Urban Yoga, Surry Hills

Often when I’m holidays (the perks of being a school teacher), I go through little phases of inspiration and hope. Last week that little phase was yoga. Living in Sydney we are spoilt by options for yoga studios, although I think that makes it a little harder to narrow down which one’s you want to try. In some areas you can get a week free of yoga classes to test out the studio before you commit. To my dismay however, Sydney yoga seems to be in such high-demand that free classes just aren’t a thing. I really didn’t want to sign up to anything so I literally Googled away for what felt like forever, in the search for a free yoga class. That’s when I stumbled upon Urban Yoga – a chic yoga studio on Cleveland Street, Surry Hills. As soon as I clicked on their website I was drawn to the aesthetic of the place – modern, inviting, and definitely urban. I signed up for the 4.30pm Urban Base class that afternoon.

When I walked in the studio I was met by a staff member who showed me around the GORGEOUS studio – every detail had been thought of and I was immediately transported away from the hustle and bustle of Cleveland Street (and trying to find a park), to this amazing sanctuary of calmness. They offer you Green Tea to drink before and after class, and some super comfy lounges to laze on. Being as I was there 30 minutes before class (habits of a person who fears being late), I definitely made the most of it. I made a conscious effort to put my phone in my locker straight away so as to not be influenced by technology. It’s amazing how so often when we are by ourselves or we are waiting, that the tendency to go to social media or web browsing pops up. I wanted to avoid that and spend the next hour or so completely to myself. I sat in the room on my mat, nervous but also intrigued. I felt particularly nervous because I was there on my own. I know that sounds silly, but sometimes having a friend with you makes you feel a little more comfortable. Unfortunately my friend Sarah is away in the US at the moment, so I decided to go alone!

The yoga room is pretty dark. If I wasn’t a self-conscious newbie I probably would have chosen a mat close to the front where the instructors sits so that I could actually see! The screen behind the instructor takes up the whole back wall and during the class images of nature are projected to immerse you.

I will admit, I tend to go to yoga when I want to feel good and do something light. Urban Yoga is not that. It was INTENSE. Never mind the projected images of nature, I didn’t even have time to look at them, I was dripping in sweat. At one point in the class I felt like I couldn’t keep going, but it’s amazing what the fear of embarrassment will do to you. I’m so glad that I persisted because I have never felt better after a yoga session than I did after that class. My body felt like it had worked out, but also felt relaxed and light. The next day my abs felt tight and I was on a bit of a high. The great thing about Urban Yoga is that you get to relax your mind as yoga teaches you to do, but you also feel like you’ve accomplished a workout afterwards. The whole 60 minutes I was 100% focused on the task at hand. I was able to shut out all my worries and forget the outside world and really just give myself 60 minutes to do something good. For me, that has always been the appeal of yoga – to offer a moment of calmness in an otherwise hectic world.

The instructors at Urban Yoga were so lovely and moved around the room guiding you in to various poses and aiding you with your breathing and technique. During the final mediation they also come around with some essential oils and give you a little head massage.

Whether or not its yoga or something else, I really want to make an effort to give myself 60 minutes of ‘me’ time a week. I encourage you all to do the same.

Lis x

Australia’s Top 100 Restaurants 2016

It’s a very exciting day in the life of a food blogger when the Top 100 list gets published. Most people hang out waiting for Triple J’s Hottest 100 on Australia Day, but I hang out for the Foodie Hottest 100, aka the Australian Financial Review Top 100 Restaurants.

The winner this year goes to Attica in Victoria – yep, it’s definitely on my list!

Have a look at the Top 100 and let me know which one’s you’ve been to/hanging out to try! I love to make a tally of how many I’ve been too – trying to beat it every year is fun!

I know a lot of my readers are from overseas (particularly the USA – thanks everyone 🙂 ) – so think of this list as motivation to come have a holiday in the land Down Under!

Lis x

P.S My tally is 7 this year!

#1 – Attica, VIC

2    Brae, Birregurra VIC

3    Sepia NSW

4    Quay NSW

5    Ester NSW

6    Sixpenny NSW

7    Bennelong NSW

8    Rockpool est. 1989 NSW

9    Automata NSW

10    Franklin TAS

11    Mr Wong NSW

12    Bentley Restaurant & Bar NSW

13    The Bridge Room NSW

14    The Town Mouse VIC

15    Cumulus Inc. VIC

16    10 William St NSW

17    Flower Drum VIC

18    Cutler & Co VIC

19    LuMi Bar & Dining NSW

20    Supernormal VIC

21    Tipo 00 VIC

22    Tetsuya’s NSW

23    Minamishima VIC

24    MoVida, Melbourne VIC

25    Fratelli Paradiso NSW

26    Billy Kwong NSW

27    Biota Dining, Bowral NSW

28    Cafe Di Stasio VIC

29    LP’s Quality Meats NSW

30    Momofuku Seiobo NSW

31    Porteno NSW

32    Rockpool Bar & Grill, Sydney NSW

33    ACME NSW

34    Embla VIC

35    Vue de Monde VIC

36    Firedoor NSW

37    Dinner by Heston Blumenthal VIC

38    Chin Chin VIC

39    est. NSW

40    Marque NSW

41    The Apollo NSW

42    Lake House, Daylesford VIC

43    Oscillate Wildly NSW

44    Saint Crispin VIC

45    Guillaume, Sydney NSW

46    Fleet, Brunswick Heads NSW

47    Africola SA

48    Orana SA

49    Restaurant Amuse WA

50    Silvereye NSW

51    Pilu at Freshwater NSW

52    Moon Park NSW

53    France-Soir VIC

54    Lee Ho Fook VIC

55    Bar Louinhã VIC

56    Icebergs Dining Room & Bar NSW

57    Ormeggio at the Spit NSW

58    Estelle by Scott Pickett VIC

59    Rockpool Bar & Grill, Melbourne VIC

60    Golden Century NSW

61    Spice Temple, Sydney NSW

62    Sean’s Panaroma NSW

63    Cottage Point Inn NSW

64    Gerard’s Bistro QLD

65    The European VIC

66    Monopole NSW

67    Long Chim Perth WA

68    ARIA NSW

69    Provenance, Beechworth VIC

70    Coda VIC

71    Lalla Rookh WA

72    Yellow NSW

73    Luxembourg VIC

74    Wasabi Restaurant & Bar, Noosa Heads QLD

75    Master NSW

76    4Fourteen NSW

77    Clarke’s of North Beach WA

78    Esquire QLD

79    Muse Restaurant, Pokolbin NSW

80    Monster Kitchen and Bar ACT

81    Grossi Florentino Upstairs VIC

82    Cho Cho San NSW

83    The Long Apron, Montville QLD

84    The Press Club VIC

85    Lucio’s NSW

86    Ethos Eat Drink TAS

87    Anchovy VIC

88    Vasse Felix Restaurant, Cowaramup WA

89    Lume VIC

90    Tonka VIC

91    Mister Jennings VIC

92    Union Dining VIC

93    Igni, Geelong VIC

94    Sokyo NSW

95    Peel St SA

96    Hentley Farm, Seppeltsfield SA

97    Lau’s Family Kitchen VIC

98    Fino, Seppeltsfield SA

99    Epocha VIC

100    Il Bacaro VIC

Dcup Cafe & Thai, Sydney

I’m sitting here typing this as I look out over the Piazza in Rome, sipping some Vino and eating some pasta. Just kidding, I scheduled this bad boy before I left. But rest assured, I am in Italy as you read this and there will be blog posts from this great city coming soon!

Lex and I decided to be really lazy on Friday after work. I had an excuse for being lazy, I’d just finished Parent/Teacher Interviews and was two days away from taking the students to Italy! Every afternoon I drive past Dcup Cafe in Zetland. It is often busy with people and originally I thought it was a coffee shop. When I read the sign out front today I was intrigued by the name and was further intrigued by the fact it was a Cafe and Thai joint – this was a combination I had yet to come across! So when Lex felt like Thai food I suggested Dcup.

