My parents are currently in Japan. As a good daughter, I’m happy for them. As good parents, you’d think they’d try to ensure their trip didn’t coincide with my birthday, right?
They brought me into this world… the least they could do is stick around to commemorate the fact. Harrumph!
Ah well. I’ve still got a few weeks to go until my birthday happens, so perhaps I’ll have built up a thicker skin by then. In the mean time, why don’t I tell you about the restaurant my parents and I went to the night before they departed?
When my parents called the day before they left the country to ask if I wanted to join them for dinner, I initially said no. I had, that morning, taken several items out of the freezer to defrost for meal-making, and I didn’t want to be complicit in food wastage.
Several minutes later, I realised that I wanted even less to be complicit in restaurant-non-attendance. I called my parents back and proclaimed that I did, indeed, want to go out for dinner. I then proceeded to take over the night by choosing the restaurant, booking it, and then mandating which table we could sit at upon arrival so as to catch the most light for photos. Welcome, my friends, to Urban Pantry.
As you can see above, we started with “warmed sourdough served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar”. Personally, I’m not that interested in bread, as it tends not to be made of chocolate, sugar, or nut butter. This was a rather lovely specimen of sourdough, though.
As I read through the menu, I came up with a glorious and somewhat genius idea. I would have oysters, then dessert, then coffee, then I would return to my parents’ place to watch Masterchef, and then I would drive back to my own place and eat my defrosted dinner components.
It would be a magical reverse dinner experience of wonderment.
And it was, for the most part. The slight glitch in the magic was the above plate of oysters, as they were the most unpleasantly metallic-tasting and tiny oysters I’ve ever had the misfortune to eat. I don’t really blame Urban Pantry for that, though. It must be hard to get good oysters here in Canberra, where the only nearby water is an algae-infested man-made lake.
Luckily, my mother didn’t mind me snatching forkful after forkful of her dukkah-encrusted swordfish with sticky rice, so I quickly got over my oyster disappointment. The dukkah coating was deliciously nutty-roasted-crispy delicious, and the swordfish beautifully tender, although the salt was a little heavy-handed for my tastes. For the most part, though, a big tick for the swordfish special.
My dad ordered the duck confit special and enjoyed it, but the photo was atrocious so I’ll spare you.
(Also, the only thing I really care about is dessert, so duck absences don’t really phase me.)
For dessert, my dad ordered a blueberry frangipane tart from the diverse, enticing, and stocked-with-gluten-free-items cake cabinet, and it came with cream and a berry compote on top.
I, of course, tasted this frangipane tart, and can attest to it being a commendable example of nutty sweet pastry goodness.
My mother’s dessert, however, far trumped my father’s choice:
This is Urban Pantry’s “meringue with berries, vanilla crème and violet jelly”. It turns out my mother actually is rather a good parent, as before she’d even taken a bite herself, she let me try the violet jelly. I’ve recently come to love floral flavours in sweets, if they’re subtle, and this dessert also had the positive factor of reminding me of Charlemagne’s dark chocolate with violet.
It makes me very, very happy to find a restaurant in Canberra that is inventive with its desserts. Happy enough to beam.
And it makes me utterly ecstatic, to the point of giggling, hand-clapping, breathless laughter, to find a dessert with peanut butter as an integral component. Peanut butter. That creation of dreams, which I know has been used in desserts in Sydney and Melbourne restaurants (thanks to envy-making blogposts), but which has been tragically ignored here in Canberra. Until now.
When I saw the words “warm honey tart and salty peanut butter ice cream” staring up at me from the Urban Pantry menu, I felt butterflies. Love at first sight, I think the Mills and Boon lot call it. It had to be ordered.
Did this dessert live up to my expectations? Yes. The peanut butter ice cream particularly so. The ice cream was rich, peanut buttery, had an extra zing because of the sea salt flakes on top, and provided a much-needed less-sweet foil to the insanely sweet, gooey, and mind-overtaking honey-ness of the honey tart.
I loved how, at the top of the tart, the honey had turned into a crispy, caramelised, decadent layer of intensified sweetness.
Eating this, I felt like Winnie-The-Pooh.
Halfway through, though, I felt like I might slip into a coma as a result of the intense, intense and unfaltering sweetness of the honey tart, but luckily I had my peanut butter ice cream to save me from hospitalisation.
I’m certainly glad I ordered this dessert but, next time, I might ask for an affogato made with the peanut butter ice cream. I like the idea of hitting all my sugar, nut butter, and caffeine desires in one fell swoop.
There will be a next time.