The Rezz Hotel

Today on the Dining Diaries…

The definition of “large” needs a redefinition,
I’m presented with Beef Cheeks to die for and
Lovely staff but they clearly have one eye fixed on the clock.

FullSizeRenderDiners today we found ourselves at The Rezz Hotel in Newton.

I can’t tell you how many times this place has been recommended to us and it was well worth the visit!

It’s situated near the pretty Thorndon Park Reserve that I used to run through quite regularly when I lived in the area.

I’m not sure if it’s been refurbished lately but it looked quite modern, new and clean as we walked in. There’s a cafe and a Bistro area and hubby and I turned to go to the Bistro.

There seemed to be a lot of (older) people in there including a couple of big groups. I liked the big open windows onto to greenery outside. It just gives you a nice feeling.
Hubby and I were hoping for one of the booths but although the booth tables were free, they weren’t made up so we just sat at the table we were brought to.

I had already looked through the menu online so I had an idea of what I wanted but hubby still needed some time. I had called ahead, and asked what time they serve lunch to and was told 2pm. I’m sure the website said 2.30pm. In any case, It was 1.45pm when we arrived and at 1.52pm, the waitress had been to our table twice and was tapping her pen on her pad. I understand there are times for a reason but we were told we had until 2pm to give an order and felt like we were a little under pressure to choose!

In the end, I ordered some Beef Cheeks and hubby went for a Greek Salad and some Pork Medallions.
We listened to the easy listening music while we waited and watched as the server diffused a situation at one of the group tables. I thought given the amount of people in the room she did really well.

We probably waited a little longer than I would have liked but my food did NOT disappoint!

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Beef Cheeks – Slow cooked in Marsala, served with herb mash, broccolini and baby carrots.
Well every little morsel of this was just divine. I even gave some to hubby because I could not believe how good it tasted and wanted him to try some.
You can’t see it in my picture but it was actually a really decent size piece of meat. The last time I ordered beef cheeks, most of it was fat. It was really disappointing but this one was just one delicious mouthful of meat after another. So tender, just melting effortlessly in my mouth. I tried not to show it too much as I know hubby was a little disappointed in the size of his dish. The vegetables were fresh and slightly firm and the herb mash along with that sauce was just so beautiful. I could eat that every day!! Superb.

We were going to share the Greek Salad but as I felt hubby needed it more, I only took a bit to taste.

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It certainly looks very colourful but the menu specifically states that there’s a vinaigrette but neither hubby or I could taste any dressing. The elements look kind of shiny, like there’s some dressing on them, but there really wasn’t. However, having said that, the elements in the dish were very fresh and tasty on their own so it wasn’t awful, it was just lacking.

And now to hubby’s Pork Medallion….
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I should have mentioned earlier, that when we were looking for a starter, or something to have with our mains, the server said “oh they’re really big serves, you probably won’t need anything else
If you enjoy food, you know you can never trust anyone who says that and that’s why hubby was really disappointed when he saw his dish.
The menu description read – Pork Medallions – Cooked with mushroom, brandy and green peppercorns and cream sauce, served with crushed rosemary, kipler potatoes and spinach.
As to what was on his plate, hubby said everything was perfect, even the spinach. He thought the sauce was really nice and a great accompaniment to the meat and loved the thin slivers of mushroom.
Unfortunately it just didn’t seem to fill him and if we hadn’t been specifically told “they’re big serves” he maybe wouldn’t have been so disappointed. I’m sure a few extra potatoes on the plate or if we’d ordered a side of wedges, it would have made all the difference but he felt like he hadn’t really eaten.

Still, even after all that, everything we ate, apart from the missing dressing on the salad, was just perfection and I’m really looking forward to coming here again and trying their  Moroccan Lamb dish! Yum.

Have you been to the Rezz Hotel?
What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below!

Till next we chow…

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Kaffana

Today on the Dining Diaries…

As meat platters appear on other people’s tables, dining envy grows,
Special moussaka was truly special  and
One of us is already setting the date for our next visit and he definitely will be  ordering a meat platter.

Diners today we were at Kaffana in that ever happening, “Hipster” paradise, Peel Street.

18767414_1429320747127999_1531879982924820872_n.jpgKaffana is a Serbian Meat restaurant and hubby had been seeing their ads on Facebook for sometime and has been getting quite enticed by them! I mean how can a meat lover go past those pictures of meat trays!

We were here at 6pm on a Friday night. It was heavily booked. Lots of people were waiting to enter the dining room.
Dim lighting, easy listening music in the background, exposed red brick walls and lots of wood all contributed to making us feel comfortable and welcome.


A server finally called our name and brought us to our table. I wasn’t sure who she was at first as she was a tiny thing in old sneakers and a black beanie with a few strands of platinum blonde hair coming through. But maybe that’s just the way things are in this sort of place.

The menu was pretty cute although it was a bit hard to see because of the dim lighting. They have old “little golden books” there and have pasted their menu to the pages of the story. I liked the idea, especially as I was always walking around with at least one “little golden book” in my hand when I was a kid.

Hubby and I had a look through the menu and he was so disappointed when I said I just couldn’t see myself having half a meat tray. I don’t mind meat, sometimes I even like it but in small quantities. I did feel a little bad for him though when other tables near us started having meat trays brought out to them…

We decided to start with the Moussaka to share as an entree. It was on their specials board and said it was served with sour cream. I didn’t know how that was going to work but was curious to try it. I normally really love moussaka and am still looking for the perfect one.

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It was very hard to take a decent photo because of the dim lighting but I hope you get an idea.

The moussaka was certainly special and not traditional.  I couldn’t see or taste any bechemel but then that probably wouldn’t have matched with the sour cream on top. I couldn’t find eggplant in there either but maybe it was. After all, what’s a moussaka without eggplant right?
It was absolutely delicious though. So much flavor! Makes me want to try to make it myself.
Hubby and I were fighting to make sure we got half each.

As per their menu, all meals come with “mammas” bread which was quite damper like. Very toasty warm and a little smokey tasting. I loved it!
The meals also come with potato salad and coleslaw? It was like a coleslaw sans mayonnaise.
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The potato salad looked nice and it had spring onions in it. 
Hubby didn’t want to eat it before our mains came and when I say he didn’t want to eat it, I mean he didn’t want US to eat it. That includes me. I was starving and it was so hard not to.

For main I chose Karakjordjeva. The menu described it as “Kaffana’s version of a Karadjordjeva schnitzel (no bread crumbs) , char grilled tenderised veal filled with ricotta, danish feta and cooked streaky bacon.”

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I’m not sure what I expected it to look like but probably not that.

That kind of looks like something the dog left behind.

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I have to say though that it tasted quite exceptional.

When you cut into it the ricotta oozed out.

I didn’t know there was supposed to be bacon in there and couldn’t really taste it but it was really so rich and full of flavour that I couldn’t have eaten more than that small roll.

Hubby ordered the Pork Skewers “Char-grilled, crisp and tender skewered park scotch pieces”
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Hubby said his was near heaven. I got to taste a little morsel too. They were just flavoured perfectly. Moist, tender with a gorgeous charcoal taste.
In his words, “Just f’n delicious “

Though the portions seemed small I felt like I’d eaten a lot by the end.

If you’re a meat eater, it would be definitely worth it to save up a few pennies and head on down to Peel Street and have a meal at Kaffana. Don’t be like us though, do yourself a favour and order the meat platter!!!

Have you been to Kaffana?
What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below!!

Till next we chow….

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Fifteen

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Today hubby and I visited Kobe! What a surprise this city was!

But before I get to that, I have to mention this. At one point when we were on the train, a conductor came through.

He opened the door from the adjoining carriage. Stood looking towards the door at the other end, and bowed. Walked through (counting I think?) and when he got to the other door, he turned to face the door he’d just come from, and bowed again.

Things like that just continue to amaze me. They are so polite and show so much respect. I wonder if that extends to the private life as it does in their public life.

Speaking of trains, we had a different experience today. We weren’t sure we were on the right train so we asked a conductor that was walking through. He said yes, we’re on the right train for Kobe, but if we get off at the next station and catch the train from platform five, we’ll be on an express and it will be better.
Sounds good right?
What he didn’t bank on was the speed with which hubby and I whipped off that train and onto the train that was on platform five. Turns out that train was the local (stopping at every station) train that hadn’t left yet. It was JUST leaving as I jumped through the doors so proud at having made it…. and then we noticed it was stopping at EVERY station. Wrong train! The express arrived minutes later and we watched it race by as we chugged along… 

But at least that one got us to the right location. No such luck on the way back but that’s another story for another day…

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We had sweets for morning tea when we got there.

