Thursday, January 2, 2014

Tivoli Road Bakery

It is the Ex-MoVida Bakery but the reality is that nothing has changed. Same baker from what I understand, same everything.

I've visited the bakery a couple of times, mainly to pick up a coffee and the occasional pastry so I can't say too much about it. I have occasionally snuck in a donut at the Abbotsford Convent Slow Food market when they have a stall there. Their donuts, particularly the fillings, are insanely good. Even for something like $3-4. They are worth it.

Anyway, I did end up sitting down for a coffee and a "dossant" (it's a cronut without the trademark bullshit of calling it a cronut), is exceptional. Yep, big call.

Very much the feel of the Bourke St Bakery in Sydney (right down to how it's almost surrounded by houses), and I think there is some connection between the two. Anyway, the let down of this place is perhaps the service. I can't pin point what it is, hard to say they were rude, but can't say they left that great of an impression either.

But sometimes, you just gotta deal to get a dossant.

Tivoli Road Bakery
3 Tivoli Road, South Yarra

Tivoli Road Bakery on Urbanspoon

Hammer and Tong

Melbourne has quite the reputation of unseasonal, unpredictable and generally unpleasant weather. But sometimes, just sometimes, the skies clear up, the wind quietens down, and the temperature enters the perfect range of the "mid twenties".

It was the week before Christmas that I visited Hammer and Tong, so my account of the experience is slightly hazy. But I do remember sitting near the window and just enjoying my coffee and the delicious weather than Melbourne decided to finally put on. I think this was the day after a horrifyingly hot day so it was the more enjoyable.

After spending the morning sourcing U6 grade prawns which led me to Collingwood, I felt like I was able to justify heading to Hammer and Tong for a recovery breakfast. But blog buddies, tt's worth noting, you do enter via a side street, so keep that in mind. I am however a little surprised I haven't tried it sooner given it is a 5 minute walk from the yoga studio at which I practice.

Anyway I'm digressing. I didn't end up having a great deal, other than a filter coffee (I think it was a pourover) and their corn fritters. Both were fine (great in fact), no better or worse than Dead Man Espresso, Two Birds One Stone, Top Paddock, etc etc (which are all great btw). So you get the drift.

I like this place. It is places like this that makes me love Melbourne.

Hammer and Tong
Rear 412 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Hammer & Tong on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Who would've thought that there would be a place called MEATBALL.

Went to this place after spending a few minutes (minutes) at the Noodle Night Market in Alexandra Gardens last month and  it was really after coming to the conclusion that we weren't going to wait half an hour to eat dumplings or Pho. Honestly. Why?

The name really says it all people. They do meatballs. And damn, do they do them well. I really liked this place, it was fairly casual and cheap. Tried a few sliders, and had a main with a pesto sauce. You really want some greens with all that meat. Seriously, otherwise it's just too much. Too much of a good thing will always still be too much.

Totally love it. 

Meatball & Wine Bar
135 Flinders Lane
Meatball & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Adriano Zumbo - South Yarra

The damn HYPE around this place. The stories of fools queuing up before the crack of dawn and/or driving down from the Victorian border for this place. I'd be doing hot yoga at dawn, not queuing up for macarons.

Well the fit out is in a word, eccentric. I don't see the logic, or theme, or anything really. To me it's just some random shit that is meant to make you to take notice. Or am I that ignorant to not know what it's alluding to? In which case, it worked. You sure do take notice, of the mirrored walls and candied chairs. You'd expect a stratospheric experience at this place given the ridiculous hype, which in all fairness is what drew me to visit in their first week when they had opened ,and it was fairly early in the morning so only a few petit gateaux and tarts were available.

Nevertheless, I tried a croissant, a few macarons, a carrot cake and a lemon meringue.The croissant was fine, no better or worse than some of the artisan croissants available in Melbourne but it was only $3, so quite cheap in my opinion. The macarons were also good, but lets face it, macarons are dying a slow and miserable death. Someone should just put them out of their misery.

