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oh_ayana
19 June 2013 @ 06:41 pm
Tired of the constant problems with access to Livejournal...

I have decided to move my blog!

You can find me at
http://ohayana.wordpress.com/

Please update any current links and I promise to be more diligent at wordpress :)

See you there!
Ayana xx
 
 
oh_ayana
18 April 2013 @ 06:22 pm
Treating ourselves and wanting some fresh air and sunshine before Autumn comes along, Bill and I took advantage of our Day in Lieu and made the drive to Bronte. Three Blue Ducks (141-143 Macpherson St, Bronte) led by former Tetsuya head chefs, has been on my list for a while for a brunch session after sampling their foods at The Paddington Markets, we hoped to beat the weekend crowds and visited on a Friday.

We arrived there just in time for breakfast which ends at 1130am (lunch starts at 12pm so don't get caught out in beween these times and starve) and were seated in the bar side of the cafe where we watched the bartender juice fresh fruits and admired the quirky teapots hanging on the wall. The menu was exciting and initially I had my eye on the Quinoa and fig bircher with caramelised peaches, fresh fruit, yoghurt and toasted nuts but sadly they were already sold out. We started the morning right with an organic latte, fair trade and roasted by Single Origin Roasters for me and a fresh  and instead opted for a seemlingly simple bowl of bircher muesli with seasonal fruits. This was the perfect bowl of muesli, each spoonful was delicious, the crunch of apple slices, toasted nuts, berry compote, natural smooth greek yoghurt, sweet fig and the bursts of fresh passionfruit - so amazing and satisfying that Bill and I were fighting for each mouthful.
Three Blue Ducks







Needless to say the food was fresh and of a high quality making you feel good from the inside and absolutely delicious. It may be because the produce used is local and as organic as can be. They even have a cute garden at the back (just keep walking down the corridor) making use of all the space.
After brunch we took a short stroll to Bronte beach which in turn led to a full on coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee and back to Bronte.

P.S Victorians, you can also get a piece of Three Blue Ducks gorgeous foods at Falls Creek XP

Three Blue Ducks on Urbanspoon
 
 
oh_ayana
04 April 2013 @ 10:14 pm
I hope you all have had an enjoyable Easter break!

After all the chocolate madness over Easter, I was looking to make a more healthier dessert using some leftover matcha powder when Beyond the Square Communications approached me to try samples of Queen Fine Foods Jel-It-In.



Finally now I'm able to bring pannacotta's and jellies to share with my Muslim, vegan and vegetarian friends! Jel-It-In is a plant based alternative to gelatine, made from extracts of seaweed and seeds from the carob tree, think similar to agar-agar. Even if you're not vegetarian, Jel-It-In is a healthier alternative to gelatine which is made from the by products of animals (I always thought it was pork fat but it could also include skin, horn, hoof, bones - you name it!).



Matcha Panna Cotta
Matcha Panna Cotta tweaked for Jel-It-In gelling powder.
1 tbs Matcha powder
2 tbs sugar
1 tbs water
2 packets Jel-It-In gelling powder
5 tbs water
400ml milk
80g sugar

1. Mix the matcha powder and 2 tbs sugar with 1 tbs hot water to create a matcha sauce.
2. Dissolve 2 sachets of Jel-It-In in the remaining 5 tbs water.
3. Dissolve 80g sugar in the milk, half of the matcha sauce (step 1) and add the dissolved Jel-It-In (step 2) and bring the mixture to boil.
4. Once boiling point is reached, pour the mixture into the mould and leave it in the fridge to set.
5. Pour the remaining rest of the matcha sauce to serve.


I found it easy to use, clear and unflavoured. It was very fast-acting, as my panna cotta started to firm up while at room temperature soon after I poured it into the mould. I'm not sure whether it was the Jel-It-In but the panna cotta slid easily out of the mould when serving and held the shape of the mould very well when served - almost too well.
All in all I found it a great alternative to gelatine, though I will need to tweak my recipes used for gelatine as I found it set too fast and too hard compared to gelatine. I am especially excited to be able to share desserts with my Muslim and vegetarian friends as they only usually eat agar agar jellies and now they can have the taste that is seriously divine panna cotta desserts!
 
 
oh_ayana
27 March 2013 @ 06:53 pm
My my how fast 2013 has already flown by, cannot believe it's already mid March! If you follow me on twitter or instagram you'll know that I've been in and out of Sydney in recent months for work and though it may be two nights here and there, it starts to accumulate and I always feel really far away from the boy. So when I returned from a back to back Malaysia and Perth trip, he suprised me with a lunch date at MoVida Sydney (50 Holt St, Surry Hills).
We've been wanting to go to Movida Sydney since it opened in Sydney as we loved Movida in Melbourne and Bill wanted another taste of the anchoa! However it's always been booked out, but yay they're now open for late Saturday lunches and take bookings.

We were seated on the high tables lined by the windows - and yes they have bag hooks under the table - and we were served crusty bread sprinkled with salt with olive oil for dipping. Now Movida has always served complimentary bread however some months they participate in Bread for Change where diners can pay an optional $1 for the bread which is donated towards a charity - our donation went towards the Salvation Army's Bushfire Disaster Relief Appeal and it's  great initiative by restaurants participating, and imho the bread is definitely worth the extra $1. The Sherry Cobbler with Fino Sherry, Orange and Lemon was a delicious way to kick off lunch while Bill went for the Sangria.
It was pretty easy ordering this time around, knowing how big the portions were for each type of dish, if you haven't been to Movida the waiters are very helpful in ordering enough for your party ranging from small tapas plates to larger share plates. Bill's only request was he definitely wanted the Anchoa again, the single salty piece of Cantabrian anchovy with a quenelle of smoky tomato sorbet on a perfectly thin crisp was just as good as the one we first ate in Melbourne. The Bocata de Buey was a sight to see! A hollow air baguette wrapped with a thin rost biff wagyu topped with Tocino de Cielo and altogether paired so well with the sweet pickled and black garlic - this was going to be a new favourite along with the Anchoa. We only ordered one serving of the Pintxo de Pulpo Gallega but I wishe we ordered one for each, it was perfectly cooked, my knife cutting the octopus pincho like butter which was melt in your mouth and seasoned with paprika served on top a potato mash. Of the larger plates we ordered the Mojama, perfect blocks of watermelon topped with slices of air cured tuna with beetroot, marcona almonds and goats cheese. We also could not go past the Cecina which we missed on our previous visit in Melbourne, thin slices of air cured wagyu beef with the creamy, gooey poached egg and truffle foam was decadent and amazing, our favourite dish from our lunch. I was tempted by the churros for dessert, but I wanted to taste the Flan which blew my mind last visit and did not disappoint in Sydney, we indulged in the creme caramel which wobbled on the plate, velvety smooth we finished it within minutes.

MoVida Sydney



Sherry Cobbler and Sangria

Bread for Change

Anchoa
Artisan Cantabrian Anchovy with Smoked Tomato Sorbet 4.5 each

Pintxo de pulp gallega
Octopus Pincho served with Potato and Paprika 6.8 each

Bocata de buey
Air Baguette, Rost Biff Wagyu, Tocino de Cielo, Pickled & Black Garlic 8.5 each

Mojama
Air Cured Tuna with Beetroot, Watermelon and Marcona Almonds 19

Cecina
Air cured Wagyu Beef with Truffle Foam & a Poached Egg 21.5

Cecina

Flan
Crème Caramel served with Pestinos 14

Movida Sydney is an aboslutely great addition to Surry Hills with a great vibe, fantastic service and the food just as great as the Melbourne Institution. Now there's no need to jump on a plane, just make your way down to Surry Hills, be sure book ahead as it's so popular we were unable to book even a weekday dinner for my birthday last year, however they do have few spaces for walk ins by the bar also. As they change their menu items often, I can't wait to go back and try the other dishes.

MoVida Sydney on Urbanspoon
 
 
oh_ayana
I hope you're all having a great start to the holiday season! I certainly am (besides not having finished my Christmas present shopping) and have kicked it off with a lovely Christmas lunch. So... I've never ever made a roast whole anything not chicken or turkey or quail and decided it was time to take the plunge when I received some Turkey samples from the wonderful people at Ingham.

One of the samples I received was the Whole Turkey Breast Buffe which came pre-marinated, making it a little less daunting for a first timer. The breast buffe weighed in at 3.6kg, and having been kept in the freezer thus far I took it out to thaw in the fridge for a couple of days (13hrs for each kg). Once it was thawed, I pat the turkey dry with paper towels, slipped some rosemary into the skin, stuffed the cavity and placed it on a rack in a roasting pan wih 2 cups of water and into my conventional oven it went. Simple! For the first hour I covered the turkey with foil and added a bit more water to the roasting pan and for the next hour I let it roast foil off until golden brown. Wanting to keep my stuffing simple I used what I had on hand - quartered lemons, rosemary, thyme and garlic. The turkey took around 2.5hours until it was roasted to perfection - a tip to use a meat thermometer so that it reaches 80C to ensure the turkey is cooked. Though the skin was not an even colour and had broken in a few places, when carving the turkey up it revealed the juicy and succulent meat which I was happy with. My family were also impressed and enjoyed our first Christmas lunch wih turkey as the centrepiece - usually we'd have sashimi and seafood...not very Christmassy. As it was my first time roasting a turkey, I was surprised at how simple and effortless it was, making my job a whole lot easier for the day.
While my turkey was roasting away I made a quick and easy warm potato salad with asparagus, leek and crispy pancetta.
As the salad only took 20mins to prepare, I also made a start on dessert Choux Pastry filled fresh cream custard - by making a custard and  combining it with fresh whipped cream you're left with an amazing to die for filling.

