Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Parkview Hotel

The Parkview is perched on the corner of Scotchmer and St Georges in North Fitzroy and is fondly know to my lovely boyfriend as 'the spew'. Don't ask, don't tell. For many years I thought that the best possible thing about this place was its view of Piedemontes (have written about my eternal love for Piede's here).

The front sports bar isn't going to win any points for atmosphere, the staff pretty much look like they want to top themselves, and pokies are a big off put, but its really not that bad, and the lure of a cheap parma is sometimes to hard for me to resist. 

So on a rather desperate Wednesday night, three days before I pack my life up in boxes and put it in storage, I decide that we should go to the Spew. Although it wasn't parma night, I was happy enough for it to be $16 Portahouse night.

The steak was sprisingly good, the cut of meat was good quality, thick cut, and cook to a perfect meduim. The mushroom sauce (or gravy) left a little to be desired, but when you are getting a nice steak for under $20, bitching about the sauce is a bit trivial.

If your not that fussy, and like a cheap midweek meal, the Parkview is OK and will hit the spot.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Toto's Pizza House

One of the best things about working in a hospitality once upon a time, is coming back and being the diner. It's been years since my tired little feet pounded the tiled floors of Toto's, but the greetings are standard "Niiiiiickiiii! Good to see ya sista".

I can't eat at any other pizzeria without feeling like I'm cheating on them. I do. And I always feel just a little bit guilty.

The menu at Toto's isn't going to blow you away, but all the favorites are there. Spaghetti Marinara, Pizza Bologna, Pumpkin Lasagna!     

I have a love hate relationship with pizza. I love a good pizza. But I hate how hard it is to find one. I'm not sure if its because I ate this style of pizza every week for years but I always love a Toto's super special.

And the marinara. The praws are juicy, and the sauce is always rich. I add a disgraceful amount of chili and cheese, and proceed to inhale the dish. Its not pretty.

If you are in the area, check out Toto's. The food is cheap, and service is friendly and fast, and I can assure you that the kitchen is clean and the people who work here are happy.

Perfect for a per Cinema Nova dinner.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hey Presto...Cashew & Parsley Pesto

The weather in Melbourne has been quite splendid this November.  Plenty of rain and loads of wonderful sunshine has kicked my garden plot into full production.

Among other delicious things, the garden plot has provided an abundance of parsley.

 What do you do with bags and bags full of parsley? You made PESTO!

I have had a pretty good success rate with pesto in the past, so this little recipe is an off the top of the head number. For this batch, I hijacked Nicole Jone's kitchen, and used her whiz bang food processor. But a mortar and pestle will do.

You will need:
  • a truck load of parsley 
  • around a cup of cashew 
  • a hand full of almonds
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • around a quarter of a cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • a cup or so of Parmesan finely grated
  • teaspoon salt and a grind of pepper

remove stalks from the flat leaf

add nuts and give it a good whiz

add the cheese, and most of the olive oil...pulsing the food processor gently as you add the oil

and hey presto, you got PESTO!

The texture of the pesto was pretty dense, so I ground some more nuts separately and folded them into the mixture.

So what do you do with this green velvety delight? Why, you made pasta of course.

And you wash it down with a nice cold beer. Spring on a plate.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

CERES Salads!

My little garden has been bountiful....

From ground.... salad bowl

Sprin onion, + potatoe + parsley = kick ass potatoe salad!

Monday, November 8, 2010

My little slice of CERES

Back in June all my dreams came true. 

I received a magical little email from the CERES Garden Collective informing me that I was now the trustee of a garden plot number 5. I was so astonished to be reading this news, I had been on the waiting list for almost two years, I had all but forgotten about signing up! I am now a paid up and proud Garden Collective member!

So over the past few months, I have lived and breathed my little garden. I'm pretty sure that all of my friends a sick of hearing about soil conditioning and planting seasons, but I am totally committed, and discovering that I have a pretty green thumb! 

Some early pics of the plot - July/August 



Growing veggies has been something I have been interested in for a while. I like the idea of organic, local produce, and CERES has given me the opportunity to have a really good go at producing. I have had varied amounts of success in pots at home. Last year I had a wicked tomato/chili/basil crop, but nothing else really took off, much to my disappointment! 

Growing at CERES has been an entirely pleasurable experience. I'm not eating from it every night, but I have had a bunch of stuff, and been able to share with friends. 

My winter/early spring crop included spinach (tons!), beetroot, baby carrots, lettuce and rocket! 

I am patiently waiting for my potatoes (six months in the growing!).  Late spring/early summer is an exciting season, I have sweet corn, eggplant, chili, tomato and zucchini growing at various stages. I really can't tell you how much I am looking forward to the sweet sweet tomatoes. 

I will make a separate post with some of the lovely dishes I have made from my loot.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I have been cheating on my blog with my garden plot.

It has been a very long time since I have blogged. I'm just going to come out and say it, I have been cheating on my blog with my garden plot.

And I took a cheeky little holiday to Thailand. 

Now that I have thrown that one out there, I'm just going to move on, and start flooding you with joyous stories about the wonderful, beautiful and magical little plot I was so fortunate to inherit at CERES. With a few foodie posts that I have collected along the way over the past few months.

More to come.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Little Creatures Beer Hall

There are two things I love about Little Creatures . The beer and the bikes. 

That's not really true, I also adore Little Creatures Pipsqueak Cider. And as I found out today, I also have a soft spot for the Amber Ale. 

On a rather ho-hum Queens long weekend, I needed a little pick me up, and wandered to the beer hall. Its a big, noisy space located at 222 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. Its bright, bustling and in its second, maybe third year, quite popular.

I wouldn't say the atmosphere here is warm, but its definatly friendly, and there are plently of beers and/or other beveridges to chooese from. On this occoasion ther was no food consumed, but from what I could see, there are plenty of options to choose from. Snacks, mains, or shared. 

I would highly recommend the Little Creatures Beer Hall for an afternoon drink, and maybe a few more. I have herd that the steamed muscles are fab.  

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Best Sunday Roast in Melbourne - Contender # 2 The North Fitzroy Arms

Best Sunday Roast in Melbourne, contender #2 is The North Fitzroy Arms. 

I have written about the North Fitzroy Arms before, and I find it to be extremely pleasant. The wait staff are really friendly, and the atmosphere is warm and relaxed. On a Sunday evening they serve a traditional roast from 5pm. 

Sunday roast at at the Arms is possibly the best value I have come across. For $10 you get a full roast meal, for $15 you can have roast plus soup or dessert. Today's roast was beef, and dessert was the delightful Queen's Pudding. 

This roast is by no means the most adventurous, there are no hidden surprises. Its straight up roast beef, with carrots, pumpkin and potato and those pesky frozen peas (AGAIN). The beef is done well, but its still tender, and there is a nice little bite of mustard in the gravy.

My Queen's Pudding on the other hand is extremely surprising, and a little bit special. Inside this ramekin are layers of warm berry compote, lemon curd and cakie pudding. Topped with a soft meringue and biscotti on the side. It was on of those desserts where you wish it would never end. Each mouthful is a little bit of sweet but tart heaven. 

You aren't going to be blown away by an inventive twist on a traditional meal, but for $10 you will walk away with a full belly and some change in your pocket. 

Week 2 of the search for the Best Sunday Roast in Melbourne, The North Fitzroy Arms leads the charge.

Have you been to the Arms?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bar Fred - 797 Nicholson St, North Carlton

Is it possible to go wrong with a $5 pizza?

bad photography due to very dim hipster lighting

I'm sure it is possible to go wrong with $5 pizza, you could be ordering a domino's pizza. But at Bar Fred, the pizza is good, and the beer is cold. The beer is likely to be $10, but it will probably be huge. 

I like Bar Fred, it's within stumbling distance from home, its not going to cost you a fortune, there is no eftpos, which assures this and they play good music. They even play whole albums.  

My first few times here were grand. Got a seat at the bar, the friendly bar tender made suggestions on the drinks, some witty banter was exchanged and a great time was had. On my most recent visit, my encounter was less than pleasant. Now I know everyone has bad days, but there are lines that once crossed are hard to come back from. It went a little like this....

Me: Hi, I'd like to order two pizza's, this one and that one. And two honey wheat beers. 
Bar chick: fine, where are you sitting. 
Me: on the left had side, at the back. 
Bar chick: there is no honey wheat beer left
Me: OK, I'll pick something else.
Bar chick: raises her hand and slaps the bar loudly. The guy standing next to me so stunned be stands to attention and says "what the fuck".
Me: I'll just pay for the pizza then.

I have been mulling this over for a day or so now, and I'm going to go with, it is never OK to be that rude to patrons. Even if you are a hipster. If this was my first experience at Bar Fred, I would never go back. 

Eating it up in Brisbane

A few weeks ago I took a nice little long weekend in Brisbane. I love Brisbane, its warm, the bogans are hilarious, and the seafood is everywhere! You can get a Morton Bay bug until 3am in the Queen Street Mall, and that is something Melbourne just can't compete with. 

One of the rather interesting places I ate at was Vapiano's . It was a combination between a trendy bar and fasta pasta. Its a concept, and for most purposes it seems to work well.

When you walk in you are given a card, which you swipe to purchase everything, and pay at the end. There is a line for the bar, a line for pizza, and a line for pasta. Tables are mostly communal, and I recommend finding a place to perch before braving the pasta line. 

And this is Vapiano's weak point. While I lined up for the pizza, my friend lined up for the pasta....she waited...and waited....and waited. The pasta is cooked while you are standing in line. But the pizza isn't. If there were less people in line, maybe the pizza and pasta would be in sync, but instead I sat at our table, all alone, for almost half an hour. The cute little pots of herbs on the tables kept me entertained for a few minutes though. 

The food is pretty good value for money, and everything tasted quite fresh. We had pesto, baby spinach and prawn pasta, and parmesan, prosciutto and chili pizza.  We stayed until they turned the lights out. 

Death by cupcake

It was my turn to volunteer for the monthly morning tea at work, so i whipped these bad boys up!

On the left you have coffee cream, and on the right you have earl grey. On the top left, is an example of how much butter went into them. Mmmmm, death by cupcake.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Small Block

Small Block is one of those places that sometimes I love, and sometimes I hate. 

I hate it when I have to sit on the stairs, in the way, waiting for a table. I love it when I have the day off work, and the staff is relaxed. I hate it when hipsters sit outside, sipping too slowly on their soy lattes, smoking their cigarettes, and taking up a table I could be sitting at. But can you really give a cafe a bad review because its too popular? Probably not, and I won't. 

On a rather lovely Wednesday I was feeling quite unwell. With hardly any will to live and no energy to cook for myself, I staggered down the road and ordered scrambled fetta and pesto eggs, latte and OJ. By no means was the cafe empty, but the service was quick. I am always amazed by the number of people who have nothing better to do midweek, at 2 in the afternoon, but drink coffee and eat eggs. Clearly I am jealous. But I enjoyed my eggs, and the coffee was and always is fab.

Best Sunday Roast in Melbourne - Contender # 1 The Gem

As winter rolls in my appetite for hearty warm meals grows. And so, my search for the best Sunday Roast in Melbourne begins. I estimate that I have at least 3 months worth of cravings up my sleave, and an eating partner with an insatiable taste for roasted meats.

The search begins at The Gem, 289 Wellington Street, Collingwood. The Gem is a little rough around the edges. The walls are plastered with gig posters and the pool table is missing a ball. All these things add to the warm, no bullshit atmosphere of the pub.

Onto the meal. For $18 you have a choice of roast pork or lamb, with veggies and Yorkshire pudding. The lamb is a good size meal, with juicy meat, gravy, roast potatoes, parsnip, carrots and peas. Best of all is the yorky pud. Yum, yum, yum. My fellow dinner says in summary, "at first I was mad that the pudding was soaking up all my gravy, then I took a bite and I was in heaven. Gravy heaven. I would come back for the gravy alone".

Now I don't know if the Gem is going to be the best roast in Melbourne, but for the first cab off the rank, the standard has been set. My only critique is that the potatoes could have been better roasted, and I am not a fan of frozen peas, ever. At $18, the Gem represents good value.

Have you eaten at The Gem?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Grand BBQ- Target Centre, Melbourne

Have I mentioned lately that I am mad for dumplings? 

My cravings take me all places, this week they took me to the Grand BBQ in the Target Centre off Bourke Street. 

At the Grand BBQ you can choose from a menu or the young tao foo. Young tao foo are selections of vegetable and bean curd stuffed with fish paste and other tasty teats like friend bean curd skin and chicken dumplings, with noodle and soup. 

I'm really not sure if the dumplings are mock meat? I don't think so, but quite frankly I am to afraid to ask. I don't come here for the friendly service. One time, I lost my numbered ticket, and the same woman who served me almost refused to give me my lunch...this same woman took my money and  stated at me with rage when I couldn't decide which dumplings to have...

Anyhoo, I have the vermicelli, with chicken broth, two chicken dumplings, one bean curd roll, two crispy bean curd skin and a pork and prawn dumpling. At $9.50 its extremely good value, and its EXTREMELY yum. 

A Birthday of glorious food...

This years birthday was a celebration filled with good friends, to many drinks and great food. I have come out the other end a year older, a few kilos heavier, and with a few memories for the vault. Thanks to those who made it one to remember! 

I'll start with Yum Cha at Yum Cha Cafe.

I am my no means a Yum Cha expert. I don't really know the rules, but we had a nice lunch. We felt obliged to pick whatever was on offer, and ended up with a few too many fried selections. But we ate until we were full to our eyeballs, and had some very yummy dumplings (prawn, pork and prawn, duck and pork). 

The main event was duck. Sweet sweet peaking duck. 

My only birthday request as a peaking duck, at The Old Kingdom on Smith Street, Collingwood. We were served by the duck master, who slices a peaking duck like a surgeon. The man has magic hands. I ate until I was in a food coma. It was by far the most enjoyable duck session I have had, mainly because there was more than enough food to fill our tummies, but I also enjoyed being told off for not rolling my pancakes properly. I will return to the Old Kingdom time and time again. 

A duck should always be washed down with a glass of Pinot, and we did so with a bottle of Le Chat Noir 2008. It was rich and smooth, with pronounced cherry flavours and strong tannin. 

To round out the decadence, a cheese platter tops me off nicely. All essentials can be found at Maria's Coffee House and Deli on Nicholson St, North Carlton. You will probably not get the most friendly service in the world, but you will get the most amazing prosciutto you have ever eaten. Maria's has all essentials you could possibly need. Including wine. 

Maria's has quite a nice international selection, but I chose an old favorite, Trentham Estate Pinot. Its affordable, and very drinkable. 

In summary, as far as 20 something birthdays goes, this one was 10/10. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thai Pumpkin Soup

Thai pumpkin soup is my first creation from the organic food box. The soup is really simple, takes about half an hour and its hearty and warming. 

With the veggies from the food co-op, meals like this one are super cheap. This soup cost less than $10, eat your heart out Kurtis Stone. I even have plenty left over for lunch.  

The following ingredient list makes around 4 average size serves.

  • 1/4 Kent Pumpkin
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 small brown onions 
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 tbl spoon red curry paste
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 150ml coconut milk 
Dice the onion, pumpkin and carrot into small cubes. Throw the veggies into a large soup pot with a knob of butter and a lug of olive oil.  Add the crushed garlic, red curry paste and season with salt and pepper. 

