Thursday, 22 October 2015

Night Noodle Markets 2015 - Round Up

The 2015 Night Noodle Markets is nearly over for another year (they finish this Sunday) and I have to say I think this year has been a bigger success than previous years.  It just keeps getting bigger and bigger every year.
I spent many a night sampling the many menus that were on offer.  Since the opening night (and previous post) I have spent a further 4 nights grazing.  I can officially say that I am noodle marketed out.
I grabbed a Whisky and Maple cookie from Whisky and Sugar Milk Bar by Christina Tosi of Momofuku fame.  They were soft in the middle with a chewy crust, just how a real cookie should be, but honestly wasn't wowed by them.
I stopped by Bao Stop for the Peking Duk Fries. This is comfort food at its best.  A generous portion of roasted duck and hoisin sauce atop crispy fries.

Another night a friend from the States was visiting.  She had been to the Night Noodle Markets in previous years on various visits and I knew she would love this years too. 
We shared three of the Ramen Tacos from Everyone Loves Ramen.  These were crispy ramen 'taco' shells topped with
  • Beef bulgogi with iceberg, yuzu miso vinaigrette and baby radish
  • Teriyaki chicken with spring onions and sesame slaw
  • Pork belly with coiander and siracha mayo

We also shared a Mamak roti telur.  Roti with egg through the dough, dipped in an awesome curry sauce and a sambal

We finished off our meal with Gelato Messina's  Bao Chicka Bao Bao.  Deep fried Gua Bao with peanut gelato, dipped in chocolate sauce and rolled in crushed peanuts.

The feasting continues over the course of the 18 nights.  A deep fried tofu gua bao from my favourite Mr Bao Bun.  Loved this steamed bun.  A very large square of tofu is fried crispy golden topped with pickled red cabbage
I caught up with Miss Piggy one night and we sampled Daniel San's skewers.  The pork was good but it was the chicken skewer that won me over.

Crispy Karaage from Ramen Zundo.  3 pieces for $4.50.  The coating is crispy and salty and a great little snack to munch on.

Over at newcomer Trunk Road I dig into a Butter Chicken Roadie.  Succulent and juicy pieces of tandoori butter chicken pieces, cucumber and tomato and coriander.  This was really good and slightly different to what else is on offer throughout the markets.

Over all the Night Noodle markets have reached groaning point.  You need to arrive early as lines become lengthy and you potentially spend half your night waiting in line!  I found this year that dishes are becoming more expensive and portion size/quality variable.  Saying that, it is a fun night out (if it isn't raining) but you just have to prepare for the crowds.
I can say I have certainly had my fill this year!  Clear winner for me was Mr Bao Buns!!!


Tuesday, 20 October 2015

445 Food Store @ Bexley

It is a Stevensons Fine Foods and Nougat Royale collaboration! Meg and Ben have spent months planning this new venture and 445 Food Store made its debut opening in Bexley last weekend.

445 Food Store is a gourmet store/café and is very welcomed to this stretch of Forest Rd, offering locals something new and exciting. A place where you can pop in for a coffee, a sweet snack or a meal and grab some delicious gourmet meals to take home. I was eager to try it out and my eagerness found me to be their first customer of the day (right on opening time).

The space is airy, sunny and bright, comforting and rustic with blond wooden benches and stools running the length of a wall and the window overlooking the footpath.

The shelves are laden with house made chutneys, sauces and jams, fresh loaves of bread and boards of Backa salamis and sausage. The fridge is full of gourmet take home meals, pies, cheese and olives. Many goodies are supplied by local market owners (particularly Ramsgate Foodies Market, where you will find Stevensons Fine Foods each Saturday) along with other house made creations.

An open doorway invites you into the kitchen and to a large communal dining table. Ben and Meg and the team are busy in the kitchen preparing for their first day.

I really like this space as you can feel the buzz of the kitchen and other diners. I take a seat at a comfy stool at the window bench, so that I can soak up the warmth of the sun and the bustle of a Saturday in Bexley’s main street.

I start with a much needed coffee. The Golden Cobra beans are roasted in nearby Marrickville by the head roaster who is also 445 Food Stores barista.

The menu may not seem extensive but on closer inspection they offer something a little more. They are on point. Fresh eggs and bacon, house made muesli, homemade pies (Meg’s are so delicious!!!) amongst other breakfast delights you can’t go wrong.

The potato latkes with house cured salmon, poached eggs and paprika aioli is my choice for breakfast.

A large crispy potato latke with a generous serve of cured salmon, a gooey poached egg and a big dollop of aioli, served with rocket and a wedge of lemon.

It is the perfect breakfast dish. Ben made the house cured salmon the day before. It’s fresh, slightly salty and so great on top of the crispy rosti and a gooey poached egg yolk that oozes over the top. It is always a winner in my books.

On the counter there are freshly baked caramel cookies, cakes, nougat and coffee to go. Grabbing another coffee to take away my thoughts are already drifting to when I can have breakfast here again!

Welcome to the neighbourhood 445 Food Store. I wish Meg and Ben the greatest success in their new venture!

445 Food Store
445 Forest Road, Bexley
Opened Wednesday to Saturday 8am-2pm

445 Food Store Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Travel Photo of the Month - October 2015

It would be the perfect day to be amongst the vines at the Hunter Valley right now.  
I just love weekends away!
Casting back to a weekend away in the Hunter Valley last year where eating and more importantly, sipping some amazing wines, was on the agenda.  There was lots of cheese too, of course.
The weather was sunny (for at least this day) and life was good.  It's time to plan another wine trip!
Who's coming?

