WOW!! Did we have an awesome day or what? We love Frogmore Creek so much that we affectionately call them Froggies.
Our first food experience at Froggies was Saturday Dec 20th 2014: We had a delicious & amazing degustation with matching wines & asked to meet the chef to thank him. We were told by our waiter Stephen that the chef had to do his hair first, which of course was a big joke, because his hair is so short!! Anyway the chef – Ruben Koopman came & sat at the table with us & had a chat & a wine. We were moved outside to the deck with Ruben & more wine to continue our chat, of course it came up in conversation that between the 4 of us we had won 2 lunches at Heston’s Fat Duck pop up in Melbourne in 2015. Ruben even showed us Heston’s phone number on his phone!! How we all wish we had photographic memories 🙂 We ended up staying an extra couple of hours & joined the Froggies wine club too! (I believe this experience is the prequel to my epic foodie year of 2015)
The memories of the lego dessert & our first lunch at Froggies Dec 2014
So back to our chef’s table lunch Jan 17th 2016. It was delicious, fun, surprising & amazing, 16 courses with matching wines, $200 well spent (& you even get a 10% discount if you are a member of the Froggies wine club) I was so happy it included my favourite dessert – the lego dessert. There was even an eatable frog on one of the dishes – so cute! Wasabi macaroons, a delicious meringue burger with pork belly with truffle aioli & fries. I would recommend this experience for sure, so much thought & effort is put into each & every dish! Plus it was Jo’s birthday & they brought out an extra special birthday dish just for her & we all sang Happy Birthday! And then as it is tradition when Ruben & Stephen are at Froggies we must have a catch up chat & wine on the deck before going home! Froggies has awesome food & wine but this would be nothing without the experience, all the staff are so wonderful – it feels like we are visiting old friends! You do need to pre book the chef’s table & it is only available on certain days. I’m looking forward to more delicious, magical hours at Froggies when they release their next menu!
What a perfect end to a delicious meal at the chef’s table!
Yes, it’s been on the “to do list” for a rather long time & finally it’s here – my food blog!!
Over the next few days/weeks I am going to recount my epic foodie adventures from this year; there have been highs, lows, laughs & tears – but I wouldn’t change a thing!
2015 The year of the gourmet food journey – It started in Jan with my French recipe challenge, over 50 delicious recipes cooked in the Thermomix – click here to see them all 🙂
This year I’ve been lucky enough to earn Thermomix trips to the Gold Coast in March & Paris in September with a few quick stops and food tours through, Nice, northern Italy & London. I had 4 trips to Melbourne including 2 lunches at Heston’s Fat Duck restaurant. I’ve attended multiple cooking classes; I’ve run both healthy & decadent cooking classes, met amazing chefs & waiters/waitresses, submitted recipes for a local Garlic Feast cookbook. I even auditioned for Masterchef!! And another dream came true – I have been recipe testing for my Thermomix foodie hero Dani Valent – author of my 2 favourite books – the In the Mix Cookbooks. (Sign up to her newsletter to get awesome free recipes!)
I bought my digital SLR camera in March & in the 2nd half of the year completed a TAFE photography course & 2 food styling & photography courses. (One with JJ from 84th & 3rd & 1 with Michelle Crawford from Hugo & Elsa) I have bought too many cookbooks to count, washed too many dishes and tasted the most amazing food ever!! At times this year I was known as the crazy Thermomix lady with 4 Thermomix!! I have delivered over 80 Thermomix this year to lots of happy customers too!
To say I am completely grateful is a huge understatement -through all these adventures I’ve had my family, friends & Thermomix customers by my side to enjoy all the delicious foodie fun, wine, coffee & the instaspam. Yes I may currently have a bit of a food baby, but I am happy right here, right now in my food coma, looking back on the most epic foodie year I have ever had! Plus this year is not over; the saga continues………..
I will be at the Taste of Tasmania on the 29th & 30th Dec 2015 presenting a 1 hour cooking segment with my friends using delicious Tasmanian cheeses, see you there for more delicious fun!!
A girls road trip to Deloraine with Ellie & Sarah to the most magic place The Black Hen for a styling lunch with Michelle Crawford author of the book A Table in the Orchard & her own blog Hugo & Elisa.
Michelle gave us some tips, ideas & suggestions for styling and then it was time to play!
