Early, girly brunch at Three Bags Full

My little gang of girlies used to brunch super regularly! Ben could never understand how we needed to see each other so much and we would still have so much stuff to talk about… DER… Anyway, a core member of the gang has moved to Sydney on a short (hopefully) sabbatical and it turns out she was the main organiser of our brunches… therefore we haven’t had one for AGES!

Having heard about the queues, we knew we had to get organised pretty early when we made the decision to try out Three Bags Full on a Saturday morning. 9AM was meeting time. I heard a few of the boyfriends had a raised eyebrow at the time we all got up this particular Saturday… Things are definitely changing… There was only one alcohol-foggy brain amongst us… and after a coffee we were all on an even playing field. Three Bags Full seems to spread across three rooms. The main room and outside area was PACKED. We were shepherded into the middle room which was pretty empty when we arrived but filled very quickly. Brekkie was delish and felt noticeably cheap… but maybe that’s because recently I have been on reduced caffeine….

Bircher muesli with shredded apple and yummy crunchy bits (nice sunnies Em!)

Avo, persian fetta & pepitas on toast with one SOFT poached egg

I ordered the avo on toast which perfectly hit the spot and although the serve of avo looked huge on arrival… as usual I managed to finish it all. I also had a little taste of the bircher which was outstanding. I am not normally into bircher as I find it too soggy but the addition of yummy, crunchy bits was an inspiration… A really fab start to the weekend but we were hurried out a little… first the bill came without us asking for it, and then we were politely asked to leave… Kinda annoying but there was a big queue as we left I guess…

Ticked a second northside destination off my list… I need to hurry through the rest so I can come back to this one… maybe on a weekday though…
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Just a little piece of cake…

If you read my last post you will have seen the HUGE lunch we consumed at My Mexican Cousin

After a meal like that I would normally be skipping dinner, which I thought would be easy that night as I was heading to bookclub… Unfortunately, when I got to our lovely host’s house I was a little excited by the dip… and then the cheese… and then the….. Passionfruit sponge cake bought especially from Flinders Village Cafe… Check out the size of the piece I got served… and polished off in no time…

Passionfruit Sponge Cake

DELICIOUS!

Creole with clients at My Mexican Cousin

Client entertaining at My Mexican Cousin was an interesting experience that I have been thinking about for a few days before starting this post… I was chatting about it to some friends earlier today, in this week’s episode of the Northside brunch challenge, and one of them told me about a food blogger, BurgerMary, who wrote an honest and critical review of the menu when MMC first opened. In a surprising and humble response, the powers that be at MMC hired her as a menu consultant… but then, perhaps equally surprisingly at the end of her contract, changed a bunch of her well advised revisions prompting her to once again update her story. BurgerMary obviously has deep knowledge of Creole food and seems super-qualified to comment. Reading her blog and the comments feed made me realise that I am definitely not qualified to talk specifics and origins of food and I hope when you guys read my blog you understand that it’s more like a food commentary. Experiences that I like and sometimes things that I don’t, because food and dining experience is obviously super subjective! Woot! Just wanted to make that clear!

Now back to our meal. It started a little ominously… We had called the day before to book as we were taking VERY IMPORTANT CLIENTS (…. they will like that!):

“Can we please book for five peeps at 12:30 tomorrow?”
“Nope, don’t worry about it you will be fine to get a table at 12:30 for five people.”

When we arrived, five people at 12:30, on a VERY hot afternoon the inside of the restaurant was full. The waitress looked around as she mumbled:

“Sorry, we’re pretty busy as we have a big booking coming in shortly”

Pretty annoying right? Given we had tried to book..? Anyway, we got a table outside… pretty hot… We ordered cornbread and chicken drumsticks immediately to quell what could have been a dangerous situation had Cyclone Stacey been unleashed. You know what they say about getting between a hungry woman and her food… DON’T.

Deep fried chicken drumsticks with blue cheese sauce

The chicken and blue cheese sauce was very rich and very delicious. The cornbread was equally tasty and was complimented by butter… and in my case more blue cheese sauce… We decided to order a bunch of dishes to share as the menu was quite different… As I mentioned above I have done a bit of research on MMC since we ate there, but before I knew anything about it I can tell you we were confused about where the inspiration for the menu came from (I have since seen the Creole-pedia on the website that explains more… but the website menu is not current, so some of my descriptions are based on my shaky memory). As I was eating I could taste different flavours that reminded me of Indian and Middle Eastern food. oops… Lots of pics below… because we ate A LOT and it looked very pretty!

