A La Folie – Magnifique Macarons & More

panda 4.5 rating
a la folie

Our Order with the Valrhona Hot Chocolate

Our Order with the Valrhona Hot Chocolate

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I have previously been in the South Yarra area and walked past the colourful and breathtaking A La Folie. You will find that people taking a glance at the window and then double back and stop and take a detailed look, and most of the time walking into the store to observe the delectable sweets up close and personal.

A La Folie which can loosely be translated to mean ‘madness’(in the context of love to mean that a person is madly in love) showcases Mercédé Coubard passion and love for baking and creating unique small French treats. Located in Chapel Street, South Yarra, A La Folie is a store that creates wonderful tasting Macaron, Petits Choux, slices and delicate French pastries. Coubard was trained at the Alain Ducasse culinary school and uses A La Folie to showcase her brilliant talent – even catering for special events such as weddings, engagements and birthdays – creating Petit Choux towers.

A La Folie is a type of place that makes you feel like you are in a cute little café right on the streets of Paris – complete with a backdrop of the Eiffel Tower coupled with cute little tables and chairs to match; dotted with red accents of color. Magnifique!

You cannot help by ooh and aah whilst looking through the glass display cases of the colourful macarons, slices and Petit Choux. All products are made in on offsite location and brought to A La Folie.
There are around 17 different macaron flavours to choose from which can include – Valrhona Caraibe Chocolate, Salted Caramel, Vanilla / Soft Caramel, Dulce Chocolate, Pistachio, Matcha / Red Currant, Guanaja / Orange Juice, Passionfruit Ganache, Coconut (Malibu), Grapefruit, Lemon Ganache, Fairy Floss, Blueberry Ganache, Strawberry Mint, Raspberry Ganache, Rose Delight and Champagne.
There are also a number of dainty looking Petit Choux to choose from – Chocolate Coconut, P125 Chocolate, Coffee, Madagascan Vanilla, Pistachio, Raspberry, Mango & Passionfruit, Salted Caramel and Praline – as well as daily special flavours for you to try out in combinations like Lime & Coconut.
A La Folie’s latest creations are the introduction of impressive looking Tarts – which can range from Mixed Fruit, Berry, Lemon Meringue just to name a few. There also is a combination of giant sized macarons and normal sized macarons; which come laced with extra buttercream/ganache in the centre and topped with a delicate decoration on top to match.

It really was a tough decision that A and I had to make to select which flavour macaron and petit choux we wanted to try – after much deliberation I decided on the Vanilla / Soft Caramel Macaron and the Pistachio Petit Choux. A picked the Soft Caramel Macaron and chose the flavour of the day special for her Petit Choux – Lime & Coconut. We also both chose to have the Valrhona Hot Chocolate which sounded amazing when Mercédé described it to us.

We were there on a Saturday around lunch time and thanks to the striking and colourful front window it really does draw in a crowd. Whilst we were there a tour group came in which was great as we got learn a bit about Mercédé and how she got into her love for baking. We even got to meet her daughter (who was working in store).

The macarons were perfect any way you looked at it – from the crispy thin egg-shell like meringue crust complete with chewy almond biscuit to the soft, smooth and flavoursome filling. My Vanilla / Soft Caramel macaron was divine – the perfect level of sweetness and the flavours of vanilla and caramel in perfect balance of each other.

The Petit Choux was decadent. The choux pastry was somewhat crunchy on the outside but light, soft, airy and tantalising on the inside giving way to the silky crème patissière. The crème patissière adds the vibrant burst of flavour once you take your first bite. My pistachio Petit Choux was blissfully delicious; the pistachio flavour delicate and vibrant all at the same time – topped with pistachio fondant and finished with a pistachio nut.

The Valrhona Hot Chocolate is definitely one for Chocoalate lovers – rich, silky and thick, finished with shavings of Valrhona chocolate. Both A and I needed some extra milk to dilute the richness – which allowed us to enjoy and appreciate the drink.

