Monday, 27 August 2012

Spice Cellar

James bought a voucher for 2 cocktails and 3 tapas dishes at The Spice Cellar in Martin Place a while ago, and we used it the other night for a fun date.
The Spice Cellar is on Pitt St and it was very trendy, the kind of cool place we wouldn't normally even go, but it was great!  It was super dark inside (hence the lousy snaps, sorry!) and they had live jazz music, as you do.
We started with our cocktails:
Moscow Girl (fruity, citrusy and vodkatastic) & City Life (tequila with honey and lemon - Jim loved it).  The website doesn't have prices but I think they were about $17.
Then it was time for foods!
Chilli and Garlic Prawns (flamed in brandy and served with lime whipped cream), $15
These didn't really have a strong chilli and garlic flavour, but they were extremely tasty.  The serving was generous too, there were four prawns but they were huge!
Roast Pumpkin Wedges (with smoked chilli chipotle aioli), $7
We actually bought these as an extra side; they were very yummy but the sauce was a bit hot for me.  James ate most of them, but I didn't care because I got a bonus prawn!
Za'atar Chicken (sumac & sesame crusted chicken with romesco roast red capsicum relish), $13
I love sesame seeds so I thought this chicken was pretty nice, but it was REALLY spicy.  I found it a bit difficult to eat, but it would be a great choice if you're into spicy food.
Chicken Liver Pate (served with pickled cabbage and red onion jam), $10
This also had regular pickles and pickled onion with it, and it was amazing.  James and I both love pate, but we'd never thought to try it with anything pickled.  I couldn't believe how unexpectedly delicious it was!  The pate wasn't as good as Mum's, but it was really close.  I was tempted to order a second plate of it.
The live jazz was pretty cool and the overall atmosphere was just really fun and different.  And here's a snap of the wall in the corridor that leads to the toilets:
It wasn't exactly cheap, but I thought the value for money was very good.  The prices are the same as at any cocktails & tapas place, and the menu was much more exciting than our usual tapas restaurants offer.  The food was delicious and the cocktails were really creative, and it was a fun venue in a great location.  I'd definitely go back without a voucher.
The only real downside was that they'd run out of scallops, which I'd planned to order, but I hardly felt I was missing out when our lovely food arrived.  And I was impressed that they told us straight away, instead of waiting until we ordered and then coming back from the kitchen telling us to pick something else.
I'd recommend this place to anyone, but especially to someone going on a first date, because it's loud enough that you won't notice awkward silences, and unique enough that you'll find plenty of things to comment on if the conversation does stall.
On the train home we did some puzzles in MX.
Then we stopped for a thrifty dessert at Maccas!
This is a soft serve in a sundae lid, with chocolate sauce and Maltesers on top.  It cost a dollar thirty!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Assorted Food

I sure eat a lot.  Here is some evidence.
These delightful juices were from Pavement Cafe in Sylvania, where James and I went last weekend.
He had calamari.  I had poached eggs with hollandaise.
On Tuesday we want to a cafe at uni - I think it's called Out to Lunch?
And we also went to our fave local Thai, Thai Ingah.
I love these Lemon King Prawns so much.
A while ago I saw Magic Mike with some of the girls (so terrible and fabulous!) and we had pizzas afterwards at Big Al's.
That's my favourite Tandoori Chicken pizza, but it wasn't as good as it was the first time (see the right sidebar for a pic).
Emily was there, lookin' fab:
Everyone knows my Mum is a great cook, but did you know my Nana is as well?  She made us the yummiest Shepherd's Pie:
Hi Nana if you're reading!  Thanks for all the lovely dinners you make us.
I went with my parents and Betty to Antonio's Pizzeria a while ago.  It's really nice.
Have you ever had one of these:
It's a Tiger from Harry's Cafe de Wheels.  I first discovered them when I saw a list of the 50 best foods in Sydney in that magazine that comes with the Herald, and decided that James and I should try to eat them all.   Unfortunately it features lots of $250 degustations, but we have discovered a few cool things.
Last week I went to Trivia Night at the Crest.  They have $6 cocktails!
We came first!  Yay!
And then we went to Bay Vista.
And here are some tasty things from the Food Court to finish us off:
What have you all been eating lately?

Monday, 20 August 2012

Bronies: Friendship is Magic (Guest Post By Jim)

When he's not patiently waiting for me to finish photographing his dinner, my boyfriend likes to watch My Little Pony.  Today, he joins us to answer every question you've ever had about why on Earth a grown man would do this.  (FTR, I like it too!)

