Kazahana, Conrad Hotel, Shiodome, Tokyo Thursday, Oct 23 2014 

One of our three favourite hotels to stay at in Tokyo is the Conrad Hotel in Shiodome. Located an easy 10 minute walk to the shopping mecca of Ginza, it has easy access to three train lines that will get you anywhere you want to visit in Tokyo.

This trip we were able to get an upgrade to a bay view suite, which gave us views over Hama Rikyu Onshi Tien, the Sumida River and Tokyo Bay.

View from suite

View from suite

Tea house Hama Rikyu Onshi Tien

Tea house, Hama Rikyu Onshi Tien

 

The suite was amazing, so much room. You often hear complaints about the size of rooms in Asian hotels, but this was larger than some we have stayed in in western countries.

Suite looking to the front door

Suite looking to the front door

Bedroom

Bedroom

Bedroom looking to the bay

Bedroom looking to the bay

Table setting, Kazahana.

Table setting

Table setting

Detail of chopstick rest.

Chopstick and rest

Chopstick and rest

A nice cold glass of green tea.

Iced green tea and bonsai

Iced green tea and bonsai

Appetizer of Taro stem, okra, uni, seaweed sauce.

Taro stem,uni, seaweed sauce

Taro stem,uni, seaweed sauce

Clear broth, tofu skin, shrimp dumpling.

Clear broth, tofu skin, prawn dumpling

Clear broth, tofu skin, prawn dumpling

Entrée plate.

Entree plate

Entree plate

Pike conger, tofu and eggplant(braised dish).

Braised eggplant, pike conger and tofu

Braised eggplant, pike conger and tofu

Octopus and radish.

IMG_1749

Sashimi of squid and sea bream.

Sashimi squid and sea bream

Sashimi squid and sea bream

Chilled soba noodles.

Chilled soba noodles

Chilled soba noodles

Tempura prawns and vegetables, rice topped with dried purple shiso leaf, pickles and miso soup.

Tempura plate

Tempura plate

Pre dessert.

pre dessert

pre dessert

Japanese black sugar cake, caramelized banana and watermelon with green tea.

Japanese black sugar cake

Japanese black sugar cake

Japanese black sugar cake

Japanese black sugar cake

Seriously developing a ceramics addiction. So many great pieces of ceramics used in restaurants. Need a bigger kitchen so I can go on a ceramics buying spree. Green tea to finish a great lunch.

Green tea

Green tea

After lunch we were in need of a lie down, which we followed with a swim in the amazing pool on the 29th floor, watching the office workers finish their day.

We can highly recommend the Conrad Hotel, great service, great staff, great rooms and fantastic location.

Thanks for dropping by!!

Muse Restaurant, Pokolbin Wednesday, Oct 22 2014 

A trip up to the Hunter Valley wine district saw us stop in to Lake’s Folly for a taste of the latest releases. We had not tried two of the wines from the current vintage, Hill Block Chardonnay and the 3 Estates Red. Very good to taste them as they are on our ‘to order list”.After a good chat about the wines and things in general it was time to head off for lunch.

Lake's Folly exterior

Lake’s Folly exterior

We went to one of our favourites, Restaurant Muse, located in the Hungerford Hill cellar door building.

Muse Restaurant and Hungerford Hill Cellar door

Muse Restaurant and Hungerford Hill Cellar door

We were quite surprised to be able to get a table as last time we tried the restaurant was full.

Interior Muse

Interior, Muse

Lunch is now a two course minimum, which was fine by us. After ordering a glass of wine each (thank goodness for by the glass), we decided on our meals.

A wooden bowl filled with salt and spices arrived at our table with our amuse, mushroom macarons and pork crackling. Savoury macarons are a tasty start to a meal.

Amuse

Amuse

Mr. CA4G and I both had the pan fried sea scallops, chorizo, spring peas and beans, Andrew Thomas Verjus. Very delicious, chorizo was house made and the spiciness went well with the sweetness of the scallops. The verjus was gelled and the peas pureed. A lovely light start to our meal.

Scallops and peas

Scallops and peas

A palate cleanser of whey granita and lemon foam was bought between the entrée and main. Very interesting and refreshing.

