Saturday, 28 February 2015

Blacksmith Catch Ups

I can finally say I've visited the Surry Hills cafe scene after weeks of seeing blog reviews, the top Sydney cafe lists and of course every second foodgram from fellow brunch bloggers!

We hit Blacksmiths cafe on Chalmers Street and got hooked up with a small window table, ordered then were left in peace to admire the industrial decor. The creative menu is defs worth a mention too! Nowadays who wants to order from a simple, ordinary piece of paper! One look to our right (we didn’t ‘See a Hollywood sign’ like Miley Cyrus) was a green view of Prince Alfred Park to watch the day go by!

There's just something about Surry Hills that's so close to the bustling city but at the same time so slow moving and relaxing!


We came during the late lunchtime when it was winding down and ordered the chicken baguette ($13.50) and tricolor quinoa ($16 - because who doesn't love quinoa)! The lunch menu touches all tastes but doesn't dally on one sort of dish which makes for great choice of dishes that are uniquely different. The most choice you have is your baguette!


The quinoa - no offense baguette-  looked PERFF in all its tricolour glory!! It did come out looking slightly less in the terms of the actual quinoa versus other ingredients than I expected as I've had the pleasure to acquaint myself with quinoa dishes of other eateries at slightly lower rates - a bit of a player I know :P . But it was fresh and still the perfect serving size leaving me full but not heavy with the sweet pomegranate, non OTT salty goats cheese and amazing date vinaigrette. This was one of the best quinoa combination of ingredients that I have tried so I was happy inside and out by the end of it! 


The baguette was glitzed up with fresh salad and homemade sauce so you weren't just having chicken in a bread roll. The chicken was succulent and easy to eat with cutlery without making a large scene (always a plus!)

Fresh, healthy and fulfilled was how we left! We will definitely come again, this time for the cakes which looked so good as we were checking out (not sure if we'll be leaving with that same healthy feeling the next time)! It makes for such a good catch up place for friends towards the late lunchtime so you can update on all the gossip and what not, talk animatedly for ages (the food won't go cold and hard on you) and also good exercise for the neck as you look around at the decor! (The toilets were pretty cool too :D )

Walking past the counter towards the back are some pretty authentic and practical touches to the industrial theme with the sacks of baker's flour and strange machines and contraptions (my guess is something Blacksmith related?). If we weren't talking we spent most of the time checking out the cool ceiling in a non-awkward way - there's such a nice contrast with the greenery, hanging pot plants and the tin lights. 


To Surry Hills..... doing it right since the 1790’s

Three Word Summary: Rustic, Authentic, Contemplative
Ambience 5/5
Fare $$
Service 5/5
Foodwise 4/5


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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Vietnamese food that isn't PHO?!

Let's get a little cultural and adventurous. When you say Vietnamese food. We say Cabramatta and Canley Heights. We're not always keen to head in the westerly direction but you'll be kidding yourself if you think you're enjoying authentic Vietnamese cuisine in the city (there are few exceptions)! This could be the next road trip with friends!

As suggested by mum, we paid a little visit to Huong Xua on 208 Canley Vale Road for a slightly different kind of Viet food.

The restaurant specializes in dishes with Oc which is Vietnamese for sea snails! A little French vibe oui? Well that made ordering a tad easier - just order the specialty.

And the reason we wanted to share this food outing was to show that there's more to Vietnamese cuisine than good ol' Pho soup and noodles! We're not hating on the Pho (we couldn't flick past it on the menu) but we just wanted to show something new. Pho we will save for another day don't you worry!

We ordered Bun Oc (pronun. Booo-m Op), not in the soup for but as dry form (you can choose between the two) which came with vermicelli noodles and bowl of soul with the sea snails to dip with a side salad. Everything tasted fresh and light - it was really satisfying. 

We also called for pork Hu Tieu (pronun. Who Teew) in soup form (thin flat glass noodles in pork broth) which the noodle was just a little chewy just as it should be and the broth was light but deep in flavour at the same time!

Here’s a little step by step on how to eat your Bun Oc (kind of like Oreo - dip and enjoy!):

How else do you end a Vietnamese dinner out than with the traditional dessert Che! We only had to cross the road before we were seated outside with our orders taken. There was simply only one choice on our minds: Che Thai

I'm not sure about the English translation but I can tell you what's in it: cubed fruit salad, agar jelly, mung bean, durian, lycée, sweet coconut milk and topped with shaved ice

Usually durian is too hard core for me but I can always manage it here only for some reason! Che Thai is always a personal fav of mine (I’m not even sure how it gets the ‘Thai’ in its name – just don’t take it too literally) and here is the best cafe I’ve had it at.

