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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Afghan & Arab Bakery (Afghan Sufra), Lakemba

Fresh Arabic bread from Afghan & Arab Bakery in Lakemba

You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten Arabian bread fresh from the tandoor oven. We’re talking a round of piping hot fluffiness that’s softer than a baby’s cheek. They’re bigger than a dinner plate and only a dollar each at Afghan & Arab Bakery, one of the latest additions to Lakemba’s Haldon Street.

Arabic bread from Afghan & Arab Bakery in Lakemba
Arabic bread $1 each

Join the queue of families grabbing bags of bread to take home or get it wrapped around a skewer of charcoal-grilled meat for the ultimate meal on-the-run. A one skewer kebab will set you back $7 or double up on the meat for $12.

Chicken kebab skewers from Afghan & Arab Bakery in Lakemba
Chicken kebab skewers $16
served with salad and Arabic bread

You can dine in too, although don’t expect much in the way of décor of ambience. This is strictly functional seating with prices to match. Ten bucks gets you a skewer of chicken or lamb with salad, sauces and fresh bread. Upgrade to two or three skewers and swap the salad for rice and you’ve got one monster-sized meal.

Lamb yakhni lamb shanks from Afghan & Arab Bakery in Lakemba
Lamb yakhni $10
served with salad and Arabic bread

The lamb shanks are a treat too. Simmered low and slow in a clear soup, the meat falls right off the bone. You can order it with bread and salad for $10 or bread and Afghan rice for $16. The Kabuli palaw combines long grain rice with raisins and cooked grated carrots.

Qabuli palaw lamb shanks with pilaf rice from Afghan & Arab Bakery in Lakemba
Qabuli palaw $16
Lamb shank with rice and Arabic bread 

Eat with your fingers like the locals do – a sink in the corner lets you wash your hands before and after the carnage – or use cutlery as you please.

Bolani Afghan flat bread stuffed with potato, spring onion and chilli from Afghan & Arab Bakery in Lakemba
Bolani $5
Stuffed with potato, spring onion and chilli 

If you’re looking for spice, check out the bolani ($5), an Afghan flat bread stuffed with potato, spring onion and a good whack of chilli. Grab a bottle of ayran salted yoghurt drink from the fridge if your tongue needs cooling.

And for something different? Try the sheermal ($3.50), a round of slightly sweet flatbread made with milk, wheat flour and sugar.

Making Arabic bread in the tandoor oven at Afghan & Arab Bakery in Lakemba



Afghan & Arab Bakery (Afghan Sufra)
122 Haldon Street, Lakemba, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9750 0002

Open daily 7am-8pm


This article first appeared in Time Out Sydney. Read this article online or read more of my Time Out Sydney reviews.

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 3/19/2017 09:32:00 pm


Sunday, March 05, 2017

Top 5 Things to Do on Bruny Island, Tasmania

The Neck Beach on Bruny Island in Tasmania

Have you ever eaten a wild oyster straight off the rocks? You should. It was just one highlight from our visit to Bruny Island during our recent Hobart holiday. Pristine beaches, crystal blue waters, stunning views and incredible produce. Bruny Island has it all.

Here's a Top 5 list of things you should do when, not if, you visit.

5. Eat Bruny Island Oysters at Get Shucked

Bruny Island oysters at Get Shucked on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Half dozen Bruny Island oysters $11

About 3 million oysters are harvested on Bruny Island every year, a combined effort of about 15 oyster farms. The cold and clean waters of Bruny Island are said to result in sweet and plump oysters with a noticeable briny tang.

Get Shucked menu on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Get Shucked food menu

One of the easiest places to sample Bruny Island oysters is at Get Shucked in Great Bay, a locally owned and operated oyster farm with a fully licensed oyster bar.

Steamed Oriental oysters at Get Shucked on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Steamed Oriental oysters $15 half dozen

Enjoy them freshly shucked and au naturel or served with three different dressings. Only Pacific oysters are cultivated here, and we appreciate their gentle creaminess.

The menu yields a bonanza of oyster variations, everything from oysters Kilpatrick to panko-crumbed deep fried oysters to oyster pate. We try the Oriental oysters, steamed with a zingy dressing of miso, ginger, lime and chilli.

Oyster wontons at Get Shucked on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Oyster wontons $15 half dozen

We also try the oyster wontons. I prefer the barely cooked creaminess of these although the wonton wrappers end up being a little on the doughy side, especially at the top where the folds are pushed together and threaded onto the skewer.

Shucking fresh oysters at Get Shucked on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Shucking fresh oysters

You can pick up your own oyster shucking tips by watching the staff in the glassed-in prep room. Their oyster shucking skills are insane, popping open the shell of each oyster within seconds.

Oyster with a view at Get Shucked on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Oysters with a view

If you're in a super hurry, they have a drive through oyster pick-up (you can even get fries with that) but I think you're better off taking the time to enjoy them at a table outside while you drink in the view.

4. Walk up The Neck for a 360-degree view of Bruny Island

Timber stairs up to The Neck lookout on Bruny Island in Tasmania
200+ timber stairs leading from the sand dunes to The Neck lookout

Bruny Island is actually made up of two islands joined by a narrow isthmus. Climb the 200+ timber stairs up the sand dunes at The Neck - don't worry, they're not too steep and you can rest if you need to - and you'll score yourself a magnificent 360-degree view at the top.

View of the isthmus from The Neck lookout on Bruny Island in Tasmania
View of the isthmus connected north and south Bruny Island

Bask in the sweeping views, including the gentle rise of south Bruny Island before you as well as the difference in waters between the waves crashing onto the beach on the left and the gentler waters of the bay on the right.

The Neck beach on Bruny Island in Tasmania
The Neck beach

The Neck beach and the Neck Game Reserve on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Boardwalk down to The Neck beach and The Neck Game Reserve 


You can also walk down to The Neck beach and explore The Neck Game Reserve. Time your visit at dusk and you may be able to spot the island's local colony of fairy penguins.

Tip: If you are heading up the stairs to the lookout, bring a jacket. It tends to get very blustery with cold winds up at the top.

3. Wet your whistle at Bruny Island House of Whisky

The Nant and Dark Valley Tasmanian whisky at Bruny Island House of Whisky on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Tasmanian whiskies

So all that walking made you work up a thirst? Stop in at the Bruny Island House of Whisky for an unparalleled selection of Tasmanian whiskies, gins, wines and spirits.

Single malt whiskies at Bruny Island House of Whisky on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Single malt whiskies

There are 20 whisky distilleries in Tasmania, an industry that has flourished since 1992. Tasmania's pristine and ice cold waters are said to be a vital ingredient in the success of its whiskies. In 2014, Sullivan's Cove French Oak Cask was named The World's Best Single Malt at the World Whiskies Awards, a monumental achievement in an industry in which Australia produces just 0.01% of the world's whisky.

The range of whiskies at the bar is mindblowing. If you can't decide, pull up a stool at the bar and mosey through a flight of four Tasmanian single malt whiskies for $35.

Tasmanian gins at Bruny Island House of Whisky on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Tasmanian gins

We head to the other side of the bar where it's gin city. The number and types of gin is phenomenal. For $30 you can choose a flight of four gins to sip through. Our tasting went through three stages: neat, with ice, and finally with tonic water and/or cucumber. At the end of the flight you select your favourite and they'll pour you a full serve to enjoy.

I liked the Seclusion so much, I bought a bottle to take home. It's the first gin released by Bruny Island, with just 140 bottles only available for sale here.

Whiskies at Bruny Island House of Whisky on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Whiskies galore


2. Eat cheese at Bruny Island Cheese Co

Entrance to Bruny Island Cheese Co on Bruny Island in Tasmania

You can combine touristing, shopping and lunch at Bruny Island Cheese Co, first started by Nick Haddow in 2003. The artisan cheese company first came to the attention of many Australians when it was featured in the TV series Gourmet Farmer by former restaurant critic, Matthew Evans. Today it has a huge following, especially its Cheese Club that delivers a selection of cheeses to your door eight times a year.

Cheese maturing room at Bruny Island Cheese Co on Bruny Island in Tasmania
View into the cheese maturing room

The Bruny Island Cheese Co cellar door is a new and beautiful rustic building, combining cheese shop, retail store, bar and cafe. Better yet, you can press your nose against the glass and admire the cheeses quietly maturing in the coolroom.

Molds on whole wheels of cheese at Bruny Island Cheese Co on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Moulds on cheeses


Wheels of cheese in the maturing room at Bruny Island Cheese Co on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Wheels of cheese

Bruny Island beers at Bruny Island Cheese Co on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Bruny Island beer tasting paddle: [L-R] Oxymoron dark pale ale, Whey Stout, Farm Ale and Lighthouse Ale.

Onsite you'll also find the Bruny Island Beer Co, a clever partnership that uses some cheese byproducts, like the leftover cow's milk whey in the whey stout.

It's worth timing your visit here with lunchtime so you can take a seat under the eucalyptus trees outside and relax with a selection of cheeses and a beer tasting paddle.

Bruny Island Cheese Co tasting platter with George, Saint and ODO on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Bruny Island Cheese Co platter $30
[Clockwise from front]: George, Saint and ODO with sourdough, pickles and quincy jelly

The cheese platter changes from day to day. We score a wedge of George, a semi-hard cow's cheese that is aged for five months.

The Saint is a soft white mould cows cheese, not dissimilar to a brie, with its oozing gooey ripe centre.

ODO One Day Old fresh cheese at Bruny Island Cheese Co on Bruny Island in Tasmania
ODO 

We also get to try the ODO, a fresh cow made from cow's milk marinated in olive oil. ODO is named for its approximate age: one day old. It's ideal for slathering on slices of the warm and crusty sourdough baguette.

Prosciutto, Jerry and Saint cheese at Bruny Island Cheese Co on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Ploughman's lunch $25
Prosciutto, Jerry, olives, Saint, pickles, sourdough and quince paste

The Ploughman's lunch includes another wedge of Saint as well as Jerry, a lactic-set cow's milk cheese that reminds me of the middle of a burrata with its mild and milky creaminess.

Woodfired sourdough pizza with Tom and Bruny Island olives at Bruny Island Cheese Co on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Woodfired sourdough pizza with Tom and Bruny Island olives $18

Our woodfired sourdough pizza is strewn with Bruny Island olives as well as pockets of melted Tom cheese, a hard cow cheese that stretches deliciously when heated.

Oven baked Otto cheese at Bruny Island Cheese Co on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Oven baked Otto $25

Our group of six finishes with the crowd favourite, the oven baked Otto. A fresh cheese is wrapped in prosciutto and baked in the oven for fifteen minutes so the prosciutto gets all crispy and the cheese melts into a hot puddle of deliciousness.

Lunch at Bruny Island Cheese Co on Bruny Island in Tasmania

1. Just drive 

Blue waters on Bruny Island in Tasmania

Bruny Island is large enough that you'll need a car to travel around its 362 square kilometres. There aren't a large number of roads across the island, and not all of them are sealed, but it's worth just driving and stopping when and as you please, especially along its coastline. You'll be stopping more often than you think.

Dennes Point on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Dennes Point

Wild oysters on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Stumbling upon wild oysters

We even stumbled upon a crop of wild oysters growing on a rocky outcrop.

Freshly shucked wild oyster on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Wild Bruny Island oysters

They're not quite as plump and fattened as farmed oysters but there's no greater joy - and sense of humility - than shucking and eating an oyster right where it's been growing quietly for years.

Adventure Bay on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Adventure Bay


How to get to Bruny Island from Hobart

Catching the ferry from Hobart to Bruny Island in Tasmania
On the vehicular ferry crossing the D'Entrecasteaux Channel 

Bruny Island is only accessible by ferry. The Bruny Island Ferry leaves from Kettering (about a 40 minute drive from Hobart) and makes a 20 minute crossing to Bruny Island. Two ferries run from 6.30am until about 7pm. Check the website for seasonal ferry times.

The ferry price is charged per vehicle. Passengers and pedestrians are free. We paid $38 for a return journey for our car.

During peak days, especially weekends and public holidays, it's worth arriving at the ferry terminal early as each ferry only has a limited capacity for cars. Sometimes you may have to wait another hour for the next ferry. If you don't make it onto the last ferry, don't worry, they'll come back for you as long as you are already in the queue!

Approaching Bruny Island in Tasmania
Approaching Roberts Point on North Bruny Island


Bruny Island Cheese Co
1807 Main Road, Great Bay, Bruny Island, Tasmania
Tel: +61 (03) 6260 6353
Open daily 9.30am-5pm

Bruny Island House of Whisky
360 Lennon Road, North Bruny Island, Tasmania
Tel: +61 (03) 6260 6344
Open daily 9.30am-5.30pm (hours may vary through seasons)

Get Shucked
Lease 204, 1735 Bruny Island Main Road, Great Bay, North Bruny Island, Tasmania
Tel: +61 (0)439 303 597
Open daily 9.30am-5pm (closed Christmas Day)


Related Grab Your Fork posts
Hobart - Pigeon Whole Bakers and Pigeon Hole Cafe
Hobart - Salamanca Market

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 3/05/2017 07:10:00 pm


Monday, February 27, 2017

Jasmin1, Punchbowl

Falafel, tabbouleh and pickles at Jasmin1 in Punchbowl Sydney

Looking for a cheap feed that'll suit the vegetarians, meat eaters and carb avoiders in your life? Jasmin1 ticks every box. Deliciously. No wonder this Lebanese restaurant has been a longtime favourite with locals, as well as those happy to travel for good food.

You'll find a mix of families, couples and large groups of friends gathered here, for breakfast, lunch or an early dinner. The furniture is simple but functional but the recessed domes in the ceiling and the large paintings of dessert landscapes help set the scene. Help yourself to drinks from the fridge at the front and use the communal sink if you want to eat like a local and use your hands.

Complimentary pickles, tomatoes and mint at Jasmin1 in Punchbowl Sydney
Complimentary pickles, tomatoes and mint

The hospitality begins as soon as you sit down. A complimentary plate of pickled turnips, chillies, olives and gherkins will get your appetite going. Ripe tomato wedges and mint add a burst of freshness for the palate.

Complimentary toum garlic sauce, tahini sesame sauce and chilli at Jasmin1 in Punchbowl Sydney
Complimentary toum garlic sauce, tahini sesame sauce and chilli

They'll all come in handy after you attack the complimentary toum, or garlic sauce, with gusto. And let's face it. Resistance is futile. This fluffy temptation is a miraculous emulsification of garlic and olive oil. Nothing else. You'll want to dip everything in it, from the soft triangles of fresh Lebanese bread (also free) to falafel to lamb to chicken. Everything goes with garlic.

Hommus chickpea dip at Jasmin1 in Punchbowl Sydney
Hommus $8

Hommus is so far removed from the watery and rubbly supermarket versions you'll never want to stoop that low ever again. There's a noticeable silkiness to the pureed chickpeas here, seasoned generously, but not over-zealously, with tahini sesame paste and lemon.

Baba ghannouj eggplant dip at Jasmin1 in Punchbowl Sydney
Baba ghannouj eggplant dip $8

The baba ghannouj is smooth as well. It's not as smoky as others I've tried, but there's still a satisfying heartiness to this paprika-dusted eggplant dip.

Lamb shish kebabs at Jasmin1 in Punchbowl Sydney
Shish kebab $13


Carnivores should definitely order the shish kebab. You'll be rewarded with four kebabs of tender lamb cubes, interspersed with chunks of onion that have caramelised over the grill. The lamb is succulent and juicy. Needless to say, it goes terrifically with garlic sauce.

Charcoal chicken thigh fillet at Jasmin1 in Punchbowl Sydney
Charcoal chicken $13

We've tried both the chicken strips and whole chicken thighs available here. The charcoal chicken thighs are the winner in my eyes. Grab a whole one or slice them up to share. I love how the meats arrive draped within a blanket of Lebanese bread to stop the meat drying out throughout your meal.

Tabbouleh at Jasmin1 in Punchbowl Sydney
Tabbouleh $7

Vegetarians can load up on dips and salads, including perennial favourite, tabbouleh. Parsley, crushed wheat, onion, tomato and lemon juice are a mouthful of zing, appreciated on its own or as a counter to carnivorous excess.

Fresh fried falafel at Jasmin1 in Punchbowl Sydney
Falafel $7

Golden fried falafel are one of my must-orders too. Few things are as satisfying. It's the initial crunch of that deep fried shell before it gives way to a piping hot core of crushed chickpeas seasoned with cumin, herbs and secret spices.

Inside the crunchy falafel at Jasmin1 in Punchbowl Sydney
Inside the falafel

Non-carb eaters can skip the Lebanese bread but noone should pass up that garlic sauce. Noone.

DSCF9688-1702


Jasmin1 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jasmin1
224 The Boulevarde, Punchbowl, Sydney
Tel: +61 02)9740 7866

Open 7 days 8.30am-10.30pm


Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Al Aseel, Greenacre
Hijazi's Falafel, Arncliffe
Jasmin, Lakemba


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 2/27/2017 12:46:00 am



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