Wednesday, February 26, 2014

(almost) 48 hours of eats in Melbourne

WAY WAY back in December The Boy and I made a quick weekend trip down to Melbourne. Why? Well, to eat...of course!

We started the weekend off with dinner at one of our tied and true favourite places, Mamasita. I honestly don't believe we have Mexican as great as this in Sydney so we go almost every time we're in Melbourne. The corn, oh the corn!  I've written about Mamasita before so you can check it out over here...

Bowery to Williamsburg

Set in a sub-basement level space you can't help get the nod to all things New York Subway as you descend the stairs into the cafe.  Owned by the team behind our beloved Hardware Societe, Bowrey to Williamsburg is every bit as good as I thought it would be. The menu has a decided bent towards Americana (in a good way)...bagels, pastrami beef hash, lox latkes...and not a slider to be seen anywhere folks.

The Boy (of course) goes for the Big Breakfast and I cannot help but covet his slab of farmhouse, thickcut bacon that is hidden beneath all those eggs, tomatoes and spinach. Me, I wanted something lighter as we had a special lunch planned in the not too distant future. I ADORE onion bagels and when I found out these guys have them I was sold! Whack a bit of smoked salmon, scallion cream cheese and capers on there and I'm as happy as a pig onion bagel!

Bowrey to Williamsburg is at 16 Oliver Lane, Melbourne.

Bowery to Williamsburg on Urbanspoon

Movida Next Door

We visited Movida about two years for my birthday and I whilst I thought it was...ok, I wasn't blown away. I totally thought Movida would totally rock my world and I walked away a bit flat. For starters, I think my expectations were too high, plus we didn't order very well (too many small plates and not enough biggies left us hungry...and broke).  The wait staff weren't particularly helpful in pointing our our ordering woes...and they weren't overly friendly either.

BUT I'm all for second chances and this trip I really wanted to lunch at Movida Next Door. AND I loved it!  LOVED IT!

Our waiter was super friendly and gave us great suggestions in ordering what turned out to be a specular and tasty lunch. I also loved the more relaxed feel of Movida Next Door as opposed to its  more dimly lit, slightly stuffy next door neighbour, Movida. This place felt light, airy, fun, modern and a relaxed Saturday afternoon kind of way.

We ordered mostly from the specials menu - a lovely fennel salad; unctuous, fatty pork belly with a zesty apple salad; a sizzling pot of buttery tiger prawns; and a plate of massive, meaty field mushrooms.

Of course we had to order the bomba from the menu as it's one of the dishes that Movida is well know for - chorizo filled Catalan Potato Bomb with a spicy sauce. Delish. As was the Croqueta - a fried croquette of wild mushrooms that the waiter talked us into having for dessert.  This was an EXCELLENT lunch and I'd head back to Movida Next Door in heartbeat.

Movida Next Door is at 164 Flinders Street (cnr Hosier Lane), Melbourne.

MoVida Next Door on Urbanspoon

Huxtaburger, Collingwood

What can one say about Huxtaburger other than "YUM"...oh, and "get in my belly" (and maybe "should I have a second burger so soon after finishing my first")?

This place is a well known institution for burger lovers.  We made our pilgrimage to the original store on Smith Street, Collingwood TWICE to worship at the alter of the best burgers around - soft buns people! SOFT BUNS - they really make or break a burger.

I'm not really sure I need to say anything about the burgers here.  I mean LOOK at them! LOOK! A picture really does paint 1000 words, especially if those words are just YUM repeated one thousand times.  And they burgers really are better than they look - so enough said really.

Oh, and crinkle cut chips? Still the best chips EVER I say.

Was this better than Shake Shack?  Hmmm. Yes...probably...maybe. The beef patty was so flavoursome and whilst the bun was quite sweet this was offset when you got a good mouthful of all of the burger ingredients.

Huxtaburger is at 106 Smith Street, Collingwood.

Huxtaburger on Urbanspoon

Jimmy Grants

To be honest, whilst Jimmy Grants was on my radar it wasn't at the top of my hit list for this Melbourne Trip. It was a case of too many great places to eat and not enough time or belly room.

And then my brain and my stomach had a negotiation and we decided that there was no problem having kebabs for problem at all. I love that the souvas (aka kebab) comes stuffed with a few chips but the real winner for me was the grain salad - LOVED this so much! The salad was a medley of grains and lentils with toasted almonds, Spanish onion and parsley mixed through. The dressing was probably a mix of lemon and olive oil -- but so much better. And a fat dollop of Greek yoghurt on top was the icing on the cake for me.

Jimmy Grants is at 113 St David Street, Fitzroy/Collingwood.

Jimmy Grants on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 24, 2014

Balcony Garden: Harvest Monday #58

The balcony garden tomatoes are ripening so fast now that it's hard to come up with uses for them all. I've embarked on what I like to call "the tomato diet" which involves including a tomato or three with nearly ever meal.

We need to eat our tomatoes as soon as they are ripe otherwise they risk rotting on the vine (which so far has only happened to one poor tomato - I think he had a worm in him but I just lopped him over the balcony without conducting a postmortem).

Thankfully most of the tomatoes I've been picking from the balcony have been good to go - no bugs or rot within cooee!

We do love a good breakfast fry-up in my house and nothing tastes as great as some homegrown fried tomatoes topped with a bit of homemade pesto guessed it...homegrown basil.  

Happy garden, Miss Piggy xoxo

Friday, February 14, 2014

Alpha, Sydney CBD

Miss Piggy dinned as a guest of Alpha and Wasamedia.

Long before I used to daydream about begin adopted by a Malaysian or Japanese family I longed to part of a Greek family. A family that would feed me delicious Greek food til I burst.

I absolutely adore the flavours of Greek food - the salty dips, freshly grilled seafood, charred meats and the cheese, oh the cheese! To me a salad is not a salad unless it has a liberal hunk of feta cheese lurking in the bowl.

Luckily for me Sydney has a few really great Greek restaurants and I'd say the newly opened Alpha on Castlereagh Street is one of the best. The dining room can be found on the ground floor of the Hellenic Club and it's truly a lovely space. Big, open with plenty of room between tables so you do feel like you're sitting on your neighbours lap.

Alpha have recently started serving Saturday lunches and this is what I'm hear to enjoy. We are lucky enough to try all the items from the Yia Yia fixed $55 menu (marked with an *) plus a few extras thrown in for good measure.

Mezes - the menu starts with a selection of Meze, or small plates if you will.  I'm pleased to see that some of my firm favourites appear here, salty Taramosolato (cod roe dip), olives served warm and of course falafel. The plate of haloumi that is set down before us is so glorious that I almost lose my breath (lucky for me I have my trusty Ventolin close at hand)!

  • Pita Bread*
  • Taramosolato – White Cod’s roe dip*
  • Melitzanosalata – Smoked Eggplant Dip*
  • Marinated Greek and Local Olives with Citrus Zest, Garlic and Oregano*
  • Chickpea Falafel with Coriander Yoghurt*
    • Ouzo Cured Ocean Trout with a Fennel, Orange, Watercress and Sumac Onion Salad

    • Halloumi Saganaka with Ouzo, Lemon & Oregano*

    From the Kitchen - next is a series of larger dishes "from the kitchen". The flavoursome meat on the lamb ribs literally falls from the bone and it is lush, fatty (in the way that all lamb should be) and perfectly tender.  A plate piled high with Greek spiced slow roasted lamb shoulder comes served with lemon roast potatoes (the best potatoes ever I have to say) and tzatziki - this, along with a salad would a perfect lunch for a hungry couple.

    • Spanakopita – a spinach pie rich with leeks, fetta and dill*
    • Slow Roasted Lamb Spare Ribs with Thyme, Honey and Ouzo Glaze
    • Greek Spiced Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Lemon Roast Potatoes and Tzatziki*
    • Eggplant Stack with Taramosolato and grilled scallops

    Dishes from the Grill and Rotisserie - the Grill and Rotisserie sit behind in the bar in the restaurant and it's here that dishes such as this tender octopus served atop of bed of white beans are cooked.

    • Octopus Twice Cooked with spinach, white beans and red wine vinaigrette *
    Sides - like I said before it's not a salad unless there's a pile of feta cheese in the bowl...which makes this fine specimen one pretty perfect salad!

    • Horiatiki Salad*...which is another way of saying Greek Salad – a plate of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, red onions, Kalamata Olives and the most glorious slab of Feta cheese ($14.00).

    Dessert - I'm full to bursting by this stage (all my dreams have come true clearly) but at the sight of dessert I'm suddenly hungry again! The loukoumi delight icecream slice really blew me away.  I loved the delicate rosewater flavour...and there were little pieces of Turkish Greek Delight dotted throughout. YUM..

    • Loukoumi Delight Ice Cream Slice – Strawberry, Raspberry, Filo Cigar.
    • Loukoumades* – Greek doughnut balls with a spiced honey syrup and candied walnut ice-cream
    Alpha Restaurant is at 238 Castlereagh Street, Sydney. Phone them on 9089 1111.

    Alpha Restaurant on Urbanspoon

    Monday, February 10, 2014

    Balcony Garden: Harvest Monday #57

    The lettuce has come to the end of its life. I've noticed some leaves that are looking a bit sunburt and they have a silvery shine to them. The lettuce is becoming more stalk than leaf and it's basically just keeled over and died. Oh well, it was a short but very productive life!

    Nevertheless, there were still a few good leaves left to go onto a sandwich for lunch. I hardly ever have sandwiches for lunch at home, but the combination of fresh bread and crisp, freshly picked lettuce is a hard match to beat.

    Happy gardening, Miss Piggy xoxox

    Thursday, February 06, 2014

    Monopole, Potts Point

    Miss Piggy dined at Monopole as a guest of Liquid Ideas and the City of Sydney Council as part of the #urbanOasisTour

    Do you ever have a cafe or restaurant on your list even though you're probably never going to get there. Time and geography often conspire again me, so even though I wanted to go to Monople I just never thought I would...or not in the short-term anyway. Often places stay on my list for years, but thanks to a lucky break I got to lunch at Monopole as part of the recent City of Sydney #urbanOasisTour I went on.

    We start our lunch with a chat from owner, Brent Savage. He tells us a bit about the philosophy of the restaurant including their focus on organic, bio-dynamic and preservative free wines - this gives them a more "earthy" flavour (a bit like raw milk cheese if you will). Monopole has focus on seasonable produce and they cure all of their own meats in house. As their space is so small this means a constant process of curing, us eating, and more curing. A labour of love I'd say.

    We start of our lunch with a fantastic plate of house cures and pickles ($26 for a selection of 4 or $10 per portion). Here we have cured and smoked duck breast; pork neck; Rangers Valley tri tip (bottom of the sirloin); and also Rangers Valley cured beef brisket. I absolutely LOVED this plate of cures and it went perfectly with the glass of Prosecco we were quaffing. The meats were all so flavoursome and I enjoyed the fattiness of the duck that was offset by the zingy pickles. What a great lunch -- a plate of this with a wine is the perfect small lunch.


    Next up is a mound of lusciously creamy mashed potato that is topped with meaty cubes of salt cod, green peas, pistachio and mint (normally $18). Marry this with some fresh Iggy's bread (normally $5.00) for a bit of carb-on-carb action.

    The baby cucumber, celery, fennel and pine nut salad with rye bread (normally $16) was a lovely light dish, the flavours of which went really well with the stronger flavours of the cured meats.

    I think the spiced leg of lamb, cherry tomatoes, Spanish onion and feta (normally $28) was one of my favourite dishes. The lamb was super tender with a nice char around the outer layer and the feta was so smooth and creamy. Superb.

    Monopole is at 71A Macleay Street, Potts Point. Phone them on 9360 4410.

    Monopole on Urbanspoon

    Monday, February 03, 2014

    Balcony Garden: Harvest Monday #56

    Lettuce! Or in this state Lettuce Trees as I like to call them...

    I love growing Cos Lettuce out on the balcony. Firstly, if you just pinch the leaves off from the bottom it keeps on producing leaves for quite a few months! Secondly, it's super easy to grow. Thirdly, the caterpillars don't seem to be into it...and...

    ...fourthly, Caesar Salad! Enough said.

    Happy gardening, Miss Piggy xoxo

    You Might Also Like:

    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
    Free Blog Template by June Lily