Monday, 30 January 2017

Lux Life's January 2017.

This January has been a funny one, the month has completely flown, and I can't believe it's almost February! This month has been one of settling into my new job and new life in Sydney, exploring the city, and exploring my new neighbourhood. It's been a fun month, with a heap of nights out and a visit from my old colleague and his new husband on their honeymoon!


Thursday, 26 January 2017

World's Most Photographed Dish at Tetsuya's, Sydney.

Despite being in Sydney for nearly two months now, I haven't actually tried *that* many restaurants. Don't get me wrong, I've been to plenty of pubs and cheap eats on Fridays with my work colleagues, but apart from that I haven't really invested that much time in exploring Sydney's fine dining food scene yet. The only 'proper' restaurant I've been to, is Restaurant Hubert, which was amazing, but I didn't have my camera with me. 

However this is all changing, and I have a few restaurant reviews coming up for you! First, we'll start with Tetsuya's, a critically acclaimed and award-winning French-Japanese restaurant in the Sydney CBD, that's part of the prestigious Relais-Chateaux group. Not only did it feature on the 'World's 50 Best Restaurants' list from 2005 until 2013, but it's also apparently home to the 'World's Most Photographed Dish' - the famous Tasmanian Ocean Trout, that's been on Tetsuya's menu for over twenty years.

Tetsuya's has been on the top of my 'to-do' list since I arrived in Sydney back in November, and with Sid over from London, it seemed the perfect time for two extreme foodies to check it out! Usually you have to book months in advance, but with a quick call to an AMEX concierge, we had a table for three booked in just a week later. 

Walking along Kent Street I was slightly confused by the location, surrounded by car parks, I felt rather lost, but eventually I stumbled across the gated drive and the sign for Tetsuya' soon as I entered the restaurant I felt as though I could be anywhere in the world. It doesn't feel like you're in the city, it's a little oasis and reminded me of the feeling you get in the Chinese Gardens of Friendship - it's only when you look up (or in this case, outside the front door), that you remember you're in the centre of a bustling city.

Our table was situated in the middle of one the restaurant rooms (there are three small rooms, providing a feeling of intimacy and exclusivity), overlooking the stunning and very peaceful Japanese garden.

Our waiter requested our drinks order, and when I mentioned that I was staying away from alcohol due to a sore throat, he kindly offered me tea instead. I asked for lemon and ginger, and he asked if I'd like honey in it too, to which I gladly said yes. To my surprise when the bill came, this was actually complimentary, despite the numerous refills of the teapot and the use of fresh ingredients.

The waiter went through the menu with us, and asked for any dietary requirements. Asheen isn't a huge fan of duck, so they offered to replace that course with either Quail or a fish dish. She opted for Quail as we had quite a few fish dishes coming up! Sid and I were fine with everything, although I did consider asking for a swap as I wasn't sure I'd like their signature dish...but read on to find out what I thought.

Our first dish was one of the most impressive of the night. When it arrived my first thought was "This is legit just three shrimps on my plate..."...but then I took a bite. The shrimp melted in my mouth in a soft explosion of buttery vanilla goodness. The flavours were unbelievable, and I just couldn't get my head around how such a simple and small dish could be so impressive. The vanilla made such a huge difference, and made the shrimps taste super creamy!

Next up was the Kingfish with picked kohlrabi and apple cucumber. Apple seemed to be the theme of the night, as it featured in a few dishes. Kingfish is one of my favourite fishes, and served raw this was probably my favourite dish of the night. In London you go to top Japanese restaurants and think the fish is fresh...then you come to Australia and realize just how different fresh fish tastes. 

Continuing with the raw fish theme, we were then served the 'World's Most Photographed Dish', the Confit Tasmanian Ocean Trout. The signature dish that has been on the menu for over twenty years. This was actually the dish I was most nervous about, and I almost requested an alternative. I'm not a huge fan of pink fish, with a rather large distaste for salmon. I had never tried Ocean Trout before, but from the colour I assumed it would have a similar flavour. How wrong was I! It was incredible.

A huge chunk of raw fish coated in seaweed crumbs and resting atop a bed of celery and apple with salmon roe. The flavours worked perfectly and I wish I could have eaten another plate of it! 

The next fish dish I didn't enjoy as much. The grilled shio kji toothfish had a very fishy taste, and was just a little disappointing. 

