Take Me Back to Café Morso – Now!

I finally visited Café Morso in Pyrmont, and luckily chose a Sunday to do this, as they are closed on Saturdays for private functions.  Having by chance got the day right, I enjoyed up the most fabulous weekend brunch I’d had in a while. 2015-07-05 11.22.41 The ever-amenable and photo-patient Rasta and I shared truffled scrambled eggs with mushrooms on toast, and the smoked pork ‘breakfast risotto’. The truffled scrambled eggs were so prettily arranged in an elegant swirl, like a silk scarf nonchalantly discarded on a sofa.  They were silky in texture too; scented with – rather than drenched in – truffle oil; and with the perfect smattering of snipped chives.  A generous quantity of sautéed mixed mushrooms was hiding underneath the sourdough toast. 2015-07-05 11.22.51 The ‘breakfast risotto’ was also a dish of beauty.  Smoked pork, gruyère and spinach, topped with a poached egg AND hollandaise, and ornamented with micro herbs.  If you want to split hairs, it was really ‘tasty soft cheesy rice’ rather than a proper risotto, as it was blatantly absent the creaminess which comes from stirring the rice for the requisite 30 minutes to release the starch, whilst retaining some bite to the rice.  Clearly this hadn’t been stirred to order.  But!  Bugger proper risotto technique – there was smoked pork and hollandaise!!  The combination of ingredients was divine, and I complain not. We dutifully ate exactly half of each, each, then swapped. Equally delicious, and a good match of flavours to share.  I’d also had my eye on the bacon gnocchi with poached egg, for the trifecta of decadent eggy breakfasts.  Next time… 2015-07-05 11.22.56 It seemed only fitting to have breakfast dessert, and the specials board listed an apple rose tart with green apple sorbet and crème anglaise.  This sounded divine, and both looked and tasted just as good.  A takeaway muffin for Hubby (peach, from memory) also got the thumbs up. 2015-07-05 11.47.06 The one blip in our delicious brunch was the coffee – not sure what happened there – but their loose leaf tea selection looks enticing AND they do a breakfast Bloody Mary.  So my drinks order for the next visit is already sorted :-) I very much look forward to a returning to Café Morso with a healthy appetite and a brunching companion who’s amenable to sharing everything I want to try!

Bleu, Blanc, Rouge Festival at Circular Quay

Last weekend there was a delightful francophone festival – BBR or Bleu Blanc Rouge – down at Circular Quay.  It was obviously timed for Bastille Day, but unfortunately coincided with Sydney’s Seriously Vile Cold Snap (Part I).  But the sun was shining, which meant the antarctic blasts could be tolerated, and the place was packed – I could hear so many differently-accented French speakers.  Fantastique!

In fact, the wintery weather was very fitting for a what was essentially a festival of rich food: poutine, raclette, stew, sausages, waffles, crêpes, éclairs, cheese, and oh so much chocolate.  Wandering around in the cold, you could almost pretend you were in Paris/ Lausanne/ Brussels/ Montreal (only a slight exaggeration there).  Plus: the barely two-digit temps made us all the more inclined to try as many signature regional dishes on offer as we could… and to start early on le booze :-)

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We were greeted at the entrance to the Swiss section by Cannon, a very placid Saint Bernard who seemed happy enough to pose for photos.  I’d not seen an real live one before, and didn’t realise they got so big – though having now searched Google I am reminded that the dog in the ‘Beethoven’ film of my childhood was a St Bernard, and he was giant.  Monsieur Cannon was only a 20-month-old puppy and already weighed 20kg more than moi!

After pats with Cannon, we made a beeline (as much as one can make a beeline when in amongst shuffling crowds) to the Lindt stall, not for chocolat but for vin chaud.  Mulled wine is a must in my book in any winter outdoor market setting.  It’s also completely appropriate to drink it at any time of the day, provided you’re outside and you can’t feel your fingertips!

Sensibly wanting to line our stomachs, we shared a plate of Swiss-style spaetzle or homemade chunky noodles, fried and served with meatloaf and a moreish onion gravy.  First country ticked off the list!
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Heading next door (though not in a world map sense) to Belgium, we found the Hoegaarden stall selling giant hotdogs with pork sausage, sauerkraut, multiple types of onion, a rich jus, and mustardy mayonnaise.  The enormous bun was of course a wonderful chewy baguette.  We washed this down with frothy Belgian white beers.  Santé!

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Moving on to France, we sampled low alcohol (but high taste) cidre rosé

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…then finished things off with a freshly made waffle and a cup of chocolat – the remaining unmelted blob of dark chocolate made a rich ‘surprise lollipop’ at the end! I chose maple syrup for our waffle topping as a nod to Canada, as we’d eschewed the poutine stall earlier.

2015-07-12 14.38.04It was an excellent afternoon of eating and drinking and speaking un petit peu de français.  Afterwards we popped in to the MCA for a bit more culture, and then round to the Lord Nelson for a cleansing dark ale, before walking home in the bracing air to balance out our afternoon of gastronomic indulgence.

I highly recommend keeping an eye out for #bbrfestival2016.


Ramen of Late

I have finally updated my Ramen Round-Up post to include Yasaka on Liverpool Street.  And I’ve also had some new and different ramen of late.  But the deal for me is still as follows:

  1. Ramen is Japanese fast food, akin to a kebab – and like with kebabs, pretty much all ramen is tasty;
  2. Despite point 1, Ichiran is my 一番, but they don’t have it here;
  3. Still despite point 1, Ippudou is my Sydney ramen haunt of choice;
  4. Yasaka is a close second, and conveniently close to my office;
  5. The vegetable (but definitely not vegetarian) tonkotsu ramen at Ikkyuu is also amazing, even though not having cha shu in your ramen is probably a crime again Instagram; and
  6. I’m not bothered about the soft-boiled eggs (thus breaking another Ramen Rule, as per point 5 above).

With that in mind, here’s three more tasty bowls of tonkotsu!

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Finally got down to O-san in the Dixon Street food court. This was the standard tonkotsu with extra kikurage mushrooms and a dash of chilli. Good stuff, no complaints. Particularly nice cha shu.  The dingey basement-level foodcourt was happy teenage nostalgia for my mate; and his reaction to accidentally eating a giant spoonful of raw garlic in his ridiculous Sumo ramen was comedy gold for me!

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Seasonal special at Ippudou Central Park. While I enjoyed the ever-wonderful Akamaru Shinaji, Hubby tried the Tokushima Niku Soba.  Misleading, as it was definitely ramen not soba. But it was nicely flavoured with soy sauce, topped with gyuu-don style stewed beef, an onsen egg, and prettily shredded chilli. The tonkotsu base was lightened up with chicken broth, so it was a veritable farmyard in a bowl.

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Meanwhile, I had the fishy one at Ramen Zundo.  The Zundo Light Niboshi is their lighter soup option (the tonkotsu/ chicken stock mix) which is strongly flavoured with dried anchovies.  Ramen Zundo is not my tonkotsu ramen of choice – though the convenience, décor and side dishes are plusses – but I had a free bowl to claim, and one can’t say no to free ramen, especially on a cold, rainy day.  The fragrant (wimps might say pungent) niboshi was definitely a winner for me – I’d order it again.

Pancakes, Twice

Recently I went to Pancakes At The Rocks for a 15-year-old’s birthday brunch. The last time I’d been to Pancakes At The Rocks was for a 14-year-old’s birthday party. When I was also 14. There is definitely an age for Pancake At The Rocks… or is there?!

Despite not being in the target age group, I thoroughly enjoyed my Bananarama (hold the ice-cream and add a chocolate pancake because chocolate pancake).  I also enjoyed most of Hubby’s overly-ambitious third pancake, and a goodly portion of the 15-year-old’s stack too.  Pikers.

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The fact that they sell their just-add-water packet mix (“Take The Taste Home!”) strongly suggests that Pancakes At The Rocks does not have a team of sous chefs cracking eggs 24/7 (as the restaurant proudly proclaims on its business card, “We Never Close”).  But their baking-powder-boostered shake ‘n’ pour offerings are, nonetheless, undeniable tasty (and strongly appeal to one’s inner teenager).  And whilst the pancakes were a bit fake, I was impressed that the cream was proper thick dollop-y cream, not a squirty one from a can.  And the grilled bananas and childhood nostalgia butterscotch sauce were the perfect old school accompaniment – no salted caramel or dulce du leche here!

Whilst I felt slightly ill after my excessive fluffy pancake consumption, as soon as this feeling wore off I immediately wanted them again (thank you, super high GI food item). I need to find more teenagers (or stoners) to justify a return visit soon :)

The following weekend, however, I made proper and rather wholesome wholemeal ricotta pancakes at home.  These had 2 eggs – whites and yolks separated, whites beaten ’til fluffy – plus smooth light ricotta and wholemeal self-raising flour, and I served them with extra ricotta and fantastic local honey (purchased directly from a farmer at the Royal Easter Show).

