26 March 2013

ChocolArts: Handcrafted Chocolates, The Rocks, Sydney (26 Mar 2013)

75 George Street, The Rocks NSW 2000

Handcrafted sugary delights

“At ChocolArts we believe that the best ingredients make the best chocolates. We use premium Belgian and French couverture chocolate and no artificial ingredients or preservatives. All our chocolates are handcrafted in true Artisan fashion using traditional European techniques.”

With Easter just around the corner ChocolArts in The Rocks will surely attract a few devoted chocolate lovers eager for handcrafted goodies. Where else can you get a Prince Charming chocolate frog, a Chocosaurus or Chocolate Stilletos in Sydney besides their Gladesville shop — although they do come at a special price for being unique. I chose to try the more affordable flavoured chocolates displayed in the long clear counter which runs the length of the shop. For seven chocolates is came to $8.15 which I thought was OK for such nice looking chocolates even though $110/kg does sound like a lot. Thankfully they don't way too much to be able to try a few flavours without breaking the bank too much. The Rose with rose flavoured ganache and the Orange with blood orange ganache and Cointreau  were my favourite out of the bunch. The Mint with fresh local garden mint infused ganache was also quite enjoyable as an alternative to others which can taste a bit artificial like minty toothpaste. Strawberry CreamPassionfruit and Pistach√© also had distinctive flavours and a smooth texture on the palate. The Hazelnut Latte with Brazilian Coffee, Tia Maria and hazelnut praline was nice although I think could have been better if the hazelnut on top was more roasted or caramelised.

PROS: Nicely presented chocolates, Interesting and themed chocolates for something a bit different, Friendly and helpful service
CONS: Too easy to spend a lot in this shop if you love flavoured chocolates, Good quality chocolate doesn't come cheap
MUST TRY: Rose, Orange and revisiting to try other flavours
VERDICT: If you're looking for a special chocolate gift or simply love nice chocolates then this shop might be worth a visit
Rose: A light, rose flavoured ganache with a dark chocolate shell
Orange: A fruity blood orange ganache with Cointreau in a dark chocolate shell
Mint: Fresh, local garden mint infused ganache with a hint of thyme in a dark chocolate shell

Strawberry Cream: A strawberry cream ganache with Kirshe liqueur in a dark chocolate shell
Passionfruit: A punchy, passionfruit ganache in a white chocolate shell
Pistaché: A smooth pistachio and Grand Marnier layered ganache in a dark chocolate shell
Hazelnut Latte: A Brazilian Coffee, Tia Maria and hazelnut praline enrobed in a dark chocolate
Bill $8.15 for 7 chocolates weighed at $110/kg

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The Dining Room at Park Hyatt: Modern Australian, The Rocks (16 Nov 2012)

7 Hickson Road, The Rocks, Sydney NSW 2000

Dining with a harbour view

“Contemporary Australian-inspired cuisine featuring local produce and authentic flavours, paired with Australian and international wines carefully selected by our resident sommelier.”

Thanks to Maryam Awang from Park Hyatt Sydney for inviting me as a guest to sample The Dining Room menu. I opted for the 3 courses ($69) including a glass of wine which seemed reasonable considering the nice decor and harbour view stretching towards the Sydney Opera House. House wines of the day were the Eden Road Chardonnay 2011 and Shiraz 2010 which were both enjoyable to drink. The Local burrata, heirloom tomato, apple balsamic was a nice starter with fresh flavours but I really liked the Alaskan king crab cakes with golden crumbing and a decent amount of crab meat inside. More of a canape when served on its own so thought a nice dressed fennel salad on the side would have complimented well and made it more of a dish. The Freshly shucked Sydney rock oysters where from Nambucca Heads. Presented well and cleanly shucked with minimal shellage makes them a winner.

For mains the Goats curd gnocchi had a nice soft texture although I found the dish became a tad dry without any sauce to add moisture to the palate. I enjoyed the flavours of my Pan roasted ocean trout with crisp skin and nicely cooked fish and the plump Spring Bay mussels were lovely in the saffron and parsley broth. A side of Goose fat fried potatoes wasn't quite what I was expecting being cut as fries. From the description I thought they might have been small rustic cooked potatoes instead. The Mixed leaves, radish, vinaigrette was fresh with a nice dressing as hoped. The nicely presented Hazelnut dacquoise, milk chocolate ganache is supposed to be one of their signature desserts although I had a soft spot for the Valrhona chocolate fondant, orange sorbet with gooey centre and flavours that worked together well as I'm a fan of orange dark chocolate.

PROS: Nice decor and seating, Harbour view, Nicely presented dishes, Quality ingredients, Tempting menu, Friendly and professional service
CONS: No free street parking in the area, It'll cost you a lot more to stay at this nice hotel
MUST TRY: Alaskan King Crab cakes, Pan roasted ocean trout
VERDICT: Seems like a reasonably priced 3 course menu when you consider decor, atmosphere, harbour view and a glass of wine is included. Overall a very pleasant setting for a nice lunch.

Complimentary bread
Local burrata, heirloom tomato, apple balsamic — flavours work well together
Alaskan king crab cakes, watercress, lemon — decent amount of crab meat inside

Freshly shucked Sydney rock oysters with shallot vinegar from Nambucca Heads — presented well, minimal shellage, clean shuck 

Goats curd gnocchi, walnuts, broad bean salsa, Pecorino — nice texture and flavours although found it a tad dry without a sauce to bring it all together and keep it moist on the palate
Pan roasted ocean trout, Spring Bay mussels, saffron, parsley — crisp skin, nicely cooked fish, enjoyable flavours with mussels
Goose fat fried potatoes, garlic, parsley
Mixed leaves, radish, vinaigrette
Hazelnut dacquoise, milk chocolate ganache — nice presentation and flavours

Valrhona chocolate fondant, orange sorbet — gooey centre, flavour combo works well as I liked orange chocolate

Reflection shot of the day in sugar pot
Eden Road The Seedling Chardonnay 2011, Eden Road The Seedling Shiraz 2010

Lunch menu: 1 course $39, 2 course $59, 3 course $69 includes a glass of sommelier selected wine

Table setting
Seating with a view

Private seating area suitable for large groups

Table supports flat which gets a tick from me
Toilet clean and spacious
Urinals could benefit from privacy screens between though
Toilet cubicles door well sealed to the floor gets a tick for privacy

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