BOOK REVIEW: DR HELENA POPOVIC – NEUROSLIMMING

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We live in an obesogenic environment. It’s a world of fast living, sedentary jobs and leisure activities, labour-saving devices, and an overabundance of cheap, accessible, energy-dense, nutrient poor, highly-processed foods. It’s also an environment where a growing majority of people are overweight or obese and those who succeed in shedding weight will often find themselves regaining it (and possibly more) in the 12 months after the fact.

NeuroSlimming looks to address some of these problems and get people to really stop and think about how and why they eat, rather than getting too hung up on what they consume.

 

To read the rest of this review please visit the following website: http://magazine.100percentrock.com/reviews/book-reviews/201702/223334

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FOOD REVIEW: SAKÉ JR

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Saké Jr proves that eating healthy does not need to leave you feeling hungry or unhappy. This fast and casual Japanese eatery located in the recently revamped Grosvenor Place complex in Sydney is the sister store to the fine-dining favourite, Saké Restaurant & Bar. It has a variety of fresh foods and drinks for sale but their biggest drawcard is that you can build your own Korean-inspired bowl ($15) or enjoy your own bowl and beer combination ($10) during their daily happy hour from 4pm until 7pm.

The menu at Saké Jr boasts ingredients that are gluten, preservative and GMO-free while also drawing on the flavours and techniques that people love from the Saké brand. The bowls are put together by navigating six separate steps with the first one (the base) featuring options like: bao buns, udon rice noodle sticks, mixed greens or one of two kinds of rice (brown or seasoned sushi.) The second process is to pick your protein from meats like grilled chicken or sesame soy pork (which has a tasty, crispy crackling), a vegetarian alternative (crispy tofu and shitake mushroom) or one of the many fish varieties (miso glazed cod, spicy salmon, pop-corn shrimp and classic tuna and avocado).

 

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Patrons can choose from an unlimited supply of vegetables including: Brussel sprouts, charred corn, ginger-glazed bok choy, steamed edamame, beans in black garlic sauce and seaweed. Avocado is also available for a little extra ($2.) The bowls can be topped with a sweet, apple soy ginger sauce or hotter dressings like Japanese salad dressing or wasabi ginger salsa (because as Seinfeld one said, “People like saying, “Salsa!””)

The bowls are finished with unlimited garnishes like: chilli threads, wasabi peas, toasted sesame seeds, fried garlic, wasabi furikake (a dry Japanese seasoning), togarashi (a blend of seven Japanese spices that would make Colonel Sanders blush), tempura crunch (the light batter used to garnish sushi or crunchy rolls) and toasted nori strips. The bowl can also have unlimited amounts of chilli oil, Japanese pickled cucumber, pickled ginger, scallions and daikon and carrot slaw.

 

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They are open from 7:30AM and have brekkie bowls ($9) available with proteins that match the early morning start. They include: scrambled eggs, bacon, Japanese hash browns and crispy pork belly. There is also muesli ($5), fruit salad ($6), banana bread ($5) and a hot soy milk porridge ($8) available. Another great alternative to a bacon and egg muffin is the bacon and egg roll bao buns available at $5 for two pieces or $7.50 with a regular coffee.

Saké Jr also have a great variety of grab-and-go options including various soups ($4-8), sushi rolls ($10-16) and dumplings ($16.) The desserts feature a number of refreshing and fruity sorbets and ice-creams ($5-6) and there are hot and cold beverages for sale. The cold drinks include two of the restaurant’s namesake, sake, as well as two craft beers brewed by the group’s very own, Urban Brew Co. There is the light hattori hit girl ($8.50), which is made with Australian hops and the mildly bitter, blushing geisha ($8.50).

 

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As the dining scenes across the world continue to move towards a more health and fitness conscious life, it’s becoming increasingly important for us to think a bit healthier when it comes to quick and casual, even if it’s not always easy to do so. There can be no excuses when you consider that a place like Saké Jr exists, it’s the ideal spot for those who want to eat, feel and look good while enjoying food that is healthy, tasty and full of flavour.

Saké Jr

Address: Grosvenor Place, 225 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Website: http://www.sakejr.com.au/
Hours: Mon-Fri 7.30am-8pm, Sat-Sun 9am-6pm. Breakfast until 11am.

Images supplied and credited to Kitti Gould.

Originally published on 11 November 2016 at the following website: http://food.theaureview.com/dining/review-sake-jr-cbd-sydney/

Visit The Au Review’s homepage dedicated to dining and food at: http://food.theaureview.com/

DVD REVIEW: DESTINATION FLAVOUR – SCANDINAVIA

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Since winning MasterChef Australia in 2010, chef Adam Liaw has gone from strength-to-strength. The host of Destination Flavour, the show is a series that has seen interviews with famous chefs, cooks, providores and producers from Japan and Australia. The latest instalment sees Liaw visit Scandinavia or specifically the countries of Denmark, Sweden and Norway to learn about the history and culture of the region and see why the restaurants in these countries have more stars than a Hollywood A-list party.

This seven-part series is a beautifully shot one where Liaw learns new things and cooks some of his own dishes (while keeping with Nordic tradition and culture.) The first three episodes see Liaw in Denmark meeting Noma’s Claus Meyer, drinking Danish filtered coffee, interviewing Meik Wiking (CEO of the Happiness Research Institute) and talking to the only Michelin Starred chef with organic certification, Relae’s Christian Puglisi. Liaw also learns Viking survival and cooking skills before making his very own salmon on a plank in a replica of a ninth century Viking house.

Liaw is one enthusiastic and passionate presenter. He clearly relishes the visit and his warm personality is obvious. In Sweden Niklas Ekstedt demonstrates old Nordic cooking techniques (i.e. ones using no gas, electricity or coal) and Liaw samples different kinds of Swedish meatballs (including wild boar) and smoked reindeer. In Malmö, Titti Qvarnström – the first female chef of a Michelin-starred restaurant in Sweden – takes us through her restaurant, Bloom In The Park. It’s an establishment that has almost zero food waste thanks to its lack of menu and wine list.

In Norway Liaw eats a 200 year old clam, cooks brown crabs in beer with a brown butter mayonnaise and also gets to know the local indigenous people known as Sami. The series concludes with visits to the Global Seed Vault and Huset, a fine dining restaurant that is at the end of the earth (1000km from the North Pole.) The special features include extended interviews with Meyer, Wiking and Qvarnström as well as a tour of a Stockholm market and more in-depth footage about the Samis and Vikings.

Destination Flavour- Scandinavia is a fun romp through some refined, artistic and traditional Scandinavian cuisine. Liaw presents an informative cooking program and his natural charm and charisma really shine through. This series is an absolute pleasure to watch and will make you realise that there’s more to Scandinavia than Vikings, Abba and Princess Mary’s relatives.

Originally published on 20 June 2016 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/destination-flavour-scandinavia-dvd-review/

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FOOD REVIEW: THE TERNARY, NOVOTEL SYDNEY ON DARLING HARBOUR

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Both Sydneysiders and visitors to this great city may know the large, salmon-colouredNovotel building in Darling Harbour. What they may not realise is that this hotel also houses a great restaurant called The Ternary. This is the brain-child of Executive chef, Anthony Flowers and the perfect place to experience a memorable dining experience, which we were fortunate enough to do.

The Ternary is just about to turn a year old but it is a place that runs like a well-oiled machine. The restaurant takes inspiration from its name and is split into three separate kitchens including the Asian, Grill and Charcuterie Wine Bar. It’s all light, airy and open plan meaning that diners can be fully immersed in watching their dinner being prepared and seeing it go from pan to plate.

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Flowers is a seasoned professional at the hospitality game having previously worked at Berowra Waters Inn, Ad Lib Bistro in Pymble, The Mean Fiddler, Stacks Taverna and 41 Restaurant. It was his idea to open up the kitchen to the diners and have it be like an up-market, Teppanyaki experience. Flowers felt that some of the theatrics of food had been lost on patrons when things were prepared in closed, separate kitchens. In this new and novel space, the chefs speak to the customers and often exchange tips and tricks with them (especially those who are seated right up against the grill).

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When you consider that The Ternary is still a commercial kitchen having to feed lots of hungry guests, it’s amazing to see how serene it all is. The chefs seem calm, happy and immensely proud of their work and this really shines through in their food. The dishes provide a harmony of flavours, balance and texture and it’s all one sheer delight for the taste, sight and smell senses. The meals are also designed to be shared and lend things a nice, homely feel. And if that’s not enough, the restaurant also offers floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a busy, Sydney skyline. It’s also a perfect vantage point to see Darling Harbour’s regular fireworks displays (on Saturday nights and special occasions).

To start we are served a warm plain naan bread ($5), which is also available in garlic and cheese varieties, served with smoked yoghurt and mango chutney topped with pomegranate. The chutney was very flavoursome, the dark orange condiment drew together lots of different spices, which danced on your tongue while the bread was thick and tasty.

 

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The following betel leaves of smoked flaked salmon with salmon pearls and fried shallots ($15), which is also available in crispy pork for $14 had a lot to offer and not just because it was a very pretty dish. The leaves are often considered a stimulant and provide a certain woodiness when coupled with the saltiness of the fish, the delicate roe of the salmon and the crunchy shallots.

 

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The betel leaves were a little unexpected and different and the same can also be said about the restaurant’s signature, dragon egg ($18). This saw a quail’s egg coated with spicy chicken mince and fried in chickpea flower and accompanied by a tandoori yoghurt. It was also served on top of a nest of thin fennel strips which had been fried and caramelised in chickpea flour. This was one very unique combination of ingredients and flavours and was almost like an Indian scotch egg with a soft, yolk centre. It was also nothing short of exquisite. In fact, if Peter Gilmore owns the snow egg then Anthony Flowers is the samurai master of the dragon egg.

 

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The Asian influences continued with a labour of love that is known as the pulled peppered beef in crispy pastry with water chestnuts ($18). This one sees some beef slow-cooked for 12 hours in stock and is infused with black pepper paste, black pepper oil and chestnut oil. It’s almost like the beef and the pepper become one. The meat is also melt-in-your-mouth delicious and is plated up with tamarind sauce and some refreshing lime. Yum.

 

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The Thai red curry with gelatinous rice (part of the February degustation menu at $95 pp) is topped with some beautiful, rare duck that actually tasted quite lean, which can be uncommon for this kind of meat. The curry sauce also boasted some sweet lychees and pineapple and they complimented the warm heat of the sauce.

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The lamb rack ($43) is sourced from Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula and served with pillow-like kipfler potatoes, sliced bell peppers and eggplant caviar. The eggplant and peppers were soft and sweet and had a Middle Eastern flavour while the lamb was cooked to perfection (my guest even enquired about a masterclass, it was that good).

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The desserts included some summer fruits with peach sorbet and prosecco (the final course in the February degustation menu) and a dark chocolate mousse with raspberry sorbet ($13). The latter was a light and sweet mousse accompanied by some tart, dried raspberries and some sweet mascarpone. It was heavenly.

 

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The finale featured a selection of cheese ($27) including the Brie, Camembert and blue varieties. This also included some homemade raisins (still on the stalk) as well as some quince paste and walnut bread. It was a fitting end to a gorgeous evening.

 

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The Ternary is a place brimming with different ideas. There is a fusion of lots of different flavours and some left-field combinations that work extremely well together. It is clear that Flowers and his accomplished team of chefs are experts in crafting amazing dishes that incorporate lots of different culinary techniques, which also support the excellent, local ingredients they use.

 

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The restaurant offers smaller, Tapas-like dishes and mains from the Asian kitchen (from $8.50-$39) and mains from the Grill (from $28-$55) while desserts are $13 and the cheese board is $27. There is almost a little something for everyone here. In short, Flowers wanted to bring some theatre to his restaurant and it’s fair to say he’s succeeded because his food actually sings.

The Ternary, Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour

Address: 100 Murray St, Pyrmont, NSW 2009
Contact: (02) 9934 0000
Website: http://www.theternary.com.au/

Originally published on 7 February 2016 at the following website: http://food.theaureview.com/dining/the-ternary-pyrmont-sydney-february-2016/

Visit The Au Review’s homepage dedicated to dining and food at: http://food.theaureview.com/

FILM REVIEW: THAT SUGAR FILM

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That Sugar Film is a provocative documentary by Underbelly actor and former Tropfest winner, Damon Gameau. It nods at Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me (by turning one healthy man’s body into a vessel for an experiment) and shares the entertaining, stunt documentary style that Michael Moore favours.

Gameau begins as the pillar of health and has been sugar-free for some time. With his girlfriend Zoe Tuckwell-Smith expecting their first child, Gameau is prompted to think about the effects of sugar, assembling a team of experts including a doctor and nutritionist.

The goal is to measure and track Gameau as he consumes 40 teaspoons of sugar a day. This is 31 teaspoons more than the recommended intake for men in America and the average amount that teenagers consume. Gameau restricts his diet to so-called ‘healthy’ foods like cereal, juices and low-fat yoghurts. The results are shocking, as the extreme diet takes a toll on Gameau’s health and mental state.

Along the way, the origins of sugar are explained, as is the point when doctors first suspected the links between sugar and various ailments. Gameau also visits a remote Aboriginal community with high incidences of Type 2 diabetes and obesity, as well as an American town where children occasionally have mouths full of rotten teeth from drinking too much Mountain Dew.

The story is told in a convincing and entertaining manner. Talking head interviews are edited so that the experts appear superimposed on food packaging. It’s a visually appealing touch, though it does dilute the message somewhat, as it is difficult to see the individuals’ credentials.

That Sugar Film features cameos from Stephen Fry and Isabel Lucas (Hugh Jackman also appears but is uncredited). Ultimately, it’s an informative and challenging documentary that offers lots of food for thought in a colourful package. The finale is rather silly and unnecessary, but for the most part this film will force people to rethink some of their choices.

Originally published on 16 February 2015 at the following website: http://thebrag.com/arts/sugar-film

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FOOD REVIEW: The Inaugural FEVOO (Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil) Festival – The Mint, Sydney (10.07.2013)

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Oils ain’t oils. Sure, this was a tagline from an old Castrol ad but it seems the same thing can be applied to cooking oils and the murky territory that is olive oil. FEVOO – the inaugural festival celebrating Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil – saw an assembly of oil aficionados (growers, producers, academics, chefs, nutritionists and consumers) come together for the love of oil. We also were able to dispel some myths with an event that was broken down into five interesting parts.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the only oil that has not been chemically or physically refined. The brands labelled “pure”, “100% pure”, “lite/light” and “extra light” are merely marketing terms. These are not the unadulterated, natural juice of the olive and are not recognised by local and international standards.

In a 2010 test by Choice, they sampled 28 brands of extra virgin olive oil sold in Australian supermarkets. Of these, half of the samples failed to meet the widely accepted international standards as they were adulterated, refined or blended with seed oils or left in plastic containers or out in the sun to go bad. There is now a voluntary code of practice and its signatories are identifiable by a special symbol.

FEVOO’s first session was an olive oil master class run by Dr. Richard Gawel, who has worked for 15 years as a judge at many major olive oil shows. A sensory expert who provides taste and blending consultancy services for numerous Australian olive oil companies, he has also published scientific papers on olive oil assessment and regularly conducts seminars and workshops on tasting, blending and judging. The man was a wealth of knowledge and he was very obliging in sharing his experience with the audience.

Gawel opened his session by dispelling the myth that olive oil is produced by pressing olives. This process had not been used since the early 1970s. Instead, centrifuge is undertaken where the applied pressure allows the release of oil from the vegetable matter. This ultimately produces a better product, one containing less oxygen and one that will retain its freshness and health benefits for longer.

Each participant was given five different oils to sample (including a bad one). We learnt that these are usually consumed at a rate a little higher than room temperature. Gawel also directed us to the olive oil tasting wheel (www.aromadictionary.com). In this, the oils are broken down into tastes like muddy, green, fruity, fragrant, spicy, etc. The ones we tried included a variety that according to Gawel had a grass aroma and a floral note; a fresh, fruity one with a strong, peppery flavour; a Spanish variety that had more depth; and a bitter and pungent one that was full of antioxidants.

In addition to sampling the oils straight, the participants would also be treated to music and canapés at the end of the session. The menu was created by food, wine and lifestyle personality Lyndey Milan, in collaboration with Trippas White. The guests were treated to golden brown zucchini fritters that had been cooked in a light olive oil, so that they were crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. There was a confit of ocean trout finished with golden beetroot puree and microcress in a light olive oil. The puree added a soft, almost buttery touch, which meant the fish was delicate and not too overpowering.

The goat’s curd tart with roast tomatoes had a hard, coin-shaped exterior to match the robust olive oil. The tomatoes almost looked like they were sun-dried and were capped off with some crumbly, white goat’s cheese. The pick of the canapés, however was the divine walnut, orange and olive oil cake. This had a hint of cinnamon and a little bite with the inclusion of the walnuts. It was also one of the most light and moist cakes I’ve ever eaten, it practically melted in my mouth, it was so good!

The session also included a panel discussion about the benefits of extra virgin olive oil. This was chaired by ABC 702’s Simon Marnie, who is also a judge for the Royal Agricultural Society. The participants included: Dr Gawel;former principal research scientist and adjunct professor at Charles Sturt University, Professor Rod Mailer; dietitian and nutritionist, Dr Joanna McMillan; agricultural engineer and head of Modern Olives’ technical team, Dr Leandro Ravetti; and Stephanie Alexander OAM, the renown celebrity chef, author and restaurateur.

In this discussion, we learnt that other varieties of cooking oils are refined, bleached and deodorised. There was also talk about how the Mediterranean diet (one high in olive oil consumption) will reduce heart disease and that we should perhaps draw our focus into creating delicious foods with healthy ingredients because then people will pick the right options. We also learnt that olive oil is versatile and can be used for different cooking applications, even making mayonnaise (the trick is to use a lighter variety compared to the one you’d drizzle over your salads).

A panel with some of the growers’ followed and their wares were also available to be sampled at the tasting bar. The exhibitors included: Cobram Estate, Cradle Coast Olives, Alto Olives, Gwydir Olives, Camilo Olives, Pukara Estate, Nullamunjie Olives, Rosto Grove, Chapman River Olives, Wollundry Grove, Woodlands Olive Grove, Longridge Olives and Rylstone Olive Press. Following the tastings, there was an auction for the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Foundation where $8000 was raised.

FEVOO had proved to be one enlightening and enjoyable festival. With Australians consuming 45 million litres of olive oil per year and with these rates rising, we are now the highest consumers per capita outside of the Mediterranean. So it is certainly one area of food that is on the up and up. We learnt that fresh, extra virgin olive oil should be fruity, robust and delicate but also smooth on the palate. It’s also really crucial to check your oil to ensure it is what it claims it is. It is vital, because in reality, oil is the cornerstone of our diet and the wrong choices can have implications on your health.

Originally published on 11 July 2013 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/sydney/eating-with-the-au-the-inaugural-fevoo-fresh-extra-virgin-olive-oil-festival-the-mint-sydney-10-07-2013

Visit The Au Review’s homepage at: http://www.theaureview.com/

BOOK REVIEW: DAVID GILLESPIE

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The book, Toxic Oil is based on the idea that Government Health agencies and nutritional experts have got it all wrong. That vegetable oil – the one touted as the “good one” – will kill you and your family. It’s a tough area to negotiate and I’d say to take it all with a grain of salt. But that’s bad for you too.

Toxic Oil is written by David Gillespie, a father of six who has in recent times become a health crusader. He previously carried around an extra 40 kilos in weight. But he did reach a tipping point and decided to investigate why he – and the rest of the Western world – was so fat. This lead to the books Sweet Poison and Sweet Poison Quit Plan in which he quite rightly encouraged people to rid their lives of sugar and now he’s turned his sights to vegetable and seed oils.

Gillespie admits at the start that he has no formal training in human biochemistry or science. His only skill is that he’s a former corporate lawyer who has the ability to gather, understand and synthesise evidence. The first part of the book gives a brief history of food manufacturing and includes details about some old food studies and experiments conducted in the UK.

This book is a difficult one to read. It relies heavily on scientific language, which can be difficult to understand and follow at times and may even be of questionable validity. He also does tend to veer off into scare-mongering territory at times. If you believe what he says, polyunsaturated fats will cause cancer, macular degeneration and allergies and may also be associated with other lifestyle diseases.

There are chapters designed to enable the reader to identify polyunsaturated fats and read food labels. Gillespie also details the Australian brands of foods which he believes contains an acceptable level of sugar and polyunsaturated fat. The fact is we probably eat too much processed food as it is and vegetable oil is one pervasive beast. It is found in: cooking oil, margarine, sauces, biscuits, pastries, spreads and fast foods.

The final part of the book is devoted to meal plans and recipe options where polyunsaturated fats are swapped for saturated, animal fats. According to health and nutrition experts this will be swapping “good fat” for “bad fat”. So it’s bound to have some nutritionists slap their foreheads (because for one, Gillespie encourages a breakfast of bacon and eggs cooked in animal fat or lard).

Toxic Oil is an informative book but you should read this along with the online rebuttals and make up your own mind. The only fact is there’s a lot of competing information out there and we have to eat but we don’t all possess the scientific nous to understand it all. Plus, food manufacturers are often only concerned with increasing their bottom line. In sum, it’s an interesting read that may have some kernels of truth in it but perhaps we should all stick to the middle ground and err on the side of moderation being best.

Originally published on 28 April 2013 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/reviews/reading-with-the-au-david-gillespie-toxic-oil

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