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, 26 September 2011


Porteno has recently been awarded the Best New Restaurant by the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Food Guide. My friends and I booked for dinner about 6 weeks ago, before the awards were published. Thank goodness!

This restaurant is truly one of the current 'happening' restaurants in Sydney. We managed to reserve a table because there was to be 6 of us (Porteno accepts bookings for 6 plus more). Otherwise it is a first come, first served basis. We have been looking forward to this dinner and I can say we were not disappointed with the food.

When I arrived at the restaurant there was already a queue of people waiting to get a table for the 6pm seating. I had to take a picture of the line up. I must apologise in advance for some of the pictures, it was a dark room and the images did not turn out as clearly as I would have liked.

The first thing that captured my attention was the 2 racks of suckling pig slowly roasting at the very large and hot fireplace. What an image! This place is not for vegetarians, you really need to have an inkling for meat to truly appreciate what this Argentinian restaurant has on offer.

We started our meal with a basket of bread, olive oil, lots of marinated olives, pork pate, chimchirri sauce and salsa. The starters we chose were Smoked Mackerel with avocado, palm hearts and pickled celery, BBQ Eggplant with tahini and BBQ calamari with chickpea sofrito.

Bread, olive oil and pork pate

Smoked mackerel

BBQ Eggplant

We then moved on to the mains and we chose Blood Sausage with red peppers and garlic (yes I did try it and I actually liked it), Angus Beef Short Ribs (tasty), 8 hours woodfired free range suckling pig (very nice by the way) and 8 hour woodfired free range lamb (talk about melt in your mouth!).

Woodfired suckling pig

Blood sausage

Fried brussel sprouts

Woodfired lamb

Beef short ribs

We ordered 2 sides: the famous Crispy fried brussel sprouts with lentils and mint & Grilled root vegetables with radicchio.

After all that food, some of us found a spot in our tummies to have dessert. PK and I had the South American Style Pavlova and others had the Burnt Milk Custard with orange jam and chocolate ice cream.

Burnt milk custard with orange jam

South American style Pavlova

I can only say that my dessert was seriously, scrumptiously delicious. My dish of the evening was my dessert. It was surprising to look at, beautifully layered and what amazing textures. The combination of meringue, sponge cake, salted caramel and nuts and vanilla custard was just delicious!

My only minor issue with Porteno was that it was very noisy and I could hardly hear what my friends were saying through the night. Other than that, it was a lovely evening of hearty, rustic food with good fellowship.

If any of you have dined at Porteno, I would love to hear from you. Maybe you had something else that was a highlight.

358 Cleveland Street
Surry Hills
NSW 2010
Website: http://www.porteno.com.au/

District Dining

District Dining is a relatively new restaurant which opened last year. I had read about it when it first opened and have been wanting to try it out since then.

Well, I fnally got the chance. It is a relatively small restaurant and the ambiance is laid-back and casual. The menu is quite wide ranging and there are enough options to make you want to return to try out other dishes.

They encourage sharing of plates (I think plate sharing is becoming quite popular among the new breed of upcoming restaurants).

We started with some bread and olive oil (nice bread by the way). We decided to go for Polenta and taleggio croquettes, Chicken liver parfait with Sauternes jelly, green grape chutney and toast. For the second half of the meal, we went for Seared scallops with Jerusalem artichoke, prunes and crispy pancetta (delicious and it was my favourite dish). We also had the Lamb rump with caponata and mint gravy. The lamb was cooked perfectly - medium with a lovely pink colour. It was so tender.

Chicken liver parfait

Polenta and taleggio croquette - sorry for the dark image
Seared scallops with pancetta
Lamb rump with Jerusalem artichoke

I don't know how I did it but I found space in my very full tummy to end the meal with dessert. I had the lemon cheesecake with Blueberries and lemon curd ice cream. Yummy.....!

Lemon cheesecake, blueberries and lemon curd ice cream

I think I would like to return to try out other dishes. The restaurant is conveniently located next to Central Station.

Thank you DD for suggesting District Dining. It was a good suggestion and we had a nice time gabbing and eating away.