I am a twenty-three-year-old man who enjoys a television show targeted at little girls.

The show is called My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (MLP:FIM). Any questions?

Question: You sound creepy.

That’s not a question, but you’re right – the prospect of a grown man enjoying a little girls’ show about ponies does sound creepy. I thought bronies were creepy too when I first heard about them.

Question: “Bronies?”

It’s a portmanteau of ‘bro’ and ‘ponies’. The term refers to an older fan of MLP:FIM. It applies to both men and women, though female bronies are also called ‘pegasisters’ (geddit?).

Question: I have a question about bronies – Why? Just... why?!

Why do adults like a children’s show? Well, for lots of reasons actually.

Here’s my number one reason: It’s a really good show. For reals.

I am not kidding. 

MLP:FIM has all the hallmarks of a great animated TV show: it has interesting characters and spends time developing them, it has great writing with multi-layered humour for its multiple audiences and a spectacular, vivid and colourful animation style.

Think the characterisation of Friends, plus the intricate universe of Star Wars, plus that warm fuzzy feeling you get at the end of an episode of Modern Family when the characters work out their problems and it all ends happy ever after. Oh, then add ponies. Don’t forget the ponies, man.

Best of all, the whole package comes wrapped in a special kind of optimistic spirit that recalls childhood itself.

Good animation, you say?

Question: OK, so that might explain why little girls like the show. But why do you like it?

Well, all those fundamentals production values have a pretty universal appeal, but MLP:FIM also specifically targets its brony fanbase.

During the release of the first season of the show, its creators realised that the show was gathering a huge following online amongst older, particularly male, fans in their teens and twenties.

Instead of ignoring this unanticipated audience, they decided to embed messages for them in the second season. For instance, in the episode The Cutie Pox, ponies are seen in the background that clearly resemble key characters from the cult movie The Big Lebowski.

Question: Are you trolling? That all sounds nothing like the My Little Pony show I remember as a kid.

No I am not trolling you, would I do that to the Expect Cowgirls readership? (Answer: yes I would, but not on this occasion).

There is a good reason that MLP:FIM sounds, and is, nothing like the MLP show you remember as a kid – that show stank. 

In fact, that whole genre of animated kids shows for girls stank. While boys got animated gems the likes of Pokémon and The Big Knights, girls got cutesy, insipid melodramas about fighting with your friends and boy problems.

Here’s what MLP:FIM’s creator Lauren Faust (of Powerpuff Girls fame) has to say about animated shows targeted at girls:

"The female characters have been so homogenized with old-fashioned "niceness" that they have no flaws and are unrelatable.  They are so pretty, polite and perfect; there is no legitimate conflict and nothing exciting every happens.  In short, animated shows for little girls come across as boring... This perception, more than anything, is what I am trying to change with My Little Pony."

Lauren Faust

And on what she's trying to achieve with MLP:FIM:

"Cartoons for girls don't have to be a puddle of smooshy, cutesy-wootsy, goody-two-shoeness.  Girls like stories with real conflict; girls are smart enough to understand complex plots; girls aren't as easily frightened as everyone seems to think."

Sounds good to me. You should totally check out the first episode on youtube.

After all, friendship is magic.

Monday, 13 August 2012


Hello!  Welcome to my 100th Post Bonanza, featuring all the usual things.  Like bargains:

This Miss Shop glitter wallet was on sale for $10.50.  Dorothy Gale would approve.  The other thing is a headband, $2 from Colette.  I discovered it can be a necklace to so it's double as thrifty.

I fell in love with Cotton On Body's Revolutionary bras because they come in size 8s.  Then they stopped making them.  But the other day I discovered that they had them back in!  I grabbed three - plain black, navy lace and pink lace.  Then when I got to the counter the lady told me all bras were 40%!  Can't even tell you how happy I was.  They're normally $30 (still great value), but I only paid $18 each.  I would have bought more but the other colours didn't have any size 8s.

I also bought the matching undies to the navy bra because I love to match (the black one didn't have undies, and the pink ones were sold out).  I had a 20% off coupon for full-price merchandise so the undies were $8.

Target has lots of things on clearance and they are a further 30% off at the moment.  So I bought this wardrobe essential:

I'm sure it'll be a staple.  I've already worn it once!  It left fluff on my top but I didn't care.  It came down to about $22.

I bought another two Ulta3s.  Sizzling Red is very similar to Scarlet but not dodgy.  Purple Pumps is very bright but it was only a dollar.

Now for some baking.

It was James's birthday the other day, and he wanted a My Little Pony cake.  At first I decided to make a castle with ponies on it, but it didn't work out that well.

