Bear Brass Riverside Bar and Dining (South Bank, Melbourne) – a Review

Bear Brass is located on the banks of the Yarra River at Southbank. Needless to say, the restaurant offers spectacular views of the river and our beautiful city.

We visited the restaurant while showing around the city to my parents and Bear Brass was the perfect place to unwind and relax.

Bear Brass Riverside Bar and Dining (South Bank, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

If it’s a sunny day, make sure you get a spot outside for the best view though you need to make a booking or get plain lucky especially during the warmer months. Bear Brass has plenty of space indoors and a nice ambience too.

The food is mostly modern Australian pub food with lots of twists and fusion drawing from the multicultural vibes of the city. Being a riverside bar, the drinks menu is pretty extensive too.

For drinks, I ordered a glass of the RedBank Prosecco (King Valley); the perfect drink for a hot summer day. And a chilled glass of Heineken too.

Bear Brass Riverside Bar and Dining (South Bank, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Bear Brass Riverside Bar and Dining (South Bank, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The cocktail menu looked really interesting so we tried out two – ‘A Cocktail named Alice’ (with 42 Below Vodka, Midori and Muddled Kiwi) and ‘Gucci Martini’ (Grey Goose L’Orange Vodka, Grey Goose Vodka, Paraiso Lychee Liqueur). Both were really delicious and refreshing…

Bear Brass Riverside Bar and Dining (South Bank, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Bear Brass Riverside Bar and Dining (South Bank, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

To start with, we ordered the Grilled Chicken and Grain Salad, with pomegranate, mint and cumin yoghurt. The chicken felt a bit dry and underseasoned but the grain salad was outstanding with a delicious medley of flavours and textures.

Bear Brass Riverside Bar and Dining (South Bank, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

We decided to try out the pizzas as it really stood out to us on the menu. The first one we tried was an Asian inspired one with prawns, chilli, crispy shallots and nam jim. The wood fired thin crusty pizza base was excellent and so were the toppings. A really delicious Asian inspired pizza that had an excellent balance of flavours.

The second one was the chicken, chipotle and chorizo; yet another fusion done to perfection. The chorizo was of excellent quality and the pizza was cooked to perfection.

Bear Brass Riverside Bar and Dining (South Bank, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Bear Brass Riverside Bar and Dining (South Bank, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Definitely impressed by the quality of pizzas; so highly recommended.

We also ordered the Fish n’ Chips served with homemade aioli. Unfortunately no photographs; we were busy gobbling it up.

So to summarize, Bear Brass is a great spot to stop by for food or drinks and enjoy it with beautiful views of the city…

Bear Brass Riverside Bar and Dining

Shop G3A  On the River
Southgate Restaurant & Shopping Precinct
Southbank , Melbourne

Phone: (03) 9682 3799
Website: http://www.bearbrass.com.au/

Timings:

Open Every Day
Monday to Friday 7.30am to late
Saturday & Sunday 8am to late

Disclaimer – Not a sponsored post; all the food and drinks were paid for by me. 

BearBrass Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Advertisements

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review

Located in the heart of the Yarra Valley, the Yarra Valley Grand Hotel is an iconic landmark building that opened its doors in 1888.

We decided to drop by for lunch at the in house restaurant and bar while on our recent trip to the Yarra Valley. Apart from the regular restaurant, the hotel also houses Herb’s backyard that serves gourmet pizzas and drinks. The hotel is also a hot spot for weddings and special events with special areas dedicated for the same.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Apart from the dining options, the Yarra Valley Grand is also a great place to stay over. The 4 star fully appointed rooms have still retained the old world charm yet equipped with the most modern facilities.

Stepping inside the Yarra Valley Grand transports you to a different era. In spite of all the hustle and bustle (the restaurant is packed especially on weekends), the space feels warm and inviting. The ambience is definitely old world charm yet with a contemporary touch.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The restaurant space is huge and spread across different areas. There’s plenty of seating yet it’s advisable to make a prior booking. Fortunately we were able to get a table within 10 minutes of walking in.

The menu at Yarra Valley Grand is modern Australian pub food. The menu is not extensive but you are likely to find something for everybody; also there are specials everyday which are based on seasonal produce.

We bought a selection of drinks including a single malt whisky, sparkling white, beer and lemon lime bitters. Nothing much to write about but there’s a good range of drinks including some great Yarra Valley wines.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

As I mentioned the restaurant was extremely busy and we were informed by the staff that there would be a bit of a delay for the food to arrive. But we decided to wait anyway. I think that was not a very wise decision as we had to wait 45 minutes. No complaints though as they did inform us the same.

