Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Maenam Lao and Thai, Strathfield

Maenam Lao and Thai is highly rated by Strathfield food lovers at a 94% like rate. It's tough because you have high expectations when you see a high rating.

With so many options on the menu and lots of people buzzing in and out of the restaurant, I felt a bit overwhelmed. Pictured below is the the flat rice noodle with chicken, egg, cashews and vegetables at $14.50. I love thick rice noodles that are perfectly flavoured in a cashew and chilli jam sauce. It was a solid dish.

The waitress tells me that typically the pad thai, pad see ew and pad kee mao are the most popular dishes but there are enough dishes on the menu to inspire more adventurous patrons.

The red curry with beef ($14.50) looked more yellow than red but nevertheless was still delicious. Overall I'd recommend trying out Maenam Lao and Thai! It's a tasty restaurant but I suspect you'll have to come back a few times to try out their extensive menu.

I'm not sure it quite tops your green pepper corn, home thai or chat thai but it is very tasty. Check out my other thai reviews here. Happy Eating!

Prices: $20 per head

Location: 31 the boulevard, Strathfield. Roughly 3 minute walk from the station

Maenam Lao & Thai on Urbanspoon

Monday, 29 September 2014

Yogurberry, Strathfield

Yogurberry, in Strathfield is minutes away from the station. This means you can sneak in a quick trip before you head on home.  What is the best combination of frozen yoghurt and toppings?  Look at my photos and see if you agree.

Firstly for those who haven't been to a yogurberry shop before, it's a self service store where you pick any combination of frozen yoghurt into the cup, add your toppings and they weigh your cup.

I quite liked the combination of chocolate and coconut frozen yoghurt topped with shreds of coconut and almonds.  Simple, classic flavours and different textures really make this combination work.

Another great combination was the slightly sour berry frozen yoghurt, topped with real strawberries. I also got greedy and added chocolate frozen yoghurt on the other side of cup and added cookie dough chunks, oreo cookie bits and drizzled this with dark chocolate. To top both flavours out, I added a red velvet mini cake.  Thoughts?

Prices: about $5 per cup

Location: 4 the Boulevard, Strathfield

Feeling flirty? See if you can bring your boy or girl onto the swing and lick those spoons as you swing.

Yogurberry on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Broke Fordwich Region, Hunter Valley Region Adventures part 3

My third part of the Broke Fordwich Region will take you to a few more fantastic vineyards where you can taste award winning wine. These areas are equally beautiful as the places to date but you must be prepared to leave some room in your boot for these rare treats.

Broke Fordwich is definitely the place to go if you are looking for a Hunter get away with the premium experience. Be prepared for exclusive wine and for those who are very conscious of what  you put into your body - you must check out the organic wines.

Whispering Brook Vineyard

Whispering Brook Vineyard is a highly exclusive vineyard, cellar door and accommodation estate. Yes, it's a bit posh. With a focus on high quality wine and olives/olive products; they only have a limited release of their products. The photo (below) shows olive trees in the background of the vineyard - look at that beautiful sky!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Connoisseur Ice Cream, Pop up taster

Wowzer, did you manage to stop by the pop up taster launch in Surry Hills?  The pop up store showcased the new flavours of Connoisseur range.  It was a royal launch with the EMPIRE range with fancy names of Kings and Emperors.

Firstly, there's Emperor Nero which is decadent coffee, chocolate coated hazelnuts and hazelnut liquer. It was really nice and the coffee taste was not dominating, the hazelnut flavours definitely came through.

There is also Emperor Jing Zong which was my favourite which was exotic red bean with coconut. Omgz

King Cyprus of Persia was divine pistachio with cinnamon, honey and dates. This was a very popular flavour.  Finally to finish off the range is King Louis XIV, french vanilla ice cream with chocolate flakes and armagnac sauce which should appeal to the Australian audiences who lllooooooveeee vanilla ice cream.

Check it out! I also very much enjoy connoisseur ice cream!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Hurricanes Grill and Bar, Top Ryde

Hurricanes is easily the most popular restaurant in Top Ryde.  Mouth watering ribs, an assort of meats whether that's your steaks, chicken or everything in one. I had a really high quality meal but it wasn't quite up to the usual standards of Hurricanes apparently.

Hurricanes Grill and Bar is a household name initially opening in Bondi and extending to other suburbs.  The Hurricanes at Top Ryde is always very busy with mad queues.   I have never experienced the glory of Hurricanes until today.  To celebrate, I started with a refreshing cold beer.

