Smooth Festival of Chocolate 2015 (The Rocks)

A couple of weekends ago the already busy streets of The Rocks were the stage of the smooth Festival of Chocolate: chocolate-centered cooking demos and products, and the normal bunch of completely unrelated food stalls that are present in every single (food and non-food) festival in Sydney. I went there before noon on Sunday and it was already packed.


Fortunately, the first stall I ran into was Danieli Gourmet Skewers and there wasn’t a big queue. I got a plate of Moroccan lamb, octopus and prawn skewers with salad (no rice). Yes, the salad was a bit of an overstatement but the skewers were good.

Danieli Gourmet Skewers

Danieli Gourmet Skewers

Lamb, octopus and prawn skewers

Lamb, octopus and prawn skewers ($16)

As I had limited time I only got to try a few chcoolates, including Origin and Zozoko. I liked Origin better, in part because they use Latin American cacao, in part because their blocks were cheaper. I bought a block of Peruvian 85% and moved on.

Origin chocolates

Zozoko chocolates

After tasting a few squares of chocolate I needed coffee. The hot weather called for a cold brew, served in an espresso takeaway cup. Too bad they didn’t have any ice.

Adore coffee

Cold brew

Adore Coffee cold brew ($4.50)

On my way back to work I had a look at the Black Star Pastry stall, but decided not to join the (very long) queue. I can walk to their Newtown shop any day, anyway.

Black Star Pastry

Instead, I stopped at Keski Pan, a Mexican stall offering sweet and savoury tamales. The sweet tamales were quite unusual (even though we do have tamales with caramel filling – called humitas) but I did not have enough stomach capacity and chose savoury instead: a tasty chicken mole tamal.

Mexican stall

Chicken mole tamal

Chicken mole tamal ($10)

Strawberry and chocolate tamales

Strawberry and chocolate tamales ($8)

The final morsel I got to try was paleo Sun Catchers brownies, which apparently are being sold in health food shops. I’ll keep my eyes peeled.

Paleo brownies

Review: Sailors Thai (The Rocks)

A catch-up with a friend from uni took us to Sailors Thai. I had heard good things about this place, and I’m happy to report that it met my expectations. We dined at the canteen, with its single long communal table.

Sailors Thai

Alvaro and I shared khao mok gai (aromatic southern style chicken turmeric rice served with spicy & sour sauce) and
pad ka na moo grob (stir fried chinese broccoli with pork belly). Both dishes were flavourful and decent in size.

Khao mok gai

Khao mok gai ($24)

Pad ka na moo grob

Pad ka na moo grob ($28)

My friend had the gang kaew wan gai (green curry chicken with thai eggplant) plus some kao (steamed jasmine rice).

Gang kaew wan gai

Gang kaew wan gai ($25), kao ($3)

Food was beautiful but the best course was dessert: ai tim ma-prow (home made coconut ice cream). Not too sweet, and with plenty of coconut chunks.

Coconut ice cream

Ai tim ma-prow ($12)

Sailors Thai
106 George Street
The Rocks NSW 2000
(02) 9251 2466
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Review: Ocean Room (The Rocks) – Closed

A few months ago I won a credit for courtesy of Sara from Belly Rumbles. I had a hard time deciding which of the restaurants to book (and then finding the time to actually go there!) but finally I chose Ocean Room, which looked promising for the seafood + Japanese food lovers we are.

The restaurant is located in a premium spot in Circular Quay. That means it’s more pricey and fancy than the restaurants we usually visit.

Ocean Room

To celebrate we were having a meal in a fine dining restaurant we ordered some drinks besides the usual tap water. I had a girly plum wine, Uguisu Tomari to be precise, and Al had an even more girly Nashi & Ginger Cosmo (Absolut pear vodka, nashi pear nectar, ginger liqueur, fresh lime juice, and cranberry juice). Both drinks were lovely and a sweet deviation from our routine.

Nashi & ginger cosmo, plum wine

Nashi & ginger cosmo ($18), plum wine ($12)

We shared all the courses. Sashimi classic, with the selection of the day, was not only beautifully presented, but very fresh. If only we had four slices of each fish instead of three!

