Mexican

Take 2: My Food Bag- Healthy Recipes‎ Made at Home

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What a surprise we are halfway through winter. With this cold season making feel a little insecure about my eating habits, we’ve become attached to My Food Bag, so that we can ease our way through to eating healthy again and reminding ourselves that there’s FRESH fruit and vegetables options for when we cook at home. 

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That healthy rainbow spread right at your door step.

There has been some recent improvements that My Food Bag product and experience made. 

New Monday AM delivery time – Enjoy delivery while you sleep! My Food Bag now offers their foodies the added convenience of a NEW delivery window, Monday 2:00am – 7:00am. Win back your weekend and wake up to a delivery on your doorstep! It’s all part of continuing to offer a convenient service to suit the busy lives of their foodies.

New planet-friendly packaging – My Food Bag is committed to delivering their foodies only the freshest seasonal produce available, in packaging which is planet-friendly. They’re now delivering the goodness in their 100% recyclable Chilltainers and Brown Paper Boxes, all kept cool by their new recyclable ice bricks. This new packaging has replaced their traditional bags to continue to ensure the best quality delivery service.

New suppliers – My Food Bag has teamed up with a number of new local suppliers to continue to bring their foodies only the best! While of course remaining free-range, organic and sustainably sourced (wherever possible)

Reduced recipe times – A team of nutritionists and dietitians have been working hard to reduce their recipe preparation time, while retaining variation and a healthy balance of ingredients

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No kidding about freshest local Australian produce, meat and fish.

Let’s experience first-hand the following changes… 🙂 Excited (*Insert* happy dance)

Now let’s start with delivery…I must say My Food Bag does keep you informed through email and text, even days before your order, so that you are aware your groceries are coming. Thumb up for that top quality service. Whilst I was in bed dreaming about the things I’m going to cook for that week I did receive 2 alerts on my phone; one for when they deliver and the other saying my groceries are in front of my door.

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Delivery came on time just before I head to work. Many ticks for that!

Unpacked my goodies around 8am and they were still nice and chilled. I could smell all the ingredients even before I had opened the brown box. Now that’s another thumb up for quality food supplies.

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Didn’t need to waste time hitting the markets to find fresh meat. Thumbs up for that effort!

I dare you to take a peek at the latest scrumdiddlyumptious creations from Nadia Lim and her team for easy recipes cooked in your very own kitchen.

Day 1: MEXICAN FISH & SWEET POTATO NACHO BOWLS

Taste: An old-fashioned favorite made with the freshest of ingredients. Enjoyed tasting the blend of vegetables with the marinated spice mix fish. It seriously was fresh from the fields to my dinner table. My tastebuds could separately taste the cubes fresh fish and veggies. The only thing that bugged me was my sweet potato wasn’t cooked as I followed the recipe. Other than that this was an earth friendly meal.

Verdict: Let’s taco bout this recipe baby, it felt like a fun Friday night meal that was super perfect for my boring Monday night in. I spiced up my nacho bowls with edible Old El Paso Stand ‘n Stuff soft tortilla bowls instead of using the suggested homeware bowls. I mean life is easier when everything is edible, right? Muahahaha. Saved myself from cleaning more dishes by adding my own idea to this dish and yes I was completely stuffed with two nacho bowls.

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There’s something fishy about this dinner…haha.

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Mexican Fish & Sweet Potato Nacho Bowls

Day 2: PARMESAN & BASIL CHICKEN WITH LEMON POTATOES & CHARRED GREENS

Taste: Might I say fresh, generous, and prepared to perfection, this chicken stuffed with parmesan and basil will leave you wanting more. I was stunned that I made this all by myself. It truly had extraordinary flavours that I never knew it was possible. Don’t normally eat chicken breasts because it always turns out dry for me whenever I cook it, but nope not these breasts. Super juicy because of the parmesan. Loved the fragrant of the basil, garlic and red onion whilst it was cooking in the oven. Gold medal for the rich and hearty flavour.

Verdict: I’m really not sure what to say because I have never been in this kind of situation before, but HEAVENS YES I’d make this again, any day. First time stuffing these breasts with an intriguing filling that I could not have imagined. A delicious and easy-to-prepare chicken breasts that makes a great presentation and fills up any big stomach. Felt guilty (NOT) eating parmesan for a Tuesday night but when it’s mixed with red onion, basil and garlic, you know you have to let the guilty card slide. Thank the veggie gods for arriving on time to balance this meal. So far so good! I think this has become my signature dish for when friends come over to eat.

