Ampersand Café & Bookstore

Ampersand Café & Bookstore

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! Ampersand Café & Bookstore is one that I am very fond of mainly because of the memories and conversations shared over food. I have been going to Ampersand on a frequent basis over the past 4 years; it was the go-to brunch/lunch spot before or after classes at the then-COFA (now known as UNSW Art & Design). I remember popping by the café with Bec many times before our 9am classes; I would always get a regular latte, and she would always get a regular flat white. Then there are many times we’d visit for a quick brunch/lunch in between classes. Most recently, it was an after photography class lunch date for Anastasia, Jess, Jialing, and myself. We would sit and talk about the most random things for 2 hours, and even quote from White Chicks all throughout lunch.

Ampersand Café & Bookstore

What I also love about this café is that it is also a bookstore! It has a rustic, or as one would use the term, ‘hipster’ feel to it which makes it even that more inviting for the suburb that it is in. The café and bookstore has three amazing floors of dining areas surrounded with an adjoining library and bookstore with many books to choose from. A great place for those who just want to sit and immerse themselves in a book over a cup of coffee, or with friends over food.

Ampersand Café & Bookstore

Besides all the fond memories I have of this café, and the cozy ambience, the coffee and food are also quite excellent! The menu that you are about to see in this post is some of the dishes that my friends and I have indulged in. I have had many more dishes from this café but I think that during first two years of visiting this café I wasn’t taking any photos or I just can’t seem to find where the photographs are if I did take any. I have indulged in the Ampersandian, the Morning After Breakfast, and their Club Sandwich from their counter items. Nonetheless, I feel like the dishes on this post are quite a good range of the food that Ampersand has to offer. Also, I should make mention that they also have another café known as Ampersand on Crown | Café, Bar & Bookstore. I actually didn’t know that this existed until I went and had brunch with some friends at  Rustic Pearl. Ampersand on Crown was just right next to it! 413 Crown Street, Surry Hills for those who want to know where!

Ampersand Café & Bookstore - HOT DRINKS: CAPPUCCINO
HOT DRINKS: CAPPUCCINO
brewed using Allpress Beans (Regular $3.30, Large $3.80)

Their coffee art amazes me every time. I have yet to come across an ampersand on the drink as I have seen in many Facebook/Instagram posts by others.

Ampersand Café & Bookstore - HOT DRINKS: LULLABY NIGHTCAP
HOT DRINKS: LULLABY NIGHTCAP
Nutmeg, malt, cinnamon, and honey served with hot milk ($4.80)

What really struck me about this drink was that, on their blackboard menu, it said ‘seahorse eggs’. Being naive and gullible at that time, I legitimately thought that the drink actually had seahorse eggs it in. Only then did I come to a realisation that the seahorse eggs referred to the frothy, fizzing bubbles in the drink. I was not disappointed though; the drink was absolutely amazing! However, probably not a great idea to have before a boring lecture (which was what I did at the time). It’s all in the name of the drink!

Ampersand Café & Bookstore - LUNCH BLACKBOARD MENU: RISOTTO
LUNCH BLACKBOARD MENU: RISOTTO
Arborio & barley risotto, confit cherry tomatoes, garlic, halloumi, and pesto ($15.90)

What attracted me to this dish was the fact that it was originally ‘arborio & barley risotto, tiger prawns, lemon butter, and crumbed pancetta’ on their blackboard menu. The combination sounded so great in my head that I had no second thoughts of wanting to order it. However, for a reason that I cannot remember, the lady at the cashier told me that their risotto for that day was confit cherry tomatoes, garlic, halloumi, and pesto. At first I was hesitating whether or not I should have that or order something else off their menu, but at that time there wasn’t anything else that tickled my fancy. So I decided to go for this, and absolutely no regrets. It tasted amazing! But I secretly think that the tiger prawns, lemon butter, and crumbed pancetta would’ve been amazing-er!

