Ritsy and I went to dinner at MoVida Aqui last month. It was the first time we had been there since the great launch event for MoVida Rustica that Richard Cornish and Frank Camorra ran last year.
The room was packed for a rainy wintry Wednesday night, and the few brave walk-ins were being turned away. This is testament to the MoVida empire.
For the past 3 years it’s been notoriously difficult to secure a reservation at MoVida (the original). Even with MoVida Next Door and MoVida Aqui opening, it hasn’t really changed. Friday or Saturday nights are booked out around 2 months in advance – we were lucky enough to be going on a Wednesday night and they just managed to squeeze the three of us in.
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.
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.
After nearly 5 years our dwarf meyer lemon (commonly known as a ‘lots a lemons’) has finally fruited!
We were beginning to think it would never happen… we’ve had a couple of set backs with our little tree.
The first was nearly 3 years ago when the fledgling plant suffered a major attack of the dreaded citrus gall wasp. It was so bad that my mum told me to throw the plant out! I figured I had nothing to lose so decided not to take mum’s advice & tried to save it…After I cut out all the infected branches that I could we were still left with one major deformity quite near the base of the tiny trunk. I’d heard from someone that if you slit the lump with a knife & coated it in a flour & water paste it could help – amazingly it actually worked – I saved a plant!!!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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