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Archive for the ‘Australian Food & Wine’ Category

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NSW Winter Weekender | Cultured Canowindra


Suffering from a decidedly soggy case of the sniffles we bypassed the ambitious original plan to let Brünhilde (the beloved KTM 900 mortorbike) stretch her wheels and opted to hire a car. We got a pretty good deal through Thrifty with a few insurance upgrades thrown in and a 15% discount thanks to my membership with NRMA (just book online to reap the rewards, otherwise it’s 10% over the phone) and roared over the Blue Mountains in a nifty Suzuki Swift.

Our destination was Canowindra. Only 4 hours from Sydney, Canowindra has the misfortune of a perpetually mispronounced appellation. Out-of-towners are spotted instantly for asking; “How far to Cann-oh-win-dra?” Where locals and those in-the-know realise that it should be: Ca-nouwn-dra. (Obvs.)


We pulled into Orange to breakfast at Factory Espresso. This mod-oz brunch spot would be right at home in Newtown or Prahran. Housed in an old mechanical workshop, it is complete with a coffee roastery out the back and they serve house-brewed blends such as The Godfather and Decaf Redux which you can try as a syphon, cold drip and pour over coffee experience. I had the tapioca porridge, he had the eggs.

Slightly intimidated by the “bookings only” policy some local wineries enforce for cellar-door tastings, we found Canobolas-Smith (between Orange and Canowindra) for a taste of the local fruits of the vine. Murray Smith, I later learnt, was one of the early pioneers of the wine-growing scene in Orange. He’s been at it since the 1980’s but has kept the place a friendly, hands-on operation. The viticulturist amused us with tales of the Australian wine tasting scene while we sipped his spectacular chardonnay. I bought a bottle for $40 which left me feeling a little robbed but it did taste great.

The superstar standout treat of the trip was pulling up into Belubula Cottage  , overlooking the Belubula Valley, just outside town. This place was recommended to me by the owners of taste Canowindra but my expectations were not high, so imagine my surprise and delight when the manageress, Marg, emailed me asking my favourite foods for breakfast! I should have known then I was in for something special.

We entered the little self-contained cottage to cosy heating and a kitchen full of treats like marshmallows and drinking chocolate, freshly bakes bread and butter, a stack full of Country Style magazines and bath salts just waiting to be sprinkled into the clawed bathtub which overlooks the bucolic vista outside. The place was heaven and redefines country hospitality. Marg had thought of absolutely everything, from plush robes hanging in the bedroom (think about it, when was the last time a mid-range hotel gave you that?) to cooking spices to go with the eggs and bacon she popped in the fridge. I have not stayed anywhere like this for years and couldn’t recommend it more highly.

Then, finally, we arrived (via the local, and only, cabbie in town) at Taste. A cultural hub in the rolling hills of the Central West, this is the place to taste the region’s best wines, enjoy gourmet food, arts and music, Bob and Marg Craven have created a perfect little niche. We had booked tickets to see the Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier show and dinner they were hosting, and we weren’t disappointed. Treated to the best seats in the house, we listened to the pair sing and play their way through their new album Stories of Ghosts . Conway’s acerbic humour and sarcasm are nicely counter-weighted by Willy’s chill-factor but they are both a very entertaining pair. Washed down with a local red, we were escorted back home by our friend the taxi man, and curled up in our cast iron bed to fall asleep listening to the rain gently drum the roof.

Story by Estelle Pigot

The Gourmet King Unlocks His Treasures


josh rea

The world’s finest high-end foods and spices once attainable only by top chefs are now available to the public. The opening of retail store Gourmet Life in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs sees products used by such names as Quay’s Peter Gilmore, Est.’s Peter Doyle and Aria’s Matt Moran in the grasp of every lover of fine food. Brainchild of importer Josh Rea, Gourmet Life is an Aladdin’s cave of culinary and gourmet delights set to change the scope of the city’s food scene.

