Patissez, Canberra 07-2015

After the rumours, the photos and the reputed waiting times, I finally made it Patissez. I did a walkby the day before around 1pm and was told the table wait was 2.5 hours. On a Thursday 10am, it was luckily 25mins. Upon leaving at 1130, it had stretched out to 1.5hours. They take your number so you can wander around and come back (an excellent system), which means you can actually go elsewhere for a coffee first (eg. ONA), do you grocery shopping at Coles, banking or shop browsing, or laze on the lawn outside. They also do takeaway freakshakes (the wait time being approximately 25mins) if you want to sit outside and work out how to eat them cleanly.

The food menu is actually quite impressive, with promoted sandwiches (I saw one with a huge amount of pulled pork) and brunchy options, making Patissez more than just a dessert/sugar-high cafe.

- Cheeky (slow cooked beef cheeks, black eyed beans, baked egg centre, crusty bread, kale pesto, parmigiano reggiano) $19 - an excellent rendition of a baked egg/cazuela/shakshuka dish, replacing the usual smoky chorizo with soft cheeks and thus a milder tomato and bean sauce. The cheese, minimally runny egg and touch of greens added texture and flavour. I wondered why the pesto was so mild and now I see - kale, not basil. I'd prefer a traditional basil but it might overpower the dish;
- Salmon Dance $21 - the menu has changed and Sea Pea has been replaced. This dish had a reasonable grilled piece of salmon, sitting on roast potatoes, runny poached eggs, spicy chorizo, tomato, green beans and topped with tangy Hollandaise sauce.

Toward the end of the food, the freakshakes came out ($11.50 each). They are indeed a sight to behold. Interestingly the two shakes ordered on this occasion are actually served with the liquid very hot so the tops melt down and everything overflows like a cascading volcano threatening to spill onto the table.
- Muddy Pat (warm fudgy choc shake, chewy fudge brownie, more chocolate fudge, whipped cream, toasted housemade marshie) - from the top, the marshmallow is outstanding, the brownie is moist and slightly thick, the choc shake itself is remarkably mild. I don't think that's a bad thing and perhaps mixing the brownie and marshmallow into the drink will balance it out. As my usual preference, perhaps a twist of dark chocolate or coffee in the shake would make it more my taste? But each to their own;
- Salty Nutz (warm salted caramel & pecan pie shake, slathers of salted butter caramel, chewy wedge of pecan pie, vanilla bean whipped cream) - the immaculate pecan pie topped a (too me overly) sweet, buttery caramel drink.

As they do takeaway shakes, it was easy to get a cup to carry the remaining butter caramel drink home for a later time. The insides have a variety of decadent cakes of which I'd certainly like to try someday.

Overall I think the shake parts of the drinks could be thicker at the expense of serving less of it. I couldn't finish either of them and neither did any table in the area I was. Sharing one between two is probably the best way of countering this, but at the same time I think the liquid part didn't match the outstanding toppings for quality. Nonetheless the food is actually very good which makes coming to Patissez ideal for meals, photogenic drinks and overloading your day with calories. Just be prepared to wait or have some things to do around Manuka.

Next time I would order any of the food items (particularly the Cheeky again, Get Pig'd or The Field) and probably to suit my taste the French Vanilla freakshake (let's be honest, partially for the shake, partially for the photo opportunity). Otherwise one of the 'standard' shakes with banana, matcha, dates, Greek yoghurt, honey and granola sounds like something I'd order at any other place.

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Fisketorget, Bergen 08-2012

The Bergen fish market was probably one of the things I was most looking forward to visiting during my trip to Norway. The other was Preikestolen but for very different reasons.

The excessive amounts of fresh, mainly local Scandinavian seafoods on offer was tremendous. Whale steaks and skewers are happily advertised, all sorts of shellfish and fresh fish, live catches and even a caviar stand where I sampled a magnificent offering. There's also a few ready to eat sandwiches but they were less exciting. Best of all, nearly everything is available to order and be cooked fresh.

The king crab leg cost me roughly AUD30, but the meat was thick and the sweetest I've ever tasted. I will go so far to say this crab I would prefer over lobster. That didn't stop me from buying my own live lobster to be grilled to complete my morning trawling.

I can't wait to go back. Given the location, it may be a while though.

