30 July 2013

'Feeding the 5000' free lunch by OzHarvest and UNEP, Martin Place, Sydney (29 July 2013)

Martin Place, Sydney NSW 2000

Think. Eat. Save. Sydney.

Martin Place was awash with yellow as OzHarvest and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) aimed to feed 5000 people a free hot lunch using rescued food that otherwise would have just ended up as landfill. Free tickets to the event were sold out but volunteers still let people walking past know they could come in for a free feed. I arrived late so missed out on seeing many of the chefs that had prepared the dishes but managed to try a very nice vegetable curry and some very delicious desserts. Thanks to Sylvia Fonseca from Liquid Ideas for letting me know about this special event and Cecilia Koong for helping me with extra information on the day.

PROS: Free event, Awareness of a great cause, Very delicious desserts, Amazing support from chefs and volunteers
CONS: There's no avoiding a queue with so many people
MUST TRY: Avoiding to waste food
VERDICT: Great tips and inspiration for the public on how to save on waste

Vegetable curry
Bread and butter pudding with chantilly cream
Apple crumble with chantilly cream 
Sticky date pudding and fruit crumble with chantilly cream
Julia Dean (UNEP) and Ronni Kahn (OzHarvest)
Dessertmakers and Pepe Saya 
Maeve O'Meara (Gourmet Safaris) and Chef Lauren Murdoch (3 Weeds)

Big pot stirrers
Pepe Saya and Brasserie Bread
Sylvia Fonseca and Stevie the video guy 

Somer Sivrioglu from Efendy
Chefs from Biota, Somer from Efendy and Louise Tran from OzHarvest
Selfie with Maeve 
Selfie with Alana 
Selfie with Cecilia Koong
300 kg of lemons makes a lot of lemonade

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27 July 2013

La Focacceria: Café, CBD Sydney (27-28 May, 4-5/12 June 2013)

50 Hunter Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Freshly baked on Hunter

Thanks to Jean-Marc Parodi for inviting me to his cafe La Focacceria right next door to one of my favourite laksa places Malay-Chinese Takeaway. He's passionate about baking their pizzas, focaccias, brioches and pastries each morning in the hope of making them as good as they can be. The focaccia and pizza I tried was quite nice but I don't really have this style of meal for lunch very often unless I'm in of a bit of a rush for a quick bite to eat. What interested me more was their croissants that they bake each morning in a limited supply. A good croissant is rare to find in the CBD and these were very enjoyable for $3.50 each. I even bought a few to take back to work and they were very popular with my work colleagues with one lady even saying it was the best croissant she'd had for a long time. I guess it does make a difference when baked fresh.

Simon the barista makes a decent Cappuccino ($3) and Hot chocolate ($3) and for a light sweet treat you can't go wrong with their freshly baked mini Brioche buns, Chocolate milk roll panini and Raisin milk roll panini for only $1 each. The Mixed berry muffin ($4) was very moist and still warm from the oven. An abundance of fruit is nice to have but it also made it a tad too moist which can become a bit awkward to hold and eat. I also tried the Almond custard croissant ($3.50) and very popular Almond croissant ($4.50) with good flavour and pastry. These go too fast in the morning so be quick or try and get Jean-Marc to save you one like I had to do. Decor and seating is simple and functional but it's the friendly service and freshly baked pastries and croissants that I think will keep enticing customers to come back for that decent coffee and sweet treat for the day. I hope to revisit to try their freshly baked scones and see how they develop their pizzas and foccacias to make them stand out from the crowd. They even have a bacon and egg pizza if that tickles your fancy for a morning calorie hit.

PROS: Freshly baked croissants and pastries, Friendly and down-to-earth service, Reasonably priced menu, Nice coffee, Catering available
CONS: Limited supply of croissants sell out too quickly, Toppings for pizzas need to be more interesting for me
MUST TRY: Almond croissant, Croissant, Brioche buns
VERDICT: I think their signature offerings are the freshly baked pastries with a decent coffee but with the right attention to detail and presentation their foccacia and pizza offerings have the potential to be just as good
Simon the barista (left) and Jean-Marc Parodi the owner (right)

Croissant ($3.50) — baked fresh daily, buttery flaky pastry

Cappuccino ($3)  — good flavour and body, non bitter

Hot chocolate ($3) — good chocolate flavour, nice temperature

Mushroom pizza ($7 slice) with salad ($10,) — quite nice, decent size, would love more mushroom topping though

Mini brioche ($3.50 large) — nice flavour and soft texture, nice hint of citrus peel in mix

Salted Caramel Macaron ($2.50) — good flavour, cool storage made the caramel a bit harder than hoped

Focaccia Panino with salame, provolone cheese and roasted peppers ($9) — nice flavour combo, freshly baked foccacia

Mixed berry muffins ($4) — very moist although perhaps a tad too moist and didn't hold its shape well when eating, had lots of fruit

Almond custard croissant ($3.50) — good flavour and pastry, baked fresh daily

Almond croissant ($4.50) — good flavour and pastry, quite moist inside, freshly baked

Chocolate milk roll panini, Raisin milk roll panini ($1 each) — freshly baked, light soft texture, nice flavour

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