Archives for category: Reviews

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Over the weekend I went to see The Past, a French film made by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi (also known for his recently successful film A Separation). Intelligently designed and subtly executed, it’s a family melodrama that explores the values of truth and uncovers secrets from the past in cleverly unfolding layers.

In the film, Marie asks her estranged husband to return to Paris from Iran in order to finalise their divorce. Upon his arrival, Marie takes him to the somewhat ramshackle yet beautifully dishevelled home they used to share in the outer suburbs of Paris, where it becomes clear that she has taken up with another man. Samir and his son Fouad have moved in with Marie and her two daughters and together they are in the process of restoring the house, which is in an evident state of disrepair. However it soon becomes apparent that the broken pipes and drying paint are a cogent metaphor for the crumbling facade of the family bond, and that the paint is still not yet dry on matters of the past.

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Warm and kind, Ahmad soon becomes drawn into the lives of this newly formed family and together they delve into a past imbued with secrets and emotional truths that are cleverly drawn out to propel the narrative forward to its inevitable conclusion.

A beautifully sad and reflective film, The Past teaches us something of the value in staying the course through times of trial, even when no resolution is readily apparent. As the paint begins to dry and the new fittings go up, things seem to go from bad to worse as the past is unravelled and matters are complicated further by Marie’s beautiful and sullen eldest daughter Lucie.

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They say that truth comes from the mouth of babes, and while Fouad’s role is somewhat peripheral to the story, he brings us one of the central resolutions of the film with an achingly honest declaration on a grimy Paris metro.

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Territorially dangerous, the past can be a murky place of secrets and burdens, yet I walked away thinking that cautious navigation of the past can help us arrive at the heart of a matter and to a place where love, loyalty and truth will prevail.

It must be the Iranian influence on screen that got me thinking I should try this recipe from the Good Food Weekly Meal Planner.

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Easy to make, this dish has subtle flavours that are surprisingly satisfying and made for a great start to the week. I used French green lentils as I didn’t have brown, but either would be delicious. I’m thinking this would make a great side dish to take to a dinner party and that some fresh goat’s cheese crumbled over the top would take it to another level, but in lieu of that it will still taste delicious with natural yoghurt and mint.

The Past is written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, with Bérénice Bejo as Marie, Ali Mosaffa as Ahmad, Tahar Rahim as Samir, Pauline Burlet  as Lucie and Elyes Aguis as Fouad. Rated (M).

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Cities Are Good For You: The Genius of the Metropolis, Leo Hollis (Bloomsbury:London), 2013.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Leo Hollis is an urban enthusiast, as the title of his latest book suggests. In this book, Hollis embarks on a global city hop to investigate urban projects in sustainability, transport, agriculture, community development and more. Critics have suggested that Hollis presents a partisan and overly idealistic argument in favour of city living, and although this may be true I don’t think it takes away from the worth of the research. Hollis demonstrates that cities are best transformed from the inside out and provides an interesting perspective on what could be possible if everyday citizens took more responsibility for their environment and community. I don’t think that this book will revolutionise the world, nor was intended to. If it goes some small way to inspiring a few however, the benefits could be felt by many.

 

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The New Front Page: New Media and the Rise of the Audience, Tim Dunlop (Scribe:Melbourne), 2013.

Tim Dunlop’s The New Front Page is a thought provoking book about the changing face of journalism in Australia.  In this book, Dunlop uses his experience as a political blogger to begin a discussion about the need for mainstream media to better adapt to the rise of new-media and increasing levels of audience participation. As a newcomer to world of blogging, I found it a great insight into the broad scope of possibilities that blogging can create, as well as some of its limitations. Reading the book, I came to the conclusion that if you want news and analysis of a high quality, then you should be prepared to pay for it. I was also convinced that media agencies should also offer more flexible and user-friendly paywalls and subscription services. A proponent of new-media websites such as New Matilda and Crikey, Dunlop demonstrates that professional journalism could learn a lot by listening to and interacting with its audiences and adapting in inventive ways in order to keep the industry alive, relevant and vital to a healthy democracy.

 

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Burial Rites, Hannah Kent (Picador:Sydney), 2013.