A La Folie also works together with Anthony Hart (Don’t Lose Your Temper – check out his website at http://dontloseyourtemper.com) – who has previously worked at Vue de Monde and The Press Club creating delightful, unique looking desserts – to create Premium Chocolate made specifically for A La Folie. Flavours include Poppin’ Bubble Gum Raspberry and Choc Riso Pops, as well as their very own version of a Wagon Wheel – made of marshmallow, raspberry jam, Turkish delight, rice shortbread and coated with white chocolate and popping candy.

A La Folie is a cute café that oozes French sophistication – the staff here are friendly and Mercédé herself is delightful to talk to. She really does love what she does and the fruition of her ideas that emanated into the standalone A La Folie store is magnificent. The sweet treats are delicious and made with natural and fresh ingredients wherever possible. Put some joy, fun and France into your life and visit A La Folie.

Disclaimer: Grazing Panda (& a guest) were invited to dine at A La Folie as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – A great variety and selection of sweet treats – including Macarons, Petit Choux and Tarts
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Feels like you are in a cafe on the streets of Paris
Service: Friendly, Warm and Welcoming
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.alafolie.com.au/
589 Chapel St, South Yarra
Tel No: 9827 3337

Opening Hours:
Sunday to Thursday : 10:00 am – 5:30 pm
Friday & Saturday : 10:00 am – 7:00 pm

A La Folie Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-La-Folie-Macarons-Petits-Choux/217631421649508
Instagram: macaronsandpetitschoux

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Fiesta Mexican – Spicy, Lively & Fun

panda 4.5 rating

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Menu:
Dessert Menu                       halal symbol
There is an increasing amount of halal restaurants that are opening up all around Melbourne, in fact all around the country! When we first came to Australia many years ago, halal restaurants were quite scarce – and to see them growing at an exponential rate is fantastic! And what I love is that it is not only restricted to the cuisines that you would normally associate with “halal” food such as middle eastern cuisine – but the cuisines itself have quite a variety as well – from Italian to Steakhouses!

When Bill Bilwani from Fiesta Mexican contacted me about coming to try out his restaurant and that the meat was entirely Halal I was wrapped! I am a huge fan of Mexican food and usually have to always stick to the seafood and vegetarian versions of the enchiladas, tacos etc – but with this restaurant being Halal I could experience what every other person gets to – the meat enchiladas, tacos etc! I headed down with my parents to experience this wonderful Mexican place for myself.

Fiesta Mexican has been around for just over 30 years and is located in Toorak Road in South Yarra. It is a family run business owned by Bill Bilwani with his son Shaheen helping out. The venue has had a makeover in the recent months and the result is a vibrant, colourful, mini-Mexico in Melbourne theme complete with psychedelic artwork which includes a hawk to the right when you enter as well as a woman with an eagle as her hair near the bar and counter area. There is mood lighting thanks to the Mexican Steer Bull shaped light shades – these look really cool lined up on the wall and further adding to the Mexican feel. There are wooden tables – each which have engraving on the table top – ours had a dancing Mexican lady – that can seat from 2 right up to 8 people depending on how large your group size is. We were seated at the front of the restaurant by the window – which allowed us to take in the whole length of the restaurant. There are stairs at the back which lead to a function area upstairs that can be booked out for celebrations. An interesting fact to note is that they have had celebrities like Lleyton Hewitt, Andre Agassi and even the Williams sisters come to dine here and there are some menu items named after them – the Agassi or Hewitt Burrito.

We were given our menus and I was overwhelmed by the choice and varieties before me – there were pages and pages of food to choose from and from reading the description of each I almost wanted a little taste of everything. There is an extensive range of tacos, burritos, fajitas, quesadillas, enchiladas as well as a good selection of desserts. There is also a separate Gluten Free menu, and they also cater for vegetarians, coeliac guests and vegans too. The Dine in Menu is split into different sections – Apertivos, Soft Tacos , Entremese (Entrees), Ensaladas (Salads), Comidas (Main Courses) as well as Paellas. The Paellas however need to be ordered 2 days in advance and there are two different options – Chicken or Seafood. There is also a banquette menu – one for $35 and one $45 – the latter has a more seafood feel to it and includes 2 desserts, whereas the other has only one dessert and more of a beef and chicken feel to it. There is also a section that lists out the Vegetarian Main courses. Fiesta Mexican also has a takeaway menu and provides a delivery service as well – further extending out their clientele.

