Bowl Bowl Dumpling (Collingwood, Melbourne)

Smith Street, Collingwood is a food lover’s paradise. With so many good restaurants to choose from, it can be quite a confusing decision. That’s when I turn to fellow bloggers and sites like AGFG (Australian Good Food Guide), especially when trying out a place for the first time.

And Bowl Bowl Dumpling was one such find, courtesy AGFG.

Head Chef Kun Fu along with his partner Shin, showcases classic Sichuan cooking in a contemporary setting. After having worked in some of the best restaurants, Melbourne and abroad, the Chef brings to you a seasonally driven menu which has classic Sichuan flavours but with an experimental and personal flair.

So expect some lipsmacking, fiery deliciousness showcased in a brilliant way!

The restaurant is a pretty busy one (no surprises there!), and so they have another space too about two shops away. But it would be best to make a booking in advance before dropping in.

Tradition meets functionality, that’s how I would describe the décor and ambience at Bowl Bowl. There are touches of Chinese influence everywhere but in quite a contemporary manner that suits both the food and culture of Collingwood.

Bowl Bowl Dumpling (Collingwood, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Bowl Bowl Dumpling (Collingwood, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Bowl Bowl has a decent wine selection and the menu also gives suggestions with regards to food wine pairing. We got the 2016 Yarraglen Pinot Noir (Yarra Valley, VIC) and the 2015 Angas & Bremer Shiraz (Langhorne Creek, SA)

Bowl Bowl Dumpling (Collingwood, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The menu at Bowl Bowl is an extensive showcase of Sichuan flavours. There are plenty of starters and small bites to choose from. Dumplings are another speciality at Bowl Bowl, and you will find some signature ones here that are not available in many other places. There are also rice bowls and big plates to share.

We decided to stick to the starters and dumplings as the dishes looked the most unique and interesting to us.

For starters, since we couldn’t make up our minds, we went for the Chef’s Special Street Food Platter, which is basically a selection of 6 different dishes. The dishes change daily and are handpicked by the Chef based on what’s best that day.

Bowl Bowl Dumpling (Collingwood, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

So on our platter we had;

  1. Five Spice Quail – crispy skinned quail, cooked beautifully and spiced just right. Dig in with your hands for this one.
  2. Lamb Ribs in Xinjiang style – fiery with a generous sprinkling of Sichuan peppercorns, but you just can’t stop eating it. Absolutely tender, melt in the mouth lamb ribs. Highly recommended.
  3. Kung Fu Tofu – Cool and melt in the mouth tofu with basil and bbq sauce; this dish was a true revelation. I am not a tofu lover but this one was just brilliant that I could eat it every day for the rest of my life. I can’t recommend it enough.
  4. Smashed garlic cucumber – a delicious accompaniment to refresh the palate.
  5. Fungi with chillies – another brilliant dish with a great textural finish; make sure you have it with the chillies.
  6. While these were the main dishes, we also had Chinese sausage, salted duck egg, candied walnuts and another salad.

Bowl Bowl Dumpling (Collingwood, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Bowl Bowl Dumpling (Collingwood, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

We tried out three different dumplings, all three quite unique and different to what we have had till date.

Water Bomb – as the name suggests, these are incredibly soft, handmade dumplings. Steamed and juicy filled with the most delicious concoction of pork, ginger juice and rice wine. Make sure you get the whole dumpling into your mouth at once since it’s filled with liquid and breaking it would be a crime. And you will soon be transported to dumpling heaven!

Bowl Bowl Dumpling (Collingwood, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The Signature – The Chef’s signature dumplings with pork, chives, ginger and rice wine. The best way to have these is the boiled version with scallions, peanuts, garlic, Sichuan pepper and chilli sauce. Again a must try dish at Bowl Bowl; the flavour of these dumplings is just outstanding.

Bowl Bowl Dumpling (Collingwood, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Red Hot Cow – It was the name that first drew me to this dish and when I read the description I just had to order it; so unique. Succulent beef dumplings, pan fried and served with ripe tomato, onion, mushroom, ginger stock and rice wine relish. It’s fiery, spicy and fingerlickin good!

Bowl Bowl Dumpling (Collingwood, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Didn’t order anything from the Big plates or Rice section; guess we will do that next time. But finished off the meal with a light dessert – Chilled Mango Sago Cream with Pomelo. It was a light, refreshing, cold dessert with both mango and pomelo flavours coming through. But the pomelo was stronger which left a slightly bitter after taste. So will recommend it only if you enjoy the flavour of pomelo.

Bowl Bowl Dumpling (Collingwood, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

To summarize, Bowl Bowl Dumpling is a fabulous space to experience Sichuan cuisine. While there are contemporary touches to the dishes, the heart of soul of Sichuan cooking has been preserved in each dish which delivers in terms of flavour and deliciousness.

Bowl Bowl Dumpling

88 Smith Street
Collingwood
Victoria 3066

Phone no: (03) 9417 7448

http://bowlbowl.com.au/

Timings:

Weekdays: 11:30 am – 3:00 pm & 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Saturday: 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm & 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm

Disclaimer – I dined as a guest of Bowl Bowl Dumpling and AGFG; the photographs and opinions remain entirely mine. 

Bowl Bowl Dumpling Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Potatoes with Smoked Salmon, Capers and Dill

Christmas in July! A few weeks ago I had posted my thoughts on this on Instagram and the special dinner I made for my family.

Potatoes with Smoked Salmon, Capers and Dill - thespiceadventuress.com

Initially I had no plans of posting the recipes here. But I had taken a lot of photographs as it was also part of a social media collaboration with ALDI Australia. The food turned out amazing and I got a lot of requests for the recipes so eventually I decided to jot it down here too. I am sure it’s gonna come handy when we all celebrate the traditional Christmas season.

Pan roasted potatoes with smoked salmon, red onion, capers, dill and drizzled with olive oil; this was the appetizer that I served for our celebratory dinner. And paired it with the Blue Pyrenees Midnight Cuvee (2014).

Potatoes with Smoked Salmon, Capers and Dill - thespiceadventuress.com

The smoked salmon/caper/red onion pairing is a classic one, traditionally enjoyed with bagels and cream cheese. Today, there are all sorts of variations to this and this potato version is one of them.

Using potatoes instead of bagel keeps it lighter and bite sized, which makes it perfect to be served as an appetizer or canapé. Cream cheese can be avoided too. It’s important to use even, medium sized potatoes to get the perfect shape (and also to get maximum slices from a single potato).

As I mentioned, the flavours are still classic with smoked salmon, capers, red onion and dill. It’s easy to make ahead; only the potatoes need to be parboiled and then finished off in a pan at the time of serving. The rest of the components can be prepped ahead too which makes it an excellent choice to serve at parties even when there are many guests.

And if you try out this recipe, do tag me #thespiceadventuress in your post, so that I can see it too.

Potatoes with Smoked Salmon, Capers and Dill - thespiceadventuress.com

Recipe adapted from Coles Magazine

Ingredients:

  1. 2-3 even medium sized potatoes
  2. 100gms smoked salmon
  3. ½ red onion; thinly sliced
  4. 2 tbsp capers
  5. Fresh dill
  6. Extra virgin olive oil
  7. ½ lemon
  8. 2-3 tbsp cooking oil
  9. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Peel and cut the potatoes into 1 – 1 ½ inch slices
  2. Parboil the potato slices in slightly salted water; drain and keep aside.
  3. Heat the cooking oil in a pan; fry the potatoes on both sides just enough to get some colour and crisp up the outside.
  4. Remove and arrange on a platter.
  5. Top each potato slice with smoked salmon, red onion slices, capers and dill. Squeeze lemon on top and drizzle a little olive oil just before serving.

Potatoes with Smoked Salmon, Capers and Dill - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

Chicken Drumlette Curry (with potatoes)

I am not much of a gadget freak especially when it comes to my kitchen.

Now it’s true that I have a few extra equipments due to the nature of my work (many of which were sent to me for professional reasons) but I am pretty old school and prefer to use only a few basic ones. And instead of buying the latest appliances, I would rather invest in high quality knives and cookware that are better for my family’s long term health and also for the environment.

But having said that, there was one appliance that I have wanted to buy for a long time now; a modern pressure cooker.

If you are from India, you would understand how integral a pressure cooker is to our cooking. I cannot imagine a day without using the PC in some form or the other. After moving to Australia, I became less dependent on the PC as I started experimenting with slow cooking, baking, roasting etc… but the pressure cooker held a very special place in my kitchen.

Once the blog started, many of the pressure cooker recipes would make it here. And one of the constant questions I would get from my non Indian audience is about the Indian pressure cooker and how they can adapt those recipes to suit their modern versions. The Indian PC is an alien appliance to all of them and they find it quite intriguing and exciting.

That’s when I became aware of the fact that what the rest of the world calls PC is quite different in appearance and performance to the Indian version though the basic technology is same. I started researching more about the modern version especially when my Indian one began to give problems and there was no way I could get it repaired here. I don’t travel to India often so the first time, I had to ask my parents to courier a spare part (the courier charges turned out triple the cost of the original part).

