Restaurant Review: Sails on Lavender Bay

Sails on Lavender Bay Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Oh my goodness.

This is the best way to describe each and every item that came to our table.

Here is the link

We went to Sails as a nice lunch date to celebrate an anniversary, and boy was it worth it! On lavender bay, close to Milsons point, with a magnificent view of the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, lies this cute little restaurant. It’s located right next to the ferry stop, and it is kind of cute to have the customers arrive by ferry before stepping into the eatery.

We decided to drive there, because unfortunately we were short on time :'(. We stepped inside to see the array of awards received by the restaurant and walked into a cozy and very warm room filled with the noises of happy customers and the smell of delicious food. Honestly, every person was smiling. We were greeted wonderfully by the head of the waitstaff who directed us to our tables with a gorgeous view of the water.

IMG-20160221-WA0091.jpg

The first thing I noticed, before I even get to the food, was the service. The table next to us were eating the Sails degustation menu. This is a truly hefty menu that requires at least 2 1/2 hours to devour. The servers would come over to them and not only explain the food they were about to eat, but deconstruct the matching wine right from the flavours in it to why it matches the food. I loved this addition.

Our service was equally as wonderful.

We began the meal by the complimentary fresh baked bread with home-made chive butter, and a whole butter with leek ash (what even.). The butter was divine. The bread was so bloody soft and warm. The balsamic salt to go with it was the perfect addition. The bread came to us so warm, I cannot get over it. I dunno, I guess it’s the little things that make a world of difference.

IMG-20160221-WA0076.jpg

This was followed by a wonderful and tangy fennel soup as the amuse bouche. (Can anyone pick up on the friends reference here???). This soup was so light and creamy and tangy and fun all at the same time. It was the sort of soup that came in the tiniest cup that could be drunk straight like a shot, but really should come in a massive bowl with dunking bread to eat in the middle of winter. It was delicious.

Now to our actual order. So far… this was just complimentary…

Entree:ย 

  • hiramasa kingfish tataki, cucumber caviar, kimchi, rice paper
  • scallops (the item I ordered isn’t on the online menu… so I actually cannot quote it 100%)

Mains:

  • grimaud duck breast, eggplant, baby cos, bacon powder, grape must
  • The day special of a crispy skin cod served with scallops, fennel, and well… a lot of deliciousness

Dessert:

  • pineapple and coconut eton mess, pineapple sorbet, passionfruit jelly, coriander
  • chocolate hazelnut pavรฉ, white chocolate and yoghurt mousse, sorbet, caramel crunch

We also ordered a side salad ofย broccolini, sugar snaps, snow peas, squash, cumin, lime.

Alright. To deconstruct our order.

The entree. My work were they wonderful. My scallops came with this delicious creamy mayo liked sauce. It was tangy and spicy at the same time, with some sort of a citrus infused rice cracker and bacon, that looked to me liked it was smoked and cooked in a delicious sweet maple syrup. Honestly, it was truly phenomenal. I don’t think I’ve ever used that word in my reviews before ๐Ÿ˜› The scallops were so incredibly flavoursome, which is saying something. They were soft on the inside but just lightly crispy on the outside.

IMG-20160221-WA0011

The kingfish was equally as incredible. I wasn’t expecting the kimchi flavour to be as amazing as it was. The cucumber caviar was such a surpirse! We couldn’t pin point the little green balls on the plate until we looked back at the menu. The dressing all over the meal was incredible and the little pieces of freshness in every bite. The spice was not overpowering at all and we could still taste the delicious tender kingfish below the layers of superb flavours.

IMG-20160221-WA0075

The mains were just as wonderful. The daily special cod was amazing. The skin was so amazingly crispy! It sliced apart so easily. I love a brittle crispy skin. That’s how you know its perfect. The meat was tender and juicy and flaky and served on a bed of spinach that had been wilted down in this delicious sauce. I really wish I knew what was it. I really do. The scallops were different in this meal! They were seared too, but weren’t as spicy. In fact they were kept a little more bland to soak up the flavour of the sauce and compliment the fish perfectly. The addition of the fennel was interesting. it added a tartness to the meal that was actually so welcoming. I know this special probably won’t be there if you do go… but damn was it delicious.

IMG-20160221-WA0028

The duck breast was equally as incredible. The skin was crispy and perfect, and the meat was so succulent and tender. The nutty flavour of the duck was truly delicous when paired with the bits and bobs of salad on the plate. It didn’t look like much when it came out, but boy did it fill us up. I was so pleasantly surprised by this meal. The meat wasn’t chewy at all, but each and every bite of the meat was different and delicious. Whatever they had used to tenderise the meat most definitely worked. The whole thing was wonderful. I recommend this one to you all.

IMG-20160221-WA0027

The side salad was so surprising too. If possible, grab this too. It seems so simple with the broccolini, snap peas and squash but oh the dressing. That dressing was so light and subtle but so flavoursome. It actually was the perfect accompaniment to the fish and duck. It added so much freshness to the deep nutty flavour of the duck and the tangy flavour of the fish ย and sauces.

IMG-20160221-WA0023

Now to the dessert. The eton mess was delightful. It has coconut meringue, and a truly delicious pineappleย sorbet that I could eat forever. Honestly it was stunning. The passionfruit jelly was equally amazing and was just perfect. There were chunks of fruit in the mess and it was just a little piece of fruity heaven. For a dessert, I think this was one of the lightest I’ve had. It’s great for a fairly full tummy!!

IMG-20160221-WA0035

My dessert was the hazelnut pave and oh gosh was it decadent and rich. I thought it was a little too rich for my liking but I did finish it nevertheless because it tasted like a bloody fancy nutella for a princess and I wasn’t going to let it go to waste. The crumbs with it were crunchy and tangy, while the entire pave was dusted with a bitter coffee. It actually cut down on the rich sweetness which I didn’t mind at all. The white chocolate mousse was delightful and delicious while the sorbet was a little tangy. The caramel crunch was just the perfect little thing to add to bite between bites.

IMG-20160221-WA0034

Okay… let’s get to the score before I kill you with my words about incredibly wonderful food.

Food: 10/10

Seriously do I really need to add anything more?

Service: 10/10

It was wonderful and kind and well… just plain nice ๐Ÿ™‚

Ambiance: 8/10

I think the fact I could see the ferry stop bugged my a little, and it blocked out view of the bridge. Plus the restaurant did get really loud, but it might be because of the slightly tipsy couple next to us that progressively used more and more swear words

Originality: 10/10

Seriously. An eton mess with coriander? What even. It was amazing.

Overall Score: 9.5/10

โค

IMG-20160221-WA0000

Advertisements

Healthy Avo Smash, poached Egg and Eggplant

MAKE BREAKFAST AMAZING AGAIN.

and make it at home.

SO many people spend anywhere between 15 – 30 dollars on their Sunday brunch, each week! Now, if you are willing to put in the 10 minutes of time it will take to make the food, you are going to save so much money. This particular recipe is so simple and easy, and you can actually make most the elements ahead of time and keep them in the fridge to use in other recipes. To top it off, there are plenty of ways to tweak this recipe for a new flavour each and every time, that way each Sunday will be amazingly special.

20170312_095010.jpg

 

Here comes the tricky part – the avocado. Why is it tricky? How many times have you cut open an avocado thinking it is the right softness to use, only to find it horribly hard or yucky and black? Oh it happens to all of us. The trick is to just understand the firmness. When you grab the avo, I normally do this with my non-writing hand to check, it should be firm enough to give a little resistance, but soft enough that you can push the skin in. Some people seriously have a knack for this.

To the avocado I always add some kind of cheese. In this recipe I went for cream cheese, but some delicious crumbly feta or ricotta are perfect substitutes. If you are vegan, then go ahead and add just a touch of Silken tofu to add a delcious creamy element to the avocado smash. I also add a hint of sumac because I just love the tangy spice that it provides, a squeeze of lime, which preserves the green color, and some parsley too. If not parsley you can add chives, or dill even to just freshen up the avocado even more. You can also add a touch of paprika if you like a little heat to your breakfast.

20170312_09533320170312_095428

In terms of the egg, I went for a yummy runny yolk by poaching my egg, but my parents personally love a good ol’ sunny side up. So no matter what the preference, you can use it. If you prefer scrambled, then add some of the cheese you used in the avo smash to the eggs. To poach the egg – I cannot believe I forgot to take photos! – add a touch of lime juice or vinegar to your pot of hot water. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, generate a vortex by making circles in the water using the end of a spoon. I like to crack the egg into a little bowl before ย this point to make life a little easier because once the vortex has been made, you just want to slide the egg straight into the centre, slowly and gently. The egg should swirl around and essentially fold up on itself. I remove the egg as soon as I can see that the white has cooked off using a slotted spoon, but keep cooking the egg to your liking. Make sure you set it aside to dry off a little on some kitchen paper.

20170312_094844

Now this is the part I do beforehand. The roasted eggplant and the tomato-basil sauce. Stay tuned for the recipe, but any kind of tomato relish or even left over pasta sauce would work well. For the eggplant, I cut it up in thin slices and placed them in a roasting tray. I coated the eggplant generously with olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper and roasted them at 180 degrees celcius, until the eggplant is beautifully golden and soft and has started to caramelise a little.

Here is the recipe card for this particular breakfast recipe!

Avo smash egc.jpg

 

20170312_101122

Easy Chicken Cacciatore

This has to be a recipe that I have been wanting to make for at least a whole year. Countless times I have looked at the recipe, tried to prepare for it, but then it just never happened. So many times I saw this recipe on televisions, Food network ftw, and so many times did this recipe pop up on my you-tube ‘recommended list’ . What is Chicken Cacciatore??

So according to my research, it is an Italian chicken recipe which literally means a Hunter style chicken pot. It’s tender chicken cooked in a tomato sauce keeping it moist and literally falling off the bone. The ingredients in this recipe are so simple and easy to find. Sure it does take some time, but you won’t regret it at all… trust me.

Now typically you should use chicken marylands, but I went ahead with drumsticks because I had them on hand. Essentially you could use any cut of chicken, but to maximise the flavours you definitely want to use bone in and skin on pieces. This way when you brown the chicken in the initial stages of this recipe, you essentially render down the chicken fats. Then you end up cooking all the wonderful vegetables in this flavourful fat and well, everything becomes super delicious.

20170226_175537

 

This recipe uses what I would call the ultimate flavour trifecta (maybe 4-fecta. What is the actual word for this?) , onions, garlic and celery. Oh and add carrot to that too. In this recipe I think these are the essentials. I like using plenty of garlic, but of course that depends on your own taste. Now there aren’t any real spices apart from salt, pepper, and chili flakes, which makes the flavour so true to the vegetables in the recipe and so light on the stomach too.

20170226_17460320170226_181101

All of this combined with good ol’ canned tomatoes and you get this insanely delicious sauce, rich in flavour, and rich in texture too. The tomatoes will need a bit of sugar and extra salt to cook them through well, and soften down the chicken, and of course to cut the sourness of the fruit.

20170226_18213320170226_182744

What makes this recipe so great? The fact that it is literally so simple. You just have to let stew away for a really good 30-40 mins until the meat just seperates from the bones and the tomatoes have caramelised slightly. Here is the recipe card, and see for yourself just how tasty this one ends up โค

chicken-cacciatore

 

20170226_184646

Creamy Beetroot, Mint and Pecan Dip

What do you do with left over beetroot? You make easy dip ofc!!

I love making dips at home. Firstly, you know EXACTLY what is in it! That is the best part. There is no added sugar, there are no preservatives, and no fake stuff. Plus, making dip is SOO easy! Trust me, once you start making your own, you will not go back to anything from the store. And this one is just so simple!

20170218_15220620170218_152157

You can make this same recipe using tinned beetroot directly, but I love the sweetness that beetroot picks up from roasting it. It does mean the dip takes a bit longer to make, but it’s an easy step with no fuss. Just clean, peel, slice, roast and rest. o real heavy work.

20170218_130039.jpg

I like using pecans in this dip, largely because I always have pecans in the house.But you can use pine nuts, hazelnuts or even almonds. Literally grab what you have lying around to give this dip a delicious nutty texture and flavour. The mint just makes this dip so fresh and is the perfect compliment to sweet beetroot and the nuts too.

20170218_152528

 

Now if you have left over feta, go ahead and add that with the cream cheese. It will add a tasty salty element to the dip. Plain cream cheese works a treat, and that is usually how I do it.

All you need to do is blitz everything in a food processor until smooth and creamy and then serve with some chips, a touch of paprika and olive oil. Yum yum!

creamy beetroot, mint and pecan dip.jpg

 

Bang Bang Broccoli

Okay so I have been wanting to make this recipe for AGES! But every time I ended up buying broccoli it was for some other recipe, usually a Thai curry, or a stir fry. So FINALLY I had a whole bunch of broccoli left, and I had a free Saturday (full disclosure I was actually meant to go out for a fancy dinner but got a tad bit sick the night before *sigh*). So here we go.

Now the first awesome thing about this recipe is that you can make it completely VEGAN! Yay! ๐Ÿ™‚ Otherwise it is ofc 100% vegetarian, so a bonus. This recipe is quick, simple and works fantastic as a 3:30pm snack, or even an accompaniment for lunch. Simple, delicious, crunchy and healthy – what more do you need?

So you want to start by cleaning the broccoli really well. It’s the kind of vegetable that a lot of mold and/or bugs can really latch onto. Use lukewarm water to soak the broccoli for around 3-5 minutes, and then pat dry on paper towels. Make sure you dry it off well, otherwise the batter will not coat the broccoli properly.

20170218_133055.jpg

Then make the sauce. Oh the sauce. SO much delicious in on little go. Set the sauce aside so that it reaches room temp, and thins out as well. This is important to ensure you get a consistent coating of the broccoli when you toss it all together. I add garlic powder to my recipe because I love that added hit, but if you aren’t a fan then omit it completely. If you choose to use Sriracha in your sauce, then skip the garlic powder otherwise the flavour will be far too overpowering. Trust me.

Next up, the batter. You want to start by mixing the apple cider vinegar with the milk, even if you are using a vegan milk substitute. This will basically make an instant buttermilk for you. You can use buttermilk, but I personally like the fruity tartness of the apple cider vinegar. In a bowl, mix together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and hot sauce. Pour in the milk and vinegar mixture and whisk everything well until the batter is nice and smooth.

20170218_133608.jpg

Cut up the broccoli into little chunks and add it to the batter, coating each piece really well. Make sure the stem is coated nicely too.

20170218_134127

I like to set these aside for at least 5-10 minutes, just to soak up all of that hot sauce goodness. It is so worth it. After that, toss each piece into breadcrumbs, before dropping them into your deep frying over medium heat. Fry them until they are beautiful and golden brown. Remove them and let them rest on some paper towel. You need to let these settle for a few minutes, allowing the paper towel to soak the oil, before salting the chunks. Finally toss them into the delicious sauce and then serve them up.

20170218_14021920170218_135219

Need the recipe card? It’s right here!

bang-bang-broccoli

Have a go at this insanely easy, but incredibly delicious recipe. Side note. My sister HATES greens. She is only 10, and well, she behaves like most 10 year olds and despises broccoli. But, interesting, she ate these yummy morsels. She did think they were a little spicy, but hell she still ate them.That is the important part ๐Ÿ™‚

Review: Criniti’s Italian

Criniti's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

For some reason or other, Criniti’s has become my go to restaurant. Need to go to a decent restaurant? Criniti’s. Need to go to a restaurant with plenty of vegetarian options? Criniti’s. Need to go somewhere closeby and/or has multiple outlets? Yup. Criniti’s.

So this particular review is based on all the vegetarian meals I ate. SO, meat eaters, this one isn’t for you.

I sound like a big advertisement :/ But in all seriousness. This is place is pretty packed on weekdays as well. During lunch there are always plenty of families, or people from work getting a bite. At night, the ambiance is warm and cozy and it is always someone’s birthday. Now the decor isn’t exactly to my personal taste, with the large mounted Ducati and spare parts adorning the place, but I absolutely love the visible wood fire oven, colorful bar serving some pretty great drinks (with plenty of Italian liquors and wines), along with the overall slightly vintage look.

20170216_204130
DEMOLISHED!

The service I have found to be very friendly, but a little slow. Particularly on weekdays! But alas when short staffed, this is bound to happen. The staff is most definitely patient however. It’s not all that customary for the manager to be serving food, but when needed he or she is also out there serving or cleaning up, which is something I really liked. I think it’s fantastic when the entire staff is working as a team ya know? #teamspirit. Much too often I’ve seen managers unprepared to do the dirty work. *sigh*

The menu here is pretty damn expansive, with regular pizza, white pizza, risotto, burgers, salad and so much more. The prices are a bit on the high side, but the portions are pretty large. I would generally say one plate between two people is the right amount. I love the drinks menu because of the excellent wine and beer range. Yes even their beer range is great. Typically I opt for a simple Riesling with my food, or a really good fruity White, coz I love my white wine. Dad went for a peroni, and I must say I did like it.

Alright onto the part that you really want to hear about. The food.

20170216_202016

We started our meal with the Tomato Brushcetta Pizza Crust, as an entree. Dad in paricular loves this one because it’s delicious and fresh. There is fresh tomato, basil and onion which have been rested in their own juices with some salt and pepper ofc. It’s such a simple combination, but it is a bang on winner. The garlic crust this was served on was wonderfully thin, with a thick but soft crust. The juices of the bruschetta softens the crust down so much… love it. In saying this however, this is something you can easily do at home, so for the price you are paying I would like to see something more original and extravagant. Even a hint of balsamic would have elevated this to another level.

20170216_202805

Next up we ordered the Penne Vegetarian. This was a delicious pasta in a magnificent basil sauce with eggplant, sundried tomatos, olives, zucchini and capsicum. I love it when pasta is loaded with rich vegetables, and this was just that. The sauce was a stand-out really, and in fact paired as a tasty sauce for the left over crusts from our pizza. The pasta was cooked perfectly, and so were the vegetables. I certainly would recommend this one for any vegetarians out there.

20170216_203236

This was followed by our next main -the ferrara pizza. This I absolutely loved. There was onion, capsicum, olives and the crust was so excellent. You could taste the light smokiness of the wood fire oven on it, which is just another added taste element. The only downside to this one was that it had cooled down a little before it came to our table. We could actually see our pizza on the counter waiting to be delivered to us. This was a bit of a bummer, but the pizza itself was great. On top of that, look at the large crust! This wasn’t a huge deal for us, since we did dip the crust in the leftover pasta sauce, but considering the price, I would have like to see more topping and less bread.

20170216_210036

And we did decide to grab some dessert too. We opted for the 3 scoop gelato, choosing salted caramel, lemon sorbet and cookies and cream (seriously how cute is the serving!!). The cookies and cream was PHENOMENAL. Truly it was so creamy and decadent, with chunks of little cookies scattered in the scoops. Each little chunk was a different size, and portion, so it added a great dimension of texture to the ice cream. The salted caramel was true bliss in a scoop and was finished by my sister in a jiffy. The least liked was the lemon sorbet, mainly because it tasted more like an icy pole than anything else!

Okay time to rank.

Food: 6.5/10

I’ve taken points off because of the brushetta and the pizza. The un-originality of the former, along with the price of it was a let down. As I mentioned above, I would have liked more of the topping than the crust that we got. Also the lemon sorbet gelato, well I didn’t really like it all that much.

Service: 5/10

This is really the let down. I understand busy, but having to wait over 10 minutes to even catch someone’s eye for the bill, did bug me. Oh and the bill was just given to us – a piece of paper. No book or anything!

Ambiance: 9/10

Apart from all the biking gear, which you actually lose focus on within 10 minutes, the ambiance is lovely and cozy.

The menu: 8/10

The menu has a number of items, but I would love to see some more original recipes.

Total: 7/10

Would I go back? Well yes. I’ve actually always had really good experiences at Criniti’s!

20170216_201659

Valentine’s Day Cupcakes!!

So it happens to be Valentine’s day, and well I spent it shopping. Literally, shopped alone for a few hours… spent some moolah… and came home. Sounds sad? No it was actually really good. I got myself some new work clothes and shoes and some bits and bobs for The Miniature Kitchen ofc :P. Oh well, for those looking for a delicious and fun recipe to celebrate with your Valentine… here is a simple one ๐Ÿ˜€

So these are chocolate cupcakes, made with some yogurt for added amazingness, filled with some more chocolate and sweet raspberries. The frosting? How could I give up creamy and rich raspberry and cream cheese ๐Ÿ˜€ Yum yum yum yum yum.

20170214_211257

Now this recipe is tweaked fromย http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2015/02/11/chocolate-cupcakes-creamy-raspberry-frosting/ – this site is definitely my inspiration when it comes to baking. The main changes? The frosting, the amount of oil used and instead of the buttermilk I made 1/4 of a coconut milk and yogurt mixture. I just love the flavours of coconut and chocolate together, and when combined with raspberry… I think it is just heaven!

TO Sally, thank you for being such an amazing inspiration when it comes to baking. I love each and every one of your recipes. I love trying them out and I love trying out something new each time with them.

Alright, so some key points here.

  1. the egg MUST be at room temperature!
  2. the milk MUST be at room temperature
  3. you CAN use both frozen or fresh raspberries ๐Ÿ™‚

Now based off the quantities, you should make 6-8 big cupcakes

20170214_143647.jpg

Real talk – the first time I made this I messed them up pretty bad! I took the quantities down wrong *sigh*

Can you use strawberries instead? Ofc ๐Ÿ˜€

valentines-cupcakes

So now to talk about the frosting.

20170214_170829

I didn’t use the recipe that Sally lists, and instead made my own version of a raspberry frosting using cream cheese (yumyum). The recipe is simple, and to be honest I usually taste and go when it comes to fresh fruit in frosting. This is mainly because the sweetness will always vary between fruit, season and batch! Now you can skip the milk in this recipe if your cream cheese is really soft and smooth, but if it’s fresh and thick then the milk will just help you achieve a silky consistency.

I used left over white chocolate ganache in this recipe to boost the creamy texture and add just a hint of luxury to this mixture. This is TOTALLY optional and if you want to add it you MUST add white chocolate ganache, otherwise you won’t end up with pretty pink frosting.

raspberry-frosting

And that is that!! This recipe doesn’t take long at all, there aren’t a million and one steps, and it’s pretty fool proof as long as you follow the recipe ๐Ÿ™‚ I mean if I can do it, you can. Trust me. Baking and me are not good friends ๐Ÿ˜›

20170214_211226.jpg