Adelaide: Foodie mecca and top wine destination!

Adelaide Central Market

Adelaide has one of the best food markets in Australia with the Adelaide Central Market. I’ve always been very impressed with the amount of fine fresh local produce there. There’s all sorts of artisanal products like farm-to-table speciality deli meat and craft bakeries producing delicious bread.

Wild Loaf

I even brought home a whole 1 kg loaf of fig and walnut sourdough bread when I was last there! This is from Wild Loaf by James & Emanuel Katsarelias and they’re renowned for their handmade artisan sour dough range.

Lucia Fine Foods

Lucia’s Fine Foods is one of the most popular coffee houses in the Central Market and I had a very nice chai latte while I was there. It’s one of the places you must visit when you’re in Adelaide, just sit and relax with a brew in hand while people watching (and there’s no shortage of that for the Central Market is vibrant and packed with visitors).

Barossa Gourmet Weekend

However, if you’re the sort who prefers a nice glass of wine and you’re going to South Australia this year, you’re in luck! The Barossa Gourmet Weekend is going to be held on the 14-16 August 2015 and it’s located in the world famous Barossa Valley. This is an amazing opportunity to enjoy Barossa wines matched with food from Adelaide’s leading restaurants at cellar door events throughout the Barossa.

Barossa Gourmet

There will also be “Winery Days” where you can enjoy world renowned wines, fresh produce and live entertainment (as well as a good dose of Barossa hospitality). If you’re looking to visit the Barossa Valley, keep this in mind as this will be the absolute best time to go – there will be events every single day, including long lunches and dinners, cooking classes and wine master classes showcasing the best of the Barossa.

Winery Days

If fine local Barossa wine and decadent degustation menus are your thing, you have to make it down to the Barossa Valley in the third week of August to see what’s what. Check out barossagourmet.com for more information before you head off to this celebration of wine, food and life!

Chai Latte

I’ve also had the pleasure of walking down Gouger Street, which is one of the most well known eating streets in Australia (kinda like how Hardware Lane in Melbourne is to cafes and weekend brunches). Unfortunately, I only managed to have one meal there as my visit time was limited but I’ll like to go again since there are so many restaurants offering modern Australian cuisine there.

Gouger Street

Adelaide has seen an explosion of fine restaurants as the Australian Good Food & Travel Guide (Australia’s answer to the Michelin Red Book, without the politics) illustrates. One restaurant I’ve always wanted to try is Magill Estate. It’s helmed by chef Scott Huggins who used to work at Tokyo’s three Michelin-starred Nihonryori Ryugin. It offers an 7 course degustation menu for AUD 425 (with the Icon and Luxury wine pairing option, which features Penfolds best vintages) and it’s located at the home of Penfolds.

Magill Estate

Unfortunately, it was closed for renovations at the time but I’ll be sure to make one before I go next time. It’s one of the best restaurants in South Australia and a look at their 2015 Seasonal Menu offers a peek at the simple contemporary Australian food philosophy they have – “Partridge, Jamon, Last years pickled peach”. It’s definitely a must visit if you’re heading to Penfolds. I’ll go again just to eat at their showcase restaurant.

Polenta

That’s just one of many examples that the food revolution that’s swept Australia, in part due to TV shows like MasterChef Australia. Andre Ursini (Season 3 finalist) opened an award winning restaurant in Adelaide called Andre’s Cucina & Polenta Bar that I’ll love to visit again. It has a “Consigli” menu written on the board with daily specials that’s mouth-watering to read and I couldn’t try more than one main last time I was there!

Artisan Cheese

I’ve always considered food as an important part of travel and you won’t go wrong by ensuring your travel plans are in sync with Tasting Australia. It’s Australia’s premium eating and drinking festival and it’s been around for more than fifteen years! This biennial event will be held next in 2016 and it’s the perfect time for foodies to go.

Tasting Australia

There was more than 80 free and ticketed events over the course of eight days in the CBD and Tasting Australia is perfect for travelling foodies to enjoy and learn more about food and wine right in the heart of Adelaide. I’m really excited about this and I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it before! I would really love to go back to South Australia just for the chance to attend the various Tasting Australia events.

It’s going to be an annual festival starting from Tasting Australia 2016 so if you’re planning to go next year, find out the dates from the Tasting Australia website.

Australian Cuisine

There’s just so much to eat, drink and do in Adelaide that planning in advance can be part of the fun too! I’ve always enjoyed browsing potential festivals, events, restaurants and wineries and talking about it with my better half before we actually go on a trip and southaustralia.com offers plenty of good food and wine, in addition to amazing festivals dedicated to cuisine and vin. You’ll love the festival scene in Adelaide if you’re a true foodie!

Dolphins, Adelaide Hills and the beauty of South Australia

Wine Tasting South Australia

I was first introduced to the charms of South Australia when I was studying in Australia. I was based in Melbourne then and Adelaide was just a short 8 hour drive away. I didn’t think there was much to do there at first, but I was seduced by the sheer beauty of South Australia and loved it so much that I went back again 3 years ago.

Barossa Valley

I love food and wine and the latter is very abundant here. South Australia is home to Penfold’s and Jacob’s Creek! You can have wine tastings all day long and even if you’re not studying to become a Master Sommelier – if you truly are a foodie, you’ll love wine country. That alone is worth a trip here.

Wine Tour South Australia

I shall not bore you with details like how Adelaide has free transportation throughout the city – let that be a pleasant surprise when you come here. Chances are, you’re not going to stay in the CBD much anyway – most of the attractions are just a short distance away and I sure hope you didn’t come to South Australia to shop (nothing wrong with that, there’s just better things to do).

South Australia

Like I said earlier, you’ll not be disappointed with what South Australia has to offer in terms of wine tours. There are 18 wine regions in the state alone! Yup, I got that figure from a brochure but you have to admit it’s pretty amazing. I’ve been to wine tours and tastings in Adelaide Hills, Clare Valley, and Barossa. The Barossa Valley is said to have the world’s best Shiraz. Make sure to take some time to cycle along the Riesling Trail at Clare Valley, it’s truly a wine lover’s paradise and it’s the best way to get to the next flight of wines!

South Australia View

Of course, there are other things to do besides wine tours. Adelaide has a warmth and “smaller city” vibe which you can feel from the locals. People are generally less hurried and more helpful. I have a lot of friends who loved it so much that they stayed on and started families there. It’s also home to the World’s Biggest Rocking Horse! :)

World Biggest Rocking Horse

I’m not kidding, you can actually climb up and enjoy the fantastic view from the Horse’s head. I was told that in the past, the Horse was used as a lookout by the local South Australian Country Fire Service! It’s located in Adelaide Hills and is also home to The Toy Factory (largest in Australia) and a park and picnic area which have animals from kangaroos and wallabies to alpacas (the ones that look like llamas) to emus.

I also visited Hahndorf, a small town in the Adelaide Hills region. It’s a very beautiful place which has a strong German heritage – someone asked me at a dinner recently about my favorite place in South Australia and I had to struggle to remember the name because it’s so unusual.

There are a lot of restaurants serving German food in Hahndorf and if you love architecture, the fachwerk timber construction and the old heritage buildings would make this place a priority on your itinerary. It’s the oldest surviving German settlement in Australia and art and culture enthusiasts would be spoiled by the museums and galleries in Hahndorf.

Horse Drawn Tram Tickets

Victor Harbor is another beautiful destination I wholeheartedly recommend in South Australia. It has some of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen in Australia. There’s something for everyone too – The Horsedrawn Tram takes passengers from the mainland using the wooden causeway to Granite Island every 20 minutes.

Victor Harbor Tram

Granite Island is where you can immerse yourself with a bit of nature and get some exercise done at the same time!

Kaiki Walk

I highly recommend you take the time to wear comfortable shoes and walk around the island – it’s worth your time and effort! The Kaiki Walk circumventing Granite Island take about 40 minutes and the various lookouts provide for beautiful scenes. Be sure to pack warm weather gear if you’re going in autumn though.

Victor Harbor Horsedrawn Tram

Eyre Peninsula is where nature aficionados would want to be – there’s everything from wildlife parks where you can see animals in their native environment. This is where I went swimming with the dolphins! It’s a really interesting once-in-a-lifetime experience that just cost AUD 150 (at the time). You can also spot sea lions! The dolphins are friendly and would come up and rub against you – this is perfectly normal behavior so don’t freak out. Dolphins are very social creatures and it was one of the highlights of my trip. Anyone can go – even if you can’t swim, since the provided wetsuits are naturally buoyant! It was a dream come true for me and my only regret is not having a waterproof camera. I strongly suggest you invest in one (even the disposable ones) if you go.

Dolphin Cruise

South Australia is also home to the popular Port River Dolphin Cruises. There are a few operators departing from this location and the best thing is that it’s just 20 minutes away from Adelaide CBD. You’re also guaranteed a dolphin sighting! I managed to see several pods of dolphins swim right up to our ship!

Dolphin Pod

The dolphins are very friendly and they’ll actually break the surf to try and be close to you. I loved the experience and I’m sure you’ll be charmed by our mammalian friends in the sea too!

Dolphins

South Australia is an often overlooked destination but to both the new and seasoned traveller it can offer up a lot of exciting experiences. There are direct flights to Adelaide from Kuala Lumpur and the best thing about the city is that it’s compact, with most attractions within close proximity of the CBD. Visit southaustralia.com for more details! Your Malaysian driving licence is valid in Australia too!

Adriano Zumbo Red Velvet Tim Tams mailed all the way from Australia!

a.k.a. The incredible Adriano Zumbo Red Velvet Tim Tams Australian adventure!

adriano zumbo red velvet tim tams

I had the first trio of Adriano Zumbo’s limited edition Tim Tams when I was in Sydney a couple of months back, and when I heard that he just did *another* collaboration with Arnott’s Tim Tams, I knew I had to get it mailed to me (at considerable expense).

red velvet cream cheese

The latest collaboration between pâtissier extraordinare Adriano Zumbo with Arnott’s is Red Velvet and it’s so delicious that words does not do it justice. It’s magnificent!

adraino zumbo red velvet

But first, I also want to tell you the story behind this rather interesting experiment. I have mailed various snacks back when I was studying in Australia and I know it can be done (without a cold bag) but I half expected the new Adriano Zumbo Red Velvet Tim Tams to be fully melted when I got it.

adriano zumbo new red velvet tim tams

I rallied my old friend Karen who’s living in Melbourne to mail these treasures to me, since I’ve left Australia and could not hand carry them on my return flight. I just had to have the latest Adriano Zumbo Tim Tams – I not only had the first set of three, I bought a whole lot of his Zumbarons back and we used his macaron baking kit too (post about that soon).

adraino zumbo red velvet australia

Karen is someone I’ve known for practically my entire life – we went to school together and we ever had a class play called Okana featuring her as the lead when we were 14. That was just before I left for New Zealand and we met up again when I was doing my college and uni in Melbourne. I remember celebrating her birthday in Dion (a nice Greek restaurant on Lonsdale St) before going to Moomba in 2003. I spent 5 years there – she never left!

Thus, I knew I could count on her and sent her some simple instructions on how to get the Tim Tams to me:

huai bin

smirk

Okay, maybe not that simple. Here’s her reply:

karen lau

Haha! In my defence, my better half is a huge fan of Adriano Zumbo too and I wanted it to arrive in mint condition so we can open it together. I was more than pleased – the way Karen packed the Tim Tams made them so structurally sound (due to the inner plastic tray stacking and resisting external pressures) that it not only arrived without breaking, the chocolate did not melt at all.

australia post

Thanks to Karen and David who took the trouble to get them and send it over with my simple complicated and excessively verbose instructions. :D

limited edition red velvet tim tams

I knew the Adriano Zumbo Red Velvet Tim Tams weighs 165 grams each from the Coles site. I thought I could get 5 of them (165 g x 5 = 825 g) into a box and still stay below 1 kg but it’s a good thing I didn’t push it and settled for 4 coz the weight came up to 0.912 kg!

There was no huge temperature fluctuations and I kept them in my permanently air-conditioned bedroom for several days before me and my dear opened the box.

limited edition red velvet

It was a very happy unboxing! The fact that I could eat the newest and latest Adriano Zumbo Red Velvet Tim Tams was more than awesome, we had looked forward to this package for a long time. I honestly didn’t expect it to taste great despite all the (good humored) baiting I got on Facebook since I expressed my interest from Cyd (another one of my ex-classmates).

How do the new Adriano Zumbo limited edition Red Velvet Tim Tams taste like?

My verdict on the taste:

red velvet tim tams

I didn’t think the Adriano Zumbo Red Velvet Tim Tams would taste this awesome. It’s honestly the best Tim Tams I have ever had! I’ve only really liked Salted Caramel out of his first collaboration trio and my favorite Tim Tam flavor was Turkish Delight (until now).

red velvet us

My better half says it tastes *exactly* like eating red velvet cake. I thought it was a cross between eating red velvet cake and a Tim Tam. Adriano Zumbo did well in this second collaboration – it surpasses the original triplet of limited edition Tim Tams. It’s rich, decadent and balanced well. The buttery red velvet Tim Tams pairs up with the cream cheese (!!!) center to produce an irresistible biscuit.

The new Red Velvet Tim Tams by Adriano Zumbo comes in the standard 9-biscuit pack, unlike the “Treat Pack only” (5-biscuit) format of his previous collaboration with Tim Tam.

adriano zumbo red velvet cream cheese

It’s really delicious and well worth the postage to get them here. I spent AUD 32.50 on postage and each pack of Adriano Zumbo Red Velvet Tim Tam retailed for AUD 3.49. That comes up to AUD 49.49 in total (or about RM 144). Thus, each pack cost me RM 36. That’s RM 4 per Tim Tam biscuit (!) but I’ll happily get a second batch over in a heartbeat. Don’t miss out if you ever see them around, the latest Arnott’s Tim Tams x Adriano Zumbo collaboration will blow you away with the velvety red velvet cake inspired Tim Tam with the buttery cream cheese center!

Adriano Zumbo limited edition Tim Tams

new adriano zumbo timtams

Adriano Zumbo has teamed up with Arnott’s Tim Tams to create three (3) beautiful new flavors for the 50th anniversary of Tim Tams. Yeah, it’s the iconic Tim Tams 50th birthday! I was quite chuffed when I read about this in the Coles blog – I had planned to get heaps of Adriano Zumbo macarons to bring back during my trip to Sydney earlier this year, and now I can get even more less-perishable items from the master pâtissier!

I’ve loved Tim Tams ever since I started studying in New Zealand when I was 15. It was my go-to snack when I was doing college and uni in Melbourne and I’ve always been on the lookout for new flavors. This is even better – it’s a collaboration between Arnott’s Tim Tams and Adriano Zumbo! I’m going to call them zumbotams. smirk

adriano zumbo tim tams

The three new limited edition flavors only comes in the Treat Pack (5 biscuits) format. It’s much smaller than the regular 9-biscuit pack and the new packaging was introduced not that long ago – I’ve seen the AUD 1.89 packs in our previous trip to Melbourne last year. I bought as much as I could stuff in my suitcase and brought it back home to eat with my better half. :)

The three limited edition Adriano Zumbo Tim Tam Flavors are:

Salted Caramel

Salted Caramel

This is my favorite out of the three. Adriano Zumbo’s Salted Caramel Tim Tams are deliciously done – it tastes quite salty, they definitely did not skimp on the salt here. You can immediately taste the fleur de sel as soon as you bite into it and the aftertaste it leaves is savory. This is a perfect Tim Tam for those who don’t really like sweets coz it comes off as more salty than sweet.

However, this can also be a problem for some people. My better half didn’t like this at all – too salty, she said. I did though, I enjoyed it tremendously! I’ve always liked salted caramel – so much so that I can’t eat regular caramel anymore, I’ll miss that salty bite and this limited edition Adriano Zumbo Tim Tam has that in spades.

Choc Brownie

Choc Brownie

My better half’s favorite flavor! It’s a chocolate brownie inspired Tim Tam and Adriano Zumbo has done well in making a Tim Tam taste like a brownie. Chocoholics would love this to bits – it’s a very sweet zumbotam. ;) It’s rich and thick!

I personally did not really like the combination of flavors – I felt it was a little too one dimensional. It’s sweet piled on top of sweet but everyone’s taste buds are different (which is why I like the savory salted caramel so much and gave all the Adriano Zumbo Choc Brownie Tim Tams to my dear) so this might be just the right amount of sucre for some.

Raspberry White Choc

Raspberry White Choc

Now this is one interesting flavor, and it’s the one most commonly seen in the Arnott’s Tim Tams x Adriano Zumbo collaboration. The Raspberry White Choc Tim Tam by Adriano Zumbo is coated with white chocolate and there’s a line of fruity raspberry compote filling inside the biscuit. I bit off the top bit and the bottom bit and did the Tim Tam Slam with it and it tasted pretty good that way!

I just love drinking cold milk through a Tim Tam. This is a rather divisive flavor though – I notice that people either love it or hate it and the latter usually describes it as too artificially flavored. I did find the combination of raspberry with white chocolate challenging to my palate but it’s a really interesting flavor.

tim tams adriano zumbo

I enjoyed the opportunity to sample all the three different limited edition Tim Tams by Adriano Zumbo. I thought it was quite a successful collaboration and having the famous pâtissier create new flavors for Arnott’s is ingenious! Too bad these only comes in the 5-biscuit Treat Packs – but I guess that’s a blessing in disguise too, lest I be tempted to eat the entire pack all at once! :)

Interesting fact: Tim Tams were named after a horse that won the 1958 Kentucky Derby.

Black Star Pastry’s Strawberry Watermelon Cake with Rose Scented Cream

black star newtown

There are two outlets in town but there’s really only one place to get your Black Star Pastry fix – the original patisserie at Newtown. The massive crowds stretching down the block, the Newtown chic grunge patrons, the punk rock waitress posing for the camera. You just can’t beat the ambience, even if you’re packed tighter than sardines in can.

black star pastries

…and the thing to have here is their Strawberry and Watermelon Cake with Rose Scented Cream. It’s what they’re famous for. Hell, it comes up as soon as you type “Black Star Pastry” into your good friend Google.

Strawberry Watermelon Cake with Rose Scented Cream (AUD 6.50)
Fresh, light, fragrant. This cake consists of two layers of almond dacquoise, fresh whipped cream, watermelon, strawberries, Iranian pistachios and rose petals.

Strawberry Watermelon Cake with Rose Scented Cream

This is their signature item and it’s the reason why people queue up. It’s constantly sold out and if you want it on a plate, you’ll be better off trying at their (much larger) sister outlet in Rosebery, which was practically empty when I was there. I had it to go but decided to crowd into one of the eclectic seats with rocks (!!!) as tables to eat them.

newtown black star pastry

It’s a beautiful cake and it tastes even better than it looks! The description of the cake pretty much says it all – the flavor combination of berries, the refreshing watermelon and the delicate rose petals hidden in the cream is, for a lack of a better term, divine. If you’ve never had a watermelon cake before, I suggest you rectify that as soon as humanly possible.

Orange Cake with Persian Fig

I highly recommend the Orange Cake with Persian Fig (AUD 4) too. I asked the waitress what people ordered besides the Strawberry Watermelon Cake and got this one. This tall, cylindrical delight is made from whole boiled oranges, garnished with cheese cream icing and Persian figs, pistachios and rose petals. It’s surprisingly moist and decadent and both cakes are gluten-free!

Lemon Myrtle Chiffon Cake

I had the Lemon Myrtle Chiffon Cake at their Rosebery sister outlet and it was awesome too! It’s a roomier venue, but a little antiseptic with all the staff wearing uniforms, unlike the cool and non-conformist vibe you get from the original Newtown cafe.

black star rosebery

I also got another Strawberry Watermelon Cake with Rose Scented Cream to go and it tasted similar so the outlet you prefer is up to the ambience you like.

me black star

Black Star Pastry has won a ton of awards and is helmed by the patisser Christopher The. They’re also famous for their lamb shank pies and wood-fired breads but I only had room for the cakes – a quick dessert before lunch!

black star pastry

Black Star Pastry
277 Australia Street,
Newtown NSW

Opens 7 am – 5 pm, 7 days a week

CREST Café, Birubi Beach

fish and chips

The magical view of Birubi Beach makes CREST Café one of the best spots to have a modern interpretation of a perennial Australian favorite – fish and chips!

birubi beach

We had just walked over from the car park when the sound of breaking surf crashing over the beach lured us over. It was a beautiful morning and the rain that accompanied our dolphin watching expedition earlier in the morning had gone away and the sun was starting to shine.

crest cafe

CREST Birubi Beach is located just by the seaside and you can smell the wonderful surf as you walk into the modern café. I heard it has just recently been refurbished for several million dollars and it looks modern, minimalistic and clean.

Fat Yak Pale Ale

It’s a beautiful spot for lunch! I browsed the menu and instantly spotted what I wanted – fish and chips! This isn’t your dad’s fish and chips shop mind, they use Fat Yak beer batter from the artisan brewery in Matilda Bay to coat the fish and they also serve Fat Yak beer on tap!

Minimum Chips Golden Lager

There are two fine craft beers from Matilda Bay Brewing Company on tap – (Hand Cut) Minimum Chips Golden Lager (AUD 6) and Fat Yak Pale Ale (AUD 6). I thought the former was a hilarious name for a beer and would have been the logical choice for fish and chips beer batter coating. We ordered a pint of both to try out.

Fat Yak beer battered flathead, chips, dill aioli and salad (AUD 20)

fat yak beer flathead chips

This is the beautiful craft beer battered fish, which almost everyone ordered. The flathead is a very unusual fish with eyes on the top of its head (like a skate or stringray). CREST Birubi Beach does it beautifully – the fish was local and fresh with a nice coating of Fat Yak craft beer batter. It flaked off nicely and the chips were done to perfection, going very well with the dill aioli.

I found myself wanting more, even though the portions were rather generous. People kept stealing my chips and dill aioli dip too, which goes to show how good this dish is.

fat yak me

It went very well with the Fat Yak Pale Ale that I ordered. I felt it was poetic to have both Fat Yak beer on my food as a batter *and* as a drink. The Minimum Chips Golden Lager is slightly more refreshing but the IPA style Fat Yak runs more towards my tastes.

crest cafe birubi beach

The magical view of Birubi Beach makes CREST Café one of the best spots to have a modern interpretation of a perennial Australian favorite – fish and chips! It was our final lunch before leaving the Port Stephens area for Sydney and I have to say, it was a very memorable one. I even put the picture of me drinking the Fat Yak craft beer as my Facebook profile picture!

