Saturday, July 31, 2010

Movida & Melbourne go hand in hand. Movida Next Door, Melbourne CBD

"If our flight arrives at 9.10 - do you think we will make it on time?"
As we ran through the tarmac, and collected our bags hurriedly - Demos and I had one thing on our minds.. our impossible 9.30 booking at Movida. This was the last booking for this Friday night and we were on a mission! Unfortunately; after hailing a cab; checking into our hotel - and possibly a quick outfit change it was well past the 10:00 mark.
I wasn't totally devastated about running late. When I called to make our booking the host told me that if we did arrive late, and missed our table we could just scoot on over next door. Literally, its Movida Next Door and no, its not the award winning restaurant's evil stepsister. It was our lucky night, as there were two free spots at the window bar looking out to the bright lights of Flinders Street.
We kicked off our night and toasted to the weekend ahead with 
a glass of Tinto (Red Wine) for me Rojo Gaenacha Valdepanas $10 and a glass of Jerez (Sherry) Romanto Amontillado $11 for Demos.
Let the tapas-ing begin!

The first plate to arrive was our order of Croqueta's $3.50 each - Filled with Mahon Cheese and Jamon Serrano crumbed and fried to perfection. Patience is a virtue kids, don't go throwing these hot pockets of melted cheese and ham straight into your mouth or you will end up like yours truly - Ms. I burnt the roof of my mouth. Oh but it was worth it.

Not long after came the Gamba a la Plancha con refrito $3.00 each. Two flat grilled prawns covered in galic and chilli goodness. I like the word "Gamba" - it sounds like a workout you do with maraca's.
I think the reason they give this dish such an exciting name is because these prawns make you want to get up on your chair and yell out "Gambaaa!" with or without maraca's.

G"Talk to me about the Quail Demos, how did it make you feel?" 
D"You ate all of it.. You only left me a sliver, and I had the shits. Selfish....."
Ah yes the quail, looking and smelling ever so wonderful, how could I contemplate having him eat the greater part. So I beat him to it. The Cordoniz $18.00 was stuffed with Jamon with a Pine Nut Agridulce sauce. A sweet and sour sauce, so good that all I can say is that it tasted like Spanish Christmas. Demos has often noted that everything that tastes good is like Christmas to me fyi. Feliz Navidad then. 

Before the last of the quail was dealt with, out came the Cerdo $16.00. Confit Pork Belly with Quince and Preserved Peppers. Wow. Straight away I could tell  that this was like all my Birthday's had come at once. The pork tasted divine and the skin was cooked to that crispy perfection that I just can't get enough of. Crackling with a capital C, balanced with a soft and stringy - almost fluffy melt in your mouth meat. It's as though they had left the pork to soak over night in salt water and it was so tasty! Demos didn't give me a chance to eat the peppers. It was the payback for the quail. But judging the speed at which he took them down I'd say that they were equally amazing, such a pretty colour too.

Just to supplement what was already eaten we ordered the Adobo de Pollo $7.00 each. A paprika seasoned chicken skewer grilled on charcoal. It was a moment of gluttony. But hey, its 100 times better than the chicken skewer you get from the kebab shop on the way home after too big a night.

After having such a good run we thought it would be fitting to top it off with a dessert. Churos with a chocolate dipping/pudding sauce. I can't get enough of it wherever I am. Sorry. But I digress, it was very good. Tasty dough fried to perfection, covered in cinnamon sugar. The chocolate was more of the milk variety and I much prefer the dark traditional spanish chocolate - thick like mud. 

Movida Next door was a great start to what would be an awesome weekend. It was a fun and lively atmosphere and we stayed there until quite late. If we arrived earlier I think it would have been a battle to get a table as there is a no booking policy. A week on and we are still dreaming of another serve of the pork. If you cant get a booking at the main Movida restaurant - don't overlook this place. The menu and quality of meals is brilliant and the experience was not a consolation prize. 

Movida Next Door - Next Door to 1 Hosier Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000 (03) 9663 3038

View Larger Map

MoVida Next Door on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 23, 2010

Off to Melbourne we go..

This Melbourne weekend away is long overdue! We were supposed to have this spontaneous getaway back in March - There was a virgin blue sale, and I needed something to look forward to after having an amazing new year's break in the USA. Initially, we had to postpone it because I had to travel to Amsterdam for Work. We then had to swap the dates 3 times after the first change - everything was just clashing!

Melbourne is one of my favourite cities for just about everything. This weekend we are all set, and (mostly) booked. There is a long list of new places we want to visit - but so far we're planned to visit Movida, Hellenic Republic and MoMo (knowing us - this will change.) - as well as old favourites such as Cafe e Cucina, Brunetti's and anywhere in Degraves St. Add to the list several awesome bars, this will be fun. How do we achieve this in 2 nights and 2 1/4 days? With empty stomachs, caffeine and very minimal sleep.