Ampersand Café & Bookstore - LUNCH BLACKBOARD MENU: THE HASH
LUNCH BLACKBOARD MENU: THE HASH
Braised beef cheeks (slow-cooked), seasonal veggies, potato rösti, and poached egg ($16.90)

This dish, that Jialing ordered and we shared with Annie, was again to die for! The only criticism I have with this dish that it said ‘poached egg’ and the egg we for that day was what you would get between a soft boiled egg and a hard boiled egg. No runny yolk! Disappointed. Other than that, the beef cheeks where tender and full of flavour; verging on the dry side which is why it was important that we had that runny yolk!

Ampersand Café & Bookstore

I mean, if these empty plates of the first two dishes mentioned above does not convince you of their deliciousness, then you sir are not my friend (the other empty plate is of the stuffed red capsicum which is the very last photograph on this post).

Ampersand Café & Bookstore - LUNCH BLACKBOARD MENU: SWEET POTATO CRISPS
LUNCH BLACKBOARD MENU: SWEET POTATO CRISPS
served with aïoli ($6.00)

This is a winner side dish for me. I never fail to order these babies each time I visit Ampersand. But sadly over the past month in late October, early November last year, I did not get to have any. Why? Because their deep fryer had been broken during those times. But for a month? Pure torture. I have not been back since our last photography class which was in early November. Maybe it’s time I paid another visit – hopefully their deep fryer is fixed by now! I just love the thin crispy sweet potato sliced paired with garlic-y and tangy aïoli.

Besides their blackboard menu, they also have a selection of pre-cooked counter items. Possibly an easier and quick option for those who have their breakfast/lunch/brunch to go, but that never stopped us from trying them ourselves over a two hour lunch session. You can probably tell that we have a thing for their arancini as it appears in almost every counter item on this post, but are paired with a different salad each time. This is because no salad is ever the same whenever we visit the café. One thing that I do love about their salads is that they aren’t your regular Joe that you see in almost every café; they are pretty exotic to your taste buds! Black sticky rice? Miso chic pea? Cracked wheat? I mean, who would’ve thought these combinations would work so well?! Yum! So what you can do is order an arancini, sandwich, wrap, or whatever hot dish they have at the counter, and then add $5.00 on top for a salad on the side.

Ampersand Café & Bookstore - COUNTER ITEMS: ARANCINI & CHIC PEA SALAD
COUNTER ITEMS: ARANCINI & CHIC PEA SALAD
Arancini with tomato & mozzarella ($5.90) & Chic pea salad with miso and red wine dressing, enoki, kale, and raw zucchini (+$5.00)

Ampersand Café & Bookstore - COUNTER ITEMS: ARANCINI & CRACKED WHEAT SALAD
COUNTER ITEMS: ARANCINI & CRACKED WHEAT SALAD
Arancini with tomato & mozzarella ($5.90) & Cracked wheat salad with mixed beans, feta, grilled sweet potato, asparagus, and sweet & sour paprika dressing (+$5.00)

Ampersand Café & Bookstore - COUNTER ITEMS: ARANCINI & ROASTED EGGPLANT AND WHEAT SALAD
COUNTER ITEMS: ARANCINI & ROASTED EGGPLANT AND WHEAT SALAD
Arancini with tomato & mozzarella ($5.90) & Roasted eggplant and cracked wheat salad with green peas, red pepper, and balsamic reduction (+$5.00)

Ampersand Café & Bookstore - COUNTER ITEMS: BREAKFAST WRAP & BLACK STICKY RICE SALAD
COUNTER ITEMS: BREAKFAST WRAP & BLACK STICKY RICE SALAD
Poached egg, crispy bacon, spinach, tomato, cheese, and hollandaise ($9.50) & Black sticky rice salad with cherry tomatoes, bocconcini, rocket, and balsamic reduction (+$5.00)

Ampersand Café & Bookstore - COUNTER ITEMS: STUFFED RED CAPSICUM
COUNTER ITEMS: STUFFED RED CAPSICUM
with pearl barley, pumpkin, feta, and spinach purée ($5.90)

Ampersand Café & Bookstore
78 Oxford Street
Paddington, New South Wales
Australia, 2021

– Ally xx

Kangaroo Bolognese

Kangaroo Bolognese

Hello Everyone! So today’s recipe was inspired by a meal that I had while travelling the outback a few weeks ago. It was our first night of the tour and our tour guide Dan was showing us the way to Ewing’s Lookout to have champagne, wine, and crackers while watching the sun set over Ayers Rock and Kata Tjuta. I remember him saying that while we were enjoying the sunset, he’ll be back at the campsite and have “tea” ready for us. Then someone called out “what about dinner?” Dan didn’t hear her though because he was getting out of the 4WD as she said it. I then remember a couple of guys discussing about how they came to book the tour, and I remember him specifically saying “it said that dinner would be provided”. I then chimed in and told them that when Dan said “tea” he meant dinner, to which he responded “that’s so weird, in England tea is just tea, like would you like a cup of tea. But here it’s would you like a cup of dinner?” He was hilarious. But nonetheless, I assured the others that dinner will be served. “Tea” is apparently an Aussie slang for a light late afternoon meal or main meal in the evening.

Kangaroo Bolognese Ingredients

Anyway, tea aside, Dan made Kangaroo Bolognese for dinner that night. I’ve ever only had kangaroo once before during my first year in Sydney. It was my 20th birthday party and one of my friends brought kangaroo patties to throw on the barbie. I’ll be honest and say that I cringed a little bit when I found out that he was cooking kangaroo. Even though I was reluctant to, he made me try a bit. I don’t even remember  what it tasted like; I just knew that I neither loved nor hated it. But ever since then until now, it never crossed my mind to actually purchase kangaroo and consume it. I’ll admit that I was even reluctant to eat it while camping – but i had no choice because I didn’t want to starve during the night and wait for breakfast. After giving kangaroo a second chance, I still had the same feelings of neither loving it nor hating it, but I can safely say that I was leaning more towards liking it.

After returning from the trip, I decided that I would give Kangaroo Bolognese a go and last week Monday was the day I tried out the recipe for myself. I basically just cooked it the way I would normally cook a bolognese with minced beef. It turned out to be pretty good! But I think I got sick of eating it after the 3rd day – I made enough to last me 4 meals, and to those who know me, I actually cannot eat the same meal more than twice in a row otherwise I’d get sick and tired of eating it. I still have half a kilo left in my freezer and I am unsure what to make next. I immediately thought of kangaroo lasagna, but I’ve had various suggestions such as kangaroo pie, Aussie kangaroo burger and even a Roorito (kangaroo burrito). I might give the last one a go just because I like the name of it!

Kangaroo Bolognese Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g kangaroo mince
  • 250g linguine (or any other pasta)
  • 1 can (400g) Italian diced tomatoes
  • 1 sachet (2 tbsp) tomato paste
  • 4-5 dried bay leaves
  • 3 baby carrots, cut into small chunks
  • 3 celery sticks, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed then minced
  • 1 medium-sized brown onion, diced
  • 1 red birds-eye chilli, sliced (optional for that added kick of spice)
  • 1 cube vegetable stock dissolved in 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Ground sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • Parsley

METHOD

  1. Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high. Sauté the garlic until golden and fragrant, then add the chillies and onions. Sauté until the onions are soft and then add in the kangaroo mince. Season with salt, pepper, and oregano. Cook, stirring, until the meat is no longer pink (about 5-7 minutes).
  2. Add the dried bay leaves, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and vegetable stock. Give it a good mix and then turn the heat down to low, cover and let it simmer for about 15 minutes to allow the flavours to blend. Finally, add in the carrots and celery, and cook for a further 8-10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the linguine according to packet instructions.
  4. Remove the sauce from the heat and serve over the hot pasta. Top with a handful of grated parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.

Kangaroo Bolognese

Fun fact: Australia is the only nation to eat its Coat of Arms – not quite!

I was told that Australia is the only nation to eat kangaroos and emus, both of which are national symbols on the Australian Coat of Arms. After doing some research, it’s not quite true and turns out that there are 20 (or maybe even more) other nations that eat their national symbol. Kangaroo has been historically a staple source of protein for indigenous Australians. Kangaroo meat is high in protein, low in fat (about 2%), and has been attributed with a wide range of health benefits.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Rustic Pearl

Rustic Pearl

Hello Everyone! Here is another brunch turned late lunch review of this lovely café in Surry Hills that my housemate/friend recommended for a Sunday Brunch treat before the beginning of Semester 2 (last semester for me, but many more semesters for her). We’ve also been planning this brunch outing for a while now as our friend Daniel was on a month-long, or even more, holiday and we wanted to have our first brunch-turned-late-lunch get together. I also invited along my new housemate Lydia for our delicious eats.

I keep saying brunch-turned-late-lunch, and for those of you who have read my previous post, I am very particular about the timing when it comes to ‘brunch’ and ‘lunch’. Well hats off to Marissa for wanted to get to Rustic Pearl at 10am, at least she understood the concept of time when it comes to brunch, but what happened was that we ended up leaving a little bit later than planned. We only left home at about 10:45AM and probably reached the place at around 11:15AM. At least it wasn’t quite lunch yet, but nearly pushing it. The place was hectic though, we had to wait in line for a table and I was told by one of the waiters that it would be about a 45-minute to an hour wait. I was just like OH MY GOD, but we waited anyway.

They were pretty spot on with the predicted waiting time as I didn’t get a call for a free table until about an hour later. By the time we sat down and ordered it was probably already quarter to one, and food probably came out about another 15-20 minutes later. Man I was starving because as usual I skipped out on breakfast thinking that I would be having brunch. I think from the past two ‘brunch’ outings I have learnt my lesson – that I will NEVER be able to actually have brunch at the time I perceive it to be at, and that I should ALWAYS have breakfast before going out for a brunch-turned-late-lunch outing.

But enough babble, I shall get onto what I loved about Rustic Pearl. Now, I’m not one to order drinks at cafés just because it usually fills me up a bit even before the food arrives. But Marissa told me that they have some pretty awesome smoothies, and other drinks of course on their menu – and she was right! It was to die for! I had something called a Chocomolé which was basically Avocado and Chocolate, something I’ve never had before, combined that is, and I was just blown away by how amazing it tasted. The other smoothies were delicious as well (yes, we all doubled dipped and shared a sip from each drink that we ordered amongst the four of us).

Rustic Pearl - Avocado SmoothieAvocado Smoothie topped with pistachio & pomegranate seeds ($7.00)

Rustic Pearl - Banana Cinnamon SmoothieBanana Cinnamon Smoothie ($7.00)

Rustic Pearl - Chocomolé SmoothieChocomolé Smoothie with avocado, cocoa & honey, topped with pistachio & pomegranate seeds ($7.00)

Rustic Pearl - 'Yum Yeshil' (dairy free) Blended Fruit Juice‘Yum Yeshil’ (dairy free) Blended Fruit Juice with spirulina, topped with seeds, goji berries & bee pollen ($7.00)

Daniel wasn’t too fond of this drink. I only had a little sip so I couldn’t really judge the taste of it based on that. But this was the only smoothie that was dairy-free which is why he ordered it.

Now onto the food, we of course decided to order something different so that we could all each have at least one bite from everyones plate. The food was amazing! I could not fault the dishes at all, and neither could my friends.

Rustic Pearl - Breakfast Special: Smoked Wagyu Omelette
Breakfast Special: Smoked Wagyu Omelette with buffalo mozzarella, spinach, skordalia, bacon dust, tomato relish & toast ($17.00)

Marissa’s dish; she absolutely loved about the omelette was silky smooth and juicy. She is not a big fan of cherry tomatoes, but with this dish in particular, she almost forgot that she ate them! It was that good. She said that it looked a little bit small on the plate (in comparison to our dishes) but it was filling enough for her.

Rustic Pearl - Lunch Special: Fish of the Day (Swordfish)
Lunch Special: Fish of the Day (Swordfish) with spinach, tomato concasse, capers, avocado, cucumber & witlof, dressed with apple vinaigrette ($19.50)

Daniel’s dish; he absolutely loved how his fish was cooked to perfection. Yummy and juicy. He also loved his greens so this was the perfect, healthy dish for him.

Rustic Pearl - LUNCH for the soul: Char grilled Mediterranean Lamb Burger
LUNCH for the soul: Char grilled Mediterranean Lamb Burger with red onion jam, smoky eggplant purée, fresh tomato, cos lettuce & yoghurt dressing ($18.00)

Lydia’s dish; another stellar dish that did not upset. The meat patty was cooked to perfection – moist and juicy.

