Monday, 21 July 2014

The Stables of Como



This beautiful reinvented stable building at the back of the Como gardens is an incredibly tranquil and calming area to eat brunch or settle down for a scone post garden-wander. Upon entering, you are greeted by a display of cakes and sweets stretching the length of the room, it’s pretty difficult to not want to buy one of everything, so I’d suggest averting your eyes as you wait to be seated.


There are old school musk sticks and rocky road, along with French pastries, macarons and friands.
The staff at The Stables are friendly and on the ball, allowing us to start outside under garden umbrellas then move indoors once a table freed up.


I started off with my hot chocolate ($5.0) staple. It was massively chocolatey, even more so than a chocolate specialty café. The whole bottom section of the glass was essentially chocolate, and even when I mixed it, it became only a tad lighter in shade. The drink will be enjoyed by hardcore chocolate drinkers.


I ordered Aggie’s Lemonade scones, bonne Maman jam, chantilly cream ($5.0 half serve) just because their reputation precedes them and who am I to not try them. As expected, they were fluffy and warm, with a great outer which gave it a shell-like crunch. The scone wasn’t too sweet so it was balanced well, and I would rate it just a smudge better than our homemade variety. Even though the serve of jam and cream looked small, it was ample for the one scone.


The Rumbled Eggs with chives, truffled pecorino + pancetta on griffled crumpets ($16.9) caught my eye right away and I was rewarded by my choice. The crumpet was amazing, floury and way better than the supermarket bought crumpets – I could almost tasted the homemade deliciousness. Due to the crumpet anatomy, it absorbed the butter and egg flavours well and became moist and flavoursome. The rumbled eggs were light and fluffy and garnished with just the right amount of chives and parmesan to make the dish adequately salty. I could eat both aspects of the dish alone due to the expert preparation. The pancetta was the only part of the dish that I wouldn’t miss – crispy but so fatty and salty, which I suppose was used to balance out the more subtle eggs, which it did well in the end.



‘The Gardeners’ breakfast – Poached free range eggs, crispy bacon, tomato salsa, fresh avocado + sautéed mushrooms on toasted sourdough ($19.9) was done well, but again, nothing special and is in line with my policy of never ordering ‘big breakfast’ style dishes.


The Red Velvet cake ($4.9) was beautiful and moist, with a more subtle chocolate flavour than Beatrix’s, but due to the added strawberry jam layer it was much sweeter which was a nice change. The cream cheese icing was again, quite subtle but enough to give it that distinct red velvet taste.


The Pistachio + Raspberry teacake, white chocolate + cream cheese icing ($4.9) was very nice, if not a bit strong to eat in one go. It was incredibly moist (even when I ate it three days later lol). It had a strong pistachio taste and the simple icing went well with the cake.


The Apple cinnamon white chocolate muffin ($4.9) was amazing, I would go back all the time for that. Soft but perfectly done on the outside so it had a harder biscuit texture (have you noticed my approval for this style baking?) The muffin wasn’t too sweet but definitely not tasteless, and the chocolate bits were huge but high quality chocolate so they melted in your mouth without that weird waxy taste.



TL;DR I am so excited to return and try the Banana Hotcake and more of the delectable cakes. 
The Stables of Como on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Beatbox Kitchen


Fond memories surround my first encounter with Food Trucks, the anticipation during the drive out to whatever northern street housed the van and the satisfaction of seeing the decorated van at the end of your journey. 


Beatbox will always hold a special place in my heart due to this reason, but their burgers hold a special place in my stomach too. During this particular trip out to Blyth x Lygon we arrived just as Beatbox was opening, first ftw.


The fries were still amazing, thin shoestring fried to perfection with the Stereo Sauce (a ‘special’ aioli) though this time the sauce felt burnt or like too much salt was added – not as tasty as I had hoped.


The burger itself looked incredible; fat patty and fresh lettuce, tomato and onion makes for a sexy beast. However on first bite, the burger was quite dry; the taste was good, meaty juicy beef and a semi-sweet bun, but I think due to our burger being first off the rank, it hadn’t had time to soak up the greasy goodness of the frier. There also wasn’t enough Stereo Sauce added, which was remedied when we got home, and this improved the burger tenfold.

A Beatbox burger from better times...

