Saturday, July 30, 2011

Crust Pizza

When my flatmate discovers something amazing, different and extremely 'useful' she will claim that the thing will CHANGE YOUR LIFE. For example, say that she discovers a nifty kitchen appliance, some fabulous tasting food or a beauty product, she will probably say that it has a life-changing status.

WELL, I think Crust Pizza will CHANGE YOUR LIFE. The base is amazingly crisp and not oozing with oil onto the cardboard pizza box. There is a proportional amount of toppings on the pizza. And the toppings are gourmet and don't feel like they have been soaking in oil, have been fondled around by pubescent teens or transported in the back of a truck for hours.

The thing that I LOVE about Crust Pizza is the 'invent your own pizza' online option. On the Crust website, you can choose from a range of bases, sauces and a great long list of toppings. For indecisive people, this could be a nightmare and I would suggest that you just get a pizza from the a la carte menu. But for those who want something different, something that no one has probably had before, and something that is special, pick your own pizza and toppings and be amazed!

Crust Pizza
21 Kennedy St, Kingston, 2604
Crust Pizza locations in the ACT:
Crust Pizza locations in NSW:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Grill'd burgers

My flatmate came back from her 6 week overseas trip - YAY. Her boyfriend and I decided to bring her out to Grill'd burgers, which opened up just down our street.

First of all, they offer wholemeal bread - YAY!!!

I got a 'Field of Dreams' which had grilled field mushroom, roasted peppers, basil pesto, tasty cheese, salad (ordered without the herbed mayo). It costed 11.50. I was pleasantly surprised as the burger was really good. The ingredients were fresh, it wasn't too oily and it lived up to the name of the joint as my burger had a great char grilled touch to it. The balance of all ingredients was just right and at almost every bite, I could taste every single ingredient in the burger. This burger was designed with love!

My flatmate and her boyfriend ordered:
*'Baa Baa' Burger with lamb pattie with avocado, tasty cheese, salad, relish & herbed mayo 11.90
*The Smashed Pumpkin (Winter Special) with grilled 100% lean beef, feta, rocket, tomato, spanish onion & smashed spicy pumpkin 11.90

They were equally as happy with the burgers :). And my flatmate said "I think Brodburger has a competitor" - I completely agree.

Westfield Woden
Restaurant Precinct
(Outside Fresh Food)
Woden 2606


In Canberra's balmy Autumn, a bunch of the grads went to Brodburger for one of the grad's birthday. For those who don't live in Canberra, Brodburger is a little red caravan nicely situated near Canberra's 'iconic' Lake Burley Griffin. After ordering your burger, you'd sit in the park in a picnic-like fashion and enjoy the views of the lake.

Before going to Brodburger, I heard rave reviews of the place and that it makes the 'best burgers in Canberra'. The hype of the place was heightened by the lengthy 30 minute wait after ordering my burger. It was definitely a novelty to visit this place. And it is impressive that they created such a big business out of the tiny tiny caravan where they cooked the burger. I grew up in hospitality and commercial kitchens so I can safely say that the size and way that a kitchen is set out has a massive impact on the quality and speed of the food. The 30 minute wait for my burger @ Brodburger can definitely be attributed to the minuteness of the caravan and its limited capacity to have extra staff and a larger grill plate. Maybe, just maybe the smallness of the caravan and long wait subconsciously makes people think that their burger is more special than what it really is.

For me, the food didn't live up to all the hype. I felt like I could have recreated my vego burger at home, for a fraction of the price that I paid at Brodburger. My burger had an assortment of char-grilled vegetables (mushroom, eggplant, zucchini, capsicum) topped with fried haloumi cheese and a white vinaigrette dressing (kudos to the website for this detail). However, the oiliness and squishiness of the eggplant overpowered all the other veges, especially the haloumi which was meant to be the *star act* of the burger. Maybe I ordered the wrong thing. There was a grilled fish burger that sounded devine.

Another grad ordered a 'Brodburger Deluxe' which had: 2 x A grade gourmet beef patties, flame grilled, Eggs, lots of crispy bacon. Topped with fresh lettuce, tomatoes and Spanish onions. Includes homemade aioli and tomato relish. This looked fantastic and great value for money (see picture below).

Despite the average food, I loved the 'drop-in' nature of the place. We had a large group of friends, so even though some came late, it didn't disadvantage the rest of us who wanted to eat. Its an open casual place, reminiscent of Milson's Point Park in Sydney where people would order take away pizza in a nearby pizza joint and sit in the park.

Brodburger - Flame Grilled Burgers - Food Caravan
Bowen Park Carpark, Bowen Drive/Wentworth Av, Barton ACT 2604
Note: later in the year, Brodburger is moving a few hundred metres down the road to Canberra Glassworks. See

Saturday, July 23, 2011

charity bake

On some Mondays at work, my colleagues would bake some delicious treats to raise money for a chosen cause. I promised that I would participate in at least one baking Monday before my I move Sections.

So I had a crazy baking weekend and made:
*Chickpea, polenta and herb muffins
*Flourless chocolate cake with white chocolate bits and a whipped cream topping

The chickpea muffins were a bit dry - I should have predicted this as the raw mixture lacked moisture. However, the chickpeas added a nice wholesome, satisfying and even creamy texture to the muffins. If I were to cook them again, I'd definitely add some more olive oil or butter. Another issue was that the recipe didn't specify whether it needed cooked or raw polenta. The cooked muffins were a bit crunchy, so I assume I should have cooked the polenta beforehand. Luckily, it was possible to mask the crunchiness but asking my colleagues to heat the muffins up in the microwave before they ate them :)

The flourless chocolate muffins were rich and like little bites of chocolate heaven. Only problem was that because they had no flour, there was not much to 'hold up' the actual cupcake - so they deflated and looked dead 5 minutes after coming out of the oven. Thank goodness for whipped cream! I must admit, I opened the oven door a few too many times during the baking process because they were going to be burnt (we've got a weird oven), so this is a lesson learnt!

i heart visitors to canberra

I LOVE having my friends visit me in Canberra. Milly came down from Sydney for a weekend, and we had a raaaaanggge of food. One night, we were classy and had a sit-down Thai dinner. We were yuppies the next day and had a cafe lunch. Most of the time, we were preparing our stomachs for alcohol or were in a rush so relied on bread and dip. After getting super drunk, we got New York style pizza. You can tell much about our activities on the weekend, just by looking at the list of food that we ate.

Zen Yai Thai
This next set of pictures were at Zen Yai Thai @ Civic. I had the lemon grass chicken and it was fantastic. The lemon grass gave the chicken a crusty exterior, as if it was deep fried (but healthier). It was the perfect combination between sweet, savoury and spicy. Milly had the tofu stir fry which was nice as well. It was definitely one of the more 'authentic' Thai places, as opposed to those places which claim to cook Thai food but tastes like my mum's Cantonese cooking.

ZenYai Thai
111/117 London Circuit

Edelweiss Gourmet Deli
For much of the weekend, we feasted on bread and dip. The dips were Carrot and Pumpkin/Rosemary, which we bought from Edelweiss Gourmet Deli @ Woden Westfield. It was very pricey - we paid more than $10 for a small container but they were more than amazing. I preferred the pumpkin dip, which was rich, creamy and full-bodied. The rosemary really enhanced the pumpkin so at every bite, you'd get the best parts of roast pumpkin, as if it just came straight from the oven. The carrot dip was light but full-bodied as well. A bit 'crisp' even. It's not as creamy but still delicious.

Edelweiss Gourmet Deli
Woden Westfield

Gus' Cafe
Milly's has a friend from Canberra and we all caught up over lunch/brunch at the Gus Cafe in Civic. As of now, I've brought nearly all my Canberrian visitors to this cafe. I like this cafe because of its dark brown relaxing decor, ever changing Specials menu, vegetarian-friendly food and friendly atmosphere. The prices aren't the best, (from $15 for a decent sized cafe meal) but I'm willing to pay a bit more just to spoil myself every now and then. This time, I had an egg-white Mediterranean omelette. It was tasty, healthy and had a decent portion of veges in it. There aren't many cafes that serve egg white omelettes (cholesterol-friendly), so I get super excited when I find one :D. While this meal was satisfying, I swear they put bacon in it, even though it wasn't on the menu.

