Interesting facts about Iceland …..

Interesting facts about Iceland …..

I have had a fascination with Iceland for a while now, it all started when I was booking a trip last minute to visit two friends living in London and NYC. When trying to cut corners on flight costs I discovered that flying from one city to the other via Iceland was significantly cheaper than flying direct (a tourism ploy I shall delve into later). A night in Reykjavik (Rake-a-vick) by myself?… At first the prospect scared me a little but the more I researched, the more and more I got excited by this amazing country on the opposite side of the world from home.

As a kid I was always fascinated by the atlas and would enjoy travelling around the world with my imagination whilst watching the reruns of the Brady Bunch. I remember reading “Iceland” and thinking that place sounds completely inhospitable and not much fun…. Boy was I wrong.

My second encounter of learning more about Iceland was when I watched an episode of Oprah when I was home from school sick one day. The whole show was dedicated to women across the globe talking about their culture and bringing their national dish for Oprah to taste. Most of them were run of the mill – the French lady brought snails, the Belgium lady brought chocolate, The Japanese lady brought sushi blah blah blah. As my blocked sinuses and Oprah’s annoyingness started to send me into a cough syrup sedated sleep, my ears pricked up when I heard this striking super model looking lady talk about rotten shark meat… Whaaaat?

As disgusting as it sounded, I was intrigued. She went on to explain the culture which made the others pale in comparison because where else in the world do you know of mothers of new borns leaving their children in their pram outside on the street while they enjoy coffee with their friends? ….Before you pass judgement, this isn’t because these beauty queens are irresponsible, it is because there is almost NO CRIME in this crazy little country.

As my excitement reached fever pitch leading up to my visit, a hurricane came along and ruined everything. Flights into JFK were suspended and I had to try direct a couple of days later. That was about 3.5 years ago and ever since my fasciation, or what some might call obsession, has grown day by day. After a lot of reading and research I discovered this could possible be the best place on earth – gender equality, a creative epicentre, beautiful people, organic food and free wifi everywhere? Sounds like heaven on earth… and it was! I got back from Iceland recently, so before giving you the run down on where to go and what to do, here are some interesting facts:

  • Iceland’s population is small, there are approximately 320,000 in the country, 60% of which live in the capital, Reykjavik
  • Icelanders have one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world
  • Iceland has more artists per capita than anywhere in the world – hence the amazing musical talent!
  • Iceland is has more Miss Worlds titles per capita than anywhere in the world, both the women and men are gorgeous
  • It is said that the Vikings raped pillaged Ireland and Scandinavian countries, stealing the most attractive of the races and taking them to Iceland, which explains the good genes
  • Iceland is one of the happiest nations in the world and has the 2nd highest quality of living
  • 33 years ago in 1980, Iceland elected the world’s first female head of state and their current head of state is a lesbian (Iceland is a good place for women!)
  • Many people in Iceland believe in elves, or what they call ‘The Hidden People’ … surprised they didn’t mistake me for one!
  • The first people to inhabit the island nation were Irish Monks, but it has a long and proud Viking history
  • Iceland is sustainable and self-sufficient – over 70% all energy used in Iceland is produced from own resources – either geothermal energy from hot springs or  hydro-electric from the big waterfalls.
  • Iceland has barely any trees although it used to be covered in them to to deforestation in the 12th century, harsh climate and volcanic ash, trees have difficulty rooting to the ground. To combat this, 4million trees are planted per year
  • The Whale in the Free Willy movie was captured in Icelandic Waters
  • Icelandic last names are derived from fathers names, so instead of being Hannah Lewis, my name would actually be Hannah Petersdaughter, because of this, people usually only are referred to by their first names
  • Iceland is the youngest country in the world, with new mountains and islands forming as we speak, the land is still so ruggered astronauts train their due to its similarity to the moon
  • One of the country’s most unusual attraction is the Icelandic Phallological Museum, which houses the world’s largest display of penises and penile parts but selling any undergarments with the Icelandic flag is forbidden
  • Beer was banned nationwide until 1989.
  • Icelanders love to drive, often people can own up the 3 cars, and there is no railway system
  • The Icelandic government has banned prostitution in 2009, strip clubs in 2010, and is planning to ban online pornography as well
  • The word ‘slut’ isn’t in the Icelandic vernacular because gender quality is prevalent. Sleeping around is standard practise it is not uncommon (or frowned upon) to have several children to different partners
  • Icelandic state has a monopoly on the sale of alcohol.
  • The sale of food items containing more than 2 grams of trans fat for every 100 grams is forbidden
  • If Icelandic parents give their child a name that has not been previously used in Iceland, that name has to be approved by the Icelandic Naming Committee
  • About 11% of the country is covered by glaciers
  • Iceland is the most literate country in the world and has an impressive amount of Noble Peace Prizes
  • Iceland’s national sport is handball, they also love soccer, fishing and golf
  • Fishing is their biggest industry, with tourism slowly taking over. GET THERE!