I must say, I was quite disappointed, my memories of Beatbox stand steadfast in my mind as deserving of the number one spot, but the time may have come to start searching for my new go-to.

TL;DR Give this burger a go, hopefully this was a one off lapse of concentration by Beatbox.

Beatbox Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Monday, 14 July 2014

Miss Chu

After trawling the interwebs for Nahji Chu’s famed story (you know, the one which could be turned into a movie, or used to inspire a generation of Asian-Australian girls searching for greatness and motivation) I am even more impressed at her development of her restaurant chain business. Miss Nahji Chu’s story is one too familiar to a lot of ‘boat people’ arriving as a refugee to Australia. She however, rose above the prejudice and stigma and created a name for herself through traditional Vietnamese cuisine tailored to an Australian audience. Her life is not without barriers, but she moulds her dreams and future herself; that of being an actress and director are realised in smaller ways through her stores and charity work, or by taking Asian stereotypes and subtle racist slurs and using them to her advantage in her marketing and promotion. Her dream to pursue her ambition of building awareness for Vietnamese refugees is slowly being realised through her strong extrovert personality and business success. If that is not the recipe for success, I don’t know what is.


Walking in through the cosy shop front, I feel I been lifted into a Hanoi sidestreet. The décor is very traditional old school Asian, right down to the wooden benches and elbow-to-elbow eating room. I loved the little ordering script pads for the food and drink and so of course I utilised the fun out of it.


Excited to see Har Gao (Prawn dumplings, 3 per serve $7.0) on the menu I ticked the box and waited with greedy hands. Despite (or due to) my anticipation, I felt this dumpling was not as good as other Yum Cha places; the skin was very thick and relied a lot on the dumpling sauce that came with the dish. The prawn was tasty and fresh, though I will reserve my cravings for other places.



The Prawn & Crab Net Spring Roll Salad ($13.0) was incredible. A crunchy fried roll filled with seafood balanced with healthy vermicelli and fresh salad with Vietnamese sweet sauce dressing. So succulent and tasty – I will order this every time I return.


The BBQ pork char sui buns ($2.50 each) were beautiful and fluffy, and I am incredibly partial to the dough part, which made these great. The insides were warm and typical of your standard Asian bao. It tasted similar in that it was good quality, but nothing special, and as you can get the same for cheaper, I will save my monies and buy this elsewhere next time.


The Traditional Beef Phở ($14.0) was tasty. It was a heavier flavoured broth with a strong star anise base. The noodles were similar to other Phở noodles but not as soft. The wagyu beef however wasn’t as fresh or served raw to cook in the piping hot broth. The ox tail addition was a good way to mix things ups, however, for double the ‘usual’ price I don’t feel it was worth it. Usually I’d be happy to eat the noodles with just the soup, however with Miss Chu’s I felt like I needed more meat and sauce to make it tasty.


The Sashimi tuna rice paper rolls (2 per serve, $13.0) had good flavours with a nice twist being filled with seaweed instead of noodles. It was a refreshing roll especially with the hidden wasabi and no heavy sauces or meats; however it was difficult to chew through and ended up tasting overwhelmingly like seaweed rather than tuna.


The Lychee Stoli Crush ($13.0) of frozen young coconut juice, blended with lychees and mint was ok but the coconut overpowered the lychee too much. The slushie texture was a nice change to a cocktail, and the smooth vodka and cucumber went well with the flavour combination very well.


TL;DR Writing this makes me crave the spring rolls all over again… I think I’ll go get some this weekend.

Miss Chu on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Trunk Diner

On a decidedly gluttonous (glorious) whim, a choice was made to pop into Trunk Diner for a pre-dinner dinner… a cosy greenhouse style building tucked near the top of Little Bourke housing American style food, which welcomed our stomachs with fat (friendly) open arms.


I snapped up the opportunity to order the Gaytime Shake ($8.0), which was initially quite sweet but as you chugged along your tastebuds re-oriented itself and it turned itself into a passable creamy caramel shake. That being said, I don't think I would re-order this drink if I return.


The chilli cheese fries ($9.0) were drowned under copious amounts of melted cheese and great big chunks of meatballs, a la spaghetti meatballs. The chilli could have had a bit more kick to bring the dish through, but the Mexican spicy sauce thoughtfully provided by Trunk solved that issue quite easily. The fries seemed almost overwhelmed by the toppings, but I can’t quite see the problem in that.