We were given produce & props; ready set style & shoot!!
I was drawn to the broad beans – Ellie & I got to work 🙂
Chillies & spices
Here are some scenes other groups created
Very important now – Lunch – Julie from the Black Hen had prepared us an amazing feast, now we all helped to set & style the table.
Then the food
Let’s style some pears & some desserts
I was really happy with my tea & biscuits shot 🙂
And I took a picture os Ellie’s styled waffle too!
We had had such a wonderful time, learnt so much & also made some new friends.
We did a spot of shopping at the Black Hen shop before we left with our bags full, minds full of inspiration & bellies full of delicious food.
I have been so excited about this workshop & got to pick up our stylist & photographer for the weekend JJ of 84th & 3rd from the airport on Friday night & drove her down to Mussel Boys on the Tasman peninsula where chef Eloise Emmett was preparing food for a wonderful weekend of food styling & photography.
Day 1: We started with styling morning tea 🙂 Apple crumble cake -recipe from Ellie’s the real food for kids cookbook.
I made some dips in the Thermomix too 🙂
Lunch anyone?YUM!! You will never be hungry on a food styling workshop 😉
My most favourite salad ever Ellie’s Octopus Salad!!
I was so happy I was able to use the Thermomix for the creme’ patisserie & ganache for the sponge cake. Ellie even used it to make the sponge cake.
My happy accident arty cake shot 🙂
The amount of drooling happening while all the cameras were shooting the cake being assembled was intense & amazing!!
Oh & then we had to eat it of course!! I think I am in foodie heaven!!
(I will be adding in more photos of our G&T’s & our delicious dinner later on)
Breakfast shoot 🙂
Yes I got to use the Thermomix again for JJ’s green smoothie recipe – find it on her blog – link below.
We had an excursion to a local oyster farm, we had a shucking lesson & tasting with some more amazing sparkling wine from Bream Creek Vineyard.
I was so happy with this shot I actually printed out for my exhibition for TAFE & titled it “Taste of the Sea”
JJ tasting the best oyster of her life 🙂 You can buy her ceramic versions of the oysters to use as a salt dish on The Decadent Pantry.
We finished off our amazing weekend with a picnic – as soon as we set it up outside it started to rain & we had to bring it indoors to shoot it. (I will upload pictures of this soon)
I had the best time on this weekend, I learnt so much about styling & shooting made some new friends & not to mention the endless feast of the most amazing food & beverages. Very happy memories made indeed & I want to Thank Ellie & JJ so much for organising & running the event.
See JJ’s blog post here & Ellie’s post here which includes the video of the “The Shuck Off” oyster shucking race 🙂
This is my review I put on the Fat Duck facebook page 5 Stars – “The best foodie experience of my life, I feel so lucky to have dined here twice, it was so awesome I cried multiple times, absolutely a feast for the senses – the only thing that could have made it better, would have been to meet Heston himself. The service was outstanding, with such genuine care & attention to detail, we felt so spoilt & privileged to spend these fun, magical hours with such wonderful friends xx.”
Yes Suzie & I were back again at the Fat Duck just about 1 month before they move back to the UK & revamp the space into Dinner by Heston. Some people may ask why would you go twice? We would say why wouldn’t you? The universe had given us 2 tickets to The Fat Duck & who were we to argue? (See the post on our previous visit here) Our other 2 friends who put into the ballot had decided to go once each so this time we had our 2 Fat Duck virgin friends with us Charlie & Rosey. We have all been so excited for months & the day had finally arrived.
(Also FYI – note be careful when texting Fat Duck as the predictive text can do some funny things!!)
Keeping up with tradition – we needed to have a photo in the foyer of our hotel at The Crowne Metropole before heading over to The Fat Duck.
We were greeted at the entrance by Rachel & she remembered Suzie & I and welcomed us back, it was fun watching the newbies entering the ramp toward the restaurant we didn’t say anything to spoil the surprise but one of the girls bag’s accidentally touched the screen & the door opened quite quickly! We noticed that there were so many more puzzle pieces on the wall since our last visit. Suzie & I couldn’t tell if we were more excited about everything this time because we knew what was coming & we could watch our friends experiencing things for the first time.
