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Sydney notes: Ricotta hotcakes @ bills Woollahra, Paddington Markets

By the way of Cook’s Tour a story about Bill Granger, a popular Australian chef who’s specialty are simply prepared breakfast and lunch dishes in a casual neighborhood diner setting. Granger’s bills restaurants are is a popular local hangout where you can get a newspaper, a cup of coffee and order the best eggs in the world next to Nicole Kidman or a lesser celebrity. A new spot in Tokyo is now open in addition to the three locations of bills in Sydney.

I visited the Woollahra location of bills when I was in Sydney earlier this year. It was a good way to see how the locals spend their weekend. Woollahra is a great neighborhood similar to the north end of the Houston Heights, with cafes, shops and antique stores within steps of each other. A half block away from bills is Bistro Moncur, a surprisingly casual French place (bistros are actually casual in Sydney, what a concept), which Sydney Morning Herald gives a rare two chefs hats rating and served me a rather awful meal on my last night in the city. A bit further away is Whole Foods, an organics store that seems to have stolen their identity and maybe the name itself from the US counterpart.

I skipped the world famous eggs at bills. My own recipe and technique, developed in near anonymity I must say, is almost exactly the same, although I don’t go nearly as heavy on the cream. I did order Ricotta Hotcakes with Fresh Banana and Honeycomb Butter, which is one of the most popular dishes among the locals. Sad to say the hotcakes were a disappointment. Like many dishes I had in Sydney they were entirely unseasoned and ricotta without even a smallest trace of salt (or sugar for that matter) is a fairly bland and uninteresting affair.

I think Sydneysiders would go bananas if they could taste some of the Breakfast Klub creations, although it would probably have to be called Brekkie Klub down under.

The hotcakes may be lame, but people in Sydney know how to enjoy life in a much more casual and laid back way than we do in America, where brunch can become an overdressed and fussy affair. In Sydney, you throw on some sandals and shorts, get a cup of joe at bills and walk a half mile down to Paddington Markets, which attracts a small, but vibrant crowd looking for used records, books, arts, crafts and jewelry. It’s a nice way to pass the time. I just wish the griddle cakes were better.

April 2, 2008   4 Comments