Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Olives, three ways

Olives! Available as a crop to swap. I got about 1kg (and then another 1.3kg later) from one crop swapper of mostly black olives. I swapped a hairy winter melon cross, about 1.7kg.

My dream olive is a green sicilian olive from Darling Mills Farm; or a smoked olive picked up from the Orange Grove market.

I tried three ways of preparing my olives.

1. heavy salt brine
(1 litre water, 1 cup liquid)
To tell the correct amount of salt, you float an egg in it. The first egg chosen was a little long in the tooth, so I then used a slightly younger egg (3 weeks old). Then I read up at skillcult, how to make a Sicilian style olive, but more importantly, proportions of salt to water was given.

2. A dry salt pack

This I got from milkwood permaculture. You put a layer of olives in your jar, then cover with salt. Repeat.

I was at a little loss as to what to do with the olives that had slightly bruised or bad bits. My source of the olives said to throw them out, because they turned mushy. My maltese neighbour told me that she put them all in , warts & all. I made a slight compromise, chopped the bad bits off, but then I fermented them separately in a heavy salt brine. I figured that with the extra exposed surface area, they would take less time to ferment.

Here they are (left to right, as above):

Olives, two ways

I’m already having trouble from stopping my olives from floating to the surface, and my weights are obviously not weighing them down.

I also notice the bubbles of the fermentation process coming to the top. About a week in, I tried one of the olives. When I cracked open the lid, I noticed the aroma was starting to smell like the familiar ‘olive’ type smell, but it was still quite bitter. I also noticed that the colour actually starts leaching a little out from the partially green and black olives, so they turn more green.

With a later batch of green olives (swapped for a pumpkin, which I swapped previously), even though I know that they weren’t the Sevillano type, I thought that I should ferment them the skill cult way.

3. Skillcult way
One litre water. 1/4 cup salt. 1/4 white vinegar. I chucked an orange leaf in to add a little tannin, to follow in the steps of my neighbour.

I can’t wait to try the finished products!

HCB Comparo, 2017 Edition

I wasn’t planning on doing this, honest. But since Easter was such a long way away from the indulgence fest known as Christmas, and the supermarkets just happened to start baking these pretty much on Boxing Day… I ended up eating just a few. Then of course, I had to take a photo, and after that I might as well keep looking for my favourite bun of all time.

Sonoma Not Cross Buns:

Sonoma not cross bun

Love this. By not putting a cross on the bun, all and sundry from all religious denominations can eat it. First bun I ate cold, I couldn’t stop raving about it. OK, so the ‘s’ was a bit tough to eat, but the aroma, I couldn’t stop inhaling it. I think it was the orange glaze. The fruit had been soaked in possibly earl grey tea. The second bun I ate warm after heating in the microwave. There was a very intense cinnamon aroma. The bread had a ‘dough-y’ texture. Fruit mix included orange peel.

$3.50 Each, $19 for six.
Sonoma Bakery Cafes @ Alexandria, Bondi, Glebe, Paddington, Rosebay, Waterloo, Woollahra.

Stoneground Bakery:

Stoneground bakery HCB

Available in blueberry (slightly blue cross), raspberry and white chocolate (pink-ish cross), and “normal” fruit. I bought the latter, and probably didn’t eat it at its best. Overnight in my fridge turned it rock hard. Even after microwaving it, the bun was just ‘meh’. I couldn’t remember any fruit apart from the sultanas.

$2.20 each, $9 for six.
Stoneground Bakery in Annandale and Hunters Hill.

Zumbo’s Fruit HCB:

Zumbo HCB

I had to check my records (blog) to work out if I had tried the Zumbo HCB in the past. Turns out no, I had only tried the chocolate version. This was heated up in the microwave. I got a slightly odd scent above the cinnamon note that I couldn’t quite place. Too much yeast?

This year I tried again the chocolate version, it seem less intense that four years ago; more of a ‘cocoa HCB’ rather than a dense chocolate mudcake.

$2.20 Each, $12.50 for six.
There are Zumbo stores in Rozelle, Star City (Pyrmont), QVB (Sydney City).

