Foodiefile

Independant Foodie reviews from Melbourne

A Melbourne Foodie in Sydney – Part 5 – Sydney Fish Market July 18, 2010

Filed under: Places to Visit,Travel — foodiefile @ 6:36 pm
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A 6:55am start on the last day of your holiday – needing to check out of your hotel and get to the Sydney fish markets by this time seems slightly stupid, but I have never been well renowned for my smarts!

So off the light rail from Chinatown in the dark, there are 20 people joining this tour through the fish market. A popular tour, the groups was also varied on their interests as well as nationality – there were a number of overseas tourists on our group.
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So – meeting outside in the main auction hall, the tour guide speaks of sustainability, policing, policy and further details about the market. Did you know that the Sydney Fish Market is the 2nd largest in the world, with only Japan being largest!

We walk past the amazing cooking school they have at the market to view the floor. Its cold, but there is plenty of fish!!!
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I guess the most amazing fish was the sashimi grade tuna and kingfish – huge fish with the highest quality… Also amazing to learn what actually makes a sashimi grade fish aside from just the actual fish itself.
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A highly recommended tour for anyone with an interest in fish, and at only $20 it was an absolute bargain.

I was, however, a little disappointed with the fish on sale in the public area of the market. There were plenty of different varieties of oysters, but after seeing markets in Paris and London – they shat all over this market.
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I decided to have a seafood platter for breakfast… The smaller of the ones available was all deep fried goodness… Even the larger ones were all tourist style, turn the seafood into something portable and edible – which in most cases included deep frying or Mornay sauce… very disappointing, but it didn’t stop me eating it!!! It is a shame there wasn’t a sashimi/sushi bar, or at least metal cutlery, rather than cheap plastic cutlery…
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Although I will be back – and the tour was amazing – the food was poor. Thankyou Sydney – it was fun, and see you next visit!!!

Sydney Fish Markets
Tours : 02 9004 1143
website : www.sydneyfishmarket.com.au

 

A Melbourne Foodie in Sydney – Part 4 – Woollahra

Filed under: Places to Visit,Shopping!,Travel — foodiefile @ 4:25 pm
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Walking down the hill from Surry Hills and Paddington towards Woollahra you feel the price of everything from a coffee to a house rising sharply… From expensive Paddington to opulent Woollahra, this area offers many foodie haunts if you have money to spend…

Walking down Queen Street Simon Johnson sits on the right hand corner surrounded by expensive linen purveyors and antique stores… It is a tranquil and stylish area. This first shop restaurant I notice is Bistro Moncur – although on this trip I didn’t have the opportunity to fine there, I will definitely be visiting next time to experience some of Damien Pignolet amazing food.

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Victor Churchill has always been, from afar, THE butcher I would like to have as my own. Upon visiting the store, the format is intimidating and slightly scary, with large glass rooms with butchers cutting carcasses up like animals in cages performing for you. I understand the glass for hygiene – and you can walk in there, if you dare. This store is opulent and expensive… A fantastic spot to go for that slice of rare breed beef at $75 for a serving for 2 people, and amazing charcuterie and sausages, but this store is out of my price range…
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Around the corner from Queen Street, The Donna Hay General store presents itself as a small, visually splendid store. Although a little difficult to find, this offering is well worth the hunt.

I will be honest, I have never been a very big fan of Donna Hay – I thought she was always just a pretty girl that every desperate housewife tried to intimidate and follow her cookbooks as bibles, although I rarely found the recipes in her cookbooks to my liking. I now realise that I misunderstood Donna. She is a Food Stylist – she makes EVERYTHING look pretty – but isn’t necessarily the most accomplished chef or cook book writer – but by god – she makes things pretty!!
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Walking in the shop smells of baking cupcakes – they’re in the oven up the back! Full of fresh clean styles, I loved many things in this store. Plenty of handmade accents and vintage styles, I believe the photo’s speak for themselves.

