Harvested, Sydney

Did you know that $8-10 billion worth of edible food is wasted each year by Australian households alone? That is twice the amount of foreign aid Australia gives!

In fact:

  • Australians throw away 20% of groceries
  • Australia produces enough food for 60 million people annually, yet 2 million go hungry
  • Every day, 1 million Australian kids do not get breakfast or dinner

The list goes on.

OzHarvest is a non-profit organisation that has been rescuing surplus food meant for the bin for over 10 years and distributes it to 600 charities nationally. It is the only organisation in Australia who performs this work, and has converted over 10,780 tonnes of food destined for the landfill, into over 32,340,498 meals to date.

ozharvestToday, OzHarvest launched their pop-up cafe ‘Harvested’, which makes delicious meals out of rescued food for the public.

1431402559923Owl and myself have been supporters of OzHarvest for many a year now and were super keen to check the cafe out.
1431395536192

Today’s menu consisted of:

12 May 15 MenuAt only $15, you can choose as many dishes as you like from a menu that changes daily, depending on what they have managed to rescue. Dish size depends on the number of people on your table as all dishes are made for sharing (except for soup dishes). The following dish sizes were for two (Owl and me).

House-made pide + smoked aubergine labnehHouse-made pide with smoked aubergine labneh
The pide was soft with a slight bite to it, like when you use some spelt flour. The labneh was smooth, creamy and was gloriously smokey with garlicky undertones.
Zuchinni fritters, dill sauce +herbsZucchini fritters with dill sauce and herbs
This dish stole the limelight. It was pillowy soft on the inside and lightly crunchy on the outside. It felt like eating soft-shelled crab and went beautifully with the yoghurt-dill sauce. The herb salad had crisp cucumbers, fresh mint, spring onion and parsley dressed in some sort of lemony buttery sauce that lifted the fritters beautifully. I would go back just to eat $15 worth of this dish…
Slow-cooked lamb, braised white bean + pickled radish12-hour slow-cooked lamb, braised with bean and pickled radish
This dish drew you in with its promise of warmth and comfort, and it did not disappoint. The beans were creamy and nicely balanced (not too salty like some places), and the lamb was braised to perfection. It was soft enough to portion with a butter knife and yet was distinctively and intensely flavourful. I was quite enamoured by the cute little pickled radish which added colour, texture and also cut through the rich lamb and beans beautifully.
Charred veggies, yoghurt + sesame spiceAs an after-thought, Owl and I asked for a dish of the ‘Charred veggies with yoghurt and sesame spice‘. Although very pleasant and not cooked to mush, it pretty much tasted like charred veggies with yoghurt and dukkah. I did notice the cleverly added bits of roasted kale which added to the nuttiness of the dish. The beetroot also added beautiful pink swirls to the dish, enhancing it’s visual appeal even during consumption.

By the end, both Owl and I were comfortably full and completely satisfied, which means the portion sizes were good as we are both ‘healthy eaters’ (ahem). I was half wishing that they had a dessert dish but then remembered it was $2 coffee day at Antidote and did not mind so much  😉 1431402395454

The glass-walled restaurant was sunny, relaxed and friendly; with passion exuding out of all the volunteer waiters and waitresses there. Ronni Kahn, the founder of OzHarvest, was there to greet all the guests and make sure everything ran smoothly (which it did!). Everything was just beautiful and a big kudos to everyone who made this project such a success. Keep up the good work, guys!

Harvested is only open for lunch on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11.30am – 2.30pm. No bookings taken so hurry – they are said to be closing at the end of July 2015.

If you cannot make it, fret not. Baraka, another pop-up restaurant from the founder of Chic Pea has opened in the same place and will donate part of its proceeds to OzHarvest. It opens for dinner Thurs-Sat from 6pm. Bookings will be taken.

#harvestedMore than the novelty and delicious food, it is important that we continue to support events like this to educate, create awareness and enhance sustainability. As Jeff Sachs said, “We face, therefore, a moral crisis, not a material crisis. We face a problem not of means but of ends. As Aristotle might have said, we have the techne (the technological know-how) but not yet the phronesis (the moral wisdom) to choose survival over death. We are trapped by an indifference that ironically has been magnified by America’s exaggerated defense of liberty at the expense of virtue.”

Perhaps Australians are not too far behind.

