An Underground Ming Experience – Things locals do in Sydney!

Uncle Ming's Things to do in Sydney

Sydney is flooded with awesome underground bars – from Baxter’s Inn a 1920s prohibition bar to Shady Pines a laidback North American Saloon, nearly every block in the city has a nondescript door behind which, a dimly lit room, with period music and wall furnishings is pulsating with the unusual mix of hipsters and suits. To a local Sydneysider the underground bar phenomena has long since merged from being a phase to being the norm, whether you stumble across them by accident or purposely seek them out, the search for that nondescript door has become a part of the going out process!

Uncle Ming’s may be my new favourite underground bar – and not just because they serve dumplings! Like all Sydney underground bars there isn’t much signage to indicate its location, peering into alleyways and pressing your ear up against doors is part of the adventure of finding it… OR you can follow my instructions.

Finding Uncle Ming’s is easy as it’s located at 55 York street underneath a suit shop one block down from Wynyard Station. There is a New York style stairway that leads down below the street where you will find a door covered in beads… this is Uncle Ming’s.

Uncle Ming's Things to do in Sydney

Once you step through the beads you can be forgiven for thinking that you are in the wrong place on account of the very dim lighting. But take a breath and walk carefully (so as you don’t bump into any furniture or people) your eyes will adjust shortly and then through the darkness you will see some of the amazing artefacts and paintings that adorn the walls.

Pull up a stool and spend some time perusing the menu, don’t just hastily flick through it until you find your regular beer. The descriptions of the cocktails that are on offer by the teapot are part of the full Uncle Ming’s experience.

How about a Senor Chang – cinnamon infused espolon + agave + pineapple + mint
Uncle Ming spent time in field of Tequila. Uncle like what he see, Uncle goes on to create the first Margarita! What a guy! Uncle not even Mexican.

Or maybe you feel like a Tokyo Rose – tanqueray gin + rose + yuzu + lemon + soda
Aunty Ming is florist. She put Rose inside teapot one day that Uncle drinks. Uncle once again take credit. This drink has nothing to do with Tokyo.

Uncle Ming's Things to do in Sydney

While you wait for your teapot of cocktails to be delivered snack on the ridiculously Moorish and tasty deep-fried edamame bean chips. Also spend some time watching the crowd, the red dimmed lights make you feel as though you are more isolated from the rest of the room than you actually are.

After a couple of teapots you will feel Uncle Ming’s magic starting to flow to your head – it’s about this time that you should make the sensible decision and order yourself some dumplings. There are more than enough per serve to make sharing an enjoyable experience.  Being completely candid – these are not the best Dumplings around, especially not as Sydney has so many great options, I did enjoy them though and they definitely hit the spot.  In particular, I enjoyed the pork ones, though the chicken ones left a little to be desired, the vegetable ones were great but could have used a little more filling.

Uncle Ming's Things to do in Sydney

Once gorged, sit back and relax, order some more teapots and hope that it isn’t still daylight outside as heading back into the real world will seriously distort your eyeballs!

Japadog – A Deliciously Reluctant Review

Japadog - Things to do and eat in Vancouver

Fusion food, sometimes it’s the best thing in the world… other times not so great.  Deep frying a mars bar was pure genius, while the desert “pizza” has always been a complete disaster (yet you still find it on the menu – why!?!?!)

If Vancouver has a food identity it definitely centres around fusion food, after all their national dish is poutine, a combination of the English chips and gravy and nachos, best enjoyed at 3am when your stomach is full of beer and wine. But a new craze has swept the city in the past ten years becoming a new institution and landmark must try when you are in the city.

I have tried in vain not to write another post about food – however the memories of this Vancouver staple have been seeping into my dreams and have forced my hand (no pun intended)

I am, of course, talking about Japadog! 

Japadog - Things to do and eat in Vancouver

Tell me about it: This unique fast food started out as a simple food cart on the streets of Vancouver.  It later became so popular that it opened up another stand in New York and in LA (however due to spreading resources rather thin, it closed down its stand in New York last year).  The food itself is completely unique being a fusion between Japanese styles such as okonomiyaki and teriyaki crossed with the infamous north American fast food – the hot dog. Most if the stores are food carts that are strategically placed around Vancouver. However there is one restaurant which serves a wider variety of choice including fries.

