kaiseki :: sasaki, sydney

Ma. The concept of Japanese minimalism. Shibui. The aesthetic of simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty.

Everything about Sasaki is delicate, minimalist, has beauty and purpose, and of course, the finest ingredients are precisely and proudly cooked, plated and presented.

We had the “omakase” menu, which translates to ‘leave it up to you’, the chef. A degustation of sorts.

Plump pretty oysters (Oyster, Akazu & Mandarin), silky subtle scallops(Scallops, Celeriac & Kombu), a joyously wobbly savoury custard with poached prawns (Egg & Prawn), delicate slices of fish with dipping sauce & condiments (Bonito, Apple & Ponzu), crunchy tempura asparagus with farm fresh corn purée (Asparagus, Corn & Matcha), pinkest of fish with pops of row and mushroom rice (Ocean trout, egg Yolk & Ikura), rare duck – not my thing – (Duck, soy, leek) with soup (egg in bonito broth) and choice of desserts (choux pastry and mango sorbet).

It’s a true, Tokyo-esque kaiseki style restaurant in a hidden inner Sydney city laneway.

Kanpeki. 充実. Perfection.

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mornings

I recently heard an interview with a chef on a random radio station (can’t remember where or with who!) but I loved the questions enough to write them down when I had a chance.

Here’s my answers to these fun quiz questions!

What time do you get up?

  • weekday exercising it’s 6.15am, otherwise 7am for work and on the weekend I sleep in as long as possible!

Coffee or tea?

  • coffee coffee coffee coffee. there is a time for tea but in general I prefer the black gold

coffee from my local Fix in Crows Nest
coffee from my local Fix in Crows Nest
How do you have your toast?

  • when Im eating grains, I have sourdough with avocado and squeeze of lemon with salt & pepper. delish!

avocado on sourdough
avocado on sourdough (pic via cupofjo.com)
Breakfast, Brunch or Lunch?

  • Lunch. I’m not particularly a fan of breakfast food; it’s just not that exciting.

Favourite restaurant in Sydney?

  • Gowings Bar and Grill

Gowings
Gowings (pic via Gowings website)

Dine @ Gowings
Dine @ Gowings (pic via Gowings website)

our lovely waiter pouring my fave beverage!
our lovely waiter pouring my fave beverage!
What’s the only thing that’s always in your fridge?

  • butter and wine! can’t really make a meal out of that combination but it’s what’s always present in my fridge!

***

Now, what about you?

Happy Thursday!

:: adventure :: New Zealand part 2 :: Queenstown

As I’m inching towards the edge of the 154ft precipice, my ankles tightly bound, my mind is blank with fear & excitement. I no longer remember my mantra “It’s better to look back on life and say: “I can’t believe I did that”, than to look back and say: “I wish I did that.”  I focus on the quick hammering of the heart in my chest, the wind whipping around my face and the stranger’s hand gripping my arm.

I am bungy jumping.

I stick to the pact my husband & I make; “three, two, one” then jump! I see him standing far below, already having taken the soaring plunge himself and waiting for me to join him. I don’t realise it but I scream during the three second free-fall before my scream turns to joyous whoops. The multiple bounce-backs are an amazing, indescribable feeling. I am chained to a life-saving rope, yet I’m free. Then it’s over and I am pulled into the landing boat and taken ashore to climb the 150+ stairs, my legs like jelly from the adrenaline.


 I’m bungy jumping!!! @ AJ Hackett, Queenstown

  Me from the viewing monitors   The view from the Observation Deck; Jay jumping

                                                          Jay jumping!

*****

Queenstown is a place of staggering beauty. Officially the adventure capital of the South Island it has so much to offer.

For 5 days and 4 nights we explore the delights of Queenstown. Apart from bungy jumping we celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary with a ride up the Skyline mountain gondola, a wander & wine tasting at Gibbston Valley Winery and soak in the most luxurious bathing experience at Onsen Hot Pools.

We eat at some amazing restaurants. We revisit Fergburger twice to ensure our fill of NZ’s best burger (it’s pretty damn good!). We eat tender and gamey venison, fresh crayfish, oversized oysters and creamy local cheese.



Fergburger (#drool)

We laugh and scream our lungs raw on the Shotover Jet and walk around the immense Queenstown foreshore.

 Freezing our butts off on the Shotover Jet

********

Our hotel is bliss; part of the Accor Group of hotels, Hotel St Moritiz M Gallery is 5 star luxury.

    

Our room is gorgeous with an incredible view out over Lake Wakatipu. I wrote a review on TripAdvisor which you can find here.

*******


 Onsen Hot Pools   Lunch & tastings at Gibbston Valley Winery

 Steak & seafood at Captain’s Restaurant
 Dinner in The Library at our Hotel St Moritiz 

  More pics from Hotel St Moritiz
 Birdseye view over Queenstown from The Skyline.

*****

A rainy day leads us 2 hours south of the township to the very end of Lake Wakatipu, through Arrowtown, to the remote picturesque shores of Glenorchy and Kinloch.

  Roads like this are meant to be travelled.

 Cabin lakeside

The wildness of this region is consuming; we barely see another soul the further we travel out of Queenstown. The beauty of the mountains and the vastness of the lake merge into one beautiful foggy landscape as the rain settles in and the clouds loom low so even the tops of the mountains can’t be seen.

The townships of Glenorchy and Kinloch are merely a suggestion to gather people close by. Farms are sprawling and teaming with flocks of woolly sheep, lambs fresh from the newness of Spring, herds of blackJersey  cows and studs of horses wander the lush countryside and rocky shoreline.

