Spatula, Spoon and Saturday Eating & cooking all the things in Melbourne. Fri, 05 Feb 2018 08:10:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6 ANOIA Pizza & Pasta Bar, Hawthorn {Melbourne Review} /2018/02/05/anoia-pizza-and-pasta-bar-hawthorn-melbourne-review/ /2018/02/05/anoia-pizza-and-pasta-bar-hawthorn-melbourne-review/#respond Fri, 05 Feb 2018 08:10:46 +0000 /?p=4619  

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This is a love story of sorts.

Once upon a time, a girl and a boy met. They fell in love and were desperate to be together forever. So they did what most people in this situation do, they got married. Unfortunately as a part and parcel of all that, they decided that it would be a great idea to also have a baby. Fast forward a few years later, they suddenly realised,

Wait, whatever happened to date night?’ You know, that mythical night where we go out and have long dinners and talk and not want to fall asleep from exhaustion at 9pm?

Luckily though, they managed to con friends and family into this horrendous activity, that only humans would subject themselves to, babysitting. But the thing with babysitting is, it’s limited. How shall we say, too goddamn short? So they went on a journey – a journey to find good restaurants near home, that is inexpensive (because this baby thing costs a hell lot of money.)

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(Roast artichokes stuffed with goat’s cheese – $13.4)

So one day, after they put the baby to bed (well, the baby is now a child) and a sucker of a person had volunteered to babysit, they, without a lot of time to actually plan, ended up strolling around Glenferrie Rd at around 9pm on a school night wondering where to eat (which on hindsight was not the best laid plan.) They found a lovely little cozy looking pizza and pasta bar still buzzing with activities in the otherwise dead strip.

They were welcomed warmly and given the only table that was available in a smallish dining room. They could see that it was a busy night for them and could only see one floor staff and they thought it would be hard pressed to get service, but they were completely wrong (they also found out there was another dining room out back.) Their waiter was so lovely and accommodating. While the food wasn’t fast, it was a great conversational pace and they didn’t feel the food was too slow.

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(Zucca – white base, fiore di latte, roasted pumpkin, pinenuts w. rockets and goat’s cheese – $16.5)

Perfect date night and all this love aside, they were STARVING. So they decided that it would be a good idea to get two small pizzas. They, not being Italian, clearly kept forgetting that an Italian’s idea of a small pizza isn’t really small. So, of course, they also ordered a starter (roast artichoke) and a salad as a side.

BUT WAIT! Upon browsing through the sides, they noticed CHIPS. Like real, proper CHIPS, which they hadn’t had for ages. Better still, they could order chips WITH ragu. They thought,

If anything could be better than CHIPS, it was CHIPS WITH RAGU.

I could tell you on their behalf, that those chips were the best chips they had in a long time. And by god, there were a lot of them.

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(Patatine – chips w. ragu – $10.0)

The two small pizzas turned out to be quite a decent size, it was quite a meal for them. She had picked the mushroom pizza and he had picked the pumpkin pizza. She was slightly perplexed at the include of the prociutto and while they didn’t take anything away from an otherwise excellent pizza, she feels it didn’t really add to it. But she loved these mushroomy, truffle-oiled type bianco pizza anyway and this one was totally not bad at all. He absolutely loved his pumpkin pizza, especially the addition of pine nuts. They shared their pizzas, of course and came to the usual he says, she says conclusion that the pizza they each ordered was better than the other’s.

But they were both in love and they had the date night in a lovely, cozy restaurant where the food was fantastic – the pizzas were great and those chips with ragu were to die for –  the service great and the bonus of it being barely ten-minute drive from home, they vowed they would return to try out other pasta dishes which were strongly recommended by a couple of friends who lived in the area.

The sad ending to this story is, however, they hadn’t managed to go back despite their promise to each other that they would make their date nights more frequent. But such is life. And love.

Featured photo is Funghi – white base, fior di latte, field & porcini mushrooms w. thyme and truffle oil, prociutto – $18.5.

ANOIA Artisan Pizza and Pasta Bar [ web site ]
Address: 779 Glenferrie Road Hawthorn VIC 3122 
Phone: (03) 9819 2900
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 5:30pm – Late
Public Transport: Tram 16 (10m) or trains to Glenferrie Station (600m)

ANOIA Artisan Pizza & Pasta Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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January 2018 Randoms /2018/01/31/january-2018-randoms/ /2018/01/31/january-2018-randoms/#respond Sun, 31 Jan 2018 08:00:45 +0000 /?p=4631 IMG_20180101_100318

I realise I haven’t wished all my readers (hi mum!) a happy new year yet. So happy new year 2018! May this year be filled with happiness, wellness and general all around contentment.

