Swine & Co – CBD

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Alex: In the past couple of years Sydney City has become a hub for innovative ideas and fantastic food from all cultures. Swine and Co is a semi new kid on the block opening within the year and has since created some well deserved buzz and is known for it’s suckling pig and slow roasted cuts.
_MG_7767With an intimate mezzanine level you are taken down to a beautifully dark and moody dining area. This is no place for vegetarians, especially considering all the framed images of pig feet and so forth adorning the walls. Clever though.

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To start we were brought a little (cotton) bowl of breads including a rye to a flavourful yorkshire pudding and a cheesy/buttery roll similar to a croissant that was then lathered on with butter with bacon bits. Genius!_MG_7776

Joining me in my meaty adventure tonight was my good friend Isabella. Since she is a journalist lets just go out on a limb here and call her notepad (makes absolute sense right). We decided to share what we ordered tonight so to start we got the  Riverlea Pork Schnitzel with Anchovy Butter and Lemon $28. An absolute whopper of a meal. I was not expecting such a large portion size, but thankfully it did not disappoint. The crumbed outer layer was ear shatteringly crisp and surprisingly salty. The pork itself was succulent and juicy and helped to balance the strong salty flavour. I did try the anchovy butter but I wasn’t a fan so I was happy that it came on the side. This is a must order especially if you’re starving!

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As a side we couldn’t go past the Hand Cut Chips w. Rosemary Salt and Aioli $10. Notepad and I both agreed the chips were ridiculously salty and as we got to the bottom of the bowl they became almost inedible. The aioli was again covered with tiny little bacon bits and was delicious.

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Probably my favourite sauce ever, is a pumpkin, ricotta and sage so I couldn’t not order the Gnocchi w. pumpkin, ricotta, sage and amoretti $22. This was probably one of the best versions of this dish that I have ever had! The gnocchi melted in your mouth but then you were bombarded with the sage and amoretti flavour. It was great to have such a contrasting meal to the schnitzel.

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Well my meaty ladies and gentlemen, if you haven’t made the trip to Swine and Co, as they like to say “Come on in and Swine with us” Next time I’m going to have to get the infamous pig! _MG_7786Until next time!

Alex Squadrito

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Da Orazio Pizza + Porchetta – Bondi

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_MG_9193Bianca: Pizza, something I don’t have often but when I do…I want it to be good. No Dominos, no Pizza Hut. I was drawn to ‘Da Orazio Pizza + Porchetta’ for two reasons, well three now that I think about it. The pizza, the pork and the name. Feeling I needed to visit just to see if they did my dad’s namesake justice, an Orazio or Aussie ‘Oris’ as he’s known here in Straya.

Just opposite the recently opened Papa’s Pasticceria, Da Orazio is nestled in a somewhat Italian corridor, with a deli next door and ‘A Tavola’ upstairs. A brainchild of ‘Icebergs’ Maurice Terzini inside it’s all muted whites, bare wood panels and a marbled bar. Heading the restaurant is former Popolo/Icebergs chef Orazio D’Elia (and my Nonno will approve here) a former Neapolitan.

_MG_9209Alex and I arrived just after 5pm to an almost empty restaurant, with most people most probably still on the beach, it was such a gorgeous day. Perhaps they’re seen as the prized seats in the restaurant but we were directed to the stool seats that line the perimeter of the space. Most of the time it’s great to have your back to most people in a restaurant so they can’t see you stuffing your face but in this case the seats were terribly uncomfortable.

It was nice to see/ hear that most of the waiters/waitresses themselves were fresh off the boat and could hear them talking in dialect to each other. We were brought a little pouch full of cutlery, literally 20 or so knives and forks which we found funny.

To start we shared the ‘Capricciosa’ – Fior di Latte, San Marzano Tomato, leg ham, mushroom, artichoke, black olives. $21. Alex ever the pain in my behind, wanted it without the mushrooms, the waitress advised they couldn’t just put them on half so we went without. Cooked in a traditional brick wood fired oven, this was one of the best pizzas I have eaten in Australia. Granted that only encompasses Sydney & Melbourne but I have no qualms saying it. It wasn’t ‘soupy’ which is a by-product of its very thin base and centralisation of toppings.  It is a traditional Neapolitan style pizza, very thin/ scant toppings. When I say scant I don’t necessarily mean stingy, which can sometimes be the case with this style of pizza. Essentially the idea is that the dough and ingredients are of such a high quality that less is sometimes more to let all the flavours shine through. It was really just the perfect harmony between the right amount of toppings and the delicious dough, the mozzarella and the artichoke were a standout for me.

_MG_9221I have a bit of a thing for Panzanella style salads at the moment, so couldn’t go past the ‘House Panzanella Salad’ w/ Burrata, tomato, Spanish onion, olives, roast pepper and sourdough croutons. $19. A really delightful and punchy salad, the burrata ‘crown’ adorning the tomatoes was a ball of pure bliss, cutting into the centre and releasing the mozzarella and cream innards was truly a sight to behold….yes…I’m waxing lyrical about cheese! I only wished there was a little more of the roast pepper and Spanish onions as they were rather scarce. Alex and I both don’t LOVE tomatoes on their own but these were so good it was hard to stop eating. The sourdough croutons weren’t crunchy as I like them but they were still delicious, the bread had been soaked beforehand (most likely in the tomato juice) as they were soaked and full of flavour.

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To have with the salad we just couldn’t go past the ‘Porchetta Alla Romana’ – slow roasted deboned and rolled Berkshire Pork. 1p = $24, 2p = $45 and 4p = $80. This was a dish very similar to the pork my Nonno rustles up on special occasions. I can’t say I’m hip as to why this is a speciality to the Rome region but it sure is tasty. Essentially rolled, slow cooked and sliced very thinly, it was served with a tiny ramekin that contained the porchetta’s cooking juices which we then used to drown the pork, as well as a wedge of lemon to cut through the fattiness. It went particularly well with the salad as well. They do offer a focaccia with the pork which we heard is equally delicious but with the pizza we didn’t want to overdo the carbs.

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It almost felt like a small tucked away trattoria in an idyllic Napoli island minus the thick Aussie accents of the dining patrons. If you can’t afford a plane trip to Europe this isn’t an entirely bad fall back plan.

Super keen to come back and check out more of the pizzas on the menu.

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Bianca

Photos by Alex
Da Orazio Pizza & Porchetta on Urbanspoon

Alpha Foodstore – Sydney CBD

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Vanessa: A midweek gathering brought team FFS to the recently opened Alpha Foodstore on Sydney’s Castlereigh st. Sitting adjacent to the beautiful establishment of Alpha restaurant, the foodstore serves up an array of Greek artisan products including honey, preserves as well as traditional pastries and sweets.

_MG_1291The space itself is quite small which lends itself to passing trade wishing to stop in for a coffee, of which they serve Greek coffee, Will & Co espresso as well as frappes and if you have been to Greece you will know they are consumed on the regular there as they are delicious!

We were fortunate to learn more about the Dionysis olive oil line, which is a family run business which has been pressing and producing Kalamata olive oil for 300 years. The olive oil range, available as a delicate and robust varietal, are available for purchase in store and also used in the restaurant.

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Both types of olive oil were served up with warm, fluffy pita bread, the perfect companion that allowed us to get a taste for the oil. The Robust oil leaves a sharper bite on the palette and is best served with red meat and salmon. The delicate oil has a fruity tone and is best served with white fish.

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Following on from this we were treated to an array of the foodstore’s finest, which brought on nostalgia from past trips to Greece.

Alpha restaurant’s pies, including the well-known spinach and feta spanakopita, are available as individual serves perfect for lunch or a snack on the go. We were lucky enough to sample all four available flavors, the spanakopita, three cheese and capsicum, chicken and lamb.

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I have to say the cheese pie was a taste sensation with its blend of feta, haloumi  balanced perfectly with the saltiness of the cheese and the bitterness of the capsicum. Encased beautifully in crunchy, filo pastry this was delicious as was the traditional spanakopita which came in just behind as my second favourite.

The food store stocks a variety of Greek table sweets, including figs, that are traditionally offered to visiting guests.  They were a little too sweet for my liking but am told they are paired well with cake, ice-cream or even on toast.  Personally, I think they could also be paired well with a bitey cheese.

_MG_1333Next up was a definite crowd pleasure –  the Greek equivalent of Nutella, known as Merenda, served up with pistachio cigars.  This was indeed a taste and texture sensation! The crisp, crunchy texture of the flaky cigars dipped into the chocolate was a divine combination..definitely one I’ll be putting on the list to try again.

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To finish off we were presented with a serve of chocolate and pistachio baklava, consisting of multiple thins layers of flaky filo pastry enveloping a thin amount of filling – it was just perfect.

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The Alpha Foodstore also serves up a variety of gluten free desserts and all of their sweets are made in house. You can also purchase a variety of different sized and priced hampers which contain various products sold instore..for those of you looking for a foodie Christmas gift..there’s an idea!

If you happen to find yourself on or near Castlereigh St in Sydney CBD..stop in for an espresso and sample one of the sweet delights on offer…I’m still thinking about the pistachio cigars!

Enjoy!

Vanessa

Photos by Alex

For Foodsake were invited to Alpha Foodstore by Wasamedia. All opinions however are our own. 

 

 
Alpha Restaurant on Urbanspoon

T Totaler – Newtown

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Bianca: Fifteen years ago, I would associate tea and in general ‘tea drinkers’ with either oldie folk or with some posh British peep’s – with it really coming into the mainstream social consciousness the last 5-10 years because of an increased focus on sustainability, quirky and interesting blends and for some reason a whole lot of beards but perhaps that’s just the clientele. Not to mention the powerhouse T2 that has really made tea accessible to those not quite sure what on earth they are doing/drinking!

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‘T Totaler Tea’ has made Newtown its home since 2013, started by couple Amber and Paul (a British expat). The space itself is quite interesting with recycled timber furnishings, chemical brewing kits and walls lined with various tea’s in TT’s glass pharmaceutical jars.

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A small group were gathered by the ever effervescent blogger/socialite Bob W – the man behind the  http://www.jugernauts.com/.  Typically closed on a Tuesday evening, we had the place to ourselves.

To start our exploration into all things tea, we began with something neither myself nor Alex had experienced before ‘Sparkling Immune Tea’ –Echinacea, olive leaf, rose-hip, aniseed myrtle, sparkled. $6 in champagne flutes. It certainly made for a bizarre first sip leaving us a little perplexed – in a good way.

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T Totaler offers a fairly decent food menu with a strong focus on locally sourced ingredients and produce, as well as incorporating the actual tea within some dishes.

The first dish of the night was the ‘Smoked Mozzarella & Tomato Salad’ – Marrickville smoked mozzarella, tomato, pickled herbs, pickled green tea, organic sourdough (Australia Prosciutto $3 extra). $12.50.  Undoubtedly a beautiful and vibrant salad, the colours alone invoke blissful summer vibes, this was essentially a well done panzanella salad. I’ve never been a fan of tomatoes on their own, generally they have to be wedged between slices of bread but these were truly gorgeous, it’s quite obvious much attention is paid to the quality of ingredients used. Paired with the salad was the ‘Shin Cha’ an Australia grown green tea, I’m not a tea connoisseur and wont embarrass myself and pretend I am one. I can only tell you I enjoyed it.

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Next we tried the ‘Mango & Papaya Salad’ – W/Asian greens, pickled green tea leaves and topped with fried shallots. $13.50. The food is geared to more of a low key, tea accompaniment with most of the offerings being quite light. This was a perfect example of that, this was my first taste of mango this year (having been overseas during summer earlier this year). Mangoes are really the first sign of the warmer weather. I’m not a fan of papaya so mostly ate around that but I enjoyed the pairing of the mango and the fried shallots.

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Caffeine free ‘Chai’.

Paired with the Tea-groni was the ‘Salmon & Fennel’ – Tasmanian smoked salmon, ricotta, blood orange, aniseed myrtle and sourdough toast. $13.50. For the most part, I do not enjoy seafood, smoked salmon is right up the top of my ‘Do Not Like’ list but I make a point of trying most things if it’s put in front of me. This was one of the best tasting smoked salmon ‘renditions’ I have ever eaten, there was no overpowering fish flavour. Definitely a strong recommendation for lovers of salmon.

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We were all suitably amused and impressed by the delicate way Paul was putting together 12 ‘Tea-Negronis’ – Siberian ginseng, bitters, orange, chamomile, juniper. $8. Tasting just like a regular Negroni, this was a favourite amongst the table.

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_MG_0678Lastly we had a pairing of a refreshing cold brew, infused overnight – ‘Foraging for Berries’ was a great alternative to coffee with our desserts. The desserts do change frequently but on this occasion we had the pleasure of sampling both the ‘Fennel Citrus Cake’ and the ‘Bitter Chocolate Cake/Brownie w/ lime and Thai Basil. Both strong options to end a meal on, especially as all the flavours up until this point were rather clean and light handed. Alex and I both preferred the striking bold flavours of the dense little brownie. A winner in my books.

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I really loved T Totalers drive to source ingredients locally and you can’t help but get swept up in Amber and Paul’s love and enthusiasm for their product. So I say deviate from T2 for a minute and support these local Sydney tea enthusiasts.

Bianca
Photos By Alex

T totaler on Urbanspoon

Devon on Danks

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Alex: Well well well, if no one has heard of Devon Cafe, then they’re clearly oblivious to the wacky creations that are created behind these somewhat normal doors. Devon has now opened its new Devon on Danks which is where we decided to lose our “dev-ginity”. As we were coming for breakfast I really wasn’t expecting to be walking out feeling like I had eaten a giant cow but you win some you lose some.

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Since it was a relatively early saturday morning, the day couldn’t start without a coffee so myself and Vanessa ordered a skim mocha and a skim flat white. The coffee was okay. I generally get my coffee from Workshop or Gumption in the city so I can look past the coffee considering their up against some major competition. _MG_0806

Our first savoury of the morning was the cleverly named Dr Seuss’s Green Egg and Ham with bacon, potato, 63° egg, green ketchup, pea puree, soybeans, pea tendrils, jus. The dish itself was visually stunning, with a beautifully vibrant green ketchup and pea puree poured over the perfectly cooked 63° egg. The ham had an intriguingly wonderful smokey flavour that was enhanced after each tender bite. We all agreed though, that almost half of the ham was just a thick fat rind which left us a little disappointed. _MG_0837 _MG_0842Next up was the Lucky Duck – buckwheat crepe, duck leg, duck liver parfait, fried duck egg, blueberry preserve. They’re definitely on point with the innovative ideas, but in terms of delivering that throughout each dish is another story. The egg was perfect. I’ve never had a duck egg and it actually had some beautifully rich flavour that I wasn’t expecting, but the duck and buckwheat crepe were a let down. The crepe had no distinct flavour and the duck was just not something that I could stomach that early in the morning, Bianca, however enjoyed the duck just perhaps NOT for breakfast.

_MG_0857The Soft Shell Crab Roll with sichimi pepper, wasabi mayo, tobiko, nori, pickled cucumber, daikon, carrot, and shiso was thankfully a winner! The dishes on the menu are heavily inspired by japanese cuisine and this was particularly moreish, especially with that added spice from the wasabi mayo. It was great to compare and contrast to the soft shell crab burger from Bowery Lane that was also a winner.

_MG_0869As everything was sort of coming at the same time it was hard to keep up and digest everything but the last savoury of the morning was the Breakfast with the Sakumas – king salmon, smoked eel croquette, 63° egg, faddish salad and kepi mayo. I don’t eat salmon or eel, but before I knew that the croquette was eel, I had a bite, and it had the distinct fishy flavour that I cannot stomach, so I unfortunately am not the best person to be writing about this one! But from what I gathered from the other bloggers, the salmon was delish! Very soft and gave off the appearance and taste (according to Bianca, of being confit’ed).

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And now onto the important stuff…

If no one has ever gone through drive through maccas and ordered a small fries with a mcflurry or soft serve then honestly you either haven’t lived or perhaps you still have your sanity. That combination was a regular occurrence for me when I was 16-17 (who am I kidding, the last time I had it was a couple of months ago). So when I saw the Salted caramel soft serve and chips hit the table, my eyes lit up and I kept smiling at Bianc and Vanessa. The smile was more of a ‘get out of my way so I can eat it’ look now that I think about it. This wonderful creation is the perfect mix of salty and sweet. With each bite you can almost feel your bum getting bigger!

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So I’m almost certain that I squealed like a little girl when the “Little Lost Bread”Brioche French Toast with Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream came out. Us crazy bloggers frantically raised our cameras and shot away. The ensemble of crushed nuts, strawberry jam and balsamic reduction all helped in creating perfect harmony with this spectacular dish.  The french toast oddly had a similar taste to that of a croissant but in no way did it resemble it texture wise. The strawberry cheesecake ice-cream was a great addition and it was a beautiful sight as we cut into it and the ice cream just enveloped the whole board. Just thinking about it makes my mouth salivate! Now enjoy some french toast porn!

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When we first walked into Devon the Cronuts immediately caught my wondering eye. I also love how they fry and make the cronuts so everyone can see!

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We were able to try all three flavours which were:

-Sweet Mayo w/ Pork Floss: Definitely our least favourite. We all agreed that this is one that you either love or hate and unfortunately… we hated it. The sweet mayo left an extremely unenjoyable aftertaste that thankfully the milo cronut got rid of!

-Milo Ganache w/ more milo This was great! The milo ganache oozed out as you cut into it and was not as heavy as I thought it would be.

-Red Bean & Matcha: Surprisingly, this was my favourite! An interesting combination of flavours and textures, each bite was different and fun.
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And for those like me who can’t get enough of the desserts, they also offer, donuts, cakes, croissants and more!

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Definitely a great place to go. I’d love to go for dinner or a late lunch one day as I feel that all that heavy food would be easier to handle later on in the day. But there definitely blowing everyone away with those desserts! I’ll go back for that french toast and the soft serve and chips alone. Mmhm.

Until next time (when I waddle back 10 kilos heavier)

Alex

*For Food’s Sake dined at Devon On Danks courtesy of Wasamedia & Devon On Danks, all opinions however are independent and our own.

Devon on Danks on Urbanspoon

The Middle Feast – Merrylands

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Alex: It’s clearly safe to say that food has the power to bring people together, socially, emotionally, and mentally. Perhaps I’m being a little to philosophical here, but I felt very welcomed and as if I had just joined a family as I dined at The Middle Feast in Merrylands.

Similar to my italian heritage, food plays a large part in the lives of lebanese families. It becomes the basis of many gatherings, and on this night I was able to have a taste of all the wonderful and unique things that a lot of my lebanese friends have on a regular basis.

This is just a quick run through of what we ate, there was just too much food to analyse everything so bare with me!

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To start off the bombardment of food, we were brought Khebes mekley, fried lebanese bread that is ear shatteringly crunchy. This is probably one of my favourite things ever! Add a dollop of hummus or Toum and you’re set. _MG_8961

We were also brought a basket of traditional Lebanese Bread. 

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The dips for the night included:

Hummus: Traditional Lebanese dip made from blended chickpeas, tahini sauce, garlic and olive oil. This was a particular standout. It tasted fresh and was very moorish. 
Labni: European style yoghurt and garlic topped with olive oil.
 
Toum: A garlic sauce that always ends up being the winner but no one ever wants it because they don’t want to talk to people. No shame here so I polished one off myself. 
 
Baba ghanouj: Blended fresh eggplant mixed with european yoghurt and garlic and olive oil.
 
Shanklish: with tomato and shallots on top with aged and dried yoghurt mixed with thyme and topped with olive oil

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Because there clearly wouldn’t be enough food for the night, a massive bowl of golden chips couldn’t be disregarded. The chips were perfectly seasoned but tasted a hundred times better once mixed with the dips. I would’ve been happy with just the chips and the toum, that’s how good they were!
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Already almost at tipping point and we weren’t even halfway! The Haloumi with tomato was next but sadly was a bit of a let down. The cheese had no distinct flavour even after adding salt.

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The Cheese samboosik deserve a special mention as these were crowned the greatest mezza of the night. The pastry had a distinct crunch on it’s outer layer but as you bit into it cheese just oozed out leaving a definite smirk on everyone’s faces!

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The Beef Samboosik was obviously very similar to the cheese samboosik texture wise, but in terms of flavour couldn’t compare. The standards were just set too high after the cheesy goodness.

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Fatoush Salad till this day remains to be one of my most favourite Lebanese dish. The dish itself is flavoursome and filled with an array of vibrant bursts of flavour and the added addition of the fried Lebanese bread makes it that much better. _MG_8984

The Tabouli tasted like any other tabouli I’ve had. I tend to always ignore the tabouli when it hits the table anyway but this had some really great flavours. _MG_8985

The Kibbeh for me lacked any real substance. For those who are unaware the giant balls are filled with finely ground minced beef. They were a little on the dry side, so I took a few bites and left them to the side.

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Now we get the mixed platter of Kafteh, Chicken and Lamb on a bed of lebanese bread and onion. I was taken aback at how much food was sitting on the table. My eyes widened and I just stared in awe and just wondered where to start. The chicken was by the far with the winner of the three. It was moist and had that great smoky barbecue flavour. Tip: Get a piece of lebanese bread, lather it with toum, add the chicken and you’re set.
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Soujouk is traditional beef sausages that is marinated with lemon, mixed spices served with chilli and boy was this something else. Never have I ordered something this unique at a lebanese restaurant and this is possibly my new favourite dish. The sausage itself was big and hearty and as you took a bite it was like a combustion of flavours that meshed together so perfectly.

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A fantastic Lebanese experience that is definitely a must to try out, and yes for the next two days I was eating Lebanese because there was that much food leftover!

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Thank you to the lovely staff and owners at The Middle Feast for your wonderful hospitality.

Until next time

Alex Squadrito

The Middle Feast on Urbanspoon

Copo Café – Drummoyne

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Bianca: ‘Copo Café’ is one of those places I’ve constantly heard murmurings of through the grapevines. Known for their breakfast menu, of which they offer all day. Great for those not so keen on the early hours. For me…it’s all about lunch. I’ve never really been mad for breakfast, I’d always push back catch up dates to catch the lunch menu. Unless it really is a unique café offering something other than the standard ‘English Breakfast’.

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Which is where Copo comes in, with items such as South American style beans, Bubble & Squeak, House Smoked Trout and that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. But I digress, all these delicious options still did not tempt me away from my seemingly inevitable fate to try every burger in ‘all the lands’.

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Joining me today was my pocket pal Joyce, otherwise known as ‘Little Rocket’, despite the fact we work together, I had yet to hear about her six-week European adventure and what other way is there for two food obsessed people to get together and chat unless we’re stuffing our faces.

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A round of coffee’s were ordered, a ‘Long Black’ for myself and a ‘Flat White’ for Lil Rocket, coffee here is Campos, despite being a fan of their brew I was disappointed with my long black, way too bitter and slightly burnt. Moving along…

Little Rocket perhaps keen to transport herself back to Espana had the ‘Spanish Baked Eggs’ – with Chorizo, Spicy Tomato Sauce, Herbs & Toast. A very decent portion for the price (something that was very fluid throughout the entire menu, prices were fair for the serving sizes). Alas there are no prices on the online menu so I cannot provide them here. While the flavours were decent and standard for a baked egg dish, Little Rocket was underwhelmed, not to mention the eggs which closely resembled little golf balls – completely overcooked, not a runny yolk in sight.

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For myself, furthering my burger quest, I had the ‘Cheeseburger’ – with Gruyère, Horseradish, Mixed Leaf, Tomato, Onion and Fries. I am incredibly pedantic and specific with my burgers, the first problem here is that this is not a cheeseburger, it is a hamburger. A cheeseburger really shouldn’t have anything fancy on it, it should have a beef patty, cheese, onions, some tomato sauce and some mustard… An elaborate bun is allowed. Anything else is what I would classify a ‘Hamburger’. In saying that I am an equal opportunity burger lover, so if it’s good it’s all fair game. The first few bites were very disappointing, too much lettuce not enough seasoning. Once I pulled all the lettuce out and added some salt to the patty it was much better. I enjoyed the Gruyère and the horseradish but ultimately it was let-down by its lack of seasoning in the patty and sauce.

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I was taken by the sound of the ‘Zucchini & Quinoa Fritters’ – with mixed leaf & Buttermilk & Fetta Dressing. These were simply delicious, they came four to a serve and I believe I ate most of it. Because I took my time taking photos and chit chatting, they were lukewarm when I finally got around to eating them. So I didn’t quite enjoy them in their ‘prime’. They were no longer crispy but at the end of the day these warm fritters were stunning, accented by that Buttermilk & Fetta dressing. If I were given these without knowing what was in them, I might not catch on to the fact that there was quinoa in the fritters. I love me some quinoa and make it often at home but my dad and all of my brothers don’t care for it. But I think even they wouldn’t be able to stop themselves from enjoying these bad boys.

 

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And lastly the Lamborghini of fries, ‘Parmesan Fries’. A side of fries came with my “cheeseburger” but Little Rocket couldn’t go past these fancy pants chips, I pretty much abandoned mine once I tried these ones. My memory alludes me (and they aren’t listed anywhere on the online menu) but we both picked up on hints of truffle oil, which ordinarily I don’t care for, it always tastes so artificial. But these chippies were great, I love a good shoestring fry but I have a niggling suspicion that a steak cut would work even better in this setting. Because it’s all about me right?

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So mixed feelings after my first visit but I take my hat off to the pretty cool breakfast menu on offer, one of these days I’ll have to force myself into a breakfast option, though that ‘Karage Chicken Burger’ is calling my name.

Bianca

Copo Cafe & Diner on Urbanspoon

Zucker’s Bagels & Smoked Fish – Tribeca, NYC

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Vanessa: When we found ourselves spending four nights of our recent honeymoon in Tribeca, we were delighted to be situated in such a trendy place with so many dining options. When we discovered, Zucker’s Bagels and Smoked Fish, across from our hotel we felt we had struck gold!. Finding a place that serves up authentic NYC hand-rolled, kettle-boiled bagels, on our doorstep, was a blessing.

This small deli-like shop has a steady flow of loyal followers who will happily queue to sample one of the many different bagel, cream cheese and smoked fish options that are available.

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As we took our place in line, I found myself shifting into panic mode. One because of the pace in which the line moved giving very little time to make a decision and two the abundance of choice before us!

The blackboard above the counter has numerous suggestions for combinations but I was determined to keep it simple so I could really taste the flavor of the bagel.

There are so many bagel options it’s a little overwhelming. From sesame to marble rye, cinnamon raison to  pumpernickel, to name a few, which are available as traditional or wholemeal bagels. I settled on an ‘everything’ bagel and hubby went for a cinnamon raison.

That was the first part done, bearing in mind we were steam rolling towards the counter. Part two was to order the spread. Again, the choice is abundant. Cream cheese in all different varieties such as scallion, garlic, strawberry, maple walnut and more. As well as traditional spreads such as jams and peanut butter.

We got to the front and I have to say I did a cave a bit under the pressure and went with an ‘everything’ with plain cream cheese (boring I know) whilst hubby went with a cinnamon raison with maple walnut cream cheese.

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We managed to score a seat in the very small seating area and we tucked in. My choice may have been plain but it was full of flavor. The everything bagel had a combination of sesame and poppyseeds along with garlic flakes, salt and pepper, a delicious mix that went so well with the thick serving of smooth cream cheese.

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Hubby had the winning bagel with his choice of cinnamon and raisin with maple walnut cream cheese. It tasted like a cheesecake and if you like sweets in the morning, then this is a definite winner.

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We went back on day two feeling determined to try something a little more adventurous this time round. Alas, feeling once again overwhelmed, I went with a familiar option. I chose an ‘everything’ bagel (yes again!) but this time with strawberry cream cheese. The strawberries had been blended through to form a sweet, rich spread which was amazing.

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My lack of imagination in choosing something different to the day prior meant I paired that amazing sweet spread with a very savoury bagel. Generally savoury and sweet pairing is ok but the presence of the garlic flakes meant the combo didn’t work so well. I would definitely recommend that strawberry cheese cream with a plain or seeded bagel as it was delicious.

Hubby’s choice was even less adventurous than mine as he went for a sesame bagel with peanut butter. The amount of peanut butter on the bagel was incredibly generous and it was paired very well with the bagel.

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Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to return to sample the variety of smoked fish or lox (a fillet of brined salmon). I do know from reading up on Zucker’s that people flock there in droves for their bagel with cream cheese and lox, so that is one of the many reasons Ill be going back one day.

If you happen to find yourself in downtown manhattan with a hankering for an authentic NYC bagel, do no look past Zucker’s, you will be in for a real treat!

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Vanessa

V.B.A

Zucker's Bagels & Smoked Fish on Urbanspoon

Little Sicily – Leichhardt

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Bianca: After a big day traipsing around our old neighbourhood in Kellyville, watching the whack-jobs in ‘Gone Girl’ and eating burgers at the Tuckshop. We then continued our slothful migration towards the inner west but brought Madre along for the fun.

Alex and I were uncharacteristically unsure as to where we wanted to eat and what cuisine. We literally flitted from Chinese in Concord, to Korean in Rhodes, before finally settling on the suburb: Leichhardt, most likely Italian. We walked into one restaurant before walking right back out (lack of options and too expensive). ‘Little Sicily’ has always been on our radar because our Nonna and Aunt live within 5 minutes of the restaurant so we constantly pass it, we would always make a point to say to each other whenever we drove by “We should really go there…it’s been there forever”.

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So the memory kicked into gear and we made our way to Little Sicily at 8pm on a Friday evening, we were kind of expecting a lull in service, maybe a half full restaurant, we were met with a bustling almost chaotic scene. Initially as they searched for a table to sit us, we discussed a plan B in-case tonight wasn’t our night, as luck would have it, there was one table left, which we snapped up.

We weren’t overly hungry so decided to share a few things, throw in the fact it was SUPER loud in there, we kind of just wanted to eat and leave. To accompany our mains we ordered a ‘Rocket Salad’ $9.50. Oddly it came out before anything else, so we ended up eating most of it before any of the main meals came out. In saying that, it was delicious, amply seasoned with a generous smattering of parmesan cheese. Not to mention the salad itself was a substantial serving, easily shared as a side for three people.

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We then shared the ‘Calzone Special’ – Mozzarella, fresh ricotta, spinach and double smoked ham. $25. Alex and I have a bit of a weakness for calzone’s they’re always so much better than regular pizzas and this one had two weird tomato splotches that looked like giggly boobs, which we found hilarious. Splotches aside, this calzone was good, it’s all in the dough and this was a good one. Having a bite without any of the filling it was incredibly flavourful. Almost bursting as we cut through the centre, the ricotta and spinach oozed onto the plate as we happily mopped it up with some of the end pieces of the calzone.

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As an entrée/starter we shared the ‘Polpette di Ricotta’ – crumbed spinach and ricotta balls, fried and served with a warm gorgonzola sauce. $19.80. With three to a serve these seemed deceptively small, whilst they looked quite meagre and tiny for the price, they were extremely rich. I’ve never been one for strong cheese’s but the thick gorgonzola sauce was heavenly, so much so my last bite of my polpette was eaten with the serving spoon and a big ol spoonful of the sauce, I’m sure it wasn’t pretty for those around me.

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And lastly we shared the ‘Saltimbocca’ – Veal pocket folded with San Danielle Prosciutto, D.O.P Provolone and sage, cooked in a sage, butter and white wine sauce. $29.80. The dish that ‘jumps in your mouth’ lived up to its name, the veal was tender but ultimately it was the filling that stole the show with both the prosciutto & provolone shining through. Alex has this weird obsession with sage/butter sauces and he really enjoyed this one. If there was one drawback it would be that it was served completely on its own, some plain vegies or even a potato mash would have been great to mop up the residual sauce.

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We’re quite pleased that we have finally ticked this place off our list, it really is one of few decent Italian restaurants in the Leichhardt area, service was a little brusque but they were literally bursting at the seams with patrons…not that that is an excuse really. It’s probably not ideal for a quiet night either, after 10 minutes in there we were itching to get out and let the old nanna ears have a rest.

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Bianca

Photos by Alex

Little Sicily on Urbanspoon

Vogue Cafe – Macquarie Centre

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Alex: So, I wouldn’t normally write a post about a coffee catchup (or in this circumstance, a milkshake catchup) but I just couldn’t resist after how impressed and completely gobsmacked I was after seeing these killer creations.

Owner, Sarah Aouad has amassed quite a following at ‘Vogue Cafe’ the past few years but as Macquarie Centre has reopened its doors and become the new fashion precinct of the north, things could get a little cray cray… (in a good way!)

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The quaint little cafe seems to effortlessly ooze homey vibes, from the very welcoming staff, the cute table decor, the lounges and colour scheme of the cafe to their famous and cheerfully creative drinks. _MG_8439

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Unfortunately, we arrived quite late in the afternoon so the kitchen was closed but on display were an array of cakes, tarts, and pastries that seemed to be yelling at me, especially that Nutella scroll.

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Alas, leaving with just the nutella scroll would’ve been sinful, right? So a doggy bag was sounding like the sure-fire way to make me leave a happy man. Chocolate croissants, ricotta cheesecake, lamington tart, and my lover, the nutella scroll.
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I asked Sarah for her suggestions but really I was just being nice. My mind was set when I saw the ‘Peanut butter milkshake’ $8. If you’re a peanut butter lover like myself then you will literally die and go to heaven. An extremely decadent and rich drink that might leave you feeling a little sick. I’m not going to lie I couldn’t finish this off, but I put up a good fight! The thick and creamy milkshake was cleverly contrasted with the crushed nuts that came up through the straw as you eagerly take a big sip. Who would have thought that drinking a milkshake could be so much fun!?

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TheNutella milkshake’ $8while definitely a strong competitor could not overdo the peanut butter. This was a lot thinner and easier to drink than the peanut butter one. Honestly, I don’t know how one can fault anything with peanut butter or nutella. Some might say that there’s a point where it can be overdone but who doesn’t like to go a little over the top every once in a while. This is definitely not something you could have every day, but for a nice treat every once in a while, I could absolutely get my fill from one of these. _MG_8512

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just look at those tops! Ahh

Thank-you to Sarah for your lovely hospitality, I can’t wait to return.

Until next time!

Alex Squadrito

V.B.A
The Vogue Cafe on Urbanspoon

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