Whilst trying to decide what to order I ordered a drink from the list of Mocktails they had to offer – Mango Margarita. This came out in a larger than normal cocktail glass with a green stem – which contrasted really well with the yellow drink – there was salt around the rim of the glass in true margarita style. The drink was refreshingly sour and I quite enjoyed it.

We decided to order the Wingettes – fiery red hot marinaded chicken wingettes with chipotle and adobe mix, as well as the Carne Enchilada de Cheddar – Oven baked 6” corn tortilla rolled with slow cooked shredded topside beef, Monterey Jack cheese, white onion and mild smoked cayenne sauce to share. The chicken wingettes were delicious and tasted – they had a smoky, spicy yet sweet taste to them with the chicken cooked perfectly. The chipotle added a refreshing hit to those who would find the wingettes spicy.

The Carne Enchilada was soft and really easy to cut into – almost like butter. The beef inside was just as soft and tender – and flavoured deliciously. The combination of the beef, onion and smoky sauce on top was like a flavour hit in your mouth. A great way to start the meal. Each of these dishes came with a side salad consisting of salad leaves, red onions, cucumber and tomato.

For mains we ordered three dishes to share. The first dish was the Fiesta Autentica – the house specialty, a combination of beef, chicken, potatoes, tomatoes, serrano chilli & fresh cilantro, delicious with flour tortillas, arroz verde & leaf salad. This was my favourite dish out of the three mains. The combination of both the beef, chicken and potatoes was fantastic and it had a great addition of spice. It actually reminded me of a dish that my mum used to make when I was younger so the memories it brought back were special too! The flour tortillas added the perfect addition to envelope this spicy tender mix and savor the flavours. Both the chicken and beef were tender and soft. If you love spicy dishes this is definitely one to try out.

The second of the mains we had was the Pollo Cajun – chicken breast coated in a blend of paprika, red pepper & garlic, served with, arroz verde & mango salsa. The coating on the chicken was delicious and really worked well with the texture of the chicken. The chicken wasn’t as tender as in the other dishes, however was still brilliant. The mango salsa was amazing as well – the spiciness mixed in with the sweetness of the mango worked well together. The rice – arroz verde -that came with these dishes were also really tasty – the rice grains were easily separated and was cooked pilaf style – my fave style of rice.

The last of the mains we ordered was the Carne En Tiras – two beef enchiladas with mild cayenne chilli sauce, served with brown rice & pico de gallo. This was similar to the entree that we had and was just as delicious – soft, spicy with a touch of smokines. The addition of the brown rice and pico de gallo was a great addition, and together with the enchiladas was tasty mouthful.

For dessert there was an interesting combination on the menu titled ‘Sensation is Mother of Invention’ – which had jalapeno, Rose Petal with Crunchy Candy Ice Cream – served with White chocolate and raisin sauce – however I wasn’t brave enough to see what that was about. We decided to order the ‘Crazy for Chocolate’ – chocolate mousse, chocolate dipped strawberries, chocolate heart and vanilla ice cream with chocolate flakes. This dish was plated out differently to most other desserts I have come across. The chocolate mousse was in a square glass cup, the vanilla ice cream was in a black espresso cup topped with a strawberry, the chocolate dipped strawberries were placed around with the chocolate heart in the centre of the plate – which served as the “tray” for the dessert. I really liked the presentation and thought it was unique. The chocolate mousse was to die for – creamy, smooth and full of chocolatey goodness. The dipped strawberries had dark chocolate used and the bitterness of the chocolate worked well against the sweetness of the strawberry.

The staff are really friendly and lively which really does add to the complete the atmosphere of the place. From the moment you step in, you are greeted with a happy hello and shown to your table. They seem to really enjoy what they do. We also got to chat to Shaheen for a bit and learnt more about of his passion and drive for being in the food industry despite completing a law degree. He is very engaging and full of smiles, and goes from table to table ensuring all the guests are looked after. Great customer service! Despite being a Wednesday night – the place got really full – with the crowd ranging from couples to larger groups out for dinner.

