Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas Everybody!!!
What a year 2010 has been! First of all a big thank you to YOU for visiting us here in our little corner of the internet. Here at the Empty Fridge, we started our blog thinking that only our Mums and maybe a handful of our friends would be the only readers we would ever have. But through the last couple of months we have made many awesome new friends and have heard from  lovely readers - all for the love of food and fun!  

Tonight we are flying off to Hong Kong and then also heading to Manila (our first trip!) This our second time to Hong Kong, and it should be fun and food-filled!
Here are some Happy Snaps from our last trip to HK an Macau - until next time!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Greek Keftedes & the Sydney Food Bloggers Christmas Picnic

There are a million things I have to do right now - and on top of the list is packing. You see, we thought it was a smart idea at the time to book a flight on Christmas night. Yes, on the evening of the 25th we are boarding a plane at 10:00 pm..this is a guess a I haven't even printed the itinerary. Unfortunately, between finishing up everything at work, catching up with friends before the holidays and not to mention the 2 Christmas eve dinners and 2 Christmas day lunches between both Demos and My families - the last thing I want to do is the necessary - so I procrastinate! Here's hoping the magical elves pack my suitcase while I write up this post!
 A few weekends ago, the a few very lovely members of the  Sydney Food Blogging community (seen fiercely posing in the photo above care of Simon @theheartoffood) all joined forces to bring some Christmas cheer to Centennial Park. Organised by Helen @grabyourfork and Suze @chocolatesuze - it was a fun afternoon filled with delicious food, fun games and awesome company! Behold the sweet treats and prepare for hunger pains! The dish we brought to the Picnic were homemade Greek Meatballs - aka Keftedes. I don't even think that I can even say that "we" brought this dish - since the only contribution I made to the cause was a hand written sign saying what they were. Yes, it was all by Demos, who spent the morning rolling each serve, frying them, and organising everything down to the Christmas napkins and placemat.
I will add the secret family recipe at the end of this post - I don't think Demos' yia yia and pa pou wil be too happy about that though :) So for some distraction - check out some of the treats that were on the day...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Macadamia Sylvanas & A Big Christmas Brunch.

It's has taken me a while to fully embrace the holiday season - but there is nothing like a busy day of cooking christmas treats to get into the spirit. For this month's Kulinarya theme - we were asked to share a recipe for something you could give as a present or include in the "Noche Buena" tradition. This is the Christmas tradition that many Filipinos, including my family participate in. It involves stuffing yourself silly until 12 mindnight on Christmas eve - need I say more? 
I made a sweet dessert that is not very well known, but super delicious - Macadamia Sylvanas. It is pretty much buttercream with Macadamia nuts, sandwiched in between 2 super chewy meringue discs made with crushed macadamias and egg whites. It's a macadamia overload. Traditionally, they are made with cashews but of course I had to change it up. These sandwiches are frozen and served very very cold.
The sides are then rolled in more toasted crushed macadamia pieces, but you can't really tell with the photos. I think the macadamias give it a but of contrast from the sugary biscuit and buttercream filling. I used a cookie cutter to get the disks and froze the sylvanas as they are best served rock solid. I have included the reicpe I used at the end of the post. 
This weekend, we also had to endure a marathon cooking session for Sunday Christmas brunch. It is the last weekend before Christmas, and since Demos and I are going on holidays on Christmas night - it was nice to spend some time with family and friends. Yes, the excitement is kicking in - this time next week we will be eating our way around Hong Kong, and then travelling to Manila - my first time back since I moved to Australia nearly 12 years ago. So lucky for us the weather turned out beautifully, here is a photoroll of our boozy sunday brunch:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

