{Travels} My Guide Around Surry Hills, Sydney

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About 3 weeks back, the Mr and I decided to surprise my sister-in-law and brought her to Sydney for the weekend as her birthday present! Needless to say, the smile on her face when she opened the envelop containing her printed air ticket was priceless! It has been a long time since we went to Sydney as well, so I was super excited to go!

We were so lucky to be able to stay at Cambridge Hotel that is located at the heart of Surrey Hills. Everything was just a stone-throw away! In this post, I will be sharing with you the different places we dined at that were all located in Surrey Hills, and a walkable distance from the comfort of our hotel!

First stop : Devon Cafe

Devon Cafe

Of course, to maximise our stay, we took one of the earliest flight out and arrived early in the morning! haha As we were too early to check in to our hotel, we decided to stop by one of the cafes that has been on my list for the longest time for breakfast! Plus it was close to the hotel too! (:  We were greeted by the most enthusiastic and friendly staff which instantly brightened up our morning!

Muffins, pastries & burgers

If you wanted something light or quick, they had a good range of savoury and sweet on display! Croissants, muffins, brioche and tarts! Especially if you wanted something to pair with your coffee-on-the-go! hehe

Our usual cuppas

We started our breakfast with our usual hot cuppas! Chai soy latte for me, latte for the mr and hot chocolate for Melissa!

Chai soy latte

I absolutely loved the pot used to serve my chai latte! hehe It was so japanese inspired and wanted to smuggle it back! haha Of course I didn’t, I still wanted to head back to Devon Cafe when I am traveling in Sydney again. hehe

Chick n Chips

There were so many things on the menu that we were drawn to. Everything just sounded so delicious! Melissa was tossing between sweet or savoury, but decided on the Chick n Chips! When it arrived, the smell was AMAZING! I was salivating just inhaling the smells. haha It had a chicken sausage, crispy confit wing smoked potato, fried egg, jus gras, chicken skin and chips! Yes, crispy chicken skin! DELISH!

green eggs and ham

The Mr ordered the special of the day, and I could totally understand why! It’s a play on the typical green eggs and ham but definitely elevated to a whole new (and better) level and everything the Mr loves! Thick cut bacon, Jerusalem artichoke puree, 63 degree eggs with wild mushroom, parsley & garlic cream and topped with crispy Jerusalem artichokes! Absolutely delicious! The plate was close to being licked clean!

Devon's granola

I wanted to start the trip with something healthy, as I knew how indulgent I will be for the rest of the day! haha So I decided to order Devon’s granola! How pretty is it? hehe It has house made granola, vanilla yoghurt, poached pear and freeze dried raspberries!  Loved all the different colours and how the freeze dried raspberries just pop!

Devon's granola

Seeing how pretty it is is making me itch to make my own granola and have it for breakie!! Think I just might! (: So after a filling and satisfying breakfast, we decided to head over to Cambridge Hotel to check in!

Front Desk of Cambridge Hotel

(Photo credits : http://www.cambridgehotel.com.au/)

When you enter the hotel lobby, you’re greeted by the smiles on all the faces of the staff! It took less than 10 minutes to get us all checked in and headed up to our room!

our room

How inviting are the rooms? Really spacious for the 3 of us too! This was the premium twin double room and our room had stunning views too!

Welcome chocolates

And how thoughtful are the staff at Cambridge Hotel? A box of handmade chocolates to warmly welcome us to our room and Sydney! Isn’t it the little things that really count and make an impact to your holidays? Love it!

Second Stop : Bourke Street Bakery

Address : 633 Bourke Street, Surry Hills

Opening hours : 7am – 6pm (Mondays to Fridays)

7am – 5pm (Weekends)

Bourke Street Bakery

After taking a short break (aka taking a power nap haha) we decided to walk to Bourke Street Bakery! I was so happy when I realised how close it was! Just a 15 mins slow walk brought us to this amazing bakery! It’s always pretty packed and there is always a queue, but it moves pretty quickly and trust me, it’s worth the wait!

