• The restaurant business is a tough one, so to have survived 10 years in the industry means Mecca Bah has either had an incredible long stretch of good luck or they have got something right in this cutthroat business.

    Happy 10th birthday, Mecca Bah!

    The restaurant business is a tough one, so to have survived 10 years in the industry means Mecca Bah has either had an incredible long stretch of good luck or they have got something right in this cutthroat business.

  • The Barracks' Dinner Under the Stars event featured four of the Barracks' best restaurants, Cabiria, Peasant, Libertine and The Chelsea Bistro. We were spoilt by the  eight course tasting menu with modern French, rustic Spanish and French-Vietnamese food.

    Good Food Month: Dinner Under The Stars

    The Barracks’ Dinner Under the Stars event featured four of the Barracks’ best restaurants, Cabiria, Peasant, Libertine and The Chelsea Bistro. We were spoilt by the eight course tasting menu with modern French, rustic Spanish and French-Vietnamese food.

  • The SO and I do not like dining in hotels, but the skies finally opened on Sunday evening and we were stuck in our hotel room. Neither of us was motivated to brave the weather, so instead we headed to the Intermezzo Italian Restaurant at the Westin Sydney lobby for dinner.

    Sydney: Intermezzo Italian Restaurant

    The SO and I do not like dining in hotels, but the skies finally opened on Sunday evening and we were stuck in our hotel room. Neither of us was motivated to brave the weather, so instead we headed to the Intermezzo Italian Restaurant at the Westin Sydney lobby for dinner.

  • With not much planned before our evening flight back to Brisbane, the SO and I were going to wander around the city for a bit of last minute shopping and needed some breakfast to set the foundation of the day. We ended up at Jones the Grocer in Westfield Sydney for a caffeine hit (meh) and were one of the first through the day at opening.

    Sydney: Breakfast at Jones the Grocer

    With not much planned before our evening flight back to Brisbane, the SO and I were going to wander around the city for a bit of last minute shopping and needed some breakfast to set the foundation of the day. We ended up at Jones the Grocer in Westfield Sydney for a caffeine hit (meh) and were one of the first through the day at opening.

  • What I find particularly poetic about Alfred Street's latest addition, gin bar Dutch Courage Officers' Mess is that owner Matthew Hilan was a former Air Combat Officer in the RAAF. Unfortunately I didn't get to taste any of the cocktails (crazy launch party!), but on the food front, I think Dutch Courage has some menu items worthy of your salivation.

    Dutch Courage Officers’ Mess – a look into their menu

    What I find particularly poetic about Alfred Street’s latest addition, gin bar Dutch Courage Officers’ Mess is that owner Matthew Hilan was a former Air Combat Officer in the RAAF. Unfortunately I didn’t get to taste any of the cocktails (crazy launch party!), but on the food front, I think Dutch Courage has some menu items worthy of your salivation.

  • Alfred and Constance launched their winter menu blending heartier winter dishes with the best of local and seasonal produce, straight from the wood-fired oven, so here’s a sneaky peek at what we tried.

    Alfred & Constance New Winter 2014 menu

    Alfred and Constance launched their winter menu blending heartier winter dishes with the best of local and seasonal produce, straight from the wood-fired oven, so here’s a sneaky peek at what we tried.

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4

Will I ever be ok again?

If I thought opening up about cancer was hard, Life has a funny way of proving me wrong. I have been and am heartsick for the past year.

The SO and I have been on a very long journey to start our family. We have always talked about wanting children of our own – we’ve even argued about silly hypotheticals, such as whether same sex or co-ed schools would be better for our future children and how much pocket money is ‘reasonable’.

But the truth of the matter is we currently don’t have any children. We came very close – late July last year, I fell pregnant. For two weeks, we were elated and excited that this part of life’s journey was finally happening for us. Then at our first scan, we discovered something was terribly wrong and after several weeks of checks, tests and scans – and a lot of hoping, we had no other choice but to undergo a D&C. Tests later revealed our little one – a boy – had trisomy 16 – a common chromosome defect responsible for early miscarriages. He wouldn’t have made it past the first trimester, much less to term.

I remember waking up from the procedure and all I could do was cry. The nurses gave me water and the doctor came to pat me on the shoulder, but I couldn’t stop. I barely managed a nod when one of the nurses gently asked if I’d like to have the SO come in to sit with me (ordinarily visitors are not allowed in recovery).

Since then, my heart has been broken and my mind has been full of what-ifs. What if our first had been normal? He would be here now, born around the same time as the babies of several bloggers I know. The SO and I would already be calling ourselves parents.

And yes, there are moments I feel so much anger. At myself. At us. At women who care nothing for their children. At people who tell me to ‘relax, it’ll happen if you just drink a glass of wine’. At people who ask me why I even want to have children in the first place.

I obviously haven’t learnt to move on yet, and I wonder if I ever will.

1

Happy 10th birthday, Mecca Bah!

Disclaimer: The SO and I attended Mecca Bah‘s 10th birthday celebrations  as invited guests (free of charge) of Mecca Bah. My comments are a reflection of my experience, which may have been non-standard, but remain completely honest and my own.

The restaurant business is a tough one, so to have survived 10 years in the industry means Mecca Bah has either had an incredible long stretch of good luck or they have got something right in this cutthroat business. What better way to mark the occasion with great food (and even more amazing desserts – Chocolate and Turkish Delight brownies, I’m looking at you), some flashy exotic belly dancing and a touch of magic?

Mecca Bah 10th anniversary party

Mecca Bah 10th anniversary party

Mecca Bah 10th anniversary party

Mecca Bah 10th anniversary party

Mecca Bah 10th anniversary party

Mecca Bah 10th anniversary party

Hummus

Mecca Bah 10th anniversary party

Trio of dips with bread

Mecca Bah 10th anniversary party

Spicy lamb and pinenut boureks

Mecca Bah 10th anniversary party

Falafel

Mecca Bah 10th anniversary party

Chicken skewers

Mecca Bah 10th anniversary party

Barramundi wrapped in vine leaves

Mecca Bah 10th anniversary party

Lebanese lady fingers

Mecca Bah 10th anniversary party

Chocolate and Turkish Delight brownies

Mecca Bah 10th anniversary party

Mecca Bah Ice-creams

Mecca Bah on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer: The SO and I attended Mecca Bah‘s 10th birthday celebrations  as invited guests (free of charge) of Mecca Bah. My comments are a reflection of my experience, which may have been non-standard, but remain completely honest and my own.

1

Sydney: Eveleigh Markets

Eveleigh Market, Sydney

I cyberstalk Kylie Kwong’s Instagram and I’m not afraid to admit it, because when you’re a foodie, you CHOOSE to torture yourself by surrounding yourself with other food lovers who overshare their gastronomy exploits. There isn’t a waking moment when you’re not filled with food envy.

Go on. Admit it. You’re as sadistic as I am.

So after months of drooling over weekly Instagram photos of Kyllie Kwong’s baos and dumplings at her Eveleigh Market stall, I plotted to finally get there during our Sydney weekend. I forced the SO to get up early on Saturday and caught a cab to Eveleigh, following the locals trailing wheelie grocery bags to this city farmers’ market.

Eveleigh Market, Sydney

Over 70 stalls were neatly laid out with plenty of aisle space in what looks like a converted old warehouse in the Carriageworks cultural precinct. Everywhere we turned, there was richly coloured seasonal produce piled like pyramids alongside golden jars of local honey and jewelled fruit. Our noses led us to spitting sausages, freshly baked breads and pungent cheeses.

Eveleigh Market, Sydney

Eveleigh Market, Sydney

Eveleigh Market, Sydney

Eveleigh Market, Sydney

But I was on a mission to shut my growling tummy up with breakfast and Kylie Kwong’s baos were on my hit list. I picked up one pork bun with chilli sauce and another with Davidson plum, which the SO and I shared. The baos were steamed in batches, so service was very quick. Each bao took up its own takeaway container and rather than the sweet barbeque style pork one might be more familiar with baos, Kylie’s version is much more porky with that distinctive earthiness you get with unspiced but not heavily salted cooked pork. Some might find that a bit offensive to the nose, but I found it acceptable.

As a bit of a traditionalist with my Asian food, I preferred the pork bun with the chilli sauce. The Davidson plum was surprisingly not as sour as I would normally expect from the fruit, but we certainly weren’t very keen on this version as the chilli.

Eveleigh Market, Sydney

Other things that drew our eye were the breakfast muffins, pho and the sausages from Eumundi Smokehouse. Oh, and the variety of fresh cut flowers that carpeted the dull concrete floor were stunning!

Eveleigh Market, Sydney

Eveleigh Market, Sydney

Eveleigh Market, Sydney

3

Good Food Month: Dinner Under The Stars

Disclaimer: I attended the Dinner Under The Stars Good Food Month event at the Barracks as an invited guest (free of charge) of The Barracks and KDPR. My comments are a reflection of my experience, which may have been non-standard, but remain completely honest and my own.

Good Food Month: Dinner Under The Stars at the Barracks

Have you attended or been checking out Brisbane’s Good Food Month program? While it’s utterly fantastic that some events are selling out and the series of events have kicked off, it means you had better hurry if you have an eye on attending one of Australia’s largest food festival activities.

I was invited to The Barracks‘ Dinner Under the Stars, which featured four of the Barracks’ best restaurants, Cabiria, Peasant, Libertine and The Chelsea Bistro. We were spoilt by the  eight course tasting menu with modern French, rustic Spanish and French-Vietnamese food, with beverages from Stewarts Wine Co., desserts from Mövenpick, and Mayfield Chocolates’ local handcrafted chocolates.

Good Food Month: Dinner Under The Stars

Guests came together at one long table, running along Barracks Lane with giant green chandeliers of Magnolia, Asparagus Fern, and groupings of fragrant herbs including mint, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme and sage suspended overhead. And to complement them, shrubbery were bursting with thick bundles of fresh produce, such as asparagus, fennel bulbs, artichokes, carrots and pumpkin. The atmosphere definitely had a Willy Wonka-esque vibe that was perfect with the thankfully mild winter evening.

Good Food Month: Dinner Under The Stars

Good Food Month: Dinner Under The Stars

My favorite dishes of the  The Barracks‘ Dinner Under the Star were The Chelsea Bistro‘s chevre and tarragon croquettes (but if you’re not a goat’s cheese fan, Cabiria‘s potato and sesame cone filled with salmon tarte was a very close second), and The Chelsea Bistro‘s honey-braised pork belly with roast celeriac, watercress and crackling.

Peasant‘s Catalan style paella deserves a very honorable mention, because it was cooked in front of the table and anyone who can deliver a dish that normally requires so much patience under the watchful gaze of hungry diners deserves a doff of the hat.

Good Food Month: Dinner Under The Stars at the Barracks

Chevre and tarragon croquettes, tomato relish by the Chelsea

Good Food Month: Dinner Under The Stars at the Barracks

Peanut chicken Vietnamese rice paper rolls with mint yoghurt chutney by Libertine

Good Food Month: Dinner Under The Stars at the Barracks

Potato and sesame cone filled with salmon tarte by Cabiria

Good Food Month: Dinner Under The Stars at the Barracks

Spanish charcuterie selection board with housemade bread by Peasant

Good Food Month: Dinner Under The Stars at the Barracks

Mushroom dumplings with chilli infused soy sauce by Libertine

Good Food Month: Dinner Under The Stars at the Barracks

Stuffed squid with Morcilla and prawns, garnished with black squid ink by Peasant

Good Food Month: Dinner Under The Stars at the Barracks

Honey-braised pork belly, roast celeriac, watercress, crackling by The Chelsea

Good Food Month: Dinner Under The Stars at the Barracks

Coq au vin red wine braised chicken with pork floss and Vietnamese sauce verte by Libertine

Good Food Month: Dinner Under The Stars at the Barracks

Applewood smoked lamb shoulder with autumn vegetable fricassee and charred tongue by Cabiria

Good Food Month: Dinner Under The Stars

Good Food Month: Dinner Under The Stars at the Barracks

Catalan style paella by Peasant

Good Food Month: Dinner Under The Stars at the Barracks

Creme brulee ice-cream by Movenpick

The Chelsea Bistro on Urbanspoon Libertine on Urbanspoon
Cabiria Luncheonette and Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon Peasant on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer: I attended the Dinner Under The Stars Good Food Month event at the Barracks as an invited guest (free of charge) of The Barracks and KDPR. My comments are a reflection of my experience, which may have been non-standard, but remain completely honest and my own.

1

Sydney: Intermezzo Italian Restaurant

Please allow me to preface this with the fact that neither the SO nor I like dining in hotels. Many hotel restaurants are disappointing (how many times have you had a bland hotel buffet breakfast of limp bacon, watered down scrambled eggs and ho-hum sausages?) and quite frankly, the element of exploration makes for a much more enjoyable experience when you’re in a different city than dining right where you’d be spending the night.

In saying that, the Queen’s birthday long weekend’s doom and gloom weather forecast seemed to have been hogwash, but the skies finally opened on Sunday evening and we were stuck in our hotel room. Neither of us was motivated to brave the weather, so instead we headed to the Intermezzo Italian Restaurant at the Westin Sydney lobby for dinner.

Both the Westin and Intermezzo Italian Restaurant are located in the historic General Post Office (GPO) building right in the heart of Sydney’s CBD. You can hardly miss it for its imposing sandstone work of large archways and carvings. The original courtyard was converted into an atrium, where part of the Intermezzo Italian Restaurant’s dining area is situated. In fact, the restaurant’s dining area is divided into three distinct areas: the atrium, the ‘restaurant’ and the pavement facing Martin Place.

Intermezzo Italian Restaurant, Sydney

Sicilian green olives, diced marinated roma tomatoes with fresh herbs, extra virgin olive oil and sourdough. AUD$9.50

Intermezzo Italian Restaurant, Sydney

Calamari Fritti alla Napoletana. Crispy Hawkesbury River calamari rings with lemon and chilli oil. AUD$19

Intermezzo Italian Restaurant, Sydney

Pesce con Gamberi. Crispy skin snapper served with king prawns, artichokes, cherry tomatoes and black olives in a saffron sauce. AUD$34

Intermezzo Italian Restaurant, Sydney

Linguine Sampi. Linguine with Western Australian scampi, fresh vine ripened cherry tomatoes and chilli. AUD$39

Intermezzo Italian Restaurant, Sydney

Sauteed broccolini with lemon, almonds and chilli. AUD$9.50

Intermezzo Italian Restaurant, Sydney

Roasted rosemary potatoes with Sicilian sea salt. AUD$9.50

Two dishes stood out for us: Calamari Fritti alla Napoletana and Pesce con Gamberi. The batter coating the calamari was very light and almost tempura-like. I love a good batter that doesn’t overwhelm its host, especially when it had to be dipped into something as delicate as the chilli oil. We adored that chilli oil – it certainly had the strong flavour profile of chilli in there, but lacked the heat.

The Pesce con Gamberi was fantastic because of the crispy skin snapper. Many restaurants who have offered crispy skin fish deliver lack lustre fish, but in this case, they delivered a piece of fish with an amazingly crisp skin that rivals a good pork crackling for flavour and crunch. So while almost every review I read about Intermezzo Italian Restaurant mentions their linguine scampi (I wasn’t about to leave without having a taste of my own), my vote goes to the fish instead.

Intermezzo Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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