Monday, 31 March 2014

Seafood and eat it - an afternoon in Roo's Kitchen

I have been browsing my many cookbooks and cooking magazines looking for inspiration.  I haven't been busy in the kitchen lately and browsing my cookbooks is a favourite past time of mine and inspiring.

My eye was caught by a recipe I found in one of my many Feast magazines and decided to give it a go.

I headed to Faros Bros at Sydenham to pick up some sashimi grade tuna.  Unfortunately they didn't have any in stock so I opted for some salmon instead, along with some Australian scallops and some cooked small Australian tiger prawns (which I had for lunch today).  Faros is my new go to place for fresh, quality seafood.  There is always an abundance on offer.

So I spent the afternoon in the kitchen whipping these delights up. (on top of sorting through all my junk and storage to get rid of ....I'm having a clean out!)

I made Oshazuke - which is a dish of salmon (or tuna), rice and green tea.  It looked delicious (but I'm not biased or anything).  The dish came out perfectly, however I wasn't a big fan of the green tea as the broth.

pouring the green tea into the dish

the art of japanese

I also made some grilled scallops on the shell with a ginger and shallot oil.  These were super delicious. The oil is so easy to make.  Just heat peanut oil in a pan until smoking add ginger, shallots and 1/2 tsp of salt and let cool.  Drizzle over anything!

scallops on the half shell

I had some salmon left over so I made salmon and cucumber sushi rolls and sashimi.  I was going to add avocado but they were not ripe.  I have to say I wasn't impressed with my sushi rolls.  I didn't season the rice with vinegar and they were pretty tasteless.  I need to go back to my Sake Restaurant recipe and do it over. The sashimi was good though.

sushi and sashimi

So my Sunday consisted of packing up my junk, sorting out my spare room and cooking some fresh seafood.  How did you spend your Sunday?

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Miss Saigon @ Hurstville

I am a long time customer of Miss Saigon in the heart of Chinatown in the south.  Hurstville that is!  Miss Saigon is buzzing with locals, students, families and everyone else that wants great Vietnamese dishes on the cheap.

When you enter just grab a table.  This is what I call a slap up restaurant.  Laminated tables, tiled floor, no frills table service but buzzing atmosphere and everyone is here for the flavours!  The staff will get you menus and a pot of tea (always ask for it hot as it is usually just given to you luke warm).  Cutlery and condiments can be found in baskets at the end of the table.

It is an extensive menu broken down into entree, noodles, rice, seafood, chicken, fish, beef and pork along with hotpots, soups, grills and drinks.  The menu is listed in both English and Vietnamese.

When I visit Miss Saigon I can be a creature of habit and tend to go for my I have to start mixing it up a bit  and start tasting more dishes, but it's hard when you love certain dishes.

The seafood laksa is full of seafood and noodles and the soup base is creamy and rich with coconut milk with just the right amount of chilli kick, although adding chilli sauce is always a must for me! Hotter the better.

seafood laksa
I would have to say my favourite goto dish here is the seafood hotpot.  Packed full of squid, prawns, white fish, tofu, carrots, greens, baby corn and an incredible sauce in a bubbling hotpot.  Definitely a favourite.

Sauce and a basket of herbage arrive at our table in anticipation of our meal.  A peanut chilli sauce, chilli sauce and a bowl of fresh chillis give us different options for our rice paper rolls.
saucing it up in the herbage basket
An entree of pork and prawn rice paper rolls are filled with vermicelli noodles, shallots, prawns and pork with lettuce.  The rice paper is glutinous and sticky.  I love fresh rice paper rolls.  Both sauces are fabulous drizzled over them.

rolls of prawny heaven
The herbage basket is full of basil, bean shoots and lemons which are then put on top of a huge steaming bowl of fragrant pho broth, filled to the brim with rice noodles, huge pieces of rare beef, shallots and herbage slowing cooking in the hot broth.  Miss Saigon are well known for their good pho.

pho sure!
Comes highly recommended for cheap good grub....but I will let the food speak for itself! Miss Saigon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Bay Tinh, Marrickville

