Saturday, 25 July 2015

Irish Passion

When I think of the Irish my mind used to think of four leaf clovers, leprechaun and stew. But now when I think Irish my mind instantly says The Last Jar.

Close to the Victoria Market this Irish Pub sits on the corner inviting all those who are keen on Guinness and pints. Although I am not either one of those I was told about their story and how amazing their food was. Being an enthusiast of those 2 things there is nothing keeping me away from entering through the doors.

A dark bar is what strikes you first with the traditional Bar set up and men on stools catching up over a pint on a Friday afternoon. To the back is a day lite restaurant area decked with 1980's tables and vinyl chairs leaving for a very casual and now what we call retro decor.

On the specials are the Sweetbreads served on a glistening and silky pumpkin puree, roasted hazelnuts and pickled mushrooms.  Heavenly and a well balanced dish, that is almost plate licking worthy. The sweetbreads cooked perfectly and adds a caramelised richness into that perfect sweet pumpkin pure.

Out waiter told us that she cried when she had the chance to taste this dish because it was so good. If your waiter tells you that when she is explaining the specials to you, you should dive onto it and enjoy the pleasures.

The Guinness Welsh Rabbit smeared on house made toast with a grilled cheese is intense and rich. Share with a friend or be greedy and eat it on your own. Either way you must have this. I'm going back just for this.

A pot of mussels with fennel and chorizo sitting in a cider broth is a great light option. It's something that if you enjoy seafood will understand that it is a feel good moment getting into a bowl of fresh mussels that are all open and soaking in a light broth. The slight salt and spice captured from the specks of grilled chorizo and the freshness of fennel is always a perfect accompaniment.

The Scotch egg is so different to those that you usually enjoy. A soft egg surrounded by apple and celeriac coated in a golden crumb is sensational. It's crispy, flavoursome and encases a rich soft yolk.

 I have to say that I am overzealous about the Last Jar. The food is more than what you would expect from an Irish pub. It's taking food to the next level on keeping the Irish flavours alive but incorporating a more modern technique.

The thing that got me most excited is that they make as much as possible on site from scratch. From the butter that you spread on your in house made bread, of which it dense and on this day was a combination of a honey oat and white to the plates of unbelievable flavours.

I enjoyed everything on this one sitting and trust me I will be going back until I have eaten the entire menu.

There is true passion in this kitchen and it shows. When you sit and listen to your waiter express her excitement on the specials and through the explanation of the menu to the deliverance of your meals it really touches a spot in my heart.

This is why I live for the food industry, to find places like this.

The Last Jar
616 Elizabeth Street
Carlton North
9348 2957

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Yes Sir, Yes Sir

A place that has been open for more than a couple of years in the food environment lately I feel is achieving a mile stone and is clearly doing something right in capturing the publics attention.

It's a hard industry with tackling on the competition and ensuring you are staying up to date with the trends and making it modern and none the less eye catching and amazing for the consumer.

Three Bag Full is truly delivering what we want and they are doing it well. Warm decor with a large dining hall that is filling up early on a Sunday morning with happy go lucky diners for there morning brew.

An Ethiopian blend with a slight citrus taste is the brew of choice but is bold and perfect for the initial wake up if it is your first for the day. With the rays of sun beaming through onto the tables through the large windows really helps warm you up and relax you.

Now let me tell you how excited I was for my choice this morning. As I gazed over the menu's and across to the specials there was 1 dish that cried out to me. Don't get me wrong the menu is amazing and well thought about but this 1 dish was like a 5 year old child wanting my attention.

The Ricotta Hotcakes are seriously heaven sent. I'm being serious. This ricotta hot cake was topped with mulled wine fruits, orange infused marscapone, toasted almond flakes, lemon verbena and finished off with crystallised white chocolate.

Tell me you too wouldn't go and order that.

Beautiful light and flavoursome. Soft slightly spiced fruits added a subtle sweetness and blended well with the marscapone cheese. This dish wasn't overpowering in sweetness which you often find when ordering hotcakes/ pancakes for the morning breakfast which is what I think made me really excited about the dish.

On the specials board was French toast stuffed with spinach and grilled mushroom, served with poached eggs. This too was a gorgeous and rich breakfast which delivered a harmonious dish. For the savoury choice I would have dived into this one myself but my sweet tooth was taking charge today. Paul enjoyed it and would order it again too if he had the chance.

You can't go to wrong with a combination of mushrooms, spinach egg and a slight touch of cheese. They are ingredients that are meant to be together.

Three Bags Full offer a great dining vibe whilst enjoying the pleasures of just a coffee or a meal. Read the paper or catch up with some friends. The service is friendly, welcoming and engaged which always adds to your experience.

Three Bags Full
60 Nicholson Street
9421 2732

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Friday, 10 July 2015

The Kettle isn't Guilty

When I think about food I think about the combinations that address your palate when eating and where the design or story of the dish has come from. Is there a story of where the ingredients have come from, have they been gown by them or perhaps is there thought behind the delicate and natural flavours and textures?

I ventured to the Kettle Black and really happy that the time had come for me to sit down and eat here. With a beautiful natural decor, ceiling to floor windows and the feel of an organic nature expresses a calm retreat from the busy life.

The menu speaks delicate and pretty, and if you have seen the amount of pictures on social media it proves to be just that.

I wanted to experience the blend of flavours to get the most out of the experience, so I headed for the King Island Crayfish roll with a light spread of lime and yuzu mayonnaise and finished with sorrel and local leaves. The roll itself was meant to be an Ash roll however as all restaurants experience supplier dramas today it was in a squid ink roll. I'm not complaining, I got excited about it.

The flavours were light and delicate and overall a pleasure to eat. Sweet cray meat off set with the lime mayo and with the sorrel adds a slight sour element. As the waiter expressed the squid ink roll would not over power how the dish is supposed to taste and with that he was right. I would although go back again to have it with the Ash roll just to see what these fine chefs have invented.

 The seasonal mushroom dish was exquisite with a combination of both cooked and raw mushrooms, seasoned with mushroom powder and served with a fresh goats curd. There is nothing I can say that will make you understand how exciting this dish is.

You can often go to other cafes and get a serve of mushrooms where they are smothered in butter and seasoned beautifully but those dishes do not compare to this.

Delicate sautéed mushrooms combined with the raw added an extra level of flavour and texture. You can truly respect the earthy flavours and really enjoy the pleasure of this one vegetable. 

The final and most refreshing palate experience is the house made coconut yoghurt. Light coconut yoghurt is made for eating pleasure with the balance of citrus powder, grains, seeds, nuts, rhubarb and delicate sweet fresh fruits. Not only do you get excited when this one plate is delivered to your table due to it's picture perfect presentation but the flavour combinations will take you on w whirl wind of adventures. Texture balances and although a sweet dish it is not so sweet that you feel ill.

It was a pleasure to experience such subtle combinations that made for a well balanced experience. Kettle Black will do nothing but grow in delivering such mind opening dishes that will excite not only foodies but anyone who comes to gain an experience.

Sourcing perfect produce and making it different to the competition is what makes Kettle Black different to everyone else in the Melbourne vicinity. But you need to experience it yourself to truly understand.

The Kettle Black
50 Albert Street
South Melbourne
9088 0721

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Boom Boom Shake the Room

Some like it hot and some like it well...... you know how it goes but on this occasion you all must like it hot.

An extraordinary Jamaican Restaurant in Yarraville 'Bax Food' is delivering nothing but delicious and spicy cuisine and all things Jerk.

The interior is vibrant in colours and welcomes by staff ensures to be homely.  The bench styled seating makes for a cozy atmosphere and a casual ordering system somewhat like a yum cha style.

With cocktails on the way and after a friendly chat to our waiter food has taken over our thoughts. Spice and heat is nothing to cringe at, but more to understand the threshold you can enjoy. The boundaries of heat to break you
but yet still enjoy the complete dish.

To order you will need to understand that it is casual and there is no line between entree and main, unless you order in that manor.

To begin we set our mouths on an electrifying wake up with Jerk Roasted corn with coconut and a jerk  mayo. Sweet succulent corn with a slight burnt Jerk flavouring and added heat from the mayo, and clear wake up for your mouth with the explosions of flavour.

Shortly followed on the Jerk flavouring was the Picpaapeppa Hot Wings. One dish to truly start those hot sweats with, but the chicken is succulent and so tender that the meat just falls away and melts in your mouth. Truly outstanding.

For something to reduce the heat, or for those who shy away for such powerful flavoured dishes I would look at enjoying the Pull pork sliders with a slight honey BBQ flavour and a hint of slaw on a sweet brioche bun, will truly assist you with a refresh on the palate before you continue taking on the heat or something to enjoy for those that say no to thee burn.

For the main we went for the Goat curry which is served with potato roti. By golly me this dish is so incredible it's unbelievable. Beautiful full spiced flavoured curry that glistens under the light  with the most well treated and tender goat I have ever had.

Match it with some slaw or some rice and happy days you will want to eat it every night. This truly was the most magnificent dish of the night and I am still talking about it days after.

Dessert brought a much desired refresher to the tastebuds with the sweet potato cake and fresh grapefruit with condensed milk. The sweet potato cake is fudgy and fairy heavy but lovely and sweet like a pumpkin pie. With the grapefruit it is on the other end of the rector scale bringing a tart and sour combination. if you combine the 2 well it's a fantastic balanced combination that your palate will thank you for.

I really did have a great adventure here and although I did reach my threshold of spice, it was absolutely delicious to say the least. It was a truly a powerful flavoured evening and one that I will go back to time and time again.

Bax Food Co
83 Gamon Street
9689 2854

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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Absolute Perfection

A spectacular and eye capturing glass display show case sweet perfections of cakes, macaron, chocolates and biscuits. Silky glistening glazes and ganache shine under the lights so perfect that you could see yourself in it's reflection.

Welcome to Bibelot.

It is a wonder why it has taken me this long to finally visit this sensation of dessert experience.

Chocolate that runs on tap should surly be the breaking point to visit to anyone who either is the general chocoholic or has a passion for dessert eating.

To the front of the long counter as you walk through ceiling to floor glass doors is the ice cream area where creamy ice-cream is served and smothered with a chocolate sauce fresh from the flowing tap.

Further down are cabinets upon cabinets of decadent desserts and treats, where you drool over and become indecisive of what you actually came in for.

Bright macarons of traditional and unusual flavours fly out the door packages beautifully for the perfect gift or just for you to enjoy in the comfort of your home where you don't have to hide how many you end up eating by yourself.

Individual cakes are perfectly lined in a row, and makes for even more excitement and becomes hard to choose. The flawless cake creations are unbelievable to look at with each cake consistent to the other. Inspiring to all patisserie students and all master chef lovers.

For me it was too hard to choose so there is nothing better to choose from thank the tasting plate selection that was easy to share between 2 - 4 people. Accompanied with a coffee or other hot drink you can relax and catch up easily with a friend.

Showcasing a selection from the cabinet in smaller sizes again, there was nothing but amazing quality and fantastic combinations of flavours.

The sweetness of the cakes are not over powering where you need to stop eating because you have obtained that sugar/ sweetness overload and our body starts shutting down.

Here is is more the balance of the fruit flavours  on some cases the chocolate flavours where it naturally comes through without the addition of extra sugars.

To go amongst friends is a must especially if you love the catching up over coffee and cake experience. I had a magnificent afternoon in the South Melbourne sun with my sister for a catch up, and then travelled through the Market as an additional touch. You may as well, it's just beside you.

And if you don't like having people envy you for going well then the answer is simple. Take something home with you. You can say you brought them something and then make them share it with you so you don't miss out. It's a double win.

285-287 Conventry street
South Melbourne
9690 2688

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Monday, 22 June 2015

Polí nóstimos (It's very Tasty)

It's not what you know, it's who you know and for most diners and foodies the fact you can say you've gone to George Calambaris's restaurant you can tell that these people enjoy to name drop.

Greek cuisine is always an amazing choice when you want to experience natural flavours with a slight char grilled flavour and balanced off with acidity and freshness.

Here at Hellenic Republic it all about the congregation of your family and friends and to enjoy marvellous creations of the traditional cuisine but refined to a delicate and exquisite style.

A choice to design your own evening of shared plates or go for the style of designed sharing plates chosen by the team. I tend to always enjoy someone else choosing my dishes, it's as though they are giving me a surprise for the night that always makes it for an exciting dining experience.

A serve of soft golden croquettes that were a sensation within themselves and smoked mackerel on a bed of beans and tomato was a great starter for the evening.

The croquettes were heavenly and creamy and retained that divine golden crunch coating. The mackerel was fresh and brought a pleasant palate cleanse to what was ahead.

To follow was Saganaki with sweet peppered figs. Away from the traditional way of serving with lemon, this lovely piece of cheese served on a warm grill plate achieved everything that you would expect. Delicate cheese flavours sweetened with the glorious syrup and fig. As the plate cooled you gained a slight toffee addition which added that finger licking experience.

Spit roasted Chicken with oregano and garlic as well as some lamb was succulent and tender. Served with tzatziki and slaw these natural flavours burst with great complexion. It was hard to not devour this quickly. Subtle flavours really helped the meat shine it's natural flavours and a slight smoke from the spit roasting.

 Charred prawns and grilled fish served with a grain and pomegranate salad was fresh and perfect. The prawns sang songs of deliciousness as you ate them and took you away on an ocean cruise (almost). Plump and juicy prawns accompanies with the delicate fish was a great way to complete the mains for the evening.

Dessert was a combination of donuts and rice pudding. Golden honey soaked donuts with a light centre, chocolate and hazelnuts was a sweet and joyous experience. To join was the delightful creamy pudding finished with pistachios, almond shortbread and salted caramel
Both were pretty tasty and made for a pleasant end to the night.

Tonights experience lead to be a rather generous and tasting experience of which would make us dine again.

Hellenic Republic
434 Lygon Street
9381 1222

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Saturday, 20 June 2015

Corn Bread

1 cup Self raising flour
1 cup Polenta
1 cup Milk
250g Cheese, grated
2 Cayenne peppers, yellow
3 Jalapeño peppers, some seeds removed (dependant on personal heat)
1 Zucchini, grated
1 Creamed corn (regular can)
2 eggs, beated
Salt and pepper to taste


Combine all dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add milk and eggs, mix until combined.

Stir through cheese, creamed corn and zucchini

Finley chop chillies removing seeds to your acquired taste. 
The more seeds the more bite of heat you will have.
Stir through into mix.

Grease a loaf pan or muffin tin dependant on how you would enjoy eating.

Spoon mix into your prepared pan.

Bake in a 200c oven for 30 minutes until golden and firm.

Remove and allow to cool or enjoy warm.

To serve spread with butter or a slight smear of honey.