I used the instagram filter that disguised its hideousness the most, but it's still pretty woeful.  I didn't even bother finishing it.

Instead, I did cupcakes with a Rainbow Dash theme:

These were really easy to make.  I was pressed for time so I used a Betty Crocker chocolate fudge packet mix.  Hers are the best packet mixes, but I still didn't love it.  Nobody else seemed to mind though.  I made thick white buttercream icing (other kinds look better for decorating but they taste awful so it's pretty pointless) and coloured it with the blue colouring that comes in a bottle on its own.  NOT the one that comes in a box of four colours.

While the icing set I prepared the decorations: rainbow Sour Straps lollies chopped in half for the rainbows, and marshmallows chopped in half for the clouds.  When the icing was set I cut the cupcakes to make two little slots on each, then stuck the sour straps in.  I dabbed a little extra icing onto the marshmallows to stick them down.

To serve, I arranged the cupcakes on my Coles tiered cupcake stand and stuck James's Rainbow Dash figurine (sneakily stolen from his house when he wasn't looking) on the top.

Here is the same picture with a different filter, which disguises Rainbow Dash but makes the colours look 20% cooler.

Speaking of pictures where the colours look cooler, here is a giant box of Nerds that Emily gave me the other day.  What an awesome friend; thanks Em!

And now for some food that someone else cooked!

James and I had dinner at Seven Lantens in Sylvania.  It's a Japanese/Korean restaurant that was very lovely, but quite expensive.

That's the entrance - pretty groovy, huh?

Soft Shell Crab Roll, $18

Hu Yao prawns, $18

Beef Tataki, $18

Vegetarian Gyoza, $9

All the food tasted really great, but it was quite pricey, and you would need more than four plates to fill you up (you can order big main meals there too though).  I would definitely go back for a special date though.

We'd planned to get Bay Vista afterwards, but unfortunately there was a huge line.  But here are some pictures from another time, so let's just pretend, shall we?

Yum.  Here's something less yum:

My Mum kindly bought me this World Kitchen ready meal pasta thing to take to work.  It was really gross.  I didn't even finish it, which is really weird for me.  I'd never buy it again and I must insist that you don't.  I don't even understand how something as simple as pasta could be made to taste so terrible.  The chicken had a weird jellyish texture and the sauce was just rank.  Please don't eat this.

I spent ages searching Instagram for a filter that made it look not like dog vomit.  That's the best I could do.  It was worse in real life.

Last night I went out to Nada's Lebanese in Surry Hills though and it was the bomb.  We ordered a $27pp banquet thing, which included hummus, babaganoush, tabouli, seven different meat and vegetarian dishes that I don't remember, plus coffee and sweets.

This hummus was truly spectacular.

The falafels and ladyfingers were stand-outs too.

The one thing I didn't care for was the dolmades.  It wasn't the restaurant's fault; I just really don't like them.  But there was more than enough of everything else so I didn't go hungry. 

Anyway, they more than made up for it in other areas.  I went with Meg, Elise and Becky (hello girls!), and Nicky (hello Nicky!) met us later.  We were still at the restaurant so she joined us there while we finished up.  She arrived just before the sweets were served, and look:

They gave us five, even though we only paid for four!  They also served tea and coffee for all five of us and there was no extra charge for any of it.  On top of that there was no corkage charge either.

It was so delicious and the service was great and I will be back for sure.  Thank you Nada's Lebanese for a fantastic dining experience!

Here are some friands that were also quite good:

One of our clients at work brought in a big plate of them for us.  Isn't that so nice?

And speaking of nice, while my neighbours across the street went away to Canada I fed their cats again, and look what they (neighbours, not cats) brought back for me:

The Maple Tea is really lovely.  I haven't tried the Maple Syrup yet but I am excited for the next time I have pancakes.  I just love that beautiful glass bottle.

Well, that's all I have to say about my ordinary life for the moment.  Thanks for sitting through this a hundred times, you guys!  I'm not really sure why you do, but I appreciate it all the same.

If you really enjoy Expect Cowgirls, you can also Like the Official Facebook Page and, if you're sick of waiting forever to see pictures get uploaded you can follow me on Instagram (@shippitydoodah), or on Tumblr for all your Harry Potter Meme needs.  Technology, huh?

If you're really committed you can also leave a comment and tell me, which of these 100 posts have you liked the best?  Maybe a specific one or maybe just a category, like "the ones with food" (haha, that would be ALL of them).  Don't forget I have more Ulta3s for leavers of comments!