All posts tagged “reviews

Sydney Night Noodle Markets 2014

Although not quite street food friendly, Sydney has been taking steps in recent years to welcome more food festivals. And the night noodle markets is one of the bigger ventures. On Saturday night, it was so busy and bustling, that no spare tables were spied even at 8:30pm. The stalls were packed and you better enjoy queuing because there’s a lot of that to be done

In terms of the stalls, there was a good representation of Sydney staples like Mamak, Ding Tai Fung, New Shanghai & Messina. With the exception of a few dessert stalls, it was all Asian fare. I guess “night noodle market” is deemed to be a more welcoming that “night hawker market”. But the latter term probably better represents the event. There are also sponsored “areas” where alcohol was available with themed setups where for example you could enjoy your meal in the vicinity of a luxury Mercedes Benz, because hey if you eat near one, you might as well be tempted to buy it right?

So…What about the food? In general it’s okay, as in okay I’m not too disappointed but I’ve probably had better in some Chinatown food courts. To start I had chicken Karaage ($8) & duck gyozas ($8) from Harajuku Gyozas which were adequate, with the gyozas surprisingly flavoursome. Then some hipster wholemeal roti & 2 curries ($12) from Spice Villa, again adequate, but come on, wholemeal roti? Look I’m a reluctant hipster at heart but sometimes, just don’t screw around with the staples. Then it was drop all pretences and gird your loins because baby there’s a BBQ pit nearby…

Sydney Night Noodle Market 2014

Sydney Night Noodle Market 2014

Boasting by far the longest queue of the entire night market was Hoy Pinoy, Filipino BBQ extraordinaires from Melbourne. The one thing I know about street food is that if there’s a giant throng of people around the stall, it’s probably good. Actually it’s probably better than good. JUST LOOK AT THE HEAVING PILES OF MEAT SKEWERS… OH MY!!!

Sydney Night Noodle Market 2014

Sydney Night Noodle Market 2014

Anyway, they sold Pork Belly skewers and BBQ Chicken skewers (all $5 each) with pork belly basically winning the night (honestly does pork belly ever not win the night? It’s really the joker card of the dining table). The skewer was sticky from the gochujang inspired marinade, smokey from the charcoal grill, beautifully caramelised and just blissful. And who doesn’t love a meal that comes on a dangerous weapon of mass destruction? Those were the largest and thickest kebab skewers I’ve ever seen. You could erect a medieval defense mechanism with them, in fact I was surprised no drunk bogans had impaled themselves by that stage of the night. They were indeed that sharp. Okay maybe said bogans were all too sloshed at the Harvey Norman tent to find their way to a good meat skewer. Hoy Pinoy was a line that I’d be happy to stand in again but unfortunately I was quite full by this time so dessert? y/y?

ALAS, by the time I’d waltzed to Messina in anticipation of their lucky pot pie gelato masterpiece, they had cut the line off so it was not to be. So instead we’d settled for mini pancakes with chocolate & red bean sauces ($10). Lending a slightly sugary and tepid disappointment to the night.

Sydney Night Noodle Market 2014

Hawker markets in Sydney are usually more miss than hit. Usually the food is adequately delicious for the setup but it’s the price that kills. Most plates are equivalent to or a few dollars more than their food court counterparts but with a smaller serving. So you’re essentially paying 8 dollars for an “entree” and 12 dollars for a “main”. Compare this to real street food cultures like Hong Kong or Penang where you’re paying only a few dollars for a similar plate. I get that Sydney is an expensive city (DON’T WORRY WE ALL GET IT!!!), but honestly when it costs this amount of money to eat food off plastic plates whilst standing around an assortment of plastic chairs and tables in a park. It feels pretty disingenuous when I can walk 5 min down the road and enjoy a similarly good if not better meal for 2/3 of the price in a much more relaxed setting.

Okay look… maybe it was all worth it for that Pork Belly skewer in the end.

Sydney Night Noodle Market 2014

Sydney Night Noodle Markets
Hyde Park, Sydney, October 10 – 26, 2014

 

What I’m Reading – Blogs

I’ve always been a prolific online blog reader, so much so that my gigantic Feedly list regularly throws me daily targets of 500+ articles to get through. This is daunting to say the least but luckily my speed reading skills acquired through my lacklustre law degree has come in handy.

I follow over 50 food blogs alone, and sometimes the visuals do meld together into a sea of indistinguishable food porn, especially with the larger compilation sites like Serious Eats, Eater and Food52. This is why sometimes it’s really enjoyable to read individual sites which have a unique and individual tone.

The following are of many which inspire me, fill me with awe, and occasionally impart a generous dose of envy. And often it’s all three emotions at once.

Manger

Reading Manger late at night you often wonder where the hell you went wrong in your own life. I mean…Mimi Thorisson just paints the perfect life in blog form. She’s beautiful, her kids are beautiful and they all live a seemingly wistful & charming life in provincial France with amazing produce, food and gorgeous neighbours. Did I mention everything (including the photography) is so fucking beautiful it hurts?  If I were to grow up again, Thorisson would be my hero-woman. Gwyneth Paltrow can only wish she had so much style.

Manger

Lady and Pups

If reading Manger has got you all bitter and jaded about your own life then this blog is the antidote. Get angry, get even and get cooking. Often food and lifestyle blogs nowadays get lost in a sea of ethereal hipsterdom (which moi is guilty of also) so it’s refreshing when you encounter something which isn’t afraid to go bold or go home. The Lady of this site punches you in the face with her food, photography and writing. The sass is as biting as is the generous use of spices and after every recipe I’m craving a post-coital cigarette (and I don’t even smoke). It’s definitely a FUCK JEAH! blog.

pups

Two Red Bowls

Considering TRB started their blog a month before I did last year, Bowl #1 is testament to that hard work and perseverance equal the makings of a successful blog. Unlike yours truly who generally just fluffs about on this blog, TRB updates regularly, involves herself in the community and has a keen sense of direction for TRB. What’s also inspiring to see is the evolution of her styling and photography skills.  Every time I need a kick up the bum to post something, it usually comes after reading TRB latest post.

