Archive for October, 2010

Hyde Park Barracks – Let’s do Brunch

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

I am the first to admit that I am not a patient person, totally lacking in virtue if that’s what patience is!  There is just so much to pack into weekends and evenings; and so many new places to eat and good places to return to that I just can’t spare any moment wasted, waiting!  And so it was that Hyde Park Barracks tried to grow this virtue in me….. and boy were there growing pains!  We had booked to go for the “Let’s Do Brunch” as part of the Crave Festival or Sydney International Food Festival.  Tempted by value for money, we eagerly awaited our 3 course  brunch for $25.  We easily booked online, and arrived 5 minutes earlier.  They are soooo busy, as a result of the usual weekend rush compounded with the super popular deal, I felt a bit sorry for the staff.  The poor manager was trying to kick out a party of 6 for us… unsuccessfully…. and well expletives aside, let’s just say that the people left at 12:30, which was half an hour later than we had booked, and even dared to have the nerve to snap back at the manager despite their overstaying their welcome.  argh… ok. channel anger into creative energy and I’ll keep it factual.  So, first course is the home made granola with yoghurt and poached fruit.    We got a small serving each, but boy is it filling.  Currants, toasted nuts, a dollop of yoghurt and only a tiny bit of fruit :(

More virtue growing as after one hour, we still had had only that small cold pre-prepared course!  So at 1:30, finally finally, we got our mains:  eggs three ways: Chorizo and sun dried tomato egg tart; spinach and mushroom omelette on a ciabatta crouton; and an egg benedict.  The tart was very fresh and eggs cooked still a bit runny – perfect! Would have loved some more chorizo though.  My favourite was the omelette. The spinach was very tasty, and was drizzled with a goats cheese dressing.  And finally, the egg benedict –  the sauce was universally agreed to be excellent, but the ham was disappointing, as it tasted like shaved ham from woollies, and almost on its last day IMHO.

You can see why we chose this deal as we got a third course. A waffle to share between two, with two scoops of vanilla bean gelato on top, drizzled with coulis and white chocolate sauce in the holes.  Oh MMAaaannnnn it was ssoooooooooooooooooooo nice…. the best waffle I’ve ever had!!!  Still warm, crispy on the edges from the sugar, and just the perfect amount of sweetness combined with the sauces.  This is definitely worth coming for, and in combination with the apolegetic free coffees, was almost enough to quench my annoyance at the long wait for the table (I know it wasn’t their fault, but still, 35 minutes I could have gone for a lovely walk in the park!) and the long wait for the food.

I also loved the room – however slightly noisy – which therefore makes it perfect to bring your kids!  I’ll be back to try their dessert tasting plate which we eyed off the table next to us!

High Tea at Home!

Monday, October 11th, 2010

A rainy long weekend – what to do!  It’s not often that I have time to spend all day baking, so why not call the girls over for some high tea  - ahem, afternoon tea, and pull out the dainty tea paraphernalia.    High Tea  (as well call it in Australia, despite it technically being defined as a substantial meal early in the evening and what we have being called afternoon tea by definition), is generally at least $40 a person in most posh establishments such as 5 star hotels.  Having it at home, I’m quite positive it would be less than $2 per person.  For my tea, I made scones, mini Victoria sponges, mini choc mint madelines, and cucumber sandwiches.  Teas on offer were Lady Grey and English Breakfast (ie , whatever was in my pantry).  In fact, almost everything was in my pantry. All I needed to buy was a cucumber, soft fresh white bread, strawberries and cream.  Here’s how.

First up, make half a recipe of plain vanilla sponge cake.  The recipe I use is half of the following:  1/3 cup each of plain, SR and cornflour, sifted.  Beat 4 eggs until tripled in volume along with 2/3 cup of sugar.  Gently fold in the flours and bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes.  So basically, half of the recipe will fill 12 muffin tins, just 1/3 of the way, you don’t want the sponges to be too high or else they’ll be huge towers when you fill them with jam and cream.  Flours, eggs and sugar – pantry? Check.  I also wanted to test my mini madelines tin.  It was filled with less than half a recipe of the chocolate fondant recipe from masterchef, which involves butter, cocoa, chocolate, sugar and flour, again, all in the pantry/fridge.  I steeped some mint leaves in there for a mint flavour, but it didn’t work that well :(


Bacco Pasticceria – now at the Queen Victoria Building!

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Since Adriano Zumbo, Sydney has been in a bakery (and more specifically, macaron) state of frenzy.  It then surprised me that the new branch of the Bacco Pasticerria opened in quite a low key manner, in quite a low key spot at the top of QVB.  I can’t say that that upsets me too much, because this means that by lunchtime there is greater likelihood of a good variety of sweet things to choose from!  Bacco is a pasticerria and cafe and restaurant in one.

Beneath the stained glass arched entrance is a clear glass display of beautiful pieces of fine cake art.  It is soooo hard to choose from – tiramisus, mousse cake slices, gigantic macarons sandwiched with ganache, and their signature three texture chocolate mousse cake to name but a few..

They also have a good selection of family sized cakes, all too delicious to eat – topped with gorgeous strawberries, macarons and other jewels of adornment.   The style is less crazy, definitely not plain classic, each one a beautiful work of art that seems too good to ruin by eating.

What paticceria in Sydney would dare not offer a macaron. These chubby cuties sandwiched generously in ganache and irresstible in their pastel beauty.