Saturday 27 May 2017

Fish Café - Review

Hubby had a birthday last month, so we decided to head down to the bay and have lunch at the Fish Café in Manly, also known as the Barramundi Boys.  It had been ages since we'd eaten there (since our friend's son was one of the chefs), so it was well time to check it out again.

a bit of a nautical feel going on inside 

We sat at the front overlooking the yachts, and escaping the rain outside.  Guess what Mr P. had to drink?  Yep, ginger beer, of course.  His fave Bundaberg brand.

ginger beer for Mr P. - (surprise, surprise) - $4

Brown Brothers Prosecco for me - $9.50 

You can't go past a nice glass of Prosecco, I always say.  This one was sparkly and refreshing.  Not a bad drop.  And it went well with my main of grilled salmon, which came with a smoked eel croquette and pea purée.

grilled salmon $32

My salmon was a wee bit overdone for me.  I do like mine a bit pink in the middle.  This had been taken just that 60 seconds too far.  (The crispy skin was great.)  I didn't really enjoy the accompaniments with the fish.  The smoked eel was very strong in flavour, and overtook the salmon. The pea purée also had a very strong, somewhat bitter taste and overpowered the salmon.  There was an overall sweetness to the purée too, which was not to my liking.  Not a bad dish, but needed just a little more thought and care. 

Mr P. had fish and chips $29

You can have this either battered, crumbed or grilled.  Mr P. went for battered as you can see.  I would have to say that $29 is pretty steep for fish and chips and a bit of salad though.  But Mr P. really enjoyed his pieces of battered snapper; he said the fish was moist and the batter crispy.  He really appreciated that it was not oily. The chips were fat and well seasoned, and the tartare sauce was a hit too - tangy and creamy.

a side of extra chips with aioli $5

Rather ambitiously, we ordered a side of chips too!  And no, we didn't get through them all.  They were delicious, but our eyes had been bigger than our stomachs, as the saying goes.  The café was by no means full, but service was surprisingly slow (but friendly). Our drinks came fairly quickly, but our meals took nearly half an hour more, so we had been there about an hour before we ate.  We were just about ready to nibble our fingers off at that stage. 

so many masts on so many boats

The Pickings' Verdict?:  A lovely place to sit and watch the weather and the yachts. Food comes in generous serves; the atmosphere is friendly, and with a bit of tweaking, the food would be very good indeed.

The Fish Café is open 7 days a week.  It has a children's menu, and also does takeaways.  It is a wine bar also, so you can sit and have a drink, while dreaming of far away places.

461 The Esplanade
Manly Harbour Village 4179
Ph: 07 3893 0195

Barramundi Boys Fish Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday 23 May 2017

Pecan Liqueur - The Sequel

Well, the fascinating, nutty brew has now been double-filtered and bottled.  And it now sits in my fridge, saying "drink me, drink me," just like the potion in Alice in Wonderland. All right, you found me out: I heeded its siren song, and had a sip or 2 over ice.  Mm, mm, rather nice. Strangely, both myself and Mr P. said "it tastes like coffee," even though there is no coffee involved.  

It has been such fun watching it get thicker and darker each day.   By the end of the fortnight, the pecans have swollen and sunk down, and you have an incredibly dark brown, syrupy mixture, ripe for bottling.  So grab your super-clean Chux (cleaning cloth), and let's start filtering.    

ready for filtering

First you grab a medium-sized bowl, and place a large strainer over it.  Then place a scrupulously clean Chux cloth over the strainer.

bowl and strainer in place  

Chux cloth over the strainer 

you can see the speckly vanilla seeds around the edge of the jar  

pouring the mixture into the cloth 

squeeze out all the liquid from the nuts 

you will end up with a bowl of luscious liqueur 

and a heap of vodka-infused pecans 

Once you have poured the mixture into the cloth, you will squeeze and squeeze till all the liquid has come through.  Replace the cloth with another clean cloth, and pour the liquid through again.  Then you are left with the lovely stuff in your bowl, and the vodka-infused pecans in the original cloth.  Now pour the liqueur into bottles and store in the fridge. Keep the nuts in a container in the fridge too; I figure they will go well on ice-cream.

bottling the filtered liquid

ready for the fridge


I used 2 brand-new Chux cloths for this.  I rinsed and dried them before use.  You can then wash them out and re-use the cloths, or do as I did (since they were a generic brand) - chuck 'em away. 

(Check out my original post for the recipe here).

my "drink me" potion doodle

Friday 19 May 2017

A - Z Guidebook: eXcitement Thanksgiving Day Style

eXcitement: Thanksgiving Day parade  

This is the small town of Lansdale, Pennsylvania.  And this is their Thanksgiving Day Parade, held in minus 10 weather.  You can just see a tiny bit of me in front of our friend Deb in the red coat.  Pity the poor marching girls in their tiny, sparkly frocks.  It was exciting but also incredibly freezing, with that windchill factor zeroing into our bones. The tough Pennsylvanians do not let a little thing like snow and ice and temperatures below zero stop them doing what they want to do.

