Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

I’m Still Here

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

This last weekend was made up of four glorious days of non-work. I have come to appreciate my weekends so much more now that I have a 9 to 5 job and I’m not my own very relaxed, ‘yeah sure you can have a really long lunch’ boss. Weekends don’t come fast enough and then they disappear before you know it. Cruel, cruel world.

Work has evolved once again and I am currently working four days a week filling roles in the Community Engagement, Communications, Cultural Services, Administration and Communications (again) departments at the Subiaco Council. I am waiting to be asked to act as Mayor for the day. I spend my fifth day and most of my evenings writing for my clients in the UK. It is definitely appealing to my scatty brain to be working in so many different areas at one time.

Today was the first time in two months that I wasn’t able to eat my lunch outside in the sunshine in a park next to the council. The Easter rain arrived a few days late and it completely ruined my lunch time Vitamin-D ritual. It is still a novelty for me to be able to go outside and be 1. warm and 2. not wet. Alas, winter is on its way.

Blue skies over the Swan River

Blue skies over the Swan River

Good news – the Easter Bunny came. Perhaps thanks to the fact that I am one of the oldest children still living at home with their parents in the world, that chocolate-producing rabbit still managed to find me and leave a trail of… well… poop to a delicious dark chocolate Lindt bunny. Cheers, mate.

Follow the trail!

Follow the trail!

My cousin, Sophie, got married on Sunday so it was a weekend of kitchen teas, dresses, and tears of joy. It was lovely to be able to spend a lot of time with my family, especially the few hours that I spent with my close girl cousins, helping Sophie get ready. It was nice to be in the same country and be part of a family celebration for once, as the last few years I have usually been on the other side of the world.

Apart from that, my adventures in Perth have come to a standstill and largely involve my house, work and my grandma’s house. I am looking forward to two weeks of showing Sir Pubert where I went to primary school, which spiders are actually dangerous and which supermarket I like to go to. I bet he’s excited, too.

Nerdish Brownies

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

I am supposed to be doing work right now, but I have news that needs immediate discussion. This morning was the first time my library-buddy, Joe, and I have been working in the Central library together. As per usual, at 10.30am I headed to the library café to buy my morning coffee. Before departing, I asked Joe if he would like anything. A cheeky look spread across his face as he suggested we share one of the cakes on offer. I agreed.

Joe trusted my cake-selection abilities and so I chose the chocolate brownie, an item I had sampled thanks to some bite-sized tasters the café sometimes makes available, however I had never purchased an entire slice.

Holy moly.

Never would I have guessed that I would find one of the world’s best chocolate brownies in the café at the Manchester Central Library. It is rich, dark and gooey on the inside with a slight crunch on the outer layer. There are small pieces of walnut scattered throughout, breaking up the intensity of the chocolate.

Library brownie – served in a lovely cardboard box/plate/dish/thing

Library brownie – served in a lovely cardboard box/plate/dish/thing

I am very, VERY picky when it comes to chocolate flavoured sweet goods and I never give praise unless it is deserved and this was bloody awesome. And so my first official work day of 2015 has been delicious. I haven’t done enough work, but finding a delicious brownie is a far better use of my time.

He’s Back!

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

About six months ago, I learnt the sad, sad news that one of my favourite local chefs, Robert Owen Brown, was closing the doors of his seriously great restaurant, The Mark Addy. I will admit to weeping a little – this was devastating stuff! His delicious pheasant had made me a very happy girl and I wasn’t going to be able to eat his food ever again. THE HORROR.

So I write to you with great news, kids. My constant interest in Mancunian food news meant that I learnt he had moved to the location of one of my most disappointing restaurant experiences in Manchester and had taken over the kitchen. Two great pieces of information in one big ball of goodness. So when my Australian cousins, Sophie and Kate, came to visit me this weekend for delayed birthday fun, we went for dinner at the re-branded Rosylee to visit Mr Brown.

Clearly not many people have heard that Rob is back in action as the restaurant was basically empty. This did mean we could easily get a table on a busy Saturday night in the Northern Quarter. My previous visits to what was the Rosylee Tearooms had been very disappointing. Not great food being sold at excessive prices isn’t my thing and I had always left feeling very disappointed about what could have been a great restaurant. But I was determined not to let this ruin my experience this time and went there with high hopes and good intentions.

After umming and ahhing over the menu, each of us changing our minds multiple times about what we wanted to eat, we finally ordered – Kate and I both choosing the wild rabbit while Soph went for spatchcock marinated in dandelion and burdock. And it was all so GOOD! My rabbit was flavoursome and tender, served with a little layered potato stack and a couple of vege.

Bunny rabbit

Bunny rabbit

Sophie’s spatchcock was really tasty with its sweet marinade but smokey barbecue overtones. We were three very happy ladies eating good food with a nice bottle o’ red.

Spatchcock. Aka mini-chicken.

Spatchcock. Aka mini-chicken.

Of course, there was then dessert. Kate’s options were limited by her gluten free requirements so she went down the cheeseboard route. Four large chunks of cheese with an excessively large number of packet biscuits (none of which she could eat.) The cheese was great but the inclusion of celery on the plate was a bit odd. Celery after dinner? Really?

Cheese. But mostly crackers.

Cheese. But mostly crackers.

Sophie had the rhubarb and custard fool which was HUGE and required a vote amongst the table as to whether or not she was supposed to eat the twirly decoration on top. We decided it was raffia and therefore not designed for human consumption. I hope we weren’t wrong and the chefs in the kitchen weren’t all hitting their heads in disgust at our lack of food knowledge. Anyway, it was mostly cream and about the size of Sophie’s head so she gave up half way through. Brave soldier.

Foolish rhubarb

Foolish rhubarb

I went for my staple choice on any dessert menu – the chocolate based item. This time it was a dark chocolate tart served with a hot custard and caramel shards. Not bad for a chocolate tart although the filling was very soft and almost liquid and I prefer a firm centre. It was rich, dark and not too sweet, which is always a tick from me. The custard was served in a shot glass on the side and was really just confusing and weird. Custard is always nice but it doesn’t really go with a chocolate tart. A dollop of ice cream would make more sense – may I suggest salted butter caramel? I exchanged my caramel shards for Sophie’s ginger snap as I have never really understood the point of melted and re-solidified sugar. Overall it was tasty but not mind-blowing.

Mmm… chocolate tart...

Mmm… chocolate tart…

Overall this was a very tasty meal and it was exciting to once again eat some hearty and wholesome food served with style. The service at the Rosylee wasn’t great but it just felt like no one had put any effort into training the wait staff. It wasn’t that they were bad – they just didn’t really add anything to the experience. And I still hate the fake flowers on the ceiling. But other than that, the Rosylee is on the improve and I will be going back for more rabbit. And perhaps the Lancashire hot pot.

32 Days of Summer Fun

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

Today is 1 August. A culmination of there being exactly one month until my birthday; it being a rainy, drizzle and depressing day despite being summer; and the fact that I don’t have any writing work on at the moment and am therefore looking for things to keep my mind occupied, has resulted in me having the greatest brain wave since my 108 Challenges in 108 Days. For the month of August I will celebrate all things that are good with daily hits of Summer Fun. This fun can transpire in many forms, be it food based, activity based, friend based or other (I’m keeping it open to interpretation.). This month of fun will finish with the funnest of fun days EVER – aka My Birthday. YES.

And so it begins.

Day One.

It’s raining today. My two weeks worth of writing work have dried up. It is quiet in the office and I have to walk home in Manchester Drizzle. Woo. So to keep myself and my co-workers in cheerful dispositions, I bought us Kinder Happy Hippos. You can’t beat a bit of cheap kiddies’ chocolate.

Happy Hippo!

Happy Hippo!

I shall call him Harry.

I shall call him Harry.

To be honest, Harry doesn’t look that happy. I would say he’s more ‘anxious’ or ‘concerned’. But he sure brought joy to our worlds! Cheers, Harry.

Happy Birthday, You Delicious Nutty-Chocolate Delight

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

A very big congratulations and happy birthday to my good friend, Nutella who turned 50 years old this week. We have spent a lot of time getting to know one another and I feel our friendship has grown from strength to strength. I have consumed this wondrous, gooey hazelnut and chocolate spread in Australia, France, England, Germany and various other European countries, with each country offering a slightly different flavour sensation. No two countries deliver the same product – the ratio of chocolate to nut and the consistency can vary significantly. It is smoother in France than it is in the UK, and a lot more chocolatey in Australia. Despite it being an Italian invention, I give the award for “Best Use of Nutella” to the French who spread copious amounts in hot crêpes creating chocolate volcanoes that ooze down your chin. Simple culinary brilliance. I will, however, give the Italians the “Invention Prize” for the Nutella flavoured gelato that I had in Bologna. WOW. Just wow.

Mmm… nutella gelato...

Mmm… nutella gelato…

I have consumed Nutella on bread, in crêpes, as ice cream, in cakes, in little plastic tubs that are designed for kids but loved by adults, in a calzone and, I am willing to admit, licked off the end of a knife. The excitement levels that I am experiencing while writing this post almost scare me and I am currently envisioning swimming in a vat of Nutella. Clearly my love for this product and dedication to the consumption of it, despite its affect on my health and waist line, means that Mr Ferrero should definitely make it happen. Or at least give me a free jar.

The most Nutella-ful crêpe that I have ever consumed. It was freaking awesome.

The most Nutella-ful crêpe that I have ever consumed. It was freaking awesome.

63 Degrees of Deliciousness

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

I, Jessica Davies, am a very lucky girl. For many reasons really, but on Saturday night my good fortune was highlighted, underlined, set off in fireworks, and served on a plate by a singing penguin in a suit. I was taken out for dinner at one of Manchester’s top restaurants, 63 Degrees, for delicious French food and wine. I felt like I had been transported back to Paris as I read the menu and saw all of my favourite words – foie gras, vin blanc, et chocolat. Trop bon.

Matt had tried to go to 63 Degrees when he had been in Manchester a few weeks ago, however he hadn’t been able to get a table. So some forward planning and gentle prodding from a nagging Virgo meant we scored a table at the ridiculously early time of 5.45pm. Thankfully it is dark in Manchester by 4 o’clock so stomaches start grumbling much earlier. Plus we were running late so by the time we were seated it was an acceptable dining hour.

The restaurant is run by the Moreau family with Eric, a very handsome and very French-looking chef, out the back working his magic in the kitchen. We were served by a young waiter who was… well… a frenchman. Confident and ready to tell his clientele who was in charge, he kept our wine glasses filled and he briefly allowed me the pleasure of speaking French to him. Briefly.

I talked Matt into sharing the foie gras entrée – two rounds of rich foie gras served with a crunchy brioche and fruity fig compote. It took me straight back to Christmas last year eating excessive amounts of foie gras and drinking cheap wine with friends in Paris – only this was the fancy-afied version and definitely not cheap. It was just delicious. I want more.

Continuing along this theme of my morally challenging meat-eating tendencies, over previous weeks I had been thinking about the delicious small birds (quails, pigeons, spatchcock) that I ate in France so when I saw pigeon on the menu I couldn’t go past it. The dainty roasted bird was served with cabbage and mushrooms with a creamy, buttery sauce. I would have liked the skin to be a bit crisper but the flavours were moreish and warming. Matt’s lamb was the winner though – juicy and tender, it melted in your mouth and was perfectly accompanied by a sweet potato mash.

Pigeon rôti avec petit chou

Pigeon rôti avec petit chou

Of course I was waiting anxiously for the dessert and was extremely concerned by the fact that there were TWO chocolate items on the menu. How was I supposed to choose? But then angels sang and glitter fell from the ceiling as Matt suggested we share the fondant chocolat et caramel and the poire chocolat. It was like winning the lottery twice.

The chocolate and caramel fondant was served with a chestnut cream and ice cream. The fondant oozed as it should and was deliciously dark but quite sweet due to the caramel. I would have preferred a plain chocolate fondant but I wasn’t about to send it back.

Fondant chocolat et caramel avec glace marron

Fondant chocolat et caramel avec glace marron

Then there was the chocolate sphere – served as a hard-cased chocolate ball, our smooth waiter friend poured a hot chocolate sauce over the top, melting the ball and revealing rounds of poached pear inside. What remained was essentially rich, dark chocolate soup with pieces of pear. HOLY MOLY.

Sphère chocolat avec poire

Sphère chocolat avec poire

I starred at it for awhile, unable to accept that I was allowed to eat it. And eat it I did – I think I may have defended the chocolate and pear delight with my spoon and not allowed Matt to have a very fair share… I ended the evening at 63 Degrees a very happy girl on an extreme chocolate high (my preferred state of being.)

I am very pleased to have found another restaurant in Manchester that delivers gastronomic experiences that take me to my happy place. I still have a long list of restaurants that I want to try and my experience at 63 Degrees has kicked my foodie taste-buds back into action. Thanks, Matt.

Chorlton Crack and Pure Origins

Monday, August 12th, 2013

During the Manchester International Festival, I discovered Ginger’s Comfort Emporium – an ice cream van that releases your inner child. The pink and maroon van was parked in Festival Square and I once made an out-of-my-way beeline for it in order to soothe my life-is-hard woes. It worked – this ice cream is good. The flavours are not your average chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. They vary daily from salted caramel with peanut butter (aka Chorlton Crack), dark chocolate, strawberry with mint, and rhubarb and pink peppercorn sorbet.

Since the festival, I have spotted the van at various points over town and am usually unable to stop myself from buying ice cream. Life is too short, I say. Buy the ice cream, I say. So within minutes I am holding a cone filled with glorious melting goodness. On my first two visits I just chose my staple option, pure origins dark chocolate, unable to bend from my usual ways. But the other Sunday I was feeling emotional, hormonal and depressed (a dangerous combination that can only be fixed with sugar and fat) and Pooja and I went in search of THE VAN. I decided to take them up on their great double scoop deal (£2.50 for one, £3.50 for two) and chose dark chocolate and Chorlton Crack. Oh the joy! My grumpy face was instantly replaced by jubilant smiles and then “I ate too much ice cream and I think I might vomit…” contentedness.

Mmmm... Pure Origins and Chorlton Crack...

Mmmm… Pure Origins and Chorlton Crack…

I have now had this double-banger ice cream twice and I am shocked to discover that the folk in charge of Ginger’s Comfort Emporium do not agree with my flavour combination. On their website they have an article stating they advise their customers against joining chocolate and crack as they both have deep flavours that should be savoured on their own. I can understand this and as someone who appreciates the joy of simple and pure food, I accept their call. However, the pure joy that I received from having these two flavours together can’t be denied. Perhaps it is because I am a particularly skilled ice cream eater and I never actually eat the two flavours together. All I know is that the ice cream is good, the van is awesome and I love Ginger’s Comfort Emporium. The end.

Yum.

Monday, February 25th, 2013

This morning I ate this with my coffee:

Escargot pistache et chocolat

Escargot pistache et chocolat

It was from Du Pain et Des Idées (one of the best bakeries in Paris and where I bought my galette de rois from this year) and it was just amazingly good. Simple, crispy, buttery, pistachioy, chocolatey. Pure delight for my tastebuds. Gosh I’m going to miss French baked goods.

Little Popelini

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Yesterday I went on a random walk through Paris and as I was heading through the Marais I realised that I would be going past a cake store that I have been meaning to try. As I am about to leave this great city, I felt it only appropriate that I stop and sample their goods even if I had only just eaten lunch. Named after the inventor of choux pastry – an Italian genius by the name of Popelini – this patisserie only sells small choux balls filled with delicious flavoured creams. I, of course, sampled the dark chocolate and as I stood outside in the snowy weather and bit into the exploding puff, my eyes lit up and a huge smile took over my face. Why hadn’t I tried one of these earlier? I am not a huge choux pastry fan and I never choose eclairs – but this! WOW.

So cute and so delicious!

So cute and so delicious!

 

The chocolate cream was dark, rich and plentiful inside the pastry puff. I almost turned around and went back in for a second but probably would have felt very sick if I had. One was perfection.

Popelini
29 Rue Debelleyme
75003

Rewind to Christmas

Monday, December 31st, 2012

I realised I never blogged about Ben and my Amazing-Christmas-Dinner-Feast-For-Two so allow me to do so now, mainly through photographs. Neither of us could be called chefs (Ben is certainly a baker but a whole chicken is a lot different to a ball of dough), but if the help of a National Trust english cookbook, we made one mighty fine roast chicken. To go with it, we had some delicious buttery brussel sprouts, broccolini and asparagus, crunchy roasted potatoes, and it was all followed by gooey chocolate puddings. It was one seriously good Christmas dinner and our night was made even more special by watching the all-time family classic, Hook. RU-FI-OOOO!

Better than KFC.

Better than KFC.

The recipe made six puddings which sounded like a good idea at the time...

The recipe made six puddings which sounded like a good idea at the time…

Mmmm... chocolate pudding...