Pho24 – Western Style Pho

Coming from a Vietnamese heritage, it’s fair to say that I have had much exposure to authentic Vietnamese cuisine . Nothing beats a big bowl of pho on a winter’s day, crispy fried banh xeo or the pleasant pungency of vermicelli noodles in bun rieu (my fav!) Vietnamese cuisine is known for freshness and green veggies. We just love to wrap everything in leafy greens. Thanks heavens too, otherwise my diet would just be carbs :P.

Pho24 is a newly opened ‘western style quick service’ Vietnamese restaurant. It is a successful international franchise, originating from the streets of Vietnam whose objective was to provide a comfortable eating environment for the traditional cuisine. Many doubted its success. ‘Who would pay that much for Pho in Asia’? But as haters hate, it was a massive success. Melbourne is the first Australian location, and a challenging location considering the popularity of Vietnamese cuisine in the Richmond, Footscray and Springvale areas.

Smoked Barramundi, Double cooked Chicken, Sticky Paprika Pork Rice Paper Rolls 

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 12.08.59 AM

Traditional Vietnamese Pork Banh Mi 

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 12.11.37 AM

Continue reading

State of Grace – 1920’s

State of Grace – a recently opened cocktail bar in the Melbourne CBD is hosting a 1920’s NYE’s bash. With the opulent bar known for hosting cocktail degustations and sumptuous dinner events, the venue could not be more fitting. State of Grace is famous for it’s entrance. Pulling a book back from an antique bookcase reveals the hidden bar within. Melbourne is famous for hidden bars, but this is a definite first. No ‘open sesame’ phrases required ;)

The 1920’s – an era known for its opulence, fashion and movement in female emancipation marked the dawn of the modern era. Glamour was personified in this great period of fashion and grandeur, with lavish parties, shorter hemlines and emerging fashion houses. Personally, it is my favourite time for fashion. The gentleman could not look more handsome in their tailored suits, and the ladies could not look more glamorous.

Don’t know what to wear? The following images should inspire you. For the ladies, think: heavy blush, smoky eyes, lace, wavy bobs, fringes, feathers, head accessories, sequins and embellishments. For the gentlemen, think: plaid suits, tweed, matching vests, boat hats, vintage look brogues, bow ties, sleeked back hair and braces. Happy New Year!

The Ladies

a6d837816db0fec8f6d0bcef06731bd3

a7db8d5d8e39565facf36f7411afc6f687aa2cfe5f9289ab9ff71167988159dc

 

Continue reading

Dessert Heaven – Milse, Auckland

Its not everyday that one enters enlightenment, but for a dessert devotee such as myself – Milse was beyond spectacular. This sugar temple of the Britomart district, had everything sweet under it’s geometrically stunning roof.  The dessert degustation is highly recommended, allowing sweet lovers a thorough sampling of their exquisitely plated desserts. Prices were extraordinarily reasonable at only $15 for an artfully constructed plate. Seriously…I’ve paid more for boring ol’ pancakes!

We were lucky enough to be seated directly in front of the professionally fitted kitchen, watching in awe as pâtissiers meticulously constructed our desserts. The whole experience was a sensory explosion. In one corner, a pastry chef flexed his biceps, vigorously mixing almond flour and meringue, to form the lava-like consistency essential for the perfect macaron. In another, one chef is teaching another how to scoop the perfect quenelle. Chefs were tempering chocolate, piping ganache, freezing freshly dipped gelato sticks. An array of skilful dessert techniques, specialty ingredients and aromas flooded our senses. Simply put. I was in dessert heaven.

Chocolate worshippers will enjoy the decadence of the Valrhona Kalingo (dark chocolate), with accents of jasmine, caramel and kiyomi (a japanese citrus fruit). The amount of elements that go into a single dessert is quite mind-boggling. For freshness, the ‘rhubarb’ combined a zesty sorbet with the crunch of caramelised popcorn, cubed apples and a thin pistachio crisp. Smooth elements included a pistachio sponge and a mousse dome, accompanied by shavings of fresh orange and folds of granny smith. Both desserts were immaculate in taste and appearance. Seasonally, the dessert menu changes on a frequent basis, so it’s never boring at Milse.

Rhubarb – Apple, Popcorn, Orange, Pistachio 

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 6.51.40 PM

Valrhona Kalingo – Jasmine, Hazelnut, Caramel, Kiyomi  

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 6.52.02 PM

Continue reading

South American cuisine on the West-side

Authentic South American cuisine – with emphasis on Mexican, Peruvian and El Salvadorean flavours are at the fingertips of the West. Mexican and Latin cuisine were one of the big food trends in Melbourne, gradually leaking into the suburbs. The following is a guide to restaurants that celebrate South American cuisine on the Westside:

LA TORTILLERIA 

Taco enthusiasts will revel in the existence of La Tortilleria. La Tortilleria produce corn tortillas on premises, using the traditional ‘nixtamal’ method – stone grinding the corn and baking them fresh daily.  In addition to supplying the restaurant with its daily amount of freshly baked tortillas, La Tortilleria also supply tortillas to the hugely popular Mamasita and are also available for purchase for home cooks.  The tortillas are also:

  • Gluten Free
  • Preservative and Additive Free
  • Cholesterol Free
  • No Saturated or Trans Fat
  • Vegan
  • 100% Locally-Made from Australian Ingredients

We shared the ‘ Amigos Share Plate’ that included a selection of 8 ($40) or 12 items ($60) served with guacamole and unlimited salsa. Being a big eater, the amigos share platter left me a tad hungry, but flavours were fresh and tantalising.

