Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rising Sun - in Beverly Hills 2209

Another Sunday night, another family dinner in salubrious Beverly Hills 2209.

Rising Sun Chinese Seafood Restaurant is one of my uncle's favourites. It's not much to look at, but it's never been featured on the NSW Health Authority's name and shame file (yet). Most importantly, the food is great, traditional Cantonese, it's efficient and crowded and everyone seems to enjoy themselves.

And it has those teapots that are seen around Sydney's Chinese restaurants, with the address of some place on the Hume Highway in Yagoona... I can report that it is an advertisement for some furniture place. What an anti-climax!

To celebrate uncle and aunt's return from HK, we had Peking duck and crab. The sharks' fin soup is a specialty here, and it's popular because it's relatively cheap (a couple of dollars per bowl?). I'm not usually a crab eater (occasion allergies), so I stuck with the vermicelli, which was soft, rich and hinted slightly of crab.

Overall, it was a dependably good meal. Rising Sun faces competition from Yummy Seafood Restaurant, which is directly across the road. I prefer Yummy's atmosphere (cleaner, more spacious), but food-wise, they are pretty similar. Both are worth trying. Is that being too wishy-washy?
Outside of the restaurant; inside the restaurant, with Hong Kong cable channel, red menus on the wall

Famous teapots; shark's fin soup

Peking duck pancakes (1st course); sang choi bau (2nd course)

Honey pepper beef (yum); braised tofu with prawn

Crab hotpot with vermicelli

Complimentary red bean soup and orange slices (and final shot of those teapots)

Rising Sun Chinese Seafood Restaurant is on King Georges Rd, Beverly Hills (corner of Stoney Creek Rd)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Trash or treasure?

Rozelle Markets is considered to be a must-visit if you love fossicking amongst piles of stuff, where one woman's trash is another woman's unbelievable, vintage, OMG, can't get that on Ebay find. So, every couple of weeks, I make the trek to see what I can suss out.

But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself...

On a crisp Autumn day, we walked up Darling St from Balmain, towards Rozelle. Our first stop was the cluster of shops opposite the Cat and Fiddle Hotel, near Teriyaki Boy and Samurai restaurants (no food today, though, they weren’t open yet). There are a couple of homewares stores here, including Vivalino and Lola et Moi. It was at the latter that I spied some cute coasters, made of mousemat material and with an adorable print of quirky little girls and animals. Bf was kind enough to get me 2 sets. Lola et Moi is a French-inspired shop that’s full of delicate jewellery, baby clothes, plates and the like. I love its airy decor and modern, covetable collections.

Next door is Quintessential duckeggblue, sort of an antiques store, but different, better. They had an amazing old Metters metal cabinet on display, a huge circular contraption, covered with drawers labelled, ‘Towels’, ‘Sugar’, ‘Spices’, and the like. There was even an old shilling coin embedded in the top. I wish I had a house that I could fill with the tables, chairs and wares from this shop – it was all beautiful, and with a ‘history’ behind it that you could sense from touching the scratched surfaces and mellow patinas.

Window display at Quintessential duckeggblue; cute coasters pour moi, from Lola et Moi
A few minutes up the road and we arrived at Rozelle Markets. It’s a jumble of stalls containing clothing, old junk (a rusty Beta VCR, anyone?), plants and food. I usually get an obligatory gozleme from the stall here. Today, I got some colourful felt brooches, made in Nepal.
So how do you tell if something is trash or treasure? Don’t know – it’s all in the eye of the beholder (or stallholder)!
On the way home, we stopped at About Life to pick up some stuff for dinner (roast beef and salad). I also got a bottle of rosewater because I liked the label. What I did with the rosewater is a story for another day...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Full House - and not that 70s/80s show

A late start on Anzac Day meant that our plans for yum cha were thwarted - the parade was still on, but the yum cha places in Chinatown and the CBD were already packed. Feeling a bit faint (no breakfast - big mistake!), we made a beeline for the nearest eatery - Full House Japanese and Korean 'fusion' restaurant.

I've been here for lunch, and it's really busy, being in the midst of the office towers of Pitt St. It is located opposite the Arthouse Hotel, upstairs in a quite dingy courtyard (stuck in the 1970s). Its neighbours include Peking VIP restaurant and Han Cook Korean.

We had some of the lunch sets, good value at around $9.90 to $12.90. We also had a plate of sashimi, though we ordered sushi and they brought the wrong dish. It was okay regardless.

The bibimbap in hotpot was a large bowl of rice filled with beef and veges - a bit light on the beef, according to bf, who is a committed carnivore. He also complained that the veges weren't picked as advertised, but it looked alright to me...

I had the tempura bento, and it was lovely, with the nice surprise addition of a piece of agedashi tofu, my favourite!

The sashimi (supposed to be sushi) was okay, reasonably fresh, and a large serve given the $13.50 price tag...

The complimentary side dishes included a whiteish seaweed covered in flavourless salad cream. Interesting texture that was crunchy and smooth. The waitress described it as 'seafood' which confused us at first, until we heard another waitress call it 'seaweed'. Ah, makes sense now...

It was pleasant sitting out on the balcony, being serenaded by the hits of Michael Jackson from the restaurant speakers and also by the sound of bagpipes from the Anzac parade.

Full House is a place to remember when you want a quick, simple, 'fusion' meal away from the hubbub of the city.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hello Cookie: ANZAC biscuits

ANZAC biscuits are traditionally baked and eaten to commemorate ANZAC Day (April 25th), a day which honours Australians and New Zealanders who have served in wars since World War I.

Anzacs are characterised by their oat-filled goodness and long shelf life, due to their lack of perishables such as eggs. Golden syrup is a key ingredient, although I admit that I’ve always used honey up till now, and it tastes the same. This recipe is one from my school days (ahem, do they even teach Cooking at school anymore?).

And though I’ve included them in my Hello Cookie project, please remember that these are Biscuits, not cookies!

ANZAC Biscuits

makes about 35

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1 cup sugar
¾ cup desiccated coconut
125g butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons boiling water

1. Combine oats, sifted flour, sugar and coconut.
2. Melt butter and golden syrup in saucepan over gentle heat.
3. Mix baking soda with boiling water in a cup and add to melted butter mixture. Stir into dry ingredients
4. Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls and place on baking sheets lined with paper. Flatten slightly with your hand. Allow room for spreading
5. Bake in 160 deg C oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
6. Cool on trays for 5 mins, then transfer to wire racks.

Ingredients; mix melted butter/baking soda into flour, oats, coconut; mix

Roll mixture into balls (flatten them a bit if you like); then bake

ANZAC biscuits keep for ages (3 weeks?) ...if you can wait that long!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Did you know - Cats like grass!

Dogs and cats like to munch on grass because it helps their digestion. Tabitha cat usually mopes around the neighbourhood gardens looking for her fix. So while at the Eveleigh markets last weekend, I picked up some cat grass for her. I found out from Dr Harry (the vet on Better Homes and Gardens) that cats like it.

And did she love it? Oh yes! The grass is now quite nibbled. I will probably have to re-pot it soon. And maybe get some catnip for her as well. Good girl, Tabi!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Wontons and noodles - a simple meal

What do you do when you have a mother who thinks you don't eat enough and is constantly pushing packages of food onto you? Little does she know that I eat quite a lot, thank you very much!

Anyway, my mum makes great wontons, so I wasn't going to say no to a couple of boxes of frozen wontons. They freeze well and are just the thing when you want to eat something simple without too much effort.

These wontons have a soft, silky wrapper and contain chicken, dried shrimp, dried mushrooms and spring onions. I cooked them in boiling water (till they rise to the surface, then for another 2 minutes or so). They are served with soba noodles in a soy-based stock, although I prefer ramen noodles but didn't have any on hand at the time.

Best dinner, ever!
Frozen wontons about to meet boiling water; great noodles in packet; free at last!

Floating wontons + noodles in soup = perfect dinner!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

You call that a scrapbook page?

