Having spent a lot of time working and playing in Sydney’s Rozelle and Balmain neighbourhoods, I get that warm, comforting feeling of familiarity every time I get back to the area. There’s a lovely atmosphere of real community in Rozelle, with a human scale to the architecture and a vibrant, eclectic mix of culture. This creative backdrop has proven to be a fertile incubator for some passionate providores, none more so than a café favourite of mine, Piccolo’s.
It’s a lazy Sunday morning as we stroll along Darling St and wind our way through dog walkers, seated café patrons, and far too enthusiastic joggers. As we step inside Piccolo’s Café, it’s one step closer to the much anticipated brew that Piccolo’s barista expertly crafts to perfection.
Piccolo’s has a welcoming feel from the street, but those in the know head straight for the funky courtyard at the rear where many an hour has been spent catching up on the latest goss or fixing the world’s problems. Perfect courtyard seat secured, fellow Coco & Vine blogger, Sonia and I tuck into the menu and order up some of Piccolo’s favourites.
The Flat White is as you’d expect – smooth, perfect temp, and of exquisite flavour. Its origin is Costa Rican, which is evident in the taste profile with notes of pear and cinnamon complimenting the base flavours of caramel and cocoa. It might have Sunday morning’s first coffee advantage, but this brew is comfortably first rate.
Regular Coco readers might be aware of my penchant for a quality chai latte. I’ll spare you my regular rant about faux chai’s from a can or bottle as there is no room to rant here. Piccolo’s Sticky Chai Latte is a light and lovely blend of sweetness and spice and everything nice that a proper chai should be.
Spend any time in the Sydney café culture lately and you’re going to find yourself faced with a myriad of pretentious “Breakfast Bowl” concoctions. I’ve dissected my way through many a bowl with a variety of experiences and often wondered if they’ve just added the latest superfood in a try-hard attempt to be trendy. Piccolo’s playfully named Yogi Berry Bowl doesn’t include any ingredients that don’t deserve to be there. The flavours and textures have been thoughtfully selected, with both taste and nutrition in mind. With a smooth creaminess that is contrasted by crunchy nuts and chewy goji berries, the Yogi Berry Bowl would easily make it onto my daily menu if I was lucky enough to live in the neighbourhood.
Growing up with a grandmother who’s history reached back to merry old England, and who’s sense of thrift had seen her through WWII, Bubble and Squeak was a loose catch all term in our home for any leftovers that could be made palatable the next day. It was often all thrown together in a single pot, or pan, and we were strongly encouraged to never question its ingredients. “…Eat it or you won’t get any sweeties…” my Nan would invariably offer if I so much as looked like I might question the culinary credentials of the indiscernible “food” on my plate.
Fast forward more than a few decades, and Bubble and Squeak a` la Piccolo’s could not be more different. This delightfully imagined interpretation has captured the a-little-bit-of-everything concept, but executed it with an eye toward taste and textures that allow each perfectly prepared ingredient to shine through. On a base of beautifully dense dark Rye, that contrasts the lighter tomato, egg, halloumi, zucchini, and sweet potato fritter topped off with sweet potato crisps, and a flourish of minted peas, this whimsically delicious dish covers all the angles.
Rozelle will always be one of my favourite urban enclaves within the eclectic mix that is Sydney. Combine the richness of the community with the access to top notch food experiences that a café like Piccolo’s has cultivated, and I can’t think of a better way to spend your Sunday morning.