charred broccolini + burnt orange vinaigrette + chilli + almonds

broccoliniplate2

— bar rochford | nick smith —
1st floor, 65 london circuit

We like rochford. It’s our kind of bar. It’s dusky. It’s intimate. It’s laid back. It’s equal parts dark soul, 60s modern, unpolished art deco, and a little bit gritty paris. Kinda classic, in a manly way. It’s the kind of place don draper and gatsby would go at the end of a tinder date to chainsmoke cigarettes and knock a few back before inspecting each other’s downstairs goatees.

Only it lacks the pretention of any of that. It isnt themed or stuffy, or posey, or hipstery or too after-workey. It’s pared back but stylish, and not trying too hard. If you lived here you’d definitely have messy hair, tatts and be into super expensive speakers and distressed concrete.

broccolinicircle broccolinidishes

Owner and barman nick is certainly into stuff. He likes soul on vinyl, old photos, warm woods, battered leather. And mixing drinks. Boy, this guy can do a new take on a classic. There are some pretty stylish combinations, like the jack rose (calvados, lime juice, homemade pomegranate grenadine) or the ascerbic sharp darts (gin, apple juice, spice syrup, absinthe. Incidentally, if you were going to throw a drink over someone, this would be it. It’s witty and sharp and mean as hell. And not unlike a punch in the face with a fistful of licorice allsorts). Nick has also pulled together a wine list with a solid mix of old world and new, focusing – finally! – on natural and biodynamic wines. In particular, he wants to showcase up and coming australian producers who experiment with alternative and old school wine making processes.

broccolinirochford3 broccolinirochford broccolinirochford2

So it’s a grown up bar. The kind of place you go if you like to drink but not get drunk. They serve shots but not shooters. You want an aged whiskey or a niche distillery vermouth? rochford is your place. You want a cocksucking cowboy? lucky you, mooseheads is just around the corner.

Yep, the drinks are good. And so is the food.

broccolini broccoliniclose

broccolinicloseup broccoliniportrait2

broccoliniplates2 broccoliniside


 

broccoliniingredients1 bunch broccolini
1 orange
apple cider vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
small handful almonds
1 chilli


Cut any tough woody ends from the base of the broccolini stems. Blanch for 1 minute in salted boiling water and immediately plunge into a bowl of iced water. Set aside until ready to serve.

broccolinirochford4 broccoliniplates

Heat a bbq or griddle pan until smoking hot. Halve the orange and grill flesh side down until charred. Remove from the grill and juice. You should get about 70ml. Add the vinegar and whisk thoroughly. Slowly add the olive oil, continuing to whisk to emulsify the dressing. The dressing will keep in a jar in the fridge for several days. Let the dressing come to room temperature before using to allow the oil to melt. Give the dressing a vigorous shake to re-emulsify as the juice and oil will have separated.

broccolinirow broccoliniplate

Toast the almonds in a hot oven or in a pan on the stove until fragrant and set aside to cool. Deseed the chilli and remove the membrane before slicing into thin half moons.

When you are ready to serve, char the broccolini on the bbq or griddle pan for a few minutes. Place the broccolini in a bowl and dress with the burnt orange vinaigrette. Add a small drizzle of olive oil, the almonds and the chilli and a pinch of sea salt. Make sure everything is well combined before serving.

broccoliniscatter2

blackberry + rosemary and cherry plum shrubs

shrubsbanner

— barrio coffee collective | sam, duncan + dan —
59/30 lonsdale street, braddon

Shrubs. Switchels. You heard it here first. Why hasn’t this thing caught on yet? Imagine a bright, mouth-puckering, saliva-inducing, sour-tart-sweet, tongue smacking tang. In liquid form. It’s better than cordial, not as creepy as kombucha and, according to the ancient romans, pretty good for you if you want to get all julius caesar and invade the mediterranean and half of egypt.

