At the heart of it, we food bloggers are food lovers. We all started blogging for different reasons, but the reason we keep going is for the love of food. But it’s important to remember that there are some Australians who aren’t so lucky. Some for whom their next meal will be a struggle, not a celebration. Some for whom ‘bringing a plate’ is a near impossibility. That’s why a bunch of us bloggers came together to release The Potluck Club, an e-cookbook with all proceeds going to Foodbank, Australia’s largest food relief organisation.

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The book retails for just $5.95 and comes in both mobile device-friendly portrait and a pc/printer-friendly landscape formats. You get both when you purchase the book. But more importantly, each copy sold will fund a dozen meals for those in need.

Today I just want to take a moment to thank all the bloggers who have donated their work and their time so that Elise, Amy and I could put together a 50 page e-cookbook of fantastic recipes. We each brought what we could to the table; a recipe, a photo or two and after seven whirlwind weeks from start to finish, it’s done. So thank you.

Ai-ling Truong – Food Endeavors of the Blue Apocalypse
Alana Dimou – Alanabread
Anna Brownrigg – The Littlest Anchovy
Carly Jacobs – Smaggle
Cheri Flewell-Smith – Ms Critique
Christina Soong-Kroeger – The Hungry Australian
Heather Sharpe – The Kitchen Crusader
Helen Lee – Sassybella
Jacky Lo – Shared Plate
John Bek – He Needs Food
Jules Clancy – The Stone Soup
Lorraine Elliott – Not Quite Nigella
Manuela Zangara – Manu’s Menu
Olivia Mackay – Scoff & Quaff
Sandra Reynolds – $120 food challenge
SarahKate Abercrombie – Mi Casa Su Casa
Sarah Shrapnel – Love, Swah
Sharon Chan – Colour me plate
Shez Lee – One Bite More
Sneh Roy – Cook Republic
Sophie West – The Sticky and Sweet

And I also want thank anyone who has purchased the book so far. Your contribution makes a real difference in the fight against poverty. In the last three days we have already raised more than $100 for Foodbank! That’s more than 200 meals.

The idea of a small bar crawl has been brewing for a while, but it really came to be after a conversation with some food bloggers at a dinner I was at a few months ago. The conversation went sort of like this:

Me: “Ok, well what about a bar crawl, hashtag small bar crawl.”
Other food bloggers: “Yes/yeah/ok/great/I’m in!”

And so it was that finally, on Monday August 6th a group of 8 food bloggers and drinkers assembled to crawl the bars of York St. Below is a sampling of the bars we crawled, with a bonus bar thrown in for good measure – 5 bars in total.

Thanks to the bloggers of Sydney Feed Me, Love Swah, CookSuck, Alanabread and I Can’t Believe it’s not a Food blog, as well as the two non-blogger chums who shall not be named (unless they want to be) for making my #smallbarcrawl dreams a reality. Read on!

1. York Lane, York Lane (behind Wynyard Station)

This teensy recycled and upcycled laneway hidey-hole is such a well designed space, you wouldn’t think it, but it can fit 30 people. Even better, these guys are open Monday to Saturday from 6:00am serving coffee, breakfast, lunch and snacks all day for the nine to fivers, and share plates, boutique beers and wine by the glass at night. York Lane makes almost everything on site; case in point, when we arrive they’re whipping up tomorrow’s brownies. They even let us lick the beaters.

The highlight for me is the complete lack of attitude; friendly, attentive staff with a sense of humour to boot. The prices are more than reasonable and I enjoy my first taste of Pink Lady apple cider. We nibble on some yummy dips and muffin-shaped portions of baked polenta- everything here is cooked and assembled in their teensy milk-crate-framed kitchen. The decor is right, the mood is right, the essence of the place is right – can’t lose.

Opening hours:
Monday to Wednesday 6:00am – 10:00pm
Thursday to Friday 6:00am – midnight
Saturday 6:00pm – midnight
Closed Sundays

York Lane on Urbanspoon

2. Uncle Ming’s, LG 49 York St

Formerly a community hall for Chinese expats, Uncle Ming’s is a small bar so new you can still smell the lacquer on their mid-century armchairs. Chinese pinups adorn the walls and the space is large, warmly and dimly lit.

If you can find this place, treat yourself to a beer as a reward. Friendly staff are eager to make recommendations from their large selection of asian beers. There’s also a cocktail list and some dumplings. They opened their doors on August 7th and word is spreading fast. Hint: look for the Roman Daniels sign.

Opening Hours:
Monday –Saturday 4:00pm – Midnight

Uncle Ming's on Urbanspoon

3. Stitch, 61 York Street

One of the earliest small bars in the area, Stitch is pretty small, pretty popular and can be tricky to get in to. As such it’s run like a restaurant, with table service and shared bills. Cocktails are the drink du jour and they’re renowned for their hotdogs. Everything is sewing themed, from the vintage singer sewing machines to the spools of thread and fabric patterns lining the walls.

I order a boring glass of prosecco, figuring it’ll come fast, but everything comes out at once so I have to wait like the rest of the fancy-pants cocktail crowd I’m with. The food looks good and in between bites, my chums attest that this is indeed the case.

This was my third visit to Stitch and my opinion remains unchanged. The staff are perfectly nice but not overly friendly, there is something a bit awkward about the service. Drinks take a long time and the fact that you’re seated, as in a restaurant, makes it feel sort of…not like a bar, in contrast to somewhere like Freda’s, which also has table service but feels natural and friendly.

Opening Hours:
Monday to Wednesday 4pm – 12am
Thurs – Fri 12pm til 2am
Saturday 4pm til 2am

Stitch on Urbanspoon

4. Mojo Record Bar, 73 York Street

The story goes that after a day’s work, a bunch of music addicts would meet at Mojo’s and then go for a beer. Eventually a bar was built behind the record store so now they need never leave. Music is obviously a feature but it’s not so loud that you can’t hear yourself think. These guys specialise in Australian Craft Beers, with a few music-inspired, masculine cocktails thrown in for good measure, names like ‘smells like gin spirit’ and ‘lemon cohen’. They’ve been out of 4 pines Kolsch two of the three times I’ve been in, which is kind of annoying as I always prefer a tap beer to a bottle.

Mojo feels like a place where everybody should be smoking. Grab a beer, a coveted red vinyl booth, or, second prize, a bar stool and sit mesmerised by the Edison bulbs while you munch on free pork rinds. This is the bar Nick Hornby’s characters wish they were cool enough to dream up.

Opening Hours:
Monday – Friday 4:00pm – Midnight
Saturdays 6:00pm – midnight

Mojo Record Bar on Urbanspoon

5. The SG (formerly Spooning Goats), 32 York Street

Spooning Goats has had to change its name to The SG as it has been deemed ‘too suggestive’ by the liquor board. Fair enough, I may be missing some double entendre but I never got the name anyway – they have a massive collection of spoons, but where are the goats?

The SG is different from most other small bars in that it is visible from the street. It has a uni-sharehouse-retro-furniture vibe, but strangely bare walls. The lighting’s a bit brighter than most other basement level bars as well. They seems to do a bit of everything – cocktails, beers and wine. You can get a cheese plate or one of their famous house made pies, which I’m yet to try. It’s actually a tad uncomfortable to sit around what feels like someone’s drafty living room on a cold winter’s night, but the staff are friendly and there’s plenty of space to hang out. I feel like this place is still finding its feet.

Opening Hours:
Monday –Saturday 4:00pm – Midnight

Spooning Goats on Urbanspoon

Corridor Kitchen will continue #smallbarcrawl-ing in the months to come. Which is your fave small bar?

Taste of Sydney is held each year in Centennial Park, and until this year I’d never been. This for two reasons; firstly, you have to buy a ticket to attend (and then pay to be fed) and two I figured fancy restaurants are a bit out of my league. Oh yeah, and crowns. 1 crown = 1 dollar, that is bullshit. But this year all that changed as friends offered Senhor R and I free tickets to come along with them. Huzzah!

It was a picturesque scene as we made our way through Centennial Park (the long, slightly muddy way).

Our silhouettes would be a little wider when the night drew to a close.

Although it was quite muddy, the lights made things feel festive.

Hipsters be chillin’…

Gorgeously crispy Fried Hawkesbury School Prawns from Quarter 21.

Posicles are all the rage these days – the Fresh Pops cart.

Quarter 21 again with Slow Cooked and Caremelised Short Rib. Divine.

Pat & Stick’s Cramel Pecan Ice Cream Sanwich – I couldn’t finish it by myself!

The black label juice bar/cocktail/popup/thingummy. Weird.

Kopperburg cider. Kicks Rekorderlig’s Arse. No contest.

Pretty skies.


McLaren Vale Ale. I’m a fan.

Charlie & Co teensy Burger. It’s the first time I’d tried Charlie & Co. it was fine, overpriced though.

Another bar.

The Suckling Pig at Four in Hand was less than crispy.

The Beach Bar- best value (anything) in the place.

A delectable mojito. 8 bucks/crowns! We were in this weird parallel universe where cocktails are cheaper than wine. Or food. I think it’s called Brasil.

Waiting for pasta at A Tavola. A delicious 3 kinds of meat ragu, to be precise.

It’s really time to go now. But what about our leftover crowns?

