Reading over and editing this post I realised how many times I used the word Spring. It starts to sound funny if you say it too many times, but unfortunately Oxford dictionary doesn’t have any good alternatives.
We’re getting to the end of Spring over here in Australia, and although I’m excited about the beachy, holidaying climate that summer is bringing, it’s sad to see those cool, breezy Spring days go.
Because Spring is the season before Summer, here in the Southern Hemisphere, its the time every gym membership goes on sale, Halloween stashes quickly get thrown out, and green smoothies and salads are glorified.
The idea of munching on a bowl of bitter green leaves drizzled with vinaigrette sounds highly unappetizing to me, but I am reminding myself not to be too cynical about salads – with the right ingredients they can taste great, and they do have numerous health benefits.
So this Spring I worked with some of my favourite ingredients to create the perfect Spring salad.
When mum said she wanted to take me out to a salad restaurant I immediately started devising ways I could politely decline.
The salads on restaurant menus are usually comprised of three basic ingredients (some dressing if you’re lucky), and its always the choice that makes everyone else at the table feel uncomfortable.
Greenhouse Asian Salads has just opened in Sydney and offers a range of exotic salads, which experiment with multiple ingredients such as green tea noodles, chicken wontons, green papaya, white sesame and more. For some reason, reading the menu, every single option seemed to have a mix of flavours that sounded absolutely mouth-watering.
I felt like being vegetarian for the day (since I’ve been on a bit of a meat-craze lately), and opted for the Green House #1, a vegan salad with tofu, green tea noodle, avocado, cucumber, carrot, red radish, cashews and sesame seeds. However, what really made it wonderful was the coconut soy dressing. This tied the whole dish together with a sweet tang that left me wanting more.
Mum went for the Naughty Tuna, which I tried (okay, maybe I wasn’t 100% vegetarian), and it was delicious – a mix of tuna, green tea noodles, edamame soybeans and cashews with wasabi dressing.
Unexpectedly (I will admit) this café trumped a lot of dining places I’ve been to this year, many of which have menus that offer a range of wonderfully diverse dishes.
So, I’ll take back all my salad prejudices and highly recommend this very green, very healthy and VERY yummy lunch destination.
Acai Bowls have been a craze in Sydney for the past year or so, with so many acai-focused places popping up that I now have a mental list of spots for the best bowls in the city (check out Bare Naked Bowls and The Fruitologist).
But, every now and again (usually when the bank balance is looking sheepish) I make a cheap, easy, TASTY, homemade acai bowl for breakfast or lunch.
Most of the ingredients are inexpensive and can be picked up at your local Supermarket, but the problem comes down to sourcing the actual acai powder. For some reason every brand wants to charge exorbitant prices for a tiny bag of acai (probably because the acai berry can only be found in Brazil).
Madang. The Korean BBQ restaurant thats revered in Sydney. I had to try it.
For those that don’t know, Korean BBQ is where you get given deliciously marinated raw meats (of your choosing) and get to cook them at the dinner table. Yep, your table turns into a frying pan, where you whip up your meal and garnish it with lots of tasty condiments including spicy kimchi and seaweed, potato mash, soy paste, fish cake, miso paste and more.
You could be very adventurous and get sliced ox tongue, but since my dining partner screwed her nose up at that, we opted to share Dweji Bul Go Gi (marinated pork) and Bul Go Gi (beef in traditional Korean sauce), with the Jang Uh Gui Jungsik (grilled & marinated eel). My final verdict was that the table service was fantastically attentive, and I could not fault the tender, juicy Bul Go Gi and Jang Uh Gui Jungsik, but the pork made me feel a little funny so I only tried a few pieces.
This was a lot of meat to take in for one day, so if you’re planning on heading to Korean BBQ for dinner maybe prepare your stomach by making your other meals that day a little smaller (I forgot to do this and didn’t feel great walking home because I was so full, but as always, no regrets).
It was also so exciting to walk out the restaurant and realise that Madang is located in the middle of a little Korea-town. Left, right and centre there were Korean restaurants dotted about that I’m now dying to try out (I’ll keep you updated with my Korean cuisine tasting adventures).
We finished off the night with an epic froyo. I forgot to snap a pic of it, but imagine this: chocolate and strawberry frozen yogurt, loaded up with cookie dough, chocolate chips, tim tams, oreos, chocolate wafers, and strawberries. Mouth watering? I thought so.
Note: Madang was said to be the best by The Urban List, one of my go-to sources for dining information around the city (you have to check it out if you are in Sydney).
I also had a random craving for chocolate cake this week.
I don’t know where the urge came from, but suddenly I was taking myself up and out of bed, disregarding the fact that I had already brushed my teeth, and into the pantry to find the Betty Crocker Devil’s Food Cake mix.
