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.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Sunday lunch - My birthday

It was another Sunday lunch but this time it was to celebrate my birthday. How lucky I am to have 'family' have me over and cook me a special lunch.

My dear friend EF made the effort to decorate the kitchen, dining room and main door with pink and white balloons. It was such a sweet touch and did give it a slightly party atmosphere!

We started with nibbles and spring rolls, then moved on to beautifully cooked lamb shanks. EF cooked the dish for almost 2 hours. Her recipe was based on a Donna Hay recipe she had downloaded from the Internet. It was braised with red wine, rosemary and sweet potato; along with other herbs and ingredients.


Pink lemonade!
Lamb shanks - delicious!

My cake was a blueberry swirl cheesecake. EF had baked this previously and it was such a hit that this is the encore appearance! Yummy! This was another recipe from Donna Hay's cookbook Modern Classics 1.

Blueberry swirl cheesecake

I was also lucky enough to receive some lovely gifts from the family. I feel blessed to be surrounded by people who love me unconditionally.

Thank you, my lovely 'family', for a wonderful and fun day!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Sepia Restaurant

I have wanted to go to Sepia ever since it opened in 2009. I finally got the chance to do so on Saturday. With anticipation comes high expectations so I was a little worried I would be disappointed when I finally had my meal.

I am glad to say that I was not disappointed at all. Sepia is a good restaurant and I can see why Martin Benn won Chef of the year in the latter half of last year for the year 2011.

Saturday dinners at Sepia are degustation based menus. It was clearly stated on their website. I love trying out degustation as it allows a diner to have a sampling of the variety of dishes the chef wants to highlight but in smaller servings.

Bearing in mind that it was degustation I did not have a menu in front of me so I have struggled a little in remembering all the highlighted ingredients that was described by the waiter for each serving.

There were four seafood based dishes, two red meat based dishes and two desserts.

Seafood dishes: Sea scallop with jamon infused jus (a starter), Yellowfin tuna tartare with leek custard, alfalfa sprouts and roasted beans, Queensland prawn with creme fraiche and served with sliced daikon, and Buckwheat risotto served with Queensland spanner crab and topped with seafood essence. The final seafood dish was Hiramasa Kingfish (sorry I can't remember the ingredients served with the dish - unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the dish). My apologies for the poor quality of the photos - it was quite dark in the restaurant and I did refrain from using the flash.

Sea scallop

Tuna tartare - fantastic textures and flavours

Queensland prawn with daikon - hard to see as it was on a black plate

Buckwheat risotto and spanner crab

Red meat: Venison cooked with beetroot and chocolate and Black Angus beef with truffle based jus.

Venison with beetroot and chocolate - very very nice!

Black Angus beef with black truffle - nice!

Desserts: Blood orange granita with blood orange jelly and crumble, and Chocolate Forest with beetroot sorbet.

Blood orange dessert

Chocolate forest

Verdict: The plating was excellent, overall food flavours and textures were excellent. My highlights were the tuna tartare (fantastic flavour combined with very interesting textures of crunchy and smooth tuna tartare with leek custard. Brilliant!). The venison was delightful and perfectly cooked. I could never have imagined combining venison with beetroot and chocolate. What a combination, an absolutely smashing dish. The black angus beef was also perfectly cooked and I could have had another plate of it.

I loved the blood orange dessert, two more servings please! The chocolate forest was interesting. It definitely had the texture of pine and wood but it reminded my friend SH too much of a bircher muesli texture. But I didn't mind it and I finished it all up!

The service was excellent and the sommelier was good and even suggested a very nice Italian red to SH (who is a wine connoiseur by the way).

We both enjoyed our meal. SH had been here before but only for lunch so the lunch crowd was slightly different to the dinner crowd. We were a little surprised to see a table of 6 where there were 2 little girls dining on a degustation menu. Knowing that Saturday dinner is always degustation only, I did wonder why the family still decided to have the meal with the two girls (under 5 years old) at Sepia. What a shame to see a dessert of chocolate forrest left completely untouched by one of the girls as the family left the restaurant. I am sure the two girls would have found it hard to appreciate the food they were served.

