Thursday, 28 February 2008

Midweek munchies at Pearl (at the bar)

631-633 Church St, Richmond (map)
9421 4599

Pearl exterior

As I have already mentioned, work has been crazy busy lately (and I was away last weekend) so I haven't been able to post as often as I'd like to on the blog. It was two weeks ago when best-friend-K and I decided to go see Lust/Caution down at the Como one night after work. I'd had the brainwave of suggesting dinner at Pearl (walking distance from my place, then we could walk over the river and down to the cinema in time for the late session), eating from the bar menu rather than the more exxy restaurant menu. I've eaten in the restaurant before and enjoyed it, but it's been over two years. Time to go back there again soon!

Scallops at Pearl

We shared three dishes between the two of us; the first was half shell scallops with green mango and green nahm jim ($10). Wish there'd been a bit more green mango included (I've become a real fan of the stuff since b-f-K and I had it at Seamstress with snapper in January), but nevertheless these scallops were lovely - the nahm jim was light and tangy and the scallops were fresh. Perfect way to start the meal, accompanied by glasses of the Marlborough Catalina Sounds Sav Blanc ($11 a glass).

Prosciutto and olives at Pearl

Just to make our meal East-West-East, we'd decided that the second dish should be the prosciutto with hand made grissini and truffle oil, giant olives ($14). I don't normally go for antipasto in restaurants, but I liked the sound of hand made grissini. As kids, Buster and I were obsessed with sampling every brand of grissini we could get our hands on every time we went to Italy. We'd get so filled up on bread we'd barely have enough room to finish our pasta, let alone our secondi, contorni, formaggi and dolci! :)

This dish at Pearl was also very nice - we were particularly impressed with the meatiness of the olives. The grissini got the thumbs up too.

Pad Thai at Pearl

Our final dish to share was the pad thai noodles ($16). Apart from the kitchen OD'ing on the bean shoots, this was also very good - nothing spectacular, but then again pad thai isn't really a spectacular sort of dish, is it (Or am I wrong? Where can one get spectacular pad thai?).

It got to 9pm and b-f-K and I had enjoyed our meal, but were both pretty knackered from the day's work. We gave each other sidelong glances, cleared our throats and both confessed we'd rather take a raincheck on the film (it did go for nearly three hours, after all!), so instead we made our way back to my place for a Lindor chocolate ball and Cointreau on ice. I still haven't seen Lust/Caution, dammit (b-f-K, the traitorous swine most incredibly awesome best friend a gal could ever have, went and saw it last week when she was on leave!). I hear it's worth seeing! Hmmm, maybe next week...

Monday, 25 February 2008

February (Chinese New Year) Cocktail Night at Cafe Vue

Cafe Vue
430 Little Collins St, Melbourne (map)
9691 3899

Wooden cutlery at Cafe Vue

Last Friday, I went back to Cafe Vue for the Cocktail night (on Friday nights, Cafe Vue stays open and hosts evenings which match five themed cocktails with five small dishes, costing $75 per head, bookings advisable).

Cafe Vue February Cocktail Night

T had organised a group of us to go along in December (when the theme was "Christmas") and we'd had heaps of fun and loved the food and cocktails - you can read about what we had here. When I'd heard that the theme for February was "Chinese New Year", I'd organised a table (including CJ and best-friend-K) in a state of great excitement and anticipation! Here's what we had:

Sweet corn tofu with pigeon consomme

Sweet corn tofu with pigeon consommé, served in a martini glass. The sweet corn tofu had been set in jelly and had an unusual squishy texture, slightly gritty but nicely so. We felt the consommé could have done with a bit more salt. One of our party loathes pigeons and wasn't thrilled at the idea of consuming anything which listed pigeon as an ingredient... I suggested it was perhaps a subtle Chinese New Year tribute to "rats with wings"... :)

Umeshu Mojito

The cocktail that came with the consommé was the Umeshu Mojito. I really liked this one and the way it "Asianised" the traditional mojito recipe: palm sugar, lime and soda but Umeshu (Japanese plum liqueur) substituted for rum, and Vietnamese mint rather than normal mint. The cocktail was light and tasty and as you can expect, the Vietnamese mint gave off a lovely aroma once we'd mooshed the leaves with our straws.

Confit duck pancakes

Second course was confit duck pancakes, which included cucumber and bamboo shoots and, because this is VDM, a drizzle of hoisin "jus". The rice paper roll pancakes were a little too stiff for my liking and the confit duck didn't leave a strong impression - give me Peking duck from somewhere like Pacific Seafood BBQ House any day.

