Tag Archives: French

Vincent – Woollahra

Vincent

Bonjour everyone!

Sorry about the long absence, a lot has happened in the last year, which have kept me away from the blog. I regularly post pictures on Facebook and Instagram though, so feel free to follow me there too!

I’d been dying to visit Vincent (by same owners as nearby Buzo and Wine Library) for ages, as I’d heard a lot about their Comté soufflé and their cheese-making efforts (anyone prepared to make their own cheese gets my full admiration!). The birthday of my partner’s mum proved the perfect occasion to visit!

Wine

The restaurant is located in a boutique hotel right on Queen Street, on the corner of five ways, in Woollahra. After walking through the hotel lobby and the beautiful bar, we were led to our table on the terrace, protected from the elements by translucent plastic covers and heaters. While it got slightly cooler by the end of the night (the heaters might have been turned off at some stage), we were generally quite comfortable. After nibbling on sourdough bread, homemade “Vincent butter” and an assortment of olives, we ordered a few entrees to share, as our friendly waitress had advised us that the portions were quite generous.

FishRaw fish, kohlrabi, barberries & finger lime ($20) 

While all the portions were not thaaat big, I was still glad we got to share them, because they were all really delicious. The raw fish was especially nice – a light, tangy and refreshing start to the meal.

SaladCelery, nashi pear, hazelnut & abondance salad ($17)

The celery salad was also tasty, peppered with crunchy roasted hazelnuts and Abondance cheese strips bringing a nice bite. (Abondance is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese from the French Alps.)

SouffleBaked cantal soufflé, “fines herbes” ($19)

I was a bit disappointed to see that the Comté soufflé had been replaced by a baked Cantal soufflé – as you might know, I was born in Franche-Comté, and Comté is my all-time favourite cheese. However this version was delicious, albeit very rich and creamy – eating one by myself would have proved difficult. (The waitress was absolutely right on that one.)

TartJerusalem artichoke tart, mushroom fricassée, almond milk ($19)

The Jerusalem artichoke & mushroom tart was an absolute winner, dare I say even better than the soufflé? Yes! It was amazing. The pine mushrooms and artichoke teamed very well together and I would have gladly eaten a whole tart by myself.

ScallopsSeared scallops & leek, soubise, vadouvan spice ($24)

I tasted a bit of the scallops, which were lovely, plump and tender little things. My neighbour loved the dish too, even though she thought the leeks overpowered the scallops a bit. I’d never heard of Vadouvan spice before: according to Wikipedia, it’s “a masala with added spices such as shallots and garlic, [..] thought to have originated due to French colonial influence in the Pondicherry region of India.” Miam.

Steak Steak frites “beurre vincent” ($34)

The steaks ordered by my partner’s parents for mains were served on a metallic plate atop a little burner to keep them warm and melt the butter slowly, and I immediately regretted not ordering one myself. I tasted a bit, and the meat was very tender. They were accompanied with delicious, thin chips, served in a big bowl for two, but which was almost enough for the whole table.

PouletPoulet rôti – roast chicken, bread sauce, sprout leaves & chestnuts ($35)

Despite a bout of food envy, I thoroughly enjoyed my poulet rôti, a perfect winter dish with the sprout leaves and chestnuts (which were a bit hard). The chicken was cooked perfectly (though I was hoping for the skin to be a bit more crispy), with a lovely bread sauce. Apparently it’s a British classic: milk cooked with onion, cloves, bay leaf, nutmeg, cream, butter and thickened with bread.

GnocchiPotato gnocchi, beer braised veal shin, mustard green ($28)

My partner’s brother quite liked the gnocchi with braised veal, even though I suspect he too regretted not ordering the steak. (I think marrying into an Italian family might have spoilt him for life when it comes to pasta dishes ;) )

DessertsFrom top left, clockwise:
Deconstructed chocolate cake, salted caramel mousse and ice-cream,
Raspberry sorbet, rhubarb, pistachio & sheeps’ milk yoghurt mousse,
Baked passionfruit custard, black sesame tuile, 
Lemon meringue tarte renversée

Even though cheese was on my mind ever since I found out about Vincent – and I did get to admire the cheese cabinet near the kitchen and its big, beautiful wheels of dairy goodness  I opted for dessert instead. While the buttery and sugary disgrace that is Kouign Amman (a specialty pastry from Brittany) sounded really tempting, I really craved something lighter and ordered the passionfruit custard, but even then I struggled, as the portion was quite generous. Everyone was very happy with the desserts, but the deconstructed chocolate gâteau seemed to take the cake provoke the most enthusiasm, the only gripe being that there wasn’t enough of its to-die-for salted caramel mousse element.

