Tag Archives: Sweets

Pizza Religion and a Cheekin’ Great Time

2 Aug

Like a Catholic praying to a Saint for a miracle, after today’s Roller Coaster of emotions I can confidently say I can rely on Pizza Religion for my miracle (…and Yes!  Today’s miracle was as simple as putting a smile on my dial!  Today proved to be an emotionally Terrible Tuesday!  Until I settled into the comforting embrace of P.R)   DDO had decided a night before it was time to revisit Pizza Religion – I’m trying to tick all my culinary favourites as frequently as my stomach can allow before I head for NYC – if not just to be extremely satisfied in the belly, to make sure we got to try the much talked about fortnightly specials.

After the disappointment of missing out on the flavour slice that was the special of asparagus, goats cheese, egg & truffle oil upon our last visit, I made sure I made it clear to the masterminds behind my prayers being answered, Kris and Matt, that I was there for the Special.  And only The Special!  They were kind enough to ensure they’d save a serve for me.  Prayers already answered… or so I thought!!

We entered to the ever friendly faces of Matt and Kris, were promptly seated and then, out of no-where, like they’d heard my cries from my day of despair… “We’ve also made the Braised Beef Cheek for you!”  Like music to my ears, my frown was officially turned upside down!! This Braised Beef Cheek had been on my carbo-lovin-Meat-crazed mind since first hearing about it on my first ever visit to P.R.  And – much to the annoyance of the PR crew – I’d been begging/pleading/praying to the Pizza Gods that they bring it back before I go.  My prayers were answered… There is a God (?)

Super Special: Sherry Braised Beef Cheek with Celeriac Puree & Gremolata

As we settled into our wine, it didn’t take long for our 3 pizza’s to arrive.  The Braised Beef cheek was first of my priorities (… meat…Slow cooked!   Livin’ the dream!!)  As this was not meant to be served until the next day, our pizza’s Cheek had only being cooking for a little over 4 hours (normally they leave it on for 6-7 hours).  But coming out on that bed of celeriac and perfectly fresh pizza base, the braised beef cheek was soft as a cloud and fell apart in the mouth with ease!  If you’d ask my DDO counterpart, she’d say it was too rich.  Enjoyable!  But rich!!! I say the richer the better! The fatty in me wishes i didn’t have to share this pizza…

Special: Char Sui Pork Belly with corriander, bean shoots and fried noodles

Next on my plate was the other special, the Char Sui Pork Belly.  Normally I DIE for some pork belly!! And this was enjoyable, what with that fresh corriander to balance out the sweetness of the Char Sui dressing and the crispy noodles to create that TEXTURE bomb with each bite.  Along with all the other elements the pork belly is thinly sliced but generously placed right to the edges.  Well  balanced and very refreshing (…although I would have liked CHUNKS of pork belly as opposed to slices… which would probably translate more like a pork belly souvalaki then a pizza!!  Which is exactly why I do the eating!! and NOT the cooking!!)

Chorizo, Prawns, Chipole sauce & Jalapenos $18

Our last flavour is one of JP’s favourites (and also a meat option) which is a constant on the menu.  Each element of these toppings works so harmoneously.  Spicy, fresh, sweet and the kick of the occasional Jalapeno makes for a pleasant flavour bomb every few bites!

Savoy cabbage, fresh herbs, parmesan, Lemon $7

To help balance our Meat Crazed meal we also ordered a Savoy Cabbage salad.  I’ve always been a strong believer in the saying (or was it a song…?) “You don’t win friends with Salad!” but this was kind of small, and more like a chop salad… which Jamie Oliver makes… which makes it more than okay in my book!! The parmesan slices add for a nice bitey element to the otherwise ‘healthy’ tasting cabbage.  It is a surprisingly inoffensive, if not pleasant, accompaniment to our otherwise flavour/meat rich meal.

As we manage to work through all those amazing pizza’s and come to the bottom of our wine (did I mention Pizza Religion is B.Y.O…), we’re all more then sufficiently satisfied.  Despite this, the “i’ve had a rough day and I need to eat my emotions” side of my brain tells me I need dessert!!

So I convince JP to have a long Macchiatto with me and sneakily order some Jock’s Ice Cream (they sell it by the tub 500mls).  In addition to a selection of Ice Cream flavours, there is also a Pizzette special of apple and rhubarb crumble and flourless chocolate pudding.  Considering I was already kind of forcing the other 2 into eating dessert,  I figured the ice cream (which 500ml tub shared between 3 is nothing….) was the most humane choice for people not suffering my rather unhinged emotional appetite!

Jocks Choc Mint Ice Cream 500ml $8.50

While some people like to base their religious beliefs on faith… a greater power or divine intervention, my belief is not only more substantial, but also instantly gratifying.  Like winning one’s heart through their stomach, Pizza Religion has won not only my heart, but also an undying faith!  Pizza Religion’s Braised Beef Cheek Pizza; my divine intervention!!

Pizza Religion

493 Tooronga Road, Hawthorn East | 03) 9882 2555

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China Bar signature

19 Jul

Remember that episode of 30 Rock when Jenna comes back from a season break 30 pounds heavier after eating a whole summer of Pizza during her run on Broadway in ‘Mystic Pizza: The Musical.’?  Well, DDO didn’t just do a musical tv series.  Or anything to do with Pizza!  But this family dinner WAS most certainly inspired by something on TV (an extremely overplayed, over glamourised tvc on the Chinese cable channel TVB Jade), and left me  bellowing “ME WANT FOOOOOOD!!”

China Bar Signature

Said commercial was for China Bar Signature, an Asian food buffet emporium, offering every possible type of stereotypically eaten asian delight!   It’s a combination of clever marketing, hiring an amazing photographer and offering this “Eat As Much As You Like” haven of food that seems to have made this place EXTREMELY successful, and the whole experience – from booking our table, to the morning of our reservation, to before we arrived, to when we were 3 minutes late, and finally being shoo-ed out once our ‘allocated eating time’ was up – left us speechless… or was that the food coma…?

China Bar Signature is HUGE!  As you drive down Burwood Highway it’s hard to miss this giant food cube of a restaurant as it glistens on the corner lit up by the token red neons that China Bar is so famously known for.  You walk in to find a grand dining hall packed with people, packed with staff, and most of all PACKED with food.  As we are hurriedly seated (much to the distress of the maitre’d we are 4 minutes late, well not late but 4 minutes into our booking time range of 6:15 – 6:30) at our round table for 5 near the entrance.  In case you haven’t picked up already, there’s a reason this place is so damn big.  It’s because when you offer people too much food, with endless food varieties (…they even offered dim sum!  Ummm! Its 7:30pm…. ) people come in HOARDS!!

So in order to deal with the masses of hungry humans needing to stuff their face with limitless amounts of Asian themed fare (present company included…), the establishment has 2 seatings, 5:30pm and 8:00pm.  With our booking for 6:30 we are warned almost every 4 minutes leading up to 6:30 that we HAVE to leave at 7:45 and asked “are you sure that is enough time to finish eating…?”

Dim Sum assortments

Given the pressure from the restaurant to eat and leave, DDO and the Fam had devised some what of an eating plan of attack… which was almost immediately VITTO-ed by JP and I.  You see, N along with Mumsy and Dadsy thought it a good idea to tackle one station per person, to ensure we got to try as much as humanly possible without wasting time.  Clever idea.  But I was only interested in eating an hour and a half worth of unauthentic sushi and sashimi… and maybe a dumpling or 2 (coz eating Sui Mai at dinner times … like eating chocolate for breakfast…!!).  And JP was pretty much all over that Oystar bar (2 rounds worth) faster then we could pour our first cups of tea.

Seafood bar

So aside from the usual fried rice, noodle bar, steamed dumplings -which include xiao long bao and assortment of dim sum dumplings… which I think is PRETTY WEIRD but then again, so is the whole concept of this place! SO sparing judgment.

…there are stir fries,  a Japanese section, an Indian/Malaysian offering, a salad bar (uh… AS IF!!  needless to say that area was untouched on my part… ) Chinese roast meats – which were roast pork, pork belly and peking duck, and of course seafood bar.

Maki assortment

It didn’t take me long to beeline for the sushi bar (which was my favourite part of the TVC) with it’s brightly coloured maki rolls all lined up.  The flavours were pretty standard, but tasted acceptable considering the environment we were in…

Seared Salmon & Eel Sushi

My favourite was the seared Salmon and Eel Sushi, which I’m pretty sure I cleaned out at least a whole platter of each!  They were really fresh and surprisingly, the bed of rice it nestled on was far from being dry and rock solid like many other places that offer this type of sushi.  Although I did manage to try some of the other things, like satay, and peking duck, after about 3 rounds of sushi my stomach was so full of rice I could almost explode.  Thats the thing with “all you can eat”… there really is only so much you can eat, before you feel ill.  And I was certainly well on my way…

mums tailor made fishball noodle soup

Mumsy was probably the smartest with her eating choices and opted to head straight for the noodle man where she was able to tailor make her bowl with choice of noodles as well as assorted dumplings, balls and vegetable accompaniments.   Thankfully for us, her relatively un-overstuffed belly meant she still had room for dessert…

Coconut pudding

Mixed cakes

The dessert spread was just as impressive as the savory food.  So impressive in fact, there was a massive line that wrapped all the way around the dessert run and around the bend towards to restrooms. It may also have been something to do with the fact that it was getting close to that 7:45 cut off.

Offering everything from pastries and tarts, cheese and bread to sponge cakes, cheese cakes and puddings… Most impressively being the retail sized

Pastries & more sweets

freezer full of ice cream sticks!! (You know those one’s you always see at asian grocers that you never quite know if they are icey poles or ice creams… icey creams…?)  By this stage, JP had to excuse himself from being so full.  He literally got up and had to walk around the restaurant. Mum, N and I did a round of desserts for the table, and Dadsy stayed by the table … smart move Dadsy!!

Although we only returned with 2 small plates of an assortment of little cakes and something red beany, we all struggled to finish them, and even the mere hand to mouth action was too difficult.

Freezer full of ice cream poles (?)

We started as a troop bellowing “Me want FOooood!” with eye’s for food being bigger then our actual stomachs, and walked out (to a line of hopefuls outside, awaiting their glorious hour and a half of excess consumption) feeling completely defeated by the Food Monster that drew us in!

NOTE TO SELF: its much funnier experiencing the effects of over consumption through Jenna on TV Land than in real life… should also probably stop eating sundae’s whilst working out on the treadmill….

China Bar Signature

380 Burwood Highway, Burwood East  (03) 9887 8011

Road trip to Mr Carsisi’s

26 Apr

It’s finally reached that time of the year again, where for one glorious week, eating chocolate for breakfast is mandatory and we get to enjoy a food filled 4 day weekend (…well this year 5 day… AMAZING!)    Fellow foodie, Z and I had already successfully put on Good Friday Seafood Lunch, (with the exception of a little chorizo… that was my fault, i totally forgot the whole point was a no meat thing… Oooops!) where we created a feast of Red Wine Mussels, prawns with guacamole & ‘fancy sauce’ (a la Step Brothers) – also known as Thousand Island Sauce – a few salads and green beans with fennel, fresh oysters and crumbed sword fish.

Good Friday Seafood Lunch

It was an excessively delightful lunch, but my proudest moment was making Apricot Hot Cross Buns that looked the part and actually tasted pretty great!  Go ME!!

Homemade Apricot Hot Cross Buns

It was basically a day of dining, wining, snacking, wining and more dining!! And even though we eventually carried our full bellies home to nurse the food coma, it didn’t take long for Z and I to start cooking up our next Easter Culinary Adventure.

Feeling a little heavy headed, and a lot heavy bellied, we looked into some options for short road trip destinations with ‘DINING’ being our main prerequisite … Oh, and being able to get out of town, see endless rolling fields and not be ruled by traffic lights.

Our final choice:  Piper Street Kyneton!  Being only a little over an hour out of Melbourne, Piper Street in Kyneton leaves any foodie spoilt for choice.  It was hard deciding where to choose given the over whelming offering of resturants/bistro’s/cafes, but we decided to go with the Turkish inspired, Mr Carsisi.  (It may or may not have been in big part due to their Dessert platter for 2 that I’d come across while looking up fellow food blog sites…)

Mr Carsisi’s shed like spacious interior, is the home for owner Matt Fegan’s (formally of award winning Royal George Hotel) Turkish inspired dishes.  We’d made a booking so were seated promptly upon arrival.  The service is relaxed, friendly and efficient.  Within 10 minutes of arriving, we were watered and had been served our wine from their extensive internationally sourced wine list.  At this point I was feeling pretty confident with our Piper Street selection!  As mentioned, I’d seen a lot of photos showing the dessert platter, so choosing the savory part of this meal was pretty trying.  The menu offers a mezze section, as well as mains, sides, and a daily specials list.  Normally, I wouldn’t think twice about it!  Spot a Steak or Lamb on the menu (in this case, slow roasted lamb shoulder with persian red lentils, grilled lamb cutlet, pomegranate & walnut sauce) and its a done deal.  But having lusted over this dessert platter, I (with a great amount of difficulty) fought my instinctual cannibalism …

We decided to get a bunch of Mezze to share (to make sure we left room for dessert) starting with a special of the day, Saganaki with Figs and Sauteed Prawns in a Spiced tomato and corriander sauce.

Sauteed prawns, spiced tomato & coriander sauce $11.50 (left) Saganaki with Figs $11.50

The Prawns were fresh and fragrant with the spiced tomato sauce.  The spice added a really nice complexity, although I found it a little too overpowering for the prawns.  I DID however, enjoy dipping the sauce on the Pide and Battered eggplant dishes (you’ll see them below shortly!)  The biggest let down was probably the Saganaki.  Which makes me pretty sad! It was cold and therefore stiff as a board by the time it arrived to our table… speaking of board, it kind of lacked taste as well.  So essentially, I felt like I was eating cardboard, with some fancy fig jam.  The Jam was lovely… (?)

Fried chickpea battered eggplant, zaatar, garlic & dill yoghurt 9.00

Thankfully, the rest of the dishes arrived relatively quickly so my disappointments were quickly distracted.  Next came the Chickpea battered eggplant and the Sucuk sausage pide.

The Chickpea battered eggplant doesn’t photograph the best, but it was a lovely combination of flavour and textures.  The chickpea batter created a crunchy casing, housing a silken zaatar laced eggplant slice.

And the Sucuk sausage (Turkish dry, spicy sausage) Pide below, was freshly baked, although I found it a little on the dry side.  But that was easily amended by dipping the bready bits into the sauce from the prawns!

Sucuk sausage, Turkish sweet chilli paste, tomato & shanklish pide, coriander yoghurt 10.50

The last two of our share plates were green beans with tahini lemon dressing (it was a side, but the Z is having a ‘green beans’ phase at the moment…) and the lamb pistachio kebabs.

Green beans, crispy shallots, tahini lemon dressing, walnut oil 8.00 (right)

Personally, I thought the beans were a little lazy.  They were well blanched, but the dressing was a bit lack luster and didn’t live up to it’s colourful sounding description.  So far, two dishes to add to the ‘disappointed’ list!  At this stage, we are both feeling a touch on the disappointed side.  Given the lively nature of turkish ingredients (spices, aromatics, sesame etc), it seems to be a little difficult to find an establishment that draws on Turkish flavours well and uses them to their full advantage.

And then… the saving grace!  Our final dish arrives and yes! It is MEAT!  Glorious MEAT!!

Antep lamb pistachio kebabs, flatbread, tomato & parsley salad 11.50

The Lamb was cooked just right, all tender and juicy but not so tender that it crumbled off its skewer.  The tomato’s were fresh, and combined with some flatbread, parsley and crumbly pistachio-ed lamb, lightly sprinkled with zaatar, this was a mouthful of FLAVOUR NATION!  Turkish nation!!

And just as I’d devoured the last mouthfuls of that Turkish Flavour High, I swallowed with great anticipation!  It was DESSERT time!  Two Turkish coffees and a Dessert Platter for 2 please…

Tasting Plate for two $28

The Tasting plate for two was a platter of nicely sized Turkish sweet HEAVEN!  It involved (from left to right):

Pistachio baklava, Talumba (sugar coated donut) with Turkish delight & rose syrup, Pistachio halva ice cream, Chocolate ganache, Salep – wild orchid & orange blossom custard, Lokma (cinnamon sugar donuts), Turkish delight semifredo and Semolina & cinnamon halva, pistachio & vanilla fairy floss.

Tasting dessert plate for two (close up of semolina Halva with fairy floss-left. Turkish delight semi fredo-right)

As you can see, this platter is NOT for the faint hearted!  My favourite was definitely the Turkish Delight semifredo (thats the one on the right with the pistachio top sandwiching the pink), which combined my 3 favourite textures:  baklava, turkish delight and ice cream!

Also fantastic in flavour was the Pistachio Halva ice cream (which is the little white ball, glistening from behind the shot glass of white custard).  Z tried to explain to me that it reminded her of a Lebanese dessert her uncle used to make… for me it was like eating condensed milk on toast.  But cold!  And better coz its Ice Cream!!

We were advised to dip the Lokma; cinnamon coated donuts (not to be mistaken for the Talumba, which are dipped in icing sugar and cinnamon) in the Salep – wild orchid & orange blossom custard in the shot glass or the chocolate ganache.  The Talumba seen at the back, was to be dipped into the turkish delight and rose syrup sauce which was housed in the  Cezve (coffee pot) it was perched atop.  Both the Lokma and the Talumba look the same to me!  Churros! YUM!  Both the dipping sauces however, weren’t the most appetizing, in texture or taste.  The turkish delight and rose syrup was far too gelatinous and resembled snot… Rose scented snot.  Thankfully the chocolate ganache made for a trusted and delightful pairing.   Last but not least there was the baklava and the Halva with Pistachio & Vanilla fairy floss which were nicely washed down with the help of our Turkish coffees.

So 6 dishes, 2 and a half hours and a plate of fragrant diabetes-on-a-platter later, we take our full satisfied bellies back to the car and make our way back to the bright, traffic lighted streets of Melbourne.  Although there were some flavour lows at Mr Carsisi, I don’t know a single human in the world that wouldn’t go from their lowest low to their highest sugar high just looking at that Dessert Platter.  So Thank You Mr Carsisi, for keeping my confection-filled Easter-High alive!  You won’t find me rushing back in a hurry, but if I found myself  in the area again, I wouldn’t rule out revisiting the Desserts… any time of the year!!

Mr Carsisi

7 Piper Street Kyneton 3444

(03) 5422 3769

Passion Flower Superstar

27 Jan

It’d been open for a while, and like every other human that walks past, I’ve often wondered why this place is ALWAYS packed and open until so late.  I’d resisted entering this late night haunt (apparently a favourite of many international students) until that fateful Monday night.  My sister had finally returned from her holiday to Hong Kong – her first trip without me –  and I was feeling Hong Kong-home sick and envious, and wanted to eat my emotions.

After our catch up dinner up the road, and hearing all her Hong Kong food stories, I had a yearning for dessert.  Asian dessert.  And so begins my love affair with Passion Flower.

Before my first dine-in experience, I thought it was just another ice cream shop with seating and VERY loud R&B/club music – despite my sister’s insistent proclamations that she had taken me to a Sydney Passion Flower, I was unconvinced as I am sure I would have remembered such an eventful experience.

As soon as I opened the menu; thick and weighty full of categorized desserts ranging from crepes and waffles to jelly with fruit and Ice Kachang (all served with at least one scoop of Ice Cream), my heart skipped a beat from excitement.  FINALLY.  An ice cream heaven full of ‘Honky’ style sweet adaptions (complete with romanticised names like ‘heartbreaker’, ‘lasting love’; and ‘ooh lala’)

a page (one of many) from the menu

It took me a while to decide on one item.  But I finally decided on the Superstar.  An offering of sticky rice ice cream, red bean ice cream with homemade glutinous balls covered in Black Sesame and sprinkled Peanuts all served in a martini glass…classy!!

'The Superstar'

Because at some point in a girl’s life, there comes a time where we have to make some tough life decisions; do I go out, joining the never ending queues for the bar, then the bathroom, then the cab line, spending a lot of money getting boozy and hating myself the next morning.  Or do I indulge in a late night treat of a different kind, and give in to the plethora of sweet party-in-my-mouth goodness.  Both come in a martini glass… I’m going to opt Passion Flower, all the time.  Every time!

Lux Bites

23 Jan

I can’t remember when it started.  But before I knew it, I was swept up by the Macaron CRAZE that we are all so sick of hearing/reading/talking about.

Enter Lux Bites.  Offering over 15 different flavours plus seasonal additions (Australia Day presented the Freckle, Rocky Road, Salty Caramel and Vegemite (…Terrifying… but intriguing).

My first visit I tried Watermelon Yoghurt, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Sicilian Pistachio and (the piece de resistence…and Lux Bite specialty) Kaya Toast.  For an instant party in your mouth you want to be eating the Kaya Toast flavour.  Inspired by a traditional Malaysian snack, the talented Bernard and Yen manage to capture the (chunk) of butter goodness of a Kaya Toast while encasing it in the most fluffy, soft in the inside crisp on the outside shell.

I’m a fiend for Peanut butter, so needless to say the Peanut Butter and Jelly flavour came in close as equal favourite!

So apart from the amazing taste explosion in my mouth upon first bite, it was also the warm welcome from the  owners Bernard Chu and Yen Yee that made my Macaron expedition all the more sweet.  Taking from their commercial pastry chef experience (Bernard is an ex-Comme pastry chef and Yen was at Rockpool) they also offer lunch box specials, and apart from their macarons also make an array of beautiful mouth watering cakes and pastries.

(from left) blueberry, lychee, mont blanc, watermelon yoghurt, chocolate & cherry, Kaya toast, Matcha.

In an attempt to prolong the Macaron bliss I couldn’t resist buying a take home pack.  It didn’t take long until I was back for more…

Lux Bites

38 Toorak Road, South Yarra 3141

(03) 9867 5888