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Cheesey Lebanesey at Mankoushe

26 Jun

Nothing like being ill over a weekend to dig the knife deeper into one struggle street of a week.  Thankfully, I can always call on the Gang (Little L and Z) to assist in the drowning of my sick sorrows without it involving bad disco techs and ‘getting wasted’!!

Earlier in the day, I’d briefly touched base with Z on the night’s possible events and the need for a) wine times, and b) it be cheap ‘n’ cheerful!! In a stroke of genius, she responds with “Cheesey Lebanesey?”  To translate this said “Cheesey Lebanesey”, which she so cheerfully hummed out over the phone, is Lebanese pizza…although in hindsight I don’t really get why she called it that.  Whatever.  It was a catchy tune.  And its caught on! Plus, after countless pre squash dinners offered at Zeina’s place  of Zatar and bread, this suggestion was like Codral for a cold…  Soothing and I want to have more than the recommended amount!

Mankoushe counter/kitchen

After a ritual wine at Carlton espresso, we high tailed it down to Mankoushe in Brunswick East for our Lebanese Pizza fix.  We enter the tiny takeaway shop to a small table for customers to dine, and a wall of smiley staff half cooking/half vibing on the music blaring on the speaker.  Cheerful box – tick! And best yet, the smell of sweet sweet lebanese bread!  Mankoushe offers over 20 different flavours/toppings of pizza/pies (as well as daily specials), which are all made from organic spelt flour and range from $2-$9.  Cheap box – tick!  Off to a swimming start.

It’s a rather overwhelming menu with so much on offer.  But not surprisingly my eyes went straight for the Kafta… LAMB!  (But the most appealing part of this flavour is the creamy mayo that tops off the lamb mince with 7 spices).  As there are 3 of us, we decide to choose a flavour each, and sit in to take in the loud music & interesting characters (both on the walls and the local patronage).  I kind of peer pressured Z into ordering the Zatar (i LOVE Zatar… almost as much as fat kid loves cake) and Little L chose a chicken from the specials.

Zatar; oregano, oil, sumac & sesame seeds $2

Within 15 minutes, our first two pizza’s are brought to our (the only) table.  Being the first time trying Lebanese pizza, I’m surprised to find the base to be wonderfully light, crisp and a little sweet.  The Zatar is fragrant and tasty with just enough oil on the base to prevent from being dry.  My absolute favourite about this one is that the flavour is spread all the way to the rim… yep! I’m kinda O.C.D about my spreading technique…

Kafta Lamb; mince, parsely, onion, 7 spices, topped with fresh tomato & mayo $6.20

The Kafta lamb was more than just a visual spectacular!  The slices of fresh tomato balance out the richness of the  creamy mayo, so when you take that all engulfing bite of lamb, sweet base, tomato and mayo it’s flavour nation!  Almost like the satisfaction of eating a burger with the lot, sans mess.  My only gripe was that the mince wasn’t all the way to edge.  But you win some you loose some…

Last but not least was the special of the chicken with creamy mayo, which, I’m going to call a pie(?).  This kind of looked like a GIANT pastie, and had a slightly filo like, bready encasing.  Next time I feel like eating my emotions, I’d definitely order this one!  It’s HUGE!  Filling, cheap and best eaten in the privacy of your own home away from prying eyes.

Special; chicken with garlic mayo, fetta, corn, lettuce and fresh tomato $9

The chicken was dressed in a super garlicky mayonnaise situation, that actually tasted amazing!  It added not only flavour but acted as a good gelling tool to hold the shredded lettuce, diced tomato and corn kernels inside, as well as preventing dryness.  This kind of felt like I was eating a chicken wrap… but with a lot more personality.  That flaky, crusty bread exterior is pretty unbeatable.

Pie Faces adorning the walls

Such a shame that they are only open Thursday to Sunday and close at 9pm.  Good thing it didn’t take us long to devour our pizzas; we didn’t really stand a chance talking over the music festival volume music blaring (maybe that was part of their ‘eat quick, get out so we can close tactic’).  It did though, give me a chance to think about all the people I could bring here so that I could try all the different flavours (super keen to try Kawira which is topped with an egg… YEP… so.  Asian!! and the haloumi options…mmmmm cheeeese!)

Walking out rather full bellied, despite the ringing in my ears I’m already planning my next experience with the cheery folk at Mankoushe.  Because one can never deny a cheap and cheerful meal with some “Cheesey Lebanesey”!!

Mankoushe

325 Lygon St, Brunswick East  03 9078 9223

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Bread and Jam for Frances

11 Apr
 Sandwich and Juice offering

If I was writing this post this time last year, you would by now be sick of reading about the 11th day of my ‘eating as many different Hot Cross Buns (… a day… ) Challenge.’  But with Easter only weeks away, I am still yet to sink my teeth into a fragrant, fruit filled, sweet, over buttered, cross covered bun!

You see, after years of delighting in eating Hot Cross Buns (rather excessively) over the recently extended Easter period (… YEP.  Its New Years Day.  And they are already selling Hot Cross Buns at Woolies) my indulging has caught up with me.   Last year I realised I was allergic to them – maybe it was the over consumption.  But lesson learned everyone;  everything in moderation – or suffer the consequences!

After a morning at the Farmers Market amongst all the fresh produce and fresh bread on offer, DDO decided to keep it local for brunch this week.  Since the Dench Bakery crew opened Bread and Jam for Frances in Hawthorn and N moved (momentarily) back to the burb’s, this place has been a GODSEND when we need a decent coffee, sweet treats and artisan style bread locally.

Freshly Made Hot Crossed Buns

Fresh made Hot Crossed Buns

As soon as I walk in all I can think about is ordering a Hot Cross Bun!  The sheer memory of them makes me salivate –  the bun itself, all soft and fluffy with that perfectly spiced fruit and a hint of zest… If you are so lucky to be able to enjoy a hot Cross bun this season, make sure you try at least one made by Dench.  They are AMAZING!!

In addition to bread and buns, BAJFF also offers daily specials, and a selection of tempting brunch options that cover sweet and savory, as well as, of course, a changing selection of freshly made pastries and cakes for those  sweet cravings.  N decided to go with the soup (soup of the day was Thai Pumpkin soup) 1/2 and 1/2 – which is a half serve of soup with half a toasted ham and cheese sandwich.  I got to have a taste, and as simple as this sounds, the soup was rich in pumpkin flavour and a really nice creamy consistency.  The toasted sandwich was made with Fresh Dench bread.  I’m not sure what cheese was used, but it tasted AMAZING! Really punchy flavour and nice and stringy!  The makings of a perfect toastie!

Soup of the Day: Thai Pumpkin soup

I was feeling rather defeated by my cursed food allergy, so I went with the Breakfast Trifle.  (I’m actually really surprised the word Hot Cross Bun didn’t spill out of my mouth like verbal diorrhea when it came to order time).  I rarely go the sweet option for brunch, but this sounded like it would look pretty and I figured that would distract me from temptation.

Breakfast Trifle; bircher, poached pears & apple with yoghurt and berries

As soon as mine arrived I couldn’t help but do the obligatory “ooohhh”-ing and “ahhh”-ing you’d expect any person to when presented with such a painterly assortment of food in a tumbler.  The fruit was not over cooked, and although you had to dig a little deeper to get to it, pushing the bircher  helped amalgamate all the juices.  The slithered almonds on top were a welcome garnish to mix up the textures, so I didn’t feel like I was eating baby food (or anything too healthy…)

Coffees

As we sipped our well made coffees at the end of our meals, I couldn’t help but feel like I was cheating myself.  There was nothing to fault about Bread and Jam for Frances, with it’s friendly staff and tidy interior.  And if it were any other time I would not question leaving 100% satisfied.  But I couldn’t help but consider suffering the consequences; dealing with the wrath of the dreaded delicious HCB and giving into temptation…

I may or may not have left with one to take home!  Lets just say, that later, in the comfort of suffering in my own home, I was finally satisfied!

Bread and Jam for Frances

1/701 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn, 3122

Tel 9819 2122

www.breadandjamforfrances.com.au