Product review: Tonicka kombucha

I get excited every time I see a new brand of kombucha popping up because that means I can continue avoiding making my own. The medium size of Tonicka kombucha (330 ml) comes in an elegant dark bottle that made me think of boutique beer. I bought it at Dr Earth for $5.14 (discounted from $6.50). They make only one flavour, which is a good thing because that means no added sugary mixes to their brew. I liked its crisp, tangy flavour. Will buy again.

Tonicka kombucha

Tonicka Kombucha
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Review: The Copper Mill (Alexandria)

As a Peruvian I feel compelled to know what’s happening in the Sydney food scene with regard to my national cuisine. The discovery that a cafe in Alexandria was serving Peruvian rolls not only sparked my curiosity but set me on a mission to investigate if the chicharrón was being properly made.

The Copper Mill

The Copper Mill is always busy but we managed to score a table. The menu revealed a few Peruvian suspects: chicharrón in the aforementioned Peruvian rolls and in tacu-tacu, and locro as an element of other dish, supporting the rumors that the cafe chef is indeed Peruvian.


As much as we both love tacu-tacu (a fried football of mixed rice and beans) we like our guts more and we decided to go with a safer option: the Peruvian roll on gluten-free bread. To put things in context, pan con chicharrón is a roll with fried sliced sweet potato, chicharrón (pork belly that has been boiled until all the water evaporates and then fried in its own -or added- fat) and salsa criolla (thinly sliced red onion pickled in lime juice). The guys at The Copper Mill have added a fried egg to bring it one step closer to the familiar bacon & egg roll, plus some lemon mayo for texture sake. The result was good, perhaps not the best chicharrón I’ve ever had but a nice glimpse of my homeland cuisine.

Peruvian B&E roll

Peruvian roll ($10 + $1.50 for the gluten-free bread)

Our second dish was a beef hash (corned beef, fresh radish, caramelised onions, poached egg, hazelnut dukkah, baby herbs) that we ordered with an extra poached egg. This hash comes with mixed with cubes of cooked potato making it a substantial base for the fresh and delicate radish slices and microherbs. I could have this for brunch every day.

Beef hash

Beef hash ($15)

The cafe has a nice variety of choices for the caffeine-seeking customers. I had a cold drip coffee that was smooth and refreshing. Alvaro ordered a coconut hot chocolate thinking that it would contain only coconut milk but it had regular milk too, which meant he couldn’t finish it. It was also very very sweet.

Coconut hot chocolate, cold drip coffee

Coconut hot chocolate ($5), cold drip coffee ($4.50)

The Copper Mill
Suite B, 338-356 Mitchell Road
Alexandria NSW 2015
(02) 9517 3214
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The Copper Mill on Urbanspoon

Product review: Go Paleo protein balls & granola

Last time I ordered meals from Go Paleo I got a nice surprise: complimentary protein balls! The chocolate crunch bliss balls are made with nuts (hazelnut, almonds, brazil nuts, macadamia, walnut), coconut, dates, prunes, dried apricot, chia seeds, goji berries, whey isolate protein powder, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cocoa nibs, cocoa powder, cocoa butter, raisins, vanilla extract, orange zest &/or orange oil, and sea salt. Not only they taste delicious but the amount of sweetness is perfectly calibrated to the palate of someone who doesn’t eat sugar on a regular basis.

Chocolate crunch balls, lime, apricot & pistachio balls

The lime, apricot & pistachio balls were awesome too, but as you may have guessed, I liked the chocolate ones better. These ones are made with nuts (almond, Brazil, macadamia, pistachio), dried apricot, dates, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, whey isolate protein powder, desiccated coconut, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, vanilla extract, lime zest, lime oil, and sea salt. The flavour combo brought back happy memories of Christmas because they tasted like (a much healthier version of) panettone.

Chocolate crunch balls, lime, apricot & pistachio balls

I also ordered a tub of cinnamon nut granola to give it a shot. We’re not regular granola-as-breakfast eaters, but granola munchers. I used to make my own grain-free granola back in the day when I had time to fluff around in the kitchen. Since then it’s been great to find sources of crap-free granola I can rely on for our stress-relieving munchies. Back to the product, besides being grain/gluten/soy/vegetable oil free it is completely sugar and sweetener-free, and hence low carb. Perfect! I like the fact that it comes with a dehydration thingie in the (250g) tub that helps to keep it crunchy.

Cinnamon nut granola

I’ve had it with homemade coconut kefir and on its own and it is the best paleo granola I have tried so far. The ingredients are: nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, pecans), egg white, desiccated coconut, flaxseed meal, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, butter, cinnamon, salt.

Cinnamon nut granola

Go Paleo’s granola range also include luxe granola with fruit and macadamia & plum granola which I can’t comment on because I haven’t tried them (yet!).

Go Paleo
PO Box 690
Hurstville NSW 1481
(02) 8006 4320

Product review: Coconut Magic raw energy bars

I get really excited when I see crap-free bars in supermarkets. I don’t eat them regularly because they’re still treats IMO, but it’s good to know they’re available for whenever I feel like having a healthier dessert.