If we hadn’t been so full (and for some of us a bit fluey), we would have loved to sit at the bar for a nice digestif, or cosy up on the inviting plush couches near the fireplace… next time.

While Vincent definitely specialises in French food and wine, don’t go there expecting a traditional “Franchouillard” bistro-type of place with French music, decor (except maybe for some Le Creuset mini-pots), or even French staff for that matter (some might argue that’s a good thing!). This is an Australian interpretation of French cuisine – more modern and fresh – and that’s foine by me ;)

Vincent – French Dining Room & Bar
14 Queen Street
Woollahra NSW 2025
Ph: (02) 8039 1500

Vincent on Urbanspoon

Manu Feildel at Alliance Francaise Sydney

A couple of weeks ago I attended a book signing and Q&A session with Manu Feildel at the Alliance Francaise of Sydney. The 12:30pm session booked out so fast that they had to add another one mid-morning, which booked out just as fast. This man sure has a lot of fans!

Manu Feilfel

Manu, mostly famous for co-hosting popular cooking show My Kitchen Rules, was here to present his third cookbook, French for Everyone, which he hopes will show Australian readers what real French food is about: “We don’t eat confit of duck every day at home, boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin or cassoulet… What we eat is what my mum cooked, which was what you guys cook but with a French accent.” “Every recipe [in the book] is easy to make, but they are very tasty, and there’s a lot of sauce,” he said.

Despite the recent closure of his Sydney restaurant L’Étoile, life seems to be smiling at Manu right now, between the success of MKR, his new food & travel show My France with Manu, his new restaurant in Melbourne Le Grand Cirque, his new cookbook, and his engagement to fiancee Clarissa.

Himself still can’t quite believe his luck: “I wake up every morning pinching myself. Ouch, I’ve got bruises everywhere!” he said to an already won-over audience. “It is incredible, I know that I worked hard to be where I am, but I still feel that I’m one of the luckiest men on this planet.”

Manu Feildel

He told the audience about the start of his career, when he left France at the age of 18 to work in London, and then his move to Melbourne in 1999 with $700 in his pocket, how he then completely fell in love with Sydney and decided to call it his home. There he worked with Tony Bilson (“a great friend”), whose restaurant ended up obtaining 3 hats, and he started making a name for himself in the industry.

The day he received a call from Channel 10 to audition for Ready, Steady, Cook! marked the start of his career in the media: “I was always interested in entertaining. Before I wanted to become a chef, I wanted to be a circus performer. [...] I thought if I can’t be in the circus, let’s do some TV, it’s pretty much the same!” he said, provoking laughter in the audience. The rest is of course history, with his appearances in Boys Weekends, Masterchef, then My Kitchen Rules, Dancing with the Stars, and the recent My France with Manu.

Manu Feildel

A few brave souls asked during the Q&A whether he was cooking at his new restaurant, to which he responded: “Never! I’ve got slaves now. I’ve got the whip!” He also joked that Louis Vuitton doesn’t sew all the handbags himself!

Manu explained that his head-chef Fabian Oliveau, who used to run L’Étoile in Sydney, has followed him all the way to Melbourne to look after the restaurant: We write the menus together, he does all the hard work, I just taste it, tell him if it’s good or not, and then start from there. And he’s very good… he’s French!”

Manu FeildelQuestion time…

Despite having quite a tight schedule, Manu was kind enough to cut his break short to answer a few of my questions…

FW: How was it to go back to France, with camera crew in tow? How did your family react?

Manu: Going back to France was very exciting because I left France a long time ago, and every time I go back was for a quick holiday, and you need to see all your family, you need to jump from someone’s house to another, and you don’t rest, you don’t really have a holiday and you come back exhausted. This time it was still work, but it was so well organised that I didn’t need to worry about anything, from a town another city to another town. I rediscovered  my own country, and seeing my family was fantastic. I think my family was a bit surprised and shocked by all the TV crew around, but I think what they said to me is I haven’t changed a bit, so regardless I’ve become what I’ve become, I haven’t changed from the Manu that they’ve met form when I was a little kid, I’m still the same Manu.

