The Black Sheep Espresso Baa, Cooly… not just a bunch of random words

black sheep espresso baa
The Black Sheep Espresso Baa…

This place is a little hole-in-the-wall type set up, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it little hobbit nook, sans Saruman, Lord of Isengard, which works for me as I am not eating breakfast in the company of that nasty prick, no thank you.

My kids in the shoe box
My kids in the shoe box

You walk into this little shoe box café expecting to see myriad of little elves working away, toiling over a hot grill to get you your meal, and some how negotiating their way around a coffee machine with some kind of little step ladder arrangement so they can reach the knobs and things so you may have some coffee, too. But then when you do actually wander up to the counter there are full sized, human type characters. There was actually 5 or 6 of them, all working away in a kitchen the size of a small garden shed, or possibly a large TV cabinet and I kid you not, they were all really happy about it too. Staff were singing and being nice and just showing many tell-tale signs of being really happy about their situation.

One of those happy people took our order and then another one of them made us some coffee and I’m pretty sure another one or two of them cooked our breakfast but I didn’t really notice, all the while I was sitting down and using every ounce of my energy trying not to obviously stare in absolute awe of how acceptable it seems to be to wear budgie smugglers into and around the Coolangattata café strip…

Tasty things
Tasty things

We ordered some more coffee. They were doing a good thing with their Toby’s Estate coffee so it seemed like the common sense thing to do.

The kids AKA the pack of ravenous lions, decided they would like to share the “Board for 2” ($39) which stated in its menu description that the staff cannot tell you what exactly is on it because they don’t have that sort of time to spare.

This is the menu pic
This is the menu pic

So the “Board for 2” came out carried only by one person which came as quite the surprise as I was expecting 4 large, scantily clad men in sandles… or a goat cart at the very least. Preconceptions can truly be a bitch, right? Anyway, this thing did have everything. It was like Christmas lunch at Gina Rinehart’s pad… minus the private doctors to keep an eye out for heart attack. It was off the fricking hook displayed in wooden board form; eggs, bacon, house made sausages, lamb bacon, spicy beefy beans, corn fritters, mushrooms, roast tomato, pumpkin and beetroot, condiments and toast. It was impressive… like, Andre the Giant impressive.
Sometimes when I look back on pics and try to think of a witty title my brain just reckons nom, nom, nom
Sometimes when I look back on pics and try to think of a witty title my brain just reckons nom, nom, nom

I had the “Sir-Tory” ($16.5) for myself. The quirky little name they had conjured up for this dish, as with most of the other quirky little monikers they had come up with for their menu items, meant absolutely nothing to me. But that was A-OK because I love it when peeps can have a bit of a chuckle at themselves and what they’re doing… AS LONG AS THEY CAN STILL COME THROUGH WITH THE PRODUCT… which these folks truly did. Slow cooked beef cheek in beer and tomato sauce mixed with grumble beans (once again, no idea what they were on about but I was more than happy to eat them) and then served with poached eggs and chilli jam.

“My kind of breakfast” should be enough information to some that one up. The addition of “very effing happy” should leave no doubt in the minds of the more simple folk amongst us.

By the time we were leaving the happy that was oozing from this place had well an truly infected us so off we went to skip with unicorns and smile at rainbows and shit.

You can find the Black Sheep Espresso Baa here.
black sheep espresso baa

Some places to eat tasty food between Tweed Heads and the Goldcoast

Breakfast at Paddock was awesome. Anywhere that put's a little thought into it (and these folks certainly have) gets my vote every time
Breakfast at Paddock was awesome. Anywhere that put’s a little thought into it (and these folks certainly have) gets my vote every time

Last trip I made to Tweed Heads I pulled into the hospital and left the following day sans tonsils, appetite and with not so much as a good-bye peck on the cheek…

Bitch hospital and it’s quackish, prudish medicine men.

This trip was reserved for venturing up and down the coast between the Goldy (Goldcoast) and Tweed Heads with the sole purpose of eating all of the food with my diary totally clear of visits to the witch doctor and nary a throat sawing quack in sight.

