Monday, November 30, 2009
Update 2 December 2009: finally got my hands on a spinach and ricotta arancini on my third attempt! Went at 10:30am on a Wednesday morning after being told at 11:30am on Tuesday that they didn't make them that day. It was worth the multiple attempts at procurement! Delicious!
53 Riley St (near William Street)
Woolloomooloo NSW 2011
(02) 9331 2448
Open 7am-4pm Mondays to Fridays
Get more information here
While you're there, check out the scrumptious cakes like the chocolate honeycomb cake (so want that for my birthday next year) and lemon meringue pies (available in snack and meal size...!) And they're donating all profits from sales on Saturday 5 December to the Sydney Children's Hospital (I read it in the Sun Herald, there doesn't seem to be anything up on their website about it). All the more reason for a visit :)
We had waffles for 2 ($14) and a iced hazlenut chocolate ($6) - 3 cakes of waffley goodness smothered in chocolate sauce and strawberries washed down with a frothy ferrero rocher-like drink. The iced chocolates come in 20 flavours, and I'm intrigued to find out what the difference is between iced chocolates and chocshakes (apart from the price - chocshakes are $7). Next time, I suppose...
Also picked up 3 individual "Spark" chocolates for $2 each. The shapes of the individual chocolates remind me of Boon, but the patterns aren't as fine.
Update 2 December 2009: the Spark chocolate lived up to its description of "an explosive finish"! It had pop rocks/ wizz fizz or something in it. Nice. The chocolate was a bit gooey though despite the weather cooling down recently - low melting point perhaps?
The Chocolate Room
298 Sussex St (corner with Bathurst St)
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9269 0004
Find out more here
Open 8:30am - 11pm every day
Also at Shop 11/15 Phillip St, Parramatta NSW 2150 (and in India!)
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Hot chocolate is served with a deliciously light chocolate mousse and a praline. It was fairly dark upstairs so I didn't bother trying to photograph the drinks, but here's some shots of what we brought home:
Gift box of 5 pralines. I remember the pralines individually were $1.75, but I don't remember how much they were with the gift box and everything. Gift boxes of 8 and more also available.
One of these two chocolates is the Schubert, which features Earl Grey Tea. The other is the Jasmine, which has jasmine tea in it. Alex, who runs the place with his sister, told us that there's also a Mahler chocolate for the other classical music lovers out there. He named the Schubert because of how the flavour stays with you after you've finished it, just like Schubert's music.
Arabica, with coffee.
The gorgeous Janne, with rose.
Kurobiko, with rice crispies!!
The passion that Fanny has for the chocolates is really evident, especially in the elaborate perfume bottles made with chocolate that sit in the display drawers. It's worth dropping by just to see them.
251 Victoria Street
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
(02) 9356 8876
You can find more information here
Open Tuesdays and Wednesdays 12 midday to 8:30pm
Thursdays to Satudays 12 midday to 10:30pm
Sundays 12 midday to 7pm
Street parking available close by; note that the section of Victoria Street that Boon is on is a one way street
Sunday, June 21, 2009
We had a large special beef noodle soup ($10) and special vermicelli ($11), washed down with a longan drink ($3.50) and coconut juice ($3.50). All worth a try if you're in the area. The soup of the beef noodle was a bit oilier than our benchmark (Toan Thong in Flemington), but nice nevertheless.
I didn't take any photos of the food because at the time we were too hungry (argh, city traffic!) But here's the menu for reference... a lovely grandfatherly type man was standing at the front of the restaurant beckoning people in and told me to take one :) Click on each image for magnification to a readable size...
Gia Hoi Vietnamese Restaurant
711 George Street
Haymarket NSW 2000
(02) 9211 0221
Open 7 days 10am to 10pm
Also at 230 Canley Vale Road, Canley Heights NSW 2166
(02) 9723 7324
And 299 Chapel Road, South Bankstown NSW 2200
(02) 9796 3388
I think I read on the drinks menu that the Canley Heights outlet is open until 2am on Friday and Saturday nights. Adds another alternative to the kebab/pizza/pie late night snack...
