Daffy, Donald and Plucka are the names of famous ducks. But another one set to join their ranks is a little restaurant in Sydney called Holy Duck! It’s a casual eatery that’s been dubbed the younger, funkier brother of Chefs Gallery. It’s also another addition to the Sydney food trend for casual spin-offs of famous restaurants (see: Fratelli Famous, The Bavarian and Margherita & Co., to name a few.) Holy Duck! promises a relaxed, friendly atmosphere as well as great-quality food and drinks.



Holy Duck! is the latest eatery to be conceived by Kaisern Ching, the man who brought us Chefs Gallery and Din Tai Fung. The duck menu items have always been popular ones at Chefs Gallery and Ching wanted a place where the delectable treat known as duck could be celebrated with a tasty fusion menu. Ching also wanted to turn the notion of eating duck on its head so that purists could enjoy it in the traditional way (in a roast, Peking-style and in pancakes) as well as with newer creative spins like in burgers and with different sauces and flavours.


Holy Duck! is located in the recently revamped Kensington Street precinct in Chippendale. This is a bright restaurant with friendly staff. It has a cool, modern look with an industrial-feel and minimalist furniture. It’s a place where a diner could order take-away or sit and tuck into some tasty, street-style food. This is a place where you can sit and chat as a group or eat some quick things on the run with your hands because it caters to these different possibilities.


The menu includes house specialities like roast duck. The crispy duck comes served with a delectable orange hoisin sauce as well cucumber and spring onions in quarter, half or whole sizes. This same flavour combination is found on the scrumptious What the Duck! burger. This comes with a brioche bun that is easily one of the tastiest burgers in Sydney (and it faces some stiff competition with the number of burger joints that have opened here of late). The best accompaniment to the burger is the moreish shoestring fries with duck salt that are incredibly tasty, as are the lotus root chips.

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For those diners that don’t want duck there are other burger varieties including crispy chicken, a caramelised sweet and sticky barbeque pork and a five-spice chickpea vegetable patty burger. The restaurant also sell roast and barbeque rice bowls that will impress discerning pork belly lovers (there are three different varieties) or alternatively there are roast duck and crispy fried shantung chicken options.


Don’t be fooled by the name, Holy Duck! has a little something for everyone on its tasty menu. This new addition to the Sydney food scene looks poised to follow Ching’s other ventures in that it challenges your notion of Chinese food by fusing together modern techniques and concepts to make succulent roast and barbequed recipes and flavours. Holy Duck! offers simply the best of different camps as it combines an East-meets-West, street food via casual eats vibe, and offers something fresh and contemporary where a holy and humble little duckling can star and dance the funky chicken. Just kidding!


Images supplied and used with permission.


Originally published in January 2017 at the following website:

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Sydney’s Shangri-La Hotel. Executive Pastry Chef, Anna Polyviou and her team of elves have outdone themselves this year with a life-sized gingerbread house full of lolly decorations on display, as well as a Christmas-themed carousel. The introduction of these annual decorations have transformed the atmosphere in the hotel’s famously lavish lobby, so it’s only right that they offer a few yuletide specials to celebrate.

For those not already aware, you might remember Polyviou from her appearances on MasterChef Australia and her decadent, Anna’s Mess dessert. Polyviou is like a rock-star chef but she’s also one who is fond of the traditional gingerbread house. The Shangri-La Hotel’s lobby has been home to a large gingerbread house for the past few Christmases but this year Polyviou and her team have taken things to a whole new level. The delectable Christmas offering also boasts a gorgeous carousel of horses to rival that magical scene in Mary Poppins and it’s also one that will make you wish you could hop on board and ride along yourself.


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These life-size pieces of gingerbread finery took no less than 32 people working together around the clock in order to fashion and execute. The individuals included Polyviou’s team of pastry chefs as well as 20 members of the Australian Cake Decorating Network. Gingerbread houses are not always easy for people to put together so it’s a structural wonder to see this staggering house and carousel made of 2000kg of gingerbread bricks, 800kg of lollies, 100kg of fondant, 200 lollipops and oodles of icing. The whole thing makes you want to scream, “Oh my!”