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There’s there’s THERE’S parmesan in this dish 😀

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This is new for me…parmesan, basil, garlic, lemon and red onion mixed together…

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 Using toothpicks for this recipe. Don’t pick on my breasts! Haha

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Just winged it. Teeheehee.

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Parmesan & Basil Chicken with Lemon Potatoes & Charred Greens

Day 3: GARAM MASALSA BEEF WITH MUSHROOMS RAGOUT SPINCH & FLATBREADS

Taste: Sadly this dish was my least favourite (insert sad face) because it didn’t blend so well together. I wasn’t a huge fan of the sourness taste of the tomato base dish, then moving on to the creamy mayo flavour from the spinach and finally the garam masala beef strips. Don’t get me wrong, all 3 dishes had a full burst of flavour, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. On a much happier note I enjoyed dipping my Lebanese slice bread into the mushroom ragout.

Verdict: It’s a great destination meal for those who heart mushroom and cherry tomatoes. Would suggest to substitute the spinach with cos lettuce so it would marry so well with the garam masala beef strips. I had plenty of leftovers and decided to mix the mushroom ragout with brown rice and as for the gram masalsa beef it turned out to be a kebab using the bread and adding with spinach.

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Garam Masalsa Beef with Mushrooms Ragout Spinch & Flatbreads

Day 4: LAMB LEG STEAKS WITH CORIANDER PESTO LEMON KALE & RICE

Taste: Silver medal for this dish as there was no game smell of the lamb and who knew you could cook kale. I was shocked you could mix lamb with sweet chilli sauce. It was a great steak that was so juicy that you accidentally bursted the water pipe…well almost. Loved the subtle hints of sweet, chilli from the lamb and as for the kale…OH MY! Incredible flavour that I wished I found this sooner. As for the rice I totally forgot about that being there because I was so distracted by that lamb leg and veggies.

Verdict: I am very like VERY sensitive to wanting to cook lamb  in my own kitchen and eating kale during dinner time because both don’t mix so well in my books, but I was wrong. A winning pair of kale and lamb leg bursted intense flavors and alluring aromas. Loved the serving of solider carrots and mountains of kale.

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There’s lamb leg and kale on the menu…first time cooking these ingredients.

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Lamb Leg Steaks with Coriander Pesto Lemon Kale & Rice

Day 5: BACON & ZUCCHINI RISOTTO WITH PEAR & PARMESAN SALAD

Taste: This dish didn’t go bacon my heart…thank the food gods, instead it was warming my heart. This risotto covered in a decadent creamy texture and dusted with parmesan made me lick my plate clean. A healthy pile of greens with the added pear fruit as a side salad offered a bright crunch when paired with the risotto.

Verdict: I must say I’m surprised with this recipe. Risotto is something I don’t normally whip up in the kitchen because rice doesn’t cook properly, but it turned out very smooth and creamy.  As for a salad that has slices of pear in it, impressive. I do like pear salad now, thanks to My Food Bag!

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It’s so hot inside, I’m bacon!

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Bacon & Zucchini Risotto with Pear & Parmesan Salad

Thoughts about My Food Bag

Regards to the following changes that was mentioned at the beginning of this post, let’s see if it approved on the Nessy Eater radar.

  1. Delivery time – Spot on with timing and they text you before and after to confirm delivery to your home 
  2. Packaging – Can’t blame if it’s recyclable and helping the environment 
  3. Food Products – Still impressed with the high quality and fresh ingredients. I’m still intrigued with lamb leg steaks! YUM! 
  4. Reduced recipe times – 4 out of 5 recipes was super easy to assemble as it only required chopping and assembling the ingredients into one pot, so yes it did reduce 5-15 minutes. 

Other notes

  • My Food Bag menus use only fresh seasonal produce, so there’s nothing frozen and they choose free-range and sustainably farmed products
  • Nutritionally balanced meals for all 5 nights
  • Read more here

When it comes to purchasing a week’s worth of groceries, it’s frightening to try new things for example purchasing new meat parts, spices or vegetables because it’s very costly and it takes so much of your time thinking about what to make out of it, but with My Food Bag they’ve done the dirty work for you.

Overall my view on My Food Bag hasn’t changed even for my previous review. My Food Bag does an excellent job with providing fresh ingredients and delicious recipes that can cater for those who cannot cook (that’s me).

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Photos by Vanny Tang

Disclaimer: Nessy Eater received a trial of My Food Bag-Classic, thanks to My Food Bag.

Opinions are however, Nessy Eater’s own.

