Monday, April 30, 2012

The Unblogged Files: April

Another month, another "Unblogged Files". Let's go!  It was a pretty busy month, food-wise, but not quite as busy as mad March!

This first picture is actually from the last day of March, at The Reading Room Cafe, in the Footscray campus at Vic Uni, where we were meant to meet up with Adrian and Agnes.  But you know what, I got the days wrong!  The email said "Sunday", but I somehow read that as Saturday, and drove all the way to Footscray on the wrong day.  D'oh!  Lucky the staff there were really nice and both the food and coffee were great, so it was worth two trips!

Clockwise from left: Latte, Sweetcorn fritters; Chicken schnitzel sandwich

I loved the crunchy sweet corn, pumpkin and coriander fritters with poached eggs, avocado and tomato chutney, and was very impressed with the generous serving.  We drove back the next day (and yay! it was the right day), and had a great brunch with the guys.

Clockwise from left: Fruit soldiers with passionfruit yogurt and dukkah, BFG French toast with bacon & candied walnuts; filter coffee; Afternoon tea cakes; Banana bread with honeyed ricotta and bananas

I went for a sweet option this time, the deliciously moist banana bread with lemon curd ricotta, fresh banana and toasted coconut.  I also had a taste of Adrian's French toast with candied walnuts and bacon - both were really good!  I wasn't a huge fan of the high tea items, finding the scones cold and dry, and the mini carrot cakes not 'cakey' enough for my liking and oddly sour, but I can heartily recommend any of the breakfast dishes!

My reward for two trips to the Westside in two days was a super-tasty banh mi from Nhu Lan, which I took home for a late-arvo snack.
Roast chicken Banh Mi

This month, I also went to Shira Nui in Glen Waverley for lunch, where three of us ordered the chirashi sushi.  Mmm... check out all that fresh fish!
Left: Chicken Katsu Curry; Chirashi Sushi

The sides were quite interesting too - a cold pasta (tasting quite like spaghetti con cacio e pepe), a gorgeous softly-set chawan mushi and a miso soup with little strips of tofu.
Clockwise from left: Chawan mushi, amuse bouche; miso soup

Whilst we all enjoyed the lunch, we all found ourselves very thirsty that afternoon - there must have been a lot of MSG in one of the dishes, perhaps in the soup, or in the seasoning mix for the rice?

For Easter Sunday, we enjoyed a great lunch at my other friend Adrian's house.  He made a fab garlicky roast lamb with carrots, beans, roast pumpkin and roast potatoes.

Clockwise from top left: Roast lamb with carrots; roast potatoes; beans; roast pumpkin

We stayed til late in the evening, nibbling on hot cross buns from Baker D Chirico and a tsoureki...

Tsoureki; Baker D Chirico hot cross buns

...and finished the night with champagne and some trashy Chinese takeaway.  (And more than a few cold roast potatoes, hehe!)
Bollinger, special fried rice, sweet and sour pork

As I mentioned in my Good Friday post, we've started cooking Szechuan food at home - and guess what?  Sandra makes an amazing ma po tofu!  Better than a restaurant!
Sandra's ma po tofu
And speaking of cold-weather food, we recently rediscovered Thanh Nga Nine, on Victoria street in Richmond.  I love their beef stew with bread, and their vegetable pho is awesome!  (We like it with beef stock, but they do a proper veggie stock as well, which you can request).

Clockwise from left: Bread roll; Beef stew; Vegetable Pho

For some sweet indulgence, we hit up Burch & Purchese.  I wanted to buy everything in the shop, but in the end just (just!) got two cakes and some of their gold-lustre salted caramel chocolate bars.

Goodies from Burch & Purchese

How pretty is this cherry-chocolate cake?  It contained (among other goodies), chocolate and vanilla mousse, a liquid morello cherry centre and chocolate brownie.
Cherry, Chocolate, Cocoa Nib

Mango, milk chocolate, ginger cake
This cake had layers of Jamaican ginger cake, milk chocolate sponge, milk chocolate & mango cream, coconut meringue, mango cream, mango custard and a little chocolate gingerbread man, which had been topped with salted oat and ginger crumble.  (I thought it looked like a teddy bear).  I loved it!

This reminds me, I wanna bake a Jamaican ginger cake at home - anyone got a good recipe?

Whilst both the cakes were good, I must say that the chocolate bars were incredible, with a slight crunch from the salt in the flowing caramel.  It's lucky we only bought three!
Mmm... salted caramel chocolate bar

I also finally joined the Instagram bandwagon, and am already dreadfully addicted.  My user handle is sarahcooksblog if you wanna follow me!  Here are a couple of my retro square pics, from a brunch at Axil Coffee.

Latte at Axil

Baked eggs

I received a sample of Coles spices in the mail from Thrive PR, in this absolutely gorgeous packaging! Pretty, right?
Pretty pretty wrapping

I haven't decided what to cook with these yet, but I'm sure I won't run out of spices for ages now!
Coles spices

In super-exciting news, my friend Adrian (not the roast lamb-Adrian, but Adrian from Food Rehab!) released his cookbook this month: What the Heck is Filipino Food?  Yay!  You can read about his journey creating this book, and details on how to purchase it, in this post on his blog.

Picture republished with permission of Food Rehab
Cute cartoon!  Funny story - when I had my cousin Catherine and Adrian over one day, Catherine happened to see the book on my shelf and, not knowing that Adrian was the author, said: "Wow Adrian, that book looks like you!"  And he replied: "Er yup, that IS me!"

