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Thursday, 30 August 2012

Cusp of Spring

We are on the cusp of spring!! It's so close I can taste it on the wind! Yesterday, I swear I could smell the familiar smokey smell that comes with back-burning (hopefully not actual bush-fires!). Given today's BEAUTIFUL weather I just had to go outside and embrace the change in the air. And since I haven't pranced up and down my driveway for a while, I thought I'd take this opportunity to do so =P.

Top - Target
Skirt - Primark
Shoes - Tony Bianco
Necklace - Backstage
Bracelets - Chiang Mai Markets

There's soooo much stuff I brought back from trip in March which I havent been able to wear as most of it wasnt season appropriate....till now! I've been wanting to wear this skirt for a while, but its been too cold to sport bare legs. A steal at 13 pounds from Primark! And I thought I'd break in my new beloved Tony Bianco's and show you how wonderful they look =)

=D xx

Tony Bianco Karissa

I love these new Tony Biancos I received in the mail last week! I've seen them on a few blogs this year and I caved in and bought a pair when I saw how the trend of strappy sandals grew.

This has to be one of the most elegant and simple pair of shoes I own. And I think one the most good looking on my feet =P.

At first I thought they were high with like no stability whatsoever, but they are quite easy to walk in (except on slippery floors with no friction, which I have trouble being coordinated on regardless =p)

They are high, and make my calves seize up when I walk in them for a long time, but they're so pweeettttyyy =D! Xx

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Milk Bar By Cafe Ish, Redfern

I have never been to Redfern on a Sunday, let alone a weekend. Actually, I hardly ever go to the city on the weekend fullstop. I don't have time to stop and have breakfast at cafes on the days that I work, and the thought of travelling far on my days off just for a bite isn't that appealing. But I've heard ALOT about Cafe Ish when it still operated in Surry Hills, and im filled with regret at never going when it was open. So when I heard that they had started their new business venture, Milk Bar, in Redfern, I knew I had to check it out. And so, one glorious Sunday morning, I found myself with a bunch of friends heading down the relatively deserted streets of Redfern to check Milk Bar out, actually to celebrate the birthday of one of the girls. We got shouted at a couple of times from rowdy passersby in their cars, which is pretty unnerving simply because we are in Redfern =P. I naturally used to get off at Redfern station daily to get to uni, but its pretty different when there's not so many people around....

Anyways, after incorrectly observing the direction in which the street numbers went more than once, traipsing up and down Regent Street like idiots, we finally arrived at Milk Bar! It looks like your average cafe with a relatively small seating area and the service area smack bang in the middle churning out what smells like pure deliciousness. All the tables were full except for one which was perfectly sized for our group of 5 and we were handed our clipboard menus. Having people in our party who've been to Cafe Ish before, and those who religiously check the menu before they go out to eat (i.e. moi) most of us already knew what we wanted haha.

Absolutely LOVED the PB&J Milkshake!! Omggg salted peanut butter ice cream and jam swirls and bits of crushed peanuts....omg I have been craving this ever since. So rich and so thick, I swear it's a meal in itself.

My friend got the other milkshake I had been eyeing - the Miso Caramel Milkshake. I don't really recall what miso tastes like so I thought I'd stick with the safe option. But omg I tasted it and WOW its so caramelly!! Clearly the miso goes well with it!

The food here is much better than I anticipated! I was like, meh chicken wings, might as well go to KFC (which I hate), but WOAH! Ai's Freakin Awesome Chicken Wings are amazing! Its clearly the sauce that makes it. Having read many reviews it looked like foodies reckon the crab sauce is the best, but when we went to order, Josh, one of the owners, told us in the middle of cooking said chicken wings, that the vinegar and shallot sauce was way better and that the "other people don't know shit" hahahahah! Well, I believed him, and it tasted amazing.

I got the House Toast and Jam which was a MASSIVE chunk of sourdough, nothing special.

A couple of girls got the Bacon and Egg Roll and Cheeseburger which looked goooood!! I don't like eating savoury things first thing in the morning, so I'll probs go back to try those out another day.

Having said the above, I just HAD to try the Soft Shell Crab Omelette so I made a small exception, which no surprise was a standout, I was very impressed even though I don't really like egg. But there was soooo much filling I could hardly taste the egg so yay!

We of course over-ordered, since we pretty much got there for brunch and we were all starving. But it was so worth it! I wanted to get some of the tarts and slices they had on offer but I was waaaay too full, so defs on my next visit.


And  another thing, the hospitality of the staff there is so great =). Josh was really nice, made jokes and shit, even posted a pic of us on his Twitter with a funny caption =P. Unfortunatley didnt get to play on the novelty PacMan table which is an EPIC idea, I'm so keen to go back!!

Milk Bar by Cafe Ish
105 Regent St
Redfern NSW 2016
Ph: (02) 9000 0000

Milk Bar By Cafe Ish on Urbanspoon

=D xx

Monday, 27 August 2012

Zoya Ivanka

A while ago I posted up about Zoya Charla, a gorgeous glittery cross between aqua and blue depending on the lighting, which reminded me of a mermaid's tail. I got a few more from the same collection of polishes and only now have I got around to wearing some of them. This is Zoya Ivanka, a really nice green glass flecked polish, sorta reminds me of magical forests, all glittery like in Rivendell in Lord of the Rings (I'm so lame I know =P)...I'm absolutely in love with this collection of polishes (Zoya Alegra is also from this collection but I swear my photos don't do it justice!)!

Defs my fav pic! So Glittery!!

=D xx

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Quinoa, An Ancient Grain

Believe it or not, even though I'm a dietitian and you could say I have all the insider info on what's hot and what's not in the food realm, I have not tried quinoa up until now. It's been a widely talked about ancient grain/cereal for about a year or so now - in fact, the year 2013 is officially declared the The International Year of Quinoa by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations! To delve even deeper into its significance, it is known as the Super-Food of South America due to its nutritional whole-ness, and may play a huge role in food security in the future. Exciting!!

Whenever people asked me about quinoa and its health benefits I would say its great, good source of fibre and protein, suitable for coeliacs....and I think it's easy to prepare and tastes good?? How do you cook it you ask? Uhh I think you boil it......?? =P

I'm one of those people where I find it hard to tell people how something is unless I've tried it myself. Even after working in retail for many years now, I still find it hard to tell people how flattering something may look on or how comfortable it is unless I've tried it on. Telling them it looks great on them is an entirely different issue =P. Anyways, I digress. This inability to provide recommendations has lead me to try new things which is great! I guess it just took me a bit of time to jump on the quinoa bandwagon, but I'm glad I finally did!! This stuff tastes great!! It's quite easy to prepare and I think it's incredibly versatile. I tried white quinoa for this recipe, but there is also red and black quinoa which differ a bit in texture and flavour when cooked, and also a bit in nutritional content but they're all very good for you! Actually, there are heaps of varieties of quinoa but these three are the most widely cultivated and consumed, and cook very well.

I've heard people say that they find it quite bland, but I think it's all up to preparation. I mean, boiled plain rice can taste bland, so you need to season and flavour it properly. Or eat it with something else.

Quinoa is prepared very similarly to rice - about 2 parts water for every 1 part of quinoa, boil/cook over medium/high heat with the lid on until the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid (about 25 minutes for 1 cup quinoa). Just a tip, I think by roasting the quinoa in the pan for about 5-10 minutes before letting it cook can really enhance its flavour. I prepared my first batch of quinoa with a bit of garlic and onions, and used low sodium, low fat vegetable stock instead of water to cook it, which really added flavour to it.

If you've never tried quinoa before (and really like garlic like me =P) this recipe is a great starting point. Rena Paten's 'Cooking with Quinoa' has some great ideas and recipes, using the many forms of quinoa (grain, flake and flour). I recently borrowed this from my local library and I can't wait to try some recipes from it =D. Another really good book is Quinoa 365 by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming - great reviews, got my copy on order form Book Depository!

Quinoa is available at most supermarkets and health food stores.

Garlic Quinoa

1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed well
1 tbsp chopped garlic (or less =p)
1 small white onion, chopped
2 cups low sodium vegetable stock (or any other low sodium stock)

1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion to pan and sautée for about 4 minutes.

2. Add quinoa to the pan and toast for about 5-10 minutes, making sure the garlic and onions don't burn and that the quinoa doesn't get too brown.

3. Stir in stock and reduce to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender.

4. Once cooked, serve quinoa on its own or with a dash of lemon. Great for a snack or as an accompaniment to savoury dishes :)

I cooked this again a few days ago and added some pine nuts and dried herbs which just elevated it even more! I toasted the pine nuts separately and added then afterwards but I think it's fine to toast them along with the quinoa. I also added the dried herbs before simmering, but again I'm sure you can add it afterwards.