Oolong Island Rice Tea

The Oolong Island Rice Tea had been the cocktail whose name had intrigued and interested L and me most when we'd perused the upcoming cocktail menu on the Cafe Vue website. I'm sorry to report back that this cocktail received universal thumbs down from our table. Palm sugar and lemon had been mixed in with sake, a drink I normally love, but not here. It was topped with a sliver of lemongrass and a layer of Ardbeg air (the air having been made using soy lecithin as an emulsifier). I'd loved the cherry air which was on the Brandy Blazer we'd tried at Cafe Vue in December, but in this cocktail it tasted plain wrong - I dunno whether it was the whisky (another drink I normally love) or what, but the drink left a nasty chemical, synthetic taste in our mouths which took several glasses of water to wash out.

Goose liver pate powder with green curry sauce
Goose liver pate powder with green curry sauce

The third course was a martini glass of green curry sauce sprinkled with goose liver pâté powder (!!) and a few grains of puffed rice for texture... it looked completely crazy, hey? Plus, these photos really don't capture the lurid green of the curry sauce accurately. The goose liver pâté had been blast frozen (subjected to temperatures that drop so rapidly the water molecules don't have time to form big crystals... thus preserving more flavour in the pâté), then powdered.

It was (academically) interesting in terms of texture and flavours (I loved the complex flavours in the curry sauce) but... we couldn't help hankering after some good old-fashioned CARBS (like we'd had in December), given that two out of three dishes so far had been composed almost entirely of liquids!


The accompanying cocktail, the Lo-Phat, was also rather "meh", but I'll confess to you upfront that I almost never like creamy cocktails. The Lo-Phat, as the name suggests, contained light coconut cream, light rum and amber rum. I liked the effect of the slivers of azuki (red bean) jelly looking like red worms writhing about in the ice at the top of the glass.

Fried crispy skate with spicy salt

The fourth course was fried crispy skate with spicy salt. The good: we liked the spicy salt coating the pieces of fish, and we loved the mojo (pronounced "moho" - Caribbean rather than Asian) sauce served on the side and made of mustard seeds, spring onion, coriander and chives. The bad: the sad-looking little pieces of skate were horribly tough and chewy. I understand that we can't expect huge fillets of fish given the (in my opinion) very reasonable $75 overall price tag for these five course Cocktail Nights, but it shouldn't have been so damn rubbery!

Year of the Rat

It's a funny thing - I'd been all excited in advance about the Oolong Island Rice Tea, but didn't like it. The reverse was true for the fourth cocktail: I'd read its name, Year of the Rat, and thought "gross". But despite its verminous name and unassuming appearance, it turned out to be my DREAM cocktail: vodka, Pimms, ginger ale, coriander, slice of cucumber and a dash of Tabasco sauce for warmth. Yowza!

I'd wager that a squeeze of fresh lime added at the last minute would go down a treat too (but it's perfectly understandable that the Cafe Vue cocktail lads refrained, given we'd already had two citrusy cocktails). I loved the Year of the Rat so much that the next morning I went out and bought the necessary ingredients for me to be able to recreate it at home... outrageous that Chez Gwynneth had been without Pimms for so long... :)

Ginger creme brulee

The final course was ginger crème brûlée, and it was excellent. It had a ginger / crème anglaise emulsion, and at the bottom of the dish was a layer of candied ginger and lots of tiny flecks of vanilla. Very moreish!

Imperial Slipper

Okay, I admit it: after a glass of champagne and four cocktails we were getting pretty loose by this stage of the night, and I may only have remembered to photograph the final cocktail once it was half finished. The other excuse I'll give is that we got distracted during the arrival of the final cocktail by Shannon Bennett's photographer, Tim James, who was taking shots of the Cocktail Night and took a few pics of us downing our drinks (I felt too embarrassed to bring out my lame little digicam in front of him!)...

Anyhoo, the final cocktail was the Imperial Slipper, and it was also delicious. It contained Pedro Ximénez, cognac, apple juice and 5 spice, with a couple of currants lurking at the bottom of the glass. The sweet PX and cognac married beautifully, and the spices were a great match with the gingery crème brûlée. Thumbs up!

So there you have it - I've tried to be very honest about the experience. Whilst there were some real highlights, there were a few misses that may have dampened our enthusiasm for the Cocktail Nights. I felt that sometimes the kitchen and bar were showing off with fancy-pants molecular gastronomy hijinks at the expense of the taste of the finished product. Simon, one of my blog readers, informs me that the Cocktail Night theme for March is "Savoury Chocolate"... I'm still making up my mind as to whether I'll attend. If anyone else goes (or went/is going in February), please let me know!

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival - Out of the Frying Pan

Yes folks, it's that time of year again: the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is on for young and old. Am trying to talk Rumpole into shouting me tickets to some of the scrumptious events on offer, but he's being evasive. Of particular interest to me is the event Out of the Frying Pan, an all-day talkfest including discussions on new food media (like us food bloggers, hooray!) and the politics of food... check out the session details via the above link, make a booking here and come along! Ed from the blog Tomato has done a deal for some food bloggers to get free tix to the session, plus has posed a number of interesting food blog-related questions on his blog in anticipation of Out of the Frying Pan.

In answer to the question What are blog readers looking for?, even my feeble free stat counter (and personal lack of cyber know-how) can tell me that the most popular page on Melbourne Gastronome (other than the home page) is my post on the Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book, and that typing "a stick quest part borthday" into Google will somehow lead you to my blog... :)

I shall be addressing the other questions raised in Ed's blog in a forthcoming post. In the meantime, which Festival events are people planning on attending? I rather like the sound of the Great Aussie BBQ at Fed Square - some interesting chefs will be proffering meats and veggies... pity my hectic/unpredictable working hours don't allow me to take advantage of any of the Age Good Food Guide Restaurant Express deals this year! Anything else anyone can recommend?

Sunday, 17 February 2008

King / Bourke Quest Part 13: Cafe Sonex

Café Sonex
324 King St, Melbourne (map)
9642 2033

Wednesday was a momentous day. Not only did I attend Federation Square to watch/hear this guy speak...

Rudd's Apology speech at Fed Square

...but then at lunchtime I found a cafe only a few blocks from King and Bourke that serves pho! Whoo hoo!!

Pho at Cafe Sonex

My colleague L had tipped me off about this place. Cafe Sonex, up on King St just before Latrobe St and the Gardens, is to all intents and purposes just another sandwich/take-away cafe (fresh salad rolls made to order, bland-looking pasta stewing in the bain marie, etc). But L had espied a small placard on the end of the counter depicting a fresh bowl of pho for $7.50, and sure enough pho is on the menu! C and I went there on Wednesday and yummed up two bowls of the stuff. Not quite as good as at Mekong, but still pretty good. Good to know I no longer have to go halfway across the CBD when the next pho craving hits...

Cafe Sonex

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Chilled-out Monday evening in Fitzroy

Napier Hotel
210 Napier St, Fitzroy (map)
9419 4240

Chocolateria San Churro
277b Brunswick St, Fitzroy (map)
9419 9936

Napier beer garden

A few Mondays ago, Best-Friend-K and I were wandering along Brunswick Street wondering what to do for dinner. We were thinking of Ladro (I want to try their amazing stuffed olives again), but it and most of the Brunswick St restaurants we were interested in were closed! On a whim, we decided that a bit of pub grub down at the Napier could be just what the doctor ordered.

The Nape

I first visited the Napier over ten years ago with my first boyfriend. I remember loving the front room all kitted out with Lions memorabilia (as a kid I'd barracked for the Lions, but I abandoned them once they went to Brisbane because I couldn't bear the thought of supporting a non-Victorian team), and it was at the Nape that I drank my first pint of Guinness! It was nice to go back for the first time in years and see that not much has changed.

What fond "first time" memories do you have of the Napier, or of any other classic Melbourne pubs? :)

Ulu-roo at the Napier

I had the "Ulu-Roo" - grilled roo fillets with Bearnaise sauce served with fries and salad ($19) - hadn't had roo in a while, so ordered it when I saw it was on the menu. The sauce was unexciting but the meat was tender and the fries were very good.

Fish special at the Napier

K had the fish special (also $19). I'm afraid I can't remember what it was (soy, chilli and lemon were in the marinade, methinks), but the photo gives you a pretty good idea of the dish. K liked it.


We walked back to Brunswick Street and K suggested we stop off for dessert at San Churro. I hadn't been there before, but remembered Michael from Where's the Beef having blogged about it.

I wanted to try the churros ($8.90), but I prefer milk chocolate (okay, so I'm a heathen!) and K prefers dark chocolate. I went up to order two serves of churros... but the gringo behind the counter, bless him, asked whether we'd already had dinner and talked us into just getting the one serve of churros, with two little pots of chocolate. I'm awfully glad he did that, because there's no way we would have finished two serves! Michael felt the ones he and Cindy had were slightly stale, but ours were fresh and the melty chocolate was gooood... :)

San Churro

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

Petit Prince teapot

In an attempt to clear some of the blog backlog, here's an odds 'n ends post about a few places I've been to lately, with a few other photos (that I've been wanting an excuse to include on the blog) thrown in for good measure... starting with a shot of my new teapot, given to my by Mum and Dad for my birthday. Made from fine Gien china and featuring the incomparable Petit Prince, c'est complètement adorable, n'est-ce pas?

Red Mullet Fish Caf
210 Glenferrie Rd, Malvern (map)
9500 9338
Thanks to eagle-eyed Chian who'd spotted that I originally had an incorrect address!

Red Mullet seafood platter

Red Mullet seafood platter

The ridiculously bountiful Seafood Platter for Two (!!) at Red Mullet, a fish caf in Glenferrie Road Malvern. It's $90 and can feed an army - having had some entrees of whitebait and salt and pepper squid, we ordered two of the platters for eight of us and were quite unable to finish them. Bloody good though - I even braved the mussels, despite my crippling fear of them (baaaaad moules-related food poisoning many years ago in Montmartre) and they were delicious! Oysters, prawns, smoked trout, steamed mussels (onion, white wine, fennel), smoked salmon, fried Blue Grenadier, grilled Trevally, steamed crab (tomato and chilli), seafood skewers of scallops and prawns, calamari rings, etc etc etc!

Don Too
6/340 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne (map)
9679 7113

123 Hardware St, Melbourne (map)
9600 0695

Seared Tuna Steak Salad special at Don Too

Hot chocolate at Beetroot

The Don Too/Beetroot lunch combination remains as fabulous as ever. I'm thrilled to report that since I last blogged about the combo and bitched about the fact that the Beetroot staff refused to serve us at 1:45pm if we were "just" getting coffees, Beetroot has undergone a change of ownership and the lovely new guys running it are more than happy to serve us. And of course, they've kept the sensational hot chocolates topped with Persian fairy floss on the menu!

Don Too likewise continues to excite. Last time I tried the Seared Tuna Steak Salad special (above), costing all of $8 and served with tofu, veggies, balsamic soy dressing and a side serve of rice and shimaya shibazuke (purple pickled cucumber that I CANNOT get enough of). Highly highly recommended!

Panna cotta production line

A panna cotta production line we had going at a recent family lunch with Nonna and Nonno chez Mum and Dad.

City Wine Shop
159 Spring St, Melbourne (map)
9654 6657

Pol Roger at the Wine Shop

On Friday I'd arranged to meet O, freshly arrived back from a trip to the UK, USA and Nicaragua, for a drink at Seamstress. While waiting in the cocktail bar for O, I bumped into Ed, who was meeting stickyfingers and the gobbler - it was quite the mini food bloggers meet-up! O and I joined the fellow bloggers and we all sampled the Seamstress tasting platter, then afterwards O and I sauntered over to the City Wine Shop for a champagne nightcap. O very naughtily shouted the two of us a bottle of the 1998 Pol Roger *, which was out of this world. Drinking champagne that nice makes me regret every glass of cheap nasty bubbly I've ever drunk! The Wine Shop staff were SO lovely - when we requested the 1998 vintage and they had to phone upstairs to retrieve the last bottle, the chap serving us asked "While we're waiting for the bottle to be fetched, can I offer you a taste of something interesting and white?", and provided us with two half glasses (a German Riesling and a Peninsula unwooded Chardonnay) on the house. Now that's service!

* Rumpole (you know who you are) has been complaining that for a former winemaking student, I write bugger all on my blog about wine... this is true. But Rumps, as you read far more about wine than I do, I reckon it's you who should be starting a grog blog called Melbourne Vinophile! :)

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

King / Bourke Quest Part 12: Nick's Spaghetti Bar

Nick's Spaghetti Bar
556 Lonsdale St, Melbourne (map)
9606 0557

I've got a backlog of places I want to blog about, but work has been mad for the last two weeks and I haven't had the time/energy to update the blog. I've been feverishly preparing for a big complicated trial and have of late been billing the kind of hours you hear about in lawyer horror stories! I like being in the litigation "zone", but it's been taking its toll - quite a few dinners have consisted of Nando's delivered to our desks (shudder), and last night when I came home in the wee small hours of the morning I was so tired I mistakenly squirted Aesop handwash from the dispensing bottle onto my toothbrush, instead of toothpaste. Waaaah.

Well, tonight was the first weeknight in what feels like ages that I was able to get home at a reasonable hour and cook myself dinner, so I changed into a pair of tracky dacks, whipped up a quick bowl of Fusilli alla Puttanesca and watched Pane e tulipani. My Puttanesca (with a few pine nuts thrown in just for fun) was damn tasty if I do say so myself, and waaaay better than the one I had the other week at Nick's!

Nick's Spaghetti Bar

Nick's Spaghetti Bar on Lonsdale Street is (for some inexplicable reason) very popular with the solicitors and barristers swarming the Melbourne legal district. I went there with my colleague A to see what all the fuss was about... and I remain mystified. The interior of the restaurant was inoffensive enough (if you like Lygon Street trattorias), but the sleazy middle-aged waiters calling us "bella" and "darling" got on my nerves (okay, I freely admit I had a bad attitude to Nick's from the word go!).

Spaghetti alla puttanesca

Behold the incredibly underwhelming Spaghetti alla Puttanesca I was served for $17. The plate had rubbery olives and capers and (very) roughly chopped anchovies up the wazoo, and yet the tomato-based sauce STILL tasted watery. I know my Nonna's cooking makes me an automatic Italian food snob, but why people pay $17 for pasta this average is something I CANNOT understand. There's good Italian food in Melbourne (and yes, some of it is very reasonably priced), but this ain't it!

I'm pretty cranky tonight, hey? Time to catch up on some sleep! :)

Sunday, 10 February 2008

King / Bourke Quest Part 11: Base Kamp Cafe

Base Kamp Café
390 Little Bourke St, Melbourne (map)
9670 3569

Alas, Base Kamp has been taken over by new owners, and the new product is missing everything that made the original so special. Gone is the marked South American accent - instead it's rather average Western and Asian vegetarian lunch fare, such that this review is no longer a good indication of what you can expect. If anyone cares to report with an update, please let me know!***

High time for another King / Bourke Quest installment! My quest is to find decent lunchtime fare within an easy walking distance from the corner of King St and Bourke St (the culinary wasteland where my office is located) - the aim is to be able to walk to a venue, eat, then walk back within an hour. You can read other installments in the King / Bourke Quest here.

Basekamp window

In all cultures in times past and present, hunters and gatherers, travellers, tribes and town-folk have always counted on a "Base Kamp" as a place to eat nutritious food, shelter from the environment, learn skills & share stories. Our Café is a little café in a big city. Please feel welcome to indulge in fresh food, take shelter and share stories @ Base Kamp Café, a friendly place to come back to.

I couldn't have put it better myself! Base Kamp (not to be confused with The Base Camp, a Nepalese restaurant near Glenferrie station) is my new favourite little secret cafe to lunch in. Wedged between Flight Centre and the shoe repair guy on Little Bourke St near Hardware Lane, it's one of the few city cafes that I really feel at home in. Al, the personable fella that runs the place, genuinely cares about and takes care of all of his customers - such a refreshing change to the usual harried CBD treatment. Just like in the good old student days, Base Kamp makes me want to curl up in the corner with a book and a coffee and while away the afternoon, forgetting about the outside world and the fact that I now have a grown-up job...

Basekamp counter

Base Kamp is open for breakfast and lunch 7 days a week (catering available). The breakfast menu has a few hot items and the lunch menu consists of sandwiches, soup and salad plus a few other little gems you see in this post (Al has embraced his Chilean roots and given the menu a nifty South American twist).

Chilean empanada

The Chilean Empanadas ($7.50) come with salad and Base Kamp Pébre (a Chilean condiment made of chopped coriander, onion, tomato, olive oil, garlic and ají chillies). The empanadas contain beef, onion, hint of garlic, cumin, a few sultanas, olives and a bit of hard boiled egg, and taste delicious with the pébre.

Spanish omelette

When I went there with C, she had the Spanish Omelette ($8.50), which can feature either spinach or chorizo and is served with salad and warm bread from Dench Bakers in North Fitzroy. I just love the cute mini chopping boards that the food is served on... :)

Basekamp tasting platter

But the Base Kamp menu item that really knocked my socks off last week was the Base Kamp Platter. WOW. Starting with the cheeses and working anti-clockwise, we have tasty cheese, Swiss cheese, Machengo cheese with quince paste, shaved ham, jamón, chorizo, olives, croutons, tomato salad and other marinated veggies, pébre and a little taste of the soup of the day (in this case sweet potato)... served with three pieces of Dench bread and all for the princely sum of $10!

