Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Afternoon Tea at Piggery Cafe, Burnham Beeches

Afternoon Tea Table, Piggery Cafe

Piggery Cafe
1 Sherbrooke Road
Sherbrooke, VIC 3789
Ph: (03) 9691-3888
Website
Piggery Cafe on Urbanspoon

You may remember when I first went to Shannon Bennett's Piggery Cafe for lunch, back in July, I told myself (and y'all) that I simply had had had to come back to try their afternoon tea. Well, it didn't take me long to organise another visit, and on one of the first warm Sundays of spring we took a little road trip with Ashley and sweet-toothed Daisy to try it out! (You know, on my previous visit, when I saw the afternoon tea table, my first thought was: "Oh my God, Daisy would LOVE this!")

We arrived at two thirty, which is when the afternoon tea starts - good driving, Sarah! - and it didn't take us long to get a seat. (At that time, there wasn't a queue and there were some free tables, but it took some time for the host to appear and seat us - it seemed like they were quite busy despite it not being full to capacity.)

So, the afternoon tea. For $25 per person, you receive a selection of five savoury items, "Chef's Selection" of cakes from the cake display (which you see above), scones with jam and cream, and unlimited hot drinks (coffee, tea and / or hot chocolate). That is a huge amount of food, and incredible value! We also ordered a bowl of house-made fries to share because we're greedy!

Daisy and I both got the Valrhona hot chocolate, which was rich and chocolatey, and came with a house-made chocolate marshmallow. I don't often have sweet drinks, as I find them a bit sickly, but I totally loved this and happily drank the whole cup. (I was pleasantly surprised that it was included in the afternoon tea offering seeing as it's $5.50 when purchased separately).

Valrhona traditional hot chocolate - $5.50 purchased separately, included in the Afternoon Tea

Cappuccino - $3.80 purchased separately, included in the Afternoon Tea

The platter of savoury items was very impressive. Unfortunately they didn't tell us what the individual items were - similar to our last visit, the food was just placed down on our table. Each item was of a very high quality, and I'm sure a lot of work and thought went into making them all, so it seemed like a bit of a shame not to explain what they were.

The savouries

From left to right we have quiche (tuna, I believe), terrine with pickle on baguette, a beautiful garlic dip with hunks of grainy bread, smoked salmon roulade on black bread (their Facebook page tells me that this is smoked trout on squid ink brioche with fennel), and hot mushroom pasties. My favourites were the mushroom pasties, with their flaky flaky pastry, and the moreish garlic dip - I kept going back for more! (With apologies to everyone in the car with me on the way home).

Here are the cakes we received. Again, no explanation provided by the waitstaff, but I figure that the items were: pistachio canelé, coconut macaroon, mini chocolate ganache tart, frangipane tart (with candied orange slices), carrot cake, and baby pink macarons.

Chef's Selection of Cakes

We thought we'd be getting lemon meringue tart as well (there had been a beautiful platter of them on the afternoon tea table), and when we asked the waitress about it, she said she'd go in and get some. However, she came back out and explained that the afternoon tea cakes were "Chef's Selection", so you essentially just get what they choose. This wasn't a problem, but it would have been great if this had been explained to us when we made the order, as we'd seen the lemon meringue tart on the table and had really been looking forward to it! However, seeing how cheap the afternoon tea was, we didn't think it was worth making a fuss. If you visit the cafe and see anything on the afternoon tea table that you really want, I'd suggest specifying this when you place your order.

The highlights on the cake platter were the pistachio canelés, with their custardy innards and burnished chewy-crisp edges, and the fragrant coconut macaroons. I thought the carrot cake looked beautiful, with its very precise corners and sloping edges, but found it too sweet, and would have loved a sharper cream cheese icing. I wasn't a fan of the candied orange slices in the frangipane tart either. (Although this is simply a personal preference, and nothing to do with the quality of the tart).

Both plain and fruit scones were provided, and they came with lightly whipped cream and jam (orange, I believe).

Scones, whipped cream, orange jam

These were really good - fluffy and light and the perfect dainty size. I liked the hint of spice in the fruit scones, and although I normally prefer super-rich double or clotted cream (55% fat and a buttery top crust? Yes please!), I found that the lighter whipped cream matched the fluffy scones really well, and was particularly nice on a warm spring day.

Scone time

The chips were great, but obviously we did not really need them with all that other food we had!

House made fries - $8

We had so much fun at Piggery Cafe - we spent a long and relaxed afternoon giggling and chatting, enjoying the warm weather, the sun, and the views of the grounds. At some high teas around town, you're rushed out for subsequent seatings, so we really appreciated that we could keep the table for as long as we liked. The food was delicious, and we couldn't get over the excellent value.

I feel like the service doesn't quite match up to the food - yet! Even though every waitperson we dealt with was very friendly and polite, we still had some minor quibbles with the service, like the lack of explanations with the food, and difficulty flagging down waitstaff. Hopefully these small issues will work themselves out as time goes on, as I imagine that Piggery Cafe will only get busier throughout spring and summer. I still think it's a great venue and definitely worth the drive out.

Thanks to Daisy and Ashley for roadtripping and indulging with us!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

LBSS Cafe


A little while ago, the owners of LBSS Cafe invited me to try out a meal, on them. The menu online looked interesting and a bit of fun, and I love any excuse for brunch, so I was definitely in! 

LBSS Cafe
385 Victoria Street
Abbotsford, VIC 3067
Ph: (03) 9427-8818
Little Big Sugar Salt - LBSS Cafe on Urbanspoon

LBSS (which stands for "Little Big Sugar Salt") is located in the heart of Vietnamese town, on Victoria St - the hipster cafe certainly stands out amongst all the pho joints and Asian grocers! The building looks like it used to be a house, with lots of individual rooms, mismatched tables, funky artwork on the walls, and even a selfie station in the bathroom.

Cutlery!

Cutlery station

I would describe the menu as trendy but not taking itself too seriously - the drinks menu includes hipster staples like almond / soy milk coffees, coconut water and kombucha, whilst the food menu includes lots of gluten free, dairy free and vegetarian options, with a healthy selection of "superfoods" like açaí and quinoa thrown through. But also bacon. Lots of bacon.

Drinks menu

Almond milk latte - $4.30

I thought the visit would be a good opportunity to try an almond milk latte, something I hadn't ever had before. I can't say I was a huge fan, finding it a bit grainy and thin. I don't think this is because there was anything wrong with the almond milk itself - I believe they make the almond milk themselves! - but simply because almond milk-based coffees aren't to my taste. (I quite like Bonsoy, especially in a hot chocolate, but other than that it's always full-cream dairy milk in hot drinks for me!) Having said that, next time I'd be keen to try their hot chocolate with almond milk, dates and cacao, as the flavour combination sounds nice.

Scram + ham - with bun + relish - $11

Sandra ordered the "Scram + Ham": a lightly toasted brioche bun with tomato relish, crispy bacon and scrambled eggs. Simple but perfect.

I was severely tempted to get the Ron Swanson, and not just because I ADORE Ron Swanson! LBSS's namesake dish is a triple-decker croque monsieur, "a veritable bacon-wallet of Gruyère, bechemel + slow-roasted pork hock + egg". Sounds amazing, am I right? However, I don't think any number of squats or sled-pushes could undo the calorific damage of all that cheese, bacon and bread! Instead, I went for something a little healthier, but still decadent: the "Freekakes": freekah, sweet potato and currant cakes with cashew cream, chilli jam, wilted kale and eggs. I added extra ocean trout gravlax too.

Freekakes - Freekeh, sweet potato & currant cakes with cashew cream, chilli jam, wilted kale and eggs - $17
With extra ocean trout gravalax - $6

I really enjoyed this dish - the freekeh cakes were slightly crisp on the outside and nice and soft on the inside, and the gravalax wasn't overly salty, with a pleasntly soft texture. I wasn't entirely convinced by the slightly grainy cashew cream - I'd have preferred a plain yogurt, but obviously I'm sure those in the dairy-free brigade would appreciate it. It was a generous serve too - even without the added gravalax, this is a seriously hearty and filling dish!

We enjoyed our meal here so much that we tried to bring my mum here for her birthday lunch a couple of months later, but it seems that it's gotten really popular - the cafe was packed and the queues were nuts! Unfortunately we didn't have time to wait, but I'm still looking forward to going back at hopefully a less peak time and trying more from the menu.

Sarah and Sandra ate lunch as guests of LBSS Cafe.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Strawberry Oat Breakfast Crisp

Strawberry Oat Breakfast Crisp

Springtime, yay! Amirite? I have so been looking forward to warmer weather and longer days! I'm totally loving it! Now that the strawberry season is starting I'm finding myself buying a few punnets each week. These days I generally eat them plain, or sometimes with chocolate, but this strawberry oat breakfast crisp was a pretty fabulous way of using my weekly strawberry haul.

This particular recipe is adapted from Megan Gordon's wonderful book: Whole-Grain Mornings, but a strawberry crisp with an oaty crumble topping is a pretty common recipe. (Check out this Yummly page I came across for further proof!) I've seen heaps of variations online - baked in pie dishes like a crumble, in individual ramekins, in skillets, or as bars, topped with ice-cream, and even in raw / vegan / gluten free versions. This version is definitely breakfast - it's not overly sweetened, and quite hearty, with whole almonds, almond meal, wholemeal flour and oats in the topping. It is a real treat of a breakfast though!

You start with strawberries, washed, hulled and halved, which you toss with a bit of vanilla sugar and cornflour. These gleaming red jewels get tumbled into a pie dish.

Strawberries

The topping is best made in a food processor - you grind up whole almonds, almond meal, wholemeal flour and oats, with some rich brown sugar, and a touch of baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. I love the oaty nutty wheaten topping!

Oaty wheaty nutty topping

Some cold cubes of butter and tangy buttermilk help the topping to come together.

Mixed with butter and buttermilk

The sandy nubbly mixture gets tumbled over the strawberries...

Ready for the oven

...before being baked to a golden crispy brown. The strawberries underneath cook down and bubble up underneath.

Strawberry Oat Breakfast Crisp

Strawberry Oat Breakfast Crisp

I don't always like cooked strawberries, finding them a bit mushy and bland, but in this recipe they roast in the oven and their flavour is intensified. Totally gorgeous!

Single portion

Strawberry Oat Breakfast Crisp with Greek yogurt

I like to serve this strawberry oat breakfast crisp with creamy sharp Greek yogurt on the side. Perfect for a springtime breakfast! Enjoy!

Strawberry Oat Breakfast Crisp
Adapted from Megan Gordon's Whole-Grain Mornings

Ingredients
For the filling:
350 grams strawberries
30 grams caster sugar (vanilla sugar if you have it)
1.5 tablespoons corn flour
For the topping:
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup whole almonds
1/4 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1.5 light muscovado sugar or brown sugar
Pinch of salt
Pinch of nutmeg
45 grams cold unsalted butter, chopped into small pieces
2 tablespoons buttermilk

Method
Preheat the oven to 190C.
To make the filling: Wash, hull and halve the strawberries. Toss together with the sugar and cornstarch, and place into a 20 centimetre pie dish.
To make the topping: place the almond meal, almonds, flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, muscovado sugar, salt and nutmeg in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times, just to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the buttermilk and pulse a few times to combine. Tip the mixture out into a bowl and rub it between your fingertips to make sure it is combined evenly.
Pile the mixture evenly over the strawberries. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and the strawberry juices are piping hot and bubbling.
Serve with Greek yogurt.
Serves 4