Weird Food: Waiter, I think there’s some cat poo in my coffee…

After a long hiatus from blogging, I’m finally back in action!

It has taken something I’ve wanted to try for years to force me back into it.

Kopi Luwak is a coffee made from beans which have been partially digested by the small, cat like Asian Palm Civet.

Until recently, the only place I knew of in Australia which served this delicacy was a café in Townsville, and was charging AU$50 a cup for it.

This has all changed of late.  Apparently the coffee was featured in the movie The Bucket List, and since, demand has grown.

This is good news for coffee lovers everywhere.

I had the pleasure of having a Kopi Luwak espresso recently at Olio at St. Leonard’s in Sydney’s North Shore area.

At AU$9 a cup, it definitely isn’t priced like your average coffee, but it was worth every last cent.

The coffee has next to no bitterness, the smoothest coffee I have ever tasted.  This is due to the way the beans are digested.

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David Jones Food Hall’s Sushi Bar

Every now and then I go to David Jones on Market St on a Thursday night to do a bit of shopping.

Inevitably, I end up in the basement in the Food Hall when I’m done with my shopping.

This is the place in the Sydney CBD for high quality gourmet produce, such as marble grade 6+ wagyu beef, fine cheeses, good pâté, spatchcock, rabbit and just about anything else that you often can’t get at your local supermarket or butcher.

The also have several dine-in “bars”.  One of my regulars is the Sushi Bar.  Tonight, as usual, I had sashimi.

I opted for the large assorted sashimi platter, which comes with 22 pieces; a mix of salmon, kingfish and tuna.

It often depends on the day, however usually it is quite good.  Last night it was very good.  It ticked all the boxes in Nick’s trademarked sashimi tasting guide: Read more

Ashield BBQ Korean Restaurant

Mmmmmm Korean food.

Mikey & I had lunch at Ashfield BBQ Korean Restaurant today, which is up the road from his place.  I woke up with a bit of a shocking hangover (typical Saturday morning!), and when he suggested this I was out the door before he could finish the sentence!

We couldn’t resist going with a hotpot.  For the uninitiated, Korean hotpot is a soup which is cooked on the table, and shared amongst everyone.  We ordered the spicy pork and kim chi (asked for it extra spicy).

There was enough here to serve at least four people!  It was fantastic, and disappointing when we got full as we couldn’t keep eating it!  As promised, it came with a little extra spice, and contained obviously pork and kim chi, but also contains noodles and tofu. Read more

Belgian Beer Café

This used to be a semi-regular haunt when I worked in the city, with many a long lunchtime spent there.

These days it’s a bit more of a novelty, and I may end up here for dinner a couple of times a year.

Yesterday was one of my colleague’s last day with the company, and so a group of around 20-30 of us went to the Belgian Beer Café at The Rocks in Sydney for drinks and dinner.

The Belgian Beer Café is in quite an old, heritage listed building, with glass floors in the entrance so you can see rocks forming a natural little cave like thing under the floor.

The beer menu is extensive, with some very nice drops, I like the Chimay Bleue which is a dark, malty full bodied Belgian beer.  If your pockets are deep enough, there is even a $75 a bottle beer available, Deus Brut des Flanders which is brewed in Belgium, and then transfered to the famous caves of Champagne in France where it is matured and nurtured in the same manner as some of the world’s finest Champagnes.

I ordered the filet américain (steak tartare).  It’s quite nice, raw mince meat with capers and onions mixed throughout, served with crusty toast things.  I’ve had it a few times here, but unfortunately never anywhere else though so I have nothing to compare it to!  It was served with a salad, and frites (fries) with mayonnaise.

The damage: $26.50 for the meal, around $10-15 for each beer

Nick’s rating: *** (three out of five stars)

William Yang’s My Generation

William Yang is possibly my favourite photographer.

I’m sure it’s both a mix of his talent, and that of his subject matter which quite often is subculture in Sydney.

William must be in his 60s now, and My Generation chronicles the life of his friends in the 1970s and 1980s Sydney art and gay scenes.

Yang’s preferred way of showcasing his work is by performance.  He basically guides the audience through a 90min slideshow, where he discusses the photos that are being displayed on large projection screens behind him.

The show ends with the poignant statement that William’s photos are like his children, and will be his legacy long after his death.

I hope to get the chance to see more of William Yang in the future!

It’s on until this coming Saturday at the Carriageworks, so get in while you still can!

Nick’s rating: **** (four out of five stars)

Café Enzo

If there is one place in NSW that is synonymous with good food and wine, it has to be the Hunter Valley, about two and a half hours north west of Sydney.

Mikey is from a town called Singleton in the Hunter Valley region, which means we travel there a bit to visit his family.

Pokolbin is the epicentre of the Hunter’s vineyard country, and from time to time we stop there to taste some different wines, and purchase the ones we like.

This weekend we visited Café Enzo in Pepper’s Creek Village.  The cellar door for David Hook is attached.

Café Enzo is inside a lovely old sandstone building, complete with open fireplace.

I had the pan fried salmon with goat’s cheese dumpling, cooked rare.  This was one of the nicest pieces of cooked salmon I’ve had in quite some time.  The skin was deliciously crispy, and the meat cooked to perfection.

The dumplings were spectacular!  Filled with goat’s cheese and spinach, they melted in my mouth. Read more

Nick’s odyssey with the ghost begins: bhut jolokia, part 1

I love chilli.  I can’t get enough chilli.  Nothing is ever hot enough for me.  I used to go into Indian restaurants and ask for them to make their vindaloo as hot as they possibly could, and then some.

So I’ve decided it’s finally time to eat something which I know I can’t handle, and will hopefully shut me up about needing something hotter forever.

This is the bhut jolokia, also known as the ghost pepper.

It is certified as the hottest chilli in the world by the Guiness Book of World Records, after tests performed by the New Mexico State University’s Chile Pepper Institute, apparently the most authoritative academic source of information on chillies in the world.

You can’t seem to buy these things as chillis in Australia.  I’m assuming that there would be such a low market for something like this, that the things would be off by the time they’re sold.

I’ve found it is possible to buy seeds on eBay, however…

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You may have guessed, I have an almost unhealthy obsession with sashimi, and to a lesser extent sushi.

Since my office moved to North Ryde, I’ve been meaning to try Mitzu, the sushi train joint at Macquarie Centre.  At first look, the idea of a sushi train inside a shopping centre doesn’t exactly instil a lot of confidence.

I went there on my own yesterday, and I have to say it was one of the better sushi train experiences I’ve had.  I eat at sushi train places every now and then, but more out of convenience than seeking brilliant, fresh food.  I’ve never eaten at a sushi train that can compete with a proper Japanese restaurant that specialises in sashimi & sushi such as Toko in Surry Hills or Kokoroya in Maroubra.

As far as sushi trains go however, Tomodachi at Broadway & Rhodes are quite good, as are Sushi Rio on Sussex Street and Makoto in Chatswood.  Mitzu was probably at this same level.  The produce was nice and there was a nice range to select from.

The salmon and kingfish sashimi was cut well, and was good quality fish.  It did taste warm and not too fresh, no doubt a result of the standard sushi train problem of the food going around in circles for quite some time before it’s eaten.

Next, I decided to try the salmon aburi (grilled salmon on a bed of rice, basically salmon nigiri but slightly seared).  This was quite nice.  The fish wasn’t flaky and falling apart like it often can be when salmon is cooked.  This was a nice recovery from the not so great sashimi! Read more


Bent at Surry Hills’ Belvoir St. Downstairs Theatre is an effective, at times emotional look at a part of the holocaust some may still not be aware of.

In 1930s Germany, Hitler and the Third Reich started a crack down on gay people, and they were arrested and sent to concentration camps or worse.

The story starts off in Berlin, watching the relationship between Max, the protagonist, and his boyfriend, Rudy (aka the dancer).  Things start to go horribly wrong when someone they’ve just met is arrested in their apartment by the Nazis.

They learn of the crackdown, and flee Berlin, for a short time living in an unemployment camp before being arrested and put on a train to Dachau.

Max is told on the train that pink triangles (the symbol used on the clothing for gay prisoners) were treated worse than anyone in the prison, even the yellow stars (Jews).

Max is forced into a barbaric and painful act to prove he doesn’t know Rudy, and is actually straight.  He earns his yellow star, and forces all thoughts of Rudy out of his head.

He then falls in love with a fellow prisoner, very slowly until he eventually performs a final act of sacrifice to be at peace with himself.

During the last 10mins, I was fighting back a few tears.  The intimacy of the Downstairs Theatre at Belvoir helps make you feel more involved in what you are witnessing.

Nick’s rating: **** (four out of five)

China Doll

Once in a while a restaurant comes around that totally blows me out of the water.  Tonight this happened.

My friend Kurt has been raving about China Doll being his favourite restaurant for years, and though I’ve taken it on board, I’ve never acted upon it.  Tonight, Mikey & I finally did.

The restaurant is in Woolloomooloo in Sydney, on the wharf in a picturesque surrounding.  There are a number of nice looking restaurants all lined up along the wharf, somewhat reminiscent of Opera Quays.

Upon being seated, the waitress asked if we’d dined here before.  She then proceeded to explain to us that they recommend sharing all the dishes to get a broad taste of what is available.  This idea worked very well.

Before I continue, I do have to apologise for the quality of these photos.  I don’t like taking cameras to restaurants, so I’ve been using my iPhone which, to put it kindly, has very poor low light abilities.

We started off with the chilli salt squid and the sashimi of Hiramasa kingfish & ocean trout with blackened chilli dressing.

Fantastic is all I can say.

Both were absolutely divine, and I doubt could be improved upon.  The chilli salt squid was cooked to perfection, Mikey did find one piece that was a little bit chewy, but when eating squid to only find one piece a little chewy is really quite amazing.

The sashimi was prepared to spectacularly.  The blackened chilli dressing was a very nice, refreshing, almost zesty flavor enhancer, and a welcome change to the standard (but still quite nice) soy & wasabi mix. Read more

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