Sunday, 13 April 2014

Romantic degustation @ Jones The Grocer- Westfields Sydney.


Jones the Grocer. A well established name in Woollahra moved its flagship store to Sydney Westfields around a year or so ago. I had heard so much about it before I finally got to visit late last year, Coincidentally, Lime and Tonic invited me to try out of their romantic experiences, which lands me back at this lovely eatery once again. 

Front retail section 

where you can get quick bites and freshly baked goods during the day.

The entry/ artisan grocery section.

Jones the Grocer is not simply a grocer as the name suggests, It is a  artisan grocer, a  cafe during the day an a full blown eatery with a romantic vibe at night. I love the yellow hue the lighting gives, It makes it just so much more comforting, just like home.

On arrival, the lovely manager Macy greeted us and lead us to a table right beside the open kitchen, I love sitting next to t kitchens so I can watch all the action!

Beloka Still water 

Macy then brought us the 5 course degustation menu, she went through it in detail and asked us about any food allergies etc, very thoughtful and thorough of her. This was just the beginning of the impeccable service!

Biancavigna Prosecco Brut DOC NV

To set the romantic scene, we started with a glass of Biancavigna Prosecco. I only had a few sips as the lack of alcohol dehydrogenase in me sounded alarm bells. I didn't want to be gone before the delicious sounding food arrived! I have to confess, because of my low alcohol tolerance, I don't know much about wines and spirits but I quite liked this prosecco, it has a fruity taste and a crisp touch to it, quite similar to a lovely prosecco i had at an Italian Restaurant in Melbourne years ago.

We managed to fit in some good chit chat while waiting for the food to arrive, The lovely Macy kept checking up on us, topping up the prosecco for my friend, you seriously cannot fault service like this.

First course: Chicken and prosciutto salad- liver parfait, mixed grain and nuts

The first course we had was a lovely chicken and prosciutto salad, I am normally not a fan of liver but I loved the creaminess of  parfait. The addition of mixed grain and nuts also gave this dish a nice contrast in texture.

Second course: Pan roasted barramundi- potato and herb puree, crispy leeks, caramelised shallot with prawn butter sauce. 

If i had to choose a source of protein, fish would definitely top the list. Coming from a Chinese family, fish is generally steamed, so I grew up eating a lot of steamed barramundi and silver bream (Dad's favourite), But when i dine out now, I always opt for fan fried fish as I love a slight crisp to the flesh. The second dish we had at this degustation was a pan fried barramundi, it was beautifully presented, colourful and vibrant. The fish itself was great but I thought the stand out was the crispy leeks and prawn butter sauce. Those components were beyond delicious! 

Third course: Roasted pork belly - Duo of apple, wilted greens with a pork jus 

Despite the small portions, we were getting pretty full, but when there is pork belly on the menu, a separate stomach is activated, sort of like a dessert stomach, except for... well... pork belly (and crackling!) I think apple and pork belly are a match made in heaven, a slight tang goes so well with the creamy layers of fat of a slab roasted pork belly... mmmm....

Not featured in the picture is a lovely apple puree, That puree was quite different to the  purees you normally get with roast pork but it gave the dish a different dimension. I thoroughly enjoyed the apple fritter though, wish I had more of it! The only thing I could fault in this dish was the pork jus, we both found it a bit too acidic for our liking.

Fourth course: Autumn Forest- chocolate feuilletine, chocolate marscapone mousse, peanut brittle and cherry sorbet. 

By this stage, we were activating our 3rd stomach, the dessert stomach. This dessert was not what I expected in terms of presentation, although I'm not a professional chef or food stylist, I think this dessert plating could do with  a bit more work, It looked a bit messy to me.The flavours and textures made up for it though. I loved the richness of the chocolate feuilletine and the lightness of the mousse.

Fifth course, Cheese board- chef's selection of 3 cheeses (Manchego, roquefort & brie), chutney, bread

Cheese is something you love or hate, I am currently at a stage where my taste buds are maturing and I find myself enjoying cheese more and more, although I still find blue cheese a bit too strong for my liking. 
No fear though, as my favourite of all times is featured on this platter,  the brie. (Will you brie my friend?) I love brie to the moon and back, i could eat it with water crackers, warm sourdough (featured above) or on when encased in a crispy golden batter. Check out my variation of it using Camembert here. 
I suprisingly enjoyed the manchego  as i thought it would have a strong sheepy taste/smell to it but it the roquefort (a sheep's milk blue cheese) that was too strong for my liking. 

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience at Jones the Grocer this time round, It was a completely different experience (both wonderful!) from when I was last here as a casual gathering with a few good friends. This place is definitely a strong contender for group dining or as a romantic degustation. I would happily return to sample more of their extensive menu. 