We used Menulog and I must say apart from the cool 5% off our first order, I would never use the service again. It took us about 15 minutes to place the order. I’m not sure if we were ordering at peak time or what it was, but I can’t be bothered going through the hassle again, especially on an empty stomach!

The service from Dcup was faultless though! And I must say I’m glad we have found a local Thai joint nearby. This is one place that Lex and I are a little divided on though. I thought the food was absolutely delicious. We ordered a Massamann Beef and a Chicken Green Curry. The Green Curry was packed with flavour and it reminded me in terms of the look and texture of a curry that Jamie Oliver has made. Lex on the other hand thought it was a bit watery and wasn’t overly impressed. I feel weird even writing this because normally we agree when it comes to food, but this blog needs to be authentic and it’s important to have the pros and cons I guess. In saying that though, Lex has said he would order from there again.

If you’ve read the ‘About’ section you’ll know that Lex and I have made a rule to not eat at the same restaurant more than once. Does getting takeaway from a restaurant count though…? Our rule has been followed, except for one tiny slip up – we went to Fratelli’s the other night. Whoops!

Lis x

The Mercantile, Sydney

Life has kicked in lately so I do apologise for my lack of blogs coming your way lately. To say I have been stressed would be an understatement. I’m glad I have my blog to balance out the craziness of the world sometimes. It has been a huge few weeks for me. I’ve been busy preparing for a work trip to Italy in a couple of weeks, I’ve moved closer to the city with Lex, and the school term is coming to its end which means marking! I have managed to fit in some foodie adventures though so my aim is to just keep on blogging…

Usually I’m in bed pretty early – yes I know that makes me seem old and somewhat lazy, but it’s just what I do. When Lex and I go out we normally get home at a reasonable time. However, we went out with Matt and Jade and for some reason, us girls felt like kicking on! And kick on we did at The Mercantile. In a redbrick building dating from 1914, this casual, Irish-style hotel is a 9-minute walk from Circular Quay train station, located in Sydney’s historic The Rocks. It’s a traditional Irish pub and when we walked in it had an Irish band playing and was FULL of atmosphere! The four of us snagged one of the last tables and sat in to the night watching the band and sipping on wine. Jade loves her Irish heritage and I can definitely see why. It was fun and festive and it wasn’t even St. Patricks Day!

I know you’re probably thinking this is a food blog and where’s the food? So I won’t disappoint. Jade and I ordered…a CHEESE board!! It consisted of a variety of cheeses including Castello creamy blue, double brie and waxed Cheshire, and was accompanied by Maggie Beers classic quince paste. The warm toasted turkish bread and lavosh chips were also a great addition.  It was amazing and everything a gal could want in life. Who doesn’t love cheese?

I hope you all had a lovely Easter if you celebrate, and managed to spent some quality time with your loved ones.

Lis x

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Noodle Hut, Sydney

Sunday was a bit of a disaster for Lex and I. We’d heard about these Figure 8 pools in the Royal National Park and thought we’d spend Valentine’s Day checking them out. We had been told it was about a 45 minute walk from the car to the pools so I came prepared with my Nikes and my swimwear underneath ready to jump in when we got there! It was a scorcher of a day in Sydney with temperatures reaching 37degrees – thankfully I packed a bottle of water. Our walk started off hopeful and like any other city dweller who finally finds themselves in touch with nature, we set off happily through the bush. I started reciting Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken when we came to a fork in the road. Of course Lex and I started heading to the left as we had a hunch the pools would be that way. Half an hour later we made it to the bottom of the cliff with no pools in sight. I saw a lifeguard tent along the sand (I was becoming delirious at this point and was convinced it was a mirage). Luckily the lifeguard was a real person, unluckily he told us the pools were in the opposite direction. I wish I was exaggerating when I say this but two and a half hours later and at 37degrees (my hair was wet with sweat), Lex and I still had not found the Figure 8 pools – we were literally lost in the bush! Absolute disaster. By the time we realised where they were we were so exhausted that we headed back up the cliff to the car. I’m sure I muttered lines like “I think I’m dying”, and “Lex I can’t do it anymore” along the way. The icing on the cake when we finally reached the car? A parking fine. Yep, we paid to get lost in the bush!

