Author Archives: Donny

Three Bags Full at home

Three Bags Full Coffee Jar

We have been buying the Three Bags Full house blend for our espresso machine of late. It’s roasted by Five Senses Coffee and is delicious with milk.

It’s also quite cheap – $8 for a 200gm jar refill (the first time you have to pay an extra $2 for the jar itself).

We first visited their cafe about 2 months ago for breakfast – and were instantly hooked on their coffee – it was so good and chocolatey that we had to have two of them!

Breakfast is pretty reasonable there too, with a pretty good variety of things to eat – from the straight forward Eggs Benedict, Scrambled / Poached / Fried eggs on toast,  Porridge – to more gourmet options which include Poached Eggs with Prosciutto, Parmesan and Truffle Oil.

The Fat Boy wasn’t quite right…

Whilst we had the utmost success with the Fat Boy in the beginning, as the Propane cannister emptied out it started to behave quite unusually.

Although it still worked perfectly fine when it was standing upright, when it was turned upside down the super-hot blue flame turned into an over-oxygenated yellow flame – which meant that it wasn’t blowtorching things properly anymore.

I did some research and found out that this is a common problem as the cylinders empty out, and that you actually need a regulated blowtorch nozzle.

After searching online, I found a suitable model – also sold at Bunnings – the TS3000T. It comes in a pack with a propane cannister, under the code TS3000, which cost about $68.

Cuisinart MP-14NA Food Processor

We had been thinking about getting a decent sized food processor for quite some time now. As good as our Cuisinart Mini Prep is for smaller tasks (see our writeup here), it’s obviously impractical for the bigger jobs.

Having being blessed with the almighty Robot Coupe R301 Ultra in most of my previous commercial kitchens, I knew that I would not be easily satisfied. Budgetary requirements prevented us from spending upwards of $2000 on that piece of luxury – which meant that I had pretty much decided on the Sunbeam Cafe Series LC8900 food processor – which retails for a more modest $399AUD.

The World’s Top 100 Restaurants

Gentle braise of sea scallops, pearl oyster, rock lobster, lettuce hearts, cucumbers, lobster velvet, oyster cream, pea flowers

I was looking at the San Pellegrino World’s Top 100 Restaurants list for 2010 (1 – 50 here, 51 – 100 here), and was surprised that Ritsy and I have actually been to 4 of them.

4% of the top 100 restaurants isn’t all that many in the scheme of things – but considering a night out at any of these restaurants (especially in Europe and America) can cost $1000AUD, it’s not too shabby.

Here’s our thoughts on the ones that we have been fortunate enough to dine at.

Number 15: Le Bernardin

We went here for dinner in 2008 (was it really that long ago!?). It specialises in seafood, and has held 3 Michelin Stars since 2005.

When Restaurants Go Mad – Pearl and the iPad Menu

Pearl Restaurant, one of the best dining experiences in Melbourne, has perhaps lost the plot – and it’s not the chef that is to blame.

I read an article in The Australian that Chris Lucas, the new owner of Pearl since last year, has spent an astonishing $40,000 on five months worth of software development costs for what can only be described as gimmickry.

They are replacing the traditional paper menu’s with iPads. Oh how Steve Jobs will rejoice. $40,000 is a lot of money in the restaurant world. It’s enough to pay a waiter for a whole year. That’s not including the cost of the iPads, which are currently $629AUD each for the cheapest model. Apparently, they will only have 15 of them – at an additional cost of $9,435.

Lau’s Family Kitchen

We booked a table at Lau’s Family Kitchen on a Tuesday night as we were heading out to The Palais to watch the Rockwiz tour show. They have two sittings there for dinner – one at 6pm, and one at 8:30pm, so we opted for the 6pm start.

After battling through horrific Punt Road traffic, we parked at The Prince hotel carpark. Fitzroy street parking is notoriously difficult to get, and the parking limits are retarded for a street that is basically lined with restaurants (1/4P, 1/2P in most parts…). The Prince has about 300 spaces and will cost a maximum $10 for an evening, so it’s a good choice.