Now I know what you are thinking.  Your stomach is clenching and you are trying not to imagine what that might taste like.  I was exactly the same, I just couldn’t get my head around how that would taste.  To begin with I am not the biggest fan of hot dogs (processed meat kinda creeps me out) and Japanese is one of my favorite cuisines.  I was scared that in crossing the two I would not only be sick, but turned off wasabi for life (a horrifying thought).

My concern was completely unfounded – in fact after two bites I had quickly decided that it was one of the best things I had ever eaten.

Once when I was about to go on a “gorgefest”, a friend gave me a great piece of advice. She simply asked “will you remember this meal in a weeks’ time?” looking up at the McDonald’s menu I knew for certain that I would forget, if not repress, the memory of that particular meal.  To which she followed up with “then why eat something awful, your food should always be delightful and memorable, it doesn’t have to be the ultimate healthy food, you should just love it” so instead, that day we treated ourselves to a delicious Italian pasta (which I still remember).

My point is that two months later, I haven’t been able to suppress the urge to write a glowing review on Japadog because the memory of those first few bites is still so fresh and mouth-watering!

First Taste at the Robson Restaurant

Japadog - Things to do and eat in Vancouver

Tonkatsu: Deep fried pork cutlet marinated in tonkatsu sauce topped with fresh cabbage.

The bun was fluffy and fresh but without that sweet metallic cakey taste that most fast food buns have (cough… Subway… McDonald’s… cough). The pork was lean and without any gristle or fat, indicating that they weren’t just serving any old cut on their buns.  Then it was deep-fried to perfection with a crispy crunch outer and a lush and juicy meaty centre.  The cabbage was crispy and fresh which perfectly soaked up the tonkatsu sauce, pulling it through the whole bun.  I had a side of shaky fries to go with this – basically fries that are shaken in a bag of a collection of spices, garlic and salt – DELICIOUS!

Second Taste at the Burrard and Smithe St Stand

Japadog - Kobe Beef. Things to do and eat in Vancouver

Kobe Beef: Kobe beef in a hotdog. Flavors are enhanced with the best selected ketchup from Japan, and the maple leaf shaped bean curd.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed my second hot dog, my first choice was still my favourite.  The hotdog was perfectly cooked and the strange wasbi flavoured mustard/ketchup was so tantalising that I licked my fingers to catch every drip.  Not to mention the beautiful presentation with the bean curd sauce made it feel like I was eating something that had taken a lot longer than 5 minutes to prepare.  But my favourite part was experiencing the novelty of the hotdog food cart, then sitting in the sun while I stuffed my face watching others struggle to choose which one they should eat.

Japadog - Things to do and eat in Vancouver

I keep googling Japadog store locations on the hope that they will now open a store in Sydney – they would definitely find an appreciative market… even if I have to visit them everyday to keep them in business!!

GRANVILLE RED SALMON THAI CURRY: A recipe for winning friends at your hostel

When staying in hostels and eating on the cheap it’s not always easy to eat healthy – especially as you spend so much of your time out exploring.  If you are chilling out in Vancouver and can take your eyes off the beautiful scenery for a few moments here is a great way to combine some sightseeing with some healthy and cheap eating.

If you haven’t already read or heard about Granville island then you better get back to your guide-book and do some proper research – because this is one of the must visit places in Vancouver, Canada.

GRANVILLE RED SALMON THAI CURRY: A recipe for winning friends at your hostel

A little history for you: As Vancouver started to grow across the bay in what is now known as Gas Town – Granville Island was a small mill town. Over the next century many trades took up residence here as it stayed a predominantly industrial area despite the city popping up around it.  During WWII it was the busiest part of the city with the factories turning out equipment at all hours of the day. But in the late 70s as the district had almost completely declined and become dilapidated a revival or a “gentrification” of the area was called for.  Now the old industrial buildings hold everything from art studios, luxury yacht ship yards and the famous fresh food markets as well as a loads of great shops.