Whey granita and lemon foam

Whey granita and lemon foam

For mains Mr. CA4G chose slow cooked Berkshire pork, cumquat, pearl barley and roasted onion. Very elegant and simply presented. The cumquat puree was amazing against the pork.

Berkshire pork

Berkshire pork

I opted for the Milly Hill lamb, served pink, black garlic polenta, leek and jus. The lamb was nice and tender and the whole dish very tasty. The black garlic added to the polenta gave it a nice dark, earthy colour. the leek was served roasted and slightly caramelised and also as a crisp julienne garnish.

Milly Hill lamb

Milly Hill lamb

Not feeling like dessert, we instead had the cheese board. A selection of international cheese served with grilled bread and quince paste. The cheeses were Reypenael, Delice, Taleggio and bleu d’Auvergne.

Cheese plate

Cheese plate

And to fininsh a bit of tree branch was bought out to the table, studded with two skewers of house made toasted marshmallows.

House made marshmaoolws

House made toasted marshmallows

A great lunch after a visit to a great winery is always a nice treat. Thanks to Troy and the team for another fabulous lunch!

Thanks for dropping by!!

 

L’Osier, Ginza, Tokyo Thursday, Oct 16 2014 

One restaurant we have been wanting to try since our first visit to Tokyo is L’Osier. Unfortunatley the past two visits we missed out as it was undergoing a massive refurbishment, and last year it reopened 2 weeks after we returned home. But this year we made it!

Owned by Shiseido group, L’Osier is an elegant French restaurant located in the back streets of Ginza, within the Shiseido Building. A doorman greets you as you enter and a receptionist seats you in the waiting room before you are escorted downstairs to the restaurant by one of the maître d’s. There is dress code, so Mr CA4G had to wear a jacket. No shorts, no thongs etc. Most of the diners were elegant ladies who lunch, out for a catch up with the girls.

 

Exterior L'Osier

Exterior L’Osier

Waiting area, L'Osier

Waiting area, L’Osier

The circular dining room is decorated in creams and shades of yellow, medium coloured woods and lots of silver and gold tones. A central round banquette, under the enormous chandelier, seats several tables for groups of two to four people, one segment of the room has tables for two and the other has tables for 4 or 6. A private room for larger groups is also available.

Down to the dining room,

Down to the dining room,

The service is truly impressive. I think there were about a dozen waiters plus 4 maitre d’s and a couple of food runners, and there may only have been about 30 – 40 patrons. Plates were bought out on trays by the runners and then served from the trays by the waiters. Crisp white linens, beautiful porcelain tableware, lots of silver plate and gorgeous crystal. Shiseido has spared no expense.

L'Osier plates

L’Osier plates

Unfortunately we were unable to take any other photos as they have a strict no photography rule.

We ordered a very fancy French mineral water called Chateldon, which has a very illustrious history. The story goes that this water was carted from the village of Châteldon in the Puy-de-Dôme region of the Auvergne to the court of Louis XIV, where he not only drank it but used it for bathing. They have a very small production and it is generally available only in high end restaurants and in some pharmacies in France. Price was around AUD$18, and was worth it. Ultra fine bubbles and a nice minerality to it. A shame we can’t get it in Australia.

We decided to have the Prixe Fixe lunch menu which was around AUD$100 per person. This consisted of 3 courses plus amuse bouche, predessert and petit fours and a confectionery trolley with coffee or tea. Great value and the food was amazing. Entree was a poached,chilled lobster half with a tangy gazpacho, main consisted of melt in  your mouth pork belly, potatoes done 3 ways,beetroot and greens. Pre dessert was a delicious chilled fruit soup. a small platter of petit fours was also presented before the dessert. Dessert was rhubarb and strawberries, very elegantly presented and absolutely delicious.

Thinking we were at the end of our meal as we ordered our coffee, imagine our surprise when a trolley full of candies, caramels, marshmallows etc was pushed up to our table for us to choose from. All made in house. The marshmallow had a square profile and was wound into a large jar from whence it was cut as needed. Willy Wonka would have been jealous of the amazingly interesting flavours. At first we were going to pass, but curiousity got the better of us.