Pork and fennel sausage rolls

Before going on to the sweets, we decided to have their sausage rolls! So glad we did though cause it was so so so so good! The pastry was flakey and buttery and the pork and fennel filling was absolutely delish! We shared as we wanted to have space for the sweets which we already aimed or while we were ordering the sausage rolls! hehe

Sweet pastries

The mr really wanted a croissant, but they only had the plain ones left! It was still really good though! No regrets getting it! hehe We couldn’t resist ordering the famous ginger creme brûlée tart, especially since the mr loves creme brûlée! And just when we were about to pay, a tray of freshly baked rhubarb frangipane tarts came out of the oven, so I had to get one! Trust me, nothing is better than a piping hot tart, fresh out of the oven!

Ginger creme brûlée tart

The ginger creme brûlée tart was nothing short of amazing! The short crust pastry was buttery and absolutely love how creamy and luscious the filling was! There was also a good hit of ginger, which the Mr absolutely adored! We may or may not have bought 2 more to bring back to our hotel. haha

Third stop : RoboCog Cafe

Address : 249 Riley Street, Surry Hills

Robo Cog

I absolutely love how the hotel is surrounded by small cafes, and all of them have something that would draw you in! Just down the road was a cute little cafe called Robocog which I had a cuppa with the gorgeous Heather (:

The inside of robocog

The interior was really warm, cosy and inviting. Their menu was in a shape of a robot (but I didn’t get to snap a shot of it, oops!) They had quite a spread food wise, but we were just there for coffee and to catch up!

Decaf cappuccino

I ordered the decaf cappuccino which had quite bold flavours but was smooth to taste! It’s been a while since I had coffee but still enjoyed it! I really love meeting up with people after only communicating over emails/instagram/twitter! Was an absolute pleasure!

Forth Stop : Chat Thai

Address : 20 Campbell Street, Haymarket

 Chat Thai

I know this isn’t exactly located in Surry Hills, but it’s a short 5 minutes drive or a 20 minutes brisk walk from the hotel! Chat Thai has been on everyone’s lips when they do head to Sydney and we didn’t want to miss having it! So off we went, in the cold, and walked there for dinner one night!

Cute lights

Although we went around 615pm (which I thought was quite early), we still had heaps of people infront of us and we waited for a good 40 minutes for our table! Fortunately there were a few thai supermarkets which we could pop in to have a walk or when we felt too cold to wait outside! When it got colder, the staff brought out the gas heater, which definitely made the waiting less painful!

papaya salad

We started our meal with a bang! A huge chilli hit! The papaya salad (som dtum) was so spicy I could only have one portion! Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious, but just too spicy for me. I think we could have let them know the level of spice, but we didn’t and we were given the maximum one! haha

Grilled pork neck

This was my favourite dish of the night. Grilled pork neck (khor mhu yaang) with smoked chilli and tamarind relish! The pork neck was so tender and the sweet & sourish relish complimented each other really well. A must order dish if you ask me! (:

Thai green chicken curry

When we have thai, it’s a must to order a bowl of green curry as well! This was the thai green chicken curry with apple egg plants, kaffir lime leaves and basil! So fragrant and just the right amount of heat! Could easily finish a bowl of rice just with the curry gravy! Mmmm!

dtom yum goong with king prawns

The dtom yum goong with king prawns had the most intense and amazing flavours! Every sip tasted like prawns! SO GOOD! We couldn’t stop saying WOW. haha In fact, we were still talking about it the next day!

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The last savoury dish we ordered was the crispy fried whole snapper with a roasted chilli and garlic sauce. When it arrived, we all thought we were in for another spicy journey haha But it actually was a good balance of sweet & spicy! The fish was also cooked perfectly. NOMS!

Durian sticky rice

We were so stuffed by the time we polished off the savouries, but the Mr couldn’t resist ordering the durian sticky rice! We did want the mango sticky rice, but mangoes weren’t in season. So durian it is! Many might not like this King of the Fruits, but we absolutely adore it! Creamy and sweet, we finished it too quickly! hehe

Fifth Stop : Bills

Address : 359 Crown Street, Surry Hills

Bills

Last and definitely not the least, Bills. I remember the first time I came to Sydney, the only place I wanted to try then was Bills. This time was no different. Bills was still on my to-go list and one thing I wanted to have was the fluffy ricotta hotcakes! We went around 1030am and had to wait for a good 45 minutes. But is it worth the wait?

Ricotto hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter

ABSOLUTELY! Look at how fluffy the hotcakes are??? Piping hot with bananas and a honeycomb butter and a drizzle (or a heap haha) of maple syrup! YUMMO! I just couldn’t stop eating!

Ricotta hotcakes

Oh my gosh. I’m having some serious hotcakes pregnancy cravings this instant! hehe They are seriously amazing. You definitely have to make a trip there when you are in Sydney or around Surry Hills! Head there early if you want to reduce the queueing time!

Bills

The place was constantly crowded but the staff still wore smiles on their faces! Love it!

Hot chocolate

I was so excited about the hotcakes I forgot to talk about the drinks we had! Melissa ordered the hot chocolate and boy was it good! It was made by coating the bottom and sides of the glass with chocolate buttons and pouring hot milk in! Ooh lala! She was definitely one happy girl! hehe

Beet root juice

I decided to go for something healthy and refreshing – Beet root, carrot, fennel & apple!

I really hope you enjoyed my eating journey around Surry Hills! Our bellies were definitely happy through the 3 days we had in Sydney. Just want to thank the Mr for planning the trip, Heather for helping with the accommodation and Cambridge Hotel for the comfortable stay we had for the 2 nights!

Have a great week ahead everyone! Remember to always cook and bake with love!

Till the next post, xx

Easy Peasy Fig Tart

FIGS. Believe it or not. Just a month ago was the first time I ever had fresh figs! When I tried it, I wish I had it sooner! Fortunately, I scored a bargain at Springvale Market and bought 7 for $2.50! I had to head back to buy more.

Just couldn’t get enough!

So the first time I had it, I slid the top of it twice and stuffed them with ricotta and topped it with honey. It was DELICIOUS! But to be honest, I preferred mine without the ricotta. Just honey! The mr loved his with the cheese though.

So after a few nights of having the same thing, I decided to do something different. Looked into the freezer, and VIOLA! Puff pastry! Perfect. A quick tart it is.

Trust me, it’s the quickest and yummiest thing you would have! The sweetest of the figs, with the buttery-ness of the pastry. That made our night. Of course, to top it up, some macadamia ice cream from Connoisseur. The mr had two! (: Always a joy to see him eat the food I make with the satisfaction on his face.

So for a quick fix to your sweet tooth, I urge you to give this easy recipe a try!

Easy Peasy Fig Tart

1/2 sheet of store bought puff pastry (with butter), cut into 3 or 4 rectangles

3-4 fresh figs, sliced into quarters

caster sugar, enough to lightly sprinkle on top of the pastry

tightly packed brown sugar, to sprinkle on top of the figs

scoop(s) of ice cream, to serve (flavour is up to you!)

Steps:

1) Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celcius. On the rectangular sheets of puff pastry, lightly sprinkle caster sugar on the top.

2) Place the figs, aligned in the middle. Leaving some space on the sides.

3) Sprinkle some brown sugar on the figs. Bake the pastry for 15-20 mins, or until the pastry is golden brown.

4) Serve with a scoop of ice cream and ENJOY!

ps : you can either place the ice cream on the side, or put it on top like the mr did! haha

A Pie Like No Other.

Ever seen a recipe and add it to your bookmark list almost immediately but have no courage to give it a try? This was one of them. I got about 100 more recipes bookmarked and still trying to give them a go! I’m not kidding or exaggerating.

Truth be told, I never had a very good experience with pies. Or tarts for the matter. Especially food that involve the pie/tart tin. haha. One horrible experience was the Chocolate Ganache, Cream and Strawberry Tart that I tried to bake after watching Masterchef. It was a DISASTER! Free form tarts like Hot Apple Tart I could still handle. anything to do with short crust pastry or a tin, not so much.

But I decided to suck it up, and give tarts another shot. One consolation was that I didn’t need to make shortcrust pastry. But that’s not to say that this is any simpler! Although I have to admit, I love the fact that the base is made of oats! That made me push myself even more to try this recipe!

And so I did. As you can see from the picture above, it’s not a perfect looking pie. But I think I did pretty well! And boy was it yummy! The gooey-ness of the filling was just to-die-for. REALLY. Everyone should give this a shot! Don’t think about the calories, just have it. You will love it!

One of the challenges I had was taking the pie out of the tin, without the sides and corners crumbling on me. Let me tell you this, it is not a one person job. You need extra hands for this! Thankfully I had the Mr help me! (: And he also helped me in finishing up the pie! haha and after you do finish the pie, you need to head to The Training Geek to get some exercise tips and work the sugar off! But it will all be worth it, I repeat, worth every calorie intake!

So here’s the recipe from the Momofuku cook book! Enjoy every single crumb!

What’s better than hot gooey pie and ice cream?

Oatmeal Cookie for Crust

Ingredients
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
Scant 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
Scant 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup softened butter
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
Scant 1 cup rolled oats

Directions
1. Heat the oven to 190°C.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Cream the butter, brown sugar and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Whisk the egg into the butter mixture until fully incorporated.
5. Stir in the flour mixture until fully combined. Stir in the oats.
6. Spread the mixture onto a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking sheet and bake until golden brown and set, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to the touch on a rack. Crumble the cooled cookie to use in the crust.

Crust

Ingredients
Crumbled cookie for crust
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions
Combine the crumbled cookie, butter, brown sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until evenly combined and blended (a little of the mixture clumped between your fingers should hold together). Divide the crust between 2 (10-inch) pie tins (I used a long rectangular tin and 8 small round ones). Press the crust into each shell to form a thin, even layer along the bottom and sides of the tins. Set the prepared crusts aside while you prepare the filling.

Filling

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus a scant 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon milk powder
1 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup plus a scant 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 egg yolks

Prepared crusts

Powdered sugar to garnish

Directions
1. Heat the oven to 180°C.
2. Whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, salt and milk powder. Whisk in the melted butter, then whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla.
3. Gently whisk in the egg yolks, being careful not to add too much air.
4. Divide the filling evenly between the 2 prepared pie shells.
5. Bake the pies, one at a time, for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees and bake until the filling is slightly jiggly and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the pies and cool on a rack.
6. Refrigerate the cooled pies until well chilled. Serve cold, and the filling will be gooey. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

You. Will. Love. It. I. Promise. (:

Chocolate Ganache, Cream and Strawberry Tart

my very first time making a tart. As you can see, it’s staying in the mold cause any attempt of taking it out, it crumbles into a million and one pieces! *sigh* ah wells. just have to pluck up the courage to try it again. SOON. haha we shall see! (:

I found the largest and reddest strawberry from Queen Victoria Market, and just knew I had to try marking these tarts, although the original recipe calls for raspberry. hehe. they were as huge as my palm!!!

how gorgeous do they look! (: I bet if you saw them, you wouldn’t be able to resist either!!! hehe

I used the recipe from Masterchef, and besides the tart being too crumbly (which I’m pretty sure it’s because I didn’t let it set in the fridge long enough haha) it was YUMMY! The chocolate ganache was the saviour of the dish to be honest. haha but I’m not too surprised, chocolate always saves everything! Especially when I’m stressed. haha

so here’s the recipe! (: Hope you will be more successful than me!

(Adapted from Masterchef)

Ingredients :

240g plain flour
160g butter
Pinch of salt
300ml thickened cream
1 tbs caster sugar
1 punnet strawberries

160ml cream
40g butter
180g dark chocolate, finely chopped

Steps :

Step 1: Place the flour, butter and a pinch of salt in a food processor and blend
until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add 1-2 teaspoons cold water and
blend again until the dough just comes together. Tip out onto a lightly floured
board or clean bench and form dough into a disc, enclose in cling film and
refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.

Step 2: Roll pastry out to 3-5mm thick, then use to line four 10cm loose- bottomed tart tins. Prick the base with a fork, then place back in the fridge to rest for about 20 minutes.

Step 3: To make the ganache, place the cream and butter in a pan and stir over medium heat until butter has melted. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl, pour over the warm cream, then stir until the chocolate has melted.

