Brunching at the Balmoral Boathouse

Brunching at the Balmoral Boathouse

Sydney has been spoiled as of late, so one sun-drenched Saturday H and I decided we’d venture over to Balmoral for a drive. Having heard much about the Balmoral Boathouse (from the same creators of the restaurant at Palm Beach), I thought it’d be a lovely spot to enjoy the sunshine.

Balmoral Boathouse

We found a parking spot a fair trek away from the restaurant, but we didn’t mind as it was such a lovely day. The Boathouse was tucked away at the far end of the Esplanade. From the outside, it looks quaint and relaxing, but as soon as you step inside you soon discover that looks can be very deceiving. It was a bit challenging to find a spot to sit. It seemed most of Sydney had the same idea. We ordered our food first before finding a side table with a couple of stools.

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A couple of beers and ciders made the wait a little more enjoyable. I won’t lie to you, food did take a while to arrive. I wasn’t complaining as the view from the pier was just spectacular. It was fun to just relax and people watch for a while.

Balmoral Boathouse

H ordered the beer battered fish fillets with fries. They came out so golden and crunchy with a good serve of house-made tartare sauce. The crunch factor was a definite winner . The fish was moist and fresh.

Balmoral Boathouse

I couldn’t resist the prawn roll, which was served on skewers and accompanied by a lightly toasted brioche roll. One half was topped with cilantro and avocado, and the other with a light coleslaw-esque salad. A squeeze of lemon later, the flavours were absolutely perfect together.

Balmoral Boathouse

I loved the rustic interiors. They had tables of pretty plants and flowers. And if you know me, I’m such a sucker for greenery and gorgeous blooms. The desserts were hard to resist, displayed prominently at the front counter. There was a repurposed ladder shelf that served as the kitchen’s pantry  nearby. Everything seemed  so effortless and shabby chic. It did wonders to bring together the whole experience – sights, sounds, tastes – with such uniformity.

Balmoral Boathouse

Balmoral Boathouse

Balmoral Boathouse

We got over the crowds by the end of our meal, so H and I ordered dessert to go. We spotted a nice shady place to sit near the beach, so we ordered a tiramisu to go and ventured outside. There were quite a few people  enjoying the sunshine. It was really one of those amazing, laid-back Sydney days.

Balmoral Boathouse

Balmoral Boathouse

The tiramisu was topped with vanilla ice cream and was presented in a cute mason jar. It had the perfect balance of saltiness and bitterness, and treaded the line more towards a light mocha flavour.

Balmoral beach

Balmoral beach

Besides the crowds, it was the perfect Sydney day out. I’m not sure if I’d return on a sunny weekend. Potentially a weekday with wishful thinking that 100 jillion other Sydney-siders don’t have the same idea.

BALMORAL BOATHOUSE
2 The Esplanade
Balmoral Beach NSW 2088
(02) 9974 5440

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Recipe: Cinnamon buns

Recipe: Cinnamon buns

I’ve had a few requests for my cinnamon bun recipe after posting some I made for a friend’s house warming up on Instagram.

To tell you the truth I’ve tried many recipes, but not until recently did I settle on one. It was accidental really. I had buttermilk from a snickers cake I really wanted to try to make (and still do). It was expiring soon so I decided to whip up something relatively quick and easy (well, more so than the crazy snickers cake I aspired to bake).

Anyway, here’s the recipe I keep coming back to time and time again. They produce roughly 60 small fluffy cinnamon rolls.

photo 5

Cinnamon buns (makes approx 60 small rolls)
Ingredients
14g of active dry yeast (you can buy them in 7g sachets at Coles/Woolies)
¼ cup of warm water
1½ cups of buttermilk
½ cup of vegetable oil (I used canola)
4½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
½ a teaspoon of baking soda
½ cup of butter, melted
1¼ cups of brown sugar

