Norma Loves Joe – You Will Love It Too!

panda 4.5 rating

I happened to stumble across the newly opened Norma Loves Joe on my Instagram and was happy to note that it was only a short drive from home. Norma Loves Joe is located on Whitehorse Road in Balwyn, just down from the iconic Balwyn Cinema, and is opened by Courtney Ludlow and Kristie O’Donoghue who have been friends since kindergarten.

Norma Loves Joe is named after the passionate and addictive affair between Norma Jean and Joe DiMaggio, that remained everlasting and honest – which is the formula that this newly opened café will follow. The aim of this café is to create a relaxed space with an all day brunch menu for the surrounding residents of Balwyn – and further.

I love the interior of Norma Loves Joe – a combination of wood, tiles and metal brought together in perfect harmony. The tiling on the main back wall reciprocates that of a brick wall in angular formation, with the tilling around the bench and kitchen area being a patterned contrast. Minimalist light bulbs light up one wall with lighting for the kitchen and coffee areas being provided by under beam lighting. Seating is available both inside – on low wooden tables in front of the coffee & kitchen benches as well as along the window; and outside – both at the front of the venue as well as in the courtyard out the back.

Coffee here is served by Axil Coffee Roasters – one of my favourite roasters! I ordered a latte which was crisp, nutty with caramel tones and made to perfection. Tea here is by The Slow Tea Co. with 8 different flavours to try including Booze Hound (which is meant to aid with cleansing), Spicy Vanilla Chai, Chamomile & Mint. Other drinks include Karma Cola and Lemmy Lemonade both of which are fair trade & organic, as well as drinks and smoothies from the Emma & Tom’s range.

The breakfast menu consists of all your favourites together with showcasing some flair in some different dishes – I’m talking about you Red Velvet Waffles! These aforementioned waffles are at the top of the breakfast list – and how could you not order them when you see this combination? Other savoury dishes include a Big Love Breakfast, a Brunch Salad (Kale, cauliflowers, avocado, ruby grapefruit, poached egg, bacon) as well as a Super Salad (Brown rice ,red quinoa, roasted sweet potato & beetroot, broccoli, toasted seeds & lemon hummus), a Yankee Burger (lean beef, Swiss cheese, pickled red cabbage, tomato & caramelized onion) and a toastie (Double Smoked Ham & Swiss Cheese) and pide (Pulled Chicken & Red Slaw) available too. Norma loves Joe caters for the little ones as well – with two dishes aptly named Little Joe and Little Norma – both served with chocolate milk.

There were four of us on this Saturday morning and we scored a table in the main dining area. We all couldn’t go past the waffles so decided to get that as our sweet dish at the end to share. I was deciding between the Mixed Mushrooms and the Breakfast Quesadillas and in the end ended up going with for the latter.
The Breakfast Quesadillas came with scrambled eggs, cheese, spinach and black eyed beans – however I am not a fan of black eyed beans so I asked to have the dish without these and asked for mushrooms instead. This dish coves in a very generous serving – you get four triangular pieces stuffed with the filling together with a little serving of sweet chilli sauce. I really enjoyed this dish – NLJ has taken a simple idea and turned it into something special. The scrambled eggs form the base later with the spinach, cheese and mushrooms placed above it – this is encased in a quesadilla. The flavours were simple but the overall flavouring was delicious – the juice from the succulent mushrooms worked well with the crunch of the quesadilla finished with a hint of hotness with the sweet chilli sauce. Yum!

S ordered the Mixed Mushrooms – on grilled sourdough with parsley puree and she asked for a side of salmon. This was quite a cute dish and despite looking smaller when compared to the other dishes everyone had ordered; was quite filling. The parsley puree was unique and something that I haven’t seen anywhere else and was quite tasty and really did complement the flavour of the mushrooms.

T & S (another S) both ordered the Shakshuka – two eggs baked in tomato sugo, capsicum, basil & feta served with grilled sourdough. The Shakshuka itself was served in a terracotta dish and placed on a wooden board where the grilled sourdough was also placed. The Shakshuk was perfectly made and tasted fantastic – the combination of the sweet tangy tomatos with the basil and feta together with a hint of chilli was scrumptious! If you are a fan of tomato and Shakshuka in general – NMJ does a really great version!

Once we had finished our savoury dishes – it was onto the sweet part of the day in the form of waffles! Norma’s Red Velvet Waffles – with cream cheese dressing and seasonal berries was visually stunning dish – individual red heart shaped waffles – topped with cream cheese and finished with berries and icing sugar – DIVINE! The flavour was exactly what you would expect – the rich velvety taste with the not too sweet cream cheese dressing – it really was like eating a cupcake but in a waffle version. This is one dish I would definitely recommend anyone to try!

The service here at NLJ is exceptional – staff are friendly and always with a smile and you can tell that they genuinely love everything that they do and every dish that they put out. Norma Loves Joe is the type of place that you can find yourself spending a whole day at without even realising – it is just that comfortable and chilled out. I am so glad that it is close to home – will definitely be back!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to pictures above or visit http://www.normalovesjoe.com/menu.html
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Comfortable, welcoming and laid back – great for a relaxed weekend catchup
Standout Dish: Norma’s Red Velvet Waffles – with cream cheese dressing and seasonal berries
Service: Fantastic – very friendly and helpful
Online Booking: No
http://www.normalovesjoe.com/
239 Whitehorse Road, Balwyn
Tel No: 9817 2576

Opening Hours:
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 7:00am – 4:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8:00am – 4:00pm
Tuesday: CLOSED

Norma loves Joe on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/normalovesjoe
Twitter: @NormaLovesJoe
Instagram: norma_loves_joe

5 & Dime Bagels – NYC Goodness in Melbourne

panda 4 rating

Menu:
5&Dime Menu

5 & Dime has finally launched in Melbourne bringing New York style bagels into Melbourne CBD, and we have Zev Forman to thank. 5 & Dime is located in Katherine Place, near the Spencer Street end of the city.

