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Archive for June, 2009

For our lovely friend Carina’s birthday, we dined at Nick’s Diner in North Ryde. This marks the second time Eden and I ate together (the first being at Wagaya), but this time we actually sat together!

Self-proclaimed masters of burgers & pancakes – kind of an odd combination?

Previously occupying this space was another restaurant called Platinum Bar & Grill which may or may not simply just renovated to Nick’s. The restaurant is quite large and spacious, with the 40 or so people and 3 long tables there for Carina’s party only occupying a corner of the restaurant.

Our table arrived first, and being the hungry pigs we were, also started ordering first.

Calamari – $15.90
Marinated & slightly flowered, deep fried; served with fries, salad & lemon myrtle mayonnaise.

We wasted no time getting into starters. First there was deep fried calamari, which I guess is a typical Australian dish. Despite an embarrassing childhood experience of choking on calamari rings which prevented me from ever eating fried calamari again, the dish looked golden and delicious and I heard no complaints.

Moroccan Lamb Skewers – $16.90
Char grilled served with salad, fries & yoghurt dip.

Since I seem to astronomically fail at remembering dishes, I think this is Moroccan lamb from matching with the description. Nonetheless, the lamb was herb-y and flavoursome.

Grain Fed Rump Steak 250-300 grams – $22.50
Char-grilled served with rosti potatoes & salad with a choice of peppercorn, hollandaise or mushroom sauce.

Now I always love a good steak, and although steak isn’t a specialty at Nick’s (I believe there’s only one on the menu), I can’t deny that it didn’t look juicy and delicious. Jelli and Jeff ordered it and being the stick-thin people they are, I don’t think they finished it. The serving of potatoes was quite generous and I believe the sauce pictured above is mushroom.

Now, onto the main attraction – the burgers!

Traditional Aussie Burger – $13.90
200 gram beef patty char grilled, topped with grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, beetroot, tomato sauce & fries.

Sunshine burger – $14.90
Beef patty char grilled, topped with grilled pineapple, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, mayo & fries.

The New Yorker – $14.90
Beef patty char grilled, with crispy bacon, melted cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, tangy mustard mayo & fries.

Nick’s House Burger – $14.90
200 gram beef patty char grilled on a toasted sesame seed bun topped with roasted red peppers, tomato, grilled onions, sauteed mushrooms & fries.

Are the pictures making you hungry? As you can see, the burgers look packed and juicy and colourful, and I was positively drooling when the plates finally came. However, I can’t help but feel I was a little let down. :(

I ordered the last burger pictured – the (falling apart) Nick’s House Burger. I can only speak for myself but I thought that while the description sounded irresistable, the burger, especially the beef patty was terribly bland…as you can see from the plate, I pretty much had to go crazy with the salt and pepper to give it some savoury flavour. Although it might be just the fact that this burger contained no sauce like many of the other ones, but I felt the patty could definitely be spruced up with more herbs/spices/seasoning, because it was really quite ordinary. :(

Black Cherry Forest – $11.50
Buttermilk pancakes dusted with cocoa then topped with a black cherry and kirsch compote and finished with lashings of warm Belgium chocolate ganashe, cream and ice cream.

While the burgers were slightly disappointing, I thought their pancakes were absolutely delicious! The pancakes were soft and warm, the chocolate sauce was delightful and the ice cream was delicious and not too rich or mild. They have sizeable menu of pancakes and we definitely had a tough time choosing which ones to order.

Nuts About Chocolate – $10.90
Buttermilk pancakes sandwiched with warm nuttela spread and drizzled with warm Belgium chocolate sauce, topped with cream and hazelnut ice cream.

Eden and I shared the Nuts About Chocolate pancake for obvious reasons :p (although our blog title out-puns and out-awesomes theirs).

Chocolate strawberries bouquet made by Claire!

Lastly, unfortunately these cannot be found at the restaurant but they really should be – chocolate strawberries! The batch was made by our talented friend Claire for Carina, and they looked (and tasted!) so delicious we all ended up having one and demanded that Claire make them for every birthday.

Nick’s Diner (visited 06/06/09)
Shop 404, Macquarie Centre
Corner Herring and Waterloo Roads
North Ryde, NSW 2113
Ph: (02) 9889 8801

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Gungho, the Eurasian eat in/take away shop for the Gungho Eurasian!

