Archives for posts with tag: Sydney

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Beautiful and historic, the Rocks precinct is the perfect place for weekend strolling, gallery visits, market trawling and lazy lunching. Nestled between Sydney Cove and Walsh Bay, a walk in The Rocks affords some spectacular views of Sydney Harbour, the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. It’s a popular area for tourists and on market days it can be hard to navigate your way amongst streaming tourists, but well worth the effort if only to admire the sandstone beauty and historic charm of the area. A walk taken further afield to the backstreets will take you through some quaint looking alleyways and winding staircases, with more expansive views of the harbour the higher you climb. On this occasion, we walked all the way around to the Walsh Bay area, an urban industrial locality home to numerous performing arts venues, theatres, restaurants and other gentrification projects. At the inner core of this harbour strip between the historic Rocks and Walsh Bay area lies the infamous Sirius Building, a 1970s concrete apartment block built to house public tenants displaced during redevelopment projects of the 1960s and 1970s. Residents of this one and only high rise building in the Rocks will be safe to stay until 2030, when ownership transfers back to the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority. It will be interesting to see what comes of the building then. Other public housing properties remain in the area and many are marked with yellow ribbons in doors and windows, signifying opposition to redevelopment plans in nearby Millers Point and Barangaroo.

If you have the energy to walk up the hill to Sydney Observatory, you’ll be rewarded with some great views of the city and the harbour, not to mention the sky. Also, you will feel righteous enough to stop off on your way  back down at Le Renaissance French Patisserie for some delectable macarons and super-fine pastry treats.For lunch in the Rocks, my favourite spot is the MCA Cafe and Sculpture Terrace at the Museum of Contemporary Arts. With a seasonal menu, a stunning view of the harbour and contemporary art exhibits at your fingertips, you simply can’t go wrong.

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I’ve been doing some baking of my own this weekend for my sister’s birthday. This recipe for Chocolate Brownies is tried and true in our family. I added a little bit of extra dark chocolate this time around, but they are delicious with or without it.

Chocolate Brownies, Tried and True

150g butter

1 1/4 cups castor sugar

3/4 cup cocoa

3 eggs

1/2 cup plain white flour

100g dark chocolate, finely chopped

1 tsp vanilla extract

2-3 tbsp pure icing sugar

Preheat oven to 160°C and grease and line a 23cm square baking tin. Melt the butter, sugar and cocoa together over a medium heat and the sugar is dissolved and the butter melted. Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl, then add in the vanilla extract and the melted chocolate mixture. Fold in the plain flour, followed by the chocolate pieces. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let the brownies cool completely, then dust with icing sugar and cut into squares.

 

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A recipe I’ve been meaning to post for a few weeks, this Mediterranean Rice Salad was my contribution to our family’s Christmas dinner. It’s a summery and fresh salad with Christmas colours to boot, and I thought it would fit in nicely with these photos from a recent trip to Balmoral Beach in Sydney’s Harbour.

Mediterranean Rice Salad

1 and 1/4 cups arborio rice

1 red capsicum, diced

1 red onion, diced

3 celery stalks, finely chopped

1/2 cup kalamata olives, finely chopped

1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Juice from 1-2 lemons

To cook the rice, bring a medium sized saucepan of water to the boil, then add the rice and cook for about 10 mins or until the rice has softened but retains a little firmness. You don’t want it to be too soft as it will be too mushy for the salad. Drain the rice into a sifter and rinse with cold water, then set aside to cool.

When the rice has cooled, simply place in a large bowl with all of the salad ingredients and mix well to combine.

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With so many cafes and restaurants on offer on Darling Street, Balmain, it’s easy to miss a good one – especially when you find a cafe or two that you can’t seem to go past on account of their high standards of food and service. Ciao Thyme has been one such cafe for me, just that little bit further from the main cluster of shops and restaurants so handy to my own front door. Yet this weekend I was rewarded by my efforts to go the extra (half) mile and have found another brunch hot spot to add to my treasury of favourites.

A small but airy and inviting corner cafe, Ciao Thyme has an italian inspired selection of deli foods including quiches, sandwiches, pastries and salads as well as a blackboard list of breakfast menu items cooked to order with most of the usual suspects on offer. It’s quiet when we go but clear that it’s a well run and efficient business with attentive staff and fresh food well done, without pretence.

