01 September 2011

a foodie five post - efendy

I've always wanted to visit Efendy, I love Turkish food and I've heard oh so many good things, so when the opportunity arose to visit for the Foodie Five, I jumped at the chance. 

This month on the Foodie Five we're tackling Turkish food and all that comes with it, check out our video review. 

Bianca xx

25 August 2011

a song for reuben

'Is it the look of your rye
Or is it your soft wagyu?
Who cares Reuben, I think I wanna gobble you.'

Reuben sandwich- wagyu salt beef,  Swiss cheese,
dill pickles, sauerkraut and mild mustard  mayo
Yes, I am singing about a reuben sandwich to the tune of a Bruno Mars hit. I'm gen y and that's just how I roll.

And roll I did, out of the food court and back into work after a quick lunch dash to Reuben & Moore. A fine sandwich establishment located conveniently at the top of the escalator in the Westfield Pitt St, level 5 food court.

There are so many dining options on level 5 from dumplings at Din Tai Fung to burgers at Charlie and Co  and pies at Mick's Bakehouse. Plus, they've added more dining options to level 6. 

The reuben will always be a favourite though. Memories of my first ever reuben experience take me back to Spring in New York city - the home of the not so humble sandwich.


16 August 2011

introducing the foodie five files

To make it a little easier for you all. Check out the promo video for The Foodie Five Files!

Stay tuned for our first culinary adventure



my radelaide adventures part 2 - celsius restaurant

Set on Gouger Street, a well-known culinary strip in the heart of Adelaide, Celsius stands out. A big glass door next to their large sandstone sign, metal letters and that wow factor doesn't stop when you walk in. The room is dark and my eyes are instantly directed to the long communal marble table lit up from the inside out in the middle of the room. 

The striking sign on gouger street
We are seated and instantly served. Champagne? Yes please. Within moments the waiter has brought bread and butter to our table including a vibrant green parsley butter.

Bread with butter and parsley butter
We've decided to order a la carte and not go for the very tempting degustation. The entrees came out looking absolutely beautiful and pretty as a picture.

Jerusalem artichoke, pumpernickel, chicken skin, garlic shoots
This reminded me of a lake with lilypads, the chicken skin was crispy and light and the Jerusalem artichokes were creamy. The broth had a wonderful depth of flavour but it came out warm and not really hot which is what you expect from a broth on a freezing winter night but that may have been intentional.

Raw kingfish, kohlrabi, radish, finger lime
This was such an elegant looking dish, you can tell the chef is ex Noma with a plate like this one. I loved the raw elements especially that fresh kingfish and pink radishes which came together really nicely.

Quail, prosciutto, pumpkin, olive liquorice, lemon, coffee
I love quail and I can't go past it on a menu. It could be because I never quite cook it well at home so when I go out I look forward to a well cooked bit of quail. The skin was very crispy but my favourite part was the aniseed flavour that was present in quite a few elements of the dish, that crumbly olive liquorice and those caramelised bits of fennel complimented the salty prosciutto and tender quail really well.

Slow cooked milk fed Suffolk lamb, black garlic, baby carrots
This was such a generous dish. Two large pieces of perfectly cooked and seasoned lamb and just enough of the black garlic to go around. It had a beautiful sweet, caramelised flavour and was a highlight alongside the lamb, carrots and greens.

Pork belly, calamari, eggplant
Those are three magic words in my vocabulary and put together in a dish this attractive was magic to my ears. Can pork belly ever be bad? Well, probably but this one wasn't, crispy, tender and slightly salty as it should be. We found a few pieces of the calamari to be quite tough which was disappointing as it would have come together quite nicely otherwise.

Venison, forest mushrooms, chestnuts, celeriac
I may not have mentioned that I was dining with two of my wonderful girlfriends who were apalled by my choice of venison. I really like venison, it's another one of those meats that you rarely, if ever will cook at home so I tend to order it when I'm out at establishments like Celsius.

The forest mushrooms were tender and quite juicy, the chestnuts were and creamy and that celeriac was a welcomed addition to my plate. The venison was actually quite large and I found it quite difficult to get through but it was oh so tender and tasty.

We didn't even get to dessert as it was really late in the evening and we were all so full after our hefty main meals. I would definitely go back to try a few things I missed out on and would go for a degustation which is quite a good price at $85.00 for 5 courses and $120.00 for 8 courses.


So, a quick question for you readers, have any of your friends questioned your food choices?

On another note, I will be contributing to a wonderful new blog called The Foodie Five Files. Check out our first post and video bio! http://foodiefivefiles.blogspot.com/ 

03 August 2011

you're a doll

There are close to hundreds of restaurants I'm dying to try in Sydney. So finally, when the opportunity arises to go anywhere I want, why am I so stumped?

I could list them all to you now, one-by-one like some food obsessed blogger or something....oh wait. 

I found myself free, a Sunday evening, a willing companion and Sydney's food scene as my oyster. Cancelling out the restaurants that are booked up till the next season of MasterChef starts and the ones that have been on MasterChef and don't take any bookings. Well I guess the options weren't endless. But then I thought of the ones that have been around for a while, that I have always wanted to try. 

China Doll is once such place. Their motto should be "China Doll, where the crockery is pretty and the food is damn good." Ok, so it's clear I won't be hired as their copywriter but I would eat there anyway. 

When you see their menu, you'll want to take the easy option and order the banquet but buyer beware - there is no banquet for two.

Apparently it's too much food for two. Clearly they didn't know who they were dealing with. 

We tried to convince the waiter we would be fine, but to no avail so they offered us the option of ordering half serves of their entrees and a few of their mains. Compromise is a beautiful thing. 

The pretty plates
My chilli plate
It could have been the fact that I kept asking what dishes were chilli that gave away my obsession, so our lovely waiter brought me my very own plate of chilli. Sriracha, fresh chillies with soy and dark chilli paste.

Sashimi of Hiramasa kingfish and ocean trout with blackened chilli dressing
This was quite possibly one of the best sashimi dishes I've had in a long time. The sauce had a clever mix of chilli, sweet and sour and the sashimi was layered on crispy, thin apple slices. Both styles of fish were fresh and easy to eat and went down a treat with the pickled ginger.

Chilli salt squid
A much nicer rendition of salt and pepper squid. I loved the crispy salt crust but the chilli didn't quite hit the mark for me, I actually couldn't taste it, lucky I had my trusty chilli plate to help with that. 

2 types of dumplings
So I'll admit this isn't a great photo but once I opened the dumplings, my camera lens would get all steamy. I wasn't going to make my date wait any longer and I didn't want to wait either, I'm a dumpling fiend.

We ordered the Steamed Dumplings with prawn and green soy bean served with tobiko and red vinegar and also the Shu Mai, another steamed style dumpling with prawn, pork, scallop and shitake mushrooms served with chilli oil.

They were both soft and the stuffing was heavenly but those shu mai were my favourite, you could taste every element especially the whole scallops and shitake mushrooms. Truly beautiful.

Crispy pork belly with chilli caramel and nam pla prik
This dish was oh so on the money. Crispy tender pork belly in a sticky, spicy caramel sauce plus the nam pla prik sauce which put simply is fish sauce and chilli. The combination clearly works perfectly and I'm going to have to give this a go at home or I'll be spending all my time and money here. 

Wok fried Asian eggplant and tofu with Sichuan chilli bean paste
I'm going to come clean and say my motive behind ordering this dish came down to, two simple words - Sichuan chilli. It helped that there was eggplant because then my date was on board too.

The sauce was quite sour but balanced quite well by the creamy eggplant and tofu and it had just the right amount of spice, nothing too hot. I like my chilli to be bearable.

There was one other dish ordered, the Panang curry with slow cooked wagyu beef shin. I wish I got a photo of this but I was enjoying it so much I forgot. Valid excuse right? The beef fell off the bone with one tap of the chopstick and melted away in my mouth with the beautiful smooth panang sauce.

You don't need a photo though because it's a must try the next time you're heading to China Doll. Did I mention that it's set on Woollomooloo Wharf, good food and a view? That's rare.


26 June 2011

the best way to start the day

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, well it's true and it's one of my favourite meals too. It's hard to pass up a great breakfast especially when it's coming from the kitchen of Bridget Davis (@bridget_cooks), The Internet Chef and brand new owner of Montgomery Street Cafe along with her partner Mahei (@iconic88)

Bridget has worked in kitchens all over New Zealand and Sydney including Bills, the iconic Sydney cafe known for serving a truly beautiful brekky. But I'm not here to talk about Bills because @mostreetcafe you will receive more than a delicious meal. The setting is gorgeous, @mostreetcafe is in a stunning building on a quiet street in the southern Sydney suburb of Kogarah. Thank goodness for a new cafe in South Sydney! This takes no time at all for me and my Mr to get to and this new cafe is a welcomed new addition to our side of town. 

Montgomery Street Cafe 
As soon as we walk in the friendly staff seat us and quickly get started on our coffees, which we are extremely grateful for. Coffee can make or break a breakfast experience, especially when it's the first cup of the day. I look forward to the rush you get from the very first sip, yes a lot rides on this cup. We're pleasantly surprised to receive our strong Campos blend piccolos.

