Friday, 29 March 2013

The Grounds of Alexandria @ Alexandria


Finally, my first trip to The Grounds of Alexandria! I have been wanting to try the Grounds for a very long time, but just never got around to it. When half my family decided to go overseas, I thought as a last outing we would go eat breakfast together, and what a great idea that was! 

My lovely mocha

Smoked ham hock with crushed peas, parmesan and 
house preserved lemon on sour dough with poached eggs

The ham hock is roasted for 6 hours before being served. It had a wonderful taste with a mix of salty and sweet. This was a simple breakfast with great flavours. The peas and lemon help balance the the semi-salty ham.

Pancakes with fresh ricotta, plum compote served with toasted pecans

These could possibly be the best pancakes I have ever tried. The pancakes were big and fluffy with a lovely touch of cinnamon. Crunchy toasted peacans with fresh ricotta and plum is a match made in heaven. There was no flaw to this dish, it was amazing!!

Grounds breakfast board - ham, avocado, fresh tomato, persian feta, two poached eggs, house made pesto and toasted sour dough

The breakfast board is a simple array of breakfast options. For the price, we all thought it was pretty ordinary. However, they do provide fresh ingredients, but if you want a big oily breakfast, may be not get the breakfast board and choose something else on their tasty menu.

Turkish style eggs - poached eggs in a rich tomato sauce with cannellini beans, spinach, pistachio labneh and sour dough bread. 
Sided with spicy lamb sausage and kipfler potatoes

The best of the best! I don't normally like anything that is similar to baked beans, but this dish was wonderful! The poached eggs were perfect, and probably the best poached eggs that I have ever cut through. This is a dish for a big hearty breakfast filled with flavour. I was extremely satisfied with this dish, I couldn't finish all the beans.

Another great part of The Grounds is their garden. They have a large garden area where you can enjoy your coffees, have a chat or just sit and think. The garden has a small play house for the kids, chickens and a pig (with an awesome name of Kevin Bacon). 

The Grounds of Alexandria is a hustle and bustle area of Alexandria where people gather for meetings or friendly catch ups. There are a lot of people stating they have to wait a long time for a table, so get there fast! We got there just before 10, so we were seated straight away. 

Good food, good times!

Blancharu @ Elizabeth Bay


Blancharu is a small restaurant located under a side walk of Elizabeth Bay. It is where East meets West, i.e. Japanese cuisine meets French. They have a simplistic décor with a warm feeling with ambient lighting. There was a lot of conversing around the restaurant with everyone having a great time. My friends and I obtained a deal where we had 5 courses for $35. 

Crown of crab with eggplant and pea tower and tomato vinaigrette

This was a cold starter and was a great start to the meal. There were many interesting elements to the dish that some how worked together. Combining all the elements together allowed a merge of all the flavours. I wish they provided more of the crisp bread, as it added the crunch to the dish.

Potato and leek soup with a broth

This may be one of the nicest soups I have tried in a restaurant. There were two distinct layers, in which the potato and leek sat at the bottom, and the broth was above. The potato component was nice and smooth. This would be perfect for those days in winter when sick in bed.

Grilled fish in a sweet porridge

This dish wasn't the best of the dishes. We all didn't finish it. The grilled fish had a sweet glaze, and was accompanied with a sweetish porridge. It just didn't work for me. I ate the fish but left the porridge, I kept on trying it, thinking maybe it will be different with each spoonful, but just didn't work.

Roasted sirloin with broad beans and crumb

This was wonderful after the not so great fish dish. A simple sirloin cooked to medium rare and broad beans. The beans were cooked in a bit too much butter, but still worked great.

Vanilla pannacotta with sliced pineapple, pineapple juice and lemon sorbet

This was a deliciously awesome dessert. The sweet pannacotta against the bursts of pineapple with the pineapple juice was refreshing. The best part was the lemon sorbet that added the sourness to it all. It was a great end to the meal and tasted wonderful!

The staff at the restaurant are friendly, but the down fall (other than the sweet porridge with fish dish) was that we were seated near the kitchen and bathroom and there seemed to be no air ventilation there which made our dining experience a bit unpleasant. 

Good food, good times! 

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

GIGINO @ Fairfield West


Italian food, we all love it, but a lot of the time it can be overpriced or just not what you want. I have a solution...GIGINO. GIGINO is located in Fairfield (considered as Sydney's west) along a main road known as Hamilton road. It has only been open for a year, and now going into their second year with great success (GIGINO facebook page). I went on a Sunday evening with my family, and by 8 o'clock it was a packed house. It is a small restaurant that holds roughly 30-40 people inside (including window seats), and 10 outside. Therefore, for large groups (5-10) I strongly advise to make a reservation to secure a table. Throughout the week they have their weekly specials, serve lunch and have BRUNCH SUNDAYS!