Here are some of my favourite photos from our last trip together - taken last Easter long weekend (2009) :

Liquor in the morninng at Fringe Bar, St Kilda

Breakfast at Brunetti's

The Melbourne Supper Club, Spring St

Sangria at some rooftop bar near the Queen Vic Markets

The lethal Manhattan at Berlin Bar

Our favorite italiano - ever. Cafe e Cucina, Chapel St, South Yarra

My happy place - The Cheese Room on Bridge Rd, Richmond

And of course -  a 4/5am run to the 24hour McDonalds on Collins St. 

See you in a few hours Melbourne..Gianna needs some new pretty shoes!

The Good Food and Wine Show 2010, Sydney Convention Center

Im not going to lie, I was a bit apprehensive about going to this event. Okay, it was indeed a cold sunday morning, and I may or may not have had too many saturday vino's - but for the love of food we did it. My heart was set on seeing George Calombaris with Gary Mehigan at the "Celebrity" Chef Theatre but unfortunately the chef demonstrations were sold out via ticketek. We crossed our fingers decided to chance it and see if we could get tickets at the door.
We arrived at 10.30 and speed walk straight to the "Celebrity Chef Theatre" trying our best to not look like over-excited hungry crazy people.  It was my lucky Sunday, and we got seats to the demonstration that was about to start. George and Gary were so entertaining to watch - lots of banter, a few gags here and there - but they were having lots of fun on stage and the food they cooked looked delish! Now i'm not a huge masterchef groupie, but how can you not love George? He's officially now the other Greek man in my life!
By the end of the hour long demonstration - my tummy was grumbling as always after skipping brekky to get there on time. I needed sustenance to get through all the exhibitions - stat. Was it too early for vino? Of course not!
A "restaurant" is set up for the day - with signature dishes from some of Australia's favourite chefs - George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan, Pete Evans and Tobie Puttock. The way the restaurant worked was by purchasing tokens - entree's were priced at $16.00, mains at $24.00 and desserts for $8.00. Each entree and main came with a glass of wine or beer.
Armed with our $72.00 worth tokens - it was decision time!
Our first main meal was the Bastilla of minced lamb with olives and pine nuts This was served with a glass of Hardys Oomoo Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon.
The dish is like a giant lebanese kebbe but instead of the chick pea crunchy crust  - it was a soft warm and very buttery pastry - mixed with labne I had found my kryptonite and I was not sharing! 

Demos told me that the Braised chicken and celery fricasse tasted like the traditional greek food that he ate as a little Demos. The chicken melted in your mouth and the broth was just so tasty! How i wish George could send me a serving of this the next time I am sick - there was something so comforting about this dish. I sure hope Yia Yia can recreate this for me! This dish was served with Hardys Oomoo Adelaide Hills Chardonnay. Both mains were $24.00

Our "entree" actually arrived last - which we forgave as the set up was more like a cafeteria then a fine dining establishment. We had another dish from Chef Colombaris' selection and it was the Warm salad of squid and chickpeas served with wild greens. served with Hardys Oomoo Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc. I attacked the squid like a crazed seagull at bondi beach, but the chickpeas were too hard for my liking. Demos may have attempted to throw one at my forehead. Why? because he wanted this dessert to himself:

MMM..vanilla panna cotta, ala Gary Mehigan - with roasted apricots and honey. 
This was a delicious dessert and the vanilla flavour was just perfect after our very rich meal, technically - our breakfast. Lucky that we did start early, throughout the day, the restaurant area kept getting busier and busier.

Since we had our energy levels up - we braved the crowds with their bulky showbags and proceeded with the wine tasting. Another Happy Sunday indeed.

Pete Evans is my pizza hero. I credit him with the creation of what I think is Australias' best Pizza - my favourite sunday night treat..the $5.00 pepperoni at Hugo's Bar and Lounge in Kings Cross. He put on a great show -  the smell of the pumpkin and feta cooking drove me insane, as we were right next to the stage! I mean, So what if we hung around after the show was over to see if we could salvage some leftovers? Im convinced that I need a Pete Evans Pizza oven for my birthday. Thats #1 on the wishlist. 

