The Dough Collective, Sydney CBD ($)

Address: Shop G5, 614 George Street, Sydney NSW

Tel: (02) 9264 6608

Website: http://www.doughcollective.com.au

* * *

Reviewed by: Wicko

???????????????????????????????

The Dough Collective is a new bakery located in the heart of the city at 614 George Street between the Metro Theatre and McDonald’s.

20140203_183209

They have been open for one week, offering a twist to the usual bread experience.

20140203_182747

The Dough Collective believes in providing higher quality breads compared to other bakeries through their unique production process.

???????????????????????????????

20140203_183029

I was invited with a group of food bloggers, to go behind the scenes into the kitchen and see how the professionals make their bread.

Upon arrival, I saw some cool bread displays on show, including a giant lobster!

??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

When we went into the backroom I was amazed at how many bakers were in there, creating magic with their hands.

???????????????????????????????

After learning more about the business I came to understand what it was the caused this bakery to stand above the rest. The business creates a much fresher product through many interesting techniques.

???????????????????????????????

First and foremost, almost everything is handmade; the only step of the process where a machine is used would be the baking (obviously) and the kneading for some types of bread.

???????????????????????????????

This kneading is kept to a minimum to ensure that the bread is not completely worked, as this causes the loss of air in the bread.

This in conjunction with the use of warm water when mixing the flour, ensures that the bread does not dry out, and cooks quickly, gives the bread its wonderful fluffiness.

The yeast used by the bakers is produced freshly on site from dried raisins which have been fermented with water for 9 days at 25.2 degrees.

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

This provides a flavour advantage, as the liquid is used (as opposed to dried yeast where much of the flavour in the yeast is lost from the liquid). It also results in a fresher product.

In the process of baking, no sugars or oils are used, except for in the sweet products such as the “chocolate surprise”.

IMG_6479

Instead, they rely on quality products sourced from around the world, for example Belgian chocolate, and Italian parmesan.

???????????????????????????????

The business runs on 2 hour time slots. This is to make their wide range of products (58-60) possible.

The bakers in the back would cook only a few kinds of bread in a two hour slot, as cooking all types, all day would be near impossible. Thus the breads that are out are fresher, and a wide variety available.

IMG_6478

These shifts will soon be up on a sign out the front. They correspond to the time of the day, for example: sweeter breads during breakfast time or heavier and cheesier breads during lunch.

So we rolled our own bread for a minute or two. It looked like the easiest thing I could imagine while I watched the chef do it, however when it was my turn to rise to the challenge, I do not think I could’ve done worse!

When the tour was over we were shown around the front and introduced to their hot beverages.

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

The Dough Collective is aiming to providing a holistic experience through their provision of both food and drink.

The coffee is from Single Origin Roasters which is ethically sourced and environmentally sustainable. The quality of the coffee is such that to use it in your shop, you must go through a tough interview, which many businesses do not pass; this really elucidates the quality of the product.

I had a large long black with no sugar.  It was one of the best coffees I have had in a while, strong and flavoursome just as I like it.

IMG_6514

As we left we were given bags to take home some bread (win!).

???????????????????????????????

There was a wide variety to choose from, including sweet and savoury options and individual or family sized loaves.

??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? IMG_6499 ???????????????????????????????

Being a sweet tooth I decided to take home the “Chocolate surprise” which was a beautifully soft chocolate dough with a soft centre of liquid chocolate.

I also got my hands on the “Ham Pizza Toast”. This one would be a personal favourite out of the savouries. It seemed just like a loaf of bread with cheese on it from above, however I found out how wrong I was the first time I cut it. The centre was partly hollow, filled with a soft runny cheese and strips of ham. This perfectly complimented the crusty top.

IMG_6519

The “Gourmet Hot Dog” (below, bottom left) was great, it contained Australian pork and mustard in a soft pastry.

20140203_195546

Finally I tried the “sweet and savoury ring”. When I ate this I was so surprised. The combination of Belgian chocolate in a large, soft, ring, with cream cheese, and black kidney beans was amazing. I found it a great delight, due to its differentiation from the norm… and also because of the chocolate.

