Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Clearing the blog backlog

Enoteca Vino Bar

Given how hectic the last fortnight month has been, I'm doing another "bitsa" post (bitsa this, bitsa that) to clear some of the blog backlog and write up a few places I've visited recently and wanted to share with you, dear reader. Please excuse the longer-than-usual length!

Enoteca Vino Bar
920 Lygon St, Carlton North (map)
9389 7003

Enoteca Vino Bar

When family friends R&S were in town, we took them out to dinner at Enoteca Vino Bar (the Enoteca Sileno restaurant up near the cemetery). It was an unusually warm night, so we braved the sitting outside in the pretty courtyard and while we were waiting for our food to arrive we had a sticky-beak inside at all the gorgeous Italian imported produce and wines on offer.

Assaggini at Enoteca

Enoteca Vino Bar does some great assaggini at very tapas-y prices. From top left and working clockwise we shared: sinful yet sensational stuffed Ascolana olives ($8.50), octopus stew with capers, olives and tomatoes ($8.50), baccalĂ  and potato salad with onion, parsley, EVOO and lemon ($9.50), vitello tonnato ($10), eggplant and smoked mozzarella involtini ($12.50) and duck breast with carrot and celeriac salad and vincotto dressing ($11).

Smoked mozzarella eggplant involtini

All the assagini were delicious but the one that really stood out was the eggplant involtini - they had been roasted in the oven and filled with smoked provoletta and buffalo mozzarella, resting on a bed of fregola (a couscous-like Sardinian pasta I'd not tried before). The intense smokiness of the cheese embedded in the eggplant had a real wow factor - be sure to try this if you visit!

Bistecca alla FiorentinaSaltimbocca di conigilio at Enoteca

It had been far too long since I'd had one, and I felt in need of a year's supply of iron, so I ordered the bistecca alla Fiorentina: a 450g slab of Black Angus cooked to medium-rare perfection, with cannellini bean puree and wilted spinach ($42). Outrageous. Dad went for the saltimbocca, which was rather unusually a rabbit saltimbocca ($33).

Bonet alla PiemonteseSemifreddo at Enoteca

The dessert standouts were the Bonet alla Piemontese - amaretti biscuit and chocolate pudding - served with caramel sauce and fruit ($12.50) and the panettone semifreddo with candied fruit and orange vincotto ($10.50). Both tasted very authentically Italian.

The food is ottimo but the mains are expensive, so I'd advise skipping them: some clever ordering of assaggini and desserts will still get you a brilliant meal for much less moolah.

458-460 Bridge Rd, Richmond (map)
9429 3402

Clare's birthday - belly dancer

On CJ's birthday a big group of us went to Kanzaman. It was my first time dining there, despite having walked past it many times over the years (marveling at the lurid blue lighting outside and the lavishly painted walls inside). We went on a Saturday night and the place was packed. Just before our mains arrived at the table there was a burst of amplified jangly music and a belly dancer shimmied her way into the room, proceeding to dance the dance of the seven veils (well, a family-friendly version)...

Clare's birthdayClare's birthday

The food wasn't bad, but I'm not in a hurry to get back there. I had the Sultania ($23): lamb eye fillets sauteed in pomegranate molasses, mustard seeds and herbs. The pomegranate gave it a nice flavour but the meat and rice were on the dry side. For dessert my neighbour and I shared the Mahalabia ($9): custard topped with pistachio nuts and a lemon orange blossom syrup.

40 Glenferrie Rd, Malvern (map)
9509 5365

Shark fin dumpling
Close encounter with shark fin dumpling
The macro setting on Mum's new camera is fully sick
Fuck me! I wish I had a digicam that could take food porn pics like this

Spinach dumplings

Yeah okay, there's actually not much I want/need to say again about Ripples, other than (a) check out that cool shark fin dumpling macro photo! and (b) how wicked crazy fluoro are their spinach/ectoplasm dumplings?? :)

Tutto Bene
Mid Level Southgate, Melbourne (map)
9696 3334

Stuffed mozzarella Burrata

M, a nice young gentleman, asked me out on a dinner and theatre date the other week. He took me to Tutto Bene, which was one of the first places I wrote about when I started Melbourne Gastronome just over a year ago.

