A thing of beauty is a joy forever – Keats

The beauty fades though memories of it never 🙂

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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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No idea

no IDEA

A day out at Mogo Zoo

Visiting the zoo is not my favourite thing to do, perhaps attributed to the traumatic zoo-experiences I have had when I was a little kid. I was once blessed with warm and gooey avian poop walking under a tree at the zoo. You can tell the situation, which happened twenty years ago,  left a disastrous imprint in my memory because I can still remember that I was drinking a Fanta and eating some dried pork meatballs (a wonderful Chinese snack that you can only get in China). Then there was the incident of me falling into a lily pond at the zoo. For some bizarre reason, I thought that I could jump across the lily pond that didn’t seem too wide when older kids crossed it, only to discover that it was indeed too wide for me.

So going to Mogo Zoo was clearly not my idea, I was full of skepticism, only alleviated by the fact that it is famous for its exotic species. But it turned out that it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, complete with deer feeding and sighting of unusual animal behaviour.

IMG_1767the real zoo animals

IMG_1753 Red panda slumped on the tree branch, sticking out his tongue.

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‘You looking at me?’ says the meerkat.

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The little (sorry forgot your name) monkey was obsessed with cucumber, and cucumber only.

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haha sucker, there’s no lolly down here …

… only a big fat stinky fart for you!

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The cute little otters that stuck together no matter what, and wouldn’t go into the water!

The day wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the beach and some awesome feeds (for us, that is) – clicky here.

1. I’ve come to realise that my last kiss… was much too hasty, lovers’ kisses are meant to be savored. 2. I am listening to… the sound of the CPU and the humdrum of daily suburbia. 3. I talk… to the hairdresser like we were old friends, but I’ve only met him twice. 4. I love… your Chelsea shirt. 5. My best friend…organised a party for me because I was coming back to Brisbane and is supposedly making my favouraite dish : ) 6. My first real kiss…is a haze, not because it was so memorable that I was falling head over heels, but because I really cannot remember. 7. Love is…something that is neither sweet nor bitter nor bitter sweet. 8. Marriage is…a little far away. 9. Somewhere, someone is …having more sleep than I did today. 10. I’ll always…remember and cherish the happiest moments together; and every ounce of your smiles. 11. The last time I really cried was because…I thought I had no choice, but do I? 12. My cell phone…is an artefact before the days of Blackberry’s and iPhones, a splurge of $100 from eBay. 13. When I wake up in the morning...I always snuggle up to you before I take a shower. 14. Before I go to bed…I wonder if I will dream tonight. 15. Right now I am thinking about…you. 16. Babies are…overrated, but apparently attractive to adults due to the forces of life. 17. I get on Facebook…to keep up with my friends in Brisbane. 18. Today I…am making spicy chicken with peanuts. 19. Tomorrow I will be…more like me. 20. I really want to be…HAPPY, or is it happier?