Monday, June 30, 2008

Dinner at Ocean Room, Circular Quay

We celebrated bf’s b’day at Ocean Room, by the water. I was tossing up between it and Raita Noda’s other restaurant, Rise in Darlinghurst, and Ocean Room won mainly because it was easier for us to get to, and we were there last year and had a wonderful meal, so…

And same as last year, we both had Raita’s Tasting Menu ($90) which is made up of a selection of 8 dishes from the current menu. I love tasting menus because I usually get bored with a large main after a few bites, so tasting plates are a fab way to try all the best things on the menu. Raita Noda didn’t appear to be in the kitchen on Saturday night, but the food was fantastic anyway.

We started with oysters, with the Merimbula ones being my favourite, their freshness and large size just bursting with flavour.
Next came sardines on toast, topped with an amazing tangy tomato sorbet. It was tongue-tingling cold, as a sorbet is, and just so surprising; it was the best.

Then arrived a taco, though much better than any others I’ve ever had. There was a seafood theme on the night, and the taco contained soft shell crab, and was accompanied by a prawn with wasabi sauce and a little potato ball. One (little) gripe, if I may: the lighting at Ocean Room is really dim, making it difficult to see in front of your nose, let alone the plate. I’m not sure if the chefs realise that the effort they probably put into the presentation may be lost on their diners…? (That’s the reason the photos are with a flash). And I do like to see what I’m eating.

The next dish, ocean trout, was beautifully fresh and melt in the mouth, as was the sushi/sashimi (the tuna was especially ‘oooohhh, you have to taste this’).

By this time, I was starting to flag, so I gave some of my grilled tuna to bf, who happily scoffed it. A caponata that came with the tuna was definitely scoffed by me, though.

Then, just as I couldn’t eat another bite (except for dessert), comes a Wagyu meat pie, which the waitress said she’d never seen on the tasting menu before. The meat was really tender, but, sorry, I couldn’t do it justice.

Of the desserts, my fave was the passionfruit and coconut mousse cake, because it was refreshing after the large meal. And we both enjoyed the choc-coated honeycomb.

I really adore Ocean Room: apart from the food, the waitstaff were friendly, efficient and helpful. We had 8 courses and they all came out of the kitchen without any delay. I can’t wait to go to Rise next…maybe for my birthday (hint, hint).



Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Thai green chicken curry (spicy!)

Recipe time!

This is for a Thai green curry with chicken. The recipe was originally for 4, but I’ve halved it for a cosy 2. And having made a similar recipe before, I can vouch that the heat in the curry depends on the type of curry paste you use (assuming that you use a pre-made packet one like me!). For this one, I used Trident’s green curry paste, and it is very hot. There was another (real Thai) one at the shop last time that was fantastic but it’s not there anymore (darn) and I can’t remember its name (double darn!).

Thai Green Chicken Curry
(serves 2)

Ingredients

1 tbls vegetable oil
25g green curry paste
2 chicken thigh fillets, cubed
200ml light coconut milk
1 tbls fish sauce
1 tbls lemon juice
½ tbls brown sugar
20 snow peas, sliced
Steamed rice, to serve

Method
1. Heat oil in wok over medium heat and fry the green curry paste for about 1 minute.
2. Add chicken and stir fry until sealed.
3. Add coconut milk, fish sauce, lemon juice and sugar.
4. Bring mixture to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minute.
5. Add snow peas and simmer further 3-4 mins.
6. Serve with steamed rice.



Saturday, June 21, 2008

How healthy is this?

For a change of pace (and healthier to boot), I tried the spelt loaf from Adriano Zumbo. Spelt is a grain that is high in protein but easy to digest. It may also be suitable if you have a wheat intolerance.

Its taste is reminiscent of old-fashioned brown bread (remember school day tuckshops with your friend’s mum on duty?) and it tastes fantastically good – here, it is sliced not-too-thickly for maximum chewability.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Don’t try to say it, just point to it

Just try to pronounce ‘sfogliadelle’ through a mouthful of the said pastry. Suh-fog-leeah-dell-a. It’s not that hard to say, but it’s pretty hard to chew. Sfogliadelle is a pastry that looks like a clamshell, and it’s made from pasta sheets, which gives it some ‘tooth’ (just be careful not to break a molar on it). The filling is orangey custard with bits of orange peel. I’m not a fan of citrus, so for me, I’d stick with the zuccerati for now.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A polite yum cha establishment

At the shopping mecca that is Westfield Bondi Junction, sits a yum cha palace much like many others in Sydney – you have to get there early (before 12pm) if you want a table on weekends, the d├ęcor is rosewood and silk embroidery, and there are some really polite trolley ladies. Wait, did I say polite?

Yes, at Kam Fook at WBJ, the trolley girls always say ‘Excuse me, har gau, sui mai?’ or ‘Hello, would you like to try the ?’. Normally, at other places, they just bark ‘Anything else?’. It is so refined and, well, nice. And the food isn’t bad either.


And completely randomly, has anyone noticed the great divide that is Bronte Rd in Bondi Junction? We wandered into the Eastgate complex last time and it’s like a different world. WBJ is full of glam tanned young things in minis and Havianas, and Eastgate is sort of … the opposite. But it does have Kmart.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Spending on the weekend

The Craft and Quilt Fair is in town (well, it finished today)! I haven’t been for years, because last time, the bf said that it was the most worthless 1 hour he’d ever spent (or words to that effect). This year, however, we decided to have another go at it, and I’m glad I did. Normally, I just whiz through the exhibits going ho-hum, more stalls selling beads, thread, sewing machines and mysterious things I don’t know what to do with. But this year, with my newfound interest in stamping and scrapbooking, I was looking at things with new eyes – a set of ‘what can I buy, what can I buy’ eyes, that is.

So, yes, I did buy lots, and it’s all good stuff. Can’t wait to get craftily inspired, but in the meantime, I can just sit and stroke my new pretties.


With the AUD doing pretty well against all major currencies, it means that online shopping (ie. spending) is also the way to go. So, to allow me to use my Cuttlebug more often, here are some embossing folders and die cuts I bought from the US. And a Crop-a-dile, of course – just love the purple handle and storage case!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Put the kettle on for some tea…cake

Here is a recipe for a teacake from Karen Martini (ubiquitous TV and cookbook ‘celebrity’). I’ve never made anything of hers before, and had heard some conflicting views on her recipes, but this one turned out quite well.

Some observations: the cake mix to apple ratio seems quite low (ie. too much fruit, too little flour), but it does balance out in the cake tin. Also, instead of the traditional method of creaming the butter and sugar, the recipe calls for mixing in a food processor. Now, I don’t have a food processor, only a stick mixer with bowl attachment, so I mixed the butter and sugar and then transferred it to a larger bowl to add the flour by hand. The resulting mix is very dense and not as light as creaming with a mixer. Not a problem, though, because the apple makes the cake really moist anyway.

The final result is quite delicious, perfect with a cuppa for afternoon tea.


Apple and Sultana Teacake

4 apples, peeled, cored and finely diced (I used 3 medium granny smith apples, and it was plenty)
¼ cup sultanas
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp brown sugar
½ lemon, juiced
140g butter
140g raw sugar
2 large eggs
140g plain flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp brown sugar


Method

Preheat oven to 180 deg C (fanforced) or 200 deg C (conventional).
Combine apples, sultanas, cinnamon, brown sugar and lemon juice in bowl. Stir and set aside.
Place butter and raw sugar in a food processor and process until well combined.
Add eggs one at a time and whiz until combined.
Sift flour and baking powder together in a bowl.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture and whiz until smooth.
Spread half the cake mix in the base of a lined loaf pan (I used a 10 x 23cm tin).
Top with half the apple mix.
Spoon over the remaining cake mix and top with the remaining apple mix.
Sprinkle with brown sugar and bake for 60 mins or until cooked (the top may burn, so I took it out after 50 mins and it was already cooked).
Cook for a few minutes in tin before turning out and eating warm (yum!)