January has been a busy month. My parents visited over the Christmas/new year period. So the one thing I have done a lot is cook Thai-style breakfasts. My parents have a tendency to eat a really heavy breakfast and a light dinner. We ate khao dom (sloppy boiled rice) with various dishes. In picture clockwise from bottom left: pla salid (crispy fried salted salid fish), pickled mustard leaves and dried prawns ‘salad’, cabbage leaves fried in fish sauce, boiled rice and a Thai style omelet which admittedly I didn’t do a very good job at making it fluffy like it should be.

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January has also been very productive gardening-wise. Our apricots fruited productively this year. But the highlight? Visiting Garden World on Springvale Rd. Their climbing garden is ah-mazing.

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Look at this! How can you not want this? Coolest garden ever. In other news, Josh bought me lots of flowers (plants): David Austen roses and orange jasmines. Love.

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The Victorian cherry season may be over but the Tasmanian cherries are still around. They are much bigger and prettier. But really, they taste nothing compared to the lovely Victorian cherries! But Tasmanian cherries are better than no cherries. I can’t wait until next year! I may have to cheat and buy American cherries winter but don’t tell anyone.

P1010755 And lastly and definitely not the least…. (will obviously follow this up with a post)

 

 

 

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Grain Asian, Hong Kong Cafe in Box Hill Round 2 {Melbourne Review} /2018/01/29/grain-asian-hong-kong-cafe-in-box-hill-round-2-melbourne-review/ /2018/01/29/grain-asian-hong-kong-cafe-in-box-hill-round-2-melbourne-review/#respond Fri, 29 Jan 2018 08:00:00 +0000 /?p=4618 P1010857

I previously wrote about Grain Asian in the Box Hill Central shopping centre. Not much has changed rather than the updated funky dining room with vintage Chinese theme and a very minor price increase on some of the menu items.

For those who haven’t read my old post about Grain Asian, it is a Hong Kong style cafe that serves the typical drinks associated with Hong Kong cafes: Hong Kong tea and coffee, lemon tea, soy milk and their all-day dishes which include fried rice, noodles, Hong Kong style roast meats (duck, char siu, crispy pork belly, soy sauce chickens), won tons and yong tau fu.

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(Tables outside in the food court area)

Be warned that most of the staff speak very little or no English at all (when I try to order something complicated, I usually flag one of the guys there whom I know speaks English well) so you will need to be pointing to the Chinese version of the menu. If I’m there with lots of people, I always make sure that they repeat the menu back to me.

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(Newly-ish renovated dining room)

I will concentrate on their breakfast menu in this post as I wrote about their all-day menu in my last post. Grain Asian has ‘breakfast sets’ – usually a selection of congee with a breakfast dim sum side dish.

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(Dried shrimp rice vermicelli rolls – around $5.XX)

My favourite breakfast dish at Grain Asian is their freshly made rice noodle rolls with fillings of choice. This is only available during breakfast hours (until 10:30am everyday except Sunday 11:00am) – they call this ‘vermicelli rolls’ even though there is nothing vermicelli like about it. The filling choices include prawns, shrimp (dried shrimps), beef, barbecued pork (char siu), vegetarian, and more.

Pictured above are dried shrimp vermicelli rolls as a result of ordering a vegetarian vermicelli rolls (!) But they were delicious nonetheless. Luckily, I’m not a vegetarian.

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(Combination congee – $5)

Their congees are alright. To be perfectly honest, it’s nothing like the beautiful, thick congee with quality meats that you get in Hong Kong. They even tasted burnt a couple of times. But as they work really well as a part of the set breakfast, I always end up ordering them. In fact, if you really want congee, Mr Kitchen up a bit does better congee (though still not great.)

My favourite congee is the combination congee which has fish cake strips, tiny beef meat balls, preserved squid and peanuts. This is also known as sampan congee. I am going to guess that it’s the Chinese sailor’s version of  pantry dishes like pasta alla puttanesca. Their pork and century egg congee seriously could do with more eggs.

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(Braised beef brisket $5)

One of the highlights I mentioned in the previous post was the beef brisket noodles. I am happy to say that they do a side dish version of this for $5. So I have been getting this as an additional side. I never finish it all at the same time, of course, but the leftover makes a great take away to have with rice and greens for lunch later. It’s a gift that keeps on giving!

instagram-grain-asian(See my Instagram feed)

A few other things that I have ordered and enjoyed: sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf (lo mai gai), barbecued pork buns, Spam & egg sandwich (Mini’s favourite), iced Ovaltine, corned beef and egg sandwich and their whole fish dishes which gives you a whole fish with rice and soup for $13. Ridiculously cheap feed!

As I’ve visited a few times, my Instagram feed has a bigger collection of photos from there.

Grain Asian (in Box Hill Central)
Address: Cnr Main & Market Streets, Box Hill VIC 3128 (opposite to Platform 3 cafe)
Phone: 03 9899 6533
Getting there by Public Transport: Train to Box Hill Station (Belgrave/Lilydale line). The cafe is in the same building as the train station.

