Melbourne Getaway Part 2 Wednesday, May 13 2015 

Our second day in Melbourne found us wandering the streets looking around and window shopping before we went to The Flower Drum for lunch.

Over the years I have seen The Flower Drum mentioned many times in foodie magazines. It was finally time to try it. Set in a laneway between Little Bourke and Bourke Streets, an elegant foyer/reception area lies behind the door before you are escorted up to the dining room.

Lane way entrance to the Flower Drum

Lane way entrance to the Flower Drum

Red carpet anchors the room with cream walls decorated with paintings depicting the Chinese dance “Flower Drum” and also hung with beautiful wood carvings. Dark woods are in abundance with the dining room divided in half by a mini “pavilion”.

Interior lower Drum

Interior lower Drum

Interior lower Drum

Interior lower Drum

After a look through the extensive wine list we ordered a half bottle of Rockford Basket Press Shiraz.

Service was a standout. While we are used to the excellent service in Chinese restaurants in Sydney and Hong Kong, the service at Flower Drum really kicked it up a notch or three. Where you would normally just get the dish placed in front of you ready to eat, most of our dishes were plated tableside by the wait staff. The Peking duck rolls were rolled one at a time as you finished one. Vegetables and rice were served table side from a large bowl.

For entrees, Mr.CA4G ordered the Peking duck rolls while I went with the Quail sang choi bao. Both were fantastic. While we have had duck, chicken and pork in sang choi bao before the use of quail was a nice change.

Peking duck pancakes

Peking duck pancakes

Quail sang choi bow

Quail sang choi bao

For main course Mr. CA4G ordered the simply prepared but tasty wok fried barramundi with seasoned soy.

Steamed barramundi

Steamed barramundi

I ordered the crispy skin chicken with lemon and spicy salt. Our meals were accompanied by wok tossed greens and special fried rice.

Crispy skin chiken

Crispy skin chiken

Desserts were fantastic with my apples being finished at the table. Mr. CA4G ordered the Banana Fritters (lightly battered banana with maple syrup and Rickett’s Point
organic vanilla ice-cream).

Banana fritters

Banana fritters

Peking Toffee Apple (lightly battered apple covered in molten toffee served with Rickett’s Point organic cinnamon ice-cream). Each piece of battered apple was dipped and coated in the toffee and then plunged in to a bowl of iced water to harden the toffee and then plated. The waiters then “pulled” the remaining toffee in to threads for garnish.

Peking style toffee apple

Peking style toffee apple

After a fantastic lunch it was time wander around a little more and then head back to the hotel and relax. Again lunch was so filling we skipped dinner and had a glass of wine and snacks in the lounge of the hotel.

It was great to have a little break away from Sydney.

 
  

Melbourne Getaway Monday, Apr 27 2015 

Early March saw us make a spontaneous trip to Melbourne. I hate to admit it, but it was about 30 years between visits to Melbourne for me. Even then it was more to the outer suburbs where we visited family.

We stayed at The Hilton South Wharf, not right in the city but the walk along the Yarra River is very nice. We had a great view of the city and river from our room, which was quite magical in the evening as we were graced with a full moon.

Melbourne sky line and Yarra River

Melbourne sky line and Yarra River

Full moon over Melbourne

Full moon over Melbourne

After checking in it was time to go exploring along the South Bank. We headed over to Crown Casino and walked past Nobu, No. 8 by John Lawson, Spice Temple, Rockpool Bar and Grill and many more . As Mr. CA4G never went to Guillaume at Bennelong before it closed, we decided to head in to Guillaume Brahimi’s Melbourne restaurant.

A very bright lime green door marks the entrance to a room that is the epitome of a classic French bistro. Marble, brass, bentwood chairs and lightshades that reminded us of the puffy skirts from the 1980’s.

As it was a lovely day, we sat out on the verandah which has views of the river and city. While we decided on what to eat we ordered a glass of Perrier Jouet Champagne. Bistro Guillaume has several options for lunch from a la carte to two set price options. We chose the 3 courses for $65, which covered most of the items on the a la carte menu, with the exemption being the chateau briand.

