Saturday, December 23, 2006

Fruit Tart

I made this delicious fruit tart and it was very easy but took a little more time.

First you need to make the pastry cream.

Pastry cream

*1 cup milk
*75g castor sugar
*3 egg yolks
*25g plain flour
*1 tsp butter


Heat milk slowly with 50g of the sugar. Whisk the yolks with 25g of the sugar. When yolk mixture is pale and thick, add the flour and then gradually whisk in the boiling milk. Transfer to a clean saucepan and stir continually until the custard thickens. It will thicken quickly so stir vigorously.

Place pan on a simmer mat and cook for 2 minutes, stirring all the while. Remove from heat, scoop into a bowl and skim the surface with the teaspoon of butter to prevent a skin forming. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Note: Can be made two days ahead and stored in the fridge if that is more convenient. When needed, push the pastry cream through a strainer into a bowl to loosen it and to ensure there are no lumps.

Once the pastry cream is made, you can start making the tart.

*1 quantity shortcrust pastry
*1 egg white
*1 quantity pastry cream
*250ml cream (1 cup)
*500g fresh fruit
*200g pot of fruit jam (redcurrant, blackcurrant, apple)
*2 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 200C.


Make shortcrust pastry according to your favourite recipe or just buy it from the supermarket in frozen packets like what I did. It still tastes great. Line a 26cm loose-bottomed flan tin or 6 x 12cm loose-bottomed flan tins with pastry, foil and pastry weights. Chill for 30 minutes.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden-brown. Carefully remove pastry weights and foil. Brush base of tarts with the egg white and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes. Allow tart shells to cool completely.

Press the cool pastry cream through a coarse sieve into a large bowl. Whip cream to firm peaks. Whisk cream with pastry cream.

Melt jam in a small pan with the water, stirring until it is quite smooth. Remove from heat.

Fill pastry case or cases with pastry cream. Arrange fruit tightly on top of the cream so that there are no spaces. Carefully brush the fruit with the cooled jam.

And there you have it, a beautifully tasty fruit tart. You can put any fruits on, but berries always look so good.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Izakaya Chuji

Izakaya Chuji is a tiny Japanese restaurant located on Lonsdale Street near the corner of Russell Street. Its a long narrow room with these strange woven lounge type chairs that you find in your doctors waiting room.

The service is generally very matter of fact from the few times I have been there. There's not much smiling from the waitresses but they get things done efficiently.

Along with the tea we always get, we had some sake this time as well. The warm house sake had a smooth texture that was very pleasant.

For entrees, it was the obligatory Yukke, raw beef. I love the flavours and texture of the raw beef, served with julienned cucumber and a light soy sauce mixture. As Kevin doesn't eat raw beef, there was more for Dennis and I.

The other entree was the Salt and Pepper Squid. Here I am eating the perfectly done squid, with my terrible chopsticks skill on full display and that strange raised index finger that I just can't put down when holding chopsticks.

Next we had the sushi and sashimi platter. The fish was fresh as usual with my favourite being the tuna. I like the firmer texture of the tuna more than salmon, which is usually everyone else's favourite.

After eating all those entrees, we were nearly full so got just a curry beef and beef noodle for mains. The curry beef had a lighter flavour than Indian curries.

The only thing that I didn't really like was the beef noodle. The sauce was a tomatoe based one but it also had this sweet flavour, sort of like plum sauce. The flavours didn't work together in my opinion.

Overall Rating: 13/20, Good food and servie. There isn't anything spectacular like other more high profile Japanese restaurants, but the food is good and value for money.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Crown Conservatory

Crown Conservatory is located, as the name suggests, at the Crown Entertainment Complex a.k.a Crown Casino. At night, Crown Conservatory has an a la carte menu, but 99% of people who go there have the buffet. At about $65 on weekends, its not exactly cheap. I used to think that the price was still worth it. After this last visit, I have to reassess my opinion.

