Wednesday, December 21, 2011

i try zumbo

There we were, Dr Gab and I, standing on the side of the street staring at the map on my phone. We had typed in the address for Zumbo and according to the little blue dot that represented us we were in the exact right spot. We walked up the street and back again, looking around like lost puppies.

Then we noticed someone emerge from an understated doorway around a corner, carrying what could only be a pastry box. We approached the doorway and just above it was a small sign that read "adrianozumbo patissier".

We walked in to see a cabinet full of pastries, tarts and macarons. The colours and shapes were exquisite. I was overwhelmed. The only flavour of macarons that remained were licorice. Adriano Zumbo single handedly turned Australians into macaron lovers. I. Love. Macarons. But, licorice just wasn't going to cut it.

We settled on a tarte aux fruits de la passion - passionfruit curd and pate sucree (pictured, $6) and sacher's sister blanca - white chocolate sponge, white chocolate pear ganache, kumabo ganache and vanilla glacage (also pictured, $8).

Dr Gab and I cut both our deserts in half and shared them. We started with the tart. The vivid colours of the tart acurately reflected the passionfruit explosion that occurred when we dug in. It was smooth and slightly tart, the pastry: perfectly thin and beautifully crumbly.

The many layers of the pear sponge worked together in perfect harmony. A stunning combination of flavours and textures, from the smooth ganache to the soft sponge to the small chunks of pear, all brought together with subtle splashes of white chocolate. Heaven.

Adriano Zumbo and his team create genius works of art and put them on a plate. They look amazing. They taste even better. Every trip to Zumbo is overwhelming because everything looks and sounds (and is) delicious. If you haven't been to Zumbo you need to get yourself there. Now. Right now! Are you still reaing this? Go!!

Adriano Zumbo on Urbanspoon

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

i try apples

Here we are Brian. It's a gorgeous day. I think we're in for a very close race. There have been some early favourites, Brian. The bookies are firmly backing Pink Lady, closely followed by Royal Gala. The punters, however, are very much divided, Brian, with both Red Delicious and Granny Smith looking strong.

That's right Larry, but Red Delicious is very unpredictable, a
s is Granny Smith actually Larry.

Oh, we've just had some breaking news, Brian. Royal Gala, Jazz, Jonathon and Golden Delicious have all been late withdrawals. Now this is a disaster Brian, I'm sure you'll agree.

Absolutely, Larry. Royal Gala was a real contender. This is catastrophic.
Brian, I think it will still be a good race. The people have wanted to see these competitors face off for a long time now. I think we are still in for a treat.

Absolutely Larry. We've got some incredible stars out on the field tonight. Lets have a closer look at them. In lane one we have the favourite, Pink Lady. She's originally from WA, Brian. She's a fairly young competitor but, goodness me, she's shown a lot of promise in recent years.

That's right Brian. Coincidently, in lane two is her very close relative, the Sundowner. Also, a very young competitor and also originally from WA. These young, west aussies are going to be tough to beat Brian.

Absolutely, Larry, but lets not overlook the oldest competitor in the race this evening. She's originally from NSW and has been around for almost 150 years. You can spot her a mile off with that beautiful green skin—

—and what gorgeous green skin it is Brian.

Absolutely Larry. Granny Smith has been in this game for a long time. She's certainly one to watch.

Right next to Granny Smith, in lane four, we have Braeburn, the kiwi. Now Brian, I'm not sure how the New Zealander is going to go on Aussie soil. The punters aren't risking it at this stage. This one is a bit of a dark horse.

Absolutely Larry. As is our Japanese contender in lane five, the Fuji. Larry, the Fuji has been known to run some excellent races. When she's in form, she's on fire but until that gun goes off there's no way of knowing if she's having a good day or a bad day.

That's right Brian. I've certainly seen her run some incredible races. Who knows...Today might just be her day.

Absolutely Larry. We've got another unpredictable competitor in lane six. All the way from the USA, Red Delicious. Again, Larry, I've seen her run some absolutely stunning races as well as some very forgettable ones.

Here we go Larry...
Pink Lady and Sundowner have got themselves an early lead. Granny Smith falling behind. Fuji is still at the gates. Fuji has not moved. Wow, Fuji is really sucking arse today! Braeburn is lagging along way behind, she's looking very floury today. Pink Lady and Sundowner still fighting for the lead. Red Delicious in third, on the inside. She's making up ground. Doesn't she look spectacular. It's still all Pink Lady and Sundowner. They are neck and neck. Equally sweet. Equally crunchy. It's a tie ladies and gentleman. Pink Lady and Sundowner: equal amounts deliciousness, followed closely by crunchy, juicy Red Delicious. Fuji is still at the gates. Fuji has been very bland today. I've seen her run far better races than this. Very disappointing performance. Apparently, this is Granny Smith's first race after coming out of storage. That explains a lot. She was very underwhelming. Braeburn, the kiwi: she was a big specimen. This is proof bigger isn't necessarily better.

If you liked this you'll probably like i try mints

Thursday, December 1, 2011

i try in situ

It had been raining all week. I hadn't seen my shadow for days. At around 2pm on Saturday the rain ceased, the clouds parted and for the first time in what felt like forever, we got to feel the warmth of the sun on our cheeks. Dr Gab and I decided oysters were very much in order. We made our way into Manly and found ourselves at In Situ.

In Situ seems small at first glance but upon closer inspection you'll see a sizeable restaurant area out the back. This place would be ideal on a cold winter's evening, with the warm, orange glow of the lighting and cosy atmosphere. Maybe that's why they've added random palm trees and make it more summery?

Both Dr Gab and I were eager for food but the friendly gentleman told us the kitchen wasn't open till 6 (20 minutes away). No worries! With the cocktails on special for $10 we were happy to put of food in order to put their cocktail menu to the test. They have all the usual suspects on their cocktail menu as well as some clever originals. I have to admit it was difficult to choose. I went with the Lychee Elderflower Martini (Absolut vodka shaken briskly with fresh lychees, citrus and elderflower) and Dr Gab chose the Soviet Kiss (Absolut vodka, fresh raspberries and strawberries citrus, cinnamon topped with sparkling wine). Both were delicious and perfect for the balmy weather. We polished them off quickly and then shifted to the open air section out the back where we perused the food menu and enjoyed the last rays of sunshine as the sky began to turn orange and pink.

We did, of course, choose the Coffin Bay oysters served natural with Nam Jim (pictured, 1/2 doz $18). The oysters were plump and fresh served on a bed of ice with a wedge of lemon. The nam jim was delicious. It had a little kick of chilli and just the right intensity so as not to mask the flavour of the oysters. We liked the nam jim so much we attepted to replicate in the days following our jaunt. Ours was pretty awesome but turns out getting "that balance" right is harder than we thought.

We followed up our oysters with Lightly battered Zucchini flowers with mint and ricotta (pictured, $14). This was mainly to satisfy me, having never had zucchini flowers before. They are the kind of thing you see on Master Chef and say, "We should try that!", but never actually do. They were piping hot when they arrived out our table. Small flakes of salt had been sprinkled over them. Although they were deep fried there was not a hint of grease insight. They were light and crunchy. I couldn't really taste the actual zucchini flowers much but Dr Gab and I concluded they were mainly for aesthetics. Either way, they were yum and I would order them again.

As we waited for our third dish of Cured Ocean Trout Carpaccio, pink grapefruit, baby capers and lemon oil (pictured, $15) Dr Gab recounted stories of all-you-can-eat carpaccio in Noumea. When ours arrived it was a rich, glossy orange laid out perfectly and lovingly topped with a micro herb salad. I really liked this dish. In all honesty though, thinking about it now, I can't recall any pink grapefruit. I certainly didn't miss it at the time. It was a simple, beautiful dish.

In Situ is all about beautifully presented, fresh dishes with subtle flavours, using quality, in season produce. The service was very good without being over bearing. We would've stayed for desert but Dr Gab had made a pit stop at Zumbo so we headed down to the beach to enjoy macaroons. We will come back for desert another day.

In Situ on Urbanspoon

If you like the sound of this you will probably like The Armchair Collective.
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

i try the raw kitchen

(Note: Read my newest write up on The Raw Kitchen here.)

Tucked away in picturesque Fremantle is a little place called The Raw Kitchen. As the name implies all the food is raw, vegetarian and gluten free. You can read the little speel on their menu at the bottom of this post.

Thelma, Louise and I rendezvoused at The Raw Kitchen at 1.45pm. We were lucky to snag a table because the little kitchen was bustling. Don't worry if you can't get a table because the peeps at The Raw Kitchen are happy to do take-away. Both Thelma and Louise had been here before and thoroughly enjoyed the nachos and the live dips plate. After some quick decisions I approached the counter running through the orders in my head. Pizza, nachos and a club sandwich. Pizza, nachos and a club sandwich. I repeated these words as I waited in line eyeing off a large berry cheesecake in the cabinet nearby.

When I got to the counter I was informed that they had run out of nachos and the pizza would be a 30-60 minute wait. No worries. I switched to an extra club and the felafels. Apparently, they were out of felafels too. I switched to a third Club Sandwich (dehydrated flax cracker 'bread' topped with creamy avocado, raw mayo dressing, mango & coriander chutney, marinated mushroom pieces & fresh salad toppings, pictured, $17.90).

We chatted away, soaking in the midday sun, as we waited for our meals. We then realised that 45 minutes had gone by. Tables nearby that had, not only ordered after us, but had arrived after we had placed our order had received their meals, which happened to be a fresh batch of pizza. Louise went inside to suss the situation out and was told our sandwiches were on the way.

The sandwiches were delicious. I feel like I am doing my body a favour. The ingredients were fresh and flavoursome. Despite essentially being a sandwich full of salad it was far from bland. I couldn't help but notice some inconsistencies in the sandwiches even though we had all ordered the same dish...
We followed our sandwiches by sharing three bliss balls one choc-mint, one chocolate, one jaffa (they had run out of cheesecake). They were all delicious and again I can feel my body thanking me. Word to wise: Don't waste your time with the chocolate or the jaffa, choc-mint is where it's at.

I wouldn't normally post a menu but given we were only able to try one dish i thought i would. I really like this place. Despite the fact that our meal took forever, the service was lacking (almost non-existant) I will definitely go back. I like healthy food and it's nice to know there's no crap in my food. No extra salt, no copious amounts of butter and no "4-cheese dishes". Yep, I'll be back for the nachos...and the pizza...and the felafels. I've also heard good things about the mango lasse!

The Raw Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Here's the menu. Let me know if you manage to try the nachos!

If you like the sound of this you'll definitely like The Greenhouse and my Healthy Biscuits.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

i try the greenhouse

I wont lie, this is not the first time I have tried The Greenhouse. And to be honest, if The Greenhouse were a person I'm pretty sure it would be my soulmate. I really love everything about this restaurant. From the their philosophy to their decor to the way they fill your water glass with a watering can. It is eco-friendly without being preachy or hippie-ish.

On this particular trip I was joined by Louise. Thelma was terribly busy soaking up the sun in Broome. We didn't book, thinking we would be fine rocking up at 6.30pm on a Tuesday night. The Greenhouse, however, was full. The friendly waiter asked if we could wait a moment while he checked to see if he could fit us in. He said he could give us a table but he would need it back by 8. That was fine by me. I usually devour the food at a ridiculously rapid pace anyway.

Now, Louise is vegetarian. And, The Greenhouse does share plates. Trust me though, some of their best plates are the vegetarian ones. We chose a pizza with golden beetroot, goat's curd and rocket (pictured, $15). The size of the pizza is perfect and means you can get other plates without filling up on pizza. It had a thin, crunchy wholemeal base with the perfect amount of all three ingredients. It was simple and proof that simple is delicious.