10 William St - The Wine bar with no name & amazing food, Paddington

Extended Birthdays, Date Night, Wine Bars and Italian Food are things we hold dear to our hearts here at  the Empty Fridge.  We have been wanting to try this "mysterious" new establishment in Paddington since it opened, walking past it everyday as I go to and from work. From the day it opened its doors - the number of patrons just kept growing. I remember distinctly walking past on the first day of trade, looking at the front window and thinking "Has anyone actually noticed that a pigeon is just casually sitting on the pane?" No need to contact the Department of Food Safety and Sanitation, the Pigeon is stuffed. 
Once seated, we knew we were in for quite a treat. The downstairs bar area is always crowded, so we head to the second level which is still empty at 5.35 pm on a Friday. We were here quite early, don't judge  - you have to be as it gets packed in no time, and secondly - lucky Gianna, works just a few doors down. We decided to come here before we were to kick off Demos' birthday drinks at the Beresford in Surry Hills, trying to get as much to eat before the boozing was to begin. This was a good idea - it ended up being one boozy night.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Pendolino Restaurant, The Strand Arcade, Sydney

One of the best part of starting a food blog is having the opportunity to meet new friends. A few weeks ago, I was rushing to Pendolino after work en route to meeting two lovely ladies Trissa from Trissalicious and Kath from A Cupcake or Two.
This was the first time I met Kath and Trissa, but being a happy and talkative group - there was no need for first date nerves! The venue for our dinner tonight was Penolino - the exquisite and classic Italian restaurant at Sydney's Strand Arcade. What happens at Pendolino stays at Pendolino - but what I can share was the array of delicious dishes we had. Oh and a little fun fact that came about that evening - My Parents actually had one of their first dates and frequented Trissa's parents restaurant in the Philippines, small world - brought together by the love for good food!

Carbs were not the enemy that evening and we polish off the initial serve of Italian bread. There is a selection of Pendolino's specialty olive oil blends for us to try - the Frutatto, Limone (Olive and Lemon) and the Sanguinella (Blood Orange). I have an addiction to olive oil - but I have to say I was more drawn to the fruttato blend, the more traditional variety - rather than the flavoured oil.

For our Entrees, I start with the Burrata. For those who are not familiar with this italian piece of heaven, it is made from mozarella and cream - with a soft and almost watery texture in the inside. Burrata does not have a very strong flavour at all, and I love drizzling olive or truffle oil over it. My Buratta is serve with marinated tomatoes breadcrums for that added saltiness and crunch.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

MasterChef Live 2010, Moore Park, Sydney

The first thing to abandon you when you are sick are the beloved tastebuds - naturally for me, alarm bells were ringing. Thanks to my wonderful, friend / wingman (this be explained later in the post, promise!) Kath from A Cupcake or Two I was able to attend the MasterChef Live event running this weekend at Moore Park. A day surrounded by food stalls, and demonstrations from Australia's top chefs.. come on tastebuds, don't let me down - I have always been good to you!
Along with a Media scrum, and other lovely food bloggers - Karen from Citrus and Candy, Simon from Simon's Food Favourites and Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella we jostled for positions during the photo op with Gary, George and Matt. I really do enjoy seeing the chemisty and commaradery between these three guys - I don't think any of it is put on for show - I mean, look at that photo above of Matt partronising poor George the Christmas elf!

The Judges, along with several familiar faces from the show greeted the waiting crowds before opening the gates - and boy it was a bullrush! There are 2 parts to this event - The Festival of Cooking in the Royal Hall of Industries and the Masterchef Live theatre extravaganza show which was in the adjacent Hordern Pavillion
There were literally hundreds of stalls from Australian producers - homewares, specialty ingredients, popular restuarants, from organic producers to naughty sweets, kitchen appliances..It was like Toys-R-Us for the food obsessed. Just in time for Christmas, right? I always get overwhelmed during events like these - overstimulated by all the bright lights and food samples. There were a few familiar stalls from The Good Food and Wine show in July, but I found that there was a larger selection in this event.
The big point of difference of this event was the number of Cookery Classes all sticking with the MasterChef theme. Brining in the big guns and capitalising on the Celebrity Chef nature of the show - there were plenty interactive cookery areas run by popular chefs. In Basics Skills area, you can hone your cookery skills and master the basics of food preperation and cooking disaster free dishes - looking back, I think I should have done my family a favour and attended a session. The sessions are first in bessed dressed - so the more organised you are, the better you can plan your day and secure a spot.
Above : Individual Cooking stations at the Basics Skills arena and the Spice Station at the World Foods zone where you could create and take home your own spice blend.

