Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Battle of the Pizzas

Some experts will have you believe that the secret to a healthy relationship is being adventurous in bed, having a drawer full of sexy lingerie and taking advice from sealed sections in magazines. Other experts will cite making time for each other and pencilling in "date nights" as they key. I have also recently seen a young lass proffer advice that making home-cooked meals for your partner, such as lasagne will get that rock on your finger ladies. Did she mean to set the feminist movement back to cave dwelling times by assuming that is the only goal in a female's life?! Whilst I do believe cooking for your partner makes for romance, I doubt lasagne will be the glue that holds you together... Unless your partner is Garfield.

I scoff at these notions for delivering romance. I offer an alternative which comes in the form of some healthy competition. Junior and I have been having regular "Pizza Offs" for sometime now. It's a game we play where we try to outsmart, outwit and outplay the other through our pizza making skills. Nothing keeps the fire of romance burning like some competitive "Battle of the Sexes" banter over pizza making and then sitting down to enjoy the spoils together!

When we have time (a la up at the farm with an authentic woodfire pizza oven), we make our own dough but sometimes on a weeknight, you don't have the time so we use ready made bases. And before you brand me a heathen, may I remind you we do this for the same reason we all resort to take away sometimes... I really despise thick crusts so the Bazaar pizza bases do a pretty good job.

We each get a pizza base, tomato sugo and the delicious Paesanella Fior Di Latte (Mozzarella)- then the rest of the toppings are up to the individual. On a side note, do yourselves a favour and visit the Paesanella cheese store in Haberfield. Not only will you find an amazing array of cheeses but the this family-owned business has great service and will offer tastings to help you make your choice.

Back to the Battle of the Pizzas. In the red corner- triple smoked ham, spanish onion, pumpkin, chilli flakes and topped with fresh rocket once out of the oven. (Mine was slightly charred after I left it in a smidgen too long- whoops!)

In the blue corner- leftover homemade meatballs with cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and spanish onion.

Verdict: Junior won by a nose with the Meatballs. I concede that using my own meatballs to beat me in the pizza battle was a genius strategy. Well played Junior, well played. Until next time...

88 Ramsay Street
Haberfield NSW 2045
(02) 9799 8483

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Decadent Breakfasts Are the Best

Life is definitely too short to be worrying about rolled oats and bran for breakfast and whilst I appreciate the Heart Foundation  might have something to say about the effects of overindulgence, I think you should spoil yourself a little but often ;-)

Junior often goes for an early morning surf on a Saturday and heads home via Strawberry Cream Continental Patisserie in Darlinghurst to bring me one of my fave breakfast treats- a freshly baked croissant with ham, cheese and bechamel sauce.

As much as I delight in being treated to breakfast in bed, I don't recommend you attempt it with all the flaky pastry flying about. Not on the Egyptian cotton for crying out loud!

The fresh croissant is buttery and moist on the inside with layers of deliciously flaky pastry on the outside. The classic combination of the ham and cheese is perfectly matched with the thick, cheesy and velvety bechamel. Toasted under the grill it gives a fantastic texture contrast of the smooth and creamy bechamel with the crusty cheese and pastry. Heaven...

If you choose to dine in, be warned that the coffee is not that great and neither is the service. Whilst the authentic Gallic touch of only hiring native French girls may delight some of the males amongst us with Amélie fantasies, for the rest of us back here on Earth, it can be a little frustrating when their broken English gets in the way of a croissant reaching my mouth in a timely fashion. And my automatic reaction is almost always "No monsieur, I did not know that Petit Miam is 'IGH in calcium" and I almost always keep it to myself.

As a Savour Tooth it's not really my thing but if you are into Continental pastries and sweets, their selection will more than make up for the lack of coffee making skills. There is a solid selection in this tiny shop ranging from Tart Au Citron to Crème Brûlée and macarons.

Verdict: Oui to lovely take away delights. Non to a dine in experience to remember.

Strawberry Cream Continental Patisserie
336 Victoria Street
Darlinghurst NSW 2011
(02) 9356 3122

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Summer if definitely a time to Rosé

With the beautiful weather upon us, I am looking forward to many a chilled glass of rosé whilst sitting outside, looking at the ocean. We are very lucky that Australia makes world class rosés especially our friends down in the Barossa Valley in South Australia. Did someone say road trip?!

In the spirit of celebrating my love of rosé, I thought I'd make a few recommendations. Would love to hear any of your faves too so feel free to comment.

Turkey Flat- Rosé (Barossa Valley, SA)

Of all the rosé drinkers around, most will agree that Turkey Flat's Rosé is up there with the best. This wine has complexity with sweet berry-liciousness and a lovely dry finish. It is a grown up rosé with many elements on the palate and would satisfy even the non-rosé drinkers amongst us. Made from Grenache, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Dolcetto, this wine is a beautiful bold reddy pink and oh so very drinkable.

I would recommend this refreshing wine to be enjoyed on its own or with light meals like salads, antipasto plates and perfect with seafood.

Verdict: When you find it on special, stock up and stock up good. You will be very popular if you bring this little gem along to dinner or a party with friends- that's if you can bear to share it!

Langmeil- Bella Rouge Rosé (Barossa Valley, SA)

My Dad is the Mr Miyagi of Wine and my wine mentor. He has a freakishly good palate which amazes me constantly. Over the years he has introduced me to many different wines but this is definitely a stand out. I have such a soft spot for it that in some ways no rosé can compare.