Although I could easily have chosen any of the deli items presented with today, I settled on the smoked trout, rocket and eggplant quiche, beautifully made, with a flaky buttery pastry that didn’t buckle under its filling. To accompany said quiche, I chose a sweet potato salad with chickpea, feta, olives and parsley, which delivered a satisfying combination of flavours and textures, and inspired me to become a little more adventurous with my own salads. My sister’s toasted chorizo focaccia might have provoked some envious sidelong glances had I not been so distracted by the deliciousness of my own lunch. All such feelings were avoided at the dessert stage as we made an amicable decision to share a raspberry and almond slice with coffee that, both agreed, was the best we’ve tried in Balmain to date.

Ciao Thyme is everything you want your local cafe to be – casual but distinctive in character, with a regular rotation of seasonal dishes (which I know because I walk past here most days of the week) and high quality produce. Now to make up for the many months it’s taken me to discover it!

Ciao Thyme, 212 Darling Street, Balmain, NSW 2041 (02) 9555 5455

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Even though I understand coconuts are available year round, for me they are the essence of summer. Just the scent of coconut transports me straight to the beach no matter how far from one I may be. Conjuring memories of road tripping the NSW north coast with my surfer brother, coconut surf wax drifting through the haze from the boot outwards, coconut is the emblem of vacation. It also recalls golden days of childhood adolescence reaching for the third fourth piece of coconut slice in that special tin of Mum’s, always and ever a family token. Memories aside, coconut has also captured my imaginations of the present this summer, and it’s been the feature ingredient on my mind these past few weeks. A morning tea at work this week gave me the perfect excuse to bring out an old and treasured family recipe for coconut slice that is so easy and quick to make that it can be done in half the time it takes to get to the supermarket and back.

Since I can’t be on a proper holiday this summer I’ve been making the most of what my home city has to offer, and Sydney in January really isn’t such a bad place to be. The roads are quiet, the nights are long and there’s plenty going on around town as part of the annual Sydney Festival. I couldn’t resist including some pictures from a recent trip to Palm Beach, Sydney’s northernmost beach and a beach haven/heaven for lovers of sunshine, surf, beach walking and lazy summer days.

My tips for this recipe are to make the slice a day ahead and to let the slice cool completely before icing. I tend to pour the icing on to the slice and pick up the tin to move it around, because if you use a knife or spatula the crumbs from the slice will mix into the icing. After icing, store in the fridge overnight before removing to slice and serve. This will ensure that you get nicely cut, even squares (or rectangles, if that’s how you like to roll).

Coconut Slice

125g unsalted butter, melted

1 cup self raising flour

1 cup desiccated coconut, plus extra to serve

1/2 brown sugar, firmly packed

~2 cups pure icing sugar

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease and line a 28 x 18 cm slice tin. Combine the flour, brown sugar and coconut in a bowl. Add in the butter and mix well. Press into the slice tin and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and mix in the lemon juice. You may need to adjust the amounts to get the consistency you are after, which should not be too thick. Scatter the desiccated coconut over the slice and set in the refrigerator.

*Makes 18 squares.


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It seems I just can’t get enough of the beach this summer, and I’m wondering how it is that I managed to spend the last five or six summers of my life living away from the coast. Since moving back to Sydney I’ve been taking every opportunity I can get to head to one of Sydney’s many spectacular beaches to explore new spots and rediscover some old favourites. This morning I headed over to Collaroy on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and took a walk from the south end of the beach, which took me around the headland and over to the north end of Longreef Beach. There’s an aquatic reserve along this stretch between Collaroy and Longreef, and a rocky reef plateau perfect for wanderers (and wonderers) like me. The headland at Longreef is a popular spot for paragliders, and on a morning like this I could definitely be tempted to give this sport a try. Definitely Maybe, that is. For today though, a walk and a swim was the perfect way to start a summer Saturday. The water has warmed up significantly since I first started swimming in the ocean again in September and if I had come better prepared with sunscreen I could have stayed on the beach all morning.

A summer swim can’t be without a summer breakfast, and this muesli provides the perfect sustenance for a Sydney summer’s day. Surprisingly easy and satisfying to make, I wonder why I haven’t been making this myself until now. The best thing about making your own muesli is that you can make it just exactly how you like, and not have to deal with ingredients you find offensive. I can’t say that I have any specific aversions for my muesli ingredients, but I will say (again) that the simplest combinations are often the best, and there is definitely a place in my heart for the humble dried apricot. Here’s my recipe for homemade apricot muesli, which you can adapt or adhere to as you please.