Rustic Pearl - BREAKFAST for the soul: Bosphorus Benedict
BREAKFAST for the soul: Bosphorus Benedict, char grilled bay lobster flesh, crushed avocado & 2 poached organic eggs, topped with homemade hollandaise, fresh chives, coriander & chilli ($24.00)

In my opinion, the best dish of the 4 (just because it was mine and I got to eat most of it) no but seriously, this dish was just so delicious. Runny egg yolk with char grilled lobster, who would’ve thought? Another stellar dish to my list of mind-blowing eggs benny (my top one is still Devon’s Eggs Blini – I will do a review on them when I have the chance to go back with more friends that that I have an array of dishes to show and write about and not just the one).

Now this is one worth mentioning (but hopefully no one from the café will see this, just incase it was a mistake and they will get in trouble with this), however I assume that it was intentional and I will state why… So, when the bill came, it was folded in half, had the total amount written on the back of the order sheet, and had a ‘Thank You!’ note written just below it. Now of course because we all knew that we needed to split the bill according to what we ordered, I opened the bill to see that we were undercharged in two of the dishes. Each dish, except Daniel’s was $17. Which meant that Lydia’s Lamb Burger was undercharged by $1 and my lobster Eggs Benny was undercharged by $7… Now being a nice and honest person, I was actually going to ask them if they had made a mistake on the bill, because I find being undercharged $7 is quite significant.

But instead I didn’t – not because I wanted to cheat but because I analysed they way the bill was given to us. It was folded in half, the total was written on the back of the order sheet, and I’m pretty sure that if they had totalled it, they would’ve spotted the mistake on the bill. Also, the two dishes that were undercharged came from their regular menu so I’m pretty sure they have been serving the dishes for a while and they would’ve remembered how much it costed. So I just wondered… Why? I probably should’ve asked why we were undercharged so that I at least knew why… A part of me also thought that it might be because we waited just a little bit over an hour for a table? Just maybe.

Nonetheless, it was a great day of warmth and sunshine (off for it is the middle of ‘winter’ here down under), laughs shared between old and new friends accompanied by delicious drinks and lip-smacking food. A must visit café for those in the Sydney region!

Rustic Pearl
415 Crown Street
Surry Hills, New South Wales
Australia, 2010

– Ally xx

Bar Indigo - FROM THE FARM: Argentine Salmon Omelette

Bar Indigo

Hello Everyone! Today’s post won’t be a recipe, but instead I want to share with you this gem of a place that I recently visited with my ladies for what was supposed to be a nice Sunday brunch, but instead turned out to be a late lunch. In a nutshell, my friend Yvonne wanted to try this place out and recommended it to both Jialing and I. So Jialing and I planned our trip since we live in the same area, just a suburb away. We decided that we would get into the city at around 10am and meet Yvonne there to arrive at Double Bay by 10:30am and hoping to start eating by 11am. Yvonne then said it was too early and told us to come into the city around 11am, and I was like, what?!

Ally: But the whole point of brunch is that it is in between breakfast and lunch! Brunch for me is like 10am… 11am is already pushing it because it’s close to noon which is lunch for me!
Yvonne: When I said brunch, I actually meant lunch!

God bless her haha! Anyway, so we then decided to push it to meet up at 11am in the city, to be at Double Bay by 11:30am and have ‘lunch’ by noon. As usual, Jialing and I got to the city just 2 minutes past 11 and Yvonne was still at home. So we waited around for another 20 minutes for her and finally got on the bus to Double Bay. At this point I was super hungry also because I didn’t have anything to eat beforehand. We got to Double Bay at roughly around noon and when we got to Bar Indigo, man was it busy! We still had to wait for a table, another half hour. As we waited, we went through the menu and it was sounding so delicious – and a bit torturous being very hungry and all as we watched dishes go by. Finally we sat down and ordered and I can say that the wait was all worth it! The food was absolutely amazing (but then again I find EVERYTHING amazing, especially when I’m super hungry).

The food did not disappoint at all. The portions were massive! Actually their plates were massive as well that it could barely sit on the table we sat at! Also, their plates – loved them. I have a new sense of appreciation for plates ever since taking up an intro to ceramics class last semester – which by the way I got an overall High Distinction for (you know, those Lovelily plates I posted about probably weeks ago, yes those)!