The restaurant is very open and is huge inside, with the marble ceilings about 10 metres high. The view out onto the Yarra river is beautiful. The place looks great, from the table to the cutlery.

The service was ok, with plates removed efficiently. The drinks waiter wasn't very good though. Having been seated, he asked us what we wanted to drink but didn't even bother to give us a drinks menu. When I asked for the drinks menu, he only provided one. Was it too hard to give one drinks menu to everyone? Hmmmm.

I used to love eating at the Conservatory and despite the expensive price for this modestly paid engineer, still felt it was value for money because you were getting quality food. However, the standards seemed to have dropped dramatically, or my own personal standards have gone up too much. I think its the standard of the food that has gone down. There was hardly any hot food that I liked at all. My favourite from previously, the beautifully tender roast beef was nowhere to be seen.

What most people come for is the seafood buffet. The oysters were nice but a few weren't too fresh. I loved the yabbies previously but again, nowhere to be seen. Given that they may be seasonal, I'll let them go on that one. However, the blue swimmer crab was atrocious. They were definitely not fresh and most of the meat had gone almost runny. I cracked one of the legs and the meat totally spurted out like water. This happens when you cook the crabs a while ago and leave them in the fridge. I have done this before at home and that's the results. So possibly, some of the crabs were from previous days. I tried quite a few pieces and the results were the same. The prawns were the only saving grace and were still sweet and juicy.

My favourite part of most meals is the dessert. Again, I was let down by the quality of the desserts. The cakes were still ok but not of the quality of previously. The cooked-on-demand crepes had disappeared. My beloved rum and raisin ice cream was gone. The 7 flavours of exotic ice cream had dropped to four, plain vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and something else I forget.

The chocolate fountain was still there at least, but had been moved from centre stage where everyone used to love crowding around it to a lonely place in the corner where no one even bothered walking over to. That's a shame since it was also fun to see people dispense the chocolate onto a variety of different things and the obligatory person who dispensed it straight into their mouth.

Either by coincidence, or probably due to the stastical nature of probability in that reducing numbers will result in less favourable choices (we're in a casino after all, I have to talk about probability), all the foods that I loved were all gone. The roast beef was replaced by cheap sausages, the yabbies were gone, the crepes were gone, the rum and raisin ice cream replaced by vanilla. I no longer feel the buffet is good value for money as I used to. I might go back occasionally since its still better than other buffets, but won't be going too often due to the price.

If I had rated this place previously, I would have given it 15, but this time I have dropped my rating.

Overall Rating: 12/20, Food not as good as previously but still good. Value for money has dropped since the quality and choice of food is not as great anymore.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christophes Cafe Dublin

This is Afrobev's absolute favourite place to eat when I am in Dublin. The food is nothing short of fantastic.

For Christophes Website visit

Thursday, November 23, 2006

VFS Dinner Dance 2006

Last Saturday was our company's annual dinner dance. This year it was held at one of those shed things near Docklands. Not quite as extravagant as last year's party at the Grand Hyatt hotel but still enjoyable. This year, our table dressed up as Zorro. Here I am doing my best Asian Zorro impression. I wanted to use the forks instead of the fencing sword because it was really cool to be able to throw the forks up and catch them again.

Dinner consisted of alternating dishes between people on the table. For entrees, I got the Prawn, avocado and cucumber salad with piquant dill sauce. It was presented beautifully but tasted rather bland. The prawns lacked any flavour and no other flavours were distinguishable except for the cream texture of the avocado.

Alternating people got the other entree. Thanks to Jessie for letting me try a bit of all her dishes throughout the night. The other entree was Palm sugar glazed chicken with spicy citrus salad. Again, full marks for presentation. It looked wonderful with all the different colours and shapes. However, the chicken was again rather flavourless. The salad was a very poor imitation of a Thai style salad.

For mains, I hoped I got the Roasted eye fillet on herb potato cake with pink pepper sauce or I would have swapped. I did get the eye fillet, but was extremely disappointed. The beef was way overcooked and extremely tough, ruining a great cut of meat. The potato cake was not good, and the beautiful pink pepper looked excellent but didn't work well with the beef at all.

