Thursday, February 28, 2008

Noosa - Cafe Le Monde

We have yet to figure out why Noosa is getting so popular these days. The stretch by the river and the beach is quite pretty but the town itself is nothing special really. I guess it is a convenient weekend getaway for people/surfers living in Brisbane.

Now back to the food. We were warned of the big portion but we simply did not want to listen. Typical of us. Here's my husband's mezze plate (A$14.9) with hummus, salami, roast veggies, feta and baguette. Enough to feed 4.
My steamed mussels with wine and tomatoes (A$21.9) came with bread too, it could be a meal on its own. Quite a few of the mussels stayed shut but the rest were zingy and nice with the tomato broth.
Reef fish of the day (A$27.9). I forgot what it was though - could be barramudi. Too full to enjoy it.
My hickory smoked baby ribs with spicy BBQ sauce, fried and salad ($A21.9). There must have been at least three pigs on the plate. Then I realised I don't like hickory smoke at all. How silly. I chowed it down nonetheless, all the time wondering where the spicy BBQ sauce was. Overall we enjoyed our meal. Service was good and friendly, and it's right by the beach with parking!

Cafe Le Monde

52 Hastings St., Noosa Heads, Queensland. Tel: (07) 5449-2366

Ballina - Pelican 181

Ballina turned out to be a very nice surprise all in all: nice accommodation (we stayed at the Ballina Manor), beautiful river, and wonderful food!

Set right by the river front Pelican 181 serves mainly seafood - and we were not complaining. To start my husband had the deep fried prawns. While he liked the batter and seasoning (very nice prawns too) we were not sure about the pile of Thai sweet sauce they were sitting on. It would have been much better if they served it on the side instead.

My calamari was very nicely cooked indeed: all the pieces were big and juicy.

My husband's surf and surf (haha) with king prawns and snapper. He said it's rather average unfortunately and not worth talking about to be honest.

My pasta with kind prawns with chili oil was a lot more successful. Loved the sauce and I couldn't even count how many prawns there were with so many of them.

Too bad we didn't have room for desserts!

Pelican 181
12-14 Fawcett St., Ballina, NSW. Tel: (02)6686-9181

Coffs Harbour - some market cafe

Coffs Harbour, dubbed the sunniest place in Australia (and there might be some truth in it), was one of the places we stopped during our coastal drive. We settled in one of the cafes which line a shopping street and ordered from the simple but no-nonsense menu.

Chicken wrap - pretty healthy and substantial.

My burger. Loved the serious stack of "stuff" - that's what I'm talkin' about!
Coffs Harbour, NSW.

Port Macquarie - Fusion 7

A small seaside town, Port Macquarie has a fair number of restaurants on the main drag. I don't like fusion food to begin with but since Fusion 7 was highly recommended by our hotel we decided to give it a try.

Pan fried haloumi salad. It was my husband's first time having haloumi cheese and he liked it. A little salty and it's got a nice texture.

My scallops with ginger and black bean sauce was OK. It was nicely cooked but it reminded me of how much I hate black bean sauce!

Pan-fried fish - I don't remember what it was. My husband said it was average. I think he was bored since it was too much fried stuff after his salad.

My roast duck on fried couscous I believe. The duck was chewy and I didn't really like that sweet and sour duck sauce at all. So fusion, so cliche.

I did like my dessert although they were not homemade. My first time trying coconut ice cream and I actually liked it (meanwhile my husband stole the raspberry sorbet off me)!
Fusion 7
124 Horton St., Port Macquarie, NSW. Tel: (02) 6584-1171

Aussie pies

A typical meat pie from a fast food pie shop. I got chunky beef (instead of minced) and onion and mushy peas on the side. Loved the peas and the pie is OK - I do prefer Cornish pasties .

wine grapes

We couldn't really resist not stealing wine grapes. They're so much smaller than the normal grapes and our official tasting notes: very tart and soar. D'oh!

Hunter Valley - Roberts

One of the gourmet restaurants in the Hunter region, Roberts is a quiet and romantic and just what we wanted.

It's a bit cheeky that we had to pay for bread (A$2/person), and it's a dollar a piece! It was worth it though as it arrived soft and warm. Perhaps we were hungry but it was really nice bread.

Some kind of complimentary appetizer. I think there's salmon in it but I didn't really feel like drinking fish that evening.

My husband started with a quail dish (A$26). It was succulent and very nicely cooked.

My scallops (A$26) were equally as nice - meaty and juicy!

Too bad his lamb (A$40) was a little overcooked. The meat was a very nice lean cut and it made up for the overcooking.

Real hand-cut chips (A$7.5) on the side.

My trout with scallops (A$38) was not what I expected. I thought I was going to get a whole river trout and silly me. It would make sense that I got ocean trout since we were in Australia. The fish was nice nonetheless, it was like salmon but only a lot more delicate, like veal to beef.

Some kind of liqueur coffee (A$15). My husband said it wasn't very nice. Oh well.

Halls Rd., Pokolbin, Hunter Valley. Tel: (02) 4998-7330

Hunter Valley hangover cure

Too bad I wasn't drinking otherwise I would have appreciated my breakkie a bit more. Bonus points for extra-thick toasts!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sydney - Manta Restaurant

We (more like me) totally came to this place for the mud crab! Before I dived right in I found myself a really nice starter: my spaghettini with hand picked spanner crab (A$26) was the best I had. The crab meat was so sweet and I liked the sauce which had a hint of chili.

My husband's grilled scallops ($A28) were also very nice with 3 big juicy scallops.

