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

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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

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Mr Big Stuff – Bringing Soul to Melbourne

panda 4.5 rating

 

Menu:
Drinks Menu
Food Menu House Spirits Menu

A and I were due for our regular dinner catch up and she suggested we check out Mr Big Stuff. We tried to book a table but due to its newness & popularity there were no tables available, however they did inform us that if we came in we could sit at the bar – so this is what we did.

Mr Big Stuff is the new, funky and soul filled restaurant that’s taking Melbourne by storm. It is located in Meyers Place (it resides where Senorita used to be) – pretty much in and around the centre of the Melbourne CBD. Mr Big Stuff is relatively new having only been open a few months (opened in May 2014) with the concept being to add a bit of soul into the Melbourne food scene – and adding soul they do! From the moment you step inside you feel like you have been transported to 70s – from the pumping soul music to the orange and red warm tones and completed by the swagger of the wait staff in cute retro diner attire – think suspenders and bow ties. You can thank the 5 partners, including Michael Chen and Adam Ong from Golden Monkey bar (located in Hardware Lane) together with Head Chef is Louis Naepels (ex-Grossi Florentino) for bringing this new style of venue to Melbourne.

Mr Big Stuff is all about sharing some great tasting soul food and bopping along to some really great music. The venue has a in-house turntable that plays Thursday to Saturday (the night starts out with soul music, then progresses to R’n’B and cranks up to Hip-Hop – pure awesomeness!) and is decked out with sound-proofing material on its walls. Mr Big Stuff has been designed by Techne architects and has wooden tables along with some banquet seating in the main dining area. The other main feature is the wooden bar and the hole in the wall which allows you to peer into the kitchen. The tones of orange, red and wood really make you feel like you have stepped into the 70s and get you prepared for the food adventure that is about to begin.

What I loved when I looked up the menu online was the drinks menu and the fact that you could have each and every traditional beverage sans alcohol. This was fantastic for me as I don’t drink!

You can choose from the Cold Pressed Kool-Aid drinks – there are 4 different flavours to choose from, or the Egg Cream – a New York-style spider, which interestingly is egg free – Homemade Chocolate Sauce, Milk/Cream & Soda is the flavour available here. There is also a selection of Cold Brew Ice Teas available – of which there are 5 to choose from.

There is a magnitude of choices to select from so it took me a while to decide what I wanted – if I had it my way I would have spent the entire night there sampling every drink! I decided to go with the Kickin’ Kiwi – Cold Pressed Kiwi Juice, Fresh Lemon Juice & Soda. The Kickin Kiwi was full of flavour, refreshing and hit the spot. The tangy flavouring of the cold pressed kiwi worked well with the lemon and soda, that had this effect of creating a party with every sip. A ordered the P.Y Tea – Cold Brew Hibiscus Tea, Fresh Cold Pressed Watermelon & Fresh Lemonade. A’s drink came out served in a tall glass and came with extra sugar syrup on the side in case she wanted to make it sweeter – which she did utilise as it was a tad bit bitter at the start. I sampled her drink and it was quite tasty and refreshing as well – with the hibiscus tea flavouring much stronger than the watermelon. An all round good drink!

The menu is designed and created by Louis Naepels and is broken into four sections – Small Stuff, Mid Stuff, Big Stuff and Sweet Stuff. Naepels has done great things with menu especially coming from cooking Italian at Grossi Florentino – it is adventurous, fun and mixes brilliant flavours together. Across each of these sections there are upwards of 5 different dishes to try, except for the Sweet Stuff – there are only 2 desserts for now to try. Small Stuff includes dishes such as Pickled Okra, Grilled Corn, Pig’s Ears and their famous Corn Bread. Mid Stuff includes a selection of sliders (there are 4 different ones to choose from), and dishes such as Mac & Cheese, Kale Greens, Chicken Wings and Roasted Bone Marrow. The Big Stuff consists of Blackened Snapper & Clams, Mussels, Veal, Beef and Pork Ribs. We were told by the friendly waitress that the menu was created to be shared – ordering a little bit from each section.

We decided to share some things and order some separate dishes for the each of us as well (this tends to be what happens when A & I go out as I am a pescatarian and she can eat everything).

One of the first dishes to come out was the Jumbo Prawns – Corn Meal Dusted, Cajun Spiced, Prawn Head Mayonnaise –you get one prawn per serving. The prawn came out looking deliciously crunchy and it sure didn’t disappoint! The Cajun spice mixed with the soft texture of the well-cooked prawn was scrumptious – pair that with the “prawn head” mayonnaise and you have a somewhat fiery hit mixed together with a creamy finish. You really could eat more than a handful of these at a time.

A ordered the Sweetbread Nuggets – Lamb Sweetbreads, Honey & Thyme Glaze. Initially she was a bit apprehensive to order this dish – but speaking to our waitress she reassured her that it was a great dish, and it just tasted like lamb. These came out in a serving of five and looked exactly like how you would imagine nuggets to look like – served in a turquoise blue bowl and topped with thyme sprigs. A really enjoyed this dish and mentioned more than once how good these nuggets were – crispy coating on the outside and soft, tender lamb on the inside with a sweet aftertaste to finish on.

I also couldn’t look past ordering a slider from the menu and went with the Shrimp Slider with Spicy Mayonnaise. Once again this was another stand out dish – the shrimp had been fried to provide a crunchy texture and together with the slight sweetness of the brioche and the spice of the mayonnaise were a great combination. There are no words to describe it – you just have to try it yourself!

A ordered the Fried Chicken & Waffles – Spiced Maple Syrup – which seemed like one of the more popular dishes on the menu to order. I mean it is quintessentially soul food after all! This is quite a generous dish and comes with couple of pieces of chicken off to one sized, with perfectly placed waffles on the other, with the spiced maple syrup in a separate mini pitcher. The chicken has been marinated overnight in buttermilk and a spice blend of black pepper, cloves and cayenne pepper. The result was that the batter was flaky, crunch and fell off the chicken in a way that you would want it to. The chicken was cooked to perfection – juicy whilst being tender- and had combined hints of smokiness, spiciness and sweetness.
The rosemary and cheddar flaked waffles were out of this world – crunchy and textured on the outside whilst being soft and fluffy on the inside. The combination of the savoury waffles with the sweetness of the spiced maple was interesting and must be experienced.

We also ordered the Mac & Cheese – Three Cheeses – to share. This dish comes served hot hot hot on a warm pan and from the moment it is placed down you get the wonderful aroma of the cheese. The top layer is a combination of the three cheeses and crumbed biroche which have been toasted just right. The cheesy creamy pasta of elbows had a great peppery taste to it – combine this with the crunchy breadcrumbs and this dish is heaven. For usual Mac & Cheese lovers – you wouldn’t want to share this dish!

What is also brilliant about Mr Big Stuff is that they make their own Hot Stuff Chilli sauce which is bottled and is made from Habanero Chillies, Cayenne, Carrot, Apple Cider Vinegar and Spices. This sauce sure does pack a bit of a punch and is great for all of you who want that extra hint of chilli in your dishes .This also works well with the Shoestring fries!

Despite being full we had to check out dessert – if the food was anything to go by then the desserts would be just as amazing. I ordered the Quince & Rhubarb Cobbler. Initially I wasn’t quite sure what a cobbler was so had to ask our friendly waitress. A cobbler usually consists of a fruit or savoury filling which is then put into a baking dish and covered with a batter, biscuit, or pie crust before being baked – hence creating a combination of crunch and softness. Generally speaking I’m a sucker for anything with Crème Fraiche – I think it adds a great element and depth to a dish and brings out flavours even more. The cobbler was quite a refreshing dish – with a combination of star anise and fruity flavours. The “cake” bits were moist, soft and delicious with the bread crumbs providing another texture. You definitely needed the addition of the Crème Fraiche to add some creaminess and extra wetness to the dish. Overall a very different yet tasty dessert.

A ordered the Apple Pie – Cinnamon, Spiced Rum. This wasn’t like any apple pie you would normally order – they came out as individual little pockets which reminded me of mini pastries – you get 4 per serve. The pastry on the outside was buttery, flaky and had a great flavouring to it, coated with cinnamon sugar. The inside was filled with a smooth warm apple filling that was both juicy and tasty. A said she really liked this different take on the apple pie.

The staff here are really friendly and always ensure you feel looked after without being overbearing. They are happy to offer suggestions when you are ordering food and can assist in answering questions. Another stand out of the venue is the music – we both loved the music played – it brought back memories from our high school days with stand outs like MJ, TLC just to name a few. If the music was this good when the in-house DJ wasn’t playing I can’t wait to come and check out the DJ sets on Thursday to Saturday nights.

When we call for the bill – it arrives in a wallet with Mr Big Stuff engraved on the front – which I think is quite fun and fits in really well with the 7os theme. They also have a variety of uniquely designed coasters which use known brand logos such as Pringles, MTV but change it to reference the Mr Big Stuff  name. Creative!

Mr Big Stuff is a Soul Food inspired restaurant designed around sharing great tasting food with friends along with unique Kool-aid drinks and funky tunes in a lively and warm atmosphere. If you want to be transported to the 70s and try out a place that makes you feel like you are part of the Soul Train set – this is your place!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to pics above or click here for the links
Food Menu: http://www.mrbigstuff.com.au/files/MRBIGSTUFF_WEB_FOOD_140523.pdf
Drinks Menu:http://www.mrbigstuff.com.au/files/MRBIGSTUFF_WEB_DRINKS_140523.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Soulful, Warm and Inviting – a great place for a celebration and an all round good time! They have  in-house turntables which place on Thursday to Saturday nights.
Standout Dish: Shrimp Slider with Spicy Mayonnaise, Three Mac & Cheese
Service: Fantastic  – Friendly and Helpful
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.mrbigstuff.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.mrbigstuff.com.au/
Meyers Place, Melbourne
Tel No: 9639 7411

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday: 6pm – 11.30pm

A Lunch Service is COMING SOON!

 

Touche Hombre – New Menu a Must Try!

panda-4-rating1

I have previously been to Touche Hombre – you can check out my full review at https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/42/

This wont be really be a full review but just an update. I recently went back to Touche Hombre and learnt that they had changed their menu 6 weeks ago. Now there is a lot more dishes to choose from and the food is even more tastier and spicier! There are dishes such as Fatty Lamb Ribs and Shrimp Balls (Spicy Shrimp Balls, Arbol Chilli, Charred Brea) that have been added a well as Quesadillas with Wild Mushrooms, Ricotta, Pecorino, Mint, Salsa Verde and Creme Fraiche. The fatty lamb ribs just melts off the bone and is full of flavour. The Shrimp balls are spicy and have just the right amount of heat to it and the shrimp is fresh. The Quesadilla was delicious and crunchy and the addition of mint and creme fraiche was great. The Grilled Corn (Elotes Callejeros – Grilled Corn, Alba Pecorino, Chilli Pequin) is just as good as I remember it to be on my first couple of visits – juicy, sweet and grilled to perfection.

There is also a change to the dessert menu and they don’t seem to have the ice cream sandwich flavours that I loved so much anymore (see the  older review for a pic of these) – they do still have one flavour of these left Choc-Chilli, Peanut Ice Cream Sanga – Peanut Ice Cream Sanga, Choc-Chilli Cookie.  However they do have a Crema Cocida – Creme Fraiche, Panna Cotta, Spice Pineapple- which is absolutely delicious! One of the better pannacotta’s I have tried – and you can tell as well because there was no picture of it taken..it was eaten way too quickly =p

As I’ve said in my previous review – if you haven’t made your way down to Touche Hombre and really love Mexican food – definitely check it out!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – A Selection of starters and a variety of tacos too! Menu can be found at http://www.touchehombre.com.au/ and click on the FOOD tab
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Very friendly staff who are interesting to chat to. An in-house DJ plays and the place is buzzing. There are old school pinball machines to play as well. A great night out with a friends or for a laid back date night.
Standout Dish: Albondigas De Camaron – Spicy Shrimp Balls, Arbol, Chilli, Charred Brea
Service: Fantastic and super friendly!
Online Booking: This place doesn’t take bookings. You have to go to the place and put your name and number on a list and they will call you. If you have a group of 10+ then you can make a Group Booking.
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.touchehombre.com.au/
Cnr Tattersalls Lane and Lonsdale St
Melbourne
Tel No: 9663 0811

Opening Hours:
Lunch:
Tuesday to Saturday from 12pm
Dinner:
Monday to Saturday (Thursday to Saturday open 5pm – till late)

Touché Hombre on Urbanspoon