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

Breakfast at a Cafe named Pablo, Newfarm, Brisbane

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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

Paul’s Caul… The lucky country

For all those playing at home, I don’t have red hair and a beard and I’m not G-bags Mcfilthy mouth… no, I am not the father of this blog, I’m perhaps best described as this blogs estranged brother that likes to drop by unannounced and expects every thing that’s great about writing a blog whilst having no responsibility at all… yes that is me in a delicious nut shell, I’m simply a man called Paul who has a shit load to say about food and anything even slightly related to it, like travel, drinking and eating of said food.

I’m a chef that has been cooking for overs 20 years all over the place and I have been extremely fortunate to have known G-bags for all of that time. We share a love of food, swearing and most importantly telling the whole fucking world about it, so a blog seemed inevitable. I’m honoured he allows my scribbling’s to be part of foodisthebestshitever and I hope you enjoy them just as much as we love bacon, but lets face it that’s asking quite a lot. P

Paul is the one on the left. On the right is his lovely now fiancee, Lauren
Paul is the one on the left. On the right is his lovely now fiancee, Lauren

Bonjour my friends, I am alive and well living the European dream actually on a train on our way to Prague, my only excuse for lack of writing is pure laziness mixed with equal parts of cheese and pork pies. But with that delicious recipe comes some serious side effects, yes fellow foodies let it be known that cheese and pork products of pretty much any kind contain stuff that makes your belly big, its like magic and not the good magic that pulls fucking rabbits from hats, no on the contrary the fat bastard rabbit would in this case be stuck in the hat.

But this isn’t to say I’m so massive that I could no longer use a keyboard because of my now swollen fingers, not at all it just means that I have to run many km’s everyday just to keep the scales of my existence level (deep shit right there). This has been made extremely easy as I’ve been living in a kind of fairy-tale land in a walled estate with a huge stately hall in which we were living in a tower, so running around said estate was not a hard sell at all.

Pauly in heaven in Amsterdam
Pauly in heaven in Amsterdam

But after now living in France and the UK for the last year and in-between travelling to a ridiculous amount of other countries, I have decided that eating well over here seems a lot harder then when in Australia. Now don’t get me wrong we have eaten some incredible food in every country we have been, but in general the meat to veg ratio is never as low as when in Australia. For example we have just spent the last few days in Berlin and the food was so good, Jagarscnitzel, spatzle, flamchuken the list goes on and on, their bread is top notch but did we see any green on a plate of food? Did we fuck!

It must be against the law to serve veg unless they just see us coming dressed like the super tourist I become once travelling, dressed like a mixture of someone about to climb Everest and a member of the Taliban, they save all of the healthy stuff for the local and leave us slowly dyeing as we gobble down meat in cream sauces served with potato dumpling to fulfil the stodge factor. And before any German readers start to get all high and mighty about me pigeon holing an entire nations culinary delights of the back of a few days eating, I freely admit I may of just walked into the wrong places but its not just Germany, France is very much the same, even salads seem to be filled with so many non healthy ingredients or dressing that you truly find it hard to eat well when travelling. Amsterdam is a little better as was Belgium lots more veg but still nothing like the extensive array of goodness on offer in Australia cafes and restaurants.

Jagarscnitzel with spatzle and mushroom sauce
Jagarscnitzel with spatzle and mushroom sauce

I must say Spain is an exception and tapas lends itself to good healthy eating and we are never disappointed when dining in Española, markets are always filled with delicious fresh veges and fruit and the array of different cuisines is spectacular, even their coffee is acceptable in places.

Now lets get started on England, land of delicious food that makes me so happy as its what I grew up on, but lets not forget that I was one fat little fucker and I now know why… they class potato crisps as veg! That should be explanation enough but I will go on, I find the comparison to America and England getting a little closer as the years goes on, I was freaked out by the choice of sides offered when in America but its now pretty much the same now in England, if you order for instance a pie in an Australian café you may get the choice of chips or salad with it which in my opinion is a good thing, as I like to play the balance game of a little bad and a little good… now if you were to order a pie in England you would firstly have to choose which form of potato you would like with it. Chips, mash or jacket filled with cheese, then it would be the green component, pies are revered in England but generally served in the mushy form but can be ordered garden style (which must mean over cooked and grey) if you were to ask for a side salad instead of the usual you may be lucky enough to get a hospitable chef that will rack his culinary repertoire to find 1 piece of iceberg topped with 1 slice of cucumber and 1 slice of tomato, that its! So not to surprisingly you end up ordering chips because they are fucking delicious and when in Rome.

Vegetables
Vegetables

I want to clarify that have found exceptions to the rule everywhere we go but it is very hard work, but what we miss the most out of all the meals each day is a bloody good breakfast… no where and I mean NO WHERE does breaky like Australia, plates full of spinach, avocado, bacon, ricotta, sourdoughs, nice honeys and coffee yes coffee lets talk about coffee shall we….

How the fuck doesn’t the entire world know about good coffee? Time after time I get excited ordering my favourite beverage in the world and after finally working out what a ‘long mac topped up’ is in whichever country we are, I then prepare myself for impending misery mixed with extremely hot badly frothed milk, and with a few exceptions I’m never let down… time after time the coffee has no taste and the milk is a non event, quite often its served in one of those ridiculous glasses with a handle too low down which fucks with its centre of gravity, then one sip in and the creaminess disappears and I’m let with a murky cup of brown shit. How can this be? How did Australia become the world leader in coffee preparation? I need to know, and more importantly more Australian Barista’s need to start travelling now.

So we really do miss Australia and all of the incredible chefs and barista’s that it holds, but as it may be quite some time before we come back I just want to let it be known Europe that I’ve noticed what you’re up too and we will be keeping an eye on your progress, but in the meantime sort your shit out and make a decent coffee for the love of god.

Punch and Daisy and Scratch Patisserie – two of Mullumbimby’s finest

punch and daisy mullumbimby
I’m pretty sure Mullumbimby is going to be the next big thing in the Northern Rivers.

Yeah, pretty bold statement eh. Well I’m a pretty bold kind of guy – I’m overly confident in myself and I have a little voice in my head that tells me it is OK to fling aspersions about the place as if they are based on scientific studies conducted in a Nordic country resulting in wholly factual findings. Also, my ability to construct a sentence without grammatical errors is knocking on the door of a big fat zero.

Your smart brains may be telling you right now that there is a high chance I have visited this little hinterland beauty recently… listen to your smart brains my friend, for they are correct.

I should’ve got a pic of the road into town for you because it is damn well picturesque. It has a backdrop of heaps of pretty things like sky and lush hills and shit, of which the queen must be Mt Chincogan. If Mt Chincogan is the queen, then a little further north is Mt Warning, her king. So damn good at being brilliantly regal it would be the king that all the other kings came to for advice on how to be more awesome and king-ish. It’s just damn pretty. As I did not get a picture of the road into town I can only offer you this;

Not sure where this photo came from...
Not sure where this photo came from…

Back to explaining that opening sentence.

Apart from the picture perfect, neo-realist painting that is the back drop to the town, we found a couple of cracking new(ish) joints that, if they gather enough support, will pave the way for the new breed of Mullum (that’s what we call it for short) eateries with an emphasis on making things that are good and tasty and are just begging to get the hell into your face and give your taste buds a damn good seeing to. In fact, if the things that these guys are making were prostitutes they would be handing back your fifties, getting down on their hands and knees and literally begging you to let them give you the deluxe package upgrade… rubber ducky included.

I literally have no idea what I am talking about anymore.

Ah yes, eating in Mullum.

A cute little courtyard at Punch and Daisy
A cute little courtyard at Punch and Daisy

First port of call was “Punch and Daisy”.
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Oh dear good lord. This is the exact way I wanted my breakfast to be. I had grilled local chorizo with a free-range fried egg (not my bad grammar for a change), marinated peppers and shaved manchego on organic caraway rye-sourdough (16.0) with a side of twice smoked local bacon (4.0) and that is what it was. The flavours were everything I expected plus more. It was truly a game changing breakfast – the bar has been raised, the breakfast-o-meter recalibrated and my taste buds well and truly gratified.
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Jennee opted for the truffled mushrooms with Jamon Serrano, rocket, chilli and shaved pecorino on organic caraway rye-sourdough (16.0), which was quite predictable of her I must say. But the meal was nothing like predictable at all. For one, it wasn’t an eleven letter word and two, it was quite simply damn awesome in a way the outshone any predictable outcome. Creamy mushrooms, pecorino (which I love, love, love), jamon… it was a great. It could’ve done with a little more truffliness, but it was still damn fine.
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We had coffee which was delivered in little paper cups with an effing cool, hand-stamped picture of what I think was Punch, from the Punch and Judy thing that happened in the olden days, with a daisy in his mouth. The coffee that was inside the cups was tasty tasty me likey, but even without the coffee, they were damn cool cups.

Finished. Done. Say good bye and then we’re off. Just like Dorothy we followed the yellow brick road (which is in fact an actual road which led onto a paved foot path… which is grey) to the opposite side of the street and down a little arcade to the door of Scratch Patisserie.

Scratch have been about for a while, doing wholesale and markets, but have recently opened a retail shop across the arcade from their bakery.

Pastry chef Mark Conroy looking photogenic as hell in front of a window of tasty treats
Pastry chef Mark Conroy looking photogenic as hell in front of a window of tasty treats

These folks know pastries. I was buying these croissants five years ago because they were simply the best croissants available in the area… and quite frankly they still are.

The brownie is already in our bellies
The brownie is already in our bellies

I needed a couple of samples to really get the gist of what was going on here and configure an informed opinion for this review, so it would be a macadamia croissant, a pan au raisin and a gluten free brownie (all 4.5 each I think). Croissants made with real butter are hard to find in these here parts, and these did not disappoint. I wish I had handed over a few more of the Queen’s dollars to bring armfuls of pastries home but I did not so, on the upside, a new belt will not need to be purchased this week.