We were beaming inside by the end of the night – such great Vietnamese food to explore all the time even for us Viet sistas.
Until next time!MVPD

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Friday, 20 February 2015

Shine bright like a Blackstar Pastry

Blackstar pastry I’ve visited before to try the frangipani tart which was delicious with its crumbly crust and sweet flowery scent but today we were on a mission far bear witness to the all-hailed Strawberry Watermelon Cake ($7.50) and finally taste this ~420 cm3 mystery and prove whether the “Best things are [indeed] the Small things”.

We walked into the cafe and had eyes for nothing else, scanning the displays for any word of “watermelon” without looking too objective. I love the outdoor seating at Blackstar, chatting while seated side by side with friends and the occasional swoon down to enjoy your cake and coffee. You’re so close to other fellow cake-lovers, acknowledging them with smiles as you eloquently scramble out to secure your seat and I guess that’s what I love about the Newtown area – the random interactions with friendly folk!

There’s fresh, juicy goodness of the watermelon layer in between the fluffy rosewater cream and sponge and the jello-ed strawberries and pistachios at the top, that is, if you are skilled enough to get all layers onto your spoon in one clean swipe!

I must say there's too much hype about it for what its worth for a moderate sweet tooth like me. But presentation looks divine, atmosphere is lazy and on point and hey, cake is everyone's cuppa tea!


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Thursday, 19 February 2015

Happy Lunar New Year, love sydney

You notice all the red about the city recently? No, it not in anticipation of some pagan sacrificial offering! Its the official start of the Lunar Calender, and being Asian myself isn’t the only reason I’m up for seconds in the New Years department- because who doesn’t like a good party. 
This year Sydney siders were indulged with a spectacular light display at Dawes Point, right under the Harbour Bridge. Sentient terracotta warriors stood to attention in their neon get-ups that ranged from hot pink to the most blinding yellow. The instalment attracted soo many people of a range of cultures and backgrounds last night, which gathered an aire of excitement and genuine joy that was intoxicating.

On to dessert though, we went to “Meet Fresh” which is a Taiwanese desserts place on the edge of the main strip of Chinatown. Its bustling employees and cozy-cramped interiors mirrors the food culture I associate with an Asian country which is handy in drowning out awkward silences. Nevertheless it’s a family favourite and last night it was a great way to ring in the “second new year.”
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Thursday, 12 February 2015

Quinoa Queen

Quinoa is just one of those things I've discovered a little too late in my life (to late for my liking, that is, I'm still young). It's always easy for me to order brunch when there's Quinoa on the menu - it's Quinoa or nada but of course when its not on the menu the ordering time sky rockets!

I was even more scared to try and recreate Quinoa salads at home but finally (with the holidays coming to a close) I have finally attempted it. I didn't really search for a specific recipe because in reality, anything (must be reasonable enough) can be tossed and enveloped in the Quinoa goodness! All I had to do was search for leftover veggies and the vinaigrette recipe (which there are endless!).

Without further ado this was my fancy lunch for today - If I could make it on my first go, you will be glorious!

Summery Quinoa with roast veg, mango and red wine vinaigrette

Ingredients (Serves 3)

1 teaspoon oil, for frying
1 garlic clove, finely diced
1/2 C toasting Quinoa (or any quinoa of choice)
1 C water

Salad add ins (anything really - go for your life):
1 sweet potato (kumara), chopped and roasted
2 canned whole beetroots, chopped
6 pitted dried dates, chopped
1/2 avocado, sliced
1/2 small mango, chopped

Red wine vinaigrette:
1/8 C red wine vinegar
1/8 C olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pinch salt
1 pinch dried oregano leaves
1 grind of pepper
Bought this from Dr Earth in Newtown but not
sure what makes it "toasting Quinoa" :P
Best to follow packet instructions for different Quinoa! 

1. Soak Quinoa in water for 30 mins

2. Drain and rinse the Quinoa

3. Add oil to saucepan and fry your garlic until golden and fragrant

4. Now add your Quinoa and allow it t toast and become golden

5. Add the water and bring to a immer

6. Cover with the lid and simmer for 15 mins or until water all absorbed

7. After all water absorbed, give it a fluff and rest it with lid to cover

8. For the vinaigrette, just combine all dressing ingredients in small bowl :)

9. Begin with a bed of Quinoa

10. Pretty self explanatory, in goes the salad add ins with a drizzle
of the vinaigrette over the top!

11. Photo moment before you dig in!

I need to work up the ranks a little before I truly become Quinoa Queen but for now there are no excuses! That was almost dead easy! The only hiccup may come from the cooking of the Quinoa but you should be all G if you follow the packet instructions!

I challenge you to take advantage of the seasonal produce and to add bursts of colous! Try another vinaigrette is red wine is not "your thang".

It's been fun making this today! Feel a little fancy today - you can only go so long with the microwave as your weapon for lunch :P


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