Monday, December 29, 2014

Greenwell Coffee Farms, Kona Hawaii

America is not known for its quality coffee however the tropical island state of Hawaii is the exception that proves the rule. Quality high altitude coffee beans create a rich bean not dissimilar to South American coffee. 

When a work trip to Hawaii came up I insisted that we stop at a coffee farm on our way to the usual mountain and volcano site seeing. The Greenwell Coffee Farms at Kona are open to the public and include free tours that are of great interest to the coffee fanatic and gardener alike. 

They begin the tour with a discussion of the farming co-operative that makes up Greenwell farms and it's history starting with pre-colonial history to the modern operation of the growers in the area. 

They then run through the life cycle of the coffee tree itself explaining the seasonal fruiting and seeding. Coffee is a time consuming crop to harvest since the fruits mature at different stages and only ripe cherries can be used for coffee beans. This means that mechanical methods of harvesting fruits used for other trees cannot be used for coffee and manual fruit picking is still the standard method today. 

Numerous groves are on the main farm, though today these are kept for Private Reserve blends.

Most of the fruit processed at the farm is brought in by small growers in the Kona co-operative. The cherries are processed and roasted on site making a truly single origin coffee production facility. 

Ripe fruit is sorted by quality and then the pulp of the coffee cherry is removed. Greenwell use a wet method to remove the pulp churning the fruit through a specially devised machine with plenty of water to remove the soft parts of the fruit and expose the coffee bean. 

The green beans are left out in the warm Hawaiian sun and raked regularly to ensure all the moisture evaporates. 

Several stages of the drying process can be seen on display, the beans darkening with each step. After the beans are entirely dry they are roasted and blended into the grindable drinkable roasted bean we love to obsess about. 

The farm offers plenty of free coffee on hand for tasting. 

Blonde through to dark roasts are on hand as well as decaf and flavoured coffee. If you're a fan of a brew they're bound to have something on hand that suits your fancy. The coffee itself is quite rich and oily, much approved by this coffee snob.

Of course one must exit through the gift shop but with plenty of beans, chocolate, nuts and local honey this is the perfect tourist stop for any foodie visiting Big Island. 

Greenwell Farms

81-6581 Mamalahoa Highway
Kealakekua, HI 96750
Phone: (808) 323-2275

Boutique coffee farm and gourmet souvenirs

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Review: Le Pub, Sydney

As a lover of a tipple and good company it's unsurprising that the Gastropub is one of my favourite cuisines. The laid back atmosphere, unassuming dishes and conversation friendly layouts make the perfect night out with a mate or 10.

Sydney has recently had a rash of Gastropubs and small boozey venues pop up after a change in the alcohol licencing laws favouring smaller venues. Le Pub is the French bistro gastropub offering by the same people who run the Bavarian Beer Cafe and brings with it the same professional air. Matchings for both the beer and wine drinker are provided with each dish on the menu.

Croquettes $16AUD

Pea, mint and gruyere mash is breaded and fried served with a red pepper mayonnaise and lemon wedges. This kind of fried snack is just what you want with pints of good beer. 

Assiette de degustation $29AUD

Pickles and charcuterie are two of my favourite things and I find the nibbly nature of platters like this just perfect with drinks and good conversation. The size is shareable for 2 or absolutely indulgent for 1. Offerings seem to vary based on what's in the larder as any good assiette will. This came with duck rillettes, cured beef, iberico ham, cornichones, olives and crusty sourdough bread. 

Steak Frites with Cafe de Paris butter $23AUD

Good quality Gippsland Australian beef is cooked to your liking and served with a choice of sauces. I order Cafe de Paris butter whenever it can be found but other classic French sauces like Bearnaise, Mushroom and Pepper sauce were also available. Crisp but soft fries are just perfect, though the basket for each person was probably overkill. 

Onion rings $9AUD

More fried snacks are just what the doctor ordered after a few pints, light crisp battered onion rings are just delicious. The batter is a super light beer and corn flour affair that goes wonderfully with the lemony aioli. 

Gaufre Belge $16AUD

If you have room for dessert there's a number of great classic options like Creme Brulee, Tarte au Chocolat, Mousse d'Orange or cheese plates. For me though the only option had to be the Belgian style waffle dripping in chocolate sauce, hazelnuts and rich vanilla bean ice cream. 

As a semi regular business traveller to Sydney Le Pub offers the perfect venue for 1 on 1 meetings and team outings. Reasonably priced food, table service drinks, sheltered tables perfect for chatting and stumbling distance from CBD offices and hotels.

There is one major flaw in this venue though, and I hope in part that this will go away over time. The service was terrible; sure they were attentive and my food was on point but the staff didn't know the menu or in fact anything about French food. Both myself and my companion were left blinking a number of times after comments were made like "what sauce did you want with the steak au poivre?" and "did you want fries with that steak frittes?" I suspect that the servers were chosen for their looks and not their intellects - hopefully the management realise that this was a mistake and institute better training or better staff. 

Le Pub

66 King Street
Sydney NSW 2000
+61 2 9262 3277

French style gastropub, perfect for small groups and first dates

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Recipe: Five Pepper Goulash

This is one of my winter favourites and much loved in my household; you really want to take as long as possible to cook it to mature the flavours.

Gochujang (Korean malted red pepper paste) is my secret ingredient for this dish and while it seems out of place in a European dish it adds a richness to the pepper flavour and brings instant umame - you can buy it at most Asian supermarkets in large tubs. If you can't find it you should substitute Red Pepper Relish or 3 tbpsn of Worcestershire sauce and 1 tbspn of sugar to ensure the same savoury depth.

Five Pepper Goulash

500g beef
4 strips bacon and/or 2 tbspn purified bacon grease
1 brown onion
2 gloves garlic
2 capsicum (bell pepper)
2 fresh chilies (birds eye)
2 tbspn smoked paprika
1 tbspn red chilli flakes
2  tbspn gochujang
1 can crushed or diced tomatoes
1 small tin (170g) tomato paste
2 cups beef stock
1 cup red wine
oil for frying
salt and pepper
1/2 cup sour cream


  • In a large stock pot heat a pool of oil the size of your palm. Dice the onion and add to the pot then cook on a medium heat until the onions have sweated
  • Dice the bacon and fry with the onion, if you keep bacon grease on hand you can use this in place of the bacon since we only want the smoke infusion. 
  • If you're feeling indulgent you can also subsitute the bacon for chorizo which adds more paprika with the pork flavour.
  • Dice the bell pepper and fresh chilli and fry with the onion / bacon mix until softened
  • Mince or finely chop the garlic and add to the vegetable mix
  • Cube the beef into bite sized chunks and add to the pot, stir occasionally on medium heat until the meat is browned
  • Once the beef is cooked add the dried peppers - the chilli flakes and smoked paprika. Stir fry until the chilli is fragrant and the meat well coated.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes and stir well, once incorporated add the beef stock, tomato paste, gochujang and red wine in that order. Don't be tempted to add them all at once, you want each ingredient to add to the mixture before adding the next.
  • Leave to simmer for around 20 minutes and then taste, this ensures that the tomato paste is cooked down and the alcohol is cooked out of the wine.
  • Season with salt, pepper and if desired more smoked paprika then leave to simmer on a low heat for as long as possible - 2 - 4 hours is ideal.
  • If too much of the liquid boils off add 1 cup of water or a low sodium beef stock to the pot and continue to simmer.
  • Turn the heat off for 5 mins before serving. If you like a creamy goulash add the sour cream and fold gently through the sauce or serve as I have with 1-2 tbspns on top of each serving. 
  • Serve on top of buttered noodles, mashed potato or with hot sliced bread. Garnish with small bell pepper slices and sprinkle with smoked paprika. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Review: Waraku, San Francisco

Our attempt to eat at all the ramen restaurants in Japantown, San Francisco continues and Waraku is an excellent staple with a slightly more upscale feel than the other offerings in the neighbourhood.

Waraku is definitely the kind of place you want to go to for a mid week meal or in the afternoon. The decor is wonderful and the staff attentive but the place can get very busy and I feel like they've added too many tables. This is definitely not a place for a first date, I feel like sometimes I am sitting at a table with strangers and I find their conversation invasive. Being only about a block from the Peacetown mall this is a surprisingly easy oasis during events in Japantown.

The food at Waraku has a limited menu but absolutely everything we've had there has been wonderful; so long as you're not after Vegetarian food.

Hanetsuki Gyoza $4.50USD

Thin skinned pork and vegetable dumplings are cooked in a way that causes a skin to form allowing you to play pull apart games with your friends. Good fun with good dumplings. 

Hiyayakko $4.50USD

Cold tofu is topped with generous amounts of ginger, scallion, dried nori and bonito. The tofu is obviously made fresh and has the telltale cottage look of air throughout. I would have preferred a slightly smoother tofu but one cannot knock fresh tofu in the US and this is a very good dish. 

Karaage $5.00USD

The ubiquitous fried chicken snack in a sesame and soy batter. This version is crisp and crunchy and not too oily. Thankfully the serves are also on the small side so you don't find yourself eating a day's worth of calories in one dish. 

Tofu salad $7.00USD

When I ordered the Tofu salad I was expecting a side dsish but instead a huge platter of tofu and greens came out. Served in a toasted sesame (goma) vinaigrette and simply covered in cubes of the freshly made tofu. Good for those avoiding the fried food. 

Kakuni-don $4.50USD

Small rice bowls can be bought on the lunch menu that are not much larger than a soup bowl and perfect for tasting a few things on the menue. This one is kakuni which is a braised fatty pork belly seasoned and topped with scallions.

Shoyu chashu ramen $10USD

A plain soy ramen served with wilted spinach, bamboo shoots, pork and egg. The noodles are a good quality chewy egg noodle. Tonkotsu (pork bone) soup is available for those who like a meatier soup and I find that this is the best broth of any of the ramen offerings in Japantown. If one could combine this soup with the noodles from Sapporo-ya you might almost have the perfect local ramen. 

They also offer a tsukemen tonkotsu version with the noodles on the side with a thicker soup for dipping for $9USD. Additional toppings like pork, mushrooms, sprouts and tofu can be added for $1-3USD. Their spicy miso ball (50c) can be added to any soup and is highly recommended for those who like a stronger ramen.

Tantanmen $9.00USD

Tantanmen is my all time favourite noodle dish and unfortunately Waraku only serves it during the colder months. Minced pork is fried in a sweet and savoury seasoning and served in a spicy sesame tonkotsu broth with coriander smoked egg.

The noodles are decent, the broths are good but the real star of this restaurant is the smoked soft boiled egg, order two it's worth it. Boiled to  soft gelatinous perfection you get one in the ramens but an extra can be ordered for $1USD or as a canape on their own for $4.50USD.


1638 Post St
San Francisco, CA 94115

Upscale ramen eatery in Japantown, San Francisco