Friday, January 22, 2010


231 Canley Vale Rd (Cnr Derby St)
Canley Heights 2166 NSW
Phone: (02) 9727 0580

My first non-photo food related post EVER.!

Two weeks ago on a Monday night, me Jc & Bich went out for dinner for a catch up.

Santos was originally located on the main road (beside the Pub) but have recently moved across the road on the corner of Derby Street.

We shared a large plate of chips (with extra chicken salt which was charged at $2.60, but you get a small cup full of this stuff and Bich says it's worth it even to come here just for the chicken salt and chips!).

Also sharing a plate of garlic bread (Bich wasn't really hungry) while Jeremy has a creamy chicken and avocado pasta and i chose a creamy red pasta with sundried tomatoes.

Later that night i began to feel incredibly sick, and went for a lie down to try and get some sleep but this feeling in my gut was awful and i could feel my food going back up my food tube.. (esophagus??)

At around midnight i spewed out my pasta dinner (i won't go into detail but it was definitely and no undoubtedly the pasta that i ate).

This is the fourth time in my life that i've had food poisoning.

The first: cherries, i have no idea why as they were new from the shop but it could be the fact that i was shovelling them into my mouth and not fully chewing them before swallowing (i love cherries but i went through a period where i was so turned off by them cos of this incident)

The second: a late night snack at a cafe in Liverpool (i've forgotten the name but its right outside westfields closest to the doors) it was a sunday night (i remember because it was work the next day and also Richard's birthday) and i had a chocolate croissant. I felt sick when i woke up in the morning and out it came ew. I have not eaten a croissant ever since! (this was around 2006-2007). I have not been there since.

The third: Bircher Muesli i made myself which i kept in a box with a loose lid in the fridge. If the lid wasn't broken and it was closed properly then i don't think i would've gotten sick as usually they keep for about a week in the fridge except this was only at day four. I had some around 10am for morning tea and not even an hr later i was insanely sick with vomiting and was sent to the doctor and then home. I didn't eat bircher muesli for a long while after that, at least 3 yrs. I made some last year but the satisfaction in eating it was no longer there (and i felt like i was eating it for health purposes only, not for any cravings of any sort)

And now my fourth time, due to a pasta dish at this restaurant.

Initially i had no plans to do anything except move on with my life and perhaps never set foot back in that restaurant. After telling Mel though, she convinced me to tell the restaurant owner, and i also thought maybe i could ask for some sort of compensation.

I rang Santos the next day but although the manager was not there, the waitress (i assume) took my name and number and said her boss will ring me back some time soon.

A few hours later the manager rang me back and asked me what i had, and proceeded to tell me that he served the same dish to eight other people and so far no complaints, and that he also receives his ingredients fresh off a refridgerated van and that his food storage and handling complies with the food acts in Australia (or something along those lines).

He wasn't at all talking to me in a contradicting manner, and was very professional about it, and he offered me a free meal the next time i came in because he did want me to come to his restaurant again. So my name is down in books as 'free meal'.

Now my question to you is - what would you do in my situation? I know it's free food and all but i've been slightly scarred from the incident. It's unlikely that i will get food poisoning two times in a row (i have eaten at the old Santos a couple of times with no problems), but should i be wary? Should i take the offer?

I'd love to hear your thoughts..

Photo's courtesy of

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chocolate Pinwheels

I've been wondering whether or not i should post this recipe & photo up - as you can see they didn't turn out very well :(

The reasons why i decided to go with posting this up - is to maybe warn others about this type of recipe, mistakes i made, things i could of done better.

One thing i know that could be improved - is the rolling of the dough. Both layers should be separately refrigerated before rolling up (as this makes both layers more firm and less likely to collapse when you're rolling). And also refrigeration time extended to two hours or more (it depends on the day if its hot or cold but usually the colder the dough is the easier it is to roll and cut up.

Nevertheless, these biscuits were made for my workmate over the christmas break as his parents were visiting from India (and they had seen most of my baking goodies via webcamming on the internets) so i thought they might like to try some while they were here.

Chocolate Pinwheels

125 g butter
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg
1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 place butter sugar and vanilla in a bowl and beat until creamy. add egg and beat until well combined.