The guacamole & salsa fresca with corn chips ($8.0) were fresh and crunchy. The tomato vinegar relish was great combined with the traditional sour cream. The guacamole however, was the best part – tasty, with lemon zest and chunky enough to know you were eating avocado.


The “Breaking Bad” ($12.0) bacon wrapped hotdog, mustard, ketchup, fresh tomato salsa & jalapenos hot dog was probably my favourite part of my snack-meal; thick sausage, great jalapeño, onion and tomatoes cubed up and adding a lighter flavour to the dish. The bread was delicious and sweet but was nowhere near a brioche bun.


TL;DR A good late night snack place, though once it’s crossed off your list there’s no real reason to return.
Trunk Diner on Urbanspoon

Monday, 7 July 2014

Pho24

So to celebrate the ‘official’ opening of Pho24, a renowned chain straight from Vietnam, a decision to tempt the masses with free Pho or Banh Mi for a day was made! Despite being open for several months, I wasn’t complaining and let my Asian focus on free-things senses guide me. Now, there was a lot of hating going on about Pho24, the comments ran something like, “tastes like dirty dish water mixed with MSG” and “not worth the free”, but I wasn’t going to let people rain on my free parade. Plus, the benefit of the doubt is always nice to give establishments second chances.


The line was considerably shorter than I expected, but I soon realised this was due to the subway-style chain line production system they had going on. It was incredibly effective and made a quick lunch even faster. The staff handling the money (not this time) dispense a ticket and you move down the line sliding your aluminium trays (a la American high school lunch line) watching them create your Pho or Banh Mi from scratch. I assume this means you can choose your fillings as you go, but as this was free day they were pre-made, beef weighed and the standard everything chucked in without question. Then the soup is dispensed from massive vats and handed out at the end of the counter where there are tubs of fresh cut chilli (very spicy!) and lemon.


The coolest part of this whole process is the potted herbs around the seating area, these are there for you to garnish your meal with something a little extra and they even provide the scissors to cut the plants too! The uncool part was they served the pho in disposable bowls, again, may have just been due to free day, but that was a lot of environmental waste. Uncool!


The Pho itself was quite non-descript, the soup didn’t have a lot of depth of flavour and tasted quite weak and thin, despite simultaneously tasting like it had been reboiled over and over, instead of having a fresh and clean taste like other shops. The noodles were a lot softer than standard fare and I don’t think the beef was served raw to be cooked in the steaming hot broth. Despite that, they were very generous with the apparent southern beef porterhouse slices. The normal price sits at $8 for regular and $11 for large, which in my opinion, isn’t worth the price for something that is subpar to what I can get for a cheaper price. 


The smoked paprika pork Banh Mi was also available, which was acceptable although the meat they used tasted cheap and stringy with a lot of chewy tendons through it. The bread was crispy though smaller sized than the Springvale variety and IT WAS MISSING THE PATE! As such, it didn’t taste anything like what I am used to, and despite the claim on Vietnamese roots, it tasted white. The overall flavour was slightly sweet due to the relish added and only had one slice of meat, rather than the three varieties stuffed into the roll. For $7.50 it was very much capitalising on the CBD location, as Springvale Banh Mi are sold for $3.50 and they are much heavier.To their credit however, they did allow me to take another Banh Mi to my friend who couldn't get out of work.


TL;DR Unless they pick up their game, I’d spend my monies somewhere else. 

Pho24 on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 5 July 2014

The Pour Kids

Saturdays are fantastic days to make plans for and have them all fall through on account of once again not realising how inherently lazy you are and how thoroughly you will sleep in. Yes, once again, I find myself having brunch after midday one rainy weekend morning. Saying brunch when really, I mean breakfast, makes it slightly less embarrassing.

Walking to the cafe, we pass a tall, svelte woman who is proudly wearing a badge that proclaims she has lost 26kgs so far and further implores us to ask her how she did it. I really, really, really want to stop and ask her how she did it, but that would be playing into The Man's game, and furthermore, I am getting dizzy with hunger, so we let her swan by.