Next was the Miso cured duck breast with garlic cream. This dish was tasty, but not mindblowing. 

The most disappointing dish of the night was the final meat one...and the one I was most excited about. The Wagyu tenderloin with broccoli and pumpkin jus was just...bleh. The meat was too chewy, difficult to cut and difficult to eat. It should have melted in your mouth and instead all of us struggled to chew the thinly sliced wagyu.

Thankfully dessert make up for the disappointment of the meat dishes. After a tour of the kitchens (literally the cleanest restaurant kitchens I have EVER seen), we moved onto dessert, starting with an exceptionally tasty palate cleanser of apple granita with apple jelly. The granita tasted a little like an apple snow cone, or a fancy slush puppy without the liquid, but the acidity of the apple was delicious and reminded me of that first bit of a Granny Smith apple before the sweetness arrives on your tongue.

When I  tasted the first dessert, I'd taken a bite of the Roasted Soba Ice-Cream, and having never had Soba was a strange flavour. However it worked very well with the Rockmelon Granita, and I really enjoyed polishing it all off.

The final dessert was Tetsuya's Chocolate Cake, a delightful combination of rich dark chocolate, praline, and hazelnuts. Incredibly smooth but with a very thin crispy base, this dessert was one of the best I've ever had. Definitely one for any chocolate fans like Asheen and I!

We finished with petit fours, chestnut and cerise (cherry) macarons, and toffee and lavender chocolates.

Our entire experience at Tetsuya's was outstanding, the service was the best I've ever experienced at a restaurant. The staff always served from the left, always served the women first, and constantly made sure water glasses were topped up (all water, still and sparkling, is complimentary at Tetsuya's). 

Tetsuya's in no cheap eat, at $230 each for the degustation menu (the only menu option, also a degustation menu is the Australian equivalent of a tasting menu in the UK) minus drinks, it's definitely a very pricey meal. But do I regret it? No. Is it worth me living off Weetabix and tuna pasta for the next couple of weeks? Yes. There are some restaurants that as a food-lover you become obsessed with, constantly weighing up the pros and cons of splashing the cash for that meal you've been dreaming about. It's a hobby. But instead of spending hundreds or thousands on sports equipment or training, on collecting art, or purchasing a musical instrument, you spend it on food that's created with such skill it takes years to learn the craft, food that's created using the freshest local ingredients that deserve that extra price point.

I do however, think it's a little over-priced. For $230 I would expect every single dish to be flawless, and the fact is there were 2 or 3 out of 8 that weren't. If the price was around the $160 mark, it would make me want to return far more. As it stands, it was a once in a lifetime meal that I'm very glad I experienced, but I probably won't be returning. There are far too many other incredible restaurants in Sydney - and Australia - to try! Next on my list? Rockpool and the Icebergs Dining Rooms. Those reviews will be coming up very shortly ;)

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Tetsuya's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

My Top 7 Luxury London Nightclubs.

As many of you know my London life was pretty crazy, in a good way. I spent my days at work, and then by night I would be at exclusive events and partying until 5am. One of the main reasons I decided to move to Australia was to have a more chilled out lifestyle so I didn't burn out. I've written plenty of posts before about my favourite nightclubs in various cities, and I even used to do full-on nightclub reviews (sometimes I still do if it's good enough), so I thought it was time to write a city nightclub guide I could do in my sleep (or in a drunken state?).

My Top 5 Luxury London Nightclubs is an easy one for me, as there were a handful that I used to frequent on a weekly or bi-monthly basis I loved them so much. You may have seen them mentioned before in numerous monthly updates (who am I kidding, basically every monthly update), or in bigger things like friend's birthdays.


Saturday, 21 January 2017

Lunch at Clancy's Fish Pub, City Beach.

So this is my last Perth post until Easter. I figured it would be good to end with one based on my favourite type of food, and my favourite location in WA. City Beach is very close to my heart, I lived there for a year when I was 16, and have so many fond memories of that place. Despite its name it's actually nowhere near the city. It's actually about 10km away, a small suburb right on one of Western Australia's most beautiful stretches of coastline, full of beautiful houses, big green parks, and close to Scarborough. Clancy's Fish Pub has been there for the past few years, and although I'd been before for a classic fish and chips, I was keen to try out the rest of their seafood offering.


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Day Trip to Rottnest Island.

As you'll know from previous posts on Rottnest Island, it's one of my favourite places. I first went when I was seven years old, and it's been a huge part of my life. So many memories have been made there; with friends, family, and even an ex-boyfriend. I've visited in Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, and have only been one time when it's rained and been miserable the whole time. But whatever the weather, it always looks breathtakingly beautiful. It's a little slice of paradise, just off the coast of Western Australia. And so I figured it was time for me to return and have a little day trip to Rottnest Island.


Monday, 16 January 2017

My 2017 Travel Plans and Wishes.

We're halfway through January 2017, and I've been thinking about where I want to go in 2017. I've been based in Sydney for nearly two months now, and so with me being here this year it opens up a variety of different places that I could only dream of visiting before! So without further ado, here we go...

1. More of Australia

I'm desperate to explore more of Australia, and will be doing this on the weekends when I'm off work! I have Melbourne booked in for two weeks time, and then I'd also love to visit Brisbane, Adelaide, Darwin, and Canberra. I'll also be going back over to Perth for Easter and my birthday as my brother and his girlfriend are coming to visit! 

2. New Zealand

This has been on my list for years, but it was always so far away from London and Perth. It's just a 3 hour flight from Sydney to Auckland, so at the moment I'm hoping to take a week off work at the beginning of October and do a few days in Auckland, and then a few days down in Queenstown on the South Island. I have cousins on the North Island and one of my best friends from the UK now living on the South Island, which gives me even more reason to visit!

3. Vanuatu

How  b e a u t i f u l  does Vanuatu look!? Sadly I'm no longer anywhere near the Caribbean, so can't do my usual annual trip to a Caribbean island. But with Vanuatu just a 3.5 hour flight from Sydney, I can do a quick 24 hour trip there just like my European ones! A weekend in paradise? What can be better!

4. Samoa

Samoa is one I'd like to spend a little longer at, it looks stunning! I'm thinking of taking a long weekend to explore the island and drink up the sunshine and swim in the crystal clear waters.

5. New Caledonia

Another South Pacific island super close to Sydney at just a 3 hour flying time, New Caledonia is yet another paradise island that I'm dreaming of spending a weekend on to get out of Sydney for a couple of days. I think it's safe to say my '24 Hours In...' luxury series may be upping it's game this year ;)

6. New York....again

So I actually already have this booked in for December 2017, but I need to check I can take the time off work first. If I cancel it I won't lose any money, but I'll rearrange it for early 2018 if I can't get the time off this year. Currently I have a First Class flight with Singapore Airlines from Sydney to NYC (I had HEAPS of airmiles to use up!) booked for the weekend before Christmas; it's been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember to go to NYC around Christmas time.

I know that I went to NYC twice in 2016, but after my hot Christmas in Aus this year, I'm desperate for a cold snowy Christmas!! I've also got the Gansevoort hotel in the Meatpacking District booked in for my 4 night stay, so I REALLY hope I can get the time off work as it's literally my dream trip!

7. South of France

I'll hopefully be back in London for a visit in July, and would love to jet off to the South of France for one of my 48 hour trips. I'm just longing for proper French food and the Mediterranean sea right now, and what better time to visit  Nice or Cannes than in July?!

8. Hong Kong

This is a potential for end of April, I have a friend from London who's gonna be in Hong Kong, and also Jasiminne is coming over to Aus in we may do a little Asia jaunt for a week at the end of April. I last visited Hong Kong when I was seventeen, and would love to go back to check out the amazing restaurants and the Tian Tan Buddha!


9. Singapore

I've been lusting after Singapore for years. We used to visit regularly as we used to stop over for a few nights on our way to Australia when I was younger. It's been nine years since I last visited, and I'm desperate to go back and see how it's changed. At the moment I have a long 10-hour stopover with my flight to NYC, which gives me the perfect time to see the Gardens by the Bay and explore my favourite parts of the city!

10. Bali

This is another potential for the Hong Kong trip, I'd love to spend a few days in Bali and see what all the fuss is about! A mix of relaxing in a luxury resort and visiting some of the stunning temples.

So, how did 2016 go?

Well, firstly I went to A LOT more countries than originally planned! My 2016 wish list was very light as I wasn't sure I'd be able to do much travelling with various health issues (I had two operations in 2016), and I also couldn't reveal some of the locations I wanted to travel to because they tied in with me moving to Australia...which I couldn't announce due to work until August!

