Friday, February 12, 2016

Kitchen Garden Project - Celebration Lunch (by invitation)

The Green at St Columbs is more than a great cafe.  It's a social enterprise that helps unemployed people acquire new marketable skills and fosters community involvement too.  Run by the Jesuit Social Services, the Kitchen Garden Project is centered on providing hands-on hospitality training and also gardening skills to boot.

Earlier this week, Mother Hen and I were very honoured to be invited to help celebrate the graduation of six of the 47 Kitchen Garden Project participants.  The celebration lunch was also a valuable opportunity for the graduates to further bolster their hospitality credentials on their resumes.

The Green at St Columbs, Kitchen Garden Project, sunflower seeds
It wouldn't be a Kitchen Garden Project celebration lunch if it didn't feature the fruits of the graduates' labour (literally!).  Ninety-nine percent of all the fruit, veg, eggs, seeds and edible flowers that featured on the celebration lunch menu came from the Kitchen Garden.  To kick things off, we had these crispy salt-roasted sunflower seeds as pre-lunch nibbles.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Merchant Lane, Mornington by Benny

Melbourne … Summer … Beach … Sand too hot for bare feet. These are my childhood memories, and they are constant through the generations. In 50 years’ time, today’s children will have the same fond recollections.

But change is inevitable. On the plus side of the ledger: the food is so much better: more imaginative, better prepared, better presented, inspired by the cuisines of the world and even reaching seaside towns miles distant from the foodie havens of Melbourne. While the traditional beachside feast of fish and chips is vastly improved and still very welcome, searching for the delightfully unexpected can be well rewarded.

Soft shell crab 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Thi Thi, Springvale by Obelix

I get ever so excited when I rediscover a ol' favourite and it turns out to be more wonderful than my memory of it.  Case in point, Thi Thi.  P used to go there as an impoverished uni student for his "number 21" which so happens to be pork chop with broken rice.  Thi Thi apparently served the cheapest broken rice down the Springvale strip, according to P's research way back when.  In fact, he never took any note of the name of this establishment, always referring to it as "Number 21" after his usual order.  So fast forward 20 years and a middle-aged P dragged me and Kiddo back down memory lane.

We found the place and I dimly recall him taking me there many moons ago.  This time, we made note of the name of the place.  We sat down on the Formica tables and were greeted by very friendly service.

pho, springvale, seafood, pescatarian
Kiddo ordered this amazing looking seafood pho.  It came with a homemade looking prawn cracker embedded with a wee prawn.  I was so thrilled by it that the waiter came back with a small bowl full of the prawn crackers just for me!  I felt special!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Nipa Hut, Mitcham by Bureaucrat

For a late Sunday lunch on Mitcham shopping strip means that sometimes you gotta make do with what's available to you.  Faced with a choice of a plastic sandwich roll from how-on-Earth-can-this-be-called-bread Subway and Nipa Hut, a Thai/Filipino eatery, the decision was easy.  A cheerful mom and pop shop, Nipa Hut has more than its fair share of local fans getting takeaway and dining in.

Nipa Hut, Mitcham, vegetarian, pad thai
With less than 30 minutes to have lunch, Beaker and I opted for takeaway, which we wolfed down standing in the street, while waiting for our ride from friends.  Beaker ordered the vegetarian pad Thai ($12.90) which was loaded with lots of crisp vegs, tofu and egg.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Malacca Straits on Broadway, Ultimo (NSW) by Benny

A business trip to the University of Technology, Sydney takes us to a suburb of Sydney that is largely unfamiliar – Chippendale. Turns out we are not too far from Sydney’s Chinatown, but in the best Eat and Be Merry tradition, we have high hopes of finding lesser known gems. Bilby Blue has been busy online and finds a likely prospect – Malacca Straits on Broadway.

We find Malacca Straits just inside a short arcade off Broadway leading to a modern open courtyard in the Quadrant Building. The restaurant is decorated with a hodge-podge of items seemingly gathered from antique/junk shops, maybe attempting to evoke the old-world charm of the Malaysian trading port of Malacca. It is not entirely successful.

More promising is the menu. Bilby has visited Malaysia many times and loves authentic Malaysian food. After a quick discussion we choose three dishes (Bilby is hungry): fish head curry (a traditional Malaysian favourite); Ayam Percik Keletan, (grilled chicken with salad); and a side dish of Kangkung Belacan (water spinach), accompanied by steamed rice.

Malacca Straits on Broadway, Sydney, kang kung
First to arrive is the kangkung: a larger than expected plate, stir fried with still-crunchy stems and a good amount of belachan spice and chilli. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Gourmet Cinema at Caulfield Racecourse 2-6 March 2016

Forget ordering popcorn and choc tops at the cinema.  This March, five of Melbourne's best restaurants will roll up at Caulfield Racecourse to bring to you gourmet goodies as you watch movies under the stars.

Epocha, Le Bon Ton, Baby, Mamasita (see our review) and The European will have popup stalls at the racecourse, offering some of their most popular menu items to hungry movie-goers.

Elotes callejeros (chargrilled corn on the cob with grated sheep’s cheese, chipotle, mayonnaise and lime) at Mamasita

Each night, one restaurant will present a special menu to match the evening’s movie.