Canberra: Flute Bakery, Fyshwick

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You know the saying 'I love you like a fat kid loves cake'? Yep, I am the fat kid! Sweet things are my weakness, especially delicious cake. So, when I get a day off from work, the first thing I do is make a beeline for The Flute Bakery in Fyshwick. They're only open from 8am - 3pm on weekdays, which makes it incredibly difficult to get to unless you take some time off from work. The_Food_Avenue_Flute_Bakery07

The Flute is a quaint, French provincial style patisserie. There's plenty of outside tables for al fresco dining and the large windows allow the cafe to bathe in lots of natural light.

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As you walk in, there are cabinets chock-full of baked goodies. But I would recommend getting there early as they have a tendency of selling out of certain items by about 11am!

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If you are easily overwhelmed by all the droolworthy choices, I would recommend getting the Assiette. For only $8, you get a delicious selection that includes a macaron, profiterole and two mini cakes. What value!

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Alternatively, for only $20, you can get a Dulce de leche cheesecake ($7), a Wild strawberry mousse cake ($7), a flat white ($2.50) and a pot of chai tea ($3.50). Holy cow!

The reason why I think it's such good value is because there is so much technique in the cake that I can't quite believe it's at the same price point as relatively ordinary slice of cake from a hipster cafe in New Acton, Braddon or Kingston.

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Just look at the incredible detail in the Pistachio cake! The balance of flavours was just perfect and I just love this style of cake.

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The best part of each cake is the multiple layers, each with a different flavour adding complexity to every mouthful. The cakes comprise of a carefully calculated ratio and combination of ganache, mousse, sponge, jelly, compote, cream, and biscuit crumbs or nuts. Check out that sexy cross-section!

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If you're wanting something savoury, The Flute Bakery does amazing pies for only $5.50 each. I've tried the Chicken Chasseur, the Chicken and Leek, and the Beef and Red Wine. I can vouch for all of them. They were all rich in flavour and full of large pieces of meat. They were big enough that I could tell good cuts of chicken and beef were used.

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The cakes and pies taste amazing and are very reasonably priced. They now have an online menu with prices for each cake.

The low-down on The Flute Bakery Address: 8 Barrier Street, Fyshwick, ACT Opening hours; 8am - 3pm weekdays Website: http://www.theflutebakery.com.au/ Phone: 02 6280 8001 Best bits: The layer cakes and the pies. Worst bits: Inconvenient opening hours and location, no EFTPOS facility. Worthwhile factor: Very worthwhile.

The Flute Bakery on Urbanspoon

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Top picks: 3 places to eat in Canberra this weekend

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Starting to think about the weekend? Stuck for ideas of where to eat? Here are my top picks for dining to suit a variety of groups and occasions this weekend!High teaat Burbury Hotel, Barton

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Located on the top floor of the hotel, the terrace is full of sunshine from the skylights and the floor-to-ceiling windows. There's a pretty view and you can even spot Telstra Tower on Black Mountain in the distance. Kick off the weekend with this delicious high tea in a beautiful setting. Great for an elegant hen's party, engagement party or just a lovely catch up with friends.

$39 Traditional High Tea, $49 Champagne High Tea. Friday to Sunday 1pm-4pm. 1 Burbury Close, Barton, Canberra. Call 02 6163 1818.

Black Fire, Braddon

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This is Braddon's newest Mediterranean restaurant and it smells amazing inside because of the wood fire pit cooking suckling pig, lamb and roast vegetables. Opened only a couple of weeks ago, this is a gluten-intolerant person's dream come true as 80% of the menu is gluten free! Also, you can drop in at pretty much any waking moment because their opening times are unheard of in Canberra! Check out my review of Black Fire!

Open Monday to Sunday 7am to 11:30pm. 45/38 Mort st, Braddon. Call 6230 5921.

Boodle Feast at Kusina, Weston Creek

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Round off the weekend with the Boodle Feast (Kamayan), which is a traditional Filipino way of dining. Grab some family members and head to this suburban gem to experience the unique culinary experience this weekend - food is served on banana leaves and you eat the feast using your hands (no other utensils)!

$33 per head. Minimum 4 people. Last Sunday of every month. Cooleman Court, Weston Creek, Canberra. Bookings are essential. Call 6288 8461

Honorary mentions

Hopscotch - is the newest gastropub in Braddon. Go there for their fantastical calamari and kimchi slaw. It's marvellous.

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Yum cha at Scholar in Dickson - best yum cha in Canberra! Bring on the chicken feet!

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For a great round up of what else is happening this week in Canberra, check out HerCanberra's This Week In The Can, which covers events relating to music, family, sport, art and everything in between.

So, what have you got planned for the weekend? Do you have any suggestions that might make it on to my next top picks post? Comment below!

Are you on social media? Check out my latest updates on the best food and drink in Canberra and beyond! Facebook : /thefoodavenue Instagram: @thefoodavenue Twitter: @thefoodavenue

Recipe: First attempt at molecular gastronomy - panna cotta

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Being a humanities nerd, I almost failed high school chemistry but molecular gastronomy has ignited a new passion for science I never knew I could possess. Molecular gastronomy blends physics and chemistry to transform the tastes and textures of food into new and innovative dining experiences. My curiosity about this interesting way of eating was piqued when I discovered a TV show called Heston’s Feasts. In the show, (my not-so-secret celebrity chef crush) Heston Blumenthal, owner of Michelin-starred English restaurant The Fat Duck, experiments with exotic ingredients and tests unusual cooking techniques to prepare magical feasts for celebrity guests.