1½ teaspoons of ground cinnamon

Procedure
  1. Put the yeast into a large bowl, and dissolve in warm water. Leave this for ten minutes until it becomes creamy.
  2. Heat the buttermilk until it is just warm to the touch. Be careful not to let it boil! Take the oil and the warm buttermilk and pour into the yeast mixture to combine. cinnamon buns
  3. In another bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking soda. Stir the flour mixture into the liquid one cup at a time until a dough forms.
  4. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead all the lumps out. No need to knead it that much at this stage.
  5. Place it back into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let it rest for 10 minutes. It should look like this:cinnamon buns
  6. Now to make the cinnamon spread – in another bowl, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.cinnamon buns
  7. Take a quarter portion of your dough, place it onto a lightly floured surface and roll out into a large rectangle. I press it out into the rectangle shape I want then roll it out with a rolling pin.
  8. Take the cinnamon mix and spread it evenly onto the rectangle of dough you just rolled out. Roll it up into a log (I like more swirls, so I roll from the shorter side), and be sure to pinch the ends to secure it all in place.
  9. Slice the log into 2.5 cm pieces and place cut side up onto baking paper. Make sure you leave enough space between each roll as they will expand! Depending on how fluffy you want them you can leave them to rest overnight. (I’m too impatient for that so I bake it almost immediately!).Cinnamon buns
  10. Bake them in a 200°C oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown and a lot of gooey! They may not look very attractive when they come out of the oven, but trust me, they will taste amazing!photo 3 copy

I like to top them with some cream cheese icing, which is super simple to whip up whilst your buns are in the oven baking. I just find a generic recipe like this one with butter, icing sugar, Philly cream cheese and vanilla essence. If you wanted to be super fancy you could use some vanilla bean. But either will work!

Enjoy! Xx

Shepherd’s pie with cheesy truffle mash

Shepherd’s pie with cheesy truffle mash

H and I were faced with a dilemma last week – deciding what to do with some beef mince we had frozen a few weeks ago. Initially we had decided on nachos, but after realising I had some potatoes in the pantry, I searched around for a shepherd’s pie recipe. Now I realise traditional shepherd’s pie calls for lamb mince, but I didn’t think beef would hurt much.

I found a recipe by Donna Hay and adapted it a little to suit the beef modification. Plus I added some truffle to it. Who can resist truffle? This is a great recipe for preparing in advance on a weekend, and cooking in a snap on a school night during the week for a quick dinner. I used my piping bag to get pretty little florets on top, but in the end it melted together and didn’t resemble anything like what it used to be. Still pretty tasty despite its appearance.

Shepherd's pie

SHEPHERD’S PIE WITH CHEDDAR MASH
Makes 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
500g beef mince
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary/basil/thyme
sea salt and cracked black pepper
1kg dutch cream potatoes, peeled and chopped
¼ cup milk
60g butter
1 cup grated vintage cheddar cheese/mozzarella/parmesan

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over high heat.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, and carrot. Cook for 5 minutes or until softened.
  3. Add the mince and cook for 5 minutes or until browned.
  4. Add the tomato, vinegar, paprika, herbs, salt and pepper and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  5. Place the potato in a saucepan of salted cold water and bring to the boil. Cook for 12 minutes or until tender. Drain and squeeze through a potato ricer to ensure a smooth consistency.
  6. Add the milk and butter, then mash. Add the cheese and salt and mix to combine.
  7. Divide the beef between 4 x 1½-cup capacity ovenproof dishes (or one large dish).
  8. Top with the mash and bake for 25 minutes or until golden. I used a piping bag to get some pretty shapes on it and make it extra crunchy.
  9. Drizzle with truffle oil before serving.

What do you cook in advance for dinner during the week?

Berry Sourdough Cafe

Berry Sourdough Cafe

I’ve been itching to go to the Berry Sourdough Cafe for the longest possible time. The last time I was in Berry, it was a public holiday and so it was closed, and there was a very disappointed me. Fast forward to last weekend, I made the effort to call ahead to make sure it was open. We came as a group of 9, and they don’t take bookings – so we had a short wait of about 10-15 minutes. They had local art hung up around the place. I loved the interiors! Everything was so kitsch.

Berry Sourdough Cafe

It was a hive of activity inside. We were given two tables pushed together, so it was a bit of a squeeze, but we made do. I was determined to try the food! There was a good range of local cider and beers available.

Berry Sourdough Cafe

I was preparing for the Berry Donut Van afterwards, so I opted for the potato, leek and smoked garlic soup with olive tapenade ($15.50). It was creamy and rich, and was accompanied with a slice of toast slathered with salty butter. Love.