Sashimi classic

Sashimi classic ($29)

Next came the ocean trout, five ways, five pieces of ocean trout nigiri sushi: raw with onion, mayonnaise and trout roe, poached with sour plum and baby shiso, soy marinated with sesame seeds and fresh ginger, seared with chilli daikon and chives, and vinegared with yuzu kosho and shiso. We thought about ordering a second set so that we could both sample each flavour, but Alvaro had a better idea: since he doesn’t like raw onions or chili (bizarre for a Peruvian, I know) I had the raw and the seared, he had the soy marinated and the poached, and we shared the vinegared. The two and a half nigiris I had were delicious. We made a mental note to order two trays next time.

Ocean trout five ways

Ocean trout five ways ($22)

Ocean trout five ways

Ocean trout five ways

Our chosen main was the kamo-rosu duck (for a change…), Japanese style triple cooked duck breast with soy mirin jus, eggplant and pickled beetroot. The duck was lovely (mental note to order two next time, too). Eggplant was good, and while the pickled beetroot and capsicum were not plentiful, that was not an issue because we had ordered a salad.

Kamo-rosu duck

Kamo-rosu duck ($39)

The Nori lettuce salad was as simple as its name implied: iceberg lettuce and nori with soy and rice wine vinaigrette, and as good as it sounds (if you like nori like we do, that is).

Nori lettuce salad

Nori lettuce salad ($9)

Ocean Room
Ground Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay West
The Rocks NSW 2000
(02) 9252 9585

Ocean Room on Urbanspoon

Australia & NZ 2011 (15 March)

On our last morning in Melbourne we decided to get up early enough to have proper breakfast. Luckily, the other guys in my room left before me so I managed to do a bit of exercise before meeting Paola. It didn’t matter that we slept only 3 or 4 hours, we had a really good meal in a cafe a few metres away from the hostel.

Galleon Cafe is located on Carlisle Street, a few meters away from the beach. With funky vintage furniture and a great hippie vibe, it’s very popular among locals and backpackers.


Service is great, you can tell that they really care about their customers.


Having slept very few hours I really needed a coffee but the minute I read LSD in the beverages list I knew I had to try it. Latte Soy Dandelion (just in case you were wondering) was slightly sweet and very mild, a nice drink but I still needed coffee.

Galleon - LSD (Latte Soy Dandelion)

LSD, Latte Soy Dandelion ($3.70)

A short macchiato delivered the necessary caffeine hit. Nice flavour, a bit too much frothy for my taste. Paola had a latte and declared it a good one.

Galleon - Short macchiato

Short Macchiato ($3.20)

Galleon - Latte

Latte ($3.20)

Because I hadn’t had eggs for breakfast for a while, my choice was the truffled eggs with goats cheese and wilted spinach on pide toast. They were as good as they sounded. Of course for the price I wasn’t expecting shavings of black truffles all over the eggs, but rather a bit of truffly taste from infused oil. A bit of thinly sliced mushrooms gave the dish more earthiness and the salty and tangy goats cheese complimented the taste of the wilted spinach wonderfully. The pide toast was the only unhealthy item in the dish but I couldn’t help it and finish it all.

Galleon - Truffled Eggs

Truffled Eggs served with goats cheese and wilted spinach on pide toast ($13.50)

Paola had a fruit salad with yogurt that looked really good. The thick yogurt with passion fruit made it especially attractive.

Galleon - Fruit salad with yogurt

Fruit salad and yogurt

I was glad we had such a big and tasty breakfast because the next flight we caught was in Virgin Blue. Meaning: no food included.

We had a couple of hours to go home, take a shower and eat a snack (fruit and nuts) before heading to Campbell Cove, in the Sydney Harbour. We hired a boat for a harbour cruise with the whole bunch of Australians and international travelers. Our teacher gave a short talk, there were drinks on board, and we had not one but two rainbows by the end of the cruise. What else could we have asked for?


Dinner that night was at The Glenmore Hotel. We booked most of the tables of the rooftop and paid for the fixed-price BBQ, which included bread rolls, butter, salads (coleslaw, potato, Greek, rocket), lamb & rosemary sausages, beef steaks and onions, vegetarian skewers, and chicken. Pretty basic stuff but great for our hungry traveling gang.

