Tag Archives: sydney

Food Bloggers, Unite!

11 Oct

It was a scene reminiscent of the most glorious dream and the worst possible nightmare: an endless line of mouthwatering food that spelled both delight and dread. The glut (ha!) in me knew the next few hours would be pure bliss but my (self) conscious female side thought otherwise – hello, potbelly.


Food bloggers from across Sydney gathered on Saturday (which was, wonderfully coincidentally, my birthday) for the Sydney Food Bloggers Mad Hatters Spring Picnic – organised by Billy from A Table for Two and Karen from Citrus and Candy.

It was essentially just like any other picnic gathering: rugs laid out, groaning with various dishes both sweet and savoury and plenty of people digging in and enjoying. But, true to food blogger-form, the cameras were out at every opportune moment, snapping away at the bevy of exquisite food.

 

Mini burgers by Fat Belly Club.

Bacon and olive bread by Sandra.

Sadly Eliza from Boomerang Banquet and I were about two hours late to the picnic and consequently didn’t get to try some of the food, but the excess of dishes ensured we didn’t completely miss out. The mini burgers by Paulina and Liam from Fat Belly Club were absolutely adorable and the bacon and olive bread by Sandra from The French Wench was deliciously salty.

 

Smoked salmon and blini by Jamie.

 

Blue bruschetta by Moya.

A friend from uni, Jamie of From the Dinner Table fame, made blini with smoked salmon – a scrumptious luxury that I actually haven’t indulged in since I moved out. To me the blue bruschetta by Moya from YaYa’s Yum Yums was, despite its bizarre appearance, the savoury winner of the day – light, airy and perfect paired with creamy blue cheese.

Of course the best part of the two-hour eating fest was the dessert. And because, it seems, most bloggers have a serious sweet tooth, the desserts heavily outweighed the savories. But I wasn’t complaining.

 

S’more tarts by Phuoc.

 

Raspberry and lemon curd tarts.

Phuoc from Phuoc’n Delicious made cute little S’more tarts – a crumbly pastry shell holding a rich chocolate centre and topped with marshmallow. The mini raspberry and lemon curd tarts (also by Fat Belly Club) were equally as sweet.

 

Lemon & blueberry ricotta cheesecake.

 

Earl Grey cake and mini macarons.

The lemon and blueberry ricotta cheesecake by Leila from Tablenosh had just the right amount of tart and sweet flavours and it was rich and creamy like a good cheesecake should be. I didn’t get to try the actual chiffon cake by Ayana but the macarons were superb – a crunchy outer shell yielding a chewy and soft centre.

 

Tea-ramisu.

Cake pops.

 

Cookie monster cupcakes by Sook.

The mini tea-ramisu cups by Tammi from Insatiable Munchies – chocolate teacups filled with sweet custard cream and soaked sponge cake – were an ingenious take on the traditional tiramisu. And the cake pops by Sugarlace were a jollier version of iced cake. There were also three versions of cookie monster cupcakes – these ones, I believe, were by Sook from Nommy Nom Nom.

Mad hatter cupcakes.

 

Food blogger mud cake.

I was in absolute awe at some of the skill using fondant. The mad hatter cupcakes (also by YaYa’s Yum Yums) really went all out with the picnic’s theme and were spectacular to look at. But the real star of the dessert show (and the winner for Best Dessert) was the blogger mud cake by Anna from Diary of a Ladybird. It didn’t only look magnificent – the salted caramel mud cake inside was moist, rich and heady with chocolate and salty sweet goodness.

 

Carmen Miranda... sort of.

Chocolate eclair hat.

The costumes and hats were also a sight to behold. The Carmen Miranda fruit hat was a welcome burst of colour on an otherwise drizzly day and the chocolate eclair hat was just plain fantastic.

But this was easily the best costume of the day.

We ate, we dranked, we discussed Masterchef, Adriano Zumbo and Peter Gilmore’s snow egg. It was great to meet other food bloggers in the flesh and see what a close-knit community the blogging sphere really is.

Someone threw around the idea of a Christmas picnic in the coming months. If this is anything to go by, I’ll be fasting for weeks in preparation.

The Soup Strikes Back.

20 Sep

Following my flatmate’s bout of food poisoning (to me, minor; to her, ghastly), I was forced to forgo making a rich lasagna for dinner and instead replace it with something a little less heavy and a little easier to digest.

The brief was that it couldn’t require much effort on her part, had to involve a broth and absolutely had to contain glass noodles. The answer here was obvious: I’ve already hammered on about the healing properties of soup, and what better way to really rehash a tired argument than to blog about it again?

