Taco Tuesday at Honkytonks

When I heard about Taco Tyesday at Honkytonks I got pretty excited! $10 gets you two tacos and a beer… Even though Indon’t drink beer, this sounds like a pretty tasty deal to me, especially on the day before payday.

For those who have not been to or heard of Honkytonks, it is a Mexican themed bar and restaurant right in the heart of Canberra’s city in Garema Place. The place often plays Mexican music during the day, with the windows opened up to the street, and more seating outside under a marquee. They have the largest selection of Telquilla in Canberra, and the also make delicious cocktails and sangria!

I decided to do a catchup dinner with one of my friends who is also a little bit obsessed with Mexican food. We were both excited to try out Taco Tuesday and took a while to decide on what eat. Luckily the bar staff quickly served us with a drink so we could chat, drink and eventually decide on which two tacos to try.

There are lots of choices on the menu. I didn’t see anything specifically gluten free, but to be perfectly honest I really wanted to try the tacos so I didn’t care if they were gluten free or not. I eventually chose a beef taco and a pork taco, and my friend chose two chicken taco’s. So many choices! I wish I could have eaten them all!

I also decided to order some chips and salsa, because who doesn’t like corn chips with sour cream, salsa and guacamole? Plus I wasn’t sure how filling the tacos would be, and I was super hungry!

In the end I’m pretty glad I ordered the chips and salsa – the two tacos definitely did not leave me satisfied. I was actually pretty disappointed in the tacos. Firstly, the soft tortilla tasted like a savoury, doughy, thick pancake. Definitely not what I was expecting. It reminded me of Greek gyros, but nowhere near as satisfying or delicious. I would have thought the tortilla would be thinner, and my friend agreed on this.

Because there was so much dough to the tortilla, it definitely took away from the rest of the meal. But this may also be because there was barely anything in the tortilla. There was a small scattering of meat and a sprinkle of salad… Not the generous serving of Mexican deliciousness that I was expecting.

Out of the beef and pork I definitely enjoyed the beef more. The mixture of corn and salsa was a good pairing with the meat. The pork had hints of orange and was fresh with crunchy cos lettuce, but was definitely missing something. I suppose this is to be expected when you are getting a “tight-arse-Tuesday” kind of deal. But even if you expect that the establishment might be a bit stingy on the food, you still hope for a full tummy at the end of your meal…

Then we moved on to the chips and salsa. There was probably way too much sour cream for my liking, but there was plenty of tomato salsa to have with the chips, the guacamole was also nice. To be perfectly frank, there was nothing amazing about the chips and salsa, but it was definitely a nice addition and left us feeling full (finally) after our disappointing tacos.

I was glad that the $10 2 tacos & beer deal allowed us to swap our drink for house wine. Whilst I can’t remember what brand the wine was, it was fairly nice for the house Sauvignon Blanc. I ended up getting two glasses!

The service was also good, fast and friendly. All the staff members were helpful in deciding on either what to drink or what to eat. I have always found this with the staff at Honkytonks, even when they are busy at the bar on Friday and Saturday nights. This is one of the reasons that I would go back to Honkytonks again – whether this be for food or for drinks – I definitely would still go back to this place as one disappointing dinner hasn’t outdone the other good experiences I have had with Honkytonks.

My rating of Honkytonks Taco Tuesday

Atmosphere: 4/5 | Customer Service: 4/5 | Speed of Service: 4/5 | Presentation of Food: 3/5 | Taste: 3/5 | Value for Money: 3/5

Total: 21/30

Overall thoughts: I would return to Honkytonks, but I would definitely have something else on the menu and skip the tacos next time.

For more info on Honky Tonks click here

Have you been to Honky Tonks in Canberra? Do you know of somewhere else that has a great Taco Yuesday deal? Share your thought in the comments section!

Bye for now,

Vintage Barbie xoxo

All opinions in this post are my own. Unless otherwise stated, this post has not been sponsored and I have not been paid for this post

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Quinoa Tabbouleh

 

I used to love eating tabbouleh. It is fresh and a perfect side dish for summer. The only problem is that since becoming gluten intolerant, I can’t eat cous cous, which is one of the main ingredients in tabbouleh. For years I have had to say no to the delicious mix of tomato, onion and parsley. But a while ago I saw the idea of using quinoa as a substitute… Whilst I always have quinoa in my kitchen, I never tried this recipe… Until recently.

