Sydney Sojourn, Day Three, La Rosa Friday, Jul 3 2015 

Day three of our stay at the Hilton, we headed out into the rain for some more window shopping. Lunch was to be at La Rosa in The Strand Arcade for some of the best pizzas in Sydney.

La Rossa is the sister restaurant to Pendolino and is also on the second floor but at the Pitt Street end of The Strand.

The Strand Arcade

The Strand Arcade

We arrived just after 12 and the restaurant was fairly quiet, but that changed by 1230 when the suit brigade and the ladies who lunch started arriving.

Mr. CA4G has been to La Rosa several times before, so he knew what the best pizzas were to order. He selected the Funghi and the Calabrese. The Funghi has porcini puree, Portobello mushrooms and mozzarella. The Calabrese was topped with tomato, mozzarella, roasted Capsicum, spicy Nduja, La Rosa Salame.

Calabrese on the left, Funghi on the right

Calabrese on the left, Funghi on the right

My goodness!! So tasty, but we really could have split these three ways.  A doggy bag might have been a good idea too. Beats Domino’s and Pizza Hut any day.

ARIA And The Celestial Dance Thursday, Jul 2 2015 

After a quick shopping expedition in the city we decided to have dinner at ARIA. The evening was crisp and clear, with a stunning full moon lighting the night. We were also lucky to look up and see Venus and Jupiter doing their dance and appearing close together even though they are hundreds of millions of miles apart. At first Mr. CA4G  thought one was a plane until I remembered it was the celestial rarity that I had read about on FaceBook. A rarity because most of the conjunctions between the two planets happen during daylight hours.

Enough of the stars, and on to dinner. We decided to have the pre-theatre menu, which offers great value. But first things first, we had to choose a wine. After perusing the wine list we decided to try a 2009  Rhizotomi Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. We like our Napa Valley Cabernets and this did not disappoint. Great flavour without being too heavy and a fabulous aroma which opened more during the evening.

Linnaea Rhizotomi Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Linnaea Rhizotomi Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

A concise menu of 5 items per course, plus an entree extra, made choosing easy. After ordering, an amuse bouche of house made lavosh, with broad bean and ricotta purée topped with a little dot of lemon curd was presented to us. Along with amuse we both selected a sourdough roll (From Iggy’s Bread) which was accompanied by salted butter and a black garlic and porcini butter (both from Pepe Saya).

I ordered the Yamba Prawns with smoked eggplant, pickled radish and finger lime (the entree extra).The prawns had been roasted with the little bubbles of finger lime and then stacked on the smoked eggplant which had been pureed. Slices of pickled radish were sparingly placed around the stack.

Yamba prawns, smoked eggplant

Yamba prawns, smoked eggplant

Mr. CA4G ordered Southern calamari with iberico jamon, dashi custard, and shiitake mushroom tea. The dish was topped with an intriguing squid ink and tapioca crisp.

Southern calamari, Iberico Jamon

Southern calamari, Iberico Jamon

For mains, I chose the lamb rump with globe artichoke barigoule, green olives. Beautifully cooked medium rare, with the small amount of fat on top salted just the way I like it. An eggplant and capsicum ajvar sauce was a nice mellow compliment to the lamb. Nice combination of flavours. We also ordered our favourite side truffle mash, (mash potato finished with truffle oil) so creamy and delicious.

 

Lamb rump, Artichoke barigoule, Truffle mash

Lamb rump, Artichoke barigoule, Truffle mash

Mr. CA4G ordered the Cervena venison loin and sausage, farro, parsnip and rosemary. The parsnip came as a puree and a delicious finely shaved crisp. This was our first experience with farro on a menu and it is an ingredient we look forward to having again. The venison was served with jus for the sauce.

Cervena venison loin

Cervena venison loin

We were only going to have two courses, but decided to go for broke and order dessert. Possibly not a good judgement call as we realised later, when waddled out the door. An interesting sounding tart caught my eye and Mr. CA4G chose the cheese selection.

The tart was caramel and cep accompanied with mandarin wedges and espresso ice cream. The tart had a nice depth (about 2cm of luscious filling) and was quite light. The flavour of the cep mushrooms was delicate but was not overpowered by the caramel. The mandarin gave a refreshing burst, and the espresso ice cream was enhanced with the addition of ground coffee, which gave it a bit of grittiness. Cracked hazelnut kernels and hazelnut ‘soil’ finished the plate.

