Bau Truong, Cabramatta

One of the great things about Sydney is it’s cultural diversity. I love how there are little pockets of Sydney where there are large ethnic communities, meaning that you can go to that suburb of Sydney and allow yourself to be immersed in a different culture for a day. To me, Cabramatta is one of those suburbs. Known as Sydney’s “Little Vietnam”, it’s home to many Vietnamese Australians and lots of Vietnamese food!

Today we’re here to grab some lunch and some snacks. We start off at Bau Truong, one of the more well-known Vietnamese restaurants along John St. Even though it’s quite late the restaurant is still brimming with people. The service is brisk and we’re quickly ushered to our table and given menus, and the waitress comes back several times to try and get our order.

Beef noodle soup – $10.00

Eventually JC and B both decide on getting the beef pho, the beef noodle soup which is a quintessentially Vietnamese dish. The rare slices of beef cook in the hot broth, and underneath the garnish of coriander and spring onions is a mound of slippery rice noodles. The broth is deep and flavoursome and both JC and B are happily slurping away whilst Queen Chu and I await our dishes.

Special BBQ pork chops with rice – $12.00

Continue reading Bau Truong, Cabramatta

Adriano Zumbo Patisserie, Balmain and Belle Fleur Fine Chocolates, Rozelle

Continuing on from our very satisfying brunch at Kazbah on Darling, we drove further up Darling Street to Adriano Zumbo’s patisserie. It had been a few weeks since his appearance on Masterchef Season 2 with the fear-inspiring macaron tower, but obviously the Zumbo craze was yet to die down since we could spot the patisserie a mile away from the seemingly permanent queue of customers outside.

We joined the queue and I saw a lot of people who were walking past slow down as they got to Zumbo’s patisserie and wonder what all the fuss was about. I also spotted these t-shirts as we approached the store-front – I heart zumbo oh yes I do (but not enough to buy the t-shirt, I’d rather buy more cakes haha)

When we finally got into the store itself it was madness, I could barely even see what cakes were left. It was already 2pm so a lot of the more popular cakes had been snapped up and given the current macaron hype I wasn’t surprised to find out that there was only one macaron flavour left: Vegemite.

(left) Tarte aux fruits de la passion and “I’ll Get Back To You Barry” cake; (right) “I’ll Get Back To You Barry”: Chocolate yogo creme brulee, soft chocolate gel, chocolate cereal crunchy, chocolate sable breton, chocolate caramel mousse, chocolate plaquette – $8.00

I’m not too keen on Vegemite so I submitted to the fact that I was not going to get any macarons today. But I wasn’t going to leave empty handed, I quickly snapped up the last I’ll Get Back To You Barry cake from the Winter 2010 collection and one of the beautiful passionfruit tarts. As soon as I tasted I’ll Get Back To You Barry I was so glad I got the very last one for the day! It was hard to distinguish between all the different components but together it became an exquisite and decadent chocolate cake. The cake was mousse-like in texture and it very much reminded me of those little Yogo compartmentalised snacks I used to have as a kid where you mix the chocolate covered rice crispies into the chocolate Yogo (anyone remember those?)

Tarte aux fruits de la passion: pâte sablée, passionfruit crème – $7.00

The passionfruit tart is a permanent fixture at the patisserie and I couldn’t help myself from getting it. I mean, look at how pretty it is? Not only is it pretty to look at but it’s delicious as well, with a short, crumbly pastry and a silky smooth creme that is packed with passionfruit flavour!

Our last stop on Darling Street was Belle Fleur at Queen Chu’s request (coincidentally it was also featured on Masterchef). It’s a small chocolate shop and as soon as you open the door you’re overwhelmed with the aroma of chocolate from the displays they have around the shop. They had a wide selection of chocolates and it was difficult to choose because there were so many that looked and sounded good.

Belle Fleur chocolates are sold by weight and if you spend a certain amount (and ask nicely) they will package them up all pretty in a gift box. We were pressed for time so I just chose some chocolates which I thought sounded/looked interesting but after looking at the pamphlet that comes with the chocolates more carefully at home there were other ones which I think I would have preferred. But I guess that just gives me an excuse to go back and gorge on more chocolates hehehe

(clockwise from top left): Duet, Ravioli, Chilli, Delice Cafe

I really enjoyed the duet with the whole macadamias enrobed in chocolate and a bit of crunchy praline at the bottom. The ravioli was interesting as the filling was crushed sesame that sort of tasted like those sesame snaps but not as sweet. The delice cafe was probably my least favourite, with the coffee liqueur flavour being a bit too strong and bitter for my liking. I also liked the chilli and at first I couldn’t taste the chilli at all but then it just comes at you and it was quite hot! (but that could be my chilli-sensitive tastebuds talking)

(clockwise from top left): Shell, Peruvian truffle, Sesame, Venezuelan truffle

The Shell had a hazelnut ganache filling and the whole thing was beautifully smooth, it was one of my favourites. Both of the truffles were also divine with chocolate flakes on the outside and a chocolate cream on the inside. The difference between the two was that the Peruvian truffle used 64% dark Peruvian chocolate whereas the Venezuelan truffle used 43% milk Venezuelan chocolate. The Sesame I found a bit strange mainly due to the tahini ganache which I didn’t think went that well with the chocolate. Oh, but there are so many other flavours I want to try that I’ll definitely be returning to pick up more chocolates, or even just go into the shop to smell that intoxicating chocolate aroma again!

