Bread and Circus, Alexandria

The first time that I tried to visit Bread and Circus, the queue was 30 deep for a weekend lunchtime. I cut my losses, and went to Rosetta Stone instead. It was very nice indeed.

The second time that I tried to visit, I had given up trying to find a car parking space in the vicinity of Grounds of Alexandria. As it was, it was a weekday lunchtime, and the big green alcohol store across the road had installed a security guard to ensure that you weren’t just using their property as a parking lot, and you were a genuine shopper. One six pack later… Parking in this area is *awful*, just don’t drive.

The phrase ‘bread and circuses‘, according to wikipedia means to

“describe the generation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or public policy, but through diversion; distraction; or the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace.”

Hmm.

It was so hard to decide what to get. There was soup… there was a multitude of fresh squeezed juices… there was salad… there were sandwich boxes.
You could even get Nepalese style coffee – coffee with a knob of butter in it (instead of soured yak’s butter).

Lemongrass and ginger chai ($4):

Bread and Circus Chai

This was in a big metal vat, with chai set to warm. It was kind of meh… and I forgot to ask if there was alternative to cow’s milk available. Presentation 0. Taste – very zingy and gingery. Slightly stewed.

Regular salad ($16):

Bread and Circus salad

The salad changes daily (weekly), depending on what’s in season. You can also get a side salad for $10, or a ginormous sharing salad for $25.

I couldn’t quite decide: so yes, I got them all.
From left to right:
– Cinnamon roasted baby carrot and fennel with biodynamic yoghurt garlic basil and fresh lemon;
– Capsicum stuffed cherry tomato and goats feta with chilli flakes garlic torn basil salt and pepper ( my fave),
– Green papaya cucumber and torn mint with lime chilli and crushed almond(kinda meh),
– Fresh cabbage kale sprouts and shiso with yuzu and pomegranate (also meh),
– Charred yellow bean cherry tomato and haloumi with mint basil oil wild rocket and parsley. The haloumi tasted more like tofu

Based on the descriptions alone, I would have chosen salads 1,4,5. Surprisingly, I much preferred salad 2 ~ which from the description I would’ve thought sounded a bit ordinary. Perhaps I really just like goats cheese, but this was really nice: halved pieces of roast cherry tomato, dabs of goats cheese marinated in oil, tucked into a 1/4 vertical slice of capsicum for each ‘serve’. I found that salads 3,4,5 were a bit plain, and didn’t have a strong outstanding flavour or dressing. I guess the point was lots of colours and textures in your food.

A side of six hour grass fed lamb farro kale & carrot soup ($8):

Lamb and Farro soup

Strong lamb-y mutton-y taste. Almost goat like! The kale I thought was silverbeet, it almost had a dehydrated pak choy type of taste, which you sometimes find in chinese style soups. Six hour cooking process maybe. I think that this was my first encounter with farro! I may try and replicate a similar style of soup, but with pearl barley as it is easier to find than farro.

So, overall?

It was a bit… Meh. Although this was probably the first time I have seen two guys order salad and a green drink. If I was in the area and there wasn’t a queue – maybe. Perhaps if I liked the look of something on their menu (and it certainly is an inspiring and varied one), I would pre-order via phone or email (orders by 10am). It’s a tad on the expensive side I thought. But I also thought that about kitchen by mike.

Bread and Circus Wholefoods Canteen
street: 21 Fountain Street Alexandria
S-S: 0700-1600
M-F: 0700-1500
Phone: +61 418 214 425
email: info@breadandcircus.com.au
web: http://breadandcircus.com.au/
Last food orders 40 minutes before closing.

Megan Pie

When I was visiting the USA, I had a friend make an apple pie from scratch. I was so keen to go and taste it, I kept chanting MeganPie MeganPie MeganPie. The pie was very good indeed. Homemade pie crust, slices of apple dotted with butter, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Any good pie now is deemed a MeganPie.

So when I returned home to find that the guava season was still in full swing, I made my very own MeganPie.

I had a pie tin souvenired from a lovely pie restaurant in the Berkeley area.

The pie tin

Shortcrust recipe was from the Italian cookbook The Silver Spoon*.

It was quite simple – By weight, One measure flour, half measure sugar, half measure butter. Zest from a lemon.

This made a crumble like breadcrumbs. The recipe omits cold water, of which you add tiny droplets just until the breadcrumbs combine into dough, but not too far such that it becomes sticky and that you need to add flour to compensate in the other direction. I think that it actually uses less butter than the shortcrust I made using The Cook’s Companion (yes – 50g less).

Shortcrust pastry

Here are my ingredients that go into making the pie. I forgot to add the butter in the photo, but it is there.

Pie ingredients

For the filling, I just used sliced deseeded guava, dot with butter, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, repeat.

Guava pie

The lid was made up of several bits of crust that I had rolled out, but was not able to make into one large piece. Amazingly, when I cooked this, it looked like I had done this on purpose to give the lid texture and make more crispy bits.
My slackness with the pie crust meant that there were steam release holes designed in.

I baked this at 180 degrees for 30 minutes, as per Stephanie Alexander directions for a rhubarb pie.

It filled the kitchen with a wonderful lemon smell whilst baking.

The pie was so very good when eating just after baking, the crust retained its crunch even the next day. My neighbour rated it 10 out of 10. My mum said that it was “nice”.

I then saw a recipe in the newspaper for apple pie with tahini filling and cardamon crust. The timing was perfect – I would use cardamon in my next pie crust, but not the additional fiddly filling – I want to make sure that the guava flavour is prominent in the pie, without being masked by other flavours.

The cardamon didn’t smell as good as the lemon shortcrust whilst baking, however, it added a nice contrast to the guava filling.

I think that this year’s guava crop stars in the Year of the Pie. I’ll definitely be making this one again. Perhaps a lemon and cardamon crust?

Guava pie

*I think this makes a grand total of three recipes that I have made from this book so far. Grilled Whiting, Cauliflower with green sauce, and now shortcrust pastry. A search of my blog says I’m telling furphies, and I also used the book for the chestnut and rosemary cake. That’s a 0.2% recipes used so far.

Vivid Sydney 2015

I only saw a snippet of the Vivid 2015 light festival in Sydney this year.

I caught the train to Circular Quay, saw the lights from the Cahill Expressway. Watched the light show projected on Customs House. Whilst waiting ferry to Darling Harbour, I also saw the light show projections on the Museum of Contemporary Art building and the Opera House. Finally, there I saw a bit of the light and music show in the water at Darling Harbour. That one reminded me a bit of the light show at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, except the music was turned all the way up to eleven and was WAY TOO LOUD. Eh? Wazzat? I can’t hear you.

My favourite?

Customs House:

Vivid 2015

Unlike may others in the crowd, I didn’t take simultaneous video and still photos of the show. Apparently it was called Enchanted Sydney, designed by the Spinifex Group. I just know it had an explanatory sign on it for number 12. Plus there was a bee flitting around some of the early botanical scenes.

I liked it because it told a story. The projected shows on the MCA and the operahouse were just pretty patterns. It reminded me a bit of the 2014 Christmas light show on the Melbourne Town Hall – created by the Electric Canvas.

The Stinking Bishops, Enmore

You must have the cheese toastie.

That was the recommendation. So a year after it opened, I finally made it to the Stinking Bishops.

Mushroom Mr Crispy ($15):

Mr Crispy

It was indeed very crispy. And Tasty. There were at least two different kinds of mushrooms – enoki and your standard button mushroom. It was moreish, and now since I’m talking about it, I want another one.

The accompanying salad was autumn themed – with radish, radiccio and a light lemony dressing.

As I was paying for my toasted sandwich, I spied some pickled eggs in a big vat behind the counter. So I had to have one to try and compare to my own pickled quail effort several years ago.

Pickled Egg ($2.5):

Pub pickled egg

It had the bottom sliced off so that it could be served in a warm ramekin, sprinkled with salt. But the egg was still cold. It was creamy and mouth puckeringly sour. It turns seems that my attempt at pickled eggs was genuine article, I just didn’t know it at the time. Whoopx, such a shame I’ve already thrown out my pickled eggs.

Smoked Anchovy Bruschetta ($5):

Smoked Anchovy bruschetta

Spiced crème fraiche, cucumber, pickled eschalot, dill

This does not taste like an anchovy that I am used to, tastes. I couldn’t really pick up any smokey element, it was more a sardine fresh out of the sea. The dukkah sprinkled on top was fresh and crispy.

Pork and black pudding terrine ($18):

Pork and Black Pudding Terrine

Yes. I got this because of the presence of black pudding. Yum. Gobble, gobble, gobble. The terrine was quite meaty yet fresh. The jelly holding it all together wasn’t too cold. I really liked the freshness of the accompanying salad with the apple and halved grapes. The dressing wasn’t too acidic either. I should have the patience to make terrine, but I never do.

Towards the end of my visit, I asked what the white mould cheese in the shape of a ring was. It turns out that it was a goat’s cheese from Castlemaine (VIC), and reminded me a lot of the Willowbrae Bowen Mountain cheese.

“Why can’t they source a cheese more local than Victoria?”, I wondered, but when I talked to David from Willowbrae, he said that they were pretty flat out just supplying the markets, so let’s keep their existence a secret between you and I.

Toasties available only at lunchtimes.

The Stinking Bishops
street: Unit 5, 63-71 Enmore Rd, Enmore, NSW 2042
Phone: +61-2-9007-7754
M: Closed
Tue-Wed: 1700-2200.
Thu-Fri: 1100-2200.
Sat: 1100-1700, closed 1630-1730
Sun 1100-1800
There is a very complicated reservation availability online, generally Tue-Thu dinner, Sundays; or lunch Thu-Sat. Or you could walk in.
Web and : http://www.thestinkingbishops.com/

Raw Caramel Slice

Eating exclusively raw food is one of those fads that has passed me by. Including reimagining foods such as desserts in the ‘raw’ format. I’ve never really seen the point – as long as you eat a relatively balanced diet with lots of different colours and textures, you generally should be fine.

This is my tale of the raw caramel slice.

A colleague at work brought in some raw caramel slice, of which I ate a tiny slice (size of finger nail), and it was utterly delicious.

So I tried to make it myself, based upon a recipe on food.tv.

Golden Rule: Don’t Attempt if you don’t have a proper food processor. If you have only a stick blender with a chopping attachment, use the following modifications.

Base

If you have only whole almonds, soak them for at least an hour before trying to ‘blend’. Also, I suggest pounding with a mortar and pestle, to break up the almonds as much as possible, before putting them in the chopping bowl.

Preferably start with almond meal.

Base & ‘caramel’

Soak the dates in hot water for about five minutes. Then dice as finely as possible before using the stick blender chopping bowl.

Raw cashews – as with the almonds in the base, I suggest using a mortar and pestle to crush the cashews as much as possible.

You could also substitute dried apricots for the dates- giving a lighter colour; or coconut flour or finely shredded coconut for the almonds in the base.

Chocolate
You’re supposed to melt the coconut oil, cocoa powder and maple syrup over a low heat: doesn’t this completely contradict the “raw food” ethos, because you’ve used heat. Admittedly, during summer, coconut oil can be more of a liquid than a solid. I also think that I overheated the mixture, because it seemed to “seize”, and turn into something rather granular rather than smooth.

Raw Caramel Slice

Now I have to admit that this photo doesn’t really do the slice justice. It’s a few months old, having been in the fridge/freezer, whilst I nibbled away at it. You can see what happens if you use too much coconut oil, the oil kind of comes up the side of the mould and leaves a residue which really isn’t that nice to eat.

What do you think?

I quite like this recipe, because I can make something ‘dessert-like’, without having to heat up the kitchen in summer. I’m not quite sold on making it again though: after all my colleague makes a much nicer version in a thinner slice.

Sun Catering, Wentworthville

Masala Dosai is one of the few Indian style foods that I crave. I love the thin crispy pancake, and getting all grubby in eating with my fingers.

So when my friend gave a hot tip to try Sun Catering in Wentworthville, I had to make the effort and try it. The place has two bain maries with precooked food – one is the vegetarian one, the other the meat one. These were popular with the locals in ordering four curries & rice.

Masala Dosai ($6):

Masala Dosa

Served on a metal food platter, we have a hot coconut chutney (orange colour), a slightly sour green chutney (also coconut based), and the sambal. The filling in the crepe interestingly not only has the standard potatoes and peas, but also curry leaves, coriander, corn and carrot. One dossai is a bit too much for me to finish, so I wrapped up my leftovers in a napkin, and reheated them later in the jaffle iron.

Sun Catering
Street: 9 Station Street, Wentworthville, NSW, 2145
Phone: 61-2-86267861

Basil and the bees

One of the reason that I thought bees wouldn’t mind living in my area is that throughout the winter of 2014, I had constant bee visitors to my flowering basil.

After cutting back hard in November, the basil has flowered again. I spent a productive hour or two chasing the bees around the basil. The pollen from the basil is a deep red/orange colour.

Who says native bees and honey bees can’t feed on the same sources?

Native Bee

Native Stingless

I’m not quite sure which kind. There are at least 10 kinds of native bees that live in NSW. I’m claiming it as native stingless, or tetragonula.

Honey Bee:

European Honey Bee

Apis mellifera. This is the kind of European honey bee that I have in my backyard. I was a little disappointed when I first didn’t see my bees returning with loads of the red/orange pollen, even though I saw bees on the basil. This means they’re going my further afield. But now, in the past week, I have seen the bees coming back home with their saddle bags packed full of basil pollen.

Blue banded bee:

Blue banded bee

Amegilla cingulata. This one was the hardest to capture a photo of because she was such a ditz. It didn’t take her seconds to decide if she wanted to visit a certain flower, it was milliseconds. So it was very hard to focus the camera in time, before she moved on. These guys are well known for their ‘buzz pollination’, which would be why its so hard to get her to stay still!

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