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McConnell Marathons

1 Jun

Sorry for the absence!! It seems DDO have been too busy eating or breast feeding to properly document our culinary adventures of late!  But rest assured… we are still eating… rather excessively in fact!  So whilst the other part of DDO is busying herself tending to the little chub – little babe is gaining the weight of a block of butter every couple of weeks! – I thought I’d give y’all a little look into what I’ve been stuffing my face with in her absence from society!

I’m going to start with an oldy but a goody!  It’d been a successful week on the fitness front and i’d just completed my second workout session at the gym.  Feeling pretty excited by my commitment to working on my fitness I thought i’d treat myself to CUMULUS INC… Something about cold weather and craving carbs!  I needed some of that Fried Bread that Cumulus does so damn well!  I called my favourite mid week dining companion Z to help celebrate my new found lease on life.

Filling the Void: Fried Sour Dough!

I don’t know how Z felt about this bread.  Especially given how much I harp on and on about this stuff, but I enjoyed it!!  This was Z’s first time at Cumulus so I let her do most of the decision making (bar the bread and cauliflower salad).  We decided to get 2 starters, 2 mains and a salad.

Smoked mussels, escabeche $9

First to arrive were the smoked Mussels, with the escabeche giving it a nice vinegar-y kick!  Soon after came the soft shell crab which came with lettuce for wrapping up, and kewpie mayo!

Fried soft shell crab, kimchi, lettuce & kewpie $18

I’ve always been partial to soft shell crab!  Only because you generally, you can’t really f*** it up!  Having said that, credit to Cumulus for getting their batter/crab piece size ratio perfect!  SO many textures and flavours topped with smooth sweet Kewpie!  Winner!

Tuna tartare with crushed green pea salad $32

I think by this stage i’m already getting pretty full, and rather boozy.  Some thing about exercise and making you get drunk really quickly…? The Tuna Tartare came at a good time though, as it’s cold, and light.  I forgot almost instantly about my almost full stomach …

Roast Aylesbury duck breast, toasted grains, lentils & quince $36 (back) & Cauliflower Salad

The duck was delicious and completely unnecessary.  And while  I’ve always been a firm believer of not winning friends with salad, for this Cauliflower salad, I always make an exception!  There’s a bit of greenery, a good smack of paprika… those mouthfuls where you get the pop of pomegranate and pine nut crunch!  It’s a pretty good mouth party!

I left feeling it was all a pretty great way to celebrate my new found fondness for working on my fitness and discovering the genius invention that is ‘skins’.   Sadly, I have since fallen off the fitness train.  But I am still wearing my skins, and eating out!

Our next adventure was also an Andrew Mc Connell establishment.   This time we decided to take new DDO mum out on the town while getting a rest from baby duty, with Little L, Z and I meeting her at the newly renovated The Builders Arms Hotel.

Bread & butter

It didn’t take long for us to settle in, order some wine and get our orders in!  It’d been a while since we all got to hang out and try somewhere different, so amidst me losing my shit over the bread being served  (…yeh don’t get too excited!  It LOOKS like fried bread… but it paled in comparison to that of Cumulus… think it was just a regular sour dough!) and trying to participate in the verbal diarrhea happening at the table, we almost let the waiter open a Magnum bottle of  Valpolicella!

We’d ordered the 2010 Ca’Rugate Rio Albo Valpolicella, which the waitress somehow assumed we meant ‘bring us the biggest bottle of it you have!’.  Love a night out with my girls, but I personally don’t want to imagine the state of us (we’re kind of small, driving and 75% of us asian…) after having 1.5 Litres of wine!

Anyway, crisis averted, normal sized wine served, back to the talking at each other and food on its way!

Pig ear scratchings $6

We decided to get an appetizer and an entree to share.  Between the Pig Ear Scratchings and the Roast Chicken Hearts on the menu, I was right in assuming no one would be into eating hearts…which was annoying because I was sooo intrigued by the tiny little things!!  No matter.  The Pig Ear scratchings were given the go ahead and were tasty, salty and crispy!  We also ordered the Corned duck, raw brussels sprouts and prune ($16) which I have no idea how, but I decided not to take a photo of it.  Come to think of it, I can’t even remember what it tasted like… I guess that’s enough said…?!! (The other DDO – it was amazing! raw brussel sprouts were delicately sliced and surprisingly tasty and the duck was pretty amazing)

Fish pie, smoked trout, prawns, hapuka, sorrel $32

For main’s, both N and I decided to get the Fish Pie (it’s seems N has grown soft since her recent birth giving, and has now relaxed on her ‘everyone order something different’ rule).  It was a very generous serving, with really big, fresh chunks of trout and hapuka in a béchamel type sauce inside.

Z and Little L went for the Dry Aged, grass fed Rib Eye, Cape Grim 800g ($69) to share (that big chunk of meat in the back of the photo) which by all accounts looked cooked to order (Rare!  Of Course!!) and juicy.  We also ordered the obligatory side of fries and baby cos.  Z couldn’t finish her steak, but feedback was positive from both of them.  We all sit back rubbing our rather over stuffed bellies as they clear our well demolished dishes… until the suggestion of dessert seems to magically revive us instantly.

Poached meringue, frozen curd, sour quince jelly $14 (front) & suet pudding

We share the poached meringue and the suet (i.e. animal fat – really) pudding special which the waitress convinces us is the BEST thing on the menu.  Thankfully for her, we aren’t instantly turned off at the sound of animal lard baked into a small cake… because that’s all I remember of the little syrup covered cake to the back.  And she was right!  While the meal wasn’t bad, I think the only redeeming factor of this whole meal (from start; with the lack luster bread, and almost catastrophic mis-serving of the magnum to finish) was in fact this dessert.  You probably won’t see me rush back to the Builders Arms in a hurry….but if I had to, it would be for that pudding.  Animal fat – baked and served with cream!

Cumulus Inc- 45 Flinders Lane  Melbourne VIC 3000 | (03)9650 1445
The Builders Arms Hotel- 211 Gertrude Street  Fitzroy VIC 3065 | (03)9419 0818

Robert Burns Hotel

24 Feb

Whats the best thing about friends making impromptu visits to Melbourne?!  Well besides having the pleasure of being in their company, it generally means we get to catch up over some good ol’ wining and dining!!  So when the well travelled (and VERY well dined) P, J and P2 came to town from Hong Kong, they thankfully brought their appetites with them.

We’d given them a list of food genres to choose from, and the end result was Spanish.  DAMN!! Why the hell did we suggest Spanish!  Don’t get me wrong.  I love a bit of Paella and a LOT of Sangria… but combining the no bookings/small interiors/us having a big group situation with the places worthy of eating at… things were not looking easy!  Thankfully, the other DDO had an amazing brain fart and thought of the Robert Burns Hotel.  Well done N!  Looks like pregnant brain has yet to take hold…

I’d been to the Robert Burns Hotel prior to its ‘face lift’ when it was still… well… much more ‘traditional’ and family run and meals came out on big plates with food piled high.

The new interior kept touches of the old, keeping the old dark oak furniture and mixing it with sections of (tartan…?) feature walls and flooring.  Regardless, the interior is spacious.  It took our booking for 6 people.  And we weren’t jammed side by side or seated in a line at a bar… so i’m willing to overlook that rather interesting ‘feature wall’ situation and make the most of our environment.

As always, I arrived to find N and JP, already with an open bottle of wine and pretty sure idea of what to order!  So the gang arrives, we pour some more wines order some food and proceed with our catch ups.  The first to arrive was a special – some sort of fried goats cheese- which was added in to the order at the last minute.

Special: Goats cheese and spinach croquette

Now, obviously, this is a serve of 4.  We are a table of 6. Correct me if i’m wrong, but wouldn’t it be common sense to inform us that there is only 4 per serve?!  Not rocket science really…  So the next few ‘sharing’ dishes all came as a serve of 4!!  Which meant we had to order another as each plate was presented (unfortunately our waitress was apparently blissfully ignorant and numerically illiterate to… or just plain negligent in DOING HER JOB!).  OK, rant over.  Back to the Balls.  The Goats cheese and spinach croquette was crispy with a soft interior, and was texturally good, although generally anything deep fried is. Moving on…

Croquetas del mar mussel and prawn croquettes $9.90

This one had much more flavour and bite to it!  A good bit of saltiness from the seafood and the potato was smooth.  Didn’t melt in my mouth, but at least it had flavour.  Thankfully, the best share plate was saved for the last… like a glorious cliche, it was AMAZING!!

Pimientos rellenos de rabo de torto grandma's own recipe, piquillo peppers stuffed with ox tail $11.90

So inside this little red pocket rocket piquillo peppers was what tasted like a slow cooked ox tail.  WIN!! The whole thing kind of fell apart as you cut it with a fork, but the pepper still held its form without being mush.  The richness of the ox tail cooked into the peppers created a super fragrant, delicious pool of sauce in the bottom of the dish.  Would’ve LOVED some bread to soak up those amazing juices… I was so blown away by this meaty flavour bomb that I actually paid little attention to the salad being served at the same time (yes, the ladies of the table – obviously not including me – made sure there was some foliage).

Unfortunately I cannot remember what was in this besides the quail eggs and the olives.  I guess it was just a normal garden salad… The quail eggs were good!! So with starters close to done, we were ready for the main event.  I think by this stage we were second bottle in and ready for something more substantial.

Paella negra con alioli squid ink paella w cuttlefish and scallops served with alioli sauce $22p/p

The squid ink paella was a rather refreshing version of what we normally have access to in Melbourne.  The squid was fresh and the rice was cooked al dante, although I would’ve loved a squeeze of lemon and lots of salt.  We decided to get a serve for 2, considering we’d had the starters and to leave room for…

Mixed Grill plate

MEAT!! This mixed grill doesn’t look that big for 6, but starting from the bottom, there were 2 lamb chops, a rabbit (joint?  fillet? the part that has a bone in it…) a sausage and a big piece of eye fillet.  The eye fillet was probably the best, cooked to pinky perfection on the inside and a little charred on the outside.  The rabbit was a little dry and flavourless, but nothing a good dollop of chimmichurri didn’t fix.

Churros con chocolate $9.90

We’re all pretty full by the end of it – and YES! We did manage to finish it all, save a few bits of leafage from the meat plate – but let’s be real.  There is ALWAYS room for dessert!! Even if it is the safest, most cliched spanish dessert around.  Thankfully, Robert Burns does this cliche rather well.  The Churros are crisp, and not too thick – there is nothing worse than being served a bratwurst sized churros – and the chocolate is a perfect balance of bitter and sweet.

Much like the last taste to pass our lips, despite all the slight misgivings of the evening, it was in the end as it should be, all about the exceptional company.  Which much like the dessert was full of shits and giggles and bitter sweet.

The Spotted Pig

2 Sep

The entrance of the Spotted Pig

It’s almost my third week in New York City.  The City that never sleeps… and most certainly NEVER stops eating!!  I’m slowly ticking off my ‘eats list’ around NYC (which is endlessly growing)!

I’d had a fun day at work, and got out kind of early so decided to walk home.  I do that a lot here.  Walking!  Even if I get back from a day of it and SWEAR to not walk 30 blocks again, I always find myself getting home exhausted and feeling like my feet have been raped by pounding the pavement. The upside of walking though means I have A LOT of thinking time.  And it means I work up an excruciating appetite.

George and I decide it’s finally Burger Time!  The Spotted Pig is a small corner pub in the West Village, known for Mario Batali’s heart attack inducing Roquefort Beef Burger.  Despite it’s many accolades and constant crowds you can tell it hasn’t fallen victim to the hype.  It’s cosy.  Still looks like a pub, and the place isn’t jam packed full of hipsters or corporates or wannabes wanting to be seen.  In fact, the only thing it is packed with is pig paraphernalia…

After our 45 minute wait at the bar, by the time we are seated G and I are both beyond starving!  We are presented menus but in my Burger Blinker state, don’t even skim over it and get right to business.  (sitting at the bar for 45 minutes meant I had to watch approximately 3 burgers a minute be ferried from kitchen to customer… it made me ravenous for one!!)

Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort Cheese & Shoestrings $ 17

Roquefort cheese oozes over the medium rare patty

The burger arrives cooked to order (we both asked for medium rare) covered with a mountain of shoe string fries.  It’s a decent thick patty, and upon cutting it open, is indeed cooked to how I ordered.  Nice!  Although a simple burger, with nothing but meat and cheese (livin’ the dream in my books… one doesn’t need bother wasting time with greens), there isn’t a moment throughout the experience of flavour boredom.  And yes!  That cheese is intense!!  But it’s by no means over the top!

Given the size of this Meat/Cheese flavour bomb, by the time I finish it I can’t even get through half the fries… and dessert is most certainly not happening!  Instead we leave with a belly full of goodness (it’s nice to leave a restaurant without feeling ripped off, pissed off and hungry!)  Next time though I must be sure to actually read the menu…

I heart NY. I heart Spotted Pig!

The Spotted Pig

314 W. 11th St (@Greenwich St.) West Village

(212) 620-0393

The Court House Carb-Fix

14 Jun

Like most people with 2 eyes and a heart beat, Monday’s are my most dreaded day of the week. It is the one day for the past few months that I am generally bored, hungover, and left to my own groggy devices (as I have to work by myself). So when I have all day to think about where Z and I are going to drown my sorrows of the boring day, by 6 oclock, I’m literally dying from anticipation for… this week… PIZZA!

As I ploughed across town to Carlton, I’d almost reached my wine/pizza filled Utopia, only to receive a call from my delightful DDO partner. “Hey, JP and I are going to join you for dinner… so we’re going to have to change your dinner plans!” You see, normally, this wouldn’t be a problem. I love N. And JP. But given his recent ‘must eat grapefruit before each meal/No-Carb/only consume meat and salad diet’, our original plan for wine and pizza at D.O.C ,which I was so highly anticipating was canned!

I begrudgingly continue driving (I use the term driving rather loosely… it’s a good thing Monday’s a generally quiet on the roads) to our new meeting place, The Court House in North Melbourne. I arrive to a chipper JP, Z and N and pretty much sulk until my wine is poured. (YEP! I made the first 20 minutes of our dinner EXCRUCIATINGLY painful as I sat in a fit of Pizza Deprived Rage). Then we ordered, (Z; bless her cotton socks made sure she ordered me some french fries to semi cure my carb craving) I got a little boozey (off 2 sniff’s of wine…) and I totally forgot why I was being a sulky little shit!!

We’d found ourselves a nice table in the deserted back room of the bar, which suited us nicely. Although please excuse my super poor quality photos…my iPhone camera is an absolute FART and has no flash… but hopefully you get the idea…

To start we ordered the Charcuterie Platter, which came with a nice selection of meats, a terrine of the day, some cornicons and pickled greens all served with bread. As a general rule, Wagyu ANYTHING is A-OK with me!! This Wagyu Bresola did not disappoint. All the cured meats were of a good sliced thinness, and were sufficiently salty and flavoursome.

Kitchen charcuterie selection; Fratelli Galloni Prosciutto di Parma, Moondarra wagyu bresaola, Seven Hermanos gran reserva jamon, Duck Terrin and Cornicons $26

The only disappointment for me was the Terrine, which today was a duck and pork terrine. Hearing these 2 animals in the same sentence (better yet served on the same plate) alludes to instant satisfaction. This unfortunately was a little on the dry side…

Shoe string Fries and Aoli $8

Thankfully there were plenty of other meats to go round and before we knew it, we were onto our second bottle of wine just in time for our mains to arrive. First to arrive were the shoe string fries. It was a tough decision choosing between the fries or the potatoes roasted in duck fat. But I think, given my previous display of childish behaviour, keeping it simple with the shoestring fries was an appropriate choice! (Well played Z! But don’t think I didn’t get what you were hinting at…)

Our meals followed shortly afterwards, but this generous bowl of fries was pretty damn tasty! Really crispy, salty and the aoli was nice and creamy too. Such a moorishly great taste bud starter for the main event!

As mentioned earlier, JP can really only eat meat at the moment… well… he ALWAYS generally eats the meat/steak option anyways so I guess it’s not too much of a change. Both he and Z opted for the Porterhouse Steak which comes served with mash, rocket and red wine sauce. They both arrived on a big bed of mash potato’s (as did each our dishes) and the waiter followed quickly after with the selection of mustards.

Porterhouse Steak mash, rocket & red wine sauce $24

JP is very good with his sharing, so we all did the sharesy’s. From the chunk that I tasted, this was a well made piece of meat. Seared on the outer, and still juicy and tender on the inside. It doesn’t really look it in this (really bad) picture, but the size is rather decent… Z seemed to struggle towards the end of hers, so its really no surprise she left complaining about her food baby, considering that meat sized hunk of mash.

Pork & fennel sausages, mash, onion gravy $19

Noel’s fancy Bangers & Mash looked a little lack lustre, but was surprisingly really flavoursome. Much like a cover of a book, you can’t always judge a dish by its appearance. Although tasting a bite of sausage was pretty much enough. It was tasty… but i was pretty much bored after that taste. Lucky for me I didn’t order that…

Beef Burgandy Pie, with mash and red wine sauce $19

Although I can’t say my choice was ALL that much better!! Taste wise it was fine!! Beef Burgandy… what’s not to like!?! It must have been all that anticipation for pizza/anxiety over changed dinner plan/sulking, that made me make such a weird choice in meal! Why the HELL did I order a $19 pie!… that is served with Mash… I don’t eat mash!! Anyway, regardless of my absolute brain fart, I guess the pie was meaty and hearty. I probably wouldn’t order it again though (here or at another establishment)… EVER!!

Thankfully, although I didn’t get to fill my Pizza Craving, I DID get to spend an evening with my 3 favourite people, with some great wine, good banter and what seemed like an abundance of Mash!! Not what I’d anticipated for my Monday night wind down, but highly enjoyable and sorrows were drowned non the less.

 

The Court House

86-90 Errol Street
North Melbourne VIC 3051
(03) 9329 5394