Edible Review: Glebe Point Diner

October 23, 2007

It was my one year anniversary in Sydney on 19 October (one year, can you believe it!!!). So to celebrate this happy occassion, Nath took me to Glebe Point diner, in wait for it….Glebe.

Glebe Point DinerWe drove past the bustling restaurant strip and a good couple of km down the road, we found the elegant, open-plan Glebe Point Diner. Good thing we made a booking a few weeks ago as the place was packed – there were even people dining at the bar.

We were seated straight away at marble tables covered with white paper. This was the style of the diner – elegant yet casual, upmarket and trendy yet friendly and unpretentious. A truely great date destination.

The menu was brief – six starters and four mains. It’s not a great place if you’re veggie (and don’t eat fish) as the mains consisted of a chicken dish, two fish options and a beef salad. I guess you could have a selection of vegetarian entrees but how much fun is that???

Salad at GlebePDNath and I shared a fennel and artichoke salad with cheddar, broadbeans and the star of the dish – pomegranate seeds. We also ordered fresh sour dough bread (for $2 a board). Delicious combination.

Lisa_gpdFor mains, I opted for the seared tuna, which was perfectly prepared – pink in the middle. It was served with a pepperonata which was a mixture of grilled peppers – scrumptious and potato scallops which were deep fried to a crisp and just not worth the laden calories.

Nathan_gpdNath munched on the Angus steak strips with watercress, parmesan and lemon dressing. This was outstanding – the meat was tender and the dressing piquant.

Price wise, the dishes were well priced for a good restaurant. Mains were between $14 and $18 and mains were about $30 – generous portions and good value.

The service was efficient and friendly and the food was fast – despite the packed room.

Nath_lisa_gpdWe decided to leave dessert as we were heading for a new chocolate cafe in the area. But we’ll give them a try next time.

I really loved our meal and would recommend this for a special occassion or even just an everyweek treat. 


Lindt Chocolate Appreciation Course

October 11, 2007

Lindt ChocsLast night I lived out one of my fantasies – 90 minutes in Willy Wonka Heaven. Ok, there was not an Oompa Loompa to be seen and the chef was slightly less outlandish than the original Roald Dahl chocolatier. But it was still choccy heaven.

 Three days before my birthday, I received an sms from my cousin Taryn. It went something like this: “should we buy Lisa a voucher for the Lindt appreciation course for her birthday?”. Clearly, in a tangle of thumbs, Taryn mixed up recepients. But at least I got to answer the text with a resounding “yes, please!!”.

So almost 8 months after receiving this special gift, I finally got to go on the course at the Lindt Cafe in Martin place.

 I was joined by Julie – who had also been given a voucher for her b-day by my sister. We were both notorious choccy lovers and united in the quest to consume as much choccy as we could.

The Lindt chef (I can’t remember his name) is the face of Lindt. He’s authentically Swiss with a tang of Aussie thrown into his accent and you can see he loves his chocolate.

liquid chocWe were given a small cup of hot chocolate on arrival. It was rich and smooth and up there as the most delicious hot choc I have tasten. If you order a Hot Choc in the Lindt cafe, you get a cup of molten choc and a cup of milk. It’s up to you to mix it in the right proportions…which I never seem to get right. It was so much better when the experts made it up for me.  I asked the chef for some advice on the perfect combo of liquid choc and milk and he said “Just practise”.

The course started with a look at chocolate through the ages and the launch of Lindt & Sprungli. Did you know that the company is actually Lindt and Sprungli but the marketers decided that foreigners outside Switzerland would struggle with the Sprungli name – so they dropped it. Apparently there are still two Sprungli descendents on the corporate board. I wonder how they feel about their name being banished?

taste plateAs the chef described the history and the making of chocolate, we each got a plate with about 8 different chocolate blocks to sample. We were warned to pace ourselves so we made sure to try and eat only half of each block and put the other half in the takeaway bag.

Out next plate was full of different kind of truffles. The chef then gave a demo of the truffle making and I volunteered to help out…which was pretty fun. I got a cool Lindt apron for my efforts.

Lisa helping chefFinally we went onto to taste cake and the Delice macaroons and topped it off with a sampling of ice-cream.

I was on a serious sugar high after all that! So I had a slither of 99% cocoa chocolate to bring some bitterness back to my tastebuds.

We could then buy Lindt cafe products for a discount and were given a lovely box of choccies and some truffles as a farewell pressie.

It really is a well- recommended course – professional, slick, generous and absolutely scrumptious.

 The only bad thing – you become a true chocolate snob – you’ll never be able to eat anything but Lindt after this.

yum yum

Edible Review: Brown Sugar – Bondi beach

August 30, 2007

Meet my new favourite restaurant – Brown Sugar situated in the world famous Bondi beach (not on the beach but up one of the side streets).

I’ve been there three times now and each time, I’ve enjoyed my meal thoroughly. It’s warm, friendly and cosy and the food is top-notch and has a wonderful home-made style with a dash of modern Australian thrown into the mix.

