Vitis Eatery

I was farewelling a good friend of mine who was just about to embark on a new and exciting journey.  In true Emelia style I had to send her off with a delicious meal.  We decided on Vitis Eatery because it was a little fancier than the normal week day lunch venue and it was a great place to have a long lunch without any hustle and bustle.  I had been there for dinner before, but never for lunch.  Boy, was I surprised.  The food was amazing.

It was the day that it was snowing in Canberra so we had the novelty of being able to watch the snow falling while we lingered over our long lunch.

 

We both started with a little appetizer.  These were true morsels of happiness.

Tempura Prawn on a cucumber salad
Tempura Prawn on a cucumber salad

 

Scallop Tartare with Avocado and Wasabi
Scallop Tartare with Avocado and Wasabi

I had the scallop with avocado and Wasabi and it was a great balance of flavours.  This was a great start to the meal.

For our main my fried and I decided to share the special of the menu that day.  It was a beautiful spatchcock stuffed with grapes and ancient grains.  This was the best spatchcock I have ever eaten.  The meat was beautifully moist and the caramelised grapes were so sweet and sour that they complemented the beautiful poultry.  It came with a creamy Potato Dauphinoise.  It was the perfect accompaniment.

Spatchcook stuffed with grapes and ancient grains.
Spatchcook stuffed with grapes and ancient grains.

And last but not least the CHEESE!!!!  We seriously gorged our selves and absolutely no regrets!!!!!  We thought it was strange to have the salad on the side of the cheese board but we just ate around it.

Cheese board at Vitis Eatery
Cheese board at Vitis Eatery

Vitis Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Akiba

Andrew and I had been planning to go to Akiba since it opened.  When it first opened in early December we wanted avoid the hype and crowds and wait until they sorted out their teething issues like every brand new restaurant.  Last night we rode our bikes into Civic and tried the Tokyo inspired restaurant.

As soon as you enter you feel the energy pulsing through the place.  There were wait staff busily delivering orders and taking them.  You can feel the passion of every one working there.

Our waiter for the evening was Jed.  He was so enthusiastic about the food and was happy to describe all the flavours and ingredients for us.

Andrew perusing the menu
Andrew perusing the menu

 

Andrew and I were famished.  We have just started riding our bikes again and it was a little later than we usually have dinner so we were keen to order.  We ordered what felt like EVERYTHING!  We’ll have all the foods please!!!

All the plates are designed to share, which we love.  A little taste of this, a little taste of that.  Tiny little morsels of happiness to enjoy.

We started with their home made soft drinks, I had a Sour Cherry and Vanilla Soda and Andrew had the Pineapple, Lime and Chilli Soda. His was the clear winner, the flavours were fresh and intense.

We had the Sydney Rock oysters with a ume Migonette.  These were fresh and light and were great given the humidity of the night. A great start to the meal.

natural oyster, ume mignonette $10 for 4 oysters
natural oyster, ume mignonette $10 for 4 oysters

Once we had ordered everything came out lighting fast. This restaurant works like a well oiled machine. The kingfish sashimi was amazing!  We were careful to gather every single drop of that sauce. It was salty and sweet and spicy.

kingfish sashimi, coconut, nam jim, coriander $12
kingfish sashimi, coconut, nam jim, coriander $12

We had a variety of other dishes that we really enjoyed.  The dumplings had a great salty, sour, hot sauce to slurp up with them.  All the flavours were surprising and worked together very well.  I love water chestnuts the texture is what makes this dumpling work.

The Bao were great we especially loved the pork belly one.  The sauce was delicious and sticky.  The soft shell crab had great crunchy texture but the filling wasn’t really enough for the amount of bread we got. That was really only a minor complaint in comparison how good everything else was.

 

One of my favourites was the Kimchi Pancake.  It didn’t look like much when it came out but ‘wow’ the flavours punched you in the face.  The texture of the pancake was soft and chewy and the spicy Kimchi came through.

Emelia
I’m so excited about digging into those fluttering little bonito flakes! YUM!!!

All in all we had a great night out.  The food and service was amazing.  The atmosphere was fun and we went home completely stuffed!  Surprisingly it was cheaper than we had expected too.

We can’t wait to go back and try everything else!!!

 

Akiba on Urbanspoon

Human Brochure weekend

After so many weeks of discovering Canberra and sharing it with everyone our Human Brochure weekend came along. For weeks the weather had been amazing! So we planned a bit of an outdoor adventure for our interstate guests – Claire and Courtney, Andrew’s sister and partner from Sydney.
We were so excited! We found out that our VIP experience would learning to make sourdough bread and croissants at our favourite bakery – Autolyse!!!! YAY!!!! OMG

Our outdoor adventure was for the first day we thought a nice cruisy bike ride would be perfect after all the eating and drinking we would be doing!!!

Capitol Bar and Grill – QT Canberra

A few of my friends and I thought it might be a great idea to check out the new and improved restaurant at the new QT Canberra (formerly known as Rydges Lakeside)  many of us who work in the hospitality industry have been waiting with bated breath to see what QT Canberra has to offer.  To our delight the hotel has really embraced Canberra’s political focus and it has a tongue in cheek air about it.  On Fridays they often have Burlesque dancers in the their underground speakeasy – Lucky’s.  Lucky’s is a laid back 1920’s Chicago style bar that has great snack foods and amazing old school cocktails.

Sheree, Paula, Kate and I met up for dinner on a quiet Thursday night looking forward to casual catch up at Capitol Bar and Grill.   The menu was extensive, there were so many things on offer, from steaks, pastas, pies and salads.  We were overwhelmed by all the choices and weren’t sure what to try.  All the options looked amazing!!!

Now to Capitol Bar and Grill.  The old establishment Locanda, was known for it’s amazing steaks and I think Capitol Bar and Grill is still going to be able to cater  for that market as they have very solid steak menu. They dry age all of their steaks in house.  They have been really clever and used it as a feature of their restaurant where you can go see your steak before it’s cooked being dry aged – AWESOME!!!!

We started off with a bread basket to share.

The best part about this bread basket was that they have especially churned butter from Pepe Saya!  It was delicious and super cute!!!

We Thought we would split a plate of the Capitol Bar and Grill’s antipasto plate.  We had seen quite a few of them going around and well, we wanted one too.  When it came out.  It was laden with house made mortadella, prosciutto, anchovies, mini black truffle omeletes, parmasen,salumi, tuna stuffed bell peppers, skewers with melon, bocconcini, tomato and basil. We had a lovely waiter with an Italian accent explain what everything was to us.

It was a cold Canberra night and we were in the mood for a hearty pasta.  Sheree and Paula ordered the Homemade Ravioli filled with pork and veal ragu that has been slow cooked for 6 hours, it was served with a burnt butter sage sauce and truffled pecorino.  From all accounts this was a delicious dish.  The girls raved about how favoursome the filling in their ravioli was and how well the pasta was made.  I think the truffled pecorino was a great accompaniment to this dish.

One of my favourite things about the Capitol Bar and Grill are their plates.  Each plate has a little picture of Parliament House or Old Parliament House on it.  I thought it was a really nice touch.  I really wanted to steal a set for my own personal collection but I resisted the urge.

I really felt like some robust meaty flavours and my eyes wouldn’t go past the Rigatoni Salsiccia – a promise of meaty Italian sausage in a spicy tomato sauce.  Did someone say spicy???  I say SOLD!!!!!

Kate ordered something completely different with the Veal Cutlet.  It came out huge on the plate served with some lemon and asparagus spears.   It meat was tender and juicy and the crumb looked golden and cooked to perfection.  Kate seemed pretty happy with her choice.

Now on to the desserts….  Normally I’m not one to order dessert.  I don’t really have a sweet tooth so I like to save my sweet tooth tummy for more savoury deliciousness.  This time was an exception, Kate and I decided to split the Chocolate profiteroles and Sheree and Paula chose the donuts with syringes filled with jam and custard.  It’s safe to say that neither option failed to deliver. We were so excited about profiteroles when they hit the table.  It was just like an Easter surprise.  The dark chocolate sauce was slightly bitter and luxurious.

