Tuesday, 30 October 2007

happy 21st bro!

"To my dearly loved and awesome brother, hope you had a fantastic 21st! Make good use of the Minus 5 vouchers and hope you liked the rest of the pressies! Man, I can't believe you're already 21! If anything, it makes me feel extremely old. Hmmm...."

Mum & John.

So to celebrate my bro turning 21, family along with Billy (another 21st b'day boy) & Justin, went to Excellent Chinese Seafood Restaurant at Carlingford Court. This place is more or less our regular Chinese Restaurant that we go to when we can be bothered to eat out (usually dad cooks). Anyway, the people who work there seem to know us and given we always order a lot of food, we always seem to get quite good service and over time, the waiters and waitresses know that my dad is 'Mr Ip'. It can be a little invasive at times when they ask (in the middle of dinner) why we haven't been to the restaurant in so long. Other than that, I'm quite fond of this place considering I've seen it changed hands and I've more or less grown up with their food since eons ago when I was much smaller.

Usually, dad more or less orders the same dishes. The only variation is whether he orders everything or just the few select dishes. The occasion being my bro's b'day, he went about to order everything. I was already quite full after the 3rd entree dish we had ordered! There was soup, duck pancakes, mini abalones, oysters (fried and steamed), sang choy bow, fried milk, lobster, beef, fish (2 styles) and this was followed by dessert soup and fruit. I think everything we had, we ended up taking home a little bit. Not a bad thing though, cause we've since had leftovers for dinner for the past two nights. And I swear, leftover lobster tastes even better than when it's first dished up!

My absolute favourite: Duck Pancakes.

This is how I like my oysters :P
Lobster! Yummeeee...Fried Milk at the back.

For those that haven't been here, I highly recommend their Crab with Vermicelli Noodles. We didn't have it this time but seriously, I could eat that all day if I wanted to. The vermicelli noodles in particular are extremely tasty! Otherwise, they have this thing called Beggar's Chicken which makes a rather impressive appearance at the table. Coated in mud and cooked (in an oven?), the waiter uses a hand-held saw to saw open the layer of mud. We didn't have this either but I was reminded when everyone looked at the table next to us of what a delicacy this can be. Anyhow, this as well as the fried milk which we had need to be ordered in advance.

An extremely yummy dinner. Happy 21st Bro!

Sunday, 28 October 2007

happy 21st sean!

There were a couple of 21sts in the past week, my brother's included. Unfortunately, my brother made it quite clear that me/family weren't invited - he ended up taking a small group of friends to the Bavarian Beer Cafe. Anyhow, we celebrated with him on Sunday at our usual Chinese restaurant (next post) and had a usual massive meal.

On Saturday though, I went to Sean's 21st (i.e. Justin's brother) but also a close friend of my brother. Not sure how it all happened but I somehow found myself with my brother at the same 21st. Honestly, it was a bit bizarre and we did our best to stay out of each other's way - he was part of the group drinking all the alcohol, I was part of the 'older people' who was helping out with the cooking.

Me and Melvin aka. bouncer for the night. I love the oversized sunnies!

For the first time ever, I actually got to see a spit cooking! I remember considering it for my 21st but I ended up having a BBQ. Anyhow, 12kg of combined beef and pork went round and round in a circle. And that's what it did, just went round and round. After 7 solid hours of trying to cook the two chunks of meat, we resolved to carving it off and putting it on the barbie, it was just taking way too long.

When the meat went on at 2pm.

What was being served for dinner, I had quite a bit already at lunch :P Yummy!

Chocolate Fudge Cookies & Cream Cake from Pastry Perfection, Mobbs Lane.

Mind you, there was plenty of food to go round whilst we were waiting for the meat to cook. On the bain marie was nasi lemak, roasted potatos and corn, noodles and this was accompanied by salads, this thing called 'ajak', rolls, sausages, chicken wings....plenty of home brewed beer which didn't take long to get through, eskies of drinks and this was yet to be followed by cake and dessert.

I definitely learnt a lot about Sean through the speeches. Dirt that was rather consistent across all the speeches! I honestly had a lot of fun but am reminded of how long it's been since I turned 21. Still thinking about the yummy meat despite the time it took to cook. Mmmmm......

Happy 21st Sean!

