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.

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!!!