Monthly Archives: September 2015

Salt Meats Cheese, Mosman

Since its humble beginnings in 2012 as a warehouse in Alexandria with pallets of European food goods to buy, Salt Meats Cheese has morphed into so much more.  You can still buy the goodies, but now you can sit and eat, and cook up a storm.  SMC has now opened a small outpost on the northside in Mosman.  Plenty to buy to prepare your own meals at home but you can also sit in the cosy dining area and eat and enjoy a glass of Italian wine.  There are pre-prepared items like pizza, calzone, various rolls that they will heat up, and others made fresh. But I think the thing to do is go up to the counter with one of the knowledgeable staff, get a selection of cold meats, a plate of cheese (also get the onion jam with it, its delicious and they sell it to take home too), a glass of red and take a seat and relax.

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Add to that some of the house made mozzarella with fresh tomato….smc mosman (4)

…some very good truffle chips, and some dear friends for company, and you have the makings of a pleasant and relaxed meal.smc mosman (5)

There are also plenty of sweet treats on offer, including Papa’s ricotta cake, to enjoy with a well made cup of coffee.

Salt Meats Cheese Mosman, 803 Military Road, Mosman

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Salt Meats Cheese Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Classic spinach & ricotta cannelloni

A warm and heartening meal and a favourite of my vegacquarian marito.  Pictured is what you’ll need, plus some salt and pepper for seasoning. Note that I have actually used silver beet, I think it has better flavour – and that is what you’ll find the Italians in Sydney growing in their gardens – but you can also use English spinach (you’ll need a few bunches as English spinach shrinks even more than silver beet when cooked); you could also do it with kale or baby kale.  Do make the effort to buy fresh made ricotta rather than the pre-packaged stuff, there’s a world of difference.  And if you want some texture you could also throw some pine nuts in to the mixture. A Barilla pack of cannelloni has 24 tubes, so this easily serves 4-6.  If you have fresh basil on hand that’s also lovely to sprinkle on top before it goes into the oven.
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  1. For the sauce: finely dice the onion.  In a pot, heat 30 ml olive oil, saute the onion until soft, then add the can of tomatoes, half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of raw sugar (optional).  Fill the empty can with water and add to the pot.  Cover and simmer on low heat for 30-40 minutes then puree with a stick blender. (The sauce might look a little watery, but that is fine – as it cooks it absorbs into the pasta)
  2. Meanwhile, remove the silver beet leaves from the stalks and chop the leaves into small pieces.  Reserve 2 stalks and dice finely; finely dice the onion and slice the spring onions.  In a saucepan, add two tablespoons of olive oil, the diced onion and stalks and spring onions, and saute until softened.  Add the silver beet, season with salt and pepper, add a couple of table spoons of water, cover and cook on low heat until silver beet is tender and there is no remaining liquid.  Allow to cool to room temperature.
  3.  To the silver beet, add the ricotta (about 600g) and half a cup or so of grated parmesan and combine well. Spoon the mixture into the tubes and place into a banking tray where they fit snugly.  They fit perfectly in my trusty Bessemer dish, a wedding gift thirteen years ago.
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  4. Preheat oven to 200 degrees, top the cannelloni with the sauce and grate some parmesan over the top.  Put some basil leaves on top as well as basil if you have them, cover with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes or until tender. Delicous!
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Toque Time (Melbourne) – The Age Good Food Guide 2016 Awards


It’s been a big year for Melbourne on the food front. This year saw Heston announce with much fanfare he was temporarily setting up shop there, cheaters scammed tables, and the chosen few shared their photos of the mad hatter’s tea party. The rest of us will need to fly to the UK. David Blackmore fought the bureaucrats with the help of Neil Perry to try and stay open; Sydney favourites Messina and Din Tai Fung headed south, opening their first venues; while Chris Lucas from Chin Chin and George Calombaris both announced they were heading north to expand their respective empires. By the way I recently tried the winner of Best New Restaurant, and there is some good strong Italian going on there, to die for burrata!

Following hot on the heels of the Sydney awards, the Melbourne winners are…..

Best Bar – Romeo Lane
Best Bar Food – Bar Clarine
Best Cheap Eat – Delhi Streets
Restaurant of the Year – Minimishima
Best New Restaurant – Tipo 00
People’s Choice Award – Red Spice Road

Melbourne Metro
Three hats

Two hats
Circa (up a hat), Cutler & Co, Ezard, Flower Drum (down a hat), Grossi Florentino Upstairs, Matteo’s, Minimishima (new hatter), Moon Under Water (up a hat), The Press Club (up a hat), Rockpool Bar & Grill, Rosetta, Saint Crispin, Spice Temple, Vue de Monde (down a hat), Woodland House (up a hat)

One Hat
Bacash, Bistro Guillaume, Bistro Vue, Café di Stasio (down a hat), Cecconi’s Flinders Lane, Centonove, Coda, Cumulus Inc, Da Noi, Dandelion, Donovans, Easy Tiger Smith St, Epocha, European, The Grand, Huxtable, Il Bacaro, Kappo (new hatter), Kenzan, Longrain, Lume (new hatter), Maha, Merricote, Mister Jennings (new hatter), MoVida Aqui, No 8 by John Lawson, O.My (new hatter), Pei Modern, The Point Albert Park, Pure South, The Roving Marrow, Sarti, Stokehouse City, Supernormal, Tipo 00 (new hatter), Tonka, The Town Mouse, Union Dining

Lost hats – Becco, Estelle, Hare & Grace, MoVida, Noir, Shoya, The Roving Marrow, Tempura Hajimi, Town Hall Hotel, Yu U

Regional Winners
Three Hats

Two Hats
Gladioli, Lake House, Provenance, Royal Mail Hotel, Ten Minutes by Tractor

One Hat
A La Grecque, Broadgauge, Catfish, Chris’s Beacon Point, Eleonore’s, The Good Table, Kazuki’s, Masons of Bendigo, Montalto, Paringa Estate, Port Phillip Estate, Public Inn, Simones Restaurant, Source Dining, The Stag, Stefano’s, Tani Eat & Drink, Terminus at Flinders Hotel, Terrace Restaurant, Tulip

Today’s Cake – Hazelnut Cake with Coffee Buttercream

I love all things hazelnut, and this cake makes a nice treat for afternoon tea.  The coffee buttercream is very rich, and optional, you could happily eat the plain cake.



185g unsalted butter, at room temperature
220g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
50g cornflour, sifted
225g self raising flour
80ml milk
100g hazelnut meal
Icing sugar for dusting

Coffee buttercream (optional)
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
240g icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. espresso coffee, cooled

Making it
1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees fan forced. Grease a 20cm springform tin and line base with baking paper
2. Cream butter and sugar and vanilla with electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add flours and milk and beat until smooth. Gently fold in hazelnut
3. Spoon mixture into cake tin, bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. If the top starts to brown too quickly and is not cooked, cover with foil. Cool in tin for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely
4. Meanwhile, make the coffee buttercream. Beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add coffee and beat for a further two minutes. Cut cake in half and spread base with the butter cream, cover with top of cake and dust with icing sugar.

ACME, Rushcutters Bay

When I heard there was a new restaurant called ACME, I thought that maybe the owner was a fan of  the Road Runner and Wile E Coyote cartoons I used to watch when I was little with its ACME brand explosives that never worked. But no, the name was born from the four initials of the four partners, with M being the head chef, Mitch Orr. I met him at the Young Gun’s dinner series, and he seems like quite a character, which is reflected in some of the left of centre food coming over the pass. Yes there is pasta made in beautiful Italian tradition – which has no doubt been a big contributor to the hat earned in the recent awards – but it may be paired with a little Filippino, Korean or Japanese flavours.

