25 February 2010

spice temple

It took some time to find the entry to Spice Temple, a monogram door on a quiet and dark Bligh Street, opened to a winding staircase which led my Valentine and I to our Sichuan escape.

Spice Temple is apart of Sydney's Rockpool, Neil Perry's world renown Bar and Grill, but a kept secret is around the corner. The 'Cocktail Programme' is 12 drinks, based on the Chinese calendar, suprising ingredients like bitter orange, buttermilk yoghurt and pistachio set the meal up perfectly.

With quite an overwhelming menu and empty stomachs we chose to order the banquet, naturally.
The first few courses of their $69 banquet are intended to open the palate and they did just that. Pickled veggies, cucumbers with smashed garlic and ginger chicken salad in spring onion oil.

The next course and one of my favourites was the steamed eggpland with three flavours coriander, sweet pork and garlic blanched three times said to remove the 'nasty aftermath' it would normally bring. Delicious.

Our table was dimly lit, the mood was elegant and romantic with wooden blinds and splashes of red. Each course is given an explanation on how it should be eaten and why it made it to the menu.

Next came the Hapuka fillet, spicy fried squid with chilli paste, the melt in your mouth wagyu and more, soon feeling as though we could fit not another thing they bring their specialty. Never before have I seen the word 'numbing' on a menu, 'Hot and Numbing pork', strategically put in red on the menu, as are all the fiery hot dishes Spice Temple serves. A pork so hot that your tongue soon becomes numb to the chilli. Don't let that sway it works wonders and some green veggies in their house made oyster are set to follow to quench the fire.

And lastly the watermelon granita, an icy dish with ginger syrup poured over the top.

If you don't like Chinese take away (and I don't blame you) then you'll love Spice Temple.
Book at least 3- 4 weeks in advance and dress for the occasion.



08 February 2010

a foodie admission

I'm going to admit something here and now that might make you shudder, cry or gasp. I don't want you to blacklist me, but its an admission I feel I must make as a food lover and writer.

Ok, here goes: My name is Bianca and I don't like chocolate, *ducks for cover*.
I know, I'm a woman, it should be imbedded in my DNA, but It's not. My friends know not to buy me Easter eggs and my Valentine knows not to buy me chocolates, it's always been this way.

So why must I make such a shocking revelation? In the first season of Master Chef, the now famous Chocolate Mousse Cake made its first television appearance and while everyone was in awe, It didn't appeal to me. Adriano Zumbo is genius and I appreciated the sheer talent of the creator and the intrigue and stir the cake caused. But truth be told, if it were on a menu, I wouldn't order it.

As an aspiring food writer and Master Chef host, it got me thinking. How will I do all of this without a passion for chocolate? Any normal person would've melted at the sight of that cake, why not me? I've tried numerous times to like chocolate, the allure and raw appeal of the stuff is enough to force me to eat it, but there are thousands of things I'd rather eat.

Does this take away from my integrity as a foodie? I don't think so, I know what good chocolate is and deeply enjoy that splash of chocolate across my Max Brenner waffles.
But I thought i'd take it to the top and ask my inspiration Matt Preston, on my quest to becoming his writing apprentice, I will for the first time write to him and keep you all posted on the answer.

Until then, bon appetite


03 February 2010


If you want Thai with a difference you can't go past Longrain, a converted warehouse in the backstreets of Sydney's, Surry Hills. Swanky, fresh and delicious.

Beautiful photographs, the incredible art hanging from the ceilings and the not-so-Thai music are the first to greet you as you walk in, what follows is a slight wait.

The 90 minute wait was expected, arriving between 6:30-7:30 will guarantee a long wait if you are dining with more than two as there are no bookings.
Although the wait isn't ideal, this is the perfect time to indulge in some pre-dinner drinks at the bar. You can't go past Longrains famous cocktails, my pick is the very cleverly named Ping Pong, lemon Vodka, lychee liquer, lime juce and fresh lychees with mint you would think you were in Thailand. Incredible.

The food is sensational. Longrain's buzzy atmosphere and beautiful long communal tables set up an ideal eating experience. It brings the real flavours of Thailand to life with a twist.

Now for my picks-
To start you can't go past the betel leaves, a stack of trout and galangal, mint, chilli and lime juice wrapped up and eaten in single bite.

The Caramelised Pork Hock, melt in your mouth meat cooked in five spice. Served with caramel sauce (but not as you know it) and chilli vinegar.

Squid and Scallop with Blackbeans and Chill- Fresh seafood, Thai veggies and explosion herbs.

Kop Koon Ka and enjoy .