After our wonderful lunch, we practically waddled back to our hotel where we had a nap and a swim to work off the sugar hit.

If you get to Tokyo, you really should try to make a booking at L’Osier for lunch.

Thanks for dropping by!!

Tateru Yoshino Bis – Park Hotel Shiodome Thursday, Sep 18 2014 

Since our last visit to the Park Hotel Shiodome, the restaurant TY by Tateru Yoshino has undergone a little change. While still being a fine dining restaurant it has toned down slightly. Still the same exceptional location and service, just a little change to the style of food and name. The restaurant is now called Tateru Yoshino Bis and has a more bistro style menu.

Ready for dinner

Ready for dinner

 

Same magnificent view overlooking the city and Tokyo Tower.

The view from Tateru Yoshino Bis

The view from Tateru Yoshino Bis

The food may be have changed to bistro style, but they still kept the crisp linen tablecloths and napkins.

Crisp linens

Crisp linens

After perusing the wine list we settled on 2 Bordeaux wines. Mouton Cadet Selection Ryder Cup (sauvignon blanc, semillon, muscadelle) for myself and Chateau Le Puy “Duc de Nauves” (merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon) for Mr. CA4G. We also decided to do one of the two set menus, the one we chose was roughly A$50 per person (¥4,800).

A glimpse of the wine list

A glimpse of the wine list

Our amuse was a pot of delicious mousse au jambon (ham mousse) with some house baked bread and rolls. A house baked roll is a bonus at any restaurant.

Mousse au jambon

Mousse au jambon

Mr. CA4G chose a crustacean ravioli with a shell fish foam.

Crustacean ravioli

Crustacean ravioli

I had a pork and pistachio terrine en croute, which was very delicious along with the caperberry and cornichon.

Terrine encroute

Terrine encroute

A very light, chilled pea and leek soup followed our entrees.

Chilled pea and leek soup

Chilled pea and leek soup

For mains I chose lamb cutlet with seasonal vegetables. Nicely cooked (for me anyway, I am sure some people would think it undercooked) and well rested. The vegetables were a nice balance of cooking techniques too.

Lamb cutlet with seasonal vegetables

Lamb cutlet with seasonal vegetables

Mr. CA4G decided to try skirt steak with shallot sauce, which was served with fondant potatoes.

Skirt steak with eschallot sauce

Skirt steak with eschallot sauce

For dessert I opted for the fruit clafouti, with plums, housemade ice cream and a pastry wafer.

Clafouti with fruit

Clafouti with fruit

A little bit of theatrics were involved in Mr. CA4G’s dessert. Tiramisu topped with a chocolate sheet, which then had hot chocolate sauce poured in to the centre, which melted the sheet and became part of the tiramisu beneath.

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

And to round out dinner coffee and petit fours.

Coffee and petit fours

Coffee and petit fours

Another wonderful dinner from this restaurant. Service, as always, was impeccable and we look forward to dining there again.

Thanks for dropping by!!

Itamae Sushi, Ginza, Tokyo Thursday, Sep 18 2014 

Our second night in Tokyo found us heading for a walk around Ginza to find somewhere for dinner. One restaurant that we have walked past many times on our trips to Tokyo has been Itamae Sushi. This time we decided to try it.

A bamboo and glass front hides a deceptively large (by Japanese standards) space. The front portion consists of an entrance vestibule and cashier stand, behind which is another door leading to the two parts of the restaurant. The front part consists of a sushi bar with booths along the side and behind this area are more private ‘tatami rooms’.

Itamae Sushi

Itamae Sushi

We were seated at the sushi bar as the restaurant was quite busy, we didn’t mind as it gave us a chance to watch the sushi and sashimi dishes being prepared. Our beverage of choice was well iced green tea, even at 7pm it was still around 30 degrees Celsius. A delicious small salad was also bought out as our appetizer.

Nice glass of iced green tea.

Nice glass of iced green tea.

The first dish we had was a plate of sashimi, unfortunately we were nearly finished before we remembered to take a photo.

What was left of the sashimi plate

What was left of the sashimi plate

Next up were some tuna rolls using rice sheets (like Vietnamese rolls). Filled with salad, and tuna they were light and delicious with a tangy sauce.