Gilbert Lau was the owner of the much lauded Flower Drum in Market Lane, Melbourne. He opened this restaurant shortly after retiring from his post at the Flower Drum, and it’s clear that his philosophy of great food and superior service still stands.

Hutong Dumpling Bar, Prahran

Our second visit to Hutong Dumpling Bar, Prahran, left a slight taste of disappointment in our mouths. Although the service has improved, the food seems to have gotten worse.

We started off with some Duck San Choi Bao, which were pretty tasty and very generously portioned. They obviously expect you to make a mess with these as you are handed a wet refresher towel (in a packet, like the ones KFC has except slightly fancier). I still prefer the class of a nice warm cloth hand towel.

We then received some Szechuan Pickled Vegetables, which were good at cutting through the heat from the rather nice Chilli Wontons that also arrived at the table (easily the best dish of the night), along with the Xiao-long-bao (soup dumplings).

Mini Pavlova, Donny Style

This has to be one of my all time favourite desserts, and it’s a snap to make. It takes me about 5 minutes from getting all of the ingredients out, to having the meringue mixture in the oven.

My recipe is based off the ever handy Margaret Fulton Cookbook. I cook them for a lot less time, as I prefer them to have a slight chewy texture in the middle. This recipe makes enough meringue mixture for two good sized mini pavs.

Just make sure that the mixing bowl is completely dry, and the egg whites have no yolk in them whatsoever.

Ingredients 1.5 large egg whites 1/8th teaspoon Cream of Tartar 1/2 cup Caster Sugar 1/2 cup Cream Fresh fruit for the topping Method Preheat the oven to 120 degrees Line a tray with baking paper, or if you have one, just use a Silpat Beat the egg whites in a kitchenaid or similar mixer if you have one, until the egg whites are a bit frothy, but have not changed color to white Add the Cream of Tartar and continue beating until stiff peaks form Gradually add in all of the sugar – aim to have added in all of the sugar no sooner than 1.5 minutes. The mixture should be smooth, and the sugar should have dissolved thanks to the Cream of Tartar Turn off the mixer, and spoon out onto the Silpat / baking paper – you should have enough for two portions Place the tray in the oven, and set a timer for about 45 minutes

Stir-fried Crabs with Chilli Jam

Yum!

Last night we made Stir-fried Crabs with Chilli Jam, from the Longrain book Modern Thai Food.

Preparation for this dish was made simple considering we had already made Chilli Jam for Longrain’s Tom Kha (this was over four months ago!). The book recommends that the Chilli Jam is kept for up to 2 months, but I think it can be kept for about 6 months no problems. They are probably just covering themselves against a lawsuit I guess!

We bought four Blue Swimmer crabs from Prahran Market – which ended up costing us $18 – less than the cost of an entree in most restaurants. Once we had the crabs, we went to The Essential Ingredient to pick up some seafood crackers and crab / lobster forks so that we could make the most of the feast we were about to indulge in.

First, we steamed the crabs for 7 minutes. Once they had cooled, they were ready to be cleaned up. This involves ripping the top part of the shell and the “tail” off, cleaning, and cutting them in half.

The dish is surprisingly straight forward. Fry off the garlic, chilli, and kaffir lime leaves, add the chilli jam & stir fry sauce, add the crabs, cook for a few minutes, then toss through the spring onions and some thai basil.

Vin Cellar

We had dinner at Vin Cellar on Friday night. This was Ritsy’s second dinner here, and my third, thanks to an awesome work function last year.

We sat down in front of the open fire at the back of the restaurant, and started proceedings with a couple of glasses of Veuve Clicquot. There are not many places in Melbourne that you can get a glass of champagne for $16.50, let alone Veuve Clicquot. This is the Vin Cellar style.

Their wine philosophy is probably best explained by quoting their website:

At VIN we love our wine. VIN boasts one of the most prolific wine lists in Melbourne, ranging from Old World Burgundies and Bordeaux, to back vintages of iconic Australian brands such as Giaconda, Rockford, Wendouree and Bass Phillip. All our wines are offered at competitive bottle shop prices, with an additional cost of $5 per bottle to drink in.

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