Our second dish was mixed tomato, curd, wheat, chia seed (pictured, $14). The simplicity of the dish, like a lot of The Greenhouse dishes, means the ingredients have to be topnotch. And they always are. The tomatoes were fresh and rich in flavour. The chia seeds had been mixed with water to form a gel (they absorb up to 12 times their weight in liquid) and drizzled around the plate. The crunchy wheat provided a wonderful textural contrast to the smoothness of the curd and the chia seeds. A generous sprinkling of fresh herbs added an extra dimension of flavour and colour. A perfect spring dish.

For the third dish we ordered pumpkin and chickpea tagine, green chilli yogurt (pictured, $20). It was thick and very tasty. The generous chunks of tender pumkpin and roast capsicum were delicious with the rich tomato-based sauce and the just-crunchy chickpeas. Neither of us were a fan of the chilli yogurt. It was a strange combination and we felt the dish was better off without it. So the blob sat relatively untouched in the centre of the dish.

At this point, we glanced at our watches and noted the time was 7.45pm. We suspected our friendly waitor would want his table back meaning we would have to forego dessert on this occassion. We shall just have to make a return visit. And truthfully, (continuing the 'honesty theme') our bellies were content. Not full. Just very very content.

If you liked this you might also like The Boulevard

Greenhouse on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 11, 2011

i try solestruck

I know it's wrong...and a little difficult to admit. I'm am in love...with a pair of shoes. From the moment I saw them it was love. I spotted them on Solestruck. If you have never heard of Solestruck you need to get on board. Fast! It is an online shoe store with the most amazing selection of shoes.
Some people have issues with buying shoes online. However, if I was going to get my filthy little mits on these Sam Edelman boots I was going to have go online. Solestruck shows the shoe from every angle and even advises me that I the shoe fits true to size and gives insole measurements.

Some people would think the price I paid for these shoes was absolutely outrageous (my mother included). However, in the words of one of the wisest ladies I know, "it doesn't matter because they make you happy." Indeed, everytime I look at them they make me happy. So happy in fact I went back for seconds:

Who could say no to these vanilla suede and wooden Maurie and Eve wedges? Not me apparently...

Visit Solestruck

Sunday, July 31, 2011

i try interior decorating

Decorating on a tight budget is hard. Decorating when both your time and your budget are limited is a whole other ball game. I recently packed my bags and moved from Perth to Sydney. I did have three suitcases and four boxes but (I'm not going to lie) they were pretty much all filled with clothes and shoes. And, the room I moved into was empty. I needed furniture and bedding fast. Really fast. Here's what I came up with:

I got an ensemble for the bed and managed to get the lady to knock $250 off the price. Sweet. Picked up the sheets half price at Myer and the quilt and quilt cover on sale at Target. I got the blanket and the throw (the one that looks like an animal) for 30% off from Adairs. Pillows were all half price. Cushions were full price but still cheap as chips from Spotlight. Yep, on a roll.

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The chest of draws next to my bed is actually two side tables I bought from the Salvos. $25 for both of them.

Whilst at the Salvos I also picked up this Harper's Bazaar Big White Book for $3. Bargain.

I also picked up this nifty shelf for $15 at a garage sale. I bought a cardboard chair for $39 to use as a place to dump clothes I can't be bothered hanging up or folding away. I bought a stack of old magazines for 50c-$1 from the opshop and piled them high to use as a second shelf. Functional and educational.

Monday, July 11, 2011

i try the armchair collective

The Armchair Collective. What a great name. It sounds like a place where you can lodge yourself in a comfy chair and waste away a lazy afternoon munching on yummy food. The real Armchair Collective wasn't quite that.

The Armchair Collective is a cross between a cafe and a homewares store. There were no comfy couches at all (actually the chairs we sat on were a little uncomfortable). However, the mismatched tables and chairs are dotted in amongst some really lovely and quirky homewares that fill conversation gaps when the silence gets a little much. The visual merchandising is really cool. It's a great place to visit when you're in need of a little inspiration. An old-fashioned white bathtub sits atop a weatherworn wooden table, and is full to the brim with jagged sticks. Fresh flowers dotted throughout the cafe provide stunning perfume.

