30 May 2011

Tasting Testing: Can the French pick the Foie Gras, Audrey & Marco Online Deli (21 April 2011)

French palate put to the test

Thanks to Melisa from Audrey & Marco for supplying me a sample of their online deli product of Duck Foie Gras, La Truffe Cendree ($48.50, 130g). To put it to the taste test I conducted a blind tasting against three cheaper patés. Myself and three other friends, including one who is French, were given a sample to taste without looking. We each had to nominate our favourite tasting and also pick which one we thought was the foie gras. I unfortunately failed miserably in picking the foie gras and ashamedly picked the cheapest paté while everyone else picked the foie gras out of the lineup. In my defence I was influenced by sneaky favourable comments made by the French friend when we tried the paté and learnt after he was trying to mislead everyone — it worked on me. Surprisingly everyone but the French friend picked the Maggie Beer Pheasant Farm Paté ($5.40, 120g) as their favourite. I think it was the robust and peppery flavour that we enjoyed matched with a nice smooth texture. The other two friends did correctly pick the foie gras out of the lineup.

With blind folds off the Duck Foie Gras was enjoyably smooth in texture with a good depth of flavour. In the words of the French guest, he 'loved it' and it was a no brainer for him in choosing as his favourite and the one that was the true foie gras. The cheapest Drava Liver Paté ($2.49) which I ashamedly picked as foie gras was also smooth but didn't have the same depth of flavour and also didn't look particularly appetising in appearance. The Real Paté Duck Paté ($3.99, 125g) was the least liked and was too firm in texture accompanied by a non-distinctive flavour. To help enjoy the foie gras we toasted De Luxe Brioche bought from David Jones and our French taste tester also generously brought along a bottle of 2006 Chateau de Suberne, Loupiac, France which matched very well.

Other Audrey & Marco products taste tested:
21 April 2011 - Duck Foie Gras
23 Mar 2011 - Tahini, Asparagus & Black Truffle Pate, Smoked Sea Salt Flakes, Calissons d'Aix, Mixed Fruit Jam, Marmalade, Wafers, Spaghetti

PROS: Unique taste, Quality product, Available for purchase online
CONS: Production of foie gras is contentious, Expensive
WORTH TRYING: Duck Foie Gras, Maggie Beer Pheasant Farm Paté

Foie gras versus three patés

Duck Foie Gras, La Truffe Cendree ($48.50,

Maggie Beer Pheasant Farm Paté ($5.40, 120g)

The Real Paté Duck Paté ($3.99, 125g)

Drava Liver Paté ($2.49, 100g)

De Luxe Brioche from David Jones toasted as the base

Chateau de Suberne 2006 Loupiac, France goes superbly with foie gras

Tasting notes. First number is the one we liked the most and the second number is the one we thought was the foie gras

Boatshed Café: Waiter there’s a hair in my Prawn Cocktail, La Perouse (29 May 2011)

1609 Anzac Parade,
La Perouse NSW 2036

3 strikes and you’re out

After a nice 3 hour bush walk with friends around the Cape Banks Circuit in the Botany Bay National Park it was time to treat one of our friends for a birthday lunch. We decided for convenience to check out the Boatshed Café nearby which seemed to have water views from the restaurant balcony section. Keep in mind the restaurant has a more expensive menu than the café located inside and the dishes are served from the same kitchen. The Garlic Bread ($3.50, 2 pieces) was OK and as expected. Our birthday friend ordered the Prawn cocktail ($13) for nostalgic reasons served in sundae glassware. The prawns seemed decent quality but were cut into small pieces rather than being served traditionally whole and lathered with cocktail sauce on top with a bed of lettuce underneath.

The Prawn cutlets ($20, 5 pieces) were deep fried to a decent crisp although I’m suspecting they were of the frozen variety due to their texture and lack of prawn flavour. Chips were nice enough and of the frozen pack variety. The Deep fried whiting fillets ($24) looked as expected and seemed OK. My Grilled Trout Fillets served with chips and salad ($23) was singular rather than plural but decent sized with basic presentation and I only found a few small bones to contend with. It was interesting to note all the main course dishes included salad even though it wasn’t listed on the menu so keep in mind in case you’re thinking of ordering a salad as a side. The meals were pleasant enough and the atmosphere fairly relaxing as we settled in to catch up until am unfortunate discovery.

Now, from time to time we all come across something unexpected in a dish or restaurant that can put a real dampener on the dining experience. I’ve had my fair share like a cockroach at A Tavola, inexperienced service and air conditioning problems at Wang Wang Shanghai Silver Star, unfortunate bad service at Bécasse and even some metal in my ramen at Menya Noodle Bar. But no matter what happens a true test of a restaurant is how they respond to a customer complaint. Unfortunately when our friend discovered a rather large black hair in the middle of his prawn cocktail the Boatshed Café failed terribly. When I called over the young waitress and explained what we’d found she replied with an unemotional dismissive ‘yep’ as if it was normal and casually took it away to the kitchen — no apology, but perhaps she thought it wasn’t her fault and had other things on her mind, like clocking off work — Strike 1.

