Saturday, May 31, 2008

Beetles on Darling Harbour

Parents arrived last week and it was pretty busy preparing the house for visitors and then having them stay and then also going to Sydney with them for a long weekend while at the same time attending a dental symposium at Sydney's Darling Harbour.

On the first day they drove here from Sydney, they bought quite a spread from the Sydney fish markets. I just stir fried some veggies (cabbage, long beans,capsicum) in sambal chilli and used my pressure cooker to make a ginseng chicken soup in 30 minutes. They bought 4 half lobster mornay (only $12.50 each) some battered soft shell crab, seafood cakes, battered barramundi, and assorted chinese roast meats, namely duck, suckling piglet and roast pork.

Here are some pictures of Darling harbour I took while at the Convention Centre for my symposium.

Managed to coincide on the Saturday with the celebration of the 70th birthday of the Volkswagen Beetle.

Aeriel shot from the second floor where our convention was...

Being beetles, the engine is the back.
Original "breadbox" all surf and camping ready...
Trunk in the front.

Haha this ibis was found wandering the foodcourt in search of food scraps.

Night shots with my new Panasonic tz3. At times like these, really do miss Sydney and I think it has one of the prettiest harbours in the world.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Lebanese sweets!

A recent flying trip to sydney to celebrate Mothers' Day with Richard's mum in Sydney only meant one thing ... food! Err I mean quality time with the in-laws *whistle*. We took MIL out to a thai restaurant near their home (they dislike venturing further than 2 suburbs away) for a Mothers day lunch. I was too embarrassed to snap photos but it was quite a nice place and we will probably be back.

On Saturday night, we had dinner on the way down (post to come soon). But on the way home on Sunday, I suggested to Richard that we try a lebanese sweet shop I had read about in the Good Living Eating section of Tuesdays' Sydney Morning Herald. You can read the review here.

When you first enter, the sights and smells and decor really tantaslise your senses. There is very modern decor and large glass showcases of lebanese sweets to your right. It also includes a smaller section of western type cakes, petit fours and some gelato. There is an area with lounges and a TV as well which looks pretty relaxing.

We got pretty overstimulated and must have looked like deer in headlights. A waitress soon asked if we needed help and motioned for us to sit down. We didn't recognise anything on the menu but were keen to try anything new. However, we must have had to wait another full ten minutes before she came back as she got distracted by people visiting. There was only one other table of people in the cafe! We were about to stand up and leave when a guy quickly apologised and asked her to come and take our order. I must say that she was quite patient and helpful after this point.

I ordered two smaller things, one of which was this semolina based biscuit filled with a walnut and almond paste. This was extremely morish. It was chewy yet crunchy and the nut paste wasn't too sweet.

My other order was the ladies finger/arm (Zroud el sit). It is a filo pastry filled with halawet or stretched curd cheese and topped with ashta (they spelled it kashta on the menu), the marshmallowy sweet heavy cream found in many lebanese desserts.

Here is a pic of the inside ....

I would definitely have this again. The tissue thin filo was crisp yet tasty complimenting the slight saltiness of the cheese and the sweetness of the ashta. There was a squeese bottle of rose water syrup on the table for those who like it done traditionally doused with the syrup. I just put a little bit on.

Richard ordered this as he thought it was interesting looking. We forgot what it was called. It was a pisachio overload (whos complaining?) with pistachios sandwiched between semolina and topped with loads of ashta which is topped with fresh pistachios. I personally find there is something in ashta that tastes a bit strange to me so I can only have a little of it at a time. Richard seemed to really like it and he finished the whole square which was larger than our digital camera.

My order of lebanese coffee .... I had it black and it came with authentic sludge down the bottom.

We were so impressed with what we had that of course we had to have take away. These shortbread type biscuits known as mammoul(cookies for any Yankee readers) were filled with date pastes or nut pastes and yes 5 days later they are definitely all gone. A real bargain at $22/kg these 4 biscuits were only about $3. A bite of these sent me to heaven ... smooth date pastes inside crumbly tasty nutty shortbread.

We are still working our way through these baklava. All are extremely fresh with just the right amount of butter and syrup in the pastries. Extremely reasonable, all of this including the takeaways and a cappuccino that Richard had which wasn't pictured .... $26.50 ! We are already planning our return.

El Sweetie
73-75 South Street, Granville, 9760 2299 Mon-Thu and Sun 7am-midnight, Fri-Sat 7-1am

P/S for all fans of lebanese food, I found a fantastic site with recipes! It is aptly titled an Introduction to lebanese cuisine

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Hubby's birthday celebration @ the Treehouse Restaurant.

Its late but this was Hubby's birthday "cake" bought from la cachette (270 Mitchell Rd Alexandria) in Sydney. Unfortunately I had to be away most of the day to learn from and observe an IV specialist dentist in Sydney but I made it home with takeaway and this yummy berry tart. Also including pics from our dinner which I will elaborate on soon.

This tart was extremely morish with a nice buttery shortcrust pastry, chockful of berries and a nice almond filling which wasn't too sweet and complimented the berries nicely. The cafe deserves another visit as it had lots of interesting cakes, tarts and gourmet deli meals such as fritatas, savoury pies and rolls.

Anyway, this restaurant, The Treehouse used to be in a different location, slightly out of town. We went there for the first time a few days after moving to Bathurst in 2006. Hubby thought it was a cafe since a flyer advertising lunch and dinners had been stuck to his windscreen at school. So, we went in our sunday best ... NOT! He was in his paint smeared old working jeans and t-shirt with holes in it and I was in my largest most comfortable tracksuit.

We were greeted with a smile by the waitress and seated off to the side in a front room. It was when we opened the menus and saw that the entrees were about $16, mains $29 and desserts $12 that we realised it was a classy modern Australian restaurant by night! It was like the movies when the world comes tumbling in and you feel like the walls are narrowing and wish the ground would swallow you up. We looked around and saw everyone was in evening attire with dresses and shirts and ties. It was too late to walk out then! We ordered two main courses which we loved and have been back on a regular basis since.

The maitre d' Dannii whom we later found out was her name always has a friendly smile for us and we have gotten to know the chef Michael who is from Eastern Europe. He mostly comes out from the kitchen for a chat to us. He knows that this is my favourite dish. I always order it .... the Treehouse antipasto platter as a starter $16.
For the person who can't make up her mind ... a little bit of everything - a sample of some of the other entrees. It changes a little everytime. Today it has (clockwise) olives in the small pot, pork terrine with chutney, a mound of smoke eggplant, smoked salmon terrine served with beetroot relish, roasted cherry tomatoes, a bit of fresh tabouli and on top a small mound of salad with balsamic dressing and proscuitto wrapped around asparagus. It is served with some char-grilled turkish bread.

My DH had the eggplant wrapped around cous cous with ricotta baked parcel. It is served with a tasty tomato reduction and balsamic dressing.
Richard's main $29... the roast duck with walnut and mushroom tart. It is served with sauteed spinach. A firm favourite of ours, the duck is always tasty and the sauce is a duck jus with a hint of walnuts. The tart itself is superb with melt in the mouth puff pastry, the mushrooms and walnut melding together, each having absorbed the other's flavours.
My main- the basil mousse stuffed chicken breast served with lentils. Sadly the chicken breast was a little dry and the mousse although tasty was also on the dry side and more like a stuffing than a mousse. The lentils I could have had double serving of and left the chicken alone! It was melt in the mouth and buttery with rich tomato flavours. It was also served with sauteed spinach.
We were much too full for dessert. We found what works for us is to share a starter, each have a main course and share a dessert but we each had a starter today, hence we just had coffees after. I ordered an irish coffee and Richard a cappuccino. We got them complimentary because they had no cream for the irish coffee and hence made it just putting some froth on top. Dannii knew we wouldn't mind ....

after all ... we did first start our custom on a very casual note! :)

The Treehouse Restaurant
Dinner Mon- Sat
Country Comfort Bathurst
Cnr Brilliant and Stewart St Bathurst
(02) 6331 1800

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