And while all this research was going on, I got the biggest surprise when I was sent the Philips Deluxe All-in-One-Cooker for a collaboration. My wish was granted triple fold, because this premium appliance can pressure cook, slow cook, bake, sauté…basically multi cook including making yoghurt!

Chicken Drumlette Curry (with potatoes) - thespiceadventuress.com

What I love most about this appliance is that it is a multi cooker which means I can use a lot of functions, some of them for the same dish itself. For eg: I can sauté and then pressure cook or sauté and slow cook or do all three if necessary. There is an add ingredient option which means mid way pressure cooking, I can open and add ingredients which is absolutely fantastic. There are pre programmed options for lentils, poultry, rice, beef/lamb etc… which means I don’t need to worry about undercooking or overcooking the dish.

One of my favourite curries to make using the pressure cooker is this simple Chicken drumlette curry with potatoes. It’s a super simple mid week curry that needs very little time especially since drumlettes are used. Just basic spices and aromatics, this is a rustic curry that can be paired with any kind of bread or rice. Any sort of curry tastes better when meat on the bone is used. And drumlettes are super affordable, easy to eat and tastes absolutely delicious when cooked in a curry sauce like this.

Note – This chicken drumlette curry can also be made in a traditional PC or slow cooked on the stovetop.

Chicken Drumlette Curry (with potatoes) - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 600gms chicken drumlettes (skinless)
  2. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  3. 1 inch cinnamon bark
  4. 3 cloves
  5. 3 green cardamom
  6. ½ tsp cumin seeds
  7. 1 red onion; finely chopped
  8. 2 sprigs curry leaves
  9. Masala paste
  • 1 medium red onion; cubed
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes; cubed
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 3-4 fresh coriander leaves (stalks and root included if available)
  1. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  2. 1 tsp red chilli powder
  3. 2 tsp coriander powder
  4. ½ tsp garam masala
  5. Salt, to season
  6. 2 potatoes; cubed
  7. Coriander leaves; for garnish

Method:

  1. Select the Sauté/Sear function for 12 minutes (lid open); add oil and the whole spices (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and cumin seeds)
  2. As the spices begin to sizzle, add the curry leaves followed by the onions; mix well and sauté for 5 minutes till the onions turn light brown.
  3. Then add the ground masala; mix well and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. There will be some amount of spluttering so stir continuously.
  4. Mix the spice powders (turmeric, red chilli, coriander and garam masala) in 2-3 tbsp water and add this to the masala. Mix well to combine and cook for one minute.
  5. Add the chicken pieces and season with salt. Also add 2 cups water and mix well to combine.
  6. Select the Pressure cooker (poultry) function and close the lid. Set the timing for 15 minutes, pressure at 40.
  7. After 5 minutes, select the add ingredient function. Open the lid once pressure has dropped and add the potatoes. Mix well and add more water if you desire more gravy.
  8. Close lid and continue pressure cooking process for the remaining 10 minutes.
  9. Once cooking is complete, open lid and garnish with coriander leaves.

Note:

Traditional PC – The steps remain same but cooking times will change. More water is release when cooking chicken in a traditional PC, so add only 1 cup water.

Stove top – Follow the same steps. After adding the chicken pieces and water to cook in Step 5, bring to boil and then simmer on low heat till the chicken is half done. Then add the potato pieces and cook covered till both the chicken and potatoes are cooked through and tender.

Chicken Drumlette Curry (with potatoes) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne)

I have not ventured much into the dining scene of Port Melbourne so I was quite excited when I got an invite from Australian Good Food Guide (AGFG) to check out Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar.

Situated on Rouse Street, Hanoi Mee has a small but vibrant and colourful space. The interiors are tastefully done and represent modern Vietnamese in every nook and corner. Traditional crafts share space with modern industrial vibes to create a beautiful space that’s perfect for after work drinks or dinner with friends and family.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne)  - thespiceadventuress.com

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne)  - thespiceadventuress.com

Chef Ennis Le has created a menu that’s distinctly Vietnamese yet very modern in its approach to flavours. Drawing inspiration from the local produce combined with his flair for creativity and attention to details and presentation, Hanoi Mee is a great dining experience for those seeking to explore Vietnamese flavours in a contemporary style.

For drinks, we ordered the Chilli Mojito (white rum, St. Germain liqueur, lime, chilli, mint, ginger/chilli syrup and soda) and the Port Melbourne Mar-Tea-Ni (tea infused vodka, peach liqueur, mango liqueur, lemon juice and egg white).