Ingham Whole Turkey Breast Buffe





Warm potato salad, asparagus, leek and crispy pancetta


Choux pastry with fresh whipped cream custard

Also, thank you to all the lovely readers who have commented on the Strawberry Santas I made for various Christmas gatherings :) As some of you have asked for a recipe, it's very very easy to make!
Strawberry Santa Recipe
Wash the strawberries (preferably large strawaberries), remove the leaf and cut the strawberry into two 1/3 from the tip for the hat and the remaining 2/3 will be the body of the Santa. Whip some fresh cream with sugar, ensure that it is stiff so that it can hold up the strawberry hat, and squeeze some onto the body and onto the tip of the hat. Carefully place a black sesame seed for each of Santa's eyes and place the strawberry hat on top. Easy! These are perfect for decoration to a cake or impress with these super cute and easy to make snack.

Strawberry Santas
IMG_0834
Hope you all have a safe holiday season and wishing you a Merry Chrismas!
Ayana
♡♡♡
 
 
oh_ayana
16 December 2012 @ 08:13 pm
As I browsed a friends Rise filtered sandwich lunch from Sub Station 152, I knew I had to make a trip on the weekend. Sub Station 152 Cafe (124 McEvoy St, Alexandria) opened on 3 September 2012 and from the outside appears to be a little nook, however it has transformed from previously being an electric substation into a cute little cafe complete with a narrow outdoor area and an annex featuring a vertical garden.

 
via @annieso
 
via @annieso

The menu here is simple with a range of sandwiches and salads and also the specials. On this occaision they were offering their signature Shakshuka dish, a traditional Israeli dish with 2 free range poached eggs cooked in chunky tomato sauce with grilled vegetables and a touch of chill and fresh herbs served in a shallow pan with a side of bread. Suprisingly this is a dish I'd definitely order however on that day I was after a Poached Chicken sandwiched assembled perfecty with the freshest ingredients while Bill had the simple and homey bacon and egg roll.

Sub-Station
 
 

Poached Chicken

Bacon and Egg roll
 

Everything about Sub Station 152 screams "cute" from the size of the cafe to the wooden spoon table numbers and the highlight would be getting some sunshine in the decked outdoor area. I just loved the atmosphere of having a very relaxed brunch here for a dose of Vitamin D.

Sub-Station Cafe on Urbanspoon
 
 
oh_ayana
25 October 2012 @ 10:57 pm

Bill having recently had a Studio Ghibli movie marathon, I decided to keep the theme going and take him to try Porco Rosso (33 Allen Street Waterloo) for our date night – doh he had already heard of Porco Rosso as he works in Alexandria. Porco Rosso is one of Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli films about an Italian ex war hero who is transformed into a pig - although we didn’t know whether the restaurant referred to the Ghibli Porco Rosso. The restaurant is hidden under a residential complex and appears to be a favourite for locals who kept popping in for take away pizzas. Reminiscent of an industrial space it is minimally decorated, concrete floors, bags of flour stacked against the glass panelled kitchen and racks of fresh pasta to dry - I especially loved the magnetic specials board with super cute letters of the alphabet.

The menu has hints of Japanese influence (see the tofu salad and edamame) and is divided into Antipasti, Salads, Pizza and Homemade Pasta. The pizzas were named in Italian numerical order and the homemade pastas were named in Japanese numerical order, both lists omitting the number four which is unlucky in Japanese cultures.
We started off with antipasti of caprese with buffalo mozzarella, tomato, basil, extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of black pepper. A simple but beautiful dish, and with tomatoes being the new bananas I savour the chance to have great tomatoes out. We did get food envy when a mountain of parma prosciutto plate with carefully balancing jumbo grissini was ordered by almost all the other tables dining that night and we made a mental note to order that dish next time. Bill chose the Otto (8) pizza, a puffy and chewy crust with tomato sauce topped with fresh mozzarella, wild mushrooms, sausage and bitter radicchio. Naturally I gravitated to the Japanese influenced homemade pasta Go (5) spaghettini with mentaiko which is a chilli marinated cod roe, topped with shredded nori, fresh basil and lemon zest each ingredient present in each forkful. Normally I’d only use mentaiko with soy sauce so I loved how the basil and lemon zest added a freshness and zing to the dish. There’s no separate dessert menu but a cabinet showcasing the desserts of the night which filled as the night progressed. A strawberry custard cake with layers soft sponge cake filled with delicious fresh cream and strawberries caught my eye and a traditional tiramisu layers of coffee and marsala wine soaked chocolate cake and marscapone was the perfect decadent end to our evening.