Monday 15 May 2017

Corn Chowder

The weather is finally getting a bit cooler in sunny Brisbane town. So now we can bring out the doonahs, and the jumpers for a bit. Winter is a glorious time of year here, with blue skies and heaps of sunshine.  The sky becomes magically polarised into a deep blue, and the light is something an artist would die for.  Those citrus skies when twilight falls are pure magic.

beautiful twilight on the Brisbane River   

Well, bringing myself back to food... How about some chunky, warming soup this evening?  I had 2 cans of creamed corn in my pantry asking to be used, plus potatoes and cauliflower.  So with these simple ingredients you're set, folks.  Let's go ahead and make this dish.

Recipe adapted by Sherry's Pickings

Serves 6-8:


2 tbs olive oil

50g. butter

1 large red or brown onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 small red chillies, finely chopped (optional)

800g. potatoes, chopped into bite-sized chunks

500g. cauliflower, chopped into chunks

2 cans (420g. each = 840g.) of creamed corn

300 mLs of milk

500 mLs chicken or veg. stock

herbs - your choice - I used chives, parsley and oregano; some dried and some fresh

salt and black pepper to taste

a dash of cream or sour cream to serve (optional)

extra herbs to serve 


Throw the oil, butter, and onion into a large saucepan on a medium-low heat

Stir it for a few minutes then throw in the garlic and chillies

Stir for a few more minutes

Now add the potato and cauliflower chunks

Stir till everything is coated in the oil and butter mix 

Keep stirring for a few minutes

The creamed corn goes in next; give it a good stir

Add the milk, stock and herbs, salt and pepper

Stir in well, add a lid, put the heat to low and let it simmer for about 15 minutes till everything is tender and well-combined

You can either serve as is, with the chunks (Mr P. insisted) or grab a stick blender and whizz it around in the pan - very carefully - after you have let it cool down for a bit

Add a dash of cream or sour cream, season to taste, and bung on lots of herbs when serving


No need to peel the potatoes unless they are old and wrinkly; I had new, washed spuds so they were fine as is

Add a few slices of chopped bacon with the onion, if you want a meaty hit

Consider some scallops (about 150g.) thrown in the pot for a couple of minutes at the end of cooking for a fishy hit

Add more stock and/or milk towards the end if you find it too thick

see, I told you it was sunny

add the oil and butter to the pan with the onion  

throw in the potato and cauli chunks 

pour in the stock and milk

stir in the herbs and seasoning 

soup, beautiful soup 

my cauli foodle

Wednesday 10 May 2017

Bon Kura Japanese Cuisine - Review

Regular readers will know that Mr P. and I were in Canberra recently to catch up with blogger mates, and our niece and nephew who bravely moved from sunny Queensland to freezing cold Canberra.  Even though it was only early April, it was getting a wee bit chilly in the evenings down there.  Actually a pleasant change from the endless summer we have been having up here in ever so sunny Brisbane.

The nephew chose this Japanese restaurant for us in the suburb of Dickson.  I love the way that Canberra has so many little 'burbs, each with their own distinct flavour. Dickson is full of various ethnic restaurants - or is that a non-PC word these days? Anyway, it has Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Indian, you name it.  Bon Kura was the one for us this night.  And it is nice to know that Confucius was watching over us!

Confucius watching over Dickson  

Since most of us were driving, the drink of choice was soft.  One of us asked for lemon, lime and bitters, and it was consensus all over the shop:=)  This is my fave non-alcoholic tipple.  I think we all enjoyed it.     

lemon, lime and bitters all round $4.80 each

We started off with edamame - boiled and salted young soybeans. These were fun to eat; deliciously chewy and salty.  A great little starter to a meal, though I have read that they come from genetically modified beans so not to be eaten regularly if you are concerned about that sort of thing.  And yes, I am!  

edamame $5.80

gyoza $9.80

Who can resist gyoza?  Not us.  These were pretty much as expected - fried dumplings with a pork filling.  Tasty but not outstanding.  I think a wee bit more time in the fryer may have been a good thing.  

curry Korokke $5.80 

Mr P. chose these for a starter.  He said they had a nicely crisp coating, with a squishy potato filling.  Sadly, the curry sauce was somewhat glutinous, not very spicy, and worst of all, was only lukewarm.  So all up, not very pleasant.  The croquettes were "okay"; made up of spiced potato with only a mild curry/spicy flavour. Okay but not a winner.

chicken tempura roll $6.80 with egg and avocado 

Once again, these were as expected.  Fried pieces of chicken in batter, rolled with egg, avocado and mayonnaise.  They were okay, but nothing to write home about.  N.B. the price on their menu now shows as $7.80.  I also ordered prawn tempura rolls with crab, avocado and sprinkled with flying fish caviar.  We paid $10.80, now showing as $11.80 on their menu.  