We didn’t order any starters instead we opted for a salad – the crunchy Thai salad with crispy noodles, Thai chicken, carrot, cucumber, sprouts, herbs, cashews and nahm jim dressing. Perfectly well balanced flavours and textures and it was a delicious start to the meal.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

For mains, we had the Saltibocca – half roasted chicken, crispy pancetta, sage, potato gratin and sautéed spinach. The chicken was cooked perfectly and all the accompaniments complemented the chicken perfectly. Definitely recommended.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The second main we ordered was the Twice cooked pork belly – with son in law egg, chilli jam, creamy mash and tendrils. An absolute stunner of a dish; the pork was just melt in the mouth with a crispy layer and every single element on that plate was perfect. Definitely dish of the day!

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The third main we chose was from the special of the day – Grilled trout with Schezwan pepper and salad. The flavours were good, the fish was cooked well but not an outstanding dish in terms of flavour.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

And the final dish we ordered was the Porterhouse with chips, salad and a red wine jus. The only dish that disappointed us; the steak was a bit tough and chewy. It wasn’t a bad dish but not good either especially after we have had such amazing steak experiences at other places in Melbourne. So by comparison, we weren’t too happy with this one.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Overall, a great place to stop by for food or to stay over while visiting Yarra Valley. I am sure, we will definitely be going back…

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel

19 Bell Street,
Yarra Glen 3775

Phone: (03) 9730 1230
Website: http://www.yarravalleygrand.com.au/

Timings:
Monday – Sunday ~ 11.30am till late

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – All the food and drinks were paid for by my family.

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous)

‘Busy’ would be too small a word to describe the frenzied state of activity in my life these days.

As many of you would be aware, my parents are here visiting us for a few months. It’s the last couple of weeks so most days seem like an extended holiday. Lots of short trips coupled with shopping expeditions mean I hardly get time to sit down for a blog post though my folders are overflowing with tons of delicious recipes.

So without much talking, I am gonna jump straight to the recipe today – Tandoori Chicken Thighs served with Grilled Veggies and Couscous.

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous) - thespiceadventuress.com

One of my absolute favourite things to do at the moment is introduce my parents to cuisines from different parts of the world. They are in awe at the kind of food that’s available in Melbourne, the beautiful produce and ingredients from around the globe.

I came up with this dish just to showcase how a simple Indian marinade can be used in a slightly contemporary way but still appealing to their Indian tastebuds.

Tandoori needs no introduction at all; it is a global favourite and has staunchly become the face of Indian cuisine in most countries apart from the curry ofcourse.

Even though most of us might not have a traditional tandoor at home, it’s quite easy to prepare it on a barbecue grill, oven or even on a stove top grill depending on the kind of protein or vegetable that is being cooked.

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous) - thespiceadventuress.com

I always make the tandoori marinade from scratch. Not a big fan of store bought masalas and moreover, the marinade is super easy to make. Many versions call for the addition of gram flour but I use only yoghurt which I feel imparts more flavour without that doughy taste to the coating.

For this dish, I have used the tandoori marinade for both the chicken thighs as well as the vegetables. While I cooked the thighs on a barbecue grill, I used a regular stove top grill for the veggies. Couscous pairs beautifully with a dish like this; it’s light and fluffy texture is a perfect accompaniment to the chicken and veggies. And a drizzle of the tangy mint coriander chutney completes the dish perfectly.

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous) - thespiceadventuress.com

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous) - thespiceadventuress.com

(Recipe for the mint coriander chutney can be found here.)

Recipe:

Tandoori marinade:

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cup thick curd
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to heat preferences)
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin/jeera powder
  • ¼ tsp black salt/kala namak
  • ½ tsp chaat masala
  • ¼ tsp dry ginger powder
  • Salt, to season
  • 2 garlic cloves; grated
  • 1 inch ginger; grated
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves; finely chopped

Method:

In a bowl, add all the ingredients and whisk well to get a smooth consistency.