With all that exhaustion I insisted on eating the biggest lunch I could find and so we stopped in to Westfield Miranda and went to a cool place in the dining precinct called ‘Noodle Hut’. It felt so nice to just sit there in a chair, with a glass of water and a cool breeze. It’s funny how our perceptions of ‘heaven’ can change so easily based on our circumstances…

What we ordered:

Our waitress was lovely, she sat us down served us some water and even let us tweak the menu! We decided to order the Mixed Entree – two satay chicken skewers, two vegetarian spring rolls and two fish cakes. If you’ve read previous posts you’ll know that Lex is not a seafood fan so we asked the waitress if we could take out the fish cakes and add a couple of chicken skewers – she was more than happy to do this for us. The Mixed Entree was just $10.90 and quite a big serving so I thought this was incredibly reasonable. For mains Lex and I both decided to go with the ‘Make your own’ Noodles. We both chose the chicken with Thai Chilli Basil sauce. The only difference was that lex went with the Flat Noodles and I chose the Thin Egg Noodles. Normally I order Hokkien but I think I’ll go with the Thin Egg now. The meal was delicious. It was packed with freshly steamed veggies and the sauce had the perfect amount of spice. They also do takeaway – if I was a local this would be my go-to noodle joint. At just $42 I thought there was a great deal of value for our money and I would go back to Noodle Hut again.

Lis x

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Baccomatto Osteria, Sydney

For Valentine’s Day this year (well technically the night before Valentine’s Day), Lex and I decided to try out Baccomatto Osteria in Surry Hills. I had been looking forward to visiting all week as I had spent some time on their website and the photos were drool-worthy. We were happily greeted by the personable host and ushered to our table. The set up of Baccomatto is unique, elegant and modern. It serves upmarket Italian cuisine in a trendy, modern restaurant with a marble bar (gorgeous!) and a bustling vibe.

The great thing about the restaurant is that they have weekday specials, making it a perfect spot for locals to grab a bite to eat during the hustle and craziness of the working week. On Monday you can get a pasta and a glass of vino for only $20, and on Tuesdays they offer Fish and a glass of house wine for just $25! For more specials check out their website: http://www.baccomattoosteria.com.au/#!whatson/c1c9t

What we ordered:

I find it difficult to look past olives when they’re featured on the menu. In saying that though, they need to be fresh olives, not cooked. I asked the waitress who informed me the olives were “freshly marinated in garlic and herbs”. This statement alone was enough for me to make my decision for entree. The olives came in a small bowl on a wooden chopping board with a few pieces of lightly toasted bread – delicious! Of course Lex and I had been craving this meal for a whole week and a serving of olives just couldn’t possibly do! So we ordered the Meatballs with Tomato and Basil, as well as a side of the Zucchini Flowers stuffed with ricotta and basil. The meatballs were soooooo good, they were fresh, tasty and fell apart as soon as you stuck your fork in! The tomato sauce was also a winner – the waitress could tell we liked it, she offered to bring us more bread to scoop it up. As for the Zucchini Flowers, Lex is more of a fan and can’t resist them when he sees them on the menu – I don’t dislike them but they’re not my first choice. Lex and I agree that these Zucchini Flowers were too dry. They had breadcrumbs on the outside and they were a little difficult to eat because they were so dry. I would have liked a little more tomato sauce drizzled on top. Overall though, a good start to our dining experience at Baccomatto.

