Apple Bar, Bilpin

My friend Simon loves the Apple Bar. Every time he drives past down the Bells Line of Road, he has to stop in for a meal.

I have never had that chance – up to now – because every time I have driven past, the place is full to the gunnels. But this Saturday, at around 4pm, the carpark was relatively empty. So it was my turn.

As it is spring, the raw bar menu has started. There were three kinds a sashimi available, and I chose the first.

Jasmine tea smoked Yellowfin Tuna:

Tea smoked tuna

Wowee. The smoking (and subsequent rolling in sesame seeds – both black and white), has turned a simple slab of AAA+ grade sashimi into a very meaty dish. The touches of fish roe and cream set it off perfectly. The addition of the small bowl of soy sauce wasn’t really needed.

I have smoked a chicken once before, using some Jasmine tea bought in Taiwan. So of course I had to pick this dish to see how it turned out.

Pork Loin (wood grilled) with caramelised apple juice and avocado salad:

Wood cooked pork loin

The caramelised apple juice was thick and dark, like molasses. The fat on the pork chop had ben crispified, very nice. Pork was moist and lovely still, the next day (yes, I had to take leftovers with me). There were bits of fresh apple throughout the chunks of avocado, daikon radish, nigella seeds. Please Sir, can I have some more?

Upside down apple cake with vanilla bean icecream:

Upside down apple cake//

The custard was incorporated into icecream, it was such a lovely yellow colour with speckles of vanilla bean seeds throughout. The cake itself was a very fine specimen. I had recently made a guava and pear upside down cake, but my one was missing the lovely vanilla custard ice cream.

I think I’m going to stop in on this place more often!

The Apple Bar
Street: 2488 Bells Line of Road, Bilpin, NSW.

Lunch: 1200 onwards, Friday to Monday
Dinner: 1730, Friday to Sunday
All day Sundays.

Cherries, 2015

I have made the mistake of counting my cherries before they hatched.

Cherries 2015

I didn’t bother with the ice this year; we had some frosts right at the start of May. It seems to have worked – I counted 28 cherries before they split from all this rain, and the ants got in and started nibbling.

I got one cherry from the low chill double graft minnie royal/royal lee that I got in late winter.

Sokyo Ramen Pop-up, Pyrmont

I read about the pop up ramen store in the good food supplement in the newspaper. Now that I’m working a few days in the city, it was a perfect opportunity to catch the tram over and increase my week’s opal travel card trip count.

This area of the casino has certainly changed. I remember when it was nothing but a rather sad sports bar, and a long corridor plus wall shielding the gambling on the other side.

I actually ordered the same stuff as was recommended in the article.

Yuzu Shio Ramen ($15) and Yuzu pop soda ($6):

Yuzu shio ramen

The blurb says:

Chicken & Katsuobushi dashi, yuzu & mixed green salad, pork cheek chashu, marinated egg, nori, yuzu kosho, noodle soup.

This was disappointing. Perhaps the broth wasn’t hot enough, but I found the slight sheen of oil on top of the broth kind of unpleasant. I didn’t really pick up any of the yuzu flavour in the broth; it was very light, almost as if it was chicken based. The nori seaweed sheet that was stuck to side of the bowl had been stuck with the yuzu based pickle (yuzu kosho), which actually made the nori taste yucky. Perhaps I was supposed to stir this into the broth? The ramen was quite firm with that al dente bite. I never really noticed this until I read Michael’s impressive post for the search about the best (tonkotsu) ramen in Sydney. Do you think he’s still hungry?

The Yuzu pop soda is described as Yuzu, passionfruit, aloe vera juice, Orgreat almond syrup, soda;

This was not as sweet as I had been expecting. Perhaps they had toned the recipe down since the reviewer had visited?

For interest, the Umami tonkotsu 2.0 ramen ($16), and watermelon juice ($6.5):

Share from Pixlr

The blurb says: Pork, chicken & seafood dashi, pork back fat, umami soy kaeshi, pork cheek chashu, black fungus, marinated egg, nori, yuzu kosho, noodle soup.

Mai-san’s fried chicken ($9):

Mai-san's fried chicken

The spicy mayo wasn’t. The fried chicken were small bite sized pieces, nothing to rave about, but nothing offensive about it.

