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Tag Archives: Australia

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan (+ a recipe for Oysters roasted with Almonds and Butter)

Food, art, culture…intertwined in a way that is both enjoyable and informative. One of the best culinary themed books I have read in 2018.

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan explores the extraordinary lives of Mirka and Georges Mora, their invaluable contributions to the art and culinary scene of Melbourne.

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan (+ a recipe for Oysters roasted with Almonds and Butter) - thespiceadventuress.com

Lesley and Kendrah are senior curators at the Heide Museum of Modern Art (Heidelberg, Melbourne) who have previously co-authored the books, ‘Sunday’s Kitchen: Food & Living at Heide’, ‘Sunday’s Garden: Growing Heide’ and ‘Modern Love: The Lives of John and Sunday Reed’.

I have always been a fan of Heide Museum, visiting whenever time allowed me. It all started when I first took Adi for a holiday program at the museum but it would be fair to say that I fell in love with the space. It’s more than art at Heide; the beautiful expanse of greenery around, the vegetable gardens, the café serving absolutely vibrant delicious food, all of it inspires me to keep returning to the Museum.

The first time I came across the name, Mirka, was also at Heide. There was an exhibition featuring her art works and also copies of this book at the store inside the museum. But I initially dismissed it thinking the book is going to be all about art, not even paying attention to the word ‘culinary’ in the title. Little did I know that ‘A Culinary Affair’ is not just a glorious illustration of Mirka’s works and their life story but also contains lots of classic French recipes that are absolutely brilliant.

A beautiful sky blue hard bound book filled with the most beautiful drawings and illustrations, mostly by Mirka along with many personal photographs adorns the pages. The narrative begins with a brief introduction to Mirka’s childhood in France, growing up during the period of the Second World War, the perils and tragedies faced during the Holocaust, meeting Georges and finally moving to Melbourne in 1951.

‘Bohemian’ is perhaps the best word to describe Mirka’s and Georges’s way of life. Both of them led a very colourful, enterprising, creative, free-spirited lifestyle peppered with sophisticated food, sexual intrigue and artistic endeavours.

Their contributions to the culinary landscape of Melbourne are immense with the Mirka café, Balzac Restaurant and Tolarno French Bistro. The book tells us about their journey into opening each eatery, how it became the hub for rich and famous including the likes of Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, Ava Gardner, Gregory Peck etc…. to name a few.

Mirka and Georges also contributed immensely to the artistic scene of post war Melbourne. Their apartment was often the den for artists and artistic discussions. Today, the name Mora is much revered amongst the culinary and art circle of Melbourne and imprints of it can be seen at Heide Museum, MoMA etc…

The authors have done an excellent job in giving us a glimpse into the culturally rich and vibrant life of the Moras. For a relatively new migrant like me, the book is a peep into the stories of some of the people who have shaped Melbourne as we know today. And the Moras led such an exciting life than parts of it almost feels like fiction to me. I now understand that the post war Melbourne was anything but boring; it was grand, exciting and full of adventures. The only thing similarity that I can draw to the modern times is that this beautiful city that I now call home was welcoming to people from all walks of life from all over the world, just as it is today.

Coming to the recipes outlined in this book, I intend to try out each and every one. But the one that caught my attention was a recipe for Huitres Grillees Aux Amandes or Grilled Oysters with Almonds and Butter.

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan (+ a recipe for Oysters roasted with Almonds and Butter) - thespiceadventuress.com

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan (+ a recipe for Oysters roasted with Almonds and Butter) - thespiceadventuress.com

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan (+ a recipe for Oysters roasted with Almonds and Butter) - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 12 fresh oysters
  2. ¼ cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  3. ¼ cup almond meal (or ground almonds)
  4. 1 ½ tsp Grand Marnier (optional or replace with brandy as in original recipe)
  5. 1 small garlic clove; grated
  6. Cayenne pepper
  7. Lemon wedges, to serve

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan forced)
  2. Cream the butter and almond meal; grate in the garlic and add the Grand Marnier. Also add a pinch of cayenne pepper. Mix well to combine.
  3. Pour off the extra liquid from the oysters and cover each with a tsp of the almond mixture.
  4. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes.
  5. Serve immediately garnished with a pinch of cayenne pepper

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan (+ a recipe for Oysters roasted with Almonds and Butter)

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan (+ a recipe for Oysters roasted with Almonds and Butter) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

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October Favourites + a Review of Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery

Just two more months to bid goodbye to this year!!!

Where has time flown? But then that’s how I start every monthly favourite post of mine, isn’t it?

But sometimes it’s scary right when time rushes by so fast that you wish you had the power to hold it in your hands and keep it still…..shhh, just stay still till I have caught my breath.

Alas that never happens, and the only option seems to be to flow along with its tide….

At the same time, there is also the excitement and joy of the approaching festive season. While there is so much work to do during this time, both personal and professional, I love the energy, the joyous and festive spirit that’s in the air.

On the professional front, I am planning recipes more suited for the season so if any of you have special requests, do comment below and I will try my best to take that into consideration.

Reading is a very passionate hobby of mine, especially hard copies. I do not like digital books or tools for reading as I think it destroys the very joy of holding a book in your hands. While I do read a lot of books, I do not talk much about it on the blog except when it’s a book related to food.

This month, I got the opportunity to read Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery – a Guide to the truly good restaurants and food experiences of Australia, Edited by Jill Dupleix.

Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery - a Book Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The book is part of a series of the world’s first guides to restaurants and establishments serving truly exceptional, sustainable, organic and ethical food.

Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery has a simple yet elegant design and layout; the photographs are outstanding yet simple and real focusing on the food and nothing else. Published by Blackwell &Ruth, 5% of the publisher’s revenue from the sales of the book goes towards the National Indigenous Culinary Institute (NICI) which is absolutely fantastic.

Food guides like these have always been a part of my library and I actively seek out restaurants suggested – local, regional and international. The restaurants suggested in this book are not just about delicious food; that’s definitely a criteria but it’s more about the care and passion that goes into the sourcing of the ingredients, giving back to the farming community, the attention to detail while each ingredient is prepped and prepared to create the final harmony on a plate.

One of the first things I did on getting the book was going through the ‘Victoria’ section; a curiosity to know the recommendations and how many places I had dined at. To my surprise, there were just 2 restaurants that I had been to from the list – Higher Ground and IDES. Both of these serve exemplary food; while the former is a casual café style setting, the latter is a high end fine dining affair. But yes, the food was exceptional.

Barramundi with garlic and red wine - at IDES, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

One of the spectacular dishes I had at IDES, Melbourne – Barramundi, red wine and garlic

I know for a fact that I will use Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery as a guide, ticking off restaurants and food experiences as I travel along through this country. And I would love to get my hands on the rest of the series that showcases establishments in other countries too. But if you are only interested in knowing about the place you live in, do grab a copy for your country from the series.

Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery is not a book that I will read back to back in a few sittings; it’s a guide that I will keep returning to whenever I want suggestions of an exemplary restaurant, a place where I want to dine at not just for delicious food but where I will be served a dish created out of passion, joy and purity.

There is an exciting giveaway happening on my FB and Insta page. You can win 1 x double pass (valued at $160) to Wine & Symphony 2018, Saturday 3rd November, held at Mount Langi Ghiran.

Spend a beautiful spring afternoon in the spectacular grounds of Mt Langi Ghiran winery in the Grampians. Also treat yourself to wine tastings, a cheese feast, vineyard promenade and sun basking followed by 40 minutes of classical music performance by 4 ace musicians, with a glass of the renowned Langi Shiraz in your hand.

So why are you waiting….head over now to my FB or Insta page to enter. Good Luck!

Wine & Symphony 2018, Saturday 3rd November, held at Mount Langi Ghiran. - thespiceadventuress.com

Now it’s time for all the other favourites for the month;

I had the worst attack of flu and sinusitis this month; this tea was an absolute miracle.

