Monday, November 23, 2015

Candelori's Restaurant - A review

Candelori's Italian restaurant has just won 3 hats in the Gault & Millau Restaurant Guide for 2016. And, I can say, it is well deserved.

We often forget to look outside the concentration of restaurants that Sydney has on offer, tending to dine around the CBD and surrounds. But Candelori's is testament to good Italian cuisine worth venturing out of the city for.

The restaurant opened in 1999 and is the fourth successful restaurant venture for the Candelori Family - having run restaurants for the past 35 years.

Just before the Friday dinner rush
A new renovation and menu revamp was the impetus for our recent visit. 

We started the evening with Suckling Pig Croquettes. They arrived served with fresh herbs, sea salt and lime aioli.

Suckling Pig Croquettes (3) $16
The crumb coating is crisp and encasses a soft pillow of suckling pig meat. It is well seasoned - perhaps borderline too salty, but the aioli and lemon wedge balance out the richness and saltiness. 

Next, we decided to design our own Maialino Board with local Sydney Wagyu bresaola and truffle salami, mozarella di bufala, Candelori's own crumbed stuffed green olives and aged buffalo parmigiano from Parma in Italy.


Everything was fresh and delicious. The feta stuffed olives were just a tad too salty for me but very delicious nonetheless.

The next dish we tried was the Smoked Duck Breast Salad ( $29) 

A generous salad packed with fresh wedges of sweet fig, perfectly smoked tender duck breast, beetroot, baby leaves, crisp radish and roasted hazelnuts. Definitely my kind of salad. Even if I had visited and only tried this salad, I would have left completely satisfied. An absolute gem, and something I could eat every day.

If its pizza or pasta you are after, Candelori's staff were quick to point out to us that they do offer gluten free versions of both. And by the look of dishes that continued to flow out from the pass, we will be heading back this Summer.

By this stage we were rather full but Mr Candelori insisted we sample the new dessert menu. Being a little apprehensive about how I would react to 'all that sugar', we sampled a taste of each and were pleasantly surprised by the balance of each of the desserts on offer. 

Art on a plate - The New Dessert Menu @ Candelori's

For those of you who wish to indulge - all of the desserts were pretty amazing. 

Baked meringue ( main above) was impressive. Baked for 12 hours, the meringue shell is filled with poached pear, rhubarb and fresh cream and finished off with a dusting of lemon sherbet powder. 

The chocolate mousse ( top right) was dark and rich, yet balanced by a zingy passionfruit curd in the centre. 

The Italian version of the creme brulee was probably the least sweet of all the desserts -despite the crackly glass sugar top. The custard was a creamy pistachio creme served with mandarin sorbet which added the most sweetness to the dish. The crostoli looked nice but was a little lost on the plate. 

If semi freddo is your thing, then Candelori's choc-orange version will impress. I loved the freeze dried blood orange segments on top. The semi freddo itself was fairly sweet but was good in that it didnt exhibit any of the nasty freezer crystals that can often plague this dessert. A very good version indeed. The textural elements of this dessert were spot on.

The San Valentino ( Bottom right) was simply stunning. White chocolate mousse with raspberry jelly and biscotti. Whilst, a visually stunning summer dessert, I would suggest you share this one though as it is rather sweet. 

My favourite of the night, however, was from the Special's menu - A creamy ( not overly sweet) pannacotta style disc ( second from top right) topped with lime, fig and poached pear. It was truly divine. All the flavours worked exceptionally well together and the dessert was not overly sweet. A true indulgence. If you visit and it's on the specials menu make sure you try it.

We had a great evening at Candelori's and we look forward to visiting again soon. Its definitely a great dining destination for foodies.

We also noticed on the night that the restaurant also boasts an excellent private space perfect for functions of up to 60 guests. 

685 The Horsley Drive
Smithfield NSW 2164

Monday-Friday 12pm-3pm 

Monday-Saturday 6pm-10pm

Tel:02 9729 1155


The Food Mentalist & Guest dined as guest of Candelori's.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

My Food Bag : Review

Give me a new way to streamline the working week and I'll jump on it. Especially when it comes to meals. I don't know many people that wouldn't agree, especially when you are juggling work and a busy family. 