Now onto the cakes. The carrot cake and lemon meringue were a disappointment. The carrot cake was a deconstructed carrot cake, with cream cheese mousse of some sort, chocolate disk, dehydrated carrots and a few crumbs of actual carrot cake.The cake was impossible to eat because a) they didn't give me any take away cutlery, and b) the chocolate disk was impenetrable without causing the mousse to collapse out side ways.  Either the chocolate disk was too thick (which is probably the case), or the mousse was too soft. Generally, it was nothing spectacular. Perhaps the carrot cake should have been well, the primary focus, and not a decor.

Now the lemon meringue. I can make a mean lemon meringue, baked, curd, or whatever. I know lemon meringue. Big call? Yes, but that's FACT. Their take on it was a biscuit base, with a dome and some gel, probably a gellan gel or something, because it seemed to "flow" without being too liquid. Overall It was sickly sweet (and I mean sickly sweet). In fact, I couldn't even finish it. How can you screw up a lemon meringue?! Anything with lemon needs to be tart, with a balance of sweetness. Not overpoweringly sweet. Even Pierre Herme's lemon cream which is pretty much lemon flavoured butter still has a tartness to it.

On my second visit their orange petit gateaux also collapsed as soon as I got into the car....which was parked outside. Nice to look at, but what's good a nice looking petit gateaux that can't even survive a walk to the car? I may as well make a mousse and eat it from the bowl. No velvet spray required. 

Despite being underwhelmed by the structure and taste profile of the cakes, they are very very well finished. The glazing is flawless, and decors unique (petit gateaux). The entremets aren't as impressive.

But I probably won't be going back when we have so many other options in Melbourne.

Adriano Zumbo
12-14 Claremont St, South Yarra
Adriano Zumbo Patisserie on Urbanspoon

The Gelato Craze.

It's only been...what?...4 months since my last post?? I suppose it's fitting that I spend my Saturday night catching up. I suppose shit just got in the way.

I don't know if it's just me or what, but when did gelato suddenly become a thing? With places playing with liquid nitrogen, dextrose, maltodextrin and shit like that, it seems like gelato has definitely become something more than "ice cream". Because shit just got technical!

Firstly, N2 Extreme in Fitzroy. It is definitely a great fitout from the freestyle blackboard right down to the fake grass. Texturally, the ice cream is pretty good. If you've ever made ice cream ,  you would know that one of the key goals is to freeze the base as quickly as possible to prevent large ice crystals from forming and by using liquid nitrogen which is at -196°C, it happens pretty damn fast. And lets face it, N2 Extreme is all about the novelty and drama of watching kids throw around liquid nitrogen like it was liquid helium!! (ha ha, you get it?)

The ice cream list on offer isn't massive, and in my opinion could be more sophisticated given the limited range as not all the flavours and components work. For example, cheesecake should be banned from being made into ice cream. Seriously. Banned. And, a liquid ganache filled in a syringe, will solidify if you stick it into the ice cream. It will. Trust me. It will After trying it a few times, I've come to the conclusion that I'm generally ambivalent to the place. It is definitely worth a visit or in my case a re-visit, but only if I was nearby getting Naked for Satan or something.

Gelato Messina Fitzroy.
I'll be the first to admit, I don't know that much about ice cream. Sure I have an ice cream maker than I used...12 months ago but I had to ask what is the difference between gelato and ice cream was so..I lose quite a bit of credibility there. And yes, this is despite buying the Angelo Corvitto book "Los Secretos de Helado, El Helado sin secretos" which is arguably THE technical book on artisan ice cream which I SWORE I would use.........

Anyway, I digress. Back to Gelato Messina. Fuck, it was seriously good gelato. That's really all I have to say. Had the Cremino, Pistachio, Gin and Tonic and some other flavour. I am shaking just from a) the sugar hit, and b) remembering how good the gelato was. And the good thing? you don't have to wait for them to churn on the spot, and honestly, it was texturally just as good.