I’m addicted to these baked goods.

How can these sweet little puffs of sugar be so high in calories?

I don’t know how everyone here doesn’t go mad for them!!

We were impressed at how modern and clean Kobe looked as we got off the train. So many interesting things to see. We wondered what parts had been affected by the 1995 earthquake.

The freeways are just amazing! It felt like we were in a different country at times. It was so different to anything else we’d seen since we’ve been in Japan.


We walked around Harbour Land and saw a few places we thought we might like to have lunch, but really wanted to walk through China Town first before deciding.
IMG_4188When we were in Yokohama, we were sorry we’d eaten lunch before going to their Chinatown, this time, it didn’t seem to matter.

The China Town in Kobe isn’t as big as the one in Yokohama.

Why would we visit China Town while in Japan?

I think it’s just interesting to see how the Japanese interpret that culture.

Plus the food is just yummy.

 

We got some pre-lunch snacks!


I just love those sesame ball things! These ones had red bean paste in them.

Hubby had the things on the top right. I think he said it was pork? And bottom right, well they just looked cute!! I’m not sure what they were as I didn’t get any of them.

So after walking around for probably too long, we went back to Harbourland and found a buffet place that was really very reasonably priced! Everything else seemed not worth it really… but how could we go past a buffet? So many foods to try!!!

And we were not disappointed. I took a photo of most of the food we saw there.


We had quite the ride home via train and ended up stopping at Dome-Mae station and walking back from there.

We were still too full for a proper dinner tonight so we just bought some snacks to eat in our room.

Another day full of a lot of walking and a LOT of food!!

I’m sad that our trip is almost over.

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Fourteen

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It seems to be getting just that bit harder to get going in the mornings…

Today hubby and I decided to go to Nara. This was on our places to visit last time but we just never got around to it.

 

I’m so glad we got to see it this time!

What a gorgeous quaint town that has so much history!

I was quite uptight when we got there as the whole way on the train I was fretting we’d caught the wrong one and were either going to have to pay a whole lot more, or even end up at a place no where near Nara.
I worried for nothing but even so, stepping off the train into the tranquil place would have eased anybody’s tensions!

I can’t remember the stops but we did look online and found a vague self guided walking tour that we almost followed. We ended up just going in directions that seemed interesting to us and we did get to see a LOT of things!

 


I do love looking at these religious shrines and temples but, and I hope it’s not insulting to anyone for me to say, they do get to be a bit boring after a while. I’m sure if I knew the history behind each one I’d get into it more but there seems to be so many of them. You could be going to them all day and they all sort of blend into the next one after a while.

Deer park was pretty special!!

This sign was a bit disturbing though so we didn’t feed any, just let them walk freely past us….

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I had actually been reading on someone elses blog, how one had bitten her when she was here because she’d been feeding it, and her food had run out… The deer wasn’t impressed by that and thought he’d check for himself if she had some more and bit her!

I saw them being a bit, not aggressive, but forceful with some people. Still, so very cute. It is Bambi after all!

 


Before going into the “old” area, we watched these men kneading dough. At least, that’s what I assume they’re doing. How cool is this!!!

Now tell me, would you like to be the one hammering, or the person sticking your hand on the dough???

 


Oh I should also show you what we ate for lunch. Hubby’s is on the left. It was an omelet on rice and other things. Honestly we don’t know half the things we’re eating. He had to pick a sauce out of about seven and he went for bechemel. Personally I didn’t think it matched and I thought it had quite a sweet taste.
You not be able to tell but these serves were really big! And they were quite “comforting”. We really enjoyed what we ate.

Mine was a baked omelet and besides the (what I assume was) seaweed on top, I really loved it too. Mine had mushrooms in it. I had to not look at it because some of the mushrooms looked like the wild things that grow wildly in the streets. The ones that your mother always said were poisonous!
They were delicious though!

Ok… and now the “old” area. What I loved about this was there were so many shops/displays/museum type places were you could go in and learn about the old culture for free.