My eating partner was a bit silly and put some sun glasses on the beer.

My eating companion and I shared half a rack of pork ribs with a Portuguese style cooked chicken. He tells me the ribs are good but something was missing. It was missing the exact desired taste that he had previously had at Bondi and Darling Harbour.

Regardless, we still had a delicious meal. The ribs were succulent and full of flavour.  I've been advised to only order the pork ribs as the beef and chicken just do not compare.  The chicken was nice but not really Portuguese flavoured. The chicken wasn't too different from the ribs actually.

The chips were amazing with the ribs and chicken.  The beer topped the fulfilling meal and made for the ultimate refreshment. I had a nice meal. I'm eager to try the Bondi and Darling Harbour version.

The photo below speaks for itself.

Prices: About $40 per person

Location: Top Ryde Shopping Piazza at Corner Devlin Street and Blaxland Road, Ryde NSW 2112

Hurricane's Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Broke Fordwich Region, Hunter Valley Part 2

Broke Fordwich is a beautiful region of the Hunter Valley.  It's not congested and the people are lovely. The scenery was so beautiful.  Seeing the vineyards with the mountain ranges in the background was amazing! Yellow rock is the big rock that makes that picture perfect. For more areas to explore in the Broke Fordwich Region, check out these wineries.  I will also post some more in part 3.. watch this space.

Check out Part 1 of my Broke adventure here

Stomp! Wines

The owners at Stomp! Wines were so friendly and had a beautiful family.  Being a former Sydney Sider family, they have transformed their lives to now living on such a beautiful winery!  There is also accommodation here if you are looking for a place to stay.

At Stomp! Wines for $6, I tried a trio of wine which complimented with Hunter Valley chocolates. The highlight for me was the sparkling Verdelho. It was a pleasant rare taste of the sparkling Verdelho; I've never seen this before so it was refreshing to see some innovation and a great tasting Verdelho it was. Ask if you can try their port as well. I bought a bottle of both!  Their version of port was very smokey and full of depth.

It's great to see that they are supporting the local chocolate makers too!  There was an orange white chocolate, a white pistachio chocolate and a chili dark chocolate! Indulgence!

Nightingale Wines

What a beautiful day! Look at that sky!  I had the pleasure of staying at Nightingales, eating at Nightingales and also drinking at Nightingales. Wowzer!  Don was looking after us and was lovely.

That's yellow rock in the background there. Beautiful! The photo below is the view from Nightingales.

Location: 1239 Milbrodale Rd, Broke, NSW, 2330

My accommodation was at Nightingale wines which I thought was a very central and great location. It was not far from Margan's, Stomp! Wines and the Starline Alpaca farm. The accommodation was lovely with a spa in the little villa, foxtel on the tv and kitchen facilities.

The lunch I had was very homely and filling!  It's a large meal.  It's not quite as posh as Margan's but you might be looking for a big meal to soak up all that wine you've consumed.

I was eyeing off the lemon and mandarin fish fillet. It was a very generous portion of fish.  The fish was perfectly cooked. There were a few sneaky wedges in there as well.

There were a few other dishes that I was eyeing off nearby.  A quiche looking pie with a beetroot and goat's cheese salad looked particularly delicious.

I had the chicken with vegetables which was very filling. This came in handy after several tastings of Nightingale's wine. This has a very vast range of wines to taste.  Make sure you try a few of them :)

Prices: Mains are all $36, there are lighter meals too that are $17 to $22

You should taste their wines! They have a lot of varieties to try too.

I suggest you grab a table outside if weather permits where the view is amazing and looks out to the vineyard and yellow rock.

Note: I was a guest of the Nightingales and Broke Fordwich Region Tourism Association. My opinions, however are my own!  All the photos are my own!

Nightingales Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

And the winner is... Oscars, Cedar Creek in the Hunter Valley

Located in the Hunter Valley Gardens; Oscars is a casual cafe where you can grab a quick bite for the road. You order at the counter and they bring out your food.

I ordered the burger with the works! The burger was a big stack of beef patty, beef, cheese, bacon, tomato, lettuce and bread! It was a giant burger!! Not bad for a casual cafe.  The burger with the side of fries was $18. Come by to Oscars if you're looking for a casual eat among the posh wineries.

Location: Hunter Valley Gardens, Broke Rd, Pokolbin, NSW, 2320

Prices: About $20 per head

There's also a nice play yard for the kids nearby.

Oscars on Urbanspoon

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. http://www.brokefordwich.com.au/

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