 The dining area is small – it must hold about 50 people so when it gets full (which it most often does), it can get slightly buzzy. But that just adds to the atmosphere.

menuThe menu is written on the large blackboard on the wall, although it hasn’t seemed to change during my visits – perhaps they adapt the menu seasonally.

I usually start with the lentil and haloumi salad which gives a nice healthy-ish boost to the meal. They not exactly overally generous with the cheese but haloumi is actually quite rich so sharing between two, you get about two strips of this rubbery but delicious cheese each. The lentils are interspersed with small blocks of beetroot and sweet potato.

fish pieBrown Sugar is famous for their fish pie (they use blue eyed cod for the filling). as you can see from the pic, it is large and golden crusted and looks really delicious. Since I’m not a bit fishy fan, I had to rely on my sister and mom for their verdict. My mom felt that the topping was on the saltier side but the creamy filling got a thumbs up from both. The empty dishes were obviously a good sign.

 I have my usual – fresh linguine pasta with roasted pumpkin and rocket. You won’t find this on the blackboard – it’s actually on their lunch menu which I happened to check out on the ‘net before coming to eat. Anyway, it was even better than it sounded and was bursting with taste. Perfect winter comfort food. I usually have this without the chilli oil but if you like a bite, then keep this in for some added spice.

They also have specials every night – like their seafood bouillabasse which a friend of mine had and seemed packed to the brim with a variety of seafood. Yet again, the bowl was licked clean.

Nathan’s tried the lamb (delicious) and the duck (roasted so that the meat just falls off the bone) which was served with caramelised pear and rosti. Others ordered the osso bucco (also reported to be excellent).

Dessert is another highlight – with the farm chocolate soufle a decadent treat – it’s a small choccy dome housing oozing chocolate molten lava – wow! The pannacotta (a special) was deemed delicious and the tipsy tart packed all kinds of fruit was also very good.

My favourite part though is paying the bill – who would have thought that. ‘Cause instead of the peppermint, they bring you a sliver of the most delicious melt-in-your-mouth brownie. I always ask for two pieces – one is never enough. I’ve tried to get the chef to bake me a whole brownie but i haven’t succeded yet. I will keep trying and I will keep on returning to Brown Sugar.

Edible Review: Jimmy Licks

May 7, 2007

The Girls at Jimmy LicksI felt like good Asian – and somewhere different. So I got onto the ‘net, did a couple of searches and came up with Jimmy Licks in Potts Point. I gathered some mates (Jo, Terri, Mich and Marc) and we headed for dinner. Jo chauffeured me in her brand new Hyundai Getz and we finally found a parking along some dark side street.

By the time, Jo and I arrived at Jimmy’s, Terri and Michy were well into their first lychee (pronounced lie-chee rather than than the South Africa lee-chee) martini. It’s a fabulously long chic bar here and I couldn’t resist the watermelon something or other. (I think it was a martini) and it was yummy!

Mich and TerriYou can’t book a table here but our places were ready pretty quickly and we were lead to the rear of the restaurant and joined a long communual table sitting on stools and benches. Apparently, Jimmy’s has an association with the well-known Longrain and while I’ve never visited this restaurant, apparently the menu and décor is pretty similar.

I decided to have the seared tuna dish which was very tasty. I tasted some of Marc’s wagyu beef (which is from Kobe meat that was been massaged for days to make it more tender – weird but true). Very silky and tender.

Yummy Chicken DishThe atmosphere is loud and vibey – not really a date place, we decided, unless you sit in the quieter outdoor tables. All over, a well recommended eating experience.

Spa Review: Sheraton at the Park, Sydney

May 7, 2007

After our hectic South African jaunt, Tamara and I needed a holiday. So we decided to spend a decadent day in a spa. I spent a good couple of hours researching our options. There are a large variety of day spas in Sydney – but not many have a swimming pool and Jacuzzi/sauna facilities attached to them. And I was after one looong relaxing day rather than a simple in-out of a treatment room. The best option, I soon discovered was to opt for a hotel which usually came with a gym and all the other health resort features.

Sheraton on the ParkIt wasn’t a good idea to book so late but I finally got us a reservation at the Sheraton on the Park (the park being Hyde Park). The staff were extremely accommodating here and they actually organised a therapist from another hotel so that Tam and I could have our treatments at the same time.

The hotel lobby is snazzy and the spa is housed high up on the 30-something floor. From reception, we were lead into the changing rooms which were secured via a combination door lock (a little bit cheap actually). The changing rooms were also not exactly dripping with opulence – they did have Molten Brown products (Big brownie points) and nice robes.

I was lead into a treatment room where I had the sea salt scrub – I was first massaged with coarse salt within an oil and then was taken back to the change room to shower. The final stage of the treatment was a luxurious coating of moisturiser. While the treatment was good, it just seemed to lack the cutting edge professionalism that I have encountered in other 5-star establishments.