The first thing I made from the book was the Filipino bread pan de sal: sweet white bread rolls covered in breadcrumbs.  They're really fluffy and yum!  The dough was very, very moist, and it was pretty messy work, but I'm told that that's what makes the finished bread rolls so light and fluffy!  So, dust your bench well in flour and get stuck in!
Freshly baked pan de sal

These were great fresh from the oven, slathered in butter, and I've also had them as hamburger buns, as a base for grilled cheese toasties, and of course for breakfast with nutella.

Today is actually my birthday! YAY!  On Saturday night, I celebrated my birthday with friends, having dinner at Koliba Czech & Slovak restaurant in Collingwood, followed by drinks at Kodiac Club.

Clockwise from top left:
Home Made “KRANSKY” Sausages served with Red Cabbage and Mashed Potatoes - $19.90
Meat Platter for Two - Pork Knuckle, Home Made Sausages and Selection of Meat served on a Wooden Plate with Mustard, Pickle, Horseradish and Bread - $49.90
Slovak National Dish “Bryndzové Halušky” - Small Traditional Dumplings with Slovak Cheese and Fried Bacon - $18.90
Chicken ‘CHERNOHOR’ wrapped in Potato Pancake served with Potato Salad - $22.90
Pork Knuckle served on a Wooden Board with Mustard, Pickle, Horseradish and Bread - $28.90

My friends seemed to be drawn to the meat, with the Meat Platter, the pork knuckle, and the pork kranskys all being ordered.  I, on the other hand, was lured by the promise of carbs, and ordered the deeply fabulous chicken ‘CHERNOHOR’: chicken wrapped in potato pancake, fried and served with potato salad.  We also ordered a plate of dumplings served with Slovak cheese and fried bacon to share - all delicious!

Desserts weren't quite as good, but still decent.
Apple Strudel with Sultanas and Ice Cream - $7.90
Chocolate Mud Cake with Ice Cream - $8.90
Strawberries “Romanov” - Diced Fresh Strawberries with Meringue - $8.90
Unlike our last visit to Kodiac Club, we were too full for buffalo wings this time, but enjoyed the cocktails and the laid back atmosphere.  (Did you know that upstairs is a separate venue, with different food and a tequila bar?)
Federation Cocktail - Pepperberry infused 666 vodka, white grapefruit juice, Lillet & White Chocolate liqueur - $18
Today, my actual birthday, has been a relaxing day at home.  This morning I baked some banana scones - recipe from the Raspberri Cupcakes blog.  I literally read the post on my phone in bed this morning, realised I had all the ingredients at home, jumped out of bed and baked them!  Bang!

Banana scone dough
I served them with Bill Granger's honeycomb butter, and they were super-delicious!  (Thanks for the great recipe Steph!) Despite mine being quite rustic looking, they were so light and fluffy, with a fab crust.  They were quite plain-tasting, and really come alive when slathered with the sweet butter.  Steph suggests adding sugar and cinnamon if you don't want to serve them with sweetened butter or jam - I think white chocolate chips in the dough would be a great way to add sweetness too!

Banana scones with Crunchie butter in my Le Creuset cocotte
I also had a spa treatment today, redeeming a voucher that some friends got me for my birthday (yes, I work quickly!)  It was at Endota Spa in Camberwell, and I was so impressed with the treatment and their service!  I'd definitely recommend it.  (PS I was really lucky to get some awesome food-related presents for my birthday; I've uploaded pics to my Facebook page).
Candles... aaaah....

After the spa treatment, I went for a coffee next door to the spa, at Degani.  (I know, I know, daggy, right?)  I wasn't expecting much, and was surprised by how good it was!  And just quietly, the coffee here was much better than some of the trendier cafes that have recently opened up in the Camberwell / East Hawthorn area!
Cappuccino - $3.50
Then it was time for birthday lunch at my parents' place: mee sua birthday noodles...
Mee sua, pork balls, hard-boiled eggs

... and char siew / siew yoke!
MEAT

Tonight we're off for a birthday dinner, so if we enjoy the restaurant I'll be blogging it soon!  Next month is going to be more low key - I've got a dinner party, some blog events, some restaurant visits and a couple of weekends away planned.  Ok, so maybe it won't be low key after all!

8 comments:

msihua said...

Woah you are super busy woman! Loved that you went on the wrong day and went ahead with it anyway :) AND CHAR SIU AND SIU YUK! MMMmm

nzm said...

Happy Birthday!

Hannah said...

Dear heavens how is is even possible for one post to encompass this much deliciousness? Sashimi! Fruit soldiers (cuteness. such cuteness)! Birthday (Happy Birthday again!)! Adrian's awesomeness! All the things! ALL THE THINGS!

Maliha Sassin said...

Your blog is one of the best blogs.
I would like to come back again.
I am sure of that you are also glad to help every other.
Thank you for sharing!
Various Cooking Recipe

Sarah said...

I-Hua - LOL I wasn't going to say no to delicious food! I felt that after the long drive, I *earned* a yummy breakfast. Hehehe

NZM - Thank-you!!

Hannah - Thank-you! I'm actually quite alarmed by how much I ate this month... and this doesn't even include the other meals that I'll be blogging soon! Eep.

xox Sarah

Adrian (Food Rehab) said...

I feel so honored that you made something from my lil cookbook! You've done me proud - the pandesal just looks amazing. You WOK!

BTW...we seemed to have pigged out together quite abit over the last few months hey?! LOL

Sarah said...

Adrian - YAY! I'm glad you were impressed by my efforts! :) And lol, we sure have pigged out together a lot... double YAY!

xox Sarah

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Whew! And I thought I had a busy April! :P