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Archive for December, 2010

2010 – Where did it go?

Can’t believe that today is the last day of 2010 – where did it go? It seems like yesterday that I was still wishing everyone Happy New Year!

This year has been a blast – I would have to say that it was probably the best year of my life! I spent a fabulous year in Hong Kong – and I still miss it dearly and looking forward to going back soon! I have met some wonderful friends (again in Hong Kong), you know who you are, who will be long life friends forever and have travelled quite a fair bit! Ah… Hong Kong – how I have missed you!

However, it is also good to be back in Sydney seeing family and friends. Back in our own apartment and eating my way around Sydney.

So many wonderful things have happened in 2010 and to pick the highlights are extremely hard. However, below are by far the most memorable for me. So to sum it up, my highlights of 2010 (not so much food related as that will come shortly also!):

  • Living in Hong Kong – do I need to say anymore? Awesome awesome AWESOME! Will never forget you my friends and Hong Kong! We will be back!

  • My first Indian wedding – thanks to both R & C for inviting me and my first trip to India ever!

‘The Mother’ and I then went back to Mumbai which we both loved.

  • Sri Lanka – beautiful country, we stayed in Galle which was just absolutely magnificent! Would definitely go back again.

  • Juizhaigou National Park – one of the most beautiful places I have seen and been in China.

  • Last but not least, most importantly – my baby bro getting married!

I am looking forward to 2011. It will definitely be better than 2010. There will be a few changes in life which I will be pursuing, new eating places and of course more travelling!

The weather has been so perfect in Sydney, not a clould in the sky, and here is where I spent my last day of 2010.

Hope you all have a wonderful New Year and all the best in 2011!

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Bruschetteria 102, Surry Hills

I have heard wonderful things about this place. It is where Café Ish used to be before they moved to their new location. No guessing what Bruschetteria 102 specialize in, bruschetta of course, and Nutella coffee – that’s right, you heard right – NUTELLA COFFEE!

I came here one weekend with two of our dearest friends, S and her hubby, T. They recently got back from their honeymoon and we hadn’t seen them for a while. I love the layout of this café, everything in this café is for sale, the tables, the chairs, the fans and the lights. If you see a price tag on the item, then you can purchase them.

I love the place mats – so bright and colourful!

I couldn’t go pass the Nutella coffee ($4.50). Nutella and coffee – two of my favourite things combined together, INGENIOUS! As much as it was absolutely delicious, it was a little sweet for my liking, as I like my coffee without sugar or any sweetness.

A small cup was not enough and had to order another, I was on a high. I love the patterns on each individual coffee. The coffee had a hazelnut flavour which was just lovely. I could have easily drunk four cups on my own.

As the name suggests, Bruschetteria 102 offers a wide range of bruschettas, ranging from savoury to sweet. I couldn’t go pass the capricciosa – smoked salmon, boiled eggs, red onions and tomatoes ($14). Two generous servings of smoked salmon, boiled eggs on toasted bread on top of a wooden plank were placed before me. It looked absolutely divine and tasted more than divine. The crusty bread was crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside. I love smoked salmon and I love egg – the perfect breakfast combination!

T opted for the Uova e Verdure – grilled vegetables with scrambled eggs ($10.50). I almost ordered this, grilled sun dried tomatoes, zucchinis, capsicum on a bed of scrambled eggs. It looked good, and T devoured this, so I can only assume that he enjoyed it.

‘The Mother’ had the homemade pasta served with 2 slices of toast with garlic and pesto ($20). I love homemade pasta – only because I am too lazy to make it myself at home. The homemade pasta was tender and cooked with perfection. Served with tomatoes and buffalo cheese, this was just incredible. It ‘looks’ small but it was definitely filling. ‘The Mother’ absolutely loved this, he kept giving me stares (unpleasant stares) as I kept asking for more.

S had the crepe like lasagna, thin slices of crepes with vegetables ($20). It had a strong walnut and cheese flavour. I had a couple of mouthfuls of this and did not eat any walnut, S, on the other hand, each mouthful she had consisted of walnuts. Unfortunately she is not a massive fan of walnuts, so didn’t enjoy it as much. It was good, a little too heavy and cheesy for breakfast but it was certainly hearty and perfect for a wintery day.

