Thursday, September 23, 2010

Father’s Day Lunch at Que Huong, Darra

Yes, Father’s Day in Australia falls in September. Forgive me for being cynical but I think it was purely for commercial reasons and nothing but. There doesn’t seem to be any nationally significant event that happened in September. So, the powers that be decided to stick one in. But anyway, I’m not complaining.

On my special day I want a special meal. After enjoying fine dining in the past couple of weeks all I was after was some good food sans the pretence. One place that always comes to mind when I’m in this sort of a mood is Que Huong at Darra.

There are lots of good hole-in-the-wall eateries in Darra but for me Que Huong is a step above. It’s not really a hole-in-the-wall operation. It’s one of the larger restaurants in the area. It’s spacious enough to handle a sizeable family like mine. But they manage to keep the atmosphere still very relaxed. You don’t feel judged as you suck on those enormous mud crab claws. And of course, they serve fantastic seafood.

To start we had some Jellyfish Salad (Goi Sua Thom Thit). The combination of flavours and textures was the perfect dish to wake up the palette.

We followed this with some deep fried soft shell crab. The novelty of eating a whole crab, shell and all, still hasn’t worn off. It has got just the right amount of spiciness to tickle ones taste buds.

For the main event it has to be the mud crab. You order them by the kilo. You can have them cooked all sorts of ways. But for us the simple combination of salt, pepper and chilli was the only way to go. The spice blend enhances not mask the flavour of the mud crab.

To balance our heavily seafood orientated meal we ordered some crispy skin chicken (especially for the kids), pork ribs and a clay pot of some tofu, vegetables (and more seafood).

If you’re after good honest food in a stress free environment Que Huong never disappoints. Details below:

Que Huong

139 Darra Station Rd

Darra QLD 4076

07 3375 4368

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Adriano Zumbo, Sydney

If you’re not a local you’ll have difficulty locating the famed Adriano Zumbo patisserie. It might be on the main drag of Balmain on the outskirts of Sydney but unless you have really sharp eyes it’s quite easy to overlook. If not for the garish signage of the chemist next door (tawdry it may be but it did grab our attention) we would have missed it altogether.

The size of the shop is in stark contrast to the man’s fame. In essence it’s a long hallway fitted with a basic display cabinet. The featureless wall, I assume, has been left in its original state. In short no pretence. I think it’s a fantastic idea. Customers’ line up for Zumbo’s treats and nothing but. The lighting looks great though.

By the way, Adriano Zumbo also has a café in the same neighbourhood situated a few streets away from the shop. To make the most of the visit (thanks for indulging me Lyndon & Carla) we thought we might as well have the full café experience. It was a big disappointment. We never got to sit down to try the lovely looking baked goods together with some beverages. It lacked the café vibe I was looking for. The place wasn’t inviting and neither were the staff. We rushed back to the shop instead.

Adriano Zumbo is full of contradiction. The plainness of the premises highlights the complexities of his creations. Here are some examples:

CHARLIE'S HOMEMADE GINGER FEAR: Ginger beer gel, ginger pudding soaked in coconut syrup, chocolate ginger foam eggs, ginger crunch, ginger chantilly & passionfruit bavarois

CLOUDY THYME: Liquorice pate brisee, olive oil creme citron, butterscotch caramel, oven roasted apples, mint meringue ball & thyme italian meringue

WHAT A GREAT PEAR OF...: Almond creme, pear vanilla creme patisserie, pate a choux sable, pear gel, almond crunch & almond struesel

But I went to this renowned patisserie for one thing and one thing alone…the macarons. All the disappointments have disappeared on the first bite. The only other time I had macarons was the night before at Tetsuya’s (not the restaurant’s forte to be honest). I was really looking forward to this.

On the day of our visit they had four flavours on offer: Mango Black Sticky Rice, Oatmeal Ylang Ylang, Pandan Coconut, and the surprisingly plain coffee (I’m not so sure of the name but it tasted like coffee). My tastebuds are familiar with all the flavours but not in macaron form. Very Southeast Asian I thought! In fact, very Filipino! Who would have thought combining Ylang Ylang and oatmeal would work? It just demonstrates the genius of its maker.

A second trip is definitely on the horizon. Next time with the whole family in tow. For this initial one I would like to express my gratitude to my Sydney based friends Lyndon & Carla. Thank you very much for taking me on our own version of “The Amazing Race.”

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lugia Cake for Kiko’s 12th

If you’re not familiar with Pokémon you probably wouldn’t know who or what Lugia is.

Here’s some background info for the non Pokémon conversant among us from the Wikia Gaming website:

“Lugia is an immense, Bird/Dragon-like, mythical Pokémon. It has a blue underside, and has ten fins running along its back, which stand upward while flying in the air, and is flat on its back in the water and on land…

Known as the Guardian of the Seas, Lugia is extremely intelligent, and is very gentle with the life around it. Due to the fact that it can blow houses away with the single flap of its wings, it isolates itself deep within the great current, to prevent it from harming civilization…”

How fitting I thought. Kiko is most definitely intelligent (Love your own! And yes, it’s also been scientifically measured). Also, notwithstanding the fact that he’s still a year shy of 13 he’s now beginning to exhibit typical teenage behaviour of “isolating himself” (a very Lugia trait if you like).

Cherry whipped her magic wand once again to create another wonderful cake for one of our kids’ birthday celebration. (She wishes she had a wand. Cakes like this take a little bit more time than waving ones hand.)

As requested by Kiko the insides are made of white chocolate mud cake. This time around Cherry used dark chocolate ganache to contrast with the already sweet cake. She then covered it with light blue marbled fondant for a sea/sky effect to go with the Pokémon character Kiko chose.

Here’s to you my only son! Happy 12th birthday! May God continue to mould you into that man He willed you to be! God bless your every step!