Grain Bar, The Rocks
The newest bar to hit Sydney- Grain Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel (199 George St, Sydney). With incredible snacks like the Old Man’s Fried Salt Bush ($12) which is one giant plate of fried awesomeness that is ridiculously addictive and freakishly tasty burgers!
Yep, it’s a branch. So like, I’ve been counting down the days until I could visit the newest bar to hit Sydney- Grain Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel (199 George St, Sydney). After spying this post I was eagerly awaiting the Red Claw Yabbies and had all these plans to write about Pinchy and gorging on sweet yabbie meat but alas! They have been pulled from the menu! Devastated but still hungry, we order a round of beers and sette back into the comfy leather banquette seating at the edge of the room to people watch. The food menu is by consulting chef Hamish Ingham from Bar H so I was pretty damn excited about what was to come.
The Old Man’s Fried Salt Bush ($12) is one giant plate of fried awesomeness that is ridiculously addictive. The leaves are coated in a light tempura batter that is crunchy, salty and just freaking moorish. Wash it down with a cold one and it’s the best bar snack ever!
I couldn’t resist the Steamed Brioche with Smoked Trout Roe ($6 each), the brioche was so incredibly light and cloud-like and topped with a generous amount of trout roe that popped with briny goodness. Noods of course takes one look and shoves the whole thing in his mouth before giving it a thumbs up.
At first glance, I wasn’t sure if the Lardo on Toast ($14) was burnt but it was in fact a caramelised layer of sweet black garlic paste. Not too sure why the slices were propped up on itself as half the toppings were starting to tumble down but we made sure to eat every last morsel. The ribbons of pork back fat was creamy and oh so delicious and I couldn’t help but close my eyes when the fat just melted on my tongue. Noods had never eaten or heard of lardo before and started chanting MMM FAT SANDWICH. I tuned him out but yes that was one tasty fat sandwich.
The Wild Kingfish Tartare ($19) was a smash hit, the perfectly uniform cubes of kingfish with the paper thin shavings of pickled beetroot made for a flavour explosion on the deep fried seaweed crackers.
Aaaand then there was the Grain Burger and Fries ($21). Oh em gee. The pulled beef short rib? AMAZING. I could eat a bowlful of the stuff with a spoon and be so freaking happy. The pickled slices of radish were at first mouth puckeringly tart but proved to be a refreshing crunch in this super rich burger. The fries were golden and delicious too but oh those juicy shreds of short rib! I will return for you!
But hey now we couldn’t leave without trying some dessert! The Custard Tart Cream ($10) arrives in a bowl with 3 buttery shortbread biscuits beside it. I think I was expecting an actual tart filled with a custard cream so was a little disappointed but Noods loved it because he is fanatical about anything that resembles a creme caramel. The custard is smooth and has a layer of a slightly bitter but sweet caramel and topped with a sprinkle of heady cinnamon. We have reached near explodey point and while still saddened about the lack of Pinchy in our lives I know I’ll be back for that burger!
Parramatta Lanes, Parramatta
For the first time ever, as part of the Crave Sydney Festival, Parramatta’s hidden laneways are all prettied up and transformed with each area set to a theme.
OH HAI! How was your weekend everyone? I spent my weekend baking banana bread and then um eating it all. Mmm. But on Friday night I was out in the hood enjoying Parramatta Lanes! For the first time ever, as part of the Crave Sydney Festival, Parramatta’s hidden laneways are all prettied up and transformed with each area set to a theme.
Helen and I trained in straight from work and followed the sounds of the Cope Street Parade’s lively tunes from the station to Darcy Lane. We passed by 3 Ropes café but had to give it a miss as coffee any time past 5pm means no sleep for me lol. Rounding the corner past the strawberry plants in vertical pipes we were greeted with the sight of the band playing on the roof of the La Toosh tram which sold savoury and sweet French crepes. Also at Darcy Lane was wood fired pizza from Antonio Sabia of Puntino Trattoria and wraps filled with slow cooked meats from Pinbone.
But it is the Gourmet Rotisserie that we only have eyes for! Look at that crackle!!! Surprisingly we were asked if we wanted crackle to which we asked if that was a rhetorical question but it seems some people are
crazy watching their diet. I said we’d gladly eat their crackling portions if they had any extra but the lady laughed and changed the subject..
We carefully lowered ourselves as gracefully as possible onto the low deck chairs to eat before diving into the Porchetta Pannini ($15) with the glorious crackle and was jam packed with tender pork nubbins infused with herbs (and hmm is that thyme I detect?), shavings of fennel and schmears of onion marmalade topped with peppery rocket leaves. It is the perfect sandwich and one I will most likely return for this week!
In need of a drink we made our way past the library and across the street to Batman Walk which had a Parisian theme. Not really wanting desserts at this stage we gave Café Sotto and Circa Bakery a miss promising to return later.
Red Cow Lane is next with Bar Coco serving coffee and gelato on the back of a Vespa and a converted rickshaw showing video art projections.
We head through the car park and reach Erby Place which had gorgeous colourful lanterns strung up on the Jacaranda trees along with origami cranes around the gardens. It was a fun and chilled atmosphere with plenty of milk crates scattered around but best of all more food stalls! Lan Lan’s dumplings caused quite a queue, Japanese restaurant Temichi serving bbq’d chicken skewers and Ma’Leisia with the best value dinner of Nasi Lemak boxes.
The Bali Chicken Nasi Lemak ($10) came with a huge mound of fragrant coconut rice which gave respite from the borderline oh crap it’s spicy sambal. The tender chicken is pretty generous in portion and we fight over the crunchy ikan bilies and roasted peanuts. Ma’Leisia will be replaced with Jackie M this week serving Roti and Char Kway Teow.
Grasshopper Bar is one of my fav places to go to after work for tasty cocktails so it was no surprise that they were a smash hit with the crowd with plastic jam jars of cocktails ($12) and refills ($10).
Parramatta Lanes is by far the best event I’ve been to for Crave Sydney and I’ll definitely be visiting again this week when it returns this Thursday 25th and Friday 26th October, from 4pm until 9:30pm.
Super Easy Cheese & Cayenne Pepper Biscuits
Super Easy Cheese & Cayenne Pepper Biscuits- so freaking simple and so freaking tasty!
Woah guys it’s been way too long since my last super easy recipe! Are we ready? So like, I absolutely LOVE Crooked Creek’s cheese biscuits, they’re bite sized, crumbly, a tiny bit of bite from the cayenne pepper and most importantly, super cheesy. So when I spotted a parmesan and rosemary biscuit recipe over on Ooh, Look I knew i had to give em a go. I increased the amount of cheese and substituted the rosemary with cayenne pepper and let me tell you, you just won’t be able to stop at 1 biscuit!
Well hello sexy. It is ridiculous how simple this recipe is. And how freaking easy it is to eat them all in one sitting!
100g unsalted butter, chopped and at room temperature
120g grated parmesan cheese
¾ cup plain flour
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 180C. Chuck everything into your food processor! If you have a normal sized food processor I would recommend you double the recipe! Hit the blend button and mix away until the dough comes together in a ball.
Turn the dough out onto a piece of cling wrap and press into a disc. Wrap and shove into the freezer while you clean up. Your dough only needs to cool down enough for you to be able to cut your biscuits and pick up without sticking everywhere.
Roll the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper to a ½ cm thickness. If the dough is too thin your biscuits will end up as crisps. Which isn’t a bad thing but well, biscuits are way better.
Grab your fav cookie cutter and cut out away and place on a baking paper lined tray.
Bake for 6-8 mins or until golden brown.
Cool on wire racks and resist from testing until the biscuits firm up. Aaaaaand done! You have yourselves some freaking awesome cheese biscuits! Have a tops week guys!
Hunter Valley 2012
Hunter Valley 2012
STARJUMP!!! So like, the boy and I usually celebrate our dating anniversary instead of our wedding anniversary and a coupla weeks ago to celebrate we took some days off and escaped to the Hunter Valley for some wine, cheese and r&r. Prepare yourself for an epic amount of photos guys!
We were taking the F3 so of course we had to stop at the Caltex Stopover at Wyong. Cafe F3 is neighbours with the McDonalds but the roast pork sandwich was calling my name and while the piece of crackle was not as massive as last time, the juicy pork shreds sandwiched between buttered white bread was just so damn satisfying. Breakfast of champions!
A couple of hours passed with me chanting Gangnam Style nonstop until Noods couldn’t take it anymore and stopped at the Hunter Barn (2320 Broke Road, Pokolbin) in hopes of plying me with candy to shut me up. Obviously this is what happens when you feed me candy. Oh and that there behind me is Lollyhop, nominated into the Guiness World Records as the largest lolly Kangaroo in the world. I kinda wished that it was entirely made of jelly beans instead of stuck on but hey, it was still pretty impressive.
WALL OF CHOCOLATE!
I’m totally hugging the gumball machine but you can’t really tell cos it’s too big for my arms to wrap around! Oh giant gumball machine, if only you were mine.
Lunch was at Robert’s Restaurant (Halls Road, Pokolbin) mainly because I knew their new head chef was George Francisco (formerly of Jonah’s at Whale Beach). It is a gorgeous restaurant, with rooms filled with leather armchairs, bookshelves and a fire place. The main dining room opens out to an amazing view of vineyards and the service is faultless.
I start with the Charred Garam Masala Scented Foie Gras ($28) the cubes of foie gras have been skewered and grilled till the edges are crisp but the insides still rich creamy. Candied lemon slices with a hit of cinnamon help to balance the richness.
Noods has chosen the Spanner Crab Pasta ($25) which is packed full of shredded crab meat and just enough chilli to leave my tongue tingling. I haz food envy at the cloud of parmigiano–reggiano cheese until I see my main…
OH BABY! The (entree sized) Twice Baked Gruyere Cheese Souffle ($27) smashes my food envy out of the park and I just about swoon with every spoonful of gooey, cheesy souffle. There are shavings of Manjimup Black Truffles which are whisper thin but their aroma is intoxicating and heady.
Noods’ Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder ($40) is a playground of colours and textures with confit potatoes an almost neon purple, amaretti cookie crumble, a pile of vivid green kale and topped with golden potato crisps. The hunk of pork was so freaking tender that one stab and it tumbles into glorious shreds that were ribboned with creamy fat.
We were full but knew it was time to activate the emergency dessert stomach because the whole point of coming to Robert’s was for the Vanilla Panna Cotta aka the wobbly nipple!!! Served with pomegranate molasses and lavender honey this dessert was the perfect end to our meal.
The next day we were up bright and early to visit Bimbadgen (790 McDonalds Road, Pokolbin) where we had been invited to stay for the weekend.
Shelf o wine. Bimbadgen is taking a strong stance on environmental sustainability and their new bottle is 28% lighter than the previous bottles used for its wine range, saving 140g per bottle. Which also means I can now carry more wine muahahaha
The very awesome Karen who is the Marketing Manager at Bimbadgen leads us through a wine tasting. Her approach is refreshing and sets us immediately at ease. The boy and I have moved up slightly in the food chain and while not quite wine noobs we readily agree that we still have much to learn but Karen reassures us to trust our taste buds and only we can tell what we like.
We take a lil tour of the winery, stopping to peer at the tanks displayed. We check out the area where the choppers land which is near where A Day on the Green, an annual festival at Bimbadgen looks set to be another sell out event this year.
Esca, Bimbadgen’s award winning restaurant, uses produce that is sourced locally or grown on the estate including lemons, figs and fresh herbs.
There’s just something about actually seeing a veggie patch filled with leafy greens that makes me yearn to have a green thumb!
What’s that, it’s lunch time already? We decide to go with the Degustation Menu with matching wines ($120) knowing that we/Noods wouldn’t be driving after lunch. With views down the valley it was all too easy to relax and forget about work. (Ahem, hi Al! Hi Steve!)
An amuse bouche starts us off, a curl of cured salmon with hazelnut nubbins and a cider dressing has our tastebuds ready and waiting.
Fat slices of seared tuna sit atop an enoki mushroom and daikon salad with ginger dressing. There is a citrus note that shines through with the Bimbadgen Regions 2011 Sauvignon Blanc and I relish in popping each pearl of salmon roe individually, the salty brine bringing out the flavour of the tuna.
Ahhh I do love a cheese souffle and I reckon I could’ve eaten about 5 of these in a row! Light as a feather the souffle was the perfect balance of cheesyness and the cauliflower and black truffle emulsion had us scraping the plate clean. The Bimbadgen Regions 2011 Pinot Gris has a crisp finish and tastes like summer.
A palate cleanser of sorbet of Bimbadgen sparkling Semillon was light and refreshing and full of bubbles.
A rare vertical photo because we were absolutely blown away by the Bimbadgen Family Collection 2009 Bald Crusader Shiraz and the Byron Bay pork belly! The flavours of everything combined was just incredible and even a couple of weeks later we are still raving about that course. The perfect tile of crackling, the perfect ratio of meat to creamy fat, the perfect accompaniment of hearty cassoulet filled with butterbeans, kassler nubbins and caramelised pear and the most perfect glass of red I have ever had.
Our final savoury course! Tender Cowra lamb loin with the cutest baby carrots and freaking juicy Bimbadgen Fortified prunes aaaand a Bimbadgen Estate 2010 Shiraz that Noods promptly steals from me. Tch.
Dessert was a deconstructed lamington- fresh coconut shavings, chocolate jelly, rich chocolate ganache, a quenelle of vanilla cream and a ball of coconut ice cream sitting on sponge crumbs. Eaten all together it did indeed taste like a lamington though I am old school and kinda prefer my desserts minus too much novelty. A matching glass of Bimbadgen Estate 2006 Botrytis Semillon lends the perfect sweet note to the not-so-sweet dessert.
A stay at the Bimbadgen Cottage had been arranged and we marvel at its location, just down the driveway from the Tower and with uninterupted views of the vineyards. The cottage would be perfect for 2 couples and the next door Homestead perfect for a group of friends.
With temperatures soaring all over the place I just couldn’t resist going for a dip in the pool. Summer is nigh my friends!
Instead of teevee time we spent quite a while sitting near the window and watching the kangaroos come out and play at dusk.
The kitchen has all the necessities should you want to cook up a feast.
And a feast was indeed to be had! A dinner hamper was delivered to us by Karen and straight away we tucked into the cheese and meats, washed down with a bottle of the complimentary Bimbadgen Shiraz. Later we quickly pan fried the salmon and the prawns and um drank the other bottle of the complimentary Semillion before falling into a wine induced snooze 😛
Nursing minor headaches the next day, we stare at the complimentary breakfast foods we had found in the kitchen when we arrived. The yoghurt is attacked, straight from the tub but we save the muesli and coffee beans for later.
We check out of Bimbadgen but not before buying some more bottles of wine for presents/our growing collection.
Armed with several ice packs and an esky, we visit the Smelly Cheese Shop (3/188 Broke Road, Pokolbin), the Hunter Valley Cheese Company (47 McDonalds Rd, Pokolbin) and Binnorie Dairy (Corner of Hermitage Rd. and Mistletoe Lane, Pokolbin) in quick succesion. Much cheese was procured. My lactose intolerant gut was both happy and sad.
I couldn’t leave Hunter Valley without visiting Cafe Enzo (Broke Road, Pokolbin) for their famed scones which were seriously incredible, so light that I barely felt the urge to smother in craploads of jam and cream, it was really just that awesome.
Of course Noods requested a visit to the Blue Tongue Brewery (917 Hermitage Road Pokolbin) for a paddle of beer. By the time I got someone to take a photo of us Noods had very sneakily already downed a shot without me knowing haha
A beer paddle and a free Middie each later, we were on the road and headed back to Sydney when we saw the Potters Hotel Brewery (430 Wine Country Drive, Hunter Valley) and thought well why not get some food before the long trek back. A plate of fish and chips for Noods and a beef and Guinness pie for me.
Several hours later we arrive back in Sydney with quite an impressive haul. Happy 11 years Noods, I less than 3 you!
ChocolateSuze and Noods received complimentary accommodation and lunch at Bimbadgen.
The Forresters, Surry Hills
The Forresters (336 Riley Street, Surry Hills). ERMAHGERD PORK!!!
ERMAHGERD PORK!!! So like, The Forresters (336 Riley Street, Surry Hills) is ridiculously close to where I work and with Helen and Richard in the hood it makes for good times. Especially during happy hour 😛
Here porky porky porky! Ain’t that one beyoootiful platter of deliciousness? That there is a BBQ Pork From the Pit ($30) which can totes feed 3 hungry peeps.
The pile of gloriously tender meat shreds is just waiting to be shoved into the warm buttered rolls and in case you want it juicier there’s also a bottle of tangy bbq sauce. The Korean salad had a bit of a spicy kick for this chili intolerant noob but the golden fries are pretty damn awesome and makes for my alternate salad.
Oh and then we may have ordered some sides. Like this corn! Hawaiian Corn ($8) may not have been as bursty with liquid sunshine juices as I’d hoped but the crispy bacon and salty popcorn bits more than made up for this especially when smothered in the tabasco mayonnaise and topped with pineapple smidgens.
Moar popcorn? Popcorn Squid ($14) are crunchy nuggets of happiness and irresistible especially with the green peppercorn mayonnaise and popcorn bits.