Sunday, February 27, 2011

La Casa Ristorante, Russell Lea

As a rule we here at the Empty Fridge would not describe ourselves as 'romantic'. We simply don't do the loved up eye gazing soul connecting that so many couples do on that one day of the year - Valentines day. After driving past La Casa every single day, we thought it'd be nice to warrant an occasion where we could potentially end up in a food coma. Reading delicious reviews of this family owned restaurant (Brother and Sister team Tony and Carmel Rugerri) and following Carm's delightful tweets, it was too difficult to stay away any longer.  So came into fruition a new tradition; The "Non-Valentines Day" celebration - no romance, strictly food only.
La Casa's very own wood fired pizza oven
So on this lazy Sunday evening a Concord girl and a Henley boy decided to meet halfway on Lyons Road, Russel Lea. As long time locals of the area, we have been desperate for a great Italian place to open up. A 5 minute drive where we could venture when the fridge is in fact empty. La Casa is the perfect home away from home where the smells and comfort of the food just hit the spot. 
As soon as we were seated, we immediately felt at home. We tell our lovely waitress Daniella our plans for a non-romantic dinner, we can't help but notice that even though it was early on a Sunday night, the place was filling up rather quick! "Daniella, do we have a time limit on this table? do we put this?..we really want to eat." So with a bottle of Lucarelli Negroamaro our amazing meal begins.
 Polpette della Mama $14 or Mama's meatballs for those unversed in Italian. 
Now we don't know what Mama Rugerri's secret recipe for these soft, perfectly seasoned meatballs is, but we would offer ourselves for temporary adoption and the promise of producing bottles of Passata if we could have this for dinner everyday. If historical architecture can bear any comparison to food, then this would be the colosseum of italian home style dishes. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kazbah, Top Ryde - The Breakfast Feast to end all Breakfast Feasts.

I timed my drive to Top Ryde that morning, it literally took me 7.5 minutes, and that includes driving through a speed camera so it's not like I was driving like a hoon. The traffic gods were smilling down on me and my Yaris as we Tokyo drifted it into a perfect parking spot in the relatively new Top Ryde Shopping Center. The traffic gods knew - there was food to be had, and there was an unimaginable amount of it. It was a breezy Sunday morning and thanks to all the co-ordination efforts by my friend the Boss Lady, we got together a group of 6 fabulously fierce and hungry females (the FFHF for short).
Roll Call (yes, my nickname is indeed 'Token Asian')
Now I have herd nothing but great things about Kazbah's breakfast degustation banquet - for $25 a head, you get stuffed silly with their Middle Eastern breakfast dishes - which is exactly what happened this day. There was some confusion when we booked - at the time the website stated the minimum persons for the banquet was 6, but when we called and booked for 7 they informed us that the minimum has changed to 8 people. We argued that the info on the website was different so they accommodated us. On the day, our 7th friend could not make it and they informed us that they would be charging us for a 7th person since it we didn't inform them of the cancellation - so guys, be wary of this when booking large groups. Pick committed eaters! Okay, so now lets begin. There is eating to be had!!
Our jaws drop when they place the first 3 dishes onto the table. I don't think any of us were prepared for the portions. Three bowls, probably of an 8inch diameter of breakfast sweets to start us of. The first photo (above left) is the Banana porridge with a date compote . Beautifully presented condiments to add to these dishes also arrive - small glasses of warm and cold milk, blueberry compote and some brown sugar. Colourful tableware also fills our table, everything tying into the Middle Eastern theme.

Sweet couscous, mix nuts, dried fruits, stewed rhubarb
Warm rice pudding, saffron poached pear, crushed hazelnuts

Friday, February 25, 2011

Summer Food Events to Remember..