There were other really interesting dishes around the room that other diners had ordered – such as the sizzling hot plates, and a drink that was flamed. The food was great and stayed true to the authentic Mexican flavours, the atmosphere was fun and lively and the staff friendly. There really is nothing more you can ask for when you go to dine out. The fact that the meat was all halal was a massive bonus for me. If you love Mexican food and want a huge variety to choose from, either way Fiesta Mexican is definitely a place for you!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://www.fiestamexican.com.au/food_menu.php. If you want to order online you can do so on this link – http://www.menulog.com.au/order/fiesta-mexican-restaurant Refer above for the dessert menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Lively, Fun and Welcoming. You can definitely experience the Mexican vibe be it in the main dining rom or even in the function room located upstairs
Standout Dish:Fiesta Autentica – the house specialty, a combination of beef, chicken, potatoes, tomatoes, serrano chilli & fresh cilantro, delicious with flour tortillas, arroz verde & leaf salad
Service: Fantastic –  Friendly and Welcoming. They also are great if you need any recommendations on what to order
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.fiestamexican.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.fiestamexican.com.au/
175 Toorak Rd, South Yarra
Tel No: 9827 4593

Opening Hours:

Fiesta Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Teppankai – Contemporary Japanese

panda 4 rating

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Teppankai is the idea from Malaysian born Richard Tan to create a Japanese fine-dining experience in Melbourne. Located just behind the bustling Chapel Street in South Yarra – Teppankai is both an a la carte and teppenyaki Japanese restaurant.  I was invited to a Blogger’s night to trial the new menu that was being put into place and was excited to see what the night had in store.

Richard and his childhood friend (from New Zealand) are the creators behind this venue and he explained the meaning of Teppankai – the first two characters of the Japanese logo mean open-grill and the third character “Kai” – translates to ocean in Japanese but also means food in Maori. The name needed to reflect the blending of the Japanese and New Zealand cultures and as a result means “seafood grilled on a plate. “

Teppankai was designed by the award winning retail and hospitality architect, Wayne Finschi. The entrance has an alfresco outdoor dining area complete with heaters and clear “curtains” to aid out the weather elements if it is raining or windy. It is also a great option on a sunny summery day – letting the natural sunlight in as you dine or even have drinks. As you walk into the restaurant thru the timber posts you are greeted with tones of red and black.  There is a private dining area to the right which has tables for a more intimate dinner. The main feature is located past the bar to the left of the entrance – which is the Teppanyaki grill which takes up the length of the restaurant – surrounded by chairs and tables just behind the main grill so you can watch as the chef prepares your meals in front of you.

The focus of Teppankai isn’t all the fun, tricks and throwing of food that comes with the association of Teppanyaki but there is more focus on creating beautiful dishes with great technique and skill together with the importance of being attentive to customers and providing great service.

The chef is Nooei Martens who has 25 years hospitality knowledge specialised in Japanese Cuisine, Teppanyaki and Asian Cuisine. He has used his experience in the food industry to create traditional Japanese meals but in a contemporary style.

The night starts off with a Starter dish of Horenso Ohistahi – Chilled Blanched Spinach & Shitake Mushroom in Light Soy. This comes served in a small stone dish with the brightness of the green spinach standing out against the black dish. The dish was a great starter to get the palate working thanks to the light soy sauce.

The next four dishes were classified as entrée dishes and are part of their new tapas style menu. The first entrée dish served up was Salmon Carpaccio – Salmon Sashimi with Tosazu & Micro Shisho. The salmon was of great quality and literally melted in your mouth. Each individual slice of salmon came with a wedge to add extra acidity and tang.  The tosazu sauce was another great flavour addition to complete a mouth-watering dish.

