Surfers Paradise Beach Cafe, Surfers Paradise QLD ($)

Address: 4 The Esplanade, Surfers Paradise, QLD

Tel: (07) 5527 6183

Website: http://www.thesurfersparadisebeachcafe.com/

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The day after we visited Muse, MC and I stumbled across Surfer’s Beach Cafe on our morning walk to the beach.

Atmosphere

It was quite crowded as it was peak breakfast period and the cafe is located at an ideal spot, right opposite the beach.

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In order to order we needed a table to sit at, so we stood around for a few minutes waiting.  We were a bit disappointed that there were about two to three tables of families that were taking up more space than they needed.  If they had moved down the table a bit we would have had plenty of room to sit.

Despite the wait for a table, we eventually found a seat by the entrance.

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The cafe has a lovely laid back surfer atmosphere.  There are surfboards on the wall and lots of yellow, blue and white around the room.

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The tables are a sort of old, worn white and the place gives off a very calm and chilled out vibe, except for the hustle and bustle of the busy diners.

Service

Service wasn’t very prominent as you have to order at the counter, which is probably a good idea given how popular the place is! Despite this, our food came out within about ten minutes and the staff were quick when we asked for things like serviettes and salt.

Food

I ordered a Tropicana Smoothie which was a very tropical combination of mango, pineapple, passionfruit and banana, some of my favourite fruits.

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Tropicana Smoothie, $8.50

For breakky I had the Big Beach Breakfast and MC ordered the Stack of Pancakes.

The breakfast was great, it was colourful and tasted flavoursome, the eggs were perfectly poached, the hashbrowns were crunchy, the bacon crisp and the tomato fresh.

Overall it was a pretty darn good fry up.

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Big Beach Breakfast, $19.50

MC’s pancakes were amazing, some of the best I have had.

I am a big fan of the thick, fluffy pancakes, the McDonald’s style ones that soak up all the syrup and just melt in your mouth. None of this crepe business.

These pancakes were all that and more.  They came with a side of butter, maple syrup and whipped cream and they were absolutely delicious.

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Stack of Pancakes, $9.95

Summary

Surfers Beach Cafe is one of those great finds that has a great view, a lovely atmosphere and a fantastic menu.  The wait can be a little frustrating but it was worth it for the view!

Rating

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service-  4
  • Food-  8
  • Atmosphere- 8
  • Value – 7.5

The Surfers Paradise Beach Cafe on Urbanspoon

Mr Crackles, Darlinghurst ($)

Address: 155 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst NSW

Tel: (02) 8068 2832

Website: http://www.mrcrackles.com.au/

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Atmosphere

One lunchtime KiwiKompanion and I decided to check out Mr Crackles after discovering it was really only a 10 minute walk from work.

When we finally got to the Oxford Street store, we found a small hole-in-the-wall takeaway joint with benches and stools lining the walls on both sides.

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The large blackboard lists the interesting and exciting rolls on the menu including The Crackles Classic, The Sweet Pork, The Lamb, The Chicken Katsu and The Vego.

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To the right is a glass cabinet with huge pieces of pork crackling which had us drooling!

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Loud and distracting music was blaring from the speakers, and KiwiKompanion and I were not too keen on sitting around so we ended up ordering quickly and eating again small park.

Service

Service wasn’t anything amazing and we didn’t even find that the staffs were friendly or even helpful.  We ordered our food and waited about 5 minutes to receive our orders, which were called out to us by one of the staff members.

Food

I ordered The Crackles Classic and KiwiKompanion ordered The Lamb.

The Crackles Classic contains five spice pork belly with crispy crackling and Vietnamese salad. The pork was soft, juicy, tasty and had a delicious super crispy skin. I also enjoyed the crusty roll and the tangy mayonnaise in the coleslaw style salad. Delicious!

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Crackles Classic, $12.00

KiwiKompanion’s lamb roll had rosemary and garlic infused lamb shoulder with caramelised onion, tahini  and spinach. She also enjoyed her roll and commented that the meat was soft and tender.

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The Lamb, $12.00

Overall, the food was amazing and one of the top rolls I have ever had.

A great foodie experience that I highly recommend!

Rating

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service-  4
  • Food-  7
  • Atmosphere- 3.5
  • Value – 7

Mr Crackles on Urbanspoon

Darley’s Restaurant @ Lilianfel’s, Katoomba ($$$$)

Address: Lilianfels Avenue, Katoomba NSW

Tel: (020 4780 1200

Email: reservations@lilianfels.com.au

Website: http://www.darleysrestaurant.com.au/about.html

Opening Hours:  6.00pm – 10.30pm Tuesday to Saturday

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One Saturday in summer, MC and I decided to go for a drive up to the Blue Mountains to check out Darley’s Restaurant at Lilianfels.

We spent the day in the Mountains and checked out some of the usual tourist spots, including the Three Sisters (below).

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Atmosphere

After a long afternoon exploring, we headed over to Lilianfels.

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Lilianfels is a luxury Blue Mountains resort, located around the corner from some of the main attractions in Katoomba.

It features beautiful manicured gardens, tennis courts, flowers, fountains, pools and five star accommodation.

Have a look at some of our pictures of the grounds:

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Darley’s is a multi-award winning hatted restaurant located in a world heritage listed area.

The restaurant was named after Sir Frederick Darley, the sixth Chief Justice of New South Wales.  It is situated in the original Lilianfel’s house, which Darley built for his daughter Lilian, on 11 acres of land that he bought in August 1888.

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Upon entering the restaurant, you are immediately transported to another era.

A beautiful and elegant hallway featuring a bright chandelier and extravagant wallpaper leads you from the door to the private dining room, the drinks room and the dining rooms.

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Hallway

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Private dining area

MC and I were soon seated by the window overlooking the beautiful flower garden, on what had once been Darley’s verandah, but had now become a covered and air-conditioned dining area.

Service

Service was exceptional.

Our lovely waitress was very easy going yet extremely professional. She explained the menu and our choices for the three course dinner with knowledge and confidence.

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First we ordered our drinks, followed by entrees and mains, and then, dessert.

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Our water glasses were always filled up and we didn’t feel pestered to buy more drinks or order more, unlike other places I have been to.

Overall it was a relaxing and enjoyable experience.

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Food

We were served some delicious soft and warm, locally-baked bread with herbed butter that was slightly salty, fluffy and melt-in-your-mouth-good.

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The bread was fantastic and we already knew we were off to a good start!

Next up we were served the amuse-bouche. Amuse-bouche means literally, “mouth amuser” in French. It is served as a means to prepare a guest for a meal and get their appetite going, whilst giving them a look into the Chef’s inspiration and direction for the meal.

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This amuse-bouche was a cucumber jelly with fresh salmon. It was light, cold and superbly refreshing. The perfect way to cleanse and prepare the palate for the flavours to come.

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For the entree I chose the Poached Queensland Spanner Crab, Dashi Custard, Fennel Puree, Asparagus Shitake Mushrooms.

The crab was perfectly cooked and the woody mushrooms and silky, delicate custard were in contrast with the crunchy asparagus.

A delightful dish which I thoroughly enjoyed.

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MC chose the Slow Cooked Pork Jowl, Maltose Crackling, Seared Scallop, Cauliflower Custard, Roasted Cauliflower and Shellfish Sauce.

Of course, we tried some of each other’s dishes and I loved how the crackling was crunchy and sweet, light a sheet of toffee, and the scallop was crunchy and golden.

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My choice for the main was the Kanimbla Valley Lamb Loin, Smoked Eggplant, Chickpea Puree, Harissa, Cracked Wheat, Cumin and Coriander seed Infused Lamb Jus.

Presentation was exquisite and the shapes on the plate created a fancy piece of artwork that was vibrant and interesting.

The diagonal grain on the lamb was so neat and the meat was perfectly cut.

The eggplant had a deep flavour and the fresh bursts of cumin and coriander broke up the creaminess of the chickpea puree.

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MC chose the Roast Fillet of Cape Grim Beef, Sarladaise Potato, Heirloom Carrots, Cauliflower Cream, Confit Shallots, Horseradish Butter, Red Wine Jus.

He upgraded to the local wagyu beef, with a marble score of 9+ for an additional $10.  And boy was it worth it. This was the best meat I have ever eaten. It was well cut, perfectly cooked (medium well, the way we like it), and so tender and juicy. It just melted in your mouth.

The vegetables were neatly cut and tidily presented, and looked cute on the plate despite being standard cauliflower, carrots and potato.

The horseradish butter and red wine jus were just the right strength to compliment the meat without overpowering it.

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For dessert I couldn’t go past the dish that combined three of my favourite fruits: mango, lychee and passionfruit.

I chose the Toasted Coconut Parfait, Mango Sorbet, Italian Meringue, Fresh mango, Passionfruit and Lychee Salad.

Apart from being, well, beautiful, the mango was very fresh, just perfectly ripe yet still firm, and still sweet.

The lychee was fresh but a little sparse, and the fresh passionfruit added some tang, complimenting the creamy meringue and the cool sorbet.

Definitely one of the most beautiful tropical dishes I have seen.

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Popcorn lover MC went for the ‘Mena Creek’, Zokoko Chocolate Mousse, Salted Caramel Fudge, popcorn Ice Cream, Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumb.

The dish was lovely, so well presented and such a wonderfully inspired combination of flavours.

