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 morelandvegiecoop@gmail.com   

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

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Railway Hotel

I've been travelling past the Railway Hotel in North Fitzroy every weekday for around 4 years now, and I have never really been tempted to go inside. One rather peculiar visit to the bottle shop put me off going back. The mixture of stark white linoleum, old men and decor which hasn't been updated since 1975 made me feel like I was invading a sanctum of sorts. It didn't really have the welcoming vibe.

Now, I'm going to put this out there, I'm kind of looking for a new local. Its been a few months since I have been located across the street from the Lomond, and the promises I made about always going back have been  broken. A recent visit to the bottle shop saw Jeff confessing to James how much he misses him...and I realised that I also have a gaping hole in my heart!

This review by the Age and a few reassuring words from my old neighbour were enough for me to coerce a few friends to have a pub meal on a Thursday night. Maybe the Railway could be the one...the Empress had failed me, maybe her homely neighbour could be the place for me....I was gunning for the Railway from the start. I WANTED it to be good.

I wanted it so bad that I wasn't put off by the kitchen closing at 8:30pm. And I wasn't put off by the Fluor lighting, or the lack of music...or the weird old guys ogling my girlfriends legs...I only saw $15 parma and $15 jug of beer and the hipsters lurking on the tables at the back of the restaurant. In retrospect, maybe this wasn't such a good sign.

Without going into to much negative detail, the parma was ok- nothing special. The wiener schnitzel is defiantly not top quality veal (and possibly not veal at all) and the chicken cacciatore was reportedly like eating a greasy pigeon. Not the good kind...the diseased kind that live at Flinders St Station. 

HOWEVER, I am not giving up on the Railway. It's certainly not going to take the place of the Lomond in my heart, but the pool table and beer garden look pretty appealing for a causal weekend afternoon. The beer garden is pretty impressive, and the beer is served cold.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Shanghai Dumpling House

Over the Easter long weekend I made a very long trip up the Calder Highway. I could write about who has the best dim sims and potatoe cakes (FYI - Sealake) but I will spare you the details of my most disgusting food habits and move on to tell you about my road food come down. Shanghai Dumpling House.

It's not fancy, it's not classy, but it's a straight down the line, no fuss dumpling house. And I love the shit out of it. And sinfully cheap. If you have been in Melbourne for more than 5 minutes there is a good chance you have already eaten here.

This lunch was shared with my bf Jeff. I always reminisce when we come here, as it was one of the first places he took me when I moved here, and we both feel as enthusiastic now as we did back then about the place. I remember how overwhelmed I was the first time I ate here, the noise, the shared tables, and the picture of Chairman Mao on the wall next to the lucky cat. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t grow up in a town of no multiculturalism or restaurants, but you won’t find a place like this in Mildura.

We had a plate of steamed pork and a plate of mushroom and veg dumplings and a serve of Chinese broccoli and oyster sauce, covered liberally with chilli sauce. Washed down with Soy bean drink. Mmmm.

What I love about Shanghai Dumpling is that it never changes; the food is always exactly as I remember. It’s filling, it’s comforting and no other dumpling place seems to be able to knock it off my number one perch. For those of you who are not aware, its at 25 Tattersals lane, Chinatown. And this feast cost us a grand total of $20.


This years Melbourne Food and Wine Festival  very sadly passed me by. I  have no one to blame but myself, there were plenty of wonderful free events...but I did manage to get myself along to Bottega for an express lunch. Express lunch is a tried and true format, two courses, a glass of wine and coffee for $35.

I have had a few express lunches in my time, some good and some not so good. Bottega was most defiantly in the GOOD category. Unfortunately there are no photos, as I was completely caught up in the meal! 

I had a entre of heirloom tomato caprese salad with goats cheese and pumpkin rollo with burnt butter, sage and hazelnut for main. Both dishes were sensational. The heirloom tomatoes had a wonderful diversity of flavour and colour, from what I could tell there were tigerella, yellow pear, green zebra and black pear (love heirloom tomatoes!) the tartness of the goats cheese balanced the sweetness of the tomatoes,  while the addition of black olives and basil made a dish that was in perfect harmoney.   
Main course of pumpkin rollo was fantastic. It was kind of like a rolled up pumpkin lasagne, and looked a little like canelloni. Butter and sage is my new favourite thing, and I have noticed it cropping up on a few menu's around town. Its a wonderful seasonal combination of flavour. Topped of with a glass of sangiovese it was a throughly enjoyable meal. Very friendly and professional service, I highly recommend Bottega lunch!