Monthly Archives: May 2011

Friday Morning Food Rescue

OzHavest van

What a humbling experience to have at 4AM on a Friday morning. I had heard about OzHarvest’s brilliant work from my good friend Michael Fischer and was eager to see the community project for myself. Having put my hand up to help with the early morning delivery, I pulled myself from bed well before the break of day.

OzHarvest
 rescues excess food from restaurants, bakeries, butchers, grocers and cafés, and distributes it to the vulnerable people of Sydney, Newcastle and Canberra. Their bright yellow vans deliver 180,000 meals each month and last Friday, I was one of the lucky volunteers to experience firsthand the impact and smiles that the organisation creates.

Yolanda de Groot helping OzHavest

Bobby, the driver of our van, had been getting up at 4AM to meet chefs, bakers and restaurateurs for years. It felt as though we had a master key to the city as we entered the back door of Sydney’s kitchens to pick up bread, vegies and meat from places such as Thomas Dux, Grandma Moses and Daily Fresh.

With a full van, we took the food to drop-in centres, families and individuals around the city. Many of the homeless await a hot meal to warm them up after the icy autumn nights spent sleeping outside.

It was a moving experience to see the love and dedication behind OzHarvest and its volunteers like Bobby. But the organisation is always in need of more hands and more vans. Please join in the movement and donate your time, excess food or money to OzHarvest. I will certainly volunteer again and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.

Yolanda de Groot

Food Fighters

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Don’t whisper the words ‘foodie’, ‘sustainable farming’, or ‘concept dining’. With hundreds of food and word enthusiasts seated in Town Hall all here to discuss food and dining, the demand could prove a little troublesome.

Last night Alecia and I went to the culinary conference Food Fighters with A. A. Gill and Anthony Bourdain, as hosted by Tony Bilson for the Sydney Writers’ Festival. As gentle Bilson began with the question ‘Are you an eater or a diner’ Gill quickly interrupted him demanding he define both terms before proclaiming his own disdain for fine dining. And so the night of lacerating wit begun.

No topic was too taboo or no comment too unpolitically correct. Vegetarianism was one of the first targets. “People say to me ‘But would you eat a human?’” said Bourdain. “But let me tell you, I were on a lifeboat and one person wasn’t pulling their weight with the rowing, I think some human flesh would go down pretty well.” Environmentally friendly agriculture is just a status statement believed Gill as he claimed “Organic farming is just rich urban people telling farmers how to do their job.”

After the debates on animal cruelty and praise of the Japanese fish market Tsukiji, the trio agreed that food is the one thing that links us the world over. “If you want to know a community, you eat their food” said Bourdain. Finally A. A. Gill concluded “We are the one animal that can keep eye contact while we’re eating, and that is what food is about – sharing.”

Yolanda de Groot

The launch of the Food & Travel Co

food and travel Co Launch

A chance to dine at the world’s best restaurant doesn’t come around too often. Last night I attended the launch of the Food & Travel Co. at Denmark House with my friends and owners of the company, Kim Coronica (Appetite for Excellence Young Restaurateur of the Year 2010) and Greg Feck (ex-head chef of Richmond Hill Cafe & Larder). The pair’s first gourmet trip, the Nordic Real Food Tour, will be a once-in-a-life-time experience, marked by a dinner at the World’s Best Restaurant – Noma in Denmark – as named by the S. Pellegrino Awards.

The party celebrated the launch of the F&TC’s delicious guided journeys around the world, allowing travellers to experience their destinations in the most authentic way – through food. Involved in all things yummy, the company also offers restaurant consulting, cheese and wine workshops, travel blogs, travel advice, and very soon, cooking classes in its Melbourne-based cooking school.

Guests of the launch, along with MC Ben O’Donoghue, enjoyed cheese and wine matching workshops and feasted on Danish canapés. Denmark House was a fitting venue for the company’s inaugural itinerary due to roam through Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, topped off with an unmatchable dining experience at Noma in Denmark. The restaurant seats just 14, but after some persuasion from Greg, the exclusive diner has agreed to cater to a group of 15. Needless to say, there are only four places left!
Having friends with such culinary clout has proved to have serious benefits – Greg and Kim have kindly offered 10% off the tour price to anyone who mentions my name when booking

Yolanda de Groot

Patisse pastries for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day offers the perfect excuse to head out on culinary adventures with the family. Sure enough, Best Restaurants staff members were keen to try out gourmet locations in Sydney’s ever-growing dining scene, with Mum in tow for a spot of taste testing.

Our sub-editor Alecia indulged in a seemingly never-ending selection of tasty treats during high tea at Patisse in Waterloo. The airy café held two seatings of this delightful English past time – the afternoon session saw tables packed with families, bathed in sunlight streaming in through the building’s giant glass windows. The spread of delicacies was impressive to say the least – savouries included mini but oh-so rich bacon and egg and feta plus spinach tartlets, melt-in-your-mouth wagyu beef pies, and cucumber and cream cheese and chicken and seeded mustard sandwiches (sans crusts, of course!) Sweets served up bite-sized squares of the patisserie’s famed ‘chocolate indulgence’ – a moist cake full of cocoa, raspberries and ground coffee beans – as well as nutty pistachio and rose cake and feather-light lemon meringue tarts. For those with an especially sweet tooth, there was even vanilla bean and rosewater macarons to finish off the meal. Check out our photos of her outing here.

Anna Lisle

Patisse on Urbanspoon

Mojitos at La Bodeguita del Medio

The time had finally come for the signs to be taken down and reveal the transformation behind the doors of 125 York Street. La Bodeguita del Medio had its soft opening this week and our sub-editor Alecia, our marketer Kimberly and our editor Edwina were all lucky enough to attend.

We had heard rumours of a Cuban cigar specialty shop, a salsa floor and a live Cuban band seven nights a week. Having followed the restaurant’s progress over the last few months, we were eager for the unveiling. The ginormous size of the multi-level space opposite the QVB had left much to the imagination during its renovation phase.

Walking through huge glass double doors, the Cuban club was marked by thick and dramatic wooden features with sturdy chairs and carved tables roomy enough to fit many a mojito. Tall leather upholstered booths created private cocoons for large groups to enjoy, while the bar took up an entire separate room with its spectacular timber benching and back wall lined in a hundred spirits. Seated by the stage with front-row seats to the band, we shared South American dishes from around the continent – from rich slow-cooked lamb neck with black beans, zesty ceviche, empanadas with tomato salsa and golden croquettes with tangles of cucumber string. A smoking glass of rum-infused tapioca pearls and minty accents was a mojito-inspired gastronomic delight for dessert.

As the mojitos kept coming, diners took to the dancefloor to kick off the first hip-swivelling dance moves of the salsa club. And with an entire level dedicated to a dancefloor, they definitely wont be the last.

Anna Lisle

La Bodeguita del Medio on Urbanspoon