Lunch @ Huong Xua in Canley Heights, NSW

We found an absolute gem in Canley Heights during our recent road trip to Sydney! It's no secret that Darrell is obsessed with Vietnamese food... Who can blame him? Fresh, healthy, with beautifully complimenting flavors... when planning our foodie itinerary I knew I was under pressure to deliver an incredibly delicious Vietnamese meal. 

I'm happy to report that I not only met his expectations...but surpassed them by finding one of THE BEST Vietnamese restaurants we've ever had the pleasure of eating it. As much as it would please me to keep this place a would be utterly pointless...people would find out.... That's just how sensational Huong Xua in Canley Heights is. Huong Xua specializes in Northern Vietnamese food, which sets it apart from many restaurants in the area. 

Upon arriving we were quickly greeted & shown to a table by the very hospitable owner, James. One thing we admired most about James is how hands on he was with Huong Xua. He worked the floor with the rest of the staff- cleaning tables, sweeping, serving food.  We could tell straight away that he was very passionate about his new restaurant. James has grown up in a family heavily involved in the food industry so its not hard to understand why. 

The passion for food is in his blood, and he personally makes sure each guest is taken care of. Does the name Huong Xua sound familiar? That may be because James's father owns a restaurant by the same name in Cabramatta! James is doing an excellent job of carrying on his family's legacy at the new Canley Heights restaurant. 

We are firm believers that the staff (or the owner in this case) knows best! So we left our meals in James's capable hands. 

After receiving some yummy jackfruit and apple custard smoothies our entrees arrived. 

For our entrees we enjoyed a seafood salad & rice paper wrapped spring rolls

We don't normally choose salads for our entree...or well let's be honest any part of the meal! But after one bite of the incredibly fresh, crunchy seafood salad chock full of juicy prawns & calamari...we might have to order salads more often. The savory, and super crunchy spring rolls were balanced out nicely with the salad. Now, spring rolls are definitely something we would have ordered. We love spring rolls! We can honestly say these are the best ones we have ever eaten. We're still dreaming about these spring rolls now. They were wrapped in rice paper and deep fried- which made for a beautifully crunchy roll. Heaven. We can't get enough of those spring rolls!!! 

For our mains we had crispy chicken w/ tomato rice, and fried rice with a side of pork

Once again James did not let us down with these choices. So good! The perfectly cooked chicken mingled beautifully with the delicious flavor packed tomato rice. Superb choice. The fried rice was exceptional. Fried rice is definitely a favorite of both of ours so we were very happy when James brought out a plate! We split the egg, mixed in the pork and dug in. The rice was mouthwatering with the juicy pieces of pork- amazing flavor. If you are a fan of fried rice then this is definitely the place for you! As our lunch came to close we enjoyed a very refreshing lime juice and herbal drink that is said to be great for acne, etc. 

The staff at Houng Xua are very helpful, and made sure we had everything we needed. The meals were very sizable. We couldn't finish it all- great value for money. Our lunch at Huong Xua was a truly great experience. 

Are you in search of a great Northern Vietnamese restaurant offering a warm, friendly environment with great people & amazing food? Check out Huong Xua next time you are in the Canley Heights area. It comes highly recommended! 

*AmeriAus was a guest of Huong Xua. All opinions expressed are our own. 

Flavours On Crown in Wollongong

Darrell had made the journey to Wollongong a few times for work and he was in love with the place! Every time he would come home he would rave about how stunning it was down there. My jealousy hit it's peak when he showed me photos from the Grand Pacific Drive. It's breathtaking. A must see for anyone making the journey down under.

I had to check this place out! So you can imagine how pleased I was when I found out we would be staying at a hotel not far from the Gong during our New Year's road trip.

I got straight into planning our day in Wollongong. My first priority? Finding a nice place to eat of course! That's when I first became hooked on Flavours on Crown. From the photos online it looked as though it was bursting with character...not to mention the lovely decor. I decided it was the perfect place to grab a bite.

Flavours on Crown specializes in South-Eastern European (Macedonian, Italian, & Greek) cuisine. All you need to do is walk through the door to figure that out! The place is decked out in European inspired decor. It creates a very enjoyable ambiance. The kind of place you could just lounge in for hours, enjoying a couple drinks with friends.

The owners are so friendly, passionate & down to earth. They make you feel right at home! They have a nice variety of lunch options & the prices are affordable. Especially, after you see the size of the meals at Flavour's on Crown.

After getting a few recommendations from our waitress we decided on the Mezze Platter. The Mezze comes with your choice of 5 appetizers. I choose: haloumi, tzatiziki dip, marinated baby octopus, greek feta cheese. I also got a little spicy greek feta dip to try. All this comes with a generous serving of pita bread.

This was so, so good! The haloumi was warm and grilled to perfection. The homemade tzatiziki dip was fresh and bursting with that beautiful cucumber flavour. The octopus was tender and marinated in a deliciously spicy sauce. The spicy greek feta dip was mouthwatering!

We also got the Salt and Pepper squid accompanied by lemon, salad, aioli, and chips

The squid was very tender and the pieces were rather large! The chips were so good I found myself stealing a large amount off of Darrell's plate...  I think it would have taken close to 4 people to finish our two meals. This is the one time where a meal has actually been so large I couldn't eat it all. Believe me, I gave it my all but I couldn't do it!

One thing that makes Flavours on Crown special (a part from the sensational food !) is that it has a sizeable upstairs area that is perfect for large groups.

 The upstairs is equipped with its own bar as well as a beautifully styled balcony.  There really is no maximum amount of people required to book the space, as I said the owners are very friendly & down to earth. Just have a chat to them about what you have in mind and they are more than willing to help in any way they can.

We had a fantastic lunch at Flavours on Crown. Thank you to the owners and staff for a yummy meal. Oh, and thanks for pointing us in the direction of the Grand Pacific Drive after! ;)

Flavours on Crown Facebook Page

Phone number: (02) 4226 2727

Flavours on Crown on Urbanspoon
*AmeriAus was a guest of Flavours on Crown. All opinions expressed are our own.

Wholly Cow Cafe in Sawtell, NSW

If you have been following along with our journeys, you know that a few days after Christmas we loaded up our Holden Cruze & set out on a road trip from Brisbane to Sydney (11 hour + drive!).  Whilst planning our trip we made certain that we would be in the Coffs Harbour area around lunch time. Why?  Well, we heard rumour that we could eat some of the tastiest and freshest hamburgers the region has to offer just 20 minutes outside of Coffs Harbour.  After doing our own research, it became a ‘must eat at place’ on our trip and we were not disappointed!

You know, a nice burger is really hard to come by...What makes a great burger you ask?

- incredibly fresh ingredients (the lettuce should make that beautiful crunch noise when you bite into it!)

- homemade, juicy meat patties

- and finally it needs to be so big you need both hands to hold it!

If you are in search of the perfect burger then Wholly Cow Cafe is the place for you.

At Wholly Cow Cafe in Sawtell NOTHING is served out of a can! They make EVERYTHING on site. They hand make their meat  & vegetarian patties..their sauces, relishes, pastes and mayonnaise are all homemade as well. They even use fresh pineapple and prepare their own beetroot! The burgers are huge...With the outstanding quality & size of the burgers you get MORE than your moneys worth at Wholly Cow Cafe.

Don’t you just love when the burger is bigger than your mouth?

After looking over the menu filled with fresh salads, wraps, sandwiches, prime beef & gourmet burgers as well as ALL DAY breakfast options we decided on “The Lot”  & the “Avo” burgers.

"The Lot" consists of a juicy prime beef pattie, cheese, bacon, free range egg, tomato, onion, beetroot, mayo & tomato relish.

You won’t be disappointed with this one. The Lot has everything you could possibly want in a burger. Savoury & sweet! It's massive and jam packed with goodies. I was so full halfway through this burger but it was so good I couldn’t put it down. Can you blame me? Look at it!

The "Avo" burger consisted of a thick prime beef pattie, cheese, bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo & tomato relish.

It was heavenly. I love avocado and it complimented this burger so well.

It only takes one bite to realize just how fresh the food at Wholly Cow is. The food has the kind of flavor you can only get from something that was just whipped up that morning! Healthy and cheeseburger are two words that don’t typically go together...but they go hand in hand at Wholly Cow Cafe in Sawtell, NSW. If meat isn’t your thing don’t worry Wholly Cow also offers vegetarian options! Gluten free? Don’t fret, Wholly Cow has many Gluten Free options on the menu as well. Wholly Cow is a supporter of Suspended Coffee- Australia. Here’s an excerpt from their website explaining how it works:

“Belinda goes into her local cafe to get lunch. She buys herself a sandwich and a coffee. At the same time, she pays for an extra coffee, asking for it to be suspended.

