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.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

The Brooklyn Bridge and Pizza at Grimaldi's (New York City)

I have mentioned before about my mental to do list (as one would say a bucket list) that I occasionally get a chance to scratch an item off. During my recent trip to New York, I managed to scratch quite a few off my list and my walk across the Brooklyn Bridge was another scratch off!!!

It was another warm and sunny morning when we walked across the bridge. It was also high in humidity and we were sweating profusely as we slowly walked the bridge busily taking photos of Brooklyn and also of Manhattan.

Photo courtesy of Sami Lukis
There were parts of the bridge that was undergoing repairs which accounted for some sections being covered by construction walls and ropes. But that didn't bother me, I just wanted to soak it all in. I was really walking across this iconic bridge! Across some parts of the bridge I could see little locks along the metallic chains. Fascinating.

Photo courtesy of Sami Lukis
As we arrived at the other end and we were in Brooklyn itself we took a quick stroll around and ended up in the park next to bridge. It was a lovely park designed for families. There were mothers with their children playing in a cordoned off area. There was a little alcove where we could take pictures of the bridge from the Brooklyn end.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Cervo Restaurant & Bar (Northbridge)

I have been blogging about my US trip experiences for a few weeks now. I still have a few more US posts to do but I decided to take a small break from talking about New York and instead focus on Sydney. It's a nice change, for me and for my regular readers!

After being back a week from my US trip, I recently caught up with some dear friends of mine who happened to have moved to Northbridge recently. They suggested we dine at Cervo.

Having never been to Northbridge before (I know!), I was only too happy to check out Cervo.

Cervo is an Italian restaurant located right smack in the suburb of Northbridge. I found out later on that Cervo stands for Stag (in Italian). Which accounts for the decor in the restaurant. There was a humongous stag head propped up against the wall of the section we were seated at.

The walls had art depicting stags but in an elegant manner.

The waiters were very friendly and constantly asking us if all was alright. The restaurant was quite full and had a nice family friendly vibe.

What did we end up having?

Well, we decided to share some entrees. We had the Yamba river prawns with avocado, tomato, chilli and coriander.

And a platter of cured meats with pickled vegetables, olive and cheese.

And bruschetta served on a pizza base. The base was so crispy, absolutely delicious!

The prawns were succulent and full of flavour. And the antipasti was delightful.

For mains, I had the Thyme pappardelle with porcini mushroom and duck ragout. The pasta was deliciously rich with the robust duck flavours coming through. I finished every mouthful.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Dominique Ansel's Cronuts (New York City)

I start this post by stating that I am going to be honest and state up front that I did not intend to queue up for Cronuts when I was in New York City recently. Prior to my departure, I read about the hot new food craze called Cronuts. It was trending in the social media world and I read about the queues to buy them and my curiosity was peaked but not enough to make me want to queue up.

But while I was in New York City, on one of our group walks, I noticed there was a queue of people outside a bakery and looked up the sign to see which one it was. Lo and behold it was Dominique Ansel's Bakery! Imagine how surprised I was to find out that his bakery was literally half a block away from the hotel I was staying at, and even on the very same street, Spring Street.

Then through twitter I had confirmation from a fellow food blogger (thanks to the suz chef) who was in the Big Apple a week before that it was worth the queue to try out this food craze. So one morning, together with a few of my travel mates who were as curious as I was about the Cronuts, we rocked up at 7.00 am and to our horror, we encountered a queue that was a mile long.

Before I continue with this story, here are a few facts. What exactly is a Cronut? It is Dominique Ansel's creation and it is a cross between a croissant and a donut. It has the shape of a donut but with layers of flaky pastry (like a croissant).  Currently, Dominique Ansel has set a quota on how many cronuts an individual can buy. It is 2 per person and he only bakes 200 Cronuts a day. Simple maths says that if a person buys the max, only 100 people in the queue will be able to get Cronuts on any day.
My mates who joined me on day 1
So on that morning, we did a quick count and realised we had missed the cut by quite a lot. We called it quits and stopped by a nearby cafe for coffee. But at the same time I decided to ask the first few people in the queue what time they were there by. The first guy was there at 4.40 am, the 2nd who was a lady was there at 5.20 am. By the way, I think the first guy in line was wanting to offer me his Cronuts for a princely sum. I heard through the food grapevine that these guys were selling their bought Cronuts for 50 bucks! But I ignored his hints and moved on.