Thursday, 25 October 2007

chat thai @ haymarket

I recently got in touch with a primary school friend through Facebook (You've got to love it!). She'd messaged me to say hello and before you know it, we agreed to meet up for dinner in the city after work. She's probably the only person I know that works down my end of the city (everyone's all the way up at Wynard & Town Hall...and well, me, I'm stuck down Ultimo way where there's pretty much nothing except for Market City across the bridge.)

Anyway, after one fantastic Japanese dinner where the two of us exhausted our voices chatting our lives away, we've since managed to meet up again and continue our girly silliness and talks of nothing but also everything. This girl is officially my eating buddy for life! Not only is she fantastic company but she has an appetite for food like no other. She equally shares my passion for food and pretty much eats everything, even chilli! And well, it was definitely one chilly meal at Chat Thai on Campbell Street, Haymarket!

Meet Katie.

We actually only saw this restaurant as we were making our way to another Thai restaurant on the same street. The front entrance had caught our attention and immediately we crossed the road, saw that the menu was much cheaper, looked inside and noticed that the restaurant consisted of a number of levels and was packed to the brim. Then and there, we decided to grab a table and a very lovely waitress managed to fit us upstairs.

Plenty of indecisiveness later, we settled for Chicken Satay Sticks, a green chicken curry and a chicken & bean stirfry. I tried their ice coffee which was on a rather extensive drinks list (mind you, the most expensive drink was only $4).

Chicken Satay Sticks + Ice Coffee.

Our two mains which we had with rice.
Food is superb! Be mindful that their dishes are generally on the spicy side so if you love spicy, you're at the right place. The menu might take a little time to get use to (just the way it's laid out) but a combination of speedy and attentive service, very friendly staff, superb & cheap food, and awesome decor, you'll be won over. I probably spent half my meal looking at the painting that was hanging behind Katie's back (it's very cute!). Anyway, all our things came to $37. They did have to urge us to move on towards the end of our meal (as our table was booked - but hey, this was a Tuesday night that we're talking about).


Sunday, 21 October 2007

orange & poppyseed syrup cake

When left to my own devices, I find that I'll always end up in the kitchen at some point. Whether it's to grab a snack, to grab a drink of water, to read the paper or to idle my afternoon away, the kitchen has a lot to offer. More often than not, you'll find me pick up a recipe book whilst in the kitchen and withing seconds later, I'll be rummaging around looking for all the ingredients that I need. That's what I did this afternoon when it was hot outside and a certain sense of lethargy required some baking to keep my mind and hands occupied.

The recipe I used today was from Cafe Cakes (part of the Australian Women's Weekly mini series). At last count, between mum and I, we're pretty close to collecting the whole set. Strangely enough, amongst all the other recipe books which have earned their spot on my bookshelf, the AWW cookbooks have ended up being the most used. I attribute it to the simplicity of the recipes and the fact that you know there's always a recipe in there where you have all the ingredients on hand to start baking. I highly recommend Cafe Cakes for their Friand as well as Orange & Poppyseed Cake recipes. Yum!

Cake, straight out of the oven.

Sliced and ready to be consumed. By the way, Happy Birthday Billy!

There's so much baking/cooking that I want to do that I'm not even sure how I'll fit it in! Thanks to work, this week I inherited some back issues of Australian Gourmet Traveller, Dish & Australian Table which provided good entertainment this afternoon whilst the cake was in the oven. I need to have a party and I need to have people who can eat lots and lots!

Saturday, 20 October 2007

granny smith festival @ eastwood

Most people probably don't know this but Eastwood is actually home to the Granny Smith Apple. Some hundreds of years ago when presumably Eastwood was still farmland and cows and sheep roamed the streets, a little old granny by the name of Smith was growing her apple trees and truly making a name for herself. Today, you'll find Granny Smith apples at your local fruit market and supermarket. Granny Smith apples are particularly good for baking and I imagine, most apple pies use this as a key ingredient.

So for as long as I've been living in Eastwood, the Granny Smith Festival has taken place every year in October. By all means, the festival has grown and today, you'll find even more stalls, even more entertainment and even more individuals, groups, clubs and the like get involved in the festival. Every year there's the Miss Granny Smith Pageant, there's the street parade, there's the raffle, there's the apple store, there's the fireworks, the rides; things I've well and truly grown up with and become a part of.

