New Brunch Spots and Health Shots

Thankfully its been warm, sunny weather in Sydney, and as we FINALLY turn into Summer and Uni has finished, I’ve been trying to catch up with all my friends whenever I can around work. For some reason (I’m not complaining) the most convenient thing has been brunch.

I’ve been dotting around Sydney trying some good (and not so good) places. There are a couple I would highly recommend.

Flowerchild is a sweet little cafe in both Brookvale and Chatswood and I’ve managed to go to both in the past fortnight. It’s has a dainty and graceful vibe serving up platters that look more like works of art than meals.

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Flowerchild Brookvale – The vegan bowl: falafel, quinoa, sweet potato, avocado, tomato, almonds, spiced chickpeas, sesame seeds, tahini dressing. Across from me – 12 hour slow braised lamb shoulder.

I’ve also been having the weirdest scone cravings lately – so I hit up The Tea Cosy in the (iconic) Rocks, where we indulged in cheesy scones with smoked salmon, sour cream and chives, alongside some classic scones with strawberry jam, thick cream and Nanna’s Apple Pie Tea (a fruity, warming black tea that reminded me of  Xmas Markets).

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I also tried out Momo Bar in Manly (pictured below) who started the Poké trend in Sydney. I have also had incredible brunches (i.e. A LOT of smashed avo on toast) at Laneway, The North Spoon, Wild Sage and The Bellagio Cafe.

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Momo Bar Manly – Tiki Bowl: edamame, cabbage, seaweed, ginger, onion, carrot and fried shallots, with roasted sesame sauce.

Another thing I’ve caught onto lately is the health shot trend. What’s the purpose you ask? They are meant to prevent you from low immune, and at first I was a little skeptical.

However, after looking into them it actually makes a lot of sense – it’s a little shot packed with all the good-immune-boosting stuff.

I’ve been making my own health shots to accompany morning tea (note: they are incredibly bitter/sour/off-putting and you will need a palette cleansing chaser). I throw kale, mixed leafy greens, water, turmeric, and chia seeds into the blender and down that with a banana (the chaser).

If you’re struggling with low immune, or just want to get all your daily nutrients in one go, it’s something I would definitely try!

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Today is my day off and I’m going to do the last of my Christmas shopping. I’ve already dropped $500 on presents this December, and I still have some bits and pieces I want to pick up. Looks like another expensive day, but it’ll all be worth it when Dec 25th rocks round.

My New Acai Bowl Recipe

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).

My hack is the Creative Gourmet Organic Acai Puree (only $8!!).

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It contains little individual packets of acai puree that you can add to your acai bowl.

For my recipe you will need:

  1. 1 x Creative Gourmet Organic Acai Puree pack
  2. 20g Smooth Peanut Butter (Mayver’s is my hands down favourite)
  3. 50g frozen strawberries
  4. 50g frozen blueberries
  5. 1/2 cup water
  6. 1 medium banana
  7. Dried Chia seeds & Shredded Coconut to garnish

Approximately 340 calories. Time: 10 minutes

Method:

  1. Blend the acai packet, water and frozen berries together until a thick smoothie consistency is formed.

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2. Pour blended mixture into a bowl.

3. Chop up the banana and place on top, then weigh out 20g of peanut butter.

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4. Sprinkle the chia seeds and shredded coconut on top (tasty added health benefits).

Mmmm!

Trying the Best Korean BBQ in Sydney & MIDNIGHT Baking…

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.

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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).

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I also had a random craving for chocolate cake this week.

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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!

xx

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Calypso Blue for spontaneity

 

 

I found Vegan Yum Cha and it didn’t disappoint 

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!

xx

A Stroll Through Sydney: Waverton to NSW Art Gallery

When I don’t have piles of university work looming over my desk I like to busy myself by exploring places around Sydney, on a Sunday afternoon

Last Sunday I decided to wing an adventure, starting at Waverton train station and aiming for the CBD, perfectly happy to diverge off course and do anything that caught my attention. Noting that Sunday is cheat day and therefore a treat was necessary, I popped into the local IGA (small grocery store) and grabbed a slice of freshly baked baklava (if you want to make it yourself – fantastic recipe here).

This particular IGA is nestled in a dead-end, hidden away from the main Waverton drag and often is hard to spot for non-locals. However, its selection of delicious baked treats (baklava, almond shortbread, caramel slice and more) and diverse range of international foods have made it more of a hidden treasure than a corner store, attracting customers from all over Sydney.

Savoring the delectably sweet flakes of baklava, I wandered along, snapping a pic of a car that caught my attention (it looked like it was better suited to an Italian town than the backstreets of Sydney), and hopped down to the station platform.

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I entertained myself during the train ride with a book I just rented from the library, “Superfoods for Life, Cacao.” I impulsively borrowed this during a burst of sudden chocolate craving, in hopes of finding some great chocolate-based recipes. I wasn’t disappointed. If you are interested in baking or cooking, this provides a comprehensive overview of the wonderful benefits of cacao as well as sweet AND SAVOURY cacao based recipes – savoury chocolate-lasagne is actually tasty… weird, I know.

