Friday, April 27, 2012

Joe can cook! Season 2 Episode 7 Slow Roast Beef

Recently, I caught an episode of Heston's latest cooking show on SBS. It left me wanting more and the first thing I did was to get a copy of all his episodes online. After being amazed at each episode and still wanting more, I found out his latest cookbook was meant to be for home cooks and bought a copy.

Flipping through the book, I realise his definition of home cooks and my definition of home cooks is still a mile away. Most recipes either require some form of complication (to me) or a ridiculous amount of time. It's fun to learn how to age meant and brine meat but really?

After leaving the book on the shelf for a week or two, I took it out again and decided I will try one of his slow cooking recipes. The idea of slow roasting is so that you retain moisture and the meat won't dry out. So it was, roast chicken or roast beef. After having roasted chicken before, beef it was.

The first thing to do was to get a juicy 2kg rib eye roast. If you want to age the meat, simply put it the meat on a cake tray and then on top of a plate and into the fridge. The time the meat sits in the fridge is really up to you, butchers generally aged their meat anywhere between 3-6 weeks. I left mine in for a day (doubt there was a difference). Bear in mind, the longer you age, the more you got to trim (the dry bits). I say if you are really keen, a week should do the trick.

First step: Take the meat and bring it to room temperature. A hour out of the fridge should be good (depending where you stay obviously).

Second step: To brown the meat. To really get a lot of flavour, get some beef fat from the butcher and extract the oil to brown your meat. Season with plenty of salt. Apparently, pepper burns in the pan and you should leave it for later.

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 You are looking at 4-5 minutes a side on high heat.

Third Step: Put the meat on a bunch of garlic and thyme. Put the beef fat on top of the meat as a layer of protection. Now is when you sprinkle plenty of pepper.

 
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Fourth Step: Original recipe says 60 degrees for anywhere between 4-6 hours, till the meat reaches an internal temperature of 55 degrees. 
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I was running short of time and during the 3.5 hours, I cranked it from 65 degrees to 90 degrees (for the last half hour). However, putting the meat in that kind of temperature means you really don't have to check the temperature until the 3 hour mark (unless your block of meat is small). 

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 Fifth step: Rest the meat. I think I had 40 minutes to rest it but the recipe says an hour. Trust me when you really do need an hour.


Sixth step: Dig into some really juicy and tender roast. Mine was still bleeding but if you look closely, the meat is not raw as an undercooked steak would be. Melt in your mouth and food orgasm at its best.

Was spending half a day cooking this roast worth it? YES!

Monday, April 23, 2012

GAS Eatery & Supplies @ South Melbourne

South Melbourne has yet to fail me when it comes to dining. Just when we thought we had covered a fair few bunch spots and it be time to move on to another area, my friend asked me if we had been to GAS Eatery & Supplies. 


So it was, brunch to be had at GAS. The place was pretty casual and we loved the long sharing table they got in the front of the house, perfect if you want to sit by yourself or go as a group. 


We walked in 5 minutes before the kitchen was going to close for the breakfast menu (I believe they stop at 1pm). Quickly reading the available choices, I ordered the frittata while the rest of the crew decided to go with the lunch options. For lunch, there is no menu to order from, its simply ordering what you see on display; ranging from sandwiches, arancini balls, sausage rolls, salmon croquettes and salads. 

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My friend recommended that we try the sausage roll and so we did. I only have bad memories of sausage rolls from the bakery or at the gas station so this was a pleasant surprise. The mince had colourful minute pieces of onions, carrots and herbs which was served alongside a refreshing salsa. Only regret was having to share this.

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The Wife ordered some salmon croquettes that were alright, a generous mix of salmon and potatoes. She also ordered some other pastries which she commented was alright too but I didn't get to have a taste. 

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The frittata or more like a huge omelette with god know how many eggs came with chorizo, chives and maybe some cheese too. If that wasn't enough, you had bacon and tomatoes on the side. Finally finished off with salted butter on toast and what you got was a really full stomach at the end of everything. 

Perfect after burning calories chasing a ball for 2 hours (futsal). 

We loved the place, even though the reheating of food done in the front of the house does make your clothes smell (if you sit inside). 

Did I mention they sell beer and wine too in the day?

