Tag Archive for: Italian

Baked Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

04 Mar
March 4, 2014

I do love zucchini flowers.  Not only are they a large beautiful flower, but also edible.   My favourite way to eat these golden beauties is stuffed.  They can be filled with all sorts of ingredients, but the most common, and probably most loved, is cheese.

Once they have been stuffed you can either deep fry or bake them.  Deep frying always wins my vote.  The stuffed zucchini flowers dipped in a light batter and fried until golden.  You crunch through the crisp petals to be greeted with an explosion of warm cheese filling.

baked stuffed zucchini flowers Read more →


Peacock Trattoria, Kyle Bay

07 Oct
October 7, 2013

I really do try to fit in regular date nights.  It is something most couples try to do.  In this case, these date nights are actually between a couple of good friends, without their partners.  A night of irrelevant but tasty gossip, laughs and generally just enjoying good company, a glass or two of wine, and fingers crossed good food too.

Amanda and I try to get together for a ‘date night’ when we can.  With the decision being made to explore restaurants closer to home, away from the city.  Hidden gems around the ‘burbs’ of the St George area, Sutherland Shire and the likes.

Peacock Trattoria is situated in what feels like the middle of nowhere.  You seem to drive forever down Kyle Parade, past residential houses and then more residential houses.  At one point I had to reassure myself that I was indeed on Kyle Parade by referring to the GPS.  Then out of nowhere pops up a short row of local shops, including Peacock Trattoria.

An important fact to note if you are going to eat at Peacock Trattoria, CASH ONLY.  Make sure to get money out before you turn up, there are no ATMs close by.  The closest one is back up on King Georges Road.  I also suggest you make a booking.  For a restaurant in the middle of nowhere they get quite busy.  I can imagine on the weekends they are packed.

Peacock Trattoria Kyle BayThe restaurant is cosy with a unique fit-out.  I feel like I am in an old west saloon (due to all the wood), which has been outfitted with quirky furniture from the 50s, and the walls graced with some great art that just pops. Read more →

Pan Fried Potato Gnocchi with Pine Nuts, Prosciutto & Sage

14 Sep
September 14, 2013

Todd, who is The Daring Kitchen’s AWESOME webmaster and an amazing cook, is our September Daring Cooks’ host! Todd challenged us to make light and fluffy potato Gnocchi and encouraged us to flavor the lil pillows of goodness and go wild with a sauce to top them with!

I’m prone to blond moments.  I mean seriously epic ones at times.  Being a blond, I can call them blond moments without offending  countless blonds around the Nation.

When I messaged Ms Lily about my gnocchi blond moment, venting my anger, sharing my idiocy and hoping for some sympathy.  The sympathetic reply was “I snorted out loud when I read that”.   Hmm, yah, gee, thanks GF (said with duck face pout and diva style finger waggle).

So what had I done?  More like what hadn’t I done.

I had received a lovely delivery of fresh seasonal asparagus from the Australian Asparagus Growers, and I wanted to make a dish to do those lovely spears justice.  Instantly I thought what a great idea to combine the asparagus with my Daring Cooks’ September challenge.  Gnocchi was the challenge, so why not add asparagus?  Plus, honestly, if you can kill two birds……… Read more →

Casa Barilla Cooking Class with Eugenio Maiale & Class Giveaway

28 May
May 28, 2013

You may have taken part in a Barilla cooking class when visiting  a food show around town.  Like their cooking classes at the Good Food and Wine Show.  What I didn’t realise until recently is that Barilla actually run cooking classes throughout the year at the Casa Barilla Cooking School, located in Annandale.

They are Italian cooking classes, of course, and are run by Executive Chef Luca Ciano.  They are fun intimate classes, the format can vary depending on what is being covered.  They can be hands on or pure demonstration.  And we have a class for two to giveaway!

It was a demonstration class that I attended.  Casa Barilla are running a series of classes with prominent Sydney chefs.  In my case it was a Master Class with Eugenio Maiale, head chef and owner of A Tavola in Darlinghurst.

