July 26, 2010

Safi

Tucked away in an unassuming residential street of North Sydney lives a sweet little Lebanese restaurant, Safi. It was first recommended to us by some friends who raved on about how good the place was, so on Friday night we finally took up their offer to have dinner there together.


Upon arrival, it looked like it was a small 5 x 5m one room restaurant. We could see the warmly lit restaurant through its big front window buzzing with happy patrons. The window sill was adorned with cute little decorations imported from Lebanon, not tacky but very chic. Walking into the place, we were unexpectedly ushered through to the back room, which I found was very cosy and nice because it wasn't as loud or crowded as the main room.

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Being late as usual, the gang was already there…after kisses and hugs we finally had a look at the menu and unanimously all settled on the Banquet @ $35 pp.

The banquet started with a selection of dips and bread accompanied with Tabouli & pickles. These included the typical Hommus and Babaganoush with an extra third dip, Labneh. The hommus was very light and creamy with a slight nutty flavour from the chickpeas. The babaganoush was packed with flavour and had alot of depth. Labneh is a yoghurt based dip with mint and a pinch of paprika, it was very refreshing and complemented the others very well. It was a perfect way to start any meal, I say.


L: Hommus; R: Babaganoush

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L: Labneh; R: Tabouli

Next, some vegetarian dishes were presented. The first dish was Falafel, a combination of chickpea & broadbeans shaped into a ball and deep fried. I found these were quite bland compared to others that I have tasted. The shell was extremely crunchy, several times when I tried to cut it into smaller pieces, a piece would go flying across the room. The filling however was very light and fluffy and went very well with the Tahini sauce.

L: Falafel; R: Lightly Fried Cauliflower both served with Tahini sauce

At first I was quite cynical to the fried cauliflower. I thought it would be greasy, bland and just unpleasant. When I took a bite it blew my mind away, it was soft but not mushy and had very intense flavours I just wasn't expecting. I think the best way to describe it is, it tasted like delicious cauliflower chips without the crunch in a good way.

I was very curious as to what the Olive Pastry would be and didn't very much care for the Vine Leaf Rolls, as all the other vine leaf rolls I've had in the past were either very tangy or just too overpowering in the vine leaf flavour. So when this dish came out I went straight for the olive pastry. I was impressed with the flavour of the filling but was very disappointed with the pastry itself, it was tough, heavy and slightly chewy. I decided to try the Vine Leaf rolls anyways and boy am I glad I did. It totally changed the way I saw these little green packages. Instead of incorporating some of the vine leaf into the filling they used tomatoes instead which really lifted the dish. They were the best vine leaf rolls I've tasted by far.

L: Olive Pastry & Vine Leaf Rolls; R: Potato Kibbeh

The Potato Kibbeh were nice, they were sort of like a flattened version of a potato arancini, it had a soft fluffy centre with a crunchy outside. Albeit, the kibbeh itself was already quite flavoursome but by dipping it in the sweet chilli sauce a bit of a kick was added to the dish.

Although I am a true carnivore in every sense of the word, these vege dishes were sooo moorish and flavoursome that I was slightly dissappointed that we only got to have one piece each from each dish. On the upside, it left room for the meat dishes still to come.

L: Ma-aneh; R: Meat Kibbeh

The Lebanese style sausages weren't really to my taste. I thought they were quite ordinary and the cumin flavour was too overpowering. Beware of the Meat Kibbeh - balls of juicy minced meat & onions encased in a crunchy cracked wheat shell; these little babies are HOT (literally & figuratively speaking).

Talking about saving the best for last, the chicken skewers were my favourite dish of the day, the chicken was moist and cooked to perfection, together with the garlic sauce you have yourself a "Bonnie & Clyde" combo.

L: Shish Taouk with garlic sauce; R: Kafta Kebab with Tomato relish


Fattoush

A salad was also brought out with the chicken and the kafta, it was nice to have a bit of "green" to complement the meat dishes but this salad was wayyyyy too acidic, all I could taste was lemon/lime juice.

Full to the brim, the meal ended nicely with Chai & Ahweh (also known as Chai Tea & Arabic Coffee) along with some something sweet, Turkish Delight & Baklava.


Baklava & Turkish Delight


Chai & Ahweh

It might not seem like it from the outside but Safi is a modern and stylish restaurant (even the cheque came in its own cute little box with mini boxes of chiclets (gum) inside). Its relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff and great value for money made Safi an awesome choice for a couple of mates to catch up over dinner ♥

p.s. It's BYO too... so if your a wine lover like me, score!




Safi Dining
55 Ridge Street
North Sydney, NSW
Ph: 9954 6146

NB: Bookings are essential & due to residental zone restrictions the restaurant closes at 10 pm.

July 25, 2010

Hawks Nest

After a very painful week of work, the Log and I decided to spend a relaxing weekend away at Hawks Nest with the lovely Poodle & her Boofa. We left early on Sat morning, so there was no time for brekkie, instead we stopped at the only rest point along the F3 and had brunch. I know, nutrieous stuff .. but it was oh so good!


