Vivid Sydney – A Festival of Light, Music & Ideas

I’ve been to some stunning cities all over the world, but I have to say: Sydney, you really know how to put on a show!

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

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Recipe Roadtest: Perfect Poached Eggs Every Time

I love poached eggs. I love them particularly when they have a gooey, runny centre that can be mopped up with pieces of toast and rashers of bacon. However, whenever I contemplated making them for myself at home, I was always put off by what seemed an excessively complicated procedure involving whirlpools or swirling vortexes of water. That was until I came across Masterchef Australia: The Cookbook (Volume 1), which had a poached egg  recipe that seemed relatively simple and straightforward. My sister and I first tested out the technique out on Mother’s Day and were extremely impressed with the results and how easy it was.

Poached egg on spinach leaves and toast

Poached egg with spinach leaves and toast

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Giovanni’s Table, Rhapsody of the Seas

As mentioned in my review of my South Pacific cruise on the Rhapsody of the Seas, my boyfriend and I took advantage of a pre-paid dining package which allowed us to eat at all of the specialty restaurants on board for USD55. A couple of days after dining at Chops Grille, we went slightly more casual at Giovanni’s Table, an Italian trattoria.

There were a few items that I had in mind for my appetiser, but I eventually went for the almond crusted scallops which I may say, proved to be a good choice despite the dull presentation. The scallops were cooked perfectly and the pesto almond topping was well seasoned and delicious. My only complaint was that there were only two of them – I wanted more!

Capesante al Forno -  Oven baked, almond crusted scallops with red bell pepper pesto

Capesante al Forno –
Oven baked, almond crusted scallops with red bell pepper pesto

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High St. Bistro, Willoughby

‘Respect thy Produce’ is the motto of High St. Bistro, a local neighbourhood favourite on the lower north shore, which was recently bought over by the folk from Ormeggio at The Spit. As a long-time fan of Alessandro Pavoni since his days as Executive Chef at the Park Hyatt, I was looking forward to sampling some more of his team’s produce.

High St. Bistro

High St. Bistro

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Chick-In, Melbourne CBD

Newsflash: KFC is the next big thing.

I know what you’re thinking: I’ve come a bit late to the party, considering Kentucky Fried Chicken commenced operations in 1930, however the ‘K’ I’m referring to is Korean. In the past few years, Korean fried chicken has rapidly been appearing on menus all over Sydney and Melbourne.

Following the recommendation of the Melbourne Urban Walkabout Guide, I headed down a laneway close to Southern Cross Station in search of a tiny Korean restaurant by the name of Chick-In, for a quick snack before an AFL game. Having only finished our meal at Bistro Vue a few short hours ago, my boyfriend and I were not hugely hungry, however the exorbitant prices at Etihad Stadium do encourage you to fill up before you make it to the game.

Chick-In

Chick-In

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L’ATELIER de Joel Robuchon, Central, Hong Kong

I first came across the name Joel Robuchon when reading the excellent book Garlic & Sapphires by Ruth Reichl (still my all time favourite foodie book) and first tried one of his restaurants in Taiwan a few years ago. The food was exquisite, so when I was in Hong Kong earlier in the year, it was pretty much a given that we would make a trip to Robuchon’s L’Atelier in Central.

The restaurant is located in The Landmark shopping centre and on arriving at the reception area via escalator, it feels as though you are entering another world. The atmosphere is dark – dark carpet, dark walls, dark tables – so when you are led into the dining area, you are almost blinded by the light emanating from the magnificent open kitchen that dominates the space. Most diners are seated at the bar around the kitchen, which gives you a great view for people and chef-watching.

L'ATELIER de Joel Robuchon

L’ATELIER de Joel Robuchon

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Edge Vanuatu Abseil, Port Vila

I am standing at the top of a 50m high waterfall, preparing to plunge backwards over the precipice. The friendly Vanuatuan guide who is only wearing sandals, despite the water surging around our feet, gives me the thumbs up and a wide grin as he reminds me to keep my legs straight when I step off the edge. After taking a few deep breaths and holding tightly to the thick ropes that are securing me to safety, I slowly step backwards until I am essentially standing perpendicular to the face of the Mele Cascades.

First steps down the Mele Cascades

First steps down the Mele Cascades

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Khao Pla, Chatswood

My birthday this year fell on a Monday. This is generally not an issue because I usually have a Chinese dinner banquet with my family and Chinese restaurants are open every day of the week. Unfortunately, my parents were overseas and it was decided that we would do my birthday dinner the day after. My attempts to find a restaurant for dinner with my boyfriend on the Monday were not promising to begin with. My first choice Thai restaurant was under new management and was closed on Mondays. My second choice Japanese restaurant was also closed on Mondays. Eventually, by virtue of it actually being open, we entered my third choice Khao Pla in Chatswood, and I have to say, I’m pretty glad we did. Continue reading

Bistro Vue, Melbourne CBD

Something I loved when visiting Paris was the ability to walk into just about any street-side bistro or cafe and have wonderful food. As a lover of French food, this was heaven. In Australia, quality French restaurants are harder to find, however Bistro Vue is a worthy contender. The mid-level alternative in Shannon Bennett’s restaurant empire, Bistro Vue serves up classic French cuisine with a modern Australian twist. The interior has a provincial-France feel, with its rustic wooden tables and velvet seating; and is far larger than I expected.

Bistro Vue

Bistro Vue

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Chops Grille, Rhapsody of the Seas

While you can go an entire cruise without having to swipe your SeaPass card for food, Royal Caribbean offers a number of ‘extra special’ dining options where you pay a cover charge and order whatever you want off the menu, or in certain restaurants, you are also charged the a la carte prices. On our South Pacific cruise, we took advantage of a dining deal which, for US$55, allowed us to eat dinner in all three of the specialty restaurants featured on the Rhapsody of the Seas – Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table and Izumi. It also included $30 of credit at Izumi ($5 dining fee), which is the only restaurant on board that also charges for menu items individually; both Chops Grille (US$30) and Giovanni’s Table ($20) have a flat dining fee.

Chops Grille is described as Royal Caribbean’s signature steakhouse and certainly, the interior does evoke the atmosphere of a traditional steakhouse with its dark wooden tables and leather seats. Of course, there are not many restaurants that could compete with the stunning views from the window table that we were fortunate enough to sit at in this venue.

Window table with a view!

Window table with a view!

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