For the chicken:

Ingredients:

  1. 5 chicken Maryland/thighs; score lengthwise
  2. 1 cup tandoori marinade
  3. Salt; to season
  4. Vegetable oil, for barbecue

Method:

  • In a bowl, add the required tandoori marinade to the chicken thighs. Season with salt (remember the marinade has salt) and rub the marinade well into the chicken. Keep refrigerated for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  • Bring to room temperature before grilling.
  • Fire up the barbecue and grill the chicken pieces till done.

Grilled vegetables:

Ingredients:

  1. 1 red onion; cut into cubes
  2. 1 red bell pepper; cut into cubes
  3. 1 medium zucchini; cut into cubes
  4. 1 punnet baby corn
  5. 1 small broccoli; florets separated
  6. 1 small fennel bulb; cut into cubes
  7. ½ cup tandoori marinade
  8. Salt, to season
  9. Vegetable oil; for grilling

Method:

  • Place all the vegetables in a bowl, add the marinade and season with salt if necessary. Mix well and keep for at least 1-2 hours.
  • Heat a stove grill to high, brush with oil and grill the veggies in batches. Remember to grill on high to get the char but still keep the crunchy texture.

Couscous:

  1. 2 ½ cups couscous
  2. 2 ½ cups water
  3. Salt; to season

Method:

Add 2 ½ cups boiling water to 2 ½ cups couscous (1:1 ratio), season with salt, cover and keep aside. After 10 minutes, use a fork to lightly fluff up the couscous.

Note – Do check packet instructions as the ratio of water to couscous can sometimes vary.

For garnish:

  • Lemon wedges
  • ¼ cup coriander leaves; finely chopped

To assemble:

  • Place the couscous in the middle of a large platter and arrange the grilled veggies around it. Garnish with half of the coriander leaves
  • Place the chicken thighs on another platter, garnish with coriander leaves. Serve with lemon wedges and mint coriander chutney.

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous) - thespiceadventuress.com

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

Kerala style Stingray Curry

When you are a native of another country living abroad, shopping for many ingredients can be a real chore. Often you would know the name of ingredients in your local or native language and it can sometimes be a difficult task to find the English name for it while shopping here.

And with Google and Wiki being my best friend in most instances, I still find it hard sometimes especially while shopping for seafood.

That’s what happened last week at the market. I had taken my parents out to the Dandenong Market, to show them around as well as pick up some seafood and other ingredients. I was quite curious when their faces lit up at the sight of a particular product. And I was so surprised to hear that it was one of my absolute favourites, a local variety that is often called ‘therendi’, a fish species popular in some parts of Kerala.

Therendi (also called therachi) is actually a variety of Stingray which is quite famous for its unique cartilaginous structure.

Kerala style Stingray Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

I have often seen this at the markets but never could identify because it was always cut up and kept in chunks rather than the whole fish and also I had no clue of its English name. And I was always under the impression that stingray was not for human consumption!

To cut a long story short, I was quite ecstatic that one of my favourite ingredients is so easily available here. Stingray is a common or popular fish in many Asian countries; it is a very affordable one often being dubbed poor man’s fish. But I love its cartilaginous flesh which has a really unique texture when you bite into it.

There are many delicious ways of preparing this fish, but one of my favourite preparations is the spicy curry using chilli, coconut and kokum that is quite famous in the Kottayam region of Kerala. A lipsmacking, fiery preparation that is best enjoyed with steamed red rice and tempered buttermilk curry, or perhaps with steamed tapioca.

Kerala style Stingray Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

Kerala style Stingray Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

The defining flavours of this curry are powdered red chilli and kudampuli (black kokum). As I mentioned, it is a fiery one but you can always adjust the heat level to your preferences.

And remember, this curry always tastes better when allowed to sit for a while especially overnight. So prepare ahead if time permits.

Ingredients:

  1. 600gms stingray; cut into cubes
  2. 2 shallots/small onion; finely chopped
  3. 1 inch ginger; finely chopped

This post was bought to you in collaboration with Supreme Seafood, so head over to their website for the full recipe.

And do not forget to tag me #thespiceadventuress if you try it out. 

Kerala style Stingray Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

October Favourites

October literally flashed by in the blink of an eye.

Since my parents are visiting me, the days go by super busy with a lot of travel that we do on weekends. There’s no particular routine at home and it all seems like an extended vacation to me.

Yarra Valley was one of our travel destinations in October. And unlike most visitors, we checked out the Yarra Valley Orchid Show instead of visiting the usual spots. My parents are such avid gardeners, especially fond of growing ornamental orchids at home. So this was something they were totally looking forward to, especially to pick up some gardening tips from the experts.

