Review: Deus Cafe (Camperdown)

As much as I dislike going to cafes that don’t have an online menu available (theirs is in coming soon status), I had read many good things about this bike shop cafe, and it was handy for both my sister and I to catch up.

Deus Cafe

So yes, there are bikes around and most of the tables are communal, but the place has it charm.

Deus Cafe

I normally find Italian coffee too bitter for my taste but I liked their brew.

Long black

Long black ($3.50)

They have gluten-free bread and, in general, staff members know how certain dishes can be tweaked to be made sans gluten. In the case of the dill cured Tasmanian salmon served with creamy scrambled egg + brioche, it was a simple bread swap. Both the salmon and eggs were delicious, BTW.

Dill cured Tasmanian salmon, creamy scrambled egg + GF toast

Dill cured Tasmanian salmon, creamy scrambled egg + brioche ($17 + $1.50 for GF bread)

The Deus breakfast burger, fried egg, slow cooked pork + romesco was a bit trickier. I was told the sauce contained gluten (it is traditionally made with bread) and even though I ordered it gluten-free, it came with sauce. Not a big deal as it was just a matter of scraping it out. Great breakfast sandwich.

Deus breakfast burger

Deus breakfast burger

Deus breakfast burger, fried egg, slow cooked pork + romesco ($10 + $1.50 for GF bread)

They have a few gluten-free baked goodies, too. Quite sweet but good for sharing.

Deus Cafe
98/102-104 Parramatta Rd
Camperdown NSW 2050
(02) 9519 3669
www.deuscafe.com.au
On Facebook

Deus Cafe on Urbanspoon

Review: Bion Societé (Camperdown)

A couple of weeks ago my sister and I met for breakfast at Bion Societé. I must say I thought the place looked a bit more ordinary than the photos I’d seen online. Management change, perhaps?

Bion Societé

Bion Societé

As usual, we started off with long blacks, which were thankfully served in larger than usual cups. Good coffee.

Long blacks

Long blacks ($3.50)

We shared the Tasmanian smoked salmon Benedict (soft poached eggs on brioche -we got gluten-free toast instead-, smoked salmon, cherry tomato, asparagus, sauce vierge, salmon roe-missing, green herb oil, baby herbs & hollandaise) and the BION Cafe breakfast (2 poached eggs served with caramelised tomato, mushrooms, pork sausage, bacon, wilted spinach & sourdough – we got gluten-free toast instead).

Tasmanian smoked salmon Benedict

Tasmanian smoked salmon Benedict ($18)

See that piece of buttery substance in the photo below? Not butter. Either margarine or one of those spreadable water-filled concoctions.

BION Cafe breakfast

BION Cafe breakfast ($20)

Unfortunately the food was average, which is a pity considering the place is nice, and service and coffee are not bad either.

Bion Societé
12/14 Layton Street
Camperdown NSW 2050
(02) 9557 5931
www.bionsociete.com.au

Bion Societé on Urbanspoon

Product review: Woolworths slow cooked stocks

As much as I love making my own broth, when time is tight it’s nice to have backup options. Some of them can be quite expensive but fortunately Woolies has come up with a range of slow cooked stocks that are decent and budget-friendly.

The stocks come in 4 flavours: King Island beef, vegetable, free range chicken and white fish. All have very clean ingredients lists. All good for cooking and okay for drinking straight. Perfect for emergencies and/or lazy people.

Woolworths King Island beef stock, vegetable stock

Woolworths King Island beef stock nutrition information

Woolworths vegetable stock nutrition information

Woolworths free range chicken stock, white fish stock

Woolworths free range chicken stock nutrition information

Woolworths white fish stock nutrition information

Product review: Giving whey another go (part 2)

Last week I reviewed a couple of decent whey protein options in the market. My selection criteria were: whey has to come from grass-fed cows, supplement must be crap-free (i.e. minimal and as natural as possible ingredients), and company must offer sample sizes. Because I’m more concerned with digestibility than supplement efficiency when it comes to whey protein, I didn’t care too much that the products I tried this time where in the concentrate form, as opposed to the isolate ones I tried last time. The main difference is that isolate contains more protein; if you want to read more details head over to this article on Mark’s Daily Apple.

