Category Archives: Cairns

Foodvixen Does Europe (Rome) – Day 2

We woke bright and early on our first full day in Rome, partly because my pillow was like sleeping on a bag of cement and partly because I can’t go to bed without an alarm set regardless if I’m on holiday.  We had a light breakfast in the hotel, well I did.  Espresso coffee and some fruit was plenty for me whereas old Fatty McFat Fat aka my other half stuffed himself with danishes, croissants filled with cream cheese, ham, fruit and more cheese.

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Brekkie view in the garden at our hotel – Hotel Ponte Sisto

 

We had a Skip the Line Tour booked at the Colosseum booked for later that afternoon but figured we would go and see a few of the other sights before then.  Campo Dei Fiori where there was so many delicious things I wanted to buy but figured I am going to be in Florence later next week, then the Pantheon which we literally stumbled upon.  It’s a pretty awe inspiring place especially when you just stumble around the corner not expecting to see it.  Next up the Trevi Fountain.  We threw a couple of Euro over our shoulder – apparently there is more than 3000 Euro thrown into it a day.  God knows where it all goes but a good friend of mine said that last time she was there she saw a homeless lady fishing some of it out with a pole with a magnet on the end.  I must say I’m impressed with her ingenuity and DGAF attitude.

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By this time it was about lunchtime so after a toilet stop – and by toilet stop I mean having a coffee at a café with the ingenious disguise of wanting to use their restroom we found ourselves near the Colosseum at Angelino ai Fori – a restaurant within close proximity to the start of our tour.  It did look like a bit of a tourist trap and considering how close it was to the Colosseum it most likely was but it was the best looking restaurant in the area so we gave it a go anyway.  Are expectations were extremely low but we actually really enjoyed it and even went back a second time a couple of days later.  Go figure.

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Antipasti and Aperol Spritz for lunch at Angelino ai Fori

Three and a bit hours later we finished our epic Colosseum tour and headed back towards our hotel with a short stop at a restaurant that I well and truly had my sights set on, hoping to get a seat.  The waitress told us that the place was completely booked for the evening much to my despair but said we could come back in 45 minutes and try our luck.  45 minutes later and boy was I lucky.  Straight in and straight to an upstairs table at the highly regarded Roscioli.

My sister gave me a book called “Where Chef’s Eat” a couple of years ago (there’s a new edition every year) and I finally decided that I would have a look through it before this holiday.  I earmarked a heap of restaurants, cafes and patisseries in the places we were visiting and Roscioli was one them.  After doing some Googling there isn’t a blogger that comes to Rome that doesn’t go to Roscioli so as they say, when in Rome.

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Love this cooking philosophy from the opening page of the menu at Roscioli

The menu is literally mouthwatering!  There were so many things on the menu that I wanted to eat and still now I am kicking myself for not getting the burrata (some of the best in Rome) but our entrée of Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Roman Oxtail Stew and Peppered with White Cheese Fondue washed down with a glass of Italian Pinot Noir was a decadent and tear inducing hot start to our dinner.

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Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Roman Oxtail Stew and Peppered with White Cheese Fondue

 

Main for me was the Big Spaghetti with Albacore Tuna Marrow, Wild Fennel, Minced Tomatoes and Olives (19 Euro).

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MS had La Carbonara with Crispy Cheek Pork, Malaisian Black Pepper, Paolo Parisi Eggs and Roman Pecorino Cheese Dop.

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In the menu it states that all pasta dishes are cooked ‘al dente’ which is a little hard for my liking but again ‘when in Rome’.  Plus I don’t believe in changing dishes at restaurants.  You eat them how they are meant to be cooked and served.  So far this is our one and only pasta meal in Rome so we really have nothing to compare it to however my tastebuds know a good meal when they taste it and they were beyond content.

I am glad that I did some research of places that I wanted to dine at before we visited Rome because to me it seems like there are more tourist traps that great places to dine.  It does take a little bit of time to research but it’s so much more rewarding finding the hidden gems.  Plus it saves aimlessly walking in circles trying to decide which place to go to.  As for Roscioli, some reviews have said that the restaurant is too squishy inside but I actually really enjoyed the atmosphere and layout of the place plus being that close to the table next to us admittedly allowed me to eavesdrop on the miserable American couple next to us that clearly weren’t having a great holiday together.  The pasta was excellent, the service I found to be exemplary.  Whether this trip or another Roscioli is somewhere that I without a doubt want to go back to!

