Monday, December 27, 2010

Break in Transmission

All shall be quiet on the Miss Piggy front for the next two weeks as The Boy and I go off to enjoy more of our epic honeymoon.

This time we're off to Hawaii! Squee.  Hopefully I'll have loads of yummy foodie adventures to share with you all when I get back.

Happy NYE everyone!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Stuffed Olive and The Famous Berry Donut Van, Berry

Day two of our beach side honeymoon in Jervis Bay dawns cloudy, grey and pouring with rain. The Boy knows that I’ll go stir crazy in our tiny cabin within about 15 minutes so he wisely bundles me into the car, umbrella in tow, and we head up to Berry for some eating and shopping.

Our first stop in Berry is The Stuffed Olive – a little delicatessen just off the main drag.

Being of Hungarian descent I’m particularly fond of a good deli. I love salamis, cured meats, cheese and anything that comes in pâté form or pickled in brine.  Olives would have to be one of my favourite nibbley foods, followed closely by gherkins.  Stuff an olive with feta or anchovy and I’m literally in heaven.

The Boy and I decide to share an Anti-Pasto Plate for 1 ($13.90) as we have bigger, sweeter plans for later on and need the tummy room.

Our plate comes with a small selection of meats (prosciutto and two types of salami) and cheeses (brie, goats cheese and something that could possibly be a mozzarella).  We also have a little sampling of sun-dried tomatoes, lettuce and caramelised onions. 


The Anti-Pasto Plate also has a few pieces of deliciously crispy bread (similar to a large crouton).  I ask for some plain bread though as I know that the croutons won’t be enough for all of the goodies we’re sharing.   The extra serve of Italian bread costs us $1.00. Bargain.

Our deli selection is delicious and I’m in woggy food heaven.  I particularly loved the strong flavoured goats cheese and the tartness of the sun-dried tomato.   It goes without saying that the olives were amazing. The Boy tells me he liked the mystery round cheese (mozzarella?) and the salami.

As far as country delicatessens go I think The Stuffed Olive is pretty good (as far as most deli's go really). It has great variety and all the yummy goodies you’d expect to see in a city deli, as well as steady stream of customers (which did seem to overwhelm the staff a bit as they got flustered when the shop got more than half full).

The staff were also a bit weird about me taking photos – I did ask if I could snap a few pictures and at first it was OK, and then half way through I was told they’d have to ask their boss if it was OK. As far as I know they never asked their boss, or at least never got back to me about the camera, so I ‘assume’ happy snapping was OK after all?

After lunch we go for a wander and a shop in Berry.  We both line up for what seems like an age at the ONE public toilet cubicle this tourist mecca has to offer.   Seriously Berry, with the amount of tourists you get each day surely you could build us ladies another loo (or three).

As we head back to the car we stop off at The Famous Berry Donut Van.

I’d actually never even heard of this place until I read Grab Your Fork’s post a few weeks ago. But, The Boy (a donut connoisseur from way back) tells me he’s well aware of the Berry Donut Van – he just never thought I’d suggest we go there together.

The Boy conveniently fails to see that you can order just one donut, and goes for a bag of six.  I had a small lunch so I don’t point out the error of his ordering ways.

These donuts are made manually (not via an automatic machine like Donut King type establishments) and the donut lady pops the donut mix into the hot oil using a ye olde donut popping out machine. Way cool.

All donuts from The Famous Berry Donut Van are freshly made and come to you so hot that they have the potential to burn not only your fingers as you greedily grab them out of the bag, but a layer of skin off the roof of your mouth (I’m speaking from experience here).   Their claim to fame is that they’ve never served a cold donut, and they never reheat their donuts...everything is made to order.

The writing on the bag tells us these donuts will be the best we’ve ever had. I’m not sure about that as I'm not a true donut expert, but they were pretty good!  They were fresh, hot and dusted with loads of cinnamon sugar - much better than the mass produced donuts I have at a lot of other places (that makes it sound like I eat donuts all the time, but I don't. Hardly ever. Honest)!

