85 Dunning Ave, Rosebery
Kitchen by Mike is my newest food haunt and I love it. I’ve been taking everyone I can possibly grab as well, so have now been for weekday breakfast and lunch, weekend brunch, but not dinner.
The food: There’s no menu, just go up to the food counter and see what’s on. There’s always good bread, and I mean open crumb, moist, crusty sourdough with pepe saya butter. Usually a few interesting salads and some grilled or roast vegetables. A simple pizza with a delicious crust and quiche or tart, pastries and a cake or two for dessert. Everything is served room temperature and they just keep replenishing the food during service. It reminds me of Ottolenghi in London. Lunch is reasonable and normally works out to about $15 per person, depending on what you get.
The plate above has a globe artichoke, a luxury I learnt to appreciate from my stepmother. You peel off the layers one by one, dip them into the homemade mayonnaise and scrape the flesh between your teeth. When you finally get to the heart you discard the furry choke and eat the tender heart and stalk. Also on the plate, a lentil and brussels sprouts salad, a deeply caramelised roast pumpkin wedge with spiced yoghurt. I’ve also tried a wonderful mushroom soup, roast chicken, margherita pizza and coleslaw.
For breakfast I’ve had a bacon buttie and toast with jam, my friends have had the sourdough pancakes with lemon curd, the Boston baked beans with poached eggs and the bircher muesli, all of which are good. There is a limited menu for weekday breakfast; toasted muesli and yoghurt, Bircher, toast with jam and porridge. The weekend breakfast is where they have the most options.
The space: is a canteen in a warehouse space, so as it’s getting chillier, bring something warm to wear. A colleague who came here first told me to leave time to walk around the homewares section before you eat, so that you’re not so distracted by the pretty things and end up ignoring your dinner date.
The coffee: is fantastic. I’m surrounded by Campos and Allpress, Sonoma and Bourke St Bakery all of whom do good coffee so this is stiff competition people! They also have smoothies, fresh juice, iced tea and homemade lemonade that come in cute glass bottles with barber striped paper straws. If you just want coffee and a pastry don’t line up in the big line, just go to the coffee counter and save yourself some time.
First up, please note that Sari Rasa is at 24, not 29 Cavenagh St Darwin, and it’s down an arcade so you can’t see it from the street. I’ve mentioned this first as the address is incorrect on a few other websites and I had a bit of trouble finding it. Luckily there were some friendly locals nearby who had heard of it and pointed me in the right direction.
I had the chicken curry, fish curry with okra and dry beef curry with a little sambal oelek on the side. The dry beef curry is firm, chewy and moreish, almost in the style of beef jerky, and seems to be a local favourite as Jay from the coffee cart who gave me this recommendation insisted I try it.When I was eating my lunch at Sari Rasa a robust man came up to the counter and seemed very happy there was some dry beef curry left as he missed out the other day and was highly disappointed. I love to see people enjoying quality food made with love.
It’s $10 for a small plate, or $11 for a large and you can choose whichever three dishes you like. It was so good I brought some home for Phee, Joel and I to eat for dinner.
…so I left you in Piedmonte, Italy. The journey then continued in our little Alfa across the border into the south of France and the fragrant region of Provence.
We had a forgettable lunch in Nice. Somebody please give me some tips for next time because I thought it was trashy, touristy, dirty and awful. But then again, we were only there for a few hours so maybe that’s not fair. Anyway, we were relieved to get out of Nice and into Grasse, a beautiful little place full of Perfume factories. I dragged Dave to the Fragonard museum and gift shop. Have you seen that episode of Mr Bean in the perfume department? 🙂
We were staying at a little B&B called La Surprise run by an English couple and we had the best breakfast of our trip here. The combination of good (strong) tea and coffee with home made fresh fruit salad along with fresh bread and patisserie from the local boulangerie was magnificent. A pity we only stayed one night.We had a wonderful dinner at a little town 5 minutes drive from there and were lucky to get the last table at a tiny restaurant swathed in red fabric with an interesting looking menu. The waiter was the husband and his wife was the chef.
A spiced dip to start
Deep fried fish balls, delicious though quite rich
A savoury cheesecake
Pesto risotto and pan fried white fish
Some local cheeses
Bananas in baked custard
Some beautiful house made macarons
The next morning we took our host’s recommendation to get off the motorway and take the scenic route to our next stop, Aix en Provence (called ‘Ex’ for short) via the stunning Gorge du Verdon.