Boon HCB:

Boon HCB courtersy of Boon Cafe

Photo courtesy of Boon Cafe Instagram. I’ve been here several times checking out the baked goods, and suddenly there was a hot cross bun. Buttery flavour with a sweet glaze. The cross has a nice chew texture. Made with spelt flour!
Boon Cafe, 425 Pitt Street Haymarket.

Campos Coffee HCB:

Campos coffee HCB

I couldn’t resist, the buns were so enormous and a glossy dark chocolate brown with the glaze. The cross marked ontop was a bit tough to eat. High on the cinnamon factor. We spied a little orange peel and a little red cranberry (or possibly currant). Very buttery flavour.

$3.50 Each, $19 for six.
Campos Coffee, 193 Missendon Road, Newtown 2042.

So for 2017, I have to say that the Sonoma HCB with lots of glaze, eaten cold was my favourite. I could not stop inhaling that lovely scent, or gobbling up the buns.

Devon Cafe, Surry Hills

I had the opportunity to go to a work conference in the city, so I went to bed early, and caught an early train into central station. Devon Cafe was the destination, and I had a mere 40 minutes to order, consume, and then walk to Hyde Park. Truffle cheese toasties are only available when in season, and only on the weekend. Darn it! Worker Bees need truffle toasties too!

Two breakfast dishes caught my eye, and after being reassured that it would take ten minutes, I made my choice.

Breakfast with the Sakuma’s ($25):

Breakfast with the Sakuma's

Miso grilled king salmon,smoked eel croquette, 63′ egg, radish petit salad & kewpie mayonnaise. This had a extra unami scattering of seaweed and sesame flakes, plus some brown crunchy stuff that I couldn’t identify. The croquette was mostly rice, and very crunchy on the outside. It came with lots of different elements that kept me interested, all the way to the end. I couldn’t really use the mayonnaise as I found that the salmon was quite rich even without it.

The other dish that piqued my interest *had* been the Eggs Blini – for the mere existence of the blini, but having seen my communal table mate get his serving, I was very happy with my choice.

Ovvio Ginger Zap tea ($6.5):

Ginger Zap Tea

This was nice and tingly ginger flavour. I was surprised that it didn’t come served with honey, but then I didn’t ask. It felt like such a waste to use this loose leaf ‘tea’ tissane only once, so I took the remainder with me in a little container and enjoyed its zippiness for the rest of the day.

Crop and Swap Feb 2017

I haven’t attended a crop and swap in quite a while; one because they’re an 80km round trip for me, and secondly – I’ve run out of honey! I haven’t harvested honey since November 2016. The season has been a bit odd and a lot of colonies have failed around the Sydney basin due to infestation of small hive beetle overcoming them, or not enough pollen/nectar due to the funny weather.

Up until now, I have just been doing one-on-one swaps, and racking up an incredible number of kilometres on the car.

But for the last crop and swap for February 2017, I figured that I would make an effort to head to the proper event in Lane Cove.


Crop and swap – out:

Crop and swap - out

This is what I brought with me to the swap event. Two pots of thyme. Two jars of preserved guava – from 2015. I didn’t think it would be safe to bring or subject anyone else to my jars of unset seville marmalade (5 years ago), or various guava jams and guava jellies, made even longer ago! Two jars of kombucha scoby “jerky”.Two packets of native frangipani seeds, collected from my own tree. Beeswax (of course), some rendered as cupcakes, and some as it had come out of my solar wax extractor.

Crop and swap – in:

Crop and swap Feb 2017 - in

1.5litres of worm wee. Kale. Warrigal greens. Genovese Basil. Armenian cucumber. 2 cloves of garlic. 2 finger limes. 1 lime. Lemon balm (plant). 3 chilli peppers – one of them was a scotch bonnet. I love getting chillies, I love their shape, but I can’t eat them!

