About Life

Review: About Life (Bondi Junction)

I had shopped at About Life before, I had eaten their food (at an event they catered for) but I had never sat down at one of their in-store cafes for a meal. These work as a canteen/cafe, with salads, breakfast items (e.g. yoghurt, fruit, muesli) and hot dishes served up in cold/hot food displays for you to fill up a container, pay for your meal and go. There is also a menu with breakfast and lunch items you order like you would normally in a cafe.

We grabbed two small boxes with ready-made miso chicken slaw (white cabbage, carrots, shallots, chicken, red onion, miso and coriander dressing) and steamed vegetables. They were pretty filling and were much more interesting than your typical pre-made salad. Even the steamed vegetables, as boring as that sounds, came with the novelty of steamed cabbage and radishes.

Steamed vegetables, miso chicken slaw

Small boxes of steamed vegetables and miso chicken slaw ($7.90 each)

We also ordered a grass-fed linseed beef burger with cheddar, cheese, tomato, grilled onions, raw tomato relish & greens and a pulled pork paleo sandwich free-range pulled pork slow cooked in bone broth with raw tahini slaw & greens. You can swap the bread in any of the burgers for paleo bread (the pulled pork paleo sandwich comes with it by default). I liked the beef burger much better. The patty was huge and pink in the middle (the way I like it) and I liked how its meatiness was complemented by the cheese, relish and onions. Yes, eating with your hands would be a challenge. Use cutlery.

Pulled pork paleo sandwich

Beef burger (10.90) in paleo bread ($2.00)

The pork sandwich was good and had heaps of pork (everyone else: please note this is the right amount of meat to put in a sandwich), however I liked the flavour of the burger better. As I said before, the paleo bread is included by default so you won’t have to pay extra for it.

Grass-fed linseed beef burger

Pulled pork paleo sandwich (10.90)

Alvaro ordered a coconut water iced coffee that was so good, I ended up drinking half of it.

Coconut water iced coffee

Coconut water iced coffee ($6.90)

About Life Bondi Junction
31 Oxford Street
Bondi Junction
Website

About Life Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vim and Tonic @ Healthy Life

Review: Vim & Tonic (Sydney CBD)

A few weeks ago, when I went to Healthy Life to buy cricket flour bars (yes, cricket flour) I noticed they had a small cafe offering smoothies, ready-to-go salads served in jars, sweet treats (many of them GF and/or DF), wraps, etc.

Food

Brownies

After a couple of bad experiences with my lunch buddy Sebastian, I had my hopes set on Vim & Tonic to deliver an enjoyable, healthy feed.

Menu 2

Menu

When I first visited for breakfast, I ordered a chia pudding with rice milk, coconut nectar, raw cacao, hazelnut, desiccated coconut and berries, plus a long black. Staff were very helpful and friendly, especially the guy who helped me choose between the pudding and the granola with yoghurt. The pudding was good, tasty and not too sweet. Perhaps a few chopped nuts would make a good addition to make it more filling. Coffee was okay, and I did notice they have nut milks available for coffees and smoothies. Next time.

Vim & Tonic

Chia pudding, long black

Later that day Sebastian and I ordered a couple of salads. It was our first time eating salads out of a jar and we both agreed that even though the layers look pretty it was difficult to mix the contents, particularly the dressing, which falls to the bottom. Regardless, salads were good. Mine had lime dressing, quinoa, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, green beans, poached salmon, and kale. Sebastian’s had olive oil, Dijon mustard, white vinegar, lentils, quinoa, shaved fennel, cherry tomatoes, chicken and kale.

Salads, rolls

Chicken salad, Mojo kombucha, poached salmon salad

Chicken salad ($11.90), Mojo kombucha, poached salmon salad ($11.90)

Poached salmon salad

Poached salmon salad ($11.90)

We also shared a raw superfood brownie for dessert that was delicious, dense and moist.

Raw brownie

Raw superfood brownie ($3.50)

I’ll be back soon to try one of their signature coffee-based smoothies or maybe a custom-made one with coffee and organic whey protein.

Vim & Tonic
Inside Healthy Life
143 King Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9233 8433
vimtonic.com
On Facebook

Vim & Tonic Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Review: CocoLuscious organic coconut ice cream

On my very first visit to Paleo Cafe one of the many things that grabbed my eye was CocoLuscious organic coconut ice cream. The fact that Alvaro was not there was the perfect excuse to buy a tub to bring home. With many flavours to choose from it was very tempting to grab one of each but the price tag ($12+) helped with restricting the purchase.

