Review: Fleetwood Macchiato (Erskineville)

This is a cute little cafe very close to where we live now. I first read about it 2 years ago here so I guess the delay is within my normal range.

Fleetwood Macchiato

Fleetwood Macchiato

The cafe is small but they manage to make their own pickles and other preserves, and a number of tempting (but gluten-full) sweet treats.

Fleetwood Macchiato: Pickles and preserves

Fleetwood Macchiato

My long black (Golden Cobra) was short and strong. Alvaro enjoyed a tea, served in a retro cup that reminded me of my aunties.

Fleetwood Macchiato: Long black

Long black

Fleetwood Macchiato: Tea


Dish number one was cauliflower, hazelnut, tarragon, mushroom, poached eggs, toast. The dish was pleasant but not “wow” IMO. It calls for a salty, meaty extra. Fortunately, the menu lists Rodriguez Bros. morcilla as one of the optional extras (along with chorizo and ham) for $5. It came with paper-thin slices of green apple, a perfect match. We chose the gluten-free toast option for this dish, a wonderful tapioca loaf that came with butter on the side. Best gluten-free bread we’ve had so far.

Fleetwood Macchiato: Cauliflower, hazelnut, tarragon, mushroom, poached eggs

Cauliflower, hazelnut, tarragon, mushroom, poached eggs

Fleetwood Macchiato: Gluten-free toast, butter

Gluten-free toast, butter

Fleetwood Macchiato: Rodriguez Bros Morcilla

Rodriguez Bros Morcilla

The braised free range pork, house-made apple kimchi, poached egg, peanuts, fried shallots, lime, toast was my favourite of the two dishes, with bolder flavours that appeal to my South American palate.

Fleetwood Macchiato: Braised free range pork, house-made apple kimchi, poached egg, peanuts, fried shallots, lime, toast

Braised free range pork, house-made apple kimchi, poached egg, peanuts, fried shallots, lime, toast

Service was exceptionally good and food presentation was outstanding. We paid $50 in total.

Fleetwood Macchiato
43 Erskineville Rd
Erskineville NSW 2043
(02) 9557 9291
<a href="

Fleetwood Macchiato on Urbanspoon

The Paleo Way

The story of chef Pete Evans has been like that of many other people: he struggled with his and his family’s health issues, found a real food approach to eating, tried it and never looked back. The difference is that, unlike me and my friends, Pete Evans is famous and is cleverly making use of his public status to spread the word. Evans doesn’t care about the media thinking he’s a hippie or an extremist because he knows he can positively impact many lives if he just gets people to eat real food.

That’s how The Paleo Way, a TV series featuring Evans and numerous experts in the paleo world was born. This series has been self-founded and will be aired in Channel 7. Evans enlisted author and nutritional therapist Nora Gedgaudas and have been presenting a talk entitle The Paleo Way in several cities in Australia. I want to say it’s a promotional event for the series but it certainly had much more content than a typical marketing campaign.

The tickets for the event in Sydney sold out very quickly and they had to change venues. There were approximately 1000 people in the audience. Some were already paleo, but I’d say the majority were newish to the concept and came to find out more.

The event was MCd by personal trainer, former My Kitchen Rules contestant and cookbook author Luke Hines, who shared his experience with eating and living according to the paleo template. He challenged attendees to not eat food out of a packet for a week and to find about functional training.

Also present was singer Wes Carr, who also shared his personal story and newest projects.

Pete Evans presented the trailer for the TV series and spoke about the importance of knowing where our food comes from, choosing meat from animals that have eaten a natural diet, and eating nose-to-tail. He also reminded parents in the audience about their responsibility over what goes into their children’s bodies.

The Paleo Way: Pete Evans

Pete Evans

Whoever has already listened to Nora Gedgaudas noticed that she didn’t really say anything new, but I think it was valuable information for those who didn’t know her. In fact, I think it may have been too much information for some people.

The Paleo Way: Nora Gedgaudas

Nora Gedgaudas

I liked that she included citations in her slides for geeks like me who like to read the papers and not just read one-sentence summaries. I took note of the following interesting bits of information to dig up:

  • 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women in Australia will develop cancer by age 85.
  • “The overall record of hominin activities is consistent through the stratified sequence – spanning hundreds to thousands of years – and provides the earliest archaeological evidence of sustained hominin involvement with fleshed animal remains (i.e., persistent carnivory), a foraging adaptation central to many models of hominin evolution.” (Ferraro et. al. 2013, article available here).
  • There’s a difference between “Ice Age” Paleolithic and “Neo-Paleolithic” (<10,000 years ago, i.e. more recent hunter-gatherer populations). Most of our history as humans developed in the "Ice Age" Paleolithic stage.
  • 200,000 years ago we were physiologically the same as now. We occupied every available niche. The foods available determined our shape and physiological requirements.
  • Fat to our physiology means survival. The body prioritises survival.
  • Nutrient density (i.e. dietary fat) was important for our ancestors.
  • As omnivores, we ate whatever was available. So we don’t know exactly what our ancestors ate but we know what they didn’t: processed foods, large amounts of grains, legumes, potatoes, etc.
  • Professor Michael P. Richards, through his work with Stable Isotopic Analysis has determined that early humans were high-level carnivores. We’re designed to get protein source from animal foods.
  • “The similarity in metabolic rates across a broad range of cultures challenges current models of obesity suggesting that Western lifestyles lead to decreased energy expenditure” (Pontzer et. al. 2012, article available here).
  • “In addition to meeting nutritional needs, animal foods also may have been associated with assisting in the colonization of new environments for hominins, allowing them to converge on a common dietary niche under different environmental conditions. By the later stages of hominin evolution, we have compelling evidence of high levels of meat consumption by Neanderthals… Upper Paleolithic humans appeared to forage on a broader and more geographically variable range of plants and animals. With the origins of agriculture, there was a shift again to more extensive exploitation of plants, including cereals. There was disagreement within the group about the extent to which humans have adapted or adjusted to the exploitation of cereal grains.” (Leonard and Robertson 1994, abstract available here).
  • Hunter-gatherer societies value animal fat.
  • More protein is not necessarily better for us for longevity.
  • Our genes have changed very little to accommodate for the consequences of agriculture. Agriculture also marked the beginning of “living to eat” as opposed to “eating to live”
  • Agriculture today produces massive environmental damage, pollution and water waste. Monocrops mean that humans are more vulnerable to mass famine.
  • “…a decrease in absolute brain size over the past 35,000 years within H. sapiens was paralleled by a corresponding decrease in average body size… This decrease continued through the Neolithic, at least in Europe.” (Ruff et. al. 1997, article available here)
  • Brain size has decreased from 1500 cm3 to 1350 cm3. Why? The brain is a fatty organ and conventional wisdom has pushed us to reduce fat intake. Essential fatty acids for the brain are arachidonic acid and DHA, present in meat and fish. Human brains also tend to shrink as we age.
  • We’re the only species that chooses to eat food we haven’t adapted to eat.
  • Brains are very expensive in energy terms.
  • All starch and carbohydrates are metabolised to sugar with the exception of fibre. Sugar causes glycation, which affects how we age, free radical activity, interference with fat metabolism, depletion of minerals, suppression of the immune system. The brain is especially vulnerable to glycation.
  • We now have an unnatural abundance of food. In the last 13 generations there has been a rapid rise in the amount of carbohydrates. The last 5 generations have seen an increase in the amount of trans fats and vegetable oils. The #1 carbohydrate source is HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). The #1 fat source is hydrogenated soybean oil.
  • Ron Rosedale, MD, after analysing centenarians and animal studies has determined that the marker for a long life are low insulin levels.
  • An interesting article by Dr John Briffa, mentioning Nora Gedgaudas
  • “The LCD [low-carbohydrate diet] is effective for normalizing blood glucose and preventing progression to type 2 diabetes in patients with IGT [impaired glucose tolerance].” (Maekawa et. al. 2014, article available here)
  • An increase in carbohydrate intake is correlated with a decrease in HDL (“good” cholesterol) and an increase in triglycerides). LDL become smaller and denser.
  • “the risk imposed by elevated fasting serum glucose levels on the development of AD may be present before the onset of diagnosed problems with glycemic control, and that it may be independent of the genetic risk associated with possession of the APOEe4 allele.” (Burns et. al. 2013, abstract available here)