This time around, the soup was light and fragrant and filled with fresh ingredients. The chicken remained tender and moist and the bok choy added a nice dose of clean, natural flavour. If possible, I much prefer using fresh vegetables over tinned or even frozen. There’s something invigorating about eating pure and wholesome vegetables that you can’t really emulate in a cylindrical piece of aluminum or a plastic bag. Buy in season and, if you live near one, buy from a fruit and vegetable market, such as Paddy’s in Sydney. You save money this way and also get the most bang for your hard-earned buck in terms of freshness and flavour.

The use of fresh vegetables also really ups the healing ante with the addition of extra vitamins and minerals. It was the perfect antidote to my flatmate’s ailments and the best way to silence her cries of pain (admittedly only for a lowly ten minutes) as she noisily slurped it down.

Chicken, Noodle and Bok Choy Soup.

Chicken, Noodle and Bok Choy Soup

Serves 4

4 chicken drumsticks

1.5L chicken stock

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 tsp powdered ginger

200g dried rice sticks (also known as rice noodles)

1 bunch bok choy, washed and roughly chopped

pepper, to taste

1. Place the stock and the chicken drumsticks into a large pot and bring to the boil.

2. Reduce to a simmer and add the soy sauce, ginger and pepper.

3. Simmer on medium heat for around 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Pull a piece out and cut open to check.

4. Add the rice noodles, cover with the soup stock and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the noodles are cooked through.

5. Add the chopped bok choy and cook for another 5 minutes.

6. Check the seasoning and add more soy sauce accordingly.

7. Remove from the heat and ladle into bowls to serve.

* If you so desire, you can shred the chicken off the bones after they’re cooked and re-add it. Much to my flatmate’s embarrassment, I’m an infamous bone-gnawer and prefer to keep it on.

Big Quiches in Little Paris.

6 Sep

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – buttery pastry makes the world go round. Actually, come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever uttered these words. But fear not, dear friends, for the aforementioned statement is not an entire lie. I now have reason to say that, in fact, the annual complete revolution of the earth on which we live is only possible due to flaky, rich and sumptuous puff pastry making it so.

A while ago, a dear friend of mine told me about a little patisserie that has recently opened on Glebe Point Road, Glebe, with the promise of taking me there to try its delicious wares. Unfortunately various aspects of life got in the way and it wasn’t until last week (some three months later) that we finally got to go, along with another friend and fellow blogger, Eliza.

We all agreed that a patisserie was exactly what Glebe was screaming out for – sure, there are a few bread shops along its main strip, but nothing like the little piece of French cuteness that is La Banette. I believe the flagship store is in Avalon – in other words, a very distant trek – making a second shop a fantastic idea.

The adorable exterior of the shop.

Upon entering La Banette, we noticed the lack of dining space. My laptop became a makeshift table as we huddled around it on little benches. I’d estimate there’s seating for about six or seven people so advise takeaway or coming during off peak times.

However this was all remedied as we were struck by the awe-inspiring abundance of assorted sweets, cakes and pastries. There are the usual options like croissants (and its many varieties), lemon meringue tarts and eclairs but there are also a few less well-known additions: a creme caramel tart, different types of meringues and sweet brioche. Savoury options included rustic-looking sausage rolls, pies and quiches. There’s also loaves of bread which, although a little more pricey than your average loaf of Tip Top, are surprisingly affordable in comparison to those at other bakehouses.

The delicious display.

We decided sharing was the best option – more variety with less of that guilty feeling after devouring the whole thing on your own. And it makes it cheaper.

The quiches looked too good to pass up so we settled on spinach & bacon and Provencale (mixed vegetable) at $5 each. The pastry used for both was golden, buttery and absolutely exquisite. I would go as far as saying it’s the best I’ve ever had and without a doubt enough to make both the earth and my head spin. The top was crunchy and flaky, as it should be, whilst the bottom remained soft and smooth without being soggy. They were each enormous, too, making them wonderful value for money.

Spinach and bacon quiche.

The spinach and bacon quiche was my favourite – the saltiness of the bacon contrasted nicely with the mellow taste of spinach. The egg, cream and cheese mixture inside the quiche was perfectly silky and even good enough to change an egg-hater’s mind. Part of me regretted agreeing to share as I realised I could happily consume the entire thing.

Provencale (mixed vegetable) quiche.

The Provencale (mixed vegetable) quiche was also quite tasty and equally as superb in its pastry and egg-mixture qualities. It contained a generous mix of vegetables with tomato, red capsicum, zucchini and more spinach making an appearance. Sadly this one had been put in to reheat just as we arrived and, through obviously not wanting to make us wait too long, it was pulled out a bit prematurely. The inside was cold, making it a little less satisfying than the first.

