Sunday, June 26, 2011
When you visit a restaurant that has been hyped up and written about all over the place, it’s always tricky to know what to expect. Will it live up to your expectations? In the case of Ms G’s, I’m happy to say that it did. The name is a tongue-in-cheek take on everyone’s favourite flavour enhancer, monosodium glutamate, with its number 621 proudly emblazoned on the wall in neon.
Situated on Victoria Street in Potts Point, the multi-level restaurant was buzzing on this Friday lunchtime with girlfriends catching up, businessmen getting boozed and us, there for my birthday lunch.
The food culture of Sydney has shifted heavily towards ‘dude food’ in recent times – burgers, hot dogs, fried chicken and tacos are popping up on menus everywhere and young chefs like Dan Hong and Jowett Yu are on the forefront of the trend.
At Ms G’s, cocktails come packaged in bubble tea cups, complete with giant straws and the novelty is just too great. I love the Famous Yuzu Slushee, which combines Limoncello, Russian standard vodka, yuzu juice and Regan’s orange bitters for a sweet-sour drink with a definite alcoholic kick. In fact the whole cocktail list sounds awesome – Aeroplane jelly cocktail, anyone?
We of course had to start with the Mini bánh mì, and since we couldn’t decide between the crisp pork belly and chicken katsu, we got both! While small in size, they definitely delivered on taste and were quite generous with fillings – meat, paté, cucumber, coriander and a delicious sriracha mayonnaise. Steve prefers the crispy katsu, but I love the pork belly. Try both and decide for yourself!
Another must try is the Grilled corn on the cob with parmesan and lime. After the high praise they have received on other blogs, and my undying love for Mamasita’s similar dish, we had to try it. I loved the slightly charred, super sweet corn and the generous dusting of parmesan. A really great start to the meal.
Another awesome dish is the Prawn toast with yuzu aioli and herbs. Our waitress tells us that they make a prawn mousse and slather it onto sourdough bread. The whole thing is then covered in sesame seeds, deep-fried and topped with a tangy yuzu aioli. I loved the crunchy exterior giving way to the meaty prawn innards and the freshness that the herbs brought to the dish.
The last of our savoury dishes was the Fried half baby chicken with kimchi mayonnaise. Half a chicken yielded only four pieces, but they were cooked to perfection – the meat was so tender and falling from the bones while the exterior was delicious and crispy.
While everything so far had been nothing but awesome, dessert was truly the highlight of the meal. The ‘Stoners Delight’ was a delicious mishmash – cinnamon doughnut ice cream, chocolate, rice bubbles, pretzels, peanut brittle and passionfruit marshmallows were scattered atop a slick of dulce de leche. And heck yes, it’s as good as it looks. I loved all of the different tastes and textures, especially the sweet-salty combination and the awesome doughnut ice cream that really tastes exactly like a cinnamon doughnut!
I ordered the Pandan chiffon cake with strawberries and coconut sorbet that was served in a sea of coconut tapioca and I’m so glad that I did. The pandan, coconut and strawberry flavours worked really well together. This dish made an appearance on Masterchef pressure test recently and gave the contestants a run for their money!
I really loved Ms G’s and now I understand all of the hype surrounding this place. The food (especially the desserts) and the cocktails were top notch and the service was great. All of the dishes are designed to share, but we hardly made a dent in the menu. I’m looking forward to going back and trying some of the other great dishes. Like many of the new restaurants popping up, Ms G’s doesn’t take bookings, so it’s best to get there early.
Ms G’s – 155 Victoria St, Potts Point
Monday, June 20, 2011
Have you ever had a dish at a restaurant or a café that you just can’t get out of your head? And months or even years later, you still find yourself thinking about it? This recipe is inspired by one of those. It must have been at least 3 years ago, perhaps even more, that the boy and I had a lovely brunch at The Book Kitchen in Surry Hills. It was a lovely spot, always busy on the weekends and a great little spot for breakfast or lunch.
I had the date and fig pikelets, which were served with sweetened ricotta, poached rhubarb and pears. It was the most perfect brunch you ever did see, and it tasted even better. Ever since then I have wanted to try recreating the recipe at home, but only now have I actually gotten around to doing it.