 
Grain Asian Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Cutler & Co. Sunday Lunch {Melbourne Review} /2018/01/17/cutler-co-sunday-lunch-melbourne-review/ /2018/01/17/cutler-co-sunday-lunch-melbourne-review/#respond Sun, 17 Jan 2018 10:05:40 +0000 /?p=4587 IMG_20150305_205539

It had been a very long since we went to Cutler & Co but finally we were back! Hooray! Hooray for Cutler & Co! Talk about spoiler in the first sentence, huh? Well, I am a food blogger, not Agatha Christie.

It was a celebration of sorts, when six of us (including Mini, who was four) ended there on a Sunday afternoon. This was the second time we had Sunday lunch at Cutler & Co. The first time was for my 21st birthday. Well, one of my 21st birthdays, that is. And Mini was 6 months old at the time. With previous fine-dining-with-baby experience, which went well, I figured I would take a punt and take Mini again. What the hell, It was Sunday and more importantly Mum lent us her iPad.

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(‘Whipped cod roe and radishes’)

We got there slightly late, having found a free park (goal!) on the other end of Gertrude St. and had to walk the whole 500m to the restaurant (hey I just had major surgeries, I had an excuse to grumble every single one of those metre) I had forgotten how gorgeous the dining room was. Mum got there first and being a true tourist that she was, started taking photos and send them through the group chat that I was fortunate enough to be a part of. That was how much she admired the dining room.

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(Jamon Serrano & Padrón peppers)

So anyway the six of us sat down to longggg lunch. A kid’s menu was offered to us at $25 but I have asked her if it was okay we didn’t order anything special for her as a) Mum and I just had surgery, we would struggle with our share of the food to start with b) I wanted Mini to try all the different things that we were eating and c) she eats so ridiculously little anyway. The waiter let us know that there was no obligation to order a special meal for Mini. The one thing I have experienced was that they didn’t seem to mind having Mini there (at 6 months or 4 years) – I was quite nervous about taking a child to a fine dining restaurant but I did my best that she wasn’t disruptive and both meals went on quite wonderfully.

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(Chicken terrine, prunes & cauliflowers)

The Sunday Lunch at Cutler & Co. is a set menu at $75pp (it was that much four years ago, it still is now, amazing) with shared entrees and individual mains and desserts.

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(Stracciatella, yellow capsicum & broccoli)

The menu changes every Sunday and is based on whatever is in season at the time and you get a number of shared entrees (I have to say they are the highlights), one main each from a choice of two and one dessert each from a choice of two plus the cheese plate option.

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(Heirloom tomatoes, black olives, fennel and basil)

Between the five (plus one) of us, we had five entrees (description taken directly from the menu): Whipped cod roe and radishes’; Jamon Serrano & Padrón peppers; Chicken terrine, prunes & cauliflowers; stracciatella, yellow capsicum & broccoli; and eirloom tomatoes, black olives, fennel and basil. As I am more of a vegetable person, I have to say these blew my socks off. When a really fabulous Melbourne restaurant gives you something as simple as tomatoes, you betcha they were going to be the best damn tomatoes you’ve had in a long time! And the broccoli! Oh, the broccoli! So smokey and delicious. I also loved the radishes too.

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(Lamb tenderloin, radicchio sauce and daikon)

The jamon and Padrón peppers were really awesome. These are the peppers that have (roughly) one in ten chance of it being really spicy and the rest are mild, but flavourful. We ended up getting two spicy ones out of about ten. The spicy ones were really lovely and spicy but they did temporarily kill your taste buds. The lamb tenderloin was also amazing. It was beautifully tender and yet had the most amazing flavours. Yeah, just go. Get thee to Cutler & Co. (And I haven’t even finished the post yet)

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(Berkshire pork, cauliflower purée & chicory)

Because our entrees were so fabulous and interesting, I have to say our mains of ‘meat and veg’ became a bit boring. The pork, even though served medium, were not as tender as I’d hoped and it wasn’t well seasoned. I just found it really boring. I think all of us with the pork choice agreed. Compared to the lamb entree which blew our socks off, this was lacking somehow.

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(John Dory, chickpeas, eggplants & preserved lemon)

The other main was ‘fish and veg’ but this was slightly better. Josh and I did the usual thing of ordering both mains and switch with each other half way through (as you do.) The John Dory was better. It was well cooked, the eggplant puree had a lovely smokiness to it and it went well with the chickpeas and the caper berries. But again, compared to the entrees, it was slightly on the boring side.

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(Pistachio & cinnamon panna cotta, Sablé biscuit, strawberry)

By this time, we were quite full (and Mini was a champion at eating all the things I put in front of her – she particularly loved the jamon “Mummy! This is the best ham ever!” and the prune sauce that came with the terrine, ate a bit of a pepper that I had made sure wasn’t spicy, a bit of broccoli and cheese, radishes but wasn’t a fan of the cod roe and a bit of the John Dorry which she loved but then spent most of the time playing with the iPad until dessert was served. Deprived child. She only gets to play with a tablet when my mum is in town) but there were desserts to be had!