Address and contact details:

Gas Eatery & Supplies on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. Seeing myself coming back, at least for the sausage roll. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Melbourne Hwaro Korean BBQ @ Melbourne CBD

Having a Korean as a close friend means eating the occasional Korean meal, especially I believe, if you speak Korean in a Korean restaurant, you will probably get slightly better service and maybe better portions. At least that was what I believed when we were back in Brisbane with a good Korean mate. 


Thankfully, I have another Korean friend in Melbourne and after 4 months of not having Korean food, we asked him to take us for some good BBQ. He certainly didn't disappoint because he took us to Hwaro and happened to know the owner of Hwaro who happened to be in the restaurant that night. 


So despite all the earlier reviews I have been reading about the place which had some complaints about service and prices, service that night was top notch. Food was brilliant which ultimately relies on marinade and quality of meat. Knowing the owners also meant we got hold of some good stuff which was within budget of our wallets. So judge the review with a pinch of salt. 


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This was the first time I had BBQ that was entirely heated via charcoal only. Usual BBQ joints we go to in Brisbane and in Malaysia uses a mix of gas and charcoal. The result? Better tasting meat and a less likely chance that meat will burn especially if you have to DIY. 


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The sides are quite ordinarily and rather limited too so if you are looking for 10-12 different looking banchan (thats what they call it), you will be disappointed. 


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What we apparently had that night is apparently not available to the public unless you happen to know the owner or if you are a VIP of the place. I believe we had the wagyu short rib and another cut that now looks like rump but with the most amazing of marbling I have ever seen. At grade 9, you can try asking but I am not sure if you will be able to order some. All I can say is it was god damn good! Compared to the ordinary wagyu on the menu, it wasn't much of a fight although still pretty good regardless. 


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If the more expensive wagyu is not your cup of tea, their pork dishes are just as good. The chilli pork belly and the marinated pork ribs are excellent if you have a smaller budget. 

There isn't a whole lot of other dishes if you don't want to do BBQ here. We also had a kimchi hot pot with spam, cheese and bottled sausages. I was told that this dish was created during the Korean War with the influence of the Americans. Interesting background and despite the contrast of flavours, it tasted pretty good.  

Overall a good recommendation if you want to have a Korean BBQ meal and if you have 50-60 dollars per person to spare. While service that night was excellent, I am told, sometimes you might have to end up cooking the meat yourself. Small complaints about the place would be the rather loud music which makes you wonder if the restaurant will turn into an underground club after it closes and with any BBQ place, your clothes will stink. 

Address and contact details:

Melbourne Hwaro Korean BBQ Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars (well for that night), I wonder how big of a difference it would be had we gone there without knowing anyone. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Gaijin @ South Yarra



As the name suggests, Gaijin isn't a place for authentic Japanese. Translated as "foreign" or "alien", this place tries to take Japanese into a different land of their own or in more common words; means serving fusion cuisine.


The menu has a huge focus on sushi rolls and I guess by labelling themselves as fusion, it gives them the green light to stuff anything they please into the rice roll; genius. The result of this concept is 25 different combination sushi rolls and then backed up by some starters, rice and noodle dishes. 


Our concept of a simple dinner back in Brisbane has always been visiting a nearby place to eat some sushi rolls, so Gaijin fits the profile of a mid week dinner place. Being a 5 minute drive away is another plus point that Gaijin gets in my books.


Now on to the sushi. 


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Spider vs Dragon Roll. Spider represents the soft shell crab and the Dragon represents the eel. Put the two together, it looks like this. While the Unagi was quite generously, the soft shell crab were more tempura batter than anything. The rice was softer than I am used to but then again, this is fusion, not authentic Japanese, so sushi rice can be whatever texture they like it to be.  


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A more contemporary order was the tempura prawn roll which came with a little crab in the filling. It tasted pretty alright, what's there not to like about fried prawns?




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Another feature of Fusion Japanese is the liberal use of mayo. This was on the spicy side to keep in sync to the name; Crunchy Spicy Salmon. The filling was a waste of calories; more tempura batter but I guess provided some texture to the dish. The salmon tasted fresh enough. While not an excellent dish, we liked where this was heading. 


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Another classic item, this time the soft shell crab roll. This came with a decent amount of crab and we liked the ebiko around it. 


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The last of the rolls; baked dynamite rolls. We loved the crab filling but the topping was kind of an over kill. The use of crab rolls or fake crab meat upset the Wife too. Order only if you like a "hot" sushi roll since this was baked and topped with sauce. 


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Credit is due where it is deserved. Their interpretation of the tori karaage was good. Instead of cubes, we had slices, deep fried and coated with a teriyaki / mayo sauce. I could have easily eaten 2 plates by myself. 

Going through the pictures again and remembering the dinner, Gaijin isn't exactly a place for a serious dinner or a dinner you would highly recommend to people. What it is (at least to me); an averagely priced* place where we can grab a quick mid week dinner that consists of sushi rolls, some are funkier than others without much fuss.

* Around $12-$13 a sushi roll and maybe $20 a person if you share 3 rolls between two. 

Address and contact details: 

Gaijin Japanese Fusion on Urbanspoon

Verdict: Still would give this a 3.5 stars out of 5 stars for what it is. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Deadman Espresso @ South Melbourne

We learn something new every time we venture down to South Melbourne, one of the neighbouring suburbs to where we stay. Already the source of groceries (Coles and the South Melbourne Market), coffee (St Ali), quick dinner meals (Garamerica, Sweet Lemon Thai and Hunky Dory), the list continues to grow as we visited Deadman Espresso, yet another place for brunch and coffee in the vicinity. 


Famous for their interpretation of BLT (Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato for those who hate abbreviations), we headed there one Sunday for a late brunch (meaning eating breakfast at lunch time). 


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Their latte comes with an unusual thick layer of milk foam, probably double of what you usually get. Their aero press fared slightly better.


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On to the their interpretation of the BLT. The Bacon is substituted for a double cooked pork belly strip (think braised then deep fried), the Lettuce becomes a spinach puree thats more of a bland pesto and the Tomato comes in the form of a gazpacho. Love the combination but I was taught by my friend that the sandwich has to be dunked into the gazpacho shot before going into your mouth which is sounds easy but freaking hard to do. The combination of soft flimsy bread  and a small shot glass means they might want to educate their customers how best to eat it.  In the end, I sort of left the gazpacho alone till the end and sort of sipped it while taking a bite of the melt in your mouth belly meat. 


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Our eyes opened wide when they mentioned their omelette had blue cheese in it. However what we found in it was more silver beet than anything else. The pungent cheese was nowhere to be seen or tasted. We almost felt cheated. Honestly, one would only order blue cheese if one loves it, so give plenty please. 

Overall, we had reasons to be disappointed especially what has been said about their signature dish. However, its only a 5 minute drive and we can overlook that if we are craving for a pork belly sandwich.

Address and contact details:

Dead Man Espresso on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3 stars out of 5 stars. Apart from the pork belly sandwich (seriously, its nowhere near a BLT), I can't see why we would come back except if we were lazy to drive any further than South Melbourne.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Moshi Moshi @ Port Melbourne

One weekend found us looking at each other with a blank face after I asked "what's for dinner?". There was nothing I felt like whipping up in the tiny kitchen and I had not come across any exciting food reviews. 

We went on to Google Map and started to look at our neighboring suburbs for inspiration before settling on Port Melbourne. The next thing to agree on was the cuisine. After a disappointing meal of cheap and quick Japanese at Samurai last night, we decided to go for some more Japanese. 

Two restaurants popped up and the one with the higher rating on Urbanspoon won; Moshi Moshi.


Calling themselves a Japanese Seafood restaurant and said to be owned and run by Japanese, we thought we would be in good hands.


The place is small and cozy with the dim lights giving that extra privacy for couples dining. After looking at the menu and failing to find inspiration in how we would order our dinner, we decided on their Seafood Platter for 2. Easy, just sit down and wait.

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The beer seemed a little expensive at $12 for a 500ml bottle but the taste made up for it. The next step is to go to a bottler and get some of these to live in my fridge for a while.

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If you are willing to fork out $89.50, you will be served a platter that is the size of the table. It looks really generous but if you stop for a moment and bring out the calculator, I reckon it almost works out to be the same if you ordered ala-carte (albeit not all the items). While it looks like fun to be digging into so many items on one plate, I had a few complaints.

