Tuesday, 27 May 2014

WDW: Whispering Canyon

Walt Disney World in Orlando is a huge complex consisting of 4 parks, 2 water parks a Downtown Disney (shopping and dining precinct) and many onsite resorts. All themed and all with there own wonderful dining options.

Over at Wildness Lodge the Whispering Canyon is famous for the rowdy dinners and fun atmosphere. Think cowboys, campfires, smoked barbecue meats and lots of tomfoolery!

I am seated near the back of the restaurant, away from the main hullaballoo but still close enough to enjoy the spirit of the evening and not be the centre of attention.  Really didn't want to be the focus of any tomfoolery as I was a solo diner.

The menu is impressive and absolutely droolworthy if you are a meat lover  but I am really hankering for the ‘all-you-care-to-enjoy’ skillet (now known as build-your-own-family platter). 

First things first – quenching the thirst with a chocolate milkshake – served in a jar – and a bottomless jar at that for $7.29!

Chocolate Milkshake

Creamy and a big chocolate hit– this was good except for the amount of cream on top. I am not a huge fan of cream as it makes me queasy, so I scraped it off.

The Canyon Skillet comes with a mixed greens salad with apple vinaigrette and cornbread with whipped butter. I love me some cornbread lathered with butter and there is something awesome about whipped butter. The salad is tangy and tart and very refreshing. The cornbread is light and moist, although I don’t eat a lot of it..saving room for the meat.

salad with apple vinaigrette

corn bread loaf with whipped butter

The Canyon Skillet consisted of Smoked Pork Ribs, Pulled Pork, Oven-roasted Chicken, Beef Brisket, Mashed Potatoes, Cowboy Beans, and Corn on the Cob, Coleslaw, and Fresh-baked Cornbread - for one in my case.  That's a huge serving (and remember you can order more if you wish).

all-you-care-to-enjoy skillet

Deliciousness in skillet form....I don't think I ate many of the beans or coleslaw, but the pork ribs and pulled pork were scrummy delish. The brisket is melt in your mouth tender and zinging with BBQ smokiness and I only had a bite or two of the chicken (which was a little dry) and besides I had the meat sweats on by then and I definitely didn't ask for seconds.

Did I mention the skillet also came with dessert?

Apple-Caramel Pie

Fresh Granny Smith Apples, Sugar Cookie Crust, Streusel Topping, and Caramel Drizzle.

I had to have it take away, as I could not possibly fit another bite in.

As for the tomfoolery – it’s a real hoot. Ask for ketchup if you ever go – or a large drink! (I ain’t goin’ reveal the fun ya’ll)

The whole dinner was fantastic. So finger lickin' good. I would highly recommend Whispering Canyon and I can't wait to go back there! It's so much fun

Monday, 26 May 2014

WDW: 50's Prime Time Cafe

Lately there has been a lot of talk and planning amongst friends who are heading to either Disneyland or Walt Disney World later in the year and I'm getting the Disney blues.  I want to go to my happy place too (really!). So to combat the Disney blues I am still pulling out Disney dining from my past travels. There are a few more memorable meals that I want to share.

So here is a special meal from WDW from 2010. 50’s Prime Time Cafe in Hollywood Studios. A blast from the past – takes you back to your grandma’s kitchen (well not mine, I don’t remember it ever being like that) but definitely from the 50’s and 60’s.  At total time warp!

After a few minutes waiting in the loungeroom - complete with black and white TV set, my "mum" Adrienne met me in the lounge room and took me through to the dining room to my table.  She then introduced me to all my cousins (other diners around me), telling me to set the table, mind my manners and definitely no elbows on the table!

She really does sound like my mum (except with an American accent).

Next thing ‘mum’ sits down next to me for a chat. Asks me how my day was and what I would like for lunch. Remember it’s Disney and a lot of restaruants are themed/in character dining and it’s fabulous. I look over to another section and another ‘mum’ is feeding one of the cousins with the aeroplane because he hadn’t eaten all his green beans.

The old black and white tv’s hanging in the corner are playing reruns of old ‘Leave it to Beaver’ and 'Mr Ed' episodes (amongst other golden oldies) and the frilly curtains flitting in the kitchen windows really make for the scene. It’s the little touches like these that make Disney so magic.

I’m loving this atmosphere.

Like any Disney Foodie I have been planning my dining choices and browsing menus for over 6 months – don’t call me crazy – it’s a necessity (Tip if planning WDW and dining – you need to make your advanced dining reservations (or ADR’s) 6 months in advance) There were many reservations that I missed out on and had to replan for the entire 2 week trip, and I did book 6 month before!). Check out the forums on www.disboards.com for tips and all things WDW.

Anyway, I was very prepared.

First up - gotta have a milkshake. A Peanut Butter and Jelly Milk Shake

PB&J Milk Shake
A totally new flavour sensation for me...and definitely to die for! Served in a traditional stainless steel cup. This was the flavour bomb.
Entree and main I went with onion rings and southern fried chicken, a 'typical' american meal.  I will admit the pot roast was looking good too.
Beer Battered Onion Rings for two
These were perfect with the horseradish sauce. Hot, crunchy and delectable. I only managed a few, didn't want to waste space for the rest of the meal.

Aunt Liz's Golden Fried Chicken with mashed potato, chicken gravy and southern greens

The chicken was finger licken' good. Hot, crispy, crunchy and with just the right amount of grease dripping from it. Very tasty! The mash was good and creamy and the gravy was delish...I had not tried Southern Greens before and they were OK (not what I was expecting). Tangy and ‘sour’ they are an acquired taste?


Yes I had leftovers and thankfully ‘mum’ didn’t make me do the aeroplane. I did take the milkshake with me to go. Portions are big (like most things Disney) so I had no room for dessert – I got the brownie that to go (as I was on a dining plan which included dessert).

Roo Recipe: Salted Cashew Nut Pesto

I have been inspired recently to get into the kitchen and do some cooking.  It is my zen place.  This weekend I made , amongst other dishes, salted cashew nut pesto.

A fresh bunch of basil leaves that I had purchased at Paddy's markets during the week was sitting in the fridge wilting and knew I needed to use them up quick, so I ransacked the pantry staples and my cashew nut pesto was born - actually I have the recipe written down from a previous batch I made (when living in Dubai - yes it's been that long since I made it last).

salted cashew nut pesto


1 1/2 cups torn basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 cup roasted and salted cashews (can use raw if you don't want the saltier flavour)
60g finely grated Parmesan cheese
approx 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil


in a blender chop basil leaves, garlic and cashews, until you get a fine crumble
blend in olive oil until you get a 'grainy' consistency (or leave more crumbly if you prefer)
once mixed stir in Parmesan cheese.

I portion out in an ice cube tray and freeze - great for portions when you need it.

Great with pasta, topping on a soup or spread on toasted ciabatta and a slice of tomato!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Roo Recipe: Rhubarb Cheesecake with Chocolate Crumb Crust

One of my greatest pleasures in life is to host a dinner party. I love to entertain and always researching, reading and creating menus for them.

Considering I am not a big sweet eater, lately I have found myself focusing on desserts. Not sure why, but I have been enjoying making them and presenting them all pretty on a plate.

I haven't posted many recipes lately and I need to change that so I'm starting off with this weekends dessert offering. 


Rhubarb cheesecake with a Chocolate Crumb and Honeycomb Shard
You will need a pie tin approx 25mm deep and 350mm long with a removable base.


cheese cake
2 packets of Arnotts Chocolate Ripple biscuits
80g butter, melted
375g cream cheese
125ml thickened cream
70g caster sugar
Rind of 1 lemon, grated finely
1tbs gelatine powder
60ml boiling water

stewed rhubarb
1 bunch of rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 2-3cm chunks
160g sugar (or less if you don't want it super sweet)
2 tbls water
1 tbls lemon juice


335g white sugar
125m honey*
80ml water
2 tbls golden syrup
2 tsps bicarb of soda
*my honey was a little to thick and gluggy so I made an executive decision to place it in the microwave for a few seconds to 'melt' it.  Note to self - do not leave the cap on the bottle.  The bottle exploded honey all over the insides of my microwave!  wont' be doing that again!


Make stewed rhubarb

Place all ingredients into a saucepan on low heat and cover. Gently simmer for 10-12 minutes until rhubarb is tender and syrupy.

Remove from heat and cool. Refrigerate until needed.

Make crumb crust
In a blender blitz chocolate biscuits to a crumb. Melt butter and pour over crumbs. Mix through until crumb is ‘wet’.

Press crumb into the base and around the sides of the pie tie (approx .5cm thick). Place in the fridge until needed or 15 minutes in the freezer.

Make honeycomb

Line a baking tray with baking paper and lightly oil.

Place sugar, honey, water and golden syrup over low heat in a large saucepan. Stir occasionally and wipe brush down side of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove sugar crystals. 

After 5-7 minutes or until sugar dissolves increase heat to high and bring to boil.  DO NOT STIR.

When syrup reaches cracking stage (approx 154oc) and is a nice caramel colour remove from heat and let bubbles rest.

Add bicarb of soda and stir with a wooden spoon.  Warning: the mixture will bubble and foam up rapidly.

Quickly pour onto baking paper and let cool completely before breaking into shards.  Can be stored in a airtight container.

This is how much it could puff up.

honeycomb puffs up
Make cheesecake filling
Beat cream cheese, cream, sugar and lemon rind together until combined.

Sprinkle gelatine over boiling water and whisk to dissolve. Pour into cheesecake mixture. Beat until smooth.

Fold through 3-4 tablespoons of stewed rhubarb (don’t over mix you want it to ripple).

Pour mixture into tart tin and smooth the top. Drizzle another 2 tablespoons of stewed rhubarb on top of cheesecake.

Cover with clingwrap and place in refrigerator or at least 4 hours to set.
To serve, take out of tart tin and slice. Place mint leaves and crumbed toffee pieces on top (if desired)

served with a sticky wine for a complete dessert ending!
I had some cheesecake filling and crumb left over so also made a small ramekin size cheesecake for one for the following day.

praline pecan cheesecake
I chopped up some pecans and made a simple toffee using sugar and water and poured over them.  I spread them out on a sheet of baking paper until cooled. I crushed the toffeed pecans and sprinkled on top of cheesecake to make a praline cheesecake.  I served this with stewed rhubarb as a treat the following day (not that I needed anymore sweet treats)!

***this recipe definitely needs some tweaking.  I may not use as much gelatine powder next time and add some more lemon rind and perhaps a bit of lemon juice to the cheesecake mixture for more tangyness.  It's a work in progress in Roo's Kitchen - gotta start somewhere right!

Friday, 16 May 2014

Travel Photo of the Month - May 2014 - The Aloe Vera Man on a Barbados beach

It's been six months since my travels to the Caribeean and USA.  With the winter months creeping up on us fast I am left dreaming of warm white sands between the toes, bright blue skies, clear aqua salty water and hot sunny days kissing the skin - and lazing on a beach with a cocktail in hand with a Barbadian man squeezing fresh aloe vera juice for your sunburnt skin at the end of another perfect day in paradise.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

GIANT Schnitzels at The Goni's Schnitzelria @ Marrickville

When Mr C quite often raved about the huge schnitzels at Goni's at the White Cockatoo.  They had been there for over 12 years and had a good following.   I was intrigued by this and added it to the long wish list.  However  we never got there due to one thing or another.  That's okay because on 23 April 2014 The Goni's Schnitzeleria moved to a new location and opened shop on the ground floor under Marrickville Tavern on Marrickville Rd.   It was time to go eat some schnitzel!  Their tag is 'the home of the best & biggest schnitzels in town' - but really how big can they be?

down in the basement is the biggest schnitzel
The ground floor (I would call a basement) is brilliantly lit with fluro lights, light coloured tiles and spacious tables . It's very open and wide (which is a good thing as the ceiling is quite low) and gives off a food court style feel but with home style food.  Down the back is the counter where you order your meal and you are given a number to take to your table.  I notice there are lot of tables reserved (and it's a Wednesday night, so perhaps might be advisable to pre-book particularly over a weekend). 

condiment station

The extensive menu doesn't just stick to schnitzels.  There is also a selection of starters, burgers, seafood dishes including fish and chips, a seafood platter and a seafood casserole, huge slabs of steaks and chicken................. and then we come to the extensive schnitzel menu.  With a choose of  about 15 toppings plus you can choose chicken pork or lamb schnitzel.  This just makes the decision even more difficult.


Thankfully we also opt to share.  We saw the size of the plates and some diners had their own. There was no way I was going to cope with that. We decide on the Marinara Chicken Schnitzel which is topped with garlic prawns and crumbed calamari. 

We sit back and watch peoples reactions as their schnitzels are served.  Comparing toppings and options for future visits. I'm telling you these plates are huge and I can't help smiling in anticipation of a good schnitty.  Help yourself to cutlery, condiments and napkins at the servery in the middle of the restaurant.

When our plate arrived at the table my jaw dropped to the floor, my reaction was the same as everybody else that I had been watching!  This was absolutely ridiculously huge.  I'm in awe! I would worship this schnitzel.   I also realise that there is no way anyone would be capable of eating it solo (in one sitting) - kudos if they can - is there a wall of honour?    a free t-shirt?

marinara schnitzel

Each serving of chicken schnitzel has 1 kilo of chicken breast which equates to approximately 5-6 schnitzels on the plate (or should I say platter). Topped with a handful of crumbed calamari and 6 buttery garlic prawns.
The chicken breast is moist and juicy and is encased in a crispy breaded crumb. The garlic prawns are okay but the calamari is crispy and very tender. The only thing missing (in my opinion) is some good tomato sauce to finish off the 'marinara' and give it a bit of more wetness to the dish. It's served with a wedge of lemon and some tartare.  The schnitzels are also served with a bowl of fries. meh - they are hot and crispy but we don't need them at all!

C R A Z Y !

For size comparison here I am holding the platter.  Three times bigger than my head! LOL

schnitty bigger than my head

For $25 this is a very generous serve and a fantastic meal.  Add a salad and it could easily feed a family or a group (or just a very hungry couple or ONE big eater! hahahaha). 

Goni's is also licenced with a good selection of wines and beers and if you can manage it after those platters a few dessert options too. The Goni's Schnitzelria on Urbanspoon

Blue Fish @ Darling Harbour

Nothing beats eating prawns and drinking white wine on a glorious autumn day overlooking Darling Harbour and this past weekend was the perfect weekend for that.

Occassionally I take advantage of the many online vouchers available and there is one particular deal that I have purchased a number of times.  It's a prawn and wine deal at Blue Fish at Darling Harbour - see previous post here.

Two buckets of prawns and a bottle of wine for $33 (normally $85).  I think this is a fabulous deal and a great way to have a leisurely afternoon.

We arrived and were seated outside under the umbrella overlooking the South Steyne (the ferry boat restaurant).  We opted for a bottle of the De Bortoli Willowglen Semillion Sauvignon Blanc and a bowl of chips to go with our prawns.

Our bottle of wine is served table side in a bucket of ice ready for us to fill our glasses when needed. 

ready to be served

bucket of prawns

Today's prawns are briny and tender and bloody good. But I ALWAYS forget to ask where the prawns are from. ALWAYS!

hot crispy chips with aioli

I love me a bucket

'eat me, eat me'

Surprisingly the service is more efficient today. In the past it has always been slow and lazy and quite often found us asking for cutlery, napkins or finger bowls. Today we didn't have to ask for anything and it was fast and on form. yay.
Mr C and I on a date

We spent a good couple of hours lazing in the sun, sharing our bottle of wine and chattering away enjoying each others company and people watching.  Even bumped into a friend and her family at the restaurant who were celebrating Mother's Day a day early and haven't seen for many years.

Blue Fish Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, 12 May 2014

Gyradiko @ Bexley

Bexley.  My home suburb.  I grew up here.  It's a quite, sleepy suburb.  It has been struggling for years to keep business' open and parking is a nightmare not to mention the bottleneck and traffic jams that is Forest Road.

Saying that there are a few great little places opening up and hopefully they will be successful.  So, when I saw that a new place was opening I was intrigued.  Next door to the Greek Taxidi Restaurant, Gyradiko opened it's doors a few weeks ago.  Since the opening night there has been a continual line out the door and around the corner every night until late.  Everytime I've driven past it's pumping.

So, what is all the hype about? 

Well Friday night I decided to go check it out for myself.  I 'dragged' Mr C along too. Date night, new restaurant, food review and blog post - all thrown in together.

We are lucky that we get there relatively early and only have to wait about 10 minutes.  Families are crowding in and the few tables that the restaurant offers are packed.  Many people are getting takeaway this Friday night including us.

Huge slabs of pork are on the spit roasting slowly and the smell wafting through the restaurant is smokey and meaty and I'm drooling.  There are only a few offerings at the moment.  Pita or a Plate option and there is a combo option which includes a drink.  They will be adding further Greek options at a later date.

Gyradiko is selling traditional Greek gyros and I really do mean traditional. In Australia we loosely identify a gyro (o yeeros) with a doner kebab laden with lettuce, tomato, tabbouleh and sauce with beef, lamb or chicken. However a traditional gyro is served on a Greek style pita (fluffier than your typical Arabic donar kebab wrap) and either pork or chicken with onion, tomato and tzatizki sauce and fried potatoes.

There is a great production line happening.  These guys are run off their feet.

Pita is swiped with a lashing of tzatizki and laden with chips, tomato and onions followed by freshly sliced pork and in this case tonight chicken souvalaki

....this is then tightly rolled and wrapped in paper and then you pay and out the door within minutes.  As we are leaving the line has snaked outside and around the corner (at least a 30 minute wait from this point).

lines out the door

We get home and unwrap these babies.  As I sink my teeth into the pork gyros I am instantly transported back to my 5 weeks of travelling around the Greek Isles..where I ate a gyros every day.  Brings back some wonderful memories of Mykanos, the Mediterranean and some amazing Greek food!  The pork is just the right amount of 'fatty' and smokey and very tasty and the tzatiki adds a zingy punch.  I'm a fan of the pork gyro.  The chicken souvalaki gyro was okay..  I  will try this again and give it another chance...but I know I'll be going for the pork gyros again.

I can understand why they are so busy, being new and one of the very few places (maybe the only one) offering traditional gryos in Sydney.  They are definitely making a name for themselves and rightly so. 

all I can say is get yourself down to Gryadiko and test it for yourself.  Just be patient with the lines.  it won't disapoint.
I know I will be back very soon. 

Gyradiko on Urbanspoon

Friday, 2 May 2014

Chica Linda @ The Carrington

The lads over at Drink n' Dine have done it again.  They love change and mixing things up.  I think it keeps things fresh and on trend.  The new venture has taken over the back restaurant at The Carrington in Surry Hills, which up until Easter was serving up fabulous Spanish inspired cuisine.  It was only a few weeks ago that a friend was asking when are we going back for pinxos and fried milk custard.  Well unfortunately that isn't going to happen....
.....As of today The Carrington is now home to Chica Linda (which means Beautiful Hot Lady) and Jamie and his team have come up with a mouth watering Latin American menu that has left my taste buds wanting more.
Last night I was honoured to be invited to the preview dinner.  Meeting some fellow bloggers we were seated at the back on the raised area of the restaurant overlooking the rest of the restaurant and bar area.
We start with pre dinner cocktails.  Starting with the starring lady herself 'Hot Lady' (Chica Linda) which has tequila, guava soda and lime.  It's a refreshing start to the night.


During the meal we got to sample quiet a few of the cocktail offerings including a Tengo Hueva (pisco, plum pisco, plum bitters and lime), a Belize Fumes (pisco, inca Kola & lime), a formal sounding Cuban Neck Tie (plantation rum, orange, coconut, kaffir lime), Panamagarita (tequila, jalapeno, aloe, agave and salt) and who could pass up a burning passion (vodka, passionfruit, orange and fire!)  I would have to say my favourite was the Belize Fumes running up with a close Hot Lady.
I am loving the new table tops, they are colourful and fun!
Chica Linda bar is pumping out the drinks tonight.

But it's about food too and we are transported to another part of the world through our taste buds.  An assortment of arepas hit the table.  Here we have smoked pork with honey chipotle glaze and pickled slaw, a grilled cheese (halmoui?) corn salsa and salsa rojo and my favourite the soft shell crab with avocado and hot sauce.  The fillings in these are flavoursome and hit the spot I just found the corn 'flatbread' a little heavy (this could be my issue though).
We start with a plate of chicharones with a side of guasacaca sauce.  Puffy shards of piggy skins are airy and light.
love me some chicharones

arepa, arepa!
Next up we are presented with a skewer of spiral sausage - a flamed longanzia topped with aji chilli and pineapple.  Longanzia is similar to a chorizo but perhaps not as spicy. 

spicy sausage skewer

First out to the table is he most impressive.  A huge mound of king crab diablo in spicy paprika sauce.  Covered in herbage and served with wedges of lime these legs are messy and all kinds of amazement.  After all the obligatory photo taking we dig in with gusto and soon we are licking our fingers and hands and lips to get more of that spicy sauce.

king crabs done devil style - diablo sauce
and then the progressive onslaught of dishes arrived at our table, with all of us oohing and arrhing.  The red and green tomato salad with jicama, aji chilli, chilli seeds, queso and flax seeds is a refreshing burst of flavours (and cooling on the palate after the spicy crab).

The achiote smoked chicken with tomatillo sauce is really good.  The smokiness has penetrated deep into the flesh and the crispy skin is yummy.  The tomatillo sauce is vibrant and tangy.

smokey chook
Sides are little dishes of heaven which include coca-cola rice and beans, two tone fries which consist of sweet potato fries and cassava fries and a scrumptious quinoa, barley, pomegranate, orange and labneh
However is the Puerto Rican roast pork with salsa criolla that is the winner dish of the night amongst us all.  We are rather full at this point but we manage to eat the whole dish.  Crispy crackling and the pork meat is so moist and tender.  We are all raving about this dish at the end of the night.

here piggy - the best dish of the night

Food blogger etiquette...everyone gets their photos, angle, lighting for each and every dish before we tuck in. 
Of course a meal is only finish when dessert is served.  A lovely light guava empanada with apple, dulche de leche ice cream and fried plantains is a wonderful dish to finish off any meal.  The pastry and flaky and the ice cream is so creamy and smooth - get into it before it melts.  I loved the crispy plantains.  The chocolate milk cake with marshmallow, buttermilk icecream and passionfruit was good.  the hint of sourness in the icecream is a nice change but I didn't find alot of chocolate flavour in the cake.  The marshmallow is soft and fluffy.

empanadas and milk cake

I would like to thank the Drink n' Dine group for inviting me to taste your menu and share in your new venture.  It was fantastic evening, food, cocktails and company excellent.  I wish you well in your new endeavours and all the success this year can bring.

I look forward to dining here again very soon.

Chica Linda on Urbanspoon