Step 4: Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line the pastry case with baking paper and
pastry beads or uncooked rice. Blind-bake for 7-10 minutes, then remove baking
paper and beads and bake for another 5-10 minutes until just golden. Press down
any bubbles that have risen up and allow to cool. Remove from tart cases and
place on a serving plate or clean board.

Step 5: Meanwhile, whip thickened cream with sugar until soft peaks. Cover with cling film and refrigerate until needed.

Step 6: Pour the chocolate ganache into the tart shells. Spread evenly with the
back of a spoon or palette knife. Place the strawberries on top of the tart and serve!

Bon Appetit!

Pasteis de Nata

in other words. Portuguese custard tarts. (: Yes! I tried making them again using another recipe (: hehe This time I had to cook the custard to make it thicker before filling the tarts up. I prefer this one as compared to the other. But this one doesn’t seem to caramelise the top as much so I cheated and used a blow torch! haha

The only thing I wasn’t able to do is to keep the pastry crispy long enough. After a few days in an air tight container, the tart goes all soft! So the only solution : finish all of them up within 2 days! haha

This recipe used puff pastry like I did before, and I still do prefer using puff pastry. I think it makes the tarts taste nicer. All the buttery goodness (:

so here’s the recipe! Let me know which you prefer!

Continue reading

Portuguese Egg Tarts ; Baby’s Favourite

Been watching the Gem of Life, a Hong Kong tv serial and they started talking about egg tarts. Although what they had are birds’ nest egg tarts, and of course I can’t afford getting birds’ nest here. haha I decided to do baby’s favourite – Portuguese egg tarts ! (:

who could resist this hot custard tart with a caramelised top ? I have been wanting to make these for the longest time. The last time I had a really good tart was at KFC in Guangzhou. hehe Sadly, mine didn’t turn out the same way. But I will be doing alot of trail and error to try and get it as close as possible! hehe

When I decided to make these tarts, I went around looking for a recipe and found one on Rasa Malaysia. They used pie crust as their tart base, but I decided to use puff pastry instead cause I wanted the buttery and flaky texture of the tart. It’s a pity my aluminium tart mould is too shallow, the amount of custard that could fill the tarts wasn’t enough! hehe so will try and find moulds that are slightly deeper (:

alrightie. Enough talking! Here’s the recipe of the egg tarts I’ve made! Hope you will enjoy it as much we did!

Continue reading

Plum Tatin with Ice cream


Ingredients :
(from The F Word)

4 large ripe but firm plums
60g cold butter
60g caster sugar
300g puff pastry (one sheet of ready made puff pastry)
Ice cream to serve

Steps :

1. Preheat oven to 200°C/Gas 6.

2. Make sure the plums aren’t too ripe or they’ll fall apart when you try to cook them.
Halve the plums and remove the stones.
Cut into quarters and arrange, cut side down, on a tray lined with kitchen paper.
If you have time, refrigerate the plums overnight to dry them out a little
(this will help prevent the plums from releasing too much juice during cooking).

3. Cut the butter into thin slices and use to cover the base of a 21cm ovenproof pan
(or four small separate pans if you’re making individual tarts), no deeper than 6cm.
Sprinkle over the sugar evenly, then arrange the plum quarters in a circle around the pan,
cut side down, adding one or two quarters in the centre.

4. Place the pan over a medium heat and let the butter and sugar melt,
gently shaking the pan once in a while to encourage the caramel to form.
When the syrup has caramelised to a terracotta colour, after about 10 minutes, take the pan off the heat.
Set aside.

5. If you’re using your own puff pastry,
roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured board to a 24cm round
(or into four 6cm rounds if you wish to make individual tarts),
using a cake tin as a template.
if you’re using the ready made puff pastry sheet,
using a plate as a template, cut out the 24cm round.
Prick the pastry all over with a fork, then lift it up using a rolling pin and lay over the plums.
Carefully tuck the pastry edges down the side of the pan. Prick a hole in the top of the pastry.

6. Bake for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 180˚C
and cook for another 10-15 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.

7. Leave the tart to cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a large serving plate.
Slice into individual portions and serve warm with dollops of clotted cream.

before I flipped it over. nice and crisp and golden!

our individual portions (:

we were happy and so were our tummys!