Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Giveaway introducing the New Taco Grande at Los Vida @ Wintergarden


Los Vida, Sydney CBD’s purveyor of authentic Mexican cuisine, has added a traditional northern Mexican dish to its Wintergarden store menu. With a recipe passed down by the people of Sonora, Los Vida invite you to devour the Taco Grande: a “man-sized” large flour tortilla filled with either Guajillo Lamb, Tinga Chicken, Chipotle Beef, Pibil Pork or Adobo Mushroom.

To celebrate the new mammoth lunch time offering, Los Vida are giving away 500 Taco Grande’s. Head to to nab one for yourself.

The Wintergarden, 1 O’Connell St, Sydney CBD

Click to add a blog post for Los Vida on Zomato

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Roo Recipe: Triple B Cupcakes (aka Redneck Breakfast)

Excuse the tongue in cheek name of these cupcakes but these are super delicious. Who can argue the name of these beauties when you mix beer, bacon and bourbon together?

Each year my employer has a bake off to support a charity. Over the years it's become very competitive and it's alot of fun. Weeks of researching, preparing, keeping secrets, sleuthing for other's baking ideas, tip offs, specualtion on the mystery judging and possibly a bit of bribery!

Being my first bake off, I was really excited about entering and had been planning and putting together something I was really happy with. I am proud to present.....My Triple B Cupcake...aka the Redneck Breakfast. It's a chocolate beer cupcake, with bourbon marshmallow frosting, salted, ourbon caramel sauce and bacon praline.

 A few different elements all brought together to make these.

Chocolate Stout Cupcake (sourced from


Unsalted butter, melted, for coating the muffin pans (optional)
375ml Guinness
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
2 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons bi carb of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt


Heat the oven to 180c.
Place cupcake liners in cupcake pans or coat cupcake pan with melted butter (if baking directly in tin)
Whisk together the Guinness, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla in a large bowl until combined.
Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until completely incorporated.
Whisk in the sour cream.
Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, bi carb of soda and salt into sugar in a separate large bowl and combine. Gradually fold this mixture into the wet Guinness mixture.
Divide the batter among the muffin wells.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake comes out clean, approx. 20-25
Let cool in cupcake tin before removing cupcakes.

Bourbon Marshmallow Frosting


3 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tbs bourbon
1 tsp vanilla extract


In a bowl over a simmering saucepan of water (do not let bowl touch the water). Using a mixer, whip together egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, vanilla extract and bourbon until mixture is stiff and glossy white peaks.
Place in a piping bag and pipe (or spoon dollops onto dessert)
Place under grill to toast (watch very carefully) or blow torch marshmallow

Salted Bourbon Caramel Sauce

1 cup sugar
¼ cup of water
½ cup thickened cream
1 tbsp bourbon
pinch of sea salt

Simmer sugar and ¼ cup water on medium heat. Do not stir. Heat for approximately 15 minutes or until a deep caramel colour.
Remove from heat and stir cream into caramel mixture.
Add the bourbon and stir.
Add a good pinch of sea salt and stir.
Ready to serve. This can be stored in a bottle or dish and kept in the fridge. Bring to room temp or place in a bowl of warm water to soften to serve.

Praline Bacon


1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cupl of pecans, crushed
3-4 bacon rashers, fat trimmed
Maple syrup


Heat oven to 180 degrees.
Combine brown sugar and crushed pecans
Place bacon rasher on a tray and spoon on sugar mixture
Bake for approx. 10 minutes
Turn bacon and spread sugar mixture on
Bake until well cooked (but watch so it doesn’t burn).
May need to turn a couple of times and recoat with sugar mixture to get the right candied amount
Remove from oven. Cut into bite size pieces and place on a wire rack.
Brush on maple syrup
Let cool – the bacon will harden
So how did I fare at the bake off.  I took 3rd place!  Go me!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Roo Recipe: Giant Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

Mothers Day lunch consisted of an American style southern fried chicken, mash potato, beans and corn puree, which was delicious (but not so photogenic).  I finished off the meal with this glorious gigantic skillet cooked, inspired by the USA!
Love my cast iron frying pan (skillet)!

125g unsalted butter, softened
150g brown sugar
200g crunchy peanut butter
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
105g plain flour, sifted
½ tsp baking powder
100g dark chocolate bits
spray oil (or melted butter)
Whipped cream (optional) for serving


Preheat oven to 180c.
Beat butter and sugar until pale with mixer.
Add crunchy peanut butter and beat to combine
Add egg and vanilla extract and beat to combine
Stir in a pinch of salt and remaining ingredients
Spray large skillet with spray oil (or melted butter)
Spread into 20cm cast iron skillet and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
Cool and serve with whipped cream.

