About Me

Food is one of my many joys in life. It is a common bond I share among my friends and family. Combining food and travel makes it all the more interesting. I enjoy going out for a good meal with friends and family. The array of various cuisines and our fantastic array of produce really makes Sydney such a great city to live in. Blogging is my hobby and my posts on restaurant meals I have had are paid for and not gratis. Any gratis provided to me will always be stated beforehand.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Xanthi Bar and Restaurant

Xanthi is located on Level 6 of Westfield Sydney. It has been opened for only a few months and has proven to be a hit.

Personally, I haven't had much exposure to Greek food but I did want to try this restaurant out. What a good decision that was!

DD and I decided to order small sharing plates (as recommended by the waiter). The small sharing plates are termed 'Ouzomezedakia'. And we also ordered a dish from the 'Apo tin plastina' range.

I must say we were very happy with all our choices and cannot say enough good things about the service and the wonderful flavours of the various dishes.

So here goes!

Hot Smoked Eggplant Dip - This was freshly smoked eggplant made fresh with coriander, cumin, lemon juice, bechamel and grated kasseri. The dip was served with flat bread. Verdict: Delicious, the smokiness of the eggplant was subtle and the dip had a nice texture (not too smooth and not too coarse).

Vine Dolmathes - This was the traditional Greek vine dolmathes with a spicy rice vegetable filling.  Verdict: I absolutely loved it! I have not had dolmathes before and I did not expect the burst of flavours. The serving was for 2 each. Honestly, I could have had at least 2 more.

Pickled Octopus - A dish of octopus pickled in white vinegar, blended vegetable and extra virgin olive oil with garlic, lemon and oregano. Verdict: The octopus was so tender, the taste was fresh and light. Lovely flavours!

BBQ Smoked Lamb Cutlets - This was BBQ smoked and cured spiced cutlets. Verdict: I could have had a couple more cutlets! DD and I could not help ourselves, we just had to order the cutlets. It was perfectly cooked.

Pork Belly Baklava - Shredded pork belly with a date and pistachio filling and crackling served with a date and mastic sauce. Verdict: The dish of the night. Beautiful flavours and texture with the crackling, pastry and gorgeous sauce. Loved it!

As we were going through our dishes, we were even thinking that we had not ordered enough as the serving size was not overly large. I must say we were rather full towards the end of the evening. The waiter was right!

We decided to have dessert but on the light side. So we ordered the Olive Oil Ice Cream. This was ice cream infused with Extra Virgin olive oil with pistachio and dried figs. Verdict: Nice and creamy and a nice change with the olive oil infused combination.

Recommendation: Please do try this restaurant out. You won't regret it.

Xanthi Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Xanthi Bar & Restaurant
Level 6 Dining Precinct
Westfield Sydney
Corner of Pitt Street Mall & Market Street
Sydney City
Website: http://www.xanthi.com.au/

Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas Day 2011

My Christmas Day was spent hanging out with my dear friends (part of my family) and their extended family. This year it was EF's turn to host her extended family. All in all, there were 17 of us, 6 of them were children under the age of 15.

The weather turned out to be warm, mostly sunny and absolutely perfect for Christmas. After our long and leisurely lunch, some of the younger kids jumped into the pool to cool down.

It was a lovely afternoon of fellowship, food and laughter. The nibbles included bread served with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and dukkah. In addition there was chips and dips. But the highlight of the nibbles were the various cheese served on a cheese board. I think I outdid myself with the cheese selection because everyone loved the cheese. They were very popular.

The lunch spread included led of ham, roast pork with crackling, turkey roll, 2 kinds of salads and beans. The sweets consisted of Christmas pudding, pavlova, mango pudding, the gingerbread house, baklava and pecan pie.

The following photos are a reflection of some  but not all the dishes we were served with.

Delicious leg ham

Turkey roll - moist and delicious

Roast pork (from the BBQ)

J's special salad of feta, pumpkin, pine nuts, olives and rocket

Pavlova with lots of fruits and what a lovely colour!

