Monday, September 28, 2015

Smooth Festival of Chocolate, The Rocks

How gorgeous is this view of Sydney on a warm, sunny day? No doubt, the weather was keen to join the festivities a few weekends ago where we celebrated our love of chocolate at the Smooth Festival of Chocolate at The Rocks. Sure it may have melted the chocolate but isn't the messiness what makes this indulgent sweet so damn good? More than 60k attending on its Facebook event with Adriano Zumbo and Anna Polyviou can't go wrong!

In the lead up to the event, I got the chance to sample a variety of sweets that will be available on the day. There was also lots of Tim Tams to devour between myself, the family and my Tim Tam obsessed colleagues. One of the sweets in the pack was the Tim Tam special edition Chocolate Banana flavour that will be available for a limited time only at Coles stores from next month. Minions will be thrilled!

Speaking of Tim Tams, I also got the chance to attend the sneak peek of the Tim Tam Temptation tent before it was open to the masses on Saturday morning. There was even a special appearance by Zumbo the man!

There was also the opportunity to watch your fave dessert chef working their magic in the demonstration kitchen. I only got the chance to check out Anna Polyviou and her superstar team making their infamous "Wag-Anna" - a twist on the classic old school Wagon Wheel.

Caramel Wag-Anna, Berried Wag-Anna, Ferrero-reveal N2 gelato ($20.00)

There was also The Chocolatier's Quarters where you can check out this delicious tree artwork made entirely of chocolate by Josophan's Fine Chocolate as well as a robot made entirely from Tim Tams and the chance to sample some more sweets from various producers.

Again, pictures tells more than words so enjoy drooling at all the chocolate in many shapes and forms! One of the highlights was the Zumbo teams competing with their dessert creation. While the Zumbo "cheeseburger" sold out super fast on both days, personally I think they're all winners.

Zumbo "cheeseburgers"

Zumbo "Kebabs"

Nutella ball cake by Zumbo

Black Star Pastry was also very popular with their dessert offerings including the "angel" and "devil" tacos, the chocolate torte and the famous watermelon cake with added white chocolate.

Cakes and sweet mini-tacos from Black Star Pastry

Making the crepes

Very cute cookies from Cookie Crazy


Cronuts from Queen's Pastri House

Oregano Scrolls from Scrollies by Oregano

Churros by Dos Churros

Various sweet delicacies from Choco Samta

Selected eclairs from Passion Tree

Tim Tam espresso martini at the VIP area

Because of the ridiculously insane hype of the overstuffed, extreme milkshakes of late, it was no surprise how long the queues were. Plus it was hot so a milkshake would have gone down a treat *cue a certain friend singing Milkshake out loud*. 

Those notorious extreme milkshakes from The Vogue Cafe

Well that's enough drooling for tonight. Even though it was so packed (unsurprisingly), it was still an enjoyable event where we got to see our fave patisseries creating some new desserts that wouldn't be available in store. Looking forward to more sugary action next year!

Disclaimer: The Random Foodie attended Smooth Festival of Chocolate, courtesy of Nova Entertainment. 

Smooth Festival of Chocolate

Monday, September 7, 2015

Buffalo Dining Club, Darlinghurst

If I can name my favourite Italian restaurants in Sydney, Buffalo Dining Club is guaranteed to be in the top 5. Maybe even top 3. It has been opened for a few years and it's still going strong with lots of people waiting for a table on a Wednesday evening. Even though there were little changes to their simplistic menu over the years, it has still got me coming back again and again to this day.

Scamorza with pumpkin croquettes and cherry tomatoes ($20 including 2 sides)

With the name of the restaurant, it was no surprise that cheese was the main feature of the menu. You can try one of their fresh cheese plates with a choice of two sides. You can choose between buffalo mozzarella, burrata, scamorza (wood smoked cows milk cheese) and caprino (organic goats cheese). The scamorza that I ended up trying was delectable, smoked and stretched. The pumpkin croquettes were soft with a crisp, crumbled coating while the cherry tomatoes was refreshing on the palate. Along with three slices of bread, these ingredients were remarkably tasty together. 

San Daniele Prosciutto ($7 for 30g, $10 for 60g, $15 for 90g)

Similar to their sister restaurant, Chester White Cured Diner, Buffalo Dining Club boasts a small but solid range of cured meats on their menu. The San Daniele prosciutto was sliced so thinly to the point that it melts in your mouth. 

Negroamaro - Tornicola 2013, Salento Puglia Italy ($13/glass, $52/bottle)

Along with the cheese plate, the waiter kindly recommended a glass of Negroamaro from the Puglia region in Italy. Its deep, bitter and bold tones complemented well with the smoked flavour from the Scamorza cheese.

Cacio e Pepe ($20)

My favourite dish at Buffalo Dining Club has always been the classic Cacio e Pepe (cheese and pepper), which is spaghetti served in a pecorino cheese wheel. You get to check out the waiter carrying that giant wheel of cheese containing the pasta and stirring everything before your eyes. Like a theatrical performance. Everything about this dish was just too good to finish. Served with crumbly chunks of pecorino cheese mixed with parsley, salt, pepper and olive oil, the pasta was filling enough on its own that will keep your tummy satisfied for hours. It's impossible to resist that temptation of trying this dish from the look of that epic cheese wheel alone!

This has been one of those restaurants that has got me wanting more after the visit. All of their dishes are made to share however it is a small venue so a large group might be harder to fit. Looking forward to making more visits to try more of the cheeses, pastas and cured meats to satisfy my constant cravings. 

Buffalo Dining Club
116 Surrey Street, Darlinghurst NSW
(02) 9332 4052
Wed-Sat: 12:00pm - 11:00pm
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Monday, August 24, 2015

Luyu and Yum Yum, Newtown

When you think of yum cha joints, Newtown wouldn't be the first suburb to come into mind. Interestingly, we somehow get the massive yum cha cravings whenever we are in the Inner West so it was good to hear that Luyu and Yum Yum is now opened in the vicinity. 

Dipping sauces: soy sauce, chilli oil, vinegar

Compared to the usual yum cha joints; the venue is fancier, prices were more expensive and the service was incredibly friendly and welcoming. Plus, the dumplings were like a work of art on your plate. 

Manga Dumpling *Hedgehog* - 3pc ($12.80)

While it was flour dough baked, the texture was similar to generic pan fried dumplings. Consisting of king oyster mushroom, Chinese mushroom, carrot and fungi, these vegetarian hedgehog dumplings were crispy, moreish rather adorable. CC thought they were a tad oily and too crunchy for her liking, but I thought the crisp texture was the best part. 

Snow White rabbit dumplings - 3pc ($12.80)

Another cute batch of dumplings shaped like an animal with an even more adorable name to boot. This contains prawn, asparagus, bamboo shoot and creamy soup in a Chrysanthemum infused potato starch dough.  

Caviar Dumplings - 4pc ($13.80)

We were feeling kinda fancy with these caviar dumplings. Filled with prawn, carrot, coriander and celery in a steamed rice dough pastry, these dumplings were plump, juicy and shaped like a steamed version of the traditional fried moneybags. 

Flying Seafood Dumpling - 4pc ($13.80)

These fish-shaped dumplings were filled with scallop, fish-ball, prawn, asparagus and flying fish roe in a steamed rice dough pastry. Like the other dumplings at Luyu and Yum Yum, they have a nice chewy texture that wasn't too thick or too thin. I've got a soft spot for scallop dumplings so it was no surprise that I wanted more of this.  

Mr Luyu "Starburst" Dumpling - 4pc ($11.80)

These are my fave dumplings of the lot. Not only did I love the xiao-long-bao shape, you can't help but notice its colourful fruit-infused flour dough, thin dumpling skin. While most xiao long bao contains pork, these dumplings consist of chicken in Mr Luyu homemade hot broth.

Kiss Me Dumplings - 4pc ($10.80)

Like the Starburst dumplings, these xiao long bao also consist of chicken instead of pork in addition to ginger and shallot in a hot broth. The texture is very thin and the broth is hot to handle when you try to devour these cheeky-named morsels. 

Before you start thinking that Luyu and Yum Yum is just dumplings, there are loads of non-dumplings dishes to enjoy such as fried rice, steamed fish, roasted duck and 7 flovaoured tofu. CC goes crazy for eggplant so we went with that option. These were crispy on the outside and piping hot on the inside. It was also rather sticky from the chrysanthemum honey plus soy, sesame and dried onion coated onto the fried batter. 

If you love your dumplings with a bit more of art and colour, you will be glad to hear that Luyu and Yum Yum is a lovely addition to the Newtown food scene. It's different from your usual cafes, Thai restaurants, cheap takeaways and dessert joints so it was no surprise that we often had to wait for a table in all of our visits so far (thankfully not very long). While the prices are a bit too expensive for me to return on a regular basis, the flavour, appearance, texture and ingredient combination would be enough for me to make a further visit or two to try more of their dumpling selection or even another serving of the above. And the cocktails look damn fine too. 

Luyu and Yum Yum
Level 1, 196 King Street, Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9519 9888
Sun, Tues-Wed: 12:00pm - 3:00pm, 5:30pm - 10:15pm
Thurs-Sat: 12:00pm - 3:00pm, 5:30pm - 11:00pm
Mon: Closed
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