[REVIEW] Blanca Bar and Dining

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[REVIEW] Blanca Bar and Dining


Wearing our medals with pride (Valentina included) the staff at Blanca more than happily accommodated our less than scrubbed up appearance and slightly sweaty brows. We may not have "looked" the part but they sure made us feel it. Valentina felt very at home too...... 

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OK, where to start? Oysters, naturally. Beautifully fresh and topped with the most incredible of Asian flavours. Even Georges who is not much a fan of oysters was sucking his fingers clean. The flavours were super fresh and zingy and I especially loved the cold, crunchy granita on the oyster Valentina has her beady eyes on. Might need to wait a few more months baby girl. 

SYDNEY ROCK OYSTER mandarin-szechuan pepper mignonette, avruga.JPG

"BLANCA by name, definitely NOT Blanca by nature."

SYDNEY ROCK OYSTER yuzu sake-bonito granita, baby shiso, flying fish roe.JPG

I love Asian cooking for how perfectly they balance their flavours. Sweet, sour, salt and spice. This next dish was a brilliant example of that. The bonito pastrami was next level with it's sticky sweet sauce, tangy cream and salty fish all married together to create an elegantly complex and delicious dish. And definitely the prettiest.

BONITO PASTRAMI yuzu-soy & brown butter dressing, kombu, yuzu cream, avruga.JPG
CROQUETAS `BEIJING DUCK´ hoisin marinated duck, almonds, honey, cinnamon cream.JPG

I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that one of my favourite foods EVER are duck pancakes. I know, it doesn't get much better. Or does it? Imagine a duck pancake..........but fried! Dreams really do exist. A potato croqueta filled with hoisin marinaded duck and an almond, honey and cinnamon cream. My first thought on taking a bite was that it was quite unusual and it was heavy on the cinnamon. However, once my tastebuds understood what was going on I thoroughly enjoy it. It was a fun take on a popular favourite.

BLANCA BLACK BUN soft black bun, crispy softshell crab, XO-mayo, spicy red cabbage.JPG
phoebe ghorayeb with valentina eating soft shell crab bun blanca bondi.JPG

Right, ignore me for one second. Look behind me to the left. See Valentina? See that face? That is a face of utter dismay at the realisation that she wasn't getting a bite of the beautifully bouncy Blanca buns. Oh dear me! These buns are heavenly. We ordered one of each (although on reflection I think 10 of each would've been more sufficient) of the softshell crab, beef cheek and shiitake mushroom. The bun itself is more dense than others I've eaten but without effecting the fluffy texture you'd expect in a bun. I put it down to their robust, overflowing fillings needing a sturdy little sleeping bag. Hands down softshell crab took the number one spot with the other two following very closely behind. 

BLANCA WHITE BUN soft sesame bun, pickled shiitake mushrooms, miso dressing, daikon and BEEF CHEEK BUN soft white bun, beef cheek, aged soy mayo, pickled cabbage, chilli .JPG
georges antoni and valentina blanca bondi.JPG

So this next dish wasn't one that we ordered. This next dish was a very pleasant surprise. This dish was a gift, a gift from the chef himself. According to him this dumpling was made incorrectly and therefore couldn't be served to the original orderers. Some may see this as sloppy seconds, however, we saw it as lucky leftovers. And for a dish that didn't make the pass I'd love to know what it tastes like when made correctly. It tasted amazing! The broth was incredibly clean and light with a great chilli kick and the texture of the dumpling was super silky. Give me a "poorly" made dumpling any day!

OXTAIL DUMPLING braised beef & oxtail, black vinegar dressing, sesame, pickled chilli .JPG
MISO EGGPLANT grains, mushrooms, kombu, garlic, sesame hummus.JPG

We closed the show with some epic side dishes. Miso eggplant with grains, mushrooms, kombu and sesame hummus. I thought this was a really clever fusion mixing Asian with Middle Eastern. The miso turned sticky and almost caramel in taste which paired amazingly with the charred eggplant. The roasted pumpkin with kombu butter, persimmon, black garlic and pumpkin puree was one of the most beautiful dishes we ate. I loved the pop of yellow and delicately sliced persimmon. Flavour wise it wasn't my favourite of the bunch but if every other dish was a 10 this was a 9, so still pretty good. 

ROASTED PUMPKIN kombu butter dashi, persimmon, black garlic, pumpkin puree.JPG

Even though little Miss V wasn't able to enjoy the delicacies set before us (although I'm pretty sure her daddy gave her a cheeky lick of the potato croqueta) she has given Blanca a 3 bottle rating in our new Baby Appetite scoreboard. As well as telling all you lovely readers how much I love (or not so much) the restaurants I dine at, V and I will be including a baby rating on how baby friendly they are. Because that.............is my life now. 

valentina relaxing at blanca bondi.JPG

Baby Appetite Rating

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Pros:

  • Their response to Valentina and our ginormous pram was extremely welcoming. They did everything they could to get us a comfortable spot.
  • Plenty of outdoor,  pram friendly seating.
  • They describe themselves as being a place for everyone (families included) despite the expensive looking interior and they were more than happy to accommodate us even in sweaty, post City2Surf gym gear.
  • Highchairs are also provided as well as a baby changing facility downstairs next to Harris Farm. 