This is an impressive debut novel by Hannah Kent about a woman on death row in Iceland in 1829. It is a moving and compelling tale made even more poignant by the fact that it is based on true events. The writing is highly evocative and reading the book I felt more that I was watching events unfold before my eyes rather than hunched over the page with a furrowed brow. In a world in which only 51% of United Nations member states have completely abolished the use of capital punishment I think that this book is highly relevant to present-day society as it highlights some important issues of crime and punishment that continue to have currency today. I think this book will translate nicely to cinema, and the guardian reports that plans are currently underway for a movie adaptation, with Jennifer Lawrence to play the role of the protagonist Agnes Magnúsdóttir. Great Choice!

 

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Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, Anthony Bourdain (Bloomsbury:London), 2000.

I really loved this book. It’s written in 6 parts, covering a five course meal with a coffee and cigarette afterwards, and is the tale of Bourdain’s journey from a not-so-humble dishwasher to world-renowned chef, writer and traveller. It is a revealing tell-all about the kitchen underworld of restaurants in New York, Tokyo, Paris and beyond, and although I suspect that Anthony Bourdain is a great story teller, I get the sense that he really hasn’t embellished the story all that much. Bourdain depicts a world that is gritty, male dominated, competitive, character-building and fascinating all at once. I really grew to like Anthony Bourdain as I was reading the book, and he strikes me as someone who is down to earth, highly discerning and open to the world in a way that has helped him steer the highs and lows of his successful career.

 

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Capital, John Lancaster (Faber and Faber:London), 2012.

Set on the cusp of the global financial crisis in 2008, John Lancaster’s Capital is an intriguing, insightful and thoughtful novel centred around the everyday lives of the ordinary citizens of Pepys Road, London. Each of the street’s occupants receive a card in the post in December 2007 with a simple message ‘We Want What You Have’. As events unfold, you realise that there’s more to this novel than meets the eye, and it’s one of those books that touches on a multitude of issues in a subtle and thought provoking way. Lancaster points to the ways in which money, power and greed affect the lives of everyday people in varying degrees and with varying outcomes. A great read.

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This week I went to the Night Noodle Markets in Hyde Park, a Sydney Morning Herald Good Food month event taking place throughout October. As you can see, this is a popular event and it’s definitely a good idea to get in early if you want to avoid the long queues. Situated in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, it’s a great opportunity to catch up with friends after work but also well worth visiting even if you don’t work or study in the city. The market is a hub of activity and a foodie’s oasis. On the night we visited, it was a perfect Spring evening and a great opportunity to sit back and soak up the atmosphere and see the sun set over a busy city. Offering mostly modern asian street foods, there is plenty on offer to suit most tastes and the dishes are cheap enough to allow for sampling of various dishes. The best way to do the market is to get in early and with a group. This way you can find a table or a patch of grass (a picnic rug  will come in handy), split up and meet back at your spot. I sampled two dishes from the Longrain stall, a chicken, turmeric, coconut + basil noodle bowl, and a hot + sour pork noodle bowl, both of which were delicious. My noodle market trip has inspired me to try making San Choy Bau, and I think this is definitely going to become a staple in my kitchen..it’s easy, healthy and most importantly, delicious! The best thing about it is you can use the basic recipe below and be creative with variations of your own. I bought some water chestnuts to put in mine but discovered that I don’t own a can opener so used mushrooms instead and was quite happy with the result. How I have managed to get away with not even realising I don’t own a can opener until now, beats me!

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Pork San Choy Bau

350g minced pork

1 clove crushed garlic

2 tsp fresh grated ginger

1/2 long red chilli, fresh and finely chopped

1 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp oyster sauce

1/4 cup spring onions, finely sliced

100g button mushrooms, finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh coriander, finely chopped

8-10 iceberg lettuce leaves, rinsed and patted dry

Sliced lemon pieces, to serve

Fry the garlic, chilli and ginger in the sunflower oil for 1-2 minutes. Add the pork mince and stir until cooked, then add in the mushrooms, spring onions and coriander. Stir for about 1-2 mins, then add in the fish sauce and oyster sauce and stir until heated through the mixture. Remove from the heat and rest for a minute or so, then scoop portions of the mixture into your lettuce cups, as shown above. Serve with fresh lemon slices and enjoy, no eating utensils required! Simply fold the lettuce leaves around the mixture and you have a delicious parcel of goodness ready to devour. It might help to keep a few lettuce leaves on hand so you can double wrap the parcels for extra strength and to keep the insides in.

