Green Press – How To Be A Smoothie Criminal

 

Smooth Criminal

It’s that time of the year again in Melbourne – when temperatures drop, rainfall increases and with this brings about the increase in coughs, colds – you name it – together with a tired and lethargic feeling amongst most. This is where the green smoothie can help to combat some of these winter nasties. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day so why not kickstart your day with a smoothie – which can combine and help you increase your daily vegetable and fruit intake. Starting your day right is a key to a great day and smoothies could be the way to do it!

It was James McLoughlin’s move to New York that inspired the creation of Green Press in 2013. It was here in New York that McLoughlin was introduced to green juices and re-ignited his daily smoothie habit. The aim of Green Press is to make the everyday human eat more vegetables – by making them taste great with little effort possible – in order to evolve your palate so that you actually want to eat more veggies and plant based products.

Chocolate Cake Batter

Thanks to McLoughlin and Green Press they have created a smoothie book – aptly titled “How To Be a Smoothie Criminal” which contains delicious smoothie recipes in order to help you kick start the smoothie routine. The book also walks you through what fruits, greens, proteins, sugar free sweeteners, super foods and enhancers they recommend you use as well as extra information about each ingredient.

You are bound to find a smoothie for everyone in this book – from the chocolate lovers to the peanut butter and jelly fanatics – there is definitely something for everyone. The names of the smoothies are a play on words – such as Pine Kale-ada, Mochin’ on Heaven’s Door, Mjango Unchained just to name a few.

pine kale-ada

You can download the How To Be a Smoothie Criminal from the following link http://greenpress.co/pages/how-to-be-a-smoothie-criminal or alternatively you can email me and I can send you a PDF copy.

Mjango Unchained

Check out the Green Press website as well (http://greenpress.co/) – here you can find links to even more delicious and healthy recipes as well some top tips and tricks to stay on a healthy path! You can also SHOP for Green Press juices.
If you are in Melbourne you can even visit their store – details just below!

Happy Smoothie Making everyone!

Switch on Smoothie

Location:
Shop 7 / 525 Little Collins St, Melbourne

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

 

Cupp – Melbourne’s First Superfood Cafe

panda 4 rating

 

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Blended Smoothie Menu:
Cupp Menu Cupp Menu Cupp Menu

These days the main topics of conversations that you hear a lot of are centred on exercise and eating healthy which includes smoothies and of course; products such as the Nutribullet, the Ninja, the Magic Bullet and any other intriguing fast paced named machines.
Talking about what ingredients you put in your healthy smoothie each morning as well as learning about what specific fruits and vegetables combine to create the perfect flavour combination is all the rage. Welcome Melbourne’s first Superfood café Cupp – located in the heart of the CBD in the unique Manchester Unity Building Arcade (right near the corner of Collins and Swanston Streets).

Cupp was created by owner Victoria Pajouhesh and specialises in blending natural superfoods and raw ingredients all whilst retaining 100% of the nutrients and creating a delicious and wholesome smoothie.
Blending is seen as the healthiest method out there, even when compared to pressed juices which are known to lose a significant amount of natural goodness from the ingredients during the juicing process.

There is a very personal story behind the creation of Cupp – which begins when Victoria’s mother was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer at the tender age of 43. Finding out that the benefits from juicing could be useful in fighting this disease, Victoria helped her mother in trying an intensive course of juicing by making her a variety of juices a few times a day. She was dismayed at the amount of waste that was produced by this process as well learning that juicing strips the natural fibres of the fruits and vegetables leaving the sugar content to be very high.
A few year after her mother passed away, Victoria discovered that she had inherited the BRAC1 gene and had an 85% change of having Ovarian Cancer and a 65% chance of Breast Cancer. It was knowing this that pushed her into wanting to start the juicing process early and fortunately for Victoria she happened to see a demonstration on blending fruits and vegetables together – using the entire piece and not having to get rid of the pulp. From this day on she would only have blended smoothies and it was her mission to pack as many superfoods and vegetables as she could together all whilst making them taste delicious. She also found herself feeling fuller for longer and not wanting to snack as much. It was this drive, passion and her husband’s need for wanting a healthy smoothie in the area that led to Cupp being created.

Cupp blends are made from whole pieces of fruit and vegetables blended with natural yoghurt, coconut water and a choice of milk, plus superfoods like chia seed, linseed, oats or whole grains. They are created together with specialised nutritionalists to ensure that their smoothies and meals are nutritious, delicious, low in sugar and can be adequate meal replacements.
The Cupps are made fresh daily and presented on shelves in store pre-blended, to show off their raw ingredients in layer form. Customers can then select the right Cupp for them based on the step-by-step blend guide in store (or by asking the friendly Cupp staff about each of the blends and their benefits).
Cupp also has a large variety of salads, wraps and soups in store as well as on-to-go snacks like raw veggies, chia seed puddings, organic slices, protein energy bites and fro-yo.

The Cupp store itself is small yet roomy – with limited bench seating located in store with more tabled seating directly outside the store. As you walk in you are greeted by the friendly staff behind the counter. To the right is an open display which showcases all of Cupp’s products from Salads, Puddings, Yoghurts and of course their range of blended smoothies. Cupp has recently developed a Kosher range to cater for the growing need and interest – showing their ability to adapt to their varying customer base. Another positive about Cupp is that everything is packaged separately – for example you can buy a boiled egg on its own, a combination of vegetables on its own, tuna on its own – which allows you as the customer to create your own lunch combination. The labels let you know what ingredients have been put into each dish as well letting you know what dietary requirements it covers which makes it a lot easier for customers.
To order a blended smoothie you simply pick your Cupp, take it the counter, select your liquid that you want added to the Cupp, the friendly staff will then blend it for you and voila you are ready to enjoy your Superfood – Superfast!

