Appearing soon: Bourke Street Bakery!

Opening on Monday 27 April 2015:

Bourke Street Bakery!!!!

Landing soon...

Squeeee!!!

They’ve snapped up a spot that used to host a Delifrance, followed by a Brazillian cafe, then by Sweet Street cafe (which had lovely fruit tarts), right near where the Artisans Apprentice Bakery used to be.

Bourke Street Bakery
street: Shop 17/162-172 Church Street, Parramatta, 2150
Connection Arcade/Parramatta Pedestrian Mall.
Phone: 61-2-9893-9075
M-F: 0700-1600
SS-0800-1500

Black Star Pastry, Newtown

There’s no denying it. Black Star Pastry has been *discovered*.

Usually the queues snake out the door and alongside the shops next door, generally of tourists who have come to Newtown to try the Strawberry Watermelon Cake with Rose Scented Cream. It just looks so *pretty*. I remember devouring a slice, layer by layer whilst sitting in the pub across the road a few years ago. Mr SydFoodie groaned when some visitors (who had been in the country a mere 4 hours) told him that they were going to “Black Thorn Pastry tomorrow to try a cake”. A representative from Tourism Australia actually preened a little when he told them that story. Some of the tourists in a very brusque fashion elbow their way to the front of the queue and demand the eclair, or the cake; and then storm off in a huff when they are told that they’re sold out, and there won’t be any more for today.

So, usually I avoid the shop.

But today, a rainy weekday (plus perhaps the opening of their Rosebery store and the Powerhouse museum popup) has meant that there was no queue. Hooley Dooley! I should’ve taken a photo of this rare event.

Olive Miche ($8):

Miche @ Black Star Pastry

I have destroyed the cocoa power ‘branding’ by lugging this home, but you can just make it out on top of the loaf. This apparently contains green olives, but I have yet to spot them. I couldn’t quite identify an almost fermented smell from the bread – perhaps apple cider vinegar?

Miche

The small miche roll is $4.

Cinnamon Scroll ($4.40):

Cinnamon Swirl @ Black Star Pastry

Not a very strong cinnamon flavour, and the humidity of the day has meant that the sugar/cinnamon filling has absorbed moisture. The pastry is buttery, light and flakey which crisps up nicely under the grill.

Black Star Pastry
street: 277 Australia Street, Newtown NSW 2042
web: http://blackstarpastry.com.au
M-F, S-S: 0700-1700.

Also at Rosebery, and a pop up at the Powerhouse Museum until end of April 2015.

Post-post note: I have shared my BSP miche with a friend who has declared that the unidentified taste is lemon myrtle. Very strong lemon myrtle.

It’s harder than it looks

Making crumpets are harder than they look.

When my sister first sent me the link from theguardian uk newspaper , I thought – meh – not for me. Too much effort. I don’t like crumpets that much.

Then frankie magazine posted a link to another recipe. Frankie. Doyenne of hipster, art, quirky fashion, and DIY. Can’t be that hard can it?

This recipe makes a lot of crumpets. Sixteen 7cm diameter crumpets.
You want baking soda – sodium bicarbonate, the alkaline one.

I also forgot that I had two litres of whey left over from making haloumi, which would have been interesting to substitute for water in the recipe.

The downside I found was that because I kept my crumpet mixture on the stove, it kept expanding as I kept cooking, giving me more and more crumpet mixture. Like the magic pudding, my crumpet mixture kept expanding and giving me more and more mixture, then longer it stayed in ‘the warm spot’ on the stove.

Only my first batch seemed to develop the ‘bubbles’ at the top of the crumpet, every other one was just a columnar yeasty bread.

Crumpets cooking

I had a lot of trouble using cookie cutter moulds with shaping the crumpets, because my moulds came with a ‘handle’, I ended up removing the handle to assist with removing the crumpet.

Crumpets

Verdict?
Harder than it looks. I’m going to have to have another go at these. My efforts reminded me more of an English Muffin. Perhaps a Muf-pert. When I looked later at the recipe in the joy of cooking – the recipe for English muffins is given first, followed by the comment that “Crumpets are essentially similar to English muffins, just more liquid”.

What kind of crumpets are you eating in the USA?

What about the bubbling and the honeycomb texture?

Golden Buddha Mountain (Jinfo Shan 金佛山)

We caught the first bus from Nan Chuan (南川) up the precarious switchbacks to Jinfo mountain north side cable car. We were the only tourists in the bus, the other four were locals returning home.

More tourists are not too far away: villas and apartments are in the process of being constructed alongside the river and the northern freeway exit/entry is also being constructed.

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The cable car runs only once there are enough people to fill all three gondalas.

My suggestion: if you take public transport, buy a one way cable car ticket. There’s a cable car on the southern side, and you can then have a different bus ride back to town. Or if you have more time than we did, stay at the mountain top hotel and really take in what the area has to offer.

Once up top, we perused the map, and then walked over to the eagle view lookout:

P1150186

Spectacular. We spent at least 30 minutes here just reveling in the view, the fact that we were above the smog and drinking tea out of a flask. There may have been cake.

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Most tourists turn around at this point but we continued along the path minor marked path.

You take the high road and I’ll take the low:

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I didn’t dare to scramble along the upper path, but the footprints indicate that plenty of others have.

The cliff part, 800m above the ground is an amazing feat of engineering:

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Underneath this cliff path was the original one at ground level. How on earth did they construct this one so high up on the face of the cliff? This was built in 2012. At first I thought it was a bit weird, I think the concrete handrails fashioned in the guise of wooden branches are growing on me. It just works.

About a third of the way along, we came upon the Yangkou cave (羊口洞). At first we only walked about halfway through the long dark cave, with the path lit up using bollard lights. We turned back to keep going along the cliff path, but then we met some cable car mates who convinced us that it was worthwhile to keep going to the other side.

I spend some time trying to capture a long exposure low light photo of the Yangkou cave entrance:

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We continued through the cave, right down to the lowest point, and then eye spied a cave heading off to the right. I had a head torch so we mosied down a little of Ling guan cave (灵官洞), which is named after the swallows that live in it. About 50m down the path, we bumped into a bunch of scientists taking water samples from the cave floor. Bizarre.

If I had more time in the mountains, another headtorch and more food. I would have kept exploring Ling Guan cave for the ‘because it’s there’ factor. We returned to the Yangkou cave, and climbed up a steep set of steps out of the gorge.

Now we found ourselves in the Shilin forest (Shilin 石林, meaning stone forest), with lots of fantastic arrangements of bamboo, moss, trees reaching for the sky, rooted through granite boulders.

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There were lots of artistic names and descriptions like “dragon foot on rock” (yes, I could kind of see it), or “white horse” (nope). From this spot you could head to the road and catch a minibus ride to either end of this park at the top of the plateau for the princely some of 10RMB per head.

However, we kept walking through the stone forest and the azalea garden, and returned to the cliff path. At one point I shared some of my teethcracking nut toffee with a path sweeper, who urged us to hurry up and catch the cable car when we asked about the last bus. It was interesting to see how the light had changed during the day.

We hurried past the main Yan Kou cave entrance, then a bit further on past the caved in entrance of the Ling guan cave. We did see the swallows after which it was named. More cliff path, and then a viewing platform, so that you could see the

Golden Tortoise:

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The point does indeed look like a tortoise, bowing in front of the sun. We had walked all that way, alongside the ‘body’ of the tortoise.

Neat.

The main road is about 10 minutes away, past the ‘ski’ lodge and the (kids sized) skiing/grass skiing area.

We managed to flag a bus down, and caught it to the cable car where we had started our journey this morning. I was a little bit concerned because I didn’t see a bus waiting. After riding the gondola down, we asked the stallholder when the last bus would be leaving. The response in the mountain dialect was that “the buses had finished”.

We checked with the gondola operators and “they called someone”.

The last bus leaves from the northern cableway at 4pm. Don’t forget that.

Our saviour arrived about 20 minutes later. After some negotiation, we got a ride down to Nanchaun for 100RMB. Compared to a 20RMB bus ride, it was a little a bit expensive, but we got back to our hotel room.

Golden Buddha Mountain (Jinfo Shan 金佛山)
Nanchuan, Chongqing, China (南川, 重庆).

75 RMB entry fee, 70 return cable car, 25 RMB public bus ride one way, 100 RMB private car back.

270RMB total for the day’s excursion. (60AUD, 44USD at the Mar 2015 exchange rate).

Wulong Karst area: Dragon River Gorge (龙水峡)

Longshui xia (龙水峡), or Dragon River Gorge was our next stop after the Three Natural Bridges. You can *just* fit this in after visiting the Three Natural Bridges, but it is a slight rush to make it back in time for the return minibus back to Wulong city.

The ticket is an eyewatering 115 RMB – available at either the Wulong Karst Tourist Centre, or at the conclusion of your walk through the Three Natural Bridges. Yes, this was a very expensive day trip.

The heavenly ladder:

Heavenly Ladder

There is are toilet facilities at the top of the gorge. Despite this, and the warning signs at the start that : “There are no toilet facilities below, go now”, at the first dark spot at the base of the lift, there is a strong smell of urine. Lovely, Jubly.

Underground Cave:

Underground River

This is the source of where the water comes from upstream, from the three natural bridges area. It was a luminescent jade green colour, winding its way through the gorge.

Galaxy Waterfall:

Galaxy Waterfall

There were a lot of poetic names describing the natural features along the way.

This could possibly be the jade tortoise:

Dragon River Gorge

The small natural bridge:

Small Natural Bridge

Although it kind of looks man made to me, it does suit the area’s ambiance.

Pretty!

Dragon River Gorge

At the end of the walk, there were some stalls selling trinkets, fruit and vegetables and things with a bit of a price premium. You had to catch the bus back up to the tourist centre, before transferring to the public bus down the hill. We were treated to the latest in Chinese pop music as entertainment, including what does the fox say. I swear, before I looked up video on youtube, I thought it was Canto-pop!

Dragon River Gorge (Longshui xia 龙水峡)
Wulong Karst Tourist area (武隆喀斯特)
Wulong, Chongqing (重庆), China.
115 RMB entry fee, 8 RMB public bus ride one way.

250RMB total for the day’s excursion. (52AUD, 40USD at the current exchange rate) I told you it was expensive!

To the rescue!

You know some times, you’re busting to go to the bathroom – ah sweet relief- but then you’re greeted by the dawning realisation that there’s *no toilet paper*?

Toilet paper man to the rescue!

tp man

Ok, so I only managed to capture his mug shot as he trundled away from me down the street in Nan Chuan, but I’m sure someone will have his business card.

MFWF – Pop up bakery and bar

As part of the Melbourne Food and wine festival, there was a pop up bakery bar and bar at Queensbridge square, Southbank. As it turns out, Michael McEnearney from Sydney’s Kitchen by Mike was the guest baker on the morning that I visited. Them’s the breaks.

Pear pastry ($7.50) and sourdough starter ($10):

MFWF - Pear tart
You eat the former, not the latter. The pastry was crisp and flakey. Very light, and altogether not good for me.

I had been wanting to start a sourdough starter for ages, but couldn’t quite face the volumes of good flour that I would have to toss out in the process. Tada! Let’s how this starter from Sydney via Melbourne will survive.

Ploughman’s platter ($20):

MFWF - Ploughman's breadboard

Myrtleford salted butter. Pork and fennel sausage. Tomato chutney. Pickled vegetables. Bread.
I think they had me at ‘pickled vegetables’. I completely forgot to look at the other options.

I spotted some other dishes that I could’ve chosen if I hadn’t been blindsided – scrambled eggs looked so-so, but the open sandwiches topped with pickled onion looked right up my alley.

Melbourne Food and wine festival pop up bakery and bar
Queensbridge Square, Southbank
Mornings from early until 12noon (that’s when the coffee stops)
Until 15 March 2015

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