Monday, September 22, 2008

Lebanese Sweets 2.0 !

On a roll after my last encounter with a lebanese dessert shop, I decided I had to visit another. The Good Living Guide had a brief review about a new lebanese sweet shop that had opened in Parramatta, Sydney. This is a branch of a chain in lebanon called Sea Sweet.

The cafe was modern and clean. We arrived just before 6 pm and thus was not a popular time for desserts or coffees but it was good as it meant we were served promptly. People wandered in to check out the lebanese sweets on offer in the glass showcases to the left. Like El Sweetie, Sea Sweet also catered for Aussie tastes with many different western cakes and pastries on offer as well.

However, I was there to quench my curiosity to try new things. We studied the middle eastern dessert menu for a while. (click on it for a bigger version)

The fruit cocktail is a signature dish of theirs, supposedly with a sweetened pureed avacado base, fresh fruits and topped with kashta and nuts. However, we decided to leave that for another time. Richard went for the Kashta Mix.

This was 5 pieces of assorted pastries made on kashta, a clotted cream sweet cheese. The kashta here was very different to the one we had at El Sweetie! It was more savoury and had a texture less like whipped marshmallow and more like cottage cheese. I really liked this version much better. It went so well with the assorted crispy and flaky pastry laced with rose syrup. There was a little dish of additional syrup to pour if neccessary, however I found them perfect the way they were. The kashta found in each pastry was slightly different too, laced with different nuts.

I went for Knefe -Cheese. The waitress asked if I wanted the bun filled or unfilled. I said that I had never tried it before and so I wasn't sure. She was surprised that I was trying this and commented on my bravery. She then suggested she put the bun on the side but when she served it she gave instructions to open the bun, scoop all the mixture in, pour over syrup and press down and enjoy.

I decided to try the Knefe au naturale first before trying it with their "signature bun".

Action shot of the stretchy cheese.

Wow! One bite of this stuff and I was in heaven. Because we arrived on 6 pm (if you read the menu, it is only available at certain times and in the evening only after 6 pm) The kenefe was freshly made. It was a stretchy mozarella type slightly sweet cheese sandwiched between layers of sweet buttery, crunchy semolina. The cheese was slightly chewy yet melted in the mouth. It did not have a chees-ey type flavour at all and neither was it oily. It was extremely tasty and I remember the pillowy texture more than anything else *sigh*.

I ate some of it on half the bun and finished all the knefe but left the other half a bun. Richard had 4 pieces of his and left the large triangular piece. The waitress congratulated us on our effort. We took the last piece away as well as bought some of the baklava and other assorted lebanese pastries. The take away container was really cool. It had the company logo embossed in it and was the quality of a tupperware type container!

My long black (average) which came with one of their petit fours (nice and light).

While we were deciding which ones to get, the guy behind the counter gave us a few sample pieces to try! We were just about exploding at this point so I had to nibble on mine and put the rest away in the take away container. Our take away selection of sweets which we have started sampling.

The filo here is much more buttery and light than at El Sweetie, almost too? flaky for me. I also found the semolina in the Namoura not as crunchy and a bit too sweet. The nut ratio in the sweets is a bit higher though and the pistachios are chunkier within the pastries themselves.

Personally, the eat in desserts here win hands down. The service was much better with really friendly staff. However, I tend to like the pastries themselves at El Sweetie better. Price wise, both places are a great bargain. Our total including a Diet coke for Richard and the take away came to $33.50. We didn't even need to have dinner after that. Having a whole dessert for dinner was a first for me. I have to say I quite like the idea and would be open to doing it again!

Sea Sweet Australia
354-356 Church St Parramatta
1300 90 80 70

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Having a whale of a time

Pardon the pun ... this post is about 3 months old but it has been sitting at the back of my mind for a while now as it was quite a memorable event. It will be the last in the sequence of our weekend away to the south coast during the Queens Birthday long weekend in June. We made our way to the town of Huskisson which was about half an hours drive south of Gerringong. It turned out to be a really touristy type of town with your ubiquitous ice cream store, numerous take away shops touting the usual Aussie fast food such as fish and chips, hamburgers, roast chicken, tired salads etc. However, we were there just to check out some whale action! So after booking ourselves on a 3 hour cruise, we decided to get some lunch before the tour started. We knew we didn't feel like fast food so we decided on one of the two cafes. This one, names Supply was also moonlighting as a deli and corner store with some tired looking, expensive fruit and vegetables. Also some "gourmet" type cookies, condiments and candy. I had a pumpkin, goats cheese and baby spinach salad.

At $12.50 it was passable... tasty, a bit greasy but on the smaller side. It was a blessing in disguise. Richard's burger, also $12.50 This was pretty good! I think he got the better deal. It was on toasted Turkish bread, with char grilled veggies, onion jam, bacon, a thick burger patty and of course being Aussie ... beetroot! After lunch, we walked Magic at the off leash area before finding him some undercover parking to snooze in the car whilst we went off. Our vessel to bringeth us whaling whale watching A picture taken from the top tier of the boat of the shore opposite the departure point. Quite pretty ... We chanced upon the resident dolphins within the bay and the skipper gave us a bit of a commentary about them. They were really cute and swam alongside the boat for a bit.

This is called point perpendicular. It formed one of the sides of the "gateway" separating Jervis Bay from the big bad ocean.

However, in order to spot whales, one had to travel out to the ocean .. hence we became whale paparazzi. The boat was literally tailing these whales, getting as close as was legal to them so we could get a good glimpse of these beautiful creatures. We only spotted "teenage" type whales though and they were extremely hard to see against the gray sea. I guess camouflage is good. You only knew they were there from the occasional sea spray from their spouts.

The sea was mighty choppy out in the open ocean. The smiling staff handed out hospital type seasick bags efficiently as soon as we were past the headlands. They were pretty used to it and the rocking didn't seem to bother them. Unfortunately, it bothered about a quarter of us. Richard succumbed to it first, followed by myself. And as I mentioned before, I was glad My lunch was half the size of his because, with the hospital style sick bags (complete with twist lock) you could see exactly what volume of stomach contents had been expelled! FYI Richards was an impressive 1 L (4 quarts!) and mine was 500ml. We returned to shore after three hours feeling pretty weary. If it was any consolation, the skipper mentioned cheerily that we did much better than the morning tour group!

Shop 1 54 Owen St
Huskisson 2540 NSW
Phone: (02) 4441 5815

Jervis Bay Whales
50 Owen St
Huskisson 2540
Phone (02) 4441 6341

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