Saturday, August 24, 2013

Best On The North Shore - El Karim

El Karim - Many times without success we have tried to make a reservation at this popular Roseville restaurant but it has always been booked out. Excitingly, last night, we were finally able to indulge!

Being BYO, we stopped by Vintage Cellars to select a wine. For tonight, a Rioja. Cosme Palacio which turned out to be delicious and complemented the food well.

Kind of lamenting that we weren't in a larger group so that we could order more food, we made a reasonable selection without going overboard for just the two of us. 

We started with the dips. One I hadn't tried previously was the Hommos b’awarma. Hommos topped with saute├ęd mince lamb, onions & pine nuts. Yum. 

The others, a Hommos and a Baba Ghanouj. The hommos was silky smooth and creamy with a hint more of Tahini than is usual.

Zucchini Fries. Haven't seen these since Portland, Oregon. Wow. I had a few but they were an even bigger hit with Kevin who at the entire plate!

The Lamb (Kafta) was tasty but the Chef's Special Chicken was outstanding. So tender and delicious though I will be be sweating garlic today, that is certain!

Even more impressive was the price. For such delicious food, we paid $63 for the two of us. You pay more than that at the local pubs. For these reasons, this has now not only become my favourite Mediterranean but favourite Restaurant on the North Shore and I cannot wait to return!

Check out their menu here.

Also, you can check out other reviews right here, on Urbanspoon.  El Karim on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Best Pizza I've Ever Had!

The Best Pizza I've Ever Had says Kevin (my hubbie) of our first taste of pizza from Via Napoli Pizzeria in Lane Cove. Big statement but those were the exact words from a man who is a pretty discerning food critic. If he doesn't like something, he will gladly tell you (even if it was a gift of home baked biscotti from your best friend!)

Via Napoli is a busy, busy restaurant so you will need to book. Unfortunately, this rushed busyness was felt all around from the time we made the booking when we were told we had limited time at our table to the wait staff and chefs who are literally running. We felt anything but relaxed. 

Another downfall for us was that we had to sit on the main street with yahoo's passing in their cars and a group of smokers who congregated on the corner.

Apart from that, we really enjoyed our food and next time will ask for a more secluded table.

The Olives were amazing!

Via Napoli Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Best Lamb You'll Ever Have...

Be prepared. You'll need 6 hours for this dish, but it's totally worth it!

Lamb roast (as big as your pot will hold) around 2.5 - 3kg
Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Olive Oil
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup of chicken stock
6 shallots peeled and finely chopped
Bunch of Thyme
Lemon rind grated finely
1/4 cup of Maple Syrup

Preheat your oven to a slow temperature. Depending on your oven, between 130 and 150 degrees. Season the lamb well with salt and pepper. Heat your Le Creuset casserole dish or other oven proof dutch oven with the olive oil  and brown the lamb on all sides.

Pour over the wine and stock, sprinkle with shallots, crushed garlic, grated lemon rind and thyme. Pour maple syrup all over the lamb. Season again. Cover and cook in the oven for 3 hours. 

Remove from oven, baste and add more syrup if you like. Remove enough juices for a gravy.

Cook a further 2 or so hours. Remove from the oven and let it rest for at least 20 minutes whilst you make the gravy. The meat will fall from the bone. No need to carve!

. I always age my meat for 5 to 7 days and never freeze it!
. In Australia you can find Kosher salt from USA Foods. Otherwise, use regular salt.
. I use Rani brand black pepper.
. I make my own chicken stock. Nothing really compares.
. Kirkland maple syrup is the best.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Quay Sydney - Fabulous View, Shame About The Food...

I was so excited to visit Quay. My niece works here (very hard) as a chef and the restaurant is featured around the world as one of the best in Australia but I am sad to say that I was disappointed with the tastes that ventured out from the kitchen.

She is a fabulous chef so no reflection on her or her colleagues. I just believe the menu needs a little freshening! One persons opinion. I do have to say, everything was exquisitely presented...
un amuse-bouche
Unlimited yummy breads!

The prettiest salad I've ever had but sadly not the most flavourful. We think they forgot the dressing!

Squab with Black Eggplant

Berkshire Pig Jowl

If anything, you have to go for the view...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

How To Get Rid of Pantry Moths

Each time I opened the pantry door, hoards of Pantry Moths whizzed past me, heading for new found freedom....ah, not in my house!  I eradicated these pesky creatures from our pantry with a few simple steps.

Firstly it helped to know that I was actually bringing the eggs and maggots home in things like flour, rice, biscuits and cereals. 

1. I went through the entire pantry throwing away anything that appeared suspect or actually contained the little guys.

2. Next, I placed every possible weevil containing dried good into the freezer for a few days, to be sure those eggs were killed.

3. I placed freshly picked lavender and sticks of cinnamon throughout the pantry. You could also use bay leaves and other strong smelling herbs.

4. I setup an EnviroSafe Pantry Moth Trap. The trap releases a pheromone that attracts the moth to certain sticky death. 

Now, the first thing I do when I get home with the groceries is put the dry goods into the freezer. Everything except sugar has worked so far. It clumped together rendering it more pantry moths!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Time Out Taste Test - March into Merivale!

Chef Tatum with Grandad and Grandma
Tonight, we are here to support my niece, Tatum on her first chef challenge representing Quay Restaurant. 

This Time Out Taste Test challenge, orchestrated by Time Out Magazine and Merivale Restaurants is in it's third year.

There are six Chef's from six top Sydney restuarants. Three of these will go through to the final round. Next week, there will be six more chefs and three more winners. The final should be exciting!

The event tonight is hosted by Uccello Restaurant and this is my first visit. On first sight, the place is impressive. Rooftop pool, cabana style seating, outdoor bars, plush unisex toilets and resort decor. 

Sadly, upon closer inspection, the place is a shade of it's former glory. The bathroom chairs are weathered and in need of replacement, soap dispensers broken, cabana cushions looked tired and well in need of freshening. Luckily for us, this doesn't matter as we are here to support our family!
Fellow Chef and Boyrfriend, Brad Guest giving support.

Manager, John checking final details on the first dish
All the Apprentice Chefs help plate...
Ryka Johnson from Rockpool provided us with the first course, which was a magnificent melt in the mouth Bresaola with rocket and a divine Tomato Sorbet. Unfortunately, I didn't eat fast enough and my sorbet became mushy...eeek!

Next was a crispy Vietnamese Pork Belly by Khanh Nguyen from Becasse. Beautifully presented little cucumbers with a minty gel refreshed the crunchy fried vermicellli and pork belly treat.. Not sure what the purple leaf was...if you know, drop me a line.

Next, the special dish that we came for, the Poached Chicken with Crispy Skin and Parsnip Puree created and prepared by Tatum Rumble from Quay . Boo hoo, I couldn't taste my nieces dish because it came in a salad of lobster consomme but I am assured by my fellow diners that it was simply delicious!

Tatum describing her inspiration

Next, a Caramelised Pigs Head, another first for me.. Oh my...what wonderful flavours. Very rich however and I am paying for it 12 hours later. Jack Chapple from Etch did a fabulous job on this dish.

Caramelised Pigs Head
OK, Alex Haupt (from EST) I am not a big meat eater and this is the third, quite rich red meat dish in a row. Not your fault but possibly we could have had a refreshing sorbet or dessert here. I loved the texture of the underneath meat but sadly the chunk on top was a little on the tough side. I shouldn't have to work for my meal! However, the crispy roasted walnuts were incredible. 
Beef Brisket
The only dessert of the evening received an unfair advantage in my eyes. This tea and chocolate mousse by Michael West, Four in Hand restaurant was indeed a well deserved reprieve. The chocolate was melt in the mouth divine but the tea gels were lacking in sweetness which I was looking for at this stage. 
Tea and Chocolate Mousse
Chefs line up and await their fate...
Winners are announced!
In all, it was a fabulous evening thanks to all. Guess you would like to know which chefs are through to the next round...

1. Ryka Johnson from Rockpool (The Bresaola and Tomato)
2. Jack Chapple from Etch (Caramelised Pigs Head)
3. Michael West, Four In Hand (The Tea and Chocolate Dessert)

Tatum, you are an amazing chef and passionate person and you will do well. We look forward to more challenges and more of your fabulous creations!