 

‘Twas the end of another university welcome reception, and while about thirty people from our course had traipsed off to SATANG THAI, Jenny, Chris, Grace & I decided to be trendsetters (yeah, totallyyy) and feast at Gungho.

 

Gungho is probably one of those places you could walk past a million times, and never notice it was there – until someone talks about it. It’s a very visual kind of place – all the signs are brightly lit with glowing backdrops. And the good thing about the menus here are that there are pictures of food decorating the words, so you have a pretty good visual idea of what you’re going to get.

The place is about 5m wide (lol), and increeedibly squishy. The few times I’ve been here, I’ve been overloaded with laptop bags and coats, so a piece of advice: don’t come here if you have a lot to carry !!

 

 

Chicken Spring Rolls – $7.50
mixed vegetables with chicken in flaky pastry served with sweet chilli sauce

Chicken, mushroom, carrot, and lettuce packed into a crispy, crunchy pastry with dipping sauce. ‘Twas deliciousss, I love spring rolls ! :)

 

Gungho Salad (vegetarian) – $9
Traditional penne pasta, homemade pesto sauce, with rocket, sundried tomatoes and parmesan cheese

Can I just say that the word ‘SALAD’ here was completely misleading ! -_- It was pretty much pasta with sundried tomatoes and a few pieces of rocket salad sprinkled on top …which the description pretty much sums up, I guess.
Too much pesto, though, but it was kind of tasteless and superr oily ..but I loved the sundried tomatoes ! :)

 

Barramundi $16.80
Grilled barramundi served with tartare sauce, freshly squeezed lemon and your choice of steamed vegies, chips or jasmine rice

I don’t know how else to describe this barramundi than to say ..that it melts in your mouth ?! (yes, this fish actually does lol)
Chris’ second debut on this blog: “a strong palate, fresh seafood-type flavour” ..yah =\ haha, but it was pretty good, and Gungho’s chef has the odd ability to infuse garlic in the steamed vegetables !

 

Five Spice Beef Brisket with Rice – $11.80
beef brisket, spice, herbs and special Gungho sauce

Very salty, very hot. If you asked what exactly were the five spices, or what the ‘special Gungho sauce’ is, I couldn’t tell you, but if you’re a fan of kidney-shrinking, ’tis the dish for you! (although I love salt, I’d say that you should still make sure that you mix the rice into the brisket first)

 

Gungho Burger (v) – $8.80
Veggie pattie, eggplant, grilled capsicum, lettuce with sweet chilli sauce, served with chips

The sad thing about vegetable patties is that they never really taste as good as they look. =( Didn’t try this one, though
Chips came with a side of tomato sauce, no seasoning, but salt available at each table to control the flavour hit :)

Chris & I were itching for dessert, and Grace & Jenny couldn’t bear to be left out (despite grumbles about how full their stomachs were), soooo… ! !

 

Gungho Banana Fritter – $6.80
deep fried banana with desiccated coconut, served with vanilla ice cream

Grace had been on a mission to find a place to eat banana fritter in Sydney, and it just so happened that we stumbled across this on the menu at Gungho! Unfortunately, the batter was kind of soggy, and as banana fritters go, I’ve probably had better :( Banana wasn’t very warm, and there wasn’t really much flavour …but maybe it was an off day for them, ‘cos the presentation looks nice ! teheh …but I do wonder, what is the point of the artificial cherry ! Does anybody everr eat them?

 

Green Tea Ice cream – $5.50
traditional Japanese green tea ice cream served with red beans

Mild green tea flavoured ice cream topped with whipped cream and a sprinkling of red bean, served in a thick, frosted flower-shaped cup :) yumm ice cream!

Food here isn’t exactly a taste sensation (but that could just be my cold-numbed taste buds talking), but it’s pretty cheap and convenient, so why nott :) They also sell things like taro blended ice, as well as their special Gungho mocktails !

 
Gungho Eurasian Cuisine (visited 01/06/09)
Shop 9, 107 – 121 Quay St
Haymarket New South Wales 2000
Ph: (02) 9212 3228
Fax: (02) 9212 3998
www.gungho.com.au

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Emperor’s Garden Cake & Bakery, home to hot little custard balls, more commonly known as Emperor’s Puffs, and a variety of cheap Asian buns and cakes!

 

Swiss Cheese cake, Tiramisu, Fresh Cream Strawberry Puff, Eclair ($1.80 each)

The two best things about Emperor’s Garden Cake & Bakery are the variety of cakes and the cheap price. Throw in a 10% discount to celebrate their 30th anniversary, and you’ve got yourself super super cheap cakes !

 

One thing I have noticed about their selection of cakes is that they’re never the same ! You might endeavour to try allll of them, but the next time you go, they’ve got a new cake selection :D And it’s much more worth it buying their slices of cake for $1.80 apiece, rather than a super huge cake from their birthday cake selection.

 


Again ..I apologise for the bad quality of photos – using my phone camera againnn :(

 

Passionfruit & Apricot Mousse – $1.80
Convenient packaging, and a tasty morsel of cake to feast on =9

If you like soft, moist mousse, fruit in your cakes, and a deliciously light and fluffy sponge, then Emperor’s Garden is definitely the place to go to ! The portion is just enough as well, because I don’t think I could eat too much of this cake – although I can never OD on apricot.
I have tried their tiramisu here though, and can’t say I was too keen on it – a bit too much cream for my liking.

 

A birthday cake we bought sometime in March last year.
If you haven’t noticed, the birthday cakes at Emperor’s Garden are perpetually on discount – I think it’s about 10%.
Don’t remember how much this one cost, but ’twas your typical Chinese cake – vanilla sponge sandwiched with cream and covered in cream, cream buds, and fruit – strawberries, rockmelon, honeymelon, peaches, and kiwi fruit – and layered with gelatin glaze.

 

For comparison’s sake, and just because I can, here’s a photo of a Mother’s Day cake I bought earlier this year at Montagne Bleue :

 

Taro Sponge cake – $29
Taro sponge cake layered with cream and covered with strawberry cream, chocolate icing, and fresh strawberries.

The people at Montagne Bleue, although without a fine grasp of English (Mandarin speakers only!), were incredibly hospitable in making this cake – and for $29 too!
I came rushing up on the night of Mother’s Day with a friend, looking for a cake, and the owners here offered to make a cake similar to the one on display for us (for a half-hour wait), and even went so far to ask which shade of pink I wanted (lool – I was having trouble enough saying I wanted a cake in Mandarin).
The front bit was a bit messy, as you can probably tell from the photo, but for a rush job and the hospitality of the staff, I’d definitely go back.

 

Emperor’s Garden Cake & Bakery (visited 01/06/09)
Cnr Dixon St, 100 Hay St
Haymarket NSW 2000

Montagne Bleue (visited 11/05/09)
45 Dixon St
Haymarket NSW 2000

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Shepherd’s Pie (recipe)

I was debating on whether I should post this up because ROSY should be blogging about the foodmaking, not me ! ….purely because I am just a terrible cook :( ..but oh well.
Case in point: I made a diabetic cake out of unsweetened apple sauce for my dad’s birthday, but I didn’t bake for long enough ..so it was a little …undercooked on the inside (to say the least) ..and just a few weeks ago, I burnt my 2 minute noodles ! :(

But I was feeling a little creative about 2 weeks ago (looking through my mum’s Woman’s Day magazine) and decided to make Shepherd’s pie for dinner ! …with a slight variation of the original recipe

 

(yes i know Shepherd’s pie doesn’t have tomatoes ..but according to Woman’s Day, it doesn’t have pastry either)
So here’s what I did ..with a few dodgy improvised ingredients & perhaps slightly unorthodox cooking methods that shall be censored for a rainy day..

 

Shepherd’s Pie
Ingredients
– 500g of frozen vegetables, defrosted (or you can use real vegetables if you’re not feeling lazy)
– 500g of beef, sliced
– 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
– a few leaves of basil
– 1 tbs worcestershire sauce
– 1 teaspoon of salt
– lashings of pepper
– 1 slice of Bega cheese, sliced
– 1 tbs chicken stock
– olive oil (for oiling the saucepan)
– 1 onion, sliced
– 1 tbs flour

 

Instructions

1. Put saucepan on to heat, add olive oil and onions and fry for 2 minutes
2. Add frozen vegetables and stir until tender (for approx. 5 minutes)

 

3. Add flour and chicken stock to beef, mix well together and then add to saucepan

 

4. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 5 minutes, or until beef is tender, and then leave to sit in an oven-proof pan. Stir in basil ….

 

…and add sliced tomatoes and sliced cheese on top !

 

I had to cut up the slices of Bega tasty cheese (which is really not my favourite cheese in the world …haha) ..but the photo of me having done that looks so unappetising I shall refrain from putting it up

 

..but I did get a little overexcited with the tomatoes & went a teeny bit overboard

 

Ingredients [for mashed potatoes]
– 10 potatoes, peeled and chopped (for easy mashing)
– 1 leek, sliced
– 200ml of milk
– 2 tablespoons of butter
– 1 slice of Bega cheese, sliced

 

Further Instructions [for mashed potatoes]
5. Boil potatoes in hot water for approximately 10 minutes
6. Drain of water and mash, adding milk and butter for creamier texture
7. Bring back to boil, adding leek and cheese (if you wish it)

 

8. Spoon mashed potatoes over the beef mixture (and in my case, the tomato layer as well), then add MORE tomatoes for decoration


Soggy mashed potatoes ..haha and tomatoes!

9. Put oven-proof pan into oven preheated to 190 degrees, and then bake for 15 – 20 minutes.

 

I must say the final effort tasted pretty goood :D (’twas the general consensus of the guests as well :D) . The meat was actually really nice – wasn’t too salty, or tangy, or overcooked, or raw, or whateverr ..(can you believe it ?! Something I cooked ….nice!!). Although my dad made the mashed potatoes for me, and he accidentally boiled them in too much water so they were waaay too sogggy ..and I didn’t get the crispy top I wanted ! :(

..Also, i know i haven’t been able to shut up about KFC lately, BUT if anyone missed out on the KFC Cayan Grill burger, you can still buy the burger/twister combo for $5.95 ! VOUCHERS HERE ! damnnn KFC is so tasty =9

Have a good weekend guys ! :)

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Ice cream is one of those foods that I could eat everyday, and after every meal (ice cream party, anyone?)

After finishing exams on Tuesday night, the contingency plan for a half-hour wait at Sunshine Crepe led to the four of us trooping to Coles in the cold weather and buying two boxes of ice cream (twelve bars all up), where we just sat outside, pigging out.

Would it be embarrassing to admit that my heart beats just that little bit faster whenever the word “ice cream” comes up (must be from all the fattiness clogging up my arteries ..hahaha) – and ’tis the same with Passionflower and their self-proclaimed dessert culture – a place where ice cream and fruit join together in holy matrimony and make sweet, sweet loooove.

Desserts here rally around the $14 mark, which some may think is a little pricey, but if you’ve got your student ID card, you can get 10% off at the George St store (dno about the Capitol one though) ….and if you’re a UNSW Law student ..well, you get discounts just about anywhere -_-”

 

Lasting Luv – $14
A combination of strawberry & mango ice cream, dressed with a mix cocktail of peaches, cherries & strawberries, dazzled with strawberry syrup

do you see the “dazzling” ..haha, the fruit ice cream here is reallyyyy good :) But I think you can still get the same quality of ice cream at Baskin & Robbins, Gelatissimo …or even your local grocery store !

 

Playmate – $14
three scoops of lychee & rose petal ice cream, with hard coconut and lychee jelly, and lychee strawberry syrup

Albert had been raving about lychee & rose petal ice cream for weeks, and so I hadddd to try it. I gave Justin the first bite though ..to my mistake.
As soon as he had a lick, he burst into raucous peals of …laughter? pain? God knows.. :\ hahah and it all stemmed from the flowery taste of the ice cream. If you’ve never tried it, the first thing you can taste is lychee (duh)….but then a subtle rose flavour creeps up and hits you. Justin had a good giggle about this for agessss

 

Final Fantasy – $14
black sesame & coconut ice cream accompanied by cool refreshing pieces of black jelly, drowned in a shot of evaporated milk

The one thing I don’t really like about Passionflower is their jelly. It is always sosososooo hard, like the ones you get at yum cha or buffet. I’ll take soft Aeroplane jelly anyday, thanks !
I do like how they actually give you a shot of condensed milk separate to the ice cream, though, so you can put in as little or as much as you like (or none, if, like me, you’re also not a fan of condensed milk ..although I did put a little on for comparison’s sake, and I musttt say, everything is so much better WITHOUT it!)