More than ever, I was determined to queue up and buy these Cronuts! I couldn't stand the fact that I hadn't got them yet. So on Saturday morning, I got there at 5.50 am and this time I was travel mateless! Yes, I was on my own because the others just didn't have in them to crawl out of bed at that time in the morning. Suffice to say, at that time in the morning I was about the 15th in line but it was nice to know for certain that I was definitely getting Cronuts that morning! Yay! 

A young couple arrived just after I did and we struck up a conversation and next thing you know it's almost 2 hours later. J and E were such a lovely young couple who was in NYC for the weekend. They were from Toronto and we are now connected via Instagram. So through our love of food and our willingness to queue up for Cronuts I made a lovely connection with 2 people who live on the other side of the world.

At 8.00 am, Dominique Ansel himself opened the main doors and welcomed a block of people at a time into his tiny bakery. I was so excited to finally get in and to actually meet the great patissier himself. He was so humble and thanked all of us for coming. I think there was a little rock star celebrity going on and as we queued up to place our orders, people were asking to take pictures with him. So I jumped on the bandwagon too! Why not! :-) So out came my camera and E was kind enough to take the pic! Yay!

The Cronuts were prepacked into a lovely gold box. Very upmarket and very exciting when I got to open up the box.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Cupcakes and More Cupcakes (New York City)

I think the cupcake craze started back when the TV show Sex and The City was the rage and in one of the episodes Magnolia Bakery was paid a visit by the characters of the show and cupcakes were consumed. Cupcakes have not looked back since then and neither has Magnolia Bakery.

But having consumed many cupcakes in many of the bakeries around Sydney, I have yet to really fall in love with any of their creations. Admittedly some have nicer flavours than others but nothing blew me away.

But I was in New York City and I couldn't help myself but check out some of the known bakeries around the Soho and Chelsea areas; admittedly Magnolia Bakery being one of them.

Little Cupcake Bakeshop

This bakery has 3 outlets in New York City. One of them is located on Prince Street in Nolita but it was originally established in Brooklyn in the year 2005.

The shop is small but oh so cute. I liked the little corner shop look and the cupcakes looked so pretty. We visited the bakery on Day 1 of our morning walk and most of the group walked in to have a look. A couple of the ladies decided to share a cupcake and I think they bought a Blue Velvet Cupcake. I refrained from buying as I was intending to have a hamburger for lunch that day. So that morning I didm't actually get a taste of anything from the Little Cupcake Bakeshop.
The Blue Velvets are at the bottom shelf
As we were leaving the bakery, one of the ladies' cupcake fell to the floor with a plomp! Oh dear, she didn't even get a chance to taste the cake. Poor A! But Sami quickly picked up the remnants in a napkin and returned to the counter and they kindly substituted the dropped cake with a brand new one. How kind and cool is that?!?!?

But there is a postscript to this. On my last night as I was in my hotel room packing away, S dropped by and presented me with an early birthday present (mine is not until August). How so sweet of S and so very thoughtful. I was given a Red Velvet Cupcake from Little Cupcake Bakeshop. Sorry but I forgot to take a photo but the memory of this wonderfully sweet moment is with me forever. It was a delicious version and way better than any of the versions I have had in Sydney.

Little Cupcake Bakeshop on Urbanspoon

Little Cupcake Bakeshop
30 Prince Street
New York
NY 10012
Website: littlecupcakebakeshop.com

Magnolia Bakery

How could I not visit this very famous bakery? On the morning we were walking around the Chelsea area, the group stopped by Magnolia Bakery. It was tiny but filled with people. A tiny queue was building up in the bakery and I couldn't help myself but take photos of their special Dexter cupcakes. Very well decorated, don't you think so?

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Ramen Noodle Bars (New York City)

I thought I would attempt to do a series on Ramen Noodles while in New York. My original plan was to hit Momofuku Noodle Bar, Totto Ramen and Ippudo New York but due to lack of available time I could only check out the first two but I think this is enough to make a good comparison.