I think everyone should have a great base recipe for pancakes in their repertoire, because from there they can be adapted in almost any way you like. Throw in some blueberries, strawberries or mashed banana, or even some chocolate chips for a decadent breakfast. Perhaps play around with the flours – maybe try some buckwheat flour or even almond meal for a more wholesome start to the day.
My usual recipe is so simple, but this one has some beaten egg whites, which does add to the washing up, but give you a really beautiful fluffy pancake. I loved the addition of dates and figs, which when warm have a jam-like texture inside the pancake. It was a really great breakfast on a lazy long weekend morning.
Date and Fig Pancakes
Inspired by The Book Kitchen, Surry Hills
Recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller
Makes about 12-15 pancakes
• 60g butter, plus extra for cooking
• 450ml buttermilk
• 3 eggs, separated
• 300g (2 cups) plain flour
• 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
• ¼ cup dried figs, roughly chopped
• ¼ cup dates, roughly chopped
Melt 60g butter in a small saucepan over low heat, cool slightly, then combine in a large bowl with buttermilk and egg yolks and whisk until smooth.
Sift over flour, bicarbonate of soda and 1 teaspoon fine salt, mix until smooth and combined (do not overwork). Whisk eggwhites and a pinch of salt in a separate large bowl until firm peaks form (2-3 minutes), then fold into flour mixture. Gently mix in figs and dates.
Melt 10g butter in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat, add 1/4 cupfuls of batter, allowing room for it to spread. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface and edges are golden (1-2 minutes)
Turn with a wide spatula and cook until pancake is firm and base is golden (1-2 minutes), transfer to a plate and keep warm in a low oven. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with maple syrup and butter.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
I am a bit of a sucker for restaurants with awesome, quirky fitouts. Gazebo in Elizabeth Bay has a taxidermy fox (named Foxy) hanging from the ceiling! It’s these little touches that I love. So, on my latest trip to Perth I was looking forward to visiting Kitsch Bar. Aptly named, the furniture is a mish-mash of weird and wacky items. A giant frangipani tree shelters the outdoor courtyard, and I can’t help but think of how awesome this place would be on sultry summer evenings.
I started with a Kitsch Ginger Beer, which long time readers will know I’m addicted to. It was a decidedly boozy, yet refreshing concoction of 42 Below vodka, ginger syrup and mint. It was also available with chilli vodka if you’d like a spiced up version. There’s also a selection of bottled beers and a pretty cracking wine list.
The menu consists of Asian hawker-style share plates with really big, bold flavours, yet there is still a remarkable amount of skill and sophistication. We loved the Salted Tasmanian ocean trout with tomato tamarind caramel and crispy szechuan hens egg. It was a beautifully balanced and delicious dish.
We couldn’t go past the Steamed pork dumplings with hot chilli sauce and sticky soya. I loved these little parcels of deliciousness, but I only wish it was a bigger serving because they were all kinds of addictive!
We also tried the Spiced corn fritters with coriander and green chilli syrup. While they were tasty, with a burst of sweetness from the corn and a hit of spice from the syrup, these were a little on the heavy side. I think the best corn fritters I’ve had were at Izakaya Den in Melbourne, and I think it had a lot to do with the much lighter batter which gently held the sweetcorn kernels together.
I was pretty excited about the Spiced green papaya salad with peanuts, cherry tomatoes and sweet, salty pork ribs. Our waitress warned us that it was quite spicy, but I didn’t really even notice much spice, and I’m usually a bit of a chicken when it comes to chilli. Nonetheless, I loved the balance of flavours and the awesome pork ribs, but even between the two of us we couldn’t finish the salad.
For dessert, we couldn’t go past the Chocolate sandwich with peanut brittle ice cream. Now, children, no matter how full you may be, this is not a dessert that bodes well with sharing! It looked pretty on the plate and I loved the snickers-like taste, and the texture combination between the sandwich elements and the brittle sprinkled on top.
The atmosphere at Kitsch Bar was great with not a hint of pretentiousness (all too common in Sydney bars.) I totally loved the décor and the quirky touches everywhere you looked – and also might be the coolest restaurant bathrooms ever. The staff were cheerful and really helpful especially when it came to how many dishes to order. Even the music was awesome, it sounded like someone pinched my iPod! It’s great to see places like Kitsch popping up in Perth and I can’t wait to go back on a warm evening, to sip a cocktail at dusk beneath that stunning frangipani tree.
