Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Pear, Pomegranate and Walnut Salad with Yarra Valley Persian Fetta

This is my twist on the old classic Pear and Walnut Salad, which, don’t get me wrong, is great, but I thought I’d try it with 2 of my favourite ingredients; Pomegranates and the deliciously creamy Yarra Valley Persian Fetta. This cheese is so smooth, it’s almost like silk, it’s marinated in various herbs and is one of my most favourite products from my beloved Yarra Valley. Give this salad a shot, it’s fantastic!


1 cup of Walnut Kernals
Juice and Seeds of 1 Pomegranate
½ a Garlic Clove
Zest of 1 Lemon
125ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
300g Rocket
2 Ripe Pears (not too soft)
150g Yarra Valley Persian Fetta or similar

Put the Walnuts, Olive Oil, Garlic, Sea Salt, Grated Lemon Zest into a blender, which will form part of the dressing for your salad.
Toss the rocket in some of your pomegranate juice and a dash of olive oil.
Core your pears and slice them thinly, a v-slicer helps with this, if your knife skills aren’t up to scratch.
Arrange the pear on a plate with your Rocket.
Crumble the Fetta in and around the Rocket and sprinkle your Pomegranate seeds over the salad.
Drizzle your Walnut dressing over the salad and you’re ready to enjoy! Nice!

Easy Banana Bread

Everyone loves, fresh, warm bread in the morning, but I’m a little more partial to a sweeter type of breakfast bread. Here’s a recipe for the most moist, perfectly sweetened Banana Bread that you will find. All you need to make sure this recipe works is some really ripe bananas that you have forgotten about for a few days, so that they’re practically black. Apparently you can help speed up the ripening process by placing the bananas into a brown paper bag, in a dark cupboard, give it a go.

Spread your warm baked bread simply with some butter and maybe even some honey drizzled over the top. Yum!!


90g Softened Butter
115g Caster Sugar
2 eggs
1 Teaspoon of Natural Vanilla Extract or a fresh Vanilla Bean
2 Cups of Plain Flour
2 Tspns of Baking Powder
2 Largish, Very Ripe Bananas
Zest of an Orange or a Lemon
1 Small Handful of finely chopped Walnuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 180c
Place all of your ingredients into a food processor, except the Walnuts (if adding).
Blend until a smooth batter forms.
Place batter into a 8 x 16 baking tin.
Bake for an hour, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Spread your warm baked bread simply with some butter and maybe even some honey drizzled over the top. Yum!!

Figs with Prosciutto, Basil and Buffalo Mozzarella

Here’s an easy one for you, which is a great summer classic. I put this together in our little cabin, whilst holidaying in Wilson’s Prom for a few days. It only takes a few ingredients to make these fantastic little gems of goodness. The one thing that I have to stress is to make sure your ingredients are the freshest you can get. Remember, the fresher the ingredients, the better the end product!


6 Ripe Black Figs, cut into quarters.
24 Basil Leaves, washed and dryed
12 slices of Prosciutto, sliced in half, lengthways
1 Ball of fresh Mozzarella (Buffalo is best, if you can get it), torn apart into 24 similar sized pieces
Sea Salt, Black Pepper and Extra Virgin Olive Oil to serve


Lay a Prosciutto half flat on the bench.
At one end, place a basil leaf, a piece of fig and some mozzarella.
Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper
Roll your piece of prociutto around the cheese, basil and fig.
Place on a plate and drizzle with some olive oil to serve.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Papaya (Sydney)

Shop 7, 307 Military Rd, Cremorne. Phone (02) 9953 8992

Coming back from Sydney city, back to Cremorne one warm evening, our attention was caught by a bustling restaurant, just off Military Rd, Papaya. It's large bi-fold windows were open, allowing the pungent aromas of delicious Thai food to waft down the street. Once we smelt the spicy goodness, we had to check it out. The place was packed and we didn't have a booking so we thought we would miss out, but as soon as we stepped inside, the lovely, smiling waitress said 'table for two?' and showed us straight to what I think was the last table left in the house.

The restaurant is decked out in both traditional and modern decor. The roof is slatted with planks of wood, which reminded me very much of the black bamboo roof at Gingerboy in Melbourne. The most eye catching piece though at the very modern Chandeliers which have been purchased from the very posh design store down the road.

The menu and food at Papaya isn't just your standard 'local Thai' dishes, it's a bit more modern than that and the dishes are all thoughtfully and creatively presented. There are so many great choices on the menu, that we seemed to spend forever trying to decide on what to order.

First up we decided on the Prawn Cakes, which were served with a sweet chilli sauce. The cakes were perfectly cooked, golden and crunchy on the outside and just cooked prawn meat on the inside, delicious!

Next up we ordered a couple of mains to share. Pad Thai was the first served. It came on a big plate, wrapped in a big, crunchy omelette. On the side was lemon, little piles of sugar, peanuts and chilli, with some bean shoots. I thought this was a great way to present the old favourite, Pad Thai. The extras on the side made it possible to adjust the flavours to your own taste. We really loved this dish, it was great!

