Tag Archives: free-range

Our eating holiday in Sydney

I love Sydney. I love that it never seems to change and that its winters are full of brilliantly blue skies with crisp cold wind, and the food just always seems to be nothing short of fab. I do realise that there is a big difference between produce in Singapore and Sydney – simply put, nothing is fresh in Singapore, it’s all air-flown or imported. Sydney just seems to have access to seafood, meats and vegetables that always seem to amaze and delight.

There are the requisite “to do’s” of eating when I go home – yum cha and the fish markets, but D and I also managed to wander around the supermarkets and ate at simple bistros and loved it just as much as the dinner we had at Marque.

Let’s start with the supermarkets. Large, airy spaces make shopping a delight, and the produce is displayed in all their glory. Brightly coloured vegetables and fruits, an array of fresh seafood and meats at the deli counter, and the bread, oh, the bread. Crusty on the outside, soft and delicious on the inside and the choices are so many it’s almost confusing. The fresh meat all have a free-range option that does not make you raise your eyebrows at the cost – it’s all just brilliant.

Of course the restaurants/bistros etc get access to all of this (if not better as they would buy direct from the producers), so popping into Fratelli Fresh for a simple meal – the meat platter – meant we were served with this huge serving of freshly shaved meats – drizzled with a little olive oil, pepper and served with a wedge of lemon. Simple. Delicious.  And breakfast at Cafe Zoe on Bourke Street – buttery scrambled eggs cooked to wobbly perfection served with a hot cup of milky coffee.  I had food envy for the rest of our table with their omelettes and even simple sourdough toast.

The fish markets are pretty disappointingly grubby – apparently the crazy government turned down an offer by the owners of the markets to help refurbish the place. What a shame, it’s full of tourists and we should show a better game than just the seafood. The place is cold, dirty, poorly laid out. But again, the produce…I have always loved wandering around looking at the many many typed of fish available, all looking clear eyed and fresh, smelling like the sea. We ate so much there I can’t even recall everything but the standouts were the Sydney Rock Oysters – smaller than Pacific, but so so much sweeter, uni (by the container !) where the delicate taste of the sea just melted on your tongue, and good old fashioned crumbed and fried calamari.

Yum cha is still a bit hit and miss. I managed to squeeze in two – Sea Treasure up at Crows Nest which certainly deserves not to win “Chinese restaurant of the year” (and has not, since 2008) – just blah, really. For simple ease of getting parking on a weekend, we went to the Greenwood Restaurant at North Sydney on our last day. The food was much better than Sea Treasure, but the dumpling “skin” (which also meant the rice rolls) was too thick for my liking. I like it thin and slippery.  You could probably get better in Singapore, but it’s the hustle and bustle and simply being able to see the food in the trolleys that for me make yum cha the experience that it is.

All in all, I ticked all of the boxes for food that I wanted. And all in all, being back in Singapore, I am grateful that I managed to squeeze it all in a week.

Empress Chicken

We picked up a free-range, antibiotic-free and hormone-free Empress chicken from Huber’s yesterday.  I haven’t had easy access to any other chicken than what’s available at Cold Storage and at $22 for this chicken, it’s about three times the price of what I can get at Cold Storage.  And that’s not even an organic chicken, which I was hoping to buy yesterday.

But preparing the Empress chicken tonight for roasting really reminded me why we should all try to avoid cage-reared chicken.

It didn’t have that awful slime that I get with the Cold Storage chicken when I took it out of the bag and the chicken looked so plump-breasted and firm.  Even the shape of it made me think that this chicken had to work at walking around, perching, stretching its wings, and that made a really “nice”, for want of a better word, visual in my head – that the bird had a good, natural life, before it was prepared to be cooked in my oven (I know that sounds odd, but I’m not quite ready to go meat-free yet).

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, one of our favourite TV chefs and a firm supporter (along with Jamie Oliver) of free-range chicken really made an impact with his chicken run series.

Now I am trying to find out if Sakura chicken, which apparently is only available through NTUC, and is hormone/antibiotic-free, is also free-range.