Friday, 21 November 2014

The secret ingredient is L O V E

Cooking is always supposed to have the special ingredient of love, as my Nanna used to say. Homestyle cooking is always what I adventure to find when eating out at smaller venues where family is the key to making the cafe or restaurant work.

There dedication shows from that first step you through the door through to the end of the farewell, and today I have found it.

Olive oil & Butter is a family restaurant making all there delights on premises and delivering sensational meals with great service. The cafe is quaint but homely with touches of Greek heritage through out.

From the moment we stepped in front of the door to enter we were greeted with a friendly smile and welcome. Settled down with specials explained and coffee orders taken instantly.

Brunch was in order but hard to decide on what to have. Everything sounds great. So with the trust of the staff I left it in there hands to decide for me, and they impressed.

A delicious and impressive dish of the Egg & Pumpkin breakfast was delivered and gave that WOW factor. Pumpkin and goat curd fritters with kaiserfleisch (similar to brisket), smears of pumpkin puree, poached eggs, pumpkin seed romesco sauce and a soft feta foam.

Poached eggs that if you cut them the wrong way you would be wearing the golden runny yolk. Creamy pumpkin pure and warm scone like fritters was a perfect choice for me.

The other meal on order was the Olive oil & Butter Special of eggs, artisian sausage, kaiserfleisch feta mushrooms, yiyantes (Greek style baked beans), lemonates patates (lemon potatoes) and a tasty housemade relish.

A hearty Greek inspired big breakfast and one that would make for a good crowd pleaser. Everything boomed with flavour but nothing that over powered from another. Once again poached eggs cooked to perfection which I find sometimes even in the most popular cafes is hard to deliver.

Now you can't shy away from a good piece of Saganaki and here I will tell you that this  was perfection. Golden pan fried Sheep's milk feta cheese was topped with fresh lemon juice and was smooth. No squeak as I say when eating it, and I know I have discussed Saganaki before.

I hate when you get a piece of Saganaki and when eating it you feel a squeak as though you have just brushed your teeth and  you rub your finger vigorously over the top to get that squeaky clean effect.

Here I am please to announce, that it is delightful.

Cakes and pastries are at the counter to satisfy that sweet tooth or perhaps if you have guests coming over and you need something to go with that cup of tea.

Everything made on site, and kept to the Greek traditional desserts which are always a good choice.

I always felt welcome to sit and felt more important when the staff took care in packaging the cakes and pastries when we were leaving.

I always say a smile goes a long way, and today it did. I will be more than happy to return and I want to tell you that you should try Olive oil & Butter and you should take friends, so they can tell more people.

I was so happy with my find of such a small family cafe, and they should be recognised for there achievements, food and service.

Till next time, I will be enjoying my pastries with my coffee this afternoon and reminiscing the magnificent Brunch I had. It truly made my day.

Olive Oil & Butter
196 Somerville rd,
9315 1060

Olive Oil & Butter on Urbanspoon

Monday, 10 November 2014

Not tonight Honey

We all have a time in our lives where we cringe at the fact that after a long days work you then have to return home and cook a meal. For some of us it's always, for others it's occasional but there is no denying that there hasn't been a time where all you want to get home change into your sweats or pyjama's and slump on the couch and have delivery bring you your dinner.

Lately moving into the west side of Melbourne we were discovering a shortage on good take away venues that delivered to our door, or still be open when we actually realised that it was getting to that time of evening where we should have taken something out of the freezer about 6 hours ago.

The stumble onto Menulog was a great option that was made aware to us, and to be honest we haven't looked back. A website where they don't just deliver the multiple option of cuisine, but the service is included through till the end, and for those who have used Menulog will understand what I am talking about, but the question is do you know the in's and out of what takes place?

So let me take you on a journey through Menulog and see why this is your saving grace to those nights where dirty pots and pans won't need to become dirty and your kitchen can stay clean for another night.

By placing in your post code to start it will filter the closest restaurants trading for both delivery and pick up. Shortly to follow you can scroll through the many choices in front of you which is listed by population or if you fancy something in particular choose to list in cuisine specific.

Once you have clicked and chosen look through the menu adding your meals into the cart, or it's not what you wanted or can't find what you need scroll back and begin in another restaurant.

Some things that excite me about this is that even if the restaurant is not open, you can always pre order.... yep that's right you can order early hours of the morning if you really want and plan for that night to be either ready for your drive home or at your door for the time you arrive home.

You can identify timings for the restaurants on when trade of your restaurant is available. If it displays a yellow button, the place is closed for that time and you can put in place your pre order.

As you order through each restaurant Menulog will accumulate the total purchases from there to allow you to receive discounts on further purchases.

Once you have chosen your cuisine, scanned through the menu and added your meal to the cart, it's time for you to check out.

Pay by card, PayPal or in cash, it's your choice. Once selected you finish off your details for delivery and let the service of Menulog take over.

You receive a text message for confirmation that your order has been received as well as a confirmation through email.

From there they follow through to the restaurant, and if they haven't confirmed with Menulog you will receive a phone call directly to inform you that first the restaurant has not responded and secondly your transaction will be cancelled and returned to you promptly.

Time of delivery will vary for each restaurant and the night you have ordered, to be expected but I have to say that we have not really had much variance in delivery time which was originally estimated through text.

Of course if you have concerns through the wait period it best be easier to contact the restaurant directly.

On average as you can tell by my wonderful screen shots it takes just a few minutes to enter your order and get through to your confirmation page. I think here it was approximately 3 minutes to order, now when you call someone directly you generally have to wait on a busy Friday at least 5 to even get through. Here there is no talking or time delay, apart from yourself.

After your meal jump back onto the restaurant that you ordered and assist them with feedback., so others can review your thoughts.

Menulog will also store previous orders for you to re-order if it was the perfect meal that you want time and time again.

It is unusual for me to promote something like this I know, but it has saved me from the worst of times when the last thing you want to think about is cooking (rare for me but reality). The choices are always extensive and everything is reasonable and best of all user friendly.

Get on the page and set up your account and happy eating.

Monday, 25 August 2014

An astonishing fair

Saturday morning in Melbourne where the skies are blue, the sun is shining can only inspire every coffee and breakfast lover to roll out of bed earlier and embrace this delightful day.

With the early morning rays over head and the peaceful back streets of Fitzroy brought me to Industry Beans. I have been following them for the past few weeks on social media and every day with out fail I envy anyone who was dining and enjoying there when I wasn't. Glutenous food porn photos only edged me more and more to be a fellow patron and discover the inspirational flavours along with a silky cup of joe.

An Industry Charcuterie was a luscious serve of delicate meats with Jamon Serrano (Spanish cured ham) and Duck bacon served with Manchegro cheese croquette, Pedro Ximenez soaked prunes, tea marbled egg with a salt cured yolk and a celeriac remoulade.

What a sensational starter for grazing the morning away in the sunshine. Rich but delicate flavours of the Duck bacon blends so well with the prunes that have soaked in Pedro Ximenez which is a Spanish grape variety often used in dessert sherry. The rich molasses flavours bring the added sweetness into the combination and adds depth as a whole when enjoying it with any part of the Charcuterie plate.

The tea marbled egg with its translucent salt cured yolk is delicate but adds a separate level of flavour. With it's almost spread like ability of the creamy salted yolk it adds into the meat flavours and cuts through the sweetness of the soaked prunes. A soft balance of the Spanish Manchegro cheese made from Sheep's
milk is soft on the palate but is creamy and delicate surrounded by a golden coating.

What I loved most about this is although the colossal amounts of rich flavours surround this platter there is a fresh element, and this even shows on the side dishes. On the Charcuterie platter we had a creamy soft Celeriac remoulade which did not remove the flavours we were meant to be experiencing, it just added or blended perfectly with the combinations.

Ordering a side of black pudding in most places is just that, but here at Industry Beans they hav
e thought about is more and served it with flavours of beetroot, fresh fennel and warm roasted apple. It's here where I get excited when menu planning has gone to the next stage of really thinking about the additional flavours, that make each element a perfect combination and you aren't wondering to yourself whether it really should be there on the plate or not.

On the sweeter side of our morning with the Almond crusted French toast. Thick soft golden pieces of French toasted bedded on velvety coffee custard, baked apples and served with the combination of lemon and rhubarb curd and coffee caviar.

The tartness of the lemon and rhubarb cuts into the creamy coffee custard that is so smooth and luscious and with the baked apple quarters it gels pleasantly together. It's not long before the plate is devoured and you are left licking the plate. The coffee caviar are fresh bursts of coffee so you don't loose that flavour with having such tartness from the curds.

Coffee here is an array of varieties to awaken any palate, and go for a cold drip selection to enhance your brew knowledge and toning.

The casual atmosphere and laid back feel, goes hand in hand with the smiling team, who with out you knowing has taken your order and delivered with out feeling as though there is a wait. Meals hitting the table promptly and gracefully with out a doubt is what you are hoping for and here it delivers.

Industry Beans are delivering you a fun beginning to your day with an inspirational menu, that will make you return and purchase some fresh beans to take on your way home. The dishes are eye catching and the menu reads enticingly making you bound out of bed to get down there before the morning rush hour.