I was tempted to order some desserts but my stomach was definitely saying no! It’s such cute little venue, service is friendly and fantastic and food is stupendous.

Check out the huge 5kgs tub of Nutella – I could easily eat this by the spoonful whilst watching tv! Dangerous!!

Apparently they change their menu according to season so will definitely be back again.

Had a wonderful time catching up with both S and T – thanks for listening to all my cumbersome problems!

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10

Bruschetteria 102

102 Albion Street

Surry Hills, 2010

Ph: +61 2 9281 3653

Bruschetteria 102 on Urbanspoon

Brekkie at Eca Bar, Darlinghurst

Trying to find cafés at 7 am in the morning can be a little difficult! There aren’t many that opens at that hour and rightly so! In a perfect world, people should still be sleeping at 7 am, have breakfast at 9am with friends, and start work at either 11 am or midday! But that doesn’t mean you leave work at 8pm, no no, that wouldn’t be a ‘perfect’ world now would it?

I was catching up with B for our weekly catch up. We have driven and walked past this place many times, it’s on the corner of Darlinghurst Road, and Liverpool Road. It’s a couple of shops down from one of my favourite restaurants, Fish Face. This café is always busy especially on weekends, so we were keen to try.

The coffee here is good – there is really not a shortage of ‘good’ coffee places in Sydney, however, my favourite is still Single Origin.

Both B and I ordered the same thing, we couldn’t go pass the bircher muesli with vanilla poached pears, yogurt, fresh fruit and toasted almonds ($10.50). It was served in a small-ish bowl, it didn’t look as though there were a lot of bircher, however we were both pleasantly surprised.

I love the colours from the blueberries, raspberries, and almonds – it was just so colourful! The bircher was a little thick, a little like porridge but better! I loved the poached pear, the vanilla bean yogurt, and the combination of blueberries and raspberries – perfect summer fruits. B wasn’t a huge fan of poached pears, so more for me! The bowl was quite deceptive, it was actually quite a filling a breakfast!

The scrambled eggs looked amazing, and so did the poached eggs with hummus, and avocado – will definitely have to come back and visit. The food is good, just a little on the pricey side. Service is very down to earth and efficient, and staff friendly!

It was a quick but awesome catch up with B! Looking forward to catching up a lot more soon. xx

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

128 Darlinghurst Road

Darlinghurst, 2010

Ph: +61 2 9332 1433

Eca Bar on Urbanspoon

Oscillate Wildly, Newtown

My first visit to Oscillate Wildly (‘OW’) was probably two or three years ago now. I came here with four other girl friends and unfortunately every single one of us did not enjoy it. I can’t remember what we had, but I do remember that it wasn’t a very good experience. Back then, I think the head chef was Daniel Puskas, who has now moved to greener pastures to Sepia. Now the Head chef at OW is now Karl Firla (ex Est, Marque and Bridgewater Mill) who joined in January2009.

I came here with a dear friend, S, one evening and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. It was definitely a better experience than the first, and the food I thought was simpler but tastier. Eight courses for $100 and if you wanted matching wine, that’s an extra $50. Neither of us had the matching wines, but S might as well had, he had about 5 glasses of red wine, 3 more and it would have been matching.

We started with bread roll which was served warm – the bread had a crusty exterior but warm and fluffy inside. How I love warm fresh bread, straight from the oven!

We started with the Kingfish, cucumber, soy – served on edible leaves. I was a little reluctant to eat the leave at first, however, seeing S stuffed the whole thing in his mouth and didn’t die, I thought I would also give it ago. The kingfish were cut into bite size, served with soy, cucumber and sesame seeds, they were light and absolutely refreshing. The leaf (which I can’t remember the name of) really gave it a nice texture. It was a great way to what was to come.

Next the Alaskan King Crab, horseradish, seaweed. This was an amazing dish – the fresh king crab with the savoury horseradish custard – it was subtle and unusual but worked. The mango jelly gave it that extra sweetness, and the seaweed was a great complement. S and I both really enjoyed this dish, the different types of flavours, it was just magnificent.

Carrot, cepe, walnut – this was a rather surprising good dish. Carrot sponge like cake which was light, and fluffy served with heirloom carrots, celery and walnuts. It was absolutely divine. S thought that it was a little dry, it needed more sauce, but I really enjoyed it just as it was. I loved the different types of heirloom carrots, the texture of the sponge like cake and the different flavours. It was different but it excelled in so many different ways.

