Once Bitton, twice…again?

4 Apr

Slow Sundays, crisp Autumn mornings mean leisurely brunches.

The Handbag and I ventured to Alexandria for a taste at Bitton after hearing rave reviews from friends. Clearly the rest of the neighbourhood are in the know as the place was buzzing in a leisurely Sunday way.

Started off with a smooth and silky cappuccino.

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The Handbag ordered the daily special – Salmon with Salad with Mango pieces. The skin was so crispy and beautifully done – the Handbag was craving this for the rest of the day.

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I went with the more decadent weekend option as I had woken up after the Handbag and did not have the chance to eat breakfast. I opted for the thick French toast, drizzled with orange jam, banana and strawberry pieces. I gobbled up every morsel though – beautifully balanced together – perfect for a day of lazing about and lapping up the remaining rays of Summer like weather.

Au revoir summer, see you next year.

And hello to wintery days of soups, warm crusty breads and rich, decadent meals with DVDs, books and sleep.

Bitton Gourmet Cafe: 36-37a Copeland St, Alexandria NSW 2015

Lowenbrau, the Rocks & Baroque Bistro: reliving Europe

27 Mar

Starting the night with an invitation to the Argyle, a deliberate detour home to dispose car and one (banker) birthday boy was always going to be a good night. Q was the one boy in my Europe trip of 2009 who suffered quite a bit in his decision to travel with 5 other girls. However, I think he did enjoy himself, because he did invite us all to his latest birthday drinks. I trekked out after a long week at work and imminent storm in a show of camaraderie and friendship.

 

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Overpriced peach bellini anyone? (perhaps I had a few. Cufflinks of the corporate boy across from the table not included)

After a “couple” of “quiet” drinks, we ventured off for some food/solids to satiate hunger/subdue the effects of drinking.

Naturally, we went to the Lowenbrau.

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Reliving Europe or just needing meat? You decide.

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I split the Schattplatt with the Handbag for pure indecisiveness and sizing reasons, complete with pork crackling, meats and potato. It did bring me back to my time at the Hofbrauhaus in Munich, complete with giant pork knuckle and giant beer. (Exhibit A below)

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We also split a few rounds of drinking beer songs and revelry with the resident German band to relive some moments of our holiday and to demonstrate our knowledge of important cultural lessons of German culture 101. Whoever said travelling around Europe on a coach tour was a culturally barren experience? In any case, we learnt something about the importance of yelling out “Prost” – deceiving the waitresses there into thinking we knew German.

This is not including the other lessons we learnt in our “Busload full of Aussies” holiday. Lesson 1: Do not imitate Hitler. Lesson 2: Do not pinch the butt of your waitress. Lesson 3: Stay away from anyone who violates Lesson 1 and 2. Guilt by association is definitely a concept which has a somewhat onerous burden of proof, particularly in the beerhalls of Munich.

I digress.

Afterwards, we ventured across the street and metaphoric geographic border to Baroque Bistro for dessert. Unlike the raucous revelry of the Lowenbrau, we smartened up and had a very subdued and well behaved birthday celebration with our desserts and one tres chic waitress, who arranged a candle on top of Q’s macaron.

The verdict on the dessert? I had the chocolate tart with peanut butter and banana ice cream which was sublime without being overly wankily deconstructed.

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The flavours of the banana ice cream (and yes, the ice cream tasted like banana) went well with the side of pop rocks (of peanut butter?) and the richness of the chocolate tart. The chocolate tart was rich without being overpowering – and nicely sized.

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A & the Handbag both had the peach souffle which really tasted like peach and had the fluffy cloudlike texture of a cloud. The Handbag sneakily demolished most of it, though he nicely remembered to offer me some when it was reaching the end of the dish. The coffee macaron and almond biscuits also packed a punch.

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Unfortunately the dessert of the day which was fiercely sold by Awesome Waitress did not live up to expectation (along with my photo taking skills – thanks mini camera and bad lighting). Though it was nicely presented in a mini imitation La Creusset, the presentation must have overcooked the chocolate fondant. It was nicely flavoured but did not have the gooey inside. Perhaps it was the hype and the excellent marketing skills of the waitress? But look at the  presentation – surely that can enhance the flavour…no…?

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Q unfortunately wasn’t feeling too good by this stage (it could have been the couple of drinks, the company, the 1L stein of beer – who knows). Naturally the girls snuck bites of his creme brulee when he was away from the table.

Friendship (and vacationing nostalgia) has never tasted better.

Eating at work: or why I started eating sandwiches again.

8 Mar

I’ve been feeling rather uninspired recently about finding new places to eat and explore. I’m not sure whether it is the ‘being back in Sydney’ factor or whether I’m trying to focus on other things – such as eating somewhat healthily and maintaining a balanced diet. As boring as such goals are, Year 1 of full time work taught me that even though I used to be gifted with a fast metabolism when I was 16 years old, my metabolism is slowing down (curse you!) and that digesting random food stuffs is definitely not as easy as it used to be.

Lesson 1: regular banana bread and chocolate snacking does leave its impression on your waistline!

Lesson 2: I don’t even really like commercial banana bread and random Cadbury/Nestle milk chocolate that much anyway.

Lesson 3: I don’t really want to pay $8 for an oversized sandwich (which really isn’t that great).

Lesson 4: The Sandwich Press is your friend.

Lesson 5: Bring baking paper for the communal sandwich press.

When I was at school (i.e. when metabolism was topping the class), I hated eating sandwiches, even though I would like the individual elements of the sandwich. The only sandwich I would tolerate would be a peanut butter one.

Reason? Soggy sandwiches, living in your lunch box for 5 hours – not an appetising prospect. I was a slightly picky child.

Work salads/sandwiches?

A sandwich press, lettuce leaves and toaster work wonders. Also leaves me room in my pocket for my daily coffee muhaha.

 

IMG_0197lad Autumn win: Salad with baby lettuce leaves, walnuts, avocado, figs and corn bits. Carrots on the side for absent minded nibbling.

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Melted Jarlsberg, avocado, egg and white nectarine on side. <3 stone fruit…bah bye.

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More stone fruit <3: plum, nectarine + melted cheese w/turkey and lettuce. Note: put lettuce in AFTER you have melted cheese to avoid soggy wilted lettuce leaves. IMG_0181

Toasted bread, avocado, tuna and cucumber. Avocado makes everything better. IMG_0199

Soy Linseed Toasted Bread, Turkey & Cheese melted sandwich with lettuce. Also figs hiding back there Smile

I Heart HK: Mak’s Noodles

21 Feb

One thing that I dislike about the ‘Official’ Food Guides in Sydney is that it places an unusually great emphasis on service as a key judging criteria. I know that service is an important aspect of the hospitality industry, but this is also fraught with cultural overtones, which has only been highlighted in my Mandarin classes.

On a side note, it is weird hearing about your culture and its underpinning assumptions being explained in an Anglo-Australian context. I fluctuate between boredom and defensiveness about aspects of the Chinese culture which I have just accepted, even if it differs from the cultural norm.

One thing about Chinese dining which I have noticed as not being considered in the usual Sydney food guides or reviews is that often, Chinese restaurants do not expect guests to linger and talk over glasses of wine for hours. Rather – many Chinese restaurants are about fast turnover – where the main purpose of the meal is just to eat, rather than a forum for long, lazy catch ups.

In Hong Kong, the two types of restaurants are available, but both types are appreciated.

Take note: Michelin restaurants can include the quick and cheap eats:

Mak’s Noodles.

I was at the Peak, being a HK tourist on an unusually bright and sunny day. Of course, being a HK tourist involves eating – and the Peak’s Mak’s Noodles gave me a chance to kill two birds with one stone.

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Wonton Noodle Soup (Wontons hidden under the noodle) – $33 HKD. (Divide by 7.5 for the $AUD price – thank you awesome exchange rate!)

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Gai Lan with Oyster Sauce.

Springy noodles, flavoursome wontons, simple chinese veggies with oyster sauce – meal completed in less than half an hour.

Another reason why I heart HK: where cheap and cheerful is award worthy.

I heart HK: The Sweet Dynasty

4 Feb

Happy (Chinese) New Year!

I seem to have made a habit of spending culturally significant holidays away from the local culture.

Exhibit A: Spending Christmas Day wandering the streets of Hong Kong. It fit in with my strategy to spend a short period of time chilling out from work, as my definition of ‘chilling out’ really means spend as much time being active rather than sitting like a slug at your desk. Unfortunately, any such plan would be thwarted by Australia’s approach of “close everything up” over Christmas. Therefore devious plan of genius was a success.

Of course, devious plans require refuelling. Therefore, after taking in the capitalist atmosphere of people in shopping centres at Tsim Tsa Tsui, including hugging a giant Tiffany giftbox, I needed refueling for Round 2.

Let me introduce to you: comforting Hong Kong food, done well. The parentals took me to The Sweet Dynasty at Nathan Road, Tsim Tsa Tsui.

 

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Stir fried noodles

 

 

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Congee

 

 

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Glutinous Rice Dumpling

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Steamed chicken rice with mushroom

 

I grew up eating these types of flavours as a child (despite growing up in rural Australia) but never realised how comforting these foods are, now that I am getting a bit older (not necessarily wiser). However, it is probably these childhood recollections which make these flavours so comforting.

I remember eating the glutinous rice dumplings when I was in primary school before Christmas, knowing that my friends were probably all eating Cornflakes instead of this weird rice thing. However it was a warm, filling and tasty way to start the day.

I’m glad I was given all of these flavours as a child. I can eat these foods anytime and feel comforted for some reason . I feel like I am being looked after. Though one thing has changed – I no longer wish I had a bowl of Cornflakes.

I am glad that despite being surrounded by the Australian culture when I was a child, my parents insisted that I experience my other culture, even if it means that I celebrate significant holidays at different places in the world.

Danks Street Depot, Sydney International Airport

1 Feb

Coffee

 

 

Chicken Sandwich

 

 

Rueben Sandwich

 

 

Danks Street Depot at Sydney International Airport. Yes, you too can have trendy food before eating from a compartmentalised tin tray. I admit it was a delicious way to farewell hearty heavy sandwiches and non-starbucks coffee for 2 weeks. Not so delicious that I would actually go to the airport rather than the actual restaurant in Waterloo, but that’s probably an unfair standard.

I heart HK: or why walking is good for you.

1 Feb

One thing which was definitely not on the Future Career Agenda was how Future Job would affect my natural sedentary state. As a teenager and uni student, I was frequently walking around – whether it was retailing, walking around with friends or even the Great Walk from Lower to Upper Campus for Lunch. However, law is not the best career for keeping the limbs moving around, particularly working in a business park where I drive to work everyday. When I came back from Europe in 2010, I began to realise that I was developing a little of a tummy pooch. Eating like I’m travelling around Europe whilst sitting down and reviewing documents for 9 hours a day is not good for tummy pooch and maintaining my current wardrobe. 

This is where the Gym comes in. I run out of the office at 6.05pm, and drive frantically to my 6.30/6.45 gym class and attempt to get my daily exercise quota in. It has helped. I’m maintaining my current weight of my uni days (though at the ‘heavy end’ of the scales) and my clothes still fit, including my skinny jeans. I know that if I exercise x times a week, then I can eat how I want. 

When I went on holidays to HK at the end of the year, one concern was “How can I eat all of the food I want without having a gym membership?” Then I realised – Hong Kong. Stupid me. It’s not like I need a car. 

I walked and took public transport everywhere in Hong Kong – and I mean pretty much everywhere. The only time I went into the car was in the taxi from the airport. The idea of walking from place to place is very achievable. We would walk from the next suburb – and it would only take like 15 minutes – whilst observing the hum of the busy city streets and the people go about their daily business – at any time of the day. If I wanted a snack at 11.00pm, I could get a bowl of plain congee and return back to our apartment within 10 minutes. 

Exercise – the incidental movements that I never used to think about was so possible with the way Hong Kong operates. Whether it was rushing down the stairs of the subway tunnels or balancing precariously on a Hong Kong tram, I was always constantly on the move. 

I came back from my holiday re-energised. Not because I managed to escape the routine of the work day. Rather, it was because I found the hidden work out again that I always took for granted before. 

And that is how one eats their way around Hong Kong and still manages to fit into their skinny jeans. 

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