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Arroz con Leche (Rice Pudding)

Now that the weather is getting cooler here in Sydney, I’m starting to crave warm, comforting desserts. Rather than churning out ice creams and other chilled sweets (though I’ll still eat them!), I’m thinking crumbles, pies and warm puddings.

Sir D was actually the one who introduced rice pudding to me, since I never ate it as a child. He craved rice pudding one chilly night so we decided to have a go at making it ourselves rather than settling for the canned stuff.

This rice pudding is super easy to make and only requires a few ingredients. You do need a bit of patience to cook it though as the rice pudding needs to be constantly stirred while it’s on the heat, but it’s definitely worth the time.

We’ve tried a couple of rice pudding recipes, but this one is our favourite because the rice doesn’t become too gluggy, and it is just the right amount of sweetness for me. I like mine warm with a generous sprinkling of ground cinnamon over the top for some extra spice. It’s pure comfort food and perfect for the chilly weather to come!

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Circa Espresso, Parramatta

Inside Circa Espresso

Walking around the quieter side of Parramatta station, it would be hard to miss Circa Espresso. This hole in the wall cafe is situated in a little gap between two residential buildings. A splash of colour from a graffiti-ed wall and patrons sitting on wooden stools and upturned milk crates tell you that there is something hip and happening going on in that little laneway, and that would be Circa’s fantastic food and coffee.

Iced coffee - $4

We’ve ventured out to Suze’s hood today for a taste of Circa’s breakfast menu. My first experience of Circa was an impressive cup of takeaway coffee and so I’m glad to be heading back to try more of their menu. I start with an iced coffee – not a sugary, cream-topped version but a real iced coffee made purely from coffee and ice.

Avocado on sourdough toast with sea salt, cracked pepper and lemon oil - $7
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Tim Ho Wan, Hong Kong

So earlier this year I went on a little trip back to the motherland: Hong Kong! I was actually born in Sydney but the parentals are from Hong Kong and I do have some (limited) knowledge of Cantonese – enough for me to stumble my way through speaking to shop assistants and ordering food. The last time I visited Hong Kong was back in the pre-blogging days and so this was the first time I really went out of way to seek out great food in the city.

Baked BBQ pork bun - $HKD15

Of course the first place that made my list was the infamous Tim Ho Wan – one of the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurants. We went here with some of my Hong Kong-residing relatives and it seems they have found the trick of how to get a table at Tim Ho Wan without queueing! We visited the Sham Shui Po branch for dinner (the original is located in Mong Kok) and didn’t have to wait at all. Possibly because yum cha food is typically not eaten at dinnertime, but who’s fussed about that when you’ve just escaped 2 hour+ queues to eat at a Michelin-starred establishment?

Inside Tim Ho Wan

It’s still quite busy when we get inside but we’re quickly ushered to our table and orders are taken by indicating the quantity of the items you want on a piece of paper. The food comes out quickly and before we know it, we’ve got a whole host of yum cha favourites on our table, waiting to be eaten.

Baked BBQ pork bun - $HKD15

You can’t go to Tim Ho Wan without ordering the baked BBQ pork bun. Different to your regular char siu bao, these ones have a sweet filling of char siu encased by a pastry exterior and are topped with a sweet baked crust on top. It was like eating an almond croissant with a filling of BBQ pork, with the buttery pastry tasting almost croissant-like.

Steamed prawn dumpling (har gow) - $HKD21
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Chophouse, Sydney

Chophouse

When the boy requested steak for his birthday, I knew that a trip to Chophouse was in order. Having heard great things about their food, I was super excited and famished by the time we arrived into the cavernous dining space, with a ceiling decorated to look like ribs. We were treated to warm slices of bread while we perused the menu and decided what to eat.

Pasture fed petit fillet, marble score 2+ - $34.90

We dove straight into the meaty mains, with all of us choosing beef but with a different way of preparation or a different cut. The petit fillet is super tender but it lacks the meaty flavour of some of the other cuts. This is helped by the side of chutney and jus though, and is still a delicious serving of steak, perfect for someone like me who can’t eat that much.

Dry aged Delmonico, marble score 2+ - $48.00
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Lotus Thai, Chatswood

Lotus Thai

Group-buy coupons – love them or hate them, they’re definitely a way to dine at a fraction of the price you would normally pay, and often I find they’re a good way of trying out new restaurants. Most of the time, I tend to buy coupons to places that I’ve heard of before, but sometimes it leads me to discover new places that I’ve never even heard of.

House wine (included in deal)

Lotus Thai was one of those places. After wandering around the apartment complex which it is located in for a few minutes, trying to find the place (tip: look for the string of neon lights), we finally settled down into a spacious dining area which was relatively quiet on this Thursday night. We selected a bottle of house white to start, which is included in the deal.

Chicken and lemongrass soup

There was no need to order as the deal includes a set 6-course shared menu for two, for $49. The chicken and lemongrass soup was swift to arrive and there was enough for two small bowls of soup per person, plus a little extra. The soup was heady with lemongrass and quite flavoursome, reminding me of some of the clear Chinese soups that my mother makes. Hidden in the soup were pieces of chicken on the bone.

Seafood salad
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