Milly had lentil croquettes - they were okay. Crispy (as expected) on the outside, which complemented the soft lentils inside. They also had a good spice to them. It was a bit heavy as there seemed to be a high proportion of breadcrumbs mixed with the lentils.
The third dish in these pictures were Mexican enchiladas, I think. Although I didn't try them, Milly's friend didn't have anything to complain about :).

Gus' Cafe
Shop 8 Garema Arcade
Bunda Street, Civic

New York Slice Pizzeria
Milly and I went to a graduate party on Saturday night. We drunk too much, too quickly and had to balance it out with food - of course with the oily, fast and unhealthy type. We went to New York Slice- I think they are named this because New York is known to have really large (and good) pizzas. I've always wanted to go to this place because they always display pizzas three-times-the-size-of-my-face and a range of pizzas. It always seemed like the perfect guilty snack... and it lived up to my expectations that night. I think we got the mixed Vegetarian option (my memory of that night, for obvious reasons, isn't great). The pizza I had in New York was def better, but I have no major complaints about this place. The base was crispy, the pizza was hot and fresh enough. Perfect for your post-drunken feast or quick snack.

New York Slice Pizzeria
Garema Place, Civic

Brunch at Grub & Tucker in Newtown

There's no 'Newtown' in Canberra. Newtown is a suburb in Sydney where 'anything goes'. There's a huge cafe culture, funky clothes shops, indie music theatres etc. There's a place called 'Grub and Tucker'. It sounds 'aussie' but its menu has things like Begian Waffles - hey, multicultural is as 'australian' as it can get. Anyway, I had brunch with my girls and it was lovely. The serving sizes were generous and I enjoyed every bite of my honey ham panini. I'd definitely go again.

Grub & Tucker
191 King St,
Newtown NSW

Max Brenner

Its winter in Australia and the cold weather calls for hot chocolates, comforting sweets and good times with friends. I've been to Max Brenner a bit recently so I thought I should do a blog post on some Max Brenner food that I've eaten over the past few years. Fortunately, I have a few pictures to complement this post. These pictures were taken at Max Brenners in Sydney at Castle Towers, Paddington and Newtown... and in Canberra at Belconnen:

*Chocolate souffle - this isn't a traditional souffle which is made from little flour, beaten egg white and deflates after 5 minutes after it is baked. Max Brenner's chocolate souffle is a rich, fluffy and indulgent dessert. Its not for the faint-hearted or for those who don't LOVE chocolate. I had it many years ago so my tastes might have changed, but it is definitely my favourite dessert at Max Brenner.

*Dark hot chocolate in a hug mug - This will satisfy your craving to have a sweet hot chocolate. The hug mug is definitely a positive novelty. How much you will like this hot chocolate will depend on how much you like the chocolate per se produced by Max Brenner. I find it to be sweet and not very refined. I'm a picky eater so I'd scale it as 'it will do'. That's just my taste anyhow.

*White chocolate chai - There's a picture of this in the top right hand corner of the collage. They give you a 'tea pot', that squirts out chai when you place it carefully over the glass mug. Many desserts with white chocolate fail to assert the very gentle taste of white chocolate - they often combine it with another ingredient and that often over powers the white chocolate. However, Max Brenner did well with this. With the first sip, you experience a hybridity of emotions - chai = somewhere not in Australia and white chocolate = childhood. It is also quite sweet. In the tea pot, you can actually see the spices used for the chai - and this is transformed to the drink where you can taste most spices. This is great and is much better than the powered chai you get in most cafes.

*Belgian waffle - I had this years ago and remembered it to be amazing and almost perfect. However, I went to Belgium last year and had this waffle again at Max Brenner and changed my mind. The waffle I had was a bit stale. It seemed like the waffle was stored for hours or even days. My Belgian friend told me that there are two types of waffles in Belgium, and this circular one is made from a 'heavier' batter. The waffle at Max Brenner stays true to this convention. It's good for those who just want a waffle with chocolate but it's not really amazing.