Raspberry meringues.

A trio of creme caramel tart, almond meringue and cherry and almond tart.

We umm-ed and aah-ed extensively while trying to choose dessert. The range of options was enormous and having three different palates to satisfy made the job even harder. We decided on the slightly unusual creme caramel tart and almond meringue as well as the more common cherry and almond tart.

The meringue was unlike any other I’ve had before – the timeworn variety is usually a crunchy and tasteless mound that shatters upon first bite, but this one was a far cry from familiarity. The outside was still brittle and delicate and produced a few crumbs, but the inside was soft, fluffy and chewy. The flavour was a nice and subtle hint of almond.

The cherry and almond tart was pleasant, with fat bursts of slightly sour cherry punctuating the sweet almond meal base. It was nothing I hadn’t tried before but was still a satisfying sweet hit.

The creme caramel tart was the star of the dessert show – a plump and supple creme caramel atop yet another perfect pastry base. In between the two was the odd, yet surprisingly scrumptious, addition of a thin layer of sponge soaked in some kind of rose-flavoured syrup. I never would have though to pair rose with creme caramel but it worked oh so well – the floral sweetness of rose had a wonderful aftertaste.

Many apologies but I failed to write down the prices of the desserts. Most were in the $4 – 4.50 range, with the exception of the meringues and the mini-desserts (smaller versions of the originals) which started at around $1.20. When I visit again (which I undoubtedly will) I’ll find exact prices.

In total, though, we paid $18 amongst three of us. Only $6 for a tasting menu of both sweet and savoury delights and the best pastry you’ll ever try? If that’s not enough to convince you, do it for the sake of earth.

La Banette Patisserie

18 Glebe Point Road, Glebe

Ph: 02 8095 9688

Berry Heavenly.

11 Jul

Now I don’t normally do this (preferring instead to gorge myself on way too much food and use the excuse of needing to review as many different options as possible) but the other night I treated myself to a single slice of cheesecake heaven.

A friend and I decided to suburb-hop for dessert after having dinner at the local, making our way to Glebe Point Road, Glebe, for some sugary delights. One of my constant go-tos is Badde Manors, a vegetarian cafe that serves up breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, gelato and, my favourite part of all, dessert. There are choices aplenty: sticky date pudding, triple chocolate brownies, chocolate torte, cannoli, strudels, tiramisu and what I now reckon is the best cheesecake in town.

As a devout chocolate fan who is incapable of choosing anything else for dessert, I was at first apprehensive about the blackberry cheesecake ($6.50). I’ve always had mixed opinions on the cheesecake, finding most of them pretty unappealing. I’ll never warm up to the cold, refrigerated variety and have only in recent years started to like the baked kind. But upon recommendation from my friend, I was told it would change my life. I’m not quite sure it’s up there with graduating high school, the birth of my siblings nor The OC, but it definitely changed my timeworn dessert-eating habits.

As I relentlessly repeated to my (quickly becoming bored) friend, ‘it’s just so creamy’. The cream cheese filling is smooth and almost velvety in texture, taking mere seconds to dissolve on your tongue and slide blissfully down your throat. Sorry, I just felt like being a bit lame. It is intensely sweet and could easily become overbearing, but the slight sourness to the blackberries ensures your capability of devouring the entire thing. The berries are fat and flavoursome and, unlike some desserts I’ve tried, are in no way skimped on. The pastry seems to be a butter and biscuit mix but holds together really well. The odd cheesecake in the past has had flimsy pastry that falls apart upon the insertion of a fork but this one can hold its own. But that’s not to say it’s in any way thick and cumbersome: it is delicate and buttery and utterly delicious.

Blackberry Cheesecake.

Go forth, take your hard-earned money and indulge yourself in this heavenly delight. As has happened for some, it may be a pivotal life moment. Or perhaps it’ll just change your mind about the humble cheesecake.

Badde Manors

37 Glebe Point Road, Glebe

Sydney

Ph: (02) 9660 3797‎

Death by Chocolate.

2 Jul

I ask you this simple question: what’s the perfect reward for doing an hour-and-a-half long dance class?

Max Brenner, that’s what. After 90 minutes of blood, sweat, tears (mainly on my part – I really can’t dance) and intense calorie-burning, fat loads of chocolate are the only way to end the evening.

