Monday, November 30, 2015

Katarina Zrinski, Footscray by Foghorn Leghorn

Before Footscray was Vietnamese, it was Croatian, and before that it was Polish. The Polish presence is today marked only by the cryptically named Millennium House*. The Croats, by contrast, have the unambiguously named Hrvatski Dom, or Croatian House, proudly displaying the chequer-board red and white Croatian coat of arms. Inside Croatian House is the Katarina Zrinski restaurant. On All Saints' Day, I paid a visit for Sunday lunch, together with Big Fil, Snooze and Mrs Leghorn.

A noticeable thing about the restaurant is the natural light and spacious interior. I've been to many ethnic clubs, and generally they're somewhere between cosy and dingy. Croatian House was renovated in 2006, and evidently it was done with ample funds and a bit of thought. The floor-to-ceiling glass wall gives the room a pleasant feel, and the outdoor terrace is a nice spot for a drink. When we visited, the restaurant was a quarter to a half full. It’s a fairly big space, so that would be 30 or 40 people.

The menu has a range of Croatian dishes, plus some Aussie bistro standards for those who aren't ethnically inclined. With four of us willing to share, we were able to sample most of the Croatian offering.

Katarina Zrinski, Footscray, chicken soup
Mrs Leghorn kicked off with a chicken soup, explaining that it's her ethnic custom (Mrs Leghorn hails from Prague) to start lunch with soup, no matter what the weather. Happily, it was good soup weather, and the soup was just as chicken soup should be, with a nice yellow colour and strong chicken aroma. Mrs Leghorn claimed to detect some Podravka undertone, Podravka being a popular Croatian brand of stock cubes and other things. If there was any, it didn't detract from the flavour.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Little Bridge Cafe, Richmond by Bureaucrat

Medical appointments are never fun.  However, the upside of going to the doctors (at least for me), is that it's an excuse to have lunch at a nearby restaurant or cafe - which is how we came across Little Bridge Cafe.  True to its name, the cafe is little.  But, golly, it packs a punch when it comes to its glorious middle-Eastern influenced cafe menu.

Little Bridge Cafe, Bridge Road
When you're greeted with this amazing bounty, you just know you're onto a good thing.  Everything is made on site - the bouncy doughnuts, custard tarts, muffins and baklava-y sweets.  Also on offer are soups of the day and these delicious, moreish savoury flat breads.  Little Bridge Cafe seems quite popular among the local workers, residents and even the boys in blue come in for a coffee and snack.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

12's Cafe, Hawthorn East (by invitation) by Obelix

12's Cafe is a new addition in the Camberwell Rivoli precinct.  Owner Jack Kwan opened in September 2015 with the concept of fusing traditional Chinese BBQ (think roast duck, roast pork) with modern Australian cuisine.  "Fusion without the confusion", is what Jack calls it and it he has nailed that well.  He spent a Sabbatical in Hong Kong learning the BBQ meat techniques and has brought that back to fit in with on trend Australia food culture.

We were offered a sample from the menu and it was exciting as there is nothing quite like 12's Cafe in the Camberwell surrounds.   The menu is a mix of sharing plates, brioches, beautifully plated-up mains.  So the following photos show miniature versions of what's on the menu.

12's cafe;  tapas;  canapes;  camberwell
First up, we were treated to a selection of nibblies which would serve well over Happy Hour or over a couple of beers in the jaw droppingly amazing Beer Garden.  (Yes! There's a Beer Garden - quite a fancy one at that but more on that later).

Monday, November 23, 2015

Rosella's 120th birthday (by invitation)

Iconic Aussie products that are Australian owned and Australian grown are a rare breed nowadays. Having grown up with bottles of Rosella Tomato Sauce in the pantry, the Eat And Be Merry Crew were chuffed to be invited to help celebrate Rosella's 120th birthday last week.  It was a celebration that was steeped in Rosella's rich history.  We toasted to Rosella in Cremorne, right opposite its original factories (which were operated from 1905).

Rosella, 120th birthday, tomato sauce
What started out as a backyard-operation in Carlton has become a much-loved Aussie brand.  Having said that, it's been a bumpy ride over the 120 years, with Rosella changing owners several times and was even at the brink of receivership.  However, in 2013, Australian company Sabrands bought Rosella and decided to take the company back to its roots.  Since then, Rosella stopped importing tomatoes from overseas and only uses home-grown ingredients, most of which are grown in Victoria.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Pho Minh Long, Mitcham by Obelix

My sister and I tried out a new yoga studio in Mitcham not long ago and walking out completely zen-like we hit Maroondah Highway and noted a waft of wok breath emanating from Pho Minh Long from across a six lane (plus two service lane) Highway.  Surely that is a good sign of good food being cooked, we pondered?  So we checked it out.  Pho Minh Long was doing a steady trade already just shy of noon.  

noodles, seafood, pho minh long, vietnamese food, mitcham
I ordered the seafood combination with rice noodles.  The serving was pleasingly huge and the wok breath?  Really prominent.  That is some good noodles.  I also liked the fact the fish fillet bits in the noodles were deep fried then incorporated into the veggie mix.  It made it so much more tastier than some slippery flaccid bit of white fish flesh one sometimes gets.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

BonBons Bakery, Burwood East by Bureaucrat

Alliteration aside, it seems these days that no matter where you go, there's an Asian style bakery, for example, Bread Top or Bread Kingdom.  While all of these bakeries offer a similar range of products, not all are of equal quality.  BonBons Bakery is yet another Asian style bakery chain.  And having sampled a few of their baked goods, I have to say, it's now my go-to place when I'm in the mood for a Swiss roll or pineapple bun.  I usually go to the one inside Burwood shopping centre.  This one seems to have a smaller range than, say, its counterpart inside Chadstone shopping centre.  Nonetheless, there's enough of a selection to tempt me to pick up a few goodies for an afternoon treat.  

BonBons Bakery, doughnut, cream bun
The simple but fluffy and nicely doughy cinnamon doughnut was delish.  It wasn't too oily or greasy on the fingers.  It wasn't dry on the inside and was pleasantly chewy (I loathe doughnuts that are as hard as a camp-fired damper).  The fresh cream bun was equally delish.  The slightly sweet soft bread  had a nice cream-to-bread ratio.  Lovely with a big cup of tea.