That first tub was the tropical (a.k.a. plain coconut) flavour. The ingredients are coconut milk, agave nectar, desiccated coconut and guar gum. I know… not perfect but much better than commercial ice cream. It was delicious, and while less sweet than sugar-loaded ice cream, I would prefer even less (perhaps none) sweetener.

On another visit to Paleo Cafe (not that that’s the only shop that sells it, but the freezer is located in the perfect spot for inducing compulsive purchases) I grabbed a tub of the gold label vanilla ice cream, which is sweetened with coconut sugar instead of agave nectar (much healthier because is not pure fructose like agave). The rest of the ingredients are coconut milk, pure vanilla extract and guar gum. Again, not perfect but good enough for a once-in-a-while delicious indulgence.

CocoLuscious
cocoluscious.com.au

Food at Marrickville Organic Food Market

I’ve been buying most of my produce from farmers markets for a few years. I normally go to Eveleigh on Saturday mornings but during school holidays (i.e. no work on Sundays) I decided it was time to revisit the farmers market at Marrickville. As I remembered, there was less produce variety, but much better options for eating there, IMO. Three Sundays weren’t enough to sample all the food offerings, but we did our best.

On our first visit we weren’t really planning to have breakfast there until I spotted crackling. The Butcher’s Lunch sells Murray Valley pork served on a roll with crispy crackle, horseradish aioli and coleslaw, seasoned with fresh herbs and grass-fed beef served on a roll with a chilli lime & coriander aioli, coleslaw, seasoned with fresh herbs. They don’t have gluten-free rolls at the moment (coming soon, we were told), so we were suggested to bring our own or a container if we wanted just the meat and sides. We wandered around, got distracted with some pho (excellent breakfast in winter!) and used the empty plastic bowl and chopsticks to eat some roast pork + crackling with coleslaw and horseradish mayo. phenomenal. I know I said we tried to sample different things but I lied. We went back for more the following two weeks. The grass-fed beef with coleslaw and horseradish mayo was amazing, too, perhaps a tiny bit less amazing than the pork when there’s no crackling, as it happened once.

No crackling

Pork & coleslaw

Pork and coleslaw – no crackling ($9)

Pork & coleslaw

Pork and coleslaw – with crackling! ($9)

Grass-fed beef & coleslaw

Beef and coleslaw ($9)

Some people think we paleo people hate vegans. We don’t. Some vegan products can be really good when they use vegetables, fruits and nuts as ingredients. Also, vegan = dairy-free. Raw vegan is even better, because most of the times it means grain and legume free. We tried some stuff from a couple of vegan stalls, the first one was Venus Whole Foods, which offers great smoothies with hippy names. The first time we had Love (coconut milk, kale, banana, chia seeds and spirulina) and Empower Mint (hand-pressed almond milk, banana, cacao, cacao nibs and mint), another day we tried Wisdom (cinnamon bark, walnuts, hand-pressed almond milk and banana). All very good, not too sweet and full of nutrients.

Venus Whole Foods smoothies

Venus Whole Foods smoothies

The other vegan stall (which BTW is not there every week) sells raw vegan desserts. We tried a blueberry & lemon cashew “cheesecake” and a choc bliss ball. The ball was great, very similar to the balls we make sometimes at home. The “cheesecake” was okay but not mind-blowing.

Raw vegan desserts

Raw vegan desserts

Raw blueberry & lemon cashew "cheesecake"

Vegan blueberry & lemon cheesecake ($7)

Raw blueberry & lemon cashew "cheesecake", chocolate ball

Raw blueberry & lemon cashew "cheesecake" ($7), chocolate ball ($3)

If you like smoothies but dislike the hippy names, you can go to the juice stall and get yourself an equally tasty liquid meal. We tried the Healthy Start smoothie with banana, kale, mixed nuts, spinach, and coconut milk. Delicious. Note: we asked about the coconut milk and both stalls use the proper one (i.e. full-fat).

Smoothies menu - left

Smoothies menu - right

Healthy Start smoothie

Healthy start smoothie ($7)

The final thing we tried (at home) was smoked salmon and duck from a stall that claims to have “the best tasting smoked salmon in the universe and the best tasting olives in the galaxy”. A bit of an overstatement, perhaps? I liked the duck better than the salmon. The salmon at Fish Place beats it hands down.

