Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Agenda and Madame Brussels's Oyster and Bubbles Soiree - Review

Here is the email from my co-blogger Lin who attended the Oyster's and Bubbles soiree. 

Hi Jac

I think you have jumped the gun too soon based on my comment on FB. Should have waited for me to email you. Sorry for not sending this email sooner but I have been caught up all weekend with activities since I got back on Friday, am extremely exhausted and work today has been crazy.

Was this meant to be a review or not? As I understood from another food blogger that I met at the venue – if you give a preview on your blog/website Agenda will give you a free ticket. They didn’t want you to cover the event. As a freebie, it was not a bad party and I couldn’t care less if there weren’t enough oysters or cheeses to eat. The venue was great. I got to sample some great oysters, cheeses and macaroons, washed down with a few bubblies. Thanks for a good night out and I really appreciate the invite. As a paying customer which is in Grant’s case, it didn’t live up to how it was written and advertised. In hindsight, I am glad that two of my friends that I have invited to go and was going to buy tickets for pulled out because oysters weren’t their thing.

See that’s the point. An Oyster and Bubbles Soiree for $65 per head. I would pay to go even if I have not been given a free ticket because Grant and I absolutely love love love oysters. It’s not the most attractive morsel of the sea, but like the saying “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”. Growing up, oysters to me were the kind of dishes restaurants served up as an omelette, or smothered it with Worcestershire sauce and bacon or a creamy mornay sauce. I never truly appreciate the real taste of a fresh oyster until my late thirties (!) when an Italian friend of mine showed me how. Take a fresh oyster, squeeze some lemon juice over it, sprinkle a few drops of tabasco sauce on it and slurp the entire content down in one go. Wow wee, I was hooked!

Heck, we have even drove 3000km from Melbourne to Cowell, South Australia once just for the heck of clocking up some mileage for our car to taste freshly shucked oysters by the pier. We have driven along the east coast of Australia and the coast along South Australia, our car packed with a shucking knife, lemons and a bottle of tabasco in search of oyster farms.

Nice, is this a prop for the Final Destination 6 movie? I see live cables and oysters on ice at close proximity!

Oysters in a bucket, that's real classy!!

Back to the soiree. Madame Brussels is hidden away from the busy Bourke Street, up on the 3rd floor of the terrace. The inside parlour mimics an old English garden which leads out to a wonderful outdoor balcony overlooking Bourke Street. The side stairs take you up to small balcony where the function was held. It was quite crowded when arrived on the dot. A small band was playing at the corner, and as we jostled our way through the crowd, I noticed three separate oyster stations on small tables, one against the wall with oysters laid out on a lovely three tier stand and the other two on the opposite side against the railings with oysters laid out in buckets. First impression, oysters on ice…….yuk!

At the far end was the drinks station, we helped ourselves to PIMMS (not Pimps lol!). Very refreshing!

It was not easy to get to the oysters when people are just standing there hoovering oyster after oyster. I could understand why they did that. There were no plates, only serviettes and a bowl of lemon wedges on the side. How can you be considerate to others? The easiest thing was to stand there, pick up the oyster, squeeze the lemon and as there were no toothpicks, we had to use our fingers (yuk!!) to loosen the suction of the oyster from its shell so that it will slide into our mouth easily. One is not enough, plus you can’t throw away the lemon after one squeeze, so we stood there, be oblivious to others and just helped ourselves to a few oysters at a time.

So what oysters were we eating? Three stations meant three different types? I noticed the size difference and there were a clear taste distinction in all three. But which is which? I ask those who were standing around, they shrugged their shoulders. Finally met Miss Pearl and she said the smaller ones were Sydney Rock oysters, the others are from Tassie. But surely I tasted three different types of oysters?? I would really love to know. Didn’t like Sydney Rock (come to think again – I am a Melbournian) but love one of the big ones, probably Tassie?

I didn’t get to eat many oysters, certainly didn’t get to a dozen which was disappointing. It got crowded and it got harder to get to the oyster station. I saw the same people rooted at the station for most of the night so these people would have got their money’s worth! By about 9 o’clock, the oysters were gone.

The cheese platters came out soon after. I only saw 3 platters. They were almost demolished by the time I got there. Again no plates, again let’s hover over the table……oh hhello, how about giving other people a chance? I managed to squeeze in and got us a tasting of one type of cheese, then did it twice again before all cheeses were finished. I got to taste 3 miserly bits. They were nice cheeses but it left me wanting more. Note to the host: It’s not nice to tease your guests. So what types of cheeses were there? Let’s see, one tasted like camembert or was it brie? I always get confused with these two. The other was a bit stinky and it has an orange rind, and the last one tasted like cheddar………did I get this right? Did I win a prize for guessing? Well, we really like the one with the orange rind – could the sponsor please tell me what it is? Pretty please? I would even pay you for it.

Other bits that happened in the night….Dal Zotto champagne was indeed free flowing until after 10pm. Loved it. I didn’t taste the beer as I don’t drink beer. Madam Brussels staff were lovely, all dressed in old English tennis gear, very Ralph Lauren. Everyone got a free ticket or two for the raffle. Nice touch with some really nice prizes. There were some finger food being passed around, I only tasted two. The chicken and chives mini flower sandwiches were very lovely and the “sardines??” on a thin toast (similar to what we had at Movida) were nice but the toast was a bit soft. I saw some crepes coming our way but they didn’t make it as it was all gone midway through the crowd. I met another food blogger – “Because I can’t cook”, Angel Khong and we had a great time. As the evening draws to an end, Miss Pearls passed on a small parting gift from Shocolate to Angel and I but to Grant, she said “sorry you have to share with the girls”……..I was a bit flabbergasted. What the? I have to share my only two macaroons with someone else? Are you serious? I thought it was very poor of Miss Pearls to embarrass a guest like that. Grant is a paying guest after all! Later I asked one of the staff to get one for Grant but he came back apologetically and said that the macaroons were all gone. That, left a bit of a sour note to the evening.

I did get to meet Blake at the end. He knew of the problems I described above and said that he could have done better in preparing the event and unfortunately some third party let him down. Well, as a guest that didn’t have to pay, I’d forgive him, it was a great party and he tried. But as a paying customer, I’m sorry but it’s not worth the money paid for.


*** Blake's email response has been removed from this post at his request. I posted it up initially to show that there are two sides of the story. Needless to say, I have now severed ties with Agenda and removed their widget from my website as I no longer have confidence in endorsing them ***

Madame Brussels on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Chocolate Nutty Friands

So, have you ever been called a nutty friend? You have? Oh do join the club and pull up a chair. This week has been so maddening for me. Don't ask me why but really, sometimes I just feel like extending my hand to bitchslap some people to Kingdom come. Of course in this day and age of political correctness, you can't do that, so it's baking time for me. This is my de-stress Version 1.0.


6 egg whites
185g butter, melted
I cup (125g) almond meal
1.5 cups (240g) icing sugar, not icing mixture
1/2 cup (75g) plain flour
100g dark eating chocolate, chopped coarsely
1/4 cup (35g) coarsely chopped nuts, I used peanuts.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius and grease 12 rectangular or oval friands pans, I used cupcake cases.
Place egg whites in medium bowl and beat with fork. Stir in butter and almond meal and sifted icing sugar and flour. Stir in chopped chocolates.
Spoon mixture into pan holes or cupcake cases and sprinkle with nuts
Baked for 20 minutes and stand friands in pan for 5 minutes, placed in wire rack to cool.

The photos on the blog today are shot with iphone 4S and watermark via Lightroom 3.4 for copyright. It has not been photoshopped. This post was a test run of the new iphone camera. Extremely pleased with it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Oyster and Bubbles Soiree

Hi all, yours truly, moi, has been invited to attend the Oysters and Bubbles Soiree. Woot woot!!

When I received the email, my first thought was OMG!!! I can't go due to prior engagement...#facepalm. After kicking myself several times, as I am not one to say no to freeflowing bubblies, argh! And sending emails backs and forth with the sponsor, I decided to send in Lin, my foreign correspondent. She is my co-blogger, you might remember her from my Laduree and Charmonix post?

So anyway, back to this exciting event....

