You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Oxford Tavern is a seedy pub, seeing as up until last year, the main drawcards were the topless waitresses, jelly wrestling and the “live hot girls”. But since the Drink ‘n’ Dine group’s revamp of the inner west pub, the pokies area has been changed to a beer garden, “jelly wrestling” now refers to a dessert on the menu, and instead of girls, you can now get “live hot BBQ”!
Live hot BBQ sounds like something right up my alley, so we went to check out The Oxford Tavern’s new Black Betty BBQ. It’s an impressive beast of an outdoor smoker that has been operating for the past couple of months, churning out smoked meats cooked low and slow on the weekends until sold out.
There’s a range of smoked goodies on the menu, generally sold by weight. You can also see the prepared meats in the glass cabinet at the counter, and they all look amazing. Executive Chef of the Drink ‘n’ Dine group, Jamie Thomas, is there to serve up the meat himself, and he slices up a little bit of everything for us to try.
We end up with a huge platter of meaty goodness featuring all the menu items on the standard Black Betty BBQ menu, as well as the specials for the day.
The smoked chicken is the only poultry item on the Black Betty menu, and it has an amazingly smoky flavour and is succulent and juicy.
After our adventures up north in Hokkaido, we took a flight from Sapporo down to Osaka. Although we visited Japan in springtime, Sapporo was still very cold with snow still lining the streets and intermittent snow flurries! So we were quite glad to experience warmer weather once we disembarked our flight.
Spring is also sakura season, so while it was still too cold for sakura in Hokkaido, we were fortunate enough to catch the tail end of the blooming cherry blossoms in Osaka. I’d done a bit of research on where we might be able to find sakura in Osaka, so on our first full day there we headed to the aptly named Kema Sakuranomiya Park to go sakura spotting.
Our little trip to the park showed us that Osaka really is a city of food! We were there to see sakura but Osaka put on a show for us that weekend by having endless food stalls throughout the whole park. We literally walked through the entire length of the park and there was no way that you could have gone hungry with all the food on sticks available. Here is some of what we saw:
Even though there are plenty of cafes around my area, I still get a little excited when a new one pops up. Word on the street was that there was a new cafe in Artarmon that had awesome coffee and food to boot.
You’d never think that there was a hipster cafe down the little pedestrian walkway leading out from Artarmon train station, but in amongst the Japanese restaurants, convenience stores and bookshops is Salvage Specialty Coffee.
They take their coffee seriously here with the Mecca Dark Horse blend and single origin coffees on offer, and a rather amusing sign saying that any coffee “extras” cost 50c – extras that may or may not include “soy, extra shot, mocha, honey, vampire blood, unicorn tears, kisses from Zooey Deschanel”.
Apart from the normal espresso-based coffees, Salvage also do filter coffees including Aeropress and cold brews. The cold brew comes in a cute Salvage bottle and is served with a sphere of ice in a glass to keep it chilled.
Japan is a country that is a little obsessed with the cute and cuddly. You’ll see kawaii mascots everywhere in Japan promoting TV channels, transport passes and even the cities and prefectures themselves! So when I see the logo of Harajuku Gyoza with its cutesy face, it’s almost like I’m back in Japan.
Inside, the kawaii theme continues with Japanese-patterned melamine plates and light fixtures saying ‘HAI!’. The menu is equally as cutesy, proclaiming “Welcome, Customer-san!”, before comparing your appetite to Godzilla and saying “We want your happy face”. As for the food items, naturally the menu is gyoza-heavy but there are also other Japanese side dishes and izakaya style dishes available.
There are 5 gyoza dishes at $8 each, and we manage to try 3 out of the 5. For the pork, chicken and duck gyoza, you can choose to have these either grilled or poached. We’re after the crispy burnished bottoms of the fried variety, so we choose to have our pork and duck gyoza fried.
So it occurred to me a few months ago that it’s been AGES since I’ve posted a recipe – not since October last year in fact. It’s not that I don’t cook often because we eat regularly at home and I do bake for people’s birthdays and other special occasions, but sometimes I just can’t be bothered styling the food and taking photos of it. I just want to eat it.
So I thought it was time to get my mojo back, and even though I still haven’t quite got this food styling thing, it’s nice to be able to share recipes and baking successes – so here is my first recipe post in over 6 months.
I’ve had a chiffon cake tin for years and always had the intention of making it, but the thought of flat and dense chiffon cakes had always scared me off making them. I don’t know why I was so worried because after doing a bit of research and finding a recipe, I made my first chiffon cake with much success!
I chose matcha flavour because green tea is awesome and also because I’d just come back from Japan and was craving matcha desserts. The green tea flavour is quite subtle in this cake but what I particularly love about chiffon cakes is the light and airy texture which makes you feel like you’re eating a cloud. A green tea flavoured cloud!
I used a recipe that I adapted from Keiko Ishida’s book Okashi: Sweet Treats made with Love. The recipe calls for 5 eggs but uses a 20cm tin, so I have increased the amounts to fit my 25cm tin. This recipe worked really well for me and I’ve used it to also make a pandan flavoured chiffon cake and chocolate flavoured chiffon cake. Yep, there’s definitely going to be plenty of chiffon in my future! Continue reading →