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Monday, May 23, 2016

Gelato Messina HQ, Rosebery

Free gelato tastings at Gelato Messina HQ, Rosebery

Messina without a queue? Messina gelato cakes at the drop of a hat? You can get both at one of Gelato Messina's lesser known outlets in Rosebery. The Rosebery store is Gelato Messina HQ, home to a bright and shiny kitchen classroom for gelato-making workshops and gelato appreciation classes. It's where all Messina gelato cakes are made - that means you can stop by and pick one up without having to pre-order. Say what?!

Gelato prices at Gelato Messina HQ, Rosebery
Gelato cabinet 

Its location makes for a handy weekend pit-stop, with relatively easy street parking. The best part is there's rarely a queue inside. Being able to see the entire gelato cabinet without a single person blocking your view is a rare luxury.

Apple pie gelato at Gelato Messina HQ, Rosebery
Apple pie gelato

Like all Messina stores, you'll find 40 different flavours on offer. There are 35 permanent flavours and five weekly specials.

Passionfruit sorbet at Gelato Messina HQ, Rosebery
Passionfruit sorbet

Ten permanent sorbets include blood orange, lemon and coconut & roast almond with chocolate coated almonds. All the sorbets are dairy free and vegan. 

Gelato rainbow at Gelato Messina HQ, Rosebery
Gelato rainbow

I'm always befuddled by the overwhelming choice of flavours. Apparently the salted caramel and white chocolate is their biggest seller.

Weekly gelato specials at Gelato Messina HQ, Rosebery
Weekly gelato specials

The novelty of the weekly special is usually hard to resist. Hat tip also has to go to the creativity of flavour combos and the quirkiness behind each creation name. The Messina team reckon they've made 2,500 different flavours so far.

Gelato cups at Gelato Messina HQ, Rosebery
L: Frooty Loopy, Coco Republic, and pandan & coconut
R: Honey I Burnt the Kids, salted coconut & mango salsa, and #36

We end up getting almost every weekly special on offer. The Frooty Loopy makes us feel like kids again, with Froot Loops-infused milk gelato and chewy Froot Loops rings. Coco Republic is chunkier than we expect, with large bits of pineapple cake mixed through coconut gelato and only a small amount of passionfruit curd.

There's quite a savoury note to Honey I Burnt the Kids, a burnt vanilla gelato with smoked dark chocolate fudge, burnt honey mousse and caramelised popcorn. And #36 is dense with frozen glazed doughnuts and pecan crunch mixed through peanut caramel gelato.

We also pick from their classic range. The salted coconut & mango salsa is super tasty and I still swoon over the pandan & coconut, probably my most-eaten flavour from Messina of all time.

Gelato cake samples at Gelato Messina HQ, Rosebery
Display area of gelato cake samples

In the back corner of the shop is a display area of Messina gelato cakes complete with mock-up samples.

Dr Evil's Magic Mushroom gelato cake at Gelato Messina HQ, Rosebery
Dr Evil's Magic Mushroom $85 (serves 16)
Dark chocolate gelato, peanut cookies and dulce de leche with flourless chocolate sponge, red ganache and white chocolate buttons with popping candy grass

Messina tiramisu gelato cake at Gelato Messina HQ, Rosebery
Tiramisu $75 (serves 16)
White chocolate and coffee bowl filled with tiramisu gelato and lady finger biscuits topped with a white chocolate ball rolled in coffee bean and dark chocolate filled with a coffee and marsala gel

Messina Bombe Alaska gelato cake at Gelato Messina HQ, Rosebery
Bombe Alaska $55 (serves 14-16)
Raspberry sorbet and dark chocolate gelato on a flourless chocolate sponge covered in scorched Italian meringue

As one staff member told us, all the gelato cakes are made on the premises here, so chances are you should be able to pick up any cake you choose even without pre-ordering. It's also much easier to find a street park here than at Darlinghurst or Surry Hills.

Strawberries and cream gelato at Gelato Messina HQ, Rosebery
Strawberries and cream gelato

Like every other Messina store, there's a distinct lack of seating, but standing around with your mates and stealing spoonfuls of gelato from each other's cones and cups is half the fun.

Triple scoop gelato cup at Gelato Messina HQ, Rosebery
Gelato time!

