Sunday, January 30, 2011

Adriano Zumbo Cafe, Rozelle

Can you believe that today is the first time that I've had an Adriano Zumbo Macaron? Or that I've been walking past his Pâtisserie on Darling Street in Balmain for years without even registering that it is there. Or that until Season 2 of Masterchef I didn't even know who he was.  I'm an idiot, I know.

After hearing/reading/seeing so much about Zumbo and his famous dessert creations I vowed to myself that when I was in Balmain today with Niecy Poo I would make a point to seek out his tiny, but very very famous, Pâtisserie.  The trouble with that idea though was that everyone else in Balmain seemed to be thinking the same thing. I could hardly get my foot in the door due to the crush inside, let alone check out what Macarons he had on offer.

As our parking meter in Balmain was quickly running out it was time for Plan B.  We overheard a crazed Zumbo fan saying that the Adriano Zumbo Cafe in Rozelle is open today so we head on over to try our luck there. 

Bingo! The cafe is open for the hungry masses and the queue is pretty small, although a tad chaotic with people milling about in a wide-eyed Zumbo induced stupor.  We only wait for five minutes before we get out turn out the counter.

Quite a few of the Macarons have sold out and I'm devastated to see that the much touted Salted Caramel is nowhere to seen.  Sad face.  As we umm and ahh over what to get one of the staff brings out an emergency tray of the Salted Caramel and I'm happy again.  I'm surprised however to hear the the Macarons are frozen and will take a while to defrost.  I had assumed everything was made fresh on the day, but I guess such a huge demand for these sweet delights means they have to make huge batches in advance in order to satisfy Sydney's crazed Macaron fiends.

In the end we decide to get six Macarons ($2 each) and go for a mix of the conventional and the slightly crazy.  We choose Carrot Cake, Chocolate Berry Mudcake, Marshmallow, Wasabi, Rosemary and Apricot, and (of course) Salted Caramel.  We were tempted to try the crazy sounding Vegemite and Sourdough but I guess we'll have to leave that one til next time.

We actually score a freebie as one of the Macarons (the Chocolate Berry Mudcake) is cracked - better to end up in my tummy than the bin, right?

I would say my favourite Macaron is the Salted Caramel with its lush, slightly salty buttery filling although in all honesty I loved them all.  Each Macaron has a fragile yet crisp shell that crumbles delightfully with each bite, giving way to the beautiful filling within.

I really enjoyed trying the unconventional flavours as they weren't as sweet as the more traditional  (or expected) flavours. I enjoyed the sensation of my brain thinking "I know I am eating a Rosemary flavoured Macaron, but why does it feel like I should be eating Roast Lamb?"

I feel like a bit of a fatty boombah after eating six Macarons today, but it was all in the name of research.  It was fun getting involved with all the hype and trying what one of Sydney's best known, and most adventerous, patissiers has to offer.

If I was walking past Zumbo's again and there was no crowd I would definitely pop in to see what other flavours he has on offer.  I'd also be hoping that a whole tray of broken goodies gets handed my way.

Adriano Zumbo Patisserie on Urbanspoon

The Adriano Zumbo Cafe is at 114 Terry Street, Rozelle. The Patisserie is at 296 Darling Street, Balmain.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Silk Road Chinese Halal Restaurant, Chinatown

Hi, my name is Mel and it has been at least five months since I last visited Chinatown.  Sad isn't it?

Needless to say I am more than psyched to be venturing into Chinatown with Miss Chicken in order to satisfy my long-standing craving for dry-fried Chinese Green Beans with pork mince.  I know I am in good hands as, out of all my friends, I don't think anyone knows the best cheapie food haunts in Chinatown better than Miss Chicken.

Miss Chicken has selected the cheerfully decorated halal eatery, Silk Road Chinese Halal Restaurant for us so no pork for me tonight!  Not to worry.  Green beans are green beans as far as I'm concerned.

No surprises then that the first cab off the rank for us is the spicy Fried Dry Kidney Beans ($8.50). It's number 80 on their handy picture menu.  Can I just say how much I love picture menus.  I find them particularly helpful when I'm in unfamiliar food territory and am unsure of what to order.  If it looks good in the menu, then chances are it will be good in my tummy.

Despite the "Spice Warning" and obvious chunks of chilli standing brazenly on the plate, the dish is  surprisingly mild. The beans glisten with oil, which begs the question what does 'dry fried' actually mean? There is a slight saltiness to them and the plate is peppered with whole cloves of pan-fried garlic.  I eat more than my fair share of the garlic, which proves to be a good method for ensuring no one sits next to me on the train on the way home.  This dish has well and truly satisfied my green bean craving...for now.

