Monday, February 21, 2011

Bayside Lounge and Passello Restaurant Darling Harbour

On Saturday, I went in to Darling Harbour for the Reed Gift Fair, a trade event, for my craft business, Cassis Craft. After an exhausting, brain exploding day, Greg and the girls came in to pick me up and to enjoy an early dinner out in the city.

While waiting for them, I wanted something refreshing and light so I plonked my blistered and tired feet in the Bayside Lounge at about 3.30pm. I thought a nice glass of mineral water, a coffee and a snack would be fabulous. Well, the snack was near impossible as they close the kitchen at 4pm (the trade fair is on until 6pm yet they still closed) so I opted for the parmesan and rocket salad with balsamic dressing. It was quite nice, with a good serving of cheese but the dressing was a little sweet for my liking. 

I'm an espresso drinker and it's fascinating how few places can produce a good one. You would think that since this is the base of all coffees, then it would be quite simple. I have been served long blacks, asked to explain what it is, had the crema poured off and even questioned why I wouldn't like milk in it! When this one arrived with what looked like a little glass of water, I was quite excited as traditionally, that is how it should be served. After drinking my quite nice, slightly bitter (as I like it) coffee, I nearly spat the contents of the glass out over the table! It was lemonade! Who serves lemonade with a coffee??? As for the service and trying to pay my bill, I could have walked out without paying and none of the staff would probably have noticed.

By that time, my beautiful family had arrived with some different shoes for me so we offloaded my catalogue laden bags in the car and went for a wander around and looked for somewhere for dinner. There are so many options at Darling Harbour so we perused the menus, looked at what others were eating and finally decided on Passello, an Italian restaurant with a head waiter with a lovely smile. :)

To keep it simple, we ordered garlic bread and marinated olives for starters and 2 pizzas for main. Greg had a Peroni beer, I had a glass of sparkling wine and of course, the girls had water.

To start, the drinks took ages to come and it wasn't busy. To say the strawberry served on the rim of my champagne glass was should not have been allowed past the counter is an understatement. The second one wasn't much better and she obviously had trouble cutting it! Greg's beer at $8.50 on the menu was rip off as it was one of those International beers with the International label but brewed under licence here in Australia. How restaurants get away with classing it as an International beer then I do not know or understand.


  
Dodgy Strawberry #1
Dodgy Strawberry #2





















The garlic bread and olives were nice, nothing out of this world though.

Garlic Bread

Marinated Olives

Before the plates had even been cleared, the pizzas arrived so Greg helped clear the plates to an adjacent table. We had the Passello Special and the Frutti di Mare. The Frutti di Mare was lovely and the fresh tomato and basil were lovely. The Passello Special wasn't so special but nice. The crusts were lovely and thin and crunchy :)

Frutti di Mare

Passello Special

While not blown away by the experience, it was lovely to be eating alfresco and somewhere other than the usual local haunts. We did notice during the night that the food must have been very salty as we were all up having drinks of water and experiencing weird dreams! Not sure we'd go again but given the number of restaurants down there, probably don't need to!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sultana and Cinnamon Pikelets



Sultana and Cinnamon Pikelets


These school friendly pikelets have a good dash of cinnamon which is thought to be good for circulation and for maintaining stable blood sugars - it also tastes great! They are sweet but contain no processed powdered sugar. I made them with goat milk but we have found rice and oat milks taste great in pikelets / pancakes too.

This recipe makes about 16 largish pikelets. I used a tin of baby food apple. The amount of milk needed will depend on how thick you want the pikelets, what sort of milk is used (less low fat needed) and the type of flour but at least 1 cup is needed. They can be made dairy free by substituting non-dairy milk and spread.

RECIPE

Ingredients

150g unbleached plain flour
150g wholemeal flour
3 tspns baking powder
2 eggs, beaten lightly
120g (1 small tin) apple purée
50g melted butter
milk

Method


  • Sift flours and baking powder together into a bowl and make a well.
  • Add eggs, apple and cooled butter into the well.
  • Begin to stir with a fork, slowly adding the milk until the desired consistency of the batter is obtained.
  • Over medium heat, drop spoonfuls of batter into a non-stick or greased frying pan.
  • When bubbles appear on the surface, flip over and cook through the other side.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Lunch Box Zucchini Frittatas

Zucchini Frittatas


The girls LOVE frittatas for lunch at school so these are the latest ones. I used to do quiches with shortcrust or filo pastry but we discovered the pastry would go soggy in the lunch box. Amy will only eat zucchinis if they are grated and when they are she loves them. I've used goat cheese as we are now all on goat dairy products rather than cow. I can't believe that even I am enjoying it! I freeze most of the frittatas to defrost in their lunchboxes by lunchtime. Served with a chopped salad.


