Heart-attack cookies

If there ever was a competition for the number of ingredients you can cram into a single cookie, then this cookie would win hands down. There’s no boundary when it comes to this little cookie. It stares down gluttony and puts greed back into its place. Forget modesty, this is a glitzy cabaret at the Moulin Rouge. It is the Rolls-Royce of the flat, baked treats. Forget the Impreza R, this is the 2011 WRX STI that’s yet to be released.

They say that too many cooks spoil the broth, but things go beautifully together here. But if you are a cookie purist, look away now.

So what’s in it? Dark chocolate, white chocolate, pecans, walnuts and raisins. Phew. Guaranteed to give you a heart attack, the good kind.

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Quay

Quay is the SMH 2010 Restaurant of the Year, it’s also the Gourmet Traveler’s 2010 Restaurant of the Year. It is one of the only two restaurants in Australia that received a 3 hat rating for 8 years in a row.

For someone who loves food, I was, understandably, ecstatic, over the moon, couldn’t believe our luck etc etc.

So how did it turn out?

We chose the four course dinner instead of the other option – the eight course tasting menu – because we wanted to try a bit of everything. I had sea pearls for the first course. They are, from left to right: something encased in tapioca with violets and a silver leaf; octopus; sea scallops and sashimi tuna. The presentation was beautiful and my favourite was the scallop pearl. The one encased in tapioca was a little weird on the palette, and being Asian, I’m used to eating tapioca as a sweet dessert rather than combined with raw seafood. They took off the usual $15 supplement for the sea pearls (yes, I have been ogling Quay’s menu for a while now) – I guess it’s a good thing!

Ben had the mudcrab congee as his first course. The congee is not the usual velvety and satisfying texture you get at yum cha places, or even the ones that we make at home. It is instead, very soupy. Besides, it looked really weird when it came out, with a huge dollop of creamy textured ‘sauce’ on the top.

For the second course, Ben had the crisp confit of pig belly with green lipped abalone and cuttlefish, complete with handmade silken tofu, Japanese mushrooms and chive flowers. The presentation was beautiful and I especially loved the pig belly and the handmade tofu. Both were outstanding. Whilst the individual elements of the dish worked really well on their own, I’m not so sure about putting all of them together on the same plate. Personally, I find it a little odd to combine pork, tofu, abalone and cuttlefish.

I had the partridge breast for my second course. This is a medium-rare breast of partridge, sitting on a bed of chestnuts, bitter chocolate black pudding, milk skin and walnuts. There are also truffle shavings on the top. Whilst I didn’t mind the rest of the dish, the partridge was a let down. There are quite sinewy parts to the partridge, which shouldn’t be there because the bird is medium-rare. Not my favourite dish of the night.

I ordered the pig jowl for the third course. It came with amazing maltose crackling, giant and plump prunes, cauliflower cream, and prune kernel oil. It was apparently one of Peter Gilmore’s signature dish. I really loved it and the pork went beautifully with the prunes. Ben didn’t like it though, and found the pig jowl way too fatty.

Ben had the veal for his third course. It was quite tender (also medium-rare). It came with baby vegetables which were so cute and quite nice. It was discovered though that Ben doesn’t like his game.

For dessert, we ordered the two house specialties – the Guava Snow Egg and the Eight Textured Chocolate Cake. Both looks quite ordinary, the snow egg even artificial in those pictures. Oh I must mention that the lighting was so dark that we couldn’t even see our food properly. Pictures aside, both desserts were awesome. The snow egg, from what I can make out, has several layers. The middle is a creamy layer, it is then wrapped in the softest marshmallow. A crispy toffee(?) layer comes next, and the whole thing is then rolled in icing sugar (?). It sits on a bed of guava sorbet, and there are more cream and guava jam/jelly (?) on the bottom of the glass.

The eight textured chocolate cake was a decadent creation. I haven’t yet worked out what the eight textures are. I have so far: hard chocolate, chocolate mousse, tempered chocolate, chocolate grenache, chocolate biscuit on the bottom….

We loved the dessert, but it was a little disappointing on the whole. It wasn’t the ‘truly unique dining experience, one that is completely removed from the everyday’ experience that its website promised.

Quay and Sir Ian McKellen – pt 1

“Hi, I’m calling from Quay, someone just cancelled their reservation for tonight, would you like to come in?”

“Sorry, where are you calling from? Pier? In Melbourne or Sydney?”

“Quay, in Sydney.”

“Ohhhh…let me just check…”

I didn’t hear it properly the first time. Then it slowly sank in. I must have made a reservation at Quay a couple of months ago, and was put onto the waiting list. I hate waiting lists, so I just gave up on the idea and arranged something else for dinner this weekend. But now that they had a cancellation, it’s too good an opportunity to miss.

I eagerly accept. It’d be a perfect finish to a perfect day as we’d be in Sydney watching Waiting for Godot, starring Sir Ian McKellen. How great is that? Just like seeing Magneto and Gandalf on the same day.

The matinée was great. It’s a pretty ordinary story-line if you are not into the whole existentialism thing, in fact, it is famous for ‘nothing happens twice’. But Sir Ian McKellen was brilliant as the eccentric and forgetful Estragon  and his ever-so-frequent mockery  of the other characters made an unforgettable performance.

The performers were collecting donations at the end of the show for this actors’ charity in NSW. After we drop some notes into his hat, I quickly run back to the theatre and grab a photo with Sir Ian McKellen. Out of sheer stupidity, I forgot to set my camera on flash 😦 😦 he could’ve been any old homeless man from the streets.

Anyway, disappointment aside, I did get to converse with him. Well, it was technically “Would you mind if I take a picture with you?” and a “Yes, go on” from him 🙂

We had everything before us, we had nothing before us ;)

Life’s little indulgences

Prawn and dill on chilli pasta...with a glass of crisp sauv blanc