Gelato Messina HQ in Rosebery


Gelato Messina HQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Gelato Messina HQ
58 Mentmore Avenue, Rosebery, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8821 7391

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 11am-10pm
Saturday 12pm-10pm
Sunday 12pm-9pm


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/23/2016 01:28:00 am


Thursday, May 19, 2016

PAZAR Food Collective, Canterbury

Attila Yilmaz, owner of Pazar Food Collective, Canterbury

If he had it his way, Attila Yilmaz would be back in the police force tomorrow. After twelve years as a police officer, Yilmaz was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, retiring as a leading senior constable in 2011. Five years later, he still struggles to sleep. Those restless nights are now used to jot down ideas and recipes for his flourishing new career, as chef and owner of Pazar Food Collective in Canterbury.

You would know Yilmaz from his Mexican-inspired Al Carbon food truck, off the road now, but still used for occasional events. He also set up La Lupita, a Mexican pop-up at Canterbury that was relocated and sold as a concept to The Basement (it's since closed). Both were created after intense research trips to LA and Mexico.

When he parted ways with La Lupita, Yilmaz says this was a major turning point. "Up until then I'd always cooked what I thought people wanted to eat. But then I realised if I'm going to get back into this, I'm going to start cooking what I like to eat." And Pazar Food Collective was born.


The wood fire oven at Pazar Food Collective, Canterbury
The wood fire oven

Pazar would be hard to miss were it not for its purple illuminated sign on the street, a rare blip of colour along this nondescript stretch of Canterbury Road. Inside it's a different story.

Pazar means marketplace in Turkish. While you won't find any stallholders here, it accurately depicts the casual raucousness to the place, a merry mix of locals and blow-ins clustered around an open kitchen. The massive wood fire oven takes centre stage. It's Yilmaz's pride and joy, designed to be large enough to cook several lambs at once. The menu is Turkish and Middle Eastern with the occasional Mexican twist.

Zucchini herb balls at Pazar Food Collective, Canterbury
Zucchini herb balls with feta and sumac yoghurt $8.50 for 3

We take up a table outside, warmed by outdoor heaters as the sun sets. Our party of eight is happy to order the Collective Sharing Feast, a chef's selection of at least 10 different dishes for $45 per person (available for groups of at least four, and mandatory for groups of eight or more). I've provided standard menu prices below each photo. One member of our party works with Yilmaz's wife so we immediately receive a family-style welcome. We also get a generous variety of dishes as Yilmaz pulls out all the stops.

There's some strange purple lighting out the back so some photos are missing, but I can tell you we start with a terrific mound of hummus with Sicilian braised mint peas and fermented chilli. Next comes a plate of roast pickled baby beetroot with whipped haydari herbed feta and then a build-your-own assembly of lettuce cups with red lentil kofte ssam.

My standout of the starters is the smoked labne, laced with a dense smokiness that I cannot resist. We dip and dab our way through everything with warm squares of wood oven-baked pide bread encrusted with sesame seeds and nigella.

Zucchini herb balls are another highlight, fooling me first as falafel lookalikes but then quickly revealing themselves as fresh and crunchy zucchini fritters, splashed with cooling yoghurt sprinkled with sumac.

Whole wood roast blackened pumpkin at Pazar Food Collective, Canterbury
Wood roast blackened pumpkin $16

Wood roast blackened pumpkin is another vegetarian win. The massive hunk of pumpkin is engulfed in a tidal wave of pepita salsa verde. A rubble of crumbled feta and toasted almonds add saltiness and crunch.

Whole wood roasted blackened pumpkin at Pazar Food Collective, Canterbury
Whole wood roasted blackened pumpkin

I spy the whole blackened pumpkin in the kitchen. It's a magnificent idea to roast it whole, intensifying its natural sweetness while adding a smoky char.

Spiced beef stuffed egglant at Pazar Food Collective, Canterbury
Spiced beef stuffed eggplant $21

It's not until our seventh dish that we finally encounter meat, not that we'd really missed it in our preceding six courses of vegetarian dishes. I do appreciate the inclusion of spiced beef mince in the roasted eggplant though. It's the kind of warm and hearty dish that ticks all the boxes for comfort food. Melted cheese, pine nuts, Turkish currants and a splash of mulberry molasses add texture and tang.

Turkish Caesar salad at Pazar Food Collective, Canterbury
Turkish Caesar salad

Yilmaz sends out one of his off-the-menu creations: his version of a Turkish Caesar salad swapping out bacon for thin shavings of pastirma, and croutons for baby radishes. Buried beneath the snowstorm of cheese is a runny egg, best pierced so its sticky egg yolk runs everywhere.

Chilli mussels at Pazar Food Collective, Canterbury
Chilli mussels $19

We happily get messy with chilli mussels, prising them apart with fingers and using our teeth to scrape the meat off the shell. The mussels have been baked in a thick tomato sauce spiked with white wine, and liberally garnished with a zingy gremolata.