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I unhelpfully cannot remember the exact quantities, as I make these ones not infrequently and just know when the mixture is ‘right’.  I probably used a cup each of flour and skimmed milk, a couple of tablespoons of ricotta, and a big blob of honey.  And the eggs yolks.  Mix all these together very well, then fold in the fluffy egg whites.  Cook them in a frying pan sprayed with canola oil.  So healthful.  (Although on reflection, wholemeal flour on its own can be a little stodgy – half white half wholemeal is probably the better bet).

For more pancake recipes (with actual quantities provided, promise) here are my old posts on Blueberry Pancakes with Bananas and Banana Pancakes with Blueberries AND BACON!

Criniti’s, Darling Harbour

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I will admit to Sydney snobbery in this post.  I found myself in Darling Harbour on a Friday night, wanting to see the Vivid Festival lights.  I was very sceptical about dining there.  My memories of dining at Darling Harbour are confined to Happy Meals and pick & mix sweets at the Lolly Pop Shop as a child in the early ’90s…

But Criniti’s came with a recommendation from a foodie friend, and had already been road tested by Rasta to rave review.  I was still a tad sceptical of the Darling Harbour tourist factor and the far-too-long menu.  Soon, however, my prejudices were happily overcome – like Mr Darcy’s by Miss Bennet, and vice versa – by the completely delicious food.  Our choices were all wonderful, contrary to the truth universally acknowledged about ridiculously long menus.  The wood fired pizza was utterly fabulous, the handmade pasta was skillfully silky, and the salad was a meal in itself.  The scotch-egg-style fried olives were an unnecessary but tasty starter (thumbs up for the moreish marinara sauce) and the suggested chianti was indeed a good suggestion!

I am seriously considering returning with a large group to get a THREE METRE LONG pizza.  We saw the 1m versions being devoured by families with kids, but the 3m challenge would be jolly good fun (with more of that chianti).

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PISTACCHIO pizza. In Italian it has an extra ‘c’. As a pizza flavour it had san daniele prosciutto, mozzarella, ricotta, pesto, rocket, semi-dried tomatoes & grated pista[c]chio.  Totally unusual; seriously yum.  The dough was as good as at the real deal Neapolitan-certified places – salty and toothsome and charred just the right amount.  The toppings were generous without being silly.  And the pistachio/ prosciutto/ ricotta combination was phenomenal!

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Light-as-a-cloud housemade gnocchi with creamy gorgonzola sauce (pancetta optional – obviously we opted in).  Not the prettiest picture, but a winning dish – good to share rather than die from a coronary, though.  This was the entrée size and we struggled.

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We decided to have a salad rather than another pasta, but the Fichi or fig salad was almost as full on as having that third main! Another slightly odd-sounding combination which was executed very well: figs, rocket, walnuts, pine nuts, grapes, fresh ricotta, and a honey balsamic vinaigrette

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We sat on the balcony enclosed with a fine mesh screen, which gave an interesting arty effect to all my photos of the Vivid light show and fireworks. And I braved the scary Ferris wheel after dinner!


Petty Cash Café, Marrickville

Petty Cash Café is opposite Enmore Park. It pretty much caters to everyone and everything you would want when brunching with a group. Dogs, kids, prams, vegetarians (and flexitarians – I am embracing being one of those), vegans, coeliacs, and food bloggers. And people who want all-day breakfast (i.e. our party of 5, plus dog and pram). All those options are safe. The menu is worryingly huge but everything we had was very well executed. Excellent produce – I was very taken with the smoked salmon, and others were mad about the bacon. Nice coffee. Crazy milkshakes. Friendly vibe, no fennel pollen, and no pretence. Yay!

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Cheeky Nando’s.

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Snickers frappé. Woah.

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They offer Eggs Benedict, and also ‘Flaming Victoria’ with baby spinach, dukkah & harissa mayo on sourdough. Then there was a combo of the two of them – yep, hollandaise AND mayo – called the ‘Eggs VB’!

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Cherry Ripe frappé vs Snickers frappé. Both really designed for 10-year-olds. Shared by a table of grown-ups. (And a lovely smoked salmon Eggs Benedict in the background.)

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Eggs VB with smoked salmon. Huuuge. Perfectly poached eggs and top quality salmon. It was the Breakfast That Went On. And On.

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