Home Cooking: Adam Liaw’s Magical Marmalade Custard Cake

IMG_5407I love a gimmick. So I could not resist when I saw this recipe go up online. How would this cake work, that purportedly separates into cake and custard? I once made Magic Custard Pies, where by mixing the egg custard batter with a cup of Bisquick, a crust would magically form on the bottom (one could also make a quiche in this fashion). But in this recipe, the cake rises to the top…

Also attractive about the recipe: Adam Liaw was the winner of a Masterchef Australia season that we may have watched nearly all the way through. He’s articulate and smart, and I like his recipes.

Also: I’m rather partial to custard.

The recipe, which you can find here on the Good Food website, requires no special ingredients and with our handy mixer, was not particularly difficult to make. We found some marvelous bitter marmalade at Harris Farm (not a farm, but an Australian grocery chain), and needed to replenish our supply of icing sugar.

IMG_5405I admit that I was a bit nervous: I could see many possibilities of failure. Were the egg yolks and sugar pale and fluffy enough? Were the egg whites stiff enough? What was the purpose of whisking in one teaspoon of white vinegar into them? What if my technique for folding half of the egg whites into the batter wasn’t much different than the one for mixing in the other half?

But, in the end, success: even my technique of lining a round tin with baking paper was successful. The cake came out of the springform pan beautifully. There is a thick layer of custard at the bottom, a cake-like layer on top (quite light), and there’s even a thin crust at the bottom. It’s not super sweet, and is not a particularly refined dessert, so I don’t know if I’d serve it at a dinner party… but I think part of the problem was overcooking it. I went by the suggested time of 45 minutes rather than the note that the middle should be ‘very wobbly’ in the centre (in fact, there was no wobble at all by the time I got to it). Not sure if and when I’ll make it again, but it’s hard to decide with 2/3 of the cake still in the fridge!


Posted in Australia, Food n' Grog, Home | Leave a comment

Sydney Food Diary: Osaka Bar, Potts Point

IMG_5393Osaka Bar in Llankely Place in Potts Point really does look like it could be a casual eatery in Osaka, Japan. The kitchen, the lanterns, the lighting: it’s all right. Even our charming waiter who seems to have only been in Australia from Osaka for a few months added to the authenticity.

IMG_5389There’s a lot of styles of Japanese food that I think most folks won’t be familiar with: the wonderful octopus balls (takoyaki), like a pancake batter with chunks of tender octopus cooked in a waffle griddle, except instead of waffles, balls. There’s various kinds of IMG_5391omelette with artful swirls of Japanese mayonnaise and another sweeter sauce on top. Deep-fried skewers of things. Various other small plates (we didn’t try the sushi or sashimi).

All designed to go with beer! Or sake! Of which they have a nice selection (and the beer special that night, $5 for a Japanese beer, peanuts and dried fish skin, was a great bargain). I loved our meal here. The weird cheesy duck and eggplant gratin. The mound of rice with a simple omelette on top. A few deep-fried skewers (chicken thigh, lotus root, camembert), oh, and a stewed white radish with blueberry (!) miso and mince, an odd but tasty, very Japanese sort of dish.

IMG_5392Almost ordered too much food, but it was fine. There’s so much good food on this strip now… this is a good option, perhaps if you’re up for a more casual and quick meal. The IMG_5394outdoors seating area is great, and I said. This place has a lot of charm.

Osaka Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Asian, Food n' Grog, Sydney | Leave a comment

Sydney Food Diary: Moon Park, Redfern

IMG_5399September 24. You’ve got two months (from the time of this blog post) to get to Moon Park, Sydney’s most elegant modern Korean restaurant. Hidden away on the second floor of a corner building in Redfern, their lease it up, and they’re offering until then, only tasting menus.

But there is something for everyone. Our non-seafood eating friend stuck to the vegetarian tasting (as did S.) while J. and I had one of each of the other dishes so we could share. Everything was good, with quite a few wows. The crispy seafood pancake is elevated to a level of yumminess above your standard Asian pancake. Lamb = delicious. Their interpretation of BiBimBap = wonderful. We had two bottles of an odd, older white wine, a Chardonnay from California ($40 a bottle) and the tasting menu is $59. Very reasonable prices for such beautiful, thoughtful, carefully presented food.

IMG_5401I think this was the third time I’ve eaten here over the years. Korean flavours are still unfamiliar to many people, and to refine them into fine dining is a real treat. I found it amusing and engaging to recognise or almost recognise a flavour or texture, and think about how it was applied to the dish. That bright green chrysanthemum leaf sauce was beautiful under the lamb!

