Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Eat. @ Gelato Messina

237 Smith St, Fitzroy ph (03) 9017 5470

Gelato Messina from Sydney has landed in Melbourne.   I've driven past here on numerous occasions since its opening and seen the crazy lines out the front and thought to myself - how good does the gelati have to be to make me wait in line more than 2 minutes?  

Well the gelati here are really worth waiting for!  The "kinder girls" and I came out to Fitzroy/Collingwood for a dinner night out recently and decided we would join the queue with the crowd of gelato afficiondos half our age and try it out for ourselves.  It was Saturday night after dinner and the crowd was buoyant, the line moved surprisingly fast, and the time passed really quite quickly.  This was helped by the fact that wee were given menus to study whilst waiting, and struggled with our decisions as everything sounded yummy!

I had the Apple Pie, and the Coconut and Lychee, which were beautiful and smooth.  I also tasted some of my friends' gelato - the most memorable was probably the mojito - it tasted like a real hit of mojito but was quite tart after a big scoop so it was best to share!

Gelato Messina Fitzroy on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Eat. @ 400 Gradi - Pizza Masterclass

99 Lygon St, Brunswick East 3057 ph (03) 9380 2320

Last month I was invited to a Pizza Masterclass by Chef Johnny Di Francesco from 400 Gradi.  Whilst I am passionate about my baking, my skills at savouries and main meals are only passable efforts for the sake of survival and are really nothing fancy.  

The masterclass has totally changed my way of viewing the humble pizza that every Australian kid has grown up loving.  The real deal is so much more than  the thick chunk of bread laden with meat and cheese and an occasional piece of pineapple that is so often seen around town!

Chef Johnny Di Francesco, whose family is from Naples, is the "Mr Pizza" behind the restaurant, known for its real Napolitan - style pizza. He is passionate about the art of pizza making, and is not afraid to share the secrets in his hands on classes.

Johnny is keen to pass on his knowledge of how real pizzas should taste and be made, so that the next generation of Australian kids (and adults) won't think that "pizza hut" pizzas are the norm.  I couldn't agree more!

During the class we learnt about everything one needs to know about making a great wood-oven pizza, from the type of flour, to the techniques of dough making and the tricks to stretching a light base with airy crust.

Then we were given free reign at the toppings.  The trick is to keep it simple!  Then it's straight into the 400 degree oven, where it only takes a few minutes for the pizza to be perfectly cooked!

Yours truly is a sucker for anchovies as you can see.  Napolitan pizzas is actually a pretty healthy meal really.  No fats in the dough, and just a scattering of mozarella and prosciutto for my topping.  So delicious with a drink at the of the class!

If you'd like to go to one of Johnny's masterclasses, these are held on the third Saturday of every month.  Pretty cool Christmas pressie (and even Valentine's Day!) for this time of year I say!

400 Gradi on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer : I attended the Pizza Masterclass at 400 Gradi at the invitation of 400 Gradi courtesy of AMPR Public Relations.  Opinions are my own.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Eat. @ Spring Street Grocer

157 Spring St, Melbourne CBD 3000 ph (03) 9639 0335

Gelato fever has struck Melbourne!  With the arrival of the Sydney imports N2 Extreme Gelato and Gelato Messina, I was reminded of our visit to Spring St Grocer for a good old fashioned ice cold treat we had, ironically on a freezing cold Melbourne Spring day.  

Mini Me patiently wait for the gelato
The artisanal gelato here is to-die-for, and I love how they offer a great selection of flavours that changes daily.  

When you finish the delicious treat you can pick up organic fruit and vegies and a great variety of gourmet ingredients in the grocery section, reminiscent of the local Grocers of the old.

Spring St Grocer on Urbanspoon

Eat. @ Grill'd (Fairfield)

126 Station St, Fairfield 3078 ph (03) 9481 2566

I remember when Grill'd was new to the scene - it was a one of the first great alternative to the overly greasy heavy burgers from the local take-away or the highly processed  "burgers" that tasted like anything but.  Fast forward to 2013 and the business opens its 28th Victorian store in Fairfield and has become a favourite place for a quick bite.  I was invited to check out the store recently and so Mini Me, Macaron Monster and I had lunch there a few weeks ago.

The store is quite big and comfortable, with large communal tables good for big groups and taller, bar-height tables with barstools to perch on.  

