Sydney to Melbourne short domestic flight QF407; a full flight filled with business people, including yours truly. Special meal fruit platter was still available for order.
Breakfast: a predictable small apple, banana and soy milk.
I still don’t entirely know why they think people who choose to eat fruits would want soy or to avoid dairy. But there you go.
QF121, Qantas short-haul international flight from Sydney to Queenstown, economy class. The flight was just over 2 hours, but I could still order the special meal fruit platter.
Fruit platter: main platter in bigger chunks than usual with skin and rind; side bag contained small Red Delicious apple, small banana, dried cranberries (donated to Richard), soy milk (discarded/returned).
Meanwhile, the rest of them had a good 3 options, which I was quite impressed with:
There was a minor beef sauce spillover incident. (The barramundi would have been my choice if I hadn’t ordered the fruit platter.)
After the main meal, there’s Weis ice-cream bar:
… as well as Lindt chocolate truffles.
USB charger port available on the front of each economy seat of the Boeing 737-800.
On our new quest to try every restaurant at Miranda Fair, we stopped at Mejico Miranda for dinner tonight, which I was feeling a little ambivalent about. On one hand, I’m not a huge fan of eating with my hands in public; on the other soon to be dirty hand, we do love our spicy food and Richard always liked Mexican.
The place was quite full on this Friday night, but we managed to grab an outdoor table without booking. The waitress explained the “Feed Me” banquet as she handed the paper menu to us. For either $55 per average person, or $80 for someone really hungry, the table would get this, and this, and this, and that… a whole heap of dishes, as she recited the actual menu. I was thoroughly impressed with her excellent memory, but for someone not already familiar with the food options, we just couldn’t follow and would do much better with a printed version of it. We settled on the fact that the banquet was “basically a little bit of everything”, and even though I’m always really hungry (as we all know), I wasn’t interested in the desserts and we opted to order our own dishes.
Scallop ceviche on house-baked tostadas ($16) and tuna ceviche on hand-cut tortilla chips ($16). These bite-size gems were super fresh with the right herbs to give their own distinct flavour, and a nice contrasting crunch from the toasted tortilla chips. I preferred the scallop ceviche and Richard the tuna, but both were very good.
With the maximum 3 chilli icons on the menu and how much I love hot food, I was really, really looking forward to the feta-stuffed jalapeno poppers, served with chipotle mayo ($14). The small plate dish unfortunately received what Richard dubbed the “Shire treatment”. Crunchy, greasy, cheesy – yes, but the jalapeno peppers were very carefully scraped clean of any seeds, resulting in zero detectable heat. Zero, my friend. They should know not to deceive Vickie with 3 chilli icons!
(By now Vickie should also know better than to expect many foods in Sydney to live up to 3 chilli icons, which often only just set her up for disappointment.)
Back to eating with hands, our tacos arrived. The achiote chicken taco ($12) came with chorizo, cucumber, cumin and chives just to keep up with the alliteration, and maybe also taste; whereas the slow-braised lean pork taco ($12) had chilli caramel salsa and aioli with extra pork scratchings. I liked that they weren’t modern cheese-covered abominations, but the soft shell tortilla tasted overpoweringly floury to me; to Richard the tacos just lacked a certain kick.
The only main we ordered was the lamb adobo with house-made chimichurri ($29). The rare lamb was super tender and fatty on the sides, and I thought it was nice enough with the adobo and didn’t need the accompanying oily and subtle-tasting chimichurri. Not the biggest of main in volume, but definitely good enough to be a winter night dish if you didn’t skip the green sauce and trim off the fat like I did.
Looking back at the menu, I discovered a few of the dishes we ordered that weren’t spicy at all were actually given 1 chilli icon. I also don’t know if we would get better value from the banquet menu or if it’s just designed for the less picky. Overall, apart from the “Shire treatment”, I was quite happy with the meal and service. Eating with my hands might not be so bad after all?
|Address||Westfield Miranda level 2
Shop 2202, 600 Kingsway, Miranda NSW 2228, Australia
|Speciality / Cuisine||Mexican|
Entree (ceviche, Small Plates, tacos): $12-16
Main (Bigger Plates): $24-32
Set Menu (Feed Me): $55 per person (classic) / $80 (deluxe)
Our company had a table at the Cancer Institute NSW’s 2015 Premier’s Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research (“Cancer NSW Awards”) dinner held at the Doltone House, Hyde Park tonight. We dolled ourselves up after work (which for me really just meant I slipped on a dress), brought our partners along, and gradually regrouped at the function where excellence and innovation in cancer research was celebrated. We all know, however, that there was only one thing I was really after tonight: the food (sorry, you genuinely excellent and innovative cancer research people).