My street has a regular Christmas street party BBQ and we all bring along some meat and a side dish. I wanted to bring along a dish of something that was different, but fresh and delicious summer dish. Quinoa tabbouleh seemed like the perfect dish to bring!

It is a little time consuming to make, but I thought it was well worth the preparation.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup parsley
  • 4 tomatoes (I used 3 large Roma tomatoes and one medium sized Truss tomato)
  • 1/2 Spanish onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (approx 1 lemon)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: lemon wedges and parsley leaves to garnish

Method

1. Rinse quinoa under cool water before cooking. Cook in boiling water until quinoa is light and fluffy. Rinse and set aside to cool. Stir quinoa with fork to keep fluffy and speed up cooling process.

2. Dice onion. Place onion into a small bowl. Cover onion with water and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. This will soften the onion and make it more pleasant to eat.

3. Dice tomatoes and place in large bowl. Mince garlic clove and finely chop parsley, and place in bowl. Once quinoa is cooled, add to bowl as well. Drain onion from water and also add to large bowl.

4. In another small bowl, mix olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Add oil and lemon mixture to large bowl with all other ingredients and stir thoroughly. 

5. Allow tabbouleh mixture to sit for a hour or two in the fridge. There may be some excess moisture from the oil and lemon juice – this will eventually be soaked up by the mixture.

6. After an hour or so, season with salt and pepper. Stir again before serving and garnish with lemon wedges and parsley leaves. Serve as a side for barbecued meat. This tabbouleh mixture will keep for a few days in the fridge.

You can also add a tablespoon of finely chopped mint leaves to this mixture to give it an extra freshness kick! I didn’t have any mint so I decided not to use it and I think it turned out great without the mint, but other people may find that the mint gives it the little extra something it needs.

What do you think of my Quinoa Tabbouleh? Do you have a similar recipe or a recipe for Tabbouleh? Share your thoughts and links in the comments section!

Bye for now,

Vintage Barbie xoxo

All opinions in this post are my own. Unless otherwise stated, this post has not been sponsored and I have not been paid for this post

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High Tea at The Tea Salon Sydney

I’ve been to quite a few hens weekends. A lot of them have been in Sydney as well. I definitely had fun at the last one I attended, which including high tea at The Tea Salon.

This is not your traditional high tea. It is set right in the centre of shops in the Pitt Street Westfield mall, which I found a little strange at first. It also looks like it is permanently busy, especially if people can come in when they are in the middle of their shopping. However this gives it a casual, relaxed kind of feel. There is a secret little kitchen off behind some shops, with a large cabinet in the centre of the cafe for water and glasses. It is very cute, a little kitsch and fairly girlie. They had so many cute serving dishes and teacups that I would like to have at home myself!

We had a very group, I think around 20 people. Obviously this kind of place is not meant for groups this big and it looked like they had struggled to fit us all in the same area. Quite a few of the round tables were pushed together, which made the placing of food very squished, and also made socialising with others a little difficult. I often had my back to some of my friends because of how we were set up with the round tables.

Staff seemed a little overwhelmed at times. There was no coming to the table to make sure that our food was ok and no one coming to top up water. They didn’t even leave the water jug so we could top up our glasses ourselves, which was a little annoying considering I wanted water, not champagne at that time in the day. Although, the pink champagne was pretty nice… Just wish I felt like drinking it and it probably would have enjoyed it more..

The great thing about this place is that you can choose to eat a la carte, or select the high tea platter. There are also many options available for vegetarians, gluten free, dairy free and even pregnant women.

So for once, I was actually rewarded for my gluten intolerance – I got a whole platter to myself! It was amazing! There were so many pieces of food that I literally took a bit of everything but could not get anywhere near finishing my platter!

There were the standard scones with jam and cream, but also blueberry scones and raisin scones with orange marmalade. If you order scones off the al a carte menu then you can try a fair few different tasty treats.