Sweetness the Patisserie was recently featured in the Good Living section of the Sydney Morning Herald (you can see a reproduction of the article in Beansprout's Cafe), but we discovered its sugary goodness earlier at the Rouse Hill markets. I was so excited to find out at the North Sydney markets that Gena planned to open a retail store in Epping. It's now open for business, and was quite a hubbub of activity on the Saturday afternoon that we dropped in...
Hazlenut and cranberry nougat (150 grams) - $7.50. Also available in 300 grams ($13.50). Gena cut a new batch of this while we watched. So fresh, so delicious...
The ever-popular mallows. In 385 gram bags ($15)...
And 150 gram bags ($7.50). Flavours vary from season to season - chapflap was disappointed to find they weren't making mango at the moment, but we did enjoy the strawberry, raspberry, passionfruit, lime and vanilla mallows currently available.
I would've loved there to be a cafe on site to try the biscuits and cakes straight away, but at the moment the premises is mainly an open kitchen with a small retail section at the front. You'll just have to tear open your packages in the car, like we did!
Sweetness the Patisserie
38 Oxford Street
Epping NSW 2121
(02) 9869 3801
Open Mondays-Wednesdays and Fridays 8:30am to 5:30pm
Thursdays 8:30am to 8:00pm
Saturdays 8:30am to 5:00pm
You can see more information here
Street parking available in front of the store. Epping station is about a 5 minute walk away.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
This was a rather special looking dessert that I had with my parents - red bean dumpling with vanilla ice-cream mochi ($7.80). Capped off a grand feast at this popular Japanese restaurant which is just a couple of blocks down from Chatswood Chase (helping to explain its popularity). If you go as a couple try at all costs to avoid sitting in the little corridor that provides access to the toilets - not the most romantic setting!
174 Victoria Avenue
Chatswood NSW 2067
(02) 9413 3300
Agedashi tofu - $5.80. The sauce was very thin, almost like a soup, which is different to the agedashi I've tried elsewhere. Nice though.
Rice balls (or should that be pyramids?) - ikura (salmon egg) $4.50 and takana (mustard leaf) $3.80. Both very good - I'm a big fan of pickles so the takana went down well, and the seaweed was very fresh and crisp.
Inside of the ikura rice ball. Delicious...
Ramen with extra pork in tokotsu miso soup - $10.80 + $2 for the pork. Which meant it was cheaper than the roast pork ramen which retails for $14.80. Stingy, much? :) Maybe they give you more pork with the roast pork ramen... chapflap found the soup a bit too salty, we saw on the menu that you can ask for less salt so maybe that's an option. It was also slightly chilli which I found unusual, but chapflap said that some types of miso are chilli.
Karaage chicken ramen in shio (salted) soup - $12.80. I should've asked for the chicken on the side because it got soggy, but apart from that it was good. I especially liked having a whole egg (because at Ryo's you only get half an egg; although the Ryo's egg had a lot more flavour than this egg) and the seaweed sheet (at Ryo's I always get myself into a dilemma trying to decide whether to have a ramen that I don't like as much, just to have the seaweed, or to have the ramen I'm really after, but to sacrifice the seaweed). The bamboo shoots were also very fresh and tasty.
I liked how there's an option of 6 soups for the ramen (sho-yu or soy based, miso, shio, tonkotsu sho-yu, tokotsu miso and tokotsu shio), so you can definitely choose the combination that's to your liking. Apart from ramen there's also udon and soba, as well as rice bowls with teriyaki, tempura and funnily enough "ma-bo tofu" (痲婆豆腐). I must say I've never seen it before in a Japanese restaurant.
Another highlight was the innovative interior design - they've used a mixture of English and Japanese newspapers to line one of the walls, which makes for interesting reading while waiting for your meal to arrive. Otherwise there's a open kitchen so you'll be sure not to be short of entertainment.
