Thursday, 27 June 2013

Hartsyard @ Newtown


I have wanted to try Hartsyard since it opened a bit over a year ago. Finally, I seized the opportunity to go. Hartsyard is an urban styled dining experience, where you can catch up with a friend, or a small group and share lots of good food. The lighting provides an intimate atmosphere, with a friendly vibe. For 2 people the waiter advised to choose maximum of 3 dishes, or 4 if you aren't having dessert. This was perfect amount, when walking out on a full stomach in a very satisfying nature.

All the tables have tabasco sauce and awesome cloth napkins

House smoked ham, potato buns, pickled greens, tomato relish, mustard, cripsy pig, parmesan cheese
This was a lovely starter from the 'seed' portion of the menu. It was a great dish, where all the condiments provided different elements of salty and tangy. The only part I didn't like was the spoonful of pig fat they put on the side of dish, just doesn't feel right to eat or spread on fat like that. It is a new dish on their menu where the waiter asked for our opinion of the dish when we had consumed it all.

Mocktails $8, Cocktail $18
Mocktails aren't on the drinks menu, but they are more than happy to whip one up for you. I have no idea what was in my mocktail, but it was refreshing.

Pulled pork, maple bacon, labne, apple and pork crackling 
Can't get enough pork! The slab of pulled pork may not look very big in the photo, but it had a lot of pork in it. I am usually not a fan of maple bacon, but the caramelisation was deliciously different. The sauce was nice and sticky in nature. The labne, apple and crackling made as an excellent side.

Fried chicken, buttermilk biscuit, low country sausage gravy
Fried chicken, can't say no to that. There were 3 pieces of chicken on the plate, all coated with crunchy goodness. The gravy was very creamy, and not the normal brown gravy you expect. Underneath the gravy was bread, but I was hoping it was mash potato which would have accompanied the chicken a lot better. 

Peanut butter & Banana Sundae: Pretzel ice cream, banana cream filled doughnuts and chocolate fudge
After feeling really full of the 'seeds' and 'feeds' dessert was still a must. We were tempted to get 2 desserts, but decided to share the one and we chose the sundae. A great mixture of sweet and salty, which may not be everyone's cup of tea. My favourite part was the banana cream filled doughnuts! The banana inside with crunchy, soft, cinnamon outside, DELICIOUS! I wish you could just order those for dessert. The pretzel ice-cream takes sometime to adjust to, but once there it is a tasty treat! 

The staff at Hartsyard are really friendly, and provide good advice on what you may or may not want to order. The entire meal, including drinks came to roughly $120 for 2 people. It was a very fulfilling meal, and will definitely be going there again.

Good food, good times! 

Saturday, 15 June 2013

How to pull off a WONKA Themed Party!!


It was my 21st birthday at the end of May, which explains why my blog wasn't very active.  During the month of May a lot of time was going towards uni and my birthday celebration. I thought I would do a quick post on my 21st birthday celebrations and  how to pull off a WONKA themed party!

Firstly, I celebrated with my family early by going to Wagaya and VIVID Sydney at Darling Harbour. This was then followed by a smashing 2 hour family karaoke session! =D

One of my closest girlfriends surprised me early on a Sunday morning. My dad had answered the door, and she asked him to call me out but not to mention why. I run to the door in my pjamas, to find her there holding a cake with a candle, sparkler, and singing me Happy Birthday!

Orange & Fig with cream cheese from Black Star Pastry

On my actual birthday, I went to have lunch with one of my uni mates, and at dinner I was spoiled with a dinner date at the Quay. This was then followed by a stroll around the Sydney Harbour VIVID lights.

The following day, my highschool girl friends surprised me with more cake. First, one of them came over and we were talking. I then could then hear some noises coming from outside, I opened the door to see more of my friends, and one was holding beautiful tulips. We will be growing old together! =D

This was not a staged photo

Cake from Cavallaros

The last of my birthday celebrations ended with my WONKA themed birthday party. With about 2 months worth of preparation and planning, it was the best party I have ever hosted where nothing went wrong! The idea came from a friend who one day said 'you should have a WONKA themed party' and that is what I did. A special shout out to all those people that dressed up! =D

Key points:
1. PLANNING! Key to any event, but mainly to themed ones!
2. My favourite store during this time was Ronis & Reject Shop @ Liverpool. They had everything I needed for all colourful things for the event. Including the balloons + helium hire.
3. GOOGLE for different ideas and approaches to how others have done a WONKA PARTY!

4. The Professors was my go to online candy shop. Free shipping for purchases over $80, and has a great variety of all different confectionery at really good prices. 
5. Dressing up! The theme was WONKA, I therefore strongly encouraged a lot of colours for outfits, or to come as some of the characters. I myself, went as Willy Wonka.
6. If it is for a kids party, you can have candy related games and such, but since it was for my 21st, it was about food, fun, friends and family!

WONKA Golden ticket invitations
A lot of people wondered how I did the invitations, and the design all done in Microsoft Word. I googled golden tickets designs and then I created my own. I purchased the paper from Eckersleys, which is double sided gold paper, and printed double sided. The red envelopes were from OfficeWorks, and I printed and glued on a WONKA Bar IMAGE that I got from the internet. 

Mushroom backdrop
All I did was purchase some white spotted wrapping paper and cut out mushroom shapes. For the stalk, I cut out the shape on brown cardboard.

My Wonka Candy Buffet designed by me
Poms Poms (Ebay): POM POM seller

Thanh Bars made by Bak3rlicious:

Some of the lollies. Labels made by Bak3rlicious

My close friends with our GIANT boxes of WONKA Candy Urban Outfitters - OVERSIZED CANDY

The Confectionery was either WONKA or WONKA related (by the characters/film/movie concepts). My Candy buffet was composed of:
  • Pixie/Sherbet sticks: Placed in glass jars.
  • WONKA Fabulicious Raspberry twists: Placed in pull up straw containers.
  • Lollipops: Stuck into foam cones from Lincraft.
  • Augustus Gloop Cupcakes: Chocolate cupcakes with a chocolate centre, labelled with edible WONKA label (image and links further down).
  • WONKA Red Skins: Buckets purchases from Ronis @ Liverpool.
  • Violet Beauregarde Gum: Blue Chewing gum in paper party boxes
  • WONKA sweetarts: Little packets that came with the oversized box. Placed in buckets.
  • THANH BAR: Instead of a Wonka Bar, personalised by Bak3rlicious.
  • Veruca Salt Golden Eggs: I found a random place that was still selling GOLD Cadbury easter eggs, and I created a Good/Bad Scale on word, based from the first movie.
  • WONKA Tofee Apples: The candy version, not the actual apples. Places in paper party boxes.
  • Mike Tee Vee Snacks: Arnotts Tee Vee Snacks, placed on a plate
  • Gobstoppers: Little packets that came with the oversized box. Placed in buckets
  • WONKA Nerds: Little packets that came with the oversized box. Placed on a plate, however I purchased more from an online & local store: LINK HERE

My backyard was decorated with balloons, giant striped umbrellas from the clothesline, noodle candy boxes and coloured citronella candle

My driveway/walkway filled with balloons lollipops, poms poms and a bubble machine (not in photo) Auburn Party Store
For the balloon sticks, I bought 100 pack of normal balloon sticks, and then taped 3 together per lollipop for a stronger structure. I also purchased the tie died balloons from the party store. Each balloon was wrapped with about 1 metre of cellophane. As people walked into the party, there was actually a bubble machine going, as from the first movie made. 


Augustus Gloops

Violet Beauregardes

More Oomploompas

Veruca Salt

Augustus Gloop Cupcakes, with edible WONKA Rice Paper labels LINK HERE

A WONKA Birthday Cake - Made by my sister and sister-in-law

Lemon & Blueberry layer

Chocolate & peanut butter layer

There are so many people to thank for making my 21st birthday celebrations the best birthday ever, and for making my party a success. I just want to thank everyone again! You have made me feel  special, loved and I am extremely lucky to have you all in my life! <3

Good food, Good times!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Quay @ Circular Quay


The infamous Quay. Everyone has seen the desserts such as Snow Egg and Eight texture cake on Masterchef Australia, and now I have been lucky enough to try not only the desserts but also the tasting menu. The reason for the dining experience was for my 21st Birthday, where someone very special to me spoiled me with the Quay dining Experience (THANK YOU!!!). I am also lucky that my birthday coincides with Vivid Sydney, meaning that the entire night there was the view of the pretty changing lights of the Sydney Opera House. 

The photo doesn't quite grasp the amazing view

Quay is a 3 chef hatted restaurant, and is the first of the 3 hatted restaurant I have been able to dine. Quay provides two dining experiences, the tasting menu and a choice of 4-course menu.We had two menus, I received the tasting menu (TM) and my dining partner had a 4 course vegetarian menu (VM). Originally, it was supposed to be 2 tasting menus, but due to certain allergies the Quay kitchen were unable to cater. Therefore, for every second meal I had, my partner had 1 meal. 

Lychee Mocktail (I don't know why this photo is showing up weird)

Amuse Bouche: Salmon and Kingfish jelly with wasabi cream (TM)
I never thought that salmon and kingfish could be presented in such an interesting way. They were filled with their natural flavour, succulent, but yet gelatinous? The wasabi cream added the kick, which helped balance it all out. 