At first glance the pricing seems reasonable – snacks and entrees go from $5 to $24, and the pasta dishes from $12 to $24, but be warned the serves are small. If you’re hungry you may need entrée, main, dessert and then some, so it is not as good value as you would think, or may require the Macca’s pitstop on the way home. Service though, is top notch and the staff are warm and friendly. Out for a team dinner, we had a group banquet for $60 (not including dessert) in the lovely space downstairs which can be used for private dining, which meant we got to try quite a few dishes.

We start off with the baloney sandwich. It isn’t something I would have automatically ordered, and I’m very glad they chose it for us. A soft fluffy roll, delicious mortadella, and some tangy relishACME (1)

The pippis too are nicely done and not tampered with too much, a little bit of lime and pepper, lovelyACME (4)

The following two vegetable courses though leave me a little uninspired. Fried parsnip is just ok though the mayo has a bit of a kickACME (2)

The pencil leeks are chewy, but the seaweed butter is decadent, would have been nice to have some crusty bread to spread it onACME (3)

In between as a bit of a cleanser is a combination of blood orange, pomelo and mascarpone. Its not a combination that works for me.ACME (8)

But we get a comeback with the pasta dishes which shine. The wonderfully thin linguine and given flavour and texture with burnt chilli and black garlic, and it’s a table favourite.ACME (5)

So too is the maltagliati (that’s “badly cut” for the non Italians) with rabbit and pistachio, silky pasta and nicely braised rabbitACME (7)

The only pasta dish I’m ambivalent about is calamari with Korean Bolognese, it falls in the “interesting” category and I’m not quite sure if I like it.ACME (6)

But the macaroni with pigs head and egg yolk proves another winner.ACME (9)

ACME, 60 Bayswater Road, Rushcutters Bay, Ph (02) 8068 0932
ACME Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Toque Time (Sydney) – The SMH Good Food Guide 2016 Awards


It is restaurant award season again and this year the GFG has announced Sydney first, with Melbourne to follow.    There’s been plenty of criticism of food critics over the past year, with many saying they are less relevant with the myriad of food bloggers like yours truly, and the immediate nature of feedback via Instagram and other social media platforms.  But most bloggers and ‘grammers will go to a restaurant only once, snap a quick pick, tick a box on their ‘to do’ list, and move on (I must plead guilty to that on occasion).  These guys on the other hand, will visit each place 3-4 times, take copious notes, and make their way through the menu before pronouncing judgement.  It sounds like a dream job, but frankly I couldn’t eat that much rich food or eat out so often, having been sustained on Southern Italian peasant food for most of my life.  But anyway, the winners are…….

Best Bar –  Monopole
Best Bar Food – Rockpool Bar & Grill
Best Cheap Eat – Chaco Bar, Darlinghurst
Restaurant of the Year – Bridge Room
Best New Restaurant – Bennelong
Chef of the Year – Pasi Petanan (Café Paci)
Regional Restaurant of the Year – Fleet Restaurant, Brunswick Heads
People’s Choice Award – Catalina, Rose Bay

Sydney Metro

Three hats
Bridge Room (up a hat), Quay, Rockpool, Sepia
Two hats
Aria, Bennelong, Bentley Restaurant and Bar, Berowra Waters Inn, Café Paci (up a hate), Cottage Point Inn (up a hat), est, Ester, Four in Hand (up a hat), Guillaume (re-entry), Icebergs Dining Room, Lucio’s Italian, LuMi Bar & Dining (new hatter), Marque, Momofuku Seiobo (down a hat), Mr Wong, Ormeggio, Oscillate Wildly (up a hat), Pilu at Freshwater, Porteno, Rockpool Bar & Grill, sixpenny, Spice Temple, Tetsuyas

One Hat
10 William St (new hatter), ACME (new hatter), Ajo Italian Restaurant (new hatter), The Apollo, Bather’s Pavillion, Billy Kwong, Bistro Moncur, Bistrode CBD, Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay (new hatter), Bodega, Buon Ricordo, Catalina, China Doll, Cho Cho San, Felix, Firedoor (new hatter), Fratelli Paradiso (new hatter), Gastro Park (down a hat), glass brasserie, Izakaya Fujiyama (new hatter), Jonah’s Restaurant, Kepos Street Kitchen, Longrain, LP’s Quality Meats (new hatter), Monopole, Moon Park, MoVida, Ms G’s, Nomad, Osteria Balla, Osteria di Russo & Russo, Otto Ristorante, Pendolino, Sagra (new hatter), Sake Double Bay (new hatter), Sean’s, Sokyo, sushi e, Three Blue Ducks, Uccello, Ume Restaurant, Vini, Yellow