Campos piccolo's
Drinking our coffee's gives us plenty of time to take in the gorgeous interiors in this cafe. Not only do they serve a great brekky but they also serve light lunches and will soon do cooking demo's. Is there anything that @bridget_cooks can't do? 

The light filled room
We've finished our coffee's and like clockwork our breakfast arrives, we share more than a few of our favourite things. How can you resist a meal that starts with "the best mo fo scrambled eggs"?

The best mo fo scrambled eggs with toasted sourdough, smoked chicken rashers and soy, mirin and ginger braised mushrooms
The best mo fo scrambled eggs with a house cured salmon crostada, sustainable caviar and spiced roasted tomatoes with fresh ricotta and mint
These eggs really are the best you can get, creamy fluffy and what I love is there is no need for salt and pepper, they are seasoned perfectly. On another note, I was excited to have found a cafe who serves wholegrain sourdough, I'm a little biased, it's my favourite kind of bread but it is better for you right? The Mr comments that they are two pretty large slices of bread and he's relieved that for once he has enough bread to go around (I've mentioned before he's Italian right?)

The great thing about  @mostreetcafe is the way you build your brekky. You start with your choice of eggs, scrambled or fried and then you add on all the sides you would like. The mushrooms have a beautiful flavour with their mix of soy, ginger and mirin, they are slightly sweet and well-cooked. The smoked chicken rashers are a welcome change from the usual bacon as they are just as smoky and even more delicious. The tomatoes are roasted and almost dried and I love the combination of spices  including crunchy fennel seeds with the fresh mint and ricotta. Lastly just a little bit of indulgence for the start to your day, the house cured salmon and caviar with a conscience. 

Brown butter griddle cakes with a lemon honey butter, mojo syrup and seasonal fruit
These should be called "banging brown butter griddle cakes..." they are absolutely dreamy. We weren't sure what seasonal fruit we would receive but we excited to see a mix of apple and rhubarb on our plate. The acidity from both fruits worked so well with the sweet buttery goodness of these cakes. 

Just in case you wanted to see that mojo syrup
The lovely @bridget_cooks from www.theinternetchef.biz
If you haven't taken the trip down to Montgomery Street Cafe, it's definitely time you did. They have the formula down pat, a beautiful setting, friendly staff, great coffee and really really really good food. Could there be a better way to start your day?

52 Montgomery Street, Kogarah

15 June 2011

my radelaide adventures pt 1 - Andre's

This long weekend I managed to dodge the ash cloud and take a trip down to the city of churches. Being in a job where I am surrounded by all things South Australia, I thought it was time I discovered Adelaide for myself.

I consider myself a bit of a planner (possibly a control freak) so the weeks leading up to my weekend away were spent researching restaurants, wineries and all the foodie things to do and as it turns out, SA is a foodie's paradise.

Andre's Cucina & Polenta Bar was the first restaurant stop on my carefully detailed itinerary. First impressions last and my first ever introduction to polenta wasn't great. Before Andre's I had never had good polenta plus I always thought of it as "Northerner food" which you can blame on a Sicilian upbringing. I grew up with the steadfast belief that Southern Italian food is just better and it is in most cases (you can't take Sicily out of the girl) but I consider myself an open minded Southerner so I booked Andre's in the hope of being converted. 

Andre's bar
We have quite an early dinner booking as we want to make it in time for the opening night of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. The greeting at the door was lovely when it eventuated, it seemed as though the restaurant wasn't quite prepared for us as it took quite a few minutes for someone to seat us. After being seated the waiter was lovely and suggests we choose a few starters, entrees and two mains to share as the food is made for sharing. 

Fritto misto di mare
We start with a bit of a crowd pleaser, delicately fried seafood with lemon aioli. It came with battered calamari, whole baby prawns and sardines (a personal favourite). The frying really was delicate, not over oily and super crispy especially those whole baby prawns.

Piattata di salumi misti
If you aren't drooling at the site of this delicious plate of antipasti, there is something seriously wrong with you (in the nicest way possible of course). To me, nothing is better than a plate of fresh Italian salumi, you know you're Italian when the sight of this is more appealing than a plate of chocolate. This plate was a mix of prosciutto crudo, mortadella, salame, porchetta, cacciatore, bresaola, lombo and guanciale finished with a drizzle of notably great extra virgin olive oil and fresh bread (another weakness of mine). 

Swordfish carpaccio with zucchini lemon, grapefruit and chives
This swordfish was as pretty as a picture (although my picture doesn't do it justice). The uber fresh swordfish was wrapped around zucchini and finished with a light lemon and grapefruit dressing. It was a great way to finish off our entrees because it was so fresh and easy to eat amongst some of the heartier dishes. 

Polenta with duck ragu in bianco and roasted chestnuts
Now onto the polenta, I will admit I was skeptical but this was genuinely delicious. The polenta was smooth, creamy, and not even the slightest bit grainy and the duck ragu was cooked beautifully so that the duck was soft and tender. I love chestnuts and they were a beautiful addition to this. I haven't had them in a while and soon as I tasted them  there was instant memories of eating them warm on a Winter's night after my nonno had roasted them outside.

SA prawn and bug meat ravioli with cauliflower, beetroot and pancetta
Now the lovely ladies I was dining with commented on the serving size of this dish and it was quite small if you are sharing. The pasta was al dente, the filling was so meaty and genourous and I loved the cauliflower but the beetroot was a little confusing, I'm not sure how well this worked with the dish. Apart from that, the ingredients were noticeably good quality.

We didn't get to order dessert as we grabbed the bill, payed and rushed out the door in time for the festival. I would definitely return to Andre's when I'm back in Adelaide, it was home style Italian food done exceptionally well. Plus I can now say I have been converted, Andre's polenta has changed the mind of a stubborn Sicilian. 

06 June 2011

a little wait for Billy K

Call me crazy if you like but I have been known to wait 2 hours for a table at a restaurant more than a few times.

This night was not unlike those times. I've tried to get a table at Billy Kwong on a Saturday before but unless you are there lining up from before 6pm, it is highly unlikely you'll be eating before 10pm. So this time I committed to the wait from the very beginning. We lined up from about 6pm to be told that we would get a call in two hours for a table. I can't believe I haven't been to Billy Kwong, it's always been on the list but something else always comes up.

We jumped across the road for a snack and a drink at the nearby pub and waited. We were starving, so yes we ate twice, don't judge.

After perusing the menu and trying hard to read the specials (they are hand written in running writing) we decide on our first meal.
Pork belly pancakes
I love DIY pancakes and this pork belly was soft and tender but our favourite was the tamari sauce, it was sweet and sticky, a truly beautiful combination of flavours.

Pork sung choi bow with chilli and fresh herbs
What's not to love about sung choi bow? This version ticked all the right boxes, tasty pork mince, bean sprouts not to mention a fresh chilli paste and a handful of fresh herbs. I especially loved the fresh dill and mint it took the dish from ordinary to a-mazing!

Steamed prawn dumplings with organic brown rice vinegar
If you've ever been to Eveleigh markets on a Saturday morning, you have probably seen Kylie Kwong at her stall making fresh omelette's and serving up delicious dumplings. If you haven't been, cancel this Saturday's plans and get yourself down there, two words...foodie mecca! I've had these dumplings before at the markets Her prawn dumplings are incredibly soft and I love them with the brown rice vinegar. These came late to the table and when we asked if they were still coming, they wiped them from the bill and brought them over. Amazing service, no question about it. 

Stirfry with clams, pork, cuttlefish and blackbeans
The description of this dish reminded me of one of my all time favourite dishes at Longrain, the squid and speck stir-fry with chilli and black beans. I love the combination of pork and seafood. This one had some of my favourite ingredients too. The cuttlefish was cooked perfectly, as was the pork but the clams were quite gritty and we struggled eating them, if they hadn't been in there it would have been a perfect dish.

Mushroom stirfry with oyster, shimejii, shitake and swiss brown mushrooms
This definitely wins dish of the night for me. How can you not love mushrooms, the mix of all these varieties was delicious and they were cooked perfectly. The crunchy Asian greens were a nice touch too, I wouldn't normally order a vegetarian dish but this was hearty enough to rival any meat dish.

The question was then asked, did we want to order dessert? We were both so full but I'm convinced I have a separate dessert stomach because I can always fit it in.

Poached pears, almond praline and double cream, come on would you say no to that?

Poached pears, almond praline and double cream
Next time I go to Billy Kwong I would get there just a bit earlier to be seated straight away and I would study the menu a little further, you're so hungry by the time you're seated you order the first meal you look at.

It's such a go, go, go restaurant - noisy, fast and a little uncomfortable but with incredibly good food.


15 May 2011

a tale of foodie fate at yen for viet

Let me set the scene for you. It was a cold windy Wednesday evening and the Mr and I were quite keen for a Winter warmer. Having a bit of a pho obsession, as you may already know, I suggested we take the trip to Marrickville to try Yen for Viet.

We seem to arrive with another 50 people keen on warming up that night, could it have anything to do with a certain review the day before?

We line up expecting a wait and in front of us, couple after couple are leaving after being told that no booking means no table. We persist, optimistic, that perhaps we won't have to wait too long. It gets to our turn and the waitress is called to the kitchen before we can mutter the answer to her question "no, we don't have a booking", she tells us to wait just a moment and walks away.

In the meantime, a table for two is leaving and another waitress comes along and tells us to be seated. I refuse to decline and we take a seat. Dumb luck or foodie fate? I'll let you decide.

We peruse the menu and after a bit of the time, our order is taken. The waitress apologises for the delay and assures us that in a few weeks the waiting times won't be so long.

We start with some entrees, before our much needed pho.

Crispy squid stuffed with prawn, pork mince and black fungus
We both found the squid in this dish to be quite tough but the filling was delicious and so were those pickled vegetables to eat it with.

Crispy pancake stuffed with bean sprouts, mung beans & duck
I'm a little but fussy when it comes to fried food so I was a bit weary when this came out looking a little oily. The duck inside was cooked perfectly though and even though it was still quite heavy for my liking it's balanced out nicely when picked up with those fresh mint leaves and dunked in the sauce, a combination of chilli, lime, garlic & fish sauce.

Pho bo with wagyu beef
And at last I can tell you about the hero, the pho bo with wagyu beef. The soup is seasoned so perfectly and of course served to us with fresh basil, bean sprouts & chopped fresh chilli. I love the wagyu in this, the fat is marbled through the tender beef and adds a beautiful flavour to that broth without making it oily. The ingredients are noticeably fresher than any other pho I've tried.

This gorgeous Vietnamese restaurant is most definitely worth a try for that warm bowl of pho alone.


09 May 2011

magnolia bakery, sex and the city & snow - my american adventures pt2

It was Spring in New York when I was there, having never really been to a cooler destination I was expecting a Sydney style Spring. You know those days right? Crisp sunny mornings, warm days and cooler nights. Well, as I experienced, a New York Spring is not that at all. On most days the temperature would reach a high of 6 degrees celsius and that was a good day.

Now on one particular frosty day (-1degrees) I decided it was the day I would visit Magnolia Bakery, it is iconic after all. So with the lure of cupcakes I dragged my mum and sister along, we put on every layer we had and headed downtown. At first they weren't particularly impressed as there was a line around the corner and as soon as we started to line up the heavens opened with rain and yep, you guessed it, snow. I would like to point out that I don't own warm clothes for the snow, I don't like the cold and I tend to act like a princess around July in Sydney so this isn't ideal when you're lining up for about 30 minutes in the cold, without an umbrella.

The line outside Magnolia Bakery
Apologies for the blurry photograph, I was literally shivering when taking this shot because everytime I used my camera I had to take off my warm woolly gloves.

Outside Magnolia Bakery 
Once inside, the store is very cute, crowded and cluttered. There were gorgeous lace curtains, fresh flowers in jars and cake and cupcake displays everywhere. There aren't any seats inside, they wouldn't fit as the store is tiny and generally packed with people, plus there's a section inside just for merchandise!

Cupcake aprons for sale
The gorgeous cakes on display, reminds me of a country bake sale
Now, after that long wait I had worked up quite an appetite and I'm convinced that the cold makes you more hungry so I was ready to eat. I was very excited to see my favourite red velvet cupcakes on display and mine for the taking as I here they are often sold out and unavailable.

Our gorgeous box of goodies - red velvet cupcakes, vanilla with chocolate icing and caramel with buttermilk icing
So excited I finally made it, I had to take a picture of the box
That gloriously RED velvet cupcake before I'm about to dig in
The cupcake was delicious, it had layers of light creamy icing and fluffy, red moist sponge. I'd like to take this moment to thank Jen from http://www.lifeslikeacupcake.com/. She is obviously a cupcake lover and an amazing cupcake creator and I wouldn't have gone there if it wasn't for her. I could literally hear her voice in my mind saying "never mind the cold, red velvet cupcakes are inside!".

Now if you head out of Magnolia and turn left just down the street you'll arrive at a very famous building - Carrie Bradshaw's apartment block where almost every episode of Sex and the City was filmed.

That famous apartment block in downtown NYC
The apartment is blocked off, as there are people actually living there, which meant no Carrie photos at the top of the stairs waiting for Big's car to come down the street. It was a shame really.

So glad I got to see this gorgeous part of New York, cold or not it was worth the visit downtown plus now I'll never complain about Sydney winters again!

The beautiful Perry Street
Magnolia Bakery - 401 Bleecker Street, New York City www.magnoliabakery.com