Check out other My Food Bag post I did. Click here.

Like to know more about Nessy Eater food adventures?

Follow Nessy Eater on Instagram / Facebook / Twitter or feel free to leave a YUMMY comment 😀

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Flew over to Cuckoo Callay’s Summer Nest

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Hello foodie friends!!! 😀 😀 😀

Some of you may or may not have noticed I haven’t been posting any of my food adventures on Nessy Eater Blog for the past month. I sincerely apologise. I’ve been receiving emails and been asked “Where is Nessy Eater?” or “When is Nessy Eater next posting?” Thank you for your concerns, we are gradually returning soon. Having Nessy Eater is almost as important as knowing my house keys are in my pocket, so FYI I won’t be leaving this blog anytime soon. Moving on I hope you brought your appetite along because this post has got a feast in store. Don’t panic if your belt has burst along the way, I’m sure somewhere down the road you’ll find it.

Man, it’s no secret that I lost the plot at Cuckoo Callay earlier this year and to be honest I lost the plot again, but this time a four legged creature had to join the party and witness my reaction as well. It is incredible this Modern Australian café in Newtown has gotten so much attention. Not because it is seconds away from Newtown Station, but their brunch menu has gotten people talking about it. Their trendy menu is proven to be unique for a lot of foodie friends, especially the #Hashtag Brown and with good reason Cuckoo Callay has decided to welcome the #Hashtag Browns 2.0.

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Cat fight started when the Salted Caramel Milkshake ($7) arrived looking super adorable in their coloured glass milk bottle. It was quickly demolished before our feast began. This salted caramel beverage will knock your socks off with a magical sweetness that is not overwhelming and it tastes indulgent with that subtle hint of saltiness.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (1)Salted Caramel Milkshake ($7) (Note: This is not the actual serving size.)

If you’re feeling a little bit cheeky during brunch hour, then Cuckoo Callay has got you covered with their cuckootails menu. The Bloody Cuckoo ($12) contains Vodka, tomato juice, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce and heavily garnished with slices of pickles, green olive and a strand of fresh celery. Now that girlfriend is how you kick start the day!

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (2)Bloody Cuckoo ($12)

Birdy Nom Nom (vegan) ($15) owned the stage when it arrived looking super healthy. Jam packed with coconut quinoa that looked like pearls of sago and date bircher, I think this is the simplest, yet most delicious and nutritious way to start the day. It’s also served with chunks of fresh mango and house made blood orange marmalade that totally looked like slices of red capsicum. The texture of this dish turns out light and chewy, however it leans towards a creamy like porridge consistency. The flavour of the coconut quinoa seduced me good…real good. It is a very super earthy dish for those who like it all natural.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (3)Birdy Nom Nom (vegan) ($15)

When I was a child, I remember fairy tales had happy endings and for Cinderella’s story if she didn’t leave the party before midnight, her carriage would turn back into a pumpkin. Well that’s just one side of the story, whereas Cuckoo Callay can argue Cinderella had to leave before midnight because she needed to prepare Cinderella’s Breakfast ($17) the next morning for Newtown commuters. Don’t expect the pumpkin to turn into a carriage as it will only be served as pumpkin fritters with house cured salmon, poached egg, house made basil pesto and fresh heirloom tomatoes. The fritter was bursting with intense flavours and alluring aromas of pumpkin scattered around Newtown station. You’ll lick your plate clean when you continue devouring the salmon and poached egg that had a sensational gooey texture. You won’t be able to resist not ordering this dish for summer because who isn’t a big fan of Cinderella? The only downfall about this dish is they didn’t offer a glass slipper…I really wanted to know if I was right for Prince Charming…Oh well! Maybe next time. Haha 😛

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (4)Cinderella’s Breakfast ($17)

If you have ever looked at an egg and thought, “HOT DAAMN chook, that looks good,” you should know that you are not alone my friend.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (5)Cinderella’s egg porn

Cuckoo Callay also have an extensive menu for the pets and their most popular pick is the pupachino ($3) that contain goat’s milk. We asked Ziggi to test it out for us and his response “I Woof-ing love it!”.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (6)Woof Woof Pet’s Menu at Cuckoo Callay

There were a lot of puparazzi watching Ziggi express his love for his pupachino. It’s impawsible not to grin when you see this furpaw dig his face into his beverage.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (7)Ziggi enjoying his Pupachino ($3)