Cons:

  • On busy sittings it might be tricky to maneuver the pram between seats. 

Website: www.blanca.com.au

Follow me @model_appetite on Instagram to keep updated on my blog posts or subscribe below.


What I'm Wearing
Jumper: Flightmode


 
 
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[INTERVIEW] Sian Redgrave

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[INTERVIEW] Sian Redgrave


Describe yourself as a dish.

Oooh this is a tricky one to get started on! I would have to say something simple like a bowl of pasta with a rich homemade tomato and chilli sauce. Probably a pasta shape that is tricky to roll like strozzapreti and the sauce would have something like anchovies and chilli for a little salty/hot kick. I guess what I'm trying to convey is that I'm simple yet complex at the same time! Sounds like most people right?

You won The Great Australian Bake Off in 2015. What has been the most rewarding part of claiming that title?

Bake Off was such a rewarding experience in so many ways. I think going on a journey like that and proving to yourself that you're capable of anything you set your mind to is so empowering and absolutely priceless. The second I was on the Bake Off set cooking everyday I became aware that it was what I was supposed to do with my life, so I was given a lot of clarity. I think life becomes a lot more simple when you are on your path and you have found your purpose.

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You've been pretty open about your enjoyment of cooking savoury dishes more so than sweet. What is it that you love most about cooking on the savoury side?

I think cooking has my heart as it's this beautiful balance between understanding structure and discipline and just surrendering and going with the flow. Cooking has guide lines however there is also a freedom to be spontaneous and creative, adding in a little of whatever may take your fancy. Almost a metaphor for life really! I also don't possess a sweet tooth. I was born with a bread, salt, butter and cheese tooth, so making something savoury also satisfies my cravings. 

What’s your opinion on avocado brownies?

Depends who's making them because word has it that yours aren't great, haha! But in all honesty, a brownie is no place for an avocado. If you're going to eat a brownie please ensure it's made of excessive amounts of chocolate and butter, preferably warm and topped with ice-cream. Clearly I'm the all or nothing type.

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Word on the street it that you have a little book project in the making. Can you tell us anymore about what's to come?

Word on the street is correct. I was finally mad enough to write a cookbook, which has been a dream of mine for some time. Put simply the book will showcase seasonal produce and hopefully inspire people to cook through colour, texture and tone. Georges Antoni, one the most creative and incredible souls I have met, who also happens to be a genius with a camera (and a great cook), is shooting all of the imagery. The book has organically become this great project to connect with friends, share a meal and ideas and fulfil a lot of artistic dreams, I'm so grateful! Release is aimed for September next year, so get your stovetops and appetites ready!

If you could cook a meal for anyone who would it be and what would you cook them?

There are so many people in the world (dead and alive!) I would be so honoured to meet who have impacted my life, from Oprah Winfrey to Picasso to David Bowie. But my favourite person to share a meal with and cook for is my mum. Since I moved from Perth to Sydney I don't get to see her a great deal and it's very hard for me. So dinner with mum, sharing a bowl of homemade gnocchi, her favourite, would have to be my dream.

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Food like fashion comes in and out of style but what food trend do you think will stand the test of time?

I think seasonal, sustainable and locally grown food will become the next big thing, not only out of trend but also necessity. As consumers I think it's so important that we take time to discover where out food was grown, the way it was farmed and what's going into our bodies and its impact on our planet. Conscious eating can benefit so many areas,  from our health to our farmers, so I truly hope there is momentum building in that area.

Top 5 restaurants in Sydney. GO!

1. 10 William Street (I go alone and eat the pretzel with their amazing whipped bottarga and a glass of orange wine.)
2. Society Pizzeria (best pizza in Sydney!)
3. Ester
4. St Peter
5, Hubert (I love the vibe! Feels like a night out in Paris.)

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Other than a knock out, best selling cook book, where would you like to see yourself in the next 5 years?

I think my greatest goal is to find a way to reach and inspire people to eat well and to enjoy the art of cooking. Food is not about perfection, I think it's actually far from it. For me, cooking encompasses self care, creativity, the act of sharing and love as well as pure enjoyment. So I hope to be cooking, creating and sharing with an audience who loves to eat as much as I do and cares about the origin and quality of their food, in whichever format that takes shape (hopefully in a series and through another book!).

If you could go anywhere in the world, at anytime of the year and eat anything you wanted. Where, when and what would it be?

I would be off to Tuscany in the spring, to eat Pici (a thick hand rolled spaghetti) with cacio e pepe. Washed down with a beautiful bottle of red and concluded with a big piece of ricotta crostata or cannoli. Right I'm off, need to book flights, Tuscany is calling!

 

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Something your fans may not know about you is your equally great passion for music. Why does music have your heart and how does it tie in with your love of food?

