Disclosure: I was invited to the below venues as a guest
DE MAD HATTER
747 Collins Street
I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date! No time to say goodbye, good day, I'm late, I'm late, I'm late!
…is what I was yelling the whole time I drove into the city on a gloomy morning.
Normally I'm a great morning person with no problems getting up, but on this particular day, my alarm hadn't been set properly…so I was late for a breakfast at De Mad Hatter, located on the border of the city and the Docklands. The irony right?
Fortunately as I flew through the doors, huffing and puffing, I hadn't missed out too much and got to quickly dig into an absolutely delicious home-made bircher museli topped with yoghurt and fresh fruit. Served up elegantly, looking more like dessert than breakfast, it was fruity and sweet, and oh so smooth on the palate. A seriously lovely way to start the day, and I was honestly quite full by the time I finished it…but on to dish number two…
We coined a new term (for us anyway) at De Mad Hatter as we evaluated our dishes based on their 'bacon value', and at De Mad Hatter, there was great 'bacon value' with just about all the dishes loaded up with generous thick rashers of bacon.
I had opted for 'Alice's Brunch' with corn fritters, tomato chutney, rocket, fresh avocado and of course, loads and loads of bacon. Whilst the corn fritters were slightly on the soggy side, which is not so much my thing, they still tasted great and I enjoyed the tangy tomato chutney.
16 Liverpool Street
I seem to have a late trend running through this post, as I was also late to my dinner at Ruyi (although at least this time, the host knew I was going to be late), I'm not usually like this, I swear!
I had last visited Ruyi for the launch back in summer, where I had had little nibbles on their dumplings, but hadn't had the opportunity to have a sit down and try out the dinner experience.
It's also nice to see how a restaurant is designed to be set up with all the tables and chairs in place, during the launch, everything had been put out of the way to allow for a standing room. It does have quite a lovely and pleasant ambience, despite it also being quite neat and modern, I guess there's a zen quality to the interiors.
Even though I arrived late, the group was kind enough to create an impromptu tasting plate for me (which we reckon Ruyi should just offer as a menu item…watch this space!) From lovely soft bao to chicken wings and pan fried dumplings. I really enjoyed the soft shell crab, which has been fried in a gluten free batter, which is most uncommon, but very, very welcome! Delightfully light.
There's obviously a lot of care in Ruyi's food, aiming to make it as accessible as possible (most fried items are in gluten free batters, like this very impressive looking snapper), and not taking short cuts to flavour, breaking through the Chinese stereotype of MSG-ing all the things. It's refreshing to see.
And although we were full (as always), you can't miss at least a bite of dessert, this particular night's delight was the warm sticky rice pudding, with a coconut sauce and vanilla ice-cream. It's quite a rich dessert, so maybe not the best if you're feeling quite full, but it is delicious, with a lovely nuttiness to it, the ice-cream giving it a bit of lightness.
Can you believe I hadn't been to the Good Food and Wine Show before this year? What a bad food loving person I am!
And goodness! So much awesome! I couldn't believe how busy the cheese alleys were, and how much wine Ricky and I managed to consume. In particular this Mr. Black coffee liqueur (how cute is the bottle?) and the lychee cider I came across were two stand outs for me…although I couldn't resist picking up several bottles of Pizzini either…
It's really a bit overwhelming, especially when it's your first time visiting, but it's also a massive rush. Ricky and I just had no idea what we wanted to see, try and buy!
Besides there being lots and lots of things to eat and drink (we even had alpaca dumplings!), there's naturally a plethora of demonstrations and interactive activities to take part in. I was fortunate enough to be invited by Barilla to participate in one of their cooking classes where Ricky and I got to whip up a lovely warming plate of winter vegetables, with some Italian sausage and gluten free pasta (despite the both of us being a bit tipsy…silly Asians!).
I was super impressed with the gluten free pasta that Barilla had on offer (I hadn't even realised they offered gluten free options now), Ricky was surprised that it even was gluten free, as the texture didn't seem really any different to regular pasta (…from what I know anyway) and retained a lovely golden colour (apparently pasta that loses a lot of colour isn't good quality).
Pasta's easily one of my favourite things to make at home, since it can be so quick and so easy, and it's always lovely to know that I've got more pasta options now for my brother and I.
I think though next time I go to the Good Food and Wine Show, I will definitely aim to get there much earlier, as the crowds can be quite overwhelming and make it quite a job to navigate around (although I guess that's totally part of the excitement too…no?)