Caramel and cep tart

Caramel and cep tart

The cheese selection consisted of Munster and St Agur from France, La Luna from Holy Goat in Victoria and Manchego from Spain. The cheese was accompanied by crackers and fresh grapes.

Cheese selection

Cheese selection

A plate of varied petit fours was delivered to the table which we enjoyed immensely.

Petit fours

Petit fours

We practically rolled out the door, into the chill night air and headed home under the bright moon and the celestial dance.

IMG_4536

Sydney sojourn, day 2, Lunch at Rockpool Friday, Jun 26 2015 

After a good night sleep and breakfast, we decided to look at our dining options for the day. After some careful and in depth consideration and discussion, we decided to visit Rockpool for the two course prix fixe lunch offer. We love a good lunch offer.

Interior Rockpool

Interior Rockpool

Interior Rockpool

Interior Rockpool

We have been trying to get back to Rockpool since we had our snack of caviar last year.  The prix fixe menu for lunch is a great option, and you are able to choose from entree/main or main/dessert.

Rockpool Prix Fixe Menu

Rockpool Prix Fixe Menu

First to come out was a beautiful loaf of spelt and honey bread, baked ricotta topped with roasted kale, and a compound butter made with rice mould and kombu. The bread was amazing and the butter, a total taste sensation. It was so good we had two lots of bread.

Spelt and honey bread with compound butter

Spelt and honey bread with compound butter

On our visit, the entree was an oxtail chong fun noodle, shiitake and black fungus. I have never had oxtail before and was going to choose the dessert rather than entree, but I am so glad Mr. CA4G talked me into the entree. The flavours in the dish were spectacular. Bit of spice, bit of sweet, so much going on but all worked so well together, Heaven!!   Even the bowl was amazing.

Entree

Entree

Main was a ‘chou farci’ Chicken and prawn mousse wrapped in iceberg lettuce, with umami broth served with a little pile of fresh edamame. I quite enjoyed this dish as well, flavoursome, elegant and delicious. I did find the shellfish flavour in the  broth a little too overpowering for my taste, but then I am not really a fan of soups, bisques and veloutes made from any seafood. But everything worked together and I would definitely recommend the dish. We also decided to have the matched wine which was a 2013 Te Whare Ra, pinot noir from Marlborough in New Zealand which was a great match for this course.

Main course

Main course

Main course

Main course

I look forward to a return visit to Rockpool to another of their prix fixe lunches .

Sydney Sojourn, Day 1, Felix Bistro Friday, Jun 26 2015 

Due to some dental issues we had to cancel a planned holiday to Tokyo, but decided to book some time in Surfers Paradise. But before then we decided to have a few days in our own city, staying at our favourite Sydney hotel, The Hilton, in a relaxation suite with spa.

Our suite looking to the lounge area

Our suite looking to the lounge area

Our suite lokking to the bedroom

Our suite lokking to the bedroom

The spa was rather large and shaped so that two people could sit facing each other. The citrus scented bath salts were quite lovely and refreshing. Of course when having a romantic spa, a good bottle of wine is handy. For us it was a bottle of Rockford Basket Press 2009. Love the bottle the Basketpress comes in and the wine is a great example of Barossa Shiraz.

Purely medicinal purposes, Rockford Basketpress and spa

Purely medicinal purposes, Rockford Basketpress and spa

Our suite faced west with a view over the Queen Victoria Building. Sadly the weather was quite inclement so the view was limited. Despite the weather we did a bit of shopping and window shopping.

View from the spa bath

View from the spa bath

For lunch we went French with two courses at Felix Bistro in the Ivy complex. A great start to our holiday dining! Mr. CA4G had SteakFrites with red wine jus and cafe de Paris butter, while I ordered my favourite, confit duck which was served with braised cabbage, cubes of celeriac and apple with a thyme jus. We also ordered a bottle of Chateau Val de Roc, Bourdeaux Superieur 2012, a cabernet blend, quite enjoyable without being too over powering.

Steak Frites cafe de Paris butter and jus

Steak Frites cafe de Paris butter and jus

Confit duck

Confit duck

Salad

Salad

While the desserts sounded lovely we decided to go for a selection of 3 cheeses. There were five cheese to choose from and we opted for Milchzapfen (Zurich, Switzerland), St Maure de Tourraine (loire Valley, France) and Epoisses (Burgundy, France). These were served with a selection of breads, quince paste and fruit.

Cheese selection

Cheese selection

After lunch we wore ourselves out with more window shopping before returning to the Hilton for a siesta. As we were quite full from lunch dinner was a light affair of snacky bits in the Executive lounge.

