19 December 2010


If Longrain had a younger Japanese brother it would be Toko. The large wooden communal tables, the never empty private dining room, the swanky bar and music.

It's been a long time coming, but I finally went to Toko. The long, dark room is almost always full so we arrived early before the after work crowd packed in. Cocktails to start of course with some edamame which are warm and salty and great food for thought while looking through the five page menu.

We order the shochu tonics, beri shu and ringo shu served on a stone of ice. Not quite our cup of gin so we move on to the lychee and jasmine mojitos....magic!

Beri Shu
Beri Shu
Icy Mojito
Icy Mojito

After trawling through the menu we make up our minds and order the tempura squid with a soy, chilli dipping sauce, the tempura is crispy and the squid is cooked to perfection.

Tempura Calamari
Tempura Calamari

Next we order a Chef's selection of sushi, sashimi tuna, kingfish, salmon, prawns and squid, all exceptionally fresh.

Chef's sushi selection
Chef's sushi selection

By the time our next few dishes arrive, I'm so hungry I forget to take some snaps.

We order the soy poached chicken with five vegetables, the veggies are my favourite part. But then the teriyaki sweet potato and the miso marinated lamb cutlets arrive and my hunger woes are soon forgotten. The sweet potato is deliciously soft and caramelised and the teruyaki and sesame sauce is divine. But the lamb cutlets are rare and and the smooth chilli miso and pickled eggplants work perfectly with the lambs meatiness.

On to dessert and we weren't disappointed, I even managed to get the camera out again. I ordered the apricot and clotted cream Creme Brulee. The thick conserve like apricot sat chilled under the warm creamy brulee, I didn't want it to end.


Apricot and Clotted Cream Creme Brulee
Apricot and Clotted Cream Creme Brulee

Rhubarb Crumble
Rhubarb Crumble

White Chocolate Panacotta
White Chocolate Panacotta

15 December 2010

cotton duck at Christmas

The call of the Christmas Party was loud and clear and the deadline was fast approaching so we decided on lunch at Jared Ingersoll's new restaurant, Cotton Duck.

Cotton Duck aims at "clever, thought-provoking cuisine taking its cues from the everyday to the abstract". This becomes clear after I try the Corn Pudding - roasted corn and popcorn shoots in a corn broth. A few of my colleagues were skeptical but the pudding is smooth and creamy while the sweet corn adds just enough crunch, everyday food turned abstract.

The house baked bread
The house baked bread

Feeling festive we order two bottles of sparkling red and white.

To begin, along with our corn pudding we order the salmon cured with spice and tobacco, it's served with a side of the tobacco it was cured in. It isn't edible but merely put there for the aroma. The salmon was delicious, soft and fresh with a hint of the tobacco's smokiness. We also go for the pork rillettes, a fan favourite, served with croƻtons and sour cherries and the Saucisson Secs with Cornichons.

For the mains there is a choice of Quail with crispy fried pancetta, sour raisins and green plums, the King Salmon poached in butter with asparagus and lemon walnut sauce, the pork loin and Coffin Bay Mussels cooked in white wine and tomato served with hand cut chips.

While all four look delicious, I only get to taste the Quail. The pancetta is crunchy and works surprisingly well with the green plums and the quail and the raisins are a match made in heaven. Jared's concept is local, sustainable, seasonal produce on a relaxed plate and it shows in every dish.

From all counts the mains are fresh, simple and the produce speaks for itself. For dessert we can't go past the cheese plate with brioche and fruit so we order that for the group along with the Summer pudding and the chocolate tart.

What a delicious way to end the year.


13 December 2010

take me back to Porteno please

The sign out front should say "vegetarians need not apply". Not because there aren't any vegetarian meals, because there is and they're delicious. Case in point the crispy fried brussel sprouts with lentils and mint ($14), for anyone who's never liked sprouts you will walk out converted.

It could be because you walk into Porteno and see pig and lamb carcasses resting on top of the Parilla Grill at temperatures of up to 250 degrees. They have been there for eight hours and I couldn't be more grateful.

This is my second time to Porteno and if you asked me to go again tomorrow I would. The boys from Bodega Elvis Abrahanowicz and Ben Milgate have created something really special. The large space has been fitted out in true rockabilly form and completely transformed from what could be a very empty and drab restaurant.

When you go, do as I say - gather a group of four or more (five if you want to make a booking) and start with a delicious bottle of red we weren't disappointed with the Mil Piedras Sangiovese. Order the olives, house baked bread with the creamy and delicious pork pate and olive oil and then tuck into some tapas until your heart is content.

I've already mentioned the sprouts but we also went for the seared tuna with grilled asparagus and a charred jalapeno dressing($22). The tuna was cooked perfectly and the sauce had just enough kick, the dish was a stand-out to me. We also went for the BBQ eggplant with tahini, pearl barley and preserved lemon($14), reminiscent of baba ghanoush. And finally grilled calamari with pickled green tomatoes and chilli($18), my mouth is literally watering at the thought.

Last but not least, the 8 hour lamb ($42) and pork($48) which you absolutely must order. Melt in your mouth soft but smoky with a crispy crackling served with salsa and chimichurri.

There are four desserts on the Porteno menu and it is impossible not to order all of them so that's exactly what we did. The postre chaja ($14) (below) with caramel sauce, sticky mango and crunchy meringue, the leche quemada a burnt custard (below) and my favourite of the four, the chocolate fondant with banana ice-cream and a summery fresh Pina Colada float with coriander.

06 December 2010

all aboard the Christmas Train

"Dashing through the bush in a dusty Holden Ute, kicking up the dust, esky in the boot!" Just last week I celebrated Christmas the Australian way by jumping aboard the Indian Pacific for the tenth annual Christmas Train. The journey begins in Sydney and travels 4,352km across the continent where it ends in Perth, a route that makes it's way across the expansive Nullabor Plains.

The Nullabor Plains

The Nullabor Plains

Also on board the train were legendary rockers James Reyne and Mark Seymour who performed some of their classics with a few Christmas tunes at each stop usually accompanied by the local school. Every year a different performer comes on board to spread some Christmas cheer performers like Guy Sebastian, Shannon Noll, Jimmy Barnes and Marcia Hines. The stops along the way included Broken Hill, Adelaide, Watson, Cook, Kalgoorlie and Perth.


James Reyne & Mark Seymour

The carriages are small but comfortable and once you get used to the constant rocking, you sleep quite well. Especially after you have been wined and dined at every meal.

Now to the highlight, early every December the indigenous people of Maralinga, now re-settled in the communities of Oak Valley and Yatala, drive 300 km from their remote homes to meet the train at Watson. The train stops, literally, in the middle of the Nullabor with nothing but a tree decorated with tinsel and a seat for Santa.

Santa's chair under the Christmas Tree
Santa's chair under the Christmas Tree
Waiting in Watson for the train to arrive
Waiting in Watson for the train to arrive
Concert in the Outback
Concert in the Outback

With each stop came a new experience, I can't say I've ever been to a town with the population of "20 dingoes, two dogs, four people and three million flies". The family that lives there now runs a gift shop for train travellers and provides a place for the train to stop for water and re-fuel.

Cook - Population: 4
Cook - Population: 4

The trip was an incredible experience, thanks to Great Southern Rail for the chance to join the Christmas trip this year!

15 November 2010

eating, drinking and writing begins again

Ok, I'm back for good. Promise. I've been a hopeless blogger, life is so busy and it's appalling that you haven't heard anything since Sopra!

So what have I been up to?
- I was lucky enough to meet and spend some time with Rene Redzepi. His restaurant Noma in Copenhagen was number one on the San Pellegrino top 50 list and he's just released his first English cookbook called NOMA: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine. The book is published by Phaidon and it's absolutely stunning. And yes this also meant I got to have lunch (cooked by Rene Redzepi) with Matt Preston, a bit of a thrill really.