Tuna rolls

Tuna rolls

Our next dish was a sushi plate. Nothing like a plate of sushi in Japan. Prawn, squid, mackerel, uni (sea urchin roe), salmon roe, tuna and salmon were some of the varieties on the plate.

Sushi selection

Sushi selection

And a bowl of miso soup to finish. This is one of the better miso soups we have had.

Miso soup

Miso soup

All up a good dinner. They have a menu in English which also contained photographs of most of the dishes. This made ordering a breeze. It was great to watch the chefs working and to see Japanese knife skills in action, although I think I was more interested in the knives they were using. One of the things I love about eating in Japan is the matching of plate to food. No simple white plates for every dish but a plate that reflects the food and the season.

Thanks for dropping by!

Milton Park Country House Hotel and Spa Thursday, Sep 11 2014 

A recent rare weekend off saw us have an early breakfast and head south to the Southern Highlands. Before we left we did some quick research for accommodation. Quite a few hotels were booked out but we found Milton Park Country House Hotel and Spa in Bowral had a few rooms left so decided to head there.

Exterior, Milton Park Country House Hotel and Spa

Exterior, Milton Park Country House Hotel and Spa

Exterior, Milton Park

Exterior, Milton Park looking up from the gardens

Located on the outskirts of Bowral, set on 300 acres and perched high on a wood land hill with commanding views over the area, Milton Park was originally a country estate of the well, known Hordern family. The main house was built at the beginning of the 20th century and features award winning gardens that are maintained as they were originally laid out by Mary Hordern.

One of the ponds in the gardens

One of the ponds in the gardens

Gardens, Milton Park

Gardens, Milton Park

After several owners, Milton Park was purchased by the Dobler Family in 1998 and subsequently refurbished the estate, the hotel and the gardens to their current magnificent states. It has recently been bought by a Chinese property trust with the Dobler family still managing the property.

The hotel contains 47 rooms, including seven suites, with the ambience of an opulent Victorian stately house. Garden Courtyard Rooms, Tower Suites and Forest Suites contain antique and period furnishings. Some suites and rooms feature gas log fires, ensuite spa baths, private terraces, four-poster beds and bay windows.

interior, front door/hallway

interior, front door/hallway

Interior, Milton Park

Interior, Milton Park

The Carriage House has also been converted into an option for a group of friends or a family as it has seven bedrooms, a spacious lounge area with open fireplace and an outdoor entertaining deck

Most of the common areas have a formal feel with a blend of genuine and reproduction Victorian furniture. Pastel shades have been used through out the interior, and portraits and scenic paintings are hung on the walls. Collectables from around the globe line the quiet corridors.

Interior, Milton Park

Interior, Milton Park

All the rooms have views overlooking bushland, rolling hills or the courtyard garden with large fountain.

Service was fantastic and very helpful. After checking in we had a little wander around and then in need of lunch, we made our way to The Orangery.

The Orangery

The Orangery

I chose a fettucine with spicy chorizo and tomato, and Mr. CA4G opted for the barramundi. A bowl of fat crunchy chips accompanied our meal and were really good!

Lunch, fettucine and barramundi

Lunch, fettucine and barramundi

A half bottle of Petit Chablis was a great drop to go with lunch.

A nice chilled Petit chablis

A nicely chilled Petit chablis

The main bar is decked out like a gentleman club. Wood panelling, rich colours and a polo theme which gives it it’s name. Just behind the Polo Bar is the Snooker/pool room, so naturally we had a quick game.

Pool room

Pool room

 

After a quick siesta it was time to freshen up and get ready for dinner. Our accommodation package for our stay included a three course dinner in the fine dining restaurant, Hordern’s. The restaurant is elegantly decorated and furnished, with subtle lighting.

Interior, Hordern's restaurant, Milton Park

Interior, Hordern’s restaurant, Milton Park

Interior, Hordern's restaurant, Milton Park

Interior, Hordern’s restaurant, Milton Park

I love a cauliflower soufflé with cheese sauce and when I saw it on the menu I just had to have it.

