Monday, July 29, 2013

I Eat Therefore I Am 7th Birthday + Amazing Black Forest Cake Recipe

Today marks the 7th birthday of this blog, woohoo. I can't believe it myself. What started out as a bit of fun and what I thought would last a year at most has turned into a lot of fun that's lasted 7 years. I have to thank my friend Kevin immensely as he was the person who encouraged me to start a blog and also helped me to set up this blog. While my first blog was a personal account of my daily life, I met a group of wonderful people online and this food blog came about because of that. I've already written about that story and you can read it here.

For this blog post, I thought I'd go further back in my food biography. Inspired by my fellow food blogger and friend in Adrian's account of how he became an EATER, I've decided to write down my story. So if you've got a spare 20 minutes to read my story, I'd love it, and maybe you can tell me your story afterwards. But if you're here for cake, scroll down to the bottom to learn how to make an epic and amazingly delicious Black Forest Cake.

The Olsen Twins (Full House) Years
According to my parents, I was born loving food. An incident at age one sort of sets the scene for my journey with food. So, one day when dad returns from work, he is carrying a big meat bun, the type with the fluffy white bready skin and a mixture of meat inside. Normally he would just give me the bun to eat (I started eating solids very early). This time, he decides to tease me with the bun and make me run to him to get it (I also started walking and running early and by age one I was a proficient runner already). I run towards him to get the bun and.....BAM, I trip over the ledge at the bottom of a door frame. All houses have this ledge in Vietnam to stop water coming in I think. Cue slow motion falling and CRACK, my head hits the concrete floor and I'm bleeding like a zombie. Mum and dad dash me off to hospital and nowadays I have 7 stitches in my forehead and a great story to tell about how much I love food.

I don't remember that incident itself and my memory of Vietnam is rather vague too, but I do have many photos of me eating food in Vietnam. Apparently I loved everything, but there is a lot of cake photos haha. So nothing's changed there.

The Simpsons Years
Moving forward some years, I have immigrated to Australia with my family and we go about starting a new life to escape the political regimes in Vietnam. We arrive here with virtually nothing, but in all my childhood memories, I always remember having lots of good food (doesn't necessarily mean expensive) to eat in the house. Mum and dad went without going on holidays or buying nice things to ensure my sister I were always well fed and had a good education. I cannot thank them enough for this. Even writing this now is making me slightly emotional (real men don't get emotional right?). So throughout my primary school years, I remember having lots of delicious meals that mum cooked, and very occasionally going out for meals at restaurants. We always had a lot of snacks in the pantry, but unlike some kids I've seen nowadays who just go to the pantry and grab whatever they wanted, I most definitely had to ask my parents if I wanted a snack. This meant I never over indulged in bad snacks and ate quite healthily actually.

Up until I went to high school, my school lunches were actually rather boring affairs. Literally I was eating a sandwich every day. I tended to favour sweet sandwiches, with things like peanut and jam, nutella and butter with sugar being my favourites. I wasn't that fussed about what I had for lunch, instead looking forward to playing after the meal.

The Dawson's Creek Years
With high school and uni, the addition of money meant I had a lot more choices for lunch and the food I ate. My parents had trusted me to control my own eating and I would say I didn't go too overboard. In high school, I still had sandwiches for lunch but would mix it up with some food bought from the canteen. Inevitably this food was greasy, oily food, as is still the case at canteens in schools around the country I would think. So there was dodgy chiko rolls (which I never fully developed a taste for and today makes me feel sick when I smell it), dim sims (which I still love), chips, sausages rolls, pies and pizza. Thinking back now, the current me would say I should have packed a variety of lunches but tell me which kid isn't lured in by all that greasy food.

By the time I was going to uni, I had multiple part time jobs and a car. The car provided the ultimate freedom and meant I could go to so many places to eat different foods. I was now eating cuisines I had never heard of or tried before and at restaurants in all different locations throughout Melbourne. People who like food must gravitate together as I had a group of uni friends who were also open to trying out different foods, and hence we went on many food adventures together. As we were still students, we sought out good cheap food everywhere, with some items at the uni shops that weren't too bad. The options are rather limited when you go to Monash Clayton as if you leave campus, you can't find a car park when you return, so we tried everything in the union building. I still dream of those spicy fried chicken wings and the gourmet bratwurst sausage that you can pick your own toppings. I must say though, as good as those things were, you can't eat them everyday without being bored. So lunch by the 4th, 5th year of uni (I didn't fail, I just did a double degree) was getting so boring and the options were looking less and less tempting that I had returned to eating sandwiches for lunch.

