Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Single Origin Roasters, Surry Hills

What makes a brilliant coffee brew? A good place to start is to find the head quarters of any place that sources most of the coffee and supplies them to numerous cafes across Sydney. Single Origin Roasters is one of those places that do a damn good job with its own cafe and a coffee shop and warehouse where they brew the coffee. Some of the places that serves Single Origin Coffee include the likes of Bourke Street Bakery, Cafe Cre Asion and Central Baking Depot to name a few. It was around this time when I had numerous interviews in the same week so dropping by various cafes became a regular routine. CC has told me previously on how she really loved the coffee there which is saying something because of the competition and being close to many reputable cafes nearby like Reuben Hills, Robocog Cafe and Bang Bang Cafe. Also it has been awarded 3 cups by SMH's Good Cafe Guide in 2011 and 2012 which is pretty darn good.

When you are at a cafe that has its own roasting house, you might as well take the time and money to try their coffee at least. I ordered a mocha which tasted wonderfully balanced. The bitterness of the coffee beans did not overpower and it isn't as sweet as the usual mocha. And the barrista made it look soooo pretty.


CC ordered the cured salmon open sandwich with a slow poached egg, horseradish cream and an orange and black cabbage slaw, which looked amazing to eat. The way the egg is poached is just right with the flowing ooziness of the egg yolk. This ended up getting pretty messy on the plate.

  Cured open sandwich

I ordered the coffee braised beef shortribs which ended up being a very hearty lunch for me. This wasn't as heavy as Hurricane's but it was filling enough for me to not eat anything at all by dinner. Thought that the small serving of potato salad and beetroot with the short ribs was an interesting combination.

Coffee Braised Beef Short Ribs

Pretty small yet busy throughout the day, it is easy to see why it gets the raves on its coffee. And it does make a pretty decent coffee. Its special coffee menu items seems a bit pricey compared to the usual mocha and cappuccino. We both thought that the staff was friendly and a tad cheeky when they served us. Wouldn't mind coming back for their breakfast menu or try more from their lunch menu but sadly they don't open on weekend...bummer.

Single Origin Roasters
64 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills, 2010
(02) 9211 0665

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pho 54, Cabramatta

If there is any restaurant that has been around for as long as I can remember, this one is up there as I am sure it was there at the same spot when I was just a toddler. Like many restaurants in Cabramatta, this restaurant shows off its old school, retro atmosphere with the layout and almost never-changing menu. Considering how many restaurants lately have closed after less than 1-2 years, it is amazing that Pho 54 has been around for at least a couple of decades with its main aim to serve true, tried and honest Vietnamese cuisine to the Cabramatta locals.

When you enter into the restaurant, don't expect a menu to be there as soon as you sit down. In fact, don't be surprised if they ask for your order even when you don't have the menu at all. It is best to pay attention to the menu written on the wall near the front door and get a good idea on what you want as soon as you sit down.

It was a pretty late lunch so I went for a small bowl of Pho Tai which is a rare beef rice noodle soup ('Saigon Style' according to the menu board). Less than 5 minutes after ordering, the bowl has already arrived at the table. The beef pho is neatly presented with silky noodles along with decent, thick slices of beef that you push down into the broth in order for it to cook. I loved the beef here as it is soft and easy to chew which is how I usually prefer. While I made good use of the Vietnamese mint, bean sprouts and lemon, it is delicious and aromatic enough for me to clean up the entire soup broth by the end.

Satisfying food, quick service and cheap price at $9 - pretty much what we want at any restaurant. The service isn't like what you would expect in a hatted restaurant but as long as the food is great, that's all that really matters here. And it's a great place to gather with the family on a weekend.

Pho 54
54 Park Road, Cabramatta, 2166
(02) 9726 1992

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pasta Masterclass at Alio Restaurant, Surry Hills [CLOSED]

Thanks to a Scoopon deal, I got the chance to attend a Pasta Masterclass at Alio Restaurant hosted by Ashley Hughes who owns the restaurant along with his sister, Tracey. I have already made a couple of visits prior to this class in the past and loved every moment of it. Try their Linguine alle Vongole. It's the bomb!

If you are expecting a hands-on cooking class, you may be disappointed unless he picks you to help him out. If you are just expecting a cooking demonstration of some of Alio's well known recipes including a couple of Italian classics as well as a free 3-course meal at the end then it is definitely something worth experiencing.

Ashley taught us how to make pasta and focaccia bread from scratch and offered tips and techniques on what you should/shouldn't do when making them. He also gave some interesing stories about his time working in London at The River Cafe (where Jamie Oliver also worked :D!). During this demonstration, he taught us how to make one of his River Cafe recipes which is the spinach and ricotto rotolo.

It was so much fun seeing him performing various techniques especially with the pasta machine where it is clearly important to make sure it is as flat as possible in order to make a rotolo dish. Seeing the pasta sheet with the filling being rolled into a large rotolo was also a sight to see as he could manage to put so much into the pasta without much mess especially when cutting it into a number of equal slices for us to taste later.