The staff were amazing – attentive and friendly and the complete opposite of Fratelli Fresh – They offered for me to take photos if I liked and assisted me with any questions I had to ask. I thought it was really great to see that Donna – as busy as she is – obviously has a large hand in this part of her empire. Donna – if you read this – you should definitely consider a store in Melbourne – although you can purchase a limited range in David Jones Food Halls – they had nothing on this cute little store…
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Coming next — Sydney Fish Markets!!!

 

A Melbourne Foodie in Sydney – Part 3 – Surry Hills and Waterloo

Filed under: Places to Visit,Restaurant Reviews,Travel — foodiefile @ 3:37 pm
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Part 3 of my trip to Sydney, not forgetting a trip with a shocker of a cold… I had to at least breeze past the windows of foodie mecca’s I would have loved to visit if I had actually any taste buds…

Starting from Oxford street I started a walking tour of restaurants I would want to visit… Walking down Crown street, Billy Kwong, Marque and Bills Food form an impressive trio in what would otherwise be a very boring and ordinary building.

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Billy Kwong was closed for lunch, but impressive to at least wander past, and I pulled up for brunch at Bills Food. As much as I find Bill Granger intolerable as a TV Chef, (he smiles way too much) his simple recipes and food are amazing. I was amazed that his brunch menu, however, was so focused on carbohydrate and very little protein. I sat down to Toasted Apple, dried cherry and almond loaf with fresh ricotta and a coffee. Well toasted, sweet bread with a perfect combination of textures and flavours, and the ricotta with honey gave that little bit of sour and sweet that the bread needed to not be too dry. The only downside was that the toast was served on a serviette, which I have never really understood, as I never like wiping my hand with a slightly damp, warm serviette.
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I would go back to bills in 5 seconds, however the clientele was quite right wing and conservative and as it was a Tuesday morning, the majority of people were either ladies who lunch or business men. Bill Grangers new cookbook – “Bill’s Basics” is also about to be released – pre order it here

Bills Food
359 Crown Street
Surry Hills NSW
02 9360 4762
Website

Next on my walking tour – Fratelli Fresh in Danks Street, Waterloo. Just down the road from the Danks Street Depot, it is a warehouse style shop, similar to many shops in Melbourne.
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I walked into this warehouse, which was poorly signposted with forklifts gliding through. Not only did I think I was in the wrong place, I was concerned for my safety! After asking someone where it was, I was told it was down the back of the warehouse! (Why not the front??). As soon as I walked in, rather than being presented with a “Hello” or “Welcome” the girl that seemed to be the manager on duty just came over and clearly said “We are a no photo premises”.

I felt majorly unwelcome. So suffice to say, I don’t have any photo’s, nor a good experience from Fratelli Fresh. The store was average – most things I can usually buy from other shops in Melbourne with the only stand outs in Finger Limes and Clementine Mandarins. Whilst this store showed so much promise, I could not believe they would be so rude to a prospective customer as soon as they walked in the store!

Fratelli Fresh
7 Danks Street
Waterloo
Website

I moved on quickly from this poor experience up Bourke street to one of my Mecca visits – The Bourke Street Bakery!
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Whilst Bourke Street Bakery is one of the smallest shopfronts I have ever seen for a bakery, I opted for two tartlets – the Rhubarb and Almond Tart ($4.00), and the Strawberry Crème Brulee tart ($4.40). Both tats were amazing, but the stand out was the Crème Brulee tart was absolutely amazing, with a hard crusty top and a delicate filling – worth every single penny! See my previous review of the Bourke Street Bakery Cook book here and you can buy the cookbook here at a bargain price
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Bourke Street Bakery
Bourke Street
Waterloo

Next blog… my travels in Woollahra…

 

A Melbourne Foodie in Sydney – Part 2 – The Powerhouse Museum May 29, 2010

Filed under: Places to Visit,Travel — foodiefile @ 6:38 pm
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I would not normally post a review of a visit to a museum, but as a testament to my obsession with food, I look everywhere for something that may catch my eye and make me chuckle.

The powerhouse museum has a fantastic range of Decorative Art objects, including a strong collection of Marc Newson and Alessi design. Their 1980’s exhibition bought back memories of my childhood including Cabbage Patch Dolls, Sylvania Families and even outfits of Boy George.

A few of my favourite items included marvellous pottery, as below.

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Splayds! I loved splayds when I was a kid – we had 2 different sizes, but I had never seen a serving sized splayd!

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And when I saw these amazing tea cosies, I thought of one of my favourite food bloggers (and knitter extraordinaire, Mardi Nowak)… I really would love one of these, and must hunt out a knitting pattern!!!

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The Echuca tomato festival that was, or wasn’t, part of the Melbourne Food and Wine festival. March 21, 2010

Filed under: Places to Visit,Shopping!,Travel — foodiefile @ 7:52 pm

I get excited by the prospect of a country drive on the prospect of food, wine and a little shopping. We packed the car early so we could drive via SPC at Shepparton so we left about 7am, and took the drive up.

We arrived at Echuca for the tomato festival at about midday – Its starting time. We arrived to be a little disappointed.
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The Melbourne food and wine festival website touted the event to be:

“If you’ve heard about Spain’s tomato festival you’ll have an idea of what’s planned a fun celebration of one of Australia’s largest tomato growing regions, including sugo making, the great tomato bash and a tomato target celebrity challenge. Plus an extraordinary variety of cuisine, including pork sausages handmade locally, and regional wines that will confirm what a great winegrowing region we have here on the Murray.”

Now my idea of the term “Extraordinary variety of cuisine” would need to include more than two dishes – they were a sausage or Gnocchi Napolitana. La Tomatina in Spain is a free for all and a celebration of tomato and food. Echuca’s festival consisted of 3 stands and a busker. The 3 stands included some chefs hanging out with their mates making sugo, a food stand with the afore mentioned, and three wineries selling glasses of wine for $5. The busker was ok.
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Suffice to say, we spent about 5 minutes at the festival and decided to make a move somewhere more foodie.

After a drive through some antique shops, we arrived in Heathcote.

We found a little slice of foodie heaven in Heathcote with Cellar and Store. We were warmly greeted by the wonderful staff and perused some amazing foodie items that just tempted me to part with my cash… These delicacies included Spanish olive oil torta’s – the sweet ones are wonderful on their own or with chocolate mousse, the savoury ones are amazing with cheese. There was a good range of olive oils and amazing locally made cheese boards.
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The wine store stocks some of the best local wines – the finest range of Heathcote shiraz I have found, including some wines I have not heard of. Prices vary from reasonable to expensive – but usually with wine you get what you pay for. There are always tastings available of a selection of stocked wines and the lovely lady who looked after us (I think her name was Rachael) really knew what she was talking about even though she pleaded that she didn’t know much!!

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We sat in the lovely alfresco area out the back surrounded by some lovely drought friendly plants and enjoyed a coffee and meringue. These were the finest meringue’s I have ever had – they were soft and gooey and perfectly ugly! And they take orders over the internet too!! So if you are looking for that perfect Heathcote wine – check them out!!!

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I will be back in a second to this lovely store of foodie heaven when I next pass!!!

There are, of course, different standards of wine store in Heathcote as well for you to get your Heathcote Shiraz fix – the bank is a great stop for a quaffer, and they even had 2004 Shiraz for only $10 a bottle when we visited (I had to buy a case, and am drinking some as we write!)

Cellar and Store
http://www.cellarandstore.com.au/
105 High St. Heathcote Vic 3523
Tel  03 5433 2204
Open 7 days per week 10 – 5.30

The Bank Cellar Door
http://www.bankcellardoor.com.au/
129 High St. Heathcote Vic 3523
Tel 03 5433 2662
Open 7 days per week 10 – 5.00

 

Heirloom Vegies (my favourite kind) and Heronswood! March 8, 2010

Filed under: Places to Visit,Travel — foodiefile @ 7:18 pm
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One of my favourite gardens in Melbourne is Heronswood in Dromana. Part of the Diggers Club – the producer of the largest range of Heirloom Plants in Australia. Their headquarters are in beautiful seaside surroundings in Dromana and with one of the most marvellous vegetable gardens in Victoria.

The gardens are free for members of the Diggers club, and $10 for general public to view the gardens. There is a cafe onsite, and the Heritage listed house is open to all on open days… if you decide to go, make sure you are prepared for a crowd as this place is popular!

Let start with the gardens…

On entry to the property, there is a wonderful nursery store (more later on that) and then you plunge into the beautiful garden next to a marvellous house, with bay views and marvellous plants.


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The Diggers website lists Heronswood (the house) as;

“The first law professor at Melbourne University, William Hearn, employed Edward Latrobe Bateman to design Heronswood house in 1866. The property’s name was probably derived from Hearn’s family motto, the heron seeks the height, or his family crest, on a mount vert, a heron. Or it could be a contraction of ‘Hearn’s wood’.

Justice Higgins, a Federal Attorney General, was the third owner. He wrote the harvester judgement, which formed the basis of our arbitration system at Heronswood.

The architectural style of the house has been called Gothic Revival. It is made from coursed, squared granite blocks quarried at Arthur’s Seat. The windows, doors and corners are dressed with limestone from the southern end of the peninsula. It features many medieval-inspired elements such as the bell-cast roofs covered in Welsh slate, pointed lancet windows, and buttressing on the front porch. This is in sharp contrast to the elegant symmetry of the neoclassical style seen in buildings like Werribee Park (1876). Each room of Heronswood has its own high-pitched roof, lending the house the imposing air of a castle. But it was conceived primarily as a family home and inside it is quite intimate.”

The gardens are made up of 5 vegetable gardens with other ordered gardens of heirloom flowers and plants with vistas of Port Phillip Bay.
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The Grape Vine tunnel has hanging pitcher plants throughout the canopy to control pests.
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Red Silver beet is one of my favourite vegetables, and below is one of my favourite recipes I learnt from a restaurant I worked in years ago:

Italian stir fried Chard

A bunch of Silver beet or Chard (depending what you call it)
3 cloves of garlic (or two if you like more – personal taste)
4 anchovies
oil and butter

In a hot pan heat a good sized knob of butter with a good dash of olive oil. Heat until very hot, and then add the garlic and the anchovies – the key is that you want to dissolve the anchovies and burn the garlic just a little bit.  This burn is very important, it adds the flavour to the beet/chard that you need for this to work.

Once it is slightly burnt, add the cleaned and chopped silver beet and toss until just cooked. You may add more butter or oil to taste.

Serve immediately – is lovely as a side with Salmon or red meat.
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I never, in my years, have seen a climbing spinach the young leaves of this spinach can be eaten in a salad, and the older leaves can be steamed to softness. A great plant, and has a great look – I may climb it up the side of my house!
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The test garden is where Diggers Club tests new heirloom varieties to see whether they are suitable for the Australian climate. Here there were carrots, varied pumpkins, corn and tomatoes to name a few, in raised beds, ideal sizes for most backyards. Everything looked so healthy!

Pears and Apples were trained like grape vines, and appeared to be happily fruiting in these positions. May be a great idea for those who want to grow fruit trees, but don’t have the space to grow them!
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Giant Zucchini hung under a trellised vine – a friend is growing this variety and they are massive, but taste great! The largest of the fruit was over 50 cm long!
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The garden shop has an amazing array of seeds available to both the public and members – members receive an attractive discount on everything in store. I bought some seeds – Broad beans, French Breakfast Radishes (the same ones pictured in my Paris pictures), Red and Yellow Silver beet and Parsnips. I planted the Broad beans and the Silver beet a week ago, and the Silver beet would have shown 95 – 100% strike rate and were visible in a matter of days! As were the radishes! The seeds are amazingly fresh!

Also available are a great range of books and garden implements, including peat pots and seed propagation equipment.

Outside are amazingly healthy looking plants, 3 varieties of olives, all showing fruit on a “seedling”, Dragon fruit, Lemonade trees and a full range of seedlings at VERY reasonable prices – the olive trees were about $12.00 each for members (next time I am buying some to put in pots!)
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I recommend a visit to Heronswood, or their partner garden St Erths in Blackwood. Both have gardens stores and magnificent gardens!

Membership is not expensive and full details can be found at the Diggers Website. Seeds and Plants can be posted all over Australia in most cases too! So check out their website if you are not from Victoria!
Heronswood
105 Latrobe Parade, Dromana.
Open every day from 9am – 5pm
Phone: (03) 5984 7321

St Erths
Simmons Reef Road, Blackwood.
Open every day (except December 24-26) 9am – 5pm
Phone: (03) 5368 6514

The diggers club can be found at http://www.diggers.com.au where you can access details of all membership details, locations and they even run workshops and courses!!!
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Memories of a colder climate… February 8, 2010

Filed under: Shopping!,Travel — foodiefile @ 7:44 pm
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I live in a house without air conditioning… a frightful experience in high summer in Melbourne… and I am a winter kid.. i love my gloves, i love my scarves, i love my jumpers, and due to my love of food, i like to cover my hair ridden body as much as i can…

The heat in Melbourne is causing me to dream of a time when i was in a colder climate – January last year i spent a week in cold, frost ridden paris – a marvelous experience that I would live in 5 seconds again…

So, i decided to share some food from Paris… No generic sights of Paris, no Eiffel tower, No Louvre, just fantastic food, and note – none of these photo’s have been adjusted – the Colours are natural, and it makes me realise that fresh food here in Australia is either less ridden in chemicals, or just not as good!

Please ignore the cowering Australian lady in the foreground, this street market was just around the corner from the Arc Du Triomphe – not on the usual tourist trail (there was a big fist fight on the train on the way here, to which the cowering Australian lady in the foreground was a little un-trusting of where this “experimental” tourist was taking her, but worth EVERY second…. and you will see why…

I don’t think i have ever seen Rotisserie chooks out in the street before – the smell was…. alluring to say the least…

Clementine’s became my new favorite fruit… how could they not when they are so beautifully wrapped individually… not to mention they taste AMAZING!!! They are a member of the mandarin family, but are a little more like an orange, are intensely sweet and pip-less… i wish i could get them here….. am trying to source a tree so i can grow my own!!

If you think these scallops look three times larger than those available here in Australia, you would be correct!

A little bit of HOOF anyone?

Freshly made Paella – amazing looking AND smelling

The prawns at the back were about 5 times the size of the biggest Aussie prawns i have seen… and that many Sea Urchins!

Not just oysters, but a choice of 4 varieties…

One of my favourite dishes is either Terrine or Pate en Crout. Nothing here disappointed!

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There was the most amazing array of bakers, cheese shops and grocers, and EVERYTHING not only looked rabidly expensive, but as fresh as fresh… and despite what Australian bakers tell you – French baguette’s taste SO much better!

The strangest looking Zuchinni / Courgette’s i have ever seen!

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and now onto some shopping porn… I really want to watch Trish Deseine’s “Trish’s Paris Kitchen” again just to get puddles about the shops in Paris… well here are some…

Oh the chocolate, and I am not normally a fan of pink, but THE PINK!!! This is Fauchon – one of the most exclusive and expensive food shops in Paris… you can visit them too at

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I must admit i did buy some things from Fauchon – the most incredible Wasabi Moutarde, and some phenomonal Duck Liver Pate – i still have one tiny tin left, and am savouring it for a special occasion…

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If you think these meringue’s look like the size of a small cat – you would be correct!

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I miss the food of Paris, and I am sure that provincial france is even better, but its a matter of saving pennies – France was one of the most expensive places I have ever been – Even a flat white was costing AUD$9.00 while we were there!

But I recommend to anyone to visit – it was an amazing experience – and the coffee (versus London and Ireland) was bloody marvelous… Keep tunes for London and England next…..

Matt

xoxo