March 29, 2010

Nobu Melbourne

Nobu Melbourne
Riverside at Crown Melbourne
8 Whiteman StreetSouthbank,
03 9292 7879

A while ago we joined Agnes from Off the Spork and her husband Alastair and brother Pat for a lunch special at the famed Nobu at crown. For $57 you can enjoy an entrée, a main and a dessert, cant knock that value right?? For some reason I was never really drawn to Nobu, it just didn’t spike my interest and the inconsistent reviews didn’t help. But you know what they say right? Don’t knock it ‘till you try it!

I had one of those experiences where it seemed like everyone around me had ordered a better dish. Usually that happens to Daz, he’s always choosing badly or opting for steak, but surprisingly this time it was me! I’m not saying that my dishes were bad, I just had a horrible case of cow-ness – “the grass is always greener on the other side”.

So for entrée there was a mix of different dishes. Sashimi tacos with yellowtail tuna, salmon, lobster and crab. This looked amazing, the fish was fresh, served with I think a tomato salsa of some sort, the shells were crispy and the presentation was just right. I didn’t get to try this dish myself, but it looked pretty inviting.

fish tacos

Beef fillet tataki, onion ponzu and garlic chips. This was great, the ponzu was slightly acidic, but there there was just enough acidity to make your plate tingle and not overpower you and make you cringe. The crispyness of the garlic chips was interesting, great to dump on a piece of soft fillet and crunch through the textures. I really enjoyed this dish.

beef tataki

I have no idea what this dish is. I’m such a bad food blogger. If it was a subject at school, I’d get an F for not paying attention!! It looks so pretty though! *edit - Thanks to Pat I now know this is Tuna tataki with tosazu.

entree nobu

We also indulged in a pretty little bowl of miso soup.

miso soup

I was a little disappointed with the service to be honest. The wait staff were very friendly and attentive, but the dishes took way too long to come out, and they all came out at random times. A little annoying when there are 5 people sitting at the table. We asked why the dished were taking so long and they told us that there are 7 kitchens!! No wonder it took so long! They probably make different components of the dish in different places, then get someone to run all the components to the waiting plate, “Quick! Call kitchen number 5, we need garnish on this dish!!”

Mains were spectacular. Wagyu intercostal with seasonal vegetables and wasabi salsa. Oh my god! I had a bite of this and I was in heaven. I was about half a millisecond away from ordering this dish myself and I’m still kicking myself for not changing my ordered. It was fantastic, the beef was tender, and the smokiness of the grill was just so aromatic. I wish I was sitting on the other side of the table, instead I sat right next to Pat – slowly being tortured by the smells emanating from his bowl.

wagyu grill

Wagyu gyoza with goma ponzu. These were plump and juicy. Not the BEST dumplings I’ve ever had, but they were pretty darn good. I especially love the black sesame seeds on the dipping sauce giving a beautiful contrast. More of an aesthetic point rather than flavour, hey not everything is about how it tastes!!

wagyu gyoza

Tempura baby tiger prawn with creamy spicy sauce. This was my dish. Visually it was very pretty. It was actually quite tasty, the prawns were cooked well – with not even a hint of rubbery-ness. And the sauce was tangy, but sadly not spicy at all! By this stage I was suffering some serious food envy.

tempura prawns

Soft shell crab kara age. Awwwww, isn’t this just so beautiful? I didn’t get to try it, but I lovingly stared at it from across the table, its just so pretty. My tempura always turns out a little lacklustre, but this stuff just stood up on its own accord.

soft shell crab

Lastly we have. Beef sirloin steak served with teriyaki, wasabi pepper or anti-cucho sauce. I only had a bite of this dish and I’m pretty sure Agnes went with the Wasabi pepper sauce. Just brilliant, that dish was a stand out for me. I only had a bite of it, so can exactly judge it fairly, but from what I tasted it was pretty darn good. The wasabi was a great hit to the palette, and the beef was soft and yielding, just the way I like it. When I go back to Nobu, I’m definitely ordering 2 serves of this dish just for myself.

beef sirloin steak

no, not rabbit, its beef!

And now, for dessert! Green tea trifle mousse layered with vanilla brulee, almond and coconut meringue and milk chocolate ice cream, with lime and vanilla foam. I think the only thing I tried from this was the isomalt toffee on top…sorry but the toffee was not inspiring, don’t know about the rest of the dessert.

green tea trifle

Suntory whisky cappuccino layered with crunchy coffee cacao, coffee creme brulee, milk ice cream and Yamazaki whisky foam. When this arrived I thought Alastair had just ordered a coffee. I didn’t realise it was an actual dessert until the rest arrived and wondered why he hadn’t ordered anything. I think I mentioned earlier I had a terrible attention problem – case in point!

whisky cuppacino

I ordered the warm chocolate satandagi filled with pistachio and chocolate ganache in a Japanese bun and served with caramelised pistachios, berry coulis and almond ice cream. Lately I’m been having a bit of an obsession with big chocolate balls. They seem to be coming at me from everywhere! These were good, but sadly and surprisingly the soffle balls from Sung’s Kitchen were better.

Warm chocolate satandagi with almond ice cream Nobu Melbourne

warm chocolate satandagi from Nobu Melbourne

Lastly we have Tofu cheesecake with green tea crumble, berry compote and tuile, styling by Pat – I give credit where credit is due. The waiter was a real poser. Agnes and I had pulled out our camera’s happily snapping away when the waiter (with a weird accent) came rushing over insisting he would pour the compote over the top for that perfect Kodak moment. I had a slight giggle when the compote plop unceremoniously on top of the tofu instead of the sexy stream we were expecting. In the end I got the money shot.

tofu cheese cake

Just before dessert we noticed something very entertaining about the menu. The menu has an image stamped on the front, which is kinda like a magic eye. Depending on the way you turn the menu, the image could represent almost anything. We all had a go at trying to work out what it was. I suggested it was a very happy rhinosaurous, one of the boy suggested it was an inspector with a hat, what do you think it is? I’d love to know what it “supposed” to be. *edit - its supposed to be a chef preparing to cut a fish with his MASSIVE knife, still entertaining to see what wacky things you can see!*

nobu menu

Take a wander over to Agnes' blog to chick out the other set of rabbit ear!!

March 24, 2010

Fig Compote, with Frangipane, white chocolate mascarpone mousse and warm basil oil

melted white choc

I've been working none stop lately and my poor little blog has been sadly neglected. Working 10+ hours a day is not fun. I've been stacking on weight and unfortunately not from eating good food, but rather anything I can get my hands on before crashing my head on my pillow.

Back in Feb, yes FEBRUARY I tried my hand at my very first restaurant dish recreation. When I tasted the Tartare of fig with white chocolate and mascarpone mousse from Cafe Vue I instantly fell in love. I scrutinized every component of the dish, searching for any hidden ingredients. I wouldn't say I have the best palate, but I thought if I concentrate hard enough I might be able to make this myself at home, so heck lets give it a go. Figs are wonderful, mascarpone mousse is just luscious and I want to have basil's illegitimate love child (yep that's right, the herb - not the guy from Faulty Towers).


So I had my work cut out for me. There are quite a few components in the dessert, so many places to go completely wrong! There's a frangipane, a white chocolate mascarpone mousse, a fig compote and basil oil. Some how I managed to get extremely close to the original, well at least taste wise, presentation is a different story. I did muck up a couple of things, but I've made the appropriate changes to the recipe - like my mousse wasn't as fluffy as I would have liked, and my basil oil was a little cloudy. It would be interesting to see just how close I am to Shannon's recipe, but some how I don't think I'll get to see it any time soon. So here it is, my very first recreation recipe!

basil oil fig white chocolate mousse

Fig Compote, with Frangipane, white chocolate mascarpone mousse and warm basil oil.

Serves 6
Make all the components well in advance and assemble dessert JUST before serving.

To garnish make some white chocolate discs or smears, and a few basil leaves.

6-8 fresh figs, cut into quarters then cut in half
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup port
1 cinnamon quill
1-2 star anise
1 vanilla bean, or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

1. Choose a large shallow pan, large enough to hold all of the cut up figs in one layer. In the pan add water, honey, port, cinnamon, star anise and vanilla. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until syrup is reduced by a half.

2. Add figs and cook until slightly soft, 5 or so minutes. Remove figs from syrup using a slotted spoon, and place into a bowl. Return syrup to the heat and reduce by half. Poor syrup over figs and let it cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until required. Will keep in the fridge for up to a week. Great on ice cream actually!!