Normally I do not put in a rating for any of the restaurants that I have frequented but since this is a 2 hatted restaurant, I thought why not!
Food: 9/10
Service: 9/10
Ambiance: 7/10 (it was a little noisy)

Sepia Restaurant
201 Sussex Street
Darling Park
NSW 2000
Website: http://www.sepiarestaurant.com.au/

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Zumbo Lab

Zumbo - now this is a famous one name word in Sydney and I believe in Australia too.

My friend KY found out that I had not been to the Zumbo cafe yet so he was kind enough to drive me to Rozelle. We were already having lunch in Woolwich so going to Rozelle from there was literally a stone's throw away.

It was already quite late in the afternoon when we arrived at Terry Street in Rozelle. Adriano was not there, so it was just a battle of working out which macarons to buy. The standout of the building is the Zumbo art grafitti on the main wall of the 'lab'. Totally unmissable.

The cafe is actually very small. The fascination is being able to view what was happening in the kitchen. You can actually see the patissiers cooking away in the kitchen. The artwork in the "lab" was very funky and very Zumbo.

I ended up taking away Pear and Vanilla, Fig and Burnt Honey, Lemon and Olive Oil and Raspberry Shortbread macarons.

The 4 Macarons!

Now I can finally say that I have been to Zumbo's. The results of having the macarons are that they are delicious and full of flavour. The lemon and olive oil macaron - a burst of lemon and the lingering subtle taste of the olive oil. The fig and burnt honey was full of flavour. As a matter of fact, all the four flavours were a great hit!

I will come back to try out more flavours.

Website: http://www.adrianozumbo.com/
Locations: Balmain, Rozelle and Manly

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The Deckhouse Cafe

A few of my friends and I had lunch at the Deckhouse Cafe on a Sunday. We were hoping for a sunny day so we could get a great view of the water sitting sitting at the Deckhouse. It was quite cloudy when we arrived but the sun broke out of the clouds as we were finishing the meal.

The Deckhouse is located in the Woolwich Dock in the suburb of Woolwich. What a lovely surround. Just so picturesque and such a peaceful environment.

It is quite clear that the Deckhouse Cafe is a popular cafe. There were quite a few lunch patrons. So how was the food and service?

We started with some garlic bread. The 2 girls had fish and chips, which they loved. Of the adults, one had salt and pepper calamari entree size, one had a scampi risotto for the main meal, another had the crusted lamb rack with potato mash and mint oil and I had fish and chips (main size) with tempura batter.

Garlic bread

Crusted lamb rack

Verdict - my fish was nice and tasty. My chips were slightly soggy and not crunchy at all. So that was disappointing. KY's lamb rack was apparently very nice. He seemed to enjoy and it looked perfectly cooked. Unfortunately CW's scampi risotto was a disappointment, the risotto was so overcooked that the rice was gluggy. Now that was a disappointment. CH's calamari wasn't too bad I think.

Fish with tempura batter and chips

Scampi risotto

Salt and pepper calamari (entree size)

So we looked forward to dessert. Two of us had the chocolate fondant with honeycomb ice cream and the other two had the petit fours. Dessert was received very well by all. I really enjoyed the fondant and the ice cream was really delicious. Not overly sweet.

Chocolate fondant with honeycomb ice cream

Petit fours

There is one negative comment that I would like to make about the service. The two kids meals were served very promptly so the adults expected the adult meals to arrive not too long after the kids meals. Well, how wrong were we? We waited about 20 minutes later to get our meals. That was not good planning as by the time we received our plates, the kids had finished their meals and had to patiently wait for the adults to finish. I strongly urge the kitchen to work out a better delivery of food plan when a table has a combination of children and adults.

Deckhouse Cafe
Woolwich Dock
Clarke Road
Woolwich NSW 2110
Website: http://www.deckhousewoolwich.com.au/

Monday, 15 August 2011

Castle Hill Farmers Market

Castle Hill Farmers Market is held twice a month in Showground Road in the suburb of Castle Hill. I started frequenting this market about 2 years ago. Not as often I would have liked but I did drop by when I had the time. At that time the market was only held once a month but has now become so popular that it is now twice a month.