CREST Café
Birubi Beach Surf Club
73, James Paterson Street
Anna Bay, New South Wales

Waterfront Restaurant @ The Rocks

seafood platter

Waterfront is impossible to miss – it’s built with a distinctive replica of a square-rigged colonial sailing ship mast at the external dining area. This is a full scale replica so it looks like a ship actually ran aground. I thought it was built around a real ship but one of the waitresses told me it’s a replica – another one of which is inside the main dining area.

waterfront ship

The location is on prime Sydney real estate – look outside and you’ll see breathtaking views of Sydney Habour – right from the Opera House to Harbour Bridge. The Sydney Opera House is all lit up since I went during Vivid Sydney – will write about the complete experience soon.

vivid sydney opera house

This restaurant is owned by Dockside Group and there’s actually five (5) interconnected restaurants, cafes and bars inside. I walked around the nautical themed interior of Waterfront, got a little lost, and actually exited from another bar and had to double back to my seating area.

I mentioned that I had the second best seafood platter in Sydney at Vues on the Bay in Port Stephens – this is the best one.

Hot & cold seafood platter for two (AUD 195)
A succulent selection of crayfish, blue swimmer crab, tiger prawns, Balmain bugs, oysters, mussels, baby calamari, market fresh fish & smoked salmon served with fries, mixed leaf salad & tartare sauce

hot seafood platter

The crayfish has been poached and then shocked in ice water. It’s served cold, just the way I like it. BTW, I use the terms interchangeably coz crayfish in Australia actually refers to spiny lobsters in a lot of places – like this one! It’s one of the larger specimens I’ve seen and each person has ½ lobster. I managed to eat 2 lobsters coz some of the people in our group has shellfish allergies and others didn’t really like crayfish that much (heresy!).

It’s really the best crayfish I’ve ever had and that’s coz the lobster was so fresh it tasted sweet and succulent! I just couldn’t have enough.

On the other hand, the Balmain bug (it’s a type of slipper lobster, which is different from a Moreton Bay Bug) tasted positively stale. It seems like it has been caught for a long time, defrosted, then cooked in the same way. I was *not* impressed.

crayfish

However, the seafood platter has way more hits than misses – the blue crab was delicious, the oysters and mussels divine, and I really liked the baby calamari. The “market fresh fish” (they use Murray Cod, Golden Perch and Australian Bass – the Barramundi is cooked as a separate a la carte item) was absolutely delicious! It was Murray Cod that day and it’s made into long, thin cigar shaped pieces which were breaded and fried to perfection. It’s definitely my favorite out of the hot platter.

flourless chocolate cake

Dessert was a bit of a letdown though. I didn’t quite like the Flourless Chocolate Cake – and judging from the rest of the group, I wasn’t the only one. The cake itself was dry and hard and the best thing about the plate is the quenelle of vanilla bean ice cream.

waterfront sydney

I had a few glasses of local Pinot Noir to go with dinner and it complemented everything nicely. I dove in so fast that I didn’t even think about getting the best pictures. All I wanted to do was to get at the sweet poached and ice shocked lobster meat! I would say that the delectable crayfish and deep fried battered Murray Cod was so good that it made the little misses seem like nitpicking.

waterfront the rocks

Waterfront restaurant serves up good seafood and although it may look like a tourist trap on the outside, there are actually a lot of locals who eat here due to the ambience. I would recommend it if you like romantic dinners by the harbour. We were seated outside, but since it was a chilly autumn night, the place was buttoned up with see-through canvas for heating but I bet it’ll be perfect in summer.

replica ship

It can be a little bit pricey though (and there’s also a AUD 5 surcharge on weekends), but I guess that’s due to the location – you’re paying for the wonderful view of Sydney Harbour during dinner too, which isn’t a bad thing.

waterfront restaurant

Waterfront @ The Rocks
17-27, Circular Quay West
Sydney, New South Wales

Traditional Afternoon Tea @ The Palace Tea Room, QVB

afternoon tea palace

The Palace Tea Room is a wonderful Victorian experience in the heart of Queen Victoria Building (QVB). The gilded gold chandeliers and mirrors, the delightful period décor and the impeccable service all makes this an afternoon tea to remember. Oh, and they also have a separate drinks menu with *over 30 different kinds of tea*!

the palace tea room

I was quite chuffed when I heard that we’ll be having afternoon tea here. Contrary to my image, I do like the occasional dainty finger sandwich and I’ve heard nothing but good things about The Palace Tea Room. They only use Royal Albert – 100 Years of Royal Albert, 1950s Festival and Wedgwood Harlequin fine bone china!

tea room

The décor is meant to awe but the friendly service makes this feel like you’ve gone back to the Victorian era and you’re having tea in your own drawing room with friends, which the wait staff pulls off with aplomb. The picturesque scene of quiet congregation (everyone seems to talk in whispers here, I felt the same urge) was only broken with the oohs and aah of satisfaction with their afternoon tea offering.

palace waiters

You can choose a Devonshire Tea (AUD 20) if you’re not particularly hungry or go for the full experience of The Palace Traditional Afternoon Tea (AUD 38). I highly recommend the latter, it comes with a fully loaded 3-tier platter of dainty delights!

tea menu

I asked the waitress for a recommendation, since I couldn’t decide after browsing through six (6) full pages of tea. She suggested the Paris Vanilla Tea, which is one of the more popular offerings but I noticed something called Indulge Chocolate Tea and asked her about it. She couldn’t decide between the two either, since both are good in their own way, so I asked what she would order if she were in my place – and Indulge Chocolate Tea it was!

indulge chocolate tea

I was very happy with my choice of tea. It’s indulgent, smooth and rich. The menu describes it as “wicked” and I very much agree. You can smell the chocolate when the tea is steeping and everyone wanted a cup of my choice (each order of tea comes in a pot). It has strong highlights and afternotes of chocolate, which I found delectable. The Indulge Chocolate Tea is an extravagant choice that you won’t regret (but everyone else will, and want a sip of yours).

wedgwood harlequin china

The manager personally came out and explained each of the beautiful creations on the 3-tiered fine china platter (each edge is gilded with *real gold* banding and highlights – from the teapot spout to the plates) – there’s scones, crab coronets and crust-less finger sandwiches on the bottom tier and the first two tiers are filled with sweet cakes and pastries.

traditional afternoon tea

I loved the cone shaped crab coronet – it was so tasty I wish it didn’t disappear in a bite. There are three kinds of finger sandwiches too – egg salad on white bread, tuna on brown bread and Chicken Caesar sandwiches on brown bread. There’s also a tiny morsel which looks like two biscuits sandwiching a salmon roe paste – it turns out to be a little cheese shortbread sandwich filled with creamy red capsicum mousse. It was my favorite bit from the savory offerings at the bottom tier.

finger sandwiches coronet

I absolutely loved the scones and demolished them with hearty helpings of clotted cream and raspberry jam (since no one else wanted them). There are two scones – one plain and one filled with fruit. The blowtorch finished mini lemon meringue tart and tiny vanilla cupcakes topped with lemon sour cream are delicious! I think the only bit that let me down was the coconut macaron since Adriano Zumbo Patissier is just downstairs.

macaroons scones

However, the chocolate macaroon (with double o’s) dusted with toasted coconut and filled with a sweet passionfruit filling was spot on. I also liked the lamington (it’s an Australian cake) but the most wonderful item on the platter is a marvellous creation of white chocolate, raspberry and basil (!!!) mousse layered sponge cake.

palace me

The flavors works so well together and it’s just too bad that there’s only one (1) of some items in this 2-person sharing platter so you’ll have to cut a tiny pastry into half. Nevertheless, it’s a wonderful experience and if you appreciate the subtleties of tea, you’ll be pleased to know that all their teas are proprietary house blends. The owner told us they’re always so full that reservations is a must and also divulged that they’re bidding to buy over the opposite establishment so they can renovate it and take it over, which says everything about how popular The Palace Tea Room in QVB is.

the queens letter

Interesting tip: There’s a sealed letter from Queen Elizabeth II in QVB (Queen Victoria Building) which was written by Her Majesty in 1986 to be opened 100 years in the future in 2085 by the Lord Mayor of Sydney at that time and read aloud to the People of Sydney. It’s at the top floor and worth a detour before you head for afternoon tea, even if you can’t read the contents of the letter. I just love the idea.

queen victoria building

The Palace Tea Room
Shop L1 20-22, Level 1,
Queen Victoria Building, Sydney

Newtown graffiti and street art

newtown graffiti

The grungy-turned-hip neighborhood of Newtown in Sydney has some of the best graffiti and street art in town. Interestingly, a lot of the graffiti is not removed but protected under a provision of the city council laws, which aims to preserve “historically significant” pieces of street art.

footpath

I first heard about the graffiti around Newtown and Surry Hills after Green Day’s “21st Century Breakdown” album – some of the pieces were commissioned for the album.

surry hills graffiti

There are a couple of established crews working with full kit and filter masks. I got a chance to talk to one of the guys in his mid-30’s (who didn’t want to be photographed – technically what they are doing is illegal) and he lamented about how young teenagers nowadays are tagging *over* the existing graffiti with their own crew tags.

