Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Fortnightly round-up (25 April)

Post-it note art mural detail

Good news: the famous Borek shop in the Deli Hall at Queen Victoria Market (where a mere $2.50 will still buy you one of the best quick lunches in town) is about to open an additional outlet in the city, at 481 Elizabeth Street. I chatted to the formidably efficient Borek Lady and she confirmed that it should open in about four weeks - and that due to the increased kitchen space they'll be offering a wider range of delicious and cheap Turkish snacks in the new outlet, including gözleme. Yesssss.

Borek ladyNew borek shop

Another month, ANOTHER two new Mexican restaurants opening in Melbourne. As one chef joked on Twitter, he's thinking of opening a Mexican restaurant called Bandwagon. I haven't been to either yet, but you'll find Radio Mexico Taquería & Bar at 11 Carlisle Street, St Kilda, and Chingón Cantina y Taquería at 413 Swan Street, Richmond (a few minutes down the road from Fonda).

Last week I was invited along to a blogger dinner at Touché Hombre (one of the two Mexican restaurants that opened last month, as mentioned in one of my previous round-ups). While being treated to samples from their menu - the morcilla and breakfast tacos are their best in my opinion, and the ice cream sandwiches pictured below are a highlight - I took the opportunity to grill owner Davis Yu (who at the age of 21 re-opened the restaurant formerly known as Lynch's as the Millswyn in 2010) about the next restaurant he has in the pipeline.

Provisionally named Claremont Tonic, Yu's third restaurant will be dishing up Thai and Japanese flavours on a menu focussed on share plates. It's scheduled to open in June around the corner from MamaBaba in South Yarra, and Yu intends for it to be the "less grungy sister of Touché Hombre".

Touche HombreIce cream sangas

May 12 to May 19 is Good Beer Week! The festival celebrating good beer has 100 events scheduled at venues across Melbourne and Victoria, including breweries, bars, pubs, restaurants, cocktail bars and chocolatiers. A highlight will be the Masterclass of Champions which sees the brewers from Nøgne Ø (Norway) and Moylan's (US) come together at Hargreaves Hill's brewery in the Yarra Valley to create a one-off brew, hold an intimate beer masterclass then join guests for a three-course degustation prepared by a team drawn from the Stokehouse and Auction Rooms by The 36 Collective. The whole program for Good Beer Week can be browsed day-by-day here.

Local Taphouse

In addition to hosting several events for Good Beer Week, the Local Taphouse serves a damn fine Southern fried chicken in a bucket, with coleslaw, mash and gravy. I just thought you should know.

Southern Fried Chicken

And speaking of Southern food, my friend Ev and I booked tickets and went along to the final You don't mess with Texas dinner held last week at St Ali by our friend Jess Pryles (aka Burger Mary) and the boys from Red River BBQ. We loved the pickle chips, the jalapeños stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon, the amaaaazing mac 'n cheese, and the peach cobbler for dessert. Ditto the excellent pulled pork and the Texas cut brisket that had been smoked for 16 hours. Jess even coaxed several dinner guests (yours truly included) to join her in the street outside to learn how to line-dance. Thank y'all for a fun night out.

Texas BBQTexas BBQ Mac n cheeseTexas BBQ

On Fridays, both the Prahran Market and Queen Victoria Market branches of Market Lane Coffee sell $4 Portuguese custard tarts made by Angie Locharden. They are the BEST Portuguese custard tarts I've tasted in Melbourne.

Market Lane coffee

Finally, I loved my initial visit last week to Casa Ciuccio, the new Gertrude Street restaurant from Matt McConnell, Jo Gamvros and the rest of the Bar Lourinhã team. Highlights included veal rib (a coal pit daily special, at market price) and the green tomatoes served with wonderful buffalo milk queso fresco ($16). When you visit be sure to order the chargrilled octopus tentacle (sold by weight), as well as at least one item slow cooked for a minimum of three hours over the coals.

Veal ribGreen tomatoes and buffalo queso fresco

Links of Note:

- A great interview on The Design Files (by Lee Tran Lam, one of Sydney's best food bloggers) with Rachel Luchetti and Stuart Krelle of Luchetti Krelle, the design studio behind some of Sydney's hot new restaurants.

- David Chang shared his five favourite Sydney restaurants with the Wall Street Journal.

- Chef Sandwich blogger rants: why is there so much lazy, self-indulgent, pompous drivel in food writing?

- Words of wisdom from former New York Times food writer and editor Amanda Hesser: it’s nearly impossible to make a living as a food writer, and it’s only going to get worse.

- Fresh back from their Argentinean adventure (more about which you'll hear soon), Ben Edwards and Dan Sims from The Wine Guide have posted a new entry in The Sommelier Diaries, their excellent series of in-depth interviews with the best sommeliers in Australia and beyond. The latest interview is with Kim Bickley, from Luke Mangan's Glass Brasserie, and I recommend reading the previous 13 interviews too.

- Saveur announces its Best Food Blog Awards finalists in the Best Food Humor Blog, Best Food Photography and Best Celebrity Food Blog categories.

- A gorgeous post on Cook Republic showing how to make hung yogurt.

- At first I thought folks on Twitter were taking the piss, but it turns out that René Redzepi really will run a Noma pop-up at Claridge's during the London Olympics, for £195 per head.

- The Atlantic presents six rules for dining out, from a frugal economist.

- Fascinating article on food wastage by Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella, looking behind the scenes at Food Bank.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Fortnightly round-up (11 April)


There has been a spate of food stores adjoining cafes/restaurants opening in the last few months: think Albert Street Food & Wine, and the Mini Marche at Hardware Societe. Now Southern Thai cafe Middle Fish has also started stocking Thai ingredients that they use in their dishes for you to take home (I was particularly taken with the Police Dog Brand tins). Bubbly proprietor Pla is only too happy to explain to you how the products are best used.

Police dog brandMiddle Fish

Speaking of Middle Fish, their kang tai pla (Southern style anchovy curry, $15.50) is the breakfast of champions.

Middle Fish curry

Coming soon to a blog near you: an article about lots and lots of different small batch gins and tonics (here's a sneak preview). It's taken a long while, but I've nearly finished it. I've been reading some gin literature as part of my research, and have particularly enjoyed The Bartender's Gin Compendium by Gaz Regan, and Craze: Gin and Debauchery in an Age of Reason by Jessica Warner.

Mass gin tasting

The organic bento at Kappaya Japanese Soul Food Cafe at Abbotsford Convent. Strongly recommended.

Kappaya bento

Some happy snaps of Easter culinary highlights: Mum's hot cross buns, served at our traditional Good Friday Champagne Breakfast;

Hot cross buns

Paola's chicken brodo with handmade agnolotti (stuffed with crispy pancetta and roasted peas), served at Sunday lunch;

Paola's brodo

céleri rémoulade (quite possibly my favourite salad of all time. OF ALL TIME!);

Celeri remoulade

and a rather scary looking flourless chocolate cake. Who needs Easter eggs?

Flourless chocolate cake

Links of Note:

- Mel wrote a great post about the ethics of restaurant food blogging on Fooderati. I really wish all bloggers would abide by these principles - the bad apples that don't give the rest of us a bad name. I like too that Mel included some advice for restaurants as well: don't encourage bad behaviour by courting it!

- Food blog ethics aren't just confined to the "dining out" blogs: the vexed issue of recipe copyright keeps cropping up on "dining in" blogs. Local bloggers Green Gourmet Giraffe and Confessions of a Food Nazi have written about it, noting that the author of Lambs' Ears and Honey has posted a follow up post to the original one that sparked the controversy.

- Squid Ink, L.A. Weekly's food blog, posted a neat Venn diagram showing L.A.'s idea of Mexican food vs what Mexicans really eat.

- To score [wine] or not to score: that is the question, writes Tom Hogan on I Love Riesling.

- Keen to relive the MFWF? Dining Nirvana wrote a wrap-up of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, including a handy list of blog posts by other bloggers reviewing MFWF events: part one, part two.

- Gorgeous post on Fox's Lane about a community cider pressing day.

- DineSmart 2011 raises $352,328 to fund 91 Community Projects. Bravo to all who donated/fundraised, especially to Chin Chin for their Victorian champion fundraising effort!

- BOOKMARK: Eater's The 38 Essential New York Restaurants, April '12.

- Peruvian food in Surry Hills? Yes please. From A Table for Two.

- Also drooling over photos of new Sydney restaurant Sixpenny on The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry. I'm heading up to Sydney next month: now taking suggestions on where I should eat and drink...