Sunday, 21 September 2014

Broke Fordwich Region, Hunter Valley Adventures part 1

The Broke Fordwich region is so beautiful.  It's often described as tranquil and the Hunter Valley's best kept secret. The Broke Fordwich Region is so quiet, peaceful and full of the most delicious and palatable food and wine.  I've met so many friendly people. I had some great meals here and have met some fun alpacas. I think I've discovered the best parts of the Hunter!!

Check out their website for more info.

If you are looking to skip the queues, get some real time with the locals and witness some of the magic of where the best wines are made then come to the Broke Fordwich region.  Some of the eldest wineries are from the Broke Fordwich area.


Location: 1238 Milbrodale Rd, Broke, Hunter Valley, NSW, 2330

Prices: $135 for a 5 course degustation with matching wines

I would describe the Margan estate as elegant with a touch of posh. Margan's is a very popular restaurant and cellar door in the Broke Fordwich region of the Hunter Valley.  Margan's is full of very easy to drink wine and you will be very tempted to buy lots of wine (which I did on my way home).

I had a sample of the great food from Margan's. The photo above and below was an array of fresh garden vegetables with mascarpone.  This was matched with a taste of the 2013 White Label Semillon and also a taste of the 2009 Aged Release Semillon.  Light, fruity and just so easy to drink. It was just a touch of heaven.

The 2009 Aged Release Semillon was so delicious that I went back and bought a bottle.

The main (above) consisted of Beef, Leek, Potato and Bone Marrow. The beef was perfectly cooked and was melt in your mouth.  The reds to accompany this main were lovely.  The 2011 White Label Barbera and the 2011 Special Release Claret. It was not a heavy, full bodied wine - it was a beautiful medium bodied wine that just brought out the flavours in the meat. Another one to buy - The Barbera.

The dessert was the Zokoko chocolate which had a dash of coconut, malt with a side of milk sorbet. Delicious! The perfect sweet treat to conclude the meal.  The very sweet 2011 Margan Botrytis Semillon was very easy to drink.

The highlight of Margan's has to be that all their food (aside from protein) is all sourced from their garden which you can take a walk through!  You can taste the difference with ultimate freshness exploding in your mouth.   The Cellar room is so very pretty and is a popular wedding reception location.

Starline Alpaca Farm

No Hunter Valley trip is complete without the exploration of the Starline Alpaca Farm in Broke Fordwich.  It's an accommodation home as well as a place to get to know some cute alpacas.  You can buy an alpaca too. Or just buy an alpaca product from the gift shop...

Location: 1100 Milbrodale Rd, Broke, Hunter Valley, NSW, 2330

 I met the most amazing alpacas who were very soft, passive and elegant creatures.  Kelly, the owner at Starline told me that there are very social white Alpacas named Lucy and Charlie.  As we called out "Lucccyyyy, Charrlieeeee", they were very shy and slowly walked up while we fed the alpacas.  The baby alpacas were so adorable.

You can experience this for a measly $5 for a bag of alpaca food.  I was shrieking in fear, joy and entertainment in one. Alpacas only have teeth on the top so while they eat out of your hand, it's like a gentle nibble on your hand. It was an amazing experience!

If you are game enough then you must see the black alpacas that seem a lot more confident.

Tip: Wear sensible shoes and be careful of alpaca poo. Be aware of where the bag of alpaca food is, that's what they're after ultimately.

Note: I was a guest of the Broke Fordwich Region Tourism Association however all my opinions are my own.   Please note that some of my adventures were self funded and I would happily come back to explore everything again.  All my photos are my own.

Margan Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, 19 September 2014

Manmaruya, Ashfield

Bento boxes are the perfect box of variety and deliciousness. Manmaruya is located on the main strip of Ashfield.  Competing with a lot of popular dumpling houses, Manmaruya was jam packed on a weeknight when I had dinner with a friend.

Tasty liquids of Asahi and miso soup. Which to drink first?  The mini tuna roll at $4.50 was a quick entree to share.  It was nothing amazing but nothing horrible either.

The Bento Boxes were very easy to eat at $19. Salmon pieces, fried dumplings, seaweed, salad, sashimi pieces with a side of rice magically disappeared into my belly.  The salmon was perfectly cooked and very flavoursome.

Similarly, the chicken katsu bento box was quickly devoured at $16.  I would definitely recommend eating at Manmaruya!  A nice and reasonably priced restaurant.

Prices: About $20 per person

Location: 217 Liverpool st, Ashfield

Manmaruya on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Grounds of Alexandria, Alexandria

The Grounds of Alexandria is a lush cafe which brings hoards of people lining up for their posh breakfasts.  The key is to get there bright and early or be prepared to wait and be oh so very hungry (because you will be waiting a long time).

The picture (top right) - I really liked their quirky bottle of water and funky little containers for sugar, pink salt and pepper. The picture (bottom) shows a glimpse of the hussle and bussle.

