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Misshapen Lemon & Lime Tarts September 27, 2009

Filed under: desserts,Food,Home Cookery,Pastries — Dobsessed @ 9:01 pm
My Misshapen Lemon & Lime Tarts

My Misshapen Lemon & Lime Tarts

For those who know me, they won’t deny that I’m one of the most impatient people in the world.  I hate waiting, I’m known to call if people are five minutes late.  I cannot handle Myer during Boxing Day sales, and warehouse Sass & Bide $5 jeans sales? Even that won’t entice me.  Pretty much the only thing I’ll wait for is food…(I waited 37 minutes for a table at Yum Cha on Saturday!!).  My love of food, however, has not allowed me to display patience towards baking.  My food tends to taste OK (or so people I cook for tell me), but they’re generally quite ugly.  I’m working on it!

Ever since I had a lemon & Lime tart with blood orange ice-cream at Freestyles Tout (in West End), I’ve been craving it.  Thin crispy short crust pastry, butter, tart lemon and lime custard, creamy blood orange ice-cream…I was thinking about them for weeks.  In the end, I decided to make some myself.  I’m not usually a fan of very sour desserts, so I trawled the internet for recipes until I found one that I thought would work well.  It’s Wolfgang Puck’s recipe, which you can find here http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/wolfgang-puck/caramelized-lemon-lime-tart-recipe2/index.html.  Because I’m impatient, because I’ve yet to master the art of really cooking that well, I cheated and bought frozen short crust pastry and just made the curds to go in them.  I haven’t yet bought a blow torch, so I didn’t do the cramelised top either (which might’ve cut the acid actually), I decided to just serve them with cream.

ugly_tart5

My tarts were ugly for a number of reasons.  I didn’t have a cookie cutter (I usually make cakes or fat chewy cookies rather than a flat dinosaur like cookie), so I used my mum’s rice measuring cup and traced them with a knife.  I wasn’t very tidy – I’m working on being a perfectionist too.  The pastry was a bit thick – should’ve rolled them thinner (I didn’t have a rolling pin, I used a glass water bottle – learnt this from my grandmother).  My tart filling worked quite well though I thought…I used roughly two lemons and 6 limes.  The response to them were very mixed…so I think it all depends on one’s palete.  Pretty much everyone in my family thought they were way too sour, I’m not a fan of sour usually, but I actually liked them! One of my sisters thought that there weren’t enough lemons in them – she’s had a baby recently, so I think her taste buds are not stable.

My work colleagues were all generally pretty positive (I baked and shared, what would they really say?) but one girl did gag and spit it out (she’s not a fan of egg apparently).  My chocolate themed desserts usually provides for a more consistent response.  With such mixed reviews, I may have to perhaps perfect the misshappeness of my tarts before I try again.  After all, no one likes an ugly tart, do they?

 

Belle Epoque, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane September 23, 2009

It was Saturday afternoon, 3pm or thereabouts, I’d managed to convince my food loving sister to go out for dinner with me (she has a family, a mortgage and I’m a bad influence) and neither of us were keen for the usual quick and cheap Vietnamese fare in her area.

I called around a couple of places and was pleasantly surprised when I was able to secure a booking (at such late notice) for 4 + a baby at Belle Epoque, a French Bistro in the Emporium, Valley – a trendy eating ‘emporium’.

The Emporium is, I guess, a medium density residential luxury apartment block, with retail on the ground floor surrounded by car parks.  It attracts a mix of clientele, including uni students, lunching mothers, girlfriends, couples, a place people stop to eat at before heading out for the night…everyone really.

Belle Epoque is located next to the very trendy The Emporium Hotel which is a mix of daring textural wall pieces and bright red colours.  The restaurant itself has a patisserie attached (not opened at 8pm at night but usually has some tempting pastries in the display cases) and red awnings at the front.

I’ve been there a couple of times, and each time, I’m always taken slightly aback by the high ceilings and the muted warm lighting.  They have brass ceiling fans, foggy mirrors on the walls, lush looking round, red booths (which usually goes first as patrons usually specially request them), tiled flooring and all the wait staff had long aprons, collared shirt sleeves and vests.

We were seated at a round table, which is great for conversation.  The menu was extensive, with lots of different choices that doesn’t appear on the usual, every day menu.  Our waiter was also especially enthusiastic and friendly.  Water came without being requested (tick) and our orders were taken and it wasn’t too long before our food arrived.

Scallop ravioli with crawfish broth

The scallop ravioli with crawfish broth was absolutely delicious.  It wasn’t what I ordered, but I had serious food envy and was very tempted to steal it from my sister.  The ravioli was soft, pasta wasn’t too thick…but it was the broth that really won me over.  Full of crawfish flavour and the flavours just kept developing in your mouth.  It was a portion that just kept you wanting more.  The way it should be.

Escargot with garlic butter

Our other entrée was escargot with garlic butter which came in plate with individual ‘holes’ for each snail.  The texture was tender – I’d describe it as almost prawn like and the garlic butter was mild without being too oily or pungent.

sweetbreads

My entrée was sweetbreads with a cheese foam (sorry forgot what kind).  I’ve never had sweetbreads before, all I know about it is that it is the throat glands of younger animals, like lambs or calves.  It doesn’t sound very appetising, but this one was cooked really well, it actually has the texture of a Chicken McNugget – for those purists out there, I am a fan of a freshly cooked McNugget, so to me, was a good thing.  I thought the creamy ‘foam’ was way too excessive and it was more a thick yoghurt texture rather than a foam.

After spying some diners at the next table with breads, we also ordered some breads, bit pricey, at $3 a roll, we got four varieties.  They were all soft on the outside, crusty on the outside, but in terms of excitement, it didn’t rate highly, but all of us enjoyed the olive bread with the olive oil and butter.

lamb

Our mains came shortly after. The lamb was cooked as requested and was tender, juicy and delicious, it didn’t have a gamey taste either (which I usually describe as ‘stinky’).  The creamed polenta has a lovely creamy,  slight grainy texture and it was gorgeously buttery and I couldn’t get enough of it.

Duck D'Orange served in a crock pot

The duck d’orange came in a gimmicky blue crock pot.  You open the blue lid and spoon everything onto your plate and consisted of sliced duck breast, a generous serving of confit duck leg and potato rosti with a sweet orange jus.  The duck breast were ok, but the duck leg was tender and fall off the bone delicious, the rostis were more like potato gnocchi and the rich fatty meat were cut nicely with the slightly tangy and rich orange jus.  Perhaps a bit too orangey for me but I enjoyed it.

venison

A venison – served two ways was also ordered, served in a big, square plate.  I could only managed a small bite and the only thing I remember was that it was not gamey and the chestnut puree that accompanied it was rich and stuck to the roof of my mouth.

I thoroughly enjoyed the varied menu with the choices that aren’t regularly featured on the menus of other restaurants.  I must say, my first encounter with a ‘throat gland’ was an enjoyable one.

So, what is the most unusual food that you’ve tried and enjoyed?

 

Blue Smoke BBQ has fizzled! September 13, 2009

Filed under: Casual Eats,Food,Food review — Dobsessed @ 5:14 pm
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I’ve been to Blue Smoke BBQ numerous times in the past and have always liked it.  They used to be in the Entertainment book and they do 50 cents Buffalo Wings on Wednesdays.  They have become really popular so they’re no longer in the book and it seems that they no longer need to provide good service or good food.  My last visit last week was deeply disappointing.

I made an reservation a week before and they’re so busy, they now do two seatings per night.  One at 5:30 (who manages to get to a restaurant for dinner at 5:30??) or 7:30, I booked a table for two at 7:30.   We arrived a bit before 7:30 and the restaurant staff was resetting the tables for the second seating.  Despite us having a booking, despite the restaurant being empty, despite the fact that my dinner guest was 5 ft tall, they decided to seat us at the front of the restaurants on the high bar table and stools intended for people to have drinks at.  Not only that, we had to wait like 5 minutes before we were served because the staff was busy chatting to each other.  Oh yeah, we weren’t shown to our table either, the waitress just pointed to our stools and said “That one”, how incredibly rude.

To start, we shared a house smoked salmon which came promptly.  It was actually pretty good, the fish flaked off in pieces, was slightly sweet and not too salty.  I kept waiting for the corn bread (which I know is served complimentary during dinner) but our mains came and the corn bread didn’t, I just thought, maybe they did away with the corn bread along with the hospitality?  However, I was very put out when the owner, Steve, presented the next table with corn bread and then telling them it was complimentary.  When I asked about the corn bread, they acted like I was being greedy!  Oh, and when the corn bread came, the waiter, who was seriously one step away from our table, his friends came in and he decided to kiss and chat with them, seat them at their table before eventually bringing the (now cold) corn bread to us.  Could it get any worse?

It certainly can.  I was really looking forward to the pork belly, I can never go past a pork belly on the menu, but alas, the pork belly is no longer on the menu.  I chose the dry rubbed pork ribs (I believed it was called Tennesse Ribs) and my guest ordered the Kansas pork ribs.  The Kansas pork ribs had a tangy bbq kick to it and was super saucy.  It was very, very dry.  So were my ribs, my ribs were had a spicy dry rub and it was extremely hard to swallow (because of how dry it was).  Not tasty at all.  The beer battered fries were crunchy but way too salty (and I like lots of flavour usually) and the homemade coleslaw (which I used to love) was soggy and oozing milky water.

I usually always have room for dessert, but the dessert menu was truly lacking in inspiration consisting of some brownies and a baked cheesecake, I couldn’t even be bothered.

It seems like along with the popularity Blue Smoke BBQ has gained, good service and quality food has gone down the drain.  Such a shame, my guest had been really looking forward to it, and we left feeling completely unsatisfied.

Blue Smoke BBQ | 9/85 Merthyr Rd, New Farm | (07) 3358 1922 |