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Brunch with a bridesmaid… in Beechworth

We woke up after a wonderful winery wedding in Beechworth with a few sore heads. Lunch didn’t start until 1pm but food was required immediately so we headed up the main st of Beechworth for some brunch. Beeline for the Beechworth Bakery… but were scared away by the crowds and found the Beechworth Pantry. I was pretty keen on a pie and decided it was perfectly acceptable to eat a pie for brekkie (brunch?) when you have a sore head.. So I did… and it was excellent!

Chicken and vegie pie

And then obviously, as per my rule: every meal needs dessert, I just had to try this tangy, raspberry, meringue, cream deliciousness of dessert and will drive 3 1/2 hours again just to eat another piece… definitely!

INCREDIBLE raspberry cakey thing.... I wish I could remember the name of it!!
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Suntime, funtimes at Fitzrovia…

Fitzrovia is a lovely little spot for lunch on my favourite food street in Melbourne; Fitzroy St, St Kilda. On this occasion; a ladies (work) lunch, the location was key, as work seemed to be super busy for all involved and we needed a central point… Plus I was totally bored of South Melbourne (a silly thing to say really given how many places I haven’t actually been to)… The sun was out, trying desperately to throw some heat our way as April pushed back, reminding us when we sat in the shade in our singlet tops, that it was actually autumn…

The menu had me drooling! There were a LOT of things I wanted to try… I was hoping to have a taste of four great meals. I had to settle with three great meals as Debs had Greek fasting which meant no meat, no dairy… and a strange order of toast with jam and roasted tomatoes… I gave that one a miss. The girls ordered special healthy juices which looked pretty delish but I would recommend also ordering some ice.

Smoked ocean trout with fennel, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, toasted quinoa, white bean hummus and poached egg
House made fish cakes with wakame tartare sauce and Asian pickled cucumber salad
Shaw River buffalo mozzarella and organic truss tomato salad with fresh basil and lemon oil plus ham

My salad was amazing but I was glad I added ham (prosciutto) to make it a little more filling for my lunch. From the little tastes I had of the girls’ lunches I will definitely be returning for a full plate of fish cakes or the trout salad when I want a light lunch. Or how bout this? My dream sandwich!

Otway free range pulled pork shoulder ploughman’s, with Pyengana cheddar, Scotch quail’s egg, sourdough bread and an apple, sour cherry and fennel chutney

Definitely got a few reasons to go back, not to mention the daily changing specials and the completely different dinner menu. Lucky me it’s so local!

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Date night at Bistro Thierry

A relationship-saving ‘date night’ at Bistro Thierry as harvest draws to a close 😉 Okay, that is probably a bit drastic… but it was certainly nice for Ben and I to have a night out together at a lovely restaurant where we both got a little dressed up and Benny spoke in French all night… to the waiter…. dammit!

I find it pretty hard to go past a steak tartare when in a french restaurant, but as this ended up being the second french restaurant in a week and I had already had a decent crack at 250g of raw meat, I thought a tuna tartare would be a better… And look how pretty it looked.

Tuna Tartare with avo, radish & sesame

I had a small problem with the menu this particular night. I just wanted to eat all the entrées… I couldn’t go past the quail special but figured as long as we ordered a side of pommes frites it would be fine… and it was… OMG, the french fries were fantastic…

Quail entrées with richest sauce ever

We finished the night off with a brilliant creme brulee… a big cracking crunch!

Bistro Thierry is the perfect local date night restaurant, especially if you like chatting in french… with the waiters…

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French Felix fun in sunny Sydney…

Another wedding… another plane trip… this time to Sydney… The wedding was actually on the NSW Central Coast however Ben was doing a wine event at Ivy Bar on the evening before so I also flew in for a little wine tasting… or so I thought… ‘little’ would be the wrong word to describe the HUGE event Merivale put on with over 700 peeps tasting wine from a number of regions around the country… the problem was that it was so bloody busy that Ben had no time to talk to me and the other folks that I knew didn’t arrive until 8:30pm… I arrived at 6:30pm… uh oh… I’m assuming you can guess what happened… I tried to disguise my slipping sobriety by writing tasting notes as I ticked off each winery on what I called Frank’s Australian Riesling Tour… As the crowd dwindled, it occurred to me I should put some food into my tummy to try to soak up some of the riesling… The next day was going to be busy (and filled with Ben’s family) and the last thing I needed was a hangover! 