Dan-Dan Japanese Dining & Noodle Bar
Shop 3/197 Military Road (intersection with Rangers Road, on the southern side of Military Road)
Neutral Bay NSW 2089
(02) 9904 1888
Open 7 days from 12midday to 3pm (see, I had nothing to worry about arriving at 2pm) and 5:30pm to 10:00pm (last order 9:30pm)
You can get more information here
On the little take-away menu I got, it says "no booking available for dining". Parking is notoriously tight around Military Road, you can park at the nearby Woolworths carpark (entrance on Yeo Street) for free if you buy something from Woolies (which means yes, the parking's not really free, but if you buy something that you're going to need anyway, then it's ok)
Monday, June 08, 2009
We spotted a peacock being shooed out of a family's tent - definitely keep the doors zipped up!
There's a wallaby hidden there in the undergrowth...
The wildlife theme continues - I thought that the end of the branch right at the top of the picture here looked a bit like a wombat. Or was I just imagining things?
Apart from the wildlife, there's also canoeing to try in the Shoalhaven River, plenty of space to pedal around in and bushwalks to wander through. It's definitely a very family friendly place, with hot showers, free BBQs/gas stoves and flat fields perfect for kicking a ball around. My only miff was loud music/conversation continuing beyond around midnight; the group of teens were good about turning it down though once chapflap had a word to them about it.
Aaaaww... we love camping :) Definitely a change from my high school Duke of Ed days, when a rolled up jumper serving as a pillow was the height of luxury! Not only does Coolendel have hot showers (and very clean toilets) and cooking facilities, but there's safe drinking water which I was told is sourced from the Shoalhaven River and treated on-site. So even though you could readily bring your own drinking water in (since you can camp right next to your car, saving the need to lug things from a carpark to the actual site), there's really no need.
Coolendel Camping and Cabins
Grassy Gully Road
Coolendel NSW (approximately 30km west of Nowra)
(02) 4421 4586
Cabins from $100/night (off peak season, sleeps up to 6 people)
Camping from $16/night (off peak season, per adult)
You can find more information here
Coolendel was reviewed in the Sydney Morning Herald a month or so back but I can't find the online version now. All I remember was that it was a very favourable review. I actually found out about the place before the review came out (just by looking around on the web, there are a lot of reviews of the place on 4WD websites and the like) and was worried that it'd get booked out with the SMH review! There's definitely no need to worry though, there was plenty of camping space to go around when we were there.
Note that the 30km drive out of Nowra to get to Coolendel is very straightforward for the first 20km or so (100km/h, excellent) but then the last 11km is windy and unpaved (but fairly compacted, so it's not like there's dirt flying everywhere or anything). The drive's do-able in a 2WD (good suspension will make the ride more comfortable...) but try to set out a bit early so you can get through it before dark (and setting up a tent is always much easier with natural light... no, there were no hissy fits when we were setting up our tent at 6pm, none at all...). If you don't want to risk the 11km windiness, we saw the entrance to another campsite along the 20km paved road called Grady's Riverside Retreat. Looks like there are no wombats resident there though unfortunately :( There are clear signs leading out of Nowra to Coolendel, just follow the directions on the Coolendel website (and once you turn out of Nowra towards Coolendel there's only really one road you can go on, so it's unlikely you'll get lost)
This tourist attraction opened in 2008 and had no shortage of visitors on the Saturday of the long weekend that we were there. The walk itself doesn't take very long to complete (give it about 45 minutes to an hour, maybe more if like an adorable girl we saw, you require a bit of coaxing to get up the Knights Tower) and the views are great; but is it worth the $22 admission fee for adults ($9.50 for children between 6-16 and $20 for seniors)? I'd read on a blog (that I can't find the link to now, argh) that you can get similar views from lookouts in the nearby Budderro National Park, but I figured that if we were in the area, we might as well buy into the whole commercial experience. No shame in that, right?
Overall I think admission was fairly pricey in relation to the experience, but it was a well-constructed walk with lovely views, so I won't complain about that.
