Sunday, 27 July 2008

i love blueberry bagels!!!

Saturday 2pm, hungry and in search of food, J&I found ourselves outside Coles at Chatswood and looking into the glass cabinets of Iconic Cafe for a bite to eat. There were assorted muffins, friands, and sandwiches (the latter being a more sensible choice of lunch) but my eyes had already scanned the items and settled on the 4 purple bagels which were sitting next to the cupcakes (which had I been more rash, would've happily settled for as food). One of those blueberry bagels please!

FYI: I am perhaps the only person who brings blueberry bagels to work and each morning that I do, I have caused a sensation in the office kitchen. If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to toast a blueberry bagel and get a waft of the lovely smells which come out of this little 'donut-looking like thing'. GJs (on the occasion) serve up a rather nice Blueberry Bagel but otherwise, I've generally settled for the ones at the supermarket (which come in a bag of 4) and are lovely for bringing to work.

Lunch @ Iconic Cafe. Arguably the best bagel I've had ever. Not only was this little thing infectiously purple in colour, it was soft in texture, sweet enough to be healthy and was great served with cream cheese and jam. Hmph....J eats half of it (despite it being my lunch).

Was going to get a coffee and noticed that they had a Green Tea Latte on their menu. Can still remember the ones I had in Japan and well 'a green tea latte for me please!!') Unfortunately, it wasn't quite the taste that I was after.

I'll return for their cupcakes and the chocolate one in particular :P J needs to learn not to eat half of what I eat (he said he already had lunch!) Another new discovery was Amos cookies next door where they were handing out free cookies and which I naturally gravitated towards once done with my latte (at which point J just laughed). J laughed even more when I complained that 'Geez, these cookies are awfully small' to which the girl handing out the cookies replied 'These are just for sampling, the ones you buy are actually bigger'. Hmph...J should also learn to stop laughing at me.

mumu grill @ alexander st., crows nest

The week had only started at work and I was already thinking about the weekend (Do weekends fly by or what?!) In an email to J on Monday, 'Let's organise dinner at Mumu Grill', J very diligently took care of the rest and organised 9 of us to have dinner at Mumu Grill on Saturday night. It was a long week's wait but Saturday finally arrived and yay, time to sit down to dinner with friends in the company of good food, wine, 'lots of hearts' on the walls (which proved a little too much for my friend C), lots of cows on the walls and the friendly team at Mumu Grill cooking up a feast for our table.

First up was Wood fired bread and dips - olive tapenade and a white bean, parsley, and parmesan tapenade. Makes for a good starter!

The wine came to the table and I forgot about photos of all our entrees! We had an assortment of tapas including the spanish olive selection (first time I've eaten that many olives and I actually quite like them!), mushrooms topped with roasted capsicum, fetta and parmesan (tad expensive but I highly recommend), and the boys went for the cured meat plate that consisted of hot salami, mild salami, bresaola, jamon serano and cornichons (I had been intrigued when I saw it on the menu but a small bite was already quite enough salami for me!)

Mains - My choice: Prime Rib crusted with Szechuan Pepper (with a Red Wine Jus on the side). You get a choie of either chips or potatoes with your meal (everyone down our end of the table opted for the chips which were lovely as they should be :P). In this photo is also the grilled goat cheese salad which we shared down our end of the table - the cheese was absolutely delicious!
J with his Aged Sirloin - Kona crusted with Papua New Guinea Kimel Coffee Bean (definitely one to try as I would've never though coffee bean could go so well with a steak!)