At their most basic, they are vinegar syrups that are used as mixers, both hard and soft. A switchel is essentially a ginger syrup not unlike ginger beer or root beer. Shrubs are fruit-based and were originally a way of preserving excess late season harvests, particularly in colonial america. No one seems to understand the difference between the two, so the terms are often used interchangeably.

shrubscloseup shrubsupright

Because the basic ingedients are nothing more than fruit, sweetener and vinegar, the combinations are pretty much endless. Any fruit in season + your choice of sweetener (sugar, molasses, honey, agave syrup, stevia if you swing that way) + quality vinegar (red wine, white wine, balsamic, apple cider) and you got a shrub going. The trick is to match all three to complement and balance to your taste and you can take it anywhere you want. Hell, you can get all creative and throw some aromatics in there if you want.

shrubsoverhead shrubsbottle

The boys at barrio coffee collective in braddon know where it’s at. All summer, owners sam, dan and duncan have been experimenting with these tart old fashioned syrups with ingredients like crabapples, orange rind and coconut vinegar.

If that sounds overly wholesome, it probably is. But to be honest it fits right in with barrio’s super simple, semi-industrial, pared back vibe. In fact these guys tick pretty much every box when it comes to doing shit right. Specialty-roasted? check. Fair trade? check. Locally-sourced, seasonal produce? check. Simple, well-crafted menu? check. Annoyingly attractive? check (seriously, if ryan gosling, jake gyllenhaal and john snow decided to open a wholefoods cafe in suburban canberra, this is what it’d look like). And don’t get us started on their small-hold, gender equity co-op sustainable development democratic ethiopian beans.

shrubsbarrio2

So by the time you have finished your coffee and avocado toast, you should feel deservedly good about having left the world in a better place. You could walk out the door and smugly punch a puppy in the face and still be ahead for the day.

There are plenty of reviews out there of barrio’s coffee and food. The guys know their stuff and everybody knows they know it. Our recent obsession with pickling and preservation, however, led us straight to their sodas and switchels. They’re ahead of the curve on this one and they use what they can get their hands on: seasonal fruits from a nearby farm, locally-sourced vinegars and sweeteners. Everything is small batch and chances are you’re drinking something that was whipped up the night before. They don’t try to be too clever or complicated and we got the feeling they put things together for the pleasure of trying out different flavours combinations. Bibitory creativity? check. Sigh.

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 11.13.33 pm
centre: barrio’s peach shrub with lime and native roselle hibiscus soda

Being an actual coffee shop (rather than a new york-themed speakeasy), the barrio boys’ drinks are work and family friendly in that they dont come with a hefty slug of liquor. Given we are grown up children – and, quite possibly alcoholics – we usually smarten the whole thing up with a bit of whiskey, or bourbon, or gin. Honestly though, these things taste every bit as good with or without your favourite fortifier. If you do want to kick on, work on the same principle of matching your flavours. We’ve gone with blackberry and rosemary shrub with bourbon and wild cherry plum shrub with gin.


shrubsingredients
blackberry  + rosemary
2 punnets blackberries
¾ cup raw sugar, or to taste
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 large sprig rosemary
sparkling water

cherry plum
1½ cups cherry plums, or other small plum
¾ cup raw sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
sparkling water

bourbon, whiskey, gin


shrubshorizontalMix the blackberries, rosemary and sugar in a bowl and cover. Leave overnight in the fridge – or a few hours if you are impatient – until the fruit has released all its juices and turned into a syrupy sludge. Mashing the fruit a bit with a fork every now and then can help speed this up.

Strain the syrup, discarding the seeds and pulp and any undissolved sugar. Add half the vinegar to the syrup, mix well. Taste the shrub at this point to test for sweetness and acidity. If you want it sweeter, dissolve some sugar in some boiling water and add to the mix. If it needs more acidity – and it probably should at this point – add more vinegar.

shrubsblackberry shrubsportrait3

Once you are happy with the mix, transfer to sterilised, non reactive sealable bottles or jars and store in the fridge for as long as you want. Because it’s preserved, it’ll keep for ages once bottled. The longer you keep it in the fridge, the more intense it gets.

For the plum shrub, halve the fruit and discard the stones. Mix with the sugar and follow the method above.

To serve, mix 30ml of the shrub with 30ml (or more) of bourbon or gin and top up with ice and sparkling water.

zha jiang mian | asian bolognese | chinese new year

zhajiangbannerxo restaurant | AK and kent
16 iluka street narrabundah

Gong xi fa cai dudes! Here’s something you probably already know. This week marks the beginning of chinese new year celebrations. There’s going to be a lot of unrestrained fireworks in the next two weeks. And eating. A lot of eating.

Enter the cny degustation at xo restaurant. That’s where we were last night. Chefs and owners AK and kent have put together an 8-course menu in true xo style, balancing the traditional with their own creative instincts. Each dish is full of symbolic good fortune for the year ahead: think reinterpreted classics – green tea longevity soba with jelly fish, shredded chicken and wood ear mushrooms, or an ultra modern yee sang prosperity toss salad made with super fresh hiramasa kingfish, caramelised cashews and crunchy shredded vegetables. Oh, and a sandy-crispy lai yau soft shell crab with kelp butter and egg floss that we pretty much inhaled. Seriously, they should sell this stuff by the gram.

yee sang with hiramasa kingfish | sichuan silken tofu with century egg | soft shell crab | image courtesy of xo restaurant
yee sang with hiramasa kingfish | sichuan silken tofu with century egg and fukujinzuke | soft shell crab | image credit: xo restaurant

Kent has put together a kick arse wine list too, which, like the crazy kid himself, is a quirky mix of old world and new. It’s ahead of the curve, with some refreshingly local (and affordable) choices. There’s serious canberra represents and a pretty respectable range of whiskies. Like the food, it’s constantly evolving and he really knows his shit. If you’re at a loss, throw some random words at him – crisp, soft, dry, gumboot – and let him choose the wine for you.

What really sets the list apart, though, is the inclusion of natural and orange wines – preservative-free, lots of skin contact, barnyardy – which are going to be huge in canberra in the next couple of years. So go in, have a chat to kent, and become an expert before all your friends so you can be super smug when this thing takes off. xo is also one of the first places to offer them by the glass which is a bit risky for restauranteurs but AWESOME for customers, which is us. And you.

The cny menu runs until 20 february 2016. Like any chinese food, it’s best shared, so get 3-5 of your friends together and get. on. board.
green tea soba longevity noodles | image courtesy xo restaurant
green tea soba longevity noodles | image credit xo restaurant

If, after a meal like that you’re lying around like a boa constrictor that’s swallowed a deer, it’s time to get sensible again. If you’re a selfie-taking evangelical paleotard, that might mean a handful of nuts and a celery juice. If you’re an overworked public servant, maybe it’s vegemite toast and the latest season of my kitchen rules. If you’re half taiwanese, like the spoon in boyandspoon, it means getting your mum to make you zha jiang mian, aka fried sauce noodles, or asian bolognese. As you would expect, this basically means swapping the pasta out for noodles and the ragu for a savoury, spicy, pork mince sauce. And like bolognese, this has thousands of variations depending on where you are, who you are and what your mum tells you to do when you ring her for the recipe (thanks mum). Case in point, xo has its own version with stir fried udon, chicken ragu, xo sauce and a 60/60 sous vide egg. Ours is more provincial but you don’t need a professional kitchen to put it together. So if you don’t have a mum who treats you like a ten year old but still want to get bolognasian in 2016, try this take.


zhajiangingredients
250g hand-pulled noodles (刀削面 / dao xiao or plain wheat flour noodles are good)
200g minced pork
100g five spice tofu (五香豆干 / doù gan)
100g edamame, shelled
½ carrot
3-4 shallots
1 tbs chilli bean paste (豆瓣酱 / doù bàn jiàng)
1 tsp whole sichuan peppercorns
2 tbs sweet fermented sauce (甜面酱 / tián miàn jiàng)
3 tbs light soy

zhajiangoverhead zhajiangchopsticks
To get everything ready, parboil the carrot, cool, and dice into 5mm cubes. Cut the tofu to a similar size and finely chop the shallots. Set a pot of water to boil for the noodles while you make the sauce. Keep an eye on the water. When it comes to the boil, cook the noodles until al dente.
zhajiangoverhead2 zhajiangcloseup3

Heat some oil in a wok on a medium heat. When it is hot, gently fry the sichuan pepper until the oil is fragrant. Remove from oil and dispose. Add the shallots and pork mince and fry until golden, taking care not to over brown the shallots. Remove and set aside.

In the same wok, add some oil and fry the sweet fermented sauce and chilli bean paste for one minute. Add the carrots, edamame and tofu. Pour over the soy sauce and toss through. If the sauce is too dry, add a few tablespoons of water. Return the mince to the wok and stir to combine.

To serve, add the cooked noodles to the sauce and toss to coat. Pile in a bowl and serve.

zhajiangcloseup2 zhajiangfinished

mixed crostini: white peach + honey + lavender // strawberry + basil + balsamic // fig + thyme + black pepper

crostinioverhead2

— du pain et des idées | paris —
34 rue yves toudic, 75010

Who doesn’t love bread? Who doesn’t love bread loaded with toppings? Nobody. That’s who.

