Acre Eatery, Camperdown

Change of seasons here in Sydney means crazy change of weather too. The last four weeks were just wet, wet, wet. Last weekend was no exception – our usual Sunday morning routine of gym, brunch, and markets were dampened by the non-stop rain (also it was doona weather so I was feeling extra lazy to exercise). I’ve always wanted to give Acre a visit and I thought, it was the perfect lazy Sunday to have a lazy autumn brunch.

Acre was nothing short of beautiful. The grounds are surrounded by rows after rows of fresh produce, herbs, plants, flowers, and with chickens clucking all around all thanks to their partner Pocket City Farms. There’s a make-shift container cafe at the front as you walk in, an outdoor al fresco eating area, and the beautiful, expansive indoor restaurant. What the whole initiative is trying to achieve is a”closed loop” of composting, recycling, and reducing water waste. Nothing processed, artificial, and commercial in the food and drinks they serve here – everything is organic, natural, sustainable, ethical and local. I love the idea that the food I’m eating is not only absolutely delicious, but also comes from land that is farmed with love.

From the Weekend Garden Breakfast menu: acre pit smoked beans, sourdough with sausage and poached eggs
From the Weekend Garden Breakfast menu: acre breakfast plate, prosciutto, macadamia hummus, pickles, chutney, soft boiled egg, sourdough

Acre Eatery
31a Mallett Street Camperdown NSW
02 9194 3100
Open Wednesday – Sunday (closed Monday – Tuesday)

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Meet Gerard, Alexandria

I squealed with delight when I found out that ex West Juliett head chef Sarah McWilliam opened a new cafe with ex The Counter owner Mariella Traina. I had sweet delusions of awesome coffee, beautiful breakfasts, and gorgeous reincarnations of that salty chocolate chip cookie (best cookie in the universe, in my humble opinion). One Saturday morning, with hungry stomachs and a nose for that first drip, we made the short trip from one side of Sydney to the other (ok, from Pyrmont to Alexandria…), found ample parking at Gerard Street, and zeroed in on that unmistakable Sydney cafe scene: chairs and tables flooding out the cafe, and a colourful combination of people, children, and dogs eagerly waiting for a table, their coffee, or just hanging out.

I love the interiors at Meet Gerard… a well balanced, clean, light atmosphere buzzing with people, grinding coffee, chitchat, and clattering of plates and utensils. The food is even better: an odd mix match of good old brunch favourites, with exciting, not-your-average breakfast food that somehow magically works together (I’m looking at you, Milk & Honey yoghurt panna cotta! Why are you so amazing?).

You go there to feed, to catch up with friends, to enjoy the coffee and cakes. It’s my kind of place, and one that is already becoming a Sydney favourite.

‘Milk & Honey’: a breakfast story by Meet Gerard. Yoghurt panna cotta, seasonal berries, honeyed puffed rice, house granola
‘Milk & Honey’: a breakfast story by Meet Gerard. Yoghurt panna cotta, seasonal berries, honeyed puffed rice, house granola
Scrambled eggs with chorizo, avocado, toast
Scrambled eggs with chorizo, avocado, toast
Smashed avo, pickled chilli, feta, lime, coriander, yuzu sesame, with a side of poached eggs and crispy bacon
Smashed avo, pickled chilli, feta, lime, coriander, yuzu sesame, with a side of poached eggs and crispy bacon (this is my absolute favourite!)

Meet Gerard
http://www.meetgerard.com.au/
54 Henderson Rd Alexandria
02 8021 7211
Open Mondays to Saturdays 7am – 4pm

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Philippine Food Festival, Shangri-la Sydney

Spring means new beginnings, stripping the sleeping, dormant self, an awakening.

Cheers to longer days, sunshine, trips to the beach, and quality time with lovely friends!
Cheers to longer days, sunshine, trips to the beach, and quality time with lovely friends!

And so, I come bursting out of my winter slumber and into the spring sunshine. The last few winter months have been cold, hectic, brutal, and yet the hiatus was much needed. I feel revitalised and energised (and yes, thanks to some flu-fighting medications, lots of Vitamin C, and a newfound sense of mindfulness).

What better way to come back to the blogging scene than to feature a fabulous Filipino food festival at Cafe Mix in Shangri-la Sydney? Thanks to the teams both here in Sydney and in Shangri-la Makati, Philippines, we were treated to an epic banquet of food, glorious Filipino food. There’s nothing more nostalgic than going back to your roots – think rice, pork, fish, vegetables, coconut, ube (purple taro), soups, mango, kakanin (sweet dessert rice cakes), and the star of the show: L E C H O N.