Enter My Food Bag  - A food delivery service, helping remove the hassle around planning meals. With a strong focus on fresh seasonal wholesome ingredients, the service offers a range of meal plans to cater to singles, couples and families. 

The recipes are designed by Head Chef and Dietician Nadia, and are easy-to-follow, use quality ingredients and are packed full of delicious flavours.  

There are six different food bags which cater for singles, couples and families.

Recipes and folder

Eating Seasonally

The meals are seasonally focused, which means better choice and quality of the produce available. By doing this Nadia and her team are able to create recipes that avoid using imported produce that has sat around for months in cold storage. 

Fresh ingredients delivered to our door
Recipes typically take between 20-45 minutes and don’t require fancy equipment. Recipe cards and a folder are included and give clear instructions on how to prepare and cook your meal.

What we tried

My Family Food Bag = 5 Main Meals - Feeds 2 adults and 2 children.

Firstly, everything we tried was delicious. All ingredients were fresh and of excellent quality. And portions were also spot on. I LOVED the fact that they also deliver on a Sunday as I have previously found week day deliveries can be tricky.

Here's what we tasted:

Asian Baked Salmon Parcels w/ Mash & Greens

This was by far my favourite meal - A good dose of healthy fats, protein, buttered mash and blanched greens.

Mild Indian Chicken w/ Vegetable Rice and Carrot Salad

I was surprised by this one, it was nice and easy to prepare, the flavours worked well,  and we felt like we were getting a decent amount of vegetables with our dinner. I even took some to work the next day for lunch. I loved the raw carrot salad with a touch of honey and olive oil. I was skeptical but have since made it again. Yum. 

Lamb Meatballs w/ Tomato Sauce & Risoni

We are huge lamb fans at our house so this was quite popular. I didn't have the risoni but Pete and the little one demolished it. There was enough for his lunch the next day too.

Peppered Steak w/ Hand Cut Sweet Potato Chips, Garlic Greens & Bernaise Sauce

Yum is all that needs to be said about this meal. A great balance of protein, vegetables and healthy carbs. Deeelicious. The beef was tender and full of flavour too.

Bacon, Cherry Tomato, Avocado & Cheese Quesadillas

This one was probably the least popular of the dishes this week largely due to the high carbohydrate factor. The salad was fresh and very much welcome and the bacon and red onion combination was super tasty.

I can highly recommend My Food Bag. Check out their great range of meal options by visiting their website.

The Food Mentalist sampled the above menu compliments of My Food Bag

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Breakfast @ COOH Cafe Alexandria

"Honest Food Full of Flavour - Organic & Wholesome" says the menu. 

I had to visit.

Those of you living over the North Side may well be familiar with COOH Cafe at Curl Curl - known for its healthy wholesome menu, great smoothies, juices and house roasted coffee. 

For the rest of us on this side, COOH have expanded, recently opening in Alexandria. A great little part of the Inner West, set amongst the industrial hub, COOH is easy to find - just across the way from The Grounds in fact.

I recently met up with a friend for breakfast to find out what COOH Cafe has on offer.

To start with both had a coffee, I had mine with house made almond milk which was divine. The menu offers a really great selection of allergy friendly options which I really love. 

I choose the Buckwheat Pancake and Jen chooses the Smashed Avocado.  

And for the close up...*sing*

Buckwheat Pancake $20 - Gluten and Dairy Free coconut and berry pancake topped with seasonal fruit, dairy free coconut yogurt and toasted coconut chips.

The pancake tastes fantastic, it's moist and studded with fresh blueberries. Topped with a generous serving of coconut yogurt and selection of seasonal fruit including fresh banana, pomegranate, passionfruit, strawberries and blueberries. 

Breakfast Heaven.

A very generous serving of smashed avocado on toasted sourdough also arrives. Topped with tomato, onion, coriander and corn salsa served with lemon. Its super fresh and full of goodness. 