Smoked salmon sign

Smoked salmon

Smoked salmon (around $13 per piece)

<p style="text-align:centerSmoked salmon, smoked duck, olives

Smoked salmon, smoked duck, olives

Marrickville Organic Food Market

Sundays 8.30 am to 3 pm
Addison Road Centre
142 Addison Road
Marrickville NSW 2204
www.organicfoodmarkets.com.au

Product review: Global Organics tomato passata

I know I’ve ranted before about canned/jarred vegetables, specifically tomatoes. I used to hate them, but know I use them quite often. I think what happened is that I came across the wrong brands/products in the past, often the ones that come with added ingredients that basically ruin the product. I also had more time to cook. Since then, I’ve found a few good products that not only save time but also money.

One day browsing through the health food/organic section of my local supermarket, I found a large glass bottle of organic passata (tomato purée) that had nothing else than organic Italian tomatoes. The brand is Global Organics and it also comes in a version with basil. At $2.99 per bottle, it ticks all the boxes: free of nasty ingredients, organic, obviously BPA-free, and cheap.

Global organics tomato passata

So what about the flavour? As you can imagine, it was almost as good as freshly-made passata. I made some puttanesca sauce with it (I’ll talk about the noodles in my next post), and used a few spoonfuls in a meatloaf.

Puttanesca on shirataki noodles

Organic Expo 2011

This was my second year of attending the Organic Expo. I had the feeling there were fewer exhibitors but somehow I managed to spend a lot more money.

Bonnie and I managed to taste almost all of the samples (wine included) available. Alvaro made a good effort in trying to keep up with us but was so tired from work that collapsed on a hay stack bench halfway through.

The Organic Expo is much smaller than the Good Food & Wine Show. My guess is that there’s not only a shortage in supply (there aren’t that many certified organic businesses around) but also in the demand, as there are still lots of people who don’t care about organic products.

We sampled good and average wines. The sad news is that the Malbec we loved from Argentina Organica was sold out when we came back to buy it before leaving.

Temple Bruer wines

Temple Bruer wines

Tamburlaine wines

Tamburlaine wines

Argentina Organica

Argentina Organica

Alvaro bought yerba mate from the Argentina Organica stall, complete with the mate (the container used to drink it) and the bombilla (stainless steel straw). For those who haven’t tried it, it’s great for keeping you awake and aiding digestion. Good stuff.

Pachamama yerba mate

Pachamama yerba mate

The Woolies’ Macro brand stall was massive. They had good offers, I bought two jars of tahini for $5 and a jar of fruit spread for $3. We couldn’t resist tasting (and re-tasting, if the word exists) the peanut butters (100% peanuts) and sausages.

Macro peanut butter

Macro peanut butter

Macro products

Macro products

They had the whole range of meats for display only.

Macro meats

Macro meats

Bonnie got tahini too, but the black one from the guys at Carwari. We had a taste of a wonderful hummus made with it. I got a bottle of agave nectar from them.

Carwari tahini

Carwari tahini

I haven’t run out of any of my pantry staples yet but I still visit the Honest To Goodness stall. I got a package of dried incaberries, an antioxidant-packed alternative to other dried fruits, to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Honest To Goodness

Honest To Goodness

Some fresh produce and gardening were spotted in the hall.

Produce

Produce

Gardening stuff

Gardening stuff

But the bulk of the expo consisted in packaged products, not only food but also supplements. We bought some greens powder from Synergy Natural and açaí powder from Amazonia.

Synergy Natural greens powders

Synergy Natural greens powders

I think I don’t need to say that in the expo we ate everything we normally avoid: grains, sugar, legumes and dairy. At least all of it was organic and I had no major issues the day after. Not even after tasting a lot of the cheeses and yogurt from the Organic Dairy Farmers stall. But the best thing was the butter. Awesome butter. I got a brick for a very good price ($4).

Organic Dairy Farmers cheeses & butter

Organic Dairy Farmers cheeses & butter

Going back to our normal eating patterns we sampled good beef, too. Steak and patties that were a bit cold, but still good. The brand is OBE and comes from Queensland. Sadly, they don’t have any distributors in Sydney yet.

OBE meats

OBE meats

There were lots and lots of snacks. Snacks are snacks and junk is junk, organic or not. But organic stuff just tastes better, cleaner, less chemical. Chocolates, raw bars, spiced nuts, vegetable chips… we tried them all, loved most and bought a few. I must mention the Loving Earth range of raw chocolates, not only because they taste AMAZING but because they have a few that feature Peruvian ingredients: purple corn, lúcuma, maca, and camu camu.

