Friday, 30 March 2012

Pei Modern

What: Pei Modern
Where: Collins Place, 45 Collins Street

Chef Menu (that day at least):
  • Gazpacho with Blue Swimmer Crab  (see picture)
  • Bullhorm Peppers, grilled Ox Heart & Harissa
  • Streamed Barramundi, Sea Urchin Butter & Sweet Corn
  • Coffee Sorbet w/ Chocolate Sponge

  • 2011 Enigma ‘Variations’, Syrah Rose (suited the meal wonderfully - its more full bodied than a white, but clean and light enough to eat with Seafood)
The chef menu is set (but they will make alterations if you have dietary allergies) – as we had to in our case.

The Gazpacho was delicious, the coriander, grapes and parsley perfectly complimented the cold soup and blue swimmer crab chunks.

Ox Heart (which I had never tried before) was tender and delicious. However I did think the texture of the pepper seeds was not harmonious to the rest of the meal (therefore suggest scrapping them out when eating the dish).

The barramundi was perfectly cooked, but beware the Sea Urchin Butter is very fishy (to me the sea urchin tastes as intensely of sea as wheat grass does of grass). However it complimented the dish wonderfully – so glad I tried it, because I normally would not have ordered it.

Dessert of coffee sorbet with Chocolate sponge crumbs was wonderful. However – the caramelized tomato dessert which my friend had (as she is allergic to chocolate) looked amazing, and when I sampled it – this was the true winner of the day. Amazingly creative and flavorful!


Pei Modern on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 29 March 2012


There is nothing better than waking up to a fresh cup of coffee (long black thanks) and enjoying a fresh, warm crumpet slathered with homemade jam. Now, you might not be aware of this, but you can actually make crumpets - scandalous I know - especially on a food blog. However they do take at least an hour to make so if you're planning on breakfast in bed, I'd suggest making these in advance and stocking the freezer.
I was first inspired to make crumpets by my favourite blog Trotski & Ash, but was put off by the 3 hour preparation time. Luckily, last weekend Lush & I had the offer of a holiday house on the Mornington Peninsula that came with it's own Thermomix (TM). For those of you who haven't heard of this ridiculously expensive wonder machine (AU$2000!); it is a kitchen in itself. I won't go on a sales pitch now, but suffice to say that once I have my own house, with more than one powerpoint in the kitchen, I will be investing in a TM - possibly adding it into a sizable mortgage.

Back to the crumpets: TM ready to go I followed the instructions of Thermomixer and closer to 2 hours later had my (and 3 other peoples) breakfasts on the table. A TM isn't necessary for this recipe other than to save you some muscle work so I've put the instructions for both below.

  • 375g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 300ml warm milk
  • 200ml warm water
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb soda


Mix 1 tbsp of the flour, all the sugar and yeast with 100ml of the milk until combined. It should become frothy. If using a TM, mix for 3 minutes at 37°C on speed 2.

Add remaining flour (roughly 350g), 200ml milk, water, egg and salt and combine [10 seconds on speed 7].

You should have quite a thick batter, add more warm water if needed and mix the mixture again. Or for 8 minutes at 37°C on speed 1.

Leave the mixture to prove (rise) for at least 1 hour; the surface should be covered in bubbles.

Dissolve the the bicarb soda in a few tsps of warm water and add to the mixture. Beat vigorously for a few minutes to whip as much air in as possible. For the TM gradually increase the speed to beat the mixture for 2 minutes at speed 5. Leave for another 30mins or so.

If like my mixture yours is a bit gluey and without bubbles, add another glug of warm water and beat just before using.

I prefer my crumpets free-form, but if you like uniformity then oil some egg rings and place in a hot oiled frypan.

On a medium to low heat, cook batter for 5 -10 mins, or until the surface is dry and is full of holes. Remember that the mixture will rise so don't fill your rings too much! We ended up cutting ours in half.

For a bit of crunch briefly cook the top as well.

Serve warm with butter and your favourite topping (homemade apricot jam is mine!)

Freeze any leftover and toast when you want to enjoy them.


Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Paco's Tacos

What: Paco's Tacos
Where: NAB building cnr of Willams & Little Bourke

Located in a great foodie square with Earls Canteen and Movida Aqui; this end of town is now spoilt for choice of gourmet, affordable lunches.

Paco's Tacos is the reincarnation of Movida Terrazo. With all tacos at $6 and quick service it is a great place for a workday lunchtime catch-up. It's also open for dinner and has a decent cocktail menu that empahsises Mexican flavours and evokes memories of warm, sunny evenings. And helps those of us struggling to get through the coming afternoon in the office! 

We had: 
  • Carne Asada Taco
  • Veduras Taco
  • Crispy Pork Crackling

2 tacos are enough for a light lunch, but it is would be worth getting a third taco or something to share if you are feeling like a decent sized meal. The beef had a little heat to it, but I found the delicious green sauce (name unknown) added the necessary extra bit of spice that I look for.

The pork crackling was too rich for a weekday lunch. Basically deep fried pork crackling with salsa and guacamole; it was crispy and light, but I ended up equating each mouthful to an extra block I should be adding to my walk back to the office.

Highly recommend going here before the 1pm rush. It's not as busy as places like Tripy Taco, but the queue to order grows pretty quickly. A bit on the pricey side for the size of the meals, but all around an easy place to enjoy a Melbourne-Mexican lunch.


Pacos Tacos on Urbanspoon

Friday, 23 March 2012

La Luna

What: La Luna
Where: 320 Rathdowne Street Carlton North VIC 3054

Another Express Lunch, as part of the Melbourne Food & Wine, Restaurant Express Lunches
Yet again, best to go in pairs so you can share. This time we got one entrée, two mains, and one dessert.

  • Lamb tongue croquette with labna

  • Beef ribs
  • Lamb, fetta, spinach filo

  • Chocolate pudding with fig ice cream

  • The croquettes were light and fluffy; perfect.
  • The filo pastry was well balanced, crispy, and filling.
  • The beef ribs were interesting, but a bit heavy (so make sure you are hungry).
  • Overall it was unbelievably good value, and who doesn’t love La Luna (the chalk picture of the cow detailing all the meat cuts is a favourite of mine – after all you should know what you are eating).

La Luna Bistro on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


What: Comme

Where: 7 Alfred Place Melbourne VIC 3000

Another Express Lunch, as part of the Melbourne Food & Wine, Restaurant Express Lunches
It is fantastic to be able to attend some of the best restaurants in Melbourne for only $35.00 per person, (which includes 2 courses & 1 glass of wine)

I definitely recommend going with a friend to all of them, so you can share. This time we did something a bit different, we only got one main, two entrees and one dessert. More than enough – especially considering they gave us great bread and coffee at the end.

  • Soup du jour - potato & leek (very green due to the chefs using the whole leek I assume, and wonderfully thick and buttery, created a great mouth feel)
  • Rillettes of Otway pork, spiced cherries, sage & sourdough (the sourdough was in the form of bread crumbs, so the dish was mainly meat - delicious and rich, just enough to entice the palate - a great entree)

  • Roasted breast of Hazeldene chicken with a tomato, shallot & soft herb dressing (actual quite disappointing - even though the meat was cooked perfectly, the 'dressing' was more like a bruscetta salsa, and very sweet - not a savour dish, to my palate it did not work)

  • St-Emillon of Valrhona Chocolate, macaroon crumbs, Armagnac and crème fraiche (thick and rich, a chocolate lovers dream - think chocolate mousse - perfect with the tang of the crème fraiche which acted to balance the rich chocolate)

  • 2008 Mandala Cabernet Sauvignon, Yarra Valley, VIC (standard decent table wine, quaffable but not remarkable)

Comme Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Money Order Office

What: Money Order Office (aka M.O.O.)
Where: 2 Driver Lane (near the Crn of Little Bourke St & Elizabeth St) Melbourne VIC 3000

As part of the Melbourne Food & Wine, Restaurant Express Lunches I went to M.O.O. Unlike other lunches I had attended that only offer 2 courses & 1 glass of wine for $35.00, at M.O.O. they gave us 3 courses plus a glass of wine.
Definitely recommend going with a friend, and getting all 6 options they have on the Restaurant Express Lunch menu – then you can share them and enjoy a wider variety of dishes.
  • Poached Pear Salad: Composed of poached pear, wild rocket & Valderon cheese with a lemon vinaigrette (glorious, refreshing, great textures, perfect blend of acid from the vinaigrette and Valderon blue cheese) 
  • Roast Pumpkin & Pomegranate Salad: Roast pumpkin with pomegranate, toasted slivered almonds, goats cheese & pumpkin puree (a very dense salad, but wonderfully colorful, full flavored, and who doesn't love pomegranates - especially when someone else has done all the effort of removing them from the pith)

  • Pork Belly: Twice cooked pork belly with Jamon, savoy cabbage & cider foam (the foam is like a sorbet, which acts with its acid to balance the fat of pork, however the Jamon proscuitto was a bit salty - which I think slightly dominated the other flavors)
  • Tempura Monkfish: Tempura monkfish with saffron aioli & watercress salad (I mean how can you go wrong with tempura and aioli - very tasty and light, especially when paired with the pork belly)
  • Crema Catalana: Catalan's version of creme brulee (amazing, perfectly creamy, with nicely caramelized sugar on top - favorite dish of the day)
  • Vanilla & Goat Curd Mousse: Served with spiced orange & figs (refreshing and interesting, glad I tried it, but not a repeat order when I go back)
  • 2009 Sally's Hill Pinot Noir (mature, full and round, fantastic)
Best value of the festival for me
The ambience is perfect for a date, good lighting, friendly staff, and nicely decorated. And AMAZING WINES.

Louisiana Cajun in Melb

What: My Mexican Cousin
Where: Corner of Sturt St & Southbank Boulevard, Southbank, Melbourne

First thing you must know before going here is that it is not Mexican food. It is Louisiana style Cajun food – i.e. inspired by the USA southern traditions and flavor palate.
  • Delas Cotes du Rhone, "Saint Esprit" Rouge ('09' Northern Rhone, FRA)
  • Crispy fried chicken wings w/ coriander and blue cheese (I was glad the coriander was just a garnish - since I think it is out of place with this dish. However, the chicken was fried just right, and spiced to Cajun perfection)
  • Season yourself soft shell crab w/ aioli, watermelon, chili, ginger and mint salsa (I loved the crab, and the Cajun salt to self season was great, wonderfully complemented by the salsa. The presentation of the dish in a shell was clever, but the aioli was nonexistent - only a bit in the salsa the chef said, but honestly I did not notice it - but not needed anyways).
  • The "po boy" - with the flavour of the day for us being was chicken gravy (not really Louisiana inspired - and I would know my family is from the deep south - but very good. The reason I say this is because a real po boy is not on a crispy baguette).
  • Beef ribs with red cabbage slaw, jus and cress (dry roasted beef ribs, which fell of the bone - very tender and juicy - delicious and with a seasoned dry rub - very yummy)
  • Pecan pie cream brulee with banana compote and sable (really three desserts: a sable, compote and brulee - but the brulee was amazing, with dollops of pecan paste in it - superb)
  • Beignets, with salted caramel, Chantilly cream and strawberries (how could I ever pass by salted caramel on a menu- especially when you have Beignets to dip in it (Beignets are like a cinnamon donut from the Deep South - French origin originally though), however these were not a classic New Orleans beignet, but very tasty regardless).

The whole meal was fantastic (great atmosphere, food and service), but definitely a shock if you were expecting Mexican food. While not 100% true to Louisiana style Cajun food – a very nice adaptation.

However – one small thing – if you are going to have Beignets, and call yourself a Louisiana style restaurant, you really need to have been to Café du Monde, the home of New Orleans Beignets (located in the French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA).


Three Bags Full

What: Three Bags Full
Where: 60 Nicholson Street  Abbotsford VIC 3067

My Order:

  • Skinny Latte
  • One Big Breakfast: eggs, bacon, tomato, spinach, cheese kransky, tomato relish + toast
I had hollandaise added to my meal - since after all I was saving calories by having skinny lattes (either way, nothing like welcoming that early heart-attack)

Review: The breakfast was literally huge, but very delicious, perfect for the morning after a big night out, especially if your eyes are beginning to feel like lemons. The line outside can seem intimidating, but we put our name on the list and fifteen minutes later we had a table - definitely worth the wait.


Three Bags Full on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Wagyu & Truffled Eggs

Where: 651 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North VIC 3054

After eating a bit too much popcorn at the movies last Friday night, two of us decided to go out to dinner – and where better to eat in Melbourne than Rathdowne Street. Since we were not quite hungry enough to get a main, but still needed some real food, we settled on three entrées to share (and of course a few glasses of wine: the Manawa Pinot Noir, Marlborough NZ was great value for money)
Our order:
  • Potato and fontina cheese tart with sautéed mushrooms (buttery and filling)
  • Pan seared scallops with cotechino sausage, confit tomato and cauliflower purée (fantastic, with very well balanced flavours)
  • Wagyu brescola with truffled egg and witlof (my favourite dish of the night; a taste sensation! It was a special for that night, so you might not be able to try it on your visit- sorry guys L ).

The Wagyu dish reminded me very strongly of the award winning Movida Cecina dish (Air- dried Wagyu with Poached Egg and Truffle Foam), so don’t despair head on down to Movida opposite Fed Square to try it out.

Review: The Paragon was definitely a great place to eat, either for a light dinner or a full meal. The lighting, ambience and friendly staff were just what the doctor ordered after a long week at work.

NOTE - they would not scale down their main meal size when we asked, so if you want a light dinner I suggest not reading the mains on the menu or you will be tempted by something you can’t have such as the Pork Duo).



I am always sad to see summer start to fade away, but it also marks the start of fig season. Figs are an amazingly delicious fruit, but unfortunately they can be incredibly expensive. A few years back I discovered that a friend has a giant fig tree that, at this time of year, is laden with more fruit than he (and his family) can consume. Enter food-obsessed-friend desperate to take as many figs off his hands as possible. Saturday afternoon was spent braving the constant rain, clambering under the tree looking for ripe figs that the rosellas were yet to get to. Figs don’t ripen off the tree so you need to make sure that you only pick those with a bit of give. These ones also stay green when they ripen, rather than those that turn purple. Also watch out for the sap it can be quite itchy!

This week I have two recipes to try out; the first is a very simple starter and the second is inspired by the fantastic sounding galette on the delicious days blog.

Goats Cheese Stuffed Figs

  • Figs (bigger are easier to stuff)
  • Soft goats cheese (we used a chèvre, but a curd would be easier to stuff)
  • Proscuitto (thinly sliced)
  • Few sprigs fresh oregano or rosemary
  • 3 tbsp Honey

This is not really a recipe with quantities, it really depends on how many figs you have. For each fig you need approximately ½ tbsp of goats cheese, and 1 slice of prosciutto.
Heat the grill section of your oven.
Slice the top of each fig into quarters, and push the goats cheese into the cavity.
Wrap each fig in prosciutto; we used a skewer to make the figs easier to handle, but this isn’t really necessary.
Place the figs on a baking tray, sprinkle with the fresh oregano leaves and drizzle honey over the top.

Grill the figs for 5-10mins until the top of the prosciutto is crispy.

Fig Galette

  • Galette Dough:
  • 175g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • 100g cold butter diced
  • 1 tbsp sour cream
  • 50ml ice-cold water
  • Pinch of salt

Fruit Filling:
  • 400g figs (or any other fruit) thickly sliced (we did sixth’s)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter

If you have a food processor, simply add your flour, caster sugar, butter and salt to the bowl and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.
If you don’t have a food processor, grate the cold butter into a bowl and then quickly rub it using your finger tips until it reaches the coarse breadcrumbs stage.
Add the sour cream and water slowly until the mixture comes together. You may not require all the liquid – if it gets too sticky just add a bit more flour. Roll into a ball, cover in glad wrap and cool in the fridge for an hour.
After an hour, pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees, roll-out the dough into a circle that is 3mm thick.
Scatter your sliced fruit leaving a 5cm gap around the edges. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the top and dollop the butter on top.
Bake for 30mins or until the pasty starts to turn golden and the fruit is soft.
Serve with cream or you can try King Island vanilla bean yoghurt to cut through the sweetness.
Happy Eating!