Porco Rosso




Caprese with buffalo mozzarella, basil, tomato and extra virgin olive oil

Otto (8) tomato sauce topped with fresh mozzarella, wild mushrooms, sausage, radicchio

Go (5) spaghettini with mentaiko, nori, fresh basil and lemon zest

Tiramisu

Strawberry Custard Cake

The restaurant for dinner has a very laid back vibe, perfect for a casual dinner date and I’d love to come back here for lunch as their coffee was great too. Yet another great addition to the ever growing industrial Waterloo/Alexandria area with friendly staff and great Japanese Italian ‘fusion’ food.

Porcorosso on Urbanspoon
 
 
oh_ayana
01 October 2012 @ 12:40 am
My mum becomes some what of a foodie fan-girl whenever Colin Fassnidge makes an appearance on television, so when the time came around to book a restaurant for her birthday lunch, her first choice was naturally, Four in Hand (105 Sutherland St, Paddington). Four in Hand is nestled in the residential street of Paddington and the dining room is further hidden through the pub. We were seated in an intimate dining room with elegant dark wood floors, beneath the giant squid painting. I was excited to dine here as Four in Hand makes the most of their produce through the nose to tail cooking philosophy.

To start, complimentary Iggy's sourdough bread is served, airy and delicious, followed by an amuse bouche of basil, paprika and citrus served in a tiny cup to whet the appetite. Though their menu is on the smaller side, it was hard to decide between the dishes. Luckily between the four of us we managed to cover the most of the menu.
I could not go past the lightly seared bonito with apple and cucumber jelly with a combination of textures, flavours which was all very prettily plated, while the others ordered the beautifully presented sashimi of trout hidden beneath ribbons of radish. I continued with the white meat theme and had the roasted jewfish with deliciously smoky vegetables for a main but was envious of mum's gorgeous piece of beef, bone marrow and delicate onion rings in the most amazing cast iron plate and a side serving of green beans with hazelnut dressing. A combination which I wasn't too sure of was the spanish mackeral with prosciutto and squid gnocchi which was perfect together in an amazing seafood mussel broth while you cannot go wrong with the suckling pig served with a side of the absolutely smoothest and creamiest colcannon, an Irish mashed potato dish with kale. Dessert was an easy decision, the chocolate snickers presented much like a garden of soil of scoops of chocolate mousse ad peanuts dusted with cocoa and sprinkled with micro herbs popping out. For the brother with a peanut allergy, a caramlised ad stewed apple with a refreshing yoghurt popsicle.

Four In Hand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Four in Hand is definitely deserving of the GFG two hats, surprising flavour combinations which worked perfectly and an experience topped off with attentive and warm service. Definitely a place I would love to take Bill for a carnivorous hit and I am sure he would enjoy the braised tender meats and head to tail cooking philosophy. Loved it so much I'll also have to make our way to Four Fourteen soon.

Four in Hand on Urbanspoon
 
 
oh_ayana
08 September 2012 @ 12:58 pm
Springs here and there's no better time to make your way to the gardens at the old Four n Twenty pie factory Building 7A, No.2 Huntley St Alexandria, or better known as "The Grounds". Oh boy, this is a long overdue post having visited The Grounds of Alexandria (Building 7A, 2 Huntley St, Alexandria) when it first opened for breakfast and a few lunches after since April 2012.

