Saturday, November 29, 2008

currently in recovery

There will now be a lull after the recent burst of posting because I am recovering from a knee operation. Check back in a few weeks when I will actually have things to post about (i.e. I am let out of the house).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

penrith valley oranges, penrith

I've become addicted to pick-your-own orchards since our trip to Young last year for cherries. Unfortunately this is only the third time I've actually been able to act on my addiction, but I plan on dragging chapflap to Port Macquarie for Ricardoes strawberries sometime in the future (unless we make it to Sunny Ridge in Victoria first). We've also been macadamia picking at Yarramalong, but that only resulted in a small bounty (on the scale of difficulty of fruit picking based on my very limited experience, I'd place cherries at the bottom, oranges next then macadamias on the top!)

Pick-your-own oranges are charged at $2 per kilo. There are also pre-picked oranges for sale in the shed. Before you rush off to get them though, unfortunately Penrith Valley Oranges is closed for the season - until July 2009! We actually got there on the last day of operation for the season.

Oranges in their natural environment

They're a bit camera-shy!

Our 7.5kg haul. As usual, I got a bit over-enthusiastic. Unlike the time we went cherry picking though, I didn't have the equivalent amount of fruit in my stomach...

There's a very friendly Dalmatian that lives at the orchard, along with some horses (one of which chapflap managed to incite to something bordering on equine violence...)

Penrith Valley Oranges
800 Castlereagh Road
Castlereagh NSW 2749

(02) 4776 2332

Now closed for the season, but during the season it is open from Fridays to Sundays 9am to 5pm

More information available here

temasek, parramatta

Jostling with pho for top spot on my favourite foods list is hainan chicken rice. I think we've found the perfect specimen at Temasek, Parramatta (although I'm willing to take further recommendations... the next one on the hit list might be at Ultimo, based on grabyourfork's review of Chinese Herbal King Seafood Restaurant).

This restaurant in tucked in a little alley on George Street, Parramatta. The street itself was eerily quiet for a Saturday night but the restaurant was pretty full with families and couples. The place is set up a bit strangely - two dining rooms with tables in the alley in between as well, but it seemed to work ok.

Apart from the deliciousness of the food, I was impressed with the speediness of the place - within about 10 minutes of our order, everything was already on the table. Quick enough for us to get back in time to watch the Rugby League World Cup final (which we lost to the Kiwis, argh!)

Mmm, fried hainanese chicken rice - $12. Not the conventional steamed hainanese chicken served with ginger and shallots, but more like chicken karaage - served with kecap manis (sweet soy and chilli. For me it's all about the rice, and this was great. Just the right about of garlic and chicken stock, and washed down well with the accompanying soup.

Serai (lemongrass) pork - $17.80. Very moreish - not too oily.

Tom yum soup - $7.80. There was pineapple in it - is that authentic? A great mix of sourness and spiciness, with lots of prawns, mushrooms and bamboo shoots.

Belacan kangkung - $16.80. A delicious tangle of vegetables with chilli and shrimp paste.

Unfortunately they didn't have bobo chacha that night, which I've been intrigued by ever since I saw it on the SBS TV show, Food Safari. Looks like grabyourfork had it though on her expedition to Temasek earlier this year. Was tempted by ice kacang, especially when a table of 8 near us ordered one each - but the unseasonably cold November weather made me vow instead to return for the bobo chacha another time.

Chapflap took me there on his previous experience of the chilli crab, so we'll be back with a larger group to have that and my bobo chacha! This place deserves more than a 6.4 on eatability!

Disclaimer: I'm not Malaysian so I'm not vouching for the authenticity of the food. All I can say is that it tasted good! Also, as for the service (which has been criticised on eatability) I would say that it was fairly perfunctory.

Shop 2, the Roxy Arcade
71 George Street
Parramatta NSW 2150

(02) 9633 9926

Open 11:30am-2:30pm and 5:30pm-10:00pm, Tuesdays to Sundays

galston strawberries at 359, galston

There's nothing quite like farm fresh strawberries. Got this beautiful tray for $5 from an orchard in Galston, just west of Hornsby.

Also got a box of peaches for $8.

It's pretty close to to Berowra Waters, home to the 2009 SMH Good Food Guide's Best New Restaurant of the Year, Berowra Waters Inn. Why not make a day of it and grab some fresh produce on the way to a fabulous meal? (I haven't been so lucky as to have been to Berowra Waters Inn myself, I'm just going by the review at eatshowandtell)

Galston Strawberries at 359
359 Galston Road
Galston NSW 2159

Only on weekends only in September from 8am to 5pm
Open 7 days from October to April - 8am to 5pm

More information can be found here

sweetness the patisserie, at markets near you

Picked these delicious marshmallow treats up for $7.50 each at the Farmers and Fine Food Markets held at Rouse Hill on the weekend.

Unfortunately Sweetness' site is still under construction, so I'm not sure where else you can get them from. The Farmers and Fine Food Markets are next on at Rouse Hill on Saturday 20 December.

Assorted flavours - spied a passionfruit pip in one of the white ones. Fruity!


And chocolate. A fellow customer said that they were good for making rocky road.

Farmers and Fine Food Markets
Market Square (next to the main shopping centre)
Rouse Hill NSW 2155

Held monthly

Farmers and Fine Food Markets also held at Castle Hill and St Mary's Cathedral Square in the city

Saturday, November 22, 2008

casa asturiana, city

How do you feed 34 hungry students who have just endured their last set of exams? Tapas, of course!

Casa Asturiana was willing to take a booking on a Friday night without a deposit which I was pretty impressed with. We had already tried to book Encasa (50% deposit required) and Miro (no bookings of more than 8 on a Friday)...

Unfortunately didn't manage to snap all the food, so this is more a representative sample. We had the $45 a head tapas and paella banquet, which comes with the choice of a jug of sangria for every 5 people or casadiellas (a cinnamon pastry dessert). The owner said most people opt for the sangria - we ordered half-half and then added extra sangria on top ($11 a jug) - I think the all sangria option is the better one (the dessert wasn't that good, but the sangria was great).

Appetiser of roast almonds

The first of the mixed salads - I'm not sure what the orange sauce was...

The second of the salads - nice and fresh

Marinated capsicums. Yum :)

Marinated artichokes. Not everyone's cup of tea apparently (but I liked it)

The start of the tapas dishes - there were prawns...


Meatballs... and I didn't manage to take photos of the chorizo, mushrooms and chicken.

Giant paella! There's a choice between seafood or chicken. We ordered some seafood and some chicken but unfortunately they came out all seafood. It was very nice though - lots of fish in the rice as well as all the goodies on top.

The dessert - casadiellas. They reminded me of sausage rolls (even the filling looked a bit like sausage roll filling!) Note the large amount of cash in the background (moneys!!)

I was a little worried after reading the reviews at eatability but I shouldn't have been - the food was great (and served in copious amounts!), the staff friendly and helpful and the restaurant itself bright and cheerful. We were seated upstairs in a little section of our own and were treated to a dance performance at around 8:30pm.

I read in the Good Food Guide 2009 that the best tapas in the Spanish Quarter is at Capitan Torres and Miro - but most of us agreed that Capitan Torres is a bit salty. Will have to try Miro with a smaller group next time!

Casa Asturiana
77 Liverpool Street
Sydney NSW 2000

(02) 9264 1010

Open for lunch and dinner, 7 days

Thursday, November 20, 2008

greater union drive-in cinema, blacktown

After waddling out of Toan Thang we headed to the only remaining drive-in cinema in Sydney, the Greater Union at Blacktown. There used to be one at Bass Hill too, but unfortunately now it's Blacktown or nothing. It's a shame really, because there's such a feeling of nostalgia around the whole drive-in experience...

The box office opens at 7:30pm, with the movie starting at 8:30pm. They show 2 movies on each field every night, with no ability to purchase tickets before the night. They assured me though that with 400 spaces, they never sell out. Fair enough, our movie (the first night of Quantum of Solace, so I expected it to be pretty packed) wasn't even half full.

The movie itself wasn't that great (I think I heard a critic say earlier that "it commits that cardinal sin of movies - it doesn't quite make sense") but it was a good night out. Bring your children, bring your pets! (We saw a couple with a dog. I wonder if he/ she enjoyed the movie?)

Greater Union Drive-In
Cricketers Arms Road
Blacktown NSW 2148

(02) 9622 4170 for movie session times
(02) 9622 0202 for general information

Open 7:30pm 7 days
Tickets $15 for adults, $10 for concession

Tickets are currently $10 for adults if you're a Cinebuzz member. Cheap cheap!

Take the Reservoir Road exit if you're heading there on the M4 from the city (the exit after the Prospect Highway). Turn left at the first intersection, then left again at the Cricketers Arms Hotel and you'll see the entrance for the box office at the end of the road. It only took us about 20 minutes to get there from Flemington.

toan thang, flemington

I know NQN over at notquitenigella is considering a career as a professional xiao long bao taster. I think I'd like to try my hand at being a professional pho sampler. What better way to celebrate the end of uni than by tucking into an oversized, steaming bowl of beef noodle soup... topped off with a glass of refreshing coconut drink?

Everything that you should need to enjoy your pho. Even more chillis in the small silver cannister...

The obligatory bean sprouts/ mint leaves/ lemon. You can choose to have the bean sprouts pre-cooked or raw.

Yay, special beef noodle soup - $9. We both had the same thing, so that's the only photo you get of the food this time. The special beef noodle soup is special because it has things in it apart from the thinly sliced beef, like beef balls and tripe and tendons. If you're not into that there's the conventional beef noodle soup for $7.50. If you're not into noodle soup there's stir fried noodles of the egg and rice varieties, tomato rice, spring rolls...

Coconut drink - $3. There are all the other usual Vietnamese drink offerings too like red bean ice and three colour ice.

You can understand why there's a perennial line outside this restaurant, especially on Saturdays when it feeds the hordes of hungry Flemington market shoppers. When it gets busy you'll tend to have to share the tables (all fitting around 6 people) with others if you're a group of less than 6. It's not really a problem though considering how quickly they get the food out and it kind of adds to the atmosphere of the place.

Toan Thang
Shop 9/ 90 The Crescent
Flemington NSW 2140

(02) 9764 3687

Open 7 days

The shop is tucked into a little arcade on the non-Flemington market side of Flemington station. If it is completely packed there are other restaurants around the arcade to take on the overflow. Council parking nearby, and within walking distance of Flemington station.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

watergrill, kirribilli club, lavender bay

Recently refurbished, this place was bustling with patrons of all ages at Sunday lunchtime. There's a view of the Harbour Bridge from the balcony and helpful waitstaff in hot pink shirts to bring you cutlery and menus for the Watergrill, the club's bistro/restaurant. We tried:

Grilled perch served with chips and salad - $22.50. Unfortunately a bit soggy by the time it got to the table, but the sauce was very nice.

Caesar salad - $15.

Veal medallions - $24.50. These were nice and tender, served with a nice Greek-inspired dressing and feta cheese.

A gigantic serving of seafood risotto - $21.50. Very generous!

A good place to try if you're in the area looking for a relaxed place with a view.

Watergrill at the Kirribilli Club
11 Harbourview Crescent

Lavender Bay NSW 2060

(02) 9955 2245

Open from midday to midnight, Sundays to Thursdays
From midday to 1am, Fridays and Saturdays

If you cross the road on exiting the club there's a little path that leads you through a park with all sorts of quirky things in it, including a bathtub with plants growing in it!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

friendship oriental seafood restaurant, beverly hills

I apologise in advance for the quality of the photos... it was late, I had just been pacing the baggage carousels at the airport waiting for chapflap and I didn't have my proper camera with me...

We've been to this restaurant time and time again, most often after a marathon karaoke session. It's open until 2am and features a cheap-as-chips late night supper menu. For example, our bill came to only $19.60 (with a 20c per person tea charge). Can't complain about that. I think there is a minimum charge though per person - around $6-7?

Wonton noodles - $3.80. Chapflap's hand provides a useful comparison for the size of the bowl! By the way, what is it with Chinese restaurants and pink tablecloths?!

Roast duck rice noodles - also $3.80. The rice noodles are not the usual ones found in for example char kiew teow but a rounder, shorter one.

"Little boat" congee, a rice porridge with peanuts, squid, tripe and other bits and pieces. I know it doesn't sound too appetising but it's perfect comfort food - $8.80.

Deep fried dough sticks to accompany the congee (or as my friend calls them, oil fried ghosts - in reference to a literal translation of their colloquial name) - $2.80.

The menu also features a deep fried bun served with condensed milk - something my friend of the oil fried ghosts always insists on getting. It's a real heart-stopper! I'm not sure what the actual dinner menu is like (we always have the late night supper dishes) but I saw lots of people ordering the salt and pepper prawns.

Friendship Oriental Seafood Restaurant
477 King Georges Road
Beverly Hills NSW 2209

(02) 9586 3288

Open 5pm-2am 7 days

There's a council carpark nearby or if you're lucky spots along King Georges Road (if they're not all taken up by the Beverly Hills Hotel revellers!)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

currently on hold

*to the sound of tinny muzak, in true call waiting style*: "this blog is currently on hold while the author completes her university exams. Be sure to check back in a couple of weeks for actual entries!"