Foodvixen Does Europe (Rome) – Day 1

I have been meaning to get my webpage up and running again and what better time to do it than when I am on holidays?  Europe has never really been high on my list of places to visit.  Just ask my best friend SS who has been trying to get me over for close 7 years I reckon.  Now she’s getting hitched in London in a few weeks time and I find myself at Brisbane International Airport at 5am boarding a plane to Rome.  It’s not that I never wanted to visit Europe, I guess I just had a few places that I wanted to visit beforehand but now we’re making a holiday of it!

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Breakfast in the Emirates Lounge at Brisbane International Airport

Fast forward about 24 hours – 14 ish hours spent on the plane from Brisbane to Dubai where neither MS nor I slept a wink and then another 5.5 hours from Dubai to Rome.  To say it was a long trip would be an understatement and whomever said that flying with Emirates is amazing must have rocks in their head because I have had better service on Jetstar (not even kidding).

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Mini Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Bagels also from the Emirates Lounge at Brisbane International Airport

We waited a ridiculously long time at Immigration, grabbed our suitcases and made for the train station.  Catching trains in a foreign country I find is always a bit of a risk.  You never really know if you’re on the right train until you actually pull up at the station and breath a small sigh of relief knowing that – yes you got on the right train and yes it was going in the right direction.  Another short taxi ride and we were at our hotel in Travestere, Hotel Ponte Sisto.  If you’re coming to Rome anytime soon I definitely recommend it.  It seems to be very well positioned to see all the sights in Rome plus most importantly very close to some of the restaurants and cafe’s that I wanted to visit.

Dinner was next on the agenda so we found ourselves at popular pizzeria Dar Poeta, only a 10 minute walk from our hotel.  As I said it’s a popular choice amongst the locals and tourists so we put our name on the list at the door and within 10 minutes we had a seat inside away from the wafts of cigarette smoke from the outdoor diners.  Pizza was the name of the game at Dar Poeta and after reading through the extensive menu we ordered a pizza each, some still water and half a carafe of white house wine.  The place was buzzing with people and it was packed to the rafters but our pizza arrived within about 15 minutes.

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Despite eating plane food all day and stuffing ourselves in the Emirates Business Class Lounge in Dubai we were still quite hungry.  I ordered the Bufala – Tomato Sauce, Cherry Tomatoes, Mozzarella Cheese and Basil for the bargain price of only 9 euros while MS chose the Rustica – Mozzarella Cheese, Speck, Potatoes and Soft Cheese (also 9 euros).  I don’t like to describe the food too much because I think the picture kind of speaks for itself.  Yes it was as good as it looks.

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Bufala – Tomato Sauce, Cherry Tomatoes, Mozzarella Cheese and Basil (9 Euros)

We loved Dar Poeta so much – awesome prices, delicious food and a buzzing atmosphere – that we are seriously considering going back again.  I’ve heard so many people complain about the simplicity of food in Italy but I think simplicity is often the key to good food because it ensures fresh, quality ingredients and that really rung true to me after our first meal in Italy at Dar Poeta.

Pullman International High Tea Instameet

I was lucky enough to have snagged an invite to the Pullman International’s High Tea Instameet held yesterday afternoon.  What’s an Instameet you say?  It’s pretty much a bunch of Instagrammer’s meeting up to take photos of a shared interest – in this case it was food.  I have been following a few of the ridiculously talented pastry chefs from the Pullman International for quite some time on Instagram and after many promises that I would come and visit for a High Tea I finally got there!  Would you believe that this was my first ever High Tea experience? And wow it didn’t disappoint.

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The Pullman International with it’s beautiful high ceilings, grand piano and old world charm set the scene for our afternoon of delights.  Upon arrival we were met with a long table of gorgeous tiered sweet and savoury treats.  A barrage of photos ensued and we took our seats with offers of Mocktails, Iced Tea and Sparkling Rose.

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My fellow Instagrammers and I were joined at the table by Executive Chef Matt Lonne and Head Pastry Chef Mel Day whom we chatted with about our favourite restaurants (and not so favourite restaurants), favourite ingredients to cook with and of course the hot topic in Cairns at the moment, the heat.

