Sydney Part One: The Quay

If I could sum up our trip to Sydney in one word, it would be 'food'. 

Seeing as Paul is a chef and all, we spent the majority of our time hopping around Sydney and trying out the local food scene. We ate everywhere from local patisseries and bakeries to fine dining restaurants and smaller local hangouts and bars. We had some phenomenal food to say the least. I feel so spoilt! 

The first thing we did when we arrived in Sydney was eat at the famous restaurant, The Quay. It's situated - you guessed it - on Circular Quay, across from the Sydney Opera House. The restaurant expands over two levels and the entire wall facing the ocean is made out of glass for optimal viewing pleasure (I had lots of fun watching the ferries go to and from their docks and giggling about some of their names). 

As you can imagine, this is the place to go for fine dining in Sydney. It has won a lot of awards; It's the highest rated restaurant in Australia (29th in the world in 2013) and Peter Gilmore, the executive chef, was on Masterchef a few years back adding to the restaurant's fame. So many of our friends from work recommended we eat here and now I totally understand why. 

The food was amazing, to say the least. We had four courses and shared our choices so that we could taste as much as we could. Each new course was basically a sensual delight. It looked good (and photographed well may I add), the smell made your mouth water and basically each bite was an explosion of beautiful flavours! Just writing about it now is making my tummy rumble with delight. We also had amazing service, as one would expect from such a place, and our waitress was full of personality and she was absolutely hilarious. 

Anyway, on to the pictures of the food...

This, my friends, is the best drink I have ever had. Literally, anything with green tea in the title automatically begs for my ordering. We didn't order any alcohol when we ate there primarily because it makes the experience so much more expensive (hello $1500 for a bottle of wine, no joke!) so we stuck to having a mocktail each. I can't remember what this was exactly titled on the menu, but it was a green tea syrup with lemon, lime, mint and I'm fairly sure there was some vanilla in there too. It was just super refreshing and perfect in every way. 

Course One: Salad of celery heart, Pantelleria capers, aged feta, rare herbs and flowers. 

I ordered this for two reasons: 
1. I felt that if I ate something else off the first course menu, I'd probably explode by the end of dessert.
2. 'Rare herbs'?! As if I could pass up the opportunity to eat something that most people haven't eaten before. I had to have that experience. I have no idea what herbs they actually did use but they tasted delicious! 

Saltwater poached quail, takuan pickles, fermented shiitake, salted egg yolk, smoked parsnip and kai lan blossoms. 

If you can imagine this dish, and then times how delicious you think it would be by one hundred, that's what this tasted like.

Course Two: Pork belly cooked slowly in cultured butter, milk curd, roasted koji, kombu, sesame with a smoked pork rib broth.

Excuse me while I fangirl over this dish. DAT BROTH! If there is a God, he would eat this dish every single day. My mouth is watering just thinking about that broth. It was amazing. I cannot even describe to you how it tasted because all I remember was that it tasted like the definition of perfection.

Black pudding with walnut floss, brioche cream, green walnuts and raw mushrooms.

Paul talked me into ordering black pudding. For those of you who don't know what it is, it is essentially pigs blood. I can hear the collective cringing of every vegetarian and vegan out there right now. And yes, I cringed at the idea too but Paul assured me it was delicious so I took a leap of faith and tried it. Basically, pigs blood does not taste the way we think it does. It's slightly sweet, but the texture is a little gross but everything else in the bowl kind of made me forget about that. The walnut floss which are the little crunchy looking pieces, were my favourite! 

Course Three: Duck poached in a fermented green plum master stock, scorched amaranth leaved, forbidden rice, umeboshi.

Feel free to google parts of this dish because that's what I had to do. Forbidden rice is just black rice in case you're wondering. I know, I was disappointed that it wasn't something more exotic too. I asked Paul what he thought about this dish and he said, 'om nom nom nom'. I think that sums it up nicely. Those two pretty flowers you see there, they were... interesting... It was like a garlic bomb went off in your mouth followed by the sensation that you ate something really, really spicy. 

Roasted grass fed pure Angus, mushrooms, grains, miso and eggplant. 

I don't like beef that much. If I could just each chicken I would be happy but this dish, this made me reconsider beef. I've never liked red meat so much. It was so creamy and tender and delicious and meat eaters should be salivating at this dish right now because it was amazing. 

Course Four: Milk, honey, quince and almonds

Mm dessert, my favourite. It was interesting because The Quay was really brief in how they described their dessert. We had to quiz our waitress about what exactly the dessert options were. This wasn't the best dish to photograph so I'll do my best to describe it. It's quince ice cream with white chocolate covered almonds, honey (which I think were the crunchy flakes you can see sitting on top) and milk. This dish was basically like a surprise on a plate.

Custard apple snow egg.

This is the dessert Peter Gilmore created on Masterchef. We saw at least fifty of these being served while we were at the restaurant. The egg was basically a delicious meringue with a crunchy shell sitting in a bed of custard apple snow egg. I did not realise that custard apple is actually a fruit, I thought it was literally custard and apple mixed together. Cue facepalm. This definitely lives up to the hype, it was so delicate and delicious. 

After our lunch we got to have a tour of the kitchen which had such a nifty layout. We didn't meet Peter Gilmore personally, but he was walking around the restaurant as he was being interviewed for a newspaper and he did flash us a smile at one stage.

Well I hope your stomach is rumbling for some delicious food right now, because mine is. I'm not going to go and eat some food because writing this has made me super hungry. 

Paul is 20!

Today is Paul's 20th birthday! We started off the day with a surprise pancake birthday cake for breakfast. My entire family stood in my bedroom singing Paul 'Happy Birthday' in their pyjamas at 6.30 this morning, waking Paul up. I don't think he really comprehended what was actually happening until I came back with three chocolate chip pancakes topped with Maggie Beer ice cream. 

Today begins a five day celebration for Paul's birthday. Although turning twenty isn't quite the same as turning twenty-one, I've been saving really hard over the past couple of months and we're off for a bit of a holiday to Sydney for the next few days. We're doing all of Paul's favourite things while we are away. We're eating at some amazing restaurants, getting take-out pizza to eat in bed and most importantly, we splurged on some tickets to see The Lion King, Paul's favourite Disney movie. Hopefully we both come back really, really refreshed and ready to tackle everyday life again.

Tonight Paul's family cooked an amazing meal to celebrate his birthday and a delicious cake to match so I thought I'd share a few pictures. We're all now enjoying some mojitos with very full bellies. Naturally, because we're away until Saturday, I won't be updating the blog until then, but you can follow our adventures on instagram until we get back to share the real photos.

Aliss watching all of the excitement from the lounge room.

Teen Blues

At the end of January, I got together with Andrea, a pal from high school, to create some suburban magic in the street I used to live in when I first moved to Geelong. I was feeling particularly angsty around the times these were taken and I wanted to embody my emotions in someone who has a killer style and fabulous make up skills.

I've been waiting to share these forever because I really enjoy this set of images. We submitted them to Rookie a few months ago and although we got an amazingly enthusiastic response from them initially (I kind of screamed haha) we didn't hear anything back after subsequent emails, so I thought it was high time that I shared them here. 

Thank you to Andrea for being the fabulous model. She even did her own make up and styling. I was super impressed!