Music for me is so powerful and evoking. I can be in any state of thinking or feeling and listen to a great song and just be so encapsulated by it. I grew up with parents who are really into music and played instruments at school. My biggest passion is deep house and hip hop and I love listening to it while I’m cooking. I think music is so alike to food, it has the ability to transport you to another place and nourish you.

"NIGELLA who?"

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Food Vs Fashion Quick Fire Round

1. Online shopping or Online ordering?
To be honest I'm not much of a online kind of gal, technology and I haven't really bonded. I really love to dine in restaurants and I love to shop in store so I can try things on. But in this case online shopping wins, I'm a sucker for a sale on Farfetch or Net-a-Porter.

2. The Orient Express or Sushi Train?
Sushi train hands down. What's better than a conveyor belt of food?!

3. Gucci or Gnocchi?
You have gone for my weaknesses here and stumped me! Gucci is just so creative in their art direction, styling and photography. They are a true source of inspiration to me,  I especially love their creations for the met Gala every year. And then gnocchi, pillowy soft and even more delicious when it's pan fried. Might have to be a tie on this one P!

4. Catwalk or Pub Crawl?
Pub crawl takes the cake on this one. Must be my English blood but I adore old pubs and equally adore Guinness.  

5. Peach Colour or Peach Flavour?
Stone fruit season is one of the most bountiful and beautiful times in my opinion. I love baked peaches with amaretto or a delicious frangipane tart with peaches and mascarpone. No to peach colour, it washes me out! 

6. Celebrity Model or Celebrity Chef?
Celebrity Chef all the way, although I'm a little obsessed with 90's supermodels like Cindy Crawford. They are my beauty icons!

7. Chanel or Champagne?
Chanel wins this one. Coco was such a strong willed and resilient woman who I think has inspired so many young girls. And who can say no to a perfectly tailored suit?

8. Blow Dry or Dry Martini?
I'm sadly really slack when it comes to my hair. I just jump out of the shower, brush it and hope for the best. So a blowdry is always very welcome (people usually say "wow you look so different, what have you done (sigh)", however martinis are close to my heart and just so happen to be one of my favourite drinks.

Follow @sianredgrave for food inspiration, recipes and drool worthy images such as the ones pictures above.

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Follow me @model_appetite on Instagram to keep updated on my blog posts or subscribe below.

Sian portraits taken by photographer Georges Antoni

 
 
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[LIFE BEHIND THE SCENES] Great Australian Bake Off Final

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[LIFE BEHIND THE SCENES] Great Australian Bake Off Final


When a party consists of baking, balloons, burgers and babies you know you're in for a good time. When the baking has been done by Sian Redgrave, the balloons are the size of a small house, the burgers are the best you've ever eaten and the babies are as cute as a button then you're good time just turned into a little slice of paradise. 

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I was in my element. The big kid inside me squealed and clapped at the donut wall, gazed in awe at the magical carousel, grinned like a Cheshire cat at the balloon arches and drooled like a dog at the colourful lolly buffet. Of course, not forgetting that the reason we were there was to film the final episode of the Great Australian Bake Off and not just stuff our faces. 

balloons great australian bake off final.JPG

Friends, family and guests were all lined up outside the picnic area ready for our grand entrance. As they called action you could feel the buzz and excitement as we edged closer to the picnic party and of course the Bake Off shed in which the three finalists were finishing off their showstoppers. 

donut wall great australian bake off final.JPG
behind the scenes great australian bake off final.JPG

It was that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory moment as we stepped through the balloon archway and were faced with an explosion of colour, sound and smell. First things first we located the perfect picnic position (aka prime photo taking backdrop) before Sian made a beeline for the coffee van. While she was doing that I ran around the party like a mad man taking photos before the donut wall and lolly buffet were demolished by all the sugar hungry children. 

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cupcakes great australian bake off final.JPG

"Cake is for LIFE, not just for BIRTHDAYS."

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While most people would consider a picnic to be a couple of crustless sandwiches, a bag of Twisties and a few carrot sticks thrown in for good measure, you've clearly never attended a Sian Redgrave picnic. So we chowed down on an Isreali couscous, lentil, cauliflower, green bean, tomato and broccoli salad, a quinoa, radish, spinach, pomegranate and almond salad, a cheese board with all the trimmings (provided by yours truely) and of course a couple of baked treats because...........bake off. 

picnic great australian bake off final.JPG
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Living up to her title of season one's Bake Off winner Sian's coconut and raspberry slice was heavenly. Beautiful and crumbly and finished off with a dusting of pistachios and rose petals. Her lemon meringue pie with a twist was incredible. The twist? Passionfruit! Perfectly short pastry and creamy, tart lemon curd with pops of passionfruit seeds and the stickiest, marshmallowy meringue.

