JUST SNAPPED @littleswallowchinadoll

Burger, ramen, brunch, repeat

It's so hot in Oz. Not that I'm complaining, because I'd rather be wearing shorts than a winter coat any day, but when the temperature heads over 40C, I just haven't got the capacity to deal after my years in London. Although I have to be honest - I started this post over three weeks ago and the weather has significantly cooled. Also, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Things are starting to normalise…if you consider living with your parents "normal" when you're in your mid-30's, married and a parent yourself. The CG has a job, we have a car, I'm back to hating traffic and wishing public transport was better, and starting to refrain from exclaiming in dismay every time I go to the supermarket at how expensive everything is. Plus I can eat by the sea and see stuff like this whenever I want, which is pretty cool.

I still haven't managed to quite get the hang of juggling baby and photographing food while eating, and I'm pretty sure I never will - but take it from me that burgers and ramen are a nightmare to eat with a kid in tow, and dumplings are awesome. Either way it hasn't stopped me from going on what seems to be a food loop of burgers, noodles, and brunch. The live in babysitters have been pretty handy for a few "meals with both hands" occasions - but then I've been so excited to eat I still forgot the photos. Celebrating birthdays with my bro & dad for the first time in years has been an added bonus (Bathers Pavilion is still top notch).

So in a nutshell: go to Phoenix for dim sum (big tasty dumplings, piping hot and delicious), Via Napoli for hectic Italian atmosphere and pizza by the metre, Ryo's Noodles for ramen (but don't take a baby if you want to eat while everyone else does), Palmer & Co for drinks (loved this prohibition style bar), Mr Wong's for smashing crispy eggplant (aubergine to you Brits), Kurtosh for cake by weight, New Shanghai for seriously good dumplings (try the pan fried xiao long bao), Grill'd for the best zucchini (courgette!) and sweet potato chips, and Four Ate Five for good food and casual vibes. As for The Grounds of Alexandria - say whaaaaat? Why didn't this place exist when I lived a street over? I have to go back. Many times.

The awesome Ev won tickets to the launch of Neil Perry's Burger Project. Chips were brilliant, as were a pork crackling and kimchee pickled veg inclusion on a pork belly burger.

Crispy hot wings: sichuan pepper and salt
Thrice cooked house chips with chipotle chilli
Neil Perry's Burger Project

Yep, life is getting back to normal.

Burger Project Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

If I could only do one more thing

I finally got around to writing a blog post, and it took over a week, but then this happened. So I'll post that mortifyingly shallow one tomorrow, because we're supposed to be going about our daily lives like nothing has changed, but today I need to wade into the probably copious coverage already surrounding this horrific drama.

This morning I woke up to the news that the siege was over, leaving three dead. And it was sad, horribly sad, that two innocent people died for nothing as they went about usual business. 

But what keeps running through my mind has been centred around this crazed hostage taker who sounds like a pretty damn unsavoury character. And I just keep thinking - how did he get to be this guy? Where were his parents when he was growing into this person he became? Where were his people? The people that you surround yourself with who turn to you after one of your rants and say to your face, "you're a freaking nut job, and that is plain stupid"? The ones who keep you grounded and make sure you value not only yours, but the lives of others?

I hope that if I can achieve only one more thing in this precious, too short life, that it is to bring Wolfie up to be a person who loves life. Who respects others. Who understands the importance of making it count, and how lucky he is to be brought into a world full of people who love him, who will support him, and who will be there for him. Even if it sometimes means we have to tell him he's a nut job. 

Chotto Matte, Soho (and a very big move)

Like a HUGE move, back across to the other side of the world. I had all these intentions of doing a final blog post, plus a wrap up of all my years in London, but when it got down to it I was still cleaning the fridge out and emptying the bathroom cabinets while our taxi to the airport was waiting outside. 

So here we are, in not quite as sunny as expected Australia, trying to sort out our lives while my parents unite against me, the enemy who makes their precious grandson follow a semblance of a routine. Despite the stresses, I'm thankfully reminded by the little things that we have made the right decision - my dad lying on the play mat talking to Wolfie, my mum making him laugh so hard his belly shakes, taking him to the beach for the first time, seeing my old friends wrap him up in their hugs and kisses. 

Anyway. My final London food post. I went to a bunch of great places before we left and ran out of time to blog about any of them. I'm sneaking Chotto Matte in because it's exactly the kind of place I love - buzzing Soho location, smashing cocktails, sharing plates of fresh, zesty food, and tonnes of Japanese flavours. 

Everything we tried was delicious, but special mentions go to the tuna sashimi tostaditas, miso black cod, and the brûlée de la passion. 

Plus there was FIRE. The drama of the flame and all that smokey flavoured goodness in your mouth…oh yeah. Not to mention the place itself - anime graffiti on the walls, pumping music, dark spaces, basically a nightclub serving damn good food.

Who would have thought peruvian and japanese could go so well together? 