Before the awards night officially began, cocktail canapes were served around the dimly lit ballroom where professionals professionally mingled. Tonight, the canapes menu was rather Asian-inspired, with items such as the very soft and sweet mini barbecue pork buns, prawn dumplings with soy sauce that was too salty, and my favourite bite-sized smoked salmon cream cheese pikelets. No pictures of the canapes; we had also unfortunately and inadvertently formed a closed circle that didn’t invite many canapes waiters.
There were many famous faces, including the witty and hilarious master of ceremonies Adam Spencer, whom I admittedly hadn’t heard of because I live under a rock, and other big names from the health field. We helped ourselves to the soft crusty bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip on the table. After the first couple of awards, entrees were served. The awards presentation was viewable from pretty much all angles because it was cast on the many large wall-mounted TV screens.
The great thing about bringing and sitting next to a partner to events like this? The opportunity to choose my dish! We worked out early on who would get which plate from the menu. For the entrees it was an easy decision. Richard got the prawn cocktail because he loves prawn, and I’m certainly not going to complain about my perfectly cooked, flavoursome herb-rolled lamb back strap.
For the main, I picked the chicken breast wrapped in prosciutto served with polenta, while Richard had the other, the slow cooked beef cheeks with creamed potatoes.
The only thing I remembered about my chicken breast in prosciutto was how ridiculously salty the accompanying polenta was. I finished the meat and the buttered spinach, but just couldn’t take another bite of the cornmeal.
Richard’s slow-cooked beef cheeks was definitely the far better choice. It’s succulent and tender and oh my god Richard you have a slow cooker at home we have to start using it and attempt to reproduce this dish, right now!
Professional manners, professional manners…
The night was overrunning a little by this stage, but there’s dessert to make up for it. They were the passionfruit cheesecake, or the Belgium chocolate fondant.
Another wrong decision on my part for picking the passionfruit cheesecake with berry jam and meringue. Underneath the adorably round cheesecake was a delicately presented meringue that I’ve never been a huge fan of (my fault), which was sickly sweet (not my fault) and despite being crispy, was quite hard to eat without it attempting to fly off in the opposite direction (not sure if my fault). I saw several from other tables leave their meringue on their plate.
The chocolate fondant with orange bitter semifreddo, which I got to try because Richard performed his boyfriend duty and let me have a good chunk of it, was once again superior and the word “indulgent” comes to mind. Still too sweet for my liking, but that’s most definitely just me.
Overall, the award dinner’s serving size was very decent compared to other functions I’ve attended, but I found the food to be generally over-seasoned. But of course the awards night was all about the achievements of the various experts in the field. Congratulations to all the awards winners and nominees for all their accomplishments and contribution to the community!
|Address||3/181 Elizabeth St, Sydney NSW 2000 Australia|
|Speciality / Cuisine||Functions and events|
|Other Notes||Attended as a work function|
Are you ready for an obscene amount of gelato photos in one post?
The whole saga began when I first heard about friends driving out specifically for a gelato run (people do that?), and then later someone else asked me what my favourite gelato place was (none at the time), what I thought of Gelato Messina because they thought it was all hype (I’d never visited a Messina at the time) and recommended another gelato place in Sydney (still yet to visit). Gelato is apparently a pretty big deal to many, so I guess there’s only one way for me to find out and form my own opinion. Yes, Vickie finally visited Gelato Messina to see what the fuss was all about. This is what Gelato Messina at Miranda is all about!
Note 1: I don’t have a sweet tooth so very little sweetness would satisfy me and any more quickly overwhelm and sicken.
Note 2: I generally avoid caffeine after a certain hour and usually only have gelato after dinner, so I may never try many of the coffee or chocolate flavours. Boo.
Note 3: I am cuckoo for coconut, so expect just a little bias. smile
Note 4: Blank comment means it tastes fairly standard (and that’s not a complaint).
Note 5: This post will be continually updated as I revisit the place. Oh, spoiler. I revisit the place.
Post Last Updated: 25 Jan 2016
There is a plethora of standard gelato flavours available, and the first time I went there I just didn’t know where to begin. At Messina Miranda, the first and third display cabinets from the left are the standard gelato flavours that are available year-round.
