Monday, December 30, 2013

Balcony Garden: Harvest Monday #51

I'm slowing making my way towards having all the Balcony Garden ingredients for a full-blown salad. Today is not that day...

The tomatoes are still ripening, but I have a few good looking cucumbers, lettuces and some whackado leafy green called Mizuna that was given to me as seedlings by a colleague.  

I'm really impressed with the hefty size of my homegrown cucumber. As there's no way to hold a cucumber without it looking...rude, you'll just have to take my word that it was longer than my hand!

I'm always nervous cutting into my homegrown veggies. I fear that they'll either be rotten or crawling with bugs and grubs. Thankfully this cucumber was deliciously perfect! I have no idea how to tell if a cucumber is ripe, but as they grow their skin is quite spiky. I've assumed they're ripe when the spikes all but disappear.

I added in some store bought tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese and capsicum for a dinner salad...and it was DELICIOUS!

And the good news is that I have a few new cucumbers coming up. I'm always astonished at the way they grow...they can support their weight sideways until they get quite big. Pretty amazing!


And as always I'm on caterpillar's a daily thing. So far I've spotted their poop...but nothing more. Not a caterpillar in sight. I KNOW they are there...but where?

Happy gardening everyone xoxo

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Suzy Spoons, Newtown

Suzy Spoons is a new vegetarian "butchers" and cafe that has opened up in Newtown.

Now the words "vegetarian butchers" will have some rabid omnivores scratching their head in confusion and dedicaetd vegetarians (and flexitarians like me) clapping their hands in delight.

Suzy Spoons makes various vegetarian meat substitutes like fakin' bacon, sausages and chicken schnitzels that give vegetarians, and others not wanting to eat meat all the time, some options other than salads and vegetable stacks. For someone like me who likes to eat meat free quite often but finds it quite hard to put together a lot of meals without meat these products are really useful. They are also really tasty.

As well as making all of their products on site, Suzy Spoons has a cafe area where you can pop in for a bite to eat.  There are a range of lunch options on offer - salads, burgers and sandwiches.

I'm still feeling like a bit of a fatty boombah after my Grand Eating Tour of Europe, and now Christmas, so I'm really pleased to see a bunch of salads on offer.  The salads come in three different sizes and I've chosen the small salad - with a slice of bread (or four) on the side which they are happy to accommodate even though it's not a menu option. I MUST have carbs at lunch. MUST.

I'm keen to try the salad that comes with a smokey rasher of fakin' bacon, lentils, kippfler potatoes, walnuts, baby spinach and basil dressing as I'm still wanting to find a bacon substitute that doesn't taste like old socks. This salad great - very fresh + light and the fakin' bacon was really smokey, had a nice flavour and a good crunchy texture. I'd happily add this to pastas or salads at home.

My lunch buddy, Miss Chicken, is also in a salad kind of mood and orders the tempeh, chickpeas, roast veggies, cous cous and mixed lettuce in a vinaigrette dressing salad. I love tempeh - fermented chickpeas that are made into a sort of "meatloaf" and the tempeh here is GREAT. I really love that the salads here are quite substantial - there's more to them then just lettuce and tomato.

Suzy Spoons is at 22 - 24 King Street, Newtown.

Suzy Spoon's Vegetarian Butcher on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cornerstone, Darlington

The cafe space at Darlington's Carriageworks has had a few incarnations since I started working in the area (totally not my fault that cafes keep opening and closing there...just for the record). I'd say so far Cornerstone is my favourite cafe in this space.


The inside of the Carriageworks building is a HUGE industrial type warehouse space. It's cavernous with lots of concrete floors and exposed industrial beamwork revealing its former life as a train workshop.


It amazes me how the crew from this cafe have created what is essentially a welcoming, intimate and cozy cafe - something that reflects the vibe of a comfortable lounge room rather than a hard-edged workshop. There's lots of comfy leather couches, knitted nana blankets and beautiful flowers.


Cornerstone is open for lunch seven days a week and it's a perfect escape from the office. They also do drinks and bar snacks later in the day but it's lunch that interested me.

My first visit is my first Friday back at work after my holiday. I'm feeling BLUE and the post-holiday SADs have hit hard. The only cure is a big BIG burger with hot chips ($12.00). The burger was great - juicy patty and beetroot just like a good Ausise burger should have. The chips were also great - crunchy on the outside and super fluffy on the inside. I was set to eat them all but my uber healthy boss wandered into the cafe half way through my chip-fest and I didn't want to see like a big fat pig by eating them ALL. Next time time.

Or not. Next visit I decide to try the salad of the day ($14.00) changes all the time so you never know what'll be on offer. On this particular day it's a smoked salmon salad with baby spinach, radish (yum) and avacado with a mustard + dill dressing. It's delish - the salmon is fatty and melt-in-the-mouth and and I adore the crunchy radishes.

Of course a gal can't live on salad alone so I ask for a slice of bread on the side which comes out toasted with a splodge of salty butter.

I love this space and I cannot wait to come back and spend more of my lunchbreaks in somebody elses lounge room.

Cornerstone Bar & Food on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 23, 2013

Balcony Garden: Harvest Monday #50

Ah, the telltale sign that there's an unwelcome visitor to the Balcony Garden. Caterpillar Poo.

The sight of caterpillar poo is enough to strike fear into the hearts of most gardeners (it also fills me with RAGE)!


Because where there is poop there are caterpillars.  And where there are caterpillars there are bound to be vegetables with chomp marks all over them.