*Slightly adapted from Feast Magazine recipe

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Cottage Point Inn

Over the years, Sydney has become internationally renowned for its growing restaurant scene, creativity and food innovation. Our seafood is rated as some of the best in the world and we have fabulous fresh seasonal produce at our doorstep. Add to that our spectacular harbour, coastal and bushland landscapes to the canvas and you have one of the most beautiful backdrops in the world for wining and dining.

Amongst the growing restaurant scene, a long time hidden gem has emerged, nestled at the junction of Cowan Creek and Coal & Candle Creek on the Hawkesbury River Cottage Point Inn dates back to before the 1950’s where it began as a boathouse and general store servicing the river communities eventually becoming a restaurant for the tourists. In the 1950’s two apartments were added to allow visitors an overnight stay. Over the years the restaurant has developed into the fine dining establishment it has become today.

Accessing the restaurant may seem ‘remote’ to some, however it is in fact only a short drive north of the city. Mode of transport is by car, ferry or boat and for an extra special occasion (or any occasion really) you could opt to arrive in style by seaplane! We have arrived by car, through the lovely Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park offering a bushland entrance.
Cottage Point Whaf
Can you tell that I am excited about today?

We make our way down the steep stairs and pathway to Cottage Point Wharf and along the boardwalk to Cottage Point Inn, a little weatherboard riverside restaurant, complete with boardwalk terrace and pontoon wharf. 

We are warmly greeted and seated at the most desirable al fresco table on the carpeted, enclosed terrace area. As we have inclement weather today one side of the canopy is down to protect us from the elements the front remains open to offer us sweeping views of the creek (in warmer weather all sides would be rolled up). The weather has not deterred us though. Clouds of mist hang amongst the treetops on the opposite bank, the water is a choppy grey/green from the mornings rain and lack of activity on the water makes it peaceful and serene but dramatic with storm clouds looming.
We start with a glass of the Bress Limited Release Brut, Macedon VIC NV, while we peruse the menu. The Bress lightly fizzes on the palate while imparting a slight fruity sweetness. It's versatile and harmonious. Definitely  an enjoyable glass of sparkles.  
The wine list is extensive with small boutique Australian wines and international wines, which come by the glass, half bottle or full bottle. There is also a selection of stickies and fortifieds and the Sommelier takes great pride in discussing the wine pairings.

We spend a few moments reading the delectable looking menu and out of the mist we eye a seaplane landing on the water and taxis in towards the pontoon. A waiter makes his way down to the waters edge to assist with the docking of the plane and to greet the guests arrival. All part of the service. Spectacular arrival I must say! 

The deep water floating pontoon can accommodate seaplanes and large boats
Bread and butter is served as our waiter takes our order and he is enthusiastic with suggestions.   The Sommelier makes a suggestion for wine, which just so happens to be the exact wine that Mr G had suggested.  He is proud as punch knowing that his wine pairing is spot on!

We share a bottle of Provenance Tarrington Pinot Gris.  Notes of honeysuckle and pear lace this crispy cold white.
We help ourselves to the still warm bread and butter, which is mixed in-house offering hints of lemon zest and salt. The butter is beautifully presented atop a Balinese lava rock.
A stunning amuse bouche is placed before us. A small bowl of gazpacho jelly, with a basil oil drizzle, salt and micro herbs. The first taste packs an intense tomato and cucumber pop on the palate. My taste buds come alive. It did everything an amuse bouche is supposed to do and I was excited about what was to come. 

gazpacho jelly
As our entrees arrived we took a few moments to admire the dishes and may have let out a delightful sigh. We have chosen dishes that we both would like knowing that we will share.

I love scallops and will usually choose them if on the menu and today is no different. Grilled scallops with fresh figs roasted in rosemary butter, with toasted macadamia milk and charred gem lettuce.

The dish is draped with dark green gem lettuce and slivers of hazelnut. Once unwrapped juicy and plump scallops hint of the briny sea. Roast figs are soft and tender with only a hint of buttery rosemary and the chopped hazelnuts add a nutty textural element to the dish…however, it is the charred gem lettuce draped over the top that bring this whole dish together.  
 grilled scallops with fresh figs roasted in rosemary butter, with toasted macadamia milk and charred gem lettuce
Mr G made a very last minute entrée change as he ordered and opted to go with the veal tartare. We are advised that this is Chef Zika’s signature dish. Veal tartare seasoned with oyster and lemon dressing, cucumber, tarragon and caper cracker. 
 veal tartare seasoned with oyster and lemon dressing, cucumber, tarragon and caper cracker 
This is picture perfect on the plate. Milky veal is finely cubed and delicately dressed with the lemon and oyster dressing with hints of tarragon. The tapioca crackers are laced with salty capers and are the perfect crunchy accompaniment.  