I found the gluten free scones to taste extremely doughy and even with the jam and cream they were quite dry. I somewhat expected this of gluten free scones though as it would be difficult to make scones with the same texture and taste as your regular, gluten included scones.

There were lots of sweet things and I literally could not eat them all. However I made sure I tasted everything, even if it was only a little bite. There was this indescribable dessert in a shot glass. I think it was a custard of some sort with tea on top. It reminded me of camomile flower buds mixed with some other tea. As I said, it was indescribable, mainly because it have no idea what it was! I also was not a fan of the taste.

Champagne was fairly nice too. It was pink, sparkly and had a sweet taste to it. However it added on an extra $11 to the total bill, so keep that is something to keep in mind for next time.

There was a good selection of teas to choose from – There were a few regular black teas and green teas, rooibos, chai and then a good selection of flavoured teas. I can’t remember what it was called and I forgot to take a picture of the tea menu, but I do remember that it was kind of like an apple pie. It was scrumptious!

My rating of The Tea Salon

Atmosphere: 3.5/5 | Customer Service: 3/5 | Speed of Service: 4/5 | Presentation of Food: 4.5/5 | Taste: 4/5 | Value for Money: 4/5

Total Score: 23/30

For more information on The Tea Salon, go to their website: http://www.theteasalon.com.au

I would definitely like to go to The Tea Salon again to try out many more of their funky teas and possibly get some other delicious treats on the menu.

Have you been to The Tea Salon? Tell me your thoughts on this place!

Bye for now,

Vintage Barbie

All opinions in this post are my own. Unless otherwise stated, this post has not been sponsored and I have not been paid for this post

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Rustic Rocky Road

I love taking my baked goods into work to share with everyone. I love trying out new recipes at home, but sometimes I don’t want to eat the whole batch for myself. The alternative is to take the treats into work, which is always nice for my work colleagues. 🙂

I have been wanting to make rocky road for a while, so I figured that making it for my work colleagues would be a good idea. I tried out one batch but decided it didn’t work out – I used too much coconut, and no where near enough chocolate… no one should ever have to hear the words “not enough chocolate”!

I decided that this previous recipe wasn’t good enough for work. Frankly, I was a bit embarrassed (although my partner and my sister seemed to enjoy it!)

So I tried the recipe again over the weekend. This time I used plenty of chocolate. I used a lot less coconut too. I also decided to mix it up a bit and use a pack of four flavour/colours of marshmallows as well as some soft jubes. Looks like it turned out well because everyone came back for a second (or third) piece of this batch of rocky road!

My recipe uses a lot of chocolate – half a kilo to be exact. And whilst this sounds like a lot at first, remember that you mix it in with other ingredients, so it’s a good idea to have a lot of chocolate so the taste chocolate isn’t lost in all the other ingredients.

When I mixed in my marshmallows, I let them sit on top of the chocolate as I was taking photos… In the meantime they melted slightly… When I mixed them into the chocolate they were a little gooey but I think this actually worked in my favour as they were mixed in just right.

The best part about this recipe (other than the chocolate and sugar hit) is that it’s super easy to make – just melt, mix, set, cut and eat! It really is that simple!

Ingredients

500g milk cooking chocolate – you could also use a mixture of milk and dark cooking chocolate

250g salted butter

2 cups of marshmallows – I chose a four flavour mix

1 cup soft jube lollies

1/2 cup glacé cherries – optional but recommended to use anyway

1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts – You could also buy whole and roughly chop up

1/4 cup desiccated coconut

Method

1. Cut the marshmallows in half and set aside. Roughly chop the macadamias if using whole macadamia nuts. Measure out all other ingredients and set aside.

2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan on medium heat.

3. Break up the chocolate and allow it to melt in with the melted butter. Mix butter and chocolate around with a wooden spoon (or large plastic ladell if you don’t have a wooden spoon). Ensure chocolate is fully melted.

4. Poor in the remaining ingredients. Mix around until all ingredients are completely covered in chocolate.

5. Grease a small baking tray with butter or oil and line it with baking paper – the butter or oil will help the paper stay in place. Poor in mixture. Ensure mixture is evenly distributed in tray.