We were given the massive book with all the wines & options we all decided on matching wines except Suzie, who having learnt from last time decided to stick with gin or bubbles. We had around 6.5 hours of 16 courses & drinks ahead of us. A tough job but someone’s gotta do it hey?
We were served our first course aerated beetroot with horseradish cream, amazing texture & flavour, just perfect for preparing us for what was to come.
I almost wet myself with excitement seeing the liquid nitrogen cart make its way toward us, so great watching our waiter Calum make our aperitif you could choose which flavour you like vodka and lime sour, gin tonic or grapefruit and tequila. First hesiphoned the mixture onto a spoon & then kept it moving in the liquid nitrogen bath. There was also a candle so the chosen flavour citrus zest was lit with candle to help infuse the flavour.
Nitro Poached Aperitifs
Each of us chose our flavour & we watched the reaction of Rosey & Charlie especially. This time I had a different flavour to last time trying the tequila & grapefruit.
We were instructed to put the whole thing in your mouth and then the cold “smoke” from the dry ice would come out your nostrils, it literally melted in your mouth. What a great way to awaken all the senses early on. This time around we noticed more things & asked different questions to last time appreciating everything just that little bit more.
Mustard ice cream with red cabbage soup was our next course, this looks like something achievable we could make at home, did I mention that they have 8 Thermomix in the kitchen?
Next our trio of “icy poles” I really loved the chicken liver pate one that looked like a golden Gaytime and the smoked salmon and the horseradish swirl and of course there was the one that look like the rocket ship that was the flavour of A waldorf salad.
We told the girls about our fun last time, one of our waiters Cameron (he was given the nickname Cambo by Suzie) gave us our “lollipops” and explained that you could either lick or suck them and of course we burst out laughing making him blush! So not only were we experiencing the amazing food all over again but also enjoying the reactions of our friends but we also were remembering our last time at The Fat Duck only a couple of months ago. Suzie & I seemed to take extra care to eat each thing really slowly & really soak up the flavours & atmosphere.
Oh goodie gum drops our “Fat duck films” arrived on a bed of moss – Suzie & I looked at each other going OMG we are soooo excited but we didn’t spoil the surprise for the others. Next our plates arrives & I noticed they were slightly different than our previous time, served on a board. It has a truffle toast & marron cream. We were instructed to put the film into our mouth as our waiter poured a tea pot of water on to the moss container to make the cold smoke come out all over the table to us all, a true theatrical genius. I think I may be slightly addicted to liquid nitrogen & dry ice – WOW factor. The girls really enjoyed it too. The expression “savour the flavour” springs to mind.
Smokey, crusty sourdough bread with butter & salt YUM!! And bonus the waiters came over with their table scrapers to clean up all the crumbs. And you could have extra bread & butter if you wanted it too!!
Snail porridge – was emotional as I watched Charlie taking her first tastes of the dish & tears welling up & she explained to me she had had a similar snail dish with her Dad. I’m a sympathetic cryer at the best of times – let’s just say it was a special memory created from Charlie’s memory as we savoured this vibrant green snail porridge dish with amazing flavour & texture.
Our next delicious course was Roast Marron with Shitake, Confit Kombu & Sea Lettuce, served with sake – so good!!
The Mad Hatters Tea Party is just so much fun! And our favourite waiter from last time Cambo just started his shift too 🙂 This time (no pun intended) I noticed you could hear the watches ticking in the case!! We were served our Mock Turtle Soup, Pocket Watch & Toast Sandwich (which included more truffles!!) So delicious & so much effort & thought put into every part of the dish.
My favourite dish was The Sound of the Sea, because of the memories I have of the sea, I just love being near the ocean & I love all the elements of this dish especially the seashells with iPods inside that play the sound of the ocean. This is such a magic part of the dish, it created a quiet calm space to experience the dish. As a child I used to love holding up a shell to my ear to hear the sound of the ocean. I have always felt most alive when at the beach or in or on the ocean 🙂 I felt so grateful to experience this dish for the 2nd time – I ate every piece slower than before, watching the smiles on my friend’s faces, we enjoyed the serenity that the sound of the sea brings. It was an absolute pleasure to have all the senses evoked in one dish, yes tears of joy welled in my eyes, as I remembered the last time I ate the dish with my friends too. (See my poem at the end of the post)
Salmon Poached in a Liquorice Gel: Endive, Vanilla Mayonnaise & Golden Trout Roe – The 2 Fat Duck Virgins got this delicious dish……..