Frank is a man who has lost his job, is facing being homeless and is looking for work. He has spent his last money on his bus ticket for the day.

Frank sees the sign that the cafe has out the front, saying they are taking part in suspended coffee.... those in need can get a free coffee.

Frank goes into the cafe, asks if there are any suspended coffees available and within 5 minutes he has a warm drink in his hands, thanks to the kindness of Belinda and the cafe.”

Isn’t that a cool way to give back! Darrell gives the coffee his seal of approval. It was the perfect pick-me-up after the long drive from Brisbane. The owners & staff at Wholly Cow were friendly & attentive. They took great care of us and we had a wonderful lunch. Wholly Cow Cafe is only minutes away from the beautiful Sawtell beach.

Next time you're in Sawtell give Wholly Cow Cafe a visit!

Wholly Cow Cafe website 

Wholly Cow Cafe Facebook Page
Wholly Cow Cafe Twitter

Wholly Cow Cafe on Urbanspoon
*AmeriAus was a guest of Wholly Cow Cafe. All opinions expressed are our own. 

The Sebel Resort & Spa Hawkesbury Valley

When planning our New Year's trip to Sydney we searched long & hard for the perfect accommodation.  I'm sure we are not alone in saying that accommodation can either make or break a holiday, especially if it's non-refundable!

Having to suffer through poor service can really harsh those relaxing vacation vibes....

So, we didn't take choosing a place to stay lightly. After scouring the internet in search of the absolute best deal we came across The Sebel Resort & Spa in Hawkesbury Valley. Online it appeared to be everything we wanted, and the incredible rate made it even more appealing. So how was it you ask?

We are happy to report The Sebel Resort & Spa in Hawkesbury Valley is officially our home away from home. Yes, that's how fantastic our recent stay with The Sebel was! We experienced something at The Sebel that we very rarely experience during our travels. It only took a few hours upon arriving for us to genuinely feel at home. Isn't that exactly how you want to feel when on vacation? Definitely.

Most days we woke finding it difficult to convince ourselves to leave the grounds & explore Sydney.... who could blame us? The Sebel has everything you need!

Seriously, they have an award winning Day Spa, the largest in Western Sydney. The also have the Gazebo Restaurant which offers a very appetizing hot & cold breakfast buffet each morning. Looking for a cosy dinner spot offering exceptional food to take loved ones? Then check out The Sebel's Harvest Restaurant (you can find our review of Harvest... here)

In search of a night cap after a long day of exploring? Head over to The Sebel's Barracks Bar! They even offer light lunches.

The staff is very friendly & helpful. We couldn't have asked for better service. This was incredible given they had a major New Year's celebration going on at the time. We expected to be ignored, but The Sebel took great care of us.

New Years @ The Sebel Resort & Spa Hawkesbury Valley 

It is extremely convinient to have a New Year's celebration at your doorstep. If you are staying during this time I would recommend trying to get a room a bit farther back from the front (past the Gazebo Restaurant) This is the area we stayed at and when we would retreat to our room on the night we couldn't hear a thing. If you are the kind of person who wants to have a couple drinks, and doesn't want to suffer through the jam packed public transport & insane traffic on New Year's Eve in Sydney then this is the ticket for you.

No need to have a D.D. when all you have to do is open your door to find the party! It was a very memorable, and romantic night. We danced, we drank, and got to know some of the other guests at The Sebel. If you want to escape the crowd... I recommend heading over to the pool or the playground for privacy. If you look up you can still see the beautiful firework show!

A special thanks to the team at The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa for a great time! You'll be seeing us again!

The Harvest Restaurant @ The Sebel Resort & Spa Hawkesbury Valley

One of the things that sold us on The Sebel Resort & Spa in Hawkesbury Valley was their fine dining restaurant, The Harvest. The food sounded terrific and we thought it would be nice to have a romantic dinner one night after a long day of exploring Sydney. 

Upon walking past reception & into The Harvest we were instantly greeted by a very gracious host and shown to our table by the window. I would describe the Harvest as a very intimate and cosy restaurant. The kind of place you would treat someone special to..

