Monday, 31 October 2011

My short-list: The best food in Sydney


Guest Post by Tara from Fashion Sessions

I love living Sydney because there’s always a fabulous cheap eat, cosy café or cool new bar to discover. There’s nothing better than nursing a cup of hot chocolate and scouring good food blogs (like this one!) to find new eateries to try. That’s how I found Wagaya - a perfect restaurant when dining with a group because you can order a slew of their delicious dishes to share and try a bit of everything!

The best food finds in Sydney
My girlfriends and I also have favourite haunts we return to when we need a guaranteed fix of some of the best food in Sydney.

After a morning scouting for vintage bargains at Glebe Markets, my best friend and I always go for a long brunch to admire our wares and justify a tipple before midday. On Glebe Point  Rd, Clipper Café is right nearby, has their own blend of coffee, uses organic produce and makes wonderful baked eggs with spinach that will keep you going for hours. You need to huddle on communal tables but the jolly atmosphere and quality of the dishes make Clipper Café a great way to start the day and experience some of the best food in Sydney.

Occasionally, the ladies and I like to dress up and go all-out for a High Tea at The Victoria Room in Darlinghurst. Starting at $45 for the Classic High Tea, it is a bit pricey but you can also enjoy the luxurious interiors at night if you stop by for one of the best cocktails in town.   When we’re cash poor but craving a culinary treat, more often than not we end up at Chat Thai, 20 Campbell St. Haymarket in what they call Thaitown ;)  With great low prices, this gem has some of the best food in Sydney so we’re happy to join the cue for a taste of the action.

I must admit despite my love of food, I am not the most competent cook in the world so on those nights we’re too tired (read: lazy) to get presentable and go out, my girlfriends and I usually settle in for a video fest at mine and are fed by some of the mouth-watering takeaway food in Sydney.  As none of us look set to become the next Nigella just yet, we’re lucky so many fantastic eateries have jumped on the ordering-in train meaning we can enjoy the best takeaway food in Sydney  – in our pyjamas!

Image credits: Clipper coffee and amazing muffin : by Charles Haynes

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Al Aseel @ Greenacre


There is an awesome lebanese restaurant in the heart of Greenacre with the name of Al Aseel. My brother first took me to this place a few years back, and ever since it is one of my favourite restaurants. It may not be considered fine dining and fancy, but its cosy and filling and definitely has good food!

I love lebanese styled meats, the charcoal and chargrilled flavour excites me. You know Al Aseel is a good Lebanese restaurant when you actually see other Lebanese eat there, along with all different races. I also have a friend who is Lebanese and she loves this restaurant and says that is similar to what she has at home, so that is definitely a positive sign.

The quality of the photos aren't that great because I was using my phone, my apologies.

Small Fatoush!

Fatoush is one of my favourite types of salad. It contains chopped up lettuce, cucumber, radish, tomato and crispy pieces of Lebanese bread. The main component of the salad dressing is balsamic vinegar. The salad is refreshing, and the Lebanese bread adds a great crunch to the salad. I could eat this salad with anything and be happy for days on end. I have no words to describe a fatoush, just try it and you will not be disappointed (well I hope not).

Small mixed platter

The mixed platter was composed of 2 skewers of kofta (lamb), chicken and beef with a side of garlic sauce (you can not eat chargrilled/charcoaled meat without garlic sauce). If you have never eaten this style of Lebanese food before, here is the process of what to do:
Step 1: Spread some garlic sauce on Lebanese bread
Step 2: Fill the inside with meat and sides (I usually put salad, pickled vegetables and chips)
Step 3: Wrap and eat!
Al Aseel is a great place to eat with a bunch of friends or family and has a wonderful atmosphere. The restaurant can get quite busy, so if you are with a big group I would advise to make a reservation or get there early before the dinner rush (I have never eaten lunch there so I am not sure how busy it can get during the day). I went with my brother, so getting a table for 2 was easy when we walked in to eat. 

Good food, good times!

Home-made Fried Ice-cream


One of the bests part of a meal is the dessert. Ever since I posted on Facebook that I was making fried-ice cream everyone has been wondering how I made it, and now I can reveal the secret (well not so secret) recipe.

Allow at least 24 hours if you are to attempt to make fried ice-cream. The reason being is that you want to ensure that each coat of biscuit crumb is set, and that the ice-cream in the centre is hard so that when you begin to fry it, the ice cream doesn't melt and each coat doesn't break apart.

Ingredients (makes 8)
2 packets of Arnotts milk arrowroot biscuits
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
4L tub of vanilla ice cream (I didn't actually use the whole 4 litres of ice cream for the 8 balls of fried- ice cream but I bought a big tub to be safe than sorry, a 2L tub should just be enough)
Eggs (between 6-8)

1. In a large bowl, crush the arrowroot biscuits (one packet at a time) using a pestle or the end of a rolling pin, until it becomes a crumb texture.
2. Add sugar and ground cinnamon to the biscuit mixture and stir through. Set aside.

3. Using an ice cream scoop, create balls of ice-cream. After each scoop, dip the ice cream scoop in water so you get perfect rounded scoops.

4. Place the ice-cream ball in the bowl of biscuit crumb and coat.

5. Scatter a bit of biscuit mixture at the base of a plastic container, and place the coated ice-cream ball into the container.
6. Freeze for 4 hours.
7. Crack 3 eggs into a bowl and lightly whisk with a fork.
8. Take the coated ice-cream balls out of the freezer and roll one at a time in the egg mixture.

9. Re-coat the ball in the biscuit crumb.
10. Freeze overnight.
11. Repeat steps 7 - 9, and freeze for at least 3 hours before serving. (If you lost track the ice-cream has 3 coats of biscuit crumb)

NOTE: Any leftover biscuit crumb can be kept in an air tight container in the fridge.

Frying the coated ice-cream balls
1. Fill a saucepan half way with canola or vegetable oil.

2. Turn on high heat and wait for oil to be hot enough.
NOTE: To test if the oil is hot a enough throw in some left over bits of biscuit crumb and see if they bubble and fry, or using a wooden chopstick place it in the oil and see if bubbles appear around the chopstick. Another pointer is to flick a bit of water on the oil and listen for a sizzle (a bit more dangerous).
3. Place an ice-cream ball in the hot oil and fry for 5-15 seconds or until golden.

4. Using a spatula, remove from the oil, place in a bowl.

5. Top with chocolate sauce (or your favourite ice-cream topping) and it is ready to eat.

Finished product! Fried ice-cream with chocolate sauce

Good food, good times!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Tray-baked Chicken and Dressed Potatoes


Every so often I enjoy making a nice home cooked meal for some uni friends and for recipes I always turn to 'Jamie's 30 Minute Meals'. This book has yet to fail and everything in it is easy, cheap and lovely to eat.

 Tray-baked chicken with dressed potatoes and salad

The original recipe states to use skinless chicken breasts, but I find that breast pieces are too dry, so I used chicken thigh fillets. Therefore, in this case I allocated 2 thigh fillets, per individual.

Tray-baked Chicken
Ingredients (Serves 5)
Dried oregano/oregano leaves
Sweet Paprika
Butter (approximately 100g)
10 chicken thigh fillets
2 lemons
600g cherry tomatoes on vine (I couldn't find those so I used 2 punnets of boxed cherry tomatoes)
10 rashers of bacon (if possible get on the striped/streaky part - if not then cut the bacon in half so that the middle bacon is separate from the bacon streaks.)

Method (I did this in 2 batches)
1. Wash the chicken thigh fillets and remove any fatty parts.
2. Drizzle with olive oil.
3. Preheat oven to 120 degrees Celsius.
4. On a large piece of greaseproof paper, sprinkle a good pinch salt & pepper, along with dried oregano leaves and sweet paprika.

5. Roll the chicken thigh fillets in the flavours.

6. In a large frying pan drizzle over some olive oil and a knob of butter (around 50g)

7. Add the chicken to the hot pan and fry for 4 to 5 minutes, or until golden on both sides.

8. While chicken is cooking, get a nice roasting tray and quarter 1 lemon and 1 punnet of tomatoes and chuck them on the tray.
Using tongs, arrange the chicken on the tray and a lay/wrap a piece of bacon around each piece of chicken.

