WELCOME!

Welcome to Melbourne Foodie. The blogspace of a young foodie with a passion for cooking, fine dining and quality food and produce. Melbourne Foodie, along with the other sources I write for is my way of casually expressing and recording some of the experiences I have had for others to enjoy. I always welcome any feedback, comments or restaurant suggestions you may have and would love to hear from you soon.

MUST VISIT SOON: Livingroom, Hare & Grace

MOST RECENT FEASTINGS: Pei Modern, Sarti, PM24, Vue de Monde

BLOG OF THE MOMENT: I Eat Therefore I Am

Happy eating,
Jon!




Monday, September 24, 2012
READER COMPETITION: Win Tickets to Taste of Melbourne 2012!
Thanks to the marketing team at Taste, Melbourne Foodie now has 2 double-passes to give away to this years Taste of Melbourne festival at Albert Park. How good is that?

Want to join the party on us?
All you have to do to enter is leave a comment under this post telling us about a great foodie experience you've had, or what it is that gets you get excited about food, and a double pass could very well be heading your way.

Winners will be announced on Melbourne Foodie on Sunday 28th October. Winners will also be notified by email and tickets will be mailed out well before the event, so get interactive, post a comment and you could be joining us for free.

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  posted at 7:59 PM  
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Sunday, September 23, 2012
Taste of Melbourne 2012.... Coming soon!
I don't know about you, but as a passionate foodie the thought of good food and wine probably excites me more than anything else in life. And living in Melbourne I think we are blessed to have some of the worlds best produce, restaurants and passionate kitchens all around us.

I am fairly privileged that I am able to eat at amazing restaurants almost every week and spend much of my free time cooking great food at home, thinking about food, going through my galleries of "food porn" and planning my next little foodie soirée.... Obsessed? Yes, but it is a passion and its what I love; and apparently its now become cool to be a foodie.

Having such a love though does present me with many challenges. Do I try something new this week or return to somewhere I love? How am I ever going to get through my long list of must-try places, and keep up with all the new buzz? So many questions, so many options and so little time....

With all this excitement about food, you can only imagine the pleasure I had in attending the media launch for Taste of Melbourne on Tuesday. Lets just say this years Taste event is going to be massive. 

Now in its fifth year, Taste of Melbourne has moved outdoors and this years event will be held at Albert Park, which I am personally thrilled about. The aim is to "bring a new fun-in-the-sun dimesion to the party". Taste has always had some great food and exhibitors, but I think the outdoor setting this year, and the huge open space is a massive appeal; a lot better than being restricted to the insides of an exhibition centre.

Taste is the city's premium restaurant festival and best of all a great selection of Melbourne's latest, greatest and hottest restauranters will be in attendance cooking up a storm for us to try. This is accompanied by over 100 of Australia's leading gourmet food and drink producers. It's a great chance to access a "taste" of what some of our best restaurants are producing whilst enjoying a fun day out.

I was lucky enough to experience a 'taste of taste' on Tuesday and to mingle with some amazing chefs and restauranters.

Whilst I would love to share more I won't, but here are a just a few little teasers of what I got to enjoy, and what we can expect to see and eat @ Taste of Melbourne this November:

All about the freshness - The Point - "kingfish crudo, horseradish and pommes pailles".















Rose Ang, from Sake does an amazing "wagyu tartare".

Not quite a paella, Movida showcases a medley of seafood in their "fidua pasta".
















Scott Eddington from Mamasita serves up his "elotes callejeros" - the hawker style grilled corn.































The queen of deserts herself, Philippa Sibley from Albert St Food & Wine treats us with her "mini lemon tarts".
    
Pretty as a picture is The Botanical's "yuzu cloud, coconut peral, guava sorbet".

Taste of Melbourne comes to Albert Park this November for four action-packed days from Thursday the 15th to Sunday the 18th of November.

With a massive line-up of restaurants cooking for us at the event, as well as a range of demonstratios and specialty areas from a picnic garden, through to a wine theatre and champagne/ cider and desserts bars there is someting there for every foodie. Taste is producing what should be a spectacular event this year and further aiming to cement its position as being the world's greatest restaurant festival, celebrating here in Melbourne as one of the world's greatest fod cities.

Fingers crossed Melbourne can get its sun out and the weather gods behave for the weekend. I look forward to attending what will no doubt be a great festival, where I can celebrate my love of food with thousands of likeminded others.

For more information including some of the featured restaurants presenting see the postcard below, which inlcudes a special reader offer for discounted tickets and visit the official Taste of Melbourne website at:

http://www.tasteofmelbourne.com.au/

Taste of Melbourne 2012: 15th to 18th November - Standard Entry: $25



Melbourne Foodie readers - Quote "POSTCARD" when booking to receive 2 tickets for $40 - a saving of $10.
 

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  posted at 5:22 PM  
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Saturday, April 21, 2012
Ezard - The Degustation Experience!

"Restaurants like ezard change your perception of the dining experience"
(The Age Good Food Guide).... An old quote, but one that certainly still reigns true today.

Ezard is a restaurant that I will always love. It really is a very special place; special to me, because it was one of the first "hatted" restaurants I had the privelege of visiting when I embarked upon my foodie adventures, back in my teenage years. I remember saving for several weeks back then to build up the funds to go and spoil myself. That first experience was a full degustation dinner, similar to the one I'm going to share with you below.

Since that first gastronimc adventure I have continued to visit Ezard, perhaps three or four times a year; and to be honest not a lot has really changed, nor should it have.

The restaurant has however undergone some minor face-lifts over time and the menu has gradually evolved and become sharper, more creative and more refined than ever before. Like a good bottle of wine, Ezard has become that little bit better with age.

Ezard use to be termed a "Modern Australian" restaurant, a term which is now overused. The cuisine here is creative - it relies upon the freshest local produce, and fuses various differnt cooking styles, techniques and flavour combinations from around the world, to create a unique and memorable dining experience. Today we often term this stlye of food as "Contemporary" but this is so much more.

Chef Teague Ezard describes his food as "Australian freestyle" - a term I love. He says "the most obvious influences are the traditional dishes of the great Asian cuisines, including Chinese and Thai."

Ezard showcases true fusion cooking. "Fusion may be an overworked word, but the food it describes is not."

I am going to keep this review brief - and instead provide a very brief snapshot of each dish from the current Degustation Menu - needless to say a sublime meal was had. On this occasion we decided against the matched wine flight and chose to enjoy a bottle of Ten Minutes by Tractor "Estate", a luscious "new world" Chardonnay which perfectly matched the early dishes, followed by glasses of a beautiful Cotes Du Rone & Pinot Noir which assisted the enjoyment of the latter "meat" courses.


The Degustation Experience (April 2012):


Japanese inspired oyster shooter:
A signature dish on the ezard menu for many years. Here sits a fresh shucked oyster, in a sweet, but racey flamed off sake/mirin/chilli dressing. To finish a rice-noodle nori roll..... One was simply not enough - so we had another couple each afterwards.






 












Vodka and citrus cured salmon, beetroot crisp, finger lime, wasabi aioli and shiso cress:
Gorgeous, sikly salmon segments, with a creamy aioli, sweet betroot puree and crisp. A very elegently executed presentation.
 


















Steamed blue swimmer crab dumpling with yarra valley salmon roe, celery cress and tom kha:
By far the most peopular entree on the menu we are told. The description speaks for itself. A pefectly steamed dumpling, filled with a sweet crab meat farce. The plate is filled with beautiful, bustling salmon pearls - which just "pop" in the mouth and finished with a silky, luscious, spiced tom kha broth at the table.
 



