The popcorn ice cream was salty and tasted a little buttery, with real popcorn to add some crunch.  The mousse was light and fluffy, delicious with the sweet cookie crumb, and the dark chocolate piece was beautiful and crunchy.

Sooooo goood!

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Cost:

The three course meal on Saturday was $125 per person. Wagyu beef was an extra $10 upgrade.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service-  9.5
  • Food-  9.5
  • Ambience- 9
  • Value – 8

Darley's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Service Review: Rhys Barrington Private Master Class

What is it: a private cooking class by a trained Chef

For more information: http://rhysbarrington.com/

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About the Chef

Rhys Barrington is a Chef from New Zealand.

He started off as an apprentice at the Crowne Plaza in Christchurch before winning the New Zealand Toque D’or 2010 (a national competition for Junior Chefs) and becoming a finalist in the 2010 Fonterra “Proud to be a Chef” competition.

He then began working at the exclusive Blanket Bay Lodge in southern New Zealand.

He eventually moved to Sydney, decided he loved it and made it his home.

He gained further experience working at The Four in Hand restaurant in Paddington and eventually found his calling as a private Chef, cooking for people in their homes.

Rhys’ One on One Classes

Rhys runs one on one group training sessions for people in their own homes – teaching them how to cook – usually over a twelve week period.

The price is $250 per 3 hour session (excluding cost of food) for one person and a friend and the content and recipes are tailored to what each pair wants to learn.

Rhys provides all recipes, tailored to each individual’s kitchen and interests, and classes are held at the person’s house. Alternatively, a kitchen can be hired to run the classes in.

Rhys also does private dining events for cocktail parties, sit down dinners and other events, which is great for a special occasion.

Rhys Private Master Class

Rhys also runs Master Classes which cost $95 per person.

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I was contacted by Rhys a few months ago but due to other commitments we never actually got to tee anything up to discuss his new projects.

A short while ago he contacted me again regarding attending a Private Master Class session with a few other bloggers and some customers.

Wicko and I attended the class, located in Bondi. There were tables of 4-6 people per table and we were seated with a lovely and friendly couple towards the front of the room.

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Each table had a worksheet with the recipes for each course inside, and a pen to write notes with.

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The class began with a glass of white wine, poured and served by Rhys’ lovely helper, also a former Four In Hand employee.

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Rhys then spoke a little about himself and what we would be doing that day , before serving us the first course, Prawn Salad with Tomatoes and Asparagus.

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I thought the salad was lovely. While it was quite small, it was simple and light, would be perfect for summer and seemed to contain fresh and high quality ingredients which were inexpensive and easily accessible.

Rhys gave us some tips about the dish and how to prepare vegetables and prawns.

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He also taught us how to make “tomato water”, a clear liquid of pure tomato flavour which is perfect for dressing a salad or dish.

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Tomato water, looks clear doesn’t it?!

He then showed us how to actually present the dish on a plate, giving us tips such as working with the natural curves of the food and plating the dish in a straight line through the middle of the plate.

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Next up was the Braised Beef with Carrots, Fennel and Aioli.

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Some volunteers were chosen to come up and help Rhys with the dish.

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During the cooking process, we were served a glass of red wine, which Rhys said would perfectly complement this dish.

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Again Rhys showed us how to plate the dish. I liked the fact that each step was broken down and he really took the time to show us what was happening, coming around with plates and bowls of sauces and ingredients to show us what they should look like.

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We all gathered around to take photos and get a closer look.

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More volunteers came up to try their hand at plating and attempt to implement Rhys’ tips! ???????????????????????????????

The beef, carrots and salad, all plated up!

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The carrots had been cooked in orange juice, with a small sliver of ginger and then roasted in the oven until they were soft and tender.

The orange juice gave them a sweet yet tart flavour and they were probably the best carrots I have ever tasted!

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The fennel salad was light and fresh and went really well with the crisp radish and fresh leaves.

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The beef. The star of the show, it was tender, could be broken apart with the back of the fork, and was moist and full of flavour.

The delicious glossy gravy, a mixture of red wine, tomato juice, stock, tomato paste and herbs was shiny and flavoursome and just glided over the chunk of beef.

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Finally, we went over dessert, the Chocolate and Berry Summer Crumble.

Rhys explained that this dish was easy to make and cost-effective as well and explained that the texture of the chocolate part of the dish would be interesting and novel.

He began with the chocolate ganache mixture, going around the room to show us what it should look like.

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When the chocolate part was done, he showed us one he had prepared earlier, all cut into slices.

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He then went over how to prepare the berries. It was very simple: cut the strawberries, sprinkle with icing sugar and allow to macerate.

For the cherries, a simple syrup of sugar and water with vanilla was made and the cherries were infused in it for sweetness.

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When it was all ready he again showed us how to plate it up.

