Friday, September 28, 2012

A few days in Melbourne

 Oh Melbourne, I miss you. It’s probably better if I don’t tell you how long ago this trip actually was (!!) but it was filled with so much fun and so many delicious eating adventures with my sister that I still wanted to share with you, so here is a post filled with ‘mini reviews’ of some places we visited!

Pacos Tacos
When I heard that Frank Camorra of Movida fame had turned his hand to tacos, I knew we were in for good things. It was a warm and sunny Friday when we headed there for lunch, in the same complex as Movida Aqui with Earl Canteen downstairs. It’s a super casual canteen-like set up and I spotted Frank himself in the kitchen.

We started with a few glasses of sangria, and then placed our order at the counter. Tacos were a must of course, we chose the pulled pork with pineapple salsa and the marinated chicken, both of which were very messy but tasted pretty good. However compared to really good tacos at places like Mamasita and Barrio Chino with such interesting flavour and texture combinations, I thought they were perhaps a little uninspiring.

pacos tacos, melbourne
We also ordered the nachos, with toasted tortilla chips, salsa verde, pico de gallo, guac and queso fresco. I think it would have been nice to choose a meat filling to go with the nachos because the pulled pork would have been awesome with these! I also liked the scattering of pepitas on top. While the setup and atmosphere of Pacos Tacos was great, I was expecting the food to be a little better.

Pacos Tacos on Urbanspoon

Pacos Tacos, Level 1 500 Bourke St (03) 9663 3038

little creatures dining hall, fitzroy
Little Creatures Dining Hall
The next day we ended up back at one of my favourite Melbourne haunts that I seem to visit on every Melbourne trip, the Little Creatures Dining Hall in Fitzroy. I have never experienced a hot Melbourne day until now, and after a morning spent exploring Brunswick St, we were dying for a nice cold cider.

There is a lot to be said for consistency. On every visit, the staff have been consistently lovely, the food has been consistently awesome and the atmosphere has been great no matter what time of day or night we visit. We share a meatball pizza and a bowl of their awesome frites

 little creatures dining hall, fitzroy
We don’t want to return outside quite yet, so after a little while we order a serving of the warm cinnamon doughnuts to share as well. I wasn’t expecting the portion to be quite so generous but they were delicious and we polished them all off.

Little Creatures Dining Hall on Urbanspoon

Little Creatures Dining Hall, 222 Brunswick St Fitzroy (03) 9417 5500

Burch and Purchese Sweet Studio
One place that I had been meaning to check out for quite a while was Burch and Purchese. Half patisserie, half science lab, these guys are doing some exciting things with cake (and also have a cookbook coming out soon too, which I will definitely be getting my hands on!). There are delicious things everywhere you look – from handcrafted chocolate bars and a tower of meringues to a whole wall of jams, spreads and curds of every flavour imaginable, not to mention the display case of absolutely gorgeous desserts.

It took quite a while to decide what to get (and the staff were so lovely and very patient!) and we eventually decided on a rather summery sounding dessert served in a clear tube so you could see all the different layers – a coconut mousse, passionfruit curd, coconut tapioca ‘caviar’, passionfruit jelly, oat and ginger crumble with a white chocolate mint wafer, with two tiny macarons on top. Such a great flavour combination, although I remember thinking it could have done without the chocolate wafer.

My other choice had to be this one, if only for the gingerbread man on top! But with the promise of milk chocolate, mango, coconut and ginger in its various components of this cake, we couldn't say no. I would have loved if there was a little more variance of textures in this cake as everything was quite "soft" and some crisp or crunch in there would have been great, but the flavours worked really well together. I'll definitely be back on my next trip, as all of the desserts looked incredible, and they have just added a Gin and Tonic flavoured one. Mmmm.

Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio on Urbanspoon

Burch and Purchese Sweet Studio, 647 Chapel St South Yarra (03) 9827 7060

La Belle Miette
On our last morning in Melbourne, we brunched at The Hardware Societe and then headed down the street to check out the new macaron place that everyone had been talking about. Translating roughly to "beautiful small thing", this is probably the most beautiful way to describe a macaron... and everything sounds better in French, right? I am a sucker for unusual ingredient combinations and pretty packaging, so obviously I fell in love with this place right away.

We chose a couple of flavours - Violet and Blueberry, Moet et Chandon with Blackcurrant, Salted Caramel (with Fleur de Sel), Earl Grey and Chocolate (with Mariage Freres tea) and my favourite - Pimms and Pomegranate. Each was delicious and the perfect example of what a macaron should be. There was not a tiny bump to be seen on their beautiful smooth shells and of course each had perfect little feet. You can tell that they are made with care and of course beautiful ingredients. With the beautiful boxes (you get to choose the colour you like too), they make absolutely wonderful gifts. I hear that they have now also opened a second shop in Richmond.