Mr G is not disappointed. I am in just as much awe. We are both blown away with it and agree that this is the standout dish of the day.  

There is enough time between courses to sit back and enjoy the view, the company and just generally enjoy a long leisurely lunch. We watch a wing-spread snake neck cormorant on the pontoon drying itself and eagles and other bird life swoop over the water, occasionally diving for their own tasty lunch. Its a shame that we miss out on the kookaburras that come down to perch on the railings awaiting the waiters to feed them meaty morsels due to he weather… I understand there is also a resident goanna that wanders around, however appears to be taking shelter elsewhere from the weather.
Our mains arrive and Mr G has the butter poached market fish, lemon caper and kale pan fried gnocchi and clam beurre blance. The market fish just happens to be Spanish mackerel. Its white flesh is robust, meaty and flavourful on its own, but it can withstand bold flavours. It’s a fantastic fillet to go with the sour, salty kale atop tiny pillows of gnocchi which are fried golden brown. The clam beurre blanc is subtle with a depth of flavour from the sea.

I have chosen a little known fish to me. The lightly charred cobia with, hazelnut anchoiade hollandaise, persimmon, confit leek and rainbow chard.
charred cobia with, hazelnut anchoiade hollandaise, persimmon, confit leek and rainbow chard
Cobia is rarely seen on a menu and as I understand it is a Black Kingfish. It is a sustainably farmed deep sea fish from Queensland and although a firm white filet it is delicate in flavour. The cobia is rolled in crushed hazelnuts and sits on a bed of soft confit leek and rainbow chard. I can taste the well balanced creamy anchoiade hollandaise.
fried balls of amazingness
The two sides on the menu are Dauphine potatoes and a salad of cos hearts, radicchio and iceberg lettuce with mustard and lemon dressing. The lettuce dish offers a crisp and crunchy freshness. First time tasting Dauphine potatoes and I’m in heaven. Fluffy balls of potato and choux pastry, deep fried. These are amazing!

Both mains are lovely fish dishes and I was left comparing the two fish, although they are incomparable. I like both! Paired with the dauphine potatoes and I am told that these are the best fish and chips, fine dining style ever!
Before dessert I take a wander around to lap up some of the gorgeous views and snap some photos.  It really is stunning scenery and I can only imagine what it would be like on a sunny day. The inside dining area is light and airy with light colour décor the upside down wooden row boat suspended above the bar catches my eye and the boatshed memorabilia placed on the mantle above the fireplace is a nice touch. Each table has a water view as does the kitchen with a window looking over the dining room and beyond. 
As the pre-dessert is served I think to myself ‘cheeseboard in a glass’. It is a small glass of tart green apply jelly layered with a warm Roquefort foam and candied walnuts folded through. It’s an unusual texture and flavour sensation. The apple jelly is crisp and sour (although it could have been more tart for my liking) and the blue cheese foam is a sensory overload on the taste buds. It’s a clever dish.
cheeseboard in a glass

Desserts arrive and I cannot help but drool a little. I have chosen the warm poached pear, crystallised dark chocolate served with almond milk ice cream and chocolate sauce. My fork slices through the soft pear easily which is drizzled with a glossy chocolate sauce and coated in toasted nutty almonds. The creaminess of the almond milk ice cream is smooth and gentle.
warm poached pear, crystallised dark chocolate served with almond milk ice cream and chocolate sauce

However, it’s Mr G’s raspberry salad that is the show stopper. Raspberry Salad, beetroot and raspberry sorbet, honeycomb and shiso gel.
raspberry salad, beetroot and raspberry sorbet, honeycomb and shiso gel

The vibrant, colourful red quenelle of punchy raspberry and beetroot sorbet sits atop the fresh raspberries, with shaved baby red and orange radish, shards of sweet honeycomb, shiso gel and microherbs. Culinary art on a plate (as has been the whole meal for that matter). This is spectacular.


We are revelling in the delight of such a wonderful meal and it’s at this point that Chef Zika pops out with one last dessert for us to sample. It’s the Chestnut Tartlet that has been put on the menu as of today. Chestnut jam, rum & chestnut cream, grated raw chestnuts and quince. This is autumn in a tart! The rum and chestnut cream is light but ‘warming’, the tart shell snaps as you bite into its biscuit like texture. A delicious seasonal dessert.

 chestnut tartlet - chestnut jam, rum & chestnut cream, grated raw chestnuts and quince
So who is the man behind todays dishes?
The classically trained Chef Guillaume Zika at the helm of the kitchen, brings his flair, creativity and French influence to the menu, joined early last year. Chef Zika’s career includes Paris’ Le Grand Vefour, New York’s Per Se with Thomas Keller and more recently with Claude Bosi at Hibiscus restaurant in London, all having Michelin stars. 