Apricot Muesli

2 cups rolled oats

2 cups wheat-bran sticks

3/4 cup coconut flakes

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons slivered almonds

150 ml fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons honey

3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped

3/4 cup sultanas

Preheat oven to 150°C. Combine all of the dry ingredients except the slivered almonds and dried fruit. Heat the orange juice and honey together over a low heat until warm, then mix through the dry ingredients. Spread the mixture out on a large baking tray or shallow dish and bake for 30 mins or until the mixture is lightly toasted. Toast the slivered almonds separately in a dry pan over a medium heat until just toasted. When both mixtures have fully cooled, stir to combine with the apricots and sultanas added. Store for up to one month in an airtight container.

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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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This weekend I went for a morning swim at Sydney’s beautiful Manly Beach. It seems that the water is getting warmer every week, as I managed to stay in for at least ten minutes this time! It was a beautiful Spring day and perfect for the walk from Queenscliff at the north end of Manly beach all the way up to Shelley Beach, about an hour’s leisurely walk there and back. Had I more time to spare (and by that I mean more money in the parking metre!) I would have loved to have done the Manly to Spit Bridge walk, a 10km walk which takes you up over North Head and through the Sydney Harbour National Park to the Spit Bridge in Seaforth. Next time I think I’ll take the ferry and do just that.

What I love about Manly is the fun loving vibe along the beach. There’s always so much going on in Manly and the beach is big enough to cater a crowd without feeling crowded. From the surf schools to the beach volley ball courts and surf life saving clubs, the beach is a hub of activity for locals and tourists alike, and has a great promenade for running/walking/cycling/rollerblading/pram pushing, as well as plenty of grass and shade. I also love the walk around to Shelley Beach because of its Mediterranean feel and the serenity of the beach itself, tucked away from the wind and one of Sydney’s best spots for snorkelling.

On the Corso, there are plenty of shops and restaurants and on Saturdays and Sundays you can visit the Manly Market Place, a smallish market but good enough that if money were no object I could have found something to buy at every stall. Home of the Manly Jazz Festival and the Manly Food, Wine & Sustainability Festival, there are plenty of reasons to visit Manly if not just for the sun, surf and sand alone.

A few quick facts I learned about Manly: The town area was the traditional home of the Kay-ye-my and Cannalgal clans. When Captain Arthur Phillip Jackson sailed into what we now know as Manly Cove in 1788, he wrote that the natives of the land had waded into the water unarmed and that their ‘confidence and manly behaviour’ made him give the name of Manly Cove to the area. An initially amicable relationship turned sour when it became clear that the visitors would outstay their welcome and also introduce a wave of smallpox disease, kidnappings, theft and shootings that would wipe out almost the entire existing community. It is a sad fact that the beautiful surroundings and fun loving Manly we enjoy today comes at the cost of such a dark chapter in our nation’s history.

All in all, it was a great day to explore and learn a little about one of Sydney’s most treasured spots, and I can’t wait to visit again. The council does a great job of keeping the town clean and it’s clear that this is a corner of Sydney that the locals take a lot of pride in. I’d recommend taking the bus or ferry if you can, as it’s only about 30 minutes either way from the city, and then you don’t have to worry about paying for or finding a park.

After a big walk and a refreshing swim I had a big appetite for these zucchini fritters, which I had been meaning to try after coming across the recipe on one of my favourite blogs, Smitten Kitchen.This recipe is fail safe, and the result was delicious! I highly recommend.

Until next time,

Trini xo

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This weekend I spent a lazy Saturday morning at the Dawn Fraser Baths at Elkington Park in Balmain. It seems that this little pocket of the inner west is a treasure trove of hidden gems like this spot. Built in the early 1880s, the baths is Australia’s oldest pool and home to Australia’s oldest swimming club. The first game of water polo was also played here in 1888 and it continues to host the International Water Polo games. It’s the old school vibe of the baths that makes it so special, and as it’s (thankfully) on the heritage list of the National Trust it looks as though it’s a Sydney institution that is here to stay. When I went down it was the first open day of the season, as the baths are only open from October through to April. Although it was only the first day of the season, it seems that there were many like me who were keen to get down there and soak up the sunshine before a dip in the pool. The soaking up of the sunshine took up the majority of my visit though as the water was pretty chilly, although not as cold as the water at Bondi last week. The baths is a great place to go on an outing with family and friends, as there is a huge expanse of decking and plenty of shaded seating, not to mention a great view of the harbour. It was fairly entertaining watching people work up the nerve to jump in and then swim furiously for a lap or so to adjust to the chilly temperature. It seemed that every time somebody jumped or waded in everybody stopped to look on and gauge their reaction (and their own readiness to brave the water!). There are lanes for lap swimmers and also a large area with a sandy beach which is great for kids. Standing in the shallows I saw heaps of jelly fish and other schools of tiny fish as well as some not-so-tiny fish! The baths is lifeguarded and the water quality is tested by Harbourwatch. It’s the perfect place to head with a group of friends or the family, or even just by yourself with a book – something I intend to do a lot of this Spring and Summer! The baths also runs yoga classes every Wednesday at 9.30 am and every Sunday at 8.00 am during Summer.

