Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Everlasting Glaze (aka Bourke Street Bakery Strawberry + Vanilla Creme Brulee Tart)...

A few of us hold, somewhere deep and untold, within the labyrinthine, scarlet folds of the ventricles and atriums of our solitary hearts, a little pound of cardiac muscle, so sacred. It is within the pulsing strains of this marked place, where in beats, in pulses, in fretful hiccups of rhythmic existence, a love so dear is held. And in whose hallowed name do we keep this place? None other than The Smashing Pumpkins. Sweet, Sweet, Soma. If you never let their music possess your outer, middle or inner ear, it is a Shame, but it's never too late. I still listen to them more days than not. CakeishKnifeBabies, If Once Upon A Time you Ava Adored, then chances are that you may possess a very prized and precious box set called The Aeroplane Flies High, and herein lies the key (to 'What The F Is She So Flamboyantly On About')...

I still remember the day one of these coveted little treasure boxes of serendipitous sound came rushing into my proud and much proclaimed possession. It was on the final track of the final little CD that I first heard the Tonite Reprise. It's an acoustic and mellowed version of the operatically urgent Mellon Collie favourite, Tonight, Tonight. There are approximately 4 sublime seconds in the song's introduction that Stopped me. 4 seconds of seraphic beauty, pinioned somewhere between silence and sound, Just Before, and Just As Corgan begins to strum out the fraught and fumbling opening notes...it's a hard feeling to describe, but if the vibrations of those 4 seconds could undergo an alchemy that could result in tangibility, and if you could then take that tangible thing and bring it up to your lips, to the silent, breathless threshold of your trembling mouth, for just one taste... then that taste would best describe a Bourke Street Bakery Strawberry and Vanilla Creme Brulee Tart.

I think they're going to diagnose me with some kind of mental illness one day, if you haven't already, but an attack of seriously good tart brings out the verbose wanker in me. Every. Single. Time. I have always had a relationship with The Chocolate (above) + Ginger Creme Brulee Tarts that can be described as amiably alimentary. The idea of creme brulee in tart form was enough to recommend the Ginger to me before I had even tried it. When desserts make cameos inside other desserts, it's a pretty exciting moment for tragic cake fiends. 

On two recent trips I went to get Dan a treat and discovered they had a newish flavour star in the Clan Creme Brulee, Strawberry and Vanilla. Oooh. I like Strawberry. I like Vanilla. Odds were I was going to be pleased about their Creme Brulee'd Tarty Union. Needless to say I was, Danny loves this tart, Dad and Mum as well. I accordingly now have to take a little box every time I go to visit my parents, they're pretty cute about stuff like that. I've already done a piece on the crammed corner delight that is Bourke Street Bakery (just a waddle around the corner from my house), but I wanted to do a sweet little something on this gorgeous and gooey little addition.

Cakes, dessert, and every other beautiful thing brings out the wicked little girl in me that likes to destroy things, making this creme brulee tart the perfect victim for my wanton ways. The, scarred, burnt toffee membrane that encases the fragrant cream beneath is the kind of thing I find deeply moving about life on earth. It's what I imagine heterosexual males feel about an elaborate, lacy black bra - with killer hooks that they have to struggle to get off. You have to CRACK and RUPTURE the PlayingHardToGetBurntSugarCasing really HARD with a good JAB of a fork (alas, no knife) to sever the unsuspecting surface. When you break on through to the other side, i've got to tell you, it simply lights your fire. Jesus.

Texture heaven. I like a treat that fights back, that makes me work for its delicious, delicate, ecstatic essence (I was going to use innards instead of essence, but thought that was a bit too gross - proof of restraint). Oh Lord, once you're inside...Sweet, delicate, dancing, vanillaed, baby breath, decadent dreams. Perfumed and luscious, TongueVelvet, so gooey and lickable, and offset by little shards of the burnt sugar crown, like gorgeous jewels of candied crunch throughout, they splinter into the creaminess and add sharp, little intense flickers of a beautifully burnt taste that lingers languidly into the rich, vanilla creaminess. 

