Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Amnesty Fortnight: Richmond round-up

Continuing in the vein of my recent Amnesty Fortnight posts - by my calculations, I still have three two days left - this post covers six venues in my beloved Richmond (the suburb in which I have lived for four of the last eight years - though of course housemate DJ and I, technically and pretentiously speaking, live in Cremorne, not Richmond). All of these venues are walking distance from our house!

Bosisto's Liquor Bar
318 Bridge Road, Richmond (map)
9428 6888

Bosisto's Liquor Bar

As it happens, Sunday was only my first visit to Bosisto's Liquor Bar. It's the suburban outpost of the Spirit Fingers team (the guys behind city bars Double Happiness and New Gold Mountain). Blessed with a classy interior and some good looking staff, Bosisto's does breakfasts, light lunches and light evening fare, with an emphasis on salumi (click on "Slicer Porn" at the bottom of their website to see footage of their sexy sexy meat slicer in action).

Bosisto's Liquor Bar

Although I was tempted by their ricotta hotcakes, my love for white anchovies meant that I had to order the delicious poached eggs with white anchovies, aioli and rocket on a toasted panino ($13).

Poached egg, white anchovy, aioli and rocket on toasted panino

Two of the Ladies Who Lunch, Miss T and Miss B, were in attendance. Both ordered the poached eggs with prosciutto, fior di latte mozzarella and roasted tomato ($15). The prosciutto and mozza gave a lovely Italian flavour to the standard poached eggs.

It was so cold outside and the leather booths were so comfy that after we'd finished brunch, we decided to order another coffee each and try a few of the little cakes on offer. I chose the pecan pie.

Poached eggs, prosciutto, fior di latte mozzarella and roasted tomatoPecan pie

The girls chose the berry cheesecake and the date, honey and macadamia cheesecake. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs so we struggled to finish the cakes, but they were delicious nonetheless.

Berry cheesecake; date, honey and macadamia cheesecake

Amsterdam Street
2 Amsterdam St (right near corner Church St), Richmond (map)
9421 0690

Amsterdam Cafe

It was a very brunchy weekend, as on Saturday morning housemate DJ and I had met Oosh for brunch at Amsterdam Street. Amsterdam Street is the Richmond cafe formerly known as Digable. We're thrilled that, in its new incarnation, it is open on Sundays (as we needed somewhere close to home that does great coffee, and both DJ and I have decided we don't care for Pearl Cafe).

Amsterdam Street

Spot the housemate in the above photo!

Omelette with roasted mushroom, goat's cheese and thyme (and ham)French toast with bacon and maple syrup

DJ ordered the vegetarian omelette of roasted mushrooms, goats cheese and thyme ($10.50), then devegetarianised it by asking for extra ham. Oosh ordered the french toast with bacon and maple syrup ($11). I had a taste and pronounced it very nice: they'd used a good baguette and plenty of cinnamon.

Even though I'm not generally a fan of scrambled eggs, I decided to try the burrito with scrambled egg, wiled spinach, tomato and chilli jam ($12). I liked it, but (as can be expected) the burrito got soggy very fast and the chilli jam dribbled out making a bit of a mess...

Burrito with scrambled egg, wilted spinach, tomato and chilli jamAmsterdam Cafe

Oosh and I shared a plate of extra bacon. Even though his french toast CAME with bacon, Oosh had been so hypnotised by smell of cooking bacon when trying to find Amsterdam Street that he insisted we get extra! What a piece of work. :)

Extra bacon

"We've got these brownies, but I'm afraid they're still slightly warm from the oven." We blinked at her. "You say that like it's a BAD thing!"

Amsterdam Street brownie

Love Pho
181 Swan Street, Richmond (map)
9421 2200

Love Pho

Swan Street may seem like the "wrong" end of Richmond for phở, but Love Pho is not only must closer to home than Victoria Street, their phở is damn good ($9 for a generous bowl)..

Pho at Love Pho

Their salt and pepper fried bean curd ($12.50) tastes amazing, and their signature spring rolls ($6) are pretty good too.

Love Pho salt and pepper fried bean curdLove Pho's Signature Spring Rolls

Oh, and I'm partial to their Beef Luc Lac (diced beef cubes with dark soy sauce, $15). "Luc Lac" means "shaken": I learned from Viet World Kitchen that this name is derived from the back and forth shaking of the skillet as one sears the cubes of beef.

Beef Luc Lac at Love Pho

Post Office Hotel
90 Swan Street, Richmond (map)
9428 6674

Post Office Hotel interior

The Post Office Hotel is a pub located opposite the Corner Hotel, in that cute higgledy-piggledy Edwardian building that used to house Dizzy's. It's tiny and dimly-lit, but cosy on the inside and open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. In keeping with its namesake, my favourite feature of the Post Office Hotel is a post box (to the far left in the above photo). To quote from their website:

"It’s hard to deny – there’s something just so cool about letters. About sending post cards. About pen and paper. Something so cool and, maybe, romantic? Whatever it is we all agree, so we’ve installed a post box at Post Office Hotel to help with your letter-writing! Here’s the deal - any letter or post card posted in the Hotel’s Post Box will be stamped and sent by us. For free! For nothing! And the Hotel Post Cards are free as well. So there it is. No more excuses. All you have to do is begin -


Post Office Hotel

My second-favourite feature of the Post Office Hotel is their wood-fired pizza oven. I like the Calabrese ($17) and the pizza with mud crab, tomato, chilli, mozzarella, dill and mango ($19).

Post Office Hotel pizzePost Office Hotel mud crab pizza

Cherry Tree Hotel
53 Balmain Street, Cremorne (map)
9428 5743

Cherry Tree Hotel

The Cherry Tree Hotel is my most local local, within easy staggering distance from our place. I'd previously written about the Cherry Tree, but thought I'd mention them again as it's under new management and - very excitingly - now open on Sundays!

Cherry Tree Hotel

The food that I've sampled there, while not extraordinary, is good honest pub grub. When I went there with my sister Birdie, I had beef burger with salad, mustard aioli and chips ($15). She had the rare Thai beef salad ($15.50).

Cherry Tree burgerCherry Tree Thai beef salad

Their pizzas are too thick for my liking, but the Angus minute steak with chips and salad ($14.50) is damn tasty.

Cherry Tree pizzaMinute steak at Cherry Tree

The Cherry Tree also has a rather lovely and impressive room out the back, where a slightly more refined menu is on offer.

Cherry Tree Hotel

The Cherry Tree still serves an excellent range of interesting beers, and I love the fact that the staff chalk up the nine letter target word puzzle from The Age each day, next to their specials. :)

Taxi Pilsner

I've been reading about Cremorne's and the Cherry Tree's sordid past in James Cockington's wonderfully-titled book "History Happened Here: Strange but true stories from Australian suburbia". The chapter about Dennis "Mr Death" Allen states:

"With the quaintly-named Cherry Tree Hotel as his unofficial head-quarters, Allen ran his empire of heroin, prostitution and illegal guns from a series of houses in Stephenson, Cubbitt and Chestnut Streets. His mother, Kath Pettingill, was also intimately involved. She ran a brothel at 108 Stephenson Street, the house next to the Cherry Tree. There was a hole in the connecting wall so that drugs and money could be passed through easily.
Allen made a lot of money very quickly, mainly through cash transactions in heroin. Drugs were sold openly in the back room of the Cherry Tree or, when the cops were applying rare pressure, on the railway lines behind his houses. Detectives watching his operations from the disused Rosella factory estimated he was making $17,000 a week from sales of drugs alone.
The Cherry Tree hotel still remains, tastefully renovated and frequented by yuppies instead of junkies. But even today, long after the exit of the Mr Death dynasty, a visit to his former domain can bring a chill to the spine."

For the record, I've lived in Cremorne for two years and this suburb has never brought a chill to my spine!

Noi Thai
337 Lennox Street, Richmond (map)
9425 9206

Noi Thai exteriorNoi Thai

Noi Thai's new, very swish website calls it the best Thai food in Richmond. I heartily agree! Their red duck and lychee curry, served in a fresh young coconut, is out of control. Sooooo good, and in my opinion a bargain at $20.90.

Noi Thai red duck curry

The shopfront on Lennox Street is rather unassuming, but the staff are lovely and friendly and the food is excellent suburban Thai: they also do a great green papaya salad, and a stir fry with chicken and lots of bamboo shoots. Recommended!

Noi Thai interior

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Easter 2009 round-up

Good Friday hot cross buns

I'll keep this brief as I'm supposed to be meeting best-friend-K at the Nova in an hour. Easter 2009 was delightful, commencing with the traditional Good Friday breakfast of hot cross buns at Mum and Dad's place.

Good Friday hot cross buns

I'd stolen Mamma's scales to weigh out pizza dough ingredients the week before, so she had to guesstimate quantities. They came out fluffier than usual and she was somewhat displeased, but they still tasted fabulous.

Good Friday hot cross buns

Housemate DJ and b-f-K were in attendance, all of us still in recovery mode from the night before. Freshly squeezed orange juice, strong coffee and sparkling wine made the breakfast that much more civilised, and DJ's tales of last night's Epic Cloakroom Fail kept us mightily amused.

Good Friday roses

In the afternoon I went down to Merricks Beach for a spontaneous overnight beach holiday - always the best kind! - at the gorgeous Queenslander beach house our dear family friends P&A have just finished building (we were their first overnight guests). I loved the design of it so much, I felt I had to share photos here on the blog.


One of my favourite features of the Queenslander was the corridor that went around the outer perimeter of the building, with all the rooms nestled in the centre.


It's one storey but there are two pavilions, linked by a stunning circular decking area (with very comfy butterfly chairs).


A made mountains of bruschette. A couple of dozen of their friends (they have an extensive social network in Merricks Beach) dropped in late afternoon for a drink, and these were yummed up in no time.


I fell in love with their Sorrentina coffee machine purely for its aesthetic qualities!

Coffee machine

The next morning we went to the Red Hill Bakery and picked up some chicken and chardonnay pies for lunch. On the way back to Merricks we stopped at a roadside stall and picked up a huge bag of fresh juicy cherry tomatoes from a local grower for $3. They made a more than adequate substitute for tomato sauce!

Chicken and chardonnay pie and tomatoes

Then on Easter Sunday we did the big fancy lunch with my Italian grandparents back at Mum and Dad's place. The antipasti included bruschette, soppressa, labne balls, prosciutto and the last of the good figs for the season...

Easter Sunday tableFichi e prosciutto

VERY controversially this year, Mamma announced she'd be making paella instead of the traditional Italian fare, as she and Dad were eager to christen their new paella pan.

Prawns for paella

Nonna inspecting the paella with a hint of distrust. :)

Nonna inspecting the paella

All the paella recipes Mamma had compiled seemed to contradict each other, so she just made up an amalgam recipe that worked an absolute treat. The soccarat (caramelised smoky crust that forms on the bottom of the pan) was soooo yummy!


Nonno at ease. After our mains, I was showing my sister Birdie something on my laptop, and Nonno started questioning me about it. He hadn't believed me when I'd told him I could use it to access the internet wirelessly, so I showed Nonna and Nonno YouTube for their first time: Nonno wanted to see the famous speeches of Martin Luther King, JFK and Mussolini, and Nonna wanted to see footage of Domenico Modugno singing 'Volare' at the 1958 Sanremo Song Contest, and Massimo Ranieri singing 'Rose Rosse'. Massimo Ranieri was such a cutie!


For dessert Mamma had made a lovely moist chocolate cake with prunes, served with strawberries marinated in Cointreau. Mmmmmm.

Chocolate cake

And to think I sometimes wonder where my overly-dramatic hand gestures come from! :)

Nonno e nonnaNonno e nonna
Nonno e nonnaNonno e nonna