How about that breakfast burger? The delicious breakfast burger was served up on a delicious roll with trimmings of egg, bacon and lettuce.  The polenta chips were very thick and a little bit bland. 

The turkish eggs (poached eggs) were smoothered in tangy yoghurt.  The eggs sat on a bed of spicy tomato, corn, spinach and potato. Served up with freshly baked bread; this breakfast went down too well. 

The drinks seem to be a little bit out of order so I pretty much devoured my meal before I received my chai latte. I think Grounds of Alexandria is beautiful, great product (in fresh produce and great cooking) but the amazing popularity of this cafe has yet to find its balance to cope with the hoards of people wanting a piece of action. 

Get there really early or be prepared to wait.. a long time. I'd definitely come back if I am awake early enough. 

The Grounds of Alexandria on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Sakae Japanese Dining, Eastwood

For a supersized Bento deal, I went to Sakae Japanese Dining in Eastwood.  I was so very hungry and decided to treat myself.  Boy am I glad I came here to fulfill my hunger for lunch!

I had the classic roasty rice flavours mixed in with refreshing green tea.  Green tea is a must for any Japanese meal.

For $16.80, I had a large bento box full of karaage chicken, sushi (my choice of main), sashimi, salad, pickles and a spring roll.  The fried chicken was beautiful with the mayo.  The sushi and sashimi were good and provided a cold texture to the chicken.

To complete the meal, the mini udon completely satisfied my hunger.  The classic pieces of tofu, tempura and spring onion accompanied the udon noodle soup.

Located in the main strip of Eastwood, Sakae competes with tasty neighbours in Yum Cha, Vietnamese and coffee lovers. I haven't been here for over a year but I very much enjoyed my most recent experience. A nice Japanese restaurant for lunch - particularly the bento boxes!

Prices: Come in for lunch for their specials.  You can choose from the $13.50 menu or you can go all out like myself and get the super deal at $16.80

Sakae Japanese Dining Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Kirrakaze, Kirribilli

Kirrakaze is a little hole in the wall Japanese Eatery located in Kirribilli. Many office workers pop in and out ordering sushi, Teriyaki rice dishes and dash back to work. I was looking for something light but filling but I sat down to take a breather.

I ordered the Takoyaki Balls ($7) below which were exactly how I love them.  They were crispy and slightly crunchy on the outside filled with soft filling of potato and octopus topped with some Japanese mayonnaise. 

I also ordered the Teriyaki chicken with salad.  The salad was pretty abysmal to be honest. Random chunks of lettuce, big pieces of tomato and cucumber don't particularly make it appealing to eat but it still provided a side of refreshment to the chicken.  The chicken was luckly fabulous and saved my meal. Packed full of flavour and perfectly cooked ($8). 

If you have time, go for a walk along the coastal line or sit under the Harbour Bridge!

Prices: $10-15 for a main
Location: 9B Broughton St, Kirribilli 

Kirrakaze on Urbanspoon

Monday, 15 September 2014

Ikea Restaurant, Rhodes

I love Ikea meatballs but I had lunch plans but could not resist... so I ordered the kids portion at $3.50.  WOWzer! 5 meatballs drenched in a white sauce and a sweet cranberry sauce with a side of chips.  To round off my snack, I also bought a carton of Dryck Lingon at $1.30.

According to the Ikea website,  "Lingonberries grow wild in many ancient forests throughout the Northern hemisphere. Serve this drink chilled as a thirst quencher, or with your optional meal. The product is organic."

Yum, Yum, Yum.

For another $3.50, my friend wanted to have the almond slice which I thought was nice but if I only had $3.50 up my sleeve, I would have just bought the kids meatball meal!!!! I love it!

IKEA Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, 12 September 2014

Rengaya, North Sydney

Rengaya is known for it's Japanese BBQ and according to one of my colleagues, their lunch bentos. It's a posh restaurant hidden in the concrete jungle of North Sydney.

The green tea was very unique in being a very bright green. It was a subtle flavour then your normal brown rice / green tea. The decore inside is filled with wooden tables with Japanese BBQ hot plates in the middle of the tables.

For $25, you can purchase a delicious "business" lunch Bento box at $24.90. The teriyaki salmon is very popular with a side of rice and miso soup. It also comes with a mini udon, three pieces of salmon sashimi, spring roll and wagyu beef tataki.

I absolutely Japanese food for it's variety, in particular its Bento Boxes! I ordered the "beef sukiyaki"which was wagyu beef Business Lunch Bento. It was a very filling bento box. I am looking forward to coming back to Rengaya to try their Japanese BBQ!

Prices: $25 to $40 per head. It's $70 per head for the buffet set where you cook your own food

Location: 73 Miller St, North Sydney

Rengaya on Urbanspoon