Tag Archives: foodie
Some of you who know me, or follow me on social media may have been alerted to a little obsession of mine. And when I say alerted, I mean I’ve been somewhat forcing it down your throat since the summer.
This obsession, however, goes back a little way, probably to my Melbourne days when Schupp and I visited the Royal Croquet Club – a pop up garden party on the Yarra River which took place last summer. The Club is advertised as a social club, performance venue and sports venue. It takes place in the open air and has an interesting vibe with workers from the CBD, Hipsters and foodies all combined under the Melbourne summer sky. Different restaurants from around Melbourne take it in turns to run pop up kitchens at the Club.
One such pop up restaurant is responsible for my introduction to lobster rolls, Mr Claws. Now, looking at social media, it appears that Mr Claws are only running pop up events now, but happily, they seem to be doing them at some of my favourite places in Melbourne, including Huxtaburger. If you hear of them popping up anywhere near you, go along and have a try – a word of warning though – you’ll need a couple of them to fill you up!
The Royal Croquet Club returns to Melbourne on 10th December 2015 and will be there until 20th December 2015.
Fast forward to summer in London. I have been working for Thermomix in the commercial business unit, which happily involves selling Thermomix machines to restaurants around the UK. The name ‘Burger and Lobster’ kept cropping up, so we decided to go and visit and see what all of the fuss is about.
The basic concept of Burger & Lobster is that there are three items on the menu – a burger, a lobster or a lobster roll; each served with chips, a salad and a delicious buttery sauce all for £20. I’m not the sort of person who wants to work for my food, and I can’t eat beef so the lobster roll was the obvious choice and I certainly did not regret it. The brioche is incredible and the succulent lobster meat is dressed in chives and mayonnaise or something equally as delicious.
Smack Lobster is just down the road from the Soho Burger & Lobster, it’s actually a branch of the same company so you can get the same roll as from its sister restaurant for £10 less. The roll also comes in 5 different varieties, although the Classic is still my favourite. They also do a great lobster chowder which complements the meal perfectly. This is actually my favourite place for lobster rolls as the atmosphere is really chilled and if you go at the right time you can get a good seat and don’t have to queue to order.
In October 2015 I visited Singapore with my whole family for my cousin’s wedding. Unfortunately I was ill for what seemed like the whole week and much of the food available in the evenings was so greasy and full of oil that it turned my stomach. However, once I started to feel better I did some research online about places to find lobster rolls in Singapore and by process of elimination; I found the one closest to our hotel on Sentosa was at a place called The Cove, which was also on Sentosa. The Cove is a selection of restaurants around a beautiful marina which is apparently very popular with local ex-pats.
Quayside Fish Bar & Bistro was visited on a recommendation from ladyironchef.com. The lobster roll was good, but a little on the pricey side. The brioche was slightly dry and not as buttery as I would have liked and the herbs used in aioli that dresses the lobster didn’t have the classic lobster roll taste that I love. The truffle fries it came with though were delicious. However, at SD$49 (£25) it was pretty pricey.
We also tested out a place called Spathe Public House in Singapore which was the single most Hipster place I have ever been to (bearing in mind that I have been to Shoreditch). Their menu was incredibly quirky and did feature a twist on the lobster roll in the form of the Signature Black Bun Lobster Burger. It included a whole lobster tail, hash brown, avocado and braised tomatoes. It was incredibly difficult to eat and the bun was slightly dry but apart from that I enjoyed it and it was certainly different to anything I’ve had before. Add some cheese in there and it would have been a solid 9/10.
Worth checking out as well is Spathe’s Mammoth Signatures – the are pretty impressive ‘sharing platters’ they’re not really your usual sharing platters though – it’s incredibly imaginative. Their desserts are also cool but huge, so I would recommend sharing them.
Thus concludes my run down of my lobster roll experience. Why do I love them so much? The combination of brioche, mayonnaise, chives and succulent lobster meat is just mind blowing. I’ve also created my own take on lobster rolls, so watch out for that recipe which I hope to post in the next couple of weeks (I’ll never promise anything because my track record of uploading posts is fairly poor).
Let me know of any great lobster rolls you’ve had and I’ll be sure to check them out.
Experiencing Life | Creating Adventure
One of my favourite things to do in Melbourne is to go for breakfast. This is not only because it provides a great social aspect to start my day, but also due to the incredible standard of breakfast food in this city. There are Instagram accounts devoted to how good breakfast in Melbourne is; accounts which get hundreds of likes on each photo they post because the breakfast quite literally looks that good. I am becoming a breakfast-picture-blogger.
Avocado smash is something that is incredibly popular – or just avocados in general. It’s essentially just smashed up avocados with feta, and each Melbourne restaurant seems to have its own little twist on it. When I first arrived in Melbourne and was still living in Camberwell, Erin and I went to a sweet little café called Collective Espresso, and there I had my first introduction to Avocado smash. The café itself is, like all Melbourne cafes, giving off that ‘we don’t care, but really do’ rustic vibe. The flowers are kept in old jars, and the water is served to you in old Hendricks Gin bottles. I must say, the food was pretty good; well-presented and very tasty. The menu could cater a little better to vegetarians, and the food could have been served faster, but we were there at brunch time on a Sunday, so it made sense that it was slow. I’d rate them at a 7/10.
When I moved to Darling, we discovered a café called Little Chloe, about a stone’s throw away from my house, which I took Dayna and Stef to in order to cure our hangovers. It was back when we barely knew each other, but had spent the previous day day-drinking copious amounts of wine. Little Chloe’s provided the perfect hangover remedy. The menu caters for everyone, and you can request for extras to be added to or taken away from your food so that it’s exactly how you want it. By the looks of our food, we each made good choices. I picked the buttermilk pancake stack with lemon curd with passion fruit, pears and pumpkin seeds. I’m usually a fan of savoury breakfasts but this was a fantastic choice.
On my second visit to Little Chloe, I sampled the smoked salmon on potato rosti with mango and green tea chutney, smashed avocado, pomegranate and poached egg. This meal was so good that I had it on my third visit too. I would happily recommend anything from this menu and am only sad now to be moving away from Darling as I will no longer be able to visit the quaint little café without undertaking a 30 minute train journey. 9/10 for both food and atmosphere.
I was introduced to A Thousand Blessings Organic Café in Richmond by my new housemate, Lauren who took me there the morning after one of our late night work finishes. She said that I absolutely had to try ‘Love’s Feast’, which is Tasty Cheese on sour dough toast with avocado smash and poached eggs (see, I told you avocado smash was big in Melbourne!). The dish is also normally served with bacon, but as I can’t eat meat I opted for it without. I think the dish would probably be much better with the bacon as it seemed just a little bit bland without it.
The second time I went there, I had smoked salmon scrambled eggs with goats cheese on grain toast. This dish was pretty good and quite unusual as all of the ingredients (other than the bread) were scrambled together in a pan and then dumped artfully on the toast, sprinkled with the signature micro herbs. I can thoroughly recommend the fresh juices made on site, which can revitalise in the mornings or just refresh you on muggy Melbourne day. The café is always busy, which shows just how good it is, and the atmosphere is comfortable and friendly. 8/10 for food, 9/10 for service and atmosphere.
Another place Lauren has introduced me to is the Kettle Black, in South Melbourne. This was probably my favourite atmosphere out of all the places I’ve mentioned as it was light and airy, using lots of white and green in its décor with light brown wooden furniture and making great use of the huge windows, making the whole place full of light. The clean pallet with plants and herbs hanging off the walls and potted on shelves makes for a relaxing and calming environment in which to eat breakfast.
I ordered what is quite possibly the most beautiful dish on the menu; ricotta hotcake with blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, double cream, mixed seeds and micro-herbs. I thought there was a misprint on the menu when I read ‘hotcake’ singular; surely they must mean ‘hotcakes’. But no, this was a bowl filled with a delicious light and fluffy hotcake covered in colour and texture; a feast for the eyes. It was, in short, delicious and the presentation was beautiful. I accompanied it with a green juice which, cut through the sweetness of the berries beautifully. There is also the regular selection of coffees and pressed juices. The Kettle Black is a 10/10 and a must if you’re in Melbourne either permanently or just for a few days.
There are so many breakfast places in Melbourne that I am yet to discover, but I’m hoping I can fit some more in. In the meantime, I’m sure my Instagram feed will continue to be filled with images from these beautiful places and I can have food-envy until I am able to visit again. If you have any Melbourne breakfast spots you think I should visit, let me know in the comments below!
Experience Life | Create Adventure
I am pleased to report that I am feeling much more settled in Melbourne. I am even beginning to call my house here ‘home’ instead of just constantly referring to it as ‘the Darling House’. When I first moved in, I would spend whole days on my own in the house, not going out because of the weather, lack of things to do, lack of money or lack of people to do things with. I spent a great deal of time wallowing, and not doing much of anything else.
After a month in Australia, desperate the start doing something with my time along with earning some much-needed money, I signed up to a hospitality agency. The agency provides staff for different venues around the city to help out at sporting events, conventions and private parties. I was fairly shocked to receive a call from them, after submitting my CV, as I have absolutely no experience in hospitality. However, I was given the job on the spot and began working at events in the city centre almost straight away.
Through work, I have managed to start meeting new people, which has been a godsend because for a little while I was feeling very lonely and really wanted to cut my losses and head back to England (around the time of my last post). Working for an agency is great because you end up working with lots of like-minded people e.g. travellers looking for enough work to save money and then continue their travels. The people I work with are from all over the world and all have so many different stories; work is never boring because of this.
Meeting new people means I always have something different to do and new suggestions for places to try. Grabbing a knock off drink or something to eat is a great way to realise that your job is actually not that bad, even when your feet have been torn to shreds by your new shoes. We went out as a group to the local bar outside work and got to know each other better, enjoying spending time together away from work.
Through the combination of iPhone apps and advice from people I’ve met, I’ve tried out some fantastic places to eat and drink; notably Huxtaburger in the CBD, which sells arguably the best burgers in Melbourne. It is set up with a sort of American diner-feel, with a selection of burgers named after characters from ‘The Cosby Show’, including Bill, Sondra and Rudy. The tag-line is ‘Hot Beef. Cold Beer’, which describes the simplicity of the joint perfectly.
The reason I rate it? It’s so unusual to find such a good veggie burger in any restaurant which boasts about the best burgers in town on the menu. Huxtaburger has accomplished this hands down. Not only is there the perfect veggie burger on the menu ‘Sondra’, you can also opt to have the tofu pattie in any one of the burger options. With generous toppings smeared between a brioche bun, it’s like heaven in your mouth with every bite. Worth noting are the crinkle fries, which go perfectly with mustard and complement the burgers ingeniously. With three restaurants around the Melbourne area, I thoroughly recommend trying it out as soon as possible.
Having tried Siglo, may I also offer up another fantastic rooftop bar in the CBD, Campari House, on Hardware Lane. Stefani and I went to Campari for lunch and drinks on a brilliantly sunny, but windy, Monday afternoon. Anyone who has been to Hardware Lane in Melbourne knows that it hold an incredible array of restaurants from a baguette shop to an atmospheric Italian restaurant. Campari House boasts seating downstairs as well as upstairs, with slightly different menus in each area. We chose to climb the jailtime stairs with interestingly decorated walls to the rooftop bar, where we were rewarded for our efforts with a vast selection of wines, cocktails and beers along with a delicious gourmet pizza menu. We were also sheltered from the wind.
I would recommend Campari House as a great place to go for lunch during your working day or for drinks on any balmy evening. There are plenty of tables and an interesting prospect (though no view over the city), of the tall buildings around you, and the faint city noise below. We both opted for pizza – mine was eggplant (aubergine) with smoked mozzarella. The combination was stunning and I enjoyed every last bite, washed down with a glass of white wine – recommended to me by the barman.
We then stopped for macarons at La Belle Miette, just because we could.
My parents came to Australia in August which gave me a huge pick-me-up. I spent the weekend with them in Hervey Bay along with my uncle and my grandparents and it really helped me gain some perspective and help me realise that what I was doing was the right thing. I decided to move here, so I need to make it work. It is a comfort to know I have family a short plane journey away too (though Queensland is surprisingly far from Melbourne). I was never any good at keeping in touch with my parents when I lived in Ascot, but I’m really enjoying the contact since I’ve been here. Little reassurances go a long way.