N's Pecan Pie - it was a hit!

The kids were so looking forward to breaking down the gingerbread house (see Gingerbread House 2011) and by the end of the day, 2 walls were eaten plus the roof and almost all the lollies. Great job kids!

The dishes were courtesy of various people in the group, so credit goes to all contributors.

We were all so full by the end of the afternoon but what a lovely and relaxing time we all had.

Thank you EF for hosting a lovely Christmas lunch!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Abla's Pastries

Abla's Pastries is located in the suburb of Granvile, in Sydney. This establishment started in 1984 and has been going strong since. I discovered the beautifuls pastries while on a girls trip to Melbourne in 2010. When we were at the Prahran Market, we found the small store selling all the delicious middle Eastern pastries and biscuits.

When I returned to Sydney, I set out to find the main store in Granville and have made at least 2 to 3 trips a year since then to buy their baklava. I recall reading a review of their pastries and there was a reference to Abla's as being the Don Bradman of baklavas. That was an impressive compliment!

Every time I come here, there is always a queue and it is always refreshing to see the massive trays of baklavas, biscuits, chocolates and ice creams presented in the various counters. If you don't have a sweet tooth, you might not like the vision I am about to show with some of the photos of the sweets available.

Below is an image of one of the boxes of baklava that I purchased as a Christmas present for a friend.

If you are ever in the surrounding area of Granville and are up to some sweets, I recommend you visit this store. Their baklava are really good and I don't think you will regret trying it out!

Abla's Pastries on Urbanspoon

Abla's Pastries
48 Railway Parade
Website: http://www.ablaspastries.com.au/

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate this joyous season. May you find peace and great fellowship in this holdiay season.
This wallpaper was downloaded from Free Christmas Wallpapers

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Gingerbread House 2011

My Gingerbread house all snowed up!
All these years living in Australia and  for some reason or other I have not had the opportunity to build a house from gingerbread. When I have seen them around, they look beautifully decorated and so festive during the Christmas period.

So when my friend CW asked me if I wanted to join in on a Gingerbread House get together, I took up the invite quite eagerly. I rocked up with my apron ( glad I did bring it, thank you CW), some extra lollies and chocolates (ended up not using it). CW was kind enough to prep her dining table with all the kits opened up with the precut gingerbread and bags and bags of lollies.

I wouldn't classify myself as a creative person but I must say that I did enjoy myself icing the walls, roof and decorating the house with chocs and lollies galore. How decadent!

As a beginner I did struggle with getting the walls to stick together. I thought the walls were sitting properly on the board and started setting the roof when lo and behold one of the walls started collapsing. So it was a little like back to square one but I got there eventually.

In between all the house building we stopped for afternoon tea to give time for the icing to set before we actually started decorating the roof and walls.

The kids had so much fun with their houses and they really got very creative. I gained some inspiration watching them go all out with their decorations. Here is a picture of one of their houses. Isn't it gorgeous?!

I have decided to bring my gingerbread house to my friends' place for Christmas. There will be enough kids there to help eat all those lollies.

The back of my house!
CW has posted pictures of all the different houses. Please see her blog for all the great pictures by clicking on this link From My Home

Thank you once again CW for your hospitality and generosity in hosting this event. I really had such fun!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Queen Victoria Building

The Queen Victoria Building (otherwise known as QVB) is one of the historical landmarks in Sydney. It was completed in 1898, replacing the original Sydney Markets on the site. Throughout the century this building has managed to survive and now thrive. It was beautifully restored about 15 years ago and has not looked back since. The number of visitors to this landmark, be it local or tourists, are too many to count.

The famous clock

One of the beautiful stained glass windows in QVB
Oroton's front window - just gorgeous!

