El Bulli Spanish Tapas

Earlier this week my family and I celebrated my graduation from Uni at Randwick’s El Bulli Spanish Tapas! I was really excited as I’ve wanted to dine here for ages but, because of its location (which is a bit far from where I live) its often been forgotten! Luckily though, mum suggested it and I am so glad that she did!


When we arrived we walked into a dimly lit room, furnished with wooden style benches and a quaint little bar. It was warm and cosy (totally the opposite of the weather outside!) and the staff were very friendly and welcoming. The seated us at a window table, sort of like a nook, where one side of the seating was a long bench filled with comfortable cushions and furnishings. Right from the outset, the restaurant smelt fantastic so I couldn’t wait to start eating! My family and I have been to a couple of Spanish Tapas style restaurants, so our rule is always to try to order a couple of different dishes each time that we go and with the menu presented to us we were spoilt for choice. Personally, I love Spanish tapas style food, in fact I would love to cook it one night for my family, although I’m not quite sure about the logistics of it for five people, but still, that would be a great night! So as a result we’ve only ever really eaten Tapas at a restaurant, which is a shame because it can be quite expensive. I will say that while the meals at El Bulli weren’t cheap, the food was fantastic!

We started off with some Sangria (of course!) and then ordered a selection of tapas dishes to share. Our first dish to arrive was the Pinchitos de Pollo ($16.50) which are essentially chicken skewers. These were beautiful though, moist perfectly cooked chicken skewered and marinated in chimichurri (a herby, green marinade common in Spanish cooking) before being grilled and drizzled with lemon and a light mayonnaise. Perfect little portions of tasty-ness!


Following this, the Patatas Bravas ($12.50) arrived, with soft, pillowy potato quarters fried to give them a crispy outside, before being cooked in a rich and spicy tomato sauce. Yum Yum! We also shared the Empanadillas ($17.50)  (a personal favourite of mine) which are a deep fried puff pastry filled with mince, herbs and egg! Seriously crispy pastry filled with the most beautifully seasoned and flavoured mince, I could have eaten these all day!

One of the evenings specials was the Zucchini Flowers which were stuffed with a ricotta filling before being lightly battered and deep fried! I love zucchini flowers, and my boyfriend (whose never tried them before) devoured these ones! So crispy on the outside and stuffed to the brim with rich, creamy ricotta. The flowers were plump and fresh and had so much beautiful flavour to them!


Now if that wasn’t enough, we then ordered a seafood Paella ($29.50) for one to share, which was divine! Perfectly cooked rice with a rich tomato and saffron flavour topped with flavoursome choritzo, chicken and fresh seafood including huge King Prawns, Octopus, Mussels and Clams! It never ceases to amaze me with just how much flavour some people can pack into such a little rice dish! Seriously good and highly highly recommended!


The highlight dish for me though was one that I had almost told mum not to bother with; Zarzuela ($33.50) a dish I don’t think I’ve ever seen at a Spanish restaurant before, but have heard of in cooking shows. Essentially, it is a seafood soup or broth but wow, I really don’t think I have ever tasted something so unbelievably flavoursome before. There were so many layers of flavours, salty, sweet, spicy and of course seafoody. It was all perfectly balanced and a perfect dish for such cold cold weather. I would highly highly recommend this dish, plus it was huge!! Even my dad loved this one, and he hates spicy food! The broth itself also had a light tomato flavour and just the right amount of spice to hit the back of your throat, but not overpower the soft flavours of the seafood. Now thats a dish I would love to learn how to make.


We had hoped to order dessert (Churros) but at almost $17 per serve we decided to go to the Italian restaurant around the corner instead, which was a shame as churros would have been delish! Overall, we had a wonderful evening and the food was fantastic! It’s a shame they don’t have a set menu so that you could try more options (for a slightly cheaper price) but hey I’m not complaining, the food was phenomenal! If your ever in Randwick (or Surry Hills as theres another one there) then make sure you stop by!! You won’t regret it! Yum!!

Check out their website here….


Barbie Birthday Cake

ImageTonight I ventured into unchartered baking waters….children’s birthday cakes! Yep you read correctly, I haven’t baked a children’s themed birthday cake before but don’t hold that against me. This cake was for my boyfriend’s niece who turns 6 this weekend and has a new-found obsession with Ballerinas. A few weeks ago, when she started planning her own party, she requested that I make her a pink Ballerina Cake. After my initial shock at being asked to make someone a cake (I honestly couldn’t believe someone would want me to make them a cake, for a real birthday party) and agreeing to do it I was then left with the dilemma of actually achieving my request. After a little thought and a few of the good old google searches I finally settled on the traditional Dolly Varden style cake. For those of you that aren’t too sure what that is, think back to your early childhoods when it was all the rage to stick your Barbie doll into an upside down pudding shaped sponge cake, covered in lollies and you’ve got it!

So one dilemma down, I was then faced with the issue of locating a baking tin the right size and shape for what I needed. Simple right? Sadly not so. Whilst I was able to locate a few stores that sold the tin, all were out of stock. Meanwhile Ebay wanted almost $50 for the tin, which for me (baking a cake as a one off) was far far too much. Luckily though, I discovered that you can hire cake tins from cake supply stores! What a fantastic idea! And luckily I located a Cake supply store not too far from my house from which I was able to hire the tin for the night for a measly $4!! Now theres a bargain if I ever did see one.Image


To bake the cake, I cheated and used two Greens Vanilla Cake mixes (frosting included and totally ok to do so), oiling the tin well to ensure that it didn’t stick (that would have been a very unneeded problem that I was going to avoid at ALL costs!) While the box recommended cooking the cake for 45mins at 180 degrees C I ended up cooking for around 1.5 hours at quite a low temperature. This was largely because the cake cooked very quickly on the top surface, whilst the inside was completely raw. To counter that I simply turned down the temperature and let it go, low and slow! Overall though I would recommend allowing plenty of time for this stage as it can be quite unpredictable because of the shape and large size of the cake. Once cooled, I turned it out onto a cake board and cut a small hole in the top for Barbie to sit (I had to remove her legs so probably best to buy a cheap Barbie, mine cost $2 from the Reject Shop). With the help of my trusty assistant (my sister, who I bribed with lollies!) I then covered the sponge in pink butter cream frosting, being careful not to dirty the poor legless Barbie on top. We then decorated it using pink musk sticks and pink and white marshmallows and voila! A princess Barbie Cake!!

To be honest I think I am more excited then the birthday girl will be tomorrow when she sees it, largely because I doubted the success of this one just a little when I couldn’t get the sponge to cook but I really do hope she likes it! For any parents out there looking for a little girls birthday cake, I would say this one is a sure 


winner! You can theme it in any way you like (I’ve even seen a witch doll cake) and can cover it in lollies (what more does a kid want then that). Its a very simple cake to make and doesn’t require much skill in terms of difficulty. My only advice would be to search for a tin nice and early, get yourself an assistant (possibly the birthday girl) and allow plenty of time for baking. Then sit back and enjoy the ooo’s and ahhh’s!

Happy Baking!!