You'd think after bringing enough food to fill 40 people we'd have no room left even for oxygen. You'd be wrong.........Bring on the burger! 

coconut and pistachio slice.JPG
phoebe ghorayeb bake off pcinic.JPG

If I'm honest I wasn't expecting much from this burger, I assumed it was just a filler for all the kids. Something easy and fuss free to keep them quiet. Never did I think I would claim one of the best burgers I'd eaten to be at staged picnic in the middle of a field from a food tent. Oh how wrong I was. And of course you can't have a burger without fries. Thin and crispy, just how I like em. 

phoebe ghorayeb eating a burger.JPG
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great australian bake off final film set.JPG

It wasn't all about the food (although that did play a very important part) it was also the experience of watching the epic grand final of three homemade bakers for one of Australias greatest reality shows. Sometimes watching them play out in real life can taint the tension and excitement that the TV brings to the living room but there was no doubt that the sweat on each of the contestants brows was as real as my sugar high and the tension just as raw. We arrived for the last two hours of their bake and the shed doors were left open for the guests to come and watch as they pleased. 

carousel great australian bake off final.JPG
sian redgrave carousel.JPG

Now we couldn't leave the party without taking a ride on the carousel. For Valentinas sake of course. However judging by the look on her face and ours it's not hard to see who were the real kids in this situation. It really is true what they say about children bringing out the child in you. You begin to see the world through their eyes and your wish is for them to see and experience as many beautiful things that the world has to offer. Candy floss and carousels included. 

phoebe ghorayeb carousel.JPG
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great australian bake off final judging.JPG

Sadly V and I couldn't stay to witness the announcement of the Bake Off winner. My motherly duties called and it was waaaaay past V's bedtime. We did get to watch the finalists bring out their masterpieces and serve them at their table of family and friends. And I can tell you that they looooook goooood.

But before we headed home there was one thing left to do........

sian redgrave lemon meringue pie.JPG
sian redgrave and baby having picnic.JPG
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"GOOD things come to those who BAKE."

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FAN GIRL MOMENT! Seeing as Sian and Maggie go way back (2015 to be precise) I was able to nab myself a quick piccie with the Queen of cake herself. She is as adorable in real life as she is on the box. Courteous, graceful and humble as ever, the perfect example of celebrity. 

maggie beer with phoebe ghorayeb.jpg

I'm sure by now it's no surprise that Bake Off gets me a wee bit excited. Not only for the food porn but for the people it has brought into my life. Firstly, it is because of Mrs Maggie Beer's Burnt Fig and Caramel Ice Cream that I am married to the man of my dreams. What started out as an ice cream flavour debate soon became a dinner invitation and eventually a marriage. It is also because of Bake Off that Sian up and moved to Sydney and is now one of my best friends.

Food, family and friendship. Three of life's greatest pleasures. Thank you Great Australian Bake Off!

phoebe ghorayeb and baby having picnic.JPG

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What I'm Wearing
Trousers: Zara (old) // TshirtUniqlo // JacketZara (old) // WatchThe Horse


 
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[MODEL MADHOUSE] First Day Back

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[MODEL MADHOUSE] First Day Back


Is it wrong of me to have looked forward to spending a day at work? Doing something away from the routine of motherhood? Indulging in something that I love without my baby girl? I'm sure we all have different answers but my answer is no. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I didn't miss her or think about her or request photo updates from Georges (see picture below right) but I do believe that it's important for a mother to have time on her own, time to refresh, time to reflect, time to replenish and time to re-energise. Surely it can only make you a better mother which can only result in a happier baby. 

phoebe and valentina.JPG

Saying goodbye to my little cherub was made all the more easy knowing that she was in good hands. Georges was also rather vocal about how excited he was to spend a whole day indulging in fatherhood. Something he (and she) experience very rarely. I think dads can get left out of the picture all too easily and I know how much Georges misses her when he has to go to work. Now it was my turn to feel how he feels. However, I loved knowing that he was able to spend some quality daddy/daughter time with her and spoil her like the daddy's girl that she totally is!

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"A model mum, OR a mum that MODELS?"

So, back to the job at hand. Cashmere Essentials were my wonderful client today. As you can see from the rack below it was no mean feat but jumping back on set was like riding a bike. I loved getting back in front of the camera and it felt good knowing I was out working and doing what I could to contribute financially to my family.

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The wonderful and very fortunate thing about modelling is that it doesn't have to be a daily grind. I can shoot as much or as little as I choose which means I get to balance being a mum and a model in a way that suits Georges and I. Of course not having any family in Sydney means that it's pretty much all down to Georges and I to juggle that illusive work/life/parent balance. 

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So this is the photo that I asked Georges to send me when the pain of missing her was getting just a little too much. Asleep and happy, all a mum could ask for. 

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A couple of hours after lunch I began feeling my boobs slowly swelling and filling up with milk. I'm pretty sure I grew a whole cup size in the time I was on set. It never occurred to me that even though Valentina would be fine, what with her grand supply of bottled breast milk, I on the other hand still needed to release the pressure. My boobs felt like a time bomb ready to explode. Cue freak out! Of course all thoughts led to mastitis and I was seriously considering running to the bathroom to hand expressing into the sink. As my fellow mums will know this is like flushing away liquid gold. Not the ideal solution but when the choice is that or infection I know which one I'd rather take. 

