Friday, September 30, 2011

La Belle Miette – (Melbourne)

Owned by some French macaron lovers who had been properly trained in the trade in Paris before opening shop in Melbourne,  this mini patisserie is definitely of world class standards.  From the innovative combinations of flavours which can’t be found even within France,  ranging from macarons  made from the 1st drops of Rose Absolute Otto as opposed to the 2nd extractions of the readily available Rose Water,  fresh Citrus Lemon oil or the Fleur de Cerisier Sakura blossom flavoured gerbets with infused Sake flavour.     The macaron texture is more on the softer and chewy side,   which makes it just a tiny bit behind Paris Laduree or Dalloyau salon de the, but better than Pierre Herme.  


Cute little macaron shop on Hardware Lane.
Within the CBD,  easy enough to find !  


6 Flavours -
Sakura flower with Sake, 
Pimms no. 1 & Pomegranate, 
Fleur de Sel Caramel,
Gianduja with feuilletine,
Mariage Freres earl grey tea with chocolate ganache,
& 1st drop Rose Absolute.


Pimms & Pomegranate -
A little hint of alcohol with a refreshing pomegranate filling!



Mariage Freres Earl Grey tea, from France -


Mariage Freres infused,  Earl Grey with Chocolate Macaron -
Strong tea aroma in a macaron gerbet. 
Nothing to complain about!  Nice and moist inside.



Fleur de Sel Caramel -
French Salted caramel. 
This is at least Laduree standards, if not more.  And better than Pierre Herme.


Take away boxes -



2nd Round on another day -
72% Venezuela Single Origin Chocolate,
Olive Oil and Vanilla,
Citrus Lemon Perfume,
Kir Royal with Moet Chandon champagne and Cassis.


Olive Oil and Vanilla -
Can’t believe how addictive this could become!


Hansi artisanal Lemonade from France -

Lovely and sensible flavours,
and done to almost perfect standards,
if only they could make the macaron shell a little more crisp on the outside.
Amazing stuff and a must visit !






Price: AUD $15-20 per person
Food: ♕♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Opening Hours –
Monday to Friday  10am – 6pm
Saturday 10am – 4pm

Address: 30 Hardware Lane, Melbourne
Ph: (03) 9024 4528

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Boulangerie Saveurs de Pains - (Paris)

   Parisian French bread, pastries and whatever comes out from the ovens are honestly quite hard to beat in terms of execution on an international level,  quite frankly speaking.  There does not seem to be much innovations or queer interpretations of traditional recipes which tries too hard to fix what is not already broken over here.   The strongest point about such places lie strictly in how everything is pre-calculated and made according to exact specifications,  often to an accuracy to an unprecedented millimeter in thickness or temperature centigrade in order to consistently head the top of the game and remain utmost competitive.   Perfectionists come in many forms,  some stay put yet continually improve the original recipes and presentation until they become finally satisfied with the flawless performance,  such as experienced during this breakfast session. 

I personally prefer shops which tries to at least translate traditional French pastry recipes pretty spot on into a common language more understood amongst international foodies,  before they go about reinventing the wheel…  Get it right first,  before improvising!


Boulangerie Saveurs de Pains -
A chain with 4-5 outlets,  and something never heard of and only visited because I was doing some bank work in the vicinity.


House Made Pastries and Tarts -
Looks a little rough,  but no one will know until they taste the final product!


Croissant -
There are croissants and there are CROISSANTS.  This flaky but not overly bready croissant version was full of buttery taste and in fact even better than the one I had at Paris’s Laduree store.   ~  9/10



Flan -
An eggy custard tart, with some very obvious egg yolk presence it’s almost like a French version of a Spanish Tocino de Cielo.  This was absolutely stunning with the perfect combination between egginess, vanilla,  flaky pastry as well as a pretty looking brulee top.   A flan can’t be seriously this good on theory,  but this is the reality.  It was drop dead gorgeous. ~  10/10



A few more Sweet tooth options to Try, Upon the next visit. 
The Flan and the Croissant were on the top of the world quality.  But how will the rest of their selections fare, relative to the rest of the world which is fast catching up??  But right at this moment,  Paris pastries seem to be without peers.  Until next time and trying out other items !