Back to Quarter 21 for dessert – Hokey Pokey Ice cream Sandwich.

A lot of people I spoke to said they were less impressed with this year’s line-up than they were in previous years. They stopped serving booze at 9:30pm, and so many people found themselves with a pocketful of crowns and not much to spend them on. On leaving the park, it was pitch black, verging on dangerous as we scrambled for ANZAC parade. But overall it was a fun, if expensive night. I’d go again. With free tix (hint hint).

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The early Sydney small bars were ultra-trendy, with high price tags on drinks. I won’t name names, but their simple formula left me cold – fancy cocktails + retro furniture + no windows + overpriced bear and wine + overcrowding + nowhere to sit = not a great night out. How, I wondered, could anyone afford to go to these places and have more than one drink? Thus I became a smallbar cynic. I wouldn’t have, for lack of a better pun, a bar of them. Until Freda’s.

Freda’s isn’t small, it’s large. But it doesn’t feel large because it employs this revolutionary idea I like to call hospitality. That’s what happens when the staff can be bothered to say hello. It’s where there are chairs to sit on and music that ranges from a hum to upbeat background noise – on Saturday night, you’re just short of shouting but you probably won’t notice. It’s where the food comes out quickly and the bread comes with it, where you can order at the bar or have table service, your choice. It’s where every person that serves you treats you like a person, not a nuisance at the end of a woolworth’s deli-style queue, and you treat them like a person right back.

How to get there
Freda’s is on Regent street, just north of Cleveland. Look out for a giant red tongue of the PR agency nearby. It’s is in an alleyway, right by the dance studio, opposite the servo where all the taxis refuel. You know the place.

When you walk into Freda’s, most likely someone will greet you. If it’s early, maybe several people will. It’s an exposed brick warehouse that has been sympathetically restored, with a pared-back aesthetic, bare light bulbs, a daily blackboard menu and wooden finishes.

Food/Drink
I recommend Happy Hour if you’re skint. They always have a $5 beer and a $5 wine and some crazy oyster deal. Around 5pm they put up their shareplate menu, it’s mostly cold stuff, things that are pickled and braised and delicious. Everything seems to come with free bread and go well with drinking. The food menu changes daily and they are renowned for their pickled octopus- sounds weird but delicious. I’ve tried their eggplant and tahini (amazing), and one weekend I think we tried everything on the menu except the sujuk, beetroot yogurt and the oysters. Everything was smashing – vinegary, charred, complex, textural. The wine list is impressive as well, and of course there are cocktails. Also, they serve lunch sandwiches. And lunch coffee.

The Verdict
Freda’s has its finger on the pulse, but the pulse of someone who’s just had a leisurely latte and a pumpkin scone rather than a $20 glass of champagne and a handful of speed. And it shows. It’s about to be blogged to death and recently received a favourable review in the SMH. It’s the kind of place that’s impossible not to like, like that kid in high school who was unrealistically good looking, got good marks, was great at sport and, to top it all off, nice as pie. But cooler. And with pickled octopus on the menu.

Freda’s
109 Cleveland Street
Chippendale, NSW, 2008
(02) 8971 7336
www.freda’s.com.au

Monday-Friday 11:00am – Midnight
Saturday 4:00pm – Midnight
Sunday 4:00pm-10:00pm

Freda's on Urbanspoon

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My sincerest apologies for the inconsistent posts lately chums, but I’m pleased to announce that Corridor Kitchen is moving – both literally (to new kitchen) and digitally (to a new host).

There have been some teething problems with both but we should be properly sorted next week.

There is also an exciting project in the works for October, so watch this space for future announcements.

Cheers,
Lau, Corridor Kitchen

 

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to a bread making workshop as Brasserie Bread in Banksmeadow. Silly me, I got Banksmeadow mixed up with Beaconsfield and so I found myself on a bus down Botany road at 10:35am, starting to panic. It’s a long way to Banksmeadow and I’ve learnt my lesson for next time.

Of course I needn’t have worried, as I entered the post-industrial café and through to the baking classroom I was greeted by a bunch of young ladies wielding state-of-the-art SLR’s – food bloggers. Brasserie Bread Training Manager Matthew Brock welcomes me offered me a drink and a disposable apron (damn, I knew I forgot something!). I chose a macchiato and then realised I was the only coffee drinker. Good mach though.

Matthew introduced the class by talking a bit about artisan baking and what it means. He explained that there is an emphasis on good quality ingredients, but the process is just as important as the materials. Artisan baking is all about doing things by hand rather than by machine. Matthew points out that the senses are crucial to the artisan baker, as he or she will rely on sight, smell, taste, touch and sound to determine whether the bread is ready to move on to the next stage.