Cupp works together with many gyms and fitness venues in and around the Melbourne CBD and often creates fun events to showcase their vision and products. Cupp caters for a wide range of customers especially office workers as they can quickly create a blended smoothie as well as having a healthy lunch all ready and prepared for their customers to have on the go.

I was lucky enough to be invited down to Cupp and speak to the owner – Victoria – as well as trying out their blended smoothies. Victoria is friendly as well as being both passionate and determined about getting the word out that healthy eating can be both fun and delicious and there shouldn’t be any bad stigma attached to it. She loves the idea that she can get her kids (and I’m sure any other children for that matter) to eat vegetables like spinac, kale when mixing it together with other natural ingredients and they have no idea that they are eating them! It just tastes that good!

The Blended Smoothie Menu is great – it lists out each of the ingredients that are in the smoothie as well as outlining the benefits of each of the ingredients – which allows you to pick a smoothie to really target any areas that you feel are lacking. After looking at the menu for a good while (there were so many that I wanted to try) I finally settled on the Warm Me Blended Smoothie – Banana, Coconut Oil, Tumeric, Cinnamon, Ginger, Avocado, Mango and Almond Milk. I have never seen the use of Tumeric in smoothies before, so really wanted to see how it worked with the other ingredients. As the name states – the turmeric really does provide that “warming” feeling and is complemented by the other ingredients, all whilst not being too strong. I really enjoyed the blended smoothie – the sweetness from the mango coupled with the avocado and cinnamon were divine!

I also got to sample some of the Cupp’s other products such as the Superfood Cupp Corn and Beetroot Chips.
The Superfood Cupp Corn was out of this world AMAZING! Made up of Popcorn, Butter, Vanilla Essence, Chia Seeds, Cashews, Almonds, Pistachios, Coconut and finished with a Rice Malt Syrup – it was delicious. I loved the different textures that you got when you took a pinchful to put into your mouth. It was so addictive that you couldn’t help but finish the whole cup in a record time! If you love popcorn and always feel guilty eating the unhealthy version – you should definitely try Cupp’s version.
The Beetroot Chips sounded interesting from the get go. Made simply using Beetroot, Thyme, Lemon Zest and Salt and baked in the oven. They tasted pretty good but I found that some of the chips were blackened a bit too much and therefore gave a “burnt” taste to it.

Cupp is a great addition to the city and serves a range of blended smoothies and healthy meals which caters for a large variety of customers. They are looking to expand this customer base further by looking into creating meal plans that customers can tailor to suit them, as well as opening more stores. They love to support local business such as counsellors, beauty stores and gyms as well as sourcing local and organic ingredients. If you want smoothies with a difference, delicious and healthy snacks to keep you going through your work or uni day or even for a great tasting meal – then Cupp is the place for you. Also keep a look out on their Youtube Channel ( https://www.youtube.com/user/cuppaustralia) for fun workout videos, recipes and more!

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

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – A great range of blended smoothies, salads, water, yoghurts, puddings and desserts – Refer to http://cupp.com.au/menu/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Comfortable and Relaxed
Standout Dish:Superfood Cupp Corn
Service: Fantastic – Friendly, Warm and Welcoming
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://cupp.com.au/
Manchester Unity Building Arcade
220 Collins Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9663 5494

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

Cupp on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cuppaustralia
Twitter: @CuppAustralia
Instagram: cuppaustralia
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/cuppaustralia

 

Pad Thai Restaurant – There’s More to Pad Thai

panda 4 rating Green Curry Fried RiceGreen Curry Friend Rice

Close up of Green Curry Fried Rice

Menu:
Pad Thai Menu Pad Thai Menu

I am a huge fan of Thai food – from the spiciness to the distinct Thai flavours – with Pad Thai being one of my all time favourite dishes. When I discovered that there was a restaurant conveniently located in the Melbourne CBD called Pad Thai Restaurant I simply had to try it out.

Pad Thai Restaurant was name simply because most Australians are familiar with the popular Thai dish as well wanting to showcase variations to the traditional Pad Thai that people are used to. Instead of focussing on a large range of dishes, their main focus is on to deliver other popular Thai dishes and do them really well, all whilst bringing you the real authentic taste of Thai food.

There are three different types of Pad Thai to choose from – Sen Jan (Rice Stick Noodle), Kiew Krob (Fried Wonton) and Voon Sen (Glass Noodle). The rest of the menu compromises of other noodle dishes, Thai Noodle Soup, Rice and Fried Rice, Curries, Small Bites and a Large Variety of Salads as well as Thai’s All Time Favourites – which include Suki Dry/Wet, Pla Too Nam Prik Krapi and Khao Pad Nahm.
The menu has pictures which show some of the dishes that you can order, along with a chilli indicator to notify patrons of how hot a dish is.

I wanted to order something other than a Pad Thai and therefore ordered the Green Curry Fried Rice – Fried Rice with Green Curry Paste, Green Beans and Sweet Basil Leaves – Extra Spicy. The serving sizes are quite generous and I struggled to finish my one serve. The dish was visually pleasing and had the perfect amount of vegetables to rice combination. The flavour was just what I was expecting – the green curry paste laced through the rice with the vegetables cooked just how I liked it and the basil leaves finishing off the Thai flavours.