Enjoy =D xx

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Darbar Fine Indian Cuisine, Glebe

I haven't been to many Indian restaurants in Sydney, but I am keen to try a few, especially those like Aki's, Delhi O' Delhi or Malabar, which are well known amongst both critics and humble foodies. My friends and I went to one a few weeks ago (actually it was just after I came back from Sri Lanka....sooo yea I'm falling behind on my posts =P), Darbar Fine Indian Cuisine in Glebe.

Darbar is actually situated further up Glebe Point Road than where we normally dine (We seem to be finding some really nice places to eat on this particular road!), in what looks to be an old wine cellar or club of some sort. I love that it's tucked away into this semi-underground location, it gives it a different spin on what can seem like unfriendly, sterile and uncharacteristic places some Indian eateries are situated in. After having a look at their website I realise they have a downstairs private function room, and upstairs is actually quite large as well. They've decorated it nicely to, with nice wall hangings and decorations, it actually verges of on the look of grand Indian homes during the times of British colonisation. Actually, its sorta like a cross between Indian and Middle Eastern of some sorts. Either way, I like it because its cosy and atmospheric.

The food is equally as nice as the decor, with an array of dishes to chose from on the menu. I just love going to restaurants (especially those with promise) with a whole bunch of people, especially my high school chums, who I swear have never ending stomachs =P. That way we get to sample alot of the dishes and make the most of a large menu.

Vegetable Samosas - Spiced green peas, onions and mixed vegetables wrapped in a thin pastry and deep fried

Darbar Chat - Crisped spinach tossed together with potato and chickpeas topped with a raita and mint sauce

Garlic Naan

Roganjosh Punjabi - Traditional lamb/beef curry prepared with Kashmiri red chillies and flavoured with black cardamon and various other spices 

Butter Chicken - Tandoori Grilled chicken simmered
in spiced butter, fenugreek, kasoori methi leaves,
and masala gravy with a touch of honey and pepper.

Saffron Basmati Rice 

Chicken Tikka Masala - Pieces of chicken cooked in tandoor and simmered in angar sauce along with capsicum and onion

Aloo Gobi Methi Ka Tuk - A blend of Potatoes, Cauliflower, Fresh Green Peas and Fenugreek tempered with cumin and dry chilies.

A mix of Plain Roti and Cheese Naan

Everything was reaaaally yummy, which I was pleasantly surprised about (Minus the butter chicken which I've never been a big fan of). What really surprised me was the Darbar Chat, something I never would have chosen myself. I really liked the crispy spinach and potato bits and loved the contrast against the sweet raita. Very interesting dish =). The only thing I'd probably criticise is the service. Our waitress was quite nice, however it did take a bit of time for the food to come out, and because of where we were seated, we weren't attended to as much as we had hoped. Even to get the bill settled we had to go out of our way. But, it's a minor thing, I'm not a huge stickler for these sorts of things and I was in a good mood that night haha ;).

Having filled up on delish curries, and since we are not big fans of heavy Indian desserts we made the short trek down the road to San Churros. Hot (white) chocolate and churros, perfect end for a cold winters night =).

Darbar Fine Indian Cuisine
134 Glebe Point Road
Glebe, NSW 2037
Ph: (02) 9660 5666

Darbar Fine Indian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

=D xx

Monday, 20 August 2012

Polenta Batons

Something I love to make when I have the day off and im chillin at home, is polenta! Its tastes amazing, its very filling and it's actually quite versatile. It can take a while to make, but what I do is make a large batch, spread it into a pan, let it set in the fridge and then I can cut it up into pieces which can be easily pan-fried. In essence, I make Polenta Batons =). It's actually quite nice eaten wet as well (I believe I've blogged about this before)

I've been told that the slow-cooking polenta is much more tastier, but seriously who has to time to sit in front of a stove and stir cornmeal for 2 hours these quick-cooking (instant) polenta is good enough for me!
Like I said, its heaps easier if you make a huge batch when you have some time. I love this recipe because you can add stuff to it ad lib - this time around I added bits of bacon, oregano and caramelised onions. Tasted sooo good, mum stole half of mine and hence I tell you all to make a big batch haha.

Polenta Batons
Recipe adapted from Masterchef
500ml Chicken stock
500ml water
1 cup instant polenta
Oil, for frying (don't need that much)

Additional things I added (Optional)
1/2 cup cooked bacon
1 onions, chopped, caramelised
1 tbsp oregano

1. Bring stock and water to the boil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Slowly pour in polenta in a steady stream, stirring continuously until mixture thickens and boils. Continue cooking polenta, stirring for a further 10 minutes.

