The Newport, Newport

The Newport Arms was always a great place to meet some friends on a Summer weekend and pass a few hours having a chat and a drink.  But there was no doubt it was looking a little tired.  Enter Merivale who have now taken it over (and dropped the “Arms” from the name) and are gradually refurbishing it, with the first stage opening recently. Its a similar concept to Coogee Pavilion, but on a much larger scale, more outdoor space, and that great view over the water. A grey day and coolish day doesn’t stop the crowds from descending; a live band is playing and the atmosphere is relaxed as it ever was.

You’ll need to go with some friends so you can take a divide-and-conquer approach to the food ordering, as its all at separate counters.  There’s The Shack (burgers, fish and chips, salads), Vinnie’s (Pizza), The Kiosk (rotisserie and meats), and The Seafood Market (self explanatory, and they were doing a roaring trade in buckets of fresh prawns and oyster platters).  In the children’s play area you can also grab a coffee and some treats, or a freshly made juice from The Juice Bar nearby.  Thankfully you’ll find a map on the menu to help you out

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Justin Hemme’s was in the kitchen at The Shack that day, not quite flipping burgers but busy at the pass making sure all was running smoothly and calling orders.  And if I’d spent a rumoured $50 million on a site, I’d be doing the same.  Whoever trains his staff though, is worth their weight in gold.  As it started to sprinkle, staff members immediately appeared with bunches of logo’d blue umbrellas, so people wouldn’t get wet while queuing for food.  Others appeared with squeegies, getting water off all the outdoor tables.  It was pretty slick for something that had only been open a few weeks.

The food was tasty and crowd pleasing.  The pizza and the salt and pepper squid were definitely among the highlights.  Burgers looked good but smallish for the price, add a snack of wings to the order as well if you’re going down that route.

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There is a small parking lot (I expect it will be bigger once the full site is complete), but there are also shuttle buses from Manly. Thoughtful lot, aren’t they?

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The Newport, 2 Kalinya Street, Newport
http://merivale.com.au/thenewport

Newport Arms Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sicilian Baked Eggplant

There are a few people somewhat partial to eggplant in the Napoli household, so I’m often on the lookout for new things to do with it.  I first saw this recipe on Please Pass the Recipe, who in turn saw it on the Dish Magazine website.  I thought it sounded delicious, but I put my own spin on it and did it slightly differently (other versions used honey, capers and yoghurt), so perhaps I should name it Calabrese Baked Eggplant.  This one’s a keeper.

Ingredients
2 large eggplants
12 cherry tomatoes, halved and lightly seasoned
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon brown sugar
30g pine nuts
175g ricotta

To serve
1 cup roughly torn basil
Zest of one lemon

Making it
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C fan forced. Line a baking dish with baking paper

Cut the eggplants in half, keeping the stem. Then cut each half into 4-5 slices (will depend on the size of your eggplant), once again keeping the stem intact, and fan out the slices. Lay them on your baking tray.

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Combine the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar and whisk until the sugar and salt is dissolved. Spoon or brush it onto the eggplant, ensuring it gets between the layers. Scatter over the cherry tomoatoes.

Bake for one hour, basting with juices every 15 minutes. I found a pastry brush was the easiest way to do this (there won’t be much juice at the first 15 minute mark). After you do the 30 minute basting, sprinkle over the pine nuts and dot the ricotta over the eggplant and return to the oven.

After an hour, switch off the oven and allow to sit in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle over the basil and lemon zest. Serve with crusty bread and a green salad. Buonissimo.

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In My Mother’s Day Kitchen, May 2016

In my kitchen this morning are these lovely Mother’s Day coupons from my darling boys.  Happy Mother’s Day to many deserving women around the world!

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New to my kitchen this month is this antique bell, hailing from the early 1900’s, just a little younger than the home it now resides in.  In our previous modern cube of a house, I could tell where everyone was and it was easy to summon them for dinner, for a hand, for a chat.  In our “new” home with its thick stone walls and sprawling surrounds it is nearly impossible, and I go wandering around to find them.  Enter said bell. It works a treat.