Cook on a medium heat for between 5-10 minutes and then add a cup of water. Leave to simmer for another 5 minutes. Add the cup of lentils and 1 litre of chicken stock cover and let simmer again for 10 minutes to allow the lentils to soften. When the lentils are soft, add the coconut milk. 

Use a blender or stab mixer to wazz the soup up. Be very careful to not get hot orange goop all over your kitchen! I found that the soup had a nice smooth consistency, but if you use a little more pumpkin you may need to add some more liquid. 

Serve with a dollop of sour cream! Yummm. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

North Fitzroy Arms

296 Rae Street, 
North Fitzroy 

Jeff and I have driven past the North Fitzroy Arms about a hundred times in the last few months. Every time I say 'Oh we should go there!' It's getting old, but tonight we finally remembered to check it out! 

Tucked away in quiet Rae Street, the Arms is a sweet little local with a bar at the front, a restaurant out the back and a pretty good menu. There are plenty of gluten free and vego options and heaps of wine by the glass. 

Tonight I had a seafood spaghetti with chili and a glass of Mornington Peninsula Pinot. 

Jeff had the fish of the day which was Atlantic Salmon on a light tomato risotto.

Both dishes were excellent. My seafood pasta was light and fresh tasting, the prawns and mussels were juicy and the chili really lifted the white wine sauce.

The service was friendly and the atmosphere was relaxed and warm. Its seems like a place that a lot of people love, people seem at ease here.

Both our mains and a glass of wine each came to $66. We really loved the Arms and were talking about what we wanted to order next time.

Moreland Organic Food Co-op

Thanks to Carla's recommendation on Easy as (vegan) pie I decided to give the Moreland Organic Food Co-op a go....and i love it! I have been like a little kid waiting for Christmas this week. 

I'm really astounded by how great the value is, I don't know how we are going to eat it all, but I'm sure we will manage. 

This weeks box has:
  • Carrots
  • Onion
  • Cauliflower
  • Pumpkin
  • Cos and baby spinach
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Custard Apple
  • Red grapes; and
  • Sweet corn
I really encourage anyone who lives in the area to give it a go, the above box is $25 and its local and organic. You can trial the co-op for a month before joining for $30.

To learn more about how the co-op works and how to get involved check out Carla's post, its very detailed! or email   

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cheese affair

I want to marry this cheese. 

What you are looking at here, is some fine South Gippsland Shadow of Blue, stocked in the deli at my favorite supermarket, Piedimonte's.  

The cheese has a rich and creamy flavour and finishes with a lovely sharpness. Its not to overpowering, and is best eaten at room temperature. Wonderful with a cold Pinto Grigio, on a Saturday afternoon, or any other time really.   

Matsumoto Japanese Restaurant

Its no huge secret that I'm not the biggest fan of Japanese food. I love the way the food looks, but that doesn't often translate to wanting to put it in my mouth. I'm sure it has something to do with my meat and three veg upbringing, but that really isn't a good enough reason to avoid such fascinating cuisine.  

Over the past few weeks, all I have been wanting to eat is Asian food. Chinese, Thai, Malaysian....even Japanese. Miso and Gyoza. Mmmmmm.

With Japanese, its the main meal that get stressed about, I never know what to choose. Don't want to go with teriyaki, boring. And tempura is a little same same. Tonight, Jeff forced me to have beef sukiyaki, and it was fabuous. 

Sukiyaki is a dish cooked in one pot, at your table. It was quite amusing sitting in the middle of a busy restaurant, having a waiter cook our meal in front of us.  The beef was amazingly tender, and the combination of veg was delish. 

Cabbage, onion, carrot, greens, swiss brown and oyster mushrooms and delicate rice noodles. I ate untile I had sukiyake coming out my eye balls. And I even dipped the beef in the egg wash, much to Jeff's amusement, I actually enjoyed it. It was lovely!

Matsumoto is at 48 Lygon St, Brunswick East.

Friday, April 9, 2010