Disclaimer: Milkteaxx was invited to sample the romantic degustation at Jones the Grocer by Lime and Tonic, however the opinions are her own. 

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Sunday, 6 April 2014

Bread In Common, Fremantle WA

No knock knock jokes today, but try this one.

what has this Perth cafe and carbs have in common?

 Bread in common. 

Lame jokes aside, carb lovers rejoice, there is a deliciously carb-y eatery called Bread In Common. Sadly it is all the way in Fremantle WA. 

As you can see, I have an epic back log of posts. . I visited this amazing place last November when I was in Perth for my first ever Eat Drink Blog Conference. (You can read more about it here!) 
I was lucky enough to share accommodation and explore the West Coast with 3 amazing bloggers. Contrary to what you guys think, you guys are simply amazing and did not scare me one bit, Just what a newbie blogger like myself needed, I learnt so much from these experienced bloggers! 

outdoor seating 

The learning continued throughout the 4 days I was here, My time on the west coast was well spent and i came back with bags ( literally) stuffed with blogging tips and tricks. So before i went to Perth i searched a list of places I wanted to eat at and go to, asking countless west coast based friends, this gem, Bread In Common came up a fair few times, so it must be good. right?

and boy were they RIGHT.

Communal seating 

Set up away from the main street of Fremantle, hidden amongst a mix of industrial sites and residential areas was this amazing kitchen and bakery which had the locals raving non-stop about it.
What about you may ask?

read on to find out.....

Bread in Common interior. 

This place has retained the original fit out of an industrial warehouse but the front glass windows also allow plenty of   natural light in ( love!) not only is natural light great for photos, it also makes me feel 100x better than a brightly lit room.

Fresh flowers at all the tables 

This fabulous place does brunch and dinner and they have an extensive wine list for you keen wine drinkers. They also have 2 long communal tables out the front, which is where we sat.

The menu 

The menu changes frequently depending on what seasonal goods they can lay their hands on (brownie point for that, I love ever changing menus!)


So we were off to a bumpy start unfortunately, a rather sour looking waitstaff approached us for coffee orders and didn't seem to like the idea that we were occupying the table, waiting for brunch to start. (damn time difference meant we woke up heaps early!)

Watermelon Smoothie 

While we waited we studied the drinks menu, we all decided a smoothie was a great way to start the day and rid the jet lag. Their smoothies are healthy and green, o opted for a coconut chia by now the waitress seems to of had her morning coffee and was nicer than any waitstaff i've seen recently, she proceeded to explain the menu to us and what options we had, and boy did we have a lot of options! . This definitely made our day better!

Green smoothie and coconut chia smoothie 

Now, this is why you had to read on, i promise you won't regret. Bread in Common is famous for their bread (well it is a bakery after all.. duh!) and their dips. The bread is baked fresh in house each day and the baker's section is open for all to see. The bread was so fresh (or we were heaps early), we had to sit impatiently and wait for it to come out of the oven. Do you know how painful that is?!? fresh bread aroma, tantalising your nostrils??  oh so fluffy bread, come to Mummy!

Wholemeal sourdough, whipped pork (L)  and zucchini dip (R)

We opted for 2 dips to go with the amazing bread, a whipped pork and a zucchini spread. Unassuming name right? but boy these babies were the epitomy of deliciousness, I don't think dips can get any better than that! A special mention of the zucchini dip, This one has us all fighting for it and wiping that tiny dish clean!


We were already in food heaven by the time our cured meats arrived. As we had 4 stomaches, we opted for 2 types of cured meats, a wagyu bresola and sudok . It was served with a lovely chutney and some fresh crisp greens.

Wagyu Bresola 

Anchovies and egg

The next nibbles to land on our table was the anchovies and egg. We mainly ordered this for the novelty factor as The littlest anchovy eating anchovies was too funny to pass up!
Gosh these were heavenly, that light airy whipped egg yolk dip went brilliantly with the gently toasted slices of herby anchovy baguettes. Scrump-dilly-umtious!


We also ordered a side of mousetraps, mainly curious by the name. These cute little toasties arrived neatly in a glass jar. I am yet to get over my glass jar obsession, give me anything in a glass jar and i'll go gaga over it.

The Common loaf

As we were finishing up, Round 2 of the fresh bread arrived at our table, we weren't going to say no! we chomped these down with the remains of the pickles and dips. heavenly.

i love how simple and industrial everything looks, a fair few places are actually trying this fit out. but I'm a sucker for hanging light bulbs, so the fit out here has my heart!

