Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Adriano Zumbo Pâtissier, Balmain

Enjoying my wonderful purchase from Zumbo outdoors, at a nearby park, with friends. Life is Good.

So, guys. SORRY I've been away the past week and a half. Even though it prolly hasn't been that long, but it felt like forever in "blogging-time". Have really missed you guys!! JUST finished my final paper for my undergrad degree and it feels GREAT. Been looking forward to this post for a long time so I'm glad to be able to share it with you guys today.

Don't worry, after this I've only got ONE Sydney post left from our Sydney Food Trip, i.e. our last degustation dinner at Marque, so watch out for that soon! But then again, I'm going to Sydney again this December with my family, and I can't wait to bring my parents to eat all the yummy stuff Sydney has to offer! The family is positively excited because we've all been looking forward to the day when we can go to Sydney together for SO long, YAY! =D (Really wish you and your family were here, Gogo!!)

Any-hoo, Zumbo. I know I've heard mixed reviews about them but I wanted to go try it out for myself. And before I went, I already knew which two desserts I wanted to try that day:

1) Passionfruit Tart (heard SO much great things about them) and
2) Pear Dessert (just cause I saw it on Junior Masterchef) ;p

View from outside the Balmain store. Short, easy bus ride from the city

Lovely display at shopfront window

Array of desserts but I already had my eye on two things hehe

DING! DING! DING! Jackpot!!

How those 2 kids (who haven't even finished primary school yet) could make this themselves, is beyond me

L-R: Rice Pudding and Salted Popcorn Macaron

Rice Pudding Macaron:

I'll be honest, when it comes to macarons, I'm more way interested in the creative flavours than their texture. Just cause most places can make really good macarons these days (texturally). Went with the two that most caught my attention =)

The powdered cinnamon really gave this rice macaron so much character. Was also pleasant to find small, sticky grains of rice in the ganache. Interesting.

Salted Popcorn Macaron:

LOVE any popcorn desserts!!! It's great how unmistakeable the smell of the popcorns were and couldn't help but feel taken back to the times I was at the movies with my friends or family. Don't you just love it when a food reminds you of good memories in the past? =) The ganache was a bit stickier, chewier than usual but I didn't mind. These flavoured macarons rose much higher and beautifully than the others there that day too =)

Two for me that day, and a box of five to bring back for some peeps in Melbourne =)

Passionfruit Tart

Let me tell you, everyone's first reaction to this was "WOW!!". We knew that it was gonna be good, but we didn't realise that it was THAT good. Flavour of the curd was really natural and just bursts in your mouth from the first instance. The curd was so smooth too. But the best part really has to be the sweet and seriously fine, crumbly yet buttery pastry. AMAZING!! I've had lots of great pastries in the past, but none can compare. This was really hands down the best pastry I've ever had in my life!

Pear Dessert

Bought this more for the novelty of eating something that wow-ed me on TV haha. Flavours: just okay but idea and execution: still very intriguing. The pear filling in the top piece of profiterole was light and flavourful and I enjoyed the slice of cooked pear in the bottom piece. The bottom chocolate hazelnut was sandy and really delightful. Overall, choux pastry was just okay, would prefer it were thinner or more chilled.

The pear placed perfectly in the centre of the bottom profiterole. Mmmm...

On a different note, I'll be leaving for Cairns to go DIVING IN THE GREAT BARRIER REEF for a week for my Grad Trip with my uni friends early tomorrow morning. Woooooo-hoooooooo!!! Oh man, it's gonna be so epic. We've been through so much together the past 4 years and we can't think of a better way to end our time in uni before we all go our separate ways. Friends for Life!

Anyway, hope you're all eating well, and doing swell. Will see you all on the flip side! Ciaoooo, chicos and chicas! =D

Gonn' on Holiday~

Adriano Zumbo Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Din Tai Fung, Sydney CBD

Just a quick post today as I'm currently in the CRUX of my exams. Also apologise for not being in touch with most of you as I normally would! Just been a bit hectic... But it'll be over soon.

So, I may be stepping on some toes when I say this, but I really do think that Din Tai Fung in Sydney is actually better than (most) Din Tai Fung outlets in Singapore and Malaysia. The main reason I say this is because in Malaysia and Singapore, there's too many outlets scattered everywhere in shopping malls that the standards for each are pretty sub-par.

Unlike the one in Sydney CBD, where it's a main, centralised establishment and every person in the kitchen is highly-trained and professional at what they do. And I don't know if the chefs in the kitchen in Sydney also come from China too. The food is better prepared and more delicious in Sydney. Well, this is just an opinion drawn from my past 3 trips to Sydney's Din Tai Fung compared with my experience when I stayed in Singapore for a month earlier this year anyway. Don't be hatin'!

