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