Tuesday, November 30, 2010

iPhone app for Beer Lovers (30/11/2010)

This note arrived among my emails today.
We haven't tried to use it and post it without comment.
Blog readers might be interested in the latest app from Cascade. It's the quintessential beer-lovers free iPhone app, and more importantly, it's tailored to gastronauts with the potential to match food choices to specific beers! Imagine you're at a restaurant and want light beer to accompany your calamari dish before you get a bottle of red for the main, but you haven't heard of the beer on the menu. Simply type it into Cascade's Brewer's Nose and bring up the review.

The Cascade Brewer's Nose features tasting notes on over 500 Australian and international brews compiled by Tasmanian chef Rodney Dunn of the Agrarian Kitchen (not just Cascade!).

The application uses GPS technology to help beer-lovers search for their favourite stores, pubs and bars that stock Cascade as well as helping you keep tally of the brews that you've tried to date. It's a little like Foursquare for beer.

Users can keep track of the beers they've tried to date through the use of barcode technology - scanning a beer will bring up a review and add it to your log of beers.

We thought this kind of app might be of interest to your site as it is a great guide food and drink in Melbourne. One of the great features of this app is the potential to link specific brews to choice of food. For example, the app might recommend Sapporo as the best choice to accompany a fish dish.


Best of luck!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Royal George (Kyneton) 11/2010

There's a fair bit of history about the Royal George dating back to the mid 1800's but here we're interested in what they do for dinner. It struck us as strange that while the AGF has given them a hat for the last four years Gourmet Traveller, written largely by the same people, has ignored them. They have also had several different chefs in that time but, evidently, they've remained an excellent gastro-pub.
So did they live up to their pedigree?
Saturday dinner is an a degustation meal for the whole table, five courses for $85, seven for $110 or nine for $125. There is a seven course vegetarian option ($75) and five half glasses of wine add $47 to the bill, seven adds $65. It is served in two large, simply furnished rooms carpeted and painted in antique tones.
They were quiet and comfortable although the floor near our table needed re blocking and rocked every time a waiter passed, which was often. Rather than discussing and dissecting each of these dishes separately we will simply offer the menu descriptions with a few comments and a general comment at the end. Bread is one of our favourite things.
We did not have to wait or ask as it came before the first course which was a 48 degree oyster, cantaloupe melon...goat cheese
followed by Pairing of land and sea diver scallops... crispy chicken... garlic shoots...artichoke...foie gras.
The third dish was Oolong tea broth... shitake mushroom... onsen egg...asparagus...sot ly laisse, here shown before the tea was addedand after.
This beautiful looking dish was quite overwhelmed by the very strong tea which was copiously poured over it. It would have been much better if there had been much less tea so that the egg and the other ingredients could blend with their flavours. Next was gently poached marron...Jerusalem artichoke...concord grape puree and savoury granola.
This was an exquisite combination particularly well set off by the puree. The fifth course was crochetta di carni... sauce gribiche...quail egg confit...breakfast radish and parsley
was followed by grade 9+ Blackmore wagyu...daikon...passionfruit...tarragon and eda mame.
This could be substituted with either a lamb or duck dish for a $10 supplement but who would want to. This decent size piece of wagyu was magnificent. After this a tequilla ice cream fresh lime and salt
was a good example of the popular salt/sweet combination. The penultimate dish was a beaufort de saovie with watercress, hibiscus and virgin hazelnut oil.
This was a piece of art on a plate and illustrates the nature of the presentation of the meal., not only exceptionally varied and tasty but also a joy to behold. Finally we were offered an orange dessert but swapped it for a valhrona chocolate, crispy and soft with pear salsa and yogurt ice cream

Jim served us well and provided good explanations of the dishes. Without him we would have neede a food dictionary to have understood the menu. He also gave us excellent advice in regard to wines. They have a very good list of largely local wines at fair prices. We especially enjoyed an Epis and Williams 05 Cab. Merlot.

The menu begins with a little philosophy

“Creativity is born from originality, as well as a celebration of tradition and respecting ingredients. Techniques are based on concept and observation. To understand the meaning of cooking, we first should want to share. Every dish is a reflection of the cook’s personality, from silence and concentration; it demands purity and asserts itself…”

Only very good restaurants go close to realizing this and the Royal George can be counted among them. The food is exciting. It is a visual, gustatory experience. Although not every dish was a total success food and service of this quality would be a acceptable in the best restaurants in the world.
Score 17/20

... ..

Annie Smithers' Bistrot (Kyneton) 11/2010

Is there an Annie Smithers? Yes there is and she cooks at her eponymous bistro at 72 Piper Street, Kyneton. Little over an hours drive from Melbourne this is a good example of an Australian country town. Details would be superfluous but apart from the interesting antique shops we were told that there were two outstanding, and very different, restaurants. Annie Smithers' Bistrot is one and the Royal George is the other. We had lunch at the Bistro and were astounded.The Bistro occuppies a pleasant simply furnished room

with plenty of space between the large tables. The wood floors and bare brick walls are a potential noise trap though this was not a problem with few patrons remaining during our late lunch. The menu is simple, on one side of a single sheet. Four entrees ($18.50) on the left, six mains ($34) in the middle and four desserts ($14.50) on the right. They also have cheese ($12.50 for one or $25.50 for a taste of four) That last 50 cents struck us as odd. We started with chicken livers, bacon, spinach and veal jus, a sometimes risky choice.
It was superb. The tender livers lightly sauteed, just barely cooked but not at all raw, the jus not too reduced, the combination with the lardons and spinach balanced a mouth watering dish worth a return visit.

Their char grilled eye fillet
was served with the most delicate potato croquettes, a first class home made Bernaise sauce and rocket which we replaced with a leaf salad. Once again the excellent produce was handled with care and could not have been better. The Glenloth lamb in thee different presentations
with lightly steamed young broccoli on a separate plate
was equally excellent. A dessert of crepes with lemon curd, strawberries and creme fraiche was much improved by the strawberries being lightly cooked and served warm.

Overall the food was treated with understanding and suggested a deep sensitivity to the produce. The kitchen garden outside the back door, was probably a source for some of the vegetables. One can picture a triangle between the produce the chef and the patron which, in this case, was in perfect harmony.

Score: 15.5/20

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Buon Ricordo Sydney 11/2010

Buon Ricordo, good memories, has been around for a long time and it has a substantial reputation for ambiance, service and food. Four years ago it was rated by Gourmet Traveler in the top dozen or so restaurants in Australia and they currently put it at 29th in the country, although it has managed to lose a star along the way. It is known for the consistency of it's food and its fine wine list. As usual, wishing to try as much as possible we chose the degustation menu which actually is made up of your choice of dishes off the main menu. We were offered a brochette which Sandra commented was burnt, a remark the waiter chose to ignore. This was not a meal that stood up well to close analysis. An Ocean trout carpachio
was see through thin and lost the texture of the fish. Mushroom caps
filled with bacon and almonds were coarse with a very tiny serve of Swiss brown mushroom soup was very good but oh so little. Their signature dish Fettuccine tossed at the table with a soft fried truffle egg, cream and a substantial amount of grated Parmesan cheese
was fun to see but had much to much cheese
and was fearsomely rich.
A tomato consomme with a basil pesto
provided a welcome relief. A small fillet of crisp skin bass groper
was pretty on the plate but ordinary on the palate.Our last main, a crisp skin duck breast was an very good piece of poultry beautifully prepared.
Other main dishes did not look inspiring. A linguine marina
and a beef roll were other options, and came with vegetables.

For dessert we had a selection
and a lovely fine sliced apple mille fleur.
Tea came with some sugared pastry and sweets. Chef/owner Armando Percuoco
was extremely amiable with a glass of red, wandering about the remaining tables chatting with patrons, toward the end of the evening. We watched the chefs scrubbing down the open kitchen for at least an hour after they stopped cooking, leaving everything spic and span. Buon Ricordo is certainly a pleasant place to dine,
quite expensive and quite good but many restaurants have now left it behind with interesting very well prepared meals. It is unlikely to hold its very high rating much longer.
Score: 14.5/20

Monday, November 08, 2010

RACV Smorgasbord 11/2010

The Royal Automobile Club of Victoria, with its headquarters in the Melbourne CBD is the most successful club in this state, probably in Australia. Apart from a couple of excellent country clubs their city facilities are a source of pride. They have a fine dining room and offer an extremely popular Sunday smorgasbord for members and their families and friends. The dining area is very pleasant with well spaced tables and comfortable seating. There is a clean attractive feel to the space with white linen clothed good sized tables set with solid cutlery and crockery. The smorgasbord is set out in a U shaped arrangement with cold dishes along each side and hot dishes at the end The U is partly closed by a table with tureens of soup, potato and leek and lobster bisque on this occasion, and a chef cooks to one side. The food, which is abundant, looks super tempting set out in trays which are constantly refilled. Salads, seared tuna and seaweed salad,
smoked salmon,
sushi, cold cuts,
Vietnamese rolls, oysters,
prawn cocktail, king prawns, spanner crabs and more surround the hot roast potatoes, vegies, BBQed duck breast, lamb, barramundi, in bain maries

as well as turkey and beef carved as required. The food is fresh and the products excellent but there is a serious deficiency in seasoning. The salads have never seen salt or pepper and are not as good as they should have been.
Dozens of desserts, some labeled gluten free,

mostly very tasty occupy several tables in the foyer.
There was only one small cheese plate but, with this as a start
I felt no need to complain. Self serve tea and coffee are available. The modest but adequate wine list is exceptional value with the some RACV selections only $3.50 a glass. Spirits are also available from a separate bar area. Waiters are efficient clearing used plates and serving drinks and water promptly. A trio of musicians move about playing requests and birthday songs where celebrating guests enjoy a birthday cake, courtesy of the management.
A place for people of all ages it must be the best value in town at $51/head. You will need a member to make a reservation for you.
Score 14/20