Halal Snack Pack – HSPs – Learn what the Fuss is all about!

HSP Goodness!

HSP

Halal Snack Pack or HSPs as they are affectionately known as are the latest food craze to trend in the foodie world – this has further been promoted thanks to the federal elections where NSW Labor senator Sam Dastyari offered to meet Pauline Hanson and get her to try this delicious dish; much to her offense and disgust (?!).

So what exactly is a HSP?
It is a dish containing meat – typically beef, chicken or lamb – together with chips and one or more sauces – especially Chilli, Garlic and Barbeque. It traditionally comes served in a styrofoam container. Some kebab stores refer to it as a Snack Box or Mixed Plate.

HSP!

This infamous dish has contributed to the flourishing success of many kebab stores around the country. There is also the creation of the Halal Snack Pack Appreciation Society (HSPAS) on Facebook which began in December 2015 by a couple of good mates- with the group having over  159K members! It started off in a small scale with a few thousand people sharing their favourite styrofoam encased meals and engulfed into what it is today being an international phenomenon.
The main aim of this group is to identify some of the best HSPs around the country and eventually identify the World’s BEST HSP!The group also raises funds to support the Australian Relief Organisation, an organization that assists underprivileged people to attain cataract surgery and assists orphanages with matters regarding water supplies.

A typical post on the page involves a picture of a recently-purchased halal snack pack, along with an informal review that scores the dish on various criteria; including meat, chips and sauce quality, clarity of halal signage, packaging, price and greeting.

Below is the marking scheme taken from the page.
1. The greeting: Anything Less than good day brother or sister is Haram.
2. The Sign: There needs to be some sort of Halal sign visible, or, you guessed it, Haram!
3. The chips: You nailed this, they need to be a good Ratio to the meat and chips
4. Cheese: Cheese would be a layer on the chips and then a layer on the meat with sauce on top. You may get roasted you for this…
5. The meat: Mixed meat is a winner with the crowd, marking it on quantity/ratio and juiciness.
6. Now… The Sauce: Anything less than the HOLY TRINITY  – GARLIC, CHILLI, BBQ – may get a good roasting from the crowd. BBQ is second selection but you have to have the KEY garlic in there
7. Packaging: anything less than styrofoam container is haram and marked 0/10

As you can see HSPs are serious business! By the way to get you down with the lingo here are some of the terms explained:

  • Expressing approval of a snack pack can be described by using the term “Halal”
  • Expressing disapproval of a snack pack can be described by using the term “Haram”
  • A member/customer who requests tomato sauce, salad, rice or anything that is not meant to be part of the HSP – with their snack pack is referred to as a “Haram Dingo”

There are many claims to having created this exceptional dish including the Kapsalon – which is a Dutch food item consisting of fries, topped with shawarma meat, grilled with a layer of Gouda cheese until melted and then covered with a layer of dressed salad greens. The dish is often served with garlic sauce and sambal. The key difference here is the use of salad. This dish was conceived in 2003 by Nathaniël Gomes, a Cape Verdian hairdresser in Rotterdam; who in collaboration with the neighboring shawarma store “El Aviva” combined all his favorite ingredients into one dish.

Another similar dish is the AB from Adelaide who claims to have invented this dish between 1969 and  1989. An AB is prepared using gyro meat, chips, tomato sauce, chilli sauce, barbeque sauce and garlic sauce. Two restaurants in Adelaide have claimed to have invented the dish – The North Adelaide Burger Bar and the Blue & White ; with the key difference here being the addition of tomato sauce (haram!)

There has even been the creation of the world’s biggest snack pack which was covered by Sunrise – you can check out the video here – https://au.tv.yahoo.com/sunrise/video/watch/31864783/the-worlds-biggest-halal-snack-pack/#page1

I myself was quite late to jump on the HSP bandwagon as well – but ever since trying this calorie, carb-filled dish I must admit I am in love (as is my husband!) We have a kebab store just down the road from us where we get our HSPs (although they call is a Snack Pack – so that’s haram already!) which is simply delicious and is shown in the pictures above.

Since I am quite “new” to the world of HSPs – I am not too sure about where the BEST HSP is in Melbourne – however there is a website – http://getmehsp.com.au/- which helps you locate where you can get a HSP from. Of course there is the HSPAS which has been created for this very reason to find that perfect 10/10 HSP. If you have any recommendations please comment below and I will add them to the list.

Happy HSPing!!

Here are some of the special mentions of Kebab stores around Australia that you could check out (in no particular order):

Melbourne
Melbourne Kebab Station, Coburg
Clayton Kebab House, Clayton
Little Bad Wolf, Noble Park
Yozzy Kebab and Carwash, Doveton
Hot Kebabs, Doncaster East

Sydney

King Kebab House, Campbelltown
Oz Turks Jnr, Redfern
Metro One Kebab, Ashfield

Western Australia
Perth Kebab Station, Subiaco

Queensland
Kebab Shack & Takeaway, Caboolture

 

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Woody P – When In Rome…

panda 4.5 rating

Menu:
Menu Pizza Menu

It was a Friday night date night and we decided to eat in the city. I remembered hearing about a new restaurant that had opened up called Woody P. It was earlyish – around 6:30pm so we decided to see if we could get a table without a booking. We were able to score some high seats by the window with a view looking into the kitchen area and were told that when a table becomes available they would move us. Perfect!

Woody P is located on Flinders lane in the heart of the Melbourne CBD – with neighboring restaurants such as Chin Chin, Coda and Cumulus Inc. Woody P is brought to us by Pierre Semaan and Robert Rae who previously owned Fashion Lounge – the nightclub – which is the very place that Woody P has taken over.

Woody P has such an interesting space which has been designed by Eades and Bergman (who have also designed Kong and The Meatball and Wine Bar). As you are about to enter the restaurant – you know you are at the right place when you see a neon blue W sign out the front – and if you look down – the WOODY P name made out of small tiles.
The venue spans over two floors complete with a combination of exposed brick walls, wooden floors, blond wood and marble – what a combination! The restaurant is artfully sectioned off into distinct areas – separated by exposed brick beams on one side and indoor suspended greenery (planter boxes) on the other side. The front section is for casual walk-ins, with a semi private area just behind it, followed by a marble bar with mosaic tiles for cocktails and towards the back overlooking the kitchen – high table seating. I love the brightly lit blue neon sign “When in Rome” which works beautifully against the exposed brick wall which catches your eye as you walk towards the bar. There is also a terrace for outdoor seating to dine al fresco once the sun comes out in Melbourne!

The menu has both Italian and Mediterranean influences and has been created by head chef Clinton Camilleri (Eleonore’s, The Lake House, The Royal George Hotel). The menu pretty much has something for everyone – from White Anchovy, Caramelised Onion, Puff Pastry starters to 48-hour Slow Cooked Beef Rib, Roast Onion, Gremolata to a selection of Pizzas and Pastas. The menu is split into 8 sections – Piccolo (Entrees), Salumi, Pizza, Grande (Mains), Pasta, Sides, Formaggi and Dolce (Dessert). You can select the “Time to Feast” menu for $55 per person for groups of four or more.
The Pizza menu can either be Eat In or Take-Away and to view the list available to choose from you simple flip over the menu given to you. There are 7 pizzas to select from including Margherita, San Daniele, Gamberi, Funghi, Patatina, Zucca and Porchetta.

N and I were seated at the high tables and were given the menus in case we wanted to have some snacks whilst we waited for our table. We were also asked if we wanted sparkling water which we said yes to. The sparkling water was from Bolle Stille and was better than any of the sparkling waters I have tasted around. Before deciding on what snacks/entrees we wanted we decided to order a drink. I asked what mocktails they had available and the friendly waitress informed me that there were two options – I ended up going with the Peaches & Cream. I have never come across a place that does a Peach mocktail so I was very interested to see what this was all about. The mocktail came out and just like the drink had peachy tones completed with a wedge of lemon – and tasted spectacular – exactly as you would imagine peaches and cream to taste like – slightly sour with a great creamy after taste! Delicious and definitely highly recommended!

It was time to decide what food to eat – we ordered the Panisse Chips, Truffle, Taleggio, Cauliflower to start while we thought about what we wanted for our mains. I had never heard of Panisse before so was intrigued to see what it was like – essentially it is reminiscent of polenta and comes served in fingers which resemble fries. The exterior was crumbed perfection with the inside reminding me of custard – I would have liked a bit more seasoning to the flavour such as salt and pepper but overall it was an interesting dish.

For mains I decided to go with the Spinach & Ricotta Gnudi, Tomato Sugo, Ricotta Salata and N went with Chargrilled Grass-Fed T-Bone (500gm), Salsa Verde. We also decided to get the Broccolini, Grilled Onion, Honey Mustard as a side – we absolutely love Broccolini and were interested to try the honey mustard flavouring.

My Spinach & Ricotta Gnudi, Tomato Sugo, Ricotta Salata was a beautifully presented dish – the Tomato Sugo oozed brightness at the base of the dish where the Spinach & Ricotta Gnudi were placed upon and finished with Ricotta Salata and Basil leaves. Gnudi is essentially a type of round gnocchi and Woody Ps take on it was smashingly delicious. The Gnudi balls were generous in size and quite dense in texture with the taste perfect. The Tomato Sugo was rich and complemented the ricotta and spinach fantastically. Overall a good tasting dish.
N’s T Bone was styled simply – the steak pieces cut up into bite sized pieces with the salsa verde dressed on top and finished with half a lemon. N thoroughly enjoyed his dish so much so that he didn’t even realise he was eating 500grams of meat!
The Broccolini was such a simple dish with bursting flavours that I loved. The Honey Mustard combined with the grilled onions meshed really well with the Brocollini. I think we will definitely be trying to replicate this dish at home!

As you all know I cannot leave a place without sampling the dessert menu. It was a tough choice to make but in the end I went with the Chocolate & Giandujua Budino, Crème Fraiche, Sour Cherry Ice Cream – and boy am I glad I did. I was raving about this dessert weeks later! This dessert isn’t just for all Chocolate lovers – but for anyone! Giandujua for those of you who don’t know is a sweet chocolate hazelnut spread and a Giandujua Budino is an Italian pudding made with this spread. This was served with quenelles of chocolate ganache as well as Sour Cherry Ice Cream. The combination of the rich chocolatey goodness combined with the sourness of the ice cream was brilliant. I could actually eat a bowl full of Sour Cherry Ice Cream on its own as well – it was simply divine!

On a different occasion (when I went to Woody P for lunch) – I ordered the Roast Potato, Truffle & Persian Fetta Tortellini, Cauliflower, Cavolo Nero. This would have to be my favourite dish from Woody P so far (aside from the delicious Chocolate dessert of course). The dish is immaculately presented – with the cauliflower puree at the base of the dish with the three tortellini placed in a triangle on top – finished with sultanas and Cavolo Nero. It was almost too pretty to eat…almost! From the first bite I was in Tortellini heaven – the combination of potato, fetta and perfectly made pasta was delicious – there was the right amount of seasoning and combined with the smooth creamy cauliflower puree. I am not usually a sultana fan but it really worked in this dish and added a sweetness to the dish which complemented all the other flavours. My only gripe would be that it too small – I would have like maybe 1 or 2 more tortellini – but I guess that’s only because the dish was DELICIOUS! On the same occasion C ordered the Gamberi Pizza – Tiger Prawns, San Marzano Tomato, Chilli, Garlic, Salsa Verde. I was lucky enough to sample a piece and it was quite good as well! When the pizza came out it came served with a little dish that had extra salt, herbs and chilli which I thought was a great idea as usually I have to ask for extra chilli on the side. The base of the pizza was thin, fresh and crispy on the edges with the ingredients all working well together.