*Serves 4 as an entree, 2 as a main

 

 

 

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Euforia sits at the sleepy harbour end of Darling Street in East Balmain, a corner cafe with an enviable view of the harbour bridge and a general vibe of sun drenched happiness due to its north facing aspect. For lovers of shade however, there is seating inside with a great view of the street outside. The menu offers the very best of most breakfast genres as well as an appealing selection of Italian flatbread and grilled sourdough sandwiches for lunch. The coffee is good and it’s clear that the standard of delivery is high in the barista’s corner. This doesn’t appear to be the only area of finesse however, as everything I’ve had from the kitchen has also been without fault. On my last visit I had the poached eggs rolled in quinoa on sourdough with fresh avocado, and my sister ordered the American Bacon Breakfast plate, from which I may or may not have surreptitiously pinched some tasty green olives 😉 Both meals are on my go-to list for future visits and I’m also particularly keen to try the french toast brioche with blueberry compote, vanilla ricotta, almonds and honey.

What I love about Euforia: I’ve been here three times since moving to Balmain and on each occasion my most lasting impression has been the friendliness of service and welcoming atmosphere. However, I would hate to neglect the fact that the quality of food is also one of the reasons I will keep going back. Oh, and three other little words to mention: All Day Breakfast! Nothing more to be said 😉

58 Darling Street, Balmain East, Sydney, Australia, 2041. Mon – Fri 6:30 am – 2:00 pm, Sat – Sun 8:00 am – 2:00 pm. (02) 9810 9969

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I’ve been promising a friend to do some baking as a very belated birthday gift, so I thought I’d finally hop to it and share with you this great recipe for Lime + Passionfruit Friands. It’s a tried and true recipe torn out of a magazine by my mum some years ago now and I guarantee it’s a winner!

Lime + Passionfruit Friands

3/4 cup plain flour

1 and 1/3 cup pure icing sugar

100g almond meal

2 tsp lime rind

5 egg whites

1/3 cup passionfruit pulp

Preheat oven to 200°C and lightly grease six 1/2 cup friand pans. Sift the icing sugar and flour into a bowl, then stir in the almond meal and lime rind. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until frothy, then fold into the dry mixture with a large metal spoon until just combined. Gently fold in the passionfruit pulp. Spoon the mixture into the friand pans until they’re about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 mins or until a skewer inserted to the centre of a friand comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool. When completely cool, dust with icing sugar and devour.

Bon Appétit xo

 

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I’ve been to love.fish twice since moving to Balmain, and it’s already one of my favourite hot spots on the Rozelle/Balmain strip. It’s a seafood restaurant with a focus on sustainability and green initiatives from the sea to the plate. love.fish sources all it’s fish from Australia and New Zealand and uses 100% sustainable packaging and environmentally safe cleaning products. Even their waste management systems are environmentally friendly! So as well as being a great place to eat out, it’s also a great example of a local business with a strong, climate-focussed ethic that sets a pretty good benchmark for similar businesses city-wide.

What I love about love.fish: It’s a low key but still classy restaurant right in the hub of Rozelle, and the food is delicious and good for you at the same time. Both times I have visited, the staff have been friendly, accommodating and informed. If you’re visiting on a chilly night, there are blankets and heaters outside and the low lighting both inside and out adds a warm glow to keep you comfortable, and a nice touch of ambience as well. It’s the kind of place you can go to for a special occasion dinner or even just a casual dinner for two. On my first visit I had the salt & pepper hawkesbury loligo squid with pickled green paw paw and the pickled radish salad with green beans, apple and watercress. Both squid and salad were delicious and are definitely on my win list for future visits. Returning with a bigger appetite on my most recent visit, I ordered the grilled trout with eggplant, beetroot and cous cous from the specials menu and was more than happy with my choice, not to mention full! My sister was similarly satisfied with her choice of beer battered nsw rock flathead, and we ordered the radish salad and twice cooked hand cut sebago chips to share. The menu has a good range of grilled/battered fish as well as a decent selection of sides and entrees and an interesting range of biodynamic and organic wines. I’ll definitely be back on a regular basis.

love.fish is open for dining in or taking away from 5pm – late, 7 days a week. 580 Darling Street, Balmain.

Inspired to cook some seafood of my own, tonight I bought some fresh barramundi and poached it in coconut milk and lime juice. I planned to have it with some steamed rice, but because I’m lazy, I opted for vermicelli noodles instead and was quite happy with the results. This recipe is super easy, quick, and involves hardly any prep or washing up..my favourite kind of meal. The flakiness of the barramundi worked well with the rice noodles and the creamy coconut milk tipped this dish into laksa territory only on a much simpler scale, with only a handful of ingredients and a lot less liquid.

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Coconut Lime Barramundi with Chilli + Coriander

1 large barramundi fillet, cut in two pieces

400g can light coconut milk

2 tbsp fish sauce

Juice of 2 limes

1 long green chilli, sliced

160g vermicelli noodles, cooked and drained

1 handful fresh coriander

*Serves 2

Place the coconut milk, lime juice, fish sauce and half the sliced chilli in a pan and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and place the fish in the broth, poaching for 3-4 mins on both sides. When the fish is cooked through, divide your cooked noodles into 2 bowls and place a piece on each bed of noodles, pouring some broth over the top. Garnish with some fresh coriander and sliced chilli and enjoy!

Trini xo

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Recently I had a great dinner at Red Lantern on Crown Street, Surry Hills. I had been wanting to try one of Luke Nguyen’s restaurants as I think he’s a great chef and am a big fan of asian cuisines in general. This night out didn’t disappoint as it was a great meal with lovely company too. We ordered the Hanoi Hunger tasting menu, which was really the perfect amount of food and none of us left feeling still hungry or too full. Two standout dishes for me were the green tea smoked duck breast salad and the crisp skinned spatchcock with shallot, ginger and oyster sauce. The service was also great – attentive and unpretentious, and the wait staff seemed genuinely interested in the food and our experience. The kitchen was also accommodating to the fact that one of our number was a non-pork eater and more than willing to substitute or amend the pork dishes to suit the table. All in all it was a great night and I’d definitely recommend Red Lantern for a special occasion or a relaxing night out. Unfortunately I forgot to take some pics which is a shame because it’s a really pretty restaurant with a laid back and cosy atmosphere..next time I promise to remember (I must have been hungry)! Anyway, the duck salad got me thinking that I’d like to try making one of my own, so here’s my version which is much simpler and easy enough for a weeknight meal at home. I can’t pretend I’m anywhere near the level of Red Lantern’s standard of cooking, but this salad turned out pretty well! Fresh, healthy and delicious. I got a few tips from my local butcher, TJ’s Quality Meats on Darling, and decided to go for it. I ate this with some sourdough bread which soaked up the dressing really well and made for a more substantial meal. See below for the recipe.

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Citrus Duck Salad

2 duck breasts

1 tbsp sunflower oil

3 tsp chinese five spice powder

Rind of 1/2 lemon

Salt + pepper

180g mixed salad leaves

1 orange, segmented

3 spring onions, finely sliced lengthways

For the dressing:

1 tbsp orange juice

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Marinate the duck breasts in the sunflower oil, five spice and lemon rind for about 30 mins or longer, if you have time. To prepare the salad, simply combine the salad leaves, orange segments and spring onions in a bowl. Combine all the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to combine before dressing your salad.

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Season the duck breasts with salt and pepper and sear in a hot pan for about 4 mins on both sides, then cook in the oven for 10 mins at 220°C, followed by 10 mins at 180°C. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for about 5 mins. Slice the duck into 1/2 cm slices, and add to your salad! Bon appétit!!

Serves 2.

Red Lantern on Crown is at 545 Crown Street, Surry Hills. Reservations are highly recommended as they are very popular!

Trini xo

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Over the weekend I took the chance to have a long and leisurely Saturday lunch at The Cottage Bar & Kitchen in Balmain, something I’ve been meaning to do since moving here but not had the time to do so. This place has a lot of rustic charm and a leafy outdoor setting that was perfect for a sunny Saturday afternoon catch up with an old friend. We sat on the terrace overlooking the front garden dining area which gave us the chance to check out what the diners below us were ordering and take a few mental notes for our next visits. There are plenty of leafy trees out front which makes for a great barrier against the sun and a cool and pleasant dining experience. It was also great to have a direct view of the live band Bad Pony, who were playing an acoustic set of indie/rock covers and (I think) some original songs, which added a pleasant and relaxed mellowness to the occasion overall.