We ended spending a good 5 hours at the show - just sampling food and walking around. At $29 per ticket, you need to plan your day and make the most out of it. There were alot more activities that we missed out on, such as the cheese masterclass, coffee class and even cupcake decoration classes! The early, much more organised birds got the spots. At the end, I was happy with our freebie caramel sundaes from weight watchers. Only 2 points, but who's counting?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pilu at Freshwater

I was bursting with excitement on a Sunday morning knowing I had an afternoon of eating at Pilu ahead of me. "What happens if they run out of suckling pig?" Demos asks. I shuddered at the thought - I couldn't fathom going without the pig. This was going to be the highlight of my week!
It was a blustery day, where anyone would have preferred to stay indoors and hibernate - but in my world these are perfect conditions for an afternoon of Italiano and vino. Demos and I have been wanting to visit Pilu after sampling the oh so memorable suckling pig panini with apple and mustard at the Sydney Taste Festival earlier this year.
We were seated in the middle of the restaurant and even in the middle of winter the room gives that laid back beach house vibe. The dining experience was beautiful in every aspect at Pilu - the view itself was spectacular and so was the art that decorated all of the wall space. It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon indeed.

The SMH Good Food Guide, aka The Bible, votes Pilu as having Sydney's best Wine List for 2010, rightly so because the wine menu read like a beautiful novel. The selection is varied and hosts a good bevy of Italian vino and some very nice Australian wines as well..I think it took as a god half hour to decide.

After pouring over the menu we decided that we should take the time to enjoy the afternoon and get a bottle of wine. We settled on a bottle of red the Dolianova Anzenas; - Cannonau di Sardegna. A fruity red wine from Sardinia, it was just perfect and its always a nice touch when the wine is served from a decanter. So having settled with a wine we moved on to attacking the menu. We decided on ordering the freshly made ricotta with truffle abbamele to start accompanied with the deboned quail and some fried seafood and zucchini flowers as entrees
The freshly made ricotta was amazing. It was very smooth and creamy and the truffle abbemele - a traditional sardinian honey was the perfect complement to the cheese and crispy fried Sicilian bread. Now truffle is something I would liken to crack. I would bathe in truffle honey given the opportunity. This dish ticked all the right boxes for me and I may or may not have savoured every last drop of that delicious abbemele and shooed Demos away when he tried to steal one of the olives. Pane e ricotta $14.00. The chef also sent out complimetary crunchy meatball dish, delish.

Our next entrees very beautiful to look at and to eat. Demos had the de-boned quail that was stuffed with chicken livers, potato, taragon, wrapped in pancetta and served on a bed of eggplant caponata. Quaglia ripiena di fegatini, patate e dragoncello $27 He didn't talk much as he was too busy dissecting the bird like a surgeon to eat. Being so close to the ocean, I had the lightly battered seafood selection with zucchini flower, claire de line oyster, squid and crystal bay prawns. Yet another amazing dish. The batter was not too heavy and the seafood tasted like the ocean. It was a very simple, light and elegant tasting dish. Piccolo fritto di fiore di zucca, gamberi e calamari con maionese $26
There wasn't much to think about when it came to mains. I wanted the slow roasted suckling pig. Simple as that. Demos decided to get the hanger  steak. What a dish though. The suckling pig was arranged on a large plate beautifully. Served with small poached apples, pork sausage and of course the slow cooked suckling pig off the bone, it was a taste sensation. The crackling was crisp and the meat tender. The sausage was well seasoned and I wanted to smother everything with the brown bread sauce. Porcetto arrosto e salsiccia fatta da noi $43
The hanger steak that Demos ordered was just as enjoyable from Demos' accounts of the matter, he attacked it as soon as the dish landed on our table. The dish like the pork was beautifully presented. The steak was very tender and the herb crusted mushrooms melted in your mouth. The porcini cream dolloped on the plate had a silky consistency and you couldn't help but want to use your fingers to lap it all up in the absence of bread. Lombatello con fantasia di porcini e salsina al profumo di basilico $42
As you can see there wasn't much left. And yes, I saved the crackling til last - like it was an award I earned from all of today's eating
How could we say no to desert after such a wonderful lunch? Having room for it was not even the question. I decided to have the Sardinian fried pastry filled with ricotta and sultanas Seadas ripiena di ricotta con miele di tarasacco e melo $17.00 and Demos had the chocolate and hazelnut semifreddo with chocolate sorbet Semifreddo al cioccolato Amedei con sorbetto al cioccolato $17.00 The fried pastry gave me that sweet crisp I am always after, and covered in sweet ricotta made it heaven. The semifredo and sorbet didn't last that long in front of Demos, partly my fault because I couldn't help but keep picking at it as well. 
With some coffees with liqueur  and complimentary petit fours we finished our meal with that feeling of ultimate satisfaction and contentment. Demos tried the Caffè Corretto $6.00 An espresso with a dash of Varnelli Anice - a dry anise flavoured liqueur and I had the Caffè Sceccherato con Liquore $10.00 a cold coffee shaken with Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
P.S the fingers had to come out to finish the job in the end. 
Until next time Pilu - thank you for feeding us! 

Pilu at Freshwater
 'On the Beach' Moore Road, Harbord NSW 2096 Telephone: (02) 9938 3331

View Larger Map

Pilu at Freshwater on Urbanspoon


Related Posts with Thumbnails