PEANUT BUTTER BAR

It didn’t take much persuasion to get my booty over to the Peanut Butter Bar in Leichhardt, Sydney. My life flashed before my eyes when I saw their video pop up on Facebook, featuring a brownie being drowned in peanut butter from an ever-flowing PEANUT BUTTER TAP. That’s right, you heard (read) me – peanut butter on freakin’ tap.

Upon further investigation, I discovered that this place is in fact HEALTHY? Dishes bumped up with extra protein, decadent desserts made out of pumpkin and dates and coconut milk… of course, not everything on their menu follows this protocol, but for argument’s sake, we won’t focus on those.

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I convinced a pal to come with me, and we weren’t even swayed by the torrential downpours, sudden peak-winter temperature and 1 hour bus journey. We were excited for peanut butter, and no-one and nothing would stand in our way.

Off the bus, lured by the siren of PB (but mostly so we didn’t get soaked from the rain), we sprinted into the café. The decor is very interesting; the walls are donned with brightly painted murals and quotes from sporting greats (see pic for their subtle ode to Arnie). Admittedly it wasn’t quite what I was expecting! But they certainly are aiming for their clientele; this seems like the place to go once you’ve finished a hardcore session in the gym and are after a ‘healthier’ treat.

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Feeling a bit out of place, we made our order: salted peanut butter and choc chip cookie (with a scoop of their protein ice-cream), peanut butter chocolate lava cake (also featuring a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream) and a vegan berry cashew cheesecake. We didn’t travel all that way to order something measly!

Oh my gooey-ness, the lava cake was INSANE! However, after two bites, it became a bit of a struggle as the dish is incredibly rich! The cookie was okay; with the ice-cream on top it was a dream, but the cookie on its own really wasn’t that great – you could really taste the protein-y-ness (what do you mean that’s not a word? Lies).

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Then there was the vegan cheesecake… oh boy. I have to say, I really didn’t enjoy this one at all! There was hardly any flavour, and the texture wasn’t pleasant. It was basically all mush! The base of the cheesecake seemed to essentially be ground up flaxseed, and the top layer with the berries tasted watery. I know vegan food tends to have a reputation for being fairly flavourless, but I have tried some truly tasty dishes in my time. What a shame this one was a disappointment! We ended up leaving it pretty much untouched.

The highlight from our entire spread was the ice-cream. Ooooh it was yum! And the peanut butter of course, although I really wish there was more of it!

For all of our goodies, it was a total of $41.95. Not the cheapest, yet not the most expensive either.

Unfortunately I left feeling heavy, the food sitting stagnant in my belly, thirsty and with the desire to brush the furries off my teeth. Ah, well! Perhaps if we tried different items off the menu, we would’ve had a better experience, who knows! Alas, I can now say I’ve been there, done that.

Have any of you popped to the Peanut Butter Bar before? If so, what did you think?

Alix x

SPICED KALE WITH PINE NUTS

Ahh, the classic side dish. It may not be the main event on your plate, but that doesn’t mean it has to be uneventful and boring! Let me tell you, I have come across one heck of a side dish that I actually ended up eating as my main *guilty*, and holy YUMBALLS it packed a punch! No joke, it was like my tastebuds were singing. This may seem like an exaggeration, but give this recipe a whirl and I promise you’ll see what I mean!

Just look at it. That green! I feel like the real life heart eye emoji.

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INGREDIENTS:
– 1 bunch of kale (de-stemmed & torn into bits)
– 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
– 100g pine nuts
– 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
– 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
– 1/2 tsp cumin
– 1 tsp ground fennel seed
– 1/2 tsp ground coriander seed

METHOD:
– Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat
– Add your pine nuts and toast them until golden, stirring frequently
– Throw in your chilli flakes, cumin, fennel seed, coriander and garlic
– Cook for a few more mins until the garlic becomes golden and the pine nuts are nicely toasted
– Add in your kale leaves, a bit at a time. Stir them all around until all the leaves have wilted
– Season to taste!

Simple. Tasty. Good for you. It doesn’t get much better than this!

If you make this at home, let me know how you go by commenting below or tagging me on social media! Enjoy!

Alix xx

THE GROUNDS OF THE CITY

Sydney is definitely up there when it comes to the fine art of dining with some truly stand-out places dotted around the city. Recently, there has been a buzz about town with a certain new-ish arrival on our doorstep: The Grounds of the City. When my friend initially mentioned this place, my go-to response was: “The grounds of Alexandria? Perfect! I love it there!”, to which she responded “No, you goose! The Grounds of the City. Totally different. It’s a restaurant on George Street!”.

Huh. One can see where my confusion may have come in (right?), and alas the name does indeed make sense as both places were created by the same team. The Grounds of the City has been around for the past few months now, but I can tell you the hype has not died down in the slightest. My first word of warning: Book. In. Advance. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. My friend and I rocked up, eyes gleaming, mouths watering, stomachs rumbling, only to find we had one whole hour (cry) to wait until a seat and table would be available.

Torn between finding the next nearest place to inhale and chow down on something (anything!!) or wait, we decided to take a deep breath and be patient. Behind a rather intimidating red rope and before two ladies standing guard in an information-desk-hole-in-the-wall, we gave our mobile number and meandered on our not-so-merry way to kill some time. 45 minutes later, and we were in!

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Wow. Stepping inside was like a jump, hop and a leap back in time. Think an old 1920s hotel. Stained glass windows, marble, antique pendant lighting, a lady wheeling around a tea trolley brimming with cakes and pastries. It had it all! Through a huge, heavy cast-iron door, we were led past all the comfy looking leather-bound booths and placed on stools at the bar. Not my first choice of place to perch, but hey! I should’ve listened to my own words of wisdom. Book in advance Alix, book in advance.

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The place was packed! Behind the bar, staff were busy making cocktails and crafting up coffee. For my photos, they even kindly offered to artfully grace a swan on top of my caffeinated brew! Now that’s service.

There were many delicious looking items on the menu, with most standing around the $20 mark. Not cheap, but I later learned is reasonably priced for the portions that come out. Let your eyeballs feast on this!

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We ordered the handmade Marrickville burrata (served with brioche, olive crusts, heirloom tomatoes, basil and fresh mint), pumpkin tart (with buffalo curd, roasted onion and thyme) and the smashed potato side (complete with bone marrow, thyme and burnt onion). Can you believe that giant bowl of goodness is a side?! Holy potato! My friend was most impressed with her burrata dish, and my pumpkin tart was melt in your mouth. Hugged in gorgeously delicate pastry, the flavours were absolutely delicious. On top were sprigs of what I assume to be parmesan-crusted kale chips which were crispy and delightful. A side salad you would usually think not to be noteworthy, but this was not your average side salad. A lot of care went into this little pile, I could tell. It was made up of layers! Lettuce, zucchini, radish, squash, a sprinkling of pine nuts and a lovely coating of dressing. Not too much, not too little. Nothing tiffs me off more than a salad that’s drowning in dressing or if a few leaves of lettuce, chunks of onion and tomato are chucked haphazardly on the side of your plate, dry as a desert. But nope, the vegetables and dressing were in perfect balance. Good job, guys! In my eyes, that little bit of extra care went a long way.

We followed up our banquet with a pot of chai tea and lovely little dessert to share; the lemon meringue tart. Smooth, creamy, and brimming with lemony zesty zing. The meringue was the crispy kind, rather than the soft pillowy kind, but that didn’t bother me too much – it just made for a slightly more crumbly experience!

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The damage at the end was around $30 each for a really filling, unique dining adventure. Not as bad as I was expecting! Overall, I was rather impressed with the whole experience. It is definitely a busy, moody, crowded place, so if that doesn’t appeal to your taste then I’d encourage you to perhaps try somewhere else. But, if you’re all about the hustle and bustle and are after a different-than-usual fooding experience, definitely give this place a go and see what you think!

Just book in advance. Did I mention that?

Alix xx