The second entrée dish was the Spicy Fish Tempura Roll – Lightly tempura battered spicy Salmon Sushi Roll with our special sauce and shredded Dried Chilli. The tempura batter was light yet crispy and had the perfect amount of coating on the fish roll as well as on the vegetables that came with the dish. The salmon in the sushi roll was an added contrast to the crispness of the tempura and was soft, tender and delicious. I loved the addition of the special sauce – it was creamy and spicy at the same – it added another dimension to the dish. All the components together worked really well and it was a great dish – you must try it out.

The third entrée was the Kai Kani Maki – Teppan seared Crab Salad wrapped in Nori Sheets & Barramundi, smothered in our Secret Aioli, flamed and topped with Tabiko and drizzled with a Sweet Soy Reduction. This has to be my favourite dish of the night – both in terms of taste as well as watching how it was made. This dish is crab meat sushi which have been wrapped in both barramundi fish and nori, covered with the secret aioli sauce and blow torched to create the most amazing dish. To finish it is topped with Tabiko (fish rose) and sweet soy sauce. The crab meat is soft, tender and flavoursome – paired with the crunchiness of the fish and seaweed and completed with the creaminess of the aioli and tang of the soy. It is a definite must try – even if it is the only thing you eat!

The last entrée was the Braised Japanese Hamburger – Braised beef ball in Japanese teriyaki glazed with Poached Egg and Lotus Root Chips with Matcha Salt. I didn’t try this dish as I couldn’t eat the meat, but I did see the dish on the tables around me and it was perfectly presented – a mini hamburger stye.

There were two main dishes that were served, the first being the Kaisen Teppanyaki – Chef’s selection of assorted seasonal Seafood cooked at the Hot Plate with Soy Ponzu Dipping Sauce and the second being the Kobe style Eye Fillet – Grain-Fed Eye Fillet seared on the Hot Plate with a splash of Sake, Assorted Mushroom and Miso Dipping Sauce.

The Kaisen Teppanyaki consisted of prawns, scallops, mussels, salmon and scampi – all of which were grilled on the hot plate and presented impeccably on an oval plate. Each piece was cooked perfectly and the addition of the dipping sauces complemented the dish. Overall it was a great dish to showcase the great taste of seafood.

To finish dessert was a Black Sesame Tiramisu –Ladyfinger with black sesame syrup and mascarpone. I am usually not a fan of black sesame and have definitely never seen it being used in a tiramisu so was very interested to see how this dish would work. The flavours actually did work really well together and it was an enjoyable dish. The ladyfingers soaked in the black sesame when combined with the creaminess of the mascarpone was tasty and removes the black sesame flavour for people who are not big fans of the taste.  It certainly did reinvent the traditional tiramisu dish.

The night at Teppankai was very enjoyable and the atmosphere was buzzing. Being able to talk to fellow bloggers as well as the owner of the restaurant was a great opportunity. With fellow bloggers you get to share your foodie experiences and swap notes on which places should be tried out and speaking to the owner of the restaurant allows you to understand their vision and plans.

The food is exquisite and really does showcase delicious Japanese dishes in a contemporary style. It really has had be wanting to visit Japan even more. For a truly authentic take on Japanese dishes, located away from the hustle and bustle of chapel street, check out Teppankai – whether it be for a great Teppanyaki experience or simply enjoying the tapas style dishes.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://www.teppankai.com.au/#!food/c1jo3 – You can find the Restaurant menu, Banquet Menu, Lunch/Special Menu, Sake Menu and Drinks menu here.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Elegant and Welcoming. The front alfresco area is great for after work drinks or even drinks on a great sunny day! Also great for celebration dinners.
Standout Dish: Kai Kani Maki – Teppan seared Crab Salad wrapped in Nori Sheets & Barramundi, smothered in our Secret Aioli, flamed and topped with Tabiko and drizzled with a Sweet Soy Reduction
Service: Friendly and always full of smiles even when they get really busy! Welcoming and warm.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.teppankai.com.au/
34 Bray St, South Yarra
Tel No: 9827 8822

Opening Hours:
LUNCH
Monday to Saturday: 12:00pm – 2:30pm

DINNER
Monday to Saturday: 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Teppankai on Urbanspoon

Mosq – A little piece of Morroco in the Heart of Chapel Street


                      
Mosq is an alluring restaurant / function space – it combines plush and comfortable day beds together with golden lanterns and lamps, woven rugs which makes it feel like you have stepped onto the set of Aladdin amidst a Moroccan palace. The venue also consists of intimate little alcove areas which are cosy and serve for great photo opportunities. One of my favourite areas is the day bed which is covered in woven rugs and you can just chill out and eat your tapas style food and sip on the yummy cocktails/mocktails.

