Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Penny Drop

Having now worked in a design studio that does branding and interior for a couple of years, I have learnt to seriously appreciate the amount of work, money and effort that goes into making a spectacular looking hospitality space. It ain’t easy, and as Melbournian’s continue to develop more and more of a taste of marble minimalism, it’s tough to keep up.

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The Penny Drop in Box Hill is unexpected for it’s location, or maybe it’s not really, with the suburb dry of any serious cafe offering. 

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I’m immediately taken with the space, lots of curved lines, rose gold and copper offset against light timber, dark banquettes and marble table tops. And those floor to ceiling windows just soaking in all that natural light? Beautiful.

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But beyond the looks, The Penny Drop’s doing some fantastic food. 

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I was so excited to visit here after coming back from Tokyo (back in May *cough*slackslackslack*cough*), as it was the first menu I had read in a while where I actually wanted to order all of the things. Where it was familiar, but with exciting tweaks and additions. 

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True to the area, there’s definitely an Asian flair to the menu, with pork bely ssam rolls with kimchi mayo, dried peach, goji and cashew granola and tea smoked salmon with son-in-law eggs. 

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This blustery morning, after a very satisfying chai, that was perhaps not so spicy but had a nice steeped tea flavour (you’d be surprised, they don’t always), I opted for the wild mushrooms with crispy polenta, kale, poached eggs and salted ricotta. Pray tell if there’s much of a better combination. The description is exactly what you got, with gorgeously crispy polenta, and crispy kale too. I think the salted ricotta really elevated the dish, giving it a bit of punch but also richness. 

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As much as I loved my dish though, I was definitely immediately jealous of Brad’s once I had a mouthful. Potato and garlic chive waffle with poached eggs, ham, hollandaise and wakame seaweed. Oh my yum. I am okay with savoury waffles becoming a thing, I loved the crisp crust of the waffle, and the fluffiness inside. Although just a small addition, the seaweed really complimented the hollandaise so well, the acidity balancing out the richness of the hollandaise really well - which is an observation that Brad made first and really liked, and he’s not usually one to talk much about the food (that’s my job). 

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Man, I was so surprised there wasn’t a long wait to get in here in the morning. I suppose having 100 seats helps, and maybe things are a little different a couple months on, but I really enjoyed the attentive service, beautiful interiors and delicious food. I’ve seen that fried chicken on the Instagram and am dying to come back for dinner sometime!

913 Whitehorse Road
Box Hill 3128

The Penny Drop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Monday, July 18, 2016

7 Hour Hong Kong Layover

Some people hate connecting flights and layovers. I on the other hand, plan for them.

Especially if they’re 7 hours long.

And in Hong Kong.

Can someone say eating frenzy?

After a whirlwind trip to Hoi An in late May, my flight from Hoi An to Hong Kong landed at 1pm in the afternoon, and my flight back to Melbourne was to depart at 7:30pm. 

I was excited, and very hungry. 

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Off the plane I got in a jiffy, and onto the bus - which is actually a fabulous option if you have a bit of time instead of taking the Hong Kong train express. It’s a third of the price and has some stunning views of Hong Kong as you’re driving in over bridges. 

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By the time I got into Hong Kong itself, I hadn’t eaten in about 5 hours and blood sugar levels were getting dire. I quickly got my butt into Yung Kee Restaurant for one one of the classic Hong Kong things to eat. Roast goose.

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Don’t be put off by how shiny and clean Yung Kee is, sure, it’s super palatable for the tourist (so it’s great and easy when you’re travelling alone - and nicely air-conned when it’s summer out), but there’s still locals in here at odd hours at the communal ‘single diners’ table, tucking into all the meaty goodness. It’s still legit.

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Also don’t get confused like me and think that your only goose options are the big serves for 4 people; the individual meal sizes are at the back!

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Yang Kee’s charcoal roasted goose smells like heaven when it’s popped down in front of you. The first couple of pieces of skin on top, just shatter in the mouth, they’re just so crisp, hiding the juicy and tender meat underneath. A meal comes with a bit of greens and rice; and I love myself a bit of hot barley water to keep the body warm. 

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When I wander around Hong Kong, I’ve always loved how layered and textured the city feels. Dense, with people and activity. 

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Despite the heat, I made sure to pop into Tai Cheong Bakery for the best egg tarts ever. I’ve talked about them before, and they’re big in the hand, warm, soft and absolutely delectable. Nothing like it back home in Melbourne. 

But the main highlight that I was keen to hit up in this brief Hong Kong adventure? 

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Oddies Foodies. 

After all, what kind of self proclaimed sweet tooth would I be otherwise? 

Despite the allure of all sorts of wonderful artisan gelato flavours, I had to go for what these guys famous; the crazy egg waffle…sundaes? Is that what you can call it? 