Gelato Messina: Gelato (standard)
|Apple Pie||This flavour has my usual complaint of the apple pie crust crumbs being too large a lump, but it wasn’t soggy and that I appreciated. I love apple pies themselves but wasn’t particularly fond of this flavour.||25 Oct 2015|
|Banana Split||I liked the banana-ness on the first few tastes, but after a while, it seemed to have dissipated and I could only taste caramel, peanuts and chocolate.||25 Oct 2015|
|Bounty||Coconut milk gelato with desiccated coconut and choc chip. I thought this tasted too chocolatey and not coconutty enough, but I’ve never had Bounty the chocolate, so I wouldn’t know how it compares.||2 Dec 2015|
|Choc Mint||This flavour tastes like mint leaves. It leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste, which I much prefer than the sugary fake mint flavour of some other choc mint ice cream. Every time Richard orders this, the staff would ask if he’s tried it because it’s just different from the typical choc mint.||31 Jul 2015|
|star||Coconut Lychee||Loved the very Asian coconut and lychee flavour combination.||14 Aug 2015|
|Hazelnut||31 Jul 2015|
|Macadamia Crunch||Macadamia gelato with crunchy sweet white chocolate bits inside.||23 Aug 2015|
|Pannacotta w Fig Jam & Amaretti Biscuit||Had a big scoop of this and a big wad of super sweet sticky fig jam hit and overwhelm me. I wish this was more pannacotta than fig jam, but if super sweet stickiness is your thing, this flavour would be your thing.||31 Jul 2015|
|star||Pear & Rhubarb||Lovely fruity flavour!||14 Aug 2015|
|Salted Caramel and White Chocolate Chip||A bestseller according to the Messina website, and I can see why. It’s creamy, sweet and slightly salty. It’s the complete diet.||25 Jan 2016|
|Vanilla||2 Dec 2015|
|Yoghurt & Berry||Tastes more or less like its name. There’s meant to be both raspberries and blueberries in the coulee, but every time I’ve seen it there’s only red swirls in it.||19 Sep 2015|
Sorbet, also available year-round, are on the furthest right. I could favourite all the flavours in this section!
Gelato Messina: Sorbet (dairy free)
|Blood Orange||Quite sour, which I love. Excellent as a palate cleanser.||9 Oct 2015|
|Chocolate Sorbet||Taste dark chocolatey and not overly sweet, and not thick like an ice cream or gelato. A lighter chocolate option.||14 Aug 2015|
|Coffee and Hazelnut Praline||The sweet crunchy hazelnut praline goes very well in the coffee sorbet. There’s enough hazelnut taste in it.||23 Aug 2015|
|Lemon Sorbet||Super refreshing, palate-cleansing, tarty lemony goodness.||11 Sep 2015|
|Mandarin||25 Sep 2015|
|star||Pandan & Coconut||Pandan and coconut are always a reliable flavour combination.||31 Jul 2015|
|star||Passionfruit||Comes with all the crunchy passionfruit seeds. Enjoyed the tartness.||14 Aug 2015|
|Raspberry||19 Sep 2015|
|star||Salted Coconut & Mango||A bit of mango puree on a coconut base with just a hint of salt. Love this.||23 Aug 2015|
|Strawberry||25 Sep 2015|
Special flavours are on the left hand side of the second left section. There are always 5 special flavours available and every weekday, a new one displaces an old. Unlike their standard gelato and sorbet, the specials would often have a million things going on. My general comments about these million things going on are:
And now, the ever growing Special flavours comment table!