*White chocolate cloud - This was weird!! Encased in a chocolate shell was a fluffy creamy white chocolate mixture - it wasn't like a meringue, or a marshmallow or a cream tart. It was actually quite heavy and rich. I shared it with another person, but it was still too heavy for my liking. I'd recommend it if you were really hungry, craved sugar and wanted something different.

*Chocolate crepes - There's a picture of this in the bottom right hand corner of the collage. Honestly, I can't remember much of it but I remember it being good!!

*Not shown above, but I also had a chocolate pizza once - man! this was sickly sweet. I'm a fan of most hybrid foods, such as savoury muffins, apple crumble pizzas etc, but the mixture between melted chocolate and plain thin bread was a bit too much. I think what I didn't like about it was the mixture of textures and there wasn't much to balance out the sweetness of the chocolate and marshmallows.

I might have been a bit mean and critical in this post. I still think Max Brenner is good and its a great novelty. But I would likely choose other chocolate cafes (i.e. Lindt) over Max Brenner most days.

home food in sydney

Sydney is not home without being able to have cooking adventures with my mum. I love going back home and enjoying the complex flavours of my mum's food, which goes far beyond the 2 or 3 ingredients that I use in my after-5 rushed cooking in Canberra.

My mum recently did an Indian Vegetarian cookery class with the local community college. A local Indian lady led the class and shared her recipes. Using one of the recipes, my mum and I cooked Palak Paneer - an Indian curry dish with Indian-style cottage cheese (paneer) and can have peas and/or spinach. It had over 20 ingredients and many processes but was well worth the effort.

We also made some wholemeal roti. The teacher of the cooking class said that she would make these from scratch every day!! It's definitely an art, and we struggled a little - out of the 6 we made, only 2 were successful. The roti is basically just flour and water, kneaded out into a small pancake. Once you place it on the plan, its meant to 'pop up', showing that the hot air of the pan has entered the roti and is cooking its inside (see second last picture of this collage). This gives the roti to have two layers when its cooked, allowing you to put food inside the roti (see last picture of this collage).

Another thing that I love being at home is not being embarrassed to share food, and even if the portion is already small. We got a packet of S'mores pop tarts from the USA earlier this year. Toasting it brought happy memories of childhood when I learnt to prepare my own breakfast for myself - yay for independence. These pop tarts were interesting - you could definitely taste the marshmallow, chocolate and the graham cracker, but I still prefer making my own S'mores.

i heart sydney

So I haven't had much time to update this blog because well, my flatmate was overseas for 6 weeks and in attempt to keep myself busy, I went to Sydney whenever I had the chance. But a trip to Sydney is not complete without gorging on the food there. My increasing winter belly has benefited from that.

And pictures pictures - of course. I'm not completely neglecting this blog!

Sushi, Guylian chocolate, a vegetarian meal @ the Mind Body Spirit Festival, my lovely friends and I @ Newtown, a home-made salad the size of half a stock pot and home-prepared quail.

One place that I'd definitely recommend is Correlli's in Newtown. It's on King Street and in a old 'School of Art' building. It was good because the food was fresh, balanced, tasty and generous for what we paid. Oh and the atmosphere is nice and casual.

Man, I miss Japanese food - Canberra is deprived of Japanese food as I know it - delicate genuine but complex flavours, well prepared/cut sashimi, non deep-fried options and fresh. Here, we ate at Epping's Sushi Bar. You'd get a decent feed for less than $15 and its one of my favourite sushi places.

Tokyo Sushi Bar, Epping

The below pics were taken at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. It includes:
* 'deep fried cheesecake' (err cholesterol hit, yes?)
* the famous Woolworths food hall (where you'd go sample-crazy)
* displays of food (amazingly cute) etc

Friday, July 22, 2011

tuna/ricotta/spinach filo bake

sorry - i haven't updated this for a while! Sometimes after work, the last thing I want to do is to go on the computer and play around with this blog. Sometimes I crave coming online and creating something via this blog.

I'm just about to go out, but here's a picture of a pie that I made to comfort my winter cravings - a filo pie with tuna, ricotta and spinach. 
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