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The Soda Factory Hot Dogs

We stood outside staring at a sign that says Bobby's Boss Dogs.  The security guard points at the door behind him... I had to take my phone out to confirm the address. As I walk pass he goes 'I told you.'
This cool Coke door takes you into the best $1 hot dogs in town......yes you heard me right $1.....
 As you enter in, the lights are dim and the room was already buzzing and this is a Tuesday night just after 6pm. I had no doubt this place would be packed. Selling gourmet hot dogs for $1, I'm surprised this place isn't congested with Oz Bargainers and Uni Students. Instead it was young and happening, all civilized people out to have some good food and drinks on a weeknight.

The decor is vintage-cool... pictured below is the "table" we sat at. We used the scooter seat as our table top and my fiancee even had the side mirrors to check herself out. 
Not wanting to miss out on anything we chose one of everything on their dollar dog menu. 
From left to right:

The Frank Sinatra: This was my 2nd favourite hot dog. The delicious sausage with mustard, juicy pickle and the crunch of the onion ring made me feel like I was eating a burger and combination was fantastic with the different textures. It didn't feel bogged down with sauce or cheese but still had a great flavour. The bread (on all dogs) was basic and well for $1 you can't really complain.

The Texas Redneck: When reading the menu this was definitely the one I was looking forward to the most: chilli, cheese, BBQ sauce, it had the makings of a great hot dog. This ended up being my least favourite of the night. It's biggest let down was the sauce... I hate places that claim there's chilli and there is just no oomph to back it up. The sauce also made it very messy to eat.. and especially when you're standing, or half seating and balancing the hot dog with a napkin.. this just isn't a great choice. 

The Buffalo Bill Chicken Dog: Winner winner chicken dinner! This ticked all the boxes tonight. The battered chicken sausage was nice and crunchy yet juicy on the inside and then covered in a delectable buffalo chicken sauce and cheese that made me drool for a second one. It was so fantastic my fiancee and I both ordered a second serving of it. The only gripe I have with this is the possibility of getting those green bits stuck to your teeth.. makes for embarrassing half smiles while trying to lick them off and possible awkward first date memories.

Bobby's Bogan Dog: Last but not least the Bogan Dog. A magnificent lamb sausage dressed in a thick and creamy feta, peas and Dijon mustard sauce. The first bite of this was so O-M-G... but for some reason the more I ate it, I felt like I enjoyed it less. The combination of the feta and mashed peas taste was drowning out the lamb sausage.
My tips for this place is get there early... it gets very packed and you'll find yourself standing in everyone's way holding multiple hot dogs and waiting over 20 minutes for them to come out. You can only order a maximum of 6 at a time I think (my fiancee and I managed to polish off 7 between us through two orders... and yes we need to go on a diet).  

I'm still full and flabbergasted at the $1 price tag and you might find me here weekly getting my Chicken Sausage fix....

Waha Wera Kiwifruit Habernero Sauce - Chur Burger

So my workmate tells me about this burger joint called Chur Burger. It has been voted the best burger in Sydney by SMH. Now that's a big claim!
Actually this blog itself is about Waha Wera Kiwifruit Habernero Sauce. This was one of the many sauces on the table: NZ born and I'm so glad I met it. 

The sauce combines the nice fresh taste of kiwifruit followed quickly by a heated Habernero. The combination worked wonders and actually saved this Chips with "Chilli" salt (shown below). Just a quick taste and I was immediately disappointed by their chips. The smell of chilli hit me in the face as the bowl of chips landed but the taste had no kick. 

Thanks Chur for an introduction to this sauce. I'm definitely on the hunt for a bottle in my home now!
Although the rest of this blog isn't really keeping with the snacking reference I feel the need to share how great this lil' joint is. 

For entrees we devoured the Miso brisket pancake, pickled veg, chilli. This was beautiful and by far the best dish of the night. I find that entrees always tend to be the best part of my night, it gives you just enough to crave for multiple servings but pricy enough to stop you from doing so. The dish has a bit of spice and just full of flavours that I couldn't get enough of. Sour, spicy, savoury.. they all had a party and I'm glad I was invited.
Now for burgers... better not disappoint!

I chose the Crumbed fish fillet, pickled cucumber, lemon mayo, dill. The sauce was delicious, the fish was tender and I just love their bun. What a great burger! Fiancee reckons its the best fish burger she's had.
My fiancee went with the Pulled pork, Chur BBQ sauce, red slaw, fennel mayo. The Pulled Pork didn't soak long enough in the juices to have that beautiful meat sauce taste, but saying that, the mayo and red slaw combo was enough to save it. You can't go wrong with pulled pork and slaw. 
And all washed down with an NZ cider. What a great dinner....

Finally, make sure you have plenty of napkins on the table.. sauces were not used sparingly!

Lamb, Harissa and Almond Sausage Roll

Cnetral Baking Depot (CBD) is the little sister of Bourke Street Bakery which explains its great success. The bakery has minimal sitting room which seemed to always be occupied but most of their patrons just buy to go. 
I was informed that after eating their Lamb, Harissa and Almond Sausage Roll I would not be able to eat a normal sausage roll again. That's a major call and I find myself here to test the theory.

First of all, I think most normal sausage rolls are pretty horrible. They usually need to be drenched with tomato sauce for any sort of flavour or are so oily it makes the paper bag translucent. So a sausage roll super hero has been in need for some time.
The golden pastry was crunchy and delicious and very pleasant to the eyes as well as the belly. It was not overly oily but you can't have a sausage roll too dry and "healthy"... that would kill the appetising aspect. The lamb and harissa is a killer combo. The sausage roll was of standard measurements but I couldn't get enough of it. 

The downfall for me was the almonds and currants in the mixture. I can appreciate the need to reinvent the sausage roll but the carnivore in me just feels like these things are in the way and unnecessary. Despite this minute hurdle, this is still hands down one of the best sausage rolls I've had.
At $4.50 per sausage roll, it's pricier than your local servo roll or the one's you can get at Asian bakeries BUT its definitely worth the extra investment for something so full of flavour and love. 

Adriana Zumbo Zonut

I guess for a Friday we all deserve a treat.. how about a Zonut?

So Zumbo is most well known for his macarons and that's fine and dandy.... until I met the Zonut!
I didn't realise what I just bought. It was a passing comment recommendation from a food loving workmate. I would walk by daily and just do a quick glance but never see it for sale.

This croissant-doughnut hybrid (called a cronut) craze first hit New York. Now available in Sydney and interpreted by Zumbo (interpret was the term used by him as opposed to "copying" used by the original creator).  

This is a Zonut: a croissant-doughnut hybrid pastry. It has delicate and flaky pastry layers of a croissant with the deep fried goodness of a doughnut. 
I've been informed it's made daily and usually sold out by 1pm. They make 2 flavours per week and possibly rotates them so you might be able to retry ones you've missed.

There's a limit of 4 per person and the recommendation is to devour them within 6 hours of purchase. I don't think that's a hard feat.... considering I had to resist all my urges to polish it off while trying to snap some photos.

I manage to grab myself 2 Passion Fruit Cheesecake Zonuts. After my first bite.. my life changed. This has got to be one of the best things in the Zumbo store @ The Star (also available at their Balmain store). The doughnut feels like it melts in your mouth. Sweet cream on top with the passion fruit (only slightly sour) custard oozing through the croissant pastry layers. I have the other one on my desk which I'm planning on saving it for my fiancée to try. It's going to take all my will power to not eat it and embarrassingly just show her an empty paper bag.
In my opinion, this should be the new benchmark of doughnuts. None of that heavy,doughy, original-style deep-fried doughnut you get my Donut King or even worse Coles bakery.... we demand.. no we need this delightful, light and airy monster-size hybrid that packs such a delicious and cushy punch.

Speculoos Cookie Butter

This jar is apparently a big deal... or so my fiancee says.
What is Speculoos Cookie Butter? 

Speculoos is a type of spiced shortcrust biscuit. Spices used in Speculoos are cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom and white pepper. Most Speculoos versions are made from white flour, brown sugar, butter and spices.

Speculoos Cookie Butter's flavor is caramelized and gingerbread-like with a color similar to peanut butter.The spread consists of 60% crushed speculoos cookies along with vegetable oils.

Early this year the U.S is facing a shortage of Speculoos, the addictive, spicy cookie butter sold by Trader Joe's. Speculoos has been out of stock at Trader Joe's across the country for more than a month, and there's no immediate sign of relief.

Cookie butter's popularity rocketed to the top of Trader Joe's annual "most popular products" list in 2012. Things were so good on the Speculoos scene that by 2013, Trader Joe's expanded the line and released a crunchy version.
The flavour is subtle and delicate, which I found oddly strange as most American favourites seem to be packed with seasoning and sugars. I didn't mind the gingerbread-like taste, a reminiscent of cookies. My fiancee loved it.. but we got to savour this jar....Who knows when we can get another...

Voodoo Rocky Road

So my visit to the Aroma Festival isn't complete without stopping at Voodoo. Why? Well....this actually started at the Winter Festival back in 2009 which marked a few big occasions: 

1) My close friend from high school proposed to the girl he's always loved

2) I found myself drinking one of the best hot chocolates I've ever tasted (from Voodoo).
And from then on my world was turned upside down. I've been on some secret hunt to find this amazing hot chocolate... just to retry it and confirm that it was the bright lights, fake snow, cold air and the outdoor ice skating rink that made the hot chocolate ever so great.

No hot chocolate for sale.....the second best thing I can find here was their rocky road. I love rocky road, especially the one from the dearly departed Darrel Lea. Which still can be found at my local Coles amongst the other chocolates. Definitely a small range but still existing.

So Rocky Road was invented in Australia back in 1853. It was actually created as a way of selling confectionery that had gone bad from its long journey. So the "creative" businessmen sold the chocolate to the un-culture but wealthy people of Melbourne. So they mixed the spoiled confectionery with low grade chocolate and then added locally foraged nuts. The name actually comes from the "Rocky Roads" the travelers had to take to get to the gold fields.

The main ingredients in Rocky Road are:marshmallow, chocolate (milk, dark or white chocolate),gelatin preparation, desiccated coconut and nuts.
The sample above is the Raspberry and Cream, and White Chocolate. The raspberry candy sticks to your teeth and the outer chocolate is hard and breaks off into slightly sharp shards that jab into your gums. It felt awkward to eat. 

The white chocolate was slightly better but still not above average. 

It consisted largely of chocolate and marshmallows and I can't really sense they enhanced it with any "locally foraged nuts".

Unfortunately this snack does not resemble how great I remember my Voodoo hot chocolate experience. I would call this way below par compared to Darrel Lea.

The Rocks Aroma Festival

Another year and another day to get to experience some fine coffee, great company, beautiful Sydney weather and a snacking field day! This is The Rocks Aroma Festival where the air is surrounded by the smell of roasted beans. A day where even the non-coffee drinkers surrender themselves to a addictive cup of joe.
We started by hitting The Chilli Factory stand where we did a quick sample of Scorpion Strike chilli sauce. We only took a drop each on a cracker. It was decent burn but didn't feel like the one million plus scoville unit sensation it claimed to be. 

By midday the amount of people was worse than Boxing Day sales at Myer. Navigating through crowds of over-caffeinated coffee lovers can be dangerous. 
Every year my fiancee always gets suckered into trying the teas. This year was no different. I personally don't like tea as much as the next guy, but this I had to try: chocolate tea. The sweet aroma of chocolate intrigued my sense of smell and the light chocolate aftertaste put a smile on my palate. This was apparently a weak tea flavour so it was the perfect fit for the I-Wanna-Fit-In-As-A-Tea-Drinker in me. At $35 a jar it makes around 100 cups. 
So the next stop was my biggest mistake of the day. When you see a long line like this waiting for coffee, you think to yourself this must be better than Kopi Luwak. 

So my friend and I started our wait......
....two hours later we reached the front of the line. 

The long wait had it's perks, we were able to enjoy the beautiful sunny Sydney weather: cold enough to keep my jacket on without sweating. The highlight of waiting in line is meeting weird characters like this lady who walked up to my friend and mocked us for waiting so long in line and then walked away. 

As we approached the front, I could hear people whispering the words chilli and coffee together. Suddenly a gust of chilli powder crept into the air. It left me and about 10 others coughing spontaneously. He laughs "This is all part of the experience".
So Mayan coffee time has arrived! I ended up being convinced that I must try a Chai Latte with chilli, honey, chocolate, cinnamon and caramel. I'm sure there were a few more ingredients but it was really hard understanding his english.

Honestly... it was nothing to write home about. I'm no coffee fanatic so I couldn't tell you how bold, (italic or underline) the coffee beans was but the time we wasted waiting was not overcome by how normal this beverage tasted. 
It seems like a trend now to make buns in this style. Soft white Ippudo-like bun, marinated pork belly and pickled cucumber. The marinated pork belly was a bit of a let down as they stewed this with the skin and the crackling aka "The Best Bit" was softened and we sadly mourned the loss of the crunch factor.
The best parts of the day were the freebies. 

Small cookies that tasted like Danish Butter Cookies dusted in icing sugar.
Oak and Pauls with their Ice Coffee for the fake Coffee lovers *Shyly raises hand*

While waiting in line for that Mayan coffee, I watched the Asian guy and his friends devour this concoction which I named Egg-Dog. Chorizzo with two poached eggs, smothered in chimmichurri all held in a bread roll. 

My highlight was when this prize was actually in my hands and tasted just as good as it looked. The slight spice of the chorizzo worked so well and that chimmichurri was the shooting star. And as for the egg... it was poached well and I'm glad Humpty took one for the team. 
I don't really have the issue where I need a drink every time I eat but it seems I'll be marrying someone who does. So we made a pit stop for good ol' pink lemonade.  
It tasted sour and sweet at the same time and was definitely a refreshing change to all the milk based drinks we've been consuming all day.
And the day just isn't complete without dessert...
These mini cupcakes tasted quite great, mainly due to their size which created the perfect balance of icing to cupcake body ratio. That being said, the cupcake itself would have tasted dry and bland without the super sweet and creamy icing on top.
But the day wasn't all about eating and drinking coffee. 

Coffee related Monet-art was brewing. 
The best part of this was not seeing them finish this masterpiece but enjoying overhearing something think this was a picture of Marilyn Monroe. (For the non Australian readers, this is a picture of Dame Edna)
And the fun continues with people posing with a giant cup. I could sit here and ridicule how easily people are entertained by giant props... but I too have photo evidence that would label me a hypocrite.
The day just left me drained. Not even exceeding my daily dose on sugars and caffeine could save me.

Design Your Own Magnum

I was browsing my Facebook and realised my friend stumbled upon something really cool. A Design Your Own Magnum store. It's only a popup store but the gimmick has suckered me in!
The Magnum pop-up shop in Westfield Sydney is opened on behalf of clients Unilever. The Magnum Pleasure Store promotion will run for 6 weeks and is part of a global Magnum promotion. The store encourages customers to create their own Magnum but selecting coatings and toppings and then see if created right in front of your eyes. 

I walked through wind and rain just to face a queue which took me over 40 minutes to conquer. Was this going to be the most amazing Magnum I've ever eaten!
Despite the long wait and slow staff, who seem to be doing their best, it's nice to be greeted with a friendly smile when you finally reach the front and actually be treated nice by all staff. 

The idea is to choose a base Magnum, whether it be Milk, White and Dark. Then they'll coat it so they're able to stick all the toppings you choose. You're allowed up to 4 toppings, which seemed to be the popular and maximum choice by the people around me.
The finished product looks amazing and I guess that in itself might be worth the wait. The custom ice-cream will set you back $7 each. Unfortunately the end result is just that... a nice looking product that really isn't anything super special. The saying goes "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" and that's exactly what Magnum ice-creams are. So good already.. adding toppings really adds little to no benefit.
Here's mu own custom design: White Chocolate Base, Dark Chocolate Drizzle and Toppings include: Rose Praline, Crushed Macadamias, Crumbled Biscuit and Toasted Coconut Flake. Shame the Popping Candy wasn't available at the time.