We order a Northwestern Style Salad ($5.80 for a small) which is a lovely fresh companion to the oily (but oh so yummy) fried beans.  The salad is a zesty mix of cucumber, red capsicum, tomato and onion.  This is the first time I've had a salad with a Chinese meal and it's a wonderfully fresh accompaniment to the other dishes.

A big fat plate of juicy Braised Dumplings ($8.00) is surely manna from heaven.  We choose a lamb filing for our soupy dumplings and the innards are almost meatball-like in their texture.  As far as value for money dishes go, this one is right up there. There must have been 16 dumplings on our plate...and we ate every single last one of them.

No visit to a northern Chinese establishment would be complete without handmade noodles and a dish of Fried Diced Noodles with Beef ($9.00) doesn't disappoint.  I like the diced noodles as I usually have 'issues' with the meter long noodles ending up all over my face/lap/top/table.

After dinner we go through a wander through Chinatown. I'm amazed at how many new places have opened up in my five month absence.

We walk past the legendary queue for Mamak, and check out the Taiwanese dessert mecca Meet Fresh, as well as a new (well, new to met) crop of eateries in the Dixon Street laneway just opposite these two foodie haunts.  Chinatown is so exciting and I'm like an over excited kid in a candy shop to be back here after so long. I know one thing after tonight's dinner - it won't be another five months before I'm back again.

Silk Road Chinese Halal Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Silk Road Chinese Halal Restaurant is at 2/203 Thomas Street, Chinatown.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Australia Day Fish & Chips at Ocean Master, Newport Beach

Happy 'Straya Day everyone (translation: that's Australia Day for anyone reading from overseas).

As today was set to be a scorcher in Sydney's west The Boy and I hopped in the car and headed over to Narrabean Beach to try and keep cool.  Although being all blue skies and burning sunshine in Parramatta, when we arrived at the beach the skies were grey and a misty fog was hanging low on the beach.  We couldn't see more than 20 meters in any direction.  Very very weird, but it didn't stop us going for a swim.

After a few hours of frolicking in the water it was time for some sustenance.  Being at the beach really only means one thing for lunch - Fish & Chips.  Never mind that we'd only been at the beach three days before Australia Day and had fish & chips for lunch then.  The diet starts tomorrow right?

We decide to head up to Newport Beach for a change of scenery and settle on some fish & chips from Ocean Master Seafood.

The last time we had fish & chips The Boy and I shared a Fisherman's Basket.  "Somehow" The Boy ate all of his fish cocktail pieces and half of mine...not happy Jan. 

To avoid any such stealing of my food today we decide to go our separate ways and each order an Ocean's Choice ($14.95).  I'm happy with this decision as all my fish pieces will come in their own protective box, safe from greedy little fingers.  It's  probably the best way to order food for two people anyway as their family meals and fisherman's baskets cost around $35.00 - $38.00.

We get our minds made up just in time as the place fills up soon after we place our order.  We waited for about 15 minutes for our food, which is pretty good considering the place was heaving with beach goers. 

Before the rush....
...and during the rush
Our meals each come with 2 fish cocktails, 2 calamari rings, 2 prawn cutlets, 2 sea scallops (The Boy got half of mine anyway) and chips.  In retrospect it's probably too much food for one person, but not enough for two.

I think I probably spent too much time taking photos and playing around with my awesome new Canon G11 Powershot as by the time I got around to eating my food it had all gone a bit soggy from being couped up in its cardboard box.

The Boy polished his off in record time and assures me everything was perfectly fine and crispy for those of  us not taking photos for our blogs.  We both agree that the Prawn Cutlets were the best thing on offer in the box - crunchy and crispy.

After spying a number of bluebottle warning signs on the beach we decide to head home rather than risk being stung. It's SO hot here right now I kind of wish I'd braved the stingers.

Ocean Master Seafood is at 385 Barrenjoey Rd, Newport, right opposite the beach.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bay 16 Cafe at The Carriage Works, Redfern

I no longer have "my finger on the pulse" of inner-west life. It's a fact. The only way I ever find out about great new places these days is if I'm told about them by other people (or read about them on other people's blogs).

I blame my finger's inability to find the pulse on a few things.

Firstly, I'm getting older. Next month I'll definitely be closer to 40 than 30, eep (don't tell anyone, ok)? Secondly, I'm now an outer-westie, rather than an inner-westie so I am geographically challenged.  And lastly, there is just so much happening in the inner-west that I probably couldn't keep track of it all if I was 20 and lived smack bang in the middle of Newtown.