The fellas had mistakenly eaten most of the prawn rolls before I got a look in, thinking they were the chicken version.  I did get to eat one, and it was very bland.  I could taste neither prawn nor crab in them. Stomach filling with the rice, but not spectacular.  And somehow, no photos of these were taken.

salmon tempura $17.80 

This dish was good value.  There was a generous amount of fried salmon in batter, but sadly way too much of that ubiquitous white cabbage.  I mean, who the heck eats it? And it doesn't look pretty either.  Never mind the cabbage; I really liked the salmon, and found it surprisingly rich and filling.  The fish was tender and tasty, and overall, a winner for me.

veg. tempura ramen bowl on soy broth $14.80 

these are the veg. tempura pieces that came with the ramen bowl 

Mr P. is a huge fan of noodles so this went down well with him.  It had lots of seaweed (not such a huge fan), and the tempura had a thick and crispy batter.  This was a very hearty and substantial meal, even for ever hungry hubby.  

Genki nigiri set $18.80

Friend of nephew let me have one of his fishy nigiri.  Delicious; fresh and yes fishy. This dish looks pretty, and tasted mm yep like sushi.  So there is rice, there is fish, there is wasabi and pickled ginger.  You get what you expect with this one.  And that's a good thing.

ramen bowl with chicken karaage $14.80 

The nephew went for the ramen bowl based on pork broth, accompanied by pieces of fried chicken karaage.  These bowls are substantial so bring your heavy duty eating face.  This was a tasty and good value dish.

udon bowl with teriyaki chicken $14.80

The niece chose an udon bowl, based on pork broth.  As you can see, this is a whopping bowlful of noodles and teriyaki chicken and egg and radish ... and so on and so forth.  She did her best to conquer this one, but in the end it defeated her.  This was another very good value dish.

After this, we were replete; no room for dessert which was mostly ice cream of various flavours like green tea or taro.  I did like the sound of Japanese dark chocolate cheesecake which I believe is much lighter than normal cheesecake.  Ah well, next time.

the new Canberrans (except the one on the right) 

fishy chopstick holder/fishy lights on the wall/inside the restaurant 

The nephew tells me that horizontal wooden slats are all the rage in Canberran eating places.  Mm interesting.  I don't think we have that trend in Brisbane yet (or ever).  The food was filling if not amazing, and good value.  We were there on a Monday evening; service was quick and polite.  This is a cheap and cheerful venue, with plenty of room, comfy seating, and filling dishes.

Bon Kura is open 6 days a week except Wednesdays.  They serve lunch and dinner, with chef's specials, hot pots, bento boxes, curries and noodles.  Fish heads are a speciality!  And they are licensed, but do allow BYO.

13 Woolley Street,
Dickson ACT 2602
Ph: 02 6262 6669

Bon Kura Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Friday 5 May 2017

Pecan Liqueur - Home Made

I came across a recipe for pecan liqueur recently which really had me intrigued.  I had never heard of it before, but apparently you can buy it readily in the US.  It mentioned using pecan extract which was also new to me.  So I hunted up a recipe for the extract, which I may try making down the track.  But you can also use chopped pecans to make the liqueur.  How could I not give it a go?

Mr P. and I headed off to the Greek nut shop across the river in West End, home to the rather rich and also the hippie, greenie chai latte-drinking types.  West End is also the home of many a Greek migrant who brought a taste for exotic foods with them. Thankfully there are still a few of their wonderful and mysterious delis, stuffed full of exotic goodies, unruly crowds, complete chaos when it comes to actually buying anything, and sheer delight in the mad food world they inhabit.  Long may they last.

I came across a few different recipes for this liqueur, all of which involved copious amounts of rum, brandy or vodka, lots of pecans and various other flavourings.  I decided on this one, as it sounds so delicious.  It was posted by Barbara Lentz, on the Just a Pinch Recipe Club website.  I've halved it as it makes 4½ cups in the original!


195g. (1 cup) dark brown sugar, firmly packed

110g. (1/2 cup) white sugar or caster sugar 

310 mLs (1¼ cups) water

250g. pecans, toasted and chopped into small pieces

2 vanilla beans, split down the middle length-wise

500 mLs vodka 


Place the 2 sugars and the water into a medium saucepan over medium-low heat

Stir, bringing to the boil

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes

Put the vanilla beans and chopped, toasted pecan pieces into a large jar 

Pour the hot syrup mixture into the jar and let it cool

Now add the vodka

Store the sealed jar in a dark place for 2 weeks

Make sure you give it a darn good shaking every day

Strain it well; you may need to do this 2 or 3 times



I wanted it slightly less sweet, so I used coconut blossom sugar instead of white sugar

Toast the nuts at 160C for about 10-12 minutes till you can smell the toastiness

You will need a jar that holds about a litre

Strain it through muslin or a very clean Chux cleaning cloth

Serve over ice, or as a mixer

ingredients gathered in the glorious autumn sun   

stirring the sugars and water till boiling, then reducing for 5 minutes  

chop your nuts after roasting 

pour in the syrup

pour in the vodka

store in a dark place for 2 weeks, shaking each day 

So folks, I will let you know how it goes in a couple of weeks.  I will add a Part 2 the pecan liqueur sequel once completed:=)

my pecan doodle