Fried crocodile with fennel salad

Second day in a row eating crocodile… Final opinion is that it’s a cross between calamari and chicken… Doesn’t have much of it’s own flavour so it relies on good flavour additions to the dish.

Empanada style pie filled with pumpkin, and spices on zucchini mash

This “Jamaican Hand Pie” was FABULOUS! Maybe my favourite dish! Just such tasty vego flavours. The fried soft shell crab worked well with watermelon and chilli salad that you can’t see hidden underneath.

Soft-shell crab with watermelon salad

We ordered two serves of the beef ribs (slow cooked for 48 hours and then flash fried) and the creole chicken for main, perfectly accompanied by creole rice and a butter lettuce, candied pecan & goats cheese salad.

slow cooked beef short rib with red cabbage coleslaw

Creole chicken

Creole rice

You are now beginning to understand that this particular lunch gang are all good eaters right…? Now check out the desserts we shared! The pastry-doughnut things were out of this world!!!! Oh God… I almost had to lick the salted chocolate dish clean… almost, but thankfully regained my composure before embarrassing my colleagues..

Creme brulee with nuts and caramelised banana bits

Dark chocolate mousse with pulped orange, raspberry coulis & cream

Pastry, doughnut-thingys with salted chocolate & chantilly cream

Overall my MMC experience was excellent! Even though we had a little hiccup with booking in the beginning, and sat out in the heat, the food trumped all. It was really, really rich and as you can see by how many times I have written “fried” unlikely to rate well in a weight watchers survey… But I really, really enjoyed it and would def go back for more creole “influenced” food when I need a rich lunch (and no dinner)…
My Mexican Cousin on Urbanspoon

Friday feasting in South Melbourne…

Another good day to work in South Melbourne… I started my day with an early morning spin class at South Melbourne Rec. A very positive move from someone intending to eat out for both breakfast and lunch… a negative move in fashion stakes though… So annoying having to plan your outfit the night before… especially when you have a bit of a late one… So I ended up heading to breakfast looking super cool in a pair of denim knee-length jeans (?!?), two sizes too small… dammit! And also no jacket, on a morning where autumn was well and truly showing her presence… double dammit…

First up, a breakfast meeting at St Ali. First we had to do a quick drive-by Freshwater Place to pick up one of the attendees…. That shows the love we have for St Ali… that we would do a round trip to pick up and drop off our buddy to eat a quick brekkie. Had a great gossip session over a couple of yoghurt boards and Stacey’s breakfast antipasto – A made-up breakfast of sides with seemingly no central focus but when combined it made perfect sense…. Similar to our conversations really….

Yoghurt, chunky muesli & poached plums

This was a case of me ordering light as I knew I was out for lunch later that day. Pretty tasty light brekkie but it’s hard to go to St Ali and not eat My Mexican Cousin…. mmmmmm…. must eat corn fritters…
St Ali on Urbanspoon

Lunchtime was another girls gossip session… Obviously in between the gossip, we had some serious work discussions too right…? FUN! The weather had improved drastically since the morning and it was actually too hot to walk to Lamaro’s from Clarendon St. I have already written about Lamaro’s on my blog but I just love eating and telling you about it so I figured since it’s so delish, it worthy of a second story. Also I ate very different dishes this time. We shared the tasting plate between three. It was HUGE! On the menu it says “a seasonal selection of tasty morsels for the land, sea and garden”. No kidding!

The incredible tasting plate

Let’s play spotto from the top: I can see quick fried prawns, goats chess fritters, salami, prosciutto, marinated mushrooms, pickled onions, gherkins, mini toasts, olives, relish, pate, rillette, beetroot salad and…. PORK BELLY!!!! wahooo!! Seriously impressive! And easily enough for the three of us!… ooh I forgot breadsticks too! ha!

For mains it was nearly three for three on the raviolo special. Pumpkin filled and topped with burnt butter sauce, walnuts and chives but Lise couldn’t go past the parma… An old favourite. I sensed a minor case of food envy on her part. I also forgot to take pics before we had hoed in too much… Oops. But I did take dessert pics of Jocks sorbets and the yummy chocolate fondant.
Lamaro's on Urbanspoon

Great day… great, great day! and for dinner… peanuts and rose… Woot!!

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Family fun at the chocolate warehouse…

Another fabulous family field day. I call it a field day as it meant another trek across the river to East Brunswick… It is so so far… I mean I get to Victoria St and I figure I must be there already and it’s not even half way! Dammit and obviously I am already late by this stage… oops! My wonderful aunt (who lives in East Brunswick… (I wonder who chose the venue huh?) and my cousin who traveled from Perth (yes okay she wins!) were waiting… hungry! We had scheduled brunch for 12 noon as I had a wedding the day before and was worried I wouldn’t be feeling so great…. Turns out I was actually okay, unfortunately my sister visiting from London, was not so lucky and became the “bad niece” as she was so ill she was banned from my car and therefore never even made it for brunch… ha!

