Archive for August, 2007

Otto Ristorante, Woolloomooloo

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

I finally got to try this Sydney icon Italian Restaurant idyllically located a stone’s throw from Russell Crowe’s apartment on Cowper Wharf Road (a.k.a. the finger wharf) in Woolloomooloo (bonus points if you can spell it without looking!).  It’s a Sydney institution and a highly sought after booking - evidenced by the hoards of good looking people dining there at the same time as us.   (Former) owner Alan Jones cruised in halfway through our meal somewhat unnoticed – I’m afraid he’s going to take a back seat to the food.  I had the scallops for my entree – four plump scallops, seared and served on a bed of white asparagus puree, with fennel and blood oranges scattered across, drizzled with a Campari and blood orange dressing.  The wagyu carpaccio with truffle dressing, baby capers and rocket looked a work of art too good to eat – wafer thin slicse of tender beef spread over the plate with maximum visual appeal. 

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I have learned my lesson not to do entree and main with pasta as my entree, so I had an entree sized pasta as my main in order to fit in dessert. Again my favourite scallops spaghettini, spanner crab meat, lemon in a sauce of shellfish tomato brodo.  Personally I would have preferred a sauce that was either more saucy or more dressing like. This was in between like a broth, which certainly was tasty though!  I didn’t try the duck breast stuffed with apple, walnuts and wrapped in proscuitto came also with the leg – fall off the bone meat, in a rich jus on a bed of sauteed red cabbage.

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I can’t decide what was the highlight – my entree or my dessert!  I couldn’t go past the warm Valrohna chocolate pudding with honey comb ice cream – a cakey crust that oozed the liquid gold – into the other gold – the shards of honeycomb and the (slightly melted) scoop of honey comb ice cream – amazing. Not good for the diet, cholesterol, blood sugar or any other health indicator!

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The rustic looking rhubarb crumble tart was served on its own with your waiter dramatically drizzling the syrup on top to finish – well neither of us could finish our desserts due to their huge servings, but contentedly sat back to enjoy the people watching which comes for free.

 Otto Ristorante, Area 8, 6 Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomooloo


Going down south (Gerringong)

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

The August 2006 issue of delicious magazine had a guide on Illawarra and Wollongong which was the inspiration for an overnight stay and drive down to the BellaChara resort and spa down in Gerringong (10mins from Kiama).   We stopped for devonshire tea (as is compulsory for any country drive!) in the historic terraces in Kiama.  Really friendly owners who insisted on remaking my mocha when my elbow accidentally knocked it.  Perfect country-style home-made scones too ($4.50 for 2).  Nearby, we visited the Crooked River Winery, where we picked up some white port and some delicious olive oil (which I’ve been having with woodfired bread).

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We were lucky enough to be staying on a Sunday night for Bella Bake – a set $25 three course roast dinner (with entree and dessert) – a bargain!! More so by the fact that the chef is formerly of MG Garage, est and Level 41!  The restaurant is a trendy dim room with a lounge area sectioning off both sides of the room, and a large communal bar table which also serves as the buffet table for breakfast.  Entree for that day was a ham and barley soup – which came with a warmed bread roll (which required prompting as the staff were run off their feet that night).  It was hearty and extremely filling – and probably would suffice me for dinner on its own!  The smokey ham pieces had shredded spinach (or some green vegetable) in it; and was thick with barley.   For the main, roast of the day was lamb, which I don’t like, so I opted for the alternate, the barramundi with a lemon butter sauce.  Both came with a mezzaluna of baked sweet Jap pumpkin, green beas, sweet potato and chat potato.

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And finishing off with the pear tart (sliced pear baked on piece of puff pastry, with a dollop of creme fraiche and caramel sauce).  Very full indeed but with not much to do except hire a video from the reception and watch it in bed on their 60inc (?) plasma screens in the room. 

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The next day, the promised continental breakfast turned out to be a buffet – YUM, with hot selection of crispy bacon, scrambled eggs, thick and sweet French toast (which I ate with the fruit compote designated for the yoghurt), and garlic mushrooms.

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Pastries were croissants, danishes and pain au chocolat, as well as all you can eat banana bread and tomatoes with cheese (served cold).  Four different types of bread were self toasted; and juices were apple and orange.  Obviously, I had to leave self control at home because I’m on holidays right??

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Orechiette with pancetta, aged pecorino and peas

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

orechiette.jpgI found this recipe in the August 2006 issue of delicious magazine, by Sean Moran. The pasta is special as it’s imported from Italy (I got it at Cafe Viscontini), as well as being part of my birthday gift :)




Good Living Grower’s Market, Pyrmont

Saturday, August 11th, 2007

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You’ve got to be an early riser or a very dedicated foodie to make the monthly Good Living Grower’s Market.  It’s only open from 7 to 11am on the first Saturday of every month. Our efforts were well worth it as it was a sunny and unseasonally warm August morning, and the glimmer of the sun on the ocean front spot in front of the casino provided the perfect setting to spend the morning.  There are around 85 stalls with fresh produce straight from the growers; artisan bakeries selling their wares;

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Even herbs and plants available – I bought a 50cm chilli plant for only $7 – brimming with baby chillis ready to be nurtured.

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A honey stand provided some sweet tastings for the morning – but the main reason why I was here was to eat breakky.  Popular stands include fresh (huge) pancakes cooked to order; wagyu beef steaks; indian samosas, and for me today – “confused eggs with bacon” – that is, BBQ cooked scrambled egg omelette served with crispy bacon, caramelised onions on a roll with rocket and the secret creole BBQ sauce ($5).

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OMG it was so good – I didn’t even pick off the fat as I would normally – the sticky sweet BBQ sauce providing a pleasing tangy sweet finish.  No wonder why the queue is always so long!! Some freshly squeezed organic blood orange juice ($4) to wash it all down.

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Or, if you’re in a rush, buy some fizzy organic juice to go.  And of course, organic vege stalls (such as the one selling freshly picked parsnips) about.  Also popular is Toby’s Estate coffee – but I’m not a coffee drinker.  See you there next month?