Kitsch Bar - 229 Oxford St, Leederville WA - (08) 9242 1229
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Wow, it has been free-eezing this week! I think winter is officially here now. The 2°C mornings have definitely been a struggle on the getting-out-of-bed front. But I’ve been really enjoying delicious hearty dinners, my favourite winter produce and cup after cup of nice hot tea.
I fell in love with Karen’s post about the gorgeous French Earl Grey poached pears. Not only were they so cute and tiny, but I am a big fan of this beautiful, fragrant tea so I could imagine how lovely they were going to taste! Enveloped in a delicious sour cream enriched cake batter and topped with a crunchy hazelnut crumble, this was an absolutely beautiful cake.
In fact, we liked it so much that I made a batch of muffins from the same recipe the very next day. And both were gone by Tuesday! It’s a great, simple recipe, but the thing I like most about this cake is that it’s the perfect starting point for almost any kind of fruit filling. Rhubarb would be totally delicious, as would apples, berries, or quinces as in the original recipe. So if you’re planning some long weekend baking, give this recipe a try!
Pear and Earl Grey Crumble Cake
French Earl Grey Poached Pears - Recipe adapted from Citrus & Candy
• 1L water
• 125g caster sugar
• 20g French Earl Grey tea leaves
• 1 strip orange peel
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 6 pears
Combine the water, sugar, tea leaves, orange peel and vanilla extract in a pot and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 10 minutes to infuse. In the meantime, peel and core the pears and cut into 3mm cubes. Strain the tea mixture into another small pot and add the pears to the poaching liquid. Bring back to a boil then reduce the heat again and simmer pears gently for about 10 minutes. Pears are ready when a skewer pierces through the flesh easily. Remove from the heat and leave the pears to cool down in the syrup. Once cooled, store in the fridge.
Crumble Cake - Recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller
• 150g softened butter
• 135g caster sugar
• 120g brown sugar
• 3 eggs
• 300g crème fraiche or sour cream
• 170g self-raising flour
• 150g plain flour
• 1 teaspoon finely grated cinnamon
• 85g brown sugar
• 60g roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
• 35g butter, coarsely chopped
• 30g plain flour
Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F). Beat butter and sugars in an electric mixer until pale (2-3 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add crème fraiche and beat to just combine, then stir through flours and cinnamon.
Spoon half the mixture into a buttered and floured 24cm diameter springform tin lined with baking paper. Scatter pears over and then pour over remaining batter and smooth the top.
For the crumble topping, combine ingredients and a pinch of salt in a bowl and rub with fingertips until coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle over batter. Bake cake is golden and a skewer inserted in the center withdraws clean (50 minutes-1 hour). Cool slightly in tin. Remove cake and cool to room temperature. Serve drizzled with pear syrup.
Monday, June 6, 2011
I’m well aware of the cliché, but this year more than ever it seems that time really does fly when you’re having fun! On that note, I cannot believe that we’re already into June, and I still haven’t finished writing up my trip to Tasmania from the beginning of March. I can’t remember where I first heard of Tricycle Café in Hobart, but in my research for the trip the name popped up as a must-visit over and over again. Well-known for their solid breakfast menu and more substantial lunch fare, I was really looking forward to visiting.
After a nice lazy morning browsing the Salamanca Markets, we eventually found the café, tucked away in the Salamanca Arts Center, and snagged one of the last tables, just in time for brunch. I start with a long black, a fine specimen, and one of the best of the whole trip (second only to Ut Si Café).
Steve had the scrambled eggs on sourdough, which were as light and fluffy as they look. All in all, a perfect specimen, which he enjoyed, accompanied by a vanilla milkshake. You see, Steve isn’t a coffee drinker, and if there’s milkshakes or spiders on the menu, he’ll totally order one.
Tricycle’s Breakfast Trifle made Gourmet Traveller’s list of Australia’s great breakfasts so I knew we had to try it. It was a lovely combination of seasonal poached fruits (ours contained strawberries and peaches) with rolled oats, natural yoghurt and pureed apple, topped with flaked almonds. I loved how it looked, but I just wished the yoghurt was sweetened a little with honey. But it’s still a must-try!
The daily specials were written on a little blackboard that the staff would move around to every new table. I couldn’t go past the organic tomato bruschetta with goat’s curd and basil. The tomatoes were a gorgeous, vibrant red and were full of sweetness. This has got to be my favourite kind of lunch in summer and I loved the super simple preparation that allowed the great produce to shine.
Tricycle is a really great brunch spot, definitely worth checking out for a coffee after a pleasant morning of strolling around the markets. I loved all the quirky decor and the tricycles strung up around the café. The staff were genuinely lovely and the food was great. Check it out if you’re ever in Hobart!
Tricycle Café - 77 Salamanca Pl, Hobart TAS
Friday, June 3, 2011
My Dad doesn’t have the sweetest of teeth, unlike the rest of us at home! He would usually prefer a packet of chips to a bowl of ice cream, but there are a few desserts that he always says yes to. In fact, they can be counted on just two fingers – carrot cake and pecan pie. With his birthday last weekend, I wanted to make one of his favourites. I can also disclose that this is the second pecan pie I’ve made in as many months. Since the one I made in Perth for Easter lunch disappeared faster than I could snap a photo of it, here is my chance to finally share it with you!
The recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan’s ‘Baking From My Home to Yours’ which has to be one of my most beloved cookbooks, the one I always turn to for classic cakes and pies. I loved the addition of chocolate and the hint of coffee. The original recipe didn’t call for any booze, but it’s my personal belief that no pecan pie is complete without a liberal splash of bourbon. I will concede that Cointreau also works nicely.
I also added some grated orange zest, since the kumquats I’d used once before worked so well, but aren’t in season yet. I’ve had some hits and misses with this pastry recipe when I’ve tried to take shortcuts, so ensure that you follow it as closely as you can for wonderful, flaky, not too sweet pastry that is truly “good for almost anything.”
In other exciting news, I’ve had a couple of mentions in the press lately. This clipping came from Chocolate Treats, where Spicyicecream was featured in their "Cyber Snacks" section.
I've already shared this news on Twitter and Facebook, but I’m also the SBS Featured Foodie for June! Click here to read their interview with me. Thanks so much to Aisha and Tony for thinking of me!!
Chocolate Pecan Pie
Adapted from ‘Baking From My Home to Yours’ by Dorie Greenspan
• 1 ½ cups plain flour
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• ¾ teaspoon salt
• 180g unsalted butter, very cold or frozen
• About ½ cup ice water
• ¾ cup light corn syrup
• ½ cup light brown sugar
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
• 3 large eggs, room temperature
• 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons bourbon or Cointreau
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• Zest of 1 orange
• 1 ½ cups pecan halves
• 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
To make the pastry, put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse to just combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and pulse only until cut into the flour, with some pieces of butter still visible.
Pulsing the machine on and off, gradually add about 3 tablespoons or the water until the dough comes together. Add more water a tablespoon at a time if necessary. Gather the dough into a ball on a bench top and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling.
Have a prepared 22cm (9-inch) pie plate at hand. You can roll the dough out on a floured surface or between sheets of wax paper. Slide the rolled-out dough into the fridge for about 20 minutes. Fit the circle of dough into the pie plate, allowing the excess to hang over. Trim to a 1cm overhag, and flute or pinch the crust to make a decorative edge.
Refrigerate the crust while you preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminium foil, fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust and filled with dried beans, rice or pie weights. Put the pie on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and weights and, if the crust has puffed, press is down gently with the back of a spoon. Place back into the oven for about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a rack and cool to room temperature before filling.
To make the filling, whisk the corn syrup and brown sugar together until smooth. Whisk in the melted butter, then add the eggs one at a time, beating until you have a smooth, foamy mixture. Add the espresso powder, vanilla, bourbon or Cointeau, cinnamon, salt and orange zest and give the batter a good mix. Stir in the pecans and chocolate and pour the filling into the crust.
Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make a foil shield for the crust by cutting a 9-inch circle out of the center of a piece of foil. Lower the oven temperature to 180°C (350°F). Place the foil shielf on top of the pie crust. The filling will be exposed but the crust will be covered by foil. Bake the pie for another 15-20 minutes or until it has puffed and is beautifully browned and no longer jiggles when tapped. Transfer the pie plate to a rack, remove the shielf and cool to room temperature.