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Lucky for me (and my bulging breasts) Georges and Valentina dropped in to say hi so without hesitation out popped my boob and on popped Valentina. OMG! The relief was incredible. Lesson learnt. If I'm going to do this whole working mum thing then I need to either pump on set or bring V with me. I think I know which one everyone on set would prefer.

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I really did love getting back on set. It felt good to do what I loved prior to having Valentina. Of course it doesn't compare the amazing job of being Valentina's mum but every now and again I don't think it will hurt to be model instead of mum for a day. 

Website: www.cashmereessentials.com

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[LIFE BEHIND THE SCENES] It's A Girl!

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[LIFE BEHIND THE SCENES] It's A Girl!


baby shower cake.JPG

When Lebanese and English combine it can only mean one thing (other than one damn cute baby)........a Middle Eastern High Tea Baby Shower. As well as the usual baby shower games, enjoying the "beautiful" weather (pregnancy and 33 degrees do not mix well) and of course catching up with my gorgeous girlfriends, this shower was all about the food. So when Sian very kindly offered to cater my shower, instead of the polite banter which us Brits are very accustomed to -
P: "Oh no, I couldn't ask you to do that."
S: "Please, it would be my pleasure."
P: "Are you sure? I don't want to put you out."
S: "Honestly, I would love to!"
Yes, yes, yes, was my very quick, very blunt, very non apologetic answer.

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My  favour boxes were filled with pink, blue and white sugared almonds which are a Middle Eastern tradition given at weddings, birthdays, christenings and baby showers. They symbolise health, wealth, happiness, fertility and a long life.  Not a bad thing to leave a party with. 

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I had always loved the idea of combining a classic English high tea with the exotic flavours of the Middle East. I didn't know for what occasion exactly but my baby shower seemed like the perfect excuse. When I pitched the idea to Sian her eyes lit up and I could see her cookery cogs turning as she wrote down the menu in less than 10 minutes. Cue three days straight of prepping, cooking and baking madness. 

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Now no high tea is complete or can even begin without perfectly cut, crustless finger sandwiches. With four fillings to choose from, salmon, cream cheese and watercress; good old cucumber sarnie with a crushed pistachio crust; smoked ham, cheddar and Branston pickle (a personal favourite of mine) and falafel with garlic sauce and micro herbs. Does it get any more English come Lebanese than that??

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SCONES!! All hail the scone. Whether you like em simply simple or filled with dried figs and a bit of spice, we gotcha covered. Jo's got the right idea!

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Sian pretty much made and baked everything. OK, not pretty much, she did. I helped by licking all the bowls clean which is really not all that helpful. So I thought maybe it would be a good idea to actually contribute some of my own cooking abilities. Pulling out one of my favourite cake books I made these truely epic earl grey and honey cupcakes from The Caker. I did however put my own little spin on them by adding a chocolate ganache topping (because pregnancy and chocolate mix very well). They were such a hit! So much so I will send the recipe to anyone who asks and I guarantee you will be everybody's new BFF. 

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Sadly I, nor Sian, can take credit for these beautiful baklavas. Yes we put them on a fancy plate and sprinkled them with rose petals but all kudos goes to Al Sultan Pastry in Rockdale. These really are the most amazing baklava and even though anywhere outside of the Eastern Suburbs seems like another planet I urge you to take the drive and to take an empty stomach with you. 

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This cake was a personal request by Georges (yes he was at my baby shower. Who do you think took all the lovely photos?!) We had the pleasure of first tasting it at Sian's birthday and decided that once was not enough. This is one of the best cakes I've ever had. Semolina, pistachio and rose water cake soaked in a lemon and rose water syrup finished with crushed pistachios and dried rose petals. In fact, it is so good that Georges, his mum, sister and I attempted to make it for Valentina's christening. And not to blow our own trumpet but we did a bloody good job.

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As this is a high tea, with the key word here being tea, we set up a tea station of English Breakfast (obviously), mint tea, earl grey and cinnamon, cardamon and ginger. Sian introduced me to this amazing prop hire place called Major and Tom  where  we hired a selection of beautiful, vintage teapots and mix and match cups and saucers. The perfect corner to wash down all the sugar!

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Ah, the piece de resistance. The mother of all baby shower cakes. The type of cake you want to smoosh your face in. Sian's masterpiece! I mean, she won Bake Off after all, it was bound to be bloody sensational. Sian has such a style when it comes to celebration cakes. Slightly imperfect, asymmetrical, rustic, homemade but the most beautiful thing you ever did see. For some serious food porn check out her instagram @sian_redgrave

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"READY to..........."

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Thank you to all these epic babes for making my baby shower the best I could have possibly imagined. Clearly we were having so much fun that little Valentina decided she wasn't going to miss out on all the action and came three weeks early, the day after my shower. And get this.......as soon as she was born she popped out smelling like cake batter! Go figure. 

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[LIFE BEHIND THE SCENES] The Joy of Being Pregnant

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[LIFE BEHIND THE SCENES] The Joy of Being Pregnant


Q. Planned or unplanned?

A. Definitely planned. We started trying in January this year and were lucky enough to fall pregnant by May. In fact after our first scan at 7 weeks the Dr told us we conceived on 16th May which was the day after Georges got back from LA. Thank goodness she didn’t miscalculate otherwise that would have been a very awkward drive home.