Made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes this rosé is a gorgeous deep and velvety red colour and darker than most rosés. It is a fuller bodied rosé and I always get a 'kir royale' kinda feeling when I drink it.

Verdict: Yum num num num num. Online purchasing recommended.

Tin Shed- All Day Rosé (Barossa Valley, SA)

True to its name, you can drink this drop all day, everyday, 24 hours a day. I first discovered this drinkable gem when living in Manly and visited the Bavarian Bier Cafe one sunny Sunday afternoon. Since that day there has been some intense abuse of this wine by my friends and I.

The wine itself is a dark blush as a result of extended days in barrel. There is a combination of Grenache, Sangiovese, Mourvedre and Shiraz in this wine. There is a lolly like sweetness that can be on the sweet side for my palate but the wine itself is well rounded enough for the sweetness not to take over, with a nice clean finish. Not incredibly complex but a very pleasant drop to enjoy with almost anything food wise- red meat, chicken, fish or even a nice dessert.

Verdict: Good all rounder for all occasions

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Going Down to Chinatown

Here is a back dated post from a few weeks back...

Being half Chinese and born in Hong Kong, my version of fast food normally comes in the form of a steaming hot bowl of noodles from Chinatown. There are some great little food courts in Chinatown and which one you chose depends on what you are craving. As I was craving a good laksa, Junior and I decided to head to one of my favourites, Sussex Centre Food Court for a quick bite to eat before a movie. Whilst there are many places in Sydney to get a great Laksa, I'd have to say the Happy Chef at Sussex Centre Food Court is a consistent deliverer of quality flavoursome Laksas and they have never let me down in the years I have been going there.

This particular instance, I chose the Spicy Beef, Tendon and Tripe Laksa. Offal tends to be poo poo'd by most Westerners but it's is a real treat when it's done right. The spicy beef is a slow braised brisket which melts in your mouth, with the soft yet firm texture of the tripe to balance out the bitey tendon. Mmmmmm...

Junior's new favourite noodle dish is a old fave of mine and my family's. I know it as Gohn Chow Ngau Hor but I think in English if you order Stir Fried Beef with Rice Noodle, you 'should' get the same thing. I say 'should' because I tend to order Chinese food in Cantonese as that's is the only way I can articulate what I am after. When translated into English it's all over the shop especially at Yum Cha... drives me nuts! The only thing you need to make sure is the type of Rice Noodle they give you- Hor Fun in the thick, flat rice noodle. Like many great Chinese dishes, this is super simple and satisfying and so easy to get wrong in the execution.


The noodles are skillfully tossed in a dark soy sauce so that it achieves a slight caramelisation just before getting burnt. Tender, thin slices of marinated beef are added to the noodles with onion, garlic chives, bean sprouts and topped with sesame seeds. Devour with some chilli paste and it is so so sooooo good. My Dad's version is always a crowd fave and I can assure you that if you snooze, you are sitting there with an empty bowl. It's that simple!

Satisfied with a belly full of oodles of noodles, we saw this on display in Sussex Centre. A GIANT mooncake. Mooncakes are part of the celebrations of the annual Moon Festival (also commonly known as Mid-Autumn Festival). Moon Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar (this year it was 3rd October 2009).

Mooncakes are typically round and about the size of your palm. Inside the pastry is a lotus seed paste encasing a salty duck egg yolk to represent the moon. The lotus seed paste is very sweet and I can assure you that the duck egg yolk is an acquired taste. One I have not managed to get my head around to be honest.

As you can see from the size of Junior's hand, the Mooncake was HUGE indeed!

Verdict: Definitely go to Happy Chef next time you are looking for a soothing, satisfying laksa and unless you can convince my Dad to fry you some noodles, then most of the wok noodle places in the food courts in Chinatown will do the Gohn Chow Ngau Hor justice!

Sussex Street Centre Food Court
401 Sussex Street
Haymarket NSW 2000

Friday, November 13, 2009

Breakfast of Champions

After a little hibernation over the past month, I owe this blog some much needed attention. Lucky I have some post ideas and photos banked up so time permitting I hope to get my blog on more regularly from now on.

As my weekend breakfasts with Junior are amongst my most favourite things, it seemed fitting to return to the world of blogging with what could potentially be our new favourite local breakfast joint. I had been meaning to give Forbes & Burton a whirl for quite some time now and I am glad I did.

 For us double macchiato drinkers, the quality of the coffee is a crucial element to our brekkie reviews and the fine barista at Forbes & Burton did a fantastic job with the first coffee, however the second had a bit too much milk going on but at least made for a great pic!

Our food arrived very promptly even though the place was full which was a welcomed surprise as one becomes accustomed to having at least 2 coffees and read a whole section of the SMH for weekend brekkie at popular places. Another big tick.

As you can see the servings are generous and I can attest not at the expense of the quality. My scrambled eggs were perfectly cooked as was the wilte spinach and the Sonoma sourdough was divine (mmmmm... sourdough). The bacon was ever so slightly undercooked for my liking as I like it cooked just short of crunchy. Having said that, I managed to get MAJOR food envy when Junior's arrived.

How good can poached eggs with roasted mushrooms, bacon and sourdough toast be, I hear you ask. Damn good when the egg is cooked like this...

Verdict: I am on a mission to get all Eastside City dwellers to try this place at least once. It is definitely my new favourite. May well see you there this weekend. Lunch menu also looks divine so look forward to checking it out!

Forbes & Burton
252 Forbes Street (corner Burton Street)
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Phone: (02) 9356 8788
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