I think I saw a sign saying that the Minnamurra Rainforest Centre in the Budderoo National Park is currently closed for renovations - it looks like it's re-opening in July 2009. So maybe wait until that re-opens before heading down to the area and taking in both the Illawarra Fly and the Rainforest Centre.
182 Knights Hill Road (off Jamberoo Mountain Road, all very well signposted)
Knights Hill NSW 2577
1300 362 881
You can find more information here
Open 9am to 5pm seven days a week
My potato pie. There's really nothing like instant mashed potato, especially since my proposal to take a packet camping was vetoed.
The all-important sauce anointing ritual. I think that's the curry chicken pie.
A work in progress - a chunky beef pie. Mmmm.
And a before shot of my lemon meringue pie. Crispy fluffy meringue, tart delicious lemon curd... I wonder if they make it in the microwave like they did the other night on Masterchef?
We returned to Robertson Pie Shop on our way home to pick up a large steak and mushroom pie and two large sweet pies (apple and rhubarb and apple and strawberry). All very nice (although I didn't get to try the steak and mushroom myself, I'm just going on the fact that it was all gone within the day we got back). Definitely worth a stop if you're in the area - a warning though that the Macquarie Pass (part of Jamberoo Mountain Road, towards the Robertson end) from Albion Park to Robertson is a bit treacherous, but not so nerve-wracking that a warm pie won't settle the tummy.
Robertson Pie Shop
Corner Illawarra Highway and Jamberoo Mountain Road
Robertson NSW 2577
(02) 4885 1330
Open Monday to Friday 7:30am to 7:00pm
Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays 8:00am to 7:00pm
During winter the shop's closing at 6:00pm Mondays to Thursdays.
From memory small savoury pies will set you back between $3-$4, small sweet pies from $3. Large pies around the $13 mark.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Sign of the times, ey?
On a brighter note, I did notice that Bonta Vita had printed out a copy of here comes the food's review and stuck it on its window. Good work guys :)
501 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Update 2 June 2009: appears that a selection of mochi from Shu Shin Bou is available in front of Miracle Supermarket, World Square, corner of George and Liverpool Streets. So all's not lost!!
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Here are some highlights from the past couple of months:
Green tea marshmallow, Tetsuya's, Sydney - chapflap and I went for Valentine's Day; it was a lovely night capped off by 4 courses of dessert. My kind of restaurant...!
Macarons, Sweet Infinity, "East Sydney" - continuing the dessert theme, these gorgeous pink temptations lure me into this patisserie on a regular basis. Sometimes they're fluoro pink, sometimes they're a baby girl pink - I've been told that it just depends on the mood of the baker on the day. Delicious with a coffee and a sure-fire way to make the afternoon just a bit more bearable. East Sydney is in quotations because according to Australia Post it's not a real suburb; despite that we use it for all our work correspondence with no problems.
Eggplant with honey, Soni's, Newtown - an unusual combination which worked. The other big hit of the night was glasses of rosé; I went with the Madame Special cocktail instead. Yum.
Hummus, Sultan's Table, Enmore - "Sultan's Table?" my cousin asked when I told her where we were going for dinner that night, "isn't that where all the foodbloggers go?" Nooo, I exercised a completely free choice in selecting where to head before seeing Shane Warne: The Musical (see it before the season finishes, it's great!) The mixed plate of dips was colourful and flavoursome - will have to head back soon for more hummus (my favourite dip of the night) and to try some baklava (was too full that night). Definitely book ahead - we saw so many people get turned away (it was a Saturday night) - but if you can't get a seat, you could always get take-away...
Mother's Day lunch, Athol Hall, Bradleys Head - this function centre located just beyond Taronga Zoo has wonderful views and delicious food. We attemped to walk off our 3-course feast afterwards by wandering around the boardwalk just below the restaurant. Even though it's mainly a function centre, the place does serve lunch/afternoon tea Tuesday to Friday and Sunday. Highly recommended, but call ahead to double check that they're not closing for a function or fully booked (as the balcony where they serve lunch/afternoon tea is fairly compact).
