All posts by Jacq

Elephant Cupcakes

I’ve noticed that as I’ve become busier in other areas of my life, I’ve found less time and less inspiration to challenge my baking skills. I’ve tended to bake old favourites which I know are easy enough that there’s pretty much guaranteed success.

But I know that it’s good to occasionally push the boundaries and do something new, so when Cake Decorating Store offered to send me some surprise baking goodies with the challenge to whip something up with them, I said, ‘Challenge accepted!’

When the package arrived, I opened it and saw some cute jungle animal cookie cutters, an edible ink pen, and a packet of coloured fondant.

So many options, so many choices! I gave some thought to what I could do with the materials and remembered that L’s birthday was coming up. She loves elephants so I stole a bit of inspiration from the back of the cookie cutter package and decided to make some little blue elephants out of the fondant, and attach them to the top of cupcakes.

I’d never worked with fondant before so I read up on how to handle it, how to blend colours and how to roll it out. It turned out to be easier than I expected, though I found out the hard way that it can be quite brittle once it’s dry and crack if you’re not careful! I also learned that I needed to keep the fondant wrapped well when not using it, otherwise it will dry out and become difficult to work with.

While the toppers looked great, I’ve never really liked the taste of fondant so the cupcakes themselves were the real star for me. I made some lemon cupcakes with a vanilla buttercream icing and gently pressed the cupcakes toppers on the icing. I loved the zesty flavour of the lemon cupcakes, but most importantly, the birthday girl loved them too!


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Redfern Asado at The Norfolk, Surry Hills

I’ve been to the Norfolk a couple of times before – once for crab and once for tacos – but when we get there on a Sunday afternoon there’s a very different vibe. It’s dead quiet on the inside of the pub, but follow the smell of meat and the sound of people talking and you’ll find yourself in a lush beer garden out the back.

Here is where Chef Jamie works his magic with the meat every Sunday from noon, when the Redfern Asado kicks off. There are all kinds of meats in the counter, including heaving slabs of beef and pork ribs and an impressive looking beer can chicken standing tall and upright, with glistening skin.

Beer can chicken

Asado translates to ‘barbecue’ in several South American countries, where it refers to the barbecuing of meats as well as the actual event of attending a barbecue. It usually involves grilling a range of meats over a charcoal-fuelled open fire for long period of time, resulting in slow-cooked meat with a smoky flavour from the coals.

Asado menu

The meats at Redfern Asado are sold by weight and priced per 100g, and all served with coca cola rice, beans and flour tortillas.

Keep it saucy…

There’s also (literally) buckets of sauce to go with your meat feast. There’s a choice of salsa rojo, a red tomato-based sauce with a bit of a spicy kick, or a vibrant fresh green chimmichurri made with garlic and herbs. Both are great with the meats, and it’s really up to personal preference whether you use one or both!

Meat platter!
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LuMi Bar & Dining, Pyrmont

Since opening late in 2014, LuMi Bar & Dining has been on my radar for a while. I’d seen lots of photos on Instagram and heard about the awesome pasta dishes, so when my birthday rolled around earlier this year (yes, this is a very delayed post!), I requested to have my birthday dinner at LuMi.

The cuisine is a unique blend of Japanese and Italian influences, brought on by head chef Federico Zanellato’s training both at Ryugin in Tokyo and Ormeggio at the Spit. There is an option of an a la carte menu, but we decided to go with the 8 course tasting menu which was only $95pp.

Menu

The restaurant is located where the old Ripples at Sydney Wharf used to be – right on the pier overlooking Pyrmont Bay and facing Metcalfe park. The glass walls of the restaurant let in lots of natural light during the day, but be warned that it does get quite dark at night so apologies for the declining photo quality as the night goes on!

Snacks – cheese tarlet and corn; cos lettuce, pistachio, tomato, miso; potato and rosemary foccacia; rice chips salt and vinegar

We start with a plate of four snacks which are perfect mouthfuls to whet the appetite. My favourite was the cheese tartlet with corn – a classic flavour combination. The rice chips with salt and vinegar were also interesting wafer-like rice paper sheets that melted in the mouth, just leaving the salt and vinegar flavour behind.

Cos lettuce, pistachio, tomato, miso
Cheese tartlet and corn

Chawanmushi
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Izakaya Samurai, Neutral Bay

Sushi Samurai in Neutral Bay used to be one of my local favourites for Japanese food, but since new Japanese restaurants started opening up around the area, it seems to have fallen off my radar. I’m glad it was brought to my attention again though by Washoku Lovers, because even though it now has a new name and a new fancy touch-screen ordering system, the food is still just as good – I know because I wrote a blog post about it about 5 years ago! (excuse the crappy photos)

Sake selection* (L-R): Otokoyama Tokubetsu junmai, Ippin junmai and Urakasumi junmai

In true izakaya style, we kick start our meal with alcohol. Sake is our choice of drink tonight, and we’re presented with three different sakes to sample before making a choice. Each has its own distinct flavour, with the Otokoyama being quite dry and the Urakasumi being sweeter.

Sushi and sashimi combo* – $20.40 (usually $40.80)

Izakaya Samurai also offers different specials on different nights of the week. Dining between 5.30pm and 7pm on a Monday night means you can get a sushi and sashimi combo for half price.

Sushi and sashimi combo*

The combo has some fresh salmon, tuna and kingfish sashimi, along with a neat row of nigiri and salmon and avocado rolls.

Sushi and sashimi combo*

There’s a good selection of fish on the plate, including plump scallops, cuttlefish and ikura salmon roe which pop in the mouth.

Grilled spicy salmon sushi* (6pc) – $14.80
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Mister Gee Burger Truck

There are some things in life that are worth waiting for – and one of those things is a good burger. Instagram told me that there was a legendary burger at Mister Gee Burger Truck, and so one Saturday we went in search of The Truffe.

I’d heard about the popularity of The Truffe burger at Mister Gee’s and how they can sell out quickly. To make sure we didn’t miss out, we arrived half an hour before the truck was due to set up. Dedication right there…

Mister Gee Menu

The menu is short and sweet, with one burger, one drink and one type of fries available each time. This makes ordering a breeze – “One of everything, please!” There’s also the option of getting a double patty for an extra $3, which I highly encourage!

Baklava shake – $6

As soon as the truck opens, the orders start flowing and the kitchen starts pumping out food. The drinks are the first to come out, and we happy sip on the sweet, creamy shake with chunks of baklava mixed throughout while we wait for the rest of the food.

Dirty fries and baklava shakes
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