Sunday, January 15, 2017

Kilgour Street Grocer and Café, Geelong by Benny

Finding great places to eat and drink in unfamiliar towns is hard enough, and having a four-legged companion with you just adds to the difficulty. We were in Geelong around lunchtime with our dog (known as ‘the cute one’) in tow, and were keen to explore the dining options.

Kilgour Street Grocer and Café, Mexican bowl
Kilgour Mexican Bowl

Online research identified a few intriguing possibilities, but option 1 proved to be not quite as dog-friendly as web searches had suggested. Option 2 was the Kilgour Street Grocer and Café, a compact corner store only a few blocks away from Kardinia Park. The neat interior is welcoming, a striking sky-blue espresso machine prominent on the counter. Rustic timber furniture accommodates a dozen or so diners and displays a range of boutique and everyday groceries and decorator items on pastel painted shelves – with an emphasis on local and regional artisan suppliers. The serving area is tiny and easily filled with customers queuing, but service is efficient and friendly so waiting times are short. When we visited most customers were after take-away so the interior dining area was not full. But we, of course, were interested in the dog-friendly area. This is a narrow alley-like space between the shop wall and the paling fence, furnished with colourful plastic stools and brightly painted tables formed from old cable drums. Small pots of succulents add a further welcoming touch.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Shizuku Ramen, Abbotsford by Bureaucrat

As the great man, Chairman Kaga, says, if my memory serves me correctly, seven years ago, Big Fil and Snooze started a food review blog.  This all came about as most of the Eat and Be Merry Crew members worked in the city and that meant we were spoilt for choice when it came to lunch options. The purpose of the blog was to share with our friends and families the great places that we liked.  Back then, we were averaging about a blog post a day(!) and we had yet to figure out how to use all this "social media".

Never in our minds did we think that anyone besides our family and friends would read it, and when we started to get invitations from restaurants to review their food, we thought "does this actually happen?!".  The complimentary meals are definitely a nice perk and it's given us the opportunity to try out restaurants that we wouldn't necessarily would have tried.  Case in point is Shizuku Ramen.  We were invited to dine there three years ago.  Ramen didn't rate on my food radar but after a lovely bowlful of its rich, silky broth, I was impressed - this ain't just an ordinary bowl of soup and noodles.

Shizuku Ramen, ramen
With the Lawyer not quite getting his ramen fix from our recent lunch at Kenji, I decided to take him to Shizuku Ramen.  They have a pretty good value lunch time deal, where you get a bowl of ramen, entree and appetizer for $15.  The ramen is the simplest version that they have but that's not to say that it is anything less than tasty.  The broth is deep and velvety.  You can tell that it's been simmered for hours and you can just sense the nutritional properties of it (bone broth enthusiasts will be excited about this broth).  The ramen is pleasantly chewy and it comes with a range of pickled veg, a few thinly sliced pork and a lovely creamy egg.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Joylati, Prahran by Bilby Blue

Chapel Street is spoilt for choice when it comes to gelateria. So you have to wonder about the wisdom of launching a new artisan gelato place within easy walking distance of the likes of Pidapipó and Gelato Messina. However, after running a gelateria in Piedmont, northern Italy, the proprietors are clearly no strangers to gelato competition.

With such a pedigree, Benny and I were keen to try Joylati’s gelato – how will it compare with Melbourne’s best?

Joylati, cakes
Located in the Prahran Central building, right at the tram stop on the corner of Chapel Street and Malvern Road, it must be a huge temptation to duck in for a quick gelato fix while waiting for the tram. For those staying a little longer, there are several tables where you can relax.

The gelato is made in-house, from natural ingredients, with no preservatives. It is stored in lidded pozzetti to maintain its freshness.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Ramen & Dumpling House, Mount Waverley by Bureaucrat

Ramen & Dumpling House opened up in 2016 and it has been a very welcome addition to the Pinewood dining scene.  It does a roaring dine-in and takeaway trade and is popular among the local office workers and residents.  Unlike the plethora of Chinese 'cheap eats' eateries in nearby Glen Waverley, Ramen & Dumpling House is clean, relatively spacious (though you'd still be rubbing elbows with nearby diners) and bright.

With Boy Chick ensconced in his pram and the tight seating, it wasn't going to be practicable to have lunch at the restaurant, so we opted for takeaway.  And since our first visit, we've had many a takeaway meal from here!

Ramen & Dumpling House, pan fried pork dumplings
There are two items on the menu that we get on a (very) regular basis.  First up is the pan fried pork dumplings.  Amazing plump dumplings at a very, very good price of $9.50 for 15 pieces.  Honestly, where are you going to get that many elsewhere? They are still good even when you buy it as a takeaway - they're not soggy at all (though there is a bit of steam that builds up in the plastic container).  I can only imagine how yummy they are when you get it served to you if you're dining in.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Dolcetti, West Melbourne by Bilby Blue

Just a block away from the Queen Victoria Market is a little patch of bakery heaven. Dolcetti is a Sicilian pasticceria (pastry shop) offering gorgeous goodies baked in-house that highlight fresh seasonal produce. 

Previously, we had only ever purchased cakes and biscuits to enjoy at home. This time there was a spare table, so Benny and I settled down to have some lunch.

Dolcetti, amaretti

The premises are quite small – room for only a dozen diners inside and another half a dozen on the footpath tables outside. On the day we visited there was a constant stream of customers stocking up on Christmas gifts – especially the house-made single serve Christmas cakes and torrone (Italian nougat). Seated at the other tables were customers – almost all of Italian heritage – catching up on the latest news over coffee and a sweet treat.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Recipe for Canneles Bordelais, by Obelix

We recently posted this delectable picture on our Instagram with the hash tag #homemade and I was besieged with private messages for the recipe.  Canneles Bordelais for the uninitiated is a sublime custardy batter baked into crusty perfection on the outer with the innards delightfully tender.  I would like to think that if you were to cut me cross-sectionally at my fattest part (ie across my lower abdomen) you too would also get a tender wibble wobble innard much like my beloved canneles. I've eaten so many of these wee little cylinders of bliss that my body shape has also morphed over time to be rather cylindrical too!

canneles recipe
Fresh from the oven!