The Super Six at Ocha…

I had heard a lot about this local gem of a restaurant Ocha, in it’s old form in Kew. Now in a shiny new premises on Barker’s Rd Hawthorn, I organised a gang together to do the monthy Mon night degustation. This normally occurs on the last Monday of each month and consists of a 10 course menu at $120 per head. Unfortunately for us, we scheduled in a month where a famous noodle chef decided to visit from Japan and the degustation night got moved to a date we were unable to attend. So rather than reschedule a whole month away, we decided to make the most of the very reasonable $7 per head BYO policy on the Friday night instead.

The menu was very long, so many choices, don’t want to stuff up! So, as per my preferred way of ordering, we let the staff take control. We thought this would deliver the best degustation experience without actually having to spend $120 per head… pretty smart right? Here is a selection of what we ate… Yep, we were very hungry…

Japanese meatball

wasabi infused salmon tartare on homemade potato crisp with flying fish roe

Crunchy prawn dumpling served with green tea salt

Grilled scallop in its shell with Ocha’s hollandaise sauce

Crunchy calamari “legs“ tossed with fresh chilli and garlic

Pork belly special

Sushi & sashimi platter with soft shell crab rolls

Miso marinated black cod, grilled and served on salad

“Would you like dessert?”

Silly question really… The dessert menu is definitely worth a look, once again there are lots of choices! We went with this super crispy banana fritter and a perfect “ooey, gooey, chocolate pudding”.

deep fried crunchy rice flake covered banana with chocolate sauce & green tea icecream

One side of the table also had free entertainment as we watched the SUPER AWKWARD action of a new couple (arguably a first date) unfold. A seriously over the top date, with both participants dressed to the nines, with perfect ringlets and dripping in jewellery. He even reached across and kissed her hand over their meals. Cute right? Or gross! Ha!

One thing we hadn’t accounted for on this Friday night was just how thirsty we would actually be. We brought along 3 bottles of wine but the boys decided it was premium japanese beer night and proceeded to drink 10 steins between them… I am not bringing this up to shame them, us girls ordered at least another bottle (and I think a couple of glasses) of delicious german reisling, but rather to explain the size of the bill; it equated to $125 per person which shocked us until we delved a little deeper into our hydration habits. We were certainly satisfied though by the amount and the quality of food.

I was unsatisfied the next morning however, when I woke up with a humungous hangover, only to be informed by smartypants Ben, that German reisling has a higher sulphur level than most white wines, and should really be drunk in moderation (like all wines obviously)… I informed Ben right back, that this information would have been super handy to have accompanied his wine reccomendations (all German reislings) at the time, the night before…
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Grand Prix lunch at Ichi Ni

Another family Sunday lunch and another VERY hungover sister of mine… I have clearly, finally, grown into my role as the mature, intelligent and beautiful older sister… It was the first weekend both sisters were in Melbourne for at least 2 years… Big occasion and one sister had never met the other sister’s boyfriend (of four years)… Wow! Plus the wonderful Aunt Chrissie was in attendance. SO many family catch-ups, so much fun! It’s like we are in training for Family Xmas (a tri-yearly event that moves around the country to each of my father’s siblings state of abode)… This year Victoria. Lookout!

We started with some nibbles:

Endamame

I picked Ichi Ni for this particular Sunday lunch, having seen the weather and with the hope to catch a few rays in the awesome front courtyard. It is also my favourite Jap Jap restaurant. Awesome food, location and ambience, whether you sit inside or out! I totally forgot the Grand Prix track is just around the corner and Sunday was the big day… oops. Bad for traffic but frikkin cool for airshows right? ha! I also hadn’t been to Ichi Ni for a while and was certainly craving some ebi mayo….yyuuummmm… BEST PRAWNS IN MELBOURNE!

The incredible, amazing ichni ni ebi mayo

I did think we would be sharing a few bottles of wine over our lunch, however littlest sister’s hangover brought the party mood down somewhat… We did sample a rice beer, a soy beer and a glass of crisp australian reisling for me…. the perfect accompaniment to the following feast…

The LARGE sushi and sashimi platter - art on a platter

Soft shell crab roll

Spicy Dragon Roll

Littlest sister’s state was not improving and the raw fish array, which was fabulous, was probably not helping her cause….

sick sister

Another lemonade and a serve of deep fried chicken and she seemed on the up by the time we had finished our fab family fun lunch…

Tori Kara - deep fried marinated chicken.. for the sick little one

After a great lunch, the perfect combination of fresh and fried, we took a stroll along the St Kilda foreshore, we checked out the markets and most randomly… we took a quick ride on the scenic railway at Luna Park… MUCH SCARIER than I remember… haha
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Seafood delight at the Waterfront