For those who can't make it or just wanted a quick preview of what your long wait results in, here's a Youtube video of London's Build Your Own Magnum Store.

Morinaga Choco Ball

I studied Japanese for many years in high school and found that I've never really had a chance to use it. Is reading snack packaging the true purpose of this skillset...I manage to decipher this to say Choco Balls.
So my fiancée brings home this small packet and tells me to try... It was already opened and had sticky tape on it to keep the box from releasing all the choco balls everywhere. 

Morinaga has established deep roots in the daily lives of Japanese with their confectionery products. Some of their long selling products that their customers are familiar with include: Morinaga Biscuits, Chocoball, DARS chocolate, Koeda chocolate and HI-CHEW candy.
Its a chocolate ball with caramel inside. Has a chewy consistency. It's sweet enough but just ins't my thing. I manage to eat 2-3 and the packets been sitting on our kitchen counter ever since. I doubt I'd be tempted to buy it again if given the chance.

I was surprised that a Youtube search manage to bring a result for this. Enjoy this catchy tune and apparent making process of this snack.

Bourke Street Bakery

So the sun is up and I feel adventurous. I decided to scoff down my lunch and walk to Bourke Street Bakery.

After a quick search on Google Maps....the 7.2 KM round trip by foot better be worth it.

I arrived at the destination all puffed out after trying to fight through the pedestrians in Surry Hills and Central Station. It's crowded areas like those that test how stupid people walk. There was a line of up to 4 to 5 deep... but a quick glance at most reviews indicate there's ALWAYS a line. On the plus side he service is quick and the wait is minimal. The challenge is deciding before you reach the front of the line.
I chose not to eat the tarts until back at the office and that itself was almost a bad decision after I had two close misses with careless joggers who decided it's a great idea to move at fast speeds through crowded footpaths.

My first pick was the Chocolate Raspberry Tart. 
The tart's pastry is thin and crispy. It has a nice crunch between my teeth. In fact it acts as a bowl that holds the chocolate mousse, chocolate sprinkles with a touch of beautiful and sour raspberry jam in the centre. 

Since it's dark chocolate, it makes it slightly bitter but perfectly delicious. I would definitely walk the distance for another. It reminded me of a tart-shaped cannoli. 

For my second pick, I went with a pet hate of mine... Ginger-flavoured foods: The Ginger Brulee Tart. I decided to go for something that I wouldn't normally enjoy to test how well this place made their treats. Can it be so good it converts me to a ginger lover?
The pastry was identical, crumbles beautifully and the custard inside had a medium hint of ginger which was quite tolerable for me. The top layer did not break as nicely with the cracking sensation like a crème brulee but it still tasted fantastic. And all topped off with a sprinkle of pistachios...which can never be wrong. 
I don't think I'll be reaching for ginger foods more often after this experience but I'm definitely going back and bring others with me to taste their savoury pastries and famous Passionfruit Meringue Tart.

Free promotion for Bourke Street Bakery:

Arancini Chicken and Mushroom

Golden Banana (Top Ryde Shopping Center) has a small section at the front selling "hot" snacks....
This is an Arancini. It's a fried rice ball coated with breadcrumbs. The name comes the foods shape and colour, roughly translating to "little orange".

I'm a fan of hot food where you don't need a plate, knife and fork or spoon. Hand held snacks is the way to go.

I recently saw this being in made in one of the recent Masterchef challenges hence enticing me to give it a go. It's very flavoursome, like a small meal in the palm of your hands of rice, chicken and mushroom. Would be great served with some sort of creamy sauce or even hot. Yes I ate it cold at the shopping center.
Definitely feels like one of those snacks you can make yourself following a recipe. I might just give it a go.