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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!

Fitzrovia on Urbanspoon

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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

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Rockpool & Ecco – Another double-double

So… in the week I decide to start a food diary (and not the fun kind like this), I have bookclub (uh oh cheese platter and cupcakes) and a double dining-out Friday with a work lunch and a friend’s birthday dinner. Probably not the best start to “seeing what I eat” or, on the otherhand, maybe a required dose of reality…

Lat’s talk about Friday then… Lunch was originally planned for Golden Fields, the setting of one of my best meals of 2011, I was stoked but it was then moved to South Bank, for convenience of attendees. I was also stoked with the new destination of Rockpool as I had never been in all my time in Melbourne. I am not sure why, I have been to plenty of work lunches in Crown Casino but maybe this restaurant slightly pushes the price barriers… Except for very special peeps obviously, which I mustn’t have been in my past job. Ha!

The restaurant is very grand and we sat, a table of eight, around a square table in super comfy chairs. I have always been a fan of square dining tables and the open conversations they encourage. Our napkins were placed in our laps and at first, I thought we had an alternating colour scheme going with black & white, until we realised that the service is so attentive, that you get a black napkin if you are wearing dark clothing to avoid whatever miniscule white flecks could be left behind. WOW!

The menu choice was huge. I struggled as I always do with big menus and the thought “what if we don’t come back” but also with the fact I was heading out for dinner that night… Where? I didn’t know, so trying to balance the day’s eating was a trying task. I settled on a fish crudo (basically sashimi) with horseradish, corainder, finger limes and drizzled with lemon flavoured oil. Lovely and light. And for main I had the fillet steak with Bernaise sauce, cooked rare (I had my fingers crossed for pasta on the menu later in the evening). How could I not have a steak at Rockpool really?! Around the table I saw, some other fabulous meals. Work lunch ettiquette is such, that you can’t actually just taste everyone’s food, much to my disappointment. I did however have a good friend in attendance and happily sitting right next to me. Woot! Therefore I can comment on a few other dishes and the confit duck with apple balsamic and mango (you will see it doesn’t look that pretty) was super delish. I had been told that the sides as Rockpool are almost as famous as the steaks and we were not disspointed. The roasted sweet potato and pumpkin with burnt butter was incredible, and therefore sat right near my plate for most of lunch. The baby kipflers cooked in waygu fat?…. drooling now as I write! 

Crudo of Ocean Trout, Yellow Fin Tuna & Coorong Yellow Eyed Mullet
Duck Confit with Grilled Mango & Apple Balsamic

Dessert time and I declined… sort of… Only on the proviso I could have a little nibble of my friendly neighbour’s…. dessert that is. A devil’s food cupcake. CUTE! We also ordered some cheese and coffees for the table… but I am pretty sure there was more ‘want’ for another bottle of fabulous NZ pinot noir… And we may have followed lunch with a little drinkie at The Waiting Room, a new bar, also in the Neil Perry portfolio, also in Crown. It is still February though, and I am still not drinking, so I just had ANOTHER mineral water…

Devil's Food Cupcake with mascarpone icing
Three cheese platter - goats, brie & blue
Pimms & dry at The Waiting Room AND Stacey's hand!

Rockpool Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

A quick stop back at the office to pick up my car (a definite benefit of FebFast) and I was on my way to pick up Ben and go to our next destination, which I still didn’t know and was still hoping would involve pasta. Turns out we were meant to be going to George Clombaris’ new greek/italian restaurant Mama Baba but it was booked out (I was relieved given I am booked in for a VERY romantic dinner there on Valentine’s Tuesday). We ended up at Ecco da nicolini on Toorak Rd in South Yarra. A group of six of us, and this place is a favourite of four. A good sign. And it was PACKED. For good reason. What a lovely little dinner we had. And again, I wasn’t the only non-drinker. This time we had another pregnant friend, with two weeks till pop-date, and the sober (grumpy), father-to-be, who is not enjoying the heavy beer ban in the case of sudden hospital run required. Here are some pics of the ensuing meal, minus dessert because I forgot again until it was too late! But I can tell you the sticky fig pudding and panna cotta were fab!

Antipasto platter
Capricciosa pizza
Housemade gnocchi baked in a creamy napoli sauce with bocconcini

Moral of the story, do not start a food diary (the boring kind)…… EVER!

Ecco on Urbanspoon

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A Happy Hen at The Argo

It’s February and I am four days sober…. I feel great but had my first real challenge today with a beautiful friend’s hens day… Wow, that sounds like the start of an AA meeting… I am being overly dramatic… I can still have fun without drinking obviously… I am choosing to ignore the other non-drinker for the day (who apparently thinks being pregnant is a better excuse) who told me: “you are boring when you don’t drink! Now who am I going to laugh at?” Well, I can think of a few… Just sayin’

Anyway, anyway…. Back to The Argo. What a great lunch was had! Super value too and really good service. An example, the paid-for drinks time was about to expire and after giving us a 20 minute warning, rather than just letting if go if we hadn’t gone up to the bar to re-fill, the guys came around and filled up everyone’s glasses one last time.

We sat in the wine pod, a room with walls of wine racks filled with stock bottles (not at all tempting for one on Febfast…. Lucky I saw the cameras before anyone did anything silly) We had a three course set menu with two different pizzas and a salad for entree, a choice of three mains for lunch and churros (spanish doughnuts) with chocolate dipping sauce for dessert.

The beautiful hen with her first drink
Salmon accompanied by shoestring fries and salad... I might have eaten a sweet pea or two
asparagus, fontina & pea risotto

Key out-take for the day. Highly recommend The Argo for functions. They have a few other spaces too in case you think temptation might be too great in the wine pod. Another key out-take… I am definitely more fun when I have a champagne or two at hens days… Shame I have another one and an engagement party this month…

The Argo on Urbanspoon