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Prêt-a-portea, afternoon tea at the Berkley Hotel August 24, 2011

I started the day shopping in Harvey Nicols, which was very appropriate for what I had planned in the afternoon.

Prêt-a-portea at the Berkley Hotel, which is a modern take on the traditional English afternoon tea.  Prêt-a-portea is supposed to be inspired from fashion trends and encompasses inspirations from Tom Ford, Victoria Beckham, Chloe, just to name a few.

It was a rainy, gloomy day so I arrived early to my 3:30pm reservation.  The hostess who met me was absolutely lovely, apologetic that my table wasn’t ready (at 3:10pm) and seating me in the foyer with a few magazines.

I wasn’t forgotten either, at 3:25, I was ushered (with the magazines – as I was dining alone) to my table.  There was a place card, with my name on it! Very nice touch!

Personalised Place setting

I was presented with the menus, and the hostess also gave me a copy of the menu and the postcard inspiration to keep.  I went for the standard prêt-a-portea without the champagne and started off with a beautifully scented caramel and pear tea. The teapots and plates were all Paul Smith, brightly coloured stripe.

Menu – I can’t seem to rotate it!

Not too long after, the first of the savouries arrived.  Sandwiches, egg in a sweet, soft bun, tuna in tomato seeded bread, smoke salmon and teriyaki chicken rolled in tortilla.  All the sandwiches were served without crust, the bread soft, and reasonably tasty. These all went very well with my hot tea.

Egg sandwich, tuna and tomato bread, salmon, cucumber, terriyaki chicken wrap

Pear Caramel Tea

Paul Smith Dinnerware

Next up were the savouries: along with the savouries came with a 3 tier stand with brightly coloured, beautifully presented cake, savouries and shot glasses of little desserts.

Top tier, that was like a mint and coconut, I wasn’t a big fan of the Yellow shot glass

The savouries: Potato salad in a crispy crust, lobster nori roll, artichoke (sour with a nice crunch), cold spicy melon soup (delicious!) and Beef tenderloin.  All tasty and when the waiter asked if I wanted some more, another plate of savouries (all of them!) were quickly brought to me.  As I finished those, with a nod of my head, another plate of sandwiches.

Bottom tier, Savouries

After the 2 rounds each of savouries, I was ready for the sweets.  They looked too pretty to eat! They were all delicious with very distinct flavours, my favourite being the Chocolate and hazelnut praline.  I also loved the cookies, simply because I loved how they were iced.  Many of the desserts were quite mousse-like so it was very light and none of them were too sweet.

One of the cookies

I was also asked if I wanted to tea change and this time I got amazing apple and amazing it was.  Real fruit pieces, that were seeped in hot water.  Delicious, it was something to drink and something to eat!

I didn’t like one of the desserts, which was mandarin flavoured, but the rest I quickly devoured.  With a smile, another lot of desserts was brought, but this time, I was so full I was taking small short breadths.

After I finished everything, I was asked if I enjoyed everything? When I confirmed that I did, they said, “Would you like us to pack some for you to take home?”…WOULD I?! YES! I WOULD!

I got given a cardboard printed box that was shaped as a pretty handbag in colours of pistachio and pink and it contained three other desserts.

Overall, the only criticism was one of the (many) desserts that wasn’t to my taste, and some of the fondant that was used in shaping of the desserts…other than that, the whole experience was perfection.

I would recommend it to anyone and never did they once make me feel uncomfortable for dining alone.  Pictures are allowed too, so feel free to snap away!

I’ll be going back in a few months time – the menu changes every six months.  So, so worth it.

http://www.the-berkeley.co.uk/fashionista_tea.aspx

Caramel Room (The Berkeley Hotel) on Urbanspoon

 

Review: Mud Dessert Bar February 22, 2011

Filed under: Casual Eats,desserts,Food review — Dobsessed @ 7:01 pm
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I was excited to hear that there was a new dessert cafe, and my expectations were high. There really isn’t many decent dessert cafes in Brisbane…and with Freestyle Tout at the top, many places are rushing to open but none has really measured up.

 

Mud Dessert Bar is located in Oxford Street in Bulimba…street of lots of cafes, pretty good location.

 

On entering, it was a little bit strange.  The cafe has been painted completely black, with black tables and black chairs, I guess to get that edgy look, but the red and white pendent lighting in the room had bright white fluorescent lights and it was really strange in a cafe environment in the black room.   Room had stainless steel fans and it did little to stop the mugginess that hung around.  Come on, really? No air conditioning? Brisbane is pretty hot MOST of the time, but it was so hot to the point with the tables being sticky.

 

They actually served normal food, not just desserts and a varied dessert menu ranging from make your own ice-cream sundaes (choosing from different ice-cream flavours) for $15, to different plated desserts, $16 – $19.

 

Quite pricey considering Bulimba is the burbs.

 

The menu was quite creative and I was excited.  I chose a Mars Bar Creme Brulee and my friend chose a Banoffee.

Mars Bar Creme Brulee, chocolate Churros, chocolate sauce, chocolate ice-cream and Mars Bar Creme Brulee

My Mars Bar Creme Brulee came on a wooden board, looks impressive.  The whole dessert was incredibly rich, I’ve been known to eat 300 gram blocks of chocolates in one sitting, so chocolate overload is not usually a problem for me, but I couldn’t eat all of it.

The Brulee was huge, and I could not taste any caramel associated with Mars Bar, it just tasted like chilled chocolate cream honestly.  Very, very rich.  The chocolate ice-cream in a Chinese soup spoon was just silly, a scoop of ice-cream is hardly a one bite deal, and it was just ridiculous to try to eat, I couldn’t scoop my ice-cream up with a teaspoon so I had no choice but to just eat the whole scoop in one go.  The churros were pretty good, coated with sugar but honestly, the whole dessert had no balance.  I would’ve love some vanilla ice-cream, or some pouring cream…something to counter all that chocolate.  I was disappointed.

Banoffee, pistacio ice-cream, pistacio crumble

My friend’s Banoffee was equally disappointed, not because it tasted bad, just totally unbalanced.  The plate was piled with a strange oat-like crumble, my friend described as like cornflakes crispiness and piles of cream.  A very small layer of sliced bananas, like 5 20 cent pieces worth and a very tiny amount of caramel.  She said the caramel was incredibly tasty…but you only got a bite full.

Again. Disappointing.

There’s so much potential in the cafe, have air-con, refine the menu, drop the prices so it actually reflects the locality …but overall, I doubt I’d be visiting again.

 

Worse High Tea: Joseph Alexanders | Milton December 4, 2010

Filed under: desserts,Fine Dining,Food review — Dobsessed @ 4:38 pm
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So, went to Joseph Alexander’s for high tea for a friend’s Stepford Wives themed birthday today.

*SIGH* What can I say, Joseph Alexanders isn’t how it used to be. They used to be my favorite place for high tea, but I can now say that it’s probably the worse that I’ve been to.

Joseph Alexanders is housed in a pretty nice space, wooden floor boards, big windows that overlook the Brisbane River with bright sunlight streaming in. Linen tablecloths, with floral China (all mismatched)…that’s where all the nice things ended.

The table were lined with paper (…ok, I can overlook that) but they didn’t even give us linen napkins. We got paper napkins, not the nice thick ones, oh no…we got these flimsy, rough napkins that you would usually get from surbuban food courts.

I was very hungry (no breakfast) so I was excited when the three tiered plates came. I ordered the gluten free high tea and this is what I got for $36.90.

Not very pretty right, let me describe everything from the bottom plate up.

First tier Sandwiches (not finger sized):
Smoked Salmon with cucumber and tomatoes:
This was alright, the bread was pretty bad. I could tell that the bread were the ones you get in package and it’s very, very crumbly, like they’ve had it for three days. The bread actually completely fell apart and I couldn’t actually physically pick it up to eat. This sandwich was OK…I was hungry and I snaffled it up.
Chicken and Avocado:
Same stale, crumbly bread, but this time, the chicken tasted like cold rotisserie chicken and had absolutely no flavour at all. Not appetizing.

Second tier Almond cake and Macarons:
Once again, the cakes tasted like it has been sitting around for three days, the cake was very, very dry and very crumbly. Taste wise, it was OK, nothing spectacular, I would expect to buy an almond cake like this from the local coffee shop with my $3 coffee. You know those cakes that are pre-ordered from like a catering company. Once again, not very impressed.
Now the macarons. I know macarons ok, and these LOOKED nice…but macarons are made from almond meal and egg whites, they’re supposed to be light, airy and slightly chewy…these were as hard as rocks. Like the texture of Violet Crumble, but hard. The flavor was OK, nothing spectacular but once again, very disappointed.

Top tier, Petit Fours:
The chocolate mousse cups were nice. Just a thin chocolate casing with soft chocolate mousse inside. It tastes nice, like chocolate mousse, but it wasn’t really anything exciting or interesting. Probably one of the only faultless thing that I had on my plate though.
Now, I saved the creme brûlée for last because I looooove creme brûlée. When I went to eat it, I was very pleased that the top gave a resounding crack, but was very curious about the green.

Yes.

GREEN.

Creme Brûlée.

You know what it was? Avocado.

Yes, Avocado flavored creme brûlée and it was disgusting. The texture was perfectly smooth actually, but I felt like I was eating sweet (too sweet) guacamole. It was gross, I felt like asking for some corn chips and salsa, didn’t even finish it. Seriously one of the worse creme brûlées I’ve ever had. But…good job for trying to be creative. Too bad it failed.

Now, with the tea, they didn’t bother asking for our tea orders until after about 30 minutes so half of us had finished nearly two of the tiers before the tea even came. We all got our own individual pot and the tea list was very small.

I ordered a Chai and it was pathetically weak.

They didn’t give us a tea strainer each, and because we all ordered different teas, we had to share tea strainers which is just wrong.

Milk that were provided was skim, (how thoughtful, is it because we were women?!) and when we added it to the tea, it gave this weak, palid colour. Not impressed.

So anyways, we had some good chats, and the service was fine…but overall, the food, the tea was just pathetic and all I can say is…I didn’t choose the spot.

I have to say though, everybody there looked LOVELY and I think the birthday girl had fun…but food wise…disappointing.

I guess I can’t talk for the normal high tea, but the gluten free one was just bad. I really can’t say much for restaurants that is OK with serving subpar, stale cakes even if it’s for their gluten free patrons.

 

Spiderman Birthday Cake August 8, 2010

Filed under: desserts,Home Cookery — Dobsessed @ 10:46 am
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Recipe and method to come…

 

Gluten Free butterscotch cake with butterscotch cream cheese frosting July 3, 2010

Filed under: desserts,Home Cookery — Dobsessed @ 2:20 pm
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Fresh from dieting failure, I thought I’d make a cake. I’d start a new diet except my mum makes the best lakes I’ve ever had in my life, and I’m not starting ANY diet before eating that, so I’m just going to start next week.

I decided to break out my sadly neglected Kitchenaid with my new beater blade that my brother had gotten me from the States. The beater blade is plastic and not metal like the blade the Kitchenaid usually has but it’s quite sturdy and did a top job of beating, and scraping the sides of the bowl at the same time. Very pleased.

Here’s a recipe for the butterscotch cake with butterscotch cream cheese, you can definitely use normal flour to make it, I’d actually adapted it from a normal recipe, so it probably works better.

Ingredients

225g of softened unsalted butter
125g of light brown sugar
80g of caster sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups of gluten free self-raising flour, sifted three times (I used White Wings brand)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs milk
400g of cream cheese – use full fat, low fat is too runny

Butterscotch sauce
This butterscotch sauce is a lot sweeter and more honeyed than usual butterscotch that I usually make, this is because you actually use this butterscotch sauce to sweeten the cream cheese frosting.

60g t0 70g of butter
75g of light brown sugar
50g of caster sugar
40g of runny honey
2 tbls of golden syrup
150ml thickened cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 Preheat oven to 170C and line an 8 inch round cake pan.
2 Beat butter until soft, add sugar and beat until pale and creamy.
3 Beat in an egg at a time with a tablespoon of flour (make sure the flour is triple sifted!).
4 Beat in vanilla nd fold in the remaining flour and add the mill and mix.
5 Put it in the pan and bake for around 40 – 45 minutes. The cake is ready when a skewer comes out clean.
6 Divide the cake into two rounds.
7 For the sauce, melt everything together except for the cream. Once it starts to develop some bubbles, add in the milk and stir, take it off heat and cool.
8 Beat all the cream cheese until soft, add in most of the butterscotch sauce, save a couple or 3 of butterscotch sauce.
9 Fill the cooled cake with the frosting and top and drizzle butterscotch sauce on top.

 

Gluten Free Saucy Chocolate Pudding (Pantry Puddings) June 15, 2010

Filed under: desserts,Food,Home Cookery — Dobsessed @ 7:25 pm
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This is seriously the easiest chocolate pudding to make ever…and it tastes soooooo good!  And the servings I’ve listed make just two small 150ml sized ramekins, so it’s perfect for middle of the night cravings (it only takes 15 minutes after all!) or when girlfriends drop by and you’re in search of something sweet.

I wanted to call it Pantry Puddings because the ingredients this recipe calls for are always in my pantry…but my friend laughed at me when I said that, so maybe it’s not the case for everyone?

The first ten times I’ve made this recipe, I used dark chocolate which was very rich (and delicious) and pouring cream into the pot made a rich, delicious chocolate sauce, I’ve also made it with Rolo recently which was less rich and had a nice milk chocolate caramel goo in it.  I probably perfer the orginal version because if I’m after a chocolate hit, I want a REAL hit…not a mild one…but either one is tasty.

Makes 2 small ramekins

Ingredients

80g of dark chocolate, break into pieces

40g of butter

1 heaped tablespoons of self raising flour (I used White Wings Gluten Free flour)

1 – 2 heaped tablespoons of caster sugar (for the Rolo version, I only used 1 tablespoons of caster sugar – you could probably use brown sugar too)

1 egg

– Preheat oven to 200 c fan forced

– Melt butter and chocolate in a bowl on Medium for about 2 minutes – do it in 30 second bursts and stir afterwards so it’s combined, no whisk needed, I just use a spoon.

– After the chocolate has cooled slightly, add the egg and stir that through until it’s well combined

– Add the flour and the sugar and stir.

– Pour into ramekins and bake for 12 – 15 minutes.  You know it’s ready when the top has puffed up, so check after 12 minutes…if you leave it too long, it’ll be quite cakey and less gooey in the middle…and trust me, you want the goo.

So, so good.

 

My 2009 Christmas – I love family and I love Christmas! :) January 9, 2010

I’ve been neglecting my blog of late, not because I haven’t been buried in food…oh no, far from that!  It’s taken me this long to climb out of the mountain of food that I’ve been blissfully buried in.  Unfortunately, the long climb out has also made my memory a bit hazy, so I can only put in a couple of entries – Christmas Day, New Years Eve and New Years Night…there were Yum Chas, Thai Dinners with homemade soufflés, Pork belly dinners with crème brulee, ramen at Ajisen – I might actually write about that one, and more I can’t even remember now.  So let’s start with Christmas.

Every Christmas, my sisters (and next year my brother) take turns hosting Christmas (in my family, it’s all about being fair).  This year, Christmas would be hosted by my sister ELLE and we all bring a couple of dishes and we all dig in.

This is the menu:

Chips and dip (a tomato one and a basil and cashew nut one)

Crackers with King Island double cream brie

2kg of Prawns

Triple smoked ham with mustard marmalade glaze (best ham ever)

Rosemary and lamb sausages

Herbed pork sausages

Roasted Peppers

Roasted Pumpkins

Roasted Potatoes

Duck roast potatoes with truffle salt

Cauliflower puree

Creamy potato salad

Chicken Caesar salad

Marinated chicken wings

Lamb chops

Fruit platter – rockmelons, mangoes, strawberries, lycees, kiwi fruit, cherries, plums, peaches

Sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and almond praline

berry and white chocolate cheesecake

Needless to say, we all pretty much had a nap after lunch…actually, I don’t know about anybody else, but I was certainly snoring.

I was in charge of desserts, so here are the recipe for the sticky toffee pudding.

Sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and almond praline

My sticky toffee pudding actually came from two recipes, I like doing that…looking at heaps of different recipes, and then choosing my favourite bits from each recipe and combining them.  So far, it has worked beautifully.  When I make the butterscotch sauce, I never really follow the recipe, I just haphazardly had stuff as I ‘look’ at the sauce and I like to had fresh grinding of salt into the sauce because I like the little salt crystal bursts in amongst the sweetness.

Pudding:

200g of pitted dates, finely chopped

250 ml of water

2 tsp of bi-carb soda

75g of unsalted butter

125g of brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tablepoons of golden syrup

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

200g plain flour, sifted

Sauce:

200g brown sugar

60g of salted butter

150ml of cream

2 tbls of golden syrup

1 tsp of vanilla

grinding of salt (optional)

Praline:

1/4 cup of toasted slivered almonds

1/2 cup of caster sugar

For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 170 C and line an 8 inch cake tin.

Bring the dates and the water to boil and then simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the bicarb soda, it will froth up.

Cream butter sugar together in a mixer until creamy, add eggs in one at a time and mix.  Add in syrup, vanilla and sifted flour and mix.  Beat in the frothy date mixture in two lots and pour it into your pan.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

For the sauce:

Melt everything (except for cream and salt) together on medium heat.  Once melted and it’s starting to bubble, add the cream, it’ll bubble lots.  Once you take it off the heat, add the grinding of salt.

For the praline:

Line a baking tray with non-stick paper and sprinkle over with the toasted almonds.  Combine the sugar and two tbls of water in a saucepan.  Cook over medium heat and swilr around until the sugar has dissolved.  Don’t stir this, just swirl.  This takes a bit of time, but remove once it’s a deep golden colour, if it’s too light, it won’t set properly.  Pour over the almonds to cool until set, and then break to serve on the cake.

To serve:

I poured the sauce over the pudding, and the pralines on top and had a jug of the sauce for those who want more sauce (everybody does).