Although a very beautiful piece of coastline it is (getting my Yoda on here) someone back in the day made a pretty big fuck up when they decided that they would slap the NSW/Queensland boarder smack bang in the middle of the place. Like Tweed Heads is here (literally here) and Coolangatta is there (once again literally). That is how far the two cities are apart. Yes it is a city and state boarder.
“That shouldn’t be an issue Graz”, I hear you say. “You’re really starting to get a bit whingy as you get older, mate.”
“Yeah and a little smellier, too.”
“Yeah and I don’t think he’s got much of a grip anymore.”
“I’ll tell you what he does have a good grip on though, his fricking c… o…”

Back to that pretty big fuck up; NSW and Queensland are on two different time zones for the 6 months of the year that daylight savings is in effect. Starting to get my gist yet? Picking up what I’m putting down, homeboy? In Tweed it’s 4:19pm and two steps away in Coolangatta it’s 3:19pm… it’s a fricking head-fuck I call tell you… trying to work out which state you’re in… I have enough trouble just trying to stay sober.

Now, we do have a few favourites up this way but this trip we made a conscious effort to stay far from our comfort zone, remove ourselves from the warm bosom of our mothers and basically just get the fuck into someone else’s place for a change of scene. The Byron-esque nature of the come-and-go restaurant scene and the ever-ready construction teams of city expansion and glorification up here truly lend themselves to a fresh experience and the customer having the opportunity to sample something new on a regular basis.

Dick yes. This was our jam!

But, first up it was time for a haircut and a beard trim – my first for the year… or maybe a year. Normally my shaggy dog looking head is something I really care very little about (FYI, one doesn’t win three “best in show ribbons” in the shaggy dog division by trimming ones shaggy dog look) but all of the hair dressers in this place, I swear to god, and they were moving in on our hotel under the cover of darkness. It was a pincer movement and a damn fine pincer movement at that. I was starting to feel more than just a little self-conscious.

In scenes not dis-similar to the shaving of Brendan Frazer in “Encino Man” or Tom Hanks in “Castaway”, or any other wookie-gets-shaved type scene from an outdated movie, suddenly I was cleansed… I was one of them… I would be pulled close to the bare, lactating breast of society once again… and fuck me I would breast-feed in public!

*How is it that, through the wonder that is the interweb super highway, I could tell millions of people about how we could make the world a better place, or share a beautiful poem or send random messages of kindness and love but instead I’m here telling fourteen people and a small dachshund about the day I got a haircut. Dear good lord*

Our regular couple o’ favourites are (in no particular order except JRs Smokehouse Barbecue is at the top because it’s my favourite);
JRs Smokehouse Barbecue
Lester and Earl
The Blacksheep Esspresso Baa
And we’ll always try in vain for a decent meal a few of the cut -from-the-same-mould, predictably shit-can restaurants from the Shit Restaurant Co. (producers of many quality dodgy restaurant strips and concepts in many popular tourist destinations. I think you would have come across their work some where on your travels)

But, as I mentioned earlier, we were on the search for something new and more importantly, quality. Here’s what we found/were pointed in the direction of by local intel;

Getting my a.m. coffee on at Larder
Getting my a.m. coffee on at Larder
A damn tasty pulled beef sandwich and cracking coffee at Griffith Street Larder
A damn tasty pulled beef sandwich and cracking coffee at Griffith Street Larder

Griffith Street Larder
• Great coffee, check
• Perfectly poached eggs, check
• Kickass sandwiches and salad bowls available at breakfast, check

Shaggy watching over the hot sauces
Shaggy watching over the hot sauces
Jamin' a bit of everything from Jamroc into our faces
Jamin’ a bit of everything from Jamroc into our faces
Kick-ass goat curry with red bean rice... just like I imagined it would taste
Kick-ass goat curry with red bean rice… just like I imagined it would taste

Jamroc
• Boondocks shopping center car park setting, check
• Moist and delicious grilled chicken and goat curry, check
• Heaps of hot sauce for the table, check
• Feed the family for a 50 bag of the finest Jamaican “green backs”, check

Breakfast at Poboy Cajun and Creole. The farmers breakfast (right) with oven roasted chicken breast, tomatoes, bacon and mornay sauce had me looking for a suitable park bench to nap on
Breakfast at Poboy Cajun and Creole. The farmers breakfast (right) with oven roasted chicken breast, tomatoes, bacon and mornay sauce had me looking for a suitable park bench to nap on
Dinner at Poboy was gumbo, jambalaya, poboy and more of the generous serves and affordable prices
Dinner at Poboy was gumbo, jambalaya, poboy and more of the generous serves and affordable prices

Poboy Cajun and Creole
• Cheap Creole and Cajun cooking, check
• Massive serves, check
• And insight as to why America is on the obesity-diabetic radar, check

Good burgers, crisp onion rings and fries, tasty dipping sauces and quick service is a winning recipe at Betty's Burgers
Good burgers, crisp onion rings and fries, tasty dipping sauces and quick service is a winning recipe at Betty’s Burgers
Simple and delicious
Simple and delicious