I guess we were also somewhat pressured to eat what were the hot items first like the deep fried soft shell crab, the tempura rock fish, the breaded scallops and the calamari even though ideally you want to start off with the lighter sashimi items. I know its called a platter but I  couldn't help but think I would have enjoyed this far better if it was split into two courses, a hot and a cold platter.  Apart from the hot items, we had wagyu beef nigiri (overcooked), sashimi (too thinly sliced), oysters (really good), bay bug salad (slightly too much mayo dressing), tiger prawns (fresh), sushi rolls (alright) and maybe an item or two more. 

I guess in some ways we were disappointed especially with a respectable score on Urbanspoon (learnt my lesson) but I guess our dinner could have been a better experience if we ordered ala-carte instead of being lazy and settling down on a platter.

Not sure I return back to this place.

Address and contact details:


Moshi Moshi on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3 stars out of 5 stars. It seems like a real favourite to many but I guess we weren't too impressed or maybe it was a case of high expectations. However if you happen to be in Port Melbourne, this place is still a decent option for a meal. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Rich Maha @ Vermont South, Melbourne

I may have only one picture out from the meal but it has been one of more memorable ones in Melbourne to date. The best part? It was not at some fancy hatted restaurant, didn't involve live lobsters, wagyu beef or foie gras but at a humble eatery in the compound of an old shopping centre serving southern indian curries. Not to mention almost 30km out from the CBD.


The Wife had a friend visiting in Melbourne and that meant catching up over a meal. Without travelling too far, we were told Rich Maha was around the corner from he was living with his relatives and we might as well just eat there. 


No regrets.


Walking into the place, you get that familiar whiff of spices you find in southern indian curries. The layout is almost what you would find in a typical "mamak" or a place that sells banana leaf rice in Malaysia. On one side, you have a selection of curries and the open kitchen at the back that caters for the roti, thosai and noodles. The dining area is exactly the same too, rows of long tables to cater for communal sharing when it gets busy. Luckily that night, we were one of the few tables and could sit comfortably without having people stare at my food. 


One of the first thing that pop to me was the mee mamak. Essentially fried noodles done Malaysian Indian style, its a little spicy and comes with pieces of potatoes, tomatoes, tofu puffs and vegetable. It's obviously not the best I had but certainly very close. 


That night, we feasted on beef rendang, goat curry, fish curry and some eggplant masala accompanied with thosai as well. The curries were all spicy and fiery, obviously no attempt was made to cut down the chilli content for the locals. We like our thosai crisp but this came out slightly soggy but hey, I am amazed they even sell thosai compared to the more common roti.  


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It really reminded me of home and for a second I almost thought I was at home in Malaysia. 

Prices are average and you shouldn't be paying more than $15 a meal but don't expect excellent service, just remind yourself you are here just for some curry loving.

Address and contact details:

Rich Maha on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. Worth the 30km drive for some food that reminds me of home.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Brasserie Bread @ South Melbourne

Back in Brisbane, there were two spots where we would buy our bread for the week; either at a French bakery that we walk past after our Sunday morning walk or at (surprise, surprise) another French bakery that was a 5 minute drive away. There were also one or two bakeries that I would occasionally visit too.


Coming to Melbourne, one of the first few things we wanted to do is find a bakery that sells some good bread that we like and was convenient to visit. First on the list to try was Brasserie Bread, a brand coming from Sydney. The place is not exactly in the most obvious of places, hidden in a row of big warehouses on a quiet street of South Melbourne. 


It is also a pity they don't open on Sundays, the day we usually buy our bread. 


So one Saturday while waiting for my car to be serviced which was just around the corner, I decided to drop by for a bite and a loaf to go.


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Since I was going to sit for a while, I might as well start off with a latte. Decent but not the best in town.

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Looking around the menu, I couldn't go pass a croque monsieur. A simple toasted ham and cheese sandwich which had no cheese on the top. Not as heart clogging as some versions, it allowed me to have a proper taste of the sourdough they used. Like how they plated it on a wooden board.