If I had some kind of emoji app I would be putting up all sorts of punchy fist, a-one hand, thumbs up, happy face shit all in your face, but I don’t so I will just say this; do your taste buds a favour next time you are in or around Mullum and try these joints out. Wait, I have a better idea. Get in your car now right now and drive the hell out there purely to treat your taste buds to the enjoyment of delicious food. Go now.

Liz McGuiness at the Greenhouse

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Our roving reviewer, Liz McGuiness, visits Greenhouse, Perth.

This morning I’m joining the hip young things of Perth for breakfast. Our eatery of choice is Greenhouse. I was pleasantly surprised by the view through the window as I approached and even more surprised by a keg of free compost and a sign inviting customers to take some home for their garden! Inside, my inner hipster rejoiced, for there was repurposed goodness galore!! Light bulbs hung suspended from the bare wood ceiling, embraced by rolls of square holed fencing wire – silent sentinels watching over us as we reviewed our breakfast choices. The menu for both food and drink lay bare the café’s values and the organic theme lay waste to any thoughts of chemical infested fake hollandaise sauce.

I ordered an organic cappuccino – there is no fat free or skim milk option here – just wholesome hipster goodness.

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As I truly believe the test of a good breakfast kitchen is the quality of it’s poached eggs, I ordered eggs (organic of course) poached at 62 degrees on organic sourdough toast.

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Now call me an everyday Australian, but I’ve never partaken of 62 degree poached eggs before, I was intrigued. Before I describe what came out, let me take you dear reader, on a little wander down Lizzie lane. Until I met my husband 19 years ago, I could not stand having runny eggs and when one was delivered to my plate, it would fill me with such dread that I found it distressing to eat. Unless it was on toast, then I could mop up the mess with the last of my soggy bread. So I would order my eggs to be harder than a gunner’s guitar riff. Fortunately, the ghost of Barney past introduced me to the pleasures of runny eggs and the enjoyment that could be had from eating them. So, you’ll appreciate that had it been 19 years ago, I would never had even attempted to eat the delight that came out on my plate this morning.

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Perched upon a delicious looking piece of sourdough, were two divinely poached eggs. Kudos to the chef because he had managed to contain the very essence of the egg yolk, suspended in translucent white. The taste was exquisite silk on silk and surprisingly, despite it’s seemingly frail appearance, the entire egg white held its integrity while I devoured it. The coffee was so sublime, I had another cup before I plunged outside to join the other lemmings as we trudged our way to work. But secretly, I was smiling inside, for I had escaped the rat race for just a moment, and savoured a real culinary breakfast treat.

Paul’s Caul… Same words, different melody

Breakfast Bali stylee
Breakfast Bali stylee

Same words…. Different melody

We really do get stuck in our ways. It seems that most western societies are comfortable with consistency. Some might even say we’re unimaginative… I’m torn as for the most part; I love what I have loved for too many years to mention, then every now and again I love something completely different…

What am I talking about?

Jam is actually what I’m talking about, but jam could be a metaphor for any number of common rituals in the food world or any other area of our life.

This was brought to my attention the last few morning as we where having breakfast in our Balinese paradise, we ordered fruit platters, juices, scrambled and poached eggs and croissants as well as coffee/tea… I know this isn’t at all Balinese and we are fine with that as it was a conversation we had and both decided prawns and chicken don’t belong in our breakfast repertoire.

First to arrive was the coffee and the old joke about “this coffee tastes like mud” followed by the answer “funny it was ground this morning” came to mind, but I’ve come to expect that of hotel coffee world wide…

Then my juice arrived and it was juice plain and simple, Lauren had opted for a fruit platter instead and it was brilliant, they hadn’t reinvented the wheel but it was plated in a manner unlike us western folk plate it, it was cut with care and detail and its minimalistic approach really worked…

Next to join the party at the table where our croissants, you may or may not know this but I effing love these buttery crescents of French brilliance, and I’m in the most part happy when they are escorted by their friends Mr. Butter and Mrs. Jam (I’m also not apposed to them being stuffed with bacon, ham, cheese, avocado, spinach etc.) so 9/10 times you can bet that you will receive strawberry or raspberry jam with your pastries/toast at any breakfast anywhere in the English speaking world… but not today I was treated to a magnificent papaya jam and an equally triumphant pineapple jam, it was so good but was so far removed from the norm that I felt mischievous eating it. Well done Katut, you are a preserve wizard…

This brings us to the egg component of the breakfast, which was as usual, a choice between poached, scrambled or fried… I as you should know by now choose poached and Lauren went for her fave – scrambled, both egg styles were executed brilliantly but what made us laugh was the fact that we thought we were just receiving eggs on toast, yet when they arrived they were garnished (yes garnished) with bacon, ham, sausage and tomato… YES a pig three ways two days in a row… wow that sounds nasty, a swine ménage a trois of sorts… no just three kinds of pig on my plate, what a lovely surprise to finish a very interesting take on an average western style breakfast, they call it American, but as far as I can tell there wasn’t enough food to feed an American and way to much fresh produce.