Tag Archives: Sydney

A winter’s feast at Est.

1 course    35
2 courses  50
3 courses  60

est. winter feast( clockwise) passion fruit soufflé
tangelo sorbet, fresh dates, nashi, pistachio and clove
tahitian vanilla cheesecake, strawberry  sorbet

As much as I love to hate Merivale for being so good in creating and building its empire on glamorous, over hyped sites around Sydney, I have to admit that they know what they’re doing. Their Merivale’s winter feast was a perfect example of their marketing skills. In order to drum up business during the quiet winter months, why not create a special winter menu with price to match and open their doors to new customers?

It was the chance to check out the three hatted Est. that prompted a group of mid week foodies to this beautiful space. The fact that the offer was only available on a weekday between 6-8pm fit the bill perfectly for a MSG gathering. Feeling rather nervous about throwing a group of people across a table who for the most part have never met before, I swallowed my mini melt down and just hoped for the best. It didn’t take long before someone in the group quoted A table for two and Grab Your Fork as their food blog/bible. I couldn’t help, but pointed out that one of their idol was sitting at the end of the table, and was amused to see a case of a star struck fan throughout the rest of the evening.


I have to apologise for the quality of the photos, low lighting and no flash create some rather tragic 80 style food photos, but not having any images would stretch my power of descriptive with even more tragic result.

As R2 pointed out during the evening, the capelli, white scallops, fennel, snap peas and chives entrée was replaced by linguine, chorizo, broccoli, red chilli, parsley and lemon. Thankfully it was the only item noticeably absent from the menu. The three mains of

duck leg confit, roast kipfler potatoes, green peas, jamon, savoy cabbage
pan roasted ocean trout fillet, courgettes, spring peas and salsa verde
slow cooked lamb rump, green lentils, tapenade, love bite tomatoes and basil

were lovely, and well cooked the duck in particular sliding off the bone with a gentle wiggle from my knife. Were they outstanding in any way, not particularly, they show that est. is capable of producing a well cooked meal with decent ingredients, with a keen eye on their bottom line.

When it was time for dessert, I well…deserted and decided to order their passion fruit souffle from their normal menu, just to see what it was like. If you do love your souffle and your passion fruit, the two was combined in a perfect creation that was both light and proudly puffy. The winter feast dessert of vanilla cheesecake and tangelo sorbet were both pleasing, but the souffle won my tastebud and reminded me yet again that what they served was not the true .Est experience.

252 George St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia‎ – (02) 9299 1700‎

Merivale’s Winter Feast finishes at the end of September

Sydney a post apocalyptic preview

The weather today according to Google

There are many reasons to love Sydney, like its constant blue sky. On the other hand today’s orange start gave an early preview of a post apocalyptic Sydney. I am waiting for the dust storm to come back later on in the afternoon, hoping to catch a glimpse of a very red sun set across the Quay. I guess this answers that old question “if the world is ending today, what will you do?” Looks like I will be out and about with a camera hoping that an alien race will be able to find my footage somewhere down the line.

Talking about the future, I managed to catch the last of the City Talks last week.

Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone will give a free public talk about sustainable cities and integrated transport on Wednesday 16 September.

He will be joined by Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP. Ms Moore said; “We have much in common in our vision for our respective cities. Sustainable Sydney 2030 calls for better public transport, less cars, more walking and cycling.”

“A green, global and connected Sydney needs an integrated public transport system. Major public transport is at capacity and it is difficult to move efficiently around the city. Congestion inhibits economic development and private vehicle use is a major source of green house emissions,” Ms Moore said.

Also speaking at the City Talk will be The Hon Anthony Albanese MP, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Leader of the House, Federal Member for Grayndler.

The speakers will participate in a panel discussion chaired by ABC broadcaster Simon Marnie. They will be joined by Garry Glazebrook, Senior Lecturer, School of the Built Environment, University of Technology, Sydney, and Robert Whitehead, Director, Marketing & Newspaper Sales, The Sydney Morning Herald.

Sydney City Talk

Aside from the fact that the talk was free, I was curious to hear what the panel would say about Sydney’s transport infrastructure. If there is one cause that all Sydney siders are united under, it’s our useless public transportation. Trains, buses, light rails and ferries are run separately with their own separate ticketing systems. Unless you live within the inner city suburbs, you will need a car. Riding a bike is just not an option for long distances unless you enjoy near death experiences on a daily basis.