The High Tea consisted of five savoury dishes and five sweet dishes lovingly created behind the scenes by the unbelievably creative pastry team.

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Out of the savoury menu I absolutely loved the Petite Deconstructed Beef Wellington with Red Wine Reduction.

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Petite Deconstructed Beef Wellington with Red Wine Reduction

The Watermelon Mousse with Sour Gel was a huge hit at the table but my personal favourite had to be the Peanut Butter and Jelly Macarons.

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Watermelon Mousse with Sour Gel

 

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Macarons (at the back)

 

After an hour and a half of sweet and savoury treats and just ‘one more’ macaron about four times over I had certainly had more than my fill and was ready for an afternoon nap.  I had a fabulous time yesterday and cannot recommend the High Tea at the Pullman International enough!  It’s a popular spot birthdays, hen’s do’s and of course baby showers, in fact my +1 enjoyed herself so much yesterday she is considering having a High Tea 30th birthday ‘do’ there in a couple of months time.  Of course you don’t have to have an event to do the High Tea as it’s available 7 days a week from 10.30am to 4pm.

Perotta’s At The Gallery, Cairns

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I’ve been to Perotta’s At The Gallery a million and one times for breakfast and lunch but I’ve only been there once for dinner way back in about 2004.  After a long day in transit on my way home from the NT capital, MS picked me up at the airport and after deciding that neither of us wanted to cook – who am I kidding MS doesn’t cook! – we headed to Perotta’s for dinner.  With my Entertainment Book Gold Card offering me ‘buy one get one free’ main meals I figured now was a good a time as any to try out the dinner menu.

The place was about ½ full when we arrived so we chose a seat near the entrance closest to the lagoon. We ordered wine to celebrate the first time seeing each other in 4 weeks and had a squiz at the menus. The menu at Perotta’s has something to suit most people with plenty of variety and not just your standard run of the mill boring dishes. My go to dish when I go there for lunch is the Chilli Salt Squid Salad and although that is featured on the dinner menu I figured it might be time to branch out.

An previously posted pic of the Chilli Salt Squid Salad with Roast Pumpkin, Spiced Popcorn, Pomegranate and Rocket ($21)

A previously posted pic of the Chilli Salt Squid Salad with Roast Pumpkin, Spiced Popcorn, Pomegranate and Rocket ($21)

To start with we ordered the Garlic Bruschetta with Fresh Ricotta, Mint and Calabrian Chilli (AU$9) and the Burrata Caprese with Heirloom Tomato, Watermelon, Rocket Pesto and Raspberry Vinegar (AU$21). MS asked me what Burrata was and thinking I was all sophisticated and smart I told him that it was a type of Cured Italian Meat. Boy did we get a surprise when it the Burrata arrived at our table a short while later – a good surprise though! Turns out Bresaola is the Italian Cured Meat that I’d gotten confused with and Burrata is actually an Italian Cheese. Pfft I totally knew that.

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The Burrata Caprese with Heirloom Tomato, Watermelon, Rocket Pesto and Raspberry Vinegar (AU$21) and the Garlic Bruschetta with Fresh Ricotta, Mint and Calabrian Chilli (AU$9)

In all honesty the Garlic Bruschetta wasn’t really anything to write home about but it was actually perfect for mopping up the last bits of Burrata and Rocket Pesto. I’m normally hesitant to eat watermelon since I was a little kid and my dad told me a watermelon vine was going to grow in my stomach after I swallowed a seed.  Thanks dad, way to scar me for life and now I absolutely refuse to eat any type of grape (unless in wine) or watermelon (even the ‘seedless’ variety). The Burrata with juicy Heirloom Tomatoes was a beautiful and tasty dish that we both enjoyed.  It was a great start to the night – I highly recommend this one.

Mmm that Burrata

Mmm that Burrata

Next up for our mains MS had ordered the Pork Spare Ribs with Fennel, Apple Cider Vinegar and Pickled Pineapple (AU$37) which came with a big bowl of chips and I had the 8 Hour Lamb Shoulder, 3 Wheat Salad, Almond, Mint, Pomegranate and Spicy Cumin Yogurt (AU$36).

MS’ Pork Spare Ribs were literally falling off the bone – the way ribs should be IMO – and were covered in a delicious tangy glaze. The Pickled Pineapple was nice but needed to be pickled just that little bit longer. We both thought the serving size was a little bit small for $37 but MS was pretty full by the time he polished them off.

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Pork Spare Ribs with Fennel, Apple Cider Vinegar and Pickled Pineapple (AU$37)

My 8 Hour Lamb Shoulder was super tasty albeit a little on the small side for the price ($36). The added crunchy strips of bacon/pancetta/prosciutto whatever the hell it was really added to the dish. Despite the size of the dish I actually struggled to finish it. I find rich cuts of meat like Lamb Shoulder, Lamb Shanks and Beef Cheeks fill me up really quick and I can’t eat a whole lot although I want to. Give me Garlic Bread however and I can eat that carby goodness till the cows come home!  We wanted to stick around for dessert especially after I spotted the Eton Mess on the Dessert Menu (the only one I know of in town) but we just couldn’t fit it in.

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8 Hour Lamb Shoulder, 3 Wheat Salad, Almond, Mint, Pomegranate and Spicy Cumin Yogurt (AU$36)

It’s got to be the number one place in Cairns for people watching – with wine of course! The wait staff are very friendly and professional, in fact it’s consistently one of the better places in Cairns in terms of service (something Cairns is usually lacking in). I do find that the food, particularly the mains, are a little expensive for what you get and this is something that seems to be reiterated in other online reviews I’ve read. Nearly 20 years of good food and service is certainly a mean feat in this small town. According to their website Perotta’s (as the locals like to call it) has been around since 1997 would you believe? Yes I was a little surprised by that too so I guess you could also call this place a bit of a Cairns institution – seems I’m using that word a lot these days.

Perotta’s At The Gallery

38 Abbott St, Cairns QLD 4870.  Ph: (07) 40315899

Opening Hours: 7 days a week 6.30am – 10pm

Martinelli Pizza Bar, Trinity Beach

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Last week with my partner in crime and ‘Chief Pizza Eater’ in tow I headed out to Martinelli Pizza Bar at Trinity Beach.  Clearly the two of us don’t get out there often enough as we tend to hang out mostly in the city (Swamp Donkey’s was what my old Chief Engineer used to call us) but I am attempting to branch out a little more.

Martinelli’s has only been open for a few months and we were both keen to test out the only Roman style slab pizzas (that I know of) in town.  We arrived just behind a couple of bare-footed bogans whom I overheard asking the chef and owner Peter if they also sold ’round’ pizzas.  Some people really do astound me.  As ignorant as they were, not to mention stupid, surely they realise that pizzas tend to taste the same no matter what shape they are.  Nevertheless Peter convinced them to try one of his popular Roman style pizzas and they took a seat.

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Initially MS and I were only going to get takeaway because I wanted to watch The Bachelorette (don’t judge me) but after a bit of careful consideration we decided to stay.  First up we ordered the Garlic and Herb Focaccia with Garlic Oil, Herb Butter and Rosemary Salt and I tell you what we were in for a treat.  Does anyone remember the old Donnini’s when it was on the first floor at the Pier – back in around say 1990?  Still to this day they had the best focaccia that I have ever eaten and a hell of a lot better than the focaccia they have on offer at the new Donnini’s (now Ciao Italia at the Hilton), which is actually really crap.  I have to say that this focaccia at Martinelli’s is on par with that amazing focaccia from the old Donnini’s. Crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the side… It’s bloody superb and must try when you go there!

Garlic and Herb Focaccia with Garlic Oil, Herb Butter and Rosemary Salt ($4.50 2 pcs or $9 a tray)

Garlic and Herb Focaccia with Garlic Oil, Herb Butter and Rosemary Salt ($4.50 2 pcs or $9 a tray) with the Chef’s Selection of Pickled Vegetables


Martinelli’s are currently running with a Spanish theme this month and I couldn’t go past the Smoked Reef Fish Escabeche, South Australian Mussels, Chorizo, Olive Tapenade, Romesco Sauce and Basil, served with Charred Lemon.  Pretty much what dreams are made of.

Despite me trying my best to convince MS to order the Melaleuca Smoked Beef Brisket, Housemade BBQ Sauce, Slaw and Mozzarella pizza – he went for the Potato and Sausage with White Reduction, Shaved Potato, Italian Sausage, Mozzarella and Provolone Dolce.  We ordered and waited at our table with baited breath for our pizza to arrive.

