Saturday, October 31, 2009

French Toast

As a child French Toast was a treat when the chooks had been laying well and sometimes it was a two course affair. First course a savoury version served with Grandma's homemade tomato sauce followed by 'sweets' the same soft delicious eggy bread topped with whatever berries had been turned into sugary jam that year. Alas both versions were of the sliced white bread variety. Modern versions made with sour dough, French stick or even croissants are so much better. The red door corner store has a luscious one of brioche topped with passionfruit curd and banana – shame the banana wasn’t grilled like the one I had in the Cook Islands (mmmm tropical banana’s!) – but still excellent. The red door corner store, 70 Mitchell St, Northcote. (A little birdie told me I might find a good breakfast here - thanks for the tip Michelle!)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vietnamese Pho

The freshness of Vietnamese cuisine fits perfectly with spring in Melbourne - and its hard to beat a bowl a Pho with its fragrant broth infused with star anise and coriander, the slippery rice noodle, crispy beanshoots, peppery herbs and tang of lemon juice and fresh chilli.
Even better when shared with a diverse group all bought together by the love of exploring food. Where's the best pho in Melbourne????? or is just ducking into the local the best because you might get special congealed ox blood(oops perhaps shouldn't have mentioned that) For generally good Vietnamese Thanh Hga nine 160 Victoria St Richmond is reliable. On a hot day order a glass of refreshing lemon soda - transports me instantly to Ho Chi Min City!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Brunch is the best!

I love brunch - I can catch up with friends who have been up since the 'crack of dawn' when I have just slothed out of bed and we can savour breakfast or lunch together. Rather than one of my favourite haunts today we tried Snow Pony. The baked beans were yum! - nearly as good as the ones at Babka (don’t forget to buy a loaf of the vegetable bread to take home) and A Minor Place. The bread at Dench’s makes it a great choice for breakfast (and a loaf or two to takeaway) but my all time fav is Tom Phat for anytime of the day, fantastic breakfast dishes, great juice combinations, a glass of wine/ale, light lunches, rich mains, fabulous desserts (Roti pancake, wow!)- an interesting (good interesting) Asian/European mix (an article in The Age Newspaper recently labelled the flavours as Thai but thats way to restrictive Malay, Thai, Indian, Vietnamese) and mostly friendly'ish' & efficient service. Try everything its all great!! Snow Pony, 95 Whitehorse Road Balwyn; Babka Bakery CafĂ©, 358 Brunswick St Fitzroy; Dench Bakers, 109 Scotchmer St Fitzroy North; Tom Phat, 184 Sydney Road Brunswick; A Minor Place, 103 Albion St Brunswick.
Tom Phat on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Drinking and 'eating' tea

Yum cha - drinking tea - Catching up with fellow tea connoisseurs to drink tea at Oriental Tea House was an eclectic experience of traditional and modern. The trad - White tea, green tea, black tea, oolong tea & Shanghai dumplings. The mod – happy tea, relaxing tea, tea cocktails, chilled Japanese plum wine and chocolate dumplings. The loudish music fitting with the cool Chapel Street location but not the Zen of the tea ceremony. So go for the tea’s or the vibe but for excellent yum cha try Shark Fin House, 131 Little Bourke Street Melbourne or Tai Pan in 237 Blackburn Road, Doncaster East, for fabulous tea try and if you want to ‘eat’ tea try this recipe: Combine 4 tsp of your favourite tea, 300g brown sugar, 300ml water, 200ml of red wine, 1 cinnamon stick, 4 cloves, 4 whole allspice, 5 black peppercorns and the zest of I orange – bring to the boil then simmer for 15 minutes, strain then add 250g of pitted prunes to the syrup and simmer for another 10 minutes, remove prunes and reduce the syrup until thick and sticky. Serve prunes and syrup on ‘caramel’ yoghurt – lightly whisk enough brown sugar into creamy Greek style yoghurt to taste. Or alternatively use tea and rice as a medium for smoking some chicken.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Spring is here!

The nights and mornings are crisp but the days often bathed in bright sunshine, its time to start making salads. Our family favourite is just called the 'big salad' and features something smokey - often chicken breast or trout, something preserved - roasted red casicums (again!) or marinated eggplant together with the freshness of spring - leafy greens, crispy vegetables and fresh curd cheeses topped with crunchy wholemeal croutons.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The love of Laksa

Curry Laksa the traditional Nonya style soup from Malaysia is my idea of takeaway. Its luscious creamy richness and spicy red chilli oil slick on top so inviting, brimming with hokkein and vermicilli noodles, beancurd puffs, fishcake, prawns and beanshoots. One version I love includes silky fried eggplant and a few slices of char sui pork.
Head to Laksa King in Racecourse Road, Flemington they have a number of varieties.
Laksa King on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cheese on toast

Growing up in an era where mums didn't work but rather cooked and cleaned for the family, Sunday was the cooks night off - probably because they had already made a laborious Sunday roast! In our house that meant GYO (Get your own) on Sunday night and for me that was cheese on toast - simply a few slices of tasty sandwiched between two slices of tip top white! Now I can spend eons debating with foodie friends about what type of bread, cheese variety, condiments and even whether it should be dripping with butter 'pan toastie style' or squished in a sandwich press. But what I most prefer is a slice of sour dough drizzled with olive oil, slow toasted in the oven until just crisp then spread with Meredith Dairy marinated feta and topped with roasted red capsicum - now that's cheese on toast!!! Roast red capsicums whole in hot oven 200 Celsius (no need to coat in oil) until they start to darken, cool until you can handle, peel, remove seeds, slice - a little salt, pepper, vinegar and olive oil is also nice especially if you plan to keep for a few days.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"Left overs"

Today was one for relaxation after yesterdays festivities and of course the best bit is the 'left overs' which actually started late last night sneaking Gulab Jamin from the sweet sticky cardamon scented syrup without leaving a tell tale trail. The chilli, garlic and ginger marinated lamb and pork and tandoori chicken are even better today enjoyed in the peaceful sunshine of the backyard with a refreshing ale. And not forgetting the magnificent chutneys, date, coconut and coriander & mint - no not all together, each with its own unique flavours and zing, so so good. Sorry no restaurants to direct you to today - you'll have to find your own 'special' Indian friend (and family) for these delights.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Magical Mystery Tour - Indian style

The afternoon begins as a shopping trip to Jaipur Curry Club in Clayton to buy mountains of brightly coloured 'quality' Indian sweets to celebrate Diwali (Hindu festival of lights) tomorrow. We duck across to Clayton Road to a grocery that's full of neatly stacked Indian goodies but the rice and spices are the feature and the basmati is in big bags and bigger bags and even bigger bags! And a few doors up a non-descript cafe yields such a treat, Samosa Chaat - crunchy, tangy, hot and sweet flavors combined - wow! Why have I never had one of these before? Jaipur Curry Club, Carinish Rd, Clayton and Sarawan Spices, 335 Clayton Road Clayton.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Afghan Kebabs

Morsels of lamb, chicken or minced lamb marinated for ages in onion and garlic juices then speared onto threateningly large metal skewers and grilled over molten charcoal. Melt in your mouth deliciousness. Not just for the carnivores - with flat bread and salad for nutritional balance of course! Try Kabul Village, Douglas St, Noble Park or Pamir Restaurant in Thomas Street, Dandenong.