Wednesday, October 12, 2011

a glimpse of Loam

Well the first trimester of my Grad Cert in Human Nutrition is complete and the final essay is in the process of being graded. That leaves me with some extra time to indulge in blogging and there are plenty of photo's attesting to my non academic pursuits stored on the camera just waiting to have their stories told. The first a 'field trip' for the culinary obsessed to the Bellarine Peninsula. The day included:

A visit to Sea Bounty Mussels - a family owned business where Lance shared his wealth of knowledge about a life time of commercial fishing in Victoria. Scallops being his first mollusc followed now by the local blue Mussels of Port Phillip Bay. Now that I know spawning around this time of the year decreases the size of the meat I'll wait to Novemberish for my next mussel cook-up. Even the child one is looking forward to a bowl of plump mussels in a garlic infused broth.
Next was feeding and nattering with Corrine and the goats at Drysdale Goats Cheese; the fresh curd cheeses a revelation- but then fresh is .... And there were plenty of nettles in the paddocks for an eager goat or chef.

Loam on UrbanspoonBy then it was time for a spot of
lunch; which was a sneak peak at Loam. The Loam philosophy to forage, fish and hunt, especially locally, was truly reflected in the mini menu we experienced; savoury morsels thoughtfully structured into refined dishes. I look forward to a future degustation dinner.

Beautiful food was the order of the day although there were rumblings of 'lots of protein' (meaning of the animal kind). Perhaps a fruit producer needed to be included to round out the trip although it was bit early in the year for the blueberry farm we drove past. Nonetheless I feel spending time at the source is valuable for young and 'old' cooks alike.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lets eat cake

Strolling along Ackland Street St Kilda, post jazz concert at the nearby Palais, on a chilly Melbourne evening warrants a coffee/hot chocolate and cake. And the institution for cake in this neck of the woods is Monarch Cakes. There are plenty of choices but three stand-out must haves if one is aiming for the items of folklore, they are:
  • Chocolate Kooglhoupf
  • Polish cheesecake
  • Plum cake
Despite the fabulous descriptor provided by the staff for the cheesecake I like a bit of fruit in my cake and for my partner chocolate beats cheese. 'We bake the same way our grandmothers did, using the ingredients in their most natural form. Our cakes are made with the highest grade butter and sugar and we never use substitutes or premixes' reads the speal on the website. As long as the grandmothers used canned plums! That would be one of the major differences between the baking of my grandmother and my mother - grandma never used canned foods. Although on the whole both choices were rich, moist and dense as one would expect of a European cake. So with chills warmed and emotions feed it was time to head back east to the burbs.

Monarch Cakes on Urbanspoon 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

What's in season....

Having just driven through the asparagus growing heart of Victoria, on the way to visit family, I've been looking forward to dishes featuring the first of the fresh Koo-wee-rup spears. And recently I heard Matt Wilkinson (co owner of Pope Joan) talking about the virtues of offering seasonal produce so it was wonderful to see his menu reflecting Spring and of course asparagus when I dined there this week. Eggs and asparagus are such a great combination, so an asparagus omelette was tempting (and I did prong a little of my partners). But another dish took my fancy - smoked tongue with celeriac (also in season) remoulade and crispy toasts and I was not disappointed.                                                 

The tongue was lightly smoked but oh so tender and juicy and the remoulade just as I like -  julienne of celeriac fine but not grated and enough but not too much creamy mayonnaise, finished with picked chervil and very crisp toasts, excellent. I probably should mention the sauce gribiche on the side as it was tasty but I've been trying to ignore it simply because I don't think the dish needed it (a little more salad if anything but no more 'creamy' needed).

And there is more on offer than beautiful seasonl food - affable efficient service staff, interesting decor, clean toilets etc etc. I look forward to my next visit.
Pope Joan on Urbanspoon
And as I like to get 'up close and personal' with my food I stopped for a few little happy snaps for the 'family album' of that luscious asparagus popping up through the rich dark soil. I must try pickling some this year!