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Lamaro’s – a picture perfect pub meal

A local to my workplace and a regular for Friday lunches. This is somewhere I return to often… the biggest compliment for any restaurant.. If the walls could talk at Lamaro’s, the peeps in my industry would be shaking in their boots! The most annoying thing about this wonderful gastro pub is how stringent the parking inspectors can be dammit!

Delicious seafood entrees at Lamaro's

There are a number of separate areas; a bar, a main dining room and private dining rooms to ensure all media secrets are kept secrets and I guess, to also facilitate many different eating and drinking occasions! This place is a brilliant lunch venue (lucky me) and also a brilliant function venue.

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The Estelle – another trip over the river

Another trip Northside on another Sunday night. I should say at this point that I love Northside, it’s just that, from St Kilda, it’s a long drive for a meal, worth it though, worth it! Mostly the whinging is just a joke, though Northcote really is pretty far!

And in the case of The Estelle Bar & Kitchen in Northcote, it was well worth it! Our visit to The Estelle came on the recommendation from a long time family friend of Ben’s with many, many years experience in restaurants. We actually all went together to the diner. It really is a diner. We sat at the bar and and ordered the 5 course tasting menu (Ben rolls his eyes) for $70. A friend of mine looked at these photos and said: “Well that meal looked like every cooking cliche in the book” and… my response was as always: “I love that shit!”

polenta, truffle and egg poached at a very low temperature
pepper crusted kangaroo with potato, celeriac & red wine jus
Roast pork loin with spring onion & black garlic
Vanilla rice pudding with passionfruit & puffed rice
Poached rhubarb, musk ice cream (super musky), rosewater meringue & beetroot powder

After this meal, I have invited myself to every other dinner with this couple… EVERY! Even on the Northside!

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2011 part 4 – a taste of greece

Another overseas post tonight…

Ben and I had a fab, massive Europe trip June/July 2011. Two weddings… neither in English… Fun! After the formalities were over we spent 10 amazing days in Greece. We went to Santorini, Mykonos and Paros. The latter was my favourite by a long shot, most likely because I am not 20 anymore… Slightly embarrassed to admit it but when in Mykonos, we didn’t even go to Paradise or Super Paradise… Instead, my best memories of Greece, involved renting a 4 wheeler and biking around Paros, finding deserted beaches and local tavernas…

Santorini was our entry point to Greece and we immediately ordered a greek salad and a club sandwich (for Ben). We stayed at the INCREDIBLE Petra Villas. This is a top 3 lifetime hotel! Highly recommended if in budget. These photo are slightly more about the location, than the meal…

The first greek salad of the trip... and the first view... at Petra Villas Santorini
View from the pool deck at Petra Villas

Next up was a visit to Amoudi Bay, for fabulous seafood. We ate at Sunset Taverna and we booked a waterfront table. You will need to book if you want the front row. You can see from these pics how close we were to the water…

Pan-fried red mullet - you eat from head to tail.. inclusive
the ice bucket... chilled over water
View from our table at Sunset Taverna

Final stop in Santorini was for Ben but it was an excursion I was very happy to accompany. We visited Domaine Sigalas for a little greek wine tasting… This place is absolutely worth a visit. Half way between Imerovigli and Oia. Just make sure you have a full tank of petrol as there are no petrol stations beyond Imerovigli… as we found out. Not really our fault though as our tank appeared to have been drained overnight… something else to watch out for maybe…. These are all the wines we tasted….

My favourite on the far left... sometime available at The Press Club

And this is the size of a greek tasting glass (one standard drink perhaps..?) Needless to say the hitchhike back was pretty fun!

one standard drink x8

After Santorini, we ferried over to Paros and hired another 4-wheeler. This one for 4 days. Your best bet here is to drive around the coast on your first day and pick a few deserted spots to come back to. The best “organised” beach was Santa Maria, the non-busy end but it was still pretty busy during the day.

Santa Maria - the quiet end

The evenings were sensational. We stayed in Naoussa, near the old town which meant an easy walk to cute shops and lots of delicious restaurants. Our hotel (Manis Inn) was not super plush but it had air-conditioning, a big pool and is right on the beach. It was also extremely reasonably priced as far as the islands go. Below is my favourite “unorganised” beach and my favourite meal in Greece.

fav paros beach - Ampelas
simple, fresh, greek food - Ampelas

Last stop on our tour of Greece was party-island Mykonos. The old town here was frikkin cool! But…. as Greece fell deeper into an economic hole there were some issues… like the entire town’s electricity supply was a little unpredictable. At about 11pm, we were strolling through the numerous (very touristy) restaurants and we had total blackout. As in TOTAL blackout! Everybody was quick to get their mobile phones out but there was no panic (except a little in my mind…). It seemed the restaurants were quite used to this and within 10 minutes there were generators humming and it was business as usual. We didn’t find anything too special in Mykonos old town in terms of eating. I don’t doubt there is good food to be had, I just don’t think we found any of the right places. On our second last day we visited the famous (the orginal) Nammos Beach Club on Psarou Beach. We were actually staying opposite this beach (Hotel Nissaki) which was a perfect location, between two beautiful beaches and far away from the super crowds… as long as you could handle listening to Euro-trash at top volume between 2pm and 9pm each day (just an FYI: the playlist is the same everyday). Anyway back to Nammos… We had tried to book the main restaurant but I’m not sure the bookings work the normal way… eg, you call and ask for a table for two… When we arrived we tried again to get a table at the main restaurant but we were told it was full…. until Ben suggested we would be buying a bottle of Dom Perignon (at a triple inflated price) to wash down our lunch… suddenly a table was available for us, which we politely declined and moved on to the smaller japanese restaurant next door.

tempura prawns
salmon tartare

It’s probably not good to reminise about how this day/night ended as we moved from the restaurant to a daybed (back row though as we were clearly not counted as BIG SPENDERS) and ordered another couple of bottles of excellent rose… I do remember dancing on the tables but I guarentee this is normal behaviour at Nammos… I also remember the horrendous hangover that we both had for our last day of our holiday before 40 hours of traveling home… highly UN-recommended!!

If you can get to Nammos super early you might get a front row daybed and you probably wouldn’t need to move all day except for quick cooling off dips in between drinks. A highlight of our Greece trip but maybe not so smart to do it on your last night…

Wow…. long post! Any questions?? ha!

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The Boathouse – A rainy trip to Palm Beach

Yesterday was Australia Day. A Thursday…. So it was pretty obvious I should take the Wednesday and Friday off work and spend the long weekend with some friends on the Central Coast NSW. Sydney summer is something to be enjoyed as often as possible… Unfortunately as the rest of the country swelters, and facebook newsfeeds fill with happy snaps of various sunny beaches… you know the pics I mean? When the photographer angles the camera to include his or her own legs/feet and then the sparkling blue waters…. well…. anyway, I’m pretty confident none of these photographers have been in NSW this week…. definitely no chance of skin cancer… So after 3 days of sitting in inside watching the rain we decided to brave the half an hour ferry ride over to Palm Beach for a little lunch…

We were warned to get to The Boathouse by noon or wait a long time for a table. No problem. We were fine for a table but the queue to order was very long all day! We were waiting for Ben’s cousin to join us so we started with some coffees and these were the best coffees of my recent Sydney visits… A big compliment from a Melbourne coffee snob! After coffees we thought we should order something to nibble on while we waited and I took charge… and Ben’s wallet… and ordered half a dozen oysters and a “bucket of prawns”. I tried to order a bottle of Petaluma Rielsing for a very reasonable $36 but they were out so we had the Knappstein instead… Same same delish!

 

Oysters with champagne & eschalot dressing
Bucket of tiger prawns with whole wheat bread and house made seafood sauce

I was actually pretty full after this start to a meal… Big serves I promise…. nothing to do with being too piggy! Mains were also excellent, steak sandwich, chicken panini, salt & pepper squid and fish and chips. Self-claimed the best on the Northern beaches… They were pretty good, the big fat chips especially…. More coffees after and a couple of mini cheesecakes.

fish and chips
cheeky cheesecake

We caught the 5pm ferry back to Wagstaff…. Kinda full of food and wine… There were a lot of warning signs on the top deck of the ferry… beware of the horn sounding…. beware of valuables… and probably most concerning for a girl who wore her special silk shorts for the Palm beach trip…. beware of seaspraySupressing flashbacks of a past Rotto ferry trip I put my head down and laughed my way through the 15 minutes of open water…  Here is a picture of Ed who is finishing up a long holiday from work… and was hoping to catch a few days of Sydney sun… didn’t happen but he really seemed to enjoy the day out of the house…

Happy Ed

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2011 part 3 – Gingerboy’s famous Son in Law eggs

A short post here because I don’t actually have any photos of our meal at Gingerboy but there is definitely a small lesson to be learned to avoid serious embarrassment at the very least…

We booked as a group of four and were led upstairs through the SUPER busy restaurant. Like, seriously busy and seriously squished-in (my only complaint from the evening was how squished we were and often getting bumped by other diners or the waitstaff). Absolutely no complaints about the food. South East Asian influenced, hawker style sharing plates. My perfect dinner… mainly because I am not shy… or polite when it comes to taking the last piece…

Probably the most talked about dish at Gingerboy is the son-in-law eggs which we were very excited to try. Whole eggs, lightly battered and then deep fried, served with delish herbs, spices & chilli jam (a pic I borrowed from somewhere else..).

