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

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

3 interesting stalls @ Eveleigh Farmers Market

watsons orchard

Eveleigh Farmers Market is an “all weather” market open every Saturday and it’s home to fresh and seasonal produce! There’s so many stores that it’ll take you an hour to walk and every single one has *samples* for you to try, spread out in front!

oranges

There’s these Mandarin oranges grown on a personal orchard. That’s the primary theme of the market – everything there is organic and small batch – mom and pop operations mostly, with a great love of what they’re selling.

billy kwong everleigh

There’s a lot of things to see (and taste) here – especially if you like low-food miles organic produce.

Here’s 3 of my favorite stalls:

1. Kylie Kwong @ Billy Kwong

billy kwong

Yes, this is also where the famous Kylie Kwong will be every Saturday. I hear she’s here without fail, once a week to tend to the Billy Kwong stall. There are heaps of her fans (mostly, I gather from MasterChef Australia Season Six since she’s in charge of the Immunity Pin now) gathered here and you’ll see Instagram filled with tags every Saturday with photos of her.

kylie kwong

Billy Kwong supposedly sells “Home-Style Chinese Cooking” but I’ll rather call it “Australian-Style Chinese”. However, they do have quite a good Steamed Pork Bun with House Chilli for AUD 8.50. It’s basically a bao/pao that has chilli on top, like how an Australian pie would have ketchup on top. She’ll swap in beetroot puree if you can’t take the heat.

steamed buns

There’s also a special every week and that was Steamed Sticky Rice Parcel with Macadamias, Warrigals, Goji Berries & Roasted Insects. Don’t worry, warrigals aren’t dingos, it’s an Aboriginal word meaning “wild” and refers to a spinach type vegetable with arrow-root like leaves. It’s basically “bak zhang” with insects for the protein instead of meat. This one goes for AUD 9 and I like how there’s roasted insects in them.

kylie kwong everleigh

However, her best-seller has got to be the Steamed Savoury Pancakes with Organic Egg, Saltbush, Caramel-Tamari (AUD 12.50). Saltbush is an Aboriginal native herb/vegetable that also makes a huge appearance in this season of MasterChef Australia.

kylie kwong fans

I came here to get an autograph for my better half and it took me an hour of waiting to get it!

2. Spuds Galore!

potatoes

Have you ever seen so many varieties of different potatoes in one place? They’re all artisan farm-grown organic spuds and there’s more than 12 of them!

  1. Dutch Creme
  2. Kennebec
  3. Ida Rose
  4. Sapphire
  5. Charlotte
  6. Snow Gem
  7. Spunta
  8. Kestrel
  9. Pink Kiss
  10. Emma
  11. Kipfler
  12. Burgundy Beauty

everleigh farmers market

Some of the potatoes are good for boiling (Ida Rose), Charlottes are good for roasting in its skin, Kennebec makes for great chips. I love the idea – different strains of potatoes with different starch content for different cooking purposes!

3. Hand n’ Hoe Organic Macadamia Butter

organic macadamia butter

This is my favorite stall hands down. I’m still kicking myself for not gettng more jars back. The small ones retails for AUD 12 and they have two varieties – Natural Smooth and Roasted Crunchy. Hand n’ Hoe Organic Macadamias is a small Australian family owned business located in the pristine and remote rainforest off the Comboyne plateau in New South Wales. I tasted both and knew I had to get some to bring home.

hand-n-hoe macadamias

All their macadamia nuts are hand harvested, made into butter and vacuum sealed right on their farm, which is also solar powered (!!!). The friendly brothers manning the store says they’re the only family owned macadamia nut farm left in Australia and even though their macadamia butter (100% pure crushed macadamia nuts, no preservatives) is slightly more expensive than store-bought ones, it tastes a lot better too.

macadamia butter

However, you have to consume it within 3 days of opening (since they don’t use preservatives) but that won’t be a problem – it was so delicious that I ate it within 24 hours…and I wish I had bought more! Arrggghhhh….

everleigh market

Eveleigh Farmers Market
Every Saturday 8 am – 1 pm
243 Wilson Street,
Darlington, Sydney NSW

Interesting fact: My Kitchen Rules Season 5 (2014) Australia was filmed in this exact location! Episode 35 features the pop-up restaurants of the Final 8 teams and their challenge was held at the Eveleigh Farmer’s Market.

63 degree egg, PB&J with Nutella and bacon @ Devon Cafe, Surry Hills

affogato

I’m eating the best breakfast I’ve ever had in my entire life with the Sakuma’s and drinking the most delicious affogato on a chilly autumn morning and I’m happier than a pig rolling in the proverbial stuff! smirk

devon cafe surry hills

Devon Cafe is a trendy breakfast spot located at Surry Hills. The shape of the cafe is slightly unusual due to the extensions, and they have parts in the middle where it’s almost al-fresco, except for the camouflage nets thrown over the ceiling in an effort to keep the heat in.

devon sydney

We were seated at the back, where lots of interesting graffiti graces the walls but unfortunately, a member of our party (her first time in Australia) couldn’t really tolerate the cold so we all shifted to a table beside an industrial heater.

chai latte

You can actually see into the courtyard beside the cafe since it’s practically al-fresco, with just netting and fences, which reminds me a lot of the inner-courtyard of Adolf Wagner in Frankfurt. Devon Cafe is listed under Modern Australian in The Good Food guide and they deliver a short and concise but immensely delectable selection of breakfast dishes.

BREAKFAST WITH THE SAKUMA’S (AUD 27)
miso grilled king salmon, smoked eel croquette, 63′ egg, radish petit salid & kewpi mayonaise

breakfast with the sakumas

I asked our very bubbly waitress for a recommendation and she suggested this. I was torn between ordering this or the Eggs Blini and I’m glad I followed her recommendation coz this is one divine dish, as expected from ex-Guillaume chefs.

The delicious 63′ egg shimmered on my plate and it was the perfect combination of runny and soft textures. A proper 63′ egg has the *same* consistency for both the yolk and white and takes at least an hour to prepare. I’ve seen a lot of local breakfast places attempt to do this with an off-the-shelf vacuum sealer and sous vide combo (about RM 2,000 from your friendly neighborhood appliances store) but they’ve all failed miserably compared to experience and skill with a bain-marie.

sous vide salmon

However, the most wonderful component of the dish was the miso grilled salmon. I have never thought it possible for salmon to taste this good. I don’t even like salmon (and won’t eat it unless it came from Devon’s). The salmon here is sweet and grilled to perfection, before being given the sous vide treatment and it practically falls apart when I gently applied pressure with my fork.

It’s salmon perfection on a plate! The miso gives the entire piece of king salmon a strong dose of umami as well, making you want to eat more. I have yet to find a better tasting salmon and our guide (who has a Norwegian boyfriend who cooks fish well) even said this tastes better than his and she’s not one to give compliments to fish lightly. It’s so tender, moist and flavorful it’s amazing!

The crispy smoked eel croquette was so good I could happily eat 3 plates in a single sitting.

LITTLE LOST BREAD (AUD 18.50)
PB&J brioche French toast, warm banana, nutella, jam, peanut butter ice cream with bacon

little lost bread

This is just awesome. There are no other adjectives to describe it – the PB&J is “de-constructed” e.g. the peanut butter is actually an ice cream, and there’s a dollop of jam as well as a very generous smear of Nutella on the plate and piles of bacon on top.

LAMB SANDWICH (AUD 20.50)
slow roasted lamb garlic confit, roasted capsicum, cheddar cheese, spinach with chips

lamb sandwich

This didn’t go down very well, but the chips are good and the aioli dipping sauce is wonderful.

KAYA TOAST (AUD 13.70)
coconut jam, butter, light soy 63′ eggs, brioche toast

kaya toast

It’s not 100% authentic since the coconut jam is actually mixed with butter but they made it even better and I love the sous vide egg.

devons affogato

I also had Devon’s Affogato (AUD 7) – a wonderful concoction where 3 perfect coffee beans are put on top of two scoops of artisan ice cream, a cup of melted chocolate with a shot of Five Senses single-origin espresso on the side. Devon’s Cafe has a barista on staff and they only use Alchemy beans and Five Senses single-origin coffee. It’s sinfully good.

devon cafe owner

We had a change to speak with the owner and it turns out that the husband-and-wife duo is Malaysian and Indonesian, respectively. However, their chefs are all poached from Guillaume Bistro and their barista used to train others at Toby’s Estate (still have an unopened tin of single origin Ghana drinking chocolate in my pantry by them).

devons magic muffin

Devon’s Cafe is also very famous for their muffins and we had one to share. It’s best eaten while hot – this is Devon’s Magic Muffin (AUD 4). Seriously, that’s what it’s called! There’s neither THC/CBD nor psilocybin inside (you should head to Amsterdam for those, I had a really good magic muffin while I was there) but it’s still magically delicious.

devon cafe

I would seriously recommend a trip to Surry Hills to check out trendy Devon’s Cafe if you’re in Sydney and into a modern twist on classic Australian dishes. It’s near the station and located right on Devonshire Street so it’s hard to miss. The breakfast here is to die for.

Devon’s Cafe
76, Devonshire Street,
Surry Hills, New South Wales

Seafood platter @ Vues on the Bay, Port Stephens

me seafood platter

This is the very first meal I had during my recent trip to New South Wales! We arrived at Sydney in the morning and drove 2 ½ hours to Port Stephens for lunch. I’ve had quite a few seafood platters in Australia and it always has a hot and cold component.

seafood platter cold

I thought I saw a Moreton Bay Bug at the bottom left of the cold platter and I asked about it. The waitress wasn’t sure so she went to ask the cook, who came back with the answer – it’s a Balmain Bug! It’s also another species of slipper lobster and looks a lot like the Moreton Bay Bug but the Eastern Balmain Bug (officially called butterfly fan lobster) is more common around NSW.

fresh oysters

The cold components of the dish are mud crabs, the Balmain bug, plenty of oysters and prawns with a side of salad and fresh fruits. I’ve eaten several seafood platters during my time in Australia and these ingredients are always the same, although sometimes you’ll get a regular lobster as well as the bug.

vues on the bay

The seafood items in this platter are all boiled and shocked in ice water so it’s eaten cold and I’ve always like the style of this execution. The oysters are a little small in this case, but they’re all local and not flown thousands of miles away coz oysters don’t taste good after a long journey. This was at Vues on the Bay, a very playfully named Australian cuisine restaurant right in the middle of town. Yup, this is the hub of Port Stephens with a wonderful view of the pier.

vues view

Interesting fact: Port Stephens only has one (1) traffic light in the entire township and it’s right in front of this restaurant. The residents petitioned very hard against it since they didn’t want any traffic lights in their town. :)

seafood platter hot

This being Australia, the hot component of the seafood platter has plates laden with thick cut chips, like the ones you’ll get at the local fish and chip shop, and calamari (battered and fried squid). I like how modern Australian cuisine don’t do it in ring shapes but either cigar shaped (very nice) or thick curly (like this one).

I love the calamari here, it’s so fresh that you don’t get the off-putting taste of squid and it’s soft and practically dissolves in your mouth the moment you bite into it.

A whimsical review of Strictly Ballroom The Musical at Sydney Lyric

“A life lived in fear is a life half lived”

strictly ballroom musical

This is the Australian production of Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom The Musical, which is based on the classic 1992 film (you’ll know it if you were born in the early 80’s – it was the one of the most famous Australian films of all time, up there with stuff like Crocodile Dundee). The latest production is fairly new – the global premiere was at Sydney Lyric in April 2014 and we caught it a couple of days ago.

strictly ballroom tickets

I didn’t realize I’ve watched the original movie and knew most of the songs by heart so when it was described to me, I thought it sounded like a the love child of a threesome involving West Side Story, Romeo & Juliet and Dirty Dancing.

strictly ballroom merchandise

I’m a huge fan of musicals, and caught a lot of them during my 2010 backpacking trip through Europe, starting with Wicked in West End. I even watched Les Misérables in French!

I did not understand a single word. Okay, that was a bit of an overstatement, maybe I understood 7 but it’s definitely something you can count with your fingers.

strictly ballroom sydney lyric

To be perfectly honest, I thought I was in for a slightly dry Australian play but I was keen to catch a musical here, especially a local one.

strictly ballroom australia

As I settled in my seat and took in the gorgeous period posters and large disco ball on the ceiling of Sydney Lyric, I started to get into the interactive elements where your section of the theater cheers for a particular ballroom dancing competition couple. I won’t spoil it for you, but don’t worry, it’s nowhere near the over-the-top madness of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

strictly ballroom pose

…and then there was the pivotal scene, a familiar snippet of lyric which was done in conversational spoken word, the part where ballroom dancing movements were taught to the Latino main female lead (which arguably is the best scene in the musical)

If you’re lost, and you turn, and you will find me.
If you’re *lost*, and you turn, and you will find me.
If you’re lost, and you turn, and you will find me.
If you’re lost, and you turn, and you WILL find me.
Time after time

The spoken word segued into a beautiful and powerful sotto song from the male lead and I thought to myself “I KNOW THIS SONG!”.

Memories flooded back and I was hooked – all the songs were familiar and I found myself tapping my feet, singing along and wanting to go on the large conga line that formed after the encore with the cast leading members of the public up to the stage.

strictly ballroom stage

It was the best musical I’ve watched in Australia. I wanted to sing, I wanted to tap my feet and I wanted to dance! It made me feel alive and loved every single moment of it!

strictly ballroom props

In that way, Strictly Ballroom lived up to “The story that inspired the world to dance”, at least for me, an a little old lady in her late 60’s, wheelchair bound and breathing oxygen, but clapping her hands happily as the musical went through songs like Love is in the Air, Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps and of course, Time After Time.

strictly ballroom program

I guess if I had one negative thing to say about Strictly Ballroom The Musical, it would be the Coca-Cola advertisements / product placement, which I found to be intrusive and detracts from the entire experience.

…and with that said, let’s move on to:

(let me do the intentional irony smirk first)

smirk

Short mention:

I’m still in New South Wales, having a lot of fun taking photos and videos with my Xperia Z1. I’m staying at Ramada Resort Shoal Bay, which is about 3 hours from Sydney. It’s located in the Port Stephens area and we had a lot of water activities, sandboarding and ATV riding over sand dunes which can be really bad for regular smartphones…

…but not for the waterproof and dust resistant Z1! I did all those activities and just washed my smartphone and it was as good as new! I even took a walkthrough of my wonderful beach facing suite as soon as I got back. Check out the video above, it’s shot in 1080p Full HD. I’m looking forward to the Xperia Z2 coz that has an even higher recording mode – 4K! :)

strictly sydney

I just came back from a night of Vivid Sydney, experiencing lots of interactions, including one that’s inspired by Strictly Ballroom The Musical! It’s called MirrorBall Heart (Installation # 19 – it’s the one with the disco dance floor and a heart with “Strictly Sydney” on it) and it’s just a short walk away from the hotel. Catch up with what I’m doing on my other social media channels:

http://instagram.com/sixthseal
https://twitter.com/sixthseal
https://www.facebook.com/SixthSealcom

Posted: 8:26 am Sydney time (GMT +2)

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