Monthly Archives: October 2013

Sprinkles Cupcakes, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles

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A long overdue post. When we were in Beverly Hills in July, we stopped by Sprinkles just off Rodeo Drive. They have a dozen or so flavours on any given day, plus a vegan and gluten free option, and a daily doggie cupcake. We tried a vanilla, a milk chocolate, and a salted caramel, the last being a special for the month of July only. At $3.50, Sprinkles is a great little sweet treat pit stop (and probably the cheapest thing you’ll find in a one mile radius of Rodeo Drive).

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They were some of the most moist cupcakes I have ever had, just delicious, and not too much icing. I prefer these to New York’s famed Magnolia Bakery. If you want to have a go at making them yourself, they sell the mixture. (You can buy it in Sydney now at Williams and Sonoma).

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Or, if there’s a queue, which is often the case, there is a Cupcake ATM outside the store!

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Sprinkles Cupcakes, 9635 S Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Ph (310) 274-8765
http://www.sprinkles.com/

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Breakfast @ Centennial Parklands Cafe

Space. There are times when, in our busy lives and often confined living quarters, we crave it. So what better place to find it in a cafe in Centennial Park. If the urge comes upon you to run in the field and relish the open air before or after your meal, you can go for it. Or you can sit lazily on the deck and bask in the sun, while your kids play on the nearby equipment.

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The menu has all the usual things you’d expect to find for breakfast – eggs, toast, museli, pancakes. We opt for the buttermilk pancakes – they are huge, and very good.

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Likewise, the omlette with chorizo and mushrooms was tasty, with some good quality bread with nice charring (The Grounds please note TWO slices of bread!), but I did think the price was a little punchy at $22.

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Kiddies stuff, like this toastie, prices at $7 which is very reasonable.

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The coffee was also well made. It does get very noisy inside, so you might prefer a table on the deck. And you can even BOOK a table, if you don’t feel like waiting in a queue for half a day. I saw a few tables for larger groups, so if you’ve got a bit of a crowd, it’s a good option, even if slightly more expensive than the better known breakfast haunts.

Centennial Parklands Café, Grand Drive, Centennial Park, Ph 02 9380 9350 http://www.trippaswhitegroup.com.au/our-venues/Centennial-Parklands-Dining/4

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Today’s cake – Orange Ricotta Tart

I love all things ricotta and Grand Manier in desserts so I thought I’d give this Neil Perry recipe that appeared in yesterday’s paper a go. A really good pastry and easy to make, whipped it up this morning before we headed out to brunch.

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Ingredients
Pastry

350g plain flour
250g cold unsalted butter, cubed
60g caster sugar
1 egg yolk, lighty whisked, with 30g water

Filling
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
250g ricotta
75g icing sugar
Finely grated zest of one orange
1 tbsp Grand Manier
125ml double cream

Making it
1. Lightly grease a 25cm tart pan with a removable base

2. For pastry, process flour, butter and sugar in a food processor until it resembles bread crumbs. Add the egg yolk and water and process until the mixture just comes together. Form the mixture into a ball with your hands, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes

3. Roll out the pastry onto a lightly floured surface (I find it works better rolled out on baking paper) to 5mm thick. Line the tart pan and trim the edges. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

4. Prehead oven to 180 degrees. Cover pastry case with baking paper and fill with baking weights. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, remove weights and set aside.

5. Meanwhile, make filling. Place egg, egg yolk, ricotta, sugar, orange zest and Grand Manier in a bowl and combine well. In a separate bowl, whip the cream in a small bowl with an electric mixer on high until soft peaks form. Fold the cream into the ricotta mixture then spoon into tart case.

6. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Allow tart to cool on a wire rack. Serve with double cream if desired.

Pottery Green Bakers (with a side of pho), Lane Cove

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My local little homestyle bakery, the kids are pretty partial to the cupcakes and gingerbread men; you’ll also find meringues, lamingtons, and plenty of other sweet treats as well as pies, quiches and sausage rolls if you’re after something savoury, and of course a selection of bread. Me, I’m a fan of their oversized sultana scones – light and not too sweet.

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Keeping true to their Vietnamese roots, the Tran family have introduced beef and chicken pho to the menu, $12. Pho at a bakery? Well, why not. Its a generous, steaming bowl, with plenty of fresh herbs and chilli sauce on the side for extra heat. The broth isn’t as flavoursome as other pho I’ve had, and the chicken is a little tough, but its a filling meal; I notice most people order the beef version, so maybe this is the better of the two.

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The better pick in my mind is the Vietnamese Pork Roll ($8). Cased in a crunchy bread roll, its packed with a generous amount of salad with a tangy dressing, and worth a try.

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Pottery Green Bakers, 112 Longueville Road, Lane Cove, Ph 02 9420 4793
Pottery Green Bakers on Urbanspoon

Palace Chinese – CBD Yum Cha, Sydney

It was Friday. We’d been working hard. It was time for some team yum cha. If you don’t want to go all the way to Chinatown, in the city you go to Palace (no, I don’t like Sky Phoenix, my experiences there have been average,  it’s only advantage is that you can book, and skip the inevitable queue you’ll encounter at Palace).

A small space compared to the Chinatown behemoths, I’m a big fan of its dumplings, salt and pepper squid, and also the rice noodle dishes, especially the rice noodle with barbecue pork (top picture). Plus there’s the added advantage of it being quick when your famished, and cheap when you’re not flush with funds. I do think its always best to go to yum cha early, at 11.30-12.00pm, when the food is the freshest (and if you go later you will undoubtedly have to queue). It also has to end with an obligatory serve of mango pancakes, though I’m a big fan of their mango sago.

Chi fan!

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031032028

034036039Palace Chinese, Level 1, 133-145 Castlereagh St, Sydney, Ph (02) 9283 6288
http://www.palacechinese.com.au/

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Today’s Cake – Maple Pear and Pecan Cake

Delicious little cakes.  Makes 16.

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Ingredients
175g butter
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk, extra
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup grated pear
16 pecan halves, to decorate

Making it
1. Preheat oven to 160C. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until pale and creamy.

2. Add the vanilla bean paste, eggs and extra yolk and beat well to combine. Add flour, baking powder and maple syrup and beat until just combined.

3. Fold through the pecans and pear.

4. Spoon into baking cups and top cakes with a pecan half. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.

Bistecca, Abbotsford

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You’ve got to love the suburban local. There are times when you just don’t want to grapple with the city, or tear your hair out looking for parking in Newtown. So I’m sure the locals of Abbotsford and surrounds were glad when they could stroll up to Bistecca.

004Bistecca means ‘steak’ in Italian, so there’s no doubt what is the star of the show. The attractively fitted out space (there’s that distressed brick wall look again) has a wall depicting cuts of meat, and there’s a glass cabinet with chunks of the fresh stuff. We eye a whole pig roasting on a spit, which they do for groups with an advance order, and wished there was a few more of us. Funnily enough, though, none of us felt like a big piece of protein that night, it was cool and we wanted to carb up. On this front, our experience was a bit mixed. Those that run the kitchen need a little finessing on technique – a little more cooking here, a little less salt there, small things that would take it from decent to great.

Carciofi Ripieni – baked artichokes filled with breadcrumbs and mint. I loved the breadcrumb and mint sauce, but the artichoke either needed another layer taken off or it needed more cooking. Otherwise it would have been an awesome dish.

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Calamari Fritti – lightly fried calamari served with a homemade aioli. Generous amount of calamari, but such a tiny amount of aioli to go with it!

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Pizza porcini – with mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, porcini mushrooms, truffle oil. A decent enough pizza, good crust and flavoursome.

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Mezzaluna all anatra – moon shape pasta filled with duck ragu. Beautiful duck ragu, but the pasta was chewy and a very salty sauce.

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Pappardelle con porcini e ragu di osso buco. Again a little salty side.

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Taglioni ai frutta di mara – pasta cooked with a mixture of seafood and cherry tomatoes, well flavoured. A generous amount of seafood. On both pasta dishes though the presentation needed a little bit of work – a nice simple pasta swirl would have made it look much more appealing.

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Campari poached pear with zabaglione. Nice combo, but what was with the kiwi fruit – out of place.

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Vanilla Panna cotta – good consistency and a generous size.

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Should we come again, I think we’d go with trying the namesake. Or maybe rustle up a few friends and try that whole roast pig.

Bistecca, 565 Great North Rd, Abbotsford Ph (02) 9713 1773

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