The Armchair Collective is tucked down by the seaside in Mona Vale, on Sydney's northern beaches. On a crisp, sunny day a unanimous decision amongst the office crew was made to get out and enjoy a lunch at the nearby Armchair Collective. Papa Bear, Peter Pan and The Big Bad Wolf had gone AWOL so it was a girls lunch. The day we chose to go down was smack bang in the middle of school holidays and Armchair don't take bookings. It was a risk. And, it was busy when we got there. One of us must've had luck on our side because we found ourselves a table for eight straight away. That's where the luck ended...

We sussed out the menu and went to the counter to place our order. Baby Bear and Mama Bear were first to order and decided on the Green Leaf Salad with Roast Pumpkin, Pear, Walnuts and Goats Cheese ($15). No problems there. Thumbelina ordered the Sesame Bagel with Smoked Ocean Trout, Neufchatel Cream Cheese and Baby Capers ($15). The lad behind the counter said there were no bagels left but they could make it with any other bread she liked. Ok, no worries, we can deal with that. Rapunzel went for the BRT and was told there was none of those left either. Apparently it was a "really busy breakfast". She switched to the "bagel".

Fairy Godmother, Goldilocks and Little Red Riding Hood went for the salad as well. However, they were told the kitchen had run out of pumpkin but they could make a salad with roasted asparagus and heirloom tomatoes instead of pumpkin. Goldilocks switched to the Leek and Bacon Soup. Fairy Godmother and Little Red Riding Hood stuck with the salad (pictured below).

As it happened even Mama Bear and Baby Bear were given the improvised tomato/asparagus salad despite that their order for the pumpkin salad being given the ok. The salad got the thumbs up from all who ordered it. Even Baby Bear polished it all off and she doesn't even like asparagus! I forgot to ask Goldilocks how her soup was but I heard her say something about "just right".
I went for the Roasted Vegetable Frittata with Leaf Salad ($16, pictured below). The portion sizes with all our meals were very generous. My golden frittata was packed with pumpkin, silverbeet and feta so despite it's enormous size it didn't fill me up, meaning I still had room for chips. My side salad was dressed with a sweet honey dressing that almost over-powered the delicious heirloom tomatoes. Just as well I have a sweet tooth I suppose.

Mama Bear and Fairy Godmother also two large buckets of 'Skin On' Hand Cut Chips and Harissa Mayonnaise ($7 each, below). They were delicious and beautifully golden. And, of course, I felt a bit healthy given they were 'skin-on'. The harissa mayonaisse gave them a nice creamy kick of chilli but I actually preferred them without the mayonaisse.

Given half the menu was missing, it was probably just as well the food was delicious and the service was prompt and friendly (although Baby Bear did have to go looking for her iced chocolate). And, how can you not like a place that serves it's iced chocolates in big old-school milk bottles?

The Armchair Collective on Urbanspoon

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

i try the manly to spit walk

The Manly to Spit walk is quite a well known walk that follows the waterline from Manly (near Oceanworld) to The Spit (Spit Bridge). It's about 9km one way. It's a nice walk with enough variety in the scenery so you don't get bored.

Here's a few things I learnt from doing the Manly to Spit walk

1. Don't bring your bike. They ain't allowed on the path.

2. The first section out of Manly is like running through a park. There are dogs and people and kids all over the place. Persevere because the boring concrete path doesn't last forever.

3. Sunday mid-morning is peak hour on the path. If you have the option to do it on a weekday do it. on a weekday.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

i try color splash

I think this might be my favourite app. As a result I have taken to coloursplashing any photo I think could do with some highlights. Here are some of my coloursplashing efforts.