Smashed Avocado $14

We finish off our breakfast with a fresh juice of carrot, celery, ginger and orange. 

The great open space has lots of room and a choice of indoor or outdoor seating. Perfect for larger groups, couples and families. 

Cool vibes and friendly efficient staff. A definite must visit. 

Grab some friends and head to COOH this weekend. You'll love it!

The team at COOH Alexandria are also set to open for Dinner soon too. Stay up to date via their Facebook Page

COOH Alexandria
90-96 Bourke Rd, Cnr of Collins, Alexandria

Opening Times:

Monday - Friday: 7am - 4pm

Saturday: 8am - 4pm

Sunday: 8am - 4pm

The Food Mentalist & Guest dined as a guests of Cooh Cafe Alexandria.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Cornersmith - Recipes from the cafe and picklery

Located on an unassuming street corner in Sydney's inner west is Cornersmith, a quirky little neighbourhood cafe. Using local, seasonal produce, owners Alex Elliott-Howery and James Grant wanted to represent the sustainable ethos they held to when cooking at home. Reducing waste, avoiding processed foods and pickling and preserving is what is behind most of what they do. And do it well, if you have ever made the trip to Illawarra Road in Marrickville on a weekend you will know that this place has a very loyal following.

The philosophy behind this amazing cafe is now captured in their first cookbook Cornersmith.

Photographed over the course of a year, this cookbook captures the best from their cafe and includes recipes from breakfasts to desserts made from healthy fresh ingredients and includes easy to follow recipes for jams, pickles, chutneys, relishes and fermented foods.

The team have kindly given us permission to share these delicious recipes. What I love about the tabouleh is that it uses buckwheat and is therefore gluten-free.And the preserved lemons is a must for any kitchen - they add the most amazing flavour to salads and cooked dishes, and best of all it is super easy!

Enjoy x


COOKING TIME: 10 minutes

Here is Sabine’s autumn adaptation of the classic Middle Eastern dish, using buckwheat for a gluten-free tabouleh. The bitterness of the radicchio beautifully balances the acidity of the tomatoes and pomegranate and the sweetness of the pomegranate syrup. Add a dollop of yoghurt just before serving, if you like.

100 g (312 oz) buckwheat
1 Lebanese (short) cucumber, finely diced
2 ox-heart tomatoes, finely chopped
12 small radicchio, finely shredded
seeds from 1 smallish pomegranate
finely grated zest and juice of 1–2 lemons
2 handfuls roughly chopped or torn mixed herbs, such as parsley, mint and dill
80 ml (212 fl oz/¹⁄³ cup) olive oil
2–3 pinches sumac
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

Put the buckwheat into a large saucepan of salted boiling water. As soon as the water comes back up to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 6–8 minutes. When the buckwheat is done, the grains should still have a slight bite to them. Drain and leave to cool.

Mix the buckwheat, cucumber, tomatoes, radicchio and pomegranate seeds in a bowl. Add the lemon zest and juice, three-quarters of the herbs and season with salt and pepper, then gently toss everything together.

To serve, place the tabouleh in a large bowl, then pour over the olive oil. Scatter over the sumac and the rest of the herbs and drizzle over the pomegranate syrup.


STORAGE: several years
MAKES:2 x 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cup) jars

Every home cook should know how to make preserved lemons or limes – they’re the most straightforward and cheapest of all the preserves. All you need is lemons or limes and salt!

Once you have a jar of these on the go, you’ll wonder how you lived without them: use to pep up a white bean mash (see page 223), chard and wild greens pie (see page 204) or lamb tagine (see page 228), stir through aioli (see page 97), or smash into avocado and serve on toast.

1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) lemons or limes – if using limes, you may need a few extra if they aren’t particularly juicy
100–150 g (312 –512 oz) salt

1 bay leaf or 1 cinnamon stick and 2 cloves
1 allspice berry
5 black peppercorns

1 red chilli
12 teaspoon coriander seeds
5 black peppercorns

First sterilise your jars (see page 250), then leave to cool completely.

