Merry Xmas! Cisco the Christmas cat says hello! He spent Xmas morning underneath the Xmas tree, guarding the presents.
I hope everyone had a lovely day, full of family, friends and fab food. We had our traditional Orphans’ Xmas, though it was an unofficial Orphans’ gathering this year since my parents are currently visiting. Here are some pics of our day! (more…)
The idea for an Asian snack food tasting session came out of a Twitter convo with Thanh, Adrian and others. It was one of those ideas that sounded fantastic – a group of us getting together for lunch and tasting dried cuttlefish and dried mangoes.
Thanh organised a lunch meet up at Old Town Kopitiam Mamak, where Alastair and I met up with him, Lingy and I-Hua, all prepared with our bags of cuttlefish and mango. Thanks for organising, Thanh! (more…)
I know that I’m not the only food blogger who struggles with this. Basically, I eat more than I blog, which means I have a rather large amount of photos accumulated. In order to get through some of them, I’m going to cram several places into a couple of posts. After that maybe I’ll tackle the photos of food I’ve cooked but haven’t blogged?
We went to Dead Man Espresso with Maria and Daz a couple of months ago. They had a very short food menu on the weekend (I’m not sure if it’s different during the week) which was a shame. I suppose the focus is on the coffee? I thought my coffee was okay, but others weren’t that impressed with their coffees. (more…)
We headed up to Sydney the other weekend to watch Alastair’s cousin race in a regatta. It was the beginning of a whole week of eating!
I knew zilch about yachts, sailing, and 18 foot skiffs, before the weekend. But after two afternoons spent on a spectator ferry watching the racing, I can now tell you all about….. nothing. Yes, I still know zilch. It’s a whole different world, my friends. But we had a great time, and got to spend time with Alastair’s family, many of whom were in town to watch the race. (Hello to Alastair’s aunts and uncles – Ian, Dale, Ken, Rayleen and to my mother-in-law Annette and step-father-in-law Terry.)
We stayed in gooorgeous swanky Double Bay, as that’s where the regatta was held. Double Bay must be under the dictionary definition of seriously swankypants. It is NICE.
We flew up on Friday night, and the next morning we headed out to brunch at a cafe around the corner. Being a terrible blogger, I neglected to note down where we were but I managed to take photos! For brunch, Alastair and I both had the corn fritters with crispy bacon, greens, avocado salsa and tomato relish. I had been expecting a pancakey type of corn fritter and was surprised when the dish came out. Despite this, the corn fritters were SO GOOD. They were little balls of corny, deep fried goodness served with a generous amount of bacon, and hidden underneath the salad was a rich and tangy tomato relish.
Afterwards we had a wander around Double Bay to kill time before the race started for the day. We came across a shop that sold freshly made fruit juice.
It was hot and we were thirsty, so we ordered a juice. I was just going to ask for an orange juice, but Alastair said that was boring and asked the guy behind the counter to make one based on what he recommended. He ended up giving us a juice with fresh watermelon, pineapple and mint and wow! It was fantastic – very refreshing and sweet with the mint really setting it off. I’m so glad we didn’t get boring old orange juice! It was such a good juice that we had another one the day after.
After our juice, we found a place selling fresh gelati.
We shared a blood orange gelato. It was just okay – I found it quite sweet but really tangy at the same time. Alastair said that it tasted like Raro!. I had post-gelato-flavour-choosing-regret and wish that we had picked mint instead.
For dinner that evening, we ate at Limoncello in Double Bay. It was really busy, so we decided that was a good thing and waited 15 minutes for a table. I had the papperdelle with osso buco ragu. My pasta was excellent – toothsome and covered with a thick, rich meaty sauce. The restaurant was really freakishly dark though, hence the crap photos!
Alastair had the tagliolini with Balmain bugs meat, semi sun-dried tomatoes in a cream sauce. Oh, he picked well! I had a taste and it was delicious – the sauce was very moreish and not too heavy.
Rilsta from My Food Trail was also in Sydney that weekend, and she had organised a lunch with a few Sydney bloggers. She let me gatecrash their lunch – thanks! So on Sunday, Alastair and I headed into the city for lunch at Ripples on Sydney Wharf, where we met Anita from Leave Room for Dessert, Belle from Ooh Look, Mademoiselle Delicieuse from Spoon, fork and chopsticks and their partners.
I ordered the spiced mussels with saffron, mascarpone and chilli with garlic baguette. Fancy name, but the mussels were really just in a curryish broth. They were nice though.
Alastair had the roasted pork belly with apple and fennel puree, chargrilled scallop, witlof and celeraic salad. Verdict? He commented that it wasn’t the best pork belly he’d ever had. While it looked mightily impressive, the crackling wasn’t very crispy and the meat needed a bit more flavour.
Unfortunately we couldn’t stay long, as we had to be back in Double Bay to watch the last race in the regatta. Ultimately, the cousin and his team placed 8th, which is pretty respectable considering the plague of injuries, and continual crew changes during the week.
Coming up (if I can manage to find time AND motivate myself to blog) – more on our week of eating: seafood by the sea, eating with our hands, wine tasting, and POP ROCKS (seriously!).
The Cupcake Bakeoff for the RSPCA Cupcake Day went well at work today. We had a good assortment of cupcakes – along with mine there was also carrot, lemon, banana, and vanilla with different toppings. There was some tough competition from bumblebee cupcakes (see below) but the fondant toppers and the booze in mine got me over the line and I won the bakeoff. Sweet!
Jennie organised a great event. There was a good variety of cupcakes, and a really good turnout with many people coming from other floors/branches. Most of the cupcakes sold at morning tea time, with the leftovers gradually disappearing by the end of the day.
And money wise, we raised over $240 for the RSPCA – a good result!
The recipe for this batch was adapted from Australian Women’s Weekly “Bake”. They are basically a vanilla cupcake base, with a dollop of jam swirled through the top. For the icing, I thought I’d try a buttercream with the addition of a couple of teaspoons of powdered raspberries.
Erm. Buttercream – I suck at making buttercream. Why? I have no idea! It should be the easiest thing in the world! After putting the buttercream into my piping bag, I realised it was too thick. Back in the mixer it went with a touch of milk. Tried piping again – nope, still too thick. Back into the mixer. It just kept getting worse and worse and worse, until I finally gave up. I ended up melting the buttercream in the microwave and then spooning it over the cupcakes like a glaze. This actually worked quite well, although it was a pain in the arse wiping the drips off the cupcake liners.
And the cupcake itself? Unfortunately I didn’t think much of it – I thought it was too dry. Fortunately the recipe, which I’m not posting because I didn’t like it, only made a dozen cupcakes.
But while this batch of cupcakes wasn’t a success, I still learnt something from making them. All this cupcake baking has meant that I finally “get” the whole cupcake thing. Before I’d never really understood why people were so obsessed by cupcakes, but now I get it! Cupcakes are fun (even when everything goes wrong and your buttercream is shit and the cupcakes are dry and boring).
The Almighty Cupcake Challenge is finally happening next Monday. The weekend before last, I baked a test batch of the cupcakes I’m going to make for the Challenge – and wow they are good! I won’t post them until next weekend so you’ll have to wait and see (don’t want to give my almost twin any ideas….. aye, J?)