Through shows like Heston’s Feasts and Masterchef Australia, molecular gastronomy is gaining momentum in mainstream cooking and transforming the way we eat and cook at home. Sous vide machines (a water bath with precise temperature control) are the fastest growing kitchen appliance to be sold for the home, so I've heard.

In the name of scientific research, I decided to turn The Food Avenue test kitchen into a science lab and create an ambitious sounding and visually appealing dish – raspberry panna cotta with mango caviar and strawberry soil. Basically, a fancy pants panna cotta.

But I wanted to see if I could do it without too many weird ingredients or gadgets - so that others could recreate this dish, fairly easily.

This dish has three components and requires three recipes – one for panna cotta, one for the mango caviar and one for strawberry soil. Click on the links below to go to the separate page for each recipe.

The dish sounds like a fair amount of work, but you can pre-make every component of the dish and if you have dinner guests, all you have to worry about is plating it all up!

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Raspberry panna cotta This is an Italian dessert made by simmering together cream, milk, sugar and gelatin to create a rich and creamy pudding. You can use any panna cotta recipe, but I used the Chamomile panna cotta recipe in Heston Blumenthal at Home and infused the cream with a raspberry tea rather than chamomile.

Strawberry cornflake soil This is the crunch element of the dish and will add a textural contrast the creaminess of the panna cotta. It’s absolutely addictive and dangerously easy to make. I adapted the recipe from Christina Tosi’s Cornflake Crunch from Momofuku Milk Bar and used strawberry-flavoured milk powder instead of regular milk powder. Then, using my mortar and pestle, I crushed the Cornflake Crunch down to a “soil-like” texture.

Mango caviar (gelification) The weirdest ingredient out of all three recipes is in this one – and it’s not even that weird. It’s agar agar and you can find it in pretty much any Asian grocery store. Agar agar is really cheap, comes in powder form and sets any liquid at room temperature. It was as easy as boiling a tiny amount of agar again with mango puree and letting droplets of the mixture fall into cooled vegetable oil. This process created tiny little solid balls of mango puree, which served as a visually appealing decoration. I also tried the same process using beetroot juice and the deep purple colour was stunning against the white panna cotta. The flavour and colour combinations are endless! While I was happy with the visual aspect, the texture wasn't quite like caviar because there was no bursting liquid. I think the next step will be to try the spherification technique, which will mimic the "bursting" effect of real caviar.

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I’m still a while away from recreating lickable wallpaper and meat fruit but I had so much fun with my first attempt at molecular gastronomy that I won’t be surprised if I soon begin showing up to work looking like a mad scientist!

Have you done any experimental cooking in your kitchen? I'd love to hear about your molecular cooking attempts - hit me with any disaster or success stories!

Recipe: molecular gastronomy, Mango Caviar (gelification)

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I wanted to replicate the look of regular caviar fairly easily. So I decided to try this molecular recipe for gelification as it didn't look too difficult! This process created tiny little solid balls of mango puree, which served as a visually appealing decoration. The_Food_Avenue_Molecular_Gastronomy

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup of mango juice puree
  • 1/4 tsp. of agar agar powder

Chill the vegetable oil in a glass or cup.

Mix mango juice and agar agar in a saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer for 2 minutes or until the agar agar dissolves.

Let agar/juice mixture cool for 2 minutes until it looks slightly "gooey". Let droplets of the mixture fall one at a time, into the cold oil. The caviar pearls will form on contact with the oil.

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You can use a squeeze bottle, pipette, or a straw for this, but I found that a whisk worked just as well. The longer you leave it, the thicker the mixture will become and the bigger your droplets will become. If you want smaller droplets, simply reheat the mixture until the desired consistency.

Strain the caviar out of the glass and rinse with water. Until you’re ready to use them, store them in water. When you’re ready to use the caviar, take them out of the water and place them on a paper towel.

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Recipes for the other elements of the above dish:

How did you go? Who would have thought molecular gastronomy could be this simple!! :)

Recipe: Strawberry cornflake soil

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This is the crunch element and will add a textural contrast to any dish. It’s absolutely addictive and dangerously easy to make. I adapted the recipe from Christina Tosi’s Cornflake Crunch from Momofuku Milk Bar and used strawberry-flavoured milk powder instead of regular milk powder. The_Food_Avenue_Molecular_Gastronomy4

Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes Total time: 35 minutes, plus chill time Yield: 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 1/2 (12-ounce) (5 cups)/ 170 g box cornflakes
  • 1/2 cup/ 40 g strawberry milk powder (e.g. Nesquick)
  • 3 tablespoons/ 40 g sugar
  • 1 teaspoon/ 4 g salt
  • 100 g butter, melted

Heat the oven to 135°C.

Pour the cornflakes in a medium bowl and crush them with your hands to one-quarter of their original size. Add the strawberry milk powder, sugar, and salt and toss to mix. Add the butter and toss to coat. As you toss, the butter will act as glue, binding the dry ingredients to the cereal and creating small clusters.

Cool the cornflake mixture completely before storing or using in a recipe.

If the consistency isn't fine enough, pour the mixture into a mortar and pestle. Pound until the mixture resembles a soil consistency.

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Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, the strawberry cornflake soil will keep fresh for 1 week; in the fridge or freezer, it will keep for 1 month.

Recipes for the other elements of the pictured dish: