Friday, April 17, 2015

Wilo Pizza

Disclosure: I was invited to dine as a guest of Wilo Pizza

When Brad and I first started dating, pizza was a fortnightly occurrence for us, with regular deliveries from Crust to our door. 

However, as we’ve gotten older, pizza’s come up less in our monthly diet (for a whole range of reasons), so when we do go treat ourselves with some, it’s completely and utterly savoured. 

Especially on this particular night; as I stepped off the train at East Richmond station (I managed to find a train that goes there, amazing!) I realised that I hadn’t really eaten all day, so I was cold, shaking and light headed. My fingernails were turning blue!


Sustenance was needed fast, and fortunately, it was found at Wilo Pizza. 

Opened by brother duo, Ollie and Will, the brightly lit, bright green space is takeaway focussed, with only a couple of counter seats inside the shop, and a couple of outdoor seats. But this doesn’t mean they’ve skimped out on the menu at all. From standard classics, Hawaiian’s and margarita’s, to some pretty crazy meat and seafood combinations, chilli chicken, spiced lamb or maybe some prawn and chorizo? 

I also loved that the regular size pizza is a 10 inches, meaning it’s a perfect sized dinner for one, and a little softer on the wallet, the regular sized standard flavours just $10, and the regular sized meat and seafood options ranging from $13 to $14. 

But what also caught my eye? The sides. Does one get the beef short ribs with sweet tamarind sauce? Or the hot and salty chicken wings? 


After some discussion with Ollie, our meal for the night consisted of a mushroom pizza with creme fraiche, seasonal mushrooms, mixed herbs, truffle oil and fresh mozzarella, a pork belly pizza with chipotle sauce, onion, coriander, salsa picada, tangy mayo, fresh chilli, scratching and fresh mozzarella, as well as a serve of the chicken wings and corn cobs with tangy mayo and pecorino.

Phew. 

Brad said we weren’t going to get through it all.

I told him to watch me. 

And we promptly devoured it all.


The chicken wings were 6 golden and surprisingly meaty pieces of chicken, a lot bigger than I had expected (and such a steal for $7!). These were seasoned well, with a touch of heat, and  were delightfully moreish. If I wasn’t so hungry, these alone would be a pretty damn decent meal. 

The corn cobs were sweet, juicy and generous with the mayo which I’m always okay with. 


For our pizzas, we got one with a gluten free base, and one with a regular base to compare, and both were great, the gluten free base in particular had a super crunchy crust, which I couldn’t get enough of. I liked that it was also sturdy enough to take all the toppings and not get soggy too. 



Both of the pizzas came well dressed, with just a nice balance of enough flavour without being over done (although I could’ve gone for a couple more mushrooms on the mushroom pizza I reckon). 



The pork belly pizza was my favourite of the two that evening, with the pork belly sliced to thin slivers. I particularly loved the addition of chilli, so bright, so fun, so tasty!

I also felt after eating the pizzas that I didn’t feel heavy, they weren’t very oily and all the toppings looked bright and fresh. All good things. 


As winter comes a-knocking, I probably won’t be visiting Wilo Pizza so much in person, but their number is already in my phone, for that once a month pizza session Brad and I still do…

440 Church Street
Richmond 3121

Wilo Pizza on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Little Collins Street Kitchen - A Parisian Affair Afternoon Tea

The new Sheraton in Melbourne might not be where you expect it, neatly tucked away up the Spring street end of Little Collins Street, wedged in nearby Bar Lourinha and opposite a carpark. Although it sounds a bit random, they’ve done a great job with the space. 

My family discovered the joys of the Sheraton’s weekend buffets at Little Collins Street Kitchen, and the endless Alaskan king crab legs that we devour with fervour, but more recently, I visited with Daisy to check out the high tea, which I knew we had to do once I learnt La Belle Miette were providing some of the macarons …so sign me up!


Little Collins Street Kitchen is a homely, but bright and welcoming space, with chairs that encourage you to kick back, settle in and lounge around a bit and a lovely clean and light palette. 



All in all? A really lovely afternoon, where we kicked around for 2 or 3 hours, starting with some lovely aromatic tea from LMDT (prettiest tea tins ever) and the usual three tier stand of goodies. Whilst the scones were nice, but not amazing, the savouries were a delight. A savoury eclair with foie gras and fig jam simply ticked off every single box I needed in life, whilst the pissalidiere of caramelised onions, cherry tomato and thyme brought me a touch of Italy in the flavours. The savouries also included a chicken roulade with herb goats cheese on walnut fruit loaf and fresh poached prawns on brioche, with cucumber ribbon and Avruga. 

As expected, the La Belle Miette macarons could not be faulted, with perfect little feet, and one of the most uniform macarons shells I’ve seen in my life. Great texture, and totally delicious, with surprising flavours hidden right in the middle. 

If you haven’t had quite enough, once you’ve worked you way through the three tiers, a fresh plate of cakes are brought out to you, which are just so pretty, so delicate! 



Surprisingly, I loved the orange madeleine with a citrus curd, light and refreshingly zingy. The Poire Belle Helene, Escoffier’s classic 1864 recipe of poached pears in an aromatic sugar syrup, served with chocolate syrup and almonds and served in a chocolate cup, was also a nice dish as it wasn’t too heavy or sweet. I was all about the cocoa bean brûlée mille feuille, so insanely moreish, and the raspberry and rosewater mousse was also a nice choice as it wasn’t so heavy, and a little more refreshing. The rosewater was not too strong, and the texture was just beautiful, melting onto the mouth. 



It wasn’t busy the weekend we were there, meaning we could really get into a good conversation fest, and enjoy each other’s company. Fo $45 a head, I felt that the Parisian afternoon tea was great value, and well thought out so that you don’t feel overly rotund by the time you leave…

1/27 Little Collins Street
Melbourne 3000

Little Collins St Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 13, 2015

Bistro Bakini: Masters of the Mediterranean Preview Dinner

Disclosure: I was invited to dine as a guest of Bistro Bakini

Do you guys find yourself thinking about your weekend plans…on a Monday? I do. All the time. As a fervent scheduler, I love putting things into my calendar to look forward to throughout the week, and of course on the weekend. 


So although I have plans this weekend already, if you’re still looking for options for Saturday night, why not consider the Masters of the Mediterranean degustation at Bistro Bakini? 


An eight course degustation designed by Bistro Bakini’s executive chef, Luigi Buono and Executive Chef from ‘Out of Africa’ in Sydney, Hassan M’Souli, sees Italian food and Moroccan food coming together in one of the most unique fusions I’ve seen recently. 


A quick chat to chef Luigi on how he would describe the menu, and I like his description of Italian techniques, with a lot of the rich Moroccan flavours. 


For example, our first course at the preview for the dinner, a king salmon carpaccio, served with a preserved lemon harissa emulsion, is a relatively innocent looking dish, but unexpectedly punchy and vibrant in flavour. No gentle palate awakening here! The emulsion on this was absolutely everything, strong citrus and zingy, with the heat of the harissa coming up as well. 


The grilled kefta on a bed of cucumber spaghetti drizzled with red capsicum puree, and a couple of extra grapes for good measure, was nicely balanced. The kefta was rich and herbaceous, the cucumber strips and capsicum puree were cool and refreshing. I loved how sweet the capsicum puree was, more like a broth than a puree really. 


Although the crispy quail breast of the next dish, with parmesan risotto and res el hanout jus, was simply stellar, tender and juicy, although maybe not super crispy as advertised, I simply loved the parmesan risotto it was served with. Subtly cheesy, beautifully al dente, Luigi certainly worked his magic here!


Our last savoury of the night, the slow cooked Moroccan lamb shank served with spiced baby figs and farro was all comfort. The lamb just fell apart beautifully and had a lovely rich complex flavour, lots of spices and herbs. The spiced baby figs were just lush and lovely.



Usually dessert doesn’t get me super excited unless it’s rich and chocolate related. However, the coast milk yoghurt panna cotta in a hibiscus stop topped with rose gelee was just the most delightful thing. The panna cotta was just barely set, with a slippery and velvety texture that just melted and dissipated in the mouth. Heavenly. 

Although fusion at the moment is very often Asian with Western cuisine, this unusual fusion of Moroccan and Italian was certainly working a treat for me, and I don’t think I can even begin to imagine what the remaining dishes of the degustation would be like. But it’s for one night only…

Masters of the Mediterranean Degustation Dinner
Saturday April 18th, 7pm 
$95 per person, $145 with matched wines 
Call Marcello at Bistro Bakinin on (03) 9521 7774 or email manager@bistrobakini.com.au 


Hassan M’Souli will also be holding a cooking class and lunch on the same day at 11am. $150 per person. 

568 St Kilda Road
Melbourne 3000

Bistro Bakini on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Independent

Gembrook.

What’s that you ask? 

It’s actually a town in Victoria. About an hour away from Melbourne. I assume most of you aren’t familiar with it, but since Brad’s family moved out that way mid last year, I’ve come to know the area relatively well, and as I’ve mentioned in Instagram snaps before, it’s absolutely lovely escaping out to the (semi) countryside every now and again.

Really good restaurants near his parent’s house though, are a little less frequent than in the heart of Melbourne. I’ve become quite fond of the General Store in Emerald for breakfast, and the Yarra Valley isn’t far for a lunch trip. But dinner? Where to go?


Well, we’re actually super lucky, because the Independent is literally a 3 minute drive from Brad’s parents house. And it’s a gem. I can’t believe how long it took me to drag Brad there with me!



Step in, and suddenly, you don’t feel like you’re an hour out of town. You could be in Fitzroy, or Northcote, but with much higher ceilings. The space feels like a lofty warehouse, slicked up with simple and clean decor, but with a personal touch; blackboard specials, friendly staff and a very low key and relaxed atmosphere. 


When we arrived, I realised Brad and I hadn’t done a dinner date night for a while, and the Independent was really the most perfect spot to break the date night drought. 



A pint of The Independent’s own lager for Brad (that’s actually brewed by Coopers) and a glass of Argentinian red for me, which was young and vibrant, a little brash, but still very delicious. 


The menu looks at the best of the local ingredients season to season, and incorporating those with chef Mauro Callegari’s Argentinian heritage. The menu reads very much like your typical tapas menu, with a couple of smaller dishes to pick through, bigger sharing dishes, vegetables and desserts. 

Although there’s a $55 Chef’s Menu, which Brad’s parents have done and is an absolute feast…I couldn’t resist piecing together a menu for ourselves instead, so went entirely ala carte. As per usual really!



The first thing on my agenda? The morcilla of course! Crumbed, fried and served on a chickpea puree with tomato and chilli, these started the night on a very, very good note. The black pudding itself wasn’t very fatty, or strong in iron flavour, instead, there was a lovely heat and richness in flavour. 


The carrots come smoked with maple syrup, making them slightly sticky and sweet, with chilli and peanuts over the top. Yum. Tender, but not soft, the maple syrup really brings out the sweetness, but without it coming across sugary, with the lovely warm and earth smokiness coming through. Could have eaten these forever. 


The Provoleta (provolone) - baked cheese and chimichurri, was different to what I expected, almost like snails with herb and butter sauce…just without the snails and a lot more cheese (which I’m totally not complaining about)! This came hot, bubbling away; the chimichurri was lovely and rich with lots and lots of garlic. Good times.



Brad requested we get potatoes, and I’m glad he did. They were deliriously delicious, golden roasted potato gems which were so incredibly crunchy. With dollops of onion puree, garlic and thyme, this was a comforting dish, that was surprisingly elegant. 



For a bigger dish, we opted for the Pollo, aka chicken, with sweet corn off the cob and as puree, and palm heart. The chicken was deep fried, with a lovely crunchy crust and tender meat, the richness partnering well with the sweetness of the corn. I also loved how vibrant the dish was, such a lovely mix of colours! 

After letting the smorgasbord of food settle, I had to try some dessert, since I had seen plates pass our table through the night and been successfully tempted. 

I opted for the chocolate trifle, and man. What a dessert.


Served deconstructed, the trifle is an enormous plate of sweetness. I’m so glad we only got one between two, because this could have easily fed three people very comfortable. Since I’m a glut, and a sweet tooth though, I smashed through most of it anyway. 

Chocolate soil, berries, caramel, chocolate sauce, brownie chunks, honeycomb and light meringue pieces on the top. So much tastiness, and it was quite rich. I would almost say it was like a black forest cake, without the cake shape! 

