InstaShake Masterclass – Yelp x Naughty Boy Cafe

Yelp and Naughty Boy Masterclass - My Creation 2My InstaShake Creation

Yelp and Naughty Boy Masterclass - A mix of InstaShakes 2Sample of some of the other creations!

I was lucky enough to be invited to an InstaShake Masterclass that was held by Yelp Melbourne in collaboration with Naughty Boy Cafe. If you haven’t checked out Naughty Boy Cafe – I highly recommend you do. The aim of the day was to create our very own InstaShake – for which Naughty Boy Cafe have become famous for. Check out their Instagram page for the different flavour creations (https://www.instagram.com/naughtyboycafe) as well on their website (http://www.naughtyboycafe.com.au/gallery/).
They also do amazing breakkie and brunch dishes – I have had their Red Velvet Pancakes which are tastier than they sound – It comes with Strawberries, Ruby Grapefruit, Raspberries, Burnt Meringue, Vanilla Mascarpone, Popping Candy – and tastes simply divine!

Back to the Masterclass! This Masterclass involved  around 30 of us being able to create our very own InstaShake. We had access a whole lot of ingredients that we could use to create the tallest, colourful-est, rad-dest InstaShake. Scroll thru the images below to see some of the ingredients we had to use.

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Here are the steps to creating your very own InstaShake

1. Select a rim flavour (to put around the rim of the jar) – we had the choices of Nutella, Peanut Butter or Spiced
2. Select a sauce to go on the inside – we had the choices of Chocolate, Caramel, Strawberry or Maple Syrup
3. Select a shake flavour – Rose Strawberry, Blue Heaven, Winter Spice and Chocolate
4. Fill with Freeze dried berries or fruit
5 and 6. Select toppers – Pistachio Blondie, Chocolate Waffle, Berry Good Apple Slice, Sticky Date Rice Pudding just to name a few
7. Add more freeze dried fruit if you wish
8. Finish with Popping Candy, Honeycomb, Coconut Flakes, Lemon Balm or 100s and 1000s
9. Voila!! InstaShake created!

 

InstaShake Step by Step

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Nora – Home of the Charcoal Tarts!

panda 4 rating

Nora is a newly opened Thai inspired bakery and café, located on Elgin Street in Carlton. Owned by couple Jean Thamthanakorn and Sari (Tong) Rojanametin who are each individually responsible for various elements here at Nora – Jean for her spectacular charcoal tarts and Sari for his magnificent homemade sourdough.

Tong is a former artist and photographer and has previously worked in the coffee industry for a few years with stints at St Ali, Seven Seeds and Traveller. Most recently he has pursued cooking and worked at The Commoner, Longrain and Mr Nice Guy. Jean is a tax accountant as well as a self-taught baker and has honed in on a skill of baking over the last few years by baking for family and friends. It was Jean’s love of baking and her inventiveness that brought above the creation of charcoal tarts.

These charcoal tarts are seriously better than cronuts and will certainly take not only Melbourne but the rest of Australia by storm – they are amazingly divine! The tarts have a distinctive black pastry shell which is achieved by the addition of small amounts of food-grade activated charcoal which is made from coconut husks. Food-grade activated charcoal is safe to ingest and has reported healthy benefits such as being a detoxifier.
The tarts are filled with a variety of flavour combinations that have taken inspiration from the couples South East Asian background. Flavours include Lemongrass & Ginger Brûlée, Coconut Pandan, Strawberries with Tamarind Cream Cheese and Kaffir-Lime Custard with Sour Cherries. Get in quick each day as Jean only makes a limited number (around 100 a day).

The menu at Nora is simple; but reads and shows the depth of experience and advanced techniques of an experienced chef. There are six dishes to choose from – Our Water + Salt, Egg, Salmon, Bacon, Rice and Nora Flakes. Don’t be fooled by the simplistic mostly one worded headings, as when you read the elements that go into making that entire dish you will be impressed. For example the Salmon has been lightly smoked and jasmine cured, and is served with coconut, nashi and nasturtium. The Our Water and Salt comes served on a cute wooden tray with house made sourdough, semi churned butter, chicken-liver parfait together with ricotta and jam. The Nora Flakes consist of puffed polenta, wild rice, quinoa and crystallised nuts – and if you have seen any pictures they have a great marketing tool which is a mini-box with NORA MORN FLAKES plastered on the front.
They also serve a great selection of teas with Small Batch coffee being pumped out of their La Marzocco machines.

The interior of Nora is light filled, airy and very modern. As you step inside you are greeted by an illuminated sign with the letters NORA lit up. The next thing that catches your eye is the shiny new La Marzocco coffee machine, together with coffee smells in the air. A point of difference at Nora is the white table topped wooden table that have ingredients displayed out in an artistic manner which entices you to go over. Over to one side is a bunch of lemongrass paired with lemons and ginger. Just above this is a whole coconut, paired together with charcoal and the coconut husk base. There are also other ingredients paired together such as eggs, chocolate and sesame. Their décor is simple and minimalistic yet captures ones attention.
Tables are wooden and low paired with stylish round stools – and can seat from two to four people – there is limited seating available outside. From most tables you can take a sneak peak into the preparation of your meals as it overlooks the main counter.

I ordered a latte to start which was full bodied, aromatic and delicious – with notes of citrus and nuttiness. The perfect pick me up and start to what would be a great meal!

I was tossing up between the SALMON and the EGG and decided to go with EGG dish. This dish comes with Egg cooked in Nora’s special way, House Chilli Dressing, Garlic, Salted Shrimps and Thai Greens. I was very interested in seeing what Eggs done Nora’s way would be like. The dish came out with the Asian Greens dominating the round, deep plate, with the Egg hidden underneath. The House Chilli Dressing, Salted Shrimps were placed sporadically around the Egg and Asian Greens. The Asian Greens were refreshing and a very distinct Thai flavour to them – I loved the variety of greens that were use, they all worked seamlessly together. The Egg itself was reminiscent of tofu – smooth and silky and easy to eat – paired with the house chilli dressing – which had the perfect level of spice – together with the saltiness of the shrimps – was really delicious. It is the type of dish that makes you keep going back for more.
A definite highlight of the dish was the freshly made sourdough bread that came served in its own cup off to the side. The bread was heavenly – soft and fluffy on the inside, crunchy and texture on the outside with just the right amount of saltiness. It was that that great that I later asked how they made this bread – if only I was that skilful!

 

You cannot leave Nora without trying their signature charcoal tarts. I was worried as I knew that only a certain number was made; and I had arrived about an hour and a half before closing time. However I was in luck, they still two flavours left and I opted for the Kaffir-Lime and Sour Cherry Charcoal tart.
When it comes out to you it is covered with the silver dish that it would have been baked in to create the element of suspense and surprise. The unveiling of the charcoal tart builds up anticipation and delight. Once uncovered, the brilliant blackness of the tart is revealed along with bits of crumble and pistachio that surrounds the main black beauty. Once you delve into the tart you are greeted with the distinct Thai flavours (Kaffir Lime in this case) paired perfectly with a western element (Sour Cherries). The tart filling is gooey, smooth and velvety all at the same time. What makes these tarts especially amazing is the charcoal casing itself – it is flaky, crisp and soft – it literally melts in your mouth and you really could find yourself eating tart after tart after tart. The perfect addition of pistachios and crumble added texture and depth to the tarts. I cannot wait to come back and sample all the other flavour varieties.

Nora is a great new addition to the Carlton area – especially bringing Thai inspired breakfasts into the mix. Their signature charcoal tarts are (in my opinion) better than cronuts and would recommend anyone and everyone to try them – after all the charcoal used does have some health benefits! Get down to Nora now!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to picture above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Laid back and Relaxed
Standout Dish: Any of the charcoal tarts
Service: Very Friendly and Welcoming
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
noramelbourne.com
156 Elgin Street, Carlton
Tel No: 9041 8644

Opening Hours:
Monday, Wednesday & Thursday: CLOSED
Tuesday: 7:00am – 3:30pm
Friday to Sunday: 8:00am – 4:00pm

Nora on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noramelburn?fref=ts
Instagram: nora_melbourne
Twitter: @Nora_Melbourne

St Ali Masterclass – Madame Truffles, Pasta Classica & Pepe Saya

st ali

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I follow St Ali North on Instagram and saw a post about a Truffle Masterclass being held– it was to be hosted in collaboration with Pasta Classica, Pepe Saya and Madame Truffles. Pasta making, Butter making and learning all about truffles were to be covered and Entry was Free – so I decided to RSVP and check it out.

I arrived at St Ali – this was my first time to St Ali North, I have previously been to St Ali in Carlton – and there were quite a few people already present. The fit out was very modern – complete with an array of windows and wooden ledge seating. I can just envision what it would look like during the day – for breakfast and lunch – with the light streaming into the venue and enveloping the entire venue in a positive and relaxed vibe. The masterclass was carried out in the main dining area – situated past the main counter/bar. Chairs were set up in order to sit and enjoy the show.

Before the show you got the chance to enjoy some free canapés – which included a Stuffed mushroom and Sourdough as well as Bread with Truffled butter – both of which were delicious! You also got the chance to chat to “Madame Brussels” and learn as well as ask questions about the wonderful world of truffles. She showed us different truffles from around the country and explained the difference in smell between the truffles that come from the varying states. She also gave out ideas of how you could use truffles in everyday cooking such as topping your breakkie eggs, using them over a linguini mushroom pasta or even mixing it with butter and serving it with some lovely sourdough. Madame Truffles also informed us that they were experimenting with the use of truffles in the sweet world. They had white chocolate and truffle macaroons for sale on this night to purchase and sample. Since the Masterclass , more experiementing has been done and I have seen that they have created Monte Carlos using truffles as well (via their Instagram) – I cannot wait to see what else they experiment and create. You can follow their updates by following their Instagram at madametruffles.

The Masterclass started off with a talk from Madame Truffles enthusiastically telling everyone about the wonderful world of Truffles as well as interesting facts about them – such as it can take up to 10 years to grow truffles and in order to track down and find Truffles they use dogs! Another thing to note about truffles is that the bigger the aroma, the better the truffle and the more expensive the truffle will be. She then passed around different types of truffles for us to smell. Later I learnt that the price of truffles (on that day) was upward of $3.50 per gram! Expensive indeed, but when you taste the unique flavouring you start to understand why. Madame Truffles’ are freshly harvested each weekend and sourced from the very best truffleres in New South Wales, Western Australia, Tasmania and around Victoria. SHOP?

Following on from Madame Truffles – was a hands-on demonstration by Pasta Classica’s Daniel Tonin on the art of making pasta. Tonight the star of the show was the Tortelloni (Tortellini are the smaller size pasta parcels, whilst Tortelloni are the larger variety).
Tonin informs the class that in order to make pasta all you need is two ingredients – 400g Italian “00” flour (or plain flour) and 13 egg yolks (no whites!) – you may also want to add a pinch of salt as your liking for taste. I never knew that making pasta could be so easy! The egg yolks are what give the pasta its colour and flavour.
The technique to create the pasta is to place the flour on a clean bench and make a hole in the centre – here you place the 13 egg yolks. Then using muscle power, knead the mix through. If you rather you can use a Kenwood mixer instead.
Tonin then showed us how the correct way to pass the pasta through a pasta machine in order to get the right thickness of pasta. After this he then shows the class how to make the tortellini shape once we have rolled out our pasta. After each stage in the pasta making process, Tonin passes around the pasta to allow us to touch and feel the texture that it is meant to be – I find this to be very useful as you get a better understanding for when you try and make it at home.
Tonin also gives us a recipe for the filling inside the tortelloni – this filling consists of Potatoes, Pepes’ Butter, Parmesan Cheese, Tallegio Cheese, Thyme, Garlic with Pepper and Salt for taste. We are told that we will be sampling some of Tonin’s handmade pasta later on. Yum!

Next up in the Masterclass is Pepe Saya who takes us through a butter-making demonstration. Saya starts off with giving us back ground into the butter making process. The butter making process commences with the use of sour milk, to this you add the bacteria Lacto Bacilis and let it ferment. The result of this is crème fraiche. If you keep crème fraiche for around 3 weeks and then scrape the mould – the end result will be Buttermilk. Buttermilk is mostly commonly used in pancakes – and it is what gives the pancakes its fluffiness as a result of its reaction with the yeast.

I never realised that it was it was quite an easy process to make butter at home if you wanted to. You can start off by using bought Crème Fraiche from the supermarkets, mixing this in a Kenwood mixer. You will start to see butter forming after a few minutes – this is what is called butter in the popcorn state – as it resembles kernels of popcorn. You will find that Buttermilk is also produced – and this is what the Popcorn State butter will be sitting in. You will need to wash the Buttermilk out with Filtered Cold Water. Once you have the popcorn state butter on its own – you can knead it together and serve it up. You may also want to put some salt in for taste, unless of course you are after unsalted butter.
We then got to taste the butter that Saya had just made – it was creamy and very fresh!

After the formal part was over, we got a chance to mingle and listen to the great voice of Natasha. You can check out her website at www.natashamusic.com.au or follow her on Twitter @natashamusic_, Instagram – natashamusic_
This girl can sing and her voice is amazing! On the night she had only the backing of guitarist Mat Fagan – which allowed her true vocal skills to shine. Definitely go and check out where she will be performing next.

I met some really fun and food loving people and learnt a lot from this Masterclass. Pasta Classica had their products for sale and I bought the Ravioli with Feta, Parsley and Lemon Myrtle. Danny told me a simple way to cook with this pasta is to toss it in some oil and grate zucchini over the top and you have a really great dish. This is what I did and true to his word – it was delicious! The combination of the lemon myrtle was a real highlight and worked fantastically with the sourness of the feta and flavours of parsley. I will definitely be checking out their store to see what other unique and interesting flavours they have. It’s really great to know of a place that makes pasta fresh daily – in a variety of flavours that cater for any dietary requirements.

I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more Masterclasses organised by St Ali in the future and would recommend everyone try this one!

Madame Truffles
Madame Truffles winter shop opens for six week during the peak of the Australian truffle season.

Dates: Thursday 3rd July to Saturday 9th August, 2014.
Days:
Thursday, Friday and Saturday
Time:
9am to 5pm

Location: 17 Yarra Place, South Melbourne
Tel No:
0430 017 480

Website: http://madametruffles.com.au/
Email:
truffles@madametruffles.com.au
Twitter:

Instagram:
madametruffles
______________________________________________________________

Pasta Classica – Retail Store
Location: 352 Smith St, Collingwood VIC 3066
Tel No:9419 2366

Pasta Classica – Factory
Location: Factory 9/ 25 Hocking St, Coburg, VIC
Tel No: 9350 6736

Website: http://www.pastaclassica.com.au/
Email: sales@pastaclassica.com.au
Twitter: pastaclassica
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Pasta.Classica
Instagram: dannypasta

Pasta Classica on Urbanspoon

_____________________________________________________________

Pepe Saya

Location: Factory, Unit 4, 3 Wood Street, Tempe, NSW
Tel No: 9559 1113

Phone: 02 9559 1113 (leave Message)
Mobile: 0401 191 896 (Speak to Pepe)
Website: http://www.pepesaya.com.au/
Email: info@pepesaya.com.au
Twitter: pepesaya
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Pepesaya
Instagram: pepesaya

_____________________________________________________________

St Ali North
Location: 815 Nicholson St, Carlton North
Tel No: 9380 5455

Website: http://www.stali.com.au/
Twitter: @ST_ALI
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stali
Instagram: stalinorth

St Ali North on Urbanspoon

Popol Nah – Latin American in Carlton

panda 3.5 rating

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After the footy one evening N & I needed a place for dinner and decided to venture to the Carlton area. We used to frequent this area quite a bit back in the uni days, but as of late this hasn’t been the case. Carlton (Lygon Street in particular) is best known for its abundance of Italian restaurants filled with pizzas, pastas and gelatos – and lesser known for other cuisines such as Thai, Latin American or even Modern Australian. I had come across Popol Nah a Latin American fusion restaurant located at the city end of Lygon Street and decided to try it out on this night.

Popol Nah – which can be roughly translated to “The Peoples House” occupies a medium sized space – set amongst the Italian competition of course – and has an interesting design element to it. There are wooden planks running along one wall, overlapping each other in a haphazard style that oozes creativeness along with a modern version of a moose head. On the other is a textured crinkled white wall, together with two antlers hanging. There are large sticks placed in a vase of water which is located at the bar. Quirky, fun and a tad bit strange but it works. There is a communal table at the front of the main dining area, along with wooden tables that seat from two to larger parties. There is also seating at the front on Lygon street itself, as well as small courtyard at the back. Popol Nah can seat around 80 people. The interior is created by Peter Strateas and Mario Luca Carlucci of Strateas (a Brunswick based label). Popol Nah is open 7 days a week for both brunch and dinner.

The menu is created by New York based, Honduran born Cali Rivera and constitutes of South American and Latin fusion cuisine. The dinner menu is split into three sections – Chicos (Small dishes), Intermedio (In Between dishes) and ends with Carnes (Meats). There is also a Desserts menu with a selection of 5 different dishes such as Dulce de Leche, Rice Pudding, Chocolate Cake and Poached Quince just to name a few. There is also a Brunch Menu available which is split into 7 sections – Licuados (Smoothies), Huevos (Eggs) – you can choose from Baked Eggs or Scrambled Eggs, Ensaladas (Salads) – you can choose from two different vegetarian salads such as Mixed Seasonal Fruit with Mint and Ginger or Zucchini, Kale, Cucumber and Pickled Veggies, Bocadillos (Sandwiches), Empanadas (Baked Pasties) – there is a vegetarian option – chickpea, sweet potato, silver beet with crème fresca or one with chorizo and potato with coriander mayo, Anafres (Hot Plates) – which constitute of cheese fondue and lastly Mas Comida (More Food) – which have dishes such as Lamb & Beef Meatballs, Patatas Bravas and Prawn skewers.

There is also an extensive drinks menu – from Sangrias, Cocktails to a variety of Wines – from countries like Spain, Chile, Argentina and Australia – to an interesting selection of non-alcoholic drinks. Carolyn Brown the sommelier has a great understanding and knowledge of drinks and has put together a great selection. I decided to try the Chicha Morada – a non-alcoholic drink which had Purple Corn, Pineapple, Cinnamon and Cloves. The drink was purple in colour – due to the use of purple corn of course. I have never had purple corn before – but I think that it essentially tastes the same as yellow corn but has better health benefits and a higher amount of antioxidants. The combination of pineapple, cinnamon and cloves made for an interesting taste – not too sweet with spicy hints. It was a non-alcoholic version of a sangria and I really enjoyed it.

The first dish we ordered was the Empanada De Chorizo Y Papa – Chorizo and Potato in Baked Pastry with Coriander Mayo. N really enjoyed this – the pastry was crisp, crunchy and tasty on the outside with the chorizo and potato filling on the inside flavoursome and light. The mayo was creamy and a delicious addition.

I ordered the Ceviche De Camaron – Carribean Style Ceviche – Shrimp, Red Onion, Lime, Coriander, Tomato and Chips. The combination of ingredients was refreshing – I especially liked the addition of the coriander and lime. My favourite part of this dish was the chips – they were crispy, crunchy and tasted delicious. They had just the right amount of seasoning and worked well with the ceviche. I also liked the presentation of the dish – it came out in a stone mortar and pestle and the way in which the ceviche and chips were positioned reminded me of a bouquet of flowers.

The last dish we ordered was the Cordero Ranchero – Slow Cooked Lamb Shank in Spicy Tomato, Fresh And Dried Peppers with Quinoa, Kale and Cucumber Salad. The lamb was cooked beautifully and fell off the bone – just what you want from a dish like this. The sauce looked spicy and N said it did have a hint of spice to it. I tried the Quinoa, Kale and Cucumber Salad – which was fresh, flavoured with a tang as well as a hint of chilli – the perfect combination. The dish was presented well again – the contrast of the blue background of the rectangular plate against the bright browny red sauce was magnificent.

The service of the staff is great – everyone that served us was really friendly and happy to offer us suggestions and ensure we had everything we needed.

The brunch menu looks really interesting and I will definitely be back to try out some of their dishes. The décor is interesting and very different to anything you would normally find on Lygon Street. Head down and check out some great tasting South American fusion food.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – For the Brunch, Dinner and Drinks menu refer to http://popolnah.com.au/?cat=2
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Interesting, Unique and Funky. Great relaxed feel.
Standout Dish: Empanada De Chorizo Y Papa
Service: Friendly, Helpful and Warm
Online Booking: No, but Popol Nah takes bookings.
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://popolnah.com.au/
171 Lygon Street, Carlton
Tel No: 9347 3293

Opening Hours:
Monday to Thursday: 11:30am – 10:00pm
Friday & Saturday: 11:30am – 11:00pm
Sunday: 11:30am – 10:00pm

Popol Nah on Urbanspoon

Epocha – Tasty & Wholesome Food!

panda-4-5-rating4

halal (1)(ONLY THE CHICKEN IS HALAL)

Epocha which means ‘a new or distinctive era’ in a variety of European languages is a newly opened restaurant in Rathdowne Street, Carlton. It is located in the stunning heritage listed Victorian terrace which overlooks Carlton Gardens. And as owner Angie Giannakodakis, researched and discovered that it was commissioned by gentlewoman Hannah Mabel in 1884 – and the upstairs bar pays homage to her and is aptly called Hannah’s Bar.

Epocha is European inspired restaurant and bar brought to you by Angie Giannakodakis (former front-of-house manager The Press Club) together with business partner Guy Holder. The head chef is Mick Bolam who is the former head chef of Restaurant Sanctuary at Peppers in the Hunter Valley. The main focus of Epocha is around its main philosophy – sharing tasty and wholesome food. It is home style food that pays tribute to its European traditions with touches of Greek, English and French influences (such as the charcuterie and cheeses).

As you walk up the stairs to the terrace house entrance you know that you are about to expect something that you will be awe of – and you wont be disappointed. A elegant and rustic dining room welcomes you complete with wooden floors (that are creaky for authenticity), low hanging lights, dark wooden furniture with a colourful tiled table top, a huge old school style clock on the wall and homely olive green chairs. It really has a homely feel to it and you know you are in good hands as the service is impeccable, warm and welcoming – you just fit right in.

In addition to the main downstairs dining area, there is an upstairs area / function room with a balcony – this is Hannah’s Bar. You can come here for casual drinks as well as play games of backgammon.

We were seating in the downstairs dining area and the first thing that caught my idea was a wooden trolley which had a variety of cheeses as well as desserts on offer. What also caught my eye on the trolley was the wooden frame which housed honeycomb and honey. Such a great idea which once again makes it feel more homely. The menu is split into different sections such as snacks, small shares, large shares, accompaniments, dessert & cheese. There is also a sharing menu which is $68 per person where the Chef will pick what dishes your table gets. We decided to pick some dishes from each of the snacks, small shares, large shares and accompaniments. The waitress was helpful in letting us know if she thought we had ordered too many dishes, and assisted us in choosing our dishes as well.

Whilst we waited for our food we were given warm bread which comes in a knotted cloth bag which is something different. The bread (rye and caraway seed) was freshly made, soft and delicious. I got an oyster to start off with – fresh and tasty. We also got Mushroom Aranchini and Jamon, Fior Di Latte Croquettes to start off with. The Mushroom Aranchini was crumbed and crunchy on the outside and the filling on the inside was perfectly seasoned, and the mushrooms were moist and tasty. My friends did enjoy the Jamon Croquettes as well, and they were on the large side so that was an added bonus. We also got the Spiced Chickpea and Bread Crisps. The spiced chickpea was quite tasty and had a great balance of tanginess and spice. I loved the addition of the bread crisps – I enjoyed the crunchiness against the chickpea dip.

Some of the smaller share dishes that we selected were – Spring Asparagus with Slow Cooked Hens Egg, Tarragon and the Baby Carrots, Honey, Goat’s Curd, Sesame, Beetroot and Skate, Caper, Lemon, Parsley, Fava and lastly the Confit Duck Leg, Peas, Lettuce. The asparagus dish was a very different and interesting dish  – the asparagus was simply sautéed and absorbed the flavours of the tarragon, the hens egg was perfectly cooked and once you cracked it open the yolk oozed out and served as an additional sauce for the asparagus. The flavour combination was a mash of flavours that worked.

The Beetroot and Honey dish was my favourite dish and to this day I talk about it. I LOVED IT. The honey together with the goats curd was a great mix and was delicious – add in the sweetness and softness of the beetroot and carrots and you truly have a memorable dish. Highly recommended.

Skate is a type of large marine fish and this dish came with capers, lemon and fava – which is a type of bean. The sauce was tangy and creamy all at the same time. The skate was cooked fantastically and was still moist and mild in flavour. You really did need the addition of the capers and the sauce to really make the dish and make them it did. Another really tasty dish.

Once we had finished our snacks and smaller share dishes, it time for the larger shares. First up we got the Bird – which consisted of the breast, wing, thigh and leg. Crispy and crackly on the outside, moist and simply seasoned on the inside. This dish was served with a swig of rosemary. The whole fish that we got was Flounder – this came with Fruit Rub, Dill, Lemon and Salsa Verde. The dish comes out to the table as a whole fish and then we get to watch our waitress de-bone the entire fish for us. It’s a great process to watch as they seem to glide through the process – I could never do it with such ease. The fish is buttery and cooked amazingly, the salsa verde and fruit rub give it a mix of tangy and sweetness – you could add lemon if you needed an additional tang. We did order another larger dish but it was never brought out – and we were actually alright with that anyway as we were all so full and still had dessert to go.

Dessert time meant that the trolley was wheeled over to us for us to decide – they all cost $12. We settled on getting one of each dessert – Crème brulee, Chocolate Gateau, Tiramasu and Lemon & Ricotta Cannoli. The Crème brulee was smooth, sweet and small with a delicious crackling on top. The Lemon & Ricotta Cannoli was crunchy and the pastry was delicious – the lemon filling was buttery, sharp and strong all at the same time. The tiramisu ( I couldn’t have this as it had lots of alcohol in it) was quite alcohol filled as my friends told me but delicious nonetheless. The Chocolate Gateau was a clear winner – from the brownie bass to the centre chocolate mousse filling and topped off with a ganache chocolate topping. It looked as rich as it sounds but was such a great way to finish a fantastic meal.

Epocha is a fantastic place that everyone should definitely check it out – be it for a casual drink upstairs or if its a meal at the dining room downstairs. The atmosphere is homely, welcoming and quaint and the service is one of the best that I have experienced in Melbourne. There is antique silverware, vintage cutlery and crockery, colorful table tops, wooden creaky floors all which add to its uniqueness. There is also an international wine selection and the staff are happy to assist in getting you the right selection. If there is one place that should be on your list of places to try out it should be EPOCHA.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Dinner Menu – can be found at http://epocha.com.au/pdf/Epocha-Menu.pdf
On Sundays there is a four course menu available for a Family Sunday priced at $45 pp
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience:
Standout Dish: Baby Carrots, Honey, Goats Curd, Seasame, Beetroot (this is my new fave salad – IT’S THAT GOOD!!)
Service: Fantastic and Attentive and Friendly. We asked our waitress quite a bit of questions and she answered all of them and if she didn’t know the answer, she found out. They are also very inviting and hospitable. All round great service!
Online Booking: They are currently updating their website so it is best to call or email at eat@epocha.com.au
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://epocha.com.au/
49 Rathdowne St, Carlton
Tel No: 9036 4949

Opening Hours:
Closed Mondays
Lunch
Tuesday to Saturday: From 12pm
Dinner
Tuesday to Saturday: 5:30pm to Late
Sunday Roast Lunch: 12pm to 4pm

Hannah’s Bar
Tuesday to Saturday: 12pm to Late

Epocha on Urbanspoon

The Town Mouse – Great Addition to Carlton

panda-4-5-rating4

L and I headed to dinner to The Town Mouse on a Wednesday night. The Town Mouse has replaced the former fine dining restaurant Embrasse on Drummond Street in Carlton. The team behind this creation is the brother and sisters team of Christian McCabe (Honky Tonks and one of New Zealand’s best restaurants The Matterhorn) and Amber McCabe (Longrain), as well as Jay Comeskey (Amber’s husband).

The Town Mouse feels welcoming from the moment you walk in to the massive COME IN for GOOD TIMES welcome mat style etched into the entrance doorway. As you step in you are greeted by the glistening black tiles which are on all four walls, the centrepiece is the black bar which is lit up in all the right places and has a gunmetal grey lattice work, and is surrounded with high raw wooden stools and vintage lampshades which are dropped from the ceiling. The atmosphere is comfortable yet sophisticated. I love the use of wood against the backdrop of black – the only drawback being that there is only high stool seating.

The menu developed together with chef Dave Verheul has a strong emphasis on sharing plates and sits perfectly between the fine dining and casual categories. The menu  has been inspired by a Modern European style with flavours of Asia along the way, and is split into 6 different sections – To Start, Raw,  To Share, Vegetables (there are 5 different dishes to choose from), Meat & Fish and lastly Dessert. Looking at the dishes and the combinations of ingredients, there was a lot there that caught my attention – it was hard to just settle on a select few dishes to share between the two of us. The wine list consists of a wide selection and has been devised with the help of Lachlan Barber.

Once we had decided what we wanted and were waiting for our dishes to arrive – we were given bread along with seaweed butter. I am always a bit apprehensive about dishes that contain seaweed, but the seaweed flavour was subtle and added to the normal butter taste.

L and I started with something from the To Start section (how fitting =p) – we got the Goat’s Cheese Profiterole, Caraway, Thyme & Our Honey. They came out in tiny round morsels with a crisp crunchy outside casing and the Goat’s Cheese filling together with the spice & herbs was delicious. What made the dish interesting was the addition of the honey. I really do like the combination of the tangy cheese and the sweetness of the honey. This is a definite must try dish – a mix of savoury and sweet flavours!

Next up we got the Crab & Gurnard Terrine, Salted Lemon Curd, Nori, Pea Leaves and Crab Essence. This dish comes out beautifully presented and resembled a garden with the Crab & Gurnard Terrine being the flowers. Gurnard for those of you who don’t know is a type of sea fish. This was a dish full of flavour and textures – the terrine was soft and dense and the nori was crisp and salty. The combination of this was great and the salted lemon curd further enhanced this.

We followed up both these dishes with the Steamed Diamond Shell Clams, Black Mussels, Clam Bisque, Fennel & Rosemary and also got the Kipflers cooked in Toasted Hay, Buttermilk, Crisp Sage & Almond Brown Butter. We were also given extra bread to go with the Clam and Mussel dish to soak up the Clam Bisque – thoughtful! This dish was tasty and the seafood was fresh. The Clam Bisque was flavorsome and delicious (and there was heaps of this so the bread was definitely needed). When reading the Kipflers dish I loved the sound of all the components – especially the combination of the sage and almond brown butter – and it certainly wasn’t a let down when it came out. Once again the dish was beautifully presented with a fantastic taste to match. The almond brown butter and the buttermilk were delicious and the potatoes were cooked perfectly with the skin having a nice crunch to it in certain areas.

Next up was time for dessert and there were two dishes that caught my eye, so we asked our waiter which one we should try. He won us over with the description of the Chocolate Tart with Thai Flavors. Once again presentation of this dish was immaculate. The Chocolate tart was a rich deep dark brown colour that had a shiny glaze and was surrounded with the “Thai Flavours” – there was cucumber, mint, kaffir lime leaves, powders and crumbs. This was one of the most interesting dessert dishes I have tasted – the mix of chocolate and veggies in a sense was thrilling and actually tasted really good! The chocolate was rich and divine. A must try for all chocolate lovers.

The staff at The Town Mouse were friendly, attentive, helpful and accommodating which all added to the experience. By the time we had gotten our meals the place was buzzing and the atmosphere was warm, cool and suave all at the same time. I have already recommended this place to some of my friends and would definitely be heading back to try out the other dishes (really want to try out the Smoked Barramundi!). The Town Mouse is an awesome addition to the Melbourne food scene and the food is simply amazing – it really has surpassed its predecessors that used to accompany this venue. CHECK IT OUT for GREAT times =)

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Have a look at http://www.thetownmouse.com.au/downloads/Hungry.pdf  Wine List at http://www.thetownmouse.com.au/downloads/Thirsty.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cool, Sophisticated, Welcoming and Warm. Fantastic place for a catchup with friends, celebration – you really could spend a lot of time here.
Standout Dish: Goat’s Cheese Profiterole, Caraway, Thyme & Our Honey
Service: Fantastic and Attentive – Very Friendly as well.
Online Booking: No – But it would be best to call them up and make a reservation, as they do get quite full. There are two dinner sitting times as well.
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.thetownmouse.com.au
312 Drummond Street, Carlton
Tel No: 9347 3312

Opening Hours:
Wednesday: 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Thursday to Sunday: 12:00 pm – 11:00 pm

The Town Mouse on Urbanspoon

Small Victories – Great Carlton Food Victory!

panda 4 rating

Small Victories is a cafe / restaurant that is located is the leafy streets of North Carlton in Rathdowne Street. It is an eat’n’drinkery opened by chef Alric Hansen and Ben Farrant that operates as a cafe by day and a restaurant at night. The space is small but has an long marble counter at the front which serves drinks and coffees, and houses a selection of impressive vinyl records. The music played whilst dining here are played on a turntable adding to the fun.

There are many different cosy areas where you can dine – from the tables outside to enjoy the sunshine, to inside where there are timber tables as well as communal tables (also for the larger crowds). There are stools along the marble countertop or seats along the window to enjoy the scenery that Rathdowne street has to offer. There is also an upstairs dining area with a mini skylight / atrium area.

The decor is vintage and modern all at the same time, and my favourite feature of the restaurant was the skylight which streamed in natural light right above our table, as well as the naked light bulb with a groovy filament on the inside. I am really starting to love these lightbulbs (if only it would suit my house!). The walls are white and feature not much artwork which create a modern feel.

Small Victories offers a great menu variety which ranges from simple eggs with sides, baked eggs to sweeter offerings including yoghurt, muesli and fruit toast. There are also organic, vegetarian and gluten free options available. The dishes can be best described as Modern Australian dishes with imagination, flair and glam! The combination of their dishes are like no other and from the dishes that I tried, really do work. Lunches consists of a selection of Sandwiches – which are not your ordinary types of sandwiches – for example there is an Advieh Spied Poon Boon Lamb, Organic Labne, Pickled Cucumber and Herbs sandwich – sounds interesting right? There are also a selection of such as pasta, steak or veggie dishes. 

My friends and I arrived for breakfast and started off with coffees – I had a latte – which was amazing. The beans are sourced from Wide Open Road blends and have nutty and creamy tastes too it, yet still strong. I also ordered a freshly squeezed orange juice whilst I waited for my breakfast. My friend ordered the Small Victories Mixed Grill; Fried Egg, Breakfast Sausage, Black Pudding, Croquette, Streaky Bacon, Baked Beans, and I ordered the Veggie Baked Eggs. Both dishes came out at the same time and were very impressive looking. My friends Mixed Grill came in a terracotta pot with a slice of bread on the side, as did my Baked Eggs. I love how the butter was placed on the toasty warm bread – which allowed the butter to be spreadable and perfect. I thought this was a great idea and haven’t seen it in any other cafes’ so far.

My Baked Eggs dish was scrumptious and consisted of eggs, tomato, potato with onions and topped with a hollandaise sauce. The sauce that the veggies were baked in was flavoursome and had a bit of spice to it. The veggies had a bit of crunch to them and the hollandaise was just perfect in every way. The combination made for a very good and filling dish – it did take me longer than normal to finish this dish. My friend enjoyed her mixed grill and due to the sheer size took a good while to finish the dish as well.

As we were there for quite some time and I felt like something sweet we decided to order the Melon, Mango, Lime & Ginger Sago, Passionfruit, Basil Seed, Puffed Brown Rice, Candied Coconut dish. This is a really great summer dish to eat, and it was a very hot day in Melbourne (37 degrees!!!), it really hit the spot! The combination of the fruits together with the sago and basil seeds were great. There was the crunch and hardness of the fruits against the softness and gooeyness of the sago and the basil seeds. The puffed rice I wasn’t a huge fan of but my friend loved this addition, and said it brought the whole dish together. I would definitely recommend this dish (even if its not a 37 degree day).

One let down of this place was the waitress that we had – she never once smiled and was a bit rude when we wanted to order extra drinks or dishes. On the plus side when the owners served us, he was fantastic and friendly.

This place is a must try for all in and around the area as well from afar. It is a great little place to try out and spend a whole morning – the menu certainly has a dish for everyone. It will be interesting to come back at dinner time and check out the dishes then as well as experiencing Small Victories as a bar.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Breakfast (http://smallvictoriesrestaurant.com.au/breakfast/), Lunch (http://smallvictoriesrestaurant.com.au/lunch/) and Dinner (http://smallvictoriesrestaurant.com.au/dinner/) and Bar (http://smallvictoriesrestaurant.com.au/bar/) menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Vintage yet Modern, comfortable and cosy – you can spend hours just chatting away.
Standout Dish: Melon, Mango, Lime & Ginger Sago, Passionfruit, Basil Seed, Puffed Brown Rice, Candied Coconut dish
Service: So-So – we might have gone on an off day – the waitress was unfriendly, however the owner made up for it and was super friendly.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://smallvictoriesrestaurant.com.au/
617 Rathdowne St,
Carlton North
Tel No: 9347 4064

Opening Hours:
Closed Mondays
Tuesday: 8am to 4pm
Wednesday: 8am to 10:30pm
Thursday – Saturday: 8am to 10:30pm
Sunday: 9am to 5pm

Small Victories on Urbanspoon