This cake gives me serious nostalgia because throws me straight back to being about six or seven and baking it on a Sunday afternoon with mum. Betty Crocker Cakes have a unique taste, and anyone who’s grown up with her cake mixes knows that Betty Crocker Icing is, without a doubt, the best.
It was so much fun to just splurge and spontaneously treat myself by baking a simple cake for no occasion. I finished decorating it around 1:00am and I can’t express the satisfaction of sitting on the couch afterward savouring a big piece with a cup of tea.
Comment below if you did anything spontaneous this week!
It’s my week off from uni and despite the pile of work eyeing me from my desk I’ve decided to have a bit of treat week… otherwise, I won’t make it through the upcoming exams without wanting to run into a wall.
A major highlight of the week was getting gelato and drinks at Coogee Pavilion. The large, beachy dining venue has a rooftop bar with beautiful ocean views, good food and cocktails.
After trying a cocktail (or three – the Pavilion Piña Colada was fantastic) we bounced down and grabbed gelato in waffle cones. As usual I went straight for the chocolate – going for a creamy chocolate gelato with gooey brownie chunks inside.
I also decided to get another ear piercing. It’s a bit out there for me as I’ve never been keen on tattoos (I love them on others just not myself), and I only have my single lobe piercings done. Needles are also one of my worst fears…pathetic I know.
I mentioned I wanted to get it to my best friend and of course she convinced me to make a day out of it.
First, we decided to grab acai bowls from My Fruitologist, which I can confidently say has the best acai bowls in Sydney (a big call I know, but I’ve had one here four times in the past fortnight and I can’t get enough).
Mmm some mornings all I feel like is a smoothie when I wake up.
Below is my recipe for a quick, healthy and FILLING smoothie for breakfast. This thing literally keeps me full until lunch, and I’ve made sure I packed it full of ingredients with wonderful health benefits.
You will need:
1 cup spinach – high in protein, fiber, vitamins.
1 tsp turmeric – contains curcumin which increases your immune.
1/4 cup almond milk (or water) – rich in protein and calcium.
1/2 cup blueberries – antioxidants combat ageing and boost cognition.
1/2 cup strawberries – source of manganese and potassium.
1/2 banana – great for your daily intake of vitamin B6 and B12, as well as magnesium and potassium.
1 tbsp chia seeds – loaded with nutrients for hardly any calories.
1 tbsp greek yogurt – makes you feel full and has great probiotics.
Blend them all together…
If you have any good smoothie recipes please share them with me! I’d love to try them.
You know when you have that sudden craving to bake? Well I experienced this at about 11pm last night and I just had to go with it.
I usually head straight for the cacao and medjool dates to make something super chocolatey-infused, gooey and sweet, but for some reason today my eye caught the two overripe bananas that were sitting on the kitchen ledge.
So, I preheated the oven to 180˚C and gathered together what I could find in the pantry for my filling banana and almond muffins. These can be made vegan and are gluten free.
I just popped the dry ingredients into a blender, whisked them together (make sure the oats are ground into a fine powder) and poured them into a bowl. Then I blended the wet ingredients together to form a runny mixture, which I combined in the bowl with the dry ingredients.
Next I mixed all the ingredients together in the bowl, and placed about 2 heaped spoonfuls of mixture into 8 lined cupcake tins. All they needed was around 30 minutes in the oven (check with a skewer – no mixture residue should be on it when you poke it through the middle of a muffin), and they were done. Voila!
When I realised Father’s Day was fast approaching, I had the usual annual freak out… What am I going to buy Dad? Is there anything he’s mentioned he wants? Is there anything I know he’ll like?
The freak out is due to Dad never wanting anything material, as he always says he would much prefer a hug (odd, I know). Since I’m not going to just wake up on the big day, give him a hug, and consider my job done, I decided this year I’d cook a big lunch with all his favourite meals.
I kept it super simple. Dad’s favourites are the simple dishes; lasagne, sausages, chops, lamb shanks, vanilla ice cream, milk chocolate… you get it.
So, I decided to do lasagne, with a twist.
Cheesy Eggplant Lasagne. Think gooey cheese, creamy chickpeas and aromatic tomato arranged together to create a steaming Italian comfort food.
The eggplant soaks up all the delicious creamy tomato sauces and becomes a soft mess that tastes divine with the chickpea/almond meal base and cheese oozing through out. This went perfectly with a simple side salad.
For dessert, we enjoyed my favourite Healthy Apple Crumble recipe with Connoisseur white chocolate/raspberry ice cream (hands down our favourite store bought ice cream).
I finished the lunch by giving Dad a letter I had written with Lindt’s creme brulee milk chocolate – a Lindt flavour I haven’t seen before but I hope they keep stocking the shelves with it because it was the perfect mix of crispy caramel notes and creamy milk chocolate.
Even though we kept it simple, it was nice to enjoy a home cooked meal, instead of the usual big fancy thing we do at a restaurant.
The reason The Rocks hits number one on my list of favourite places to dine in Sydney, is because of how many OUTSTANDING restaurants, bars and cafés it has to offer. What makes it better is that they each have a different atmosphere, their own perks, and are just a 2 minute walk from the iconic harbour.
If you only had one night in the city, I would tell you to head to El Camino Cantina. A Tex-Mex restaurant with oversized margaritas and tapas share platters (think crispy tacos, sizzling quesadillas and nachos dripping in cheese) it’s a destination you can’t miss.
I went here for dinner with a friend the other night, and was blown away. The walls are adorned with Mexican themed collectables and animation-style art, giving the place a groovy, retro vibe. We went for the Cadillac Platter which served up a selection of chilli chicken wings, jalapeño poppers, tuna ceviche tacos, guacamole, chicken and cheese quesadilla, and chilli con carne – which tasted as good as it sounds.
Of course, the night wouldn’t have been complete without a couple of cheeky cocktails. Their oversized glasses (the picture below doesn’t do it justice) make the experience even more exciting… and a little hazy (I blame the tequila). I went with a Classic Frozen Margarita, Here Comes the Sun with tequila and orange juice and Sympathy for the Devil with ginger beer, lime and jalapeño syrup.
Next time I’ll be sure to taste their churros, which come with cinnamon sugar, Mexican caramel, and are apparently to die for.
If Mexican isn’t your thing, head over to Zia Pina Pizzeria, owned by the same family for the past 3 decades (there’s a reason why their food is so good). I would recommend the Zucca pizza with cheese, tomato base, grilled pumpkin, olives, parmesan cheese and rocket, or the Veal Gnocchi.
There’s also the Munich Brauhaus which does Bavarian food in a traditional and festive fashion. The wait staff are dressed in dirndls and lederhosen, serving up house-made sausages, freshly baked pretzels, schnitzels, crispy pork belly, and of course, lots of beer.
For dessert my favourite has to be the Guylian Belgian Chocolate Café, where I usually finish the night with a dark chocolate raspberry cheesecake, or a milk chocolate mousse with macadamia cremeux. These desserts don’t just taste amazing, their presentation is magnificent and sometimes difficult to destroy (check out the menu for pictures).
Or, if you’re feeling like a real cheat night, head on over to Pancakes on The Rocks, a revered dessert venue which does pancakes every way you can think. My favourite is the decadent Black Forest Cherry, which involves chocolate pancakes with cherries, brandy sauce, creamy chocolate ice cream and chocolate chips, all doused in chocolate sauce.
Leave comments below if you know any other great places at The Rocks! I’d love to check them out xxx
Vegan Yum Cha. When you first hear it something doesn’t sound quite right. Doesn’t Yum Cha involve selections of pork buns, prawn/pork dumplings, beef entrails, spiced meat balls, chicken wrapped in lotus leaf (the meat-involved list goes on)?
The Green Gourmet offers a totally plant-based Yum Cha menu. From fake-Beijing-duck wraps and chia seed ‘prawn’ dumplings to BBQ-not pork buns and taro meat balls, they have it all.
From the outside, the restaurant doesn’t look like much. A (very green) hole in the wall, sitting on the Pacific Highway amongst the barking traffic, it’s a gem only locals know about. Inside soft music plays, customers sit at quaint wooden tables and the delightfully tasty food is served by accommodating staff.
My cuisine craving this week was Chinese. After visiting 45 Broughton Chinese Takeaway on Wednesday night for delicious stir fried black fungi & greens in oyster sauce, sweet & sour chicken, (real) pork buns and San Choy Bow, by Saturday I wanted more.
My friend and I decided to order a Green Gourmet feast whilst doing a Harry Potter movie marathon (the perfect combination if you ask me).
We ordered the Deluxe Gourmet Entrée which, for $32 together, gave us a selection of BBQ-not-pork satay skewers, ‘oyster’ (mushroom) fritters, steamed dumplings and burdock salad. To compliment the entrée range we ordered stir fried veggies in soy sauce, shangtung-not-chicken and finished the meal off with peppermint tea and dark chocolate.
Do note that The Green Gourmet also does a fantastic selection of homemade vegan desserts; ‘monkey choccy’ sponge cake, lemon and berry ‘cheesecake’, Oreo chocolate cake (to name a few). But we didn’t have much of a sweet tooth that night so decided to give them a miss.
Safe to say it was delicious and I would recommend to anyone in the area!