  • “We found that increased risk [of dementia] was associated with higher glucose levels even at the lowest end of the glucose spectrum among people who had not received a diagnosis of diabetes, for whom increased risk was not likely to be a result of undiagnosed diabetes.” (Crane et. al. 2013, article available here)
  • Glucose is not the only primary source of fuel for the human body. Fat provides more calories per gram. Ketones are an stable energy source even in the absence of meals. Removes the term “blood sugar” from the mood and cognitive equation.
  • Feeling jittery, fatigued, bitchy or anything other than hungry after a meal is a sign of blood sugar issues.
  • All large mammals are designed to obtain the majority of their caloric intake from fat, through the bacterial fermentation of indigestible fibres. Humans don’t have bacterial fermentation-based digestion, but an hydrochloric acid-based digestion. Plus we have a poor conversion of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) to docosahexanoic acid (DHA), which is the primary fatty acid in brain. Therefore, we are better off getting the required amounts of fats from our diet, with emphasis in pre-formed DHA (fatty fish, grass-fed beef).
  • “Ketone bodies are a major fuel for the brain during the suckling period and hence the stimulation of ketogenesis at birth is an important metabolic event in adaptation of the newborn to extrauterine life.” (Medina and Tabernero 2005, abstract available here)
  • 11% of the brain is arachidonic acid.
  • “The large categories of disease for which ketones may have therapeutic effects are: (1) diseases of substrate insufficiency or insulin resistance, (2) diseases resulting from free radical damage, (3) disease resulting from hypoxia.” (Veech 2004, abstract available here)
  • In summary, our results suggest that experimental brain cancer is manageable through principles of metabolic control where plasma glucose levels are reduced and ketone body levels are elevated. Dietary energy restriction reduces tumour growth through effects on angiogenesis, apoptosis, and inflammation.” (Seyfried 2003, article available here).
  • “These associations may reflect a direct capacity for both
    dietary omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids to promote the atherosclerotic process… Whilst dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids may reduce the risk of thrombosis and might be expected to retard atherogenesis by lowering plasma levels of atherogenic lipoproteins, they may promote atherogenesis through
    their susceptibility to oxidative modification.” (Felton et. al. 1994, abstract available here)
  • “Despite the common belief that high cholesterol is a significant risk factor for coronary artery disease, several independent population studies in healthy adults have shown that low total cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular and non-cardiac mortality, indicating that high total cholesterol is not a risk factor in a healthy population.” (BMJ 2013, article available here)
  • “Current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats” (Chowdhury et. al. 2014, abstract available here)
  • Benefits from ketogenic diets include Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, epilepsy, schizophrenia, etc.
  • Cholesterol is important for membranes, steroidal hormones, normal cognitive function, etc.
  • According to Dr Richard Feinman, the deleterious effects of fats have always been measured in presence of carbohydrates.
  • Ketosis is defined as a concentration of 1-3 mmol/L of ketone bodies. It’s usually determined by measuring b-hydroxybutyrate levels. Ketonix is a new device that measures ketone bodies in breath. Measurement of ketone bodies in blood is the most accurate. To achieve this level, carbohydrate consumption must be less than 50-60 gras per day. Protein consumption must be less than 25 grams per day, so to avoid gluconeogenesis and prevent pathways that lead to aging. This way of eating is also cost-effective.
  • With all cognitive/mood problems it’s recommended to rule out gluten sensitivity.
  • Cyrex Labs, known as the best lab in the world for food sensitivities, are coming to Australia on December this year.
  • Autoimmunity is a silent epidemic. Poly-autoimmunity (multiple autoimmune diseases) is more the norm than the exception.
  • “During 45 years of follow-up, undiagnosed CD [celiac disease] was associated with a nearly 4-fold increased risk of death. (Rubio-Tapia et. al. 2009, article available here)
  • Food sensitivity impacts blood glucose and insulin through inflammation.
  • Sensitivity to gluten is a gateway food sensitivity via zonulin, which controls intestinal permeability.
  • Half of cases of gluten sensitivity have cross-reactivity with dairy sensitivity.
  • “Celiac disease autoimmunity may develop at any age, even in the elderly. During the past three decades the prevalence of celiac disease increased 5-fold in the US.” (abstract available here)
  • We should shoot for grass-fed meat because it’s more similar to wild game. CAFO meat has less omega-3 fatty acids, less beta-carotene and is implicated in more E.coli outbreaks.
  • What to do? Avoid the temptation of food as cheap entertainment, take time out, eat plant foods as detoxifying source of antioxidants and micronutrients, avoid GMOs, irradiated foods, supplement when needed.