We traipsed downstairs to Felix Bar & Bistro and sat on one of the ‘laneway’ tables. Ben ordered more wine… and more wine… and I ordered a bottle of mineral water – sparkling! We feasted french style…. three course of course… starting with my favourite french dish – steak tartare…

Steak Tartare
Old fashioned seafood cocktail
Beetroot and goats cheese salad

For main I order the spatchcock. It was super simple and perfectly accompanied by quite a number of french fries.

Spatchcock with iceberg lettuce & lemon

For dessert we shared profiteroles and the bombe alaska…

Profiteroles

We crashed into bed close to midnight, fed and watered (especially me) and awoke to clear heads for the sunny, special wedding day ahead of us!

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South Melbourne lunch special…

So we have a new South Melbourne local but there is a problem… It’s so bloody good that it’s getting super busy. The place is run by a team of two behind the bar and stove…. oohh… I get it now… Stove Monkey… Suddenly the name makes sense but I think they may need to be hiring another Stove Monkey soon to keep up with demand… There aren’t that many lunch spots in South Melbourne where you have to queue: the market dim sims…. and Origami Japanese but this is going to be the latest methinks…

They do a few sandwiches and a couple of soups that you can have eat-in or take-away. They are brilliant sandwiches and soups too… peeps in the office start calling from 11am to find out what’s on for the day but in my opinion the two absolute winning dishes that you must have if you have time to eat-in are the cuttlefish & calamari spicy tabbouleh salad and/or the fried chicken on coleslaw with a crispy fried egg… What does a crispy fried egg taste like? Try it… It’s definitely worth it!

calamari & cuttlefish on spicy tabbouleh
Pork Belly Ciabatta
chicken with coleslaw and crispy fried egg

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A homemade starfish – dessert…

Check out this incredible dessert mum created with some figs, mascarpone mix (lemon zest, honey & limoncello) and roasted pistachios sprinkled on top…

Mum's starfish dessert
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An Apple-Isle Brekkie…

After a long day (I believe we fell into bed at 10:30pm after a 6:15am start) at “the Tassie social event of the year’… We were up and ready for a re-fuel before the flight home. On advice from a Tassie local we walked 1.8km (according to googlemaps) to our destination; Stillwater, located in a super old mill on the banks of the Tamar River. One step in the door and I knew we were going to have a good meal… I was almost disappointed that we were there for brekkie, but I made sure to order a dish that transgressed into lunch… The very intriguing sounding eggs en cocotte: eggs with smoked ham hock, green pea purée, du puy lentils, crispy ham & ciabatta soldiers… totes equals perfect brunch!

Eggs en Cocotte
Eggs en cocote - up close

 My vegetarian dining buddy asked me a fair question:

“why do you always have to order the weirdest thing on the menu?”

I don’t know the answer, it’s just something in me but since she had ordered the other potential brekkie for me; Going Vegetarian, I was pretty happy. The addition of halloumi to breakfast was a masterpiece…. Even non-vegetarians should consider this dish, just add a side of salmon, bacon or ham and you are set.

Going Vegetarian

Finally the man of the gang, and what a gang we were after sharing a small hotel room between the four of us, ordered the Big Tasmanian Breakfast… The obvious choice for the size of his hangover.

Big Tasmanian Breakfast

Definitely a place to return for lunch or a weekend dinner on our next visit to Lonnie.

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A Wedding Feast at the Leaning Church Vineyard…

A beautiful Tassie wedding, Launceston-side… The ceremony was in Lonnie, at a church opposite the hotel we were staying at… THANK GOD! Our plane was delayed one hour… meaning we were getting into our cab at Launceston airport at 10:15am… The wedding started at 11:00am… The plane was a split crowd… with half going to the V8s; the biggest annual sporting (bogan) event in Lonnie and the other half attending the Taylor wedding; Tassie’s biggest social event of the calendar year… The fog delay meaning that the wedding half were hastily applying make-up mid-flight… pretty funny start to the day!

We jumped into our pew, once we had dumped bags and thrown on dresses, with 5 minutes to spare. The ceremony was stunning!