Harvested
56 Harris Street, Pyrmont, NSW
1800 108 006

More information: SMH Good Food :: Femail :: Ozharvest

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Night Owls Kids Film Fest

The newly opened Darling Quarter at Darling Harbour is hosting two weeks of free outdoor cinema from 10 – 23 January screening 14 classic and contemporary family favourites. The fun starts at 6pm with films commencing at 6:45pm nightly.

Owl and I watched Tangled (2010) tonight after having $12 steak at Stacks (Mon-Wed). It comes with either salad or chips and is about 300g.

Steak & Salad

The steaks were a little chewy (akin to most cheap steaks) but had a nice smoky flavour to it. I recommend ordering the steaks one level below what you like e.g. medium-rare for a medium steak. Dinner only starts at 6pm but they do offer a tapas menu beforehand. Since we only had about 15 mins to go we just ordered some beautifully crisp Pumpkin Arancini, which came with a tomato salsa and fronds of baby basil. I swooped in before we took pictures. Sorry, my bad  :p

 The showground isn’t a large space but sufficient for the number of people that show up (since kids usually take only half the space one needs hehe). There are also benches and random ledges to sit on near the restaurants if grass isn’t your thing. Sound quality was very good and managed to rise above some of the rowdier bar patrons behind. Picture quality was also good. I would recommend bringing a jumper and a rug. It got pretty cold towards the evening despite the 27°C day!

Park Bench

I had been looking forward to trying the Lemon Meringue gelato and the Salted Caramel Popcorn gelato from Meno Diciotto ever since they opened so this was the perfect opportunity. The Lemon was a beautiful blend of creamy tartness; not quite sorbet but more like chilled lemon curd. Soft and slightly chewy bits of candied lemon surfaced every so often to add a nice texture to the gelato, as did the more rarely found meringue. The Popcorn tasted like Macadamia but left kernelly bits in your mouth after the gelato dissolved which I very much disliked. They also sell little bags of popcorn if you want some for the movies! Service was efficient and genuine. Again, scarfed the gelato before any pictures were taken. Oops  ><

Stacks Tavern More Seating

Steak & Chips

Here is the rest of the schedule from the Precinct website:

Wednesday 18 | Ratatouille (2007)
Thursday 19 | Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Friday 20 | Wizard of Oz (1939)
Saturday 21 | Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
Sunday 22 | Happy Feet (2006)
Monday 23 | Doctor Do Little (1965)

Snag Stand, Sydney

“A gourmet hot-dog stand? Now that’s worth having a look,” I mused. So it was a fateful day where Owl and I trekked up to Westfield in the city to try Snag Stand’s food. I had spent about an hour the night before agonising between The famous Reuben Sandwich ($13.50) from Reuben & Moore, the Hand-crafted Chilli Crab Burger from Charlie & Co.’s ($18), and Snag Stand’s ‘haute dogs’ (as they put it).

When I finally decided on SS, it took me another hour to decide between the Pork & Fennel (w/ sautéed tri-colour capsicum, balsamic glaze & shaved parmesan on a toasted brioche roll; $9.90), the Toulouse(w/ sautéed onions, rosemary mushrooms and truffle aioli on a toasted brioche roll; $10.90) or the African Boerewors option which isn’t on their menu anymore. I slept on it and emerged fully convinced that the Pork & Fennel was the way to go, and I was not disappointed. Aside from the gloriously smoky capsicum and complementary combo of the balsamic and pork, that particular hot dog was the ‘Special of the Day’ – which meant it was a dollar off at $8.90. Score!

yum!

Owl decided on the Spicy Spanish Chorizo (w/ semi sun-dried tomatoes, chipotle aioli, baby rocket, and shredded Spanish goat’s cheese on a brioche roll; $9.90). I thought that it would be too salty but we were pleasantly surprised to find that everything amalgamated well, leaving a slight tingle of spice and a satisfying savoury aftertaste. The chips were crunchy and, again, not too salty although I did regret not getting a $1 dipping sauce to go with them – the Spiracha Mayo appealed to my love for chilli.

I love the sturdy little cartons the food came in, adding to the whole ‘hot-dog stand’ feel. Fare with flare is how I would describe this unassuming place. Next time I have a hot dog craving, I wouldn’t mind checking out Stitch Bar which has hot dogs, curly fries and ice-cream sandwiches to boot! Heaven…

Snag Stand
Level 5, Westfield Sydney Food Court
Cnr Market and Castlereagh St
NSW Sydney Australia 2000

Mecca Café, Ultimo, Sydney

I started drinking coffee out of necessity during my uni years but have grown to enjoy it and often cannot function without my morning cup now. Will someone please invent an alarm clock which makes you coffee? It’s Groundhog Day and Catch-22 at the same time every morning in my bedroom. Need to get up to get my caffeine but can’t get up without my caffeine. Intravenous drip plskthx.