Price: Euro 8 per person
Food: ♕♕♕♕♕

Address: 2 Rue Verrerie, 75004,   4ème arrondissement,  Paris

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sugardough Panificio & Patisserie - (Melbourne)

  Everything is home made in Sugardough.   It’s found on the other extreme end of Lygon Street, around 10 minutes away from the touristy and Melbourne Uni students favourite stretch of the Italian Street.    The Brunswick East end of Lygon street is really thriving these days,  and building up a reputation which could rival the better known Italian end of Lygon Street.



Hats and Coats Hanger -



Panificio and Patisserie -
On the other end of the little known part of Lygon Street,
not really covered by travel books for some reason, hopefully about to be changed..


All Home Made Bread and Pastries, Pies, etc,
From their in situ back kitchen…


Plenty of Muffins, Tarts
and a few Pastries and Cakes -


Hepburn Spring Natural Mineral Water -


Home Made Vegetables and Camembert Quiche – AUD $7.90
The pastry was a little dense than I had anticipated.  The Cheesy quiche was good in flavour but somehow I think it was a little too wobbly set and needs more eggy taste.  Not bad and artisanal in style,  but may be not my cup of tea?  The highlight was the homemade Tomato salsa   ~   7/10



Mandarin Danish Pastry – AUD $4.0
This was awesome, and much better than the above quiche.  The flaky pastry was well layered yet slightly moist,  and the mandarin segments were slightly syrupy/macerated,  dusted with powder sugar.  This was really really good,  and I wished the quiche was of the same quality.  ~  10/10


Great for some bready-carb breakfast, or a quick lunch -

Poor me -
When can my owner give me a proper home made bomboloni or cornetto!  From Sugardough Panificio & Patisserie ? 

Price: AUD $16 per person
Food: ♕♕♕♕

Opening Hours -
Tues -  Fri         7:30am to 5:00pm
Sat   -               7:30am to 4:00pm
Sun  -               8:00am to 4:00pm

Address: 163 Lygon St, Brunswick, 3057
(03)9380 4060


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Caprice - (Hong Kong)

Michelin 3 Stars

  I think I’m finally starting to get a grip on how to go about getting the best dining experience at Caprice,  unfortunately that’s with the benefit of hindsight after 4 meals there including this dinner.  It is the sole western restaurant in Hong Kong and within the whole of HK & Macau region,  1 of only 2 French restaurants to hold 3 Michelin Stars status.   Many locals have already voiced out over this lax rating,  even though everything does seem to be slightly scaled up across the board in Hong Kong’s guide -  I mean if they don’t give out enough stars, soothsayers will blast you for not understanding HK’s food scene.  Hand them out too loosely like a stamp on a coffee royalty card and you receive backfire for not knowing how to rate like the prestigious Michelin man either.  You’re doomed either way and can’t satisfy everyone!


Chateldon Mineral Water -  $90
*I believe having Lunch here at around a 1/3rd of the price at Caprice is actually more engagingly fun and better value’s worth.  As for dinner, I suspect relying on the seasonal Tasting Menu might not get you the best result, such as what we did tonight – you’re probably better off negotiating with the staff to serve you their signature dishes in either half portions, or substituting some of them into the Degustation!   Dishes at lunch are more contemporary and exploratory in recipes and presentation,  whereas dinner reverts back to more traditional French cooking style and transforms into yet another one of those French and British restaurants when you’re forced, not urged,  to wear a jacket.  Well I don’t mind it in theory because it shows respect to other diners and the restaurant,  but the food coming out of the kitchen had better be good enough to respect me and my diner’s stomach in return.      


Caprice’s Open Kitchen -
It is nice and bright.



Amuse Bouche/Canape -  Brioche of Cauliflower Cream and Garlicked Brioche with Spinach
Caprice easily gets the gong for serving the most lazy amuse bouche in the world,  for a Michelin 2-3 star grade restaurant.   Any self respecting kitchen will send out something which excites your mind and palate before the meal starts.   Here at Caprice it’s always another ‘carb’ stuffing you before another carb of bread basket.   To make matters worst,  this exact brioche bun is found downstairs in The Lounge in the tea set.   At lunch,  they give you bread sticks overly powered with garlic.  Seriously.  Nothing wrong with the taste (which is good on it’s own).  But you can find better amuse bouche appetizers in Japanese or nowadays even Cantonese restaurants in town   ~    2/10



Bordier Butter - 
Yes it is hand churned, organic, pretty creamy tasty.  I think I must have repeated that many times before as most starred restaurants are carrying this.  Except it is always Salted and Unsalted.  Yawn.  Where is the Seaweed or Yuzu or Espelette and Smoked Salt version?  Can’t we choose something exciting in a 3 Star restaurant?  (Or do I have to go to SOGO to buy them myself instead..)   Check out Petrus and Pierre.