Betty’s Burgers
• Tasty burgers and sides that don’t cost your left arm, check
• Fast service, check
• A recipe that many other gourmet burger bars could learn a thing or two from, check

A pretty little sign and shit
A pretty little sign and shit
The fricking Philly cheese steak roll with onions, capsicum, mushrooms and jalapeños was off the hook
The fricking Philly cheese steak roll with onions, capsicum, mushrooms and jalapeños was off the hook
This pork, pistachio and apple sausage rolls was one of the best
This pork, pistachio and apple sausage rolls was one of the best

Paddock Bakery
• Massive wood fired oven and baking area enclosed with glass so it kinda like Seaworld and you can watch all of the orcas err, bakers and chefs at play… or work, check
• Great breads, pastries and breakfast in general, check
• Awesome little mythical country setting that quite probably actually has a waterfall that flows sweet, sweet lemonade, one street back from Goldcoast Highway, check

Burgster
• Closed Monday, check
• Sad face, check
• I will be back, check (Burgster was very high on my list, so you can imagine if you dare my disappointment when I was sussing their Facey page only to realise it had those dreaded words “closed today’. I almost had a tear but held it back enough for me to put it down to a high pollen count and me being a weak breed in general. It’s Monday – I know heaps of places do it (heck, I own a restaurant and even that bad boy is closed Monday), I do not hold that against anyone I was just real keen to give it a bash… next time for sure.)

• Weird checking of ones self, check

Go to these places and let your face enjoy the good times!

Breakfast at a Cafe named Pablo, Newfarm, Brisbane

IMG_9239
This is definitely about Pablo, but first we have a short detour a grab ourselves a coffee at Death Before Decaf – a little 24hr take away coffee joint just down the road. This place is defo worth a look on your way to breakfast… a little bit soup nazi from Seinfeld and a little bit punk rockabilly and a lot caffeinated.

I'd go there for the name and graphic alone...
I’d go there for the name and graphic alone…

…and then it was onto Pablo.

Pablo is normally a Hollywood name for a stereotypical Mexican guy with a moustache and a big hat, but today it is also the name of a restaurant in Brisbane’s Newfarm. Mad.

This place was fully pumping. Just like the pump station at a sewerage treatment plant in Mumbai – seriously effing pumping. People are flowing from its doors out onto the street. It seems that long ago the gentle stream turned into a raging river but, as if they are in cohorts with the man above (or possibly below) they do not seem worried, they do not faulter, it doesn’t seem to make a difference to the service times at all.

This is the back door. You will probably go in the front door
This is the back door. You will probably go in the front door

After a short wait we are taken to a table right next to “the pass” (the bench/shelf that bridges the worlds between front and back of house, and is where the food gets passed from the kitchen to the server), which is coincidentally one of my favourite seats in a restaurant… front row… where the action is at.

We order coffee and it arrives before I have even had a chance to thank the waitress for taking my order. I don’t know what the fuck black magic was in play here – some kind of Rick Moranis in Ghostbusters other world shit for sure – but I was grateful for my morning caffeinated beverage so I questioned not how it cometh, but instead ordered another… and a fresh juice to really check their styles. When the juice hit the table quicker than the coffee I knew something was amiss… there was surely a warlock afoot and we would need to keep our wits about us today that is for sure…

Too many options for me here
Too many options for me here

Sometimes I get a little afraid when I see a menu that has many options that I would be happy to try to break my nightly fast. But, as I am not a cow and I have only one stomach, I need to choose only one item that I will eat. This causes issues that I am sure to eventually over-come, but this day I was experiencing said too-much-good-shit-to-choose-from menu and also said decision making issues that came with it…

I finally decided on the beef and bean chilli (pulled slow cooked beef cheek, bacon, chorizo, speck and black beans with a fried egg, house made corn bread, guacamole and tomato salad, $18) but only because Seba (#1 oldest son) had agreed that he would get the roasted lamb special (slow roasted lamb, pumpkin, beetroot puree, labne, herb salad, fried egg and damper, $18) so we may share. Jen and Obi ordered some stuff but as they were sitting on the opposite side of the table they may as well have been characters living in a magical world in a J.K. Rowling novel because I really cared not for what they may be eating for breakfast and there was no way on god’s green Earth they would be getting a go on mine.