Josh has unearthed more than 1000 unique products to grace his store, from Rome’s oldest coffee to Europe’s most sought-after fresh almonds and hazelnuts that burst with genuine flavor. But his piece de resistance are his ranges of the world’s finest black caviar, truffles and wild mushrooms – each the largest of any in Australia and available only through his newly opened outlet. Indeed, nowhere else in the country can such an extraordinary range of produce be found.

Over the past decade Josh became renowned through Sydney’s leading restaurants as the supplier of rare, high quality products starting with vanilla and saffron. His dedication to excellence saw him succeed where others had failed: for instance he was the first to bring fresh porcini mushrooms – the king of their kind – into Australia and he remains the country’s sole importer of the delicate morsels. “We nailed the quality aspect of importing fresh porcini and it went gangbusters with all the leading restaurants,” Josh recalls.

 But the price of this success meant Josh’s home-based business took over his life. “We couldn’t fit all the hazelnuts in the hallway of my house anymore”, he says. “We had Mediterranean sea salt stacked to the roof. There was no restaurant we weren’t supplying.” The only way forward was to find a willing retailer to taking on his highly delicate produce, but when this proved impossible, Josh took matters into his own hands and Gourmet Life was born.

It is little wonder that Josh’s dedication has seen him become Sydney’s newest and best fine food purveyor.  Only at Gourmet Life can customers buy such delicacies as the world’s only sustainable caviar, Mottra of Latvia, which is gently milked from the sturgeon before the fish is returned to the water. The store’s hazelnuts are the world’s most sought-after, hand-picked and sorted by an Italian mother and daughter team using methods passed down through generations. Gourmet Life also sells rare wild French asparagus from the Pyrenees Mountains, harvested straight after its month-long growing period, as well as chocolate deemed the finest in the world. Josh has just become the sole purveyor of leading French foie gras brand Castaing, a favourite with Michelin star chefs. Gourmet Life is also the only supplier of beluga caviar in Australia.


Some of the treats available at Gourmet Life include:

  • Rome’s oldest coffee label, Sant’ Eustachio
  • Jams crafted by 2 Michelin star Chef Moreno Cedroni presented in hand-made stackable Venetian glass jars. Varieties include strawberry lemon thyme, and tangerine and organic fig with violets
  • French spice range Terre Exotique and its unique varieties including Yuzu zest and Espelette chilli
  • A L’Olivier olive oils, chutneys, pastas, mustards and vinegars
  • The globe’s sexiest bottles of olive oil from Spanish producer Pepa Olivar
  • Hazelnuts from Nocciole d’Etite, Europe’s most renowned producer of the variety.
  • Homewares from Galateo and Friends
  • Chocolates by Catalonian artisan chocolatier Xavier Mor


Gourmet Life is far more than just a shopping or browsing experience. Each brand has a story and staff can take customers on a sample tasting through the store, explaining the background of each so buyers fully appreciate products’ unique qualities. Prices are affordable, too, ranging from well under $10. Black caviar costs from $4.50 a gram.

The Hub House Diner – Deep-fried Dreaming

The Hub House Diner – Dulwich Hill – Restaurant Review


Fat has never been so photogenic since locals rushed the doors of The Hub House Diner which opened in Dulwich Hill last month. The crowd-pleasing Yankee diner cuisine has food bloggers and Instagrammers snapping the golden, mouth-watering morsels and singing high praised ‘hallelujahs’ since the burger joint came to town. Dean and Daniella Papas opened with head chef Joseph Sergio who is still tweaking his fried fantasia but has essentially nailed the ultimate ‘dude food’ menu.

The staff are young, fun and friendly which shouldn’t bear mentioning but makes a mighty impact on a seasoned Sydney diner these days. Daunted by a mouth-watering menu of burgers ($15 – $18) we went for the house plank ($22) and the pulled pork sliders to share in the spirit of Valentine’s Day. The waitress offered us wise counsel when it came to our choices, whipped our beers out to us before we could bat an eyelid, very quickly followed by our meal.

