Chilli time at Chin Chin…

Another dunch at another no-bookings restaurant… Dunch is a 3pm Friday lunch that allows us to get into the super popular restaurants and means we don’t have to go back to work!

Finally Frank goes to Chin Chin!

With the Friday lunch gang who survived the habenero chilli incident at Mamasita we were looking forward to more hot dishes ahead of us. The restaurant was absolutely packed. Even at 3pm. According to the waitress Chin Chin is actually packed from the minute it opens until the minute it closes every day. I believe her. Unlike our Mamasita experience we were not even slightly rushed through our meal. We sat at our table until 7pm stuffing ourselves with the ‘feed me’ menu (highly recommended but make sure you are hungry!)

A cocktail on a arrival… Do it!

Kingfish Sashimi with lime, chilli, coconut and thai basil

The papaya salad was really hot! We thought we could handle it and to our credit no one ordered milk but it was def the hottest dish of the day. The girls needed a ciggie break after this one just to calm the palate…?

Spicy hot green papaya salad with chargrilled red chilli, prawn floss and peanuts

Organic pork satay with cucumber, pineapple, crushed peanuts and 3 flavour sauce

Crispy skin duck with pickled cucumber and ginger salad and sesame salt and fresh lemon

Organic silken tofu salad with thai basil and hot, sweet, bitter dressing

The tofu was my favourite dish. Fried tofu is one of my favourite things ever and in combination with chilli and the dressing it was an absolute winner.

Massaman Curry – Hopkins River braised beef brisket with pink fir apple potatoes and crispy shallots

This was the first time I have tried Massaman curry. Another one of those times I wonder why the hell it took me so long. I have had it at least three times since!

Palm sugar ice-cream sundae with salted honeycomb and lime syrup

An obligatory dessert of course. YUM! We actually had two desserts the sundae above and the grilled banana roti bread with condensed milk and cinnamon sugar which was sensational but looked pretty average in my photo so just trust me, It’s a must-order. Now you understand why you need to be hungry to order ‘feed me’in fact, I think there was meant to be another course but we just couldn’t fit it in and still have room for dessert.

Chin Chin was every bit as good as the hype! I hate waiting for restaurants but I probably would wait in the cool downstairs bar for this one…. Or go again for Friday dunch of course.

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A little snack at Little Press…

A well needed break on an evening dedicated to wedding stuff… in between a meeting with the chef and a meeting with the photographer there was an hour or so to spare. As we were on the edge of the city, walking right past the Press Club, we thought a snack and a glass of wine… or three, was in order. Little Press & Cellar is adjacent to The Press Club and is a cosy, intimate space to share some small, tapas-style food. They also have a very cool little function space, seats about 14, with a range of set menus to suit different price ranges… I now just need to work out the right function to have down there… That being said, I just went to the website and it looks like they are re-doing the fit-out as we speak so this could well have changed by the next time we visit.

Here are a few of our shared bites. Very bad photography from me on this evening but the lighting is not really suited to iPhone photos.

Kataifi prawn, attiki honey, smoked almond, coriander – THESE ARE INCREDIBLE

Slow cooked octopus, oyster mayonnaise, pickled daikon

Cabbage and fennel slaw, pomegranate

Slow cooked lamb ribs, orange pomegranate glaze

Dish of the night was the prawns, almost knocking Ichi ni’s ebi mayo off the top spot for best prawns in Melbourne. So close! The lamb ribs were sensational too and complimented nicely by the salads. The bill was slightly exy at the end of the meal but not too surprising to dissuade me from returning again for a little nibble.
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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!

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!
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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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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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