China Doll, Woolloomooloo

Lick’n Lychees cocktail

A belated farewell to our favourite chef/food blogger Lex, who has headed off to Canada for a working holiday! We farewelled him in style with some drinks and delicious food at China Doll on Woolloomooloo Wharf, where he had just finished working. As a result we were well and truly spoilt, with an insider to tell us what to order and head chef Frank Shek sending out some of China Doll’s best dishes, some of which were on the house.

Sashimi of hiramasa kingfish and ocean trout with blackened chilli dressing – $26

We place our palates into the hands of the very capable chefs and start with the cold sashimi dish first. The red colour of the dish worries me at first but I find that the spice factor is very mild and is careful not to overpower the delicate taste of the kingfish and ocean trout. Hiding underneath the slices of fish are batons of crunchy apple which provide a nice crunchy texture against the soft fish.

Crispy school prawns with lime mayonnaise

The crispy school prawns are a blackboard special tonight and turn out to be one of my favourite dishes. The prawns are absolutely addictive, particularly when smothered in the lime mayonnaise and an extra squeeze of fresh lime.

Prawn and mushroom steamed dumpling with tobiko and red vinegar – $20

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Black Star Pastry, Newtown

I love having so many friends who are into food because I can always trust them to start raving about the amazing food they’ve eaten. Black Star Pastry was one of these places that kept popping up in conversation, and I kept hearing about how awesome their lamb shank pies and cakes were from people at Sydney Uni.

It’s a bit of a trek from the main campus but totally worth the walk (or if you’re feeling lazy, just get a bus). The shop itself is quite small but there are benches and chairs on the pavement outside where you can sit and enjoy your pastries and coffee.

There are a range of sandwiches and savoury pastry items on the blackboard to choose from, as well as a display cabinet full of sweets. I have my mind set on getting the lamb shank pie just to see if it lives up to the hype, as well as a few sweet cakes and pastries to take home.

Lamb shank, red wine and vegetable pie – $7

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Red Chilli Sichuan Restaurant, Chatswood

Let it be known that I have a pathetic chilli tolerance. What is a slightly unpleasant heat in Sir D’s mouth translates as a burning fire made of a million chillies in mine, and requires gallons of water (or milk, or rice) to extinguish. So I’m a bit hesitant to join Sir D’s family for dinner at Red Chilli Sichuan Restaurant since Sichuan food is known for packing quite a lot of heat.

Chinese Tea – $1pp

It’s a Thursday night but the place is packed and we have to wait for a table. Sir D has been before with his family so I let them take charge of the ordering for the most part. The menu is pretty substantial and there are chillies alongside the name of the dish to denote the spicy ones.

Special crispy duck (half) – $20.80

We start with a non-spicy dish to satisfy our tastebuds before they get burnt off. Half a duck arrives on our table and the skin is brown and crisp with tender, succulent meat. I’m usually a bit wary of things that claim to be “special” (especially “special sauce”) but this duck is cooked and seasoned nicely with a bit of a soy sauce flavour in the skin.

Steamed and deep-fried Chinese bread served with condensed milk (8 pcs) – $9.80

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Bells at Killcare, Killcare

A belated happy new year to everyone out there and I hope you all had a relaxing Christmas and new year break! I wouldn’t say that my holiday season was particularly relaxing as such but thankfully Sir D and I took a little break before Christmas and we headed up to Bells at Killcare on the Central Coast.

 Killcare Beach (left); The fireplace in the cottage (right)

We stayed in one of the cottages on the Bells property which were cosy and well-stocked. There was a huge bed, a spa bath and a real fireplace! Yes I was quite excited by the fire – Sir D got it working every night and it did a good job of warming up the place which got quite chilly once the sun set. There was a breakfast hamper provided every morning which we cooked ourselves on the bbq on the deck, and the rest of the days were spent exploring the nearby beaches.

Seashell light on the table (left); Olives and parmesan crisps (right)

On the last night we headed to the restaurant to indulge in a three course dinner. The dining room is spacious and decked out in nautical blue and white tones and seashells. The waitstaff are smiling and pleasant and very attentive to our every need, and after we place our order a small plate of mixed olives and parmesan crisps arrives on our table.

Veal crudo with extra virgin olive oil, lemon and Reggiano – $24

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