Pork cutlet at Pazar Food Collective, Canterbury
Pork cutlet $28

The 280-gram pork cutlet is wondrously tender, the result of a gentle sous vide before hitting the grill. Pickled vegetables, roasted pineapple and an intriguing peanut salsa verde round out this dish but it's the pork bone that's the real prize. Wait until everyone else is distracted and sneak in for the best bit. I did.

Smoked lamb shoulder at Pazar Food Collective, Canterbury
Smoked lamb shoulder $34

The onslaught of food continues with smoked lamb shoulder. The meat falls apart with the gentlest of nudges, served with a bulgur butter pilaf and a tomato herb salsa for freshness. Lamb shoulder is such a flavoursome cut - no wonder it's said to be most butchers' favourite cut.

Harissa roasted chicken at Pazar Food Collective, Canterbury
Harissa roasted chicken $26

And then we're presented with the harissa roasted chicken. It's everything you want in a chicken: succulent flesh encased in a crisp skin. A bed of fermented chilli hummus acts as both a dip and a sauce.

Tres leche cake at Pazar Food Collective, Canterbury
Tres leche cake $14

We're spent but we can't say no to a spoonful of dessert. Yilmaz is proud of their modified tres leche cake, designed by a young chef given room to experiment in his kitchen. She came up with a habanero caramel with a raspberry mezcal and lime sauce.

It works brilliantly. The milky sweetness of the cake gets a tongue-tingling hit from the habanero caramel. The raspberry mezcal provides a sweet alcoholic kick.

Fun times in Canterbury? You bet. I'm heading back for that smoked labne.

NB. We paid for our meal here although we probably did score extra dishes and a free dessert.

Inside the wood fire oven at Pazar Food Collective, Canterbury


PAZAR Food Collective Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pazar Food Collective
325 Canterbury Road, Canterbury, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8964 9334

Opening hours
Tuesday to Friday 6pm-10pm
Saturday 5.30pm-10pm


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/19/2016 02:28:00 am


Monday, May 16, 2016

BBQ Pitmaster Rodney Scott at Harpoon Harry, Surry Hills

Rodney Scott of Scott's BBQ with Morgan McGlone at Harpoon Harry, Surry Hills

If there's one man that knows barbecue, it's Rodney Scott. The barbecue pit master of Scott's BBQ in Hemingway, South Carolina, barbecued his first whole hog at eleven years of age. When Anthony Bourdain visited Scott's BBQ for Parts Unknown: Charleston, he introduced Scott as "a man sought after all over the world for some of the finest whole hog barbecue there is".

South Carolina? That's a long way away from Sydney. So what did Morgan McGlone do? He brought Scott's BBQ to Sydney, with a two-day stint at Harpoon Harry.

Scott's BBQ menu at Harpoon Harry, Surry Hills
Scott's BBQ menu at Harpoon Harry

Scott's BBQ started in the early 1970s by Rodney's parents. They began with one whole hog every Thursday. Now they cook up to 10 hogs per week. And they're only open Wednesday to Saturday.

The whole hogs are cooked using hardwood from the immediate area. The hogs are butterflied open and barbecued low and slow for twelve hours. Scott's signature is a mop he uses to baste the meat with a mixture of ground red pepper, vinegar, lemons and "lots of love".

Queue for Scott's BBQ at Harpoon Harry, Surry Hills
The queue

Barbecue fans were told to arrive early at Harpoon Harry. And they did. Even though the barbecue would not be served until 3pm on Sunday, there was already a queue by 1.40pm. By 2.45pm, the queue was at least 300-deep.

Rodney Scott and Anthony Puharich serving Scott's BBQ at Harpoon Harry, Surry Hills
Rodney Scott from Scott's BBQ and Anthony Puharich from Vic's Meats

In Sydney, Scott and McGlone had set up the barbecue pit at Randwick Racecourse. The whole hog - from Vic's Meats - had gone on at 11pm on Saturday evening. It was basted throughout the night. By the time they'd transported the cooked hog to Harpoon Harry in Surry Hills, McGlone admitted he'd only gotten two hours sleep in the truck. Scott had had none.

Rodney Scott and Anthony Puharich serving Scott's BBQ at Harpoon Harry, Surry Hills
Plating up 

After joining the queue at 2.10pm - and about 50 people deep - I finally reached the front about 70 minutes later. There's an efficient production line in place with Scott, Puharich and McGlone all providing a friendly face for customers.

