Archive for month: May, 2011

Sitney – The Shire Girl goes West

30 May
May 30, 2011
Go West…. Life is peaceful there
Go West…. In the open air
Go West…. Where the skies are blue
Go West…. This is what we’re gonna do

And go west I did! Being a Shire girl (I wasn’t always by the way) I tend to dine out in the Sydney CBD and basically anywhere from there back to the Sutherland Shire. The last time I ventured to Parramatta, I am ashamed to say, probably is well over 15 years ago.

The one thing I love about my baby Belly Rumbles is that through my blog I have formed friendships with like minded foodies from all around Sydney. Therefore when Wendy from Obese Baby got in touch to see if I was interested in visiting Sitney in Parramatta I was in.

Wendy had been given two vouchers from Food Morning for four people to dine at Sitney. Food Morning is similar to other special deal companies such as Scoopon and Living Social. Each voucher was for two people to dine which included two entrees, two mains, dessert of the day and a glass of red for $35, not bad value.

I found myself navigating to Parramatta one Thursday evening after work. Actually the traffic wasn’t too bad at all and I found myself there in an hour to meet up with Wendy and my other two dining companions Melanie (The Adventures of Miss Piggy) and Tammi (Insatiable Munchies).

Between the four of us we worked out the obvious course of action, and that was to choose one entree and one main each. Melanie vetoed the curry puffs for entree due to them being high in calories, nice to know somebody is looking after my figure.

All of us opted out of the glass of red wine option and had soft drinks instead. I had a long drive back home by myself so thought it better not to, even though it would have been well received.

Spring rolls (4 pieces) normally $6.90

Inside the roll

Golden crispy vegetarian spring rolls filled with mixed vegetables served with plum sauce. The filling was quite dark and the only vegetables I could make out were carrot and mushroom, the bulk of the spring roll seemed to be vermicelli noodles. The spring roll was surprisingly sweet.

Kai Satay (4 pieces) normally $7.90

Grilled marinated chicken skewers served with toasted peanut sauce and Thai cucumber relish. I found the chicken had a nice smoky charred flavour to it, but the peanut sauce very mundane, a bit peanut buttery for my taste.

Duck Herbs (4 pieces) normally $7.90

The duck herbs was basically a duck san choy bow. Finely chopped roast duck with red onion, mint, green onion, roasted rice and a chilli lime dressing served on top of a piece of cos lettuce leaf. Was a hit with everyone at the table.

Tung Tong (4 pieces ) normally $8.90

Juicy goodness insides

You say tung tong, I say money bags and somebody else may say golden bags. Whatever you call them these are one of my favourite entrees I have when dining at Thai restaurants. Crisp pastry filled with a juicy filling of chicken, crab, roasted peanuts and green peas, served with sweet chilli sauce. These were crispy big fat tasty specimens of a dish I am very fond of.

Som Tum – Soft Shell Crab Salad, normally $16.90

This was a must try on the menu, everyone being partial to deep fried soft shell crab. Besides the pieces of crab there was shredded green papaya, carrot, tomato, green bean, roasted peanuts and dry shrimp drizzled with a chilli lime dressing. The crab had lost some of its crispness by the time I got around to trying it, but it was really moist and juicy on the inside.

Massamun – Beef Curry, normally $15.90

Big hunky tender beef chunky in my bowl

The first thing I notice as the dish arrives at the table is the massive chunks of beef, four to be precise. Then I notice that the curry is topped with julienned deep fried sweet potato and potato crisps. Okay, I will be honest, I find this really strange. This is the first time I have experienced this type of a garnish on a massamun curry and the menu states that it comes with a sprinkle of cashew nut and fried red onion. I am a bit worried about the massive chunk of beef I chose, but find that it is incredibly tender and is easily broken apart in to bite size pieces. Despite the potato topping it is a flavoursome and enjoyable dish.

Pad Thai – Seafood, normally $19.90

I ordered this dish and it is my test dish for a Thai restaurant when visiting for the first time. Normally I go for tofu, but we decide on Pad Thai with seafood. A nice mix of seafood including prawns and mussels with thin rice noodles, dried shrimp, diced tofu, bean sprouts, garlic, chives, crushed peanuts and sliced red onion. The dish is fine, but doesn’t blow my socks off.

Lime Leaves & Peppercorn Sauce – Chicken, normally $15.90

Stir fried chicken, green beans, onion, carrot with garlic, chilli, lime leaves, peppercorns in a special sauce. I found this dish a little on the bland side and looking back at my photos I probably should have pinched some of the peppercorns off the stem to add a bit of bite.

Dessert of the day – Sago pudding with rockmelon & coconut milk, normally $7.90

I am a sago fan. The simplicity of the dessert was wonderful, fresh ripe rockmelon married with translucent sago pearls and coconut milk. Surprisingly it was a little salty, but actually it worked. A little bit of palm sugar syrup would have been a nice addition to the saltiness, got to love a bit of yin and yang.

If we had bought the Morning Sydney deal and not been treated to the freebie it would have cost us $75 all up.

When I tally what we would of spent without the deal it came to $131.80 and that is not including the soft drink we had nor the red wine we were entitled to. Pretty good deal and we all walked away very content.

I don’t think it is fair to say if I would go back or not, obviously due to the location of Sitney to my home. I can say that my more local dining companions will be back.

Sara xxx

Sitney Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo

26 May
May 26, 2011

Our May hostess, Denise of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need from creole spices, homemade stock and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.

Arghh I am so late in getting my challenge post up.  For those daring cooks amongst my readers you would know that the 14th of the month is D day.  Due to being ultra busy I only actually got around to making the gumbo on the 14th.

It had been a long busy week and I wasn’t at all prepared.  Denise gave us two options, the chicken and smoked sausage gumbo or a seafood gumbo.  Decision was easy, I wasn’t in the mood for seafood.

The problem with not being prepared with some of these challenges is that sometimes ingredients aren’t an easy find.  I had that problem this time.  The recipe called for andouille sausage, you may be able to find them somewhere in Sydney but definitely not in the Sutherland Shire.  Spicy smoked sausage was also needed which I was lucky to find, but sadly okra was no show in the local green grocers. Read more →

KFC for breakfast anyone?

23 May
May 23, 2011

KFC has now opened up in the Sydney Airport precinct, on Joyce drive right next door to McDonalds.  Now the unique factor about this KFC is that it is the only KFC in Australia to serve breakfast.  Yup you read me correctly, breakfast.  When I heard this I just had to pop in and see what they had on offer. Read more →

Grotta Capri – A unique Mother’s Day {Closed}

23 May
May 23, 2011

I seem to have a knack of picking memorable venues for Mother’s Day.  Last year I organised the tribe to go to Enigma, and 12 months on I am still trying to solve the riddle of the missing lobster.  There was also the pre blogging Mother’s Day where we went to C-Side restaurant which is part of the Greek Club at Brighton Le Sands.  We were the only non Greek, non club members there.  It felt like we had crashed a private party.  The kids got up after lunch was served and gave demonstrations of Greek dancing and everyone was singing, clapping and having a great time.  They were so accommodating to us, the food was great and we even got lovely goodie bags to take home.  This year seems I kept my tradition of choosing a memorable venue yet again, but more about the Grotta Capri a little later.

This year’s Mother’s Day in itself was a strange one for me.  Normally Mother’s Day is a tribal event which includes my in laws as well as my Mum and Dad.  This year it was not to be so.

Some of you would know that my Mum and Dad have moved up to warmer climates in Queensland.  This was the first Mother’s Day in a very long time where I didn’t spend it with my Mum.  Actually it is the first time in a long time that they have not lived more than 10 minutes away from us.  So my day was filled with me missing her, specially at lunch.

What I have not mentioned publically is that my Mother in law is very ill.  She has been for a while now with that horrid C word.  We are now at the stage where there is nothing else that can be done medically except to keep her as pain free and comfortable possible, all days are bad days and she is confined to bed.

This Mother’s Day I still wanted to go to lunch, it was something that got stuck in my head and it was something that I really wanted.  I am still not sure if the desire to go to lunch was a grasp to keep some normality of years past in my life or if it was just shear selfishness.

So Mother’s Day was a bit of a whirl of a day.  Started with a teeny sleep in and a champagne breakfast at our place where we had melon and prosciutto (two of my favourite things).  Then it was get ready, rush out the door with Sally, I rung my mother on the way to my in-laws.  Some time spent with my Mother-in-law before heading out to the Grotta Capri for lunch.  Sally spent time being doted over while we were out.

I have wanted to eat at the Grotta Capri for ages, and I do mean ages, at least three decades.  I grew up in the area and when I was still a kid the Grotta Capri was “the” place to eat in the area.  It was a mixture of fine food and unique setting, designed to resemble the famous blue grotto on the isle of Capri.  Where else in Sydney can you eat in a sea grotto?

I knew that the Grotta Capri was a little past her prime, but I still wanted to pay a visit and try it out.  What I didn’t expect was to walk in to an empty restaurant at 12.30pm on Mother’s Day, one of the busiest days for restaurants during the year.  Mac said he could see it written all over my face.  That feeling you get when you walk in to an empty restaurant to eat and wonder what does everyone else know that I don’t?  Apparently I was beaming that feeling like a lighthouse for all to see.