1 massive hand full of basil leaves
150mL extra virgin olive oil

1. Place basil and oil in a food processor and process until basil is completely chopped up and incorporated into the oil. Transfer to a bowl and allow to stand for 2 hours

2. Strain mixture through fine muslin. The chopped basil can be used on pastas or in sauces.

basil oil
my slightly cloudy basil oil


2 eggs, separated
1/3 cup castor sugar
250 g mascarpone, at room temperature
150 g white chocolate
250 mL whipping cream

1. Melt white chocolate over a bain marie. Set aside and let it cool to room temperature

2. Place egg yolks and castor sugar into a bowl and whisk until pale and fluffy. Place over a a saucepan of boiling water and continue to whisk until very fluffy and thick. Exactly like making a zabaglione.

3. Place mascarpone in bowl and whisk with a hand held mixer, or stand mixer until soft and creamy. Fold through zabaglione and white chocolate. Make sure not to over work the mixture as this will decrease the fluffiness.

4. In a separate bowl, whip cream. Make sure not to over whip the cream, soft peaks are enough. Fold through the white chocolate mixture

5. Whip egg whites until soft peaks and fold through the white chocolate mixture. I know a lot of folding and whipping, but well worth the effort!! Place in the fridge and allow to set, at least 2-3 hours.

FRANGIPANE (from Rockpool recipe with changes)

100 gm butter
100 gm pure icing sugar
100 gm almond meal
2 tsp plain flour
2 egg, separated
20 ml dark rum

1. Preheat oven to 170C. Line a muffin tray with cupcake liners.

2. Beat butter in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Combine icing sugar, almond meal and flour in a separate bowl and, with motor running, gradually add to butter until completely combined. Add egg yolks, beating well to combine, then slowly beat in dark rum.

3. In a separate bowl whisk egg whites until soft peaks. Fold through mixture

4. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or a firm to the touch. Make sure not to over cook frangipane as it can quickly brown and become dry. Frangipane can be stored in an air tight container at room temperature for 4-5 days.


Just before serving take a tall glass, spoon 4-6 pieces of fig and a little syrup into glass. Take a frangipane cupcake and break in half, place on top of fig compote. Take a couple of dollops of mousse and place on top of frangipane. Garnish with white chocolate smears and a few basil leaves. Warm basil oil to 50C, slightly too hot to touch, being careful not to over heat as this will discolour the basil. Drizzle basil oil over white chocolate in front of your guests. Wait for the ooohs and ahhhs and then eat!!

pouring basil oil

empty glasses
Its all gone!!

March 13, 2010


(website should be up and running soon)
3/296 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
03 9415 6556


After driving past Shocolate for the past few months and trying to come up with any excuse to go in, we finally bit the bullet and had some chocolate with the dynamic V duo. Shocolate opened its doors in the latter half of last year, and it seems from a few reviews going around the blogsphere they are ding some good work. WE had the pleasure of meeting Nick the owner, and had a good old chat about all things chocolate. After asking nicely if I could take a few photos I got the royal treatment with lights turned on and chocolate ark taken out of the display cabinets, I was pretty chuffed. You could tell that Nick and his staff are extremely dedicated to their field and the service we got was above none, I couldn't help but feel that they put this type of service on for anyone who walked through the door. If you're not a fan of chocolate, still get down there to check out there chocolate art. Its really impressive!!

chocolate art

So bring on the chocolate I say!! All their chocolates and patisserie's are made on site with quality ingredients, such Callebaut cocoa powder. We started our chocolate indulgence with a few hand hand chocolates.



Top two chocolates, left: Bloody Fruit - A mix of berried encased in white chocolate. Right: Basil - Fresh Basil ganache encased in white chocolate

Middle two chocolates, left: Strawberry and Lime - Fresh strawberry puree with a hint of lime ganache encased in white chocolate. Right: Irish - Whiskey flavoured ganache encased in dark chocolate

Lower two chocolates, left - Champagne chocolate. Right: Chilli - ganache infused with a chilli spice blend encased in dark chocolate

They were all so good! Often you get ganache centered chocolates that have a very thick outer coating, not these ones. The shells were as thin as an egg shell, giving you a bigger hit of the inner ganache.

thin shell

My favorite by far was the basil. V1 hit the nail on the head, saying that only I would order basil, yes its true I am addicted to basil and will almost always order it if given the option....but I'll try to put my bias aside. The basil flavour was so subtle, meaning that you could eat a whole hand full and not feel like you've just eaten pesto. I really enjoyed it. I was just a little annoyed that I had eaten the chilli chocolate first, meaning that everything from then on had a tainted taste. Don't get me wrong, the chilli was great.....just over powering on anything else.


Desserts were a piece of art. Not only were they appetising in the display cabinet, but they were so beautifully presented. V2 had the Exotic Meringue tart: A combination of citrus, banana and passionfruit topped with a fresh lime meringue. I didn't get to taste this one, but it was so darn pretty it was almost a same to ruin it.


Daz had the Berry Eclair: Chox pastry filled with raspberry, strawberry and blackcurrent cream with vanilla bean and lychee. Oh my!! This was good, totally delivered on everything it promised. The berry combination was just great. The choux was soft and yielding, with the creme patisserie fluffy and creamy. I wish I had ordered the eclair!!

berry eclaire 2

V1 and Myself ordered the Bombay: Hazelnut mousse with a creamy cardamom epicenter on a pane de gene sponge. This was pretty darn good, except I would have loved to taste more of the cardamom. The dark chocolate ganache seemed to cancel it out, although the dessert was good, I would have loved to taste more of the flavouring.


bombay inside

We decided to write Nick a note in our chocolate smear. Nick tells us that a customer tried to pass their mobile number onto him this way, unfortunately it got washed off before he could note it down!!

that was good

We all drown our chocolate feast with more chocolate. We ordered a few different hot chocolates; Chef's Blend: flavoured with nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon zest; Orange: Flavoured with fresh orange zest; Classic: authentic European recipe.

hot chocolate

We spent about 5 minutes just sniffing the hot chocolates! The aroma was intoxicating, especially the chefs blend. My favourite was definitely the chefs blend. When the weather gets cooler, I definitely recommend trying one of these to warm your winter nights!!

Before we left Nick wanted to treat us to one of his favourite chocolates. He brought out a small plate with four chocolates, Caramel: salty caramel ganache. It was wonderful! I swear it was filled with dulche de leche!! We all know that chocolate, caramel and salt are a winning combination. A perfect end to a perfect adventure out for dessert.

salted caramel

Next time I get down to Fitzroy I'm trying this......Tropical Macaroon: Crispy yet tender French style biscuit, centered with fresh mango sauteed with passionfruit pulp, enclosed with whipped milk chocolate ganache.....its HUGE!!


March 8, 2010

Bistro Vue

I'll never hide my love for the Vue empire and anything Shannon Bennett, so recently when one of my friends decided to go to Bistro Vue for dinner to celebrate her birthday - I jumped at the chance. The food at Bistro Vue is not quite as exciting as Vue de monde, but the quality is exceptional with a reasonably wallet friendly price tag attached to it.

dining room

The last time we were at Bistro Vue we had the express lunch, this time we had the entire menu to choose from; sparing no expensive - besides our tight wallets. Damn you interest rate rise!! So we had a full feast, with three separate courses. I'll have to apologies for my photos in advance, I had to use a flash. We started the night with the sun still up and beaming gentle rays into the dining room. By the time the first course arrived the lighting had transformed from photo friendly to romantic boudoir. I love Daz, but when food is involved all I want to do is photograph it and then eat it, loving stares may be involved - but that's usually me drooling over the item on my plate.

bistro vue bread

before the sun goes down

Back to the food. We started with half a dozen Native moonlight flat oysters, Clair de lune and rusty wire. Since I first sampled these little morsels at Botanical I've become a changed woman. I was never really a huge fan of oysters, well I liked them but didn't really appreciate them. These oysters have a distinct ocean aroma with a metallic taste. I'm not sure how to describe it, but they are a huge cut above the rest so much so that whenever I see them on a menu now I order them.

bistro vue_native moonlight flat oysters_clair de lune_rusty wire

House smoked salmon with toasted brioche. This was lovely. The salmon was silky without being too fatty, the brioche was buttery and toasty...just perfect. I was a little sad when the plate was empty.

bistro vue_house smoked salmon with toasted brioche

Quail and foie gra pithivier. This was a seriously good dish. The pastry so flaky, the filling so moist. My mouth is watering just thinking about this dish. I strongly recommend ordering this dish if you plan on going to Bistro Vue, it will not disappoint.

bistro vue_quail and foie gras pithivier

Prawn cocktail. I didn't get to personally try this dish, but it very pretty and the eater was very pleased.