The next main was Red Duck Curry with Lychees, served in a hollowed out pineapple half. The curry was quite spicy, but the Lychees helped tame down the stronger flavours as did the juice that must have been seeping into the curry from the pineapple half. The duck was perfectly cooked and had a perfectly soft texture.

We loved Papaya, so much that we went back for a second time before we left Sydney. As far as price goes, for Thai food, it's not cheap, but for really good quality fresh food, that's really tasty, it's not expensive. Mains were about $18 and entrees about $8.

The service was fantastic both times we visited, the girls were always smiling and always made sure our water was kept topped up - even when they were rushed off their feet!

Papaya is definitely worth checking out if your near Cremorne, it's damn good Thai food, and that's saying something coming from me, especially since I've been doing the Ezard Challenge, I'd like to think I know what I'm talking about!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Waqu (Sydney)

32 Falcon St Crows Nest NSW 2065, Phone (02) 9906 7736

On our last night in Sydney we were planning on heading out to a posh restaurant like Aria or Rockpool, but since most of the restaurants we had visited so far we had found on www.eatability.com.au, we thought that we would try another place from there. Especially since most of the ratings were spot on so far and the places were very good value. The place we found was Waqu, a Japanese place in Crow's Nest (just across the harbour on the North Side of the Bridge). Eatability users had rated it very highly, especially their 5 course tasting menu for $39.
The first thing we noticed when we walked into Waqu, was that a majority of the people eating there were Japanese. I always think it's a good sign when people from the home country of a restaurant choose to eat there.

The room is tastefully decorated, but with minimal Japanese influence. A lot of Japanese restaurants are covered in Japanese writing, figures, posters, but Waqu seems to have avoided travelling down that road.

I have listed the 5 course tasting menu below and included the pictures of what we ate. There's actually 6 courses if you include the Broccoli Soup Starter.

Cold Soup broccoli cream soup

Course 1 (assorted entree) deep fried soft shell crab taco beef tataki, ponzu jelly and frying fish roe dressing, chargrilled eel fillet and eggplant, yuzu pepper, roasted garlic aioli tartar

Course 2 (sashimi plate) chef's daily selection of sashimi plate

Course 3 (entree) oven baked cod fillet with "saikyo" miso sauce or roasted duck fillet, raspberry sauce or tempura fried prawns, vegetables and 'yuba' tofu sheet

Course 4 (main) salt black pepper angus beef steak, creamy mashed potato or roasted whole quail, tamari ginger sauce or deep fried soy marinated chicken, 'shiso' leaf salsa dressing

Course 5 (dessert) white sesame cream brulee or green tea mousse with green tea ice cream

I'm not going to review each dish for you, but I can tell you that the whole experience was amazing. We loved each dish in it's own way. None of the flavours were over powering, especially considering we were eating strong flavours such as Eel and Creme Brulee made from Sesame Seeds. The sushi was so fresh, you would think it was just killed out the back! My favourite was the deep fried soft shell crab taco beef tataki, ponzu jelly and 'frying' fish roe dressing. I'd never had soft shell crab before - apparently it's a type of crab that shed's it's shell, and when it does, they're ripe for the eating. I read that you usually buy these frozen. The tastes and textures in this little taster were amazing, so fresh and crunchy. It really was like eating a little Japanese Taco! The Angus beef was great too. The sauce wasn't too strong, allowing you to enjoy the full taste and soft texture of the meat.

If you're in Sydney, I definitely recommend paying a visit to Waqu- the quality of food and service that you get for $39 is fantastic and located so close to the city, it's easy to get to. I loved it and will definitely return on my next visit!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Holiday in Sydney

I'm back! After a much needed holiday in Sydney, I've returned for some more blogging action! Whilst in Sydney, we were lucky enough to stay in Cremorne, which is on the very posh Lower North Shore, just down the road from little Johnny Howard in Kirribilli. We did lots of eating out in Sydney and ate some really good, interesting food while we were there. I'd always heard that Sydney was a really expensive place to eat out, but most places we ate out at were quite reasonably priced. Sure you have your places like Aria, who's prices are some of the most expensive I've seen, but there are some good local food places, which are very reasonably priced.

Near where we were saying was Military Road, which runs through Cremorne, Mosman and Neutral Bay. Along this strip there are plenty of restaurants worth checking out. We used www.eatability.com.au to find some recommended places to eat. Sydney-siders seem to use this site a lot more than us Melbournians do. It came in very handy indeed.

We also paid a visit to the Sydney Fish Markets. I've always wanted to check out this place, I've heard so many good things about it, like how big it is, how much good seafood there is there, but it really wasn't anything special. It definately wasn't cheap, that's for sure. Queen Victoria Market has just as much variety and is probably cheaper. It was worth a look though. It was also pretty cool to eat lunch there, down by the water, with the fresh ingredients used from the stalls.

I visited a few nice little restaurants and a couple of not so good restaurants. I've taken lots of photos too, so I'll put up some reviews on these places, so if you're visiting Sydney, you can have a couple ideas on where to go.