Woody P is up there with one of my favourite restaurants of 2015 and one that I recommend to people when they ask me for a place to eat in the city! Service is brilliantly friendly and the vibe is welcoming and homely – it is a great place for Friday night drinks or just to have a quiet date night. The music is great and really allows you to let your hair down!
Also something to note the Woody P team are still deciding what their downstairs basement space will be transformed into. So stay tuned for something like a relaxed cocktail and wine / cheese bar come next summer.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to https://thegrazingpanda.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/bd409-woody-pmenujune2015.pdf or refer to pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Vibrant, Relaxed and Welcoming. Great for Friday Night drinks or Date Night. Alternatively it is also a great place to grab lunch during the week.
Standout Dish: Roast Potato, Truffle & Persian Fetta Tortellini, Cauliflower, Cavolo Nero
Service: Friendly, Attentive and Helpful
Online Booking: Yes via this link
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.woodyp.com.au/
121 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9654 5000

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 12:00pm to 12:00am

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/woodypmelb

Instagram: woodypmelb

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5 & Dime Bagels – NYC Goodness in Melbourne

panda 4 rating

Menu:
5&Dime Menu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 & Dime Bagels on Urbanspoon

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

Ilya – FROCHELLA – Frozen Yoghurt Heaven!

panda 3.5 rating
Pandan Coconut and Black Sesame Flavoured Froto

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Menu:
Menu at Ilya

In recent times frozen yoghurt has taken the world by storm! There are quite a few stores that have opened up around Melbourne. I was lucky enough to be invited to Ilya Frozen Yoghurt for their awesomely named event –FROCHELLA (Froyo + Coachella put together – smart right?!)

Ilya – located on Glen Huntly road in Elsternwick – was created by owners Natasha and Jason – who left the corporate world to pursue their passion for good food, giving back and having a blast doing it! There are quite a few differences when compared to other frozen yoghurt (froyo – the short form that it is affectionately known as) stores – Ilya is built around the interactive social and consumer experience AND they are organic, 100% natural and free from refine cane sugar.

Most people assume that Ilya stands for I Love Yoghurt Always, however Ilya is named after Ilya Mechnikov, a Russian scientist who pioneered the research into the immune system, probiotics in yoghurt and how that leads to longer life and even scored a Nobel Prize for it.
Ilya is proud to be the first and only organic self-serve frozen yoghurt store in Australia – having the lowest levels of sugar in the frozen yoghurt market – less than 1% – as well as being kosher, 100% natural and 99% fat free! All their yoghurts are made onsite – with no cane sugar in their yoghurt base, instead using Stevia and Erythitol (unprocessed sugars). Ilya is all about supporting Australian local farmers and use low fat fresh organic milk together with Five:AM yoghurt. All their froyo’s are flavoured in-house combining real fruit and natural flavours – allowing Ilya to stay true to their concept of delicious and healthy without compromising on taste.

Ilya is quite a sizeable venue and is split into two main areas – the front area where the main counter and all the toppings reside, as well as a communal table and high window seating, followed by the back room where more seating is available. The seating is casual with vintage looking wooden tables and milk crates to sit on. There is a mixture of walls – brick, chalkboard and plain white which adds to the funkiness of the place. Some walls are covered in artwork from kids with their perspective on the world of frozen yoghurt – a really nice touch and reinforces their interactiveness with the public.
The look and feel is relaxed and comfortable with the addition of nice little touches such as flowers in jars, the use of scrabble letters and the awesome standout light fittings. Between the front room and the back room there is an igloo-esque (complete with white brick which reminds you of ice) cocoon that loudly and proudly states GET SOME CULTURE – this is where the yoghurt magic takes place. Here there are 8 self-serve dispensers where you can get the flavours for the day – the way it works you grab a cup, fill it up, top it, weight and pay – and then of course eat and enjoy! (It costs $2.80 per 100g).

The main counter was an impressive long wooden bench that had a numerous amount of toppings available.If you refer to the pictures above you can see there is a HUGE selection of other toppings available as well – Marshmallow Rocks, Mango Mochi, Choc Chips, Sultanas, Cranberries, Halva, Lychee Boba, Mango Boba, Passionfruit Coulis, Mandarin, Hedgehog Slice, Choc Mud Slice and Protein Nut Mix – there is also Hot Caramel and Hot Choc sauce for your tasting pleasure! You get confused trying to decide which of these delicious topics you want to add as most people wanted a little bit of everything!

The Frochella event invited food bloggers and nutritionists to celebrate Ilya’s success as well as “it’s almost milestone 1st birthday” (they have been opened for 11 months). The idea was to taste test, provide ideas and feedback as well as come up with some new flavours that Ilya could create.

A total of 15 flavours were sampled – the first eight flavours were their core and current flavours (Menu A), and the next seven were a preview of their new limited edition Spring/Summer flavours (Menu B). I had to stay back at work on the night of Frochella and unfortunately missed out on most of the Menu A flavours – I only managed to taste Chai & Dry (Dairy free Soy Chai to satisfy the senses). When I arrived I was lucky enough to sit with some friendly fellow bloggers – Eve from Eve Lovelle and Minty from WanderingMint, as well as a nutritionist and their partners.

They gave me the rundown of the flavours that I missed out and what their favourites were. Eve liked the “Get Lucky” (Tart flavoured treats), “Empire State of Mind” (Organic Freeze-dried coffee froyo) with her ultimate favourite being “Sexy and I Know It” (Dairy free chocolate (vegan). Most of the others around the table enjoyed the “Katy Berry” (Real mixed berries to give your tastebuds a sweet treat!) as well as “Teenage Dream” (made from delicious Oreo cookies). I will definitely have to come back and try out these two flavours, as I am a hugeee berry and oreo cookie fan! The Chai & Dry froyo that I did get to sample was delicious – if you are a chai drinker you would love this flavour – if you are not a huge fan of chai’s but love cinnamon then this would be for you as well! The cinnamon/chai flavour is not too overpowering and coupled with the lightness of the froyo was really quite good.

In addition to the samples of Froyo’s we had access to an unlimited amount of toppings to use. Each table were given their own set of toppings – or you could go to the main counter where additional toppings were provided. Our table had Coconut flakes, Oreo Cookies, M&Ms, Kit Kat, Berry Coconut Muesli, Strawberries, Chocolate Cigars, Almond Flakes, Tiny Teddies, etc.

What was also great about the Frochella night was that we all were encouraged to participate in the Flavour Master competition. This was a competition around coming up with a frozen yoghurt flavour that you would like to see Ilya have. Five flavours will be chosen out a of a list and the flavour that is voted as most popular by the general public will have their very own frozen yoghurt flavour named after them and sold in Ilya.

The second round formed Menu B – which was to showcase their new limited edition Spring/Summer flavours.
The first flavour we got to sample from this menu was the “Welcome to the Jungle” – Exotic combination of Coconut and Pandan. The Froyo comes out in a beautiful aqua green colour and has more of a coconut flavour than a pandan flavour, so the only change I would recommend is to increase the amount of pandan – overall it was a delicious yoghurt!

The next flavour that came out was the “Titanium” – Crushed Black Sesame seeds infused Froyo. I am not a a huge Black Sesame fan so this flavour wasn’t my thing, but everyone around really enjoyed it. It had a lot of depth and a massive flavour hit – definitely one for Black Sesame lovers.

“Lana Del Grey” – Earl Grey tea combined with dried Cranberries – was the next flavour to sample and was one of my favourites! I must admit I am usually not an Earl Grey drinker or fan, however the flavour of the Earl Grey was subtle and coupled with the cranberries made for a very refreshing froyo! Yum!

Next up was the “Purple Rain” – Acai Berry & Organic Froyo – this was another one of my faves. I love the use of acai berry in this yoghurt which resulted in a punchy tangy flavour! “Where the Wild Rosemary Grows” – Combination Rosemary Cheesecake – was up next and this was one of the flavours that I didn’t quite fancy; the flavour was too “tarty” and the flavours did not work at all!

Our second last flavour was “Drop It Likes Its Choc and Orange” – Rich Chocolate combined with Citrus Orange – this was absolutely devine! The combination of the orange and chocolate was perfect and it tasted like a smooth Jaffa. Definitely one for chocolate lovers!

To end the night we finished with “Like a Virgin (Mary)” – Tomato and Tabasco Frozen Creation (Vegan) – which had flavours of peppers and Tabasco through it and was quite fiery on the palate. It was a bit strange to have these sensations and flavours associated with a yoghurt, so I wasn’t a fan of this flavour. However, kudos has to go to the team for thinking outside the box and trailing this flavour out.

In addition to seeling frozen yoghurts, Ilya also sells a selection of healthy smoothies (made together with their frozen yoghurt of course!) – there are 6 to choose from including Body Builder (Bananas, Protein Powder, Peanut Butter, Nuts, Cinnamon, Vegan Choc and Organic Milk), Tropical Paradise (Mango, Banana, Coconut yoghurt and Organic Milk) and Tummy Filler (Banana, Berries, Dates & Oats, Tart Yoghurt and Organic Milk) just to name a few.

At the end of night before leaving, we were all given a goodie bag which included a small tub of frozen yoghurt to take home and enjoy – I got the Cookie Dough flavour – which I was extremely excited about as it was one of the flavours that I really wanted to try (I love anything to do with cookies!). In our goodie bags we were also given a large empty froyo cup and were told that we could come back at any time and enjoy a free serving of frozen yoghurt on the house – an offer I will definitely be taking up!
Ilya has a feel-good vibe running through the venue; from the laid back and caring owners to the super-friendly and helpful staff. It is a great place to come with friends and hang out at – and also is great if you have younger kids who can contribute to the artwork that appears on the walls in their backroom. What better place than to enjoy a guilt-free treat that tastes delicious and has such variety in the number of flavours and toppings to choose from!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – 8 flavours available every day – they change day to day
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Comfortable and Relaxed. A great place to hang out with friends and family!
Standout Flavour: Cookie Dough, Purple Rain and Lana Del Grey. For those of you who like Pandan, Coconut and Black Sesame – go with “Welcome to the Jungle” , “Flawless” or “Titanium”
Service: Friendly, Fun and Helpful
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://ilyafroyo.com.au/
277 Glen Huntly Road, Elsternwick
Tel No: 9077 1080

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 12:00pm – 10:00pm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ilyafroyo
Instagram: ilyafroyo
Twitter: @ilyafroto

Ilya Frozen Yogurt 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

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90 Secondi – BEST PIZZA in Melbourne!

panda 5 rating

I work around the Docklands area and sometimes with the guys at work we head to Ethihad Stadium at lunchtime. It was on one of these lunchtime trips that I saw a new food place opening at the bottom of the new NAB building at Ethihad Stadium near Gate 3 and mentioned to the guys at work that we need to come check it out once it opened – and we did!

The brand new food place in question is 90 Secondi. This is the latest venture by Johnny Di Francesco, who is also responsible for the acclaimed 400 Gradi pizzeria in Brunswick East. 90 Secondi, is named after the traditional time needed to cook a true Neapolitan-style pizza and it certainly in my opinion is the tastiest and bestest (even if that isn’t a real word) pizza in Melbourne.

Pizza here is made from a custom made wood-fire pizza open which has been shipped directly from Napoli. In fact even mozzarella di bufala (another name for buffalo mozzarella) is air freighted fresh from Caserta in Italy. If that is not authentic in terms of ingredients then I do not know what is! The basis for creation of such great tasting pizza is the oven set at 400 degrees (hence the name 400 Gradi for Di Francesco’s other restaurant) at 90 seconds (ala 90 secondi!) – if pizza is in the oven for longer than 90 seconds than it isn’t a true Neapolitan-style pizza – together with quality dough and use of fresh ingredients.

We went to lunch on a Friday and lucky we made a booking, as the place quickly filled up. The place is open and modern and perfectly lit with filament light bulbs. To add to this there are timber tables, high ceilings (giving it a roomy feel) and accents of red in the form of funky chairs and cris-crossed large light fittings. There is seating both downstairs and upstairs – with a bar / coffee counter station in the middle of the downstairs section. As you walk to your table you get sight of the open kitchen and large wood fire oven where all the magic is created.

When I first walked in – the first thing I saw was one of the chefs twirling the dough around to get it to that thin base – so that’s how they get the base just right! =) We were seated at our table and given the menu. The menu consists of Pizza’s mainly (duh!) but there are also dishes like zucchini flowers and meatballs under the heading Stuzzichini, Pasta dishes, Char grilled lamb ribs and a Mussel dish under the Secondi Menu, fresh salads under the Contorni e Insalate heading and of course finshing with Desserts such as Panna Cotta, Tiramasu and Nutella Calzone under Dolci.

There was a unanimous decision around the table to order pizza’s as they all sounded delicious. I decided to get the Toscana pizza which came with Mushrooms, Goats Cheese, Fior di Latte and Rocket. The pizzas didnt take long to come out and when it did they looked just as good as they sounded. We all couldn’t wait to have the first bite. The crusts were thin – exactly the way that I like my pizza – lightly charred, with a light puffiness to them. The Goats Cheese and Mushroom combination with the Blanco base was oozing with flavour and deliciousness. Loved it. I also got to try the Margherita Verace – San Marzano Tomato, Mozzarella di Bufala, Basil and Parmesan. The Mozzarella di Bufala worked well with the tomato and the basil – such a simple pizza but done fantastically. They say you can tell a good pizza place if their Margherita pizza is great – so going on that – this place is the best. Other pizzas that people got was the Guancia – San Marzana Tomato, Fior di Late, Pancetta, Mushrooms, Olive and Zingara – San Marzano Tomato, Fior di Latte, Hot Salame, Rocket. Both of these pizzas as well had the same response when asked how the pizza was – they all loved it.

The pizzas are quite large in size but you never see a plate that isn’t empty because why would you want to waste such great tasting pizza. The pizzas are quite filling, that you are almost left no room to try out the dessert. On another (of the many occasions that I have already been there)  – I tried out the Nutella Calzone – which you can get in both Mini and Grande size. I ordered the Mini size and was surprised when it came out to see how big the Mini size was – if this was the mini size just how big is the Grande size. The dough was soft and tasty – just like the pizza dough – and was filled with warm, oozy nutella and is one to try for all the chocolate lovers. One thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the ice-cream that came with the Calzone – but then again that could be just me.

90 Secondi is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and it set up to be more of a casual dining venue which is different to 400 Gradi. The idea behind the location is to target some of the footy traffic before a game, as well as the corporate people around the area. It certainly is a welcome addition to the area and really does brighten up the food scene out at Docklands. 90 Secondi is authentically Italian and serves delicious food – the staff are friendly and welcoming which is an added benefit. The coffee here is pretty damn good as well – I walked all the way around from my seat during half time at a footy game to get coffee – strong nutty and creamy flavours. Their Chai Lattes are just as tasty as well.

If you love Italian and love pizzas – you definitely have to try this place out. You don’t know what you are missing.

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to picture above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Relaxed and Fun – A little piece of Italy in Docklands
Standout Dish: Any of the Pizzas! You wont be disappointed
Service: Fantastic, Friendly and Attentive
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
90secondi.com.au
1/700 Bourke Street, Docklands
(Opposite Gate 3, Ethihad Stadium)
Tel No: 9600 2841

Opening Hours
Monday to Friday: 7am – 11pm
Saturday & Sunday: 12pm – 11pm

90 Secondi on Urbanspoon

Meatball and Wine Bar – “It’s all about the Balls”


  
Beef Meatball with Italian Tomato Sliders

Fish Meatballs with Green Pesto Salsa Verde on Home-made Lasagne

Beef Meatball Sliders and Fish Meatballs

Chicken Meatballs with Green Pesto Salsa Verde Heroes
Whoopie Mac -Coffee Macaron with Chocolate Ice Cream

From the moment you step into the Meatball & Wine Bar, you know that you will have a great time. The Meatball & Wine Bar has a cool and funky vibe that reminds you of a diner in New York. From the great tunes to the friendly staff it is a place that you will definitely want to bring your friends back to.