Showtime! I've seen many concerts at Hordern Pavillion. Kanye West, Phoenix, The Strokes - but the true rockstars in the packed venue today were the holy trinity of Mastechef : Gary, George and Matt. Our tickets included premium seating so lucky for us we were seated right up front. The show was absolutely packed - and there were plenty of little Masterchef chef-lings in the audience too.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Gourmet Ice Cream Making Class at Serendipity, Marrickville

Ice Cream - most would agree that it can be considered as the world's best remedy. Remedy for what exactly? I'm not really sure but when Ice Cream is involved you can pick and choose any ailment and 9 times out of 10 a nice big scoop will cure it. I know this, because currently I have been constantly attacked by super immune system attacking bugs and Ice Cream is my constant companion. 
I was beyond excited when a few weekends ago, the sweet-as-strawberry-sorbet Rhonda aka The Dainty Baker asked me if I wanted to join her at for a Gourmet Ice Cream Making Class at Serendipity HQ in Marickville. Hell to the Yes! With summer fast approaching (yes - I know its the second week of December but these rains are not easing at all, so I am in Summer denial) I really wanted to have a go. So what better way to spend a Saturday morning than learning the tricks of the Ice Cream trade with Sarah Mandelson, CEO of Serendipity Ice Cream.
Serendipity Ice Cream is known for it Australian Made Ice Creams, with flavours that just awaken the tastebuds from your everyday ordinary varieties. They use top notch ingredients and the result is a bowlful of the creamiest, most luxiorious dessert. I was most excited to find out what flavour we were making. For today's class, we were making a batch of Wattleseed and Grand Marinier Ice cream. What a combo huh? As a group, we gather around the industrial kitchen and all listen attentively to Sarah. Some of us take turns in preparing the 2 main components - The creme anglaise, and the Sugar Syrup.
Because we were making such a large batch we pretty much had to quadruple the recipe. Anyone who tells me that "fat is not a dirty word" is pretty much an idol in my books. Fat is a big requirement in the ice cream making process and scrimping on the fat content of the milk or cream would sacrifice that smooth velvety texture. To make the creme anglaise - our "base" we mix the milk, cream, sugar and egg yolks in a double boiler. Stirring continuously and making sure to melt the sugar until the mixture thickens - we then leave this to cool.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Rockpool Bar and Grill, Sydney CBD

Did we just stumble onto a piece of Gotham City in Sydney? On the eve of my Birthday my very own partner in crime took me out to dinner to Neil Perry's Rockpool Bar and Grill. This is a restaurant that has forever been on my hit list and standing in front of the colossal art deco building on 66 Hunter St we were both in awe. Keeping with the Gotham theme I will be referring to myself as Batman - it's my birthday so I can do whatever I want. Gianna is just Gianna. Im Batman. Ha. Actually Gianna, you can be Penguin. 
Here at the Empty Fridge, we consider birthdays a perfect excuse to go all out on our dining escapades. I think the evil Penguin had extended celebrations this year, and not to be outdone - this was the first of several birthday outings. Lucky me. I am Batman.  
From the minute you step into Rockpool you can't help but feel amazed by the space inside. It is the very picture of opulence. My alter ego Bruce Wayne felt at ease in the dark and opulent surrounds. I am a sucker for all things marble with the exception of lions - I may be Greek but seeing as though I am Batman I much prefer Gargoyles. 
What I loved was that from the minute we were seated I felt so comfortable for a change. I mean as simple as it may sound I really think that having a comfortable chair with the right height and cushyness makes the world of difference when dining anywhere - especially after wearing a Batsuit all day - and boy does Rockpool deliver on that front.  After fighting crime all day and numerous encounters with the evil Penguin the appetite was bordering on voracious. Out comes the menu and immediately we are drawn to a few standouts. Kurobuta being the keyword. We start with the Kurobuta prosciutto and Capocollo, Rodriguez Chorizo, Blackmores Wagyu Bresola with pickles -$25. 


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