As the website suggests...The Harvest Restaurant truly is one of the Hawkesbury's best kept dining secrets! With a beautiful French provincial styled lobby, marble fireplaces, stunning floral arrangements, and plush flooring...

We anticipated a mouthwatering meal. The summer menu offered a variety of appetizing dishes. One rule of thumb we always follow when stuck on what to choose is "Ask the staff". They'll typically ask you what type of food you feel like, and are wise enough to suggest the best options for you. 

So after a brief discussion with a very helpful waitress we choose the garlic ciabatta bread, and the pan seared scallops w/ puffed rice, pine nuts, maple syrup soaked raisins, horseradish aioli, and lemon myrtle foam. 

The bread was beautiful, crunchy, buttery, with a fresh garlic flavor. The scallops are to die for! One of the most delicious scallop entrees we have ever had. It was sweet, creamy, and savory all at once. The scallops were plump, and juicy. The sweet maple syrup soaked raisins, creamy horseradish aioli, and crunchy pine nuts created an interesting and very pleasing combination. The presentation was simple & elegant. Bravo! I only wished I could have had more. 

It didn't take Darrell very long at all to decide that the 12 hour confit of Berkshire pork belly  was for him! It was accompanied by scampi tail, iberico, salted grapes, pear, pickled beetroot, and parsnip puree. After talking to the waitress and looking around the room it was obvious that this was a very popular dish at The Harvest.

It was sensational! We love our pork belly and this was beautifully cooked. The presentation was very interesting. The pork belly was juicy & thick with an intense smoky flavor. The crackling was golden, crunchy and seasoned to perfection. 

I chose Boston Bay mussels cooked in Bilpin cider, pancetta, white wine cream accompanied by a bowl of beer battered onion rings.

I had never had mussels with beer battered onion rings but the combo wasn't too bad. It was such a large serving of onion rings too, which made it perfect for sharing with the table. You would definitely need to share the onion rings if you ordered the mussels because the serving of mussels you get on their own is pretty massive! The mussels were some of the plumpiest and juiciest I have ever eaten. The waitress was kind enough to bring me a bowl to discard the empty shells in and some aioli dipping sauce for the onion rings. I ended up needing two bowls to discard the large amount of empty shells! You get your money's worth with this dish.  They were very good in the white wine cream sauce. I found myself more than full halfway through the dish but unable to stop eating! 

We enjoyed a truly exceptional meal whilst overlooking the lake at The Harvest Restaurant. The service was very courteous & attentive. If you are in the Hawkesbury area and looking for a special spot to take a loved one then we highly recommend The Harvest Restaurant at The Sebel Resort & Spa Hawkesbury Valley. The Harvest can also cater to a private party of up to 80 people!

Check out the 2014 Harvest summer menu for yourself, here. 

For enquiries contact (02) 4577 1277 or via email at 

Harvest Restaurant at Sebel Resort & Spa on Urbanspoon
*AmeriAus was a guest of The Sebel Resort & Spa Hawkesbury Valley 

#HealthyStart Resolution: First Post of 2014!

This is our first post of the New Year! We had an amazing time in New South Wales and met so many passionate foodies. I think it was probably one of our most memorable New Years. It was so good we are thinking of making it an annual trip.

 There is really nothing like New Years in Sydney :) !

As you know this is the time of year where people make their resolutions. We have one too... that (fingers crossed) we will be able to abide by.

We have decided to eat ALOT healthier this year. We are going to cut back on the cheese...greasy bacon...and other fatty snacks (aka all of our favorite things...) and opt for a healthier diet.

We admit we have OVER indulged, eating whatever we want with reckless abandon. Now we are determined to change that.

So here are a few of the "rules" we will follow:

- We will work to incorporate leafy greens or other veggies in every meal we make. 

- We will use little to no oil in our meals 

- We will swap our evening movie snacks (ie potato chips, chocolate, etc..) for healthy shakes. 

- We will strive to choose the healthiest menu options when eating out 

I think if we can follow these simple guidelines & make smart choices we will be in a better position health wise by the time 2015 rolls around ! Your motivation is greatly needed & appreciated ;)

What resolutions have you made this year? Any food related ones? A foodie friend of mine told me her resolution was to have a "no meat" day at least once a week! How are you going to make 2014 your best year yet?

We'd love to hear your resolutions in the comment section.