Australia, Guides, NSW, Reviews, Travel

48 Hours In The Hunter

Looking for a short getaway? Nothing screams weekend getaway more than a 48-hour trip to the Hunter Valley. Food, wine, nature – what more could you want for a blissful getaway from the daily grind.

We departed on a Saturday morning, greeted with friendly weekend traffic at 11am and arrived at Amanda’s On The Edge by 2.30pm for the most divine lunch set in quaint estate territory, that is quintessentially ‘the Hunter’.

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Overlooking the serene calmness and echoing sounds of birds chirping over expansive lush vineyards, our first course arrives. Seared scallops with a green pea puree, truffle oil & crispy prosciutto ($23.50).

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Seared scallops with a green pea puree, truffle oil & crispy prosciutto ($23.50)

As we entertain the perfectly cooked scallops the Pan seared in garlic & parsley butter with crusty ciabatta bread ($22.50) arrives in the most vibrant blood orange bisque. One of life’s greatest indulgences is a big bowl of soup or sauce with crispy bread to mop it all up.

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Pan seared in garlic & parsley butter with crusty ciabatta bread ($22.50)

We order a main to share. Three times cooked duck maryland in sauté leek & shallot with plum compote & golden kipfler potatoes ($39.50) arrives at the table as wafts of caramelised plum permeates the clean country air. Crispy dusk skin, succulent tender meat falls away from the bone with golden strands of crispy leek & shallot for added texture.

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Three times cooked duck maryland in sauté leek & shallot with plum compote & golden kipfler potatoes ($39.50)

To finish, we opt for the passionfruit and mango sorbet that is utterly refreshing in 40-degree heat and the perfect way to end what is always a fabulous meal at Amanda’s On The Edge.

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In the next post we take you to Spicer’s Retreat, which is one of the finest accomodation you can stay at in the Hunter. With a one hatted chef heading the restaurant and an infinity pool to boot, you’ll want to book this stay at your next trip to the Hunter.

Stay tuned…

 

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Australia, Reviews, Tasmania

Hobart: Franks

I’ve just come back from an epic tour around Tasmania, tasting the fresh produce down there just made me appreciate that we live in such a beautiful country. Hobart is definitely a foodie’s destination, particularly for seafood that’s cheap and available. But after nights of oysters and Tasmanian salmon, we were in the mood for something a little different and the wonderful lady at the Avis counter recommended we go to Franks. This is easily confused with the other award winning restaurant in Hobart, Franklin, which we didn’t manage to get around to but we weren’t disappointed with our choice.

Franks is a south American inspired restaurants, that serve small tapas dishes designed to be shared. As you walk in your greeted with a huge wall painting and unique art sculptures that immediately make you feel like you’ve just walked into some underground hipster restaurant. It is extremely dark in the room with orange hues across the restaurant.

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We couldn’t go past the oysters, I mean c’mon, we only had 5 days in Hobart and had to make the most of our oyster eating days. We decided to go with something a littler different, since we had been eating fresh oysters most of the time and ordered the Fire-roasted Oysters with chorizo, peppers & garlic.

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You could smell the chorizo as the dish lands to the table, however we would have probably preferred something less heavy as the flavours of the oyster did get lost amongst the strong chorizo flavours.

The Empanadas were quite expensive, costing $5.50 each. And since there were only two options: Beef & Egg, and Tres Queso, this made our decision easy.

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The pastry was light and flaky with a crisp exterior. I personally preferred the Tres Queso, as I found the Beef & Egg slightly dry. It also would have been nice if the empanadas came with a dipping sauce.

For the smaller dishes we order the Frank cold-smoked salmon with yellow chilli aiolo, sweet potato chips which was absolutely delicious. You can never go wrong with Tasmanian salmon in Tasmania.

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The main was definitely the highlight of the meal. We ordered the Spice rubbed pork rib, inca Kola glaze & fried pickles, which was so moreish. The pork ribs were tender with a sweet sticky smoky glaze and the fried onions on the side were the perfect accompaniment.

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Crisp Potatoes

If you take a look at the dessert menu, it might be a bit difficult to decipher what each one really is. In the end with some research on Instagram, we took a punt and went with the Nemesis cake, whisky ice cream, brazil nut, smoked paprika praline. It turned out to be a chocolate brownie. The whisky ice cream was definitely not devoid of whisky and the alcohol was extremely prominent.