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Next to us, the bogans that had originally asked for round pizza were pretty much making love to their brisket pizza.  They were certainly enjoying themselves and it was pretty much like that scene in Where Harry Met Sally where Meg Ryan fakes an orgasm, except they weren’t faking.  It was clear to both MS and I that these two were now converted and they would never look at a round pizza the same again.  After they finished they thanked the chef profusely, vowed to return again and happily left just as our pizza’s arrived.  Not since the NRL Grand Final have I seen such a turnaround – not that I watch football.

A lovely older man with a thick Italian accent whom I can only assume was the chef’s father showed me how to squeeze the lemon over the top of my Spanish style pizza for full flavour effect.  We dug in.  The Romesco Sauce and the fresh Basil leaves on top of my pizza gave it the perfect sweet kick.  It was just divine and I don’t know what the hell the chef does to those pizza bases but wow.  MS loved his Potato and Sausage pizza but we both agreed that mine was the pick of the litter.

Smoked Reef Fish Escabeche, South Australian Mussels, Chorizo, Olive Tapenade, Romesco Sauce and Basil, served with Charred Lemon

Smoked Reef Fish Escabeche, South Australian Mussels, Chorizo, Olive Tapenade, Romesco Sauce and Basil, served with Charred Lemon


Potato and Sausage with White Reduction, Shaved Potato, Italian Sausage, Mozzarella and Provolone Dolce

Potato and Sausage with White Reduction, Shaved Potato, Italian Sausage, Mozzarella and Provolone Dolce

To top it all off we had a couple of pieces of freshly made Chocolate Cannoli to satisfy our sweet tooth before we pretty much rolled out of the store.  We were full as a goog.  The cannoli’s were not too little but not too big and the perfect was to top of our meal.

Chocolate Cannoli

Chocolate Cannoli

Without getting into the nitty gritty of the delicate flavours, textures of the meal because that’s just not how I roll I can highly recommend Martinelli Pizza Bar.  It’s seriously some of best pizza I have ever eaten and that Focaccia bread, well you will just have to see for yourself (just don’t forget that the Spanish theme runs until the end of October).  The pizza’s here take a little longer to cook and aren’t entirely cheap but if you want a round Domino’s pizza thrown together on a production line with absolutely no love then knock yourself out.  Martinelli Pizza Bar is where it’s at.

Martinelli Pizza Bar – Shop 2 11-13 Rabaul St, Trinity Beach QLD 4879 Ph: (07) 40575895.  Open Wed – Sun 12pm – 10pm.

Reserved On Grafton, Cairns

Yesterday I stopped into Reserved On Grafton for a bite to eat after seeing on Facebook that they just launched a new menu. I ordered the Poached Chicken, Avocado, Red Onion, Tomato, Yogurt, Rocket and Pickled Cucumber Baguette but Quesadilla style while MS had the Muffalatta Baguette (as a Quesadilla) with Cured Meats, Cheese, Olives and a few more ingredients I can’t remember off the top of my head as well as a Mango Storm Smoothie with Mango, Banana and Vanilla Yogurt (AU$7.90).

Poached Chicken, Avocado, Red Onion, Tomato, Yogurt, Rocket and Pickled Cucumber - Quesadilla style

Poached Chicken, Avocado, Red Onion, Tomato, Yogurt, Rocket and Pickled Cucumber – Quesadilla style

Both MS and I were really impressed with the food and the service and couldn’t understand for the life of us while we were one of only two occupied tables in the whole place. The menu has some really fantastic options like the Tataki Beef Salad with Ginger and Garlic Marinated Beef, Sweet Potato, Wombok Salad and Spicy Ponzu Dressing (AU$13.90). I was very nearly swayed from my original option by the Reserved Salmon Salad with House Cured Salmon, Sweet Potatoes, Yogurt Dressing, Beans, Capers, Anchovies, Olives, Tomatoes and a Poached Egg with House Anchovy Relish (AU$16.90) .
MS and I spoke to the staff about why the cafe was so empty when we really enjoyed our lunch and apparently a few people have said that their food is a little too eclectic for their taste. Since when was options like quinoa, corn and jalapeño fritters and Reuben sandwiches too eclectic?