Trekroneren, Bergen 08-2012

For some reason I'd been reading about a hotdog stand in Bergen. I'm not entirely sure why, but I distinctly remember reading about these little gems. Perhaps it's where the drunken go at night, similar to a Stalactites or China Bar in Melbourne. In any case I'm pretty sure there was even a post somewhere saying these were good to eat sober.

Even though the location is along one of the main walkways between my hostel and the waterside, I seemed to miss it the first few times coming past. Maybe it looked so shady that I expected something better.

Who could go past a Reinsdyr polse? Not me. It was a nice meaty thing topped with onions, the usual sauces and served in a standard white bun. Not as exciting as the MEATmarket dog, but at that point in life I hadn't discovered that yet...

Enhjorningen, Bergen 08-2012

Despite the incredible price tag on food in Norway, the actual quality of the seafood (almost) makes it worthwhile. Whilst in Bergen, I had to treat myself to one nice seafood meal and the online reading seemed to lead me toward Enhjorningen. This place translates into "Unicorn" - I'm not sure of the significance of that other than it's a pretty sounding name. The location along a line of colourful houses next to the waterside makes the area particularly nice to stroll down in the evening and nighttime.

The setting is warm, cosy and a little fine. The price point was probably reflected by the largely older (and probably richer) business-looking people willing to pay these prices. I'm sure they felt perfectly comfortable with me sitting in the corner taking photos of things.

- Hval Carpaccio (carpaccio of smoked whale from Lofoten) - unlike in Japan, these guys eat local whale as part of their natural diet. They aren't endangered and everybody seems to get along. It's an unusually flavoured meat though in this dish dressed with many different textures and toppings;
- Enhjorningen Fiskesuppe (fish soup prepared from choice fish stocks, flavoured with saffron & served with fish & shellfish) - rich beautiful coloured soup though marginally not as strong in flavour as I tend to like;
- Fiske Trio (salmon, halibut & catfish, steamed & served with two sauces) - delicate fish cooked well to tenderness and sourcream and mushroom sauces to mop up with. It came with a big load of side potatoes just in case I had any intention of remaining hungry.

Overall a nice meal and the restaurant I remember most in Norway. If you're going to blow cash in one place in Bergen, this isn't a bad option. The other alternative on my list was Boha, which has a 6 course menu.

Next time I would order the house mussel soup to try and probably the fish trio again (3 varieties is better than 1 right?).

Fyret, Oslo 08-2012

Set along the lovely open plaza of Youngstorget, situated funnily enough across from my other lunch venue in Oslo ( is Fyret. I was on the hunt for more local seafood offerings to take advantage of the Scandinavian waters and it was a beautiful sunny (although not overly warm) day to people watch and enjoy life.

- Lofot Burger (catfish burger served on bun with salad and garlic, salad dressed with shrimps, freshly steamed mussels & mustard sauce on the side. Topped with lemon, fresh dill & leek) - delicious fish burger and those little shrimps are so full of flavour;
- Panfried potatoes - flavoursome, lovely and crisp. Probably made the meal for 1 a little too large and decadent.

Next time I would order the burger meal again or try the seafood salad. Give me more seafood and shrimps.

B-One Korean Restaurant, Canberra 07-2015

For some reason I had a craving for fried chicken. Well the precise reason was I saw the $42 fried chicken platter at Public in Manuka the night before and this had caught my daydreams. Even though I could have simply gone there, the lure of Korean FC had me searching online to see if Canberra had this available. I came across two options - a blog post with a Korean flyer and a mobile for home delivery (which after calling has now relocated to Sydney) and B-One, a place in Civic.

Chicken Gourmet's fried chicken is pretty average to be honest. It's convenient and edible but not particular good. KFC has good taste but you always regret it later on. Melbourne's Gami and Da Rin are the ones I've decided must be authentic, so I was interested to see how B-One would stack up.

It's refreshing to walk in on a weekday and have the place quite full with nearly all Koreans - families, students, couples etc. Obviously they like something about the place, hopefully more than the location.

