Satellite will keep you in orbit

Satellite
80 Wilson Street
Newtown
02 9557 8698

Reviewer: Beck

Sunday mornings should be spent in quiet spaces where the only thing that gives you a jolt out of your hangover is a good, strong coffee. Not so in Satellite, where James Brown not only gets on up from the hi-fi, but also from every glass and concrete surface of the room. As do the ever-escalating voices of the clientele as they try to be heard by the person sitting 30cm away from them.

Even though the folks at Satellite have done good work at arranging a very ‘Newtown’ space – a homely open plan kitchen and seating area – it needs a soft surface. Maybe a rug. Or a carpet. Or an upholstered chair. Every noise feels like it’s chattering and rattling triple-fold through my delicate psyche. It’s probably not the perfect time to start thinking about the contents of this review.

However a well-timed delivery of coffee and lemon mint frappe puts me in a better mood. It comes out lickety-split, which is lucky really because the food doesn’t. Satellite is chock-full to the hilt of Newtown’s finest, but when the food comes out 30 minutes later it is lukewarm. How does that work?

And while I’m on my soap-box, when I politely request some salt I am waved away by the waiter who points to a pinch bowl full of Saxa table salt. What the…? Is it 1950??

Despite their temperature and the prospect of a cooking-salt-induced infarction, the dishes are actually rather good. I’ve chosen the French omelette with smoked salmon, ricotta, caper pesto and caramelised onion. The rye bread is as thick and chewy as it should be, but I’m interested to note that the relationship between capers and caramelised onion is much like that of Oscar Madison and Felix Unger – odd.

My breakfast pals have chosen the house baked-beans and the fried potatoes. House baked-beans are deliciously rich and complex with big Italian flavours. Fried potatoes (a fancy sort of hash) are by far the winner – sliced baked potato, kalamata, fresh parsley, lemon slices and cannelini beans fried together, glossed with extra virgin and served on that wonderful rye. An inspired dish.

In all, Satellite’s food is great, but it’s a place I’d suggest is suitable for taking socially sheltered relatives or friends that you don’t really have the desire or energy to converse with. Otherwise make sure you take earplugs and a good book – you’re likely to get through a few chapters.

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Introducing eatSydney reviews

This blog is about food in general, and the restaurants and produce of Sydney in particular. eatSydney gets about. The pursuit of good food is relentless, and where ever we go, we aim to take you with us.

Here we introduce eatSydney reviews where we will act as that great food-loving friend you wish you had before that disastrous first date at a greasy Chinese, or nightmare birthday party where your 25 guests waited three hours for a bowl of dip.

eatSydney will review under the following categories: Fine dining, Party time and Cheap date.

As always, we would love to hear your suggestions on where to try. And if you’re not already, follow us on Twitter.

Meet the reviewers

Our small (that’s two) review team will be sampling the delights of Sydney and regularly reporting back, either individually or as a team. You’ll see the author’s name (or names) at the top of each review.

Jess

Jess’s love of food was evident from the beginning. She was born with a full set of teeth. With an adventurous baby boomer mother churning out the stirfries and father who loved the exoticness of the local Chinese, who could stop her really?

By the time she was legally allowed to enhance food with wine, she had set her path to becoming a full blown lush.

With a love of eating at home and hosting dinner parties, Jess considers food to be very much an extension of love and friends.

Naturally a snob, a two year stint as a reviewer for the Good Food Guide did her no favours in this respect, and she is still prone to getting a little snooty. Disastrous experiments too numerous to count have managed to humble her slightly. These disasters, along with the kind forgiveness of her friends are helping her to overcome this terrible affliction.

Beck

Beck was born at the age of 18 with the palate of a veteran wine-buff and the liver to match.

Beck’s fondest childhood memories are shrouded by the stigma of her unholy devotion to cheese, an anomaly best illustrated by her obsession with an 80cm wheel of grana padano residing in a cheese room on Danks Street.

Since moving to Sydney in 1999 Beck has engaged in a robust daily orgy of tannins and moulds, be it with friends or people she met on the internet.

Beck currently lives happily in a house with purpose-built doorways wide enough for her monumental bottom.

Read our first review on Yulli’s

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Yay for Yulli’s: the vegetarian crowd pleaser

Yulli’s

417 Crown Street, Surry Hills

(opposite The Clock Hotel)

Phone: 9319 6609

Reviewers: Jess & Beck

Between us, we are unfairly stacked with vegetarians – lovers, friends and family. We even have vegans in our midst. Given our proclivity for succulent meaty goodness, we think we’ve done more than our fair share of hogging at the troughs of unidentifiable root vegetable stews and lukewarm nut loaves.

So it is with an under-hyped sigh that we present ourselves at Yulli’s for a birthday dinner for 20 guests.

Turns out Yulli’s is a cool new addition to the Sydney small bar scene. The long, low-lit terrace starts with casual indoor dining and a bar at the front and stretches to heated courtyard seating at the rear. Astroturf is an amusing outdoor accent, as is the quirky choice between Pac Man and Space Invader toilets.

Momentarily mollified by the great atmosphere and thoughtful wine list, we suddenly remember we’re here to eat vegetarian food and so instinctually assume the stance of crouching carnivores ready to howl with indignation at the first sign of a limp carrot.