When I do come into the city, this is one building I always visit. Sometimes it is to drop by some of the stores within the building, sometimes it is to have lunch. But today, being so close to Christmas, I walked up to the top floor to view the famous Christmas tree decorated with Swarovski crystals. Every year without fail, this tree is contructed within the building and it is amazing to see it shoot through the floors (from the ground to the second floor) through the main circle of the building.

Base of tree on the ground floor

The middle on the first floor

The top half on the second floor

This year there is a Swarovski Crystal Garden built in a dome like cage. This is where the children can queue up to get their picture with Santa Claus. The garden and cage was beautifully decorated. It did set the tone for the Christmas vibe.

I do love this time of the year, there is such a feeling of excitement and flurry amongst the crowds. I do hope that in the midst of the shopping and Santa Claus picture taking that we do not forget the real reason for Christmas, i.e. we are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

God bless one and all!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Fried rice - Malaysian style

There are so many versions of fried rice but as I was preparing dinner for tonight, I thought why not put down in writing my version of fried rice!

As it is a Malaysian style version, there is chilli paste in it; it just gives it a bit of kick. If you are not into the spicy style, feel free to remove the chilli portion of the recipe.

This recipe is based on a serving for 4 people.

1 1/2 cups of boiled rice (cooked overnight and kept in the fridge)
12 medium prawns (shelled and deveined)
5 large eggs (preferably free range)
3 chinese pork sausages (diced)
5 cloves of garlic (chopped finely)
1 medium brown onion (chopped roughly)
Frozen mixed vegetables - carrots, corn and peas (thawed then strained of water)
10 gms of dried prawns (soaked then finely minced)
2 dried scallops (soaked then shredded)
1 tsp of chilli paste
1 tsp of sambal belacan
Salt to taste
White pepper to taste
Light soya sauce to taste
1 tbsp of olive oil

1. When the pan is hot, add in the oil. When the oil is hot, stir in the garlic.
2. Then add in the onions and stir for a minute.
3. Add the dried prawns and scallops. At this point you may find that all the oil has been soaked up by the ingredients, add in 1 tsp of oil if required.
4. Add the Chinese sausages and some white pepper.
5. Then the chilli paste and sambal belacan and stir through thoroughly.
6. Push all the ingredients to one side of the pan and add in the prawns and toss in some salt and briefly cook the prawns and stir through with all the other ingredients.
7. Then toss in the mixed vegetables.
8. Stir through the overnight rice.
9. At this point in time, toss in some light soya sauce, salt and pepper.
10. Once everything is thoroughly cooked, remove to a large bowl.
11. Add a little olive oil to the pan and add in the eggs. Add a little soya sauce and pepper. Wait for a minute and scramble the eggs until almost cooked.
12. Then add the fried rice back to the pan and mix the fried eggs through the rice.
13. The dish is ready for serving. Serve while hot.

If you do decide to try this recipe, I would love to hear from you. I hope you will like my version of this very traditional dish.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Rengaya Restaurant

This Japanese restaurant is located in North Sydney, very near to my office.

I like coming here for lunch when I can (which is not very often) because the quality of the food is good. Because of it's location, there are a lot of business lunches that occur and I am sure it is equally as popular at dinner time.

Unfortunately I am not too adventurous when I do lunch here, I tend to go for one of the lunch Bento boxes. I find the price value and quality to be good and I do enjoy them when I can dine here.

For this particular lunch, I had the tempura mix as the main dish to be included in the bento. Over the past few months, the menu has undergone some changes and the lunch box now has the flexibility of selecting a main from a list of mains to go with the rest of the bento. This time I chose the tempura. Other main dishes are salmon teriyaki, Wagyu beef.

The bento came with cold soba noodles, salmon and kingfish sashimi, pickled vegetables and braised octopus.

As this was an unplanned lunch (it was a spontaneous decision) I did not bring my camera so I used my iPhone 4S camera instead.

Hopefully the images are alright.

