Sunday, 7 September 2008

Weekend round-up: dinner party and Golden Dragon Palace yum cha

Car smash pasta

With DJ away and the house to myself for ten days, I'd decided to host an impromptu dining shindig at my place on Saturday night. I wanted to do three courses, but afternoon drinks at City Wine Shop (thanks, folks from I Eat I Drink I Work!) meant that I'd have practically no time to prepare. So I kept things easy and simple...

We started things off with a round of my house's signature cocktail - Year of the Rat. The Cafe Vue kids served it up as part of the February Cocktail Night, and DJ and I love it so much that last autumn it became our house cocktail: equal parts vodka and Pimms, ginger ale, slice of cucumber, a coriander leaf or two and a few drops of Tabasco. Try it!

Out in the courtyard

First course was one of my current food obsessions, bresaola (bought at Delicatess at Prahran Market), which I served with shaved parmigiano reggiano, fresh rocket, pepper and a drizzle of EVOO. Served with slices of Phillippa's olive toscano which I'd briefly heated in the oven, like every good Italian girl should.


Technically our three course meal became a four course meal, cos Chrystal brought along a lovely salad we had as a palate cleanser before the pasta.

Chrystal's salad

For pasta I did a simple Car Smash Pasta - no cream or tomato-based sugo, you just smash together lots of tasty ingredients with some olive oil to lubricate the pasta. I'd bought lots of very fresh oyster mushrooms at Damian Pike's, and added garlic, chilli, marinated Ligurian olives, fresh tomato and lots of baby spinach leaves. I used casareccia pasta - it's one of my favourite pasta shapes.

Car smash pasta

My only disappointment was the chocolate mousse. I'd been drawn to Nigella's recipe for instant chocolate mousse because it didn't include eggs, and one of my dinner guests is allergic to eggs. Instead of eggs it calls for marshmallows and promises to be really quick to prepare - "just so crazy, it just might work!" I told myself.

Alas, alack. The recipe may have its faults, but the real problem was me - ever absent-minded in the kitchen, I left the saucepan unattended and returned to find it bubbling much more than it should have. I salvaged most of it and served it topped with dried cranberries, but it wasn't exactly my finest dessert hour. My guests all ate it and said it was nice, but I'm pretty sure they were just being polite!

Instant chocolate mousse

This morning I went with the family to Golden Dragon Palace for Fathers' Day Yum Cha - a 10:30am sitting, and we'd booked the last available table! - after a hasty early morning dash up to Swan Street to find a open newsagency that could sell me a copy of the new Good Food Guide (Dad's Fathers' Day gift every year)..

Golden Dragon Palace
363 Manningham Road, Lower Templestowe (map)
9852 4086

Golden Dragon Palace

Dad had requested a yum cha restaurant that was out of the city for a change, preferably out in the Eastern suburbs, and we'd already tried Plume and Taipan (both booked out days in advance for Fathers' Day). I'd then remembered that Sarah had recently written a yum cha post on Sarah Cooks, so I reread it to look for tips. Adriana had commented that she liked Golden Dragon Palace, so we'd made a booking on the strength of her recommendation.

Golden Dragon Palace

Thank you, Adriana! We'd just LOVED it, and may even go so far as to say it's our new favourite yum cha venue. Mum, Dad and Birdie put their collective foot down some time ago and refuse to let me photograph everything we eat at yum cha (the rotation of dishes is too high!), but this steamed scallop dumpling was outrageously good.

Golden Dragon Palace

Check out those GIANT jin dui! To give you an idea of scale, some "normal" ones are just visible there on the right. They were like big beautiful sesame-covered softballs, and sadly we had reached yum cha capacity - had they come out earlier we would definitely have ordered some!

Golden Dragon Palace


Sarah said...


Wow, cool! Adri got mentioned! She's being mentioned often in Melbourne food-blog-land!

The dinner party looks lovely, (esp. that bresaola!!!) and I'm sure your guests appreciated the chocolate mousse, even if it didn't go exactly according to plan. :)

I was born in the year of the Rat, so I'll have to try that cocktail. I've got a bottle of Pimms I brought back from the UK 2 years ago that I haven't cracked into yet! The warmer weather will be the perfect excuse...

xox Sarah

p.s. Those Jin Dui indeed are huge!

Funny linguistic note:
"Jin Dui"= those sesame ball things
"Jun Dui" = testicles.

My cousin learnt that the hard way when he worked at Dragon Boat.

Dani said...

must try Golden Dragon Palace. I'm very yum cha deprived this year.

Your dinner party sounds lovely. Thanks for the cocktail tip. I've got some Pimms I've been wondering what to do with. Will make Year of the Rat at my forthcoming tapas party!

Iron Chef Shellie said...

This is my favourite place for yum cha!! it feels so posh there!

claire said...

Sarah and Dani, it's time to crack open the Pimms. It's the shit. Brilliant in Year of the Rat, brilliant even just with lemonade on a hot summer's day!

Thanks for the Jin Dui clarification, Sar. Last time I was in Italy, I saw "palle del nonno" (Grandpa's balls) on a menu. Somehow I lost my appetite...

Glad you like GDP, Iron Chef! If only I had a car, I'd be out there every weekend! :)

Anonymous said...

love your blog - just a note about yum a chinese gal i'm a bit of a snob about yum cha in melbourne - golden dragon palace and taipan are fairly mediocre (taipan can be terrible!)...but if you have time, try yum cha at red emperor in southgate. fabulous food in delicate, tiny portions (i'll admit it's about quality, not quantity). you won't regret it!! fluffiest (and possibly smallest) egg tarts i've ever had, and the steamed dumpling skins are truly perfect.

claire said...

Hey anonymous, thanks for your tips. You may think Golden Dragon Palace fairly mediocre, but I've had really fantastic food there. That said, I do also really love the yum cha at Red Emperor! :)

Anonymous said...

should try tao tao house, u going to love it even more. :)