"Xiao Long Bao" or Steamed Pork Dumplings -- $10.80

You can't go to Din Tai Fung and NOT order the XLBs. The meat and soup inside the dumplings were flavourful and delicious as expected, and the skin was really thin. So much so that I noticed the dumplings couldn't really hold its shape. The ones in Hu Tong, however had a more firm and chewy bite without being too thick. No, don't get me wrong. I didn't mind this at all!! Merely an observation. Enjoyed this a lot, still =)

Fried Chicken with Medium Grained Rice --$13.80

I KNEW I wanted to order this even before we went to the restaurant. It's such a rockstar of a dish without being too dressed up by "sophisticated" and unnecessary things. Let's break it down:

First, the chicken. I LOVE how Taiwanese serve their fried chickens either in nuggets or as thin and flattened patties like these (and normally in brown paper bags with a skewer to pick up the meat). What makes Taiwanese fried chicken distinct is also the batter they use. Heavily seasoned with spices, sandy and contains little round crumbs all around. It really is delicious like you wouldn't believe.

Next, the rice. At the end of the day, you really cannot deny a good fried rice, no. Especially when they're done right. These "golden" fried rice is just made up of good quality rice, spring onions and lots of egg. So simple but believe me when I say it has the potential to be one of the most delicious things to eat.

Eating this with the fried chicken, I was smiling the whole way. You have to order this and enjoy it for what it is. Basically, a good fried chicken and fried rice dish. Tasty from the first to finish.

Lychee Mint Juice -- $6.50

Was a bit hesitant to order this at first because of the price but decided to give it a shot after being recommended by a friend. And boy oh boy, did I LOVE this or what! The drink wasn't too sweet but SO refreshing from the mint. Simply delicious and no wonder it's so popular. BEST drink of the entire Sydney trip, for me.

Overall, it was another great and enjoyable meal at Din Tai Fung. If you're not too sure what to order when you're there, just get what I had. Nothing but a simple fried chicken + rice dish, with a few dumplings to share, and a side of the lychee mint as a drink. Utterly, delicious! Love it so much that I really hope I get to go back and order these exact things again!

Have a great weekend ahead! Peace! =D

Din Tai Fung on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Watercress Soup Recipe


Before I begin, I'm super ecstatic to announce that I've finally gotten my own domain name (yayeeee~~) and have moved my site to: http://www.thehungryexcavator.com/

It's been a long time coming so I'm glad I finally moved. Also, I've just installed a new comment platform on my blog to hopefully give a more personal and convenient experience for you guys to leave your comments (which is almost always the highlight of my day, btw). Thanks for all your words all this time, I really do appreciate every single one =)


So one of the things that I'm passionate about on this blog is re-creating recipes of food that played a huge part of my childhood (coming from a Chinese-Malaysian background) and sharing them on this blog. I hope it gives people a sense of my identity and culture through Food =)

This Watercress Soup was really one of my favourites growing up. I never liked vegetables when I was younger (up until I came to Australia, actually lol) but would enjoy them a lot if they weren't leafy or cooked till extremely, extremely soft. Which is why I love this so much. The soup is so tasty and flavourful and I loved pouring them onto my rice and could eat so much of the veggies in the soup. They're so soft, sweet and delicious.

So, if you know of any difficult children (like me when I was younger, ahem) and are having trouble with feeding them their daily dose of vegetables, I'd definitely recommend this soup hehe.

Also, a lot of Chinese-Malaysian families like mine use dried cuttlefish + pork bones for many of our pork-based soups. It really is one of the most amazing combo of ingredients for hearty Chinese soups and if you've never used dried cuttlefish before, you really should try it! I plan to share a few more soups using these two ingredients, so watch out! =D

I was a bit worried that I couldn't find dried cuttlefish in Australia but after speaking to my friends, a lovely couple who owns Yahweh Asian Grocery (in Carlton near Melbourne University), I was so happy to find that they actually ordered them right away!

This couple is one of the most generous people I know and let me tell you, the wife is one HELL of a cook. She literally whips up a storm (once, a FEAST for more than 100 people with so much delicious food I almost passed out) each time she's in the kitchen and I trust her taste and judgement a 100%. That's why I feel at ease with the products at Yahweh Asian Grocery because I know these are stuff she uses herself and approves of haha. BEST of all, the prices are almost always cheaper, if not, comparable to anywhere else. If you like, she's got a blog that she uses to share recipes with products from their Asian Grocery, so do check them out: here!