Açaí bars

Açaí bars

Ceres Organics raw food bars

Ceres Organics raw food bars

Loving Earth nuts

Loving Earth nuts

Loving Earth raw chocolates

Loving Earth raw chocolates

Absolute Organic chips

Absolute Organic chips

There were also a good number of beauty products stalls. When it comes to stuff you put on your skin I think it makes sense to pay a little extra for quality natural products because it all gets absorbed into your bloodstream. I bought a tube of Pure & Green aloe vera-based hydrating lotion.

Pure & Green beauty products

Pure & Green beauty products

All the shopping (and sampling) made us thirsty. Luckily there was 100% pure coconut water available at a good price ($5 for 2 cans, $25 for a case of 12).

Nakula coconut water

Nakula coconut water

Review: Pulsation Cafe (Sydney CBD)

Pulsation is my second choice when I don’t bring my lunch to the office (the first one is Saladworks). I first tried this tiny cafe when it was called Pulse and was under different management. What got my attention was their use of organic ingredients and their kick-ass salads and smoothies.

Luckily, different management didn’t mean different menu. They still do their famous burgers (Moroccan lamb seems to be worth a try), big salads, daily soup special, and smoothies.

Last time I was there it was cold outside but the warmth inside made me choose a fresh salad (the only starch-free item in the menu) and a smoothie. The Thai beef salad was good, loaded with bean sprouts, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, mint, sliced organic beef and Thai dressing. I’ve tried other 3 or 4 salads in the menu, they’re all tasty.

Thai beef salad

Thai beef salad ($10)

I’ve tried a few juices and smoothies here, too. Because I was craving orange juice for a while, I chose the Tropical Gang juice (mango, pineapple, lime, orange and passionfruit). The flavour combo is hard to beat. The only suggestion I’d make to the guys at the cafe is to serve the juices in proper glasses when you’re eating in.

Tropical gang juice

Tropical gang juice ($5)

Pulsation Cafe
2/332 Kent Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9290 2137

Review: Agapé Organic Restaurant & Bar (Botany)

We finally made it to Agapé! I’ve been wanting to try this organic restaurant since August last year (I remember the month because it was one of options for Alvaro’s birthday). My sister and I were given $20 discount vouchers in the organic expo, also in August, and it wasn’t until last Wednesday that we managed to go.

We booked a table for 6 pm and arrived a bit earlier. The restaurant was closed but luckily there were two pubs right across the road. A midi each and we were ready for dinner. The restaurant is located in the corner of Botany Road and Bay Street and it looks like it was a pub in the past.

Agapé

However, its rough exterior contrasts with its charming interior. Not my cup of tea, but you can tell they’ve cared about creating a nice environment for the diners.

Agapé

Probably because I’ve never been to a restaurant that plays my kind of music, I’ve learned to filter out whatever sound is coming from the speakers. In this case we couldn’t help noticing that the tunes selected didn’t always match the decor of the place, or even each other.

We faced the important dilemma of deciding what to order. Not as in “which dish”, but as in “how many of what kind of dishes”. Finally we decided that a main each, one side and a dessert each would be enough. To share we ordered the rocket, pecorino and pear salad. The main I chose was the kingfish and Gladys ordered the roasted lamb. The waitress told her that they were actually serving the lamb pan-fried instead of oven-roasted (apparently they didn’t have the right cut), so Gladys opted for the slow roasted pork loin instead. We ordered a glass of wine each: a semillon/sauvignon blanc for me and a shiraz/cabernet sauvignon/merlot for her.

The food took long to arrive, which made sense having ordered one slow roasted meal. While we waited, I saw the chef sticking his head out of the kitchen from time to time, perhaps nervous because there were no other customer except us. Finally the three dishes arrived.

The salad was very nice, the peppery taste of the rocket worked well with the sweetness of the super thinly sliced pear and honey, and the sharpness/saltiness of the cheese.

Agapé - Rocket, pecorino, pear

Rocket, pecorino, pear, honey, mustard dressing ($10)

My fish was wonderful. Two fillet pieces, one on top of the other, were surrounded by delicious asparagus, pea and broccoli puree, yoghurt and lemon juice, and topped with quinoa.

Agapé - Hiramasa kingfish

Hiramasa kingfish, asparagus, pea & broccoli puree, royal quinoa, homemade yoghurt & lemon ($32)

I had a bite of Gladys’ pork and the flavour was great, too. That particular ingredient combo is hard to beat.

Agapé - Slow roasted pork loin

Slow roasted pork loin, potato rosti, cabbage, apple, sage & spring onions ($32)

As soon as we had our first bites Gladys realised that she needed a starchy side. The only two options were bread and chips; she chose the chips (I swear it wasn’t me!), which luckily didn’t take long to arrive. They were well cooked, thick and with a bit of outer crunch. The homemade tomato sauce was chunky and tasty, much better than bottled stuff.