- I had dinner at Quay and it was nothing short of brilliant, I'll be publishing the post on it soon(ish).

- I spent a week with cook and former food editor of BBC Good Food UK Jane Hornby which was fantastic. Her gorgeous new cookbook is available now and I was lucky enought to get a signed copy.

The aim of Eat Drink Write is and always has been to let you in on my eating endeavours, so from here on out reviews will be the order of the day. Cookbooks, restaurants, bars, cafe's and recipes if I ever get some spare time.
I'd also love to answer any questions you may have - need to know where to eat, what's new and what's unmissable, just ask. I have more experience with each meal.
In the meantime HAPPY EATING and you will hear from me soon.
Bianca xx

08 July 2010

*it'sopra to your tastebuds

In this utterly dismal weather, I've found it difficult to get myself out of ugg boots and trackiesand into the car and out to a restaurant. Believe you me I never thought that I would say that either. But I can tell you I have found a solution to this issue, apart from cooking which I'm actually doing well, who woulda thought!

The solution is....drumroll..........dramatic pause................LUNCH! Genius.

What a blessed event lunch is, honestly such an underrated meal.
Because I have transformed into Madame Recluse at nights, I come out in the day. Very opposite to trend given the vampire hysteria that has hit the world. But this blog is not about vampires or films and thank God, glistening men and teenage angst really aren't my thing at all, I like to eat.

So where was I? Ah yes, lunch. It's cheaper, the sun is shining and with lunch, anything goes, even breakfast. I've found so many great lunch spots lately Deus Cafe in Camperdown for a steak sandwich, Makoto on Liverpool Street for tempura hand rolls and Cafe Sopra.

The cafe, attached to the famous grocer Fratelli Fresh has three convenient locations, Potts Point, Walsh Bay and Waterloo. My mr and I chose Potts Point.

There is a no bookings policy so while waiting in the queue, we had a look at the fresh ingredients on offer and were immediately taken back to our childhood. All the biscuits and sweet drinks, nonna had for us when we came over were there. I knew growing up these nibbles and weird tuna cans didn't come from a normal supermarket, so this is where we can get them now. My mr even bought the blood orange drinks he used to get as a the chubby italian boy.

And the food took us back as-well. We both opted for pasta, which I don't normally order out but I'm glad I did.

I ordered the linguine with olive oil, lemon, parsley, chilli and crispy bits of panagrattato. It was delicious, fresh, light and those crispy bits through-out the pasta sweetened the deal.
Mr ordered the fettucine with gorgonzola, I thought it would be a bit too rich, a thick pasta with a rich and creamy sauce and it was rich but with a bite.
And if you thought those plates of pasta were a carb overload our side of buttery, salted chat potatoes were completely necessary.

This place is definitely worth more than a one-time visit, it's home-food away from home with beautiful fresh ingredients.

*I hope you'll forgive me for it, but I just had to do the whole 'Sopra' /'Opera' play on words, it was completely necessary.

03 June 2010


It's been almost two months since my last post. That right there is appalling. I got a job, which is seriously great but apparently you have no time for life when you start your career. I will, however tell you that:
  • 6 days a week at 7:30, time stands still

  • I've been to Melbourne I ate at Longrain, Brinetti's and Fifteen all exceptional but Longrain was the standout. Although someone must let these Melbournians know, up in Sydney we get brown rice and you need to get with the program.

  • Fifteen, was memorable but mainly for the wine which was incredible and the service which was outstanding.

  • I have an obsession with Movida, I MUST GO! Unfortunately didn't get a chance to go when I was in Melbourne in March, because apparently the city falls asleep on Sunday evening at 6pm.

