Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review | Hot Star Chicken, Sydney

Chicken the size of your face! That’s what the people say about Hot Star’s fried chicken. But was that the only thing that was special about this chicken? In the CBD with a hungry belly, I stopped by Hot Star. It was quick to order but a bit of a wait time to get your meal, as they make everything once ordered.

I ordered myself the "Hungry Combo" which was $10.90, which for me meant a Spicy chicken and a side of fried mushrooms.

The chicken was indeed the size of my face! The spiciness of the chilli version comes from the seasoning that they put over the original chicken and gives it a yummy, spicy look. The chilli did have a tinge of a kick but nothing too overwhelming. But once you get about half way through the chicken it gets a bit same same and I got over it.

First look at the serving of the mushrooms, I was a little disappointed by the small serving. Especially when I tasted my first one and loved the salty, fried flavour. However, they were pretty greasy so the serving was more than enough.

So, would I go back? Maybe for the fried mushrooms.

Hot Star Large Fried Chicken on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fashion Spotlight: DFO and Bauer Media's Shopper of the Year

Source: Cleo Australia, Instagram

$200 and 45 minutes to find and style an outfit. Last Friday, 50 finalists were released at DFO Homebush to do exactly that, with two winners being picked at the end of the day to go into the running to be named "Shopper of the Year"  (and win $5000!). I was lucky enough to be one of these 50 finalists.

Hosted by former Miss Universe Australia, Renae Ayris and judged by Alissa Thomas, Fashion Director for Cleo magazine and Alex Carlton, Editor of Shop Til You Drop magazine.

The day was a lot of fun, running around like mad women shopping up a storm. I felt slightly like a celebrity, being followed by the photographers and being stopped and asked what I was wearing. In addition to keeping anything that we bought, we were also gifted with a goodie bag. Although I didn't get a win, I was pretty happy with my haul (see below), all coming in under $200!

My final outfit is pictured below, coming in at around $110. The sweater and skort is from Glasson, heels from Wanted, socks from Bonds and necklace from Collette.

Source: DFO Homebush Facebook page

Source: DFO Homebush Facebook page

The two looks below (yes, that's be in the background accidentally photo bombing!) are the ones that got selected as winners on the day and will go into the running to be Shopper of the Year!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Recipe | Lemon cream and curd stack

Lemon desserts are quickly become the alternative favourite to chocolate. Being a lemon fan myself, I decided to do some experimenting in the kitchen and came up with this easy dessert. I was particularly surprised with how well the lemon cream turned out; so light, tangy and fresh! I even used the extras to fill a chocolate cake.


1. Thaw out 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry
2. Slice into six rectangles. Sprinkle with icing sugar.
3. Cooking according to packet description

Lemon Cream

1 cup Double cream
1 cup Icing sugar
1 lemon, juiced

  1. Beat cream and icing sugar until it becomes more thicker and stiff in consistency.
  2. Fold in lemon. Taste, if you feel its need more sweetening, add more icing sugar. Likewise, for the lemon juice.

Lemon Curd (adapted from Maggie Beer's recipe)

4 Egg yolks
75 g Caster sugar
3 tsps Lemon zest
80 ml Lemon juice
40 g butter

  1. Whisk yolks and sugar in a small saucepan, until pale
  2. Add the zest and butter, then place the saucepan over very low heat
  3. Cook the mixture, whisking continuously for about 7 minutes or when thickened into curd.
And now that you the three different elements prepared, its time to assemble! I sprinkled some more sugar on the pastries and ran over it with a blowtorch but that is an optional step.

Blowtorched or not, coat three of the pastry slices with curd, top with a generous helping of lemon cream (you can pipe it on if you want to be fancy), and then top with another slice of pastry.

