Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Degustation brought to you by Flying Fish

The restaurant is well known in Sydney - visitors would love the location because it's a little off the "beaten track" but that is part of the charm - you can understand why Sydney-siders are so deeply passionate about their city when you visit places like Jones' Bay.  There are reviews a plenty and frankly I should have read @notquitenigella's before going there (though Mr T in fact did and still missed this bit) because I like her spent the time wandering around in more sensible heels but a whippy-up dress that I was praying was not going to truly embarrass me, and truly impressive wind gusts. I can also than her for getting Mr T to book us in there  as I had been wanting to go for a while.  Mr T commented on how fantastic the booking system was - full points there. For someone who will not pick up the phone at the best of times, the online booking system is extremely efficient.

We were early (unusual for us but the Tomtom was remarkably accurate and smarter than we give it credit for). This gave us a chance to sit out the front in the comfy outdoor setting and sip on a Bellini for me and delightful rosé for Mr T. This unfortunately caused us to run a little late to dine and we were not sure whether we would be shown to our table and able to take our drinks or whether we should ask if our table was ready. We did the latter. Thankfully too as we were embarking on a long journey through the menu.

As it was our first time there and a special occasion we decided to sample the degustation menu. It was an ambitious effort so late in the evening for people who are used to being in bed by 10pm! We decided to add a sneaky 4 x meagre serve sampling of fresh Pambula oysters –  they are sold in singles and it was lucky we thought to limit our order in retrospect but at the time I could have dined on them alone! The sweet creaminess of them had me itching for a dry crisp champagne to go with it!  My central otago pinot gris ably satiated the thirst (for an additional $75/head you can have the accompanying wine but at $150/head for the degustation and additional drinks we weren’t prepared to take out a 2nd mortgage on our first visit!).

Peter Kuruvita and his team have embraced social media and we were contacted several times over twitter before we arrived including letting us know where we could find parking. Their site makes it really easy to become a big fan and they’re building a community around them.  They did ask me if I intended on taking photos or blogging.

The table service is good and unassuming, we did struggle to understand our waiter’s description of the dishes (wish we had kept a copy of the menu but “guess the flavours” is a favourite game of mine!) and he kept addressing Mr T who is partially deaf! Unfortunately the young lady taking our orders was not as familiar with the dishes as I would expect from a restaurant of this calibre.  We coped.

The menu was well suited for the stifling humidity we’ve been experiencing recently. The early courses were ‘cooling’ foods that helped curb your body heat from rising as you start to eat (and really making a degustation a challenge!).    Have shared some snaps from our dining experience (please forgive the amateur photography), check out the menu, you will easily be able to discern the dishes.  We were both in agreement that the seared tuna and the soft shell crab were stand outs on the menu. The feature of both sheep’s milk and goat’s milk products in three of the courses, did not suit my palate but were creative in their use.  Our return venture will be to be experience the a la carte, but in the mean time we better go back to saving some money!

Flying Fish
Jones Bay Wharf

Lower Deck
19-21 Pirrama Road
Pyrmont NSW 2009

T: (02) 9518 6677
F: (02) 9660 9026


Please note that there is a 1.5% surcharge on credit cards which we failed to note on the menu and I find remarkable given the kind of money that would move through there.  We were not guests of either the restaurant or Peter Kuruvita and paid for our meal in full.

Posted via email from Radhika's posterous

Sunday, 23 January 2011

If only all Golf Club Houses were Like Burnt Orange Cafe

Summers in Sydney are something to crow about. This one has had a bit of a rough trot though recently, alternating between tropical showers and long overcast days accompanied by relentless heat. But Indra was kind to us the day we had a family birthday lunch Burnt Orange Cafe, in Mosman.

It is a spectacular location, a place that truly reminds you of Sydney's history and why it is such a beloved city. The cafe occupies the old 19302 golf club house at George's Head.  Being a historic building in the Headland Park are the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, have done a  generous reservation making it a great complex to visit even if you were planning on having a picnic and not dining in.

It was filled with the proper well-to-do types for whom Sydney's north shore is home and our large group certainly caught their attention as we sauntered past in various family lots. But so well nestled were we around the large wrap round verandah all other diners were soon forgotten. Oh the verandah, that deserves its own special mention. It was around 30C on my car thermostat when we arrived, but the sheer size and shade provided by the wrap around verandah kept us all comfortably cool.  There is something romantic about them for me, perhaps attributable to being from tropical stock (Fiji) with sugar plantations and plantation houses in our blood. I wanted to wear white gloves and sip ice tea! Instead I opted for a lovely elderflower pressé (this is where I admit this is my first time having had elderflower after hearing about it for years and it did not disappoint) which seemingly delivered the same nostalgic sentiment I was after.

When it came to the food, I will admit it was a little difficult to be too adventurous in such a massive group (most of whom I was meeting for the first time and found my camera disquieting!), I was not blown away by my dish, a poached chicken salad. It was overdressed and the combination of asparagus, avocado and orange slices didn’t complement or enhance each other in any particular way  - some texture or crunch would have been nice to ‘soak up’ the dressing. At least one dish was returned from our table as well. The rest of the meals however did look fantastic and there lots of satisfied lady-like murmurs of appreciation at the table.

Despite that, the birthday cake that was served was absolutely magnificent. Rather than faffing about bringing in a cake, one had been ordered through the cafe (happier for both parties it seems). An orange almond cake was served and it was heavenly. Rich, moist with generous frosting, it was melt in your mouth delicious.  The coffee accompanying it was also very good (but did not leave me yearning the second cup – that’s my ‘test’). So if an escape from the Mosman shops further in the heart of the location is needed an afternoon tea and cake excursion to the cafe could be just the ticket.

