Restaurant Review: Ostro High Tea

Need I say more about Ostro? Excellent service, great good, fantastic ambiance….together with great company, it is always my choice of restaurant when it comes to a treat.

Today we were there for a baby shower. Typical high teas usually contain items that are unsuitable for pregnant women, but Ostro has kindly prepared in advance items that the mother-to-be can have before we asked (we did mention when we make the booking though), service – tick!

I find it tricky to see their high tea menu online, so here's a copy!

I find it tricky to locate their high tea menu online, so here’s a copy!

As you can see, some of the savoury items are pretty standard. My favourite is the Toasted Brioche and the Cheese & Bacon Scones. The Toasted Brioche was light and flavorsome. It was served as a skinny long strip I can easily for two, three, or four of those.

The beauty of the Cheese & Bacon Scones is not just in the fluffiness of the scones, but it was the whipped maple butter that caught my attention! Sweet butter? It was a bit strange in the first bite, but second and third bite comes I grew to like to sweet butter. It perfectly balances with the savouriness of the scone but not too overriding.

Here'e the stack (minus the savioury scones and pregnancy friendly sandwiches)

Here’e the stack (minus the savioury scones and pregnancy friendly sandwiches)

I never have much of a sweet tooth so to be honest I have not tasted every item of the sweet (there was a little girl and she happily ate all my sweets). What’s worth mentioning is the Veuve Clicquot & Lychee Marshmallow, this was the only item everybody were fighting for, young and old.

Close up of the sweets for those who like sweet. Oops the marshmallow was about to be divided!

Close up of the sweets for those who like sweet. Oops the marshmallow was about to be divided!

The high tea was accompanied by a wide range of bottomless tea. At $55 per person I’d say we all had a pretty decent feed and a fantastic time.

Ostro High Tea is served from 3:30 to 6pm, every Sunday. Booking essential.

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Restaurant Review: Peasant

“Peasant” – English. A poor smallholder or agricultural labourer of low social status (chiefly in historical use or with reference to subsistence farming in poorer countries).

Owner of Peasant was certainly not a farmer, but he definitely know how to make the most of his raw ingredients and turn them into enjoyable food. In fact, I purposely write this review after dining there for the second time because I wanted to be able to review on more items off its menu.

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The menu might appear small, but they regularly change items on menu, creating food using only the freshest ingredients in season.

For lunch, I had the beef pho which the tasty broth is only made daily. They often sell out over lunch and it is a lunch only item.

For dinner, our party of 5 decided to order a few dishes to share. We went for their special pork ribs (not on menu), pork belly, chicken wings, lamb skewers, egg tofu, daikon wontons, roast duck and brocolini.

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Dishes were of good portions and they are great for sharing, the sauce is a little salty but goes well with a rice.

Brilliant cheap eat. This place has recently got their BYO licence so come in chill out with your friends. Close Monday.

Greek-style grilled fresh anchovies (γαύρος στο φούρνο)

Forget about what you know about the salty little fishes from a jar, these are fresh and are recently available in New Zealand as American import. We’ve heard about how tasty it is so now that they are available to us (cheaply!), let’s make use of them! The original recipe asked for these fishes to be baked for 30 minutes, which I think it is way to excessive being so delicate and small. So I have turned this into a grilled dish taking less than 30 minutes from preparing the sauce to coming out of the oven ready to serve.

Prepared anchovies

Prepared anchovies

So let’s start with the anchovies. They came in frozen and not gutted. So you need to be prepared to get your fingers fishy. Cleaning is easy – cut the head and open up the belly, clean all guts then remove the middle bone. It’s easier than it sounds, just a little time consuming with all these little fishes. Pat dry with kitchen towel and ready for cooking.

Ingredients:
Anchovies, prepared as above
one whole onion, chopped finely
two to three gloves of garlic, chopped finely
two to three rip tomato, chopped finely
two tomato, sliced
capsicum, sliced

Seasoning:
1 bay leaf
olive oil
1/2 cup of wine
salt & sugar (depending on how rip your tomatoes are you might not need sugar)

All the ingredients

All the ingredients

Put in a nice hot pan some olive oil and the finely diced onion and garlic, stir until soft, then add in the diced tomato, wine, bay leave, salt and sugar if your tomato is not quite rip enough.

Diced onion and garlic

Diced onion and garlic

Tomato, wine, bay leave and season to your liking

Tomato, wine, bay leave and season to your liking

Bring the sauce to simmer for 5 minutes then transfer to a large baking / oven safe dish.

Line the base of your baking dish

Line the base of your baking dish

Line the anchovies evenly on the sauce as such:

Line the anchovies nicely

Line the anchovies nicely

Cover with sliced tomatoes and capsicum.

Add in the veggies

Add in the veggies

Because the fishes have been spread out evenly onto a thin layer, you only need to grill this in the oven at 180-200 degrees celsius for 10 minutes, or until cooked. The vegetable will be beautifully caramalised and the fishes just done to perfection.

Serve with pasta, salad, roasted vegetables, bread, or just eat them as it is! It is not an overwhelming taste but just enough for you to enjoy the sweetness of these little fishes. Enjoy!

Yummy!

Yummy!

Fresh pasta!

This is a simple recipe which I’ve learnt some years back. The portion of the ingredients is so simple it’s hard to unlearn once you have acquire the technique. The only tip to this is picking the right sort of flour (sorry if you are gluten free). It is pretty fool proof.

Ingredients:
Tipo “00” flour
Semolato flour
eggs

(Left) flour for pizza and (Right) flour for the surface

(Left) “00” flour for pasta/pizza and (Right) flour for the surface

1. First decide how many you are cooking for. I am cooking for four tonight and have measured 400g of the “00” flour to start. When you get the “00” flour at the supermarket, you will see that it says it is for pizza base. I have chosen this because it will give you that lovely al dente bite when cooked.

"00" flour for the pasta

“00” flour for the pasta

2. The recipe is pretty simple – with 100g of flour you add one full egg and one egg yolk. Here is 4 + 4 (oops, egg yolk does break on impact!)

100g flour = 1 full egg + 1 egg yolk

100g flour = 1 full egg + 1 egg yolk

3. I like to mix the eggs and flour in a bowl before transferring on to a flat surface, simply because with a wet dough it will stick more on the surface than to itself. So I usually have it roughly mixed in a large bowl until the eggs and flour are all together, then transfer the dough on to a clean, dry, flour dusted surface.

Roughly mixed dough

Roughly mixed dough

4. This is the fun part. Knead the dough for as long as it takes for you to feel boyancy in the dough AND until it doesn’t stick to your fingers. So during this process you may have to continue dusting the dough with more “00” flour. You do end up with a bigger dough, and how much flour you’ll need depends on the size of your eggs and the moisture in the atmosphere. The kneading usually takes a good 5-10 minutes.

knead the dough

knead the dough

5. Once complete, rest the dough a side, best to wrap in a bit of glad wrap and put them away in the fridge for 30 minutes or until it stop being so bouncy (press firmly with a finger and you can leave an imprint). During this time you can prepare your other dishes, grate some cheese, cook up your sauce…etc etc

shhhh....have a good rest zzzz

shhhh….have a good rest zzzz

6. When the dough well rested, dust your table surface with the Semolato flour and roll your dough out to a thin sheet. Semolato flour will give your pasta a lovely rough surface to cling on to any sauce and flavouring you want!

Wakie wakie! Time for a big stretch!

Wakie wakie! Time for a big stretch!

7. If you don’t have a pasta machine you can just roll it out by hand and cut using a knife. If you have a pasta machine just roll the dough out slightly until you can put it through for a good press.

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8. To set the machine, I usually go for level 1 and run the pasta twice through the machine, dust more Semolato flour on top, then thin it out to level 3 or 4 for the optimal thickness.

Lazy bum setting

Lazy bum setting

9. Once you have the pasta in the thickness you like, you can start cutting.

ta-da!

ta-da!

10. Once the pasta is cut into the desire width, dust with more Semolato flour and hang the pasta out so they don’t stuck together. If you don’t have a pasta tree, you can also leave them together with lots of Semolato flour on the surface to avoid sticking together.

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11. To cook – bring to boil a large pot of water, add salt and make sure your pasta can swim in it comfortably. Once boiled, the best way is to taste test your pasta and not trust the clock. If you are going to have sauce served separately, DO NOT drizzle your pasta with olive oil or only the oil will cling on to the pasta and not the sauce. So ideally, you’d cook your pasta last when everything else is ready. Enjoy 🙂

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Thick tomato soup with beef and elbow pasta

Quick meal tonight for two. All we want was something warm and filling for a wintery night. So we had diced up tomatoes into chicken broth and boil until the soup thickens. Prepare some elbow pasta separately and divide them up evenly into shallow bowls. If you want to save time, blend the tomato and broth together until smooth. Bring it back to boil and add in thinly sliced beef with the remaining heat in the pot.

Serve while hot!

Thick tomato soup with beef and elbow pasta

Thick tomato soup with beef and elbow pasta

Tuna filled portobello mushrooms

Quick cooking tonight because there were just the two of us.

First we have portobello mushrooms filled with tuna fish and drizzle with truffle oil. For a difference, we also have a second portobello filled with mashed potato and bacon (guilty pleasure). Both of them were covered with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.

Cooking time was 10-15 minutes in the oven, grilled at 200 degrees Celsius or until cheese were melted and golden.

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Finished product, garnish with fresh mint leaves

Finished product, garnish with fresh mint leaves

 

Restaurant review: Chinoiserie (Mt Albert)

Tonight we were looking for a cheap eat! We wanted to hang out and not have to worry about cooking and cleaning, but not having to break our wallets for good food.

Although I’m not normally a fan of fusion cuisine, this one is less ‘fusion’ than I thought – which means the taste is actually quite authentic!

Supposedly serving Taiwanese food but very Vietnamese looking decor

Supposedly serving Taiwanese food but very Vietnamese looking decor

The menu is designed for small bites and sharing which got me worried – I WAS VERY HUNGRY! People who have been following my posts probably knows that I can eat a cow in any given day.

The menu

The menu

Well….there you go I ordered a Gua Bao which is a milky bun wrapping with fillings of your choice. I went for the pulled beef cheeks with kimchi (Korean pickled spicy cabbage), seasame seeds and spring onion. My friends both ordered the braised pork belly with Gong sauce and bok choi, coriander and peanuts.

Braised pork belly Gua Bao

Braised pork belly Gua Bao

Pulled beef cheek Gua Bao

Pulled beef cheek Gua Bao

They were both very soft and tender, with a wonderfully complimentary taste of sauce and seasoning. The bun is about the size of a palm so we also ordered some sides to have a more balanced diet.

Asian slaw

Asian slaw

Coconut crusted squid rings

Coconut crusted squid rings

Sticky chicken nibbles

Sticky chicken nibbles

And of course we washed the food down with some Asahi beers 😉 and finished with dessert – black sticky rice served with salted coconut cream. The dessert was substantial enough to replace a standard bowl of rice so ordering dessert is a must for those hungry people!

Black sticky rice with salted coconut cream

Black sticky rice with salted coconut cream

All in all the meal was satisfying. The portions were just right for you to order more plates to share and leaving room for dessert. I felt that I could eat the entire food choice again on the menu next time if I go back after exercising – yes, hungus much!

The meal cost $36 per person including one bottle of beer.

One word of advice for potential restaurant patrons – have a strong bladder or avoid the toilet! If you really need to go, you might need some clothing pegs to keep your sense of smell disabled temporarily.