Crown: Colours of Cuba

Nobu cocktails

Disclosure: I attended Colours of Cuba courtesy of Crown.

I’m currently in Canada, but a couple of Mondays ago I was in Cuba.

Actually, that is a total and blatant untruth. I was actually at Crown for the kick off for their Colours of Cuba fiesta.

Colours of Cuba is running over four weeks (so there’s a couple of weeks left) and all venues within Crown are interpreting the theme in their own way with special drinks and food.


Nobu: Taste of Peru


Disclosure: I attended courtesy of Nobu and Media Moguls.

Peru is awesome. Peru is good. Peru is definitely worth a visit.

But it’s also very, very far from Australia. So if you can’t make it to the actual country, you could instead head to Nobu for a Taste of Peru.

But what does a Japanese restaurant have to do with Peruvian cuisine? Well the menu at Nobu has South American influences, which comes from Nobu Matsuhisa’s years in Lima after he moved there when he was 24 to open a restaurant.

Nobu Melbourne’s Executive Chef, Christopher Shane, is paying homage to Nobu’s history on Thursday nights with a special menu of 16 Peruvian style tapas and nine cocktails, and I was invited there late last year for a preview of the menu.


Bistro Guillaume: Champagne Dinner


Disclosure: I dined courtesy of Good Food Month and Undertow Media.

According to Guillaume Brahimi, champagne is for any time of the day – even breakfast.

Now I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I can definitely accept champagne on a warm summer night. As part of Good Food Month, I headed to Bistro Guillaume in late November for one of the highlight events: four courses of delicious food matched with champagne.


Silks: mid-autumn / mooncake festival banquet


Disclosure: I dined courtesy of Silks, Crown and Media Moguls.

In the Chinese / lunar calendar, the mid-autumn festival is one of the most important events of the year. It’s held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar year, when the moon is said to be at its brightest.

One of the ways the festival is celebrated is by eating mooncakes – confections / pastries made with a thin pastry skin and traditionally filled with lotus paste or red bean and often containing salted egg yolk (my favourite part and anyone who does like yolks, well you have no taste thanks bye).

This year, the mid-autumn festival falls on Thursday 19 September. In the couple of weeks leading up to it, there’s a series of events happening at Crown, including a special banquet menu available at Silks.


The Langham: Chocolate High Tea at the Aria Bar 2


Disclosure: I attended the Chocolate High Tea courtesy of The Langham and Media Moguls.

Afternoon teas seem to be hot, hot, hot this year. They’ve always been around but lots of new ones seem to have been launched in the past six months.

While that’s been happening, the classics keep chugging along.

For example: The Langham. They have been holding their Chocolate Bar afternoon tea in the Aria Bar for many years now. The last time I visited was a couple of years ago, and since then there’s been a change in head pastry chef, who has revamped all the chocolate treats to be a bit more modern.


Mr Hive Kitchen and Bar: dessert degustation

The evening didn’t start well. First I literally just missed the tram – I was five meters to the tram stop when I saw the tram slowly roll away. Wah wah guitar.

I then became lost at Crown. I thought I knew where Mr Hive was located, but I was wrong – I had no clue. Which lead me to walk up and down the street several times trying to figure out how to get to the first floor of Crown Metropol until it finally clicked that I needed to go “inside” the main part of Crown. Into the disorienting Crown maze I went. And first thing I did? Went in the wrong direction and took the wrong escalator. BAH. Things weren’t going my way.


The Langham Aria Bar: Burch and Purchese afternoon tea

Disclosure: I attended courtesy of The Langham and Media Moguls.

The other week I was invited to attend the launch of the Burch and Purchese afternoon tea at The Langham. It’s a limited series of afternoon teas starting in April – replacing the chocolate bar at the Aria Bar (which I have also attended previously), cakes and treats will instead be created by Darren Purchese from Burch and Purchese Sweet Studio in South Yarra.

If you’ve visited the B&P Sweet Studio, you’ll know that it’s like a crazy science lab for sweet things, so I was eager to see whether some of those whimsical and interesting flavour combinations would be brought across to The Langham.


The Langham: Christmas in July pudding making workshop

Pudding making class at the Langham

Disclosure: I attended this event courtesy of The Langham and Media Moguls.

So it’s July, and you know what that means, don’t you? Time to think about Christmas! Okay, perhaps it’s not quite time to plan for Christmas, but it will be right about the corner before you know it. Isn’t that a scary thought?

Last week I headed to the Langham with several other food bloggers and food media for a Christmas in July event. I was particularly excited by the fact that we would be having a Christmas pudding making session.

After a series of canapés and glasses of bubbles (I didn’t take pictures of the canapés, but check out some of the other bloggers linked below for details), we put on aprons and chefs’ hats and headed down to the pastry kitchen. Being a food geek, I was very excited at taking the big elevator down and checking out the commercial kitchen. Oooh. It was so shiny! And clean! And bright! And shiny! Plus you should have seen the massive commercial mixer – ahhh. It was almost as tall as me – which is not saying much, to tell you the truth. I wish I had thought to take a photo of it! (more…)

The Langham: Chocolate High Tea at the Aria Bar

Disclosure: I attended the Chocolate High Tea courtesy of The Langham and Nuffnang.

Last month I was invited to a food and fashion bloggers’ chocolate morning tea at the Langham, organised by Nuffnang. I don’t normally stuff myself with cakes and chocolates for breakfast – but you know what they say about not turning down an opportunity.

Chocolate High Tea at the Langham

When I arrived, I walked past this table and thought, “Ooooooh is that for us?” And what do you know – it was! We were introduced to the German pastry chef, Chef Markus Bohm, who talked us through the various treats on offer. All of the items used a different type of single origin chocolate (apart from the Lindt and Callebaut) with the cocoas from places like Yucatan, Costa Rica and Madagascar. We’ll take a closer look in a moment.


Nobu Melbourne

The other month, we headed to lunch at Nobu. Truthfully, I had heard so many mixed reviews about Nobu, combined with reports about how expensive it is, that I had never been that keen to go. But when I found out that they do a deal at lunch time for $57, which includes an entrée, main with miso soup, rice, and dessert, I figured it was worth a shot. So I roped in Maria and Daz from the Gourmet Challenge and off we went.

The menu for Nobu is long and it’s not terribly descriptive, so Bro and I pored over the menu beforehand to ensure that we weren’t caught out on the day (don’t you hate being in a restaurant and ordering hastily and then having food envy when the food arrives?). For the lunch deal, not everything is included – premium items like wagyu, lobster, and the signature black cod with miso aren’t available for example – but that still leaves plenty of choice. The menu isn’t specifically set up in categories like entrees and mains, but we assumed that the first section – “special appetizers” were entrees and the rest of the menu were considered mains.

Nobu Melbourne

Alastair ordered the sashimi tacos with yellowtail tuna, salmon, lobster and crab. I’m not sure what the tacos were made out of, but the crispy shells were filled with fresh sashimi and quite tasty.

Nobu Melbourne

Bro and Maria both ordered the beef fillet tataki, with onion ponzu and garlic chips. This was really nice, the thin slices of rare beef just seared on the outside and served in a sharp, tangy, salty sauce.

Nobu Melbourne

I had the tuna tataki with tosazu. Like the beef, it was just seared on the outside, and the thin, tender slices of tuna were in a vinegary soy sauce.

Nobu Melbourne

We also received a bowl of miso soup, which was pretty standard.

For mains, it wasn’t immediately clear what we could order. I assumed that everything past a certain point was considered a “main” and was part of the deal, barring the exceptions. Turns out, the waiter wasn’t entirely sure as well, but assumed what I assumed!

Nobu Melbourne

Alastair had the soft shell crab kara age. It looked really good, and I didn’t hear any complaints from him about it. I really liked the way it was presented – look at that mushroom!

Nobu Melbourne

Maria had the tempura baby tiger prawn with creamy spicy sauce. This photo cracks me up – when I went to take a photo, Maria flashed the peace sign without warning me. Naturally, I had to include it in this post! Maria’s prawns were cooked really well, and tasted great with the creamy sauce.

Nobu Melbourne

Daz had the wagyu gyoza with goma ponzu. Normally $37, could they be the most expensive dumplings in Melbourne?! I didn’t try any, but they did look and smell good.

Nobu Melbourne

Bro had the wagyu intercostal with seasonal vegetables and wasabi salsa. I think this was the best dish of the day – the beef was super tender with a bit of smokiness and the wasabi salsa gave a nice kick to the dish. It smelt so amazing too. Bro ordered very well!

Nobu Melbourne

And I ordered something from the grill menu – beef sirloin steak. There was a choice between three choices: teriyaki, wasabi pepper or anti-cucho sauce. I selected wasabi pepper.

Nobu Melbourne

I requested it medium rare. It was cooked really well, but it wasn’t as tender as I thought it could have been. I did really like the sauce though, but it was quite a lot of meat for one person and I did end up trying to foist slices on to the others!

The menu at Nobu is really designed for sharing – but with the lunch deal we all ordered our own dishes (tasting one another’s of course). So the timing of dishes, particularly the mains, was off – mine was the last to come out and it was at least 15 minutes after everyone elses. The waiter explained that this was due to the fact that Nobu had seven different kitchens (orly?). If we had been sharing the dishes,we might not have noticed the timing issue, but since we weren’t it really made us wonder about the seven kitchens.

Nobu Melbourne

For dessert, Daz and I both ordered the green tea trifle mousse layered with vanilla brûlée, almond and coconut meringue and milk chocolate ice cream, with lime and vanilla foam. I loved the way it was presented, and I enjoyed it. It wasn’t too sweet, or not too rich, and I found the green tea mousse nice and smooth with the almond and coconut meringue providing some crunchy contrast. I didn’t really eat the toffee, but it was very pretty!

Nobu Melbourne

Alastair had the Suntory whisky cappuccino layered with crunchy coffee cacao, coffee crème brûlée, milk ice cream and Yamazaki whisky foam. His dessert was very small compared to the other ones, and looked just like a coffee.

Nobu Melbourne

Bro had the tofu cheesecake with green tea crumble, berry compote and tuile. When the dessert arrived at the table, the compote was presented in a separate bowl. The waiter, noticing that we were taking photos, offered to pour the compote on top of the dessert for us so we could get a good shot. We all stifled giggles as the compote just plopped on to the dessert in a big blob. Not sexy at all, but points to him for trying!

Nobu Melbourne

Maria had the warm chocolate satandagi filled with pistachio and chocolate ganache in a Japanese bun and served with caramelised pistachios, berry coulis and almond ice cream. They looked like big balls with a chocolate filling!

I thought the lunch deal was good value – but only if you order carefully. I wouldn’t mind going back to Nobu again for lunch. There is a $45 bento box that I noticed other tables ordering that looked good, but I doubt I will ever eat there at dinner time. It is expensive. When I go to a restaurant, particularly a fine dining one, I realise that prices on items are going to be higher because I’m also paying for service, the fit out, etc. And that’s fine – it’s part of the experience. However, there is a point where a mark up just seems to be taking the piss – and Nobu reached that point for me. $40-$50 mains can be okay, but when a bowl of miso soup costs $6.50, a bowl of rice costs $4.50, or a milk coffee is $5.70, as it is at Nobu, it just seems ridiculous. But maybe that’s just me!

See what Maria thought of the meal.

Nobu Melbourne
6 Whiteman St
Southbank VIC 3006
Phone: (03) 9292 7879

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