The Devonshire, Surry Hills

On my to-do list for several years, I have finally made it to the one hat restaurant, The Devonshire. A combination of a freed up work schedule, the pre-theatre menu plus a discount using the entertainment card made this excursion possible. The pre-theatre menu gives you two courses for $49, and you’re out by 8pm.

Bread & Butter:

Bread and butter

No ordinary bread & butter, the butter on the left is “honey butter”. Being a beekeeper I had to try it. It was crunchy from salt crystals, and sweet from the honey. Kind of like oily sweetness…

Salt fish brandade with caper sauce:

Salt fish brandade

This was a little aperitivo to whet the appetite. I wonder if the salt fish is the Portuguese Baccalao? The caper sauce was like a fancied up tartare sauce without that heavy oiliness or fridge like flavour.

Beef Tartare with kale chips and saboyon 65 deg egg:

Beef Tartare

My brain no worky. I saw the word ‘tartare’ and thought of thin slices of barely cooked beef, japanese style. It was marinated raw beef mince with capers – quite salty. I was also interested in how the egg would be done – it turned up like a foamy yellow custard (which I suppose is egg), but didn’t really taste like egg at all. The kale ‘chips’ had been coated in oil and fried. Quite salty, quite oily. I prefer my version of kale chip, but I suppose it wouldn’t stay crispy.

Smoked and seared ocean trout:

Seared ocean trout//

This one was a gem, with little microherbs, enoki mushrooms and a puff of mushroom cream.

Pork loin, crackling, roast carrots:

Roast pork loin

This was a dish in earth colours. The crackling was very crispy with no gummy stick in your mouth bits. The port reduction jus quite sweet. The ‘cigar’ on the left reminds me of a chiko roll.

The recipe for the crackling was so involved that the chef came out from the kitchen to explain it to the table next to us. I wonder if I can create crackling in a dutch oven over a fire pit?

Mulloway fish:


Pieces of fish skin had been deep fried until crispy. Oddly, this provided a more satisfying crunch than the pork crackling, possibly because a vestige of flavour remained with the crunch. This dish also had julienned octopus legs and a little squid ink.

Haloumi and greens:

Aphrodite Haloumi

Such a green coloured dish. Charred broccolini, broccoli, raw broccoli ‘noodles’ – which I thought tasted like cucumber. There were four pieces of panfried Aphrodite Haloumi – more salt to my diet, or it could have been lemon juice as I do have very confused taste buds. I really like the little nubbins of parsnip chips on top.

Tea from T2.

There is a lack of interesting non alcoholic drinks apart from the usual multinational soft drinks. I think a quite a few places seem to let themselves down in this area. We did however, enjoy the rest of our meal and the attentive service. I go to the theatre quite often nearby, I’m going to have to make a return trip sometime.

The Devonshire
Street: 204 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills, 2010
Phone: +61-2-9698-9427

Plastic Free July

plastic free july



The pledge this time around is to try and reduce the amount of ‘single user plastics’ one uses for the month of July.

The ‘big 4’ single use plastics are:
– straws,
– takeaway coffee cup lids,
– bags, and
– water bottles.

Sounds good in theory, but I can already tell from here its going to be hard. Even if I took reusable containers to the butcher/fishmonger for my purchased goods to be put into, there’s going to be a bit of a resistance from the perception of food handling hygiene and advertising for the shop. I will probably end up a vegetarian.

It reminds me a little of the plastic bag advert produced for the tv show the Gruen Transfer:

If you go to a bar, and order a soft drink; more often than not the bar person then sticks a straw in it for you. Then what, do I hand them back the straw and tell them I don’t want it? Or perhaps I should tell them at the point of ordering: no straw please.

I already have a bunch of reusable shopping bags that I forget to bring along with me to the shops:

shopping bags

I generally a carry reusable bag around with me in my handbag, but then when I go shopping after work, not all my shopping fits in my bag! So then I have to get 1-2 additional plastic bags.

I tend to reuse single use plastic bags to repackage sourdough bread for freezing and for garbage bin liners. Sometimes if I remember, I take the bags back to the shops and reuse them for fruit and veg.

My reusable coffee cups:


You can see that these get quite a lot of use! I think ‘Keep cup’ changed the reusable cup market. They produce cups in “standard” coffee sizes (for Australia), so that they fit underneath the espresso coffee machine group head. It also means that the barista doesn’t have to ‘guess’ the right level to fill the coffee/milk up to when you bring your mug/cup along for your morning brew. And yes, I used to do that too. The sizes that I usually see are the 8 oz (227ml), 11oz (320ml), and the tiny espresso shot 4 oz (118ml). The size in the photo here is deceiving – the patterned (ceramic) cup on the right actually has less volume than the 8 oz cup on the left.

My reusable sandwich wrap:

sandwich wrapper

This one I like, because you’re not just limited to bread of a certain dimension which a lot of “envelope” style reusable sandwich bags limit you to. You can also use it if you make a ‘wrap’ for lunch. It cost me about $6 from a kitchenware supply store.

If I get some time, I’d like to try making my own beeswax wraps. I have a few doubts about hygiene and reusability, but hey, honey is a natural antibacterial, and my beeswax smells *intensely* like honey. Perhaps I would have to use colour coded fabric for different wraps – fruit, veg, cheese.

I think my biggest challenge will be my partner, who loves his cling film to death and wraps any thing and everything in it instead of using a re-usable container.

So, dear reader, will you be giving Plastic Free July a go? Or will you be targeting your consumption of the top four disposable waste plastics?

Ghostboy Cantina

No sooner had Ghostboy Cantina opened, then I hear it’s about to finish up its six month lease and move to Tio’s Cerveceria, which, as you can tell by the name, started out as a Mexican themed bar. I just remember some popcorn with chilli sprinkles on it.

Wow, time flies when you’re having fun.

Lucky I just managed to fit in a visit before they shifted location.

Crispy Pumpkin Taco:

Pumpkin Taco

Kumera Quesadilla:

Kumera Quesadilla

My experience with cooking sweet potato in its grated form is that it loses its shape. Here, it wasn’t too firm or too soft and was sprinkled with dulse, a salty seaweed ‘superfood’.

Jerusalem artichoke taco:

Jerusalem artichoke taco

This had a good flavour with a topping of mung bean noodles on top. Not too salty.

Beetroot Taco ($5):

The beetroot slices were fried on the grill plate, but not charred. There were two kinds of beetroot puree (yellow & purple) smeared on the taco, and it was topped with pickled cabbage, nigella seeds, and tahini to make it creamy.

Pork Taco ($6):

Pork Taco

I think that this is a little different to the pork taco reviewed by goodliving earlier in the year. For one thing, persimmon is a winter fruit. This came with diced onion, a green chilli/coriander salsa (Salsa verde), vietnamese basil and a hot red sauce.

Between the latter two, I think I preferred the pork taco, it seemed to have more complex spices. Or perhaps I just love my chilli.

Ghostboy Cantina, until 27 June 2016
Dixon House Food Court, corner Little Hay Street and Dixon Street, Haymarket
Hours: 1200-2030

Then from 20 July 2016:
As part of Tio’s Cerveceria
4-14 Foster Street, Surry Hills 2010
Hours: Wednesday to Saturday, 6pm to midnight.

The Three Blue Ducks, Bronte

The closest so far I have come to sampling the food at the Three Blue Ducks has been to grab a muffin and a takeaway coffee en-route to the annual Sculpture By The Sea exhibition.

That must have been a long time ago, because they have expanded the premises and added a little kitchen garden, chickens and beehives out the back. Oh and released a cookbook.

I was looking up what ‘arranchara’ meant from the menu description, and I found this picture on Instagram. Sold!

Beef Arranchara ($30):
Beef Arranchera

I still don’t know what the word means. Comes with pureed corn; a salsa of cherry tomatoes, pearl barley, pineapple; and a lavosh cracker. The meat was red inside, and nicely charred and tasty on the outside. I thought the combo of flavours worked quite well, although I am mystified how you can puree corn without any sticky in your teeth bits. I did not mind the pineapple, which I generally hate if it’s on a pizza.

Pork Sandwich ($18):

Pork Sandwich

Today this is served on sourdough instead of brioche. It’s kind of hard to eat with the size of the crust bring 3cm thick. The meat is nicely flavoured (not too sweet), melts in your mouth but also has nice mouth feel crunchy bits. Little shreds of beetroot and carrot mixed throughout but I couldn’t taste if they were especially pickled because of the yumminess of the pork!


There is always a debate as to whether or not I should get a small or a large one. I usually go for the small, because I can always have another coffee. So I did both.

Soy milk is from bonsoy.

Urban Bees:
Bees in the herbs

If you head to the bathroom out the back, you can visit the bees (in a langstroth hive). Hello! They were in full sun, so would’ve been a little hot. There wasn’t much else going on in the gardening front (I believe the boys source their homegrown veg from elsewhere), but there was a chicken having a little dirt bath in one of the garden beds.

I had wanted to go to Iggy’s bread afterwards, but they are shut on Mondays!!;???!!! I’m going to have return on another weekday.

Three Blue Ducks
Street: 143 Macpherson St, Bronte NSW 2024
Phone: +61-2-9389-0010

No bookings

Also at Rosebery, and Byron Bay.

Small Scale Kombucha Brewing

I think I like kombucha brewing. It is far less effort and commitment that my attempts at mead (honey wine) have proved and delivered. Plus the turnaround is so much quicker!!

I have described earlier how I grew the mother from a batch of store bought. Win! This saved me $35. Before I gave her a mother jellyfish, my friend Heidi was buying the same quantity that I am brewing here, for $15 a pop. Ouch.

I don’t actually drink that much of the stuff (like a tablespoon or so a day), so I really needed to brew small scale. Most recipes that you find on the internet are for making batches 2 gallons (4 litres) at a time!! This is my recipe which makes 1 litre per week.

I started off with a 400g “gourmet” instant coffee jar. This holds over a litre worth of brew, which is perfect for me.

Kombucha Mama

First Fermentation:
1. Brew 1 litre of tea*, add 1/3 cup of sugar, let cool to room temperature. I do this step overnight.
2. Add tea to kombucha brewing jar, reserving 1 cup worth of the existing kombucha brew in the jar
3. Cover jar with double layer cheese cloth – allowing the brew to ‘breathe’. Store in a warm location, away from potential bumps.
4. (Optional) Taste your brew daily using a plastic spoon, your brew is ready when it shifts from tasting like sweet tea to “vinegary”. In summer, with 35 deg C days, this takes me 4-5 days.
5. After washing hands with water, shift your mushroom ‘mother’ to a clean plate/bowl. This makes it easier to decant the kombucha to your storage container.
6. Decant kombucha brew into a your glass drinking bottle, from which you will take your daily drink. Reserve 1 cup of kombucha brew for the next ferment.
7. Return the kombucha mother to your brew jar, and the 1 cup of reserved kombucha. Start again at step 1.
Secondary Fermentation:
8. (Optional) If you want flavoured kombucha, add tumeric/ginger/apple juice/fresh strawberries to your glass drinking bottle, let it ferment two days in the fridge (or really, just start drinking it). It’ll flavour as it goes. I generally add a splash of the sweet tea from step 1, and what ever random herbs I have lying around. Herbs used so far include mint, vietnamese basil, thyme sticks, rosemary.

Brown floaties OK, mould not. If your mother (jellyfish) gets mouldy, peel off the mouldy top layer, wash the remainder under cold running water, stick it back in the jar and start step 1 again with 1 cup of reserved kombucha tea (or apple cider vinegar)

The kombucha eats up the sugar, so it doesn’t matter what kind you use. Just don’t use honey (it is antibacterial, it might kill the mother). Honey for the secondary “flavouring” ferment is fine.

If you’re making too much kombucha, stick the whole thing in the fridge to slow it down. Add a little bit of room temp sweet tea to keep the mother alive. Do this when you go on holidays.

*So far on the tea front I have used generic black tea bags, green “silver tipped” tea, herbal ‘raspberry’ tea (tastes like pink) and rooibos tea. Don’t try and flavour the first ferment with ginger or tumeric (both antibacterial). The black tea has fermented the fastest, the rooibus the slowest. Perhaps the scoby really does need the caffeine.

This is my current batch:

Kombucha drink

Brewed with green tea. Then a pinch of matcha tea power, some slices of fresh tumeric and a bit of home grown honey.

My favourite flavouring addition is grated ginger & finger lime ‘pearls’. You get the zing of ginger with the added crunch of citrus flavoured pearls in your daily constitution.

Circa Espresso, Parramatta

When the trio of cafes Three Ropes, Paper Plane Cafe and Circa opened in Parramatta, I got pretty darn excited. At last, little laneway style coffee was available to me, and I didn’t have to travel to Melbourne or Sydney city to get it!

Unfortunately, Three Ropes has now shut because of an entire block redevelopment for the UWS/WSU Western Sydney University campus, but the other two live on.

Circa prides itself on using local produce.

Breakfast Rice ($13):

Breakfast Rice

I liked the combination of flavours, and a wonderfully pink poached pear. This will fill you up. I had to take my leftovers with me in my reusable coffee cup.

Ottoman Eggs ($17):
Ottoman Eggs

I seriously chose this dish because of the existence of garlic labneh. Interestingly, in order to make the accompanying bread ‘seedy’, a plain slice of sourdough had been buttered and sprinkled with a sesame seed and poppyseed combo. A good way to just get over kind of bread, and offer it two ways.

Baked eggs ($19):
Baked Eggs

I have been making shashuska at home for ages. This reminded me of that slow cooked egg dish, but with sucjuk – a spicy Turkish sausage. Inspiration! The following weekend I made my shashuka with nduja – which is pretty darn hard to find in Sydney!

Circa Espresso
street: 21 Wentworth Street, Parramatta NSW 2150
M-F: 0700-1500
S-S: 0800-1500

Mindful in May 2016

The past twelve months have been quite a shit, really, so I had been looking forward to the start of May, and the Mindful in May challenge.


Turns out that the organiser is taking a “mindfulness” sabbatical for 2016. Good on her.

My goals for May:
1. Meditate/yoga on a daily basis, with 6 days out of 7 on a rolling average
2. Be more mindful

Then, it turned into a *shit* of a month with an ex-colleague passing away due to cancer recurrence, the father in law passing due to pulmonary fibrosis (so he basically suffocated to death), and a good friend’s sister deciding to take her own life.

My problems are nothing.

Nothing is ever that bad. The world is a much better place with you in it, please don’t ever think otherwise.
Talk to a friend. Reach out. Eat a bucketload of chocolate. Talk to a counsellor. GET HELP.

In Australia, you can get up to ten counseling sessions per calender year for FREE through Medicare. Or call Lifeline’s 24hr crisis telephone line on 13 11 14.

The Black Dog Institute has a whole bunch of factsheets about depression, bipolar disorder, mental health, and techniques to staying well. There is even a factsheet on mindfulness, with a couple of excercises listed to get you started.

A book that I have found resonated with me is The Wellness Sense, by Om Swami.

And have I practiced mindfulness so far in May 2016? No not really. I did a yoga sequence on 30/4 and 1/5, then work/uni/life got in the way. But there’s always tomorrow!


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