Now all this exercise is purely hypothetical – two very bad senses of direction meant we never made it to said dance class. But my flatmate and I decided to indulge in excessive chocolate consumption anyway. It was kind of reminiscent of the time we went to the gym five years ago, only to find we had to be over 16 and thus couldn’t get in, so bought a jar of Nutella and some dinner rolls and sat on the side of the road and devoured the whole lot. Glad to see our good sense hasn’t changed since.

I’m currently suffering severe chest pains due to the choc-a-thon (?) but it was so worth it. The Bald Man never fails to bring a smile to my face and a very content bulge to my belly.

Admittedly this wasn’t the cheapest meal I’ve had, but when faced with entry fees at clubs that cost the same (if not more) I know which one I’d choose. The chocolatey goodness of Max Brenner always ensures a pleasant night out but an overpacked club just makes me resent people of my own age.

Yesterday was payday so my flatmate decided to go all out with the Banana Praline Crepes ($14.50), two neatly folded, paper-thin pancakes housing a chocolate, nut and caramel filling with big bursts of banana. The filling was deliciously oozy, perfect for mopping up with the pancake. The addition of ice cream ensured it wasn’t too cloyingly sweet, the refreshing coolness a welcome change between bites of warm chocolate and very sugary caramel.

Banana Praline Crepes

I chose a slightly cheaper option, the Chocolate Cinnamon Babka cake ($6.50) with a side of strawberries ($3) to at least pretend I was being healthy. The babka is a yeasty sponge cake originating from Eastern Europe, often made with raisins. In this instance the dough is made with cinnamon, with dark chocolate coiled up inside, making it almost like a tall chocolate snail. As well as the insane abundance of chocolate inside, it is served with a small pot of melted chocolate that, although probably unnecessary, makes the whole thing deliciously scrumptious. Again the obscene amount of chocolate was a little overbearing. The strawberries, like the ice cream, provided a nice, slightly sour balance to the sugar.

Chocolate Cinnamon Babka.

You might be thinking that we finished the night here. But you’d be wrong. I broke my budget and daily calorie intake by ordering the Italian Hot Chocolate ($6) with dark chocolate. At a time where Sydney is experiencing record low temperatures, the comforting warmth of the hot chocolate was very well received. Max Brenner serve their hot chocolates in the famous Hug Mug, an egg-shaped mug that at first seems bizarre but is actually perfect for, well, hugging with your hands. The Italian Hot Chocolate is made with some sort of magic cream that makes it thick and almost like a dense custard – my flatmate called it ‘a liquid orgasm’. To me, it’s the ideal Winter treat.

Italian Hot Chocolate.

Our plates were scraped clean, our faces smeared with chocolate and our hearts beating rapidly after the massive sugar rush. Mine continues to pound against my chest, often painfully, leading me to believe that the title of this post could be a little more literal than originally intended.

Max Brenner Chocolate Bar

Shop MG 24, Metcentre, 273 George Street NSW 2000

Phone: 02 9251 7788



Layin’ Down Some Silverbeets.

26 Jun

My homie and I had been craving some good ol’ green leafy goodness. We normally choose bok choy as our nutrient-rich green of choice but hectic uni schedules meant we were unable to get to Paddy’s Markets in Sydney to pick some up.

So instead we found some silverbeet in our local hood, on special and with the leaves conveniently cut from the stalk – saving dollarz and time.

Initially I’d been apprehensive about getting the silverbeet, aka chard or Swiss chard, due to not really knowing what to do with it. I knew it was much like spinach and could probably be used in the same way – in a cheese and spinach pie, in cannelloni, sauteed, and so on and so forth. I remembered one recipe that combined the silverbeet with bacon but I wasn’t really sure how. My own recipe books didn’t provide much inspiration in the way of cooking it so I decided to wing it with whatever we had in the crib.

The end result was pretty fly, if I say so myself. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’ll taste too much like your momma’s vegetables that you saved so hard and for so long to move away from. With the right ingredients, even a brussels sprout can taste like the shiz. Word.

Silverbeet with bacon.

Sauteed Silverbeet with Bacon

Serves 2

1 tsp olive oil

125g diced bacon

1 small brown onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

350g silverbeet, washed and chopped

pepper

lemon juice, to serve

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

2. Add the bacon and fry until the edges are browned. The oil from the bacon should be enough to fry off the onion and garlic.

3. Add the onion and garlic and fry until soft.

4. Add the silverbeet, stir to coat it with the other ingredients and cover with a lid.

5. Leave to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the pan is too dry, add a bit of water.

6. Season with pepper (the bacon should add enough saltiness, but if not, add some salt).

7. When the silverbeet is cooked through, remove from heat and serve with freshly squeezed lemon juice.