Now the ‘mains’ – Murray cod, roast potato consommé, Jerusalem artichoke was probably one of the best dishes of the night. The Murray cod was absolutely lovely, tender and moist. The potato consommé was delightful. It was really quite exquisite.

Next the pork, young almond, coffee – oh my my, pork – pork – I really looked forward to this dish. The pork was a little pink on the inside, the coffee broth was subtle and the young almond really gave it that extra nutty flavour. I thought it was ok at first but as I ate more and more of it, the combination of the flavours really grew on me and by the end, I wanted more. It was just divine.

The last of the main dish – beef, samphire, prawn floss was another wonderful dish. Medium rare, tender and succulent beef served with apple and prawn floss exceeded my expectation. I was getting full but couldn’t help but eat every single thing on the plate. I couldn’t stop, it was just too good to stop.

Elderflower, lychee, rose – wow! The rose ice cream and the lychee served with tapioca jelly. It had fresh ginger, which was subtle and mad the dessert a little ‘spicy’. It sounds weird I know but far from it. There are really no words to describe it except wow! It was just outstanding.

Last but not least, Peach, beurre noisette, raspberry crisp – the grilled peach, the dollop of raspberry and the burnt butter crisp was the perfect way to end the meal. It was good but I would have preferred to end the meal with the rose ice cream and lychee – that’s definitely the best out of the two.

But wait, there was more – petite fours – coconut marshmallow and chocolate walnut. I was really getting full by this stage. The coconut marshmallow was nice, I am not a massive fan of the coconut, but marshmallow – I love. The chocolate walnut was wonderful, dark chocolate exterior with walnut in the inside – yum!

I was seriously impressed. Considering how much I didn’t like my first visit, I was definitely surprised. This was definitely better, and S did enjoy it as well. Funnily though, Daniel Puskas went to Sepia and I didn’t enjoy Sepia as much as I thought I would.

OW is quite a small restaurant, twelve tables max, the tables filled up as the night went on. The staff was friendly and tentative. The service I thought was fantastic and we didn’t have to wait that long between each courses. The menu changes on a regular basis and I’d be more than happy to revisit again in the New Year.

We had a great evening talking, laughing, catching up – thanks for listening S, it’s always wonderful to catch up with you. S treated me to this wonderful meal, and my turn next time round! Still on the waiting list my friend, I haven’t forgotten!

GA’s ratings: 8.5 / 10

Oscillate Wildly

275 Australia Street

Newtown 2042

Ph: +61 2 9517 4700

Oscillate Wildly on Urbanspoon

Gumshara, Kimama Kitchen and Boxing Day sale

Can you believe that I have never gone to the Boxing Day sale ever? This year was the first time, and I can understand why I have never participated – but more on that later.

My parents, brother, f and sis-in-law were talking about going to the Boxing Day sale, and I thought I would join them. We thought we would feed our stomachs before shopping, which was a brilliant idea! I can’t for the life of me shop when hungry, the mind can’t think about anything else but food – quite tragic really but that’s the truth. We met at Chinatown, I was telling my brother about this ramen place Gumshara Ramen and he was keen to try. Can you believe that I too haven’t tried it? ‘The Mother’ is not a big ramen fan, so have never really suggested it to him.

Located in Eating World Harbour Plaza and known for one of the best Tonkotsu Ramen in Sydney, my brother F had to try it. He is a MASSIVE ramen fan and one of his favourites is Ryo’s in Crowsnest.

The menu is not that extensive, eight or nine different types of ramen, ranging from light soup, thick soup, garlic and many more. If ramen is not your thing, then they do have a couple or rice dishes, however ramen is their specialty. Apparently each pot of broth is made from 120kgs of fresh pork bones and water! WOW that’s a LOT of pork!

F opted for the special 20 bowls of Tonkostu Ramen with Pork Ribs, with soft boiled egg – I probably would have ordered the same thing, however, I didn’t feel like ramen that day. Apparently you can request your soup to be thicker or less, however, F didn’t realize this so his soup was EXTRA thick! It was a rich and gelatinous soup – thick and full of flavours. F didn’t really enjoy it, as it was too thick, I thought it was a tad salty, however my sis-in-law, O absolutely loved it. I couldn’t help but ask if I could have some. The noodles were tender and the pork ribs, my my – it was incredibly succulent, crispy on the outside and tender and moist on the inside. It was a generous serving of pork ribs and as salty as the soup was, I couldn’t help but ask for more and slurp my noodles – like a lady of course!

