Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ikea, Rhodes

The W and I believe we are infected with "Ikea Spores..."

What are Ikea Spores you ask?

Ikea Spores are little micro-organisms that make you happy when you come to Ikea. It makes you happy when you spend money at Ikea. It makes you happy with all things Ikea even if you've never had an interest in them before (for me it was looking at lamp shades and manchester), and it will make you happy thinking about coming back to Ikea in the near future.

The W and I have a hunch that the Ikea Spores are in the food - which always make us happy!!

On a serious note...back to the food...

What an ingenious idea Ikea have with their marketing to start your day off with a $3 breakfast of bacon, sausage, hash browns (mmmm!), egg, and grilled tomato or $7.50 for brunch/lunch of 15 Swedish meatballs with fries. It makes you think "What a bargain, I've already saved on lunch so I can spend more on furniture or lampshades" - he he he !!

As we all slept in, we missed out on breakfast and all agreed that the Ikea spores in us were saying "Must have Meatballs!!" - who are we to argue with spores.

The meatballs were gorgeous as usual. Soft and tender on the inside with a slight crispiness on the outside. I'm not sure what the gravy is? It tastes something between gravy and cheese sauce, not too heavy. With a side of freshly cooked golden fries and dollop of lingon berry sauce to complement them what a great way to start your shopping day!!

I also wondered how long the kitchen staff have worked there. The dude that shovels the meat balls on the plates always seem to get the correct amount with no signs of counting in his head. I've always hoped that I would score an extra meatball or two but thus such luck :(

Drinks are self serve, and re-fillable. I was feeling a bit daring and went for the lingon berry soda. Tastes like cranberry juice only not as tart and with the fizziness. It's quite refreshing, but doesn't seem to taste the same as the lingon berry sauce that came with the meatballs. $1.95 for refillable drinks is a steal. They also have self serve cappuccino - and newly installed - hot chocolate. I had a glance on my way back from a refill at someone's hot chocolate - it looked really good. A definite try for our next visit :P

But why stop there when the cafeteria has a selection of meals/desserts available. Lobo opted for the Portuguese tart which was creamy/custardy as we would expect. The pastry was light and still quite crisp given that it was served chilled rather than room temp.
We also shared the Daim cake which tasted a lot lighter than what I expected from it's heavy chocolately appearance. The cake had a thin layer of chocolate spread in the centre with sprinkling of peanuts (I think??) topped with the famous Swedish chocolate coated toffee nuggets - a very good combo indeed!!

After spending $80 more than what we intended (oops!! the spores made me do it), as soon as you leave the checkout on your way out there in all its glory is another food store. So many interesting and tasty looking Swedish foods from Princess cake to frozen crayfish. The counter also serves $1 hot-dogs and $0.50 icecreams. Even though we've stuffed ourselves upstairs, at these prices who could resist not to get something extra? We did restrain ourselves and settled for the icecream. Ooh, and apparently there's an all you can eat crayfish festival on around October for $20/person :)

Since my last visit they've gone all fancy with a self serve icecream machine. You place the cone in a robotic arm, press the go button and it perfectly fills the cone - too bad you can't press it twice for a Mega-cone :P Although still very satisfying they have downgraded the waffle cone to a standard cone - but again, who can really complain - it's fifty cents!!

Have you got Ikea Spores?

Till next time...we eat!!


Monday, March 23, 2009

Chocolate Rocks!!

Which is Rock and which is Choc?...You decide.

I was shopping around for fillers for MiniB's birthday lolly bags looking through the masses of different varieties of easter eggs and novelty candy when I stumbled on a rock...a chocolate rock!!

I bet Willy Wonka would have invented these back in his hey-day. He probably would have paved his drive way with them :) These are made by Walkers Chocolates from the UK.

Similar to the sugar coated easter eggs (a close 2nd to my favourite caramel centred eggs), chocolate rocks have a hard but non-jaw-breaking outer shell with milk chocolate filling, and a white-hazelnut centre. I'm not sure exactly what the centre is made of and the packet was lacking any description of the candy. It definately had crushed hazel nuts and the consistency is similar to praline, only a bit harder in texture. What ever it was it was mighty tasty. :P The chocolate was also suprisingly smooth and chocolatey - not like your cheap sugary chocolate you would expect in such novelty confectionary.

Just when I finish uploading all my shots, the W finds that there is also a choc centre in the black nuggets - mmmm!!. We devoured the packet overnight - nom nom nom!!

There's also a Rum & Rasin version but they didn't look as interesting and I'm not a big fan of rasins. They looked like mouldy pond stones so I gave it a miss.

Oh, in case you were still wondering...the brown stone in the top picture was a real stone - ha ha hah!! Who said rocks were boring :P

Till next time....we eat!!


