One of our favourite things to do in Sydney is to visit the Fish Market. My husband and I have visited on every trip, and its the one thing I always recommend friends to do.
The Fish Market is either a short cab ride or a 25 minute walk from the CBD. I like to get there for an early lunch and so enjoy the walk to work up an appetite.
If there are enough of you my advice is to secure a good table straight away and take it in turns to get food. When I was there in March there were coaches of tourists from China arriving regularly and the tables were snapped up quickly.
If the weather is bad there are a few tables inside but I personally love sitting in the sunshine, enjoying a long lunch and watching the activity in the harbour.
The market operates kind of like a food court where you buy from lots of different stalls, all with slightly different offerings.
On this trip I started with some fresh sashimi. The scallop sashimi was the best I have ever eaten.
It almost dissolved in my mouth.
The fresh sashimi is AMAZING and there are several stands where you can get your fresh fish cooked to order. Sadly we have never had the opportunity to buy the free fish and cook it ourselves... but if you are here on holiday and planning a road trip then I'd certainly suggest popping here before you leave and planning a way to have a fresh fish BBQ for dinner that evening. When we did a road trip several years ago we were surprised at how many small B&B type places we came across already had good BBQ's available for guests to use.
This was accompanied by some delicious oysters..... both natural and baked....enjoyed with a chilled sparkling wine. My friends ordered a selection of cooked squid and baked lobster, there was way too much food so we happily shared everything and had a thoroughly wonderful lunch.
Sydney Fish Market 1 Bank Street, Sydney NSW 2009, Australia +61 2 9004 1100 website
Located in an 'up and coming' part of town, Ester is not easy to find... even in a taxi with GPS..... but it is like an oasis. I am not entirely sure how I found Ester, but I'm so glad I did.
The atmosphere was a friendly, local vibe and I would guess that well over half the customers were locals/regulars. When we arrived we took the last table and within 15 minutes there was a queue of people outside. So my advice would be to definitely book in advance.
Despite being completely full and extremely busy service did not suffer at all and our waiter was speedy and attentive. The menu was quite simple and the plates are designed to be shared.
We ordered a selection of cuttlefish dumplings, Beef tartare, duck fat potatoes, brussel sprouts, octopus, duck and pistachio terrine, bone marrow and flank steak.
Everything was amazing. The dishes were not overly complicated so the flavours were able to come through. The octopus was so good I ordered a second dish. I'd love to be a spy in their kitchen and steal their secrets......
The waiter was very knowledgeable and able to answer all my questions easily and without making me feel like a complete twit because I didn't know what all the ingredients were.....
I still get updates on Twitter from them but sadly I have no idea when I will be able to go back... If you find yourself in Sydney, this is one to try.....
Ester, 46-52 Meagher St Chippendale, Sydney.
We caught a cab to St Kilda to meet with some friends at Café Di Stasio, as it is one of their favourite places to eat. It is definitely wise to get a reservation here, as you certainly don't want to make the trip and have to turn around if there is no availability..... We were there on a Friday night and it was full and they were turning away people who arrived without reservations...
There was a sign on the door as we entered saying that photography isn't allowed..... I chose to assume that it referred to people taking photographs from the door paparazzi style. Obviously I took photographs of my food, I'd paid for it, I can do what I want with it.... surely ?!
Well, no one stopped me.... so here are some photos of our food....
The quality of everything was excellent. My spaghetti vongole (one of my favourite pasta dishes) was full of flavour, the pasta was home made and cooked perfectly. Everyone else was equally impressed with their dishes.
Service was good and the restaurant had a nice atmosphere, although a little dark... maybe this helps with the no photographs policy??
We had a slight hiccup with my starter as the oysters were served raw when I had requested them to be baked. The baked oyster was their special....... so despite my love or raw oysters I did have to send these back to the kitchen. The waiter wasn't too pleased as he insisted I asked for them raw and didn't look too impressed when the whole table disagreed with him..... anyway, they were replaced and worth the extra wait.
