Blancharu, Elizabeth Bay

It’s easy to miss Blancharu if you don’t know what you’re looking for. It’s a small restaurant located on Elizabeth Bay Rd, hidden amongst rows of residential apartment blocks, and where Chef Haru (ex Bilson’s and Galileo) treats diners to a fusion of Japanese and French cuisine. There’s the option of choosing from the a la carte menu, a 5-course menu for $59, or a 7-course menu for $88.

Eggplant caviar with crab and avocado

We go all out with the 7-course menu, starting with a soup course. The cold soup is a silky and creamy avocado puree. It’s dotted with eggplant caviar around the edges, which reminds me of salmon roe, popping in the mouth as you bite into it. Crispy croutons add some textural contrast, and hidden underneath the soup is some picked crab meat. It’s a course that whets the appetite for the dishes to come.

Aburi scallops and yuzu dressing
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Lemon Lime & Bitters Cupcakes

I think I do my best work when I’m baking for a particular person. Baking for someone motivates me to think of something that the recipient will really enjoy, and ways that I can incorporate that into my food.

And that is how these lemon, lime and bitters cupcakes were born. A combination of fresh citrussy flavours, bitters and lemonade, it is one of JC’s go-to drinks whenever we go out. So it felt rather fitting to make these cupcakes for her surprise party as we bade her farewell to Victoria (where she is studying to be a doctor for the next 4 years!)

The recipe is very similar to the Mojito Cupcakes I’ve made previously, but tweaked a little bit to incorporate the flavours of lemon, lime and bitters. The cupcake is drizzled with a lemon and lime syrup, while the bitters flavour is part of the buttercream, which also gives it a lovely blushing pink colour. These were a hit at the party – and probably one of my favourite cupcakes to date!

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Palings Kitchen & Bar, Sydney

We’d planned a quick catch-up with the girls on a quiet Monday night, and headed to the Ivy to grab some drinks and food. But Level 1 of the Ivy had definitely changed – both in decor and feel – and was now Palings Kitchen & Bar.

We were seated in what used to be the lounge area, where the soft armchairs and sofas had been replaced with booth seating and cafe-style tables and chairs. Christopher Whitehead (formerly of Mad Cow) nwo heads up the kitchen at Palings, with steak and grill items still on offer in addition to deli, fish, and snack menu items.

Pie and caesar salad – $16

The steak and mushroom pie was a popular choice that night, served with caesar salad on the side and a dipping sauce. The pie came out as more of a pastie, and while the flavour was there, the filling was a little dry for some. It seemed like a small serve but enough for a light dinner – especially since we were saving room for dessert!

Ceviche, yellowtail, scallop, prawn, chilli, corn and avocado – $23
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