Eating our way around Sydney

IMG_2006Macarons from Adriano Zumbo Patisserie

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the best places to satisfy your tummy are concentrated in Sydney and Melbourne, and since I live in neither of these two cities, it is highly unsatisfying to learn about wonderful places to eat and not being able to visit them.

Thus, a dinner booking in Aria at Circular Quay to celebrate our 18 months spiralled into a culinary journey (ok, it was more like a pigging out expedition) to experience what the rest of Sydney had to offer. Aria and Matt Moran, were, of course, the reason that we were in Sydney in the first place, but I took the opportunity to satiate my thirst for Adriano Zumbo’s baked goods at Balmain, taste the delicious ramen from Gumshara in Haymarket, and revisit the wonderfully authentic crispy-skinned chicken at Cabramatta. I don’t know how we managed to fit all those food in, and I am pretty sure that I have packed on a couple more kilos from this trip.

So here goes, loads of pictures and my reviews to make you drool!

Aria

The availability of a booking on the weekends is almost non-existent. We managed to secure a booking at 9pm (yes, 9pm!) for dinner.  We obviously lacked some foresight in making plans, and wondered aimlessly around Sydney CBD and the Rocks area for what seemed like forever in order to kill time. The anticipation and hunger were truly built up as we walked towards Aria at 8:50pm, not wanting to waste any more time.

Aria is very much like a small hotel reception as you walk through its heavy doors. A waiter stood behind a very simple counter and asked for our booking. A short corridor on our right leads to the main dining areas, which are divided into what I call the ‘important people area’ and the ‘newbie area’. The former would have had sweeping harbour views and easy sighting of the Opera House. The latter had glimpses of the harbour, but more like an upper deck area of those alfresco cafes dotted along Circular Quay. In case you were wondering, we were seated at the newbie area.

Seating aside, the food was truly amazing, and the service was near-meticulous. We started with an amuse-bouche, which I think was a carrot soup of some kind. This was both sweet and sour, which acted as a great appetite starter. Oh, I should mention at this point that the restaurant was very naughty with its lighting, so my pictures all had to be photoshoped, but they were done to the best of my ability and as close to the true colours of the dishes as possible.

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We were then served sourdough, and had a choice of either the roll or the slice. A very nice touch! The mains arrived quickly, I ordered the roasted trevalla with glazed witlof, chestnut mushrooms, white beans and a chicken jus, and Ben had the sirloin which was not on the menu, and I have totally forgotten how it was done. But suffices to say that the steak was cooked to perfection, and the sauce (what was that sauce?!) was most amazing. We also shared a side of truffled potato mash. The mash simply blew me away – it was extremely smooth, creamy, with a little bit of garlic, and tinged with a smokiness from the truffle oil. Granted, it was probably made with artificial truffle oil judging by the price, but the mash was excellent nonetheless.

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Although Aria is one of the top restaurants in the country, I did have a complaint to make about the trevalla. It was a beautiful piece of fish, but it was just a tad over cooked in an oven with the temperature set too high. This almost blackened the skin and left a bitter aftertaste. Together with the witloaf which was also a little bitter, the dish didn’t really go down that well. A little disappointing, especially after the crap that judges give to the contestants on Masterchef about overcooking fish, and they didn’t even burn the fish!

The desserts were good though. I’m not usually a chocolate slice/cake/tart fan, but just had to get the Valrhona chocolate delice with chocolate sorbet (because they made it on Masterchef!), and Ben ordered the mango cheese cake with ginger crumble, lime jelly and mango sorbet. The chocolate tart came out looking exactly the one I saw on TV, and was extremely satisfying. Ben’s cheesecake was more of a deconstructed cake, the ‘cheese’ bit sits on the plate, and the ‘base’ part is the ginger crumble, which are truly ‘crumbled’ around the ‘cheese’ part. It tasted quite refreshing after my rich chocolate tart. But for some reason Ben didn’t particularly like the mango cheese cake.

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Adriano Zumbo Patisserie

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Going to the patisserie was the result of a special request made by me. I was eager to experience the creations of this master of desserts. I think Ben was a bit unconvinced at first, but he walked away saying that it was the best cake he’s ever had. Point proven 🙂

So what was this ultimate cake for Ben? It’s called “Amanda Made the Cut” and consists of, ok wait for it….milk passion caramel mousse, lime creme, passionfruit marshmallow, coconut crunch and brownie! Sounds super delicious? You bet it was! (it also sounds super difficult to make)

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Amanda Made the Cut $7.90

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I managed to capture the remains of Amanda Made the Cut before it disappeared for good.

Unfortunatley, I didn’t take any pictures of our meals at Cabramatta, but here are more pictures of the other meals we in Sydney, including ramen at Gumshara Ramen (Haymarket).

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Hanging out with friends in Brisbane!

I was in Brisbane for work, stayed an entire week, but it somehow felt like I’ve only stayed a weekend. Waaaay too short!

Just some pictures of hanging (pigging) out with friends 🙂

Enjoying some after-dinner drinks at Sunnybank!

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Bing shouted me lunch @ Port Office Hotel. Yummy fish and chips (last pic). Thanks Bing!

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Shanghai Dumpling Cafe – link

I know that not everyone who reads this blog reads my other one on Canberra restaurants. I don’t normally do this, but I have discovered a Shanghainese restaurant in Canberra that has just made my day. So if you ever come to Canberra, or live in Canberra, definitely give it a go!

I munna eat chu lil fishy!

It’s funny how I never used to pay much attention to my parents’ 150 litre fish tank with an abundance of various types of goldfish. When it comes to our new 20 litre fish tank that is now home to two shubunkins and two mystery snails, I am transfixed.

Meet Ken Watanabe and Utada Hikaru. Ben thought that since they were Japanese shubunkins, they deserved Japanese names – except that Ken Watanabe is super dumb, eating everthing in sight, including the white gravels (but he spits them out obviously). We may have also confused the sexes, as they could both be male for all we know. Sorry Utada.

The mystery snails are another matter altogether. Those seemingly docile creatures move at an amazing speed across the tank. They are nifty little gadgets, as they both clean the tank and are able to tell you when there’s something wrong with the water. They do the latter by closing their little ‘trap doors’ so that water does not get in. Unfortunately, my camera was too fixated with the fishes to capture those amazing little things.

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Buyer feedback: 100%

When Cleopatra dissolved one of her pearl earrings in a glass of vinegar and proceeded to drink the mixture in front of Mark Antony, she created a paradigm to the phrase ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’.

Some two thousand years later, although it was no precious pearl earring, Pierre Omidyar sold a broken laser pointer online to a guy that collected broken laser pointers. And so it became the eBay avant la lettre, and as they say, the rest is history.

Hello, my name is Shirley, and I am an eBay addict.

It all started with a harmless pair of shoes, those sparling pretty things,  exactly my size, for a fraction of the retail. I blame the trick photography and the seller’s gift with words.

Then it was an amazing Alannah Hill sequined silk skirt, a limited release many seasons ago, impossible to find in the shops, and would have costed more than $400 in retail. It was a bargain for $150.

Another pair of earrings and some Seinfeld DVDs later, I was hooked.

But hang on, if you are waiting to hear a sob story of how a girl had filled up her house with useless things from eBay and spent all her money on redundant things, then you’d be disappointed, because, I was, what I would call, a discerning buyer.

I never bought those so-claimed designer labels on eBay, as it is just so easy to sell counterfeits online. I always bid the highest price I was willing to pay, and never once regretted the price I paid. I would never buy an item if the postage was exorbitantly high, that’s an indication of an amateur seller or someone who is trying to rip people off. And, of course, the seller’s feedback is also important. Proof that I’m not reckless? A quick check of my eBay feedback counts only 108 buying transactions since March 2002. That’s not so bad is it?

Hmmmm I really need a pair of dangling pearl earrings…