Olive Bread and Sesame Brioche -
The bread is what I look up to when we visit Caprice.  It is made to an exceptional quality and definitely done by the hands of an expert.   If only they could get rid of the most ‘lazy amuse bouche’ in the world.  Imagine bringing some Japanese or European clients here and begin on a carb fest.   ~   9/10



Duck Foie Gras, Crapaudine Beetroot and Smoked Eel in Hazelnut Dressing -
Dotted with aged Balsamic.  This dish arrived looking pretty exciting and I was saying to myself at this stage thank god,  they must have improved! (well…)    The beetroot gelled duck gras can be eaten as is or spread on a brioche toast,  it was pretty good but doesn’t have much gras taste.  The smoked eel was smoky and its strong impact means it did work with the foie gras!  A pretty interesting dish…  ~  9/10


Morel Mushroom Consomme,  Alaskan King and Chateau Chalon Wine -
The recipe sounded fine, but the result was a little unexpected.  The morel consomme was so powerful in a savoury way,  we both commented that this tasted like a Chinese 猴頭菰 soup – and it killed any subtle crab sweetness, which itself was too stringy and compressed. Couldn’t detect said wine.  Not helped by a few floating peas which looked like floaters,  and flavour wise clashed with the whole thing.  A bit off balance?  ~   5/10


Vaucluse Green Asparagus, Black Truffle Tapenade, Burrata Cream and Balsalmic Vinegar -
The asparagus were ok-sweet and cooked well.  The burrata cream, pretty runny as it should, was a little weak in mozzarella flavour,  and there was an obvious lack of truffle influence in the tapenade.  And the dotted balsalmic is repetitive here with one of above dishes. Couldn’t really taste what the curd is like either.  A little dull tasting.  ~  7/10   


P1080058-1Langoustine Tail a la Plancha and Vegetable Pastilla in Sweet Spice Nage -
The Brittany sourced Langoustine has a good flavour and is accentuated with a subtle citrusy fruit, but was all the way cooked to well done. I guess I didn’t mind this knowing how these and related bugs, scampi or prawns get mushy quickly, I guess only the kitchen knows whether this is intended.   The sweet spice nage was also subtly good.  We held the biggest reservation about the pastilla, which sat on top a pile of brunoised green veggies, and not only was the whole thing a bit soggy,  the bottom was literally drowned and chewy.  The plating of this dish was very ordinary for a 3 Star restaurant.  ~  6.9/10

Roasted Suckling Pig, Black Sausage Burger,
Green Tomato Chutney in BBQ Sauce -
When this arrived,  I was in serious shock.  I’m paying over $1700 to get this tiny piece of pork rib and loin as my main course (degustation portion),  with 1 single strip of potato??  There was nothing ingenious about this main course either.   The black sausage came in the same brioche which we already had as our amuse bouche,  and Thomas Keller wouldn’t approve this repetitive use of elements.  The sausage doesn’t have much blood taste,  I guess that’s because it’s made from the suckling pig’s blood.  The pork meat on the positive side was cooked tenderly spot on.   This dish in all aspects,  was a little underwhelming.   ~   6/10


 Blood Sausage -
Nicely done,  but needed more taste to it.  And why that bun?  Honestly,  why use the bun everywhere and repetitively within the Four Seasons?  Even if it’s good its very repetitive!



Wagyu Beef Flank, Osetra Caviar Tartare and Confit Potato Poelees -
I’ve actually had this Australian wagyu before during lunch, and that dish was slightly more complex than this with a proper gratin.  This came with some minimalist pillars of slanted potatoes and savoy cabbage.   The beef is cooked well as expected,  the sauce was definitely very authentic in taste.    There are no elements of surprise though.   Which comes down to VALUE… Is it me or can I expect something more extraordinary and which the customer to see the heart put into the food recipe and dishing?   ~   7.5/10


Beef Tartare & Salad -
This tartare uses French Charolais beef instead.  Unfortunately,  the seasoning was totally off tonight.  It was really sour and a bit too wet.   This is possibly one of the most off balance steak tartare’s I’ve had,  which means the Osetra caviar became a little superflous as a consequence, as it couldn’t help make the dish better.   ~    2/10



Visit to the Cheese Room -
Said to be one of the best in Hong Kong with cheeses matured by fromager affineur, Bernard Antony and son,  also found in Pierre and Amber albeit with slightly less selections and the exclusive 3-4 year old Comte.

Cheese Board -
All properly matured…

Cheese Platter #1 -
Buche de Chevre from Pyrenees  (Goat milk),
Brin d'amour from Corsica  (Ewe’s milk covered in Juniper and Rosemary),
Époisses de Bourgogne from Côte-d'Or  (Runny Cow’s milk cheese),
Roquefort from Aveyron (Ewe’s Blue Cheese, famous for its Penicillium roqueforti mold)

Cheese Platter #2 -
Mimolette Extra-Vieille from Nord  (Aged Mimolette Cow’s milk cheese flavoured with Annatto)
Camembert from Normandy (Surface ripened creamy cow’s milk cheese)
Bernard Antony’s 4 Years Old Comte from Franche-Comte region -  (The extra aging makes it this cow’s cheese sharp and filled with calcium lactate crystals, amazing!)


Easter Eggs -
Instead of the usual mignardises,  the kitchen decided to give out these as a substitute instead,  which we were quite unhappy about.   I liked the idea of an easter theme,  and I have to admit these were one of the best Easter Eggs I’ve tasted in my life.   But part of the adventure of dining in a starred restaurant is not only the mains,  but the amusing starters and the ending petits fours,  where you can really see the creativity of the kitchen.   Besides,  why would I want to eat so much chocolates at the end of the meal?    That’s 0 out of 2 ticks out of the starting and ending courses,  from a 3 Star kitchen.




Wild Strawberry, Lavendar Blossom, Almond Crisps and Malaga Sorbet -
There’s been rumours that ever since the old Pastry Chef who came from Le Cinq directly left for Gaddi’s,  the new desserts aren’t as good.    This first dessert fortunately was quite enjoyable, the mixture of soft and hard textures, this was a dessert which was slightly on the sour side overall.  ~  9/10





Alpaco Chocolate Texture and Tropical Fruits, with Chocolate Raviolo -
The above dessert performed pretty well, but unfortunately the 2nd one wouldn’t quell the rumours that something is amiss.  The presentation of this was so different from all the past Caprice desserts,  it was a bit messy rather than classy.  Nevertheless it’s the taste which gives it more points!   The different chocolate textures of crumbs, deconstructed palet, ice cream, raviolo, etc wasn’t overly too special than buying them yourself and mixing it together,  but the biggest problem was the bitterness within.  Which,  clashed so much with the super sour and very passionfruit like puree lining the plate.  Imagine super sour eaten together with bitter chocolate bits?   ~  2/10      Eaten together with the basket of Easter Chocolate Eggs,  the whole night ended like we were eating at The Chocolate Library.     A true 3 Star restaurant,  would have planned their dinner or Tasting Courses not to have such lapses of concentration.   



Tea to finish up… 
And no petits fours tonight,  except the chocolate eggs (which we were suggested to take away), seriously,  in a 3 star restaurant?  Why do I need to wear a Jacket then?    Not a very complete package tonight, although the food were generally well executed,   just without much engaging food or elements of surprise.   Next time I am going to listen to my foodie friends, and order a la carte instead and I think they would make a much better and complete meal !



Price: HKD $1800 per person
Food: ♕♕♕ 3/4   (This meal only.  They carry more potential within the menu!)

Opening Hours:
Mon to Thurs -  8am to 8pm
Fri                  -  8am to 9pm
Address:  中環金融街8號四季酒店6樓
Podium 6, Four Seasons Hotel, 8 Finance Street, Central
Ph: 3196 8888


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