Morgan McGlone plating Rodney Scott's pulled pork at Harpoon Harry, Surry Hills
Morgan McGlone plating the pulled pork

McGlone is on the pulled pork station. Each serve nets about 150 grams of pulled pork.

Ladling Scott's BBQ pimento mac n cheese at at Harpoon Harry, Surry Hills
Ladling the pimento mac n cheese

Out the back in the kitchen, chefs are churning out tubs of Carolina slaw and pimento mac n cheese.

Pork cracklings at Scott's BBQ by Rodney Scott at Harpoon Harry, Surry Hills
Pork cracklings

And then there are the trays of pork crackling, adding a mouthful of crunch to every platter.

Scott's BBQ pulled pork, pork cracklings, Carolina slaw and pimento mac n cheese at Harpoon Harry, Surry Hills
Scott's BBQ Plate $25
Rodney's pulled pork, pork cracklings, Devils white bread, Carolina slaw and pimento mac n cheese

The BBQ plate is a generous meal for one hungry person that includes pulled pork, pork crackling, Devils white bread, Carolina slaw and pimento mac n cheese. The Devils white bread is another classic Scotts BBQ trademark, eschewing the usual corn bread for thick slices of soft and fluffy white bread. It's ideal as a sandwich maker or for mopping up sauce.

Scott's BBQ pulled pork from whole hog barbecued for 12 hours at Harpoon Harry, Surry Hills
Pulled pork from whole hog barbecued for 12 hours

The pulled pork is incredibly soft and tender, like a super slow roasted pork that just falls apart. There's more texture here too, unlike the indistinguishable mush of a lot of other pulled porks I've encountered. Many of the pork hunks come apart in long strands. Scott calls it "pork spaghetti".

Scott's BBQ Carolina slaw at Harpoon Harry, Surry Hills
Carolina slaw

The Carolina slaw is terrific too, a light and crunchy salad of red cabbage, white cabbage and carrot that is lightly tangy with vinegar.

Scott's BBQ pimento mac n cheese at Harpoon Harry, Surry Hills
Pimento mac n cheese

And we dig the pimento mac n cheese, doused in lashings of cheese sauce and dotted with little squares of red capsicum.

Rodney Scott of Scott's BBQ at Harpoon Harry, Surry Hills
Rodney Scott

I can't wait to one day visit Scott's BBQ in South Carolina. This was a tasty little preview!

Anthony Puharich, Rodney Scott and Morgan McGlone at Harpoon Harry, Surry Hills
The team: Anthony Puharich, Rodney Scott and Morgan McGlone

Rodney Scott is back at Harpoon Harry today (Monday 16 May) for one last time. Barbecue starts at 6pm but I'd definitely get there early to queue. If you need any consolation about waiting, you'd probably spend longer checking in for that next flight to South Carolina!

Rodney Scott of Scott's BBQ at Harpoon Harry, Surry Hills

Rodney Scott's BBQ will be available at Harpoon Harry on Monday 16 May from 6pm until sold out.

Harpoon Harry 
40-44 Wentworth Avenue, Surry Hills, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8262 8800


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/16/2016 02:07:00 am


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Bar Machiavelli, Rushcutters Bay

Setting the table at Bar Machiavelli in Rushcutters Bay

If you like pasta, you'll love Bar Machiavelli. The menu is all about pasta with a fork-twirling bonanza of at least nine different pastas on the menu, all made in-house. Spaghetti? Pappardelle? Gnocchetti? Tagliatelle? It's all here, plus a changing ravioli of the day.

Co-owner Paola Toppi (of Machiavelli Restaurant and Sciue Sciue in Double Bay) has proclaimed it as a "pastaria" that focuses on homemade pasta as well as antipasto.

Dining room and kitchen at Bar Machiavelli in Rushcutters Bay
Over-sized etchings on the dining room wall

Bar Machiavelli is the third tenant to take up residence on the site after remarkably short-lived stints by 10 Nield Avenue and then Rushcutters. Popolo is actually located behind the restaurant, on McLachlan Avenue.

The cavernous 160-seater dining room is a throwback to its former life as a tyre factory. Exposed bricks and a view of the soaring rooftop give a grand sense of scale. The giant walls of this Heritage-listed building provide the ideal backdrop for a show reel of Hollywood movie scene projections. An over-sized etching on the kitchen wall frames a view of the pass. At times it feels like you're dining in an outdoor movie theatre.

The dining room is a full house on a Wednesday night with a noticeably older crowd, presumably loyal customers from Restaurant Machiavelli.