Arancini balls ($11) and lasagne special ($17)

The above dishes were the specials of the night. Arancini balls are one of the greatest things ever created. As my sister in law said 'cooked rice, cheese and deep fried' nothing can go wrong when you combine those 3 things in a ball of crunchy goodness. Some of them had a bit of a cold centre (as in a few grains of rice) but wasn't really noticed when you eat it with the hot outside. The lasagne was one of the best restaurant lasagnes we have tried. So many layers of pasta and meat. It was great, if it had a bit more cheese on the top it would be even more perfect!!!!

Mozzarella salad ($10) and mixed salad ($5)

To break through all the goodness we thought we would balance it all with some salads. Both salads were simple in nature where the mozzarella salad contained chunks of mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, and the other with tomatoes, lettuce and onions. The salads come undressed, but balsamic vinegar and oil are provided on the table so the salads can be dressed to your liking.

The condiments

I loved how the table had a fresh basil, and that the chilli oil came in a tuna can! Simple touches that make the difference

Capricciosa ($18) and Salsiccia ($19)

A great thing about GIGINO's pizzas are the simple nature of them. It isn't all about how many things are on the pizza, but how they taste together. These are your traditional Italian pizzas, so you won't see your Hawaiin, or meat lovers pizza on the menu. Capricciosa was a tomato based pizza with mozzarella, artichokes, anchovies, olives, capers and oregano. There was a lot of strong natural flavours on the pizza from the anchovies, olives and capers. But the pizza was not over crowded with all the tasty ingredients which allowed all their individual characteristics to explode in your mouth.

Salsiccia was another tomato based pizza with mozzarella, pork sausage and mushrooms. This pizza is ideal for the mushrooms lovers out there. The pork sausage wasn't done in slices, it was more minced which allowed it to be easily consumed, however the true taste of the pork was hard to depict. It was still a great pizza with all the mushroomy goodness!

DESSERTS! The best way to end a meal.

Gelato (3 scoops $7.50) and pannacotta ($8.50)

The gelato flavours chosen were chocolate and snickers. The snickers ice cream was the BEST snickers ice cream I have ever tried. A combination of caramel, nut pieces and chocolate worked perfectly without loosing the nature of the ice cream. It tasted EXACTLY like a snickers bar, it was delectable! The pannacotta had a raspberry jelly base, and the pannacotta itself was quite gelatinous compared to what I am used to. A great tasting dessert.

Mango & passionfruit tiramisu ($9.00) and affogato ($6.50)

If you want a lighter dessert option I advise the tiramisu. The fruity nature of the dessert allows a light yet delicious end to a meal. The layers of sponge, cream, passionfruit and mango cannot go wrong. The affogato was as traditional as it gets with an expresso shot and vanilla ice-cream, nothing could and did go wrong! All the desserts were demolished, which means they were all enjoyed, which can often be rare at restaurants.

The overall experience at GIGINO was fantastic! The end bill between 4 people with all that food was roughly $28 each which I think is great for entrée  main and dessert. The staff are friendly and are always willing to provide feedback. They are very welcoming of new customers and ask how you found out about GIGINO to see if they are in the local eye or to see how far you travel. I have never had such great service at an Italian restaurant.

Good food, good times!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Petaling Street Malaysian Hawker Food @ Haymarket


Malaysian is slowly making its way up in all dining experiences, in terms of popularity. Mamak in Haymarket, continues to have long lines but new restaurants are slowly emerging. Petaling Street tries to provide a first hand experience of Malaysian street food. I first tried Petaling Street with my family a few months ago, where we ordered enough just to knock us off the edge and waddle out of the store. This time around, I was having lunch with a friend, and made sure I didn't make the same mistake of over ordering. The main dishes range from $9-20, which I think it very reasonable!

Rose water based drink

What a lovely coloured drink, and extremely refreshing! The combination of rose water, grenadine, water and lime. I forgot the name of the drink, but I know it is a speciality at the restaurant! I just googled the names of the drinks that were on the menu and went with the one that sounded the most irresistible. Similar to an ice tea, but not as sweet. Perfect for a hot summers day or night.

Hainanese Chicken with rice and soup

A classic Malaysian dish that does not go wrong. The chicken was cooked perfectly and dressed with a soy based sauce. There was a side of cucumber, and two sauces which accompanied the chicken and rice perfectly. The soup that accompanied the dish had a strong flavour of onion, which was way too overwhelming for my liking.

Malaysian style crispy chicken and noodles

We all love crispy chicken, and the Malaysian style wasn't any different, where it still had a crispy skin. The noodles were stir fried with a brown sauce. The serving size was huge! Should definitely fill up anyone who is super hungry.

I have yet had the chance to go to Malaysia, but if the food is as good as Petaling St, then I am pretty sure I would be on a non-stop eating adventure of the streets of Malaysia.

Good food, good times!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Rekorderlig Passionfruit Cider Launch Event @ Taste of Sydney, Centennial Park


If people are Rekorderlig Cider fans, then you must have heard about the new Passionfruit Cider. The new flavour was officially launched at Taste of Sydney @ Centennial Park (14-17 March 2013), at the Rekorderlig Cider tent. Rekorderlig provided great entertainment, with a DJ, table tennis table and a fuse ball table fun for all ages! They also provided seating areas of lounge chairs and bean bags, creating a perfect vibe to enjoy some great tasting cider.

Passionfruit Cider

Orange & Ginger Rekorderlig Cider

Now, a review of the lovely ciders! The passionfruit and orange & ginger cider are the two latest products in the Rekorderlig range. I will start with orange & ginger. This cider isn't as sweet as the other flavours of Rekorderlig. The ginger is subtle, which allows the orange flavour to come through. A way I ended my night!

Now to the passionfruit, I was so excited when the Rekorderlig facebook page announced the new flavour. Passionfruit is one of my favourite flavours in all foods, the balance between sweet and sour is just perfect! It was a great start to my Taste of Sydney adventure. The cider has a lovely taste that isn't too strong, but just enough to appreciate its greatness. With a wedge of lime in the drink, it is the taste of summer in your mouth, and refreshing in nature. The passionfruit cider was the most popular beverage of the event, and completely understandable considering how nice it is!

Now to another main part of the event, the food! I went to Taste of Sydney with my sister, so we each chose  2 savouries and one sweet each.

Longrain - Roast Murray Valley pork salad with crisp rice, mint, chilli, lime & peanuts

This dish was filled with Asian flavours of mint, chilli, and a fish sauce based dressing. It was unfortunate that the shallots were overpowering, and the pork itself couldn't be tasted. There was a dish at Three Blue Ducks that looked similar but with duck instead, which had a bigger serving and looked just as good. 

Three Blue Ducks - Braised pork, radish and lemon vebena caramel

This may be the best braised pork I have tried (apart from my mums of course). Two lovely pieces of succulent pork served with a warm caramel sauce. The radish was crunchy  which complimented the soft pork. This was a lovely start to my night of food adventures.

Four In Hand - Spit roast suckling pig with coleslaw, hot sauce and potatoes

Now, this is the BEST suckling pig I have every tried. As you can see from the photo, it just falls apart. It was accompanied with a lovely hot sauce, that didn't take away the delicious pork. This is my kind of dish, pork, perfect potatoes and coleslaw. If there was anyone that didn't like this dish, then I have no idea what went wrong.

Porteno - BBQ wagyu beef brisket with BBQ sauce, coleslaw and pickle

Another crowd pleaser. The line for Porteno was long, but made sense considering the food that was provided. The wagyu was the softest piece of meat my sister and I have ever eaten. My sister has braces, and this was a good dish for her since you didn't need to bite it! The meat was so soft, that you break it in your mouth without using your teeth! The sauce went extremely well as well. The coleslaw at Three Blue ducks was better though.

Ananas Bar & Brasserie - Salted caramel eclair

The famous salted caramel eclair that has appeared all over Instagram and all social media. While lining up for it, I heard so many people around holding the eclair and waiting to get their hands on one.  So much goodness in one little package! Salted caramel custard inside, with a lovely sweet icing on top. I shall be craving this for a while.

The Woods - Chocolate swiss roll with poached plum and cream

I know the photo is a bit dark, but as the sun goes down my photos become a lot harder to take. You may think, swiss roll? Really? What's so special about that?. And you know what, you're right, they always quite ordinary..but not this one. This was made from quality chocolate. There was still a differentiation between cake and cream. The plum and cream helped break the intensity of the chocolate. Swiss rolls can't be viewed the same.

Croquembouche Patisserie - Raspberry, hazelnut eclairs, raspberry compote and mini croquembouche

These were my take home deserts, they were nice but I have tried better. My favourite of the take home treats was the raspberry eclair.

Back to Rekorderlig at the end of the night for some last drinks, and goodies! They had special goody bags for people who bought 4 or more Rekorderlig drinks. The bag contained a lovely Rekorderlig glass and hat! Thank you Rekorderlig!

 Good food, good times!

Friday, 15 March 2013

V Cupcakes recipe


A fellow co worker of mine was leaving, and she loves drinking V. So as my parting gift, I thought I would make her V cupcakes. The V can also mean vegan, as the cupcake recipe itself does not use any animal products. However, I did top the cupcakes with a buttercream frosting, which isn't vegan.

(Makes 9-12 cupcakes, depending on the cupcake liners you use)
1 cup ‘V’ energy drink
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cup plain flour

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Combine sugar and oil by mixing together - should still be able to see sugar crystals.
3. Add 'V', vanilla essence, baking soda, baking powder and salt and mix together quickly.
4. Sift in flour and combine, the mixture will appear white.
5. Fill each cupcake case 3/4 full and bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly brown.

*If you don't want to use V, you can substitute it with any flavoured drink of your liking - including soft drinks or juice.

Buttercream Frosting
125g butter (room temperature)
1 1/2 cups icing sugar (sifted)
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1 tablespoon of V

1. Using an electric mixer (stand or hand), mix the butter until it turns white.
2. Slowly add the icing sugar, and combing well before each addition.
3. Once all combined, stir in vanilla and V (ensuring the mixture doesn't become too runny). If it does, add a bit more icing sugar.

Please excuse my piping skills, there was some air pockets in the piping bag which caused some screw ups in the icing.

Good food, good times!