It's Blog Amnesty: Winter Edition today. There are lots of things I've wanted to write up in brief on the blog, so I thought I'd put them all here in the one post. Item 1: gorgeous Bastille Day tricouleur macarons filled with vanilla butter cream and a home made raspberry jam, from Pierrick Boyer's Le Petit Gâteau. Trop mignons ces petits macarons!
Cherry Tree Hotel
53 Balmain Street, Cremorne (map)
Item 2: One of my favourite places to hibernate this winter is in front of the fireplace at my beloved local, The Cherry Tree (which I have previously written about here and here). On Tuesday nights, Chrus saves me the food sections of the newspapers so I can read the reviews aloud to him and either enthuse over or decry them (or sometimes both) as he serves me a beer. It's a great pub and I can recommend their shepherds pie with buttered cabbage ($16) - the best thing on their winter menu, in my opinion.
Item 3: You heard it here first. 506 Swan Street, Richmond, the site next to the Burnley netball courts that was until recently home to Indian restaurant Fuzion, is being fitted out and transformed into a brunch cafe from the team that brought you Porgie & Mr Jones. I heard this from Mr Jones himself, Jason Jones, when I had brunch at P+MJ the other week. Given that P+MJ is one of my favourite brunch destinations (previously written up here), I was delighted to hear that his new cafe will be in my neck of the 3121 woods.
Tea House at China Town
11-17 Cohen Place, Melbourne (map)
Item 4: Next time you want to go somewhere a bit posh in Chinatown, go down the little laneway to the Chinese Museum and visit the restaurant opposite, The Tea House at China Town. Their fluffy omelette with lobster meat ($12.50) is *sensational*. The barbequeued pigeon and steamed scallops served three ways are very good too.
Level 1, 500 Bourke Street (access via Lt Bourke St), Melbourne (map)
Item 5: It's pretty easy to make me happy. For example, sit me down at the bar at MoVida Aqui with a glass of La Goya Manzanilla and a bocadillo de calamares and I am HAPPY AS A SANDBOY. But to make a visit to MoVida Aqui really *choice*, order a Martini Aqui: their crazy, fishy take on a dirty martini. Ask the charming Josh Begbie (former head bartender at Der Raum) to make it for you.
The glass is rinsed out with manzanilla rather than vermouth, and the garnish is not olives but rather a white anchovy and a pickled guindilla pepper. There ain't no anchovy like a gin-soaked anchovy! Just don't freak out when your glass ends up coated in a slight film of fishy oil.
Vegetarian drinking companions can opt to have a sans anchovy version.
438 Church Street, Richmond (map)
Speaking of Der Raum brings me to Item 6: I feel everyone needs to know immediately that the Der Raum winter cocktail menu includes a cocktail that is SERVED IN A MINIATURE WATERING CAN.
Oh yes. It's called Pushing Daisy's (sic) and it's an entirely delicious combination of Compass Box Asyla whisky, a house-made thyme syrup and a "soil" containing dark chocolate, almond and mushroom. The other cocktail from the winter menu that I just adore is the Big in Japan: made with saffron sake, Dubonnet, pressed citrus, palm sugar and artisanal winter aromatics, prepared in a coffee syphon and served warm.
162 Greville Street, Prahran (map)
Item 7: The new Ladro (in Greville Street, Prahran) opened a month or two ago. I ducked in there the other week with an American gentleman of my acquaintance, old dependable D, on our way to watch Greta Garbo movies down at the Astor.
The interior is larger but from what I could see, the decor and menu at Ladro Greville is identical to that at the original Ladro Gertrude. A word of warning - the Ladro website streams clips from Ladri di biciclette, one of the more emotionally devastating Italian neo-realist films. Proceed with caution!
Old Dependable enjoyed the pizza with mozzarella, potato, taleggio, rosemary, truffle oil and basil ($22) and I went for one I'd never had before: the Lazio with mozzarella, parsley, carciuga (artichoke and anchovy paste) and lemon ($21.50). Loved the paste and lemon combo, and the wonderfully bitter flavours in the radicchio, chicory, fennel and witlof salad ($9.50) that we shared. Definitely worth a visit if you're jonesing for pizza south of the river.
Thanh Nga Nine
160 Victoria Street, Richmond (map)
And Item 8: the place that's become my favourite Vietnamese on Victoria Street, Thanh Nga Nine. I've been there three or four times over the last six months, and each time the food has been excellent and the service frantic but friendly. Triet, who runs the front of house, is particularly nice and informative about the menu, which contains a number of items you don't see in your run-of-the-mill Vic Street joint.
My picks are the Sóc Trăng style mini pancakes ($9, can also be ordered as a vegetarian dish). They're made from rice flour with a crispy base, and topped with prawns, mung bean paste and tiny orange sprinkles of dried crushed prawns. Use both sauces (the fish sauce and the coconut cream) for maximum awesomeness.
My other favourite dish is one of the special dishes, the pork casserole in claypot ($25). The soy/fish sauce is sticky and the slow-cooked pork is beautifully tender.
They also do a particularly good coleslaw, about three or four different types of phở and have an extensive vegetarian menu. And I'm yet to visit upstairs but apparently there's free karaoke up there if you book a function. Score!