Friday, June 24, 2011


It went like this........ 

Well done team Attica!

Fabulous food - seasonally focused menu, ingredient integrity, technically masterful, clever flavour harmonies, textural variety, visually stimulating and just a bit playful

Excellent service - especially knowledgeable, calmly proficient and unpretentious (I enjoyed swapping stories about aunties and tongue!)

Shinning stars:
  • 'A simple dish of potato cooked in the earth it was grown' - just because I'd heard/read so much about it.
  • 'Raw Chestnuts, salt baked Celeriac, Pyengana' - because WOW and I adore Pyengana cheddar.
  • 'Beef Tongue, Vanilla, Myrtus, Lettuce stems' - mmmmm tongue.
Details @ 
Attica on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Meaty menus

I've been wading my way through a list of cafes that seems to be ever expanding. My focus is mainly from the brunch perspective - for those that haven't noticed its definitely a favourite meal period. And along the way I've become increasingly aware of the appearance of two distinct varieties of menu. One with lots of choices and another that seems to be a little limited and not always because of the number of dishes. Both styles usually have a few of the conventional English style breakfast items such as eggs with bacon and sausages together with selections a little less traditional such as beans or mushrooms. But even so, at times I feel it's a battle to choose a dish, why I ask?

Now I'm no vegetarian, not even close. But I do like menus that allow me to choose a dish that has a balance of components and scrambled eggs, even if they are truffled, served with pork and fennel sausages is a lot of animal! Consequently it’s the menus with a little less meat that I find most appealing and seemly I find these in business staffed by lots of women. Now I know that physiologically we girls require less protein in the diet and meat provides higher percentages of protein than say cheese or legumes but does it really impact so obviously on the way the menu is structured???  A question to explore further I think,  do women write less meat based menus?
Any way the menu at Milkwood is meaty without all the meat! Even the pork and fennel sausages come braised with heaps of onions, which created a better balance. There's also tomato butter beans with feta, lemon thyme mushrooms with ricotta, avocado with lemon oil and potato gems just to mention a few of the choices. And the sweet and fruity porridge, muesli and pancakes all sounded good too – ah next time! (The lunch baguettes and cakes on display looked appealing as well). Besides the grand choices I particularly liked the structure of the menu where one could almost 'build' your own dish. Tasty and generous serves of real food I feel. And efficient service to boot.

Milkwood, 120 Nicholson St, Brunswick East.
Milkwood on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fresh is best

'Unherbed' pho
New to my list of Bridge Road favourites but already well discovered by many of Melbourne's pho lovers is Pho Chu The. I love the simplicity of a Pho Restaurant - Beef Pho or Chicken Pho (pronounced 'fer'). For those in the know, as there is not much of a menu as such, a few extra treats for your pho can also be ordered, like tripe; beef tendon or congealed blood! And for the really hungry or those needing textural contrasts, the other option is to start with a plate of crispy Vietnamese spring rolls - the ones that you wrap in the lettuce with a few herbs and dip into Nước Chấm.

As I was simultaneously inhaling the warm aromatic steam and picking fresh herbs into my broth the conversation on the next table, which is never very far away in such establishments, caught my interest. The mention of ex-students often draws my attention. This conversation is about how ludicrous the advertisement for a well known supermarket chain by a celebrity chef is. "I only want the freshest and the best", the Chef states. "What chef would want old and the worst", the young man jeered. It seemed a particularly relevant comment when I inspected the supreme freshness of the crisp mung bean sprouts which were about to follow the seemingly ‘just-picked’ holy basil into my bowl of fragrant broth. The essence of Vietnamese cuisine, as it differs from other Asian cuisines, is in it's defining simplicity and freshness. And certainly when I was shopping for food, cooking and eating in Vietnam, a few years back, the focus on these elements was paramount and seemingly far removed from the mind set of the 'one-stop' supermarket shop on a weekly/fortnightly basis that has become a common Aussie routine. So I say ditch the 'Big Two', shop local, shop small and shop often.

Pho Chu The  Bo Ga
270 Victoria Street, Richmond
Pho Chu The on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Nyonya Kueh

I tried so valiantly to eat my way through the cuisine of Malaysia during my recent trip yet since returning I have discovered I didn't even scratch the surface. And it seems I did a pretty average job at 'Nonya' style dishes in particular, perhaps in part because we didn't get to Melaka in the south - next time for sure!

The Otak Otak Prawns or Fish (Nonya fish custard wrapped in banana leaves) at Lims Nonya Hut is missing the banana leaves, difficult to get Lim tells us. The prawns are however tenderly cooked in a creamy custard of deliciously balanced coconut, kaffir lime, chilli, lemongrass, galangal, turmeric and shrimp paste on a base of betel leaves. Wow. As there was just the two of us we limited our ordering to just two dishes, our other choice a vegetable acar (a dish of mixed pickled vegetables and peanuts in spicy and sour sauce) oh and steamed rice.  The acar was maybe a little overpowering with the Otak Otak but again great textures and flavour balance. Next time I look forward to trying some old favourites like laksa and char kway teow.

And I couldn't resist ordering a serve of sweet sticky black glutinous rice with coconut milk; Malaysia being one of the few Asian cuisines that really does sweets. I think I became just a little addicted to the slightly gluey pudding like texture of glutinous rice as well as Kuih (Cake) also spelt Kueh. Kuih are bite sized Malaysian snacks made from glutinous rice, tapioca or mung beans and flavoured with coconut,  pandan leaves or gula melaka (palm sugar). Lim had just freshly made a few varieties of Kuih so we were treated to a 'small' selection including her Kueh Talam. Consisting of two layers, the top layer is made from coconut milk and rice flour and the bottom layer is made from pandan leaf extract, mung bean and rice flour. As you can imagine after already indulging in dessert, and not a light one at that, this last offering was just a bit much and we waddled out like oompa loompas, but thanks Lim great Nonya flavours.

Lims Nyonya Hut, 240 Blackburn Road Glen Waverley
Lim's Nyonya Hut on Urbanspoon