This year's festival was blessed with extremely good weather and the festive spirit was to be felt by all! Unfortunately, the good weather meant that the flies were out to play and as a personal thing, I really can not stand flies!
Red & Green Apples ($2 a bag for Granny Smith apples, a whopping $4 for the red ones!). A new addition to the festival: cupcakes from The Cupcake Place.

Human Joeys. I was not impressed by the things dangling in between their legs. Hmm...

Back at home and out of the heat, a grumpy J hogs all the icecream.

And before I knew it, the day was over! I wonder what next year will bring...

sugar hit @ sheraton on the park

A couple of things happened this week: a) I learnt from the Dutchman at work how it is that you pronounce profetjes (I still prefer to call them Dutch Pancakes), b) I turned a couple of shades darker from sitting out at lunchtime (on my way to become chocolate coloured like I usually do when summer rolls around), c) Went to the Night Noodle Markets another two times, and d) The highlight: Going to my first Sugar Hit for the month! Yay!

Joining me was my bestie, Amy who went to her first Night Noodle Markets and kindly turned down her boy and his insistence on coming along with us. Phew! (And how dare he just tag along like that anyway!) Anyhow, we grabbed a quick dinner before our search for a Sugar Hit location.

Amy with her Pad Thai from Yai.

Me and my chicken Tom Yum from Yai.

Our first stop was Swissotel on Market Street. Thinking that it was probably the most convenient and closest to the station for afterwards, we trekked up to Crossroads Bar on Level 8 only to be told that their earliest availability was 10.30pm. Turns out a lot of people had made bookings (not so much of a surprise given it was a Thursday night). Feeling ever so rejected, we went back downstairs, recollected ourselves (the Sugar Hit menu at Swissotel was actually looking really good!), we trekked back over to Sheraton on the Park where we thought we might be luckier.

We weren't actually sure if Sugar Hit was happening and when we questioned the concierge at the hotel counter, he was even more clueless than we were. He ended up asking someone more senior and we were advised that it was 'probably' happening in the restaurant upstairs. Boys, they know nothing about sweets (that's something I've well and truly learnt!)

Upstairs we went, and here we were told that Sugar Hit didn't start till 9pm. Great! Good thing was shops were still open so we could actually kill some time. Although, can you believe it, when we came back at 9pm, we were told that we hadn't made a booking and they didn't have a table! At this point, there were probably tears in my eyes and it must have been the waiter seeing how upset I was that he offered to seat us in the bar if we didn't mind. Yay! Anyway, the atmosphere was probably 10 times nicer anyway compared to being seated in the main part of the restaurant.

Brown Brothers Dessert Wine and a trio of Creme Brulee, a mini Poached Pear and a Chocolate Bombe Alaska. Yum!

A Happy Amy & Jenny after Dessert.

I'm not too sure why the price has gone up to $20. If it goes up anymore, I'll probably stop going. Nonetheless, it looks like this might be my one and only Sugar Hit this year. Everyone's been too busy, J doesn't seem to exist anymore, and well, it's too lonely to go by myself. Thanks Amz for coming with me; you are the best, as always!

Monday, 15 October 2007

night noodle markets @ hyde park (round 1)

We're already half way through good food month and to date, I've only attended one event; that's probably even more dismal than last year! I've been looking at the sugar hit menus and continue to wait patiently for a friend to be freed up. Why is it that thesis', uni exams and the like all have to happen in the month designated for food!? Arghh.....*not happy*

Nonetheless, thanks to the lovely Jo and Grace, I made it to the Night Noodle Markets @ Hyde Park last Thursday. Seems like this year they've squashed the markets to one side of the park. Not only was it incredibly packed (as is every year), they'd filled up all the available grass space with tables which meant that it was beyond packed and you actually had to walk further to find some grass to sit down for your meal! Silly organisers! It was a lot better last year where they used a bit more of the park.

Me, Grace & Jo.
Foodwise, I was actually a tad disappointed by what little new food that was on offer. Previous stallholders were there again this year, I don't think I picked up on anything new. What struck me more was that every second stall was Thai. Being a big fan of Thai food, I didn't mind too much but retrospectively, it defeated the purpose of an event that was to celebrate food.

Anyhow, the good old favourites were there; that being Dutch Pancakes and Serendipity Icecream. My intake of dessert was considerably bigger than my shared Pad Thai from Yai with Grace. Otherwise, the Sweet Potato Kusabi Chips from Wagamama deserve a mention; served with the yummiest wasabi mayo. I think they actually tasted better at the markets compared to the ones I've had a Wagamama store previously. They were crunchy as chips should be!

Grace proudly displaying our Dutch pancakes.

Those yummy Sweet Potato Kusabi Chips!

Me & Jo. Jo with her Wagamama noodles.
I'm keen on heading back (hence 'Round 1') even if it means battling the crowds and surviving the horrendous Sydney weather. How lucky were we on Thursday when it started raining cats and dogs as soon we finished up our ice creams!

Sunday, 14 October 2007

sushi-ya @ atarmon

I possibly OD'ed on Japanese food this weekend but I must say, I would've died happy. I had endamame beans, scampi miso, soft shell crab, sashimi, sushi, agedashi tofu, salad, green tea, green tea ice cream (with red bean and crunchy nut!) and this was followed by ramen, tonkatsu, and karage chicken all in the space of a day! At one point, I was feeling slightly uncomfortable but albeit uncomfortably happy. Thanks to everyone for your company!

In particular, allow me to recommend the Lunch Set Menu at Sushi-ya in Atarmon. For a mere $23.50, you get a meal that is fit for a king! We should've gone for 2 orders in between the 3 of us that were there but I suppose if we'd done that, we wouldn't have appreciated the value of what that $23.50pp bought us. I think for the first time in my life, I was satisfyingly full on a Jap meal. I'm sure lovers of Jap food would agree with me that it's incredibly difficult to get full on a yummy Jap meal at a cheap price. It's no wonder that the Sushi-ya in Atarmon is always packed (I think it's actually cheaper than the one in Chatswood!).
An entree of Endamame beans.

2 pieces of agedashi tofu. I was starting to feel full sometime after this.

Next up....potato salad & greens.

Tuna, Salmon & Kingfish Sashimi!

Scampi Miso. Starting to feel heartburn...

Delicious Soft Shell Crab! How to resist...

Probably the course that took the longest to arrive. 8 pieces of assorted sushi.

Final course: Green Tea Icecream! Belly overflowing but we proceed to clean the glasses...

And how long did it take us to eat all that? Probably just over 1.5 hours. We really struggled towards the end but we all agreed that the meal had been well worth our money. Thanks Godi & Mandy for your company! I had an awesome time! And like I said, I'm gonna start eating my green tea ice cream with crunchy nut from now on..it's so tasty! Mandy, thanks for the entertainment back at your place...old albums always bring laughs!

Anyway, I proceeded to have dinner at Zenya in Eastwood ...but that will be a story for another day...

Friday, 12 October 2007

the biscuit tree @ epping twilight markets

I nearly chucked a spaz when I couldn't find Suze's stall. J& I looked at the stalls at the bottom, then J pointed out there were more stalls up top, went up the stairs, still no Suze. All J's fault for being a snail and taking his time to get to my place! Just as we were about to give up, we saw the sign for the Indoor Stalls. She had to be in there and yay, behind the mound of biscotti, shortbread and cupcakes, we found our lovely Suze (gosh it's been awhile!). Photo to prove that she was there; it was already getting close to about 8.30pm and the markets were starting to wind up.

As Suze promised, those who come bearing the magic word are rewarded with a mini cupcake. Both J&I got a mini cupcake in a cone. Delicious! Suze's parents thought we should pose for a photo.

After considerable taste tasting, we decided on 2 bags of biscotti and a bag of shortbread, at a special of $20. Suze kindly reminded us that we needed to eat these before March next year. I told her quite honestly that it would be lucky if they lasted till next week. The last bag she gave me lasted not even an hour! I personally vouch for The Biscuit Tree. Now that Suze is hopping around all the markets, expect to find me stalking her.

Yay! A Free cupcake with our purchases! Thanks Suze! You're awesome!

Anyway, if you haven't heard about them, the Epping Twilight Markets are on every second Friday of the month, between 5-9pm at 6-8 Cambridge St, Epping. Check out The Biscuit Tree (say Hello to Suze) and find a selection of find foods, gourmet delights, market food stalls and the like. Btw...we bought a tub of Nectarine Jam!! Thanks again Suze for the very yummy-licious cupcakes. I'll be there next month for the Passionfruit ones which I missed out on!