Arriving what we thought early at 9am for breakfast, we still faced a 20min wait after adding our names to the clipboard. Not to worry, it presented a great opportunity to get a takeaway coffee (their coffee is amazing!) and wander, taking in The Grounds Garden, from the wishing fountain to the herb gardens. The outdoor seating area, available for venue hire made the wait enjoyable, and we could have easily had take away coffee and some sweet delights in the garden.
We were seated outside this time with the heaters to keep us warm and shades to keep the sun out, Bill had the Breakfast Board and I the Rolled eggs which the friendly waitstaff informed was quickly becoming their signature dish. Bill's a very happy chappy when the Breakfast Board arrives with an abundance of foods styled on a wooden board, a mountain of fine double smoked ham, perfectly sliced half avocado, Persian fetta, heirloom tomato salad, two poached eggs and housemade pesto on sourdough toast with the all-important side of bacon served crispy. It's easy to see why the rolled eggs were becoming their signature - a delicious, fresh and healthy dish using seasonal produce. My perfectly cooked rolled eggs oozing yellow, looked impressive balancing atop a tower of asparagus stalks, rocket leaves, watercress and oven roasted roma tomatoes. Though the truffle oil seemed non-existent, I loved the crispy quinoa giving the dish texture and a nuttiness to the dish, easily making this a favourite for me. Just a warning, as they do use seasonal produce their "garden herbs" added in this dish can change from rocket and watercress to coriander...which I learnt the hard way on my subsequent visit - I have issues with coriander so half the dish was inedible for me the next time :(

The Grounds of Alexandria
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Breakfast Board  double smoked ham, avocado, Persian fetta, heirloom tomato, two poached eggs and housemade pesto on sourdough toast
With side bacon served crispy ($4)
 
Rolled eggs with crispy quinoa, asparagus, roasted tomatoes, garden herbs w sourdough toast

Best coffee eveeerrrrr

Other notable lunch items we've tried are the Buffalo mozarella, heirloom tomatoes and hand picked basil salad which fresh and wholesome while Bill of course rated The Grounds Burger with a thick dry aged angus beef patty, cheese, tomato, pickles, mustard and a side of chunky chips.

It was during my most recent experience at The Grounds which has left me a little wary of the uber busy establishment. Unfortunately although the floor manager did a great job circulating the gardens and reassuring us that our names were indeed on the list and updating us on waiting times which definitely made us feel better, the service in house left us disappointed. Having waited an hour to be seated, we knew exactly what we were having and immediately ordered, however as many other tables received their food prior to us although they had ordered after us I inquired with the waitress who let us know briskly they were quite busy and there may be a wait for the food to arrive. Eventually 5mins after our food arrived cold leaving us quite sad and disappointed deciding it was definitely not worth the wait.   

Still my favourite place to get a coffee in Alexandria and though I am happy to grab take away, it may be a while again before I return to dine in. The Grounds is no doubt a great warm addition to the industrial Alexandria area, also with the introduction of The Grounds Markets held each last Saturday of the month. I absolutely loved the decor and appreciated the culture and the overall character of The Grounds.

The Grounds of Alexandria on Urbanspoon
 
 
oh_ayana
23 August 2012 @ 09:53 pm
Oops, apologies for my absence...it has been a while since I've been back from Canada...but I'm back with the new kid on the Surry Hills block.

Cowbell 808 (616 Bourke St Surry Hills) is a retro inspired cafe complete with hip hop graffiti feature wall, indoor basketball hoop, a counter behind a row of old school vinyl records and lego knick knacks...I think my 80's McDonald's happy meal toys will fit right in here. The kitchen is small but they make mostly everything on the premises, even smoking their bacon and the house blend Toby's Estate made for a delicious coffee. It took a while however our food eventually arrived on our vinyl table burnt with an iron. I had the Pork 'n' beans on toast, a mountain of white beans and hearty saucy pork with a nice kick of tabasco topped with grated provolone made for a perfect brunch on this winter's day. Bill naturally wanted to try the Cowbell 808 burger a ground beef pattie, lettuce, cheese, pickles and a side of onion rings. I loved the onion rings and wished we could have ordered a side of these to share! My friend had the Grilled Eggplant roll which we agreed was the tastiest dish of the day fried cauliflower, eggplant, hommus and mint on grilled flatbread.

If you're feeling adventurous and in the need of some comfort food you can't go past the Fat Stacked Hotcakes with marscapone, bacon ice cream and espresso syrup, which we're saving for next time!

Cowbell 808
 
 
Lismore spoon
 
turn around Mr Legohead
 
Cowbell 808 Burger
 
Pork 'n' Beans on Toast
 

With our bellies full, it was off to the 18th Biennale of Sydney to check out the exhibitions on Cockatoo Island. My favourites were the Hylozic Series: Sibyl and the Dune lights in the Dog Leg Tunnel while Bill enjoyed the Living Chasm a pure water fog.

Biennale of Sydney ends 16 Sept
 
The River
 
 
 
Domesticated Turf

Domesticated Turf
Industrial doillies made of sand


Cowbell 808 on Urbanspoon