A perfect lunch venue in my opinion – great service and the food is brought out in a quick timeframe for those who want a quick lunch break. The place itself is located in the food court area and has many different seating options available, both inside the venue and just outside.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to the pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Laid back and Relaxed
Service: Friendly and Quick
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://padthairestaurant.com.au/
246 Bourke St, Melbourne
Tel No: 9639 6868

Opening Hours:

Monday to Friday: 11:00 am – 7:00pm
Saturday: 11:00am – 6.30pm
Sunday: 11:00am – 6:00pm

Pad Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pad-Thai-Restaurant-Melbourne/372153372522
Instagram: padthaieatery

Göz City – Gözleme Charm

panda 4 rating

Menu:
The Menu Gözleme menu halal (1)

One of Grazing Panda’s readers emailed me about Goz City to let me know that it was a restaurant that I should add to my Halal Restaurant tab – and from that time onwards I was keen to check it out. Having visited Turkey earlier in the year I was looking forward to eating one of Turkey’s famous age-old foods.

Goz City is the first of its kind – the first standalone speciality gözleme store in the Melbourne CBD, well just Melbourne even – and was opened in January by Taylan Aksoy. Aksoy together with his dad Alan also owns Koy in South Melbourne – where you can purchase gözlemes as well; and on a busy day they can sell upwards of 300!

Goz City is a smallish store located near the corner of Little Collins and Williams Street in the Melbourne CBD, complete with a cosy, homely and relaxed vibe. What I love is that you can stand out the front and watch through the front window as the gözleme are made. You can watch their swift, efficient process as they churn out these traditional flatbreads. The process involves the yufka pastry being rolled, flattened, filled with your choice of topping and cooked to order.
The menu consists of four different varieties – Cheese & Spinach, Herbed Chicken & Mushroom, Minced Meat (Beef) or Mushroom & Vegetables – which are $10 each (or if you want to purchase it with a drink $12). These are complemented weekly, with unique and seasonally-driven gözleme flavours.
There are also Boreks ($4 each or if you order it with a coffee for $6) available in the same flavours, as well as Pides (such as Tomato & Egg or Sucuk Sausage & Egg for $5 each or $7 with a coffee). There is also the option of House Made Soup served with a toasted Turkish Bagel (when I visited the soup of the day was Mushroom). There is also a great selection of Turkish, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern inspired salads such as Cypriot Cauliflower or Quinoa Tabouli.
Coffee served is from Tobys Estate and comes in a House Blend as well as a Single Origin.

Their main focus is on takeaway – but if you get in early and beat the rush there are around 14 seats available – both inside and outside – there is a high bench for seating as well as some lower wooden tables. Lines are out the door especially if you arrive after 12pm with the wait time not too long (you are getting fresh, made to order gözlemes after all!).
Earthy, rustic and warm tones are used throughout the venue coupled with black and white pictures. Gözlemes are presented on a wooden board – with the gözleme cut into convenient mixed sized rectangles and served with sour cream. The serving size is very generous (I struggled to finish the entire serving!) – and the dish is very very filling. I ordered the Herbed Chicken & Mushroom gözleme – which had been seasoned perfectly and tasted great. The bread was cooked just right as well – crispy on the outside and soft on the lower layers. My only critique would be that instead of the gözleme being served with sour cream I would have preferred it to be garlic sauce.
I also had a minced lamb borek – which was a tad bit on the oily side – but was succulent and delicious. The pastry used for the borek is thin, light and crunchy.

There are also Homemade Turkish sweets such as Baklava and Turkish Delight available for sale as well as Turkish Coffee.

Goz City combines the age-old gözleme tradition with a distinct modern twist – offering a unique Turkish food experience. Gözleme is fast becoming the latest street food craze to hit town and if the queues are anything to go by – it will be one to stick around for a while to come!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to the pictures above or go to http://www.gozcity.com.au/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cosy, Homely and Relaxed
Service: Friendly
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.gozcity.com.au/
502 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9041 5667

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:30am – 4:-00pm
Saturday & Sunday: CLOSED

Goz City on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gozcitycbd
Twitter: @GozCity
Instagram: Goz City

Roti Road – Roti Show and A Whole Lot More!

panda 3.5 rating

 

A friend told me about Roti Road and how the Roti Chef does a “Roti Performance” where he flips, twirls roti bread to a variety of musical tunes – this can include Michael Jackson! The food was tasty as well she said so I was intrigued and curious to try it out for myself.

Roti Road is Malaysian Chinese fusion restaurant located in Footscray – taking over what used to be Yummie – and is half owned by David Tran (son of Yummie’s Annie and John Tran). It has received a grand make over which sees the fit-out being completed with glossy wood, red banquettes, a fish tank and an open view into the kitchen. You are initially greeted by two large doors which lead you into the restaurant. Inside there are two main dining areas – one to the left and one to the right. If you are in the dining room to the right – you can be seated with a view looking into the kitchen where you can watch Awi – the master roti maker in action. If you are seated to the left – Awi will come to you and showcase his brilliant roti making skills. The times of his performance varies according to crowd levels but is generally around the 8pm mark each night – with some nights having two performances.

The menu is extensive and they serve Yumcha daily till 3pm (as per its previous life as Yummie). All food is made in-house from the roti to the laksa paste. There are Stir Fried Noodles, Noodles in Soup, Mains, Rice Dishes, Vegetable Dishes and Desserts to choose from. The menu is a mixture of words as well as pictures of certain dishes which can sway your decision of what to order. However ordering Roti is a must – after all the place is called Roti Road – trust me you won’t be disappointed. For Desserts – they serve Roti Tisu / Roti Pisang – which is a Roti that comes out looking like a teepee with a side serving of ice cream. The Roti is coated in sugar – this is yet another must try dish! Other dishes on their menu include Nasi Lemak, Char Kuay Teow, Maggie Mee Goreng, Malaysian Style Fish Head Curry, Hainanese Chicken Rice, Nasi Goreng just to name a few.