  • I love Peter Gilmore
  • I've booked Quay wooooo 3 months and counting! We'll be celebrating Spring and I did that on purpose, the produce will be at it's best.
  • Red Lantern in July, a real winter warmer
  • I've tried the new Al Aseel, the service was so-so, the wine list wasn't great but the food was delicious. Take note - babaghanouj, sambousik and their fresh lemonade
  • I've read about 30 Bloodwood reviews which has completely pressured me into pressuring my wonderful partner to take me and quick smart

  • I returned to Pizza E Birra, even more delicious and noisy the second time, partnered with a beautiful Pinot Gris
  • A re-visit to Bill's yum
  • A whole lot more cooking, I can safely say in the last 'almost' two months I've perfected sweet corn chowder and apple crumble. But will never cook with Quail again! Matt Moran you made it look so easy.
I promised some photos and here they are but can I say they are just the beginning there will be more. Somehow photos stored on a camera are easy to lose, but in my defence I have been day dreaming about Quay 12 hours a day.

happy reading
come back soon

09 April 2010

get your hands dirty

I went to a great pizza place recently, Pizza E Birra in Surry Hills.

Tasty food, great company and impeccable service. One thing annoyed me though about this restaurant, everybody was eating this deliciously thin based pizza with a knife and fork.
I'll admit one thing, I began the meal with some cutlery, i'm not a total grub I do understand etiquette. But when I got sick of trying to saw the crust with a blunt knife I threw etiquette out the window and picked the pizza up with my hands. Topping was falling off, but I didn't care, to me my taste buds enjoyed that pizza more than anyone else's that night.

I'm Italian so I feel the right to be able to be able to eat one of our national treasures with my hands and two at that when slices are big. I can assure you nobody noticed me eating like this, they were too busy massacring their pizza slices with a knife and fork.

Some food is just meant for your fingertips.

  • Lebanese food lamb, kafta, baba ghanouj, also my territory is eaten with fresh lebanese bread, we barely use those silver utensils in our full faired feasts.
  • Traditional Indian cuisine, curry and rice picked up with their own version of flat bread, or even just their hands, I'm not kidding the food tastes amazing for it.
  • Ribs, you need a knife to cut down the rack but unless you have a heavy duty grater you are not going to get any meet off the bone without messing up your hands.
  • Pizza, obviously

All i'm saying is some foods don't require cutlery, but don't throw your manners out the window

Happy tasting

06 April 2010

a gourmet day

Following the release of Australian Traveller's "100 Greatest Australian Gourmet Experiences" I felt it was my job, nay my duty to experience each and every one.

How incredible that would be, I thought, to go through this list formed by a team of experts, Australian geniuses such as Maggie Beer, Matt Moran and Jacques Reymond and indulge.

Dreaming got the better of me I must say, which it often does and time and money weren't even a thought, I could and I would do it all.

But thankfully I have realists in my life, who do understand that my appetite gets the better of me. I've been told more times than I can count that my eyes are bigger than my stomach (not just metaphorically either- they're big).

These "realists" care a lot about me, one in particular who whisked me away on a foodie adventure. He does the research, the driving and pulls out the cash, what a man!

The adventure began with number 4, a meal so simple - Fish and Chips on the beach. So we set out in search of THE beach and because I couldn't make it all the way to Phi Phi island with Rainbow Trout and vinegary hot chips - customs would be a nightmare, we opted for Balmoral, officially my favourite fish-and-chips-on-the-beach location.

A yummy salad, the smell of vinegar and the crunch of a great battered fish - perfection.

Mosman's newest deli Fourth Village, was the next stop a delicious foodie haunt complete with deli, bakery, fromagery and cafe. A bit of brie, some antipasti and fresh bread and we were off, not quite sure where our adventure would take us next.
Well actually, I was very sure we were off to Woollahra, home to number 2 on the list Victor Churchill. Known as the Bvlgari of Butchers, this up-market meat market lives up to the hype.
The set-up is amazing, their cut of the day is under constant surveillance inspired the 2008 Louis Vuitton window display. But you need to experience it for yourself. A delicious Croation style smoked prosciutto and Calabrese salami with paprika and we were to home to feast on our goodies.

I knocked two off the list day, 98 doesn't seem so impossible.


