Thursday, January 9, 2014

Crap, Are we already in January?

One swift look at the date of my last entry and a slower moment of 'mental maths' concludes that I have been cured of my addiction to blogging or I have just been time warped into the future. Or the more likely case is I have just moved on with the introduction of Chloe in my life (and the Wife's of course). 

On a more positive note, I have just renewed my Flickr account so that means I shall be uploading numerous pictures and hopefully I can get one or two or maybe more food pictures up on this almost defunct space of mine. 

So stay tuned (I promise the next post won't take 3 months). 

Bye bye for now.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Update on life

It's 5.30am and I find myself going back to my blog that i have left silent for months. Against the background of have a wife that's exhausted, catching on sleep, evident from her snoring or heavy breathing as she calls it and my new born (snoring too, like mom) resting on my chest (favourite sleeping position to date), I ponder the existence of Lots of Cravings.

As I have just revealed, the existence of Chloe was probably one of the reasons why I virtually stopped blogging on short notice. The excitement of a little one coming to our lives suddenly took over any "kick" I had for food blogging.

Guess what, eating out suddenly became more fun, there was no need to spend minutes taking the perfect snap, make mental notes of each dish we had and spend hours writing it up and hope that the community will benefit out from my brilliant or not so brilliant meal.

One of the reasons why I started out food blogging was to put a reference to good food, somewhere on the Internet. Back in KL and Brisbane, it seemed rather useful, with lots of good food to be had but virtually undiscovered in the blogosphere. Guess what again, Melbourne has one of the most exciting food scenes and with reservations and waiting lists a must and one of the largest food blogging population in a city. Suddenly I felt that this whole taking picture and writing about food almost seemed redundant.

So where does this take the future of this blog? Who knows? With a little one that won't be ready to dine out in the coming months, maybe I will have more time to reflect on this. For all you know, I might end up focusing on child friendly venues, or the most newest or undiscovered places that are not covered by the Net or maybe back to square one, actively food blogging once again.

Whatever it is, I know I can still rely on the many food blogs around for recommendations, just like my readers used to come here for inspiration on where to eat. 

So tata for now. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Hercules Morse @ South Melbourne

There's nothing better than to drive 5 minutes (well maybe 10 in heavy traffic) to the quiet suburb of South Melbourne for a simple dinner on days when we are just not in the mood for cooking. 

We have our favorites but one particular night the Wife insisted we try something new and the first thing I usually do is to go on Urbanspoon; to see if anything new had popped up or something good that we have missed. We had never come across Hercules Morse and a little search confirmed that it had just opened late last year. Reading the website and looking at the place, the concept is more of a bar that serves more refined cuisine in the form of tapas. The menu is compressed and at first glance, looks a little bare but more than plenty to choose from for the two of us, especially since it was our first visit. 

The place had a little crowd seated at the front and outside, enjoying the sun (this is a while back) and having a little drink. Walk in and get a seat at the end of the restaurant and it is a little quieter.

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I can't say no to crackling but maybe on this occasion I should have said no because this portion was an overkill when the Wife decided she would only took 2 or 3 pieces. That said, it was beautiful and it was toned down nicely with the apple sauce. Perfect paired with beer and shared between a few people.

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The cauliflower and cheese balls were beautiful, crisp on the outside, gooey on the inside and perfect with that mayo.

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The Morse Chip Butty is perfect for those who need carbs to soak up the alcohol; duck roasted potatoes in a buttered roll. It was carbs on carbs and on second thought we wondered why we ordered something so rich like that when all I had was a beer. The potatoes were delicious although a piece or two probably spent a little too long in the oven. 

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The beef cheeks cigar was pretty good and paired with a pretty mean salsa verde to cut through the rich meat that you can see has undergone a deep fried moment (similar to the rest of the dishes we had).

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We decided to go for a non fried dish and landed the calamari with lentils. The calamari was succulent from the minimal cooking and while the lentils looks unappetising from the colour, it was tasty and paired pretty well with the seafood. 

All in all a pretty good meal but with all good meals, it has to end with dessert.

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Reading "salted peanut brittle parfait" and I was sold and was rewarded with a smooth "ice cream" with punches of peanut throughout. Hmm and yum yum.

Address and contact details:

Hercules Morse on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. A great addition to South Melbourne, casual tapas dining, with or without alcohol.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Breizoz French Creperie @ Fitzroy, Melbourne

It looked like my blog was up and running again with all my 'prepared in advance drafts', until I realised once I stopped drafting, it was all back to square one, far too soon. 

So after a whole week and a bit of binge eating with the excuse of taking my mom in law to experience the Melbourne food scene, I decided it was good time I started drafting again.

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Its probably a well known fact that I have a sweet tooth and if you happen to finish dinner with a couple of friends early and want to continue catching up, there's no better thing than to do it over dessert. One of our go to places if we happen to be up North (or inner city north) is Breiroz French Creperie. With open hours till 11pm on Saturday, it is the perfect spot for chit chatting with the plus bonus of the place smelling of butter. However if it does get busy, the waitresses can get overly keen in clearing up the plates and asking if you would like seconds. 


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From sweet to savoury, we have only stuck to the simple sweet ones.

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On our first visit, we had the apples with cream which was good. If you prefer something simpler, the honey and lemon is soothing (sounds like strepsils but nowhere near) or the chestnut spread.

All in all, a simple place for a simple dessert.

Address and contact details:

Breizoz French Creperie on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. Probably one of the only spots I know of that closes this late and serves up a good dessert.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Vue De Monde @ Melbourne, CBD

Looking back in our first year of Melbourne, it was definitely a good year in terms of eating out. Yes, there's a lot of hatted restaurants out there (with new potential hatted ones sprouting throughout the year) but we couldn't have imagined striking off two 3 hatted restaurants in a year. While pictures from the Jacques Reymond meal seem to be have vanished into my archive of pictures, the Vue De Monde pictures are fresh out from the camera, even though the meal is close to 4 months ago. 


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Located on the 55th floor of the Rialto Towers, the surroundings was deserted on a Sunday afternoon, normal since this is the business side of town. However as expected with a top restaurant, you will be greeted by someone that is stationed at the lobby before being lead up the lift and up to your dining experience. 


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They say the view here is magnificent and that's true in any place, especially when you are up on the 55th floor. Look a little closely though and you will realise this is the west side of town and apart from Etihad stadium and Docklands, there isn't really any great architecture to admire except for the bright blue sky. 

Once you reach up, we were greeted and seated at the Lui Bar, not really informed whether it was because the table wasn't ready or this was part of the experience i.e. to sit down and have a drink before a meal. At 1.30pm (the later sitting), I would have liked the option to be seated so I can eat because I was starving by then. Another thing I noticed was the state and condition of the suits that the waiters were wearing. It looked completely worned out and one of them had a little tear and hole. Compared to what we saw in NYC, this was a little poor (despite the prices being comparable).

For the uninitiated, there's really two options here, a degustation of multiple courses or 4 courses. Although we agreed to stick to 4 courses before hand, apparently my stomach decided that we should go for the full blown meal. 

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An assortment of teasers or amuse bouches if you will are laid out to get the saliva going. From simple potato crisps (but with a really refreshing dip), cured wallaby, candied eel (awesome), a rather tiny oyster to what tasted like a palate cleanser, it was creative and we particularly loved the unorthodox plating that came along with it.

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The spanner crab was sweet and fresh as it should be and paired with avocado that had been treated into a smooth mousse with a little caviar. Simple clean flavours and left us wanting more.

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Bread was next, an assortment of sorts warmed with a rock inside the basket. A tub of Echire butter (I love this butter) is bought to the table and a nice quenelle of it is served. 

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Following on the lines of simple clean flavours, the marron was served with some flavoured butter and salt. Holy cow, this was good, bite into the juicy crustacean and all you taste of is the sea (in a good way). Now if only they could have served more than a piece, like three.

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While the first couple dishes was simple to highlight the seafood, their version of onion soup was sophisticated and gosh it was good, along with a commentary about the instrument used.

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After a high, the asparagus and duck egg was alright but no one should say no to a creamy yolk, especially one of a duck.


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The palate cleanser came with a little theatrics, the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze the herbs before a perfect quenelle of sorbet comes along.

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The first of the more "substantial" dishes, a crispy skin barramundi and this gorgeous low temperature bbq'ed prawn paired with a sauce that tasted like the sea. The prawn was definitely the highlight, almost rare with a hint of smokiness.

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We hear about David Blackmore all the time as the brand of all brands for wagyu beef. Grilled table side, it was good but when the size of it is that tiny square in the background, you can't really taste as clear as you would with a steak-like piece. As if David Blackmore wasn't grand enough, the small serve of cheeks/braise had black truffle shaved all over as well (not exactly prime season but had the indistinguishable smell on the nose). The sauce was a beet reduction, apparently a whole kilo yields nothing more than a tiny saucepan, sticky and sweet.

With that, the savoury dishes ended although we had the option to go one more. A few suggestions like lamb or another fish toyed with my mind before I decided that we will go ahead to desserts.

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A passion fruit beer (shot glass) and a coconut-like chocolate ball kicked it off, a teaser if you would like.

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The strawberry themed dessert was absolutely fantastic, with strawberries done in a few different ways and topped with some ice-cream / sorbet.

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The chocolate souffle was probably the most disappointing possible end, it tasted eggy but airy and the sauce a little rich.

Thinking back, what was even more disappointing is how I am now reading reviews of people having the full blown menu and everyone had the cheese course and we weren't given any! 

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Petit Fours came and that was the end of the meal. I remembered the platter not being very pleasing with one of the pieces tasting like soap. 

You know what they say, first impressions are important but the ending is equally as important and in this case, was rather anti climax. The amuse bouche were interesting and tasty, the seafood dishes were simple and highlighted the produce and the use of truffles and David Blackmore much appreciated. However, a disappointing dessert and a missing cheese course is probably not what you would expect from one of the most expensive restaurants in Melbourne.

(So disappointed, that I almost forgot about the delicious brioche loaf and jam that they packed for us for our breakfast the day after, loved the touch.)

Vue De Monde is certainly fitting for a special event, with the views from the 55th floor and some really good food. However, comparing this meal to the meal we had at Eleven Madison Park (bearing in mind that Eleven Madison Park was slightly cheaper and is a 3 michelin star restaurant in NYC), Vue De Monde certainly lagged behind, whether it was the number of courses, the "wowness" of the dishes and the service (I still can't believe the state of some of the waiters' suits). 

It may be the best in Melbourne to a lot of people but I think it can do even better.

Address and contact details:

Vue de Monde on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars (almost a little too generous). When it has the reputation of being one of the most expensive restaurants and one of the four 3 hatted restaurants in Melbourne, frankly, I expected a little more.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Petty Officer @ Albert Park, Melbourne

Any brunch place that is no more than a 10 minute drive from home and does not require me to drive through the city immediately gets a big tick from me. 

Now I might have implied that Crabapple Kitchen was our first "brunch" spot since coming back from Malaysia but I have got a funny feeling that after being deprived from my usual daily dose of good coffee (although I did have the odd good cup or two), we headed to the Petty Officer the day after got back to Melbourne. 

If you know where Jocks is (famous for their peanut butter and jelly ice cream which is named after the American president), this is further down the street. Taking up the corner lot coupled with the use of many windows means plenty of light and that's exactly what you want to start the day. 

Its getting incredibly hard to find breakfast dishes that sounds exciting enough for us to order (probably getting pickier). On this front, the Petty Officer brunch items all sounded pretty standard and off the mill, although we did spot a slightly more favourable lunch menu that had things like lamb shoulder, wagyu and pork belly (maybe we are just carnivores).   

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Carrying a few more pounds from the insane amount of carbohydrates, I decided to go healthy and went for the bircher muesli (something I would have never ordered but the one at Mart 130 changed my mind). This was just as good, tasted healthy and delicious without feeling like you were eating cardboard. 

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We couldn't be all that healthy and we balanced off with some corn fritters in a form that I have never seen before. Whether it was corn roll or corn sausages, the dense filling (not the way that some might like it) paired with the refreshing salsa and creme fraiche was a pretty good combination. Being greedy meant I threw a portion of chorizo which were really nothing to shout about. 

Wash it all down with some coffee and we have a happy customer. While it doesn't really serve the best coffee nor the best food, the place is nice and bright, not too crowded (at least when we were there that day) and also not too far from home. That in my books means it is a keeper and we should re-visit sooner than later.

Address and contact details:

The Petty Officer on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. Decent food and coffee, coupled with convenience for me since I stay around the area.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Wonderbao @ Melbourne CBD

I am happy to see the back logs being drafted in good time and by the time you read this, you should be glad to know I have also finally downloaded all my food pictures from the phone and camera. 

Wonderbao opened with a lot of coverage from the food blogs, Urbanspoon and even on Facebook. Specialising as the name suggests in "baos" or buns, you can have it any style as long as it is steamed (with the exception (to a certain extent) of the gua bao, the sandwich bao made famous by David Chang from Momofuku).

As with most places receiving rave reviews, there's always a crowd (I tend to stay away from crowds). Although the more troubling issue was they initially didn't open on weekends. So when they finally decided to open on Saturdays, the week before they were closing for the year, we popped in. Word of warning, it took us 5 minutes walking along A'Beckett Street before finding it rather hidden and tucked away behind some rather inconspicuous road facing shop lots.   

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As expected, there were a few "traditional" bao options and a few, well exactly 3 fillings if you wanted a gua bao. With less than 10 seats around we were lucky to get some seats, although I suspect otherwise on a busier weekday.   

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The Wife was starving and we got right into it with what essentially is a steam chinese hot dog (with a chinese sausage) and the more famous custard bun. While the fillings were pretty decent, the bun wasn't as fine or fluffy as what you will get in a good Hong Kong yum cha meal. Then again, at the cost of less then a cup of coffee, I can't really complain. 

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The Gua Bao(s) were next and we ordered the trio. The vegetarian version was surprisingly good, I suspect because the smooth silky tofu was given the deep fried treatment. The pork ones come either braised (the traditional Taiwanese way) or roasted slathered with (rather disappointingly) canned hoisin sauce (well at least that was what I spotted at the kitchen). That aside, the flavours were good; delicious fatty pork balanced with a little acidity from the pickled and preserved vegetables.

Wash it down with soya bean and hmm we had a pretty satisfying and "different" breakfast.

That said coming at about under 4 dollars a bun, you will need two to do you any good and maybe another classic bao for good measure. Alas coupled with the 4 dollar an hour parking outside the street, our meal of baos was suddenly looking a little expensive, bearing in mind these were meant to be economical, culturally and historically. 

I guess its a different story if you stay walking distance from the place or able to hop over for a take away lunch but if you have to drive down and find parking (like we did), I am not sure the baos are enticing enough to come again and re-visit (although I wouldn't mind).

Address and contact details:
      
Wonderbao on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. A refreshing new take on a staple that has been around for ages but would like to see it go even further with maybe some funky new flavours.