The Chilli Mojito was the clear winner; it’s spicy, punchy yet balanced perfectly. Highly recommended!

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The ‘Small Bite’s section of the menu looked so interesting and we wanted to try out quite a few dishes. So instead of a-la-carte, we ordered ‘Best Bits’ which is a selection of seven of the signature starters from the menu. A good way to sample a variety of dishes and a great option for a tapas style dinner.

We started with the Calamari, crab and shrimp spring rolls which were served with lettuce, herbs and nuoc cham. I absolutely love Vietnamese style spring rolls; the best in my opinion and this modern version was super delicious. Super crunchy covering which I think was made from fried noodles; these spring rolls really set the bar high for the remaining meal.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The next dish arrived with much fanfare; Confit salmon with coconut, avocado, granny smith apple and wasabi caviar served in sesame cone. A very modern interpretation of some classic flavours, I was a bit apprehensive of how it would taste. But it was delightful; light and subtle with all the flavours in perfect balance.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Next to arrive were the Steamed prawn dumplings. Now we cannot dine at any Asian themed restaurant without ordering dumplings, that’s like the gold standard. And Hanoi Mee didn’t disappoint; kept it true and delicious.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The next to taste was the Yellow tail king fish, pomelo, young coconut shredded on betel leaves. Another small bite that I would highly recommend; morsels of deliciousness indeed.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

You have to try out the Black pepper sticky pork belly bun with cucumber, spring onion and chilli. The flavours were amazing; the bun was really soft but I felt that the pork belly could have been sliced thin so that the pork didn’t feel overpowering.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Sweet chilli chicken wingettes with crispy shallots and coriander – this one’s for all the chicken wing lovers. Crispy yet tender and juicy inside tossed with Asian flavours of sweet, spicy, tangy; it was a delightful snack.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Another dish that I was quite interested to try was the Sher Wagyu steak tartare with ginger, fried shallots on crispy rice cracker. This is the first time I have tried tartare infused with Asian flavours and I was not at all disappointed. A tad bit salty but the overall taste was amazing especially when paired with the crunch from the crackers.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The final dish that we tried from the Small Bites section was the Spring bay mussels steamed in Hanoi beer with Vietnamese mint, lemongrass, ginger and chilli. I am a huge mussels fan so I was happy to dig into this; subtle yet lots of punch from the aromatics and chilli.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Now these small bites are more than enough to fill you up, but we couldn’t come away without trying out any mains.

So from Mains, we chose the Hanoi Mee signature dish; Caramelised pork hock with tamarind caramel sauce served with cos lettuce, fragrant herbs, pickled carrots and papaya. First of all let me tell you that this is a huge dish that is clearly meant to be shared unless you have a matching appetite.

The caramelized sauce encrusted crispy skin on the pork was just heavenly. The meat was succulent and juicy mostly but owing to its sheer size, there were a few places where the meat had started to get dry. But inspite of that, it was super delicious. The best way to have the dish is to cut out slices of the meat and roll it inside the lettuce topped with the fresh herbs and pickles.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

To go along with the mains, we also got the Crispy soft shell crab, mango and papaya salad with a ginger dressing. The salad works as a dish just by itself and generous portions too. If you love soft shell crab, then do give this salad a try. Again highly recommended.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen and Bar (Port Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

In a nutshell, Hanoi Mee is an excellent spot to experience modern Vietnamese cuisine. The flavours are distinctly Vietnamese yet in a contemporary Australian setting; the best of both worlds. I can’t wait to go back.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen & Bar

140 Rouse Street,
Port Melbourne VIC 3207
hanoimee@gmail.com

Phone no: (03) 9042 7921

Timings:

Sunday: 11:30am – 10:00pm
Monday: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Tuesday: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Wednesday: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Thursday: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Friday: 5:00mm – 10:00pm
Saturday 5:00pm – 10:00pm

Disclaimer – I dined as a guest on behalf of AGFG at Hanoi Mee. All the photographs and opinions remain entirely mine.

Hanoi Mee Kitchen & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

July Favourites

It’s been such a fabulous and rewarding month filled with such amazing opportunities on the work front. I am thoroughly drained but it has all been so worth it.

After a few months of discussions, brainstorming and testing, I was finally able to announce my collaboration with Feastively. It is a joy that I cannot put into words to finally see my recipes as a meal box. And of course the thought that it would be of immense help to busy families to put healthy, fresh and delicious meals in 15 minutes on the table.

I have already done a blog post announcing the collaboration so you can read it all here. And to purchase my fresh box, visit the Feastively website. If any of you have already cooked with it, I would love to hear your feedback.

Visit the Feastively website to purchase my special Beef Mince Curry with potatoes, peas and served with steamed rice.

My Recipes as Fresh Meal Boxes – a Collaboration with Feastively; thespiceadventuress.com

The second highlight of the month was the opportunity to be one of the judges for an upcoming series called Zee TV Chef Diaries. Shot in Melbourne, it’s a cooking series for passionate home cooks to showcase their culinary talents. It was an incredible honour because judging someone else’s cooking is no easy task. But I was happy that I was able to do my best; an experience I will cherish forever.

And the third was being chosen as one of the Top 30 Indian Food Photographers, 2018. Again a huge honour especially being in the company of some of the photographers that I have admired and learned from since the beginning of my blogging journey.

Top 30 Indian Food Photographers, 2018 - thespiceadventuress.com

There’s been a lot of recipe development that happened in July; it was a busy month again with lots of brand collaborations and the like. But one of my favourites was this simple Kerala platter with rice, parippu curry (Kerala style lentils); beetroot stir fry and mussels thoran (mussels stir fried with grated coconut and spices). It’s the taste of home!

Mussels thoran - thespiceadventuress.com

And time now for all other favourites for the month of July:

Most parents are often made to feel guilty about having just one child. I hope this article will make you feel better about the decision.

I have a little boy or I would have shopped this entire site. But I do buy for my nieces.

An easy peasy chicken noodle dish.

This kofta biryani is perfect for our Sunday lunch. And a long siesta thereafter….

I love taro (arbi), one of my favourite root vegetables.

A Vegan Wellington! How interesting….

Enchilada and a casserole….what a great idea!

Love gazpacho especially in summer but never tried a tomatillo version.

The best chicken sandwich I have seen in a long time

Totally making this pork burger

 

Pan fried Salmon with Peperonata

Social media can be such a wonderful medium if you use it constructively. In spite of all the negativity that surrounds it, it’s a wonderful tool to communicate, work and meet new people if you use it in a positive manner.

I have made some amazing friendships and relationships over the years through social media; people who I would never have met otherwise. While many are still virtual friends, there have been others where the virtual relationships were quick to transform into real life friendships too.

This week, I got the opportunity to meet Natasha (@thegutlessfoodie) while she was on holiday in Australia. I have known Natasha for about 2 years now; our paths crossed on Instagram and we have remained in touch ever since. What drew me to her posts was not her medical condition and her inspiring life story (though there’s much to learn from that), but her sense of humor and positivity. Her food posts always bought me joy and put a smile on my face; and of course encouraged me to embrace wholesome homemade food always.

We spent a lovely evening with each other and our families, such a joy when you meet a virtual friend and realise that the love and respect you had for each other was not just an Internet thing but a genuine one. It’s a sigh of relief when that happens because more often than not, we always project the better side of us on social media without realizing that there’s more to each other’s life.

And while I wish we had more time to spend with each other, it was a great experience meeting her; one that is going to be cherished forever.

Time now to get to today’s recipe….

Peperonata is a classic Italian accompaniment. Often takes it place on the antipasti platter and is a great topping with bread and a good quality extra virgin.

Initially that’s how I wanted to try out this recipe. But as I was reading it, the flavours delighted me and I wanted to use it as an accompaniment with a protein for a complete meal. And of course, salmon came to mind as anything to do with roasted peppers are a delightful addition to seafood.

Pan fried Salmon with Peperonata - thespiceadventuress.com

Peperonata is an extremely simple side to prepare that can be made ahead of time if you are prepping for a party. This dish is all about the bell peppers so make sure you pick plump red ones which have the right amount of sweetness required. The peppers are first roasted for that smoky flavour and then sautéed off with onions, tomatoes and spices. But what really adds another level of flavour is the basil pesto.

Since the Peperonata is loaded with flavour, there’s not much that needs to be done to the salmon. Keep it simple with a marinade of turmeric and paprika. And of course, take care while cooking to get that crispy skin which is the best part of the salmon.

Pan fried Salmon with Peperonata - thespiceadventuress.com

Pan fried Salmon with Peperonata - thespiceadventuress.com

A healthy meal with really robust flavours, this dish is easy to prepare which makes it ideal for both weekdays and when entertaining too.

Ingredients:

  1. 4 Salmon fillets (with skin)
  2. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  3. 1 tsp paprika (or Kashmiri chilli powder)

Find the full recipe on Supreme Seafood website..

Pan fried Salmon with Peperonata - thespiceadventuress.com

 

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge

The Bank is located inside a heritage building on the popular Sydney Road, Brunswick.

Even though I had looked at the website, The Bank was nothing like I imagined it would be. Walking into the restaurant was like walking into a music academy. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the different instruments, the open stage and the music school (a small room nestled within the restaurant). Only after all this, would you notice that this place is also a café and restaurant.

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge - thespiceadventuress.com

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge - thespiceadventuress.com

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge - thespiceadventuress.com

A chat with Sebastian Riggio (owner, chef, musician and much more….) gave us a deeper insight into why music was such an integral part of The Bank.

Sebastian not only has a passion for music but also for discovering new talent; train and set them up for the world stage. One of his protégé is Eva Kourtes (best female guitarist, 2014), guitarist, pianist, musician, songwriter and composer who will soon be going on a world tour with the music legend, Carlos Santana.

And when Eva is not teaching at the music school or performing with her band, Evaluation, at The Bank, she also dons the cap of the unassuming waitress who might be serving you while you are dining there. Much to learn and get inspired by from this 20 year old!

Coming to food, The Bank is all about fresh, wholesome and hearty Sicilian cuisine.

While I have eaten at plenty of Italian restaurants, there were a few dishes on the menu that were so classic Sicilian, not common in many other places.

The bar menu is basic; a few choices ticking of all categories like wines, spirits, cold drinks, hot beverages etc….

For drinks, we got a glass of house red, a sparkling and lemon lime bitters.

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge - thespiceadventuress.com

We started the meal with Arrancini – deep fried rice balls, topped with fresh bolognese and parmesan. A classic Italian dish, but you will soon realize how the flavours are different depending on the region of Italy. I loved the fact that it was topped with bolognese; added so much flavour to the whole dish.

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge - thespiceadventuress.com

The second starter we tried was the Polpetti – homemade meatballs in a Napolitana sauce. I love Italian style meatballs and this is one dish that I always order. But I was surprised that the Polpetti was quite different to what I have eaten at other places. The texture was slightly dry and the meatball had a crusty exterior. It was served as one large meatball with the Napolitana sauce. I was told that this was the Sicilian style where instead of mince, it’s the sausage stuffing that’s used to make Polpetti. While the dish tasted good, I think I prefer the other style of meatballs compared to this one.

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge - thespiceadventuress.com

We also ordered the Orange & Fennel Salad – served with extra virgin olive oil, spring onions, chilli flakes. A light and really refreshing salad, this was a good accompaniment with the Polpetti.

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge - thespiceadventuress.com

For mains, we got Homemade Salsici – spicy sausages served with a garlic & onion tapenade. I cannot stop raving about this dish. I have never had sausages made like this before. Fresh homemade pork sausages in the most deliciously spicy garlic, pepper and onion tapenade. Absolutely blown away by the flavours and the dish of the day. Highly recommended!

When I asked more about this dish, Sebastian said that the secret lies in the sausages that are made in house. He was kind enough to even show me some. One of those dishes where you truly appreciate the magic that quality ingredients can bring to a dish.

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge - thespiceadventuress.com

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge - thespiceadventuress.com

And of course we had to try out the artisan pizza range. While The Bank does regular style pizza dough,  it’s recommended to try out the artisan style pizzas that are native to Sicily. We chose the Caltagirone, a very traditional one topped with prosciutto, tomatoes, spinach and onions. It was clear why the artisan style dough stands out; the thin crusty base with a really good balance of toppings was perfectly delicious. Subtle yet so full of flavour.

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge - thespiceadventuress.com

The Lasagna Siciliana – ham, cheese, peas topped with napolitana or bolognese sauce is another signature dish at The Bank. Though I didn’t try it out, I was kindly allowed into the kitchen to watch the making process. And I am sure I will be ordering it the next time I visit The Bank.

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge - thespiceadventuress.com

In a nutshell, The Bank is a place where home style Sicilian cooking meets great music. Drop in for a bite or catch up with friends for a coffee in the lounge. But stay back for the music!

The Bank

840 Sydney Road
Brunswick
Victoria

Phone no: (03) 9383 1963 / 0418 996 321

http://www.thebankbrunswick.com/

Timings:

Thursday : 5:30 – 10:30pm
Friday – Sunday : 12:30 – 10:30pm

Disclaimer – I visited The Bank as a guest of AGFG, but the opinions are entirely mine.

The BANK brunswick Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

My Recipes as Fresh Meal Boxes – a Collaboration with Feastively

2018 has been such an exciting year for me on the work front. So many interesting opportunities and collaborations have come my way this year, most of which has pushed me clearly beyond my comfort zone but enabled me to take my food dreams one step further.

