Sunday, 30 June 2013

Hunter Valley Minibreak

A couple of weeks ago Jimmy and I took a little trip to the Hunter Valley. We set off after lunch so it was a v scenic sunset drive. 

We stopped at a truck stop for something to eat and entertained ourselves looking at all the strange soft drink flavours. 

We went with Cheery Cheer, which just tasted fizzy and sweet. 

Then we got back in the car and headed to Pepper's, where we had a lovely room for just $109 a night - thanks Wotif! The shower was absolutely horrible but everything else there was really nice. 

On the first night we had dinner at a tapas restaurant. 

The food was great but the experience was sort of bizarre.

The waiter explained to us that the food came in small servings so we should order about five or six dishes to share, his tone seeming to say "I'm as surprised as you are, this place is kray-zee", and they served the food as courses, only bringing out a new dish once the previous one had been cleared, so it was more like an oversize degustation than regular tapas. 

For dessert we chose chocolate soufflé, delicious!

We finished off our greedy evening by rolling back to our room and breaking out our new Scrabble set. 

The next day started with breakfast at Enzo...

...followed by a wine tasting tour!

We visited five wineries that were very different but all lovely. I don't remember the names but I Instagrammed them all, for those of you playing at home. 

This lunch was yummy. 

The last winery was the most fun as we got to sit at a table with the other couples on the tour and eat cheese and crackers with our wines, yum yum. 

When the bus took us back to Pepper's we were so wined out that we fell asleep the minute we got into the room! 

We managed to get up a few hours later and drag ourselves out for a meal at the Japanese/Thai restaurant at Tempus Two. Jim picked Massaman, but he was jealous of my classic Pad Thai. 

We headed home the next day, but not before stopping at a local brewery for lunch. 

Needed to balance out all that wine, after all. 

It was a lovely long weekend and to top it all off we came home with a great selection of wine and some delicious local foodstuffs. Yummy. 

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Shippy Lately

Lately I have been going out a lot with my friends, which is just about my favourite thing to do.

Like for pizzas in Lugarno with Jim's netball team:

The food at Mancini's was really good, but the service was appalling. Our waiter acted like we were being total pains by wanting to, you know, patronise the business. He brought us another table's order and when we said we didn't order that he said "yes you did." - nice customer service mate!

Even more appalling, I'm pretty sure this guy was the owner! Maybe it's some sort of tax evasion thing a la The Producers and he's doing everything he can to run the business at a loss?

I also went on a harbour cruise for Vivid with my coworkers:

And to see The Great Gatsby at Dendy Newtown. 

I really enjoyed it. Obviously a movie based on a book will usually come off a little unfavourably in comparison, but it was visually spectacular and I loved the soundtrack to bits. All the actors were excellent and all in all I think it's a return to Baz's glory days. By which I mean Strictly Ballroom and Romeo + Juliet and NOT Moulin Rouge or Australia yuck. 

I'd give it at least 8.5/10, I'd definitely go again!
Naturally, I've also been stuffing my face at Bay Vista:


What's everyone else been up to lately?

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Date Night at Larousse French Restaurant, Brighton

Lately James and I have been trying to do a weekly Date Night. Last night we decided to go to Chez Pascal at Sans Souci, but when we got there it was shut so we went to another nearby French restaurant, Larousse at Brighton, instead. 

It wasn't a modern trendy posh restaurant at all, but everyone knows I love naff eateries so that was okay by me. It reminded me of somewhere I might have gone for a treat with my parents in the early 90s. 

The menu wasn't all that French really - salt and pepper squid was right next to escargot - but there were lots of nice options and they had a $35 two-course special, bargain! Service was really good too. 

I started with a fried Camembert which was pretty nice, though the cranberry sauce was straight from a jar and I wouldn't have minded a nice crusty bread to put it on. 

Jim had pâté, which was nothing on my mum's but if your mum isn't as fabulous as mine you would probably think it was pretty good. The bread with it was pretty cute. 

We both had the same main, veal with a creamy mushroom sauce. It tasted good and I liked the onion thingy on top, but as you can see the plating wasn't that attractive. It was the sort of thing one could easily make at home, but we did enjoy it. 

For dessert we had creme brûlée, my favourite! The top was undercooked so it didn't crack that nicely and it still had the texture of sugar granules, but the custard inside was yummy and very silky - though it could have been set a little more. 

We finished with some lovely after dinner mints, which I always consider a huge bonus. 

It sounds from this like the restaurant wasn't that good but honestly I did like it. It had a really cosy atmosphere and the food all tasted really nice, and it was great value for money, especially with their midweek special. It won't compete with fine dining or hipster places, but for an affordable midweek dinner date I definitely recommend it and would happily return. Seven berets out of ten.