The sliders were not as thrilling as we had hoped. It is true that they had to gently break the news to us that the cute little brioche buns had sold out and instead the chef cobbled together a slider-esque attempt by quartering a larger bun. They were a bit dry and more about the bun rather than the so-called pulled pork.  The saving grace was the share plank which had splodges of American-style mustard, the house chilli sauce, coleslaw, creamy aioli, a steel bucket of buffalo wings, zucchini fritters and popcorn chicken.

Underneath a fantastic, tooth-crackingly crunchy batter were plump pieces of delicious chicken (we had heard a rumour that the owners’ father ran the local BBQ chicken place… but this remains unconfirmed) and the zucchini fritters with orange gel and sour cream were tasty little examples of the rare possibility of a vegetable inspired heart attack. Mopping up the creamy lashings of dip with salty fries and licking our oily fingers with the same immense satisfaction that everyone else in the warm-glow restaurant had on their faces. It seems the Papas’ are on the pulse when it comes to people’s demand for gourmet grease and the rise of ‘anti-health’ cuisine in Oz.

They’re getting a lot of things right at this place. Dulwich Hill hasn’t stopped raving about the coffee since the first day of trade. Barista Nick Xipakis serves Di Bella coffee with a secret twist that people are loving. His specialities include the Cold Drip Espresso Blend on the Rocks and his ¾ Latte.  If coffee’s not your thing, maybe you could be tempted by the artery clogging indulgence that has set the social media mentions afire; the peanut butter and banana smoothie.


The Hub House Diner

404 New Canterbury Rd

Dulwich Hill, NSW 2203

More The Merrier Share Their Hot Tips For Sydney Summer Dining

Christopher Dair and Zae Greenwood launched the very unique  More the Merrier website last year which allows users to plan an entire social event online.  Without having the hassle of juggling venues, the site gives you access to information on the best restaurants and activities which best suit groups of six or more people.

With suggestions that stretch from divorce parties to buck’s nights, dinner and ghost tours, botox brunches and beer masterclasses; More the Merrier is making expert socialites out of us all and Two Flat Whites chats to the innovators behind the site to find out what these merry events planners have in-store for a Sydney summer.

Q1:  How did you come up with the idea of MTM? 

It can be very stressful finding reliable group-friendly venues and experiences. Our aim was to create a platform that made organising great group occasions easy. With backgrounds in Events and the Entertainment industry, we were very familiar with the need to find unique group get-together options and the necessary information required when planning large get-togethers. We want MTM to be Sydney’s go to for group occasions.

Q2: What do you think about the Sydney scene for social dining compared to the rest of the world?

Sydney has plenty of wonderful social dining option. While it may not have the history or variety that some other super cities like London or New York have, Sydney has the climate and views for exceptional al fresco dining experiences.

Q3: What would be your ultimate, dream group occasion?

The most important component of any group occasion is friends, and then it’s a venue or experience that is group-friendly to create memories that last forever.

We recently talked about a ‘Hook, Line and Sinker’ experience that would have you enjoy a day out on a private fishing charter, then to finish you would pull into a harbour side restaurant where your catch of the day would be prepared by the chef for a seafood dinner like no other.

MTMs Hot Tips for Group Gatherings this Summer in Sydney

  • Shed the winter layers and get out into Sydney’s great outdoors – pop up picnic anyone?
  • Don’t let your group get stuck in the dreaded social rut of only attending parties and activities that are on your doorstep. You don’t become worldly by hanging around the same-old postcode.
  • Look for dining options that have the share factor; it’s a more social, relaxed approach to group dining
  • Get active and think of unique ways to get together with friends. It doesn’t need to be someone’s 30th to jump out of a plane or attend a dance class

Criniti’s at Finger Wharf, Woolloomooloo

If you’re well-adjusted and grown-up enough to look past the fact that sushi feels a bit wrong in an Italian restaurant, then you’re going to love the latest offering from the CRINITI’S empire.

