Pimp My Plate #37 – HUGO’s, Manly, NSW

view

No need to pimp my panorama

What’s better than eating lunch while enjoying a harbour view? Not much that I can think of.

Originally I’d planned a Sunday lunch to review a restaurant at Barangaroo, but weather predictions warned of unruly coastal winds and possible showers. The restaurant wasn’t open for lunch on Saturday so we switched – different day, different location.

Australia truly is just one long beach wrapped around an incredible island – we’re spoilt and we know it.

I enjoy this thought bubble as I sit in Hugo’s restaurant on Manly Wharf sipping a glass of bubbly! The weather bureau is right, and Saturday greets us with a wide blue sky and sunshine above us. Behind us, the COLLAROY ferry arriving from Circular Quay cuts through the waves and parks at the end of the wharf. Locals and day trippers alight and stride past us in a colourful blur.

ferry

Hugo’s opened in 2009 with a commitment to serving fresh, contemporary Italian cuisine. Today it’s crowded and buzzing with diners and everyone wants to sit indoors away from the 31°C heat.

It’s windy – enough for me to request a rubber band, or anything I could use to tie back my long hair. Otherwise I’ll eat my hair with every bite of food. Promptly returning with a rubber band earned them a $10 tip from me just for that.

My hair tied back securely, I could finally relax, and see the sea view in front of me.

I marvelled at how the groups of people seated at outdoor tables were surviving the very hot sun. At first I guessed they were a tour group, all wearing matching white baseball caps, until I realized they were wearing the same caps as Hugo’s staff. A smart, and thoughtful idea to hand out caps as guests waited for indoor tables to become available.

I also spied pump bottles of sunscreen on each table – another thoughtful idea.

As we clinked glasses, my friend and I toasted what a gorgeous Saturday it was, and how fabulous it was to be sitting anywhere along the coastline of Australia on a summer’s day. On the beach below us people played beach cricket, or swam, while further out sailboats bobbed lazily on the waves.

We shared six oysters natural as a starter, ignoring the shallot and vinaigrette dipping sauce because these were some of the freshest, plumpest, creamiest oysters I’ve eaten and sauce would have been a crime.

Glancing further down the menu, my friend ordered Crispy Skin Barramundi ($39)served with a sweet potato + ginger mash, coconut, chilli + lime sauce. I was tempted to order seafood too, but reminded myself I’m trying to eat mostly vegetarian throughout January.

zbarra

The pizza at the next table looked great – a super thin, crisp crust, crowned with a topping of juicy scallops and just a sprinkling of cheese – so I ordered the Fig Pizza ($29), topped with pancetta, gorgonzola, Roma tomato, basil, and rocket.

fig-pizza

Most pizzas can also be made gluten free if required. We added a side of greens: broccolini, sugar snaps, chives, with ricotta + lemon.

My friend rated his Barramundi 9/10, while I wanted to applaud the perfect contrast and quantity of flavours on my pizza: the salty bite of gorgonzola with sweet, ripe, juicy figs. No time to talk …. Eat!

Because I can’t bring myself to pay $22 for just one glass of wine I opted for a SUMMER THYME cocktail ($19) – a blend of Tanqueray Gin + Liquor 43, with Fresh Pineapple Juice, Honey, Lime + Fresh Thyme.

pineapple-cocktail
And what a perfectly summery and elegant blend of flavours, without any of the cloying sweetness in most drinks that include pineapple anything. Summer in a glass!

The FOXY LADY ($14) also caught my eye, a mocktail blend of Seedlip Spice 94, Apple, Elderflower, and Lemon + Egg White. One to try next time.

In both service and food service, the vibe at Hugo’s is the dream mix of relaxed and professional.

The weather might have been a hot mess, but from our table the view, the vibe, and the great food blew away stress like a welcome sea breeze.

RATED: Beautiful food  FOOD: 4.5/5
VALUE: 4/5   VENUE ATMOS: Holiday mode
VIBE:  Life’s A Beach
HUGO’s – Shop 1, Manly Wharf, East Esplanade, Manly NSW
7 days.
12:00pm-late – Mon to Fri
11:30am-late – Weekends

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Lime is the new white wine!

instaparrot

Well, sort of.

Limeade is a refreshing summer drink that you can enjoy instead of, or between glasses of wine or beer.

And who doesn’t want a refreshing, healthy, low sugar, icy cold non-alcoholic drink full of Vitamin C that you can DIY at home?

It’s tangy citrus flavour makes it the perfect drink to serve with Mexican food.

Limes are always readily available, but are the most plentiful and full of flavour from late December to April in Australia.

Limeade makes a refreshing morning wake-up drink or, in this season of merriment and overindulgence, a hangover reviver.

I love the tang of fresh lime, so I like to drink it straight, but you can top up your glass with soda water. And if you have a sweet tooth, you can also add a little extra sugar.

Garnish with fresh mint leaves, raspberries, and slices of lime.

Limeade recipe

Makes 4 cups

1 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice, from about 10 limes
2 cups filtered water
A pinch of salt (I used pink Murry River salt flakes)

Sugar Syrup

½ cup sugar
1 cup filtered water

Make the sugar syrup first, by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then remove from heat and let the syrup cool.

While the sugar syrup is cooling off, squeeze the limes.

A juicer works well, but the quickest easiest method to juice 10 limes is to use a lime squeezer. If you don’t have one – which I don’t – the next best way to crank through all those limes is to use a handheld wooden citrus reamer. What’s a reamer? See pic below.

final1-copy

Combine the sugar syrup, lime juice, and water in a large jug filled with ice, and stir.

Add mint leaves and raspberries to add some colour to the jug. Chill in the fridge until cold before serving, then pour into glasses filled with ice.

Best to drink the same day, but the limeade will last a second day.

Enjoy.