Q. Is pregnancy exactly what you imagined it would be like?

A. Not really, you get told what to expect and what will happen to you physically and emotionally but I imagine like parenthood you can never fully understand it until you go through it yourself. One thing I definitely didn’t imagine was just how much I would enjoy being pregnant and how much bonding happens before you even meet the little human. I've also loved seeing how excited Georges is getting. He says hello to my tummy before me. 

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Q. How have you changed your routine since becoming pregnant? How has it changed your life and daily routine?

A. Nothing much has changed really. Especially in my second and now third trimester I do everything I used to do before being pregnant just with a little extra weight attached to me. My first trimester was pretty tough, I went from going to the gym 6 times a week to not at all because my energy levels were non existent and I suffered with morning sickness for the first couple of months. However, now my day to day is pretty much back to normal. Except for the occasional trip to Baby Kingdom and a guilt free donut (or two).

Q. Have you done any modelling jobs since finding out you were pregnant? If so what were they for?

A. Yes I have! In fact right this moment as I type this, I’m sitting in a cafe in Melbourne having just wrapped a shoot for Target. 

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Q. What are you looking forward to most after the baby arrives?

A. Finding out if it’s a boy or a girl. Georges and I have decided to keep it a surprise (I never thought I would have the strength to wait). I’m also looking forward to seeing what our baby will look like. There’s been so much speculation because Georges and I are totally opposite in our appearance. Georges has always said as long as it looks like you then the baby will be sorted. Finally I’m looking forward to introducing our baby to all my family in the UK, especially my grandma. I’m not sure when they’ll all get to meet him/her but I know it will be very special when they do. 

Q. Have you had to buy specific maternity outfits or do you have a go to designer that does the job for you?

A. So far I haven’t had to. Surprisingly my wardrobe seems to cater pretty well for pregnancy, lots of oversized shirts, maxi dresses and body con dresses are doing the job just fine. As I’ve gotten bigger I have had to stock up on a few extra outfits but just going to my regular haunts and buying larger sizes seems to be enough. I will say I am missing a good pair of jeans and denim shorts so if anyone knows where I can get a fashionable maternity pair please holla! 

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Q. How has your food habits changed, have you had any cravings and what has been your go to comfort food?

A. For the first couple of months food was my enemy. I wasn’t interested in anything unless it was loaded with carbs and fat and sugar. I was completely turned off cooking, I had to hold my breath every time I opened the fridge or pantry because the smell of food made me feel sick. Coffee was also a right off! I couldn’t step into a cafe if it smelled strongly of coffee as it also made me want to throw up. I had a strong craving for fruit juice and Calypos for a while and now I seem to have lost interest in meat. It’s incredible how the body tells you what it wants and what it doesn’t want. It was so hard, especially being such a foodie. I can’t wait to go to my favourite sushi restaurant and demolish a thousand plates of salmon and avocado rolls. 

Q. Describe how you will be as a first time Mum?

A. I don’t even know if that’s possible. I have ideas of what I would like to be as a parent but whether that ends up happening I guess all depends on the type of child we have. In short I’d love to encourage our child to embrace life and get involved in all sorts of sports, activities and community programs. I will teach our child to be open minded and accepting of all people, cultures and religions. I think I will be fairly disciplined as rude, ill mannered children really get under my skin. And if we have a girl I will totally indulge her in all things Disney, dancing and pink. I’ve already begun educating Georges on the Disney princesses but he still thinks Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood are the same person.....

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Q. You are originally from England, is your family coming out for the birth?

A. Hopefully, my Mum is flying in a week before the birth then she’ll stay for about 5 weeks. Being her only child this is quite a big deal for her as it’s her first grandchild so it will be very special to give her those first few weeks to bond. I’ve got some friends coming to visit around April/May and then my dad will come out as soon as he can, unless we get over to the UK sooner. 

Q. How is Georges preparing for fatherhood, how do you think he will be as a father?

A. Georges has had seven nieces and nephews to prepare for fatherhood. He’s amazing with children and there is no doubt in my mind he will be an incredible father. I think his main fear is not having enough time to spend with the baby, however Georges is a very present human being so the time he does have for his children will be completely devoted to them. I can’t wait to see him as a dad. Also, is it just me or is a strong, rugged man holding a baby a real turn on??

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Q. Drugs or no drugs?

A. Haha! I’ve told myself if I can do it without the drugs then great. However, giving birth is no mean feat so if gets too much I’m not ashamed to call on for a little help.

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[REVIEW] Ardigna

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[REVIEW] Ardigna


This restaurant was one of many recommendations given to us by a wonderful Sicilian lady now living in Australia who runs food tours around Sicily during the summer. A pretty trustworthy source I’d say. However, when we took a turn off the main road onto a rocky, gravel path which looked to be heading towards nothing but darkness, I was beginning to have my doubts. Double and triple checking the address, stopping and restarting google maps and all out praying that this wasn’t the end for us.