Stay tuned for where we lunched next!

Melbourne Getaway Part 2 Wednesday, May 13 2015 

Our second day in Melbourne found us wandering the streets looking around and window shopping before we went to The Flower Drum for lunch.

Over the years I have seen The Flower Drum mentioned many times in foodie magazines. It was finally time to try it. Set in a laneway between Little Bourke and Bourke Streets, an elegant foyer/reception area lies behind the door before you are escorted up to the dining room.

Lane way entrance to the Flower Drum

Lane way entrance to the Flower Drum

Red carpet anchors the room with cream walls decorated with paintings depicting the Chinese dance “Flower Drum” and also hung with beautiful wood carvings. Dark woods are in abundance with the dining room divided in half by a mini “pavilion”.

Interior lower Drum

Interior lower Drum

Interior lower Drum

Interior lower Drum

After a look through the extensive wine list we ordered a half bottle of Rockford Basket Press Shiraz.

Service was a standout. While we are used to the excellent service in Chinese restaurants in Sydney and Hong Kong, the service at Flower Drum really kicked it up a notch or three. Where you would normally just get the dish placed in front of you ready to eat, most of our dishes were plated tableside by the wait staff. The Peking duck rolls were rolled one at a time as you finished one. Vegetables and rice were served table side from a large bowl.

For entrees, Mr.CA4G ordered the Peking duck rolls while I went with the Quail sang choi bao. Both were fantastic. While we have had duck, chicken and pork in sang choi bao before the use of quail was a nice change.

Peking duck pancakes

Peking duck pancakes

Quail sang choi bow

Quail sang choi bao

For main course Mr. CA4G ordered the simply prepared but tasty wok fried barramundi with seasoned soy.

Steamed barramundi

Steamed barramundi

I ordered the crispy skin chicken with lemon and spicy salt. Our meals were accompanied by wok tossed greens and special fried rice.

Crispy skin chiken

Crispy skin chiken

Desserts were fantastic with my apples being finished at the table. Mr. CA4G ordered the Banana Fritters (lightly battered banana with maple syrup and Rickett’s Point
organic vanilla ice-cream).

Banana fritters

Banana fritters

Peking Toffee Apple (lightly battered apple covered in molten toffee served with Rickett’s Point organic cinnamon ice-cream). Each piece of battered apple was dipped and coated in the toffee and then plunged in to a bowl of iced water to harden the toffee and then plated. The waiters then “pulled” the remaining toffee in to threads for garnish.

Peking style toffee apple

Peking style toffee apple

After a fantastic lunch it was time wander around a little more and then head back to the hotel and relax. Again lunch was so filling we skipped dinner and had a glass of wine and snacks in the lounge of the hotel.

It was great to have a little break away from Sydney.

 
  

Melbourne Getaway Monday, Apr 27 2015 

Early March saw us make a spontaneous trip to Melbourne. I hate to admit it, but it was about 30 years between visits to Melbourne for me. Even then it was more to the outer suburbs where we visited family.

We stayed at The Hilton South Wharf, not right in the city but the walk along the Yarra River is very nice. We had a great view of the city and river from our room, which was quite magical in the evening as we were graced with a full moon.

Melbourne sky line and Yarra River

Melbourne sky line and Yarra River

Full moon over Melbourne

Full moon over Melbourne

After checking in it was time to go exploring along the South Bank. We headed over to Crown Casino and walked past Nobu, No. 8 by John Lawson, Spice Temple, Rockpool Bar and Grill and many more . As Mr. CA4G never went to Guillaume at Bennelong before it closed, we decided to head in to Guillaume Brahimi’s Melbourne restaurant.

A very bright lime green door marks the entrance to a room that is the epitome of a classic French bistro. Marble, brass, bentwood chairs and lightshades that reminded us of the puffy skirts from the 1980’s.

As it was a lovely day, we sat out on the verandah which has views of the river and city. While we decided on what to eat we ordered a glass of Perrier Jouet Champagne. Bistro Guillaume has several options for lunch from a la carte to two set price options. We chose the 3 courses for $65, which covered most of the items on the a la carte menu, with the exemption being the chateau briand.

Bistro Guillaume menu

Bistro Guillaume menu

To start we ordered some Perrier Jouet Champagne. The bread bought to the table was a nice mini Pain d’Epi, which is a variant of a baguette, shaped like a head of wheat. Lovely chewy crust and soft inside. Makes me want to bake more regularly.