Clinton St Baking Company Pancakes, for Verily Magazine

Alana Bread

A fellow Australian, Alana covers both dining out in Sydney and her own recipes. She has such a keen eye on capturing the mood and tone when covering eating establishments and I love the variety on her blog. She also shoots for Broadsheet which is fast becoming the go to online hipster foodie hangout for Sydneysiders and Melbournians. I’d love to pick her photography brain whilst simultaneously hanging out at some hip new opening in Surry hills (Sydney lyfe YO!)

Alana Bread

It’s Summer! Things I’m loving right now!

There’s something wonderfully pure about summer, the incessant sunshine (at least in Australia) and copious amounts of daylight really tends to lift the spirits in the most morose of people. The combination of Summer and the festive season means an extra extra relaxed December down under. I’ve jetsetted overseas the past couple of summers but this year I’ve decided to spend it at home, chilling out, catching up on everything I’ve missed during the year and finally…working my way through my much-ignored bookshelf. Often I feel on one hand overwhelmed by holidays and yet complacent about them as well. I always feel like I need to accomplish things but then the other side of my brain goes, “Whatchyoo talking about? It’s summer, kick back and CHILLAX”. Well here’s a bit of both.

# SUMMER BERRIES

A bowl of sweet fresh summer berries is something that’s hard to culinarily top. I’ve been dealing with a foot injury recently so I’ve limited myself to swimming these couple of weeks for exercise (the no running rule is killing me though!). Swimming always makes me ravenous but the heat means I don’t really look forward to coming home to a steak or something heavy. I found chopped strawberries, handful of blueberries, some mango and other additions really do the trick. The following is Strawberries & Blueberries, macerated in vanilla sugar, mint & butterscotch schnapps. It’s insanely good!!!

Summer Berries

# GORDON RAMSAY

Gordon is the sole reason why I have killer knife skills. I remember been back at uni and getting into cooking seriously for the first time and his F-word series for Channel 4 was really what taught me the basics. No matter his business failures or his somewhat embarrassing mugging for the American market (See Hell’s Kitchen & Kitchen Nightmares US), this guy is still one of my heroes. He’s the classic working class lad made good through hard work and the dude can freaking cook. So I was delighted to find a new series he’s done for Channel 4  recently (Gordon Ramsay’s Home Cooking) which includes cooking with his 4 awesome kids. I mean I’m already a sucker for well shot and produced food shows (Anthony Bourdain & Co, I’m looking at you). But the additional upside to this show is you get to see Gordon being a funny and goofy dad. Awwwww, something to keep in mind the next time he calls someone a donkey for using a non-stick pan. I’ve watched all 20 episodes in the last few days, that’s how good this show is!!!, WATCH IIIIIIIIIT!!!


# BOOKS

My book shelf these days is fast running out of room, the good thing is that I’ve got a pretty awesome food and photography collection at the moment, bad thing is there are always more awesome books I want to purchase. I probably approach buying food/cook books a little differently to a lot of people. For me, photography comes first and foremost. If I flip through a bookstore and the pictures strike an arrow through my heart then that’s it.

The photography of Donna Hay’s New Classics, struck me well and truly in the solar plexus as I was browsing in the bookstore. Hay is an ubiquitous name in the international as well as Australian food scene, but what strikes me most is that the photography which accompanies her many publications is just FREAKING TECHNICALLY PERFECT. The styling, the photography, you just can’t fault any of it. Usually when I see really commercial food photography there’s a insipid blandness that comes across with the perfection but not here.  Her new book, New Classics, actually also contains some brilliant easy and timeless recipes amongst the gorgeous photography. It’s a dense, thick, heavy and beautifully bound book highlighting multiple photographers and stylists, so it’s a great tool for picking different looks. This is actually my first Donna Hay publication, and I fear it might not be my last.

Nathan Mhyrvold is a freak. There’s really no better way to put it.  He’s 5 volume Magnus opus, Modernist Cuisine weighs in at a hefty 24kg and costs around $500 and although tempting at first, I really couldn’t justify purchasing it (I gather my poor bookshelf was thankful for that decision). But when The Photography of Modernist Cuisine was announced I put it on my Amazon wish list immediately and waited for the right price to pull the trigger. Although at first I was a little disappointed in the actual photography and styling compared to Donna Hay’s book, this book is nothing short of a nerdy achievement in the best of ways. Firstly it’s big, like bigger than a Britannica Atlas, big (yeah remember those?). I have trouble carrying it between the bedroom and living room, that’s how big and heavy and cumbersome it is. When pictures are blown up that big…well most photos would look impressive. The book is mostly a collection of studio shots of food, a combo of microscopic, macro, cutaways (where they literally cut food vessels in half) and minimalist styled shots. Although minimalist styling can still work wonders (See Ditte Isager’s work from NOMA book), the photography here however feels a little commercial and outdated, due to studio only lighting. It’s not a style that I’ve always liked or wanted to emulate but I see myself trying it out as a challenge. Luckily diagrams are included…nerdy awesome!

I do like how different both publications are, it’s always good to get a variety of photographic inspirations. Both will have coveted places on my very full bookshelf (although Modernist Cuisine unfortunately doesn’t fit).