Melbourne

Alright, it’s been more than a year, and what a difference a year makes. So what inspired this – basically ET asked me to update and today Trish asked me about Melbourne AND about Tummytay in lecture and during lunch. So why not? And also, I feel like I may never have such satisfying meals for a while since almost every meal was an epic meal in Melbourne and Sydney.

Plus it helps that I have to watch a video in preparation for mediation tomorrow. Obviously I should write a hugeass long post about food instead of preparing for it.. #priorities.

Without further ado, I present:

MUST EATS IN MELBOURNE

1) Coconut-Pandan gelato at Spring Street Grocer
And I thought I tasted the mother of all gelatos in Italy. I was wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. This was *magical*, the pandan and coconut were like pb & jam, yknow? THEY GO SO WELL TOGETHER. Like Britney and Justin. (They are still my OTP. Do not judge.) It was incredibly smooth, with NO ICE CRYSTALS AT ALL – don’t you hate icecream that is icy? AND IT IS SO HARD TO ACHIEVE THAT FEAT. Gelatos for the win. Who needs iceream or any other gelato flavour anyway? This gelato spoilt the market for the other gelatos I had in Melbourne, and none of the others I tried even came close to this. Not even the famous Messina.

2) Fried Brioche at The Hardware Societe

I think I loved this mainly because it was an infusion of all the flavours I enjoyed – rosewater/earl grey panna cotta/fresh raspberries – that reminded me of Pierre Herme’s famous ispahan. Prior to visiting Melbourne I had heard so much about THS (OMG SAME INITIALS AS ME?????) and I was not disappointed at all. The portions are huge, and because the flavours are quite complex, and the brioche is fried, it does get a bit heavy. But no problemo, it just means that you have to eat two dishes so as to alternate between that and the fried brioche. Which brings me to….

BAKED EGGS DEUX at THS.
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This was beautiful. I love baked eggs but I find sometimes the problem with brunch food/eggs is that I can easily replicate it at home. NOT THIS I CAN’T. three baked eggs sitting pretty in a pot full of warm tomato stew, silvered almonds and hidden spinach at the bottom. This really warmed us up on a blustery winter morning.

3) Grilled lemongrass banh mi at Ba’get

One thing I really missed about western nations: their sandwiches. Alright, banh mi is asian… but wowowow. Perhaps it was because Nick and I were RAVENOUS after trekking half of the CBD to get here (so much for me saying “it’s really nearby”. No one should ever trust my direction sense. More to come later). The baguettes were crisp and provided a REALLY satisfying crunch when we bit into em. I also enjoy pickled vegetables so this sandwich really ticked the right boxes for me. The best part: $6.95 for each banh mi. SAY WHAT???? It also stays fresh for a long time because I brought half a banh mi onto the plane home. It was still as great 6 hours later. Dammit sometimes I wish Willy Wonka’s TV were real then I’d be able to reach through my screen and grab whatever food I want and EAT IT.

4) Soft shell crab burger at Hammer & Tong 412
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Hammer & Tong’s logo is reminiscent of the CCCP for some reason (Communist Party), and that’s another reason why I like it. The soft shell crab burger has been talked about so much by the online food community (thank you urbanspoon.) that I think one of the stupidiest decisions I made in Melbourne was to share the burger with Nick. It should not be shared. Period. CRISP SOFT SHELL CRAB, PILLOWY BRIOCHE, and forgettable greens. It was also very light!!! Deepfrying a soft shell crab is not that easy ok??? Alright, maybe the Bill Murray at Lucky Chip has a greater wow factor (hellooooo wasabi mayo + secret sauce, how not to win!?) BUT THIS WAS A GREAT BURGER ON ITS OWN MERIT. Tummytay approves.

5) Original beef burger with the works at Andrew’s Hamburgers

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RLY ANNOYED BECAUSE I WAS SO FULL SO I COULDN’T FINISH MY HALF. Any burger with bacon and egg is also a winner in my books. And honestly? Andrew’s is better than The Royale Brothers whom we made the trek out to Middle Brighton to search out. Don’t know how to describe just how awesome (see, running out of adjectives) this burger is, so please just look above for the gorgeous cross section. Dammit why aren’t burgers this accessible in Singapore? WHY? (Answer: we don’t grow our own cows, that’s why.)