2 divide mixture into two equal portions. sift 1 cup flour into one portion and mix to combine. sift together cocoa powder and remaining flour and mix into the other portion

3 roll out each portion between two sheets of grease proof paper to form a 20 x 30cm rectangle. Remove top sheet of paper from each and invet one onto the other. roll up from longer edge to form a long roll. wrap plastic in cling wrap and refridgerate for 1 hour

4 cut roll into 5mm slices, place on baking paper on trays and bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. cool on wire racks

*these are ideal last minute biscuits as the dough can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator until needed

Monday, January 18, 2010

Restaurant Botanica

Apologies for my really late post on my Hunter Valley trip (i've been super busy with work & studies and personal life that my blog is suffering). And i also have posts to do on my NZ trip!

* * *

After a day of browsing the hunter Valley, going on a half day wine tasting tour, and a quick nanna nap we headed off to our dinner destination - Restaurant Botanica.

I had searched up a few Restaurants close to our hotel (we stayed at the grand mecure it was lovely!) and printed out menu's so we could decide where we wanted to eat. After all, we werent going to the hunter all the time, so choosing a good restaurant would prevent us from feeling like we wasted a trip up.

The reason we chose this restaurant is because their menu sounded more vegetarian friendly & also catered for my boyfriend the Carnivore.

The sun was setting, it was a nice balmy night with a soft cool breeze, and we were really looking forward to eating dinner together. At this point i was thinking i wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world, as it felt like we were on a romantic getaway with just the two of us :O)

The restaurant was empty when we arrived, but within 20 minutes of being seated another 2-3 tables were filled. The decor is modern, with many softly dimmed lights on the ceiling, and with lots of room in between tables (is this a Hunter thing?? it was almost as if we were on our own because the next table beside us was atleast 3-4 mtrs away)

There were two options on the menu to take. Two courses $55, and Three courses $65. We chose one each, so that we could both have dessert, and share 2 mains & an entree.

Complimentary starter bread
with olive oil and red vinegar dip

We started off with some beautiful freshly baked bread (still very warm) that was kept in a basket on a table in the middle of the restaurant. Served with this was a dash of dark vinegar in a bowl of olive oil. I do prefer butter with my bread rather then olive oil actually, but despite the bit of mess involved with dipping bread into oil- i really liked the contrast in the vinegar and the olive oil - and it was fun trying to get both on my bread pieces.

Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato D'Asti 2006 $60

When given a wine list i straight away searched for a muscato (my favourite wine with or without food). I found one bottle i was interested in, and despite it being on the 'dessert' wine list, it didn't bother me to drink it with my meal, and i'd rather be drinking something that i like, then something i dont like (most red and white wines!).

The wine had its sweetness, but it was also light and lively as well. Being only a 375ml bottle, we both only had about a glass & a half, but this muscato is the NICEST muscato i've ever had, & the waitress said it was imported directly from Italy (does anyone else know where i can get this? I've googled and found nothing!)

Tasting notes from the wine cask blog :

Sweet citrus nose with dense bubbles and fizz upon pouring

Smooth and dense on the palate

More sweet citrus on the finish with a beam of honey and cream

Complimentary stuffed Zucchini Flower

I'm not sure of the name of this dish, but the zucchini flower was stuffed with a mixture of scallop and prawn meat, served on a dollop of aoli sauce. I picked out the meat and just ate the flower, and it was extremely juicy (they are comprised largely of water).

You might be thinking how wierd is it eating a flower - but these lush flowers are popular In Italy. The egg yolk coloured flower is also used in soups of fillings for quesadillas in Mexico & central America.

Char grilled asparagus, soft polenta,
mushrooms & goat's curd

We shares this entree, and i have to say that everything was literally melt-in-your-mouth delicious! You can tell that they used the freshest produce, and the chef was a true artist with the way he plated this up. The goats curd had a most creamy finish, & the asparagus was so fresh, it tasted like it was just blanched in hot water quickly and then placed onto the plate. The asparagus and fresh greens on top was a delicate contrast to the polenta and goats curd.

Loin of lamb, sautéed kipflers, broad beans
and beetroot with mint pesto

I'm not sure what Richard had, but it looks more like "Fennel pepper crusted pork cutlet, ragout of tomato, basil and eggplant" after i had emailed them for a copy of their menu. I recall him describing the meat as extremely tender and juice, one of the nicest cut of meats he'd had.

hand cut linguini tossed with prawns,
fennel & spinach

I chose this for my main as there wasn't anything else really vego-friendly. The prawns were in a generous serving, and were quite large- i picked them out and over to Richard's plate. The linguine was al dente, and was simply tossed around with fennel, spinach, cherry tomatoes with a hint of lemon juice. A very filling dish, but at this point i was still eager to see how nice our desserts would be.

warm ginger & cinnamon pudding,
vanilla bean icecream, almond & pistachio nougat

The contrast in hot and cold, soft and crunchy made this dish very interesting to eat, with every spoon of warm pudding i had, was followed by a spoon of the icecream, and then a piece of the nougat.

spanish donuts, chocolate sauce & coffee icecream

Again here they have used the concept of crunchy & soft, hot and cold. The churros were still warm, after being dipped into the hot chocolate sauce, eaten, then having a spoon of coffee icecream, my mouth really enjoyed the party of food!

Both desserts were gorgeous, and it was a very hard decision at first to choose because they were competing with these..

Strawberry tartlet, vanilla bean ice cream

Mango parfait with poached raspberries, pineapple sorbet and passionfruit

Liquor affogato ~ vanilla bean ice cream, frangelico sip, espresso shot, cinnamon cookies

The service here was impeccable, the staff were very friendly and helpful, always with a smile on their faces.

After our dessert, and as the restaurant had quite a few more diners, we went up to the register to pay so we could go home & watch some true blood haha :)

Being the first and last dinner of our hunter trip (we were only there for one night), i was amazed at the quality of the food, and the diversity of produce on offer for our meals. The desserts were nothing too fancy, but as simple as they were, i enjoyed them nonetheless. I would highly recommend this restaurant if you were ever visiting the hunter, and I'm sure this will not be my last visit. This has set a bench mark for dinner dining in the Hunter, and i'm positive that other places serving dinner will be just as good, if not- then even better.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Pretty in pink heart cakes

On my one week holiday break from work (yes, i only got a week & one day off!) i was baking something almost everyday :) This was the first.. i found it in the better homes & garden December issue, but instead of buying a sponge slab cake - i cut out hearts from cupcakes (a lot of wastage, but i never seem to get any 'cakes' right when i do try to bake them)

Cupcake batter:
makes about 12

1.1/3 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g softened butter
3/4 cup casor sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tbs vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

Pre heat oven to 170"c

Sift together flour & baking powder.

In a separate bowl, cream butter for 1-2 minutes. Add the sugar a third at a time, beating for two minutes after each addition. After the last addition, beat until mixture is light & fluffy and the sugar has almost dissolved.

Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition or until mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.

Add a third of the flour to the creamed mixture, and beat on low speed until combined. Add half the milk and beat until combined. Repeat this process. Add the remaining third of the flour and beat until thoroughly combined (do not over beat cos this will toughen the mixture)

Spoon into cupcake patties and bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove cupcakes from tray and let cool completely before cutting out the hearts.

So as you can see i wasted a lot of cupcake (but not to fear, my mom likes eating plain cupcakes so she snacked on bits for a few days after hehe. An easier option is to make a slab of sponge cake, or to buy one (as the recipe in the mag calls for anyway)

to assemble the cakes:

Raspberry or strawberry jam whatever you have (about 2/3 cup)
1.5 cups icing sugar
1 tbs butter (at room temp)
2/3 tbs boiling water
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 drop red food coloring
edible sugar roses (or any other decoration that you want to use)

So, before you cut out your hearts , slice your cupcake in half horizontally first - then cut out the hearts from the top half and the bottom half separately (its neater this way rather then trying to do both top and bottom in one go)

spread one side with jam and sandwich with another piece.

Sift icing sugar into a small bowl and add butter. Stir in enough hot water to form a firm paste. Stir through vanilla and red food coloring until a runny icing forms. Stir till smooth.

Spoon icing over cakes allowing it to drizzle over sides. Top with decoration and set aside until the icing has set.

I actually ran out of butter, so my icing came out slightly translucent! But these cakes were so fun to make (it took me about 2.5 hrs all up but cos i was also watching a movie at the same time tee hee).

I had bought these heart shaped cookie cutters a few months back (impulse spend) so i'm glad i finally got to use them.

Another thing i did a lot over my break was play the new super mario on my DS - I'm totally addicted to it, that i sometimes snap at anyone who tries to ask me anything while i'm playing :)

Restaurant Cuvee

Restaurant Cuvee @ Peterson Champagne House - Hunter Valley
Corner Broke Road and Wine COuntry Drive
Pokolbin NSW 2320

P: 02 4998 7881
F: 02 4998 7882

Richard organised an overnight stay in the Hunter Valley for us (no reason, just cos he loves me! hehe <3)>

It was slightly cloudy on the morning we arrived (we left home around 6am, it was about a 3 hour drive north of western sydney) but with so much green and lovely scenery, we put the weather aside and just enjoyed our morning together.

Upon sitting down this little bird cacme to say hello, it was so cute and i was making sure not ta make any sudden jerking movements for fear of it flying away. It stayed with us for a good minute or two hehe.

With vineyards in our view, we went through all the wineries that we should visit, and also discussed where we should be eating for lunch, dinner, and the next day breakfast & lunch! (so this is the first of a few posts for the Hunter Valley)

We were the first to arrive for breakfast, whilst walking through to our tables i could hear clinking and clattering in the kitchen of food getting prepped, & we asked for a seat outside so we could take in the views and fresh air.

The house had a clean but rustic look about it, with everything set up really neatly, and with lots of room for outdoor seating, there was a lot of space between each table so it didn't feel very crowded. I also remember reading that they also offer wedding receptions... :P

mocha $4.50

chai latte $5.50

We started with hot drinks. Richard's mocha was strong and creamy, with a nice sprinkling of chocolate powder on top (which i usually get a heaped teaspoon of before Richard takes a sip hehe) and my chai latte was smooth with a nice chai smell (and perfect blend of spices) i really enjoyed my chai, not many places can make a proper chai latte (most often i find they just dunk in a chai tea bag and add boiling water and milk).

"magnum" $20
Bacon, eggs, sausage, grilled tomato,
hashbrown & thick cut sour dough

Their breakfast menu has interesting names and here Richard goes for the magnum (and also gives me the 'magnum' look that Derek Zoolander gives at the end of his movie which makes him famous once again haha).

When asked how he would like the eggs, he asked if he could have one poached and one fried sunny side up and the girl says she has to check and shortly.. comes back letting us know that it won't be a problem (yay i love runny yolks).

The bacon he says was moist with crisp skin bits and not too salty. & as you can see both eggs were cooked to perfection (lok at the sheen on the yolk) and the poached egg one prick of a fork and the yolk came oozing out it was a beautiful sight!

"cuvee" $18
marinated field mushrooms, English spinach &
Binnorie daily fetta served on toasted turkish bread
(extra hashrowns $4)

I loved everything on my plate and left nothing behind (and even ordered a 2nd hashbrown even to begin with hehe i love my hashbrowns). The fetta totally enhanced the flavour of the mushroom since the mushroom had only little flavour and the fetta was so creamy and just the right amount of saltiness, and the spinach wasn't too bitter (baby english spinach maybe it was).

The hashbrowns were so good, crisp on the outside with real potato on the inside much like a really good McDonalds hashbrown but just right out of the fryer and onto our plate so it was still hot. I also asked for a side of ketchup (can't have hashbrowns without ketchup) and i got a generous serving in a shot glass... what a messy eater i am hehe

Having breakfast here was a real treat, the service was excellent and having the whole outdoor area to ourselves (well almost, a family came in half way through our meals but because it was so spacious it was like they weren't there at all) we were able to sit and enjoy everything around us.

How perfect does the grass look?!

I would have to say this breakfast made the top of my list ! Shame its a 3 hour drive away though, i can't wait to come back to hunter valley i loved it (and look out for more posts coming up!)