My little foodie wildling came out when the Bubbles that Squeak ($18) arrived at our table. The bubble and squeak pattie tastes very much like mashed potato. The outside is almost a lovely golden brown, maybe just a bit over the golden colour but I avoided judging a book by its cover because it turned out amazingly delicious. The smell made it even more desirable to eat with the inside being it all spaghetti cabbage. EHRMAGHERD!!! And if you thought that pattie was good in your books…wait till you try their duck sausage served with house made chilli chutney and a poached egg. It’s not a party until the sausage comes out. From the first bite you’d know the sausage uses premium ingredients as it had its own flavours. It felt like meat candy to me because I may have had a few more slices than others…

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (8)Bubbles that Squeak ($18)

It was nice to meat you Black Forest Smokehouse duck sausage. I hope to see you again soon so we can catchup with the poached egg. Yes, it’s another one of those Instagram worthy videos of egg porn.

I thought it was fun to see a butterfly presentation in the Speedy Gonzalez ($18) or perhaps I was imaging things. Back to planet Earth and this dish includes two breakfast burritos with sliced chorizo, turtle bean relish, fried eggs, marinated avocado and sour cream & chive dressing. Now if that’s too hot for you to handle then Ziggi is more than happy to help you demolish the entire dish.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (9)Speedy Gonzalez ($18)

Oh no! I maybe now facing a prison sentence for showing you too much egg porn. For now I better end this egg porn business here and at an appropriate time show you some more soon.

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What also grabbed Ziggi’s attention and mine was the pupples ($2) served in a pink sterling silver bowl. I think when someone mentioned to me about the pupples biscuit I may have raised my hand for one. Excuse me while I woof-it-out with Ziggi…

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (11)Pupples ($2)

Can confirm Ziggi enjoyed his treats and got table service too. Now that is showing commitment to pets and pet owners. I give an extra brown point to Cuckoo Callay for that!

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (12)What did Ziggi think about those pupples? He said “I WOOF it!” 

Mary Had a Little Lamb lends itself to parody very well with one of Cuckoo Callay’s lamb dish- Beeting the Sheep ($19). This Lebanese inspired dish has got full flavours of Lebanese spices. It’s the curiosity that makes me want to know more about Mary’s little lamb. This dish includes slow cooked lamb in pastry served with goat’s curd, toasted pine nuts, pickled beetroot, radish and snow-pea tendrils salad. Embrace the madness of this lamb because not only is it tender but it’s quite homey and comforting. With the added crispy paper thin pastry, I was thoroughly entertained by this dish. The curd, nuts, relish and salad fit so well together that this dish was flawless.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (13)Beeting the Sheep ($19)

Was this the Best.Chips.Ever ($9)? Errrrr….well….err…I thought otherwise. I think it was the Best.Presenation.Ever because each chippie was MASSIVE, like MASSIVE! To compare the length of those chips, I’d say it’s the size of a highlighter but longer. Please note: there’s nothing sexual about this. No sexual connotation was involved! Teehee. Besides the length, the chips turned out to be not as crunchy as I pictured in my head, however the flavours were there.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (14)Best.Chips.Ever ($9)

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (15)Look at the size of this thang?!

Laughter is the best medicine, so is the Dr Salmon ($19) if you have a salmon fetish. This dish really has become one of my all time favourite. It consists of citrus cured salmon, black quinoa, avocado, fennel, blood orange, French radish and snow-pea tendrils with a lime and ginger dressing. The salmon had a refreshing citrus flavour and a pleasing red colour. Not only is this dish healthy but extremely versatile for summer brunch.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (16)Dr Salmon ($19)

I want to see you again Mother Ducker ($22) because I didn’t think it was physically possible for me to eat the green lentils, shallots and shaved asparagus all in the one plate. You should have seen the look of my eyes when the plate had vanished from my table. I was also blown away by the savoury pulled duck and poached egg with chilli jam. I really wanted to eat the desired amount however it wouldn’t be lady like of me…maybe next time.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (17)Mother Ducker ($22)

Do you want to build a Snowman in Summer ($16)? If you desire salad for lunch then this won’t disappoint your tastebuds. Generously served with marinated Dutch carrot salad with blanched kale, avocado, toasted pepitas and lemon yogurt dressing.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (18)Snowman in Summer ($16) 

There’s nothing more refreshing than a glass of Homemade Lemonade ($5) on a warm day during summer.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (19)Homemade Lemonade ($5)

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (20)Quirky interior design at Cuckoo Callay

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (21)Could Ziggi be the next Dogue model? This little fellow is such a poser!