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Finally, a light in the distance. Praise Jesus! Things were starting to look up. Or so we thought. We stopped at the bottom of a long driveway facing up a steep hill. We could barely make out the building at the top. Slowly creeping up the driveway we came into a car park. We drove up next to one of only two cars parked there. As I swung open my car door I looked down, I looked back at Georges, I looked down again. My eyes widened as I said with as much English sarcasm as I could muster. “Oh look Georges, two dusty baby handprints printed on the side of that car. Well that’s not scary at all.”

Yes, it bloody well was! We got out of the car and I grabbed Georges hand. This was it, our time, our end. We walked around the corner towards the building, the sound of stones beneath our feet was all that could be heard as we edged closer and closer. Lights were on. We knocked on the door. “Bueno sera!” exclaimed a friendly looking man as he swung open the door. “Have you made a reservation?” No, we hadn’t. “That’s ok, come in, come in. We are not open until 8pm.” It was 7:45pm. “But come in and have a seat and we’ll be right with you.”

Immediately I could feel the blood rushing back to my face and my fear subsided. We were guided to a table for two in front of a pull down projector screen where the owner was sat watching the last 15 minutes of his favourite game show. We watched with him, not understanding a single word but smiled when he smiled and laughed when he laughed. As soon as 8pm struck the screen was rolled up and the owner greeted us with genuine enthusiasm and asked what we would like to order. We told him kindly that we would love him to order for us, which he did with pleasure.

"Stick a FORK in me, I'm done."

The restaurant was empty. And I mean empty. Other than the chefs and waiters we were the only people sitting in this 250 seater restaurant. Georges and I looked at each other thinking that business must be tough and were pleased to have come out all this way to help what looked like a struggling restaurant. About 20 minutes later we swallowed our words. Big time. Every seat had a bum, the place was a bustling, hectic, noisy, happy room full of couples, families and parties. The owner worked the room, going from table to table greeting old friends and new friends.

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As we patiently waited for our starter we dug into the DIY tomato bruschetta. A mortar and pestle sat on our table filled with tomato, olive oil, salt and pepper and basil. We gave it a little stir before loading up slices of fresh, crispy bread. Like I’ve said before, you can’t beat simple things that are done well. There was so much flavor and each ingredient spoke for itself. It took all our strength to not eat an entire loaf of bread just so we could mop up every last mouthful of tomato juice.

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Well thank goodness we didn’t because what came next would leave a competitive eater shaking in their boots.  A 21 dish antipasti platter which just kept coming and coming. A mere snippet of it included a potato and liver dish, fresh ricotta, meatballs, tripe, escargot, zucchini, olives, quail egg, ash cheese, ham, pork, aubergine. You get the picture; it was a lot.

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The main course however, was my favourite. Unfortunately, I only had room left for a few mouthfuls but those few mouthfuls were heaven. A pistachio cream gnocchi with cheese, crushed pistachios and saffron. It was incredibly rich with a silky smooth sauce and perfectly cooked pillows of gnocchi. It was unlike anything I had had before and one of my most memorable dishes of the entire trip.

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Holy moly! I couldn’t move. As I leant back in my chair there was no other option than to pop the button on my shorts to make room for my expanding waistline. I couldn’t remember the last time I had been this full but what I did know is that I needed to be horizontal……. and fast. We put up our hand to order the bill but by the look on the owners face, that clearly wasn’t going to happen. He came over and looked baffled as to why we weren’t ordering dessert. We told him there was no way we could fit another bite. His response? You haven’t seen my wife’s ricotta cake. He walked us over to the dessert cabinet and showed us the freshly baked ricotta cake, soft and warm having just come out of the oven. I honestly couldn’t tell you how we did it but we did. We ordered a slice to share and quite easily (and surprisingly) demolished it. I even think I could’ve have squeezed in another slice. I swear it’s true what they say about having a separate dessert tummy.

Ardigna was definitely worth the two and a half hour round trip. I mean it’s easy for me to say as I slept for most of it but even Georges claims it to be his favourite meal of the holiday. We also found out that they are renovating to add accommodation within the surrounding buildings which is the perfect ammunition to get us back eating more of their beautiful food. 

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[GIRLS ON FILM] Maddy King

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[GIRLS ON FILM] Maddy King


I can't say I remember the first time I met Maddy (sorry Maddy) but what I will say is that once you've met her you won't forget her. If Maddy was a Mr Men character she would be Miss Bubbly and with a smile that stretches from ear to ear she is a seriously infectious human being.

Mine and Maddy's paths have crossed many a time including on set for clients including Speedo's and Big W and of course the occasional Sydney social. However, where our friendship really took a turn was the time Maddy gave me a tummy rub. OK, let me be more specific. I say tummy rub but the correct term is Chi Nei Tsang, an ancient abdominal treatment that has physical, emotional and mental healing properties. Maddy is not your average model she is a qualified nutritionist, Chi Nei Tsang practitioner and breathing coach, healing us from the inside out one bloated gut at a time. Sounds delightful. 