"On Friday October 14th from 7pm, Madame Brussels welcomes you to their Parlour Room for one fantastic night out. With a cocktail on arrival, you’re invited to help yourself to an unlimited supply of the absolute best in-season Oysters, provided by Richmond Oysters (in at least 3 different regions including Pacific from Tassie and SA as well as Sydney Rock).
Naturally, slurping a perfectly mignonetted oyster from the half shell is all the more satisfying when matched with divine bubbles from Dal Zotto Pucino Prosecco and beers from Kronenbourg1664. Yep, free-flowing bubbles and beer, all inclusive."

Oh how exciting!!! Pixie from The Agenda Daily had me at oysters but free flowing bubbles is FANTASTIC!! I must be insane to say no! So I am sending my trusty co-blogger to represent me and she will do a good job. More photos to come after the event but for now, here is some more info on the event.

This Oysters and Bubbles Soiree event will showcase a variety of products from the Private Sales. It's a party, not a sitdown dinner. For those of you who are interested, you have to be an Agenda member to get exclusive access to purchase ticket to event. Be sure to sign up.

So, with this soiree, don't you love this word? It's full of wickedness!!! Me likey! So with this soiree, the guest will also get to try out tasty treats from Farmgate Cheese. Now who doesn't like cheese? I am sending in world class cheese expert! Lin will absolutely love this but wait, there's more!! You will be going home with a parting gift from Shocolate, on Johnston Street, Fitzroy. I've been told that they carry everything from masterfully created deserts, handmade French origin chocolates, truffles(Champagne ganache anyone), and of course, award winning Macarons and hot chocolate. Good Lord! This is stupendous! Macarons!! Magic words!!

So if you are a big oyster fan, you will need to get down to Madame Brussels this Friday on October the 14th, 7pm, Parlour Room, be there... and for $65 per person, you are getting unlimited bubbles and beers and oysters from Tassie, South Australia and the famous Sydney Rock oysters. You will also get tasty treats of Farmgate cheeses, that deal alone is $65 dollars! And you get to take home some awesome chocolates, how good is that?

A big thanks to :
Richmond Oysters. 437-443 Church St, Richmond. Shucking the freshest Oysters daily.
Dal Zotto’s Pucino Prosecco. Winner, The Age Good Wine Guide, Best Value Sparkling.
Kronenbourg1664. Quite simply a taste of French magic.
Farmgate Cheese. An outlet of passionate fromagers that handpick inspired local and international cheeses.
Shocolate. Winner, Melbourne Macaron, Best Chocolate Macaron.

Need to know:
- Purchase entitles admission to the Agenda Oyster and Bubbles Soiree on Friday 14th October from 7-10pm at Madame Brussels, 63/59 Bourke Street, Melbourne.
- No ticket sales on the night.
- Agenda voucher required for entry.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tien Dat

Day 2 Melbourne Lunch at Tien Dat

My one and only experience with Vietnamese food was on my last Melbourne trip with Karen, Karen visited us from Penang. You might remember that I blogged about the place, it was the same place where Clinton had had two bowls of pho when he came to Australia to meet Johnny Howard.

We had pho and springrolls as well then, it was stupendous! I love the light flavour of Vietnamese food. So when Lin said " Lets' go to Tien Dat coz Dim Sum at Taipan is fully booked",  I didn't mind at all. I was all for it.

Lin ordered the Viet omelette and I ordered a Beef Salad, Grant had the beef pho. We also got some steamed and deepfried springrolls. I guessed the fresh herbs and lettuce will counter balanced all the deep fried stuff ;) I don't mind! I love springrolls in whatever form.

My three coloured drink reminds me of Malaysian chendul, it has red jelly, azuki beans and pandan worms and the base is coconut milk, very nice. But it does not have gula melaka in it ;(  Meh! Still good!

My beef salad is similar to a Thai Beef Salad, I think the Thai version is a lot heavier on the herbs and spices. The Viet version is light and tangy with fresh coriander, lettuce, shredded beef, cucumbers, carrots and beansprouts and fresh chillies and sprinkles of crushed peanuts in tangy spicy dressing.  I really enjoyed it, I was avoiding carbs as we planned to hit Lux Bite in the arvo and Chillipadi in the evening.

I gotta say, I am loving Box Hill and missing Melbourne a lot since I got back.

Steamed prawn roll

Vietnames Crepe - crispy thin omelette with minced pork, prawn, fungus and beanshoot filling

Hanoi spring roll
Tien Dat on Urbanspoon
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