Bistro Guillaume menu

Bistro Guillaume menu

To start we ordered some Perrier Jouet Champagne. The bread bought to the table was a nice mini Pain d’Epi, which is a variant of a baguette, shaped like a head of wheat. Lovely chewy crust and soft inside. Makes me want to bake more regularly.

Perrier Jouet and Pain d'Epi

Perrier Jouet and Pain d’Epi

We also ordered a bottle of Domaines Manoncourt Chateau La Fleur Pourret 2005, from Saint Emilion. A very nice drop, we have now come to the conclusion that the only merlot we enjoy drinking comes from France.

Lovely drop of Merlot!

Lovely drop of Merlot!

For entrée Mr. CA4G had the steak tartare with pommes gaufrettes and a petite salad. Elegantly presented and Mr.CA4G said it was one of the best he has had.

Steak Tartare

Steak Tartare with pommes gaufrettes

I had the chicken liver pate with pear relish and cornichons. Pate seems to be the only time I get near liver, but for me it is the best way to have it.

Pate, pear relish and crusty bread

Pate, pear relish and crusty bread

On our visit the fish of the day was John Dory. Regular readers of my blog will know that John Dory is the favourite fish of Mr. CA4G. This was simply pan fried and finished with a beurre noisette, capers and lemon, simple but full of flavour.

John Dory, beurre noisette, capers and lemon

John Dory, beurre noisette, capers and lemon

Once again I saw pork belly on the menu and couldn’t pass it up. The Berkshire pork belly served with pickled cabbage and apple salad, was beautifully cooked and just melted when you ate it. A small mound of pommes puree was topped with the pickled cabbage, then the pork belly which was topped with the apple salad.

Pork belly, pickled cabbage and apple salad

Pork belly, pickled cabbage and apple salad

Of course pommes frites were also ordered and came out in a lovely copper bucket.

Pommes frites

Pommes frites

As we chose the three course option I ordered the profiteroles filled with fresh vanilla ice cream and smothered in chocolate sauce. Yum, but 3 profiteroles was too much. Mr. CA4G ordered the cheese selection which was bought out on a BIG wooden board and then served on to a smaller service board which had the bread and garnishes on it.

Profiteroles with chocolate sauce

Profiteroles with chocolate sauce

We were well and truly full but really happy to have chosen Bistro Guillaume for our lunch. We were so full in fact that all thought of going to Nobu for dinner got pushed out the window and we had some snacks in the executive lounge while watching the sun set over Melbourne.

Stay tuned for Part 2, lunch at The Flower Drum….

 

Summer Getaway to Milton Park Country House and Spa Sunday, Apr 19 2015 

In January we headed back to Milton Park for my birthday weekend. Leaving a hot sticky Sydney morning behind,we were surprised at how much cooler it was in Bowral.

Porte cochere and front door

Porte cochere and front door

After checking in to our room, this time a garden view room complete with fireplace (which came in handy later in the day), we headed down to The Orangery for lunch.

Our room

Our room

Our room

Our room

Our room

Our room

View from our room

View from our room

The Orangery was quite busy on this occasion with several groups indulging in champagne afternoon teas. We ordered the same Testut Petit Chablis we had on our last visit and settled down to peruse the menu.

Testut Petit Chablis

Testut Petit Chablis

Mr. CA4G had the Cape Grim Angus eye fillet of beef, spinach, fondant potato, café de Paris butter and jus.

Cape Grim Eye fillet, fondant potato, cafe de Paris butter

Cape Grim Eye fillet, fondant potato, cafe de Paris butter

I love a nice roulade and opted for the chicken stuffed with couscous, wrapped in jamon and served with one of my favourite salads, roquette with pear and parmesan. If I remember correctly the sauce was a pedro ximenez reduction. Very delicious all round!

ROulade of chicken stuffed with cous cous

ROulade of chicken stuffed with cous cous

After lunch we took a stroll through the beautiful gardens. There are many species of trees bought in from Europe and some are not even found in local botanical gardens. It was a nice change to see the garden with its full summer greenery. Made a nice change from the bareness of winter. Alas we missed the wisteria arbour in bloom by a couple of months. Must get to Milton Park again in spring.

Gardens, Milton Park

Gardens, Milton Park

Gardens, Milton Park

Gardens, Milton Park

The brolga pond

The brolga pond

After our stroll we returned to our room for a quick nap before we headed back down to Hordern’s for dinner. We pre-ordered our wine and were able to have our bottle of Petaluma 1998 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, decanted and ready for us at the table when we arrived. We did however start with a glass of champagne (it was my birthday and a girl has to have some bubbles on her birthday doesn’t she?). An amuse bouche of brandade was bought out to us while we decided on what we would like for dinner.

Brandade, Petaluma Cabernet Sauvignon 1998

Brandade, Petaluma Cabernet Sauvignon 1998

Mr. CA4G had seared scallops, pea puree black pudding and red wine reduction for his entrée, which he enjoyed very much.

Scallops, pea puree, black pudding

Scallops, pea puree, black pudding

I am a sucker for any kind of twice cooked soufflé that involves cheese. The soufflé on this visit was made with gruyere and goats cheese, two of my favourite cheeses. A sprinkle of microherbs added a touch extra flavour to all that cheesy goodness.

Twice baked souffle

Twice baked souffle

For his main course, Mr. CA4G chose the Victorian venison, parsnip puree and cassis jus. While he prefers his meats medium, in this instance he enjoyed it slightly rarer. And of course a bowl of chunky pommes frites went well with it too.

Venison with parsnip puree

Venison with parsnip puree

Confit duck is one of my favourite cooking methods for a duck maryland. Puy lentils with some spinach tossed through them and a jus made from reduced duck stock makes for a delicious accompaniment to the confit duck.

Confit duck maryland

Confit duck maryland

While I would normally choose a cheese plate instead of dessert I left that for Mr. CA4G this time, it had 3 cheeses (local and imported), local honey, dried and fresh fruits and house made lavosh. I think Mr. CA4G may have struggled to get through it.

Cheese selection

Cheese selection

I seem to have gone off ( shock horror!!) chocolate a little but the four textures of chocolate sounded interesting so I decided to have it as my birthday cake. Amazing! Crunchy layer, smooth moussy layer, ganache, it was a joy to eat! A little edible gold leaf on top gave an extra sparkle to the night.

Four textures of chocolate

Four textures of chocolate

After a most salubrious meal we headed back to our room for a nightcap of Saltram No. 1, 2005 vintage which we enjoyed by the fire.

Night cap with open fire

Night cap with open fire

A big thankyou to everyone at Milton Park Country house and Spa for another delightful stay!

A Touch of Luxury Thursday, Jan 22 2015 

I recently had a Saturday night off work so we decided to have a night in the city. After checking in to our room at the Hilton, we wandered around town looking at some stores we haven’t been in to together for a while.

Soon enough it was time for lunch and as we were in Martin Place, Intermezzo caught our eye. Mr. CA4G has been several times for business lunches but this was my first time.

After perusing the menu and wine list we ordered 2 glasses of Prosecco and shared beef carpaccio for entrée.

Beef carpaccio and prosecco

Beef carpaccio and prosecco

We both had pasta for our mains, Mr. CA4G chose linguine with Western Australian Scampi, fresh vine ripened cherry tomatoes and chilli.

Scampi pasta

Scampi pasta

I opted for an entree sized pasta of house made pappardelle with trio of mushrooms, fresh ricotta and black truffle. Truly delicious, I love a bit of truffle (ok, I admit I like more than a bit of truffle). The fresh ricotta was also amazing.

Pappardelle with mushrooms and truffle

Pappardelle with mushrooms and truffle

We then decided that as it was a special day that we would have some cannoli filled with sweet ricotta.