On arrival we are offered a glass of prosecco and there is a generous antipasto plate for all to enjoy.  I am more than content to munch on prosciutto, olives and cheese while waiting for the other class attendees to arrive. Read more →

Orecchiette, Vongole & Saffron Cream Sauce

01 Mar
March 1, 2013

If you have been watching MasterChef Professionals, you may have seen the Italian challenge earlier this week.  There was a restaurant challenge and the challengers had to ensure one of their dishes included Barilla pasta.

The lovely people at Barilla decided to challenge me as well.  I received the recipes under embargo before the episode aired, and was challenged to choose one to cook, but add my own twist.

I couldn’t help myself and ended up playing around with both recipes, Orecchiette Vongole and Casarecce with Rabbit, Cavolo Nero, Almonds and olives.  I hate to blow my own horn, but I love my twists on both recipes.  My version of the rabbit rocked, and I will share it with you guys shortly, but today I share the Orecchiette recipe. Read more →

Puntino Trattoria, Woolloomooloo

23 Oct
October 23, 2012

The smell of burning wood fills the nostrils when you enter Puntino.  Don’t panic, the place isn’t about to burn down, it is their wood-fire oven roaring away full speed.

A lovely light and airy feeling restaurant, due to the wooden floors, white walls and wooden tables.  The large glass windows opening up onto a court yard, at the back of the restaurant, also aid that feeling.  There is a slant of quirkiness too with the home-made jam jar lights hanging from the ceiling.

The lighting may be quirky, but there is nothing quirky about the food.  Chef Antonio Sabia has been serving traditional Italian food to Sydneysiders for 12 years.  Is an advocate of rustic, home-made food from his home town of Basilicata in Italy.  Tony makes good use of the oven, not only is it used for their pizzas, but also other various dishes on the menu. Read more →

Caffe Sicilia

12 Mar
March 12, 2012

Agrigento’s  Festa del Fiore del Mandrorlo, the celebration of the first almond blossoms of the season in Sicily.  To mark this celebration for the month of March Caffe Sicilia if offering a three course menu for $55 which highlights almonds.

Caffe Sicilia has a lovely old world charm about it.  Not just the art deco feel of the decor but also the genuine greeting and service from staff.  Josh and I find ourselves seated at a white linen covered table for two on the outside ‘balcony’ style seating area.  Narrow and long, running  the entire front of the restaurant facing Crown Street.  In between enjoying one of my favourite pass times, people watching, I look up and can’t help admiring the ornate ceiling above. Read more →

Jamie’s Italian Sydney

05 Mar
March 5, 2012

Having read a plethora of reviews by bloggers and mainstream food critics, I had definite expectations about Jamie’s Italian.  If you aren’t aware Jamie’s Italian is Jamie Oliver’s Sydney restaurant.  The mission is to provide Sydneysiders fantastic rustic dishes using Italian recipes that have been tried, tested and loved.

You can’t make a booking for Jamie’s Italian unless you are a group of six, even then you need to do this well in advance (found that out earlier this year when planning a birthday get together).  I am not fond of the not being able to book situation, at all.  So I decided that a visit for a late Saturday lunch may be the best time to go. 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

Signorelli Gastronomia – A Birthday Celebration

09 Jan
January 9, 2011

The first time I had heard of this establishment was when I was reading a post on Helen’s blog, Grab Your Fork.  The first thing I saw was a picture of a crispy roasted suckling pig then I read something along the lines of how Helen threw herself at the nearby table to take a photo of this holy grail of piggiedom.  I am sure there was something about knocking people out of the way, flying over to the diners nearby and forcing her presence on them to take pictures of this deliciousness.  Okay well maybe it didn’t happen quite like that, but have a read of her post for confirmation.

Not too long after Helen’s post I received an invite to join her at her birthday at Signorelli Gastronomia to indulge ourselves in a piggie feast.  Why hell yes, notmissingoutoncatchingupwith agroupof awesomepeople, break bread and share what looked to be an incredible piggie delight.

Signorelli Gastronomia is not an easy place to find.  It is located on the ground floor of the Accenture Building in Pyrmont.  There is no signage outside and I was feeling very lost until I spotted somebody I knew looking just as confused as I was. Read more →