But rather quickly the lack of faux-hemians, Hare-Krishna cookbooks and bain maries brings on a shared dawning that Yulli’s is actually one of a rare breed of vegetarian restaurant aspiring to something more than a laxative effect.

From a usual ’meat-etarian‘ point of view the menu is a mixed bag – but when the food is good, it’s very, very good. Salty pan-fried haloumi is demolished with predictable vigour, as are crispy spring rolls. Beck’s stand-out favourite is the super gingery, slippery and very authentic ginger and leek dumplings with soy and plum sauce. Jess’s is the flaming hot build-your-own baby burritos with a sprig of fresh coriander for added ‘arriba!’.

The table of 20 is served at a perfect pace, with food a plenty. Each dish inspires enough enthusiasm to create competition with the last. A snaffled portion of Pad Thai linguine (‘vego posh’ gone wrong – stick with noodles please), and the haloumi pizza (smothered in dressed rocket – the perfect acidic foil for all that yummy oily cheese) are all consumed with boozy appreciation.

On the dessert front the news is all good. The warm chocolate brownie is sexual and fluffy. The cheesecake almost criminally decadent.

Overall Beck thinks the food is pretty darn good given that there’s no skin in the game. Jess wonders if all that pepper is hiding something. But we both agree that the booze selection is inspired. So for good measure we end the night by washing the lot down with a third bottle of champers, which we agree is impressive work for a school night.

All in all Yulli’s is a great laid-back all-rounder that really does seem to have the ability to please everyone. It has a wanker-free vibe, and welcome lack of hard-sell on alternative lifestyles.

Go there. Take your mates.

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Cooking for humans not enough? You’ve gone to the dogs

Not content with how terribly spoilt the dog was, I thought I’d up the ante by giving her homemade food.

While it was family tradition to feed the dog human meals that would make most people howl with pleasure, it had not been a terribly successful move. Particulary not for my Grandmother who has reared some spectaular fatties.

Fortunately the sensible sister among us developed a recipe for the canine in the family that we’ve been using for years now. It’s super simple and goes like this:

500-750grams mince meat (the fattier the better)

1-2 tablespoons gravy mix (optional)

At least 2 carrots grated, or the equivalent in other vegetables

1 to 1-1/2 cups of cooked brown rice

In a large pan bring enough water to cover the mince to a simmer. Add mince. Sprinkle on gravy mix if using and stir through. Add grated vegetables. Simmer until liquid is reduced but still fairly runny. Add rice, simmer for a further five minutes. Makes enough for a small dog to have one generous meal a day for a week.

Homemade dog food is a great way to use up those veges that are just on the wrong side of serving to humans (but if in doubt, throw it out!). I recommend cooking a large batch of brown rice and keeping some of the pre-cooked rice in the freezer to speed up future efforts. It must be brown rice for the fibre, and it’s added at the end so the starch from the rice firms up the food a little and gives it that bitey texture dogs seem to like.

The dog yums it up. And more importantly the vet seems more than happy with the dog’s health. To be on the safe side, I supplement the dog’s diet with dried biscuits, just to round out her vitamin intake.

This recipe (surprisingly, as they’re usually so fussy) went down a treat for my friends’ cats. The only difference for cats was I finished it off with a quick whizz in the blender so it had a smoother texture.

Another benefit to homemade dog food is cost. It compares favourably to buying tinned food. You may become obsessed with looking for bargain mince at the supermarket or butcher, but if you use pet mince it can bring the cost down further. By far the best deal I have found for pet mince is at Doorstep Organics, which delivers all through Sydney and up and down the coast. You do need to order and pay delivery fees though).

Poster (fur)child for a homemade diet

Poster (fur)child for a homemade diet, Sheila at Centennial Park, Sydney

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Be kind to your environment: Recycle Cheese

After numerous enthusiastic trips to the Fox Studios/Entertainment Quarter produce markets – where they have a most fantastic cheese stall – the tiny ends of once-adored cheeses were piling up in the fridge.

Just before regretfully throwing them away, a friend in Los Angeles pointed me to the concept of Fromage Fort.

For those who’ve never heard of it… are you sitting down? This will change your cheesey life.

Fromage Fort is the combination of all those cheese ends that you can no longer respectably serve on a platter into a cheese spread that’s got a great robust taste to it.

Here’s how it works:

In a food processor combine around 250 grams of cheese (after removing any rind and *ahem* mould), half a clove of garlic and as much white wine as you need.

You can add some fresh herbs that will suit the taste of your cheese collection, thyme’s pretty universal. Remember that cheese is an excellent intensifier of garlic, so if you’re not a fan you may wish to halve the amount (phffwoo, learnt that one the hard way). When combining you’ll start off needing around half a cup of wine, but this will increase depending on the hardness of the cheese.

That should make two ramekin-size pots, which means you can keep one for yourself and share the wealth with the other. I added a sprig of thyme to the top of mine to make it look prettier because I’m a nerd like that.

I got my original recipe from the Matt Bites Blog, where his entry covers what types of cheeses not to use (super soft and blue mostly) and where you really should draw the line on the mould issue. It’s a great blog to subscribe to, and his photography is excellent.

I recently got out the pot of Fromage Fort and spread it on a slab of lightly fried seed loaf and served it with a very simple pumpkin puree soup. It was a great Winter snack or light meal, and I look forward to hearing what inventive ways you apply the wonders of Fromage Fort.

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