He tells us he’s going to start by stimulating our sense of taste and pulls a tray of warm pastries out of the oven, which he cuts into generous chucks for us all to enjoy. At first we nibble, bird-like but then our senses get the better of us (we are food bloggers after all) and we chow down. They are heavenly. Although I have a sneaking suspicion that description would apply to many foods reheated in a bread oven…

After some munching and some more explanation, we move on to our first recipe, a multi grain ‘Struan’, a word which means ‘the convergence of streams’. It’s bread with a bunch of components coming together to make one tasty, low GI bread. We are given 5 bowls – a ‘bega’ (a starter), a ‘soaker’ (a mix of soaked seeds, flour, water and salt), fresh yeast (7g), a mix of flours and an olive oil/ agave nectar combo ‘for something a little bit different’. All these ingredients come together to form the Struan, and you can find the recipe here and here, but what’s more important is HOW they come together.

Matthew explains that the seeds have to be soaked overnight because otherwise they’ll leech the moisture from the bread and you’ll end up with a very dry loaf. I don’t have much experience making bread, it always seemed like a huge pain in the arse to me, but what surprises me more than anything as we knead and fold it is just how wet and sticky the dough is. I always thought bread dough had to be dry enough to just fall off your fingers and kneaded to within an inch of its life, but this dough reminds me of pão de queijo in terms of texture. We use very little flour, kneading it for about five minutes and then folding it up, placing a bowl over it and leaving it to sit for a minute. We knead it again for a couple of minutes, fold it up, place a bowl over it and leave it to rise for around an hour.

After this, we slap and roll the bread around a bit (literally, pick it up, slap it against the bench and roll it over). I’m more bread than blogger as I try and scrape every skerrick from my hands. ‘Every loaf of bread that you bake at home is a lesson,’ says Matthew, and I think, fair enough, but in my miniscule kitchen it’d be a pretty messy lesson.

We move on to shaping and this is the fun bit because it’s now that we really come to understand what he meant about the senses. We tuck all the sides of the dough up and under and then turn the dough over, so that the top is rounded. We then push down with cupped hands on this dough ball, rolling in a circular motion so that it becomes tighter and tighter. It’s hard to explain, but we can feel when it’s done. Then it’s dusted in rolled oats and left to prove, upside-down in a hairnet-lined bowl for about an hour.

We spent a bit of time in between rising and proving the Struan shaping some other loaves from some ready-to-prove dough they had prepared for us. We shaped multigrain dinner rolls (a similar process to shaping the Struan), a white baguette and a seed-encrusted pain d’epi or wheat-stalk bread. The pain d’epi was by far the coolest looking thing we shaped, and deceptively simple. Once we’d rolled a baguette, it was dampened in a tray with some wet paper towels and rolled in a tray of seeds. Then, with scissors held low and almost flat, we cut almost all the way through the dough, peeled a ‘petal’ to one side, made another cut and immediately peeled one to the other side. Matthew told us to act fast, as the ‘peeling’ must be done as soon as the dough is cut or it will spring back into shape. You can see detailed instructions on how to shape pai d’epi here.

By the end of the day we had so much bread to take home and then of course it was time to try pretty much every kind of bread Brasserie Bread makes, dipped in a whole raft of scrummy things – goat’s cheese, artisanal butter, soft cheese baked in the oven with wine and garlic…you know, your usual Tuesday lunch. My favourite by far was the olive and rosemary bread, salty deliciousness but I also loved the garlic bread and the sour cherry.

Anywhere there’s a ton of food bloggers, you never feel self-conscious about taking photos. I sure hope poor Matthew wasn’t camera shy. We all had a lot of fun. The class went for three hours and it would have been well worth the money if I’d had to pay for it but disclaimer, I didn’t and that could only add to my enjoyment.

Brasserie Bread have a range of courses, including kid’s classes (which are booked out until 2012!). They also do gift certificates, just pop into their café to purchase one. Courses cost about $150 and include everything you’ll need. Oh, and you get to take home all the bread you make and then some…

Brasserie Bread
1300 966 845
1737 Botany Road
Banksmeadow NSW 2019
http://www.brasseriebread.com.au/

Brasserie Bread on Urbanspoon

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Can you believe it? Corridor Kitchen is 6 months old! It seems like a small thing, but I feel like celebrating.


Image courtesy of Omer Wazir

To celebrate, I have one copy of the Australian Women’s Weekly cookbook Kids’ Birthday Cakes to give away. To enter, just comment and let me know your favourite childhood birthday cake. Entries close midnight, Monday May 2nd and the winner will be announced the following Friday. Good luck! Please note: the book can only be shipped to the following countries.

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