It's been a busy couple of weeks for me at work, but I wanted to write a few short paragraphs about five dishes I've been lucky enough to have over the last fortnight that have been just a little bit special.
One: the elotes callejeros at Mamasita.
Level 1, 11 Collins Street, Melbourne (map)
Lunch last Tuesday was at Mamasita with the beautiful KT. I wrote about Mamasita when it first opened in February, but on that visit I neglected to order what has now become my favourite Mamasita dish, the elotes callejeros ($3.80 each). Chargrilled corn with queso, chipotle mayonnaise and lime. DROOL. If you don't like these... I don't think we can be friends any more.
Two: the primo piatto of pickled green tomatoes and burrata at Ladro.
224 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy (map)
Best-friend-K and I went to Ladro on Friday night. While we were sipping negronis and waiting for our pizze to arrive, we shared an exquisite entree of pickled green tomatoes served with burrata and drizzled with olive oil ($12.50). Burrata (a mozzarella cheese with a gooey mozzarella-and-cream centre) seems to be everywhere at the moment. Served with mouth-watering sweet and sour pickled green tomatoes? Perfect.
Three: my mother's pasta al forno con funghi, spinaci e sugo di carne.
To taste this one, you'll have to cajole your way into my family. On Wednesday night we facilitated a birthday face-to-face Skype chat between my Nonna and Nonno in Melbourne, and Nonna's sister Zia Clara and Zio Mario in Italy ("Che meraviglia, questo Skype!" my Nonno kept exclaiming). For dinner afterwards, Mum made her special pasta al forno. To stop it from being too heavy or stodgy, she alternates pasta layers: one with Nonna's fresh sugo bolognese and mushrooms sauteed with her secret ingredient (a quarter of a Star funghi porcini stock cube, shhhhh), and then one with béchamel and spinach wilted with smoked garlic. Parmigiano between every layer, natch!
Four: the grass fed steak tartare at Cumulus Inc.
45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne (map)
I know I've waxed lyrical about Cumulus several times over, but as I was on my way there last Thursday to meet the lovely Emily from ...It Pleases Us, I realised this would be the first time I'd ever visited for lunch. I ain't gonna lie: I was nursing a hangover. A hangover that called for something drastic. Hmmmm oh I don't know, how about the GRASS FED STEAK TARTARE?
My fuzzy logic told me that if raw steak ($21) couldn't make me feel better, nothing would. And oh it was good, people. We also shared one of my favourite Cumulus dishes, the wagyu bresaola with fresh horseradish ($14, alas sadly no longer served with remoulade) and Em's favourite, the crispy school prawns sauteed with chilli and garlic ($14). Be sure to eat those suckers in their entirety, as they were intended.
Five: the dessert sticks (hell, and everything else) at Pierre Roelofs' dessert evenings at Cafe Rosamond.
Rear 191 Smith Street, Fitzroy (map)
Count me in as a member of Pierre Roelofs' enthusiastic cheer squad. His are the most creative, exciting desserts currently on offer in Melbourne. Last month I wrote a loveletter to the event he and Raúl Moreno Yagüe held at the MFWF, and I mentioned his forthcoming dessert-only Thursday evenings at Cafe Rosamond. They started this week, and I trotted along with Jess.
I'm telling you, if you're anywhere near Smith Street on a Thursday night, you HAVE to drop in to Rosamond for dessert. There are no bookings, so just rock up between 7 and 11 and hopefully manage to snare a seat (there are only 25). Order tea or coffee and either one, two or three dishes ($20/$30/$40 - great value considering the number of elements, quality ingredients and time-consuming techniques involved in the creation of each dish).
We had two each. One had a cube of pear pound cake, toasted couscous, honey cream that was just madness, pear sorbet and toasted millet. The other was the "Black Gold" dish I wrote about in my MFWF round-up: it included poached pineapple and (SENSATIONAL) dehydrated pineapple, rigatoni filled with mascarpone, syphon coffee gel, ground Yirgacheffe coffee beans, gold leaf, coffee meringue, dark chocolate granules and micro leaves.
The dishes on offer will change weekly. If there's one thing you need to try though, it's one of the dessert sticks ($9 each). They are glass tubes the circumference of a cigar, filled with four different flavours, and to consume them you tip them up to your mouth and, er, suck hard for a flavour explosion. The ones we tried on Thursday were filled with dried white chocolate, peach, pistachio and rose... and I have it on good authority that next week's will contain pancake, maple syrup and banana (!!!).