To finish off, the hot chocolate (coco deluxe), South-Americanised with cinnamon, is guaranteed to make you one happy kamper... :)

Basekamp wall

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Sydney Gastronome: ramen and macarons

Ramen Kan
Level 1/90 Hay St, Haymarket (map)
(02) 9211 6677

Lindt Concept Store and Café
53 Martin Place, Sydney (map)
(02) 8257 1600

Some may view my purchase of the Sydney Eats (Cheap Eats) guide as foolish, given that as a dyed-in-the-wool Melbournian I don't get up to Sydney that often (I dunno, the yellow numberplates, achingly beautiful harbour and ubiquity of Tooheys New all conspire to make me vaguely uneasy)...

But as the Guide led me to Ramen Kan, in my book it was $14.95 well spent!

Ramen Kan entrance

Down in Haymarket near one of the monorail stops, one enters Ramen Kan through a nondescript entrance next to a fast food joint, then takes a dank smelly lift to an upper floor (not unlike Madame Brussels). To one's pleasant surprise, the Ramen Kan interior is airy and classy.

I sat at a long skinny table facing the window, ordered a Calpis peach tea and examined the menu. One of the pages proclaimed that the "delicious cloudy stock" that accompanies the ramen simmers for three days. How could I not try it out? I gestured at the ramen the Japanese woman sitting next to me was happily slurping and asked "kore wa nan desu ka" (one of the few phrases I can still bust out) - it turned out to be the Ramen Chicken Karaage, which I ordered. A steal at $11.50!

Ramen chicken karaage

They weren't kidding about the stock being cloudy and delicious! The chicken was wonderfully fresh and the ramen were soft and the whole thing was sen-bloody-sational.

Ramen accompaniment

The ramen came with a side serve of dried garlic, chilli and crispy fried shallots...


Anyone know where to get ramen like this in Melbourne?

Ramen Kan interior

F and I had plans to visit the Art Gallery of NSW (and, importantly, the Art Gallery of NSW Shop), but first we met for a hot chocolate at the Lindt Café in Martin Place.


Apparently, it ain't just a café: it's a "Concept Store and Café". All rather grand, eh?

I don't have much of a sweet tooth - if faced with a choice between sweet and savoury I'll choose savoury nine times out of ten - and chocolate can sit safely uneaten in my kitchen for weeks at a time. That said, I am partial to the odd red Lindor ball, and if I do have chocolate maturing in the kitchen it tends to be a Lindt Excellence Crunchy Caramel bar, so I'd been keen to try out the Lindt hot chocolates...

Macarons from Lindt

...but it was a warm day and I was still full of ramen, so settled for a bottle of Heidiland mineral water (cute name and label!) and two macarons - hazelnut and passionfruit ($2 each).

Duncan from the blog Syrup and Tang created quite the hoopla and excitement at the Melbourne Food Bloggers' Banquet last November with the salted caramel macarons he prepared. He duly posted a series of incredibly detailed posts which answered everything you always wanted to know about macarons (but were afraid to ask). Much as I enjoyed reading other bloggers' attempts to follow Duncan's teachings (especially Thanh's emotional rollercoaster!) and liked the crazy little beauties Duncan brought to the banquet, I still wasn't wild about macarons... but this passionfruit one was fantastic.

Passionfruit macaron

Check out that fluoro orange!


One more thing - after the Gallery we had heaps of fun wandering around the Botanic Gardens, experiencing Ghostgarden, which was part of the Sydney Festival:

Ghostgarden takes you on a surreal journey through the Royal Botanic Gardens. This 21st century GPS technology will take you back to the 1800s, when Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens were a zoo and parklands, in this tale of Jack and Lucy and their impossible love. Is this a tale of the past or from the future?

Using the worldwide Global Positioning System (GPS) and pocket PC's, Anita Fontaine's cinematic tale unravels as you wander the Royal Botanic Gardens' paths and gardens. Collect your GPS device from the Sydney Festival kiosk, and embark on the Ghostgarden tale in this beautiful and evocative setting.

The best part was that each GPS/pocket PC came with a gorgeous purple parasol! :)