The Duck Inn, Chippendale

On a cold drizzly night, a catchup with old friends on the cards, the promise of a warm, lively night at the Duck Inn pub in Chippendale seemed just the ticket.

The pub was packed as we arrived, and our only seating option was in the beer garden outside. A great spot in concept, but not so great as it started drizzling, then bucketing down, after we had taken a big gulp of our first ciders. Using great agility, we hopped, skipped and jumped over to an umbrella-protected table and there proceeded to continue our leisurely chatter until the rain really started bucketing. Luckily a few people had left in the main part of the bar, so we quickly nabbed a table and were thankful for an actual roof.

We started off with a cider and all commented on the slight rancidity involved with sipping a glass of Magners. We all agreed that the taste improves significantly, with rancidity decreasing in inverse proportion to the number of schooners consumed. $7 each.

Dinner is basically pub grub, with the essence of a effort to make things just a little bit fancier than the normal hum drum grub. In our group, one ordered the Classic Oz Beef Burger ($18), one Pork & Fennel Sausages ($17) and two steak sandwiches ($19).

The burger was described as “not the best burger I’ve ever tasted” and it was noted that the bottom half of the bun was cut from a loaf, and was not an individual roll. We reflected on the potentially critical error of this, depending on the sauciness/ juiciness of the burger and the necessity of the crust from a roll to prevent disintegration. We were advised by our resident New Zealander to go to Queenstown’s Fergberger…or the significantly closer Burger Fuel…for a more tasty morsel.

Burgerman

Burgerman

The pork and fennel sausages were described as “amazing”, although the accompanying potato mash was “floury” and “the worst I’ve ever had”.

Sausage king

Sausage king

The steak sandwich, I felt, was slightly on the small size, although the steak was fairly thick. I had a super grissly bit in one corner of mine, which made eating with hands – as any good steak sandwich should be – awkward and with the distinct possibility of ending up with a sizeable bit of steak hanging from my mouth, out in the open. The spiced tomato chutney was described as “pretty tasty”, although I was less optimistic about it. Fairly average and I was not a fan of raw red onion slices – cooked and caramelised is the way to go here.

Steak and bake

Steak and bake

The chips were a good-sized serve, crisp and generously salted. I’m personally less a fan of the french fry style and more a fan of the steak-cut chips style, but that is no criticism of the Duck Inn.

I had pretty significant food envy of the table next door, which had ordered a couple of the Vale Ale battered fish and chips ($18) and the Twice Cooked Pork Belly (about $24, I think)

Another cider (Batlow, $8.50) later, we headed off into the cold, walking past those young things out for a night on King St, and retreated into the warm, warm safety of our apartments.

The Duck Inn
74 Rose St
Chippendale NSW 2008

Food? 6/10. I wanted to like the food so, so much. And I admit my said food envy…but for us, it was average at best! Safe pub grub though, with a few nice hearty touches
Drinks? 8/10 Decent. A few ciders on tap (the boring Magners, the Batlow and then one poured out of an ale pump) and few craft beers
Atmosphere? 9/10 – a cool neighbourhood pub. Lively, packed, a cool beer garden out the back, a dining hall to one side, friendly bar tenders, rushed but nice service. I’d definitely go back for a Sunday afternoon session.
The Duck Inn Pub & Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Cafe Pacifico, Darlinghurst

So the other day, I made my inaugural purchase of an Entertainment Book, having previously been a little skeptical dog on the concept. I’ve swiftly realised the false economy – that you order to compensate for any discount you’re receiving. Anyway, spotting Cafe Pacifico in said book, I took up the opportunity to check out a cool-looking Mexican restaurant / tequila bar a couple of nights ago.

Skeptical dog

Up a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it flight of stairs, we were greeted with smiles and a pulley system attached to the door, which would send a bony skeletal hand flying up and down. Having arrived at the painfully un-hip hour of 6pm on a Friday night (apparently I’m 80 these days), we were seated immediately and plonked upon our table was a serve of complimentary chips and salsa.

Wanna chip bro?

Wanna chip bro?

The chips were…chips, nothing special. The salsa had a surprising kick for what otherwise looked like a soupy saucy bowl of red.

Proceeding to commence the Friday night-unwind, we got stuck into a pitcher (1L-ish) of Mexican Sangria ($34), which seemed to get increasingly strong towards the end of the jug. Fruit was sparse – a little orange here, a little apple there, spice was somewhat uninspiring, but it was decent, and boy did it help us unwind.