Adapted from Karen Martini’s recipe in Sunday Life magazine.





It's an honour just to be nominated!

The lovely not quite Nigella has kindly awarded me with an Arte y pico, which is the extravagant sculpture on the right! I was very amazed and pleased when I found out, what an honour!

The background and rules of the award are:

1) You have to pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award, for creativity, design, interesting material, and also contributes to the blogger community, no matter of language.
2) Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.
3) Each award-winning blog has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.
4) Award-winners and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of
Arte y pico blog , so everyone will know the origin of this award.
5) To show these rules.

I will come up with my 5 awardees shortly…there are so many inspiring blogs out there…

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Red means good luck!

This is a card I made for my aunt’s tai chi teacher, who is turning eighty-something. I ran the red paper through the Cuttlebug using my one and only embossing folder, Bloom Dots (I noticed that paper can crinkle a bit whereas cardstock works better).

Inside the card are a couple of Chinese characters, for Longevity and Prosperity, stamped on gold paper and cut into circles and tied with red ribbon. The card is quite large, by the way (A4) because it is to be signed by all the teacher’s students.



Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Yum cha at Sky Phoenix Skygarden

I regularly visit Sky Phoenix in the Skygarden building for yum cha because it is conveniently located in the centre of town, and you don’t usually have to wait for a table, something that really urks me about the yum cha places in Chinatown.
Sky Phoenix went through a mediocre phase a few months ago, but now the food is above par again and the service is good – quick and friendly, so it leaves more time for shopping!

Here are some photos of the yummy food – the duck dumplings were particularly good and a novelty because I’d never had them before. The other dishes are our 'usual', things we always order. And we only had mango pancakes (best in Sydney) for dessert, not the whole trolley!





Monday, June 2, 2008

Spicy (sub-continental) pasta

Don’t you just love haloumi cheese? I do – there’s something about the salty squeakiness that makes it too delicious. And speaking of delicious, I found this recipe in an old issue of delicious magazine.
It is an unusual combination, the Indian-style spices with haloumi and pasta. I added some zucchini because I wanted more vegetables in the dish, and also increased the amount of chilli, mainly because I don’t like coriander, so didn’t put it in. And I didn't have the curry leaves, either, but it still tasted great.

Here is the recipe.

Spicy Haloumi Pasta

Ingredients (serves 4)
400g haloumi cheese
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp garam masala*
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 onion, halved, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
10 fresh curry leaves*
400g can chopped tomatoes
1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
300g cooked spiral pasta
3 tbs chopped coriander
Naan bread and mango chutney, to serve

Method
1. Cut the haloumi into 1cm cubes. Toss in 1 tablespoon oil and all the dry spices.
2. Heat the remaining oil in a large frypan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until softened. Add the haloumi and curry leaves, and cook until haloumi is golden. Add the tomato and chilli flakes, then bring to the boil. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the pasta and cook until heated through.
3. Remove from the heat and stir through the coriander. Divide among bowls and serve with naan and chutney.


Recipe from delicious. June 2006




Sunday, June 1, 2008

Cat amongst the …plates

At Adriano Zumbo’s getting my usual Saturday order of chorizo bread and almond croissant, when I noticed that the macarons were looking much larger than usual. So obviously I had to get a couple, for research purposes, of course.

The flavours here are peanut butter, passionfruit and yoghurt, and mandarin.
Tried the passionfruit one first. It was absolutely gorgeous (see, that adjective doesn’t only apply to scrapbooking supplies). The soft bits of the macaron were so tangy with passionfruit flavour, and the filling had that tart hint of yoghurt. My favourite.





I thought I’d take a glamour shot of the macaron with my yellow teacup and saucer. So I got it out of the cupboard but accidentally left the cupboard door open. I didn’t notice till about 10 seconds later, after I took the photo, that Tabby had secreted herself in the cupboard, right amongst my nice *clean* crockery. Eeeek!

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