F still prefers Ryo’s, my sis-in-law prefers the soup here, but thought overall Ryo’s was still better. I couldn’t really judge as I am not expert in ramen but I did like the pork though – the pork was absolutely delicious!

Mum and I didn’t feel like ramen, so went next door to Kimama Kitchen to order a couple of things. I wanted the eel, and Mum wanted the Karage don, with a choice of home-made sauce, wasabi mayonnaise.

I love unagi, and almost always, order it if and when it is on the menu. It was a generous serving of eel, on mountain of rice. The eel was divine, it was moist, succulent and deliciously rich! I couldn’t help but eat the whole thing myself!

Mum opted for the chicken karage and they were fantastic! Generous amount of deep fried chicken, they were crispy on the outside and deliciously moist on the inside and topped with wasabi mayonnaise. I couldn’t help but steal a couple of pieces – it did satisfy my chicken karage cravings!

Full and stuffed, we were ready for shopping and waddled down to Pitt Street. Little did I know that all of Sydney was also going to be there. Check out the crowds on the corner of Market and George Street. One would think they were giving things out for free! I felt as though I was in Mongkok, Hong Kong – I have never ever seen THAT many people in Sydney. It was seriously crazy and crazier that I was there!

Sadly, I only bought one thing – a dress and we spent a good three to four hours at both Myers and David Jones. Not sure what we were thinking, I am not sure if I will be participating in another Boxing Day sale. It was just insane!!!

I did manage to go for another run that evening, need to burn off all that eating from Christmas. It turned out to be a glorious afternoon, considering it was raining and grey in the morning. Sydney at its best….

Gumshara: GA’s rating: 7.5 / 10

Eating World Harbour Plaza

Shop 209, 25-29 Dixon St

Haymarket, 2000

Gumshara Ramen on Urbanspoon

Kimama Kitchen: GA’s rating: 7.5 / 10

Eating World Habour Plaza

Shop207, 25-29 Dixon St

Haymarket, 2000

Kimama Kitchen on Urbanspoon

The Bunker, Darlinghurst

This was truly a great find, thanks to B. Cute hole in a wall café that serves fantastic coffee and great food. It’s quite a cozy café, two large communal tables inside and a couple of outdoor tables outside.

I went to Bunker with B one Monday morning, our ritual. The coffee is just superb – they use campos coffee and although they got my order wrong (asked for a large but got a small) it was still a fantastic coffee. It was smooth, strong with wonderful aroma.

Everything on the menu sounds superb – silly me forgot to take a photo of the menu as I was so fixated with my coffee and the this little pot plant – a coffee plant! I was telling B how adorable it was and whether or not it would fit in my gym bag! Yes – silly I know.

I couldn’t go pass their homemade crumpets with ricotta and fruits. I didn’t want maple syrup as it would be too sweet. They had another savoury crumpet with bacon and mushroom but it didn’t really appeal to me that day. The home made crumpets were adorable! It was perfectly round and perfectly fluffy. It didn’t come with ‘fruits’ but served with ricotta and blueberry jam. However, these little homemade crumpets were an absolute delight! Three were definitely not enough.

B opted the bircher muesli with yogurt and fruits – the ‘fruits’ being watermelon. It was nice but not the best bircher I have had. It lacked something which I couldn’t pin point. B seemed to have enjoyed it, but then again, I did prefer my homemade crumpets!

I came back here a fortnight later with M, our catch up before Christmas. She also loved the coffee here, and she opted for the mushroom and tomato open melt. Served on toasted sour dough bread, this open melt looked really good! I’m not sure why I declined, considering M did offer me some. She did say that it was ‘pretty good’.

I on the other hand, probably should have gotten the homemade crumpets again, but wanted to try something different. Ordered the burnt fig granola with yogurt and seasonal fruit, that is strawberries. I loved the burnt fig granola, large chucks of burnt fig, it was crunchy and chewy just the way I like it. My only gripe would be that there weren’t enough yogurt, but I probably could have asked for more.