Twice cooked cauliflower souffle with cheese sauce

Twice cooked cauliflower souffle with cheese sauce

Mr CA4G had grilled scampi with salad.

Grilled scampi

Grilled scampi

Our wine of choice for the evening was a Henschke Mount Edelstone, 1999 Vintage. Served in a crystal decanter.

Henschke Mount Edelstone

Henschke Mount Edelstone

For Mains Mr. CA4G stayed with seafood and ordered saffron risotto topped with juicy seared scallops.

Saffron risotto with seared  scallops

Saffron risotto with seared scallops

I chose confit duck with sautéed spinach. Fell apart and had nicely crisped skin.

Confit duck

Confit duck

While desserts were tempting, we went for the cheese board which featured house made lavosh and local honey.

Cheese plate

Cheese plate

After a great dinner we headed to the Polo Bar for a night cap, settled in to a comfy sofa and watched the wood burning in the open fireplace.

Night cap time.

Night cap time.

We really look forward to going again when the weather is a bit warmer and the garden is dressed in it’s spring or summer finery.

 

 

 

Lunch at The China Club, Hong Kong Thursday, Sep 4 2014 

On our recent trip to Hong Kong we decided to revisit The China Club, but this time for lunch. We arrived early and were seated in a corner booth with a great view of the dining room, which allowed us to observe the business folk who were also dining there.

Interior, The China Club

Interior, The China Club

It is great to experience a restaurant you enjoy at a different time of the day. Our previous experiences of The China Club have been dinners and it was amazing to see how light and airy the Club is during the daytime and a slightly different clientele. You really get to appreciate the stained glass windows with the sunlight streaming through them.

interior, The China Club

interior, The China Club

As always the staff were friendly and efficient and most helpful.

Before we ordered, pickles and boiled peanuts were bought to our table and then we set about deciding what to order.

For our entrée we had a plate of honey barbecued pork and honey roasted eel. The pork was delicious and the eel was tasty (Mr. CA4G had most of the eel, which he loved).

Honey BBQ Pork and honey roasted eel

Honey BBQ Pork and honey roasted eel

We chose two main courses along with our favourite pineapple and seafood rice. Our first main was a spicy prawn dish which we followed with a beef stir fry (really must take photos of the menus).

Spicy prawns

Spicy prawns

Beef and prawn dishes for our mains

Beef and prawn dishes for our mains

And we always forget that the pineapple seafood fried rice is enough for four people, but we love it so much we just can’t go past it. Makes us sit and enjoy our meal a little longer.

Seafood pineapple fried rice

Seafood pineapple fried rice

Of course we couldn’t go past custard tarts. These were so light and fluffy they put the ones here in Chinatown to shame. They were also had that just cooked warmness to them.

custard tarts and fortune cookies

custard tarts and fortune cookies

Again, another great experience at The China Club in Hong Kong and we look forward to our next visit.

The Parlour, Hullett House, Hong Kong Thursday, Sep 4 2014 

A hot and humid Hong Kong evening saw us head to the terrace of Hullett House for dinner. Situated in the former Marine Police Headquarters, Hullett house is now a luxury hotel with restaurants and forms part of the Heritage 1881 precinct in Tsim Sha Tsui.

The terrace is part of The Parlour restaurant/bar and offers a great place for a drink or meal while overlooking Hong Kong Harbour.

Having had a good lunch we decided to have a simple dinner. Freshly baked hot rolls were bought to our table while we selected from the menu.

Mr. CA4G had angel hair pasta with prawns and scallops, dotted with salmon roe. While I had a mushroom and confit duck risotto.

Crab and prawn Angel hair pasta, confit duck risotto

Crab and prawn Angel hair pasta, confit duck risotto

Confit duck and mushroom risotto

Confit duck and mushroom risotto

 

A quick glimpse of the interior.

Interior, The Parlour

Interior, The Parlour

A glass of Prosecco was very enjoyable with our meal as we enjoyed the sunset over the island.

Looking across to the Island at twilight

Looking across to the Island at twilight

the darkness settles in

The night settles in.

Hullett House is one of must go to dining destinations when we visit Hong Kong and we look forward to dining on the terrace again.