Ultimately Natural has a bigger sample package (3 x 4-serve packs) that allows you to select from several different flavours. I chose organic Choc cacao (whey protein concentrate, organic cacao, stevia; 2.24g sugar per serve), banana & cinnamon (whey protein concentrate, banana powder, organic blue agave inulin, cinnamon, stevia; 4.7g sugar per serve) and organic vanilla (whey protein concentrate, organic blue agave inulin, organic vanilla bean powder, stevia; 1.9g sugar per serve). Yes, the banana cinnamon flavour is quite high in sugar, even when they label it as “natural” to minimize the shock while reading the label. I found these make a thicker shake than other products. I personally liked the banana flavour the least because it was quite sweet and a bit artificial IMO. Chocolate and vanilla were better but not great. Digestibility was not great, either.

Ultimately Natural whey protein concentrate

Ultimately Natural whey protein concentrate

True Protein has a single-serve sample sachet of whey protein concentrate sent to you for $2 if you like their Facebook page. I chose rich chocolate (whey protein concentrate, sunflower lecithin, natural cocoa, poly dextrose, xanthan gum, stevia, natural flavour; 1.7g sugar per serve). As you can see, not a super clean ingredient list but I had a hunch they know what they’re doing. Taste was great, it did take a bit more shaking than others to dissolve but in the end the texture was thick and creamy. Digestibility was great. This company also makes whey isolate products, pre-workout, etc. I might try some of them in the future.

True Protein whey protein concentrate

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/dairokkan/17276798788&quot; title="T

True Protein whey protein concentrate

In conclusion, the 2 brands I would buy again are The Naked Co and True Protein, however I’m planning to cycle whey protein as a post-workout meal to avoid any adverse effects that may arise from frequent intake.

Ultimately Natural
www.ultimatelynatural.com.au
https://www.facebook.com/ultimatelynatural

True protein
www.trueprotein.com.au
On Facebook

Recipe: Menestrón

The Peruvians took the minestrone recipe, brought with the Italian migrants, and turned into it menestrón. The Peruvian version is heavier on the basil and almost never features tomatoes. It’s also big on the carbs, not only featuring beans (sometimes a few different kinds) but also pasta (often penne). I grew up loving my mum’s and aunty’s, and I crave it when it starts getting chilly in Sydney. I make my version with no beans nor pasta, and often use whatever veggies I have available. This time, for example, I couldn’t find turnip, so used radishes instead.

Peruvian osso buco
Yield: 4 servings
Adapted from this recipe

Menestrón

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fat of choice (I used ghee)
  • 1 kg beef stew meat
  • 2 litres beef broth
  • 2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 turnip, coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 celery stick, coarsely chopped
  • 2 nicola potatoes, cubed
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1 cup green beans, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons parsley
  • 2 tablespoons basil
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Heat fat in a pot on low heat, cook garlic and onion for about 10 minutes, until very soft.
  2. Add meat, turn heat up and brown. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add carrots, turnip, leek, celery, potatoes and broth. Cook for about 1 hour, until the potatoes are tender.
  4. Add peas and green beans. Cook for another 15 minutes, turn off heat.
  5. Blend parsley and basil with a bit of broth, add to the soup, adjust seasoning and serve.

Review: Bowery Lane (Sydney CBD)

Life is busy at the moment. I don’t get to go eat out that often, and I don’t get to see people (outside of uni/work/centre) that often. That’s why I’m so happy I finally got to try Bowery Lane and hang out with my sister and our friend Susy.

We ordered several dishes to share, perhaps too many as they wouldn’t fit on the table! They had a menu marked with dishes that were or could be made gluten-free and did change one of the dishes when the gluten-containing version was sent to the table.

Given that a) I really enjoyed everything that we ordered and b) I don’t have time to write an in-depth review of each dish, I’ll just say what we had and let the photos speak for themselves.

Meaty dishes were char-grilled lamb ribs with gremolata and rocket, Wagyu bresaola with poached egg, asparagus, pecorino and black vinegar, and tuna carpaccio with avocado purée, pickled cucumber, grapefruit. We also had a vegetarian dish: La Stella burrata with confit heirloom tomato, radish, lemon basil and candied olive, and a couple of sides: whole roasted sweet potato with labneh and pumpkin seed, and sautéed seasonal greens with chilli (it is meant to come with garlic pangrattato -i.e. breadcrumbs-, but was ordered without it).

Char-grilled lamb ribs, gremolata, rocket

Char-grilled lamb ribs, gremolata, rocket ($14)

Wagyu bresaola, poached egg, asparagus, pecorino, black vinegar

Wagyu bresaola, poached egg, asparagus, pecorino, black vinegar ($17)

La Stella burrata, confit heirloom tomato, radish, lemon basil, candied olive

La Stella burrata, confit heirloom tomato, radish, lemon basil, candied olive ($17 entrée size)

Tuna carpaccio, avocado purée, pickled cucumber, grapefruit

Tuna carpaccio, avocado purée, pickled cucumber, grapefruit ($17)

Whole roasted sweet potato, labneh, pumpkin seed

Whole roasted sweet potato, labneh, pumpkin seed ($9)

Sautéed seasonal greens, chilli

Sautéed seasonal greens, chilli ($9)

Did we order too much food? There was no room for dessert and no desire to go for a drink and fries afterwards, so I would say yes. Not regretting it, though.

Bowery Lane
Shop 1, Level 4, 1 O’Connell Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9252 8017
www.bowerylane.com.au

Bowery Lane on Urbanspoon

Product review: Giving whey another go (part 1)

It’s been 5 years since I consumed whey protein regularly. When I went paleo I cut down most dairy and noticed a great improvement in my respiratory allergies. My approach to eating is to cycle foods as much as I can because there is good and bad in most stuff (with some exceptions that I prefer to stay away from). One of the things that I have incorporated lately for convenience and for the sake of variety is whey. I had done a few protein smoothies here and there and had noticed that quality made a huge difference in my reactions, particularly an itchy throat immediately after ingestion and a stuffy nose the day after.

I went on to investigate good quality whey protein powders that were grass-fed and crap-free, and that came in sample size. Below a review of the first two brands I tried.

The Naked Co. offers whey protein isolate in 3 flavours: organic cinnamon (whey protein isolate, organic cinnamon powder, organic stevia extract; 0.3g sugar per serve), organic vanilla (whey protein isolate, organic vanilla powder, organic stevia extract; 0.3g sugar per serve) and organic cacao (whey protein isolate, organic cacao powder, organic stevia extract; 0.2g sugar per serve). They are made in Australia, mix very well, taste amazing and are not super sweet.

The Naked Co. whey protein isolate

The Naked Co. whey protein isolate

Open To Play makes whey protein isolate from NZ, it’s gluten and lactose, GMO and preservative free, it’s sweetened with stevia and comes in chocolate (whey protein isolate, natural cocoa, organic stevia; 0.125g sugar per serve) and vanilla (whey protein isolate, natural vanilla, organic stevia; 0.125g sugar per serve) flavours. They mix well but take a bit more shaking than the other brand, taste great but I found them a bit too sweet for my taste.

I’ve been having a serve of protein powder in water post-workout 2-3 per week with no ill effects. I haven’t put on weight, nor fat. If anything, I think I’ve gotten a bit leaner, which was unexpected, but it could be a million things other than the whey.

Open to Play whey protein isolate

Open To Play whey protein isolate

I will try few more brands to decide which to buy if/when I need it. Keep your eyes peeled for the reviews.

The Naked Co.
thenakedco.com.au

Open To Play
www.opentoplay.com.au
On Facebook

Review: Dear Cafe (Newtown)

One day walking back from uni I noticed this new Vietnamese eatery on the far North end of King Street (right before it turns into City Road). I looked at the menu and one of the friendly staff approached me and handed me a menu.

Dear Cafe

Dear Cafe

I made sure we tried it a few weeks later, on a night I was craving soup. I ordered a bowl of beef pho with half serve of noodles, and Alvaro his favourite crispy skin chicken. I was also craving vegetables (and no, the bean sprouts and mint that come with pho don’t count as vegetables in my book), so I asked if I could have some steamed vegetables as a side. They were not listed as an option in the menu but the staff were nice enough to make it according to my specifications (whatever vegetables you have in hand, steamed, no sauce).

Beef pho

Beef noodle soup (pho) ($9.50)

Pho garnish

Pho garnish

Steamed vegetables

Steamed vegetables

The pho tasted great and was very generous in size. It did have MSG, though, judging from the hangover I had not long after eating. Alvaro enjoyed his chicken and he reckoned the sauce made it a tad better than his previous favourite (Happy Chef’s).

Crispy skin chicken

Crispy skin chicken ($10.50)

Alvaro also had a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, which was served in a nice glass for the photo.

Freshly squeezed OJ

Freshly squeezed OJ ($4.50)

Dear Cafe
28 King Street
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9517 3388

Dear Cafe on Urbanspoon

Review: Noodle Mee (Sydney CBD)

Believe it or not, it was me who suggested Noodle Mee for a weekday lunch catch-up with my buddy Sebastian. I had learned that this is, in fact, a pan-Asian eatery where not all noodles were wheat-based, and not dishes were noodle-based.

Photo menu

It was soup weather but I was torn between laksa and bibimbap. Bibimbap won this time, and while it didn’t look as great in real life as it did in the illuminated photo display (I blame the egg ring), it had good and fresh taste and comes with miso soup, kimchi and your choice of sauce (none for me).

Beef bibimbap

Beef bibimbap ($8.90)

My adventurous friend chose the mouth burner with chicken, which he described as oily spicy noodles with not enough vegetables. I tried some chicken and it was indeed spicy (not unbearable, though).

Mouth burner

Mouth burner ($8.90)

I’m still planning on trying the laksa one day, and Sebastian seemed keen on the hot food options in display (see photo below).

Hot food

Update!

Sebastian and I went back to try some of the hot food (him) and the laksa (me). Unfortunately my laksa was more hot than flavourful and Sebastian seemed underwhelmed with his choices (3 dishes plus brown rice). We won’t be back.

Prawn laksa

Prawn laksa ($9.90)

Hot food

Hot food ($8.90)

Noodle Mee
Wynyard Station
Sydney NSW 2000

NoodleMee on Urbanspoon

Review: Chur Express (Sydney CBD)

It took me so long to try the original Chur Burger (Surry Hills) that they managed to open a couple more shops, the most recently conveniently located very close to my office. It’s part of the posh fast food known as The Wintergarden, and it’s been incredibly busy since the day they opened. Sebastian and I were smart enough to head there the day after Easter, when there was no queue.

Chur Express

Chur Express

The menu is short (good for deciding quickly) and they offer their burgers without bun and with extra salad for a gluten-free alternative. Watch out: not all the burgers are gluten-free. I ordered the regular grilled beef burger which comes with cheese, tomato jam, mustard mayo, pickle, no bun. Sebastian ordered the marinated grilled chicken with hot sauce mayo, minted slaw, just because it seemed like the most spicy of the lot. I suggested ordering a serve of chips and coleslaw to share ($6 each).

Beef, chicken burgers, chips, coleslaw, salad

The lot

My burger looked very small and sort of unappealing. I’ve had naked burgers before (for example, in Burger Project) that looked way better. It was rare in the middle, the way I like it, but the patty wasn’t that great. I found it under-seasoned and the melted cheese on top didn’t add to the flavour. On the bright side, I liked the size of the extra salad (other places would call a couple of iceberg lettuce leaves “salad”). Chips were great, coleslaw was okay (Sebastian thought it was soggy and lacked zing). He also found his bun tasted like stale brioche.

Beef, chicken burgers

Burgers

Beef burger

Grilled beef burger ($10)

Sebastian

Marinated grilled chicken burger ($10)

Chur Express
1 O’Connell St
Sydney 2000
express@churburger.com.au
www.churburger.com.au/express.html

Chur Burger Express on Urbanspoon