GRANVILLE RED SALMON THAI CURRY: A recipe for winning friends at your hostel

You can catch a water bus over from the city which costs about $7 or you can walk across the Granville Bridge which takes about 15 minutes and has spectacular views of the Burrard Bridge complete with jutting mountains and shinning city. Once there it is hard not to get side-tracked by the street performers that are monopolising the square – old fashioned sword swallowers are making a comeback though they compete for the crowd against some ethereal Canadian folk singers and teenage comedians.

Break away from the courageous people who make a spectacle of themselves for your entertainment and head into the giant food market.  Just inside the doors you will probably stop and blink while taking a few deep breaths to steady yourself.GRANVILLE RED SALMON THAI CURRY: A recipe for winning friends at your hostel

Your eyes have been assaulted by the amount of colour and your stomach has just been reminded by the wafting combination of smells that you could eat (even if you are full, being around so much amazing food will make you feel as though you “could” eat).

What to eat: You could visit the “food court” style area and try some of the amazing pre-made dishes such as Mexican (always my favourite), Chinese, salads and spectacular pizza. You could visit various delicatessen’s and other stalls to pull together an amazing picnic assortment of yummy. You could do some shopping for a delicious dinner that will treat your friends back at the hostel or the friend whose floor you have been crashing on for the last week. Finally, you can do what I did, and do all three options… I meant it when I said your body seems to make room for more food when you are there… my stomach turned into a Marry Poppins bag.

A cheese and wine picnic

A cheese and wine picnic

GRANVILLE RED SALMON THAI CURRY: A recipe for winning friends at your hostel or buying off the friend who has lent you her floor. Feeds four… or more if you have stuffed yourselves at the markets and only want a small light dinner.

Equipment Required: All of the below are fairly easy to come by or you can improvise with what you do have

  • A stove top
  • Large frying pan or wide saucepan – a wok will also do if you are improvising
  • A knife
  • Chopping board
  • A smaller saucepan (for cooking rice)
  • A colander (if you don’t have one, use a lid or plate to help you drain out the excess water – just remember to wrap your hand in a tea towel or your sleeves first to avoid steam burns)

Ingredients: Total cost: With Wild Salmon $36 or $9 if you split the cost in four. With Chicken $22 or $5.5 if you split the cost in four.

GRANVILLE RED SALMON THAI CURRY: A recipe for winning friends at your hostel

  • Salmon: $20 (Because I was in Canada I really wanted to make a dish with Wild Salmon as I have only ever eaten farmed salmon, I definitely have to say that there is a huge difference in taste and colour as well as the obvious environmental impact.  This was a huge expense that I would have avoided if I hadn’t been saving money by crashing at a friend’s place.  So the cheaper version is to do everything the same but with chicken which you can still buy at the market for $6 for two large breasts.)
  • Variety of Vegetables: $9.25 (this is really up to your taste buds and what’s in season. The only required vegetable is a brown onion, for the rest I pick about 6 different vegetables that are colourful and crunchy such as asparagus, capsicum, zucchini, broccoli, celery and cheery tomato’s.  I also wanted to get some bok-choy but it wasn’t the best quality so I gave it a miss in favour of other more ripe vegetables)
  • Red Curry Paste and Coconut Milk: $3.75 (there is a great Asian spice market in the middle, they have everything at great prices)
  • Brown Rice: I’m not sure how much this is as my friend had it in her pantry, but I don’t imagine its more that $3 (you can also tie the bag of rice up with a hair tie… or a rubber band if you are super fancy, and take it with you to the next hostel for another meal.)

Instructions:

Step One: Put the water for your rice onto boil

Step Two: I like everything to be prepared before I cook anything so I spend a chunk of time chopping things up before hand (this also allows for me to enjoy a glass of wine and some gossiping when the actual cooking process is in motion).  Finely chop the onions and keep separate.  Chop up all of your other vegetables, I like to cut them into different sizes and shapes so that there is a little more “fun” when eating, leave them together – if you have bok-choy cut off the leafy bits and move to one side.  Chop up your salmon or chicken into chunks, not too small, you want them to be nice big meaty pieces.