And as a surprise for Suzie & I, we were served something different from last time Roast John Dory; Mushroom Carpaccio, Mussels, Jelly of Verjus.
Our last savoury dish was THE DUCK a new dish to the menu too – last time we had a lamb dish – this was a fun delicious dish with a few intriguing elements.
The Duck – Blood Pudding, Chicory & Green Coffee
Duck Crackling (I think)
Hot & Iced Tea, this really messes with your mind 🙂
Surprise!! Another special dish for Suzie & I because it was our 2nd visit so we got the golden nest & “egg”- It’s proper name on the menu was Eggs in Verjus (c.1726), Verjus in Egg (c.2013). It really looked like an egg, but you could eat the whole thing!! It was a coconut panna cotta, a verjus egg yolk, and a multi-layered chocolate egg shell, we were so blown away & later saw the dish as a pressure test on MasterChef in 2016.
Our friends got the Boytrytis Cinerea dish that was the pressure test Billie won on MasterChef 2015. We had no idea just how difficult the dish was to prepare when we ate it! (nicknamed by Suzie the celebration of the balls – see the post for our previous visit)
It had started to get dark & we were about to tuck into The Not So Full English Breakfast – it started with Heston Cereal, including a puzzle piece for the puzzle mural on the wall behind us. The cereal was dried carrot & parsnip & was served with parsnip milk. Then Cambo came over again with the nitro “scrambled egg” ice cream station, they had filled eggs or made their own fat duck eggs with a magical custard filling & “cooked” it in front of us, it was served on brioche & topped with crispy pancetta. We also had an earl grey marmalade with a white chocolate lid YUM! Because we had run out of time for a tour of the kitchen 🙁 Cambo took my phone into the kitchen to get us some photos & selfies with the others. Notice the 2 Thermomix on the bench 🙂
There was a special order to eat the whisky wine gums. I won’t say who it was but someone dropped one of the gums while trying to eat it & then they couldn’t find where it went until we were finalising our bill at the end, it had stuck onto their clothing!! 🙂
No the last dish was here!! We didn’t want it to end, because we were having so much fun. The dish was called “Like a Kid in a Sweet Shop” featuring eatable playing card & a couple of other chocolates. It also included a sealed copy of the menu.
Apparently there were a few people that got to attend the Fat Duck Melbourne pop up twice & only 1 person that went 3 times.
Yes we were the last to leave again before the dinner service & saw the waiting staff ironing the tablecloths & resetting the tables. We said goodbye to our waiters & waitresses, it was like saying goodbye to friends. Another wonderful dream was over & it is something I will never forget, I just love how Heston delights in using people’s childhood memories to enhance a dish & now we will leave with our own special memories of delicious food enhanced by amazing friends. We call ourselves the Fat Duckers- don’t get those letters mixed up please! In one word it was AWESOME!!
(We had to write our version of a Gilbert & George piece for our TAFE Art History class & I chose to write mine on the Sound of The Sea Experience at the Fat Duck)
May I describe to you with
words a special moment which began
on a Tuesday in
May of 2015 I had just been served
a beautiful delicious plate of art
accompanied by headphones coming
out of a shell, the calming sound of waves
brought a stillness that heightened all the senses
Oh WOW, someone pinch me – 4 awesome friends – we all entered the ballot to win a table at the Fat Duck pop up in Melbourne, (along with thousands of other people), we said whoever wins it will take the others & we won it twice!! I still remember where I was when I found out, Nicole & I just burst into tears of joy & excitement when Charlie rang to tell us. Then Nicole got her email later the same day to say we got another spot – 2 lunches, one in May & one in July. Suzie & I decided we had to go twice (more Heston meeting opportunities!!) Oh and an interesting fact they have 8 Thermomix in the restaurant – it just became a work trip – the lengths I will go to, I’m such a dedicated Thermomix consultant. The $500 per meal was an investment in our culinary education & there is no way I have ever regretted it. The foodgasms, memories & tears of joy will last forever! I will be telling my grand – kids about the 2 times I dinned at the Fat Duck, if they will care to listen 🙂
Unfortunately this was the closest I got to meeting or even seeing Heston in real life!!