 

Durian Milkshake – $6 ?

what looks like an innocent glass of milk is actually a noxious durian shake ! “Tastes like heaven, smells like hell” ..but I would just say that it’s hell all over. >:(

Passionflower may have the classic strawberry, vanilla or chocolate, but it’s renowned as the hotspot for Asian cravings ;) you can get green tea, black sesame, taro, and red bean all at the one placee !
..and the ice cream flavours at Passionflower even go so far as to include durian (yuck!), jackfruit, sticky rice and a new flavour, cherry blossom . I do remember that ages ago, they had wasabi-flavoured ice cream …but it appears to be written off the menu now :( ..I wonder why ….

 

Quick & Fast scoops of ice cream

 

Clockwise from top:
Mango, lychee & rose petal, durian ..and a scoop of sticky rice underneath – $15

 

Clockwise from top:
White chocolate hazelnut, lime sorbet, cookies & cream ..and a scoop of Japanese green tea below – $14

 

Hot waffles – $12.80
Freshly baked made-to-order Belgian waffles with thick chocolate syrup, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a side of strawberries.

I think they ran out of maple syrup, so Philip made do with chocolate syrup. You can also get orange chocolate, apple, banana, chocolate mousse ..the possibilities are endless (or are they).. But because they make it when you order, the waffles are always nice and hot :)

 

A lot of people also don’t know that Passionflower has savoury crepes (think chicken, mushroom, etc) and cheese melts as well – I think around $10 for each one – and they are deliciouslyyy tasty when it’s a cold day (or even when it isn’t) . If the desserts are too sweet, there’s always the choice of coffee, or you can get water – the option of a self-service jug of water at the Capitol store, or asking the waitress/waiter for a few cups at the George St store.

ALSO …if your birthday is coming up, you can get a free dessert on your birthday at Passionflower (with photo I.D.), if you register your birth date here: http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=51405631007&topic=8590

Unfortunately, I only just found out about this, which means I have another 359 days to go before I can claim my free dessert ! :(

 

Passionflower (visited 16/04/09 and 28/05/09)
580 George St
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9267 0075
http://www.passionflower.com.au

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Krispy Kreme is having their sixth birthday this Friday (19th of June) … which means …….. six original glazed doughnuts for a dollar !!
YESS that’s right, 6 for $1 !! So if you go in store, you can get a doughnut apiece for the very cool price of 16.67 cents (but only at Auburn, Liverpool, Penrith & the city stores)
Sooooo! if you missed out on the free KFC burger on Tuesday, go buy Krispy Kremes on Friday !! :)

Anyways ..onto the foodie photos :)

Menya is one of those secrets of Sydney – a place that everybody talks about but nobody knows where it is – until, of course, you go there.
The place itself is owned by I’s Group, a company that owns a small chain of Japanese restaurants around Australia (think Sydney, Brisbane, and Cairns) – classified into three distinct “class levels” of dining – and advocating their dishes as “a taste of Japanese in Australia”.

 


The tagline for Menya is the modern ramen restaurant – providing the best traditional Japanese ramen noodles in Sydney at affordable prices ….and affordable they are !

For a Thursday night, the noodle bar is lively and bustling with customers. They have a system, I think, because the moment you step inside, the first thing they ask you to do is ORDER (you can’t even sit down!). It’s like fast food, except with the quality of restaurant food, and once you’ve ordered & are subsequently seated, THENN they bring the food to you ;)

 


Menus are posted up on the wall ..The vegetarian meal’s on holiday! :O (haha, how cute)

 


mmm nomnomnom ! The ramen servings look huuuge in this picture, and this man looks very satisfied!
But will we be the same ..?

 

Menya soba – $7.90
Soy flavoured stock soup topped with seasoned fried bean curd, seaweed, tempura flakes and cooked shitake mushroom

I thought soba wasn’t in soup ! :( (even though the menu clearly says it’s in SOUP) ..But I was probably thinking of yakisoba …but this was nice anyway!
Extremelyyy salty (this coming from the person who used to eat globules of salt by itself), very warm, and very tasty (I think I like soba more than ramen)

 

Ton-toro ramen (pork) – $10.90
“Tonkotsu” noodle soup topped with lots of thinly sliced roast pork, boiled bean sprout and sesame

Does this not look tastyyy =9 Every meal so far had a generous helping of sesame seeds ..and the ramen wasn’t soggy, either ! A lot of the meat I’ve been eating these days have been reminiscent of those Chinese soup meats ..so a little stewy, but still good nevertheless !

 

Kogashi-cheese ramen – $9.90
“Tonkotsu” noodle soup topped with lots of melted mozzarella cheese, boiled bean sprout, naruto, menma, and sesame

Mmm… cheesy goodnessss…! With chillis and a sprinkling of sesame seeds …extra chilli sauce available if you’re an extra hot kind of person ;)

Menya also has those loyalty cards, where if you buy 20 meals, you get a free ‘Monthly dish’ ! Unfortunately the monthly dish is limited to about four or five items on the menu, (the menya soba/udon being one of them) …but rewarding your loyal customers, I liiiike it ! ;)

 


But they don’t let you bring outside food in ..which is fair enough.

 

Menya Noodle Bar (visited 28/05/09)
Level Ground, Shop TG8, 8 Quay St
Haymarket, NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 9212 1020
http://www.menya.com.au

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I don’t know if you all feel the buzz that comes from grand openings and free food (speaking of which, did anyone try the KFC Cayan Grill Fillet burgers at the burger giveaway today at George st ?!), but talks of a new German bakery opening up in the Central Station tunnel was enough to pull me away from my virgin plans of trying a KFC pocketful (and hash brown!!).

 

The first time I heard of Lüneburger was last year, when I was working at Challenger. The EY kiddies there were raving about a fabulous German bakery down in QVB, and of course, for lunch we had to try it ! Not only do they do bread rolls and pastries, they’re well renowned for their sandwiches – which were sadly NOT on display at the Grand Opening in Central.

 


Free coffee was the lure of today’s grand opening.

I just realised the sign said that the world’s barista champion of 2003, Paul Bassett, was on duty ! ..but he must have been on a break when we got there, because sadly enough, my mocha was possibly the most terrible coffee I’ve ever had (and that includes machine-bought coffees) :( .

We reasoned that this was probably because the attraction of today was the baked goodies !!, and not the high quality coffee – not to mention that I saw someone mass-steaming jugs of milk – and someone else pouring the milk into the various coffee cups filled with expresso coffee and chocolate syrup.

 


Then again, it IS free coffee ! So can’t complain

And I expect it’s hard to continuously produce quality when pouring cups of coffee for hundreds of customers (especially since Lüneburger is situated in the Central thoroughfare – i.e. the tunnel going from Central to TAFE – so lots of passersby itching for their daily coffee fix).

 

Butter croissant – $2.50

And in the corner, what I think is butter croissant with nut-nougat filling, topped with hazelnut kernel semolina

Phone photo focus is a little soft at the front =[ I should really get into the habit of bringing my camera around with me, haha

 

Apple triangle (apfelecke), Cherry-hazelnut pastry (L-R) ..not sure what the last one is

 

Rhubarb buttercrumble (Johannesbeer Butterstreusel) – $3.50

This was extreeeemely tastyy ! Sweet and crumbly, and I really liked the textured icing on top. Apparently it’s a wheat roll (which means it’s healthy! haha but you can’t even tell)

 

Pudding danish with jam – $3.50

Grace had a pretzel – solid, and lightly salted – kind of like the Pretzel World pastries, and I think Tim had a chocolate croissant (Buttercroissant mit Schokocreme) …which he probably fell in love with after. yumm :)

 

Lüneburger German Bakery (visited 28/05/09)
Henry Deane Plaza (Central)
Shop 14a1 14-18 Lee St
Haymarket NSW 2008
http://www.luneburger.com.au

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