Thursday, 16 April 2015

Top of it's Game

It's with no doubt as to why Top Paddock is hitting the high charts of the latest places to eat.

On the busiest road (Church st) in Richmond Top Paddock knows how to make you relax from the daily grime.

Decked out to glamorous measures with a modern interior, high bench seating, central barista station and calm exterior seating you almost believe your in such a busy location.

On such a pristine afternoon you don't need to question on where to sit. Overlooking luscious elm trees on s tiny parkland area it is tranquil and relaxing. A perfect place to escape.

The menu screams to you with freshness and amazing flavour combinations. Almost to hard to decide and to be honest I wish I was dining with more people so I could take more photos. Or maybe I could have turned into a freak and just taken photos of the surrounding tables so you can see how amazing each dish looked.

An inspiring tasteful dish of Pan fried local snapper served upon a tortilla with fresh avocado, tomato, rd chilli and a fried egg. Squeeze a little acidity of lime and this dish explodes with light fresh flavours.

Pleasant for those looking for something light. The snapper was cooked delicately and remained succulent. Hints of chilli powered through the lime coating and balanced well with the juicy tomatoes.

A tasty Fresh Queensland mud crab incased in a brioche bun with a fresh dill and fennel salad and lime mayo was exquisite or as I quote my mother in law "to die for".

This picturesque burger not only looked tasty but shone through it's flavours. Add a little hint of chilli if you love fresh chilli to heighten the flavours even more.

Both meals went down with a lovely fruity sav blanc and made it for a perfect grazing afternoon and catch up with friends.

Top Paddock focusses and commits to traceability of there produce. They ensure that full support are provided to their suppliers to deliver there visions and passions.

For this I know that there deliverance of meals will showcase bold flavours and amazing passion in the kitchen. It makes me really love what they do.

Top Paddock
658 Church Street
9429 4332

Top Paddock on Urbanspoon

From Sea to Plate

Claypots seafood bar in St. Kilda has been operating for a near 20 years. This quaint restaurant ensures in serving fresh sustainable seafood to your plate and a forever changing menu.

The small dining area is faintly lite and decked out with old victorian caboose doors and seating with a calm court yard adjacent.  At the front entrance you can pre gather your friends around the bar for a chat and drink before seating.

For a Monday evening from as early as 6pm this restaurant is full of fellow diners. with a small area the noise level is loud but with a large group like us, I'm sure it was us making the most of it.

But I was not here for a romantic dinner out, Tonight we eat!

For a light starter we all shared a Meze plate with fresh Turkish bread and dip. Fresh cucumber and tomato along side some marinated mushrooms, fresh skate and calamari was a great beginning.

While enjoying the plate an array of charred seafood and melting garlic butter wafted through the restaurant. It was the sign that dinner was going to be amazing. There is nothing better than heightened senses when eating out and when you can identify something so delicious as garlic and gar grilling you have to admit it gets you excited.

Claypots Garlic prawns was served next, cooked whole these Queensland prawns were HUGE! They say that if these were taken off the menu there would be a riot at the door. I would probably be one of those rioters if it happened.

Delicious flavours of garlic and herbs had soaked into the shell of the prawns and theres nothing better afterwards than to grab fresh bread and soak up the butter sitting on the bottom of the pan. More of that please!

To follow was whole Chilli cram and mussels. An infusion of chilli and lemon had coated the crab and the meat was so delicate and tasty I am glad we got a whole one each otherwise there would have been a fight.  With this dish you need to get in and get dirty. Grab those crab crackers and make sure you get every inch of the crab meat.

The whole fishes of Crispy skin Silver Dory with Sambal was truly one ugly fish but the flavours were strong and meat tender. Accompanied with potatoes and wilted greens the fish was not so ugly when you ate it. It did get you going back for more.

My favourite of the night was the Coral Trout coated with a sesame sot and ginger coating. Pretty on the plate and in the mouth.

This pleasant infused fish served with rice and asian greens

Simple flavours done well to such a succulent fish. Slightly sweet but the fish itself is a sweet type of sigh and one of my top picks in the fish world, it actually over takes the salmon placement.

Big sigh like these two tend to scare people. The questions that often come with it is can you remove the head - I don't eat fish with heads or how do you eat it.

The thing is that fish like this served in restaurants such as Claypots have been treaded so well with respect that neither of these questions should be asked.

The flesh falls off straight way causing no fuss to the fish that you need to flip over. As for the head the cheeks are where the flavour is best, you don't have to eat the eye if you don't want..... Did that just make you cringe?

Other things that may take your interest is there claypot dishes such as the Cajun style Flathead. Similar to a Gumbo the ingredients are all cooked in the same pot and served to your table.

A little easier to tackle if I have scared you off from the large fishes of the sea, which I really hope I haven't.

It's funny, a lot of us say they don't like seafood but somewhere or somehow I think we are just unsure. People play it safe when it comes to seafood and things like dishes that in your mind are to difficult to eat make you say I don't like it.

Seafood often is a sweet meat and the nature of destination and where it comes from changes the flavours completely. Whether it be from muddy, fresh or salt waters each individual fish and crustacean takes on a new form.

Dining in places such as Claypots can help you fins the seafood you like. They know the sources of where there produce has come from and the flavours it's suited with.

Claypots Seafood Bar
213 Barkly street
St. Kilda
9534 1282

Claypots Seafood & Wine on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

You Beautiful Thing - Make A Wish

Recently my apple of my eye and key to my heart Paul celebrated his last years of adventures of being in his 30's (sorry Paul but it's true - you can laugh at me when I reach the same point I promise). Paul always says he's easy to buy for but from every member of the family we can say it's not true. A humble fella that is happy with anything, but as a wife I feel I need to impress and deliver like he does for me every anniversary and birthday.

A dinner and quiet venture out was planned to somewhere that we had tried to get in before without a booking but failed. Of 2 people who have travelled the restaurant life for years should know that a table on a Friday night with no booking is hard to come by. So with no hesitation my wish list was looked up for a special occasion and a table booked.

This is what I've been waiting for, a dining experience to take me away on a journey to celebrate anothers special day.

Saint Crispen to some is known as a Christian patron saint of cobblers, tanners, leather workers and curriers, but here in Collingwood we know him as a Restauranteur who is serving us fine cuisine for all that venture.

A scrumptious 7 course birthday dinner on a Tuesday was nothing more than venturous I could assure you. Most people are lucky to get through a 3 course meal let alone a 7. But I wanted to impress remember.... but are those eyes bigger than the stomach you ask..... well honestly Yes but so totally worth every nickel.

A palate cleanser to start (not part of the 7 courses by the way) was refreshing and defiantly a palate starter to what was headed our way.

First course a salt baked celeriac dish with goats curd, dill and an apple crumb. You know when you taste something amazing you want to devour it so fast you would end up forgetting what you just had? Well you have to refrain from doing it when dining here. Savour the flavours and love every mouthful. Light goats curd with a slight salty celeriac was delicate and delicious.

Second course was a Kangaroo tatrare with native palm, warrigal greens and mastic. Mastic is like an opaque gum that is hard and brittle with a refreshing flavour similar to pine or cedar. This very delicate dish was full flavoured and with light peach flavours to accompany the kangaroo, I would have to say was a perfect dish.

But I have to say my favorite dish of the night and which contained a mind blowing experience for me was the Bass Grouper on a bed of black rice and verdale olives with a smashing squid ink. This is my suggestion of what to have when dining here. The balance of flavour combinations were exquisite and one that I did devour but will still rave about it.

Next was the Pork served with charred cabbage, nashi kimchi and shitake with a miso broth. Beautiful pork from Western plains cooked to mouth watering perfection and dressed with asian flavours. The crackle was golden and crisp with a slight sweet flavour but melted away heavenly in the mouth.

Are you full yet???

By this point I was counting how many dishes we had devoured, but so happy with the fact that the dishes were so extraudinary. Knowing that there was still 3 courses left I was worried I wouldn't fit thm in. I had to stand up and give myself more room so I could finish hat I had started.

Glazed lamb neck with quinoa, beetroot and eggplant was intense and rich. glorious tender lamb neck with fresh beetroot was amazing but for me too rich after eating so many other m
eals. I had to stop half way. A great winter or cool night meal for sure.

Dessert came in 2 parts, thats right I said it 2 desserts. Ot's every man's dream isn't it  - well at least it's mine. You could never refuse a dessert let alone 2.

It's all about the strawberries with the Strawberry and goats cheese dessert served with white chocolate and logan. Freeze dried strawberries with a strawberry sorbet. Refreshing and pleasant and left you wanting a bigger serve so you could lick the plate even more.

The final meal was a decadent and delicious Chocolate custard with rosemary, cumquat and hazelnut. Together this dessert held powerful flavours somewhat savoury but still held it's sweet rich flavours. tart cumquat cut through the dark chocolate flavours and then good old rosemary came along and made it whole.

A dinner like this is not your usual night out thats for sure and needs to be saved for that special occasion. But if you are going here the prices of a 2 course is exceptionally reasonable with the quality of produce and amazing flavour combinations that they deliver.

If you are wanting to do a night like this make sure you book for the second sitting, it would be a very tight schedule to eat this in 2 hours if you want to enjoy it.