Dave did a stellar job of navigating the windy roads with no guard rails and drivers who don’t slow down for blind corners!
It’s embarrassing just how pleased I look with this apple tart that I bought at a little town we stopped at for lunch on the way to Aix-En Provence.
A laid back restaurant we found in Aix that had a delicious foie gras and specialised in grilled meats:
Our accommodation was amazing, one of the most memorable of the trip…Le Clos des Freres Gris:
We dropped our car back at the TGV train station where we caught the fast train up to Paris. Less than 4 hours later and we arrived in Paris! A cab to our apartment where we were met by our greeter who showed us around the apartment, handed us our keys, left us with a bottle of wine and some restaurant recommendations. We felt at home already.
The salted peanuts whet our appetites. I’d love to know if these are cinnamon sticks or cassia bark…
Lightly steamed oysters with ginger, shallots and soy
Chinese pickled vegetables, sweet, salty and sour with crispy wonton skins sprinkled with schezuan pepper & salt
Bugtail wontons with schezuan chilli oil
Crispy prawn wontons with a sweet Vietnamese style dipping sauce
Slow roasted lamb pancakes- peking duck style. The home made sauce was tasty but a little too thin for the application, it dripped everywhere! I am not a big fan of ‘thickened’ sauces (apart from gravy) as a general rule, but here it needs it.
A standout crispy pork belly dish. Salty and moreish, with a refreshing coleslaw packed with fresh herbs to balance the richness of the meat.
The silken tofu was delicate and beautiful with a poached egg in the centre of the plate.
Crispy skin duck with citrus sauce
Stir fried mushrooms, fresh, flavoursome, delicate and a wonderful foil to the rich meats we ordered.
Pears poached in red wine with sour cream and almond praline- cleansing and light
Sorry for those who have had to wait so long for this itinerary, but here it is: our first dive into the north of Italy, the south of France, and a week long stay in the Marais in Paris.
My lovely Dave, who managed to look Italian in Italy, then French in France. I’m pretty sure he could easily do Spain and Mexico with a little bit more stubble 🙂
Roman pizza and Campari
Our original plan to have a few days on an island a few hours from Bangkok was foiled by riots in the city centre, so instead we just broke our flight at the Novotel Bangkok, had a shower and a Thai massage and continued straight on to Rome. We stayed near the Piazza di Spagna (Spanish steps) at the Frattina Terrace, a little B&B which is only open during the month of May. We were five floors up, and as the lift was broken we worked off our pasta on the stairs.
It took us a few nights to find a decent place for dinner, as we were a bit jet-lagged and slept through most dinner times stumbling out at 9 or 10pm for a little bite, but on our fourth and final night we were determined to eat a proper dinner at a tucked away Italian eatery, so we stopped at the wine bar on via Frattina for olives and a glass of wine to fortify ourselves before we stumbled on a delicious and authentic restaurant called Settimio All’Arancio, on via dell’Arancio just a few blocks from our place on via Frattina. The dish above is baby octopus in a delicious sauce.
You can visit their website at settimioallarancio.com
After purchasing some leather gloves and hiring an Alfa Romeo, we were all set to tackle the Italian countryside, Italian roads however, another story. Dave, to his credit managed to steer us safely through, and though we did think Italian drivers slightly mad with the speed at which they took corners, they also had the skills to back it up.
On we went to Greve in Chianti where we stayed at an agriturismo, visited a wine museum, found the most delicious smelling shop for lovers of prosciutto and a sweet little restaurant we loved so much we ate there two nights in a row.
Terre di Baccio, an agriturismo with an outdoor courtyard, vineyards and just down the road from the wine museum.
The Museo del Vino at Greve in Chianti, you can visit the website at museovino.it
I never wanted to leave Antica Macelleria Falorni, the norcineria (butcher) in Greve in Chianti, the most wonderful house of prosciutto I have ever come across.
I have been transported back here by a piece of pungent pancetta that I recently cooked with, amazing how powerful and emotive smell is.
Nerbone is worth a visit, the regional dish of calves hoof was richly savoury, gelatinous and wonderfully rich, I’ve never had a dish quite like it.
Our favourite agriturismo called I due Ghiri (the 2 mice) was in La Spezia, about 40 minutes drive from the Cinque Terre, set in the mountains on a farm. Behind our room were some lovely sheep grazing on the side of the mountain and at the start of the driveway some well cared for chickens. We ate Gaia’s delicious regional cooking with Gaia and Stefano and a few other guests.
A day trip to the Cinque Terre. We parked in Monterosso and had lunch and then took the train down to Riomaggiore.
The local seafood was fresh and tasty
Our next destination was La Morra in the Piedmonte region in the north of Italy near Torino. We stayed at a small winery that made beautiful Barolo wine called Cascina Ballerin.
Per Bacco, a popular restaurant in La Morra with wonderful food, a great local wine list and exquisite service.
The seafood plate
After eating the rich carbonaras of Rome, we welcomed a lighter style of food in the north. The reputation is for rich food, but somehow we found a lightness and modern approach that was delicious and refreshing. I would head back to this area in a heartbeat. Every wine we tried was great, even the cheap wine on the menu was wonderful. A new white wine variety I tried was Favorita, a white wine vaguely similar to Sauvignon blanc.
The tomatoes were so flavoursome, little mini romas…
Home made grissini and soft and chewy fresh bread made with olive oil, delicious.
We ate here two nights in a row as well
The view of the French alps from La Morra
A fun night out with four Danish travellers who shared our love of Barolo
The print on this plate reminds me of something from my mother’s wardrobe. The steak tartare was delicious.
Egg linguine with a ragu sauce of three meats was a dish we ate at several restaurants, and we didn’t mind at all.
Here ends our Roman holiday, the next instalment will be from the South of France up to Paris.
Watching an advertisement for Criniti’s while at the movies didn’t make me want to eat there. However, somehow I developed a raging appetite at the hairdresser after many hours of being analysed, foiled, washed, rinsed, treated, massaged, cut, heat protected, blow dried and styled. My hairdresser mentioned a great meal she’d eaten at Criniti’s about a week ago- lots of fresh seafood, a garlicky tomato sauce and bread for dipping. Then her assistant piped in about the 1m long pizza. I was sold, the greedy beast had won. There would be no healthy Friday night salad, who am I kidding, when do I ever feel like salad on a Friday night?
So we went to Criniti’s Parramatta last night. Called to book at 6:15pm and got a table for 8:30pm. Not a worry, had a bottle of McLeish Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot (wedding research) and some washed rind and blue vein cheese at home which was a nice way to spend the time. We found a free parking spot down the road on George St and got there five minutes early and had to wait a few minutes until the table was ready, but were quite happy with this as there were people queuing up outside.
Once we were seated we soaked up the buzzy vibe of Parramatta on a Friday night. Unsure of serving sizes, I went for an entree size of the Zuppa di Pesce, a thick seafood ‘soup’ of large scampi, prawns, vongole, scallops, crab and calamari in a rich tomato sauce with two slices of fresh white bread on the side. This is definitely not first date food. I am a big fan of seafood served in the shell, and have no problem getting in there with fingers, teeth, whatever, to get at the luscious tender meat, but others may think this too messy for eating out. I was worried about splashing tomato sauce on my new scarf so had to make a bib of my napkin. Sounds attractive no? A Chinotto was perfect with the food.
Dave had Fettucine Boscaiola, also entree size. It was tastier than your average Boscaiola, but not bursting with flavour. A nice, comforting, creamy dish if that’s what you’re in the mood for. It didn’t leave much room for pizza to follow so we had leftovers for lunch the next day.
I’m looking forward to trying the gelato for dessert next time, and am thinking this is the best pizza crust I’ve found west of Haberfield. A crisp but tender thin base with a little extra thickness at the edge and the distinct aroma of the woodfired oven. Addictive.
Recently, Crust Parramatta has been getting regular business from me, and now their only edge over Criniti’s pizza is that they deliver!
291 Church St, Parramatta
Neil Perry’s Spice Temple is located underneath Rockpool Bar & Grill on Bligh Street in Sydney’s CBD. At first we walked past its plasma screen door, assuming it was an advertisement with its virtual shimmering silk curtains. Once we discovered that it was actually the front door we glided down the circular staircase to the industrial looking bar area. The restaurant area however couldn’t be more different. The room is warm, cosy and dark, with the centre of each table lit by a hanging light, so that each dish can be viewed clearly. This ambience is comfortable and relaxing. You can see your dining companion and food but feel bathed in shadow. Very sexy.
The Sheep and the Monkey. I meant to have just one cocktail and then move to a civilised wine. Mmmm. The cocktails are dangerously good. Be warned. After three cocktails I thought perhaps it was time to pause.
The Horse and the Tiger. The Tiger is my favourite. If you are not familiar with the term ‘pistachio fat-washed whisky’, do ask. They’ll tell you how its made. An amazing depth of flavour uncommon in most Sydney cocktails.
