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Cafe Ekberg, Helsinki, Finland

Café Ekberg has been around since 1852. They serve buffet breakfasts and daily lunch specials, however, we were here for a quick stop during our shopping expedition as Dragon was asleep and I needed to sit down (she was sleeping on the hip seat and I have been walking with her ‘attached’ to me like a koala for at least 4 hours!)

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Café Ekberg is a very popular café and not only does it serve breakfast and lunch, it also serves great pastries and cakes. It is famous for the napoleon which we ordered and I have to say, I can understand why. Pastry flaky and the cream filling were not super rich. Perfect with a cup of tea!

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I also couldn’t go past the ginger bread – it wasn’t too sweet and didn’t have a strong ginger taste which Dragon also loved!

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Service was friendly and polite. The place was busy no matter what time it was but the pastries are definitely worth going for.

Next door to the café is a patisserie in which you can buy more cakes and bread to take home. We bought a couple of bread for Dragon to eat and no doubt she demolished them!

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On the first few nights we were in Helsinki, Dragon and I were still very jet lag. ‘The Mother’ has been in Europe a week earlier so he was ok and has adjusted. Unfortunately for him, Dragon and I ended up sleeping rather early, mid-afternoon early, 4.30pm on the first day and then 5.30pm on the second day. He was so looking forward to going out for dinner with us, however, we were so tired that an earth quake couldn’t wake us up!

On one of the nights, he went to get Hesburger – Finland’s version of McDonalds – he bought me a chicken burger and chicken nuggets for Dragon. I have to say, it was pretty decent and I preferred this over Mc Donalds.

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Jet lag is never fun, she got up at 2am the first day we were there. It took her about 4 – 5 days to go back to normal. Rule of thumb I hear, one day for each hour, which is about right.

So unfortunately we didn’t go out for dinner very often in Helsinki as we ate a lot of Pizza, and left over pasta! HA!

GA’s rating Café Ekberg: 7.5 / 10

Address: Bulevardi 9, 00120 Helsinki

Tel: +358 9 6811 860

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One Month Celebration

I can’t believe that a month has gone since I gave birth to Dragon (Ms E). Which meant that both our confinements are over (earlier for me, as I couldn’t stand being at home for 30 days, 21 days was more than enough for me!)

It is customary in our culture to celebrate a baby’s first month. Plenty of food involved of course and also with cakes and sweets. There were so much food that I really didn’t know where to start so without further adieu below are the pictures of food that was involved – if you are hungry I would stop reading now.

The nasi kuning (turmeric rice) shaped in a cone is called ‘tumpeng’ which is usually served with a side of vegetable and meat is a very traditional dish in Indonesia for celebration. One of my favourites actually – one of Mum’s friends kindly made this for us.

There were also noodles which is important for birthdays – long life etc. Gado-gado which was excellent – it’s SO hard to find good gado-gado in Sydney – although I am not sure why there are tomatoes in it! The sauce though was fantastic.

Not to mention these fantastic bakso goreng (fried pork balls), which was brought from Pinangsia. Mum was going to make her own bakso goreng but she ran out of time!

The MiL made glutinous nasi kuning (turmeric rice) with chicken curry as well as suckling pig – YUM!

Dyed red eggs are important part of the full month celebration as it symbolizes happiness and the renewal of life, as well as announce the arrival of a newborn baby.

Also, my favourite, Ang Ku Kueh (‘red turtle cakes’) – the dough of the cake is dyed red for good luck and the kueh also signifies longevity as turtles have long lives. These were ordered from Istana and they were delicious!

Another favourite of mine – onde-onde as they are called in Malaysia, but in Indonesia they are called ‘kelepon’ and they are infused pandan juice and filled with palm sugar and then rolled with some fresh grated coconut. The palm sugar usually burst in your mouth and it is SO hard to stop at just one! Trust me, I think I ate half a dozen or a dozen on my own!

Then these fish-shaped pudding in a puddle of condensed milk which has rockmelon inside made by one of my aunts were incredible!

There were also quiche, salad and potato salad to mix it up a bit.

People also got to take some goodies home, a box full of different types of things from top left, red egg, sepiku (one of my favourite Indonesian cakes – it’s the 30 egg cake, each layer is made with 10 eggs! Mum didn’t make this but hers would include 30 eggs!) and rissoles. Bottom left, croquet, ang ku kueh and lemper (chicken rice).

The highlight (not that the above food weren’t highlights), however, Dragon’s birthday cake which was made especially by Oni from I eat Sweet. RED VELVET CAKE! I was impatiently waiting to eat it but not after we had photos with the birthday girl! Pity she couldn’t eat any of it, as it was EPIC! Thanks Oni for making the cake in such short notice! LOVE!

To my dearest Dragon – Happy One Month! I am sure there will be many more celebrations to come!

To all my friends and family, many thanks for celebrating this special moment with us. We truly do appreciate it and look forward to many more celebrations and gatherings! x

Milk and Honey, Civic, ACT

This cafe is located in the heart of Civic, Garema Place, Canberra. It’s quite a retro and funky cafe which serves Modern Australian cuisine with a Mediterranean influence. I noticed there were a lot of cafes in the area, and a place I must explore more regularly.

Milk and Honey is opened all day offering diners breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is opened quite late for those who just want to have something sweet after dinner. It is a spacious cafe split into two levels with seats outside. I love the open area, the brightness of the cafe and the friendly staff.

I started with the juice of the day – pineapple, cranberry and mango ($5). It was fresh and deliciously refreshing.

For some odd strange reason, I was craving steak, so opted for grass fed cowra scotch fillet steak with potato bake, spring onion and red wine jus ($32). The chef kindly gave me two pieces of steak – apparently one piece was just too small! Cooked just the way I like it, it was deliciously tender and succulent. The red wine jus was a wonderful complement and I would have definitely done with more. Unfortunately I didnt’t finish the steak, so no guessing what I had for lunch the next day.

For dessert, I was tempted to get the sticky date pudding but it was the apple crumble that won me over ($8.80). I thought it could have been presented better; however, taste wise, it did not disappoint. Served warm with vanilla ice cream, the apple was sweet, tender and the crumble just melted in my mouth. Oh how I heart apple crumble and this was amazingly good.

Unfortunately the cake I ordered was not made by the chef. I probably should have asked where they got it, but I was too engrossed in my apple crumble.

I did notice a lot of suits dining here, after work dinner perhaps? But as the night went on, I noticed many diners just having dessert. It is a great place for coffee and sweets. They have a wide range of hot drinks, coffee, chai latte, hot chocolate, hot caramel (?!) and many different types of smoothies, shakes and juices.

I can see this cafe as a hang out place for the younger generation, the place was buzzing by the time I left, which wasn’t that late. It’s hip, modern and very colourful. I am definitely keen to try the breakfast here, the brioche and blueberry French toast doesn’t sound too shabby at all.

GA’s rating: 7 / 10

Milk and Honey

29 Garema Place

Canberra 2601

Ph: +61 2 6247 7722

Milk & Honey on Urbanspoon

A’s famous Ham and Baby Shower

Every year, our dear friend A makes her famous ham. A is a wonderful chef, and for those who knows her, would agree with me! I have often suggested that she goes on Masterchef as I believe she would do well, however, she claims that the pressure and stress is not something she would enjoy and living with people she has never met before would drive her mad. I would probably have to agree that the pressure and the stress would probably fail me! (Not that I would ever make it to the first rounds of Masterchef anyway!)

So when, S, T, L, and I received an email from A about her Ham night we all jumped for joy, as it is something that we have looked forward to every single year! Last year I missed out as I wasn’t in Sydney, so this year I was determined to go!

A’s ham is just absolutely superb, the smokey flavour, the texture, and the moistness are just wonderful. I remember one year she made mango chutney, and eaten with ham – WOW! Look at the glaze on the ham?

Below is a photo of when it has been slice into pieces – the slither of fat, the shininess of the glaze, I am craving it all over again. It is just wonderful. Thanks for the doggy bag home too – they were a great midnight snack!

Not to mention her potatoes, baked kipler potatoes cooked in duck fat – yes you heard me, duck fat! Crunchy outer skin and soft and tender insider, I couldn’t help but eat at least half a dozen of these! They were that good!

My contribution to the wonderful meal that evening was a rocket, pear and feta cheese salad. I completely forgot that A can’t eat feta cheese, she is pregnant and at the time baby B had not been born. The salad was light and refreshing – I have always loved the combination of pear and rocket, and thankfully the pear was soft – nothing worse than hard pear in salad!

Recipe for rocket, pear and feta cheese salad:

Ingredients

  • 300g wild rocket or normal rocket
  • 1.5 pear thinly sliced – core removed
  • 80g feta cheese
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper for taste

Method:

  • Wash rocket leaves and draink
  • Place into a mixing bowl
  • Add in pear slices, salt, pepper, lemon juice and oil
  • Add feta cheese and mix well

L made these wonderful apple custard tea cake – cupcake like and they were incredibly moist and incredibly tasty. Eaten slightly warm and with Vanilla bean ice cream they were just to die for!

About a month and a half ago now, A had her baby shower. She invited a few of her closest girlfriends around for high tea. I can’t believe that at seven months pregnant she made all these wonderful dishes all by herself.

Caramel slice, lemon and blueberry tart and magnolia cupcakes (I can’t for the life of remember what flavours they were!).

The savouries – mini meat pies, just as good as those from Bourke Street Bakery and these chicken, corn, salad and mayo mini sandwiches. Both an absolutely delight!

Her famous lemon scones were just to die for, especially when hot and eaten with cream and jam – who doesn’t love a good scone?

A, congrats on the birth of your son B! I sure look forward to meeting him shortly and seeing him grow up.

Thanks for the wonderful ham night and the high tea – you are truly a wonderful cook! P is certainly a lucky man!

Sydney Food Blogger Christmas Picnic

It was the 2nd Annual Sydney Food Bloggers Christmas Picnic (now that’s a mouthful!) last Saturday. It was my first food bloggers event and I was a little hesitant but was also eager to meet and greet fellow bloggers and to put a face behind all the food blogs that I read.

Unfortunately I was running late, I had breakfast with ‘The Mother’ which was a rookie error! I went for a long run in the morning prior to the picnic and was absolutely ravenous and couldn’t wait till lunch time. I probably ‘should’ have eaten something light, I didn’t expect that there would be SO MUCH scrumptious food at the picnic. Then my Mum came over, with her martabak pan, to teach me how to make martabak manis, which is Indonesian thick pancakes!

The event took place at Centennial Park, and it was a perfect day for it. Being directionally challenged, I was a tad lost, but all I had to do was look for a group of people with lots of cameras, and of course, lots of delicious looking food, and rightly so, I found them! It was a sunny day with a light breeze, and lots of food bloggers! 50 plus people, most with intimidating cameras that made my ‘point and shoot’ quite pathetic!

Check out all the incredible food.

As I was quite late, I didn’t get to taste possibly one of the tastiest and most snapped up dish that day – Billy’s (A Table for Two) ribs! GOD DAMN IT! I didn’t even see what they looked like, as I only saw an empty baking dish! *sigh*. The problem with arriving late!

One blogger, whom I met but forgot the name – SORRY! Made this amazing tower of macaroons! Watch out Adriano Zumbo! I can’t believe the amount of time and effort put into this, she said it took her a good couple of days! Well done! I am not a massive fan of macaroons but couldn’t help but try one of these, and it was good, seriously good! Not as sweet as those from Adriano Zumbo and didn’t have weird flavours – yes, I like plain simple macaroons!

I was full but did manage to try a couple of things, mainly sweets though! I love these melting moments – lemony tangy flavour which just melted in your mouth! It would have gone down so nicely with coffee!

I love the Christmas theme desserts, check out these cute Santa made from Strawberries – it was cleverly done and absolutely awesome! Big juicy strawberries with cream – who doesn’t like strawberries?

And these Santa and little elf cupcakes – I didn’t have any of these, but probably should have taken one home.

These orange, pistachio and cardamom cupcakes were absolutely delightful! That I believe was the last sweet thing I ate at the picnic.

Mental note for next time, do not eat before hand, so many mouth-watering dishes, and I only had a handful of things.

Unfortunately I didn’t take a lot of photos of the food, I was eager to meet and greet with fellow bloggers. I noticed there were fried white chocolate wontons, yup that’s right, fried white chocolate wontons! Keftedes, greek beef meatballs which were yummy, and chicken rolls cut into halves which was also awesome.

After we stood around eating and mingling, we all relocated to our picnic rugs. It’s not a picnic without some sort of games. Helen organised a food blogger Olympics! There were three games, first being a race to see who can pick up all the soy beans with a chopstick and put them in the other bowl first.

Second, blind fold taste test – it was pretty easy, and they all got it right.

Lastly, ‘plating and food styling’ challenge where you had to use whatever food was leftover and creatively plate it up. Then you had to take a photo of it, and posted it on twitter.

Everyone who attended the picnic had to bring a present, buy something food related and quirky for a total amount of $10. We all got a number, and when your number was called out, you could either pick a present from the centre of the rug or steal someone else’s.

Being last to pick a present is probably best, you can ‘steal’ them from others. The most wanted gift was these ninja bread cutters, they were seriously awesome!

I wanted them, but I got my present really early, started with these ice cube makers but was stolen, and ended up with these bacon drink tabs, bacon gum balls and Mr bacon – ‘bendable and lots of fun wherever fun is needed’. Haven’t tried them yet, but I am sure I will blog about it.

Thanks Helen (Grab your fork) and Suze (ChocolateSuze) for organising, had heaps of fun and it was finally great to have met you both! I look forward to seeing you guys next time!

My contribution was Chocolate and Cheese Martabak manis, also known as thick pancakes – unfortunately you had to eat them hot, if cold, it does get a little stringy. My ultimate must have Indonesian snacks when I go back. My mother learnt how to make them on her last visit to Perth and it has been the best thing ever! Mum even bought the pan for it! Brilliant!

Ingredients:

250 gram all purpose flour
1 tsp. instant yeast
150 gram granulated sugar
375 cc warm coconut milk
2 eggs
¼ tsp. baking soda

Filling Ingredients:
Sesame seeds
Granulated Sugar
Chocolate Sprinkler
Grated Cheddar Cheese
Condensed Milk

Instructions:

  • Pour in the yeast into the warm coconut milk, stir until well mixed and foamed up, set aside.
  • Mix flour and sugar, then pour in the eggs in the middle of the batter. Keep stirring the mixture until all ingredients are well dissolved. Then put in the baking soda and stir the mixture again until well mixed. Set it aside in a room temperature for approximately 15-20 minutes.
  • Heat up the non-stick pan that has been smeared with butter/margarine. Pour the mixture in and let it cook until the surface dried up and the outer layer become crispy brown.
  • Remove the thick crepe and put on a cutting board.
  • Pour granulated sugar on the crepes as well as the condensed milk. Up to your liking, you can pour grated cheese, chocolate sprinkler or sesame seeds on the crepe. You can also combine the filling.
  • Fold the crepe in to two then cut the crepe into 10-12 pieces.

And I had a tiny piece prior to going – no wonder I was STUFFED! It was good though, chocolaty, cheese, and oh so sinful!

I didn’t get to meet everyone, but for those that I did – it was great to have finally met you – finally a face behind all the blogs! Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, and happy eating! It is the silly seasons after all – lots of food, lots of alcohol and lots of catching up with family and friends!

A little gem, Remy and Lee’s, Surry Hills

I was roaming around Surry Hills one day, running a few errands and of course one of the ‘errands’ was to find a nice cool place to eat! I feel like my last few entries have been about Surry Hills, and if you haven’t gathered by now, yes, I do live in Surry Hills. ‘The Mother’ and I bought a place here a while back and fell in love with the suburb. Surry Hills is a very cool, hip suburb with lots of cool and shick cafes, well I think anyway!

I read about this café in one of the magazines I purchased. The name attracted me, Remy and Lee’s. It can be found on the corner of Bourke Street, Surry Hills, a terrace to be exact, and it is one of the cutest and coziest café I have seen or been. A communal table takes up most of the room, and there aren’t any menus, only a listing of pastries, pies and toast du jour written on the wall.

What I didn’t realize about this place was that all the pastries, pies and dessert are from Blackstar, which is situated in Newton.

I started with the coffee, black, with a dash of cold milk on the side. The coffee was seriously smooth and delicious, didn’t need any of the milk at all!! I found out later on that the coffee is from Little Marionette.

I originally wanted the quiche but they had run out! However, it was probably a blessing in disguise, as I would have never ordered the meat pie, served with a side of salad.

The pie was absolutely marvelous! I am not usually a big fan of meat pies, but this, was just fantastic. The pastry was slightly crunchy, and as I cut through the pie, meat oozed out like melted cheese. The meat was tender and flavourful. The pastry, light and buttery, and melted-in-your-mouth. The pie was seriously amazing. It could be one of the best pie I have had! It was deliciously rich and deliciously scrumptious!

The salad was light, lettuce, tomato and cheese served in the small ball, it was a refreshing and a great compliment. Apparently they serve homemade bircher muesli, but I didn’t get around to trying it

I fell in love with this charming place; Remy and Lee are super friendly! They are bike enthusiasts, they sell bike parts and gear at the cafe. I have a feeling that this will be quite the hangout place once the Bourke Street cycle lane is completed.

We all know that coffee is not just about the beans, but also the way the coffee is made and I have to say, Remy makes a decent cup! This cafe is not just about getting access to Blackstar pastries, it’s a unique and hip café with excellent coffee, and personable service with a smile!

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10

Remy and Lee’s

547 Bourke Street

Surry Hills, 2010

Ph: +61 404 384 014

Remy & Lees on Urbanspoon

Birthday dinner at Wooloomooloo

It was one of Hubby’s colleague birthdays and her beloved Husband organized a birthday get together at Wooloomooloo. We started off at the roof top for some drinks. I thought it was a little odd that they didn’t have a liquor license, well not yet anyway, hence could not sell / serve any alcohol! However, we were ‘allowed’ to bring alcohol up from the restaurant, which again I thought was a little weird. The roof top at Wooloomooloo has a fantastic view! Is it as good as Sevva? It’s clearly a competition that’s for sure! The fact that they still don’t have the liquor license clearly makes Sevva a better option! Going down to the restaurant to buy drinks can be a real pain! Still, it’s worth a visit if you haven’t been.

So… dinner…. after a few drinks we finally adjourned downstairs for some food. It was rather cold that evening, so everyone was eager to sit and order. We were seated in the corner room which was extremely nice, it was semi private, and had a view of the harbour.  There were about 24 of us, so it was nice that we got this semi private room!

We started off with fresh bread and butter. Bread was indeed fresh and warm – it was slightly crunchy on the outside but warm in the inside.

Hubby and I thought we’d share an entrée, my pick of course! Ordered the fresh sushi grade tuna tartare (freshly chopped tuna with shallots, capers, herbs and wasabi mayonnaise). It was so nicely presented that I didn’t want to eat it.

The tuna tartare was fresh and delicious, however, a little salty for both of us. The combination of the shallots, capers, fish roe was just delightful. I think we would have enjoyed it more if it wasn’t so salty!

I was tempted to order pork belly, but considering it’s a ‘steak’ house, thought I should order steak… everyone on the table was ordering steak! Got the smallest steak available, which was 8 ounce, filet diane – beef tenderloin served on a crouton and topped with creamy five peppercorn cognac sauce. It had me at ‘cognac’! I am not usually a bit meat eater – can’t usually eat a whole slab of meat, hence the smaller size. It was cooked the way I wanted it – which was medium rare, it was tender and succulent. Unfortunately, the peppercorn sauce was just ok, I didn’t really taste the cognac! It tasted better with the seeded mustard I thought. However, it was still quite enjoyable.

Hubby, like any other boy, absolutely LOVES meat! He ordered the rib eye – 12 once with mushroom sauce, medium rare and it was also tender and juicy. The mushroom sauce was a great compliment.

We ordered some side dishes for the table, French fries, sautéed spinach with mushrooms, grilled asparagus with hollandaise sauce (which was delicious!) and cream of cabbage and bacon (the only one I took a photo of!). All the side dishes were great. I loved the grilled asparagus, and the cream of cabbage and bacon.

For dessert, we bought the birthday girl cakes from awfully chocolate. We got her two cakes – chocolate cake and chocolate rum and cherry cake. I loved the chocolate cake – it was so light and fluffy. It was perfect with my tea.

The birthday girl was a little surprised with the cake, but we all had a great time, drinking and eating. Pity it was a little chilly that night, it would have been nice to have another drink on the roof top!

Happy birthday dear friend.. hope all your dreams and wishes come true! Here’s to another great year ahead!

GA’s rating on Wooloomooloo: 7 / 10

31F and roof top The Hennessy

256 Hennessy Road

Wanchai, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 2893 6960

GA’s rating on Awfully Chocolate: 7 / 10