Polyviou remembers her childhood fondly. She recalls the thrill and enjoyment she had when buying and eating lollies from the local milk bars and tuck shops as a kid. This Christmas display is a celebration of all those fun days from your childhood. Polyviou says, “I love that people think we’re crazy with creations like this, and I love that adults often get more excited than the kids once they see it.”




For those individuals wanting to take home a little piece of this merriment, the hotel have a number of wonderful festive treats for sale. These include: gingerbread lollybag houses ($55), a family of ginger ninjas (aka a 4 pack of gingerbread men for $9.50), white Christmas nougat ($5.50), fruit mince star tarts ($12 for 6 pies), Christmas pudding (individual $6 and large ones serving four people for $18), mix ‘n’ match rocky road $6.50), the pastry chef’s Christmas stocking ($35) and strawberry candy cane and caramel gingerbread macarons (9 pack for $12).

The Shangri-La are renowned for their delicious high teas; at other points in the year they offer both a traditional one and a sumptuous chocolate one. For Christmas, customers can enjoy a festive high tea ($55 per adult and $27.50 per child) where Polyviou specifically tackles holiday fun with her desserts. On the menu is a sweet cherry pie, a white Ozzy berry Christmas Pavlova, Santa hat domes filled with lip-smacking berry mousse and your traditional afternoon tea scones with jam.




The high-tea includes a number of savoury options and these flavours align with the fact the owners of the hotel are originally from Asia. These include a caramelised onion and goat cheese tart, a new take on the prawn cocktail and a turkey sandwich. These are all accompanied by a vast range of teas or alternatively sparkling wine and champagne can be added for an additional charge.




Polyviou has also added an extra piece of Christmas joy to the high tea experience. This feature is a special miniature Christmas tree adornment decorated with tiny baubles and gingerbread men dressed like little ninjas and it also comes with some “presents” underneath it. These are tasty pieces of white chocolate, cranberry and pistachio nougat, jelly lollies and two kinds of chocolate including one praline variety and the other a soft-centred caramel.


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Polyviou has also added an extra piece of Christmas joy to the high tea experience. This feature is a special miniature Christmas tree adornment decorated with tiny baubles and gingerbread men dressed like little ninjas and it also comes with some “presents” underneath it. These are tasty pieces of white chocolate, cranberry and pistachio nougat, jelly lollies and two kinds of chocolate including one praline variety and the other a soft-centred caramel.

The Shangri-La Hotel has a number of options available for Christmas and team lunches. It also has a spectacular outlook of Sydney Harbour so it is the perfect venue for New Year’s Eve celebrations, especially for those patrons wanting to view the fireworks. There is a lot to be merry about at the Shangri-La this December. Anna Polyviou and her team of hard-working elves have put together a spectacular Christmas celebration that is fit for a king. It’s an absolute treat to see the life-sized gingerbread house and the magical carousel as this winter wonderland will leave you singing ding dong merrily on a high!

Images supplied.

Shangri-La Hotel Sydney
Address: 176 Cumberland St, Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: (02) 9250 6000

Originally published on 12 December 2016 at the following website:

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Chefs Gallery has become a favourite for Sydneysiders who enjoy contemporary Chinese cuisine. The restaurant has a great menu but they also enjoy constantly evolving and introducing new items for hungry punters. The recent menu additions at this eatery include nine different snack-style skewers that are roasted over charcoals, as well as some fresh mains and desserts that are in keeping with the other dishes on offer.

Kai Sern Ching first introduced Sydney to high-quality Chinese food when he brought the Din Tai Fung chain to our city in 2008. In 2010 Chefs Gallery followed with a glamourous, flagship store in Regent Place, next door to Sydney’s iconic, Town Hall. Since then, Chefs Gallery has expanded into the suburbs with restaurants in Bankstown, Parramatta and Macquarie Centre, to name a few.




The food at Chefs Gallery draws on and adds fresh twists on the four main traditions in Chinese cookery. This subsequently means that the eatery has a very diverse menu. There are noodles and breads inspired by the Northern school of thought; fish and rice dishes from the Eastern; spicy foods from the West; and items from Hong Kong that take their notes from the Southern tradition.

