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!

Stuffing a bird…

bacon and cranberry christmas stuffing
Are you sorted for Christmas? Or are you one of the peeps who starts their Christmas hustle now? Nothing like a good Christmas Eve scurry to really get those ventricles moving in the morning, eh. You hit the local shopping square (AKA hell) and quickly notice the musty aroma of anxiety and defeat fills the room, illuminated by the deadly fluorescent lights, each one powered by a million trapped Christmas fairies, as you fight for possession of the last toy that wasn’t even cool when it was released 2 years ago. But you gotta go home with something right? Right?

I’m sure it’s not that bad… or maybe it is.

Maybe just grab a bird.

Sometimes, when you bring a bird home, don’t you just want to stuff her juicy crevice and possibly even rub her breasts with oil so they glisten in the kitchen light… yeah I said kitchen light… yeah I’m talking about stuffing your favourite bird this Christmas. What did you think I was talking about? Man, I really don’t get you guys sometimes…

This is a simple stuffing, it’s got like 6 ingredients or something similar, and it is also very tasty too – something I generally consider to be pretty important with food… tastiness and simplicity.

It is a stuffing for your chicken, duck, goose, quail, guinea fowl, emu, snake or heaven forbid, turkey. As I have said previously I am not a fan of turkey. In fact, if turkey was playing a game of sport against my children I feel I may heckle it as it approached the sports field a la one of those over-competitive, angry parents who every one just stares at because they are just being a total dick… that’s what turkey might do to me… like jokes about disabled people or ethnic minorities, I just find them to be totally tasteless. Unlike this stuffing which I find to be full of taste, jam packed with taste if you will and it has a texture that is really different to that of soggy cardboard, so in summary I guess I could simply say that this stuffing is totally different to commercial stuffing packet mixes.

It is good.

Give it a bash.

Make some fresh bread crumbs... it's pretty easy
Make some fresh bread crumbs… it’s pretty easy
Mix it all up
Mix it all up
Stuff it in there. Like, really stuff it in there
Stuff it in there. Like, really stuff it in there
Sexy, juicy, happy times
Sexy, juicy, happy times

CHRISTMAS STUFFING WITH BACON AND CRANBERRIES

2 cups fresh bread crumbs… sour dough or ciabatta is great
2-3 rashers bacon, sliced
½ onion, small dice
1 clove garlic, crushed
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme (a good pinch of dried thyme will do the trick, but the fresh stuff works better I reckon)
½ cup dried cranberries
a splash of white wine (just enough to moisten the stuffing)
salt and pepper

• Sauté bacon, onions and garlic until soft
• Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly
• Stuff it into something that deserves it
• Have a great Christmas
• Remember we love you x

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

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.

A steak sandwich just so I get to use my homemade tomato sauce

Sweet, sweet steak sandwichy goodness. Stab it with a knife so you look like a boss
Sweet, sweet steak sandwichy goodness. Stab it with a knife so you look like a boss… and eat it with beer

As I stated in the title of this piece, this steak sandwich happened to come into my possession purely for the purpose of carrying my home made tomato sauce to my face. I could’ve just drank it but, quite frankly, that shit just looks plain wrong.

Make a steak sandwich exactly like you would make a steak sandwich. I had mine with a big, fat-as-your-middle-aged-ass rump steak, coleslaw (you surely know how to make that by now if you’re into this blog), slightly pickled (just like me) grated beetroot (I’m pretty sure you’ve got that sorted too), cheese and home made tomato sauce… I guess it would be pretty average if the whole purpose of this post was to do something with the tomato sauce and I didn’t even use it. I put all of that between a couple of pieces of grilled sour dough bread just so I could call this sandwich a sandwich. Yeah, it’s amazing what a man will do to achieve a result these days…

The thing that should be noted right now is the fact that this is all about the tomato sauce/ketchup/whatever. This is something that I have been working on for a few years now… just like my belly… and my carnie collection (both living and dried)… and my ability to amuse passers by with my boyish wit and charm… Seriously though, home made tomato sauce has been perplexing me for years. It had an actual Grazza proof hex on it that prevented me from ever knowing its ways. The recipe for tomato sauce was hidden from my eyes, deep with-in a gypsy’s booty chest, buried on a desert island full of hippies, right underneath the oldest naked hippy girl with the longest arm hair. As I said; a place where I would never be able to find it… until now. That’s right. I have cracked my seven year itch and now have the ability to make kick-ass tomato sauce. In your face seven year itch bitch! And heed these words that are shared with you via my finger and the keys on my laptop and the interweb super highway; it is not a recipe that is easy for me to give up, but… no use taking the thing to the effing grave with me. It’s not like I have a cute little white goatee, colonel status and a perchent for fried chicken. Although, I must say, I do enjoy good fried chicken…

So here we go, and if you think it looks like it has a lot of sugar in it that’s because it does. Three cups of that sweet, sweet shimmering goodness to one and a half kilos of tomatoes… plus it has maple syrup too. Ooh la la.

Make it. Make it now.

I grilled a 1kg piece of rump (a little overkill, but we looked after it) and then sliced it on the diagonal
I grilled a 1kg piece of rump (a little overkill, but we looked after it) and then sliced it on the diagonal
Once again, like a boss
Once again, like a boss
Seba devoured the hell out of his
Seba devoured the hell out of his
Tomato sauce. Cute bottle...
Tomato sauce. Cute bottle…

TOMATO SAUCE
1.5kg ripe tomatoes (the same amount of tomato passata will do the trick)
1 brown onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 long red chilli, chopped
2 cloves
5 drops Tabasco sauce
3 cups sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
1.5 cups white wine vinegar
• Soften onions and garlic in a little oil
• Add everything else and simmer slowly for an hour
• Blitz and pass (or just blitz really well. I don’t like chunky bits in my tomato sauce, they go in the toilet after a big nice on “the juice”)
• Check viscosity by placing a tablespoon of sauce into the fridge to set
• If it needs to be a little thicker return to heat until desired consistency is achieved
• Season with salt and pepper
• Bottle that shit up for your next hamburger, bbq or cheese sandwich