Desserts (top photo) were the highlight. The ‘moon pie’, a cornucopia of flavours… and the sweet potato ice cream. Apparently they’re looking for another venue. Hope so. It would be sad to lose Moon Park from Sydney’s dining scene. It wasn’t an evening where I felt like taking photos of everything. You’ll just have to go there yourself!
Moon Park Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Asian, Food n' Grog, Modern Australian, Sydney | Leave a comment

Sydney Food Diary: Kim, King’s Cross


This modern Korean restaurant is surprising, unusual and tasty. What an excellent find. I’d actually planned to go to the Malaysian place, just across from it, on Llankelly Place (which is looking very charming these days). I’d heard it was good, but the menu looked pretty standard, and it was a little crowded.


Checking out the menu at Kim, I was intrigued but a little unsure. It’s not often I’m so unfamiliar with a menu, and the vibe was pretty subdued. Still, I thought we’d give it a go… and what a good choice.

Even the dishes that I sort of knew had a real twist to them. The flavours were lively. There was some great textural stuff going on… the crunch of the dried seaweed, the rich homey flavours of the pear and soy braised beef short ribs with carrot. Yum.

A great take on a bibimbap, a perfect little mound of rice underneath layers of meat and a soft-cooked egg. We managed to have a short chat with the chef. It’s a fairly new restaurant, and he’s excited to bring his vision of Korean food to Sydney. Good on ya, mate.



The only slight disappointment was the selection of three preserved vegetables. I have to say I rather like the free array of small dishes one usually gets in a traditional Korean restaurant. These three had a sameness about them, and weren’t our favourite.

I’m not sure if there’s a Korean food moment happening in Sydney, but this year, I’ve had really good modern and traditional Korean food, from the Chicken Institute to Danjee in the City… it’s been some really great eating. And this is a welcome addition, and nicely located to grab a bite to eat before we go to a show at the Hayes Theatre!




Kim Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Asian, Food n' Grog, Sydney | Leave a comment

Sydney Food Diary: Ume, Surry Hills

IMG_5301 So, sometimes the food diary provides not current advice but an archive of the delightful food that Sydney can offer. Because in this case, Ume is changing its format, and after long being an elegant, delicious, multi-course affair, it is going to be a bar with casual bar food.

IMG_5302It sort of makes me feel like I should have eaten here more often, as it really was interesting food. We had the full tasting menus with matching wines and sake. Somehow, I got my better half drunk on gin and tonics before we arrives, so the extra alcohol here rather tipped him over.

IMG_5303But I really enjoyed the food – and the alcohol pairings too. The one proviso was that while we liked everything, quite a bit, we couldn’t find a particular standout dish, something really memorable. S. did quite like the dumpling in broth that started us off though:

IMG_5300And I did find the dessert, with icy bits, and different textures tasty and interesting. But perhaps that was the style: refined and not showy. In any case, farewell Ume (fine dining) and I’ll look forward to trying your next incarnation.

Ume Japanese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Asian, Food n' Grog, Sydney | Leave a comment

Sydney Food Diary: The Biten Heaven, Darlinghurst


Grabbing my pal David for a quick bite in the area where he’s working, he suggested this homey little cafe across the street. I’m immediately mystified by the name. Is it a playful way of saying ‘A bite in Heaven’? Or alluding to a bite that tastes heavenly? Who knows?


It’s a humble little place, serving up burgers and omelettes. My pal tells me that though the food isn’t memorable, the atmosphere is nice and the service is always really friendly and accommodating. I found that too: super nice and smiley.

My fish burger was fine, and so was David’s omelette… Also, the cup for the latte was cute (one of those double-layered glasses)


But the main thing is that near Taylor Square on Oxford Street is a funny area to try to find somewhere nice to eat. There are some new, funky looking eateries, none of which seem to really have seating. Mostly, it’s fast food, and doesn’t look particularly great. So, a comfy option like this, serving up healthy juices, and simple, honest food is welcome. I hope they do well.

The Biten Heaven Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Cafe, Food n' Grog, Sydney | Leave a comment

Sydney Food Diary: Tim Ho Wan, Westfield CBD

IMG_5359 Just a little after a year since I went to the Tim Ho Wan in Chatswood, I stumble across a new branch of Tim Ho Wan in the Westfield mall in the CBD. It’s a much smaller version, with only a handful of tables, and it’s relatively tiny.

IMG_5360I suspect that their menu is quite reduced as well. But who cares? Those char siu (BBQ pork) buns are TO DIE FOR, and along with the salt and pepper squid, some yummy dumplings, and one of my favourites: turnip cake (which my pal liked, surprisingly, I worry that the texture of it is just too weird for non-Asian people), this was a very cheery lunch surprise.