I am a huuggggeeee fan of bubble tea so when I got to the drinks menu and saw they had a number of flavours I hadn’t encountered before I had to order one. The one that caught my eye was the Oreo Bubble Tea – Oreos have always been my weak point in the biscuit range, so when it is combined with my other favourite bubble tea – I was really excited! And boy did it not disappoint! The bubble tea came out served in a large beer mug glass, with the pearls at the bottom and an oreo floating at the top. The flavour was absolute heaven – it was the creaminess of the milk together with crunchy pieces of Oreo throughout the milk tea with the pop of the pearls. You have to try it just to know how good it is!

N ordered the Chicken Satay which had hints of the smokiness thanks to the use of the charcoal grill. I tasted the accompanying satay sauce which was a lot spicier than most of the other peanut sauces I have tasted – a winner in my book!

I ordered the Seafood Cigars – which come served in a cocktail glass filled with shredded carrot. The Cigars are quite tall in size and are topped and tailed with black sesame seeds. The pasty on the outside is crunchy in texture and works well with the wholesome prawn filling.

N and I both ordered a serving of the Roti. The Roti comes served on a tin plate which has separate sections for the sambal, dhal and curry sauce. The sambal is spicy goodness, the dhal has subtle hints of earthy tones and the curry sauce is full of flavour with a hint of spice. The Roti is to-die-for – it is crisp, light and fluffy – and is good enough to eat on its own. You seriously could have a tonne of these Roti’s! The combination of the roti with its constituents is fantastic and I love the idea that you can mix and match the differing flavours. You can also add either chicken curry or beef rending curry to the mix as well if you want. We also ordered the Belachan KangKung – a fresh tasting dish which combined the crunch of the kangkung with the deep spicy flavours of the shrimp paste.

I was really hungry that day so I also ordered the Seafood Curry Laksa. The serving size is quite generous ( I struggled to finish the entire bowl). You are greeted by the enticing smell and the deep red hues as it is placed in front of you – with the inviting seafood, bean shoots and eggplant bopping up and down. The egg noodles are hidden away at the bottom and you need to dig deep to get to them. The Laksa is bursting with flavour – rich and spicy and it really hits the spot. It would be especially perfect on a freezing cold & rainy day. The tofu is divine and the seafood fresh.

We went to dinner on a Sunday and didn’t get a chance to stay for the show at 8pm, however as we were seated in the dining room to the right – we had a clear view of the kitchen window and got to enjoy Awi’s Roti magic. He starts off by spreading a ball of dough, then he lifts, flips and slaps it around to get it into a rectangular shape. This is when the show really begins – there is twirling, throwing and catching – all whilst not making so much as a tear or rip in the dough. Once he has completed this he then lays it back on the bench and folds it into the desired shape to be cooked. I will definitely be back bringing more people here to not only try the food out but to stay for the show performance that happens out in the dining area amongst the crowd to tunes.

Service is good – staff are friendly and happy to answer any questions – but it seems like once you get your food this lowers. It also took a long time to get someone’s attention to ask for the bill that in the end up we ended up going to the counter itself to pay.

Roti Road has great tasting authentic Malaysian food with the added bonus of a Flying Roti show. The menu has a huge variety that even the fussiest person will something that they want to eat – be it from soups, noodles to veggies. Check it out and DEFINITELY try the ROTI!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to pictures above of their Takeaway Menu or you can find a link here – http://www.urbanspoon.com/cities/71/restaurants/1835788/menu_photos/438713
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Homely and Casual. Great for a family dinner.
Standout Dish: Roti!!
Service: Not too bad – sometimes it can be hard to get the attention of staff. But when you do they are friendly and helpful.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.rotiroad.com.au
189-193 Barkly Street, Footscray
Tel No: 9078 8878

Opening Hours:
Monday to Thursday : 10.30am – 9.30pm
Friday & Saturday: 10:00am – 10:00pm
Sunday: 10.30am – 9.30pm

Facebook: www.facebook.com/rotiroad

Roti Road on Urbanspoon

Northern Lights Bar & Eatery – Fusion Food with Fanciful Lights

panda 4 rating 
Love the Lights!

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Menu:
Northern Light Menu

We needed a place to have dinner after a full day at the Good Food and Wine show in the Fitzroy / Collingwood area, as we were heading to drinks in that area later. I referred to my trusty list of places I wanted to go and realised Northern Light Bar & Eatery worked perfectly.

Northern Light is located on Smith Street in Collingwood – in what used to be the old Gigibaba. Venue owners are Adam Liston and Glen Bagnara (ex-Chester White) together with manager Emily Pullen, and they have created a fusion Chinese and Japanese eatery that is all about shared dishes. Clearly the years Liston spent in Shanghai were utilised in the creation of the menu and the idea behind Northern Light.

From the moment you step in you feel like you are transported to another world – almost forest like (hence the name) – thanks to the plethora of dangling combination of light bulbs and lanterns. It’s beautiful. The next thing your eyes are drawn to is the marble white bar that takes up the length of the venue, finished with dark wood. There is seating all along the bar, along with lower tables at the front which has a massive white decorative mirror overlooking it. Exposed brick walls and mood lighting completes the look.

The menu designed by Liston and is split into 6 different sections – Snacks, Plates, Cooked over Binchotan, Meat, fish & Vegetables, Sides and finishes with Desserts. You can pick from the enticing dishes yourself or have the banquet menu – 5 courses for $55 and 7 courses for $75. Snack dishes include Spiced Prawn Cracker, a golden egg, Plate dishes which are slightly larger consists of an edamame dish with kimchi sauce, an interesting eel dish and air dried Blackbmore beef. Cooked over the Binchotan have a selection of skewers that come in the form of mushroom, chicken, beef or pork belly. The meat, fish & vegetable section include soba noodles, suckling pig, a smoked trout okonomiyaki and lamb ribs. There are three different sides to choose from as well three different desserts.