The one thing I love about going out with my girls is that we all decide one one dish that we like most, and once the food arrives, we split our dishes into three, and share – which I think is the best thing to do if you want to be able to try more than one dish, especially if it’s your first visit. Simply amazing! I say this in particular because I do have other friends who don’t like to share dishes – that is if it is a dish that is not meant to be shared.

Bar Indigo - FROM THE FARM: Argentine Salmon Omelette
FROM THE FARM: Argentine Salmon Omelette
Oven-roasted salmon, bell peppers, spring onion, flame-grilled corn & coriander salsa, sweet potato, fresh aversana mozzarella & chimichurri sauce ($19.90)

This was the dish that I ordered, and for one very particular reason as well which was the description. It just screamed my name! Salmon, eggs, and chimichurri?! Why not!

Bar Indigo - FROM THE GARDEN: Grilled Lamb Salad
FROM THE GARDEN: Grilled Lamb Salad
Crispy flat bread, sweet yoghurt, baby carrots & couscous ($29.90)

A dish that Yvonne ordered. The description isn’t as fancy as the others only because I completely forgot to take a photo of the menu description for this! And it wasn’t on their website as well because they changed their menu I think for the season. Nonetheless, that lamb was cooked to perfection and the flavour combinations went really well together. Loved the presentation as well (you can’t really see it in the photograph above, but those crispy flatbreads standing tall from the plate looked so majestic)!

Bar Indigo - INDIGO LUNCH FAVOURITES: Free Range Victor Churchill Duck Sausage Risotto
INDIGO LUNCH FAVOURITES: Free Range Victor Churchill Duck Sausage Risotto
Chicken stock, thyme leaves, spring onion, white truffle oil, garlic, chives, mascarpone, sliced asparagus, parsley, aged parmesan & asparagus crisp ($28.90)

And finally the dish Jialing ordered (or more like I recommended since the description appealed a lot to me as well). The risotto was really rich and creamy, packed with lots of flavour and just… SO yummy. And those duck sausages, just WOW.

After our lunch, we still had space for a yummy warm dessert (since it was freezing cold out). It was probably one of the best decisions we made together as a group only because I know for a fact that we usually go for a walk first after a meal to clear our bloated tummies, and then get dessert elsewhere, but this time around we decided to go for some fluffy pancakes because they looked oh-so-good on various Instagram accounts.

Bar Indigo - INDIGO BREAKFAST FAVOURITES: Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes
INDIGO BREAKFAST FAVOURITES: Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes
Maple syrup, caramel-glazed bananas & vanilla whipped mascarpone ($18.90)

The winner for me, hands down. I actually wanted these pancakes to begin with but I thought starting the day (in terms of the first meal of the day) with sweet pancakes just didn’t quite fit with me, needed something savoury. JUST LOOK AT ALL THAT FLUFF!

One of my favourite spots indefinitely. Great food, great company. The bill scared me a little bit, but otherwise affordable, just not a place to eat at every single week – for me that is. Be sure to check this place out if you haven’t already done so! Cheers!

Bar Indigo
15 Cross Street
Double Bay, New South Wales
Australia, 2028

– Ally xx

Persian Lunch

Persian Lunch

May the 4th be with you.

About a month ago or so (I actually cannot remember) I saw a post on the UNSW Food Lovers Society page that linked to a Facebook page called mamaCOOKoo. As intrigued as I was to know more about it, I clicked on their page and found out that they are a community that “connects amazing home cooks with hungry locals”. I then went onto their website to find out more about what they do. I read up on the story of how mamaCOOKoo came to be and found it interesting, and smart. Basically, husband and wife, both terrible at cooking, wanted to find a cost-effective solution to their troubles, and thus the birth of mamaCOOKoo, food that reminds us of home, mamas and grandmas, and their magic in the kitchen. You could register as a foodie, or as an amazing home cook. Torn between the two, I decided to sign up as a foodie as a craved for delicious home-cooked meals and mainly because I am curious to know about and experience the different cuisines out there in my area. I mean, yeah my cooking is good, but I don’t know about the ‘amazing’ part, just yet.

