Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Quay to a Great Meal

Well I guess I gave the game away in the title so no need to ponder the question any longer!

I fully admit that I was reluctant to dine at Quay. In spite of the many positive reviews and members of my own family calling it their favourite restaurant, year after year, I would look at their menu and ask myself whether any meal, and particularly what was on their menu at the time, was worth $220 per person - without drinks. Even when Masterchef featured the gorgeous and now famous Snow Egg, I resisted, and not only because it was the one dish I was confident I couldn't have due to its egg content.Well I was finally persuaded to give it a go and I am very glad I did.
Quay has to have the best location for a harbourside restaurant. Even better, we were in what I would call the Captain's cabin, a small dining room upstairs from the main restaurant which I imagine could be hired for private functions with the right numbers. With sweeping views of the waterfront and Bridge, what more could you want?
We decided on the degustation menu, of course, with whatever substitutes required by my egg and my friend's nut allergies.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Library Cookbook

Or to be more precise, the St Andrew’s Cathedral School Library Cookbook!
This blog doesn't usually show advertisements (notice the lack of annoying popups and stuff - so just think of this as a community announcement) but the wondrous Connie W. author of the recipe for Tamarillo, Vanilla and Rosewater Jam was associated for some time with the SACS Library Team who have spent almost three years collecting, writing, testing and revising over a hundred mouth-watering recipes for their cookbook, which boasts the following features:
  • An international selection of traditional dishes
  • Spectacular food for special occasions
  • Simple satisfying meals for the whole family
  • All recipes tested by home cooks
  • Step-by-step instructions written by educators
All profits from the sale of The Library Cookbook will be used to support the work of  Room to Read - a global organisation seeking to transform the lives of millions of  children in the developing world by focusing on literacy and gender equality in  education.
Founded on the belief that "World Change Starts with Educated Children",  Room to Read works in collaboration with local communities, partner organisations and  governments to develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children and to ensure girls have the skills and support needed to complete their secondary education. Since 2000, Room to Read has impacted the lives of more than  four million children in Asia and Africa and aims to reach 10 million children by 2015. 
If you would like to support this cause and order a copy (or more) of The Library Cookbook, you can:
  1. Visit the library in person and place an order at the front desk (address below),
  2. Email the SACS Library Team at: with “Cookbook  Order” as the subject or
  3. Ring the library on 02 9286 9554.
Each copy of the cookbook costs only $25. If you require the library to post your order to you, please contact them to negotiate postage options.
*Unless you have requested postal delivery, we understand that you will pick up your order at the Library Workroom (St Andrew’s Cathedral School Library, Sydney Square, George Street Sydney 2000) but hurry as the library will only be open for the week beginning December 5th before closing for the holidays.
Email: Telephone: 02 9286 9554
Please note that YaYa's Yum Yums has no association or relationship with SACS. All enquiries should be directed to the contacts given above.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What's in a Name?

Cabins & Gonz - Cupcakes!

I honestly thought there was nothing new to say about cupcakes but then Lobo came across an offer from the Deal Me! people (one of the many and growing organisations which markets discounted deals as long as a minimum number of people buy it).

I was intrigued because not only was the price amazing (24 cupcakes in four varieties delivered for $35.00) but two of the four flavours on offer were unusual and one must never say no to chocolate!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Do you ever know when a child lies?

He looks up and asks her, "Have you been following the diet I sent to you?"
"Erm, maybe 50%?"
"You know, you really should. It really does get results."

Yeah, alright, it probably does help to follow a diet if one actually opens and reads attached diet plans within sent emails. Sigh. Admittedly I do eat out more than the average person, but surely one can make exceptions.... Particularly when it's Seiobo!

Another tree in the garden of the recently refurbished The Star comes along Seiobo, from the makers who brought you Momofuku. The deets - 15 course degustation for $175. I forget the additional alcohol add-on since I don't usually drink (or eat chocolate...). Bookings are taken via the web whether in NY or Sydney, so when a friend offered a spare place, I can't be so rude as to turn them down just to follow a diet!

Let's start. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Shanghai Stories 1938

Not a book of memoirs from a mainland northerner nor the next Jackie Chan action thriller (although it does sound like a Wong Kar Wai movie) but the name of a Shanghai themed yum cha restaurant just opened in Chatswood's new community precinct called The Concourse!
Serendipitously, I was on an errand in Chatswood and walked past the huge complex that is the Concourse when I spotted this intriguingly named restaurant and decided straight away that it was time to eat even though it was only 11am, aahh call it brunch!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Everyone has nice dumplings!

So say the people at

a quaint restaurant attached to the Commonwealth Pub in Surry Hills. It's the sort of place you envisage finding in a backstreet off the main road in Shanghai. Walking into this place was like getting on a plane and landing in an exotic location without the body-draining experience of air travel.

The ceiling was hung with bird cages of all shapes and sizes doubling as lanterns and yes, that is a bicycle!

An eclectic mix of bench seating and cowhide covered stools (which would have been at home in a Texan bar) along with row upon row of narrow picnic-style tables formed the furnishings; not unlike a pop-up restaurant which vanishes without a trace in the morning; except that the buzz and hum generated by the volume of patrons would seem to indicate that this place is not closing down any time soon!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tropical Sunrise Tart - King of Fruit Pineapple Challenge

I grew up, like the majority of Australians, eating tinned pineapple. I savoured the sweet crispness of the generally chilled fruit but still have memories of the metallic taste of the tin in which it was canned.

Fast forward several decades and fresh pineapple at the supermarket has gone from strength to strength, starting with an initial (practically inedible) tart variety which sent you scrambling back to the tinned ones to the non-acidic unbelievably sweet varieties now available.

All praise to the person who first braved the prickly exterior of this by-product of the plant's pro-creation.
When King of Fruit contacted the Yummers to ask if we would be interested in entering the pineapple challenge and offered to supply the fruit, how could we resist?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Kushiyaki Bar and Grill - Sugar Hit Preview 2011

There are two kinds of people in the world, people who favour sweets and people who prefer savoury dishes. I have an entire set of 'sweet teeth' and fall firmly into the first category. I was delighted to be invited for a sneak peek of Kushiyaki Bar and Grill’s 2011 Sugar Hit menu.

This year the desserts (which are produced at the tiny Azuma patisserie two doors away), have a stronger Japanese influence in terms of flavours and ingredients. As people are exposed to a wider array of cuisines from the plethora of cooking shows in the media, they are also becoming more adventurous with their tastes and are demanding more authenticity. I think this is a good thing.

Greeted with a glass of bubbly, we then sat down to some tasty ‘stomach liners’ to prepare us for the desserts that lay ahead.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tamarillo, Vanilla and Rosewater Jam - an original recipe by Connie W.

I was introduced to this gorgeous concoction by my first foodie friend Connie who gifted me a tiny jar of it many, many years ago, like Proust's madeleines the memories come rushing back everytime I open a jar and smell the perfume of the jam. It didn't last very long and was much too good to put on anything as mundane as toast or a scone.

Nope, this jam had to be eaten on its own, a little spoonful at a time so you could savour its full range of flavours, tart yet rich and exotic from the vanilla beans and rosewater. The fruit becomes candied and deliciously chewy as you bite down on each morsel embedded in the jam. The colour of the jam will depend on how ripe the fruit is and whether it's a yellow or red variety. Connie's jam was a dark red but mine is more orange in colour. I've tried this recipe with orange flower water as well and it tastes just as good.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tetsuyas ... again?!!

There is no way to disguise a dinner at this Sydney institution.
I would like to make a declaration - I am not a Tetsuya virgin. I had the great luck to have dined at the original restaurant in Rozelle (twice) and a few times after it moved to its current Kent Street location before this evening; so you will forgive me if I say that I was missing the surprise factor which is part of the whole Tetsuya's experience.
Anticipation is nine tenths of the enjoyment of a good meal and Tetsuya's is still one of the most coveted seats on the Sydney Dining scene. Marry that with a couple of significant birthdays and blogging it for the first time and you expect fireworks. Which is not to say that I was disappointed.We were lucky enough to be offered one of the private dining rooms (usually available at an additional cost). Away from the bustle of the main dining room, and owing to the attentive staff, it is easy to believe the restaurant is open just for you.
But, I still remember the first time fondly - I didn't have to pay the bill; it was the first degustation menu I had eaten (eating what your parents give you doesn't count!); it was one of the first up-market restaurants I had dined at and it was the most expensive meal you could buy.
Tetsuya's (whipped) Truffle Butter on a sour dough roll
Ever since we first devoured it, my family have had an ongoing love affair with Tetsuya's truffle butter. Smeared onto a chunk of the sour dough or white dinner rolls on offer, it is heaven in your mouth. We've gone as far as purchasing Tetsuya's Truffle Salsa and making it at home following Tetsuya's very own recipe. How disappointing then to be offered the whipped version that we were this night. It lacked the original punch. If this is a cost saving measure, personally I would rather be limited to one pot (the waitstaff refill the pot and provide additional rolls as many times as you request them) than a multitude of this watered down version. Please, we beg you, go back to the original recipe!

 Rant over, we were off on the evening's rollercoaster.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Knife Shops in Japan - Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Sakai

This one is for all the knife enthusiasts out there! If you're planning a visit to Japan, then this will give you a sneak peek at some of the major high-end knife shops.
Click on the links of each maker to access more photos of the knife shop.

My fascination with Japanese cooking knives had been sparked a few years ago and ever since, Knife Forums (KF) has been an invaluable source of information. I had lusted after many of the blades discussed and photographed in countless posts. Most importantly, it exposed me to many brands which you would never find in major (and specialist) kitchen shops. It is also a great source of information on the different types of blades and the qualities of various metals.

I would begin my trip in Tokyo, moving to Kyoto and finish
up in Osaka/Sakai (I would have also liked to travel to Seki and seek out other less accessible manufacturers across the land, but both time and money were a factor). I had printed maps, addresses and direction for all the knife shops and was ready to fit my holiday around my knife shopping trip.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Diary of a Chocoholic

Note to self - after eating chocolate, remember to check lips in mirror. A chocolate-smeared mouth might look good on a toddler but on a fully-grown adult, it's a little less adorable!

I have to confess, this blog was originally about only one chocolate but then I found some more chocolate that was worth talking about so this has been building since Christmas last year.

These first two chocolates, Premium M&Ms were originally bought as last minute Christmas presents.

I found these in our local shopping centre in a small cart (Lolly Castle) which sells a selection of international goodies that aren't found on the shelves of our local supermarkets; Pop Tarts, Babe Ruth bars, Junior Mints, all types of unusual Pringle-like, non-Pringle reconstituted potato snacks, and they're my lone supplier of Dr Pepper, the only carbonated softdrink to which I'm addicted. (So much so that before they started importing them, I tried to make my own version after my first trip to America where I drank it almost every day but that's another story!).

The plastic bag was inside a light cardboard sleeve but I was obviously so keen to get into the chocolate that I didn't bother about the packaging! : )
The candies themselves had a similar textured sheen that was reminiscent of tie dyeing.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

How to Eat Your 5 Fruits & Vegetables Without Really Trying!

Okay, okay, I know this isn't going to be popular but bear with me!

If you follow the food pyramid, you know that for a balanced diet, fruits and vegetables should play a big part in our diets. But it's hard to get the full range and the taste of some of them leaves something to be desired.

That's why, when Yaya brought home a couple of cartons of carrots, eggplant, squash, apples and capsicum and they fit into her handbag, we couldn't wait to eat them!

These miniature vegetables were sweet and moreish and with 5 serves per carton,  you couldn't ask for more versatility. Okay, so they're a little fluoro ....

If you think they look a little shiny, it's not wax, it's a light glaze because these are no ordinary vegetables.

Cut one open and you get ...

... a good dose of fibre in a sweet little wrapping.

For these are mung bean sweets! Made from mung beans, coconut milk and sugar, they're a tiny morsel of goodness that is neither too sweet nor too sticky. They all taste the same so don't worry about them having hints of capsicum, carrot or eggplant. And here's where you can buy it:

Okay, so I lied about the 5 fruits and vegetables but these are pretty irresistible.... really .... :D

Friday, May 27, 2011

How To Avoid a Case of Puzzle Butt ..

... when eating at Wagaya...

I coined the term "puzzle butt" when I was a teenager. It referred to the spasm that occurs after prolonged clenching of the buttocks while leaning over a large (mostly 1000 piece) jigsaw puzzle, trying to piece it together.

In the case of Wagaya, that much reviewed, touch-screen ordering, fast action Japanese diner on the fringe of Chinatown, it was a one buttock clench.

You might be asking what does puzzle butt have do with eating out? Well, when you're sitting in one of their booths, the screen is located perpendicular to you, the diner. So there is no other way to touch the screen than to lean across thus causing the clench. It wouldn't be so bad if the menu wasn't so extensive but it is.
Thirteen buttons across the top lead to the first of mostly 2, sometimes 3 sub-menus all containing unique offerings for each category. The best thing is, you don't have to decide the entire meal right at the beginning. If you arrive hungry and want an immediate starter, go for something recognisable, say Edamame.
While some restaurants serve these warm, these were served cold but they were crisp, sweet and not too salty. 

If you're not starving, you can take the time to peruse the menu but be warned, you may need an hour or so:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fondant Fun

Mrs Shanks and I would like to congratulate our good friend Jo and family, of The Cupcake Gallery on the safe arrival of their 3rd beautiful bundle of joy, Little Miss M. She (even though I had all my coins on it being a boy!!) is absolutely gorgeous and we can't wait to see all the marvelous baby-inspired cake creations you have in store.

First Prize: The Last Supper depicting the true meaning of Easter

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

You ate what in where now???

Any country would be a lot better off with a parliament building made of chocolate.

Here in Australia, it's pretty much a rite of passage for most kids to make a big trip after years of studying are finally over. For me like many, Europe was the dream destination.

Now this was my first ever trip overseas, and no matter how much you read about it, nothing can prepare you for the culture shock of a new country. Be it more or less of a shock than what you expect, the only way to find out is to get there. 

 Image taken from tripadvisor's facebook app. 
NOTE: This trip happened years ago, well before this food blog began. But looking back at my holiday happy snaps I was still taking shots of food even back then. However this post is only borderline food related. It's more a wins and fails list of things both edible and cultural that I maybe could have done differently. Hopefully other new travelers can learn from my mistakes.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

5hr dinner. It's not a meal. It's a Ritual.

What do you get when a passionate, creative chef has access to fresh local produce and wines coming from Port Stephens, The Hunter Valley and other neighboring regions? Add a dedicated team of chefs and floor staff that share that same passion to take you on a journey where you will rediscover ... Taste.

The answer is Ritual Restaurant.

Since first reading about Ritual, I have waited over 12 months to come and dine at this establishment. I would describe the restaurant as a Mary Poppins carpet bag. Nestled in the suburban side of Nelson Bay, there are no water/beach views and away from Port Stephens marina and other main eateries. It's located in a local shopping complex, next to a Blockbuster video store and a bottle shop - sound like a plain old carpet bag so far??

Friday, March 18, 2011

3 Weeds for Dinner

But that's not what we ate!

I have to admit, the Inner West is not my usual watering-hole but with the majority of our party of four hailing from nearby, I did some research and came up with a handful of options.

Having been establshed in 1881, The 3 Weeds in Rozelle definitely has the atmosphere of a grand old pub. (It was allegedly once owned by Dawn Fraser and as such was the homebase of the Balmain Tigers. According to the taxi driver who drove me home that night, it even boasted a tiger's head which lit up when the team won a match!)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Get Twisted!

You know when you've been really really good to yourself? You've eaten the right mix of carbs, protein, vegetables, fruit and fibre and you feel so energetic you could run a marathon? You know that moment when you feel like something cold, sweet and delicious but you don't want to ruin the great way you feel? Well, now you can get TWISTED!