23 March 2010

the great debate. Melbourne v Sydney

I've never been to Melbourne and it's a crying shame really. It seems as though it suits me quite well. I've been told by a few that Melbourne is the Food Capital of Australia. So, is it?

New South Wales and Victoria have been in a head on debate on who's the better state since the birth of this country. There was a battle to be the Capital, which was won by someone in between the two and thus the rivalry continued. Melboure hosted the Olympics in 1956, 44 years before "and the winner is Sydney" was announced. There are some titles I believe Melbourne shouldn't have though, the NRL title for example, I can't understand how a state who cares so little for the NSW dominated game (ten teams in our state, one in theirs) can take away the trophy. In the words of a famous Queenslander "Please Explain". But we're not here to talk about Queensland (that's a story you don't want me to start on) or Rugby League. I want to know why Melbourne supposedly trumps Sydney in the food stakes, so I'm off to do some research.

Mentioning this debate in an office full of Sydneysiders, many of whom, attended a wedding in Melbourne on the weekend I recieved some mixed reactions. I will say firstly that Melbourne may have been at a slight advantage as the city was scattered with stalls and markets for the Melbourne Food Festival.
Most in the office said that the cafe's and patisseries are better and basically more of them. When asking about the food one said "it's better." I would still like to research this for myself though. I've seen every almost every part of Sydney and tried and tested the tastes, sights and sounds. So, I'm taking a four day weekend and heading down to Melbourne to do some extensive research into the food culture and maybe even trends in retail, it's a tough job but someone has to do it. I will come back to you with my findings but pretty please tell me your thoughts, I would love to hear!

Bon Voyage

16 March 2010

re: a foodie admission

A true foodie response.

"Hi Bianca, being a food critic is about trying everything once and then holding an opinion on why you do or don’t like it so it needn’t be a huge obstacle. The current editor of The Age’s Epicure section is a vegetarian so it is not imperative that you must be an omnivore. It’s best however to be an omnivore as a critic because you have to direct readers to and from dishes they might enjoy based on objective observation that relies on a body of experience – and for many that means telling them about the chocolate desserts!" - Matt Preston

I didn't think that Matt would read my blog let alone respond to question I put to him, on my previous post "a foodie admission", but he did. He read my blog and didn't hate it I feel like I'm taking step in the right direction, finally.

I have begun to lap up the chocolate dessert since. I've learnt what I do and don't like about certain chocolate dishes and have enjoyed some throroughly...who would've thought? Above all else I will ensure that you, as my reader, will recieve an objective observation, you do after all deserve it and I must learn to like it.

08 March 2010

lunch at l'etoile

French waiters are ready to greet you, as you step through the doors, I felt as though I had been whisked away to a bistro in Paris, kudos to my date for taking care of the whisking.
French food is both romantic and indulgent and I hadn’t even tasted dessert yet. Wine to begin and then the entree was served almost immediately. My order was the mackerel with carrots and kipfler potatoes in a truffle vinaigrette and if that wasn’t delicious enough, my date and I swapped so I could try a French specialty, duck liver pate, onion jam and mustard with sourdough toast.
My expectations were lifted to another level with each course. The butchers steak with Roquefort sauce was cooked to perfection, as was my kingfish. Thinking about it, I just want to whiz back in time for the first bite.
But, the pes de resistance was dessert. My vanilla creme brulee was to die for, the sweet crispy coating cracked into the smoothest most delicious cream. Heaven. I could’ve ordered four more happily, but gluttony is a sin.
Leaving the beautiful Victorian villa where L’etoile is set I forgot I was walking out onto the streets of Sydney.
Pictures to come.

04 March 2010

pre l'etoile

I'm not to sure if you've noticed, but I put up a new post on this site weekly. By 'you', I'm talking about my five faithful followers and anyone else who may stumble upon this blog. Hello and welcome, my name's Bianca and I love food.