And beneath, the Tart makes a lovely little mess of itself. Waiting to ooze out and infuse the willing ivory cream, is a little secret strawberry pulp/syrupish stash, once your fork breaks through the hardened envelope, pinkness erupts, but gradually, and stains the pureness of the cream with little blushes of strawberried pink. [insert groan]. SO GOOD! And it seems the pastry is far better than the last time I tried it, it used to be a little loose and flakeish, now it's denser and seems more well cooked, much more commanding to bite into. A perfect perimeter of punishing goodness.

The Strawberry + Vanilla Creme Brulee Tart at Bourke Street Bakery + the way I love it: Sad, but true. Grab a tart and disarm it with a smile and then it cut it like it wants you to. Go onnnn, do it! The original Bakery piece: here.

Bourke St Bakery, at the Cnr of Devonshire + Bourke. 

It's Tart imitating Life.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Slain By Brew-tus...(aka Coffee).

Coffee and Skinny Leg Jeans have something you might not know in common: I adore them both, but they're definitely not for me. Being a devoTea for many years now, coffee is something I only ever succumb to occasionally. Don't get me wrong, taste wise, I get it, it can be a thing of absolute and sublime rapture, but just like getting a car park in Surry Hills on the weekend after seven, its effects leave me a little bit Too Excited. Coffee is like a liquid roller coaster that renders my nervous system (already a proverbial tower of Pisa), that much more scattered and swaying in the wind. Compounds in tea, such a L-Theanine, act with the caffeine to have a much more delicate and energizing effect on the body, coffee is straight up Death Metal for The Mouth, just with a higher antioxidant content. But what good is a life free from vice? Even HowDoYouSolveAProblemLikeMaria had to trade in the quiet convent and the verdent hills for some saucy action with the Captain. So for those among you who remain resolutely faithful to the beautiful bean, and at last count there were about 5.7 billion of you, if you simply must do it, here's how do it well.

You remember Ardri, of Clipper Fame and Fortune? Well, it seems some Scotsman lay their claim on history by painting their faces blue and leading their men into unlikely victories through fearless battle, minus the trifle of underwear. Others, it seems, will be remembered because they make a damn good latte. Ardri (bari(SUPER)sta(r)), donning undies and a long way from Stirling Bridge, belongs firmly and fabulously to the second camp. This one knows pretty much all there is to know about coffee, and, in that accent that I can make out clearly just under half of the time, I found out all the Insider Do's and Do Nots for how to make and how to order a hellish good cup. Remember, foodie world is one place where you can judge a book by its creamy cover, indeed, people with too much time on their hands can usually tell a very good coffee just by looking at it, you'll never find a good cup that doesn't look Just So.

Coffee is serious business, this little shiny silvered beauty is a $12, 500 whiz-bang-barista-bling-twin-boiler-baby! coffee machine from La Marzocco. Twin boilers mean that there is one dedicated boiler for steaming (and 'stretching') the milk that makes a flat white, latte and cap ivory spun magic, and the second boiler is for piping out hot, Neroesque, aromatic SlapOfQuickQuickQuickToTheBrainThroughTheNose espresso shot after Ohhhhlfactory shot. Oh. That you don't use one boiler for steaming and shots means that each can keep its own distinct temperature consistently, ensuring a perfect coffee every time. If you walk into a cafe and you see a machine this technical, then you are probably, but not definitely, on the cusp of a celestial cup.

