Our first post in 2019 is also the first of its kind in our website. This year we’d like to promote a deeper discussion about all the little things we can do to achieve a better lifestyle, while contributing to positive change that will help save our planet.
Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start to look for tips and (credible) references to inform the choices we make everyday. We have therefore selected a few smartphone “green” apps that make it easy to live sustainably (note that most of these apps are available for both iOS and Android, but not always. Some are free, some aren’t. And all are subject to sudden unavailability. Check your app store of choice.)
Learning how to bring safer, kinder products and food into our homes can be a daunting task. FoodSwitch allows you to scan packaged food to see what’s in it. FoodSwitch classic can be used for everyone looking to make generally healthier food choices. SaltSwitch mode has been designed to help people looking specifically to lower their salt intake. GlutenSwitch mode helps people living with coeliac disease or gluten intolerance. Developed by Bupa in partnership with The George Institute for Global Health.
The Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide is a free app developed by the Australian Marine Conservation Society “in response to growing public concern about overfishing and its impact on our oceans and their wildlife”. It is designed to “help you make informed seafood choices and play a part in swelling the tide for sustainable seafood in Australia”. Check their video below:
The Local Food Loop helps you find the best fresh food that is grown, prepared and available in your local area. Growers, farm-gate sales, markets, cafes & eateries and specialty product retailers – they are all there.
Did you know that food wastage costs the average NSW family over $1000 per year? Love Your Leftovers is a very nice little app that helps you minimise food waste. All you have to do is type in whatever ingredients you might have and they’ll find you something to make.
Rippl lets you set all kinds of environmental goals, suggests actions you can take to meet them, and helps you incorporate the actions it offers into your life via suggested routines, reminders, and more.
The ABC Vegie Guide App is a must-have tool for any home gardener. It will give you all the information you need to produce healthy crops throughout the year, including growing tips, pest and disease control pointers and harvest guides.
OzAtlas will add a rich level of information to your bush walks, which is great fun for the entire family! This is huge; I won’t even try to describe it. Check it for yourself on their website.
Finally, JouleBug is a delightful app to use with family and friends. Beautifully designed, it offers tips to save energy, shows the money you’ll save, rewards the actions you take, and lets you compete with other users for the conservation crown through a mix of social networking and gamification. Check it out:
We haven’t even scratched the surface of environmental mobile apps, but this will get you started. Keep on looking for more and you’ll turn your smart phone or tablet into a portable planet-saving super computer.
New year, new ideas. We’re introducing a new concept for dinner, where friends and community come together to share a meal and have a good time.
The Friday Family Dinner’s menu changes weekly, and will be composed of a hot main and a vegetarian option. Kids can choose between a kids portion of the main, and something designed especially for them. It goes without saying that the menus will follow Le Trèfle’s principles of prioritising organic, seasonal and local produce, to deliver healthy, fresh, wholesome, honest and delicious food.
Raj, our new Head Chef, will no doubt have a lot of fun creating menus that will bring together comfort food with a modern twist, traditional cooking methods and ingredients with the unexpected, taking your palate to new, interesting places. He may come up with one-pot dinners, where diners share from various dishes on the table. Or maybe something thematic, like a dress up dinner. From times to times, we’ll have live music too.
Because the point is for you wind down from a busy week, sit down and relax, have a drink, meet people, make new friends, or catch up with old ones, we won’t be selling it as takeaway.
A limited choice of galettes and dessert crêpes will be available.
The weekly Friday Family Dinner’s menu will be published at the beginning of the week, so you get plenty of time to secure a place around our table for you and your family. Please follow our Twitter account (@letreflecafe) to know the week’s menu. For bookings, please call 02 9975 2290.
We woke up in 2016 stoked with the news that we’ve been awarded the top Hygiene and Food Safety rating by the Warringah Council and the NSW Food Authority’s Scores on Doors program.
What’s great about the Scores on Doors rating system is that it’s no longer up to restaurants to go out on a limb claiming how clean and tidy they are; local councils and the NSW Food Authority do that instead. The score is determined following a standardised Food Premises Assessment, which levels the playing field for everyone, and allow customers to make informed choices.
So thanks to our hardworking staff – particularly Roxy and Fernando – for understanding how important that is and for walking the extra mile to make it happen. All the love and care that you put in your work has paid off.
Thanks too to our customers and friends for understanding and appreciating the effort that goes into making food that not only tastes great but that is also clean, safe and healthy.
Celebrated exactly 40 days after Chrismas, on February 2nd, Candlemas is essentially synonymous with conviviality. This tradition, originally a Roman feast, has been continued from generation to generation.
Not only do the French eat a lot of crêpes on Chandeleur, but they also do a bit of fortune telling while making them. It is traditional to hold a coin in your writing hand and a crêpe pan in the other, and flip the crêpe into the air. If you manage to catch the crêpe in the pan, your family will be prosperous for the rest of the year.
There are all kinds of French proverbs and sayings for Chandeleur; here are just a few:
À la Chandeleur, l’hiver cesse ou reprend vigueur
On Candlemas, winter ends or strengthens
À la Chandeleur, le jour croît de deux heures
On Candlemas, the day grows by two hours
Chandeleur couverte, quarante jours de perte
Candlemas covered (in snow), forty days lost
Rosée à la Chandeleur, hiver à sa dernière heure
Dew on Candlemas, winter at its final hour
La Chandeleur Week Specials
La Maradona crêpe $15
Dulce de leche (milk caramel), whipped cream, banana, roasted hazelnuts
Le Trèfle enjoys a lot of praise and recognition from most customers, which brings us great satisfaction and encouragement to keep pushing forward (thank you very much). At the same time, some people rate us as “nice food, but pricey” and I’d like to address that in this post.
Even before I embarked on the journey of opening and running a restaurant I decided that, if I was to do it, a couple of basic principles would have to be followed:
It should only serve the type of food I’d give to my own children, i.e. healthy, wholesome and fresh
The business should be run ethically
Why? The science of climate change is there and if we want to do something about it we should probably start making different life choices. That includes the way we do business. As Einstein once famously said, we cannot solve problems with the same mindset that created them. In other words, businesses can no longer consciously focus solely on profit; environmental and social responsibility must be equally factored into the solution.
From a high-level perspective, the current food system is utterly unsustainable. It uses more fossil fuels than any other industry. Worldwide, agriculture accounts for 70% of all water consumption, compared to 20% for industry and 10% for domestic use. Nearly 40% of all food produced is wasted.
What we stand for
There’s enormous pressure on all of us to buy food that is cheap, unhealthy, high in calories, sugar, fat, and sodium from large food corporations, driving obesity, heart diseases and diabetes.
Le Trèfle wants to provide an alternative to this. We prioritise sustainable, organic, local and seasonal produce whenever we can. We make most of our food from scratch, always pushing the limits of our kitchen equipment and skills to keep all the nasties away from our food. What cannot be made in-house is bought from other local farmers and artisans – who are paid a fair price for their products – not only to reduce food miles, but also to keep the local economy afloat and preserve biodiversity.
We promote healthy eating not through the latest fad diets or trendy superfoods. Instead, we prioritise clean, fresh produce and quality ingredients put together in balanced meals. Ok, our signature dish is crêpes, which can be perceived as an unhealthy indulgence by many, but even there we use organic unbleached wheat flour, free-range eggs, milk from happy cows, and make all our toppings in-house from natural ingredients (except for, uh, Nutella). Our galettes (savoury crêpes), on the other hand, are fully made from scratch – we mill our own buckwheat flour in-house – and are complemented with high-quality ingredients. Furthermore, alternatives to crêpes and galettes are available in our menu.
The cost structure
Not all restaurants are run the same nor do they have the same pricing structure. The following factors inform the price charged for a meal, roughly:
Food costs (or cost of sales) – the cost of the ingredients used to produce the meal
Labour costs – the cost to prepare and serve the meals
Restaurants are eminently low-margin businesses. From a procurement perspective, owners are under the same pressure from Big Food to buy processed, ready to cook foods, as you and I are when we go to the supermarket. Writing for The New York Times, Liz Alderman noted this:
For restaurants eager to maintain a competitive edge, padding a menu with ready-made dishes is economically attractive — even if no one dares to admit it.
Mark Bittman, renowned food writer and critic, has this to say:
By relying increasingly over the years on fast and pre-prepared food in most arenas of our lives, we — including, at this point, the celebrated French — have allowed un-fresh food to take over.
Exactly the same thing happens in Australia, to the point where importing baguettes frozen from overseas makes more financial sense than buying organic bread, made by hand in Sydney. In France nowadays up to 80% of the croissants are made in a centralised plant and heated onsite, according to Philippe Godard, a spokesman for the French bakery and patisserie business federation. We could easily do that too, but we choose not to because environmentally (food miles) and socially (production value chain and jobs located overseas) it makes no sense at all. Which means we probably cannot compete with the average food joint on price, but we can arguably beat them on quality.
Restaurants are also eminently cash-based businesses. It is very easy to operate on the basis of payments taken over the counter, i.e. unregistered sales, and payments to personnel cash-in-hand (therefore avoiding taxes and other administrative dues). We choose not to do that either because paying taxes is one of the ways how individuals and businesses give back to the communities where they live and operate. We also choose to pay industry award – including weekend penalty rates – to all our staff, at a minimum. Along with our efforts towards environmental responsibility, this is where the social responsibility kicks in. And this is what I mean by ethical business.
But that’s the legal minimum, one might argue. Granted, but it’s far from being the norm in the industry – just ask a little around.
Making food from scratch means that a higher labour cost component must be factored into the overall cost structure, even in tightly-run kitchens. To give you an example, it takes two hours in front of the stove to make dulce de leche (milk caramel) from pure milk. It may seem trivial, but compare the hourly cost of a kitchen hand or chef with the price of an off-the-shelf jar (full of thickeners, colouring, added flavours, sodium and preservatives).
As discussed above, food waste is a global phenomenon. We try our hardest to minimise our waste and, when we do need to throw stuff away, we pay extra money to have appropriate waste bins for recycling and composting. In the near future, we’ll make our own compost in-house to feed a projected veggie garden at the back of the premises.
I also opted to buy electricity to run our cool room, fridges, LED lamps and other electrical equipment from 100% renewable sources. A foolish idea? Maybe. But is only through supporting the development of renewable energies that we’ll mitigate our dependence on a fossil fuel-based economy.
So, what’s a fair price to pay for a meal?
“Buying local, seasonal and organic, how hard can it be?”, I thought when I started. Avocados at $5.00 a pop anyone? The final menu price is usually a 1:3 – 1:5 factor of the food cost to cover refrigeration, labour to prepare, present and serve the food, wash the dishes, replace crockery, cutlery glasses, staff training, etc. That ratio varies from one restaurant to the other, and even between dishes and products within a same restaurant. It would theoretically mean that a simple avocado, for instance – costing $5.00 to the restaurant owner – would have to be priced somewhere between $15 – $25. This is a simplistic example – in reality restaurants typically deal with cost fluctuations by spreading margins across products to keep price consistent, often meaning selling something at a loss – but you get the idea.
Likewise, I do not have chicken in the menu because the cost of organic chicken is more than double that of industrial chicken. I don’t support industrial chicken because of this:
As organic farming techniques are closing the gap on conventional yields, we might be able to offer organic meat at reasonable prices soon.
In conclusion, the price that you pay for cheap food in reality carries a hidden, higher social and environmental cost. It may not get out of your pocket now, but it will tomorrow.