The Boy confirms that as far as donuts go, these are pretty good.  They could only have been better if he could have seen them being popped out of the donut maker into the oil.

As we're leaving the van I spy HUGE 20kg tins of oil used for frying the donuts!  Kind of burst my fantatsy that fresh, handmade donuts aren't really that bad for you!

The Stuffed Olive is at Shop 3/ 65 Queen St, Berry (although I think they are actually 'on' Albany Street).

You can pretty much follow your nose to the The Famous Berry Donut Van, or find them at next to the Shell servo on Queen Street (aka Princes Highway), Berry.

Famous Berry Donut Van on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Victoria Room, Darlinghurst

I first went to The Victoria Room about two years ago for a hen’s night. As we indulged in High Tea and sparkling wine I thought to myself that this would be a GREAT place for a wedding.

Being perpetually unlucky in lurve, I certainly didn’t foresee that I’d be having my wedding here just a few years later.

As I am a massive stress head about nearly everything in my life, my “inner-bride” (or should I say “inner psychologist”) knew that I’d have to keep things simple or risk a stint in a padded room immediately following the wedding.

Truth be told, my ideal wedding would be in a registry office with two witnesses (or perhaps eloping to a tropical island somewhere), but The Boy really wanted a wedding where his family could celebrate with us. So really, The Boy was the bridezilla of this wedding!

The best thing about The Victoria Room for me is that the place is already so beautiful that no decorations or embellishments are needed – making things pretty stress free as far as weddings go. The dark lighting, plush antique sofas, palm trees and bamboo curtains scream romance as well as the opulence of the British Raj era. Without having to lift a finger, or stress at all, we had a perfect venue!

Our ceremony was fairly quick – about 15 minutes and then we got stuck straight into the important business of High Tea.

Following a quick toast with The Victoria Room’s Sparkling NV ($9.50 glass or $ 39 a bottle) it was on to the food.

As our reception was at 1pm we started off with some canapés, mainly to ensure that everyone had enough to eat on the day. It was really lunchtime after all.

I choose three canapés from The Victoria Room’s function menu; Zucchini and Haloumi Fritters; Prawn and; Chickpea Fritters with Saffron Aioli; and, Sweet Corn Pancakes with crisp Pancetta and Avocado Aioli.  I cannot remember how much this cost us, but it didn't break the bank.

The BFF was our candid cameraman on the day and he didn’t manage grab any piccies of these tasty morsels as they got snapped up as soon as they were brought around. The lovely staff at The Victoria Room however did bring The Boy and I a special plate of these goodies to make sure that we didn’t miss out on food altogether.

Next up is the three tier Classic High Tea ($45 per person, plus an 11% surcharge as we had a group bigger than 10 people) and it is totally decadent. Before the wedding I was a worried there wouldn’t be enough food and people would leave hungry. I even told my brother that if he was still hungry after the reception he could head to Una's across the road and fill up on schnitzel and rosti. Turns out that I needn’t have worried as we had SO much food. The towers of delectable yumminess just kept on coming out and it was impossible to eat it all.

The top tier is filled with dainty Afternoon Tea Sandwiches and I catch myself eating these with my little pinky pointing straight out (just like The Queen). I later read that is bad form to have your pinky pointing in any direction during High Tea. Oopsie – bad bride!

There are four types of sandwiches each with a beautiful filling: Chicken and Wild Herbs; Cucumber, Crème Fraiche and Dill; Smoked Salmon, Rocket, Lemon, Capers; and Watercress, Celery, Walnuts and Goats Curd. My favourite would have to be the Chicken and Wild Herbs...very tasty.