Continue reading

Brunching At The Roasting Houses of Melbourne

Melbournians are self-confessed coffee snobs, contemptuously turning up our noses at Starbucks and professing our undying love for Australian independent cafes. The major error that Starbucks made, was attempting to impose Americanised tastes into a market that had an existing coffee culture. A culture that would faint at the sight of whipped cream on any beverage,  yet alone accept the excessive sweetness of frappas, machiattos and pumpkin spiced what-nots. Coffee has become integral to the Melbourne lifestyle, and with that has exploded a myriad of cafes that not only have sublime coffee, but amazing food. Here are a selection of boutique roasting houses in Melbourne known for their own signature house blends and equally amazing brunch options.

1. PROUD MARY

Coffee aside, Proud Mary is also an extraordinaire on the brunch front. Queues still form at this Collingwood staple, where quality has been consistently upheld amongst all the hype. Dishes taste as beautiful as their appearances.

For the nibblers, the tuna sashimi with amaranth and brik crisp is a delicate option. Otherwise, consider the ricotta hotcakes, dripping in coconut ice cream and blood orange caramel. Carnivorous options include the ox tongue and a decadent pork belly. The wait list might still be long, but drop in before 12pm to avoid the afternoon rush. The crowd favourite is certainly deserving of its reputation.

Tuna Sashimi w/ Broad beans, Soft boiled egg, Amaranth, Brik crisp

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 9.03.32 PM

Ricotta Hotcakes w/ Blood Orange Caramel, Citrus salad, Orange blossom, Coconut ice cream

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 9.03.19 PM

Continue reading

What Exactly is a Paleo Diet?

It’s almost summer, which means people are thinking about losing the winter food belly. From gluten free, to carb free, to protein rich, the range of diets available on the market is staggering and confusing. The latest fad is the Paleo Diet popularised by celebrities (as always).

But what exactly is a Paleo Diet? You probably have heard it being referred to as the ‘ Caveman Diet’. The diet is designed to emulate the diets of our early ancestors during the Paleolithic era. This means no processed foods, no dairy, grains, legumes, processed oils and refined sugars. The premise is that the metabolism and nutritional needs of humans have not evolved fast enough, to handle the high degree of grains and processed foods that we now ingest. It is suggested that physiology, genetics and metabolism of modern humans have changed little, or at all, since the Paleolithic era, hence, the high rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Advocates of the diet claim that eating more protein and fewer carbohydrates leads to a healthier and longer life. Critics argue that the life expectancy of early humans were not long enough to develop the diseases mentioned today, and that their lifestyles were much more active in foraging and hunting. There is also evidence that early humans did in fact eat grains and legumes, but this may differ between local populations. All-in-all, I’m still confused about the whole thing. There doesn’t appear to be any hard scientific evidence to support the diet. I don’t think we should blame evolution (or lack of) for high incidences of weight related illnesses. Modern humans have gotten fat because of inactivity and over-eating. Simple as that. It is preferable to stick to basic healthy eating and exercise, than to follow the latest overcomplicated fad diet. Most importantly, there is about a 0% chance that I will give up cake.

13 at 12.51.16 PM

Continue reading

Nuevo Latino – Authentic South American

Nuevo Latino takes diners on a gastronomic journey, through the vibrant diversity of South American cuisine. Salvador Rodriguez and ex Los Latinos chef, celebrate the traditional heritage of their El Salvadorian upbringing, transforming their catering business into a homely abode.  The Rodriguez brothers wanted to open a restaurant that had an authentic feel, that also felt like home. Filling the restaurant with personal knick knacks, the result is bright and homely, with a festive atmosphere to match.  The past few years, Mexican and Latin cuisines have exploded through the Melbourne dining scene, but few pay homage to their cultural roots as well as Nuevo Latino. The food is simple and unpretentious, relying on authentic flavours that takes diners away from West Footscray, and into the foothills of South America.

Diners were treated with a button-popping 9 course degustation menu, inspired by a mixture of caribbean, latin american and mexican flavours. Regarding the button popping aspect, I have never been so full in my life! Nuevo Latino certainly packs a punch on value. The standout dish were the Grilled Prawns with pepito pesto. The creaminess and tang of the pesto (constructed from grounded pumpkin seeds and basil), acted as a perfect accompaniment to freshly grilled prawns. The tamales were mouth watering, lovingly handmade by Salvador’s mother with a traditional El Salvadorean recipe. I have been yearning for the dirty street food of East LA , so I was pretty ecstatic to discover tamales, and papusas on the menu.

Salvador and his staff are passionate about food, providing hospitable service that is certain to make guests smile. The brothers have come a long way from becoming migrants in the 80s, to opening a catering business, to finally achieving their dream of opening an authentic South American restaurant.  The dreary streets of Barkly Village has been screaming for some much needed spark and Nuevo Latino has certainly arrived with a bang. Ole!

Mix Olives w/ Chef Renown Macerated Warm Olives

IMG_4863

Prawns Camarones Al Aiguiste – Grilled Prawns w/ Pepita Pesto

IMG_4865 Continue reading