By the end of the night, I was definitely not looking forward to standing up, positively rotund with a full and happy belly. Best of all, the bill was an amazingly reasonable $110. For all that food. 

So although it’s a bit of a hike for the average Melbournian, the Independent is definitely worth a visit if you’re remotely near the area. Although we went for dinner, I think this would be a lovely spot for lunch as well, lofty and bright, and it even has a lovely backyard area with space for the kids to play, with a bit of a herb and veggie garden going on as well. 


I for one, am certainly looking forward to many more visits…seeing that Brad does only live 3 minutes away.  

79 Main Street
Gembrook 3783

The Independent on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Entrecôte

Although I’m very fortunate that Brad is a relatively adventurous and open minded eater, he can also be a very simple creature.


As we departed from a dinner at Entrecôte with Rob and Glenn, he pondered why would you go to Entrecôte for a $40 steak, when you could get steak at a pub for a whole lot less?

Oh silly boy, it’s because at Entrecôte you get exceptional quality meat, and on top of that, a darling Parisian experience.


The expectation is set the second you set eyes on it from across the road, in a beautiful Victorian style building, I gush over the adorable astroturf terrace set up out front (very European, tres chic) and the simple elegance of the bar area that I opt to sit in. The dining room was a little dark for me at 5:30pm in the afternoon. I also gush over the aloof but very cute waiters wandering around (but don’t tell Brad that). 


5:30pm may seem early for dinner, but that’s because you must get in for happy hour, from 4pm to 6pm daily, for $2 oysters and French onion gougeres, $12 champagne and $7 glasses of wine. 



The oysters are beautiful, cool to the touch, briny and sweet, and served with lemon and mignonette sauce, but I love mine natural. 



The gougeres though had me completely enraptured, the choux pastry the size of a small fist, and surprisingly heavy to lift up, as it’s completely stuffed with caramelised onions and oozy amounts of cheese. Amazing. 

Should have ordered two!


I love that Entrecôte keeps things simple with the menu, with only one main on offer, the steak frites, Grilled Hopkins River steak, with frites and sauce au beurre here de la maison, as well as a salad of soft leaves, radish, walnuts and a dijon vinaigrette. Why not do one thing, but do it well after all?


I request my steak medium rare, and it comes out perfectly blushing, and is sumptuously tender and juicy. I don’t go out for steak that often, but Entrecôte is definitely worth it. What really got my attention though, was the herb sauce that is lavishly poured over, so rich and aromatic…although the fries and salad are unlimited, what I really wanted was unlimited sauce!



The fries are crisp, and generously salted, as they should be, and the salad makes for a nice bit of relief from the overall richness. 

Although the fries are unlimited, honestly, by the time you finish the steak and the first lot of fries on your plate…I don’t really think you can fit in that much more potato! But feel free to prove me wrong…

Whilst choosing mains is a pretty easy affair, the desserts make it a little harder…fortunately with four of us present, it meant we could sample a healthy cross selection!


Whilst the profiteroles filled with vanilla ice-cream and topped with hot chocolate sauce promised many good things and looked a treat, we found that it was good, but not mind-blowingly so. I however did very much love the chocolate, which was dark and rich, the quality absolutely coming through.




The creme brûlée was perfect, cracking perfectly on top, to reveal a smooth, surprisingly light, but rich in vanilla custard. 


However, my surprise favourite dessert for the evening was the lemon tart with creme fraiche. Although I like a lemon tart, it’s not usually my go to dessert, but this particular night, I was completely won over by the zingy citrus flavours and again light texture, that just melted into the mouth. And that pastry? So short, no concerns about breaking the plate trying to get through the crust at the bottom here!

Although the desserts are beautiful, they are priced on the slightly high end, but for the creme brûlée and lemon tart, the quality completely comes through and are worth every dollar. I’ve also heard the chocolate mouse is very good, but my request was vetoed by the boys. Hmph!

Overall, I very much enjoyed my meal at Entrecôte. It wouldn’t be a regular for me, as mentioned earlier, I don’t really go out for steaks that often, but for a treat every now and again? Definitely. In fact, I would happily visit regularly at 5pm, gobble down oysters, fill up on gougeres and finish up with a lemon tart…that’ll totally count as dinner won’t it? 

131-133 Domain Road
South Yarra


Entrecôte on Urbanspoon