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Overall, it was an enjoyable night and a wonderful relaxed atmosphere with good service. But was it the best Mexican/ South American food I’ve had? Not by far. But I guess it’s because we’re spoilt for choice here in Sydney. If you’re feeling like a change of cuisine in Hobart, then Franks is worth checking out for a chilled night by the waterfront with good food.

Frank Restaurant and Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Burwood/ Ashfield, Lidcombe, Lunch, Ryde/Rhodes

Cedrus Lebanese Restaurant

What do you think of when you think of Lebanese food? Maybe the late night kebabs, or the falafel you grab from the shop around the corner – but nope there’s a whole lot more than that to Lebanese food that I didn’t know about until my friend introduced me to Cedrus. This family owned business is around the corner of the road when you first drive into Meadowbank facing the water.

It’s well priced, big portions and authentic food.

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Cedrus is all about the experience of dining and tradition, which is how the menu is designed. You start with your salads and dips, followed by hot or cold ‘mezza’ and your mains. Cedrus Menu

We start of with the beautiful Fatoush Salad ($14) and a generous plate of hommus.

When the food comes to the table we are WOWed by the presentation, everything looked so fresh, I cannot emphasise this enough!

The hommus is beautifully smooth and rich in flavour.

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Beautiful creamy texture – Just look at those chickpeas!

The Fatoush Salad is a medley of seasonal fresh vegetables, engulfed in our special dressing and topped with crispy pita bread. This by far has to be one of the best salads I’ve had in a while. I don’t know what they put into the dressing, but it packs the perfect punch of zesty and vinegary flavour. And those crispy pita breads… I could devour a plate of those alone!

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Just look how crispy and full of flavour they are! This salad I highly recommend.

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Crispy Pita Bread

They also have Lebanese beer, which judging from my boyfriend’s reaction is one worth trying if you’re interested in something different.

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After the cold starters, we move onto the hot mezza where we ordered the Grilled Haloumi ($18). The Haloumi stack is served with tomatoes on a bed of lettuce and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It is beautifully presented when it comes to the table and again looks extremely fresh and inviting.

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Grilled Haloumi Stack

I’ve always had a love for haloumi and they do it perfectly grilled here. The freshness of the tomatoes and lettuce does well to cut through the richness.

After you’ve had your mezza you can order your mains from a range of meat and seafood.

We order the Lamb Mansaf ($24), which looks like a dish fit for a feast as it lands on the table. It is Lebanese style rice topped with minced lamb, toasted mixed nuts, herbs and spices, served with mint yoghurt sauce. This is a dish I’ve never had before but loved instantly.

The lamb is amazingly tender and the flavour of the lamb runs through the rice, which makes the whole dish extremely fragrant. The mixed nuts add the perfect element of texture with the yoghurt again cutting through the richness. Another dish that I would definitely order again, especially for the portion size and price. It also comes with some Lebanese pickles.

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It’s a shame we were only two people, otherwise we would have tried more on the menu. We will definitely be grabbing a big group of friends with us next time, as Lebanese food is meant to be shared!

Would highly recommend Cedrus to anyone who lives around the area looking to feed a group, it’s greatly priced, generous portions, amazing food and friendly service.

http://cedrusryde.com.au/

Cedrus Lebanese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Reviews, takeaway

Delivery Hero: Maranello’s

TakeHi folks, long time no speak again. As an impulsive blogger, I’ve decided to start a new section on my blog today dedicated to my Delivery Hero nights. Often me and my boyfriend are too lazy to cook or go out, Delivery Hero is our go to option, and no – this post isn’t sponsored by Delivery Hero, but I wish it was! Anyway, most of the restaurants on Delivery Hero are listed on Zomato anyway, but I thought it would be a useful section for those like us who are obsessed with getting their food delivered at discounted rates.

The other night we ordered from Maranello’s in Summer Hill for the first time, and it was one of the best Italian takeaway we’ve had in a long while. We ordered my favourite Margherita (I mean you can never go wrong with this and it’s always a great way to test out if the rest of their menu is going to be good or not), and the Parma – Proschuitto, basil and cheese.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the idea to start this section of the blog last Sunday night so here’s the only decent photo I have of the pizza.

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Either way, I highly recommend this place, especially their deal 2 pizzas and 1 pasta for only $23 I believe. I am a huge fan of the Italian style thin crust pizza, but don’t be fooled by the puffy crusts, these pizzas are very traditionally with their thin crust base. The dough is soft and stretchy, as it should be – light and airy – making you want to go in for more without that nasty feeling you can get from greasy $5 Domino’s pizza.