Gelato Messina: Specials
|Rococo||Chocolate, honey and coconut gelato with crunchy, sticky nougat. I taste-tested this and thought I liked it, but the big scoop got more sickly sweet by the minute.||25 Jan 2016|
|Old Gregg||Baileys gelato with butterscotch sauce folded through. Taste test of Richard’s scoop and it’s very alcoholic!||1 Dec 2015|
|Pablo Pistachio||Light pistachio gelato smothered in white chocolate mousse and raspberry puree. I didn’t pick up a lot of the white chocolate taste (or my scoop just didn’t have a lot of the mousse in it), but I still liked the pistachio and raspberry flavour combination.|
|Pretz N’ Popped||Pretzel milk gelato with peanut popcorn praline. Ah, it’s the peanut popcorn praline, which I remember having in one of the old specials (Cracker Jack). Still crunchy, and I still liked the peanut flavour.|
|Big Cheese-Off||Pistachio & ricotta gelato, scented w/ orange blossom water & candied almonds folded through. The staff told me it’s quite cheesy; Richard thought it’s cheesy enough; I mostly tasted the pistachio. Occasionally the lovely orange blossom water came through as well. My only complaint is the candied whole almonds got quite soggy being embedded in the gelato.||9 Oct 2015|
|Cracker Jacks||Caramel peanut butter popcorn gelato with peanut popcorn praline. The praline was sweet and crunchy and the peanut tastes great with the popcorn. Enjoyed this.|
|star||Tongue Thai’d||Peanut and coconut gelato with cashew dacquoise and lime curd. Loved this! Very nice peanut taste. Richard’s comment on taste test of my scoop: “Taste like Thai!”||25 Sep 2015|
|Passionfruit Cheesecake||I got this as a full scoop after taking a taste test, but regretted my decision. I couldn’t taste any of the cheesecake but a watered down passionfruit gelato. The crunchy biscuit base chunks were so big they were distracting.||19 Sep 2015|
|star||Pina Coco-Lada||Bounty gelato with pineapple cake and mango puree. Love this one! It had more coconut than the super sweet Bounty gelato on its own, and the pineapple and mango taste went super well with it all. It was thankfully not as cakey as the Danny Two Times I had in the same cup.||11 Sep 2015|
|Danny Two Times||Yoghurt, orange and poppy seed gelato with orange cake. I loved this as the taste test and proceeded to get a scoop, but my scoop ended up being almost all orange cake, and barely the yoghurt, orange and poppy seed gelato I first tasted. Richard also had a full scoop, and both were so cakey they didn’t melt at all. Not a fan of this.|
|star||Burnt Caramel and Ginger||It wasn’t too sweet despite the burnt caramel name; love the ginger taste in this. Wish this was a base flavour available at other times! And this doesn’t even have coconut in it!||23 Aug 2015|
|VJ’s Coconut||Caramel coconut gelato with ginger lemongrass jam. Taste test only. Has more ginger lemongrass taste than coconut. I was very close to getting this as a proper scoop if I hadn’t felt like something more coconutty.||14 Aug 2015|
|Romanikerer||Peanut butter cheesecake gelato with peanut butter brownie. Very rich, to the point that I somewhat regret choosing to have a whole scoop of this.||31 Jul 2015|
|star||Standard flavour||Note to self: try this again|
|star||Special flavour||I wish they would redo the flavour in the future|
|all||I got fooled by the taste test! *shakes fist*|
TL;DR: Do I think Gelato Messina is all hype? Nope! Especially not if the staff at Miranda have been so consistently helpful and friendly, even when the place is super swamped on the weekends after a film. This is really bad for my waistline!
Westfield Miranda ground floor
600 Kingsway, Miranda NSW 2228, Australia
|Speciality / Cuisine||Gelato|
Scoops: $4.80 (1 scoop) / $6.80 (2 scoops) / $8.80 (3 scoops)
Tubs: $12.80 (0.5L) / $22.80 (1L) / $29 (1.5L)
|Other Notes||Cash only|
GELATO (# = yet to try)
Apple Pie (G)(E) – real apple gelato with our own house made apple pie throughout
Banana Split (N) – banana and caramel gelato with chocolate chips, crushed peanuts and whipped cream
Bounty – coconut milk gelato with desiccated coconut and choc chip
Choc Mint – real fresh mint gelato with chocolate chip
#Milk Chocolate with Choc Peanut Fudge (N) – milk chocolate gelato with chunks of choc peanut fudge
#Chocolate Fondant (N) – a rich decadent dark chocolate (contains nuts)
#Chocolate Chip – light cocoa gelato with chocolate chips
Coconut & Lychee – coconut milk gelato with lychee fruit
#Coffee – made with real espresso coffee (seriously)
#Dulce De Leche – an Argentinean caramel made by reducing milk until it becomes a sweet jam.
#White Choc Hazelnut (N) – white chocolate & hazelnut gelato with hazelnut praline
#Gianduia (N) – chocolate & hazelnut
Hazelnut (N) – made with fresh roasted hazelnuts from Cortemilia in Italy
Italian Nougat (N)(E) – honey based gelato with roasted nuts, egg whites and Italian nougat
Macadamia Crunch (N) (G) – caramelised white chocolate and macadamia gelato with macadamia crunch
Pear & Rhubarb – fresh pear gelato with our own poached spiced rhubarb
#Pistachio & Milk Chocolate (N) – pistachio and milk chocolate gelato with pistachio praline
#Poached Figs in Marsala (A)(E) – baby figs poached in Marsala (a fortified Italian cooking wine)
Salted Caramel and White Chocolate – salted caramel gelato with white chocolate chip (our biggest seller!)