6. Place in fridge for a minimum of four hours. I recommend leaving it in there overnight.

7. When mixture is set, remove from baking tray and remove baking paper. Use a sharp kitchen knife to cut strips of the mixture. Then cut the strips into bite sized pieces.

Store in a plastic container in the fridge.

Optional: you can sprinkle with icing sugar before serving

Do you have a rocky road recipe?

Don’t forget to tag me in your pics if you make this recipe!

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Friday Night Sharing Plates at Soju Girl

I remember when Soju Girl opened a few years ago. It was considered a hip new place to go. I went when it was still in its early days with a small group of people. Back then I enjoyed quite a few cocktails as well as the share style meals.

I was invited to go recently, and whilst there certainly were no cocktails involved, it was a lovely dining experience with a group of people from my work.

A Zucchini Flower, as well as trying a prawn and lychee from the Spicy Prawn Dish

The kind of eating at Soju Girl is described as “refined Asian sharing plates”. It’s a similar experience to going to a Chinese restaurant and each person on the table ordering a different dish to be shared with the group, alongside steamed or fried rice.

There are more choices than would usually be expected at this hipster-style restaurant. Surprisingly there are plenty of gluten free options – about 75% of the menu. I love that on the menu it says “the menu has been designed with gluten intolerance in mind” – hooray! I actually have a choice this time and not a forced choice!
The menu also caters for vegetarians and even vegan.

My table consisted of a variety of dietary requirements: gluten intolerant (me), vegetarian, vegan, and two people with shellfish allergies. With that many dietary requirements, eating out can be difficult, often with people feeling left out or feeling like they are that “annoying person”.

It’s good that there is finally a place that caters for all dietary requirements! And I love that it’s a pass-the-dish-around kind of setting. It gets people talking, breaks the ice between people that don’t know each other very well, and truly allows everyone to fill their bellies with delicious food.

The friendly staff always make sure that everyone knows how it works at Soju Girl before they let everyone properly look at the menu.

Essentially there are the large plates and the small plates. You choose a few plates to share around the table, and you can add some sides on as well. The dishes will usually be staggered throughout your time there, so you are not overloaded with too many choices at once, and so the dishes compliment one another.

Crispy Pork Belly

Food reviews

Zucchini Flowers: I’ve got two words for this dish: absolutely delicious. The fillng tasted like minced turkey or pork mince, although it was completely vegetarian (and gluten free!). It came with a ginger, soy sauce and capsicum dipping sauce. They didn’t even need the sauce though because they were so tasty! My dish of the night!

Pan Tossed Prawns with Crispy Noodle Salad: whilst this dish technically not gluten free I ate part of it anyway. The prawns had been mixed with lychees which gave it a nice sweet taste. The prawns themselves had a delicious slightly spicy taste to them. The only problem was that my prawn had not been entirely removed from its shell, causing me to have an uncomfortable chunchy bite into part of my prawn. But the meat of the prawn melted in your mouth. The sauce had a tomato-style-tang to it. It came with a crispy noodle salad, which I obviously didn’t have as it is not gluten free.

Crispy Pork Belly: Not the best pork belly I’ve ever had. It was not a melting in your mouth experience like I usually have with pork belly. The crackling was thin but not too salty. It had a pleasant taste but it isn’t something I would choose again.

Lamb Shoulder in Massaman Curry: This dish was a lot bigger than I expected! There was a very generous lamb shoulder in the middle of the curry dish. It had a medium spice to it, delicious aroma, and was well marinated. We ordered some steamed rice to have with this dish.

Sizzling Asian Mushrooms: The sizzling mushrooms came out like the sizzling lamb dish at Chinese restaurants – in the same kind of plate, with the dish still sizzling away. It was mixed with fried egg, tofu and Asian vegetables. It was another winner dish for me. It was great that this dish could be eaten by almost everyone at the table – it was gluten free and vegetarian, but not vegan. Although the it was not entirely vegan, the vegan diner at our table still ate some of the vegetables out of this dish and it seemed that she enjoyed the taste of this dish as well.

