Thursday, August 25, 2011

Concrete Blonde

Having tried to book Gastro Park but only offered a booking for 6 pm or 9 pm, we had booked dinner at Lotus for last night (Thursday), which is a favourite of ours.  However I saw a piece in Delicious Magazine about a new restaurant called Concrete Blonde, so decided to change our booking.  It is under Hugo's at 33 Bayswater Road, Potts Point.  I was a bit worried about it, as the website was uber cool which usually means all style but no substance, but then saw a piece by Terry Durack in the SMH Magazine, so decided it was worth a visit, particularly as we had made a pact to visit as many new restaurants as we could.  
Boy, are we glad we did.  It's obviously just opened, and I'll bet in a couple of weeks' time, it will be very hard to get a booking.  The Head Chef is Patrick Dang, formerly of Fratelli Paradiso, Salt and MG Garage, as well as international positions.  Very impressive.

On arrival we were knocked out by the decor - really fabulous outdoor area with tons of heaters.  Because it was a beautiful night, the owner (or one of them?) Peter Polovin opened the fabulous fabric roof so we could enjoy the night.

The kitchen is amazing, with fantastic wood fired grills. 
We couldn't help but count the kitchen staff - 10.  Sadly not enough floor staff - more on that later.  
We had a drink and a couple of tasters whilst waiting for our other guests.  We ordered the 'Lolli Pork' (Zhenjiang Black Vinegar Toffee with Cumquat Preserve and a hint of Horseradish).  Fabulous.
And the 'KFQ!?' (Fried Quail Kentucky Style with Watermelon Relish, Ancho Chilli, Cilantro and Ranchero Dressing.  Really amazing.
When our other guests arrived, we moved to the table.  By now the restaurant was virtually full.
The feature wall with the fireplace is extraordinary.
We all chose a dish, which we shared.
Clarence River Jumbo Prawns
Lemongrass Marinade, Cucumber & Pomelo Salad, Peanut, Nam Prik Dipping Sauce

Duck from Tinder Creek
Free Range Duck over the fire with aromatic Spices, Watermelon, Witlof and Apricot Jam

Lamb Loin by Murraylands Farm
Cooked to pink, Red Cabbage Puree, Beetroot, Pumpernickel, Dill, Caraway
Ranger Valley 7+ Wagyu Beef
Hangar Steak, Aztec Spices, Papaya Mojo, Posole of two types of Corn, Ox Tail Tamale
Gnocchetti of Potato
Hand Made, Edamame, Sweet Corn Brown Butter emulsion, Tarragon, Shemiji Mushroom
Japanese 'Wafu' Salad
Oak Lettuce, Wakame, Daikon, Cucumber
Home Style Rustic Fries
Red Aioli, Green Ketchup

Really fabulous food.

But back to the floor staff.  There just weren't enough.  It was very hard to order wine, and in fact to order the meal or even attract someone to get the bill.  Shame.  The waiters had the ability to look right through you.  Annoying.

Interesting toilet decor.  Maybe make sure you have your IPhone with the Torch App!

Around $100 per head.  So, service aside - would have to give it

9/10          Highly Recommended.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Back in Sydney - Sunday lunch at home

Spent Sunday morning replenishing the pantry/fridge after being away for a month!  Lane Cove shopping centre is now great for a fantastic breakfast followed by the obligatory Coles or Woolworths run, then Thomas Dux, Hudson Meats and a surprisingly good fish shop - LCFS (Lane Cove Fish Supply).  Just make sure you read the labels and buy Australian!
We breakfasted at Firefly.  Lovely ambience, gas heaters, the best looking muffins in the world, good coffee and delicious food.
We both had the Breakfast Bruschetta with two poached Eggs, Bacon, roast Tomatoes and Hollandaise on Sanoma Sourdough toast.
Another bonus is a lovely market - ALIVE, Art & Design Makers Market - Sundays 9 am to 3 pm once a month.

We bought some adorable hand made clothes for our soon to be born grandson at 'Four Little Cupcakes'.  What a clever lady.
We decided to cook an entree of Prawns, followed by fish fillets - Pearl Perch.

I really felt like good old fashioned garlic prawns - perfect for a rather cold Sydney Sunday.  Peeled the prawns, then chopped three large cloves of Garlic, one small red Chilli, freshly cracked black pepper and Extra Virgin Oil, which I heated in the oven till it was all bubbling hot.
Added the prawns, and cooked through.
 Then served with a fresh Sourdough bread to soak up the delicious chilli garlic oil.
 Delicious.  And this was just entree!
 I wanted to do something a bit different with the fish.   So I made a sauce of chopped Red Onion, two Garlic Cloves, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, chopped Truss Tomatoes, White Wine, Sweet Chilli Sauce, freshly cracked Black Pepper, and a dash of Caramelised Vinegar, chopped fresh Oregano, Thyme and Italian Parsley - and cooked till thick.
Put some Basmati Rice in the microwave to cook.  Meanwhile I cooked some chopped Kale, rinsed and drained with knobs of butter on top and freshly Cracked Black Pepper which I then gently steamed.
I then added the fish to the sauce, and gently poached.
By now the smells were driving us insane.  But it was well worth the wait.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The best Hamburger ever?

The best burger ever - and right here in Mission Beach FNQ.

With the lot, hold the pineapple, add BBQ sauce!  Sinful and delicious.

Whole BBQ Chicken w Chimichurri Sauce

Our holiday is coming to an end here in Mission Beach, and as usual we were trying to use ingredients from the pantry.  It's very hard to get good deli ingredients here, although Woollies does have all the essentials and more, so we always bring some with us.  We had a jar of Dorina (named after the mother of the company founder) Chimichurri sauce in the pantry, and thought it would be lovely with chicken.  We had the 'hot' version.
There is no butcher here, the nearest being at El Arish a 20 minute drive away.  The chicken at Woolworths is just not very nice, so we bought a whole chicken at El Arish Butchers - very good meat and incredibly cheap.   I decided to butterfly the chicken and use the Chimichurri as a marinade.  This is apparently Dorina's authentic Argentinian sauce/marinade made from Parsley, Canola Oil, Capsicum, Vinegar, Garlic, Chilli and secret herbs and spices!

Whilst this was marinating in the fridge, I found a packet of Faro which I thought would make an interesting side dish.  Farro is an ancient wheat grain, but different to Spelt, being firmer.
I soaked it in water for 20 minutes, rinsed and drained, then tossed with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a chopped Onion and chopped Garlic.  Also way too much freshly cracked Black Pepper and freshly ground Dried Red Chilli.   I added a large cup of White wine and let that absorb, then two cups of Chicken Stock.
I then added fresh chopped Continental Parsley, Sage and Oregano, and broccoli florets, chopped celery and chopped Dutch Carrots.
Then put the lid on, turned to a low simmer and let the Farro absorb the liquid.

I had two small sweet potato so put them in the oven.  I love just roasting them plain - no oil, no nothing.
Then we put the chicken on the BBQ, boney side down so the skin wouldn't burn.  We figured it would take around 40 - 45 minutes. 
And by now we needed some refreshment!
OMG - the smell from the BBQ was fabulous.
I put the Farro on a platter ready for the chicken.

I scattered some chopped Italian Parlsey and sliced Spring Onion over the chicken, cut the Sweet Potatoes open, and served.

Di-Licious!  And very spicey.