Perrier Jouet and Pain d'Epi

Perrier Jouet and Pain d’Epi

We also ordered a bottle of Domaines Manoncourt Chateau La Fleur Pourret 2005, from Saint Emilion. A very nice drop, we have now come to the conclusion that the only merlot we enjoy drinking comes from France.

Lovely drop of Merlot!

Lovely drop of Merlot!

For entrée Mr. CA4G had the steak tartare with pommes gaufrettes and a petite salad. Elegantly presented and Mr.CA4G said it was one of the best he has had.

Steak Tartare

Steak Tartare with pommes gaufrettes

I had the chicken liver pate with pear relish and cornichons. Pate seems to be the only time I get near liver, but for me it is the best way to have it.

Pate, pear relish and crusty bread

Pate, pear relish and crusty bread

On our visit the fish of the day was John Dory. Regular readers of my blog will know that John Dory is the favourite fish of Mr. CA4G. This was simply pan fried and finished with a beurre noisette, capers and lemon, simple but full of flavour.

John Dory, beurre noisette, capers and lemon

John Dory, beurre noisette, capers and lemon

Once again I saw pork belly on the menu and couldn’t pass it up. The Berkshire pork belly served with pickled cabbage and apple salad, was beautifully cooked and just melted when you ate it. A small mound of pommes puree was topped with the pickled cabbage, then the pork belly which was topped with the apple salad.

Pork belly, pickled cabbage and apple salad

Pork belly, pickled cabbage and apple salad

Of course pommes frites were also ordered and came out in a lovely copper bucket.

Pommes frites

Pommes frites

As we chose the three course option I ordered the profiteroles filled with fresh vanilla ice cream and smothered in chocolate sauce. Yum, but 3 profiteroles was too much. Mr. CA4G ordered the cheese selection which was bought out on a BIG wooden board and then served on to a smaller service board which had the bread and garnishes on it.

Profiteroles with chocolate sauce

Profiteroles with chocolate sauce

We were well and truly full but really happy to have chosen Bistro Guillaume for our lunch. We were so full in fact that all thought of going to Nobu for dinner got pushed out the window and we had some snacks in the executive lounge while watching the sun set over Melbourne.

Stay tuned for Part 2, lunch at The Flower Drum….

 

Summer Getaway to Milton Park Country House and Spa Sunday, Apr 19 2015 

In January we headed back to Milton Park for my birthday weekend. Leaving a hot sticky Sydney morning behind,we were surprised at how much cooler it was in Bowral.

Porte cochere and front door

Porte cochere and front door

After checking in to our room, this time a garden view room complete with fireplace (which came in handy later in the day), we headed down to The Orangery for lunch.

Our room

Our room

Our room

Our room

Our room

Our room

View from our room

View from our room

The Orangery was quite busy on this occasion with several groups indulging in champagne afternoon teas. We ordered the same Testut Petit Chablis we had on our last visit and settled down to peruse the menu.

Testut Petit Chablis

Testut Petit Chablis

Mr. CA4G had the Cape Grim Angus eye fillet of beef, spinach, fondant potato, café de Paris butter and jus.

Cape Grim Eye fillet, fondant potato, cafe de Paris butter

Cape Grim Eye fillet, fondant potato, cafe de Paris butter

I love a nice roulade and opted for the chicken stuffed with couscous, wrapped in jamon and served with one of my favourite salads, roquette with pear and parmesan. If I remember correctly the sauce was a pedro ximenez reduction. Very delicious all round!

ROulade of chicken stuffed with cous cous

ROulade of chicken stuffed with cous cous

After lunch we took a stroll through the beautiful gardens. There are many species of trees bought in from Europe and some are not even found in local botanical gardens. It was a nice change to see the garden with its full summer greenery. Made a nice change from the bareness of winter. Alas we missed the wisteria arbour in bloom by a couple of months. Must get to Milton Park again in spring.

Gardens, Milton Park

Gardens, Milton Park

Gardens, Milton Park

Gardens, Milton Park

The brolga pond

The brolga pond

After our stroll we returned to our room for a quick nap before we headed back down to Hordern’s for dinner. We pre-ordered our wine and were able to have our bottle of Petaluma 1998 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, decanted and ready for us at the table when we arrived. We did however start with a glass of champagne (it was my birthday and a girl has to have some bubbles on her birthday doesn’t she?). An amuse bouche of brandade was bought out to us while we decided on what we would like for dinner.

Brandade, Petaluma Cabernet Sauvignon 1998

Brandade, Petaluma Cabernet Sauvignon 1998

Mr. CA4G had seared scallops, pea puree black pudding and red wine reduction for his entrée, which he enjoyed very much.