One of my favourite vegetarian snacks using spinach.

I wouldn’t be able to stop at just one bowl of this soup

Absolutely love pumpkin soup; and this one is fantastic.

Another exciting vegetarian recipe; absolutely fingerlickin good!

Lentil and Egg Stew; I have never had anything like this before.

Absolutely stunning food photography!

She inspired me to start a monthly favourites column

How beautiful are these candle holders? Would be perfect for my Christmas table set up.

Need to upgrade my summer wedges

 

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

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

Turning Point (Ripponlea, Melbourne)

Another example of a top notch Melbourne café situated in the beautiful suburb of Ripponlea.

Tucked away on a side street yet located in the heart of the suburb, right next to the railway station, Turning Point is a great place to hang out with friends and family.

Subscribing perfectly to the word ‘Modern Australian’ is both the ambience and menu. There is a large seating area inside and a small outdoor space too for the sunnier days. The décor is bright and cheerful with contemporary touches.

Turning Point (Ripponlea, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The menu, as I mentioned is Modern Australian; all the classics but plenty of twists and fusions accommodating all kinds of foodies. Also it is divided into two, as the café is open for dinner also from Thursday to Sunday. The drinks menu is also extensive during the dinner timings.

We visited the café for brunch, a good time to enjoy both the breakfast and lunch dishes.

For drinks, I chose a glass of Lambrook Rosè (Adelaide Hills) while the hubby chose the ‘Citrus Squeeze’ cold pressed juice spiked with gin. A very interesting drink which had the goodness of orange, carrot, grapefruit, lemon and mint; the gin took it to another level creating a rather refreshing cocktail of sorts.

Turning Point (Ripponlea, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Turning Point (Ripponlea, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The little fellow opted for the eggs and bacon on toast, but we also added a side of chorizo. (The photograph was taken before the bacon arrived). A classic that ticks all the right boxes. There are plenty of options to customize this and make it simple or as gourmet as you wish to.

Turning Point (Ripponlea, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

I chose one of the café specials, Three Point Turn – poached eggs, bacon, house made beans, mushroom, wilted spinach, potato rosti, roasted tomato and relish. Served with toast but I omitted it. Now this is what I call a gourmet breakfast. Absolutely delicious and so full of flavour; especially loved the beans and rosti. Highly recommended!

Turning Point (Ripponlea, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The hubby likes his protein fix so he opted for the Flank Steak – overnight marinated and grilled steak with caper and smoked paprika butter, jumbo tempura onion rings, a fried egg and thick cut fries. Now this one is for the big eater; generous portions with each component done to perfection. Just the kind of brunch for weekends.

Turning Point (Ripponlea, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

To summarize, the Turning Point is an amazing café to hang out for coffee, drinks or a delicious meal. Definitely going back soon.

Turning Point

8 – 10 Glen Eira Ave
Ripponlea, 3185

Phone no: (03) 9528 2719
Website: https://www.turningpointripponlea.com/

Timings:

Monday – Wednesday: 7am – 4pm
Thursday – Friday: 7am – 9pm
Saturday – Sunday: 8am – 9pm

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

Turning Point Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience

Grossi Florentino, the restaurant, needs very little introduction and Guy Grossi, the Chef, needs no introduction at all.

Situated on the iconic Bourke Street, Grossi Florentino is the brainchild of Guy Grossi, a much celebrated Chef both at home and internationally. His cuisine and restaurants are inspired by his Italian heritage. Grossi Florentino has three different areas to dine in – Cellar Door, Grill and Florentino; all three integrated by Italian food and hospitality yet all three exploring the varied nuances of the cuisine.

This was our first experience at Grossi, and we had chosen to dine at Grill as a special birthday dinner.

Reservations are always necessary, especially for dinner as it’s a small space and it is definitely not a place to stop by for a quick dinner. Grill is open for lunch too, and offers a set menu; a more affordable quick option for the office goers or those catching up in the CBD for a quick lunch.

