Grace Cafe, Sydney – Sugar Hit 2010

I had originally not planned on going to the Grace Cafe for Sugar Hit as I had read reviews on last year’s Sugar Hit. However, my best friend’s new girlfriend wanted to try it out, and how can I say no to dessert?I have driven past the Grace Hotel many times but have never set foot in it. I never even realised there was a restaurant there until the night I went for Sugar Hit.

The main dining area of the cafe is a reasonable size from what I remember to be high ceilings. However, we were whisked away to an upstairs area. This area was more intimate and quite. The group at the bar next to us were quite well behaved, not the usual bunch you see on a Friday night. We were sat at some coffee tables and some lounges, comfortable for relaxing in, not the most comfortable to try and eat dessert in. But that had to do as I was excited to bite into my first Sugar Hit of the year.

The manager came out and was excited to explain to us that we were the first to try out Grace Cafe’s Sugar Hit for 2010, that made me even more excited. I was like a giddy girl in a candy store. I like being the first to try something out, it kind of makes you feel exclusive and special.

When our desserts came out, we were in awe. It was a mountain of deliciousness. Things piled up high seem more appealing than something lay flat on a plate. However, I soon found out the difficulty of eating a dessert piled up so high.

We begin with from top to bottom of the chocolate delight:

  • Chocolate fairy floss. I was transported back to when I was a kid and I would eat fairy floss at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. Actually, I still eat fairy floss now when I go to the Easter Show with my cousins 🙂 Back to the dessert.. There was a hint of chocolate in the fairy floss which made it even that more delicious. It creates a novelty for the consumer. Have dessert, have a little fun.
  • Chocolate macaroon. I guess the hype about macaroons is still continuing on. Macaroons are always delicious when made right. And it being chocolate, how can it go wrong?
  • Kahlua ice cream. I’m not a fan of ice cream or dairy. I like eating dairy products but it doesn’t agree with me. I had a couple of spoonfuls, but most of it was left untouched (this created problems for me later). Our scoop of ice cream was quite sizable and as I had left it mostly untouched, it began to melt and become a slight barrier to me reaching the lower levels. There was also nowhere for me to put it as the boyfriend, best friend and his girlfriend were not willing to take my scoop off my hands.
  • Chocolate fondant with self-saucing chocolate centre. A fondant is absolutely mouth-wateringly delicious when made right, and this one was. The chocolate centre was warm and oozing out. It was like a party in my mouth. One of my favourite parts of the dessert. I have never met a person who doesn’t like chocolate fondant. It is just a crowd pleaser. People love watching the chocolate creep out when they break open the fondant. Absolutely delicious!
  • Waffle basket. I’m not a fan of waffles either. I find them quite dry and they stick to my teeth which I hate. I had a little nibble, it was like what you would expect. However, it came into use when I needed to reach my last layer. It helped in enabling me to lift up any leftovers from previous layers to reach the next layer.
  • Strawberries. These were well needed. The tartness and the slight sourness were needed to balance out the sweetness of the rest of the dish. I do wish there were more though and that they were not at the bottom of the glass.
  • The dessert also came with 2 chocolate sticks and a chocolate bow just to add to the whole chocolate experience. The boyfriend offered to finish the chocolate sticks for me which I was happy to give him.

Each dessert came with a glass of Brown Brothers Orange Muscat dessert wine. It went well with the dessert. Usually dessert wines have a concentrated sweetness to it. However, I found this time that the dessert was even more indulgent than the wine and I found myself finishing the wine way before I had even finished the dessert.

My suggestion is to order one between two to share as the whole dessert overall was quite rich and indulgent. You feel like you’ve eaten so much sugar that you won’t be able to sleep that night. It gave us all enough hype and energy to walk all the way to the night markets in Chinatown and then to Central station. Most of this spent skipping and being very happy. So if you love chocolate, this dessert is a must to try.

Happy nom nom nom-ing!

Grace Cafe
Corner of York & King Streets
77 York Street
Sydney NSW 2000
T: (02) 9272 6888

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace Cafe on Urbanspoon

La Renaissance CafĂ© Patisserie – The Rocks, Sydney

Just a quick update before I get stuck into my assessments. I’ve been wanting to update but haven’t had time. So now that I have a spare moment I can tell you where Lemon and I went last Tuesday.

Lemon had been telling me about La Renaissance for some time now. He had worked there for a bit when he was at Hotel School. He was drooling over the pies when he was telling me so we decided to make a lunch date out of it.

La Renaissance conveniently enough is situated right next to the Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe. It has a small shopfront which led me to not notice it on my last adventure to The Rocks. When you walk in, you’re met with rows and rows of macarons, cakes, pastries and baguettes. Everything just looked so delectable. I’m such a sucker for food with a bright light shining on it.

Look at the macarons! *drool*

But we were there for lunch. Unfortunately, dessert had to wait. Lemon had a pie, of course, since he had been raving on about it since forever. I chose a baguette since I’m not really one for pies.

There are a total of 8 baguettes to choose from.

Poulet Chasseur: Traditional French hunters recipe of diced chicken, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic and white wine. $8

With a side of salad. $11

Lemon loved his pie. From taste and observation, I could tell it was quite a nice pie. The crust was very flaky, signs of a good pie pastry. The filling was quite saucy, which I quite liked as well. I like my meals to be quite saucy as I don’t like foods being dry. All in all it was a very nice self-saucing pie. Lemon was so into it, he even wanted another one after polishing off his plate. I told him to save his stomach for dessert.

Baguette RĂ´ti De Boeuf: Rare roast beef, with mixed salad, caramelised onions and Dijon mustard mayonnaise. $9

My baguette was alright. It reminded me of Delifrance from when I was young. I chomped it down even though the baguette was quite thick so I had a bit of trouble biting it. There wasn’t anything really special about the baguette, it was just very filling. I think I’ll try a pie next time around.

After buying your food, you can walk through to the back there there is a small courtyard. It makes you feel like you’re eating in a garden of sorts. Very chique sort of atmosphere created.

After lunch, we decided to go for a little walk before having dessert as we were so full. We went to the Baroque Bistro, Bar & Patisserie to have a little gander. Baroque is an off-shoot from La Renaissance. I believe that the macarons sold in La Patisserie are made in the Baroque Patisserie. We had a little look but left when we got bad customer service from the waitress.

We then made our way to Ken Duncan’s gallery where Lemon bought a couple of books for his friends who were getting baptised. After doing all that exercise, we decided to head back to La Renaissance to have some dessert.

There’s always so many people in the patisserie, it’s so hard to get photos of different cakes and the shop when there are business people wanting to be served. I’m quite easy with the choice of dessert so I let Lemon choose. The only thing I don’t like if berries, but luckily Lemon didn’t choose any. We bought our desserts and made our way to the Overseas Passenger Terminal where we sat and ate our goodies. We saved $1 per dessert for getting take away.

Our trio of delicious desserts.

Passion de Pierre: A light creamy passionfruit mousse, with a layer of raspberry jelly, encased in joconde and decorated with fresh seasonal fruit. $6

Joconde is a mixture of eggs, ground almonds, icing sugar and a little flour, made into sponge-like sheets. I quite liked the slight sourness and tanginess of the passionfruit. It was very light indeed. The small chocolate balls on top reminded me of black and white pepper which I giggled at while I was eating it.

Mousse Picasso: Layers of white and dark chocolate mousse, wrapped in folds of Valrhona “Jivara” milk chocolate. $6

Unfortunately the top of the chocolate box cracked in the box, but it was still all good. I personally didn’t like the outside because I found it too creamy and sweet. I gave part of my half to Lemon. But the inside was surprisingly quite light. The white chocolate mousse wasn’t very sweet and it worked well with the dark chocolate mousse. I didn’t really feel like I was eating chocolate at all.

Chocolate Eclair: Traditional choux pastry filled with chocolate pastry cream and topped with chocolate fondant. $4.50

Eclairs aren’t my favourite dessert in the world but Lemon wanted one so we got one. I gave him the bigger half though. It was nice for what it was. But my bias towards eclairs doesn’t allow me to have a neutral judgement. I though it was alright, enough said.

Tada! How yummy does it all look?

Lemon and I polished off all three desserts, it left us wanting more. But we were too full. As I was eating the eclair, a seagull was eyeing us. It was getting closer and closer. I don’t do well with animals, and I’ve had bad experiences with seagulls at the beach. They can get quite aggressive.

Look how evil it looks!

I made Lemon walk upstairs to the Overseas Passenger Terminal so we could take some photos. Enjoy the photos of Circular Quay.

Opera House

Ferry

Circular Quay Wharf

Guest appearance from my best friend Lemon

I then made Lemon walk all the way back to Baroque because I wanted to buy some macarons. But that’s for the next post. Visit La Renaissance someday and try their desserts, they’re worth it.

Happy nom nom nom-ing!

La Renaissance Cafe Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Valrhona Chocolate

My best friend Lemon bought some Valrhona Chocolate last week from Simon Johnson and he finally brought it over for me to try. He had first heard about Valrhona when he worked at La Renaissance Café Patisserie in The Rocks. I had never heard of Valrhona before and was quite skeptical of how nice it could really be when it I found out it was $13.50 for a 70g bar. But when I tasted it, I could see why. Each chocolate had its own distinct taste. Even some with a difference of 2% cocoa made the chocolate taste quite different. Each chocolate is from a different region.

Jivara 40% Grand Cru 70g Bar $13.50

Valrhona’s Jivara is created using cocoa from Ecuador and is a smooth and mild mannered milk chocolate with added malt and brown sugar. The 40% cocoa content provides an easy eating milk chocolate with a creamy texture and light finish.

Manjari 64% Grand Cru 70g Bar $13.50

Manjari a 64% Grand Cru is created from a blend of Criollo and Trinitario beans from Madagascar. An aromatic bouquet of fresh slightly acid chocolate flavour, with intense hints of red fruits. A delight that works well with the pieces of preserved orange peel.

Caraibe 66% Grand Cru 70g Bar $13.50

Valrhona Grand Cru – Caraibe 66% is a blend of Trinitarios cocoa beans from the Caribbean Islands. The “grands crus” are created from beans grown in a given geographic region but on different plantations. It is gentle and fruity revealing delicate flavours of almond and roasted coffee.

Guanaja 70% Grand Cru 70g Bar $13.50

Valrhona Grand Cru chocolate – Guanaja – 70% cocoa – a blend of Criollos and Trinitarios cocoa beans from South America. Bitter dark chocolate revealing exceptional complexity and incredible length of flavour.

My favourite was the Manjari 64% Grand Cru. Although the Caraibe 66% Grand Cru has only 2% difference in cocoa, there was a distinct difference in taste. The 64% was slightly sweeter and also had a smoother texture in the mouth. Whereas I enjoyed the taste of the 66%, but it left a dry feeling in my mouth, which is what I don’t like about dark chocolate when there is too much cocoa. Which is also why I didn’t really enjoy the 70%. I found the 40% one too sweet, milky and creamy for my liking. I’m not a big fan of milk chocolate because of this.

Lemon also bought me a bar of 68% Le Noir Gastronomie bar to cook with. I was researching on the Internet last night and I found some recipes on their website. I don’t want to waste such an expensive chocolate so I decided to make the Molten Chocolate Lava Cake and Le Souffle from the Valrhona website. I will post up photos when I do get around to baking these desserts.

68% Le Noir Gastronomie 250g $28.50

Le Noir Gastronomie bar is made from a blend of Criollos and Forastero beans from South America and Africa. Used in chocolate desserts, this chocolate is well-rounded, powerful and has a slightly bitter taste.

Happy nom nom nom-ing!

Michel Cluizel Chocolate Degustation – William Blue Brasserie, North Sydney, Sydney

How many savory dishes incorporating chocolate have you tasted? For me, I would have to say none before. When I first saw this event I was quite intrigued into how chocolate could be used in savory dishes. Sure I had heard of celebrity chefs using chocolate in their recipes, but I had always thought of that as being ‘scandalous‘ (my boyfriend and my new favourite word)/weird. However, William Blue together with Michel Cluizel and Apromo Trading brought me an evening of chocolate indulgence.

The boyfriend and I were seated next to the window, which I didn’t mind as it allowed a more romantic atmosphere with no one to bother us. We were served a freshly baked roll and a cocktail which I didn’t know what it was but was happy to drink it. In front of us was the menu. This was on the inside of the menu:

“William Blue is delighted to present, in collaboration with Michel Cluizel chocolate and Apromo Trading, an evening of degustation. Tonight explores the myriad of uses for chocolate, and also highlights one of the most exquisite products available in Australia.

Since 1948, Michel has been preparing single origin plantation chocolates. Each is unique, drawing on the quality of soil, the rainfall, and the minerals that naturally occur in the area. You will find flavours ranging from black currants and caramel, to smoke and leather.”


Now after reading that, I was already drooling. Chocolate for every course? Oh yes! I couldn’t wait for the dishes to arrive. Head chef of William Blue Brasserie, James Ballingall (who I see around William Blue during my breaks) gave us a short introduction into Michel Cluizel’s chocolates and gave thanks to Apromo Trading. I found out that Michel Cluizels chocolates were sold in the David Jones Food Hall, so next time I’m in the area I will go purchase some. I’ve always had a love for chocolate. But it wasn’t until the most recent years where I’ve learnt to appreciate dark chocolate. The slight bitterness really brought an edge to chocolate. The delicate pieces of dark chocolate, slightly sweet but  with hints of bitterness from the cocoa, followed by a smooth texture in the mouth made me fall in love with it. I feel like some chocolate now. But I will continue this entry.

So the meal began. Each dish was accompanied by a wine. The dish is bold and the accompanying wine is underneath each dish.

[no photo because camera was acting up]

Deconstructed foie gras truffle, accompanied by Los Ancones, salted Shantilly, Campari citrus

Stonleigh Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, 2009

Morel Mushroom and Villa Grancinda tortelloni noisette butter, soured hazelnuts and brussel sprouts puree

Seppelt Original Sparkling Shriaz, 2005

Breast of quail and Maralumi mole negro with crisp jicama and roasted cocoa nibs

Tamar Ridge Gewurztraminer, 2008

Green apple and Valvados granita


Double chocolate carbonnade of beef cheek, roasted garlic pommes purees, crisp enoki mushrooms

Young’s Double Choc Stout

Baby salad of beetroot, goat’s cheese, wild rocket and toasted walnuts

Smoked breast of duck, Concepcion and port glace, black cherry and confit leg springroll, arancini natura

Wynns Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz Merlot, 2007

Mangaro dark chocolate and King Island cloth matured cheddar ‘truffles’, black pepper lavosh, macerated apricots

De Bortolli ‘Noble One’ Botrytis Semillon, 2007

Mangaro and Maralumi milk creme tian with peanut butter soil and strawberry concasse

Tea and coffee

My personal favourites were:

Morel Mushroom and Villa Grancinda tortelloni noisette butter, soured hazelnuts and brussel sprouts puree: The Morel Mushroom was imported from Europe, it’s quite a meaty mushroom. It did indeed feel like I was eating meat. The chocolate was very subtle and only a slight hint of bitterness was present.

Double chocolate carbonnade of beef cheek, roasted garlic pommes purees, crisp enoki mushrooms: The beef was so soft. You didn’t need a knife to eat it all all. It was weird how I could taste both the chocolate and the beef but they just complimented each other so well. It wasn’t too rich either. I could’ve eaten another serving it was so nice.

Mangaro dark chocolate and King Island cloth matured cheddar ‘truffles’, black pepper lavosh, macerated apricots: Personally, I don’t like cheese and I don’t eat it. I have this thing where if I eat dairy I get really sick. I think it’s lactose intolerance but I can drink milk in tea. But since the cheese was covered in chocolate I had to try it. It was absolutely delicious! You first can distinctly taste the chocolate, then when the chocolate has all gone, the saltiness of the cheese comes through. It didn’t taste like cheese at all. It was so *drool*. I might try and make something like this.

Special mentions:

Smoked breast of duck, Concepcion and port glace, black cherry and confit leg springroll, arancini natura: The duck was smoked with earl grey which I found quite interesting. But I don’t really like any dishes that have a ‘poo smear’ on it.

Absolutely favourite dish (of course, it’s dessert!):

Mangaro and Maralumi milk creme tian with peanut butter soil and strawberry concasse: So so so delicious! It was kind of like a panna cotta, but more dense. It was made with Madagascan milk and dark chocolate. 2 layers of milk chocolate tian with a thin layer of dark chocolate in the middle. Although it was quite dense, you’d expect it to be quite rich and heavy. Yet is wasn’t. It went down a treat. The strawberries on top also helped to cut down on the sweetness of the chocolate. And the peanut butter soil, which looked like breadcrumbs provided the nuttiness to the dish. Of course in a chocolate degustation, the dessert has to be the best dish and indeed it was. I think if I see the head chef around I will ask him how he made the tian. Absolutely delicious!

Favourite wine:

De Bortolli ‘Noble One’ Botrytis Semillon, 2007: It was quite sweet but they didn’t give us much so it was perfect. According to my best friend Lemon, I have good taste as this is once of the better dessert wines. I think I’ll try and find a bottle next time I’m in a alcohol store.

The boyfriend loved the Young’s Double Choc Stout so I gave him mine as well. I’m not much of a wine drinker, but I did take a sip of every wine that was offered. Apart from the dessert wine with I guzzled down.

During the meal I was messaging my friend Richard, who was supposed to come but was complaining that the menu didn’t sound appealing enough. He was having korean hotpot with his girlfriend and was saying how much cheaper his meal was. Eventually I got the boyfriend to send a message saying: “From the author of happynomnomnom: It’s not about the price, it’s about the symphony of flavours in the mouth. It’s about the whole experience of the meal.” Unfortunately I didn’t get a reply from him after that.

The overall experience of the meal was excellent. The service was great. The food was delicious. The ambiance was quite romantic and comfortable with the dim lighting. And I didn’t find the meal too expensive. $99 for an 8 course meal with matching wines. According to the head chef, this was the beginning of a series of degustations that will be happening at William Blue. I hope there is so I can try more new and exciting things.

Happy nom nom nom-ing!

Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe – The Rocks, Sydney

Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe

After dinner at Zia Pina last night. The boyfriend, Richard and I headed next door to the Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe. The boyfriend and Richard were talking to each other and completely walked past the cafe. I, on the other hand, was more excited and stopped to looked at the menu. We stepped inside and I felt like a little kid in a candy store (or in this case, chocolate store). It was so beautiful. The cafe was brightly lit and I could see rows and rows of cakes and pastries. The manager sat us down quite close to the cake and pastry display. I was so happy.

Variety of pastries and cakes

There’s so much to choose from

Look at the supply of chocolate behind the counter

The manager was quite nice in explaining their specials of the day and giving a description of what it was. It sounded yummy! But I was so happy just to be there that I allowed the boyfriend and Richard to choose something from the menu. They both agreed to order the Ice Cream Taste Pallet and the Chocolate Degustation Plate. First came the dark hot chocolate that came with the degustation plate.

There was a piece of dark chocolate in the cup, but the hot chocolate tasted and smelt like powdered drinking chocolate.

Next came the Ice Cream Taste Pallet. We each had a taste of all the flavours and agreed on which was was our favourite and we stuck to it. I had the chocolate, the boyfriend had the praline and Richard had the white chocolate & raspberry. We shared the espresso one.

Ice Cream Taste Pallet

$14

Top L-R: espresso, praline

Bottom L-R: white chocolate & raspberry, chocolate

Finally what we had all been waiting for arrived. The Chocolate Degustation Plate. It looked so deliciously yummy. So delicious that we didn’t know where to start. We nibbled away at the trio of chocolates first. Then we moved from left to right on the plate.

Chocolate Degustation Plate

$30

Left-Right:

1. Lemon Torte: Lemon cream, lemon gel & ganache, hazelnut roulade layer with genoise sponge

2. Opera my way: Chocolate cream mousse, espresso butter cream, layered with hazelnut dacquoise & chocolate sponge

3. Special of the day: Strawberry yoghurt mousse, coconut, berry gel & chocolate sponge

4. White chocolate & raspberry ice cream

5. Dark chocolate dip & fresh strawberries

They were all so gorgeous. I could see a couple walk by our table and the woman stopped to look at what we were eating. I love it when that happens because I do the exact same thing when something catches my eye. We were so full after eating dessert that we didn’t really mind the walk to the car. Overall I had a great experience at the Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe. I will indeed go back for another treat in the future. Although it was a little bit pricey, I thought it was well worth it for the combination of food, service and ambience. It isn’t the most value-for-money meal but I thought it was well worth it. Pop in for a little snack if you have a sweet tooth.

Happy nom nom nom-ing!

Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe on Urbanspoon