District Dining on Urbanspoon

District Dining
17 Randle Street
Surry Hills

Monday, 19 September 2011

Sweetness the Patisserie

Sweetness the Patisserie - I first read about this shop about 2 years ago in an article in the Good Living. The shop is located in Epping and that perked my interest.  The article focused on the nougat and marshmallows made onsite. It is not often you find artisan shops in the North West of Sydney.  They are typically located in the city or close to the city.

The store sign

When I do visit the store, I love looking at the range of sweet treats available. The fact that they are all hand made onsite makes them all the more attractive. I have previously mentioned Sweetness the Patisserie when I blogged about the Castle Hill Farmers Market. I thought it appropriate to dedicate a singular post just to the store and its founder Gena Karpf. Gena Karpf founded the store in circa 2008. It has gone from strength to strength and has expanded its range to not only include marshmallows, nougat and various biscuits but to also include fruit coconut ice, toffees, gummies, fudge, truflles and so forth.
One shelf laden with the freshly baked biscuits

Rocky Road Bonbons

Some more yummy goodies!

The very famous marshmallows - I love them!

The open kitchen where the treats are made

Recent fine food awards won by Sweetness the Patisserie

The declaration by Michel Roux about the marshmallows
The last picture is taken from the main window of the store. There is a lot of back reflection so it is very hard to read it. What it says is 'The best marshmallows I have ever eaten. I loved every mouthful'....Michel Roux

If Michel Roux loves them marshies, then I would expect almost anyone to love them too (that is if you have a sweet tooth).

Sweetness the Patisserie
38 Oxford Street
NSW 2121
Website: http://www.sweetness.com.au/

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Thyme Restaurant, Spencer On Byron

Well, I am back in Auckland for the week. This trip was unscheduled and requested at the last minute. I did not realise how close we are to the opening of Rugby World Cup 2011. Goodness! Upon reflection, we were lucky to even get rooms for our booking for this week.

I am staying at the Spencer on Byron in Takapuna. It turns out the French Rugby team are bunked here too. I was squeezed into a lift with a few of them a couple of nights ago. I sure felt short and small next to some of them.

Tonight our project team had a dinner to celebrate the end of the Design phase. So we decided to have dinner at the main restaurant in the Spencer. The restaurant is named Thyme. I had previously dined here a couple of  months ago and found the food to be very nice.

We all ended up ordering a three course meal. For this posting, I will focus on the dishes I ordered as it was too difficult to take photos of all the others' dishes. For entree I had seared scallops with sauteed rhubarb, rhubard reduction and rhubard crisps. I thought I would try it out even though I am typically not keen on rhubarb. The combination intrigued me and I was not disappointed. I did enjoy the dish.

Scallops with rhubarb

For my main, I had lamb cutlets, lamb shank cigar, pumpkin whip, creamed leeks and guava jus. It was very nicely cooked and the meat was of high quality and very tender indeed. I did enjoy it!

Lam cutlets with lamb shank cigar

My dessert was Pacific Rose Apple Tartan with vanilla ice cream and it was lovely to look at and lovely to eat.

Apple tartan with vanilla ice cream
By the way, the service at the restaurant is of high standard. I would recommend the restaurant to you if you are ever in Takapuna.

Thyme Restaurant
Spencer on Byron
9-17 Byron Avenue
Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, 5 September 2011

Fathers Day 2011

Happy Fathers Day to all the fathers out there. I did not expect to be involved in a Fathers Day celebration but it was a spontaneous invite from EF and I said yes. So we gathered together for lunch.

It was a casual affair with food contributions by all and what a lovely afternoon we had. I brought some cheese, EF bought some more cheese, made the mini quiche and there was BBQ pork too. PF made some lovely salads (Crispy noodle Asian style salad and Roast pumpkin with feta, tomato and pine nuts).



More cheese

NF (the only father in the group) was busily opening all his gifts and we even found time to play a game of the Tipayatung board game. EF was the eventual winner but we had fun playing!

Mini quiches - courtesy of EF

Crispy noodle Asian salad - courtesy of PF

BBQ pork - EF bought from Carlingford

Roast pumpkin, tomato, feta and pine nut salad - courtesy of PF
Dessert was a resounding success. We had buttermilk panna cotta with passionfruit glaze. What a lovely end to a very filling lunch. Dessert was courtesy of CM (Doobie).

Buttermilk panna cotta with passionfruit glaze - courtesy of CM