Spinach and Sesame Salad. Sweet and tangy.
Crispy pork belly. I don’t really have words to describe. Too good. Must have. Oh ok, found some. Sticky, salty, moreish. Feel bratty, want some now.
Stir fried king abalone mushroom with garlic and chives. Thick, meaty, almost squeaky. Such a filling vegetable dish, delicious.
Fish drowned in heaven facing chillies and Sichuan peppercorns (apparently Sichuan, Szechuan and Szechwan are all acceptable spellings). My favourite choice for drama alone. This dish was covered with many more dried chillies which were removed by the waiter using a spider (large wire spoon). The real star is the Sichuan peppercorn which numbs your tongue and teases you.
My only negative comment I could say about Spice Temple is the double seating. If you prefer to relax into the evening then book the later seating rather than the early one. With some restaurants you are happy to leave at a given time, but here I think you’ll want to linger a while.
10 Bligh Street, Sydney
A few weeks ago we went to Filicudi, an Italian restaurant that came highly recommended by a colleague. So highly recommended in fact that discussion of my future firstborn arose. Don’t worry I didn’t promise anything.
Fiore di Zucchini. These were beautiful and cheesy, but starting with garlic bread and then these was not really a good plan considering we ended up having three courses.
Gnocchi Ragu- tender succulent gnocchi with a simple sauce studded with meat chunks.
Penne Granchi (blue swimmer crab in a ‘pink’ sauce is how this dish was described). This was probably my favourite dish, it absolutely tests the love in your relationship- if you’re willing to share this one then you know you’re on to a good thing.
Costolette d’Agnello. Marinaded lamb cutlets (garlic, rosemary and olive oil?) grilled to the customer’s liking (medium to medium-rare) on a bed of soft polenta that was neither dry nor bland.
Baileys Creme Brulee. With enough Baileys added to the mix so that you can actually taste it. The top was satisfyingly hard and shattered on a firm whack of the spoon.
Written up on the specials board quite simply as ‘Mascarpone’. Described by the waiter as a house special, it was magnificent, a rich, creamy, liqueur-laden tiramisu. I want to go back and try the Pere Filicudi- poached pears.
I also think the pizzas are worth trying as we saw several people walk past, arms laden with pizza boxes looking quite pleased with themselves.
BYO is accepted, and for $2 per person is fantastically reasonable.
11 Ramsay Rd, Fivedock
On the corner of Avoca Street and Belmore Road is a special piece of Randwick’s (and my) history. Once a butcher, a post office, and numerous other establishments including a lovely little cafe called Al Dente where I used to work while at Uni.
A favourite place of mine to go for the food, the service, the ambience and the memories. They still do the Pre-Ritz special where you can have two courses plus tea/coffee for $55. I found it to be as good as ever, excellent value and a fantastic night out.
A leek and potato veloute to whet the appetite
Entree of white asparagus with poached egg, celeriac and manchego
Braised veal shin and spring vegetables
served with roast sweetbread, smoked bone marrow and pearl barley
Macleay Valley rabbit and trompette pie with a ballontine of saddle and baby carrots
A generous serve of Firstlight venison with spiced quince, red cabbage and parsnips
Pear tart fine with prune and almond ice cream
Marscarpone and rhubarb mille feuille with a short rendition of ‘happy birthday to you…’
Restaurant Balzac 141 Belmore Road Randwick NSW 2031 Ph: + 61 2 9399 9660
Tues to Sat – from 6pm
Friday Lunch only – 12pm to 3pm
Last Sunday of every Month – from 6.30pm (Seasonal Degustation only)
Shop 1/8 Dixon St, Sydney
Something has happened at the northern end of Chinatown. There is a whole block full of new places to explore that I have somehow managed to miss. The first trip in remedying this situation was to Uighur Cuisine, the more casual downstairs version next to the upstairs Apandim Uighur Restaurant. Confusing, yes. We sat upstairs for 10 minutes asking the lovely waiter questions while our friend waited at our ‘booked’ table downstairs. No harm done, just a few glasses of free water and a disappointed waiter.
When we finally got together at the same table we were quite excited as the menu was a mix of Turkish, Chinese and something resembling Cajun. Anyway, it was rich, lamby and delicious. This seemingly strange combination menu makes more sense when you learn the Uighurs (there are various spellings) are a Turkic people living mostly in Eastern and Central Asia. See Wikipedia for a little more info.