Forman formerly from New Jersey grew up having bagels everyday with his grandparents in New York and started baking his own bagels and selling them in markets such as Flemington and Coburg Farmers Markets. For research he travelled to America to work with the most celebrated bagel makers in New York, to ensure he had the perfect recipes and techniques.

5 & Dime is a dedicated bakery and carries a simple fit-out by Brand Works and Beyond the Pixel – with wooden accents, tables and clear circular glass display for the bagels. Seating is limited but available for those who wish to have breakfast and lunch.

The bagels themselves are a labour of love – it begins with a starter that sits for 24 hours, then they are rolled into rings and fermented for another 24 hours. The last steps involve being boiled, baked and finally served fresh. The current flavours are Dill, Poppyseed, Everything, Cinnamon & Raisin, Onion, Plain, Salt, Sesame and Rye.

The usual spreads are available – Cream Cheese, Butter, PB&J – along with some different spreads – Strawberry Cream Cheese, Spring Veg Cream Cheese, Bacon Maple Cream Cheese, Smoked White Fish Cream Cheese and Vegan Cream Cheese. You can also get extras with your bagel – Tomato, Red Onion, Pickled Shallots, Capers, Radish, Vegemite, Avocado and Cured Salmon. All ingredients are of the highest quality with Foreman smoking his own salmon, curing his own Gravlax and using Goldfields real cultured cream cheese.

Coffee is also served and is provided by one of Collingwood’s new comers – Promised Land. They serve batch-brewed filter coffee (which can be available immediately to serve) and offer rotating single origins as well.

I order a latte and a Cinnamon & Raisin Bagel with Cream Cheese. I love the toastiness on the outside together with the soft pillow like texture on the inside. The combination of the crunch and softness is brilliant. The Cinnamon flavour is vibrant throughout the bagel with accents of sweetness thanks to the raisins. The cream cheese is the perfect accompaniment. The latte is strong, rich and full of coffee goodness that packs quite a bit of kick.

If bagels are your thing and you want to watch them being made – via a huge machine that has come all the way from Canada – then I suggest you try out 5 & Dime Bagel.

NOTE: 5 & Dime also supply their products to various cafes around Melbourne – you can find a full list on their website – http://5dimebagel.com.au/great-places-using-5d-bagels-1/. You can also purchase bagels from a variety of places other than their CBD store – this info is also on their site – http://5dimebagel.com.au/great-places-using-5d-bagels/

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$$
Menu – Refer to Picture above or you can find the menu at http://5dimebagel.com.au/5-dime-cafe/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Modern and Welcoming
Standout Dish: BAGELS
Service: Friendly and Welcoming
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
5dimebagel.com.au
16 Katherine Place, Melbourne
Tel No: 0433339367

Opening Hours
Monday to Friday: 7:00am–3:00pm

5 & Dime Bagels on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/5-and-Dime-Bagels/451649908200685
Twitter: @5dimebagel
Instagram: 5dimebagel

Lune Croissanterie – Worth the Early Start

panda 4 rating

My Order of Pastries

My Order of Pastries

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Menu:
Lune Info Lune Menu (2) Lune Menu

Lune Patisserie is one of those places in Melbourne that you just have to experience to understand the hype. It is all about bringing the taste of France (Paris) to Melbourne in the form of delicious tasting pastries and croissants.

Lune wants you to have that unmistakable Parisian experience of catching the scent of butter wafting down the sheet and following your nose only to find an unassuming hole-in-the wall bakery, where you will be served by the baker and you will experience what it is like to eat a croissant that was pulled from the oven no longer than one hour ago.

Located in Elwood (near the intersection of Scott and Tennyson Streets), Lune resides in a quaint double storey house, where owner and baker connoisseur Kate Reid – a former aeronautical engineer who worked as an Aerodynamicist for Formula One – resides as well, together with her business partner / brother Cam. Reid was inspired by a visit to Paris where she visited the famous Du Pain et des Idess and their delectable pastries and was inspired to pursue her love and passion for baking. Reid’s journey is wildly interesting – she began as a sales assistant at Phillipa’s Bakery before moving onto Three Bags Full where she was a pastry chef. As great as these jobs were, Reid had a longing for Paris and took a chance in emailing Du Pain et des Idess and asking them to take her on as an apprentice – which they agreed on. And the rest as they say was history! Reid worked under some of the best pastry chefs in Paris, including Christophe Vasseur who was awarded the Best Baker in Paris by Gourmet magazine in 2008 and Baker of the Year 2012 by respected restaurant guide Pudlo Guide – learning all there is to know about Parisian style patisserie. Reid then moved back to Melbourne where she is renowned for some of the best croissants in Melbourne with lines of people waiting to devour these goodies being a testament.

The croissant is understood to be one of the hardest pastries to master – requiring three days of preparation and four different types of machinery. The key factor is the butter used to make the croissant – you should be able to smell the butter before you bite into – creating a rich buttery goodness. The freshness is yet another key factor – and should generally be eaten within two to three hours of being baked. Another important aspect is that a croissant should be light and flaky – Reid says that after eating a croissant you should have a lap full of flakes!

Croissants take three days to make, with resting between each process to help the dough develop complexity of the flavouring. Reid follows a recipe she learnt from Du Pain et des Idess, which she adapts for Australian flour and milk, and to suit herself. On day one, the dough is mixed and rested for an hour before an 18-hour period of slow fermentation at a cool temperature.
On day two, she flattens the dough and laminates the butter into it, a process called beurrage, which takes up to five hours each day. The butter is folded through the dough and rolled out to create up to 27 layers. Between each fold and roll the dough must be allowed to rest or the gluten will overdevelop and ruin the flavour.
On day three, for the final rollout, the pastry is pressed to a thickness of about four millimetres, cut, and shaped. Once it’s at this stage, you must work quickly to get the croissants into the prover. Then, they are egg-washed and baked at 4am, and so the day begins again.

“Cruffins” is basically a croissant made in a muffin tin—often filled and topped with seasonal ingredients. Past cruffins flavours have included Pavlova, Tiramisu, Lemon & Kaya, Apple crumble, Lime & Yuzu, and “Cherry Ripe”.

On this Saturday morning – my friend and I decided to meet at Lune at 6:30am (which meant I had to be up by 5:45am!!). We both however overslept and I ended up getting there around 10 to 7. As I drove past Lune in search of a car park – I could see the line was at least 20 deep already! Once you arrive at Lune, the process is to line up for a ticket number (they only give out 60 tickets per day), and order a coffee; if you wish – and at that time of the day my guess is that you would definitely be in need for one.
The staff are super friendly, perky and chatty (especially since they would have been up even earlier than me!). I receive ticket number #29 along with the menu, and am asked which pastries I would be interested in. Reid’s brother – Cam – explains that the special flavoured pastries such as the Snickers Croissant (there were 10 available), Coconut Pandan Croissant, Tiramisu Cruffin (only 18 were made) have limited quantities. Whilst you receive your ticket number, you also have the opportunity to order a coffee (much needed especially given the time that some people arrive here!) and head on down to line up in the queue.

Lune officially opens its doors at 8am which gives you quite some time (depending on how early you arrive) to peruse the menu and decide which six pastries you want to take home – if you want to take home six (the average amount that people usually buy is four).

Once the blinds come up and Lune is open for business – you can hear the anticipation from people towards the back of the line as they wonder if they will get their first choice selections.

My order was as follows:

1 x Croissant – Traditional French Crossiant, prepared over 3 days

1 x Choc-Almond: Pain au Chocolate style, with almond & orange frangipane

1 x Kouign Amann – Traditional pastry from the Bretagne region of France – laminated with sugar and baked in a buttered, sugared mould until caramelized

1 x Cinnamon Kouign Amann – as above, with cinnamon added to the laminated pastry

1 x Cruffin – A Lune original Croissant pastry baked in a muffin tin and filled with weekly changing flavours – Jam & Cream and Tiramisu

1 x Twice Baked – Available weekends only – Traditionally in France left over croissants are sold the following day, filled with an almond frangipane and baked for a second time. At Lune we offer the traditional Almond Croissant, as well as special twice baked Croissants.
Almond: The original Croissant aux Amande, prepared with almond frangipane & garnished with a healthy amount of almonds. Coconut Pandan & Snickers were the two other flavours available.

The plain croissants are just divine – flaky, crunchy, soft and buttery – everything that you want out of a croissant that makes you come back for more. The Choc-Almond croissant has a crunchier texture in comparison to the plain croissant and I love the almond flavour that comes through, together with the hint of orange. I am not usually a fan of the orange flavouring in pastries or cakes, however I took quite a liking to how it is infused here at Lune.

The Kouign Amann is not as soft and flaky as a croissant, and it reminded me of something that I used to eat when I was younger – Butterfly Pastry. The sugar coating on the outside gives it the strong crunch, together with the buttery pastry layers that follow in a swirl shape that creates the interior of the pastry which gives a simple yet delicious flavouring. I got both the original and the cinnamon flavour – with the cinnamon Kouign Amann have a delicately strong cinnamon flavour to it. Yum!

The Cruffin would have to be my favourite out of all the pastries – if I had to pick. I had the Jam & Cream Cruffin and I swear this is something that you would get in heaven! The Cruffin comes looking like a muffin (of course!) but has the make-up of a croissant – the soft buttery layers – and topped with cream (in the case of the Jam & Cream flavour). The Jam had been carefully distributed in all the right places in the cruffin and together with the buttery soft layers and cream was delightful. If I was you I would definitely try out a cruffin – in whatever flavour is on offer as I am sure they would be all as good as each other!

People are constantly asking both Cam and Kate why they don’t just make more of the product – and their answer is always the same – they do not want to compromise on quality. Quality is always the key – and it really is a testament to the lines that are always present on the three days that they are open.
However, recently a window of opportunity has opened, and they are have a new partner in the form of Nathan Toleman, who owns The Kettle Black and Top Paddock and co-founded a string of cafes including Liar Liar, Three Bags Full and Two Birds One Stone. The Lune team are looking at sites on the north side of the city that will allow them to expand their production without sacrificing quality. So stay tuned – but in the meantime I would highly recommend you go down to Elwood and try these delicious pastries – trust me they are well worth the early wake up call!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu –Refer to picture above
Standout Dish: Cruffins!!
Service: Really friendly!!
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://lunecroissanterie.com/
29 Scott Street, Elwood
Tel No: 9077 6463
Opening Hours:
Friday: 7:30am until Sold Out
Saturday & Sunday: 8:00am until Sold Out

Lune Croissanterie on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LuneCroissanterie
Instagram: lunecroissant
Twitter: @LuneCroissant

Pop Up Scroll – Bringing Scrolls Back Into Fashion!

panda 5 rating

Menu:
Drinks Menu Menu at Pop Up Scroll Close up of Menu at Pop Up Scroll Close up of Menu at Pop Up Scroll.

Amongst the entire Doughnut, Cronut, Dossiant, Cruffin hype comes the latest craze – SCROLLS! Enter Melbourne’s first new scroll boutique – Pop Up Scroll – located in Smith Street, Collingwood. Serving up freshly baked swirls of goodness made each morning alongside some delicious, carefully prepared coffee – which has been supplied by Coffee Supreme. Coffee and scrolls – a perfect combination to kick off your early morning start or for an afternoon treat.

Pop Up Scroll was created by trained cook, baker and now full time pastry chef Julian Chew together with his wife Tammy Chew. They are both not new to the food industry, having previously owned the popular Lip Café in Ivanhoe. Julian has previously apprenticed under Matt Moran (of famed restaurant Aria) and done stints at Loafer Bread and Da Noi – firmly cementing his niche as a pastry chef.

