Gluten Free Expo 2017

Last weekend I attended the Gluten Free Expo 2017, organised by Coeliac Australia. It was my first time there, and I found it really valuable to get to know which brands I can use and recommend to my clients who have CD or an intolerance to gluten.

Talks and demos

There were two stages were the event sponsors (Coles and others) ran cooking demos and talks for the audience.

Coles cooking demo Talk

Bread

It was really good to find out that gluten free bread is getting better and better. There are a few brands out there that are producing non-cakey, non-crumpety bread that are worth checking out: Schär with really good European-style breads, Genius Gluten Free with a sandwich bread that is remarkably similar to regular bread, Bakers Maison, with a pretty good (but expensive) sourdough and white loaf bread, and last but not least Deeks Bread, who make really good products (short and sweet ingredients lists) and a potato-based paleo loaf.

Genius Gluten Free Genius Gluten Free Bakers Maison bread Bakers Maison bread
Deeks bread Schar bread Simply Wize crusty bread Gluten Free Bakehouse bread

Ready-made meals

The other sector in gluten-free products that seems to have grown exponentially is that of ready-made meals. This is especially important for people who need to eat gluten-free but don’t have enough time or skills to cook every meal from scratch. A couple of companies that I particularly liked were The Gluten Free Meal Co., which offers a wide variety of really tasty meals and finger food delivered to your door and New Chinese Garden, with single-serve Chinese meals that are really tasty and free of crappy ingredients

.

The Gluten Free Meal Co - butter chicken The Gluten Free Meal Co - meat lovers pizza bites The Gluten Free Meal Co - vegetable samosas The Gluten Free Meal Co - Korean beef
The Gluten Free Meal Co - meatballs and penne New Chinese Garden meals Rice King Jase's Kitchen frozen pizzas

Beer

The next category in order of importance is, of course, beer. Both O’Brien and Wilde were present and, because they were not allow to sell booze at the event, I had to come back for more samples multiple times.

O'Brien beer Wilde Gluten Free Beer

Beverages

Other beverages showcased at the expo included chocolate tea, hydration drinks, organic herbal teas and kombucha.

Chocolate tea Bolero hydration drinks Neo Organic Tea Opera Foods kombucha, etc.

Wraps and pizza bases

There were also a few brands of wraps and pizza bases, of which Julian’s Gluten Free pizza bases are worth mentioning, as they have developed a thin, crisp, non-cakey base that is very close to the real deal.

Julian's Gluten Free pizza bases Julian's Gluten Free pizza bases BFree wraps True Foods wraps

Snacks

Most of the products at the expo were snacks. Being a dietitian, I feel compelled to encourage people to eat real food for the bulk of their meals and avoid processed snacks. Having said that, there’s a time and a place to indulge on treats. A few of them that caught my eye were: Schar sweet and savoury biscuits and crackers, which are very close to the real deal, Carman’s seedy crackers, Simply Wize‘s Oreo-type cookies, and Syndian dips.

Schar biscuits Schar Simply Wize biscuits Carman's crackers
Carman's bliss balls Carman's protein bars Piranha probiotic snacks Piranha snacks

Roasted fava beans

Roasted chickpeas Crafted Blends quinoa chips Crafted Blends snacks
Food For Health clusters Food For Health bars Food For Health bites Syndian dips

Sauces

The sauces and meal bases had a strong presence, too, making it easy to whip up gluten-free Asian and Mexican dishes.

Spice Craft sauces Diego's Foods Ding The Recipe sauces Ayam

Baking

The flours & mixes section was represented by very well known brands such as Bob’s Red Mill and relatively new players such as Teff Tribe who make a range of mixes utilising teff (a low GI, high protein, high fibre gluten free grain), and Melinda’s Gluten Free with their low(er) carb range of cake mixes.

Bob's Red Mill Teff Tribe Teff Tribe Melinda's Gluten Free
Melinda's Gluten Free Melinda's Gluten Free Yes You Can baking products Yes You Can cake mixes

Food stalls

Finally, no expo is complete without food stalls. There were hot dogs, coffee, donuts and arepas, but I could not fit more food in my belly.

