Thursday, October 30, 2008

...was it worth the wait?

Dratted work commitments meant being unable to be in a last minute visit to the Zumbo Café Chocolat with chocolatesuze and bowb. So I made up for it with a quick ram raid just before the café closed on its first day of trading.

It is a little jewel box of wonderfulness! A glass case of chocolate treasures and a blackboard of yummy drinks (that will have to wait till next time). Of course, I came away with a box of goodies, courtesy of bf. The rotten egg chocolate has a centre of tangy jelly surrounded by rice crispies embedded in chocolate.

I can’t wait to go back to sit in the parlour under the chandelier, or at a spindly table in the courtyard, and sip a tasse of tea. The bf suggested to the nice countergirl that a liquor licence is in order and she agreed that Adriano’s cocktail creations would be pretty good. Isn’t that something to look forward to?

Zumbo Chocolate Cafe is Open

The cafe is finally open. There is a courtyard area where you can sip coffee by Little Marionette and tasty tea from Elmstock. There's also a fantastic chocolate collection, including a 'Fried Egg' chocolate with white chocolate surrounding a yellow 'yolk'.

Can't wait to visit again to get some photos.
Bye till then...

PS: Adriano Zumbo Café Chocolat is at 308 Darling St, Balmain (inside Balmain Mall)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

One weekend, 3 festivals, 2 cards

In the space of this weekend, I did 2 loads of washing, semi-cleaned the house, made 2 dinners, visited 3 festivals, and made 2 cards.

On Saturday, we went to the Nicholson St Public School Halloween festival, which was filled with creepy vampires and skeletons in trees. And also lots of children dressed as witches .
On Sunday, it was off to the Norton St Festa in Leichhardt, which had lots of cute Fiat cars and coffee stalls. The fine weather really brought out the crowds who were appreciative of the Italian cooking and concert in the Pioneer Memorial Park.
Then, it was off by bus and train and mini-bus to the Danks St Festival in Waterloo. This had lots of dogs and art galleries, topped of by long queues at the many food stalls (I ate a great lamb souvlaki followed by a palmier and a bit of blood orange meringue). It also had a mini design mart that sold textiles, jewellery and artworks. By the end of it, my feet were killing me.

So where are the photos, you ask. Well, I accidentally deleted them from my camera card before I copied them to the computer. D'oh!!!!

In order to keep the post colourful, here are the cards I made. They were made at the request of my aunt, to give to a friend celebrating a birthday, and for a couple who are having their 50th wedding anniversary.

The birthday card features a Stampin' Up stamp in Real Red ink (it worked real well on the Whisper White card), and lace cardstock.
The anniversary card has a 'medallion' made from about 8 layers of ink, gold embossing powder and heat embossing that was then stamped with a double happiness stamp. And good ol' cuttlebug Swiss Dots on the red cardstock.

Hopefully next weekend is as productive. And hopefully I won't accidentally delete evidence of it!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A mythical Macaron update

Here are some more Zumbo macarons while we wait for the chocolate cafe to open.

The fave raspberry and lychee, and passionfruit are still magnificent, while the hitherto untried citron and peach and apricot are sweetly fragrant.

There has been some debate about how ‘real’ the raspberry and lychee macarons are, ie. do they actually exist? Well, if they don’t, what have I been eating? Granted, just because the counterstaff at Zumbo tell you they’re raspberry and lychee doesn’t necessarily mean that they are, does it? But I do think that they are raspberry rather than rose because they are a deeper pink than the rose ones. ***End of in-depth analysis ***

Tabitha is sunning herself in the backyard, oblivious to the anguish of her mistress who is waiting for the cafe to open so she can get more mythical macarons.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Zumbo chocolate cafe update!

The signage is up at the cafe site, but it doesn't look ready yet. Still some fittings, mirrors, etc. in packaging on the floor. Fingers crossed for a weekend visit...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What I ate last week

Ali Edwards Creative has introduced a craft project where you take photos of your life for a week and then scrapbook them. Great, I thought, that’s just the kickstart I need to get my scrapbooking going again. Well, that was the idea.

It was about the 2nd day that I realised that i) nothing much is happening this week, and ii) gosh, this is such a boring week! Essentially, my week consisted of getting up, going to work, having lunch, going home, having dinner, going to bed, and so on and so on.

So my photos last week were not very interesting and I have yet to scrapbook anything. So I’ve decided to highlight the highlight of that week (and most other weeks), ie. What I Had For Lunch.

The week started on Sunday, when I got a tasty sausage roll from Simmone Logue. We went to Adriano Zumbo first, but they had sold out, and SL’s ones are better, in my opinion. It was delicious, and I’m sure I had several neighbourhood dogs following me down the street as I carried the sausage roll home. Then, the bf, who knows that I am partial to a good finger bun, got me one from Baker’s Delight. It was awful. Lurid pink icing that smelled of bubblegum and a flaccid white roll that was dry and tasteless.