So about 2 weeks ago I got an email from Rumana, the founder of mamaCOOKoo, inviting me to eat Persian food. When I read the menu, I was on board immediately. Also, I’ve never really had Persian food before so I was really interested to taste authentic home-cooked Persian food. I feel that if you really want to experience a new cuisine, authentic, home-cooked is always the way to go first. I feel that restaurants today, especially in Australia, rarely have that authentic taste, and is always in some way tweaked and fused with a bit of a western touch. The really authentic restaurants are often difficult to find as well.

I got to experience authentic, home-cooked Persian food today and I definitely have no regrets.The food, AMAZING. And of course the people that we shared the meal with were also amazing. I invited my fellow food buddy Jialing and her boyfriend Zargham. We met Rumana and her husband Nilesh, Aadil and of course Arash who was our home cook for the day. We also got to know his wife who came in just as we were about to have dessert (not Persian, but still amazing with the ‘scotch-butter’ sauce). Lots of fun talking about random things I might add, from experiences with fire alarms, to cats and dogs (and of course which of the two were better, dogs hands down), and just all things food in general. We also got to know Arash, about his inspirations and how he started cooking by learning from his mom.

Here are some shots of the food that we had today:

Persian Lunch: Mirza Ghosayme
Mirza Ghosayme – Smoked bbq eggplant with eggs, garlic and tomatoes; this was a winner for me! I could just eat this all day, everyday!

Persian Lunch: Albaloo Pollo
Albaloo Pollo – Sour cherry rice; I am generally not a fan of cherries (probably scarred from those horrible preserved cherries in a jar), but this changed my view on cherries! Such a creative and vibrant dish and definitely something I’ve not seen in restaurants before!

Persian Lunch: Adas Pollo
Adas Pollo – Lentils, sultana, nuts (almond, pistachio) and rice; again, sultanas aren’t my thing but it felt like it wasn’t even there, the dish was just so good. SO good.

Persian Lunch: Gaymeh Pollo
Gaymeh Pollo – Slow cooked lamb, saffron, tomatoes, split peas, potato and rice; perfection on a plate.

Persian Lunch: Fesunjun
Fesunjun – Slow cooked chicken breast with pomegranate and walnuts; so tender and YUM.

Persian Lunch: Dolmeh
Dolmeh – Eggplant and capsicum stuffed with mushrooms, beans and rice, cooked in a tomato and tarragon sauce; just WOW.

Persian Lunch: Poached Pear with a 'scotch-butter' sauce and a dollop of cream
and lastly our not-so-Persian dessert (more French-inspired), Poached Pear with a ‘scotch-butter’ sauce and a dollop of cream; scotch-butter is in fact just butterscotch sauce, but Arash calls in scotch-butter because he couldn’t pronounce it at first. We love us some scotch-butter!

Overall, an amazing experience, both the food and the company. I’m glad that I came across mamaCOOKoo and I’m glad that they have started up this community. The only downside to this is that I probably will have to start running/walking again after such a full-on breakfast/lunch/dinner all in one go (I didn’t have breakfast because I believed that it would ruin my Persian lunch experience, and I was obviously too full to have dinner afterwards). But hey, if you have not experienced this feeling before, then I have news for you. You are NOT a true foodie at heart.

Also, if you are based in NSW, you can order the food that you see in this blog if you don’t have time to cook, or don’t like to cook at all, and are after a nice home-cooked meal. You can also order food for parties! I recommend that you register with mamaCOOKoo so you can find out more about home cooks around your area. Or hey! If you are an amazing home cook then do get in touch with Rumana! Links below:

– Ally xx

Cafe Con Leche

Cafe con Leche

Today I visited one of my most loved food spots in Sydney, Cafe con Leche, a Latin American café just on Fitzroy St. in Surry Hills. My high school friends from Brunei decided to meet up for lunch, and while we were discussing places to eat, naturally I suggested Cafe con Leche. How I came to know about this little gem is quite funny actually. It all started when my friend Jialing got on the wrong bus to campus and got off at the stop on Fitzroy St. She told me she smelt something so great and saw the café just across the street, so one Wednesday afternoon in between classes, we decided to go to this magical-smelling café. While we were digging into our meals, Jialing came across that ‘magical’ smell again and asked one of the staff where the smell was coming from. To our surprise, she said, “Oh it’s from the muesli place next door”. We had an “oh…” look on our faces, but honestly, if it weren’t for Farmer Jo’s sweet smelling muesli, we probably wouldn’t have known about Cafe con Leche. This was around late last year and to date, Cafe con Leche is and will always be in my top places to eat.

