Exploring the Local Scene

I have been getting out a little more the last few weekends exploring some of the local cafés and treating myself to brunch.

First up, Side Ways Café:



French Toast with Berries & Ricotta



Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon

The Temperance Society

  The Temperance Society is a newly-opened wine bar in Summer Hill. It’s quickly become one of my favourite places to hang out – when I can get in that is! It is very popular with the locals and has received a lot of publicity in a short time, so Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights find it packed. 

The wine list provides a tantalizing selection of wines and cocktails inspired by the local area, and I am eager to try more of them. So far I’ve had a lovely Italian prosecco, a crisp rosé, the spiced cider and a delicious cocktail called Little Myrtle, made with St Germain and home-made lemon myrtle liqueur. 

Little Myrtle cocktail

They also have a good selection of craft beers and rum-laced hot chocolate, perfect for warming up on a cold Winters evening. 
The bar snacks include free popcorn,  a generous cheese platter for two (or one very greedy cheese-lover), bread and dips, rabbit and pistachio terrine and toasties.

The cheese platter

There are a number of seating areas, but my favourite is the upstairs library,  decorated with comfy leather sofas, wingback armchairs and a large library with an eclectic selection of books. 


The Library

The service is also very friendly. Coming back downstairs the other night to order a second round of drinks, I was greated like a long-lost friend by the barman. This is one of many reasons I will keep coming back.

Bar Car Nights at the NYBG Holiday Train Show

The annual New York Botanical Gardens’ Holiday Train show is a delight for both children and an architecture junky like me. Over 150 scaled historic, iconic New York buildings and bridges are recreated by Paul Busse and his team at Applied Imagination with stunning detail in leaves, twigs, nuts and bark, set amongst the tropical landscape of the Enid Haupt Conservatory.


It’s really quite magical. This year for the first time, I attended one of the Bar Car Nights – strictly adults only! Continue reading

Duck and Glass Noodle Salad

IMG_5496Last year after cooking a rather large roast chicken for Easter, I was looking for new and inspiring dishes to use up all the leftovers. I turned to Nigella Lawson’s “Feast” and came across a fantastic asian-inspired Turkey and Glass Noodle Salad. According to Nigella, it draws inspiration from Vietnamese ingredients.

This is a very versatile recipe – you can easily substitute duck or chicken for turkey which is what I did this year after Christmas. It’s also a great refreshing dish after the excess of Christmas dinner and reminds me of home. One of the things I have missed living in New York is great Vietnamese and Thai food.

Notes: I tore the duck rather than cutting it up and substituted pea shoot sprouts as I couldn’t find bean sprouts. Continue reading

Afternoon Tea at The Mandarin Oriental

I’ve not had afternoon tea for several years so while my Mum was here in New York a few months ago, I thought it would be fun to try out somewhere new. I settled on The Mandarin Oriental because their menu sounded interesting, afternoon tea with an international twist, and I knew the view from their lobby lounge over Central Park was perfect for the out-of-town visitor – to give them a real “New York” experience.


It was a delicious and memorable afternoon. The staff was terrific – friendly, professional and accommodating. We turned up late in the afternoon without a reservation, but they quickly seated us and pulled the afternoon tea together in a matter of minutes. And the view did not disappoint. In late September, Central Park was still a carpet of emerald greenery.

The scones were a particular favourite – partly because I haven’t had a proper scone since leaving Sydney seven years ago. Light, warm, crumbly with a hint of ginger. I also loved all the savoury sandwiches. The flavours were perfectly balanced. I chose to drink English Breakfast tea, the Rose of New York tea was very tempting, but I wanted to make sure the flavour of the tea didn’t interfere with the other delicacies.

Definitely somewhere I will go back to. Continue reading

Delia Smith’s Chocolate Truffles

In a recent conversation about food and cooking, one of my younger friends told me she didn’t know who Delia Smith was! I was amazed by this since Delia is pretty much the reason I’m such a good cook now. Thanks to her excellent recipes and detailed instructions, I was able to try new and different recipes with almost 100% success rate. Delia was really my first proper cookery teacher and engendered a love of traditional English cooking which endures today.

For the uninitiated, here are a couple clips of her making chocolate truffles – the recipe is on her website: