Bavarian Bier Cafe, Chatswood

Pork crackling is a food that I adore, but I do hesitate before ordering it because too often, to get the amazing crunchy crackling, you have to put up with overly fatty or chewy pork belly. I had no such misgivings when ordering the roasted pork roll at the Chatswood branch of the Bavarian Bier Cafe, having already tried it during a work lunch at the city Bavarian. My eyes lit up when the thin slices of roast pork, bordered with golden-brown crackling, encased in a soft brioche bun and topped with lime aioli and fried onions arrived at our table.

Roasted Pork Roll - crackling, spiced apple slaw, baby cress, lime aioli

Roasted Pork Roll – crackling, spiced apple slaw, baby cress, lime aioli

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Coco Cubano, Crows Nest

When I was choosing a restaurant for dinner on Saturday night, my boyfriend’s only requests were that we eat early and quickly, so that we were back home in time to watch the footy on TV. After unsuccessfully trying to book a couple of restaurants at 5:30pm on the Saturday (yep, I’m very much a last minute organiser!), we resorted to our old standby of wandering around Crows Nest and picking a restaurant that looked good. Which was how we ended up at Coco Cubano, which also happened to be the first restaurant we even looked at after parking down the street.

Coco Cubano

Coco Cubano

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Woodland Kitchen & Bar, Neutral Bay

Following on from my birthday discovery that one of my favourite Thai restaurants had shut down, it was my boyfriend’s turn to feel the devastation when we went out for dinner in Neutral Bay on Friday night. From just about day one, he has been a massive fan of the mouth-numbingly hot buffalo wings and slow-cooked BBQ pork ribs at Blue Plate, so he was shattered when we approached the restaurant, only to see a dark, empty room and a notice pinned to the door.

Fortunately, Neutral Bay does not lack for restaurants and we decided to try Woodland Kitchen & Bar, which is just a couple of doors down. A busy night, and having no booking meant that we were relegated to a table outside, which was fairly toasty under the heater for me in a coat; not so for my boyfriend who was rather inappropriately dressed for a Sydney winter evening! The menu at Woodland was extremely enticing, and I eventually chose the potato gnocchi, which arrived looking like an appealing, warm salad, perfect for a cold night.

Potato Gnocchi -  roasted pumpkin, walnuts, burnt butter, salted ricotta

Potato Gnocchi with roasted pumpkin, walnuts, burnt butter and salted ricotta

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Recipe Roadtest: Mum’s Apple and Rhubarb Crumble

One of my mum’s go-to desserts when we were growing up was apple and rhubarb crumble. She would make this quite regularly during winter, and the crunchy crumble topping combined with the simultaneously sweet and tart filling, served with a dollop of double cream, is still one of my favourite bakes. With the days in Sydney getting shorter and colder, it was time for Mum to bring out the baking mitts (and a taste.com.au recipe) and show us how it’s done:

Mum's Apple and Rhubarb Crumble

Mum’s Apple and Rhubarb Crumble

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AntiGravity Yoga

I have a really short attention span and I get bored very easily, which makes sticking to an exercise routine quite difficult! Typical routines of running/cycling/gymming just don’t do it for me, so I’m always on the look-out for fun new fitness fads or trends. AntiGravity yoga (AGY) was something that instantly appealed to me. I had never had any interest in doing yoga before because it had always seemed very serious and rigid, but the addition of silk hammocks gave it an element of playfulness and fun! Developed by former Broadway dancer and international gymnast Christopher Harrison, it involves yoga poses and inverts performed with the aid of silk hammocks suspended from the ceiling.

Invert

Invert

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Izakaya Kuroki, Chatswood

If you’ve been following my blog, you will remember I posted in my review of Khao Pla that I only ended up there because a Japanese restaurant that I wanted to go to was closed. Izakaya Kuroki was that restaurant and the main reason I was keen on going here was for its chicken karaage, which is one of the best that I’ve ever had. It doesn’t look like traditional karaage; it actually reminds me of KFC Hot & Spicy in appearance! There is an earth-shattering crunch when you bite into a piece and the meat is juicy and tender and has incredible flavour. It’s worth going to Kuroki for this dish alone.

Karaage Basket

Karaage Basket

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Recipe Roadtest: Alfajores

I first learned of alfajores on the Fearless Kitchen blog. I was intrigued by this Argentine version of melting moments, with a rich dulce de leche filling sandwiched between buttery biscuits. I love dulce de leche, so of course I had to try making these! Coincidentally, a week later, Donna Hay published a recipe for alfajores, which I tested out today.

Alfajores

Alfajores

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Big Stone, North Sydney

One of my favourite cuisines is Japanese. One of my favourite dining concepts is tapas. Put them together and what do you get? Big Stone, a modern Japanese tapas restaurant in North Sydney! I love the quirky touches inside the restaurant, from the hand painted murals to the pot plants hanging from the ceiling in wicker baskets and the gorgeous light fixtures over the bar.

Big Stone

Big Stone

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Quarters at Flinders Hotel, Mornington Peninsula

Friends had frequently told me about the incredible variety of things to do in the Mornington Peninsula, from visiting wineries to relaxing at the beach, wandering through hedge mazes or floating away in hot springs. So when I came across a group buying deal for a two-night stay at Quarters at Flinders Hotel, I immediately snapped it up. Mornington Peninsula is an easy 60-90 minute drive from Melbourne (depending on where you start from), with Flinders Hotel located on the eastern side of the peninsula. The hotel’s location means that it’s only a few minutes walk to the closest beach and Flinders Pier.

Flinders Pier

Flinders Pier

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