Berry Sourdough Cafe

The majority of the table ordered the crisp pork belly, hazelnut puree, green pair and radicchio ($25) which most certainly didn’t disappoint. It was beautifully crunchy and pull-apart-moist at the same time.

Berry Sourdough Cafe

I have a thing for foodie aerial shots these days. Sure I look like a complete psycho doing them, but I really don’t care. Anything for the money shot! Three plates of the pork? Yes.

Berry Sourdough Cafe

This was the quinoa and chevre salad with spiced beetroot and walnuts ($19). I didn’t taste this but I was assured it was delicious, and the quinoa and other random seeds left you with a pleasant popping sensation.

Berry Sourdough Cafe

A couple of others in my party ordered the linguine with clams, green olives and verjus ($22). I’ll be honest, I didn’t try this either, but I can say about this is that it looked mighty tasty. The clams looked fresh, and smelled amazing.

Berry Sourdough Cafe

I have no regrets in making the Berry Sourdough Cafe the sole purpose of my visit!

BERRY SOURDOUGH CAFE
23 Prince Alfred Street
Berry NSW 2535
(02) 4464 1617

Ms G’s: A diner no finer

Ms G’s: A diner no finer

As part of the March into Merivale period, Ms G’s offered a lunch with a diner themed menu. I always try to make an effort to visit one event during March. The interiors were decorated with pastel honeycomb soda shakes and the waiters and waitresses wore those adorable little hats that diner folk used to wear. With our meals we got the choice of a chocolate or strawberry shake or just a soft drink.

A diner no finer

Upon learning the shakes were all premade with regular milk, I opted for a coke (damn you lactose intolerance). It arrived at the table in a frosty glass bottle, so retro!

Ms G's Diner no Finer

All four courses had two options. For the first it was clam chowder or poutine. Naturally we got both. The poutine was definitely the highlight of this course, slathered in a slightly salty gravy balanced by goats curd. The chips kept their lovely crunch despite being drenched in the salt. My first time eating poutine was definitely not a disappointment.

Ms G's Diner no Finer

Ms G's Diner no Finer

The second round was a choice between buffalo wings with ranch and celery sticks or southern buttermilk fried chicken. The buffalo wings smelled quite potent with its basting, but upon tasting it was turned into a pleasant chilli tang. I’ve loved the fried  chicken chops at Ms G’s before, so knew the crunchy-on-the-outside and juicy-on-the-inside nature of the fried chicken. I do wish it came with a dipping sauce though.

Ms G's Diner no Finer

The two choices for mains were either a cheeseburger or lobster roll. Both choices came with fries, a pickle and a coleslaw. The cheeseburger came in a soft bun, a little reminiscent of those used at McDonald’s, but a little more sweeter like a brioche roll. The meat patty was a lovely bite with the pickle and onion relish adding some added crunch.

Ms G's Diner no Finer

The lobster roll was another first for me. I think I’ve only ever had crab rolls in the past. It was a sweet and salty roll with creamy chunks of lobster dispersed throughout. I can’t get enough of brioche rolls. There was a celery crunch that mixed up the textures in the roll. The blurred out section of the photo were the un-photogenic remnants of the previous courses chicken dish :p

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Finally, last course was a choice of a banana split or apple and rhubarb pie. It was no question at all when all of us at the table decided to get banana splits. I’m not a fan of banana and ice cream, but the vanilla bean ice cream mixed with the chopped nuts complimented the sweetness of the banana, and I was hooked until the end.

Overall I did love the experience, the ambiance and the food were quite unique. At $50 per person, I’m not sure if I’d make it an annual occurrence  as I do really like the normal menu at Ms G’s a little better. I do think this is one of those things you have to experience at least once!


MS G’S
55 Victoria St
Potts Point NSW 2011
http://merivale.com.au/msgs

(02) 8313 1000

Brunching at Kepos Street Kitchen

Brunching at Kepos Street Kitchen

I had a bit more of a foodie weekend than usual. It may have to do with the horrible weather Sydney has had the past few days, coupled with the fact that I’ve been sick this previous week and have been dying to escape the confines of my bedroom.

I’d heard a lot about Kepos Street Kitchen. In my head it was somewhere close to Kitchen by Mike. But that may have more to do with how they both share the word ‘kitchen’ in their title. Anyway. H and I made our way to the Alexandria/Redfern border. We found ourselves on a quaint leafy street, lined with pretty terrace houses. It was the day-after-Mardi-Gras, so the remnants of the day before were still flying proud.