On Monday, I had a chicken Caesar salad from the chicken place at the MLC foodcourt. Nice and fresh.
Tuesday was lunch at harbourkitchen where I had goat ragout with stracci. Perfection.

On Wednesday, I went to Officeworks, and when I came out, what did I see across the road but
Bertoni’s Clarence St offshoot. The service there is just as charming as the Balmain branch. The mortadella roll was delicious, with lovely bread wrapped around tasty mortadella, cheese and capsicum slices.

Thursday saw me at MLC again, this time with the excellent roast beef on Turkish bread from Zupano. I could eat this every day.

Friday was so busy that I didn’t have time for lunch. So at 3.30pm, I went for a muffin at the café downstairs from work. It was almost as appalling as the Sunday finger bun. The muffin was dry and had an unpleasant odour of banana oil (if there is any such thing).

To wipe out the memory of it, I stopped by at Simmone Logue on the way home because Friday night is chicken schnitzel night. SL does a really good schnitzel, accompanied by salty roast potatoes. I got a serve with roast veges as well, and they were pretty good too. Add a Daim bar for dessert and it was a nice end to the week.

So that was my week in food. Hopefully next week will be more interesting so I can start documenting My Life That Is Not So Boring.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Do I need another tea towel?

This is not an ad for a magazine! However, I am a bit of a mag hag (fash mags, cooking mags, home mags, scrapbook mags), and this issue of Donna Hay (Oct/Nov 2008) comes with a rather nice tea towel and a 2009 calendar. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve bought a magazine because it had free sticky notes, magazine holder, eco bag, tea towel, t-shirt, sunglasses or umbrella attached to it…

This copy of Donna Hay has a feature on risoni, a rice-shaped pasta. I’ve always wanted to try it, and there are a couple of tasty-sounding recipes. I’ve adapted one for a risoni salad by adding some chorizo, as I had one (ie. chorizo) in the fridge, and some cherry tomatoes.

Chorizo and zucchini risoni salad
Serves 2-3


1 cup (220g) risoni
2 tbls olive oil
2 small zucchini, sliced
1 chorizo, sliced
8 cherry tomatoes, sliced

Red wine vinegar dressing
2 tbls olive oil
¼ cup (60ml) red wine vinegar
Salt and black pepper


To make the red wine vinegar dressing, whisk together the oil, vinegar and salt and pepper.
Cook risoni in a saucepan of salted boiling water for 8-10 minutes until al dente. Drain the risoni (use a colander with small holes, or a sieve).

Meanwhile, heat oil in a frying pan over high heat and add chorizo. Cook until slightly brown, turning to cook each side.
Add zucchini and cherry tomatoes, and cook for about 3 minutes until softened.
Add risoni and dressing and toss to combine.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

...what's new...

Check out my regular updates on the Adriano Zumbo chocolate cafe progress - on right hand side ===>

let's do lunch at the harbourkitchen

In an attempt to stretch out my birthday for another week, my friend Caroline and I had lunch at harbourkitchen&bar restaurant at the Park Hyatt. They have a 'let's do lunch' special for Good Food Month which also sweetened the deal.

I don't know why it is, but C also got lost on the way to the restaurant (LM, you're not the only one!). So she was a few minutes late, which gave me a chance to take photos of the harbour, which is still pretty when the weather is overcast and drizzly. I also discovered that I preferred one of the regular menu items to the 'let's do lunch' dish.

The 'let's do lunch' dish was wood-roasted snapper with carrot, orange and saffron puree, confit fennel and dried olives (comes with glass of Brown Bros pinot grigio or sangiovese). I went for the stracci pasta with baby goat ragout and pecorino cheese. The pasta was sooo silken and soft and it paired perfectly with the melt-in-the-mouth ragout (very like tender beef). I was so glad I got it. We shared a baby spinach, beetroot and goats cheese salad which was very good.

Click on the photo for a closer look...

The service was spot on. Because it's out of the way (relative to the CBD), I rarely come here, but it's definitely worth a visit. And such pretty views.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Lunch and a great gift

A bright spot in the midst of a horrible week (workwise) was lunch with Lin Mei at Bond Café in Philip St. It’s a lunch spot popular with ‘suits’ though it’s more casual than, say, a restaurant. The service is quick and slick, as expected by most of the clientele.

Anyway, once Lin Mei had arrived (after getting waylaid or lost or making a wrong turn – come on, LM, you chose the place!) we both ordered the rigatoni with scallops. I thought it was pretty good, though the scallops were a bit salty but with a nice grilled flavour. I forgot to take a photo of the dessert because it was so amazingly good that I tucked in as soon as it arrived (marinated strawberries with vanilla bean mascarpone, if you’re interested).