Cut the lemons or limes into quarters, or halves if very small. Place a tablespoon of salt into the bottom of each jar. Put a few layers of lemon or lime quarters into the jar, pressing down as you go to release the fruit’s juices.

Slide your chosen spices down the side of each jar. Sprinkle over another layer of salt, then add another layer of lemon or lime quarters and repeat these layers until the jar is full. Remember to keep pushing down as you go. The fruit needs to be completely covered in salty juice – if your fruit hasn’t released enough of its own juices, squeeze a few extra and pour in this juice to cover.

Leave 1 cm (12 in) of space between the top of the fruit and the lid of the jar – you don’t want the salty fruit touching the lid or it will corrode the metal. Seal the jars and let them sit in a cool, dark place for 6 weeks.

You know your lemons or limes are preserved when the salt has completely dissolved into a gel-like liquid. Preserved lemons and limes will keep for years, but opened jars are best stored in the fridge (if the top layer of fruit looks discoloured, just discard it and the rest should be fine to use).

Recipes and Images from Cornersmith by Alex Elliott-Howery and James Grant (Murdoch Books). 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Organic Mango Chia Breakfast Pudding

As part of Australian Organic Awareness Month I wanted to share my favourite summer breakfast recipe using chia seeds and organic mango. Its super easy and full of goodness.The pudding itself is full of fibre, protein and a good dose of healthy fats, with the mango providing the perfect amount of sweetness to start your day. 

Its also completely paleo.

Being certified organic means that a product is cruelty free, non GM, pasture fed, socially responsible, sustainably fished, biodiversity friendly and of course grown free from harsh synthetic pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics.

To make sure you are buying quality organic produce, when you shop, look for items displaying the Australian Certified Organic logo.

Australian Organic Awareness Month runs from 1st to 30th September.

400ml can of Australian Certified Organic (ACO) coconut cream - I use Nakula
5 tbs ACO chia seeds
200g ACO frozen mango chunks - I use the Elgin Organic brand.

4 tbs ACO shredded coconut 
filtered water, as needed
ACO macadamia nuts - optional

Whisk together the coconut cream and chia seeds and set aside for 15-20 minutes. Whisk again and the cover with cling wrap and place in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours or preferably overnight. 

About 20 minutes before you are ready to serve the pudding remove the mango from the freezer and let it defrost slightly. Once it has  started to soften, mash with a fork so that it is puree-like but still has a few chunky pieces. 

Remove the chia pudding mixture from the fridge, stir and spoon into bowls or parfait ramekins. Spoon over the mango mixture and top with shredded coconut and chopped or grated macadamia nuts ( optional).

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

My Farmers Market Table

Based in gorgeous Byron Bay in Northern NSW, My Farmers Market Table is bringing a taste of Australia to foodies around Australia with a new gourmet subscription service. 

Featuring a handpicked selection of artisan-produced gourmet products, the monthly discovery box will feature a different region each month. This is every foodies dream delivered to the door and the perfect gift for those who love sampling new artisan products.

I have been lucky to get my hands on the first round of boxes and it features a delicious array of products from Byron Bay and surrounds. It's an area of NSW that I am very fond of, I attended uni up there and spent many a school holiday there as a child. My father and his family still live there so i know it very well. 

Local olives, macadamia nuts, organic coffee, honey, olive and walnut paste, natural pecans and mac-cacao spread. OMG! YUM

By searching farmers markets around the country, founder Christiana Stergiou hopes to uncover the best small batch culinary delights Australia has to offer. 

Monthly subscriptions can be cancelled at any time and are available for purchase along with a selection of one-off Gift Boxes through the MYFMT Website.

All products are non-perishable and do not require refrigeration. A range of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free foods are also available upon request.

Stergiou is currently running a crowd funding campaign to help launch My Farmers Table and is offering 10 per cent discounts on single boxes and subscriptions. The first 50 supporters will get a 20 per cent discount. 

To show your support head to the MYFMT Campaign over of Pozible HERE