We went into a traditional Japanese house (shoes off please!) and there was a group doing a concert there. I don’t normally enjoy the Japanese voice but this was SO amazing!!! It brought tears to my eyes. It was melodic and soulful. I wish I’d taken a video of that but somehow it almost felt disrespectful.
Here are some pics from inside the house.

 


The bottom left picture is of a staircase (Steep!!!) and NOT a book shelf. I went up one on the other side of the house and it was not so easy coming back down!

We also walked by the lake and enjoyed some treats from the local vendors. This area is so beautiful and we found another woman singing opera in an open area.

 


They love their soft serves here. We got a couple before getting back on the train.
We also bought these “fish” desserts. The shape is a fish but the taste is sweet. There was custard in mine and hubby had chocolate in his.
I’ve seen these moulds about the place. You can buy them and make these desserts at home I guess! I think they’re cute.

 


Sorry for the half eaten icecream… It’s always too late by the time I think to take a photo!!

We walked the streets and malls of Dotonbori once again tonight.. Ah the sights you see!

We cooked some local marbled meats, pork and a beautiful stir fry tonight!!
I could spend hours in the supermarkets here!

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And to finish off, here are a few interesting signs I’ve seen about the place from today

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Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Thirteen

Well today was extra special because it was hubby’s birthday!
I had a special day planned in Kyoto for him.

IMG_4047Last time we were in Japan we really messed up because when we went to Kyoto, we didn’t have any idea what we were going to see. We just hopped on a train and got here and really saw nothing.
Everyone raves about how beautiful Kyoto is so I really wanted to make sure we saw something in the small amount of time we had.
I researched self guided walks in Kyoto and came across a site that had 11 points of interest in the Higashiyama area. Click on the link to read more
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/higashiyama-area-walking-tour-2454.html

So I’ll just name the site we were at and add a couple of photos I took there.

1) Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art

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Just outside this museum there was a market happening.

So many people!!!

And so many really interesting goods and foods on sale.

We couldn’t even get to what we wanted to look at because there were just too many people.

2) Shoren-in

 

3) Chion-in Temple

4) Gion District

We went here during the day – It comes alive at night!!! Very interesting place though.

5) Yasaka Shrine

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6) Kodai-ji Temple


We then walked up hill for quite some time passing glorious shops and women/girls dressed as geisha’s. This was the best part of the walk for me!

7) Kiyomizu-dera Temple

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8) Kawai Kanjiro Memorial Gallery

This looked closed so I only took a photo of the front.

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9) Kyoto National Museum

Saw this sign in front of the museum… and there really has been a LOT of police about these last few days.

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10) Sanjusangen-do

11) Kyoto Tower

And just before we got to the Kyoto Tower, we passed the side of Kyoto we saw last time we were here… and you may understand why our impression was not so good..

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After that we explored Kyoto Station which is quite an interesting building. So much to see!! And there is a peaceful garden on top. This is really really high!! High for a building you don’t expect to be high. You can get to the top mostly by escalators and I think if you have a fear of heights it might unnerve you a bit.

 

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And seeing as I write about food, here are pictures of what we ate today!!

First a “sandwich” at Tully’s. It was a bit disappointing. Three slices of bread with a bit of stuff inside. It was nice and fresh though, I think I just wanted more.

For hubby’s birthday dinner we went to Hard Rock Cafe and got some nacho’s to share a couple of burgers and more Sangria!


While this has been our most pricey meal, it was really good!! And the service was pretty amazing too!!
We had been sitting there a little while and one glass of Sangria had already been drunk. I said to hubby “Honey it’s your birthday, you can have whatever you want!”
“Oh now you tell me” he replied, “We’ve already ordered!”
Whoops

On the way back we had to stop at Hommachi station. I was busy trying to work out the ticket machine and trying to work out how much it was going to cost us to get from Osaka to Hommachi. Hubby was still trying to work out what our route was going to be. He came up to me and said “Hommachi”? I said “180 yen”
I thought he’d said “How much?”
And as he normally does make that kind of joke, I really thought he was being clever but he was genuinely just confirming what station we were getting off at…

And to finish off this entry, have a look at the cute little socks I bought here!
I feel adorable with these on!


Tomorrow, we’ll eat local, I promise!