Agapé - Hand-cut chips, homemade tomato sauce

Hand-cut chips, homemade tomato sauce ($10)

The food was great, but Gladys had the feeling it lacked a “wow” factor. We thought that maybe it was because of the service, which without being rude, was not very welcoming.

While we ate a few more clients arrived. Mum, dad, grandma and baby in one table, construction workers in another one. Let’s say the clientele of the eatery is as eclectic as its music selection.

Some minutes after finishing our meals our empty plates were taken away and replaced by the dessert menu. Again, we were faced with a dilemma: should we have dessert wine or not? In the end, the decision was made by the waitress, who came back so quickly that no wine was ordered.

Gladys chose the lemon tart with sloe gin and lemon sorbet. The tart was delicious, covered by a syrup (I guess that’s where the sloe gin made its appearance, although I couldn’t feel any booze in there), a few orange wedges and a refreshing scoop of lemon sorbet.

Agapé - Lemon tart, sloe gin & lemon sorbet

Lemon tart, sloe gin & lemon sorbet ($16)

I had the poached berries with meringue and vanilla ice cream: a good number of berries surrounded by dollops of sweet crunchy meringue and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I liked it a lot but towards the end I realised that it was a bit too sweet. Ordering dessert wine would have been a terrible mistake. Now that I think about it, it would have been cool to have half servings of both desserts for each, to balance out the sourness of one with the sweetness of the other.

Agapé - Poached berries, meringue, vanilla ice cream

Poached berries, meringue, vanilla ice cream ($16)

I have until next month for using my $20 discount voucher. It would probably a good idea to try their famous spelt pizzas then.

Agapé Organic Restaurant & Bar
1385 Botany Road
Botany NSW 2019
(02) 8668 5777
www.agaperestaurant.com

Review: Organic Produce (Hunter Connection, Sydney CBD)

The Hunter Connection Shopping Complex is not only the best way to avoid traffic lights when going from my office to George, Hunter or Pitt streets. It also holds a good number of shops that sell a variety of stuff from baby clothes to booze. Food-wise, there are a few good-looking shops among dodgy-looking Asian eateries. The sushi rolls from the place that is right in the arcade are pretty decent, and the juices and sandwiches in the nearby juice shop don’t look bad. But what really made me plan a meal out (because I normally bring my lunch to work) was the word “organic” on glass walls right up the escalators that are near Pitt Street.

Organic Produce

On Tuesday I went to collect my ID from the consulate and then made a quick detour up the escalators to get my lunch. The shop belongs to Organic Produce, who besides supplying organic food to restaurants, run a catering service and a cafe in Surry Hills. The Hunter Connection seems an unusual place for them to have a smaller shop due to the nature of the other businesses (mainly cheap takeaway). Reality is that organic food is more expensive and its market share is smaller than that of conventional food, but this particular outlet seems to have quite a few regulars.

Even when I was after a salad, I had a quick browse through what was on display. There were chicken drumsticks, quiches, savoury tarts, sandwiches, wraps and a variety of prepared salads, everything very tempting.

Organic Produce - Chicken, quiches, tarts, sandwiches, wraps

Organic Produce - Salads

There were different sizes of containers for the salads, ranging from the small ($7.50) to the large ($11.50), the latter being as big as your regular Chinese/Thai/Indian takeaway container.

There were sweet things too, which I didn’t bother looking at to avoid craving them, and a cold display full of Parker’s organic juices.

Organic Produce - Juices

While I was checking out the salads the friendly guy behind the counter advised me that I could have more than one in a container. So I picked the protein and the beetroot salads and paid for a large container. Each of the salads has a tag with the complete list of ingredients clearly stating whether they’re organic.

The organic protein salad has organic carrot, organic free range eggs, organic chickpeas, organic quinoa, organic mung bean & carrot fritter, organic shallots, organic spinach, organic parsley, soy mayonnaise, chilli powder, cumin seeds, salt, and pepper. The organic roast beetroot salad has organic beetroot, organic walnuts, daikon, mint, balsamic vinegar, organic lemon, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper.

Organic Produce - Protein + beetroot salad

Organic protein salad + Organic roast beetroot salad, large ($11.50)

Both salads were good, perhaps a bit dry but the seasoning was right and they felt light, even when the serving was very satisfying. Highly recommendable.

Organic Produce
Hunter Connection Shopping Complex
7 Hunter Street
Sydney NSW 2000
www.organicproduce.com.au