Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hunter Valley Easter Weekend

Last weekend was the long Easter weekend, which meant a total of 4 days off work! There need to be more of these types of weekends... I decided that Frankie and I should go away for the weekend and to go to the hunter valley cause we both hadn't been there for ages.

As you can see it was quite cold that weekend and luckily I had my big comfy jumper. We stopped outside Peterson's Champagne House (which was closed) which has the best champagne ever. We went there the next day and bought a few bottles. The place was packed though.

We then stopped at Tempus Two, which was huge. They were doing helicopter flights too.

After going to as many wineries as we could squeeze into 2 hours (that were open on good Friday) we headed to our lovely accommodation at thistle hill. The grounds were beautiful and our hosts were very lovely too. I had a bit of a headache when we got there and she brought out a pot of peculated coffee and panadol for us. Very nice indeed.

They even had a pet kangaroo Chloe! She was blind and had been living at the grounds for years.

She was knocking her head against the door cause it was dinner time!

On Saturday we got up early and had a beautiful breakfast which was provided at the guesthouse. We then got going for a day of wine sampling! I am not sure how many wineries we visited, or bottles of wine we bought, but it was a lot! We hadn't booked anywhere for lunch, and soon found out that we should have. So when it got to about 2:30 we decided that we would just go to the smelly cheese company and get some cheeses and other things to eat back at the guesthouse with the free bottle of wine and cheese platter we were also given.

Gruyere Cheese, yum!

Frankie being artistic...look how green and beautiful the grounds are!

Our feast for lunch

Trying to open the cheese!

We also got some smoked trout which was beautiful!

After that Frankie rang around a few restaurants to book a late dinner. We then had a long nap to rejuvenate ourselves...

Frankie managed to book a place called "Splash at the Vineyards Estate" which was a lovely seafood restaurant on the same road as us. So we drove out of thistle hill and turned left onto hermitage road when we realised we should have turned right. Passed our guesthouse and then realised it was like 200 metres up the road! The driveway was really long and dark though, so luckily we didn't walk.

They had a 2 course for $55 or 3 course for $65 option, so we went for the 3 courses! I wasn't that hungry after our late lunch so stuck to things that weren't too heavy on the carbs.

Oysters w/ Splash Patrick

I love oysters any way and hadn't had kilpatrick for a while, so decided to get these. The oyster were beautiful and plump! Glad I chose this!

Grilled Parmesan and Mixed Herb Scallops w/ a White Wine and Shallot Sauce

Frankie went with the scallops which were beautifully presented and very tasty.

Seafood Medley in Marinara Sauce

This was so good and had heaps of seafood in it. Because it came with slices of bread instead of pasta, it meant that more seafood could be added! It had muscles, calamari, prawns, scallops, pipis, and crab (which i was given all these utensils to eat it with). I think it had pancetta in it also. Very good.

Parmesan Crusted Veal w/ mash potato and seasonal vegetables

Frankie went with the theme of Parmesan and ordered this. How huge is it. Very good for the price i think.

Triple Belgian Chocolate Pudding w/ chocolate sauce and chocolate ice cream

I don't think they could have added any more chocolate to this! Talk about getting a chocolate fix. This was very good, not as good as the one I had at Bistro Lilly, but still very good.

Caramelised Apple Tart w/ Honey Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream

This was very good as well.

We even got a free bottle of wine at the end of the meal to take home with us which was awesome. Very good service too, although we ordered our dessert at the start of the meal, we were asked twice after our main course if we wanted dessert.... still very good.

It was such a lovely weekend and something I would love to do more often, although I don't think my bank account would allow for that...

Thistle Hill Guest House
591 Hermitage Road

Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop
3/188 Broke Road

Splash at the Vineyard Estate
555 Hermitage Road

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Superbowl Dixon

Last thursday I met up with Frankie to have a late dinner. It was about 11:30pm so we decided to go to chinatown, cause there isn't too much else open at that time. We went to superbowl after my birthday a couple weeks ago, and it was pretty good and open late, so we headed there.

It was pretty packed, but there was one table for two outside which we were able to grab! A waiter came up pretty quickly to take our order, but we weren't ready yet, which meant quite a while until another waiter came...

Pipis in XO Sauce

Pipis seem to be the popular dish in Chinatown. They are quite small things, but you get heaps and heaps in a serving. The flavour is quite unique too, i can't really compare it to another dish. It's quite spicy but the heat doesn't linger. Lots of people here order fried bread too, which would be good to soak up all the sauce!

Pork Ribs Pekingese Style

Oh my god these were so good. So sweet and sticky and crispy. You know how sometimes when things are fried and then put in sauce they start to go soggy on the outside? Well these weren't like that at all. I would recommend this dish for sure.

I can't remember what the prices were, but the pipis are on market price (which i think was about $22 that night).

At about midnight we noticed the queues of people waiting for tables, it was amazing!

Crowds of people

Frankie with a Pipi!

Superbowl Dixon Street
Dixon Street
Chinatown, Sydney

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Bistro Lilly

It was my birthday last Wednesday, so Frankie had organised a surprise dinner for me! He met me at my place and then we caught a cab into the city.

While looking for a place to organise his work Christmas party he stumbled across this place and remembered it for future reference. They do a 5 course degustation for $63 and $98 with matching wines. We of course went with the matching wines! Frankie had also planned to take me to see the Idan Raichel Project (which is part of the world music event that the opera house have going) at 8pm so we had to keep an eye on the time.

Luckily for us we were the only ones in the restaurant! Being 6pm on a wednesday night I didn't think there would be many people, but to have no one else it was great. It was like our own private dining room. So of course the service was attentive, but you could also see the waiter lingering around not sure what to do and it was an open kitchen (which i was facing), so I could see the chef just standing there sometimes staring out into space...

This is the menu, which you can't really read! I tried photographing it on different angles, but this was the best that i could do. First up we were given an amuse bouche.

Amuse Bouche

As you can see it's an oyster. I can't really remember what the vinegarette was on top of it, but it had something red in it! It was very nice, but i wanted another one, but then i guess an amuse bouche is just one mouthful.. This came with a beautiful glass of Champagne (Grandin Classique Brut) which i looked up and found it's only 15 bucks a bottle retail. I will definitely be looking out for this in the bottle shops.

Soft Shell Crab

Second course was fresh queensland soft shell crab with nuoc cham. This was delicious. Perfectly cooked with the right amount of batter. I had never had soft shell crab up until a few weeks ago, and am annoyed i was missing out all these years... We had it the other night from Sushi Samurai though and it wasn't very good, the batter was very very thick which prevented the shell of the crab becoming crispy... so if you go there don't order the crab. This dish was accompanied with a glass of 2006 Leuwin Estate Dry White Wine.

Veal Tenderloin w/ King prawn, Roma Kasaundi, and Beetroot Essence

This was good but nothing special. The potato crisps on the top were terribly hard to eat as well. I thought mine were going to go flying across the room when i tried to cut it. This was served with a glass of 2006 Cartwheel Chardonnay.

Roast Duck Tortellini w/ Pancetta, Chilli, Peas and Sage

The last of our savoury courses was a pasta dish. Again this was quite good, but nothing that made me want to eat plates and plates of it. You couldn't really tell that it was roast duck inside the pasta casings either. This came with a glass of Pikes Sangiovese.

Yucatan Chocolate Pudding w/ Stratacella and drunken chocolate sauce

This was by far the best dish of the night! Oh it was so good. I polished this off in no time. Chocolate puddings would have to be the best dessert ever, especially when they are hot and gooey inside and you have really cold good ice cream to go with it. This was served with a really nice glass of baileys of glenrowan aged muscat. Sticky wine is so so good.

Even though there were 5 courses we didn't feel that full after. If the dessert had been some sorbet or something i would have still been hungry. They didn't give us any bread or anything either which i thought was strange. Bread would have been good.

Frankie xx

One lucky girl!

Bistro Lilly
Observatory Tower
168 Kent Street
Sydney NSW

Ph: 9252 1116

Friday, March 7, 2008

Mu Kung Hwa

Last friday Frankie and I ventured into Glebe again and this time we actually made it to the Korean restaurant that I had been wanting to go to for ages. I have been watching the tv series on SBS called Food Safari and the week before the show had focused on Korean Food, so I was very keen to check this place out.

As we were walking down Glebe Point Road I was noticing that all the restaurants were pretty full and was hoping that we would be able to get a table at the restaurant. The restaurant itself is in this old 2 storey house which doesn't look like the typical housing for a restaurant. We walked in and there were only 2 other tables that were occupied, so we got a table easily!

There was the choice of going with the a la carte menu or 2 different banquets. The first one was $22 and the second one was $24, the first one included dolsot bibimbap, which I had been wanting to try, so we went with that. $22 is pretty good for a banquet i reckon!

One thing about this restaurant is the service. The lady that was our waitress was the cutest, nicest waitress ever and very informative.

Our first entree to come out was the Jap Chae, which is stir fried glass noodles with vegetables. This was oh so good. I could have kept eating this all night. It seems quite easy to make too, so I will have to try it one day. One thing that they said on the food safari is that korean food uses a lot of sesame oil and sesame seeds, and this was proof of that. You could really taste the sesame oil and it worked really well with the dish.

Frankie with his chopsticks!

Then out came the dumplings! These were really good also. The filling was like the filling in gyoza, which i love, so it was very tasty. It was good that this came out after we finished the Jap Chae, which meant that all the dumplings were still hot when we ate them rather than them getting cold.

How huge does that wine glass look!


This didn't come out with the raw egg in the middle of it or all of the vegetables that i saw on the food safari one, but it was still really good. I like it how the rice at the bottom goes all crunchy so you have different textures when eating it. I guess it's like the korean fried rice when it's all mixed together.

These were the plates that we were given for our main course. How colourful are they! Our waitress told us that the plates represented 7 living things, or something like that. They were pretty cool anyway. I wonder where they got them from....


Also with our bibimbap came bulgogi. Bulgogi is made from thin strips of beef marinated with soy sauce, garlic, sugar and other stuff. It's so good and so tender. I always can eat heaps of it when i go to korean bbqs.

Also with our main meals came the traditional side dishes also known as banchan.

Kim Chi

The most widely known banchan. I love kim chi and always have a tub of it in my fridge. This was nice and hot just how I like it.

Gam-Ja - Braised Potatoes

Cucumber Salad

This was very good. Nice and cold and sweet.

Lotus Root

This was my favourite! I have never had this before. It was very sweet and sticky, it was great.

We also got some steamed rice and were told that if we wanted any of the side dishes replenished then to just ask.

We also got some miso soup

This is our lovely waitress, she was really cool

I recommend this place to anyone wanting to try korean food around the glebe area. So cheap and so good. It's BYO as well. We will be back. They also do bbq banquets, but i think you need a minimum of 4 people for that.

Mu Kung Hwa
36 Glebe Point Road

Ph: 9660 0744

Open Mon - Sat Lunch and Dinner