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (22)Espresso with milk ($3.50)

For those with a sweet tooth the Berets, Stars & Stripes ($15) is the perfect  finish to a meal. This brioche French toast includes maple bacon, peanut caramel, whipped ricotta, cornflakes and maple syrup. I believe this will be another Instagram worthy dish that must be shared. The brioche is quite a flaky, buttery crust that crumbles just as you bite into it. As for that juicy strip of maple meat, well it was BACON ME CRAZY, even after I left the cafe. Overall owners Ella and Ibby have got my attention once again. They’ve transformed ordinary breakfast and lunch to something that’s Alice and Wonderland for Nessy Eater Girl. It is truly a cafe you wouldn’t want to miss in Newtown.

Cuckoo Callay Summer Menu_Nessy Eater (23)Berets, Stars & Stripes ($15)

Photos by Vanny Tang

Disclaimer: Nessy Eater attended as a guest thanks to Wasamedia. Opinions are however, Nessy Eater’s own.

Check out my other Cuckoo Callay post I did. Click here.

Like to know more about Nessy Eater food adventures?

You can follow Nessy Eater on Instagram / Facebook / Twitter or feel free to leave a YUMMY comment 😀

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Onyx Lounge- Newtown Stations Secret Cocktail Life

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Don’t feel guilty about going straight to the bar and ordering endless amounts of cocktail, tapas and dessert at Onyx Lounge, near Newtown Station. This romantic bar specialises in adults only drinks and has over 120 cocktails you can choose from, from their menu. Yes, this bar allows you to create your own mini tapas party for the evening with the choice of share plates, mains, pizza and burgers. Seconds from Cuckoo Callay, this newish bar is surprisingly gorgeous and hidden upstairs. Keep an eye out for the Onyx sign on King Street, Newtown.

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 You can easily spot Onyx with this sign.

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 Speechless when I first walked in.

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 Deciding what to eat at Onyx.

I love the look of the swanky Fairyfloss cocktail ($16.90). This beverage is without doubt a girly drink because it’s so hard to hide behind the curtains with the contagious colour of pink. A large pile of fairyfloss was swimming in vodka and strawberry coulis.

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 Fairyfloss cocktail ($16.90)

If no one orders this Blue Galactic cocktail ($16.90) then you need to move to another galaxy. The idea of bringing vodka, blue curacao, lemon, and berry coulis is brilliant. It is possible to believe we didn’t order another one because it was the most desirable cocktail for the evening.

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 Blue Galactic cocktail ($16.90) 

We cheated a little with the Quesadilla Chicken ($14), conning our way by chucking a few slices of chorizo. However the marinated chicken strips, mozzarella cheese on a flour tortilla served with avocado dipping sauce seriously knows how to knock your face with burst of flavours.

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 Quesadilla Chicken ($14)

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 That close-up!

Remember to look carefully at the Chorizo and Potato ($14) as it was a bit of a roller-coaster of flavour and fun with Spanish pork chorizo slices, chat potato chunks in an oven roasted roma tomato and smokey chipotle chilli jam. I found the chorizo to be very tasty as it literally brings the heat to this dish. I was challenged to go fire walking with the tomato and chipotle chilli jam.

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Chorizo and Potato ($14) 

It is compulsory to order the Deep Fried Tasmanian Heritage Brie ($10). The cranberry sauce brings the best out of the fried brie. It’s kind of like a stepping stone of new flavours. This dish brought a confident smile out of me. Under enormous pressure from Almighty Princess, I ordered another one of these because our hearts couldn’t stop melting for these.

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 Deep Fried Tasmanian Heritage Brie ($10)

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You know how to make my heart melt fried brie ❤

Discover the Spicy Italian Meatballs ($16) as you attempt to give your tastebuds some character. There is no way you won’t connect with these meatballs because every bite full contains that extra heat to your body. The texture is faultless with a bouncy chewiness centre  with the splash of the homemade tomato sauce and shaved parmesan atop, it lets your tongue enter a whole new world. If you’re craving for some spice, better feed your intestines with this bowl of meatballs.

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 Spicy Italian Meatballs ($16) 

Back in the day I remember that fairy god mothers would sprinkle rainbows on my toast but when you’re 18+ the 100 & 1000s cocktail ($16.90) is the new way of seeing rainbows and butterflies. This cocktail contained vodka, triple sec, lime juice and cranberry juice. It goes down sweet with the extra colours.

