$9 Pho?! 

Yep you read that right!

I promised you cheap food on my blog and boy have I delivered!

Hope everyone’s week is going well.

Colder weather equals pho weather.

Pho is a Vietnamese rice noodle soup usually made with raw beef and meatballs. Pho dac biet is the one with every topping possible (including tripe and tendon. My favourite!).  The soup is made using spices such as star anise, ginger, roasted onion, coriander seed, fennel and clove. The soup takes hours to make in order for all the flavours to come through and all that delicious. Again patience is key.

But hey, who has time to make their own pho from scratch? Also why bother when pho is only $9?!

This $9 Pho is a bit of a travel for most as this is located deep in the south west. But everyone knows – West is best! For food anyway.

The south west especially around the Cabramatta and Canley heights area is a Vietnamese hub. Every second shop guaranteed will be a Vietnamese restaurant specialising in pho.

Now this hidden treasure is in Canley heights. Though parking is quite a pain even on weekday afternoons. However bear with it and patience is key. It’ll all be worth it!

There are minimal lines if you get there before 6:30pm. Anything after that will require at least 15 minutes wait.

I don’t know about you but $9 is pretty damn good for a big bowl of pho (they don’t skimp out on anything). Have a look for yourself! I did also get goi cuon (rice paper rolls) and a lemon soda drink. The total was only $26. That’s peanuts!

I highly recommend you visit this place for a bowl of pho. Or to try out any of their other dishes.

It has become a weekly family tradition for me to have our weekly dose of pho from huong xua!

However it is noted that this special offer is only available Tuesday and Wednesdays and the catch is you can only choose TWO toppings for your pho. So sadly no pho dac biet!



If you are ever in the area. Please go visit this place 🙂

Cost: $9
Valid Tuesday and Wednesdays only.
Restaurant: Huong Xua
Location : 4/219 Canley Vale Road, Canley Heights (accessible by car or bus only. Probably at least a 20 minute walk from Canley vale station)
Opening hours : 9am – 10pm

Fun fact: they also do a pho challenge where you have to finish a 2.5kg bowl of pho within 11 minutes.  If you do, you get the meal free! I wish you luck..

Ciao for now!

Ally xx

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie…

That’s Amore.

Hello everyone,

Hope you are all well!

I remember I had a disagreement with my friend because I didn’t believe that in sometimes pizzas are referred to as pies.

Anyway, I have been in a bit of a cooking mood lately and decided to make these pizza’s the other day. It was the first time making the pizza dough from scratch so the whole time the dough was proofing I was praying I had the correct water temperature for the yeast to do its thing.

But low and behold, it turned out so wonderfully well! it was so unbelievably easy to make the dough that I’ll be doing this from now on as it’ll be 100% healthier than Dominos or Pizza hut (and cheaper).

Pizza dough Recipe:

I used the pizza dough recipe from Taste.com.au.

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/pizza-dough/61da0d5a-abe7-4a62-a805-c9c4a729d718

As you can see below, the above recipe yielded 3 pizza bases because I like a thick crust/base.

Basic tomato and basil sauce recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1kg tomatos
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2tsp salt
  • Fresh basil leaves (roughly chopped)

Method:

  1. Lightly score the tomatoes all the way around and place in a bowl of boiling water
  2. After about 5 minutes, rotate the tomatoes in the water.
  3. After 15 minutes, take out the tomatoes and peel off the skin. The skin should come off easily, if not place back into your boiling water for a while longer.
  4. Roughly chop and set aside.
  5. Cook down the garlic in a saucepan with the olive oil
  6. Place the tomatoes in the same saucepan with salt and simmer on low for 10 minutes until it thickens in consistency.
  7. Add the basil at the end to retain the colour and set aside.

The great thing about making pizzas at home is you can add whatever ingredients you like! On this particular day I was feeling Margherita pizzas. Therefore all I had to do was generously add my bocconcini to my pizzas. I also added fresh basil leaves to my pizza, however looking back, I will be adding the basil leaves once the pizzas are done in the oven as they had lost its colour in the cooking process. Lesson learnt but it still tasted amazing.

Side note: A quick and healthy snack is to skewer bocconcini, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil leaves and eat as is! You can also drizzle some balsamic vinegar if you’d like but I love the simplicity and freshness as it is. So tasty!