Beef and beans, Genovese coffee and great service made me very happy
Beef and beans, Genovese coffee and great service made me very happy

Our food was delivered in spectacular time, considering (or even not considering) the still unabated flood waters that are the crowds that a good, solid performer in the restaurant industry will command… these guys were the muther fucking Charlie Chaplin of the restaurant scene right now.

We ate, we drank and we were very happy.

The beef and beans number was fantastic; a lot of shredded meat with a few beans, a tasty tasty sauce, great guac and salsa, a perfect fried egg, all the goods. One thing though, the beans were completely covering the corn bread, smothering it’s creativity and not letting it really shine like it could’ve. This is one occasion where a few inches really could’ve made a huge difference – just getting that corn bread a little to the side of the plate and letting it be loved would’ve done it for me.

Oh so good
Oh so good

The lamb was another cracker although, if I’m totally honest, I didn’t really get too much of it into my belly as I was a little pre-occupied with the bean number and Seba appeared to be enjoying plenty fine by himself so that was OK with me.

This was a truly cracking breakfast. If I was wearing knickers I would’ve be happy to throw them to the chef in a display of gratitude, but alas I was not, so it was our verbal thanks that would need to gratify him and her today.

Nice job Pablo.

Pablo, 893 Brunswick St, Newfarm

Cheesy ham and corn fritters – using your Christmas leftovers…

ham, corn and cheese fritters
This is me bringing double meaning to a post (although it is questionable that any post that I have written would have even single meaning to start off with…) I did last year on using leftovers. Not only am I using re-using yesterday’s food, I am also re-using last year’s post, just with a couple of changes so I don’t look like a complete lazy bastard. Last year it was cheesy ham, cheese and potato cakes (and you can suss that recipe right here) and this year it’s going to be cheesy ham and corn fritters.

Genius.

Premium time and resource management or just straight up slackness.

I care not.

I am regurgitating this nice little Christmas leftover recipe that I wrote last year and cleverly disguising it as me doing you a favor – playing on your fears of not being organized for the post-apocalyptic, neo-consumerist, pre Christmas rush. Yes, I certainly did not do three years of a psychology degree but mother effer I have got your number!

Make these fritters with leftover Christmas ham, or just go and buy some good ham specifically for the task as these things are damn well worth it! Salty-smoky ham, oozy cheese, crunchy-poppy sweet corn and glutinous floury goodness… you know you want that.

Mix that up
Mix that up

4-5 minutes each side going to be happy times for all
4-5 minutes each side going to be happy times for all

...and then onto the flairiest "holiday house platter" I could lay my hands onto and hit with my home made tomato ketchup
…and then onto the flairiest “holiday house platter” I could lay my hands onto and hit with my home made tomato ketchup

CHEESY HAM & CORN FRITTERS (serves 4)

1-2 cups diced Christmas ham
1 cup grated Wensleydale or good cheddar or something that looks like cheese
½ whatever onion, small dice
1 cup of sweetcorn, kernals removed (roughly 1 cup of kernals)
1 cup self raising flour
1 tablespoon of your favourite mustard
A splash or two of hot sauce
2 eggs
¼ cup milk
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying

• Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly
• Check seasoning
• Heat a good splash of oil in a pan over medium heat. Add a heaped dessert spoon of fritter mix per portion and keep going until your pan is full but still has enough room for a finger width or so of space between each fritter, and fry for 4-5 minutes each side or until golden brown and cooked (break one open to check if they’re cooked through)
• Keep the first batch warm in a 100C oven whie you cook the second batch if you want your food hot
• These can be served with eggs, avocado and chutney for breakfast, a salad and some salsa for lunch or dinner, or tomato sauce (ketchup) for a late night a-little-bit-pissed-and-really-don’t-give-a-fuck snack
• Rocking

Another rant about home made baked beans

baked beans
I know I have waxed the lyrical, stood atop my soap box spruked about and just down right pleaded with you to make your own baked beans. They are a totally different world of awesome. If you do not believe me and choose a path of abstinence from making your own beans then there is nothing more I can do to help you. You are on your own now child.

There are several rules when making top notch baked beans;

1. Get some smoked pork in there; Good baked beans owe a debt of gratitude to a good ham bone or smoked sausage, it just improves the flavour of these little legumes ten fold. Unless you are vegetarian or one of the other groups of people out there who are wrong about smoked pork. Except Muslims… I got no beef with them… wait, no pork I should say… beef should be A.O.K
2. Bake the beans; They are called baked beans for a reason. They can not get the same oven-generated crusty bits when cooked on the stove top and so lack a little extra depth of flavour (I’m sorry you had to read those words. I should definitely have prefixed them with a large, illuminated sign that read “wanker alert”). Also, they are more prone to sticking and burning with the direct heat from the burner. Pretty shit time all round actually…
3. Read points 1 and 2 again before you move on

This recipe is not one of those times where you have to follow it to the letter. Use different beans if you want, different herbs or whatever you got. As long as you have a bit of good smoked or cured pork product in there (you can even use salami as the meat product if you want) I garantee, yes guarantee, you will be a happy camper. Unless of course you are actually camping but hate the outdoors, in which case I can guarantee you will not be a happy camper. I’ve really got to get my story straight somewhere along the line.

