Would you like coffee while you wait?

coffee ad

This advert is from a book published in Australia, in 1884. Doesn’t time fly?

It certainly  has for me, oops it’s been a long gap since my last review, in the lead up to food review #37 – which is still being written, btw.

What’s been happening? Lots! I’ve had some culinary history and foodie research on my plate which I will share with you soon.

Meanwhile, why don’t you take a moment to sit back and imagine – wherever you live – what might have been placed on your table to eat back in the 1880’s?

Below is an contemporary representation of the interior rooms of a row of old houses in Sydney’s The Rocks area – at Foundation Park. The stonework shows the actual layout of some of the rooms, which had a low ceiling height.

What to drink with your food? Spirits like rum were more available due to the lack of refrigeration for beer in the early days of colonial settlement.

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© Awia Markey – remains of buildings in Foundations Park, along Gloucester Walk

My next cafe review – of a contemporary venue – will be posted in a few weeks time. Thanks for your patience. Until then, bon appetit!

Pimp My Plate #22 – Surry Hills, NSW

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PIMP MY PLATE is my weekly series of reviews of cafés and restaurants in city and regional areas. My food challenge to have my lunch-or-brunch plate pimped for $19 or less.

‘What’s up pussycat?’

CATMOSPHERE Cat Café

Who doesn’t want to visit a cat café? And if you live in a cat-free environment, for whatever reason, then a cat café is the purrfect excuse, and place, to play with four-legged fur balls.

I was really curious what a cat café in the heart of urban Surry Hills might ‘look like’.

Catmosphere’s catizens live in a terrace house, with cafés and fashion outlets for neighbours, that you may want to purrruse after your visit.

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You can ‘pop in’ to Catmosphere anytime for a coffee, but it’s not a regular café space with cats threading themselves between your ankles and table legs. If you want to spend time with the cat residents, you need to book in, which is easily done online.

Catmosphere offers several ways to spend time with its cats: yoga with cats ($25), a party with the Cat-stronauts package (POA), or coffee and cats. I chose the Coffee + Cookies with the Catstronauts ($16.50) option, which is 30 minutes of quality cat time.

The process involves booking a play date and time with the cats and prepayment. The lengthy disclaimer makes purrrfect sense because they take their cat safety seriously. ‘As a visitor, you must not try to dress up or put makeup on the cats!’ I agree!

After I arrived at #66, I checked in at the counter and ordered my flat white coffee and cat cookie. As I glanced down the corridor I saw a cute black kitten staring back. It was love at first sight, and I was itching to give it a cuddle.

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Cat playtime is one-on-one, shared with other cat lovers in a group session. Our group waited for our turn in the small café area, surrounded by cat posters and a cat-sized magazine rack stocked with issues of PUSSWEEK magazine.

Then the ‘cat herder’ appeared and ushered us into the cat play area. It has various cat toys, bowls of cat food, and, discreetly out of view, kitty litter trays.

Any coffee taken into the cat area must be in a paper cup with a sealed lid so that no accidents occur. I also discovered that kittens – well one in particular – really liked the smell of coffee and would have had a sip if the paper cup wasn’t fitted with a lid.

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You can sit on a chair, or on the floor, and then you just …… play. Cats have such great personalities and there were no cat fights and no scratching, only backscratching.

It’s best to go with a several people you know, so book a session with a group of your cat loving friends so you can be as shamelessly silly and kitty gaga as you like. Being in a group of strangers made everyone in my session a little too well behaved, so the atmosphere wasn’t as uninhibited as I expected.

So take your feline-mad friends with you, and wiggle those cat toys shamelessly!

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The great thing about Catmosphere is that their residents are rescue cats, so your patronage helps feed and shelter these cats safely, until they’re adopted. Funny, but thinking about it later, it’s the first time I’ve played with cats that I didn’t know the names of.

And perhaps there’s a reason for that – any of the cats you play with are eligible for adoption, so if you are smitten by a kitten you’ve just spent quality time with, you can organize to adopt and take it home. Or, you can sponsor a cat for $30 per month.

It was a fun experience, and I’m keen to go back and try the Yoga with Cats session – I wonder if the downward dog asana is renamed Downward Cat?

I’ll have to go and find out!

RATED: Purrrfect!  COFFEE: 4/5
VALUE: 4/5  ATMOS: 4/5  VIBE: Catmospheric
CATMOSPHERE CAT CAFÉ – 66 Foveaux St, Surry Hills, NSW
catmospherecafe.com

Visit me on facebook at Awia’s Kitchen or twitter: @pimpmyplate   @awiaskitchen

Pimp My Plate #3 – SYDNEY, CBD

PIMP MY PLATE is my weekly series of reviews of cafés and restaurants in city and regional areas – I pop up all over over the place. My foodie challenge to find a good meal – lunch or brunch – with a limited budget of $18 or less for the main plate.

Pablo & Rusty’s 161

A great find in CBD heartland – which explains why this space is always buzzing when I walk by.

Décor is industrial chic – a marriage of metal and wood – exposed brick walls, and hanging high on a wall above, circa 1970-something, macramé hanging potted plants. But below them, planted firmly in 2016, this space is buzzing with chat.

The conversation buzzing enthusiastically at the table next to mine was punctuated with words like strategy, CEO, and Whole of Organization which can almost sound sexy when animated by the sassy 20-somethings next to me. Don’t let that corporate speak demographic put you off, because the food is great and the staff are hip and friendly, and that positive energy radiates from your plate.

I arrived at brunch time, and was too early for the lunch menu. Scanning the menu, I noticed one of my favourite feel good meals was on the Lunch menu: Jerk chicken! Served with salad, pineapple and coconut, and … Sigh! I came very close to blowing my time and at $22 my PMP budget, so brunch it was.

From the items on the breakfast menu at $18, I chose the Broccolini, asparagus and eggs mimosa with Jamon (dry-cured ham from Spain), shaved grana (a hard Italian cheese similar to parmesan), and herbed mascarpone with chilli oil, on sourdough toast.

It was pretty on the plate, and delicious to eat. I love eggs, and I could easily rename this dish Eggy Cheesy Cloud of Ecstasy!

Between mouthfuls of delight I realized I had no memory of ever eating Eggs Mimosa, and if I did, it wasn’t like this! The recipe itself is a French twist on hard boiled devilled eggs – the egg whites stuffed with a filling, the egg yolks grated over everything. Maybe it was a sentimental French cook who likened these grated yellow egg yolks to the yellow mimosa flowers that grow in Provence? If you know, please let me know.

In this version, the egg white was chopped up and mixed through the cheese, so there were no football shaped egg halves rolling around my plate to manoeuvre. I’m always happy to see green on the plate – the broccolini was crisp and textured, and the asparagus spears were wrapped in a wafer thin sliced of jamon – delicious.

Confidence radiates from the wait staff, the kitchen, and the plating, to deliver flavour and fresh quality ingredients onto your plate.

Pablo & Rusty’s 161 are single origin coffee roasters so you can buy your coffee in a cup or as a bag of beans to take home.

Entry is from Castlereagh Street, but if you walk through the ANZ Tower via 242 Pitt Street, you’ll walk up the amazing staircase in my photo and into Liberty Place.

RATED: Pimped-Real-Good    FOOD: 5/5   Value: 5/5
ATMOS: High energy buzz   VIBE: Young professional + hipster
Pablo & Rusty’s 161 – 161 Castlereagh St, Sydney, NSW

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All images © Awia Markey