The Three Feed – Egg Of The Universe

The Three Feed

Where three people review wholefood, organic and gluten free restaurants wherever and whenever they get hungry.

The Egg Of The Universe
711 Darling St, Rozelle
Ph: 9810 3146
http://www.eggoftheuniverse.com

Angie Cowen (egg beater) Craig New (egg head) and Julian Lee (egg hunter) came together for a Thursday lunch in a wildly unethical display of reviewing integrity. This is their story.

By Craig New

Egg Of The UniverseLet’s get the weirdness out of the way first. This is far from an impartial review. If this were a boxing match, it would be like one of the boxers also refereeing. If it was an election, it would be like votes only being counted for one party before declaring them the winners. If this were the Oscars, it would be like asking the cast of The Wolverine who should win best picture and then being surprised that it wasn’t a movie starring Daniel Day Lewis. It’s a blatant conflict of interest, because I work at the yoga studio that the cafe is attached to, and Angie has been providing  a small selection of treats for sale here as well. Julian is the founder of Food Connect, an amazing business that brings local, organic produce to customers, and which the cafe is a city cousin pick up spot for. So really, none of us were out to find flaws.

Chinese ElmIt’s hard for me to be objective as I spend most days working inside (I manage the BodyMindLife yoga studio that resides upstairs, the cafe is a very recent addition to the yoga business), but the cafe’s greatest feature is the beautiful Chinese Elm tree growing in the courtyard. One of the first times I ever came here I saw the owners’ daughter sitting outside talking to it, and I could tell how special the place was. We of course sat outside beneath its shade to enjoy our lunch.

We started off by interviewing Harry, the owner (and Craig’s boss):
“The overall focus is definitely high integrity wholefoods. The idea is to bring to life a lot of the principals behind things like Nourishing Traditions [a great book by Sally Fallon], mixed in with a yogic feel and actually make that happen on a high street cafe level. The focus behind that is to do it in a really accessible way. The idea was for people not to be freaked out by the menu. I wanted to have something where people walking in off the street can have a bacon and egg sandwich, but have a wholefood bacon and egg sandwich. That means amazing cured bacon, proper sourdough bread, fermented tomato sauce, and there’s a lacto-fermented pickle in it.”
Julian asked, “This is really hard. There’s a reason why McDonalds works as a business. How does this work?”
Harry answered, “This is something we’re discovering right now. I think the model I’ve looked at for this place, and we don’t have it all up and running yet, is that we have to do everything we set out to do to make it work. We have to be a community space where people can pick up food as part of a food network, we have to be a place where people come for cooking classes, and the idea is that people can pick up a wholefoods lunch box or preorder a nightly dinner. We also want to get into doing all the events and community stuff we originally planned with the combination of the yoga studio.” After finishing up, he asked, “Do you have any other questions?”
I asked, “Can I go home early today?”

The stats on the cafe are what you would expect for a wholefood cafe – Celtic or Himalayan Crystal salt, coconut and olive cooking oil (as well as organic duck fat for the meaty dishes), rapadura and raw sugar, local and seasonal fruit and veg and organic meat from Feather & Bone. We ordered a range of stuff that included a Bespoke chai latte ($4), two smoothies ($9 each), slow cooked biodynamic lamb ($16), spiced kichari ($14), chicken broth ($12) and poached fruit and granola ($15 – usually a breakfast dish not available at lunch but I threatened to sing to the waiter for the rest of the week so he relented). We also ordered some gluten free bread and sourdough, courtesy of Iggy’s Bakery. Do the prices scare you a little? We started discussing the culture of valuing food.

Julian & AngieJulian: “This is really beautifully presented. I don’t wish it on these guys, but have you noticed that trend where someone starts like this but eventually has to compromise? It’s really expensive to do it this way.”
Craig: “I think they’ve factored that in with the price.”
Julian: “It’s that constant balance of having enough people come in the door at that price to make it work, but recognising that this is beautiful food worth paying for. I mean, how much do you spend on one beer, or one coffee somewhere else, but people don’t see that, it’s a different box. Often you go to an Indian restaurant for instance and get that sort of size for that sort of price, but it’s often pretty homogenous in flavour.
Angie: “You’re so right, you’d pay $15 for a little dish of lentils, but you’re okay with that because you understand that’s the process. Why is it different here?”
Julian: “This is a bargain compared to that.”
Angie: “In my mind as well, yet in my mind $16 is pricey here, but in a restaurant it’s not. That’s really fascinating. But this is very good.”

Poached fruit & granolaWe were blown away by the food. To justify the potential bias, I should say that I’ve moved from bringing my lunch to work most days of the week to eating here most days of the week, which cuts into my very important novel budget. That’s how much I love the food.
Angie: “It’s very simple, there’s nothing overpowering with this food.”
Julian: “You go back to being able to taste the ingredients.”
Angie: “That’s an interesting thing about a lot of food, you can’t distinguish the food because a lot of restaurants are not using the best quality ingredients, so there’s so much more flavour that needs to be added. That’s the difference between good quality wholefood ingredients that have good flavour. There’s no sweetness, nothing to dull anything out. It just is what it is.”

Some thoughts on the specific dishes:
Mango and coconut smoothie
(Served in a gorgeous, viscous pool inside a hollowed out coconut).
Craig: “I feel like I’m sun baking on a Hawaiian beach right now, rather than sitting out in an inner city courtyard, hiding from my desk.”
Chicken broth
Angie: “I love the mushrooms. I really like how the chicken soup is not full of chicken, it’s just the broth. And I’m not a mung bean girl, but this is amazing.”
Poached fruit and granola
Craig: “The granola has a great texture. You’ve got the soft fruit, and the crunchy granola, but some of the granola has been soaked, so you’ve got the spectrum of crunchy to mushy, it’s really nice.”
Biodynamic lamb
Angie: “That looks so pretty, look at the carrot. Gorgeous colours. Kim’s got an amazing understanding of flavour and visuals. [Kim is the head chef.] The dates in here are so beautiful.”
Julian: “Oh, is that what’s happening?”
Angie: “The meat is absolutely perfect.”
Spiced kichari
Angie: “It’s a very sweet kichiri. That is a really fascinating flavour. It’s not what I expected at all.”
Craig: “But do you like it?”
Angie: “I think I do. My brain’s changing, adapting to it. Yes, it’s beautiful.”
Julian: “For me I’d call that the butter chicken of lentils, so smooth and creamy. A bit sweet, but in a yummy way. What’s the sweetness in there, is that just pomegranate?”
Craig: “There’s yoghurt and chutney in there as well.”
Angie: “That would be the sweetness. My favourite is definitely the lamb so far. I think the kitchiri’s an awesome addition to the menu though, it’s so interesting.”

We of course finished with dessert (what would a Three Feed be without it, with our regular ritual of Angie insisting she’s full and doesn’t want any, and then attacking what comes out?). This time she couldn’t attack to heartily, although we ordered two gluten free cakes, one was dusted with her death nut, pistachio, and so she refused to go near it. This was a shame, as it was delicious. Unfortunately the chocolate muffin wasn’t so great.
Angie and Julian tried it as I tucked into the passionfruit flourless cake, and began exchanging dissatisfied glances. I thought they must be crazy.
Angie: “You’re just going to say there’s not enough chocolate in it.”
Craig (after eating a huge bite): “There’s not nearly enough chocolate in it. Not even close.”
Julian: “This passionfruit cake is moist and dense and you’ve got something to eat. This one is just…”
Angie: “It’s dry and fluffy.”
Craig: “And there shouldn’t be peanuts on it.”
Angie: “You see, there are some schools of thought that say peanuts and chocolate work very well together. You’re not into peanut in any other food unless it’s peanut butter.”
This is true. It’s also the first cake I’ve bought here (and believe me, I’ve bought a few since it opened a couple of weeks ago) that I didn’t enjoy.

Overall we had an amazing meal, and I firmly believe we would have thought the same even if the owners weren’t paying my wage. We’ll leave you with some fascinating conversation we had with Julian about Food Connect and some interesting things we learned.

On Food Connect
“Food Connect’s about connecting city folk with the people who grow their food. We deliver boxes of seasonal fruit and veggies that are sourced direct from local, sustainable farms. By that we mean 80% of the boxes are grown right in the Sydney basin, and the rest from NSW. That means it’s an opportunity to actually meet the people who grow your food. It’s not just a poster, we have dinners where people can come and eat the food and talk to the farmers who grow it.”

On what’s in season right now
“Broccoli, cabbage, caulifower, potatoes. Pumpkins are going out of season. Lettuce, spinach, silverbeets, all those sorts of things. Citrus are in season – you often think of citrus as being a summer fruit, but citrus really comes into its own over winter. Avocados are coming in. Apples of course.”

On the worst time of year for veggies
“Spring’s the worst time of year easily. You have the least variety and the prices are highest. In the olden days that’s when people used to die of famine. Winter you still had all your stores left over from autumn, but in spring you’ve run out of stores and you haven’t harvested what’s in the ground yet. [For our boxes spring is when] it gets really lean. [We look for] something that’s similar but different – for example, organic onions are unavailable in New South Wales, from now through to summer. So we try to figure out what’s the next equivalent, so you’re eating locally and in season. So, shallots grow in winter. We put shallots in the box every second week.
“That’s where we find it interesting with Food Connect – there’s a whole community of kale lovers who bow down to kale, then you’ve got everybody else who completely flips out and doesn’t know what to do with it, who can’t just step back and go this is a green leafy vegetable, I’ll use it like other green leafy vegetables, and if I cook it simply I’ll be able to taste the flavour of kale as opposed to silverbeet or spinach.”

On eating salad in winter
“People really struggle with lettuce in winter. We got Shalani McCray to write a story for us on why you would eat lettuce in winter. It grows really well in winter, it’s not stressed like it is in summer so it’s really nutrient dense, and it’s full of vitamin C which can be really hard to get in winter. So there it is, it’s growing at this time of year, it’s what your body needs – eat lettuce in winter!”

The mysticism of five
(This came about as Julian marvelled over the beautiful five pointed plates our food was served upon.) “So five’s the number for most plants, they’re separated into petals of fives or tens. Most of the fruits and vegetables are in multiples of five. Grasses are threes and sixes.”

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