So, I eventually arrived at L’atelier de Monsieur Truffe AKA The Warehouse of Mr Nose (?!) according to Google. HAHA! A big open space, a chocolate warehouse, entered through a cool red door on Lygon St. I didn’t immediately see the ladies and therefore made it all the way through to the front (back) counter and chocolate retail space… Woot! I knew I would be back for some take-away choccie before I left! Anyway, I found the fam and Auntie Chrissie mentioned pork belly as soon as I sat down… She must have known my pork belly after noon rule… I had decided before I had even looked at the menu…

pork belly roll, with mango, coriander, & thinly sliced chilli

Mozzarella salad with rocket, pear & hazelnut

Both Auntie and myself had the pork belly. Lots of bread but delicious and rich, with the herbs, fruit and chilli cutting through the fat of the belly… YUM! Lil cuz had the mozzarella salad which was equally pretty but definitely not as filling. Lucky Auntie was so generous with her brunch as I definitely wasn’t.

Four and a half fabulous hours of conversation, and 3 bags of chocolate treats (including a little box for “bad niece”) later… I was en route back to East St Kilda, thinking how incredibly lucky I am to have such a great family!

L'atelier by Monsieur Truffe on Urbanspoon

A Summer Stokehouse Wedding…

Can I write a blog entry about a close friend’s wedding? God yeah, if it was as perfect as yesterday’s event was.

I know I said this was about a summer wedding… and it is actually March but wow, did Mother Nature turn it up for Soph and Andy’s evening… and the rest of us, as we sipped french champagne on the balcony, watching the evening sun sparkle on the water.

bubbles on the balcony

You couldn’t really ask for a better start to the evening than canapés and bubbles on the Stokehouse Upstairs balcony. Or my other favourite thing about a Stokehouse wedding, less weather dependent… essentially an a la carte menu and an excellent selection of wines to choose from…. mmmm yum! PLUS (but wait there more) an awesome group of peeps to celebrate the beginning of this marriage in style… Some pretty entrees for you. My beautiful ceviche… delightfully bright, in both appearance and taste… and my friend George Farquarson’s sweet venison…

Kingfish ceviche, salted grapes, flying fish roe, sunflower seeds, zucchini & chardonnay vinaigrette

Cured venison, plum marmalade, horseradish, almonds & elderflower jelly

A choice of four mains… my choice the lamb; cooked three ways, roasted rack, slow cooked neck and fried sweetbreads (for the second time in my life)… A very rich meal that I matched most excellently with more bubbles… Normally at a wedding I get a bit distracted by the time the main comes out but this time I was extremely focussed on my meal… and the meal of the person on my right… Had to try the beef right?!

Boneless rack of lamb, slow cooked neck, sweetbreads, cucumber pickle & mustard apple soubise

220g Angus beef served with oyster mushrooms, charred baby onion & green olive butter

Wowee what a beautiful meal, a beautiful view, a beautiful bride… Just beautiful!
Stokehouse (Upstairs) on Urbanspoon

A GAStronomical start to the day in South Melbourne

There are a lot of good things about working in South Melbourne. Food choice being at the top of my list, particularly brekkie choices. If I go out for brekkie it’s rare that I would go past some kind of hot dish with eggs. My feeling is, if it’s cold, it’s pretty easy to do myself. There is one exception that I go back to time and time again…. The muesli at GAS on Coventry St South Melbourne. I am not going to say it’s the best in Melbourne as I cannot claim to have tried them all (and have heard the muesli at Pope Joan is to die for) but in my muesli realm it is definitely the best yet. I am talking about the roasted muesli of course.. And although this dish is essentially a cereal, I think it would be difficult to claim a low fat tag…. I could be wrong but his stuff tastes far too good to be healthy!

On this particular morning, a work friend and I were just going to grab an energy boosting bite to eat before a three hour meeting. We went to GAS but we were trying to be healthy so we ordered away from our standard roasted muesli with greek yogurt and two serves of rhubarb and instead ordered a similar, seasonal speciality… the mango cheeks with rhubarb, pomegranate and greek yoghurt…

Mango cheeks, rhubarb, pomegranate and a special side dish

Notice anything..??

We just couldn’t go a brekkie at GAS without the muesli and asked if we could get a little on the side…. hahaha!
Gas Eatery & Supplies on Urbanspoon