For mains I ordered the Pappardelle with Duck Ragu. Admittedly I’ve never had duck ragu, normally I have my pappardelle with beef. Even though I’m not sure duck is my meat of choice, the pasta was still delicious. Lex also had a few spoonfuls and thought it was great. I actually pointed out to him afterwards that I didn’t even think of adding salt or chilli – a sign that the pasta was beautiful as it was. Lex decided to order the special – porchetta, pork belly with cracking. He also got the sautéed greens as a side. I had a bite and it was almost too good to be true. Although Lex did say he would have liked some sauce to go with the pork belly – apple sauce maybe? I should mention as well that we ordered 500ml of the house red to go with our meals. We always order the house red at Fratelli’s so thought it was worth a try. However in Lex’s words, “it’s not the best house wine we’ve had”.

Baccomatto Osteria is a trendy restuarant, there’s no denying that. I loved being there. I loved the service. The crowd. The decor. The food. I really couldn’t have asked for more. It’s finding little neighbourhood gems like this that make me realise how much is out there. We’re so lucky to live in a city like Sydney that offers us such an extensive variety of food at our fingertips.

Lis x

Frangos, Sydney

When I mentioned to Lex that I hadn’t written a blog post about ‘Frangos’, he was really shocked and I think a little disappointed…Lex loves Frangos. We’ve actually been together a few times and Lex has also been with friends from work. My first official taste of Frangos was with Jade – we had to stay back late for work and Jade suggested we get some takeaway – it was delicious! Since then Lex and I have been a few times to the Smithfield and Petersham locations.

Locations:

  • Smithfield
  • Petersham
  • Bella Vista

Frangos is an incredibly popular Portuguese charcoal chicken restaurant. So popular is it that when it closed temporarily over Christmas, there were lines down the street on the reopening of the Petersham store! They serve skewers, whole chicken, lamb, burgers, and an extensive range of sides including seasonal salads and their famous fries! The fires are flat potatoes that are crispy and light. Frangos also has a pretty impressive reputation and has featured in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide, as well as in Sydney’s Top 10 Burgers. However, what earns them a loyal (and growing) customer base, is their dedication to food and cooking, as well as their age-old techniques and family recipes.

OUR RECIPES HAVE BEEN PASSED DOWN THROUGH GENERATIONS, BLENDING THE SPICES OF OUR ANCESTORS IN ANGOLA AND THE TRADITIONAL CHARCOAL TECHNIQUES FROM PORTUGAL. OPENED IN 1992, IN THE HEART OF THE PORTUGUESE CAPITAL OF SYDNEY (PETERSHAM), THE FERNANDES FAMILY CONTINUE TO OWN AND OPERATE THEIR RESTAURANTS WITH THE SAME PRIDE AND PASSION FOR FOOD.

What we ordered:

Lex and I have had two distinctly memorable experiences at Frangos. Ordinarily we ordered separate meals (usually chicken and salad), however the best two times we’ve been was when we ordered the Espetada skewered meats to share. The first time we ordered the Chicken – this was the best chicken I think I might have ever tasted (that was until I went to Locanda Verde!). It had the perfect amount of salt and seasoning. Absolutely delicious. The second time we ordered the skewers was when we went to the Petersham restaurant (this has more of a dine-in section than Smithfield and the service is better). Here we ordered the Beef – I don’t even know if I can describe it apart from telling you that it’s virtually indescribable and you just need to get yourself to Frangos NOW (after you finish reading my blog…). All the skewered meats are marinated in Frangos special sauce – kind of like their secret recipe sauce that none knows exactly what it is and therefore can’t make it themselves! I wish I knew exactly what they marinate their meat in and how, it would change family BBQs forever. The skewers are cooked to order so you do have to wait a while, but the wait is worth it to get fresh meat. One skewer is enough for two (from memory Lex and I had four pieces each), and there is a piece of bread underneath the skewer soaking up all the sauce. We also ordered a Greek salad to go with it – unfortunately the Greek salad differs between restaurants and the Smithfield one is a lot better than Petersham.

Unfortunately due to our new rule of not visiting the same place more than once, Lex and I won’t be visiting Frangos again in the near future…although, we’ve never been to the Bella Vista location…?

Lis x

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Good Food. Frango at Bella Vista.                Photo: Edwina Pickles.

