El Karim, Roseville

It’s a bid sad to admit but when we go out for dinner for an occasion, we tend to head out towards the city and overlook all the hidden gems studded around our local area. It was time for a change so this time we kept it local and headed to El Karim in Roseville for a birthday celebration.

Lebanese bread

Lebanese food is not something that any of us are particularly familiar with, so we’re grateful for the explanation of what all dishes are on the menu. Each dish is very reasonably priced with nothing over $17, and a couple of set banquet menus for groups. We receive a plate of complimentary pickles to start us off which whet the appetite for the other dishes to come.

Trio of dips: Baba Ghanouj, Labni b'zaatar, Hommos b'awarma - $14

To sample a range of things, we begin with a trio of dips which allows us to select any three of the dips offered. The hommos b’awarma is the clear favourite, with nubbins of lamb mince, onions and pine nuts on top of a creamy hommos. The baba ghanouj is mildly smoky and the labni b’zaatar is a herby, nutty dip which for some reason reminds me of salted peanuts. The dips are served with an absolute mountain of Lebanese bread, which is enough for all the dip and more.

Fattoush - $12

I love the fresh Fattoush salad which has crisp lettuce, tomato and capsicum, and is dusted with sumac. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and some toasted shards of Lebanese bread and you have a salad that is light and refreshing with extra crunch.

Jawaneh - $12
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Kids at SWiTCH Cookies

Penguin says Feed Me has delved into the world of corporate cookies! I had the privilege of making some cookies to mark the launch of a new business, Kids at SWiTCH. These were given out at the information day and though I wasn’t able to attend myself, I heard that the cookies were a hit which is good to know.

It was fun making cookies in the shape of a corporate logo. I used my tried and true basic sugar cookie recipe which was easy enough but I was surprised at how hard it was to find a cookie cutter in the shape of a light bulb (that wasn’t a Christmas light)! Cake Decorating Central saved the day though where I found a Christmas ornament cookie cutter which conveniently looked like a light bulb when turned upside down heh.

These cookies put my piping skills to the test and there were quite a few shaky starts, broken lines of icing and lopsided light bulbs (oops) but I think I got into the rhythm of things after a few retarded-looking light bulbs and started churning out cookies like a machine. Baking and icing cookies is surprisingly therapeutic after a long day at work :)

Anyway, if you’re interested in finding out more about Kids at SWiTCH, head on over to the website to see what they’re all about. And if you’re ever in need of some custom made cookies for your next event, drop me a line by clicking on the ‘Contact’ link at the top of the page.

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Jamie’s Italian, Sydney

No prizes for guessing where we are tonight! After a 45-minute wait in the queue, plus another 90-minute wait after placing our names on the waitlist at the counter, we are finally led to our table at Jamie’s Italian. We also happen to spot some familiar faces during the wait (oh hai!). Big thanks to FFichiban for letting us share his table =D love you long time!

Freshly made pasta

While our table is being readied for us, we watch as one of the chefs stand behind a glass divider making fresh pasta – ricotta-filled ravioli in this case – as a tantalising taste of what is to come. Each raviolo is carefully placed in a wooden box before being dusted with flour and set aside.

Cocktails being made at the bar

We are taken past the bar area, where bellinis and other cocktails are being made by cheerful bar staff, and settle down into our table. There’s a little touch of Jamie everywhere, from the message on the back of the menu, to the branded tea towels that are used as napkins in the restaurants, to the British accents of the waitstaff. We are handed some large A3 sized menus, with the menu divided up into nibbles, antipasti, pasta, mains, sides and desserts. Wanting to try as much as possible, we have a hard time trying to decide what to get, and somehow end up with 6 pastas and risottos to share between the four of us. Bring on the carbs!

Crispy squid - $12
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Hyde Park Barracks Cafe, Sydney

As much as I love the Crave Sydney International Food Festival month, uni work tends to always get in the way of me going to all the events I want to. Last year it was my thesis, and this year I was inundated with assignments because the lecturers thought it would be fun for us to have them all due in the same week. I was glad to have the final week of Crave to go to the events that I wanted to and Sir D and I decide to head out to a nice brunch at Hyde Park Barracks Cafe one weekend.

Home-made granola, natural yoghurt and poached fruit

Brunch is a three-course affair here, priced at $25pp and served with English Breakfast tea or filtered coffee. We start with some granola with yoghurt, berry compote and poached pear. The granola is crunchy and I love finding big chunks of granola stuck together. It’s a little dry and could have done with a bit more yoghurt but it’s a good start to the meal and the poached pear provides a nice sweetness to the dish.

Eggs three ways
Eggs three ways
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La Bodeguita del Medio, Sydney

Uni is officially almost over for the year which means more time for blogging! So last week after handing in my last major assignment for the semester, Sir D and I went to celebrate and check out La Bodeguita del Medio (LBDM) – a Cuban restaurant and bar right opposite the Queen Victoria Building. The name itself is a bit of a mouthful to say so we just refer to it as “that Cuban place” and since there’s not too many of them around, we know exactly where we’re talking about.

Mojito - $14 (left) and Daiquiri - $14 (right)

You can’t go to a Cuban restaurant and bar without having some rum – which is exactly what we did to kick off the night. The cocktails here are seriously good. I don’t normally drink Mojitos, but I will make an exception for the ones at LBDM because they’re not too sweet or too sour, and are the perfect balance of lime, sugar and mint.

Pan con Lechón - $18
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