FW: Do they realise how famous you are here?

Manu: My mum comes here every two years, so she had a little episode of what’s going on in my life every time, and they knew there something that was happening to me, but the difference between telling them and seeing it, it’s very different, so seeing the TV crew following me everywhere was a bit of a surprise and a shock.

Manu FeildelTurning on the charm

FW: Are there gonna be more episodes of My France…?

Manu: I’m going back at the end of May for another 3 weeks. We go this time from the Alps, Lyon, Aix-en-Provence to Marseille. So it’s very good, another 2 episodes!

Manu Feildel

FW: What do you miss most about France?

Manu: I think what I’ve realised is, because when I left when I was just 18 years-old, I’ve done some of France, but not all of it, and the fact that I came back and did the filming from Brittany all the way down to Biarritz, I’ve rediscovered France, and what I missed I’d love to go there a bit more often, for pleasure and just spend a bit more time there. And what’s great about it is that nobody knows who I am there, so I can actually travel without being stopped here and there. But what I miss is all the little markets, the little villages, the beautiful cheeses and the charcuterie, things that we have here, but not the same quality I suppose.

FW: Would you consider going back and live there to introduce your son to his French heritage?

Manu: Yes it is part of his heritage, but I don’t think it’s possible to go back and live there, because I’ve got a busy life here, and I’ve got a couple of jobs here that I can’t replicate over there. For me to become what I am back in France, I would have to start my life all over again. It would be a silly thing to do, but maybe I’d like to retire in France, maybe when my career slows down a bit, maybe I’ll have a holiday house, and I can spend a few months at a time, that would be nice.

Manu FeildelAlways the entertainer

FW: How’s your new restaurant going?

Manu: This is week 3, so it’s only been open for 15-16 days, so it’s early to say, but so far so good. We are busy already, I hope it’s gonna stay like this, I think the food is very simple French food, which people seem to really enjoy, there’s nothing complicated and people seem to enjoy that.

FW: Would you say that this restaurant resembles you the most?

Manu: It’s pretty much a full circle: the food I got brought up with, and then it became a lot of fine dining food, and back to what I was doing when I was much younger. This is my life going back to where I was, I think that’s what I want to do, it’s all a bit of what I’ve done under one roof.

Manu FeildelBook signing

FW: Your fiancee is Malaysian (actually Malaysian, Chinese & Sri-Lankan I found out). Has she helped you discover new types of cuisine?

Manu: For sure, I love every type of cuisine, I know that French is what I do, but I eat everything, and Malaysian food, I just love it, it’s really really nice, we cook at home together, so either I help her to cook, or she helps me cook my dishes, so it’s really good.

Manu Feildel

FW: Your life seems to be pretty complete at the moment. What’s the next dream you would like to achieve?

Manu: I know, it’s ridiculous! Let’s go back to My France with Manu, I would like to do that more and more and more, and maybe do My World with Manu, and travel all around the world and eat food!

And on that note, it was already time to finish the interview and get Manu back to his publicist and fans.

Manu Feildel

All in all, despite not being quite as receptive to his Gallic charm (French accent is not that exotic to me!), I found him to be a genuinely nice guy and, yes, pretty charismatic and endearing. You go Manuuuuuuuuuuuu!    ;)

Check out the Alliance Française de Sydney‘s website for more info on the events that regularly held there.

Check out Manu’s “actualité”:
– on TV: My Kitchen Rules & My France with Manu
- his new cookbook: French For Everyone
- his new restaurant: Le Grand Cirque

Cafe Opera, Intercontinental – Sydney

EggCafe Opera’s famous Slow-cooked Egg dish

A few weeks ago I was invited by Cafe Opera Executive Sous Chef, Julien Pouteau, to discover their new Spring Menu at the restaurant located on the 1st floor of the InterContinental Hotel, right next to Circular Quay.  

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Le Concours des Vins du NSW – FACCI

flowersWhere NSW Wines meet the French palate…

A few weeks ago I attended the NSW Wines competition organised by the French-Australian Chamber of Commerce at the Doltone House in Pyrmont, and had the opportunity to talk to Master Sommelier Franck Moreau from the Merivale Group, and Florent Bouvier from the Travers Wines. I wrote a little article for the Sydney edition of Le Petit Journal, an online publication in French for expats all over the world.

I’m going to try to adapt it to the blog, in English, in the version below :)

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Interview with Ludovic Geyer, Chef at Bistro Papillon

Ludovic_Geyer

A few months ago, as I was researching an article for the beautiful website Eat Love, I had the opportunity to meet with Ludovic Geyer, a French Chef who runs with partner Xavier Huitorel the popular Bistro Papillon, located in Sydney CBD.

Ludovic generously gave me his time to answer my questions about his experience of food as a French man who has been living in Australia for 8 years now.

Here are his answers… (translated into English by myself)

Restaurant Atelier – Glebe

Chef Darren Templeman and wife Bernadette, Restaurant Manager

A few weeks back I got to attend a superb degustation dinner at Restaurant Atelier, a little cottage located in Glebe Point Road. I had heard a lot about it from my colleagues and when the opportunity of a #twEATup with the regular offenders (& new ones) came up, I jumped on it! It also happens that my boss used to run a crêpe restaurant in the very same building back in the early 80’s, so I was keen to see where it all started!

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Felix Bistro – Sydney CBD

A few weeks ago, my friend Vanity Fare and I decided to try the recent addition to the Merivale empire in Ash Street laneway, Felix Bistro, run by Lauren Murdoch, who used to operate the kitchen of Ash Street Cellar just across the road. I kept hearing good reports about it, and the few times I had walked past it, I’d thought the place looked beautiful and quite like an authentic brasserie.

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Garden Court Restaurant – Sofitel Sydney

Last week I was invited to a French-themed dinner hosted by Cenk, creator of Social Dinner Club, at Garden Court Restaurant, on the 5th floor of Sofitel in the CBD. Sofitel is a 5-star hotel owned by Accor, the famous French multinational corporation.

The Garden Court’s website describes the restaurant serving “modern contemporary cuisine with a French influence”. I was quite impressed when I made my way inside the grand entrance hall, the decor was simple but classy, you could see guests and patrons enjoying a relaxing drink in the lounge on the ground floor and staff members were most polite and friendly when I asked my way to the restaurant.

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Tastevin – Darlinghurst

When an ex-colleague who now lives on the North Coast came back to town a few days ago for a rejuvenating plunge in the Big Smoke, he decided to invite me and another colleague for a catch-up lunch at an ol’ favourite haunt of his: Tastevin in Darlinghurst.

We meet on a Thursday around 12:45pm and are greeted warmly by Alex Bourdon, the Owner and Chef of Tastevin. His beautiful wife and Tastevin’s co-owner Natasha is not here today as the couple have just become new parents and she is taking care of their little girl. The place is pretty quiet when we arrive (which is fine by me, as I am not a loud talker!). Tastevin is actually better known as a popular late night spot as they serve food until the wee hours of the morning (around 2am), which is a pity considering that the lunch prices are a steal, with entrees at $15 and mains at $20!

Alex runs us through the menu and I hesitate briefly between the special (Seared scallops in a cauliflower soup) and the Gnocchi à la parisienne. Last time I ate at Tastevin for a Valentine dinner, my boyfriend chose the Gnocchi and I was very jealous as they were to die for! In the end I just can’t resist and get the Gnocchi. My enthusiasm must be contagious, for the boys end up doing the same!

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Baroque Bistro – The Rocks

It’s raining (again) when my partner M. and I are running to Baroque Bistro for dinner during the Easter long weekend.

The Bistro was opened last year by Sally Charkos and her sons Christophe, Olivier and Jeremy as an homage to the late Pierre Charkos, the famous Patissier behind the closely located La Renaissance Patisserie, who had a big influence on the patisserie industry in Sydney.

The restaurant is set up in a warehouse, with a lot of space, high ceilings and windows offering a beautiful view on the Harbour Bridge.

The décor is a mixture of modern (designer translucent plastic chairs, chrome lights-fittings) and traditional (copper pans hanging from the ceiling, old clocks), which would be a good way to describe their cuisine: classical French fare, but reworked with a modern twist.

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