 

The Italian Kitchen, Sydney

I visited ‘The Italian Kitchen’ in Miranda with family after coming home from NY. Mum and I were wandering around the new dining precinct at Westfield’s Miranda having no idea what we should eat. It was lunch time so we thought something light and healthy might be a good idea. All that changed when we laid eyes on ‘The Italian Kitchen’. It was a beautifully presented airy restaurant, with hints of timeless Italian decor (such as the serving plates!). It is also opened for lunch and dinner 7 days a week, with takeaway now available! As we sat down for lunch after some intense shopping, we were in awe of the surroundings. They really have made this friendly on the eye. The restaurant was also buzzing and had a great, happy energy about it.

What we ordered:

I caught a glimpse of the bruschetta passing by our table and told my Mum and cousin that we were getting a serving, no excuses! To our delight the bruschetta was absolutely delicious. It was almost as if they had bought their tomatoes from Italy – they were full of flavour and they were all over the plate so you could scoop up a few extra spoonfuls! Unfortunately our mains were underwhelming. Mum and I chose the Ravioli which was stuffed with four cheeses, spinach and parmesan, with fresh basil on the top. It wasn’t the worst Ravioli I’ve ever had, but it was just a little bland and unexciting. After the bruschetta I think we had such high hopes for the mains and they didn’t eventuate. My cousin chose the Gnocchi with pumpkin, sage, parmesan and amaretti. I was actually going to order the gnocchi but changed my mind at the last minute. My cousin was underwhelmed also. She was a little bored with the dish and said the pumpkin flavours were not strong enough.

With all that said though, ‘The Italian Kitchen’ is a fun and casual place for a meal and great for groups. Would I go back? Probably not. In saying that though I would love to go to more restaurants with such beautiful decor and friendly vibes.

Lis x

Valentine’s Day Dinner

I’ve found that Valentine’s Day divides most people. Some call it a ‘Hallmark Holiday’ and others will take any opportunity they can for a bit of romance. I fall into the latter category. I LOVE Valentine’s Day and with the holiday approaching (this weekend!), I thought I’d come up with a list of restaurants in Sydney you can take your special someone to. Lex and I are trying out a restaurant we’ve never been to before in Surry Hills – here’s hoping the gamble pays off! Yelp have just released their Top 100 places in Australia to eat for 2016 so some of the suggestions below are from that list, although I found I wasn’t overly impressed with the list so I’ve added in some of my own 🙂 Let me know what your plans for the big day are in the comments 🙂

  • Din Tai Fung – Two words: Asian dumplings
  • Mary’s – Craft beer and burgers in a rustic bar with timber decor, a mezzanine and a rock ‘n’ roll vibe – perfect for that couple who only just started dating but feel obliged to celebrate Valentine’s Day
  • The Governors Table – Sleek eatery with cosy banquettes, serving gourmet bar bites and creative Modern Australian mains
  • Via Napoli – Has won an award for best pizza in Sydney!
  • Glasshouse Brasserie – Upscale Modern Australian menu by chef Luke Mangan, served in a grand dining space – a sure way to impress your Valentine!
  • Quay – Innovative Modern Australian menu in a chic room overlooking the Opera House. If location is important then Quay is a must
  • Sud – Southern Italian street food turned out in a cool, industrial-chic diner with a scooter wall mural
  • Rockpool – Fine Modern Australian cuisine with decor that screams elegance
  • The Bridge Room – Set in a cool 1930s building with an open kitchen
  • Aria restaurant – Aussies love chef Matt Moran and his glass-walled establishment will be a winner with your love
  • Tetsuya’s – French-Asian cuisine, interesting!
  • Cafe Sydney – A rooftop restaurant with sweeping views of our beautiful Sydney
  • Est. – Take your Valentine to the closest place to the city of love as possible in Sydney. Est. is an upscale French fusion restaurant by renowned chef Peter Doyle

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Lis x

P.S these restaurants are totally perfect to go on non-dates as well. Celebrate you! 🙂

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