The other mains dish Pan fried rockling with sauteed Asian vegetables and citrus with ginger sauce. I didn't like the ginger sauce or the vegetables, but the fish was very good. It was cooked well, firm but not crumbling. It had a good fresh flavour.

Side dishes consisted of Roasted potatoes with rosemary and garlic. A classic accompaniment to any meal. Potatoes were cooked just right, crispy on the outside but still moist on the inside. The seasonal vegetables were simply steamed. The rocket and pear salad sounded good on paper but the pears were not ripe so had hardly any flavour.

Finally desserts were little servings of Lime tartlets (not shown), Lady finger donuts with warm chocolate sauce (not shown), Dark chocolate mousse with coffee sauce, and Pistachi pannacotta. I was thinking the Pistachio pannacotta would be the highlight of the night, but it turned out to be flavourless as well. The mousse was actually very good. I missed out on trying the donuts unfortunately. The lime tartlets were ok.

Finally, to round out the night, there were Australian cheeses. I liked the Brie the best. Although the honey "cheese" was very interesting. It tasted like honey that had been hardened together, so I don't know if it is technically a cheese.

The food looked great, but didn't taste that great. Still, I had a really fun night with all my friends from work. It's good to see what people are like outside of work.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Golden Pebble

Golden Pebble is located on the corner of Boronia and Stud Road in Wantirna. You wouldn't know it was a Yum Cha restaurant from outside since it looks like an expensive hotel. Inside the decor is very modern and clean. The white chairs and wooden grain tables are a departure from usual Yum Cha places. However, the chairs were a little too low, or the table too high and made it rather uncomfortable. Sometimes form needs to match function and be useful rather than just look good.

The yum cha itself was pretty standard affair. We ordered the usual different types of dumplings and meat and seafood dishes. It was all ok with the chicken feet "fong jiao" and prawn dumplings "har gow" being the best.

My other favourite is usally the prawn rice rolls "har cheung". This one was ok but needed to be steamed a bit longer. The soy sauce also needed a bit more time in the wok.

For dessert, we all had a bowl of the hot tofu "dou foo far" as it was on special that day at $1 for two bowls, bargain. I also had the Chinese custard donuts "nai wong sar yong". It was delicous but after my third one, was getting slightly too much.

Overall the restaurant is nicely decorated and the food is ok. It's not the best but not the worse either. The best part was the very cheap prices, working out to about $12 each after we ate a lot since we all hadn't eaten breakfast.

Overall Rating: 12/20, Food ok and very cheap.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Thaila Thai

Thaila Thai is located on Lygon Street, but not in the Carlton end as I found out after searching previously and not finding it. It is instead located way down the other end of Lygon Street in East Brunswick. I was intending to go to another restaurant but it was full, and then saw Thaila Thai which I had also wanted to go to previously. Hence I gave it a try.

Once you step inside Thaila Thai, the effect you get is like stepping into Asia. The kitchen is open and you can see everyone rushing around the smell, sight and noise of the cooks with their woks is just like in Asia. The restaurant was totally packed that night and full of noise. We decided to sit outside since it was such a beautiful night. For some reason, I always get stung by mosquitoes while no one else does. My meat must be more tender. Apart from two small mozzie bites, it was perfect outside. There was also lots of other people sitting outside, but not on nice tables under heated umbrellas like on the other side of Lygon. No, at Thaila, its cheap tables and chairs and again that feel of eating outside in Asia.

We ordered mixed satay skewers for entrees. The peanut satay sauce was perfectly nutty without being too sweet or salty. The chicken skewers were nicer as they were still moist whilst the beef skewers seemed a bit overdone and slightly chewy.

Mains consisted of beef Thai salad. I just love eating Thai salads since the flavours are so taste-bud-exciting (I made this phrase up since I can't think of the correct word). However, this salad was too sour and salty. It didn't have the right mix of lightness, mainly due to using lemons rather than limes I think. Limes juice tends to give off a much more complex mix of sour whereas lemon juice is usually overpoweringly sour.

The fried rice was good with that "wok" flavour that I love. There were also generous chunks of meat scattered throughtout the rice.

Finally, the red curry chicken had good flavours. Thai curries are generally a bit salty so if you eat it alone it doesn't work well. But pour it over rice and its perfect.

Overall, this is a very vibrant cheap eat restaurant. It has a good bustling atmosphere. You come here expecting cheap good food and that's what you get. There is absolutely no presentation of the food. Service is good. The prices are quite cheap as the servings are very large. I would come here again and sit outside to eat on a good weather day since it feels so comfortable.

Overall Rating: 12/20, Food is good and cheap. Come here for a relaxed, easy meal with friends.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Thaila Thai on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Chocolate Pudding....From A Box

Look at this chocolate pudding, doesn't it look delicious. Well it was delicious, and I made it. Well actually White Wings made it, I just mixed the contents of the box together and baked it.

Yes yes, I can hear all you food snobs tsk tsking me now. This pudding was the White Wings Chocolate Pudding box mix. I don't care if it comes from a box, as long as it tastes good, which it did. Having said that though, it wasn't fantastic, so I will search for a proper chocolate pudding recipe where I can add in real rich chocolate and make it totally delicious. Until then, I will eat this pudding and enjoy it too.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Kin and Jo's Reception Dinner

Firstly, congratulations to my good friend Kin and his wedding to Jo. I wish them the best in the future. You can read more details and see more photos about their wedding here. Below is Kin and Jo making their grand entrance at the reception dinner waving to everyone like they were celebrities, totally hilarious.

Jo in her red dress that she had changed into later in the night looking stunning in this "Hollywood" pose that I had convinced her to do for this photo.

Me posing for a photo with Kin putting on my silly face.

Now onto the actual food part of the evening. The first good sign of the night was that they were serving nibbles to guests at the start of the night. This meant that guests who had arrived early weren't left to starve waiting for other guests to arrive.

The first dish served was a cold platter entree. The cold platter contained jellyfish, roast port, barbeque pork and two hams that were a mixture of different meats rolled together and then sliced. Everything was cold, hence the name Cold Platter. I like the two slices of mixture ham things the most along with my usual favourite of the jellyfish.

The next dish was a crab claw. It too was good and similar to the Sugar Cane Prawn Balls you get at Yum Cha. The crab claw is mainly a mixture of prawn and fish meat beaten together so that it is fairly firm wrapped around a crab claw. Gone are the days when mud crab claws were used and you could taste the sweet meat of the claw. Nowadays, its all imported crab claws that I have bought from an Asian supermarket for about $15 a kilo. The claw had absolutely no flavour and was just there for decoration.

The soup was next and it was Shark Fin soup. There were some shark fin in the soup but shark fin is bascially flavourless and relies on the soup to make it taste nice. The soup was a bit bland for me.

The lobster was the next dish. A half side of lobster was steamed and then covered with XO sauce. The XO sauce was way too salty and not that good. Parts of the lobster that didn't have the XO sauce were very sweet and tender. A lighter sauce would have worked better and highlighted the lobster instead of masking its flavour.

The best dish of the night for me was the Abalone with Sea Cucumber and Mushrooms. The abalone was sweet and cooked until it was tender, which takes quite a bit of cooking for those of you who have cooked abalone before. Equally tender was the sea cucumber. Most places might cook the abalone until it was tender but then forget, or don't care, and just throw the sea cucumber in so that it is still very hard. The mushroom was also very juicy and full of flavour.

The Steamed Barramundi with Soy Sauce and Spring Onions rounded out the night's meal. Fried rice was served with the barramundi. The fish had nice smooth flesh.

The last food item was the wedding cake. It was a lemon cake with lemon cream filling. The lemon cake and filling was good and already quite sweet. The marzipan frosting was extremely chewy and extremely sweet. I didn't like it so peeled most of it off and just ate the sponge part of the cake.

Overall, it was a good meal and I had a good time. Congratulations again to Kin and Jo.

Golden House

Golden House Chinese Restaurant is located on 760 Toorak Rad Hawthorn East. It is the latest in a crop of Hot Pot restaurants popping up around Melbourne. This particular hot pot place is an all you can eat one. It costs $20 for the all you can eat hot pot or $25 which includes all you can eat Peking Duck.

The restaurant interior is comfortable and still looks good as it is new. The chairs and table are fairly large, enough space to place the hot pot and all the dishes that will house the various food.

We chose the hot pot with the clear soup and the hot chilli soup as our base to dip all our meats and vegetables.

The range of meats and vegetables is fairly limited since it is all you can eat and they can't afford to give all the expensive options. We picked the usual beef, fish balls, squid balls, crab balls, prawns, tofu, vegetables etc. The beef was quite good and all the other balls were the usual flour made stuff you get from a frozen packet. They also had side dishes of cooked food that you can order. The better entrees were limited to one dish per two people. My friend thought it was one dish of EACH type per two people, so we were marking two dishes of everthing since there was four of us. The waitress then told us it was only one dish out of all the dishes as I had thought earlier. We eventually chose the jellyfish, which was good, and the beef with chilli, which was bad. Other unlimited entrees included things such as pan fried dumplings, spring onion pancakes, beef pancakes and Chinese pork buns, all of which was good.

Overall this place is fairly good value for money. The range of hot pot food options is limited but the meat options is ok. The side dishes are also quite good. Service is passable and the atmosphere is quite good, with noise being well dampened by the walls. The only annoying part was that the hot pot took FOREVER to boil. Once it got going, it was good but they really should throw out nearly empty gas rather than trying to get the last bit out of it.

Overall Rating: 12/20, I would go back if I wanted to eat hot pot and couldn't be bothered doing it at home. The fact that you know it will only cost $20 and you will get full is one advantage it has over traditional hot pot houses with more options, but you may be shocked to find that the meal cost $40 when you get the bill.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Bbq at Wei's House

At the weekend, a group of us from work met up at Wei's house for a Bbq as well as working on our costumes for our work dinner dance. Each person brought a bit of food and shared it. I brought the baked berry cheesecake that I had made the night before.

The other food that people brought were

Hien's Prawn Crackers and Spring Rolls
Prawn Crackers

Spring Rolls

Khemara's sushi that he personally made. He and I surprised everyone in that two young guys could actually cook something.

Esther's Potato Salad, restaurant quality with a nice creamy sauce and crunchy bacon bits.
Potato Salad

Sausages and beef that Trung and Hien bought on behalf of everyone.
Sausages and Beef

Wei cooking her "hand made dumplings", which everyone said was delicious. Only later did she tell us they are "hand made" but just not by her hands hahaha.

Jessie and Alan brought drinks, but the drinks aren't that exciting to look at so I didn't take a photo of it.

We sat around and ate for quite a while. From left to right we have Khemara, Esther, Wei, Hien and Hien's daughter Jemila.
Group 1

From left to right we have Trung, Alan and Jessie.
Group 2

Finally we have myself, Wei and Esther.
Group 3

I missed out of a photo of Wei's husband Fei so she will have to forgive me. Once all the eating was done, which took a good 3 hours, we finally got down to working on our costumes for this year's dinner dance. Last year, our dragon costumes was a hit, winning a $400 prize. We also had heaps of fun making it and everyone got involved.

Dinner dance 2005

This year, we have decided to do Zorro with his horse and some bad guys. Here we are below painting and making the horse.

Hien squeezed her pregnant belly into the Zorro costume to give us a taste of how it will look.

We finished all the costumes just before dinner time and are set for the dinner dance in a couple of weeks time. I shall blog on that when it arrives and show you all how our costumes look.