Corn and Jalapeno Fritters with Cured Salmon, Spiced Labne, Coconut Oil Dressing and a Runny Egg

Corn and Jalapeno Fritters with Cured Salmon, Spiced Labne, Coconut Oil Dressing and a Runny Egg

I personally think we should encourage these kinds of innovative menus along with the yummy food and friendly service. I’m sick of seeing the same old standard crap on menus. If you want boring food then go to the Coffee Club! Egg’s Benedict with Wilted Spinach and Smoked Salmon on a soft English Muffin – gimme a break! I’d rather Reserved’s version any day – Garlic Spicy Prawns, Beans, Polenta Cake and Poached Eggs with Coriander and Citrus Hollandaise. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ bout!

CairnsLife Magazine stole my photos without my permission

Great article in this month’s Cairns Life Magazine about Eato’s on Grafton Street. I’m pretty pissed that the Cairns Life thought it was acceptable to steal my photos and publish them as their own. These photos were featured on this blog in a review that I wrote about Eato’s Restaurant. I have stated on my website that all content is subject to copyright.

Once again Cairns Life Magazine has shown what a truly stellar and professional local publication they are! Apparently spell check is out of the question but copy and paste isn’t. In future I would prefer you ask me before using any of my content and I am still awaiting on an apology. Cairnslife

Eating Ourselves Stupid in the USA – Ess A Bagel, New York

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One cannot go to New York without eating a bagel – or several. In fact eating a bagel in New York (and everywhere else in the USA) became a daily ritual for us. One of the most famous places to get a bagel in New York is at Ess A Bagel which luckily enough wasn’t too far from our humble abode at the Waldorf Astoria. I’m not too sure how I heard about it but it was on my ‘must do’ list of places to eat at and we were not disappointed despite waiting in line for well over thirty minutes. The line up for the bagels was snaked through the store and out the front door (I had a video but the damn thing won’t upload).

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The bagel teams assembling the bagels at the front of the store were like a well oiled machine and there were so many different ingredients to get on your bagel including 18 different flavours of cream cheese with everything from raisin walnut cream cheese to jalapeno cream cheese to chocolate chip cream cheese.  The choices of what you could have on your bagel were literally endless, so much so that I found it a little overwhelming. I tend to stick with tradition and can’t go past the Lox (Smoked Salmon as we call it) with Cream Cheese and Capers.

Big shout-out to these super dooper bagel artists and all round awesome guys - Mad Rican and Gavin

Big shout-out to these super dooper bagel artists and all round awesome guys – Mad Rican and Gavin

Never had I heard of lox before and it took some secret Googling in the line to make sure that it was in fact Smoked Salmon. MS went for the cream cheese with turkey bacon option with extra cheese, another tried and true tradition for him because he’s a fatty. The bagels were so fresh out of the oven they were still steaming when our expert bagel maker Gavin and his buddy Mad Rican cut them open and yet some dumbasses in the customer line still wanted theirs toasted.  WTF?!

Mmmm delicious fresh bagels

Because American’s love variety  with their 18 flavours of cream cheese there are also 14 different types of bagel to choose from at Ess A Bagel.  You can get plain, sesame, poppy, salt, onion, garlic, oat bran, cinnamon raisin, 9-grain, pumpernickel, pumpernickel raisin, everything, whole wheat everything and bialy’s (a pastry/bagel type thing).

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Behold my Lox and Cream Cheese Poppy Seed Bagel

By the time Gavin was done there was that much cream cheese and lox on my bagel that it weighed half a pound!  That’s a whole lot of bagel!!!! It was without a doubt the best bagel we had on our trip, and we ate a sh*tload of bagels, much to the dismay of my size 9 jeans that I’m still having trouble fitting into 2 months later. It was warm, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside with the perfect blend of lox and cream cheese and you seriously can’t beat a poppy seed bagel.  Sadly for us though we went to go back another day and the line was even longer and we had a Broadway show to catch so we couldn’t hang around and I never got to go back for another *insert sad face*. One thing’s for sure though Ess A Bagel will be high on our priority list when we do return to NYC and it should definitely be on yours!

 

Eating Ourselves Stupid in the USA – Momofuku Noodle Bar, New York

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First opened in 2004 Momofuku Noodle Bar was one of the original restaurants on my ever-growing iPhone list of restaurants that I hope to visit in my life time (and yes I know iPhone hasn’t been around that long). Now one of 13 restaurants owned by David Chang, including one in Sydney Momofuku Seibo, Momofuku Noodle Bar is renowned for its signature pork buns and having the best ramen in New York.  Forget the ramen – we came for the pork buns.  Usually my skills of navigation are on point but this time around I led us in the exact wrong direction of where we wanted to go so we ended hailing a taxi to take us there.