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 100 & 1000s cocktail ($16.90)

Almighty Princess and I were set to order desserts, so it occurred to me that the Pistachio Ice-Cream ($10) appeared to look classic on their menu, so what we did best is order it. However, something about the presentation didn’t seem right. I felt like it didn’t have its own identity and it was chilling to see it look like this. But the scoop and half ice-cream had flavours of pistachio, fig & honey and buried undernealth berry coulis with fresh crushed pistachio nuts which made me ask for more.

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 Pistachio Ice-Cream ($10)

It’s hard not to love the Flaming Chocolate Tarte ($10) on a Friday night, especially if your dessert gives you a front-row seat to see it go on FIRE. Which mine did. I’m a sucker for the quirky tricks and creative spirit when a restaurant offers this kind of ingredient.

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 Flaming Chocolate Tarte ($10) 

This chocolate tarte is a really decadent and it’s so entertaining to witness my dessert in flames. The tart filling is an absolute delight and will make your your mouth water with semi-sweet chocolate, and sweet pastry. Add a spoonful of vanilla ice-cream to lighten the rich texture, but create a creamy flavour.

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Never thought I’d be happy that my dessert would go up in flames. 

There’s an array of flavours and textures in Onyx’s menu. For me though, the soul of the menu is in the cocktails and nibbles. From the minute I walked upstairs and noticed the fairy lights, my heart instantly skipped a beat. I naturally started thinking this place is a hot spot in every sense for Newtown with chilled, classy interior and cosy seats. Onyx Restaurant & Cocktail Bar is great for after work drinks and can easily turn it into a romantic date.

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Photos by Vanny Tang

Disclaimer: Nessy Eater attended as a guest with $100 voucher,  thanks to Onyx Restaurant & Cocktail Bar.

Opinions are however, Nessy Eater’s own.

Like to know more about Nessy Eater food adventures?

You can follow Nessy Eater on Instagram / Facebook / Twitter or feel free to leave a YUMMY comment 😀

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SoCal Sydney #Social Event, Neutral Bay

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For a Southern Californian-style restaurant, SoCal in Neutral Bay is the perfect spot to hang if you’re looking for a casual bar with a sunny rooftop that invites enjoyable nibbles and drink offerings that take inspiration from Mexico. The restaurant is in an unusual upstairs space in Neutral Bay, but the ambiance can’t help but make you want to relax. It was SoCal first ever Sydney #Social event for 20 food bloggers and it was an intimate sit-down dinner hosted by the fabulous Head Chef Zac Smart and Bar Manager Joe Worthington.

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Starting the night with some some Mexican.

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 Can you spot SoCal? A hidden bar restaurant.

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 Behind this door, there’s a party happening.

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 SoCal #Social Menu

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 I am liking this  bright wall look.

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 Well what do we have here? 😀

On arrival classic margarita cocktails were being served and Corn chips with Pico De Gallo, Guacamole and Salsas ($12). It’s a fun starter to share with a group of food blogger friends. The margarita sure doesn’t disappoint and instantly reminded me of summer.

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 Classic Margarita

For our course 1, Crab and Sopressatta Tostadas was personally delivered by Head Chef Zac Smart. The crisp tostadas shells are layered with finely chopped jalapeño, crab meats, sundried tomatoes, red onion and grated zest of lime. It’s quite a supreme version of modern-day nachos and makes the perfect appetizer as it is served individually.

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 Corn chips with Pico De Gallo, Guacamole and Salsas ($12)

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 SoCal Head Chef Zac Smart

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 Crab and Sopressatta Tostadas 

Before we devour this delicious bite-size tostadas, Joe Worthington performs a ‘Super Amazing Mystery’ interactive cocktail experience at his mini mobile bar. The demonstration contained a lot of vibrant colours, particularly orange, so it wasn’t so hard to guess what the main ingredient in this cocktail contained.

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 Bar Manager Joe Worthington

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 Super Amazing Mystery’ demonstration

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 How adorable is this?

Look who do we have here…Chicken Sliders (4 for $20) – We’ve got our eye on these heavily marinated chicken breast with avocado and chorizo mini buns. Bursting with intense flavours and alluring aromas, I am sure you’d want to use your hands to touch this glazed brioche bun that’s evenly sprinkled with sesame seeds. All the ingredients combined together taste exceptionally good, making it so tender and juicy in your mouth.

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 Chicken Sliders (4 for $20) 

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 Tempting, isn’t it? 

To pair with the sliders, the Frisco Pisco that contains Chili infused Pisco, egg white, elderflower liqueur, lime, sugar and muddled cucumber is a funky favourite of mine.

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 Frisco Pisco

We move onto our course 3, Seared Salmon ($20) with broccolini, chili and coriander salsa verde. A very pleasant and healthy plate for a protein choice dish. Though the salmon was slightly more seared like heading towards being fully cooked, however the magic off course is the flavour and that took center stage. As for a bed of green broccolini it offers a lovely crunch and to add flavour the salsa was spot on with flavour. If you closely examine, paper thin slices of sweet potato chips made this main even delightful. This main dish matched with Dry Creek, Fume Blanc, Sonoma CA.

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 Seared Salmon ($20) 

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 Dry Creek, Fume Blanc 2009, Sonoma CA

There are plenty of share plates at SoCal and for course 4 –Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder ($22) with faro, freekeh, quinoa and kale, you’d be blown away on how utterly delicious this dish is. What makes the meat juicy and succulent is the cooking time. It seems like there are many steps to this dish as the quinoa has a long-lasting flavour and I may have snuck in seconds and possibly thirds. With a matched wine to go with was the Bliss Pinot Nior, Mendocino CA.

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 Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder ($22)

 

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 Bliss Pinot Nior 2010, Mendocino CA

For our final savoury main, course 5, we were served with Scotch Fillet ($24) with Chimmichurri. Kids, this fillet was seasoned and cooked to perfection for the medium rare fans. It was a sensational dish that kept please the meat lovers. You’ll savor every bite with matched wine with Dry Creek ‘Heritage’ Zinfandel, Sonoma CA. With a spread of chimmichuri, the texture complemented the beef so well. A slice of lemon is optional for those who like to enjoy that extra zesty kick to the dish.

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 Scotch Fillet ($24) 

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Dry Creek ‘Heritage’ Zinfandel, Sonoma CA

Mushroom salad works brilliantly well with the scotch fillet, lamb shoulder or even the seared salmon as it offers fresh mix green spinach salad, Mexican beans and a generous portion of wild flavours of mushrooms. It is so appropriate to have this salad on its own.

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 Mushroom salad

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 What a combination of scotch fillet and mushroom salad.

A joyful evening ends with Chocolate, Pistachio and tequila brownie with chipotle cream. You’ll feel some heat with this treat as the chipotle cream is spicy. The tequila brownie will knock your party socks off with the visible pistachio and it adds crunch. The texture of the brownie is soft and moist inside with an outside layer of crisp edges.

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 Tequila brownie

Party doesn’t end, unless you’ve been greeted with salted caramel expresso martini ($16)- A blend of  Ketel one, Galliano ristretto, salted caramel and expresso with honeycomb. It’s a cocktail that’s between salty and sweet. This fashionable cocktail is full of surprises with flavours that create a twist on the trendy treat. The crowd at SoCal is well dressed and ready to take on a drink or two. If you are California dreaming , then this restaurant is a winning hot spot with sandy vibe and feel. The chicken slider, scotch fillet and mushroom salad is a thumbs up for me. As for the salted caramel expresso martini, it’s a cocktail and dessert all in one!

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 Salted caramel expresso martini ($16)

Photos by Vanny Tang

Disclaimer: Nessy Eater attended as a guest to SoCal #Social Event thanks to Pendulum Communications. Opinions are however, Nessy Eater’s own.

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Ferry Nice to be at Papi Chulo

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Located right on the Manly Wharf, Papi Chulo will change the way you think about barbeque and meat. This place is not your usual American smokehouse as it intertwines with Brazilian and Latin American. Their menu is fantastic for the meat lovers and if you have any intention on ordering the entire menu, go ahead! However it’s best to bring at least seven foodie mates along, well at least we did. Ok, it felt right to organise another food blogger’s event with the opportunity to overlook Manly Wharf during the day.

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Finally made it to Papi Chulo’s in 30 minutes flat from Circular Quay wharf.

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Here at Papi Chulo the view is fabulous.

The only time you’ll notice me sitting in silence is when the Smoked wagyu brisket (300 gm) ($34) arrives. It’s too damn delicious and has abundant marbling that moistens the meat from the inside. Be sure to taste the natural smoked juices and yes you’ll know there is a difference. Reality is that their wagyu servings has limited availability for seven people but overall they were mighty good.

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Smoked wagyu brisket (300 gm) ($34)

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Just look at the brisket closely, it’s so hypnotising.

My eyes were also interested in the Smoked hot wings ($16) with comeback sauce. I must confess, I ate three out of nine. It was so hard to stop grabbing the entire bowl of mid-wings for myself because they were the most popular appetisers on the table. Let’s face it- the wings are crisped and create the perfect combination of smoked madness. It’s really wings that everyone will love.

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Smoked hot wings ($16) 

Curly fries ($9) tasted heavily on the tongue, but I personally liked it best when it’s bathed in the creamy spicy comeback sauce. They are somewhat twirly, if you dive your fingers into the basket and there’s so much fun when dunked into the sauce.

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Curly fries ($9)

Although I didn’t have the opportunity to try Irene’s Zalamero smoothie ($8) because well her blog name already says it all (Irene’s Getting Fat). I can already imagine this tropical shake to be constant with creamy coconut milk and fresh passionfruit and mango sorbet. To confirm, you’ll have to ask Irene. Haha!

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Zalamero smoothie ($8) 

Love a bit of pea-NUTS in your beverage? Then the El Mani ($8) will probably be the best nutty treat everyone will love. Sorry to the peeps who are allergic to peanuts, you’re really missing out with rich peanut butter that is super thick and creamy, finished with Pringle shaped chocolate chips containing nuts, off course.

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El Mani ($8)

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So awesome to witness what Papi Chulo was cooking.

We were all in desperate need for some more protein so we had to order their signature dish, Papi Chulo BBQ platter (serves 2-4) ($86) – I don’t think there is a marriage more perfect than the one that exists between half rack lamb ribs, 150gm each of sliced wagyu brisket, chopped spicy pork and sliced pork belly . Another glorious fact is that they serve it along with a bowl of colourful pickles and super soft bread. I must say it does look tremendous on the camera. They key to devouring this platter is that there is no key. You’ll be in a race amongst six foodies to fight for the caramelised tender pork belly, smoky barbecue lamb ribs, shredded pork that is well marinated and slices of more wagyu brisket. All the meat falls apart so easily and does create a perfect intense pit barbeque flavour. As for the bread rolls, I ate three. In all seriousness, their rolls are well made with that fluffiness texture. I can guarantee that they won’t last long once served to the table.

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Papi Chulo BBQ platter (serves 2-4) ($86)

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Colourful sides of vegetable pickles

We know the main attraction here is the barbecue meet, so I guess the “Sloppy Joe” ($18) wasn’t a star at our table. Containing pulled kurobuta porkpit beans, jalapeño, nacho cheese on two soft buns. You’ll  be loving this if they didn’t serve Papi Chulo BBQ platter.

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“Sloppy Joe” ($18) 

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What’s next Chef?

Arriving fashionably late, Amy from milkteaxx orders Papi Chulo burger ($18) With grain fed beef, baconAmerican cheese, tomato, lettuce, pickles and hugged by two honey- coloured soft buns. Seeing Amy’s hungry reaction, I think you’ll really enjoyed it.

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Papi Chulo burger ($18) 

I don’t think the #FoodiesatManly were going to just leave without ordering the entire dessert menu. Look who we have here, Banana Split ($14) with fresh split banana, chocolate fudge, peanut praline, banana ice cream, peanut butter ice cream, and cherry jam, whipped cream and glace cherry. A bit too ordinary, but we managed to finish it. I was expecting something extreme, for example maybe 100s of 1000s? Or maybe dressing it up with almond flakes and light sparkles? Yeah, I know…a bit extreme 😛

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Banana Split ($14) 

There is something special about the Warm chocolate chip cookie ($14). I don’t know if it’s the scoop of vanilla malt ice-cream or the drizzling butterscotch sauce or maybe it’s the crumply macadamia brittle. But this famous classic American cookie is warm and chewy and goes so well with a glass of cold milk.

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Warm chocolate chip cookie ($14)

I thoroughly enjoyed the Pear and rhubarb cobbler ($14) with ginger crumble, crème anglaise, orange and ginger ice-cream. Can you smell the smallish chunks of fresh pear and rhubarb? It certainly had my attention with the perfect combination of flavours. The ginger crumble and ginger ice-cream kept multiplying with its own textures.

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Pear and rhubarb cobbler ($14)

Papi Chulo is a great place to relax and enjoy the lovely bright casual atmosphere. It’s not hard to see why this restaurant is obscenely popular. Hospitality here makes it more welcoming place for everyone. I highly recommend you to catch the Sydney Ferries at Circular Quay because it’s difficult getting to Manly by car if you are not familiar with the area. As a bonus, you get to see the amazing Harbour Bridge and water views.

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Catch the Sydney Ferries to visit Papi Chulo.

Photos by Vanny Tang

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