This weekend I had originally planned to be a quiet one – it was going to be my last completely free Saturday before the year finishes and I was looking forward to spending a lazy day at the beach followed by some shopping. It wasn’t to be however, as on Friday evening I attended a Zumba Pop-Up class at Hard Candy Gym in Sydney which featured some taster routines of the new group fitness class that has been launching all over the UK: Bounce DanceFit. Franco Conquesta, the director of Bounce DanceFit was in Australia to launch the program and train instructors to kickstart the program into gyms and studios across our cities. Like Zumba, it falls into the “dance for fitness” category, but has a distinctive street-dance style to its movements and takes inspiration from the 80’s and 90’s pop tunes, as well as commercial and house tracks. To say that I fell instantly in love with it is an understatement. I immediately forked out my money and signed up to the all-day instructor training workshop which was to take place the next day.
Can you imagine doing a 9am to 5pm all-day dance workshop? Other than our one hour lunch break and two 20 minute breaks where we ran over some theory and course particulars, we were constantly on our feet – doing a one hour demo masterclass led by Franco, breaking down dance styles, choreographing routines on our own, in groups, and presenting them individually for final assessment. It was physically one of the most gruelling days I’ve ever experienced, and I have to say the only thing that kept me going to the end was the pure enthusiasm and excitement of everyone in the room. About nine people did the instructor course with me, and the majority of them were already in the fitness industry – some casual cover Zumba instructors like me, others that made a career out of fitness internationally and were trained in a variety of fitness disciplines. I don’t come from a dance background at all; I simply just love music, movement, and enjoy meeting new people, and to work with well-known instructors in the fitness industry and to have them ask me for my opinion on dance moves was nothing short of flattering. No matter our day jobs though, every single one of us left at the end of the day shaking on exhausted feet; I went home immediately for a long shower and change of clothes, before promptly falling into bed.
One of the girls at the course who I have met previously through Zumba was talking to me during our lunch break regarding diets. She said she was fairly relaxed and not overly disciplined about what she ate – counting on her regular exercise routine to help keep her in shape. She exclaimed that on Facebook, she had seen all the food I eat as a food blogger and I hurried to say that I don’t actually eat like that on a daily basis. Sure, while I will scoff down a burger once a fortnight or so, for example today I’ve packed a week’s worth of brown rice and chicken salad lunchboxes, and at the moment the chicken carcass is simmering away for broth I can cool, bag and freeze; saving it to enjoy with some vegetables some other time.
I do love a good burger and I do crave one now and again. I’ve never been a fan of denying yourself; the more you say “no” to something, the more it hangs around and pesters you and then eventually you give in in the most horrible way. Better to have a small piece of chocolate now and make yourself happy then eat two blocks of the stuff later, amirite?
This particular evening where I felt like a burger was rainy and miserable, and I had just finished a long Friday at work. Night Owl had finished a work shift and was en route to another with some time to spare, so we met up and I requested that we check out the new Burger Project that had opened up in the MLC Centre in Martin Place.
I had attended the opening of Neil Perry’s Burger Project at World Square last year, and my thoughts on it had not been overwhelmingly positive. Perry had responded to the public’s feedback since that time, and for a few months now has settled with a classic menu that has had better reviews. After realising that my old favourite Mary’s has down-sized their classic cheeseburger, I’ve been going to Burger Project for the American Cheese ($9.90) for my cheeseburger hits.
The MLC Centre shop is surprisingly deserted for a Friday just-after-work evening, although the wet weather may have turned some people away. There’s seating around the back identical to the World Square set-up, and you’re given a buzzer for your order. Offices nearby can even make bulk orders online, which I think is a rather dangerous idea.
A food blogger friend who also happens to be the admin of the Fatties Burger Appreciation Society had recommended that The Bacon Project ($13.90) may be worth a try, and so I did. It’s basically the American Cheese with added bacon. $4 worth of bacon though? I’m not sure about $4 worth, but it certainly was quite the sight:
The Bacon Project boasts a soft bun that is easily squashed between your hands, not too much onion, melted cheese, amazing house-made pickles, and that signature 36-month grass fed Cape Grim beef chuck and brisket patty cooked to a perfect, juicy medium. The few rashers of beautifully crisp bacon was the icing on the cake, and I devoured this baby like there was no tomorrow. With the patty cooked well and a good amount of secret sauce, I didn’t find my burger dry in the slightest.
The Fried Chicken ($10.50) was Night Owl’s choice, being crumbed and fried free-range chicken breast fillet with lettuce, tomato, cheese and rose mayonnaise (basically mayo with a bit of tomato sauce in it). This was a much lighter-tasting burger which she enjoyed, and while the lean chicken was still succulent and nicely crispy, the burger overall was bordering on the slightly-dry side and could have done with a heavier lashing of rose mayo.
Chips and drinks? Chips we ordered a small each of the regular salt and chipotle chilli salt ($2.90 each) and found we preferred the regular the best. The chipotle chilli had a somewhat bitter flavour to it similar to that of smoked paprika which both of us were a bit “meh” about. Drinks I indulged in a Salted Caramel Real Shake ($6.50) which was downright delicious but which I couldn’t finish, whereas Night Owl opted for the lighter Strawberry House-Made Soda ($4.50) which tasted like a strawberry-flavoured sparkling mineral water and wasn’t too sweet.
We had actually started our dinner with these babies, as melted ice cream is a horrifying thing to witness. I think next time though, should I feel like an ice cream from Burger Project I will order it on its own rather than stuffing myself with a burger, fries and drink on top of all of it! A girl can only take so much….
Ice creams I had ordered the Bounty Hunter ($6.00 – left) with vanilla bean ice cream, Valrhona chocolate sauce, toasted coconut and crushed meringue. The chocolate sauce had done that characteristic thing where as soon as it had been spooned over the ice cream, it froze rock-hard and I couldn’t penetrate it with my flimsy plastic spoon to get to the vanilla ice cream. I had to scoop around it – and I did want the vanilla ice cream as it was really good quality too. A nice idea and combination, but not very practical.
Night Owl liked her Blueberry Pie ($6.00) which was vanilla bean ice cream with blueberry compote and crumble – a beautifully classic combination of flavours and textures.
It’s great to have another branch of Burger Project that’s not ridiculously cramped like its World Square counterpart, although now it’s a whole lot more dangerous as it’s across the road from my office 😦
The Burger Project
Shop 6.22, Lower Ground Floor
The MLC Centre
19 Martin Place
Sydney NSW 2000