It was actually quite depressing to hear Ken Livingstone speak. In less than a decade London managed to transform its transportation system into an efficient system that does exactly what a growing, vibrant city require. Listening to our Lord Mayor it became clear that any real changes to Sydney’s transportation system will only happen in the long term, and only after years of negotiations between the various bodies governing the entire transportation systems. I didn’t realise that as Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone was given almost total power to do as he saw fit to change the transportation system, hence cutting the years of red tape to almost nothing.

When the suggestion of congestion charge was mentioned, it was rather laughable as  this article rightly pointeded out in order to even think of congestion charge, this city will need a working transportation system to begin with.

I walked out feeling inspired, jaded and hopeful at the same time. Thankful that at least attempts were being made to start working on a single plan, but not trusting the fact that everything will happen within my lifetime. Food for thought, and on that note I am off to enjoy what Sydney has plenty to offer, food and plenty of it at one of Merivale’s Winter Feast.

Stay tune for more food news, in the meantime you might want to check Billy’s review on Teppanyaki’s Winter Feast.

Sydney International Food Festival is just around the corner

Guylian Cafe

Thanks to the goodfood guide’s twitter it came to my attention that the Sydney International Food Festival’s program for October is now officially out with lots of exciting things to look forward to. Among all the excitement, some friends are holding an exhibition as part of the festival on the 18th of October.

Like Mum Used To Make is a celebration of our parents’ recipes – from snacks to hearty stodge, they are an unlikely window into the diversity of Sydney’s culture.

The act of sharing recipes is both a form of oral history and an expression of identity. Our parents’ cooking not only represents fond memories of our childhood, it can have a great influence on our attitudes to food and cooking as adults.

The 18th of October 2009 will see the launch of the zine and an exhibition of illustration and photography by local artists, designers and food enthusiasts. A library of food zines will also be available for anyone to read for free.

They are still looking for submissions for the zine and or the exhibition. If interested please contact them via the website.

On the topic of upcoming events, I have succumbed to the Books Alive 2009 Reading Challenge hosted by bookthingo. I have 17 days left to go through as many books as possible and so far the effort is rather dismal!


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.


Creative Sydney

Creative SydneyThe last 10 weeks of enforced waiting in Sydney reminded me of how much I love Sydney. I love the way the sun is always out, its beautiful harbour, its amazing food, the unholy mess of urban planning and best of all for the friends and family that will always make it home for me. The crazy thing is, I needed to be away from it to appreciate it fully, it took this ridicilous sin bin for the city to enchant me with its siren song.

Sydney MCA Zine FairThis week will mark the end of Creative Sydney, which as they put it:

Creative Sydney is part of Vivid Sydney, a unique new public festival featuring Luminous music festival at Sydney Opera House, Smart Light Sydney and Fire Water. Vivid Sydney is one of five anchor events in the first ever NSW Master Events Calendar created by Events NSW on behalf of the NSW Government. For the full Vivid Sydney program visit www.vividsydney.com.au

Sydney MCA Zine FairIt ran just after the writer’s festival which included the MCA Zine Fair, concurrent with the Sydney Film Festival and to think that I used to moan that the middle of the year was the start of the hibernation period for Sydney!

So where to begin…I wandered down to the Roxy to catch the Telling Stories and Telling It Like It Is pannel at the Roxy with Pirochan early last week to catch a panel of writers and directors present their movies, the motivation behind each story. The panelist included  Peter Gawler (co-creator and writer Underbelly), Paula Abood (Race and the City), Michaela Perske (Red Ithaka), Alicia Talbot (Urban Theatre Projects), Bill Kokkaris (Take Away Theatre), Antoinette Chiha (The Combination, Triple J, Serhat Caradee (Cedar Boys) and  Shortcuts Filmmakers Maria Tran, Vinh Nguyen, Sally Struhters, Ali Kadhim and Tresa Ponnor.

I was a little disappointed that there was very little discussion amongst the speakers, with such a diverse group it seemed like a bit of a wasted opportunity.

Sydney MCA Zine Fair

Going back in time, the MCA Zine Fair was a lot of fun. I met up with Y for an enjoyable Sunday out. I was told that it was even bigger last year, but it was definitely big enough for me. A few brave souls from the National Library approached a number of us asking for zines to be donated and archived. It tickled me to think that I might be noted down as an author of a knitting zine. Still a little surprised to note that copies of Sharp and Pointy sold out pretty quickly, I need to print out more and get ready for issue 4 for TINA later on in the year. Oh the pressure! Other notable zines/zinesters I saw were Vanessa Berry , Mix Tape and the ever so crafty Talk To The Sun.

