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

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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

Dedes | restaurant review

Nothing gets me more irate than bad service.

When you’re paying good, hard earned money for service you expect polite courteous behavior or at a minimum, general decency. 

So I had a feeling that we were in for an unpleasant evening when the maitre’d snootily snorted a forced greeting on arrival at Dedes restaurant in Abbotsford.

I had carefully selected a restaurant for my Dinner Club pick; taking into account low calorie menu options for Janine & my (Michelle Bridges) 12WBT program. Seafood seemed the best bet and Dedes came up in my google search. Over 35 years of service  their website boasted. The menu looked good; oysters, salad, fresh fish & a decent meat selection.

Located in the Sydney Inner West suburb of Abbotsford, about a 20 min drive from the CBD. The restaurant is situated within the Sydney Rowing Club and although it was night when we arrived, it has a lovely view out over the mouth of the Parramatta river.

The restaurant  staff consisted mainly of French waiters, who as it turns out, were all rude and obnoxious. We were seated for 15 minutes before we were given water and the offer of our order taken. No pleasantries, drink order or introduction of the specials. Now Dedes isn’t fine dining but the prices of mains ($25-35) indicate a higher class of food and service.

With my calorie controlled eating plan in mind, I ordered a dozen oysters (as entree), a crab salad and mushroom bruschetta (entrees as main). The waiter said that we should have the bruschetta first and we ambivalently agreed. Neen, Jay & Ian also order oysters to start.

20 minutes later our oysters arrived

Mixed dozen oysters; kilpatrick & natural

15 minutes later a random basket of garlic bread arrives (Janine & I pass so the boys take care of it)

Another 30 minutes later our mains arrive (well, some of our mains arrive)

Janine & I both order: Crab, avocado & pickle ginger salad

The crab is fresh and the ginger adds a real depth of flavour to the subtleties of the avocado and tomato. 

Jay has the Chef's Special of Crispy-skin Kingfish with potato, asparagus & mango salsa

Jay likes the simplicity of the dish and the sweetness of the mango salsa which accompanies the saltiness of the fish perfectly.

Ian has the Scotch Fillet with Pepper Sauce

Ian likes his beef which is cooked according to instruction (medium-rare) and I have to give him props for not ordering all the sides on the menu (in support for Janine & I)!

Our plates stay on the table for a good 10-15 minutes once we’ve finished before they are cleared. The bruschetta is mysteriously missing and by that stage we’re just over the lack of service so we ask for the bill.

Although we didn’t order it, the random garlic bread has been included in our charge. It seems the waiter decided that the bruschetta was ‘too much food’ and changed our order. WTF?! I am not a child and I do not appreciate someone else making decisions for me, changing my order, all without consultation. 

I take the bill and go and tell the floor manager exactly what I think. To his credit, he goes the extra mile and takes off Janine & my mains, as well as the garlic bread.

Whilst the food was nice; simple well thought of flavours and nice presentation, our dining experience is tainted by such appalling bad service that I am just too annoyed to appreciate it.

Because I’m not going out nearly as much (actually not at all really due to my fitness program) I was so looking forward to this dinner. What an epic disappointment.

Dinner club fail.

Atmosphere: local families, yachties and older people.
Service: appalling and disgraceful. They should be ashamed.
Food: decent. Simple flavours, well presented.
Value for money: average. You can do better elsewhere at place that isn’t such a nightmare to get to (travel-wise).
Overall: not worth your time, effort or calories. Skip it.

in my kitchen | sun-dried tomato, prawn & rocket linguine

My husband doesn’t like prawn dishes (though he’ll eat them pink, boiled & briny the way you buy them from the shop), so getting him to eat something ‘prawny’ is notoriously difficult.

Last week during a work lunch with my engineers I had a really delicious prawn linguine. I immediately wrote down the ingredients (from what I could see/taste) to emulate at home.

I made it for dinner on Easter Sunday and imagine my delight when Jay said he loved it!

Here is my sun-dried tomato, prawn and rocket linguine:

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 16 green (uncooked) prawns; peeled & deveined
  • 2 small eschallots (French onions); finely diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic;  grated
  • 1 long birds-eye chilli; deseeded to taste & finely chopped
  • handful of sun-dried tomatoes in oil; drained & sliced
  • handful of flat leaf parsley; roughly chopped
  • 2 handfuls of baby rocket
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2-3 tbs sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 2 servings of linguine (fresh pasta is best, but dried is fine); cooked til al dente
  • third-cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • seasoning (salt & pepper)
  • wedge of lemon to serve
fresh peeled prawns
the other ingredients

Method:

In a large saucepan, boil water, add pinch of salt then add linguine and simmer til al dente (follow packet instructions but usually 8-10 mins).

In a large fry pan, heat olive oil over medium heat then add eschallots, garlic and chilli and cook til onion is translucent (3-5 mins). Add in prawns and cook stirring occasionally til slightly pink (again 3-5 mins). Add in sun-dried tomatoes and parsley then turn off the heat.

in the pan

Drain linguine (once done) and add into the prawn mixture. Stir through sun-tomato pesto and rocket leaves. Season to taste.

Divide among serving bowls, sprinkle over Parmesan and serve with wedge of lemon.

sun-dried tomato, prawn & rocket linguine

Bon appetito!