If you love orchids, then do check out the Orchid Societies of Victoria. The society has lots of registered clubs across Victoria and holds a lot of shows around the year. So it’s a small but great show to visit if you love orchids or want to learn more about growing these beauties.

Yarra Valley Orchid Show - thespiceadventuress.com

We also went fishing at the Australian Rainbow Trout Farm in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges. The farm specializes in Rainbow trout, Golden trout and Atlantic Salmon. It’s a great spot for a one day family picnic which includes the fishing experience, bbq pits, children’s playground, mini golf course etc…

I have been here before and you can read all about that experience here. We also caught all the different varieties of fish and I used the golden trout to recreate last year’s recipe again at the farm. Delicious and perfectly grilled, do try it out if you haven’t before.

Australian Rainbow Trout Farm - thespiceadventuress.com

I was quite surprised to see how popular Halloween has become in Australia. Personally, I do not celebrate it and quite frankly find it a bit weird. But given the nature of my work, I did create DIY Halloween themed pizzas for Stuff Mums Like. It was fun doing the project because I have finally nailed making pizza bases from scratch.

So do check out the post if you would like to attempt making pizzas at home, So much fun and way better for your health.

Halloween DIY pizzas - thespiceadventuress.com

Last week, I attended the Kids Business Bloggers Brunch at Encore St Kilda. A fantastic event with lots of brands to interact and meet up with. I have decided to collaborate with a few that I personally use and enjoy, so do watch out this space for more information.

One of the highlights of the event this year was the partnership with Ryobi. Barry Du Bois, star of The Living Room and Kerryn Carter, founder of Tool School were among the VIP guests for the day sharing their inspiring story which has highly motivating and moved many of us to tears.

Another highlight was the DIY workshop set up by Ryobi for all the attendees, where each one of us could make our own food/cheese/presentation board. We were taught how to use Ryobi power tools for sanding, drilling, driving etc…. to create our own board. I must agree that it did give me lots of confidence and I am seriously thinking of executing some DIY projects over the summer hols.

Ryobi power tools DIY workshop - thespiceadventuress.com

Have you started planning for your holiday parties?

I have. And even before the menu planning, I have the tablescape sorted this year with this stunning stoneware and pottery range from Salt & Pepper. I picked up pieces from the ‘Artefact’ and ‘Relic’ collection; both have a rustic yet contemporary feel which I totally love. And the duck egg blue and slate colour tones would go perfectly with the white Christmas theme I have in mind.

Salt and Pepper stoneware range - thespiceadventuress.com

And now other news from around the globe…

My love for travelling kicked in well and truly only after I had a baby; and I thoroughly enjoyed travelling the world with him. If you think travelling is difficult with a baby, then here is the expert talking.

Well, this has what Instagram has truly become!

Margatini, now that’s interesting.

A spicy old fashioned!

This shakshuka sounds more interesting than the original version.

Chicken chickpea curry; that’s a new combination for me.

I am not a huge avo lover but this coconut avocado lime soft serve seems perfect for summer.

This chai masala bundt cake looks simply awesome.

Dark chocolate tahini cups! Now that’s an equally delicious use for tahini as hummus.

 

Duck Kurma (Supporting the Great Australian Curry Campaign)

Curry for change!

Duck Kurma (Supporting the Great Australian Curry Campaign) - thespiceadventuress.com

Great Australian Curry – an annual fundraising campaign by Opportunity International Australia is back and this is my second year of pledging support for the cause.

(You can view details of the previous campaigns here and here.)

Opportunity International Australia works through a unique system of microfinance, community development, training, local presence, technology and rural outreach programmes in developing countries including India. And the ‘Great Australian Curry’ campaign is a great way by which food lovers like us can contribute in a meaningful manner towards poverty and diminishing its impact.

blog2

This year’s campaign was officially launched last month with a spicy cook-off between Stephanie Rice (Triple Olympic gold medallist) and Courtney Ferdinands (Finalist, My Kitchen Rules) on one team and Michael Kasprowicz (former Australian Test Cricketer) and Valerie Ferdinands (Finalist, My Kitchen Rules) on the other team.

It’s a great cause and with curry being a favourite at most Australian homes, it’s so easy to organize a small fundraiser in your home or office. Invite a couple of your friends home for a dinner (plenty of delicious curry recipes on the blog to help you with the cooking) and organize a small fundraiser of your own. Or perhaps arrange a curry potluck in your office where you can pitch in with your colleagues to raise a target amount. Remember that even the smallest amount can go a long way in being a helping hand to those in need.

Robert Dunn, the Opportunity Chief Executive Officer, said that last year the campaign was able to raise $108,000 which was used to help out 1500 families start small businesses and provide a livelihood. ‘We hope to help even more families this year through the generosity of Australians.’

And if cooking is not your thing, you can still make a donation and show support.

For more information about the campaign; visit the fundraising website, Great Australian Curry.

There are also many exciting prizes up for grabs this year to encourage you to start a campaign.

“The first 20 people to set up a fundraiser on Opportunity’s website will receive Rick Stein’s mouth-watering cookbook, ‘India’. The book features a wealth of simple curry recipes that’ll come in handy for your Great Australian Curry events. The colourful cookbook features the best recipes from Rick Stein’s Indian odyssey in search of the perfect curry.

There is also a writing competition and the prize is a signed copy of renowned Sydney Quay chef Peter Gilmore’s cookbook ‘Organum’. Peter’s book delves into the four essential ingredients for the perfect dish “nature, texture, intensity and purity. Just tell us in 25 words or less why taking part in the Great Australian Curry is important to you. Details of this competition are on the Great Australian Curry website.

And while you can find lots of delicious curry inspiration on my blog, here’s another one to get you started…Chettinad style Duck Kurma.

Duck Kurma (Supporting the Great Australian Curry Campaign) - thespiceadventuress.com

Today’s recipe comes from the Chettinad region in South India, which is famous for its cuisine especially curries.

Kurma is a type of curry preparation that was bought to India by the Mughals. While it has evolved much over the years, the kurma is essentially a rich creamy curry and can be both vegetarian and non vegetarian.

However in the Chettinad region, the kurma is prepared slightly different as the cream gets replaced by coconut which is blended with poppy seeds, cashewnuts and other spices to form a rich and flavourful curry. Personally, it’s this kurma preparation that’s my favourite as I am not too fond of cream based curries.

I have veered away from the usual proteins, opting for duck instead of chicken or lamb as it’s a delicious meat that pairs beautifully with the spices and coconut. And also because we get such high quality duck meat in Australia.

Duck Kurma (Supporting the Great Australian Curry Campaign) - thespiceadventuress.com

Note – Use any meat of choice or replace with eggs or mixed vegetables/paneer/tofu for a vegetarian option.

Ingredients:

Wet spice paste:

  1. 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  2. 2 tsp fennel seeds
  3. 2 tsp cumin seeds
  4. 3 fresh green chillies; broken in half
  5. 2 tsp white poppy seeds
  6. 10 raw cashewnuts
  7. 7 garlic cloves; crushed
  8. 2 tbsp roasted Bengal gram (split)
  9. 1 ½ inch ginger; crushed
  10. 60gms fresh grated coconut

For the curry:

  1. Whole duck (approximately 1.1kg); cut into curry sized pieces
  2. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  3. 2 inch cinnamon bark
  4. 4 green cardamom
  5. 1 large onion; finely chopped
  6. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  7. 2-3 sprigs curry leaves
  8. 2 large ripe tomatoes; pureed
  9. 2 tsp red chilli powder
  10. Salt, to season

Method:

To prepare the wet spice paste:

  1. Heat oil in a large pan and add the cumin, fennel seeds and green chillies. Then add the poppy seeds, cashews and garlic; sauté for a few seconds.
  2. Next add the Bengal gram, coconut and ginger. Mix well and sauté for a minute or two till the coconut turns a little toasty but not too brown.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool thoroughly. Blend with just enough water to get a wet paste.

To make the curry:

  1. Heat the remaining oil in a large wok/kadhai and add the cinnamon and cardamom followed by the onion. Sauté till the onions are softened and turn light brown.
  2. Next add the turmeric powder, chilli powder and curry leaves; mix to combine.
  3. Add the tomato puree and season with salt. Cook on medium heat till the mixture comes together and you can notice oil appearing at the sides of the masala.
  4. Next add the wet spice pasta and mix well to combine. Sauté for about 5-6 minutes on low to medium heat stirring continuously.
  5. Add the duck pieces; mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then add 1-2 cups water (depending on how much gravy you prefer) and bring to boil. Turn down the heat and simmer gently till the duck pieces have cooked perfectly and the gravy has thickened. Taste and season with salt if necessary.
  6. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.

This duck curry is delicious with hoppers, flatbreads, rice, pita breads etc… I paired it with steamed rice, flat breads, a green salad and my favourite tomato chutney.

Enjoy…but don’t forget to take part in the fundraising too. A little help from us can go a long way to help out another family in need.

Duck Kurma (Supporting the Great Australian Curry Campaign) - thespiceadventuress.com

Duck Kurma (Supporting the Great Australian Curry Campaign) - thespiceadventuress.com

Disclaimer – This post was bought to you in association with Opportunity International but all the opinions and musings are mine.

Pan grilled Prawns (spiced with Z’hug)

Yet another spice blend to add to my repertoire!

Z’hug or Z’hoog (as pronounced) is a traditional blend from Yemen. Traditionally, the blend is in the form of a wet marinade made from fresh and moist ingredients like parsley, garlic, cilantro and the local Marash pepper.

Pan grilled Prawns (spiced with Z’hug) - thespiceadventuress.com

Amongst the cookbooks I own, one of my most prized ones is the New Moroccan by Mourad Lahlou. It’s an amazing book where Chef/author Mourad Lahlou delves into traditional Moroccan cooking, basics and fundamentals but executed in a modern, contemporary style.

So there’s information about so many spices, ingredients, techniques from in and around the region; great for those who do not know much about Morocco or its cuisine. Yet the recipes and dishes outlined are global fare.

Though Z’hug is a wet blend as mentioned, Mourad has outlined a recipe in the book for a dry version which is often used in his restaurant. And that’s what I have used too, except that instead of Marash pepper, I used semi dried chillies. Even though I do stock the Marash pepper, it’s not an easy one to find for most people so I decided to use the chilli variety that is available locally and easily for all. But if you do have it, use it by all means.

There are plenty of ways to use Z’hug. It can be used as a dry rub for steaks or roast chicken. It can also be used to spice up casseroles, lentils or roast vegetables. Roast nuts spiced with Z’hug is also a great idea.

Z’hug and seafood would also be a delightful combination. And I wanted to make something that’s quick and simply to put together for a midweek meal or as a party starter. The spice blend can also be made in excess and stored; one that is great to have in the pantry always.

I decided to use prawns marinated with Z’hug and then pan grill it. Prawns do not require prolonged marination, so it’s a dish that comes together in no time at all. And with the holiday season upon us, this is a great dish to add to your party table.

Pan grilled Prawns (spiced with Z’hug) - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 600gms tiger prawns; deveined and deshelled
  2. Z’hug blend
  3. Salt; to season
  4. Vegetable oil
  5. Lemon wedges; to serve

Z’hug:

(I have used Gourmet Garden’s semi dried chillies and herbs; but you can substitute with any brand you have access to. Or you can use fresh ingredients to make a wet spice marinade)

  1. 2 tsp semi dried chilli flakes
  2. 3 tsp ground coriander
  3. 2 tsp dried cilantro/coriander leaves
  4. 3 tsp dried parsley
  5. 1 tsp garlic granules
  6. 1 tsp ground cumin
  7. 1 tsp ground caraway
  8. 1 tsp ground cardamom
  9. ¼ tsp citric acid
  10. ¼ tsp ground black pepper

Method:

To make Z’hug:

  • Combine all the ingredients, grind if necessary and store in an airtight container.

To prepare the final dish:

  • Clean and pat dry the prawns.
  • In a non reactive bowl, marinate the prawns with Z’hug and season with salt. Mix well and keep for 15-30minutes.
  • Brush enough oil and heat the grill pan to high. Pan grill the prawns in batches till done.
  • Serve hot with lemon wedges.

Pan grilled Prawns (spiced with Z’hug) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review

AGFG (Australian Good Food & Travel Guide) is one of my favourite websites to visit for restaurant reviews, recipes, stories from the food and travel industry, dining deals etc… And this year, AGFG also bestowed the honour of Top 10 Bloggers, 2017 which was a great opportunity for me to take my work forward.

So when AGFG reached out to me to review the food at Thirty Eight Chairs, I was really keen because I had heard really good things about the restaurant and also, regional Italian cuisine is one of my favourites.

Thirty Eight Chairs has two locations – South Yarra and Carlton North.

Situated in a quiet, beautiful neighbourhood of Carlton, Thirty Eight Chairs is a dream come true venture for its owner, Gino Forlano.