The three samples of beanshoots, tangy kimchi and savoury beancurd started things off. Jujube tea was a hot fruit drink that reminded me of plums (it's a date I've discovered). Then came the stars of the night:

- Bibimbap - a steaming hot stonebowl of ingredients with your own gochujang sauce to top with. The flavours were nice, but most impressively the bottom rice was beautifully browned crisp;
- Fried chicken - the sweet and soy versions complemented each other well. I preferred the sweet version as the soy had a little too much soy (not salty, soy) flavour. The mild quantity of sauce meant the coatings maintained excellent crunch;
- Rice cakes with beef - I bought this to takeaway for my next day lunch. The savoury version was nice and the rice cakes soft and gummy. I'd probably opt for the chilli version next time.

B-One has elevated itself to the top of my Canberra Korean restaurants list (to be the fair the only other one I've been to is Tosung in Manuka which is far from bad).

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The Boat House by the Lake, Canberra 07-2015

It's Canberra's truffle season. Who knew that the 40+ degree summers and the 0 degree winters would be ideal cultivating conditions for the Perigord truffles to grow? That was part of the education session from the lucky owner of French Black Truffles of Canberra. He was correct in saying there are cheap imitations - Chinese versions and the much less potent summer black truffles. He neglected to mention the God of all truffles - the white Tuber magnatum ( Other than those there's only a few truffle dishes I remember in this lifetime so far - the ridiculously priced degustation at Eleven Madison Park where the truffle supplement was USD100 per head, the 7kg black truffle turkey I made for Christmas in 2011, the French Laundry white truffle risotto I made using the 15g/€60 white truffle I purchased from the Alba white truffle festival in 2012.

After reading about the exceptional quality of The Boat House by the Lake's overall cooking and their reputation for one of the best truffle courses around (especially locally), the $120 food tag didn't seem too much of a risk. Funnily enough on the night I don't think any of the waiters paid any attention to who ordered the $160 wine courses as they were happy to serve anyone. Thanks for the final serving of madeira - brought me back to the tasting rooms in Porto.

Truffle beignets and truffle gougere were served whilst standing around in the foyer. The dark black morsels had warm soft centres and engaged much more than the yellow ones (which I was quite sure were truffle-free cheese).

- Cultured truffle butter, multigrain bread rolls - several servings of warm bread with excellent crusts and soft butter aided digestion throughout the night;
- Truffle porridge, blood pudding, swiss browns, persillade - my adoration of black pudding continued in this dish with crisp flavoursome pieces dominating the other flavours;
- Baked savoy cabbage, raclette, truffle, bacon - to make a cabbage better stuff it with cheese. What a revelation - cabbage has never been so good;
- Pork jowl, truffle soubise, spinach water, apple - a beautiful piece of meat with outstanding flavour and a high meat:fat ratio. The skin was delicious but could have used a little more crispness;
- Truffle spatchcock breast & sausage, parsnip, black tea, pear - probably the dish where the truffle stood out most to me, layered in the roasting of the exceptionally cooked bird;
- Truffle textures, icecream, tapioca, cheesecake - a hint of truffle in the crisps and icecream (which unfortunately was melting too quickly) and a lightly textured cheesecake finished off the formalities.

Petit four (white chocolate truffles) giving credit to the other (less expensive) sort of truffle. If you were wondering, the black stuff wasn't edible. I tried.

There is no doubt the food quality and cooking at The Boat House is excellent. Maybe it's my taste buds but I didn't discern distinct truffle flavour in each dish and for that reason I was slightly disappointed. I think I'd have been happier paying less for the same set course without truffle added. Maybe I've been launching raids on street and comfort food for too long now. 

Nonetheless I'll be back.

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Masai Mara Manyatta Camp, Masai Mara 09-2013

Much more simple setting, small buffet with slightly more local-type food, paid for a short walking tour to the local Masai village - be aware of being asked/pushed to pay more to see things or buy trinkets whilst walking.

The Masai Mara itself - how can you compare? River crossings, animals everywhere, a bit of bustle with other vehicles but all in good nature.

Ndutu Safari Lodge, Ndutu 08-2013

This lodge has basic stone huts rather than a tent in the middle of open plains, lots of little colourful birds flying around.

I was very reluctant to come to this park enroute to Serengeti especially given how quiet of animals it was at the start, but turned out to be a park isolated from other vehicles and came across a herd of elephants and pride of lions lounging around then facing off.