A de’Vine Dinner Friday, Aug 8 2014 

Recently I was able to get a rare Thursday night off and decided to head in to the city for dinner with Mr CA4G. It was a bit of a surprise for him as he had forgotten I would be home early. One of our favourite restaurants is de Vine, on the corner of Market and Clarence Streets. As we hadn’t been for a while we decided to head there for dinner.

There are two parts to de Vine, a wine bar at the front and nestled in the back is the cave like restaurant. The room is very cosy with low lighting, candle lit tables, bare brick walls lined with shelves holding empty bottles of some of the worlds’ premier wines and a glass brick light well which covers an entrance in to other parts of the building.

Interior, de'Vine

Interior, de’Vine

The menu offers a great selection of dishes and we seriously contemplated having an entree but thought dessert or cheese might suit us more.

MrCA4G chose the Market fish of the day which happened to be his favourite, John Dory. This was served with creamy spinach and tomato salsa.

John Dory

John Dory

opted for one of the daily specials, fettucine tossed with confit duck, peas and tomato.

Confit duck pasta

Confit duck pasta

We also ordered a side of fantastic, crisp and chunky homestyle fries.

Our wine for the evening was Vie De Romans Maurus, 100% Merlot. Merlot keeps being a surprise for us. We generally don’t like the Australian Merlots but French and Italian Merlots we find enjoyable.

Vie de Romans, Maurus

Vie de Romans, Maurus

We decided we were more in the mood for cheese than dessert, we decided to order the medium sized selection of four cheeses, served with crackers, bread, grapes  and pear.

Cheese plate

Cheese plate

It was a great pleasure to dine again at a restaurant we really enjoy going to and has a wine list that has a great range of interesting and tasty wines to choose from. Thankfully they also have a good selection by the glass.

A sample of the wine list

A sample of the wine list

We are looking forward to the next time we get to visit.

Quince, Pear and Hazelnut Crumble Thursday, May 29 2014 

The cooler weather is upon us and I got to have play at work. Quince is only available in the cooler months so I thought I would try a using it in a crumble. My previous encounters with quince has mainly been quince paste with cheese. Maybe next year I will have a go at making some as I have a recipe in either Maggie Beer’s cookbooks or Stephanie Alexander’s book.

I have never cooked quince before so after a bit of research I found bizzylizzysgoodthings.com with a recipe for slow cooked quinces.

I also had an inkling to make some salted caramel icecream to go with the crumbles, so a bit more research and I found a recipe on David Lebovitz’ website, davidlebovitz.com.

Time to get cooking. The quince was easy and took about three hours to cook. Next time I think I would use a little more water as the syrup became very thick, but I got the fruit to a beautiful deep red colour.

Quince ready to cook

Quince ready to cook

 

Cooked Quince

Cooked Quince

I poached the pears simply in a little sugar syrup until cooked but still firm. The pears were Williams which were firm and great for cooking. I then diced the pears and quince, mixed them together, divided the mix in to ramekins with some syrup. I added the pear liquid to the thick quince syrup and this loosened it up nicely.

In our family our crumble topping always has rolled oats. I cream butter and brown sugar together, mix in some flour and then the rolled oats. For this crumble topping I also lightly toasted some hazelnuts, removed the skin and broke them up a little. I then added the nuts to the crumble mix and sprinkled the mixture over the fruit.

The crumble topping is

100g Unsalted butter

100g Brown sugar

80g plain flour

80g rolled oats (normal rolled oats not quick, or cut)

30g hazelnuts (or to taste)

Quince and pear crumbles ready for the oven.

Quince and pear crumbles ready for the oven.

To reheat them I preheated a fan forced oven to 180C and cooked them for about 20 minutes until they were hot.

For the icecream I just followed the recipe on David Lebovitz’s site.

The ice cream and the crumble together were a taste sensation!!

Looks like I will be preserving some quince this week ahead of using them for an upcoming wine dinner in September. Our GM loved the crumble and the salted caramel ice cream so much that she really wanted to use it for one of the wine dinners. The next wine dinner was already sorted so we get to do the crumble on the one after.

Thanks for dropping by!!

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