When we arrived there was yet another large line – much to MS’ dismay because he was getting a little fed up with having to line up for food everywhere we went. In my defence all the good places I take him to are usually quite popular hence the hefty line up but I always assure him that it’s worth the wait.  For Pete’s sake if he hadn’t met me he would still be eating dinner at Cock N Bull on a regular basis, now he’s dining at trendy restaurants in New York that he knows nothing about and doesn’t care for either ha! I was well aware from reviews that it could take up to an hour to get a seat but I played it down to MS telling him that I read the wait was usually only about 15 minutes – what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. Inside the door it was hard to differentiate between exactly who’d had their name taken by the hostess and who was waiting to get their name taken by the hostess. Lucky for me a friendly local (surprisingly the only kind that we met in NY despite their gruff reputation) arrived straight after us and ushered me up to the front of the restaurant with him and within ten minutes MS and I were in!

*Goddammit!  Why didn’t I take more photos?!*

We took a seat near the end of a long communal table next to a group of three that were high up in the corporate sector of Starbucks. They had come together in Manhattan from various parts of the USA to inspect a few of the Starbucks stores and make sure things were up to scratch. MS and I ordered our meals and chatted to them about the terrible coffee that we had encountered on our trip so far with the worst of all being at bustling LAX diner LA Roadhouse Route 66 – the food was also terrible. We told them how Starbucks had become a beacon of light and hope on our six day road trip from Columbia, SC to New York City and that it was our ‘go to destination’ for a decent cup of coffee in the USA. Although he worked for Starbucks one of the men of the trio told us to go to Blue Bottle Coffee shop for a decent cup of coffee when we were in San Francisco much to the dislike of the other guy and girl in the group.

I’m 90% sure I saw that kid (now grown man) from Billy Elliot standing inconspicuously in the corner at Momofuku but either no one else recognised him or they are just so conditioned to seeing famous people in New York that no one gives a f*ck.  I pride myself on my uncanny ability to pick random D grade celebrities out of a crowd and know exactly what obscure movie they were in back in 1996.  Kind of like this one time back in 2007 when I served the kid from the 1st Jurassic Park movie at the Cairns airport. He’s been completely ‘not famous’ since starring in Jurassic Park except for a run with Meryl Streep down the Kootenai in The River Wild and man did he get ugly but I knew exactly who he was from the moment I spotted him.  A true talent that I could really go places with I’m sure.

Remember this guy from Jurassic Park?  Yeah I didn't think so.

Remember this guy from Jurassic Park? Yeah I didn’t think so.

The seating conditions at Momofuku are practically elbow to elbow and you have to shout to speak to the person you are dining with but despite how busy the restaurant was the kitchen was absolutely pumping out dishes and our bun entrée took no more than about 10 minutes to arrive. We had ordered two each of the Shitake Buns with Hoisin, Scallion and Cucumber (US$10 each) and two each of the Brisket Buns with Horseradish, Pickled Red Onion and Cucumber (US$12 each). The buns were actually quite filling and the Shitake Buns were a clear winner for both of us. Anything with Hoisin Sauce is normally a winner for me. MS enjoyed them so much that he ordered himself two more (he is a fatty though). Not long after we polished off our buns our bowls of ramen arrived.

Shitake at the front, Brisket at the back

Shitake at the front, Brisket at the back


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Shitake Buns with Hoisin, Scallion and Cucumber (US$10 each)

Momofuku’s signature ramen is your typical ramen with Pork Belly, Pork Shoulder and a Poached Egg (US$16) but they also have a yummy sounding Chilled Spicy Noodle on the menu with Sichuan Sausage, Spinach and Cashews, only thing is that it was a little too cold out to have chilled noodles. The hearty bowls of pork broth were huge and we struggled to finish them especially since we’d already had entrees. Purported by many to be the best ramen in all of New York City it certainly may well be because we didn’t have any other ramen to compare it to while we were there. The ramen at Momofuku Noodle Bar was delicious but, well, not to brag but MS and I were not that long ago eating ramen from some of the best ramen joints in Japan so our tastebuds have been a little spoiled of late.

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Momofuku Ramen with Pork Belly, Pork Shoulder and a Poached Egg (US$16)

In the end I think I had hyped the place up a little too much in my head but the buns alone were worth walking in the wrong direction for. I just looked at photos of the inside of the restaurant online and I didn’t even recognise it because when we went there were that many people there you couldn’t even make out the walls and furniture. Don’t let that deter you though. If the crowds are anything to go by then even after 11 years as one of the most popular eateries in New York City, Momofuku Noodle Bar has still go it.

Eating Ourselves Stupid in the USA – Chelsea Market, New York

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We ended up at Chelsea Market on the first afternoon after we arrived in New York from Philadelphia.  It had taken us (MS not me) about 2 hours to drive from Philly to our rental car drop off point in the middle of Manhattan.  Driving through New York was something that I had been nervous about for weeks leading up to the actual event but MS did an absolutely stellar job.  Not only was he met with absolute wall to wall traffic when we arrived in Manhattan after a long drive through the Lincoln Tunnel but he drove straight through tourist mecca Times Square and didn’t even get honked at once in our Corolla with Florida plates.  I was so proud, and extremely relieved!

They see me rollin, they hatin'.....

They see me rollin, they hatin’…..

Chelsea Market was somewhere that I had penned in to go and was close to the High Line – another famous New York attraction which is a disused railway line that has been turned into a public space.  It’s a pretty cool and popular place to walk along but the wind whipping through there was frigin freezing and we were a little unprepared in terms of winter gear so we didn’t stay too long.  Chelsea Market is open 7 days a week from 7am till 9pm.  Apparently it was known as one of the greatest food halls in the world so I was more than excited to check it out.  Despite the accolade of being one of the greatest food halls I found it to be one of the most disappointing food halls I have been to of late.  With only 35 food vendors I guess I was expecting a little bit more – that’s not to say that we didn’t eat anything there.

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One shop that stuck out to me was a busy place called Beyond Sushi – an all vegan sushi restaurant.  Now anyone that pays attention to my blog knows that I couldn’t give a rats a** about whether food is gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, vegan, paleo or whatever the hell other food trend is going on these days.  All I really care about is that it tastes good and Beyond Sushi more than delivered in the taste department!  If there’s one thing Westerner’s know how to do it’s take one of the oldest forms of traditional food and completely destroy it so it has little to no resemblance to traditional sushi.  Hey I’m all for tasty delicious sushi but if you have ever been to Japan sushi is a very different affair – they don’t even use avocado!

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I ordered a roll of the Spicy Mang with Black Rice, Avocado, Mango, English Cucumber and Spicy Veggie Sauce and the Pickle Me with Six Grain Rice with Gobo, Carrot, Pickled Daikon, Avocado and Carrot and Ginger Sauce.  I was blown away by the presentation and also the flavour these little rolls packed.  Even better was what I thought was a one off shop in Chelsea Market actually had a couple more shops scattered across New York which MS and I visited a few days later.

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Spicy Mang with Black Rice, Avocado, Mango, English Cucumber and Spicy Veggie Sauce (right) and the Pickle Me with Six Grain Rice with Gobo, Carrot, Pickled Daikon, Avocado and Carrot and Ginger Sauce

On our way out we spotted the Cull and Pistol Oyster Bar which looked like a fab place to sip vino and eat a plate of oysters (my favourite thing to do) but alas the wait to get in was well over 45 minutes so we didn’t hang around.  Instead MS had a soft shell beef brisket taco from the Los Taco’s No.1 stall which was bustling with people hungry for Mexican food and also managed to squeeze in a Nutella and Strawberry Crepe from Bar Suzette Creperie while I happily ate my non-traditional, super Westernised vegan sushi.

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There was a cool bakery called the Fat Witch, a Seafood Market called The Lobster Place that was full of Chinese but seemed a little pricey to me and even an Aussie inspired stall called Tuck Shop which served Australian meat pies, sausage rolls and strangely enough brussel sprouts and kale salads.  I don’t know it just seemed like half of the market was either closed or under construction to me.  Would I go back to Chelsea Market?  Probably not – for the distance we travelled to get there it just seemed a little tired, touristy and lacking of the kind of food we both wanted to eat.  If you’re headed to the Meatpacking District then sure, check it out but don’t make it your ultimate dinner destination like we did.

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