Friday, 26 September 2008

Counting down to Japan!!!

Last year, Lily and myself made a list of 5 places to visit, be it in Australia or overseas. We compared it and none of our top three choices matched. "What a surprise!" Japan is her first choice but mine is Scandinavia. We were tossing around which one should we go for first and the other for our next trip.

After much reading, rah rah rah, it makes more financial sense to go Japan now and leave Scandinavia for our next trip (hopefully not too far away). When we decided Japan being our first trip together, Lily was smiling from ear to ear, I knew there and then we made the right choice.

It is less than 3 weeks before we take our night flight to the "Land of the Rising Sun". I would be lying if I tell you that I am not looking forward to our Japan trip. It will be interesting, going to a foreign land, with limited english speaking background, no tour guide to show us some ropes and we get to indulge ourselves with the freshest sashimis there is, straight from the market.

We are only relying on our japanese translation book (which we have not gotten one - excellent move!) to get around. I guess that's our idea of holiday, have bit of fun and adventure at the same time.

I was suggesting to Lily the other day that we probably need to bring a light luggage to Japan. Knowing her too well, she will not be able to resist getting japanese snacks and anything that looks cute. The sniffer dogs in Melbourne airport will sniff us out. :D

Airflight sorted, hotels sorted, travel visas sorted, Japan rail passes sorted, itinerary looking good, looks like we got most boxes ticked.

We are getting there!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

2nd Year Anniversary

We celebrated our second year anniversary, i.e. 09.09.08 at Vue de Monde (VdM). It's a modern french fine dining restaurant located right in the heart of Melbourne CBD. We made the booking 2.5 months ago and the day finally came. We got home early, refreshed ourselves after a long day at work and reached VdM in time to our booking, 7pm.

We loved the way we were welcomed at the door. The staffs were impeccably dressed. They looked like they had all just stepped off the catwalk in Milan in the beautiful suits. They were groomed to perfection with wonderful manners to match. They took Lily's jacket and we were elegantly seated.

It was our first time to a fine dining French restaurant. VdM by the way means view of the world and we certainly going to get that. I had wanted to tryout the food here for ages, just waiting for the right occasion, to make it even more special. We didnt have a clue what food we would be eating as the chef, Shannon Bennett, decides the menu on the day. Once we were seated at our table, we were asked if anyone of us has food allergies and our preferences. Our table was strategically located right in front of the kitchen so it feels as though you are at the theatre. The waiter then made a few suggestions, to see how adventurous we were. We looked at each other and thought that, "Oh well... what the heck! It's not like we get to eat here on a weekly basis. We might as well give the chef all the freedom to surprise us". We chose a 10 course meal , i.e. Gourmand Menu. Yes, we were being very gung-ho! The waiter then walked away and had a chat with the chef.

We only find out what we were going to eat once it gets to our table and we were pleasently surprised at the end of each dish.

We were served with Amuse Brouche. This is a pea and jamon soup that is served in a champagne glass. Across the top sat the lettuce leaf raft that had jamon tartare served with confit quail york in the middle.

Our first course came out and it was Ormeau servi dans uni Coquille de Taco de Mais. This is a seared abalone set into a sweet corn taco shell with an avocado puree top with deep fried shredded pork.

Our second course was Gnocchi Aux Truffles. The gnocchi was liquid cap gnocchi with mushrooms, zucchini flower, tarragon emulsion and shaved summer truffles. The mushrooms were shimeji mushrooms which we had never eaten before but were extremely delicious. It's is an acquired taste. They were like small slate grey pillows filled with liquid!

Our third course was Bouillabaisse en Cinq Minutes Et Tartare D'ecrevisse. This is a 5 minute bouillabaisse with tartare of crayfish, buffalo milk skin, finished with aromatic herbs and a touch of theatre. :)

Our fourth course was Pain Accompagne de Foie Gras. This is a French toast, green apple purée and foie gras flavoured with eight spice and jamon Serrano Gran Reserva. The water asked us to use hand to try out this dish and how it just melts in our mouth. He was so right!

Next came the Truite Pochee. This is a coral trout poached at 55 degrees for substantial amount of time, with baby beetroot, celeriac bound with crab meat, celery leaves and grapefruit dressing. It was very moist, soft and not overcooked. Very very nice!

After our fifth course, we were served Jus Au Verjus. Its a very refreshing cranberry drink, supposedly good for our digestion. It was icy cold as well. After 10 minutes, our course start to roll out again. This time it was Poulet Aux Champignons. This is a roasted chook breast with handmade brussel sprouts stuffed with mince meat and mushroom reduction.

Next came Mille Feuille de Chevreuil. This is a venison loin, poached with a mille feuille of braised leg meat and saffron and pumpkin mousseline.

Our seventh course, begining of desserts started with Fromage. This is a goats curd served with sugared rose petal, rose jelly topped with goats curd ice cream. The different flavour complements each other really well. Love this course!

Next came Salade de Fruit. This is not part of our 10 course meal. It is one of the specialty of VdM that every diners get to try. This looks like a vietnamese's tri colour drink! Its cranberry, corn and strawberry puree on top of each other topped with kiwi fruit coated with mint. Very interesting!

Our second last course was Pear Coulant. This is a roasted caramel filled with cream and nuts, with pear puree and spices to balance the taste. We had to give it a good hit with our spoon to break open the caramel.

Lastly, it was Souffle A La Pistache. This is a pistachio souffle with triple sec custard. By now, we were struggling to finish this dish. We were just too full but nonetheless gave our best shot.

We asked the waiter and we were told, thats it. All our courses were out and we were so relieve. We were very sure there wasn't any room left. All were taken up by desserts. We were so wrong! We were then served with Infusions et Petits-5. This is a mini treats of different types of desserts. It took us 5 minutes to work out how to finish it. Sat there for a good 15 minutes before indulging ourselves with desserts again! :D

At the end of the night, we were escorted to the door by our waiter and the impeccable dressed staff helped Lily with her jacket. Before we step out, we were handed more chocolates to take home, Chocolats Pour Savourer A La Maison.

We were really full, statisfied and we have to say in all honestly that we have never experienced a restaurant like this in Australia. It is by far the best and truly an experience worth cherishing!