Oh she also just launched her website The Yoni Club. Fashion for the festival goers or those with simply a more adventurous style of dressing.

Is there nothing this girl can't do???

www.maddyking.com.au
@madelainking

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[REVIEW] Borderi Panini Shop

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[REVIEW] Borderi Panini Shop


Call me crazy but we waited 1 hour and 45 minutes for…….wait for it……..a sandwich. Well, a panini to be precise. After a pretty lazy start to the day we headed on over for a late lunch. Little did we know exactly how late it would be. Before we saw the name of the restaurant we saw the queue. Wrapping out around the side of the restaurant and down the street we were pretty confident we were in the right place. But how long could it take really? It was just a sandwich. “It could take 10 minutes or two hours. Depends how long her decides to talk for.” Is what we overheard the waiter was telling the people behind us. Guess we were in this for long haul.

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Thankfully they were dishing out nibbles and tastings for the queue goers. An olive here and a slice of mozzarella there was not only enough to keep us going it was also enough to entice us to remain in line. The freshest, most flavourful ingredients and I couldn’t wait to devour more of them in one giant mouthful. I say giant but these paninis are probably better described as outrageously humungous. Ordering one each was possibly not the best plan of attack as one between two would have more than sufficed.

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It was a one-man band, he was in his 60s and he was seriously working the crowd. Obviously we had no idea what he was saying but he helped pass the time and was entertaining none the less, especially when he started doing impressions of Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump which basically consisted of him walking like a fat penguin and shooting bombs out of bazookas.

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Finally, we got to the front of the line and it was time to witness the makings of what I believe is one of the best paninis I’ve tasted. Fresh, soft ciabatta loaded up with practically half the deli. Prosciutto, mortadella, mozzarella, baked ricotta, pesto, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, lettuce, garlic and onion. Among a myriad of other things of which I can’t remember……We perched on the steps of the Cathedral and took our first bite. I fell into panini heaven whereas Georges was not so smitten. He thought there were too many flavours, however I loved discovering and exploring all the flavours on offer. Sadly, half the panini ended up on the floor as we struggled to open our mouths wide enough but what we did eat we (or I) loved. Needless to say we didn’t need dinner that night.

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What I'm Wearing
Top: Zara (Italy) // Trousers: Zara // Head Scarf: Frankie Peach // Watch: Wanderlust Watches


 
 
 

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[REVIEW] Mercado X Belles Hot Chicken

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[REVIEW] Mercado X Belles Hot Chicken


I can't say whether this years Good Food Month has lived up to its name but what I can confirm is that it had at least one great food night thanks to the Spanish Southern American fusion conjured up by chefs Nathan Sasi and Morgan McGlone. When the names Mercado and Belles Hot Chicken are spoken in the same sentence you know it's a night that will pack a punch.

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Because no meal ever really happened unless it starts with bread. However, a lot of meals can end before they've begun with the wrong bread. What looks like your standard bread rolls are in fact hiding a multitude of sins. The fluffiest, pull apart buns you can imagine made even more magical with salami paste butter. I know, I don't really get it either but who cares how or why or what? It tastes amazing and that all that matters. 

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Well it wasn't going to be a Southern style dinner without a couple of corn dogs. Firstly who doesn't love a hot dog? Then when it's deep fried in corn batter and stuck on a stick the average hot dog is a thing of the past. Smiling below, it was a combination of excitement at chowing down on this American classic but also at Georges remark as he bit into the corn dog and exclaimed, "oh there's a sausage inside?" What did he think it was? I'm glad I married him before hearing that disturbing comment. At least now he's educated on the wonder that is the corn dog. 

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OK, I can feel the heart palpitations starting already. I'm feeling quite distressed for this next part. The dish above was by far the best dish of the night and quite possibly the best dish of my life. The biscuits were light and flakey and layered like pastry and made using buttermilk no less. Slathered in the red eye mayonnaise, called so because it was favoured with coffee as well as being named after the overnight flight from the USA to Australia. So clever. Then topped with Mercado's 18 month cured ham. I really can't express how much I loved this dish and it saddens me to think that it might be the last time I get to eat it. Unless Nathan is reading this....

NOTE TO CHEF SASI: If this dish is not made permanent on Mercado's menu I will start a petition. That's a promise. 

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"North is a direction, the SOUTH is a lifestyle."

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Crackling. That really is all that can be said about that. I think chefs can be judged on a few of the basics, including a good custard, roast potatoes, a margherita pizza, a sponge cake and the crackling on a roast pork. Clearly Sasi and McGlone have earned their stripes in the kitchen because this was the most incredible pork crackling. Served alongside the rather intriguing name of forgotten cabbage, called so because it is quite literally left and forgotten about as it cooks above the slow cooking meat, absorbing all the meaty flavours and soaking up the butter that it was only a moment ago drowned in.  

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All washed down with a red velvet cake with cream cheese icing and cream cheese ice cream. The perfect American ending. Now normally I would urge you to go and try for yourself but on this occasion I can't. Sorry not sorry.  

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