Chef sits with us for a few minutes discussing his move to Australia, his recent marriage and his excitement of being in a Sydney kitchen. His day starts a few hours before he even hits the kitchen. He makes the trek south from his home to select the days seafood, which he prefers to do rather than have it delivered, before returning to Cottage Point Inn.
after an afternoon in the kitchen, still full of smiles!
We discuss how Australian produce compares to the likes of London , Paris and New York and the challenges faced incorporating unfamiliar produce into his dishes. Zika's repertoire includes incorporating nuts and seasonal fruit into his exquisite creations and he discusses overcoming the struggle of acquiring the perfect ripe fruit (which he finds himself doing in his own kitchen). I am left with admiration and inspiration.
To round off the meal I decide on a glass of the 2014 Brachetto D’Soumah, a dessert wine from Yarra Valley while Mr G sips on a Macchiato.
The Brachetto is not sticky sweet but fruity with notes of rosewater. I like it a lot!  
What can only be referred to as a petit fours, a tree branch is presented to the table with two skewers inserted in holding squares of aerated milk chocolate with coconut. The perfect bite to end a memorable meal.

 It has been a fabulous meal.

As we depart, we say our goodbyes and make the trek up the steep stairs. Apart from feeling very unfit and breathless as I climb the stairs I am left feeling satisfied, delighted and grinning ear to ear knowing that Cottage Point Inn has just left its mark on me and definitely in my top 5 meals I have ever had….leaving me eager to return…I just won’t need to leave it for a ‘special occasion’….any day should be a special occasion!  

Hopefully one day I can arrive by the gantry way and pontoon rather than those steps!

*Roofood dined as a guest of Cottage Point Inn and PR Firm Cardinal Spin.  All opinions are expressly my own.

Cottage Point Inn
2 Anderson Place
Cottage Point  NSW 2084

Cottage Point Inn on Urbanspoon

Friday, 1 May 2015

Mappen - Do you udon, soba or ramen?

Nestled inside the Skyview Plaza, this unsuspecting collection of little restaurants pack a punch. It doesn't matter what time of day that I dine at Mappen but there is always a line out the door of eager diners and there is good reason.  Mappen has become a cult self service noodle bar offering soba, udon and ramen dishes.  You can read about my previous visits here and here.
Firstly you order your noodles. This guy has some great arm action as he plunges the noodle basket into a cauldron of boiling water and shakes the water off them when they come out.  Actually before you order your noodles, if you want a beverage ensure to grab this from the corner just before you get to the noodle guy (it's not easy to double back!).
The noodles slither into the bowl .....

....then the noodles are topped with your choice of soup or sauce.  there is Tonkatsu soup or sauce (pork bone broth), Kake soup (soy sauce and bonito flakes and stock) or Bukkake sauce (soy sauce and bonito flakes).  I was conflicted.  I was hankering for the chilli pork udon but on the menu it comes as a soup. However, I really wanted bukkake sauce.  No problem the noodle guy says...he can make it however I want it. Bonus!  speak up if you want something different. It's worth it!
You can also opt for ontama, which is a ooey gooey egg...essentially it's a 65 degree egg and the best eggs I have ever had.  How they keep them so soft is beyond me.

Grab a tray and head on down the line. This next step is the best part.  You get to pick and mix your own tempura and sides.  There is a vast selection of vegetable and pumpkin karaage (although I love the sweet potato karage which they didn't have this visit).

There is prawn tempura, vegetable tempura, hot dog on sticks and  takoyaki balls. 

In the cold section there is salad, prawns and corn to name a few. At the end of the line when you reach the cashier don't forget to ladle on tempura crumbs and shallots.  They bring the whole dish together.

Then it's time to grab a table.  In the centre there are big communal tables where everyone slurps together.  The idea is that you don't sit before ordering only after you have your food.  It moves quickly though.  I have never had to wait for a seat.

My friend J goes with my favourite, although opts for the soba noodles, which is made with buckwheat.  This is the ontama bukkake mentaiko - egg, bukkake sauce and cod roe butter and nori

Her sides are a prawn tempura and a skewer of takoyaki balls (which we share).

My specially made chilli pork bukkake with ontama and udon noodles.   As my sides I choose the pumpkin karaage and a prawn tempura side (we share the pumpkin karaage)

Although I love to sit at the communal tables and enjoy the atmosphere, I really love the benches and seating along with walls.  They are set up so you feel that you are sitting in a tiny udon joint with a quaint roof...cozy.

*Roofood dined as a guest of Mappen and SD Marketing

Menya Mappen on Urbanspoon