A scenic coach trip later and we arrived at the Leaning Church Vineyard for the reception. The marquee was perched on the bank of a dam with rows of vines lining the hills behind. A white picket fence separated us from the ducks. The perfect setting for a long lunch…

a pretty place setting

And lunch we did with a four course menu made up of 3 of my favourite things… ducks, lambies and PORK of course… plus an amazing dessert bar that I don’t have pics of because I’d had a few glasses of the local bubbly….. and cheese… and ham… and other dinner delicacies that I also can’t remember because the bubbly was so effective… and delicious…

shredded duck, cucumber & plum sauce
peking wraps
plum sauce
pork belly - check the crackle!
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Friday Dunch at Mamasita…

Finally after three cancellations this lunch went ahead… but not without a few hiccups… We turned it into a dunch as work kept getting in the way and dunch allowed us to finish everything we needed to at the office before enjoying a serious business lunch/dinner… and a few friday froffies…. or margaritas as was the case…

We couldn’t choose between two city restaurants that don’t allow bookings; Mamasita or Chin Chins? Both have been open for over a year but the no bookings policy had kept us away… Dunch was once again the perfect solution to a no booking policy… Can’t be too many peeps that want to eat at 3:30pm…

Finally, it was time to try out the famed Mamasita… where the queues start at 5pm and snake down the street until midnight, or so I had heard… I was very late to our late lunch due to public transport issues… I hadn’t “not driven” on a Friday night for as long as I could remember… since way before Feb… so I was kinda excited and the long trip drew out this excitement further… I walked up the stairs, once I found the tiny hidden door at the top of Collins St, and was surprised by the understated-ness (is that a word?) of the room. I found the ladies at a table in the middle of the restaurant, the first round of wines nearly empty. The tables seemed close together but besides a big group of girls up near the bar, there weren’t many others in for dunch… perfect… The waitress was pretty keen to take our food orders, trying twice to rush us along before we had decided on a bottle of wine. Once we had the drinks sorted, and because we were feeling some pressure to order, we turned our food fate over to our waitress with the instructions:

Bring us your best…. and we are REALLY hungry…

If you have read a few previous posts you will know this is my preferred way of ordering as good restaurants will generally assume you don’t mind spending some cash and will deliver the best experience they can (not over-the-top in the cash department though… like you know when a sommelier up-sells you on every bottle? Now that is annoying)…

We started with the famous corn, no pics as we were starving! haha. It was good. It didn’t blow my mind but it’s corn you know? How good can it be? Here are a few pics of the rest of our meal and corresponding thoughts..

Tostaditas - de Carnitas & de Cangrejo

Little crunchy bites of goodness. De Carnitas on the left, pork shoulder, pickled jalapeno, and a little crackle on top and de Crangrejo on the right, crabmeat, avocado, cucumber and habanero… so this last ingredient is pretty interesting… It’s the tiny red sliver on top and is described in Wikipedia as:

The habanero chili is one of the more intensely piquant species of chili peppers of the capsicum genus…

I WISH THAT I KNEW THAT BEFORE I ATE IT! It was so hot… The four of us were in agony… It’s funny now to think back but at the time… it must have only spent a little time in my mouth as it only felt like it was burning a hole in one little part of my tongue as opposed to one of the ladies lips that turned bright red… the bottle of wine was quickly emptied… the girls went for a ciggie break and I had to order a glass of milk…. pretty embarrassing for us but we could have used a little warning… Luckily our next dish was a refreshing palate cleanser

Ceviche - kingfish

The restaurant was filling by now and as first thought, the tables were REALLY close together… The dishes were coming out super fast too. In fact we actually asked if we could slow the pace a little… We were beginning to understand that this was not the type of restaurant you went to for a long, leisurely, comfortable, relaxing lunch…

The rest of the dishes were pretty good but we were all very careful with any chilli that we saw…

Soft taco - chicken
Ensalada de quinoa - corn, coriander, spinach chilli & pico verde
Deep fried polenta

The deep-fried polenta was our last savoury course and was sensational. I have to say now though, as I write this and re-read the menu, I sorta wish we had tried some pulled pork but I guess this is because of my pork obsession! As per my rules, dessert was required. I had a corn ice cream cone and the ladies had margaritas

dessert = 3 margaritas & an ice cream cone with caramel popcorn

By now we could see the top of the queue we had heard so much about poking up the stairs. The pressure was on us again, with staff asking couple of times if we wanted anything else, so we decided to move to the next destination rather than stay for a couple more cocktails and let the throngs come for their mexican…

I thought the food was pretty good… the price was excellent at under $360 for the four of us with quite a few drinks… but I have to say, I don’t understand the queues, with so much good food in Melbourne, why waste hours of precious time waiting in a line on Collins St… to then be rushed through your meal in a busy, close-sitting restaurant? Dunch was the perfect way to eat Mamasita… can’t wait for Chin Chins next!

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