Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

Double Happiness

Great bar in Liverpool St, tucked away in the top end of Melbourne's CBD - yes it's almost impossible to spot, and yes it's in a laneway.  Seems to be a cliche in Melbourne.  However it's worth the effort for the funky vibe and unreal cocktails.

Try the Great Leap Forward - lychee vodka, mint, lime and ginger, topped with a lychee, served in a tall glass and decorated with a couple of chopsticks.   It was sublime.  Especially after the friendly barkeep jazzed it up with some extra freshly sliced ginger muddled with the lime, and finished with some tabasco sauce.  Zingy and refreshing.  Also try the Paper Tiger and the Mr Foo.  A note for the wary - too many of these and you too could end up with one of these on your kitchen bench on the morning.....

Double Happiness
21 Liverpool St

Double Happiness on Urbanspoon

Pesto, prosciutto and caramelised onion tartlets

These were a bit of an experiment - we had some leftover homemade pesto, and caramelized onion jam and the fridge and I wanted to use it up.  Little tarts sounded like a good idea (when are they not??) and this was the result.

I simply cut some pastry rounds, added with the pesto, onion jam, and topped with some quality prosciutto.  How did they taste - good surprisingly!  A little rich - they packed a lot of flavour!  But they were good.  Next time - maybe the pesto OR the jam.  

Photos from the archives

Awesome burger with chilli sauce:


Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Palmerston Hotel, South Melbourne

We had a craving for a great parma, and headed towards the cty in search of parma nirvana. First of all we tried the Leveson in North Melbourne - no free tables.  Then The Mint on William street - private function.  So we had no choice but to check out a 'parmie at the Palmie'.

Walking in, I thought we had stepped into a time machine, or at least a parallel universe.  Here we were not ten metres away from ridiculously busy King street, yet it was like we had stepped into a pub that you would normally find about 100km north of Melbourne.  Everything about it, down to the friendly experienced staff reminded me of a country pub.

We started off with a few South Melbourne Market dimmies - I'm not sure what went wrong with them but I guess they had been sitting in the steamer for a while - they were very tough in the middle.  They were however still of course very tasty.

The parmas came out not long after that.  Did it satisfy my parma craving?  Almost.  The parma was huge, no complaint there.  It had good sauce, just enough cheese, and the requisite ham, so it ticked all those boxes.  However the underside was a tad soggy.  Overall, I guess it was pretty good.  I have had much worse chicken parmas.

The service was very quick and friendly, with full table service, including drinks.  Prices were reasonable, and the meals were a good size.  So would I go back for another parma?  Probably, however I am not in a great rush.

The Palmerston Hotel
42 Palmerston Cres
South Melbourne 3205

The Palmerston Hotel on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Easy noodle soup (or pantry pho!)

I really felt like pho, or tom yum soup, however we didn't really have many of the ingredients, and I couldn't be shagged going down the street.  So I came up with soup based on what was in the fridge and the pantry.  I think, but I can't be sure, that it contained the following:

Pork and noodles

1 pork fillet
1 tbsp chinese five spice
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp smokey paprika

Rub the above ingredients onto the pork, and brush with olive oil.  Gently pan fry until crisping up and browning/blackish on each side.  Put in a very low oven to keep warm.  It doesn't matter if it's not cooked through as it will cook very quickly in the hot soup.

I had a pack of singapore noodles in the cupboard, and preparing them was as simple as standing them in hot water for a few minutes.


Place some dried chinese mushrooms in a bowl of water, and leave to stand for around 10 minutes.  Carefully wash 1 bunch of pak choy (make sure you get rid of all the grit), and take leaves apart.  Place in a large saucepan with around 1.25L of chicken stock, 3 crushed garlic cloves, a knob of peeled ginger sliced into matchsticks and 1 tbsp soy sauce.  I also added 2 star anise, 1 cinammon stick, 1 tsp szechuan peppers, 1 tsp coriander seeds, 1 tbsp lime juice, 1 finely shopped kaffir lime leaf, and 1 tbsp black peppercorns.  Squeeze the liquid from the mushrooms and add them to the soup.  Simmer this for around 15 minutes.

Thinly slice the pork, and arrange with the noodles in bowls.  Add the soup, and serve with sliced spring onions, deep fried shallots, and lemon and lime juice.  If I had bean sprouts, they would have been on the table as well.  I also added some chilli to my bowl, seeing as Kara is a bit of a wimp when it comes to the spicy stuff!

Even without the chilli, the ginger and the lemon and lime gave this soup a great freshness and zingyness, and certainly cleared the sinuses out - the aroma was amazing!

Andada - Gertrude St

Tucked away in quiet little Gertrude Street, nestled amongst the hairdressers and other restaurants, is Anada.  Before you say 'not another tapas bar', read on, because this one is different.  It seems to be that every second restaurant/cafe/bistro is offering some form of 'tapas' on the menu.  Recently, for us, this has ranged from itsy bitsy scraps of food, to full entree sized meals - and mostly not in the true spirit of the word tapas.  According to the legend, tapas should be designed to pair naturally with an accompanying drink.

The tapas here and the accompanying drinks list were superb.  The wine list was extensive, covering Spanish and Australian wines, the beer selection was more that passable, and the list of Spanish sherries seemed comprehensive - however I am no expert on this last one.

We selected a couple of freshly shucked Tasmanian oysters to start with.  What can I say - they were oysters presented simply with some lemon - but they were some of the best I've ever had.  We followed these with soft boiled eggs, topped with black garlic and black truffle - probably the dish of the night.  Perfectly boiled egg halves, adhered to the plate with some tasty garlic aoli, and topped with some black garlic, and shaved tasmanian black truffle - these were divine.  We bravely ordered crumbed lambs brains atop shredded pork belly and red lentils.  We need not have worried, they were cooked to perfection, and the pork belly and lentils accompaniment was perfect.

At this stage, after these tapas, the beautiful housemade bread and a glass of spanish grenache I was actually getting surprisingly full!  So we looked to the raciones (larger plates) and ordered one to share - Echuca Berkshire pork belly atop fennel seed and smoky aubergine.  Before this arrived we also snuck in some manchengo cheese with quince paste (perfect) and ordered a potato tortilla to go alongside the main.  When it arrived, the pork belly was perfectly crunchy on top, and had a surprising amount of tender flesh beneath.  The egglplant and fennel seed mixture matched perfectly with the pork.  The tortilla (spanish style) was superb, and sent out with some more of that tasty garlic aoli.

I did not dare look at the dessert menu - even though I felt like I hadn't eaten much at all I was fairly full.  I should eat like that more often.  I finished off the meal with a fino sherry - it was quite good, although next time I think I would order one as an aperitif, especially as it was served somewhat chilled.

The fit-out of the restaurant was inviting and cosy, without being too cramped.  The staff were that perfect mix of attentive, but then out of the picture and not hovering while you enjoy the food and the company.  All in all it was a great night, and I would happily go back again anytime.

197 Gertrude Street
9415 6101

AƱada on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Yarra Lounge - Yarraville

Situated across the road from the beautiful Sun Theatre in Yarraville, this venue seemed like the perfect place for some pre-movie food and drinks.  Aside from the somewhat brusque service, it probably was the perfect place. The menu offers a kind of Mediterranean menu, including a selection of 'tapas' (some decidedly spanish, others not so much), wood fired pizzas, and souvlakis.

We went for a bit of a mix, which included saganaki with a fig syrup.  The kefalograviera cheese was cooked to perfection, with some crispiness on the outside while still being soft on the inside.  I thought the fig and syrup topping was a little disappointing, a bit light on the flavour side, and it also had a light, runny consistency.  I guess I was longing for the richly flavoured, unctuous, stewed figs atop the saganaki at Hellenic Republic.

Chorizo stewed in balsamic vinegar with onions was amazing.  Spanish chorizo with a little bit of heat was sliced up and served in a tasty balsamic reduction.  As were the patatas bravas (fancy chips) with home-made aoli.  The chips were light and fluffy, with a great seasoning.  The salt and pepper calamari was a huge surprise, considering usually when you order this you get some kind of soggy excuse for seafood from the freezer.  This was cooked to perfection, with good seasoning, and a fantastic aoli.  The open souvlaki, while tasty, was just bleh - maybe I was expecting more after the fantastic starters.  There was nothing wrong with it, it was just very standard.

Little creatures on tap, good coffee, and a great wine list were other bonuses.  The staff seemed knowledgeable about the wine - in fact it was about the only time we were able to get any interaction from the staff - when talking about the wine.  And they also offered a couple of samples of wines I was unsure about.  Overall, the service wasn't anything out of the ordinary, especially when they forgot one of the serves of saganaki and bought it out after everyone had finished their mains!

Would I go back - yes, just for the tapas.  Pity about the movie though!

Yarra Lounge
7 Ballarat St,

Yarra Lounge on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Request - Beef and Guinness Pie #1

Senor Collins requested a steak and Guinness pie, as apparently the establishments of Melbourne are not delivering for him.  He also suggested that I make a practice pie, to perfect the recipe, before it is tasted before himself and the esteemed critic, Mr Stow.  So this is the first attempt, based on a recipe by Jamie - see here - I did tweak it a little, and I was very pleased with the results.  I omitted the mushrooms, and most of the cheese.  Normally the thought of extra cheese in a dish wouldn't put me off, but I didn't know about all that cheese inside  a pie.  After filling the pie dish, I just added some grated cheese on top before topping with the pasty.  This was enough, and the top of the pie had a few gooey chunks of cheese which were delicious - see below.

I also added about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, and 1/2 a tablespoon of soy sauce for some richness.  And once I had added the guinness, I also added 1 cup of beef stock, and then enough water to cover the meat.  Also, instead of adding flour directly into the sauce, I tossed the beef (I used chuck steak) in flour seasoned with salt, pepper and smokey paprika.  Instead of chopping the carrots, I grated them as I'm not sure that I like big chunks of vegies in pies.

Free Chocolate - no really!

Today I received in the mailbox a block of Nestle Dark Chocolate!  And the best part, it was totally free.  All you have to do is click here, enter a competition with Nestle to win a trip to Italy, and the first 7500 people to enter will receive a free block of chocolate in the mail.  The only catch is you can only have 1 block delivered at each address.