One thing I love most about this soup is how cheap it is to make one huge pot, seriously. The pork bones I got from the market for less than $2. And the watercress was another $2. Other ingredients I already had in my pantry and can all be found at Yahweh Asian Grocery or from your local Asian Grocer. So, I do hope that you give this one a try -- ENJOY! =D


Watercress Soup Recipe


1 bunch watercress (around 450g)
500g pork bones
10 red dates
3 honey dates
1 dried cuttlefish *
7 - 8 cups of water

Salt to taste

* These are NOT the same as the dried cuttlefish snacks. Used in cooking and can't be eaten straight out of the packet. Red and honey dates also available at your local Asian Grocer.

Go with the packet above to be safe, or feel free to e-mail me if you've got any questions =)


Bring half a pot of water to boil. In the meantime, roughly chop the watercress to about 2.5 inches lengthwise and give them a quick wash. Soak red dates in boiling water for 2 minutes before pressing it flat with a fork.

Using tongs, hold the dried cuttlefish over a stove and burn all over until fragrant (it's okay if it looks a bit burnt). Your kitchen will smell pretty amazing right about now ;p

Once water is boiling, add the pork bones and keep boiling for 5 minutes. Switch off fire, drain, and rinse thoroughly with cold water once again (to get rid of the "smell"). Fill pot with 7 - 8 cups of water and bring to boil. Add all the ingredients and simmer for at least 1 1/2 hours. Season with salt to taste.

Soup in Rice -- How I love drinking my soups since I was a kid hehe. Peace! =)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bourke Street Bakery, Surry Hills

Hey all,

Did everyone enjoy the Melbourne Cup public holiday today? I know I did =)

Anyway, I know I said that I would just do recipes for the next month but I realised my leftover Sydney posts (except for our Marque degustation) were pretty short so I thought I'd share them anyway cause it wouldn't take up too much of my study time =D So, yeah. Will be going back and forth between reviews/recipes again hehe.

After our really enjoyable lunch at Bills, we decided to take a walk around the Surry Hills area and find our way to Bourke Street Bakery (BSB) to have some tart and pastry goodness to share. It was the perfect weather anyway so I really loved the walk there, just soaking up the sun and enjoying the company I was with =)

Almost every person I know who's visited Sydney has been to BSB so I was really excited to give it a try. Thankfully we had that nice walk to give us time to digest before eating again. Here's a look at the food we ordered and really enjoyed...

Top Left: Ginger Brûlée Tart; Bottom Left: Lemon Curd Tart; Right: Rhubarb and Almond Tart

Ginger Brûlée Tart:
AMAZING! The ginger wasn't too sharp or overpowering and was just nice and faint enough like your favourite gingernut biscuits. I thought it was creative of them to use ginger in their custard. Also, I've always loved brûlée tarts more than crème brûlée because it's more interesting to eat. You get contrasting textures from the crunchy top/pastry and then the smooth, silky custard in between. YUM

Lemon Curd Tart:
This was great too I love how silky the curd looked and taste. The curd was nice and cold and had perfectly set consistency. Flavour wise, the curd was tangy and citric and had a good balance of sweetness too. Just nice mmm

Rhubarb and Almond Tart:
Yay for sweet and soft rhubarb. But what I loved most about this was the aftertaste from the almond meal mmm...

BEST thing about these tarts was how incredibly crumbly the pastry were. They reaaaaaally made their shortcrust pastry very well, delicioso~~

Before the "unveiling" of the Pie... ;p

Beef Pie

Beef chunks weren't dry or flaky, and I enjoyed the gravy in the pie as well. It's nice getting occasional bites of chunky mushroom too mmm...

Chicken, Pea, Sweet Potato and Lime Pickle Pie

As much as I enjoyed the good ol' classic Beef Pie, I liked this one sooo much more. This pie was SOOO NICE. The chicken was fantastic and moist and there were lots of pepper too. But best of all, the sweet potato gave a lovely creamy texture to the filling and had so much flavour YUUUUM. I loved it and I would definitely recommend this.

Again, the pies were really nice and flakey and I knew that my Mum would enjoy this. I always value the pastry for pies/tarts just as much as the fillings, which was what this place executed really well and what makes them so famous! Both shortcrust and puff.

We were really enjoying our day and our time in Sydney =)

Overall, lovely dining experience was shared with lovely people. To be honest, I would actually recommend people to do the same thing we did if they were to visit Sydney too, i.e. to go to Bills for lunch before taking a short walk straight to Bourke Street Bakery to enjoy some "after lunch snacks" haha...

Hope you all enjoy the rest of your week!
To working adults: Have a great remainder to the week "post-Melbourne Cup"
To students: All the best with your upcoming exams!!

Winston =)

Bourke Street Bakery on Urbanspoon