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The South Yarra restaurant was a huge success but Gino always wanted to open a branch in Carlton because it has one of the biggest Italian communities in Melbourne. He wanted to have a dining space that was a reflection of both Italian hospitality and way of life. A space which is not hurried but where families and friends can sit down to good food and wine, engage in meaningful conversations and spend time with each other.

The ambience at Thirty Eight Chairs is best described as friendly. There are lovely streetside tables (great when the sun’s out and shining), a relaxed dining space downstairs and a large venue space upstairs. The staff are extremely friendly, very cheerful and was genuinely happy to help out with choosing from the menu.

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

I had the opportunity to have a chat with head chef Giuseppe Di Mauro. He told me that the food served here is classic Napolitana style, true to its origins in terms of flavour but care has been taken to present it in a contemporary style. They use a mix of local and seasonally available ingredients but also source certain ingredients from Italy which are not easily available here.

It was a warm day and all our drink choices were centered on that. I started with a sparkling while the others chose a Cosmopolitan, Mojito and a whiskey cocktail. There are also wines on tap (somehow I get very excited everytime I see this) and I chose a Prosecco to accompany the mains.

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

We had a selection of starters beginning with the ‘A Tunnat ‘e Mar (Peppered yellow fin tuna, crispy shallots, caper vinaigrette & micro herbs). Hands down, one of the best tuna dishes I have ever had. Presented beautifully and the flavours were simply incredible. Highly recommended!

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

No matter how many ever times I have had it, I simply cannot resist ordering ‘A Caprese (Fresh tomato, basil & buffalo mozzarella) when visiting an Italian restaurant. It’s a classic and an instant judgement of what’s to follow because this salad is all about freshness and quality of ingredients. Happy that I was not disappointed at all.

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Fried street food is also quite popular in Neopolitan cuisine so we also tried out ‘O Coupon ‘e Terra  – a mixed platter of pea arancini, potato croquettes, polenta chips, beer battered zucchini & salty dough balls. Absolutely loved all of it but my favourites were the polenta chips and beer battered zucchini.

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Thirty Chairs is quite famous for its pasta dishes as all the different types of pasta are made in house using traditional Italian methods. And what surprised me was the fact that there were so many pasta varieties that I still had no clue about. Don’t bother about the term ‘al dente’ here as that’s not the texture that suits fresh pastas!

The first pasta dish we tried was a signature dish that was highly recommended by the chef. ‘E Mafaldine ‘a Cacciator (long curly pasta, slow cooked duck ragú, porcini mushrooms & shaved pecorino cheese). The simplest of dishes yet the most complex in flavour as that duck ragu was slow cooked for hours to get the perfect texture and consistency. And the taste of freshly made pasta is simply out of this world.

13

The second pasta dish was from the day’s special list. Yet another variety I have never tasted before. Mixed with fresh sausages, chillies and tossed through the most amazing sauce, this pasta dish could easily be one of the best I have ever had.

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The seafood lover in me had to try out the special seafood dish with cuttlefish, swordfish, scallops, prawns, clams, salmon and mussels unshelled in a delicious tomato chilli broth served with a side of grilled bread. Absolutely stunning flavours especially that bisque was just heavenly.

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Also ordered a light and refreshing Bietola e Caprino (Mixed beeroot, baby cos, snowpeas & goats cheese, in lemon dressing salad) which paired extremely well with the rich flavours of the other dishes.

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

To summarize, the dining experience at Thirty Eight Chairs was a delicious and delightful one. I have dined at a lot of Italian restaurants yet discovered that there is more to the cuisine than I really knew, especially the differences between Napolitana style and other regional styles.

The freshly made pasta was a delight and clearly sets apart the pasta dishes served at Thirty Eight Chairs. And with a great ambience and customer service, it’s definitely a place you want to visit with friends and family.

Thirty Eight Chairs

651 Rathdowne St
Carlton North
VIC 3054

Phone no: 03 8383 4113

http://www.thirtyeightchairs.com.au/carlton-north/

Timings:

Tuesday – Saturday
Lunch: 11.30am – 3.00pm
Dinner: 6pm – 10pm

Sunday
Brunch/Lunch: 10.30am – 4pm

Disclaimer – I dined as a guest at Thirty Eight Chairs, but the opinions and views expressed are unbiased and entirely mine.