The Pour Kids is tucked just off Glenferrie Road, opposite the Coles supermarket parking lot in Malvern. It's a cosy joint with brightly coloured walls, decorated with pictures of impoverished children, or something. Either way, it's nice. 

I 'start my day' with some freshly-squeezed orange juice, that is delightfully rind-y and frothy. I think of Nutribullet infomercials. I think of my favourite infomercial of the moment, the Hot Shapers. I think of how I was supposed to wake up and gym this morning. A lot of thinking is going on.

Not made from a Superfood Nutrition Extractor, but just as good I would guess.

Being that we haven't gymmed yet today, I am of course inappropriately hungry, so we do that thing we always do and order three dishes for two people. When all three meals arrive, I try to snarf down the one that is most easily disposed, so that people won't stare at the greedy diners trying to hide their array of food. My continual shoving of sandwich into mouth is doing much to dissuade the starers, because I am a very discreet food-shover. Very.

The knuckle sandwich, which is a lot better in your mouth than on your mouth - $11

'The knuckle sandwich' is this thing of slow-cooked beef knuckle, which I had to firstly confirm with my dining partner wasn't going to be bone-filled and gristly because I am literal like that, with cornichons, mustard cress and butter on a ciabatta roll. It is tangy and beef-melty and crunchy and lipsmackingly delicious - except I don't smack my lips, because no. Last time, I had the 'This little piggy' sandwich and it's safe to say, these kids know how to make a sanger.

A toasty with the most-y - $14.50

This is just sexy and makes me feel immediately inadequate and undeserving, except that's a lie, because I know I deserve food, just like those poor children. Described as French-toasted brioche, with berry compote and vanilla cream, it somehow looks like an even larger serve than the last time I had it, and just like the last time, it also remains unfinished. It is drowned in berry juices and syrup and is therefore quite soggy, but there are sugar crystals atop the glorious blob of vanilla bean cream, and two thick slices of brioche, and it's filling and generous and not unlike the best kind of worst love. Every good girl needs this just once in her lifetime.

Duck for cover - $16.50

And now, for the main event, the pièce de résistance, the gnocchi. The gnocchi. The GNOCCHI, for BREAKFAST. (Because there's no point pretending anymore, it's 12.45pm, and I am eating breakfast.) Any place willing to serve me gnocchi for breakfast will serve me for life. Congratulations, impoverished little folks - you are no longer impoverished. There is so much beauty on this plate, what with the Swiss chard, the Italian-style pork sausage, the fried egg, and the most gorgeous thing of all, the burnt butter gnocchi. I take a moment to have a moment.

...

If things were to go to plan, I would probably eat this for breakfast every day. The gnocchi is exceptionally soft and fluffy and potato-y, with a scattering of salt that sings in my mouth. It's what I imagine eating potato cloud pillows would be like. They are much too good to share and I rue my decision to be a decent dining partner each time someone steals one of these nuggets from my plate. The Swiss chard is drizzled with oil but I'm still satisfied that it fulfils my greens requirement; the egg oozes runny yolk and that's all we really want our eggs to do in the end; the pork sausage is inherently meaty and savoury and fatty in a way that most certainly won't help me in the long-run, but seeing as I'm way past caring, I happily continue on my merry way.

Eventually, it seems, I'm going to be the one not wearing a badge, but people will be able to tell I've gained 26kgs so far, and I will not be imploring people to ask me how I did it, because the answer will be the gnocchi. The afterlife will be paved with this gold, I'm sure of it.


TL;DR - Get the gnocchi. If you, for some weird reason, don't like taking the best free advice of ever, get a sandwich.


The Pour Kids on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Red Kite x UXC's EAT STREET at The Sofitel on Collins 2014

Welcome to our first joint post!


This event has been on our to-do list for some time, ever since we first heard of it through an acquaintance. Year after year, we somehow missed the opportunity to purchase our tickets and each time, we stared mournfully at people's photos and read their reviews with envy. This year, to not further disappoint ourselves, we kept a close eye on the interwebs and made a note in our diary - this had to happen...or else.

Eat Street is in its fifteenth year of raising much needed funds for the wonderful Red Kite charity, who devote their time to supporting children with cancer and their families from the moment of diagnosis, throughout treatment and helping in the community setting. Red Kite do an amazing job and create a very positive impact on the families whose lives they touch, it was a pleasure supporting such a wonderful organisation whilst eating to our heart's content. You can find out more about Red Kite here


The Da: Walking into Sofitel you were greeted by the tricolour of France; balloons and buntings placed everywhere and "French Elegance" themed decorations galore gazing down at you from upstairs in the ballroom. It looked pretty enticing so I ninja'd my way up the stairs for a better look, and managed to take photos of every room before the public rampaged through with their stomachs of devouring. 


The lighting was highly romantic and it took all my strength to not rush up to the beautifully displayed stalls and express my love of food.


What is a celebration of French elegance without CHEESE!


In the reception area, the silent auction items were placed on trestle tables ready to raise money for the very worthy Red Kite - a foundation which assists families in every feasible way as they face the heartbreak of a child diagnosed with cancer.


The items ranged from super stylish Hugo Boss leather handbags, to silver reserve seating to Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake's concerts plus after-party drinks to $500 at Golden Monkey. There were jewellery pieces and denim aprons, kinky lingerie vouchers and Wicked and Rocky Horror Show tickets (where you meet the cast!)


These lovely masks weren't that popular in the end unfortunately.



They also had many cute fundraising ideas such as this: purchasing a soft toy allowed you to receive a surprise gift corresponding to the number stuck onto the toy.


The round room up the stairs was lovely and snug (and smelt the most like cooking food) with a Moulin Rouge theme dominating the decor.




And now, onto the MAIN EVENT.

That Girl: I arrived close to the starting time, and we received our wristbands and stared around at our fellow diners. I had purposely skipped lunch earlier that day in order to sample as many offerings as humanly possible. One day, they will announce supreme galaxy ruler for the one who can eat their weight in food, and everyone else will be so sorry they called me greedy.


TG: As we happened upon these tasty delights at A La Folie at the start of the night, we decided to start with dessert - the alternative was to walk away and find savoury dishes, and when have we ever, rationally, walked away from food? The choux was nicely browned, with a delicate crust that contained flavourful creme pattiserie, and while small in size, each bite was unexpectedly moreish. The stall was also serving macarons, which we unfortunately did not try.
TD: The beautiful choux pastry affair had us returning for more throughout the night. We sampled the Raspberry, Mango/Passion, Salted Caramel, P125 Chocolate, Madagascar Vanilla and Pistachio - all of which were to die for.




TD: Ganache chocolate were just around the way, these guys have always known the key to smooth, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate pieces. My favourites were Kalamansi lime, asian spice, geranium and Melbourne honey.
TG: Chocolate is my vice. I have a very complicated relationship with chocolate, and it becomes more fraught with complexity the older I get and the slower my metabolism becomes. That said, the night was not one for starting a diet - tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it - because all my mistakes would be happening here. Kalamansi lime was a firm favourite, and I made several trips back throughout the night to reward myself with this tangy treat.



TG: The lovely lads at Le Petit Gateau had two treats to savour, the first of which was a salted caramel cup - unfortunately, we cannot recall too much about this one.
TD: I guess that says a lot...


TD: However, their raspberry lychee and coconut cake was delicate with distinct flavours all throughout the layers. I went back for seconds.
TG: This was a moist (a word a lot of people dislike, but nonetheless is a fine adjective for a cake) and creamy (again, not great connotations out of context) slab that worked on all levels. Delicious.


TD: The cool kids from Academy Sofitel had a burger treat and an Eaton Mess displayed in beautiful flower flutes. I loved this dessert, simple but packing a sweet toothed punch in every bite. The mini meringues added to decorate were a great visual flair, and tasted a treat too.
TG: These were probably my favourite dessert of the night, because I am easily won over by novelty, each and every time. Eton mess is always good fun, but throw in an eye-catching display and I am a child approaching a sugar high. I had two of these because they were just that damn fantastic. No. Shame.


TD: These pulled pork sliders with hot and sour salad were great, the pork patties were moist, with the relish of carrot, radish and coriander adding to the flavour storm.
TG: I shared this with The Da and the flavours were reminiscent of those now found in abundance across food trucks and fusion restaurants. Tasty, but nothing new.


TD: Saint Crispin's deconstructed "Lamington", fig leaf panna cotta, chocolate mouselline and raspberry was pretty neat. The lamington cake part was more solid than a traditional lamington, but brought a lovely buttery crumble to the jar. The raspberry was quite tart, but the chocolate bitterness smoothed out the flavours nicely.
TG: Being that the soft, light sponge is what I love most about a lamington, I had issue with the cake simply tasting like a butter cake, which I also found to be much too solid, even for a deconstruction.


TD: Estelle featured hand rolled macaroni with prawn bolognese, quite an interesting take on an italian dish and the flavours went together well.
TG: The prawns were firmer than I thought they would be for some reason, and made for a unique bolognese sauce, especially with the salmon roe on top. Not quite my bowl of pasta, but nicely constructed all the same.


TD: Their braised wagyu shin with soft polenta and parmesan; the polenta mash was divine, as was the thin gravy adding a depth to the perfectly cooked wagyu beef shins.
TG: This was comfort food raised to another level. Starchy, carb-filled mash-textured food and me get along like a house on fire, to say the least, and paired with the fall-apart beef, rich gravy and parmesan crumbs, it was like the food version of snuggling in bed on a rainy day - warm, satisfying and sleep-inducing.


TD: The compressed watermelon and black sesame tuna with ponzu dressing from Sails on the Bay was the perfect bite sized morsel, the only issue was it was over too quickly.
TG: I fed the majority of this to Om while he was waiting for his drink from Eau de Vie. Not too sure on the watermelon and tuna pairing, as the latter was already find on its own. The pairing of fruits and proteins has only worked magnificently for me once, and that was quail breasts with grapes and fried bread at MoVida. All other times, I feel like I've missed something in the flavour journey.


TD: Sails' raspberry and passionfruit pavé was probably my favourite cake of the night, the layers were so good - I knew I forgot to return for something!


TD: Fish was featured in most stalls; I wasn't complaining though, as the flavour mix and textures varied quite enormously throughout. This dish was Ezard's kingfish sashimi and it was delectable. Loved the rice crisp on top and there was just the perfect amount of soy sauce and wasabi hidden in the corners to bring out the full flavour of the raw kingfish.
TG: As The Da would attest, I've only just started to come into my raw palate and appreciate sashimi in the last few years. Some might say I trained myself to not gag at the texture, so that I would be able to one day dine at Tetsuya's, an experience The Da was forced to miss because of me on our Sydney trip a few years back, and an experience I can now say was one of my finest when I finished every morsel of their degustation last November. This kingfish was beautiful, delicate and well-balanced amongst the flavours. A win for Ezard.


TD: However their black forest cake felt somewhat lacking in cake; it tasted mostly like whipped cream and wasn't that impressive overall.
TG: And after the win comes a fail. This is akin to something you'd get at a run-of-the-mill cafe, complete with the strange taste of canned whipped cream. However, this dish continues Ezard's hit-and-miss record with me, where for every hit, they follow with a miss immediately after. Consistent, I guess?


TD: Union Food & Wine featured a very light dish, with perfectly confit Atlantic salmon, fennel puree cucumber, smoked yoghurt and puffed rice. The fennel puree was so nice, I wish I had enough room to re-eat this dish.
TG: This dish reminded me of something else, or perhaps these flavours have been combined again and again and I'm just getting confused between them all. The salmon confit was done very well, flaking apart in my mouth in a very satisfying way.
TD: Their dessert was a soft chocolate, spiced quiche, gingerbread and honeycomb which we missed out on.

TG: Not pictured, but Zaza's Cucina was offering bread and salamini, which didn't seem like much at first, but damn if that wasn't the most amazing cured meat product of ever. I had to go back for thirds, it was so tasty.


TD: This was a great little dish of Coda, Roasted yelllow duck curry, something mom could have cooked, but I wouldn't have considered it fine dining.
TG: This was moderately tasty, but was definitely something that could have been had at home. 


TD: These fried crispy prawn and tapioca betel leaf snacks were quite nice, but due to the mass production they weren't as hot or crispy as I'd hoped.
TG: I had one bite. It was enough.


TD: Nora Tart strikes again! They supplied this 70% dark chocolate, honey, salted caramelised b&w toasted sesame tart, and the vanilla spiced quince, citrus, caramel meringue tart below to pair with the two of the three cocktail concoctions on show from the industry's finest, Eau de Vie.


TG: These tarts were actually consumed the day after, so bearing in mind they'd been refrigerated for 24 hours beforehand, I eagerly got stuck into them. My preference was for the citrus and quince (quince may be my new favourite thing, after the epicness of baked quince in brioche puff pastry at Mr Hive dessert degustation) because tangy flavours are usually the best, and additionally, the honey flowing out of the chocolate tart made for a sticky, messy experience that wasn't worth it in taste. However, the pastry cases themselves, described as charcoal tarts, detracted from the overall flavour of both offerings, leaving an unwelcome chalkiness in the wake.

Eau de Vie's beautiful central ballroom stand

Patrick Tully from Eau de Vie lights things up a little!


TD: This was a very sweet caramel quinoa dessert created by the chefs from Eau de Vie to pair with their cocktails, overall it did not have enough dimension for my liking, though I had not taken it as intended with their drink.


TG: The Point's offering of yellow fin tuna, hollandaise and wasabi flying fish roe was underwhelming, given the restaurant's general reputation. I'm not a huge fan of wasabi but in this case, it at least gave the fish some much-needed flavour contrast.



TG: Their second dish was a rabbit pithivier and truffle sauce. Essentially, a rabbit pie with rich sauce. The pastry was beautifully crisp and buttery, and while I haven't eaten a whole lot of rabbit in this lifetime (in fact, never outside of Daylesford), this was hearty and filling.


TD: Allumi's yellowfin tuna, puffed wild rice, spring onion dressing and foi gras was very interesting. I had never tasted that combination of flavours together before and it was pleasantly oriental-inspired.


TD: Allumi followed up with another ingenious dessert, quince, yoghurt cream and chrysanthemum. Very easy to eat and enjoy! I will definitely be visiting their restaurant in the future.
TG: Oh, quince! I love you so. Weirdly enough, while I enjoy yoghurt to a degree, I almost never enjoy it as a flavour. Something about the sour tang makes me think the element it's flavouring has gone rancid. That said, the quince made the dish for me and I overlooked the yoghurt cream and enjoyed it overall. Someone needs to buy me a sackful of quinces.


TD: Cumulus Inc's Pigs head croquettes with sauce gribiche tasted very strong and gamey. I wanted to enjoy this, but the taste reminded my too much of dead pig.
TG: I did not like this. At all.


TG: This was a very creamy soup, that almost reminded me of an indulgent cream of mushroom or some sort of rich bisque. However, flavour-wise it was lacking somewhat, as I couldn't discern the crab at all and didn't finish my half.


TD: I expected a lot more from Huxtable, the filo log of lamb puttanesca with lemon yoghurt, and the mini XO bun of smoked Ora King Salmon were tasty, but also slightly dry and nothing like the juicy treats they produce in their restaurant.
TG: I agree on the dry sentiment - I would have gladly taken their regular XO bun with crab over this, and as for the lamb, it was more office party finger food than anything else.


TD: Le Grand Cirque's Saumon Mariné au Pastis (aniseed cured salmon, avocado purée, toasted brioche and caviar) was great, I went back for my own as it was so tasty, you can really appreciate the difference between cured and normal smoked salmon.
TG: This was fantastic! The avocado puree was refreshing and the salmon was melt-in-mouth delicious, and all together, I would eat a whole plate of this if available. It also reminded me of an entree I once had at the erstwhile PM24. One of the highlight dishes from a night of mostly great food.


TD: This was the best burger of the night. Petite brioche de cochon (little burger of pigs trotter patties, sauce gribiche). Juicy, tasty and leaves you wanting more.
TG: I second that, best burger of the night. A lovely patty, cushioned between pillows of brioche with just the right harmony of flavours throughout. Divine.


TG: Hands down my favourite offering of the night. Yes, I am a complete sucker, but I love fancied-up takeout food. It's why I love any burger that uses brioche buns. And this was Hellenic Republic's fine take on the souvlaki, in essence, an elevation of Jimmy Grants: a confit duck souvlaki, stuffed with hot salty chips and pull-apart duck in a warm, soft pita wrap. I loved this from beginning to end, and unashamedly finished mine and then The Da's also. So. Darn. Good.


TD: I definitely did not expect a stall of deliciously fresh oystersssssss - Clamm's Seafood had South Australian Coffin Bay oysters and Tasmanian East Coast Moulting Bay St Helen's oysters. The coffin bays were definitely more plump, but I did enjoy both x4 hehehehehe


TD: Eleonore's Chateau Yering Hotel had three dishes on their menu! We only just got there in time for their dessert of Caramel Cremeux: vanilla cheesecake, cinnamon crumble, apple. As far as deconstructed desserts went, this was pretty interesting. I really enjoyed the white crumble along the sides, and this dish certainly was not lacking texture.
TG: By this time, I was starting to look severely pregnant. The change to sweet was welcome, but also slightly disappointing, as we'd reached the point of the night where stalls had either run out of their first offerings (for those who didn't offer both at once) or had run out completely. Hence, more dishes were missed in this third room overall. This dessert was not outstanding in any way, but it was plated well, had interesting elements and came together nicely.
TD: Yering Hotel's savouries I sorely wished I'd tried were Yellow Fin Tuna: yuzu, sea vegetables, veal crackers; and Suckling Pig: apples rhubarb, miso, crisp onion.


TD: Pei Modern's chocolate tart, eucalyptus cream was strange. They definitely nailed the infusion of eucalyptus into their cream as it was incredibly strong like Vicks Vaporub. However it didn't stand out as a dessert for me.
TG:This was a strange take on the chocolate tart that didn't seem to work. The eucalyptus, not a flavour I associate with desserts, was overwhelming and did nothing to enhance the biscuit base nor the chocolate cream.


TD: Bottega had a very interesting House made nettle gnocchi with prawns and Jerusalem artichoke chips - I personally loved this one, it had such a strange texture and taste compared to previously more traditional gnocchi.
TG: I sampled some of The Da's and decided I like my gnocchi nettle-free, for future reference. 


TG: Neither The Da nor I sampled this Sicilian cannoloni with buffalo ricotta, chocolate and pistachio, although we had one in front of us for a while. The Da was too busy eating nettle gnocchi and I was too busy avoiding cheese, so Om made it disappear. His take? "It didn't wow me. You could get it as a bigger version in one of the Glen Waverley cafes."


TD: The Baths Middle Brighton featured a beautiful wild mushroom veloute, porcini and truffle and individual apple tart fine with chantilly cream. The mushroom soup was initially quite plain, a thin soup mixed with cream, however as I continued sipping, the flavour became quite enjoyable - perfect for a winter's night.


TD: I wasn't as impressed with The Bath's apple tart, I would have much preferred a thick crusted, suitably caramelised and sugared tarte tatin.
TG: Well and truly stuffed, I managed one bite of this tart, by this point, a tad soggy and sad. You can obtain a lot better elsewhere.


TD: We noticed The Calendar Cheese Company giving away gift bags with the delicious Le Conquerant French Beurre de Baratte Semi-Salted and Unsalted Butter. Advertised as butter made the traditional French way of churning in a baratte, we only expected the best. Check out our review to come!


TD: I also sampled a fair few of their soft cheeses - none of which particularly impressed me, except for perhaps the truffle layered brie.
TG: As for moi, I stayed far away from the cheese smells.

After gushing to friends and family about how exciting and worthwhile the night was, the group who will be attending with us next year will grow substantially. If you want a reminder about when to buy tickets (around April from the Sofitel or Red Kite website) leave a comment below, or subscribe/follow our blog for updates closer to the date!

Tips:
  1. Save that stomach - skip lunch. Hell, skip breakfast! Just don't faint before dinner.
  2. Eat faster, The Da! But not so fast that you feel sick quicker. There is a fine balancing act to this, peoples.
  3. Find a good lighting area and stick to it
  4. Find the stalls who offer both a savoury and sweet dessert option and hit those first, we found we missed a few savoury dishes which ran out in the round room as we only get there later in the night. On that note, there was never a sense of rushing or fear that items were going to run out before you got there, after running for fifteen years, Eat Street definitely have it down to a fine art.
  5. Wear stretchy clothes, or be prepared to loosen belts
  6. Bring more cash in hand to donate to the raffle and fundraisers.

TL;DR We are making this a yearly tradition. See you next year!