Warning- as yummy as this is to eat, it can also be a little messy!

p.s I'm giving you a chance to win a free dinner, enter here now!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Greece, Part Five: Santorini, On Our Own

Lying on a slab of concrete with my Ipod in, I was strangely relaxed considering I didn’t have any idea how we were going to get home or where “home” even was from here. For an island that was so touristy, it sure was hard to get around Santorini on your own.

It was our first “non busabout” day in the Greek Islands, after bidding them goodbye the night before. We opted for a relaxed day visiting the Red Beach, which we only briefly got to visit the day before.

Red Beach

After a nice sleep in we checked out of our room and checked into Katerina and John Hotel. Definitely more hostel than hotel, and the princess in me was a little turned off by the room at first sight, but it ended up being fine and I got a good sleep and didn’t get bed bugs, which for me is an accommodation win!

We then walked to the bus stop. There was no real indication of when the bus would come but we assumed it was the right place because there was a group of tourists waiting there as well. After waiting for 5 minutes, I asked some of the people gathered if they knew what time the bus was coming. They told me they had no idea but they had been waiting for ages with no sight of a bus and weren’t even sure if it was coming. Uh oh, not a good sign. I reported my findings to Carly and Mel and we discussed what we should do. It was decided that maybe we should try our luck walking to the beach instead (some of the people gathered at the bus stop had said that was one option, although would be a very long walk). The walk in the heat, hunger from no breakfast plus the uncertainty if we were even headed in the right direction did result in some bickering and we ended up deciding walking was probably not the smartest option and we could re-evaluate over some breakfast. So we headed to the bakery, located across from the bus stop. And I guess the universe decided to be kind to us because as we were finishing up our breakfast I spotted a bus coming down the road, so we bolted for it and made it in time!

Once arriving at Red Beach, we stopped for lunch and the people there were so nice and gave us a free dessert- yogurt with honey, topped with a honeyed/caramelised tomato. I’m usually not a fan of tomatoes but I loved these sweetened ones and sadly haven’t seen them around since.

We then beached it up on Red Beach (another rocky beach so bit hard to get comfortable if you don’t want to pay for a sun lounge, like us). Funnily enough, while we were lying there we spotted two German girls that had been waiting for the bus. Turned out the girls also gave up on waiting for the bus so decided to walk- which took them over an hour! Poor girls!

Getting home from the beach was a total disaster, we just missed a bus which was too full to take anyone so we made ourselves comfortable, settling in with our music devices and hoped that a bus would eventually come as we had no idea how to walk home and there were no taxis.. It must have nearly an hour but a bus did finally arrive.

Starting to feel a little under the weather (we had gotten sick in Paros), we decided instead of a night out we would indulge in a big, decadent dinner. We picked a cute restaurant by the water and ordered four appetisers and a main each. When we considered ordering more, the waiter told us enough! Never had staff tell us to stop ordering, but he was right, we struggled to finish it all.  And despite advising us to stop ordering, the waiter bought us each a slice of orange cake with banana ice cream on the house, which we thought was very sweet.

Despite the public transport mishaps, we did have a nice, relaxing day which was topped off with two free desserts!



It was our fourth and final day in Santorini, and our second day sans Busabout. We booked a Volcano-Hot Springs-Oia tour through the local internet café. There are several of these tour options available and I would highly recommend doing one of these. You get to see heaps and don’t have to rely on the public transport system to get around!

The mode of transport for the tour was a  pirate-esque boat which first took us to the volcanic island, Nea Kameni. Unlike the volcanoes that are normally portrayed on television and movies, the one on Nea Kameni was more like a giant crater. A tip for the day is wear sensible walking shoes, we were not expecting to have to hike at all and poor Carly wore thongs, one of which ended up breaking mid walk!

On top of Nea Kameni

After the volcano we boarded back on the boat (where I had a total coughing fit, damn that Paros sickness. I was a little embarrassed because I couldn’t stop and a sweet Italian man even came over and gave a me a toffee, hoping that would help!), the boat then stopped by the hot springs/mud bath. It was really fun, we got to dive off the boat into the water which was cold until you swam a little further out, where it was warmer. Honestly, the mud bath looked a little dirty (dirty for a mud bath, ie hairs and other things mixed in) and having already had two mud bath experiences in Turkey we opted not to partake this time, instead enjoying the water.

The boat then took us to a small island, Thirissia where we had lunch and chilled out before heading to Oia. We had heard that the Donkeys on the island were treated cruelly so decided instead of taking the donkeys up, we would walk up hundreds of steps to get to the town instead. Even though it was a painful climb, we had a clear conscious and probably toner legs.

Donkeys passing us as we climbed up the stairs

It was our second Oia sunset and we were determined to witness a proposal so were sussing out all the couples, we thought we were onto a winner when we spotted a couple where the male was looking a little nervous and kept feeling his pocket- but alas the sun set and we saw no proposal.

We then headed back on the bus, our sickness fully catching up with Carly and myself so we opted to go to bed straight away, hoping to recover for Ios the next day. 

Stayed tuned for my post on Ios, the final part of my posts about Greece!

p.s I'm giving you a chance to win a free dinner, enter here now!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review | Jamie's Italian, Sydney

When it comes to Jamie's Italian I have read and heard some mixed reviews, some claim its amazing while others argue its over hyped. Despite the negative reviews, I have wanted to check it out for some time so finally made a booking and made it happen.

Despite having a booking, we still had to wait around 15 minutes for our table to be cleared and when we were finally seated it was at a table right near the kitchen, meaning it was very noisy. And although it meant we did have to speak up, it also felt like we got an exclusive peek into a service kitchen.

First up, we decided to order the mixed Italian bread selection($1.50, we ordered and were charged for three but only were served two but didn't bring it up),  fried three cheese gnocci ($10, ordered two lots) and their apparently famous polenta chips ($8.50, ordered two lots). We shared these amongst the eight of us, and I think it was the right amount, as we got a good taste of everything without becoming too full.

Fried gnocchi up front and the polenta chips sitting pretty behind
Even though it was the gnocchi that I was determined to try that night, the polenta chips ended up being my favourite. Well-seasoned and crispy on the outside and deliciously soft on the inside. So good, and I guess that is why they are famous! The gnocchi was also good, but did not live up to my expectations. I was hoping for crispier and cheesier bites.

Next up were the mains. Prone to getting full fast and wanting to have dessert, I ordered the entree sized sausage pappardelle ($13.50). When it was served I was a bit disappointed just based on looks, but I quickly learnt not to judge a book by its cover. The dish was nice, again well seasoned and the breadcrumbs added a nice crunch. And it was just the perfect size serving for me as well, enough to fill me up but still leaving room for a little dessert.

I also got to try a bites of a few other dishes. The lamb and ricotta tortellini ($26.50) looked amazing but the taste was pretty average, and the pasta tasted a little under cooked. I also tried the veal flash steak, which was nice but was a  very thin slice of meat so not the most filling dish ($28.50).

Sausage Pappardelle

Lamb and ricotta tortellini
Being a lemon dessert lover, I naturally opted for the lemon meringue pie ($10.50), that was served with what we guessed was glazed orange or mandarin and pistachio brittle. It was the fluffiest meringue I've had! Melted in my mouth. The brittle was nice and I would of liked more, and could of done without the glazed fruit as it was a little bitter.

Overall I enjoyed the food at Jamie's and the prices were decent. For someone that was starving or time poor, I wouldn't recommend it as there was lots of waiting, both for a table and for each meal. We had a 6pm booking and left at 9.30pm, and didn't even linger afterwards chatting. But if it's just good Italian you are after- then Jamie's Italian is a go.

p.s I'm giving you a chance to win a free dinner- check out how here.

Jamie's Italian on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Menulog Giveaway (a.k.a win a free dinner!)

House in Tillford has partnered up with Menulog to host a giveaway, up for grabs is a $20 Menulog voucher.

Menulog is Australia's number one online takeway site. I was given a chance to try out the service myself, and it was super easy. Go onto Menulog, search your local area which brings up a list of restaurants you can order from. You can narrow it down by the type of cuisine you want, for example Indian or Italian. I was surprised how many options there was and selected a local Indian resturant, Masala Times. I actually placed the order that morning- 2 Chicken Tikka Masala's and a rita. Which cost a little under $30. About an hour before it was delivered, I got a confirmation text. Too easy and minimal effort.

I enjoyed the Chicken Tikka Masala, and it actually had a decent amount of chicken (unlike other places I've tried that's mostly vegetable), and although three of us had it, I had enough left over for lunch the next day.

With the cold rolling in, dinner arriving at your door step is perfect. So how can you score yourself a free dinner from Menulog? As you can  see below, you can like House in Tillford on Facebook for two entries, or leave a comment below for one or do both and score three entries. Competition is open for Australian residents only and ends on the 13th of July

Competition is  now closed, winner will be contacted by the 19th July.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Review | Parliament On King, Newtown (Plus, how we became part of the Coldplay filmclip!)

Had our day gone to plan, this would be a review of Parliament On King and Black Star Pastry. But the day didn't play out how we had intended, and instead of watermelon cake we accidentally ended up in a Coldplay filmclip!

But let's start at the beginning. Planning a catch up with Carly and Mel ( featured here), Mel suggested we try Parliament On King because on Tuesday the cafe is run by asylum seekers and refugees, with the owners allowing them to get real hospitality experience. 

We arrived at the cafe around 1pm, and I was surprised it was such a tiny space, probable only able to fit ten or so diners. I found out that the cafe not only doubles as a book stores, but also the worker's lounge room after close. The small space gave the cafe a cosy, homey feel and the staff working there were very warm and welcoming. We each ordered a bean tortilla ($5.50), and Carly and Mel ordered a coffee and banana smoothie, respectively, which they both really enjoyed. Our tortillas were tasty and fresh. In a bad food blogger move, I did not get a picture of it but it was very home style. Beans and salsa wrapped simply in a tortilla and served as is.  

Still hungry after just one tortilla, we decided to head down to the other side of Newtown to see if we could catch a glimpse of the Coldplay filmclip we heard was being filmed there that day. Thinking our chances were slim, we thought even if we didn't see Coldplay, we could grab something else to eat and check out Black Star Pastry (which I have been keen to try for ages now).

On our walk down, who is to cross our path but Coldplay themselves and large herd of followers! We watched on, slightly stunned, as they walked straight past us. Later we chuckled over the chance of that happening as we devoured some $3 tacos from Beach Burrito.

I then eagerly lead the girls to Black Star Pastry, excited to finally taste the desserts that have been the talk of the foodie community. There was still a crowd of Coldplay fans and media lingering around the courtyard in front of Black Star, so we had to make our way through. When we did make our way, I was devastated to find that the cafe was closed! As I began to express my disappointment, the crowd that was gathered nearby began to cheer, and music begun to play louder, and then Coldplay entered singing "A Sky Full of Stars". Turns out it wasn't a random crowd that were lingering, but the "set" for the final scene of the filmclip! We quickly joined the crowd and joined in the fun, as confetti of white stars rained on us. After the song Chris Martin thanked everyone for being there, and said they were going to redo that scene so if we could all recreate that moment, it would be great. We couldn't believe what we had stumbled into! Coldplay fans had waited from the crack of dawn to be a part of this and we had accidentally become a part of it! Coldplay returned about 15 minutes later, and performed the song twice again. I was amazed at how good Chris Martin was acoustically. 

So we didn't get to try Black Star's famous watermelon cake, but seeing Coldplay perform and being part of their filmclip was definitely  consolation ;) See the clip below (I even managed to find myself!)

Parliament on King on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 16, 2014

Review | Circa, Parramatta

As the hipster trend holds strong, Newtown-esque cafes and bars have been popping up all over Sydney. In the west, one the more popular hipster gems is Parramatta's Circa. The converted cafe already had a crowd waiting to be seated when we arrived (Saturday morning, around 11am) but we were lucky enough to be seated within minutes at a table big enough for our group of six. 

We spent a long time perusing the menu, oo-ing over the exotic coffees and teas and struggling to decide between the tempting dishes. Having already scoped out the menu online, I was surprised to see more choices on offer when in store. I was torn between the sweet french toast and the Ottoman Eggs, which I had planned on ordering the day before after looking up the menu. I finally decided to go with the Ottoman Eggs ($17), and was pleased with my choice.

The poached eggs were served a top of a slice of crumbed eggplant, a generous helping of garlic labne and a delicious slice of baguette. All the elements went well together, and it was filling without feeling heavy. My only tiny complaint would be that the yolks were too firm for my liking, I much prefer them oozing out everywhere.

Circa was bustling the whole time were there, and the tiny space meant there was only enough room for one way traffic which I'm sure is a pain for service but our table was tucked away in the back so wasn't a big issue for us but I'm sure other diners probably had to deal with being bumped into.

Overall, I would recommend Circa for a nice brunch/lunch occasion. Its not the cheapest spot so maybe not a regular haunt but definitely a place to go when feel like you deserve a treat (and after submitting a 5000 word paper the night before, I certainly was!).

Circa on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Greece, Part Four: Santorini with Busabout

It was towards the end of the tour, so of course a sickness had begun to spread throughout the group like wildfire (seems to be a common occurrence in travel groups). The morning that we were to depart to Santorini, we all woke up with complaints of funny, sore throats. Despite the sickliness and the sleep deprivation, the three hour ferry ride from Paros to Santorini wasn’t too bad. Probably because by this time most of the group had bonded, so chatting and gossiping helped pass the time.

Once arriving in Santorini, we made our way to our accommodation, Blue Horizon. It was conveniently located down the road from where most of the Busabout group were staying so no long treks to meet up with them, like we had in Mykonos. Once again, despite booking the cheapest accommodation we could find, we were spoilt with a huge room that included our own bathroom and sitting area.

Oia, Santorini

We then finally got to explore the beautiful Santorini, we did a walking tour and our tour guide pointed out a jewellery store where Busabouters got a discount. A lot of the girls, including myself, couldn’t resist a look and I ended up purchasing some sweet, delicate rose gold and silver rings. A little piece of Santorini for me to wear back home.

The tour was followed by a lovely dinner at a restaurant with a stunning view of infamous white and blue buildings nestled amongst the cliffs. I took in the views, enhanced by the setting sun as I enjoyed my delicious stuffed squid. After dinner a small group of us went on a baklava hunt and then headed our separate ways, hoping an early night would mean a miraculous recovery.

The next day, and our last day with this Busabout group, we did Busabout’s Bucket List tour. The first stop of the tour was a monastery, Profitis Ilias, which sits upon the highest point of Santorini. For those that had a fear of heights, the drive up there was truly a free form of exposure therapy! At the monastery gift shop (yup, gift shop), we were told the story behind the 33 knot bracelets they had for sale. The bracelets, which are also known as prayer bracelets, are supposed to ward off evil and you must wear it without removing it (to do so is bad luck). We were also informed that you cannot buy it for yourself to wear, and that if you wanted one someone else would have to buy it for you. A few members of the group who were ready to make a commitment to wear it until it fell off (or until they didn’t believe in the story) purchased them for each other.