We had an amazing night and the service was pleasant through out the evening with even delivering that candle on a special someones dessert. I'm not too sure who got more excited about it though me or Paul. But hey I love birthdays, and if theres a candle on a cake, you have to get excited..... I will even blow out the candles if you don't want to, just make sure you make a wish when doing so.

It really is a restaurant you should visit, it is pretty amazing.

Saint Crispen
300 Smith street, Collingwood
9419 2202

Saint Crispin on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 15 March 2015

What is she hiding from you?

In one of Melbourne's prestigious Heritage listed building is a place where you can combine everything you love and everything that makes Melbourne known around the world. Food, Fashion, Music and Art.

A grand glass entrance with a gracious front desk and a pink lite horse floating above you is just the beginning of your night ahead.

I welcome you to Ms. Collins, a place where you gather friends, mingle and enjoy some superb hosted service through the night.

This venue is grand and spacious with closed off rooms, split level and designed with neon luminous lighting to set you into a relaxing ambience.

Something that you may not have realised though is that here at Ms Collins they not only have a grand central bar where people like to mingle at after the working hour, but there is an extraordinary kitchen.

An outstanding menu of street food designed by renowned chefs in Melbourne - Jaques Reymond (80 hatted chef), Daniel Wilson (Huxtable), Paul Wilson (Icebergs) and Riccardo Momesso (Velentino). Now that I've name dropped there is no way you could refuse to eat here right?

Here is a menu that doesn't need s description of the food as with these culinary superstars you can't choose any wrong dish - I'm serious.

Currently Ms Collins is Chowing or should I say Bao-ing down on a Friday night, making for a spectacular start to your weekend with a Bao and wine special. A weekly changing Bao is a great accompaniment with a beverage in the late afternoon or pre dinner snack. With my taste of Waygu beef brisket with pickled cabbage in a soft pillowy bao was a delicious start, and not to heavy either.

Opening the menu showcasing extravagant dishes it is hard to choose, do you select only from 1 chef, mix it up or choose from your favorite culinary star. I say mix it up, that way you can understand the styles of each chef and what they want to showcase.

During my time spent here I was blown away by the Empanadas de Picadillo with mission fig mole. This short pastry melted like heaven and with the rich mole filling and sweet fresh figs I was floating on cloud 9. It was that good I couldn't sit still, I was too excited and started texting people telling them what I was eating and how good it was.

Dessert was a Banana and Ron Zacapa parfait with salted caramel, hazelnut brittle and brulee bananas. What can I say.... this picturesque dessert filled with depth of flavour but not overpowering in sweetness. It is subtle and delicate just like how it is plated.

What I love about Ms Collins is how proud the team is both in the kitchen and those serving and hosting.

Watching the Kitchen I can see the detail taken on every plate and together working in-sync as a unity. It makes me happy when every part of the team are working harmoniously together making for a flawless service to the guest.

Ms Collins is serving there menu from 4pm Tuesday - Saturday and will not fail in delivering your high expectations of what is a grand menu.

By all means book a table and have it for the evening and then continue to stay and get your groove on when the music picks up.

I guarantee that you will be looked after and have your mind blown away by there hidden culinary delights, so much so you will make it your regular place for after work drinks or a friendly catch up in the city with friends.

Ms Collins
425 Collins street
8614 2222

Ms Collins on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

A feel good moment

We all love to sit and relax and put on a movie from time to time, and you can't say no to movies that contain a 'Feel Good' moment.

Movies such as Ratatouille, Julie and Julia, Chef just to name a few (the list is endless) really makes you warm and yet slightly more hungry.... theres no denying it.

So you better go and pop some popcorn smother it in melted butter then mix it up with some maltesers because theres a new Culinary movie out and it will wish you had smell TV.

The hundred food journey is about a family who leave their home behind and travel to France to start a new beginning with there gastronomic flavours and put the spice in to peoples lives. A charming setting and a step into the culinary world.

Heres a story about hopes and dreams that for any food lover could picture themselves in and hoping it could be them.

As every movie does this family movie creates competition between to rivals, but includes good humour and understanding into how 2 restaurants strive to be better with there flavours and produce.

But as time passes the dedication of 1 chef stands out and brings the perfect combination of flavours and really makes you want to be there to enjoy it even more.

The true beginnings of just a cook who becomes world famous as he embarks on grand adventures through the combination of 2 cultures.

Produced by Stephen Speilburg and Oprah Winfrey, this movie truly brings out the good in the culinary world and shows how magical a combination of flavours and techniques can add to ones life.

If you are one who enjoys good culinary movies, this is one that will bring joy into your lives. After watching it made me want to get into the kitchen and create meals and experiment with flavours. If they can do it why cant you?

The Hundred Foot Journey is now available on Blu-ray and DVD. Thank you to Chloe from  Mango Communications ( ) for bringing this masterpiece to me.


Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Asian Pork Tacos

1 small Pork Shoulder (Murray Valley)
1 ltr Vegetable stock
1 tsp Ground black pepper
1 tsp Salt (extra for crackle)
1 chopped onion
2 tbsp Soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp Shao hsing rice wine
1 tsp sesame oil (plus drizzle for crackle)
1 avocado
1 carrot - greated and shredded
1/4 cabbage red - shredded
1/2 bunch coriander - torn
3 sprigs of spring onion - chopped
2 sticks of celery - finely chopped
1 red chilli - finely diced
Kepi Sesame Mayonnaise
Taco shells - hard or soft, dependant on preference

Remove skin from pork shoulder and set aside on a lined baking tray. In a slow cooker or deep pot place stock, shoulder, seasoning and chopped onion. On a medium to low heat slow cook shoulder until tender and is easy to pull apart. Estimated 6-8 hours dependant on size of shoulder.

Rub Salt and drizzle skin with sesame oil. Place skin in oven to make golden crisp crackle. Remove and allow to cool. One cool, chop into bite sized pieces - almost like a crumble

When shoulder is tender remove from stock and allow to cool. With a fork begin to sherd up the shoulder into small sizes. 

In a medium fry pan place sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine and oyster sauce and combine. Transfer shredded pork and coat evenly. Add some of the stock from slow cooking if you would like more of a runny sauce. To balance flavours add a little more oyster and rice wine to bring out more of a BBQ flavour.

In a bowl combine all fresh ingredients apart from avocado, stir through the Kepi sesame Mayonnaise.

Warm up taco shell and lay fresh slaw on the base of the shell. Top with shredded pork and finish with either diced fresh avocado or the crackle crumble.

Note: I used Murray Valley pork for this recipe, it provides great flavour and delivers a succulent and tender result every time. To find out where you can find Murray Valley produce please follow the link provided.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

A feeding Frenzy

With the wonderful flavours of Chin Chin comes a quaint yet vibrant place in Richmond Kong BBQ.

Delicious Korean BBQ with a friendly and energy filled atmosphere was defiantly delivered. Greeted with large smiles from the staff and a warm welcome that followed set the mood for what was to be an exciting experience.

With drinks ordered I was brought into a true feeding frenzy where there was too many options. My excitement was through the roof, perhaps a little squeal may have come out with all the excitement.

On the short order we decided to share some smaller plates (of course) to ensure we didn't miss out on too much.

Trying a couple of buns to begin, tantalised my appetite to say the least. A bun of soft shell crab with salted duck egg relish and coriander was delicate and rich. The other was a Peanut butter salt and pepper tofu with burnt chilli mayo. A combination of sweet sour and chilli combined with a hint of satay was extraordinary and delicious.

To follow were the Hot wings with Gochujang and chipotle and Tuna tartare with yuzu koshu, red apple, pork crackling and squid ink.

Chicken wings smothered with a sweet yet spicy gochujang and chipotle was finger licking delightful. Chicken cooked to perfection and flavours bursting. Glad to have some refresher towels for after as I did need to clean up a bit.... what? they were good. I'm not guilty that sauce was smeared on my cheek, I was happy.

The Tuna tartare was succulent and refreshing. I had to slow down so that I could value the combinations of flavours more. Fresh apples with pork crackling and the yuzu koghu sauce was perfection.

Mains saw the BBQ tray, filled with pulled chicken and pork with Pork belly and beef brisket served with lettuce, pickled veg and kimchi and walnut ssamjang.

Using chemical free charcoal and sustainable  Australian wood, the meats on the platter were all tender and tasty. Each holding a variance of char flavours dependant on how they were treated.

The idea is to grab a lettuce leaf, add your choice of meat and top it off with some pickle veg and the walnut ssamjang. The flavours were impeccable and meats still so succulent you could capture stunning flavours as you created. we did also add some slaw to the side to add another field of freshness to the dish.

Sweets of course were always on the menu with an Apple and walnut tart with miso butterscotch and Japanese whisky ice cream and also the coconut sago with a passionfruit and pnapple trifle.

I enjoyed both but found the tart to be a little to sweet by /2 way. Scrumptious though but I am finding with age I am heading away from sweeter creations (I know I know, the fudge queen is saying this. I make it but rarely eat it).

The sago was light and flavoursome, a refreshing finish to a tasteful experience.

Kong BBQ is certainly delivering you some outstanding dishes within a vibrant atmosphere. Best thing is that if there full, you can organise take away - SCORE!

With a menu this good, you would want to be returning until the menu is complete.

Kong BBQ
599 Church Street
9427 1307

Kong BBQ on Urbanspoon