Posts Tagged ‘Sydney’

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”

Chefs Gallery

Three egg fried rice ($14.90) at Chef’s Gallery doesn’t quite look like the photo in the menu. This was recommended as a ‘must try’.

Chef's Gallery

The egg is diced very small, and the overall fragrance is of the creaminess of the salted egg yolk. The taste is mostly of the creamy grittiness of the salted egg, the sharp onion of spring onion, and crunchy slightly rubbery Chinese pickles. I can’t taste any of the century duck egg. And what is the third egg type? Plain old chicken egg.

The staff? Yes I understand you’re closing up. But don’t push in whilst someone is eating and shove the bill in their face. You could also wait until there is a pause in the conversation before barging in. There is also that little rule about serving: place from the left, clear away from the right.

I think the noise level would be intense when the place is crowded, there were a lot of sheer noise reflecting surfaces.

Would I go again?

I am undecided. It would require a fabulous dish recommendation to get over my reluctance of paying another visit to this place.

Chefs Gallery
Mon- 1200-1500, 1730-“late” (2130-ish on a school night)
Regent Place
Ground Level, Shop 12, 501 George St (Corner Bathurst Street)
Sydney NSW 2000

Justin North demonstration @ the Organic Food Fair

Sarah says: Oh my! The organic expo is on this weekend. Does anyone want to go?

Sure, why not? This year I’m not on holiday at the time.

I was a bit nonplussed at the demonstrations on offer whilst we were at the fair, but Sarah convinced me to watch the ‘cooking with seasonal vegetables’ one. Why? Because it featured Justin North of Becasse fame.

Justin @ Fair

Two dishes.

Dish one: Thyme roasted Heirloom carrots with octopus

Dish two: Blue swimmer crab with potatoes two ways

Dish one prep:

Firstly you need to slow cook your ocotpus. Place soy sauce, sliced ginger and crushed garlic with 1kg cleaned octopus in two litres of water. This should simmer for 80 deg Celsius for four hours.

Justin used carrots that were purple on the outside, yellow in the inside.
These you could roast like the potatoes, described below. You cn also use the shavings with thyme and garlic to make a stock.
However, for this dish he pan fried purple carrots with olive oil, thyme and salt to caramelise and then roast as per potatoes.

Another good flavour combination is to use the carrots with star anise, coriander seeds or the stalks. Carrot also goes very well with ginger.

Dressing for the carrots is as follows. Start with three heaped tablespoons of mayonnaise. Add a tablespoon of white (sweet) miso. Drop of soy sauce. A squeeze of mandarin juice. I noticed that he sneakily used some kikkoman soy instead of the spiral foods sponsor.

Separately, clean around top of baby carrots with a knife, scraping the dirt away. Panfry these as above, but no need to roast in the oven.

Dressing for baby carrots starts with olive oil. Add in grated cucumber, mandarin zest and lime juice. Finish with grated baby turnip.

Dish Two Prep:

Cook blue swimmer crab in boiling water for 6 min, allow to cool whilst preparing other parts of the dish.

Place potatoes in a roasting tray on a bed of salt, thyme, and crushed garlic. Seal the pan with foil, tucked in around the edges.

Roast for 45 minutes in a 180-200 degree oven.

Once time is up, you will need to scrape off the salt which will embed itself into skin. Scoop out the inner flesh of potato and crush with fork – add olive oil to make mashed potato. Deep fry the leftover potato skin. use a twig of thyme to test if the oil is hot enough.

Pick out the crab meat from the now cool shell.

Dressing for potatoes goes like this. Cook butter in a small frypan for less than three minutes so it just starts to burn. Add minced garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice and a touch of olive oil. Finish with some shredded crab meat and chive snippings.

Now to finish!

Heap a mound of mashed potato onto the plate topped with crab butter, and crunchy potato skins. Top with thyme leaves and pea shoots. This dish is all about contrast.

With the second dish, you can cut out the purple carrots in different shapes. Add the slow cooked octopus. Drizzle the miso dressing around the dish and top with nasturtium flowers. Important! Remove green part of nastusiums because they can have a bitter taste.
Justin North's Food

What would you do if McDonalds went Organic?

I have tried to read Michael Pollan’s book In defence of Food. I think I got to the end of chapter one, and then got distracted by other things. When I saw that he would be speaking at The Opera House, I had to go.

When he came on stage, Michael seemed very tall and gangly. I think he had a slight limp.

Michael Pollan @thehouse

Below is a scribble of the ideas with a blunt pencil on the back of my ticket(s) in the dark from his conversation with Rebecca Huntley.

[RH]How to have children who are not fussy eaters?
[MP]Abandon the food pyramid, as it sends the wrong message.
[Me] If you want to be the best, you want to climb the mountain. Who hasn’t wanted to concentrate their eating efforts at the “top” of the pyramid?
[MP] Apparently the food pyramid has been abandoned in the USA.
[MP] Involve the kids in demystifying food, get the involved in the preparation. Usually they will want to try something they have prepared, even if it isn’t something they would “normally” eat. There is suspicion associated with sauces – what are you trying to hide?

[MP] “Nutrisinism” is the scourge of real food at the moment. You are not eating “food”, you are eating “nutrition”. MP is astounded that in the Australian context that you can get cereals that have “fibre”, “protein” (the latest buzz “additive”), “women’s special nutrition” – WTF?
[MP] “Locavore” type eating (eating locally/160 km diet) is more of a way of keeping money in farmers hands, remember you can’t rely on global food chains because they are at the whim of Wall Street/stock speculators, and they are fossil fuel dependant.
[Me] Locavore type eating is more of an attitude, taking responsibility and thinking about where your food comes from. There is no need to be millitant about eating locally – just be aware when you get your morning coffee: was this grown/roasted in Australia? Indonesia? PNG? Or has it travelled from Africa?

[MP] What would you do if McDonalds went organic?
[Me] Whoa. Celebrate. No wait. Organics is now mainstream… should I be rebelling against that on principle?
[MP] McDonalds may now be “organic”, but it is still at the end of a very long industrial supply chain*.
[Me] * selling a homogenous product that is the same from coast to coast, country to country. What about the local farmers? Can you have highly mechanised organic farming?
[MP] We could have organic corn farm growers trying to put their organic high fructose corn syrup into everything.#
[Me] Ew on the high fructose corn syrup.

[MP] 75% of the work in the health insurance/hospitals in the USA is because of chronic health conditions, which are as a result of diet.
[MP] The USA legislatative process ties two bills together. So if you want to vote for food stamps so that people living beneath the poverty line can have food, you are also voting on certain agriculture-related legislation.
[MP] so the interesting thing here is that the increased costs to the US health system have been a result of poor diet from the farming subsidies which pushed the growing of the corn/soy monoculture! The farmers received all these subsidies to grow something, and then looked for ways to sell it. Thirty years on, they have succeeded, but the health system is paying for it. We are paying twice over for these subsidies!

[MP] In order to achieve the biggest impact on food/excess calories: attack the consumption of soda (soft drink). In New York – the mayor can dictate the size of soft drink cups in movie theatres. Bloomberg wanted to restrict the size of soft drink sizes to 16 oz (500mL), from its current super size of 64 oz (2 litres). This is just to make people think when they order their soft drink: do I really want to buy 2 cups of softdrink. The legislation was defeated because of lobbying and pressure from the soft drink multinationals.

[MP] When women went to work, the food industry stepped in and directed all the advertisments to women. This short-cut the conversation that should have happened between men and women about the division of labour between men and women. It is still a conversation that needs to happen.

[MP] The tagline from his book “In defence of food”, which really summarises how to eat: Eat Food. Mostly Plants. Not too Much. really was polarising. It pissed off the carnivores (too far), it pissed off the vegetarians (not enough), and it pissed off the vegans (not far enough). It’s only a guideline though, it isn’t meant to be a be all and end all.
[MP] When, traveling I never eat airport food – in such a huge sterile environment, it is hard to ensure the quality and origin of your food. On the plane I eat as a vegetarian.

[audience] there’s no equivalent to Wholefoods (organic grocery store) in Australia*, what do you think of the concept?
[me] *yes there is! It was called macro, and they got bought out by Woolies
[mp] this was mentioned in the book, the omnivores dilemma. My issue with Wholefoods is that they have all these posters up on the walls in their stores proclaiming about how they support the small farmer and local growers. However, they are just as industrialized as other shops with the produce coming from larger farms in California and being shipped to New York.

So the CEO of Wholefoods invited me to a meeting to discuss my concerns. In a canny piece of marketing, he then wrote an open letter to me in a newspaper stating how he was going to source more locally, and set up a small farm fund to help support them. He was using ME to say “look at us, how we listen to our critics and respond to feedback.”
[audience] so what is the best method of farming?
[mp] It will be something that will involve animals. It won’t be just a monoculture. I talked about farming in the omnivores dilemma. Joel Salatin does something that he calls ‘grass farming’. First he lets the cows feed in a certain patch for 24 hours. He moved them on and waits three days. The chickens (‘egg farm’) is now rolled in, and they go straight for the cow pats. They tear these to bits, looking for all the grubs and maggot larvae. The field is then left to lie fallow for an extended period – say three months.

[mp] Joel made me get down on my hands and knees and look at the soil of one of the fields that he farms this way. This is the first time I have ever gotten down on my hands and knees to look up close at soil and grass. The soil was in fabulous condition – it was rich and he was actually adding to the soil whilst growing grass. How is this possible?

[mp] every time a ruminant (cow) grazes the tops of a certain plant, it shrinks down its root mass to match below how tall it is above. The earthworms and the grubs move in, turning the excess rootball into ‘soil’.

[mp] you can’t outsource something as important as feeding ourselves to large corporations. On average in America, the amount of food preparation time is 27 minutes. That’s over three meals.
[me] OMG. I just spend 30 minutes minimum on preparing dinner.
[mp] I saw the most amazing thing in the Australian supermarket whilst I’ve been here. It’s this little plastic grenade that you rip the top of off and glug glug, drink the contents down. It’s breakfast. Instead of spending 13 minutes eating a bowl of cereal: you chug down this grenade of ‘breakfast’.

[mp] there is not a trade off between sustainable and quality food.

[audience] your opinion on genetically modified food?

[mp] the thing that the GM growers keep pushing for is higher yield, but we’re not there yet. GM was introduced in 1998 with the promise of solving the world food crisis. But we’ve had some increase in disease resistance.

But that’s not the premise that we got sold GM on. What they’re doing is a sales technique called ‘bait and switch’. We are being sold one product on the basis of the promise of a future result.

[mp] In 2022, I don’t think we will be talking GM. Why? When GM started in 1998, I think the premise was 1 gene = the yield switch. But it is not a one to one relationship, and not as simple as the GM companies first thought. The human genome has been sequenced and we have less genes than a pea!

So all in all, a very interesting talk. Not having fully read one of his books, I might have to revisit them.

Certainly some ideas worth investigating further.

Eleni’s at Civic (closed)

Eleni's at Civic by A Sydney Foodie
Eleni’s at Civic, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

I have been wanting to eat here for a million years ever since it opened.
The bar staff are very warm and friendly, but not much help when it comes to recommending dishes: “Everything is good”. When asked to make up a mocktail, they happily oblige: I end up with something pink and lemony and it is delicious.

The restaurant is full on a Friday lunchtime, so we are seated in the pub area, but have access to the full Eleni’s menu. One of our party is on a budget, so we order to share: vine leaves ($8.50), lamb moussaka ($18, also available as a mixed vegetable version), side salad ($10) and the lamb cutlet special ($15).
I haven’t really had much experience with Greek Food, apart for several banquets at Diethnes down the road. I love the slow cooked lamb there, as well as the rice.

The vine leaves (8) are small and very tasty. The dressing on the salad is very moreish (someone ends up drinking it!). The salad itself comes with large chunks of cucmber, different coloured capsicums and two kinds of olives. The moussaka is topped with a layer of ricotta cheese, which has been browned under the grill. The layers have been achieved with slices of potato, and the dish is warm and filling. The lamb cutlets are tiny, and only one of the three comes on the bone. The meat itself is quite pink, with the sauce very salty because of the olives.

I loved the salad and the moussaka, so next time I will have to try the vegetarian moussaka.

Eleni’s Restaurant at the Civic Hotel
388 Pitt Street (corner Goulburn Street)
Sydney NSW 2000
For reservations over 8 people please call:
02 8080 7013 or 02 8080 7031
Monday to Sunday
From 12pm
Monday to Thursday
From 6pm


Jasmin Restaurant, Lakemba

A colleague had told me about El Jannah, and the tip had paid off. He had also told me about Jasmin Restaurant Lakemba as being one of his favourite places to go. The kids were about to visit, and more mouths means you can try more dishes, so I made a booking.
Except in a brain freeze moment, I had Jasmin Bankstown in my head.
After a shuffling of bookings, we fronted up at Jasmin restaurant Lakemba at 830pm and worked out why we didn’t need to book: there were three tables free and we were in the last stages of service!
So we got a mixed plate which contained hummus, babaganoush, two felafel, one thing like a felafel but with meat inside. There was the complimentary plate of pickles and basket of bread including chilli pickles which were quite bitter, and segments of raw onion. Whoa. A plate of felafel went down very well, and very quickly! They were football shaped, crispy on the outside, delicate on the inside with little flecks of green from the split peas I think. This and the tabouli were favourites around the table. During our initial order, when we also asked the waiter if he thought we had enough food for four; he recommended that we also try the plate of lamb shish kebab. The meat itself was quite fatty, but provided a nice change from the other flavours.
It was a lot of fun assembling your own little wrap with lashings of toum, tabouli and chilli sauce. I was surprised how filling felafel can be! With a bottle of Pampa tamarind drink each, and one coconut pudding (Muhallibia) to go, the bill was approximately $12.50 per person. The Muhallibia looked quite solid, but was very light in texture.
Afterwards, we wanted to try the sweets at Patisserie Arja but they were already shut for the night!
I worked out later how I had confused restaurants. I had overheard a radio station doing an outside broadcast from Lakemba Mosque. As part of this OB, the chef of Jasmin Bankstown had done a bit if a promo and cooked up some dishes live on air. The secret behind the light and fluffy interior, and crunchy exterior of each felafel us to cook it fresh everyday! Talk about subliminal messaging.

Jasmin Restaurant
30b Haldon Street, Lakemba
Telephone 02 9740 3589
Open 0830-2130, every day.