Week 22: The organic restaurant

Agapé

I think I can hear your mind ticking over as you read the title… Well you’re wrong. You know, if you’re thinking what I think you’re thinking. I think.

Tucked away close to Sydney Airport is a rear gem- Agapé- an organic restaurant with a difference…

Nutrition- 8

Taste- 8

Service- 8

Ambience- 5

Extra mile- 5

Budget – Medium

*Scores are out of 10

Agapé: Overall rating – 34/50 on a medium budget

Mike

First off let me say this (Mild disclaimer)- yes we often frequent organic and natural style cafes, restaurants and eateries, and it’s because we value the food we eat and the impact it has on our bodies and also it shows that they are out there and there is some wonderful healthy places to eat. You just have to find them.

Ok. That’s off my chest.

When you think of an organic restaurant, often thoughts of a more, shall we say, rustic setting come to mind; organic everything, including the mandatory bare foot, dreadlocked and slightly hippy staff. Well, this has been somewhat true for a while, however, times… they are a changing…

Agapé is different. Sure, it’s organic and they clearly pride themselves on the fact that they are Australia’s largest organic restaurant, however, they aren’t anything like the aforementioned stereotype. Agapé is a clean, stylish and well put together restaurant, nothing like its more grubby cousins.

I didn’t really know what to expect heading there, only that their pizzas were amazing. A friend had recommended we go there, in fact his exact words were this- “order at least 3 pizzas – that good!”

Pretty hard to argue with that.

Now the reason we went was not purely because of such a sterling nod, but because the organic element and that these so called amazing pizzas are on a spelt base.

speltYou what?

Yes spelt. Spelt is a grain in the wheat family and is a great alternative to normal wheat in the diet.

The reasons vary, but for the most part spelt has a better nutritional profile and is easier digested and therefore, these nutrients absorbed.

Spelt, along with other wheat alternatives used at Agapé amaranth and quinoa, are great options when it comes to eating grainy carbs.

Their nutrient dense nature as well as the relative ease on the digestive system mean that a rare foray into the world of eating pizza is much easier, not only on our stomachs, but on our health and bodies. The gluten in spelt breaks down a lot easier than wheat gluten and means following my friend’s recommendation of smashing pizzas was happily followed. Well, not 3…

Agapé isn’t just a pizza restaurant; it has an amazing looking list of mains which utilise seasonal, organic, natural and sustainable foods. However, upon recommendation we decided this was going to be night of pizza for us.

Meatball pizzaWe ordered the Wagyu beef meatball and the Patagonian scallop pizzas with a side salad of cos, apple, pecorino, honey, mustard dressing.

They were pretty damn good, and did have me thinking a third pizza could easily have been knocked off… in fact I’ve never been much of a seafood pizza fan, however, the prawns and scallops on this one were simply awesome. And I’m yet to find too many meatballs that I don‘t like…

For me Agapé was an absolute winner, offering some beautiful organic, biodynamic and chemical free wines, making enjoying a glass of red with a healthier pizza all the more satisfying and delicious.

I’ll let NN talk more about organic and what to look/look out for, but from me- eating pizza can be a possibility, just get the right options in.

If you want to know more about spelt or how this kind of option can fit into your diet then drop me a line or leave a comment below.

Nards

scallop pizzaI ordered my first ever seafood pizza at Agapé, and I loved it!  I’m not really a pizza fan either, but I will certainly be going back to Agapé just to get me one of those again.  Be warned, it’s not like your typical pizza, in that the crust is very thin and greasy, so if you are hoping to get a Dominos equivalent you won’t (you really shouldn’t be eating Dominos pizza anyways!).

Agapé was in a perfect location as we were waiting for my Mum and Aunty to arrive from NZ, so I highly suggest that next time you pick someone up from the Sydney Airport (or drop them off) or visiting Sydney yourself, you factor in an Agapé detour.

As MC mentioned, the whole place prides itself on its organic, sustainable produce, and it got me wondering what ‘Organic’ really means.  I mean, we eat organic, we spend money on organic products and we go out of our way to visit organic cafes and restaurants at times – are we being duped and what is the legislation around the term ‘organic’ in Australia?

After a bit of research this is what I have found, so I hope that this goes some ways into helping you understand the term, and the whole concept a lot better.

cos side saladAccording to the National Standard for Organic and Bio-organic produce, the definition of organic is:

  • the application of practices that emphasise the: –
    • use of renewable resources; and –
    • conservation of energy, soil and water; and –
    • recognition of livestock welfare needs; and
    • environmental maintenance and enhancement, while producing optimum quantities of produce without the use of artificial fertiliser or synthetic chemicals.

With Bio-dynamic meaning:  an agricultural system that introduces specific additional requirements to an organic system. These are based on the application of preparations indicated by Rudolf Steiner and subsequent developments for management derived from practical application, experience and research based on these preparations.

In other words, ‘organic’  and ‘bio-dynamic’ foods, must be produced in lands, and using methodologies that are completely natural and free of all chemicals, preservatives, artificial fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators, hormones and antibiotics.  Livestock is also treated humanely and with respect.

Unfortunately in Australia anyone can call themselves or label their products as ‘organic’ and ‘bio-dynamic’, so the only real way that you can trust the source, is if it has been certified organic by one of the AQIS (Australian Quarantine Inspection Services) approved certifying bodies.  These are:

Australian Certified Organic         

ACO-logo-web2

NASAA:  National Association of Sustainable Agriculture Australia

NASAA

OFC:  Organic Food Chain

Organic-Food-Chain

AUS-QUAL

aus-qual

Demeter

demeter-biodynamic-logo

SFQ:  Safe food Queensland

safe food QLD

TOP:  Tasmanian Organic Producers

top

The ACO, NASAA and OFC are the most stringent in that these bodies also cover non-food group items such as beauty products and cosmetics. Each of these bodies is independently audited and verified on an annual basis from the AQIS, to ensure standards are kept high.

Get to know these labels so that you may better recognise those products that are endorsed by these bodies.

If you want information about organics on an International level then go visit IFOAMInternational Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements      

Put simply, if you are buying organic or bio-dynamic products that do not have any of the above symbols on them, then you can be sure that they ARE NOT the real deal, put the phoney back on the shelve where it belongs!

People often ask why we choose organics products, and as you know we keep harping on about quality health and quality ingredients, and a part of that is enjoying the additional taste that organic, real foods bring to the mouth.  Whether organic products have more nutrients or anti-oxidants is debateable (numerous studies have shown that organic foods contain the same amounts of nutrients as their non-organic counterparts), however, we choose to eat organics not for what is in it, but more for what is not.  Something to ponder.

Hope this has helped J

NN

MC Note: often simply certified organic isn’t enough to quantify quality food, you’ll see organic sugar and organic sunflower oil, for example. These can be organic or not, either way avoiding them for the most part if desired. Don’t let the organic tag fool you into thinking something is good for you. Organic cigarettes are still cigarettes, know what I mean?

2 comments on “Week 22: The organic restaurant

  1. I LOVE agape!! Next time you have to try some of their non pizza dishes they are equally amazing & melt in the mouth. So is the food truck which is down at the Opera House for Vivid. Top choice guys.

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