Congee of Northern Australian mud crab, fresh palm heart and egg yolk emulsion (TM)
This is generally not what you picture congee to look or taste like. Despite what I was expecting, it was delicious. The mud crab was shredded and cooked to perfection. The emulsified egg was just another way of eggs that I wish I knew how to make, such a soft and delicate egg.

Salad of albino and chioggia beetroots, preserved wild cherries, goat's curd, scorched beet leaves and violets (TM & VM)
A fun dish to eat, being that every mouthful provided different tastes and textures. Every bite became more interesting than the last. Our favourite part was what seemed to be beetroot croutons/freeze dried beetroot which added crunch to the dish. The goats curd was subtle, and added a creaminess to the beetroot.

Red claw yabbies, garlic scented custard with yabby velvet broth (TM)
This was my first time trying yabbies, and I think I may have had a slight allergic reaction. But, nothing that water and lychee mocktail couldn't fix. I find the taste of yabbies to be an in between of a prawn and lobster. I really enjoyed the garlic custard with the broth that brought out the delicacy of the yabbies.

Roasted goose, forbidden rice, black miso and hatsuka radish (TM)
Another first - Goose. It is a fattier meat, at is has a layer of fat underneath the skin which keeps it nice and juicy. It is quite a tasty cut of poultry, that has similar characteristics to duck. However, I find that goose is a bit more chewy. Forbidden rice is rice which has an assortment of grains with varying textures. It added the saltiness to the dish.

Eight mushrooms, truffle custard with chestnut mushroom consomme (VM)
So many different mushrooms, where we were only able to name half of them! My photo doesn't give it justice. There was a variety of detail on the difference types of mushrooms. All cooked to perfection, which accompanied the custard and lovely consomme.

Smoked and confit pig cheek, shitake mushrooms, shaved scallops, Jerusalem artichoke leaves topped with pork crackling (TM)
Mmm pork. A little package that contained all great tasting elements. I was expecting to dig straight into the pork, yet came across the delicate scallops and mushrooms first. The pork cheek was nestled under all the layers, and was absolutely tasty! It wasn't too salty, or dry, and the fat to meat ratio was what you expect in a great pork cheek.

Pasture raised veal, bitter chocolate black pudding, green walnuts, slow cooked wallaby tail, salsify, smoked bone marrow and chestnut mushrooms (TM)
This was my least favourite of all my dishes of the evening. It was quite salty, and had components that didn't quite suit my personal preference. The bitter chocolate pudding was the strangest part, where it was bitter, salty yet you there was a subtle touch of chocolate. Wallaby tail is definitely something you don't come across often, and has a nutty taste.

Organic Korean green rice, seaweed, buckwheat, mountain spinach and sesame (VM)
The saltiness of the seaweed was an overpowering component of dish. This means that it was hard to taste the other components.
Andalucia: Vanilla icecream topped with crushed meringue, citrus zest, almonds and tuille (TM & VM)
Pre-dessert!!!! This definitely helped start the desserts of the night after the last few salty dishes. The Andalucia had a great balance between sweet and citrus. The citrus zests helped cut the sweetness of the almond meringue and ice cream. The almonds in the meringue added a lovely nuttiness, which accompanied the tuille. So many elements that all worked well together.

Guava Snow Egg (TM & VM)

Cross-section of  Snow Egg
The infamous Guava Snow Egg. The last challenge for season 2 of MasterChef Australia. Peter Gilmore has made this dessert the talk of Sydney, by being one of the most wanted to try desserts. All the components are ABSOLUTELY delicious. The custard apple ice cream centre encased in poached meringue topped with a tuille. All the varying layers of textures and tastes worked perfectly together. Below the snow egg, there is a guava based custard which added another element of sweetness against the fruity granita. Blogging about this is making me crave the snow egg. I wish Quay provided a dessert hour of the night where you can just dine in for the desserts.

Eight texture chocolate cake - extra order

The chocolate pop

Oozing chocolate!
Another infamous dessert that appeared in the MaststerChef Australia 2012 in a pressure test. All different textures and layers of chocolate, it is every chocolate lovers dream. It was rich with flavour, and due quality of the chocolate it wasn't too sweet. The oozing hot chocolate sauce definitely completes the dish. Salivating just looking at the photo of all the chocolatey elements.

Take home birthday chocolates
As we went to Quay to celebrate my 21st birthday, I was given take home chocolate truffles. 

A downside to Quay was that they were informed of the allergy 3 times prior to the dining experience, which allowed time to approach the issue, yet when arriving the kitchen was informed on the night. Lucky they were able to compromise by timing the dishes of  1 per 2 tasting menu course. Despite the little hiccup, Quay provide great service and great  food. The staff members are very hospitable. The view from Quay is breath taking, and is probably one of Sydney's best dining views. Peter Gilmore's Quay definitely lives up to the reputation it holds and provides an array of interesting and delicious dishes.

Good food, good times!