cook | eat

this salad has simple yet sophisticated ingredients that are really so effortless to pull together.

we had this on a Friday night after a long week at work. we wanted something light yet decadent, and we didn’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen; relaxation, wine and chats were needed, and this dish pairs perfectly.

Ingredients:

  • Bunch of watercress; washed & trimmed
  • Prosciutto; roughly torn
  • Camembert; the best quality you can afford
  • Fresh figs; washed, dried, halved and grilled for a couple minutes each side (2 per person)
  • pistachio nuts; shelled and dry toasted in a dry pan (handful for two)

All these ingredients don’t really have measurements; just add to taste or increase/decrease according to numbers of people eating.

No dressing is needed because the figs caramelise on the outside and stay juicy on the inside which lends a lovely liquid to the salad.

Method:

Assemble in pretty layers of ingredients, the smaller more delicate ingredients towards the top. Serve with or without a glass of crisp, slightly sweet rosé or a mature Blanc de Blanc champagne.

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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

Fine dining in Sydney | Bennelong Restaurant

Bennelong restaurant interior inside the Sydney Opera House
Bennelong restaurant interior inside the Sydney Opera House

Showcasing the most beautiful view of the Sydney city skyline across Circular Quay, Bennelong is an impressive restaurant.

A visit to the Opera House always feels special, whether you are attending the ballet, symphony, music / comedy / drama performance, or simply going for a photo wander, the Opera House has the most grandeur feeling about it. It’s beautiful, artistic and a quintessential Australian landmark.

Bennelong is the perfect establishment to showcase fine dining in such a fine location.

From the moment you enter the glass door with that oyster shaped logo, you know your in for a special dining experience.

Bennelong entrance
Bennelong entrance

The Maître d’ is friendly and efficient. Our coats are taken and we are seated smoothly and quickly. We have the most amazing seats; right on the peninsula of the glass sail, looking back over the city skyline and Circular Quay.

Everything about Bennelong is smooth, calm, efficient, friendly but unobtrusive. Our waiters are knowledgeable regarding the wine list and menu, without having to ‘get someone else’ or ‘check with the kitchen’; a small touch that I love about fine dining that adds to the customer experience.

View from our dining table
View from our dining table

Surprisingly there are a good choice of wines for under $100 a bottle. We started an aperitif of a glass of Charles Heidsieck, then moved on to a bottle of French Bernard Fouquet from the ‘Future Champions’ list, which is a chenin blanc (similar to pinot gris?) with ripe melon and floral notes; light and perfect with our seafood meal choices.

My handsome husband
My handsome husband

The menu is succinct and all looks so tasty that its a tough choice! The food is light, Modern Australian; not pretentious, just beautiful plates with quality ingredients and imaginative pairings that work so well.

Dinner
Dinner

Everything we ate was deliciously amazing; Prawn raviolo & Tasmanian squid for entrees, Wild caught fish & Suckling pig for mains, and Crème caramel & mille-feuille and cheese plate for dessert. My only regret is the cheese, as it was a bit dry from lack of accompaniments (could do with quince or pear paste or a bunch of grapes).

Prawn raviolo organic radishes, fermented chili & prawn jus
Prawn raviolo
organic radishes, fermented chili & prawn jus
Today’s wild caught fish roasted palm heart, parnsip, bone broth
Today’s wild caught fish
roasted palm heart, parnsip, bone broth

It was my husband’s birthday and before they served dessert, they served a birthday cupcake with a single candle; soft, buttery vanilla cake with butter icing. Such a lovely touch.

Birthday Boy!
Birthday Boy!

Seriously, this restaurant is wonderful and you really can’t go past it for an amazing dining experience, especially if you’re dining for a special occasion.

table candle and card
table candle and card
The Williams post-dinner
The Williams post-dinner

Bennelong | Sydney Opera House, Sydney NSW Australia

:: QT Hotel Canberra ::

Over the weekend we took a trip to our nation’s capital; Canberra. We went with our good friends Syaz & Brendon and ate good food, drank a lot, laughed til our bellies hurt, visited art galleries and museums, and stayed at the QT Hotel.

The QT Canberra is a beautiful hotel with a stylish interior.

Apparently it used to be a Rydges hotel, but has obviously gone under a big fancy refurb.

