Sunday, 21 October 2012

Oms & Noms, August to October

My phone had been operating really slowly of late and finally this morning, refused to respond to my commands. At the store, the guy gave it a quick check, gave me a funny look and then told me that I should probably delete my photos to speed it up. I was about to leave when he asked, 'Do you have any photos on there that aren't food-related?'

Oh, snap.

In other news, I can't understand how formatting works, so the paragraph spacing in ths blog is a bit off. Apologies if you're OCD like me, and it's really irritating you.

1. L'atelier de Monsieur Truffe, Brunswick East 
I have blogged about this place on more than one occasion before, but forgive me - I have the misfortune of living in its vicinity. Plus, it really is one of those rare cafes with the full package - beautiful food presented with great thought, good coffee, and a wonderfully airy fit out. It tends to get quite busy on the weekends though, so I took advantage of the (now-a-mere-distant-memory) mid-semester break to visit a few times.

'Look, no hand(le)s!'
Which looks cool...
...but practically speaking, is kinda annoying.

The first time was a lovely and leisurely lunch with R and L. My lunch companions both opted for the 'Full Vegie Breakfast': eggs any way, spiced beans, oven dried tomatoes, sautéed spinach and avocado ($17), while I had the Free range smoked chicken salad with honey-glazed pumpkin, organic barley, wild rice, pine nuts and red grapes ($18), which was texture heaven.

On a second trip, I was joined by ye old faithful, A, for a brunch date. A zoned in, with an expert eye, on the Smoked salmon, Fuji apple and caper berries served on sourdough with a poached egg ($14). I feel that there may have been some fennel action involved as well. I was in an indulgent mood, so I ordered the 'Tartine Chocolat', a choice of either milk, 52% dark or 70% dark chocolate on toasted brioche ($11). The 52% was just perfect for moi, and the small mound of salt flakes for self-dispensing purposes was perfect for offsetting the sweetness.

Finally, I must make a plug for these awesome 'Magic Robots' they are currently selling for $4 a pop. Aren't they süber (super + über) cute? And best of all, there's more than meets the eye...

2. Small Victories, North Carlton
The Breakfast Club caught up here quite a while ago, with a surprise visit from X. In all honesty, I can't say I was wowed by the food; by all means, it wasn't bad, just nothing mind-blowing, particularly given the prices we were paying. I'm hoping that things have improved; a future visit is on the cards. E had the Organic eggs on toast (scrambled of course, because that preference really seems to be ingrained into her DNA) with Oven-baked mushrooms, garlic and rye crisp ($9.5 + $6); I went for the Baked eggs with house-smoked salmon, organic quark and fine herbs ($16); while R and L had the Granola with elderflower, poached rhubarb, lychee, organic yoghurt and berry powder ($12). I think the granola was probably the standout dish of the lot.

3. Sticky Fingers Bakery
In the month of August, $20 could secure one a seat to a dessert-related film screening and an appropriately-themed candy bar pack, courtesy of Sticky Fingers Bakery. G and I went to the screening of Waitress, a left-of-centre comedy about love, babies and making pies (no euphemisim, really) which is definitely worth a watch.

Our candy bar packs consisted of a Fantale Popcorn Slice, Choc Cherry Cola Cupcake, Coffee & Donut Cupcake, and in honour of the film, a Mini Cherry Pie. Woohoo!

Sticky Fingers Bakery also do deliveries of various delicious cupcakes, cakes and custom cakes (including this rad "Ghosty Cake", second photo), and occasionally throw themed dessert nights at the Gasometer Hotel; 'liking' them on Facebook is a wise move.

4. The Moor's Head, Thornbury
Home of 'inauthentic pizza', this relaxed restaurant focuses on pizza with a Middle Eastern twist. The sibling and I had the 'Inauthentic Banquet', which at $25 a head, is very reasonable. (Yes, they do like the word 'inauthentic'.) The aforementioned banquet began with a trio of starters: Radishes with salt, Pickled vegetables with olives and Baby peppers stuffed with feta and walnuts. Heaps of crunchy goodness.

The 'Omar Sharif': three cheeses, oregano, fresh mint, nigella, soused onions. A boat of cheeeeeeeeeese. That pretty much sums it up. Definitely best gobbled immediately with hands while still hot and oozy. Congealed cheese just doesn't quite taste the same.

The 'Fake Millionaire': minced beef, hummus, pine nuts, chilli, parsley. Also delicious, and a more zingy set of flavours which made a great foil to the Omar Sharif.

The banquet also comes with a choice of salad - from memory, we picked the roquette, shankleesh (a kind of hard, crumbly cheese) and Iranian raisins.

Really good value. And they do takeaway!

5. Wonderbao, CBD
I love the name of this place - you can't say it and not feel happy. It also reminds me of this hit, and also the expression, 'wunderbar!', both of which are excellent things.

This tiny space - down an alleyway, naturally - churns out delicious bao (or baozi, as I grew up calling them), delicious steamed buns with various fillings. Unlike most of the authentic bao-houses you'll find in Chinatown, this place is slick, clean and has white hipsters making your bao. Not that there's anything wrong with the last point, I just found it [insert some wank about cultures clashing/melding/juxtaposing]

Along with all the classics, like char siu bao (a very reasonable $2), these guys also do gua bao, which are kinda like taco-fied bao. I opted for the Roast pork belly gua bao, with cucumber, pickled carrot, daikon and hoisin sauce and a Fried silky tofu gua bao, with pickled mustard, coriander, sweet soy sauce and crushed peanuts ($3.8 each). Good stuff.

 The standout, though, is the nai wong bao, or egg custard concoction. When I first bit into this, it rendered me speechless. As in, I just kept wordlessly motioning to the uneaten half in my hand while my dining companions just looked at me with a mixture of concern and amusement. It's the perfect ratio of bun to filling, and the custard innards are substantial, sweet and fluffy all at the same time. Get one (or six) in ya!

6. Pope Joan, Brunswick East
This place, as I've blogged about before, does the kind of food which makes you wish you had a bottomless stomach and wallet so you could have one of everything. Recently however, I've been visiting this place for afternoon catchups with P, so we've been 'limiting' ourselves to a 'diet' of sweet treats.

In photographic order: Warm chocolate brownie; Orange and marmalade cake; Carrot cake; Lemon tart with an amazing vanilla bean cream (around $5 each).

Also, how cute is the way they serve their Boiled eggs, soldiers, bacon bits, herb salt ($9)?

7. Carlton Esspresso, Carlton
The sun was shining yesterday (in Melbourne?! No way!), so G and I made the most of it, doing a spot of people watching while lunching on Lygon Street. She had the Quinoa with pistachio pesto, asparagus, zucchini, yoghurt and lemon ($14), and I went for the Black rice salad with tuna and Tuscan greens ($16). I am now in love with black rice.

Also, a D.O.C. deli has opened up next door to Carlton Espresso, and stocks all kinds of deliciousness in a really lovely space. The samples of parmesan drizzled with truffled honey was a revelation.

Happy eating!


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