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Showing posts from February, 2013

Salmon Tamarind Flavoured Curry

Tender bites of Omega 3 laden fish. Moist seafood infused with sensations of produce from herb and spice plantations, with hints of the monsoon breeze and served with fluffy basmati rice that is neither overcooked nor too dry. The gravy seeps into the rice and juicy tomato cuts.  An appetising possibility awaits you on the dining table. You long for this to be served on banana leaves but it is good enough on white china.  You wait for a beer, or something soothing and cool to accompany this dish.

This was a daily affair for the colonial officer a hundred years ago, whether he was based in India, Ceylon, Malaya or Indochine.  The home country was only but a memory on a sweaty and humid tropical evening.  The kitchen was well staffed, mainly with women who stayed at home the whole day long, not out of choice but cocooned in convention.





Tamarind flavoured salmon curry is perhaps an illustration of contemporary fusion, but has roots that go back to the Straits Chinese and Straits Indian…

Ona Coffee - Manuka, Canberra

Serbian born Sasa Sestic not only has a torrid affair with coffee,  but also enjoyed the game of hand ball and loved chocolates. Ona Saw outlet had its beginnings in Manuka itself in the Australian Capital Territory. This started with chocolates but then coffee was selling better.  In 2007, Sasa began seriously going into the art of coffee bean roasting, with two mates, Aaron Howman and Angus Mackie.  It is said the guys from the start longed to - and did -  produce niche and unique coffee. And so the story of Ona began.  They source their single origin and blended  beans from places as diverse as Malawi, Costa Rica and Italy.  Today, Ona not only brews, but offers barista sessions, holds community gatherings, whips up cafe food, organises coffee themed events and sells related hardware and accessories.

The deep passion shown by Sasa translates into the coffee served at the Manuka cafe. Here, crowds already gathered on the early Friday morning I visited the place. There is an air of …

Iza Kaya Fujiyama - Surry Hills NSW

A pub that opens from 6 pm every night, except Sunday evenings, and which combines a wide selection of the brew from Japan. Sit on casual wooden tables and down the brew with delicate and tasty snacks representing the best of a cultural tradition - and using the freshest of ingredients.  This is what Izakaya Fujiyama offers, as if it was nestled on a station up the mountain slope, with narrow boat-like serving utensils and in a venue hidden away from the main strip in Surry Hills.  Above , a selection of fresh bluefish tuna, salmon and mackerel.  The ambiance was seemingly cluttered but informally easy, as perhaps what a sit down sake shop should be.


There are rice wines, Australian wines, plum wines, well known mainstream Japanese beers like Sapporo and Asahi, soft drinks, straight shots of Ronin, mixtures of high balls and even a Cabernet blend from Yamanashi.  The latter named is  a rare treat in the Australian market, where it can be a task to ask for wines from outside Australia…

Bar Lissimo Cafe, Foodstore & Catering - Gwynneville, NSW

An interesting new retail concept has been operating in a suburb of Wollongong for the past few months, and until Michael took me there, I was not aware of this delightful outlet where you can shop for deli stuff whilst having your Italian inspired meal and coffee.  The set up at Bar Lissimo reminds me more of Sydney's eastern suburbs or inner city Surry Hills or Balmain / Rozelle rather than an easy drive inland from the Wollongong beaches.   Sauces, preserves, sugary items and well prepared breakfast and lunch items caught my eye. I understand that they are also open on two week nights but not for dinner on weekends, when they complete operations by 2 pm.






Both of us had the pulled pork burger, which was delicious.  I particularly liked the way the pork was prepared, with a sumptuous texture and accompanied by fresh herbs and thin crusty chips.   There are many items to consider in the store, replete with canteen styled wooden tables and other desks for two to four in a  group. …

Canberra to Sydney - Dash 4 800 - Vistas from a Window

Taking off from Canberra Airport on a sunny Friday afternoon - order and simplicity at this air terminal.