Graduation dinner, Zilver, Sydney - after 5 long years, I was very grateful to be joined by family (including relatives from overseas) and friends in celebrating my graduation. There's a minimum charge of $650 if you want a private room, which we easily met because we had a table of 14, as well as a karaoke room if you're into that kind of thing and mahjong tables available for an additional $50 (the restaurant opens at 5pm for dinner, so you can get in a couple of rounds before you eat). Above average Cantonese fare matched by good service, this is also nice for yum cha because it serves more interesting dim sum than your typical prawn dumplings and siu mai. You can see a rather trippy photo from the dinner here at my cousin's blog :)
Now, here's hoping I won't make you wait another 4 months before another post...
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Edamame - $3.90. A large serving compared to what you usually get. Served warm, which I prefer to the refrigerated cold version.
Takoyaki - $5.90. The movement of the bonito flakes never fails to fascinate me! Not as creamy/ heavy as the takoyaki at Makoto. I prefer this version, plus I liked the accompanying salad.
Shoyu ramen - $8.50, featuring pork, bamboo shoots and corn. I like having a seaweed sheet and boiled egg in my ramen, so I was happy that they came with the dish.
Chashu ramen - $11.50, featuring extra pork. Chapflap gave the soup a 7, the noodles themselves an 8 and the pork a 9. He gives near 10's for all these components at Ryo's...
So ultimately if you're in the Neutral Bay area and in the mood for ramen, your first stop should probably be Ryo's. But if you want a change, definitely give Kenta a try (it's also a good option for Wednesday nights, when Ryo's is closed). We'll come back to try the Dongoru Ramen which was specially created for the magazine - I only read grabyourfork's revised entry after we went.
81 Military Road (near the intersection with Ben Boyd Road)
Neutral Bay NSW 2089
(02) 9953 5422
Open Wednesdays to Sundays 12pm-2pm and 6pm-10pm
Open on Tuesdays 6pm-10pm only
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Happily, I stumbled across Sweetness the Patisserie again today at the Northside Produce Markets, which are held every 3rd Saturday of the month in North Sydney.
Mixed mallows - strawberry, vanilla and passionfruit ($8). We wanted the mango ones from last time, which were divine, but Gena said she changes flavours every month. She also said that she is planning to open a shopfront in Epping on 9 February! Looks like we'll be heading that way for a visit soon...
At the markets we also enjoyed an amazingly flaky sausage roll and pasty:
Sausage roll ($3) and Shepherd's Pasty ($4) from Shepherds Bakehouse.
And to polish off a delicious morning, two desserts from Consummate Caterers:
Apricot tart ($5.50) and apple and rhubarb cake ($4). There was an apple seed in my cake! Both were deliciously moist and packed with fruit. Unfortunately I couldn't find any information about Consummate Caterers through google, but look out for them at markets near you (or maybe I should say smell out for them - their egg and bacon rolls smelt delicious).
This was the first time I'd been to the Northside Produce Markets, and I was very impressed by the variety of stalls and the number of people (and dogs!) there. There's street parking nearby or a council carpark via Ridge Street (free on the weekend).
Northside Produce Markets
Civic Park (which is between Stanton Library and the North Sydney Council Chambers)
Miller Street (between Ridge and McLaren streets)
North Sydney NSW 2060
More information is available here
The next markets will be held on 21 Februrary from 8am to midday
Sweetness the Patisserie
Opening soon at 38 Oxford Street
Epping NSW 2121
At markets near you
Check their markets listing here
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
The place was actually full at 8:30pm for a Tuesday night - not surprising considering its location, I suppose. After a short wait outside (during which a man suggested we go to the Orient Hotel instead, where he'd just had a $10 lasagna) we were seated in a very small and tightly packed dining area. The food arrived quickly:
Medium (11") meatlovers pizza - plenty of ham, salami, cabanossi and pepperoni on a thin, soft base ($14).