Tim Ho Wan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Asian, Food n' Grog, Sydney | Leave a comment

Sydney Food Diary: Black by Ezard, Star City

IMG_5326Managed to book in for a special Entertainment Card dinner, Black by Ezard with wines by Penfolds. The only way to get into one of these is to book right away, so I was glad to be on my toes. I’d heard good things about Black… and wasn’t disappointed.

IMG_5324 Though I was surprised that the event was group dining. Davy and I sat next to the charming Barbara and George who were apparently regular at these kinds of dinners. First off, let’s talk about the wine. I was worried, with the modest amounts they were pouring that we might not get a lot of wine over the course of the evening. Boy, was I wrong. Penfolds is a great vineyard, and I found all the wine during the night consistent and tasty. Our first course, above, was a Jerusalem Artichoke cream. Absolutely delicious though I’m not sure I could taste the jerusalemn artichoke. We also were served warm, flaky brioche to start with… which was sensational.

IMG_5325 I missed taking a photo of the beef tartare, which was very nice, but this butter poached prawn: wow. A generous biteful. A rich sauce, and as you can see: the presentation is lovely, there’s a real interplay of textures and colour, but there was a rich and luxurious focus to each of the courses. IMG_5328

The Wagyu striploin was so tasty, not much else was needed with it.

IMG_5330 And finally, the Poire William dessert, rather more complicated but an interesting array of textures and flavours.

In the end, I have to say I was quite blown away by this meal. I was expecting good, but got great. Not a miss among the courses. Davy even won a bottle of champers in the lucky draw, a Tattinger with a box with silver holograms that we ended up giving to our neighbours (the box, not the bottle). Don’t ask.

BLACK by ezard Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Food n' Grog, Modern Australian, Sydney | Leave a comment

Drinking in Sydney: Earl’s Juke Joint

IMG_5363 I remember, back in the days, going into an old-style butcher’s, East European, with interesting jars and cans of things, and an array of meat behind the counter. I can’t remember if I got anything, as it was a bit unfamiliar to me, but I loved that it was there!

Flashforward to 2016 and now’s it a very cool bar called Earl’s Juke Joint. I was a bit disoriented coming in: it has that quality of light where (perhaps only older people can relate) you feel like you just can’t see that well. Like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland, kind of a yellowish orange glow barely illuminating dark wood furnishings.

I had the Argentinean classic: Fernet & Cola. From a tap! Ten bucks, and I like the idea of an unusual, bitter liquor mixed up with my coke. But I couldn’t much tell the difference between that and say, a rum and coke, or vodka and coke. But it still tasted good.

IMG_5365I moved onto a Japanese white beer that had a cute owl on the label. My pal stuck with a darker beer that he was surprised cost $12 for the bottle, but had a second so obviously liked it.

And there is a new cocktail menu which hasn’t been put into action yet with tasty classics like negronis and aperol spritzes for only $12, I think, which is more than one ask for in terms of prices and cocktails in Sydney.

If that’s not enough, they reportedly have the nicest bouncer in Newtown, if not in all of Sydney. It would obviously be a crime if you didn’t try out this place, sometime in your lifetime.

Earl's Juke Joint Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Australia, Food n' Grog, Sydney | Leave a comment

Sydney Food Diary: Little Momo, Newtown



So, let’s be clear here. I love momos. When first travelling in Nepal, I discovered that Nepal has their own dumplings. Often made with buffalo or goat… there would be big steamers in local cafes where you could buy a plate of them with a spicy tomato sauce on the side. I find them less delicate than, say, Cantonese dumplings, but I’m really kind of OK with any dumpling…

Little Momo has been open over a year, I think, the lovely waitress explained to me. King Street changes so quickly and so often, I can’t keep up. Sitting attractively across from Earl’s Juke Joint, we decided to pop in and have a little snack before going to try Vegan Fish and Chips (unsuccessfully, after trying our second bar, we ended up arriving after Bliss N Chips had closed!).



In any case, the fried lotus root chips were dee-licious… and the vegetarian momos nice enough. Pan-fried.

I thought they were a little plain and lacking in flavour, but would be curious trying both the meat varieties, and another version they had on the menu where the momos are poached and served with a spicy tomato sauce (mixed in, I think, not on the side). These one tasted very similar to Japanese gyoza (or we called them pot-stickers at home, the Cantonese version).

The chefs and staff all seem Nepalese; it has an authentic feel, though the ambience has a bit of a fast-food vibe with the neon sign and formica tables.

I’ll be back!


Little Momo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Asian, Food n' Grog, Sydney | Leave a comment