Profitis Ilias

After the monastery we headed to Perissa Beach a.k.a black beach. I had pictured black sand, but it’s actually volcanic pebbles. We enjoyed two hours on this beach feeling like total V.I.Ps.  Besides swimming, we also enjoyed taking in the views and basking in the sun on the lounges, free as part of the Bucket List tour. The lounges each had a little buzzer on them that would summon a waiter. In addition to this, there was also free Wi-Fi. Needless to say, we lapped up this decadence as we lay out, enjoying the free Wi-Fi and ordering food and drinks straight to our lounges.

A cocky Instagram I uploaded from Black Beach with the caption "TGIF, it's been a tough week"

Feeling relaxed and spoilt, we then headed to Akrotiki, a Minoan settlement that had been destroyed in a volcanic eruption and then buried in ash. We were told that what we saw is believed to be only 5% of the city and they have yet to discover any bodies. It was also explained to us that a big thing in Greek culture is leaving something for the next generation to discover, which is why they haven’t continued the excavation. I thought that was such a lovely sentiment. It was pretty interesting to walk through the old city and surprising to see what had survived after all this time and exposure.

Because the group had voted to go to Akrotiki, it meant we only had a short time at the Red Beach. Literally, enough time to walk up, observe and take a few pictures. But I did manage to fit in a sneaky swim, and the water was so lovely and refreshing.

Next stop on the tour was Santo Winery for a wine tasting. The winery sits on the edge of a cliff, so we sampled the different wines with a backdrop of crystal blue water.

After the winery we were dropped back “home” to get ready for part two of the Bucket List tour- the sunset picnic in Oia. On the drive up to Oia, we passed Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s Greek Island mansion, a cold looking circular black house sitting in isolation.

Brad and Ange's Greek Island Pad

When we arrived in Oia, I could quickly tell this was the spot where all those pictures were taken that had tempted me to the Greek Islands in the first place. Here we had the best views of the water and the cliffs full of white and blue houses. We made our way to the picnic spot, which was definitely not the isolated spot I had pictured. In fact, it was probably the most popular viewing spot for the sunset, so quickly filled up. Picnic may not have been the right word for it, but we did get Gyros delivered to us and we enjoyed our dinner and drinks while we waited for probably one of the most famous sunsets in the world. And it not disappoint (well aside from that fact that we didn’t get to witness any proposals, which apparently is very common place at an Oia sunset), and I got to recreate my own Greek Island postcard style photos.

After the sunset, we headed back “home” and spent the night dancing it up at the Highlander. A bit of an emotional night as we had to say goodbye to the friends we had made that were continuing on with the Busabout tour, while we stayed behind in Santorini a few more days.

It was such a fun, packed day and I’m really glad we did the Bucket List tour. We were especially grateful as we soon discovered that travelling through Santorini on our own was a real pain, but more on that in my next post!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Recipe | Apple Tarte Tartin

This was such an easy and delicious recipe to make, I can't believe I hadn't made it before. The pastry and apple become beautifully caramelised through the cooking process and taste amazing together. And as easy as it was to make, it was even easier to eat! The tarte was gobbled up by my family not too long after it left the oven! A few days after making this I tried the same process but instead of putting puff pastry on top, I poured over a batter of butter sponge cake I had whipped up and it turned out nicely too.

  • 1 sheet Puff pastry
  • 1 Large apple, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Caster sugar
  • 1 tsp Butter
  • 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1 tbsp Extra caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp Cinnamon
Cooking Directions
  1. Place the sugar in a medium pot, over medium heat. Do not stir, wait until the sugar begins to melt and turn brown. When this happens, tilt the pot around so that the melted sugar distributes throughout. Do this a few times (but do not stir!) until all the sugar is a golden brown.
  2. Stir butter into the sugar syrup. Then mix through apples.
  3. Arrange apples on the bottom of a tart tin, then pour remaining liquid and maple syrup over the apples.
  4. Mix together extra sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over the apples.
  5. Place puff pastry over the apples, tucking under the sides
  6. Bake in a 170 degree (Celsius) oven for 30 minutes.
  7. Remove and allow it to cool. After cooling, turn it upside to serve.


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