Almond Bar’s cosy interior. Photo: Carol Salloum
I have traditional Middle Eastern mezze in my fridge, courtesy of Almond Bar, pre-prepared and ready to be popped in the oven and on to a hot grill plate and consumed possibly with a home-made mint lemonade later this afternoon.
These small dishes — koush mehshi (stuffed grey zucchini), lamb kafta, and irresistibly sweet and florally fragrant baklawa — are the product of a cooking class i participated in at Almond Bar as part of the Crave International Food Festival.
For the uninitiated, Almond Bar is a treasure of the Sydney restaurant scene. It’s a Syrian family run affair located in Darlinghurst. This cosy narrow restaurant, with a beautiful engraved wood wall, delights customers with family recipes and wholehearted hospitality.
Having eaten at Almond Bar several times, i jumped at the chance to squirrel away some of the culinary secrets of the Salloum family. And while the cooking class only ran during this month’s Crave festival, the lamb kafta and baklawa are on the daily menu, while koush mehshi is likely to return when grey zucchini season is back in full swing.
In fact, the whole menu is abundantly enticing and i’m already factoring in a return for the traditional Middle Eastern breakfast menu they offer on the first Sunday of every month. Continue reading
Nino Zoccali’s sweet pea ravioli with gorgonzola cream & burnt butter
A platter of large, square ravioli on a table of seven as part a shared meal is dangerous business, particularly if it’s Nino Zoccali’s ravioli. Zoccali’s sweet pea ravioli with gorgonzola cream and burnt butter was part of a shared Italian feast at the Crave Sydney International Food Festival gala dinner. We each got one piece of ravioli: a silken pocket that ebbed on the tongue, secreting the subtlest hint of fresh pea that was coddled in a just rich enough gorgonzola cream sauce. Smack your lips, and it was gone. The platter with two remaining squares sat on the table between myself and my neighbour. With no pretence of table etiquette — we couldn’t offer them around, what if they were accepted? — we each went in for one of the two remaining parcels. Blink your eye, and they were gone. Continue reading
Curried lamb and potato pie at the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel. Photo: Jessamyn McLachlan
What’s the secret of a good pie? I’ve asked myself that question when my pastry bases have turned out soggy, lids have been lacklustre, and the filling has lacked oomph. With a number of Sydney pubs participating in the Crave Sydney’s International Food Festival’s Good Pub Grub menu — which consists of pie and a schooner of Coopers Pale Ale for $20 — i decided to take my question to the experts. Continue reading
Forager and naturalist Diego Bonetto is leading Foraging in the City tours during Crave Sydney
If you fancy yourself as a forager but don’t know a good edible plant from a bad one, let Diego Bonetto take you under his wild wing. Bonetto is hosting the Foraging in the City tour along the Cooks River in Western Sydney as part of Crave Sydney International Food Festival. The two-hour tour starts at Tempe railway station and covers a small loop of the river. Along the way, Bonetto points out weeds that are edible, and in many cases medicinal. Continue reading
Italian cuisine was celebrated at Crave Sydney’s gala dinner
What’s your favourite cuisine? When you’re considered a foodie (whether you like the term or not) you get asked that question a lot.
A friend asked me this very thing a few days ago. “Thai,” i replied without hesitation. “Then probably Indian.” We started discussing the merits of various cuisines — Vietnamese, Peruvian, Ethiopian. About 10 minutes into the conversation Italian food was mentioned.
We paused for thought, then agreed that Italian was actually one of our favourites, though we had overlooked it in our enthusiasm over the plethora of cuisines available on our Australian doorstep. Continue reading