Looking like it wouldn't look out of place in New York, Twisted is a newly opened frozen yoghurt cafe in Bondi but if you think this is just another frozen yoghurt, think again. The co-founder of the company, Cassandra Spies, spent quite a while researching the product and with her background in food technology, she has hit upon the most luscious, smooth, mouth-fulfilling, creamy, un-yoghurt like frozen yoghurt I have ever tried. It's made from freshly made yoghurt everyday, yes folks, it's NOT a premix!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

For Those Who Like Variety

More Butter Biscuit Recipes

As promised, I am sharing my experiments with different flavours from this versatile biscuit recipe. Those who haven't as yet seen my version of the Earl Grey Tea Biscuit Recipe can find it here.

Basic Mix
1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup of icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100 gm unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water


To the basic mix, add 4 tablespoons of cocoa and 4 tablespoons of dessicated coconut, swap the water out for coconut milk, double the quantity of vanilla extract, cut the cookies out and sprinkle a little additional coconut on top.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Japanese Knives and Sakai (The City of Knives!)

Of all the kitchen tools we have at our disposal, perhaps the most essential would be the humble knife. It is one of the most primal and simple tool that humans have devised. Ever since we crawled out of caves to fashioned an edge from stone, the knife has never left our sides. For the chef or foodie, the knife is the sexiest, most elegant piece of equipment in the kitchen. The perfect embodiment of form and function. It is the tool that we foodies/chefs are most protective of and most attached to. In the age of useless and overcomplicated kitchen gadgets, the knife remains one of the cornerstones of food preparation.

A Taste of ... Everything!

It was the eve of Australia Day and a text message came through:

"Mission accomplished. The package is en route."
"How does it look?" I responded.
"Stinky." came the reply "In a good way."

It was the culmination of a week's worth of planning prompted by a glimpse of possibilities....

Monday, January 31, 2011

Take One Cup of Flour ...

 ... and you have the basis of a very versatile biscuit!

I've been in a baking mood for a while. I had perfected my gingerbread biscuits (the hottest and most flavoursome according to those who tried them) and tackled espresso biscuits sandwiched with chocolate ganache. I was feeling adventurous and wanted to come up with an original recipe. Because the espresso biscuits had used real coffee grounds, I reasoned that real tea leaves might work in a buttery biscuit and loving the way mixed peel crystallises when baked, I decided Earl Grey might be a good match so I did a google search and lo and behold, I discovered that someone had got there before me. (Actually, several people had but this recipe was the first one I looked at and it sounded really simple so I chose to try it.)

As with all my baking, I couldn't just follow the recipe, I had to add my own touches, experimenting until I came up with a biscuit that is so fragrant that it is undeniably more-ish. One of the special ingredients is Herbie's Fragrant Sweet Spices. A blend of coriander, cassia, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, poppy seeds, cloves, cardomom and rose petals and available from specialty stores, it's the perfect addition to most baked goods. I've resorted to ordering it in bulk direct from the online store - where you can learn all about culinary and spice expert Ian Hemphill and the story of this supplier of all spices.
Linda's Earl Grey Tea Biscuits

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


This should have been my inaugural post considering my nom de plume, but I had some difficulty in finding a recipe to work for me - better late than never right?

I was introduced to these sweet treats by my husband who was living in Paris at the time. Chouquettes were his favourite morning coffee/afternoon snack and depending on the boulangerie, were usually really cheap (a couple of euros for a bag of roughly ten chouquettes or sometimes they are sold by weight).

Chouquettes are really just egg-y, light choux pastries, usually covered in perle sucre - really more-ish as the only sweet taste comes from the little crunchy bits of sugar on the outside.

Since coming home to Sydney, I haven't been able to find these delightful little pastries anywhere! So I had to work out a way to make them myself ... With the help of Google of course! :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Yabba Dabba Doo Man-Chops + Easy Tomato Chutney

Remember the opening intro to the Flintstones where they get drive-thru giant brontosaurus ribs that almost tip the car over. I so would have tackled this back in the stone ages and would love giant fries to match. Well my recent encounter with the "Man-Chop" reminded me of this very scene.