Lamb Shoulder Massaman Curry

I was totally shocked that after all that food it was only $26 per person! And that was even after everyone put in money for the person the dinner was in honour for.

I would definitely recommend going to Soju Girl and I am already thinking about planning another dinner there soon. It would be great for groups of friends or work colleagues to catch up over dinner and share delicious food.

I would say Soju Girl is one of my top restaurants in Canberra.

For the full menu please click here.

 

 

Breakfast at 5 Senses Tuggeranong

I love going out for breakfast. There's so many delicious and yummy things to try. And I love coffee. Oh do I love coffee…

In the last year, my partner and I often have a brunch dates. I feel that it's very much a responsible-grown-up-couple date: we don't go out drinking on Friday nights so we are up at 8am on Saturday morning. Plus it's nice to go have a little date together.

We recently decided to go have breakfast somewhere near our home. Often when people think of weekend breakfast in Canberra, they go to Kingston or Manuka. But we wanted to stay close to home so we decided to try something different.

Driving along the main street along the side of Tuggeranong Hyperdome we saw a few different cafés and coffee shops packed with people. We eventually saw a reasonable looking cafe called 5 Senses Gourmet Cafe. It looked like a good place to grab a bite to eat so we decided to done here for breakfast.

The first thing we noticed when looking at the menu was that it didnt have basic bacon and eggs with toast. Ummm… Ok…

This is basically all my partner would order for breakfast – simple, plain, good old fashioned bacon and eggs. He ended up asking the waitress if he could get this and she said that would be fine. I'm guessing that the owners wanted to keep the menu “gourmet” which is probably why this basic meal is omitted from the menu.

I ordered eggs benedict with salmon and gluten free bread. It's my favourite breakfast dish so I tend to always order it!

When it came out I was informed that the hollandaise sauce is not gluten free. I was pretty disappointed with this. The hollandaise sauce is an integral part to this dish. It was nice enough of them to put the sauce in a jug so I could “choose” if I wanted it on there. But it is annoying that they would offer the gluten free option for this dish, if it cannot be fully gluten free. Or the waitress should have told me when I placed my order and asked if I wanted a different gluten free dish.

Well it was a bit too late to change my mind when the food was already cooked and in front of me – I was so hungry so I just ate it anyway. I could have asked for something else but then I would have to sit and watch my partner eat his meal while my meal was re-prepared. Plus I hate being that annoying gluten free person. It's annoying enough for me, there's no need for me to be annoying for everyone else…

So I just started eating it anyway, minus the sauce. That's when I wish I said something. The bread was extremely dry and floury. Gluten free bread isn't the nicest tasting bread, but this was ridiculous. It tasted like I just ate a cup of grainy flour!

This would have been fine if I had slightly runny eggs. In my experience, the poched eggs are made so the yolks are still slightly runny, and they ooze out when you cut into them. This was not the case for my eggs benedict. The eggs were hard and overlooked. So not only did I not have any sauce, I also didn't have my slightly runny eggs.

My partner was not impressed with his meal either. Firstly, they added baby spinach leaves to his bacon and eggs. As a simple man when it comes to food, he doesn't need any of the fancy extras. So he wasn't impressed with this addition.

Also, the bacon had a strange taste to it. This bacon was not your regular Aussie bacon. It was thick and tasted a bit like Spam!

At least my coffee was good. I have bought takeaway coffees from here before, so I knew they could at least do that. And my partners chocolate milkshake tasted nice as well.

But we weren't here for the drinks – we were here for a meal. And we were very disappointed. At the end of our brunch date we concluded that this place was the worst breakfast we had ever eaten at a cafe. And when you're paying $50 for breakfast, you expect good quality. Unfortunately I won't be going back to this cafe (even for coffee, out of principle) because it left a bad (flour) taste in my mouth…

 

 

Sunday Afternoon Tea at Adore Tea

I love Adore Tea. It is nestled in the pretty Gold Creek Village and is a favourite among many Canberrans. They offer a variety of sweet and savoury treats and meals, but most importantly, a huge selection of tea to try. Their tea menu is quite expansive and sometimes it is difficult trying to pick a tea.