The reason for the lunch was my birthday and the delivery of some punches and stamps that I’d ordered. LM gave me this gorgeous bag and card that she made – isn’t she amazing? You can see how she did it
here. Thanks, Lin Mei, I love it. And, for some reason, the colours of the chairs in the café reminded LM of her Stampin’ Up! shades…really rust. Really!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Foodbloggers meet and eat (East Ocean!)

Q: What do you get when a dozen or so foodbloggers get together for yum cha?
A: Lights, cameras, food and photos, that’s what!

Christie from
fig and cherry managed to get likeminded foodbloggers and hangers on together at East Ocean restaurant for a smorgasbord of yum cha mayhem. Actually, it was very civilised and a great opportunity to meet some of my favourite bloggers. And it’s nice to see others whipping out a camera whenever a new dish appears on the table (it’s not so embarrassing when everyone else at the table is doing it…).

The food was pretty good, too, and the trolleys were well-stocked with all the favourites, including sui mai, har gau, chicken’s feet, shanghai soup dumplings, mango pancakes and egg custard tarts.
Chocolatesuze wished for and got a slice of thousand layer cake and everyone was happy.

Thanks, Christie, for organising it. And it was nice to finally meet and re-acquaint with
Jennifer, Reem, Lisa, Helen, Lorraine, Kathryn, Qingling and Howard.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Between the Covers

This is an event that is part of Good Food Month: an evening with Anna Phillips and Syd Pemberton talking about the process of putting together cookbooks, dealing with publishers, food styling, and the recent history of the art of cookbooks.

Syd and Anna are very funny, knowledgable ladies who have worked in the food industry for many years, and who have written a seafood cookbook together. Syd has numerous other publications to her name (and is apparently collecting some royalties from them). She also runs market tours and cooking classes. Anna has a background in home economics and works (among other things) as a food stylist for books, magazines and advertising (the can of baby beets below is one of hers).

It was a really entertaining evening, topped off with tastings of their food creations. The vintage pineapple stabbed with cubed cheese and cabanossi was a huge hit. I personally loved the prawn salad, which was made with farmed Thailand prawns. Anna is an advocate of these prawns, having seen the process involved in their farming. They look and taste amazing (I haven’t coloured any of these photos – they really are that bright).

It was interesting hearing their stories of photo shoots and how they believe that the food you see on the front of a box (such as cake mix) should be the same as what you make – no touching up or ‘faking’. Although the story behind that chocolate drink advert with floating marshmallows attached with skewers and blu-tack will have me searching out that box at the supermarket…

They are looking at having another session next Wednesday (in Balmain). It was a fun night.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Azuma and singing waitresses

Thinking (as usual) that I had plenty of time, I left it a bit late to book somewhere for dinner for my birthday. We were going to go to Rise (after having a fantastic time at Ocean Room for bf's bday), but it was going to be too difficult to get to.
So I managed to get a booking at Azuma Japanese restaurant, in Chifley Plaza. And what a night it was: wonderful food, great service and a taxi rank right outside.

Chifley Plaza always reminds me of work, because I sometimes frequent the (very good) food court at lunch time. Azuma is on the same level as the food court, separated by some glass screens. The food is in a class of its own.

We had the Omakase degustation, which consisted of 10 fresh, beautifully prepared courses. They were all just amazingly delicious, though I hit the wall about the time course number 7 (wagyu steak) rolled around. But I always leave room for dessert. And just as well I did, because bf had arranged for a special birthday message to be written on the dessert plate. And the lovely waitresses trooped out with candles and a sparkler and sang 'happy birthday' as well! And to top it off, they took a photo of us and presented it to us a few minutes later.

Here are some pictures of the food. For some reason, it reminds me of the dishes on Iron Chef...?

Maybe I could have eaten a bit more if I hadn't prepared this scrummy breakfast a few hours earlier...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Of macarons and possessed cats...

To celebrate the birth of the goddess of hard work (ie. 'Labour day' in NSW), I got some Adriano Zumbo macarons.
Some unusual flavours here, with my favourite being the raspberry and lychee, as the filling has bits of real lychee! Amazing.

The chocolate one was a bit heavy, sort of like a brownie, so no brownie points for it. The filling of the banana and caramel was extremely rich, like mashed up banana. Not too keen on it either, unfortunately.

The Milo macaron was a winner, though, not too chocolatey but tasting of Milo. Maybe have one next time with a glass of milk to dunk?

Tried to get Tabitha interested, but again, no luck. That second pic of her looks like something out of Supernatural (which is back on TV, yay!).