and realise we’re already at the start of August 2012. How did we get here so fast?! I feel like I’ve been swept through this year, and I need to press pause on the clock while I find my own feet.

The first half of this year has been so busy because, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned at least once, we moved into our apartment in March. Most other parts of my life took a backseat to the stress of exchanging contracts just days before last Christmas, waiting 3 months for settlement, finding our routine in mortgage world, and making our new place a home. But we are loving it here!

I have also been far more budget-conscious this year, and am therefore dining out less. However, I’ve still dined in some wonderful restaurants… I just haven’t blogged them. My mind has been focused on home, and I have been focused on recipe posts.

It was only after I’d looked back through my small number of blog posts this year, that I realised I’d only written one post about a restaurant. One restaurant post in six months, and that one post was about our anniversary from October last year. Shocking.

I’d like to amend this blogging oversight immediately, as I have experienced some wonderful dining out experiences lately; starting with a pork cooking class and lunch at Restaurant Atelier.

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Filed under Classes, Eating Out, Fine Dining, French, Pork, Recipes

Muse Restaurant & Cafe, and Muse Kitchen, Hunter Valley

Hunter ValleyOur ‘Cottage on Mount View’, and a scene from Jazz in the Vines (bottom right)

For our first wedding anniversary Paul and I returned to the Hunter Valley, and to the restaurant where we were married. This trip was back on weekend of October 30 last year, so I am very late in posting this but it was too good to discard.

We stayed for 3 nights at Cottages on Mount View, around 15 minutes drive from the centre of Pokolbin. Mount View is accessed by high, narrow, country roads, which had me gripping to my seat in fear for the first couple of drives up and down (I’m scared of heights).

Once we were in Mount View though, the serenity was beautiful. At home we live under the sound of loud planes taking off, and trucks (which I call Optimus Prime due to the volume of their noise) rattling past our house. At Mount View there was the peace of quiet, interspersed with the tranquil sound of native birds chirping.

I love living in the city, but as I’ve said before, I love escaping to the serene Hunter.

Our itinerary was simple: arrive Friday afternoon/evening, celebrate with dinner at Muse Restaurant & Cafe on Friday night, spend Saturday at Jazz in the Vines, do whatever we felt like on Sunday (our anniversary), and return home on Monday.

This is our food story of that weekend, at Muse Restaurant & Cafe, and Muse Kitchen…

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Filed under Cafe, Eating Out, European, Fine Dining, French, Hunter Valley, Lunch, Modern Australian

Becasse Restaurant, CBD

“You know, since we’re having a degustation, you won’t need to wait to eat while I take photos because we’re eating the same thing!” I said to Paul. He replied happily “YES!” ;)

We had just arrived at Becasse for dinner on my birthday – I had read the menu on their website, and it sounded so good that as my birthday present from Paul, I asked for us to go for dinner: the 8-course degustation. We had only been to a Two-Hat restaurant once before (Rockpool Bar & Grill) so we were really looking forward to the experience. This was my 3rd Justin North experience – starting ages ago with the famed Plan B wagyu beef burger, then Etch, and finally, Becasse! The restaurant is dimly lit and very romantic. I noticed a few tables near us seemed to be on dates or celebrating anniversaries; and a few other tables were also taking photos of their food ;)

The degustation is available with ($190pp) or without matching wines ($130pp). We decided to go without, and ordered a bottle of wine to share from the menu (a lovely 2009 Italo Cescon Pinot Grigio, $60). The only other decision you need to make is between 2 savoury courses and 2 dessert courses – so we chose 1 of each.

I’m not going to go into detail about each course, because everything really was exceptional. I was going to write my highlights of the dinner, but really, I couldn’t choose! It was an experience like nothing we’ve had before. All of the dishes were visually stunning and elegant, and the flavours were complex. To be honest, I wouldn’t even know where to begin trying to describe the food in detail - the techniques are way beyond me haha. The service throughout the evening was also wonderful. We loved it all!

After 6 years at Clarence Street (which was after 4 years in the former Surry Hills site), Becasse is closing in April, and reopening as a 25-seat restaurant in Westfield Sydney, so get there quick!

Do you have a favourite restaurant experience?

Canapé, black olive biscotti and whipped goat’s curd

A selection of breads with: butter whipped with pig’s fat (I’m sure they had a nicer way of saying it, but that’s what I remember), and olive oil emulsion with black volcanic salt

Amuse bouche

The prettiest presentation ever – like a bright, delicate garden on the plate: Salad of marinated heirloom vegetables, sugar snap mousseline, black olive and lemon balm

Marinated yellowfin tuna and shaved organic Wagyu beef, white asparagus, mushroom and chilled consommé

Confit miso blue-eye and smoked scallop, sautéed cuttlefish, cauliflower and buckwheat

Roast Palmers Island mulloway, king prawns, soubise purée and smoked crustacea emulsion

Oops, see the empty spot on the left? I started eating before I took a photo! Caramelised suckling pig and braised pork tail, roast parsnip and compressed apple

Slow cooked ballotine of guinea fowl, baby gem, almond, olive and lemon pith puree

Pot-roasted shoulder and fillet of Riverina lamb, goats’ curd, broad beans, confit garlic and rosemary

Isn’t that sweet? They wrote ‘Happy Birthday’ in chocolate! :D Buttermilk pannacotta, coriander, pain d’epice, pineapple granita

Such a unique presentation for a crème brulée and amazing flavours: Banana crème brulée, salted peanut brittle and milk coffee sorbet

Zokoko 70% Bolivia chocolate and caramel ‘cadeau’, organic vanilla and milk sorbet

Becasse Restaurant

Opening hours:
Monday – Friday lunch from 12:00pm – 2:30pm
Monday – Saturday dinner from 6:00pm – 10:30pm
Contact details:
204 Clarence Street, Sydney
Phone: +61 2 9283 3440

Becasse on Urbanspoon


Filed under Eating Out, Fine Dining, French, Hatted Restaurants, Two Hats

Taste on Sussex Lane, CBD

I’d always thought of myself as someone who doesn’t like attention. This must be wrong. Because when it comes to my birthday, I keep the celebrations going for days - I love celebrations!  This year I had 5 different birthday dinner/lunch gatherings. Oops.

One celebration was with 3 work friends for lunch last Friday. Taste on Sussex Lane was the second Taste Baguette store to open (after Surry Hills, and there are now 6 Sydney stores in total) and their baguettes are baked regularly throughout the day, filled with fresh combinations, and served to hordes of office workers.

They also have an eat-in restaurant with an enticing lunch menu, and with a plush interior and balcony seating, this is where we placed ourselves that day. We were seated at the furthest table on the balcony, which is quite private for a girly catch-up, but being out of the way meant service was a bit slower when asking for drinks etc.

Our friend K arrived early and didn’t realise we were eating in so she had already bought a takeaway tofu baguette (please excuse the blur!).

Crispy Tofu Baguette: Fried marinated tofu with crisp iceberg, pickled carrot and radish, spring onion, cucumber, coriander and soy dressing

L and E couldn’t go past the special of pork belly with heirloom carrots. The pork was tender and melted in the mouth, and the crackling was satisfyingly crunchy – I love that sound! L felt that the carrots were slightly overcooked but still nice, and the carrot puree was amazing, smooth and full of flavour.

Lunch special, pork belly with carrot puree, and heirloom carrots, $25

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Filed under Bakery, Eating Out, French