La Belle Miette on Urbanspoon

La Belle Miette, 30 Hardware Lane Melbourne (03) 9024 4528

Monday, September 17, 2012

Salted Caramel and Bourbon Milkshakes

salted caramel & bourbon milkshake
I’m going to keep it short today, but oh so sweet. I had a little bit of caramel sauce leftover from another dessert and an extreme case of baking indecision over the weekend. I’m not sure what made me think of milkshakes, as I generally never drink them - unlike Steve, who finds it impossible to pass up ordering a milkshake or spider whenever he sees them on a cafĂ© menu!

Then I remembered the Salted Caramel milkshake at Reuben Hills that he ordered when we visited for brunch and decided to try my own very grown-up sort of milkshake, because when I say caramel sauce, I don’t mean any old sauce. I mean Salted Caramel and Bourbon sauce. Oh yeah.

This milkshake is seriously indulgent. If you wanted to go all out you could use a homemade salted caramel ice cream too. As far as milkshakes go, I reckon it was one of the best I've ever had, although it was seriously rich and I couldn't finish it (!) but I know Steve would have loved it.

Hope everyone has a delicious week! xx

salted caramel & bourbon milkshake

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Signature Brasserie, Brighton Le Sands

signature brasserie
I don’t go out to eat that much any more. I know it’s almost blasphemous for a food blogger to admit that, but it’s true. In years past I would often find myself out most nights of the week, but these days I often prefer to return to my favourite places, and the camera hardly ever comes with me. But the desire to share really great discoveries will never die – I mean that’s what blogging is all about!

Signature Brasserie overlooks Botany Bay at Brighton Le Sands. A family-owned restaurant and part of Le Sands Pavilion, the Greek hospitality and lovely staff are one of many reasons to return. The view is just beautiful, and I was fascinated watching the planes landing at the airport just across the water, but surprisingly you can hardly hear them at all. I guess you'd describe the food as a cross between modern Australian and modern Greek, with some really clever flavour combinations and interesting twists on classic dishes.

signature brasserie
We started with a delicious assortment of shared dishes, each more delicious than the last. If there are ever zucchini flowers on the menu, I have to order them, and these definitely didn’t disappoint. Stuffed with goats cheese and caramelised onion, they were fried until perfectly crispy and served on a delicious beetroot puree. The flavours complemented each other perfectly.

signature brasserie
Anything wrapped in pancetta is usually a winner, as were these scallops served with a mysteriously named ‘Dragon sauce’. The basil aioli was a delicious and unique accompaniment to the Salt and Pepper Crusted Calamari. The perfect thing to nibble while sitting so close to the water!

signature brasserie
But my favourite had to be the Braised Wagyu boneless short rib on celery puree. Words cannot describe how tender and flavoursome this meat was. It fell apart under your fork and virtually melted in your mouth. I know these are meant to be share plates, but really, how can you be expected to share when something tastes so delicious!

signature brasserie
We were intrigued by the Signature Dishes as they all sounded absolutely delicious! The Hot Seafood platter is a combination of a their From the Ocean dishes in smaller tasting form including the Barramundi served with superfood salad, honey yoghurt and pomegranate, Snapper with lemon butter sauce, Salmon with braised leek, carrot, King Prawns and Scallops. It’s hard to believe that up until a few years ago, I didn’t like seafood at all! My favourite was the Barramundi, which was cooked to perfection, plus I really liked the mix of flavours and textures in the superfood salad, with the pomegranate giving it a little boost of sweetness.

signature brasserie
The other dish I just knew I had to try was the Rib Eye. 700grams of Cape Grimm dry aged beef is perfectly cooked to order. Large enough to share between 2 or 3, and I loved every mouthful of this delicious dish. I've already decided that next time I have to try the Lamb Shoulder, which is slow-braised for 8 hours. Yum!

signature brasserie
Dessert is a tough decision at the best of times, but here is made even more difficult when the waiter brings out the huge platter of gorgeous desserts for you to pick from. The items change regularly and could include anything from tiramisu, gooey chocolate fondant, berry panna cotta and fruit tarts. Indecision has never tasted so good...

signature brasserie
In the end though, we decided on the Strawberry Kisses - served with both milk and white chocolate. It's such a simple idea but the strawberries were so beautiful and sweet. I do recommend the double dip into both kinds of chocolate!

If you're ever in the Brighton area, I'd definitely recommend Signature Brasserie for lunch, dinner or even just a coffee and something off the dessert tray for afternoon tea!

Signature Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Signature Brasserie, The Grand Parade Brighton Le Sands

Spicyicecream dined as a guest of Signature Brasserie


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