Middle Park Hotel: Jasper Hill wine dinner

Disclosure: Alastair and I dined courtesy of Middle Park Hotel.

It’s cold. I know, I know, compared to other places in the world it’s not *that* cold, and yes, this is the part where you get to tell me I’m soft. But it’s cold to me, and this weather makes me want to hibernate with a heater and copious amounts of red wine.

Fortunately, I received plenty of the latter into my system last week during an epic dinner at Middle Park Hotel. MPH is located in a beautiful Victorian building on the corner of Canterbury Road and Armstrong Street that was originally built in 1889. Inside the building is a front bar, a dining room, and upstairs accommodation rooms.

Upon arrival we headed through to the dining room – a large wood panelled room decorated with various sporting memorabilia. Alastair was very impressed to see a cricket bat signed by Don Bradman hanging up. Apparently I should’ve been impressed as well… I tried to fake some enthusiasm but I don’t think he was fooled.

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Besito (closed)

Besito, on Barkly street in West Footscray, is a sweet cafe that opened earlier this year. The food at Besito is Colombian, and not knowing much about Colombia or the cuisine, I was eager to find out more. So when they recently started opening for dinner, I wandered down with Alastair, Bro, Maztech and Daz in tow to check it out.

True to form, the boys left the ordering up to Maz and me. Dishes are designed to be shared, though it was a bit hard to judge how much to order as we didn’t know how many pieces came with each dish. Maz and I muddled through, and after a bit of guidance around the menu from the friendly proprieter, we decided on several dishes for the table.

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The week in brief: 18 June – 24 June

This week: a great wine dinner at Middle Park Hotel, lots of soup (I have a cold boohoo), another fantasticballs dinner at Chinese Spicy and Barbie Kitchen and sausage making. SAUSAGES!

But before I get into that, I wanted to let you know about a Wirra Wirra wine dinner next week on Wednesday 27 June that’s being hosted by LivingRoom in Malvern. (Full disclosure: I’m attending next week courtesy of LivingRoom restaurant).

Check out the menu for the wine dinner here – it’s 5 courses of food matched with wines from the Wirra Wirra portfolio. It should be good fun. :)

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1 + 1 Dumpling Noodles

You wouldn’t expect lamb skewers to be the best thing on the menu at a restaurant named 1 + 1 Dumpling Noodles. But if you make it to this casual restaurant in Footscray and don’t eat at least two lamb skewers each, you’re missing out.

1 + 1 Dumpling Noodles has been around for quite a while. Located on Hopkins Street, across from the Footscray Market, they serve north western Chinese / Xinjiang food. Food in the Xinjiang region of China generally uses quite a bit of lamb/mutton and no pork because it’s a region with a high proportion of Muslims, due to the geographic nearness of the Middle East. Noodles are primarily made with wheat flour and cumin is a common spice.

I hadn’t eaten at 1 + 1 Dumpling Noodles in quite a few years (for some reason I thought they had closed!) and was pleased to find on my latest visit with Maztech, Bro, Bro’s gf, and Alastair, that not much had changed. The walls had been painted, and there was now a helpful photo menu, but it was still the same casual joint that I remembered. And the lamb skewers were still on the menu. Win win win.

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Henry and the Fox

Disclosure: I dined courtesy of Henry and the Fox.

In the kid’s book “Henry and the Fox”, Henry is a cowardly cockerel who can’t even crow properly. For the restaurant in the CBD, one of six (!) restaurants that renowned restauranter Paul Mathis has opened in the past six months or so, Henry is the last name of his PA and Fox refers to Michael Fox, the head chef. Fortunately there’s no cowardly cockerels at this restaurant because there’s plenty to crow about.

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Caramel apple sponge pudding

I like to buy apples through autumn and winter, but invariably we end up with ones in the fruit bowl that are starting to go floury. I hate floury apples. Plus if there’s one thing worse than an overexaggeration, it’s floury apples. :)

What to do with them? Well there’s a gazillion and one things you can do with apples but lately I’ve been very enamoured with apple sponge pudding. The kind of pudding that has a layer of baked sponge/cake on top, and soft apples sitting on the bottom. I made one recently that had an additional component – caramel sauce – which coated the apples on the bottom.

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Dognation

Disclosure: We dined courtesy of Dognation thanks to Thanh.

Hot diggity dog, there’s a new gourmet hot dog purveyor in town. Dognation opened a couple of weeks ago in The Causeway – the laneway between Bourke Street Mall and Little Collins Street – and their shop used to be the adjacent restaurant’s storeroom. It’s itty bitty, but somehow they manage to turn out some pretty good hot dogs, with five versions on the menu. The hot dogs are all named and themed after different cities around the world.

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