Gingerboy's famous son-in-law eggs

We asked how do we eat these? (I was concerned about losing any of the melty goodness myself) and were told to put the whole thing into our mouths… A whole egg? I wasn’t sure…. even though it was soft inside it seemed like a lot to put in all in one go… At this point I will tell you that I have done a lot of research since, across numerous food blogs and reviews and what happened next doesn’t seem to be an isolated incident so definitely worthy of a warning…

We all put the eggs in our mouths and for most of us, it was a highly enjoyable, if slightly suffocating moment… Unfortunately for one of us it wasn’t so enjoyable as my friend tried to breathe and accidentally sucked a little egg into her windpipe… this was followed by some intense choking (and laughing which didn’t help the situation), all the while trying desperately to keep this whole egg in her mouth… yolk started to run down her chin…. Ben and I were in tears with laughter, and concern obviously… my concern was that yolk would start coming out her noes. Her boyfriend was not amused, displaying a combination of disgust and embarrassment which made the whole situation even funnier… Finally she managed to catch her breath, wipe or swallow most of the egg and take a big gulp of wine to wash away the whole experience… I think for next time we will be using cutlery…

Overall, it was a great night. Gingerboy is busy and noisy, with a bar-like atmostphere. The wine list felt pretty exy in comparison with the food but we did drink quite a bit to try and block out ‘the incident”…

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The Brix – A trip to the Northside (darkside)

I think we visited this tiny restaurant in it’s first or second week in existence. A suggestion from a friend who had just moved to Melbourne for a dinner with her and her boyfriend and Ben and I. We found The Brix just off Brunswick St on the side of a real estate office. The restaurant had mistakenly taken our booking for eight peeps instead of four so we sat on a HUGE table under the eye-catching and slightly creepy massive mural (I actually think it might be a massive photograph) but we had a great view of the whole restaurant, through the bar and into the kitchen. The narrow space and ambience created is awesome, with polished concrete floors, a big ropey scuplture thingy, the mural/photograph and perfect mood lighting which does everything to avoid the recent common theme of…. stark…. The food is super techy french. No share plates (dammit) but we had a 5 course set menu which makes me smile as long as the servings are big enough which they were… I was perfectly full! Standout was the lamb belly.  So delicious and crunchy plus juicy and tender meat!

Eel with beetroot, cucumber and horseradish
lamb belly with shallots, capers and almonds
pork with new season asparagus and radish
chocolate pudding with yogurt and figs

I like a set menu as you get to taste what are hopefully the chef’s favourites but we might need to venture back across the river to try some of the rest of the menu! Yummo!

 
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The Duchess & The Smith

I had a fab eating day last Sunday. It started with a brunch in the west. I don’t often cross the Westgate to eat but we wanted a change from the norm and with a little man in tow, a trip to Williamstown beach was on the cards. I put a post out onto facey for some west recommendations and only got two which suggests some unchartered waters perhaps?

We decided on The Duchess of Spotswood based on the quote “it’s really good…. even for the west”. I had the prettiest brekkie ever called Simple Pleasures, and it really was a bunch of delicious, simple, pretty ingredients! The rest of the menu looked amazing too. I think we will be making the trip back.

Poached eggs with marinated avo, heirloom tomatoes, goats curd, radish, peas, herbs

The foreshore stroll was highly enjoyable, especially for the little man Gus, and his running buddy Ben, dodging bikes as they raced each other along the waterfront.