Coconut Magic is one of the newest brands in the market. The bars are non-GMO, vegan, and free of dairy, soy, gluten and refined sugar. They come in three flavours: coconut (dates, almonds, coconut, cashews, pecans, coconut chips, coconut flower nectar, coconut oil), cacao (dates, almonds, cashews, coconut, tahini, raw cacao powder, coconut oil, coconut nectar) and raspberry (dates, almonds, coconut, goji berries, cashews, raspberry powder, coconut nectar, coconut oil).

Coconut Magic raw energy bars

Not surprisingly, my favourite flavour was cacao, although the other two were pretty good, too. They are pretty sweet for my palate, so 1/2 a bar is enough as dessert.

Coconut Magic

Review: The Commons Local Eating House (Darlinghurst)

This year my main birthday celebration was lunch (no, it’s not because I’m getting old but because Alvaro and I went to see Sepultura that night). I got to try another restaurant that had been in my wish list for a long time: The Commons Local Eating House. It’s been popular in the foodie scene for a while and friends visiting from Europe had raved about it.



We were a group of 12 and so had to wait a bit for the meals to come out. The most popular dish was the Sunday roast (organic lamb with lemon, mint, mustard / carrots, potato, fennel roast) which I shared with Alvaro. Humble as it may sound, it was perfect.

Sunday roast

Sunday roast ($26)

The other dish that Alvaro and I shared (and that was pretty popular in the group, too) was the grass-fed Angus sirloin tagliata with rocket, Parmesan and balsamic reduction. Great steak and great accompaniments but I liked the roast a tiny bit more.

Grass-fed Angus sirloin tagliata

Grass-fed Angus sirloin tagliata ($24)

Other dishes ordered that day were: The Commons veggie breakfast (two free range eggs any style, toast, avocado, goat’s cheese
mushrooms, spinach, tomato, baked beans, hash brown with a twist from the garden), sustainable fish cartoccio (with tiger prawns, bisque, scallops, mussels, snapper), spring salad (green beans, mushrooms, ricotta, nuts, fruits, mixed leaves, lemon dressing), healthy stack (avocado, tomato, rocket, goats cheese, poached egg, plus extra bacon), the omelette of the day (with smoked cheese, caramelized onions and asparagus) and the aged beef cheeseburger (with cheese, beetroot, lettuce, tomato and tomato aioli). I didn’t get to try any of those but all of them looked fantastic. I did have a few leftover hand-cut chips that were awesome. I might consider ordering a bunless burger next time. With a side of spring salad.

The Commons Veggie Breakfast

The Commons Veggie Breakfast ($20)

Sustainable fish cartoccio

Sustainable fish cartoccio ($26)

Spring salad

Spring salad ($15)

Healthy stack

Healthy stack ($14) + bacon ($6)


Omelette ($12)

Aged beef cheeseburger

Aged beef cheeseburger ($20)

My awesome sister made a (paleo) banoffee cheesecake (original recipe here) with chocolate in the toffee and the icing as per my request. I would take this version over any regular cheesecake any day.

Paleo banoffee cheesecake + chocolate

Paleo banoffee cheesecake + chocolate

Cakeage was $2.50 per head and we also paid a 10% surcharge due to the size of the group, which was clearly stated in their booking policy.

The Commons Local Eating House
32 Burton Street
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
(02) 9358 1487

The Commons Local Eating House & Downtown Bar on Urbanspoon

Birthday perks

My birthday was last week. Most of the gifts I received were (surprise, surprise) food-related. I also enjoyed a free $20 lunch courtesy of Paleo Cafe and my annual free Boost juice.

Lunch at Paleo Cafe started with a triple C crunch treat that allowed us to wait for food (we were hungry). My usual go-to drink is long black but this time Alvaro wanted to share a salted caramel thick shake (dates, cashew butter, banana, maple syrup, sea salt and coconut milk) which was insanely delicious.

Triple C crunch

1/2 triple C crunch ($4.50)

Salted caramel thickshake

Salted caramel thick shake ($8)

I finally got to try the chicken and roast vegetable stack (oven roasted chicken thigh, capsicum, eggplant and zucchini wrapped in bacon served with a sweet potato bake, steamed broccolini and a creamy mustard sauce). It sounds better than it looks and it tastes just as good as it sounds.

Chicken & vegetable stack

Chicken and roast vegetable stack ($18)

From the specials menu we chose the seafood marinara (prawns, barramundi and squid in a Napoli sauce with sweet potato noodles). The sauce was delicious, the seafood was perfectly cooked and the dish was pretty filling.

Seafood marinara

Seafood marinara ($20)

My Boost juice of choice this year was grape escape (spinach, pineapple, green grapes, banana, coconut water & ice). Unfortunately (or fortunately!) they had ran out of grapes so I got a less sweet and more refreshing drink with cucumber instead.

