The Nutty Baker @ 1 Bligh Street - Sydney
Drop the "n" in banker for "nuts" and you get " The Nutty Baker"! In a twist of fate, Nina went into baking for a living almost by accident, and now, she is so successful that she had to move out of her kitchen and rent time and space at The Imperial Hotel in Paddington, where she also runs baking classes in her spare time, between making cakes, catering for functions or selling her beautiful and delicious contraptions in aptly timed pop up stores around the city's financial district.
Nina and I have known each other for a while and met without knowing each other at a recent Martin Place event and more regularly at the Overweigh Markets where she helps the lovely people at Bird Cow Fish, and this in turn triggered her friendship with Jared Ingersoll. We finally met properly!
Her Amarettis - her initial product - and her boozy chocolate and orange cake, her own personal take on the inevitable Christmas pudding, are absolutely delicious and didn't last long in our house...
Milano Torino First (French...) Impressions
I have known Dario Milano for almost five years, and he is the only photographer I took lessons from, apart from my maternal grandfather with whom I learned the arcanes of photography many decades ago... Dario comes from Torino and relocated to Sydney about ten years ago with both a hospitality and photographer background, the later helping him crack the difficult genre which is food photography!
Just a little over a week ago, Dario opened Milano Torino Restaurant in Rosebery, an up an coming suburb of Sydney south of the CBD, famous for two other good places, the canteen-like Kitchen by Mike, which I frequent regularly for lunch and Da Mario, a more formal Italian eatery.
Together with Chef Riccardo Giambastiani, ex Balla and Otto, born in Lucca, Tuscany, they have created a Northern Italian menu which is quite interesting.
I tried the veal with tuna and capers sauce, a great take on the classic vitello tonnato, with the tuna cooked in a reduction of vegetables, herbs, white wine and then emulsified with EVOO to look like a mayonnaise, but with no egg in it, hence much lighter. Lightly grilled capers are peppered over the plate, adding crunchiness and bitterness to what could well have been very bland. The veal is cooked very slowly at 67 degrees and then very thinly sliced.
Being there for lunch, the entrée sized veal dish was sufficient, but to sample one more thing, I decided to try one of the desserts, the chocolate, coffee and amaretti pudding and a nice coffee on the side...
My take on this new restaurant is that it is more geared towards the dinner crowds than the lunch trade. The pricing is too steep for a lunch alone person, and I understand that Dario is going to introduce lunch specials dishes to make it more attractive and affordable. Good on you!
Although I have not been yet for dinner, I think Milano Torino can compete with Da Mario near by or Via Alta in Willoughby. It is BYO only for the time being, until Dario gets his (liquor...) license. He, Riccardo and their team certainly don't need any further training in the food department and the service is casual but attentive and charming. It was great to reconnect with Dario and meet his team. Well done!
Mojo by Luke Manga - Pop Up Market in Danks Street - waterloo
Mojo is a relatively new venue where Luke Mangan tests his new recipes for his restaurants and ventures and also where people can have private parties enjoying Luke's beautiful cuisine as well as being a wine and tapas bar in popular Danks Street, a location made trendy by Jared Ingersoll and his now defunct Danks Street Depot.
Luke runs a string of restaurants around the world under his famous Salt banner as well as his top restaurant glass at the Hilton Sydney, just opposite the QVB. He also consults for P&O Cruises and Virgin Australia and is about to look after food and beverages at two new resorts in the Maldives!
As they say, if you want something done, talk to a busy person...
I like Luke's simple, innovative and perfectly executed cuisine, skills honed first in Melbourne under Herman Schneider, then in London with Michel Roux, a training not for the faint hearted...
Today, though, I am visiting for Luke's food, but because of a pop up Christmas market happening on the premises and populated by a raft of well known, and not so well known, food providers and else...
Toffee apples, French style wines from Rylstone, Pastabilities, Brooklyn bagels and the incontournable Vic's Meat and Butler & Bentley and some of their suppliers. A few photos will give you the gist of it.
SMH Growers Market - Pyrmont - December 6th 2014 - Last of the year with Karen Martini
A few new stalls at this last market of the year, and a notoriously famous Chef as a host, Karen Martini were the highlights of my visit. Karen Martini made her name as the Chef for Better Homes & Gardens, a TV program that have been running for ages and that I don't think I need to introduce...Not my usual sort of TV watching, as I try to avoid commercial television and do most of my watching on demand.
Having said that, the show is watched by millions of people, so Karen Martini has a great following.
She is the perfect choice for TV, as her bubbly personality, her ease with words and her down to earth approach and humour make her instantly likeable. I think I caught a few glimpses of her personality in the photos below. She obviously a great cook as well and did two simple dishes over her breakfast and mid morning appearances. I was early enough to be able to photograph her first dish, bacon and eggs with a twist, meaning a vegetarian version with mushroom, haloumi & tahini! And then a great salad, whose dressing was probably the most important element in the success of the recipe. I love her for saying that "you should NOT eat too much KALE" !!! Let's have a "kale free week" please...
The big scoop of the day was the subdued announcement that Joanne Savill will no longer be the organiser and presenter of this monthly market. She said that she was passing the baton on, but we were not privy of who will be the next host, neither was it clear if Joanna will still be in charge of Good Food Month. Joanne has done A LOT for good food awareness in this country and I suppose it was not an easy decision to let go of such a responsibility. I was certainly surprised, maybe even a little shocked, as Joanne and I had strike a friendship over these last couple of years. The stallholders knew in advance and did show their gratitude in the most delicate and civilised way...
And now some new people, and some not so new...next market in February!
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.
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