I have been to Adore Tea many times before, both for the regular Saturday High Tea and for a lunchtime or afternoon catchup with friends.

It was a warm autumn afternoon that we decided to do a belated combined birthday celebration for myself and a friend. It was only a small gathering of seven ladies, but we quite enjoyed the company.

There was afternoon entertainment with a Jazz and Blues singer singing some classic songs. We were seated right next to this singer so it was a tad loud. One of my friends certainly did not enjoy this Amy-Winehouse-inspired singer, especially with the speaker right in her ears.

Nonetheless, we browsed the menu to try and find the treats we desired. We had enough difficulty picking out food, let alone trying to pick a tea from over 250 teas!

Three of us decided in the Potato and Chamomile Soup. Unfortunately, after ordering, we were told we would have to fight it out amongst ourselfs as there was only one soup left. It was decided that I should have the soup. I also ordered a Trio of Dips (gluten free of course). My sister ordered the Belgium Waffles and one friend ordered the Scones with Jam and Cream.

I had a White Peach tea and my sister ordered the Creme Brûlée Tea. One friend ordered a variety of the green tea, and unfortunately I cannot remember what tea the other people ordered. All I know is that each person had a different type of tea. There really are so many types of teas it would be difficult to try every single one!

My tea was delicious and I enjoyed every drop of it. The great thing is that the teas come out in these glass-scientific-beaker-looking pots, which are placed over the tea light candles. This keeps the tea nice and warm. The pot has a strainer with the tea in it, and you can take the tea out when you desire, depending on how weak or strong you want your tea.

The food was a little disappointing this time round. The soup tasted bland and clearly lacked seasoning. It was creative of the chef to place the salt, pepper and chamomile tea buds on the side of the plate, but this made it difficult to pinch and sprinkle the seasoning onto the soup. It was only when salt was added that the soup had any particular taste. I was very disappointed with this and would not order it again.

On the other hand, the trio of dips was fantastic. There was hommus, beetroot dip and spicy capsicum. These are my three favourite dips, so I was definitely going to be happy with that selection! But Im fairly certain these were store bought and not freshly made.

My friend who bought the scones said they were quite doughy and almost sticky. The scones were quite large, which would explain the doughy feeling – more jam and cream would be needed to compensate for the size of the scones.

My sister loved her waffles. And with cream and icecream she was definitely going to be happy with that meal!

I suspect that this may have been a bad food day for Adore Tea. As usual, the service was great, and the tea was delicious. I would definitely go back again to try as many more teas as I can as well as try some other food on the menu.

For more info on Adore Tea, check out their website: www.adoretea.com.au

Typical Aussie Meal: Sausage Rolls

 

Homemade sausage rolls were always a favourite growing up. They were delicious and flakey and always filled me up.

Now that I’m older they serve a different purpose: Sausage rolls are perfect for entertaining. I made some for my housewarming party and I got many great reviews on them!

You can half cook these sausage rolls and put them in the freezer to fully cook for parties or for a quick and easy dinner.

Ingredients

  • 500g sausage mince
  • 4 sheets of puff pastry*
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs*
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp all spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • Sesame seeds

*gouten free versions of these items can be used to make a gluten free version.

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees for conventional ovens and 180 for fan forced. Take the puff pastry sheets out of the freezer and defrost.

2. Dice the onion. Grate the carrot and zucchini.

3. In a large bowl, combine the mince, vegetables, herbs, breadcrumbs and tomato paste. Mix together with hands until everything is fully combined.

4. Whisk the egg in a small bowl.

5. Cut the puff pastry sheets in half. Place a log of mince and place this in the middle of one half of the sheet of pastry. Ensure there is at least 1cm space between the sides of the pastry and the end of the mince. Roll the pastry around the mince.

6. Brush the edges of the pastry with egg. Fold edges of pastry and brush the top of the roll with egg. Cut into 5 pieces. Sprinkle some sesame seeds over the top and place on a lightly greased baking tray.

7. Bake for 20 mins until the pastry is golden brown. Serve with tomato sauce.