From this...
From this…

To this...
To this…

To this... served up with morcilla, cottage cheese, egg and rocket, and the remainder portioned and frozen down behind the postman :)
To this… served up with morcilla, cottage cheese, egg and rocket, and the remainder portioned and frozen down behind the postman 🙂

BAKED BEANS with SMOKED PORK

3x 400g tins canellini or navy beans
2x 400g tins crushed tomatoes
300-400g ham bone or ham hock or some smoked sausage eg.chorizo
1 brown onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano or thyme, or a mix of both, or whatever herbs you like (you’ll work your favourite combo in time I’m sure)
Some kind of chilli. I had 1 fresh long green chilli but a good pinch of dried chilli flakes or a splash of hot sauce would do the trick, and a fresh jalepeno would be really good
A splash of BBQ or worcestshire sauce if you’re feeling it
Eggs (cooked), toasted sourdough, cottage cheese (or feta or pecorino), fresh herbs and olive oil are always good for that final “yeah I’m boss at this shit” flourish to serve
• Sweat off ham or sausage (hmmm, sweaty sausage. Tastes heaps better then it sounds), onion and spices
• Add beans and tomato, cook in 170C oven for 1 hour (possibly a little longer if you are using ham hock as it will need a little time to soften up), stirring a couple of times
• Check seasoning
• Serve with all the stuff it says up there
• I like to make a batch that is double to triple the size of this recipe so I can freeze it down in portions in the boxed icey tundra that is my freezer, right behind the postman… er, let’s just pretend you didn’t read that. He was a nasty prick though… had it coming…

Hangover breakfast… and lunch

hangover lunch
It’s been a bit touch and go for the old Grazza McFilthy Mouth today.

The precursor to this story if I may…

Yesterday I was paid a visit by an old friend and fellow chef who, for the purpose of this anecdote, shall be known as Toodles (mostly because that is his name). We proceeded to dive face first into a heap of beer, adding authenticity and conviction to the age old adage “chef’s really should not drink together”.

Oh, we did indeed drink together. I even invited a few more fellow chefs to come and join us on the verandah as if that was going to douse the flames of our drunkenness a little. Alas it appeared they had not received that memo and indeed proceeded to attempt to quell the fire that was our drunkenness with what could’ve only be described as regular house hold diesel fuel AKA. Their own drunkenness.

That same inebriation made me smile at the time but I must confess today has been a bit of a struggle. I have not even been able to trust myself with what I would normally consider the more simple of my daily tasks. Holding a conversation, pulling together a coherent sentence, brushing my teeth and simple grade 2 mathematics were all just beyond my grasp today.

I got through it with the help of some food. A lot of food.

This is what I reckon…

The sardines in the bacon fat ruled
The sardines in the bacon fat ruled

There was heaps of other good shit too
There was heaps of other good shit too
So much of this went into my face
So much of this went into my face

Nom nom nom
Nom nom nom

Breakfast consisted of grilled bacon, sardines that had been marinated in rosemary, olive oil and a splash of vinegar and then grilled in the bacon fat, my nana Rose’s potato cakes, toad in the hole (out here that’s what we call the bread with the hole cut in it and then fried with an egg cracked in the hole), fresh tomato and herb salad and coffee. A heap of coffee…
Chips
Chips

Chips loaded with good things
Chips loaded with good things

Lunch was home made mixed potato chips covered with a layer of beef chilli that spent a couple of hours in the smoker last night, then some crumbled feta and a bit of grated honky dory fridge cheese (this is whatever gratable cheese you have in the fridge).
Out the the grill and into my belly
Out the the grill and into my belly

Under the grill (broiler) for a few minutes until golden brown and then anointed with jalapeño relish, natural yoghurt and sriracha hot sauce. Straight the heck into my face hole.
So damn good
So damn good

This really is the sort of food you can only truly appreciate like it deserves to be appreciated when you are feeling the wrath of the decisions your drunken self made the previous evening.

I make me good now.