Momofuku Noodle Bar
I had to check out David Chang's Noodle Bar. Even though it was a hot hot day in Manhattan and after walking about 3 miles from Soho to East Village, it really wasn't appropriate weather to have a hot bowl of ramen but I persevered. By arriving quite late in the lunchtime session, I managed to get a seat at the counter rather quickly.

My order was:

Fresh Ginger Ale - I loved this drink. It really had a great ginger flavour and if I could take a carton of it home I would!

Pork buns with hoisin, scallion and cucumber. This dish was the highlight as far as I am concerned. The pork was so tender and literally melting in my mouth. The savouriness of the hoisin sauce together with the crunchiness of the cucumber slices offset the tender pork beautifully. I now understand why everyone raves about these pork buns.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Pastis (New York City)

Pastis is a French bistro located in the Meatpacking District. That day was coincidentally French food themed. We had breakfast at Balthazar and now dinner at Pastis. The place was full but I am no longer surprised by that. It had a nice vibe when I walked in, very French!

When I looked at the menu, I immediately saw something that perked my interest. What is it about a steak frites that catches my eye every time? Tonight only half the group of ladies attended dinner. The main reason being there was a show that they were going to attend that started about 10.30 pm and would end around 2.00 am so they decided to take a nanna nap before the show. Clever move for them.

I was not attending the show so here I am perusing the menu to work out what I wanted. I did finally decided on Steak Frites with Bernaise and so did NC. I think we both were looking forward to a good piece of steak and some fries.

MA decided to go for the homemade Fennel Ravioli with Spinach, Parmesan and Butter Sauce. She was initially unsure how the dish would turn out but ultimately it was her most favourite dish of the trip so far. She really did enjoy it!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Balthazar (New York City)

One morning, in lieu of breakfast at the hotel, Sami organised a group breakfast at Balthazar. I was very happy when I found out that we would be dining at Balthazar (just before departing for the US trip). It is a very well known French bistro and I was looking forward to some French style breakfast.

Balthazar is on Spring Street and is about 6 blocks away from our hotel. Unfortunately there was some scaffolding in the bistro front so I couldn't get a decent front photo. But when I walked in, it did feel like I was in Paris. The decor and the vibe was very Parisian. The waiters were attired in a French manner and the place was busy for a weekday.

We were given a list of breakfast options and I chose the Brioche French Toast with Applewood Smoked Bacon. Other options available were for example Homemade Granola with Fresh Fruit & Yoghurt, Roasted Pepper and Caramelised Onion Quiche.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

La Esquina (New York City)

This place is another of those that has a deceiving store front. It seriously looks so much like a corner tacos store (extremely unassuming and you wouldn't look at it twice) that you wouldn't know there is a seriously happening place right below it. It is very hard to get into La Esquina. It is so popular and famous celebrities frequent it so it doesn't need to market itself at all.

The only way Sami could secure a booking for us (after trying for weeks and weeks) is if we agreed to a fixed price as our group is considered large. After getting the group's agreement to it, Sami booked it and we are here.

This evening we are having what I would term as a late supper. Our evening started by attending a fantastic musical Kinky Boots (more on non food activities in later posts) and after that we headed here.

Their DJ was playing some great dance music. You couldn't help but want to sway to it! We had to wait a while for our table but as we were waiting I surreptitiously tried to see if I could see any famous faces. It was a little hard to do so when the place was so dark. Note to all: every restaurant we have been to and will go to in this trip is dark, dark, dark! Alas, tonight there were no famous celebrities. I have been told that Madonna and John Mayer likes to frequent this place.

We finally got our table and besides the many margaritas ordered by some of the ladies, here is what we had. An absolute feast!

Ensalada de la Casa - a salad of baby greens, avocado, queso fresco, sesame seeds, tortilla strips with aged balsamic vinaigrette. The vinaigrette was beautifully aged and the tortilla strips provided the much needed crunchy texture. Yummy!

Cangrejo - Lump crabmeat with Mango and Chipotle Mayo

Ceviche - Fish with onion, serrano and cilantro

Bistec - Grilled marinated steak with charred onions and salsa roja

Pollo Rostizado - Citrus-rubbed organic rotisserie chicken with cilantro and salsa verde

Carne Asada con Chimichurri - Char-grilled sirloin with Chimichurri sauce