Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

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)

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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Mitzu

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

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

Bakehouse Garden

It has been months since I’ve had Korean BBQ.  I’ve had a hankering for it for ages, and so last night we decided to do it.

Strathfield is as close to Little Korea as Sydney gets, in fact the Sydney Morning Herald called it “Sizzler Central”, referring to the innumerable number of Korean BBQ joints there.  Having only eaten à la carte at Strathfield Korean restaurants before, we figured this would be a great BBQ opportunity.

After a quick Google, we discovered Bakehouse Garden in North Strathfield.

George St in Strathfield is a very surprising find.  Full of nice looking restaurants and people dressed well, you would swear you weren’t in the western suburbs (albeit the inner west).  Nothing against Sydney’s western suburbs, of course!

The restaurant looked chic and modern (at least for a Korean restaurant), and there was a pretty even mix of Koreans and Caucasians.  This at first was a little concerning, as generally a majority Korean mix tends to be indicative of a good Korean restaurant in Sydney.

Let me tell you though, this was completely unfounded! Read more

Medusa Greek Taverna

Medusa only popped up a few years ago on the corner of Market and Kent Streets in Sydney.  I didn’t think it would last in the position it was in.

Thankfully I ate my words last night, the third time I’ve had the pleasure of dining at Medusa.  It was packed.  It is always packed.  At lunch it’s packed.  At dinner it’s packed.

This is a good sign of the quality of food to come.

We started off with some dips and warm pita bread.  The four of us shared melitzanosalata (eggplant dip), fava santorinis (chick pea dip) and tzatziki.

Dips are one of the things I absolutely love about Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine.  They did not disappoint last night.  They were full of flavour, and plentiful!

For the mains, three of us ordered the same thing, Medusa’s arni sto fourno, which is a slow roasted side of lamb, served with potatoes cooked in lemon butter.  The meat literally just fell off when you went to cut it, and seemed to melt in your mouth.  It was amazingly tender.

Later in the evening, Peter Koutsopoulos, the owner was talking to us about his secrets.  He says that he hates modern ovens, especially fan forced ovens and uses only old fashioned ovens in his restaurant kitchens.  He has a more modern oven at home, and can never cook the lamb as nice as he does at the restaurant. Read more

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