Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Gorging for a month...

After a bit of a work induced blogging hiatus I thought it would be fun to reminisce about the month of eating that has led me to hitting the gym almost every day and subsisting on Lite'n Easy for a few weeks; desperate measures to avoid buying new jeans and to get ready for an upcoming northern hemisphere summer visit.


I ducked into Meatmother in Richmond with my Kansas City barbecue obsessed father and barbecue novice BF to check out what the 'cue in Richmond was like. From a Melbourne perspective it was decent but I probably wouldn't repeat visit if it were located in the US (to be fair i have only been to top notch barbecue restaurants in KC and Austin and my dad regularly smokes me low and slow ribs of amazingness). If only Aaron Franklin would set up shop in Melbourne.

Pork ribs with a side of BBQ beans

Brisket with slaw 

Beef short rib with mac and cheese
Highlights: the bacon old fashioned, the fun bartender, the sides, the short rib and the pork ribs
Avoid: the brisket if you've ever been to Texas and eaten barbecue - it is nicely cooked beef but missing a smokiness

Meatmother on Urbanspoon

Work lunch @PM24

My team at work went for a celebratory lunch at PM24 after a major deadline.

The three course set menu was good value. I had the pork terrine, the rotisserie chicken and the pear and almond tart (and a fair amount of wine...). The chicken was the highlight.


Rotisserie chicken

Almond and pear tart

Pork terrine
I personally think that there are regional restaurants that are doing more exciting and consistent food that probably deserve more hats than PM24.

PM24 on Urbanspoon

Spring St Grocer

I've been in to Spring St Grocer a few times since it opened (so many times for the gelati when the gelateria opened last year). Since the grocer/deli/cheesemonger section opened, I've found that their interesting array sandwiches make an excellent addition to my work lunch options (prices ranging from $10 for a more basic sandwich to $16 for one with foie gras). They started out with a menu of over 20 sandwiches but are curating them down to a few less. Usually I would be unhappy about that, but in this case it will help reduce that feeling of being overwhelmed by choice. 

Pastrami on rye
 Spring St Grocer's take home pasta sauces are also worth a look if you're feeling lazy - absolutely delicious.

Spring St Grocer on Urbanspoon

EARL Canteen

After hearing that EARL would be opening a second outpost in Collins Place I developed an insurmountable craving for pork belly that could only be cured by a long trek down to the legal district for a sandwich meal aka crackling delivery device. EARL's pork belly has long been one of my favourite sandwiches in Melbourne. 

EARL Canteen on Urbanspoon

Mildura Brewery Pub and Stefano's Bakery Cafe

On a recent whirlwind work consultation trip to Mildura we ducked into Mildura Brewery for a decent pub lunch. I ordered the rump steak thinking it would be the smaller of the three steaks on offer, but ended up with one of the largest steaks ever seen in Australia. It was huge. It was also very flavoursome, properly aged, and well cooked.

Giant steak

Mildura Brewery Pub on Urbanspoon

We also had a lovely breakfast at Stefano's cafe with passable coffee. Both are worth a visit if you find yourself in Mildura.

Poached eggs with mushrooms, goats curd and hollandaise
Stefano's Cafe Bakery on Urbanspoon

Industry Beans

A good friend of mine, who rarely gets excited about eating out, recently sent me an excited text about the food at Industry Beans. I'm glad I took her recommendation and trawled the back streets of Fitzroy to drop in for a weekend 'brunch' (at around 3pm). 

The coffee is exceptional and the kitchen is keeping up by delivering innovative dishes that tie in with the coffee. I really enjoyed the cold drip 'caviar' with the French toast. 
French toast
Deep fried poached eggs
Chat potatoes

Industry Beans on Urbanspoon

An afternoon on the peninsula: La Pétanque

On the Saturday before mother's day I took my mum for a pampering afternoon on the Mornington Peninsula.

We started out with a decadent lunch at La Pétanque in the gourmet hamlet of Main Ridge (also home to Ten Minutes by Tractor). This was risky because nice restaurants have an innate ability to fail miserably when I happen to take my mum to them. Luckily that didn't happen this time. 

La Pétanque is a set in beautiful location is a posh meets rustic 'barn'. It also has a little spot to actually play pétanque while overlooking the grounds. 

The setting
We started with a delightful amuse bouche of saffron poached potato creme fraiche and salmon roe.

Our entree was an exquisite dish of dill cured salmon with blue swimmer crab with gin and tonic jelly. 

My mum had the crown roasted pheasant special that was resting on a cassoulet and topped with latticed potato. It was fantastic but slightly overshadowed by my main (which I of course shared). 

The Aylesbury duck breast is the best overall duck dish that I have ever eaten (and I have eaten a lot of duck). The breast was perfectly cooked: juicy, a bit pink and with crispy skin (but not so crispy that it was hard). The duck liver parfait was a richly spiced accompaniment to the duck that added that level of decadence that could make you feel guilty as you eat - if you were that way inclined. The rhubarb and sous vide beetroot added an earthy balance. There is a wistful tear in my eye just thinking about it as a write this. 

Our dessert was a wintry rhubarb ice cream with rice pudding crumbed apple.

Highlights: everything, the duck, the location, the service

La Petanque on Urbanspoon

We followed lunch up with a visit to Peninsula Hot Springs for more relaxation. I would recommend a visit if you haven't been. The hill top pool has a spectacular view and the facilities (which include a hammam steam room) are lovely.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Twelve days of gluttony...

At the tail end of the spring racing carnival, after countless canapés, innumerable glasses of champagne, beautiful fashion and too much dancing, I thought I would have a bit of down time before the season got too silly. 

This was (of course) ambitious and I was drawn into the whirl of social engagements and temptations to eat out that emerge with the sunshine after a dreary Melbourne winter. I didn’t really think about blogging during most of these dining expeditions so the photos are a bit light on—thanks to me being heavier on the wine or gin and tonics or ciders. Therefore, I have decided to whack together a few of the highlights in one post (let me know if you like this format and I’ll do some more of them). 

Intimate Dinner @ Añada

Añada is one of those warm and inviting restaurants that has a great atmosphere for a date or a catch-up with a friend. It’s also a bit of an institution in the Melbourne Spanish dining scene and has been since Jesse Gerner opened it on a (then) quiet part of Gertrude Street in 2008. My friends that have been to both Añada and MoVida argue about which out of the two they prefer, but from those discussions and my own experience I would say that Añada is traditional where MoVida is innovative.  Jesse Gerner has also opened the Aylesbury in the city to compete in the more cutting edge arena. 

On the Friday evening of my visit, I started with the Valformosa Brut Cava ($10.50), while my dinner date had a G&T. our drinks accompanied some freshly shucked oysters that were small and luscious ($3.80 each). 

We shared a variety of tapas, including: the salt cod and garlic shoot croquetas ($3.50), the grilled quail with freekah and pomegranate seeds ($6.50), bone marrow on toast and fried cauliflower with zataar and yogurt ($4.50). The highlights were the out of control decadence of the marrow on toast and the grilled quail.

Our choices for raciones were the deliciously soft fleshed and crispy skinned pork belly with fennel seed and smoky aubergine and the rich slow roasted beef cheeks in oloroso with fava bean puree (both $20). We had the beetroot with mint and labne on the side. 

Añada on Urbanspoon
Coffee @ Market Lane, Prahran Market

My favourite weekend coffee place is Market Lane. It’s consistently awesome due to their high quality beans and milk (Jonesy’s) and top notch skilled baristas. Another benefit is its location next to all of the deliciousness inside the Prahran Market.

Market Lane Coffee on Urbanspoon

Pizza dinner @ Baby Pizza
I ducked into Baby Pizza on a sunny Sunday evening for a quick post-pub/staving off a hangover dinner with friends. We kicked off with a refreshing campari and prosecco spritzer.
We started with the bufala caprese salad ($18.5), which on that night had some quality issues with the bufala. However, my housemate, Chuck, has subsequently brought home the caprese with some pizzas and the bufala was fine, but I still don’t love the addition of olives to caprese.

We also had the broccolini with anchovies, garlic and chilli ($13.5).

Our first pizza has ruined me for all other hangover cure pizzas ($18.50). The guianciale alla carbonara is a naughty mix of guanciale, pecorino, fior di latte and egg yolk on a pretty awesome base. It is the kind of pizza you should inhale within three minutes of it getting to the table for premium enjoyment.

We also had the fior de zucca ($18.50).

The other highlight of our meal was the decadent crème caramello (sorry no photo). Chuck’s very apt description was ‘sex in mouth’.

Baby Cafe & Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Sandwich lunch @ Martha Ray’s
On a sunny Tuesday one of my regular lunch buddies and I decided to jump on a tram to Fitzroy in search of sandwiches instead of our usual lurking around the CBD. Firstly, trams to Fitzroy provide a bit more colour and entertainment than the CBD and secondly we wanted to test if we could lunch in that area within our regular lunch break.
We ordered some coffees to assist us in reading the menu as well as maintaining optimum caffeine levels.
Upon perusing the menu, we were both struggling to decide between the Rueben and the pork belly sandwiches (both around $13-$14). So decided to order one each and share.The pork belly was pretty good.

However, we both had our first bite of the Rueben at the same time and there was that kind of instant animosity that can only ever exist when two foodies decide to share then realise that one dish is superior – guns at 20 paces.

Martha Ray's on Urbanspoon

Dinner @ Dainty Sichuan
During the week I decided to take my dad out for Sichuan while my chilli averse mum was out of town on business. Dainty Sichuan is one of those places that is pretty much impossible to dislike (unless you hate chilli or good food).
We ordered the cumin lamb slices (two chilli rating), which were numbingly tasty.

They paired brilliantly with the amazing fish flavoured eggplant. The eggplant dish is basically deep-fried eggplant chips that are coated in sugar, deep fried again then coated in chilli sauce – the flavour and texture combination is perfect.

Dainty Sichuan on Urbanspoon

Weekend Brunch @ Demitri's Feast

Before heading off on a hens weekend I ducked into Demitri's Feast in Richmond for some delicious breakfast.

I had the baclava french toast - yum ($15).

My brunch buddy had the smashed avocado ($17.5).

We shared the patates with ouzo aoli ($6.5)

Demitri's Feast on Urbanspoon

Red Hill Wandering
After a hens weekend in Portsea with the girls, we delayed our journey back to Melbourne with a visit to T’Gallant for wine tasting and lunch.

We shared the pepperoni pizza and the mushroom and taleggio pizza.

T'Gallant Spuntino Bar on Urbanspoon

We also dropped into Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm.

Weekday lunch in Shep

On a work trip to Shepparton I managed to find a decent lunch destination, the Teller Collective (that is probably better in its more formal dinner capacity).
It was a pleasant surprise amongst the usual disappointment that accompanies dining in regional Victoria when you aren’t in Dunkeld, Bright, Daylesford, Kyneton or Beechworth (ok there are some brilliant restaurants in regional Victoria).

I had the pulled brisket sandwich with southern style coleslaw and chips ($16.5).

One of my colleagues had the gnocchi with beef ragout ($16.5).

While the other had the salmon gravlax with asparagus and chargrilled ciabatta.

The Teller Collective on Urbanspoon

We also dropped by the Tatura Bakery for an award winning vanilla slice.

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