Sunday, March 26, 2006

The wonderful word of food blogging...

Hello hello hello...

You might have noticed that I like to blog. I also like to read food blogs, and here is a small selection of my favourite food blogs, that I read regularly and enjoy. There will be more to come, eventually, but for now I hope you enjoy browsing through this selection!

xox Sarah


A Few of My Favourite Things!, by Cindy. A collection of culinary adventures and discoveries.

Tomato, by Ed.

The Breakfast Blog, by Jamie. In search of the best eggs in town

Esurientes - The Comfort Zone, by Niki. In amongst a new librarianship career and performing Early Music, I'm exploring the world of cooking, baking, restaurants and photography from my home in Melbourne, Australia. I know I've now reached fanatical stage, because I've started keeping a stack of cookbooks on my bedside table for light reading...

the apprentice patissier. confessions of a thirtysomething apprentice patissier in melbourne, australia

Vicious Ange, by Ange. Diary of an addict of luscious food, fabulous wine and all things decadent.

Caper Berry Gravy, by Belinda. Australia is a fantastic place. Here is my introduction to the eateries and things to do in Melbourne, and wherever my travels lead me. I also like to cook when I can!



Grab Your Fork, by Helen in Sydney. because life is one long buffet table

Gourmet Addict, by Lushlife in Brisbane. One of my life's passions and my other hobby... preparing food for my loved ones.


When Ilana met Pantry, by Ilana in New York. Cooking my way through Tom Norrington-Davies' Cupboard Love... and trying to stay sane in the process. -- 175 recipes in 6 months!

Cookbook Addict, by Julie in France. “Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.” Jim Davis, 'Garfield'

She Who Eats, by Chika in Japan. This girl has AMAZING photos!

FooDcrazEE, by Michael in Malaysia. A Sanguine who loves to cook and else did you think the nick comes from ?

Mana Makan - The Feast Crusade, by Stephanie in Singapore. Me. Stephanie. Single workaholic chick. In my 30s, work in the arts and I dance. Suffice to say, the brain and body takes a bit of beating. Lucky to get lunch catered at work but dinner's a bugger. I have a sneaky suspicion my arteries are miming being completely choked up from eating out all the time. So, here's the Holy Trail ... the Feast Crusade. To cook delicious yet healthy food in an hour or less. Weekends are exempt when it's all out since I think I deserve it. Wok on!

And of course, the original "let's cook a whole book" blog...

The Julie/Julia Project, by Julie in New York. Nobody here but us servantless American cooks...

I've read the book, and enjoyed it, but I do think that the original blog is the best way to enjoy Julie's project.

And you guys thought that procrastination was just a hobby for me... hrmph!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I am one lucky plonker!

Yup, you drooled over the photos, you waited for it, and here it finally is - here's the text for this post...!

Tonight my old Chef (that is, my old boss) treated my family to the most wonderful dinner at his new restaurant. He moved restaurants a couple of months ago, and here is some of his work...

He's currently posted at JJ's Bar and Grill, in the Crown Entertainment Complex.

Starters: 1 Dozen oyters, half florentine, half Kilpatrick

Entrée: Crayfish risotto

Tasting plate: Veal balls (centre), grilled scallops (back, left), bruschetta (back, right), grilled prawns (front, right), grilled calamari (front, left)

That calamari was fantastic! So fresh and tender, without even a hint of rubberiness.

Main: Mum & Dad chose Rare Angus beef with deep fried zucchini flower stuffed with ricotta and basil.

I had, grilled barramundi with the zucchini flower.

Side: Perfect roast potatoes with rosemary.

Just check out the inside of that steak. Drool.

Dessert: Fresh fruit platter.

Wow! How fabulous.

I could not fault the meal at all, everything was delicious. We all know that I never really enjoyed working at the restaurant, but stayed for much longer than I should have because the pay was good, and my boss was wonderful (as a boss and as a chef). But you really don't need to take my word for it, just check out the above photos!

Chef rocks.

JJ's Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 20, 2006

Pancake Stack

I really, really wanted a stack of pancakes.

And the week before my Sydney trip, I saw the stack of Pancake Day Pancakes that Niki had made on her blog, which filled me with hungry envy. Even though I did make pancakes on that day, (fabulous American breakfast pancakes), my presentation sucked. I did my usual gimpy thing of arranging them in a cocentric circles on a plate. Yawn.

Additionally, I'd been home from Sydney for almost 2 weeks, and I still hadn't recovered from the shit pancakes we'd eaten.

So at the first available opportunity, I made a stack of pancakes, and photographed them in glorious close-up. Last weekend, a couple of mates crashed at my house after we went out to a club one night, and when we got up, it was pancake time.

I didn't follow a recipe for this - just mixed an egg into some flour, and then added milk until it looked right. Then stacked them all up on a warmed plate, covered it with a dob of butter and then drowned it in maple syrup.

ariel view

Stack it baby.

Not quite as fabulous as Niki's ones, but still pretty damn delicious.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Sydney Weekend: Shittest Pancakes Ever

Ok, so we'd had the fab Vesbar breakfast... and come lunch time, we were hungry again.

And we really wanted pancakes.

Josh had been flicking through my camera, and seen the photo of the fab ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter that my friend An had eaten at bills Woolahra, and suddenly wanted pancakes... bad.

I suggested going back to bills, but we were hanging around Circular Quay, and a friend of a friend told us that there was a famous pancake place around there. We were too tired to trek across the city, so we went to the "famous pancake place". It was called House of Pancakes or something like that, and it was in this old touristy building with souvenir shops and shite like that in it. It didn't look too promising.

But we went in, and got a table, and the waitstaff were really friendly. They even had a fab video juke box! In the spirit of the weekend, we played Scissor Sisters' Filthy/Gorgeous, Kylie Minogue's Love at First Sight and Cher's If I Could Turn Back Time. How fabulous.

But oh my god, the pancakes (excuse the language) were fucking shite.

They looked pretty good though...

green milkshake

short stack

choc banana shite

pancakes with sauce

strawberry pancakes


But they were so so so so so crap. Totally bland, not enough sauce, and just totally unsatisfying. And disgustingly, their "grilled" bananas were just that - grilled, no butter, just plonked straight onto the grill. DISGUSTING. They weren't even warm - just brown dry bananas. They tasted rotten.

How terrible.

I mean, they were so disgusting, that as soon as we got to the airport, I had to eat a whole pack of Red Rooster chips just to get the feral crap-pancake taste out of my mouth. And Red Rooster chips are always brilliant. So thankfully, our last meal for the Sydney '06 weekend wasn't totally crap!

satisfying chips

The Sydney Weekend: One more hungover (non-bills) breakfast

Well, I wasn't really "hungover", just super-tired. I have no idea why we got a room with a 10am checkout the day after the Mardi Gras parade, giving our whole group about 4 hours of sleep each. Sheesh.

Anyway, for our last breakfast for our Sydney '06 trip, I obviously wanted bills. The closest one, bills on Crown street, Surry Hills, had a 45 minute wait. And we were starving! Grrr..

So we walked slightly down the hill on the same street, and came across another little cafe, called Vesbar. It was nice and quiet and dark in there, with retro Italian scooter-inspired decor.




And all we wanted was variations on the "bacon and eggs plus extras" theme, with coffee/tea/hot chocolate.





more breakfasts

more breakfasts

Yum, yum, yum. I had a little dish of ricotta with my scrambled eggs and bacon, which was divine!

The coffee was good, the vibe was relaxed, and the eggs and bacon were fantastic. It was just what we needed. Can you believe it, I didn't miss bills at all. Shh...

Josh: That was honestly the best cooked breakfast I've ever had.


Monday, March 06, 2006

The Sydney Weekend: Best pie ever

So, you thought bills was special? You ain't seen nothing yet.

Late, late, late on Saturday night, I ate the best pie ever. It was from some dingy all-night deli, it was lukewarm, and it was the best thing I've ever eaten.

Let me explain.

On the night of the Mardi Gras parade, the city of Sydney goes nuts. Going from your hotel to the parade, to the parties, and back to your hotel again becomes a military obstacle course - you have to dodge huge crowds, drunk and disorderly party goers, rude cab drivers, and not to mention the roadblocks which make navigating Sydney's already difficult streets virtually impossible.

I finally arrived back at my hotel room at about 2:30am, starving and exhausted, with aching feet and ringing ears. I sat down, and messaged my dear friend An, who was still out.

"Hey An, I'm back at the hotel. Could you do me a huge favour and buy me some hot food on your way home? Preferably pizza/chips, but anything's ok. And no rush at all! See you soon."

When he came back, he brought a pie from the only servo that was still open.

I inhaled it in about 10 seconds flat, and it was the best thing ever.


pie in packet



The Sydney Weekend: bill-grimage 3

And now we get to my favourite of all Bill’s restaurants, bills in Woolahra. This is the newest of the 3, having only been opened last year. It’s in Queen’s Court, on Queen Street, in leafy Woolahra.

queens court

Queen's Court
118 Queen Street
Woollahra NSW
2025 Australia
T +61 2 9328 7997

We (An, myself, and 2 other friends Nick and Mark) went on Saturday for lunch, straight from the Pyrmont Growers Market. Most of the tables are in a lovely outdoor courtyard, but we got a table inside. (It was already a 20-minute wait for an indoor table, and we didn’t want to wait any longer). There are some really nice shops around though, so if you have to wait for longer, it’s not a huge problem.

bills woolhara


As always, I started with a latté.


Scrambled eggs with aged cheddar for Nick

Sweetcorn fritters with bacon, roast tomatoes and salsa for me

Scrambled eggs with salmon for Mark

Ricotta hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter for An.

Sadly, An couldn’t finish his hotcakes, so I had to eat them for him. *Sigh* Life is tough.

The Sydney Weekend: Pyrmont Growers Market

On Saturday morning, I got up at a ridiculously early hour of the morning, and made my way down to the monthly Pyrmont Growers' Market. It's on the water, right in front of the Star City casino, and it happens on the first Saturday of every month. I've wanted to go ever since I read about it at Helen's blog a while back. Lucky it coincided with my trip!

There are lots of different stalls, selling various food products, drinks etc.

You can even get fresh snails there. I didn't buy any.

We got some breakfast food, (and coffee and juice), and went and sat in the shade, nursing our hangovers and wondering how I'd managed to convince my friends to traipse off to a market after having had only 4 hours of sleep.

It was a good market though, I enjoyed it!

you want an egg in a bap?

This stall sold fried eggs and bacon in a bread roll with delicious chilli jam.

egg in a bap in a bag

After that, my friend Mark was still hungry, so he got a roll with bacon, onion and chorizo sausage from another stall.


What can I say? He's a hungry boy.

mark and sausage

The Sydney Weekend: bill-grimage 2

On Friday, we went to bills cafe for lunch, and had been planning on going to Kylie Kwong's restaurant for dinner. However, they don't take bookings, and when we arrived, we were informed that it would be a 1.5 hour wait for a table! We didn't want to wait, so we just went next door to bills 2.

This was the one that I visited the last time I came to Sydney, and it's been refurbished since then. Previously, it had a slightly industrial look - all polished steel benches. But now it's a lot softer and warmer, with wooden benches and softer coloured chairs. I quite like it.

To start, I had a deep-fried zucchini flower with a garlic yogurt.

Yum! This is one of my fave things to eat, but they can be hard to find. And it was only $3.50!

For main, An had delicious pork...

Maple-glazed pork loin with asparagus, peas, broadbeans and corn. There weren't any broadbeans in it though, only cherry tomatoes.

I had a baby lentil salad with beetroot, green beans, and goat's curd.

lentil salad

And for dessert, An had seasonal stone fruit roast with almonds, Ligurian honey and served with brittle ice-cream. It looked great, but was very, very sweet.

I had the cheapest dessert on the menu, a buttermilk pannacotta with a few berries. It was light and refreshing, and beautiful!

buttermilk pannacotta

Bill twice in one day? I must be dreaming.

The Sydney Weekend: bill-grimage 1

I went to Sydney.

I went to bills.

3 times.

Do you know who Bill Granger is? He's that blonde restauranter / cookbook author / media darling / celebrity-chef / all-round nice guy who makes delicious food and is a walking advertisment for the merits of the Sydney lifestyle.

Last year, my culinary pilgrimage to Sydney (or should I say, "bill-grimage"), only involved visiting bills 2 in Surry Hills. This year, we went to all three of his restaurants, and I can safely say that I am fully converted to the Bill way.

In the blurb of his latest book, simply bill, it states, "There are many people for whom a visit to Sydney is not complete without a meal at bills". And I am one of those many people!

Here are the photos from our first visit to bills this weekend. My friend An & I had lunch on Friday at bills Darlinghurst (the original one).

433 Liverpool Street

NSW 2010
T +61 2 9360 9631

bills is on a corner of a winding suburban street, and is a medium-sized space with a light, airy atmosphere.

bills interior

2 lovely lattes

Black pepper and pink Murray River salt is provided at the table.

Pepper and Murray River salt

An had a massive serving of scrambled eggs with toast and mushrooms. It was beautiful, but he couldn't finish it.

An: WOW! How many eggs are in this?
Me: Probably 2. And then lots of cream, haha.
An: What, full cream milk?
Me: No, real cream. Lots of it. I've seen him make it on tv.

I had the slightly healthier option of parmesan-crusted chicken breast served with a crunchy fennel 'slaw. I'd seen this in his recipe books, but had never been tempted to make it. However, the dude sitting at the table next to us was eating one, and it smelled fantastic. So I had to order one. And it tasted fantastic too!

parmesan-encrusted chicken with fennel 'slaw

An wasn't in the mood for dessert after his eggs, but I couldn't go past the lovely cakes that were displayed on the counter. (They look just like the pictures of the cakes and desserts in his books!) I asked the waitress to tell me what they all were, and I chose a blueberry, macadamia and white chocolate cake. Drool.


blueberry white choc macadamia

The cake was served with a jug of runny cream, which was lovely poured over the cake.


There weren't chunks of white chocolate in it, rather, the chocolate was melted and mixed through the batter. I love cakes made with melted white chocolate - it adds a rich and dense smoothness to the cake better, and infuses it with a lovely buttery-vanilla flavour. Fab! I'm a total white chocolate fiend though, and I'd have chucked white chocolate chunks in there too if I had a choice. In fact, cut the middle man, and give me a bar of white chocolate. Or just hook some white chocolate up to my veins...

Apparently Bill Granger himself was in the building at the time. I know this because a couple brought in their cookbooks and got a waitress to take them down to the bill office for him to autograph. He didn't come up though - apparently it takes a lot of work to run 3 restaurants and be a celebrity chef, and he was in meetings and filming his new series.