I've been a bit slack on the craft front lately (though it hasn't stopped me from buying craft supplies). I did manage to put my phone boxes photo onto a small 'page', though.

The actual phone box in the picture below is from Hamleys toy emporium in London. I also have a red bus and a London taxi ...

Supplies: Patterned paper - Basic Grey, Bella Blvd (tree), KI Memories (lace).
Transparency - Hambly. Stamps: Stampin' Up!. Velvet flock - Doodlebug.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Real Italians in Balmain

A couple of years ago, I was walking past an empty shopfront in Castlereagh St in the city. There were two guys standing there and one said to the other, "I want to have a proper cafe here, run by real Italians". At the time, I wondered what 'real Italians' were, as opposed to, say, unreal ones. Obviously, the cafe never eventuated because it is now the site of the Faberge workshop. Maybe he couldn't find any real Italians to run it.

Anway, and this is where I'm heading... an Italian restaurant has opened in Balmain, on the site of a previous Italian restaurant. Fico Ristorante is run by the same owners as another restaurant in Five Dock, and they have the 'real Italian' thing down pat.

The restaurant takes advantage of the woodfired pizza oven that serviced the previous restaurant (Il Cortile) and the menu is fairly traditional with set sauces for each pasta, and 'no variations' on the pizzas. Excuse the fuzzy photos, it was pretty dark in there.

We started with fried zucchini flowers ($19) and beef carpaccio ($20) that was so thin and so soft that you didn't have to chew it.
Fiori - crusted zucchini flowers, anchovies, fior di latte, tomato and basil marmalade;
Carpaccio - thinly sliced beef, cherry tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, olive oil

For mains, I had pappardelle with veal osso buco ($24) - melt in the mouth dreamy - while bf had Anatra duck ($34) with cannellini beans and cherries, which were an unusual taste combination.

Pappardelle - with slow-braised veal osso buco, white wine, parmesan, herbs
Anatra - Slow-braised duck, spinach, cannellini beans, chilli-liqueur cherry
We finished with a long black for me ($4) and bf had Crespella ($14).

Crespella - crepe with white chocolate, coconut semifreddo, caramelised banana
Long black
All up, the meal was great, though in the upper price range for this type of food.
They also do takeaway pizzas, which look good, judging by what was coming out of the pizza oven. And note the 'Real Italian Pizza' on the menu on the wall...!
Fico Ristorante is at 342 Darling St, Balmain, NSW.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

When the country comes to the city...

The Royal Easter Show brings out the child in all of us, and this year was no exception as we braved threatening storm clouds for the thrill of showbags, farmyard nurseries, rides and Dagwood Dogs.

This is what we encountered on our fun day at the Show.

Kids' Carnival

Showbags on sale for the unwary; crowds galore; colourful rides

The Animals

Aww, an alpaca; cows -look out for cowpats; pony ride; Siberian Husky; Clydesdales
Sideshow Alley
Vintage posters; a couple of freaks; giant slide
District displays
Spectacular displays of fruit and veg from the pride of the land

The Food Dome
Wares from My Little Cupcake; fruit from Woolies; choc-dipped fruit;
had kransky in a roll for lunch, with sauerkraut; corn about to be roasted on a stick

Cake Decorating
Aren't they spectacular?

Preserves and Cakes

Preserves in jars; cakes on shelves; light fruitcake winner; panforte winner; onya, Lyall

Should have got the Hello Kitty bag for the umbrella - it pelted down as we left the showbag pavilion

The Rides!
Did not go on these rides - too wet (and too chicken)!
Summary: A FUN day was had by all. The Easter Show never changes, and that's what I love about it!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Velvet and embossed wedding card

One of my cousins is getting married in a couple of weeks, and this is a card I made for her wedding.

In the tradition of most weddings these days, a wishing well is going to be made available at the reception so that contributions to the honeymoon can be made. So, I've included a place for the money envelope inside the card.
The bronze embossing on the righthand side of the front of the card is done with the Cuttlebug 'Texture' folder - so pretty!

