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Tag Archives: melbourne food blogger

Frankie’s Top Shop (St Kilda, Melbourne) – a Review

Another delicious addition to Melbourne’s café culture!

Frankie's Topshop (Melbourne), a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

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Located inside a beautiful historic building (a former neighbourhood milk bar) in Cowderoy Street, St Kilda West, Frankie’s Top Shop is Michele Curtis’s first solo venture.

Michele needs no introduction to the food lovers, a professional chef and award winning food writer with publications like ‘The Foodies Diary’, ‘In The Kitchen’ and ‘What’s for Dinner’ to her credit. Her vision for Frankie’s was simple – a local food store, milk bar, café, all under one roof.

Michele Curtis, Frankie's Topshop (Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

With the focus on fresh, seasonal and local produce, Frankie’s menu has a range of salad options and healthy sweet treats. But you will also find all your café favourites, done really well. Michele believes that healthy does not mean boring which is why you will find the bacon sitting very comfortably next to the green goodness bowl!

Frankie's Topshop - thespiceadventuress.com

I love trying out new cafes especially for brunch with my girlfriends catching up over the mundane, so there was no way I was going to turn down an invite to sample Frankie’s menu.

So I visited Frankie’s on a beautiful sunny day with my new GF. We decided to sit outdoors because the weather was just perfect. And with the neighbourhood slowly passing by, doggies and pups all around us, it was the perfect slow life.

While my friend started off with lemonade, I decided to try out the fresh juices. So it was the carrot orange concoction for me and it was just amazing. Light, refreshing, healthy and delicious!

Carrot orange fresh juice - Frankie's Topshop - thespiceadventuress.com

Frankie’s also has a range of milkshakes, smoothies, coffees, teas and kombucha; so take your pick. If you love smoothies, then the Frankie’s delight with blueberries, almond milk and banana comes highly recommended.

Frankie’s delight smoothie - Frankie's Topshop - thespiceadventuress.com

Eggs are an important part of any café menu which is why I decided to try out the Folded eggs with mushrooms, parmesan, herbs, spring onions and super greens, served with sourdough toast. Simple food done well with absolutely fresh ingredients.

Folded eggs with mushrooms, parmesan, herbs, spring onions and super greens - Frankie's Topshop - thespiceadventuress.com

My friend couldn’t go past the pie so she had the Frankie’s lamb pie with red pepper relish and a couscous, roast vegetables, chickpea salad. The fact that she polished off her plate in 5 minutes is enough testimony to the food.

Frankie’s lamb pie with red pepper relish and a couscous, roast vegetables, chickpea salad - Frankie's Topshop - thespiceadventuress.com

As I already mentioned, the salads are really interesting at Frankie’s. Don’t just stick to the menu because they do have daily specials so just ask the staff or take a look at the refrigerator inside the café. You can also create your own salad bowl by mixing two to three salads depending on the flavours available. Like this green bowl which features both the quinoa salad and the green salad. So yumm!

Green Salad Bowl - Frankie's Topshop - thespiceadventuress.com

If I had taken my son along, then pancakes would definitely be something we would be ordering like these delicious buttermilk pancakes with fresh figs, vanilla labne and smoked maple syrup.

buttermilk pancakes with fresh figs, vanilla labne and smoked maple syrup - Frankie's Topshop - thespiceadventuress.com

And for those with a sweet tooth, Frankie’s won’t disappoint. There is a range of sweet treats, cookies, muffins etc….that are made daily and available for purchase like this chocolicious brownie and the very pretty Persian cake.

Choco brownies - Frankie's Topshop - thespiceadventuress.com

Persian cake - Frankie's Topshop - thespiceadventuress.com

Frankie’s Topshop also stocks products like pasta sauces, chutneys, jams etc….which are made in house. You can also find a wide range of artisan food products made locally and some wonderful foodie gifts and cookbooks too.

Frankie's Topshop - thespiceadventuress.com

Frankie's Topshop - thespiceadventuress.com

Overall, a great place to work from, catch up with friends or a delicious brunch with family. Or perhaps you can grab a takeaway before heading to the beach. Frankie’s has something for everyone.

Frankie’s Topshop

20 Cowderoy Street
St Kilda West

Phone no: 03 95254971

Website: http://www.frankiestopshop.com.au/

Frankies Top Shop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Transport Public Bar, Melbourne CBD – a Review

Lunch dates with girlfriends is such an awesome thing; infact it must be made legit and compulsory. That few precious hours snatched away from the daily grind and routine is such a relaxing experience for me.

I am lucky to have a few but a solid bunch of girlfriends here in Melbourne with whom I meet at varying frequencies. And we always try and meet up for lunch at restaurants in and around the city which also gives us an opportunity to try out a new place each time. So this time, we headed to the Transport Public Bar in the CBD.

The Transport Public Bar is one that needs no introduction, especially given its location. Though many of us might not have walked into the space, almost all of us would have seen it at some point or even everyday. If location is anything, this place has picked out the most coveted spot; right opposite Flinders station and bang in the middle of Federation Square.

Overlooking the city, Transport bar has an amazing view on offer. Whether you pick your spot outside or inside, it’s a space that you can both relax and soak in the city atmosphere at the same time. We chose indoors as it was slightly chilly. And being a working weekday, there weren’t too many customers which suits just fine when you are catching up with your girl tribe.

For drinks, we decided to go with cocktails as the menu had a few interesting ones. Both the drinks and food menu changes often which is great as this is a space that attracts a lot of regulars.

I chose the Lemongrass and ginger daiquiri, specifically because of those two ingredients. The flavours were distinctly refreshing and even though I expected it to taste summery, it actually reminded me of autumn…

Lemongrass and ginger daiquiri - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) - thespiceadventuress.com

The second cocktail chosen by one of the girls was the Pom Plum Rum (I hope I have got this right), a delicious concoction of rum, cherry and other ingredients. Apologize that I forgot the exact combination; we were having too much fun to get into the details but nevertheless it was delicious and perfect for autumn.

Pom Plum Rum - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) - thespiceadventuress.com

And the third drink we ordered for the day was the Somersby apple cider…..which really needs no introduction at all.

Somersby apple cider - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) - thespiceadventuress.com

The food at Transport Bar is relaxed and casual; no fancy stuff but crowd favourites created in the most delicious way.  Easy to share food with good quantities is another highlight which works perfect when you are catching up with friends or stopping by for an after work drink or a bunch of tourists.

We ordered three dishes which we shared amongst ourselves and these were;

The Baja fish tacos with coleslaw, lime and coriander – a Mexican delight that just can’t go wrong. Succulent pieces of fish encased in soft tortillas and finished off with coleslaw, salsa, lime, coriander and a dash of sour cream. Absolutely delicious and fingerlickin good.

Baja fish tacos with coleslaw, lime and coriander - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) - thespiceadventuress.com

Simple couldn’t go past the Mexican street corn with cheese and Tabasco butter – how can you not love corn on the cob with grilled cheese and that splash of Tabasco to spice it up. Highly recommended especially if you are a corn lover!

Mexican street corn with cheese and Tabasco butter - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) - thespiceadventuress.com

And the final dish was the day’s special – buffalo chicken wings. Yet another classic that was done to perfection. The chicken cooked perfectly and tossed through a delicious buffalo sauce that had just the right kick of heat. Yet another fingerlickin one.

buffalo chicken wings - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) - thespiceadventuress.com

Thoroughly fed and satiated, we said no to dessert this time. Maybe another lunch date to try out the desserts. I am sure we are going back…..

To summarize, a great place to hang out with friends and family. Do make it a point to take out a bit of time from all the stuff you need to get done and catch up with that someone special; small priceless moments of happiness.

Transport Public Bar

Federation Square, Corner
Swanston Street and Flinders Street
Melbourne CBD
Victoria

Phone no: 03 9654 8808
http://transportpublicbar.com.au/

Timings:
All days – 11.00am to 3.00am

 

Transport Public Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

 

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review

If you have read my review on Al Rahimi Restaurant in Dandenong, then you will know how much I love the cuisine of Afghanistan. And living just 5 minutes away from Lonsdale Street, it was high time I had a review of Pamir up on the blog.

Dandenong is quite an interesting suburb in terms of culture and food. It’s diverse and colourful; we truly practice ‘live and let live’ down here. Afghan food has a huge presence here, with plenty of restaurants and takeaways lining the Afghan precinct and also on Lonsdale Street.

Owned by the husband and wife team, Uzbekistani Chef Alisher Azizullaev and Shahini Ahad, Pamir is situated on the busy and vibrant Lonsdale Street. The exterior is rather unassuming, a small door which leads to a flight of stairs. The restaurant is situated on the second floor and if you are not familiar with traditional Afghan décor, you will be surprised by the ornate interiors and rich, dark woodwork. On the walls, you will find plenty of references to Afghanistan like pictures, maps, traditional outfits etc….

Pamir has a very warm and comforting ambience. There is plenty of seating space so bookings are only essential on weekends but you are likely to find a place even without one. But do make a call beforehand as the restaurant is often booked out for events and social gatherings.

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Within seconds, we were greeted by the hostess and seated at a comfortable table. Pamir does not have a bar but its BYO so remember that when you visit. The food mainly revolves around traditional Afghan and Uzbek cuisine. The menu is pretty self explanatory but if you do need suggestions or help to understand the flavours of a dish, the staff is always there to help you out.

If you are eating at Pamir for the first time or want to experience many dishes from the cuisine, then the banquets are the best choice. There are different types depending on the number of courses and also a vegetarian version. Since we were familiar with the dishes and have had the food before, we decided to go a la carte for the day.

The first to arrive at the table are the dips (also referred to as chatnis) followed by the salad and flatbreads. Three different types of dips or chatnis are served and these are the minty cucumber yoghurt dip, tomato chilli chatni and the carrot dip. The salad is a simple one with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions and leaves drizzled with vinaigrette. And the flatbreads, one of the best I have had; soft and pillowy and perfect to scoop the chatnis.

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Fresh Green Salad at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Freshly baked Afghan flatbreads at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The next dish we ordered was the Chapli Kebab which is basically grilled lamb mince patties flavoured with coriander seeds, chilli, herbs and onion. Chapli Kebabs are quite famous in northern India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Chapli kebabs at Pamir were just perfect, so full of flavour especially that hit of coriander which warms your tastebuds yet allows you to taste the meat. The kebabs were tender with the mince cooked just perfectly. Highly suggested!

Chapli Kebabs at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

There was no way we weren’t going to order to a plate of Mantu, one of our absolute favourite things to eat from this cuisine. Basically, these are steamed dumplings with mince and onions; then topped with a chilli chatni and a yoghurt sauce. An absolutely delicious experience! If you are a dumpling fan, then make sure you try the Mantu; you might not want to eat dumplings any other way. Another must try here.

Mantu (steamed dumplings) at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

There are plenty of vegetarian options on the menu and the next dish we tried was Potato Borani – finely sliced potatoes which are pan fried, flavoured with spices and herbs and finished off with tomato and yoghurt sauce. Nothing more to add except that it was really delicious and makes a great vegetarian dish.