Boost juice

Boost juice, original size

Next post: this year’s birthday lunch.

Review: Naked Foods (Bondi Junction)

Naked Foods specialises in bulk pantry essentials like nuts, seeds, flours, oils, vinegars, soaps, etc. It’s like the bulk section of your local health food shop but bigger. Many of their products are organic or at least insecticide free.


Mission statement

Naked Foods

Naked Foods

The system is simple: they provide brown paper bags to fill up with your goodies. You write down the product code on the bag (there are jars with evidence of pens that are no longer there so BYO) and they weigh it at the register.

Shopping instructions

I saw almonds in their shell for the first time, which was pretty cool. But we were lazy enough to buy the shelled (and tamari-roasted) ones.

Almonds in shell

Naked Foods
7-310 Oxford St
Bondi Junction
(02) 9387 4935
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Wacky (and not so wacky) things to put in your smoothie

I don’t drink smoothies regularly for a number of reasons but when I do I like to add extra sources of nutrition. It just gives me peace of mind to know that I’m not just downing down pre-chewed liquid calories. Here are some ideas that you may find useful.

Green smoothie

Kiwi, cucumber, spinach, collagen hydrolysate, water

Liquid base

  • Kombucha or water kefir for probiotics
  • Coconut kefir for healthy fats and probiotics
  • Brewed yerba mate for a caffeine hit (and increased motility)
  • Bone broth for joint and gut health. Wait, what!!?? Yes, I’m talking about soup (blended broth + roasted veggies, for example) in a mug for breakfast or any time.

Healthy fats

  • Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil for quick energy and ketone production
  • Butter (I like Pepe Saya) for fat-soluble vitamins (plus milky flavour and creamy texture)
  • Raw egg yolks (pastured if possible) for fat-soluble vitamins and choline
  • Fish oil or cod liver oil for anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids (warning: depending on the oil and quantity your smoothie might taste fishy)


  • Collagen hydrolysate or gelatin powder (I like Great Lakes) for healthy joints, gut, hair, skin and nails
  • Magnesium for muscular relaxation (better at night)
  • Green banana flour, raw potato starch or tapioca flour for resistant starch
  • Kelp powder for iodine and trace minerals (warning: don’t use too much or your smoothie will taste like sushi)
  • Himalayan salt or similar for trace minerals (try it with watermelon. You’re welcome.)

Solids (the last two are better added at the end with little or no blending to maintain crunch)

  • Chunks of fresh coconut flesh (young or old) for healthy fats and fibre
  • Green plantain for resistant starch
  • Cacao nibs or coffee beans for crunch, antioxidants and as a stimulant
  • Crunchy pieces of bacon (preferably from pastured pigs and minimal processing, e.g. Feather and Bone‘s), mainly for flavour but also a source of good fats and protein

Got more ideas? Please share!

Product review: Little Cossack water kefir

I had heard a lot about water kefir but couldn’t picture it in my head. For me, kefir had to be milky and with a consistency similar to yoghurt. It turns out water kefir is similar to kombucha: lightly fizzy and with a sourish flavour.

This particular brand, however, was a lot sweeter than the kombuchas I’ve tried. The ingredients are: water, organic raw sugar, fresh organic ginger juice, organic ginger powder, organic black strap molasses, naturally made baking soda, kefir, infused with organic dried figs, and organic lemons. A 375 ml bottle ($5.60 regular price, $4.42 with discount at Dr Earth) has 33.5 grams of sugar! That’s what happens when most of the sugar-containing ingredients are added after the fermentation process. I’m not sure if that offsets in some way the beneficial probiotic effects of the kefir.

Water kefir

Little Cossack
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Review: Black Star Pastry (Rosebery)

My first visit to Black Star Pastry was in my pre-paleo days. We bought a bunch of cakes (and got a faulty macaron for free) and a lamb shank pie on a second visit. Then I went paleo and thought I wouldn’t step foot on Black Star ever again.

Until our lunch in Kitchen by Mike. We knew we needed more to feel satisfied and Gladys was prepared: she had spotted a Black Star a few metres away and had checked that they had gluten-free options. Well done, sis!

It had been 4 years since the one and only time I tried the famous strawberry & watermelon cake. Back then, I didn’t know it was gluten-free. I didn’t understand why people raved it about it so much, either. Judging for the amount of watermelons on site, it’s still their best-selling item.

Bread and watermelons

I was very pleased to see that there were several gluten-free cakes on display.


We *almost* ordered one of each (we missed the macadamia & choc GF brownie). Surprisingly, the strawberry & watermelon cake was my favourite, followed by the orange cake, Persian figs, cheesecake. The pistachio lemon curd + white chocolate zen garden was too sweet for my taste.

Gluten-free cakes

Strawberry & watermelon cake ($7.50), pistachio lemon curd + white chocolate zen garden ($7.50), orange cake, Persian figs, cheesecake ($4.50)

Besides cakes they also serve sandwiches (no GF bread, though) and some lunch specials.