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.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

London Lunching @ Muriel's Kitchen

During my recent eurotip I ate a lot of good food in some amazing places...

On my first day in London, upon discovering that I was staying nearby to where an old friend has been living, he decided to give me a tour of his neighbourhood, South Kensington.

It's a pretty upmarket area (on the Piccadilly line) with a lot of museums, Royal Albert Hall, cute shops and cafes, as well as Hyde Park just to the north. On this rather grey summer afternoon, my friend took me to one of his favourite local lunch destinations, Muriel's Kitchen. Muriel's Kitchen is a gorgeous cafe (with an amazing cake display) based on the concept of one of the proprietor's grandmother's kitchen. It's beautifully homey and the food all looks like something my own gran would have cooked (if she had such styled crockery).

We started with coffees. Not being a local I ordered a cappuccino without realising that Melburnians should not order milk coffee in London unless they like weak cappuccinos (or are hanging out at Flat White or St. Ali London) Regardless, it was better than the coffee I'd had in Paris.

We ordered some of the colourful salads (both £4.25) to accompany our shared main. The first of these was a delicious combination of still crisp sugar snap peas and beans with orange, hazelnut, red onion and herbs (parsley and dill).

The next salad was a more Asian style combination of broccoli, chilli, garlic, soy and sesame seeds.

We also shared a hearty main of Italian style meatballs in a basil and tomato sugo (£8.99)

While we were both far from hungry, the lure of the cake display led to the order of a decadent pear and pecan cake with coffee cream cheese frosting.

Muriel's Kitchen on Urbanspoon
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