Hot dogs Coffee Donuts Arepas

For the full list of exhibitors, click here and keep your eyes peeled for next year’s expo.

Gluten Free Expo

Belles Hot Chicken

Sydney food bloggers Xmas 2016 @ Belles Hot Chicken (Sydney CBD)

I’m happy to report that I made it to this year’s Sydney food bloggers Xmas celebrations. This is the second consecutive non-picnic #sfbxmas event, which means simpler organisation and logistics. It also means less pressure on people to come up with a new/impressive/delicious recipe to make.

Food bloggers

We met at Belles Hot Chicken in Barangaroo. Even though we got there early, we got caught in catching up with bloggers we knew and getting to know to the ones we didn’t and soon there was a long queue to order food.

Food bloggers

In the true spirit of Xmas food blogging, we ordered different stuff so that our cameras and tastebuds could enjoy some variety. But first, drinks. I was surprised to learn that these guys sell natural wines. I’ve been hearing about them for a while (since the owner of this company has been interviewed in many of the podcasts I listen to) but hadn’t had the pleasure of trying one until now. The hot weather called for a white, which was surprisingly good; cloudy, low in alcohol (or at least it seemed so) and well balanced. They have a couple of orange wines, too. Other drinks at the table included iced tea and bourbon.

Drinks

Food on our table included Belles chicken sandwich with Old Bay fries, fish with pickled vegetables, chicken tenders with broccoli almond salad, chicken and waffles, chicken ribs in peach BBQ with Carolina slaw, 1/2 dozen hot clams, chicken wings with Old Bay fries.

Food

May I rant first? I ordered the chicken because it was one of the two “meat” items labelled as gluten-free (the other “meat” is mushrooms). It came, like most of the other dishes, served on a slice of white bread. Seriously? The pickles were strong and good, although I found the turmeric flavour slightly overpowering. My favourite side, as usual, was the slaw, followed by the broccoli almond salad. Everyone seemed reasonably pleased with the food, especially with the chicken ribs.

Belles chicken sandwich, Old Bay fries

Belles chicken sandwich, Old Bay fries ($17)

Pickled vegetables, fish

Fish, pickled vegetables ($17)

Tenders, broccoli almond salad

Tenders, broccoli almond salad ($18)

Chicken & waffles

Chicken & waffles ($20)

Chicken ribs in peach BBQ, Carolina slaw

Chicken ribs in peach BBQ ($14), Carolina slaw ($5.5)

1/2 dozen hot clams

1/2 dozen hot clams ($15)

Wings, Old Bay fries

Wings, Old Bay fries ($17)

Of course this was more about the company than the food. It was great to catch up with (or at least say hello to) bloggers I haven’t seen in ages (hey Suze, Helen, Tammie, Sara, Simon and Raff, and to meet new foodie friends (hey Jesse and Alice!). Once again many thanks to Suze and Helen for organising!

Belles Hot Chicken
33 Barangaroo Avenue
Barangaroo NSW 2000
(02) 8355 7879
Website

Belles Hot Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sydney food bloggers Xmas picnic 2014

This year the Sydney food blogger Christmas picnic changed locations. After last year’s rain, the ladies in charge, Helen and Suze, found a weather-proof venue: one of the pavillions at Bicentennial Park (Sydney Olympic Park).

Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas picnic 2014

The shade was perfect to guard us from the scorching sun. There was a good supply of cold drinks to keep us refreshed.

Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas picnic 2014

Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas picnic 2014

The way these things work is that each blogger brings a dish to share and a food-related present for Kris Kringle. In the past few picnics the organisers have provided forms for writing down the dish description, blogger name and blog, and I was happy to see that now the forms include tick boxes to mark dishes as gluten-free, nut-free, vegan and/or vegetarian.

As expected, bloggers are given a generous period of time to take photos of food.

Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas picnic 2014

Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas picnic 2014

Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas picnic 2014

Then we were given permission to attack. The most anticipated dish IMO was Ramen Raff‘s macarons. For some reason, even though I’m not a big macaron fan and I prefer eating savouries before sweets, I felt compelled to grab one before they were gone (actually someone else grabbed it for me, thank you!). The filling was half melted but the shell was perfect! I get the anticipation now. Great job, Raff!

Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas picnic 2014

I was happy to see that Irene’s lemper made a comeback. You’ve heard me say before: if I eat rice it has to be worth it. This is one of such cases.

Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas picnic 2014

The pulled pork rice paper rolls by Cath were awesome (and worth their rice), too. I almost missed them because they were sort of hidden (thanks Kelly for showing me where they were!).

Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas picnic 2014

We don’t do awards but if we did, the award for the prettiest food would go to the hamburger cupcakes by the guys behind Oh, Burger Me.

Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas picnic 2014

And the award for the most thoughtful contribution would go to this red velvet cake brought by the Khismosa guys.

Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas picnic 2014

One of my favourite foods was Billy‘s Christmas ham. I even got an action shot to prove I’m a real blogger.

Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas picnic 2014

Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas picnic 2014

My contribution was chicken liver pâté with celery and carrot sticks. The recipe is from my friend Richie, who among many other things is an amazing cook. I tried to get his permission to publish it on the blog but he said “keep it safe, keep it secret”, so no recipe. I’ll just say we’ve tried a few recipes and this is our go-to.

Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas picnic 2014

As per usual, there was so much food that even when a big percentage was not gluten-free (like these massaman empanadas) there was still plenty of choice for me. For example, the spicy kale chips by Shanshan. Yum.

Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas picnic 2014

Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas picnic 2014

We ate and mingled around, putting faces on blogs we knew and including new blogs in our (rss) feeds.

Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas picnic 2014

Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas picnic 2014

Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas picnic 2014

Our traditional Kris Kringle game was tons of fun in the beginning but got kinda long with 74 peeps participating. Popular items this year included a waffle maker, teapots and cheese boards. I got a set of owl-shaped ceramic measuring cups that I’ll be definitely using.

Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas picnic 2014

Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas picnic 2014

You can find the official posts here: Suze’s and Helen’s.

Russia Winter Tour 2014 (10/10) – return to Sydney

Last day of the Winter Tour. As much as I missed the Australian summer and fresh vegetables, a part of me didn’t want to leave Russia. There were just too many places we hadn’t seen and the warm feeling of being with (Buddhist) family all the time is hard to let go.

The Winter Tour was an amazing experience, and in fact not as uncomfortable and difficult as I was expecting. It gave me the opportunity to watch my mind under circumnstances that were completely new to me, and to be more appreciative of my lama’s work.

After the first session of the last day of the course, Sam and I said goodbye to the lama and a few of our friends and headed to the airport. I had some Russian money left and wasn’t sure about what to do with it. A few things crossed my mind: buying vodka, getting some lunch, buying more souvenirs. We ended up buying a bottle of Merlot to go with our impromptu lunch of jerky, nuts and dark chocolate. Later I bought a perfume with the last few hundred roubles I had.

We flew Korean Air on the way back. In the first trip (to Seoul) they gave us lunch: a seafood salad with prawn, calamari, carrots, capsicum and cherry tomatoes, a Hungarian beef stew with turnip, zucchini, carrots, green beans and potatoes, a bun, Anchor butter and pineapple. Except the bread, it was good stuff.

Vladivostok – Seoul: Lunch

The next flight was from Seoul to Sydney. They gave us a bottle of water, plus a pack with slippers, toothbrush and toothpaste. For dinner I chose the bibimbap. The attendant instruct me to mix the rice with the meat and vege, and add the provided sesame oil and chilli sauce. There was also seaweed soup, kimchi and mochi (rice cake), which I didn’t try. The kimchi left me a bit disappointed but otherwise it was a great meal, paired with a glass of red wine and some green tea.

Seoul – Sydney: Dinner

10 Feb 2014

For breakfast the next morning I chose the omelette (the other options were rice porridge and continental breakfast). The omelette came with baked beans, broccoli and potatoes. The meal also included fruit (watermelon and orange), strawberry yoghurt and a muffin. I had been craving eggs but the omelette was not that great. The potatoes looked covered in flour and I didn’t have any beans or yoghurt, so I added my last bag of jerky to the mix.

Seoul – Sydney: Breakfast

Sydney food bloggers Xmas picnic 2013

It’s that time of the year again! My third Sydney food bloggers picnic (Xmas 2010 and 2012 were the previous ones, I missed Xmas 2012) happened a few Saturdays ago in our usual spot in Centennial Park.

The most amazing thing about it this year was the weather. We had had a few storms the previous days. The weather was very unstable, with bouts of sunshine and menacing clouds. Around midday some bloggers in the West started reporting thunder. The storm was moving towards the East (i.e., the picnic venue) but the organisers Helen and Suze twitted the picnic was still on, and that they were getting tents from Bunnings. In the end the storm eased out and we had a gorgeous picnic day. Amazing.

But let me go back a little bit. I was about to leave when things got worse in the Inner West. I decided not to go. Checked Twitter again and saw the second most amazing thing about this year’s picnic: a photo of Mr Crackles donation for the picnic: a giant box of crackling. 25 kg of crackling. I grabbed my rain jacket, dish to share, and left.

Crackling!

Crackling!

Crackling!

Using crackling as tray

The food was abundant and amazing as usual. Each blogger is supposed to bring a little something to share, and most of us overdo it. For example, I brought a full batch of my crustless morcilla & kale quiche, that is enough for 4-5 days of breakfasts for 2 people.

Food

Food

Food

Food

Food

For people who think it’s impossible to eat paleo, let me tell you I left the picnic absolutely stuffed from all the gorgeous food I could eat. Besides my quiche and my bodyweight in crackling, I enjoyed pulled lamb with mint sauce, hot wings, antipasto skewers, dark chocolate truffles, fruit skewers and lemper, banana leaf-wrapped glutinous rice with a chicken & coconut filling that was delicious (and yes, not strictly paleo).

Pulled lamb with mint sauce

Hot wings

Dark chocolate truffles

Fruit skewers

Last lemper

I also enjoyed a few of Simon’s cocktails and some homemade ginger drink.

Simon making cocktails

Homemade drinks

We played the traditional Kris Kringle which is always great fun.

Kris Kringle presents

“We” (thanks Simon!) also shot the traditional group photo, this time all facing the camera (yay!)

theheartoffood-sydfbxmas2013-group-500-wm

Once again, thanks to Helen and Suze for organising yet another great picnic!

Holidays in Perú (20 – 21 July 2012, Santiago – Sydney)

In the long leg of my trip (Santiago – Auckland) meals were significantly better than on the trip to Lima. Dinner was grilled salmon with mash & green beans, and a green salad. I skipped the crackers, cheese, and dessert, and had a glass of sauvignon blanc.

Dinner

Dinner

After short bursts of sleep my stomach woke me up. It was almost time for breakfast, but without the certainty of a Paleo-friendly meal, I decided to have som zucchini & almond flats with butter. Turned out that I was able to choose the omelette instead of a sandwich, and that real butter and fruit rounded up a good meal. The bread roll, cake, and jam were left untouched.

Breakfast

Breakfast

In the Auckland – Sydney flight we were served a sandwich that was described by the flight attendant as having “roast chicken” inside. I accepted the tray, and peeked inside the bread. In reality it had chicken ham, with tomato and lettuce. I ate those, along with the fruit, plus some more flats with butter, and left the sandwich bread and the cake.

Snack

Snack

Review: Mamak (Haymarket)

I’m not precisely quick when it comes to popular things. Think movies, fashion, music, restaurants, etc. I never watched Titanic. I don’t wear trendy clothes. Mention any mainstream singer and rest assured I never heard about them. Didn’t go to the Greenhouse (in my defense, I was on the road from the 10 of March til early April) and I’m probably one of the last food bloggers in Sydney to visit Mamak. But I finally did it.

Last Sunday were the Peruvian presidential elections. Alvaro and I met my sister for a pre-voting lunch at Mamak. As expected there was a queue, but luckily it wasn’t too big when we arrived, only 3 or 4 people outside the door. Watching the skillful roti masters certainly doesn’t help when you’re starving but I have to admit it is very entertaining.