The kids menu is one of the things that made me visit Grill'd initially, as they have a cute little "Mini Me" Pack ($7.5) comprising of a mini-burger made with either a beef pattie or chicken fillet, with a mini-serve of chips and a choice of juice or water.  They come with entertainment in the form of pencils and coloring pages so that I can enjoy my meal in peace!

Mini Me had the Mini-Moo Snack burger ($7.5) which is a smaller version of their full sized burgers.  Quite substantial and not that mini in my opinion!

I usually have the Crispy Bacon and Cheese Burger or the Summer Sunset (with pineapple!), but on the day I chose to try their salad.  It's been on the menu for a while but for some reason I never noticed it!!!  A lovely, lighter, lower-carb option, the Chicken, Pomegranate and Goat's Cheese Salad was delicious and a great alternative when I'm not in the mood for burgers (okay, that's fairly rare!).

I love this strip of shops in Fairfield, as they have an interesting array of shops and of course for those with little kids you've probably visited Fairyfields for a kids party or two.  Grill'd is a welcome addition!

Grill'd Fairfield on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer : Kids and I  dined courtesy of Grill'd Fairfield.   Opinions are my own.

Toilets - Yes
Highchairs - Yes

Friday, November 15, 2013

Eat. @ Prospect Espresso

2A Prospect Hill Rd, Camberwell 3124 ph (03) 9882 7359

Prospect Espresso is another excellent little coffee place in Camberwell which serves up some pretty nice food.  I've been on a number of occasions when I've shopped at the Camberwell shops and have always enjoyed the coffee and pleasant food.  The staff have always been friendly, and extremely accommodating when I've had Bubs with me.

Coffee is their forte, and my mochas ($3.8) are consistently smooth and lovely.

Their Breakfast Roll ($12.5) with bacon, poached egg and hollandaise is a pretty filling breakfast.  I've had it "burger style", but it also works "deconstructed" when I've shared it with Bubs.

On my most recent visit I noticed the Buttermilk Panna Cotta ($12.5) served with mango mousse, passionfruit and amaretto biscuit on the breakfast menu.  I ummed and ahhhed about the decadence of having a dessert for breakfast/brunch - it's surely no more indulgent than having brioche french toast or sticky date pudding right?!  Boy, I was so glad I did.  Not only was the dish delicious, but I was surprised at how beautifully plated it was!  The flavours made me long for our still-missing-in-action Spring weather, with the light fruity mousse a perfect compliment to the oh-so-smooth panna cotta, the added almond crunch of the amaretto bikkies giving it the perfect textural kick.  I must say this is one of the most delightful dishes I've tried this year!

The little shop is always packed when I've visited, but the staff have always been friendly and helpful.  A must visit when shopping at Camberwell Junction!

Prospect Espresso on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Eat. @ Patricia Coffee Brewers

493-495 LittleBourke St, Melbourne CBD 3000 ph (03) 9642 2237

I've said on more than one occassion that I am extremely envious of city office workers.  Not for the commute obviously, but looking forward to the variety of lunch time offerings would definitely make getting up in the morning to go to work a whole lot easier!  I have long heard about the great coffee at Patricia from all my city-worker friends, and I finally dropped in on a day when I was out and about by my self, no work, no kids!

Just as well I didn't bring Bubs, as Patricia is the cutest littlest coffee place, with stand up room only.  The staff's friendly, and seem to know their regular clientele well.  The hidden unmarked entrance off Little Bourke Street only gave aways its secret by the clusters of suited up workers waiting for their coffee outside.

Like quite a few  of the boutique coffee places around town (eg/ Market Lane Coffee), I can't get a mocha here.  I opted for a more exotic Costa Rican as a latte.  Rich and pretty, I can see why they have such a cult following.

I'd missed out on the  Lune croissants for the day, but this was made up by a wonderful canele from Gracious and Delicious.

You lucky CBD workers, I would so love THIS around the corner from my work (or house)! 

Patricia Coffee Brewers on Urbanspoon

Coffee stop - standing room only, no high chairs of course!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Eat. @ Home - Food

If you've been out and about eating and drinking, no doubt you would've come across Thankyou Water.  Did you know that is a social enterprise that exists for the sole purpose of funding aid projects in developing countries?  I was thrilled to receive a package recently to try out some of their goodies as they expand their repertoire with the introduction of the new Thankyou Food range.  

If you've ever read the blurb on the left side of this blog you'd know that Mini Me is a big fan of Callum Hann from Masterchef Season 2.  He went on to win Masterchef All Stars, become the Director of Sprout Cooking School, and has now gone on to develop the new range of Thankyou Food products which includes museli, nut bars and oats, all proudly "made with love" in Australia. 