6) Spaghetti Scoglio & Lobster tail tagliatelle at Villa Romana Trattoria
2767No trip to Melbourne is complete without a trip to Lygon Street, even though food has been said to be a hit and miss, cos yknow as places become touristy, food standards just plummet ): But!!! THIS! WAS! SO! WOW! Alright, so the Scoglio was a bit dry for my liking and I felt there should have been a bit more white wine – yes yes I know the irony of this statement considering how alcohol and I are not friends – so as to create a nice vongole type sauce. But hey, I’m not the italian so.. ohwel. Other than it being a bitttt too dry (not ‘moist’ enough. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) it was A GREAT HEARTY DISH OF CARBS AND SEAFOOD IN A HUGE PAN. I would highly recommend this dish; it is pasta done simply and done well. The lobster tail tagliatelle was also for two, but there was a creamy sauce instead, just right to coat the pasta without it being too cloying. We loved it. Maybe a bit more than the Scoglio… but just a tiny bit.

7) HONOURABLE MENTION: Vegie Bar (no pictures though. OOPS.)
Vegie Bar is the kind of place I think Adele and I would frequent if we lived in Melbourne. It is completely vegetarian but in Singapore there tends to be this stereotype that vegetarian food = tasteless rabbit food and that there is a sense of being ripped off paying the same price for a dish that has no meat. I regret not taking pictures of the wonderful place but its menu is quirky and innovative, and EVERYTHING SOUNDED YUMMY – baked mushroom with quinoa!! vermicelli and soba salads, omg. The serving plates were also bigger than my face. Though the interior was dark, and lighting was a bit sleep inducing, I enjoyed the bar concept of it (neon lights! YAY!) and how they have managed to make vegetarian food cool.

8) ONE OF A KIND LOCATION: MART 130


So there was this day we were supposed to meet Ray at this lovely brunch spot in the middle of nowhere (HPSTR ALERT!), called Mart 130. Mart because it’s tram spelled backwards and it is literally right at the tram stop. Like when we stepped off the tram, crossed the tram tracks – I LOVE CROSSING TRAM TRACKS. “You are waiting for a train…” (DOES ANYONE GET THIS REFERENCE) – and there it stands, on the other side of the platform. Alright, silly me didn’t think to capture a picture of it on a digital medium – I have it in film. I think everyone should pay this a visit, I have never seen anything like it before. Just don’t make the same mistake as me and take the tram in the wrong direction (THE TRAM IS NOT TOWARDS EAST BRUNSWICK.) only to realise that we’ve gone in the wrong direction at the tram’s second last stop. #winner

9) COFFEE!

3730Another thing I really enjoyed about Melbourne was the availability of great coffee. I love how serious the coffee culture is and as much as I try to pretend I’m into the whole thing, I only describe coffee as whether it is ‘gao’ enough. The best part is waking up at 10ish everyday and making a pilgrimage to a new coffee spot while Nick sleeps in (what a pig.). I enjoy the peace and quiet that comes with sitting at a coffee joint alone with my coffee and kindle. It is quite a thing to be in a city but yet be able to stay grounded and not lose yourself in it. I love it. My favourite coffee spot was a little bird told me… possibly because it was the nearest to us (ha!!) but also of it’s non-cramped space and open interiors. Brother Baba Budan‘s interior decor was incredibly quirky – a ceiling full of chairs!! but it was a bit dark for and cramped for my liking. Maybe now Singaporean hipsters will be inspired to adorn their cafes with chairs instead of just BICYCLES. Bicycles are so 2012.

Next up: Sydney!!!

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RECIPE (WITH PICTURES): VONGOLE!

A year ago, I sent out this recipe exchange email that Kellie & RJ started:

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which I think is a brilliant idea! Anyway, one of the recipes I got was this vongole one from Melsteph. And finally, after a year, I tried it out with Yu Wen!!! Yu Wen says it was simple and homey and she is currently polishing off all the gravy, which is probably testament to how good it is. Without further ado, I present to you Melsteph’s vongole (with step by step pictures!!)!!









MELSTEPH’S VONGOLE (serves 2)
You will need:
500g of clams
pasta for two (not too much because if you have more, there’s less gravy to go around)
garlic (A LOT)
white wine
coriander
chicken stock
cornstarch (optional)
parmesan (optional)

1. To prepare the clams, soak them for about an hour in salt water. (We did 1.5h) This is to remove the sand that might be caught in the clams. Also, wash them after that.

2. Pour boiling hot water over the clams and let them stand for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, boil your pasta. I like to add a bit of chicken stock to it to give it some jazz. (Yu Wen says, add dashi for umami)

3. While the pasta is boiling, mince garlic & cut the coriander. MULTITASKING FTW.

4. After pasta has finished boiling, drain & set aside. Remove clams from the clam water, KEEP THE CLAM JUICE (V IMPT)

5. Stir fry garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Throw in clams. Cook it till some of them open and are evenly coated with garlic.

6. Add chicken stock (as much as you want) followed by clam juice & wine. Wait till the smell of the alcohol evaporates, which means simmer for a few minutes!!

7. Thicken with cornstarch if it’s too thin for you. (We mixed cornflour with clam juice)

8. Remove from heat. Stir in pasta and some butter. Top with coriander, add parmesan if you want. SERVE IMMEDIATELY. Drink the leftover white wine!!!!

San Carlo (I)

There is a reason why San Carlo is known as the best restaurant in Manchester. It’s simple really, the food is good. I went there on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of exams (yes obviously, priorities..) with my foodie buddies C & T. San Carlo is an italian restaurant owned by well, Italians who really take their food seriously. The service was good, the menu, extensive and the cooking does live up to its reputation.

What I like most about San Carlo is the crazy long list of dishes offered. And the thing is, everything we ordered was good! I can’t say the same for most restaurants I’ve been in though. BTW: I did bring my camera to the restaurant, except it DIED on me before I could take my first photo…

Calvin’s scallops which were a bit spicy…

T’s mussels which were never ending (you could eat this as a main) with such rich sauce which we mopped up with bread that the waiters served us. Well done there, San Carlo. For £7.35, I think this is actually very value for money in such a chi-chi restaurant like this.

Scampi risotto – recommended dish because the risotto must have been cooked in some sort of stock, and in turn this brings out the flavour of the scampi! Very yummy. The prawns, if I recall correctly were a bit softer (but that’s the way it has been cooked).

Spaghetti with prawns

Lobster Tagliolini – a San Carlo ‘classic’. Few things – I didn’t expect them to use fresh egg pasta. I didn’t expect it to be tomato based either.. but I suppose it’s because most places in the UK don’t actually serve up aglio olio style pastas? WHY, I QUESTION ONCE AGAIN, WHY. Nonetheless, other than the peas which I meticulously picked out, this dish was EXCELLENT and worth every accolade that has been dished upon it. A flash of brandy, chockful with lobster chunks and sun blushed tomato, this is a winner. (£17.80)

A selection of desserts, £5.35 pp (min 2 orders)
I can’t seem to find a picture of Tess’ tiramisu, but anyway, this selection of desserts is forgettable. The only one that really stands out is the tiramisu. It is impossibly light and fluffy, and is moist enough. Perfect!!!! Forget everything else, just order the tiramisu.

I’m coming back here again next week for another friend’s birthday & will try more things on the menu then. Nonetheless, I was really full after the meal, even after giving Calvin a quarter of my pasta. I still think about that lobster pasta sometimes…
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San Carlo
42 Kings St West,
Manchester
M3 2WY

Reservations highly recommended. Also, it attracts celebrities if you’re into that kind of thing.

Adventures with Double Chin Chay: Brighton, Dorset & London

Because my old macbook died completely on me. Because I’m using a new Macbook Air. Because I was busy backing up every single file I have/had. Because SCHOOL STARTED and Equity and Trusts is incredibly difficult.. the list could go on and on, but anyway, the most important thing is: UPDATE FROM TUMMYTAY! Tummy Tay and Double Chin Chay went on an epic ~sista~ trip down south before school started, visiting Brighton & Dorset – places that we wouldn’t really go during school term just because it’s too far away (and we would rather go overseas too.) This is dedicated to Tessa who is 1x loyal fan of Tummy Tay cos she kept bugging me for updates!

The best part about both? That they were both coastside towns! So we got to see the sea, something that doesn’t happen at all here in cold and rainy Manchester.


yummy seafood on the pier! £3


cod & chips, £5.50 – this was where i first tried malt vinegar, and it is AMAZING, especially with loads of salt.


PEBBLE BEACH


Local ice cream store! I love locally made products, feel like they’re representative of a city/town’s culture. This ice cream store had really interesting flavours, particularly outstanding was Tessa’s banana icecream, and I had the cinnamon. £2.50


Rock oysters, smoked salmon, crème fraîche, caper breadcrumb salsa, £6.95 for 3


Creme Brulee with Espresso Icecream and Pistacho Shortbread


WEYMOUTH


cod and chips opposite the beach, £5 – incredibly yummy beer batter when hot, but when cold it becomes disgustingly hard 😦


ice cream along the beach, £1.5/2 each


lyme regis beach – home of the jurassic fossils


FLOODS: Monkfish wrapped in bacon, seared scallops – £17


Trio of fish, £17


Bread and Butter Pudding: £4.95

Floods has got to be one of the BEST restaurants I’ve ever dined at (even better than Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen trattoria). It’s homey and warm, well literally. Tess and I were completely drained from the 1.5hr bus ride from Lyme Regis back to Weymouth and chancing upon Floods was.. a GODSEND. We ambled in at 9.45pm and they told us their kitchen was already closed, but would make a special order for us. AND THEY WERE AMAZING. It’s actually really difficult to get fresh seafood in the UK – and biting into the scallops I was incredibly happy! The monkfish was great, who would have thought fish and bacon would go? But the combination worked. The seared scallop with balsic glaze was YUMMY. I also enjoyed the enormous platter of vegetables on the side that came with our dishes. Tessa’s trio of fish was MASSIVE. We nearly died finishing it, and yet still HAD to order a dessert because we saw someone ordering the pudding… and we just had to have it. No regrets there, except the pudding was a bit on the dry side. Nonetheless, excellent meal and.. we were full till the next morning.

One last picture of Weymouth:

Sailing site of the 2012 Olympics!

LONDON

Fifteen Trattoria, by Jamie Oliver.


Seafood Risotto, £9


Mafalde with beef and pork ragu, £10

Um honestly? It was a bit overrated. Nonetheless I will come back just for the atmosphere itself. When we went we were both too full from what we had ate that afternoon at the Malaysian fair at Trafalgar Square. The seafood risotto was well done and filled me up promptly, but I was expecting more? Perhaps it is all hype behind fifteen. However the cause for which it stands for is incredibly noble and I would still encourage people to go just to have a look at what fifteen is trying to achieve.

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, £25 for 2 courses, £29 for 3 courses.
Joel Robuchon was EXTREMELY posh, and the service is very, very good. The waiters weren’t snotty whatsoever, and took the effort to explain each dish to us. (even though they just repeated what we read on the menu HAHAHA). Every table had a tuna pate (was it tuna?) with a biscuit-like toast to begin, and this was amazeballs!!!!!! Zhuoxuan, Fengshuo & Tessa all started with salmon while I chose the eggs cocotte. The eggs cocotte were good, but I felt like I was drinking a bit of foam cos of the texture. I still miss the one I had in France though! The fish with lemongrass pasta stole the show. I don’t know how to describe it except the fish was very well done and the lemongrass went well with the fish? IT’S LIKE HAVING A COMPLETELY GASTRONOMICAL EXPERIENCE MAN. IT WAS WORTH THE ££. Every cent of it! I won’t be going back anytime soon because I’ve got more restaurants to conquer BUT this set menu is a good place to start.

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English’s of Brighton
29-31 East Street
Brighton BN1 1HL

Floods
19 Custom House Quay
Weymouth
DT4 8BG

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
13-15 West Street
London WC2H 9NE, United Kingdom