This post was a tough one for me because my whole week has been leading up to this Sunday when I will be whisked away for some French dining in Paddington. There has been nothing else, on my mind, in fact, anytime I thought about what I would write all I could think about was the review I'll write next week.

I am going to L'etoile, a gorgeous little Bistro in the heart of Paddington, co-owned by none other than Manu Feildel. Ive never been and have heard amazing things so, the anticipation is killing me. Plus if he's there i'm going to give him a hug.

Well no doubt, when you visit my sweet little page again, you'll hear all about it

until then

au revoir

25 February 2010

spice temple

It took some time to find the entry to Spice Temple, a monogram door on a quiet and dark Bligh Street, opened to a winding staircase which led my Valentine and I to our Sichuan escape.

Spice Temple is apart of Sydney's Rockpool, Neil Perry's world renown Bar and Grill, but a kept secret is around the corner. The 'Cocktail Programme' is 12 drinks, based on the Chinese calendar, suprising ingredients like bitter orange, buttermilk yoghurt and pistachio set the meal up perfectly.

With quite an overwhelming menu and empty stomachs we chose to order the banquet, naturally.
The first few courses of their $69 banquet are intended to open the palate and they did just that. Pickled veggies, cucumbers with smashed garlic and ginger chicken salad in spring onion oil.

The next course and one of my favourites was the steamed eggpland with three flavours coriander, sweet pork and garlic blanched three times said to remove the 'nasty aftermath' it would normally bring. Delicious.

Our table was dimly lit, the mood was elegant and romantic with wooden blinds and splashes of red. Each course is given an explanation on how it should be eaten and why it made it to the menu.

Next came the Hapuka fillet, spicy fried squid with chilli paste, the melt in your mouth wagyu and more, soon feeling as though we could fit not another thing they bring their specialty. Never before have I seen the word 'numbing' on a menu, 'Hot and Numbing pork', strategically put in red on the menu, as are all the fiery hot dishes Spice Temple serves. A pork so hot that your tongue soon becomes numb to the chilli. Don't let that sway it works wonders and some green veggies in their house made oyster are set to follow to quench the fire.

And lastly the watermelon granita, an icy dish with ginger syrup poured over the top.

If you don't like Chinese take away (and I don't blame you) then you'll love Spice Temple.
Book at least 3- 4 weeks in advance and dress for the occasion.



08 February 2010

a foodie admission

I'm going to admit something here and now that might make you shudder, cry or gasp. I don't want you to blacklist me, but its an admission I feel I must make as a food lover and writer.

Ok, here goes: My name is Bianca and I don't like chocolate, *ducks for cover*.
I know, I'm a woman, it should be imbedded in my DNA, but It's not. My friends know not to buy me Easter eggs and my Valentine knows not to buy me chocolates, it's always been this way.

So why must I make such a shocking revelation? In the first season of Master Chef, the now famous Chocolate Mousse Cake made its first television appearance and while everyone was in awe, It didn't appeal to me. Adriano Zumbo is genius and I appreciated the sheer talent of the creator and the intrigue and stir the cake caused. But truth be told, if it were on a menu, I wouldn't order it.

As an aspiring food writer and Master Chef host, it got me thinking. How will I do all of this without a passion for chocolate? Any normal person would've melted at the sight of that cake, why not me? I've tried numerous times to like chocolate, the allure and raw appeal of the stuff is enough to force me to eat it, but there are thousands of things I'd rather eat.

Does this take away from my integrity as a foodie? I don't think so, I know what good chocolate is and deeply enjoy that splash of chocolate across my Max Brenner waffles.
But I thought i'd take it to the top and ask my inspiration Matt Preston, on my quest to becoming his writing apprentice, I will for the first time write to him and keep you all posted on the answer.

Until then, bon appetite


03 February 2010


If you want Thai with a difference you can't go past Longrain, a converted warehouse in the backstreets of Sydney's, Surry Hills. Swanky, fresh and delicious.