10. Still using the frying pan, add sprigs of rosemary to fuse with the juices in the pan and pour over the chicken in the tray. 
NOTE: If there aren't any juices left in the pan add more butter (50g).

11. Cook in the oven for at least 15-20 minutes, ensuring that the chicken is cooked through.
Finished product! =D

Dressed Potatoes

While the chicken was cooking I started on the potatoes.

Ingredients (serving 5)
2 sweet potatoes
4 small to medium potatoes (white-washed ones)
Half a lemon
1 fresh red chilli
Bunch of coriander
100g of feta cheese

1. Peel and wash the potatoes,
2. Cut the potatoes in chunks and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with half a lemon.
3. Wrap in cling-wrap/film and microwave on full for 15 minutes.
4. Check the potatoes are cooked through, and using tongs squeeze over the lemon.

5. Using a fork, crush all the potatoes together, leaving it a bit chunky.
6. Finely chop coriander, chilli and feta cheese and add to potatoes.
7. Mix all together.

To finish off I made a basic salad with a salad mix, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and corn.

Dinner is served!

Good food, good times!

Sugar Hit 2011 @ Shangri-la Hotel, Sydney


As a part of the Crave Sydney International Food Festival a few restaurants are providing late night (after 9pm) sugar hits, each for $20, and each providing a different experience. For more information on different Sugar Hit events check out Crave Sydney Sugar Hit.
On Thursday night I was invited by a friend to attend Sugar Hit at the Shangri-la hotel and had a very interesting food journey. The outside of the Shangri-la hotel doesn't look like much but once you walk in you can engage in all the glamour behind the name (and that was just the lobby).

We were all seated on luscious sofas in the lobby lounge and provided with our desserts with a side of Brown Brothers Dessert wine.

Everyone enjoying their sugar hits!

Some of the desserts were really good, as others not to much. Starting from the top right and going clockwise.

Tart: The little tart was filled with chocolate ganache with a glazed cherry. The cherry was glazed in some sort of red wine which gave it a distinct taste. I prefer white wine over red, so the cherry was not my cup of tea.
Chocolate macaron: It was too chewy for a macaron but the chocolate taste was there.
Pistachio slice: One of the best pistachio cakes I have tried. It had a great nutty taste and in the cream there were little jelly type balls which added lightness to the dessert. It was a great tongue cleanser after all the chocolate.
Opera cake: I am pretty sure it was opera cake, and if it wasn't, than no matter what it was it tasted good. With layers of ganache, sponge and a layer of crunch it tasted extraordinary. After each bite there was a new flavour tasted.
Chocolate mousse cake: As you can see there was a little pipette with raspberry sauce in it. It reminded of me a little Heston Blumenthal dining experience where you mix science with food. You squeeze the raspberry sauce inside and when you break through it, the sauce starts to ooze out. The dessert was fun to play with and had an exceptional taste. I like to believe that any dessert revolving around mousse can never fail to please.
Nutella cake: One of my favourites of them all. It seemed to be hazelnut (or nutella) ganache on top of a crispy wafer base. I loved the crunch of the base, it had a texture of layered crispy wafer which was a perfect balance to the soft hazelnut ganache. I think this was most people's favourite dessert, a definite crowd pleaser.

Delectable desserts

Cross section of chocolate mousse cake

Good food, good times!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Night Noodle Market @ Hyde Park


As all Sydney food bloggers should know, the month of October celebrates the Crave Sydney International Food Festival, where there all different food events all around sydney, each with a unique culinary experiences. The most popular of them all is the Night Noodle Markets at Hyde Park (10-14 and 17-21 from 5-9pm). There are 20+ food stores with most providing authentic asian cuisines from dumplings, to noodles and various desserts.

I got there around 430-5pm. I would definitely advise to go early to be able to sit at a table and to avoid long queues for food. Furthermore, it gives you time to have a walk around and look at the all the dishes provided at each store so you can make your pick.

I love Din Tai Fung dumplings, they are my favourite dumplings of all time. They are freshly made with precision and have a great flavour. Inside the dumpling there is some type of soup that just bursts inside your mouth. I have been craving these dumplings for months, craving was finally fulfilled!