Have you ever been to Iceland or re you Icelandic yourself? I would love to know your favourite fact about my second favourite country (I am patriotic after all).

Oink Oink,
Truffle Pig.

Best Dumplings in Sydney ….

Best Dumplings in Sydney ….

Dumpling bars seem to be a dime a dozen these days. If Sushi was the food fad of the 2000′s, dumplings have taken over this decade. But you won’t hear me complaining, to me dumplings are the best thing since sliced sushi and I can’t get enough of them. You know what they say, the best things come in small packages (perhaps I would like to believe that being about 5″4 tall).

I have prepared the list below as a work in progress, I don’t plan to leave a dumpling, dim sum or gyoza in Sydney unturned without eating them… so suggestions are more than welcome and if they are better than great, they will be added to the list. But, so far, here are Sydney’s best dumplings (in no particular order)….

1. Lotus Dumpling Bar

My office is located in a great spot, right on the harbour somewhere between the City, Darling Harbour and Circlar Quay. I know i’m spoilt but with this “somewhere in the middle” location means lunch choices are limited and the ones on the limited list are generally underwhelming. UNTIL… Lotus Dumpling opened just down the road in Walsh Bay. These dumplings are amazing, with service and fit out to match. Understated, funky and damn delicious. The xiao long bao steamed soup dumplings are the winner for me – go for the chicken and be warned that there is soup inside…. I learnt that the hard way. Hot tip – take a nibble from the top, slurp the soup and devour the rest.

Lotus Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon

2. Harajuku Gyoza

Gyozas are Dumpling’s japanese cousins. What is the difference?… there isn’t much of one. Dumplings traditionally came in many forms and flavours and back in the day gyozas were traditionally just pork. Nowadays, gyozas come in all different varieties, and the best place to witness this is Harajuku Gyoza. Not only do they specialise in the fun size treats, but the atmosphere is electric. You are always greeted with a belting “MOSHI MOSHI” and if you order sake (which you must), you enjoy an entertaining song and dance with it. The best menu item is definitely the grilled chicken gyoza, and for those with a sweet teeth, they even have nutella and banana dessert gyozas. Food aside, this place is fun the perfect place to enjoy some drinks and food with friends before a night out.
Harajuku Gyoza on Urbanspoon

3. East Ocean

Imagine an ocean full of yum cha… well that image in your mind is very similar to East Ocean itself. Although very unassuming from the front, once you step inside you are ushered by the friendly staff all communicating by very serious looking headsets to your table which will be about 1 of 1000, the venue is seriously huge. The dumplings are plentiful and the menu is lengthy to say the least. But I can highly recommend their Shanghai style dumplings filled with pork or their seafood with snow pea dumplings. East Ocean is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late into the night, so no matter what time of the day you are craving dumplings, you can always rely on East Ocean.
East Ocean Restaurant on Urbanspoon

4. Kam Fook

Kam Fook’s popularity in Chatswood was so positive the friendly people there decided to open up shop in Bondi Junction (hoo-ray!). Kam Fook has fulfilled many a hangovers and cravings I have had over the past year since moving close by. I think there is no better way to start the day than with their traditional chinese broccilli with a table full of dumplings. There is plenty of yum cha options to choose from, but I always order two or more servings of their prawn and chive dumplings, even better when washed down with some tea of Sing Tao (hair of the dog).
Kam Fook Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

5. Wagamama

Before you turn your nose up at this chain restaurant suggestion, hear me out. This western spin on traditional Japanese is an old time favourite of mine, mainly for one reason and that is their duck gyoza. The deep tried bag of gyoza-goodness is filled with succulent duck and spring onions and is accompanied by a sweet batch of hoisin sauce.
Wagamama - The Galeries Victoria on Urbanspoon
Wagamama on Urbanspoon

6. Din Tai Fung

Some might say this renowned dumpling hut is the dump-King of the dumpling scene. This king originated as a humble little street stall on the streets of Taipei and is now a global business with an unrivalled committment to dumpling precision. Aside from their attention to detail, the taste is what brings me back here time and time again. My favourite is the Jiao Ze (steamed pork and prawn). You can enjoy these dumplings in Style at their George Street or Star restaurants or grab the on the go at Westfield Sydney.
Din Tai Fung on Urbanspoon
Din Tai Fung on Urbanspoon

Do you think you know where to get the best dumplings in Sydney? Well send your suggestions my way… always happy to do this type of market research… the things you gotta do!

Oink oink,

Truffle Pig.

Review: My Favourite Products ….

Big Mouth Funnel

As you probably already know, my blog is all about food and travel, and with that comes the use of many products and services, here are just a few that I am in love with at the moment.

Travel Booking – Momondo

People often ask me where to get the best flight deals as travel websites are a dime a dozen, but my favourite is the aggregator site www.momondo.com.au . Not only does it find the best deals from across the web and all over sights, it lets you select multiple destination trips, when you want to arrive by (or depart by), minimum and maximum flight times and many other cool features. It isn’t just about finding the cheapest price (although that is helpful), it finds whatever flights suit you and doesn’t bug you with accommodation and rental care deals in the process.

Big Mouth Funnels

No longer do funnels have to take up prime real estate in the utensil draw! These flatpack, slim pieces of plastic (two size variations) click together to create an easy to clean funnel that is dishwasher friendly and easy to you. You can see them in action in the photo above, no surprise they won the Sydney design awards. You can purchase yours here.

MenuLog

It is obvious I love to eat out and love to cook, but sometimes I love nothing more than a good ol’ fashion takeaway on the couch. The days of endless google searches to find a delicious dish to be delivered to your door are over! MenuLog can tell you what places deliver to you local area, and you order online from the plethora of menus on their database. You can either pay online or pay cash on delivery, tempting right? Order your next meal here: www.menulog.com.au

 

If you have any product that you think I would love, or you want me to try out – let me know!

Oink oink,

Truffle Pig.

Mini Frittata Recipe …..

Mini frittata recipe

Frittatas are a saviour and the perfect meal any time of the day, and not only that, they are healthy and really cheap to make. Considering I just got back from a very indulgent holiday (more on that to come), these will be a staple for me over the next few weeks.

The ingredients are the ones used in the photographed frittata, but you can substitute the vegetables and cheese for anything you have in the fridge (making them a super convenient meal too!), or you can add meats like ham, bacon or prosciutto.

This recipe will make approximately 5-6 mini frittatas.

What you need:

  • 6 eggs
  • A dash of milk
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • 6 asparagus stalks, chopped into small pieces
  • Handful chopped of kale, blanched in hot water and drained
  • 4 spring onion stalks, chopped into small pieces
  • 4 small cubes of feta, crumbled
  • 1 tomato chopped finely

What you need to do:

  • Preheat the oven on 150 degrees
  • While the oven preheats, whisk the eggs and milk together
  • Add all over ingredients
  • Pour the mixture into a muffin tray, only fill half way as the frittatas will rise
  • Leave for 30 mins, or until the frittatas are golden brown.

Once they are cooked, serve them with any salad of your choice or eat them all by themselves.

Oink oink,

Truffle Pig.

Cheap Eats Bondi – Meals under $10 ….

Cheap Eats Bondi – Meals under $10 ….

Nachos – Amigo Jims
Who doesn’t love nachos? They make eating corn chips acceptable at lunch and dinner, and for that, I am eternally grateful to them. I often indulge in my favourite nachos from this Bondi Road hole in the wall. Homemade corn tortilla chips topped with a slow cooked shredded beef stew, cheese and sour cream. Don’t let the $9.50 fool you, this meal is HUGE!
Amigo Jim's on Urbanspoon

Amigo Jim’s - 200 Bondi Rd  Bondi NSW 2026

Hand rolls – Myoko Sushi Bar
Tucked away in the quiet end of Gould street, Myoko is home to some to the freshest, tastiest sushi in the Eastern suburbs. The hand rolls are huge and you even have the option of having them made to order with brown or white rice. You can get prawn tempura, perfectly battered with avo, fresh or cooked tuna and teriyaki chicken. You can get two rolls for $10, and if you’re feeling adventurous I recommend forking out the extra $2 for a miso soup too.
Myoko – 72 Gould Street, Bondi Beach 2026
Myoko Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

Chicken Pad Thai – Bangkok Bites
Hungry at lunch and pinching the pennies has never tasted better. Bangkok bites has various lunch time specials including a generous helping of chicken or beef pad thai for only $9.90. The noodles are thick, the chicken tender and the sauce a perfect blend of sweet and spice. Grab a seat outside and enjoy the sunshine, people watching but don’t expect a bucket of Redbull and vodka… unless you go to White Revolver.
Bangkok Bites – 95 Hall St Bondi Beach NSW 2026
Bangkok Bites on Urbanspoon

Mixed Plate – Sabbaba
The beach might be hot, but the Middle East is even hotter. You can combine both by grabbing a mixed plate from Sababa with falafel, tabuli, grilled meats, salads and dips for under $10. The ingredients are fresh, healthy and most importantly, dirt cheap. This place is so popular there are franchises everywhere, so if you’re skint around town, check out there other locations.
Sabbaba Bondi Beach – 82 Hall St Bondi Beach NSW 2026 Sydney,
Sabbaba on Urbanspoon

Jaffles – Neighbourhood
The new kid on the block in the Bondi neighbourhood is, Neighbourhood. The team here are as trendy as they come and are making the good old fashioned jaffle sexy again, god bless them. You won’t find baked beans and spaghetti here though; combinations include pulled pork with BBQ sauce and baked beans and my favourite the Philly cheese steak. A party in your mouth for only $10… Winning!
Neighbourhood - 143 Curlewis Street Bondi Beach, NSW
Neighbourhood on Urbanspoon

Bircher muesli – Bru Coffee
Broke but fanging for a tasty breakfast? Never fear, Bru is here. This hole in the wall is a local favourite and constantly has Bondi’s beautiful people. The food is beautiful too, thankfully. For only $10 you can reward yourself with a regular coffee and bowl of nutty bircher muesli which is arguable the best you can get anywhere!
bRu Coffee – 4/101 Brighton Blvd, Sydney NSW 2026
bRu Coffee on Urbanspoon

Rice Paper Rolls – Miss Chu’s
The self-proclaimed queen of rice paper rolls set up shop in Bondi over a year ago and has taken the beach by storm. Her rice paper rolls are the taking the beach by storm with gourmet combinations including prawn with green mango, roast duck and banana flower and vegetarian with avocado, omelette and caramelised onion. All that goodness for only $7.50… you’re pretty much making money.
Miss Chu Bondi Tuckshop – 178 Campbell Parade Bondi Beach NSW 2026
Miss Chu on Urbanspoon

Panino from La Macelleria
This butcher slash heaven on earth is a food snob and meat lovers dream, with prices to show for it. But never fear, lashings of organic prochitto is in reach for the tightest of wallets. Here you can choose from 11 different paninos which only cost $9.00. Some menu favourites include the warm beef brisket, the herbed chicken with mayo and chilli and the roast pork with fruit mustard. If stoned baked buns aren’t your thing (freak!) then try the quarter roast chicken with roasted veggies – only $10.
La Macelleria - Shop 14, The Beach House, 178 Campbell Parade
La Macelleria on Urbanspoon

Pizza from Gourmet Slice
Pizza is a friend and a faux to me, I love the crispy cheese deliciousness of this Italian staple but find it hard to stop after a couple of slices (I have empty plate syndrome). But thanks to the genius behind gourmet slice I have enjoy a huge slice of pizza for a fraction of the prize and with the guilt of eating a large pizza all to myself. All slices are under $10 and favourites include pepperoni, garlic mushroom and spicy lamb.
Gourmet Slice - 87a Gould St Bondi Beach Bondi Beach, NSW 2026
Gourmet Slice on Urbanspoon

Lock’n’Load from Lox, Stock & Barrel
Lox Stock & Barrel brings a little bit of Manhattan to Bondi’s sunny shores. The menu is filled with NYC classics like bagels, pastrami sandwiches, smoked wagyu brisket and rueben sandwiches. If you’re feeling skint, you can enjoy your choice of bread (sourdough rye, challah, panini or GF) or bagel (plain, sesame, poppy, seeds & spices, onion) and a delicious potato hash with lashings of smoked salmon with a lime and creme fraiche
dill dressing. Perfect way to start the day, and only 10 big ones.
Lox, Stock & Barrel – 140 Glenayr Ave, Bondi 2026
Lox, Stock & Barrel on Urbanspoon

Pork Po Boy from Panama House
It may not look like much, but this po boy will have you returning to Panama time and time again, I promise you. It is a super soft and sweet sesame seed bun filled with lashings of tender, juicy pulled pork teamed with shredded lettuce, tomato salsa and a tangy chipotle mayo. But wait… there’s more… every table at Panama has 4 homemade salsas to choose from ranging from sweet pineapple to blow-your-socks-off habanero, and it will only set you back $9.50.

Panama House – 251 Bondi Rd, Bondi 2026 – Full review here.

Panama House on Urbanspoon

Oink oink,

Truffle Pig.