Rainbow pride

The cafe is at the end of the cul-de-sac – it’s a nice little space that appears to be a converted from a residential house. It’s pretty busy when we get there at midday. We wait a little bit at the entrance as the waitress gets us a table ready. I didn’t mind the wait as much as I got a chance to stare at all the pretty pastries and cakes.

Kepos Street Kitchen

She leads us to the back of the cafe, where the rear backyard has been converted into a pergola of sorts, complete with roof shades both to keep out, and let rays of sunshine in. As a nice homely touch, each table has a pot plant overflowing with a range of different herbs.

Kepos Street Kitchen

It definitely was difficult to choose from the offerings on the menu. It all sounded tasty! Kepos offers coffee by The Grounds. I’m always partial to pretty green cups of coffee.

Kepos Street Kitchen

H had his eye on the chorizo omelette, soon realised it was no longer on the menu and opted for the falafel sandwich ($16)  instead. He wasn’t disappointed in the least with the stacked sandwich, bursting with hummus, mint and fresh tabouli. Each bite was crunchy and loaded with flavour. We were going to order a bowl of fries to share, but the waitress informed us they came with a small bowl – which was more than enough for the two of us.

Kepos Street Kitchen

I decided to try baked eggs ($15) for the very first time. I figure might as well try it first done properly than attempt to cook it myself. I absolutely loved it. They had a great mix of spices that worked really well with the tomato shakshuka. It arrived piping hot and steaming. I loved dipping the accompanying sourdough in the coriander tahini. It all was a match made in heaven. Pardon my cliche.

Kepos Street Kitchen

H had a hankering for a sugar hit, so we decided to go ahead and order the churros. They arrived enclosed in a brown paper bag, I assume for the even distribution of the cinnamon sugar. There was a huge dollop of salted caramel, which was absolutely lovely. There are no more words.

Kepos Street Kitchen

Kepos Street Kitchen

Taking a quick glance around at the other tables, I notice that the beef wagyu burger is a popular choice. I’ll definitely be returning for it one day soon.

 

Trading hours:

Sunday Closed
Monday Closed
Tuesday 7:30 am – 3:00 pm
Wednesday 7:30 am – 3:30 pm, 6:00-9:30 pm
Thursday 7:30 am – 3:30 pm, 6:00-9:30 pm
Friday 7:30 am – 3:30 pm, 6:00-9:30 pm
Saturday 8:00 am – 3:00 pm, 6:00-9:30 pm

 

KEPOS STREET KITCHEN
96 Kepos St
Redfern NSW 2016
(02) 9319 3919

The week in recap.

The week in recap.

I’ve been extremely bad at regular blogging. I live mostly on Instagram, where I’ve been trying to tackle the photo a day challenge, but I’m usually a day or so behind. I guess it is better than missing a day completely.

I’ve received some Modcloth purchases in the mail. The remnants of sales gone by. One of them got mistakenly sent to the other side of the city (same office, different branch) and I had to go on a bit of an adventure to retrieve it. Most of the stuff fits barring one item, which will need some slight DIY modifications on the sleeves. I’m into stripes and patterns and things at the moment.

Modcloth purchases

 

Oh H and I tried Palings the other day. They seem to have renovated the Ivy Kitchen and turned it into something closely resembling El Loco. Gone are the yellow and white umbrellas. They still serve the usual bar fare with an extra added splash of Thai. The price points are definitely much better. We had some arancini and a pork schnitzel sandwich. Both of which were super tasty.

Palings

Lorraine’s Patisserie has featured on a couple of IG’s that I follow. So naturally it piqued my interest. We stopped by after lunch and couldn’t resist the look of the flourless chocolate cake in the window. It was just begging to be bought. Begging. In summary, it is up there with one of the best flourless cakes I have consumed. And I recommend you all go out and buy a slice. Now.

Lorraine's flourless chocolate cake

Anyway, from a Hallmark holiday scrooge, I hope everyone had a love-filled Valentine’s day. I saw a number of ladies with pretty bouquets. Big or small, I hope you got a little bit of love on Thursday! Here is my DIY card – inspired by others I found online.

Valentine's day card