We're lucky in Australia to have such an abundance of foods, in both quantity, quality and choice.   In contrast there are many in the world who don't even have enough to eat. Food gives us an opportunity to do a little bit to help change the world.  Every product you buy from their range has a unique tracking code, which you can enter in the web app found on to track the progress of the food project your purchase has funded. 

My family of taste-testers couldn't wait to get into the goodies.  The first thing we tried was the Jam-Packed Nut Bar with quinoa and chia seeds. Unbeknownst to me, Hubby had found the pack and started munching on one before I got a chance to take some pictures!  The bars are packed with superfoods you can actually see and are really tasty.  You'd never even know you're eating something that might be good for you!  

The other product we tried was the Apple and Apricot Clusters with pepitas and cinnamon.  Mini Me is an ultra slow breakfast eater and getting all the kids off to school in the morning on time is one of my biggest chores!  Having the kids eat their brekkie without nagging is a small victory.  The clusters have gone down really well this week and in fact today Mini Me had a bowl of this after school as a snack, which surely is a testament to its taste!  

Bubs photobombing, trying to get at the Clusters! Food fund short term food aid, as well as long-term sustainable food projects for someone in need.  Good for my health, good for my soul, I will definitely be trying the other flavours once they become available at my local supermarkets this month! 

Disclaimer : I received the food products in this post courtesy of and  AMPR Public Relations.  Opinions are my own.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Eat. @ Touchwood

480 Bridge Rd, Richmond 3121 ph (03) 9429 9347

My Bro-in-Law and Sis-in-Law are in town visiting from Overseas, and we've been out brunching Melbourne-style as often as we could manage in the last few weeks.  As their visit nears the end, much to the kids' distress, we took the opportunity to visit Touchwood on their second day of opening.  This is actually pretty cool, as we had no preconceptions of what to expect, being totally free from reviews and opinions.  Most of our cafe visits are usually well planned and researched, but the only things I'd known about Touchwood was that it's brand spanking new, serves 5 Senses coffee, and seats 110.  (The last fact being the clincher as it's the school holidays and we didn't fancy waiting to be squeezed into a little cafe with a party of 6 including 3 kids.)

What we found was a large, spacious cafe which was bright, minimalist but welcoming, with concrete floors and a liberal use of wood for furnishing.  The back opens up to a wood-decked courtyard where we were seated in a booth, perfect for our group, and extremely kid and pram friendly.

At a glance, the menu serves up interesting modern cafe fare with the usual all day breakfast suspects and lunch from 11:30am.  Dishes ranged from porridge, eggs, and fruit bread, to burgers, tacos and po'boys.  First thing first for me is of course a smooth, smooth mocha, of good Melbourne standard! ($3.8)

S-i-L had the impressive sounding (and looking) Tequila and citrus cured salmon, with poached eggs, smashed peas, dill, lemon creme fraiche, sauteed endives and sourdough toast ($17.5). She gave her approval and I think I will definitely have to try this on my next visit.

B-i-L had the Omelette, with caramelized shallots, roasted capsicums and buffalo mozarella and basil oil. ($16.5) and a side serve of cotechino sausage ($5).  He quite liked this, and I tried some of the sausage which was really flavour-full.

I ordered the Pulled Pork Tacos ($18.5) from the lunch menu.  This was really tasty, with the tender pork, contrasting with the crunchy mix of cabbage, fennel and coriander, and the winning addition of the sweet apple compote giving this taco an interesting twist.  I also liked that the ingredients were not overly watery even though the pulled pork was moist, which made it a relatively "neat" taco to eat!

Mini Me and Bubs had Scrambled eggs with toast and bacon ($10) from the "Little Peeps" section of the menu.  This was a pretty decently sized serve (we all shared!) and the scrambled eggs was lovely and creamy.

Last but not least Macaron Monster, my sweet-toothed child, ordered the Peanut butter and jelly whole meal waffle ($16) with poached raspberries, whipped peanut butter ricotta and peanut brittle, which of course went down a treat.   She generously shared some with us all and it was a delicious end to brunch.

A few little things like sharing the deck with smokers and an un-smiling (perhaps stressed?) wait staff common to many cafes were our only negatives.  Considering how new it is, Touchwood made a good impression on us and I have no doubt we will be back!

Touchwood on Urbanspoon

Toilets - Yes