2. Add in additional ingredients (in this case bacon, oregano, onion), stir until combined. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the saucepan to prevent the polenta burning and sticking to the pan.

3. Pour polenta into a greased 2cm deep rectangular slice pan and refrigerate until firm and set. When polenta is firm, remove from tin and cut into 10 cm x 2cm long batons.

4. Heat oil in a frying pan. Cook polenta for 1-2 minutes or until crisp and golden; drain on absorbent paper towel. ALTERNATIVELY you can grill them on a grill pan without oil (still tastes great!)

I had some with pork schnitzel and salad aswell - tasted amazing!
Oh and a good glass of red =D

Enjoy =D xx

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Berra

A couple of weeks ago my friend and I made the trek down to good old Ozzy Capital Territory. We have a couple of friends living down in Canberra at the moment and it's only a 3 hour drive, so why not? Plus, my friend is leaving to go to China for like 1/2 a year, so it was great to spend some time with her before she left.

We had a great couple of days down there, just chilling, going out, eating and catching up with friends, old and new. Quite a good break from reality :). Canberra is like a sleepy little laid back town, the population of which I grossly underestimated after going out at night and seeing more people out and about than I've ever seen on the streets during the day (whenever I've been at least :P). Actually, up until our mini-road trip, I'd only been down the main street which leads to the Parliament House, and the little off road that leads to Questacon haha. So it was great to get a look at urban life in Canberra even if it was only for a couple of days.

We stayed out our friends house so we were treated to excellent homely hospitality, complete with their own rustic fireplace :D. Absolutely loved chilling there, warming our toes while we drank nice french wine and chowed down on takeout.

Remnants of a night of divine French wine,
cheese and other nibbles

We were also privy to our friends weekly soccer game, where we were treated to the coldest wind that chilled us to the bone, a bit of rain, unfortunately no bathroom in sight, but also a lovely rainbow :). And nothing better than after game drinks and nibbles at their local club.

On our second day there we went to this awesome cafe for breakfast - Tilley's. It is a HUGE cafe with both an indoor and alfresco seating areas, and it really gives off a homely, friendly and lively vibe. It was packed, even at 11, which can only be a testament to the delish food, or even just cafe culture in this little town. It was great to see so many people having breakfast on a lazy Sunday morning at what clearly seems to be a local institution, something I don't see very often in Sydney.

It was here I decided to try the interesting combination of bacon and maple which I have contemplating doing for some time now. And I was not disappointed! Absolutely love the combination of sweet, salty and savoury, and the pancakes went so well with it. Mmmm I polished off the whole plate, can't wait to try that combination again :D.

Sundred Tomato Panini with Chips
Pumpkin Soup

Hash Browns
Orange Juice

Everyone else got some interesting dishes as well, that smelt and looked amazing. I only wish I could find a place like that over here, or better yet, if I could have stayed a couple of more days to try out the rest of their menu.

A random cafe we went to for breakfast on
our last morning

Strawberry French Toast

As a last minute decision we decided to give good ol Questacon a visit haha. For those who don't know, Questacon is pretty much like an interactive museum of science and technology, a place where I think every child completing their 5th or 6th year of primary school will inevitably go to :P. Each exhibit contains displays which are for the most part interactive, in an attempt to impart knowledge on children in a more fun and amusing way. I don't remember learning much on my last visit to Questacon, which was mildly more exciting than this one :P. But to the credit of the government, I think it is an interesting and fun way to get children more interested in science. 

The bottom left is  really interesting way of demonstrating a frequency distribution
(how nerdy =P), and to the right is the awesome 6 metre slide!

The best part is the last exhibit which has the huge slide which - you actually have to hang off a bar about 6 meters off the ground, where you let go and land on a metal slide (ergonomically engineered so you don't hurt your ass on the way down :P). Its quite the mini adrenalin rush in my opinion haha.

Entry stamp for Questacon!

I have to say I didn't feel like leaving on Monday arvo :( the weather was beautiful, the air clean and crisp, and I knew I would miss the calm, relative quite of this semi-rural town. But I have to say getting there and back was defs half the fun. The scenery you pass, the conversations you have and the pit-stops you make are seriously worth a road-trip to anywhere :D.

=D xx
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