The only reason I knew that the Carriage Works even has a cafe is because someone cooler and hipper than me told me about it.  Apparently  Bay 16 Cafe has been installed in the foyer of the Carriage Works for a very long time now.  Who knew?  Not me that's for sure.

Today I take myself out for a walk around the neighborhood close to work as I'm finding it hard, really really hard, to be back in the office after nearly four weeks of leave over Christmas.  The Carriage Works seems like as good a place as any to have a sandwich and reminisce to myself about holidays' long gone.

The lunch menu at Bay 16 Cafe is pretty simple and offers a selection of sandwiches, salads, cakes and coffees.

It feels quite strange, and yet very relaxing, to be at the Carriage Works on a day where nothing much is happening other than a few workmen fixing things in the vacuous building, random office workers having a bite to eat and a few 'arty farty' people wandering about looking creative. The place is just as sleepy as I feel and it's lovely. 

I decided on a sandwich of Lemon Pepper Chicken with Haloumi, Parsley and Herb Dressing ($8.50).  Because the bread is a lovely, thick sourdough the waitress suggests I get it toasted as it tastes much better toasted. I think everything tastes better toasted so happily go along with her suggestion.

The sandwich is lovely and the chicken has a fresh, zesty flavour. Of course anything that comes with Haloumi is a winner with me.  That said, and as the innards show, the sandwich is just a fraction too slick with oil which is a problem when my napkin blows away in the breeze and I'm left wiping my fingers on my handbag as I cannot find any tissues within!

For good measure I throw in a glass of freshly squeezed Orange Juice for ($3.50). The OJ is cool and refreshing. And, for you pulp haters out there...their juice is pulp free and as silky smooth as...well as something that is silky smooth.

After I finish lunch I go for a wander around outside and notice a little herb and vegetable garden growing in tubs just outside the entrance to Bay 16.  It's nice to think that some fresh, homegrown rocket was in my sandwich.

For opening hours of Bay 16 Cafe check out their website.

The Carriage Works can be found at 245 Wilson Street, Redfern/Eveleigh.  Bay 16 Cafe is located in the Carriage Works foyer.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Green Room Lounge, Enmore

Earlier in the week The Boy and I met up in Enmore after work to partake in some lovely African food at Lat Dior.  Problem with us meeting up after work is that we both finish work pretty early and find ourselves at Lat Dior's front door about 40 minutes before their 6pm opening time.  D'oh.

Not to worry as I spy the groovy (relatively) new bar The Green Room Lounge just a few doors up and I figure it's never to early for a cocktail. 

Even though we rock up at The Green Room well before the 6pm kick off to Happy Hour I still manage to nab myself one of their house cocktails at Happy Hour prices.  In fact, it's not until I check my photos once we get home that I realise we're 40 minutes early for happy hour too!

I begin to seriously think we are we the only people under 80 in Sydney trying to eat dinner before 6pm.  Am I really such a nanna?

After a cursory glance at the House Cocktail list my old favourite Mojito ($10 at happy happy hour) jumps out at me and begs to be ordered.  I decide on passionfruit flavour as I just looooove passionfruit in my cocktails.

The boy decides on a Pure Blonde ($7)...I have no idea why when cocktails are available for $10.00.

I'm not sure why all my photos from here on in are taken at crazy angles. I think my Mojito is probably a bit more alcoholic than I gave it credit for.  I must have lost muscle control of my wrists which thus caused the camera to tilt a bit.  Plus I'm a bit of a one pot screamer anyway.

Anyway, I really love my passionfruit Mojito and polish it off in about 5 minutes.  Hiccup.

Looking around The Green Room I was struggling to remember what had occupied its place before it arrived on the Enmore scene.  The lovely bar lady tells me it used to be a TAB.  Although the name, The Green Room is not a homage to the green colour scheme of the TAB, but a nod to the Enmore Theatre which is just a few doors away.

The decor at The Green Room is made up of a lovely collection of 60s furniture which gives the place that groovy, cosy and relaxed feel that has been lost with the modernisation of a lot of the local pubs.  There are some really really lovely pieces here and I am amazed that they have such a great, and large collection of retro furniture all in really good condition.  I'm actually quite jealous at the wonderful and eclectic mix of chairs, coffee tables and lamps...some of this stuff would look great in my flat!

The Green Room Lounge also has some snacks available if happy hour gets too much for you and you need to line your stomach with something.  I've heard very good things about their cheese platters. Not for us though as it's 6.01pm and we're off to Lat Dior to line our stomachs there.

The Green Room is at 156 Enmore Rd, Enmore

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