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In yet another sign that we were meant to embark on this crazy adventure of restoring this grand old beauty, the day after the bell arrived, I found a note it our letterbox.  It was a welcome note from a nearby neighbour we hadn’t yet met.  A bit of an historian, it contained a  write up of the house she had done several decades ago, detailing some of its features and history. She thought we might like to see it – aren’t people kind? But the bit that made my smile in particular was this:

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This month I road tested the Valek rolling pin I got last month, and made some shortbread. So pretty! I want to try it on this chocolate cookie recipe.

The oven I have here only has one baking tray, which makes it inefficient when making batches of biscuits. I was having trouble finding one that fit, and stumbled across this adjustable baking tray which solved the problem.

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I was surprised this month to see Callipo tuna at my local Coles.  Made in Italy in a factory close to Mamma Rosa’s village, it is in my opinion one of the best tunas around. Usually I only find it at the Italian deli’s I go to in the Inner West.  I wasn’t sure if this was a temporary product or not so I stocked up.  I used some to make these tuna patties.

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I had a chuckle last month when I read the IMK post by Nancy at Plus Ate Six on some of the useless kitchen gadgets she had accumulated over the years.  We’re all guilty of that.  I got rid of most of my seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time stuff in the move.  But the other day I was going through cupboards (I’ve been reading Marie Kondo) and came across this, still in its box, unused.  Surely a knife would have sufficed!

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In my kitchen are some metal straws. I first saw them at J&M bar and thought they were cool. But they are also better for the environment and apparently better for you than the cheapie plastic ones.  The boys are going through a straw phase at the moment so thought I’d get some.

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On a domestic flight recently I watched a couple of episodes of Simply Nigella.  She made this delicious looking dish with squid and risoni, and while the recipe was fresh in my head I thought I’d give it a go.  The Marito loved it.

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Today is a day where mothers are praised and adored. My Mamma Rosa, an incredibly selfless and generous woman, deserves plenty of it year round. In my kitchen are a batch of fresh tagliatelle she made for us. Grazie Mamma, today and always.

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I hope you are having a lovely time in your kitchen, take a peek into kitchens around the world in this monthly link up hosted by Maureen at Orgasmic Chef.

Salt Meats Cheese & Harris Farm, Drummoyne

A few months ago, Salt Meats Cheese and Harris Farm joined forces and opened up in Drummoyne.

I love the layout. There’s all the fresh fruit and vegetables and grocery items you’d normally find at Harris farm (and probably a few extra, given the size)

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…a fresh seafood counter, which includes and oyster bar where you can sit and eat oysters as well as prawns and sashimi.

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…a Hudsons meats

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…and fresh flowers

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In one section of the store is Salt Meats Cheese, where you’ll find charcuterie, cheeses (I love their buffalo mozzarella), pizza and pasta, which you can eat in or takeaway. There’s also gelato, sweets and a coffee counter.

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With everything under one roof, and great quality produce to boot, I’ve been making the most of it, and judging by the crowds, so has everyone else.

Salt Meats Cheese & Harris Farm, Victoria Road, Drummoyne

 

Salt Meats Cheese Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuna patties

These meaty-but-not-meat patties are a favourite of the vegacquarian in my life. The patties can be prepared ahead and kept in the fridge until cooking.

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Ingredients
500g potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 red capsicum, finely diced
480g tinned tuna in olive oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Olive oil for frying
To coat
1/2 cup plain flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup breadcrumbes

Making them
1. Peel the potatoes, boil until tender, transfer to a bowl and mash
2. Meanwhile, place the oil, onion, capsicum and a pinch of salt in a fry pan and saute on low to medium heat until softened. Add to the potatoes, season with salt and pepper, and combine.  Allow to cool slightly.
3. Drain tuna well then flake and add to bowl along with egg and parsley. Combine well.
4. Divide the mixture into eight equal portions and then shape into patties. To coat, set up three bowls, one with flour, one with egg, one with breadcrumb. Coat each patty in flour, then with egg, then with bread crumbs, patting firmly after the breadcrumbs. Refrigerate for at least half an hour, then fry in oil and combine with your favourite burger ingredients!