Step Three: Once everything is prepared get your rice into the boiling water. When the rice is almost cooker – or you can wait until its fully cooked – you can start cooking.  The dish doesn’t take very long to make that’s why I don’t start until the rice is ready so you don’t over cook the vegetable and have them turn mushy and floppy.

Step Four: Brown the onions in the large saucepan/frying pan/wok.

Step Five: Throw in the salmon or chicken.  If you are using salmon, turn the pieces GRANVILLE RED SALMON THAI CURRY: A recipe for winning friends at your hostelgently until they are all sealed but don’t over cook.  If you are using chicken you will need a little longer as you will want to make sure the chicken is cooked all the way through.

Step Six: Throw in your vegetables and toss everything together

Step Seven: Add in your curry paste – see packet for instructions in relation to amount.  Because I like my curry strong and jam-packed full of flavour I always do more than the suggested amount, but if you aren’t big on the “curry” flavour you could do less. Ensure that all of the vegetables and the salmon are coated in the paste.

Step Eight: Add in the coconut milk slowly – stirring as you go.  I would turn the heat down at this point so the milk gently simmers.  Once again pour as much as you like, I like my Thai Curries really runny as I like to drink the sauce, however if you prefer a thicker constancy don’t add as much milk. Leave to simmer for about 2 minutes.

Step Nine: Serve on top of the brown rice and eat!

GRANVILLE RED SALMON THAI CURRY: A recipe for winning friends at your hostel

If this doesn’t make you the most popular person in the hostel then nothing will – you are beyond help. It is also a wonderful way to catch up with that great friend who put you up – especially if you also have some wine and a sunny balcony to relax on.

A Cubano Inspired Night Out!

Cuban Food - thelitebackpacker.com

The dream of doing the great American Road trip has been instilled in me ever since I saw Thelma and Louise. I was romanced by the red deserts, long highways, truck stops, shady saloons and of course Brad Pitt.  Since that first piece of wanderlust was embedded many other films have fanned the flame, including the film I saw this week while in America – Chef. (I always go and see a film while I am travelling – it’s a great way to have a “quiet” night while still doing something that locals would do – plus I love seeing what different places offer at their cinema “snacks”)

Chef which was written, produced and starred Jon Favreau and is a feel good family film that explores what happens when the main character looses his passion and integrity. He  discovers that the best way to reignite those paths is to get back in touch with his family and love of food.  Along the way there are cameos from Scarlet Johansson and Robert Downey Jn and many others who caused me to grip my friends arm and say “oooo that’s the guy out of…” while she shushed me.

As Chef Carl Casper travels from Miami to LA in a food truck, using twitter to promote his food we are given a taste of America’s south through vivid colours and mouth-watering food images.

By the time I walked out of the theatre I was hungry (which was surprising considering the amount of maltesers I had consumed through the film) – but I was hungry for something specific, a Cubano Sandwich. I confessed to my friend that I had never tried one – or any Cuban food for that matter.  She looked at me in horror and decided that my stay in America would not be complete without some margaritas and a Cubano Sandwich.

The next night we headed to La Bodeguita del Medio in Palo Alto (Silicon Valley) – it was chosen due to its rave reviews ion Yelp (if you are travelling to San Francisco download Yelp as its a great app for finding the best restaurants and things to do!).

Due to the level of anticipation and hunger we turned up at the restaurant rather early, and as it was mid-week thought that the place would have been empty.  Oh how wrong we were, the place was packed and there was already a wait for tables.  Luckily the sun was still shining so we opted to eat outside.

We poured over the menu while sipping on Margaritas – none of the names looked familiar so my friend graciously explained each delicious item to me. Finally we narrowed down our selection and placed our order – when we had finished our waitress commented “Are you sure, that’s a lot of food, you may not be able to finish it” – while this made us nervous that we were about to eat till we exploded we decided to keep our order and push through.

Cuban Food - thelitebackpacker.com

The first items to come out was the Shrimp Ceviche and Plantain Crusted Goats Cheese Salad. I have had Ceviche before but not like this – it was a fresh and complex, leaving me wondering with each bite what exactly was in the sauce.  The salad was one of my favourite items (it could be because it has cheese in it and we all know how I feel about that) – I am not sure what Plantain is, though my friend described it as a banana thing… whatever it was it was crispy and full of flavour that perfectly offset the goats cheese.

Cuban Food - thelitebackpacker.com

Next we dug into the Masitas which was shredded pork with rice and beans – however that description is way to simple for what we ate.  The pork was slow cooked in all manner of juices and spices that my inexperienced tongue couldn’t decipher, I almost wanted to suck the flavour out of the pork just to savour it for longer.

Cuban Food - thelitebackpacker.com

Finally we finished with the Cubano Sandwich.  It not only lived up to expectations but it blew them out of the park.  After watching how a Cubano should be made in the movie I was gratified to see that all of the elements that Chef Carl Casper had stressed had been adhered to. The moist pork coupled with the smokey bacon, a generous helping of mustard all coated in a gooey layer of melted cheese.  All of this sat on a perfectly butter glazed bun.

It was very lucky that we were sharing as otherwise I would definitely have exploded.  As it was I was pleasantly full – top button of my jeans did have to be undone and I did waddle to the car at a very slow pace, but it was worth every bite! Thanks for the recommendation Jon Favreau

Prawn Salad – for your Inner Seafood Traveller!

My Perfect Fish!

My Perfect Fish!

Seafood! Do I need to say more? I probably do as you may just be left with that one word echoing through your brain causing tidal waves of cravings and not knowing why.  I can’t promise that by the end of this post that you won’t be craving seafood – but at least you may know why.

Seafood – is my universal travel food (I include fresh water varieties as well – is there a word that includes freshwater fish and crustaceans?). All over the world you are able to find delicious variants of seafood dishes, cooked in a myriad of ways with an assortment of tasty accompaniments – you can never go wrong by choosing a local seafood dish.

Seafood has become such a big part of my travelling experience that I have to remember not to base a whole place on my seafood experience. In saying that – other times a place has been made even tastier due to a particular seafood dish that has stuck in my memory long after I have moved onto the next location.

Fish Tacos: Soaking in chilli, garlic and lime juice!

Fish Tacos: Soaking in chilli, garlic and lime juice!

  • Mussels Spaghetti in a hidden lane way lost in Croatia
A relaxing lunch!

A relaxing lunch!

  • Fresh crab sandwich with English cheese in Dorset, England

 

Crab, Cheese and Cornish Pasties - Doreset

Crab, Cheese and Cornish Pasties – Dorset

The best thing about seafood is that it has many health benefits as well – high in Omega 3, its low in fat, high in protein and has loads of amazing vitamins and minerals. Some studies even claim that oysters and prawns act as aphrodisiacs (which may be some sort of benefit, not necessarily a healthy one). So after being delicious it is also good for you!

Then there is the added bonus that when you eat traditional seafood dishes they are generally the freshest thing on the menu.

Fish Markets Sapa, Vietnam

Fish Markets Sapa, Vietnam

Fish doesn’t keep well as most cultures probably worked out back in the dark ages and so the seafood meals you are served are generally created using what is caught and sold locally (unless of course you are travelling through a supermarket based culture and then… well its anyones game!)

Is it any wonder that seafood is my number one choice when travelling? How can you go past bamboo baked fish, tuna pate or fresh oysters?

This Easter weekend I have escaped Sydney in favour of the surf town of Gerringong – famous for having the largest surf store in Australia as well as several perfectly pristine beaches. So of course I a must indulge in a little locally caught seafood – what kind of trip would this be if I didn’t? Here is a quick recipe that you can whip up to embrace your inner seafood traveller.

Prawn and Mango Salad

Ingredients:

Prawn Salad

  • Locally caught prawns (head to the Kiama Fish Shop for the best local produce – though check with a local before you make the trip as it has spontaneous opening hours, dependant on when a catch comes in)
  • 1 mango – cubed
  • 1 avocado – cubed
  • 1 red chill – diced
  • iceberg or cos lettuce leaves
  • Thousand island dressing (if you don’t have thousand island dressing mix one tbs or mayonnaise, one tbs of tomato sauce and a healthy shake of tobacco sauce together)

Prawn Salad

Directions:

  • Shell the prawns and chop into rough bite size pieces
  • Place all items in a bowl and mix except for lettuce
  • Spoon the mixture into the lettuce leaves to serve.

Prawn Salad

 

 

 

Tastebud adventures at home!

I am a sucker for the travel quizzes that go round Facebook, Twitter… well pretty much anywhere on the internet.  Its one of the few times my competitive side comes to the surface, I like to see if I can beat my well-travelled mother.  9/10 times I don’t come anywhere close, but on the Facebook Travel Food List challenge I beat her by two!

After I texted and emailed Mum to gloat, I went back over the list remembering all of the amazing places that I had eaten. What shocked me though was how many of them were had at home and not in an exotic destination.

Ultimately this is a testament to globalisation of the foodies who have been ensuring that good quality and relatively authentic cuisine can be found almost anywhere. You can now find chicken foot soup or Pho at any quality Vietnamese restaurant. Does this take out some of the romance of the travel experience? If I can have a spectacular Pad See Ew right here in Coogee is there much point in hoping on a plane to Thailand to taste the “real” thing?

Obviously the true travel foodie will tell you that there is so much more to the eating experience than just the taste (though of course that’s important) – you have the smells, the local atmosphere, the opportunity to try something completely different off the a menu written in another language (may not even be the thing you thought it would be – nothing beats a food surprise) and of course the closer you are to the birthplace of a dish the better it is.

And yet I am still dubious as some of the best food moments I have had have been at home (thanks mum)!

Meals I had at home (I have had some of these while travelling as well but my first bite was at home)

  1. Baba Ghanoush (local Thai and Turkish takeaway – you may think that’s a bad mix but it was oh so good!)
  2. Bagel and Lox
  3. Baklava
  4. Barbecue Ribs

    Family BBQ Rib Time

    Family BBQ Rib Time

  5. Black Pudding (I didn’t like it, which I think broke my Grandfathers heart)
  6. Bread Pudding
  7. Calamari (every time I go to the pub!)
  8. Caviar
  9. Chicken Tikka Masala
  10. Cognac
  11. Crab Cakes (The Thai version are the best)
  12. Eel (Actually had this for the first time the other day at my favourite sushi/karaoke bar)
  13. Eggs Benedict
  14. Fresh Spring Rolls (can’t remember the first time I had these – or the first time I made them, but oh so delicious!)
  15. Goat – (My grandmother made me goat stew the other week – I loved it!)
  16. Goat’s Milk (Also good to add into a bath for a moisturising moment)
  17. Gumbo (My step father cooked this for me just a few weeks ago)
  18. Heirloom Tomatoes (can get them at most supermarkets… why are they on this list?)
  19. Honeycomb (What child who loves honey hasn’t tried honeycomb…?)
  20. Kangaroo (Eh…I’m Australian!)

    Homemade Kangaroo Burgers

    Homemade Kangaroo Burgers

  21. Kobe Beef
  22. Lobster (Sydney fish markets all the way)
  23. Paneer
  24. Pavlova (Is this an Australian thing – why is this on the list – I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had pavlova??)
  25. Pistachio Ice Cream (Messina’s anyone)
  26. Polenta (This is in other people’s supermarkets right?)
  27. Prickly Pear (Thanks mum)
  28. Rabbit Stew (my Grandmother tricked me with this one – she told me it was chicken)
  29. Raw Oysters
  30. Soft Shell Crab
  31. Sweet Potato Fries (Isn’t this a normal thing?)
  32. Zucchini Flowers

Meals I had while travelling

  1. Alligator (in a pub on the island of Langkawi where the expat owner convinced me to try his “Everything stew” which included alligator, ox tail, chickens feet… and some other things I would rather not know)
  2. Borscht (By a lake in Oregon with my friends family)
  3. Fish Tacos (At Fred’s Tacos in downtown SD – I have never looked back)
  4. Frogs’ Legs (In Hanoi – Vietnamese style with loads of garlic and chilli)
  5. Goulash (One of those perfect travel moments – in Prague old city as a two for one special)
  6. Paella (In Barcelona sitting in the sun… I didn’t like it much… still not the biggest fan)
  7. Pho (In Saigon actually – but I could have had it sooner if I hadn’t been such a fussy eater before my first trip to Vietnam)

    Pho 2000 - Saigon

    Pho 2000 – Saigon

  8. Sauerkraut
  9. Snail (In Vietnam – with loads of garlic)
  10. Tom Yum (Langkawai – the ultimate tropical paradise)

So of the 42 delicious (and some not so delicious) items on the list most I had eaten at home. However this does mean that there are 58 items on the list that I will have to travel somewhere to eat.  After all I have never heard of Umeboshi and I am not even sure where you would eat Squirrel. Spam and Sweetbreads… I think I will continue to pass on though.

Take the quiz and let me know how you go?

A Sandwich Break in Tasmania

Today is one of those days where my lunch really wasn’t satisfying.  I spent half the afternoon clock watching as my tummy rumbled in annoyance.  I could have walked out of my work and bought a chocolate at the corner store but as I am lazy and saving all of my pennies I thought it best to sit and suffer.

It’s a weird kind of torture that your mind does when you are hungry – it seems to pull up memories of all of those delicious meals that you wish you could be eating right at that point.

Just before Christmas a friend and I popped to Hobart in Tasmania for a weekend – for no other reason than I scored some cheap flights way back in March (sometimes dirt cheap flights just need to be purchased).  Despite it being summer and nearly 30 degrees every day in Sydney – Tasmania was cold… really cold.  I was not dressed appropriately.

Tasmania is famous for being cold, but it is also famous for its nature and beer, as such we had booked on an extreme mountain bike ride down mt wellington which would take us past the Cascade Beer factory.

Mt Wellington

Mt Wellington quick facts: Its only 1,271 meters tall but is often snow-capped even in summer.  One side of it Is almost sheer rock – this is also the side where the road is cut in.  The lower parts of the mountain are covered in lush forest which changes to more barren and stunted trees as you get higher before finally the trees recede all together leaving nothing but rock and brush to cut down the wind. The views are amazing!

It was a balmy 7 degrees and was occasionally spitting with rain – I was most definitely going to freeze.  To put off the inevitable death and in an effort to give ourselves some energy so our bodies could maintain body heat in the extreme conditions we went in search of lunch.

Almost by accident we stumbled on the amazing bakery/patisserie Daci & Daci on Murray St right near the harbour and the famous Mona pick up location. Although there was outside seating there was pretty much no one sitting there on account of it being freezing, yet we were drawn in by the soft warm lighting, wooden floors and of course – the smell of fresh bread! 

Daci & DaciNot only was my nose confronted by the amazing aroma but my eyes almost fell out of my head as they goggled all of the deliciously positioned pastries, sandwiches and cakes.  Sometimes I suffer from the affliction “eyes bigger than my stomach” and due to the amount of amazing food I could see in front of me I was determined not to over indulge.

Freshly baked bread at Daci & Daci

Freshly baked bread at Daci & Daci

After careful consideration I selected a sandwich while my friend selected a tart. We chose a table by the window so that we could watch the local Tasmanian’s hurry past on their way to work.

When the food was placed in front of us by one of the many and very competent wait staff I had another mouth hanging open with drool slipping out moment.

The bread was crusty and soft, the ham salty and flavoursome.  Yet the best bit was the pear and tomato chutney that some how gave it just that edge of sweetness with a little bit of spice and the moisture to cut through the doh of the bread.  I tried to eat it slowly to savour every mouthful… I failed and shoved it in as quick as possible.

Smoked ham and jarldsberg cheese with pear and tomato chutney and rocket

Smoked ham and jarldsberg cheese with pear and tomato chutney and rocket

Once we had finished we were still hungry – ok maybe we weren’t “hungry” but we hadn’t satisfied our sweet cravings.  Everyone knows that we have a separate stomach specifically for desert, you can eat as much as you want for main and still fit in desert in this spare stomach.

After careful consideration of all of the delicious goodies, weighing up between fruit tarts and cheese cakes, eclairs and pastries – it wasn’t an easy choice – finally we decided on a banoffee tart with pop corn on top. I can’t describe it because you can’t describe a little slice of desert heaven!

Banoffee Tart

Banoffee Tart with Pop Corn

Next time you are down South head to Daci & Daci – made the descent in the freezing cold manageable.