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Capoeira Festival

Capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian art form that incorporates dance, martial arts, music and acrobatics. Believed to have been developed by African slaves brought over from Angola as a guise for practicing the martial arts that their slave-masters forbade. Australian now has one of the largest Capoeira communities in the world and where there is Capoeira, there will surely be Brazilian food.

Guarana Antarctica. Brazil's version of Mountain Dew. Taste leans more towards a semi-deflated creaming soda, with apple and berry undertones which really works. Trying to avoid looks of confusion when I was ordering it in Brazil the best way I can describe its pronunciation is Gwa-la-na. Apparently it's only made in three countries Portugal, Brazil and Japan (thanks Wiki) so grab it if you ever have a chance.

Next up is Feijoada (Fesh-wa-da) the national dish of Brazil. A black bean stew, traditionally made with the off cuts of meat like the ears, trotters, snouts etc the one I bought was somewhat lacking in these little delicacies. Replaced instead with pork belly, dried beef, and chorizo and topped with Farofa, it all adds up to one hearty meal. My preference is to have this as a side dish, it was extremely nice, but a little thick and dry in that quantity. Serve it up with a churrasco (charcoal bbq'd meats, try the chicken hearts!) and that'll make my day.

Finally for dessert a frozen berry product called Acai (a-sigh-ee). The flyer claims that this product makes Brazilian soccer players play better, and Brazilian bikini babes look hotter and sexier. It also reduces blood cholesterol, is high in antioxidants, high in fibre and fights infections. Unverified claims aside, it's an enjoyable ice treat that tastes like chocolate berries. I still have doubts about looking good in a pair of speedos but I did play better in soccer so you never know. If you want to find out for yourself check out because whether it works or not, it tastes pretty good, and that's what it's all about.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Snack du Jour!

Tempura Seaweed! Who would have thought! I love tempura in Japanese restaurants and I love seaweed - both the health benefits and the taste! Little did I know that these two could combine to make a tasty snack that you can eat any time.

I bought these made in Thailand snacks at my local Chinese grocery store . They look a little like pork crackling and have a similar degree of crunch without the jaw breaking hardness. As I expected them to be greasy, too salty or too spicy for my taste, I only bought one pack.

Despite the promise of 25% more at the same price, when I opened the pack and all the air disappeared, the contents settled into the bottom third. So much for the promise! Ah, but once I took my first bite, I was hooked!

The saltiness of the seaweed combined with the sweetness of the tempura batter with added spices - for someone who is hooked on crispy snacks (hello potato chips, flavoured pita crackers, roasted chickpeas, wasabi peas, garlic broadbeans - not to mention the recently discovered wasabi edamame!) this is heaven!
There is a "spicy" version but the original flavour was spicy enough for me!
The pack disappeared quickly and the next day I had to buy three more. My only worry is, like most of these things, once you discover them, you also discover that they don't make them any more. There's one pack left on the rack at the grocery store, should I buy it ...?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ribs & Rumps, North Ryde

Ribs & Rumps has always been the perfect place to dine when you haven't eaten for a week. I've been to the one in Gordon a couple of times before but this was the first time at North Ryde. Reason for visiting the restaurant, well we don't really need one now do we?

Ribs & Rumps North Ryde is situated in a business park on Talavera Road. It's easy to miss the turn in, so keep your eyes peeled. The restaurant itself, is L shaped with most of the seating area located outside under a canopy tent with clear plastic walls. The atmosphere is relaxed and filled with loud conversation and old music but not too much that you can't hear the people at your table. Compared to the Gordon store which was a Pizza Hut restaurant previously, North Ryde has much more elbow room in it's seating layout which is definitely needed for the large chopping block/serving plate that your meal comes on.

So the food thus enter stage left. Half a chicken and a rack of pork ribs done to perfection with a side of fries and optional creamy garlic sauce. The chicken was moist and marinated well, the pork ribs were soft and tender. The fries though less plentiful than in the past (not that there was a remote chance of finishing it anyway) were crunchy even when they had gone cold. The creamy garlic sauce was a undisclosed up sell and wasn't really worth $2.95, especially since they provide the table with tomato and HP sauce anyway.

The only unusual drink on offer was a South Australian, Bavarian styled larger, micro brewed by a wine maker in Clare Valley. Knappstein though suffering from a bit of a identity crisis, was light with fruity undertones and went well with the meal. Try it once, for sure. Try it twice, only if you can afford the $9 price tag.

Pet hates: Insufficient napkins, rowdy waiter that man handles the ladies in a loud, intended playful manner which really isn't, upselling on sauces and wines.

Pretty much all the meat on the menu is done in the same marinade but it's a great flavour so why bother with anything else. Unlike the Gordon store which on my last visit burnt the marinade and overcooked all the meat, North Ryde did a really good job and everyone was happy with what they got. In that respect I would definitely choose North Ryde over Gordon in the future because though it has it's flaws in service, the food is what it's really all about.