Beautiful photographs, the incredible art hanging from the ceilings and the not-so-Thai music are the first to greet you as you walk in, what follows is a slight wait.

The 90 minute wait was expected, arriving between 6:30-7:30 will guarantee a long wait if you are dining with more than two as there are no bookings.
Although the wait isn't ideal, this is the perfect time to indulge in some pre-dinner drinks at the bar. You can't go past Longrains famous cocktails, my pick is the very cleverly named Ping Pong, lemon Vodka, lychee liquer, lime juce and fresh lychees with mint you would think you were in Thailand. Incredible.

The food is sensational. Longrain's buzzy atmosphere and beautiful long communal tables set up an ideal eating experience. It brings the real flavours of Thailand to life with a twist.

Now for my picks-
To start you can't go past the betel leaves, a stack of trout and galangal, mint, chilli and lime juice wrapped up and eaten in single bite.

The Caramelised Pork Hock, melt in your mouth meat cooked in five spice. Served with caramel sauce (but not as you know it) and chilli vinegar.

Squid and Scallop with Blackbeans and Chill- Fresh seafood, Thai veggies and explosion herbs.

Kop Koon Ka and enjoy .


26 January 2010

the art of the order

Thank God for small menu's. I can never understand a large menu, it leads me to think that maybe they're compensating for something

I always wonder what the process of menu making is, why there a eight different titles across four pages plus the drinks menu, my head starts to spin. There is a certain restaurant I go to where this is the case. The food is incredible but after an hour table wait, half an hour choosing my meal and then the food wait I start to re-assess my meal choice. Terrible.

I've been applauded for my ordering abilities, not to brag, but I seem to get it right even if there is a large menu. I've narrowed down three simple rules.

1. Order what you can't make. It's quite simple, a meal you would never dream of making with all the ingredients you love why wouldn't you order it. Restaurant food is very different to home cooking, so take advantage of the outing.

2. Analyse the description. Ask the waiter questions if you don't know what something is, think about your favourite ingredients, what you love to eat and order that way, take your time. Never rush an order, a rushed order is bad order.

3. The best there is. Order what a restaurant is known for, don't go to a Steak restaurant and order the Salmon, chances are it will be lovely but not incredible, amazing and awe inspiring.

The whole restaurant experience should be memorable. Don't be afraid to order something you've never eaten and don't let someone else order for you it's hard on them and it doesn't always pay off.
And lastly make sure you choose the right restaurant, now that is my specialty so stay tuned.

Happy ordering

20 January 2010

espresso yourself

Coffee addict? No. Coffee snob? Possibly.

The coffee culture in Australia has boomed in the last few years. We now expect a better standard than what we have been served, I mean who drinks instant coffee these days?

I love a good cup of coffee, the smells, tastes and sounds, not too mention the rush you get after the first cup of the day it's exhilarating. OK, maybe I'm sounding a lot like an addict right about now, But any coffee lover will agree.

The perfect cup of espresso to me is a piccolo. It has just the right milk to coffee ratio, the perfect strength and not to much froth but just enough it to make creamy.

The piccolo sensation hasn't caught on quite yet and especially not in the USA. While I was over there last year I found a coffee shop that served beautiful organic coffee but only in the form of a cappuccino, latte and black coffee, it was a crying shame. Their strong but nutty blend couldn't properly be enjoyed, so being an ex-barista I jumped the counter to show them the 'piccolo'...success. I brought a little bit of culture to America that day.

A few rules for how to drink your coffee and then I'll let you experience it yourself.

-If you drink a coffee over the 'regular' size. STOP right now in the name of all things caffeinated! More is less, drinking it in any large size just isn't the way God intended.

-Make sure it's hot, nothing worse than a cold cup of coffee.

-Do try all styles to see what you like best. Short blacks are taken like shots in Italian espresso bars and cappuccino's are a breakfast drink. It's up to you to decide if you like extra froth, extra milk or none at all.

- Do try an affogado with hazelnut ice-cream as dessert, bliss if the coffee blend is smooth.