The venue has a number of seats ranging from seats at the bar, high tables as well as communal or tales for big groups. There are dark wooden tables with exposed brick walls and  posters of meat cuts on the wall.

From the get-go the service is outstanding and fun. Our friendly waitress informs us that “It’s all about the Balls” cheekily. There can a many innuendos that follow with the menu here =) The concept is simple – you pick your balls, the sauce for the balls to come with and if you want anything with the balls. Looking at the menu, you want to try it all!

Each meatball is 60 grams and lovingly made by artisians using traditional recipes. The Meatball and Wine Bar uses only the finest of ingredients – the Beef is 100% pasture fed Black Angus Beef, the fish is the freshest Australian fish, the chicken is Lilydale Free Range and the vegetables are from the freshest produce. You would think that 3 meatballs is not enough but trust me they are really filling. For the sauces you get a selection of Italian tomato, Creamy White, or Green Pesto Salsa Verde. You can then add something extra for them to sit on – Potato smash, Home-made Pasta sheets, Italian beans, Polenta or the Day’s Green Vegetable selection.

I ordered the Fish Meatballs with the Green Pesto Salsa Verde Sauce on Home-made Lasagne and my friend ordered the Beef Sliders. I have never had fish meatballs before so I wasn’t sure what to expect – but these were delicious! They were mixed with potato and the fish was poached perfectly to create the meatball itself. The flavouring was perfect with the right amount of tang. I think I could have done without the home-made pasta though, as it didn’t really add anything else to do the dish.

Despite our fullness, we were convinced to try the Whoopie Macs – which was the dessert. Once again it had a similar concept to the balls – you pick your flavour of macarons (Coffee, Pistachio, Berry and Chocolate) and then select which Ice Cream you want (Coffee, Burnt Orange, Vanilla and Chocolate). We were told that the Pistachio and Berry Macs were sold out sadly, so we decided to share a Coffee Mac with Chocolate Ice Cream. These Whoopie Macs are seriously huge and I don’t think I could have eaten it all on my own. The Macarons are crunchy on the outside and soft and delectable on the inside – simply yum!

The balls were so enticing that I ordered takeaway balls as well. (They only do Heroes takeaway – which is the 3 meatballs in a Ciabata Roll – and it comes nicely wrapped up with a Meatball and Wine Bar sticker, in a brown bag that has your order written on the bag. Really great presentation). I got the Chicken Meatball Heroes with the Green Salsa Verde once again. This combination was fantastic. The chicken meatballs are blended beautifully together with pistachios, muscatels and parmesan and there is a smoothness of the chicken together with the crunch of the nuts.

With this type of menu, you are always left wondering what the other combinations would be like and one of the many reasons to keep coming back. Although I have to say, once you have their balls – that is really reason enough to come back. Together with the friendly and fun service and the concept – this place is definitely one that will be around for ages!

Note: The chicken used is Lilydale free-range chick which is Halal

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – A variety of Meatballs, Cured Meats and Cheeses – Menu can be found at http://www.meatballandwinebar.com.au/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Laidback and Fun
Standout Dish: Any of the Meatballs!
Service: Friendly, Fun and Enthusiastic.
Online Booking: Meatball & Wine Bar doesn’t take reservations unless you have a group of more than 8
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.meatballandwinebar.com.au/
135 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9654 7545

Opening Hours:
Breakfast:
Monday to Friday: 7am to 11am
Lunch / Dinner:
Monday to Sunday: 11am to 1am
Brunch:
Saturday to Sunday: 11am to 3pm

Meatball & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon