Friday, 29 October 2010

let's do lunch at number one wine bar

It was the last of my Let’s Do Lunch occasions for this year’s Crave Sydney International Food Festival and I headed down to Circular Quay’s Number One Wine Bar with three work friends: Lustm, Catfish and Giuseppe.

As I slipped off to get some cash, the crew ordered our $35 special of grilled Hawkesbury skate with capers, kipfler potatoes and Beurre Noisette.

Our Brown Brother’s wine was a choice of vermentino or tempranillo. Lustm and I went white, Catfish went red and Giuseppe was medicated, so no alcohol for him. Instead our kindly waiter whipped up a freshly squeezed pear, apple and blood orange juice. Nice.

When the food arrived it was superb.

The skate was juicy and tender, flaking off in shreds of perfectly cooked white flesh. It matched wonderfully with thin curls of lemon zest, tiny salty capers and what seemed like thin slices of green olives. These were balanced well with the waxiness of the sliced kipflers and verdant beans.

And I forgot how wonderful a well-cooked Beurre Noisette can taste! I almost swooned from my chair when the buttery nuttiness exploded in my mouth. It’s such a simple sauce, but rarely done as well as this.

Unlike many mains, every mouthful of this dish was fresh and flavoursome, dancing across my tongue.

The boys were in shock (and a little squeamish) when Catfish and I told them skate was just a fancy name for stingray, but that didn’t deter them from devouring their whole meal.

After our mains we couldn’t help but order the (very well priced!) $7 dessert special: vanilla bean ice cream, berry tart and mango mousse. Each little item was perfectly balanced and singing with true flavours (real vanilla beans, fresh mango pulp, soft bright berries).

Our lovely waiter generously donated the last four glasses of a bottle of Brown Brother’s Orange Flora Muscat. Double nice.

We clinked glasses. We drank.

Hey, it’s Friday afterall!

Number One Wine Bar & Bistro on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 24 October 2010

crave sydney intl food festival - week 3

Hyde Park Barracks by Monica (Love My Foods & Sugar)
Here's the round-up of food blogging activities for week three of the Crave Sydney International Food Festival.

Bilson's by Monica
Week three is still pretty busy, but it means that next week is your last chance to snap up the tasty festival treats and cheap deals.

Cocktail of the Month
Gourmantic (Gourmantic) is drank up at Monkey Magic with a cocktail made with gin, cucumber, honey and absinthe.

Hats Off Dinner
Monica (Love My Foods & Sugar) made it to one of the famous Hats Off dinners, this one on Nouvelle Cuisine at Bilson's Restaurant. Some pretty tasty photos.

Thelma & Louise Mademoiselle Délicieuse (Spoon, Fork & Chopsticks)
Let's Do Brunch
D (Here Comes The Food) had a great meal at Efendy, Monica (Love My Foods & Sugar) tried out the 'sunny' Hyde Park Barracks Café, Mademoiselle Délicieuse (Spoon, Fork & Chopsticks) experienced a north-side brunch at Thelma & Louise Café and Penguin (Penguin Says Feed Me) staked out Café Ish.

Let's Do Lunch
It's tagine at Sean's Kitchen by Aimee (Aimee Chanthadavong) and crispy-skinned chicken at my own lunching experience at Guillaume at Bennelong.

It was a village atmosphere at the Summer Hill Grand Food Bazaar by Lisa (Lisa Perkovic)

Pub Grub Pies
One of the little known additions to this year's festival is the interesting pub pie special which I have been spending quite some time searching out. First at the Lord Nelson Brewery and then a Balmain and Rozelle pub pie crawl visiting the Riverview Hotel, the Welcome Hotel, the Royal Oaks Hotel and the 3 Weeds.

Tomislav by Billy (A Table for Two)
Special Dinners
Franz (Australian Gourmet Pages) had a great time at the Young Chefs Dinner at Rockpool Bar & Grill , Jane (Jane Cooks Live) supported sustainable cooking at the 10 Mile Dinner at Dank Street Depot while Billy (A Table for Two)Suze (Chocolate Suze) and Monica (Love My Foods & Sugar) were all at the amazing Just Desserts dinner at Tomislav. I have my eye on this restaurant. It looks fantastic.

Grace Hotel by Ffichiban (Here Comes The Food)
Sugar Hits
These dessert plates are still as popular as they are every year with visits to Bacco Chifley Plaza by Monica (Love My Foods & Sugar), The Westin by Aimee (Aimee Chanthadavong), Azuma Patisserie by Lee (The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry), Monkey Magic by Gourmantic (Gourmantic) and a strong effort put in by Ffichiban (Here Comes The Food) with three hits in one night at the Grace Hotel, Bacco & Shangri-La Hotel

Talk & Taste
The bubbly Jayne (Champagne Jayne) posted a video on her subject of passion and expertise, champagne.

Grace Hotel by Minh (Eat Show and Tell)
World Dinners
The Malaysian Food Festival at the Grace Hotel posted by Minh (Eat Show and Tell) looks like quite an experience and is open for lunch and dinner.

If I missed your post or you want to join next week's round-up, read this post to find out how.

The next (and last) round-up will be posted Sunday 31st October. Better get eating!

Hyde Park Barracks by Monica (Love My Foods & Sugar)

balmain & rozelle pub pie crawl

Who ate all the pies?
Who ate all the pies?

I did!!!

Well at least I ate the ones on our Pub Pie Crawl through Rozelle and Balmain today.

Five friends sent out on a journey of pie discovery, traipsing the streets in the cold and rain to discover who is offering the best pie out of all the amazing pubs of Balmain and Rozelle.

As part of the Crave Sydney International Food Festival, pubs around Sydney are offering a pint of Coopers Pale Ale and a special pie for $20.

I’d already tried the beef and mushy peas pie from the Lord Nelson Brewery, but today was an attempt on the six pies offered in the Balmain and Rozelle area.

Our first stop, the London Hotel and their Lamb Shank Pie, was vetoed by Jonas and M.E. who both don’t like lamb. Boo hoo. I love lamb. Oh well.

And unfortunately we ran out of time and didn’t try the Rabbit & Porcini Pie at Dicks Hotel. Another missed opportunity as later a waitress at our winning pie pub told us Dick’s pie is also particularly good.

From the four pies we tried, every pie was given a score out of 5, as voted by me, Jonas, M.E., Shamu and Tombolina, with the highest possible score a perfect 25.

We had some generous voters (Shamu) and some harsh voters (M.E.). Here are the results.

Wild Hare Pie (9.5 out of 25)
3 Weeds (193-197 Evans St, Rozelle)

With all the praise lavished on the 3 Weeds bistro, this was the pie that I thought would be the best. Surprisingly, it turned out to be the worst.

It looked delicious, a huge oval of golden pastry, but one you stabbed into this pot pie with a fork the pastry lid turned out to be very thin and inside was a shallow layer of watery stew rather than thick gravy and meat.

In fact, of the two pies we shared each had only one small fragment of hare meat and the rest of the filling was made up of carrot and potato.

The boys did say the carrot and hare combo got a point for irony, but overall it was a poor effort and very disappointing for such a renowned foodie pub.

9.5 hops

Pale Little Duck Pie (15.5 out of 25)
Royal Oak Hotel (36 College St, Balmain)

This was our first stop and the pie was completely encased in perfectly cooked pastry. The interior was dense with shredded duck meat that wasn’t at all runny.

It was very well presented, atop a mountain of mash and spinach leaves and although it was good, it’s didn’t hit you in the face with flavour.

Shamu and I really liked this pie for its subtly (Shamu rated it her second favourite), whereas Tombolina, M.E. and Jonas wanted more of a flavour smackdown.

15.5 quacks.

Coopie Chicken Pie (19 out of 25)
Welcome Hotel (91 Evans St, Rozelle)

This one really hit the spot. We cooed over the huge pot pie covered with thick, flaky pastry and a side of cream sweet corn.

Once we broke through to the filling we were met with gooey, oozing cheese-smothered chicken. It was delicious.

The serve was very generous, so the boys liked it, but Shamu got a few mouthfuls of gristle so that took a few points off.

19 clucks.

Berkshire Pork & Apple Cider Pie (22 out of 25)
The Riverview Hotel (29 Birchgrove Rd, Balmain)

This was our winner!

We came to the Riverview just after 3pm and were turned away as the kitchen had closed for lunch service. It was a bit upsetting watching the tasty-looking pie being served to other tables and initially we had this pub down as “pie fail”, but after our disappointing 3 Weeds experience we trekked back to the Riverview to give it a go.

I’m glad we did. Everyone unanimously gave it their top score.

The pie was very beautifully presented with mash and mushy pies, and a blob of wonderful Dijon mustard on the side.

The pastry was crusty on top but softer on the sides, and once you broke into the centre a luscious aroma of pork wafted out. The filling was chunky, flecked with darker pink pieces of ham and moist and sweet from the apple cider. A perfect match to the mustard.

It was a gourmet pie and tasted truly superb, definitely worth $20. Even if it was smaller than the chicken pie, the flavour was much more sophisticated.

22 oinks and our winner!

If you want to go on your own Rozelle & Balmain pie pub crawl, here’s a helpful Google map to help you make it happen. You’ve got one more week and one more weekend to do it!

View 2010 Pub Pie Crawl in a larger map

Saturday, 23 October 2010

let's do lunch at guillaume at bennelong

Nice view . . . of the amazing butter!
 I climb the stairs to the Opera House after a long walk in warm weather and high heels. I’m parched and in desperate need of a drink. When I throw open the door to Guillaume at Bennelong, I am surprised to find an empty entrance area and an empty restaurant.

Cautiously I walk down the stairs towards the reception desk and am almost bowled over by some overly excited middle-aged women. From cavernously empty, the restaurant is suddenly alive with a flood of people coming up the stairs from within the depths of the Opera House.

I realise they have just opened their doors and I have somehow come in “the back”. Oopps.

I was supposed to be having my third Let’s Do Lunch with Stinky, but she had to work.
Hey, don’t go feeling too bad for her just yet! She’s a travel agent and her “work” consisted of a free week in the USA visiting LA, the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree National Park and Las Vegas. Tough life.

Instead of giving up the booking, Tia Bicky and I decide to live it up with a nice lunch together in civilised surrounds. They give us a pretty good table, with a partial view of the Harbour Bridge. No complaints here.

The wait staff are all extremely friendly. Everyone smiles and greets us. Everyone.

While we chat about the skyrocketing prices of houses in Newtown (Bicky & Robot are trying to buy), soft slices of perfectly crusted sourdough are set down with beautiful salty butter. I could eat a slab of that butter on its own.

Roasted free-range chicken breast with a tombe of silverbeet on a bed of cauliflower puree, olives and lemon confit jus
 Our Let’s Do Lunch special looks and sounds simple, but like most French food you feel the time they chefs have spent making the sauces and the accompaniments that make these simple dishes taste amazing.

The chicken was cooked wonderfully, a crispy skin covering juicy meat without even a hint of dryness. The silverbeet provided an iron-flavour, counter balancing the sweet tomato and the velvety purée. The jus lifted the dish from being too heavy while the smear of olive tapenade gave a rich flavour. Just superb.

Baby beans with pistachio pesto
 Our side of baby beans with pistachio pesto ($14) is wonderful. The pesto is perfect with flecks of salt bursting out through the herbs and nuts. I just adore the sides and Bicky and I have no trouble finishing our vegetables.

That means dessert!

Although a few of the al a carte desserts tickle my fancy, Bicky is trying to reduce her cholesterol so we opt for petit fours instead. Oh woe, life over age thirty!

The petit fours ($8) turn out to be the perfect choice. There’s actually 6 tasty treats for us to try and they are all delicious.

I will present them to you in ascending order of greatness:

Liquorice Macarons

Pistachio Macarons

Strawberry & Vanilla Cream Tarts

Salted Caramels

Passionfruit Jellies

We leave full, satisfied and ready to walk back to work, uphill in heels in the heat.

But I'm tough :)

Guillaume at Bennelong on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 21 October 2010

pub pies at the lord nelson brewery

Seven work colleagues in Australia’s oldest pub brewery, drinking beer and eating pie.

Yes, it was a productive working day.

As part of the Crave Sydney International Food Festival pubs around town are offering a pint of Cooper’s Pale Ale with their own special pie.

The Lord Nelson Brewery is a beautiful old pub built out of local sandstone in 1841. The interior reflects its colonial history and the pub brews six permanent ales and then a few seasonal ales.

If you ever visit Sydney, the Lord Nelson is a nice slice of history with some tasty beers.

But we’re here for the pie. It’s a simple meat pie with mushy pies. Traditional but well done.

It’s filling and the Cooper’s Pale Ale washes down nicely.

If only every work day was like this . . . . .

Monday, 18 October 2010

ottolenghi's radish & broad bean salad

Ali Beggs texted me last night to say I must be reading her mind.

First she was after a banana cake recipe, and I posted my banana bread on the blog.

Next she was planning dinner at Efendy, and I had posted my glorious Let’s Do Brunch experience.

She was starting to wonder what was going on, so she texted me to double check I wasn’t cooking broad beans too . . .

Well, now that you mention it . . . . .

This happens to be one of the best salads I’ve eaten in a long time and it comes from my favourite cookbook of the moment, Ottolenghi.

The recipes inside this book are so special. The ingredients are (mostly) easy to find and cheap to buy yet the way they’re put together and the flavours that surround them seem fresh and vibrant and unique.

This salad is a perfect example, using common ingredients in a unique combination which (most importantly!) tastes delicious.

Please do try it.

You too Ali Beggs!

Radish & Broad Bean Salad w Green Tahini Sauce

Recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi. Serves 4.

500g shelled broad beans, fresh or frozen
350g small radishes
½ red onion, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
30g preserved lemon, finely chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 thick pita breads
Salt and black pepper
200ml Green tahini sauce (see below)


1. Place the broad beans in a pan of boiling water and simmer for 1–2 minutes, depending on size.

2. Drain through a large colander and rinse in plenty of cold water to refresh them. Remove the beans from their skins by gently squeezing each one with your fingertips.

3. Cut the radishes into 6 wedges each.

4. Mix with the broad beans, onion, coriander, preserved lemon, lemon juice, parsley, olive oil and cumin. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. To serve, pile a mound of salad in one corner of each serving plate, pour the tahini sauce into a small bowl and stand it next to the salad. Serve with pita bread.

Note: you can see from our photos we decided to add some spring peas too.

Green Tahini Sauce

150ml tahini paste
150ml water
80ml lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ teaspoon salt
30g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped if making by hand


1. If using a food processor or a blender, process together all the ingredients except the parsley until creamy and smooth. If it is too thick, add more water. Add the parsley and turn the machine on again for a second or two. Taste for seasoning.

2. If making by hand, thoroughly whisk the tahini, water, lemon juice, garlic and salt together. Stir in the chopped parsley, then taste and add more salt if needed.

This is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging, this week hosted by Chris from Mele Cotte.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

crave sydney intl food festival - week 2

Penguin Says Feed Me
Other week has gone by and we’re halfway through the month long Crave Sydney International Food Festival.

Sydney food bloggers have been busy-busy-bees and here is the honey.

First up I want to share these great maps tracking festival events across Sydney, pulled together by one clever fox, Pamela (And Other Fancy Stuff).

Cocktail of the Month
Bacco Wine Bar Tina (Food, Boozes and Shoes)
La Scala on Jersey Gourmantic (Gourmantic)

Citrus and Candy

Sydney Food Bloggers "Mad Hatter Spring Picnic"
Organised by Billy (A Table For Two) and Karen (Citrus and Candy), there were a lot of delicious treats enjoyed by food bloggers like Ladybird (Diary of a Ladybird), Phuoc (Phuoc'n Delicious) and Julie (I Dream In Chocolate).


Diary of a Ladybird
 Hands On (classes)
One of the things I didn't get around to booking into was the excellent cooking classes held during this month.
bel mondo Master Class with Andy Ball Sheena (A Sticky Affair)
Tea & Dessert Matching @ Sweetness Pastisserie Jenny (Panda & Cakes)

Let's Do Brunch
Two more early rising bloggers headed out for festival breakfasts. Betty (The Hungry Girl) visited the Bitton Gourmet Cafe and while I headed off for an amazing meal at Efendy.

Let's Do Lunch
My sister and I spent a lovely afternoon at Aria whereas BiteMe (Bite Size Review) managed to clock in at Becasse and QVB Tea Rooms.

Spicy Ice Cream


It was the first week of the annual Night Noodle Markets where two hungry bloggers found some treats: Penguin (Penguin Says Feed Me) and Gourmantic (Gourmantic).
Lisa (Spicy Ice Cream) made delicious preserves and granola with Denea (Gourmet Rabbit) for sale at the Reservoir Bazaar.

Gourmantic (Gourmantic) was extra busy with a second market visit, this time to the Summer Hill Food Bazaar.

Eat, Show and Tell
Special Dinners
Video blogger, Yianni (Yianni's City Life), captured Turkey’s Musa Dagdeviren and chef Somer Sivrioglu whip up a Turkish feast Efendy.
Minh (Eat Show and Tell) was luck to experience the delicious artistry of Janice Wong @ Sepia.
Franz (Australian Gourmet Pages) managed to photograph every course at this once in a lifetime event from NY's wizz kid Wylie Dufresne and Aussie Brent Savage WD-50 & Bentley Dinner.

Eat, Show and Tell
Sugar Hit
Two bloggers enjoyed their dessert treat this week and both went to the InterContinental Hotel: Squishes (Eat Show and Tell) and Simon (Simon Food Favourites)

World Chef Showcase
Some of the brightest and rising stars of the food world joined Australian experts to cook and discuss food over the last weekend. SBS Food recruited some bloggers for comprehensive coverage or you could search by interest:
Saturday Morning
Asian Andrew (702 Weekends SIFF blogger)
Asian Rebecca (Inside Cuisine)
Contemporary Creative Anna (Morsels & Musings)
Saturday Afternoon
Contemporary Creative Jules (The Stone Soup)
Middle East/Mediterranean Anna (Morsels & Musings)
Sunday Morning
Middle East/Mediterranean Amanda (The Cake & The Knife)
Sunday Afternoon
Contemporary Creative Helen (Grab Your Fork)
Middle East/Mediterranean Denea (Gourmet Rabbit)

If I missed your post or you want to join next week's round-up, read this post to find out how.

Next round-up will be posted Sunday 24th October.Until then, indulge and enjoy!


Saturday, 16 October 2010

let's do brunch at efendy

Black Sea pancake with figs, walnuts & grape molasses

I have had the best day.

Woke up late (for me anyway), had a nice chat to the people at Polka Dot Cookies before meeting Tia Bicky and jumping on two buses to reach Balmain for our 11am booking for Let’s Do Brunch at Efendy.

Wow.The team at Efendy put on an amazing breakfast that won me over in so many ways. The food was delicious, beautifully presented and provided Bicky and I enough sustenance to shop, shop, shop until 5pm.

Although it didn’t seem to be listed on the drinks menu, my request for a cup of sahlep (orchid milk) was quickly fulfilled and served in a pretty hug mug, dusted liberally with cinnamon.

In April 2006, one month before I started writing this blog, I spent six lovely days in Istanbul with my sister Stinky. We had such a wonderful time and one particularly evocative aspect of our holiday was the delicious food we experienced.
Ah, the memories of Istanbul were coming back.

As the Efendy waiters started to deliver our breakfast mezes, I was transported to our daily breakfast in Istanbul: slices of tomato, cucumber, olives and lightly salted cheese. In fact I ate so much salty cheese in Istanbul that I even remember the Turkish word for cheese (peynirli in case you’re wondering).

These meze could have been identical, except the quality at Efendy was much higher and included some crispy peynirli börek, cigar-shaped rolls of filo stuffed with cheese.

Turkish bread came warm with two sides of sweet preserves. The first was one of my all time favourites, sour cherries (I remember this word too: vişne) and the rich Tahini Pekmez, an exotic blend of grape molasses and sesame paste that's truly delicious. I know I’m going to buy grape molasses just so I can make this and eat it on toast in the mornings.

Triangles of feta were simply superb. The best feta I’ve had in a long time. They were hard, dense and crumbly under the fork but melted into creaminess once you gobbled it up. The flavour was intense, just the way I like it, and I learnt the chef imports this cheese (organic and 80% cows milk) direct from Turkey.

Bicky, who has a cholesterol problem and hasn’t been eating cheese for months, couldn’t help herself after she tasted this feta!

Out came the main courses next.
There were five options to choose from and Bicky and I finally selected two to share between us.

Kıymalı was like an egg dish with flecks of lamb meat, capsicum and tomato. It was a homely, hearty version of scrambled eggs, listed on the Efendy menu as “village style eggs”. It was soft and warming, a good defence against the traitorous spring weather, which was sunny but bitingly cold with an icy wind.

Our sweet course was the Incirli Kaygana, which the menu describes as a Black Sea style pancake. It’s thick and eggy. It was topped with perfectly balanced red grape syrup that wasn’t oversweet, crumbs of walnuts and sliced figs softened by the syrup. Mmmmm.

Bicky, always thinking back to her Mexican context, likened it to a Turkish flan.

We finished our pancake off with a glass of soothing, warm apple tea. I have to say I love the stuff, even if I do recall elma çay being more popular with tourists than the Turks.

The other options included Menemen (scrambled eggs, tomato, banana pepper, onion and parsley);
Hellim (poached eggs, grilled halloumi, asparagus & tomatoes ); or Kallavi (2 fried eggs, grilled plate of sucuk sausages, mushroom, tomato & pastırma).

I have heard so many good things about Efendy since it opened in 2007 and now I’m kicking myself that I hadn’t visited sooner. There’s so much more I want to try from the breakfast, al a carte and meze menus (they serve çilbir, çökertme kebabı and dondurma). I need to bring Jonas to experience it too!

When I got home this evening and began to write about my delicious meal, I had questions about some of the thing I’d eaten. I called Efendy and owner/chef Somer Sivrioglu came over to the phone. He was so warm and generous, more than happy to talk about his food and how it was prepared. Not only is he a star in the kitchen, but he seems like a lovely guy.

No wonder the word efendi means gentleman in Turkish.

Visiting this restaurant has made me remember how much I loved Turkish food during my time in Istanbul. I will be back to Efendy.

Teşekkür ederim, Somer!

(And that’s all the Turkish words I remember).

Efendy Restaurant | meze bar on Urbanspoon
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