When it came to taking away a loaf of bread, it took me a while but I eventually settled on a sour cherry sourdough loaf, one of the better loaf of breads we have had. It took a lot of discipline to ignore those almond croissants and hot cross buns too as there looked mouth watering. 

Although I still have a few places to try, I think Brasserie Bread is clearly an option for our weekly source of bread, if only they open on Sundays. 

 Address and contact details:

Brasserie Bread on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. The sandwich and coffee was alright but the star was the sour cherry sourdough loaf I bought back home.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ten Minutes by Tractor @ Mornington Peninsula

Its been a few months since we settled down in Melbourne and lets say both of us are starting to warm to our jobs and live the life in a bigger city. Living the life in a bigger city means recognising that there is way too many places to try for lunches and dinners than our wallets can handle. It does help when you realise how many food bloggers are located in Melbourne and the amount of restaurant reviews out there. 


We decided on Labour Day that we will make a trip up to Mornington Peninsula. God bless the souls working in the restaurants/wineries eventhough our menu had a 10% surcharge for public holidays. We took to the "Hatted" guide to make our choice for lunch and we had three one hat restaurants in the region. Is it you, you or you? We decided that we will start off with Ten Minutes By Tractor.


The name comes from the fact that there have 3 wine yards which are approximately a ten minute ride by tractor away from each other. Meaningful yet catchy name.


Having a meal here means you get to do a free wine tasting session which would otherwise cost you $5 but refundable if you buy a bottle of wine. 3 whites and 2 reds, the one that really caught our palate was their Chardonnay, not as tart like the cheaper ones and a range of fruity flavours once you swirl in your mouth.


Back to the food.


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Warm bread greets you with an accompaniment of unsalted butter (with an option of rock salt for you) or olive oil that is made by them. The olive oil was luscious and gorgeous even though melting butter is about the greatest invention that goes with bread. 

Now unlike the upcoming trend where everything is about degustation and multiple courses, some going into 2 digits, you have a choice between 2 courses or 3 courses from the ala carte menu. Their menu changes according to season so 4 times in a year. I have just realised that we have now moved on to autumn and what we had was the summer menu menu so you will have to bear with me in terms of what I remember about the plate. Prices that day were 75 for 2 courses or 97 for 3 courses, their websites shows its 68 and 88 on normal days.

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The Wife had the starter which had 2 main components, seared tuna and crab. Paired with juicy tomatoes and creamy avocado, it was good but probably sounded a little better on paper.

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I had the quail for an entree, this was pretty generous. The quail was perfectly cooked although I always prefer a little more colour on the skin. Served alongside a combination of jamon, pea puree and pear, this was a good starter to the meal. You got to like the egg / bird combination too although not necessary in this case.

The timing between the courses wasn't too long, just long enough for you to have a chat and talk about the dish or walk towards the window (you lucky fellows who had the window view) and admire the serene view of the wine yard.

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Eye fillet or Tenderloin with seasonal vegetables and a red wine and onion jus. The beef was overcooked, we had asked for medium and it came out looking more like medium well. I have been trying to get the Wife to eat beef at medium rare because it tastes so much better but shes been put off by the juice / blood that oozes out. Of course that's my fault as I can never find the patience to rest my meat. Anyways back to the dish, the star was in the jus. It was that good that when we switched plates, I had to ask for another piece of bread and proceeded to almost clean the plate. The waiter obviously didn't had to ask how the food was, as evident by the clean plate. 


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The lamb rack was sous vide but probably pan fried to finish it off to give the crust a texture. I had a milder jus than the beef but it worked well with the delicate pink lamb. Gosh if only I had more than 2 racks. The seasonal vegetables on the plate are apparently grown on site so this was the freshest vegetables one could eat. Another beautifully composed dish. 

Despite my complaint about having been served 2 racks, that extra piece of bread by now had filled me up. The original idea of going 3 courses per person suddenly became over ambitious and we decided to share a dessert instead. 

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Our dessert was a mixture of chocolate ganache, berries and coconut ice cream. Rich, rich and rich but could have benefited with a little more texture. 


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With no room left for even coffee, we were left with our petit fours and thus ends our meal. 

Address and contact details:


Ten Minutes by Tractor Wine Co. Cellar Door & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. Worthy of the hat, good food and good views.