Tuesday, December 31, 2013

goodbye 2013.

I thought I should squeeze in a last post so that I can say goodbye to 2013 properly.

It's been one big year for me.

The biggest event was obviously getting hitched - I spent most of 2013 planning it together with R. It was trying at times but it was fun. And it made me learn more about myself; what I was good and worse at. It also made me realise how in some little ways I have changed since I've been with R and moved to Sydney; changes which I like. So 2013 has in some ways, become a year of self-discovery.

It's also been a year of friendships. I've made many new friends over the year and I've reinforced many old ones, or least I think I have. With us all getting older and many friends moving on to different stages in life and some different countries, it's been extremely comforting to know that some friends are friends I will keep for life and who will always have my back no matter what.

And as always, it's been a year of eating. It keeps getting better and better and new experiences keep things interesting. There were many highlights of course which I shall reserve for another post. I hope that it'd stay the same way for 2014 and that I get to travel more.

So I look back on 2013 with much fondness and wish that I remember more of it as it went by too quickly. I'm looking forward to the new year and hope that 2014 will be as crazy good, if not better than 2013.

And I wish the same for all of you too. Have a wonderful 2014!

Monday, December 09, 2013

Sat Bains @ Momofuku Seiobo

I'd like to think that we got pretty lucky to score ourselves a slot at Sat Bains' 'one night only' dinner at Seiobo. Afterall, I was sharing a room dining with some of the who's who of the Sydney culinary scene. I love it when renowned chefs come to visit and cook at host restaurants in our city as it's always a good way to have an idea of their cuisine without having to buy a ticket halfway across the world. Plus, it's also great to see how their food sort of fits in with what we already have here. Most of the time though, such experiences can go either bad or great and rarely in between. I went to one visiting chef's dinner in Singapore before and it was disastrous when his team tried to use mangosteen in their dessert just because they wanted to incorporate local flavours. And there were the great ones like Ben Shewry whose food I was impressed with when he visited Singapore for the World Gourmet Summit one year and Magnus Nilsson who cooked at Marque during the Sydney Good Food Month. But I digress. Armed with the head chef, John Freeman, from Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham in tow, Sat Bains' collaborative dinner with the guys at Seiobo was a culinary experience that was truly mouthwatering.

 chicken batter
smoked roe

Saturday, December 07, 2013

a sandwich fix at John Montagu.

John Montagu.
144 Cathedral Street
Woolloomooloo NSW 2011
Opening Hours: 7am - 4pm daily 

It's easy to find sandwiches in this city since almost every cafe serves at least one version of it but it's difficult to actually see a good one. It might seem easy to slap some meats or vegetables between 2 slices of bread (or on 1 if it's an open faced sambo) but it isn't.

I've always said that I love a good sandwich and I'm happy to say that I finally know where to get a really good one now. One of Sydney's newest cafes, John Montagu, specialises in handcrafted sandwiches and they're not fooling around here. Chef Raymond Lim, who graduated from Sydney's Le Cordon Bleu and has worked in places such as Galileo Restaurant in Sydney and Heirloom in Melbourne, is in charge of the kitchen here. It might be a cosy one but big things sure come out of there.

house-cured salmon, avocado, dill cream cheese, salmon roe, rye
with truffled coddled egg

R and I tried a few sandwiches here and enjoyed every single one. I particularly liked the Salmon which consisted of some of my favourite ingredients such as avocado and cream cheese. What's special here is that the salmon is cured inhouse. Curing the fish, and not smoking it, gives the fish a crunchier texture and I liked that I could taste the salmon better. There is an option of adding a truffle coddled egg for an additional charge which I highly recommend as well.

12 hour beef cheeks, cheddar, sauerkraut, spanish onion, house glaze, white

If you're into a heavier option, the Beef Cheeks sandwich is a must-try. 12 hours of slow braising makes this cheaper cut of meat incredibly tender and rich. Cheese is melted in the pan with the cheeks before it is served up. The special bit here is that the chef makes their own veal stock from scratch to braise the cheeks in. The choice of bread for this is good too - soft white bread from Organic Republic to soak up all the juices from the beef. One might think it's a lot of meat but the slight acidity from the sauerkraut and the sweetness and crunch from the red onions help to cut through the richness. R thought about eating another one of these on his own 3 hours after we left - that's how much he liked it.

field mushrooms, truffled parmesan, garlic crème fraîche, rocket, multigrain

There are also a few options available for vegetarians on the menu and one of which is the Mushroom sandwich. Mushrooms are lightly sauteed in a pan and assembled with rocket leaves, truffled grated parmesan, garlic crème fraîche and some multigrain bread. I also managed a small tasting of the Maffra Cheese and Sage Toastie. Maffra cheese is an Australian-made cheddar which has won several awards. Made from cow's milk, this cheddar imparts a sharp yet sweet flavour which makes it an incredibly tasty cheese to enjoy when it's melted on toast.

A sandwich can be as simple and humble as just spreading some peanut butter onto bread or just by adding a slice of Kraft Singles (which I love!). It is also very versatile and can be eaten fresh or toasted with a multitude of fillings and that's why I love it. Anyhow, it's great to see the humble sandwich elevated to new heights at one of Sydney's newest spots and if you're also a fan of a mean sandwich, be sure to hit up John Montagu sometime soon.

P/S: Coffees are available but since summer is hitting us pretty soon, I highly recommend the Elderflower and Mint (from their mini garden!) Soda to go with the sandwiches. Nothing better than a cool, refreshing and slightly fizzy drink to take on the weather!

Disclosure: R and I are both acquainted with the staff at John Montagu.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

New York Eats: Jean-Georges

Trump International Hotel and Tower
1 Central Park West
New York, NY 10023
Tel: +1 (212) 299 3900

If you're in New York and want to have a fine dining experience with excellent value, there's no place better than lunch at Jean-Georges. Where else can you find a 2 course lunch for USD38 at a 3 Michelin Star restaurant? 

Jean-Georges opened its doors in 1997 and is considered the crown jewel of Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's restaurant empire. French-born Chef Jean-Georges trained under some famous chefs such as Paul Bocuse before heading to places in Asia such as Singapore and Hong Kong to continue his training. It was there that he developed his love for flavours of the East and shaped his style of cooking today. Housed in the Trump International Hotel and Tower on the southwest corner of Central Park, Jean-Georges' dining room is filled with lots of natural light, bright, clean and inviting. As in a typical 3 Star restaurant, all the staff we met (including the greeters at the entrance) at Jean-Georges were incredibly personal, friendly and professional.