The donuts came out piping out and coasted with delicious cinnamon sugar.  The syringes were really cute and the jam was delicious.  We all got a taste of these.  They were delicious!

All in all our dining experience at Capitol Bar and Grill was great.  The service was attentive and professional the wait staff knew all the dishes on the menu well and were able to make very good recommendations.  We found that this was a reasonable well priced restaurant too.  We each paid $60 for dinner and wine.    I’m looking forward to going there again and sampling some other things from the menu.

Capitol Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Dhal – Lankan Style – Parippu

Simple dhal - A staple in every Sri Lankan home
Simple dhal – A staple in every Sri Lankan home

Most of you know that I come from a Sri Lankan family and have grown up eating Sri Lankan food. While I really love cooking and eating food from all over the world, there comes a time when that Sri Lankan craving hits, and that craving must be obeyed!

My quick and easy Sri Lankan fix is a simple Dhal. It’s healthy, goes great with some brown rice and you can make it in less that 15 minutes.

Masala Dharba

Ingredients

1C red lentils
1 small onion finely diced
1 green chilli finely chopped
10 curry leaves
1/4 tsp black mustard seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (optional)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2C Coconut milk
2C water
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp vegetable or coconut oil
Salt to taste

_DSC2114
Method

1. Wash the lentils thoroughly.

2. Heat the oil, fry the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. Then add the onions and curry leaves and when the onions caramalised add in lentils, turmeric, cinnamon and water and cook over a low heat. Add salt and the milk and continue to cook for about 10 minutes and the dhal curry is ready for serving. Once the dhal is cooked, it will turn yellow in colour and will have a nice mushy texture.

3. Serve with steamed rice.

See easy peasy!!!!

Dhal Success!  YUM!
Dhal Success! YUM!

So tell me friends… What’s your ultimate comfort food?

Burmese Curry Place – A Canberra Institution

Burmese Curry!  This place is an institution in Canberra. A lot of people know about it, but it really is one of Canberra’s unsung heros.  It has a basic menu of 9 dishes that are available every week day for lunch or dinner.  The basic concept is that you can choose two dishes and it’s served on a bed of steamed rice.  The curries are spicy and salty and they hit the spot every single time.  You can make them more spicy if you like, the Burmese Curry Place provide you with extra chilli to give your curries some extra kick. They have the same curries every day

[unordered_list style=”star”]
  • Prawn and Chicken Curry
  • Fish Curry
  • Chicken and Potato Curry
  • Sweet Pork Curry
  • Fish Cake Curry
  • Egg Curry
  • Vegie Curry
  • Chicken and Bean Curry
  • Beef and Potato Curry

Andrew with his Fish Cake and Beef Curries - Loving Life.  Andrew with his Fish Cake and Beef Curries – Loving Life.

One Wednesday Andrew and I were at a bit of a loose end looking for a quick bite to eat before we went for a walk around the lake when we thought BURMESE CURRY! We love it so much.  It reminds us of a little Asian street eat place, right here in the heart of Canberra.  I had the Chicken & Prawn Curry and the Fish Curry.  Andrew had the Beef Curry and the Fish Cakes.  DELICIOUS!

Where else can you get better value? $10 for a delicious meal and a drink.

Me eating a delicious prawn from my Prawn & Chicken Curry!
Me eating a delicious prawn from my Prawn & Chicken Curry!

Burmese Curry Place on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

The Best Samosas in the World

We have always been disappointed with the humble samosa. It has so much potential but often falls short because either the pastry isn’t crispy enough or the filling isn’t punchy enough. So we decided to come up with our own recipe.  We also made a spicy tomato relish to go with it.

I’m warning you, these are the best samosas in the world but they are super labour intensive.

Andrew and I have made them twice with different results but the second time we totes nailed it!

These have a delicious slow cooked lamb filling with potatoes and peas. The lamb filling has a mixture of Indian and Sri Lankan spices.  We love the freshness of curry leaves and lemongrass.