Rolling and kneading the dough

Using the pasta machine

Spreading the spinach and ricotto filling onto the pasta sheet before rolling it into a cylinder shape, wrapping and then cooking it

Marinating the olives

Using the remaining pasta and the attachments from his pasta machine, he displayed the wide variety of pasta types from tortellini to tagliatelle and even some of the more unusual ones that look very similar to the more common pasta types. He even offered tips on which sauces and fillings are suitable to the designated pasta.

Various types of pasta

As we wait for the rotolo to get ready, we nibbled on some olives which got so addictive for me as they tasted sooo nice especially with the chilli.

Marinated olives with a bit of spice

I was gorging over the focaccia bread that I didn't end up taking photos when Ashley was making and proofing the bread dough. Sprinkled with rosemary and olive oil; the final result end up being a freshly made bread which is light, crispy, and fluffy. It is just so delicious to eat on its own. I was somewhat disappointed that I only got one piece of the bread as the class was over capacity that day.

Focaccia bread with rosemary and olive oil

During the class, Ashley also taught us how to make a simple salad with pear, witlof and feta cheese. An unusual combination of ingredients that end up tasting rather nicely together along with a bit of verjuice, olive oil, and pepper.

Persian feta, witloaf and pear salad

Finally the pasta dish we've all been waiting for! The pasta tasted so lovely with its thin and silky texture. I am a massive fan of anything involving sage and burnt butter sauce thanks to the gnocchi dish at Bird Cow Fish (RIP) and this dish is no exception with these ingredients making a positive impact on my tastebuds. The spinach and ricotto filling did not taste as overpowering as I expected. It sure was creamy and sitted quite nicely with the pasta wrapped around and the chestnuts decorated on top to give it the crunch factor that it needed.

Spinach and ricotto rotolo with sage and burnt butter sauce

One dish that I wish we learnt to make is the tiramisu. Thankfully we got recipes for all dishes that day. It was definitely one of the best tiramisu I've ever had. So light and the texture with the layers being neatly presented just as I like it. It did not go soggy like some of the other versions of tiramisu which make this version so delicious. In Alio's recipe, Ashley uses real chocolate instead of cocoa which has made a difference to the taste. Will definitely attempt this recipe sometime soon.


While I was initially hoping for a hand on lesson, seeing what was offered in the class was enjoyable enough for me on a nice Saturday afternoon. Would love to come back again not just for dinner but for one of their other classes like Italian Feasts as I certainly enjoyed it.

The deal that I got for this class pops up on various deals websites every now and then so look out for it if you aren't keen on paying the full price.
For more information on upcoming classes, check out the Alio website for further information on classes, schedule and contact details to make a booking.

Alio Restaurant
5 Baptist Sreet, Surry Hills, 2010
(02) 8394 9368

Alio on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Hurricane's Grill and Bar, Darling Harbour

I haven't had ribs for a long time. If there is any place I'd recommend for ribs, it has to be Hurricane's Grill. It's almost impossible to resist the temptation of going into these restaurants when you can easily smell it from outside Harbourside. Then you get to the restaurant where the aroma came from and realise the horror of lining up in a long queue if you haven't make a booking.

CC and I were having cravings for both Hurricanes ribs and Moo Gourmet burgers in Newtown but I haven't had Hurricane's for a while. Eventually we decided on ribs, made a quick booking and off we went along with a couple of our mates. Thankfully we didn't have to wait to get to our seats.

We started off with complimentary bread which is pretty crusty but nothing memorable. CC, MT and I are very keen on getting the pork ribs while DD (who already had ribs at this restaurant recently) went with the Hurricane's Beef burger. I didn't end up getting a pic of the Hurricane's beef burger but I can tell DD enjoyed it a lot.

We look good in this ;)

Each of us ordered a half rack of pork ribs which is served with a side of either chips or baked potato with sour cream and chives. We all had the chips on the side which was seriously crunchy. I also decided to get a Mango Gland Sauce (similar to a sweet and savoury BBQ sauce) to dip the chips. These chips were also very useful when the ribs got very saucy too.

Half rack of Hurricane's Pork Ribs with Chips and Monkey Gland sauce

Did I mention these are the best ribs I've ever had in Sydney!!! Well it's pretty freaking awesome for a good reason. The meat was incredibly tender. So tender that when I cut into the meat, it just fell right off the bone effortlessly after a small touch from the knife. The ribs got really saucy the end so the bibs came in handy. Better off eating with friends rather than having a date night here as you will look very messy by the end.

We were so glad that we got a half rack instead of a full one as we struggled to finish it off but we managed eventually. The service was alright although there was a bit of confusion with the bill at the end. Also, the dinner was pricey but standard for a restaurant in a tourist area like Darling Harbour. Other than that, the ribs are definitely worth checking out at least once for some mouth watering meat satisfaction.

Hurricane's Grill and Bar
Harbourside Shopping Centre,
Darling Harbour, NSW, 2000
(02) 9211 2210

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