Dinner though, that was a whole other story. With a bit of money, I tried so many things. You wouldn't know it now but I used to hate things like sashimi and sushi, I didn't like lamb (OMG, I'd slapped my own self if I could travel back in time and meet the former me, although if I let the former me see the new me I could change the future and possibly wipe out my own existence, which wouldn't be good), I didn't like any vegetables at all, I had never eaten much European food. Hence, literally a whole new world was opening up before my mouth and I was loving every bit of it.

The Friends Years
The early Friends' years was where I would say I went a bit crazy and overdosed on food a bit. I don't mean that I ate so much that I had become a whale, it was more that I spent so much money that thinking back on it, I'm shocked at my obsession. Once my friends and I got jobs, we suddenly found ourselves with a massive amount of disposable income. I've never been into cars or stereo systems so decided to use my money on what I loved most, food. Literally every week we would all go eat out once or twice a week at a fine dining restaurant. We were going through degustation meals and high end eating like no tomorrow. Everything was so new and amazing. The food was all so delicious and I had become so addicted that I thought a $100 meal was cheap. It was utterly crazy.

Luckily, I snapped out of that phase after about one and a half years. If I had continued like that, I'd be so broke and also extremely overweight, as high end food is full of calories. It was near that time that I started my food blog, and that's when my eyes were again open to a whole other world of food. I was learning so much information about food and becoming a more informed person. I feel I have a fairly good sense of smell and taste and while I knew what flavours I like, I didn't know much about what ingredients produced those flavours. I knew a bit about Asian cuisine, but other cuisines were still a mystery to me. For example, I had hardly tasted any herbs in my life. Apart from obvious ones like mint that were used in Asian cooking, I couldn't tell a rosemary stalk from a thyme stalk. By reading many food blogs, I was seeing the cooking aspect to food and slowly getting intrigued.

The "early days" (this is the one and only time time I will use those word about food blogging) of food blogging was just like what you've read and seen in Julie & Julia. It was so exciting when someone left a comment or if someone recognised that you wrote a blog. The blogosphere was still a mostly empty expanse of nothingness. It was also pre-Twitter days so people didn't interact as often, only occasionally in blog comments. Slowly though, people would start making online connections and finally real life connections. I remember the first bloggers meet up and how scared I was. Luckily, when I got there I was greeted by lots of other friendly people who loved food as well. A great night was had and from that point, there are now more meet ups than I can find time for.

The food blogging community has grown so much in Melbourne. For whatever reason, there is an unusually high number of food lovers in Melbourne, who also happen to write a blog. I think it's due to the amazing vibrant and varied food scene we have here, and enthusiasm tends to drive enthusiasm. I know that at work my enthusiasm for food has rubbed off on so many of my colleagues and I think that's the same with the whole Melbourne food scene. A small number of people are enthusiastic about food, who then share their enthusiasm and so on and so on. For example, I'm so happy that I inspired my cousin Allan to start his own food blog. He has since inspired his friends to do the same.

The food blogging scene has changed since I started blogging, but I find it a good thing. Nothing can stay stagnant for long and unlike some who keep talking about what it used to be like and how good it was, I like to think how good it is now and what's yet to come. People tend to remember things better than they are, because at the beginning of food blogging, I didn't experience half the things I enjoy now. Change is inevitable and I for one like to find the best in the change. In this social media age, there are so many more connections that occur between people. This sometimes leads to meeting people in real life, and a strengthening of relationships. Geographical, sociological and physiological borders are eroded with technology and people from all over the world can get to know each other. I am so happy with the number of amazing friends I've made through food blogging. Yes, food was the catalyst for our initial meeting, but nowadays we connect on so many other things. I count some of my fellow food bloggers as some of my best friends now, and we are involved in all aspects of each other's lives, from birthdays to weddings to births. They're no longer food blogging friends, they're friends who happen to write a food blog. A shout out to the SFBS "gang". You know who you are.

A final item about food blogging that I'll touch on is the still ongoing debate about bloggers taking freebies. It's such a boring subject and I've written about it here if you wish to read about it. My stance on this topic has not changed at all, and has instead strengthened. The one difference is that with age, I have become far less caring about what others who aren't close to me think. I now do what I want and do so happily. Should that not suit the way in which someone else thinks I should live my life, boo hoo to them. I encourage everyone to do the same and stop pushing your judgement on what others should do. I have gained so much out of going to blog freebies that I thank the food Gods that I've had such opportunities to see so many aspects of food and the food industry. My favourite freebie of all time, and there are a number of contenders, is most definitely the boot camp I did at Steer. It opened my eyes to how hard the restaurant game is and gave me some perspective, and I also gained 3 amazing chef friends (who I see and call to talk with nowadays) from that stint and I'm so happy about that.

So, that brings us to the current day. At this moment, my love of food has turned to trying to find cheap good foods that I haven't tried yet and learning to cook better. I want to explore different cuisines and try to use those flavours and change them up a bit to create something different myself. I've liked baking cakes and making desserts for a while now but lately I'm really into making savoury foods too. I've also taken more of a liking to vegetables and even try to cook some vegetable dishes (have you fallen off your chair Cindy?). My food learning continues and this blog will be one aspect of it. Nowadays, more and more I find myself almost micro-blogging via Instagram. So drop over to Instagram and follow me, ieatblog if you want more food in your life. Else, enjoy what you do in regards to food and I'd love any feedback from you about anything.

Black Forest Cake
To celebrate this blog's 7th birthday, I've decided to post this epic Black Forest Cake that I made a little bit back. The recipe is from the Masterchef website and it's an epic cake. First, let us all take a moment and drool at it.

Now, wipe the drool from your chin and let me tell you a bit about the cake. The full recipe makes a massive cake that won't fit into any regular cake carrying container. The recipe is a non-traditional recipe and a whole lot of work. But boy, the result is an amazingly delicious cake with many flavour profiles and a real stunning cake to present for any occasion. I decided to make this cake on a weeknight after work as my work mate said he wanted a black forest cake for his birthday. I didn't read through the recipe at all but had assumed it wouldn't be that hard from the photo of the cake so foolishly said yes. It took me 6 hours to make this cake, and some more time to clean up everything. My kitchen looked like a bomb site and I was covered in chocolate. The cake cost me around $60 to buy all the ingredients. Despite all that, it is worth it. I would make this again, on a weekend so I had the whole day, for someone's birthday or any other special occasion.

Some tips for a better cake
* I wouldn't deviate from the recipe too much. The ratios are right for a three tier cake and the flavours are really good with the full compliment of elements.

* The chocolate sponge is quite a good texture and can be cut into the recommended number of layers and long as you are careful and cut accurately. A tip is to use toothpicks poked around the whole edge of the cake to define the height you want to cut at and then the knife can rest on those toothpicks as you cut.

* I couldn't find semi-candied cherries so I used canned cherries in sugar syrup and that tasted great too.

* I'd recommend using fresh cherries as per the recipe because you cook them down. The fresh cherries retain some texture and stay whole whereas cherries from a jar would probably fall apart and become a bit like baby food and won't have the same mouth feel.

* The hazelnut praline is a lot of work but it does add another element to the cake. However, I'd probably buy the praline (I know you can get peanut praline) if I could and just use that rather than making my own. Peeling hazelnuts is a pain and making a caramel is scary.

* Needless to say it but I will anyway, use a good quality dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa butter to ensure you have a nice rich cake.

* Follow the assembly instructions to build up the cake as trying to build it up as one thing will end in disaster. Do each layer as suggested on a separate chopping board and then lift that onto the main cake.

Black Forest Cake Recipe
Recipe from Masterchef Australia website.

Cooking time: 6 hours
Feeds: 20 regular people or 12 cake fiends

For the chocolate sponge
250gcaster sugar
200gplain flour
50gcocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the candied cherries
1/2 cup semi-candied pitted cherries, 1/4 cup juice reserved
1/4 cup caster sugar

For the cherry compote
1/3 cup caster sugar
600g pitted fresh cherries, halved 1 tbs brandy
1 tbs brandy

For the cherry sugar syrup
90gcaster sugar
1/4 cup cherry juice

For the chocolate hazelnut praline mousse
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted lightly and skinned
300g chopped dark chocolate
3egg yolks
300ml thickened cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the mascarpone cream
500g mascarpone
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 tbs icing sugar

For the dark chocolate ganache
150ml cream
200g chopped dark chocolate
shaved chocolate
fresh cherries

For the chocolate sponge
1. Preheat oven to 160°C fan forced. Grease and line 2 x 20cm springform cake pans.