We also order the Spaghetti Genovese, which is something I have neither heard of or tried before – but my God it was delicious. It was a mix of basil pesto and pink sauce with King prawns, and was honestly one of the best pastas I’ve had – for takeaway at least.

I can definitely see this being our regular Italian takeaway.

Rating: 4.5/5
Recommend: Yes

Maranello's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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CBD, cheap eats, Chinatown, Lunch, Reviews, Thai

Cheap eats: Do Dee Paidang

I’ve seen so many photos of this place on Instagram and heard great reviews about it and boy did this place not disappoint!

One of the cheapest places you can eat at in Chinatown with bowls of noodles starting from $6.

The Do Dee Monster is Tom yum spicy noodles worth a mixture of Tender ribs, pork and fishballs. I order this Level 1 spicy, which is already quite spicy. You can also choose the type of noodles you would like.

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The portion size isn’t large, but you get what you pay for and you could easily fill up if your order another dish to share or a dessert.

We also order the Crispy pork belly with Chilli Jam ($13.90), which is always a favourite. The portion is slightly small though, but enough to be shared between two people.

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This is a MUST order dish here – the fried dough sticks with pandan custard ($5.50).

In my opinion, this is one of the best I’ve had around Thai town. Large dough sticks that are piping hot, crispy on outside and wonderfully fluffy on the inside. The pandan custard runs out quick, but you can order an extra plate for 50c.

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Would come here over and over again, for the value and tasty quick feed.

Do Dee Paidang Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Bankstown, cheap eats, Lunch, Reviews

Cheap eats: Gia Hoi

As the first part of our cheap eats series, we’re starting off with one of the cheapest places you can eat at in Bankstown – a melting pot of cultures with Vietnamese cuisine as authentic as you can get in Cabramatta.

Gia Hoi is located amongst a string of Vietnamese restaurants on Chapel Rd, but it stands out with the bright orange sign and lit up interior.

Pho starts from $11 and is a decent portion size.

There is quite a variety on the menu, with more traditional dishes you might not see in your more mainstream Vietnamese restaurants.

I order the Bun Rieu ($11) which is rice vermicelli noodle soup with crab meat, shrimp, tofu, prawn, pork leg, blood jelly and tomato. It is a generous portion and I struggle to finish. The broth is wonderfully fragrant with the seafood flavours really shining through.

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We also order the Rice paper rolled with pork and prawns ($8) served with peanut dipping sauce. This is your standard rice paper rolls with nothing to rave home about. Considering it was almost the price of a huge bowl of Pho, we probably wouldn’t order this again.

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All in all, if you’re in the Bankstown area looking for a cheap feed and can’t decide between all the Pho choices, you can’t go wrong with Gia Hoi.

Gia Hoi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Reviews, Singapore, Travel

Epic Grad Trip Part 1: Singapore

Wow wow wow it has been an incredibly long time since I’ve last blogged! But finally I’m free from a tortuous 9 months in a 9-5 full time job… okay maybe tortuous seems a bit exaggerated… but fellow 9-5ers can probably relate to me. Anyway, I finally have some time to myself and to this blog so expect a lot more posts!

Lets backtrack a bit to late 2015. Now this trip had been in planning since early last year when we were all graduating and dreaming of that ‘Epic grad trip’. It turned from a 1.5 month long trip to a trip that only lasted 2 weeks…and you can all probably guess why. We graduated, got jobs, life happened. But boy am I glad I took that trip even if it was for a short 2 weeks! I had the best time of my life and I heed anyone to travel while they’re young with friends, it’s an experience you’ll never get back.

Anyway enough rambling, our trip would start from Sydney to Singapore, Singapore to Seoul, Korea, then to Osaka Japan.

This first part of the blog will cover Singapore, in which we stayed a short 2 days. Now I’ve been to Singapore before, so it didn’t really excite me as much, though I was of course excited about the food. Good and cheap – who can complain?

The night we landed we of course had to rush and get our feed of Singapore Chilli Crab.

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This was at No Signboard in Clarke Quay. Personally, I didn’t feel it was that great especially when we all paid over $70AUD for dinner per head! Jumbo Seafood in Marina Bay was much better.