About twenty minutes later our table was ready. The staff was super busy carrying orders and dirty dishes to and from the kitchen, so it took a while until someone came to our table. Being our first (and certainly not last) time there, we decided to go with the most popular dishes: roti canai and half a dozen of chicken satay to start, plus a kari ikan (fish curry) and nasi lemak (coconut rice served with sambal, peanuts, crispy anchovies, cucumber and hard-boiled egg on the side) to share as mains. To drink, Alvaro and Gladys ordered the popular teh tarik (sweetened tea) and I the teh halia (sweetened tea with ginger).

The dishes arrived in a flash but unfortunately not in order: mains arrived first. Under different circumstances we would have waited for the entrees but we were extremely hungry. We figured out the rice wouldn’t be enough for us, so we order an extra serving of steamed rice, which also arrived at the speed of light.

The coconut rice was delicious (I’m so glad my aversion to coconut dissolved into space), and of the sides around it, the crunchy anchovies and the peanuts were my favourites. The fish curry was very nice, too, with big chunks of fish and a good share of tomato, eggplant and okra. Healthy and tasty stuff.

Mamak - Nasi lemak

Nasi lemak ($8.5)

Mamak - Kari ikan

Kari ikan ($17)

A few minutes after the roti canai arrived. It was served with two curry dips and spicy sambal sauce. The roti was cooked to perfection, with a slight chewiness that forces you to take your time and savour the flavourful curry sauces. Although most people prefer having one roti per person, it would have been too much for us.

Mamak - Roti canai

Roti canai ($5.5)

When we were almost done with the rest of the curry, the chicken satay arrived. No complains here, the sauce was perfect and the chicken cooked to perfection. There was leftover sauce that Alvaro and I ate mixed with rice to cut the sweetness.

Mamak - Chicken satay

Chicken satay ($9 for 1/2 dozen)

We sipped our teas during the whole meal, they were nice but too sweet for our taste. I wondered how Malaysian people manage to stay fit with so much sugar and starch in their diet.

Mamak - Teh tarik

Teh tarik ($3.5)

And speaking about sugar, it was dessert time. One to share would have been enough but we wanted to try at least two. Roti tisu was the obvious choice (everybody loves the beautiful crispy cones), and the pandan and coconut spread in the roti kaya sounded too good to miss. A scoop of vanilla ice cream added extra indulgence to each dessert. We ate the roti kaya first. It was nice, but we couldn’t taste the coconut at all.

Mamak - Roti kaya

Roti kaya ($7.5)

Next came the roti tisu, the beautiful sweet crispy roti cone that seems to be present on every table. Taste-wise is not complex at all, just roti and syrup, but its crunchiness makes it a joy to eat. It reminded me of the fried pillows of wonton with honey that I used to eat a thousand years ago. The ice cream at this stage was not necessary at all, we could have easily substituted it for a good espresso shot to cut the sugar levels. But who can say no to ice cream?

Mamak - Roti tisu

Roti tisu ($9.5)

Mamak
15 Golbourn Street
Haymarket NSW 2000
(02) 9211 1668
www.mamak.com.au

Australia & NZ 2011 (3 April)

Last day on the road. Some of the international travelers left the hostel when I was still sleeping, including my roommate. You know what that means, right? The whole room to myself, for a much-needed yoga session. Breakfast was similar to the previous day’s: a banana, scrambled eggs and sautéed frozen spinach.

We all met in the Buddhist centre and helped to disassemble the tables and tent. We also gave the locals a hand with the leftover food: apples, muffins, cookies and coffee. I behaved myself and had just healthy stuff: three apples, a spoonful of peanut butter and a handful of almonds.

Around noon we got in several cars and headed to the airport. Our lama and his team were the first ones to depart. We hugged them good-bye and waited for our flights. In the meantime I had a cappuccino and a berry blast smoothie (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, yogurt and skim milk).

On board of our last flight, we were given the choice of butter chicken or beef lasagna for lunch. I had lasagna the day before, so butter chicken it was. With rice and green beans as sides, it was good and comforting. I wasn’t planning to eat the bread roll but the rice wasn’t enough to soak all the sauce so I *had to* mop it up with the roll. Dessert was the best (taste-wise) of the ones I’ve had on planes during the tour: hokey pokey ice cream.