The food is simply divine, and affordable I may add. Good service, quick, and the staff, very friendly too, but I miss seeing this one lady who used to serve my friends and I when we first started going. She was always so shocked (in a good way) to see how happy and excited my friends and I got when our Arepas for three touched our table (we are always excited to see food arrive to our table, especially when we’re so hungry).

If you haven’t been or heard about Cafe con Leche, now is the time to befriend me so that I can join you and keep going back for more! Today between the 3 of us, we had the Ham and Chicken Quesadilla, South American Style Eggs and an Arepas for 2 plate to share. It was so good.

Cafe Con Leche: Arepas for 2
Arepas for 2, $12 – served with ogao, sour cream, guacamole, ropas vieja and aji

Cafe Con Leche: Ham & Chicken Quesadilla
Ham & Chicken Quesadilla, $9 – served with cheese and tomato with guacamole

Cafe Con Leche: South American Style Eggs
South American Style Eggs, $14 – scrambled eggs chorizo, served with an arepas and guacamole

As I mentioned above, I have been here many times and have tired numerous dishes on their menus, and of course photographed every meal (a true foodie). So if the above dishes aren’t to your liking, then here are some other dishes to try, all a big thumbs up from me. L-R: Arepas for 4, Chorizo Salad, Ajiaco (Colombian chicken soup) and Beef Lasagne.

Cafe Con Leche

Café con Leche
104 Fitzroy Street
Surry Hills, New South Wales
Australia, 2010

– Ally xx

Anzac Pancakes

Anzac Pancakes

Hello Everyone! Today (April 25) is Anzac Day, a national day of remembrance, commemorating Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. So to commemorate Anzac day, I decided to bake some home-made Anzac biscuits. They are made using rolled oats, flour, desiccated coconut, sugar, butter, golden syrup, baking soda and boiling water, popular in Australia and New Zealand. It is said that Anzac biscuits were sent to the soldiers abroad by their wives, mainly because the ingredients used to make them did not spoil easily and the biscuits kept well during naval transportation. Today, Anzac biscuits are manufactured commercially for retail sale.

Initially, that was my plan, to bake some home-made Anzac biscuits. But I woke up today wanting to make some yummy pancakes. So I thought to myself, why not both?…In one? And thus for today’s recipe, Anzac Pancakes. I basically used a basic pancake mix and added a few extra ingredients from the Anzac biscuit.

Anzac Pancakes

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME 15-20 MINS MAKES 6 PANCAKES

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp honey & maple syrup blend by Capilano, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil, for cooking

METHOD

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, rolled oats, and desiccated coconut. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, butter, egg, and honey & maple syrup blend. Add the dry ingredients to the milk mixture and whisk until well combined (do not overmix, a few small lumps are fine).
  2. Heat a small pan (nonstick or cast-iron) over medium heat. Fold a sheet of paper towel in half, and moisten with the vegetable oil and carefully rub the pan with the oiled paper towel. Ladle the batter onto the pan, using the back of the ladle to spread the batter into a round shape. Cook until the surface of the pancake starts to bubble, about 2-3 minutes. Flip carefully with a spatula, and cook until browned on the underside, about 1-2 minutes more.
  3. Continue with more oil and remaining batter (makes about 6 fairly large pancakes). Serve warm, with desired toppings.

It was quite a gloomy, rainy morning here in Sydney, so I decided to have a cup of Crème Brûlée flavoured black tea from T2 to go with my pancakes. What a great way to start a morning I reckon! Also, I actually really like my pancakes with a hint of cinnamon and vanilla. I just didn’t add these ingredients in because I really wanted this to be a true Anzac Pancake. But I think the pancakes definitely needed these extra two ingredients!

Anzac Pancakes

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

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