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Cafe Enzo, Polkolbin

Outdoor seating

Despite having lived in Sydney all my life, it was only recently that I managed to convince Sir D that a trip to the Hunter Valley would be a good idea. Good food, cheese and wine tasting and a room with a king size bed, giant TV and spa – what’s not to love?

Campos coffee - $4

After road tripping it for a couple of hours we finally arrived at our destination. And our first stop was to refuel (ourselves, not the car) at Cafe Enzo. Coffee was just what we needed, and the little tiny teddy served on the side was a cute touch.

Scones - $15 (includes tea or coffee)
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Yoshii, The Rocks

It was my birthday earlier this week, and knowing my love of Japanese food all too well, Sir D treated me to dinner at Yoshii in The Rocks. Clearly Monday nights are not their busiest, as we were the only two people in the restaurant the whole time! But this just made it a little bit more special, with excellent service and little gifts from the sushi chef such as the carrot butterfly sitting on top of a lump of wasabi – “For the photos”, he said.

Sake (180ml) - $15

We started by ordering some sake which came in a cool little pouring box. The sake is poured out of a small hole in the corner of the box without having to lift the lid because inside the box are indentations for the liquid to flow through. Sir D was quite fascinated by this contraption the whole night.

At Yoshii there is the option of selecting from two tasting menus (Yoshii course for $140 or Saqura course for $130) or choosing from the a la carte menu from Monday to Thursday. We went all out and went with one of each of the tasting menus so we could sample as much of the food as possible.

White truffle flavoured egg custard with mushroom foam

Both tasting menus begin with a chawanmushi, or egg custard, which is served in a small tea cup with mushroom foam on the surface. The cup is heady with the aroma of truffle oil, and cutting through the light as air mushroom foam reveals a smooth and silky egg custard. Despite the delicate texture of the dish, it is packed with umami from the mushrooms and the dashi stock in the egg custard and a sign of more deliciousness to come.

Appetisers
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Honeycomb

As a child I remember eating fun-size Violet Crumbles and Crunchies by gnawing away on the outside chocolate layer and then relishing the crunchy, sweet honeycomb centre afterwards.

I always thought that the honeycomb was some magical, bubble-filled candy that you could only buy in shops, but recently I discovered how easy it is to make. This gets a little dangerous when you have a whole box of honeycomb to yourself and you start eating it non-stop like you’re eating popcorn at a movie. Very dangerous indeed.

As long as you have a candy thermometer, it’s super easy and quick to whip up a batch of these. Be sure to keep an eye on your melting sugar so that it doesn’t burn (because I assure you, the smell will linger in your kitchen for ages!). And don’t be alarmed when the mixture foams up like crazy when you add the bicarb – it’s supposed to happen.

I love eating the pieces of honeycomb on its own, but you could always jazz up this basic recipe by half or fully coating the pieces in dark chocolate once the honeycomb is set. Alternatively, crush it up and sprinkle it over your favourite ice cream, mousse or cake for some extra sugary goodness. Or you could always take a leaf out of Bill Granger’s book and mix some crushed honeycomb with butter, and serve the honeycomb butter with hotcakes, pancakes or crumpets.

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Bistro 80, Pyrmont

With so many new big-ticket, fine dining restaurants opening at The Star, and a casino floor filled with poker machines, roulette and blackjack, it’s easy to think that a night at The Star will burn a hole in your wallet. A visit to Bistro 80 proved that this doesn’t have to be the case.

Inside Bistro 80

Still retaining some of the decor from its predecessor, Sean’s Kitchen, Bistro 80 is now headed up by Paul Gaspa serving simple, bistro-style dishes at prices that won’t make your jaw drop.

Remy's Delight - $16

It also helps that there is a bar right next door which means there is no excuse to order a pre-dinner cocktail! I opt for the Remy’s Delight, mainly because I see that there is moscato in it heh. The four types of liquor in this cocktail ensures that it packs a punch but aside from the slight burning, the flavour is citrussy and refreshing from the lime and passionfruit.

Tequila Smash - $14

Tequila-lover Sir D can’t got past the Tequila Smash, which is made using reposado (aged) tequila, vanilla and cinnamon syrup and smashed seasonal fruits. Tonight’s fruits are an interesting combination of kiwifruit and blood orange.

The Ocean Shelf

At Bistro 80, there is the option of ordering fresh seafood from “The Ocean Shelf”, some of which is proudly displayed on ice in front of the open kitchen. It includes lobsters, king prawns, moreton bay bugs, Alaskan king crab and oysters, however we forego the ocean’s offerings in favour of something a little more meaty.

Flavours of Jamon - $40

We choose two starters to share amongst us, beginning with a charcuterie platter containing three types of Iberico jamon plus pickled onions and cornichons. Even Sir D, who normally doesn’t enjoy charcuterie, admits that the paper-thin slices of jamon which are ribboned with fat are delicious.

Confit duck salad - $18
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The Pie Tin, Newtown

PIE

PIE PIE PIE! Pies are one of my favourite foods in the whole world! There’s something about the buttery pastry – be it short or flaky – encasing a sweet or savoury filling that is so comforting and homely. And where better to satisfy my pie craving than The Pie Tin in Newtown, where there are a crazy number of different pies to choose from.

Pie and 2 sides/salads - $10

I had planned on getting the slow roasted shredded pork with apple & bbq sauce pie but unfortunately there were none left when we arrived. So I settled for the lamb and rosemary pie with kumera mash and boston baked beans with speck/bacon. The pie was amazing with flaky pastry and a rich filling with tender chunks of lamb and the occasional rosemary sprig. Kumera (sweet potato) mash was a nice sweet accompaniment and infinitely better with the addition of gravy. The boston baked beans were so so good with a lovely smoky flavour from the speck and I reckon I could eat a whole bowl of it by myself! Continue reading