You wouldn’t think of it to look at me or even after knowing me for a while, but I love kung fu movies. Not so much the comedies such as many of Jackie Chan’s movies, but the ones that came out as Chinese Hollywood hits – The House of Flying Daggers, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero…just to name a couple. I remember on my trips to Taiwan when I wasn’t even a teenager, that I spent a lot of the time while I was overseas in front of the television as I didn’t know my way around the city well enough to go outside. The free-to-air television there had over 100 channels, and on at least 10 channels at any time you would find some form of Chinese soap opera set in an ancient dynasty with people fighting using old-fashioned spears and double-edged swords, cartwheeling over roofs and being able to smash through walls and sturdy furniture simply with a well-placed fist.
Of course, I was too young to know about green screens and suspension ropes, but to me it seemed more realistic than any cartoon action movie; I truly did believe people could fly onto roofs after one another! And their speed in hand-to-hand combat! Sure, pull out a semi-automatic and the job is done, but it is so incredibly mesmerising to watch two people in a perfectly choreographed hand-to-hand fight; really akin to a beautiful dance. I wanted to learn martial arts so badly back then and I’m not sure why my parents refused (probably because they thought it wouldn’t be a very ladylike extra-curricular activity). As for now – I know that my reflexes would not make the cut..so I satisfy myself with just watching a movie now and again 😉
There’s always so much to learn from people. And I’ll tell you something else about me – I’m always meeting new people from online networking sites. Online “dating”, online “networking”; call it what you will. Working full-time, visiting the gym, blogging…I don’t really get the opportunity to meet new people in my weekly routine. And while I have a warm, lovely circle of close friends from high school and university, it always is so nice to sit down with a stranger and discover.
I particularly love discovering people who love food. There is nothing that gets me more excited. Another friend to eat out with, another friend to drag along to blogger events when I need a plus one, another friend to be my taste-test guinea-pig. This new friend suggested our first meet to be a breakfast event, and with a few texts going back and forth suggesting locations, she put “Cafe Mint” out there. I’m of course always looking for new places to blog about, so I readily agreed.
The clever girl had predicted that I’d probably want to have a look at the menu before the event and had linked me. I made up my mind before I was even there at 10am on a beautifully sunny Sydney Sunday. I arrived first.
Cafe Mint is located on Crown Street near the main intersection of Crown and Cleveland. It’s decked out with warm wooden furniture and backless short stools and short tables – perfect for those with short legs like me 😉
The barista was leaning with his elbows on the counter, chin in his hands staring out the door when I walked in and he greeted me like an old friend. “Breakfast for two? Sure thing. Sit anywhere you like. Can I get you anything for a drink?”
I had had to walk from Central over to Crown Street and was dying for something cold. An iced coffee, please.
No, I didn’t order two. He had made too much and poured it into an extra glass. So much iced coffee! I can’t even remember how much it cost, but it was whatever the standard price of an iced coffee is these days.
The ice had been blended into it so it had a nice, thick slushy-like texture. I’m seriously not a fan of cafes that just throw some ice cubes into the milk and call it “iced”; it’s not iced enough for me! It was quite sweet but the sweetness didn’t taste like sugar. The sweetness had more of a depth, like honey.
Well, my breakfast companion had arrived at this point. After exchanging pleasantries and we got so carried away chatting that we remembered we should probably get something to eat.
She had been here previously and said had no choice but to go with the Breakfast Couscous ($15.90)
It’s couscous with sweet spices, poached dry fruit compote, honey yoghurt and hot milk (she chose to have it with soy). Served hot, it’s very sweet and very creamy with lots of headily-fragranced spices. There wasn’t so much of a balance with the sweetness and perhaps I would have preferred some more pistachios to combat the heady-sweetness of the poached fruit. It was a very filling, yet very sustaining breakfast bowl.
There is so much on their breakfast menu and a lot of it was savoury, but I had made up my mind before the morning and had to stick with my decision.
The Kuneffeh ($16.50) was baked shredded kataifi pastry, folded over with sweet ricotta and sultanas. Served with yoghurt and fruit compote. Preeeetty epic, hey?
It was heaven. Crunchy and crispy, yet soft at the bottom with the ricotta soaked into the pastry. A slight saltiness from the pastry took the edge off of the honeyed ricotta and the sultanas. The creamy yet light flavour of the ricotta. I could only describe it as eating a soft, crunchy and creamy cloud. But as amazing as it was, it was still too much for me and I manage to get through about two thirds of it. The fruit compote was the same as the one that accompanied the Breakfast Couscous and so I ate it sparingly as it was very sweet.
The cafe started to become very crowded around 11am as the locals began to stumble in bleary-eyed from their Sunday sleep-in, and so we decided to pay the bill and go our separate ways to enjoy the rest of the Sunday sun.
it’s clear to see that the cafe has a distinctly Turkish/Moroccan/Middle-Eastern influence, with their lunch and dinner menus filled with lamb kefta, za’atar and chackchouka and flavours of Persian limes, saffron and harissa. It’s exotic food and while it has some elements such as Sicilian olives thrown into the mix, you wouldn’t call it “fusion”, or even “hipster”. It’s refreshing to find a cafe in this area that doesn’t try and compete with their counterparts as to how much Sriracha, Japanese mayonnaise and salted caramel they can add to their menu.
I imagine this would be an ideal place to visit during a balmy and lazy Sydney summer’s evening and to share a few of their fragrant dishes.
579 Crown Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9319 0848