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Kensington Street Social, Chippendale

Kensington Street in Chippendale for a good while was rather derelict and abandoned. Now bought to life, the stone paved street is home to a string of unique eateries, among them Spice Alley, Automata and Bistro Gavroche.  Today we’re visiting Kensington Street Social, whose concept and menu was put together by British chef Jason Atherton.  Atherton has a number of “Socials” around the world – Pollen Street Social in London,  Aberdeen Street Social in Hong Kong, Marina Social in Dubai – you get the drift.    Now his talent has landed in Inner Sydney, and though he no longer personally presides over the hot plates, those left in his wake know what they are doing.

It was the service that let them down a little that day.  Somewhat neglected in our corner and with staff seemingly not communicating with each other (“has no one explained the menu yet?”), and the food was slowish to arrive.  And though they knew we were sharing everything, no serving cutlery was provided, other than a knife for the first dish.  Small things, early days, I’m sure it will all come good in the competitive Sydney restaurant game.

Eventually we get our hands on some cocktails. Fun, playful, clever, delicious.

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We start off with the vine tomato which comes with Vannella burrata, 25 year aged balsamic vinegar, and a size of tomato seasoning.  Absolutely gorgeous, it looks like a forbidden fruit and is a pleasure to eat.

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I love the freshness of the garden pea salad – an assemblage of snow peas, sugar snaps and pea tendrils – and keep going back for more.

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The tataki Hiramasa kingfish falls into the nondescript “nice” category and is much better done at many quality Sydney Japanese establishments.

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The spanner crab comes with a refreshing frozen cucumber gazpacho and, interestingly, rhubarb. It works.

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Next up is the crispy skin mulloway with pippies (just two so it can be plural on the menu) and baked potato.  Pleasant but standard mod Oz fare.

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The roast marron tail with curry butter on the other hand I would rather not have shared.

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For our iron hit we finish with a couple of meat dishes.  The first is a juicy wagyu rib eye,  with miso butterscotch and eggplant. The eggplant is delicious.

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And finally a modern take on the Sunday roast – lamb rack and braised shoulder, with a cauliflower couscous.

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I could have happily fit in dessert, but as I said it was pretty slow and we ran out of time. But it is indeed a pretty cool space to get social in.

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Kensington Street Social, 3 Kensington Street Chippendale, Ph
(02) 8277 8533
http://kensingtonstreetsocial.com/

Kensington Street Social Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Whole roasted cauliflower

This is one of Neil Perry’s recipes that originally appeared in the weekend paper. It is great to serve as a side dish and very easy to prepare.  The first time I made it I thought it could do with more dressing, so I upped the quantities the second time, my quantities are below.  The next time I’ll also throw some lightly toasted pine nuts in for a little texture.

cauliflower

Ingredients
1 head cauliflower
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Put oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 220°C.
Lightly oil a baking dish that will fit the cauliflower and trim off the leaves. Trim the base of the stalk so it is flat and cauliflower can stand upright, then cut a cross into its base (this apparently helps it cook evenly).

Drizzle the olive oil over the top of cauliflower and sprinkle with the salt. Bake cauliflower until tender, about one hour. Check by piercing the cauliflower with a paring knife, which should go through easily.

While the cauliflower is roasting prepare the dressing.

Dressing
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp salted baby capers, rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley leaves

Whisk together lemon juice, mustard, capers, parsley and salt in a small bowl, then whisk in the olive oil.

Drizzle cauliflower with dressing and serve whole with a large serving spoon.