Potato Borani at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

And we finished the meal with the traditional Uzbek Pallow, a rice dish with lamb. The menu calls it as lamb biryani but that name is rather misleading as biryani takes on different avatars in different cuisines; this one’s more of a pilaf. Long grained rice that has been flavoured with whole spices and has a generous portion of carrots and sliced lamb through it. Just this rice and the yoghurt dip can make me a very happy girl. Absolutely delicious.

Uzbek Pallow at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

There isn’t much choice when it comes to desserts so we decided to skip it. But I would love to see a few traditional sweets or desserts on the menu apart from the lassi, gulab jamun and icecream. You can finish off the meal with the traditional black tea which is great for digestion too.

In a nutshell, a restaurant you do not want to miss if you are looking for delicious, high quality, traditional Uzbek and Afghan cuisine. Make it your weekend priority!

Pamir Restaurant

195 Lonsdale Street
Dandenong
Victoria 3175

Phone no: 03 9792 0197
Website: http://www.pamirrestaurant.com.au/

Timings:

Monday: closed (open some days, check website)
Tuesday – Thursday: 4pm-10pm
Friday – Sunday: 12pm-10pm

Pamir Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

Indian Burrp (Cheltenham, Melbourne) – a Review

Quite often I get asked the question, ‘Can you suggest a good Indian restaurant we can dine at?’ or ‘What do you think about this new Indian restaurant that has opened in XYZ location?’ And I find it quite challenging to answer both of these questions because firstly, I do not eat out much at Indian restaurants and secondly, there are very few Indian cuisine restaurants that I actually enjoy in Melbourne.

So when a friend who lives in Cheltenham asked about Indian Burrp, I was clueless. She was keen to know my opinion about the food there (which made me feel rather important!!!!).  But with the usual problem of having too many places to try out in Melbourne, it just never happened.

Until…..another friend (do check out this lady’s amazing YouTube channel) won a dining voucher to Indian Burrp.

Indian Burrp, Cheltenham, Melbourne - a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The restaurant is located on Nepean Highway; quite an accessible location to most. On entering, you will be immediately drawn to the beautiful ambience and décor. Soft dim lights, beautiful centre lighting, comfortable dark seating and a small bar at the end all add to the slow paced dining experience that the restaurant has tried to create for its customers.

Indian Burrp, Cheltenham, Melbourne - a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Indian Burrp defines itself as a fine dining restaurant. But I do not really agree with that term as the menu is quite classic heavily leaning towards the North Indian style of cooking. There aren’t any surprises with regard to the dishes, style of cooking or presentation. I really wonder why the Indian restaurants here are so afraid to veer away from the familiar path. Having said that, you can find all the much loved and popular Indian dishes on the menu. Not disappointing if you are looking at classic North Indian food. There are also combo deals which work great if you are looking to sample many dishes.

The wine list is a good one albeit a small one but I was quite happy to see a bunch of good Australian wines carefully chosen to go with the flavours of the food. We did sample the wines, both white and red which went really well with the food but I was so busy talking with my friends that I forgot to note the names. Sorrrry!!

Indian Burrp, Cheltenham, Melbourne - a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Another factor that stands out at Indian Burrp is the friendly customer service. The owner Rash Banker is always around being the perfect host, getting your orders sorted, making enquiries etc… It was welcoming to see him around making sure that everyone is having a good time.

The first starter to arrive was the Tandoori Prawns. It was good but the spice paste had a bit of rawness to it from not being cooked through but nevertheless flavourful.

Tandoori Prawns at Indian Burrp (Cheltenham, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The next starter we got was the Chef’s special Burrpie Chicken. The menu stated half for $13.95 and full for $22.95. Reading it, one would assume that half meant half chicken but it is not so. What arrived at the table were 2 medium sized chicken thighs which was a bit of a bummer; a clear menu would help rather than having to call the staff to find out more about every dish. The chicken was cooked well, moist and juicy with a good spice rub. Quite similar to a tandoori but without the smoky chargilled flavour.

Burrpie Chicken at Indian Burrp (Cheltenham, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

For mains, we ordered the Lamb biryani, butter rotis and Chicken Hutke (Chef’s Special). The chicken dish felt a little heavy but the flavours were good. An onion based gravy, medium spicy and paired really well with the rotis.

Coming to the biryani, hands down, it was the dish of the day for all of us. It was a Mughlai style biryani with succulent lamb pieces, right amount of spices, full of flavour and the rice cooked to perfection. A must try if you are a biryani lover. The only bummer was that the biryani is served without any raita/yoghurt dip or salan; you need to order a raita for extra cost. Biryani always comes with a raita folks!

Chicken Hutke - Indian Burrp (Cheltenham, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Mughlai style Lamb Biryani - Indian Burrp (Cheltenham, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

For dessert, we got the Mango Kulfi and Gulab Jamuns. Sorry guys, no pics again (this time, the effect of too much wine!). The kulfi had a good flavour of the mangoes, creamy and delicious. It is served in a bowl instead of the traditional stick format. The jamuns were soft, syrupy and just the right amount of sweetness. Totally recommend both.

Overall, a nice experience. There were some misses but plenty of hits too. Loved the service, ambience, a good wine list and decent food. And ofcourse, a great song selection playing throughout the night. Would return back to this place.