Social Saturday part 3…

After pilates, a 3 course Eurotrash lunch at Caffe e Cucina and a stinking hot engagement party in the late afternoon sun, it was back in the car to Waterfront at Station Pier, Port Melbourne… I considered a Red Bull…. Anyway, we wouldn’t normally do family dinner at such a flashy restaurant but with a super special guest in town (my aunt from the UK), not to mention my Canberrian sister and boyfriend, it seemed a good excuse to try out my parent’s local. And flashy it was! It is a HUGE restaurant, so big that when I arrived a little late from my previous engagement, and flustered after not being able to find a car park anywhere, I was unable to find my family. Even after three laps around the restaurant I actually had to call Dad to come out to the front to find me… Loser… It feels like a very ‘Sydney’ space. Not exactly intimate, but we seemed to have a small back room to ourselves. A little private function for six. A spectacular room over the water, with never-ending horizons due to some cleverly placed mirrors. I would definitely request this room if you can!

A magnificent view from the dinner table

Waterfront is known to be pretty exy so expect to spend over $100 a head for 2-3 courses and wine. We had great service and the food looked very pretty when it arrived. The menu is seafood focused with asian influence. For my second three course meal of the day, I decided on an entree of scallops with duck breast and a light, steamed barramundi for main. I also shared a number of tastes around the table. The 14 hour cooked pork belly was pretty spesh!

Seared scallops, smoked duck breast & cauliflower puree

14 hour cooked pork belly with scallop, a beetroot crisp & apple puree

Whole Snapper with caper butter & roasted chat potatoes

Seared snapper fillets with spinach, asian mushrooms & pureed jerusalem artichoke

The standout dish of the night was the paella for two. Though, I would have thought you could easily share it between three! It was deliciously flavoured with just the right amount of heat (spice) and most importantly, the thing that commonly ruins a paella for me, just enough saffron to colour the dish, as opposed to take over the flavour.

Seafood paella for two

I can’t ever go past a Bombe Alaska on the dessert menu and this one looked beautiful… I ate most of it as nobody else actually wanted dessert… though they consented to me ordering one for the table. It maybe tasted a little artificial but that didn’t stop me dammit!

Bombe Alaska for two

We had a great night! Be prepared to pay a lot which is harder to justify these days with so much GREAT competition out there but the ambience of the back room really made it.

Perfect for a special event night if you know what I mean…

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Euro-trash at Caffe e Cucina

Saturday just gone proved to be the busiest day in my social calendar this year… probably last year too. I am still exhausted and once again there wasn’t even a drop of alcohol consumed.

It started with pilates… probably not really intensive enough for the day of eating ahead….

Next off the cards; a hens day of a very special friend at Caffe e Cucina. An absolute Melbourne classic. The high standards impeccably kept since 1988!! Famous for the delicious food, the signature dish of seafood linguine cooked in a bag, or to be correct Linguine Di Mare Al Cartoccio… also the calamari is pretty damn good and pretty damn famous… But mostly famous for the charming, and ridiculously flirtatious waiters: “Ciao Bella” anyone? Our lunch was upstairs, we had the whole space and the girls didn’t need to add much to the authentic ambience. There was a piece of biscotti at each place-setting and when the bride-to-be arrived in a SUPER GLAM gold sequined dress, huge white belt and matching huge white sunnies, the Eurotrash theme (to commemorate the place of engagement in beautiful Positano) became apparent.

We had a 3 course set menu that included Prosecco on arrival and a choice of four italian wines (two red and two white) poured for the remainder of the lunch… I abstained…. LONGEST FEBRUARY EVER! I love a set menu with choice and this one had plenty. A choice of three entrees and four mains. The mains were accompanied by mixed salad and italian potato chips AKA shoestring fries. For dessert we shared a chefs selection, which for our particular lunch included tiramisu, pannacotta, chocolate mousse & lemon filled profiterols. Here are a couple of photographic highlights:

Calamari Sant’Andrea

Carpaccio di Manzo

Linguine Di Mare Al Cartoccio

I left the lunch very, very full! The girls all headed to the Royal Saxon for no doubt a bunch more drinks and I headed to a garden party celebrating a long-time coming engagement… I thought the couple had been going out for ten years but we were corrected in the speeches (by the groom) that it was actually only nine.. riiiggghhht… It was a pleasant?! 38 degrees on this fine Melbourne day… I started to complain about the heat, as I drank my 18th water for the day in the shade, until I had a look around at my friends, and their very pregnant bellies… and shut my mouth! At least I was in good non-drinking company! After a couple of hours of chatting in the shade, watching the children jumping in and out of the pool (and no doubt all wishing we were “the children” again) and I was off to my final event for the day… a farewell family dinner for my aunt who is sadly (for us and her) heading back to the UK winter…. Dinner story will be told in the next post because I am EXHAUSTED!

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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 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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