bistro vue_prawn cocktail

Daz had the Garlic snails with parsley crust. Of course we had a small argument over whether he had eaten snails before or not, he insisted he hadn't, I told him he had....anyway to cut a long story short he ordered the snails so he could eat snails for the first time (or so he believed). Turns out it was the right thing to do, the snails were garlicky, meaty and satisfying. Daz's exact words "they feel a bit like cooked calamari" my question to him, "when have you had raw calamari?"

bistro vue_garlic snails with parsley crust

Onto mains. Boy did I score big time! With so many fantastic options on the menu I really couldn't make up my mine. When the waiter told us the daily specials I was still not convinced. There was nothing that really shone above the rest, it all sounded good. So I bit the bullet and ordered the daily special. Braised Wagyu neck with lentils a la francaise. Oh man, I was in a world of my own when I was eating that dish. The beef was cooked so tenderly, but still remained firm. There was a thin amount of fat which made the meat so rich, but the meat was toatlly overtaken by those fantastic lentils. The sauce was so thick and sweet, as if port butter and honey had been cooked down together to make a marriage made in heaven. The lentils were even firm in the center, nothing like my sloppy mushy mess I make at home. The whole time I was eating it I was plotting how to recreate it. After my 5th bite I thought I should stop thinking before I ruined the dish for myself.

bistro vue_braised wagyu neck with lentils francaise

Giovanni Fabbri truffle pasta. This dish had some real visual appeal. The truffle sauce was so black it reminded me of squid ink. The flavor was earthy. I had a few bites, and the flavours were great but for me the pasta was a little over cooked. Just a little under al dente....not terrible, it just could have been better.

bistro vue_giovanni fabbri truffle pasta

Daz and the birthday girl ordered steak. Any surprises? Sher Wagyu X Holstein, 450 days grain fed sirloin. The birthday girls steak was perfect. Complete with fat cut chips and sauce delivered in a jar.

bistro vue_sher wagyu X holstein sirloin 4-5 score_with truffle mustard

Daz on the other hand got the raw end of the deal, literally. He ordered a medium rare steak and some how managed to get a blue steak. Not a worry, it happens. Daz was kinda full anyway, he just wanted the staff to know that the ordered had been mucked up. This is where the vue difference comes into play. I cant rave on about them enough, they were so speedy and pleasant about the whole problem. The maître d' we seriously concerned about Daz and didn't want his experience ruin by a poor dish. He skillfully suggested a substitute dish after Daz insisted he couldn't eat an entire steak. He recommended the soft shell crab with celeriac and apple remoulade and mojo sauce. He had Daz at soft shell crab. That dish delivered! The inside of the soft shell crab was stuffed with more crab, blue swimmer to be exact, the celeriac cream was so moreish I contemplated confiscating the dish from Daz. Even after the mistake with the steak, Daz was extremely happy. Job well done.

bistro vue_soft shell crab with celeriac and apple remoulade and mojo sauce

bistro vue_clean plate

Dessert. We all ordered a dessert and did the only socially responsible thing....take a bite, pass the plate to the left. Best idea ever, mainly because I ended up with the dud dessert and I'll take any excuse to eat someone else's food. So we had Chocolate fondant with almond ice cream. nothing more to say other than oozy chocolate center, tick on flavour, tick on texture.

bistro vue_chocolate fondant with almond ice cream

Pistachio nougat glace, this was my dud dessert. There was nothing really wrong with it, I just ordered the wrong thing, I saw pistachio and thought I was love it, I was wrong.

bistro vue_pistachio nougat glace

Trifle, blueberry, vanilla mousse and almond sponge. Oh so good, the mousse/cream was light and fluffy, the sponge also. The blueberry were tart so they did a great job to cut through the sweetness. I should have taken a bigger spoonful when it was sitting in front of me.

bistro vue_trifle_blueberry, vanilla mousse and almond sponge

Chocolate souffle. The birthday girl ordered this one. It arrived at the table tall and proud. I didn't think that the souffle could get bigger than it already was, but the waiter cut a tiny slit in the top of the souffle, took the chocolate sauce and poured it into the hole. We all held our breath for a moment as we watched the eggy mix rise out of the pot. Then it stopped and started to deflate down, time to eat it. Chocolate souffle with chocolate sauce, for the serious chocolate lover.

bistro vue_chocolate souffle

At the end of the night we were all stuffed, happy and relaxed. The birthday girl was happy and more importantly very full. Now, time to save up for my next Vue visit!!