Chapas or Chinese-style tapas are the order of the day here. This is food that is designed to be shared and enjoyed amongst good company. A fine start to a meal is the new roast duck and citrus salad. This includes a selection of fresh green leaves, enoki mushrooms, almonds, cherry tomatoes and the restaurant’s signature duck sauce dressing. This is a fresh dish that boasts a balance of flavours and textures with the nutty crunch of the almonds mixing well with the sweet tomatoes and the moreish pieces of duck.




A dish boasting a few surprises was the sweet and sour pork. This was not your glowing, red variety typically found in plastic Tupperware boxes at take-away stores, or at the bottom of the fridge. The Chefs Gallery variety was a dish fit for an emperor with crispy, golden pieces of pork in a glossy brown sauce and served with a beautiful, magenta flower made from cabbage. This pretty dish tasted as good as it looked.




Another big surprise was the restaurant’s salt and pepper tofu. This one boasted the chef’s own handmade egg and spinach tofu, lightly fried in a golden batter. This gave a lovely, crunchy outer skin that counteracted nicely with the creamy soft centre of tofu. It was also topped with different spices including chilli and pepper. This has to be one of the best vegetarian dishes ever.




Chefs Gallery’s restaurants are renowned for their handmade noodles. Patrons can watch the noodles being folded, stretched and made in the large open kitchen. A good way to sample these noodles is in the flavour-packed wok-fried noodles with sliced salted pork belly, fried egg, garlic chives, wood ear mushrooms, carrots and crispy pork belly crackling. The soy sauce had a divine smoky flavour and the noodles had a delightful sheen that almost served like a spotlight, making you realise how yummy this stir-fry is.

Sydneysiders love their pork belly. This could possibly be the reason why there are often queues outside of Chefs Gallery and other fine establishments. Their decadent Dongpo pork belly takes no less than six hours to prepare and is cooked with a medley of secret spices. The finished product has a beautiful, caramel texture and a serving that is very generous – it could almost feed a small army!




This eatery is also known for their cute little piggy buns (filled with a sweet black sesame paste) for dessert. But there are also two new desserts that are likely to give these little piggies a run for their money. The mango granita served with coconut cream, slices of fruit and crunchy granola, looks poised to be the feel-good hit of the summer. In short, it’s quite light and refreshing.




The sesame panna cotta with kaffir lime dusted meringue, Adzuki beans and sesame seed tuile, is great fun to eat. The tuile provides a crunchy sense of theatricality where you can “break” into as you do when smashing the top of a crème brûlée! The pana cotta’s smooth creaminess is also nicely contrasted by the small chunks of sweet meringue and tart fruits.




Chefs Gallery is building a strong reputation for high-quality, contemporary Chinese cuisine. The addition of several new menu items manages to expand on the ideas that originated in the dishes that people have come to know and love, while also drawing some exciting surprises into the mix. At the end of the day Chefs Gallery is proving to be one great melting pot of fabulous ideas; their fresh and varied menu means you can pick and choose your very own sumptuous, Chinese banquet. Yum!

Originally published on 28 November 2016 at the following website:

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On September 10 and 11 The Rocks became Sydney’s answer to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The Smooth Festival of Chocolate was celebrating its third year and it was bigger and brighter than ever. For one weekend, tens of thousands of people got to embrace their inner chocoholic and consume lots of chocolate, fudge, gelato, cronuts, doughnuts, brownies, freakshakes, muffins, macarons, cheesecakes, pastries and more. Put simply, it was joy on earth!




In 2016 over 90 different stalls were on offer. This year saw an increase in the number of food trucks and lunchtime snacks so that people had a chance to get a tasty break from their sugar highs. One particular highlight was the Hoy Pinoy stall who turned their space into a mouth-watering outdoor barbeque, with skewers that were very succulent and quite divine!




The festival featured a number of different parts, including a garden bar sponsored by the Bilpin Cider Co for adults, and a Darrell Lea chill-out area for families. The chocolate artisans could be found in the Overseas Passenger Terminal, selling their yummy packaged treats including Chocolab’s unique chocolate bars, and French chocolate brand Jeff de Bruges who have recently opened a store at Westfield Bondi.