And one such exciting opportunity has been this collaboration with Feastively.

My Recipes as Fresh Meal Boxes – a Collaboration with Feastively; thespiceadventuress.com

My Recipes as Fresh Meal Boxes – a Collaboration with Feastively; thespiceadventuress.com

Feastively specializes in fresh meal boxes that are designed to help you cook a delicious dinner in three easy steps and just 15 minutes. Based on the meal plan and dishes that you choose on a weekly basis, all the prep work is done, packaged and delivered to your home.

Earlier this year, the company got in touch with me to find out if I would be interested in transforming some of my signature recipes from the blog into a fresh meal box format. I was surprised but couldn’t be more excited. This was almost like cooking personally for all of you (nothing could give me greater joy)!

Since I had tried out Feastively meal boxes last year, I was already aware of the quality of their meals. And I was quite impressed with the taste of many of their dishes. But making the decision was still hard because I wanted to be sure that my recipes delivered the same flavour as how I would cook at home, when it gets transformed into a fresh meal box.

But Feastively provided me with the kind of support to enable this and make the project a reality. A lot of testing and tweaking has taken place behind the scenes on their end as well as mine to ensure that each signature dish that is showcased has my stamp of approval and will deliver in terms of freshness, quality and flavour.

And finally the day has arrived; Indian Kheema Masala (Beef Mince with Potatoes, Peas and Rice) is now available through Feastively.

My Recipes as Fresh Meal Boxes – a Collaboration with Feastively; thespiceadventuress.com

One of the most popular recipes on my blog, I am so glad this was the first dish that made it to the meal box. If you were to make this dish from scratch, it will easily take 45 minutes to an hour. But now with the Feastively fresh meal box, all that you need to do is three easy steps and dinner ready in 15 minutes.

The whole spice infused caramelized onion and aromatic base is what takes the longest to cook in an Indian dish like this which has already been prepared for you. All that you need to do is cook the potatoes, peas and beef mince, add it to the mildly spiced sauce followed by yoghurt to get a delicious beef mince masala in no time at all. Serve it with a side of steamed rice for a hearty, flavoursome dinner. A glass of red would just make it perfect.

My Recipes as Fresh Meal Boxes – a Collaboration with Feastively; thespiceadventuress.com

It’s pretty simple to use Feastively. First, you opt for a meal plan based on the size of your family. And then add the recipes from the week’s list to your plan. The recipes are changed on a weekly basis so that there is something new to try and boredom doesn’t kick in from eating the same dishes. The dishes are also spread out across several different cuisines, all of which are Aussie family favourites.

The biggest advantage of using a fresh meal box service like Feastively is not just the amount of time you save but also the fact that it is way healthier than your local fast food or takeaway. There are no preservatives or additives, just fresh and seasonal ingredients prepped and put together for you to reduce cooking time.

While the Indian Kheema Masala is the first one to be launched, there are others being tested which will soon be introduced into the weekly menu. And if you have any dishes or recipes from the blog that you would like to see on Feastively, please do comment below and we will try our best to incorporate it.

So please do try it out and let me know your feedback; it would mean a lot to know what you think about the dish.

My Recipes as Fresh Meal Boxes – a Collaboration with Feastively; thespiceadventuress.com

 

Spanish style Sausage and Potato Bake

The almost ‘one tray’ bakes and roasts are fast becoming a favourite in our home.

While it’s warm, hearty and comforting during winter, it’s also very easy to put together. That’s why I have been trying a lot of these nowadays. Today’s dish is a sausage and potato bake but with Spanish flavours to add that extra oomph of flavour.

Spanish style Sausage and Potato Bake - thespiceadventuress.com

This is a very simple dish but a really flavourful one. So it’s important to get sausages that are of top notch quality. Don’t go for the generic supermarket ones, the kind you tend to buy for backyard barbecues. Instead go for the gourmet ones that are prepared from top quality mince and also seasoned well.

For this dish, I chose chorizo since it’s the best for a Spanish style bake.

Instead of a sauce, I went with a sautéed onion bell pepper mixture that was flavoured with paprika, garlic and turmeric as the accompaniment to the sausages and potatoes. Baking it all together in a pan not only makes it easy but increases the overall flavour of the dish.

Spanish style Sausage and Potato Bake - thespiceadventuress.com

This Spanish style sausage and potato bake can be had as a meal on its own but I added a side of saffron rice and paired it with a nice Tempranillo. Looks fancy but actually a really simple dish.

Ingredients:

  1. 6 chorizos
  2. 4-5 Kipfler potatoes; cut into wedges
  3. 2 red onion; finely sliced
  4. 2 red bell pepper; pith removed and finely sliced
  5. 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  6. 2 garlic cloves; finely sliced
  7. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  8. 2 ½ tsp smoked paprika
  9. 1 can diced tomatoes
  10. ½ cup kalamata olives
  11. Salt, to season
  12. 2 tbsp flat leaf parsley; finely chopped

Method:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 180°C
  2. Heat olive in a pan and add the onions. Sauté on high heat for 2 minutes and then add the garlic and bell peppers. Sauté for another 2-3 minutes or till the onions and peppers are softened.
  3. Add the turmeric powder and smoked paprika; mix well to combine.
  4. Then add the diced tomatoes and cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes. Season with salt and add the potatoes and sausages to the pan. Mix well to combine so that the sausages and potatoes are coated well with the onion pepper mixture.
  5. Transfer to a baking tray and arrange in such a way that the sausages and potatoes are on top for even cooking.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove to turn the sausages and continue to bake for another 20-25 minutes till the potatoes are roasted well.
  7. Remove and add the olives and parsley.
  8. Serve warm with saffron rice

Spanish style Sausage and Potato Bake - thespiceadventuress.com

Spanish style Sausage and Potato Bake - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

Banana Bread (with Vegemite and Almond Flakes)

Banana bread is one of the most forgiving recipes that I know, especially since I am a novice in the baking department.

It does not require the exacting measurements or baking knowledge that is required to bake most other desserts, cakes etc…. But having said that, there are good and bad banana breads.

Banana Bread (with Vegemite and Almond Flakes) - thespiceadventuress.com

If you do not like banana bread, then chances are you have had the not so desirable ones that are sold at most generic cafes. It was the same for all the three of us which put me off baking it for a very long time. But as I started seeing a lot of my friends and favourite bloggers sharing so many different styles of banana bread, I realised that there is more to this recipe.

So began the experiments trying out various recipes to get one that we enjoyed best. There was no dearth of over ripe bananas in the house. By weekend, there are always a couple that has begun to look way too brownish for my son to eat and the only way I used to finish it off was in smoothies and milkshakes.

And overripe bananas are exactly what you need for this bread.

Banana Bread (with Vegemite and Almond Flakes) - thespiceadventuress.com

Though named so, banana bread is a cross between bread and cake drawing inspiration from both baking techniques.

The decision to add vegemite was almost last minute. We are not big fans of vegemite but there is a small bottle in my pantry that I use occasionally to experiment and create recipes that incorporates the flavour and nutritional components of vegemite without being too obvious in the smell department. Just can’t stand that!

One good example of this would be the Vegemite roast chicken that’s quite popular in our home.

As I tasted the banana bread batter, I thought it could do with another ingredient to sort of intensify the flavours and suddenly vegemite came to mind. Added a little bit to the batter and I really liked the richer, almost caramel kind of flavour that I decided to go ahead with it. And boy, it did turn out delicious.

Banana Bread (with Vegemite and Almond Flakes) - thespiceadventuress.com

If you have vegemite at home, then by all means use it; I promise you won’t be disappointed. But if you don’t, then omit it and go ahead with the batter as such or you incorporate other flavours like chocolate syrup, chocolate chips, peanut butter etc….

Ingredients:

  1. 3 medium sized ripe bananas
  2. 2 tbsp whole milk
  3. 3 eggs (room temperature)
  4. 80 gms unsalted butter (melted)
  5. A pinch of salt
  6. 1 cup raw sugar
  7. 1 tbsp vegemite
  8. 2 cups plain flour
  9. 2 tsp baking powder
  10. Almond flakes

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan forced).
  2. Grease a loaf pan with butter or oil spray and then line with baking paper.
  3. In a large glass bowl, add the bananas and mash well with a fork. Then add the melted butter, sugar, milk, vegemite and eggs. Use a whisk or hand held beater to mix all the ingredients.
  4. In another bowl, sift the flour along with baking powder. Add a pinch of salt to this and mix.
  5. Add the flour to the banana mixture and fold in gently till all the whole batter gets combined well.
  6. Pour into the loaf pan and line the top with almond flakes.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes or till done (insert a skewer through the centre of the loaf; the skewer will come out clean if done).
  8. Cool before removing from the loaf pan.
  9. Slice and serve with butter.

Banana Bread (with Vegemite and Almond Flakes) - thespiceadventuress.com

Banana Bread (with Vegemite and Almond Flakes) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

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