The Glenmore Rooftop - Salads


The Glenmore Rooftop - Sausages

Lamb & rosemary sausages

The Glenmore Rooftop - Steak and onions

Steaks and onions

The Glenmore Rooftop - Vegetarian skewers, chicken

Vegetarian skewers, chicken

Galleon Cafe
9 Carlisle Street
St Kilda VIC 3182
(03) 9534 8934

Glenmore Hotel
96 Cumberland Street
The Rocks NSW 2000
(02) 9247 4794

Review: The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel, Orient Hotel (The Rocks)

Last Friday my sister and I went for an after-work catch-up to The Rocks. Because Lord Nelson beers are highly regarded in my book, I suggested going to the brewery hotel. We arrived around 5:40 and the place was packed, but we managed to score the small table that’s right between the kitchen and staircase doors.

We were hungry, so browsed the bar food menu and decided to order a pizza. Unfortunately, they don’t make food on Friday nights, which is not disclosed anywhere in the menu or in any other visible spot. The option I was given by the cheerful (not!) bar girl was a plate with some stuff to nibble on, enough to feed one or two, for $12. “Okay, give me one”.

While I browsed the menu to choose my drink, a nice British man sitting in the bar told me that they didn’t have two of the five (or so) options, and that they had been replaced by the ones announced in the blackboards. I got a pint of summer ale, went back to the table and told Gladys the news about the food.

Lord Nelson Brewery - Summer Ale

Summer ale

While she was off getting her beer, the plate arrived. It had slices of bread and cheese, three or four sliced pickled gherkins, four pickled onions, a pickled boiled egg cut in half, chutney and mustard. The bread was stale, the cheese was cheap, the pickles were average, the chutney was nice, we didn’t touch the mustard. But we were hungry (I was starving, actually) so we ate it all.

Lord Nelson Brewery - Nibbles plate

Food plate ($12)

Gladys finished her half-pint of summer ale and went to get another beer, this time she bought a half-pint of Old Admiral. We drank our beers and decided to go elsewhere since the good quality of the beers was somehow diminished by the lack of vibe of the place in general.

We walked the streets of The Rocks in the quest for a better place to hang out. As you may have guessed, that is almost impossible on a Friday night. Each pub was more crowded than the previous. Finally we arrived to the Orient Hotel, right next to the markets. Gladys had been there before and there were a few seats left, so we decided to stay.

We weren’t hungry anymore but we always crave food while having drinks. Burgers in the menu sounded good, so we ordered a beef burger with cheddar, bacon, red onion, beetroot, lettuce, tomato & fries. The range of beers on tap was not impressive but at least they had Resch’s and James Squire.

The burger didn’t took long to arrive but looked like it had spent a week on the burner. The bun had been toasted until the edges were burnt. The burger, that tiny round of minced beef that must have been half of the size of the bun, had a thick black crust in one of it sides. It wasn’t slightly charred, it was seriously burnt. The cheddar cheese must have been that whitish wet substance on the lower half of the bun that unfortunately I couldn’t taste with all that carbonisation going on. The bacon on top was ok, although I prefer it crunchier. Weirdly, the red onion, beetroot, lettuce, tomato weren’t in the burger, but on the side. I thought they could have put thicker or more slices of veggies if they were functioning as a side salad of sorts. The chips were mass-produced (i.e. not hand-cut) and therefore, nothing special. In summary, we felt ripped-off.

The Orient Hotel - Beef burger

The Orient Hotel - Beef burger

Beef burger ($14.50)

On the bright side, the vibe was much better than in The Lord Nelson Brewery. There was a guy playing the guitar and singing all the patrons’ favourites (not mine at all, but he had a good voice).

After we finished our beers we decided it was cocktail time. We asked for the cocktail list but they told us we had to go to the restaurant’s bar to get it. “Forget it”, we thought, and started wandering the streets again. Most of the bars were as packed as earlier, and the ones that weren’t were quite expensive. We ended up walking all the way to the GPO in Martin Place. Gladys had a creamy chocolate cocktail that didn’t live up to her expectations and I had another schooner of James Squire Amber Ale.

That night we decided to stick to the good old Newtown/Erskineville pubs to avoid further disappointment.

The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel
19 Kent St
The Rocks NSW 2000
(02) 9251 4044

Orient Hotel
69 George Street
The Rocks NSW 2000
(02) 9251 1255