The bathroom

The bathroom quite sleek and has a nature touch to it, not something I'd expect at a bakery/cafe!

The bakers' oven

This is the baker's section, right opposite the open kitchen. I love their Hansel and Gretel reference!

Trolley of freshly baked bread

Freshly baked bread, cooling off. if only I could wheel all this Sydney.
I did contemplate getting a loaf of their amazing bread, but we had 3 more days of solid eating in Perth and at the Eat Drink Blog conference ahead of us.

The bakers hard at work.

Front counter/retail 

They also have a small retail section where you can buy take away for a lovely lunch on the go or if you fancy some deli style produce, canned sardines and olive oils are also available. I didn't purchase anything as we were headed on a road trip to different wineries etc so i thought i'd save it for then.

Herb garden 

Bread in common has some lovely outdoor seating as well, as they are not along a main road, it would be a nice place to sit when the weather isn't scorching. (It was high 30's when we were there) Next to the outdoor seating is a thriving herb and veg patch. If only mine thrived that well!

After a stunning breakfast we had a quick wander to explore Freo, as the locals call it, we stopped by many gourmet food places but we had to rein ourselves in as we were going to detour to the Swan valley that afternoon. I wish I had more time in Freo, it is an amazing artsy place with some great hidden treasures.

I will be back West Coast, until next time.


Sunday, 30 March 2014

[Meat-free week 2014] eggplant and mushroom lasagne.

Can you believe it is almost April? (Psst Easter! chocolate!) I remembered when i first signed up to this, it was in late January, early February and BOOM, Meat Free Week 2014 has come and gone. 

I am proud to say, i have successfully completed Meat Free Week 2014! I thought I was going to struggle going meat-free for a week, as i have only done Green Mondays and vegetarian days here and there. 

Meat Free Week is a national campaign to get you thinking about how much meat you eat, and the impact eating too much has on your health, the environment and animals. We're not just talking about red meat (beef, lamb and pork), but all meat, including poultry, processed meat (like ham, bacon, salami and packaged sandwich meats), fish and seafood.
Meat Free Week is also a great way to raise money for some worthwhile charities that support the cause.
Going meat free for one week is a positive step towards change, with the hope that for the other 51 weeks of the year you consider eating smaller portions as part of a balanced diet and try to ensure the meat, fish, eggs or poultry you eat is ethically and sustainably produced. Or you may choose to be completely meat free. 
you can check out more about Meat Free Week here!

For Meat Free Week 2014, I decided to have a bit of fun in the kitchen, chopping and changing ingredients in  recipes that I frequent. 
For those who still haven't heard, guessed or assumed, I love my carbs. I believe in balanced diets, no carbs, high protein stuff etc etc. Really, as long as you get your 5 veg and 2 fruit, you'll be fine. 

Back to the food, Meat Free week mean a lot of yummy mushroom and eggplant based dishes, the one today is an eggplant, mushroom lasagne. Carb fearers/haters, turn away! 
It is a super simple recipe, and can be whipped up and on the table in the span of 1 hour.  It's healthy and highly versatile too! 


lasagne sheets, fresh or dried
3 eggplants, sliced
mushrooms, 500g sliced 
1 large onion, diced 
garlic, 3 cloves minced
diced tomatoes, 450g can
tomato sauce, 1 heaped tablespoon
worchestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons 
fresh basil, 1/2 cup
salt and pepper,to taste
sugar, 2 teaspoons
cheese, your choice, i had sliced cheese 
water chestnut powder, 2 tablespoons mixed with balance amount of water


preheat oven to 240 degrees 

                                                           eggplant ready to be baked           

                              Slice eggplants, drizzle generously with olive oil, twist some salt and pepper over it and                                                                 bake for 10-15 min each side until soft. 

                                In a big pan, fry off onions and garlic until soft, approximately 3 minutes

                                                           Add in tomato and tomato sauce.

                                                                           My dreams, in a pan. 

                   Bring mix back to boil and add in mushrooms and rest of the seasoning and fresh herbs and finally the                                                    water chestnut powder to thicken up the sauce. 

                                                                     fresh bail from my garden 

                                                                              eggplant porn!                            
                               Grease a large ovenproof dish and place a single layer of baked eggplant.

                                                                      Mushroom-y goodness!                                                                                                                   followed by a layer of tomato and mushroom mix.

                                                                 followed by lasagne sheets

                                                                       Pile on the cheese!

                          and cheese. A LOT OF CHEESE! repeat process once to build different layers. 

                            pop lasagne back into oven at 200 degrees and back for a future 30 minutes.

layers of eggplant and mushroom goodness

Just like that, a delicious meat free dinner is ready! 

Till next time,