An open kitchen, dark wood paneling with gold accents, leather seating, Grill has a very relaxed yet sophisticated ambience. It’s an eclectic mix of tradition meets modern which reflects on the menu too.

The wine list at Grill is extensive, so unless you are sure of what you like to drink, asking recommendations is a great idea. The staff are extremely cordial and take care of your needs really well.

We decided to start with a glass of Domaine Simha ‘Simla Field Blend’ 2016 , a Riesling blend from Derwent Valley, Tasmania. I have wanted to try out the Domaine Simha wines for a while now, especially having written this article on Indian origin wine makers in Australia for Indian Link. Very refreshing on the palate and beautifully balanced, I would strongly recommend you to try this one out.

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

We began the meal with a plate of freshly shucked oysters with Chardonnay Vinegar followed by Kingfish Crudo, Capers, Horseradish. Both were excellent especially the kingfish, really fresh and beautiful light flavours to start off the meal.

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

The next two dishes we tried from the Antipasti section was the Zucchini flowers, Ricotta, Eggplant Caponata and Pickled Tongue, Salsa Verde, Radish. The stuffed zucchini flowers with ricotta is an Italian classic, one that we love ordering always. The crunchy deep fried zucchini flowers with a creamy ricotta filling is a match made in heaven; the addition of the caponata was new for me, but paired well.

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

Sam was a bit hesitant ordering the pickled tongue; it was the first time we were going to taste it but the staff assured it was gonna be delicious. And we were so happy we did, because for me, it was dish of the day. Perfectly chargrilled cubes of beef tongue with onions, radish and a delicious Salsa Verde to accompany, it was really amazing and highly recommended.

For the sides, we chose Italian Flat Beans with Tomato; delicious and different to the regular salads and potato wedges. And it paired well with the mains we had chosen.

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

For mains, my son chose an entrée sized portion of Taglierini, Prawns, Zucchini. The best out of the three mains we had, the pasta was perfect al dente tossed through the most flavourful combination of prawns, zucchini and herbs. Definitely a must try.

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

We went for a second glass of wine, this time a glass of Montesecondo Sangiovese, 2014 from the Tuscan region. Full bodied and rich, yet balanced, this was recommended by the staff and it was a great choice indeed.

I chose the day’s special which was a whole baby snapper with radicchio and tomatoes. The fish was cooked to perfection but somehow the combination with radicchio didn’t really work for me. Perhaps I didn’t enjoy the combination of the bitterness from the radicchio with the tomatoes, not really sure but definitely not impressed with the flavours.

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

For mains, Sam chose the O’Connor, Flat Iron,  Angus which was served with horseradish and Dijon mustard. The meat was definitely flavourful but not as tender as he had hoped it to be. Not a letdown, but not to the expected standards of the place.

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

And since we had clearly overeaten, we decided to share one dessert amongst us so we went for the Beurre Bosc Pear, Honey Crunch Ice Cream. It was light and delicious, a great way to end the meal. But not before some coffee and Italian biscotti.

11

To summarize, the mains didn’t excite us as much as the antipasti but there were clearly many dishes that stood out in taste and quality from the night. Service is excellent and definitely a place we would love to go back.

Grossi Florentino (Grill)

80 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone. 03 9662 1811

http://www.florentino.com.au/grill

Timings:

Monday to Saturday
Lunch from 12pm
Dinner from 5.30pm

Grossi Florentino Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia)

We have a tradition that we follow for Adi’s birthday; it began 2 years back when he turned 7. We decided that instead of having a regular birthday party every year, we would try and do an activity/experience/travel etc…. something off our bucket list every alternate year.

So it all began with a helicopter ride for his 7th birthday, which I have written about here. And before we knew two years had passed by and this year, we decided to treat him to a hot air balloon ride!

There are quite a few Australian travel and tourism accounts that I follow on Instagram, and that’s how the idea of a hot air balloon ride took shape. I would often see breathtaking images of the balloons on these accounts, both floating around the cityscape and also the picturesque Yarra Valley so it was not long before we decided that this was the experience we wanted to enjoy as a family on his big day.

We didn’t have to spend much time researching the company we wanted to book the flight with. Safety was paramount, especially in the wake of the recent tragic balloon accident. So there was to be no shopping around or compromise. And hence ‘Global Ballooning Australia’.

Apart from being endorsed by the State tourism board, a quick look at their website is enough to understand why we went along with Global Ballooning. Safety and experience – that’s what you must look for and the company offers just that. Instead of me rambling on about their safety standards and experience, here is a link that you must check out if you are planning on a hot air balloon ride.

Global Ballooning offers rides in both Melbourne CBD and Yarra Valley. We chose to go with Yarra Valley, because we had already done the helicopter ride in the CBD and wanted a different view to experience. And Yarra is one of our favourite weekend destinations with its picturesque valleys and wineries, so we knew it was bound to be a breathtaking experience.

There are different packages to choose from and we chose the one with the ride and a champagne breakfast afterwards at Balgownie Estate. There are both private and public rides; ours was a public one which means we ride along with other passengers.

It’s always an early start in the morning, at least 2 hours before sunrise when you go hot air ballooning. And the real reason for that is not just to watch the sunrise but the air conditions are best at this time. Instead of driving from home at such an early hour, we decided to stay over at the Yarra Valley Grand Hotel, a vintage stay in the heart of Yarra. A budget friendly stay yet an amazing hotel with so much history and character.

After assembling at the Balgownie Estate, we were briefed by the staff about how we will go about the whole ride, a few safety instructions and other important information about ballooning in general. Then we boarded a vehicle that would take us to the property where we would be assembling the balloon and taking off. This can vary depending on the direction of the wind and where the pilot deems it best to take off.

A five minute drive after which we got to the property and before we began assembling, we were all briefed about the safety instructions. We then got to meet our pilot for the ride, who once again took us through safety procedures and instructions. And then we began to assemble….

I think the rest of our experience is best explained through photographs…..

The setting up process:

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Photograph Courtesy – Global Ballooning Australia

Up in the air we go….. (The next two photographs were taken by the camera that was attached to the balloon and can be bought from the company for a nominal fee).

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Courtesy – Global Ballooning Australia

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Courtesy – Global Ballooning Australia

The magic of a sunrise….

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia)

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia)

Breathtaking views all around!

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Yering Station

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Our pilot Bryan…..so witty and charming!

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia)

Time to land….

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Packing away the balloon!

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Courtesy – Global Ballooning Australia

One last click before we say goodbye!

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Courtesy – Global Ballooning Australia

Off to Balgownie Estate for an amazing breakfast (we were ravenous!)…

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

And before we leave, a bit of wine tasting at the Cellar Door…

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools)

You guys know how much I love growing herbs at home and so I have always fancied having a proper wooden herb garden, especially when I scroll through the stunning Pinterest images.

A lot of them would be DIY projects but I never considered that option as it seemed almost impossible to build a wooden structure from scratch. I did extensive online searching to find models that are feasible in my rented home but a solid wooden one (at least the kind I had in mind) was always on the expensive side.

So the idea remained a dream of mine, until recently.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

DIY Herb Garden - thespiceadventuress.com

As many of you already know, my parents were here visiting us for a few months late last year. Now my mom is a DIY queen and a very avid gardener too. So one day, while we were on the topic of gardening, I mentioned my desire to have a wooden herb unit, one that is practically designed yet big enough to grow many herbs at a time in small batches.

I showed her some of the designs I had in mind and she casually mentioned that it was nothing complex and quite achievable especially here, as all kinds of tools and resources are available for DIY purposes. In fact, of all the shops she visited, my mum fell in love with Bunnings!

Around this time, I got to learn more about Ryobi tools at a blogger’s event where I got an opportunity to handle their power tools and make a wooden serving platter. Even though that was a teeny weeny project that I got to do with the Ryobi experts beside me, it still gave a vague sense of ‘I think I can do it if I make an effort’, especially after those power tools made it feel real easy. An electric drill suddenly didn’t seem to be a daunting affair!

But with the excitement, came the apprehension too. What if I can’t do it? A long discussion with Sam and that inner voice telling me to try my hand at something new gave me the much needed confidence to say yes to this DIY project using the power tools supplied by Ryobi.

So without further ado, let’s jump straight in to the details of how I went about creating this beautiful wooden herb garden. And let me also inform you that this post is going to be a picture heavy one.

(I know the photographs might make you think that Sam did all the work but trust me, I did lots more than just take photographs!)

Step 1:

The right design:

Now this is a very crucial step and one you must spend considerable time on. I was looking for a design that is easy to put together yet one that is aesthetic and long term. I also wanted a structure that is portable as we are still renting and also one that can sit well in a small backyard space when we eventually get our first home.

After browsing through hundreds of images and online tutorials, I decided on this design from Garden Answer that was a perfect fit with my expectations. And their online tutorials were a great help to get a jist of how to go about the entire project.

Step 2:

The right tools:

This is where the Ryobi expertise came handy. While I was supplied the tools, you can easily purchase all Ryobi power tools at Bunnings. The tools are quite versatile which means they always come in handy for future uses too and not just for a specific project. Apart from the instruction manual, there are also online tutorials on how to use all the Ryobi tools on Ryobi TV which is so useful and handy if you are a beginner. The tools I used for this project were;

Circular Saw (1500W 184MM) (MODEL: #RCS1500-G | BUNNINGS I/N: 13549)

This mean rugged beast of a saw is surprisingly compact, not so heavy and quite easy to use. (And anyone who has seen me in real life would understand why lightweight is rather important for me). With great precision and power, this was absolutely necessary to cut out the wooden boards to the exact sizes and measurements. I was especially pleased with its comfortable grip which gave me total control to do the job.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Random Orbital Sander (18V ONE+ 125 MM) (MODEL: #R18ROS-0 | BUNNINGS I/N: 6210660)

Well, the job that took me the longest time was sanding. Thank God for power tools like these because I simply cannot imagine doing the job otherwise. The orbital sander was really easy to use and with upto 80% dust pickup efficiency, I didn’t have much cleaning up to do afterwards.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

18 V ONE+ Drill Driver Kit (MODEL: #R18DD-C155S | BUNNINGS I/N: 6210757)

A great drill driver combination kit for any project! Easy to use, convenient and versatile, this combo kit includes;

  • 1 x 18V drill driver (RCD1802)
  • 1 x 1.5Ah lithium ion battery (RB18L15)
  • 1 x 5.0Ah lithium ion battery (RB18L50)
  • 1 x fast charger (RC18120)

The high capacity 5.0Ah battery was a boon as I could get a lot of work done between charges. The compact design makes it very easy to use and it also has other features like variable speed control. Built-in LED work light and also a MagTray (which really helps keep those screws in one place).

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Once I started using the tools, I realised that Ryobi products were not only affordable but also innovative with practical, intelligent features that makes it sought after by both novices and professionals alike.

Step 3:

Shopping for materials:

Thank God for Bunnings! Without the help of the amazing staff there, I could have landed in a bit of soup. From helping me pick out the right kind of wood to all the other supplies that I needed, they have been extremely helpful with their time and expertise.

While purchasing supplies, I would like to stress about the importance of investing in good quality safety materials like protective gloves, goggles, dust masks, overalls etc… Remember guys, safety comes first. Always!

Step 4:

Cutting and sawing:

I used treated pine for making this herb garden, all of which were purchased at Bunnings. So using the circular saw, all the wooden planks were cut into the desired sizes and measurements. I had to make adjustments to the measurements provided by Garden Answer to suit my needs and requirements.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Step 5:

Sanding:

As I already mentioned, the orbital sander was an extremely helpful tool as it required much lesser effort to other traditional methods. All the planks I used were sanded to perfection before being assembled.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Step 6:

Assembling:

Using the drill set, I assembled the structure beginning at the base and then moving on to the backside, the sides and finally the front portion (as depicted in the pictures below).

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Step 7:

Staining and Plastic Covering:

Since I wanted the unit to match the deck area, I decided to use a wood stain in walnut shade followed by clear varnish. And finally, a layer of black plastic sheet was attached to the insides of the unit so that the soil does not come into direct contact with the wood thus prolonging the life of the wooden herb garden.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Step 8:

Planting:

I filled the unit with a specialized vegetable herb potting mix and then it was time to plant the herbs. I bought a few new ones and re-planted some of the existing ones from pots. I intend to plant more herbs eventually but just to get started; I planted the curry leaves, chillies, coriander, parsley, sage, chives, mint, rosemary, spring onion and thyme.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Sheer Joy!

That’s the only way I can describe what I felt at the end of it. Something made by my own hands come to life….the sense of happiness is incomparable. And I am so encouraged by how easy it actually was albeit my apprehensions using the Ryobi power tools.

I can guarantee loads more DIY projects in the future.

Hope this post has inspired you to try out some DIY projects of your own and do not forget to tag #thespiceadventuress so that I can see it too.

And finally leaving you with my Top 5 Recipes using Herbs!

Disclaimer – This post was brought to you in collaboration with Ryobi Tools. As mentioned, I was supplied with all the tools required for this project. The story, musings and all the hard work is entirely mine!

 

January Favourites + a Giveaway (Silvers Circus, Melbourne)

Fabulous 2018 folks!

Hope all of you are having a great start to the year. I have, for sure, begun the year with much positivity, happiness and enthusiasm for work, family, friends…..everything about my life.

While I do not set resolutions, I do set a lot of goals at regular intervals throughout the year. And one of my major goals for this year is ‘balance’.

As work progresses and so does my family and social commitments, I realize that I can stay on top of my game only if there is a balance between all these parts of my life. When you have a business of your own, it’s very easy to spill over work into family time and vice versa. So that’s where I am going to strive and strike balance. Better management and clear cut division of time so that my family does not feel I am working all the time.

Have you set any goals for yourself this year?

Speaking of family time, I am so excited to take Adi to his first ever circus show – Silvers Circus, touring Melbourne currently.

Circus was a big thing in my childhood. We hardly had choices like today when it came to kids entertainment so going to the annual circus show in town was a huge thing. And most often, we would be taken from school like a picnic and I would get pocket money from my parents to buy cotton candy or some popcorn – and oh my, that was a big treat.

Surprisingly, Adi has never been to a circus and when Silvers Circus got in touch, I was so excited. I know we are going to have a fabulous time for sure.

Owned by Swiss born Anna & Anton Gasser, Silvers Circus began its journey 40 years ago and has evolved into one of the Top 10 circuses of the world. Stunning artists, Las Vegas style illusions, innovative stunts, humor, modern production techniques and much more, the Silvers Circus is a captivating experience for the young and old alike.

January Favourites + a Giveaway (Silvers Circus, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

January Favourites + a Giveaway (Silvers Circus, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

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Silvers is currently touring Melbourne with shows at two locations, Mornington Peninsula (ended) and Dingley (January 31st to February 25th) with multiple show timings.

And they have been extremely kind to sponsor a giveaway i.e. one family ticket (2 adults + 2 children) for three different families to any show of their choice. Isn’t that awesome?

(This giveaway has now ended, and the winners have been notified by email)

So some rules;

  1. Subscribe to my blog using your email address (you can find the subscribe button at the top right hand side of the blog)
  2. Leave a comment below about what’s your most memorable experience visiting a circus.

Unfortunately, this one’s only for the Melbourne subscribers. Giveaway ends February 4th midnight and winners will be picked through a random draw and notified through email and on my social media channels.

Let’s hop on to top picks for the month of January;

This traditional South Indian dry chutney is super delicious and healthy.

5 easy steak marinades – and I love each one of it.

Indian style Nachos; yeah bring it on!

Baked but super crispy chicken wings; you definitely need this recipe in your life.

More fried chicken!

The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is back on. Lots of interesting stuff and tickets are selling like hot cakes.

Do you have only one child? Why aren’t you having more? Won’t your child feel lonely? I am so tired of these questions. This article makes perfect sense and our reason is the second one ‘trust your gut’.

 

November Favourites (and a Spice Tailor Street Food Kit Giveaway)

What a fabulous month it has been!

It’s been crazy hectic as my parents were leaving back to India which meant a lot of travelling amidst other things. And that’s why you have not seen me here for quite a while now.

Since I have not been working much the whole of last month, everything has piled up on the work front, so pardon me if I am going to bombard your inbox with posts on most days. There are lots of recipes, brand collaborations, product reviews etc…. in the pipeline and I assure that you guys are going to enjoy it all.

Let’s start this month’s favourites with a giveaway (which I know is exciting for all of you!)

Spice Tailor recently launched their Street Food Kits, which are a take on the famous kathi rolls that are a street food delight across the length and breadth of India.

The kathi rolls (originally invented in Kolkata/Calcutta) became an instant hit across the country as it was delicious and so easy to customize it for each one’s liking. Basically, it’s like a wrap that is filled with all sorts of deliciousness and can be either vegetarian or non vegetarian.

The Spice Tailor kits come in three different flavours – Tangy Punjabi, Classic Tandoori and Spicy Chettinad. I tried out the Tangy Punjabi and Spicy Chettinad…..and it was difficult to pick out a favourite. Each kit comes with six whole meal wraps, a stir fry sauce or marinade to cook the protein, chutney and a spice blend.

For the vegetarian version, I used paneer (Indian cottage cheese) with the Tangy Punjabi kit and for the nonvegetarian version, I used chicken with the Spicy Chettinad kit. Super easy to make and on the table in 15 minutes, these kits were a lifesaver while we were travelling. The flavours were distinctly Indian which was great when travelling with parents who are not too experimentative with all cuisines. And kits like these are way cheaper when travelling as it greatly reduces the need to eat out at restaurants.

Spice Tailor Street Food Kit - thespiceadventuress.com

(A little disclaimer though….. I do not endorse any sort of meal kits as an alternative to everyday home cooking using fresh, in season produce. These are meant to be a help during those crazy busy days, when your health is not the best or while you are travelling).

Now, let’s get onto the giveaway part! I know we are all super busy this season so this giveaway is the perfect one for you during the holiday/travelling season. The Spice Tailor has kindly agreed to give away 14 meal kits to 2 lucky subscribers (i.e. 7 kits each per winner). Isn’t that really generous?

To enter the giveaway;

  1. Subscribe to my blog using your email id.
  2. Comment below what protein/vegetable will you use for this meal kit

Competition open only to Australia residents (It’s Christmas guys, so if you live overseas, you can enter it on behalf of any of your friends/family living in Australia).

The last day for entry is 8th December, 2017 and the winners will be notified through my social media channels and private message on 9th December, 2017. So make sure you are following my social media handles if you aren’t already.

Getting on to the other favourites from last month:

Gratitude! That’s my word for this month of joy, sharing and thanksgiving.

People who are always late are more successful! Now I have the perfect excuse too….

Lusting after this bar cart from Pottery Barn.

I am obsessed over DIY table settings for any kind of party. Do check out my Pinterest page for loads of inspiration.

My favourite store to shop for Christmas decorations.

The Negroni has become so popular during the summer months, so it’s time we had an Aussie version.

I thought I had tried out all sorts of hummus recipes by now. Apparently I was wrong.

These potato skin egg boats would be perfect for entertaining.

Isn’t this the most gorgeous nachos in town?

Shireen’s Mangalorean plated series are back, and it’s as delicious as ever.

Edible gifts for Christmas are a great idea. How about these delicious simple syrups?

Totally digging this Microwave Chocolate Mug Cake for easy entertaining.

A ‘white’ hot chocolate! Isn’t this gorgeous?

 

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