#Tiramisu (G)(A)(E) – egg, marsala and mascarpone gelato with lady finger biscuits soaked in espresso coffee.
Vanilla (E) – made from fresh Jersey Milk
Pannacotta with Fig Jam and Amaretti Biscuit (G)(N)(E)(A-traces) – pannacotta gelato base.
Yoghurt & Berry – yoghurt gelato with poached raspberry and blueberry coulee
#Yoghurt & Caramel – yoghurt gelato with dulce de leche
Another year, another end of NBA season, another basketball tipping competition awards night dinner at our trusty ribs place, Hurricane’s Grill at Brighton Le Sands! Richard was last year’s winner (his first participation, too) and came a super close second this year, but it’s not like that would stop us from stuffing our faces!
The same dozen of us as last year (technically 13 this year because two are pregnant) were seated in possibly the darkest corner of the entire restaurant. A waiter came around to take our order at 8 pm, and our food appeared in about 20 minutes.
There’s only one dish I ever order at Hurricane’s:
Although you know something is horribly wrong if after one year, the same dish didn’t seem to have shrunk, but it no longer fills you up… surprised
The ribs ($49.50 for full rack; $38.50 for half) came with a side of either a baked potato with sour cream and chives, or a big serving of chips. Sauce (peri-peri, aioli, pepper, etc) is an extra $2.50 on the side, which is only necessary if you like to dip your chips. For a few dollars cheaper, you could also get other ribs like beef and lamb as a full dish or a half-half mix and match; but trust me, get the pork.
Other than the ginormous portion size of the full rack (other places claim to give you a full rack but they never come anywhere as close to this size), the best feature of the dish is still its sweet basting sauce. The ribs themselves still weren’t completely fall-off-the-bone as the limited special riblets I had at the Darling Harbour branch way back, but it’s tender enough for me to manage with only a fork and knife.
So far, Hurricane’s is still the most reliable franchise for pork ribs. Book ahead, though, because I think everyone agrees with me seeing how super busy the restaurants are even on weeknights!
If I had known there were only 3 food stops at the Canberra Airport terminal, I would have had a proper dinner elsewhere given all the time I had before the 8 pm flight back to Sydney. I thought about protesting at the airport by going on a hunger strike, until I had a closer look at one of the shops, Tuk Chop. Who could possibly resist a place that serves dumplings as part of their menu and also a wordplay in its name? Certainly not me. Canberra Airport has been forgiven temporarily.
After a very confusing round of order as I wanted one of each bun ($3 each) and one of each steamed dumplings ($6 for 3) — as in, no, I want one of each streamed dumpling item. No, not one dumpling from one dumpling menu item. Yes, I want a total of 2 buns and 9 dumplings please don’t judge me — I was instructed to sit around the corner. After another 10 minutes or so, these two disposable boxes came with the calling of my name.
There is simply no way I could turn these photos into anything pretty, but I have never been one too fussed about the appearance of food.
I am, however, very fussy about redundant redundancy. The dumpling on the menu was listed as “gyoza dumpling” on the menu. “Gyoza” means “dumpling”. “Gyoza dumpling” means “dumpling dumpling”. RAS Syndrome much? Grumble grumble.
I attempted a half eaten dumpling on chopsticks photo (I really had a lot of time before my flight). I failed. There’s very little filling in the dumplings and the wrapper completely fell apart when I tried to pick them up. I was also a little mystified by the Pork, Prawn and Egg dumpling. It doesn’t have egg as the wrapping so it’s not an egg dumpling (蛋餃), but I also couldn’t taste any egg or much of the prawn in the filling.
Meanwhile, Pork and Chives is a pretty standard filling, and the dumplings tasted pretty standard. At least they weren’t as empty as the curious Pork, Prawn and Egg.
The Chicken Bun had a solid lukewarm blob of minced chicken inside. The barbecue Pork Bun was served at a similar temperature, but the texture was better.
I firmly reminded myself that this is airport fast food, not pricey gourmet, and I probably only paid so much attention to my food because I had so much time to kill. But I still think I have chosen my menu items unwisely tonight. Next time I would probably stay away from the bottom left of the menu.