kaiseki :: sasaki, sydney

Ma. The concept of Japanese minimalism. Shibui. The aesthetic of simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty.

Everything about Sasaki is delicate, minimalist, has beauty and purpose, and of course, the finest ingredients are precisely and proudly cooked, plated and presented.

We had the “omakase” menu, which translates to ‘leave it up to you’, the chef. A degustation of sorts.

Plump pretty oysters (Oyster, Akazu & Mandarin), silky subtle scallops(Scallops, Celeriac & Kombu), a joyously wobbly savoury custard with poached prawns (Egg & Prawn), delicate slices of fish with dipping sauce & condiments (Bonito, Apple & Ponzu), crunchy tempura asparagus with farm fresh corn purée (Asparagus, Corn & Matcha), pinkest of fish with pops of row and mushroom rice (Ocean trout, egg Yolk & Ikura), rare duck – not my thing – (Duck, soy, leek) with soup (egg in bonito broth) and choice of desserts (choux pastry and mango sorbet).

It’s a true, Tokyo-esque kaiseki style restaurant in a hidden inner Sydney city laneway.

Kanpeki. 充実. Perfection.

//melly files//

wayward days

CITY LIMITS I moved to Sydney when I was 20. I dropped out of university to followed my heart. My parents were upset, but I had always been an independent kid. It paid off though, I worked my way up the corporate ladder and I married that guy; my high-school sweetheart.

Sydney Sydney

MY VALENTINE I’m not really into Valentine’s Day. It’s too commercial to have meaning. Usually my husband will send me roses the day before just to let me know he loves me but he refuses to buy-in on being told to demonstrate his love. We started a tradition a few years ago of seeing a scary movie on V-Day; the bloodier the better. I still remember the year we saw My Bloody Valentine in 3D. It was a total trip! This year we’re going on a double date with close friends The Williamsons to see 50 Shades. It’s not…

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Summer in a glass; Fruity 5 Seeds Cider Cup

There’s not much more refreshing than an icy cold, crisp apple cider on a balmy Sydney summer’s eve.

In my little nook of the world, as the city traffic noise starts to wane, the golden glow of dusk streams through my apartment windows, my fave tunes waft over the stereo speakers, and my little shadow Harley the cavoodle excitedly follows my every move, it’s time for a refreshing cocktail. Nothing too complex; just good ingredients, and something with a clean & refreshing taste.

5 Seeds have released a new lower sugar cider, just in time for Aussie summer!

With the same clean, crisp apple taste, 5 Seeds Lower Sugar Cider is just as refreshing and satisfying as their other ciders, but with less sugar.

I’ve got an idea to pimp it up a little; adding vodka as it’s neutral flavour won’t interrupt the apple cider, and some summer fruit to compliment the apple theme and get it looking colourful in mason jars.

Ingredients

  • 5 Seeds Lower Sugar Cider; bottle per person
  • your fave vodka; 30ml per person
  • cubes of ice

summer fruit;

  • ripe mango, thinly sliced
  • plump passionfruit
  • slices of juicy watermelon
  • fat, round strawberries
  • green pear, sliced into wedges
  • white nectarine, sliced
  • crisp apple, sliced thin for the cup and thicker for garnish
  • ribbons of cucumber
  • sprigs of fragrant mint

Method

  • in a mason jar or other glass, place ice, pour vodka, layer fruit then top with the sparkling 5 Seeds Lower Sugar Cider
  • garnish with mint, colourful stirrers threaded with apple & a festive straw
  • serve*

*best shared with a lover or friend overlooking the sunset

outtakes with Harley the cavoodle:

summer prawn cups

After the first couple of weeks of summer being a total let down of rain and jumper weather, Sydney has finally been slapped in the face by the summer we know and love! High-30-degrees and sunshine!

The summer weather always makes me crave seafood, so over the weekend when I was planning a quick casual dinner for an impromptu catch up with friends, I decided to do a super easy, low fuss but totally delicious take on the Prawn Cocktail (or Shrimp Cocktail for all my Northern Hemisphere mates).

Ingredients

  • fresh prawns (I use large Australian Tiger Prawns); 3-4 per person
  • iceberg or cos lettuce, shredded
  • fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • fresh avocado; quarter per person, sliced evenly
  • cocktail sauce; I use store bought but there are some good recipes out there if you prefer to create it yourself

Method

  • layer lettuce, avocado, prawns & sprinkle of dill in a pretty formation in your fave cup, glass or bowl
  • drizzle with cocktail sauce & serve

make :: blueberry lemon icebox cake

We’ve just had the hottest three days on record in Sydney. Much of the state is in critical weather condition with many towns and areas being evacuated for fear of total devastation by bushfire.

Seriously, I don’t know how we’ve been functioning in 47°C heat (117F).

This cake was a great distraction; it’s no-bake, so you don’t need to inflict more heat on your poor living space, and it makes the perfect summer dessert; light, creamy, citrusy and most importantly,  cool.

It needs to feeeze overnight, so make it a day ahead.

Blueberry lemon icebox cake

Recipe is from Tastemade.

do :: catch ups!

It’s been a long, loooong while since I last posted regularly, so it’s one of my resolutions to start writing on my blog more often!

Life has been busy. It always is, but in the last 6 months it’s been especially so; I’ve taken a month long vacation overseas, moved house, had a promotion at work and been overwhelmed with my husband’s newly-diagnosed serious health issues.

Understandably, we’ve had super high highs and fairly low lows, but it’s made us appreciate the fun times and especially catching up with friends (old & new)!

Here are a few photos from recent nights out with those we hold dear:

Mexican with the crazy work crew:

We met at work 15 years ago and some of us have moved on to new jobs, but we still come together for weddings, birthdays, dinner & drinks.

15 years of friendship!

Left to right: Karen, Juan-Carlos, me, Robin, Shookie & Jay

12 years apart! Top 2004, bottom 2016
 

Girls night out!

We’d love to catch up more often, but it seems the older we get, scheduling a night out with all the girls takes longer to arrange! When we finally make it together, we drink, giggle, gossip & dance the night away!

Kersti & I
me, Gab & Sue
Gab, me, Sue, Mel & Virginia
Cheers!!!

The best kind of stranded:

A weekend on an island with my two best friends is the best kind of soul food!

We spent a couple of nights, mid-summer-heatwave, and cooked, strolled around the island, played scrabble, read aloud, cuddled the dogs, exchanged Xmas pressies and generally chilled.

Harley & Pedro

Harley ran around like a crazed dog and Pedro chilled out wondering what the fuss was about.

Dangar Island is a special place; only accessible by boat, and with no cars or stores on the island you bring what you need. There is a little coffee shop so we wandered down there each morning to get our caffeine hit. Leon, the ever active man, even discovered a running club (of 2 people) and proceeded to show them how the mainlanders do it!!!


The house was simply amazing; large, open plan, floor to ceiling sliding doors and lots of eclectic treasures like old LP albums of the Beatles & Led Zeplin as well as an iPad full of all genres of music which we explored. An amazing catering style galley kitchen for cooking feasts, and separate sleeping quarters with an amazing view of the harbour. So much wildlife and tranquility, it was a restorative weekend.

Xmas Party!

My husband’s works Christmas party is the best of the year! With over 3000 people attending they always make it the biggest & best party! We danced most of the night away, getting very drunk in the process. I even broke my shoe on true Cinderella style!

Syaz & I
Jay & I

Xmas Day Lunch

My favourite family came down for lunch. We made food, sat around our little old apartment and ate on the floor and then talked, read & napped. It was super chilled and super good.

The Dawes

New Years Eve

We moved in two days before NYE. Jay was working but I had some time off and it was a difficult move but achievable. It was a 40-degree-C day of the move and we were sweating but the two guys I hired were brilliant. Everything was done in 6.5 hours and I managed to unpack 90% of the apartment within 36 hours.

We had a little soirée with Neen, Ian, Syaz & Brendon coming over for drinks, nibbles, BBQ & to watch the fireworks from our terrace.

Jay on his BBQ

Ian & Jay posing unhappily!
me & Neen & Veuve!

:: adventure :: New Zealand part 3 :: fiordland

“So lovely was the loneliness of a wild lake.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe 

The Doubtful Sound awes you with its scale and beauty.
Vertiginous mountains rise straight out of the water, clouds hovering their tops, smothered in thick rainforest of fern and podocarp trees. Sheer cliffs at sharp angles stoically impose their presence, often with waterfalls starting so high that the water becomes mist on before it reaches the ground.

It’s magical here. Mystical even. A place that has essentially remained unchanged since it was discovered by Lieutenant James Cook in 1770. After months of exploration up and down the entangled waters that snake their way into the mountains and sub-aquatic valleys of the South Island’s fiords, Cook was doubtful he’d be able to find his way back to the ocean from this maze of epic but rugged waterlogged beauty. He named it Doubtful Harbour.

It’s so calm and peaceful. On average it’s 400m deep (1300ft), and with protection from off & on shore winds, it’s surface is often glassy and mirror-flat. Because it’s logistically difficult to get to, tourist numbers are minimal with only a few boats sailing it’s expanse at any one time. We didn’t see another boat the 4 hours we sailed The Sound’s pristine waters.

It’s status as marine & nature reserve ensure the only inhabitants are dolphins, fur seals, native birds like the kiwi, weta and morepork and the world’s rarest little penguin the Fiordland Crested Penguin. We stopped for a while and saw this beautiful little couple…

We cruise aboard Real Journey’s Patea Explorer. It’s freezing outside, the mix of wind from sailing across the water and the light rain whipping around us boring through the layers of clothing and chilling us to the bone. But it makes for a more authentic experience; us in the elements, engulfed by the wildness and remoteness of The Sound.  

The captain announces that we’re anchoring at a sound reserve for a few minutes to experience the true nature of Doubtful Sound’s moniker ‘Sounds of Silence’. I can’t quite explain the experience of pure silence from static noise. Bobbing aboard a boat in the middle of a mirror lake, surrounded by 4,000ft of forested mountain walls, with only the occasional call of a bird and the distant rush of a waterfall is incredible. Your ears ring in the silence, your throat catches and your chest aches with pure wonder. It’s soulful.

If you get a chance, you need to experience this place for yourself.

***

We stay in the closest town, a 2 hour journey by boat & bus, nestled on the shore of NZ’s second largest lake, in the peaceful little town of Te Anau.

We stay at a little motel; Lakeside Motel and Apartments, our room is on the ground floor that looks out to the most amazing view, below.


 The motel owners really love their garden and all their care is evident, the trees are neatly pruned, the grass is short and intensely green and the tulips are an explosion of colour; a welcome contrast against they endless grey-blue of the lake and surrounding mountains.

The first night we eat at a little pizza place where the owner’s 12 year old son pours our beers from the bar tap, and the food is simple but homey and welcoming. The next night we have take-away fish’n’chips sitting on the dock overlooking the waves and watching the day’s last rays of sun shimmer on their rippling peaks. It’s a quiet town, simple in its beauty and lovely how it doesn’t try to be anything flashy.


 It’s the gateway to one of the most transcendent places on earth, so it doesn’t need to be.

***

Read [Part 1] or [Part 2]

//all photos my own//