We started by sharing the Mozzarella del Giorno ($13.50) which was a Burrata, a mozzarella ball hand-filled with a soft mixture of mozzarella and cream. It was served with artichokes and a vegetable dressing, and the gooey texture and creamy flavour was utterly delightful.

Risotto al Presidente

While M went for a risotto with sugo, I tried the Al Presidente ($20) - a unique combination of 3 year old parmigiano and balsamic vinegar, produced from a 1912 mother must, created by our chef for the Italian President visiting Australia. Like pizze, I reckon the best risotti are the simplest ones... and this is the best risotto I've had at Tutto Bene. The rice had juuuust the right amount of bite to it, and the cheese had a superior flavour.

The Press Club
72 Flinders St, Melbourne (map)
9677 9677

Saganaki martini

And finally, it was back to The Press Club for another Kerasma, this time with the family and R&S. More saganaki martinis, yay!

Scallop with apple foam

Last time I'd had the Kerasma we'd also been served scallops, but they'd been embedded in loukoumades and deep fried. This time they were served topped with green apple foam (alas the foam had lost its mojo by the time I took the photo). When our lovely waiter told us what the foam was I though to myself "that sounds so damn crazy it just might work!", but Birdie and I didn't care for it. The foam gave the scallop an unpleasant synthetic, slightly medicinal taste. I suspect it's due to whatever foaming agent was used... soy lecithin maybe? I came across the same unpleasant taste at the molecular gastronomy-berserk Chinese New Year Cocktail Night at Cafe Vue.

Press Club salads

The other items that differed significantly from the previous Kerasma were the salads. This time both of the salads were fruit-based (what with the apple foam as well, George was clearly feeling very fruity that night): one salad contained watermelon, chilled tomato egg, smoked Dodoni feta and black olive oil... the other consisted of fresh figs on a landing strip of labna, served with slivered almonds and a balsamic reduction. Both were excellent.

Goat at Press Club

Because Mum hates lamb, we asked for the kleftiko ("stolen") goat instead, which was served in wonderful little cherry red and white Le Creuset casserole dishes and had a melomakarona crust. Even Birdie, who'd pulled a face in squeamish teenage disgust when she'd heard we were ordering goat, agreed that the exquisitely tender meat tasted fantastic, and that the humble cabbage and feta salad on the side was very very moreish.

Press Culb dessert
We finished with the ever-scrumptious dessert platter. R&S, our gourmand friends from the UK, were suitably impressed!


Sarah said...

Hey Claire!

Great post.

I love Tutto Bene! Your mozzarella looked delicious. When we went there for my birthday (,
they had a rotolo of mozzarella with breasola, which was quite yummy, and very different. It's cool that they put such creativity into the dish.

Enoteca's assagini looked great too; I'd love to try that place.

Love the lurid green dumplings and the macro shot too.. I'm personally saving for an SLR!

xox Sarah

xox Sarah

cp said...

Oh, delicious licious lissscious. I was at Tutto Bene tonight (I know I should try some other places at Southbank but love it!) and had the risi e bisi, sigh, yum. it was bright green. alas no camera!! Probably wouldn't have taken photos anyway coz friend's parents would have thought I was weird. But so good. And I tasted Al Presidente, it was also faab.
Dying to go everywhere.
Keep clearing the backblogs Claire, I'll keep squirming with envy ;) (and the occasional foodgasm)

Truffle said...


I'm incredibly jealous of your recent eats! Love your Mum's camera. Incredible photos!

Anonymous said...

Love that macro shot of the dumpling. It reminds me of a goldfish swimming for some reason! :)