Watch out - Drop Bears about.
Summer, the season of fun in the sun - and for many, a season of memorable food and drink events. It could be a weekend BBQ, a romantic picnic, a boozy balmy evening or a beer and beach cricket session - there is always something fun to do in the summertime. Just jump on a train, bus or in our case, the trusty Yaris - and no doubt you can enjoy a weekend adventure.
In the next coming weeks and weekends there are several food related events for Domo to poke a stick at (yes, its been few and far between Domo appearances on this blog.) Malaysia Kitchen was a massive hit last week and lucky for us there is more fun for food and drinky drinky lovers to come. The March into Merivale is an epic event in itself, this weekend's NSW Wine Festival for the lovers of vino, Cocktail Island (unfortunately postponed) is also on the cards to name a few. Not to mention all the BBQ's to kick off footy season too! One food event I truly enjoyed last year was the Taste of Sydney Food was truly memorable.
I was looking through old photos from last year - and I actually wanted to find a funny photo to send to Helen@grabyourfork as an entry to win tickets to the 2011 Taste of Sydney (details at the end of the post) You see, these photos were taken B.B. (Before Blog) but I just wanted to share it here because we had too much fun.. emphasis on the too much part. I couldn't help laughing as I was going through these photo's from last year's event, sometimes Demos and I just exist in this little world where we don't notice anything but each other's sillyness. I have recieved so many weird looks when I pull out Domo from my bag..
Caprioska + Ping Pong Cocktails from Longrain / Pork Saddle with smoked bacon &peas from Balzac

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sky Lounge, Felix & Dada - A rather boozy evening in Hong Kong

So as you might have guessed by now, here at the Empty Fridge we happen to enjoy having a drink or two. You can even say that our second persona is that of the Empty Liquor Cabinet. No we don't have drinking problems despite evidence to the contrary. It's purely coincidental that our drinks bill always costs more than food. All jokes aside though going out to bars for a drink and some snacks is a very enjoyable past time and what better place to go and indulge in that past time than Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is a truly remarkable place. Everything is open until late and there is a constant hustle & bustle even in the late hours of the morning when you are stumbling around looking for the next drinking spot. One of the great things is that there lots of very nice hotel bars. We decided to start one such evening at the Sky Lounge at the top of the Sheraton Hotel. Arriving early at 8 we got a good table with panoramic view of Victoria Harbour and decided to have some Bollinger to kick things off. What better way to start our first night in Hong Kong with a bottle of champers - doing 'Strayas Bogans proud. Don't worry, we got some tapas too. Don't call AA yet. Thanks. 
People enjoying the panoramic views and Asia's biggest light show while listening to the Sheraton's 80's inspired sound track and voice over narration. All that jaw dropping neon splendour.
Some of the small fare we ate to take the bite out the champers and prepare our stomach for the onslaught ahead. Croquettes and some Wagyu beef.
Sky lounge has a very interesting take on the traditional dim sum menu - but instead of dumplings and spring rolls, they serve a more mediterranean tapas selection. They also have a fun cocktail list with customised drinks that relate to your chinese zodiac sign. This was a perfect venue to experience the iconic and electrifying lightshow that lit up the Hong Kong Skyline and Victoria Harbour.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tomato Sauce Day - Italian Backyard Style.

Mention the words "Tomato Sauce Day" to several Italians and you can guarantee that they would get flashbacks of their respective family memories. I distinctly remember a scene from the movie "Looking for Alibrandi" where everyone gets together in the backyard to make sauce. It looks like a blast with Italian folk music playing in the background..but, as is often the case - our Italian backyard is not like the movie. I have to burst this imaginary notion of a  laid back and relaxing Tomato Sauce Day (TSD) -it is not a time nor a place to Mambo Italian in the backyard. It is that one day of the year where everyone is expected to perform back breaking labour to produce bottles of precious, homemade tomato sauce which serves as the base of family meals throughout the year. And when they say they make it in bulk - they mean BULK!
The night before, the Boss Lady and I were out, enjoying a rather boozy saturday night. She says : "Tomorrow is are coming and you are writing about it, you are an adopted Italian anyway". Boss Lady clearly gives no options - and I was more than happy to oblige! I have always wanted to participate in this tradition, so come Sunday morning my adoptive Italian family, Boss Lady, and our respective hangovers were all present in the backyard. We already got scolded because TSD starts at 6am sharp.. I can't even tell you what time we started participating! And so the day begins, surrounded by tomatoes!
TSD is a very well organised affair. I can tell that my adoptive Italian family are experts in the art of TSD and have their well oiled procedure down pat! I'm  lucky because some strict Italian families do not let non-italians help during TSD. Apparently ruins the sauce! This is a silly myth but I washed my hands with Italian soap (Palmoli-vino) as a preventative measure.The first sets of photos above show the preparation. The ripe tomatoes are sorted and selected, washed, cut in half and put aside. All up there were 34 large boxes of fresh tomatoes to turn into rich tomato concentrate (passata), and this was just for the small immediate family! Some families make TSD a major "once a year" family affair - producing massive quantities of sauce with Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents involved in the process. This was TSD was small in comparison!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Opera Kitchen, Sydney Opera House

Opera Kitchen is not your ordinary food court - it is an iconic food court. Tucked between two Australian Icons - the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, this kitchen is a stellar destination. It is the latest addition in the Opera House precinct, just underneath the Opera House concourse. It features bite-sized menus of popular restaurants such as Becasse, Charlie & Co, Cloudy Bay Fish Co, Misschu and Kenji Japanese in another section. Given the choice of 4 eateries - of course we would try each!
Located on the lower level of the Opera House, next to Opera Bar - It is an ideal place to spend a hot Summer's day with a crisp glass (or bottle..) of Australian Wine or down a beer (or two..) Many people avoid this area of the city because it is too touristy - ie. crowded and expensive. And when you are dining in Circular Quay on a budget - sometimes your only options are Mc Donalds or City Extra. Well, not anymore because you can enjoy the view without sacrificing your tastebuds.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bar H Restaurant and Bar, Surry Hills

Friday night in Surry Hills. We got a parking spot right at the front of Bar H without even having to try - it was a miracle on Campbell Street. "If parking was this easy there is no way we are getting a table".
As we approach the entrance we can see several of the bar seats already taken and the tables quite full. The very friendly host tells us a couple by the window looks like they are finishing up - we can stay by the bar and should have a table in about 10. Jackpot!
We wait by the bar and admire the oh-so stylish interior. Bar H is a relatively new addition to the Surry Hills casual dining scene. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner - but our visit here was for the sole purpose of kicking back and enjoying a friday night vino. The wall behind the bar doubled up as a design feature - it was a floor to ceiling wine rack (pictured above), and Demos promises me he'll build me one of those one day along with our shared walk in closet. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

10 Course Degustation Dinner - Alio, Surry Hills

When an email popped up with the text "We are going to Alio - its a Degustation dinner, and you're blogging about it" I got super excited. My two fabulous girlfriends and supporters of The Empty Fridge cause - The Boss Lady and Wiki Mel have embraced the idea that every dinner we have would be shared online. I count them, along with my mom - Mrs Fridgemagnet to be my most enthusiastic readers. "G, are you ever going to put that post on Alio up? You are being super slack on the blog front - unacceptable." Yup, this dinner at Alio was actually a Christmas catch up and they so kindly remided me of the delay.
There are times when my brain feels like mush and I am the worst decision-maker - it was actually great having the venue pre selected by friends. Having our 6 courses mapped up for us gave us more time whinging about all things non-food related and less time deciding and racking our brains as to what to order. Wine was easy - it was one of those weeknights where everybody needed a big glass of Vino. Demos' fuzzy logic of "It's an Italian place - we are having Italian wine" was  in place and so a bottle of 2005 Beni di Batasiolo Barbera D'alva Sovrana was selected. Now i'm no where near an expert in wine - but I do find that Demos and I are always drawn to wines from the Barbera D'Alba region of Italy. Tonight's selection was light in acidity but still had a strong bold and fruity flavour making it easy to go down after a long day.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Laduree Macarons & a morning in 'Paris'

Okay, the title is misleading. Technically speaking - I didnt exactly spend a morning in Paris, but the Laduree Macaron pop up shop was close enough for this francophile. I was over the moon when I found out that during our trip to Hong Kong, there would be a Laduree pop up shop in town - with Macarons flown in from the motherland. Seeing as a European holiday was not on the cards, my inner Blair Waldorf (for non gossip girl viewing readers, think prissy little socialite) was let loose on our second day in Hong Kong.
I was immediately weak at the knees when Demos and I arrived to the Joyce Department Store in Queens Road, Central. As we walked into the store I couldn't help but think - have we walked into a giant pistachio? The area by the entrance to the store was transformed into a little parisian escape - from the light green walls, the very chic macaron cart in the same shade. Although there were pastel coloured displays all around and a shoe department ahead in the corridor - my eyes were drawn to one area only - the macaron counter.


Related Posts with Thumbnails