Here, the focus is on coffee and scrolls only and they do it very well. The idea came about when Julian used to prepare Cinnamon and Cream Cheese scrolls for his former café and he was finding that he would be selling out of these delicious goodies on a regular basis. People would come from near and far to sample these tasty scrolls. Due to its increasing popularity both Julian and Tammy thought it would be a good idea to expand the concept and invest in this idea further – and Pop Up Scroll was born!

Pop Up Scroll has a philosophy to take customers back to their childhood by producing beautiful, fresh scrolls in unique flavour combination by utilising some of the lost arts of cooking. Each scroll is made using techniques that Julian has learnt throughout his impressive fine dining pastry training and is made free of any chemicals and additives, and with the use of organic ingredients.

Eat a Scroll bake two batches of scrolls daily – one in the morning for the pre-work rush and another in the afternoon for the afternoon tea & coffee crowd. Currently there are six different flavours on offer – Traditional Cinnamon Bun with Cream Cheese Frosting, a Malaysian inspired scroll of Shredded Coconut and White Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Banana, Chocolate and Caramel as well as a Chocolate and Custard flavour – all of which are on a brioche base. The brioche base scrolls come in two sizes – large and mini – with certain special flavours available as well – the day that I went there was the Cherry, Cream Cheese & Gingerbread. There are also flavours available that are baked using a croissant base (similar to an escargot) – these are Pistachio and Cherry or Apple and Frangipane, Traditional croissants and almond croissants are also available for your eating pleasure.
There are the traditional coffees available as well as Affogato, Ice Coffee and House Blend Chai (which can be served Hot or Iced) served with Bonsoy & Coconut Milk if needed.

The vibe is blissfully charming, complete with a retro fit-out. I love the pastel shades that are used along with cute retro style girl and boy doll decals on the main wall, together with the words EAT A SCROLL and DRINK COFFEE. Simple yet effective styling. There are two mint green cabinetry units – one which displays packets of Callebaut Chocolate and King Island Coconut Milk Creamer, along with coffee cups and the other displaying Parker’s bottled drinks – Ginger Beer, Cola etc along with an old school radio. There is minimal seating available (seats around 15 people)– in the form of small round tables, as well some seating along the window, overlooking the main street. The simplicity together with the playfulness works well together.

When it came to ordering I decided to order a mini original cinnamon and cream cheese scroll and was tempted into getting the Gingerbread, Cherry & Cream Cheese scroll as well. I mean just have a look at the picture – how can you say no?

I had the mini original scroll as well as a latte to eat in and decided to take the bigger scroll home for later. The coffee was delicious – creamy, nutty and strong all at the same and really did make my day. The scroll was absolutely divine – the dough is moist, light and fresh and is of the perfect sweetness. The cinnamon flavoured rolls are topped with cream cheese frosting and infused with cinnamon and brown sugar. It really does feel like you are biting into the softest pillow and are light and airy, allowing you to have more than 2 and still keep you wanting more. You really need to try one to understand the pure indulgent feeling you get.

Pop Up Scroll is a great addition to not only the Collingwood area but to Melbourne in general. They bring together the simple concept of sentimental baking together with great coffee and delicious, light fluffy scrolls. One visit here and you will definitely be coming back for more.

As the name suggests, Pop Up Scroll is only around for a short time (until May 2015) but there are already big plans in the pipeline for the next project due to open straight after the pop up closes its doors. EAT A SCROLL will be located just around the corner from the current location and will be a more permanent scroll house.

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Charming, Classic, Retro and Welcoming.
Standout Dish: Seriously any of the scrolls!
Service: Friendly and Warm
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.eatascroll.com.au/
86 Smith Street, Collingwood
Tel No: 0433 849 281

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 8:00am–4:00pm
Saturday: 9:00am–4:00pm

Pop Up Scroll on Urbanspoon

Facebook: facebook.com/Pop-Up-Scroll
Instagram: popupscroll
Twitter: @EatAScroll

Where’s Marcel? – Great Vibe & Super Friendly!

panda 4 rating

Menu: 
Beverage Menu
Beverage Menu 3 Beverage Menu 2 Tea Brew Bar Menu Tea Brew Bar Menu 2 Iced Tea Infusions

I am always on the lookout for new cafes and new coffee joints in and around the city – as most times the new cafes are located in the suburbs or inner city – both of which I cannot access during the week when I am at work. My latest find – Where’s Marcel? – is thanks to moving onto a new client for work and hence a new work location. Where’s Marcel is located in the foyer of 180 Lonsdale St (near the corner of Russell and Lonsdale Street) – which used to be the BHP Biliton building and is near QV.

Where’s Marcel is a boutique coffee roastery and cafe with a casual and friendly vibe in a modern and welcoming setting. Where’s Marcel has an extensive menu of drinks available from coffee, tea, to fresh juices, milkshakes and iced tea infusions – the menu is spectacular. Coffee lovers will definitely enjoy what’s on offer here – they have a Brew Bar Menu which consists of Stove Top, Turkish, V60-Pour Over /Chermex, Batch Brew, Cold Drip Filter, French Press, Aero Press and Cupping. Have a look at the full menu in the pictures above. They roast their own coffee and have 3 different blends – Culture (this is the stronger blend), Evolve and Decaf.

Along with having a great variety of beverages on offer – they have an equally impressive food menu – consisting of sandwiches, salads and burgers, not to mention their delicious sweet varieties – cakes and raw balls. All food is made freshly each day with love and care.

On my first visit I was too tempted by the cakes and had to order one – I went with the Spice Apple Tea Cake with Maple Icing. I also ordered a Latte. The coffee was great – strong with hues of nuts and honey and the perfect amount of crema. The cake was absolutely divine – the combination of the soft, melt in your mouth spiced apple tea cake together with the sweetness of the maple icing. I would highly recommend anyone try this cake out – it is that good!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – A whole selection of beverages and freshly made food
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Modern, Welcoming and Casual
Service: Super Super Friendly and Warm
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.wheresmarcel.com.au/
Located in the Foyer of
180 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9654 8593

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:00am – 5:00pm

Where's Marcel on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wheres-Marcel/1450308265201080?fref=ts
Instagram: wheresmarcelnow

Rekorderling Summer Recipe

With Summer here (some would say fast approaching) – there is nothing better than creating a summer salad with fresh, punchy and vibrant flavours. Thanks to Rekorderlig for sending through this recipe for you all to try – which incorporates their fresh new Premium Pomegranate flavour. Try it out for yourself and comment if you do and what you thought about the flavour combination.