I ended up visiting 12 overseas countries in 2016, as well as North Wales to see my grandma a couple of times. So 2016 included; Bangkok & Chiang Mai in Thailand, Paris in France, NYC in America x2, Lisbon in Portugal, Antigua in the Caribbean, Milan in Italy, Geneva in Switzerland, Orlando in America, Devon in England, Dubai in the UAE, Doha in Qatar, Muscat in Oman, Perth in Australia, Sydney in Australia. What a year!! You can read all about my 2016 travels here.

With a lot less holiday days at my new job than my old one, I really need to be careful with how I use them, hence the plan for quite a few weekend trips. I'm going to try and be smart about longer trips by working in our company offices in Brisbane, Perth, and London, so I can spend the evenings and weekends with friends, but the daytime when my friends are at work, at work too. 

Tell me, what's the top country on your list for 2017?

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Saturday, 14 January 2017

A Roadtrip to Yanchep Lagoon & Lancelin.

What do you do when the weather is 33 degrees celcius, and you and your friend both have a day off? You head north towards paradise, of course. Yanchep is an unassuming little town, not particularly interesting and full of British expats and bogans, to be completely honest. However there's a little something there that's rather special, and that's the beach. Yanchep Lagoon is completely sheltered from waves and sharks by a huge reef that protects the little bay, which makes it perfect for just laying in the water soaking up the sun on such a hot day.

Yanchep Lagoon Western Australia


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Lunch at il Lido, Cottesloe.

While I was back in Perth over the Christmas holidays there was one nice day. Yes one. I mean, every day was sunny...but it was cold. It was windy and 23 degrees most days, apart from the Thursday when it got up to 26, so Caitlin and I went to the beach first thing in the morning and then had the most delicious lunch at il Lido in Cottesloe! I didn't have my camera with me, so excuse the phone photos - I'm actually super embarrassed by them haha, but it was just so good I HAD to tell you guys about it...

Outside of Il Lido Restaurant on Cottesloe Beach

We were down at Grant Street beach sunbathing and listening to a bunch of kids playing the best music EVER right next to us (we were legit dancing whilst laying down, and singing along haha), and then we both realized how hungry we were. It happens every single time we go to the beach. A couple of hours in and we both just go 'shall we go get food now?'. So I suggested il Lido as I've been wanting to go for aaaages, and Caitlin loves it there, so off we went.

il Lido is a gorgeous Italian restaurant right on Marine Parade in Cott, so it has a beautiful view over the beach and ocean. Cait and I sat at one of the high tables next to the window, and had a look at the menu. I was craving Octopus, so ordered the Warm Fremantle Octopus. We also got some bread with olive oil to nibble on, and still lemonades to sip on.

My octopus was ok...but just ok. It was served in a sort of salad, but it was basically a huge bowl of chickpeas. Sadly there were more chickpeas than octopus and I struggled to actually find much octopus amongst the chickpeas. Maybe it's just personal preference, but I much prefer it as a very simple dish much like the one they do at Little Creatures. There were just too many flavours and the texture of the chickpeas was far too heavy with the octopus.

Thankfully the mains were far better. We chose the potato gnocchi with roast tomato, basil, and Parmesan, and the lamb and aubergine ravioli with rosemary sage butter, ricotta, and pistachio.

Both were amazing, but the stand-out one for both of us was the ravioli. The rosemary sage butter was just incredible. It literally melted in your mouth and the simple but powerful flavour of the rosemary and sage really made the dish.

We were so full that we decided to forgo the dessert menu, and instead we headed to Claremont for a spot of bra shopping (tmi? soz). Such a good day with one of my besties! Beach, lunch, shopping...what more could you want?

Both of us adored Il Lido, and the restaurant is so gorgeous. Such a lovely place for a special lunch or dinner with friends, family, or a date. Or just do what we did and #treatyoself ;)

Il Lido Italian Canteen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 2 January 2017

Lux Life's Top 15 Travel & Life Moments of 2016.

2016 was a huge year for me, I ticked off some bucket list travel moments, moved to the other side of the world, and started my dream job. I visited a total of 12 countries - including six new ones - and took 30 flights, all whilst having a full time job for most of the time as well as a very active social life. So I thought instead of my usual epic huge wrap-up of the year, I'd focus on my Top 15 moments instead, in both life and travel.

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