I have now spoken to my housemates – eventually we all came out of our rooms and now spend quite a bit of time together. We are a quirky bunch, and all of us from somewhere different; I’m English, Luke is Australian, Simon is a New Zealander, Marcel is from the Czech Republic and Ronnie is from India. I don’t see Marcel and Ronnie much because they work all of the time but Simon and Luke are around quite a lot and each of them are interesting in their own way. Everyone looks out for me too, to makes sure I’m eating correctly and getting my life on track a bit more or even bringing me McDonald’s in bed after a heavy night. I’m very lucky to have them.
I have had plenty of time to think about what I’d like to do going forward, but things are still very much up in the air. Due to the nature of my lease, and my mental state at the moment, I think it unlikely that I will complete my reigional work in order to stay in Australia another year. I am, however, incredibly keen to see more of the country, so I hope to accomplish that over the next few months, but also find a job which fills more of my time.
I will continue posting photos and updates about my adventures, and would love to know if you are reading them. Please leave a comment to let me know what you’d like more of and perhaps suggestions of what I should do in and around Melbourne.
Experience Life | Create Adventure
I’ve mentioned before that moving abroad in the way that I have is something that was a very alien concept to me. I like to have routines and know exactly what is happening and when, I like to know that I have a job to go to and friends I can call upon to do things with when I want to. Another thing I really liked about my old life was having all of the equipment I needed in order to cook the meals I had become accustomed to.
As a traveller, generally you will not have the money, nor the inclination to eat out constantly. This paves the way for cooking in the home or hostel you are residing in, but that means that you have to extend your ‘make do’ attitude to the things you are making because of the limited kitchen equipment you will have at your disposal.
During my first week here, while I was staying with Erin, I made pizza. Now pizza is one of those things which I have refused to buy from the supermarket since I learned how to make bread. This is largely due to the fact that supermarket-bought pizzas not only have a lot of salt in them, but they are also quite sickly to the taste and very unhealthy. It’s much better to know what you are putting into your food, but also for the food you are eating to actually taste nice.
When I was fourteen, we made pizza from scratch in Food Tech at school. From then on I used to make pizza very frequently, putting my own toppings on and trying to make different types of crusts. I think my friends would say, it became a specialty of mine. When I was nineteen, I began working for Thermomix, and one of the first things I made in the Thermomix was the pizza, this included making the tomato sauce.
When I got to Australia, having been using a Thermomix for about 4 years, I felt a bit lost on the cooking front. I also found that the same things aren’t available here and shopping in Coles is different to shopping in Waitrose because everything is in a different place.
Eventually, I got together all of the right ingredients I needed, and took them home. I found the correct bowl and I kneaded all of the ingredients together by hand (which took about 12 minutes as opposed to the Thermomix’s 3). I then encountered my first real problem; the house was too cold for the yeast to work. Problem easily solved by covering the dough and putting it in the oven on a very low heat.
The next issue that I arrived at was that there was no rolling pin. No fear, as this time we’d already had half a bottle of wine (… each) and the empty bottle could be used as a rolling pin! Hooray, perfectly rolled pizza.
Obstacle number three was the lack of baking trays. Usually I would combat this by using baking paper to cook the pizza on with the oven rack serving as a skeleton for the paper. We didn’t have any baking paper so I ended up using heavily floured casserole dishes, of varying size, for each pizza. I then decorated as accordingly.
One thing I will say is that cheese is much more expensive over here, and isn’t as good. The mozzarella here is not sold in water as it is in the UK – it’s vacuum packed and isn’t made up in the same way so doesn’t shred as well.
The pizza was pretty damn fine, even if I do say so myself. Maybe I’ll put the recipe up for you sometime…
Another recipe I would usually do in the Thermomix is nacho cheese sauce (for nachos) because I like to make it with very fine pieces of onion, jalapeño and tomato. The base of the sauces is a white sauce, which requires constant stirring and whisking to make sure it’s a smooth as possible. It needs to have all of the flour completely incorporated so that you can’t taste it, so I would cook it for around 10 minutes in the Thermomix; on the hob it took about half an hour.
One thing I will say I love about Coles, or Australian supermarkets in general, is the vegetable and fruit section because the avocados (well, produce in general) in Australia are amazing; they are always ripe so if you want to make something with an avocado, you don’t have to preempt yourself by a week in order for it to be ripe in time. I bought the avocados and on the same day, I made an amazing, vividly green, guacamole which I can’t remember having ever made from scratch before. So, at the end of the day, I suppose it’s all about adaption.