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(Soft chocolate, coconut sorbet, lychees & hazelnuts)

I know. It’s a tough job but someone had to do it. Because there were five of us, we got two each of the choice of the desserts and the cheese plate.

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(Ferme de Jouvence Brie, quince & lavosh)

They were smashing. Everything was really good. The cheese plate was unexpectedly the highlight. I have to admit, I never ordered a cheese plate in place of dessert before. Often, you go to one of these degustation type dinner and it’s meant to be romantic dinner for two and there are two dessert options plus cheese, the cheese gets neglected. But this time we got the cheese platter, and oh did we not regret it!

So two lessons for everyone: get thee to a Cutler & Co Sunday lunch, where the food is amazing, the service is impeccable, the atmosphere is relaxing, the lunch is long and the booze is aplenty. And get the cheese plate!

Cutler & Co. [ web site ]
Address: 55–57 Gertrude St., Fitzroy VIC 3065
Phone: (03) 9419 4888
Hours: Dinner Tuesday to Sunday from 6pm, lunch Friday & Sunday from 12pm
Public Transport: Trams 11, 86, 112 (120m)

Cutler & Co - Zomato

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Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip & Pretzel Biscuits {Recipe} /2015/05/08/peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-pretzel-biscuits/ /2015/05/08/peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-pretzel-biscuits/#respond Fri, 08 May 2015 10:00:04 +0000 /?p=4583 Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip and Pretzel Cookies

Biscuits are totally the easiest thing to make. It’s just mixing everything together (admittedly I am too impatient and I actually avoid any biscuit recipes that start with ‘cream together butter and sugar in a mixer’ or include the phrase ‘chill the dough’) and take a few minutes to bake. And let’s face it, anything freshly baked is absolutely delicious. For this reason, I never buy packet biscuits and never enjoy eating them. I just find them inferior to home made biscuits.

The one thing I recommend though, is to understand the science behind biscuit making. Creaming butter and using melted butter will give you different results, chilling dough and bypassing it will give you different results. So when you need biscuits in a hurry, you need to understand bypassing/doing certain things will result in different texture and flavours. Read this great article: ‘The Science Behind Baking Your Ideal Chocolate Chip Cookies‘ for this information.

This recipe is definitely one of my favourites. It has all the right things: peanut butter for one and the combination of salty pretzels and sweet chocolate just really does it for me. Plus it is one of those mix and bake biscuits. So you can have your first batch of these biscuits out of the oven in 20 minutes to half an hour (depending how speedy you are.)

Do yourself a favour though, don’t eat into them hot. Melted chocolate out of the oven is deadly on your tongue.

Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip and Pretzel Biscuits
Yields 24
Delicious balls of biscuits with contrasting flavours of crunchy, salty pretzels, sweet, melty chocolate and creamy peanut butter background. Addictively delicious! This recipe uses Australian Standard Measurements.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
18 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
18 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups plain flour
  2. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  3. 120 g butter
  4. 1/2 cup peanut butter (100% peanut butter from Nutshack gets my vote)
  5. 1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
  6. 1/3 cup sugar
  7. 2 large eggs
  8. 2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 tsp vanilla paste
  9. 2 cups salted pretzels
  10. 1 cup chopped eating milk or dark chocolate (or chocolate chips)
Instructions
  1. Preheat to oven to 180'c degrees.
  2. Crush pretzels by placing them in a plastic bag (zip lock or freezer bags are great) and use a rolling pin to crush them. Discard the salty bits at the bottom of the bag. Measure out 2 cups of these.
  3. Mix together flour and baking soda in a bowl. Set aside.
  4. Microwave butter and peanut butter on Medium (50%) for half to a minute. Check and stir. The butter and peanut butter do not have to be melted completely. The mixture should be soft enough to stir and just warm through but not hot. If it gets too hot to touch, leave until it cools down. If the butter mixture is too hot, the eggs will scramble when you add them.
  5. Add sugars to the butter and peanut butter mixture and whisk until combined.
  6. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.
  7. Slowly add flour mix into the butter mixture and stir to combine with a spoon (silicon is best) until all the flour mixture has gone in
  8. Fold in chocolate pieces/chips and pretzel pieces and mix until a dough is formed and the chocolate/pretzels are evenly distributed.
  9. Take a tablespoon full of the dough and form them into round balls.
  10. Place the biscuits on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  11. Bake for 8-10 minutes. The biscuits should still be soft while hot but will go crunchy once cooled so be careful not to over bake them.
Adapted from How Sweet It Is
Adapted from How Sweet It Is
Spatula, Spoon and Saturday /
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Easiest Honey and Soy Chicken Wings {Speedy Recipe} /2015/04/24/easiest-honey-soy-chicken-wings-speedy-recipe/ /2015/04/24/easiest-honey-soy-chicken-wings-speedy-recipe/#respond Fri, 24 Apr 2015 10:00:37 +0000 /?p=4572 Soy and Honey Chicken Wings

This is it. This is the ultimate easy recipe. It’s extremely versatile – for party as finger food (kids and adults absolutely love them,) cold for kid’s (and adult’s) lunchboxes, eaten hot with salad and rice for dinner, turn into sandwiches for lunch. So cheap and easy. Three ingredients. What else do you need?