His catch of the day (A$38) - I think it was a was almost a month ago. He seemed pretty happy with it.

Now my mud crab. It was over 1KG and it came with a chili tomato was the best crab I had in my entire life! The meat was firm and sweet and the claws were so big I enjoyed every single bite of it. We found out later than the crab cost a whopping A$130 but I think it was worth it (my husband probably doesn't).

Manta Restaurant
Finger Wharf, Woolloomooloo. Tel: 9332-3822

Sydney - The Rocks Cafe

Saturday 3pm and way past lunch time we were hungry and very desperate. We saw The Rocks Cafe and walked in, not expecting much. The menu was small and expensive but I guess it's right in the dot of the most touristy spot in Sydney so go figure.

Not wanting to order something too fancy (like steak or fish) I went for the Pad Thai noodles, wanting something a little less heavy. Well. I should have gone for a burger. The dish tasted like it was made with one of those packet pad Thai kit you can buy from the supermarket - very tamed and nothing Thai at all. The bottom line is I guess I enjoyed the chunky vegetables and it was marginally healthier than a burger.

My husband's chicken pie. he said it was alright but we didn't understand why there was a layer of oil on the plate like it was garnish.

The meal came to almost A$60. Ouch!

The Rocks Cafe
99 George St., Sydney. Tel: 9247-3089

Sydney - Peter Doyle at the Quay

We go to Doyles at the Quay every time for its view, and the seafood of course. I am still a little confused whether it's the same group as Doyles at Watson Bay? In any case we like both of them and the Quay is infinitely more convenient for us.

My husband had calamari (A$18.2)to start. I stole a piece and I absolutely loved the salt and pepper batter. The passion fruit dip was very interesting (in a nice way) too.

I don't really remember much about my mussels (A$18.8) so I guess they were nothing special. Still it was nice to be able to eat shellfish as I wouldn't eat them normally, not in Shanghai anyway.

For mains my husband's grilled John Dory (A$40) was fresh and meaty. He loved it as once again you'd never find John Dory on the menu in Shanghai.

My whole West Australian lobster mornay (A$60.3) was very creamy and filling. Loved lobsters. I think I prefer my husband's version of lobster thermidor with lots of cheese better.

His mud cake with ice cream (A$12.9). Very moist and worth stuffing himself silly for it.

My home-made ice cream (A$10.9) was excellent: 3 scoops in total there was vanilla (OK), chocolate Ferraro (excellent) and boysenberry (excellent).
Dinner with drinks came close to A$210. We had a great time but I feel like maybe we will try somewhere different next time.

Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay, Sydney. Tel: 9252-3400

Sydney - Machiavelli

Machiavelli is another one of our favourite haunts in Sydney. I can never get enough good Italian food! I can't help but to get excited every time I see that big table in the middle of the restaurant with all the cold cuts and cheese. Hmmmm.

Good thing we were sharing the antipasto misto (A$40) as it was huge and packed full of stuff!
We managed to fill up our plates twice each. We loved every single item on the plate I wish we could go back for more!

My husband's fillet steak (A$43). The steak was 3 inches thick! He said it was a very nice cut and it was cooked to perfection.

I ordered a pasta as my main as I was way too full. I guess I was too busy moaning about how full I was and I forgot to take a picture of my linguine gamberi (A$35). It had so many prawns it took me forever to finish it.

Our meals with drinks and teas came to A$185. We need to go back soon!

123 Clarence St., Sydney. Tel: 02 9299 3748

Sydney - Retro Cafe

We pretty much visit Sydney once a year and we find ourselves back again and again to Retro Cafe. A small coffee shop with art deco decor and hearty food, it's a perfect place for a shopping break.

My strawberry shake was more milky then ice creamy...I definitely prefer thick ones.

I like the fact that when you order burger in Australia you automatically get the works: bacon, egg, cheese, beetroot or gherkins, veg and tomatoes. No messing around like in White Spot.
Our burgers were around A$15 each.

Retro Cafe
49 Market St., Sydney. Tel: 02 9261 3443

Virgin Atlantic Hong Kong Lounge

We didn't expect much from the Virgin lounge in Hong Kong but it's pretty spacious and convenient. And we loved the food menu - we got presented a proper menu instead of a buffet spread. Nice! The menu for the day had a number of usual English fare: scotch eggs, samosas, beef wellington, curry and some desserts. We weren't even hungry and we were torn with choices!

There was no way I would go without scotch eggs so here we go. Unfortunately they looked much better than they actually were. I also wasn't keen on the fact that the eggs were heated, which made the sausage mixture tasted greasy. Nonetheless I was happy to have my scotch-egg fix somewhat satisfied.

The food and service on our HK-Sydney flight were nothing special. Basically one is paying extra for a flat bed. Here's Henry enjoying his space and the inflight entertainment.

Element Fresh

Another lunch visit to Element Fresh. I started off with some smoked salmon maki rolls with cream cheese and spring onions (RMB32) this time. They were quite well made (didn't fall apart) but why so stingy with the smoked salmon?? I could hardly taste anything it was like eating rice rolls.

C's spicy tilapia fish set (RMB55). She said the fish was nicely cooked and the salsa on top was interesting.

My sweet and sour duck set (RMB48). The sweet and sour sauce was very tasty and tangy and duck is a little more interesting than the usual pork. Will order it again.
Element Fresh
4/F, KWah House, 1028 Huai Hai Middle Rd. (nr. Dong Hu Rd.), Shanghai . Tel: 5403-8865