Lost hats – 4Fourteen, Aki’s, Alpha, Arras, Bar H, Black by Ezard, Café Sopra, Fish Face, Flying Fish, Hartsyard, Longrain, Lox Stock and Barrel, Sake CBD, Vincent

Regional Winners

Two Hats
Aubergine, Biota, Muse Restaurant, Subo, Zanzibar Café

One Hat
Bistro Molines, Caveau, Courgette, Darley’s Restaurant, eightysix, Eschalot, Fins, Fleet, Lanterne Rooms, Lilotang, Lolli Redini, Monster Kitchen and Bar, Muse Kitchen, Ottoman Cuisine, Pearls on the Beach, Pialligo Farmhouse, Restaurant Como, Restaurant Mason, South on Albany, St Isadore, the Stunned Mullet, Temporada, Tonic, Town Restaurant and Café, Waters Edge, The Zin House

In My Kitchen, September 2015

Spring has sprung! Longer days, fresh herbs in the garden, outdoors that beckon, glorious cooking ingredients. I don’t tolerate cold weather that well so count down the days till the warmer months. Any day now bags of produce cultivated from gardens of Italians around Sydney will be appearing on my doorstep.

Meanwhile, in my kitchen you’ll find a few things I picked up on our recent overseas trip. They are probably all things you can find here, but when on holidays you have the luxury of time, and to browse in a leisurely fashion.

There’s a pastry mat I bought in San Francisco. I love the fact that it has cm/inch, gram/pound, and Celsius/Farenheit conversions on it – I’m tempted to stick it to the kitchen wall!imk sept (4)

There’s this cool little cube grater, think I got it in LA. On the side it has cup measures, which is quite handy.imk sept (3)

And a giant flipper, just perfect for pancakes. I used it for the first time when I tried the recipe from Vitrine.imk sept (2)

I also bought a couple of new bread baskets, which were quickly put to good use.imk sept (5)

This batch of loaves were in honour of Selma from Selma’s Table. Selma was an avid contributor to Celia’s In My Kitchen series, and part of Celia’s global tribe of bread bakers. Rest in peace Selma.imk sept (7)

Recently I have just started using a different flour. I’ve always used the Wallaby Baker’s Flour, as it is readily available at my local Coles, but then discovered that one of the Italian delis I go to sells these larger sacks – they are much much better value. Each loaf ends up at about 60c – pretty good.imk sept (1)

I saw this brush for cleaning bread proving baskets on Passionfruit Garden and had to get one.imk sept (11)

In my kitchen is some beautifully risen pizza dough. I’ve tried lots of different recipes over the years. The last couple of times I’ve made pizza I’ve used a good recipe from The Italian Baker, a book recommended to me by Francesca at Almost Italian. The dough has great elasticity and rises and cooks well. Mamma Rosa makes amazing pizza dough, but her recipe depends on the way the wind is blowing, how the flour feels that day, her mood and other such factors – I find it a little hard to follow.imk sept (8)

Here they are ready for toppings. The little plain one is for a nutella pizza for the boys for dessert.imk sept (9)

I mostly make vegetarian pizza since the Marito does not eat meat – a good combo is grilled zucchini, asparagus and ricotta. That rectangular tray used to belong to my Nonna, then Mamma Rosa, now me. I think it is from the 70’s, goodness knows how many pizzas have been made on it.imk sept (10)

And finally in my kitchen is some cuttings for a dragonfruit plant. A very thoughtful friend found out I love dragonfruit and sourced these cuttings for me. I can’t wait to plant them and see them grow!imk sept (12)

I hope you are having a lovely time in your kitchen!