Indian Burrp
Shop 6
1291-1293 Nepean Highway
Cheltenham
Melbourne, Victoria
Phone: 03 8524 5096
Website: http://indianburrp.com/
Timings:
Monday – closed
Tuesday to Thursday – 5.30pm to 10.00pm
Friday & Saturday – 5.30pm to 11.00pm
Sunday – 5.30pm to 10.00pm

Indian Burrp Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – My friend had a gift voucher which was redeemed and the remaining amount was paid by her.

 

 

 

 

The Foodrinkery, Burwood (Melbourne) – a Review

A lovely café tucked away in the bylanes of Burwood, The Foodrinkery ticks all the right boxes for me when it comes to a neighbourhood café.

Located adjacent to the Wattle Park Primary School and Spectrum dance school, the café enjoys an enviable location which also makes it the perfect spot for the neighbourhood to stop by for a relaxing cup of coffee and some amazing food.

The Foodrinkery, Burwood (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

We walked in for brunch earlier this week and the first thing that struck me was this was the perfect place for me to meet with my mommy friends. The seating area is divided into three parts – a couple of tables out at the front, cool quirky interior seating (with plenty of magazines) and a gorgeous shady space behind the café which opens out into the adjacent park area.

The décor has been done so thoughtfully; there is plenty of quirky stuff on display which children would adore, like this car on the wall.

Quirky interiors at The Foodrinkery, Burwood - a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The Foodrinkery, Burwood (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The staff also opens out the top part of the fencing when children are around so that parents can always watch their children playing in the park while sipping on their coffees. Very thoughtful indeed…..

Beautiful art work on the walls, interesting table number art, cars and planes, potted plants and herbs….all add to the relaxing ambience of this café. A place that makes you feel warm and welcome. How I wish there was a similar café in my neighbourhood!

Quirky interiors at The Foodrinkery, Burwood (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The Foodrinkery, Burwood (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

We started off with a cup of coffee (cappuccino to be exact) and freshly squeezed orange juice. The coffee was good but there’s room for improvement. We Melbournians have a very high standard for coffee so this one felt average….. The freshly squeezed orange juice was gulped down fast being a really hot autumn day. The café also serves smoothies and other fresh drinks apart from the usual bottled varieties.

Coffee at The Foodrinkery, Burwood (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Orange Juice at The Foodrinkery, Burwood (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The menu at The Foodrinkery is an interesting one with a good mix of familiar, comforting dishes and some modern, unique flavours. Personally, I love to try out new flavours and I also get excited when a small café or restaurant tries to push boundaries in their own small ways. But my hubby is not always so which is why he ended up getting eggs and toast with a side of bacon. According to him, a café that gets this dish right is one he will return to. And luckily for him, it turned out to be so….creamy, fluffy scrambled eggs on good quality toasted bread with a side of perfectly fried bacon.

Scrambled Eggs on Toast with a side of bacon at the The Foodrinkery, Burwood (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

I zeroed in on the Chermoula Eggs….toasted bread topped with smashed pumpkin, grilled zucchini, two free ranged poached eggs drizzled with chermoula dressing. To cater to all taste buds, the seasoning is kept to a minimum so you need to adjust it to your liking with salt and pepper. But there was tons of flavour in this one…loved the chermoula dressing which when combined with the runny eggs was brilliant. A clean, healthy and nourishing dish.

Chermoula Eggs at The Foodrinkery, Burwood (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

It was a really hot day and the Atlantic salad sounded very interesting so we added that to the list too. Lots of baby spinach topped with cherry tomatoes, capers, smoked salmon, feta, pickle, jalapenos drizzled with a balsamic glaze dressing. Very refreshing and delicious, it made the perfect addition to our meal.

Atlantic Salad at The Foodrinkery, Burwood (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Do look out for their specials menu which you can find behind the counter. There is also a delectable selection of muffins, cakes, pastries, cupcakes, cookies etc…..I bought back home a couple of chocolate cupcakes and mini chocolate chip cookies which totally won my son’s approval.

Freshly baked muffins at The Foodrinkery, Burwood (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Gorgeous cupcakes at The Foodrinkery, Burwood (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

In a nutshell, The Foodrinkery is a great place to relax after dropping off your children at school, catch up with your friends and neighbours or have a family brunch on the weekends. And if this café was near my home, you would have found me doing all my food writing here….a very inspiring and calming space.

The Foodrinkery
22 Banksia Street
Burwood
Victoria 3125
Phone: 03 8899 6654
FB: https://www.facebook.com/TheFoodrinkery/

Timings:
Mon – Fri: 8.00am to 5.00pm
Sat-Sun: 8.00am to 4.00pm

Disclaimer – I dined as a guest of The World Loves Melbourne and The Foodrinkery. The choice of dishes and opinions stated here are entirely mine.

The Foodrinkery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Little Oak Eatery (Malvern East) – a Review

Located on Waverley Road in Malvern East, Little Oak Eatery is a friendly neighbourhood café that has been around for about a year now. But last month, a new management has taken over and has bought about quite a few changes to make it the perfect neighbourhood and family friendly café in the area.

1

We walked into Little Oak Eatery rather late for lunch, around 3pm. As we entered, one of the staff informed us that they would be able to serve us only coffee as the kitchen has closed for the day. We were a bit disappointed as the timings of the café said they were open till 4pm. She apologized and said that coffee, pastries and similar accompaniments were available but since we hadn’t had lunch, we stepped out saying that we will return at another time.

Within seconds, the owner of the café came out and invited us back inside saying that he can serve us lunch. He said that the kitchen was just beginning to close and since they hadn’t put anything away, they can still accommodate our orders. And so we were back inside and seated for lunch. Loved the customer service, the friendliness of the staff and their willingness to go that extra mile and serve us with a smile.

The café has a very inviting ambience; large windows ensure that the area is well lit. With plenty of space inside and outside, it is the perfect place to relax and stretch out your legs. A great space for families and also to catch up with friends over coffee.

Little Oak Eatery (Malvern, Melbourne) - a review - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Little Oak Eatery (Malvern, Melbourne) - a review - thespiceadventuress.com

Soon the drinks and lunch menu was bought out. Normally, I would try out the coffee but this time I was in the mood for something lighter and refreshing so ordered the Lemongrass and Ginger tea. And I was glad for it because it was a good quality tea brewed to perfection.

Lemongrass and Ginger tea - a review of Little Oak Eatery (Malvern) - thespiceadventuress.com

Little Oak Eatery has an all day breakfast menu that is served till 3pm daily and also a lunch menu. There are also daily specials depending on the fresh and seasonal produce available. They also have a small kids menu which has all the familiar comforting classics that you wish to see in your neighbourhood café.

So the little fellow ordered Egg Soldiers; nothing gets him more excited on a weekend than runny eggs. The dish arrived in style; two perfectly done eggs placed on an egg carton and a few pieces of good quality toasted sour dough bread, the whole thing placed on a rustic wooden board. Apart from it tasting delicious, I loved the fact that an everyday breakfast dish was presented in such a beautiful manner that even a child would appreciate it.

Egg Soldiers - a review of Little Oak Eatery (Malvern) - thespiceadventuress.com

My choice was the potato rosti with smoked salmon and pickled mustard served with two poached eggs. Loved everything about this dish. Clean flavours and good quality ingredients; a fine example of not much cooking required when you have good produce. The rosti was crispy outside and soft inside and paired deliciously with the heat from the mustard and the smoky saltiness of the salmon. And perfectly poached eggs to elevate it to a hearty meal.

Potato rosti with smoked salmon, pickled mustard and poached eggs - a review of Little Oak Eatery (Malvern) - thespiceadventuress.com

And the hubby chose to have the crispy grilled salmon with assorted veggies and salsa verde. The salmon was cooked beautifully; crispy skin with soft flaky flesh (would have preferred a slightly bigger portion though). Really fresh veggies cooked to perfection and the tangy, herby salsa verde to tie it all together.

Grilled salmon with assorted veggies and salsa verde - a review of Little Oak Eatery (Malvern) - thespiceadventuress.com

Overall, it was a delicious and highly satisfying meal. The owner mentioned that he was still adding more dishes to the menu to cater to a wider audience. He also said that he was planning on getting a liquor licence so that the café could operate on weekend nights too (that would be really great). If you are taking a look at their menu on the website, it reads rather limited but the in house menu has much more to offer.

We would definitely go back, especially on days when we just want to relax and indulge in simple yet delicious comfort food.

Little Oak Eatery

Shop 1
255 Waverley Road
Malvern East
Melbourne
Victoria 3145

Phone no: 03 9571 0429
Website: http://littleoakeatery.com.au/

Timings:
Monday to Sunday: 7.00am to 4.00pm

Disclaimer – This post was brought to you in association with Yarra Valley Farms. I dined at the restaurant as an anonymous diner and all the opinions expressed in the review are entirely mine.

 

Little Oak Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cambodian (Khmer) Chicken Samlá Curry

I have been quite ignorant about Cambodian or Khmer cuisine till very recently. Somehow the cuisine of this tiny country never featured in my vast list of Asian cooking.

When we have never travelled to or know much about a region, we often make the mistake of generalizing the cuisine of that land. I made the same mistake too of generalizing Cambodian cuisine with its Thai and Malaysian counterparts. But as I am learning (more frequently these days), that is not true. Just like the cuisine of India or for that matter, any other large country or continent, the cuisine of a region can vary widely from its neighbouring lands inspite of using similar ingredients.

So my first brush with Khmer cuisine happened via a friend and avid travel blogger Svetlana of Maverickbird. This girl has travelled around the world (mostly solo!) and if you are nurturing the travel bug within you, then you must check out her blog.

The last time she was in Cambodia, she decided to attend a Khmer cooking class. Now Svetlana is a big fan of eating but not really of cooking and apart from having a great culinary experience, she enrolled in the class so that she can get me some authentic traditional recipes from the region. Well, what can I say about such friends except that I am damn lucky!

Are you planning to travel to Cambodia or want to know more about Khmer food? Then check out Svetlana’s article.

I will have to be content with just cooking Khmer food for now since travel is not on the cards yet. But the most awesome aspect of living in Australia (yes, I have said this before) is the availability of most ingredients that enables me to recreate most of these recipes at home.

So today, I am going to teach you a classic dish from Cambodia – Chicken Samlá Curry.

Cambodian (Khmer) Chicken Samla Curry - deliciously creamy, highly aromatic and fragrant chicken curry - thespiceadventuress.com

Some of the ingredients that are central to Khmer cooking are lemongrass, wild lime/kaffir lime, pepper, shallots, coconut, galangal, thai red chillies etc…. Like I mentioned before, all of these are central to many other Asian cuisines also but it is the way these ingredients are bought together that makes the cuisine of Cambodia unique.

The Chicken Samlá curry is basically a soupy kind of curry and one that is found quite commonly in Cambodia. It is either served as a soup or as a stew poured over rice. The thick, soupy coconut milk broth is what makes a Samlá stand out. It strongly reminds you of the Thai yellow curry but the flavours are different.

Lemongrass is the key ingredient in this curry and the primary flavour and aroma that greets you. I have made a few modifications to the recipe in terms of ingredients and measurements to suit my preferences which I think is important to make any dish a pleasurable experience for you. Instead of dry Thai chillies, I have used fresh ones and also more than what the traditional recipe calls for. It does not make the dish hot or spicy but adds more depth and flavour to match the sweet richness of the coconut milk.

Shrimp paste is another key ingredient of this dish and I know your whole neighbourhood will smell it too. You could omit it but then you won’t be getting the real deal. But yes…the smell!!!

It is the unique blend of spices and aromatics (traditionally called the kroueng) that forms the base of this dish. The flavours are created here; you could choose to pound away in a mortar and pestle if you have the time and patience (a great stress busting exercise too) or a grinder will do the job in a fraction of the time. And since you will be spending a certain amount of time making this, I strongly recommend making a large batch and freezing in portions for quick weekday meals. I mean making everytime from scratch is great, but who really has the time anymore.

Kroueng or Cambodian curry paste - aromatic and fragrant - thespiceadventuress.com

Cambodian (Khmer) Chicken Samla Curry - deliciously creamy, highly aromatic and fragrant chicken curry - thespiceadventuress.com

Enough talking; let’s go ahead and re-create this deliciously creamy, highly aromatic and fragrant Cambodian Chicken Samlá Curry. And if you happen to try it out, make sure you tag me #thespiceadventuress in your social media posts so that I may see it too.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 whole chicken (approx 1.2 kg); cut into medium sized pieces
  2. 3-4 lemongrass stalks
  3. 1 tbsp lemon flesh
  4. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  5. 3 tbsp chopped galangal
  6. 6 large shallots; coarsely chopped
  7. 6 large garlic; chopped
  8. 8 fresh Thai red chillies
  9. 1 ½ tbsp shrimp paste
  10. 2 cups thin coconut milk
  11. 1 cup thick coconut milk
  12. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  13. Salt, to season
  14. ½ tsp sugar

Note – The proportion of all the spices and aromatics is approximate and should be adjusted according to the size and freshness of the ingredients and also your taste preferences.

Method:

  • To prep the lemongrass, cut off the tough and dry roots and top ends. Peel off the outer tough layers and use only the soft part of the stalk. You will need approximately 3-4 stalks (depending on the freshness) to get about 1 ¼ cups of chopped lemongrass.
  • If using a blender, place all the ingredients from 2-8 and grind to a fine paste. If you are using a mortar and pestle, then add each ingredient, crush well and then follow with the next ingredient till the whole mixture comes together to a fine paste like texture. If you have a small mortar and pestle, then you can grind the ingredients in separate batches and then finally mix all together in a bowl.
  • Place the shrimp paste on a piece of aluminium foil; spread it out evenly and then fold the foil into a small packet. Place on a medium hot tawa or pan for 2-3 minutes, turn over and heat for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, open the packet and crumble the shrimp paste into the prepared curry paste and mix together.
  • Heat the oil in a deep pan; add the curry paste and cook on low heat till the rawness of the ingredients goes away and oil begins to separate from the curry paste. This will take at least 8-10 minutes and sometimes more. But this is the step that is most crucial to the flavour of the overall dish so be patient and let the heat do its job.
  • Next add the chicken pieces and cook on medium heat for about 6-7 minutes without adding any water or coconut milk. Take care to stir at constant intervals so that the spice paste does not get burnt or stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the thin coconut milk, season with salt and add sugar; cook on medium heat till the chicken has become tender.
  • Then add the thick coconut milk and cook for another 5 minutes; remove from heat.
  • Serve warm with rice and garnish with coriander leaves.

Note:

  • If you want the dish to be more soupy, you may add more coconut milk.
  • You may also add vegetables to this dish.

Cambodian (Khmer) Chicken Samla Curry - deliciously creamy, highly aromatic and fragrant chicken curry - thespiceadventuress.com

Cambodian (Khmer) Chicken Samla Curry - deliciously creamy, highly aromatic and fragrant chicken curry - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

March Favourites

Another month has gone by? Seriously?

Feels like I wrote the February Favourites list just yesterday!

Another month gone by and for me, another year too….I turned 35 this month guys. Yeah, the grey hairs are here to stay.

Even though it flew by, March was a great month for us. My little champ turned 7 and we celebrated by taking a helicopter ride across Melbourne city. Peeps, this is very doable….do consider it if you have little ones at home. The thrill of the ride is like none other!

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I cooked a lot of interesting recipes this month but my favourite remains these delicious Baked Oysters with Garlic, Curry leaf and Kashmiri Chilli. Turned out to be a big hit at my Easter party too.

Baked Oysters with Garlic, Curry Leaf and Kashmiri Chilli - Soft, plump and juicy oysters are oven baked with a garlic and curry leaf butter emulsion, coriander leaves and Kashmiri chilli powder - thespiceadventuress.com

Ok, so without wasting more time, let’s get onto this month’s favourites. There was a lot of good stuff around this month as you will see.

  • There’s plenty of basil in the garden which I want to finish up before the frost sets in so this dish is definitely on the menu.
  • Look at this outdoor tent guys! I mean, is this for real?
  • Homemade gummy bears! Now this could be an exciting term break activity.
  • Do you know the difference between white and brown eggs? If you answer is no, then read this.
  • This DIY technique is so pretty.
  • Writing a recipe is no mean feat; check out some of the common mistakes that most people make.
  • Stop thinking. Start doing.
  • Growing plants in water; totally doable. I have already started doing this with spring onions and you can too.
  • I have been madly in love with gochujang ever since I tasted it. And so this recipe is one to be tried for sure.
  • Ten truths about working from home. Spot on!

Vietnamese Prawn Spring Rolls (with Sweet n’ Spicy Dipping Sauce)

The looong Easter weekend is finally over and it’s back to work today. Well, not quite for me as the little fellow is at home for his term break. So technically, the holiday mood continues…

Last term holidays, Adi handed out invitations to his friends for play dates without asking me. So I found myself caught in completely unprepared situations having to think on the spur for interesting snacks to feed the brood. Though eventually that play date fell upon another mom’s shoulders, I didn’t want a repeat of that scenario this time too so decided to stock up on some finger food before hand, something I know children love to munch on.

And that is how these Vietnamese Prawn Spring Rolls came to be.

Vietnamese Prawns Spring Rolls - The ultimate party snack for kids and adults alike - thespiceadventuress.com

We are all familiar with spring rolls especially the deep fried ones. Perhaps, one of our all time favourite ones in the snack list. There are so many fillings that can be used, both vegetarian and non vegetarian. But I must admit that I am partial to pork and prawn spring rolls.

One of the best spring rolls that I have eaten is at a small Vietnamese restaurant near home. They serve thin, crispy spring rolls to be dunked in a delicious dipping sauce. And traditionally, these spring rolls are eaten wrapped inside lettuce leaves and a couple of mint leaves. Though generally iceberg lettuce is used, I enjoyed this with cos lettuce this time. Let me tell you, once you have it this way, you will not want to eat spring rolls any other way.

The cool crispiness of the lettuce followed by the crunchy deliciousness of the spring roll finishing off with minty freshness and all of it tied together by the sweet and spicy dipping sauce.

Vietnamese Prawns Spring Rolls - The ultimate party snack for kids and adults alike - thespiceadventuress.com

So you get the point…it is delicious!

Now Adi is not too fond of the lettuce/mint leaves/dipping sauce combo; he just prefers dunking it in store brought sweet chilli sauce. And I am sure his buddies are gonna think the same. But all of us do agree on one thing that these Vietnamese prawn spring rolls are the best.

Psst…..I also managed to sneak in some extra amount of carrots. I am sure the mummies are gonna love the idea.

If you are making spring rolls for the first time, then you might take a bit of practice to get it right but hey, it’s no rocket science. I hope the images are helpful or you can just watch any ‘how to make spring roll’ video on YouTube.

collage

Apart from these spring rolls, I am also planning to make these Chilli Chicken Bites and Upma Cutlets. Do you have any easy suggestions that I could try out? Would love to hear all of it….

Without wasting any more time, let’s get frying these delicious Vietnamese prawn spring rolls!

Ingredients:

(Makes around 26 rolls)

For the spring rolls:

  1. 1 packet spring roll pastry (small )
  2. 300 gms prawns; deshelled and deveined
  3. 1 large carrot; grated
  4. 1 medium onion; finely chopped
  5. 1 tbsp garlic powder
  6. 1 tsp sugar
  7. 1 tsp black pepper
  8. Salt, to season
  9. Paste mixture for sealing the pastry:
  • 1 tsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp water
  1. Vegetable oil; for deep frying

For the dipping sauce:

  1. 2 tbsp vinegar
  2. 3 tbsp fish sauce
  3. 2 tbsp sugar
  4. 1 cup water
  5. ½ tsp chilli paste (optional)

To serve:

  1. 2 heads of Cos lettuce; leaves separated
  2. A bunch of mint leaves

Method:

  1. Mince or finely chop the prawns. Remember it should have a bite so do not overmince to a paste like texture.
  2. Add the carrots and onions along with the garlic, sugar, pepper and salt. Mix well to combine till you get a uniform consistency.
  3. Mix the flour and water to get a paste like consistency which is to be used for sealing the ends of the pastry.
  4. It is faster if you separate your pastry sheets in advance and store in an air tight container or zip lock bag to prevent drying out. Alternately, you can separate the sheets that you want and then wrap in a damp cloth, removing one at a time.
  5. Place the sheet in a diamond shape (i.e. one pointed end of the sheet towards you as depicted in the picture).
  6. Place a small amount of the filling at the end towards you (do not overload with filling as this tends the roll to break open while frying). Hold the edge and fold over the filling towards the other end and then pull it tightly towards you so that the filling is nestled tightly inside. The tighter the roll, the better will be the shape of your spring roll and also helps it from breaking in the oil.
  7. Fold the other two ends towards each other and roll the whole thing into a cylinder. Seal the end with the flour paste to secure it tightly. Place in an airtight container and cover with lid immediately to prevent drying out.
  8. Repeat the same for all the rolls.
  9. Heat enough oil in a deep pan to deep fry the rolls. To check if the oil is hot enough, insert a chopstick or wooden spoon; if you can notice bubbling around the wooden part, then the temperature is right. Do not over heat the oil as this will burn the rolls outside without cooking the inside prawn meat.
  10. Also, fry only 4-5 rolls at a time in a medium sized pan. Overcrowding leads to a temperature drop which results in soggy rolls.
  11. Fry the rolls in batches and place in a strainer. Remove after a few minutes to a kitchen paper. Avoid stacking up to ensure that the crispness stays longer.
  12. To prepare the dipping sauce, mix together all the ingredients; taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.
  13. Serve on a large platter with the spring rolls, lettuce, mint leaves and dipping sauce so that each person can customize to individual taste preferences.

Note:

  • Spring roll pastry sheets come in both small and large sizes. I have used small ones in this recipe but if you are using large, then adjust the recipe accordingly.
  • Prawn meat can be substituted with any meat of choice. You can also make a vegetarian version with mashed veggies of choice.

Vietnamese Prawns Spring Rolls - The ultimate party snack for kids and adults alike - thespiceadventuress.com

Vietnamese Prawns Spring Rolls - The ultimate party snack for kids and adults alike - thespiceadventuress.com

Caffe La Via, Malvern (Melbourne) – a Review

Established in 1999, Caffe La Via has always been a favourite with the locals but the new management who took over in 2012 decided to bring about a much needed change to keep up with the fast changing food scene of Melbourne.

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Yours truly….in the reflection

Richie Brownfield (St Ali collaborator) was bought in to spruce up the place and the result was a modern, contemporary interior with a feel good ambience that makes it an ideal place for catching up with friends over coffee or a relaxed, lazy lunch on the weekends.

Coffee is serious business at Caffe La Via; Sensory Lab beans brewed in a Gravimetric Black Eagle Machine, one of the very few in Melbourne. Apparently this stylish black and steel fellow is referred to as the Maserati of coffee machines. I did try out the coffee but more of that later; let’s get on to the food first.

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The menu leans heavily towards Italian but with plenty of modern Australian influence and also inspiration from some of Melbourne’s favourite cuisines. Head Chef Rajat Suri (ex Crown, Merrywell) has done a great job of using seasonal ingredients to create interesting twists to the menu.

On the beverages front, it is not just the coffee that hogs the limelight here. Caffe La Via has a really good wine list, featuring some of the best Australian wines for a very reasonable price. Dhruv (part owner and Manager) is passionate about wines and a trained sommelier; this reflects well in the choice of wines available. So make sure to ask him for recommendations like I did.

Based on the main courses that we had ordered, Dhruv suggested a glass of 2010 Leeuwin Estate Prelude Vineyards Cab-Merlot (Margaret River, WA) for my hubby and a glass of 2014 Momo Pinot Gris (Marlborough, NZ) for myself.

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2010 Leeuwin Estate Prelude Vineyards Cab-Merlot (Margaret River, WA)

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2014 Momo Pinot Gris (Marlborough, NZ)

We started the meal with Cream cheese stuffed whole jalapenos in tempura batter served with ranch sauce. It was brilliant; crispy and crunchy exterior that gave way to melting cheese finishing off with that nice kick of jalapeno heat in your throat. Does wonders to your taste buds…. Reminded me so much of the deep fried chilli fritters of India but different because of the light tempura batter and cream cheese stuffing. A must try if you can handle some heat…..

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Cream cheese stuffed whole jalapenos in tempura batter served with ranch sauce

Sensing our love for spices, Dhruv suggested to try out the Southern style chicken with Louisiana hot sauce batter, jalapeno slaw and peri mayo. Again a delicious starter; crispy fried chicken with a spicy flavourful coating and a wonderful slaw and mayo to accompany. Though it had a spicy coating, it was not fiery or overpowering, just flavourful.

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Southern style chicken with Louisiana hot sauce batter, jalapeno slaw and peri mayo

For mains, we got the 400gms Cape Grim Tasmanian grass fed Eye fillet with chimichurri and a basket of thick cut chips with homemade aioli. The fillet was just beautiful; the quality of the meat coupled with the perfect cooking time ensured that every slice was incredible. The chips were cooked to perfection and seasoned well with an equally delicious aioli. The chimichurri was good too, though I would have preferred a little more quantity.

 

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Cape Grim Tasmanian grass fed Eye fillet with chimichurri

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I cannot go past soft shell crabs these days; seems to be my new found food love. So I also ordered a soft shell black crab on Japanese Tang Zhong bun with homemade radish and vinaigrette slaw, citrus mayo and baby herbs. The crab was done to perfection; crunchy and so full of flavour. Special mention to the bun too; loved its texture. Not a big fan of the slaw but the rest of it more than made up in the flavour department.

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Soft shell black crab on Japanese Tang Zhong bun with homemade radish and vinaigrette slaw, citrus mayo and baby herbs

For dessert, we asked Dhruv for suggestions and it was a beautifully Baked Cheesecake with white chocolate, vanilla bean and raspberry that was bought out. Usually I don’t enjoy a cheesecake because I find a tanginess to it but this one was so light and refreshing. The frozen raspberry sorbet was mouth puckering but paired deliciously with the cheesecake. A must try for the cheesecake lovers!

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Baked Cheesecake with white chocolate, vanilla bean and raspberry

And we ended the meal with steaming hot cups of cappuccino. A sip of it and I was in coffee heaven. And we Melburnians never say a coffee is good if it is not outstanding. The aroma and that silky smooth texture were to die for. Don’t miss out on any chance to have coffee here.

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Great coffee, wine and food, that’s what Caffe La Via is all about. The menu might sound standard fare; but it is good food cooked beautifully using the best ingredients. It is a place where every member of the  family can pick out a favourite and have a good time. There is also a kid’s menu and they also cater to all dietary requirements.

Note – Making a reservation is recommended especially for weekend dinners or large groups.

Caffe La Via

252-254 Glenferrie Road
Malvern
VIC 3144
Phone: 03 9509 6373
Website: http://www.caffelavia.com/

Timings:
 
Monday to Wednesday: 6am – 10pm
Thursday to Saturday: 6am – 11pm
Sunday: 8am – 9.30pm

Disclaimer – I dined as a guest of Caffe La Via and The World Loves Melbourne but all the opinions expressed are entirely mine.

Caffe La Via Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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