Medium smoked salmon pizza - smoked salmon, capers and onion - a good combination ($14).
Medium Zia Pina special pizza - salami, ham, mushrooms and capsicum. I liked this one best - a good variety and generous serving of toppings ($14).
Caprese salad - described on the menu as "tomato, boccocinni and basil", I still was expecting some lettuce in there... turns out the menu's description is precisely accurate! Quite plain, but a good foil against the pizzas ($12).
People were still venturing in as we polished off the food, although eventually a waiter drew the curtains on the door. We left with tummies heavier and our wallets only $11 lighter each (the meal was a total of $66 including soft drinks). A good alternative to Pancakes on the Rocks for a late night feed in the city.
93 George Street
The Rocks NSW 2000
(02) 9247 2255
Open 12 midday to 2pm 7 days
Open 6pm to 10pm Mondays to Thursdays
6pm to 11pm Fridays and Saturdays
Sunday, January 04, 2009
I love the smell of baking in the morning.
Doesn't have quite the same ring as the Robert Duvall line, does it? Regardless, these buns are actually great for any time of the day. The recipe was originally given to me to make sausage buns, found in Asian bakeries the world over, but you can substitute any filling you'd like. I've used bacon and cheese this time around - char siu (barbequed pork) and onion, or tuna and corn also work well, or you can try sweet fillings like red bean or chocolate.
500g plain flour
250ml water - you can use milk for a more substantial bun, or try half milk half water
15g yeast - if you get the little pre-packed sachets of yeast (such as the Tandaco brand, which we've used in the past), this is equivalent to 2 sachets. Otherwise use 4 teaspoons of yeast
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
50g butter, melted
1 tablespoon of honey or golden syrup
This recipe makes 24 small, snack-sized buns.
1. Heat the water/ milk to body temperature. Using my microwave it took 30 seconds on high. Don't over-heat it, or you'll kill the yeast.
2. Dissolve the yeast and sugar into the water/ milk. It'll look an unappetising beige/grey colour.
3. Wait 10 minutes for the yeast to activate. There should be little bubbles on the surface of the mixture (unfortunately not too clearly discernible in the photo, also starring the melted butter and the beaten egg).
4. Place flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Create a well in the middle of the flour and pour the egg, butter and yeast solution in. If you plan to glaze the buns, reserve a little of the egg at this stage.
5. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to form a ball. Add some more flour gradually if it's too liquid or sticky. Once the dough stops sticking to the spoon, get your hands in there and knead for 15-20 minutes.
6. Cover mixing bowl with a tea towel and place it in a warm place for 1 hour. We put it in an oven that hasn't been switched on.
7. Dough should have risen to twice its original size - don't worry too much about its exact size, the dough will continue to rise when you put the filling in and put it in the oven. Split the dough up into two pieces, it's easier to work with half of it at a time. The second photo shows half the dough being divided up into 12 pieces (first 4 pieces , and then each of the 4 pieces into 3 smaller pieces. Motherflap has been known to weigh them...)
8. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
9. Fill the buns however you'd like. If you're making sausage buns, the dough is traditionally wrapped around the cocktail sausage. I've taken the lazy route and just popped the cheese and bacon (200g of each for the 24 buns) on top. To make filled buns, roll each piece of dough out to make a circle of about 8cm in diameter. Put the filling in the middle of the circle, then bunch up the edges like a dumpling. Put the dough on the tray bunched side down so that the top of the bun will be nice and smooth.
10. If you'd like shiny buns, mix the reserved egg together with the honey or golden syrup and brush on top of each bun.
11. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
These are great for lunchboxes, picnics or parties. There's just something magical about baking bread - seeing the dough rise, marvelling at the air bubbles that come up when you split it into pieces and most of all the smell that wafts out from the kitchen as it bakes in the oven. It'll bring even the most hardened hibernator out into the sunlight, I promise!
My idea of a pyramid scheme. I don't think it'll catch on just yet in place of cupcakes as a wedding cake substitute...