Smalls and Talls:

The cheese platter to end all cheese platters:

Bodhi, our office dog, bin raider, cake thief and protector against all things courier related:

Masterpiece discovered whilst on a random wander through bush land south of Perth:

First colour splash ever:

Shelf...enough said:

Follow me on Instagram: @mirandamc

Sunday, April 24, 2011

i try the boulevard

It was quite a sad evening. In two days I would be gone. On a plane and gone...well...for a while. So The Boss, Smalls and I went to The Boulevard for one last hurrah. The Boulevard is located where The Floreat Hotel used to be. The decor is nice and sophisticated without being wanky or arrogant. We were given the choice of sitting inside or outside and then shown to our table. Our waitress was friendly and helpful. We did ask a lot of wine-related questions. For each question she happily strolled away somewhere and found the answer. The Boulevard has a good, solid selection of wines so it's understandable that she didn't know everything about every bottle but a basic knowledge of grape variety is probably necessary. Just saying...We ended up sharing a bottle of Jamsheed 'Pepe Le Pinot' Pinot Noir ($45).

Smalls and The Boss had been to The Boulevard on previous occasions. The menu is divided up into several sections: "To Share", "Pizza", "Mains", "Salads" and (of course) "dessert". It is nice that they are trying to cater to all levels of hunger. However, sometimes it is dificult to pinpoint what that level is, or whether the occasion is an entree-main-dessert type occassion or more of a share-and-share-and-share type occasion. We decided to do a combo of the two and share an entree of salt and pepper squid with lemon aioli ($16.50, pictured), then order individual mains.

I have a penchant for salt and pepper squid and have seen some very interesting looking versions of the dish. So, I'll be honest. This squid didn't look that great on the plate. The plate was enormous and the squid rings were quite small. It certainly wasn't love at first sight. But as we began to nibble away at it I realised why they say "never judge a book by its cover". And, although the squd rings were strangely small they were tender, the batter was light and crispy and the aoili had the perfect amount of garlic. I could've easily devoured the whole plate myself.

Our mains arrived shortly after our squid. There was no way Smalls was ever going to pass up gnocci. On this particular occassion it was accompanied by crispy skin barramundi ($36.50, pictured).

As the menu promised the skin on the Barramundi was lovely and crispy and the flesh cooked as fish should be. It was surrounded by plump, golden pillows of home-made gnocci. I'm not a gnocci person but Smalls is the gnocci guru. She gave it her tick of approval.

To be honest I can't for the life of me remember what The Boss ordered. But it looked like this:

I think it was duck. Or maybe chicken. Either way it was cooked beautifully. The Boss said it was lovely and juicy. And the seasonal vegie salad on the side was simple, colourful and also cooked beautifully. All the vegies had just a slight crunch and were lightly coated in a subtle dressing. My dish was chicken salad with vermicelli noodles, purple cabbage, roast capsicum, lime and coriander (pictured below).

It was a massive serve. They were generous with the chicken. And the noodles. There were a lot of noodles. And, to me vermicelli noodles don't really taste like anything. They are a good addition but should not be the key ingredient. Other than that it was exactly what I felt like. It was fresh and perfect for the balmy evening it was. The dressing was also rather delicious.

I have to admit I wasn't that impressed with the dessert menu. It's not that I'm not a dessert person. No no. I'm a dessert person through and through. But there was nothing on the menu that jumped out at me. I would've happily passed and found sweets elsewhere. But Smalls and The Boss decided on dessert anyway.

We switched back to our original arrangement and decided to share spanish doughnuts, chocolate sauce, vanilla anglaise ($14.50) and creme brulee ($14.50, pictured). The desserts came out in good time. I couldn't help but laugh at the spanish doughnuts. They were the ugliest things I had ever seen. They were huge. I've had churros before and The Boulevard's version didn't match the original. They were alright. Nothing to write home about. The serving was definitely too much for one. Between the three of us we didn't finish them. The anglaise was absolutely delicious. The doughnuts: average. But the creme brulee...oh the creme brulee. It was amazing. Our spoons cracked through the crunchy coating of sugar. It was delicious, rich and creamy without being sickly. Forget the doughnuts. Stick with the brulee.

It was probably just as well the brulee was so good. As we said goodbyes the delicious flavour of the brulee still lingered. It was still sad. We agreed that next we would test the pizza. I smiled knowing that "next time" would be quite a while time I'll just get a serve of squid and a brulee and I'll be set.

The Boulevard Hotel on Urbanspoon

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