Chotto Matte on Urbanspoon

Sushi Tetsu, Clerkenwell

I got the inevitable mummy cut. I would have wept as my long locks hit the floor of the hairdressers, if it wasn't for the fact that it was desperately unhealthy, knotted beyond repair, and had only been left out a handful of times since Wolfie has learnt to grab it and hold on with all his might.

Anyway, regardless of how I feel about my hair, I had an excellent Japanese hairdresser at my service, which reminded me that I hadn't get gloated blogged about Sushi Tetsu.

Seven seats. That's how many Sushi Tetsu can accommodate at any one time. Which is why it took me so blinking long to go, until one day I realised it was reservations day. As it happens, feeding a baby (once you get the hang of it) actually allows you quite a lot of time to watch TV boxsets, whatsapp and hit redial to Sushi Tetsu. 57 times to be exact. But boy, was it worth every single redial.

Watching Chef Toru work tirelessly throughout the 2.5 hours we were there was incredible. The precision and detailed beauty in everything he serves up was a real pleasure to experience. It was the freshest, best sushi I have had since Tsukiji fish market in Japan (at 7am, fresh from that morning's catch).

I could wax lyrical about every mouthful we enjoyed there, but I'll limit it to this: fatty tuna. Oh my I-can't-even-begin-to-describe-the-pure-unadulterated-joy-this-fish-gave-me gawd. If you haven't had the pleasure, please please please put it on your list of must do's. If you were here in person I'd grab you by the shoulders and shake you while screaming "FATTY TUNA!!" in your face. That's how strongly I feel about it.

Just looking at those pictures makes me want to weep that I'm not back there right now. 


Sushi Tetsu on Urbanspoon

The Pudding Bar, Soho

This weird thing happened to me while I was pregnant (yes, possibly even weirder than being kicked by the tiny human growing inside me and needing to cross my legs whenever I sneezed more than twice in a row) - my tastes changed. I'm not talking in a wanting to eat ham wrapped pickled onions topped with apple slices craving kind of way, but a complete shift from savoury to sweet.

Until pregnancy, I'd never been huge on desserts or sweets. Chocolate bars could waste away at the back of cupboards (or would have, if the CG wasn't around). But crisps! Oh, glorious crisps! And a two course meal would always be starter and main, never main and dessert, if I had the choice. But then along came the bump and suddenly the most appealing thing in the world to me was a doughnut, washed down with a family sized chocolate bar, topped with a bucket of Ben & Jerry's. 

I was hoping the switcheroo would reverse itself with the appearance of Wolfie, but sadly it shows no sign of abating. The CG could hardly believe his luck when he would arrive home night after night to find the cupboards bursting forth with sugary temptation, but even he this week has declared a break from it all. 

As I'm a pretty considerate lass, I decided to keep the cupboards empty in support of the CG's resolution, and ate everything in them. Then I headed out to The Pudding Bar with Miss B to inhale 5 desserts for lunch. S'more cheesecake, eton mess, earl grey panna cotta, choux buns and an amazing blueberry baked alaska with elderflower gel. Apparently I am a sucker for meringue in any form.

My only regret is not having had double the baked alaska. And of course, coming home to empty cupboards. So I whipped up some brownies today. Obviously.

Meanwhile, Wolfie has started rolling (one way) and laughing - who knew so much joy could be brought to my life by such seemingly simple things?

Pudding Bar on Urbanspoon

The Harwood Arms, revisited

As it turns out, eating out with a baby is actually pretty easy. So long as you don't mind eating lukewarm food with one hand, and your fellow diners occasionally cut things up for you into bite sized pieces you can stab with a fork, obviously. Luckily I've never been that attached to using a knife, and my addiction to taking food photos had pretty much rendered eating my meals piping hot a thing of the past long before Wolfie appeared on the scene.

Speaking of which, taking photos has really taken a nose dive - probably to the glee of my usual accomplices. But I do have something like a thousand photos of Wolfie instead, so y'know. Swings and roundabouts. Speaking of which, HOW CUTE IS HE?!

Not biased at all. 

After being so impressed with the Harwood Arms last year, we headed back to celebrate the CG's first father's day (did I mention that managing to blog in a timely fashion also goes out the window when you spend most of your day living and breathing a small person? I assume, given the vast number of mummy blogs out there, that my previous time management skills and motivation will return at some stage.)

We weren't disappointed.

Starters were innovative and presented beautifully, from duck egg and snails to squid.  

Of course we couldn't resist one of their signature scotch eggs either.

But the real star of the show was our Sunday roast. Beautifully tender roasted rib eye, served up with cheeks, stuffed yorkshire puds, cauliflower cheese, smoked bone marrow, buttered greens and crispy roast potatoes.

Father's Day perfection.

Topped off with a little something sweet.

Top notch dining in one of the best gastropubs around.

Wolfie sure knows how to treat his dad.

Harwood Arms on Urbanspoon Square Meal