Hopping off at Town Hall, I escaped the suffocatingly stale air trapped in the underground station, and strolled up towards Hyde Park.

It was the perfect day for relaxing in the park, the sun was shining, there were no Ibis‘ to be seen (those pestering and uncomfortably large birds that waltz around Hyde Park like they own it), and ice cream trucks dotted around the gardens.

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After taking a couple of minutes to soak in the sunshine and reflect on how great a mid-city park really is (New York is so blessed to have the green expanse that is Central Park), I continued on walking towards the NSW Art Gallery.

I’m not an art fanatic by any means and haven’t found myself in an art gallery (especially in my home city) for many years, but for some reason, I walked in and joined the free 3pm Mystery Art Tour. The concept behind the mystery tour is that the guide (definitely an art fanatic) will take you on a one hour tour exploring paintings according to a theme they choose, it could be anything – Love, Religion, Aboriginal art etc. Interestingly, on this day the guide decided to investigate exhibits based on eroticism and sexuality. At first, it was confronting to really stare at the paintings but after I put all reservations about nudity aside, it became highly fascinating.

A piece that stood out for me was the one I have inserted below, by Lucian Freud. Far larger in life than what you are looking at on your computer screen, the painting expands across a large wall and almost assaults the eye with its nakedness. The guide challenged us to really examine and explore the painting with our eyes, also mentioning how passersby would steal a glance at the artwork before awkwardly sidling away.

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Painting by Lucian Freud at the NSW Art Gallery 2017

What I found most interesting was the twist behind what the painting depicts. Upon first appearances, Freud seems to have depicted a couple post sex. However, further investigation into the painting reveals that the subjects were co-performers, and were perhaps resting, barely able to undress before collapsing on a bed after a taxing string of performances.

Ending up at the Art Gallery inspired me to visit it more often. I will be scheduling in a more Mystery Art tours over the coming weeks. To end the fantastic day on a high note, I took an Uber to C9 Chocolate and Gelato in Crows Nest and had my favourite dessert in Sydney… Cookies & Cream icecream squashed between a donut and drizzled in chocolate. Sublime.

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xx

 

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Stone Beige ~ in resemblance to the colours of Freud’s painting

 

Lid & Jar| Cafe Review

I started off this week with breakfast at Lid & Jar in Chatswood. It’s a lovely cafe in a peaceful, contemporary setting with plenty of space to relax and enjoy your meal, but I do find it on the upper end price-wise.

I had a tough time choosing between what I got and their fluffy French toast with bacon drizzled in maple syrup, but in light of all I ate at Easter last weekend, I ended up going for ‘the green bowl’. This was a raw mix of kale, avocado, broccolini, asparagus, zucchini and egg, drizzled with pesto and a sprinkle of quinoa. The meal itself was lovely (but not that filling – I was hungry again a couple of hours later), but I complemented it with a black coffee which (even for a keen coffee fan like myself) tasted incredibly sharp and bitter.

Escaping to Byron Bay on a Whim

For months now my best friend and I have been playing with the idea of doing a sporadic trip away to experience something different from Sydney for a couple of days. So, about a month ago (on a whim) we just thought FUCK it and booked tickets to Byron Bay.

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Byron Bay is a coastal town in Australia and is only an hour flight (or an uncomfortably long 9 hour drive) from Sydney. It’s got beautiful beaches and bushwalks (one to the Byron Lighthouse pictured above) but is also known for its relaxed, hippie vibe and alternative culture – it has lots of vegan destinations, where you can find eco-friendly products.

We wanted to keep the trip pretty cheap since we booked last minute and didn’t have reams of cash to work with. The flights weren’t too cruel to the budget but we tried to be cost effective with accommodation. We stayed in a caravan park, only a 10 minute walk from the centre of town, and were given a sweet little cabin which had a double bed, a stove, microwave, tv, eating area and a small bathroom. Since we didn’t plan to spend that much time in our rooms it was absolutely perfect.

We stayed 7 days, and spent time swimming on the main beach, shopping, buying ice-creams from the local favourite In The Pink (I was a fiend for the chunky MARS icecream), trying restaurants and doing walks along the beach and to some of the look-out points over the ocean:

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On one of the days we took a trip to a highly recommended place called The Farm, which is a community owned farm (that you can take a look around) which uses some of its produce for a great restaurant called the Three Blue Ducks. We made the grand mistake of deciding to walk from Byron to the restaurant (in 33˚C heat I’ll add), which took about 1.5 hours, so by the time we got there we were ravenous and felt like we were going to collapse from dehydration.

Luckily, the restaurant had delicious lunch options and I indulged in sticky pork ribs with lime, and quenched my thirst with hibiscus, elderflower, ginger & tumeric kombucha. We were sitting on wooden benches right in the middle of the farm and had roosters waltzing around our feet as we ate.

A couple of nights we tried Byron’s bars (which have a huge backpacker demographic) and our favourite by far was the Railway Bar. It was very casual (I rocked up wearing flip flops) and had people all ages enjoying a drink together. Some nights we didn’t feel like going out, and instead bought ingredients to make nachos, pasta or burritos, which we would enjoy in bed whilst watching TV.