Nora’s talk was followed by a short Q&A session with all the speakers. I felt the Q&A should have been longer, especially considering the audience size and mixed levels of knowledge.

The Paleo Way: Q&A

The Paleo Way: Q&A

The Paleo Way: Q&A


BMJ 2013;347:f6340

Burns CM, Chen K, Kaszniak AW, Lee W, Alexander GE, Bandy D, Fleisher AS, Caselli RJ, and Reiman EM (2013) Higher serum glucose levels are associated with cerebral hypometabolism in Alzheimer regions. Neurology, 80(17), 1557–1564.

Catassi C, Kryszak D, Bhatti B, Sturgeon C, Helzlsouer K, Clipp SL, Gelfond D, Puppa E, Sferruzza A, and Fasano A (2010). Natural history of celiac disease autoimmunity in a USA cohort followed since 1974. Annals of Medicine, 42, 530–538.

Chowdhury R, Warnakula S, Kunutsor S, Crowe F, Ward HA, Johnson L, et al. (2014). Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med., 160, 398-406.

Crane PK, Walker R, Hubbard RA, Li G, Nathan DM, Zheng H, Haneuse S, Craft S, Montine TJ, Kahn SE, McCormick W, McCurry SM, Bowen JD, and Larson EB (2013) Glucose levels and risk of dementia. N Engl J Med., 369(6), 540-8.

Felton CV, Crook D, Davies MJ, and Oliver MF (1994). Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and composition of human aortic plaques. The Lancet, 344(8931), 1195-1196.

Ferraro JV, Plummer TW, Pobiner BL, Oliver JS, Bishop LC, et al. (2013) Earliest Archaeological Evidence of Persistent Hominin Carnivory. PLoS ONE 8(4),

Leonard WR and Robertson ML (1994), Evolutionary perspectives on human nutrition: The influence of brain and body size on diet and metabolism. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 6, 77–88.

Maekawa S, Kawahara T, Nomura R, Murase T, Ann Y, Oeholm M, and Harada M. (2014) Retrospective study on the efficacy of a low-carbohydrate diet for impaired glucose tolerance. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes., 7, 195-201.

Medina JM and Tabernero A (2005). Lactate utilization by brain cells and its role in CNS development. J Neurosci Res. 79(1-2), 2-10.

Pontzer H, Raichlen DA, Wood BM, Mabulla AZP, Racette SB, et al. (2012) Hunter-Gatherer Energetics and Human Obesity. PLoS ONE 7(7), e40503.

Rubio-Tapia A, Kyle RA, Kaplan EL, Johnson DR, Page W, Erdtmann F, Brantner TL, Kim WR, Phelps TK, Lahr BD, Zinsmeister AR, Melton LJ 3rd, Murray JA (2009). Gastroenterology, 137(1), 88-93.

Ruff, C. B., Trinkaus, E., & Holliday, T. W. (1997). Body mass and encephalization in pleistocene homo. Nature, 387(6629), 173-6.

Seyfried TN, Sanderson TM, El-Abbadi MM, McGowan R, Mukherjee P (2003). Role of glucose and ketone bodies in the metabolic control of experimental brain cancer. Br J Cancer, 89(7), 1375-82.