The waitresses are very polite and attentive and it does get busy on Fridays. The restaurant also has an authentic Japanese BBQ (also known as yakiniku) dining section in addition to other a la carte Japanese dishes.

73 Miller Street
North Sydney
NSW 2060
Tel: 02 9929 6169

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, 13 November 2011

A Reunion of Sorts

It wasn't originally intended to have been a reunion but it turned out to be one. My friend NW organised a get together at her home in light of her sister staying for the week-end in Sydney. NW has three other sisters and one of them FW was in town and we wanted to have a catch up as I had not seen FW for 3 years. NW's family now lives in Melbourne so it is always nice to be able to catch up with them when possible.

My fried rice noodles (char kway teow) has been one of their favourite dishes so I offered to cook up a plate plus bring my mango pudding. That dessert of mine gets repeated a lot during the hot summer season.

Char Kway Teow

NW also invited some other friends who had not seen FW in a while too. So it ended up being 11 adults and 1 cute little 8 month old baby boy (so so cute). Most of these friends are people I know from my previous church so it did feel like a reunion. It was nice to see these familiar faces and catch up on what is going on in their lives.

So in the midst of all the gabbing, we ate the variety of food served. FW ended up cooking the following:

Mixed salad (one bowl with chopped chilli and the other without chilli)

Slow cooked Beef Burmese Style (it was very tender)

Grilled Chicken with lemongrass and tumeric (apparently a Cambodian recipe). I must say it was quite delicious. A side of blanched beans balanced out the main dishes.

We found some space to have dessert which turned out to be pineapple and carrot cake, mango pudding served with cherries.

It turned out to be a pleasant evening, there were lots of photos taken of the various groups.

FW has gone back to Melbourne and I look forward to our next 'reunion'.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Casual Sunday Lunch - Malaysian Style

It's another Sunday lunch at my friend CW's. This time she hosted to it to welcome an college mate who has migrated to Australia with his wife and young family. On top of that CW took the opportunity to bake a cake in celebration of another friend KY's birthday which occured a few days ago.

I always look forward to having a meal at CW's. Firstly, it is always a happy and relaxed vibe when I visit and this is a genuinely nice family to hang around with. Her two girls are great to chat with and have fun with. I also look forward to the great food that consistently appears. Why would I decline an invite to a meal at CW's?

So the lunch theme this time is Malaysian. We had curry laksa (Penang style) and wonton noodles (dry style) which was served with home made barbeque pork (Char Siew) and home made roast pork (Siu Yoke). Auntie (CW's mum) made the barbeque pork and roast pork. I couldn't stop nibbling at the roast pork, it was so tender and the skin was so crunchy!

BBQ Pork and Roast Pork

Wonton Noodles

You would have noted that I mentioned that the curry laksa was a Penang style dish. Well, I did not know until yesterday that there was a variation of the curry laksa dish in the first place. You learn something knew almost every day, I tell you. Well, what is the Penang style? It turns out the laksa is served with a prawn and bean sambal (relish) which I must say did go very well with the laksa.

Prawn and bean sambal

The laksa gravy was quite spicy, it had a kick but I loved it! I did sweat a little as I was eating the dish but that is what makes a good laksa. Auntie made the wonton noodles for the kids as there is way too much spice in the laksa for them to eat it.

Curry Laksa with all the toppings

Curry Laksa without the toppings

There were lots of conversation througout the meal and we decided to take a breather before we moved on to desserts.

Dessert was konyaku jelly, KY's birthday cake of chocolate and espresso cake, salted caramel ice cream, black sesame ice cream, strawberry sorbet and last but not least my mango pudding. CHW (CW's hubby) also served us some nice cups of coffee from their Nespresso machine. The cake was delicious, it was moist and had a lovely texture and I had it with the salted caramel ice cream (home made courtesy of CW) and the combination really worked!


Mango pudding

Chocolate and espresso cake
The cake served with salted caramel ice cream

I can say with certainty we were all full from another feast courtesy of the Wan family.