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When I visited they had two flavours, a new matcha concoction and their classic Night Wolf, and despite my love of matcha, I had to go with what made them famous.

Italian low fat twist soft gelato with butter crumbs, scoop of gelato of the day, passionfruit panna cotta, brownie chocolate chip eggettes and crunchy flakes. Wow. Looks totally crazy, but I was surprised how balanced and thought out the combo was. It wasn’t as rich as I expected and much lighter than I expected, which meant I demolished all of it.

When I ordered, I hadn’t read the description properly, and was absolutely delighted that the eggettes weren’t just plain waffles, but actually laced with chocolate chip throughout, meaning you had gooey chocolate filling in the cavities. The passionfruit panna cotta was a lovely burst of freshness amongst the chocolate and kept the dessert from being too sweet. 

Overall? Totally worth it. 

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All too soon, after darting in and out of shops to satiate the shopaholic in me, it was time to head back, and back on the bus I got to head to the airport, and back home to Melbourne. But seriously, best way to spend a layover, ever! 

Wellington St, 32-40號
Yung Kee Building, Hong Kong

35 Lydhurst Terrace, Central
Hong KongChina

45 Gough Street
Central, Hong Kong

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Cafe Carpenter

If Melbourne suddenly exploded with cute little Japanese run cafes and eateries that all only fit around 20 people? I’d totally be okay with that. 

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A month or two ago I had a period where I was completely over brunch. The last thing I wanted to lay my eyes on were eggs, smashed avocados and hollandaise sauce. I mean really, I still don’t, the latter aren’t my usual brunch items of choice, but you get what I mean. 

Fortunately Cafe Carpenter came to the rescue. Located in Malvern East, not far from Chadstone Shopping Centre, it’s on the most nondescript little strip of shops but is one of the most gorgeous little spaces I have wandered into. 

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Warm and homely, the space simply speaks of Japanese aesthetic and adorable quirkiness, with bric-a-brac, light woods, and plenty of material surfaces. And they were playing The Theory of Everything soundtrack (which is one of my favourite move OST’s ever); it was pretty much home. 

The menu is a mix of homely Japanese favourites, a bit of Korean thrown in and a couple of fusion-y twists. You can simply get poached egg with soy sauce, steamed rice, miso soup and pickles, or you can get a Korean street burger. 

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But first! Coffee’s are gorgeous and rich and matcha latte had a nice matcha flavour, although it could’ve been stronger, but was lovely and creamy. And how cute is all the Japanese style crockery? 

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One of Brad and my favourite Japanese eats to share are okonomiyaki, a Japanese savoury pancake. At Cafe Carpenter it’s served with a special bbq sauce, Japanese mayo and shaved bonito and is lovely and fluffy, full of flavour, massively piping hot and so comforting. 

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Japanese curry is also one of my favourite Japanese comfort foods, and for ‘brunch’ we had it with chicken katsu. I would’ve liked the katsu to be a bit crisper, but the flavour of the curry was just lovely and homely. 

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A small serve of takoyaki, with bonito flakes on top is good value, at $5 for the little plate, especially with all the shaved bonito on top which really boosted the flavour of the ocean. Generous chunks of squid and little crunchy garnishes on top - I wasn’t entirely sure what they were, but I liked it!

As much as I love these little Japanese cafes, my only issue is that they’re never ever close enough to me; I loved my chilled out morning at Cafe Carpenter, and being able to have something a little different to the usual for brunch!

Cafe Carpenter
742 Waverly Road
Malvern East 3145

Cafe Carpenter Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Pidapipo - Windsor

Y’all know I love gelato. 

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Y’all also probably know by now that I’m also quite fond of Pidapipo’s gelati’s, particularly their pistachio and now fortunately, their gelato is even easier to find with the Windsor store that opened a couple of months ago now. 

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Sure, we already know her gelato is great; but the more important thing to note here is that founder Lisa Valmorbida has made sure she’s got a much bigger kitchen at this second site, highlighted by neon green ‘LABARATORIO’. 

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Here she and her gelato chefs (what a great title) get to explore and expand their flavour range and also make a lot of components in house, such as biscuits, crumbles and much more.

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But even more exciting than that, is the introduction of her ‘Gelato Cakes’ which are exactly what they sound like. I had the great pleasure to be in the kitchen back in April as she gave us a demo of how her Raspberry and Rose Bombe Alaska was made. 

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A bit of soft Italian meringue, with zesty raspberry and just a gentle floral touch of rose and it all comes together as absolute deliciousness. It’s only recently been made available to order by phone, email or just by dong it the old fashioned way and walking on into store.

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I’ve been meaning to go back and order the Pumpkin Pie and Banoffee Pie one of these days…even if it is winter; when did a bit of cold stop anyone from eating gelato? 

85 Chapel Street
Windsor 3181

Pidapipo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato