Flipboard Cafe – Cubbyholes and Fun!

panda 4 rating

Awesome stool made of recycled papers

Awesome stool made of recycled papers

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Menu:
Food Menu Today's Food Specials
I have found my new favourite café in Melbourne – Flipboard Café – located near the top end of La Trobe Street, near the RMIT City Campus as well as the scenic Carlton Gardens. Flipboard Café is the brilliant idea from architect Martin Heide together with interior designer Megg Evans after seeing potential between their studio – Brolly Design – and the rear of the jazz institution Bennetts Lane.

It literally resembles that of a Jenga game – the café is fit into a 20 square metre split level café that the duo built themselves. There is so much fun, seating all packed into such a little space. The highlight is definitely the outside row of cupboards at street level – where the doors open inwards to reveal cute little cubbyholes that seat two. Each little cubbyhole / booth comes with a “table” made out of recycled papers – these are uber cool and I want one in my house – as well as a beautiful filament lightbulb to set the mood.

Inside the café is all about the use of wood and smart use of space for seating – there are wood panels that flip down to produce seating, as well as a meeting space / platform on the top floor that you get to via the central staircase. Upstairs you can get bench seating that overlooks onto the bustle of La Trobe Street if you wish.

The coffee and food counter is located in a little corner with barista Lincoln Walker (ex Wide Open Road) at the helm. Coffee is from artisan local roaster Joshua Bailey and the La Marzocco coffee machine is used.

Flipboard Café offers a small variety of food – there are a few baguettes made on site, as well some quiches, pastries and soup. There is also a selection of gluten free options in terms of the sweet stuff available from Miss Si. There is a chocolate brownie that is all wrapped up but looks amazing! Next time I will have to try it.

On this visit I ordered a latte and one of the pastries with egg, spinach and fetta. The coffee had a great taste – sweet and nutty with the perfect amount of froth at the top and swanky artwork. The little pastry was divine – the pastry was flaky, buttery and you just wanted to savour each bite. The filling was tasty and flavoured well, and I liked the hit of spice in the form of pepper. Together both the pastry and the coffee worked well together.

Flipboard Café has successfully utilized the minimum space that they have to create a quaint, fun and unique style of venue. It really is a life-size version of a play house with some great tasting coffee and tasty treats. The little booth/cubbyholes are a brilliant idea and a great use of space and makes for a fun experience.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to pictures above. There is a selection of baguettes, pastries, quiches and soup, as well sweets from Miss Si.
Atmosphere / Ambience: Fun, Relaxed and Chilled out!
Service: Friendly
Online Booking:No
flipboardcafe.com.au
141 La Trobe Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9691 3888

Opening Hours
Monday to Friday: 7:00 am – 4:30 pm

Flipboard Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Bar Nacional – Bringing Spain to Collins Street

panda 5 rating

Menu:
Raciones and Postres Bar Nacional Menu Comida Menu
D was down from Singapore visiting Melbourne and we needed a place to lunch in the Docklands area – what a perfect occasion to check out Bar Nacional. Bar Nacional is a partnership between Gavin Baker and Pete Evans who bring a bit of their time, memories and experience of San Sebastian to fruition.

Bar Nacional is a warm, inviting venue that is bustling with energy from the moment you step inside – be it at lunchtime, dinnertime, anytime. There is a central bar, with seats and tables surrounding it – the tables range from high to lower tables – and also ottomans and low chairs to sit comfortably. There are earthy tones together with bursts of orange. At the bar there are hanging cured meats to further complement the Spanish vibe.

The menu is created by head chef Alex Drobvsz (Daniel Boulud’s Bistro Moderne, Gordon Ramsay’s Maze) with desserts designed and perfected by Shaun Quade (The Royal Mail, Quay, Biota). Jo Barrett (MoVida Bakery) and Tom Beaumont (coffee director at St Ali) round up the rest of the team. The menu has a selection of tapas (small bites), Raciones (larger dishes – designed to share), and of course ending with Postres (desserts). There is also a Comida Menu which is available for lunch, which allows you try out some of the larger dishes and add some tapas dishes at a cheaper price, as well as adding a half glass of wine for $5. Many of the dishes display the wealth of experience that comes from the Chefs – and has an interesting array of unique ingredients, flavour combinations whilst staying true to the Spanish theme.

There is also a great drinks menu which encompasses wines from Spain and Australia, as well as house-made Sangria, Australian craft beers, ciders – all which when put together with the food are complementary.

For all the cured meat lovers – this is your heaven. There are three types of jamón, including the magnificently rich and sweet 36-month-cured jamón bellota puro, the deep-flavoured lomo (cured and seasoned pork tenderloin), the dry-cured bull negro sausage and a very good chorizo. These are all cured and sliced to order – either in 30 grams or 60 gram lots, but you can just order a charcuteria to get a selection to try them all out!

We ordered a mix of tapas and Raciones dishes for the 4 of us to share. We started off with the Charred Broccoli Croquette. Each croquette was securely placed on the plate with lemon aioli under each croquette. The Croquettes were delicious – golden perfection the outside, a great crunch combined with the rich, creamy and nutty flavouring on the inside. It was refreshing to see broccoli (one of my fave vegetables) to be inside, instead of the usual mushroom / rice combination you find.

We then received the Prawn Salad, Avocado, Lemon Puree, Saffron and Rooftop Greens and the Patatas Bravas. However, V realised that when the Prawn salad came out, there was still a plastic film left on top of the flat solid puree. We notified the waitress and she apologised and brought us a fresh dish sans plastic film. (They didn’t charge us for this dish). The Prawn salad was an interesting dish – it was refreshing and the combination of the elements and textures worked well together. It was a fancy interpretation of a salad that worked well.

The Patatas Bravas was delicious – crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside and finished with a smoky tomato sauce. You cannot go wrong by ordering this dish.

We also ordered the Grilled Bread, Marinated Yoghurt dish. The bread was soft, fluffy and beautifully made and I absolutely loved the seasoning on the crust of the bread – a combination of seasame, poppy seeds, dukkah and spices. The marinated yoghurt got lots of interesting mm’s and sounds around the table – with the result of enjoyment. The tanginess of the yoghurt worked well with the spices in the bread.

Next up was the very, very and by very I mean very impressive Racione dish of the Baked Flathead, Smoked Eggplant and Salad Greens. This has been cooked on a cherry-wood plate in a wood-fired Josper at 400 degrees. For the preparation of this dish Drobysz gets the firewood supplier to cut various fruit woods – varying from peach, cherry, olive and almond – into disc sized pieces and puts the whole fish on the board. The fish is then brushed with garlic oil, salt and pepper and put into the oven. Here the oils from the wood are released and mixed into the fish. The result is a smouldering (literally) dish that comes out to the table together with the brilliant smell of the smoky char. The plating of the dish is fantastic – the fish is casually draped on top of the wood that it was cooked in – to the side is a dollop of the smoky eggplant. The fish was perfectly cooked and was soft with a smoky flavour – the only issue was the abundance of the little bones – however all is forgiven when you eat the fish. The smoky eggplant was the perfect accompaniment to the fish.

The others also ordered the Braised Beef Empanada – which look like mini pocket samousas. They all enjoyed this and loved how soft and flavoured the beef was on the inside.

I couldn’t leave without trying one of Shane Quade’s desserts. I couldn’t decide which of his desserts I wanted but in the end went with the Baked Sweetcorn, Popcorn Ice Cream, Toasted Maize and Brown Butter. And am I glad I did. The dish came out plated beautifully – and is up there with the best in terms of presentation. There was a smooth, ice cream like consistency mousse that resembled that of a corn cob, together with a perfect quenelle of Popcorn Ice cream – I MEAN ITS POPCORN ICE CREAM! How awesome is that!! Finished with Toasted Maize sprinkled on top together with milk powder and fried polenta. It was a mix of savoury and sweet and it really worked! This dessert is quite a heavy dish, but you simply cannot leave any of it behind – its just too good! You find yourself going back for more even after you tell yourself you cannot put anymore down. Definitely try this dessert out! IT’S A MUST!

I had a great time at Bar Nacional – the staff are friendly and really know their dishes – you can ask them to describe a dish of what exactly it is and they are do so with a smile. The dishes are of great quality with a taste to match – aside from the one hiccup with the plastic film (all is forgiven as the food overall was just delicious). Bar Nacional is definitely bringing a bit of Spain / San Sebastian to Docklands – and a result will increase foot traffic to this part of town. Try it out for yourself and see what I am talking about.

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $$$$
Menu – Refer to pics above or check it out at http://www.barnacional.com.au/menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Modern, Funky and Chilled out
Standout Dish: Baked Flathead, Smoked Eggplant and Salad Greens and for Dessert – Baked Sweetcorn, Popcorn Ice Cream, Toasted Maize and Brown Butter
Service: Fantastic, Friendly, Knowledgeable
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.barnacional.com.au
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.barnacional.com.au/
727 Collins Street, Docklands
Tel No: 9252 7999

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

Bar Nacional on Urbanspoon

Alice Nivens – Baked Goodness!

panda 4 rating

Alice Nivens is tucked away in the Port Phillip Arcade and is known for its quirky Alice in Wonderland theme – just have a look at the colourful artwork which shows a picture of Alice and the White Rabbit. Alice Nivens is known for their baked goodies – and bake fresh every day!

The sweets range from cupcakes to brownies to slices. On the day I visit there is a Rosewater and Strawberry whoopie pie, Alice’s caramel slice, Lemon and Pistachio Slice, Cake pops, muffins and home made muesli.

For lunchtimes – there are also a range of sandwiches that can be made, with various toppings such as smoked chicken, turkey or the vegetarian option of roasted pumpkin, hummus and olives.

I couldn’t look past the chocolate brownie – sweetly topped icing sugar in the shape of a rabbit – tres cool! To go with this sweet treat – I ordered a latte. Coffee is from Small Batch and is truly delicious. The brownie was rich, intense and I loved the harder top layer. The combination of this layer with the smooth chocolate underneath was great.

You can follow Alice Nivens on Instagram and Twitter (@AliceNivensCafe) to find out what their daily creations of sweet are!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Cakes and Sandwiches – refer to pics above
Atmosphere / Ambience: Quirky, fun and great for a tea party
Service: Friendly
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://alicenivenscafe.com/
Shop 13
Port Phillip Arcade
228 Flinders St,
Melbourne

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:30am – 4pm
Saturday & Sunday: CLOSED

Alice Nivens on Urbanspoon

 

Menulog – Making Ordering Simpler!

panda 5 rating
IMG_20140522_021511

I was invited by Menulog to try their online takeaway feature in order to show the ease and convenience of using this service. For those of you who haven’t heard of Menulog they are NO 1 for online Takeaway in Australia and through their website you have the ability to Order food online at over 3500 restaurants around Australia. There are also special offers and discounts that are offered to you when you make an order – for example the restaurant that you are ordering from could have a special deal. For first time users of Menulog as well – there is 10% off on your first order. There is no sign up fee at all and the site is free to use.

The Menulog site is extremely easy to use and navigate as well. To begin with you can either enter in the suburb or postcode where you live in (or where you want the order to be delivered) – it will then bring up a list of restaurants in and around that area for you to choose from. On the left hand side there is a criteria bar, where you can refine your search – for example to search by cuisine, specials or even particular dishes.

When you are looking at the list of restaurants – there are different columns which offer information such as other users reviews of the place, the minimum order spend, the rating of the restaurant as well as any promotions that restaurant is offering. Once you find the restaurant you want – you simply click on the name and it will bring you to the menu of the restaurant. From here it is simply a matter of selecting the dishes you want. Depending on the dish there will be options that come up when you pick a particular dish – for example if you order a half /half pizza – there is a chance to select which two toppings you want for that pizza, or if you are ordering spring rolls – you get to select which filling you want such as vegetarian, seafood or meat. When you select you r first dish, Menulog will prompt you with the date and time that you want your order delivered. You can change this time and date later once you have completed your order as well.

When you have finished selecting all the dishes you want – you click on the PLACE ORDER button. This will take you to a page where you enter in your delivery address details (and here you can change the time and date of your order as well). It is also worth noting – if you find that you are short by a small amount (such as 10 cents to $1) from meeting the minimum order, when you select the PLACE ORDER button, an option will come up saying that you have not met the minimum order amount and you can go back and either add another dish or simply add the amount missing to the order – this is what I did as I needed 20cents more to make the minimum order cost. You can also add any comments you want to about your order or any delivery instructions required as well in the next page. They also give you an order number in order to track your order.

Menulog offers a FREE SMS confirmation service of your order as well, so you will need to enter in a mobile number for this. They send you an SMS telling you that your order has been confirmed and the time of delivery, and also gives you the restaurants number if any changes need to be made. It really is an efficient service that works quite seamlessly.

In addition to the SMS I received a phone call from Menulog around 3 hrs before my delivery time to confirm that I still wanted my order and the time which I wanted it as well. Now that’s service.

I placed an order with Kreate Noodle Bar in Lower Templestowe ( http://www.menulog.com.au/takeaway/templestowe-lower). I orderd a Seafood Spring rolls, Seafood Curry Laksa and Seafood PadThai. The delivery time was 7pm to my house – and they arrived around 6:50pm. Efficient! All the items of food ordered were there. The curry laksa even had the soup separate to the rest of the components which was good idea. The serving sizes were actually quite large, and could definitely feed more than one person! The food was very tasty and spicy and I would definitely order from them again.

The Menulog service is efficient, easy, timely and very convenient – especially for those rainy days when you don’t want to leave the house, or just don’t feel like cooking. I mean what beats ordering food from a selection of great restaurants and having it delivered right to your doorstep. If you haven’t tried out the service I would highly recommend them. You can also subscribe with Menulog to receive a newsletter which has Menulog specials and important updates – or follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Definitely 5 Pandas for service!

Check Menulog at http://www.menulog.com.au/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Menulog.com.au
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Menulog

Who I ordered from:
Kreate Noodle Bar

9/325 Manningham Rd, Lower Templestowe
Tel No: 9852 4495

Kreate Noodlebar on Urbanspoon

Filter by Small Batch – Coffee Perfection

panda 5 rating

Menu:

Breakfast  Lunch  Lunch  Coffee  Made to Order Coffee  Espresso  Tea and Cold Drinks

Where can you get great tasting coffee, as well as getting to try out an interestingly named “sandwich” called smørrebrød? The answer is the newly opened Filter by Small Batch Coffee – opened by Andrew Kelly (founder of Small Batch Coffee and its flagship Auction Rooms) – in the Melbourne CBD at the corner of Collins and King Street.

Filter came about after Broadsheet announced a competition called The Keys – giving a change to one of Melbourne’s reknowned and established coffee owners the change to pursue a new venture with the help of them and Bank of Melbourne. To perfect the process of getting Filter perfect – Kelly had the mentorship from some friends including Kate Bartholomew (Coda, Tonka), Nathan Toleman (Top Paddock, Two Birds One Stone), Chris Lucas (Chin Chin, Kong, Baby) and Bank of Melbourne’s Vanessa Hastie. The journey that was experienced in opening this venue can be found at Broadsheet at http://bankofmelbourne.com.au/thekeys

Filter is a spacious, light filled, warehouse like space at the bottom of the Denmark House building. The fit out is minimalist and simple – complete with light wooden tones and colourful yellow sunflowers dotted throughout the venue. There are two main counter areas – the one on the right displays the smørrebrød, desserts on offer as well housing the coffee machine and sparkling water – the one on the left is where people can sit down at, as well as having another area where you can view the filter coffee making process. Thru the centre of the area where you can sit are displays of all things related to coffee – such as a weighing scale, coffee cup and other coffee paraphernalia. I really do like the layout of Filter.

Filter is all about the coffee – and as the name suggests – the main focus is on filter coffee – which is coffee that is strained through paper. It does however serve espresso as well. Filter coffee is generally less intense than espresso and has a much “cleaner experience.” Filter also serves smørrebrød which Kelly believes is the perfect accompaniment to the perfect coffee. A smørrebrød is an open sandwich served on a thin slice of eye and commonly eaten by people from Denmark and Sweden. Smørrebrød consists of a piece of dark rye (a dense, dark brown bread. Pålæg) topped with anything really – from pickled fish and remoulade to cold cuts, pieces of meat, cheese or spreads. The smørrebrød here at Filter have been designed by Auction Rooms head chef Boris Portnoy.