Burnt Orange is unhurried and unpretentious.  The wait staff, though young and amusing, were attentive and patient.  We were never ushered out and left to congregate as free as you please.  In fact we had the struggle of dragging everyone from their tables multiple times!

The cafe also boasts a large retail store (and more upstairs that I did not venture to see) of various bric-a-brac and giftware as well as a well stocked foodie specialty store (which I tend to find can be as much about interior decorating than ‘must have’ pantry items).   You can linger to heart’s desire in the complex.

I will certainly be adding to this to my list of places to visit in future particularly with visitors to the city and keep an eye out for the rabbits in the garden - great for kids!  Check out the photos on their website as they do the complex far more justice than my amateur snaps (including the mobile ones!).

Burnt Orange

1108/1109 Middle Head Road

Sydney NSW 2088

(02) 9969 1020

Open Daily 8:30am-5:30pm

Posted via email from Radhika's posterous

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Berry Pancakes with Palm Sugar & Lime - tastes like summer!

By the time I get to the weekend I am emptying the fridge again, turfing out leftovers and ingredients that were consumed over the week. Even the beagles score some leftovers along side their additive-free dog food (humans shouldn't be the only ones to have a weekend breakfast right?).

This morning I was making room for more summer fruit from the markets and a way to tempt a sleeping Mr T out of bed. I resorted to the smell of fresh coffee and pancakes.

He doesn't like maple syrup (along with other strange food preferences) so instead I put the berries in a lime and palm sugar syrup (the latter to cut through the tartness of both the limes and the fruit - comprising of one small shaved tab of palm sugar with a half a lime). By "soak" I mean literally resting in the syrup while I make the pancakes.  Then a dollop of Gippsland yoghurt. Mission accomplished, no waste (score!) and now I can do the grocery shopping without feeling guilty and there's a happy pup who liked the sapasui and rice (samoan chop suey) she had and is now sunbathing!

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Sunday, 16 January 2011

Indian "Fast" Food - When you need Curry in a Hurry!

Sometimes sheer necessity forces you to go back to basics and the lack of grocery shopping this week meant I had to go back to what I knew best. No 'brainer' in the kitchen. And of course that's different for everyone. Much of it I find is embedded in your 'formative' years - including cooking styles!

I started cooking when I was 10-12 - thanks to Home Economics at school we were in the kitchen, got interested and started practicing at home. We were also predominantly vegetarian in our household so for years I had no idea how to cook meat, fish or anything contai ning eggs! (hence my fear of making pavlova!!). Indian food only entered the repertoire from observing my mother. I never cooked an indian meal at my parents' home (leaves me scratching my head now). In fact my mother only ever taught my husband how to make a chicken curry 'from scratch'!  Yet somehow if I must do, I will whip up an indian meal (fiji style) without thinking too much of it. And that's what I had to do when I realised we had managed to not get to the supermarket that week. 

Long live 'convenience' foods - in this case it was lentils (assortment), rice (bless the rice cooker), frozen beans, frozen paneer (cheese, similar to haloumi) and frozen chappatti (roti)! Indian frozen foods have become surprisingly good and I took up the advice of 'subcontinental ladies' who swear by them and stocked up on a trip to Harris Park. The quality is impressive, taste great and at the end of the day are far more interesting than cheese on toast.  I always have spices on hand so the added magic for dhal and curries can be achieved with the simplest of ingredients. Staples for me are cumin seed, coriander seed, mustard seed, good quality garam masala and ground turmeric - everything else is on a needs-basis. Even ground chilli will do well enough when you are simply not in the mood to deal with fresh chillis (and it happens!).Served up was roti, rice, dhall and green b ean & paneer curry (featuring cumin, mustard seeds and finished with cassia bark which was a great addition).  Dhal and rice is traditionally a fast and nutritious deal. The bean & paneer curry took the least (!) amount of time as a soon as the spices are roasted the vegetables can go in, the paneer browned (in the same pan), tinned chopped tomatoes added (add a little sugar to counter the tartness) and you're away.  Fresh coriander leaves would have been fabulous but the cupboard (and fridge) were bare!  Of course in hindsight I realise that the meal was vegetarian but frankly the resident omnivore hadn't even noticed so enamoured by tasty good food was he!

So next time you are in an indian grocer check out the freezer - you will find okra, paneer and stuffed paratha among other delights. Gone are the days of housewives beating their brow over hours spent in the kitchen, Indian women in the workforce has meant better access to convenience foods and I for one am grateful!

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Saturday, 8 January 2011

North Island Road Trip - what's on our itinerary? You decide!

So after a long absence I'm finally returning home to New Zealand at the end of February and I am really excited about the prospect. Thanks to Twitter I've been able to note so many real changes in my old haunt, Auckland. And I want to live and experience it all!  We're heading into Auckland then driving to Tauranga to attend friends' wedding.  After that wraps up the plan is to get to Wellington to see our families and friends.

We're used to driving to Wellington in record time, we did it for six years and got it down to a fine art. I don't want to this time, its my first break since July after a really hectic end to 2010 and I want to take in all the sights, drink lots of coffee, eat great local produce, take lots of photos and meet some tweeps while I'm at it!

Whether you're a local or recently vacationer tell me what you did, saw, tried and would recommend. And really after a couple of years on Twitter, trying to harness some of that magic!  Its easy when its your home to overlook some of the special opportunities because you end up sticking with what you know. I'm counting on you to help me NOT do that!

So the clock starts now... for six weeks I'm going to put together an itinerary of sights and experiences that we can do either en route or to share with the people we're catching up with. Can't wait to hear what you guys recommend! xox

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Friday, 7 January 2011