Veech RL (2004). The therapeutic implications of ketone bodies: the effects of ketone bodies in pathological conditions: ketosis, ketogenic diet, redox states, insulin resistance, and mitochondrial metabolism. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids, 70(3), 309-19.

The Pho Edition (various locations around Newtown)

I really like soup + I have VFFS (Vietnamese food fixation syndrome) + it’s cold = I’ve been eating a lot of Pho lately. I decided to take Alvaro (and sometimes our housemate Neil) in a journey to discover the best pho in the neighbourhood. Here’s my report.

Remember Saigon

The beef pho is massive, has good flavour but also too many noodles and not that much meat.

Remember Saigon: Beef pho

Beef pho ($11.90)

Shop 4/80 Enmore Road
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 8068 8618

Remember Saigon on Urbanspoon

Pho 236

The beef pho is very salty but tasty. We recently found out they put MSG in it, and also that I’m not sensitive to MSG. The soup has a decent amount of meat and lots of noodles, making it very filling. Takeaway service is normally pretty fast.

I’ve also tried the chicken noodle soup (Neil and I prefer it over the pho because it comes with veggies) and the laksa.

Pho 236: Accompaniments

Pho 236: Beef pho

Beef pho ($8.80)

Pho 236: Chicken noodle soup

Chicken noodle soup ($8.80)

Pho 88

Soups come in small and large, with the small size being large enough for a reasonably hungry person. We tried the beef and duck pho, both had a decent amount of meat and lots of noodles. The broth was salty but also sweet for our taste. Service was slow.

Pho 88: Garnish

Pho 88: Pho

Beef pho ($9.50, small)

Pho 88: Pho duck

Duck pho ($14.50, small)

343 King Street
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9519 4972

Pho 88 on Urbanspoon

Tre Viet

The beef pho was very average. Plus, the restaurant is big and service can get slow.

Tre Viet: Pho accompaniments

Tre Viet: Pho

Beef pho ($12.50)

152-154 King Street
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9516 5500

Tre Viet on Urbanspoon

Great Aunty Three

The beef pho is smallish (but also cheaper than most) and very good. One of my favourites. Good broth, quality meat, fresh sides.

Great Aunty Three: Pho

Great Aunty Three: Pho

Beef pho ($8)

115 Enmore Rd
Enmore NSW 2042
(02) 9519 2886

Great Aunty Three on Urbanspoon

Rice Paper

The beef pho is nice, with a decent amount of good quality meat.

Rice Paper: Pho accompaniments

Rice Paper: Beef pho

Beef pho ($13)

131 King St
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 8065 7271

Bar Pho

This is one of the hottest pop-up spots at the moment. After great success in Bondi Farmers Markets, they are now offering outstanding soup at my local (Eveleigh) markets every Saturday from 8am to 1pm, and are also popping-up in Surry Hills. They serve beef and vegetarian pho in 2 sizes. This is probably the best quality pho you will find in the market: flavourful broth, grass-fed beef, and no MSG. My favourite without a doubt. They also sell jars of Mumma’s Chilli oil (unfortunately made with vegetable oil).

Bar Pho

Bar Pho: Accompaniments

Bar Pho: Beef pho

Beef pho ($10 large, $6 small)

Bondi Farmers Market, Saturday 9am-1pm
Eveleigh Market, Saturday 8am-1pm
8 Hill Street Surry Hills NSW 2010, Friday/Saturday 4pm-8pm, Sunday 12pm-8pm
On Facebook

Review: Henley’s Wholefoods (Bondi Junction)

I’ve been wanting to try Henley’s Wholefoods since the first time I went to Paleo Cafe but every trip to Bondi Junction has been to try new dishes at Paleo Cafe. Eventually my sister and I decided it was about time to give Henley’s a shot.

The cafe is located in the same commercial building, but it’s easy to miss. You have to go down the stairs (towards the gym and sports supplement store) and you’ll find it.

Henley's Wholefoods: From stairs

Henley's Wholefoods: Outside

Henley’s philosophy is well-aligned with mine, and that’s why I didn’t mind travelling all the way there to support their business.

Henley's Wholefoods: Statement

Everything at Henley’s is gluten-free (except the toast) and they have a tempting array of healthy sweet treats and breakfast-type stuff. They also have some ready-made salads if you’re in need of healthy takeaway.

Henley's Wholefoods: Sweets

On the beverage front, they sell Botanica cold-pressed juices and offer almond milk for the coffee. We ordered our long blacks before I remembered the almond milk (we’re so used to standard cafes!). Coffee was on the strong/sour side.

Henley's Wholefoods: Coffee

But we were there for brunch and that’s what we got. The green eggs: baby spinach-egg ribbon scramble, baked polenta, chorizo, avocado, red onion, cilantro and tomato salsa were nice but a lot different to what I was expecting. More like an airy egg muffin, if you wish. Flavours were pleasant but lacked salt and kick.

Henley's Wholefoods: Green eggs

Green eggs ($22)

The weekend special, an open omelette with lamb sausage, red onion, tomato chutney & Sonoma toast (ordered without the toast), was tastier IMO. The presentation was beautiful. The ingredients in both meals were high quality (for example, I could see they use organic eggs and not just plain free-range) and super fresh.

Henley's Wholefoods: Open omelette with lamb sausage

Open omelette, lamb sausage, red onion, and tomato chutney ($22)

Henley’s Wholefoods
9/310-330 Oxford Street
Bondi NSW 2022
(02) 9387 7733
On Facebook

Henley's Wholefoods on Urbanspoon

Review: Miss Chu Tuckshop (Sydney CBD)

My latest CBD Vietnamese feed was the famous Miss Chu tuckshop, in Regent Place (George Street). I haven’t been there in a million years, and so hadn’t noticed the cool décor they have in place.

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Menu

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Menu

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Blackboard

Even the water glasses (and seating?) aim to transport you to Vietnam.

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Water

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Seating

The usual condiments plus eco-friendly cutlery and serviettes are provided next to each table.

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Condiments, cutlery

This place gets crazy busy so it’s best to come early. To increase efficiency they use the pre-printed form system; you tick your order, write down your name, pay and wait for your meal that comes out the appropriate window (except for the rice paper rolls, which are handed out by the cashier).

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Collection window

It was cold but I was excited to see they had green papaya salad in the menu. I asked if it came with any sort of meat but it didn’t, and was suggested to add salmon for $4. The salad was delicious and the girl at the cashier was right: the salmon went really well with it. I liked the fact that it came with cashews instead of peanuts.

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Green papaya salad + salmon

Green papaya salad ($14) + salmon ($4)

Sebastian ordered the seared Atlantic salmon vermicelli salad, which was apparently as good as it looked.

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Seared Atlantic salmon vermicelli salad

Seared Atlantic salmon vermicelli salad ($14)

Food was great but portions were on the smallish side. Sebastian suggested getting some rice paper rolls. I was a bit hesitant due to my recent realisation that I’m not really into rice paper rolls. But Miss Chu is the self-appointed “queen of the rice paper rolls” so it was fair to give them a shot. I was given permission to choose the flavour (anything except seafood): pork & pate. At $10 for 2 rolls I thought they’d better be good.

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Pork & pate rice paper rolls

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Pork & pate rice paper rolls

Miss Chu Tuckshop: Pork & pate rice paper roll

Pork & page rice paper rolls ($10)

And you know what? They were great. Best rice paper rolls I’ve ever had. Plus, you can ask for fish sauce instead of the usual sauce for a gluten-free option.

Miss Chu Sydney CBD Tuckshop
501 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9283 0357

Misschu CBD Tuckshop on Urbanspoon

Review: Level One Lounge (Hornsby RSL, Hornsby)

Now that my friends Ana and Rale are parents, their birthdays are no longer celebrated in Newtown with dinner and drinks (emphasis in the drinks). Now they prefer to be closer to home (up North), and I like it because it takes me out of my comfort zone. This year Ana’s first of multiple celebrations was a girls night out at Hornsby RSL’s Level One Lounge.

As an RSL newbie I wasn’t sure what to expect with regard to food quality. The popular choice of the night was the platter with 3 small meals to share plus grilled flatbread for $20 (member price). Gluten-free options were clearly indicated in the menu. I asked if the bread could be substituted for something else but it couldn’t. I ordered my plate with sautéed chorizo with capsicum, olive and rosemary, garlic and chilli mushrooms, and lemon calamari with garlic aioli. I figured the portions would be small (hence the bread to fill you up) so I ordered some mixed marinated olives as well. I was wrong! The servings were very generous and I struggled to almost finish all the food. I offered the bread to the other girls but they couldn’t even finish theirs. Everything was tasty, with the calamari being my favourite bit since it’s hard to find tender, crunchy, gluten-free calamari.

Level One Lounge: Sautéed chorizo with capsicum, olive and rosemary, garlic and chilli mushrooms, lemon pepper calamari with garlic aioli

Sautéed chorizo with capsicum, olive and rosemary, garlic and chilli mushrooms, lemon pepper calamari with garlic aioli ($20)

Level One Lounge: Mixed marinated olives

Mixed marinated olives ($4.50)

Other sharing dishes ordered that night included harissa prawns, slow cooked pork in Chinese 5 spice, and slow roasted pork ribs in chipotle BBQ sauce. Everything looked fantastic and all servings were huge.

Level One Lounge: Lemon pepper calamari with garlic aioli, slow cooked pork in Chinese 5 spice, harissa prawns

Lemon pepper calamari with garlic aioli, slow cooked pork in Chinese 5 spice, harissa prawns ($20)

Level One Lounge: Sautéed chorizo with capsicum, olive and rosemary, lemon pepper calamari with garlic aioli, slow cooked pork in Chinese 5 spice

Sautéed chorizo with capsicum, olive and rosemary, lemon pepper calamari with garlic aioli, slow cooked pork in Chinese 5 spice ($20)

The only person who didn’t order a share platter had a flatbread pizza with marinated chicken, spinach, mushroom, semi-dried tomatoes and Camembert.

Level One Lounge: Marinated chicken, spinach, mushroom, semi-dried tomatoes and camembert flatbread pizza

Marinated chicken, spinach, mushroom, semi-dried tomatoes and Camembert flatbread pizza ($17.50)

Level One Lounge
Hornsby RSL
4 High Street
Hornsby NSW 2077
(02) 9477 7777

Review: Rice Paper (Newtown) (2)

So everyone knows that I’m in the midst of a Vietnamese obsession at the moment. I would say my favourite Asian food is Japanese but I haven’t found really good Japanese food that doesn’t cost a fortune in Sydney yet. The second best for me is Vietnamese.

I’ve been to Rice Paper before (review here) but oddly enough I had never tried their pho. So I ordered one and let Alvaro choose another dish to share.

The soup was good, good flavour, perhaps not super rich but the beef ticked both boxes: quantity and quality.

Rice Paper: Pho accompaniments

Rice Paper: Beef pho

Beef pho ($13)

The Vietnamese chicken curry Alvaro ordered was very saucy (soupy, if you wish), nicely flavoured and very filling. Lots of chicken in there. It also had potato and sweet potato and Alvaro, like any Peruvian, ordered rice on the side. No wonder there are not many slender people there :)

Rice Paper: Chicken curry

Vietnamese chicken curry ($20)

Rice Paper
131 King St
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 8065 7271

Product review: Kitz Living Foods

Nuts, seeds and other plant foods (grains, legumes, etc.) contain anti-nutrients that can keep our bodies from digesting them properly and absorbing minerals and other micro-nutrients (for a longer explanation read this article). Cooking, soaking, sprouting and fermenting are ways to reduce the anti-nutrient content of foods. Nuts and seeds that have been soaked (usually overnight) and then dried at a low temperature are commonly known as “activated”.

Kitz Living Foods offers activated nuts and seeds and snack products made with them that are free from: gluten, wheat, dairy, yeast, eggs, soy, peanuts, sesame, fish, shellfish and cane sugar. They are raw and vegan (and paleo!) and made from mostly organic ingredients.

We’ve tried only a couple of their wide variety of products but enough to give us the feeling that all of them are top-notch quality. We were most impressed by the sweet snacks, which are the least sweet we’ve found in the market so far. They come in 150g re-sealable bags, cut in sensibly-sized portions. Listed below are the normal and member prices in the Go Vita shop I bought them from.

Kitz chunks

Kitz chunks nutritional info

Kitz chunks ($12.30, $9.72 member price)

The banana, date & walnut chunks are made of Australian sunflower seeds, dates, organic bananas, walnuts, organic coconut, organic raw vanilla, and organic cinnamon. These had a bit of crunch but were more on the chewy side. Great flavour and pretty filling.

The naughty but nice chocolate chunks are made of dates, Australian sunflower seeds, cashews, organic coconut, organic fair trade raw cacao nibs, organic fair trade raw cacao, organic dark agave syrup, organic raw vanilla, organic cinnamon. I like these a bit better because they were crunchier and I really like chocolate.

The savoury crackers come in 100g bags and were a bit bland IMO. We tried the Italian herb & garlic crackers a while ago and the gourmet 4 seed crackers recently. They were both very crumbly (think them as a vehicle to put stuff on them, rather than spoon stuff with them) and, as I said, a bit on the bland side. For savoury snacks, I prefer Flats.

Kitz gourmet 4 seed crackers

Kitz gourmet 4 seed crackers

Kitz gourmet 4 seed crackers ($9.70, $7.66 member price)

Following yesterday’s post, I do consider these snacks to be processed foods but of the benign kind.

Kitz Living Foods
Tweed Heads NSW
(07) 5536 7983

Food for thought: Processed foods

I just came back from The Paleo Way, an event featuring Pete Evans and Nora Gedgaudas. I’ll be writing more about it in the near future but for the moment let me say it was really good to see 1000 people attend the event. IMO it doesn’t necessarily mean that paleo is going mainstream any time soon, but rather that more people are taking action to improve their health. Good stuff.

Anyway, what I wanted to talk about today is processed foods. Are they evil? Are they “okay in moderation”? Well, it depends on what exactly you mean by “processed”. Most people will agree Doritos and Mars bars are processed foods but somehow think granola bars, breakfast cereal and Tip Top bread are not. Others, in the other end of the spectrum, will say that heating is processing, and thus a cooked steak is a processed food, as is a peeled carrot. I agree that everything you do to food is a level of processing but where to draw the line? Do we even have to draw a line?

I’ve been posting product reviews because I believe some processed foods are okay in certain circumstances, for example, when you don’t have time to cook or when carrying a container with a home-made stew is not practical. Abel James interviewed Dr Joel Fuhrman a few months ago (video here), who said paleo is wrong because it promotes the use of “processed oils” like coconut and olive oil. Then he went on to say that his diet promotes whole grains, etc. So his whole grains require less processing that extracting oil from a fatty fruit. Really?

I personally cook the majority of my meals with fresh produce and good quality meats, and when I eat out I prefer ordering dishes that have been cooked from scratch (as opposed to mass-produced), preferably from fresh ingredients. I am also comfortable with consuming minimally processed foods once in a while (shredded coconut, passata made out of 100% crushed tomatoes, tuna chunks in olive oil, olives in brine, seasoned and dried beef – i.e. jerky, etc.). In general, if the processing has taken a few steps and the ingredient list does not include other processed foods (refined sugar, seed oils, etc.) nor additives (preservatives, colourings, flavourings, etc.), I’m cool with calling that thing “food”.

Product review: Macro raw food bars

The good old Woolies has jumped into the bandwagon of raw food bars. My coach gave me one the other day and I was pleased to read the short ingredients list: dates (69%), nuts (18%) (almonds, cashews, walnuts), cocoa liquor, cocoa powder (plus peppermint oil in the chocolate & mint flavoured one). Yes, the dates are the first and most abundant ingredient but apart from the whack of (natural) sugar the bar is crap-free. They even use real nuts and not peanuts! Yay!

Macro raw bars

Macro raw food bars ($1.99)

As expected, the bars were chewy (and less crumbly than these) and quite sweet, but because they’re small they’re unlikely to send you on a food coma. I liked both flavours about the same.