Complimentary rosetta bread rolls at Bar Machiavelli in Rushcutters Bay
Complimentary bread rolls

Complimentary rosetta bread rolls, still warm from the oven, are a thoughtful welcome. Don't expect butter but do go to town with the extra virgin olive oil pourer and saucer of salt flakes on the table.

Macario retro chinotto at Bar Machiavelli in Rushcutters Bay
Macario retro chinotto

The cocktail list is the alcoholic playground for drinks master Matteo Bekleziz (ex-The Barber Shop, Rockpool Bar & Grill and Palmer & Co) who has designed a barrel-aged negroni and grappa cocktail, a tiramisu martini and will be offering a changing Bellini flavour every month. I'm still in cold-recovery mode when we dine and stick with the non-alcoholic chinotto - tick to the classic retro packaging.

Deep fried calamari at Bar Machiavelli in Rushcutters Bay
Calamari fritti $24

There are six antipasto options to choose from but we skip the cured meats, insalate caprese and tuna tartare in favour of deep fried calamari.

Homemade tartare sauce with calamari fritti at Bar Machiavelli in Rushcutters Bay
Homemade tartare sauce

The tumble of deep fried calamari is impressively tender, best anointed with fresh lemon juice and a generous dunk into the zingy homemade tartare sauce.

Radicchio and fennel salad at Bar Machiavelli in Rushcutters Bay
Radicchio and fennel salad $12

We also order a responsible serve of vitamins with the radicchio and fennel salad, a small mountain of bitter leaves and anise-scented crunch that seems to go on forever (even between the four of us we can't finish it).

Tagliatelle boscaiola at Bar Machiavelli in Rushcutters Bay
Tagliatelle boscaiola with button mushrooms, parmesan and cream $28

There are three secondi available when we dine (oven-roasted spatchcock, pan-fried scotch fillet and crumbed King George whiting $36-$39) but we are all about the pasta tonight.

Tagliatelle boscaiola is a celebration of carbs-and-cream, slippery strands of pasta hiding a forest of finely shaved mushrooms. My only quibble was the expectation of bacon even though this wasn't listed on the menu description. I did think this was missing a salty hit.

Each pasta appears to come in two variations: one cream-based and one tomato-based. We ended up serendipitously/deliberately choosing all cream options. The other tagliatelle option was Bolognese.

Potato gnocchi with gorgonzola at Bar Machiavelli in Rushcutters Bay
Gnocchetti di patate with gorgonzola dolce and a creamy sage sauce $28

We choose the potato gnocchetti with gorgonzola over the Napoletana version. These little pillows of potato pasta are soft and fluffy although there aren't many noticeable ridges on these mini gnocchi shapes. The gorgonzola dolce is mild enough for most blue cheese averse diners, and although I was secretly hoping for a stronger blue cheese kick, it does mean the dish doesn't overwhelm your palate.

Chestnut pappardelle with a porcini and madeira sauce at Bar Machiavelli in Rushcutters Bay
Chestnut pappardelle with a porcini and madeira sauce $34

But my standout highlight of the night has to be the chestnut pappardelle. It's an easy choice over the pappardelle with duck ragout. Silky wide ribbons of chestnut flour pappardelle are a sexy carriage for the incredibly fragrant porcini and madeira sauce. The sweet nuttiness of the pasta works so well with the intense mushroom sauce.

I'd return for this dish alone. And I'd eat it all by myself.

Tiramisu at Bar Machiavelli in Rushcutters Bay
Tiramisu $15

We finish with the tiramisu, not the hefty wedge carved from a rustic trayload that I'd hoped for, but assembled in a glass. The top portion is delicious but the bottom layer of savoiardi fingers are dry and insufficiently soaked with coffee.

Creme brulee at Bar Machiavelli in Rushcutters Bay
Creme brulee $15

The creme brulee is textbook perfect though, served with a bonus scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Creme brulee at Bar Machiavelli in Rushcutters Bay
Inside the creme brulee 

We crack apart the thin rink of toffee to reveal a quivering decadence of rich and smooth custard. It's a satisfying finish to our evening.

The enormity of the dining room makes this a good option for couples or large groups, as sound dissipation means conversations can still be heard without the need to shout. Service was a little distracted when we visited, including protracted difficulty getting the attention of waitstaff, but its strong and diverse pasta menu is what would bring me back. I'd be hitting the cocktails next time too.

Bar Machiavelli in Rushcutters Bay


Bar Machiavelli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bar Machiavelli
10 Neild Avenue, Rushcutters Bay, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9357 7750

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 6pm-11pm (bar open til 12am)
Saturday 5pm-11pm (bar open til 12am)
Closed Sundays


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/11/2016 01:22:00 am



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