Friday, July 22, 2016

Chocolate Boutique Cafe, Parnell (New Zealand) by Bilby Blue

I have been visiting the Auckland suburb of Parnell for many years, and over that time the Chocolate Boutique has been one of the must-visit places for locals and tourists alike. It is in the “quaint” part of Parnell Village, just by the old-fashioned red telephone box, with tables spilling out onto a small terrace, and shaded by trees in summer.

parnell, chocolate boutique, chocolates
If you can squeeze in through the crowds you will see colourful displays of sweets in jars, rows of chocolates in cabinets and the beribboned Asian-style “noodle boxes” (each colour denoting a different variety of sweet treats). Its own brand chocolates are made in New Zealand from Belgian Callebaut chocolate, and the shop also stocks fine European chocolates, such as Valrhona from France and the Belgian Cavalier diabetic chocolate.

However the really popular attraction is the café, and in particular its signature Italian denso.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Wonton House, Melbourne CBD by Bureaucrat

Not only does the Entertainment Book has dining offers for upmarket restaurants (e.g., Cafe Florentine in Brighton and Gramercy Bistro in Prahran), it also has heaps of dining offers for your day-to-day sort of restaurants and cafes.  The Lawyer and I had just enough time to squeeze in a quick dinner before a concert at the Arts Centre, and we figured we'd give Wonton House a try.  With a "buy one get one free" deal on offer, this would be a quick and cheap meal!  (Click on these links to find out how we're raising money for FareShare by asking our Aussie readers to buy a copy of the 2016-17 Entertainment Book).

While the menu has lots of wontons and noodles and rice dishes, we were limited to just ordering the signature dish - wonton noodles ($10.80), which was fine by us as we were keen to try this dish.  Wonton House proclaim that they make their wontons fresh each day.

I'm always a bit skeptical of how good wontons and dumplings are at renowned wonton/dumpling houses. They always seem to disappoint.  For me, the biggest no-no's are the use of MSG and non quality fillings.

Wonton House, wonton, noodles
Pleasingly, Wonton House's wontons are pretty good.  Big and plump, they're filled with (surprisingly) lots of prawn and pork.  I'd say it has more prawn in them than most places.  While the soup was a tad salty, the wontons themselves were nicely seasoned and I didn't get that icky coating of MSG on my tongue.  They were served with a reasonable amount of egg noodles and tender choi sum.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Black Toro, Glen Waverley (by invitation) by Benny

Our first surprise is the heavy traffic crawling around the Glen Waverley shopping strip (by The Glen shopping centre) looking for parking spots. After all, it is early on a Tuesday evening, and a gusty wind is coming directly from Antarctica – with wind chill it is (un)comfortably below freezing. If we hadn’t been invited by The Black Toro, Bilby Blue and I would be snuggled up at home watching MasterChef over bowls of homemade minestrone.

Having finally found a car park we arrive at a well-appointed modern bistro: open kitchen and bar; timber tables, good quality wine glasses and tableware; a huge black bull mural dominating one wall. The head chef, Garen Maskal, was previously sous chef at Ezard. The Black Toro is clearly a class above what you might expect in a typical suburban shopping strip.

the black toro;  tapas;  grilled corn
Kicking off with some amazing tapas...see below for description...

Sunday, July 17, 2016

About Life Porridge Recipes (by invitation), by Obelix

I write this as Melbourne braces itself for a squall.  Thankfully I am happen to an official porridge tester for About Life, so 120km/hr winds be damned, I have fortifying organic porridge to keep me warm!

A few moons ago, the Bureaucrat went to the launch of About Life.  In a nutshell, About Life is a health and well being supermarket/cafe/concept store.  They had sent us a bag of goodies with all the ingredients to make two very delicious and healthy recipes - Chai Spiced Honey Porridge and Green Matcha Quinoa Porridge.

about life;  porridge, chai, organic;  oats
Chai Spiced Honey Porridge made by your's truly. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

The General Food Store, Emerald by Obelix

Kiddo had wanted to walk the Wishing Well trail at Emerald Lake Park, no doubt to cast a wish for unlimited wishes.  Which explained for why we were ravenously trawling main street Emerald one Sunday morn for post hike sustenance.  A big of Google reconnaissance prior, I had my sights set on The General Food Store as they appeared to offer healthy lunch options with seasonal and local produce in mind.  In the lovely court yard filled with propagating succulents at the back, we joined a communal table and enjoyed our meal.

The General Food Store, Lord Stark
My mum ordered an interestingly named dish, called Lord Stark.  True to seasonal and local dining, it featured a medley of  mushrooms and chestnuts, very Autumnal, with roast pumpkin and ricotta.  It was very evocative of the sights we have just witnessed along the trail in Emerald Park.  She enjoyed it immensely.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Misty's Diner, Reservoir by Bureaucrat

I'm a Gumtree addict. I love the thrill of the chase and hunting down great secondhand items at low, low prices. Plus, more often than not, the quality of properly-made, old-school furniture is infinitely better than the mass produced stuff that's manufactured in an overseas factory with less than stellar workplace safety and environmental credentials. This time, the hunt for a bargain led me to Reservoir for a gorgeous baker's stand.

While I've seen Misty's Diner in Prahran, I was kinda surprised to see it in Reservoir... it looks sort of incongruent - an American-style eatery situated in an outer suburban locale.  The menu is unapologetically unhealthy. Think: deep fried and battered [your choice of animal/vegetable], mozzarella sticks, melted Jack cheese, loaded hot dogs, lots of gravy/BBQ sauce, and served with a mountain of refined white carbs. Even the relatively healthier options (such as the salads and sandwiches) seem like a calorie bomb. This is not the place to go to if you're on a diet.

Misty's Diner, Reservoir, buttermilk chicken
While the hot dogs and burgers are priced in the mid-teens, the main dishes are about $25-$35 price point. The Lawyer and I were too full to order a main dish each, so we got a the Trailer Park Trash ($25.90) to share. The buttermilk dipped and crumbed chicken breast was nice and tender (and big). However, the rest of the dish was alright. The pile of mash potatoes tasted like it came from a big vat of pre-made mash potatoes (although, it was spruced up with some chopped spring onions); ditto the bread and sauce which tasted like they came from a value-pack from Costco.