Tam and I in our spa gownsMy next treatment – a 60-minute massage – took place in one of the most magnificent rooms. It had large bay windows which provided an uninterrupted view of Sydney harbour and the CBD – just looking out into the vista, I could feel my stresses melting away. The massage was outstanding – definitely one of the better ones I have had. I didn’t want it to end.

Pool at the SheratonAfter another quick shower, Tam and I relaxed by the large indoor pool (also great views) and I took a dip into the Jacuzzi (which was fantastic until my solitude was interrupted by a bouldering elderly man – I promptly got out).
We ordered sandwiches for lunch and this was served pool-side with plastic plates and cups (pretty practically, I guess). The serving was humungous and Tam and I could easily have shared the sarmi’s.

The whole day set us back just under $200 for both treatments and we came out floating and very chilled. I can’t wait for our next pampering visit.

The 75th Birthday Harbour Bridge Walk

March 23, 2007

Last Sunday, the Sydney Harbour Bridge – aka, the coat hangar – turned 75 years old. And we were there to celebrate this Australian icon.

While usually thousands of cars cross the Harbour Bridge on a daily basis to get from the city to the North Shore, on this day the bridge was closed to all forms of vehicles. Only pedestrians were allowed to walk along the bridge.

We were urged to register for the walk and this I did a month back. Though I had no idea how they would adminster the 500 000-odd people who wanted to walk the bridge. We were sure it would be absolutely chaotic.

On Sunday morning, Tam, Rich and I trained to North Sydney Station and met Mich, Greg, Terri, Mark, Emil and Jo at the station. There were wardens wearing lumo vests wherever you looked to ensure that the crowds of people followed the correct route to the bridge.

There was no real registration so we collected out free luminous lime green caps and joined the throngs on the historic walk.

Harbour Bridge WalkSydney definitely knows how to deal with big events – the crowd control was superb and I didn’t ever once feel claustrophobic or the need to bring out my elbows to get people out of the way. I guess the Sydneysiders are also naturally law-abiding and were quite happy to participate in a laid-back fashion.

The atmosphere was magic with music and voices of famous people broadcast out towards the harbour. When the distinctive voice of Nelson Mandela came over the loud speaker, our Saffa group gave a loyal shriek and Mich did a wonderful rendition of ulalating.

Looking forward, it was trully spectacular to watch this carpet of green (from the caps) rolling towards the city.

Steel DrummerAfter the toll booths, the path split into two – with the left leading to the Rocks and the right leading to Darling Harbour. T and R headed towards the latter while the rest of us took to the Rocks. We had lunch at the Cruise Bar (chicken burgers) and then just enjoyed the entertainment at circular quay. My favourite performer is the Rasta steel drummer which always transports me to the Caribbean.

It was really special to be able to share this birthday with the bridge.

The Aussie Ice Bar

December 2, 2006

Remember to click on the pics to see big versions of them

Since reading about the Ice Hotel in Sweden (yes the whole hotel, even the beds, are made of the cold stuff), I have always been fascinated about ice sculptures that you can live/drink/sleep in. Unfortunately, when I did have the opportunity to visit Norway it was summer and not very condusive to frozen sleeping spots.

So I did the next best thing – I went with a couple of mates (Kate, Sandra – her neighbour from Austria – and Darren, another Contiki mate who has just moved here from Perth) to the Minus 5 Bar in Circular Quay in Sydney.

We stepped into the venue and went upstairs to prepare for our “cool” experience. We paid $30 and in return got an arctic jacket with full-on fur hood, two pairs of gloves and thermal boots. They also have us a timer which would beep once we were in the ice-bar for 30 mins (the maximum amount of time you can be in here – they’re obviously scared of any hypothermia lawsuits waiting to happen).

Dressed for the Arctic
Dressed for minus 20 degrees, we waited in the corridor sweating away until we were called into the orientation chamber, where we watched a short safety video (if you break a sculpture, you buy it – just like any other shop).

Then we entered the Minus 5 Bar. It was pretty cold and white. There were scupltures throughout the room – the Sydney opera house, a naked man and koalas. The bar was all ice, the bar stools were all ice, the chandeliers were all ice. Apparently they fly a master-scuplturer from New Zealand every 6 weeks to carve out new sculptures.

We collected our included vodka cocktail in a (you guessed it) ice glass. Note: make sure you hold your “glass” in 2 hands or it could slip.
We then lounged on the reindeer (well, at least I reckon it was reindeer) hide covering the bar stools and sipped on our yummy cocktails. It was quite bizarre looking out the window at the sunny weather outside, where pretty people in tiny vests sipped at their drinks, while we were dressed for Alaska.

The temperature
Sandra was pretty hard core and took off her gloves (she’s from Austria, she’s used to frost-bite). I, on the other hand, stopped feeling my fingers after 30 minutes. So we obeyed our beeping times and left the freezer.

We threw off our winter attire, got circulation back into our limbs and went out into the warmth. What a ‘cool’ place!