We stayed quite late, I think we were the lat table out, but we still didn't feel rushed. Perhaps due to the huge amount of money we had spend on the food, wine and champagne.....
It was a lovely evening and I would definitely recommend a trip out to St Kilda If you are staying in Melbourne long enough to leave the city centre restaurants. Café Di Stasio has a much more local, friendly feel about it than some of the city places......
Café Di Stasio 31 Fitzroy Street St Kilda Melbourne +61 (3) 9525 3999 website
After an early lunch with some friends in Melbourne I had some free time in the afternoon. so following up on a friends suggestion I decided to go for tea and a cake at Brunetti's on Lygon Street.
It was a nice sunny day and not too hot so the walk helped work off some of the calories from lunch whilst also giving me a slight appetite for the delights to come.
Brunetti's is a family owned 'Roman Pasticceria' with several locations in Melbourne and even in Singapore. The selection of cakes, gelato and savouries is staggering. glass cabinets line one side of the cafe with an amazing display. The choice was amazing and a visual delight. There were rows and rows of celebration cakes, cannoli eclairs, macarons, gelato and biscuits. All tastes, ages and hunger levels were catered for.
There was even a good selection of mini treats for those like me who couldn't decide what they wanted.
I was at the Lygon Street location in the middle of the week, mid afternoon and there was a queue of at least 10 people before me. Service was quick, but these guys are hugely popular so Saturday lunch times may not be the best time for a visit.
My salted caramel eclair and my mini white chocolate and raspberry opera cake were divine and the range of flavours have inspired me to give eclairs a try at home.
Sadly there were not enough days left in my trip to visit again as I would love to try their gelato, but I guess I can wait until my next trip to Melbourne.
If you live in Melbourne I guess you have already heard of Brunetti's. If you are visiting, why not save some room after lunch or dinner and take a walk here for dessert.
Brunetti - 380 Lygon Street, Carlton VIC 3053, Australia +61 3 9347 2801 Website
Chiswick was recommended by a friend and numerous online 'Best Restaurant in Sydney' lists.
To be honest it was also one of the few restaurants open in Sydney on a Sunday evening. So we thought we would give it a try. We booked about 3 weeks in advance, which was probably necessary, as they were full.
In the Suburb of Woollahra its a short drive from the hotels in the CBD, but its definitely worth the cab fare.
We were seated promptly when we arrived and were quite amazed by quite how busy the restaurant was. There were a couple of birthday parties that contributed to a 'lively' atmosphere, but didn't really impact on our enjoyment.
There was a focus on local, fresh ingredients (they apparently have their own vegetable garden) and the menu had some great fish dishes, and of course amazing oysters. There were four of us for dinner and the menu had more than enough choices for us all to be very happy diners indeed... desserts were as good as they look in the photos.
All the staff were very friendly. Happy to explain the menu - even in detail, as always I had LOADS of questions.
Chiswick is worth the trip away from the main CBD in Sydney, just make sure you book in advance, especially on a Sunday.
Chiswick 65 Ocean Street Woollahra Sydney +61 28388 8688 website
'The Best Pizza in the world'..... well I have no idea how accurate that statement is but Johnny Di Francesco at 400 Gradi won the title in a global competition.
It was surprisingly easy to get a table at 400 Gradi. We were quite surprised. I thought it would be full with a waiting list down the street.... I guess the locals are used to them being here and we weren't in the middle of the tourist season...
We were seated promptly and the menu was explained. Surprise surprise, we all ordered pizza. The two guys I was with ordered starters, but I knew a pizza would be more than enough for me, and I wanted to have a dessert.
To be fair their pizzas are AMAZING but without having them side by side with all the other amazing pizzas though it is quite hard to decide if this is truly The Best Pizza in the World.... The base was very crispy - just like the Italian ones. If you are a fab of the doughy American style pizza's then these are quite different. The tomato sauce was tasty as was the prosciutto.
400 Gradi is definately worth a visit if you are visiting Melbourne, even if you live in Melbourne they are worth a visit across town. If you live in Melbourne and you haven't tried a pizza at the restaurant that holds the title for the Best Pizza in the World - what are you waiting for ??
400 Gradi 99 Lygon Street, East Brunswick, Melbourne. Tel +61 9380 2320 website
We walked by this restaurant when we were walking down the pier one morning and thought it looked nice and so after reading a few online reviews decided to give it a try.
As I now look at their website I see thy have won lots of awards, and quite rightly so, in my opinion.
There was a little wait for a table - I don't think they take reservations, so we waited at the bar and enjoyed a glass of wine. In about 30 mins we were sitting at our table and ready to order.
The restaurant was full, even mid week and off season. The atmosphere was buzzy and despite being full the noise level was still quite low.
Our waitress was very pleasant, explaining which things were home made, and how big the dishes would be etc. We decided on a platter of meats to share, which was quiet substantial, so I'm glad we didn't order more.
Service was excellent, relaxed but efficient. There were always people around to answer questions or bring more wine.
All the dishes we tried were cooked perfectly. The pasta was deliciously al dente and the sauces very tasty. We all thoroughly enjoyed our meal. They have daily specials alongside the daily menu, which in fairness offers enough choice for most people.
All the food was well presented and the portion size was good. Not so big that you feel wasteful when you can't eat everything, but enough that you are not hungry even if you don't order 3 courses.
Desserts, as you can see from the photos were a feast not only for the taste buds but also for the eyes.
Baduzzi is owned by the same people who own The Grove, and our experience there didn't even come close to experience we had at Baduzzi.
At The Grove the service was sloppy, superior and slow. It took ages to get a drink upon arrival and although we ordered the degustation menu with wine paring, the wines hardly ever arrived with the food..... maybe they need to switch some of the staff here to show them how good service can be achieved.....
Baduzzi 22 Jellicoe St, Auckland, New Zealand +64 9 3099339 Website
I had read so many things on the internet about how painful the process of applying for Swiss Citizenship could be, I know, I know, don't believe what you read on the Internet, but sometimes it is the only source of information. Anyway, those accounts of police turning up at 10pm to check if you really are married to who you say you are, and to question you about the number of cantons/lakes/political parties there are in CH, couldn't be further from the reality of my situation.
For me the whole process took under 6 months. Which is fairly speedy, according to what I have read about other peoples experience. And the criteria that you have to fulfill is quite vague in some areas.
I was however very organised and submitted everything that the Migration office could possibly ask for with the original application. We sent bank statements, marriage certificate, birth certificate and signed forms to give permission to view our police records and tax files.
One of the biggest areas people have problems with is proving strong ties to Switzerland. Also, these strong ties are dependent on what the person reviewing the application thinks 'strong ties' are.
I wrote a letter accompanying my application saying that although during our marriage we have lived mostly overseas we regularly visited family and friends in Switzerland they also came to visit us around the world. We joined the Swiss Association in Asia and the USA and attended events organised by them. I included about over 30 photos of my husband and I together at family parties in CH, family visiting us overseas and taking trips with us in Asia and the US and also photos at events such as Swiss Club Dragon Boat Race in Hong Kong, and Oktoberfest at the Swiss Club in Singapore. My husband also wrote a letter explaining that we were now settled in Switzerand and were planning to build our home here.
The interview process for me was a quick informal few questions about my work history and school qualifications. The rest was straightforward. This was because we know most of the people in our Geminde personally and socially. I see some of these people in the street, or in the local restaurant (where they have to suffer my painful German) so they know first hand that I am intergrating in the local community and working hard on being able to speak German. Our local Mayor even wrote a note on my application to say he knew us personally, we always see hm out and about in the local restaurants and bars.
Integrating in the local community is another vague area, in the application process. There isn't a clearly defined criteria or set of questions. Some people are asked about the political parties or asked to name the lakes to prove they 'know about' Switzerland, but in my experience, being an active part of the community and being a familiar face in the town made these questions unnecessary.
One of the other big questions that hangs over applicants for citizenship is 'is the marriage real?'. I have heard stories of police wanting to see the bedrooms of applicats to check if they sleep together, or turning up late at night to conduct the interview to make sure they live together. As there were a couple senior members of the local political party actually at our wedding and my husband went to school with a few people who work in the Geminde, there was no question that our marriage is real. We also asked the architect who is designing our house to be a sponsor on my citizenship application. He has witnessed my husband and I spend hours 'debating' every small detail involved in designing our home..... he can say with his hand on his heart that we are a 'real' marriage.
If we lived in the centre of Zurich or any other big city, then I'm sure the process wouldn't of been anywhere near this simple, I'm pretty sure we would of been asked to prove our marriage isn't a sham, would of been questioned about Swiss mountain ranges or historical figures, and probably given a much stricter test of my spoken German.
So for once I am glad we live in a quiet town where everybody knows exactly what you are up to......
The planning stage was the most important stage as this meant I could cook extra things in the weeks running up to the party and freeze them, and that meant that the day of the party everything was pretty relaxed and there was no rushing around....
The Menu was purely canapé sized so that there was little need for knives and forks eliminating all the washing up afterwards....
Beef Ragu in filo pastry baskets
Mini Quiche Lorraine in filo pastry baskets
Chicken Curry on popadoms
Chicken Caesar on endive leaves
Salami, dried German Ham and fresh bread
Mini Mille Feuille
Selection of French and Swiss Cheeses
nuts, mini pretzels and kettle chips.
This was a small party, only around 20 people, so there wasn't too much food to make.
I wanted the evening to be stress free so I could enjoy time with everyone but I didn't want to serve up frozen shop bought things.
Almost everything was made in advance. The Beef Ragu is something I make regularly and we have for dinner with fresh pasta. I made this a couple of weeks earlier but just made double the portion and froze a large Tupperware container. I did the same with the chicken curry.
The day before the party I brought the ragu, curry and macarons out of the freezer.
I made the Salmon Terrine which was easy. It is roasted salmon, creme cheese, butter and chives blended and then wrapped in smoked salmon. Here is a great Mary Berry recipe. I just didn't use the asparagus.
The Chicken Caesar was made the day before and a few hours before people arrived I simply spooned it onto endive leaves, grated parmesan over the top covered in them in cling film and left in them in the fridge.
Macarons had been made over the course of the last few weeks. I simply made double the mixture everytime and froze the shells and filling separately. When they came out of the freezer they just needed to be assembled.
The Mille Feuille were also made the day before as I only used Creme Patisserie and not fresh cream. They were the most time consuming of everything to make but they were a real hit and as I was going to be home preparing everything anyway, it didn't matter too much.
On the morning of the party all I had to do was to make some filo pastry baskets and deep fry the popadoms. The baskets were simply 3 small squares of filo layered with butter and shaped into mini muffin times with pie weights to weigh them down. Once cooked they could cool down and be put aside until needed.
I made the quiche filling and filled half of the baskets and left them until 15 mins before people were due to arrive. The house smelt delicious and the quiches were still warm when I served them.
I served the beef argue and chicken curry an hour apart at around 9pm and 10pm.
I heated the beef and chicken up spooned the ragu out into the baskets and chicken onto the popadoms and walked around the room a few times. They were eaten up very quickly, certainly way before they had time to cool down. It was nice to be able to serve some more food later on that was warm. Also, as people were drinking and started to get a little hungry I had something nice to tempt them with. The smell of the ragu and the curry heating up made everyone more hungry.
There was very little waste, and little food that was left over, mostly cheese and salami, we had for breakfast the next day. People stayed until 3am (unusual by Swiss standards) so I'm certain everyone enjoyed themselves. I'm already looking forward to the next time.....
I LOVE these pastries. Its hard to find a good one as I am a bit fussy about the filling and also the pastry has to be fresh enough that it crumbles and doesn't just flatten the filing when you try to break it.
I'd eaten a few recently and been disappointed and decided to give them a try. I was VERY pleased with he flavour and the flakiness of the pastry. The icing needs a bit of work, but hey, its a learning curve and I can't imagine there will be many complaints as family and friends are taste testing the 'experiments'. The first step is to make the pastry. You can buy the pastry, but I really don't like the strange 'lardy' after-taste that the pre-made pastries have, I guess they must use a cheap butter or butter alternative. Either way, it has an unpleasant taste so I made a Rough Puff Pastry. This is slightly quicker than a traditional Puff Pastry as it doesn't need to chill overnight.
In between the chilling and folding of the pastry I made the creme patisserie and kept it in a piping bag in the fridge until I needed it.
I whipped fresh cream and put this into a piping bag too.
When the pastry was chilled sufficiently I matched up the rectangles so they would make even sized pastries and lay them out in rows of threes.
I made my Mille Feuille with three layers of pastry, one layer of creme and one layer of Creme Patisserie. When I made mini versions of these for a party I just did 2 layers of pastry and a filling of Creme Patisserie. The choice is yours
Before assembling the Mille Feuille you need to ice the pastry that will be the top layer. This is simply a mixture of icing sugar mixed into a paste with a TINY bit of water.
This got a little messy as it was my first attempt, but once you lift the pastries from the baking tray they don't look too bad. When the icing sugar mix is thick enough that you can paint in on and it doesn't run you literally paint it over the pastry.
I dipped a cocktail stick into gel food colouring and dribbled its over the icing and swirled it a little to give the pink chaotic pattern I have here. I definitely need to work on this technique but it wasn't a bad first attempt.
The final stage is to pipe the creme patisserie onto one layer of pastry. Not too thick but it needs to be thick enough to give the pastries some height. Lay the second pastry on top and then repeat with the fresh creme.
I put the fresh cream as the top layer because it isn't as dense as the creme patisserie and I wasn't sure it would hold the weight of the other layers. Lastly, the pastry layer with the icing goes on top.
And there you go.
Now I admit, its not the quickest or easiest recipe to do, but its not a bad one if you are at home all day and are cooking other things at the same time. I made them on the same day as a batch of Macarons, using the left over egg yolks for the Creme Patisserie.
Even with my messy icing they were a HUGE hit. My father-in-law said they were better than Sprungli, and as compliments go - they don't come any bigger than that.
225g plain flour
half a tsp salt
200g chilled grated butter
180ml chilled water
juice from half a lemon.
Mix the flour and salt into a large bowl and add the butter. Mix the butter around with a large metal spoon to coat it in flour. Be careful to keep the butter in lumps. Most recipes just say to keep the butter in lumps or shreds when you add it as this helps to give the nice raise and flaky layers. I grated the butter because I wanted to control the amount of raise.
Mix the water and lemon juice together and slowly pour into the flour mixture.
Mix everything together using a metal knife. Use a chopping action to kind of chop the butter into the flour until it looks like a dough.
It will still be quite wet.
Tip it out onto a floured surface and work it into a rectangle shape. I rolled it out slightly and then folded the bottom third into the middle and the top third down over that so it is three layers.
Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 10-15mins.
When chilled, remove from the fridge and with the folded edges to the sides roll the pastry out into a rectangle again. The same size as before. Again fold the bottom third into the middle and the top third over. Wrap it again and chill for 30mins. Repeat this step twice more. After the last rolling leave the pastry to chill for 2 hours.
When chilled remove and quickly roll out into a long rectangle shape about half a cm in thickness, try not to handle the pastry too much as this will make it warm and the butter will melt.
Lay the pastry on a tray and chill again for maybe 10-15 mins.
I made a stencil for the size of the Mile Feuille using baking paper. I lay this over the chilled pastry and used a pizza cutter to cut out the rectangle shapes I needed.
Carefully place the rectangles on a baking sheet lined with paper with a few cm between them.
Lie a piece of making paper over them and lie another baking tray on top to weigh them down.
You want to get a little rise but no too much. I have seen recipes where they suggest to prick the surface for the pastry all over with a fork.... laying a baking tray over the top worked for me, so I'm sticking with it !!
Bake these in the oven for about 10 mins at 200 degrees. remove the baking tray and paper from the top and put them back in the oven for another 5-10 mins until golden brown. Bring them out and let them cool on a wire rack.
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