Quit yer wining

Quit yer wining

Enough talking. Onto the food. Having been to a chicken abattoir the day before, I went for the beef enchiladas ($22.9) with optional sour cream ($23.9), while my dining friend went for the beef burrito ($22.9).

Is that a burrito in your pocket?

Is that a burrito in your pocket?

I think my dining friend’s comment summed it up succinctly as our mains arrived – “I though we ordered different things”. They just sort of looked same-y. And beige. They were quite tasty – plentiful, tender shredded beef, topped with melty, oozy cheese and the promised sour cream. Both came with refried beans and what I’d usually expect to be a cilantro-lime rice thing (but what was instead a sort of orange-y tasting rice), but it was essentially just theĀ same save for mine coming in the shape of two rolled tortillas, and his coming in one burrito.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a burrito? Is it an enchilada?

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a burrito? No, it’s an enchilada

I was probably hoping for something with a little more of an innovative twist; something a little funky. Anything. Cafe Pacifico is in the trendiest of trendy areas, after all. This reminded me more of a local, suburban Mexican dig – definitely not bad, but nothing particularly exciting to speak of. Nevertheless, it was good, hearty fare, which hit the spot on a cold Friday night. And service was fantastic as well.

As we retreated into the night – at the out of control hour of 7:30pm – the bar had begun to fill up, bartenders were yelling and whooping, tequila was being shotted and the party was just getting started.

Cafe Pacifico
95 Riley St,
Darlinghurst NSW 2010

Food? 6/10 – sorry guys! It’s probably not the best value for money – at $24 for a suburban enchiladas, I’ve had better!
Drinks? 7/10 – Sangria was pretty unimaginative, but they did have a wiiiide selection of tequila and were also touting their “famous margarita”
Atmosphere? 9/10 – very cool. It’s set upstairs in what would have once been an old, unloved warehouse. Now decked out with Mexican paraphernalia, posters, candles, beer boxes and a huge bar, it’s lively, quick and a lot of fun.

Cafe Pacifico on Urbanspoon

The yoghurt files: supermarket yoghurts – the good, the bad and the ugly

God I love my little foodie soapbox. Proclaiming what ingredients should be mixed where, which restaurants have satisfied my rampant appetite and now, to put another finger in yet a new pie, my humble (and potentially irrelevant) opinion on supermarket yoghurts: the good, the bad and the ugly.

It was my own Dad that posed this delicious challenge to me, and as one that loves a good spoon of bacterial dairy, I could but jump at the chance. Here goes (and remember, let’s not sue Hannah for defamation – opinions taken at your own peril (or deliciousness)):

Listed in order of deliciousness…

Harris Farm Honey and Almond – 350g – $4

 

Harris Farm honey & almond

Harris Farm honey & almond


– Very creamy – the thickest of the lot
– The yoghurt was fairly sweet, although there was a distinct honey taste (as opposed to just sugary)
– The chopped almonds added a nice textural touch, but this may deter some eaters
– Quite expensive at $4 for a mere 350g
– Only available from Harris Farm
– Overall I thought it was a delicious yoghurt that would actually go well in place of cream for a dessert like an apple pie or similar

Macro Organic Greek-style Yoghurt – 500g – $5

 

Macro Organic Greek-style

Macro Organic Greek-style


– I was definitely impressed with this yoghurt. I’d always had this image that greek yoghurt was this gross sour mess. Macro’s yoghurt is very thick. It has the requisite non-sweetness to it, but I think sometimes that is nice, especially atop some muesli and fruit for breakfast in the morning
– Fairly high in fat
– Developed more of a watery residue after a couple of days, than the Harris Farm yoghurt – but still lasted very well for the week
– Very thick and creamy – a lot more than other greek yoghurts I have had

Gippsland Organic – individual tub – $1.70

Gippsland Organic (vanilla)

Gippsland Organic (vanilla)

– Comes in a range of flavours including vanilla and berry
– Certainly very creamy, not quite as thick as the two above and very, very smooth
– Slightly sour tinges, but in a good way! – the yoghurt wasn’t too sweet

Dairy Farmers Thick & Creamy Blueberry Fields – individual tub – $1.90

Dairy Farmers Thick & Creamy

Dairy Farmers Thick & Creamy

– True to its name, the yoghurt was indeed creamy, although not to the thick, lush levels of the more expensive first two yoghurts
– I noticed that it had quite a lot of sugar (16%), which could trick the average punter, seeing as it claims to be low in fat
– Visible blueberries – a rare feat in the wide world of yoghurt. I wouldn’t necessarily refer to it as a “field” of blueberries…but let’s not be nit-picky

Farmers Union Greek Strained Yoghurt – individual tub – $2

Farmer's Union Greek Strained

Farmer’s Union Greek Strained

– It was a fairly expensive serve at $2 for an individual tub
– There was a noticeable watery residue, but perhaps this was due to the “strained” part. That said, it may turn off the average yoghurt-phobe
– The yoghurt was quite nice and creamy, although you felt that you had to stir it a fair bit to achieve that creaminess
– On that topic, I failed to notice the extent of the layer of honey down the bottom – very much bordering on too much. Pro-tip: you need to stir this so you don’t end up with a painfully sweet ending. I ate about half the tub, then noticed the honey, then prayed that after eating, my teeth wouldn’t fall out from sweetness

Vaalia Passionfruit – 4 pack of individual tubs – $5 (on special)

Vaalia

Vaalia

– This one was on par with the Gippsland Organic in terms of creaminess. It was a lot creamier than a lot of the “non-gourmet” yoghurts (you know the ones…Ski D’lite, I’m looking at you)
– The passionfruit flavour was lightly sweet (and not overly, which was a good thing) and slightly tart
– No actual passionfruit was noted, unfortunately. I like a couple of seeds to know what I’m getting myself into

Danone Activia – pack of 4 smallish individual tubs – $4

Danone Activia

Danone Activia

– Chunks of mango were noticed, although they were kind of firm/hard, which was a little disconcerting
– Slightly acidic aftertaste that hit you in the back of the throat
– Despite being low fat, it was sufficiently creamy, especially compared to the non-gourmet yoghurts
– The tub was noticeably smaller than the other individual tubs of yoghurt. If you really tried, you could knock it off in two decent-sized spoons

Yoplait ForMe – 6 individual tubs – $5 on special

Yoplait ForMe

Yoplait ForMe

– The flavours of black cherry, boysenberry and strawberry in the pack of 6 was nice…has anyone ever actually eaten a boysenberry? In the yoghurt, it sort of just tastes like “generic berry” to me
– Claimed to be low-GI and low in sugar…though perhaps it was this that resulted in the yoghurt being a fairly watery / liquidy consistency
– I did notice a few little bits of fruit, but overall I felt that the flavour was quite fake and that perhaps even some colour had been added

Well there ya have it. My humble opinion on a small variety of various yoghurts. Take it as you will, and if anyone offers you the Harris Farm or the Macro Organic, you take that little tub of bacterial goodness, you grab the nearest, biggest spoon, and you go mental.

Various fruitlicious crumble

The crumble. No one I have ever met has ever turned away a hot bowl of crunchy, crumbly, apple-y crumble. This time, having desperately needed a dessert hit, and not having managed to venture past the fruit bowl and to the shops, I decided to take the beggars-can’t-be-choosers option and go with what I had. Various fruits.

You will need:
– various fruits. I went with a jumbled concoction of an apple, a couple of plums and a couple of nectarines
– zest and juice of one lemon
– 120g caster sugar
– 120g plain flour
– 100g ground almonds
– 150g butter (chopped)
– a couple of handfuls of chopped / slivered almonds
– nutmeg and cinnamon

Step 1 – Fry-day: this sounds kinda weird but you want to fry the fruits for a bit to get a bit of char on. Melt a tablespoon or so of butter (along with a teensy bit of olive oil) on quite a high heat so they don’t soften heaps (you’ll be baking it later), but go goldy on the outside. During the frying process, add about a teaspoon each of nutmeg and cinnamon and a quarter of the sugar and also the lemon juice.

All fried up

All fried up

Step 2 – The world crumbles: Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius. In a bowl, mix your flour, remaining sugar, ground almonds and the butter. Rub together until the mixture turns all crumbly (doesn’t have to be too fine like breadcrumbs).

Eat me

Eat me

Step 3 – Assembly of Fools: place your fruits in a baking dish, toss in the lemon zest and scatter the crumble mixture over the top. On top of that, sprinkle the almonds. Bake for around about 40 mins or until the crumble is golden (and the fruit is tender).

IMG_0861