Asparagus, persian feta and witlof salad, poached quail egg, hazelnuts and soft herbs:
A beautiful light salad. Robust goodness from the quail egg, that oh so creamy persian fetta and the dill atop helps balance all the flavours.
 



















Coconut grilled ocean trout with asian gazpacho, heirloom tomatoes, creme fraiche, hot and sour salad:
Perfect roasted trout which just falls apart, a light semi-sweet gazpacho, and of course the hot and sourness from the chilli-herb salad balanced with the creamy and refreshing creme fraiche.
 




















Char-siu quail with mandarin pancake, lime and cucumber salad and roasted rice:
A little bonus for us. Small segments of deboned, roasted quail meat, beautifully sweet and sticky. A rice-paper mandarin "pancake". A tangy salad provides that extra "Asian" element and the roasted rice provides a textural "crunch".
 



















Slow cooked bangalow pork belly, apple pudding, fennel, white peach, calvados jus:
Sweet, gelatinous goodness. Apply pudding is your puree and the calvados jus adds some extra richness and "wow" to the dish.




















Chinese style roast duck, green chilli and oyster sauce dressing with coconut rice and asian greens:
Another menu stalwart, and one of my favourites which has undergone some minor changes to keep up with the times, but kept the same major elements. Roasted, pink, tender duck breast slices sit atop the oh so sweet coconut rice and lightly wilted greens. Finished with a chilli-asian salad and sweet potato crisps and a light/sweet/spicy dressung the dish is simply a winner - and remains a favourite with regular punters for good reason.
 
 


















ezard dessert tasting plate to share:
Would you really want to finish off a magical meal any other way. Six sublime deserts including an indulgent chocolate and passionfruit torte, pistachio frangipane and my all-time ezard desert favourite - the oh so delivious "honeycrunch icecream" resting upon a toasted gingerbread snap and finished with a sweet sugar swirl.... Heaven!



















After eating here regularly for the last eight years Ezard remains my favourite dining destnation in Melbourne.... A very special restaurant; and thankfully one I can now access on a more regular basis. The food is always creative and impressive. You always feel comfortable, and the small basements space feels spacious, even if the tables are rather close. Another big drawcard is Ezard's service, which is faultless; perfectly balancing professionalism with passion, knowledge and witt - the ingredients for success.

Ezard received a score of 17 out of 20 in the 2012 Age Good Food Guide and was awarded Two Chefs Hats, a status it has held for the last five years, before experiencing three. Its been running strong since 1999 and I think it is worthy of Three Hats, but maybe I'm just a tad bit biased.

MY RATING:  18.5/20 - Food 9/10 Service 5/5 Ambience 4.5/5 - Truly one of Australia's great dining destinations. 

http://www.ezard.com.au/

Ezard on Urbanspoon

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  posted at 8:57 AM  
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Sarti Ristorante
Sarti can probably be described as a very Melbourne restaurant. You walk up a small staircase into a bustling dining room - there's a bar in the middle of the room, where one can sit and have a drink and tables (inside and out) around the room. Its noisy and buzzing, but still pretty casual; and the service probably reflects this style. Personally I don't really like being referred to as "mate" or "buddy" by a maitre de when I'm going out for a nice meal, but that withstanding, the staff do know their stuff, and make an effort to please, even if it does involve five different waitstaff throughout the course of a meal.

To be fair I have visited Sarti twice over the past six months or so, and they were two rather different dining experiences - the food on both visits being quite impressive, but I guess the service is what really made the difference; the first episode being far too laxed, whilst the second being simply flawless from start to end. Episode one was also a little hit and miss with some of the food; whilst the second take was completely on the mark - so I guess as long as the mix of variables is right on the evening you are destined to do very well.

The menu at Sarti can best be described as modern Italian and is broken into pastas, smaller and larger plates and sweets. From everything I have read and heard about Sarti before and after my visits, the consensus seems to be that the stuzzichini (shared small dishes, like entrees) are the way to go: where you can structure a meal that will deliver on taste. The mains and pastas are consistent enough, but it is these smaller plates that best highlight the kitchens' creativity and these dishes were largely the basis of my experiences.

Here's a look at some of the hits you might enjoy:

Zucchini Flower: A gorgeous tempura battered zucchini flower filled with a delicate, shredded crab meat farce - light, crispy pefection.




















Shallow fried calamari, pickled cauliflower ‘giadiniera’, tartare foam:
Beautiful tender pieces of calamari coated with a crispy polenta crust. The fritti sit on a bed of pickled cauliflower shreds and a light tartare foam, providing two different layers of acidity to break up the dish. The only downfall- excessively salty, but still very much enjoyed.




















Calabrian Chilli Crab:
Crispy pieces of fried crab meat, resting on sweet stewed peppers. Not for the chilli-shy: This one really packed a punch.



















Tempura Crab Claw:
Gorgeous, fresh, sweet crab meat served with a chilli-salt- Simple prefection.



















Gyoza filled with 'cime di rapa', saute of morton bay bugs, basil seeds:
A really nice pasta dish- lots of delicate flavour, perfectly cooked and pretty as a picture. Again, difficult to fault.



















Sauteed venison liver with caramalised onions and chickpeas:
A dish I should have loved & really wanted to love - but ultimately a failure. The liver was requested rare, but served cooked right through to an unpleasant level. A replacement dish had the same issue and for me was inedible. Apologies were made - and the dish no longer sits on the menu.



















Braised veal cheeks, purple cauliflower cous cous, prosciutto consomme, black rice:
Another dish thats certainly not shy of the sodium, but the flavours were really beautiful. The most tender veal, parcelled and resting atop the toasted rice and other accompanishments, finished with a clear salty prosciutto broth poored at the table. A well executed main plate.



















Chocolate and Orange:
Frozen candied orange, blood orange granita, chocolate sorbet and so much more - The bitter and sweet elements worked so well against each other to create a dish which was stunning in both aesthetics and taste. A very passionate waiter guided me through the preparation of the dolce, including the granita: house-made from fresh blood orange juice the restaurant imports from Italy.


















White chocolate and native pepper cream, vin cotto, peanuts, apples:
After consuming several bottles of vino I can't remember too many intimates about this one- but needless to say it was lighter way to end the meal, and well enjoyed.



















Overall I think Sarti is undoubtedly a great dining experience, where you can enjoy some excellent food in a casual (and noisy) environment; with service which is knowledgable, but relaxed. You could certainly call it a very "Melbourne" dining experience, but for me I don't quite know whether it is consistent enough to be hat worthy - the first take was miles off, whereas my second visit suggested the restaurant certainly deserves its accolades. I guess more research on my part is definitely necessary before I can make a final judgement - well thats my excuse for wanting to head back soon anyhow.
Sarti has been awarded One Chefs Hat and a score of 15/20 in the Age Good Food Guide between 2009-2012.

MY RATING (based on both visits): 14.5/20 - Food 7.5/10 Service 3.5/5 Ambience 3.5/5

http://www.sartirestaurant.com.au/

update: September 2012 - I have now eaten at Sarti another 5 times and have enjoyed amazing food and good, professional service on every occasion.

NEW RATING: 15+/20  - Food 8+/10 Service 3.5+/5 Ambience 3.5/5

Sarti on Urbanspoon

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  posted at 8:22 AM  
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011
The Vegie Bar (Fitzroy)
There is always something great about walking into a restaurant where a certain buzz factor exists. It may be the reputation or hype of the venue, or perhaps the presence of a celebrity chef in action. Then again it can be the simple joy of witnessing the smiles on every patrons' face as they sit down conversing and enjoying a good meal in a fun, hip setting. This is definitely the case when you visit the Vegie Bar, where you'll join an eclectic mix of young and old whom all seem to be loving the food and generally having a blast. The Vegie Bar is a unique venue in a sense, positioning itself as a healthy vegetarian eatery delivering high quality food at low prices. It undoubtedly meets its vision, offering patrons a diverse menu of vegeterian and vegan fare which will surely satisfy vegos, as well as the(normally meat-eating) masses.

Upon entering, one immediately immediately feels at home as you are greeted by the friendly, casual staff who seem to love their jobs: definitely a good sign. I happily take a seat at one of the large newspaper and magazine scattered communal tables at the front of the the venue and am presented with a menu, and left to ponder for a couple of minutes. The menu is fairly broad with a selection of smaller and larger dishes including a range of Asian-style dishes, pizzas and some more inventive fare.

I start off with a couple of the small plates. First up is a "Siamese Samosa" which has a warm mushy filling with just a hint of spice. The pastry is flaky without being greasy and it is sided by a fresh tomato dipping salsa. Most enjoyed.


The other starter I sample is the rice balls. They are just crisp outside with a softer filling made up of white rice and a fine dice of vegetables. The balls are finished off with a peanut satay sauce which provides a nice balance to the dish, as well as a few rocket leaves for crunch. Once again, quite satisfying.


Moving onto mains I probably choose one of the less adventurous options in the "Vegie Roast", interested to see what their interpretation would be. The dish is presented well and I am not dissapointed in the choice. What you get is not just a pile of vegies that have been baked and thrown on the plate. Each of them has had their own preparation, some exhibiting sweet caramalisation, others having been marinated or gently confit. A selection of root carrots, potatoes, pumpkin and zucchini sit atop a bed of baby spinach and rocket leaves and the dish is finished with a range of seeds for crunch and texture. The accompaniments include a good hummous and some toasted foccacia for dipping. A very generous plate of food, which again I cannot really complain about. If anything though I would have liked a mushie or two to be thrown in the mix.


After a short break I decide that I am persuaded into trying one of the house-made cakes to end the meal. There are a range of delectable choices available on displau including a vegan offering in the Chocolate Royale. What I'm presented with is a huge slice of sheer chocolate indulgence. It is rich, moist and oozing with a runny chocolate centre, as well as being smothered with a silky ganche and flaked coconut. It has some serious yum factor, and the one slice will comfortably treat two people after a meal - I personally winded up playing with it after a couple of bites, making a right mess. The soy hot chocolate to accompany my dessert is OK, without being particularly praise worthy. I'd possibly have been better with one choosing an organic chai.


The Vegie Bar is located along busy Brunswick Street in Fitzroy and has a diverse menu which is sure to have somehting to please everyone. Cheap, cheerful, casual dining - you really can't go wrong.

www.vegiebar.com.au

Vegie Bar on Urbanspoon

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  posted at 3:22 PM  
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Skinny Dog Hotel (Kew) - Melbourne's biggest Parma!
The Skinny Dog hotel continues to offer what is one of Melbourne's biggest Chicken Parmagiannas, and possibly also one of its best.

It has been a couple of years between visits but last weekend called for a lunch trip out to Kew, and how could we go to the Skinny Dog and not order their famous parmie. $25 gets you a gigantic oval plate sized parma - good quality chicken breast, a nice herb crumbing, good napoli sauce, shaved ham, fresh basil leaves and heaps of mozzerella goodness - not fine dining but satisfying nonethless. Chips and salad are served with this beast - but as the picture dominates - its all about the parmie itself, and it was good - leaps ahead of the equally huge beast I remember demolishing a couple of years back. For those not so brave a half serve is available for $15, as well as a range of other menu options. The only thing I worry about is consistency, as friends visit here a lot and from what I here it can range from being average to excellent. Anyway - worth a shot I think.


















http://www.skinnydoghotel.com.au/

Skinny Dog Hotel on Urbanspoon

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  posted at 1:18 PM  
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Name: Jon!

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