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All this warm weather we’ve been having in Sydney has me particularly excited about spring and summer flavours – fresh herbs and tomatoes especially! Here’s my recipe for a delicious and healthy thai beef salad.

Simple Thai Beef Salad

300g rump or fillet steak

1 clove garlic, finely sliced

1/3 cup soy sauce

1 tbsp fish sauce

80g salad mix

12 cherry tomates, halved

1 cucumber, sliced,

1/2 carrot, julienned

1/4 spanish onion, finely sliced

1 small handful of mint leaves

For the dressing:

1/3 cup lime juice

1 tbsp fish sauce

2 tsp brown sugar

Marinate the steaks in the soy sauce, 1 tbsp fish sauce and the garlic for 1-2 hours. When ready to cook, sear the beef fillet in a hot pan on both sides for 3 mins, or until cooked to your liking. Leave to rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the rest of the salad.

To prepare the salad, simply combine the salad ingredients. To prepare the dressing, combine the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar and adjust the amount of sugar to your taste. When ready to serve, slice the beef thinly across the grain and add to your salad. Bon appétit!

Serves 2

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We’ve been so lucky to have weekend after weekend of spectacularly sunny days in Sydney. Here’s a few pics I took over the weekend at Bondi. The Bondi-Bronte walk is one of my favourite places in Sydney. I’m looking forward to the sculpture by the sea  exhibition held along the coastline from Bondi to Tamarama every year. This year it starts on 24 October.

I often run out of inspiration for weekday lunches, but this week I decided to roast some sweet potato, pumpkin and potato for something a little different. It’s a delicious and healthy option that is easy on the budget and requires minimal fuss.

All you have to do is chop approximately 2 cups of your favourite vegetables and drizzle them with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with sea salt and cracked pepper and roast at 200°C for 30 minutes, or until done (I use a knife to make sure the veg are cooked through). A little fresh rosemary goes a long way too, if you have it on hand. If the vegetables are still a little oily, you can drain them on some paper towel. I had my veg on a wrap with some lettuce mix, but there’s plenty of other things you could do. Eat them as they are or mix through some cous cous or quinoa for a more substantial salad.

Until next time,

Trini xo

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Here’s another super easy recipe, perfect for a weeknight meal and delicious! At least I think so..

Prosciutto Pasta with Red Wine and Tomatoes

250g dried fettucine

100g prosciutto

400g tin whole tomatoes

1 clove garlic, crushed

1-2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 small glass red wine

1 tbsp white vinegar

1 handful fresh basil leaves

Sea salt + cracked pepper

Parmesan cheese, grated

Serves 2

To make sauce, fry the garlic and chilli flakes in some olive oil to start with. Add the prosciutto to the pan and fry for a minute or so to firm it up. Use a knife to chop the tomatoes in the tin. I find it’s sometimes nice to have a few bigger pieces, but if you don’t like chunky sauces then you could use crushed tomatoes or passata instead for a smooth consistency. Add the vinegar and red wine, then season to taste. Once the sauce has reached the boil (this wont take long), turn the heat to low and simmer for 10 mins or so, adding in the basil leaves during the last few mins. You could cook the pasta during this stage, then all you need to do is serve it up, and enjoy! With a little parmesan and cracked black pepper of course 😉

As a side note, I thought I’d share some pics with you that I took at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival at the Town Hall in Sydney on Friday night. This was my first fashion show and I have to say I really enjoyed it..here’s a few of my top pics from the Instyle red carpet runway show. I couldn’t really say which designers were most impressive as I loved them all, but I think I will definitely be taking a few cues from the Camilla collection this spring and summer. I particularly loved the Steven Khalil and Rachel Gilbert collections as well.

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1. Steven Khalil

2. Steven Khalil

3. Camilla

4. MJ Bale…cute!!

Until next time 🙂

Trini xo