The drink menu includes Sapporo on tap along with other drink options include cider, wine, and a concise selection of cocktails. I ordered a mocktail of mint and pineapple and it was quite tasty.

We have a few dietary requirements and the staff are happy to help us out and let us know which dishes are Gluten-free. With that knowledge we decide to order for ourselves – there are four of us – and get a couple of dishes from each section. What I also liked was that each time a dish came out – the staff explained what the dish was and each component.

We start off with the Golden Egg, Caramel, Fried Shallot, Furikake. This came highly recommended from the staff, and after eating this dish we could see why. The dish was quite a colourful dish thanks to the blue background of the plate together with the fried shallots and furikake (nori, seasame and chilli) all adding to the colourfulness. The golden egg was perfectly soft centered – it had been poached and then flash fried to create a crackling outer shell that had been rolled in caramel. The dish was finished with the onion as well as the furikake and worked extremely well together. It was a combination of spice, salt, sugar, crunch and gooeyness – try it out for yourselves.

The Sichuan Spiced School Prawns, Curry Mayo were up next. There was a bit division here with this dish but only with regards to the Curry Mayo – half of us liked it and half of us didn’t. I was on team I LIKE THE MAYO – it was an interesting combination and I think it worked well with the flavour of the prawns. The Sichuan spiced prawns on the other hand was a clear winner – everyone loved it and we sat around discussing how we could recreate this dish at home. They were perfectly crunchy and flavoured well and you could sit there eating them all day!

The Edamame, Broccolini, Gai Lan, Kimchi Sauce was an interesting dish. I am obsessed with Broccolini at the moment, so when I saw this as one of the components I had to get it. The Edamame came already out of the pod – which was a bit disappointing – the whole fun attributed to popping them yourself was missing, however I get why it was done for this dish. The dish was fresh and tasty thanks to the kimchi sauce.

Next up was the Eel unagi, Squid Sauce, salted Grapes, Mojama. This was a really great dish! A hadn’t ever had eel before and she tried it for the first time here and quite enjoyed it. The dish was presented interestingly, with grape halves dispersed amongst the eel, which lay on top of the squid sauce and topped with mojama (salt-preserved tuna). The eel was smooth and had a smoky flavour which worked well when coupled with the sweetness of the grapes and the saltiness of the mojama. A dish well worth ordering.

The Air dried Blackmore beef, wasabi, yolk, fried potato was another interestingly plated up dish – the main focus was the nest of thin potato slices that you needed to push aside to reveal the vibrant Blackmore beef and the bright yolk. The dish was completed with fresh wasabi, horseradish and sorrel leaves. The boys quite enjoyed the beef dish and said it was interesting to have it combined with the walk runny yolk.

The Wagyu oyster blade skewers with Bulldog Sauce were a hit as well. They are quite small in size and I am sure they all could have eaten another three skewers each – they were that easy to eat – tender and flavoursome, and the bulldog sauce always makes things more interesting.

I used to order vegetarian okonomiyakis all the time and really enjoyed the dish, so was interested to see what Northern Light’s version would taste like. We ordered the Smoked trout, salted shrimp okonomiyaki, katsuobushi (this is the Japanese name for dried, fermented and smoked skip jack tuna). We were all enthralled by this dish when it was placed in front of us as we saw pieces of food moving – this turned out to be the katsuobushi. When placed on hot food, the heat waves causes the thin and light katsuobushi to move about which made the dish seem alive with the “dancing” katsuobushi. The dish resembled a seafood omelette and was quite tasty – however we found it a tad bit too salty. The saltiness took over the other flavours of the dish so I couldn’t really taste the smokiness of the trout.

To accompany the dishes we had ordered we also ordered the Warm soba noodles, wild mushrooms, white sesame and the Vegetarian Fried Rice. The soba noodle dish I loved – anything combined with mushrooms and sesame to me is brilliant. The noodles weren’t overcooked either so all in all a good dish.

After all the dishes we got try I actually was quite full and wasn’t really considering dessert – but I am glad that I decided to change my mind at the last minute. I ordered the Broken Ice Cream Sandwich. This was yet another interestingly presented dish – it came out with jagged edged shards made out of chocolate and reminiscent of a hardened cake – placed in form of a tent shape. Once you open this fort like surrounds you reveal a luscious and creamy vanilla ice cream rectangle chunk, which is topped with dollops of equally creamy chocolate mousse and gooey salted caramel. The combination of these three elements together was spectacular and it was the best end to a great meal. Who knew something so simple when put together could taste so great!

We apparently beat the Saturday night rush as we had a pretty early dinner – around 6pm and left around 7:30pm. So if you want to beat the rush go early! Northern Light Bar & Eatery is a great place to just hang out and enjoy some great Japanese/Chinese inspired dishes whether it be with a group of four people or even a romantic night out. The mood is casual and relaxed, the staff really friendly and those multiple hanging lights are a winner in my book!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to above pic. Menu can also be found at http://www.northernlightbarandeatery.com/menu/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Romantic, Mood Lighting, Casual and Relaxed. Great for a first date – but works well for a group of 4 as well!
Standout Dish: Golden Egg, Caramel, Fried Shallot, Furikake AND Broken Ice Cream Sandwich
Service: Fantastic! Very helpful when we needed to find out about which dishes were Gluten Free. Friendly as well!
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.northernlightbarandeatery.com/bookings/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.northernlightbarandeatery.com/
102 Smith Street, Collingwood
Tel No: 9416 0698

Opening Hours:
Closed Mondays
Tuesday to Thursday: 5:30pm – Late

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duNord – Swedish Splendour

panda 4.5 rating

Menu:
Menyu at duNord

G & I were catching up for dinner and decided to check out duNord which is located in Little Bourke St – right in the middle of the Melbourne CBD. duNord serves up Swedish flavours and Nordic inspired cocktails and is owned by Thomas Kiltorp (ex-Emerald Peacock, Red Hummingbird).

As you walk in you are greeted by the super long Beechwood bar which has solid bar stools that you can perch yourself up at. There are also higher tables near the bar. Following the bar is the kitchen and to the right of that there are lower blonde wooden tables for more seating. At the back of the venue is space called Back Pocket where you get fit between 30 to 70 people for a private function. There is exposed brick combined with the light wooden furniture combined with a neutral colour palette to create a warm, welcoming and inviting feel to the venue. The staff are ever so friendly and helpful.

duNord is known for its Nordic themed bar which includes Scandanavian beers, ciders but the main feature is their cocktails. This would be expected especially with Kiltorp at the helm. There is a daily “market cocktail” as well as a list of 12 different cocktails, which changes according to the produce available as well as the weather. Interestingly there is a mystery brown bagged beer – beer served in a brown bag to try out as well! There is also a snack menu – svenska bitar – which includes some Swedish meatballs or a smorgasbord platter of herring, gouda cheese, rye and pickles.

G & I arrived at duNord after work for dinner and were seated on the lower tables near the kitchen area. We actually didn’t order any of the cocktails and went straight to the food as we were starving. The menu is split into 5 sections beginning with the nibbles and followed by to start, vegetables, mains and finishing with something sweet. There are between 3 to 5 dishes to select under each of these menus. There is a great selection for vegetarians, and the meats range from venison to mutton and include pork loin, duck breast and smoked mackerel.

We decided to order two ‘nibbles’ dish to share, our own mains and a vegetable to share as well.For the two nibbles dishes we ordered the Smoked Eel and Acorn Croquettes in popcorn and the Pine Smoked Quails Nest.

I have never eaten Acorn before so was intrigued to find out what type of flavour it would be. It was a bit hard to differentiate as it was in a croquette style and mixed together with the smoked eel. However the result was delicious – the smokiness of the eel and the nuttiness of the acorn paired well together. It came in a serving of two so was perfect for the two of us. The outer layer was crumbed and crisped perfectly.

Before ordering the Pine Smoked Quail Nest – the waitress explained what the dish consisted of and it sounded really interesting. When the dish comes out it comes under a dome which houses the smokiness, and once it arrives at your table, this is removed and the vapours evaporate. The “nest” actually resembles a real life birds nest – with the “nest” made out of carrots and onions which are created to look like bark. Really cool! The quail egg sits in the centre of this nest. A really visually pleasing dish that makes you not want to eat it. However, we did eat the dish and the quail egg was really yum – the centre yolk was like liquid gold with the perfect texture to it. We had to ask if we could eat the “nest” and once told we could, we devoured every last bit. There was potato at the bottom which was my favourite tasting part.

For mains I ordered the Wild mushroom and Potato Ragout with Pearled Barley and Greens. This has to one of the prettiest dishes plated up that I have received this year. The Pearled Barley was in a heaped perfect circle, topped with the wild mushrooms and the green placed on top of the mushrooms – like a layered trifle. Beetroot jus was placed artistically around the plate along with a few of the wild mushrooms. I loved the combination of all the elements of the dish. The texture of the pearled barley with the mushrooms worked well together, and the flavours were all round delicious. A really great dish to try out.

G ordered the Duck breast, sautéed roasted vegetables, poached pears, blood and berry jus –w which was also beautifully presented. The sautéed roasted vegetables were colourfully placed in the centre of the black plate with the tender duck breast flanking each side. The poached pear was next to the duck breast and the dish was finished with a whole small red onion and berry jus. G did like her dish and said the duck was cooked really well, and overall the flavours combined together really well – she just wasn’t a fan of the beetroot (it just isn’t a veggie she likes).

We also ordered the Seasonal roasted vegetables on Goats curd with Ashed Goats Cheese to share which was actually quite a large dish. The dish was a variety of carrots char grilled and served with the fresh smoked cheese. The carrots were still juicy and sweet and combined with the smokiness and tang of the cheese was a great result. We were so full from our individual main dishes that we couldn’t finish this veggie dish – I guess in hindsight we ordered a bit too much.

When it came to dessert time we decided to share the Lavender Ice Cream, Lemon and Vanilla Sponge, White Chocolate Soil. The dish came plated up on a long dish with the lavender ice cream scoop on one side and the lemon and vanilla sponge on the other with the white chocolate soil diagonally placed around the two. The lavender ice cream was great- had the lavender flavouring mixed together in a creamy end result. The lemon and vanilla sponge was not as soft as I expected it to be but provided a different texture to the dish. The elements together worked quite well and the addition of the white chocolate soil I thought was a necessary component.

I really enjoyed the food, atmosphere and the helpfulness and friendliness of the staff at duNord. I loved the plating up of the food especially as well as the versatile and different flavours and elements used. If you visit on a Wednesday there is something called Lill Lördag (Little Saturday). This is a night of Swedish street food and drink specials on offer to celebrate the week’s halfway mark, along with some great music to match. Definitely check this place out and try out some delightful Scandinavian cuisine.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – You can find the menu here http://www.dunord.com.au/news/nordic-kitchen-here or look at the menu pic above.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Warm, Inviting, Relaxed and Welcoming
Standout Dish:Pine Smoked Quail Nest AND Wild mushroom and Potato Ragout with Pearled Barley and Greens (I had to pick two)
Service: Fantastic!! Really friendly and really know their information about each dish!
Online Booking: Yes via website – www.dunord.com.au – there is a DIMMI link
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.dunord.com.au
367 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9642 0052

Opening Hours:
Monday – Thursday: 12pm – Late
Friday: 12pm – 1am
Saturday: 6pm – 1am

duNord on Urbanspoon

Annie Smithers Bistrot – Warm, Stylish Country Bistro

panda-4-rating1

N and I headed into Kyneton for lunch on a cold and rainy Sunday for lunch. Kyneton is located about an hour from Melbourne and is a quaint little country town. It is known for being a country town with good food with many establishments being recognised in the Age Good Food Guide, as well as having many cafes that have been listed in the Cheap Eats Guide. Kyneton has many bluestone buildings that are the main feature of the town that date back to the Gold Rush era, where Kyneton was a major supply town for diggings. For lunch we were going to Annie Smithers Bistrot and I was thoroughly looking forward to it.

