Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Le Grand Cafe - A touch of Paris in Sydney (Nov 09)

Want to experience the French culture, but can't afford the plane ticket  to Paris? Well.. lunch at the Le Grand Cafe on Clarence Street near Town Hall (in Sydney) could be the answer for you.

Artwork in Le Grand Cafe
Finding a decent, relatively relaxing and cheap(ish) lunch in the Sydney CBD (near Town Hall) on a Saturday is difficult. There are a prolific number of food courts in the CBD area, but they are usually filled with lots of non-inspiring sandwich bars and greasy stuff.  However on this Saturday, Mr FBC and I find ourselves at Le Grand Cafe, a French cafe, on Clarence Street. It's opposite Becasse and Plan B (which has been blogged a lot by other foodbloggers) and is owned and run by the same people. The Cafe is located on the ground floor of the Alliance Francaise building which was designed by the late Harry Seidler. 

Artisanal Charcuterie Plate ($12)
The Cafe is really a nice and quiet place to hang out for a leisurely Saturday lunch. It wasn't particularly busy when Mr FBC and I were there on a Saturday and the service is relatively quick. To add to the French ambience and authenticity of the place, the waitstaff are all French speaking. I assume there are even kids French classes occuring on Saturday as there is a table of kids with their teacher having their morning break in the Cafe area. It's cute watching a bunch of 6/7 year olds speaking French (albeit broken French for some!) and drinking hot chocolate - how very French (I assume?!).
We ordered two dishes, the Artisanal Charcuterie Plate and the Beof Bourguignon (the Plat du Jour).  The Charcuterie Plate was a substantial meat-fest with lovely flavoursome salamis and proscuitto, accompanied by slices on soft white bread drizzled with olive oil.

Plate Du Jour - Beef Bourguignon ($12)
The Beef Bourguignon was absolutely delicious. There was an abundance of meat, which was very tender and the sauce had a rich red wine flavour.  This dish was also accompanied by white soft bread which Mr FBC and I used to wipe up the last remnants of the lovely sauce. The prices for both dishes were very affordable - especially considering the quality of the food.  To accompany our lunch, we had a glass of rose ($7) and some perrier ($3).

Despite being full from lunch, neither Mr FBC or I could say no to dessert. To compromise, we decided to share a dessert and opted for a pot of Honeycomb and chocolate mousse. It was a small dessert but it was more than enough to satisfy our sweet tooths with its rich decadent chocolate flavour and crunchy honeycomb. Yummo!

Petit Pot au Chocolate - Honeycomb Mousse and Caramel ($8)
I don't think there are many cafes in the Sydney CBD area where you can enjoy a quiet lunch, with good food and wine, and still be well priced. Tres Bien - we will be back!

Rustic French Cuisine in the Heart of Sydney
Alliance Francaise
257 Clarence St, Sydney
Telephone: 02 9264 7164
Opening Times
Weekdays 9am-3pm, Sat 8:30am-2pm

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Merry Eating! Merry Xmas!

Merry Xmas to you all :)
Don't you just love Xmas time?  To Mr FBC and I, Xmas is basically a three day binge eating marathon (we're not particularly religious so it's about two things for us - Family and FOOD!). First there's Xmas Eve dinner with my family followed by an Xmas Day breakfast. Xmas day is spent with Mr FBC's family and then Boxing day comprises a day of nibbling/snacking on leftovers.

Here are some highlights from my family's Xmas Eve dinner. It was a bit of a 'fusion' xmas dinner - a bit of ye olde English, some Chinese and a touch of Spanish (!).  

'Fusion' Xmas Eve Dinner

A view of the other end of the table
For dinner, we had the traditional turkey and roast vegetables, steamed broccolini and beans (sprinkled with some butter & garlic breadcrumbs), a mixture of salads (including pumpkin & cous cous, market salad and marinated vegetable), a huge seafood paella (made by Mr FBC), and Chinese style Lobster with ginger, shallots & noodles.

I had already decided back in November that I wanted my family to experience Adriano Zumbo's Macarons for Xmas. I think I was inspired by Adriano Zumbo's Macaron Day (as blogged by numerous people in the foodie blogosphere including: Grab Your Fork, Chocolatesuze & A Table For Two). So, on the morning of Xmas Eve I made the trek to Balmain to get my hands on 40 macarons. They were a bit pricey at $2 a pop - but well.. it's Xmas!

A colourful array of macarons for Dessert
I made sure I got a mixture of all the macaron flavours available at the Adriano Zumbo Patisserie shop. I'm not 100% sure of all the flavours but I think it included: Banana and Cherry, Black Sesame; Sticky Rice and Jasmine;Blood Orange; Fig and something? (p.s I wrote them down.. but I've lost the list - will need to update this blog if I find that piece of paper).

All the flavours were interesting... but I think I liked the Banana and Cherry flavour the most with Sticky Rice coming a close second. Unfortunately, my family weren't as excited by the macarons as Mr FBC and I. Perhaps because they hadn't really heard of Adriano Zumbo (of Masterchef Croquembouche fame!). I think my little macarons were gazumped by my sister's pavlovas. Ah well. 

The Dessert Spread (including mini pavlovas, fruit platters and cute macarons on a tier)
So that was Xmas for another year. Hoping you are all having a wonderful and well earned Xmas break :)

Adriano Zumbo Patisserie
296 Darling St
Balmain NSW 2041
(02) 9810 7318

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Boon Chocolates, Darlinghurst

Where do you rest for a quick break from urban hiking around Darlinghurst? The answer for Mr FBC and I this fine sunny Saturday afternoon was Boon Chocolates, located on Victoria Road in Darlinghurst. Ok.. so the key attraction to the place is the chocolates. However, we were just looking for a quick cup of coffee and tea.

Upstairs Cafe area of Boon Chocolates

Latte with Chocolate Mousse and Praline $7.00
We ordered tea and coffee... but were pleasantly suprised that they both came with a chocolate mousse and praline. The mousse was light and extremely chocolately. At a perfect portion size, it really hit the spot. The little praline chocolate was cute and a nice finish to the tea/coffee. It's definitely the most extravagant coffee and tea that we have ever ordered. I understand that Boon Chocolates also does an afternoon tea for $40. Mr FBC and I would be tempted to try that next time we're here.

Tea with Chocolate Mousse and Praline $8.50

Close up of the Chocolate Mousse
After finishing our tea and coffee, we went back downstairs to the shopfront area where we gawked at all the chocolate. They are all so delicate looking. We were having friends over the following evening so we bought a dozen mixed chocolates. The full description of the Boon Chocolate collection can be found on their website.

Boon Chocolate Display

More Chocolate Displays
A highlight of the chocolate display is definitely the handmade chocolate handbag. So delicate and intricate.

Chocolate Handbag
There seems to be an array of chocolate shops appearing all over Sydney. However, I think Boon Chocolates are different and unique.

Boon Shopfront
Boon - The Chocolate Experience
251 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst 
ph 02-9356 8876
Opening Hours

Sunday - Wednesday 12 noon - 7:00pm

Thursday - Saturday  12 noon - 10:30pm
Monday  Closed