Sunday, March 28, 2010

La Grande Bouffe, The Essential Ingredient, Birkenhead Point make for a nice day off work

        I've just realised I have a whole week's backlog worth of photos/things to blog about since last weekend. Where do I start??? If I could I would combine in all into one super duper long blog entry but really... I can't do that... it'll be overload. The ideal would be to start from last Sunday and work my way through chronologically, but I don't really want to do that. So I will start with what I did on my day off work on Friday.

        Our first stop for the day was The Essential Ingredient at Rozelle. Since this place had moved to Rozelle from Chatswood I kept driving past but never been in. As we were a little early for brunch/lunch I thought we could kill two birds with one stone and pop by for a visit seeing as it's only across the road from our lunch destination. Upon stepping through the entrance I could tell this was a foodie's haven. All the latest gadgets and appliances, cooking utensils, gourmet foods, cake decorating supplies, cook books, even Ryan was pretty happy to be there. I swear I would be happy if this place was my home. I was just in awe and inspired by everything there. If I could afford it I'd buy everything in the whole shop! But then I would have the problem of where to store everything so living there sounds justifiable =D. They even had their own cafe and while I was browsing Ryan spotted some organic cola they were selling and just had to try some. It was good. To try and describe it the taste would be similar to LA Ice. I prefer this taste over Coke.

        At about 11:40 we headed across the road to La Grande Bouffe where we wanted to have brunch. We'd been here twice before for dinner and it's become a little favourite of ours for when we want to eat something special. Having had read their breakfast and lunch menus I was curious and wanted to visit again during the day. According to their website breakfast was served until 10:30 and Lunch was served from 12. As we had arrived in between they were still only taking orders from the breakfast menu and upon looking at both bthe menus we decided to wait the 15 minutes until we could order from the lunch menu.

        I asked our waitress what fresh juices were on offer and as soon as watermelon was mentioned Ryan jumped to order one, I said "make that 2 please". Love love love fresh watermelon juice, it's so refreshing and yummy when they use quality watermelon. That's an appliance that I am missing at home, a juicer.

The view of the Darling Street behind me.

        While waiting for 12 we ordered some toasted brioche with butter and jam. It was a fairly buttery bread, tasted like a cross between white bread and buttery pastry. The jam was top quality stuff and was absolutely delicious spread over the butter on the toast.

        Ryan decided to have the "Cassoulet of Corn fed Chicken Maryland". The meat was very tender, the skin was absolutely crispy, just the way I like it! Reminded me of the Vietnamese crispy skinned chicken I always tend to order when we eat out. It was served on a bed of beans and some chunks of pancetta. Ryan commented that it would have been better served on a cooler/colder day. He wasn't expecting this to come out when ordering it. And it did turn out to be a very very warm day. He enjoyed it none the less and was even nice enough to give me a few nibbles of it here and there.

        I have been craving a good baguette for a while now and was pulled towards the baguettes on offer on the menu. All the salads sounded quite interesting too. I ended up chosing the "Duck Confit Baguette with Cornichon". The duck was tender and moreish and the little pickles added a nice contrast. I really enjoyed my baguette.

        After our lunch we made our way back to The Essential Ingredient so that I could pick up a few things seeing as our conversation during lunch on what we wanted to do for the rest of the day was sounding like we wouldn't really be coming back past this way. I picked up small bar of Belgium chocolate which we had to eat straight away because my car was scorching hot by the time we hopped back into it. It was a quite smooth chocolate, not too sweet, and contained small pieces of cocoa beans (from Ghana) mixed through which I found quite enjoyable.

        I also picked up some other goodies consisting of a packet of Roses de Reims biscuits, a small tub of rose buds and a box of Rocher Noisette, hazelnut biscuits. The Roses de Reims remind me of the sponge lady finger biscuits. The rose buds end up on the top of some rosewater cupcakes I make the next day.

        Our original plan was to go shopping at Birkenhead Point as Ryan was finding that his waredrobe was a little bare. While having lunch we agreed it was a bit of a waste of a day to be spending it in a shopping centre so we drove to the city with the intention of visiting the Crypt of St Mary's Cathedral (yeah a bit ironic seeing as we didn't want to be indoors). After driving around the block a few times we finally found a parking spot and paid for two hours worth of parking time and headed towards St Mary's Cathedral. When we got there we found a note to say the Crypt was closed and the lady at the gift shop confirmed it. Ryan was really disappointed that he couldn't take me into the Crypt. We thought that seeing as we had originally planned to go to Birkenhead Point and having our Plan B go to dust we hopped in the car and headed back in that direction.

        I love going shopping on a weekday. There's no crowds and queues so you can shop to your hearts content without having to push your way through other people. I think we ended up spending about two hours or a so and managed to grab a few bargains between us. There's currently a big sale on with some stores offering 40-50% off marked prices. If you have a day off during the week definately head down there for some bargains. Two things I love, good food and good bargains. We pretty much shopped and dropped and were pretty exhausted by the time we left. Not before stopping by one of the cafes for a quick snack before our long drive back to Strathfield. I can't remember the name of the cafe but it's on the ground floor where the big open area is of the complex. Opposite Nine West shoes. Ryan grabbed a proscuitto and pesto ciabatta roll and I had a ricotta canolli and a lemon ice tea. We weren't expecting much but they were good. After a big day out the rest of the day was spent at home chilling out in front of the TV and eating leftovers.

La Grande Bouffe on Urbanspoon


Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I love watermelon juice too. You can also make it with a blender or large food processor and a sieve. We did that when we lent someone our juicer! :)

Amy @ cookbookmaniac said...

I know what you mean about how you are quite happy for it to be your home. I could happily camp out at Peters of Kensington for an indefiante period of time. I will have to visit The Essential Ingredient soon.

Melissa @ The Essential Ingredient said...

Hi Angie!

Glad you enjoyed your trip to the new Essential store in Rozelle.

Did you know those Biscuits rose de Reims are perfect for dipping into a glass of champagne? Give it a try as it's absolutely delicious!

Belle@Ooh, Look said...

What I would give to have a day off to go shopping! Sounds like you got lots of good things. I must remember that cafe at Birkenhead Pt, as most of the food court there is abysmal.

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

Ahh it's been ages since I've had a good shop-around at Birkenhead. Have yet to check out the new Essential Ingredient but it's a nice stop-over on the way to/from bargain shopping. Brunch at La Grande Bouffe sounds like the perfect round-off to a great day off indeed!

chocolatesuze said...

love shopping on weekdays too! and the cassoulet looks awesome

Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said...

Hi Lorraine: Yes, Ryan is the one who has got me hooked on watermelon juice, anything watermelon really. But it's just so much easier with a juicer =)

Hi Amy: I felt like I could stay at the store forever or take everything home with me. I need to sort through all the "junk" I have at home though then maybe I can start buying the store =D

Hi Melissa: Thanks for the tip, will have to get a bottle of bubbly for the weekend ;)

Hi Belle: Yes, days off work are great! I hate shopping on the weekends so am usually nowhere near the shops. I don't know if that cafe was the greatest but it would definately be better than the food court stuff.

Hi Helen: They've just had a massive makeover so it all looks quite flash. And Essential Ingredient is not too far too so you could do both in one day if time allows =)

Hi Suze: Isn't it awesome to have the whole place all to yourself? (Well almost all but definately alot less people around pushing and shoving).