Lunch Christchurch - Sydney

Lunch Christchurch – Sydney

Back at home I had a shower and started unpacking. My sister came over, I gave her and Alvaro the humble souvenirs I brought from NZ and started telling them everything about the trip. We went for dinner to Kammadhenu.

I had great expectations after reading a number of reviews about this Sri Lankan restaurant. Gladys had no expectations and Alvaro only hoped we got food that was not too spicy for his over-sensitive palate. We ordered vegetable samosas to start, plus lamb rojan josh, mixed vegetables (in a curry sauce), basmati rice and garlic naan to share.

The samosas were great. Not as tasty as the ones that were served in the office around 8:30 pm when I was working in Delhi, but I think in this case context makes a big difference (a samosa after 11.5 hours of work definitely tastes better!).

Kammadhenu - Vegetable samosas

Vegetable samosas ($1.50 each)

With the mains we shared we had two issues. First of all, they were not as big as we expected (that’s why we ordered garlic naan). Secondly, and most important, they lacked salt. The bottled sweet green chilli brought to our table helped us lift the flavour of our meal. We were definitely not impressed by the food.

Kammadhenu - Lamb rojan josh, basmati rice

Lamb rojan josh ($12.90), basmati rice ($2.50 pp)

Kammadhenu - Mixed vegetables, lamb rojan josh

Mixed vegetables ($11.90), lamb rojan josh ($12.90)

We had some room for dessert but the sweets in the menu didn’t sound promising to us. Instead, we walked to Cafe C and had a massive slice of lemon tart to share, washed down with delicious chai latte.

I want to apologise again for the poor quality of the photos in the last few posts, as I explained earlier my camera died in Wellington and I had to rely on my mobile (sadly not an iPhone). Now I’ve got a new old camera (one that my friend Matt doesn’t use anymore) with a brand new lens that I’m learning how to use. Good photos will take a while but I’m on my way!

Kammadhenu
377a King Street (also 171 King Street)
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9557 2186
www.kammadhenu.com.au

Cafe C
281 King Street
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9550 6621

Australia & NZ 2011 (28 March)

I woke up feeling like crap, even after sleeping in my own bed. Wondering how does my lama manage to travel the world year-round gave me the energy to squeeze a micro workout before taking a shower.

Paola and Norris stayed with us that night, but Norris left early to uni. I oven-roasted some almonds, cashews, macadamias and shredded coconut and served them with bananas, yogurt, and an organic plum & mango preserve I bought in the Eveleigh market a while ago.

We had coffee in the airport and lunch on board. Air New Zealand gave us the option of a hot meal (ham & Brie sandwich) or a cold meal (Thai beef salad). I had the salad, which came with a coriander vinaigrette, a bread roll (not in the photo because it was delivered warm a short while later), butter, and a chocolate brownie that I didn’t eat. The beef had a nice flavour, it had been marinated and stir-fried with lemongrass. The salad had mixed leaves (a few of them old), two strips of capsicum, bean sprouts and one-inch pieces of fried flat rice noodles, which should have been on top of everything and not mixed with the greens to avoid sogginess. I wished the dressing container was bigger.

Lunch Sydney - Auckland

Cold lunch

We arrived at Auckland, checked in the hostel (I scored a single room, yay!), left our stuff and went to get something to eat. The ladies I was with decided to buy some stuff to eat in the lecture venue but I wanted a restaurant dinner. I ran into a few other friends, who were heading to La Porchetta, an Australian franchise of Italian restaurants that I didn’t knew about.

Given that I only had 45 NZ dollars that were supposed to last until I managed to change money the next day, I was after something that wouldn’t break the bank. A bowl of minestrone and a side salad would do the trick, but unfortunately they didn’t have any soup left. I had the warm chicken salad instead, which was awesome. The ingredients were quite simple: lettuce, cucumber, tomato, sun-dried tomato, and grilled chicken breast, but they worked really well with the balsamic/mustard/white wine dressing.

La Porchetta - Warm chicken salad

Warm chicken salad

The event in Auckland was so well organised that after the lecture, the locals distributed sandwiches, sushi rolls, and juice bottles. I ate a sushi roll (it was chicken, not my favourite but good when hungry), and a ham, cheese & avocado sandwich.

