Nudel Bar and Society: Ladies who Lunch

This is a double edition of ladies who lunch – I had the pleasure of having two lunches with two friends in the same week.

Nudel Bar

Jo and I went to Nudel Bar for a long over due catch up. It was a cold, wintry day, and I felt like something warm and soupy. So I ordered the Tom Yum soup ($19.80) – it was packed with egg noodles, a slurpable, spicy, sour broth, and lots of seafood (mussels and squid).

It was a very large serve, and if I hadn’t eaten all of it I would’ve been tempted by dessert. There was a chocolate cake that the waiter described in persuasive detail that sounded wonderful.

Nudel Bar
76 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9662 9100

The next day I met up with Emily and her daughter, Audrey, for a lunch at Society. It was much posher inside than it appeared from the outside (all the yellow outside threw me off), but they were okay with a pram being pushed through the restaurant.

We were given bread and oil, along with the tastiest olives I’ve eaten in ages. I had a baby on my lap at the time, so I didn’t manage to take photos.

Society do an express lunch during lunch time – for $20 you get a plate of food (from a shortened menu), a glass of wine and a coffee. Good value!

Society

I opted for something off the main menu – a small serving of potato gnocchi with slow-cooked beef ragu & fresh shaved black truffle ($18 / $28). The little gnocchi were light and the sauce was rich and plate lickingly good.

Society

Emily had something off the Express menu – a pear and blue cheese salad. You can see Audrey’s hand (on the right) picking up a piece of blue cheese. It appears that kid has good taste already!

Two lovely lunches with two lovely ladies in one week – it was a rare treat and very much enjoyed.

Society Restaurant
23 Bourke St, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9639 2544

German FFOF

Hallo! It’s been a while since FFOFs for us. A FFOF (Flickr Fuck Off Feast) is a meal where we cook food that that relate to a particular theme. Alastair and I missed the Greek FFOF due to parental issues (mine came to visit) so I was determined to make the next one. The theme this time was German.

I found it a difficult theme and it took me a lot of googling before I settled on the dishes that I was going to make –
“>zwiebelkuchen (onion pie)
and
“>hasenpfeffer

“>(sour rabbit stew)
.

I woke up on Saturday with a very sore throat – the first time that I’ve been sick this year. I had been very proud of my immune system up to that day. Bro and I headed out to pick up groceries, and I started cooking when I got home. Disaster. I haven’t had such a bad day in the kitchen for a long time! I was sick. My head was fuzzy. I broke a glass. I made the pastry for my pie, but my butter didn’t seem cold enough and I forgot to add salt. When I went to blind bake my crust, I forgot to put baking paper between the pastry and my baking weights (beans and rice). I realised my mistake after it had been in the oven for five minutes. By then it was too late – the pastry had melted just enough to trap all the small grains. #$@%$&$(*#@$@

I was not a happy baker! I must admit that I had a little tantrum and refused to start again. Fortunately, I still had the rabbit stew.

I combined two recipes that I found online (
“>this one
and
“>this one
), but focussed on the first one. I found it a bit strange. The recipe said to mix 1/2 cup of the marinade with 1/4 cup of toasted flour. That gets added to the pot, in goes the rabbit, and it stews until the meat is tender. Well, there wasn’t any liquid in my pot after I did all that, so I had to add a fair amount of water. It made me wonder how good the recipe was.

German FFOF

Rhys and Kath were the hosts for the evening and they provided us with a mug of mulled wine when we arrived. Lovely! It was perfect for such a cold, rainy night. The mug on the right belonged to Kath’s grandmother – dating back to the 50s!

German FFOF

Jaye and Tim bought some appetizers – blue cheese with a slice of pear. I really like blue cheese with a bit of fruit.

German FFOF

The next dish on offer was something that I doubt will be topped in any FFOFs to come. Tim made beer soup. Yep, beer soup. It consisted of a six pack of German beer, sour cream, sugar, and cinnamon. It was really sweet, very creamy, but with a beer after taste. NASTY. It was wrong, just wrong. And what a waste of beer!

Rhys had made some nice bread rolls that we somewhat spoilt, as we ate them with the beer soup (desperately trying to mask the taste of the soup, I suspect).

German FFOF

Fortunately, the rest of the food was more palatable. Jaye made potato dumplings, with a peach inside. Apparently it was a side or a main – our opinion that it was dessert. The dumplings were served with a brown sugar and butter sauce, and they were rather nice, although quite heavy and stodgy.

German FFOF

We then moved on to my bunny stew. The bunny was okay. The recipe said that it was an acquired taste – I certainly agreed! It had a herby, spiced flavour, with a sour after taste, and unfortunately it was a rather unappetisingly beige brown. Rhys and Kath provided some “German” potatoes.

German FFOF

The next course was Pete’s kartoffelpuffers (potato pancake). They were fried in lard and then topped with cranberry sauce. So good, but so bad.

German FFOF

And finally, when we thought we couldn’t eat any more, we finished off with dessert – apple strudel – from Pete and Jodes.

Another FFOF over, and a good time was had by all. This one was particularly memorable due to the beer soup. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget how it tasted!

Dai Duong

On the Sunday of my Bro’s birthday weekend, we went to yum cha. He woke up feeling a bit nauseous (hung over), but when I suggested that we reschedule yum cha, he bravely said that he would eat through the pain.

What a trooper!

When it comes to yum cha, we used to go to Golf Leaf in Sunshine. One day, on a whim, we tried Dai Duong because it was closer to home. Not only is it closer, but the restaurant is huge, so there’s no problem getting a table. Food comes out incredibly quickly, particularly if you get there early, and within five minutes of sitting down, our table is normally full of dim sum.

These photos aren’t actually from our last visit, but we usually eat the same things whenever we have yum cha anyway.

Dai Duong yum cha

Chicken feet/fung jiao is my Bro’s favourite. We always get two, one basket for him, and one for everyone else.

Dai Duong yum cha

The prawn dumplings/har gow are pretty good.

Dai Duong yum cha

Pork dumplings/sui mai – steamed dumplings with a pork filling in a wonton skin. Actually, I don’t know why I always get these. I don’t like them that much, and I could use the stomach space for other things!

Dai Duong yum cha

Probably my favourite (apart from the egg tarts) – lou mai gai/chicken and sticky rice wrapped in a lotus leaf.

Dai Duong yum cha

Deep fried goodness! These taro dumplings / wu gok have a wrapper made from mashed taro, and a savoury filling (pork and other assorted ingredients) inside. I really enjoy the crispy, flakey outside.

Dai Duong yum cha

Another one of my Bro’s favourites – deep fried crescent dumplins / ham sui gok. These have a similar filling to the taro dumplings, but the wrapper is made with glutinous rice.

Dai Duong yum cha

Shrimp rice noodle rolls/cheong fun. I’m surprised to see that we got the shrimp ones for a change. I think they didn’t have the beef (which I prefer).

Dai Duong yum cha

Dessert tofu / dou fu fa – the tofu is pretty silky, but I thought that the sugar syrup could use a little more sweetness and ginger.

Dai Duong yum cha

And finally, yum cha isn’t over until I’ve had an egg tart. It doesn’t matter how full I am, I can always fit at least one in!

The prices are fairly standard and range from $4.20 – $6.20 for a standard to a deluxe dish.

Dai Duong Restaurant
Shop 5/ 64 Hopkins St
Footscray
Phone: (03) 9689 9899

Gills Diner

Groin grabbingly good! – Ben

To continue the celebration of my Bro’s birthday weekend, we headed to Gills Diner last Saturday night with a few of his friends. The quote above is from our pal, Ben, who requested that I post it on my blog sometime. He is a very articulate man indeed.

Gills Diner is a warehousish space which has been described as part school room. I got the school vibe while there, probably due to the wooden chairs, wooden tables, and school style heaters. Unlike school however, Gills is hippity, hip, hip.

The menu is on a large blackboard on the back wall. It’s cooler and funkier than having a paper menu, but a bit problematic if you have bad eyes (like me). We were seated just far away for it to become difficult to read after a glass (or two or three) of wine.

We were advised not to order a main and a starter each, so we got four starters to share between the nine of us.

Gills Diner

The first one was the farmhouse terrine with chutney ($15). It was delicious, but I’m glad that we were sharing. It was a rather large slice!

Gills Diner

We also had a plate of antipasto ($22). On the plate was little fried fish (anchovies? whitebait?), pickled vegetables, bread with pate, slices of a rolled up chicken thing with stuff in the middle, and fried cheese. Crumbed, deep fried cheese! Crispy but gooey, it was the best thing on the plate just due to the fact that it was fried cheese.

Gills Diner

And we got two plates of one of the specials – chorizo and calamari. It was pretty simple, but good.

Gills Diner

Bro had the roasted quail with saffron gnocchi ($25). All those peas looked a bit scary but it was a good dish.

Gills Diner

Alastair had the rabbit saddle, prosciutto rolled and stuffed with walnuts and dates on chickpea stew ($33).

Gills Diner

And I had the risotto with porcini and forest mushrooms and tallegio ($23). Oh, yum. I tried four other mains (we rotated our plates so we could have a taste of what everyone was eating!) and I thought that I had ordered the best dish. I was happy when it made its way back to me! The mushrooms gave the risotto an earthy flavour, and the rice had the right amount of “bite”. The buttery tallegio was delicious, particularly where it had melted into the risotto.

Gills Diner

And finally, Lisa and I had to have dessert. We had been eyeing up the churros with chocolate ($10) the whole night. Unfortunately, for me, it turned out to be a disappointment. There was no mention of it on the menu, but the chocolate was flavoured with orange. Ew!! Personally, I think that chocolate and orange should stay as far away from each other as possible. Down to chocolate and orange! I couldn’t even eat the churros on their own, because they didn’t taste right without chocolate on them. Boo. Fortunately, Alastair doesn’t have choc/orange issues, so he happily finished off the churros, despite being “too full for dessert”.

Even though I had my issue with the churros and chocolate, we had a really good night. I enjoyed the food and atmosphere and would happily go back. Maybe no churros next time though!

Gills Diner
Gills Alley (rear of 360 Little Collins St)
Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9670 7214

Blush Foodroom (closed) – Happy Birthday, Bro!

It was Bro’s birthday on Friday – 08/08. How lovely that the Olympics were scheduled especially to celebrate his birthday!

On Friday night, we went to Blush Foodroom to kick off the eating weekend. Blush is located on a corner, in a cottage that was once a milk bar. Nowadays, it’s a split-level restaurant that also does a busy trade during weekend brunch time.

You may notice a strange blue twinge in my photos – it’s from a blue light that was outside the window.

Blush Foodroom

Alastair and I started off with the pork belly – twice cooked, served on a ginger and apple puree, with sesame seeds, spring onion and snow pea salad ($16.90). The pork belly was lovely and tender – initially I thought it was a tad salty, but it was just right when eaten with a bit of apple puree. The best part was the piece of crackling – like a salty pork chip! Yum!

Blush Foodroom

Pat had one of the specials – pea and ham soup served with a dijon crouton. I have a wee issue with peas (I don’t like them) so I didn’t have a taste.

Blush Foodroom

For mains, I had the Moroccan braised veal shanks on saffron mash, roasted baby root vegetables and served with a red peppercorn sauce ($31.90). Wow, this was huge! I found the meat very tender, but lacking in flavour. I would’ve liked a bit more oomph, particularly for something that was “Moroccan braised”. At least the mash was smooth and creamy.

Blush Foodroom

Pat and Alastair had the herb and garlic crusted lamb rump with dauphinois potatoes, orange and thyme braised fennel and crispy prosciutto served with a port wine jus ($31.90).

Blush Foodroom

And then, dessert. We all had separate ones (must have been feeling greedy that night). Alastair had the sticky date pudding ($13.50). The Boys decided that sticky date pudding is the best dessert – I don’t know if I agree with that assertion. I think creme brulee might be a winner for me. But Alastair’s sticky date pudding looked pretty good, particularly with the slowly melting ice cream….

Blush Foodroom

Bro had the cheesecake ($11.90) – on the menu it was raspberry and vanilla, but he was advised that it was unavailable and it was substituted with a Bailey’s version instead. It came with coffee bean syrup and caramelised banana.

Blush Foodroom

I had a chocolate and macadamia nut mousse with strawberry sauce and white chocolate ice cream ($12.90). The mousse was rich and smooth and I even enjoyed the ice cream, despite my general dislike of white chocolate. I also loved the crunchy chopped macadamia on top of the mousse too.

We spent the rest of the weekend eating. Stay tuned for more birthday eating adventures!

Blush Foodroom
43 Epsom Rd
Kensington 3031 VIC
Phone: (03) 9376 1222

Melt and mix banana bread

Spring?

Is Spring coming? I walk past this tree every day on my way to/from work and noticed last week that it has started to produce flowers. There’s only flowers on this one so far – the trees next to it are still bare. I sure hope Spring is coming!

Banana Bread

Bro and I spent some time in the kitchen in the weekend. Bro made soup and sour cream dumplings while I did some baking. I neglected to photo Bro’s creations – sorry!

I felt like making some banana bread – merely so I could use a new tin! I recently got a mini loaf tin to add to my burgeoning tin collection. In my defence, some tins were presents – at least, that’s what I say to ease the part of me that longs for an uncluttered life!

Banana Bread

I googled for a banana bread recipe, and came across one by Bill Granger for a melt and mix banana bread (there’s also a coconut bread on that page that I’m keen to try soon). I was pretty faithful to the recipe – the only variation I made was to reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup. I was worried that it would be too sweet, but to be honest, the full cup of sugar would probably have been okay.

Banana Bread

I found that the banana breads rose A LOT and my mini loaves weren’t so mini by the time they had finished baking! The breads were also very moist and the crunchy almond topping on top was super scrumptious. I ate all the topping that had fallen off the breads and found myself picking extra bits off!

It was a pretty good recipe, but if you have bananas lying around, I’d recommend this banana cake before it. Banana bread is pretty much cake anyway, right?

Fräus Crêpes & Chocolat

Fräus

On a chilly Sunday, Alastair and I headed out for brunch and came across Fräus. Fräus specialises in chocolate and crepes – both good things!

It was busy when we walked in, and as all the inside tables were taken, we were given the option of sitting in the back courtyard. It was FREEZING outside, but we were persuaded by their offer to turn on the outside heaters.

So we headed out the back, strategically choosing a table as close to the gas patio heaters as possible! True to their word, a staff member followed soon after to switch on the heat. Unfortunately he had a bit of trouble lighting the heaters, so we sat in the cold for ten minutes while he tried to figure it out.

When we first sat down out the back, I was slightly concerned that we would be forgotten about, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that service was very prompt and attentive. All the staff were lovely by the way – very sweet and charming. It was all very endearing.

Fräus

There’s about 20 different varieties of hot chocolate on the menu, and as it was so cold, I ordered a dark hot chocolate ($4.00 for a cup, $4.50 for a mug). Stupidly (greedily?) I asked for a mug. I should’ve just had a cup. The hot chocolate was soooooo thick, like eating a warm chocolate pudding. It was delicious and decadent, but there was no way I was going to be able to finish it. I think I gave myself a chocolate headache trying!

Fräus

For his meal, Alastair had the salmon benedict galette ($15). It had two eggs, smoked salmon, and baby spinach in a thin buckwheat crepe with hollandaise sauce on the side.

Fräus

After examining all the savoury options, I decided on the kransky galette ($12.50) – kransky sausage, mushrooms, tomato, onions and cheese in a thin crepe with tomato sauce on the side.

Fräus

The night before we had spent the evening with friends drinking wine (brandy may have also made an appearance). I wasn’t hung over, but I was craving something unhealthy and fatty and this was perfect. The kransky was so tasty. Yuuuuuum.

I had optimistically mentioned to Alastair that we could have a sweet crepe after our meals. But I found that my galette was very filling, and combined with the hot chocolate, there was no room in my stomach for anything else. Oh well! Guess we’ll have to return in the future to try one.

Fräus Crêpes & Chocolat
345 Victoria Street
North Melbourne VIC 3051
AUSTRALIA