Annie Smithers Bistrot is located in a historic bluestone building on Piper Street which now known as one of the most popular eating precincts in the state. Annie Smithers Bistro was recently bought by Tim Foster and his wife Michelle. Tim was the head chef at the Healesville Hotel in Yarra Valley. Annie Smithers herself will instead be focussing on her other restaurant – Du Fermier (located in Trentham, and a place I really want to try – it is next on my list!), her gardens as well as putting out a second book.

Annie Smithers instilled a farm to plate philosophy (which is also instilled at her Du Fermier restaurant) – which means that almost 90% of the produce supplied to the bistro is from the properties gardens and adjacent farmhouse. You can be sure that you are getting a fantastic meal with that type of philosophy. The venue itself is quite stunning – set in an old bluestone building with exposed brick on the inside coupled with high ceilings in both of its rooms and fitted out with modern wooden comfortable furniture. There are also beige leather cushion like seats along the walls. A huge arch shaped window in the main dining area allows lighting to stream in from the outside, further adding to the warmth and charm.

We were given our menus once seated at our table. On this Sunday the restaurant was not quite at full-house and there were three wait staff. One small glitch for the whole day was that it took me twice to gesture to someone for them to come over to give us water and take our orders. This tainted our experience a tad bit, however from then onwards it was smooth sailing. We placed our orders (we got an entree and a main each  – yep we were a bit hungry) and were given a choice between two house made breads – olive sourdough and normal sourdough. We both picked Olive Sourdough and it was delicious, fresh and warm! It also had the perfect crunch on the outside -yum!

For entrees there was Grilled Par Boned Quail, Braised Organic French Style Lentils, Istra Chorizo, Cauliflower Fitter, Holy Goat Fromage Frais, Chervil and the Twice Baked Mushroom and Taleggio Souffle, Mizuna, Nashi Pear & Walnut Salad, Walnut Oil. The Mushroom Souffle was beautifully presented and looked like a little nest amongst the leaves – which was made out of salad. The Mushroom Souffle with Taleggio was scumptious – from the mushrooms to the cheese paired together with the sweetness of the Nashi Pear and the texture and nuttiness of the walnuts – it was all fantastic. I haven’t eaten anything like this before, and feedback from other patrons was to the same tune – they all loved this dish. N enjoyed his quail dish as well, and said the mix of the cauliflower fritter and lentils together brought together some great flavours and textures to the perfectly cooked tender quail. The cheese added a smooth texture together with a tangy yoghurt taste.

Next up was mains – Ricotta & Herb Gnocchi, Australian Heirloom Pumpkin, Cavolo Nero, Truffled Pecorino, Crumbed Hen’s Egg, Herb & Fennel Salad and Brined and Grilled Loin, Baked Spartan Apple, Jerusalem Artichoke, Braised Cabbage, Fennel & Seeds, Cider Jus. With the mains you are given a side of vegetables which is the choice of the kitchen, we got Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Butter and Salt. Can I just start off by saying I am not a fan of Brussels Sprouts, but these were delicious – the flavours were simple and easy but tasted fantastic! I might just become a Brussels Sprouts convert. Both the main dishes once again came out beautifully presented as expected. The Ricotta & Herb Gnocchi was freshly made and was soft and squishy, with a semi-hardness to it on the outside – just what you would want in a gnocchi. They were off-shaped but that’s what added to the homeliness of the dish and had the perfect amount of herb seasoning. The Crumbed Hen’s Egg was in the middle of the dish and was a crumbed and crunchy. This is something of what you would expect on a brunch menu, but together with the gnocchi and the veggies it worked. The egg was gooey and runny on the inside and when you mixed it with the a piece of gnocchi, pumpkin, some fennel and cavolo nero and some gratings of truffled pecorino it was a delicious mix for your tastebuds. It should also be noted that is quite a filling dish!

Eventhough I was pretty full from the entrée and the main meals – of course I had to get something from the dessert menu (besides it was pouring with rain outside and it was cosy and warm at the bistro =p). I decided to get the Soft Centered Dark Chocolate Pudding, Honey Cream, Praline, Honeycomb & Hazelnut Ice Cream. The dish came out with the Chocolate Pudding, Ice Cream and Honey Cream in a glass to pour over the pudding. I knew from just looking at how good it would be! Before I could do anything I cut the Chocolate Pudding and let the warm chocolate ooze out, and ooze out it did! Perfect. The combination of the honey cream and the chocolate was delicious. Another highlight was the Honeycomb and Hazelnut Ice Cream. The Honeycomb was sugary, rich and crispy and together with the walnut and ice cream was so yum! Even N who doesn’t like sweet things much – ate most of the ice cream. You really do have to try it!

Another little sweetener is that you are offered a selection of their home made petit fours. On this day we had a selection of a Rose Meringue, White Chocolate Fudge and an Almond Biscoti (we got to sample all of them =p). They were bite sized portions of sweet heaven!