With established restaurants in Parramatta, Castle Hill and Darling Harbour (and another set to open in Manly next year), they launched their piece de resistance at Finger Wharf, Woolloomooloo last week; with much fanfare, good cheer and ever-flowing Veuve Clicquot (always a winner).

Criniti’s will rev things up on the wharf scene, which has become a complacent locale for long liquid lunches enjoyed by radio shock jocks, politicians and WAGs.  With Ducati motorcycles suspended over the bar like a Calabrian coat of arms, twisted exhaust pipes and Ferrari engines decorating the space; you quickly get a sense that they are finding their way into the men of Sydney’s wallets and hearts via more than just their stomachs.

Head chef, Jason McCauley, will serve up classical Southern Italian fare – soul food like meatballs, Milanese-style crumbed lamb cutlets, pizzas and tiramisus – that will delight the gents and for their carb-conscious dinner dates, a selection of sashimi and sushi. We shall see if this combination works out as brilliantly as the hype suggests (there’s nothing worse than when ‘fusion’ becomes confusion).

The launch party was quite the society gathering last week. Hosted by the wonderful Melissa Hoyer (of, she interviewed a steady line-up of society’s bold and beautiful. Stepping off yachts, off designer motorcycles and out of cabs, the intimidating sight of these rich young things on a balmy spring night could chill the hearts of the baby boomers dining in the restaurants next door… or was that just the frosty draft off the Absolut ice-sculpture?

The Criniti’s Woolloomooloo playground is open for wining and dining, earmarked by this blog as the place to be this Summer. Enjoy, you rascals.


We Need To Talk About Your Chocolate Problem

3pm in offices and kitchens across the country, the frenzied hunt begins. Yet the traditional scramble for the afternoon chocolate fix has left many wanting these days. Now that we are more health conscious and allergy-ridden than ever, the hope for an organic and healthy chocolate option has been out of reach.

Until now. Lovingly manufactured in Melbourne, Pana Chocolate proclaims we should ‘ *heart* our insides, *heart* the earth.’ Not that I had time for that hippy claptrap when I first lay eyes on the pretty, glinty, recycled packaging at a fancy green grocers yesterday. I was too busy imagining the delights that lay within.

The Dieline  claims that the purpose of the packaging was to make people who didn’t know what they were grabbing for – to still get grabby and want to try it. Worked for me. But designer brownie-points anyway for the gorgeous recyclable foil, soy based pantone inks, 100% recycled board and eco-friendly, rustic feel.

That’s not all they do differently at Pana, their chocolate is handmade, raw and not heated above 42 degrees to keep all the nutrients in their purest form. It’s organic, vegan, dairy free, gluten free, low GI, has no refined sugars, 0% soy and 100% out of this world.

Pana Chocolate is jam-packed with scrumptious ingredients like cacao solids, virgin cacao butter, dark agave nectar, raw cacao powder, virgin coconut oil, wild carob, cinnamon and pure Himalayan crystal salt (yep, you just read that).

It has a fudgy, crumbly, rich texture that lets you taste the love these good people have poured into their product so that everyone, no matter what their dietary restrictions might be, can indulge in something world class and mind-blowingly delicious at when the 3pm munchies hit home.

Green Tea, the Australian Way!


Almost every day, lovers of tea and coffee wait for their next caffeine fix to get through the day, and if you are like a certain friend of mine, then you might just have a huge crush on imported Japanese green tea. In fact, it’s more like an infatuation, as they carry their own green tea around with them all the time.

So after watching a Landline episode on green tea that is now grown in Victoria and also shipped back to Japan, I thought what better than to purchase some for them as a gift for their graduation.

One of the companies mentioned on the show was The Alpine Tea Company, which is located on a “family farm in the upper reaches of the picturesque Kiewa Valley” and sells all sorts of Green Teas, from a first harvest to a roasted green tea.

After a quick online search I found their website and it was very easy to make a purchase online. No need to sign up, it will create an account for you at the end, making the whole process painless.

…3 tins of tea later and my friend is a convert, spruiking the quality of the green tea to all and sundry. So now you don’t have to pay $50 for 100 grams of fancy imported green tea, and you can support Australian farmers and have great tea at the same time.

So if you are looking for quality locally (Australian) produced green tea, then check out the Alpine Tea Company Website and keep it local! 

Article by Zag Zaggart

Electrolux Appetite for Excellence 2011 national winners announced

ikoniThe Electrolux Appetite for Excellence 2011 national winners were announced at an exclusive reception held at the Electrolux Showcase, Sydney, attended by Australia’s leading chefs, restaurateurs and food industry luminaries.

Perth born Shane Osborn, Australia’s first Michelin starred chef, officiated as guest of honour joining Luke Mangan (Awards co-founder, Glass, The Palace, Salt Tokyo) and Head of Electrolux Major Appliances Asia Pacific Gunilla Nordstrom to announce the winners.

The ‘who’s who’ of the culinary world came out to celebrate what is widely recognized as the most prestigious awards in the industry showcasing a hotbed of Australia’s junior talent.  Guests included:   Peter Gilmore (Quay), Jill Dupleix and Terry Durack, Christine Manfield (Universal), Philip Johnson (Ecco), food commentator Lyndey Milan.

The 2011 Electrolux Appetite for Excellence winners across three award categories are:

Electrolux Young Chef
Winner:     Richard Ousby, Quay
Runner Up: Victor Liong, Marque Restaurant

Electrolux Young Waiter
Winner:     James Sexton, Sepia Restaurant & Wine Bar
Runner Up: Anthony Moore, Bentley Restaurant & Bar
Judges Acknowledgement: Glenn Mill, Jacques Reymond

Electrolux Young Restaurateur
Winner:     Clint Hillery, Time to Vino, Sydney
Highly Commended:  Belinda Stapleton, Restaurant Botanica, Hunter Valley.

Nonna Maria’s Place Restaurant – food review

Nestled away on Phillip Street in Parramatta is a homely and tasty Italian restaurant Nonna Maria’s Place. New owners took over a few months ago and have turned this restaurant into a must try!

If you’re looking for famous home-made family recipes deliciously prepared the traditional Italian way, then you will not be disappointed. The menu is simple and yet it offers something for everyone. Why not try the smooth Penne Napolitana, or if Spaghetti Bolognese is more your style then jump on board, you are guaranteed to lick your plate clean. If you feel like something more meaty, then the mouth watering Chicken Schnitzel served with fresh lemon may be the way to go or for a hearty meal. I recommend the scrumptious Osso Buco. The sides are enticing whether it’s the Minestrone Soup, Italian salad, or Garlic bread to accompany the meal.

The restaurant itself is warm and cosy. Dom, who isn’t short of a yarn, makes you feel welcome. The decor is authentic and reminds me of a little restaurant tucked away in the country side of north Italy. The prices are unbelievable, mains under $12.00. That’s right, no misprint here – not only is the food great, the environment friendly, but the prices are “cheaper than chips”. To top it off, each customer receives complimentary fresh bread and a jug of homemade lemonade, made the old fashion way!

So what are you waiting for? Whether you want to dine in or take away, you will not be disappointed when you try this food the way your Mum would make it!.. (if she was Italian)

What: Nonna Maria’s Place Restaurant
Where: 56 Phillip Street, Parramatta
Phone: 02 9689 1112
Mains: Under $12.00

Our Family Table – Julie Goodwin

From Australia’s first MasterChef comes the Pink Ribbon Edition of the phenomenal bestseller, Our Family Table. Support Breast Cancer research ith $1 from every copy sold going to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Our Family Table is a mouth-watering collection of recipes from Julie and her family and features a blank chapter at the back for you to add the recipes from your own family’s table.

The mother from the Central Coast that captured the heart of Australia brings you home cooking at its finest. From breakfast to dinner parties, Christmas to camping, sweet treats to preserves – this book is set to become a permanent fi xture on your cookbook stand.

Also featuring a foreword by Margaret Fulton. You can get your hands on a copy in May!

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