We went to Mosq for my Mum’s birthday with some of her friends too – altogether there were 6 of us. We ordered some starters as well as three Tagines for the mains. The starters consisted of Chicken Kofte cooked with Pomegranate, Pistachios, Apricots and Mild Spices, Kataifi Wrapped Prawns with Cumin Yoghurt, Sucuk Beef Sausage Skewers grilled with Zucchini and Haloumi and lastly Mushrooms stuffed with Feta, Parmesan and Herbs. My favourite out of these dishes as the stuffed Mushrooms. They were tasty bite sized morsels complete with flavour, but not the usual overwhelming taste that parmesan gives. My mum and her friend started to discuss how to re-create these at home – they were that good! You seriously could eat a plate full of these and be content. The Kataifi prawns were crispy and the cumin yoghurt was a great combination. The Kofte had a mix of both sweet and spice – and the mix actually worked and was quite tasty.

The mains that came out – Lamb Tagine Tender Lamb, Slow Cooked in Mild Moroccan Spices with Winter Vegetables, Garnished with Dates and Almonds, Seafood Tagine Baramundi, Salmon, Mussels and Tiger Prawns Slow Cooked with Preserved Lemon and Olives, Seared Lamb with Moroccan Crust Pan Seared Lamb Crusted in Moroccan Spices served medium Rare on a Sweet Potato, Eggplant and Pistachio Cous Cous and Almond Rice Pilaf. The meats in each of these Tagines, true to their style were soft and tender and literally just melted in your mouth. I wasn’t overly impressed with the Seafood Tagine, but they were generous with the varieties of seafood. I am a huge fan of Rice Pilaf and the Mosq Pilaf was sublime. The pieces of almond together with the individually separated rice, which wasn’t too oily, was simply divine. The Cous Cous was aromatic and tasty, and the Moroccan Spices on the lamb mixed well with the Sweet Potato and Eggplant.

Overall the experience at Mosq was fantastic. The food was flavoursome and the decor made it feel like you had been transported to a little restaurant in Morocco. There is also entertainment from belly dancers to Thursday live flamenco and jazz guitarists. There is also an outdoor terrace area if you wanted to enjoy your food in the summer. There are also Shisha pipes available with or without tobacco in a range of flavours (including apple, strawberry and mint), which can be a great way to finish a meal, together with some mint tea (served in cute little glasses). The menu is authentic and full of Moroccan and Middle Eastern flavours and is affordable, although I sometimes did find the dishes a tad bit on the small side. They have a range of cocktail and mocktails which are delicious and creative.

Just a note for bookings – on Friday and Saturday nights Mosq is only available as a function venue. For functions there are flexible food and drinks menus available with the choice of adding in extras such as the belly dancers, Shisha pipes etc.

Rating : 3 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – A La Carte – refer to http://mosq.com.au/
Fullness: 65%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cosy – it feels like you are in a classy Morrocan restaurant with the rugs, lanterns and lights, as well as the little intimate nooks and a makeshift daybed where you can just chill in a group.
Standout Dish: Roasted Marron, Tarragon Butter
Service: So-So. Maybe they were just having an off night – the service was good and quite friendly, however the dishes took ages to come out and we asked the waiter many times what was happening but they weren’t quite sure.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://mosq.com.au/
Shop 2
60 Bray Street, South Yarra
Tel No:  9804 7770

Opening Hours:
Monday -Thursday: 6pm-11pm
Friday – Sunday: 6pm – 1am

Mosq Restaurant & Functions on Urbanspoon