Sweet Crumble

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On these cooler autumn afternoons, I enjoy a couple of things like long walks along the beach, a good movie and then something sweet to compliment a well stooped tea.

I was overly delighted when I received a goody pack from the good people at Sweet Crumble with a fine selection of delicate tempters.

I opened my pack to find an array of bright coloured and well presented smaller packs and box’s. The presentation of each pack was brilliant, from the clear packaging for the biscotti to the purposely made box’s for each cupcake.

So without too much hesitation I whipped out the camera and got some pictures before my taste buds took control on the situation, and I mean a situation.

The first delicacy I tasted was the Choc Choc Ganache Macaron, the coconut macaron and also the espresso macaron. These three were delicate, well-flavoured, moist and melted in my mouth like a great macaron should.

Next was the Red Velvet cupcake, this is one of my childhood favourites, so when I opened the light blue box to find the cutest red velvet cup cake I was again in sweets heaven.

By this stage, I was on a sugar high, so I made sure I had a nanna nap and prepared myself for some more goodies that evening.

This would include the Choc Choc Ganache Cupcake, the strawberry marshmallow, pistachio & orange Biscotti and the Choc Choc Petite Pop.

All of these fine sweet treats were amazingly presented, had wicked flavours and represented only what can be described as outstanding.

The fabulous owner Timna has been fortunate to have been raised with food being the centre piece, and this is obvious with her passion towards her products.

Sweet Crumble Cafe & Patisserie opened their doors only a few months ago and are taking the industry by storm. Find them at 111 Glenferrie Road, Malvern, Vic.

http://www.sweetcrumble.com.au

Date Night @ Hare & Grace

Tuesday’s in our great city equals the sunday for our great chef’s, restauranteurs and the fab people in the industry. I guess they do deserve some rest and recreation before gracing themselves at our places of worship.

When looking for a great spot to have ‘date night’ it has always been a difficult decision of where can we go and get great food and service in the early part of the week.

A few tweets later and we found ourselves heading towards Hare & Grace, a place neither of us had been fortunate to grace ourselves at, that is until now.

This finely designed Eatery and Minibar, have not a large selection but a great selection of dishes that would suit anyone out for an amazing food experience.

With only brilliantly designed dishes available, it was hard to make a choice, so it was the atlantic salmon confit, nasturtium, broken vanilla and lemon jam for me. Salmon has been a menu item for many restaurants for many years, and I am always astonished by the way melbourne chefs have been able to re-invent this delicate ingredient.

The presentation of each dish was unique, delicate and very very appetising.

Secondly from the ‘Principals’ section on the menu I as attracted to the milk fed lamb loin, neck, basil carrot & orange, which in it’s self sounds quite simple, but believe you me, it was brilliant. The Lamb loin was served with a pea puree in a delicate cigar, while the lamb neck was braised to absolute perfection. Using a tea spoon to cut through the tender lamb would have been the correct utensil to devour this superbly tasting dish.

Now it’s no secret that I could start the day with a coffee and sweets, but after these 2 dishes I was so very full and had no room for even for a small taste. So it looks as though I will be back for a small main next time and maybe I tuck into the Chocolate Bar or maybe even the parsley ice cream blackberry, beetroot coconut ice.

The chefs on the night were outstanding being led by the very talented Raymond Capaldi. The floor staff were dripping with knowledge and matchings, and everything from the decor to the ceiling fittings were brilliantly matched.

Pricing was very reasonable for the quality and quantity, and therefore I willing to drag some good friends in there again soon.

Oscars Table indeed.

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Going out on a whim to try something new without a recommendation is always going to be a hit & miss situation. A couple of nights ago, I ventured out to Oscars Table on the New Quay Promenade in Docklands and was pleasantly surprised.

There was an ambience and feeling about the this place that I liked, It was during the week and there didn’t seem to be many people around, but I felt comfortable as I watched the sun set over the Bolte Bridge.

We kicked back whilst perusing the ample menu which consisted of a blend of asian and spanish style tapas.

Being impressed with the description of the dishes, I decided to set a huge task of trying nine of the dishes from the ‘Shared Plates’ section of the menu. The Paringa Estate Riesling from the Mornington Peninsula complimented a large portion of the dishes that would be tasted during the evening.

Please do yourself a favour when dining at Oscar’s, you must try the Son-in-law eggs with tamarind and chilli caramel, dried prawn and crisp leek. These will literally blow your socks off with the amazing rich asian flavours.

Bacon & Pea Croquettes were simple to look at, yet offered an amazing infusion of flavours when you cut into the soft and delicate centre.

Meatballs with a spiced sugo and fresh basil was very rich with the tomato flavours which required a subtle palate with a hint of saltiness.

Chargrilled octopus with paprika and chickpeas a la grecque was delicate, marinated and seasoned perfectly. This accompanied the Riesling amazingly and was a true fit.

In the next round of dishes there was yet another stand-out, this time it was the grilled canadian scallops with pancetta, crushed peas and truffle oil. The essence of this dish had all the factors that I consider to be essential when compiling creative meals, complementary flavours, cooking styles, design and the overall feel of the dish. Wicked!

Tuna tataki with wasabi mayo, pickled radish and sesame was a delicate and fine dish that required all of the ingredients to make this dish work! Yet another dish I could have over and over again.

The service was good, the meals were served at appropriate intervals and I would suggest this spot with a few friends to enjoy a social night out.

As I mentioned above, the dish I would have to rate at 10/10 would be the Son In Law Eggs…..I relish to have this again very soon.

Friends of Mine

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Catching up with friends of mine at ‘Friends of Mine’ was always bound to be a fun outing, so when I arrived to see other friends of mine, I was already on a winner.

I love coffee and make no secret of that, so when our coffees arrived, I fell in love. This is the  smoothest coffee I am yet to taste in Melbourne. With perfect temperature, the well brewed and creamy Latte sat amazingly on my fresh palate.

This coffee had set my little heart racing, so I went from looking at the brunch menu, to trying something of the ‘Lunchy Things’ temptations.

Having had scallops a few nights earlier and the onset of the warm weather, I am always keen for seafood. So I ordered the pan seared scallop, spiced cauliflower, little fennel + orange salad with organic fennel pollen. The perfectly cooked scallops combined with the cauliflower caused my taste buds to go into meltdown.

Smashed avocado w/ thyme buttered mushrooms, marinated feta + torn basil on wholegrain toast looked just brilliant!

Grilled calamari, galangal dressing, fried shallots and Asian slaw was everything that you could hope for, delicate and perfectly cooked calamari, a salad to complement to fine flavours.

The general feel of this cafe was brilliant, with the sunny alfresco area out the front to the quaint and elegant dining inside and if I could could use words of the younger generation, I would say ‘pretty hip’.

The team at ‘Friends of Mine’ have absolutely nailed what a cafe should be, fun, quick, easy with great service and food to boot!

For more information on menu’s, functions and more, check out http://www.friendsofmine.com.au

Awesome breakfast at Dundas & Faussett

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In a relationship there is nothing like stealing your partners best friends, so this morning whilst my partner was away for Christmas, I decided to catch up with, what are now my friends.

Choosing a place to go that is central for all was never going to be easy, but after a quick  moment of contemplation we met up at Dundas & Faussett in Albert Park.

Getting a park out the front was easy, finding a spot to sit outside for six was not going to be easy, but we found a comfy spot inside near the window for all.

Staff were very quick to have us settled with water and some menu’s. Knowing exactly how we all love our coffee makes things easy and we were soon settled and chatting away to our hearts content.

The menu was well divided into categories and with a large selection of great choices, the hard part was deciding what to have.

So without any overindulging, I had a couple of dishes to plough through and I started with a passionfruit muffin, lightly warmed and was great with a slab of butter.

There were the Crepe’s with berries, which presented simple but effective. The crepe’s were delicate and slightly sweet. The berries were exquisite and full of flavour, just enough to compliment the muffin.

The Breakfast Bruschetta was just awesome, it had all the things I love about breakfast, bacon, avocado, basil and sourdough. Presented very traditionally for a bruschetta, I thoroughly enjoyed this dish. It has a dressing of pesto, and although not mentioned on the menu, it was fresh and delicate.

All the dishes arrived quickly and together, something that a number of places in melbourne are struggling to achieve at the moment.

We shared and laughed about our Christmas stories and how they all varied immensely.

The bill was very reasonable for 6 people having food and coffee.

To sum up Dundas & Faussett, I would have to say; Great Service, Wicked Coffee and excellent value for money.

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Breakfast @ Jimmi Jamz

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Melbourne has many things that I love, coffee, bars, clubs and the beach. But the one thing I really can’t do without is getting up early on the weekend and drop into a place for a big breakfast, some coffee and a read of the weekend paper.

I was recently down in Elwood looking for some breakfast with a friend and happened to stumble into Jimmi Jamz, it looked inviting and spacious. The staff were amazingly friendly and we found a nice little spot with the weekend paper.

The coffee was divine, had excellent coffee characters and was perfectly tempered.

I was aching for something hearty but yet on the healthy side, so I couldn’t go past the scrambles eggs on sourdough with seasoned rocket and dried tomatoes.

Whilst waiting, I couldn’t stop admiring the surrounds and enjoying the atmosphere. I feel that sometimes I push the boundaries on privacy but I cannot help but people watch.

Then I was presented with a large plate of scrambled eggs that resembled a main course. I, like most people I know enjoy value for money, and this my friends is amazing.

As I sat there in admiration of this beautiful looking dish, large enough to feed a small nation, and couldn’t wait to devour this wicked dish. The flavour of the lightly seasoned and fluffy scrambled eggs, combined with the smoothly dressed rocket and home-made dried tomatoes would have to be the nicest breakfast dish ever!

This dish was not consumed, but inhaled. It was just brilliant.

With my recent move to leafy suburb of Elwood, it is now a staple for breakfast and for fine coffee.

Looking forward to getting down there with my friends again really soon.

Sake Masterclass @ Wagamama

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Sake is a beverage I have tried a couple of times previously and have never been a huge fan. I mean it tastes ok, but until now it was never really my thing.

So as I am heading into the new Wagamama Southgate at Southbank, I was very sceptical as to what to expect, would I get my past experiences all over again, or will this open my eyes a little bit more.

I was greeted on the balcony with this standout cocktail, now if I wasn’t told this was sake based, I would have known the difference between this and a vodka based cocktail. It was sweet with lychee flavours and some peach hints throughout.

As I mingled, I found myself being more and more intrigued with the degustation menu that shall accompany tonight’s sake masterclass. Although my thoughts are with the sake, my heart is always with the food.

As we were seated, we began with this delicate sparkling sake, – Kizakura hoshinonagarea happo sparkling junmai -and being only 6.5% alcohol, I could see this as the mid-late morning starter. Again with some hints of lychee, it was sweet enough to replace the bottle of bubbles in the fridge door. This was served with a salmon wonton, and I found the combination as expected, there was this cocktail party element to this combination.

We moved into the next two styles of sake, the Tateyama junmai gingo and Seikyo junmai gingo omachi from the coastal regions. These tend to be stronger, cleaner and crisper being coastal. I found these styles to be slightly fruity but still with a hint of the apple, as the fermentation of these styles is generally made with a yeast made from the apple skin. The prawn and yasai skewers were delicate and a great representation of this region.

As we journeyed into the mountain’s of Japan, we were presented with Asabiraki namburyu tezukuri daigingo and the Ranman tokusen gingo. The flavours of these sake’s became stronger, with a fuller body and definitely a lot sweeter. This is exactly what I was hoping for tonight, a sake that would change my thoughts on styles, food combinations and sake’s that I can just drink. Combining this with the chilli squid, tori kara age and some steamed yasai gyoza was again perfectly matched by head chef Scott Davis.

Being described as a male and a female sake, these two sake’s, Tatsurki tokubetsu junmai yamadanishiki being the male sake as it was strong and dry, whilst the female sake Kizakura yamahai jikomi is soft and sweet. I was at this stage getting a little concerned that my liking for sake will have a profound affect on my dining and drinking choices in the near future. Having a beef teryaki and a spicy itame with these sake’s delicately enhanced this sake from the Kobe regoin.

Next on the travels was a premium sake, using barley to distill this sake, it resembled a fine smooth scotch. With an alcohol percentage of 25%, it would be one for later in the evening when looking for a sipper on the couch. The yaki soba was a fine choice to compliment to this astonishing sake.

When selecting your final choices for a degustation, it is important to select those that will reflect your evening, have a lasting impact, and most importantly get you back into a venue for more. So I was literally ecstatic when the green tea ice-cream sandwich and black sesame ice-cream was placed down in front of me. It looked amazing and tasted sublime. I was then given a glass of what I would describe as sensation on ice. This sweet plum liqueur was fruity, sweet and being aged for 12 months, it was well-balanced and smooth. This  combined with my ice-cream choices was just brilliant.

A couple of things that I can take away from this evening was that sake is a term used for all/any alcoholic beverages in Japan, not just rice wine. Sake is a drink for all occasions and all times of the day, and finally that I LOVE SAKE!

Well done to the whole team at Wagamama, FireworksPR and finally Toshi Maeda the Sake Master. I look forward to getting into Wagamama again real soon for some more delicacies.

 

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Beef, Beef and Beef at The Royal Saxon

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When you get an invite for a luncheon from the MLA (Meat & Livestock Australia) combined with a great beef producer that is Enviromeat, it is hard to imagine what the day will entail.

The venue was The Royal Saxon at 545 Church Street in Richmond. This venue is one of my fav spots around town as I enjoy the location, the staff, the atmosphere and more importantly the food.

On hand during the day was Paul Crook (Producer/Director) of Enviromeat, a company that aims to be carbon neutral by mid 2012, Bob Davie, a beef producer from Phillp Island and Greg from the MLA, who is quite handy with the knife.

Topside of Beef
Greg from the MLA breaking down a Rump.

Enviromeat are aiming for a Carbon Neutral Practise by mid 2012, and are Enviromentally Certified, do not use hormones or anti-biotics and are MSA (Meat Standards Australia) graded and tenderness guaranteed.

So I was quite excited about heading downstairs for a 7 course beef lunch as I love my beef. I have been fortunate over the years spent in and around Gippsland to have known some great beef producers and more importantly their product.

The chef, Glenn prepared the seven courses based on an Italian style of cooking, so I was eager to get into the menu and taste away.

First two dishes were the Carne Crudo (steak tartare) and the Bresaola (air dried beef) which were sublime. The Carne Crudo was delicate and strong in flavour, it had a hint of fennel and was great with the lardo bruschetta. The Bresaola was completed perfectly, it was tender and sat perfectly with the heritage rocket and parmigiano salad.

Next to try was the corned brisket and silverside. This raised the topic again about secondary cuts of meat and how we as consumers can make the difference to see more of these on our menus. So we tucked into this dish which was nicely complimented with spinach, lentils and mustard fruits. I have always been a fan of corning, and although it’s not a dish we will find on many menus, it’s something I love to cook at home.

The braised shin and knuckle was on it’s way out soon after the corned goods, and might I add that the smell from this dish took me back to a time as a young child living in New Zealand. There was this slight hint of a Hangi style flavour through the tender shin and knuckle. Served on a Bruschetta, this dish would be great for an upmarket BBQ.

Roasted topside was on our table within minutes of finishing the previous dish, at first I was sceptical as I like my meat to be rare-ish. Glenn delivered this roast cooked completely, so I was astonished at the tenderness and flavour of this dish.  Served with some wild spring mushrooms and potatoes I was thinking that this is the end of my tasting, as I have now consumed my monthly intake of beef in roughly 1 hour.

At this point in the day, I was more than happy to sit and discuss ways, we, as the consumer can make a real difference in what beef items are on menus, whilst I enjoying a 2009 Terras Gauda O Rosal Albanirino and not partake in further consumption of beef.

Thats when the piece de resistance arrived. I thought I could not sit here and not try these two awesome looking dishes, the first being a rib eye, wood grilled and a succulent porterhouse. I mean Dino from the Flinstones would never had seen such a thing, the bone was longer than my forearm.

Often I find myself making sacrifices when dining, you may find something that looks great, but tastes ok, or it looks fine, but tastes amazing. The Rib Eye looked amazing, yet the taste, texture and flavour were out of this world. If only I had not eaten 3 kilo’s of beef already, I could have been quite chuffed to sit and tuck into this one alone. Served with cannellini and broad beans, it added a texture and flavour that can only be described as wicked.

This might sound a little snobby, but you can tell when everyone from the producer to the chef care about the beef as it results in an amazing product.

The day was knowledgable, informative and breathtakingly tasty.

I could talk more about Carbon Neutral farming and various ways to hang meat, but I urge you to flick onto the website for a quick browsy and see how we as consumers can make the difference. http://www.enviromeat.com.au/

Fitzrovia

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A sunny afternoon whilst running around the new neighbourhood of St Kilda, and I find myself drawn into this amazing attractive glass house styled entrance of Fitzrovia. The smell of freshly ground coffee, the smiles of the staff and the ambiance was definitely a great start to an awesome lunch.

It has been a few days since I have had the opportunity to sit and people watch, whilst admiring a great transformation of what was once of run down shop front. Fitzrovia has four sections that each bring a unique experience. Outside on the path you can enjoy the sun, people watch and drift into another world. The entrance is elegant with the glass surrounds, then the first level you find yourself admiring all of the beauty of the astonishing building and decor. Then if you want something a little more intimate, there is the section towards the completely open kitchen, which has an old world charm.

Deciding what to have for a friday lunch is always my hardest decision, especially when the choices are so varied and very descriptive. Using free-range and organic ingredients for their dishes always compels me to order wisely and sustainably. Until I have been to a restaurant a couple of times, I always struggle to decide as first impressions are everything in this industry.

The fish cakes were described well and just what I was needing. They arrived soon after ordering and I was astonished with the presentation, the taste was just wicked. They were delicate, flavoursome with the salad to accompany was just surblime. It was served with this delicious Seaweed Tartare Sc.

The Cape Otway Pulled Pork Ploughman’s was a great treat, the quail scotch egg was well balanced with spice. The pork shoulder was just brilliantly prepared and the pickled vegtables sat perfectly on my palate all with a sweet onion chutney that took this dish to another level.

Very impressed with the staff, the knowledge of the menu as it was the first day of this varied and mouth-watering menu.

Chin Chin to the boys and girls at Fitzrovia. Once again Paul & Marco have set the bar for what is truly a great place for everything.

Christmas Turkey

Roast Turkey

It’s November already, really. I once sat as a child listening to my parents and grandparents discussing, ‘as you get older time goes faster’ and at that young age, you never grasp that time will actually does get faster as we get older. Is it to do with our busy lives or the fact we don’t take the time to stop and smell the roses. If by doing so, could we actually slow down time?

With that question posed, I wish to reflect to my Grandma Browns kitchen leading up to Christmas and all those amazing little treats she would conjure up year after year for our growing families.

The smells of sweet liqueurs slowly reducing on the old stove top to make the ridiculously rich puddings, the scent of a mighty large fresh Christmas tree in the front living room and the sound of 40 people on the floor boards would mean only one thing to me, a Christmas turkey that would send the whole neighborhood into a feeding frenzy.

Grannies Roast Turkey

  • 5kg Turkey – fresh if possible, if buying frozen ensure it has fully defrosted in the fridge for 3 days prior to cooking.
  • 150gms of softened butter
  • 100mls Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ¼ cup fresh thyme – chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Stuffing

  • 12 cups stale bread cubes
- the older the better.
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery, with leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup chopped pistachio nuts
  • 4 tblsp dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped sage, thyme & marjoram
  • 1 egg
  • Chicken stock
  1. Turn oven onto 180c until ready.
  2. Melt butter in a frying pan and sauté the onion and celery until onion is slightly browned.
  3. Add the fresh herbs and seasoning.
  4. Combine with the bread cubes, egg, sherry, nuts and then mix well.
  5. Add enough stock to combine – ensuring it is not too dry.
  6. Stuff the turkey with the stuffing; do not over fill the turkey cavity.
  7. Roll a piece of greaseproof paper into a ball and secure inside.
  8. With your fingers, slowly separate the skin of the turkey from the meat, then rubbing the butter under the skin.
  9. Rub the outer skin with Olive Oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the fresh thyme over the bird and place onto a wire rack above a deep baking dish. Cover with alfoil.
  10. Place into the oven and cook for 2 ½ hours, basting the turkey every 20 minutes to ensure it doesn’t dry out. Remove alfoil and bake for a further ½ hour to one hour depending on your oven size.
  11. To check your turkey, insert a skewer into the thick part of the thigh, and if the juices run clear then it is done.
  12. When cooked, cover with some tea-towels for 30 minutes to relax. This is a great time to drain the juices for your gravy.