Cost: <$10. The most expensive parts of this would be the Bocconcini because I love cheese so much I bought AND used 3 tubs of it…

Let me know what your favourite pizza is!

Ally xx

The infamous Bondi to Bronte walk 

Well technically it’s the Bondi to Coogee walk but because I am that unfit that after just reaching Bronte, I called it a day and began my return walk to Bondi.

Hello everyone 👋

Hope everyone’s week is going well so far!

It’s going to be a rainy few days in Sydney. Perfect – just in time for the long weekend (why Sydney why?!). So, I thought what better than to reminisce on the sunnier times of Sydney.

The Bondi to Coogee walk is 6km (one way) and will take approximately 1 hour to walk (one way) along the narrow coastal footpaths. However it may take longer depending on the amount of people traffic who are going the opposite direction. It then becomes a game of ‘who is polite enough to let the other pass’. Most are friendly enough and will step aside however there are also large handfuls of groups where they believe they have the right of way. How frustrating – it’s so un-Australian.

Seeing as I only walked to Bronte, it took about 40 minutes return.

Along your scenic route which starts from the end of the beach closest to Bondi station, you will encounter the famous and most Instagrammed swimming pool – Bondi icebergs. Because who’s going to believe you were at Bondi unless you have photographic proof of the pool? The view overlooks the pool which is constantly sprayed by the oncoming waves from the sea and out towards the opposite end of Bondi Beach. It is a great people watching spot because you can see all the surfers ride the waves however it gets so congested with pedestrians that you really should move along.

The footpath leads along the coast under rock formations and up towards Tamarama beach. Did you know that surf club was featured in an ad for dulux (paint brand with the furry dog) ?

From there, there are enormous cliff faces overlooking the sea which are perfect for laying down on and soaking up the sun or grabbing a bite to eat. Just remember eber to bring a towel/blanket/jumper as the cliff face is quite uneven and not that comfortable to lay on unless you are sitting on something soft. It can also get quite wet from the sea mist

Once you have gotten sick of that sea side view and decide you want a change in scenery, continue walking along the footpath towards Bronte beach. Along the way there are exercise equipment and if you are lucky, you may even get a glimpse of a couple in the midst of their wedding photography.

This walk is dog friendly however please ensure that your dog is comfortable in crowded environments as the last thing you want is a terrified pooch.

All in all, it is a great way to spend your day!

 

Vivid Sydney

Hello everyone!

Sorry for my absence this week! my week has been crazy busy – but I have managed to fit some time in after work to check out the Vivid festival.

For those who do not know, Vivid is an annual light show in Sydney that happens for approximately 3 weeks usually between May – June. The entire CBD (and various other suburbs) are covered in light installations – some interactive. Of course there are always art projections on the Opera house and a light show on the Harbour Bridge.

Because this event is free (with the exception of some ticketed events and shows), thousands of people flock to Circular Quay to see the light show. Trying to get anywhere quick is impossible especially on weekends. My suggestion is if you do go to check this out, go on a week night because usually it will mainly be less crowded as families are less inclined to venture into the CBD on a weeknight.

That being said, I actually have no clue if there is a theme (besides light) for these vivid festivals.

I have only managed to visit the light show around CQ for now and will definitely be going to check out Martin Place and Barangaroo within the next week or so.

Let me know if you have been and which was your favourite installation this year! Mine was definitely the swing set behind Park Hyatt (right under the harbour bridge at the Rocks). The swings were illuminated and you would be able to sit on it while music plays depending on how fast/high you are swinging. If you are lucky (as a reward for waiting in line for at least 15 minutes) they perform a show with the mechanical swings where loud happy music plays and the swings rotate 360 degrees in various speeds all the while the lights change colours. It was my favourite part of vivid (and I’m in my 20s so kids will definitely love this).

Below are some photos from my visit. As it is winter, please ensure you rug up as it does get quite chilly !

For more information, visit:

Website : https://www.vividsydney.com
Cost: Free for most events
Duration: 26 May – 17 June

 

 

 

Recipe: Pork and Chive Dumplings

Hello everyone!

Lately I have been craving dumplings like all the time. Pretty sure I have been to a dumping joint at least 3 times in the past two weeks. I especially love the xiao long bao shanghainese dumplings – the pork dumplings with a pocket of soup inside.

So I thought why not make my own dumplings? It may not be as fancy as the xiao long bao’s but a dumpling is a dumpling.

Surprisingly, the dumplings were super easy to make and super cheap.

Preparation: ~ 1 hour
Yields: 30 dumplings
Cost: < $10

What you will need:

250 gms pork mince
1 stick of Celery or 1 carrot (diced finely)
2 sprigs of Spring onion (chopped finely)
2 tbsp Soy sauce
1 tsp corn flour
1 tbsp Sesame oil
1 packet of Gow Jee skin (found at your asian groceries in the fridge)

Step 1:
Combine all your ingredients together in a bowl (except for the Gow Jee pastry). Let filling marinate in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

Step 2:
Depending how good your judgement is, you may want to split the filling in 30 to ensure each dumpling is similar in size and to ensure even cooking.

Step 3:
Place approximately half a tbsp of your filling in the middle of the Gow Jee pastry. The key is to NOT overstuff otherwise your dumpling will struggle to close and may burst at the seams when cooking.

Step 4:
Fold your dumpling in half – generally fold upwards but this does not really matter as the Gow Jee pastry is circular in shape. Press the edges together, then pinch and fold along the  top edge. The shape of the Gow Jee is dependant on you – feel free to experiment as long as you don’t burst your dumpling in the process.

Tip: if you feel like your dumpling is not sticking together when folded, wet the edge with water before folding. This is activate the starch and assist with glueing the dumpling together.

Step 5:
Boil a pot of unsalted water, ensuring that there is sufficient space for your dumpling to float to the top.

Once water has boiled, place a few dumplings in (do not overcrowd) and stir lightly to ensure the dumpling does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Let boil until the dumpling floats to the top (~2minutes). Strain and set aside.

Note 1: Ensure not to pile your cooked dumplings on top of each other as they will stick together once cooled.

Note 2: If you have used carrots – depending on whether you like your carrots to have a bit of bite, strain immediately or let simmer for a while longer to ensure your carrots have softened.

Step 6:
Serve on its own immediately with soy sauce, vinegar or chilli soy sauce. Or whip up a quick broth to have dumpling soup (add noodles if you want)!

Once boiled, the dumplings will stay fresh in a container up to 4 days. I haven’t tried to freeze the dumplings as the dumplings are always demolished within two days.

Total cost of making 30 dumplings – approximately $10. The most expensive part of the meal was the pork mince which was about $5 for 500gms from Aldi.

What a cheap lunch/dinner! it is also extremely fun experimenting with different dumpling shapes and different fillings.

Let me know what your favourite dumplings are!

 

Until next time !

Alison x

 

 

 

 

Soul warming food

This title would have worked so much better if I had this in Seoul. It could’ve been ‘Seoul warming food’ haha!

Unfortunately, this scrumptious Korean meal was in Strathfield – at a lovely little restaurant right next to where Moochi used to be (remember that Froyo chain?! it hit peak popularity a few years back and left right and centre would be some sort of Froyo store. Then one by one they very quickly disappeared…).

Anyway, winter is coming *insert Game Of Thrones meme* in just over 2 weeks. As much as I love Summer, I do love winter. Wearing thick coats and scarves makes me feel like I’m wrapped in a cosy burrito all day long.

Even though it is currently Autumn, Sydneysiders are really starting to feel the cold and who doesn’t want some kind of stew/soup to keep them warm? and who would know best about comfort food but the Koreans themselves where they experience temperatures of  up to -10 degrees celsius for months!

IMG_0504IMG_0710

 

This lovely dish is called ‘Budae-jjigae’ aka ‘Army Stew’. This dish originated because of the scarce availability of food in Korea after the war. Luckily for them they had a huge surplus of military canned food and some genius came up with this!

It is basically a variety of ingredients cooked in a spicy soup over your own personal gas stove. Staple ingredients include ramen (instant noodle), dokkbokki (rice cake), spam, baked beans, tofu and sausages. Depending on the restaurant, this is customisable.

What makes this the perfect cold weather dish?

  1. It’s cooked right in front of you – well you cook it yourself (don’t be so lazy). You can savour the warmth of the gas stove while taking in the delicious aroma’s of the stew. Also, cooking on your own stovetop will ensure your soup never gets cold. Optimal temperature all the time!
  2. It has everything you want in it! It’s fully customisable with a variety of options available.
  3. Whats not to love?! Instant noodles *check*, Sausages *check*, Tofu *check*, chilli/spice *check*
  4. If you have a cold, the chilli in the stew will definitely clear your congested nose.
  5. During your dinner, the waitress/waiter will come over and refill your soup so you can slowly sip on the hot soup afterwards for free.
  6. The portion size is enormous – if you could finish this stew on your own…you deserve an award! I shared this dish with my boyfriend and boy, we were in food coma’s afterwards. We couldn’t even fit in dessert – and I love desserts!
  7. Its Korea’s version of the traditional chinese ‘steamboat’ aka 打邊爐. Mmmm. I am an ABC (Australian born chinese) therefore I have grown up eating steamboats and instant noodles my whole life and when I discovered Koreans had combined the two in a beautiful concoction, I was hooked!

As you can see, we did order a plate of chicken covered in cheese on the side – but this wasn’t necessary as the buddae-jiggae was plenty.

The rice they serve the stew with is a mixture of white rice and a handful of black rice – resulting in the beautiful purple colour with speckles of ‘black’ rice. Simple but super tasty when eaten in together with the stew.

Usually when eating at Korean restaurants, they never skimp out on the side dishes. My mum had actually once gotten full on the sides alone and had to doggy bag her main haha! Unfortunately at this restaurant, they did not provide side dishes. However they did give us a plate of kim chi – so I’m still happy with that!

I will definitely be going back to have this dish again over the winter months. A word of warning though – don’t gobble down the tofu straight out of the stew. You will burn your mouth (True experience… multiple times. It seems I’ll never learn to be patient when it comes to food)

Please let me know if you have had something similar to this before and what winter dishes are your favourite?

Mine is definitely homemade steamboat (打邊爐)!

Details on the delicious dish below:

Name: Alrose Garden
Location: 7-9 Churchill Avenue, Strathfield, Sydney, NSW (5 minute walk from Strathfield station)
Cost:  ~$45 for two. That’s only a bit over $20pp for dinner!

Until next time, thats all for now.

Ally.

The Secret Garden

The best things in life are free right?!

Have you ever been to the city CBD and just thought there is way too much hustle and bustle? People appearing to be rushing place to place, buildings left right and centre? Now imagine how great it’d be if there was just a place to sit down and gather your thoughts.

Well you’re in luck…Wendy Whiteley’s secret garden.

Located a short 10 minute walk from Milsons Point station, you will find yourself immersed in a variety of trees and flora. The best part is that it faces directly the city CBD.

IMG-20130928-WA0026IMG-20130928-WA0032IMG-20130928-WA0025

I strongly recommend spending your afternoon here – bring your own picnic mat and grab some groceries from the local supermarket, grab a book to read or just take a nap. There’s plenty of space so you can spend as much time here as you like! (That being said there are picnic tables available).

Speaking of, how great are picnics? You can customise everything you bring! You can even create your own cheese board if you want! By doing so it’ll be a lot more cost efficient (trust me). Why not surprise your date with a picnic basket that you’ve packed?! Or why not gather your friends and have a catch up over a basket of food? (sounds like heaven to me). Further, once you’ve finished snacking away, you can just lay back on your mat and soak up the sunshine. MMM pure bliss!

Note: There is next to no shelter besides the tree canopies, therefore please check the weather forecast being coming here. You don’t want to come here and only having to turn back because it started to rain! also, slip slop slap – no one wants to look like a burnt tomato the next day!

Once you have soaked up the suns rays and have had enough of the view (as if that’s possible), take a stroll down the stairs towards Lavender Bay. Here there is a ferry dock and also a path through to Luna Park.

From there you can walk along the bay past miniature sculptures and eventually heading back to Milsons Point ferry wharf where you can catch the ferry back to the city CBD or catch the train.

Thank you for reading and please comment below if you have ever been to the secret garden or plan on visiting any time soon! Trust me you will not be disappointed!

I’m also thinking of posting a blog post on tips on how to organise an amazing picnic. e.g. what to pack etc. Please let me know if you’d be interested in that!