Sydney MCA Zine Fair

Contemplating my stomach – Fratelli Fresh

Fratelli Fresh

Almost ten weeks of waiting, the good news is I know of more  fantastic places to eat than I have ever before. The not so brilliant news is this state of limbo is not coming to an end anytime soon. Speaking of the former and not the latter, a good friend of mine brought my attention to Fratelli Fresh. Specialising in Italian produce both local and imported they also have a cafe attached to their retail store called Cafe Sopra. It was here that I took A for a belated birthday lunch. Why lunch you might ask? It’s for the simple reason that Cafe Sopra was only open for lunch.

Fratelli FreshWe went to their Waterloo branch, where the retail store was located downstairs in their warehouse and the cafe upstairs. A large black board dominated one side of the wall listing today’s menu and from the diner’s concentrated gaze it might as well be a rather scrumptious work of art. Not surprisingly, all their dishes used ingredients sold in their store. Everything from bread, pesto and the most gorgeous balsamic vinegar imported from Italy.Fratelli Fresh - lamb ragu

A ordered their lamb ragu, which was decent but the tomato sauce was a little overpowering.  My carbonara on the other hand was delicious. The pesto was light, the bacon crisp and the cream was sparing, allowing the pasta’s flavour to still shine through.

Fratelli Fresh

I couldn’t help, but taste their dessert and though banoffee pie was sold out their lemon souffle was hard to miss. The light yellow layer was pure lemon froth and as you dig down, the lemon base was a marriage between lemon and cream. All this offset by the lovely fig cube to the side.

Fratelli Fresh - Lemon souffle

Fratelli Fresh

Fratelli Fresh hold free cooking class during the week, but unfortunately June was completely booked solid by 10 am on the first day they took booking for the month of June. A little disappointed, but I will probably come back to pick up their balsamic vinegar, their bread, their pasta, their cheese…you get the drift.

Fratelli Fresh

Fratelli Fresh Fratelli Fresh

7 Danks Street

Waterloo, 2017

The Cafe: Sopra Waterloo

ph. 02 9699 3174

Monday – Friday 10am – 3pm

Saturday 8am – 3pm

Sunday 10am – 3pm

No bookings taken

Nippon Club

Nippon Club

I had a rather brilliant weekend with the MCA zine fair on Sunday and catching up with a good friend on Saturday. The zine fair was a lot of fun and I picked up a number of zines and walked away feeling rather inspired. I’ll blog about in a while once I finish downloading some of the images. Gigantic thank you to Pirochan for printing and table space and the continued “where’s your zine?” nagging. Issue 1 and 2 sold out on the day as well as a healthy number of issue 3 as well!

Nippon Club

Going back through some old photo I just remembered that I haven’t talked about Nippon Club. I first heard of it from Helen’s blog and the idea of visiting this hidden gem on Macquarie Street piqued my interest. It surprised me to realise that I had walked past this little underground restaurant without realising that it served food. There was only a sign with “International Nippon Australia New Zealand Club Limited” posted outside and until you wander down the stairs it would be easy to dismiss it as a private club exclusive to Japanese expats.

We signed ourselves in after being greeted by two surprised elderly Japanese gentlemen enjoying their Sapporo beer on a Tuesday evening. The atmosphere felt a little like your typical RSL with pokies hidden away in a corner, furniture popular in the 80’s (those wicker chair, that beige colour scheme that was in when Dynasty was on TV).

Nippon Club

Apparently their usualy chef was off and they have a new chef starting that week. Unless we were willing to wait until 7:30pm, the only option was the lunch menu until then. With sapporo on tap and a decent sake menu we decided to wait and ordered from the dinner menu. The sashimi and sushi selection was decent, but the value came from the bento box sets. We ordered salmon skin sushi,  chirashi sushi special (second photo) brimming with more sashimi than rice, beef tataki, finishing off with the most the most radio active looking green tea ice cream I had ever seen.

It was a surprising experience from start to finish, unlike the typical Japenese restaurant, but thoroughly authentic, affordable and highly recommended.

229 Macquarie St
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9232 2688

Nuts and ball and how I was defeated by a dessert

Nuts and BallThere are very few times in life when armed with a spoon or fork or both that I fail to tackle a vulnerable looking dessert, but when confronted with this baseball size dessert appropriately named Nuts and Ball created as a homage to a snicker bar I had to admit defeat. 