2. Add eggs and sugar to a heatproof bowl of an electric mixer, and set over a saucepan of simmering water over very low heat. Whisk the mixture until 37°C. Remove the bowl from the heat and beat with an electric mixer on a medium-low speed for 5-8 minutes or until the mixture has cooled and thickened to a mousse-like consistency. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together twice. Using a large metal spoon, fold the dry mixture into the egg mixture in 3 batches until combined, adding the vanilla extract with the first dry batch.

3. Pour the mixture into the lined cake pans and smooth surface. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until sponge springs back when lightly touched. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then turn out onto wire racks. Place in the blast chiller for 10-15 minutes until cake has cooled completely.

For the candied cherries
1. Preheat oven to 120°C. Place cherries on a lined baking tray. Lightly dust with the sugar and place in the oven for 50-60 minutes. Remove and cool. Coat with remaining sugar. Set aside.

For the cherry compote
1. Add the sugar to a non-stick saucepan and place over medium heat. Once the sugar begins to dissolve add the cherries and cook until they start to release their juices. Add the brandy and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the liquid has reduced and thickened. Strain, reserving liquor

For the cherry syrup
1. Heat 170ml water and the sugar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the reserved cherry juice and compote liquor. Allow to cool.

For the chocolate hazelnut praline mousse
1. Line a baking sheet. In a dry heavy-based saucepan, cook sugar over medium heat, stirring, until melted. Once melted, cook without stirring, swirling pan, until lightly golden. Add hazelnuts, stirring until well coated. Immediately pour mixture onto the baking sheet and cool completely, in blast chiller for 5 minutes. Break praline into pieces. Place into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside.

2. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk the egg yolks in a small heatproof bowl. Heat 250ml of the cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir through half of the hot cream into the egg yolks. Return the mixture to the saucepan over low heat and stir until thickened. Strain into a clean bowl. Stir the melted chocolate into the hot custard. Add the vanilla and allow to cool. Whisk the remaining cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into the chocolate mixture with the praline, until just combined. Set aside.

For the mascarpone cream
1. Beat the mascarpone, vanilla and sugar in a bowl until smooth and slightly thicker in volume.

For the chocolate ganache
1. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Set aside. Bring the cream to just below boiling point in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat, then add the melted chocolate and stir until smooth. Allow to cool until thick but still pouring consistency.

To assemble the cake
1. Slice both cakes into thirds. Place the base of 1 cake onto a serving plate and brush with some of the cherry syrup. Spread over half of the chocolate praline mousse.

2. Place the next layer of cake onto a board, and brush with cherry syrup. Spread over half of the mascarpone cream. Divide the cherries into two parts for two separate layers. Place cherries around the border of the cake, 5mm from its edge and scatter remaining in the middle. Carefully remove layer from the board and place on top of the first layer. Repeat each layering process on the board (you will have 1 spare slice of cake), starting with the praline mousse and ending with the cherries on the mascarpone cream.

2. Place the next layer of cake onto a board, and brush with cherry syrup. Spread over half of the mascarpone cream. Divide the cherries into two parts for two separate layers. Place cherries around the border of the cake, 5mm from its edge and scatter remaining in the middle. Carefully remove layer from the board and place on top of the first layer. Repeat each layering process on the board (you will have 1 spare slice of cake), starting with the praline mousse and ending with the cherries on the mascarpone cream.

Friday, July 26, 2013

WTC Wharf Progressive Dinner

Last year, I went on a progressive dinner of WTC Wharf with my fellow food bloggers and we had a great time. This year, the progressive dinner at WTC Wharf is back on. Below are the details.

When: Every Wednesday night (beginning 1st March 2013)
Time: 6.30pm & 7.30pm sittings
Tickets: $55 per person
Bookings: (03) 9629 9228

For your ticket, you get to have one course each at Kobe Jones, The Wharf Hotel and Byblos. For the July lineup that I tried, entree was at Kobe Jones, mains at The Wharf Hotel and dessert at Byblos. This lineup changes each month so ask for details.

We started our meal at Kobe Jones and were seated at the teppanyaki tables. Our chef introduced himself and proceeded to flame up some mushroom salad. It must be deeply ingrained into our genome that fire is important as seeing the food flare up in flames was really impressive. The mushrooms were really good and had a nice charred flavour. The chef then cooked up some salmon in a foil bag, which puffed up more than your eyes when you accidentally get chili into them. I thought the bag was ready to explode, but amazingly it didn't. He then opened the bag to reveal some perfectly cooked salmon in a simple soy based sauce. I really liked the pepper in this dish and it really came through. I'm not a pepper fan in general but somehow the pepper in the fish worked for me.