We went to a bar for the usual post-lecture drinks. Apparently, the GPK was the only place open in the area. It looks very fancy and I almost feel under qualified to be there but fortunately we were almost the only customers. And we were a big bunch. There had Stella Artois and Beck’s on tap but it would have been really silly to not try any local beers. As a dark ale lover, I got a Black Mac’s, which was great. Good body, slight sweetness, clever label (the back label states “you hold what many believe to be one of the ugliest beer bottles in the world”), it had it all.

GPK

GPK

GPK - Black Mac dark ale

Black Mac

The friendly bar tender served us a few snacks: good tasting olives and extremely salty Parmesan sticks, presumably intended to make us drink more. I had another beer before we all headed back to the hostel.

La Porchetta
304 Posonby Road
Posonby 1011
(09) 360 0318
www.laporchetta.com.au

GPK
262 Posonby Road
Posonby 1011
(09) 360 1113
www.gpk.co.nz

http://maps.google.co.nz/maps?oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&ie=UTF8&q=gpk+auckland&fb=1&gl=nz&hq=gpk&hnear=Auckland&cid=0,0,13712511451678721449&ll=-36.850767,174.744283&spn=0.006295,0.006295&iwloc=A&output=embed
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Australia & NZ 2011 (27 March)

Our time in Canberra was coming to an end. My morning was not different from the others: a banana, a gym workout, and the same breakfast (with microwaved eggs instead of soft-boiled because the fancy electric stove wasn’t working).

A final morning session was the end of the course. Most people went for lunch, but I wasn’t that hungry. Instead, I bought cashews, macadamias, and 2 apples, and ate them with some almonds I had left. We returned to Sydney by bus.

It was great to be back home, even when it was just for one night. I re-packed my suitcase for the rest of the trip, took a shower, and left with Alvaro to get some dinner before heading to the Buddhist centre. Out of the restaurants in the area that were still open, we reckoned our best choice was Happy Chef.

Happy Chef is an Asian restaurant (I know the term is broad, but they don’t do a single cuisine) that has a very well-earned reputation in the area. We knew that it was good and good value for the money, but somehow we hadn’t eaten there before. A photo menu displayed (old-fashioned fast food-style) reveals a wide variety of choices from soups to stir-fries, noodles and rice, each of each with different meat/tofu options.

Happy Chef

Alvaro chose the fried rice with chicken and I the tofu & vegetable laksa. The lady who took my order advised me that they used chicken broth, which is definitely a good thing to advise to vegetarian/vegan customers.

I enjoyed the laksa a lot. It came with thin noodles and bean sprouts in the bottom, plus bok choy, cabbage, snow peas and fried tofu. The broth was very tasty and with the right amount of spiciness (for me, Alvaro found it too hot). I wasn’t a big fan of the texture of the tofu, I found it a bit too spongy and chewy, but other than that, the soup was perfect.

Happy Chef - Tofu & vegetable laksa

Tofu & vegetable laksa ($10.80)

The fried rice was very good, too. In the beginning Alvaro was tempted to put some soy sauce on it (a Peruvian habit, I suppose) but he realised it had the right amount of seasoning. I enjoyed a few forkfuls, which didn’t feel greasy at all.

Happy Chef - Fried rice with chicken

Fried rice with chicken ($10.80)

I was pretty stuffed but Alvaro had space for ice cream. Gelatomassi is right next door so it was hard for me to refuse. Oddly, he chose the mango sorbet, which he qualified as “amazing”. I tried a tiny bit that tasted like pure fruit. Reminded me of Peruvian fruit ice pops. Good stuff.

We headed to the Buddhist centre where a bunch of people were already having drinks. I had a beer and a glass of wine, followed by some grapes, nuts and cheese. We watched The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, not exactly a film to relax and chill out, but a good movie anyway. Then we went back home to sleep for a few hours before the flight to New Zealand.

Happy Chef
266 King Street
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9550 3423

Gelatomassi
262 King Street
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9516 0655
http://www.gelatomassi.com.au