Now, unless you're ordering Soy milk, the top of a milky coffee should be a bit like Bert Newton's head, shiny and velvety. Good coffee has that lustrous flirty film of pearly light that dances around the the perfect curves of a dangerously brimming surface. If the milk looks dull or porous or too dry/foamy then it hasn't been stretched properly. Stretching is like DownwardDog for the mouthfeel of your milk, it's the technique of texturizing the milk by the way in which you place steam just on top of it. Just like picking up a boy in a bar (Heels, Little Black Dress, Flirty Smile), it seems there's a little bit of a formula: for a flat white, it's a 2 second steam, for a latte it's 4 seconds, and for a cappuccino it's 6. Good Baristas also take into account the type of milk, skim needs more stretching because it contains less protein and fat. Milk well stretched should have no bubbles in it, bubbles upset the texture and make for a less velvety finish. When milk is stretched just so it gives a nice thick and silky consistency to the milk and tempers, in amazing alabaster, the soaring richness of the dark coffee beneath, it also thickens it beautifully. Flat White's should be flat (you'd be surprised), and good baristas know not to make the milky membrane too thick or dense. A cappuccino is distinctly different, it's chocolate sprinkled layer should be generous in width and creamythick. The way the cup is filled is also an indication of the finesse of its maker, great coffee rises to its circumference like an ambrosial asymptote, it beckons towards you without actually reaching out, just almost approaching the edge and spilling over, never quite getting there. Back in my waitressing days, you could always tell who the better baristas were because when you carried the coffee made by a good one out, the milk would bulge and gleam but never spill, bad baristas would make poorly stretched milk that could easy dart in and out of the glistening surface membrane, and sometimes spill right on to the astonished laps of annoying customers. Or perhaps that was the waitresses fault...

Like any good domestic in the Western Suburbs, coffee always begins with a shot. Ardri tells me that the biggest mistake people make with coffee is not grinding per shot. So if it's a double shotted brew that means each individual shot must be ground separately, doing this is what releases the fullness of the flavours. Fresh roasted beans are apparently not the best, contrary to what I thought. Adriano says that it is actually at 5-7 days after roasting that a bean comes into its true character, these few days are necessary so that the carbon dioxide from the beans can be released, this results in a nuttier and less acidic shot.

Ardri loves Single Origin blends from El Savador and Ethiopia, especially, but I was very interested to learn that it's actually in Vietnam where most of the world's coffee is cranking out from. A customer who was sitting by told us that it's served there from a tiny plunger contraption that sits atop the cup, they have no machines, and they finish it with a dollop of trickysticky condensed milk. Coffee in Mexico remains something i'd kill for, I tried it in the Cafe De Olla style, with panela, canella, cloves and orange rind, I had five in a row on the first night and poor Danny had to put up with one severely caffeinated Arab for a few hours ensuing.

Swiss decaf is apparently the best, if you are so inclined. Their method of extracting the caffeine is a more natural one in that it involves the beans being washed over and over and left to dry in the sun, how nice does that sound! This tidbit got us talking about the most ridiculous orders ever taken, ready for this one: a double shot decaf soy latte, for someone whom I am fairly sure can not claim the mastery of arithmetic as one of their strong points. And the lovely Agnes looked at me incredulously as she recounted one regulars preference for a 1/2 skim 1/2 soy latte? Milk Identity Crisis, Maybe? The worst order I ever took was for a triple shot, double mocha, I nearly had dyspepsia just carrying out. Dirty, dirty people and all your delirious little kinks of cup...

Adriano loves the more delicate coffee in the North of Italy. His favourite is at Cafe Trombolli in Rome, just near Roma Termini Station, although he concedes the standard in Sydney in considerable. He says they drink a coffee in the South of Italy called Robusta, much sharper and very caffeinated, and not much to his taste. Honest to goodness, Mexico aside, an ardri latte is the best coffee i've had in Sydney. He only uses brown sugar to sweeten, which is another good sign that you're onto something, white sugar is too acidic, too sharp, the gentleness of brown sugar muddles nicely with coffees smooth richness. Nothing grosses me out more than a sharp skanky brew laced with too much white sugar. Don't even get me started on artificial sweeteners.

Coffee should always come with a glass of water by it's side. That's how it's drunk in Europe, it's good to put back in the water it takes out. Ardri has noticed the trend away from the milkier concoctions towards the short blacks and macchiatos. Macchiatos in particular are enjoying a new vogue. If you do drink coffee for the antioxidants, you're better off drinking an espresso, macchiato, or long black, as the dairy (milk) is an antioxidant inhibitor.

And the taste? It's like Elvis slowly crooning Love Me Tender directly into your mouth and down your warm, willing throat. It's DrowningGroundingSweetRichDeepWarmingStorming a liquid battle between darkness and lightness that always ends in a madness of melting. You are always sad when good coffee ends. The last sip is like the goodbye kiss of cherished lover. Ardri likes it better than wine. The Turks like it black as hell, strong as death and as sweet as love.

Much more than the drink itself, I like the way it draws people together or holds them in themselves, social or solitary, it frames simple moments. So from the dressing gown dreariness of The Nescafe, Get away! Coffee is an art, an experience, one of life's Great Respites. Get out and try new places and see how nuanced and different a thing it can be. Clipper at Glebe, is a hotspot, Bertoni's in Balmain, as well. Forbes and Burton serves some lovely single origin coffee, too. The Earth Store in Gould Street Bondi has the best organic coffee I have tried, especially when it's made by Nick and The Book Kitchen in Surry Hills has one I tried a long time ago and liked. It's a staple all over the world, but it's not quite the same anywhere you go. I like that.

Thanks again, ardri x.

The Odd-ysey (aka The Return to Zumbo).

I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to get Adriano Zumbo down on a couch. No, no no. Not the sort of couch you lascivious little lot have in mind, Jesus, I really need a less gutterminded readership. I mean a shrink's couch. You know the kind I am talking about: dark room, padded floor, dim lighting, me sitting back in a chair (the cushy expensive kind that can lean right back) with a notebook, pen poised, legs crossed, all a personified question mark. Beckoning him, in a serious, professional murmur to get comfortable, to sink in, to relax, to close his eyes and to think...think back to where it all began, the very first of flavours, the very first of memories...the brilliant, the burgeoning, the burnt toffeed beginning...

...Oh, My. Cake + Knifelings, each and every tantalizing time I am gifted by the lusciously oddball, edible brain babies of this incomprehensible, indomitable imagination, I begin to wonder. I wonder about the mind that the imagination dwells within, and all of the things that make it turn and tick, and most of all trick. Because this is straight up FoodSugarSexMagik, and yet another visit to the Darling Road Patisserie and Cafe have left me this enduring impression. What's it like, deep in there, Adriano? Way out back? In the far recesses of your sugar mad mind? Bottomless bowls of kooky candy? Honeyed caramel chandeliers and shag pile carpeting made from silky, vanilla-ed meringue? I guess we'll never know...

Your combinations are anything and everything, from the dazzling and the dangerously bizarre, to the downright ridiculous, and this new collection reiterates that HighUpInTheSkyApplePie Set standard. Some of the concoctions are the culinary equivalent of having a tiny, caffeinated Jet Li pulling crazy and erratic martial arts moves in your mesmerized mouth, you don't even see the next move coming. Try sampling the treats before you read their ingredients, it makes for a more innocent and astounding experience. Half the fun is stumbling over the more subtle flavours after getting lusciously slapped in the mouth with the heady fullness of others.

Zumbo is not all fun and sass, though, there is a lot of palpable meaning and heart that flows from the mind, through the hands and into the creations. Each and every dessert is like a little autobiography, there are stories in all of them, private jokes too. It's deliciously referential food. Oh, Adriano. We are eating your story and we are living and loving every teeny, tiny bite. Zumbo's genius comes from an overwhelming absorption of ideas that is brilliantly comprehensive, he has always thought outside and beyond the Cake Box. Mundane, Every Day Type LunchBox Like flavours are ruthlessly reincarnated when paired with something more sophisticated or exotic, or when presented in a form we would never expect them in. It's HighBrowLowBrow cake, and I would never have it any other way.

If this were the 19th Century, they would erect statues of you, Adriano, in all of the market places. They would sing songs in your name. The King would commission all of the best poets from all over the kingdom to compose humbly in your honour, and they would be weaving and winding words that echoed the vivid and boundless sweetness of your fluid flavours. 

It may be 2009, (and I can't sculpt or sing to save my life) but like that was ever going to stop me. Adriano, this one's for you...

Once Upon A Time, There may have been cake,

But never the sort, That made you violently shake.

Oh, the gluttons did sulk, and the gluttons did weep -

'Til the oracle, he promised, but the blackest of sheep.

One in whose hands, sugar would breathe new soul,

Oh they heard the oracle, and they gobbled him whole.

Yet in a faraway land, this boy came to be.

To put a definitive end, to Sarah Lea.

A boisterous, a magical, a most fearless head,
And all just like the oracle said.
This head would come to be quite shorn,
Almost as much as the day it was born.
But beneath that scalp, so smooth and bald,
some of the greatest imaginings, would one day unfold.
The case, it was for but a dainty sake,
The cause was sweet and the cause was cake.
And so to dreary sponge, he turned his nose,
And this is how his story goes.

He looked up, Then he looked down,
Oh our Adriano, he looked all around.
For new ways, to make old chocolate sing.
And for passionfruited cream, to awaken to zing.
How else could caramel, cast its toffeed spell?
How could vanilla, so pure, be as sexy as hell?
Crazy ideas, from all over the place,
On just how to reinvent, The Stuffing Of Face.
He liked his dancing fruit, he loved his dangerous spice,
The toffee so sticky, the peanutbuttercream, so iced.
In every bow of rain shade, that boy macarooned,
And the gluttons they bit, and the gluttons they swooned.

In Chocolate, In Orange, in the Earlest of Grey!
The gluttons, they ran, there could be no delay.
Blackcurrent! so purple, of such lurid zest!
Or the popcorn in salted crunch, do i love thee best?
But there's pudding riced! And even cherry choc'ed,
Those hardy gluttons, they felt their appetites mocked.
How much more, did he expect them to take?
Their pancreases wanted him burnt, at the proverbial stake.
Pear! Mocha! Chestnuttedpassionfruit!
To Young Mr Zumbo, they groaned a foodie salute.
CaramelledSalt, oh, mandarins...
So many more macaroons, than dark, deadly sins.
So luscious, so gentle, so breathless to behold,
Forever adding to our bellies, yet another fold.
Oh, Macaroons! What about little cakes?
Then stop macarooning! for Goodness Sake.

Like a Lazarus, then, Into some Sugared Insomnia,
With a bit of escape, from a rainforest in Columbia.
She was gluten free, and so beauty-full
That flourless sponge in Chocolate, Oh, She made them drool,
Admist a DarkDarkDarkChocolatey disc, all a fizzy
And Cherry Cola Jelly, to make them dizzy.
CherryColaSlurp! Chocolate Sabayon Mousse!
The flesh of those gluttons! It was growing so loose!
They needed some action, Away from the ladle,
But along came Ed, and he rocked that cradle.
Cheesecaked, they were! In coffee and milk!
The gluttons, they knew they were of that ilk.
ChocolateCheeseCakeBase, CoffeeSoakedCaramelCreme,
In Italian meringue, it's a glutton's wet dream.

And Amanda Made The Cut, Or so it was said, 
And not a thing in this treat, For a taste bud to dread.
MilkedPassionedCaramelledMousse, With a Smack of Lime,
And PassionMarshmallowedCocoCrunchBrownie, a Caloried Crime.
From that wicked man, They could take no more!
Their bellies, so full, their pockets, so poor!
Nor once did it occur to those gluts, as into their beds they were tucked, 
That if he ever retired, they'd be totally....

Sinking To New Depths, That's how it done. Cheers, Adriano, Thanks for the Yum and the Fun. And to Erin P (or soon to be Erin M?), for a damn fine morning.

Zumbo still happens at 296 Darling Rd Balmain, 9810 7318. 8-6 Monday til Saturday, and 8-4 Sunday. For the original Zumbo piece, go here.

Don't let them eat cake, let you.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Suveran: The Sequel.

Being a Food Blogger (that's right, capital f, capital b, thankyouverymuch) can be both a sad and a sorry affair, a sordid one too. In the comfort of your own homes and from your laptops in illustrious libraries and cosy cafes, what you witness is the finished product: the food, the friends, the flavours, the glamour, the good times. You think it's a piece of proverbial cake, don't you? Alas. What you don't experience is the almost Homeric pathos that dwells above our full and privileged bellies in the little, lonely confines of our lost and yearning hearts. Blogging isn't just about perfecting your photography while trying amazing food and discussing it with quirky people, it's also a numbers game: you wanted to be liked, you want to be loved, you want to be read.

So it then becomes a matter of waiting and of watching: to see who logs on, when they log on, why they log on, what they log on for. My site/stalkmeter tells me that many of you hungry, far away, wistful somebodies actually find me by googling 'suveran', and, far be it from me to disregard that most hallowed, most American of traditions, Giving The People What They Want. So, here it is, Amanda, the panderer... of your every organic whim and gluten free desire is here to answer the prayer that has as not yet formed on your unknowing lips, Cake + Knifelings, you have (not quite) asked for, and I have humbly given: Suveran, The Sequel. I'll try and make it much more Godfather II than Grease II, but no pressure, eh.

Have you honestly seen better looking produce, people? This is a bit of a Biodynamic Victoria's Secret Supermodel line up, gobsmacking greens, gorgeous grapes, for the Romans, and the Romans at Mouth. Look at those apples, so luscious and scarlet and with all of those telling markings that denote an authentic fruit. Yes, Suveran has moved onwards and upwards and horizontally - another outlet a few doors down is a boutique little produce shop. Biodynamically and organically grown fruit and vegetables in vivid, vibrant colour adorn the shelves and crates at the Suveran produce store. 

The range is impressive, where else are you going to find a glowing tomato rocking it out next to some biodynamic Lebanese eggplant? Pete has selectively sourced growers from fertile little nooks of NSW (such as Orange), to supply fruit and veges so nutrient dense and attractive that Monet himself would have questioned his ability to capture their beauty and brilliance in Oil. This shop has a beautiful, clean, pure feel to it. All of the produce looks ridiculously fresh, compare the dazzling colours here to what you're usually served in any given Supermarket and some idea of the level of quality should start to hit home.

The divine Marbrook Farm Yoghurt is stocked, this handmade boutique yoghurt is little short of an oral cataclysm of good taste. The Bush Honey version is one of my favourite products of all time. No milk solids are used, which makes a purer, more digestible product, the thickness of which comes from their method of hand processing. Taste this stuff and you'll know why Hindu's think Cows divine. A discerning selection of beautiful cheeses and clean, pure milks are an open invitation to revolutionize the way you do toast and tea. This is clean dairy, and dairy, like the Cross after 10pm, has the inherent potential to be more than a tad bit skanky. If you're a dairy queen then, these will be your most loyal and least mucus-inducing subjects. Always pay attention to cheese, milk, butter, the quality makes so, so much difference. 

Herbs and Spices and Cocoa Beans and other gorgeous and exotic things to bake sprinkle roast and flavour with come in bountiful brown paper packages. Don't shy away from something you haven't heard of or tried before, there's a lot to play with here. And rest assured, everything on the shelves looks fresh, both shops have a high turn over, even the spices have a deep, intense colour that declares their freshness and potency. If you enjoy market shopping, this is a good mid-week fix, much more curious and rewarding than shopping from your standard grocer.

A few doors up, back at Operation Mothership, it's still a weird and wonderful kitchen these guys are rocking. Pete whipped up this quirky pancake for me to try. Another sprouted creation with currents, fresh young coconut and seeds, it has a gingerlicious twist to it and was a beautiful, spicy treat for a hungry girl on a cold Sydney morning. Gluten free, Soy Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Yeast Free, Sugar Free, Tap Water Free, Nightshade free and actually free (ie. I didn't have to pay for it). It's flavour is reminiscent of the wonderful nice in spice twist and sprout porridge that happens when currents nuts seeds fresh young coconut water and coconut meat cinnamon maca licorice root and ginger all get together and do their crazy thing. Kellogs, who? Even if that's not how you make porridge, it rocks all the splendid same.

The Crepes remain a crowd pleaser, these wraps are made with sprouted quinoa and buckwheat and you decide whether you want them filled with vegetables, lamb, chicken or marinated sardines. Go figure. Their zipply little sidekick is some tabouli with apple cider, vinegar and lemon. You can even order a half serve (not a bad idea for small eaters, these things are huge).

Stew on it. Hard. Stew. Stew. Stew. Stewart Not So Little. Check that stuff out. Mother Theresa after quadruple bypass surgery couldn't be heartier than that! Deep, nutrient rich full of coconut oil, lashings of organic veges and you can add lamb, chicken or sardines to it, for a bit of protein power. This is serious stuff, full of fiber and herbs, it'll give you pollyanna cheeks and keep you warm and full all day, and with an appetite like mine, that's saying something.

The sprouted bread (the recipe for which is in the original Suveran piece), is still a slice of heaven for coeliacs and gluten haters alike. You can buy it fresh from the fridge or get it toasted with some stew. If you like a rich, moorish hit, try it with some coconut oil and avocado or nutspread. It's a dense, filling, chewy, bread with flecks of crunchy seeds throughout, unlike other gluten free breads, it isn't a texture pushover and is beautiful to sink your teeth into. If you have had brown rice bread, you know the flaccid gluten free guck that most coeliacs have to call bread.

Pizzas, Pies, Salads, Burgers, and all good for you. It's a world gone mad. It's interesting to watch how the clientele has evolved from your usual hippies to lots of Bondi Junction Bunnies and mothers and local suits. People usually head here straight from the gym to get a meal that isn't going to ruin a decent workout. I really hope those of you who aren't used to eating in this way don't find this type of set up too exclusive or intimidating to check out. Even if you've never heard of Buckwheat and you think Quinoa is a small state in South America, come and see if you like the flavours, you don't have to know what's going on under it all or why it's good for you. I really care about eating well and letting other people know that it's never too interested to learn about how to or why you should. Understanding the qualities of food and how it can change the way you think and function is empowering stuff. Jesus! It was just this once, I promise I won't go all sentimental on you again.

Is all of this talk making you thirsty? You can even drink fresh young coconuts straight from the fridge, they'll hack them up for you and plonk a straw in and Bob's your uncle. It's an instant $3 nutrient rich hydrator, why are you still Diet Coking? Herbal teas are also up for grabs, they can be whipped up with coconut water and are good for cleansing and energising frustrated Bondi Junction Parkers. Smoothies can be coconut based or goats milk based, they contain magnesium and maca, and will make a Bob Marley Nervous System out of one that was formerly Punk Rock.

Fudgey Wudgey, we meet again. [censored].....smoother than they used to be, it's like heaven undergoing renovations to install an extra level and a hot tub. Jesus. Fricking. Christ.

Veggie Patties.
and.......a Crepe Action Shot.
I am exhausted. Just to make sure we understand ourselves, all of Suveran's food is: sprouted (that's good), dairy free, flour free, gluten free, wheat free, egg free, legume free, tap water and nightshade free. The deadly nightshades aren't a Penrith Biker Gang, that's the botanic name given to tomato, eggplant and potato, highly acidic foods which compromise sensitive systems. It's not just what they've taken out, they've put in magnesium (in which Australian soil is notoriously low), maca (food for the pituitary), good veges, clean meats, medicinal herbs and spices. And they make it all fresh as you order for about the price of a Big Mac Value Meal, minus the delayed onset of morbid obseity.

Still at 244 Oxford Street, Bondi Junction. The website is here

Suveran, so dynamic and alive it makes most other food look about as real as Michael Jackon's epidermis. If that didn't kill the sense of salivation I was slowly building, then Get Thee to The Junction, it's like yoga for your taste buds!

Tsukasa (AKA The Immaculate Collection)...

Ever have those people in your life... you know the ones i'm talking about, no matter how hard you may try/scheme/plot to do outdo them, you just can't? Now, i've never been a girl with that many strings to my bow, I know a few things, and I know them well. I know where to go to eat well, but Tatsu, God Bless Him, puts me to rotten, foodie shame. There isn't a place in Sydney that he hasn't tried, once, twice, gotten over already. Not a place that he didn't know about first. I am the Newman to his Seinfeld. All of my Culinary Eurekas are a mere rerun for my Tats. Apparently, he's been Tsukasa'ing from way back when. It's just down the road and it's Madonna's pick for Japanese when she's in Sydney. What the...why wasn't I told! Well, let me say I am glad not another god given day expired before I discovered this little subterranean Hole In The Ground. It's happening and it's Jappening. Tatsu, who finds Japanese food in Australia okaaaay at best, likes it, I, love it. I have eaten here twice already in 3 days, and I have Lived to Tell you Beautiful Strangers precisely how much of an experience this is to Cherish.

It's a loud late night kind of scene they have happening in this saloon type set up. Tourists, cool locals and Japanese people themselves all come in droves for fresh sashimi, not just your standard tunas and salmons, they have bonito sashimi here! General Restaurant Rule of Thumb: if it's Lebanese food and Lebanese people eat there, good sign. If it's Italian and Italian people eat there, good sign. So you're catching my drift about the fact that lots of Japanese people dine here (if not, just Nod and Keep Smiling). The Menu, a line up of all your usual sushiudonsukiyakisashimimisso suspects, reflects this authenticity with a few delicious and traditional curve balls you may not have had the opportunity to sample elsewhere.

Begin with some magic in miso. Because the enzymes in miso become denatured when they're heated too long, most places serve you lukewarm miso, like something disappointingly flaccid when what you really wanted was something sharp. Good miso is hot hot hot, it's light and beautifully brothy, salty and dancing, never too heavy, and the shallots should be very thinly sliced. The miso here is bang on, and like a restaurant that serves divine bread, good miso is usually your cue that they know what they're doing.

Salmon with spinach is a sparkling starter. The sashimi is fresher than adolescent predilections towards being jaded, richer too. It crowns a splendidly crunchy and verdant bed of blanched spinach (ohitashi), dressed in a beautiful sauce, a maddening mess of soy and mirin, sweet and sharp and almost syrupish. It's a wonderful dish, light and healthy but really flavoursome, the little flecks of sesame seed throughout give a nice nutty texture to the smoothness of the fish and the crunchiness of the greens.

The Seaweed Salad here is a tad Jitalian. The usual aramewakamesesamesweetsoyoily mass of wicked weed sits atop some lettuce and tomato in an old school Mamma Mia wooden salad bowl, but I shouldn't knock it if it works. And it does. The plainness of the lettuce and tomato are a good reprieve from the saltiness and sweetness of the seaweed, going back and forth between the two tastes is good mouth tennis.

Chef's Shoes is the name of the next starter, and it's about as close I have come in my rather innocent life to a Foot Fetish. A delicate sashimi mix dances around little strands of rare mushroom, it's a balmy flavour, gentle and deep all at once, dressed very lightly. Mix through some of the dried seaweed on top as it lends a saltiness that contends very well with the oiliness of the fish. This is a gorgeous Japanese Classic, but it was quickly (almost) forgotten in the fateful moment that was soon to descend upon my baffled buds.

Eggplant with sweet miso and shallots, I believe Signor F. Flinstone phrased it best: yabbadabbadoo! It's dishes like this that make you want to just hang up your gloves and retire. Why keep looking for love when you've already found it. This heady little vixen consists of a slab of baked eggplant, gooey and steaming and smothered to ecstatic eggplanty death beneath the richest sweetest most beguiling miso sauce, the first bite is The Prince raising Sleeping Beauty from an ancient flavour slumber. So Good! The freshness of the shallot bounces off the richness of the miso and eggplant just like it ought to. Little spoonfuls of this will make your eyes roll into the back of your happy head. I couldn't even pretend to be sympathetic when Tats professed he was allergic to eggplant and that a spoon was all he could have! I will order this on every subsequent trip, its so deep. So supple. So tender. So giving. Succumb to its gentle, flavoursome folds and dissolve willingly into the serendipitous sigh it emits from you.

The Prawn and Vegetable Tempura with Dipping Sauce was great, but Cat Stevens knows the first cut is always the deepest. My heart belongs to that eggplant. Tsukasa is a good, rollicking night out, and at a reasonable price. Sukiyaki, Udon, Sushi (hand rolls as well) and most of the usual favourites can all be had. A noisy place, much more beer with a crowd than wine with another. Good, unpretentious Japanese.

It'll make a Bay of Pigs of the lot of us. 

Tsukasa happens at 200 Crown Street East Sydney, Call them on 9361 3818.