A quick look over my tomato plants reveals the moment I've been dreading! Budworms...chomping on my precious tomatoes. And added to that I've found a tomato (just one at this stage) with blossom-end rot.

It's the beginning of the end...

Friday, December 20, 2013

Shake Shack, London

In between all the eating we do in London manage to squeeze in a bit of frenzied London sightseeing. The thing with sightseeing though is that it's hungry work...

Is is tragic that one of the food places I was MOST excited about visiting in London was Shake Shack - my beloved Shack Shake that I fell in love with in NYC?  It seems like fate that Shake Shack opened up their first UK restaurant mere moments before I arrived in London.

Located in the bustling Covent Garden area of London I feared that we'd face epic, New York-esque, type queues. Thankfully we didn't...and we even found a seat really easily in The Piazza where Shake Shack is located. I think London knew I was feeling blue and decided to cut me some slack.

Behold the buzzer of future happiness!

And behold the tray of greater happiness! I cannot tell you how happy I was right at this moment...but it was pretty darn happy let me tell you!

We start off with a tray of crinkle cut chips with cheddar cheese sauce (GBP 3.50).  I love "the shack's" crinkle cut fries as they remind me of the rustic style of chips of childhood (that makes me sound really old, but you know what I mean). I actually think these fries were better than those I had in NYC (yes, really)! The chips were more crunchy and I loved the velvety, rich cheese sauce.

For old times sake I just had to have the Cheeseburger (GBP 4.75). The burger comes plain, with just a meat patty and a slice of cheese.  For no extra cost you can choose to add pickles (an absolute must), onion (good, but not necessary), lettuce and tomato (get that salad OFF my cheeseburger I say).  I enjoyed every single mouthful of this burger - especially how soft the bun was.  A soft bun is something we just don't seem to get quite right here in Australia...Mary's is the closet to bun perfection I've had in Sydney.

I bet your wondering if this burger was good as Shake Shack in NYC. It's close...but not quite. But beggars can't be choosers can they?

I'd been hyping up how awesomely amazing Shack Shack was to The Boy so I was VERY relieved to report that he really enjoyed his Smoke Shack (GBP 6.50). It didn't blow his mind, but he loved it enough to order a second one when I went back for a sneaky second burger. The Smoke Shack is a pimped out Cheeseburger topped with British free range Wiltshire cure smoked bacon, chopped cherry peppers and Shack Sauce. I had a taste of this - it was SO good, really flavoursome and the smokey bacon was genius.

For my second burger (aka "dessert") I decided to try the Shack Burger (GBP 5.00) - a Cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato and and Shack Sauce (not sure what Shack Sauce is but it's goood)!  I also added a pickle to my burger because, well...just because.

And this post, my friends, explains why I put on 5kgs in just one month in Europe. French cheese, Rilette of every type, Scottish deep fried Mars Bars...and now Shack Shake in London. 

You'll find Shake Shack at 24, Market Building, The Piazza, Covent Garden, London.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Bixton Village, London

About a 30 minute walk from our Camberwell flat in London is the bustling, gritty, vibrant suburb of Brixton. We decide to head out to the (now) famous Brixton Village to have a look around and grab a bit to eat.

Brixton Village is one part of the Brixton Market which is made of a bunch of street markets and arcades - including a street market on the famous Electric Avenue.

The Brixton Village building is very cool, dating back to the 1930s and it reminds me of the indoor section of the Queen Victoria Markets in Melbourne.

Back in the day the Brixton Village market area consisted of a bunch of market traders; butchers, fish mongers, fruit shops and the like. There are still a few of these around but many of the vacant shops have been taken over by hip food stalls selling everything from dumplings, African food, Caribbean delights and gelato.

Like many areas today it's the "hipster-fication" of areas like Brixton Village that are keep the markets alive, but it's also good to see some of the original traders still up and running.  Time will tell if they eventually get pushed out the building, but the mix as it stands is really fun and interesting.


After wandering around for awhile we decide to find somewhere for an early dinner. We're a little too early for many places but Fish, Wings + Tings - a small cafe that serves up some tasty authentic Caribbean eats - is open. This is a REAL treat for us as it's not the sort of food found in Sydney.

We start off with a can of "Ting", a refreshing carbonated Grapefruit drink that is a little sweet and a little zingy. I guess you could say it's a little bit Tingy...boom tish.

For entrees we order a plate of sticky wings that are topped with a sweet mango salsa. These are SO messy, but luckily they are finger licking-amazing!

You've got to love a place where the chef + owner makes his own hot sauce...and adorns the bottle with a photo of his own face...cute.

The Boy and I both decide to order a Roti Wrap for our mains. These are totally different to the flat Roti bread we have here in Australia and actually look more like a square burrito. When the owner sees that we've totally unwrapped our rotis he comes out from the kitchen, re-wraps our meals and gives us a lesson in how to eat a Caribbean Roti the Carribean way - just like a kebab or burrito it turns out, no knives or forks please.

These were really delicious and very filling. My roti came filled with prawns and veggies like pumpkin and peas, and The Boy opted for a goat filling. A generous dollop of the owners "famous hot sauce" added a great spicy kick to these. One bottle of the sauce seemed to be more hot than the other though.

Fish, Wings + Tings can be found at Atlantic Ave, Brixton - London (UK).

Brixton Village can be found off Coldharbour Lane, Brixton - London (UK).

You Might Also Like:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Free Blog Template by June Lily