Unblogged Files: January to March 2015

Once again, I find myself months behind in my blogging – some of my latest entries are of dining experiences I had back in early February! Never mind, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I will always be playing catchup on blogging. Quite simply, there’s just so many restaurants to try and recipes to share that I can hardly do justice to them all in a timely manner, unless someone was to pay me to quit my job and blog full time!

While it’s highly unlikely that someone will pay me to be a food blogger, you may know someone who needs a freelancer for a small project or ongoing work in communications. I’ve just set up my professional portfolio with an aim of growing my base of freelance clients in preparation for upcoming joblessness due to resigning from my current role to go on a six-month long trip to Europe. More on that soon, once we finally book tickets and everything is set in stone!

In the meantime, I would appreciate it if you would consider sharing my portfolio with any small business owners you know who need some communications work done!

Onto some food highlights from the past three months!

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The first – this gorgeous candy apple from Love Dem Apples in Surry Hills. The days of the stale teeth-breaking toffee apples are gone, and the many coated varieties of candy-coated apples from Love Dem Apples have taken over. This is the Bueno version, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that the coating does taste exactly like a Kinder Bueno, with the sweet tartness of a fresh green apple. It’s not a cheap dessert-on-the-go (I think this was around $11 for a single candy apple), but it is actually the type of snack that you would want to share with others as a whole chocolate coated apple to yourself is actually a bit too much. Split between two or even three people would be perfect.

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I love beautifully presented lunches, and this was pretty excellent. It’s a healthy green vegan stack from Caffe Nostra in St Leonards, just around the corner from my workplace. With a few different varieties of beans on the plate, as well as chia crusted avocado slices and sautéed mushrooms, it’s extremely beautiful; and very filling.

Unfortunately, Caffe Nostra is starting to develop a black name in my workplace, due in large part to a series of negative experiences by some colleagues. One colleague received peanut butter toast three days in a row after specifically asking for Vegemite toast. Another colleague was charged an extra $4 for gluten-free toast, making her simple eggs and avocado on toast request a $21 dish. Combined with some instances of over-charging for soy lattes and other meals, I think it won’t be long until most of my colleagues move onto the next small café in St Leonards for their coffee fix!

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The dessert craze that’s had everyone raving these past few months in Sydney is Aqua S in Regent Place. I fell for it as well, and went in to try their signature sea salt soft serve, combined with a chocolate strawberry flavour. I went all out and chose to include all toppings – popcorn, fairy floss, marshmallow and popping candy. It’s a real indulgence and while I haven’t been back yet, I think it’s going to become one of those iconic Sydney institutions that I’ll take all interstate and overseas visitors to try.

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K lent his hand in the kitchen one weekend for once – an unusual occurrence as I tend to most of the cooking while he does the dishes! He spent a good amount of time cooking the perfect joint of pork in the slow cooker to create a beautiful barbecue shredded pulled pork with caramelised onion dish that lasted us for most of a week. It’s such a versatile dish – we started off using it in pulled pork sandwiches and rolls before using it as a topping on rice and pasta, and then just by itself mixed in with a bean salad as well. I’m going to have to ask him to make it again soon.

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My cousin who was my maid-of-honour at my wedding has recently moved to the UK to try and build a life there for a couple of years like millions of other young Australians who make the move. It makes a lot of sense – the UK is the perfect base from which you can take a million long weekends to explore different parts of Europe. Since moving there a month ago, she and her boyfriend have already been to the Czech Republic, Spain, Morocco…and who knows where else is on their list!

Before she went over to the UK though, she and her boyfriend came to Sydney for a few days for the Asian Cup semi-finals and finals. We took them out to Ippudo Central Park for lunch one day, where I enjoyed this Akamaru red ramen. I can’t get enough of Ippudo’s rich tonkotsu broth and tender pork slices!

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When my friend Jenny was visiting me here in Sydney for a few days, we went up to the Blue Mountains for a day trip. We stopped in at the Post Café in Leura for an afternoon tea during a freak hailstorm. I was hoping for a traditional Devonshire tea, alas, they had just ran out of scones! Not all was lost though – I had a delicious orange muffin, and Jenny ordered this piping hot bread and butter pudding that came with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice-cream. The waitress advised her to dig a well in the pudding and to drop the ice-cream in…well, what a revelation! Simply delicious, though very rich.

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Everyone knows N2 Extreme Gelato as the forerunner of the current craze for nitrogen gelato. There’s a few similar gelaterias around now, but N2 continue to make its mark as the nitrogen gelato stop of choice with their use of inventive flavour combinations.

I stopped into N2 with my friend Jenny after we dined at Gyuzou (read review), and introduced her to the concept of nitrogen gelato, which was new to her. I chose to have the Cendol flavour – a mix of pandan, coconut, grass jelly and red bean, with the N2 signature syringe shot of palm sugar syrup. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best flavour I’ve had at N2 before – the texture of the grass jelly was somewhat questionable. I’ll stick with my favourite peanut butter and chocolate combos next time!

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K and I were also invited to Bondi Hardware’s third birthday party in February, featuring a variety of cocktails (K enjoyed the watermelon cocktail) and delicious small nibbles. The pearl barley aracini was probably my pick of the night! You can check out a few additional photos of the party on my Facebook page here.

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Chinese New Year is a time for family and lots of eating! This year, our Chinese New Year celebrations were a lot smaller than they would normally be. K’s grandparents, the organisers of large family gatherings, were away in Malaysia this year, instead we had a smaller and more intimate dinner at Sambal in North Ryde for immediate family only.

Yuu sahng always makes an appearance at Malaysian Chinese New Years celebrations. It’s a raw fish salad also known as the “Prosperity Toss” and is commonly eaten at Chinese New Year as the words in Chinese can sound like a homophone for “abundance and prosperity”. When it comes out on to the table, everyone is supposed to dig in with their chopsticks and ‘toss’ the salad to mix it all up – that way everyone gets to share in the abundance!

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I also took a quick trip down to Melbourne to visit my father and brother. Dad always likes having me home. While we connect multiple times every week through regular phone calls, Facetime calls and WhatsApp messages, there’s no substitute for having me there in person. Part of it is for practical reasons – I do a lot of his household administration every time I visit as his English isn’t great. So I’ll spend time calling up companies, changing account details, filling in forms…all the little things that go into running a household that you need some English skills for.

Mostly though, he simply likes to cook all my favourite dishes and feed me up! This time, dishes included fish head noodles, tomato prawns on vermicelli noodles, fried tofu and a chicken and mushroom stir fry. I absolutely love fish head noodles, and really should learn how to cook it myself!

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Tim Ho Wan recently opened in Sydney, and with it, an entirely new dining precinct (“The District”) opened up in Chatswood Interchange, above the train station. While Tim Ho Wan is definitely the drawcard with immense queues of people lining up for the famous Baked BBQ Pork Buns (my review coming soon!), there’s heaps of other new eateries in the area that I strongly encourage people to check out!

K and I were the first customers on opening day at Cheers Cut, a Taiwanese fried chicken and seafood joint. While we only ordered the fried beef and chips as a small snack to get us through to lunch, they were so excited to have us stop by that they gave us a sampler of their fried chicken and spiced squid to try as well. The chips were incredible – salted and seasoned with mixed pepper, and the squid was equal parts sweet, tangy and spicy. I’d definitely go back the next time I wanted a quick snack – or even a full meal – in Chatswood.

Coming up in the next three months – two big meals with one at the Fat Duck Melbourne (Chef’s Table – yay!), and one at Tetsuya’s as well. What indulgence!

5 thoughts on “Unblogged Files: January to March 2015”

  1. Wow! The first three months of the year have been really busy for you!!!

    That dish from Caffe Nostra looks awesome – it’s such a shame about the service!!!

    xox Sarah

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