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The Overseas Passenger Terminal was also home to two magnificent chocolate artworks by artist James Patrick. One was predominantly made of Lindt ball wrappers while the other saw Sydney Harbour immortalised in chocolate. Another huge drawcard was the Baked by Joanne stall. Joanne Smith’s amazing cake creations were a big hit with people after an amazing photograph or ten, and it was little wonder when her cakes were topped by upside down choc tops, lolly pops and Nutella jars spilling out their gooey goodness.





The Callebaut Test Kitchen played host to demonstrations by a number of important pastry chefs like Christopher Thé (Black Star Pastry), Jean-Michel Raynaud (La Renaissance Patisserie) and Gigi Falanga (Zumbo’s Just Desserts) and Adriano Zumbo’s large stall was serving up sweet treats. We were fortunate enough to watch Anna Polyviou’s (Shangri-La Hotel) demonstration and she was an absolute treat. Polyviou is quite possibly the Ellen DeGeneres of pastry chefs. She was encouraging people to dance while tempering chocolate, she cracked lots of jokes and had her DJ friend play some tunes. But the funniest thing of all was seeing her throw one of her Anna’s Mess desserts (one that went viral thanks to MasterChef) at an audience member named Eddie who was a good sport about it.





Further highlights included the sensational strawberry watermelon cake from Black Star Pastry and some interesting cronut sticks. On Sunday morning, Gelato Messina had sold out of two of their creations, the hazelnut Mucho Bueno Bar and the hilarious milk chocolate, Robert Brownie Jr. Bar. Chocolate fans could also get their own personalised block of Lindt Chocolate at the Lindt lounge. This spot was also selling three different éclair flavours: the standard chocolate as well as hazelnut and salted caramel.





The Smooth Festival in Sydney was quite simply heaven for chocoholics. There was a little something for everyone at this fun festival. We were all like kids in candy shops here, except that this was in the picturesque surrounds of Sydney’s The Rocks area. It was a weekend where we could all forget or diets, embrace our inner child and eat chocolate like it was going out of fashion. See you next year!





Originally published on 28 November 2016 at the following website:

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Grandmothers – or Nonnas in Italian – are often the glue in a family. They feed us, treat us and look after us. Sandhurst Fine Foods know all about this and are celebrating our beloved family matriarchs with a Festival of Nonna at 107 Projects in Redfern. It’s a series of Italian lunches, dinners and cooking workshops where you can learn techniques that have been perfected over multiple generations and enjoy great food and the company of some leading Italian-Australian chefs and their “nonnas.” It’s a fun and heart-warming occasion that is just like being embraced in a big, kind hug by your grandma.




The chefs heading up this festival are Andrew Cibej (Vini, Berta & 121BC) fame as well as his mother Valerie (who is also the mother of Bluejuice bass player, Jamie Cibej.) The other chefs include: Luca Ciano of the two-Michelin stared restaurant Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia in Milan, Massimo Mele (who has recently partnered with the First Datesrestaurant, Verandah in Sydney) and former MasterChef contestant, Sara Oteri. The workshops enable you to learn how to make Italian dishes like meatballs as well as making pastas and gnocchi from scratch.




Ciano has some wonderful tips for making the perfect gnocchi. Good high-starch potatoes that are similar sizes are the most important ingredient. The recipe itself is quite basic and includes flour, potato, eggs, parmesan cheese and seasoning like: salt, pepper and nutmeg. The potatoes are cooked with their skins on and then are subsequently removed. If they are overcooked they tend to absorb more water so this means that the quantities of the ingredients may need to change.




The potatoes are cooked until they are still a little firm. They are then pressed or mashed (but don’t use a stick blender to do this.) The other ingredients are then combined to form a dough. You roll out the dough and then cut the pasta into small squares. You then press each of these squares with a fork taking care not to apply too much pressure because you are still trying to make gnocchi that will retain its fluffiness after boiling. When you make these shapes in the pasta this ensures that the gnocchi lap up more of the sauce when you are eating it. It’s also a good idea to test-drive one of the gnocchi before you start cooking all of them because you may need to go back and add more flour to the dough if the gnocchi falls apart in the boiling water.




Andrew Cibej’s five course dinner was a showcase of beautiful Italian foods (including the Sandhurst product range) that were simple and well-seasoned. The ingredients also had excellent techniques applied to them and these helped create the perfect Italian spread that was fit for an emperor. Cibej’s family are originally from North-Eastern Italy, not far from the Veneto region and the menu reflected this. The antipasti included grissini (bread sticks) and some moreish San Daniele prosciutto. The smoked, wild river trout was delicious and the grilled asparagus and pecorino cheese was a great display of seasonal produce and the asparagus had a delightful char. The artichokes also had a nice chargrilled flavour and were topped with a divine salsa verde.




There were also some mixed-marinated olives with chilli. The darker olives are the ones that were the most ripe at the time of harvest.




The pieces of bread were also fluffy and salty and included some rosemary on top.




The primi or first courses (which in Italian food is traditionally a pasta dish) were a gnocchi with a pork ragù. This saw some sweet pork neck braised for over two hours and formed part of a rich and unctuous sauce that included peas and various herbs.




A main/secondo or carne (meat) is an understated, melt-in-your-mouth roast veal that has been twice-cooked in chicken stock and white wine. This was served with contorni or sides of roasted kipfler potatoes, green beans and olive salsa and a salad of radicchio and egg and kipflers. The salad was pretty to look at and had a nice, savoury tartness.




For dessert or dolce there was a stracciatella (vanilla and chocolate) semifreddo with frutti del bosco (fruits of the forest.) This was like a luxurious Vienetta ice-cream topped with tart summer berries: strawberry, blueberry, cherry and raspberry.




Sandhurst Foods’ Festival of Nonna is a celebration of all things family. Their food business was founded in 1988 by Vince and Geraldine Lubrano and their hard work continues with the couple’s sons, Mimmo and Ray. This pop-up at the rooftop garden at 107 Projects in Redfern is a relaxed and superb way to celebrate and count your blessings in life, whether it be good food, great cooking or a family that plays and stays together while embracing all of the best things from the old country.


The Festival of Nonna, which is on until 27th November, has sold-out all of its current sessions. For more information and stay up to date click HERE.

Originally published on 21 November 2016 at the following website:

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Saké Jr proves that eating healthy does not need to leave you feeling hungry or unhappy. This fast and casual Japanese eatery located in the recently revamped Grosvenor Place complex in Sydney is the sister store to the fine-dining favourite, Saké Restaurant & Bar. It has a variety of fresh foods and drinks for sale but their biggest drawcard is that you can build your own Korean-inspired bowl ($15) or enjoy your own bowl and beer combination ($10) during their daily happy hour from 4pm until 7pm.

The menu at Saké Jr boasts ingredients that are gluten, preservative and GMO-free while also drawing on the flavours and techniques that people love from the Saké brand. The bowls are put together by navigating six separate steps with the first one (the base) featuring options like: bao buns, udon rice noodle sticks, mixed greens or one of two kinds of rice (brown or seasoned sushi.) The second process is to pick your protein from meats like grilled chicken or sesame soy pork (which has a tasty, crispy crackling), a vegetarian alternative (crispy tofu and shitake mushroom) or one of the many fish varieties (miso glazed cod, spicy salmon, pop-corn shrimp and classic tuna and avocado).




Patrons can choose from an unlimited supply of vegetables including: Brussel sprouts, charred corn, ginger-glazed bok choy, steamed edamame, beans in black garlic sauce and seaweed. Avocado is also available for a little extra ($2.) The bowls can be topped with a sweet, apple soy ginger sauce or hotter dressings like Japanese salad dressing or wasabi ginger salsa (because as Seinfeld one said, “People like saying, “Salsa!””)

The bowls are finished with unlimited garnishes like: chilli threads, wasabi peas, toasted sesame seeds, fried garlic, wasabi furikake (a dry Japanese seasoning), togarashi (a blend of seven Japanese spices that would make Colonel Sanders blush), tempura crunch (the light batter used to garnish sushi or crunchy rolls) and toasted nori strips. The bowl can also have unlimited amounts of chilli oil, Japanese pickled cucumber, pickled ginger, scallions and daikon and carrot slaw.




They are open from 7:30AM and have brekkie bowls ($9) available with proteins that match the early morning start. They include: scrambled eggs, bacon, Japanese hash browns and crispy pork belly. There is also muesli ($5), fruit salad ($6), banana bread ($5) and a hot soy milk porridge ($8) available. Another great alternative to a bacon and egg muffin is the bacon and egg roll bao buns available at $5 for two pieces or $7.50 with a regular coffee.

Saké Jr also have a great variety of grab-and-go options including various soups ($4-8), sushi rolls ($10-16) and dumplings ($16.) The desserts feature a number of refreshing and fruity sorbets and ice-creams ($5-6) and there are hot and cold beverages for sale. The cold drinks include two of the restaurant’s namesake, sake, as well as two craft beers brewed by the group’s very own, Urban Brew Co. There is the light hattori hit girl ($8.50), which is made with Australian hops and the mildly bitter, blushing geisha ($8.50).




As the dining scenes across the world continue to move towards a more health and fitness conscious life, it’s becoming increasingly important for us to think a bit healthier when it comes to quick and casual, even if it’s not always easy to do so. There can be no excuses when you consider that a place like Saké Jr exists, it’s the ideal spot for those who want to eat, feel and look good while enjoying food that is healthy, tasty and full of flavour.

Saké Jr

Address: Grosvenor Place, 225 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Mon-Fri 7.30am-8pm, Sat-Sun 9am-6pm. Breakfast until 11am.

Images supplied and credited to Kitti Gould.

Originally published on 11 November 2016 at the following website:

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Let all Australians rejoice for we have some of the world’s prettiest landmarks in our own backyard. A case in point is Sydney’s historic The Rocks area. The traditional lands of the Gadigal (Cadigal) people of the Eora nation, 2016 embraces this precinct as home to history, art, culture and food, with over 50 cafes, restaurants and bars. We invite you on a journey of discovery to sample a little of what The Rocks has to offer.




This part of Sydney is home to lots of historic buildings and Sydney’s very first road. It was originally named Main Street and later renamed George Street after King George III in 1810. This area has been subject to various regeneration efforts to the shops and buildings, with the work set to continue into the future. It’s a place that has seen its fair share of progress: in the 1970s it was earmarked for redevelopment but was saved thanks to activists and conservationists like Jack Mundey. Today it boasts a vibrant culture and beautiful architecture, in addition to being a food lover’s dream.


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Fine Food is the perfect place to have a casual breakfast or brunch. Inspired by Brooklyn-style cafes, it has proudly been serving local craft beer, wine and coffee since 2004. The coffees are a particular drawcard, with drip coffee, cold brews and single origin espressos on offer. This cosy place is situated next to The Rocks Discovery Museum and offers fragrant brews that any discerning coffee drinker can appreciate.




Another amazing find at The Rocks is a restaurant called Pony, situated in a former bond warehouse. Head chef, Neil Nolan has been a mainstay at this eatery for ten years, and is instrumental in producing an eclectic menu that is cooked in a large open kitchen and over an Argentinean wood fire oven. Their roasted heirloom beets include yellow and traditional beetroot presented in a variety of different ways, including as a crisp as well as pureed and roasted. The perfect complement to the creamy burrata cheese and the sweet, candied hazelnuts.





Pony also has a large communal table on the outdoor deck. Such an environment was the appropriate time to sample some seared kangaroo. What a surprise to discover the gaminess of the lean kangaroo meat was toned down thanks to the addition of crunchy, native pepper berries and tart berries such as raspberry.




This restaurant also offered an exquisite JR signature sirloin with an Argentinian chimichurri sauce. This meat was cooked to perfection and has a nice little char from the wood fire oven. The sauce meanwhile, is based on parsley, onion, garlic and chilli and just made everything pop!




Scarlett Restaurant wins the prize for being the most chameleon-like space in the area. The restaurant is located in the Harbour Rocks Hotel and the building served as Sydney’s first hospital. They have a beautiful garden terrace offering serenity and calm with a view overlooking the historic nurses walk. It’s a great place to sip a Scarlett’s Dirty Mojito, a sparkling concoction of muddled lime and sugar with Stolen spiced rum and topped with soda.






The Rocks is host to a number of different public art pieces including one dedicated to Mundey, and a view of Brown Bear Lane (later Little Essex Street in 1901.) There is also a cute little dog sculpture dedicated to Biggles, a deceased schnauzer dog and former friend of The Rocks. It is these those iconic treasures along with a sandstone rich environment still boasting a supply of old post and telephone boxes, which gives this place its unique, old-world charm.




On Fridays The Rocks also plays host to a Foodie market from 9am – 3pm. The stalls include chocolates and other artisan products as well as street food-style offerings. Danieli BBQ Skewers sell a number of delicious skewers including Moroccan lamb, haloumi, prawns and peri-peri chicken, to name a few.




Pei Modern is a contemporary restaurant located in the five-star Four Seasons Hotel and is headed up by leading Australian chef Mark Best. The team have also welcomed a recent addition to their troupes in award-winning pastry chef, Lauren Eldridge. She has revamped their dessert menu while also keeping true to Pei Modern’s overall vision of exploring unconventional food pairings. Eldridge is not a sweet tooth herself, opting to craft desserts that she and others like her can enjoy, including desserts that are not too rich or sugary.


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Eldridge creates her own wildflower honeycomb, served with a sweet, cultured cream… like the world’s most exquisite crunchy bar! The salted liquorice cake and molasses ice-cream, in an ice-cream hinting of coffee notes. The Rocks is no stranger to chocoholics with their yearly Smooth Chocolate Festival. Pei Modern caters beautifully here with their bitter chocolate tart and cumquat jam.




The Rocks is a place blessed in terms of its rich history and plentiful supply of places to eat, drink and relax. It is certainly fun to don the tourist cap and step back in time, while sampling some of Sydney’s finest and freshest contemporary Australian cuisine. The Rocks is ultimately a place where you can enjoy and celebrate the past, present and future, as you walk away with a full belly and a warm heart.




Originally published in October at the following website:

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Many of us are familiar with Disney’s version of Beauty & the Beast. The film shows the cursed Beast who captures the beautiful Belle, and it is only after Belle sees the creature’s inner “goodness” and falls in love that the spell is broken. Some people may consider that the Beast is actually rewarded with Belle’s love and not punished for his wrongdoings. Author Zoë Marriott has decided to redress this imbalance and tell the story from a feminist’s perspective.


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Hands up who thinks pizza and beer is a winning combination. For those who agree then there’s a new restaurant to add to your bucket list, a clever dual-concept pairing of Fratelli Famous and The Bavarian at World Square from the rapidly expanding Urban Purveyor Group. The restaurant features a communal bar, shared indoor and outdoor seating and separate kitchens producing pizzas – with a DIY focus – and assorted German finery.


Fratelli Famous – the casual sister restaurant to Fratelli Fresh – have three different pizza bases available. There is a light and crispy sourdough where the dough is fermented with a starter culture. There is also the Napolitana, a classic dough that yields a thin and crispy base. The kitchen offers an eight-inch gluten free variety (the other bases are available in eight and 12 inch sizes) that has gluten-free flour in place of semolina flour.


There is a real technique to working and stretching the dough. The pizza side of the restaurant has nine classic savoury pizzas on sale (each $14) as well as breakfast and dessert varieties. As with the other Fratelli Famous which now fits in nicely at Westfield Sydney, you can create your own pizza here. According to Pizza Executive Chef, William the key to a great topping is to find the right balance of flavours.


Once you have selected your base it’s time to choose a sauce. There are four different kinds to choose from including a green pine nut pesto and a white one made up predominantly of fior di latte cheese. There are also two red varieties made of San Marzano tomatoes and one of these has been cooked with Italian meatballs for a heartier, full-bodied flavour. The next step is to select your cheese from a range including feta and vegan cheese as well as an array of Italian ones (gorgonzola, fior de latte mozzarella, fontina, scamorza and parmesan.)


There is a range of seasonings available including oregano, chilli flakes, fennel seeds and salts. The proteins feature various Italian cured meats (pancetta, salami and nduja) as well as chorizo, ham and lemon-roasted chicken. To balance out the meats there vegetable, fruit and nut toppings including broccolini, mushroom, olives, eggplant and pine nuts. The pizza is cooked for 90 seconds and can then be dressed with chilli oil, hot buffalo or sweet barbeque sauce. Fratelli Famous also allow people to create their own salads and they have a number of different ingredients available.


The Bavarian is the sister restaurant to the Bavarian Bier Café, a fast causal spin-off that over on the German side of the restaurant has 17 beers on tap and plenty more for sale in bottles. This is the place where there is a beer for everyone with casual drinkers typically favouring the sweeter, malty varieties, while your beer aficionados go for ones with hops flavours and astringent tastes. Urban Purveyor Group also own the Urban Brewing Co. where they create 11 exclusive craft beers.


The Bavarian stable of restaurants are famous for their steins so it’s important that the beers don’t contain too much carbon dioxide otherwise they would create some slight abdominal discomfort in the drinker. The bartenders are very knowledgeable and can suggest food pairings to accompany the beers and signatures across schnitzels, burgers, sausages and pork dishes.


Some of the beers available range from the subtle and sweet Italian style lager,Bella Birra all the way up to the bitter and hoppy, Devil’s Daughter Indian Pale Ale (IPA). The Bavarian has recently launched a seasonal, summer brew called Sweet Caroline, which would make Neil Diamond proud because she’s a very refreshing and drinkable drop. Sweet Caroline also has a slight astringency which lends the beer a fine, moorish quality. One of the few dark lagers to be found in Australia is the Hofbräu Dunkel, which boasts a sweet quality reminiscent of caramel. It’s a stark contrast to the spicy Butcher’s Bride Pale Ale with its grassy notes and dry finish. The group’s house lager, The Munich is a great one to end a night on and it’s a smooth and refreshing drink.


The Bavarian have a beer passport promotion running until 31st December this year: if you sample eight of their beers across multiple settings and get your passport stamped you receive a limited edition t-shirt and go in the running to win a private beer and pizza party for up to 20 people.


The partnership between Fratelli Famous and The Bavarian is an unexpected match – it’s not everyday you see a restaurant split into Italian and German – but it works incredibly well for the area. This dual-concept store in Sydney looks poised to be a big hit, and those out west can be rest assured they’ll be getting one soon enough in Penrith.



Originally published on 19 October 2016 at the following website:

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If the prospect of Israeli cuisine leaves you hungry to learn more then there is one documentary film for you. In Search of Israeli Cuisine attempts to answer the question, “What is Israeli cuisine?” In doing so it examines a diverse range of different influences and food styles on Israeli food, which ranges from street food and cafes to home cooking and fine dining, plus everything in between. This film will make your mouth water, will leave you wishing smell-o-vision existed and will whet your appetite for more.

The film is directed by documentarian, Roger Sherman. It is presented by an amiable, down-to-earth Israeli-American chef named Michael Solomonov. The latter grew up in America and Israel and he owns his own restaurant in Philadelphia. At Zahav, Solomonov has created a menu that specialises in Israeli food.

In Search of Israeli Cuisine features a number of talking head interviews with chefs, food journalists, farmers, producers and cookbook authors. Some of these commentators claim that the definition of “Israeli food” is hard to quantify. Others claim that Israel is a country that is too young to have a “cuisine” as yet. There are Palestinian commentators that say that the Israeli recipes borrow heavily from the Palestinian and Arabic traditions. But at the end of the day the best comment made by chefs of either Israeli or Palestinian extraction is that food is not political and that anyone can be your friend provided they are eating at your table. It’s a wonderful comment especially when you consider that Israel has been long associated with war and conflict.

Solomonov travels to some Israeli wineries and restaurants. It is great to see that many of the latter have a big emphasis on using local produce. It seems that the tides have turned because in the past many people in Israel were eating merely to survive, rather than for pleasure or enjoyment. Solomonov also visits a cheesemaker who produces his products in a cave. The presenter also describes the kosher laws even though the inhabitants of a major city like Tel Aviv are currently more secular in their beliefs and approaches to food. Solomonov also describes Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewish people and their different cuisines. One fascinating thing in this documentary is how important ingredients like: olive oil, hummus, lemons and eggplant are to their recipes.

Israeli food looks positively mouth-watering in this documentary. The filmmaker and presenter have done an excellent job of showing such vibrant and rich Israeli food is, as well as showcasing chefs, writers and other food professionals who are knowledgeable and passionate about it. At the end of the day this documentary is also like a travelogue, cooking show and history lesson in that it celebrates how exciting and dynamic Israeli culture and cuisine is. At the end of the day this is a joyful celebration of food, glorious food!

Originally published on 11 October 2016 at the following website:

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