Archive for month: October, 2011

District Dining {Closed}

27 Oct
October 27, 2011

I am desperately trying to catch up on my writing for Belly Rumbles.  This blogger is so far behind it is ridiculous, especially with restaurant reviews.

I had wanted to try District Dining for quite a while so I took the initiative and booked it for Fathers’ Day for the tribe.  District Dining is Warren Turnbull’s more relaxed sister restaurant to Assiette.  You can’t compare this Surry Hills bistro to the two hatted Assiette, their styles are just so different, but the food is fantastic at both establishments.

We are greeted by the friendly staff and shown to our table for our 12.30 booking.  The menu is designed to share and the tribe let me order our first course of various dishes.  I have had my eye on the menu for a while and was slightly disappointed when I was advised that they had already sold out of the crispy school prawns with lime mayonnaise and beef chimichanga with curry avocado.  The only plus side to this is that it gives me an excuse to head back, not that I really need one as the food was fantastic. Read more →


Happy Lab

25 Oct
October 25, 2011

I seem to have moved in under that rock again or my food radar is on the blink.  On my way to the Becasse Bakery on level 5 of Westfields Pitt Street Mall on the weekend I spotted the Happy Lab.  Hadn’t heard boo about this new establishment.

Sorry guys no photos of the shop as I was advised they have a no photo policy when I asked, but I did note many iPhones happily snapping away when I was looking at the merchandise.

The happy Lab is a lolly shop.  But oh wow what a shop.  The walls are lined with test tubes and glass containers filled with chocolates, jellies, various coated nuts, popcorn, lolly pops and a vast variety of jelly beans.  Looking at the jelly beans they are the spitting image of Jelly Belly beans, but I am assured they are not that in fact they come from Ireland.

The staff are extremely helpful with suggestions and advising what the different products are.  They walk around dressed in white lab coats and seem to enjoy working there.  When I visited the shop was packed and I was told that since the opening two weeks ago the place has proven extremely popular.

The first Happy Lab was opened in Melbourne with Sydney being the second store.  Their website also says that there is a store open at Westfield Bondi (any feedback would be great guys if you have visited).  There are new shops due to open this month at the Melbourne International Airport (departures), Westfield Doncaster and their online shop will become operational too.

It is very hard to walk out of Happy Lab without purchasing something, actually I ended up departing with spending just over $70.  Wasn’t a budget shopping spree that’s for sure.  So what did I purchase?  Oh and photos too, as they can’t dictate what I do in my own home.

Hawaiian Salted Caramel Con Poppers $12.95/226gms (made in USA)

Caramel coated popcorn with a salt kick.  For those that like the caramel and salt combination these would be a winner.  There are a couple more varieties, I wouldn’t mind trying their rocky road popcorn.

Calissonine Karma Nutra $24.95/265gms & Noix de Coco Esoterocks $$19.95/225gms (made in France)

The Karma Nutra are roasted almonds covered in white chocolate and caisson cream encased in a candy shell.  These are my favourite of my purchases, but at just shy of $25 for a couple of handfuls of almonds it will be a once in a while luxury purchase.

Esoterocks are sweetened coconut coated in milk Belgium chocolate covered in a candy shell.  They taste like small bites of Bounty.

Dark Black Pepper Chocolate Pop $3.95/25gm & Milk Blueberry Chocolate Pop $3.95/25gm (made in Thailand)

Inside the Milk Blueberry Pop

I thought these would be more like a truffle, but in fact they are solid chocolate which has been flavoured.  The black pepper had a nice pepper kick, but not over powering.  The Blueberry wasn’t that impressive, the chocolate had a faint blueberry taste through it.  Would not purchase again, expensive for what they are.

Capucine, Bouton d’or & Rouge Mini Meetoo’s $1.50/10gms (made inFrance)

The little screw top container states “as they say – good things come in small packages”.  These are mini smarties in a single colour, crunchy sugar coated Belgium chocolate.

Happy Lab’s packaging is very well done, total eye candy (sorry for the pun) and what I do like is that it can be reused.  Products aren’t cheap so It is very easy to spend up big on a few items, total control is needed when visiting as everything looks fantastic.

Next time you are in Westfield Pitt St Mall, it would be worth poking your nose in to have a look.  Sadly their website doesn’t offer any product information at the moment, but that will have to change when their online shop goes live.

Sara xxx

Happy Lab on Urbanspoon

Moo Shu Pork

23 Oct
October 23, 2011

“The October Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Shelley of C Mom Cook and her sister Ruth of The Crafts of Mommyhood. They challenged us to bring a taste of the East into our home kitchens by making our own Moo Shu, including thin pancakes, stir fry and sauce.”

Thank you Shelley and Ruth for giving us such a great challenge.  I must admit I am not a stranger to Moo Shu pork, it is something I have made before.  We eat a fair bit of Asian food in our household,  I enjoy the flavours and find it quick and satisfying on a weeknight.  Sure there are many dishes from around Asia that require hours of preparation, and I enjoy making those too, but nothing beats a stir fry or noodles mid week.

Moo shu pork (moo shi/mu shu or mu xu pork) originates from Northern China, possibly originally from Shandong.  It is served with warm moo shu pancakes (mandarin pancakes) similar to what is served with Peking Duck.  Actually the recipe that was provided is nearly the same as the one I use to make my pancakes to accompany Peking Duck.  Sauce is also served, usually hoisin sauce. Read more →

Pie Crawl! Coopers’ Pie n’ Pale Challenge

12 Oct
October 12, 2011

First of all, those closest to me will probably faint at the above photo. For those that don’t know me intimately, I don’t drink beer.  I didn’t start to enjoy coffee until I was in my mid 20s, so there is hope for me yet.  Over the years I keep trying but it isn’t my cup of tea.  I have been known to drink beer, once taking a swig from my Dad’s draught in Japan when I was hot and thirsty and other times I am not going to mention here, let’s just say I hope those that witnessed the events were too drunk to remember.

So why am I holding a cold glass of Coopers Pale Ale?  Oh and by the way I did more than hold, I had a few sips as well.  I was drawn by the pie that accompanied this pale amber liquid.

During Crave Sydney International Food Festival, Coopers Brewery is holding the Coopers Pie n’ Pale Challenge.  Various establishments around Sydney are putting their best gourmet pie forward via a $20 pie n’ pale special.  Could you get any more Australian than a pie and beer for lunch or dinner?

Beside chowing down on a great meal deal during the month of October you can also be part of the action by voting on your favourite pie for the People’s Choice Award via an iPhone Ap.

When I think of pubs, I instantly think of pub crawl.  They were popular when I was young and stupid many many moons ago.  Now I am older and more mature, I thought what about a pie crawl?  Who better to join me trying various pies around town than the one and only  Josh Vs Food, the resident stomach at Belly Rumbles.  Bonus Josh also drinks beer so was able to enjoy some of Coopers on offer.

With iPhone Ap downloaded, our first stop on our pie crawl was the Pyrmont Point Hotel.  As soon as I saw they had a Nepalese Billygoat pie as their offering, I knew I wanted to try it.

The pie is what I class as a pot pie and served with saffron rice and tomato relish.  At first both Josh and I were wondering why there was rice on the side, but once we broke away part of the pastry topping it became apparent.  The filling was very liquid, even more so than what I expect a curry to be, a spoon would be needed to eat the soup like mixture.  Once the rice was added you were able to scoop it up with your fork and pieces of the crisp fennel studded pastry shell.  The filling was spicy with whole cloves and cardamom and had a mild heat to it.

The Grand Hotel

Next stop was The Grand Hotel, part of the Merrivale Group.  It is a quaint little pub with lots of rich warm wood, I imagine it would be very popular with city workers for lunch.

The idea of our pie crawl was to share a pie at each establishment, otherwise it would of been just way too much food.  The chef at The Grand was extremely generous and two pies turned up for Josh and I to try.  The pie offering at The Grand is a massive one, definitely a fantastic deal with a beer included.

A beef pie topped with sautéed peas, chunks of bacon and shallots sitting on top a generous serving of mashed potatoes, with mustard and gherkins on the side.  This is what I call a man’s meal.  The beef filling was extremely tender but slightly sweet with carrots.  The pastry was excellent with a lovely  flaky lid,  very enjoyable.