Industry Beans
Crn Fitzroy and Rose Street
9417 1034

Industry Beans on Urbanspoon

Monday, 28 July 2014

I have Gormandized

Fairly new to the scene and making a significant entrance would be Ascot Food Store. A perfect possie for anyone wanting an explicit menu followed by outstanding service, all with smiles and grace.

There is nothing on this menu, that I wouldn't want to eat. Every dish is exciting within itself, and for me it's like a kid in a lolly shop who can't decide whether to get the 5 mates for 5 cents or some musk sticks.

It's not a standard affair for breakfast dishes, it's bold luscious flavours intwined together to lift and gage the love of food that everyone is on the hunt for.

Wild pine mushrooms, with parsley garlic butter on a toasted brioche, delicate pecorina and finished with a rich duck egg sets a new standard to just mushrooms on toast.

Soft toasted brioche slice soaks the juices from the grilled mushrooms, and combined with a duck egg that has a runny golden yolk, truly takes you away from your morning blues. Mix it up with a little side of pork belly instead of bacon, and you have dies and gone to heaven.

Such bold flavours from the egg and the mushrooms mixed with the butter did scare me with the intensity of richness, but it is perfectly balanced.

Fried egg with green mango salsa, peanut praline and pork belly is a succulent dish that pork lovers can not pass.

Golden scrumptious pork belly falls apart and has a sweet mouth watering crackle. Balanced with a fried whole egg and off set with a refreshing green mango salsa and the nutty substance of praline is unusual but perfect.

Although finding this dish a little dry, however the runny yolk does fix this. Ensure that all compnants are eaten together to allow for an even better experience of joy when eating. Add a side of avocado and goats cheese, if you find it still to dry.

If you have a sweet tooth, you can't go past the coconut sago pudding served with freeze dried lychees, nigella seeds and resting in a lime syrup. Perfect sago I have to say and the best way I have has it in some time. Those bursts of freeze dried lychees were awesome and a fight to the last one when sharing.  Enjoyed with a  70% hot chocolate, it's not a disappointment.

Fresh delicate flavours with hints of zest but off set with the fresh bursts of raspberries makes for a very enjoyable dish...... maybe not for breakfast as for my taste a little too sweet for a first meal of the day, but hey.....  it you have that desire for pancakes first thing you would need to go for this or the other dish that caught my sweet tooth's eye was the brioche with spiced raspberries, macadamia nuts and creme fraiche. YUUUUM!

What I loved about Ascot Food Store was the amazing attentive service. I have never in my days had so many staff if I was enjoying my meal. It may sound as though it's almost too much, but it was done so casually those who don't work in the trade wouldn't think twice about it.

The team was under the pump and everything was done briskly and they are all still smiling. No intense ringing of bells for service, not loud chatter from other waiters, no screaming of coffee orders, it was peaceful and a perfect enjoyment.

I have certainly found my new haven in my hood. And I know I will be going back, because I have to get through this amazing menu, I don't want to miss out on any dish.

Ascot Food Store
320 Ascot Vale rd
Moonee Ponds
9370 2649

Ascot Food Store on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Awe-inspiring Masterpiece

The salt waves are rapidly hitting the shores of Half moon bay, and I'm sure you have read that in the last week that part of their pier has been washed ashore, but this shouldn't deter you from venturing down to Cerberus Beach house for an impeccable meal.

Cerberus is an outstanding family restaurant that is here to separate themselves from the surrounding competition and deliver something so mouth watering, that you will be in an awe of amazement and happiness.

Today I had the honour of meeting Cerberus's new Head Chef James Blight. Impressive talents have been brought to us from UK Michelin kitchens and years experience through the Private Dining RACV club.

Speaking with James I was able to get in touch with his inspiration and how Cerberus Beach House will create the best dinning experience you could ask for.

To be able to separate themselves from the basic calamari and chips that most of the Brighton - Moordialloc coast restaurants show on there menu's, Cerberus continues to stand out on presenting nothing but freshness and perfectly balanced cuisine that honestly can not be found anywhere close by.

A vibrant Ocean Trout tartare with seaweed and Jabari vinegar was outstanding.A perfect palate cleanser for the beginning of what was to come. Lightly cured pieces of ocean trout sat vibrantly surrounded by a seaweed sauce with hints of apple, fresh crisp cucumber rolls and shaved radish. The flavours were so natural, that you can tell that love of fish went into this.

To follow was something I will dream many nights about, and whilst I write this I am smiling wishing I could have another plate in front of me. Seared scallops with braised ox tail on a bed of celeriac pure, caper berries and rosemary wafers.

I can't express enough how glorious this dish is, and it has to be now one of my top 10 favourites. Seared scallops were so sweet and perfectly opaque, matched with a tender and rich ox tail that brought so much depth and flavour. The most smoothest and creamiest puree bundles everything together. Flawless is all I can say, add a little bit of everything on the wafer that dissolves but hits you with rosemary flavours you too will be wowed in amazement and glory. Could I perhaps say defiantly one to go on the food porn charts.

Golden sweet pork belly makes for anyone to become gluttonous in eating. 12 hour slow cooked Pork belly served with burnt bulbs and nasturtiums and confit swede. Pork that simply falls a part when you gently place your fork through is everyones dream, of which it has come true. Ash like onion sauce infused with squid ink truly enhances the sweetness of the pork. My question is, how come by crackle never turns out this way, crisp sweet and golden but not so crisp that your knife cant cut through the crackle.

Rich and tender Short Rib is another dish that simply falls apart naturally and holds beautiful meaty flavours that makes for a hearty winter dish. Slow cooked Black Label Short Rib accompanied with a parsnip puree, shaved cornichons, confit radish and finished with a truffle sauce.

Bold flavours a plenty with the infusion of truffle and short rib, but honestly you wouldn't want to experience anything other than this during winter. The crisp bread crust adds subtle texture and breaks up the creamy puree and succulent meat.

Dessert of a sample plate for two is a perfect way to bring your evening with a close. A sample of the Souffle of the day - in this case apricot souffle with raspberry sorbet, Pistachio and olive oil cake served with poached rhubarb and buttermilk sorbet and who could shy away from the Bitter chocolate mousse with hazelnut feuillentine with candied orange and served with grand marnier sorbet. Every part of the plate stood out on their own and made for a decadent, naughty and sweet ending.

Dishes such as the mains in the city would not even flinch in asking for $35-$40.00, it is outstanding that Cerberus continues to hold it's true to there focus of family and you will not see a main above $30.00, and entree's around the $17.50 mark.

Cerberus Beach House aims to deliver the best from their produce and not damage the wallets that we are grasping onto so tightly these days. It's a friendly and warm atmosphere with the team being outstanding in service. Owner Jamie Helliwell, Head Chef James Blight and team of Cerberus Beach House are here to showcase city dining in a place where family and friends can gather or perhaps for a romantic evening out.

It's funny though, speaking with James and understanding the industry myself I simply asked the question, is this what you always wanted to do? The answer NO! But surprisingly it's clear that this was what James was made to do. There is no shying away from the 11-12 hour days, the glory of his job is presented in front of you, and that's got to make anyone feel proud.

If you haven't been already, and know how much I rave about Cerberus then once again you are missing out and if you're reading about Cerberus Beach House for the first time, please don't wait any longer.... go there!

Capture the flavours and enjoy the view...... There's nothing else that needs to be said.

Cerberus Beach House
Boat Shed 12
Half Moon Bay, Black Rock
9533 4028

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Yum takes a new level of meaning

Some may think that Pizza is all about the double cheese thick oily base, and that the best time to enjoy it is lounged back at home in front of the T.V.  However it has not always been the case.

For years we have continued to change the recipes and given us the perception that this is how it should be. This perception is wrong. I was shown today the true balance that should be recaptured to each of you to how a true Pizza should be.

Naples, Italy invented the pizza 200 years ago where it was to be a nutritious and healthy meal. That's right I said Healthy. Now when you think about all your places where you eat pizza I am fairly certain you can not place a healthy label on them.

Melt, located in Windsor has brought us an outstanding Wood fire pizzeria. Everything is made to order in a walk the line environment where you can happily choose a Classic pizza variety or go crazy and design your own.

Dough that is no oil, fat or sugar is made on site from a recipe that was taught to owners Dan and Elise whilst in Naples. I can not describe how amazing this recipe is, but to say perfection is not even enough how truly amazing this is.

We asked Dan today to give us a classic and what he would love to create, and by golly gee both were as good as each other.

The Classic of Hot salami which sits on top of a delicate tomato base finished off with caramelised onion, black olives, fresh chilli and a touch of Mozzarella.

For the free styler we got to devour a delicious Pesto base covered in sausage, red onion, roasted pumpkin, mozzarella and a touch of oregano.

The great thing about Melt is the process of the creation. Watch the dough be rolled, choose from the locally sourced, fresh and perfectly presented produce that are displayed in front of you for your choice, chat with the staff and watch the art of your pizza come together.

By the time you have got to the end and selected a drink at the bar, your pizza is ready and possibly at the table before you. That's right it's that quick.

Here you all are sitting at home waiting for your delivery that takes approximately 30 minutes and be just warm. But here I am driven out for 20 minutes and got my pizza in 2 (decision making not included in this time frame - that would clearly vary. It's almost like a kid in a lolly shop for me).

The saying 'Less is more' truly comes to play to make the perfect pizza and as you can see, it may not look like the pizza you're used to but it is truly going to change your mind as to how pizza should be.

It's so light that it's almost like the base disappears as you enjoy the surrounding flavours of your toppings.  The hits of spice in the Salmi pizza is softened by the caramelised onion and smoothed out by the touches of mozzarella.

The creation of the sausage pizza is bliss as soon as you take your first bite. Sweet pumpkin flavours, balance between the pesto base pork sausage. This one became the hit list of recreation for next time.

The enjoyment had eating pizza was remarkably strange, in a great way. Usually you eat pizza and straight away you feet fat, bloated and under satisfied. But here I felt great. I felt I had eaten healthy and their was not anxiousness or internal voices saying 'umm you shouldn't have eaten that'.

Melt is a great place for those who want to get together for a casual catch up with friends, have a drink and eat pizza. It's perfect. Tables for 4, areas for date night and an area for a gathering of 8 where you can have your own secluded room so you don't annoy the remaining diners with being too loud.

During Summer you should catch some raise in the outside court yard that engages warmth and bright colours.

The interior is warm and homey, with touches of Edison and hanging terrariums. Casual dining at it's best, and there is only welcome feelings whilst dining.

Owners Dan and Elise have put their hearts into every part of Melt and you can see it when they smile. They are proud in what they deliver and hats off to them for the hard work they have put in to showcase nothing but amazing pizza, that is nothing but enjoyable.

It's great to see people so proud of what they showcasing, and continue to extend their service from the moment of walking through the door to the moment they say farewell as you leave.


171 Chapel Street
9533 7110

Melt Pizza on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 19 June 2014

1 UP

I figured that with all the addiction going towards Mario Cart 8, and also me becoming engaged with the world of Nintendo games for the first time at the age of 30+ (shameful I know) there is nothing better than to discuss the wonders of 8 bit.

8Bit, located in Footscary has become a rapid hit on the burger front with the inspiration of incorporating the game world into the food culture.

Now don't judge me, but not being a gamer myself I seemed very vague and didn't understand the titles of the burgers, but my wonderful partner in crime, Paul has since educated me into the world of Nintendo. Not saying that I didn't know who Donkey Kong or Mario was, but the games themselves was something I didn't get into growing up.

So know that I have been drawn into this society of WiiU I feel even more excited to speak about 8 bit with the enthusiasm that you feel when you hit your opponent with a red shell, or you get that boost to push you over the line to come first.

Accentuated around parts of nintendo games where you can aspire to continue to feel part of the world by grabbing a 1 Up Burger or a Golden Axe Burger 8 bit draws the attention from all that pass by on the lunch hour.

I went for the Altered Beast; Beef pattie with cheese, grilled onions, lettuce, bacon, 8bit sauce and BBQ sauce. The other was the Double Dragon; Double beef pattie, bacon, mustard, cheese, pickles and lettuce with 8bit sauce. Both burgers were on sweet burger buns and the patties were juicy and not greasy.

The flavours were fresh and delicious and lead to a very enjoyable burger. My favourite thing is that the burgers come in what I would call a 1/2 box. Something you can easily grab with two hands and enjoy eating your burger with out the sauce dripping down your shirt. Thumbs up to that idea!

The accompaniments of chips are always a good choice, and here they are golden and crunchy. Onion rings are not my favorite from my travels, more I guess like how a fish and chippery would deliver. But then again they are still light and have a lovely crunch and sweet onion ring centre.

We did venture to the next step and although exploding at the seams we grasped our hands to share the 1942 hot dog. Grilled Bratwurst dog with pickle relish, mustard mayo, curry ketchup and slaw. Full flavoured and delicious. This dog delivered everything you would expect and along with the burgers made for very happy eating.

Now without fail you usually have the burger and shake combination, so don't be shy in ordering shakes here. Salted Caramel, Peanut butter, Strawberry cheesecake or Chocolate bar. Any of these flavours will perfectly wash down either burger or dog.

It was a great stop by at 8bit, and I couldn't believe how quickly it filled up with take aways flying out the door and people crossing their fingers to get the better characters as their numbers as they sat down to dine. The service was quick and the staff friendly even with working frantically over the lunch period, just after they have opened their doors.

I will surly be returning, but for now I am headed off to do some laps as Lakitu on my Yoshi bike with Cloud gliders.

8 Droop Street
9687 8838
8bit. on Urbanspoon