QT-canberra-sign

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[pics above stolen from the internet, the rest are my own]

The onsite restaurant, Capitol Bar and Restaurant, is excellent (similar to it’s sister QT hotel & Gowings restaurant in Sydney). Stand-out wait staff (the floor manager Jason was super friendly) are professional while still having fun, and the food is great; steak, seafood and French-inspired classics, with a good wine list.

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Lucky’s Bar is a hidden gem. Literally hidden! You have to enter through the Barber shop, which gives it that extra hint of exclusiveness. We sat here, drinking for 3 hours before dinner and had many cocktails; their dirty vodka martini is the bomb, as is the old fashioned! The bar staff are friendly and there is laid back live music to groove to.

The hotel has cute bikes with baskets for hire, although they were all out the two times we tried to hire them.

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The room is gorgeous with enough room to for comfortability, great views (above) and some thoughtful touches like the fluffy bath robe, Nespresso coffee machine, free WiFi and on demand movies.

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There were only 3 negatives; the shower spills over onto the bathroom floor making it a bit tricky to navigate when slippery, the bed isn’t the most comfy and the noise in the hall, even on level 8, from the wedding reception being held in the hotel, was really loud.

Parking is acceptable at $12 flat rate per night.

The hotel is super centrally located within short drive to the museums and galleries, and an easy stroll to The Cupping Room cafe and other bars and restaurants if you don’t want to drink/eat onsite.

Would definitely stay here again!

I wrote this review on TripAdvisor, which you can find here:
https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/ShowUserReviews-g255057-d256307-r373895623-QT_Canberra-Canberra_Greater_Canberra_Australian_Capital_Territory.html#

mornings

I recently heard an interview with a chef on a random radio station (can’t remember where or with who!) but I loved the questions enough to write them down when I had a chance.

Here’s my answers to these fun quiz questions!

What time do you get up?

  • weekday exercising it’s 6.15am, otherwise 7am for work and on the weekend I sleep in as long as possible!

Coffee or tea?

  • coffee coffee coffee coffee. there is a time for tea but in general I prefer the black gold

coffee from my local Fix in Crows Nest
coffee from my local Fix in Crows Nest
How do you have your toast?

  • when Im eating grains, I have sourdough with avocado and squeeze of lemon with salt & pepper. delish!

avocado on sourdough
avocado on sourdough (pic via cupofjo.com)
Breakfast, Brunch or Lunch?

  • Lunch. I’m not particularly a fan of breakfast food; it’s just not that exciting.

Favourite restaurant in Sydney?

  • Gowings Bar and Grill

Gowings
Gowings (pic via Gowings website)

Dine @ Gowings
Dine @ Gowings (pic via Gowings website)

our lovely waiter pouring my fave beverage!
our lovely waiter pouring my fave beverage!
What’s the only thing that’s always in your fridge?

  • butter and wine! can’t really make a meal out of that combination but it’s what’s always present in my fridge!

***

Now, what about you?

Happy Thursday!

green acres, kangaroo valley

last winter, we had the pleasure of staying at Green Acres homestead in Kangaroo Valley in the NSW Southern Highlands.

our little getaway group consisted of our friends King & Pete, who researched and discovered this little holiday gem, Misch our lovely, rambunctious Georgian, Skelly our passionate little pocket rocket, my bearded hubby Jay, our furry loud cavoodle Harley and I.

the drive from Sydney to Kangaroo Valley is simply stunning. as soon as you make it down the winding valley, the lush green valley floor opens up into kilometres of green fields spotted with grazing cows. there are crystal rivers to cross and an abundance of wildlife to spot amongst the trees (this is the place where you will see koalas in the trees!).

Green Acres can be booked through Stayz.com.au or directly from their website. The amount you pay depends on how many people are staying; the place sleeps 8. We used all four rooms for the 6 of us. It has a fully equipped kitchen (coffee machine, toaster, baking pans, wine glasses, etc), a spa bath, a BBQ, swimming pool, stereo with speakers throughout the house & outside, indoor fireplace, lots of couch seating, heaters in the bedrooms & all linen.

While you should probably bring all your groceries from the city (variety is bigger & price is cheaper), the property is about 10 minutes out of the village of Kangaroo Valley, so it’s close to amenities should you forget anything.

  Kitchen

 Lounge/dining   Lounge/dining

 Dining table   Bathroom with spa overlooking the backyard

 Fireplace, TV, stereo  One of the bedrooms

*****

there is an abundance of art on the walls, all eclectic pieces that are unmatching and each tell a seperate but beautiful story. I always think that artwork tells you about its owner. This art is a little left of field, quirky and tends to insight the imagination to sexy stories of Africa. They seem well traveled. (There is a mural of a hot naked man in the bathroom which is a nice touch!)

  Artwork

 Greenacres at night

  Woodpile in the backyard

 Our dog Harley exploring

 Friendly horse on the property

*****

We arrived Friday afternoon and left on Sunday, spending the time cooking, drinking vino, talking, dancing, laughing and stargazing.

There were some beautiful little touches left for us; fresh eggs from the nearby neighbours, a bottle of local wine & detailed instructions on how everything worked.

We loved how secluded this place was, we didn’t feel like we needed to keep the noise down, and being pet-friendly meant we could include our little furry guy Harley.

I love this place and I can’t wait to go back!!!

yeezus

on Friday night Jay & I went to see Kanye West for his Yeezus concert.

we had the BEST seats; two rows behind & slightly to the right of the VIP section, where a few actors, musicians (inc RedFoo) and Kim Kardashian were sitting. I was actually sitting next to Connie from Sneaky Sound System (who told me that I was a good dancer)!

celebrities aside, Kanye was amazing! I’ve been wanting to see him forever so I was super pumped the whole night
(even without alcohol because we’re doing Whole30)!

all about Yeezus
all about Yeezus

Jay, who isn’t a huge fan (and only came with me because he loves me), now has a new found respect for Kanye as an artist. after a while of nonchalant defiance he was up dancing with the rest of us!
to paraphrase The Big Lebowski, Kanye might be an asshole, but he’s not wrong.

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There has been some media coverage saying that Kanye was dissing people in wheel chairs, which is complete bullshit. The video footage and media reports were taken out of context. What actually happened is that Kanye stopped one of his songs and asked the crowd to stand up, that he wouldn’t continue until everyone was standing and dancing UNLESS people were in wheelchairs. He saw some people up in the nosebleed section that weren’t standing and asked if they were in wheelchairs. People around gave thumbs-up to indicate that they were in wheelchairs and he said ok they could rock-out in their chairs and then he went on with the set. I didn’t think it was disrespectful or rude. It’s unbelievable how the media twist actions or events to paint someone in the worst possible light. Tall Poppy syndrome? Controversial headline grabbing? Anyone?

those masks!!!!
those Martin Margiela ‘masks!!!!
Yeezy
Yeezy

I cant remember all his set-list, but it included the following songs:
On Sight
Black Skinhead
I Am a God
New Slaves
Bound2 (which he looked at Kim the whole time!)
All of the Lights
Runaway
Heartless
Love Lockdown
Stronger
Gold Digger
All Falls Down

Kim in white Givenchy (& RedFoo to the left with his giant hair!)
Kim wearing white Givenchy (& RedFoo to the left with his giant hair!)

Kanye is a true artist, his lyrics are brilliant, his stage execution stands apart from other rappers; it’s creative, emotive and groundbreaking.

In concert I’ve seen Snoop Dogg, Naughty by Nature, Dr Dre, Coolio & Eminem; all who use backup dancers, other rappers or video montages to grandstand their acts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of all of them, but compared with Kanye, who’s performance is just him, ambitious & elegant, giving his audience his rap as art; his history, his love, his stories, his dreams, his blend of fashion and rap (Martin Margiela full-face masks are awesome).
Kanye is by far the bigger artist.

For people who don’t like him, they will always find fault; haters gonna hate! But then why drop a bunch of cash to see him? For everyone else, he is entertainment on steroids.

“Things we see on the screen are not ours,
I know it….
…They say people in your life are seasons,
And anything that happen is for a reason”

 

adventure day

I’m on holidays this week because there comes a point when you just need some downtime off work for no reason other than your own sanity’s sake.

Today Harley & I drove out of the city on an adventure for some ‘earth time’ and here’s what we got up to

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 The Stanwell Tops Lookout wasn’t busy considering it is a week day. A local hang-glider was waiting for some wind so we chatted while his dog Pup the cavoodle and Harley (the cavoodle) had an impromptu play date! I ate my little picnic overlooking the bluest ocean and lay on the grass breathing in the warm salty air.

We continued on into the National Park where the sun was shining, the spring air was warm and scented by wattle trees. We discovered a little river and spotted two water dragons sunning themselves.

Content with a day out of the hustle & bustle of city life, we started the hour and a half long drive back, Harley with his furry little head eternally hanging out the window and me singing my heart out to Coldplay on the stereo.

{bliss}