They are held on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month, except for December and January of each year. Having frequented the markets I can see how much the markets has grown in szie (i.e. number of stores) and the number of people who come to the markets have increased in numbers. It is very encouraging to see the public support the local farmers and providores.

There are organic vegetable stalls, organic beef, organic lamb, olive oils, balsamic vinegars, relishes, jams, freshly baked breads, a wonderful array of freshly baked pies and so on and so on. What a fantastic array of fresh and great food for the public to chose from.

My favourite muesli bar stall is here. Sweetness the Patisserie is here. Dings' is here and so is a fantastic pasta stall. Their range of ravioli is incredible and dare I say delicious? I bought their prawn garlic and chilli ravioli the last time I was here. They come frozen and so easy to cook. I was suitably impressed when I did finally cook them. Delicious filling and the ravioli pasta was so al dente.
 I bought another type of ravioli this time but I will post a separate blog when I cook it for dinner in the very near future.

Sweetness the Patisserie's marshmallows are so soft, plump and delicious. Everyone I have given these to just loves them so much. The brownies are just as delicious. Personally I like my brownies chewy, and these are chewy and filled with chunks of chocolate as I bite into them. Delicious and decadent! Sorry, I don't have a picture of the brownie. I ate it so quickly that I forgot take the picture.

I love coming to this market so if you are ever in this neck of the woods on a Saturday (either the 2nd or 4th one of the month), do drop by. I don't believe you will be dissapointed.

Hunter Valley Pasta Co.
Shop 1/126 Bridges Road
New Lambton
NSW 2305
Website for Castle Hill Farmers Market:

Sweetness the Patisserie
38 Oxford Street
NSW  2121

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Special Lunch - Birthday

It was a lovely Sunday and lunch with my beloved 'family' is always filled with chatter, jokes and great fellowship. Today however it was a lunch to celebrate C's 20th birthday. My dear friend EF worked hard on preparing lunch. We ended up with a 3 course meal!

For starters, we had pumpkin soup. It was creamy and delicious. There was a hint of green curry in it. Our main was Chicken cooked with basil and tomato sauce. There were sides of beans and baked sweet potatoes. That was lovely too.

And for dessert, I brought the cake I had ordered from Belle Saveur Patisserie (see previous post). It was a Strawberry and White Chocolate Japonais. It looked so pretty. It was definitely a challenge to cut it up. Taste wise, it was not too sweet and quite delicious. The white chocolate was beautifully tempered.The meringue had hazelnuts in it.

Pumpkin soup

Chicken with basil and tomato sauce - lovely plating!

Strawberry and white chocolate japonais
 The meal ended up with a good serve of coffee and tea. Let's not forget all the presents that were opened.

Happy birthday Doobs!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Belle Saveur Patisserie Cafe

About two months ago, there was an article in the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Living about a patisserie in Penrith. The article perked my interest and I mentally made a note to visit the patisserie one fine day.

Well, the one fine day occurred over the week-end. I had placed an order for a cake for the week-end and rocked up to Penrith on Saturday morning to collect it. While I was there I decided to order coffee and a friand so I could check the cafe out too.

The coffee wasn't too bad, there was a nice strong flavour to it and the friand was lovely. It was a Passionfruit friand and it was surprisingly moist and full of flavour. The ladies were friendly and the atmosphere was a nice and comfortable little cafe.

The array of cakes

Coffee looks nice!

Passionfruit friand - very nice!

I also took home a Raspberry and White Chocolate Pyramid. I had it for my evening dessert. Let's put it this way, it was definitely a no diet week-end! I did enjoy the Pyramid. It was very pretty too look at and tasty to eat.

The Pyramid

In my next posting, I will show the outcome of the cake I had ordered. Belle Saveur Patisserie is an interesting place, especially since it is located in Penrith. That's more than 40 kms from where I live. Would I return in the future? I would say yes because I would like to try out their other cakes; they do look quite delicious.

Belle Saveur Patisserie Cafe
551 High Street
New South Wales