So here is our recipe.

Filling ingredients

2kg leg of lamb
1 whole lemongrass
6 garlic cloves
3 Tbsp of Sri Lankan Curry powder
5 cloves
5 cardamom pods
1 Tbsp Cumin Seeds
2 Tbsp Cumin powder
2 tbsp Coriander powder
20 curry leaves
2 pandan leaves (if you can find them)
1 Tbsp turmeric
1 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp chilli powder
1/3 Cup vegetable oil.
2 medium onion finely diced
1 bottle of tomato passata
1 Litre Beef stock – pre bought is fine
1kg of dutch cream potatoes peeled
1 small packet of frozen green peas
2 green chillies
4 birds eye chillies finely chopped
1 Lemon juiced
Salt

Make the filling

  1. Prepare the lamb leg by cutting slits all over the lamb leg.
  2. Rub salt and curry powder into the lamb leg.
  3. In a mortar and pestle pound the garlic, cardamom, lemongrass until they
    have released their flavours.
  4. Heat oil in a heavy based pan until very hot.  Sear the lamb leg all over until it
    is brown on all sides.

    Searing Lamb leg
    Searing Lamb leg
  5. Once the lamb leg is seared take it off the heat and set it aside.
  6. Pre heat the oven to 150C
  7. Put the pan back on the heat and stir fry 1 onion, garlic, curry leaves, pandan
    leaves,  cinnamon stick turmeric, paprika, cloves and  chilli powder cook until
    the onion is translucent.
    _DSC1095
  8. Place the lamb leg back in the pan and pour over the bottle of passata and beef stock.  Adjust the salt.
  9. Place in the oven and cook for about 4hours.  Checking the lamb and turning it over every hour.  Make sure there is always liquid in the pot.  Add water if required.
  10. Once the lamb has cooked through.  Pull the meat off the bone.  Keep the fat and all the juicy bits.
    Lamb falling off the bone
    Oh Yeah!

    _DSC1140

  11. Take any remaining liquid and put it through a sieve and place in a small saucepan.
  12. Heat the liquid in a saucepan and bring to boil.  Keep it at a boil until the liquid reduces to a thick paste.  Make sure it doesn’t burn.

Boil the Potatoes

  1. Bring a big saucepan of water to  the boil add salt.
    Boiling potatoes
    Potatoes thicken and mellow the filling, while adding a creamy texture
  2. Peel all of the potatoes.  Keep them whole
  3. Boil them until you can mash the potatoes.
  4. Roughly mash potatoes.  They need to be chunky and not smooth.

 

  1. Heat some oil in a big saucepan
  2. Add in onion, garlic, cumin seeds, cumin powder, coriander powder and greenchillies.  Add in the lamb meat, reduced liquid, potatoes and green
    peas.  Taste for salt.  Add more salt if required.
  3. Stir through the lemon juice.
  4. Set aside to cool.

 

Make the pastry

4.5 cups plain flour
3 Tbsp Supafry / ghee (keep refrigerated)
250ml ice water
2 tsp salt

 

  1. Add Supafry to food processor and sift-in flour, add salt. blend for 20-30 seconds or until fat is ‘rubbed-in’.
    adding Flour to food processor
    Rubbing in the fat to the flour in the traditional method just melts the fat and makes your pastry impossible to work with. Using a food processor is quicker and keeps the pastry cool.
  2. Transfer to large bowl, add 3/4 of the ice water, combine with hands until it is firm.
  3. Add more water if the dough is still crumbly – when you are sure all the liquid has been incorporated. Please be patient with this, keep kneading!
  4. When you have a firm ball of dough, rest covered in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

**VERY IMPORTANT!!** You need to be very careful with water content here – as the dough needs to be very firm to effectively work with it. Remember, the dough will be crumbly (not come together) for a while – this is normal.

 Folding the samosas

For this stage it’s best to have a partner rolling the skins while you fill them.

Get ready:

  • Small water dish (for sealing)
  • Tray with baking paper
  • Plain flour (for kneading)
  • Rolling pin
  • Spoon
  • Plate for dough
  • Lamb Filling mixture

Lightly dust bench and rolling pin with flour. From the main ball of dough pinch off a 1 inch ball and knead into a 17cm round. These should be quite thin, 2-3mm is best. cut in half and set aside. Make sure these don’t dry out too much for folding.

_DSC1157

_DSC1160

Take a ‘half’ of pastry and make a cone – the centre of the long flat edge will become the bottom of the cone.   Along half the long edge, apply a tiny bit of water (to make it stick together) and bring the long edge corners together, pressing together firmly but careful that the pastry doesn’t break.  Spoon some of the mixture into the cone shape, don’t overfill the cones!  Moisten the open edges and press together, it should make a triangular shape.  Set on a baking-paper lined tray.

Deep fry when ready to cook!

Deep Fry!
Fry baby fry!

 

Tomato Chutney

1Kg of tomatoes finely diced
1 medium onion finely diced
1/3 C Vegetable oil
2Tbsp black mustard seeds
2Tbsp chilli powder
2Tbsp Garam masala
6Tbsp white sugar
Salt to taste

  1. In a saucepan bring heat the oil until smoking.
  2. Add mustard seeds and let them ‘pop’
  3. Add onion and cook until they are translucent.
  4. Add in the tomatoes, garam masala, chilli and sugar.
  5. Let these cook for 30-45 minutes
  6. Add salt to taste.

Serve as a side to the samosa.

_DSC1166

Please let us know if you try our recipe.  We would really love to hear how this recipe went in your kitchen.  Did you try anything different?

 

 

Roasted Veg Quinoa Salad – So quick and delicious!

This is a great recipe if you want a really substantial salad that is suitable for vegan and vegetarians.

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Veg

I like making it for BBQs to give people something a little different to try.

Ingredients

Serves 8
1 ½ C Quinoa – you can try using any variety, there is white, red and black.
3C of vegetable stock
½ Tbsp cumin powder
3Tbsp olive oil
2C Kent pumpkin cut into small cubes
1 large Eggplant cut into small cubes
1 large Zucchini cut into small cubes
1 capsicum cut into small cubes
2Tbsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp cumin powder
1 brown onion sliced
5 garlic cloves whole and peeled
Salt
1 cup of basil leaves finely chopped

  1. Pre heat oven to 180C
  2. Wash quinoa thoroughly in cold water. Place quinoa, stock and cumin into a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil and cook for approx 20 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed by the quinoa and the quinoa has started to change shape
  3. Get the eggplant, pumpkin, capsicum, onion, zucchini and garlic in a bowl toss with olive oil, paprika, salt and cumin.
  4. Place on vegetables on a baking tray and bake for 20-30 mins until all of the vegetables are cooked through.
  5. Once the quinoa and the vegetables are cooked toss them together along with the fresh basil.
  6.  Serve with grilled meat or fish or even by itself.

Simple Chocolate Cake to knock your socks off!

Recently we had a dinner that I had promised I would make some Black Forest ice Cream for.  I thought it would be really nice to to have a simple but decadent chocolate cake to go with it.  Let the ice cream be the star but have a nice vehicle for it to go with so this recipe came about.  It doesn’t need a lot of ingredients and you can have it baked and iced in an hour and a half.  I also added some cinnamon but you could probably leave it out if you don’t love cinnamon.

Now for the recipe

Ingredients for the cake

  • 200g butter, chopped
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 cup milk

Ingredients for the icing

  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cream

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 20cm round cake pan. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla in a bowl until pale. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until it all comes together.
  2. Sift flour, cocoa, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda together. Fold into butter mixture alternately with milk until well-combined. Spoon mixture into prepared pan and smooth the surface.
  3. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Allow to cool before icing.
  4. To make icing: Put chocolate, cream and cinnamon in a small heatproof bowl. Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until mixture is melted and smooth. Remove from heat and spread over cake.

TA DA Done and dusted!!!  Easy peasy!!!!

I’ll do up a post about my ice cream next.  It was the Bomb Diggity.