Soy and Honey Chicken Wings

Honey and Soy Chicken Wings
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Ingredients
  1. 20 chicken drummettes and wingettes
  2. 4 tbsp soy sauce
  3. 3 tbsp honey
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200'c degrees
  2. Marinate the chicken wings in soy sauce, ensure even coating on all wings for 10 minutes (up to 3 hours)
  3. Spread out the wings (including the soy sauce) in a single layer in baking tray(s) that have been lined with baking paper to make cleaning up easy.
  4. Pour honey in fine drizzles over all the wings, turn them over and ensure both sides of the wings get even coating of the honey.
  5. Bake the wings for 25-35 minutes, the wings will swim a little in the soy/honey mixture but don't worry, turning the wings over half way through will ensure browning on both sides.
Serve with
  1. - Green salad, Greek salad,
  2. - Rice, fried rice,
  3. - Shredded meat in a sandwich with mayonnaise
  4. - Cold in a lunch box or picnic
  5. - Use in place or any BBQ chicken recipe
Spatula, Spoon and Saturday /
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Prospect Espresso, Camberwell {Melbourne Review} /2015/04/17/prospect-espresso-camberwell-melbourne-review/ /2015/04/17/prospect-espresso-camberwell-melbourne-review/#respond Fri, 17 Apr 2015 10:00:37 +0000 /?p=4523 Prospect Burger at Prospect espresso

Prospect Espresso. I’m surprised we haven’t tried this lovely place considering it’s pretty close to home but ventured into it one day we did after I had a blood test at Melbourne Path nearby. Mum and Mini were there with me. We got there at around 11ish on a weekend and the place was bustling. We had to wait a few minutes for the table but luckily not too long.

Flat White at Prospect Espresso

(Flat White – $4)

We ordered drinks – a flat white for me, a babycino for Mini and an orange juice for Mum. Coffee was great and Mini was terribly happy with her babycino ($?) I have been back a few times to get takeaway coffee including an iced coffee since and I have to say the coffee is consistently great. The orange juice ($6) was not so great but it was in the middle of Summer so I personally would say Mum had it coming for ordering fresh orange juice in Summer. Who does that? Repeat after me: citrus is a Winter thing. If you’re eating oranges in Summer, they are either months old or came from the US. Don’t do it. Same with apples.

Babycino at Prospect Espresso

(Babycino for Mini – $?)

Smoked Trout Salad with Peas, Zucchini, Snow Pea Shoots

(Smoked trout, zucchini, peas and snow peas salad – $16?)

Because we have all eaten breakfast, we settled on the lunch menu. I ordered the smoked trout salad with zucchini strips, fresh peas, snow pea shoots and ($16?) and it was the most darling of salads. The leaves and peas were so fresh they were beautifully sweet and really complimented the smoked trout and the quite rich crème fraîche(?) sauce. I really thoroughly enjoyed it. We were sitting in this gorgeous cafe with lots of sunlight shining through and it was the kind of salad that made you happy it’s Summer (too bad it’s Autumn now – not that I don’t love Melbourne in Autum, I just love Summer more.)

Golden chips at Prospect Espresso

(Thick cut chips – served with the Prospect Burger – $20.5)

Mum ordered the Prospect Burger ($20.5) which is their Angus burger with bacon, cheese, tomato, lettuce and pickle on a brioche(!) bun served with thick-cut chips. Mum finds Australian food size completely overwhelming so while I was palming off some of my lovely salad to Mini in an attempt to train her in eating salad (she does, yay!) I got to try a bit of the burger. It was delicious. The meat was juicy and everything was put together well. No complaints whatsoever. The chips were also well made and they were served with mild aioli and I am always a sucker for adding oily sauces onto deep fried things for extra calories.

It was a very pleasant lunch in a small, cozy cafe. The food was well made and thought out and the coffee was great. The high-ish price tag is common within the area and obviously a favourite with the locals. While there wasn’t a kid’s menu, they were quite accomodating with having Mini and the service was decent. But I really love the food and coffee. Will definitely be back.

Did you know I have the Spatula, Spoon and Saturday Facebook Page running? Please take a look!

Prospect Espresso [ Website ]
Address: 2A Prospect Hill Road, Camberwell VIC 3124
Phone: (03) 9882 7359
Hours: Monday – Friday 7am – 4pm, Saturday – Sunday 8am – 4.30pm
Public Transport: Camberwell Train Station (260m), Tram 72 (10m), Tram 70 & 75 (400m)

Prospect Espresso on Urbanspoon

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Broccoli Rice and Being a Veg Ninja /2015/04/14/broccoli-rice-and-being-a-veg-ninja/ /2015/04/14/broccoli-rice-and-being-a-veg-ninja/#respond Tue, 14 Apr 2015 10:00:12 +0000 /?p=4569 roast peri peri chicken with broccoli rice recipe

Allow me to share with you one of those favourite family dishes. You know you have them in repertoire. There are the something really fast that you can get dinner going in 15 minutes and there are the really easy recipes that makes you look like a good parent for feeding your kids well. Because we, the adults, are fairly fussy, we also make sure that the stuff we make we want to eat too.

So I went over to my sister-in-law’s for lunch one day and she served up roast chicken. The chicken was really flavourful and tender and amazing and I ask her how she did it. She said she just bought the pre-marinated chicken from the supermarket. I never actually considered this! I had peri-peri chicken before but being a sucker that I am, I made it from scratch using this recipe. And it was great. But it was time consuming. So one day I thought I might try the pre-marinated peri-peri chicken from Aldi and I never looked back. They are butterflied and cook much faster than a normal roast. We get one of these chickens once every couple of months.

roast peri peri chicken with broccoli rice recipe

The next part, of course, is what to eat with it. I looked up a few Portugese recipes (working with what I had in the fridge/pantry) I found this recipe for broccoli rice (arroz con brocoli) which is basically rice cooked with broccoli, garlic and olive oil so I decide to ‘veg ninja’ it into a side dish with lots of vegetables. The concept of ‘veg ninja’ has been brought to my attention by a fellow parent on Instagram and it’s basically when you try to shove in as much vegetables into a traditional dish that does not have vegetables in it (think putting peas into spaghetti alla carbonara, cabbage into tom kha gai and having more veggies in fried rice than the actual rice) in order to make your kids eat vegetables. Well, this is one of those recipes and I love it.

Do you have a veg ninja trick? Please share!

Broccoli Rice
Serves 4
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups cooked long grain rice
  2. 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  3. 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  4. 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
  5. 1/2 red capsicum, diced
  6. 1 small zucchini, diced
  7. 1 onion, diced
  8. 1 tomato, diced
  9. 4 tbsp juice & fat from the roast chicken (or substitute with some concentrated chicken stock - adjust amount accordingly when using chicken stock)
Instructions
  1. Steam or microwave the broccoli florents with a bit of water until slightly soft but not yet fully cooked - around 2 minutes on High.
  2. Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan on high. Fry garlic for a minute until softened but not coloured. Turn the heat down to medium.
  3. Add broccoli florets, red capsicum, onion and zucchini. Fry for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Add splashes of water if required to keep the vegetables from cooking unevenly.
  4. Add rice and fry until everything comes together and the vegetables are cooked.
  5. Add tomato and chicken juices/stock and fry until the tomato begins to soften and fall apart. Ensure there is enough liquid so this doesn't turn into a fried rice.
  6. Turn off the heat, cover the pan with a lid or foil and let the rice sit for about ten minutes.
Serve with
  1. - Peri peri roast chicken or any other roasts
  2. - Any meat really
  3. - Try covering it with cheese and bake (I haven't tried it but I am thinking it might be a good idea!)
Adapted from Traditional Portuguese arroz con brócoli recipes
Adapted from Traditional Portuguese arroz con brócoli recipes
Spatula, Spoon and Saturday /
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Top Paddock, Richmond {Melbourne Review} /2015/04/10/top-paddock-richmond-melbourne-review/ /2015/04/10/top-paddock-richmond-melbourne-review/#respond Fri, 10 Apr 2015 10:00:16 +0000 /?p=4575 Soft shell mudcrab with salad and lime mayonnaise in brioche bun at Top Paddock

We had a fairly bad experience with Top Paddock previously when we got there one weekend. It was quite busy, we were ignored by the waitstaff for quite a while (literally ignored, not ‘please wait’ just plain straight walking past back and forth without paying us any attention) and once we were seated, the venue was incredibly noisy due to it having lots and LOTS of bare walls with no noise absorber whatsoever. So we basically decided to walk out at the time as Josh is fairly sensitive to bad acoustics (it gives him a terrible headache.) But I was quite determined to eat there because I have heard so many good things about this place and bad acoustics doesn’t bother me as much. So I needed a new tactic – I needed a brunch date who wasn’t Josh and I needed to be there on a week day.

Top Paddock Cafe, Richmond, Melbourne

The opportunity presented itself when Mum was in town and we were on our way to Australian Open to see Roger Federer playing the second round against Simone Bolleli. Sure, Top Paddock isn’t exactly walking distance to Rod Laver Arena but it mattered not because I wanted to eat at Top Paddock, damn it. Luckily this time, we found parking easily (unlike last time when we had to pay exorbitant parking for a meal we didn’t eat – yeah still grumpy about that) and we were greeted nicely by the waitstaff and were seated in a nice sunny spot. A much better start this time. The venue itself is actually quite spacious and gorgeously fitted out – but yes the acoustics when busy really were absolutely atrocious (my friend pointed out, when I told her about this that I am old, I am. I admit it.)

IMG_20150121_100302

(Flat white – $3.80)

We were in a bit of a rush for the tennis but service was quite prompt and we didn’t have to wait long for coffee and food. We peruse the menu (and obviously I wanted to order everything but it was breakfast and we could only eat so much.) Mum decided to order the soft shell crab (first picture – Queensland soft shell mud crab & salad with lime mayonnaise on a brioche bun – $21) because I may have suggested that it’s one of their more popular dishes. Okay, I wanted to try it. It was really quite good. It was the meatiest, juiciest, best soft shell crab I ever had and the salad, mayo and the bun all complimented each really nicely.The only complaint about it is that the soft shell crab itself was overly salted.

Snapper with chilli-fried egg, avocado, tomato, lime and corn tortilla at Top Paddock Cafe

(Local snapper with chilli-fried egg, avocado, tomato, lime and corn tortilla -$19.50)

I decided on the snapper and while it was the prettier dish of the two and was quite good, I found this dish to be a bit scattered. There was nothing to tie all the ingredients together but the ingredients were definitely of good quality and I did enjoy the dish although I wouldn’t recommend it. The same complaint as the soft shell crab applied, the snapper pieces were over-salted. Whoever on the seafood duty that day must have been fairly heavy handed. The coffee was fantastic though.

So despite a fault start, and a few things that weren’t quite right, we enjoyed having a nice coffee and brunch in a lovely space on that sunny day. The food focused itself on really good ingredients and the prices reflect that. I wouldn’t hesitate to go back and sample a few more dishes there in the future.

Top Paddock Cafe [ Web Site ]
Address: 658 Church St., Richmond VIC 3121
Phone: 03 9429 4332
Hours: Mon – Fri 7am – 4pm, weekends & public holidays 8am – 4pm
Public Transport: Trams 78 & 79 (right out front), East Richmond Train Station (700m)

Top Paddock on Urbanspoon

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Moon Diem Hen, Springvale {Melbourne Review} /2015/04/05/moon-diem-hen-springvale-melbourne-review/ /2015/04/05/moon-diem-hen-springvale-melbourne-review/#respond Sun, 05 Apr 2015 09:53:22 +0000 /?p=4537 Special Combination Vermicell (Bun) at Moon Diem Hen

I am going to pretend that I never mentioned anything about writing a Food Guide on Docklands. Because you know, that was more than a year ago (insert excuses after excuses here.)

Due to a new commitment, I have been going to Springvale a lot recently. For those of you who aren’t from this side of town (or ever from this town at all) Springvale is an awesome enclave of the cheap eats to end all cheap eats in the south east of Melbourne. Vietnamese, Cambodian and Chinese feature heavily in the food landscape and more importantly (to me anyway) there is a small section that caters to all the Thai food needs including restaurants catering to the local Thai population, Thai groceries and Thai DVDs (beats me why you still buy these illegal DVDs when you can illegally watch them on YouTube for free and for much better quality.) But let’s talk about Springvale another day. Let’s talk about this great new restaurant I found called Moon Diem Hen.

Seafood Banh Xeo - Vietnamese Crepe / Pancake

(Banh xeo – seafood Vietnamese pancake/crepe – $13?)

Moon Diem Hen has one of the most unfortunate locations in Springvale. It is right next door to the extremely popular Hoa Tran – another Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant. The location has turned over a new restaurant, oh about… every year since the first time I discovered Hoa Tran many years back. It seems like nothing beats the Hoa Train mojo. I am definitely guilty of ignoring all the restaurants that have come and gone in this location in these past years. But one day, just when the queue to get into the cramp, dark Hoa Tran was too long and I wasn’t in the mood to wait, I decided to step into spacious, brightly lit and clean new restaurant next door.

Red fried rice with salt and pepper calamari at Moon Diem Hen Springvale

(Salt & pepper calamari with red fried rice – $12?)

To be perfectly honest with you, I have no idea when Moon Diem Hen opened up (told you I only paid attention to getting into Hoa Tran like the rest of us) but the place seems quite brand new. Very brightly with a skylight, it has a, err, fairly interesting decor. I apologise in advance for not having a picture of the decor but I can vouch that it is indeed interesting. 

Red fried rice with salt and pepper prawns at Moon Diem Hen Springvale

(Salt & pepper prawnswith red fried rice – $12?)

Never mind the decor, we were there for the food. Moon Diem Hen has a big menu of all sorts of Chinese and Vietnamese dishes including favourite single-dishes such as stir-fries on rice, pho, Vietnamese, Chinese and Cambodian style noodles soups, stir-fried noodles, rice vermicelli salad (bun), it also has various large portioned meat and seafood dishes to share in a banquet type meal. I have been there a couple of times for lunch and another time with a big group where we had seafood dishes. Both times, I was treated to rather good food and especially the seafood was amazingly cheap. The first time Josh and I shared the salt & pepper calamari on rice and a special combination rice vermicelli salad (first picture, $13?) ‘Combination’ included spring rolls, fried pork, prawn cakes, beef in betel leaves and possibly something else I can’t remember) – we both found these two dishes to be really good. It lacked the usual greasiness that often accompanies these dishes and it had a more homemade taste to it. The second time I was there on my own, I ordered the salt & pepper prawns with red fried rice. I know. Call me boring. I also really liked the free soup that came with it too though I am a sucker for free soup everywhere, so this doesn’t mean much.

Salted egg yolk calamari at Moon Diem Hen in Springvale

(Fried calamari in salted egg yolk batter – $18)

Another time though, I took my mum and a few of her friends (hereby known as ‘the Aunties’) because I had notice on the previous trips that Moon Diem Hen sells lobster noodles for really good price ($25 S, $32 M, $60 L) so I thought we might give it a go with a big group of people so we went in one weekday lunch (I’m taking a career break) and while there were a few tables filled it, it was quite spacious (the opposite to next door, essentially.)

Lobster noodles with XO sauce at Moon Diem Hen in Springvale

(Lobster in XO sauce with noodles – Large – $60)

We ordered the lobster noodles – it was available in either XO sauce or ginger and spring onion sauce. Our waiter steered us towards the XO sauce so we went with that. I can’t say I expected much for lobster costing $60 but the portion was massive. I would guess there were two smallish lobster tails (say, about 2lb size – you can see the photo with cutlery to scale, you be the judge) but the noodles! Oh my god, there was a LOT of noodles. There must have been about five balls of egg noodles in this dish (most Chinese seafood restaurants would charge you about $6-$12 per ball of noodles.) Though the noodles/lobster proportion was quite unexpected, I am one of those noodle loving fiend and I have to say, I loved it. Now the lobster! How was the lobster? Sadly, I didn’t have any! I know! Lobster is great but honestly I don’t think it’s worth the money so I let Mum and the Aunties eat them since they seem to enjoy them a lot. Mum’s feedback was that the lobster was overcooked – which I suspect meant that this was frozen lobster and so suffers that slight toughening in the flesh. Of course, if you compare this to a live lobster dish (which would cost about $150++) – this wasn’t as good but it was definitely good enough for the Aunties had no complaint (my mum is fussy.) I think for what it was and how much it cost, it was a ridiculously good value. The noodles and sauce themselves weren’t bad either (I ate a lot of that, I can vouch for that.)

Pippies in XO sauce with Chinese doughnut at Moon Diem Hen in Springvale

(Pippies in XO sauce, served with Chinese doughnuts – $18)

Another dish we ordered was pippies in XO sauce. The pippies were really nice and plump in, I think, the same sauce as the lobster but managed to taste quite different to the lobster dish. The seafood pancake/crepe (banh xeo) was also very good. I noticed that many tables ordered this dish and so really wanted to try it. It didn’t disappoint. Again, it had that lovely, less harsh, home cooked flavours that I found to be the characteristics of the cooking here. The filling was seafood (you can get prawn & pork filling too) and with creamy mung beans and beansprouts. I really liked it. I think it’s better than Thanh Tam – the previous reigning favourite spot for banh xeo. The calamari in salted egg yolk on the other hand I found a bit bland as this is the one dish that I expected to be more oily and salty. While unwelcome in other dishes, this made this particular a bit too bland for my liking.

Stir fried mixed vegetables and tofu at Moon Diem Hen in Springvale

(Mixed vegetables with fried tofu – $12)

We also ordered a plate of mixed vegetables to tie everything together. Again this dish did not disappoint. The sauce was well flavoured and the veggies were fresh (they’re in Springvale, there really is no excuse for using bad products.) We also ordered special combination rice vermicelli salad again because I really liked it the first time and figured the Aunties would like it too. I was right, they really liked it. They found Vietnamese food in Melbourne quite different to the Vietnamese food they get in Thailand and really enjoyed trying all the different dishes I ordered.

Moon Diem Hen Vietnamese and Chinese restaurant in Sprinvale

So after a few good meals, this puts Moon Diem Hen firmly my favourite place for Vietnamese food in Springvale. The fact that it’s new and next to Hoa Tran, I haven’t seen it packed yet so it has always been easy to get in (though I am now hearing reports that they are packed out some nights – words must start to get around) but this means we would be back there in a heart beat for our next non-pho Vietnamese fix. We love the fresh, tasty food they serve at especially good price.

 

Moon Diem Hen Vietnamese and Chinese Restaurant
Address: 246A Springvale Road Springvale, VIC 3171 (no entrance from Springvale Rd but a lane at the back from Balmoral Ave)
Phone: (03) 9882 7359
Hours: N/A
Public Transport: Springvale Train Station (250m)

Moon Diem Hen Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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