Monday, 18 January 2016

Travel Photo of the Month - January 2016

Everyone that knows me would know that I have had a fascination with the Deep South ever since I was a little girl.  From the history, the food, the accent, the landscape I just love it.  Perhaps I have read (and watched) Gone with the Wind and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil to many times.  Heck, my favourite movie of all time is Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café.

Whatever the cause of the fascination I know that it will be everlasting.  I was eager to visit Savannah, Georgia back in 2003 during a trip from Miami to Boston on the Greyhound (an adventure in itself!).

This old (refurbished) paddle steamer, the Georgia Queen docked on the Savannah River had me fantasising of times gone by.

Sitting by eating freshly made taffy and a belly full of fried catfish made for a fabulous day on the river.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Chiosco by Ormeggio @ The Spit

Being whisked over to Mosman for a team Christmas lunch is always welcomed and most definitely appreciated. It is a glorious sunny December day (amid some bad weather days) to dine alfresco on the jetty overlooking the marina and Middle Harbour at Chiosco by Ormeggio, the more casual dining restaurant sister to Ormeggio (just on the other side of the jetty). The concept is Italian Trattoria and it's modern, fresh and judging by other diners good portion sizes!

Enjoying a glass of bubbles and admiring the view we peruse our menu for today and we are all excited about what is about to be served.
There are 15 people dining with us today so we have the Chefs Sharing Feast.
We start with some Pane. Fresh from the Ormeggio bakery the organic sourdough has a wonderful thick crust and fluffy dough. The bread is served simply with extra virgin olive oil.
The Burrata is served broken into creamy mozza chunks scattered on the plate with crispy kale, capers and crispy organic sourdough crumbs.  Each dish serves 3-4 people on the table.

Boxes (and I do mean boxes) of Fritto misto arrive next. School prawns and baby calamari coated in a semolina batter and deep fried to a crunchy mass of deliciousness. Served with a tangy lemon mayo. This was definitely my favourite of the day.


The Baccala fritters are moreish. The creamy potato centres were fluffy and the salted cod hinted of salt. topped with a creamy herb mayo this were good little bites.

A bowl of mussels arrive that are sauteed in a garlic, chilli and tomato sauce served with garlic bread. The mussels are plump and delicious.  The bread was soggy as it had soaked up a lot of the sauce.


Next up, Gnocchi with a pork cheeks, peas and a pea puree arrived.   The gnocchi were pillowy soft and the pork cheek was rich and had a depth of flavour that was surprising. Fresh peas are delicious!  this was topped with crispy strips of bacon.

A platter of the Gamerboni, Pollo alla Diavola and Corn arrived.


The plate consisted of grilled split king prawns with a lovely chilli and lemon dressing, free range chicken with chilli, rosemary and grilled lemon and cobs of corn dusted with paprika and pecorino.

The chicken was spicy and crispy and very tender and juicy.

 The grilled king prawns were fabulous and easy to eat as they were already split. The char on them gave them a great flavour.

I think the corn speaks for itself. Corn with spice and cheese is always a winner in my books.

We finished the meal off with a box of Bombolone and Cannolo. Some may have had coffee, I continued with bubbles.

The bombolone are donut balls filled with nutella and dusted in sugar. These are addictive! 

The Cannolo is filled with sweet ricotta. The shell is on the softer side but the sweet filling is light.

Chiosco has a great wine selection but it is also BYO (which we did as it was easier for us). As you can see I took a bottle with me on the boat.

We finished the afternoon off on the boat cruising around Middle Harbour and around through the heads before being dropped off at Darling Harbour. Bubbles on board and good banter amongst colleagues topped off a perfect afternoon!

Chiosco Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Roo Travels - Chicago 2010

It is a Throwback Thursday for a Roo Travels post. Where are we going? 

The Windy City - Chicago

Back in 2010 I had the pleasure of spending a weekend (well 5 days for me) in Chicago with a group of wonderful ladies that I had met through a common interest online.  We all ended up having a girls weekend to meet and greet.  I just so happened to be visiting the States at around the same time so added on a week before my trip to go.  Although our contact is rare these days as our lives have all gone different ways and journeys have led down different paths, I still call these ladies friends.  They have become a part of me and only they can understand what that means.  Hopefully one day we can be reunited again.  A big shout out to you ladies (if any of you are reading this). 

I digress.

Although this trip was not centred around food (as such) I took a few opportunities to discover some of Chicago's culinary delights.  I was super impressed with Chicago and I hope to return one day again to discover more.  The first thing I loved about Chicago is being about to walk the streets and being able to pop into a bar or a shop.  This may sound weird to many, but at the time I was living in Dubai and that is just not possible there.  Dubai is not a walking city.  It is all shopping malls and hotels (where you will find the bars).

So I was super excited to get amongst it.

First day I actually stayed close to the hotel and found Heaven on Seven, which is actually a Cajun restaurant (reputed to be the best Louisiana cooking outside New Orleans).  I will admit we ended up eating here about 3 times over the course of my stay!  Don't worry there are plenty of Chicago eats coming up too.

I was flabbergasted at the chilli sauce selection!  Wall to wall shelves showcasing every chili sauce you could possibly find!

Each table had it's own selection but you could swap from table to table if you wanted something else.

Gotta start with a  cup of gumbo.  This was thick, rich and hearty. Served traditionally with a side of crackers.

Not exactly Cajun but after living where I had been this was pure comfort. Chicken Fried Steak with creamy roasted garlic mash, vegies and cream gravy. 

This was so good!  Tender beef, good breading and the cream gravy was thick and clung to the meat. 
I know peeps in Australia don't understand the 'chicken fried steak' concept (sometimes called Country Fried Steak). The steak is usually chuck, flank or round.  It is tenderised and breaded then fried in a skillet (typically).
Then it was off to met the gang.
Later that evening, the early arrivals headed to Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill which is known for great Mexican street food.
We shared a serve of the guacamole and fresh tortilla chips and the Classic Queso Fundido with jack cheese, roasted pobalnos, caramelised onions and homemade chorizo.

Nothing beats fresh avocado and lime just mixed and scooped up with a crispy corn tortilla.
The Fundido is a hot, gooey mess and is delicious!

It was at this point, some 38 hours after departing Dubai, flying and being awake the whole time that I was falling asleep in my taco.  It is also at this point (and some 5 years later) that I realise I don't actually remember what taco it was.  I know it tasted great. Don't worry I did eat my taco before I headed back to the hotel for some zzz's. 

There was a visit to the Hersheys store too.


You could even purchase the world's largest Hershey's Kiss, filled with lots of little kisses too.  As much as I was tempted I knew luggage space was tight.

Back to Heaven on Seven for a couple of meals (I'll do this all in one go and get on with Chicago eats).  I do love the décor at Heaven on Seven (Wabash St)

Sharing with a friend we had to do the Fried Green Tomatoes and I can't help think of my favourite movie of all time "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Café" every time I eat them.

The tomato is green and unripe and fries well with the thick breaded coating and served with a thick warm remoulade sauce.
I think I also got a serve of the Fried Green Tomatoes and Crab served with a corn remoulade sauce (as pictured)

another cup of that good gumbo (hold the rice this time).

The jalapeno cheddar corn muffin was massive!  Fluffy, mealy cheesey and just a hint of heat.  It was awesome with whipped butter.

I also had the 1 lb. Fried Shrimp Dinner which came with a side of Cajun coleslaw and honey jalapeno dressing plus 2 sides (which for the life of me can't work out what I chose!).

As I previously mentioned, it wasn't all food. We did an Architectural River Cruise which was actually quite interesting. Some of the building in Chicago are beautiful.

Cruisin' past the newspaper buildings

Decide a tattoo was needed, so I did that too!

My mantra....
While in Chicago I also undertook a 5km fun run for the Susan G Komen Foundation a non-profit break cancer organisation.  A small group of us ladies did it together.  This was the first 5km run (okay I managed to jog a good 90% of it) that I had done in over 10 years after losing nearly 55 kilos.  I was very proud of this moment!

But we want the eats!


So I had a day to myself and headed out on a big foodie day of Chicago.  I am not one for McDonald's but I was curious about their sausage biscuit on the breakfast menu. While eating in I was transported into a Jetson's episode with this very cool Golden Arches building. 

The sausage biscuit was pretty good.  Basic but so much better than a Sausage McMuffin!

Onto the real stuff.  Billy Goat Tavern famous for their cheezborger!  There are a few branches around Chicago but the original is on Michigan Avenue - underground.

This is the bar area inside the Tavern.

Enjoying a beer and a cheezborger...before it got busy.  Kaiser bun, double beef patty, cheese, pickles

Next stop is Portillo's for hotdogs.  I feel like I'm stepping into a 40's Gangster movie set.  The themeing is playful. 

Apparently a lot of stuff has also been purchased from the original Chicago stadium.

 Going for the classic hotdog with everything including mustard, relish, freshly chopped onions, sliced red ripe tomatoes, kosher pickle and sport peppers piled onto a perfectly steamed poppy seed bun.

A good beef dawg...and those pickled chillis are crunchy, sour and fab!

My last stop before heading out of the city was at Gino's East of Chicago - the place to get deep dish pizzas, which are a Chicago staple!

This was a pepperoni deep dish.

and deep it is....ooey, gooey, cheesy pizza with a thick crust.  I only ate 1 slice and the rest I took to my hotel for a late night dinner (I was staying out near the airport in a dodgy motel).
I think this must be one of the very few restaurants where you can graffiti the walls and chairs!! Looks pretty cool.

So I had to leave my signature!

Chicago was a fabulous city.  There is so much to explore, eat and see.  I only had a few days there and not nearly enough time to do more.

It's on the list for a must return.

Heaven on Seven Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato  - Heaven on Seven