It was Valentines day.  I am not a person to celebrate Valentine's day - no I am not some dried up old spinster who doesn't believe in love or romance - I am quiet the opposite however it is more about the fact that I don't believe you need a 'hallmark' day to show you love and care for someone. Each and everyday should be about showing your feelings to a beloved one.  
We were both looking forward to some great Vietnamese food though (and yes we were both a little happy to have a date on Valentines day (we have only just started dating) regardless of what I have previously said LOL).
.......but I digress.
I have dined at Bay Tinh a couple of times before (blogger fail) and have always enjoyed our meals here.  We were seated early in the dining room that was already busy with couples and a few families. We are given a few moments to ourselves as we pour some wine and talk about our day and peruse the menu. All very civilised....but come on we are here for the food.  
There are so many options that I have been drooling over and know that I have to sacrifice so many (this time).
For starters we go with stuffed mussels - mussels stuffed with a fat prawn in oyster sauce. 
nothing stuffed about these
The mussels are tender and the prawn inside perfectly cooked.  The prawn fell out as soon as you picked it up, so was eaten separately.  The bed of salad is fresh and tangy.   Not a bad dish but I was obviously thinking 'stuffed' meant something other than just a prawn shoved inside it.
Next up we shared a huge platter of salt & pepper calamari.  Deep fried with crispy shells encasing soft, tender calamari and laced with salt and pepper and a side of lemon dipping sauce.  I could have had more chilli and will know for next time but these morsels were super good.  We were fork
calamari goodness
We also delved into a platter of ginger and shallot chicken.  I am a big fan of ginger and shallot chicken.  I always feel healthy and nurtured when eating this dish.  This was a great dish.  Hot ginger and soft green shallots with plenty of onions and tender chicken pieces.  I always feel comforted by the dish and this one is a big thumbs up.  We had a serve of simple steamed rice to go with the dish.
ginger love
I would highly recommend Bay Tinh.  I know I'll be back and testing more of their menu.

Bay Tinh on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Taste of Sydney 2014

I've been a big fan of Taste for many years, having visited Taste of Dubai three years in a row.  However, I haven't had the privilege to get to Taste of Sydney so far.  This year was different though and I eagerly headed out rain, hail or shine (literally) this year on Sunday with a friend.

On our way to our first stop.  The Garden Bar and Cake Wines Bar.

We arrived just before opening at 12 noon with blue skies and sunny weather. How drastically did that change. By the time we walked directly to our first stop at Chur Burger it was absolutely pouring down. The weather turned that fast but it didn't deter our tasting efforts.

yummy burgers
I am a bit behind the times with Chur Burger, as I haven't had the opportunity to eat there yet, so I took the opportunity today to sample.  I will definitely be visiting very soon.  The crispy pork belly with chilli caramel, aioli and mint slaw was awesome and the special event Kinkawooka mussel fritter with spiced remoulade and dill pickled cucumber was pretty good too.  But the pork belly won.

We actually didn't have Chow Bar and Eating House on our list of must tries, but seeing how much it was raining and we didn't have ponchos handy yet, we decided that something sweet would help brighten our day as the pandan and wattleseed doughnut caught our eye.  The boys there are super friendly and we were contemplating adding the noodle dish...but there is to many other dishes that we must the doughnut is it. 

chow offerings
I really liked this doughnut.  Crispy outside with fluffy innards and the pandan cream was light and tasty.  Flaky coconut on top and the cinnamon and sugar coating was perfect. 

cinnamon sugar doughnuts are the bomb
Time to dash out into the rain (or drizzle at this point) to the Beer and Cider Hall (you know because we JUST HAD to get out of the rain and then it poured.  I choose to sample a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (for 2 crowns).  This was a very hoppy beer and not really to my tasting.  I try Pale Ale quiet often but never really enjoy it.

pale ale tastings
Muse Restaurant was a must do as I am heading to the Hunter Valley in a few weeks and still deciding on the dining list.  Opting for something carb free we tasted the Hirmasa kingfish ceviche with watermelon, ginger, lovedale fingerlime, chilli and coriander.  This dish is very refreshing and the kingfish is super fresh and light and so tender.  Muse Restaurant is a contender for the Hunter Valley trip.

We are woo'd to the Country Kitchen on a promise of some good steak, a cooking demo and ponchos.  You had me at ponchos!  We pull up a hay bale and watch a demo with the Target 100 farmers, learning all about cattle farming.  They whip up a great steak dish with caramelised onions, awesome thick yoghurt sauce with herbs on a wonderful fluffy flat bread.  There are only five of us watching so we get to ho into the dish! 


The rain has eased and we head to Efendy (yet another place I haven't gotten to yet) - you know a food blogger has an never ending must do list....and I find I just never get through it!  We are starting to feel full, even though we have been sharing our samples (for maximum tasting value)..but we seem to be lagging.  We opt for the duck, haloumi and wild weeds gozleme with barberries.

Crispy pastry envelops pieces of succulent duck, melted haloumi and greens.  pretty tasty little package.

I seem to be carb loading today and I am drawn to Bloodwood for polenta chips with gorgonzola sauce.  I'll's the first time that I have had polenta chips.  I have only ever eaten polenta soft.

I'm in heaven!  These are gorgeous sticks of polenta and the gorgonzola sauce is strong and bitey and oh so delicious.

polenta chips

We are nearing the stomach capacity and still have about $30 worth of crowns!  How are we going to use them when we are so near full.  We both decide that a stop at 4Fourteen is needed for the suckling pig with smoked potato salad and crushed apples

here piggy piggy

A brief stop at the Dilmah Tea room for a quick refresher and I get talking to Peter Kuruvita. I will admit I was a little celeb star struck, but it was a great conversation about Dilmah tea, travelling and of course food, amongst other things.  Lovely guy and I'm so glad I got to meet him.  He is a great ambassador for Dilmah.

meeting Peter Kuruvita

My only regret was that I didn't get to stop off at IconPark to test the dishes.  I honestly was so full beyond bursting.  Next year I think I'll be up for two sessions, or more people sharing my dishes!

Thanks Taste of Sydney for a great day out, regardless of the rain. I'll we be back next year for more eats and (more) drinks next year. 

Monday, 10 March 2014

Eats outside of Disneyland Parks

There were a few non-park meals too on my recent trip to Disneyland.  In and around the resorts. 

First up.  Breakfasts.

Mimis Cafe

Fuelling up for a day of Disney, I had the Pomme Lyonnaise Benedict - potato galettes topped with hickory-smoked bacon, sauteed spinach, sliced tomatoes, poached eggs and traditional hollandaise. Served with fresh-cut fruit.

Very good. The eggs are poached to soft (but not oozy) and the hollandaise is creamy with a slight tang. Great start to the day.

Millies Country Kitchen

Breakfast is an important meal. I love my breakfasts.  Eggs with corned hash, sausage patty and buttermilk biscuit.  Three eggs were a bit to much and I didn't get through it all but it hit the spot.
Over at Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar in the Disneyland Hotel, I had an afternoon break from the parks.  Inside it's a tiki hut style bar.  Perched at the end with a bird's eye view of the funky bar, I sipped on a Hippopotomai Tai with both light and dark rum, orange curacao, almond syrup, agave nectar and lime juice.  It was refreshingly delicious!

Something to nibble on perhaps - why not Ahi Poke with Sushi-grade Ahi, Avocado, Wasabi Yuzu, Sriracha Aioli and Wonton Chips. This dish is very refreshing. I love the combination of tuna and avocado in this dish.
Ahi Poke

Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar
A visit to the USA has to include dinner at Denny's.  This particular night I was cold and extremely tired.  I just wanted comfort food and veggies.  So I ordered the country fried streak with Parmesan mash and grilled zucchini and squash.  It was a very simple meal but hit the spot!  The fried steak was perfect and the sausage gravy smothered on top just made it even better.  Denny's was super crowded though and I did have to wait for about 20 minutes.  Denny's is across from the Entrance to Disneyland so a convenient stop for families leaving the park for a quick dinner so it does get busy around dinner time.

Country fried steak with sausage gravy and mash
Thanksgiving I found myself at the other institution that is the USA, IHOP!  The parks were manic busy naturally so after spending a very full and crazy day in the park I needed to get out for a bit.  So a IHOP turkey dinner was in need.  Nothing fancy pants - just tender turkey and gravy, broccoli and mash potato with a red currant sauce. Perfect enough for me.  I will admit that I felt a little lonely on thanksgiving sitting in IHOP (I did refuse to go to Denny's for Thanksgiving - perhaps I've seen to many sad and lonely Christmas movies!)

turkey day dinner
If you ever find yourself near The Cheesecake Factory, get there for Happy Hour.  I was seated at the bar area and found myself ordering $5 Happy Hour specials.  The bar is a busy spot, people dropping by for a pre-dinner drink, watching a game on the TV, girls enjoying a cocktail or two and generally everyone taking advantage of Happy Hour. The place is buzzing!

JW's pink lemonade - skyy vodka, raspberry liqueur and fresh lemonade
crab wontons
Crispy crab wontons with crabmeat blended with cream cheese, green onions, water chestnuts and sweet chilli sauce.  These were crispy deep fried wontons encased around crab and cream cheese. Very good particularly dipped in the sweet chilli sauce for a zap of chilli. 

crab and artichoke dip
Warm crab and artichoke dip  with crab, artichokes and cheese with grilled bread.  Creamy and good chunks of crab.
Both these dishes were tasty but I think I may have overdosed on crab and cream cheese.....

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Travel Photo of the Month - March - Hell and Back

It seems pretty fitting to post this throwback photo from 1999.  I have come a long way since travelling through Russia and Scandinavia.  I met some amazing people on this trip and 15 years on we are still good friends (just wished they lived in Sydney!)

Hell is a village around Nord-Tr√łndelag, Norway.  It is a tiny village boasting a grocery store, petrol station and believe it or not a retirement home!

I literally have been to Hell and Back.  Stronger, healthier, fitter than ever.....but this photo brings back some fabulous memories.

hell and back