All the drinks were icy cold, like they had been pre-made, sealed in the plastic cup, and refrigerated.

My dining companion said that the tonkotsu ramen was fine, he was just a bit disappointed with the quantity for the price.

I took the leftover broth with me, as always, and had it later with some rice.

Sokyo Ramen pop up

Sokyo ramen pop up
Street: Level G, Star City Food Court (South side of the complex)
(Open until end November 2015)
Sun – Mon: 1130-2100
Tue – Thu: 1130-2230
Fri – Sat: 1130 – 2300

Buy nothing new month 2015

My normal practice is to see that buy nothing new month has already happened, and then do my own thing for the month of November.

This year, I was about to buy (another) yoga mat. Not because I needed it, but because I couldn’t be bothered carrying my yoga mat between offices. There is a yoga program at the office in the CBD; and there is a yoga program in my main office out in the western suburbs.

Carrying the yoga mat between the two just too much effort; have you been on a sydney train in peak hour?

The document obtained by Fairfax Media shows patronage on the Western Line is expected to increase 4.5 per cent a year until 2021, the fastest growth on the network. This is followed by the Northern Line (3.7 per cent) between Epping and Strathfield and the Airport & East Hills Line (3.3 per cent).
The documents show the average load on Western Line services arriving at Parramatta would be more than 1400 passengers a train. It is difficult to run services on time when trains carry more than 1200 passengers because people take a long time to get on and off carriages in the crush.
Punctuality figures released last week show the Western Line, Sydney’s busiest, is already struggling to cope. The line recorded the city’s lowest punctuality figure last year at 92.2 per cent, just above the government’s 92 per cent target and below the overall rate of 94.7 per cent.

So the existence of buy nothing new month has worked! I checked my desire for a new yoga mat up until the end of October. After that, I’ll have to re-evaluate after seeing if carrying it in between locations is really all that bad.

Did the “buy nothing new month” campaign make you re-evaluate the need for a purchase? What was it?

Transmission will resume shortly…

I’m so snowed under what with bees, family, work, uni studies… I’m still here underneath all this stuff!

I promise I will try and resume transmission shortly. Speaking of test patterns, I recently bought a dress from Preap and Coutts that I have nicknamed the test pattern dress, because of the colouring. What do you think?

LuMi Bar and Dining, Pyrmont

LuMi is hidden off a wharf in Pyrmont, just a stone’s throw away from where the pyrmont growers markets are held. On Sundays your only option is the degustation menu, which is $95 per head without drinks. You can add matching drinks for an additional $80 per head. This set menu certainly does make it easier for the kitchen staff.

Lumi decor

We started off with cocktails: and since I had run* 5km that morning, I thought I should follow up this healthy exercise with a celery tonic ($20):

celery drink

Freshly pressed celery juice combined with Citron Vodka, Lemon, Agave and it is charged with tonic. This was really very refreshing with the lemon sharpness and celery flavour not being too overpowering. I should try and make this at home.

On the food front, we have a few palate cleansers.

Salt and vinegar rice crisps:

salt n vinegar rice crisps

Breathe in at the wrong time and you get a whack of vinegar powder up the nose. Like one of those prawn crackers, except without the prawn.

Frozen Porcini brisee with blackberry powder:

Porcini Disc

The plate was cold, like it had been stored in the freezer. Well duh, I hear you think. Still it was a surprise. “Brisee” is like a shortcrust pastry, so I guess it was mainly butter and a bit of flour holding the porcini grounds together. It was a bit gritty. The freeze dried blackberry powder had the sharpness of the berry.

Frozen daikon with shredded dried squid:

Shredded dried squid on daikon

I missed the explanation of what else bonded the squid to the daikon, but it was creamy. Not mayonnaise, perhaps cream. The dried squid had quite a fish-like taste; it reminded me a lot of Japanese bonito flakes.

Parfait macaron:


You hear the word ‘parfait’ you seen the macaron, you think ‘sweet’. Nope, it’s ‘parfait’ as in liver parfait. I know that you can only make the macaron with sugar and egg whites, but it is an odd combination. Instead of sweet and sour; it’s sweet and savoury. I know the bits of paper say “Lumi” in fancy writing. But the stylised ‘lu’ when seen upside down really looks like something dreamt up by the golden arches. Sorry.



The egg custard had been flavoured with parmesan. The dashi stock very very faintly of lime.
I think that I had first encountered a ‘steamed egg custard’ at Whalen’s hotel; followed by a tofu and egg white one with scallops and asparagus at the Golden Century. That latter one was like eating fluffy clouds. This was…. almost plain. If I hadn’t known of the parmesan and the lime flavour, I don’t think I would’ve noticed either.

Spanner crab and kohlrabi:

spanner crab and kholrabi

Now this is why I want a mandolin. So I can shave my kohlrabi into paper thin strip of fettucine. The spanner crab was hidden under an egg white emulsion – which made everything creamy, and showed off the spanner crab. Those things are a pain to get the meat out of ~ as I remember when I was trying to make clam chowder. Or was it bouillabaisse? Something that involved me going to the Norwest fish shop.

Beetroot, black sesame, cream:

Salt Roast Beetroot

Salt baked beetroot with three sauces, black sesame seed emulsion, cream with goat cheese. At first, I was thinking how amazingly rich and creamy this was, and that I should try salt-baking a beetroot myself sometime. Someone declared it their favourite dish thus far, and that it brought back memories of eating black sesame pudding in Japan.

Ravioli, gruyere, porcini butter:

Gruyere Ravioli

This was a single piece of ravioli, with a meltingly soft pasta casing and gruyere filling. There were raw swiss brown mushrooms as a topping, and the option of fresh shaved truffle for an additional $12. This was quite a meaty in mouthfeel dish; I wonder if braising the mushrooms in butter would have made it too rich? Certainly the raw swiss browns did add a lighter, non-buttery element to the dish.

Burnt Semolina Spaghetti, Quail, Marjoram:

Burnt Semolina Spaghetti

Many people declared that this was their favourite dish. Perhaps because it was the first appearance of meat? Certainly the semolina spaghetti made the whole very hearty. The crispy garlic breadcrumbs gave a nice crunch and were very moreish.

Lamb rib, red miso, leek, lime kosho:

Lamb rib and leek

Meat off a lamb rib, no bone. The lamb had been marinated in the salty red miso and barbequed, giving a meltingling soft texture, with tasty crispy burnt bits. Noms. Wikipedia says that kosho is a kind of paste made from chilli peppers, yuzu peel and salt; in this case the lime peel replacing the yuzu fruit peel, which I don’t think you can get fresh in Australia. Kind of like a preserved lemon (lime) paste. That’s the little green blob on the plate. The leek had been shaped into a rectangle, just the inner tender part of vegetable.

Yuzu. Mandarin, Licorice, Wakame Powder:

Yuzu Icecream and Licorice

The licorice had been used to flavour a meringue ‘crisp’ a startlingly black colour. Yuzu flavoured the white sorbet, mandarin flavoured the orange coloured sorbet. It almost looks like a just poached egg, nestling under a house of black slate. This was a really refreshing – yet another palate cleanser without being too acidic.

Ginger ice cream w/white chocolate foam, passionfruit powder & yoghurt crumble:

Ginger icecream

Don’t forget the scraped bits of sweet white chocolate. The ginger icecream also had bits of crystallised ginger that explode in your mouth with intense gingerness.

Lumi presents you with really interesting flavour combinations that make you wonder “How on earth did they do that?”. The enforced degustation menu on Sundays means that the kitchen can do all the complicated things in advance. The venue has gorgeous views during the daytime (although bring your sunglasses!). I would definitely be going again, and it works well as a special occasion venue.

street: Wharf 10, 56 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont
phone: +61-2-9571-1999
Lunch: Fri-Sun, 1200-1430
Dinner: Fri-Sat 1800 – 2200; Wed, Thu, Sun: 1830-2200
Shut 1630-1800/1830.

* by “run” I mean half walk, half admire the view.

Life in a bee-ocracy

Bzzt. We’ve been in this bat box for over 8 months. I’m bored, and there’s not enough room.


Conditions look good out there – it’s warming up, there’s lots of flowers* in bloom.


Let’s move.

The escape

Hey, I can see Russia from this branch.


I think this place looks pretty good.

shook swarm

Aw bzzt. This place looks really familiar.

Three hive flock


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 89 other followers