20140203_183038

Overall, The Dough Collective was a great place to explore the different kinds of breads, learn how they are made and try some delicious coffee.

I enjoyed the experience and especially the variety and quality of breads available.

The Dough Collective on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

Sicilian, Parramatta ($$)

Address: 292 Church St Parramatta NSW

Tel: (02) 9633 2299

Website: http://www.sicilianparramatta.com.au/our-venues/

* * *

I received an email not long ago from Ms Gomesz of Sicilian in Parramatta, inviting me to visit the restaurant to try out some of the dishes from the new menu.

I had heard of the Sicilian before but had never actually visited it so I was intrigued and agreed to come in with MC to check it out.

Atmosphere

We had a booking for around 7.15pm on a Friday night.

As expected, Parramatta was just beginning to get busy and we were lucky to nab a spot in the carpark in Erby Place, just behind the restaurant.

We entered the restaurant from the back and I was impressed with the clean and elegant exterior of the restaurant, even from the back entrance.

20131129_191628

20131129_212038

The lovely Ms Gomesz gave us a choice of seating and we chose a booth towards the front of the restaurant, which gave us a good view of one of the TV screens around the restaurant, whilst still having a bit of privacy.

We were also near the pizza kitchen, which was a small separate area that was sectioned off from the rest of the kitchen.  The pizza kitchen had a large wood-fire oven for the pizzas and there were two Chefs preparing piping hot pizzas in an unusual shape (see below!).

20131129_192925

The atmosphere at Sicilian was fantastic. It was a Friday night and the restaurant was as any great restaurant should be on a Friday night: busy. There were TV screens showing everything from football to the Discovery Channel, music playing in the background, the sizzling noises of hot food being prepared in the kitchen and the happy chatter of satisfied customers relaxing after a long week.

MC and I felt comfortable in the busy environment and enjoyed looking around at the beautiful paintings on the roof and walls and the Southern Italian styled decor.

Service

Well what can I say about service?

MC commented that it was “the best service he has ever had”, and I have to agree.

Right from the beginning staff were friendly and helpful.  We always felt well looked after without feeling annoyed about being bothered or “checked on” every 5 minutes.

Our waiter (I think his name was Enrique?!) was extremely professional, friendly and seemed quite experienced.

20131129_191833

Food

We soon ordered drinks, with MC going for his usual cider (the only choice was Monteith’s Crushed Apple Cider– $8.00).

I chose a refreshing cocktail, the “Woo Woo”.

This was a beautifully presented and absolutely delicious tropical cocktail containing vodka, peach schnapps, lime and cranberry.

It was served in a tall glass with a slice of pineapple on the side, which was a nice touch.

20131129_192348

Woo Woo, $10.00 (all day)

We began the meal with an entree of Arancini Balls with Aioli.

The arancini were mouth-wateringly good. The exterior was crunchy and perfectly golden but it was the inside which was the best part. The rice was cooked al dente and was full of flavour and the small vegetables and gooey cheese contributed to an interesting texture.

20131129_192908

Arancini, $11.90

For the main event we decided to get a side of Sauteed Seasonal Vegetables to get those vitamins in!

I loved that the veggies were bright and colourful, containing carrot, gorgeous baby potatoes, roasted capsicum, broccolini and beans.

Although MC isn’t a big veggie person and HATES capsicum, I managed to get him to try a piece of the sweet roasted capsicum and (dare I say it?) he actually didn’t mind it!

I thought the veggies were well cooked, until just done, and were bright and well presented.  They were a great side dish to complement the other dishes we ordered.

20131129_195019

Sauteed Vegetables, $6.90

MC’s choice for mains was a wood fire Agnello pizza.

This delicious specimen was made of succulent spit roasted lamb, barbecue onions, slightly salty feta, delicious creamy pumpkin slices and a handful of rocket tossed in lemon vinaigrette.

Not a fan of rocket, MC picked it all off. Despite his comment that “it would be better without the leaves”, he really enjoyed the pizza and commented that the lamb was really tasty.

The star of this dish for me however, was the delicious base. The base was soft and tasted slightly of sourdough.

The crust was amazing and while I would normally eat most of a pizza and keep the crust aside, I absolutely loved this one!