The middle tier holds what I think are the most coveted of all the High Tea goodies, the Assorted Sweeties. On this tray we have Dark Chocolate Cup with Chocolate Mousse, Cream and fresh Raspberries; Classic baked Lemon Cheesecake; Mini Christmas Mince Tarts; and my favourite, Red Velvet Cupcake topped with Creamed Cheese Icing.

Finally the bottom tier holds the Scones and Conserve. The Victoria Room serve two types of scones, date and plain, with Triple Berry Conserve and Chantilly Cream.

Last up is the beautiful wedding cake (chocolate of course) that The Boys mum made for us! All of the individual flowers are hand-made.  Well done new mother-in-law!

I have to say I loved every minute of our wedding and reception (once I got used to the excessive smiling and 40 people all taking snaps of us – I felt like I had my own paparazzi pack on the day). I can even remember most of it seeing as my mind wasn't filled with 1000 little details about 'The Big Day'.

The staff at The Victoria Room looked after us really well, both before the event and during.  The food was delicious and plentiful and I think everyone went away full and happy (though I did spy The Boy's cousin heading into Una's afterwards). 

Best of all it was a really simple, but special wedding that didn’t blow our budget or our stress levels. The beautiful venue and unique food really made it feel like a special day without either us really having to go to too much trouble.

The Victoria Room is at 235 Victoria St, Darlinghurst.

The Victoria Room on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Husky Bakery and Cafe, Huskisson

It is day one of the long awaited first leg of our beach side honeymoon in Jervis Bay and it is FREEZING.

It is inconceivable to me that just four sleeps before Christmas it can be too cold to swim.  Whilst the weather is sunny and there are blue skies as far as the eye can see (I have the sunburn to prove it) the temperature is cool, and the water even cooler...brr. We both got as far as our waists at Hyams Beach before we retreated to the white sandy beach and rugged up in our towels and shivered until we were dry.

So Plan B was to hop into the car and check out what else is on offer in Jervis Bay besides its icy cold beaches.

We end up at Huskisson right on lunch time and head up to the Husky Bakery and Cafe for some warming up.  As far as Plan B’s go, this was a pretty good one.

The bakery smells just like a bakery should.  A mix of savoury aromas from the freshly baked bread and homemade pies mixes with the sweet temptations on offer.  We’re like kids in a candy shop as we rush from display case to display case deciding what we should order.

The Boy opts for a Husky Pie ($3.70) and it looks mouth-wateringly good.  The pie is filled with huge chunks of steak and the pastry is thick, flaky and crispy.  The gravy is thick and rich.  I have major food envy, but lucky for me The Boy offers to share his bounty with me.

Even though the wedding is now long gone and the wedding dress packed away in the wardrobe, I decide to go for a healthier option as I know I’m going to be pigging out with the best of them when we land in Hawaii for Honeymoon 2.0 just after Christmas.

I choose a tasty looking Tortilla Wrap ($5.50) that is jammed packed with Mexican Spiced Chicken , salad and sweet chilli sauce (oh sweet chilli sauce, why must you be everywhere I am)?  My tortilla wrap is tasty and filling, but I would have loved if it was dressed with something tastier than store bought sweet chilli sauce.

Surprisingly The Boy and I leave with the bakery without a sweet treat.  When we went back to the counter to buy a little something special the shop had been invaded by American tourists about to try their first Aussie meat pie...ever!  None of them can decide which sauce to squirt on their pie. I (helpfully ?) tell them to avoid the sweet chilli sauce that is being offered to them and go for the tomato sauce .  After all it’s just not cricket to eat your pie any other way!

Husky Bakery and Cafe is at 11 Currambeene Street, Huskisson.  Just look for the old baker's van out the front and you'll know you're in the right spot.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rubyos Restaurant, Newtown

Rubyos is another one of those Newtown restaurants that I've been walking past for years, but have never been to.  If you know Newtown at all you'll understand why this is the case. There are literally hundreds of restaurants in this suburb with new ones popping up on a regular basis.

So many restaurants, so little tummy room.

I've heard great things about this restaurant and have been wanting to go to Rubyos to try their Grazing Menu for quite some time.  I love the idea of sharing food with a group and getting to try a little bit of everything.  I usually suffer from food envy, so a Grazing Menu ensures I don't leave the table disappointed.

As I organise the team's Christmas lunch I thought this would be a good time to finally check this place out.  See how the admin staff of the world really hold all the power {insert evil laugh here}!

I actually thought I wouldn't get to take many photos of our lunch.  I didn't want to team to turf me out on the sidewalk for making them wait to eat - a hungry bunch of office workers at Christmas time are not to be kept from their food.  That said, the teamsters I was sharing the grazing plates with were uber patient as I snapped away...thanks guys!

Rubyos has two options of Grazing Menus for large groups.  I opted for the more expensive menu...seeing as work was paying!  But seriously, I went with "Menu 2" ($48.00 per person) as it had so many yummy tasting things on it that it was a no brainier really.

Enough talk, lets start eating...

Ocean trout pate with dilled champagne jelly, celery and horseradish remoulade and olive bread wafers.

Peking duck with rice flour pancakes, hoi sin sauce and traditional garnish.

Salad of slow cooked pork belly with baby spinach, shaved beetroot, green apple, and a raspberry vinaigrette.
Grilled tiger prawns infused with curry leaf and turmeric, with a jicama slaw, fragrant herbs, and a crunchy peanut and coriander pesto.
Malaysian style black pepper soft shell crab on a sweet and spicy pineapple chutney.

Crunchy carrot, chickpea and apricot felafel with a lemon, garlic and parsley pistou.

Seared kangaroo fillet sprinkled with macadamia dukkah, with a caramelised onion and potato cake and spiced black cherry relish.

Szechuan spiced lamb rump with wilted Chinese greens, a gingered soy glaze and wonton chip.
Crispy new york style crushed chats tossed through fresh herbs and seasoned salt.
Dishes that made me go "wow" were the Ocean Trout Pate; the Grilled Tiger Prawns and the Crispy New York Style Crushed Chats.

All of these dishes were bursting with flavour and were really something special. The crushed chats were deliciously salty (not good for the guy on our team with high blood pressure) and crisped to perfection. I suspect the tatters were deep fried at the end of the cooking process to make them so crunchy and delicious (not that I would know - I can barely cook a potato).

All of the team LOVED the prawns and Beati3 says the lamb was her absolute favourite as it was "cooked to perfection". I quite liked the Kangaroo as it wasn't as rare as Kangaroo I've encountered before (if you know me, you'll know that I like my meat charred to a crisp so I know for sure that it is D.O.A).

The only dish that really made me go “meh” was the crunchy carrot, chickpea and apricot felafel. The felafel was just too dry and as such needed much more of the pistou to help it go down easily. Possibly the odd croquette shape of the felafel didn't help the surface crunch : fluffy innards ratio (an equation we all know is vital to a great felafel).

General sentiments from the team were that we really needed to end the meal on a sweet note. For an extra $15 would could have added dessert and tea/coffee, but work wasn't going to come to the (Christmas) party on that as we would've been well over budget. Perhaps one less savoury dish on Menu 2 and a little something sweet at the end would be a good idea?

I think the staff at Rubyos deserve a special mention.

Liz, who I made the reservation with, was incredibly helpful and accommodating regarding the special dietary requirements of some of my teamsters. Out of all of the places I booked work functions with (over the 17 years I've been working in admin) this is possibly the only venue where I didn't have any issues with special meal requirements (though I did forget to tell them about "no sodium guy" - my bad). Usually I end up in the loos crying as they've served a vegan creamy curry with prawns and sandwiches to gluten-freers. Oh the stress!

Thanks Rubyos - you made my Christmas lunch totally stress free!

Rubyos Restaurant is at 18-20 King Street, Newtown.

Rubyos on Urbanspoon

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