Get there NOW.


N2 Extreme Gelato
329 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
N2 Extreme Gelato on Urbanspoon

Gelato Messina
237 Smith Street, Fitzroy
Gelato Messina Fitzroy on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 26, 2013

My urban garden....Spring 2013.

My garden is a complete disgrace.

If my garden was your child, you'd disown it. That's how much of a disgrace it is. Weeds. Everywhere. In every garden bed. Weeds.  Not just a few here and there, but a mat, a covering, an entire lawn, that is (was) on the cusp of flowering and going to seed. Luckily I avoided a major catastrophe, and ripped them all out today, because once they go to seed, it's over.

If you haven't figured out by now, I try to grow things organically (except for my use of pyrethrum last year to deal with the aphids), so any use of herbicides is not an option.Just hard labour of ripping out weeds, by hand. Weed by weed. I basically spent the afternoon filling up my green bin with weeds today, and there's still more to do, but I'll see how much impact this round has had.

Other than that, I started my summer plants a few weeks ago, but this year, I'm going to stick to the old faithfuls. No more experimental plants that yield like 3 tomatoes to then have to deal with the heart break of spending 1-1.5hrs a day watering to get a tomato plant that gives me THREE DAMN TOMATOES (I'm talking about you Hillbilly). So I'm going to grow things that give me millions. BILLIONS even.

- Rouge de marmande
- Yellow pear
- Tommy toe
- Brandywine

- Hungarian Yellow
- Some red one that is long and pointy
- Padron peppers (how could I NOT grow Padron Peppers?!)

- Purple striped ones
- Little Fingers

That's it for now, I'll start all my basils and other summery herbs when the weather gets warmer. I decided I'm going to grow mint in an entire garden bed, make it into a weed. Everyone loves mint, if I have too much I'll just have to drink mojitos all summer to use them up.

Anyway, here are some pictures of what I've been growing.

 1 (one) beetoot. Not sure if it is bulls blood or candy stripes. I'll have to just eat it to find out.

 General weekly harvest, of beets, cabbages, kales, chervil (omg, I have so much chervil), chicory, nasturtium, french sorrel, a couple of carrots.
 I really don't know what's happened here, it's a 3 year old swiss chard plant that went to seed, but the main plant stayed alive and now I have a hanging garden of mini swiss chards.

My wasabi plant - grown from seedling approx 12 months ago and is currently in flower. The caterpillars got to the leaves, but otherwise still doing very well. I wonder how I'll propagate the plant...

The summer to come, seedlings. A little later than usual, but there is still hope.

My urban garden

Sunday, August 25, 2013



Was my last post 3 months ago?! In all fairness, I have planned to blog about something for a while, but time has been so so precious.

Let me take you back to May.

I ordered a whole lot of chocolate. I ate it. I decided sugar was not my friend. I decided I needed to do more physical activity to counter my sedentary lifestyle of sitting in front of a computer all day and yes, please don't even highlight that I'm blogging about that very fact, in front of a computer at night.

Anyway, to cut the long story short, I decided to get off my fat ass and changed my routine. 5am starts. 9pm finishes, training twice, three, or even four times a day (not necessarily advisable if unless you're really ready to be crushed).

Kettlebells, Yoga, Pilates, Swimming, Running. It is a miracle that I am in fact alive after such an intense 3 months.

My weekly schedule would consist of:

Yoga - Ashtanga (2x week)
Pilates - (up to 5x a week, reformer - I won't lie, been some of the hardest sessions I've ever had).
Swiming - (up to 2x week, 2 km per swim)
Running - (1x week, when my knee doesn't decide to cave in, 10km)
Kettlebells (2x week, 2 x 30min HIIT sessions with a PT)

So, that is where I have been.

On top of that, meticulous food preparation. No matter what people tell you, it's not fun people. It is NOT FUN preparing breakfasts, lunches, dinners that, let's face it, isn't that appetizing when it's meant to be "clean food". What does "clean food" even mean?? Well it means basically nothing delicious.

Right now, I really just want a fucking burger to calm my nerves.

Anyway I digress,  at about 12 weeks I decided to get some metrics because I'm that much of a nerd that I don't believe in mindlessly exercising and eating clean without some hard, scientific evidence. None of this tape measurement or scale stuff, I decided to go straight to get a DEXA scan. The most accurate way to measure your body compositions such as body fat, lean mass, and bone density. To cut the long story short,I am still basically fat, need more muscle and am borderline osteo. No jokes. That is the literal truth and I'm not even exaggerating. Ok, I'm exaggerating a little, but I still have some way to go. (~80,000kJ).

Week 15 over. 3 more weeks, and I'll go in for another scan to see if I've improved.

Anyway, back to eating chicken, and grass for another 11 weeks - I'm aiming for 26 weeks and then I'm eating a whole fucking cake. Not a bite, slither, or slice, but an entire cake.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Chocolate bars - chuao, porcelana.

I have a confession. I'm a guy who has a cake and chocolate addiction. Judge me if you will, but like coffee, chocolate is not just "dark, milk, and white" - there's a new type called "blond" from Valrhona. There's different cocoa cultivars, regions, estates, plantations. Unlike coffee however, the bean to bar space in chocolate is still fairly young, but single origin chocolates are become more and more popular, with the pointier end offerings that include single estates - such as the Chuao, then there are specific beans like Porcelana.

Over the last few weeks I ordered a number of different varieties online, with bigger bags of valrhona (manjari, guanaja, dulcey, get the idea) for moulding chocolates and smaller bars of amedei, pralus, michel cluizel well for eating.

So today, the bars.

Amedei - Chuao
Amedei - Porcelana
Pralus - Chuao

Amedei are seriously famous for their chuao and porcelana bars, possibly some of the best chocolate available in the world. Chuao (the region) has been labelled as one of the best region for cocoa (of the Crillio variety, which at one time, was exclusive to Amedei). After reading up on their chocolates a bit more, Amedei are in my opinion revolutionary. Active at origin, they have made the the pure strains of crillio beans available to well, the world. Porcelana, being one of the purest strains of Crillio is only made in small quantities, is highly prized and made in extremely limited quantities, the packaging (which is hand numbered by the way), indicates that only 20,000 bars are made per year. So yes, it is something special. It also comes at a special price, anywhere between $15-21 per 50g bar. It is seriously expensive. Like seriously expensive. So make no mistake, I had high expectations.

I wanted to compare the Amedei Chuao with another producer to see whether there were material differences despite its identical origin. So I'll be comparing it with the Pralus.

Pralus - Chuao
First thing you notice is how smooth this chocolate is. Incredibly smooth, the mouth can only detect particle sizes of 30-50microns, and really good chocolate when conched for long enough, can be below detectable limits. This one just melts, like butter, which perhaps suggests a higher cocoa butter content to cocoa mass. This bar, overall, was quite mild, with vanilla and floral notes dominating with only a light acidity.

Amedei - Chuao
Unlike the Pralus, it isn't as smooth, but the flavour profile is more complex. Strong acidity, and incredibly long finish. The hallmark of a really good chocolate is how complex it is, generally devoid of a monotonous and uniform flavour profile as it melts and changes in your mouth. I won't go into describing all the notes (because I don't know how). But a very enjoyable chocolate, despite a slight graininess.

Amedei - Porcelana
Ok. There is a reason why this chocolate has such a reputation (and a wikipedia page devoted to it - anything on wikipedia must be FACT and FAMOUS). The old adage, you get what you pay for, holds true in this case. Basically, unbelievably nice chocolate to eat. Balanced acidity and smoother mouth feel than the chuao with a very complex flavour profile. Long finish. This one is not one to just eat in the car..

When eaten side by side, there is no doubt the porcelana is the winner. Despite the fact that each of the bars have their own strengths, the finish of the porcelana is something that leaves an overwhelming sense of wanting more. The deep complexity of this chocolate that won't polarise people, with balanced acidity, strong aromatic notes threaded with the right amount of sweetness, it is what you really want a chocolate to be. At 70%, you'd expect some noted bitterness, but the balance and harmony of the overall flavour profile ensures the hallmark bitterness of some dark chocolates to fade into the background, with a finish that is long, satisfying and certainly complex.

The Porcelana is a very expensive chocolate, but it will be worth every cent.

Oh, and here are some moulded chocolates I also made with my Valrhona Guanja. Quite a bitter 70%, so a bit strong for the fillings, but still DELICIOUS!!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Little Hunter

Holy toledo, how long ago did I visit this place?! Anyway, I'm blogging about it now.

Well there sure has been some hype about this place even before it opened. Some hype indeed. Maybe it's because the guy heading up this place used to work at the Fat Duck, or because the other owner is on MKR, who knows. I sure didn't see any activated almonds on the menu. I totally would've ordered them. You know I would.

Anyway, located beneath the St Georges building on Little Collins, the entrance is as discreet as it gets, no significant signage, down some stairs into a bunker space. We followed other people and hoped they knew where they were going. They did.

Truth be told, I really only wanted to try Little Hunter because of its name. It's a cool name don't you think? Or not.....

This place is not for vegetarians. So beware blog buddies. If you're a vegetarian, this place may not be for you, as almost everything has a meat component, even the bread. It started off with a baked pull apart mini loaf, herby and delicious (and was unashamedly white white white - let's face it, no one likes to admit it, but white bread didn't survive this long because it tasted bad). Oh, don't forget the chicken skin butter. CHICKEN SKIN BUTTER.

This place is also not for the dieter. So beware blog buddies. If you're watching your calories, this place may not be for you.

We started with the "crackling" and watermelon salad. The crackling was interesting, it was "puffed" rather than the classic rendition of crackling. So it was almost like eating crisps...but well, not quite crisps.  It was fine, but after a few servings, you do get sick of it.The watermelon salad was excellent, the creamy goat cheese and refreshing watermelon. I loved this dish.

For mains, I had spatchcock and my buddy had the lamb...I think. The chicken was good, but it wasn't incredible, it was solidly cooked and not sandpaper dry. Perhaps it was a long day for me when I dined there, as I ultimately found it difficult to stomach all that meat. We also ordered a side of fries and yams. The fries were really more like 7 fries or something (realistically, it was 1 potato), tasty, but really you didn't get into double digits with the number of fries served. This was a bit of a disappointment, when you order fries, there should be a sense of abundance.  The yams were sweet potatoes...and was quite nice...but why not call them sweet potatoes?!

We finished with the licorice ice cream and the frangipane with passionfruit curd. The licorice ice cream was delicious with the only "minor complaint" was that it was quite sweet. I make ice cream with my ice cream machine regularly (ok, I made like 10 batches in 2 weeks and then nothing afterwards since), so I'd like to think I know what I'm on about...and I really think it could've done with less sugar or something that isn't as sweet as sucrose. But then again, a minor eat ice cream well because it's meant to be sweet, so perhaps I'm just complaining because it's fun.

The passionfruit curd component of the frangipane dessert was excellent and incredibly smooth, I love passionfruit curd - did you know that? Well you do now. I love love love passionfruit curd. Even though there was really only a small amount of it on the dish, I'd order it just for the curd.

Overall, the main disappointment of the night were our seats, we were seated at the bar despite arriving for a 6pm session, and well, it wasn't very comfortable. It was fine for a few drinks, but after a couple of hours, we were ready to leave. Honestly, fix your damn bar stools.

Notwithstanding that issue, the food is generally good, service good, and if you were to eat here you would generally be satisfied. It won't change your life, but then again, it's a fairly new restaurant so perhaps it'll find its groove later down the track.

Little Hunter
"Down the stairs", 195 Little Collins St
Melbourne, CBD

Little Hunter on Urbanspoon