September in paris means la rentrée: everyone’s back from holidays, the city’s getting crowded again and road rage is back on with a vengeance. It also means that everything’s opening back up – butchers, bakers, candlestick makers. This post celebrates the re-opening of one of our favourite boulangeries, the lovely du pain et des idées in the 10th arrondissement. Continue reading

chinchard ceviche + citrus and fennel + lemon balm

cevichebanner2– clamato restaurant | chef erica archambault –
80 rue de charonne, 75011

We get excited about discovering new places and new ingredients all the time. In fact so much so that this must be sounding a bit like a shit boring travel blog instead of a shit boring food blog. But you know what is also cool? Discovering ingredients that have always been at your fingertips but you were too stupid to realise how good they were. That has repeatedly been the case with seafood for us in paris. See, one of us is a reasonably enthusiastic – if untalented – recreational fisherman and is super interested in fish facts that put most people to sleep. Got your jimmys on? Well here it is. Continue reading

dinner at 1 rue de loudenne

door2 vineyards

Have you guys heard of mimi thorisson? Of course you have. French woman extraordinaire who lives with her charismatic husband, photographer oddur thorisson, and their utterly charming brood of beautiful children and crazy dogs in an old french mansion in the south of france. Ugh.

As it happened, the lovely mimi launched her first pop up restaurant at her mini-chateau-house at 1 rue de loudenne on the weekend. Continue reading

croxetti // samphire pesto // brocciu // toasted walnuts

crozetti-and-samphire-pesto

Summer has well and truly settled in. Days are long, shops are closed and people have gotten out of town. It’s like the city has been shot with an elephant dart and is slowly hobbling to a complete stop. Our appetites seem to have gone on holidays too, along with our motivation to cook anything that involves chewing or cleaning up. Maybe they’re down the beach together somewhere having a great time and rolling around like burt and deborah in from here to eternityContinue reading

baked golden trout // crispy trout skin // baby artichokes // goats cheese // broad beans // smoked almonds // black salt // mustard flowers

trout-salad-11

So one of us hates to cook fish (the girl one, in case anyone was wondering). Weird thing to say for someone that has a food blog. It’s not that it’s not awesome to eat, but something about the preparation and cooking is just too much. There’s all those fish scales in the sink, fishy paper towel in the bin, stinky fish on your hands. Then there’s all that washing and patting dry and putting on a plate in the fridge – a thousand potential situations for fish water to splash on your kitchen floor and bench and cupboards and dry to a stinky invisible film. Have you ever seen the opening scene of contagion where gwyneth is infected with that rare strain of bird flu and the movie follows her around while she coughs on people and touches stuff like a bowl of nuts and the flight attendant’s hand and the door handle and then other people touch the flight attendant and the bowl of nuts and the door handle then touch railings and lift buttons and their children and before you know it the whole world is a virus-contaminated cesspool and everyone’s dying? Well that’s how it is for one of us.  Continue reading

white apricot sorbet // lavender syrup

apricotbanner

When considering running away to paris, be aware that you will face the dilemma of prioritising your worldly possessions. When considering running away to paris to write a food blog, be aware this will mean prioritising your kitchen equipment, and most likely leaving much of it behind. All of it, in fact: favourite knives, pots, pasta roller, sausage gun. While that last one was probably packable, the thought of explaining what it was to customs officials was not particularly attractive though it did lead to a solid hour of immature jokes involving penises and holding up banks. Yes, you really start to miss your own equipment when you are apartment hopping. Continue reading

cucumber and strawberry salad // labne // toasted almonds // raspberry vinegar

concombresbanner

– au passage restaurant | chef edward delling-williams –
1 bis passage st sebastien, 75011

You guys know murphy’s law? That thing where you have 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife? Maybe that’s karma. Or irony? No… it’s none of those. Whatever it is, remember when we were complaining about how ridiculously cold paris was? We couldn’t get our heads around the fact that we needed down jackets and scarves in may. Well karmurphy’s ironlaw decided to punish us for all our whingeing and now it’s hot. Stupid hot. And still. No breeze to cool you down and, weirdly, no air conditioning anywhere. The most popular place to hang out is in front of the fan sales in department stores. Continue reading