   
 I manoeuvred myself around a large cow to take this picture! I also managed not to step in any cow paddies!

*****

The sheer beauty and heart pounding adrenaline inspired by Queenstown stays with you long after you leave her stunning shores.

[Read Part 1]

(Note I’ve tagged most of my photos with my Instagram handle @thisismelly…all photos my own)

memorable meals

Food glorious food.

How I love to eat!

And I’ve eaten some delicious fare of late, which I thought I’d share with you.

some have been delectably healthy…

51120138419 green smoothie made with coconut water, kale, celery, apple, cucumber & mint

5142013143845 make the best of this seasons ripe creamy avocado; with lettuce, tomato & salmon

6172013214128 I’ve been experimenting with the paleo recipes.
I created paleo chicken nuggets; chicken mince, coriander, chilli, shredded coconut & then rolled in coconut flour & air fried in my Philips AirFryer!

617201321412 snacking on roasted almonds with Japanese chilli salt & paprika and coconut oil

And then the not so healthy…

6122013201432 celebrating my husband’s success (uni post-grad) with Bollinger champagne and homemade coleslaw & American-style pork ribs!

530201315265 a socialicious dinner party with friends!

614201303054 a French bistro style dinner with my girlfriends (I ate the meal on the top right; duck & celeriac mash) at Felix at The Ivy

But it’s not all about me….Harley bear had a birthday! He turned 3 years old and he had a birthday party with a few doggy friends at the dog cafe. He had a delicious lunch of mince, rice & veggies and a dog friendly birthday cake!!!

5152013121440

What memorable meals have you eaten of late???

felix bistro | restaurant review

In 2007 in Trocadéro, the 16th arrondissement in Paris, I ate one of the best meals in my life.

Jay & I had discovered this little bistro after hours of walking and sight-seeing. To sit at this quaint little restaurant with latticed seats facing the street, aperitif in hand, perusing the menu and using our broken French to order the salade de homard followed by assiette de fromages while the Tour Eiffel sparkles in the distance was just the most wonderful end to the day.

When entering Felix Bistro, one of the several restaurants at Sydney’s premier The Ivy precinct I am transported back to the bistros of Paris. The decor, the wait-staff attire and of course the menu is distinctly Parisian. The majority of the wine list is from various regions in France and many of the waiters themselves are French. Head chef Nathan Johnson & the Merivale crew have done a wonderful job in bringing authenticity to this venue.

 [via]

[via]

[via]

My dining companions consist of two of my most favourite people; mon mari Monsieur Jay and mon meilleur ami Mademoiselle Grace.

Having started the evening with an aperitif at The Ivy Bar (for the most amazing ‘Eden Martini’ made with Plymouth Gin, Licor 43 vanilla liqueur, fresh watermelon, lemon juice and rose syrup), we order a bottle of 2009 Château Riotor Côtes de Provence – it’s a blush pink rosé and it’s subtle, not too sweet but delicious.

Entrée

Gracie orders the Citrus cured kingfish, watermelon, avocado and lime marinated cucumber which arrives looking very creative and sophisticated. She has to put her fork down in between each mouthful to ensure she’s properly experiencing and prolonging the joy!

Jay orders the Smoked chicken, frisée, onion compote and crispy fried poached egg. The onion compote layers the base of the dish and is smooth, sweet & slightly tangy. The chicken is warm & smoky and the egg crispy from being deep fried. He is in heaven.

I revisit the 80’s with my Prawn cocktail which is simple and delicious with plump prawns, sweet liquid bursts of salmon-roe, minimal creamy dressing and a sweet crunch of diced apple amoungst the finely sliced iceberg lettuce.

Mains

Gracie orders the Seared tuna niçoise salad and Fries. It’s a beautifully presented and traditional take on the niçoise and the fries are thin, crispy slivers of potato with a light sprinkling of salt.

Jay orders the “Steak frites” Rangers Valley sirloin and herb butter which is a pre-cut steak cooked perfectly medium-rare and is served with the heavenly crispy fries, herb butter and a little pot of red wine reduction sauce. 

I order Pan roasted barramundi, French style peas with bacon and cos lettuce which is a beautiful fillet of fresh barra on a bed of delicate peas and little salty morsels of bacon hock in a creamy consommé decorated with snowpea tendrils. 

We share a side of Spinach and rocket salad, Spanish onion, feta, croutons.

Dessert

It’s so hard to choose just one dessert from their menu, so we all (begrudgingly) agree to share a little of each of our dessert!

Grace orders the Peanut parfait, dark chocolate mousse and salted macadamia caramel which is delicious beyond words. The vanilla ice-cream-like parfait with smatterings of peanuts, the deeply rich & creamy chocolate mousse and the finger of crispy salted macadamia brittle with drizzles of caramel toffee. 

Jay orders the Selection of profiteroles with vanilla bean icecream, creme anglaise and pistachio cream. They are light and fluffy and drizzled in a rich chocolate sauce.

I order the Passionfruit Souffle with coconut sorbet and pureed pineapple. The souffle is airy and beautifully risen and only slightly tangy but it’s the coconut sorbet and pineapple that is exceptional; the coconut sorbet tastes of real coconut not an imitation and the pineapple is juicy and sticky sweet. 

Menu: classic French cooking with flair
Wine list: extensive mostly French with a small selection Australian wines by the glass, carafe and bottle

Service: attentive but not intrusive. Some waiters could scrub up on their knowledge of the menu though.
Atmosphere: bustling, lively, good background jazz music, beautiful decor
Price: $$$ mid-range expensive

Felix Bar & Bistro | Ash St, The Ivy Precinct, Sydney (enter from George St entrance) | website [here]