I had put in a special request for bee friendly plants, so I ended up with several kinds of salvia cuttings (black knight, hot lips, something with bluish flowers, one with lilac/blue flowers); Fruit salad sage cuttings and indian borage. There was a shopping bag filled with chocolate mint. I was debating whether or not I could try and and get a curry leaf branch to take as a cutting (since I had failed earlier in the month), and then another crop swapper offered me a seedling from her garden, I just had to pop past on my way home.

For the seeds I got some for crookneck squash, kohlrabi, dill, and ‘warpaint watermelon’ – which were a wonderful iridescent blue colour. With a name like that, I thought the watermelon would be similarly coloured, but a search for information on the seeds says not.

My drive home was in a scented lemon-ish, chocolate mint haze.

I then spent the afternoon potting my newly acquired cuttings in the glorious, glorious sprinkling rain, and playing “identify this cutting”.

I stir fried the warrigal greens as a side dish to dinner

I turned the fruit salad leaf cuttings (which I had had taken off to reduce transpiration loss) into a iced tea tissane:

Herb infusion

Sydney Festival Village 2017

I went to the Sydney Festival village this year, not because I was seeing a show, but because I wanted to try a burger from Mary’s. I had seen their burger truck, briefly at the Big Design Market 2016 (Sydney Edition), but the queue was too long for my tastes.


Mary’s Burger ($12):

Mary's Burger

Toasted plain bun, slice of tomato,”mary’s sauce”, melted cheese, beef patty, butter to make the bun crispy.

This was quite tasty; and the bun remained crispy on the inside to the last bit. The special Mary’s sauce is probably just the same as the special McDonald’s sauce on a Big Mac.

Mary’s CBD has the same burger for $10, so there is a slight premium for the portable Mary’s/village atmosphere.

Since it was taking *so long* for my burger to be made, and I was hungry, I also ordered from the Bodega stall.

Corn and Cheese Tamale ($12):

Corn and cheese tamale

A proper tamale is corn flour (masa harina), add various flavourings like meat, fat, garlic, onion packed into corn husks and steamed. It ends up log shaped. This was kind of like a polenta ‘mush’, but very tasty (deep fried corn chips), all the same. Perhaps I’ll do this sort of thing to my polenta next time I cook it at home.

Sydney Festival Village
Hyde Park North (near Archibald Fountain)
Until Sunday 29 January 2017
Mon: Closed
Tue-Fri: 1630 till “late”
Sat-Sun: 12noon till “late”

Petaling Street Malaysian, Haymarket

When Petaling Street (Pe-TAH-ling) first opened, I remember seeing queues up to 10 deep waiting outside the store to get in. Time has moved on, there are still queues outside Mamak a few blocks away (I can’t understand why), but people have moved on from Petaling Street. This is a shame, because when I final got my act into gear to go and visit, there is an extensive menu of Malaysian dishes, including hawker/street food, roti and teh tahrik.

Kopi ice ($3.80):

Kopi Ice
I have missed out on my usual morning coffee today, so I order Malaysian style coffee with ice. It is also served in a hot version, but I decide on the cold in anticipation of the chilli heat that I will be soon consuming. This has both condensed milk and evaporated milks in the mixture. I’m sure a similar effect can be had by adding a packet of three-in-one coffee mixture and ice, but it is refreshing nonetheless.

Perusing the menu outside, I have picked out the items that I wouldn’t mind trying if only I had several stomachs available. Nasi Lemak, Rotis (both savoury and sweet), as well as my stalwart, Assam Laksa.

Hainanese Chicken ($11.50):

Hainan Chicken

My dining companion picks this dish because it comes with the most amazing chilli sauce – both red and green. I remember seeing these lying innocently in little dishes as we walked in through the entrance. The chicken itself is served with a bowl of rice flavoured with chicken broth.

Assam Laksa ($11.80):

Assam Laksa

Waah. This dish is so very very yellow. I have never seen such a yellow coloured assam laksa, it must be the turmeric. There is a good stash of sliced galangal, mint and chilli piled on top. I carefully take the chillis and put them aside. That way lies madness. Instead of sardines out of a tin, we have just cooked sardine fillets. The pineapple is sliced thinly into strips. The rice noodles are fat and unctuous, and continue to fatten in size and contribute to the thickness of the broth the longer that it takes me to eat.

Although I have been told that the assam laksa at Petaling Street is one of the best in the world, it doesn’t quite float my boat. My usual complaint of ‘sameyness’ throughout the dish means that towards the end, I just can’t finish it. The broth is very good, and I think that I have drunk most of it. I will have to return another day to try the other dishes on offer.

Petaling Street Malaysian Food
street: 760 George St, Haymarket NSW 2000
Phone: +61-2-9280 1006

Mon-Fri, Sat Sun: 1100-2300.

Bistrode CBD

It was lucky we had booked early, as there was a large party scheduled shortly after our arrival. We arrived armed with an entertainment card, giving us a little bit of a discount for the night’s dinner.

Bread & butter:

bread & butter

The sourdough on the left is from Iggy’s. The rye is from grain bakery in Alexandria. Really a rye? Perhaps a half rye, half white mix. The butter was an adorable looking pattie from Pepe Saya. It’s not individually wrapped, but there is a little sticker on top. On Mondays there is no bread delivery from Iggy’s, thereby answering the little question I had whilst eating at Three Blue Ducks.

I was tempted by the corned beef ($36.50), which came with kipfler potato salad & English Condiments – ooh a chance for cumberland sauce? I have had corned beef twice in my life. Once at a friend’s place, and she had home cooked I, and I found it a bit meh. The second time as a random occurrence when we were out at a remote National Park near Broken Hill, and were invited by a local aboriginal family to have lunch (Christmas leftovers), back at their place. Oh my god. That was the best tasting meat I have ever tasted. Perhaps I was lacking in salt, being out in 30 deg C + temperatures daily, but my word it was delicious.

I was talked out of this by my mum, who insisted that I get “fresh meat”, rather than pickled meat. So I went full pescetarian.

Gold Band Snapper with roof top cherry tomatoes and Marjoram ($36):

Gold Band Snapper

The cherry tomatoes are indeed from this very roof at 52 King Street, and not from one of the other Merivale properties. There is a combination of red cherry, yellow cherry and some other full sized tomatoes chopped into segments. The fish had nice crispy skin, and I really enjoyed the accompanying ‘tomato’ juices which were mopped up very nicely with the leftover bread. I thought the marjoram tasted like oregano – later research told me that they’re in the same family, and in some middle eastern countries, marjoram is synonymous with oregano!

Rump steak ($38):

Rump Steak

There was a “parsley and caper” salad, dressed with lemon juice, quite tart/salty in taste.. We had asked for the parsley and garlic butter to be served separate (rather than dripping onto the steak). Perhaps we missed out on some of the flavor by doing it this way…? The steak is perfect at medium rare with a nice crisp edge and red on the inside. It is a nice steak.

Kurobuta Pork Cutlet, Apple Slaw ($38.50):

Kurobota Pork

Kurobuta pork comes from black berkshire pigs, the source of the most delicious (and expensive) ham. I found this pork a tad dry, but there was a little bit of brown juice you could swirl your meat into, as well as a nice peach based relish. The slaw however – radish, apple, spring onion – all fine. But the mayo that it was combined with I found too thick and cloying for my tastes. Perhaps I am too used to my own version of slaw, in which I use yoghurt as the combining ingredient.

Dessert. Can I fit this in?

The honey tart comes highly recommended, as does the brioche french toast. This is the first time that I have seen a book for sale on the dessert menu.

After poking and prodding of our stomachs, we declare that we can possibly share a dessert.

Goats Cheese Cake ($18):

Goats curd cheesecake

This comes with fresh figs, cured figs, fresh raspberries (1 each), and raspberry puree. This is more like a whipped goat cheese log, rolled in crispy biscuit crumbs. I believe that the goats cheese is from Willowbrae, one of my favourite producers at my farmers markets. The ‘cheese’ feels really light and airy, I could keep eating all day. The cured figs have us intrigued because it isn’t just a simple dried fig, it has been marinated in something else that we can’t quite place our finger on. Our waitress just gives us the hint that the curing process is really involved, and involves balsamic vinegar. Oooh!