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Cowboys & Utes - A weekend at Deni Ute Muster 2015

As part of the 'travel' part of the blog I thought I would post about my recent weekend away.Hittin' the road Thursday of the long weekend found me heading South West towards the country.

Where did I end up (some 10 hours later)?

The Deni Ute Muster.

Held on the Friday and Saturday of the long weekend 50,000+ visitors descend on the small town of Deniliquin.  The paddocks and fields near town hold the event.  With 95% of visitors camping in the fields and event staff acquire every available bed in town this event is not to be missed. 

Although there was some carnie food and BBQ by the pool involved this weekend was more about the experience rather than food centric. A long weekend of cowboys, rodeo, suped up utes.  Cowboy boots, denim jeans, akubras and thousands of blue singlets (they even hold the Blue Singlet Guinness Book of Records!

there was smokin' wheels too

First up we have the Barrel races.  Where States compete ute against ute in a timed barrel run around a paddock.  It's dusty, loud and a lot of fun. 

Next there is some junior cowboys with their whip crackin'.

let's get crackin'

There is plenty to eat too!  Gotta love a bit of carnie food.  Burgers, dagwood dogs, hotdogs, bacon and egg rolls, chips and dim sims!

Can't pass up on a Dagwood Dog.

What about some salt n' pepper calamari and chips from Squid Inc.  These were so tender and tasty(although could have been a little crispier). 

The burgers were pretty good too.  I had stuck with the classic.  I grabbed the burger from one place and grabbed some chips from Squid Inc.  They were chunky, fluffy and crispy hot. 


Fear not, there is plenty of booze. 

bundy bar
Head to either The Bundy Bar or XXXX Gold Bar which was the drinks of choice for the muster and they even had branded XXXX Gold!  A cold beer on 30+ day is the only way to quench the thirst right?

Want to be a little classier, this year there was the Cider and Wine bar, which is set in front of the main stage in a little garden setting and a silver bullet caravan, serving 5 Seeds apple cider and wine...although in this 33 degree heat, wine was not really something I wanted. 

Cold cider it was.

No problems walking around the grounds with your beverages.  Just gotta be over 18 to enter the bar areas (and have a wrist band to drink).

One of the not to miss events was the IWA Wrestling (okay I was part of their crew).  This was highly entertaining as the boys and the girls fought their way to potential victory. 

Just hangin' with the wrestlers.

Here I am with Harley Wonderland, just before her round.

Below is Keegan and Josh Ghat on the left and Mikey Lord and Tyson Gibbs on the right

Here we have Mikey Lord doing a moonsault on Randal

The Demo Ute Muster is also known for their awesome line up for music.  Over at the Ice Break Day stage where rising Australian country singers do there thing were Courtney Conway and Christie Lamb amongst other local talent.  Grab a bite and a cool beverage and kick back and listen to some great tunes.

Then there is the main stage and we got a sneaky sound check session during the day on Friday with the man himself.  Jimmy Barnes!  I just need a moment.

Birds of Tokyo, Morgan Evans and my favourite Cold Chisel were headlining on Friday night along with Adam Eckersley Band, The McCymonts and Lee Kernaghan on Saturday night.

Having back stage access meant we had a great little chill out area with a fire pit where we were hanging out before the show.  It was great.  Now I have been a fan of Jimmy Barnes since I was about 8 years old - so we are talking nearly 35 years.

So you can only imagine how I am feeling right about now.........

What a legend.........Jimmy ain't to bad either!

My friends and I were also had the pleasure of standing in the pit and watch Cold Chisel on stage. What an absolute highlight to top an awesome weekend. (Perhaps you saw a glimpse of me in the pit on 60 minutes last Sunday night when they interviewed Cold Chisel?) 

Cold Chisel

Day two...cannot pass up on a little bull riding.  One of the most dangerous sports in the world.  It's a crowd pleaser.  Hard core riding.

There are loads of stalls selling all your country necessities.  Akubras, boots, work shirts, saddlery, whips and you can't forget jerky.  For all your protein needs out on the farm.

We stopped by Nick's Jerky for some sampling and purchasing.  Loved their Chilli and Lime jerky and nearly blew my head off with the Trinidadian Scorpion Jerky...that was a scorcher!

Jim's Jerky was there too.  Was quiet partial to the Beer Sticks.
Now you cannot go to a car weekend without the Coates Show N Shine where ute enthusiasts have the pleasure to showcase their suped up utes.  Here we have the Playboy Ute.
My favourite of the day was the 1954 Chevy in cherry red.  Heart!

The Snail, which is a Toyota cruiser decked out for camping was the winner of the weekend.

The Snail

All I can say was the weekend was awesome.  It is hot, it is dusty, it is crowded and it is a little feral but it is one of the best weekends I have had the pleasure to be part of.  I was not only introduced to a bit of country life but also to a world of wrestling that I never new existed!

Thanks to my lovely friends who included me in this amazing weekend.  It was truly a fun weekend full of laughs, new experiences and friendship. 

All I can say is pack your swag and esky and get down to the next Deni Ute Muster (2016) and experience for yourself.  A bucket list contender for sure!