Approaching Botany Bay (above) and then the Dash makes a curved route to make a landing at Sydney runways from the ocean side (below).  The southern Sydney shire of Sutherland is laid out below , together with the entrance to the King Georges River, a main artery of Australia's largest metropolitan region.  Sydney Airport, Kingsford-Smith with the international,  domestic and airline cargo terminals, is sited rather close to the city centre and its iconic Harbour Bridge.  In 2010, this airport handled 36 million passengers.  It has strict aircraft curfew restrictions in place since 1995, and also has a cap of 80 aircraft landing at any one time, perhaps causing the infamous delays on Friday evenings with aircraft having to go through a waiting pattern over the Blue Mountains or the Canberra region before they are authorised to land.




Above and below, the Dash flies over the Ro…

Aqua Cafe - North Wollongong, NSW

I had the Irish cream milkshake to begin with and ended with a barista made coffee, and in between had some red wine and drinking water. What was more interesting were the dishes served at the Aqua, a long time institution in North Wollongong, popular with cyclists, couples and groups, and the company I had. It was a relaxing arvo, when rain had come down in most of Sydney but not in the Gong, but the Tasman Sea looked only a shade of its true self on a summer's day.

Above, the seared South Coast prawns  served on a roquette salad with avocado, Italian relish and balsamic dressing. Andy and I had this and there was no regret absolutely - the prawns were juicy and tender, not over done and literally melted inside my mouth.  The relish was sufficiently provocative and yet reassuring.  Below, the salt and pepper squid, which Nancee chose,  with a sweet balsamic dressing generously poured over - but what captivated me was the macerated mango slices with fresh mesculin ( a mix of youn…

Lunar New Year of the Snake - Gatherings

William and Martin cut the two flourless chocolate cakes at Cherrybrook, north western Sydney.





Tasty and aromatic Indian styled curry from Nancee.




Beijing duck with skin sliced , ready for use on hoi sin sauce smeared wraps, garnished with shallots and cucumber cuts.




The festive yee sang mix (left of photo above) and the dried pork jerky (right of photo above), two dishes with auspicious meaning for the Lunar New Year.  Picture taken in Carlingford, NSW.  Yee sang has raw salmon, crunchy bits, fresh herbs, chili garnish and a light sour and sweet dressing.




One of the best quiche I have ever eaten, made by William of North Ryde, NSW.



Egg based noodles, stir fried with broccoli, to provide a lighter contrast to the richer foods on the table.


Cakes and more. Reunions and catch ups. Relaxing summer afternoon and easy chats. Photo credit to Zoe Yu.




Lai Mee's version of  the yee sang (above) and caught at late lunch (below).


Sydney to Canberra - Dash 4 800 - Vistas from a Window

Take off over the Sutherland Shire in the south eastern parts of the greater Sydney region, New South Wales.



Inland from the Wollongong coast, the aircraft does not go up much higher.



Over the Goulburn Valley, the Dash is already preparing to descend and the cabin crew are sent scurrying clearing up after already served drinks and snacks.



Skirting over pastures, the shadow of the Dash can be seen in the foreground, as aircraft wheels already detract and poise to land.




The Dash approaches Canberra Airport - it can be a vibrant ride, with the vibes of vibrating turbo propellers, and yet at the same time, cosy, as the plane only seats around 80 passengers.  You can embark from the front or back - and like riding in a  manually driven car, always feel close to the craft, engine and all.

Manuka, Canberra - Summer Impressions

Manuka, which lies nearby to and south of the Australian Parliament in the Australian Capital Territory of Canberra, is named after a tea tree from New Zealand.  It is a hub of fascinating architecture, dining, communal and lifestyle possibilities.  Above, fast food culture interposes with buildings from the 1920s onwards. Quiet but orderly and yet I felt more things can probably be lurking underneath - maybe undeclared or undisclosed deals, secret recipes, well dressed residents, the hint of wealth and health and a veneer of fascinating modern history.






Old fashioned cafe settings mingle side by side with contemporary designed spaces and multicultural choices. You can find Basque tapas and related fare on the first floor of the Capitol Cinema Complex at Legends, or Mexican at Francisco's at Bougainville Street.   Alanya Turkish has group banquet menus and Charlie Black is another choice for office or family gatherings.  Chef Surya Maharjan has a wide selection of Nepalese infused…