Canoli with fresh vailla ricotta

Canoli with fresh vanilla ricotta

After lunch it was off to the shops again and then a quick rest at the hotel.

After easing our feet a little we headed down to the executive lounge for a pre-dinner cocktail and nibbles. Lovely fresh prawns and a few hot snacks got us fired back up again and ready to go out again.

Surprisingly the temperature had cooled a little, so we headed for a whisky at The Baxter Inn. Located in a dark seedy laneway off Clarence Street and down a set of stairs, the Baxter Inn is like stepping back in time to the 1920’s. The Baxter Inn features a list of around 360 whiskies from all around the world. We decided on Bowmore Legend, as Mr.CA4G had tried it on previous visit and enjoyed it. Armed with a bowl of pretzels we sat down to enjoy our whisky and people watch.

Bar at The Baxter Inn

Bar at The Baxter Inn

After our drink we headed out in to the night again and with no destination in mind we ambled down George Street and found ourselves in the Rocks. Walking past the former premises of Rockpool, Mr. CA4G lamented the fact that we never went there while it was open. Imagine his surprise when I told him they were open but had moved to the Burns Philp building in Bridge Street. That made us head back south for a walk past.

After looking at the menu and noticing they had a bar menu we headed in.

Out front, Rockpool

Out front, Rockpool

Interior from the bar

Interior from the bar

After sitting down and perusing the wine list we ordered two glasses of champagne. We only felt like a little bite to eat so decided on some caviar and blinis. After a bit of wonderful upselling from the very helpful waiter, we decided to try the Yasa caviar. Now I am not really in to caviar normally, but this was sensational. Our waiter had given us the story of the brand and then told us how the brand representative showed them how to eat the caviar by placing a little on your hand to warm it up and then straight in to your mouth. We tried it and were pleasantly surprised at the difference in flavour as compared to having it cold. It was well worth the extra to try this fantastic product.

Yasa caviar and blinis

Yasa caviar and blinis

Warming the caviar

Warming the caviar

Yasa caviar is farmed and produced from Siberian sturgeon in the UAE, in the worlds largest and most technologically advanced aquaculture farms. Not only do they process the roe but the fish is also processed for the culinary market.

After our caviar and champagne it was time to head back to the Hilton to bring our day of luxury to an end with a movie and bottle of Grande Cru bourdeaux from Chateau Cantemerle.

Chateau Cantemerle

Chateau Cantemerle

Have a great day and hope you have a touch of luxury soon!

Flying Fish, Pyrmont Wednesday, Jan 21 2015 

A restaurant we have been wanting to go to for many years is Flying Fish in Pyrmont. We happened to be in need of dinner while we were in Pyrmont recently and decided to make our way over.

Flying Fish is located in Pyrmont, at the end of a heritage wharf, with views of the Harbour Bridge, Barangaroo, Balmain and the lower north shore. This makes for a dramatic backdrop to dinner as the sun sets and the city lights start turning on.

Exterior, Flying Fish

Exterior, Flying Fish

The heritage look is continued inside with the original dark beams incorporated in to the interior design. Dark woods are very much in evidence throughout the space and are softened by the crisp white tablecloths and the large modern painting along one wall.

Looking out through the windoes

Looking out through the windoes

Interior Flying Fish

Interior Flying Fish

 

There is some seating outside as well, perfect for a sunny day. You can also sit outside and dream about being on one of the luxury boats moored along the wharf.

Exterior seating area, Flying Fish

Exterior seating area, Flying Fish

After a look at the wine list we decided on a half bottle of Chablis from Domaine Louis Moreau. Mr CA4G is a bit picky with white wines and he absolutely loved this one.

Chablis  from

Chablis from Domaine Louis Moreau

Choosing a main was easy for Mr. CA4G, he hadn’t tried Murray cod before so that was his choice. He enjoyed his Murray Cod very much and was surprised that it didn’t have much of a muddy flavour to it, seeing as it is a fresh water fish.

Murray Cod

Murray Cod

I had a lamb backstrap with whipped feta, lamb sausage and peas. Loved the whipped feta, it is on my list of things to try at home. We also ordered a leaf salad and hand cut chips.

Lamb backstrap

Lamb backstrap

It was well worth the walk from the city to have dinner at Flying Fish and we look forward to dining there again in the future.

Belated Merry Christmas!! Monday, Dec 29 2014 

Wishing my readers a belated very Merry Christmas and all the best for a bright and happy year in 2015!!

We visited Mr. CA4G’s sister and her husband this year for Christmas. They live on the Central Coast of NSW and rather than join all the drivers heading off on holiday, we decided to take the train. It is a pleasant and very scenic journey once you leave the outskirts of Sydney. Lots of sandstone cliffs and mountains, sparkles glint off the water as the train snakes along parts of the Hawkesbury River, eucalypt forests and quaint little towns.

Christmas eve we have a semi traditional Czech dinner as they celebrate on Christmas eve more so than Christmas Day. Deep fried barramundi (traditionally it would be carp in the  Czech republic,and even though there is a lot of introduced carp in Australian waterways, most of it ends up as fertilizer or left on the river banks) served with Russian potato salad and red cabbage salad.

Christmas day breakfast we have a huge sugar hit, Stollen, Croissants with butter and jams, Swiss cake, panettone, fruit mince tarts and coffee.

My sister in law tries to get most of the cooking and prep done the day before so we can relax a little. For christmas day this year we had our lunch over 5 hours leaving a nice big space between course, We started with melon topped with blue cheese and wrappd in black forest ham and devils on horseback. For entree we had pork , veal and pistachio terrine that I made, with mango chutney. For mains we had turducken, glazed and roasted ham, roast beef, gravy, roast vegetables, Russian potato salad and red cabbage salad. Dessert we ended up having at dinner time, boozy trifle. My sister in law also made some reindeer poop as a bit of  gag sweet, chocolate and hazelnut clusters.

I hope you all had a wonderful day and were able to share it with your loved ones. Have a happy New Year and look forward to your company again next year!!

Aanuka Beach Resort, Coffs Harbour Friday, Nov 28 2014 

One of our favourite places to visit in N.S.W. is Coffs Harbour. We stay at the same place every time because of its location and accomodation styles.

Aanuka Beach Resort is located about 3 minutes from the Big Banana, right on its own beach, Digger’s Beach. Designed with a Fijian/Island style, the resort features a mix of accommodation types, 1 and 2 bedroom spa bures and more family oriented apartment style accommodation. We always opt for a spa bure as it makes us feel as if we are on an island holiday.

Main building Aanuka Resort

Main building Aanuka Resort

The bures provide a tropical island resort feel and are light and airy. The bathrooms feature a large spa bath, big enough for 2. All have a fold out sofa bed if there are more than 2 staying in a room. A basic kitchen (microwave, fridge, electric fry pan, kettle and toaster) is in each bure, some even have a 2 burner stove top. All feature a dining table next to the kitchenette and a lounge area with DVD and CD players. Washing machine and dryer all also in each bure.

Our bure

Our bure

The resort features two swimming pools, tennis courts, small gym and other leisure activities. Boogie boards are also available at reception if you wish to brave the waves.

One of the pools

One of the pools

A creek runs through the property before making it’s way to  the beach. This is a native habitat area and you will see bush turkeys wandering around the whole resort, kookaburras singing a song, the resident willy wag tail chasing anything bigger than its self, brazen sea gulls trying to steal your snacks and waterdragons sunning themselves where ever they find a nice spot.

Mysterious looking creek

Mysterious looking creek

Mysterious looking creek

Mysterious looking creek

Hardly a Christmas turkey

Hardly a Christmas turkey

Lounge lizard

Lounge lizard

Striking a pose

Striking a pose

The main building houses reception, a day spa, two restaurants and bar. The resort also caters to functions with three dedicated function areas and a chapel for weddings. While we were there we saw two beach weddings take place. The Decks bar and restaurant faces directly on to the beach which is accessed across a lawn. Breakfast is wonderful watching the waves from your table, and dinner as the sun sets is amazing.

Breakfast view

Breakfast view

Main building

Main building

Dinner at Casay is the equal of many Sydney restaurants. Seafood is locally sourced as Coffs Harbour has a fantastic Fishermans Co-Op. Much of the meat and poultry is also sourced from the north coast and inland.

Surf and turf with Ranger Valley beef fillet and super fresh Yamba king prawns.

Surf and Turf

Surf and Turf

Chargrilled pork cutlet with ratatouille ratatouille. The pork was fantastic, nicely charred but still moist and juicy.

Pork cutlet and ratatouille

Pork cutlet and ratatouille

Locally caught snapper with Yamba prawns, rocket salad.

Snapper and Yamba prawns

Snapper and Yamba prawns

Char grilled pork cutlet, Thai stir fry vegetables and apple. Yes I had pork two nights in a row, but it was just so good! The sweetness of pork with that charring is sensational.

Pork cutlet and Thai stir fry vegetables

Pork cutlet and Thai stir fry vegetables

We skipped dessert as the mains were quite filling.

The rest of our trip we had room service, walked in to town for lunch, and went to the tasting of the restaurants new menu.

The rest of our time we relaxed, went for twice daily walks on the beach and to the top of the headland. From the head land you get a nice view in to the town centre, marina and out to the Solitary Islands.

IMG_2863

Two shots looking back towards the resort, one from on the beach and from the top of the headland.

Digger's Beachlooking along the beach

Digger’s Beachlooking along the beach

Digger's Beach from the headland

Digger’s Beach from the headland

Early morning fisherman on the beach.

Early morning fisherman

Early morning fisherman

Looking towards the marina and town centre to the right.

Looking towards town and marina

Looking towards town and marina

Most of our holidays we rush around but this time we rested, which made for a very relaxing holiday. Just what we needed. Sometimes you just have to slow down and stick your toes in the sand.

Thanks for dropping by!

Pendolino, The Strand Arcade, Sydney Wednesday, Nov 19 2014 

Arriving back in Sydney after our week in Coffs Harbour, we were taken out to dinner by a friend Mr. Time Dealer, who was in Sydney for business. Our destination was Pendolino restaurant, located in the historic Strand Arcade in Sydney.

We were a little early for dinner so sat in the outside area of the restaurant and enjoyed a glass of prosecco. At 6 we were taken in to our table. I was quite surprised at the size of the restaurant, I hadn’t realised how much area was available in The Strand. The restaurant stretches along the George Street side of the building. The lighting was dimmed, exposed brick walls were on 3 sides of the room, the fourth lined with shelves of  Italian and local wines; cast iron scroll work, dark woods, Bentwood chairs all gave a relaxed and casual feel. Surprsingly for a Monday night the restaurant was very busy.

First job was choosing some wine. I was given the task, but being unsure I consulted the sommelier on the two I had chosen and we went with my number two choice of Tenuta Gorghi Tondi, Coste A Preola, Nerro d’Avola from Sicily. Wow, not too heavy, very easy to drink and with lots of character and flavour. Nice to try something new and different that really excites you. The sad part is we haven’t found a bottle shop in Sydney that sells it.

Our wine for the evening

Our wine for the evening

For entree Mr. CA4G and Mr. Time Dealer, both had the Alba style free-range raw beef carpaccio with truffled white walnut puree, Testun di Barolo cheese, rocket cress, wild baby olives and handmade rosemary grissini. Testun Di Barolo cheese is cheese that has had the grapes that have been pressed to make Barolo wine, pressed onto the cheese surface during maturation.

Carpaccio

Carpaccio

I went a bit vegetarian and had Beetroot salad with burrata, fresh mint, beetroot jelly, crisp breadcrumbs, Pendolino Aceto Secco Vinegar and King Island Ligurian honey dressing. Burrata is one of my favourite Italian cheeses and is similar to a mozzarella but with a lovely, soft, almost liquid centre. And I love beetroot in any form and this dish had baby beetroot in 2 colours!

Beetroot and burrata salad

Beetroot and burrata salad

For mains the guys both chose the same dish again, Ten hour slow cooked British breed beef, parsnip puree, grilled green shallots, pearl garlic, amarena sour cherry sauce. They seemed to enjoy it very much, and told me how soft and well cooked the beef was.

10 hour beef

10 hour beef

Mr. CA4G knew what I was going to have before I finished choosing the wine. He knows I love a slow cooked pork belly and there it was on the menu, Milk braised pork belly with house made pork belly, sage & pistachio sausage,  warm fava and controne bean salad. Pork belly and beans yum! The whole dish was very flavoursome and delicious.

Milk braised pork belly

Milk braised pork belly

As we were having a great time we decided to have some dessert. The guys again followed each other and ordered Black chocolate millefeuille with blackcurrant and blackberry sorbet, blackberry sauce. When it came out I was amazed to see that the pastry layers had been made with chocolate. I think they liked because they were rather quiet while they ate it.

Mille Feuille

Mille Feuille

I went for the  Blood orange olive oil ricotta fritters with “Fior di Latte” vanilla sorbet. The aroma as this was bought to the table was absolutely amazing.  The orange and orange blossom scent was a pleasure to smell while I ate.

Fritellini

Fritters

After a fantastic meal it was time to say goodnight to Mr. Time Dealer and stretch our legs a little before heading our seperate ways. I look forward to visiting Pendolino again in the future, although I may only have one course to help the waistline.

Cassegrain Winery and Ca Marche Restaurant Wednesday, Nov 19 2014 

A regular stop when we travel to Coffs Harbour for a holiday, is Cassegrain Winery at Port Macquarie. We usually have a quick taste and as our timing usually gets us there at lunch time, we take advantage of the opportunity to break our journey with a leisurely lunch.

The entry to the tasting room is through the barrel hall, rich with the smells of wine maturing.

Barrel room , Cassegrain Winery

Barrel room , Cassegrain Winery

Barrels , Cassegrain Winery

Barrels , Cassegrain Winery

After a quick taste it was time to have some lunch. Ca Marche overlooks the vines with ample indoor and al fresco dining areas. The menu features produce predominantly from local producers.

Vines, Cassegrain Winery

Vines, Cassegrain Winery

Vines, Cassegrain Winery

Vines, Cassegrain Winery

A bottle of sparkling Edition Noir Chambourcin was ordered, as we were in the mood for bubbles and you HAVE to start a holiday with bubbles.

We decided to start our lunch with some warm damper served with relish, extra virgin olive oil and artichoke dip. We also decided to share the charcuterie plate. Terrine, pate, smoked salmon, prosciutto, with artichokes, confit garlic, cornichons, sundried tomatoes and crusty bread. Very filling and we still had mains to go.

Charcuterie plate and damper

Charcuterie plate and damper

Charcuterie plate

Charcuterie plate

I chose a chicken breast stuffed and then wrapped in prosciutto, roesti, asparagus and confit cherry tomatoes.

Chicken Breast

Chicken Breast

Mr CA4G chose the seafood plate with Balmain bugs local calamari and scallops.

Local seafood plate

Local seafood plate

After all that, we decided to have dessert before hitting the road again. We thought we were choosingthe lightest item on the dessert menu by having the chef’s specialty French cinnamon doughnuts served with a warm amaretto chocolate ganache and orange scented mascarpone. We enjoyed them very much and they gave us a good sugar hit for the next leg of our trip. We forgot to take a photo because they looked so good we ate them straight away.

A tasting at Cassegrain and lunch atCa Marche, makes a great stop for anyone travelling north or south on the M1.

Stay tuned for our visit to Aanuka Resort at Coffs Harbour.

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!!

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