Anyway, Owl and I were interested in checking out Mecca in Ultimo after having been voted Best Café 2011 by the SMH Café Guide. The promise of very good coffee was lure enough without it being so enticingly close to us.

Being the indecisive creature that I am, I often pick an item from the menu before I visit an eatery but despite much scouring on the internet, I could not find the menu for Mecca. Everyone mentioned the same thing: a good selection of salads, sandwiches, and your usual café array of pastries. Hmm.

We arrived at around 12pm and were surprised at how small the café was, plus it was completely packed! What little standing space they had was crowded with isolated individuals avoiding eye contact whilst waiting for their take-away. After surveying the vicinity and the menu (salads, sandwiches and 2 varieties of rather sad-looking pastries) we ordered our caps, a tuna sandwich to share, and plonked ourselves on the one communal table; shuffling the chairs a little to resemble some sort of meagre privacy.

I don’t have any pictures, although these blogs do. Some would call the décor ‘concrete chic’ but it I found it hard and cold. The surroundings rather befit the service, actually. Plus, the lack of textiles made the small enclosure rather noisy. I prefer the cosy kinds of cafes; the ones with large amounts of character. The coffees were good, to be sure, but the blend ever-so-subtly hinted at a nuttiness akin to old cigarettes which I found slightly off-putting. To each his own, I suppose.

The star of the place was definitely the tuna sandwich which contained ample amounts of leafy veggies, tomatoes, capers, tuna and mashed hard-boiled eggs. It was a tuna nicoise salad imprisoned by thinly sliced, untoasted sourdough and generously drizzled with olive oil. Half of my sandwich landed on the table much to my regret as I really could have done with more, so delicious it was!

Not being the kind of place you would linger and chat, Owl and I scooted off within half an hour of arriving. To be honest, I found the place altogether overrated and cynically mentioned to Owl the wonders of political influences and bribery. I probably would go back, but only for the sandwich, and only as one of the many avoiding eye contact and shuffling their iPods nervously.

Mecca Espresso
(02) 9280 4204
646 Harris Street, Ultimo. NSW. 2007.
Monday – Friday: 7.00am – 4.00pm
Saturday: 8.00am – 3.00pm
Sunday: Closed

Blackbird Café, Sydney

Bob, Owl and I went to Blackbird café at Cockle Bay Wharf for dinner after visiting the Aquarium. We just wanted something quick and simple so we could run along home to do ZA/ZG (which, by the way, is very frustrating). Bob ordered the Portuguese Chicken Burger ($21.90), Owl the Lamb Kofta Burger ($22.90), and I the Roasted Lamb Cutlets ($35.90).

The large burgers were tasty and I am happy to report that the thick chips were freshly cooked and, hence, were deliciously crunchy as supposed to dismally soggy. Bob tried to share her chips with me but lifting the cup from the board only served to scatter the chips on the table since it didn’t have a bottom – sharers be warned! I was rather pleased that my cutlets were very lean and that it was so generously apportioned. It started off well but eventually became a little too salty for my liking so I had to eat some of Bob’s burger after to try to neutralise the saltiness whilst Owl very kindly ate my last cutlet. The only major downside to this dish is that the cutlets were quite tough and did not fall off the bone well despite promises of it being roasted as supposed to pan-fried. Nonetheless, it sufficiently satisfied my lamb craving.

We fought our way to the counter and paid for our meal, for-going dessert as I had a box of pastries from Black Star Pastry sitting at home. Service was prompt yet bordered on the condescending as the restaurant seemed to have lifted its status a few notches since the last time I visited (2007). I suppose we were too casually dressed for a Saturday night out. All in all it was a nice experience if a little overpriced. No pictures since it rather makes me cringe, not being a fully dedicated food blogger. You’ll just have to imagine the yummy food 😉

Blackbird Café
Balcony level of Cockle Bay Wharf between the IMAX Theatre and Sydney Aquarium
02 9283 7385

Sushi Choo Buffet

Sushi Choo Ad

Sushi Choo’s famous $20 All-You-Can-Eat sushi train buffet has once again graced our city to my excitement as I have been having a sushi craving and was really quite sad when I found out about last year’s event much too late.

Owl and I were determined to reach our goal of 15 plates each, effectively reducing the cost to only $1.50 a plate. What a bargain! We met up with another friend after work and relaxed in the comfortable lounge area just outside of Sushi Choo. We were there half an hour before opening time due to our excitement which allowed us to observe the setting up of the restaurant as it is a very open plan area.

The decor was very aesthetic, lighting at a comfortable level of brightness and the jazz music soft. Owl was unimpressed by one of the chefs coughing into his hand and then handling the raw tuna so she stayed away from it.

We were rather impressed by the selection provided as past reviews indicated a much lesser variety – I think they have changed the menu slightly this year. There was the usual gyoza, raw salmon/tuna nigiri, ebi nigiri, seaweed salad, edamame, pickles and a bunch of rice rolls. The rice roll selection was vast including crumbed chicken, cooked tuna, spicy and non-spicy raw salmon/avocado, sweet potato, teriyaki chicken and even soft shelled crab with lettuce! I’m sure there were many others but my eyes were fixated on the nigiri and seaweed salad. They also had a tangy cold noodle dish and have replaced the potato croquettes with a beautifully deep fried panko crumbed prawn dish. They were so crispy that you could even crunch through the tail. This is quite possibly the most impressive dish I had during the course of the dinner and polished through 2 of them.

As usual the service was impeccable and made for a very good night out indeed. We were fully satiated by the hour and happily stumbled off whilst fighting off severe food coma. Its too bad there weren’t any dessert dishes because i might possible have afforded a mango pudding  😉

I have read a lot of reviews about this $20 deal with many a divided party but personally, I have to firmly say that it is worth your $20 even if most of what you consume is rice and the fish is somewhat sinewy. The ability to eat as many varieties of dishes as you like and no time limit with impeccable service makes it worth the $20 and I would say definitely try it at least once.

Oh, and our tally? Friend walked away with 12 plates, Owl with 15.5 and me with 16.5 (4 plates of seaweed so its cheating a little teehee!). Money well spent!

Sushi Choo

320 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9240 3000

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole

The short version:

Amazing art, inspiring storyline, Australian actors, Sydney based animation studio, talking animals… what’s not to like?  5/5

Legend of the Guardians

The long version:

Owl and I went to watch Legend of the Guardians at the Moonlight Cinemas. It was my choice because I love watching cartoons but this one really popped out at me when I first saw the trailer. To be honest I had no idea what the plot was as I was intrigued more by the appealing art and the graphics of the movie. Oh yeah, I also really like talking animals  😛

The movie was shown in 3D at the Moonlight Cinemas. Immediately I was amazed at how far 3D rendering had come. I remember watching 15-30min snippets in movies like Harry Potter and Beowulf at the IMAX theatre. It was the only cinema showing 3D at that time and they would show most of the movie in 2D then tell you to put on your 3D glasses for particularly exciting sections of the film. To be honest, it wasn’t really impressive. It was blurry and unrealistic. I understand that it’s because the movies were shot for 2D film and then modified post-production; but you have to understand, nobody cares. We just want good quality films; we don’t care how you do it. To top it off, Ga’hoole is an animation so already you can begin to appreciate the amount of work put into it.

Legend of the Guardians

I have to say, the art in the movie is absolutely amazing! The detail is meticulous, the characters lovable and the overall look very consistent and aesthetic. It was difficult to appreciate fully how beautiful the art was in 3D hence my pining to buy the Blu-ray to so I can watch it in 2D as well (thinking of getting this set from JB Hi-Fi when the price drops a little. It’s AUD$40 now).

I was also pleasantly surprised at how good the storyline was. Most people would say it was cliché with the whole good vs. evil thing but I think we need more movies these days which laud the principles of honour, chivalry, sacrifice, faith, kindness, goodness, courage and acceptance. It is not unlike Despereaux in helping wash away the grime of cynicism and renewing one’s vigour to fight for what is just and right.

In addition, I was particularly pleased that many of the actors were Australian including Sam Neill, Joel Edgerton, Richard Roxburgh and Helen Mirren. The animation studio (Animal Logic) is based in Sydney, Australia and I’m patriotically happy to support this kind of industry since it appears to be so lacking.

Overall, I loved the movie and actually am looking forward to watching it again. It is definitely worth your time and a great character-instilling movie for kids to watch. Ten thumbs up! 🙂