We decided to order three share plates which ended up being the perfect amount for 2 and left us suitably satisfied but not bursting at the seams. The first to reach the table was the field mushrooms stuffed with haloumi and prawns and an accompanying spicy dipping sauce, a delicious dish that was simple and understated and one I will definitely be ordering again. We also had the four cheese cauliflower with candied walnuts, also delicious and perfect for a winter Saturday. The cheese sauce was silky but suitably subtle and not too rich, with no chance of overshadowing the cauliflower which can often be the case. Our most hearty dish of the day was the lamb shoulder with baba ghanoush, lentil salad and pomegranate..definitely a winner. Tender and crispy, the lamb shoulder was cooked to perfection and the accompaniments made for an interesting but delicious combination of flavours and textures. The lentil salad is definitely something I’d like to try at home and would definitely recommend this dish as it was flavoursome and, simply put, good looking!! I’m a sucker for aesthetics, but this one tasted great as well. The service here was friendly and the staff were approachable and helpful. I found the Tim Adams Reisling to be the perfect accompaniment to the lunch and my companion’s Vinaceous Shiraz had amazing colour and was reportedly delicious.

All in all it was a great lunch and I loved the friendly vibe of The Cottage. I was reminded of some of the places I visited with my sister in New York and I’d definitely like to head back there and check out the scene at night..and the pizzas, which looked great!

I’m officially a fan and looking forward to my next visit,

Trini xo

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I’m already a fan of The Source Bulk Foods in Balmain (262 Darling Street). You can come here for specialty flours, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, honey and tonnes of other healthy goods…I feel virtuous just being in this store! The Source puts a little bit of fun back into your everyday grocery shop as you get to fill up your paper bag with shovelsful of goodness and mark the product code on the bag with pens that are provided for the shopper. They do encourage you to bring your own bags or containers, so next time I hit up the Source I’m going to be prepared..and extra righteous!

They have a great selection of gluten free products and I came away with a delicious gf muesli which I’ll definitely be going back for. The staff are super friendly and helpful even though they were clearly very busy when I was there. Looking forward to my next visit, I hope I can stay virtuous and avoid the chocolate frogs basket 😉

The Source is also where I got my walnuts for this week’s pear + pomegranate salad..I got the bulk of these ingredients from an Annabel Langbein recipe, and just adjusted the dressing to my taste. This salad is Good! The combination of crisp pear, crunchy walnut, pomegranate pops and sweet juice is Something You Have To Try 🙂

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Pear + Pomegranate Salad

For the salad:

1 sliced pear

1/2 pomegranate

1 handful walnuts

100g baby spinach

For the dressing:

1 tsp dijon mustard

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar (or less, depending on your taste)

1 squeeze lemon juice

salt + pepper

For the dressing, just shake up all the ingredients in a jar and season to taste. All you need to do then is mix the salad ingredients, and dress..Bon Appétit!

And the other half of my pomegranate? Is going on my gf muesli this week!

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Until next time,

Trini xo

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It doesn’t take much to make a cheap, tasty and delicious supper 🙂

Trini xo

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Taking inspiration from a recent dinner at Pomegranate Thai (1/191 Darling Street, Balmain), here is my own take on fresh scallops with vermicelli, fresh chilli and lime..I got my fresh scallops from Joe’s Catch of the Day in Balmain and some great cooking tips too.. Thanks Deecy (sorry if I have spelled your name incorrectly)! Unlike Pomegranate’s steamed scallops, I cooked mine in the fry pan with some olive oil, finely chopped chilli, lime juice and chopped coriander…delicious! Don’t forget to wash the shells before you plate up your scallops, and it’s best to dust the raw scallops with a little flour before you cook them so they hold their shape.

If you’re heading to Pomegranate Thai then be sure to try the Balmain Stir Fry with Beef and the Lamb Massaman Curry..you won’t be disappointed 🙂

Trini xo