It was great catching up with B, and of course with M. Nothing beats a girlie catch up over coffee and food – especially with both B and M – as they both love food as much as I do!

Both times, the place was buzzing. People queuing for their coffees, and diners waiting for food. The service was a little slow, but we were in no rush, so it suited us fine. I love the wooden tables, not sure if I am a fan of the steel stools though. I do love the cartoon paintings that’s hung on the wall – was tempted to take them home too! If only my gym bag was big enough.

Catch up with both of you after the Christmas break.

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

The Bunker

399 Liverpool Street

Darlinghurst 2010

Ph: +61 404 407 349

The Bunker on Urbanspoon

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

I love Christmas – the one year that everyone makes an effort to be with the family! Presents, good food, good wine and of course good company. This time last year, ‘The Mother’ and I celebrated Christmas on our own – we were living in Hong Kong but spent our Christmas holidays in Paris. I had hoped for a white Christmas, and even though it wasn’t snowing, parts of Paris was still white! It snowed a couple of days prior and was still very cold. We had a mini picnic in our hotel room, but did manage to roam around Paris, getting lost and ate some wonderful food.

This year, we are back in Sydney, and even though I am a little sad to be away from Hong Kong, it is good to spend it with family! We had lunch at the in laws – both families, including my brother and sis-in-law all went there for lunch. My mother in law (‘MiL’) and father in law (‘FiL’) made some wonderful dishes, from lobster noodles, smoked ham, salads to desserts. To say we were ‘stuffed’ was an understatement.

We started with lobster noodles and my goodness – they were outstanding. The lobster was fresh, tender and succulent, and cooked with garlic, onions and spring onions they were just incredible. The egg noodles were a great complement – I can’t remember how many servings F and I had – they were just that good.

Next, the glazed ham – my favourite. The ham was smokey, salty, sweet and tender. I love ham – it was served warm, the smokey flavours infused in the meat, it was just fantastic. I certainly can’t make ham as good as this!

Smoked salmon salad with cabbage, lettuce, carrots and cucumber served with creamy dressing was scrumptiously good! I will have to get the recipe off my MiL. There were generous servings of smoked salmon and enough to feed a whole army!

I made a couple of desserts, vanilla panna cotta served with berry compote.

Ingredients:

4 cups (1l) heavy cream (or half-and-half)

½ cup (100g) sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

2 packets powdered gelatin (about 4.5 teaspoons)

6 tablespoons (90ml) cold water.

Method:

  1. Heat heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan and once sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract
  2. Lightly oil eight custard cups with a neutral tasting oil
  3. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium sized bowl and let stand
  4. Pour the very warm Panna Cotta mixture over gelatin and stir until gelatin is dissolved
  5. Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into the prepared cups, then chill them until firm, usually 2 – 4 hours, I left them over night.
  6. Run a sharp knife around the edge of each Panna Cotta and unmold each onto a serving plate, and garnished as desired

Whilst Panna Cotta is cooling,

Make berry compote…

Ingredients:

½ cup of raspberries

½ cup of blueberries

½ cup of strawberries

1 tbsp icing sugar (powdered sugar)

Method:

  1. Place saucepan over medium heat and add about a tablespoon of water, then berries and sugar
  2. Once some juice develops in the bottom of the pot turn the heat to high and gently stir
  3. Once it reaches boiling, remove the pot from the stove and allow to steep for 1 hr then transfer to fridge

Once Panna Cotta are set and ready to serve, add berry compote to Panna Cotta and voila.

I thought the Panna Cotta was a little firm, I like it a little wobbly like. I think too much gelatin, will reduce next time, however if you like your Panna Cotta firm, then follow the above instructions.

I also made these little babies – Mix Berry Tart.

I cheated and bought the little pastry tarts – I could have made them myself but didn’t have enough time, so just made the filling.

Ingredients:

300ml thickened cream

1 cup thick custard

1 punnet strawberries hulled, chopped

1 punnet blueberries

Method:

  1. Beat cream until soft peaks form, then stir in custard
  2. Spoon filling into tart shells
  3. Top with berries and dust with icing sugar to serve

Easy and voila – they were easy, and absolutely delicious. The combination of cream and custard – who doesn’t like cream and cutard?

Hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones, and hope Santa was kind to you all!

Merry Christmas to all of you!

And how gorgeous was the weather today? PERFECT!

xx