Roast beef and Cebu lechon
Chicharon - two whole bilaos!
Chicharon – two whole bilaos!

For one week only, Cafe Mix at Shangri-la Sydney is dedicating its buffet menu to everything Filipino, thanks to the dream team of chefs from Shangri-la Makati: Rico Celdo Venzon, Athena Blanche Tan Oropesa and Erma Balaquiao Palanca. I felt back in the Philippines again and rightly so… tastes, smells, and sights of the Philippines were everywhere. Dish upon dish upon dish were like hugs from the mother country, and it was so welcoming, so nostalgic, and oh so delicious.

The Philippine Food Festival is presented in partnership with Philippine Airlines and The Philippine Department of Tourism. To honour the 70 years of collaboration between Australia and the Philippines, Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney will donate $2 for every person who dines at the festival to Operation Restore Hope.

For bookings, call (02) 9250 6000 or email dine.slsn@shangri-la.com. For more information, visit www.shangrila.com/sydney.

Thanks to Shangri-la Sydney for the generous lunch at Cafe Mix to try the scrumptious Philippine Food Festival. Trish and Mr J dined as guests of Shangri-la Sydney.

Entree and side dishes: lotus seed, pusit, grilled eggplant, macaroni, tuna
Entree and side dishes: lotus seed, pusit, grilled eggplant, macaroni, tuna
Entree and side dishes: seaweed and bamboo shoots, embutido (pork loaf)
Entree and side dishes: seaweed and bamboo shoots, embutido (pork loaf)
Steamed fish
Steamed fish
Pochero of mixed seafood
Pochero of mixed seafood
Grilled mixed seafood
Grilled mixed seafood
Ginataang alimasag (crab with coconut cream)
Ginataang alimasag (crab with coconut cream)
Sisig - freshly made from the sisig station
Sisig – freshly made from the sisig station
Pakbet - mixed vegetables with shrimp paste
Pakbet – mixed vegetables with shrimp paste
Cebu lechon - boneless roast pork with the crackliest crackling, flavoured with herbs and spices and meat that is oh so tender. Don't forget the Mang Tomas sauce!
Cebu lechon – boneless roast pork with the crackliest crackling, flavoured with herbs and spices and meat that is oh so tender. Don’t forget the Mang Tomas sauce!
Calderetang dila ng baka - ox tongue
Calderetang dila ng baka – ox tongue
Chicken adobo
Chicken adobo
Kare kare - ox tail with peanut sauce, and with a side of shrimp paste
Kare kare – ox tail with peanut sauce, and with a side of shrimp paste
Desserts: leche flan - creme caramel
Desserts: leche flan – creme caramel
Brazo de Mercedes
Brazo de Mercedes
The dessert table
The dessert table
Banana turon
Banana turon
The halo halo station
The halo halo station
Ube ice cream for the halo halo
Ube ice cream for the halo halo
Halo-halo: mixed sweets of macapuno, kaong, red beans, sweet plantains, jellies, topped with shaved ice, ube ice cream, ube halaya, leche flan, and drizzled with evaporated milk
Halo-halo: mixed sweets of macapuno, kaong, red beans, sweet plantains, jellies, topped with shaved ice, ube ice cream, ube halaya, leche flan, and drizzled with evaporated milk

The well loved San Miguel Beer
The well loved San Miguel Beer
Tropical Maganda drink - similar to pina colada, but with rum, Malibu, pineapple and coconut cream. The beach in a glass... yum!
Tropical Maganda drink – similar to pina colada, but with rum, Malibu, pineapple and coconut cream. The beach in a glass… yum!

The Philippine Food Festival is on until Sunday 25th September 2016 at Cafe Mix, Shangri-la Sydney. The buffet lunch is available from noon to 2:30 p.m. at $57 per person.  The buffet dinner is available from 6 to 10 p.m. at $82 per person.  For bookings, call (02) 9250 6000 or email dine.slsn@shangri-la.com.

Thank you to chefs Rico, Athena and Erma from Shangri-la Makati and Madeleine of Shangri-la Sydney, with fellow bloggers Anna of Adobo Down Under and Jen of Sweet and Yummie. Oh and our guests Anna's friend and Mr J!
Thank you to chefs Rico, Athena and Erma from Shangri-la Makati and Deane of Shangri-la Sydney, with fellow bloggers Anna of Adobo Down Under and Jen of Sweet and Yummie. Oh and our guests Anna’s friend and Mr J!
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