Here’s the obligatory photo of Chicken Rice from Bu Tong Kee. I wish we had the chance to eat at Tian Tian Chicken Rice mmmm would travel to Singapore just for that!

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Sweet drink from nearby Hawker Centre

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Marina Bay

Anyway, the point of this post was to not to share dodgy photos of chilli crab taken on my phone, but to hopefully enlighten some of you out there even if it’s just one person to see the world and make travelling a priority on your to do list because I can tell you whole heartedly you can learn more in that small window of time than you will learn in a school or an office.

I specifically remember this moment, sitting on the train in Kyoto by myself for the first time, in a foreign country, 10,000 miles from anyone I knew and coming to the realisation that the world is a big big place, bigger than you know it to be right now. There’s a world out there you can explore and many things you can do – it doesn’t have to be the set path you thought you had to follow or society taught you how it should be.

The fact that I could gain so much in such a short period of time made me realise what was I doing for the rest of the 300 days of the year…if i was back home, sitting at my desk at work, nothing, absolutely nothing would have changed in those 2 weeks.

Happy travelling kids.

Part 2,3 & 4 are coming soon! Stay posted.

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Brunch, Dessert, Reviews

Inlakesh living foods

There’s a whole new trend sweeping across Sydney and that’s whole living, raw, organic food.

Inlakesh living foods is located in the newly opened section of Macquarie Centre, and it’s both a mini supermarket and a cafe.

The menu is completely raw and organic.

After having tried the amazing raw, vegan cheesecakes at Earth to Table in Bondi, I was on the hunt for something closer to home.

I’ve only tried the raw tiramisu so far, but if it’s anything to go by then the other cheesecakes should be just as good!

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The 9 spices Chai latte is also yummy!

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Inlakesh Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Brunch, Reviews, Surry Hills

Rustic Pearl

Absolutely love, love, LOVE this place! I had always seen amazing pictures of the food on Instagram and never had a chance to try it.

But as the semester draws near and classes come to an end, it was the perfect opportunity to go brunching.

It’s located on Crown Street and is surrounded by a bunch of other hipster cafés serving up organic sourdough and the like.

The cafe is surprisingly small, but I quite like it that way – it makes it cosy.

Table water with a lemon lid – ingenious. I’m sure it serves some purpose like the oils from the lemon peel infuse into the water?

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I’m an intrinsically artsy person and this cute little wall painting got me excited!

It seems their Bosphorous Benedict (lobster Benedict) was the most talked about, so I had to order that and boy was I glad I did.

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One of the best things I’ve had for brunch.

At $24 it certainly is bang for your buck.

I was not expecting the lobster pieces to be that big or that generous, but it was both.

The meat was cooked to perfect, still plump and full of bite. And that oozy oozy egg, is there anything better than a perfectly poached egg?

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Simply the perfect combination: Crispy sourdough, avocado, gooey egg, juicy lobster and creamy hollandaise. Big thumbs up for this dish!

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My friend ordered the Benedict with bacon, which was also great from the bit I tried.

We also ordered the avocado smoothie with pomegranate and pistachio.

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I was expecting it to be sweet but I actually didn’t mind that it wasn’t because it made it healthier and you could really taste to avocado.

Definitely will be back to try the other items on the menu.

Great place. Great atmosphere and great food.

Rustic Pearl on Urbanspoon

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Brunch, Lunch

Lid & Jar

I had first heard about the Lid & Jar at Rhodes and had tried the honeycomb milkshake there, and thought it was fantastic!

But there was little food options there so I was so glad when I heard they were opening a new store at Chatswood.

The store is located at the Concourse and there’s seating upstairs outside, which has a lovely relaxing atmosphere.

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We were recommended the sliders and southern fried chicken.

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The pork belly sliders were amazing. The pulled pork was braised to perfection – super tender and juicy.

The spicy mayo went perfectly with it. But what I liked most was that crispy brioche bun.

The southern fried chicken was really authentic, though I must admit I still prefer Mary’s. The chips though were disappointing.

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I also ordered the Chai milkshake, which was amazing! I highly recommend it.

It comes served in a hipster mason jar – Instagram worthy.

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All in all, this is a great place to hang out and just chill with some great food.

It has a really relaxed atmosphere and I loved how it wasn’t too packed.

I’m not sure why it hasn’t gotten some rave reviews, but I did go on a weekday around 2pm so when it was not so busy. From personal experience staff were all very friendly and helpful.

Lid & Jar on Urbanspoon

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