Adriano Zumbo Patisserie
296 Darling Street
Balmain NSW 2040
Ph: +61 2 9810 7318
Open Monday to Saturday, 8am – 6pm; Sunday, 8am – 4pm

View Larger Map

Adriano Zumbo Café Chocolat on Urbanspoon

Belle Fleur Fine Chocolates
658 Darling Street
Rozelle NSW 2039
Ph: +61 2 9810 7388
Monday to Saturday, 9am – 6pm
Saturday, 9am – 4.30pm
Sunday, 10am – 4pm

View Larger Map

Kazbah on Darling, Balmain

Ok, so I admit that following Adriano Zumbo’s appearance on Masterchef Australia, I got caught up in the whole Zumbo/macaron hype as well and decided that since my last visit to Zumbo was before his Masterchef days, another visit was in order (I may or may not have been one of those Asian foodbloggers standing in line taking photos at Zumbo, but more about that in another post). I rounded up a car-full of friends and we headed to Balmain/Rozelle for the day to check out some foodie destinations along Darling Street.

Our first stop was lunch at Kazbah on Darling and luckily we scored a parking spot just outside the restaurant. It was very busy for a weekday lunchtime with three large groups inside the restaurant but we were still able to get a table. The decor inside the restaurant was beautiful with intricately-patterned plates on the walls and brightly coloured light fixtures.

While we perused the menu, the waiter poured us water from a curiously unique water jug. The ring where you hold the jug from was so delicate and thin that it looked like it would snap off easily but I found it was actually quite sturdy. I also discovered that you can purchase these water jugs from Kazbah and B picked one up for his sister that day.

Breakfast Tagine: Roast pumpkin, spinach, roast capsicum, roast tomato, caramelised onion, feta, eggs, Turkish toast and Lebanese bread – $18.50 per person (1 serve pictured)

Continue reading Kazbah on Darling, Balmain

Tarte Aux Pralines: A Lyonnaise Specialty

I was super jealous when I found out that my sister was going to France on exchange for 6 weeks. I was even more jealous when I found out that not only was she going to Paris but also to the French capital of gastronomy, Lyon. Thankfully she was kind and after tantalising me for 6 weeks via email about eating foie gras and macarons and quenelles (which Lyon is famous for), she brought home some foodie gifts including a book on macarons, a kilogram of chocolates from Lyon and these strange pink, rock-like things called pralines.

I asked Charm what it was and she said it was pretty much ground nuts and sugar. Why it was pink I’m not sure, but these little pink rocks form the basis of the filling of another specialty food of Lyon, the tarte aux pralines. Although my sister helped her host family make one during her stay in Lyon, she had forgotten how to make it so I stumbled through the French instructions attached to the packet with my year 10-standard knowledge of the French language.

It ended up being simple enough though – I just had to make my sweet shortcrust pastry, dissolve the pralines in some cream and pour it into the baked pastry and let it set in the fridge. When I added the pralines to the cream and it started dissolving it turned a bright red colour and here is the finished result:

It was rather lurid and to be honest the striking red colour was a bit off-putting at first. But I cut myself a slice and tasted it.

It was sticky and sweet with some crunchiness from the nuts and a subtle almond flavour as well. As much as I liked it, the sugary-ness meant that a small slice was enough for me, but Charm really enjoyed it and she ended up finishing it off in the next few days. I’m hoping that means it’s a sign that my version of this special dessert from Lyon was close to the real thing!

Continue reading Tarte Aux Pralines: A Lyonnaise Specialty

Coast, Darling Harbour

Sir D never likes to visit the same restaurant twice. Every time I ask him after a meal if he would return, he says, “I’d rather go someplace new” (unless it’s somewhere really amazing like Quay). So in the spirit of trying someplace new, we wander around Darling Harbour looking for a place to have a nice dinner before catching a movie at the IMAX and we stumble across Coast on the top level of Cockle Bay Wharf.

It’s still early on a Friday night so the restaurant is quite empty. It’s nice and spacious with views of Darling Harbour and the Harbouside Shopping centre on the other side. We’re seated at a table with a good view of the open kitchen and above us is a big light fixture which reminds me of ocean waves.

We order two mains and a side and while we wait we’re given some complimentary bread and olive oil to munch on. The bread is actually really good, so when the waiter asks if we would like some more bread, we happily say yes.

Bultarra Saltbush Lamb rump, kipfler potatoes, capers and dill – $37

Continue reading Coast, Darling Harbour