I also bought some sweet buns from Din Tai Fung, each with a different filling (black sesame, taro and red bean). They were soft and tasted wonderful. My favourite was taro (even though I normally don't like taro). They aren't to sweet, so it is possible to a huge amount, but I decided to save my stomach for other food.

 Din Tai Fung steamed pork dumplings $6 (4 pieces)

Mini Buns Trio $6 (3 pieces) Red bean, taro and black sesame

My sister bought Malaysian food from Jackie M Malaysian Cuisine. The beef and lamb were mouth watering, just breaking up in your mouth and the curry had the perfect amount of spice. There was a strange yellow salad composed of some vegetable, it tasted of satay and had a great crunch.

Nasi Lemak with lamb curry and beef rendang $18
(From Jackie M Malaysian Cuisine)

Continuing on with the  Malaysian cuisines we bought roti from Mamak. This was my first time trying roti and it was SENSATIONAL! I don't even have the words to describe what it was like, but it was good. The inside had egg, and you tear apart the roti and dip it in the curry and you can also spread some spicy sambal sauce on it.

Roti $6 (the one on the right is squashed together, so is a bit more flaky)

Next stop was SpanThai, I saw this stand last year when I went and vowed to try it this year and I did. SpanThai seemed like a mixture of spanish - thai. That is, cooking thai food in a giant paella. The dish had a strong flavour of saffron but with all the vegetables and a squeeze of lemon it was great. It tasted as good as it looked. There were a lot of people with this dish, and someone had asked me where I got it so they could get the same thing.

Saffron Chicken Rice: Rice, chicken, garlic, saffron, chicken stock, mushrooms, capsicum
green beans, cherry tomatoes, black olives topped with peanuts $12 

There were ample amount of dessert options, and with so much variety it is really hard to decide what we want. But this is what we got:

Egg Tarts $10 (6 pieces) from St Honore Cake Shop

Frozen soft serve yoghurt with wildberry sauce and nuts $5 (From Curlymoo)

I tried the above desserts and they were good and won't disappoint. But now for my main dessert. I saw this last year but they had sold out and I made it destiny to try it this year. Most people would think passionfruit and chilli should not be put together, but this interesting concoction was  pleasant on the palate and definitely an acquired taste. With the first spoonful there was a strong passion fruit flavour, and after a few seconds of the ice cream melting on your tongue you get the hit of a chilli flavour. It is a different type of chilli where it was a tad spicy, yet subtle (similar to the dried chilli that some asian countries eat with fruit e.g. pineapple). I admit I couldn't eat a lot of it, so this tub was the perfect amount. 

Passionfruit and chilli ice cream $4 (Serendipity)

Good food, good times!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Sydney Dumpling King and Gelatissimo @ Burwood


I have been craving dumplings for a few weeks now and the craving was finally satisfied when I went to the Sydney Dumpling King in Burwood . It wasn't as good as Din Tai Fung, but still good enough for me to go again whenever I am in need for some dumplings.

Taiwanese spiced pork noodles $7.00

It was a nice basic noodle dish, however it did not taste spicy. The pork was nice with the vegetables and the sauce had a decent flavour. I really do wish it was spicy though, because once adding a bit of chilli oil over the noodles it made it a lot tastier.

Now to the dumplings, between the 4 of us we ordered 4 different types of dumplings. That was 60 dumplings! It was perfect for us (unless the guys were lying about being full). The dumplings can either be steamed for fried (fried there is a $2 surcharge). The menu has a wide variety of pork, beef, lamb, chicken and fish dumplings, each with different types of vegetables.

Our banquet of dumplings: Pork with chives , lamb with coriander , and pork with prawn, eggs and chives
$7.90 each plate of 15 dumplings

Chicken and mushroom dumplings (fried) $10.50

The overall experience was great with each dumpling tasting wonderful. We only ended up paying $11 each, so for a deliciously cheap dinner you know where to go. The staff were very efficient and provided great customer service. It is very casual dining experience, its perfect after a long day at work or uni and all you need is a good cheap feed.

And of course you can't have dinner without dessert. So we went to gelatissimo.  Gelatissimo which is right next to the Burwood Westfield entrance and had the 32 scoop ice cream sundae! It contained all the flavours of ice cream they had that night with strawberries, wafers, cones with cream and chocolate sauce. It cost around $35 and was worth every single bit!

Me with the sundae


With dinner and dessert costing less than $20 each it was a great night out!

Good food, good times!

Adriano Zumbo Patisserie @ Balmain


There is no better way to start a long weekend (got to love having no uni on Fridays) than to enjoy it with some good company and awesome treats from Adriano Zumbo Patisserie - Balmain (296 Darling St, Balmain, NSW 2040

And the feast begins!

Before digging into our lovely desserts we thought to start off with something savoury. So we decided to get the chorizo stick. It was like a chorizo pizza but on sour-dough bread. The bread was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, just how bread should be. All the flavours of the chorizo stick fused together perfectly. It was so good, that our jaws started to hurt from all the chewing. =D

Chorizo stick - Chorizo, capsicum, olives and caramelised onion $6

Now for the desserts!!! =D

My friend purchased 'what a great pear' which has choux pastry, pear & vanilla creme patissier, almond crunch, pear mousse, pera gel, chocolate square and marzipan. It was amazing! From one spoonful, you could taste everything. The pastry was soft, yet had a slight crisp. It had a light and pleasant taste, so it didn't make you feel heavy after eating it. The almond crunch at the base added a great change in texture from the soft pastry.

What a great pear $9

Inside of What a great pear

I love passionfruit in all desserts. A lot people find the taste to overpowering but I think with the right chocolate it provides a perfect balance, and this was a good balance. The passiondor contains hazelnut dacquoise, praline feuilletine noisette, passionfruit milk chocolate ganache, passionfruit milk chocolate chantilly. There was an intense flavour of passionfruit with every spoonful, and each time it touched your tongue it just melted. 

Passiondor $9

My sister purchased 'My Low in Life' which was definitely the most exciting of the all the desserts. It is a Milo based dessert (My Low - gotta love puns) composed of 3 layers. The first layer was a malt mousse under a dome of chocolate which was delectable. Followed by a milo milkshake, which you drank using the straw that was inserted. Only zumbo would be able to create airtight layers where such a wonderful experience could occur. Underneath the milo milkshake there was a chocolate disc, which you snap through to get to the chantilly cream where zumbo fused bits of milo into it. This dessert was just full of surprises and something that is very fun to eat. It is definitely a crowd pleaser.

My Low in Life $10

And of course you can't leave Adriano Zumbo's patisserie without some macarons. I had already tried the most of his latest range as seen here but I still had a few missing, and luckily for me they had the ones I hadn't tried were in the patisserie!

Coffee creme brulee, chocolate pop, lemon and olive oil, pear & vanilla and fig & burnt honey $2.30 each

My thoughts on the flavours:
**Coffee creme brulee - It was a macaron that was coated in sugar that was slight burnt, just like a real cream brulee. I am not the biggest fan of drinking coffee, but I enjoy coffee flavoured treats. The sugar coating added a nice texture and the coffee ganache was lovely. A coffee lovers dream.
Chocolate pop - Nothing can go wrong with chocolate, and that statement still stands. The inside didn't seem to be ganache but rather a chocolate mousse. It had a nice smooth texture and very light compared to ganache. With the name of chocolate pop, i thought there would be bits of popping candy in the macaron, but even so it was still good.
Lemon and Olive oil - It sounds strange but it wasn't that bad, the ganache tasted like vanilla with a hint of lemon and olive oil. It didn't have the oily texture, which I thought it would.
**Pear and vanilla - At first I couldn't taste the pear but half way through the flavour just burst out. I could eat a whole box of these.
**Fig and burnt honey - I have never tried a fig, so I am not quite sure what it was supposed to taste like, but I have tried honey and that flavour came through very well. I am not the biggest fan of honey, but I was a big fan of this macaron. The honey flavour wasn't to overpowering, when I thought it would be.
Note: The ** were my favourite ones.

Adriano Zumbo never fails to disappoint, there were so many more desserts I wanted to try but didn't want to get to greedy.

Good food, good times!