Thirty Eight Chairs Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tesselaar Tulip Festival + September Favourites

Another month has gone by and can’t believe that we are almost nearing the end of another year.

Life was super busy this month as my parents are here for a short stay. And as I mentioned in my last post, I am taking it real slow on the work front. It’s been a long five year gap so I have decided to take it easy and spend maximum time with them.

Apart from the long hours of chatting, we are also introducing them to the Melbourne way of life. Slow, relaxed, lots of travel and great food. Must admit they are really enjoying this break which makes me feel so grateful and blessed.

My parents are avid gardeners; in fact we have a really beautiful garden back home with an area for growing ornamental orchids and many other flowering plants. So I knew they would be thrilled to visit the Tesselaar tulip festival.

Tesselaar Tulip Festival - thespiceadventuress.com

The Tesselaar Tulip Festival is an annual event held at the Tulip Farm, 357 Monbulk Road, Silvan –VIC. Since we had a late start to the spring season, the festival has been extended until 15th October this year.

Trying to describe the beauty of thousands of tulips in bloom in a few words is a futile effort. So here are a few photographs that I shot during the festival.

Tesselaar Tulip Festival - thespiceadventuress.com

15

I was also quite impressed by the lineup of food at the festival. Lots of traditional Dutch delicacies but also several other cuisines like Turkish, Indian, Greek, Japanese etc… were also available. And with Yarra Valley being a major sponsor, there were also some great wines from the region.

Tesselaar Tulip Festival - thespiceadventuress.com

Have you taken a ride on the Melbourne Star?

We have, quite a few times. It’s often an activity that we pick when we have friends or family visiting from overseas.

There are a range of experiences to choose from and one of our favourites is the Sights and Lights, which allows you to experience the Melboune cityscape during day and night. The Star is one of its kind experience to see this beautiful city, memories of which you will cherish forever.

Melbourne Star - thespiceadventuress.com

I made this Cambodian chicken curry for my parents and they absolutely loved it. Aromatic and fragrant, this curry is just lipsmacking good with just steamed rice to accompany.

Cambodian chicken curry - thespiceadventuress.com

And now my favourites for last month from around the globe:

Future of the written word! Do we get excited for scared?

Bacon gremolata; my new favourite soup topping.

Such a delicious way of using celery in a dish.

This chicken wing platter is the perfect summer party dish.

Love Sichuan peppercorns and these ribs just celebrate the spice.

These turkey meatballs are stunning.

Have you heard of Spain’s famous blue wine?

These mini taco bowls are so delish.

Celebrating the hardcore Aries in me with this Pandora charm.

Tatrelo Kolmi Patio (Parsi style Prawns)

I know I have been MIA for quite some time here but I am back now with a lipsmacking prawn dish from the Parsi kitchen!

Tatrelo Kolmi Patio (Parsi style Prawns) - thespiceadventuress.com

The reason for being MIA is that my parents are visiting me from India for the next couple of months. And I am meeting them after five long years guys, so you can imagine my excitement. I can hardly think of work; every single moment is spent chatting with them and taking them around the city and neighbouring places.

And pampering them with loads of deliciousness.

I have never had the opportunity to cook for them before for such a long period of time. And now I don the blogger status too, so treating them to all sorts of new dishes and cuisines, both at home and at restaurants. After all, Melbourne is indeed the food capital of the world.

With seafood being a family favourite, I decided to treat them to Tatrelo Kolmi Patio, a delicious Parsi style prawn dish.

Tatrelo Kolmi Patio (Parsi style Prawns) - thespiceadventuress.com

The Parsi cuisine is rich, varied and full of delicious recipes especially more if you are a seafood lover. This prawns patio is simple, easy to prepare but so full of flavour that you will find yourself making it over and over again.

The combination of vinegar and jaggery along with the spices and aromatics add a punch to the flavours yet not overpowering. The spices are subtle and only highlight the taste of the meaty tiger prawns. Make sure that the dish has a semi-dry consistency which is when the masala coats around the prawns for a delicious mouthful.

And there’s only way to enjoy this best – with steaming hot rice and a simple dal. Tuck in!

Recipe adapted from http://www.bawibride.com

Ingredients:

  1. 600gms prawns; deshelled and deveined
  2. 1 medium red onion; finely chopped
  3. 3 garlic cloves; grated

Find the full recipe here.

Tatrelo Kolmi Patio (Parsi style Prawns) - thespiceadventuress.com

Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood.

%d bloggers like this: