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.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Cool Cafes in Parramatta

What is the definition of cool? Cool to a Gen Y may be different to a Gen X. But there are some things that are considered cool to all generations. I think these 2 cafes I am about to talk about are cool. I wonder if anyone out there will disagree with me?

Having recently won the Best Cafe award from the Good Cafe guide, Circa is even more prominently known now than before. I first heard about Circa when it opened and even noted its name in my list of Notes on my phone. But I had not been able to fit it in to my action list so far. After hearing more about it from fellow foodies earlier this year, I made a mental note to visit Parramatta on a Saturday. But by the time I was ready to do so, Circa lost it's weekend chef and since then had decided since then to only open on weekdays. Well, that shot my plans down, didn't it?!?!?

Recently I was called to appear in Parramatta court for jury duty. What a better opportunity to check out Circa. On the first day, they sent us home around 1.00 pm, so I wandered through the streets and found Circa. It is conveniently located minutes from the train station and Westfield Parramatta. There was not even a sign to indicate it was Circa but based on the pictures of its website, I construed it was so.

I was so excited to finally be here. It looked cool, it felt cool and it certainly was small. It was very Surry Hills but in Parramatta! On my first day, I decided to have the Cold Drip coffee. I don't think I have had one of these before and it was warm enough to have a cold coffee. It was smooth, chilled and quite fruity.

My lunch consisted of Baked Eggs. Initially I thought it was going to turn out like a shakshuka but I was so wrong. A nice wrong though! It was baked free range eggs with sujuk, Danish feta, diced tomatoes with a hint of chilli and served with sourdough toast. In case you didn't know, sujuk is a dry, spicy sausage traditionally used in the Turkish, Bulgarian and Albanian cuisine. It reminded me of the Spanish chorizo but a slightly spicier version of it.

I loved my dish. The toast was chewy and not as soft as you would think but I thought the texture was perfect to soak up the flavours of the baked eggs. The sujuk was absolutely delicious. I was glad there was generous servings of the sujuk in the dish.

The next morning, I decided to return for breakfast before I headed to the courts. This time, I decided on a more mellow Oolong tea to start the day.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Bishop Sessa (Surry Hills)

Yes, I am back at Surry Hills but this time it is for dinner at Bishop Sessa. For some reason, none of my foodie friends whom I spoke to recently even knows of Bishop Sessa. I was very surprised by that.

Bishop Sessa is located at where Crown Street Assembly used to be, and where Tabou was. Even though this dinner occurred about a month ago, I still recall the wonderful meal we had there.

There was the option to have the 6 course degustation menu or a la carte. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, we collectively decided to have a la carte. Admittedly, the restaurant was very dimly lit and reading the menu was a challenge in itself. Fortunately I had my torchlight app from my phone which was put to good use that night. :)

My entree was Scallop ceviche with cucumber, avocado and lemon and ginger sorbet. If I ate the beautifully and thinly sliced scallop, it would have tasted quite flat. But the sorbet was popping with the flavour of ginger and was a great companion for the scallop. Lovely dish! The sheet of rice paper roll served over the dish was so light and tasty.

NF had the Carpaccio of Glacier 51 Patagonian Toothfish, smoked clam, miso, apple and black olive. NF seemed to have enjoyed it and he commented on how smoky the clam was and the combination of flavours were good.

EF had the Heirloom beetroot and radish salad with smoked goat's cheese, pomegranate and walnuts. Even though I didn't taste the dish, I can already imagine the textures and flavours blending very well together. I have always loved having walnuts in a salad.

I had the Roasted Aylesbury duck breast, duck leg sausage roll, lentils, kale, carrot, orange and onion marmalade. Yummmmm..yummmm..yummm! Duck is one of my favourite meats and this dish did it for me. The duck leg sausage roll was divine. The duck meat in the sausage roll was full of flavour and melt-in-your-mouth tender. The duck breast was lovely but for me it was the sausage roll that caught my eye.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Black by ezard (Pyrmont, Sydney)

This dinner occurred about a month ago and it was during my month long birthday celebrations. My friend SH had booked for us to dine at Black by ezard and she must have mentioned it was to celebrate my birthday.

When we were seated, before I even had a chance to say Jiminy Cricket, I was presented with a black envelope with Happy Birthday written in gold ink. I was so surprised by it! I opened it and found a 10% discount card in it! What a pleasant surprise!

After perusing the menu, we chose the following dishes.

I had the Pork hock which was slow cooked and served with crispy fried apple, apple and pear slaw and green chilli caramel. I decided on this dish based on Thang Ngo's (Noodlies) recommendation to me. It was absolutely delicious! I was greeted with a chilli hit at my first bite and then the flavours mellowed to a wonderful combination of crunchy, slightly sweet and savoury.

SH, who had been here a couple times previously, ordered their specialty. It was the Organic Farm Egg with potato cream, Iberico jamon and herb salad. She loved it on her first visit and has not failed to order it every time since.

For mains, I had the Ocean Trout which was pan roasted and served with spiced puy lentils, red curry and coconut dressing, Thai basil, pineapple and fish crackle. There was even tofu. I found the flavours quite fascinating. The Asian favours were cleverly combined to produce a blend of delicious but not clashing flavours! And the fish crackle! Wow! I could have had more of that, it was extremely addictive.

SH had the pan fried John Dory served with celeriac, salad of radish, chives, shiso, smoked almonds, verjuice citrus butter sauce and Yarra Valley salmon eggs. She seemed to thoroughly enjoy it!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

The Bridge Room (Sydney CBD)

I start this post by stating that this is not a sponsored post but somehow I ended up getting complimentary dishes as part of my dining experience at The Bridge Room. Which is why this write up has become a lot more fun and interesting to talk about.

My friend LA, who has been on secondment in Sydney for the past 6 months, is about to return to her native New Zealand. I wanted to treat her to an amazing dinner as a souvenir of her great time in Sydney. For the past 3 weeks I have been trying to organise a dinner with her and some other friends and my venue of choice was The Bridge Room. But the dates kept changing due to work constraints and at one stage I was beginning to think this dinner would not happen.

But it finally did about 4 nights ago. I am pushing this post through now as I want LA to read this before she heads off to the land of the long white cloud.

It ended up being just the two of us as our other friends cancelled at the last minute. As the booking was for 6.30 on Thursday, we were one of the early arrivals so the restaurant was still quite empty. We were seated at the table nearest to the kitchen and we could see the chefs at work by looking through the open window. As we were being seated, I quietly asked LA if I should take a picture of the chefs at work. I had noticed that Chef Ross Lusted and his team were literally standing at the window only a mere feet or so away.

I was so excited to firstly be at the restaurant and on top of that I was so excited that Chef Ross Lusted was in the kitchen that night as he is the recently minted and newly crowned Chef of The Year by the Good Food Guide about 2 nights prior.

As I was asking LA this question, a voice piped up behind me saying 'I can hear you'. I turned around in surprise and realised straight away it was the Chef himself talking to us! I don't know what prompted me but I immediately stood up and went over to the window. I introduced myself and blustered about how excited I was to be there and asked to shake his hand and congratulated him on his winning the Chef of the Year. I also introduced LA as a friend from NZ. I then mentioned that I would like to take a photo of him and he said he would come out later to pose with us! Wow! I couldn't believe it and I was really excited by then!

So back I went to our table and we perused the menu and decided on the following.

My entree was Moreton bay bugs with sweet grilled endive, roasted chilli paste, tamarind and celery salt. I loved the texture of the bay bug. It was perfectly cooked, as in not overcooked which would resulted in the meat being tough, and the sauce which had a tamarind flavour was beautifully rich and worked perfectly with the subtle taste of the Moreton bay bug.

LA had the Raw Wagyu shoulder with robota smoked enoki mushrooms, Celtic sea salt, fresh horseradish and soft pickled chilli. LA loved the dish and commented on the wonderful textures in her dish.

At the same time another entree dish was served to us. It was the Spanner crab (picked and shelled) with mandarin, mandarin curd, nashi pear, chestnuts and verjuice jelly. We were told it was with the compliments of the chef! I couldn't believe it, we were served a plate each of this beautifully cooked spanner crab. The favours were clean, subtle but yet full of flavour. The citrus flavours of the mandarin just melded with the very refined spanner crab.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Alpha (Sydney CBD)

The last time I dined at a Sydney Greek restaurant was about a year and a half ago. It was at Xanthi in Westfield Sydney. Suffice to say, once the food buzz was about a brand new Greek restaurant opening up in the city (i.e. Alpha), all the foodies ears and taste buds perked up. As did mine!

My good mate DD was organising a dinner for a decent catch up. After to-ing and fro-ing, I decided we should check out Alpha. Well, what a great decision that was!

To get dinner reservations on a Saturday, we had to decide on a 6.00 pm or 8.30 pm booking. There were 2 seating times and I suppose it is understandable for a Saturday night and it being a very popular restaurant that these booking times were put in place. We chose the 6.00 pm time.

Firstly, I must say that the restaurant is a lot larger in space than I anticipated. There was a openness to the interior that caught my eye and a feeling of being on a Greek island came to my mind. There were cushions on some of the seating areas making it look a little like a summer getaway. Nice!

We both came feeling super hungry. It's quite funny how we deliberately ate very little during the day in anticipation of this dinner. And me being me, of course I perused the menu before I walked in to the restaurant and already had a few dishes in mind to order. :)

So here goes:

Pita with Taramosalata (white cod roe dip) - the pita was so fluffy and soft and the dip had a nice tangy bite to eat. The dish was extremely addictive. Loved it!

Sesame Leaf Dolmades - this was filled with almond rice and preserved lemon. It had a lovely lemon flavour but for me it was not one of the highlights.

Slow Roasted Lamb Spare Ribs with Thyme, Honey and Ouzo Glaze. The ribs were so tender, they were literally falling of the bone. Delicious!