I also found the Love Byron Bay chocolate ’boutique’, and I’m still deciding if it was an amazing or concerning discovery. After I found out that they sold almost every type of chocolate under the sun (they even had 100% Ecuadorian dark chocolate) I must have spent about AU$15 every day just buying bars of choccy to taste.

All in all we had a wonderful week relaxing and enjoy our time together and we will definitely go back. It was about my fifth time to Byron, and every time I go I discover a whole lot more – I would definitely recommend travelling there if you get the chance!

xx

 

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Dodger blue for an exciting escape

 

The Cafe that Has it All | Wild Sage

Wild Sage, Cammeray is a bustling brekkie, lunch AND dinner destination that you won’t want to miss. The menu has such a wild range of food options that even the fussiest eaters could find something to appease them. So bring along your pickiest friends, but if that hasn’t got you convinced their relatively – remember we are talking Sydney Lower North Shore guys – cheap prices will.

I went for breakfast with a friend and was amazed at the array of food options. I found it difficult to choose between their sweet chia pod with coconut yogurt/crunchy granola and their savoury ‘Healthy Bowl’. In the end, I decided to splurge and handed over $18.90 for the savoury option which was a delicious fusion of avo, grilled haloumi, quinoa, spinach, poached eggs and a shot that had hints of ginger. It was even tastier than it sounds.

You’ll be sitting in a large open room, with lots of other tables so its a great spot for an event or a large group of people. The restaurant is decorated with colourful artworks and pot plants, hung amongst glass panes.

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For lunch, I recommend their chilli pulled pork slider bun, which is perfectly tender and will satisfy your spicy cravings. Pair that with a sweet beverage from their extensive drinks menu – perhaps their Pineapple/Mint frappe or fresh coconut water served in the shell.

And there’s more. For dinner, dress up and take a special someone to indulge in one of their share plates. I’m a sucker for good seafood so my favourites would have to be the seared scallops with aioli or the King prawns served with steamy garlic bread. I’m going to be honest with you, the mains do get quite pricey as the restaurant becomes more expensive for dinner. But, it will be worth it when, for $32, you can have Wagyu striploin or marinated lamb cutlets.

As much as I want to delve into explaining all the great food options available, it would take too long. Hop onto their swanky website (which is as beautifully crafted as their food) if you have further foodie questions you want answered (http://wildsage.com.au/)

Give this modern Australian cuisine a go, and enjoy a meal out with friends!

xx

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Mahogany brown for contemp0rary Australian food

 

 

 

The Best View in Sydney

I love Sydney because it’s wonderful mix-match of the beach and the city.

To me, the best view of Sydney is this look out point in Kirribilli, which affords an incredible view of the cities skyline, dotted with the cities icons (Harbour Bridge and Opera House). This view is easily accessed after a 5 minute walk down the hill from Milson’s Point station, and offers an incredible sight both at day and night time.

One of my favourite things to do is to grab burgers and shakes from Batch Burgers (on the way), and then sit and eat my meal with friends in front of the view.

xx

Four Months of Freedom in Sydney

Uni is finally over and I have a break for four months.

I’m so excited to just relax and explore Sydney and finally do the Asia travel I’ve been anticipating for months.

Since I finished last Wednesday I have packed in seeing as many people as I can and doing as much exciting stuff as I can fit in around my shifts at work (9 to 5 four days a week this Christmas season).

Since then I have also been to a couple of restaurants with friends, my favourites being Courtyard at Coogee Beach, where I had an acai bowl and a matcha latte, and BahBQ a Brazilian restaurant in Crows Nest which offers the unique experience of a Brazilian Churrasco where you pay $59pp to have an all you can eat degustation.

My favourite meals are the fire roasted meats, garlic prawns, grilled halloumi, polenta chips, crumbed banana and roasted pineapple.

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I also had a shopping day with my best friend and we went to see the massive Christmas tree (3 stories high) at Queen Victoria Building and bought some Christmas presents for friends. I also bought myself two pairs of bikini bottoms from H&M for only $15, to increase my swimmer collection for when I go traveling to beachy places like the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Byron Bay in the coming months.

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Standing underneath the tree at QVB – hundreds of Swarovski crystals create a dazzling illusion as they hang from a mirror base

I’m so excited for the coming months, I’ve had a great first year at uni but I am very ready to relax with friends, travel and eat good food instead of being cramped in my room studying.

Tomorrow I’m off for breakfast at a Middle Eastern restaurant called Kepos Street Kitchen, and I’m tossing up between ‘Dad’s favourite brekky – falafel, hummus, labneh, soft boiled egg, tomato salad, schiacciata bread’ or the ‘Avocado toast, coriander seeds, crispy kale, poached eggs’.

Then, for dinner I’m meeting up with a childhood friend for one of our favourite chill nights at the Green Gourmet which is a vegan restaurant that does fake ‘meat’ and I always order the ‘Lo Han Tsai 十八羅漢齋煲 -Bean curd stick, baby sweet corn, carrot, tiger lily buds, wood ear, red date, bean vermicelli & fresh vegetables, stir fried with a delightful blend of Hoi Sin & soy sauce’.

xx