Mains at The Wharf Hotel included a choice of dishes from a one page list. Most of the mains did not seem that exciting, with the majority of them being salads of some form. I choose a lamb salad, while my dining partner chose a caramelised onion and cheese tart. I had imagined my lamb salad to be beautifully pink pieces of seared lamb on a fresh bed of salad leaves. Instead I got a massive bowl of gyros type shredded lamb with so much rocket you could feed two supermodels for a week. There was also pumpkin and chickpeas in the salad. I liked the soft pumpkin and chickpeas but the cold lamb wasn't very good. The onion tart was far nicer, rich and creamy. However, it was a bit too salty for both our liking.

For dessert at Byblos, we got served a chocolate fondant with yoghurt ice cream and a cocktail each. I loved my lychee cocktail and the fondant had great flavour. It was a tiny bit undercooked so the centre was quite runny, but it was huge so we didn't finish it anyway.

In terms of atmosphere, I love Kobe Jone and Byblos. There's a good vibe in both those places and I really enjoy dining there. However, I don't like The Wharf Hotel's environment at all. It's dark, super loud and just uncomfortable in the way the tables are wedged between the bar and corridor. I can see how it will be nice to sit in the alfresco bar in Summer, but the inside dining room is all wrong for me. The service at all three places were quite varied. Kobe Jones had the best service, followed by The Wharf Hotel and finally the staff at Byblos were extremely busy as everyone ended up there for dessert at the end of the meal. I like the concept of a progressive meal and with all three restaurants so close, it works well. The food styles are very different and I like that. If you're like me, I would recommend giving the progressive meal a try.

My guest and I dined courtesy of WTC Wharf

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Jazz Apples Masterclass with Alana Lowes - Sticky Ribs and Apple Slaw Recipe

Last year was the second year I had been eating Jazz Apples. Just like the previous year, the season was over far too quickly. If you don't know about them, Jazz apples are a mix between a Gala and Braeburn apple. They have a nice tang to them while being very sweet and crunchy. If you don't like crunchy apples, these aren't for you. Me, I love them. They have overtaken Fuji apples as my favourite. This year, the season for Jazz apples is getting longer as the trees mature more and more. The season is expected to last 6 months this time so we'll get to enjoy them for longer.

Last year, I went to Jazz apple masterclass with Fast Ed. At that class, I really saw how well apples can be used in cooking, especially savoury food. I've always thought of cooking apples are a desserts orientated thing, but they're very versatile. So when I was invited this year to attend a masterclass with Alana Lowes of Masterchef fame, I happily accepted.

Upon arrival, Alana served us some Apple and rosemary sorbet. It was so good. The small addition of rosemary just elevated what would normally be a pretty standard apple sorbet into something really interesting and delicious. While we cleansed our palettes, Alana went out explaining the next dish, which was a Spicy sticky pork ribs with smokey BBQ sauce served with a apple mayonnaise salad. I was hooked at ribs and the huge chunks of meat looked so enticing. Alana went about cutting up apples, mixing the glaze, all the while multi-tasking and chatting with us. She was so personable and really lovely. Also, I bow down to any woman who can cook a meal wearing glittery gold high heels. That's a skill.

After we had drunk our wines, the ribs were ready to be served. The oohs and ahhs when the ribs were taken out of the oven really reflected how wonderful the ribs smelled. We moved to the dining table at the Raw Materials studio and setup to eat the meal. While I started eating the ribs with my knife and fork, it was just too slow and ended up using all my fingers to munch into the amazing ribs. The crisp Jazz apple salad really helped to give a nice contrast to the heavy ribs. We, ok I, ate through so many ribs and so much salad. I was one McFatty by the end of mains, and there was still dessert to come.

Dessert was a simple affair, called an Apple and rhubarb filo scrunch. As Alana said, you can throw this altogether when you come back tired from work but still want some dessert. The amazing dessert queen ironchefshellie (who has a real name but I like to call her that) helped Alana make dessert as Ms offthespork (again, not her real name) and I were too busy drinking wine. Michele helped butter all the filo pastry sheets with ghee. Alana told us that ghee doesn't burn like butter and is great to use in this way or in your fry pan to make pancakes. Such a good tip as my butter is always burning when I make pancakes and I don't like that burnt flavour. So Michele gheed all the filo pastry, and then Alana threw on the rhubarb and Jazz apples and scrunched up the pastry. When the scrunch came out of the oven, Alana put on a perfect quenelle of ice cream and voila, one super delicious dessert made in minutes. The rhubarb and Jazz apples were a great flavour combination and I'd highly recommend you try this.

And that concluded a great night where I learned to make even more dishes using Jazz apples. It was heaps of fun, and super delicious. Thanks to Alana for cooking up such a great meal for us.

Sticky Smoky Spicy Pork Ribs with Jazz Apple Slaw Recipe
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 5-10mins (+marinating time)
Cook Time: 1hr – 1 ¼ hrs

2 cups smoky spicy BBQ or Mexican style sauce
Juice of 1 orange
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup brown sugar
1.5kg American pork ribs (small end are the best)

Apple Slaw
1 tbsp mild English mustard
Juice of ½ lemon
½ cup whole egg mayonnaise
3 Jazz apples, cut into matchsticks

To serve, lime segments, coriander leaves and sesame seeds

1. For the pork ribs, place the smoky spicy sauce, orange juice, garlic, maple syrup and brown sugar into a large baking dish. Stir to combine. Add the whole pork ribs and turn to coat completely in the marinade. Allow to marinate for at least 30mins, preferably for 4hrs or overnight.

2. Preheat the oven to 165°c.

3. Drain the marinade and reserve for basting. Cover the baking tray with foil and place in the oven and bake for 45mins.

4. Turn the oven up to 180°c. Remove the baking tray from the oven and remove the foil. Baste the pork ribs with some of the reserved marinade. Return to the oven for 10mins. Baste again and return to the oven. Repeat this until all the marinade has been used and the pork ribs look caramelised and sticky. Approx 15-20mins.

5. For the apple slaw, whisk together the mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper together until well combined. Stir the mustard mixture into the whole egg mayonnaise. Stir the mayonnaise through the Jazz apples.

6. To serve, cut the pork ribs up into 1-2 ribs. Place on a serving tray and sprinkle with coriander leaves, sesame seeds and squeeze over the lemon juice. Serve with the Jazz apple slaw.

I attended the masterclass courtesy of Media Moguls

Monday, July 15, 2013

Laguiole Cutlery Set from Kitchenware Direct - Tres Magnifique

When most people go to a restaurant, they tend to look at the decor and then focus on what to order. I like to look at the decor and menu. but then also focus on the cutlery and crockery. I love seeing what brands of plates and knives restaurants use and then go about determining how a) aesthetically pleasing it is b) how functional it is c) how it all blends together to enhance the meal. The first time that I dined at Vue de Monde, I was transfixed by their water cups and the knives. Oh the shiny baubles of delight. While I found out the water cups are made to order for Vue de Monde and sold via their website ($150 each if you're asking), the knives were Laguiole brand. Many of you have probably used a Laguiole knife in a restaurant before. Generally the steak knife might be the one you've used. It's got the little bee on the handle. Ever since that meal, I've been lusting after the Laguiole cutlery. Therefore, when Kitchenware Direct asked what I wanted to review next, it was without a doubt that I wanted to try the Andre Verdier Laguiole Cutlery Set.

The Laguiole Cutlery Set arrives in this beautiful wooden box, which sorts each cutlery type into separate compartments. The set itself contains the usual utensils of knives, forks and spoons in these amazing colours. I love vibrant looking things and these fit the bill. They work well with simple white or black plates where they are then the focus, or can be paired with patterned plates to give some contrast. Any which way, they are so beautiful. I love the little bee insignia.

I've used all the cutlery to eat a variety of food. Obviously the forks and spoons work as expected. They feel really great in the hand, with a balanced weight to them and I just can't stop staring at the coloured handles, so pretty. However, it's the knives that I'm most in love with. Firstly, I love the shape of the blades, but most importantly, they are sharp. I sliced through my lamb cutlets so easily and it makes eating more enjoyable. I hate having to struggle to cut food as all the grunt I need to exert distracts me from the meal. These knives not only work functionally but in the most fashionable way too.

The cutlery set is not the cheapest, but I can't recommend them highly enough. Get this set and they can sit pride of place amongst all your cutlery. And no, don't shelve them away waiting to be used when guests come over. Use them all the time. You deserve to use the good stuff and feel good. I never understand when people save the best things for their guests. I say, use the best things yourself as you paid good money for it and deserve to feel the luxury and joy the items provide. That's my philosophy anyway. Everyone is different. So I will keep using my Laguiole Cutlery Set and should you come over with a cake to share with me, you can use the cutlery set too.

Thanks to Kitchenware Direct for giving me the Laguiole Cutlery Set. I am totally in love with it.