I order a latte and from the very first sips I could tell that this would be my new favourite coffee joint. The flavour is brilliant – soft caramel tones with a note of creaminess and nuttiness through it. I usually have some sugar in my coffees, but with this coffee I didn’t need any at all. I really could have had multiple cups of coffee. There are coffees that are ready to go, as well as coffees that are made to order and range from coming from counties such as Colombia, Ethiopia, and Burundi.

Filter has 10 in house made smørrebrød to choose from – refer to the menu above for the different types. I ordered the Vegan smørrebrød – which consisted of Pine Mushroom Spread, Kale & Choke Chips, Carrot & Pasta Salad and has the Swedish name Dofta. This was my first time eating a smørrebrød and it was delicious! The rye was fresh and the saltiness of the mushroom spread worked well with the creaminess of the pasta and the crunch of the kale and choke chips. Smørrebrød’s are filling without giving you that heavy feeling of being full. I definitely want to head back and try some of the other toppings.

There are also tea’ from Storm in a Teacup (Collingwood) as well as cold drinks in the form of house made refreshing soda pops of which there are two flavours to choose from – Old fashioned lemonade called Citron and Fresh peppermint and vanilla called Mynte. These are next on my list to try out.

For coffee lovers, people who are still not quite sure about coffee or for anyone really – do yourself a favour and check out Filter. You really won’t regret it! If you want more information about Filter and The Keys story you can refer to the following link bankofmelbourne.com.au/broadsheetthekey

During Filter’s first month of trade, Bank of Melbourne customers who show their bank card between 7 and 11am will receive a free filter coffee.

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to menu above – Breakfast, Lunch, Coffee, Tea and Cold Drinks menu
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual and Relaxed, Warehouse feel
Service: Friendly and they sure do know all about coffee
Restaurant Details and Location:
filterbysmallbatch.com.au
555 Collins Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9620 1211

Opening Hours
Monday to Friday: 7am–4pm
Saturday: 8am–2pm

 

M.I.C.E – Melbourne International Coffee Expo Time

I attended the M.I.C.E this year – having missed out on the opportunity last year. 2013 was the first year that M.I.C.E was in Melbourne and due to its resounding success it is back in 2014 – and is geared up to be the largest and most dynamic coffee event for the coffee industry in the Australasian region.

M.I.C.E is dedicated four day event which showcases 150 exhibitors – the list of exhibitors can be found here at http://internationalcoffeeexpo.com/visitors/exhibitors – and will showcase business leaders coming together to educate, inform, network and do business. Here, the World Latte Art, World Coffee in Good Spirits and World Cup Tasters Championships in conjunction with the AASCA coffee championships, including the prestigious Australian Barista Championship, amongst other events will be hosted.

The aim of the event is to showcase Melbourne’s specialty coffee scene and further cement the ever growing reputation as one of the best in the world. It also serves as a great networking opportunity to meet some of the world’s top coffee industry personnel, as well as testing out some great tasting coffee!

mice
The entrance at MICE 2014 – Love the lighting and styling

mice 2Top Left Clockwise: Code Black Latte, Code Black Baristas at work, Teapigs Tea Variety, Teapigs Tea Tasting.

Code Black Coffee is one of my favourite coffees so I couldn’t walk past their stand and not try their coffee. The coffee was delicious as always – creamy, nutty and just perfect!

Teapigs was founded in 2006 by Nick and Louise – and aim to source the best quality tea. They also participate in a great ethical scheme, where they have made a pledge to directly help the communities they work with. Their motto is “We believe in something pure and simple – no airs. no graces. just fine tea.” They have really interesting flavours such as Liquorice and Mint, Popcorn Tea, Chocolate Flake Tea and Chilli Chai – just to name a few. I tried the Liquorice and Mint – I am not usually a fan of liquorice but the flavour here was quite light and the mint flavour was the stronger of the two. This is one of their most popular flavours I was told. It was nice, but I found the mint a bit over powering. I also tried the Mao Feng Green Tea which I found quite light and delicate and really enjoyed this tea. Another tea I tried was the Winter Spiced Tea – which was also very delicious and homely. You can find out more information about Teapigs at their website http://www.teapigs.com/

mice 3
St Ali’s pop-up stall was labelled as a “Silent Disco Beans” party and the highlight – along with the coffee was the acrobatics that were on show!

Equal sweetener also had a cute vintage-esque stall – where they had iced lemon tea which had been sweetened using Equal.

Adore Coffee – I loved the setup – with its quaint and funky lights together with its wooden fitout. The coffee was strong with nutty undertones. For more information refer to their website at http://www.coffeegalleria.com.au/

 

Pranna Chai  Pranna Chai Tea LeavesI am a hugeeee Chai fan – so had to trial some from Pranna Chai. The flavours were fresh, vibrant and fragrant all at the same time – definitely a really great chai! The process that Pranna Chai uses is natural and simple – they source fresh whole spices from different parts around the world such as India, Sri Lanka and Guatemala. They then blend these spices with tea and honey – all done by hand! And voila the end result is born. There are no hidden additives or preservatives added which is another great reason to check them out! In the pictures above you can see the tea and spice mixture – the smell is amazing! You can find out more information at their website at https://www.pranachai.com/

3D Printing
3D Printed Cup
I am really intrigued in the new 3D printing technology and was excited to see it previewed here at MICE. The machine was making a coffee cup.  As you can see from the first picture – the cup being created doesn’t yet fully resemble the perfection of the cup in the picture below – but this must mean that the wandering hands of the patrons got to the machine. The finished cup really is quite strong and thick – to house the warm liquids be it tea or coffee – and I cant wait to see more of these 3D objects in the future.

If you love coffee and want to try out many different varieties then I highly recommend that you visit when it comes back to Melbourne in 2015. You will thoroughly enjoy, as well as experiencing different types and tastes of coffee and tea.

Natvia and Cupcake Central Workshop – 100% Natural Sweetner

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Natvia was founded after the realisation there was a gap in the market for a 100% natural sweetener. Founded in 2008 by Mark and Sam, and having gone through over 600 trials and 10 months of work they finally reached the perfect blend and taste combination.

Natvia uses the very best parts of the Stevia plant, combined with naturally occurring nectar known as Erythritol. Stevia is a sweet leafed plant which is part of the Chrysanthemum family.

Both Mark and Sam are passionate about the product and you can tell they really do care not only about the product but about the people as well. Some of their core values include educating people about the food and bringing love back to cooking, as well as trying to spark bit of a health revolution. Natvia has 97% fewer calories, contains no Aspartame or saccharin and has nothing artificial – it is all natural with no bitter aftertaste.

The Natvia Icing sugar we were told took around 2 years to make and is a world first! The idea was that the sugar was milled down further which makes it easier to pipe with. Tasty and making life easier – what a great combination!

Another plus point of Natvia is that it can be easily substituted in a 1:1 ratio with sugar. So there is no need for complicated calculations to try and convert measurements.

Natvia can be currently be found in drinking mixes, tomato sauces and in the future thanks to their product innovation could be found in many more products to meet the growing market needs – so keep a lookout for their products. Natvia is available at Coles, Woolworths and Independent Groceries – IGA, Foodworks, Aussie Health, as well in many countries around the world!

If you want copies of the Natvia Sugar Free Baking Recipe Book – feel free to contact me via email (thegrazingpanda@gmail.com) and I can email you a copy. I have PDF versions.

Visit their website for more information – www.natvia.com.au
_________________________________________________________________________________

I had the pleasure of being invited to a Cupcake Workshop by Natvia who worked in conjunction with Cupcake Central (stores in Melbourne Central, Hawthorn and Highpoint). Cupcake Central now stocks sugar-free cupcakes as part of their range which of course has been sweetened by Natvia.

I was greeted by a Natvia representative who welcomed me to the event, and handed me my very own Natvia apron, Natvia Sugar Free Baking Recipe Book and name tag. There were nibbles and drinks provided, as well Bar-Narnie cupcakes from Cupcake Central. These cupcakes were protein packed and gluten free as well as being sugar-free and actually tasted really good! Healthy and tasty what more could you ask for!

After some time to mingle with fellow bloggers of the world we gathered around the bench for an official welcome from the founders of Natvia – Mark and Sam – and then Sheryl (owner of Cupcake Central) showed us how to create a Not-So-Devilish-Chocolate Cupcake. For the recipe of this cupcake please refer to the bottom of the page.

Sheryl walked us through the process of how they would create their cupcakes in store – they bake over 1000 cupcakes fresh every morning – as well as handing out some handy and useful tips throughout the whole process. Sheryl was really excited to be working with Natvia and the use of this sweetener at Cupcake Central – as she had many customers asking her if there were sugar free cupcakes available.

Each of us also learnt how to put in the cupcake mixture into a cupcake papers in an easier manner – the trick is to use an ice-cream scoop (preferably a size 16). She also showed us a trick on an easy way to separate the cupcake papers when they come all bundled together – you have to slightly wet your index finger with a Chux towel, and using your thumb and your index finger separate the cupcake papers into the tray. Easy!

Once we were through the making of the mixture and putting the mixture into cupcake papers – it was time to get them baked and learn how to use a piping bag and decorate our cupcakes! There were three different piping nozzles – Star Nozzle, French Tip Nozzle and the Wilton 1M Nozzle – to use, and fresh fruit (Strawberries, Banana, Bluberries and Raspberries) as well. It was a lot of fun to get to pipe out our own designs and top them however we wanted.

Before leaving the event, we were given Natvia Goodie bags – which came with a box of Icing Mix, a box of Baking Pack, Cinnamon Splash Cluster Bars, as well as a premix from Cupcake Central for their Not-So-Devilish-Chocolate Cupcakes.

Thanks Natvia for the invite to try out your new products and also to Cupcake Central for teaching us some tricks and tips about baking, icing and piping! I look forward to seeing what other great products Natvia produces as well as the different flavours of cupcakes that Cupcake Central can produce in the Sugar Free range.

Cupcakes I decorated =)

Not-So-Devilish-Chocolate Cupcakes (makes 12 cupcakes)

1 ½ cups Plain Flour

½ cup Cocoa (Cupcake Central uses Callebaut Cocoa) 1 cup Natvia Baking Pack

1 tsp Bicarbonate Soda

¼ tsp Salt

2 Large Free Range Eggs (59 grams)

½ cup Regular Oil

1 cup Cold Water

2 tsp White Vinegar

1 tsp Vanilla Extract (Cupcake Central uses Neillson Massey Madagascan Vanilla)

  1. Pre heat oven to 165 degrees for a fan forced oven, or 170 degrees for a Gas Oven
  2. Sift all dry ingredients directly into mixing bowl
  3. Add to dry mixture, the free range eggs (TIP: Add one egg yolk at a time to create a smoother mixture as you are allowing for the enzymes to break down in order to aerate the mixture) Oil, Water, Vinegar (TIP: When mixed together with the bicarbonate soda will help the cupcake rise) and Vanilla Extract. Beat by hand until smooth (If you are using a automatic hand beater – start off on low speed and then blitz for 30 seconds on medium to high speed)
  4. Fill cupcake papers with batter TIP: Use an ice cream scoop (size 16) to fill the cupcake papers
  5. Bake for 18-21 minutes (or until a cake skewer comes out clean)
  6. Decorate with Icing and ENJOY!

VANILLA FROSTING (for 12 cupcakes)

125 grams Unsalted NZ Butter

225grams of Natvia Icing Mix

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Pinch of Salt

  1. Add Icing Mix to Butter and mix for 3 – 5 mins until light and fluffy
  2. Add the Vanilla Extract and a Pinch of salt and mix again
  3. Put into piping and you are ready to ice your cupcakes!

 

Other TIPS and FACTS: 

–           If you are using an automatic mixer – use the paddle attachment

–           Using oil will keep the moisture in the cupcake

–          Mixing and adding all your dry ingredients first will help you to avoid over mixing the product, and therefore will result in less dense cupcakes

–          Whenever you use Bicarbonate Soda – you always need to mix it with something acidic – i.e. cocoa or vinegar

–          If your resulting cupcake mixture is runnier than a normal cupcake batter they will come out fluffier

–          Occasionally when mixing, scrape down the mixture to ensure all the ingredients are being mixed evenly

Morris Jones & Co – Sophisticated on Chapel

 panda 4.5 rating

A & I were catching up for dinner and decided to check out Morris Jones & Co – located in the Windsor end of Chapel Street in an 1887 heritage warehouse. Owned by Paul Kasteel and business partner Hayden Burbank and still houses the original signage on the exterior façade.

In its previous life, Morris Jones & Co was a furniture emporium – prior to that it has seen many different businesses such as an auto shop, hardware store and most recently a second hand clothing discount shop. The new fit out was inspired by the French 1960s actor Jean-Paul Belmondo with different parts of the venue representing his varying moods and outfits.

The team behind Attica and St Jude’s Cellars – Russell & George – are responsible for the revamping of this enormous space, creating several different drinking and dining areas across two levels and an outside courtyard – and they have done a remarkable job. The end result is elegant, classy and relaxed with the interior being moody and rustic together with high ceilings, exposed brick walls and dim lighting.

As you enter the venue you feel like you are transported into a sophisticated world. You are greeted by the massive bar which takes up the length of the venue and it located front and centre. If you turn right immediately as you enter you are in the area which is dubbed the Den – a Morris Jones’ hideaway. There are long black and white plaid seats together with mosaic tiled tables and colourful abstract artwork, and allows you to look at passers-by on the streets thru its floor to ceiling windows. Going back to the bar, to the left is the bar area and if you venture further an open garden room with views to the courtyard which is located at the rear. The courtyard is complete with a beautiful vertical garden,  together with long benches as well as high tables and finished with fake grass on the ground. To the right of the bar is the Main Dining Room – which is a large space that allows you to look into the kitchen. Here there are black leather club chairs with the colour palette being tan and black.

The menu here is created by Head Chef Matthew Butcher (ex Maze) – which showcases dishes that are European French meets Modern Australian. I love how the menu is written and showcased. The menu is split into different sections such as From the Garden, From the Land, From the Sea, From the Fire, On the Side and finishes with Sweet World and Cheese. Under each section there are a list of dishes – which is shown in diagrammatic format –  in a bubble (or circle) of its own and the ingredients listed via a line off the bubble. I haven’t seen a menu like this before and absolutely LOVE IT! THUMBS UP! There are about four to five dishes under each section to select from and it really is hard to decide. There are so many interesting components to each dish, that you are left wondering how on earth they even go together. Some interesting components we came across was Gunpowder, LSA, Salmon Floss and Rhubarb Caramel – just to name a few. From reading the menu you know here at Morris Jones you are about to embark on a culinary journey that you are bound to enjoy.

There is also a fantastic wine list – compromising of wines from Australia and France, as well as a great selection of cocktails. Coffee here is from All Press. The vast array of wines can be viewed as you walk in – situated between the Den and the Main Dining Area.

After mulling over the menu and asking questions from staff – we were finally ready to order. We decided to share one of the From the Garden dishes, and get separate mains ourselves and share some On the Side dishes as well.

To start the meal we were given Bread with Honey Salted Caramel Butter. I cannot begin to tell you just how amazing this butter was! It is hands down the best butter I have ever tasted – and you can really just keep eating and eating it. For all butter lovers – this is a MUST TRY! The combination of the honey, caramel finished with the saltiness was mind blowing. The texture was smooth and creamy. We devoured the bread and butter, and were almost tempted to ask for round 2.

The dish that we shared From the Garden was the Pumpkin Patch – Chickpea Fritter, Labneh, Pumpkin and Yuzu Jam. The Chickpea Fritter came out in little rectangles and was crispy on the outside and soft and cloudlike on the inside. All the components of the dish worked really well together when combined – and it resulted in a really tasty dish. They have really created a clever dish using pumpkin as its core ingredient.

For mains both A and I got dishes from the From the Sea section. I ordered the Pink Salmon, Beetroot, Grapefruit, Salmon Floss. This dish came out plated up quite nicely with the bright pink salmon the main focus of the dish. The other components were placed colourfully around the salmon. The grapefruit pieces were artfully hidden under the salmon and together with the caviar added some orange colour to the dish. The Salmon Floss was one part of the dish that I wasn’t a huge fan of and avoided mixing it with the rest of the dish. The salmon cured in beetroot – hence the vibrant pink colour – was perfectly cooked and tasted delicious. I loved the combination of the salmon, with the beetroot flavouring together with the acidity of the grapefruit and the pop of caviar. A great dish!

A ordered the Kingfish Sashimi, Gun Powder, Yuzu Juice, LSA – which once again was a well plated up dish. The Sashimi was the her of the dish and lay in the centre of the plate – with cones of avocado puree, Gun Powder and LSA placed creatively on top. The Yuzu juice (and it wasn’t until A was adding this to her dish did I realise) came in a pipette which you squeeze out yourself (check out the pics to see what I mean). I like the idea of controlling how much dressing you want on your food. A did enjoy her dish and was nice enough to let me taste too. The Sashimi was fresh and bursting with flavour and was overall a good dish.

We also ordered some On The Side dishes – Triple Cooked Chips and Broccoli Polonaise. I mean really who could look past chips that have been Triple Cooked! And they really did not disappoint. They were crisp and somewhat crunchy – I would have thought they would have been crunchier – and soft and fluffy on the inside. Potato and chip lovers all around the world could seriously eat a whole bowl on their own and then some. The Broccoli Polonaise was my absolute favourite I must say! I am a hugeeee fan of broccoli and this was fantastic. Polonaise means to “top with breadcrumbs” – but it was not only this but the addition of almonds and mushrooms together with the flavouring which was tangy and creamy all at the same time that made it that yummy! I really do want to try and re-create this dish at home!

Having experienced such great dishes so far – we couldn’t leave without try their desserts. I decided to try the Our Violet Crumble, Honeycomb, Violet Ice Cream – which came highly recommended by our waiter – and after trying it out I can see why. The dessert comes in a glass, so you can see the different layers of the dish, topped with Violet Ice Cream and finished with a bright pink flower. The combination of the chocolate with the honeycomb – which was light, crunchy, sweet and golden – was mind-blowing. Pair that with the violet ice cream and the popping candy and you have a dreamy – takes me to a faraway place kind of dessert. A definite must try!

A ordered the Chocolate Pudd, Salted Caramel, Raspberry Sorbet – which had a gooey centre which flowed like liquid gold. It was perfectly cooked and together with the salty caramel and tanginess of the sorbet – made for an interesting mix of flavours. This is one for the chocolate lovers!

The staff at Morris Jones are extremely friendly both behind the bar and on the floor, as well as very attentive and knowledgeable. I noticed that at all times whenever our dishes were brought out – there would be a waiter who would place the dishes on our table and explain what the dish comprises of, and there would be another member of staff behind them. I am not sure whether this was because our waiter was new – but either way it was good to see the support that existed between the staff.

Morris Jones is open seven days for breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper with a full cocktail bar open till 1am. If you have that special event that you need to celebrate, or even dinner just because I would highly recommend eating here! I need to head back and check out what their breakfast/brunch offering is like!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Refer to http://www.morrisjones.com.au/the-restaurant – There is a Dinner, Breakfast, Snack and Beverage menu to look at
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Sophisticated, Classy, Mood lighting yet relaxed. Can be great for a formal function or even a celebration dinner. There are function rooms available for hire if required. There is more information on their website.
Standout Dish: I really can’t pick one – Honey Salted Caramel Butter, Pumpkin Patch – Chickpea Fritter, Labneh, Pumpkin and Yuzu Jam and lastly the Our Violet Crumble, Honeycomb, Violet Ice Cream
Service: Fantastic! Very friendly, knowledgeable and attentive
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.morrisjones.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
 http://www.morrisjones.com.au/
163 Chapel St, Windsore
Tel No: 9533 2055

Opening Hours:
Monday: CLOSED
Tuesday to Friday: 4pm – 1am
Saturday & Sunday: 9am – 1am

Morris Jones on Urbanspoon

 

Fukuryu Ramen – First in Australia

panda 4 rating

Menu:
The Menu

I had heard lots about a new ramen place that had opened up in the city called Fukuryu Ramen and decided to check out what all the fuss was about as I am a hugeee ramen fan!

Fukuryu Ramen is in Corrs Lane in the heart of Chinatown in the Melbourne CBD – where other restaurants such as Sichuan House, Brutale are located – upstairs in the large first-floor space which has been renovated. Fukuryu which means Lucky Dragon in Japanese is owned by the Indonesian restaurant group – Hakata Ikkousha – which is also involved in the popular chain of ramen restaurants in Japan and South East Asia – Ikkousha. This is the restaurant group’s first venue outside of Asia.

The space is spacious, bright and has a red wall with a dragon mural on it – really funky! As you make your way up the stairs you can hear the shouts of ‘irrashaimase!’ from the waiters. Rather welcoming! When I went there was of course a line to place your order and sit down, but the turnover rate was quite quick. The atmosphere is warm, inviting and super friendly so you don’t really mind the wait. Whilst standing in line you can see the cooks lining up the bowls of ramen as well their other dishes.

The venue sits around 70 people – there is the option of small wooden tables for parties of 2 to 4 or more as well as bench seating where you can be part of the action and watch the chefs preparing your meals. This is where I sat.

The menu is broken up into 3 different sections – Traditional Ramen, Modern Ramen and Small Plates. There are 4 different types to try out under the Traditional Ramen – featuring the famous Signature Tonkatsu Ramen, Miso Ramen, Shoyu Ramen and Shio Ramen. The Modern Ramens consist of dishes such as the Dry Oil, Vegetarian Dry Oil Ramen and Tam Tam Ramen – which is meant to be Spicy! Small Plates consist of Gyozas, Chicken Wings, Edamame, Pork Belly and Tofu as well a selection of two Salads – Ramen Salad and Fukurya Salad. The Ramen Salad sounded really interesting to me – chilled ramen boodles with wombok and citrus miso dressing.

As I don’t eat pork there was only really one dish that I could try – one of the modern ramen dishes – the vegetable dry oil modern ramen. The dish came with the ramen noodles, a gooey egg, wood ear fungus, nori and bamboo shoots. I also asked for some chilli paste – which was actually really nice – not too spicy but just right and mixed together with the contents on my bowl was really tasty. The noodles were cooked perfectly – and had the right amount of bounce and chewiness to it – and I especially loved the gooiness of the egg. That too was cooked just right. As a whole the combination of ingredients and the oil and chilli paste made for a really tasty dish! I would definitely come back to have this again.

It is a pity that I couldn’t try the any of their traditional ramen – as even the miso soup ramen had the pork broth. From the crowds and the lines – it is safe to say that Fukuryu
Ramen is good at what they do and people really do enjoy their meals. After all they did open the original Ikkousha restaurant in Fukuoka, Japan – home of the tonkatsu ramen.

Fukuryu Ramen were offering complimentary green tea soft serve to every patron and the offer is currently available until the 16th of May. The ice cream had a brilliant green tea flavour and was creamy and refreshing – a perfect end to a great meal.

If you love ramen and different takes on the ramen dish check this place out!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to menu attached above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Lively, Warm and Inviting
Service: Super friendly!!
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
https://www.facebook.com/fukuryuramen
Level 1
22-26 Corrs Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9090 7149

Opening Hours

Mon to Thu 11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Mon to Thu 5:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Fri to Sat 11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Fri to Sat 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Sun 11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Sun 5:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Fukuryu Ramen on Urbanspoon

myTaste.com

The Spotted Mallard – Quirky and Chilled

panda 3.5 rating

Menu:
The Food Menu   The Menu   Poutine Menu   The Smaller Dishes   The Burgers and Sandwiches   The Larger Dishes   The Sides and Salads

We needed to find a venue in the Brunswick area for a catch-up and I picked The Spotted Mallard. It was a Tuesday night – which meant it was Trivia night also at the venue. It was free to enter if we wished. The Spotted Mallard is located where the old Metropolis Eating house used to live.

The Spotted Mallard is quite different to any other venue I have been to. It was a former reception centre and ballroom which has now been turned into a 300 seater bar/restaurant/live music venue/trivia night space. As you walk up the stairs to the main area, you are greeted by the long bar and the vast expanse of space. You are immediately drawn to the colourful stain glass ceiling which allows fresh sunlight through. But then there is so much going on in the space that you want to look at everything at the same time. There are accents of the spotted mallard ( a duck) all around the venue especially at the bar where the beer labels are in the shape of the mallard. They also make an appearance on the menus. The furniture is mismatched and quite eclectic and unique in style but it really does come together really well. The vibe is funky, vintage and chilled out.

There are also themed nights such as Middle Eastern or BBQ Sundays.

The Spotted Mallard is the idea from Sam Grose, Max Meshers and Samanda Black, who met working at Greasy Joe’s in St Kilda. Together they set about reinventing this space by rebuilding the kitchen, creating the bar and stage and buying the perfectly mismatched furniture. The menu is put together by Grose (ex Mamasita) and Dan O’Donoghue (ex Chester White) – and is a classier version of pub food with Mexican influences. There is a great drinks selection as well – from spirits to craft beers on tap. All of the food is main in house and they use local and environmentally friendly produce when they can. Even the fish (barramundi at the moment) is ethically caught! Their bread is organic and is sourced from Lievito Bakery.
The menu is split into the smaller dishes, the Poutines, the bigger dishes, Burgers and Sandwiches and finishes with Sides and Salads. For the desserts – as they change daily – you need to refer to the specials board.

Most of us around the table ordered burgers and we also ordered a poutine to share. All the burgers come served with hand cut chips and slaw complete with a Dijon-Caper dressing.

We ordered the Poutine to share at our table –  Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Poutine – Topped with Porcini, Swiss Brown and Field Mushrooms, Parmesan Cheese, Gravy and Caramelised Onions. The dish was very rich and full of flavour. The potatoes were crispy on the outside and soft and cloud-like on the inside. The combination of the sauteed mushroom and caramelized onion was a perfect compliment.

The burger I ordered was the Chickpea and Sweet Potato Burger – House made Chickpea and Sweet Potato Patty with Harissa Yoghurt, Pico de Gallo, Pickled Jalapenos and Roquette. I absolutely loved the chickpea and sweet potato patty – the sweetness of the potato together with the nutty flavour of the chickpea was sensational. The addition of the harissa yoghurt was a great “sauce” for the burger. I also liked the bun that came with this burger – complete with seasame and pumpkin seeds.

Most other people around the table ordered the Wagyu Beef and Bacon Burger – 150gm Wagyu Beef Patty with Bacon, Molten Gruyere Cheese, Caramelised Onion, PIckles and Chipotle Mayo. They all enjoyed the burger and thought that the Wagyu Beef was cooked quite well.

D ordered the 12 Hour Roasted Lamb and Black Bean – Hunks of Lamb marinated for 2 days in a mix of Dried Chilies, Cumin, Cinnamon, Vinegar then Slow Roasted served with Braised Black Beans. He wasn’t too thrilled with the flavours and as a result didn’t really enjoy his dish.

Overall, I thought the food was pretty good here at The Spotted Mallard. I love places that make their food in house and the burger I had was up there with my top veggie burgers. Check it out for a casual and laid back dinner out – or even some Trivia if you head there on Tuesdays!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://www.spottedmallard.com/menu/ – There are Small Dishes, Poutines, Bigger Dishes, Burgers and Sandwiches, Sides and Salads
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Eclectic, Vintage and Funky
Standout Dish:
Service:
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.spottedmallard.com/contact/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.spottedmallard.com/
314 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Tel No: 9380 8818

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Friday: 4:00pm – 1:00am
Saturday: 2:00pm – 1:00am
Sunday: 2:00pm to 11:00pm

The Spotted Mallard on Urbanspoon