graffiti in progress

I don’t know how I feel about that. What he alleged is true – I saw a couple of kids whitewashing space over existing beautiful murals and putting their own crew tags (which is basically a stylized name) over it.

crew tags

On one hand, I feel it’s disrespectful but on the other hand, the kids needs a place to practice to hone their skills but spray painting over someone else’s hard work, even if it’s in the public domain, isn’t very kosher since there’s heaps of space for them to practice.

graffiti newtown

It was a damp and rainy day in Sydney and we went to a lot of the hotspots around the Surry Hills and Newtown area to check out the graffiti.

stencil street art

Check out the B&W stencil art in the middle of the wall!

play that funky

This piece of graffiti spans across five different surfaces. I love how a door is painted over the real door.

graffiti artist

It was fun and the guy I talked to let me check out his gear. It takes a lot of time and effort to do a really big mural and this one is my favorite:

orang utan graffiti

This 1 ½ storey mural is an intricate piece of art depicting a female orang utan carrying a baby and the alpha male baring his teeth. It’s done primarily in orange and you can see the sheer detail from the skin and fur of the animals, as well as the tropical sunset background. This was taken in May Lane/Caroline Lane in Newtown.

Zumbarons @ Adriano Zumbo Patisserie

zumbarons adriano zumbo

I have heard about the wonderful macarons from Adriano Zumbo in Australia for quite a long time. Thus, I took the opportunity to purchase the entire range of macarons (affectionately dubbed “Zumbarons”) from Adriano Zumbo Patisserie when I was in Sydney. smirk

mylo can

Adriano Zumbo is also credited with making the Zonut, and his version of the croquembouche – the Macaron Tower (available in 65 and 95 pieces). He also makes a lot of beautifully quirky and delicious pastries and cakes like the mylo can.

i heart zumbo

He’s been regularly featured in MasterChef Australia and I’ve wondered just how good his macarons taste compared to Ladurée at Champs-Élysées, Paris and Pierre Herme – both of which we tried during our trip to France earlier this year.

passionfruit honeycomb

I actually went to two of his shops, the bigger of which is located at The Star. The shop also doubles as a cafe and carries 12 different flavors of his macarons. I bought a 12-pack which comes in a nice sliding box with one each of the entire Zumbaron range in the shop:

zumbarons

  • salted butter caramel on toast
  • hazelnut praline
  • malted milkshake
  • francesco brownie
  • passionfruit & honeycomb
  • caramelized white chocolate
  • fingerbun
  • berry brulée
  • lime & mandarin
  • caramel au beurre sale
  • salted butter popcorn
  • toasted marshmallow

zumbarons macarons

Adriano Zumbo’s two most popular (famous?) macarons would be the salted butter popcorn (with real popcorn covering the shell of the macaron) and the malted milkshake (a rather interesting blue hued macaron).

adriano zumbo macarons

Each Zumbaron retails for AUD 2.50 and there are *no bulk discounts*. You can get a nice 2-piece box of Zumbarons for AUD 5 and the 12-piece long box costs AUD 30. That comes up to almost RM 8 per macaron!

adriano zumbo

It’s worth every cent though! I had two of them fresh and bought one to eat on the spot too. There’s a sign that says Zumbarons don’t travel well and I made sure to keep a gentle hand on mine since I wanted to bring the 12-piece sliding box with every single Zumbaron flavor I managed to find back for my better half to try.

adriano zumbo star

Adriano Zumbo actually has 40 different Zumbarons that rotates seasonally but those are only available with a pre-order. I visited a couple of his shops and found that the one with the most variety on offer is at The Star at Sydney with 12 different flavors on offer.

salted popcorn malted milkshake

We both liked it and we thought it was way better than Ladurée and slightly better almost on par with Pierre Hermé in France. I particularly liked the salted butter caramel on toast (which actually has toast) and the francesco brownie (which actually has bits of brownie). My dear also liked the lime & mandarin which packs a refreshing, zesty bite.

zumbarons pack

His malted milkshake Zumbaron is pretty good too and the salted butter popcorn is just pure genius with bits of popcorn on the shell – no wonder it’s the two most popular flavors. His macarons are made for the adult palate and doesn’t have excessive amounts of sugar – some of them even taste slightly salty!

zumbaron kit

I also bought a bake-at-home Zumbaron kit so we’ll be making our own salted caramel macarons soon! :)

zumbaron range

You can find Adriano Zumbo Patissier in Melbourne and Sydney. Adriano Zumbo at The Star is their latest exciting concept store and carries their full range of cakes, pastries and Zumbarons. It’s the main one I went to and you can find them at:

Adriano Zumbo Patissier
The Star
80 Pyrmont Street, New South Wales

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