RECIPE - Makes 12

Ingredients

8 eggs
100g grated cheese
250g grated zucchini (about 3 small)
1 tomato
pepper


Method

  • Whisk eggs in a bowl.
  • Add cheese, zucchini and pepper to taste.
  • Pour into a 12 hole muffin tin.
  • Place a slice of tomato on the top of each.
  • Bake at 180ºC for 15-20 minutes until set and golden on top.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

School - Rant Alert!

I need to rant, vent and try to calm down. All input on thoughts are appreciated, even opposing views. I may even offend people with my views, but that isn't anything new! I may even go in circles as I write, but that is the reflection of what my brain is doing getting worked up about all this.

We're back at school and into the routine now. Sophie has now started school so it's lunches to go for 2 each morning. Morning tea, lunches and water bottles are packed each day and a lot of thought goes into what I send with the girls. I want them to take a healthy, balanced lot of food to school; protein carbohydrates, fruit, fats etc etc.

But no nuts allowed.

Hmm.

We eat a lot of nuts, foods based on nuts and I think they are such a wonderful source of protein, carbs, fibre, fats, calcium. They can be packed in a lunch box without fear of bacterial contamination or going soggy. 

I understand that there is a very small percentage of children with allergies but I am not sending these foods to be eaten by them. I do not want my children to share their food with anyone and I would assume that the school would tell the children that they shouldn't be sharing their food. These children would be exposed to their allergens in so many places; shopping centres, parks, buses, why does school have to be so different? Are they not told by their parents that they have to be careful? Sophie knows she can't have any cow milk products and she is so good about asking even when I am not around. At parties she asks and then doesn't have those foods with it in.

Where will the list end? What about eggs, dairy, soy, other legumes? Peanuts are a legume not a nut after all. Why do kids without a problem need to change their diets? For those with dairy problems, nuts are a wonderful substitute.

What about vegans and raw foodists? Vegetarians? Other cultures that also eat a lot of nut based foods?

It's interesting that on the DET website (of course I can't find the link now) the nut free is only a recommendation and they can't enforce it. So why make it sound like it is a rule that must be followed? Last year the school said peanuts but a note has come home from the class teachers including tree nuts.

Then there's the practice of birthday parties at school. I'm sorry, but aren't birthday parties for the parents to organise and hold? The number of cakes brought to school and lolly bags handed out is appalling! I object but what can I do? Look like the party pooper parent?  We can't send nuts for our own child to eat but we can send cakes and lollies for everyone to share. But write the ingredient list down for the teacher. If everyone in the class were to do it, that's approximately a party and a lolly bag every 2 weeks, more often in higher years. Let's give the kids sugar at school so they can have a sugar crash later. My girls do not do well on sugar so we don't eat much food with it added, which is another reason I love nuts! If it's the parents organising and holding the party in their own time, I have no problem and I can work the food for the rest of the day around it. Plus on a weekend, they don't need to have such good concentration.

You can't buy cakes, biscuits or lollies at the school canteen as they are red foods which are allowed once a term. No problems, just bring them to school to share around. Stop the sharing of any food! The note that has come home has also said no sugary, carbonated drinks. Well, the canteen sells flavoured milk and juice! They have just as much sugar! But cakes, biscuits and lollies are fine to share around.

My girls don't do fruit break which is at about 10am. We have a good breakfast at about 8 so they do not need anything then. Apparently it's targeted at those who eat early and to encourage healthy eating at school. Wash it down with some flavoured milk from the canteen at recess.

There are too many inconsistent messages about food at school. This may not be the case at other schools. I put a lot of effort into thinking about what I send only to have it all come apart at school.

Excuse me while I go and get the almond, date and cinnamon, sugar and dairy free muffins out of the oven. Pity they can't take them to school! Maybe I need to do choc chip ones for there.