Jo even booked hair & make up for 9am!! Suzie & I did ring our hairdresser to make sure we had done our hairstyles right for our big adventure! We all met a 1/2 hour before our booking for a celebratory glass of bubbles. Is this really happening?? Dreams become reality?! Will Heston be there?? OMG I can’t breathe I’m so excited!! I even brought my Heston books for him to sign in case he was in town. I wanted to bring my model 5 Thermomix for him to sign too but thought that might be over the top – just slightly?! (As it turned out Heston was not in town for our visit, we had just missed him!!)
A surprise entrance to The Fat Duck
Then we were taken to our seats & given the extensive wine list bible!! We had a glass of champagne to mark the extra special occasion and we met our amazing waiters and sommelier – we all decided on matching wines and then the first course was upon us – Aerated beetroot with horseradish cream – Melt in the mouth flavour bomb! This set the scene – we were in for the foodgasm of our life!
Our waitress arrived with a trolley with liquid nitrogen and a siphon you could choose which flavour Nitro Poached Aperitif you would like: vodka and lime sour, gin & tonic or tequila & grapefruit. The girls choose Gin & tonic & I choose the grapefruit one. I had tears in my eyes it was so awesome! It was so cool (pardon the pun) because you got to watch each one being made at the table & then watch each friends reaction. It was like being a dragon you have to put the whole thing in your mouth and then the cold “smoke” from the dry ice would come out your nostrils, it was an amazing start to our wonderful afternoon.
Red Cabage Gazpacho with Pommery Grain Mustard Ice Cream
Our next dish, did I mention there were 16 courses? How perfect are those quenelles of mustard ice-cream? An amazingly, gorgeous balanced dish.
One of our waiters name was Cameron – he was given the nickname Cambo fairly early on (he was one of the few Aussies in the Fat Duck team). Cambo gave us our frozen savoury icy poles know as lollies and explained that you could either lick or suck them, we of course we burst out laughing & even made poor Cambo blush. They were actually so delicious I really loved the chicken liver pate one that looked like a golden gaytime and the salmon and horseradish swirl and of course there was the one that looked like the rocket ship that was the flavour of a waldorf salad. This was one of my new favourite dishes!!
Ok so I might need to change that this is my new favourite dish!! Jelly of Quail, Marron Cream. Caviar Sorbet, Oak Moss & Truffle Toast (homage to Alain Chapel)
We were first presented a tray of moss & these Fat duck films in the middle of the table, they served the dishes in front of us & told us to eat the film & as we did this our waiter poured water from the tea pot into the moss to create a magical sensory moment, cold “smoke” came out it was like it was infused with truffle or maybe that was just the smell coming from the dish in front of us so earthy, it was absolutely intoxicating and dramatic. Did I mention how much I love truffles?
We thought our table must be the most excited table there with our exclamations of oohs, ahhhs & WOWS!! We tried so hard not to watch other tables that were ahead of us in the service, so we didn’t spoil our surprise but that was way too difficult. We also had quite moments where we carefully tasted the amazing food with lots of mmmmm’s happening.
Something as simple as freshly made butter, top quality salt & bread was so seriously good!! Smoky sourdough bread, so crusty it made lots of crumbs on the table cloth, lucky they had a very posh device to scrape the crumbs off the table!!
I don’t recall having eaten snails before now but of all the iconic Heston dishes to be served today this did have me intrigued. I am happy to report that the Snail Porridge (Joselito Ham, Shaved Fennel) was absolutely delicious, a gorgeous green colour and amazing fresh flavours and textures.
Roast Marron – Shiitake, Confit Kombu and Sea Lettuce – Art on a plate – but everything on the plate has a purpose, flavour, texture to marry the whole dish together. Umami at the best; such delicate care & precision has gone into each & every dish so they all look & taste the same.
MAD HATTERS TEA PARTY! Jo was so excited for the Mock Turtle Soup she burst into tears of excitement as soon as the first part came to the table!! A glass tea cup with a quail egg & miniature mushrooms with such tiny details. Our waiter Cambo opened his case filled with gold Pocket Watches and these all went into an individual glass teapot of hot water, you jiggled the watch like a tea bag to reveal the watch was actually covered with gold leaf an included the most amazing mock turtle soup broth. Oh and did I mention in the centre of the table there was placed a mad hatters platter complete with hat & the most delectable toast sandwiches you have ever tasted!