Two minutes later she returns to say ‘do you want anything else’. Still no apology or empathy and our friends appetite is now somewhat diminished so thanks but no thanks — Strike 2. Ten minutes passes and the head waitress comes to the table to say she’s heard about the dish but was not shown it and apologises for what happened with some sincerity. She later comes to take away finished plates while others are still eating at the table which isn’t the best thing to do. The final straw, Strike 3, comes when the bill arrives. We notice the prawn cocktail ($12) is still charged but she says she’s managed to not charge us for the 3 soft drinks totally $9, oh, how nice of her, not! WTF! I question the charge when paying and she said the chef owner decided that the dish had mostly been eaten so it should be charged. Gee, I wish would we found the hair on top of the dish so we could have brought it to their attention sooner. OMG! Perhaps we should have been only charged half the amount then since the other half had a hair in it? They obviously don’t realise the full extent of how badly handled this was. I seriously wonder how they would feel if they were served a hair in their dish. Would they expect to be charged for it without a sincere apology and acknowledgment of the circumstance? No wonder the reviews of Eatability are so bad giving a current score of 5.8 after 24 reviews — I hope to add mine to the list soon.

PS. I would have emailed this review to the restaurant but I couldn’t find a website or contact email address to do so. Hopefully it’ll be brought to their attention somehow.

PROS: Water views, Cheaper menu available from cafe inside, Plenty of free parking around, It's was hard to think of any others due to the dining experience
CONS: Dishes are a bit pricey for what you get, Perfunctory service, Expect to pay for your dish if you get a hair in it, Décor needs an update, Have to go outside and around building to get to single toilet which don’t smell particularly clean
MUST TRY: Not revisiting, ever! And hoping the food authority might pay them a little visit soon.

Prawn cocktail ($13)

Long black hair found underneath dressing and some prawn pieces of prawn cocktail

Garlic Bread ($3.50, 2 pieces)

Prawn cutlets - Butterfly prawns deep fried served with chips and tartare sauce ($20, 5 pieces)

Prawn cutlet batter — crispy although prawn fairly flavourless. Seems to be of the frozen variety rather than freshly made.

Deep fried whiting fillets ($24)

Grilled Trout Fillets served with chips and salad ($23)

Tartare sauce

Bill $91 for 4 people. Head waitress discounted 3 soft drinks worth $9. The owner/chef reasoning for charging for the prawn cocktail was that to them it was mostly eaten, WTF! If only the hair was on top of the prawn cocktail, then perhaps it wouldn't have been eaten at all.

Entree and salad menu

Main course menu — all above $20

Advertised as 'For fresh seafood & pleasant beach side dining you won't find better' — I'm afraid I think you have to try a bit harder to deserve this statement

Balony reserved for restaurant dining only — better view but higher priced menu compared to cafe inside

Cheaper menu cafe located inside

Water view — albeit shipping container port in the distance

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The Boatshed Cafe on Urbanspoon

26 May 2011

Dome at the Arthouse Hotel: Mohawk Show 11 event, Sydney (18 May 2011)

275 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Design and canapés

The ArtHouse Hotel is a name synonymous with art, music and entertainment. The building itself, dating back to 1836 and has been elegantly refurbished to reflect the splendour of the past juxtaposed against functional design principles of the present, and creates a vibrant and energetic venue that reflects the cosmopolitan and cultural society that its location in Sydney demands.

Being a print graphic designer the Mohawk Show sponsored in Australia by Raleigh Paper is one of the more exciting calendar events I try to attend each year. Appropriately the venue this year was in the Dome of the Arthouse Hotel which was formerly The School of Arts Building. Welcome drinks were provided freely and their was no shortage of delicious canapés starting with Duck pancakes served in spoons which had a bit of a nice chilli kick I wasn’t expecting. The Scallops baked with citrus butter were tasty as well as the Goats cheese, pea and chive arrancini. Delightful looking Mini wagyu cheese burgers were just about bite sized and the Crumbed swordfish goujons were cooked with a crisp batter enjoyed with house made tartar. My favourite of the night were the Tiger prawns baked in brik pastry which reminded me a bit of the deep fried prawn wontons I’ve enjoyed at The Loft.

If you're a graphic designer and design on a Mohawk paper then you can enter a your submissions for a chance to win up to $5,000. You can enter as many pieces as you like, and there are no entry fees. Please contact your local Mohawk rep, merchant specification representative or download the entry form on the Mohawk website.

PROS: High ceiling and interesting decor, Nice selection of tasty canapes, Service staff managed to distribute the food quite well, No shortage of drink availability
CONS: Can get a little crowded on the night to view the displays, Was only on for a very limited time due to travelling to other cities
MUST TRY: Tiger prawns baked in brik pastry, Printing on a Mohawk paper to be able to submit a design for Mohawk Show 12


Red wine

White wine

Beer selection

Duck pancakes with hoisin shallot and chilli

Scallops baked with citrus butter

Goats cheese, pea and chive arrancini

Mini wagyu cheese burgers

Crumbed swordfish goujons with house made tartar

Tiger prawns baked in brik pastry with aioli

The chef and kitchen

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Dome at the Arthouse Hotel on Urbanspoon

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