Annie Smithers Bistrot is a charming little place with some of the freshest and tastiest food I have had. The service is friendly and staff always have a smile on their face and will happily have a long conversation with you and answer any question. Annie Smithers is definitely worth the drive up to check the place out. The town itself is quite cute and you can definitely spend a whole day here.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – The menu tends to change daily – refer to http://www.anniesmithers.com.au/uploads/files/ASA%20Menu%20main%2023%20May%202013.pdf for the Lunch / Dinner Menu and http://www.anniesmithers.com.au/uploads/files/ASA%20Menu%20Dessert%2023%20May%202013.pdf for the Dessert Menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cosy, Warm and Welcoming. Great for a day trip and for great food.
Standout Dish: Twice Baked Mushroom and Taleggio Souffle, Mizuna, Nashi Pear & Walnut Salad, Walnut Oil
Service: Fantastic, Friendly and Warm – always helpful and interactive
Online Booking: No, only phone reservations are taken – NOTE: To avoid disappointment, try to allow at least 3-4 weeks in advance as weekend services book out well in advance.
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.anniesmithers.com.au/home
72 Piper St, Kyneton
Tel No: 03 5422 2039

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Friday to Sunday: 12pm – 4:00pm
Dinner
Thursday to Sunday: 6pm – 11pm

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Brooks – Culinary Beauty!


   


Menu:
      

Brooks Restaurant is a recently opened restaurant which has taken over the site where Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen was, and Tobie Puttock’s The Kitchen Cat. It is the joint venture between  The venture of Gerald Diffey and Mario di Lenno. After dining here last night, I really do hope that Brooks is around for a long long time. The dining area hasn’t changed much at all since it was The Kitchen Cat, the layout is still the same. You are greeted at the entrance to the stairs with a BB handle on the door. As you walk down the stairs to the left of the stairs is a private dining room for group functions, and to the right is where the bar is located – here you can dine at the bar if you wish or if you keep walking through, it leads you to the formal dining area. From this dining area, you can look into the kitchen as the chefs fine tune your meals before they arrive at your table..

The service was impeccable and could not be faulted. The waiter we had was pleasant and friendly and made great suggestions on what we should and shouldn’t eat. The menu at Brooks is somewhat limited – it is split into three parts In the Beginning (Entree items), Seasonally Visiting (which are items for the season) and Here to Stay (which are items that will be around a while). My friend and I each chose dishes from the Seasonally Visiting menu, and were told by our friendly waiter to try the Meli of Vegetables (pictured above) – which had over 30 different types of vegetables. When he said that, we were intrigued and impressed and wanted to see what the fuss was about.

Our dishes came out and as you can see from the pictures, although the serving sizes are quite small – the dishes were beautifully plated. You could tell that there was a thought process that went into putting the food on the plate and the flavours had been carefully researched and designed. I had the fish of day – which was Rockling – the fish was flavoured and grilled just perfectly. My one gripe would be that the peas that came with it – some of them were hard. My friend had the Rump F1 Beef and she was a bit skeptical of the Hay flavouring and the Burnt Veg. But once she tried the whole dish together she said she almost got a cheeseburger like taste. She also said that the beef was cooked perfectly and tasted amazing.
The Nic’s Sovenir of Bras: Meli of Vegetables – was a very colourful and interesting looking dish. There was indeed a vast array of vegetables and alongside that several different dollops of sauces which we were told by the waiter were made in house. Some of the sauces was a sweet strawberry tasting one, a creamy mayonnaise, a tangy sauce etc. I loved that you had a variety of sauces to taste of which you didn’t really know what flavour to expect. It added a bit of fun to the dish.

Next was the dessert ( I had of course already looked at the dessert menu and knew what I wanted). There are only two desserts to choose from. The Forest Floor, Hazelnut Parfait caught my eye so I ordered that, and my friend was going to order the Lemon Curd but the waiter told us to share the Forest Floor and then he would give us a selection of the Petit Fours. I thought this was really nice of him – to suggest something other than making us pay for a dessert that we might not like.
The Forest Floor dessert was beautifully created and I have had something very similar at Embrasse (located in Carlton). This I later realised was because the head chef is Nic Poelaert of Embrasse. I have dedicated a whole photo set to this dessert above. I love the mushroom which compromises of the Hazelnut Parfait and Meringue Base. The Forest Floor is a combination of Chocolate Ganache, Mint and Sorrell Granita. This is a definite MUST TRY dessert.

The Petit Fours were a Rhubarb Jelly with Sour Dust, Salted Caramel and a Donut with Passionfruit Cream. They all were DIVINE! The Donut with Passionfruit was really tangy when you first bit into it, but the after taste it leaves in your mouth was a creamy glow. The Salted Caramel had just the right quantities of sweet and salt. The Rhubarb Jelly was sour and sweet all at the same time and just as great.

We also enjoyed teas with our dessert, and the pots were Cast Iron and oh so heavy, but really cute. I kind of wanted to take one home with me, hence a whole photo dedicated to it =p. The pot held quite a bit of tea and it almost felt like a never ending pot of tea!

Overall I loved every moment of eating at this restaurant and will definitely be back to try out other things on the menu. The service was fantastic and I really do hope this restaurant sticks around for a long time! I cant wait to see what else Nic Poelaert will have on the Seasonally Changing part of the menu.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – A la Carte or Degustation (Chef’s Selection of 5 courses for $80) – Refer to pictures above.
Fullness: 80%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Stylish and Comfortable. Great for a catchup dinner with a group of friends or just a one on one.
Standout Dish: Forest Floor, Hazelnut Parfait
Service: Fantastic, Attentive and Friendly. Also gave us some great choices and thoughts.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.brooksofmelbourne.com/
Basement, 115 – 117 Collins Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9001 8755

Opening Hours:
Monday to Wednesday: 11:30pm to Midnight
Thursday to Friday: 11:30pm to 1am
Saturday: 4pm to 1am

Brooks on Urbanspoon