Look I’m at a wedding

After I got over the shock that the restaurant was empty I notice that it was actually set up for a wedding.  All the chairs decked out with silk bows, draped white material everywhere and the garish wedding cake stand in front  of the bridal table completed the whole look.

We were advised we had a choice to two tables, both right up front and centre near the front door.  This didn’t really thrill me in a completely empty restaurant, would of rather been in one of the little grotto type alcoves, but I was still sort of in shock and just sat down.  We chose the one with less white draped material surrounding us.  Our lovely host for lunch advised us that there was a wedding last night, the photographer had flash issues and he was coming back after lunch today to take photos.  Wedding decor mystery solved.

Given menus, the boys order a beer each and I order a long island tea.  We are advised that they were wiped out of octopus last night so it isn’t on the menu and that there are only two serves of lamb shank left.  This is where my confidence in the choice of venue for lunch goes downhill even more.  What keeps me smiling is the setting I am in, underwater wedding theme, and the fact that the staff are really lovely

I had one massive craving for oysters, the retro kind of mornay and kilpatrick, and order a dozen for the three of us to share with some garlic bread as an appetiser.  The garlic bread is the way it should be,  large chunks of garlic and lots of buttery goodness, finger licking.

Garlic bread $4

Another group arrive and at this point our host deems it fit to put some music on.  Sadly it seemed to be the wedding music from the night before, think Carpenters, Barbra Streisand, Dionne Warwick, Dan Hill (Sometimes when we touch).  I keep an ear out for Islands in the Stream by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, but that was seems to not have made the wedding mix.

A dozen oysters, Kilpatrick and mornay $27

The oysters are interesting, mornay light but seemed to be only under the griller for five seconds.  The kilpatrick are generous with the bacon and have a nice Worchester bite to them. What I find interesting is that there is not one piece of rouge shell in the oysters, I am also fascinated at how pearly white the inside of the oyster shells are.  I turn one of the shells over and notice that they are extremely weathered on the outside.  Do they re-use the shells?  Do they buy the oysters out of the shell (jars or large containers) and then put them in the shells?  Now saying that, there was nothing wrong with the oysters, they were actually quite fine.

For entree I decide to try the bomboletti di ricotta.  Light and fluffy deep fried balls of zucchini, shallot and ricotta topped with a cheese sauce on a bed of mixed lettuce.  I am happy and things are looking like lunch will be okay.

Bomboletti di Ricotta $18

Josh decides on the antipasto plate for his entree.  Mix of cold meats such as mortadella, salami, prosciutto with olives, sundried tomatoes, artichokes etc.  It is a big plate and Josh has a hard time getting through it and leaves about a quarter behind.

Antipasto $17

The asparaci alla siciliana grabs my attention but as I had prosciutto with breakfast I went for the bomboletti, but Mac decides to give it a go.  Fresh Asparagus wrapped in prosciutto and provolone cheese.  I swap Mac a bomboletti for one of his spears, the way they look reminds us of deep fried prawns.  The asparagus is still al dente which I like, but I can’t work out where the provolone cheese is.  They are topped with what looks like on first inspection aioli or mayonnaise but it actually tastes like tartare sauce.  They aren’t too bad.

Asparaci alla Siciliana $18

It took me a while to decide on what I wanted for my main, but I finally decided on Scaloppine Marsala, veal with caramelised shallots in a marsala reduction.  Will say this now, loud and proud, my version which I cook at home is far superior.  Very uninspiring dish, slightly tough veal swimming in sauce.  Not sure why they bothered with the tiny piece of broccoli on the plate, either serve vegetables with the meal or don’t, broccoli is not a garnish.

Scaloppine Marsala $27

Mac chose chicken with bacon and mushrooms, Pollo “something”, I forgot to write it down and it doesn’t appear on their online menu, sorry.  Extremely salty and Mac isn’t impressed at all.  It’s funny he really is less forgiving with restaurant dishes than I am.  Both our meals come with a side dish of over cooked potatoes and carrots.

Chicken with bacon and mushroom $28

Potatoes & carrots – extremely over cooked

Salt and pepper squid was Josh’s decision.  A very generous serving on a bed of lettuce which was nice a crisp but Josh felt it was a little too on the salty side as well.

Salt & Pepper Squid $28

We decide to go for dessert and I can’t go past the crème brulee, which comes with a side of gelato, I choose pistachio.  I really enjoy the pistachio gelato, but sadly the crème brulee is missing that nice crisp cracking toffee topping and the custard is over cooked.

The guys go for the home made tiramisu.  I had a try and thought it was okay as far as tiramisu goes (I’m not a great fan of the stuff), but both the boys find it very mediocre.  What disappoints them the most is that it says on the menu it is served with a shot of espresso.  What they didn’t realise was that their tiramisu would be floating in the shot.

Their wine list is very reasonable and middle of the road in regard to varieties.

The Grotta Capri seems to me to be more of the place that you would hold a function like a wedding with a underwater weird theme or large birthday party etc.  I am glad I went, yes, will always be a lunch I remember.  Would I go back, probably not.

Sara xxx

Grotta Capri Italian & Seafood on Urbanspoon

Vivo Cafe {Closed}

18 May
May 18, 2011

Vivo Cafe is situated on George Street, most probably the busiest street in Sydney’s CBD.  The first thing I notice about Vivo Cafe on approach was the large raised outdoor seating area.  This is not a common sight these days in Sydney’s CBD.  Most cafes have indoor dining, court yard access or are part of a food court, but not on the main drag.

Vivo Cafe is in prime position to watch the goings on, and as a people watcher (woops my secret is out) it is a perfect spot for breakfast or lunch.  Umbrellas to shade you in summer and heaters to keep you toasty warm in winter. Read more →

Let’s Get Twisted!

15 May
May 15, 2011

Am I a fan of frozen yoghurt?  Questions don’t usually send me silent, but when Andrew from Riolife asked me, I had no response.  My mind instantly did a flash back to the last time I had soft serve frozen yoghurt.  It was a very very very long time ago.  It was the late 80′s and I was working as a runner for the Futures Exchange in Sydney.  My job title summed up what I did precisely, I ran all day.  Ran messages to important clients around town, ran updates, ran ran ran. Emails didn’t exist kiddies, this was the day of the telex.   At lunch time I would then run across to Australia Square and buy a massive tub of soft serve frozen yoghurt, choice of four flavours.  When my mind eventually drifted back to the present, my blank distant faced response was “It’s been a while”.  Don’t you hate those moments?

I was at Twisted Frozen Yoghurt at Bondi Beach for a tasting organised by the woman behind Twisted Cass Spies.  Cass has come up with the most delicious soft serve yoghurt, creamy in texture like ice cream with flavour that bursts in your mouth.  All her yoghurt is made freshly on the premises, no pre-mixes used.

Andrew (Riolife) is the supplier to Twister for their Acai berries from South America.  Acai berries are sustainably sourced from the Brazilian Rainforest,  are low GL, have 4-6 times more antioxidants than blueberries and is a source of calcium, iron and magnesium.  They make a nice addition to the already healthy Twisted menu

There are 20 flavours which can be twisted up in to 40 flavour combinations.  Tasty combinations like; Gorilla’s in the Twist (Chocolate + Banana), Skinny Flat White (Original + Coffee), Mother Earth (Vanilla + Green Tea), Knickers in a Twist (Chocolate+ Coconut) and Twisted Sista (Chocolate+ Caramel).

Besides having a healthy cup or cone of twisted yoghurt there are many other mouth watering options on the Twisted menu.  Probiotic smoothies, Twisted delights (made to order yoghurt parfaits) and let’s not forget about the vast range of toppings on offer.

Twisted yoghurt is 98% fat free, has no artificial sweeteners, is low in kilojoules, high in calcium and protein.

I sampled some delicious smoothies, the coconut and banana combination being my favourite, was very moreish.

Cass had organised to play a little game with us, blind taste testing.  Was actually an interesting experiment as some of the flavours were very obvious as to what they were others not quite so, but there was one flavour that stumped us all.  It tasted fantastic and you could tell it was a citrus of some kind, but not one of us were guessing correctly.  After everyone had given up Cass revealed that it was blood orange, it was such a taste sensation.

When you visit if you are like me and live far away from Bondi there are take home tubs available.

Since my visit a few months ago Twisted now have frozen yoghurt cakes on their menu.  How good does the Chocolate Lovers Yoghurt Cake sound?  Rrich chocolate and creamy vanilla with layers of dark chocolate chips surrounded with roasted hazelnuts and topped with their gluten free chocolate brownie!!!

So back to Andrew’s question, “am I a fan of frozen yoghurt?”.  Yes, yes a very big Twisted fan indeed.

Twisted Frozen Yoghurt is open 10am -10pm Monday – Friday and  9.00am – 10.30 Saturday and Sunday.

Sara xxx

Twisted Frozen Yoghurt on Urbanspoon

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