Below is a recipe created by My Kitchen Rules winners Sammy and Bella. Check out their website www.sammyandbella.com for more delicious recipes! ENJOY!

About Rekordelig

Rekordelig cider was first created in 1999 with the purest spring water from Vimmerby in Sweden. They are stocked in a wide range of Australia’s favourite bars and retailers and is continuing to laucnh in new countries all around the world – maintaining its proud Swedish heritage.

Rekordelig is a typically Swedish fusion of high-end, premium design and modesty, it has a clear identity that sets it apart from others.

Enjoyed by those who yearn for something refreshingly different, join Rekorderlig on a journey of exploration, innovation and invigoration.

For more information & stockists please refer to http://www.rekorderlig.com/au/

rekorderling cider recipe
PEARL COUS COUS AND FETA SALAD WITH A REKORDERLIG POMEGRANATE SALAD
Serves 4Ingredients
1 cup pearl cous cous
40ml olive oil
1 eschallot, finely chopped
2 cups vegetable stock
½ a bunch mint leaves picked whole
¼ a bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2 roasted and marinated red capsicums, sliced
80g feta
½ pomegranate (seeds removed)Dressing
200mL Rekorderlig Pomegranate Cider
40mL Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and PepperMethod
1) Place cous cous, chopped eschallot and olive oil in a pot
2) Fry on a medium heat with a pinch of salt until cous cous has lightly caramelised and eschallots have softened.
3) Add vegetable stock and simmer for approximately 15 minutes, adding some water if it gets too dry and stir from time to time.
4) Once cous cous has softened but is still al dente, drain and allow to cool.
5) For the dressing, reduce the Rekorderlig cider in a saucepan by 3/4 .
6) Next whisk in the extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper into the dressing.
7) Mix together cooled cous cous, herbs, sliced capsicum and dressing.
8) To finish, crumble the feta over the dish and sprinkle with fresh Pomegranate

Waffee – Waffles & Coffee – The Perfect Combination!

panda 4 ratingRaspberry White Chocolate Waffle

Who doesn’t love a good waffle? I have walked passed Waffee many times to and from work and finally I had the time to stop and enjoy the waffles (excuse the pun!).

Waffee – aptly named as they sell both Waffles and Coffee – is located on Swanston Street (near the corner of Collins Street – and right where the Tram stop is located). Waffee is the creation of two brothers who share a passion and dream of creating the perfect Waffle. Their quest took them on an adventure to Belgium where they perfected a secret recipe to create these wonderful fluffy pillows of greatness.

As you walk past the store – you almost do a double take as you can watch the Waffles being created right in front of your eyes – not to mention the delicious smell that is wafting in the air. The fit out is minimal but chic at the same time, designed by Hecker Guthrie – wooden combined with modern marble accents. There are a few high tables that you can enjoy your parcels of goodness. I especially love the Waffee logo – created by A Friend of Mine – the Waffee name incorporated into the waffle griddle iron pattern along with a cute raccoon character that features on their packaging and coffee cups.

As you walk in you are greeted with the smell of freshly baked waffles and you almost float over to the counter to order your waffle. There are different flavours including The Original, Chocolate Glazed, White Chocolate Glazed, Cinnamon, Blueberry, Chocolate Stick and Raspberry White Chocolate to choose from. The waffles are handcrafted and are baked freshly in store every day. The waffles golden crispy coating comes from caramelized pearl sugar (which is derived from beetroot) which has been added to the dough

Initially I was just going to sample the original waffle, but then I kept looking at the Premium Waffle of Raspberry White Chocolate and decided I had to try that one. I love raspberries (well any berries really) and white chocolate is my fave out of the chocolate range.

I love the packaging that the Waffee has – simple yet effective – a little white pocket that allows you not only easy access to take that first mouthful, but where you can see the shimmery deliciousness.
The waffle comes served warm and was crunchy on the outside with soft pillowy textures on the inside. The raspberries were laced through the dough and were fresh and tangy – this complemented the sweetness of the white chocolate that had been drizzled on the outside. I really enjoyed this pocket sized sweet delight and definitely will be back to check out their other flavours.

The Emporium Melbourne store creates both Savoury and Sweet waffles, with a view in the future to revolutionising how waffles are to be eaten. Think fresh berries placed on topped of waffles served with a dollop of cream or scoop of ice cream – Yum! Their savoury waffles include waffles with crunchy chicken and slaw, smoked salmon salad and BLT just to name a few. They have even expanded to create unique breakfasts such as Eggs Benedict on Waffles!I didn’t get a chance to try out their coffee; however Waffee uses Proud Mary coffee and serve a range of specialty brews that are sure to be delicious!

For a quick, tasty and delicious sweet hit in the form of authentic Belgian waffles – check out Waffee.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Original, Chocolate Glazed, White Chocolate Glazed, Cinnamon, Blueberry, Chocolate Stick and Raspberry White Chocolate. You can also refer to the pictures above.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Modern, Warm and Enticing
Standout Dish: Any of the waflles!
Service: Friendly and Welcoming
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:

MELBOURNE CBD
Shop 1, 77 Swanston Street, Melbourne
(Cnr Collins St & Swanston St)
Tel No: 9041 4594

Opening Hours
Monday to Thursday: 7.30am – 7.00pm
Friday: 7.30am – 11.00pm
Saturday: 10.00am – 9.00pm
Sunday: 10.00am – 6.00pm

Waffee Waffles+Coffee on Urbanspoon

ALTONA
Shop 25: Harrington Square, Altona
Tel No: 9398 1689

Opening Hours
Monday to Friday: 7.30am – 4.00pm
Saturday: 9.00am – 12 noon
Sunday & Public Holidays: CLOSED

Waffee Waffles+Coffee (Altona) on Urbanspoon

EMPORIUM MELBOURNE
Savoury & Dessert Waffles
LG-32, 287 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 8609 8185

Opening Hours
Monday to Wednesday: 10:00am – 7:00pm
Thursday & Friday: 10:00am – 9:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: 10:00am – 7:00pm

Waffee Waffles+Coffee on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WaffeeWafflesCoffee
Twitter:
@waffeewaffles
Instagram:
waffeewafflescoffee

 

 

Grazing Panda voted The Tastiest in Menulog Food Lover Blog Awards 2014

cropped-the-tastiest.jpg

Thank you to everyone that Voted, Shared, Liked and Enjoyed Grazing Panda – Grazing Panda has been voted the The Tastiest Blog for the Menulog Food Lover Blog Awards2014!

I cannot wait for all the new restaurants, cafes and bars that are opening up in and around Melbourne in 2015. Keep checking back for updates at Grazing Panda on a regular basis. There will be new & big things coming to Grazing Panda in 2015! Stay tuned!

Until then have a Great and Safe Christmas and a Fantastic New Year!!

xx

Shizuku – Ramen & Ramen Burger Extravaganza!

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Page 1 Menu  Page 2 Menu  Page 3 Menu
Shizuku is located at the Abbotsford end of Victoria Street, and is a recently opened Japanese restaurant, nestled amongst a street that is known for its Vietnamese cuisine. Their main focus is on Ramen – which sits up there as one of my favourite foods – and I cannot wait to try out their offerings.

L & I arrived on a weekday night and were greeted by large heavy wooden doors – as you step inside you are greeted with a simple yet snazzy set up. There are lanterns hanging from the ceiling that remind you of flower blossoms that provide lighting for the whole restaurant. Your eyes are also drawn to the colourful bar counter which houses their variety of drink offerings as well as a tree branch that has been decked out with hanging clear baubles – I love this display, adds a touch of vintage chic to this otherwise modern looking venue. The tables are black and wooden; with seating able to cater mostly two’s and fours, however you have the option to join tables together for larger groups.

David Chen is the owner of Shizuku who was inspired to open his own Japanese restaurant after working as an assistant manager at Shoya Japanese Restaurant. Together with partner, Shinako Suzuki, his dreams were made into reality, with doors opening for Shizuku in July 2013.

We are shown to our table and handed a book of a menu – there is so much variety to choose from! Another touch I like are the water bottles at the table, which are re-used colourful alcohol bottles that have been finished – adding a pop of colour to the otherwise black surroundings.

The menu begins with ‘Zensai to Share’ which are Entrees – there is a HUGE (an I am not exaggerating when I bold and capitilise this) selection – think double columns of an A4 page! Reading down the list you will find yourself saying ‘yep I want to try this and I want to try that’ for every dish. Some Zensai include Lobster or Pork Sliders, Uni Sake Shots, Octopus Sashimi, Unagi Salad, Croquettes (Vegetarian or Crab Meat), Octopus Balls, Salt & Pepper Squid, Wasabi Prawns, Pickles, Kimchi, Spicy Bamboo and Edamame. Following the Zensai menu is the Gyoza section where you can choose from six different gyoza’s. Unfortunately for me none of the gyoza’s only had seafood or vegetables, but were pork filled and therefore I couldn’t try any

Next on the menu is the star of Shizuku – authentic Ramen. Head chef Ken Yoshida who has a wealth of experience and has worked in some of Japan’s renowned ramen shops is the man behind this traditional ramen – which has been prepared over 15 to 18 hours. There are thirteen different types of Ramen to choose – from the Tan Tan Men to the Spicy Miso Ramen to the Kimchi Ramen, and they even have a Vegetarian Ramen. All Ramen is made with no MSG and they try to locally source ingredients – even the miso soup is made by the chefs onsite.

What is definitely a game changer and what has critics raving is the Ramen Burger – created by chef Hiromi Hanzawa (previously Aka Siro and Pabu). The bun is made of tightly packed ramen noodles, that have been bound together with eggs and cooked on a flat top, with a lightly crunchy texture on the outside. The Ramen Burger comes in two different flavours – Candied Pork Belly with homemade plum and prune sauce, kewpie mayonnaise OR Miso Glazed Eggplant with sweet miso jam. These culinary creations hail from New York – where Ramen burgers are all the rage, but here at Shizuku they are the first and only Australian restaurant to replicate these delicious burgers. More on these later.

Whilst we were waiting for our dishes to be served we were given a White Radish, Wombok and Wombok with Carrot dish to prepare the palate. They were all unique in flavouring with a consistent vinegary taste through all of them. Quite tasty.

The first entrée we ordered was the Uni Spoon – Sea Urchin Sashimi, Cucumber, Wasabi Soy. Both L and I hadn’t had Sea Urchin before so were keen to see what type of flavour it had. The Uni Spoon (as the name specifies) comes served on a spoon, with a base of cucumber, topped with the sea urchin and drizzled with wasabi soy to finish.

I ordered the Lobster Slider – Lobster kewpie salad, pickled carrot and daikon, corn brioche bun – as I wanted to see their take on a Lobster slider. The serving of lobster was quite generous, but I think there was a bit too much of kewpie mayonnaise added which drowned out the natural lobster flavour. I did enjoy the combination of the pickled carrot and daikon with the sweetness of the lobster and kewpie.

My favourite dish of the day was the Shizuku Spring Rolls – Spring rolls stuffed with melted cheddar and edamame young soy beans. Just reading this dish on the menu set my creative juices flowing trying to envision what this dish would look like. The spring rolls were angularly cut to showcase the rich inside filling – which was the edamame soy beans enveloped in melted cheese. The combination was absolutely divine! The crunch of the outside combined with the soft billowy pea puffs and warm melted cheese was happiness in your mouth. Definitely one to try!

We also couldn’t leave Shizuku without trying their signature Ramen Burger – Ramen noodle patty “buns”,miso glazed eggplant. The bun is made with ramen noodles bound together with eggs and cooked with a slight crunch on the top exterior layer – leading into a softer noodle layers for the rest of the “bun.” The filling was made of soft, delicious eggplant that was beautifully complimented by the miso jam. There were also salad leaves, coriander and onions added. Every bite you take of the ramen burger was delightfully filled with an explosion of juicy flavours – the burger was not greasy at all which further added to the ramen burger love. Yet another dish to try out – you have to experience it to understand the feeling!

It was time for our main dishes – Ramen! L ordered the Tan Tan Men – Free range pork mince, egg, chilli oil, preserved vegetables, rich sesame flavoured broth – which is the Chef’s Signature Ramen as well as their best seller. L really enjoyed her ramen and almost finished her entire generous serving!

I initially wanted the Spicy Miso Ramen – however as that was made with a pork and miso based broth I couldn’t, instead the helpful waiter told me to order the Vegetarian Ramen – Mix vegetables with miso sauce flavoured broth – with an added spicy chilli spoon to give it that spice and kick. The Ramen was quite tasty – the broth was thick, flavoursome and quite wholesome yet light at the same time – just the way that I like it. The vegetables added were fresh and still had a bit of crunch to it, which I think makes a dish better. The noodles were cooked perfectly which further added to the great quality of the ramen produced.

We were both really full, however we did need something sweet to complete our palate sensations. There are five desserts to choose from which include Almond Tofu, Espresso Pudding, Green Tea ice Cream, Black Sesame Ice Cream and Miso Caramel Ice Cream.

L ordered the Green Tea Ice Cream and I ordered the Pannacotta (which was a special for the day) which came served with Blueberries. Both desserts rated quite highly on our palates and were just the ending we needed to a great meal.

Shizuku offers delicious food at an affordable price in a relaxed, welcoming ambiance together with friendly service. Next time you are considering suitable dining options with a homely touch check out Shizuku – it really is a welcome addition to Victoria Street.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to pictures above or have a look at the Takeaway menu at http://shizuku.com.au/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Relaxed, Warm and Welcoming
Standout Dish: Shizuku Spring Rolls – Spring rolls stuffed with melted cheddar and edamame young soy beans and Ramen Burger
Service: Friendly, Warm and Happy to help out with any queries or questions
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://shizuku.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://shizuku.com.au/
309 Victoria St, Abbotsford
Tel No: 9995 8180

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Monday to Sunday: 11:30am – 2:30pm
Dinner
Monday to Sunday: 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Shizuku Ramen on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shizukujapanese
Instagram: shizukuramen
Twitter: @ShizukuJapanese

Pho24 – Pho in Under a Minute!

panda 3.5 rating

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Menu:
Menu at Pho24
The recent phenomenon in Melbourne seems to be a large amount of Vietnamese restaurants opening up at every turn you look. I happened to be driving on Spencer Street and another one caught my eye – Pho24. It was about a week or so later that I received an invite from Two Birds Talking to come and experience Pho24’s offerings.

Pho24 is a franchised outlet from Vietnam, with the journey beginning 10 years ago and has 73 stores operating successfully throughout Vietnam, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Indonesia, Korea and Philippines. The main aim of Pho24 is to serve healthy pho to its customer in less than one minute, using a combination of simple and fresh ingredients in a modern and welcoming environment.

Craig Birchall together with Andrew Bunn are the co-founders of the Australian Pho24 business – with Craig coming across the chain several years ago when he was travelling through Vietnam. He shared his story and background about how he came to realising that Pho24 would be a great fir for Australia. It was not only the products and the vibe of the place that Craig thought was fantastic but the passion, love and service of the staff – they really were proud of the food being produced.

Pho24 is a quick and modern take of an old Vietnamese classic – that comes with no added MSG and is made with different techniques such as sous vide cooking style. This method allows for the retention of both flavour and nutrients – which you tend to lose in other methods of cooking. Together with this is their unique design of the nickel plated vats (PhoStillery), controlled evaporation, flavour and temperature which provides the clear stock to be infused with flavours perfectly. The equipment is also able to omit the fat layer of the broth that usually gets ladled out in other venues that sell pho.

Pho24 is located in a great location – opposite Southern Cross Station – on the corner of Little Bourke and Spencer Street. It has easy accessibility from the Southern Cross shops as well as Etihad Stadium – great for the footy or concert crowds to stop by for a quick bite. The venue size is quite large in size with a great outdoor area which overlooks busy Spencer Street. As you step inside you are greeted with colourful lanterns that hang from the high ceiling – which further creates space. The venue is bathed with natural light thanks to the windows that wraparound, with wooden accents throughout adding a modern touch. There are projection screens which showcase scenes from Vietnam such as rice paddy fields and people enjoying street food. One of my favourite aspects of Pho24 is that there are herbs placed around the projection screens with scissors hanging to allow you to cut your own herbs to add to your dish. What a great concept!
There are low wooden tables as well as high bench seats by the window to sit – depending on what you feel like. Most seats have a view of the open kitchen – where you can watch as your dishes are prepared in front of you. I also love the centre piece table setting which comprised of an Asian straw conical hat that dispenses tissues, alongside chilli sauce, soy sauce and Squid Brand fish sauce.

When we first walked in we were greeted and served an assortment of handmade sliders and offered a selection of drinks – wine from DOC Wines, beer, soft drinks and coconut juice. I decided to have a coconut juice from Pearl Royal which was refreshing. It was great being able to chat to fellow bloggers, staff from Two Birds Talking as well as one of the founders of Pho24 – Andrew (Craig – the other founder- was busy in the kitchen prepping our food), whilst standing around having the canapés dishes. Nothing better than good conversation and nibbles of great tasting food to eat.

We all proceeded to the long table that had been set up for the night (under the colourful lanterns) and were welcomed by Craig – who told us a little about the franchise and about what dishes we could expect tonight.
The menu started off with Vietnamese Street Starters with the first dish being Fresh Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls – that had been cut up into bite sized pieces and served on an oriental spoon. The rolls were fresh and had a kick of spice through it which tasted good – a light and healthy dish.
Next starter to be served was the Baby Octopus Salad. The octopus salad came served in a glass jar with lettuce cups surrounding it. Craig told us that we were to spoon some of the octopus salad into a lettuce cup and then bite into it. The octopus was absolutely divine – tender bite size pieces of octopus paired together with vinegar and punchy chilli notes. I loved the combination of the crunchy fresh cold lettuce against the warmth of the octopus and chilli. A really great tasting dish that I could see myself eating jarfuls of.

Next up was the Vietnamese Pork Bahn Mi (which I couldn’t eat) – but judging from the response from around the table and from N they were good! The bread was crusty and the filling fresh and juicy, with the pate having a subdued taste compared to traditional pates.

Prawn Spring Rolls were next on the list. The spring rolls were filled with whole prawns and covered with a crispy layer of pastry. Just like with the octopus salad – we were told to wrap the lettuce around the spring roll and dip it into the vinegary daikon and carrot with a hint of chilli. The flavouring of the prawn spring roll was delicious and worked perfectly with the vinegar chilli sauce. I loved the combination and texture of hot (from the spring roll) and cold and crunchiness (from the lettuce).

The next starter was the Slow Cooked Pulled Pork Steamed Buns (which once again I couldn’t eat). These came out steaming with carrot, coriander and lettuce piled upon the slow cooked pork which was placed atop a halved steamed bun. The flavours were clearly delicious as they were devoured up quite quickly around the table to sounds of mmm and yum.

We were all getting quite full from these delectable starters, but it was time for the main event: Pho served to us in under a minute. Craig explained the idea behind this was for people who were after a quick, healthy and tasty meal – in their lunch break or at dinner time – and one that would allow them to sit in store and eat it (due to the super quick cooking times) and actually feel like they have had a break.
We had three flavours to choose from on this night – Tender Beef Scotch Fillet, Poached Chicken and Silken Tofu, however their menu caters for a bigger variety. The Pho also comes in two sizes Regular (380ml) or Large (500ml). N ordered the Regular Tender Beef Scotch Fillet and I ordered the Regular Silken Tofu.

The process was to simply order at the counter with a tray. Once you have placed your order just slide your tray along to the very end and by the time that you get down there – your Pho will be steaming hot and ready for you to eat! As you move your tray along you can watch as the team of staff preparing your order – each team member having their own responsibility; be it adding the noodles, broth or vegetables.
Something interesting to note is that the noodles that go into your pho is weighed to ensure consistency between each bowl of Pho – this way each bowl has the same amount of noodles! The Pho broth is ready to pour out of a PhoStillery that has a beer tap to dispense the liquid out – quite nifty and quick!

Unlike other Vietnamese restaurants who give you a plate of bean shoots and herbs separately – Pho24 already includes this in the pho making process. When you pick up your pho you can add lemon and chilli. And as mentioned before if you feel like you are in need of extra herbs (coriander and basil) you can cut this up for yourselves at the herb stations.
N said the scotch fillet of beef was thinly sliced and cooked to perfect medium rare and was soft and tender – melt in your mouth. He said the broth was full of flavour and wholesome. I really enjoyed my silken tofu pho – the noodles were cooked perfectly – smooth and well textured. The tofu was perfectly sliced in thin rectangular pieces and was like soft pillows of goodness. I loved the crunch of the beanshoots along with the big kick of chilli (I added a whole load of chilli) – it paired well with the pho broth. Overall we both really enjoyed our pho meals and I struggled to finish my bowl due to the largeness in size.

Craig was nice enough to offer everyone a tour of the kitchen and how each component was made – such as the sous vide meat packages, the large vats of chicken and beef stock that is left to brew for 6-8 hours, the pate that is freshly made onsite to the oven that toasts the buns for the Bahn Mi’s. Craig also mentioned to us that the name Pho24 not only came from wanting to be open 24 hours a day, but in fact there are 24 components that go into the process of making pho – from start to finish.

Once we got back to our tables we found that dessert had been served – Taro Pudding – one of their specialty desserts. This was served warm with sticky rice and further sweetened with dates and topped with a banana leaf. I am usually not a fan of taro flavouring, however the taro flavour in this pudding wasn’t as intense and I didn’t mind eating the pudding. Craig mentioned that they were looking into producing more varieties of desserts such as sago, but were investigating ways in which to plate the

Pho24 offers a healthy alternative for lunch or dinner at an affordable price point that works well for everyone, especially for students. The staff are friendly and you can tell that both Andrew and Craig really value the hard work and efforts of each and every one of them. Currently, Pho24 is open 7 days a week till late (usually around 9pm or 10pm) but is looking to being open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you want to experience good tasting pho – IN UNDER A MINUTE – check out Pho24 now!

Disclaimer: Grazing Panda was invited to dine at Pho24 as a guest by Two Birds Talking, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to http://pho24.net.au/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Modern, Funky, Welcoming and Vibrant
Standout Dish: Octopus Salad, Prawn Spring Rolls and Pho
Service: Friendly and Super Quick! #phoinunderaminute #phoinaminute
Online Booking: Yes via website –
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://pho24.net.au/
656 Little Bourke St, Melbourne
Tel No: 5915 9047

Opening Hours:
Monday to Wednesday: 7:00am – 9:00pm
Thursday: 7:00am – 9.30pm
Friday: 7:00am  -10:00pm
Saturday: 10:00am – 10:00pm
Sunday: 10:00am – 9:00pm

PHO24 on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Pho24Australia
Instagram: pho24aus
Twitter: @Pho24Aus