All the cows and Mumu hearts on the wall (there's a lot more hearts on the wall in the ladies bathroom which I thought was rather pretty but C wasn't a fan of - I admit I'm a bit of a kid and the name 'Mumu' is extremely, extremely cute!) Anyway, the table isn't all that big with the 9 of us - it was a tight squeeze with all the food that we ordered (very strangely, the waiters come by your table quite often to check how everything is but even when most of the table had already finished - and had arranged their knives and forks arranged to be collected; they still didn't collect them. C finally had to ask them to grab our plates so we could stretch out a little and have a bit more room.
A handful of coffees were ordered but looks like I was the only one keen on dessert (possibly the first thing I look at when I sit down in a restaurant and open up the menu :P). Hehe, I went for the Dessert Platter which offers a taste of all the desserts on the menu (which turned up surprisingly big). Wasn't a big fan of the sorbet (way too sour and even J, who loves sorbet, scrunched up his face a little with how sour it was). The gingerbread and mascarpone sandwich was definitely an eye opener and different to anything I've ever tried!
Dinner ended up being about $60pp which was certainly worthwhile for the quality of the food - each dish was full of flavour and unique compared your standard steakhouse (for those not keen on steak, there's also organic chicken and duck on the menu which I wouldn't mind trying!) On the whole, service is attentive but clumsy at times (the thought they knew where the plates were going and placed them in front of us but in the end most of our plates had to be swapped around.) It did however come with an apology and throughout the night, our glasses were topped up regularly and the table was wiped down after we finished which I thought was a rather nice gesture. Might I add, it was nice and warm inside compared to the chill of the night when we stepped out after our meal! Shame that only Mumu Pizza is in the Entertainment Book - Mumu Grill is part of the same restaurant!!

Sunday, 13 July 2008

fundamental fish + adriano zumbo @ darling st., balmain

Very fortunately, I found myself in Balmain the day after Adriano Zumbo launched their new cake collection (well it was either that or the Rocks Aroma Coffee Festival which well, when you put them together, doesn't make for a very hard choice). I think J was laughing on the inside because for the entire week, I'd been urging him to go to the coffee festival but when it came down the to Sunday, I opted for the trip to Balmain so we didn't have to drive as far (and yes, petrol is expensive these days!).

First up was lunch (J claimed he was hungry) but to be honest, whenever Zumbo is in sight, I could easily pass on lunch and get straight to dessert. Anyhow, I generally don't complain about food so lunch was fine (and well, our choice of lunch was close enough for my liking - just a short walk away from the doors of Zumbo).

We were looking for a place that looked nice and Fundamental Fish just happened to suit that description and to our luck also, they were in the Entertainment Book with a 25% discount. Yay! I had the salmon steak served Japanese style with soy sauce and wasabi.One of the specials on Sunday - Sword Fish Steak served over a bed of risotto.Wedges with (too little) Sweet Chilli Sauce & Sour Cream but otherwise yum.Lovely lovely macaroons - an exotic selection of flavours; Lime & Basil, Earl Grey and Rice Pudding. Each equally as nice and tasty as the other.
The selection of cakes that day - Cherry Cherry, Open Sesame, Petit St. Honore and Storm Cloud (Miss Marple is still my favourite but gone in the interim and replaced by a Miss Marple Tart which didn't look anywhere near as nice.) Boo!
Again, J had to pull me out of the store as I could've stayed there all day gushing over the cakes. I think the boy behind the counter thought I was a little crazy because a) it took me ages to decide, b) when he asked me what type of cake I liked e.g. nuts, chocolate, fruity flavoured, I responded with chocolate but then when I picked out my cakes, none of them had chocolate in them, and c) Even to the point when I was paying, I still looked like I wanted to get more cakes and wouldn't leave the store.

On the window, I saw the notice that they were looking for full time staff, I pointed and J just looked at me and shook his head and asked, 'What would you do if you worked there?.... Eat cake?' What's wrong with eating cake?

sapporo @ willoughby rd., crows nest

My friend A organised dinner for the 'gang' at Sapporo in Crows Nest (albeit another Jap restaurant to add to the list of Jap restaurants I can say I've been to now - hehe, I admit; I probably have some addiction to Jap food). It was an early dinner that night and A had taken the liberty of pre-ordering the Sumo Hot Pot for everyone which I was quite surprised, arrived just as promptly as the first 4 of us took our seats.

P, E, J & I carpooled and were the first to get there. J looks pretty tough and P looks like he's poking J with a chopstick? Anyway, there's the food that comes with the Sumo Hot Pot. I still can't quite work out what goes in the actual soup (it's almost like the soup you get when you eat Lamb Hot Pot but not quite - anyhow, it was nice and warming and great for a cold night.) Most of us at the table got ourselves a 680ml Asahi. Pour effort from me, I needed help finishing mine.
Down our end of the table, we ordered a serve of JFC (Japanese Fried Chicken) which I thought was a rather suiting name.
One very expensive and strange skewer. Chicken Skin wrapped around cloves of garlic. It wasn't bad but a rather strange dish indeed.
Given we'd booked quite late in the week and there was a Rugby game on that night which people were there at the restaurant for (basically they have projection screens both inside and outside screening the game), we were booted out of the restaurant by 7.30 (the bill came promptly as the time drew near). Next stop Chatswood for San Churros where the boys got a little silly.

Thanks to A for organising dinner and definitely a good choice!

Saturday, 12 July 2008

rolls plus @ dixon st., chinatown

Dang it! Here I am eating Jap again and I'm losing count of the number of times I tell myself to eat other things. I'm blaming it on all the Jap restaurants there are in Sydney (they just seem to grow in numbers!) and Jap food can be so tasty! Along Dixon St. (a rather new part of Chinatown), Rolls Plus very interestingly boasts 'the second best sushi rolls in Sydney'. Here's what J&I found.

With a sign saying 'second best sushi rolls in Sydney', we had to at least order one roll to check it out. I can't remember the name of this one but it was very, very average. Not much flavour to the rice (of which there was lots).
My citron tea. Love this stuff and was quite surprised to find it on the menu.
Katsu Curry. I liked this one! Not too heavy but full of flavour.
Exhausted (it was a Friday) and reluctantly posing for a photo.My order: Teriyaki Salmon with more salmon than there was rice (just the way I like it!)
So it seems that the 'second best sushi rolls in Sydney' sign was not to be trusted (I wonder where you can find the best ones?). Or maybe J&I should have taken that as a warning and not bothered with the rolls. Nonetheless, by comparison, the meals were actually quite nice and the bill at the end of the meal was more than reasonable. It did get a little toasty eating inside the restaurant (as they had the heater on) but on the whole, service was friendly, one of the chefs was cute and it was a nice place to wind down after a long week at work.

sugar magic: lesson 16

It's been a little bit of a struggle this second semester to get to class (with cold nights, rain and not being able to get out of work on time being the main contributing factors). Nonetheless, after 8 weeks, I managed to attend all classes and build, ice and decorate a cake from scratch. And allow me to boast, I reckon I did a rather good job!

The finished product. What you see is a fruit cake with layers of almond icing and fondant topped with a spray of carnations, sweet peas and magnolia buds.
The teacher complimented me on my cake and at the same time, called me daring. In all her years of cake decorating, she never considered or recommended anyone to use black ribbon. And well, my cake did stand out from the others - most of my classmates had used organza ribbon in hues of whites and pinks.If you look closely, you'll see the imperfections but at a distance, this cake looks rather darn hot! Over the 8 weeks, Margaret kept reminding us that no one really looks up close at a cake (people generally look at the whole thing so we shouldn't worry too much about the little things that people generally wouldn't notice.)
And well, now the cake's sitting at home looking way to pretty too be cut up and eaten (apparently fruit cake can last for a long time! Personally, I'm a bit skeptical of this and might I add, the amount of sugar that went into this does gross me out a little). I've been trying to convince mum to empty her glass case where she puts her crystals and vases so I can put my cake in there to display - she keeps saying no. Dad then keeps turning on the heater where I put my cake; what am I going to do with my lovely cake?

pancakes on the rocks @ darling harbour

I've noticed lately that my taste buds have changed; things that I use to love are now only merely passable, things that I wouldn't have batted an eyelid for back then are now being looked at in a completely different light. It's a little strange at times because I find myself disappointed yet at the same time amazed by the new discoveries I make - dammit I think I'm getting old!

Anyway, after Phantom of the Opera on a Saturday night (great show and highly, highly recommend people to go see - and hopefully you will have better luck and have Anthony Warlow as Phantom, although Simon Pryce makes for a good Phantom too), the 8 of us who went to the show squeezed into a booth at Pancakes on the Rocks (the one at Darling Harbour).

Strawberry Stack? (I think that's what it's called). I had a bite and found myself rather disappointed. I used to love the fluffiness of the pancakes at Pancakes on the Rocks but that one bite found these pancakes to be way to cakey and dense for my liking.
J&I with P on the side. We'd all dressed up nicely for the show :D
Across the table: K&M.
According to the menu, this was called a 'Marshmallow Cocoa'. When I said exactly this, the waiter responds with 'You want a Hot Chocolate right?' Hmm...
A funny shot. Look at K's face!!
Will possibly head back to Pancakes to use up the voucher that's in the Entertainment Book (why is it that I never have the right vouchers with me?!) and probably use it on their Beef Ribs. But yeah, looks like I've grown out of the pancakes here which is a real shame. Argh and what's with the service here? All our meals came before our drinks and it took (what seemed like) forever to get some water to our table...tsk tsk...

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

meat & wine co. @ darling harbour

A couple of weeks back, 8 of us were at dinner @ Meat & Wine Co. (just next to the Imax Theatre at Darling Harbour and only a short walk away to the show we were going to later that night). I've been here a handful of times now and food here has been consistently good and I would highly recommend as a place for group dinners. Some snaps from the night:

E wanted the Haloumi which turned out a little too small to share (but was nonetheless fantastic - the first time I've tasted haloumi!)
Mixed bread platter with more than enough slices of garlic bread, herb bread and bruschetta to go around the table.
J reckons he looks good in this photo!
My dinner: 300g rump with peppercorn sauce. Of the sauces they have here, peppercorn is probably my favourite followed by Vodka & Blue Cheese.
J's 500g Waqyu with Portugese Sauce (which reminded me a lot of Oporto's). Personally, for the price you pay, I think the Rump is a more decent feed.
Salt grinder malfunction - the whole container of salt crystals comes tumbling down onto E's plate! It did however season the rather bland salad they use to dress the plates.
With 2 bottles of wine for the table, it ended up being a rather pricey meal @ $60pp. There was no time for dessert as after dinner, it was a mad dash to get over to the Lyric Theatre. It's a shame though...looks like they no longer have the Chai Creme Brulee which had been terrific the last time I had it there. place they have just a Plain Vanilla Creme Brulee!

Monday, 7 July 2008

pepper lunch @ george st., city

Another Thursday night, another late night at work for both J&I meant another Jap dinner in the city (I know - I said I would eat other things but again we headed up to Din Tai Fung; and this time we didn't even need to walk up close to the restaurant to know that the same queue was there and wasn't going to go away anytime soon). This time we went across the road from World Square to check out Pepper Lunch (which we'd heard a number of positive reviews).

How best to describe Pepper Launch - it's more or less Japanese fast food. Within minutes of ordering, J's order comes out on a sizzling hot plate. Instructions are printed on the side of the paper which surrounds the hot plate telling you how best to enjoy your meal.
My Unagi Rice. I preferred this one over J's order which ended up being bland and tasting like cooked pieces of meat. Anyway, apparently in the middle of the rice I had is a lump of butter which they encourage you to mix through when your meal gets to your table. I couldn't really taste the difference but nonetheless, the unagi is definitely a good choice if you are visiting this place for the first time.
The meals come with soft drink which go rather well with food served on a hot plate. J looks funny in this photo - almost like he's posing :D
Surprisingly, walking out of the restaurant, you don't end up smelling too much like your meal. To be honest, we both weren't that full after our respective meals and J had contemplated a KFC 2 piece feed just up the road. Price is reasonable @$15 per person that night. On the whole an interesting concept, food gets served quickly but probably not enough to draw me back in.