The Sound of the Sea – I knew this would be the dish that I would absolutely love, uncontrollable silent tears of joy streamed down my face, and I do not apologise in any way for this reaction to a dream come true to be fully immersed in a dish I have looked forward to experiencing for so long. I also have so many fond memories & connections with the sea. (As I write this I am welling up all over again.) Nicole had tears too as she revisited precious memories of her grandfather shucking oysters on the seashore. It was truly amazing to hear the sound of the sea, to see your beautiful plate in front of you and to smell and taste the wonderful textures and flavours. It was a moment of pure serenity – the calm & quiet relaxing sound of the waves, brought about quite a sereal moment of being in the present moment, eating mindfully with the energy of the busy restaurant completely out of your mind. The sound of the sea in our ears was all we could hear as we calmly slowly & carefully tasted our plate. I didn’t want this moment to end. This is my happy place. We watched each other’s reactions without speaking. I really felt like I was on the seashore – an edible wave in front of me complete with foam, the crunch of eating “sand”, soft & salty sea sponge & fresh seafood. Our waiter even brought us some tissues. We did ask if we could keep the seashells but we did have to give them back unfortunately.
Salmon poached in a Liquorice Gel: Endive, Vanilla Mayonnaise and Golden Trout Roe: This amazing salmon dish was gorgeous delicious beautiful!! Oh & Cambo showed us his pocket watch – apparently all the waiters have them 🙂
Lamb with Cucmber: Green Pepper and Caraway. A lamb dish that looks like an amazing piece of art, included lambs hearts & lungs – Suzie who had previously been a vegetarian had no idea what she was eating, thank goodness!
Hot & Iced Tea – this messes with your mind!! Just like the Katy Perry song it’s hot & it’s cold!!
Now onto desserts, the Botrytis Cinerea as seen & made on Masterchef 2015 later in the year was simply stunning – another gorgeous art piece that tastes amazing with awesome texture and technique, beyond belief. You can see how it was made to look like grapes on a vine, and for some weird reason it got the nickname of the celebration of the balls?!
The Not-So-Full English Breakfast: We had a delicious breakfast a cereal box with Heston on the front – the cereal was dried carrots & parsnips and a the special milk bottle was filled with parsnip milk. The earl grey infused marmalade jam with edible chocolate lid and our wonderful waitress brought a trolley along with more liquid nitrogen and cooked special bacon & egg ice cream with “scrambled” Fat Duck Eggs and served with crispy pancetta on brioche. It was so amazing, with surprise, theatrics & taste sensation all rolled into one.
Whisky Wine Gums – with one of the whiskies even from Tasmania!
Hooray, we got to go into the kitchen & meet the chefs including head chef Jonny Lake oh & they all signed our Heston cook books!!
Last but not least the final course – Like a Kid in a Sweet Shop – amazing sweets to take home or eat at The Fat Duck 🙂
Tea & coffee, yes please – it means we can stay just a little bit longer – I don’t want this epic foodie journey to be over NOOOOO you can’t make me leave – oh Rachel is ironing the table cloths for the next dinner seating which is just moments away!
Our final moments at the Fat Duck Melbourne; we were the last to arrive for the lunch service & the last to leave. Our puzzle pieces are added to the big puzzle, a cheeky selfie from Cambo, we said our goodbyes to our new Fat Duck friends with Suzie & I warning them – we would be back in July!! What on earth could anyone ever do after almost 7 hours of such pure foodie heaven? Watch out for the next post with our The Fat Duck – the sequel post!!
My 5 Star review on the The Fat Duck at the Crown facebook page: “I’m in my happy place at the Fat Duck, I feel so lucky to have dined here for lunch. Heston thank you for creating this epic fun filled delicious foodie journey for us to enjoy. Your team are absolutely awesome & made our experience so special. I can’t wait to meet you some day soon, so I can thank you in person.”
(Jo was very lucky to get the last table at the last sitting at the Fat Duck Melbourne which was actually the Fat Duck’s 20th birthday so they had a 20 course meal with a few different dishes & some of the same – she will appear on episode 3 of the series Inside Heston’s World, keep an eye out!)