Scallops, pea puree, black pudding

Scallops, pea puree, black pudding

I am a sucker for any kind of twice cooked soufflé that involves cheese. The soufflé on this visit was made with gruyere and goats cheese, two of my favourite cheeses. A sprinkle of microherbs added a touch extra flavour to all that cheesy goodness.

Twice baked souffle

Twice baked souffle

For his main course, Mr. CA4G chose the Victorian venison, parsnip puree and cassis jus. While he prefers his meats medium, in this instance he enjoyed it slightly rarer. And of course a bowl of chunky pommes frites went well with it too.

Venison with parsnip puree

Venison with parsnip puree

Confit duck is one of my favourite cooking methods for a duck maryland. Puy lentils with some spinach tossed through them and a jus made from reduced duck stock makes for a delicious accompaniment to the confit duck.

Confit duck maryland

Confit duck maryland

While I would normally choose a cheese plate instead of dessert I left that for Mr. CA4G this time, it had 3 cheeses (local and imported), local honey, dried and fresh fruits and house made lavosh. I think Mr. CA4G may have struggled to get through it.

Cheese selection

Cheese selection

I seem to have gone off ( shock horror!!) chocolate a little but the four textures of chocolate sounded interesting so I decided to have it as my birthday cake. Amazing! Crunchy layer, smooth moussy layer, ganache, it was a joy to eat! A little edible gold leaf on top gave an extra sparkle to the night.

Four textures of chocolate

Four textures of chocolate

After a most salubrious meal we headed back to our room for a nightcap of Saltram No. 1, 2005 vintage which we enjoyed by the fire.

Night cap with open fire

Night cap with open fire

A big thankyou to everyone at Milton Park Country house and Spa for another delightful stay!

A Touch of Luxury Thursday, Jan 22 2015 

I recently had a Saturday night off work so we decided to have a night in the city. After checking in to our room at the Hilton, we wandered around town looking at some stores we haven’t been in to together for a while.

Soon enough it was time for lunch and as we were in Martin Place, Intermezzo caught our eye. Mr. CA4G has been several times for business lunches but this was my first time.

After perusing the menu and wine list we ordered 2 glasses of Prosecco and shared beef carpaccio for entrée.

Beef carpaccio and prosecco

Beef carpaccio and prosecco

We both had pasta for our mains, Mr. CA4G chose linguine with Western Australian Scampi, fresh vine ripened cherry tomatoes and chilli.

Scampi pasta

Scampi pasta

I opted for an entree sized pasta of house made pappardelle with trio of mushrooms, fresh ricotta and black truffle. Truly delicious, I love a bit of truffle (ok, I admit I like more than a bit of truffle). The fresh ricotta was also amazing.

Pappardelle with mushrooms and truffle

Pappardelle with mushrooms and truffle

We then decided that as it was a special day that we would have some cannoli filled with sweet ricotta.

Canoli with fresh vailla ricotta

Canoli with fresh vanilla ricotta

After lunch it was off to the shops again and then a quick rest at the hotel.

After easing our feet a little we headed down to the executive lounge for a pre-dinner cocktail and nibbles. Lovely fresh prawns and a few hot snacks got us fired back up again and ready to go out again.

Surprisingly the temperature had cooled a little, so we headed for a whisky at The Baxter Inn. Located in a dark seedy laneway off Clarence Street and down a set of stairs, the Baxter Inn is like stepping back in time to the 1920’s. The Baxter Inn features a list of around 360 whiskies from all around the world. We decided on Bowmore Legend, as Mr.CA4G had tried it on previous visit and enjoyed it. Armed with a bowl of pretzels we sat down to enjoy our whisky and people watch.

Bar at The Baxter Inn

Bar at The Baxter Inn

After our drink we headed out in to the night again and with no destination in mind we ambled down George Street and found ourselves in the Rocks. Walking past the former premises of Rockpool, Mr. CA4G lamented the fact that we never went there while it was open. Imagine his surprise when I told him they were open but had moved to the Burns Philp building in Bridge Street. That made us head back south for a walk past.

After looking at the menu and noticing they had a bar menu we headed in.

Out front, Rockpool

Out front, Rockpool

Interior from the bar

Interior from the bar

After sitting down and perusing the wine list we ordered two glasses of champagne. We only felt like a little bite to eat so decided on some caviar and blinis. After a bit of wonderful upselling from the very helpful waiter, we decided to try the Yasa caviar. Now I am not really in to caviar normally, but this was sensational. Our waiter had given us the story of the brand and then told us how the brand representative showed them how to eat the caviar by placing a little on your hand to warm it up and then straight in to your mouth. We tried it and were pleasantly surprised at the difference in flavour as compared to having it cold. It was well worth the extra to try this fantastic product.

Yasa caviar and blinis

Yasa caviar and blinis

Warming the caviar

Warming the caviar

Yasa caviar is farmed and produced from Siberian sturgeon in the UAE, in the worlds largest and most technologically advanced aquaculture farms. Not only do they process the roe but the fish is also processed for the culinary market.

After our caviar and champagne it was time to head back to the Hilton to bring our day of luxury to an end with a movie and bottle of Grande Cru bourdeaux from Chateau Cantemerle.

Chateau Cantemerle

Chateau Cantemerle

Have a great day and hope you have a touch of luxury soon!

Flying Fish, Pyrmont Wednesday, Jan 21 2015 

A restaurant we have been wanting to go to for many years is Flying Fish in Pyrmont. We happened to be in need of dinner while we were in Pyrmont recently and decided to make our way over.

Flying Fish is located in Pyrmont, at the end of a heritage wharf, with views of the Harbour Bridge, Barangaroo, Balmain and the lower north shore. This makes for a dramatic backdrop to dinner as the sun sets and the city lights start turning on.

Exterior, Flying Fish

Exterior, Flying Fish

The heritage look is continued inside with the original dark beams incorporated in to the interior design. Dark woods are very much in evidence throughout the space and are softened by the crisp white tablecloths and the large modern painting along one wall.

Looking out through the windoes

Looking out through the windoes

Interior Flying Fish

Interior Flying Fish

 

There is some seating outside as well, perfect for a sunny day. You can also sit outside and dream about being on one of the luxury boats moored along the wharf.

Exterior seating area, Flying Fish

Exterior seating area, Flying Fish

After a look at the wine list we decided on a half bottle of Chablis from Domaine Louis Moreau. Mr CA4G is a bit picky with white wines and he absolutely loved this one.

Chablis  from

Chablis from Domaine Louis Moreau

Choosing a main was easy for Mr. CA4G, he hadn’t tried Murray cod before so that was his choice. He enjoyed his Murray Cod very much and was surprised that it didn’t have much of a muddy flavour to it, seeing as it is a fresh water fish.

Murray Cod

Murray Cod

I had a lamb backstrap with whipped feta, lamb sausage and peas. Loved the whipped feta, it is on my list of things to try at home. We also ordered a leaf salad and hand cut chips.

Lamb backstrap

Lamb backstrap

It was well worth the walk from the city to have dinner at Flying Fish and we look forward to dining there again in the future.

Belated Merry Christmas!! Monday, Dec 29 2014 

Wishing my readers a belated very Merry Christmas and all the best for a bright and happy year in 2015!!

We visited Mr. CA4G’s sister and her husband this year for Christmas. They live on the Central Coast of NSW and rather than join all the drivers heading off on holiday, we decided to take the train. It is a pleasant and very scenic journey once you leave the outskirts of Sydney. Lots of sandstone cliffs and mountains, sparkles glint off the water as the train snakes along parts of the Hawkesbury River, eucalypt forests and quaint little towns.

Christmas eve we have a semi traditional Czech dinner as they celebrate on Christmas eve more so than Christmas Day. Deep fried barramundi (traditionally it would be carp in the  Czech republic,and even though there is a lot of introduced carp in Australian waterways, most of it ends up as fertilizer or left on the river banks) served with Russian potato salad and red cabbage salad.

Christmas day breakfast we have a huge sugar hit, Stollen, Croissants with butter and jams, Swiss cake, panettone, fruit mince tarts and coffee.

My sister in law tries to get most of the cooking and prep done the day before so we can relax a little. For christmas day this year we had our lunch over 5 hours leaving a nice big space between course, We started with melon topped with blue cheese and wrappd in black forest ham and devils on horseback. For entree we had pork , veal and pistachio terrine that I made, with mango chutney. For mains we had turducken, glazed and roasted ham, roast beef, gravy, roast vegetables, Russian potato salad and red cabbage salad. Dessert we ended up having at dinner time, boozy trifle. My sister in law also made some reindeer poop as a bit of  gag sweet, chocolate and hazelnut clusters.

I hope you all had a wonderful day and were able to share it with your loved ones. Have a happy New Year and look forward to your company again next year!!

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