I am not big on lamb but I did really enjoy the tender meat in this pizza and it was perfectly balanced by the sweet onion and creamy cheeses.

20131129_195034

Agnello pizza, $27.90

My choice was the Moreton Baia Bugs.

As I am sure you know, I love seafood. I take any opportunity available to choose dishes which feature crab, prawns or other shellfish.

This particular dish was well presented and contained two grilled marinated Moreton Bay bugs on a basil infused mash with roasted vegetables and Sicilian’s citrus hollandaise sauce.

The bugs were delicious and juicy, not overcooked at all.

MC had never had bugs before but enjoyed prawns and crab on previous occasions.  He and I both enjoyed the subtle flavours of the bugs, which were fresh and warm, together with the tangy Sicilian sauce and lemon juice.

The one thing I did not like about this dish however, was the mash and vegetables.

I felt the mash was very dense and heavy and the dish would have been better with a fresh salad on the side and perhaps some roasted potatoes instead.

Apart from that, we both enjoyed the dish and I was glad I chose it.

20131129_195056

Moreon Baia Bugs, $34.90

After clearing our plates, our friendly waiter brought out the dessert menu on a rustic looking clipboard.

20131129_202430

By this stage MC and I were feeling pretty full so we decided to skip out on a full dessert, which included sticky date puddings, tiramisu and cannoli.

Instead, MC went for an Affogato, an espresso shot served with a shot of ice cream.

While the ice cream was a little icy (perhaps the freezer needs to be turned down a bit?), the espresso was delicious and together they made for a wonderfully invigorating combination.

MC who is not normally a coffee drinker, really enjoyed the affogato and perhaps has acquired a taste for sweet, Italian coffee?

20131129_203346

Affogato, $6.00

I went for one of my favourite post- meal teas, Peppermint. Peppermint tea is soothing and great to freshen up your breath after a garlic-laden meal. It is also known to aid digestion and is quite healthy when enjoyed without sugar.

The tea was served in a cute cut with an individual tea pot and was a nice way to round off the meal.

20131129_203420

Peppermint tea, $4.00

Summary

Overall, MC and I had a wonderful meal at the Sicilian.

The service was the best we have had in a while and we were made to feel comfortable and welcomed, in true Italian style.

Food was tasty, if a little expensive.  The pizza was delicious and next time I would like to try some of the other types available, and perhaps a pasta dish as well.

I will be returning and I would recommend this place to locals looking for a great venue for a date night or family gathering (there is also a large function space at the back of the restaurant!).

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 9
  • Food-  7.5
  • Ambience-  7.5
  • Value – 7.5

TCFB and MC dined as guests of The Sicilian, thanks to Ms Gomesz.

Sicilian on Urbanspoon

Product Review: The Australian Coffee Guide- Top 100- 2013

Name of Product: The Australian Coffee Guide- Top 100- 2013

Available at: http://www.australiancoffeeguide.bigcartel.com/

* * *

The Australian Coffee Guide

About the Guide

The Australian Coffee Guide is a little book which contains a list of 100 of the “best” coffee shops and cafes in Australia.

I asked founders IZAAC TRPESKI & MEGAN RULLIS a few questions about the guide and their coffee experiences.

image002

1. What is The Australian Coffee Guide?

The Australian Coffee Guide is a list of Australia’s top 100 places to get a coffee. It’s an unbiased guide from a non-coffee company. It’s not ranked 1-100 but mores showcases the best of the best around Australia. Unlike other coffee guides that are city based, it’s a comprehensive guide to Australia best coffee, in major cities, towns and regional areas.

2. Why did you decide to compile the guide? 

We were inspired a New York coffee guide originally and realised there was a gap in the market. No one was doing Australia’s top 100. No one that we know is actually doing a top 100 in any country.So I think we claim being the very first.

Ohhhh and we love coffee.

3. What is your connection with, or relationship to, coffee- what makes you an expert in coffee?

Our connection with coffee is that it’s part of our daily life and routine. We constantly search for new and hidden places which always inspire to make the best drop. We appreciate what goes into a great coffee. It’s not always the coffee bean. It’s a combination of the machine and love the barista gives the coffee. We’ve undergone formal education at the Delano Coffee School to what goes into making a fantastic coffee.

4. What is your favourite type of coffee and why do you enjoy it? 

Megan loves a latte because if it’s made well it’s smooth and creamy and can really give me a great caffeine hit.

Izaac can’t go past either a traditional espresso if it’s made to perfection or a piccolo latte as he likes a strong hit and not an influx of milk to spoil the coffees flavour.

5. What is your favourite brand of coffee and why? 

We love many brands hence why our guide isn’t biased but to name a few we love Single Origin, All Press and Delano Coffee.

6. How many cups of coffee do you drink per day?

We try to limit it to no more than two.

7. How do you “review” coffee- what do you look for? 

i. A good coffee must be made with freshly ground beans before they begin to oxidise in exposure to the air. The freshness will shape the freshness of the Crema. The best quality coffee is generally grade AA, meaning the beans are the largest size available. Typically, the larger the coffee bean, the better the taste.

ii. Coffee is science not art. The perfect extraction is difficult to achieve as you don’t want over extraction which results in bitter coffee or under extraction which results in a weak water like coffee. Extraction should be between 25-30 seconds.

iii. Smell the coffee. Good coffee beans release fragrant oils when roasted and have a high intensity coffee smell.  High quality coffee retains a strong aroma when freshly brewed.

iv. Quality of the milk will affect the consistency of the coffee. Texture is a big thing which affects the science of the bean. Milk has to be dense, silky and full-bodied. The milk will enhance or detract from the coffee depending on how well it is done. Common mistakes are overheating the milk, over or under aerating it and not grooming it enough

v. The pour of the milk needs to be considered and affects the presentation of the coffee. It needs to be done with finesse – carefully, floating the espresso to the surface to create a marbling effect.

vi. Try not to drown coffee in sugar. Sugar changes the composition of coffee and dampens bitterness- your tastebuds will therefore not be able to correctly interpret the composition of the bean.

8. Which is your favourite coffee venue from those listed in the book?

If we had to choose one it would be in Melbourne… we love St Ali.

9. Which is your favourite coffee venue in Sydney’s CBD?

Single origin Roasters

10. Did you visit every single venue in the book when compiling it?

Absolutely. 1000 coffees sampled over an 8 month pilgrimage and counting. 

 

Buddha Belly, Terry Hills ($$)

Address: 327 Mona Vale Rd  Terrey Hills NSW

Tel: (02) 9450 1504

Website: http://www.thebuddhabelly.com.au/

* * *

Atmosphere

Buddha Belly is situated in Terry Hills gardens, just off Mona Vale Road. It is a tranquil spot, surrounded by bamboo, trees, a koi pond and a cute little store selling decor and furnishings from Bali.

All of this combine to make it a pleasant place to relax and enjoy a coffee or a meal. Prowsey and I headed over to Buddha Belly upon discovering that Plan A (Butcher’s Block) and Plan B (Sous le soleil) were closed on Sundays.

Service

Upon arriving we were greeted at the door by a young guy who led us to a table. During our time there we were helped by another waiter who was also young, and who seemed a little inexperienced and shy. However he took our orders with accuracy and politeness and we didn’t have any problems with service at all.

Food

We started off with drinks. I ordered a Summer Morning (pineapple, passionfruit and mint) juice ($7.50), while Prowsey had a smoothie (also $7.50). My juice was delicious. It had a fresh minty smell and a slightly sour tang of passionfruit mixed with the sweetness of pineapple- delicious!

1

Summer Morning Juice

For entrees we ordered Sourdough Bread with Olive Oil and Balsamic Dukkah ($3.00). This entree included a large piece of bread, some delicious tangy balsamic and mellow olive oil, and a great dukkah mix of spices, herbs and sesame seeds. Delicious. It was a perfect serving for us to start off the meal without getting too full and was pretty cheap too!

For mains, Prowsey and I both ordered the Summer Salad ($27.00), which was a salad of smoked trout and crab meat, king prawns, green mango, paw paw, onion, cucumber, wakame, cherry tomatoes, herbs (including mint and parsley), and wasabi mayonnaise (taken from the menu).

2

The salad was delicious. There was plenty of it and there was a high seafood to salad ratio. The dressing was delicious and creamy, while the leaves and tomatoes were refreshing and light. The seafood was cooked perfectly and the smoked trout really added to the complexity of the dish. At the end of this we felt satisfied and full but weren’t in a food coma from fatty carb-loaded food!

3

After lunch, I had a chai tea ($3.80) and Prowsey had a cappuccino ($3.30). My tea was a little weak as I think one tea bag for that pot of water wasn’t enough (I prefer a strong chai tea with lots of milk and a bit of honey!).

Cost:

Overall our entrees, meals, drinks and coffee came to about $40 each.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 5.5
  • Food- 7.5
  • Ambience- 7.5
  • Value –7

Buddha Belly on Urbanspoon

Thyme Square, Hornsby ($)

Address: 5/43a Florence Street Hornsby NSW

Tel: (02) 9476 0700

Websitehttp://thymesquarecafe.com.au/

* * *

The news of my friend’s engagement to her long-term boyfriend brought us to Thyme Square for some Sunday morning brunch!

Prowsey, Kate-T and I chose a cosy booth for our morning coffee and breakfast spot. We were greeted by a nice waitress who was pretty efficient despite telling us that she was new to the job. She soon took our orders and the coffees and my chai latte were soon brought out.

4

Chai tea latte

My chai latte was delicious and creamy, very soothing and quite tasty with the honey. A good choice!

While Prowsey and Kate-T both chose the Bacon & Eggs with a cappucino, I opted for the Smoke Salmon breakfast. This option included toasted wholemeal bread (although I ended up getting sourdough), smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, half an avocado, and rocket, all for $15.50.

The Bacon & Eggs contained two eggs with bacon and toast for $13.50. The girls also ordered a side of spinach and mushrooms (extra).

5

Smoked salmon breakfast

I really enjoyed my meal. The avocado was a little hard, not ripe enough, but that is something which isn’t always controllable!

The eggs weren’t as fluffy as I would prefer them to be but were still tasty and enjoyable.

There was plenty of salmon for the amount of eggs and toast, and the toast was crunchy and delicious.

I didn’t see any rocket on the plate however, which was a little disappointing as it could have done with more greens!

Also, the girls asked for some Turkish bread but also got sourdough -perhaps they ran out? Either way we should have been told that there was no Turkish bread instead of just being served a different type of bread.

Overall there were some minor issues but the place is quite cute and cosy and the food pretty tasty and reasonably-priced.

Rating:

Overall I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 5.5
  • Food- 7
  • Ambience- 4.5
  • Value – 6.5

Thyme Square Cafe on Urbanspoon

Shingle Inn, Hornsby ($)

Address: Westfield Hornsby, 236 Pacific Highway, Hornsby NSW

Tel: 02 9987 0177

Website: http://www.shingleinn.com/

* * *

After a day of shopping, Mum and I decided to stop at the Shingle Inn for a coffee.

We found some comfy arm chairs and had a look at the menu. We were surprised to see that the Inn served coffee in “European coffee bowls”! Mum, being a coffee lover, decided she had to try it and ordered a latte in a coffee bowl. I ordered a banana bread and an English breakfast tea. The lady who served us was lovely and friendly, which I’ve found is quite unusual for cafe workers. All up it cost us about $15.00 which is very reasonable, especially with such a large bowl of coffee.

It wasn’t long before our orders were brought out.

Mum’s coffee bowl did not fail to impress. It was enormous. I did doubt whether she would be able to finish it but to my surprise she did!

20130203_121900

My tea was served in a small pot which provided me with about 2.5 cups of tea. It was just what I wanted, but being just a standard English breakfast, was nothing special.

20130203_121737

The banana bread, which I ordered toasted, was warm and buttery. I would have preferred banana and walnut, which is one of my favourites, but as they didn’t have any, the banana bread sufficed.

20130203_122013

Overall a nice tea time with Mum. Despite being in the middle of the shopping centre, the Shingle Inn manages to provide a nice spot for tea, with great service and reasonable prices.