Bacon & Egg Sandwich x 2, Fillet O Fish Burger, 6 pack Nuggets, large ice coffee & a Maltesers sundae.

After a couple of wrong turn offs we finally arrived and met the dynamic duo in all their riding gear glory.



Some hot stuff there hey! ;) Whilst at the shops, we picked up some supplies. The girls were of course responsible for dinner, so the Poodle & I decided on something simple and what better than Chicken Fajitas!



For dessert... a winter warmer favourite of mine, Apple Crumble.



See below for recipe x

The next day, we went for a drive... here are some of the beautiful places and things we saw.

Hawks Nest Beach







The Log's photography skills (yeah I know, mines totally better)



That was totally part of the beach...wasn't me at all...



I was so excited because I actually got to collect some seashells! In Sydney, about the only thing you can collect is random rubbish or cigarette butts!



HAHA cute little seagull stretching its legs... or in my mind ...dancing ...

Hole in the wall



It started to get a little cloudy by the time we got there, but it was still such a beautiful sight.



How cute is this fat little ball of feathery fluff! When you look at the bird front on, the colours on its face sorta looks like a pansy flower.



More seashells....



The Log ... ♪ "He's walking away, from the trouble (me) in his life..." ♪

Tea Gardens



The sun decided to come out and play again when we arrived at Tea Gardens...In the background you can see the Singing Bridge which crosses over to Hawks Nest. On this side of the bridge there were cute little cafes and shops along the waters edge. On the other side, I saw some oyster farms.



Lots of Mr Percivals.

Apple Crumble

Apple base
1 kg green apples (Granny Smiths are best)
100g sugar
1tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp water

Crumble (this is a double quantity of crumble because I absolutely adore extra crumble so if your not as keen as I am just halve the recipe)
160g unsalted butter
320g plain flour
60g caster sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 180oC.

Peel and core all apples and cut into bite sized square pieces. Place into a baking dish and add all other ingredients. Mix it around so that all the apples are coated with the sugary water.

Measure the flour into a bowl and then rub in the butter so that it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir through the sugar, cinnamon & nutmeg. Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the apples making sure that it covers all the apples.

Bake for 45 mins - 1 hour until the crumble is nice and golden brown and you see a thick sauce bubble away at the edges.

Serve with some vanilla icecream or just cream.

Bon Appétit

Tip: This recipe is very versatile, you can try it with other fruits such as peaches & pears or you can add an extra 150g rhubarb to the apples for an even more tart flavour. Whatever you choose, it's great because it's such a quick and easy dessert and a sure crowd pleaser.



We had such a fabuluous time, it was so nice to get out of the city and to some place different. Thanks Poods & Boofa for hosting x

July 19, 2010

2010 Good Food & Wine Show

I attended the Good Food & Wine show for the first time ever this year! It was great, so many people, so much food and of course amazing wine.

For us, the day started with Gary & George's 10.30am celebrity theatre show.



They were so funny, I'm glad I choose to see them instead of the other celebrities who were also there, such as Matt Moran, Pete Evans, Toby Puttock etc...



The ingredients of the day were prawns and beetroot. They taught us how to make a few dishes including; Prawn Mousse Ravioli (I made it the night I got home... absolutely divine but we'll save that for another post ;P) & Roasted Beetroot Salad with Hazelnuts & Watercress by Gary.



George showed us how to do a Beetroot & Feta dip and Prawns baked in Hummus with Toasted Almonds. He describes the hummus on top of the prawns as a "hummus doona" and evoked thoughts of waking in the middle of the night to licking your hummus tasting doona (see pic).



Once the celebrity show was over I had an hour to roam around before I went to my Lindt chocolate masterclass. I thought it would literally be a class where you learn how to cook with chocolate but I was mistaken (that'll teach me to read what the actual class is about before jumping in just because I saw the word "chocolate").



It was basically a chocolate appreciation class, still good though, as I got to munch away on different kinds of Lindt chocolates (not to mention a big bag of Lindt goodies to take away) but a little boring as I've been to one of those before. Oh and if you guys haven't tried it yet, the Blueberry Intense by Lindt is AMAZING... very nice ♥


After that I explored the rest of the exhibition, going from meat stands to vodka stands to sauce stands to massage stands etc etc... here are some pics of the day...




Lovely bouquets of chocolate by Edible Blooms Australia






Learn to decorate with Sharon Wee Creations



Smallgoods of the Riverland - all that I saw was salami - mild, hot, garlic, basil yum yum yum!!



Spices & Rubs as well as other gourmet food products by NoMu.



These were fricken awesome! ... GIANT wine, martini, champagne glasses ... would have gotten one if they weren't so expensive! Around $100-$200+ a glass.



Hypervibe - very cool, it vibrates from side to side and believe me I jiggled in places I didnt know could jiggle. The way it works is, it forces your muscles to expand and contract, therefore toning/working your muscles. The rate at which it expands and contracts depends on the speed you set it at. For $2200 it was just a "little" out of my price range otherwise would be awesome to have, to burn off those fatty bits so I can eat more fatty bits! Muahahaha

To end the day, I decided to bake a Chocolate Fudge Cake with Tim Tam Ganache.



Chocolate Fudge Cake
125g butter
125g sugar
125g self raising flour
125g Block Chocolate, melted
4 eggs
100ml sour cream or creme fraiche
1 Tbsp Golden Syrup
30 g cocoa

Tim Tam Ganache
1 pack Tim Tam
3/4 cup cream
300g Block Chocolate
60g butter (optional)

Preheat oven to 180oC, grease & line 2x8 inch round tins.

Beat butter until soft & fluffy then add sugar and beat until pale & fluffy.

Beat in eggs one by one, making sure that the eggs are fully mixed into the butter mixture before adding the next egg.

Next add all your wet ingredients; chocolate, sour cream & syrup. Mix until well combined & moussy like in texture.

Mix in sifted flour & cocoa. Divide between tins and bake for around 30 mins until cake springs back to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.

Meanwhile, melt chocolate with cream, do not let it boil (if you are choosing to use the butter, stir in once ganache mixture is off the heat). Let mixture cool.

Whilst the ganache is cooling, pulse the tams in a food processor until it resembles fine crumbles.

Once the ganache is cooled, whip until it is light yet starting to thicken, add tam crumbs and mix together.

To assemble, spread ganache on one half, sandwich with the second cake and then ice all over with the remaining icing.

Serve with fresh strawberries.



Bon Appétit x

p.s. love the cake stand? Head to:

Morning Tea
Shop 16A, Northbridge Plaza
79-113 Sailors Bay Road
Northbridge
Ph: 9968-2924

Christmas in July High Tea

The girls (Jieni, Winnie & Hitsu) and I decided to go to Christmas in July High Tea at the Loft, King Street Wharf.




I've been wanting to do a Christmas in July high tea for ages! But I always seemed to miss it for one reason or another. Anyways, finally got around to booking in a date, was so excited, expected the place to have a real "Christmasy" feel to it..... there was a live piano man playing Christmas carols and groups of women chattering away enjoying their Saturday afternoon. We were seated in the outdoor section, which was lovely as the weather was absolutely beautiful, the sun was nice and bright dancing on the water accompanied by panoramic views of the wharf with its big luxurious boats.





Naturally we choose to have High Tea with a twist (who doesn't love cocktails on a lazy afternoon!). We tried all 3 special cocktails; Rudolph's nose, Silent Night and Santa's Little Helper.




Rudolph's Nose was my favourite (rhubarb purée with vodka, a hint of citrus & Turkish apple Tea). Santa’s Little Helper was very similar to Rudolph's Nose, instead of the rhubarb it had fresh berries crushed with cranberry juice, bourbon and fruit liqueurs, a hint of citrus topped off with a red fruit tea. Initially, we were very enticed by the idea of Silent Night, a combination of chocolate liqueur combined with Martel VS and a touch of espresso, rounded off with peppermint tea... however, it was too heavy on the espresso side and quite "watery" tasting if I must say so.



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Next, the infamous tiered platters, distinct of high tea arrive.




The top tier had a combination of sweeties; (anticlockwise from the left: a caramel tart with cherry compote, chocolate brownie, mince tart, truffle covered with white chocolate).




The second tier served plain scones, baby red bell peppers stuffed with goats cheese, frittata of leeks & ham & a chicken and pistachio galantine.



The last tier had an assortment of sandwiches. Damage inflicted - $45 pp

I must say, I was thoroughly disappointed with the food. The chicken was very dry, the sandwiches plain, the mince tart was very coles bought, chocolate brownie was very flavourless.. not rich and chocolatey like you'd expect a brownie to be. The caramel tart was the worst of the lot; the pastry was chewy and slightly soggy, the custard was grainy & the compote was too tart. The only redeeming feature was probably their scones with jam & cream. To top it all off... there was nothing else Christmasy about it all except for the fact that a mince tart was put in the combo... We didn't even get Christmas candy canes, dangling off the handle like everyone else! :(

To finish, coffee & tea was served. Hitsu & I had the Gorgeous Geisha, a Green Tea infused with a hint of strawberries & cream. Winnie & Jieni were boring, ordering a chai tea & flat white.




All in all, it was a nice experience with very lovely views. However, if asked "Would I go again?", the answer would probably be, "no". The cocktails were a nice "twist" but it was not enough to redeem them of the mediocre food that was served and once the novelty of "Christmas in July" wore off (quickly too mind you), it was nothing ...special. So, if your looking for a great place to go to traditional high tea, I would much rather recommend the
Tea Room,, QVB and if you'd like cocktails with your high tea,
The Victoria Room, Darlinghurst would be a much better option.


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