Supplies: Velvet paper: Doodlebug Designs. Stamp: Hero Arts.
Ribbon, scallop and circle punches: Stampin' Up!. Rub-ons: American Crafts. Cardstock: Bazzil

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Northern Exposure: Sushi and a taxi ride

As a Sydney CBD habitue, I feel a bit lost outside of my preferred environment. So, a stint in the civilised wilds of North Sydney meant a change of pace and a longer commute. And a chance to discover the lunch spots of the northern metropolis.

Inside Greenwood Plaza (opposite the train station), is a clean and modern food court. There's a choice of some good cafes and takeaway outlets, and (drumroll) the Little Tokyo Sushi Bar. There is a takeaway counter at the front, and a well-stocked sushi train at the back.

The staff are friendly and efficient, and the sushi chefs are great to watch as they roll and cut the sushi treats. We ate at the sushi train, and the sushi and sashimi was very fresh, nicely prepared, and best of all, they kept it coming - nothing worse than a sparse sushi train.

Standout dishes included the grilled salmon sushi, salmon sashimi, and the crab claws (some of the better ones I've had, because it was all crab, not some scungey prawny filler).

The dishes are reasonably priced, with only 3 price points ($2.80, $3.40 and $4.50). As usual, most of the dishes we had were the pricey black-plated ones, but it was worth it.

I still have another week in Nth Sydney and am looking forward to trying some of the other places. Thanks for your recommendations.

Travelling across the Harbour Bridge is a bit of a novelty for me, hence the picture-taking from the taxi back to the city.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Hello Cookie: Espresso Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Don’t you just love the internet? I do, because:
- You can find out the name of that actor in that movie who looks really familiar but whom you just can’t place.
-You can google ‘fabulous cookie recipe’ and get 245,000 responses.
-You can use the word ‘google’ as a verb without being torn apart by the grammar police.

For my latest Hello Cookie project, I thought I’d take a break from the ‘Field Guide to Cookies’, and see what other goodies were out there. And what did I find but ‘Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies’, courtesy of
smittenkitchen, via Dorie Greenspan.

The other good thing about the internet is being able to see other people’s opinions on things, and this cookie recipe has had a lot of feedback, mostly good, some a bit negative. My thoughts (warning: opinion coming up) is that it’s pretty good, though not quite deserving of the rave reviews that some have given it.

The cookie is more of a cookie than a shortbread, and it’s crap full of butter – normally not a bad thing, but I found it a bit greasy in the mouth. Tastewise, it has a subtle coffee flavour that is unusual but tasty. I used a block of Lindt dark Coffee Intense chocolate to boost the flavour and it turned out well. And rolling out the dough in a plastic bag before cutting it is a great idea. And yes, I did use a ruler, though I think cutting the squares smaller than the 1.5 inches (3.5 cm) would be better, given the richness of the cookie. Come to think of it, maybe some more flour would help the richness; these
lemon craisin cookies use the same amount of butter with rice flour and cornflour and they are feel less ‘fatty’.

Anyway, here is the recipe, with my metric adjustments in brackets.

Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Makes 32 cookies


1 tablespoon instant espresso powder (I used strong ground coffee)
1 tablespoon boiling water
2 sticks/8 ounces (250 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ (icing) sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
4 ounces (125 grams) bittersweet chocolate (plain, or a coffee variety), finely chopped, or ¾ cup store-bought mini chocolate chips


1. Dissolve the espresso in the boiling water, and set aside to cool to tepid.

2. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla and espresso, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chopped chocolate with a sturdy rubber spatula.

3. Using the spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a large ziploc plastic bag (or freezer bag). Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 ½ inch (23 x 26.5 cm) rectangle that’s ¼ inch (0.5 cm) thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.

4. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 deg C). Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

5. Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 ½ inch (3.5 cm) squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet.

6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale–they shouldn’t take on much colour. Transfer the cookies to a rack.

7. If you’d like, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving.

Recipe adapted from

Mixing in the chopped chocolate

Roll out the dough in a plastic bag, then chill; measure out the squares of dough before cutting

1.5 inch squares, ready for baking

Scrummy espresso chocolate shortbread cookies (perfectly square)