Talking to staff we find out that the pie has been extremely popular with their lunch time crowd, I can see why, such a generous offering.  Sadly Josh and I hardly do it justice by not eating it all, we had one more pie to try.

Arthouse Hotel Sydney

Waddling away from The Grand we head to our third and last destination on our pie crawl, the Arthouse Hotel Sydney.  I am no stranger to the Arthouse, have dropped in for a drink many times, but I have never actually eaten there.  The pie n’ pale deal is available in the main bar area but Josh and I find ourselves in The Dome restaurant upstairs for our pie tasting.   

It felt a little strange sitting in The Dome’s fine dining establishment to have a pie, but here we were with the white linen and silverware.  Actually I will be heading back to The Dome to try out their regular menu, quite taken by the ambience of the establishment and their extremely helpful happy staff.  Plus I was very impressed with their pie.

The Arthouse offering is a Northern Territory Buffalo pie.  Josh and I were both in agreement, the best pie of the day. The filling of big tender buffalo chunks, carrot, potato and mushroom was delicious.  The pastry is amazing, when talking to the Chef I find out that it is made with crème fraiche, the pastry is so light, flaky and tasty.  The pie is served on large crisp fluffy chips with a light gravy.  The Arthouse got our vote as our favourite pie.

There are 25 establishments involved in the Pie n’ Pale Challenge.  There are a couple of other pies that caught my attention, Paddington Inn’s “rabbit pie with celeriac puree and gooseberry jam” as well as the Welcome Hotel Rozelle’s “the drunken piglet”.

To find out more details have a look at the Coopers site and download the iPhone Ap.  The Ap has all the information about the pubs are offering and where you can find them, it also allows you to vote for your favourite.  One word of warning, some of the pies have been matched to the wrong hotel in the Ap and advertising.  If you are going to an establishment for a particular pie I suggest you ring ahead to confirm their offering.  The Grand Hotel is listed as having a chicken pie which is not the case.  I also found the Ap to be a little buggy but made voting easy.

Your vote will go towards the overall judging which will include votes by Colin Fassnidge (Head Chef, Four in Hand), Mikey Robbins (comedian), Joanna Savill (Editor, Sydney Food Guide) and Glenn Cooper (Cooper’s Executive Chairman). Beside voting to have your favourite pie come out in front you will go in to the draw to win a luxurious harbour cruise for yourself and three friends.

So do tell my dear Belly Rumbles reader, what would be your ultimate pie filling?

STOP THE PRESS:  Happy to announce that the eventual winner of the pie comp was Belly Rumble’s favourite pie, the Northern Territory Buffalo pie from The Arthouse.  Congratulations guys!!!

Sara xxx

Sara & Josh went on their pie crawl with many thanks to Katie from Frank PR, Pyrmont Point Hotel, The Grand Hotel and Arthouse Hotel Sydney.

Dome at the Arthouse Hotel on Urbanspoon

30 Knots at The Grand Hotel on Urbanspoon

Pyrmont Point Hotel on Urbanspoon

Passionfruit Curd Tart Brûlée

07 Oct
October 7, 2011

Seems like forever since I have shared a recipe with you guys.  I seem to have been eating out more than in of late, and with Crave upon us this will be another month of eating out around old Sydney town.

I do love a simple recipe, I think most of us do with our busy lives, and I specially love an easy recipe that is a little indulgent.  Passionfruit seems to be cheap and in abundance at the moment, and I have been buying trays of the stuff.

I made this tart for the boys a few weeks ago, and they devoured it.  There were even fights over the last piece.  Actually the fighting was from me, as when I went to the fridge I discovered it all basically gone.  I shouldn’t complain, I like to see my food eaten and enjoyed, but sometimes I too like to enjoy the fruits of my labour.  Will tell you guys one day about my home made cookie ninja tactics in order that I actually get to enjoy them before they are all scoffed. Read more →

Malaysia Kitchen’s BBQ Madness

06 Oct
October 6, 2011

 The Crave Sydney International Food Festival started off with a bang last Saturday, there was BBQ Madness happening all over Sydney.  All sorts of themed BBQs Greek, Turkish, Argentinean even sausage sensations.  I was still salivating for Malaysian delights after Josh and my master class with Wanitha the previous weekend, so there was only one place I was heading, Malaysia Kitchen’s BBQ Madness at Parramatta.

It was rather quiet when we first turned up at 9am to witness the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon and opening of the event.  An area had been set up outside Parramatta Town Hall which was lushly decorated with green hedges, cumquat trees and fake grass.  A mass of wooden tables set up with more greenery and long wooden benches.   This was the calm before the storm, in a few hours it would be long lines and standing room only.

In conjunction with the BBQ, Malaysia Kitchen had organised a day of cooking demonstrations in a small amphitheatre just across from the town hall.  What a perfect way to whet your appetite for lunch? 

Wanith with Lord Mayor Lorraine Warner

Sotong Bakar (BBQ calamari) sample

First up was Wanitha.  It was really lovely catching up with the love goddess again and I was asked if I would like to give her hand cooking on stage when she started.  Of course I would (gulp!)  I ended up prepping and Lorraine Warner, Lord Mayor of Parramatta, became the BBQ calamari Queen.  Wanitha showed the crowd how to make, Sotong Bakar (BBQ calamari) with Ayam and Panggang (grilled chicken).

Tofu Salad (rojak) sample

Otak Otak (spicy fish mouse) sample

Next to take the stage was the full of life, bubby and animated Florence Tan.  Florence is a celebrity chef from Kuala Lumpur and was flown out specially for the occasion.  You couldn’t help but have a big grin on your face watching her prepare Otak Otak (Spicy Fish Mouse) and Grilled Tofu Salad (Rojak), her arms flaying arms and facial expressions larger than life was like watching the energizer bunny.

The demonstrations and the amazing smells which filled Church St Mall had left us feeling quite hungry.  With some fellow bloggers Josh and I made our way back over to where the food was happening.  Lunch time crowds had hit and it was packed.  With table and seating eventually secured we took it in turns to go grab food and mind our precious spots.  Lines were a little lengthy for some dishes and very lengthy for others, but the wait was worth it.Lobak (Malaysian pork spring roll) from Penang Cuisine

Roti Canai with Curry Chicken from Penang Cuisine

Chicken Satay from Albee’s Kitchen Malaysian Delights

Chicken Laksa from Oriental Tucker Box

Beef Rendang from Kampong Boy

Char Kway Teow from Jackie M

Otak Otak from Temasek

After chowing down it was back to the amphitheatre for more cooking demonstrations.  Adam Liaw, winner of MasterChef 2010, prepared Char Kway Teow (fried noodles).  Adam prepared these on the BBQ, this was a first time experience for Adam, I think the rest of the audience as well, but it worked.  Adam then demonstrated and shared tricks of preparing the perfect Satay Chicken.

Last celebrity chef of the day was Alvin Quah.  Oh Alvin just makes me smile, he is so adorable.  Ikan Bakar (grilled BBQ fish in banana leaf) and Tamarind Fried Prawns were Alvin’s dishes of choice to share with the audience.

It was also nice to catch up with Billy Law, fellow food blogger and MasterChef contestant 2011, who came down to say hi to everyone.  What I didn’t even think about is that he is actually a known identity now, and every five seconds it seemed a fan was asking to have their picture taken with him or something signed.  Billy being Billy was more than happy to pose for happy snaps.  Being the silly bloggers that we are we decided to get in the act, which seemed to crate even more Billy mania.  Karen from Citrus & Candy even had one of her fans spot her and approach her for a photo, much to Karen’s amusement.  It was all giggly fun to end the day.

If you missed out on Malaysia Kitchen’s BBQ Madness last weekend, don’t panic there is more Malaysian food fun happening again this weekend.

Malaysia Festival:  Sunday 9th October, Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour.

Malaysia Kitchen will have an array of Malaysian dishes on offer from more than 15 Sydney restaurants, indulge yourself in authentic Malaysian food and live entertainment.  Meet MasterChef contestants and Malaysia Kitchen ambassadors, Alvin Quah and Billy Law.  Also a chance to win a  return airfare to Kuala Lumpur amongst many other great prizes.

Sara xxx

Sara & Josh were guests and invited to BBQ Madness by 360 Digital Influence Sydney and Malaysia Kitchen with much thanks.