Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Australia Day coffee & cake in Petersham

After a morning dip at the Fanny Durack Aquatic Centre in Petersham Park we dropped into the Palace Pantry for coffee.

On the corner of Palace and Brighton Streets, just up from the pool and Petersham Park, the Palace Pantry offers delicious gluten-free sweet treats.

Made on site by pastry chef Takato, the cakes are superior to many gluten-free ones on offer at other cafes.

Being coeliac I have become a connoisseur of orange and almond cakes. The one at the Palace Pantry was the nicest I have tasted in a long time as it was very moist and orangey.  Another time I tried the caramel round which was also delicious. Next visit I will choose the gluten-free chocolate brownie.

And for all you non-coeliacs out there the Palace Pantry makes delicious pies. Bruce is having a lamb, potato and rosemary one now. "It's beautiful," he just called out from his spot on the couch watching the tennis. Isn't it great to have a day off during the week!

You can find the Palace Pantry on Facebook. More on this inner west treat soon.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Music and movies at Sydney Uni's Quad

Last night we went to A Night at the Quad, a Sydney Festival event in the historic main quadrangle at Sydney Uni.

As the festival guide says: "A Night at the Quad is all about the glorious chemistry between music and film. Lay back on the lawn amidst the grandeur of The University of Sydney's oldest buildings for this special screening plus great live music by artists associated with the soundtrack."

We were meant to be seeing Archie Roach followed by a screening of Rolf de Heer's movie The Tracker. We did see The Tracker which features Archie on the soundtrack but at the last minute he wasn't able to make it to Sydney to perform. Fortunately Emma Donovan and Jimmy Little stepped in and got us singing along with a few songs. Lisa Hensley also had a chat with director Rolf de Heer who wrote the lyrics for the music sung by Archie Roach in The Tracker.

It's a very pleasant evening in the historic space. I was taken back to my uni days in the early 80s and remembered going to an American history lecture with Dr Graham White in one of the rooms off the main quad. I think the room was called Latin Room 1. Dr White was one of the less boring academics on campus.  In fact, his lectures were great!

The other good thing about the event is that there are a number of gluten-free options on the menu. I brought our food (gluten-free salads from Relish and chicken and rocket sausages from AC Butchery in Leichhardt) because I couldn't be sure. I was pleasantly surprised when I spoke to the caterers as there were a number of gluten-free choices including a smoked salmon salad, a frittata and a cheese plate - you'd just need to bring gluten-free bread or rice crackers to go with it.

It got a bit windy in the Quad last night so it's probably a good idea to bring a jacket. We had a few drops of rain during the film but orange Sydney Festival plastic ponchos did the trick. Fortunately the rain stayed away till the movie finished. It was a good night and was a lovely way to celebrate Bruce's birthday.

The remaining 'A Night at the Quad' events are:

21 Jan, The Necks and The Boys
23 Jan, Decoder Ring and Somersault
24 Jan, Tex Perkins and Murray Paterson and Beautiful Kate

Gates open at 7pm and the music starts at 8pm. A Night at the Quad is is $30 a ticket.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

From Berry to Broulee gluten-free

On a holiday down the south coast of NSW last week I discovered a couple of gluten-free gems. 

Just Delicious at Berry

The first one was Just Delicious, a cafe and deli at Berry, the very popular little town two hours drive south of Sydney.

Just Delicious is off the main drag in a side street two streets back, parallel to the Princes Highway. It's among a group of interesting cafes and shops that seem a bit less conventional and touristy than those on the main street. 

Just Delicious is full of gluten-free goodies both sweet and savoury including salmon dill ricotta cake, roast capsicum, pumpkin and spinach frittata, smoked chicken rice cake, orange poppy seed macaroon and an orange and almond delight. You can find Just Delicious at 3/62 Albert Street, Berry.

The Muffin Shop at Mossy Point

Further south at Mossy Point where we spent a relaxing week is The Muffin Shop. As you would expect, it specialises in muffins including gluten-free ones. While the gluten-free range is not as extensive as the regular options, you can choose from three sweet varieties - orange poppy seed, chocolate, and apple and sultana cinnamon.

The savoury option is cheese pesto and olive. I didn't get to try the savoury one as they had sold out but my favourite sweet variety was the apple, sultana and cinnamon muffin. Unlike the gluten-containing muffins which are made fresh daily, the gluten-free ones are frozen. The staff defrost and heat them before serving. 

The Muffin Shop also serves a variety of salads that are gluten-free including smoked salmon, roast beef, leg ham, chicken and a vegan salad bowl. You can find The Muffin Shop at 7/31 Pacific Street, Mossy Point. The telephone number is: (02) 4471 8599.

The River at Moruya

Our final south coast dining experience was at The River at Moruya, 20 minutes drive from Mossy Point and nearby Broulee.  Recently featured in Country Style magazine, The River is a bit more upmarket than Just Delicious and The Muffin Shop. Its chefs are Tim Saffery, Tobie Patrick and Peter Compton, who have all worked in prestigious Melbourne restaurants. Country Style magazine says opening The River has allowed the three to bring their take on modern food to a rural setting.

While gluten-free options are not listed on the menu, like most modern Australian restaurants there are plenty of choices for coeliacs. As well, the staff were generally knowledgeable about which dishes contained gluten and they were happy to alter them to cater for my needs.

My choices were the grilled local nectarines, house-made prosciutto with goats cheese cream for entree, the fish of the day for main and a delicious chocolate mousse for desert.

While we all enjoyed our meals we felt adding a couple of other items to the lettuce leaf salad would have made it a bit more interesting.  The River is in a beautiful setting overlooking the Moruya River. It would be a perfect spot for a romantic dinner for two.