Tag Archives: Balmain

A Valentine preview

Valentine at Zumbo

It’s been a while.

Moving house, a draining busy work schedule and simply doing too much meant that I have very little time to process my own thoughts. Unfortunately, unless something major happens in the near future, the situation is unlikely to change.

Sunday will mark the double celebration of Chinese New Year and Valentine Day. Not a big fan of the latter, but news of the heart shaped macaroons tempted us to brave the rain and wander down to Adriano Zumbo for a sneak peek.

Valentine at Zumbo

Both the cafe and the store were packed with people looking for some sweet treats. Sitting on top of the glass counters are macaroons packed in transparent plastic boxes wrapped with black satin ribbons. Rather wistfully, I commented to T that although Valentine Day is rubbish, I wouldn’t say no if someone offered these goodies to me. A lady next to us laughed and ended up adding two boxes to her pile.

If you go to the cafe, they sell a pack of 4 macarons containing chocolate, raspberry, salted caramel and mexique chocolate & nougatine for $8. The store has similar flavours, with the addition of coconut and pandan and a few others packaged in the aforementioned plastic box. I bought the packet of 4, but I might come back for more on Sunday.

Let the good food year start!

365.3The 2010 SMH Good Food Guide is out and it’s nice to see a number of new restaurants newly hatted. Restaurant of the year is Quay with Chef of the year going to Mark Best from Marque.  I have a very soft spot for Quay, a particular memory stood out of having dinner one evening and being pleasantly surprised when the harbour was covered fireworks during a random night. On a perfect summer night or even day, it is one of the places I would happily take a tourist to,  in addition to very comprehensive list of places that Helen from Grab Your Fork had put together.


Speaking of the plethora of good food around Sydney, I had been thinking of how I should really explore the food options more than I had in the past. When combined with how much fun it is to eat out as a group, it wasn’t difficult to combine the two and the Midweek Supper Group (or MSG for short) was born.

Last Wednesday four hungry souls travelled to the inner west to visit Kazbah in Balmain. This well known Middle Eastern / North African restaurant is rather famous for its breakfast,  but I was keen to see what their dinner menu was like.

KazbahA wet Wednesday day resulted in a very quiet dining experience at the dimly lit Kazbah, but our moods brightened up when we spotted the their midweek special. For $40, on a Wednesday and Thursday night you get 2 courses and a glass of wine. Considering their mains are around $35, it didn’t take much to convince us to switch to their special. Pictured above was the mixed mezes plate for two people! It was difficult not to over eat and leave room for our main, their dips were remarkably good with the baba ganouch being particularly smoky in flavour.

KazbahRegardless of a slowly bulging stomach, we powered on to our main. From the tasty “Chicken Stuffed with Halloumi, Sucuk and Green Olives, Chickpea Fritter, Asparagus, Capsicum Sauce”

Kazbahto the Pan-Fried Duck Breast with Falafel, Honey Baked Quince and Sweet Potato Chips and the incredibly large Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder, Braised Vegetables, Sultana Jam, Couscous and Condiments. I liked the combination of sweet potato chips and honey baked quince with the duck interesting, but I struggled to finish the entire dish. The portion was huge and it was a very rich meal.

KazbahI can happily go back just for their  flavoursome dips alone,  and perhaps try one of their tagine dishes as well. To finish it all off, Turkish coffee was the way to go, where the coffee must be:

Black as night
Hot as hell
And sweet as love.


From dusk till dawn

MoonFour weeks into the waiting period and although I wish I could say time is flying by, but I am mentally crossing each day rather like Sal from The Secret River by Kate Grenville. Even with email, phone and modern convenience the concept of London is becoming vaguer each day. I am missing people, the freedom of not needing a car to get from point A to point B, but I am ambivalent about going back to work. Trying to catch up on London time had resulted in an insane sleeping pattern that I am not all that happy with and I am feeling just a tad anxious about how long I can keep working remotely, as it can only work if people read emails correctly!

All of the above was probably the reason why I ended up saying yes to the Dusk Until Dawn shoot last weekend (the hardcore edition). With a crazy sleep pattern, staying up all night should be an absolute cinch right? Well it would have helped if I have the right footwear, but unfortunately that was one of the items I left back in London.

DSC_0667.jpgWe wandered from Cockatoo Island before venturing around Balmain, crossing the Anzac Bridge to Pyrmont before looping back. It’s a route I am familiar with when driving past, but I had never even thought of wandering around the mostly industrial area.

Down the blue lineMost of the shots I took were from Cockatoo island…

Cockatoo Island is the largest island in Sydney Harbour. It’s one of Sydney’s great places to visit, big, surprising, entertaining. Located at the junction of the Parramatta and Lane Cove rivers, Cockatoo Island is a former imperial prison, industrial school, reformatory and gaol. It is also the site of one of Australia’s biggest shipyards during the twentieth century. The first of its two dry docks was built by convicts and was completed in 1857. The island’s maritime industrial activity ceased in 1992.

I didn’t realise you can camp on Cockatoo Island aside from festivals and New Year is on. The tents looked rather like well maintained refugee village among the remains of a ship wharf. What remained are empty industrial buildings, rusted and scarred by time. Wandering through the empty, echoing spaces, it did not feel unlike an theatre stripped bare with a few sleepy props left forgotten.


As for Balmain, my shots from that part of the night were rubbish, I am going to attribute it to lack of sleep, my feet hurting like hell and piking before dawn actually arrived. No I’m not hardcore and glady admit it to anyone. On the other hand, I would like to go back to Balmain and walk the same route during daytime, there were enough places that made me think with light I might be able to get some interesting shots…