And I'm not a complete snob, I break the rules sometimes chocolate powder is always on top of my piccolo but each to their own.

Happy Drinking

18 January 2010

first foodie steps

My tastebuds are quite clever and, I'd like to think, a little more refined than most. They can tell when something is lacking or when there is too much. They can tell me when I've eaten something that i'll regret eating later. They love chilli, hate cheap chocolate and know when something has been deep fryed in stale oil. My tastebuds know what they're talking about.

I would be selfish if I didn't mention that my tastebuds are genetic. Passed down from my dad. I'd like to preface this by saying, that he and I can have differing tastes and appetites but generally speaking, my passion for food is from him.

The man can eat. Not just little bits at a time either. Not even lightweight foods that digest easily. Carbohydrates are my dad's staple, being Italian, the man can't go a day without bread. His metabolism must work overtime, though because he can eat carbs by the truckload without gaining the weight (I'm thankful for that, it's another thing I inherited from him) .

My dad gave me my first real 'foodie' moments. My first Japanese meal was a defining moment. It was the smallest little restaurant in Leichhardt oddly enough, he ordered the raw tuna steak and seaweed salad and I was in awe. I loved it none the less.

My dad has trotted around Sydney for the best Thai, discovered my favourite dessert in Haberfield, my favourite breakfast in Surry Hills and fish burgers in Concord (don't knock it till you've tried it.) He's spent painstaking hours finding the best Malaysian, Indian, Portugese Chicken burgers and this kind of intense research will probably continue well into retirement.

I'm thankful for all his 'work' lunches and dates out with mum because he's given me inspiration to discover more food treasures all on my own.

14 January 2010

trial and error

To me, cooking is all about trial and error.

It's about little discoveries that may suprise you, my choc chip banana bread is perfection if I don't say so myself but it took many overcooked and undercooked batches to reach this height.

Unfortunately my cooking journey has proved errors occur quite often here are some do's and don't all founded by experience-

- Don't make your own version of chilli infused chocolate. This is best left to the Swiss, namely Lindt.

- Don't brag about your signature dish to everyone and anyone. Chances are when it comes time to make it for people, you will realise you talked yourself up a little too much.

- Don't put your fingers in any sort of bladed electrical kitchen appliance. Please. It seems like common sense, but in the heat of the moment these things tend to slip your mind. I may even have the scars to prove it.

- Don't say you'll get up early Saturday to cook your family breakfast and not come through with the goods. A lot of angry customers will be out to get to you.

- Not everyone shares your (my) zeal for chilli.

- Don't think you're a superstar, oven mitts are always necessary.

- Put your mascara on after you chop the onions

- Ricotta panckaes take time to perfect, Bill Granger is superhuman.

- Baked Ricotta Cheesecake by Papa's is Heaven on a plate (this one's just inspiration)

- And lastly do try cooking new things, a chef is always inventive.

Happy cooking

08 January 2010

A consuming passion

I grew up in two different cultures obsessed by food.

My father is Italian and my mother is Lebanese, so basically I didn't stand a chance.

I love food. How can you not? We have three time periods in each day solely and completely dedicated to eating and I intend making the most of each one of them, and so does my family.

Italians plan their day around eating. Siesta's are conveniently planned after lunch which in our culture, is the biggest meal of the day. When Italians aren't eating food they're talking about food even straight after a meal when everyone is sitting around the table stuffed like pinata's, you are bound to hear "What's for dinner?" Italians are a spirited bunch, arguements are normally about who cooks better than whom and why the penne was late to the table.

And then there's the Lebanese who are so clever about their eating they created Tabouli. You see, parsley is the main ingredient in Tabouli, a herb that is known to counteract garlic and bad breath. I once heard the quote-
"Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good. "
The Lebanese live by this.

I feel lucky though, to have been born into these cultures, one thing they aren't lacking in is passion. Mealtime is more than just eating it's about togetherness, lively conversation and playful banter . But only after the plate is clean.

Happy Eating