For dinner Ben and I accompanied Ben’s dad and another couple (family friends from France) to The Smith in Prahran. I was really excited to try it as I had heard great things and it’s super local for me. We decided on the $65/head 5 courses menu. This always makes me happy because I get to try more things! Woot! To start we ordered some bubbles, once again celebrating getting engaged (you can never drink too much bubbles). Sidenote: It was at this stage my intention to drive home. It became clear quite quickly however, that the entire dinner was going to proceed in French… hhmmmm… I understand of course, that when I get married in December I will become half french and I am really excited about it… It’s just that my second language skills suck! So, at this stage the decision was made to leave the car and really enjoy the fine food and wine as I couldn’t understand anything else that was going on at my table. The waiter certainly found my situation amusing and was really helpful in filling my glass regularly with the fab Crawford River Riesling

unfortunately... I can't remember which fish this was... prob due to the wine consumption
lamb cooked two ways, with peas and jus.... by the looks of things

So I really enjoyed the entire evening… including the conversation by the end when I’d had enough wine to join in… even if by joining in I just mean yelling out the words that I knew… oops

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2011 part 2 – The fine food of Bali…

Okay another flashback but not too far this time…

Six months ago, on an amazing girls trip to Bali, I got my eat on in a serious way! It was such an amazing trip that we have booked in again for 2012 so you can expect another posting like this later in the year. We visited a few old favourites and some newbies…

KU DE TA is still my favourite place for daytime nibbles by the beach, 10 years after the first time I visited. This time around, we stayed in Uluwatu, far from the hustle and bustle which was wonderful but it made our trips in to Seminyak less frequent and therefore much busier. On this occasion we had spent the morning at Bodyworks for pampering sessions and were re-fuelling before an afternoon of shopping. See what I mean about busy? Perfect day really!

tomato gazpacho with shredded prawns, cucumber, peppers & sourdough croutons
soft shell crab salad with green beans, cherry tomatoes, chilli, lime leaf, mint, coriander, peanuts, & nham jim
tuna carpaccio with preserved lemon, fried capers, chilli and salmoriglio dressing
lobster & pork gyoza with spring onion & black pepper vinegar

The view from KU DE TA at our lunch..

Next up is Sarong which was my favourite dinner spot for the last trip. We had to book for this one. Frikkin awesome asian food served up in a heavily decorative room… Think red velvet drapes, gold brocade and heaps of chandeliers. Amazing ambience. I can’t remember the exact dishes but I can tell you it was the best pork belly I have ever had… and believe me, I have had a lot!

incredible pork belly - crap pic unfortunately
... can't remember what this was... very green though!
pretty lights
lightly cooked fish from the coconut grill with chilli vinegarette
chilli prawns with pink grapefruit and mint. This was SERIOUSLY HOT in the chilli way! YUM
empty plates

Finally, two pictures from our favourite place in Bali… Nammos Beach Club at Karma Kandara Resort. We spent way too many days lazing on this beach, munching on the incredible parmesan truffle fries and delicious pizzas and drinking Coronas or Bintang…. Can’t wait to be back here…

the beach club
my fav nammos pizza - fig, gorgonzola & prosciutto

And that it all on Bali… for now…

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Dinner with the pregnant peeps…

This could be anyone in my life at the mo as it really does feel like EVERYONE is pregnant! The majority of the food was fetus-friendly, except for the prosciutto platter. Our host took influence for the simple platter from Jamie Oliver and served it on a wooden chopping board inscribed with Jamie’s name. A coincidence we were told. ha!

A delicious BBQ followed and it wasn’t cooked to well-done much to everyone’s delight including the mums-to-be!

Thanks guys for a perfect saturday BBQ before wedding season kicks into gear again.

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2011 part 1 – Attica

I kinda lied about it being in 2011, as it was actually Dec 2010 but as it is my favourite meal of all time, it’s fitting to start with it.

Attica, in Ripponlea, Melbourne. Pretty funny location really, out of the city, in the ‘burbs. At the time rated the 4th best restaurant in Australia according to San Pel Best Restaurant Awards. It is now rated number 3 after bumping off Tetsuya’s. We found an unassuming entrance and cool, understated interior. Perfect birthday dinner for Ben and I. We had decided to stay at The Olsen for a super special night, which is pretty funny as Attica is actually closer to our house than the hotel… We started the evening with a glass or two of Roederer at the hotel before a short taxi ride to the restaurant. Remembering now how full of both food and wine we were at the end, it might have been smarter to skip the champagne to start.

We had the 8 course set menu and everything that went into my mouth was unusual and incredible. Nothing was too scary either. The set menu price was extremely reasonable when compared to similar calibre restaurants and the matched wine was said to be excellent by the boy in the know. A really interesting selection from many different regions around the world and matched perfectly.

This meal has stuck in my memory and I cant wait to go back… once I have finished trying every other restaurant in melbourne… hhmmm…

Here’s some piccies and I have sort of remembered what everything was:

Attica, 74 Glen Eira Road  Ripponlea VIC 3185, (03) 9530 0111 www.attica.com.au

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