Recipe: Pork chops and Pardo’s-style salad

Pork chops are pork chops, no explanation required. I don’t have them often because I usually buy cheaper cuts for slow cooking but I had a sudden craving for chops that I couldn’t ignore. Mum used to serve them with rice and applesauce and, if I remember correctly, she would throw in a bit of Peruvian Russian-style salad (beetroot, potato, green beans, peas, apple, avocado, mayo) in the rare occasions she remembered we should eat vegetables, too. I was planning on making the same exact “Russian” salad to go with my chops but laziness struck and I ended with a version closer to one of the salads served in a famous Peruvian rotisserie chicken restaurant (Pardo’s Chicken).

I bought my chops from Melanda Park who fortunately have returned to Eveleigh Markets after a long absence. Please don’t go away again, guys.

Pork chops and Pardo’s-style salad
Yield: 4 servings

Pork chops and Pardo's-style salad

Ingredients

  • 4 pork chops

Salad

  • 2 small beetroots
  • 2 small carrots
  • a handful of green beans
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 apple
  • lettuce
  • homemade mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Peel and cut beetroot and carrots in thick batons (sort of like potato chips). Steam them separately, let cool down.
  2. Trim and steam green beans, let cool down
  3. Slice apples and avocado.
  4. Tear or chop lettuce.
  5. Heat up your grill and barbecue your pork chops.
  6. Serve the veggies lined up on top of the lettuce with a big dollop of mayo on top, alongside the chops. Season and dig in.

Review: Taste Baguette (Charles Perkins Centre, Sydney uni)

Also known in uni as “the overpriced cafe”, Taste Baguette has not only one but two shops at Sydney Uni. The newest is located in the Charles Perkins Centre and attracts not only students and uni staff but also staff from the nearby RPA.

One of the main reasons I like this place is because they serve Campos coffee. I often grab a takeway long black before my midday lectures. This time I got to enjoy one in a proper cup for 50 cents extra.

Long black

Long black ($3.90)

Obviously, this place is all about the baguettes but fortunately they have found a way of making more profit catering for customers can’t/won’t eat bread. For 2 extra bucks you can have your meal served as a salad. Throw in an extra buck if you want it served at the table on a real plate.

Alvaro and I shared the lemongrass beef salad with iceberg lettuce, pickled carrot and radish, cucumber, coriander and spring onions and the slow cooked pork terrine salad with pickled carrot and radish, cucumber, spring onions, coriander, and sriracha mayo.

Lemongrass beef salad

Lemongrass beef salad ($11.40 + $1 eat in + $2 as salad)

I liked the beef better than the pork but none was a revelation. I guess it is all about the baguettes.

Vietnamese pork salad

Vietnamese pork ($7.50 + $1 eat in + $2 as salad)

… and we were still hungry. For busy patrons, the cafe has a section of takeaway salads and hot food. They are not cheap if you compare to other takeaway options on campus, but generally healthier. We grabbed a large container of crispy-skin salmon, asparagus, and roasted pumpkin that wasn’t bad at all.

Takeaway salads

Takeaway salads (large $12.50, small $9.50)

Takeaway hot food

Takeaway hot food (large $15.90, small $12.90)

Taste Baguette
Charles Perkins Centre
John Hopkins Drive
Camperdown NSW 2050
(02) 9518 8038
tastebaguette.com

Taste Baguette on Urbanspoon

Review: The Chip off the Old Block (Chippendale)

This is a cool new small bar in my sister’s neighbourhood that we’ve been wanting to try for a while, but many things (including Dry July) got in the way. Now that alcohol is back in my life (although I’m drinking a lot less than before) I got to enjoy a Kelly Smith’s cider while chomping on complimentary nuts. The nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts) are served in the shell, alongside a nut cracker and a paper bag to dispose of the rubbish. This is not only cute and clever from a business point of view (cheaper per weight, longer shelf life, less actual edible material provided to the customer) but it’s also good for the customer because it makes it harder to go nuts on the nuts (overdoing nuts can be a problem if you’re trying to lose weight or if you have problems with digestion, absorption or inflammation).

Kelly Smith's cider, Crabbies ginger beer

Kelly Smith’s cider, Crabbies ginger beer ($9 each)

Complimentary nuts

Complimentary nuts

We were sad to find out that the signature chips are beer-battered. Fortunately, there were a handful of other items for us to choose from. My favourite was the humble ploughman’s supper with vintage cheddar, blue, gypsy ham, and pear & cider marmalade.

Ploughman’s supper

Ploughman’s supper ($18)

The slow cooked corned beef with pickled vegetables and horseradish cream was my next top pick. Yeah, the meat was a bit dry and not as tender as expected but it went well with the pickles and the horseradish cream.

Slow cooked corned beef

Slow cooked corned beef ($17)

The smoked ocean trout pate comes with garden vegetables and salted rosemary crackers, but we got ours sans crackers. It was beautifully presented but sadly on the bland side.

Smoked ocean trout pate

Smoked ocean trout pate ($14)

The Chip off the Old Block
3 Little Queen Street
Chippendale NSW 2008
(02) 9318 0815
www.thechipofftheoldblock.com.au

The Chip Off the Old Block on Urbanspoon

Food for thought: On belts, nutrition, Buddhism, and debate

In Peru “no tener correa” (have no belt) reflects the inability of people to be cool with being wrong. I have no idea how to express that in English and I have no clue how the saying came about* but I know for sure that “yo no tengo correa” (I don’t have [a] belt). That’s why I don’t like competition (because I hate losing) and I avoid conflict.

It is a mystery that I’ve felt drawn to two areas that require a very sturdy belt, i.e. nutrition and Diamond Way Buddhism. Both areas are highly controversial and, as it happens with Buddhist philosophy, I’m starting to suspect you have to be pretty good at debate if you want to stand out from an academic/Western-idea-of-knowledge point of view. One of the masters in the school of Buddhism I follow, Naropa, was famous because he could win any debate, then take his opponent’s side and win the debate again. I think this not only shows that some people are extremely gifted when it comes to defending a point of view (think politicians and leaders in any field) but also that pretty much any argument can be defended if you have the ability to do so. This is why you can find scientific papers to back up a lot of contradicting claims. Biases not only exist, but clearly dominate some “truths” in human knowledge.

This week I’ve had a few opportunities to test my “lack of belt”. I’ve questioned once again my future in this new career path I’ve chosen to get away from the work I feel no passion about. I’m the kind of person who finishes what they have started. When I did my first uni degree I hated my dad from forcing me to do so but now I appreciate this kind of behaviour can have advantages. I will persevere in this new career path until I’m forced off it. I have the suspicion that meditation will help with training my ego to let go of attachment to stuff, including the need to be right. Let’s see if it pays in the end.

* Update courtesy of my friend Manuel Borja (aka “the master”): the phrase refers to the belts used by Augustine monks who, unlike others, didn’t wear ropes to hold their robes.

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
www.tonicka.com.au
On Facebook

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.

Menu

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
On Facebook

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
gopaleo.com.au

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
www.coconutmagic.com

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.

Bar

Specials

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

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
hello@thecommons.com.au
thecommons.com.au

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.