Sunday, 27 April 2008

sugar magic: lesson 8

8 weeks of class went by like a breeze and well, finally something to show and tell : ) I can't say that I'm the most coordinated person when it comes to sugar work but with a bit of persistence, a lot of patience, lots and lots of icing sugar later, here is what I managed to put together...

My completed rose and jasmine bud spray!
The class' work put together.
Thumbs up to Margaret, our ever patient and talented teacher - we all managed to get through the course and achieve what seemed like the impossible. Anyway, can't wait till class starts again next week!

And to answer everyone's question...yes, you can eat these things but personally, I wouldn't recommend it - they're too pretty!

Friday, 25 April 2008

cafe giulia's @ abercrombie st., broadway

Admittedly, since KT's been in Melbourne, I haven't been doing midweek dinners out. Everyone else I've asked is either busy, claim that they have work the next day or prefer to do something on the weekend. So when KT said she'd be back for the Easter break, I was beaming. But instead of having a dinner during the week this time (given this girl's busy schedule where she was catching up people every day of the week that she was back), we opted for something a little different which was to catch up on a Saturday during the day. KT suggested a place that was near her old work and very conveniently, we could visit the Glebe markets that were on nearby.

Ironically, Abercrombie St. is just on my way to work (about 10 minutes walk from Central Station). You turn left at the pub and for a good stretch of road, there really doesn't appear to be much but after you walk by a wedding gown boutique, some abandoned buildings, you'll find a niche little cafe called 'Cafe Giulia's' right on the corner.

The menu is up on the blackboard behind the counter and it's an open kitchen stretching right to the back where there's a little courtyard if you choose to sit outside. On a Saturday mid-morning/lunch, it's packed. Here's my chicken burger with bacon and a grapefruit & watermelon juice.

KT gets the chicken burger without the bacon. A wise choice given how big the burger bun is. I was stuffed!
As we chatted our weekend away, we watched in awe as a rather cute looking chef served up breakfast after breakfast of scrambled eggs, eggs on toast, full breakfasts, bagels, and more to a crowd that only got bigger as we ate. We both agreed that if either of us were to ever open a cafe, it would be one like this. An open kitchen, a chalkboard menu, cute chefs, great music, and most importantly, delicious food in most satisfying portions.

Overall the cafe is very relaxed and down to earth. You pay, you find yourself a table, you sit there for as long as you like and feel free to pull out a book and read if your heart so desires. Service was friendly (our waitress helped us to find a table) and gosh, I love it!!! Prices are reasonable and won't break your wallet; even more reason for me to be loving it! Thanks KT (as usual) for an awesome day out!!

Thursday, 24 April 2008

warrimoo pizza & pasta restaurant @ st. ives

Usually I'm in St. I'ves for 2 reasons: a) To go to Max Brenner (my closest ever since the one in Chatswood Chase closed down) and b) To visit my friend who lives next to the forest (and usually, also go to Max Brenner). A couple of weeks ago, K (the friend that lives next to the forest) suggested having dinner at a pizza and pasta place just down the road from him.

Warrimoo is in a somewhat isolated location, part of handful of shops which if you're not a local, you probably won't pay too much attention to. There's about 10-15 parking spots just out front which was handy for us that night, we grabbed a spot just out front. Almost as soon as the car made its stop, J jumped out and headed into the liquor store to grab us a bottle of wine.

K did the honours and picked out a selection of dishes for us to try. I love how the pizzas come on this stand; it saves so much room on the table!! (Unfortunately I can't remember the pizzas we had but both were really, really good - you'll find that these pizzas only have a sprinkling of cheese but the good thing is that you can taste how fresh the ingredients are).
One of their pastas from their special menu (again the name forgotten). The dish was licked clean!
M&I were pretty confident we could fit dessert - ended up getting the Meringue and the Sticky Date Pudding. The Meringue in particular lead to the conversation of what the differences were between meringue and pavlova (any thoughts?). Both were yum! (They also had a Frangipane Tart on their menu which we were keen to try but they had already sold out for the night).
The boys thought they would have a photo too. J pretending he's on the phone.
On the whole, dinner was extremely relaxing, service friendly and the food exceptional. It was a great place to wind down on a Friday night. K was funny (as buggered as he was, and after a couple glasses of wine), he's like 'Is my car still out there? I can't seem to see it? Has it gone?' Hmm...

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

jane's kitchen @ pennant hills rd.

You can hardly tell from the outside just how many people that can fit into this tiny restaurant that's on Pennant Hills Road (squeezed between Carlingford Court and Carlingford Village). My family had come here years and years ago; hadn't been awfully impressed with the food but under a friend's recommendation recently, revisited the place and gave the food another go. I daresay there's been a change of management and/or cook since we were last there and really, you're probably not there for spectacular food, but you do get some rather nice, home-style cooking which is a point of difference to the often heavily styled, colourful Chinese food you get when you eat out. And the bonus - it's actually quite reasonably priced.

Bookings are highly recommend on a Saturday night as by 6pm, the restaurant was completely filled up and bustling. I watched as my friend's family came in just after 6 and were turned away as tables had already been filled up; even the 2 seater tables were all sitting 3 plus that table right in the doorway which caught every wave of wind that blew through when the door was swung open was fully occupied.

The soup that came at the start of our meal - sweet with the natural flavour of corn.
Chicken that's been cooked with a Clear Soup. Have it with the crushed garlic, shallot and oil dip and it's superb.
Our assorted dishes including salt and pepper squid, beef on a hot plate, duck's feet with sea cucumber and a sweet and sour pork. Serving sizes aren't overly big, nor are they too small.
I thought this was quite nicely presented. Tofu stuffed with prawn paste and sitting on a bed of lettuce.
Chrysantheum fish. At first I thought this dish had chrysantheum in it but apparently that's the name of the fish.
Beef and beef tendon hot pot (which was slightly on the bland side).
Dad's quite taken to this place and reckons when he retires, he'll come here and eat on a daily basis. Over the course of dinner, I can't even remember how many uncles/aunts and family friends we bumped into (and it was a mix of people eating in, trying to eat in or grabbing take away) which is probably why dad's happy to spend his retirement eating here.

You'll probably find that the population dining here is your middle aged + families + the really old. Probably where it's located lends itself to this and plus it's in a suburb with a huge Asian community. Anyhow, coming back here again was a far cry from what it was back in the times and it looks like dad's made it a bit of a regular already.

belated suckling pig family do

It's become a bit of a tradition in my family that every year (usually around Chinese New Year but this year it happened late) that we have a 'Suckling Pig Family do'. As the name of the event would suggest, the get together surrounds the yummy-licious Suckling Pig which we use to get from the city but now are getting closer to home (given there are so many Chinese BBQ shops around us). Really, there's not much else to this event: it's pretty standard for there to be a lot of food (it's almost like a potluck dinner where everyone brings a dish or two along), in most cases we order some local takeaway and well, it's almost just an excuse for everyone to get together.

The highlight of the evening. There was one year where the pig had flashing bulbs on the top of its head and that freaked me out so much that I almost didn't eat any of the pig.
My aunt made some chicken as well as cheese and spinach puffs which were extremely tasty..I probably popped 3 into my mouth just before dinner My younger cousin showing of his new camera.My dad in the kitchen making his specialty fried oysters. You've got to try one of these - oysters have never tasted so good.Not so much characteristic of 'Suckling Pig Night' but rather all family get togethers is cake. There's bound to be one, if not two cakes...mmmm...

It really amazes me how food can bring people together and I'm incredibly grateful that my family has taught me how to appreciate food. Some of you may baulk at the amount of food consumed at these get togethers but I assure you, these family dos are a thing to look forward to each time and I've never had to find excuse to get out of one.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

char's engagement party

I still remember how excited I'd been when I heard that Char and her boy had gotten engaged. The first thing I did was get on the phone and had to absolutely here out the entire story (which explains why at the engagement party I won all those Easter eggs...hehe) This story was then repeated in front of almost 80 guests at their engagement party and really, I'm touched each time I hear it. If you haven't meant them already, these two are so incredibly sweet and easy to get along with - you'll just love them!

Might I say, this girl has been so incredibly organised that I know the wedding later this year is going to be superb (can't wait!!). Anyway, it was probably a whole month before the engagement party that an invite was sent around to a few of us to help with the food on the day. Yay! I was asked to bake!!

Baking in the early hours of the morning - from left to right: Mini Almond Friands, Green Tea & White Chocolate Muffins + Knackerli. Quite pleased with how everything turned out and even more pleased that the plates were cleared as soon as they hit the tables at the party.
Evidence of how organised Char is.
Across the bar bench was some trivia on the engaged couple - maybe one which I still took a stab at and got almost right, I got most of the others correct.
Quoting Kaho: 'Does my head look big in this?' Me: 'Yes it does!'
The comment.
Proudly showing off my prize easter egg.
Not quite sure what was happening here - I believe Claudia took an interest to something that was in/on Kaho's pants.
Not sure also whether the boys got up from these seats in the course of the afternoon. They claimed that they would lose their seats if they got up. With 80 people there that day, it was a tight squeeze in that pool/food room.
Amz, Char, Myself & Leo (who I haven't seen in a long long time)
Had a most enjoyable afternoon; there were lots and lots of yummy food, caught up with so many people (some who I possibly haven't seen/talked to since high school) and most of all, it was great to see Char and Albert. Wishing you two all the best!

Thursday, 10 April 2008

sydney royal easter show 2008

After much pushing and shoving (yes and that's a good solid 70+ kg worth), I managed to get J on a train and off to the Easter Show this year. He'd been asking all our friends to see who might join us and failing that, thought he would use the excuse that cause no one was going, why did we have to go? Then there were the complaints that the show was simply too expensive (mind you, I had even offered to pay for his ticket!!), there'd be too many people, it was going to rain...pretty much all the usual and to be expected excuses you would get from a guy!

And well, at the show, it was a totally different story. This guy starts eating Caramelised Macadamias...
Eats most of my waffle... I am chasing the tomato bottle for a photo (had to queue behind some little kids before it was my turn)
The food continues...a Dagwood Dog + Lemonade...
Deep Fried Cheese (so tasty and probably has about 1000 calories in it) + Dagwood dog... that was us sitting on a patch of lawn before it started to rain
Just realised I don't have a photo of the Chicken + Chips Snack Pack which followed the Dagwood Dogs + Deep Fried Cheese but here is J with his German Sausage Hot Dog (which he complained wasn't hot enough despite it being the 'hot' selection on the menu)
And to taunt me, J decides to spend a good amount of time looking at pigeons and imitating them. For the record, birds esp. pigeons really gross me out.

So from looking at photos, I can't say that J disliked the show. If anything, he enjoyed it even more than I did (well at least he ate my share of it!) I can't believe I missed the corn cobs though; was looking forward to that. Anyway, think I'll probably give the show a miss next year (it really is getting expensive and I almost baulked when J totalled the amount of money we had spent - and it wasn't as if we went on the rides or bought stacks of showbags!!)

Sunday, 6 April 2008

happy birthday justin!

J turned 23 a couple weeks back and I must say, he made quite a big deal about. From not wanting to have a 21st back in the times (reason being he couldn't be bothered/rather have a small thing with close friends), this year he set about to organise his b'day almost a month in advance. Might I add, he generated a spreadsheet of people attending, people that had replied to a complete breakdown of whether people were invited through facebook, whether people were on Optus or Voda, to a completed table with presents received (which provided a more than clear snapshot of who had come and not bought a present). He is ever the accountant.

The start to the day - J in the kitchen, his bro apparently 'helping out'.
Tossing up about 2kg worth of salad.
The theme of the party was 'clothes that don't fit you'. J opted for one of his brother's shirts which I believe has been awfully stretched out of shape. There were punishments for people that didn't bother to dress up. Photos are probably a bit too rude to put on this blog.

Me snapping away at the food. Here you have some traditional Malaysian style snacks and desserts - glutinous rice with a savoury filling wrapped in banana leaf, curry puffs and a sweet dessert called 'gwe'.
J's family have a bain marie which has been the best thing for entertaining big groups. In the six compartments were chicken curry, rice, noodles and assorted cooked dishes. See the smile on everyone's faces!
In addition to the cooked food in the bain marie, there were assorted salads, pasta bake, lasagna, and oven roasted potatoes sitting on another bench.
J and his youngest brother have birthdays just days apart. We took the opportunity to celebrate both their birthdays. Cakes are from Pastry Perfection on Mobbs Lane - my favourite was probably the Strawberry one which his younger bro had requested.The people - Pic 1.The People - Pic 2.Mario, B'day Boy & Luigi - one of my favourite photos from the night.
There were was a great turn out, plenty of laughs, more than enough food and drink, and perhaps way too many obscene photos from the night. To my knowledge, the birthday boy really enjoyed the night (the only complaint being that he ended up really hungry - cause he never got around to eating that much food). Thanks everyone for a great night and for keeping this usually 'grumpy' birthday boy in good spirits!