It was a Tuesday evening and we should be rushing to the Wharf Theatre or risk missing the first part of the Wonderful World of Dissocia instead of  remaining at Arras restaurant for a wee bit longer. Unfortunately, or fortunately like deers transfixed by the sight of car headlights, just as we were about to desert our desserts our waitress presented us with a tray of petit four. Not just a selection mind you, but a whole damn tray to choose from. 

Arras petit four and then some more

The petit four tray

In hindsight that insane selection of petit four was the highlight of our meal. Y suggested Arras as a potentially interesting restaurant to visit due to word of mouth mixed review, the fact that it was within walking distance of the Wharf theatre was a point in its favour. Tucked away discreetly on Hickson road,  it would have been quite easy for most passerby to walk past Arras without glancing into its darkened interior. In a lot of ways missing out on this restaurant would have been a shame, as the venue itself was quite impressive with its exposed brick interior providing a clue of its heritage status. 

Ox cheek

Special of the day Ox cheek

The food itself was a mix of traditional English with contemporary European (whatever that means) plated beautifully, solid but did not provoke surprise. The surprise and delight came from left field. The range of dinner rolls on offer (5 at least), the playful dessert and as mentioned beforehand the petit four selection. It seemed that Arras’s pastry chef was on fine form and did not stint on just providing a few selection when the diner could be given a dozen choices.  This more than anything else would tempt me to go back and finish my dessert next time around. I mean, it’s all part of the research process isn’t it? 

Ginger souffle at Arras

Ginger souffle


Barramundi with a homage to curry...whatever that means


24 Hickson Rd, Walsh Bay, Sydney
 (02) 9252 6285
 Lunch Tue-Sat noon-2.30pm; dinner Tue-Sat 6-10pm.

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…


Sydney Growers Market or why waking up early is good for your stomach

Sydney Grower's Market

For the past goodness know how many years, I have managed to commit the cardinal sin of sleeping through the first Saturday of the month and not go to the Sydney Growers Market. In my defence, the market is open only between the indecent hours of 7 – 11 Am. So unless you are a food fanatic, an early bird or in my case still jet lagged, the chance of catching this market and still maximise your weekend sleep is rather slim.

Sydney Grower's MarketIt just happened to be that Semi-Permanent was on the same weekend and when y asked if I would be interested in coming along, I half managed to get myself out of bed to catch the tail end of the market. The weather was mild, families were out and in the grassy space between Pyrmont pier and Star City Casino a number of tents were set up to sell the most mouth watering produces found in Sydney. I gravitated towards coffee before milling around the many bakeries around the market. I managed to grab some sausages from the rather famous Eumundi Smokehouse before continuing on for the first session of Semi-Permanent. Helen from Grab Your Fork had been faithfully blogging about the Growers Market for quite some time know if you want to find out more, as for me I have pencilled in an early morning for the next market day.

Sydney Grower's Market

As for Semi-Permanent this year, and what the heck is it? From the horse’s mouth…

So, what is Semi-Permanent? To put it simply Semi-Permanent is a design event. It consists of a conference and side events which include exhibitions, competitions, workshops and parties. It’s a week long celebration of all things design. Graphic Design, Film, Art, Illustration, Web Design, Photography, Visual Effects, Animation, Graffiti, Motion Graphics, Stop Motion; all these things and more. Semi-Permanent explores the diverse and exciting design world bringing together exceptionally talented artists and designers to speak at the event.


Some of the more memorable speakers for me in the past were: David Kinsey, Beci Orpin, James Jean and Marmalade to name a few. There were years that you wonder why on earth they bother with some speakers, but this year was a definite winner in my book. I only attended the Saturday session, half expecting to see the usual hit and miss line up as previous years, but was pleasantly surprised that all the speakers were quite amazing.

As for highlights… I was rather inspired by Wired’s magazine presentation. I haven’t picked up a hard copy in years and was not aware that the magazine went through a design evolution in the past few years. I loved the fact that every facet of the refreshed magazine was so carefully thought of from the newly created fonts, strong design and layout structure, but provided enough flexibility to use any visual element they like. Who else… Daniela Federici’s talk was gossipy and surprisingly candid in her experience with celebrities and Ron English (of the fat McDonald fame and that now famous image of Obama as Abraham Lincoln) was wonderful, it was rare to see works that you know will be an icon for many years to come. If you live in Auckland or Perth, SP is about to head your way later on in the year. I’m not sure if the line up will be the same, but it’s definitely worth checking. If that’s not possible, check out their podcast for videos of some past speakers.