You can see Simon from Simon Food Favourites in the background getting the money shots! 🙂

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Finally, the dish was plated up, again with the help of volunteers.

The end result? Spectacular.???????????????????????????????

The dish was something you would expect to be served in a hatted restaurant. It was well presented, tasted divine (especially that chocolate jelly/ganache), and was also the perfect combination of fruity and sweet.

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Overall

Our overall experience at Rhys’ Master Class was fantastic.

Rhys was welcoming, entertaining, funny and very skilled.

We learnt a lot of great tips about how to make simple vegetables taste delicious, and got some great recipe ideas.

It was a fun night out and I think Rhys’s class would be great for a Christmas or engagement present, a birthday party or pre-hens night dinner.

His private classes would be perfect for proposals or special occasions and a great gift for those who have always wanted to learn how to cook.

I would definitely suggest giving Rhys’ class a go.

If you are interested, more details can be found on his website (above).

Destination Food: Sri Lanka and Singapore 2013

On my recent trip to Sri Lanka and Singapore I was excited to experience a variety of delicious foods and tasty treats.

I always love going to Sri Lanka and enjoying the delicious hot and spicy curries and pastries or fresh tropical fruits, many of which are hard to find or cannot be found in Australia. Singapore is also a fave of mine because it is so beautiful, clean, warm and happening and the food is always reliably good.

While I don’t have photos of everything I ate, I have tried to put some of them together to give my lovely readers an idea of the types of things we enjoyed!

So without further ado, here are some of my foodie adventures for Sri Lanka and Singapore 2013!

Sri Lanka

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Good ol’ chocolate milk out of a plastic packet. Cheap, cold and delicious!

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Pineapple and sugar bananas- very tropical!

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Fresh juices at Roots (like Boost).

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An old favourite that has been around for years, Green Cabin’s chocolate eclair and stuffed gothamba.

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Fish cutlets, a round ball of pan fried fish and potato, battered and covered in bread crumbs, then fried.

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Me with a King Coconut drink (thambili) at the fruit markets in Galle.

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Ambarella pickle- ambarella, chilli, salt.

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Food from Peddlar’s Inn at Galle- including the famous chocolate brownie!

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Green mango- love it

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Sri Lankan traditional milk rice

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Chocolate cake from Perera & Sons.

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Guava, wood apple and mangosteen- some fruits I definitely don’t see in Australia (except maybe guava)!

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Fab pastries- “Chinese” rolls, patties and sausage rolls

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Bayleaf restaurant, Gregory’s Road

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Rest stop meal on the way to Jaffna- egg gothambas, string hoppers, bread

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Steamed corn from a street vendor

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Orange Crush (basically Fanta).

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Thosai, also known as Dosa/Dosai, This is basically a crepe made from rice batter and dhal. It is crispy and slightly bitter, and can sometimes be made in a long round roll or cone shape.

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Breakfast fruit at the Jaffna hotel- pawpaw, pineapple, sugar banana and lime.

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Toddy – an alcoholic drink from the sap of the palm tree. Smells like hair products.

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Lunch at the beautiful Fort Hammenhiel, north of Jaffna.

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Beautiful golden Jaffna mangoes.

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Huge jackfruits on the floor- this one was about half a metre!

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More mini Jaffna mangoes

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Pit stop curry lunch near Jaffna – delicious!

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Lingan Ice Cream in Jaffna.

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Rio Ice Cream in Jaffna

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Toast pan (bread), kimbula buns (crocodile shaped sugar bun), malu pan (fish bread).

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Delicious Ministry of Crab meal, a restaurant owned by famous Sri Lankan cricketers Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena, along with Sri Lankan chef Dharshan Munidasa.

Singapore

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What The Fries??? Hot chips with a variety of sauces, including the Singapore Chilli Crab sauce, which I tried.

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Popeye’s Louisiana Fried Chicken, delicious- like KFC.

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IMG_4990Bubble Tea- pomegranate green tea with lychee jelly.

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Macarons from TWG. Amazing flavours incorporating tea, such as Earl Grey Chocolate!

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Hilton Buffet Breakfast.

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Conrad Hilton fruit platter and complimentary chocolates.

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Award winning BBQ Pork and Chicken with Chilli Sauce in Chinatown.

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Amazing Haianese chicken – one of my favourites!

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Soursop and mango and guava juices.

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Mum enjoying a traditional Singapore coffee- she loved it.

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Room service breakfast at the Grand Park Orchard hotel.

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Red bean pudding with coconut milk, served warm- actually so delicious.

Summary

Overall, the foods I experienced were amazing and I can’t wait to return to Asia to experience more of it.

I’d love to hear what your favourite spots are in Singapore or Sri Lanka- I know the lovely Christine from Cooking Crusade has many great places in Singapore to recommend!

Please comment below with your tips and favourite restaurants!